Friday, March 16, 2012

A Very Heart Felt Moment I Want To Share With You

If you have been around a while than you have gotten to know me at some point. You may have been with me on my ups and my downs. You might have gotten to know that I am a genuine kidda guy that is doing and living at the level of self sufficient that I choose to do. I share my mistakes because I make them, I am keeping it real. So I am going to put my feelings right out here, not for judgment, but just because that is the kind of man that I am.

I went to the old farm I was raised on yesterday alone. I decided that I was near there looking at a job and I just wanted to stop in and have a look around. The last visit I had was with my family in tow and I was shocked to see what had happened to the farm. I didn't know what I was thinking about how it would look 5 years later, I was just excited to get there...

Breaking the law isn't something I consider, but I crossed over the sign and continued my way towards the barns. Down near where the chickens once scratched under the brush, I decided to sit and think about what I was looking at. I never thought my emotions would run so deep with a passion of love for a place. But if there was going to be a place that could make this 41 y/o cry, that farm would be the place.

I think as a man we might try to pin point what makes us who we are, maybe it isn't gender based. All I can say is, living on that farm and how we lived made me into what I am today. It wasn't just the good times, it was all the times. I can't say how many times I walked up the hill to pick Mom out a switch because I was gonna get it for something, and if it broke while you were getting it than she made you get another one.

The days of working before school feeding the animals, gathering eggs, milking the goats on the stand. Scratching the pigs because we knew they liked it. Showing some love to the pigs just before they were killed. Watching them mate and understand how life really was. We made sling shots from old bike tubes, played bows and arrows use cherry wood and fly fishing string and dried golden rod stocks for arrows. The giggles and childhood care free of running around.

When winter came, it gave a whole new twist on the farm land... Teenage sledding riding tradition would be carried on!! Runner sleds, pork fat, snow ramps, busted noses and face plants. Sometimes it would be a all day event, we would come in ready to drop.

In the summer, it was gardening, getting ready for the fair. My sister would walk with her pigs with a cane teaching them how to walk for the county fair. On time my step brother and I chased her around with a pigs head, she could take it, she cried and laughed at the same time. Kids fight, and I had my share of fights with all the other kids.

We once had a duck that swam backwards, yeah I know imagine that. He stayed in the pond a few weeks, and after saving his life from the pond pipe a few times, he had passed away from that fate. I spent that summer out in a tent in the yard, every night. I'd sneak up and have a taste of beer from the pony keg of Iron City Beer always found on a ice block on the back porch.I'd go listen to my walkman playing my tapes and just stare into the vast dark, city light spotted night sky.

As I stood in the doorway of the barn where I hung my head out the window during neutering time, I saw the barn, just for a moment, as it was back then. I began to softly cry, and it felt good as I was alone and I knew I had to come to terms with how sad it was for me. I could hear my giggles echoing down the hallways and the smell of those stinky pigs. I would be mad some days when we had to clean up the stalls, I wanted to be out running in the fields and in the woods playing Grizzly Adams. But, I knew during harvest time I had to drag those trash cans down the row of beans.

That small piece of broken down land, left to go back to the soil in which she was built on, defined me as a man, as a Modern Pioneer. It was the place where the soil gave back to us, and hard work gave results. It was a place where children played and cried, where mornings were cold and ice patterns were on the inside of our windows. It had a huge cast iron tub and the bathroom was pink. It was a place where we would sit outside to eat dinner and we would have real conversations and adults would discuss farm issues. They would depend on us for information on how the animals were doing.

I wish that old farm was still up and running, but I am as happy with being the last family to live there too. Tomorrow I will return back there to take some gates down and bring them back to my own homestead to use. I will have to come to terms with such a great loss and keep going forward with everything I learned there, what was instilled in me as a child.

Monday, March 5, 2012

How To Grow Onions

Onions are one of the most popular vegetables for growing in home gardens and are one of the first crops of spring. They can be stored over winter thus making a versatile crop They are used in a huge range of culinary dishes,both raw and cooked.

If adding manure or composted organic matter then add a few weeks before sowing / planting out.
Onions can be planted from seed or from sets (small partly grown onion bulbs). Sets are more expensive but they tend to be more reliable in their results and also require less work - no thinning and reduced onion fly risk.

If sowing from seed then sow in holes about 1/2 inch deep with about 5 inches between seeds. If sowing in rows then space the rows about 10 inches apart.

The soil should be moist before sowing so check the soil the day before sowing and water if the soil is dry.

If planting onion sets then they can be planted around Mid to Late March. Again space rows about 10 inches apart. Sow sets around 5 inches apart as they shouldn't require any thinning. Dig a small hole for each set and place the set in neck upwards. When covered back up with soil the tip of the neck should just show through the soil surface.

Spring onions (scallion) can be sown from April and planting should be staggered every few weeks to ensure a continuous crop throughout the growing season. Onions will grow in most climates and are frost resistant.

Onions will grow in almost any soil from sandy loams to heavy clay. The soil should be firm. If your soil is heavy then you can introduce some organic compost or manure into the soil to help its moisture retaining properties. Onions prefer a slightly acidic soil - PH 5.5-6.5 is a good PH for growing onions.

Frequently weed between the onions by shallow hoeing, onions do not trap much incoming light due to their sparse leaf forms so weeds can take full advantage of the available light.

Onions are ready to harvest a week after their tops have started to fall over and are yellowed. Use a small shovel to lift the onions out of the ground. Take care not to damage the skins as this invites decay organisms in to attack the onion flesh.

Onions should be harvested on a sunny day, cleaned of any soil still attached to them and then placed on top of the soil where they will dry out with the help of the sun and wind.. Leave the onions out for a few days,until the tops dry out.

Remove the tops with a sharp knife about 2 inches above the onion top so that decay organisms do not have direct access to the onion bulb.

Discard/use any onions that show signs of decay or damage as these can affect healthy onions if they are stored .

If you want to store the onions over winter then you can cure them by hanging them in a well aired place (such as from the roof of a summer house veranda). Mesh bags or strings can be used to group and hang the onions and they should hang for about 3-4 weeks.