Tuesday, November 11, 2014

last day before the freeze

The wind was intense today. It scoured the tiniest weeds from the soil, knocked out power to the farm, and added wrinkles to my face. Alaska's big storm is on its way to Oregon, and with below-freezing temperatures forecasted for tonight and freezing rain coming by Thursday, I got myself out to the fields to bring in the last of the peppers and stock up on some other possibly frost-sensitive produce, like cabbage.

peppers in November?!
heat for the soup pot!
beautiful Marner cabbages
My plans to mulch the garlic with the gorgeous (and gourmet) straw I bought from Naomi's was thwarted, however, when I realized that any mulch I put down today could end up spread out over the entire farm by tomorrow. So that task was left for a calmer day. At least I got the bales set out along the bed before the ground re-muds itself.

mulching mission: impossible

Lotus garlic already up!
One good way to spend a blustery day is inside. So once I'd done all I could do in the fields, I headed into the barn, where I was finally able to finish the job of shelling Vermont Cranberry, the last of my beans that were taking up space on the barn floor. I still have more beans to shell, but at least those are picked from the plants and neatly stowed in feed bags. I can work on them at home, maybe in front of a movie!

The bean-shelling project is one I've decided to call One Task, Many Tactics. I already posted some pictures of the first method, the Bean Dance, which was the most fun. I've also spent some relaxing days shelling beans by hand while listening to audiobooks. Not the fastest way to get the job done, but it works. Today I finished with a tactic I learned from my neighboring farmer, John. I call it Beating the Beans. (As John noted, maybe there's a reason "threshing" sounds so much like "thrashing.") Basically, it means taking a handful of beans plants and whacking them over and over against the sides of deep wheely cart that John loaned me. For lack of a better name, I'll call it the "box cart."

the work to be done: box cart with beans in the background
the box cart was salvaged from the downtown Meier & Frank!
proper hand grip for thrashing
after the thrash
The first day I tried it, I learned that this tactic is best done while wearing a dust mask and ear plugs. Better equipped today, I got through all the beans, only to realize at the end that because the power was out, I couldn't winnow them with my table top fan as usual. I thought I might try to do it the old-fashioned way, using the wind. Unfortunately, the wind had other ideas. It refused to blow only in one direction, and the higher gusts were fierce enough to blow the beans right out of the bin along with the chaff.

it seemed like a good idea at the time
Luckily, by the end of the day the power was back, and I finished the job with my boring old fan.

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