Saturday, July 30, 2016

On a cooler Afternoon....

As anyone following this blog knows we try weird things....plants that are not main stream and have "Character". The HUGE Incan corn is one of these experiments.

I was picking corn for supper, the old variety Country has character too and like us is non-conformist. It is a shoepeg corn so it does not have neat tidy rows of kernels. The kernels grow any which way!

The cobs are long and thinner but full of wonderful kernels, not a sweet corn but a regular corn that tastes really good with salt and butter. The stalks are tall, at least 6 feet or more and they have two sometimes three cobs of corn per stalk.
Some of the Country Gentleman corn

Anyway it happens to grow next to the Incan corn....Yurackkallhua Incan Giant Corn that is!
Its  kernels are bigger than a penny and it needs a very very long season but we thought we would try it anyway.
Photo from Baker Creek Seeds.
 Well it is a strange plant and is heading past 12 feet in height, the enormous stalks have strange rootlets growing in stages at the base to make the plant stronger.
Here is a photo of two sets of the well into the ground and one started at a plant joint about a foot from the ground and just starting to dig in.

This is a set of rootlets just starting to grow, they are about two feet from the ground.

 Here you can see the huge leaved stalks of the Incan corn. We did not have great germination but we were pleased we got some to start.

Here is one of the Incan corn starting to tassle. This stalk has two small cobs just starting to grow...small is relative as they are about a foot long!

It is fun to watch this rare plant grow. We suspect we have had cross germination as it is in the house garden where we were not as concerned with seed purity as fresh eating. Next year we have big plans for this big corn, a secluded isolated patch in a corner of the farm no where near anything else.

The Litchi tomatoes are still growing hideous thorns! It is also growing scads of tiny cherry sized, thorn and husk covered fruit!
We look at them and wonder when they will start to ripen and then we wonder if welding gloves will be enough to deal with the thorns. The chickens avoid the row of Litchi like the plague and even the cottontail rabbits go around them!

It is a bit cooler today and the poultry is enjoying it, out in the yard much earlier to graze and gossip around the "waterer".

The ducks....yakking around the waterer......

The poults love shade and they are enjoying both. From the car they will fly up into the oak tree and that leads to climbing as far up as they can. It is pretty horrendous to watch them when they decide to fly to the ground from the highest point the get to!

 This is the view from Ralph's computer room. It has been interesting to watch the view change, from a fresh broken new garden area, to little corn sprouts and now this wild and crazy corn patch!

We are struggling with the heat and humidity as I am sure a huge amount of the country is. The locals here say this is an unusual summer, wetter and way more humid than normal. We continue to learn about the climate and soil, how the weeds come along and what new and huge weeds we have here. We are enjoying eating our own produce and I am canning and freezing for the coming winter. The afternoon seista has become normal to us as has working after supper until dark when is it much more bearable. As anyone on a small farm or homestead knows there simply are not enough hours in a day but we would not trade what we are doing for anything.

God Bless you all and keep safe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Well it is official we are surviving without air conditioning. It has had its moments but overall it is doable. With air management in the house and watching the temperature outside we can sleep at night and get some things done during the day. However the next while will be a real test. Daytime highs in triple digits and high humidity.

 The chickens laying has dropped off and I cannot blame them. They vanish for the day around 10:00 am and go to places shady or in the breezeway of the barn. Then as if by magic they reappear briefly around 2:00 pm and tank up on water, vanish again to return at 4:30  or so to graze and catch bugs. They love the windfall apples and my organic bug control of Japanese Beetles.  I check the corn twice a day, morning and night, I was picking the beetles into a bag then feeding the chickens. They found out where I was getting them and now they follow me to the corn and devour any beetles I find. The chickens are demanding! Beetle snacks NOW!

 In the Breezeway, avoiding the worst heat.

A hen in the shade of the Tobacco barn just out of the breezeway.

Most of the Barn Swallows have hatched a second clutch of babies and it is pretty amazing to have no mosquitos and very few flying bugs of any kind around the farm buildings until you see all the swallows perched on the fence. There are 5 nests in the rafters of bay two and here is the latest set of hungry mouths!


The Hummingbirds are loving the new feeders. There were no feeders here before and now we have a huge amount of Hummingbirds whizzing and buzzing around our front porch.


Our squash row is doing well....we ran it full length of the south garden, 200 feet of different varieties. They can vine out into the field and  not overwhelm the garden itself.

There are Golden Hubbard, Blue Hubbard, Potimarron, Pennsylvania Crook Neck,Thema Sanders,  Gutamalen Blue, Pink Banana, and Candyroaster to name a few.

Yes the Godzilla of Tomato's, the Litchi, are doing especially well. None ripe yet but when they start ripening its going to be a good test to see just how useful and tasty they are. There are loads of tiny fruit on these unusual plants.

25 gallons of our apples have been processed into juice, sauce, pie filling, apple butter and dried snacks. There are many many more apples to deal with and the windfalls are being gobbled up by the poultry. They love the bruised and slightly soften apples on the ground. Plus it is nice and shady under the apple trees, often with a light breeze that makes the humidity much more bearable.

On that note it is time to refill the dehydrator and get back to work.

God Bless you all and be safe in these troubling times. Remember to keep hydrated and watch your salt need more salt when you sweat as much as we do in his crazy weather.

And just a bit of duckness to brighten your day!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

It's been Interesting!

The weather is bizarre, it was getting dry and we needed rain, then we got rain and its still raining. The  humidity is unreal but the poultry seems to be handling it quite well. The gardens....well lets say I loath Johnson grass and anything with rhizomes!

We are paying attention to the soils and the way different areas handle rain or dry. There is a surprising amount of variation on this farm. The chicks are turning into teenagers and the hens are cutting them loose! Well except one hen who now seems to care for all of them!
Auntie Turkey still watches out for her 6 chicks and if you see her you can be sure the chicks are close by.

Some of our experimental plants are turning out to be most interesting. The Litchi Tomato for one. The literature said it had thorns....its like the hawthorn of the tomato world!

It is Ralph job to weed them....there are even thorns on the undersides of the leaves. The other interesting thing is the flowers are just like potato flowers!

They are stocky, sturdy plants and are supposed to reach 5 feet in height, they are setting lots of tomatoes, no ripe ones yet. They are supposed to be like a cross between cherries and tomatoes.

I have been processing apples, the Three Stooges, Blackback, Spike and Trainwreck are a big help! They took shelter with me during a heavy rain and it was like farmers at the feed store, they did discuss the weather!

Our crazy corn selection is doing well despite the wind blowing it around. One day it leans south, the next north, it is quite straight between storms and some is well over 6 feet tall. The Country Gentleman and the Oaxacan Green have two and the odd one three, cobs per stalk.

The herb garden is a joy, I have to say it is such a convenience to go out and get fresh herbs to cook with, that is when I can get into the garden without sinking in the mud! One of the turkey hens was up to her dainty little ankle's in it the other day and made us laugh when she came out with mud up her legs then she looked at her feet!

July 2nd, Herb Garden.
The basil's are tasty additions, so far I find the best and least bolting to be the Lettuce Leaf basil, the Sweet Genovese and the Spicy Bush. I love the Sweet Genovese  but the Lettuce Leaf comes in a close second. The Thai Basil, Lime and Cinnamon basil's went to seed so fast in the heat it was frustrating.

July 6th, Herb Garden.

Of course it wouldn't be right to have a post without chick pics! They are dong so well and are out and about the second we open the door in the morning. They forage for bugs and are not a bit shy about being around us, not as tame as the originals that were hatchery chicks but quite friendly but more independent. The hens raised them that way and they never spent any time penned, not one pecking incident or pasty butt! It is an enjoyable way to watch chicks. Now we can tell the crosses.
The Buff X Australorpes are quite lovely and have more of the Buff disposition. The Buckeye X Australorpes are quite the individualists and are an interesting color, mostly black with very deep mahogany tints if the sun is right. They have Black combs. They are also very hard to get photos of!

A Buff X Australorp pullet. 

The Buff hen who baby sits the chicks. This is the every day ritual preen on the steps of the deck, it is like they wear watches because it is within minutes of 8:40 each morning!

Now I have to get the Apple Butter canned and another batch of apples in the dehydrator. Apple pie filling is on the too do list and I think we will have an apple salad for lunch!

The rain is coming in again so we are catching up on house work and shop projects but the gardens are going to be jungles if it doesn't ease up soon. It is the most frustrating thing, some people are struggling with too dry and we have water to share. The way growing things has been for eternity!

God Bless you all and stay safe!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Spy's Who Sold Out The United States......A Ralph Post

This is my opinion and conjecture. I spent twenty years in the Marine Corps. My last jobs were in cryptography. Cryptography is the encoding and decoding of messages.

In 1985, I went to Okinawa, Japan for a one year assignment. In 1985, John Anthony Walker (we called him Johnny Walker Red) was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union. 

He was associated by name with Johnny Walker whiskey.

Johnnie Walker Red Label is our Pioneer Blend, the one that introduced our whisky to the world. Highly versatile and with universal appeal, it has a bold, distinctive flavor that shines through even when mixed. Johnnie Walker Red Label is now the best-selling Scotch Whisky around the globe. (

He was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union from 1968 to 1985. He was sentenced to life in prison. He was in cryptography in the US Navy. He was selling crypto codes. Many were top secret. He heavily damaged the security of the US.

George Trofimoff was convicted on September 27, 2001 for spying and sentenced to life in prison.

Ronald Pelton was sentenced to life for spying.

Earl Edwin Pitts was sentenced to 27 years.

And the list goes on. And on. And on. Spy’s are caught and convicted and sentenced to prison.

Times change. The age of the internet and cell phones. Is spying still dead drops and meetings in dark alleys? I doubt it. It doesn’t make sense to do it that way any more. In this day and time, send photos and messages via phones and the internet. Safer. Use burn phones. Harder to get caught.

Or, easier still, install an email server and let the security on the server be lowered. Then, your “friends” can hack your server and see everything and take what they want. You are innocent. You were hacked. You had nothing to do with the theft. You have deniability. You are just an innocent victim of circumstances!

Which brings me to the main course of this meal: Hillary. Judicial Watch Director of Research and Investigations Chris Farrell on the latest in the Hillary Clinton private server scandal.

Huma Abedin was deposed last week by Judicial Watch attorneys as a result of a court order. She did not plead the 5th amendment. During Chris Farrell’s interview, she revealed that as a result of another court order, the State Department admitted to dropping the anti-phishing and spam filters on Hillary’s server so her server could communicate with the State Department. This also makes it easier to hack.

A Romanian man admitted to hacking her server. How many others hacked it? How many governments hacked it: like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran? I’m sure North Korea would have liked to know in advance where the US government stood on sanctions, military actions, negotiations, etc. How about Iran and the nuclear negotiations started under her and finished by Kerry? China and the possibility of trade sanctions? Russia and our stand and/or direction on Ukraine or European trade sanctions? Etc. Maybe Nigeria wanted to know about our oil production and future prices for their oil? Saudi Arabia would be interested in our thoughts on their bombing Yemen. That server impacts us to the rest of the entire world – no matter who they are or their relationship to us, friend or foe!

Again, no dead drops or dark alleys, just hack my server! Intentional or unintentional, does this constitute aiding and abetting the enemy? Is this spying or stupidity? Either way, I don’t want someone that sells our country out to our enemies as President!

The Clinton Foundation was getting millions from foreign governments and associates. And still is. What are they getting in return? Our secrets? Access to Hillary’s server? Just go ahead and take whatever you want! Just send your money to this account!

Spying is not just a man’s game. Marthe Mathilde Cnockaert was sentenced to life in prison. Ana Montes was sentenced to a 25 year term in prison. Hillary’s not the first woman to be nominated to run for President and she would not be the first woman spy. 

Yesterday, Hillary went down to the FBI to be deposed on the email server thing. I read a comment that I can no longer find. It suggested that Bill met Loretta in Phoenix to get a copy of the questions so Hillary could bone up on her answers. Only one place, only one time I heard this. Also, the comment said she dismissed all staff before she and Bill talked. She didn't want anyone to see or hear what was going on? Also, The Wall Street Journal said that no prosecutor (Loretta) would meet with a spouse of someone being investigated or prosecuted. Loretta did! Loretta is an attorney. 

Weather is not the only thing getting me hot these days. Go beyond the headlines and look at things thoroughly. This is our future, your future. Take control, or brush up on your Mandarin. 

May God give you discernment and wisdom.