Friday, September 25, 2009

Last Snow of Summer

There is no question that this has been a weird summer. June arrived with a dry cold that keep the grass from growing, seeds from germinating, and any fruit from setting on the tomatoes, peppers, squashes or most anything else. Summer exited in a flurry of snow, wind and cold rain that had woodstoves going all through the Valley.

I pride myself in my tomato and pepper production skills. I start several heirloom types in April and transplant the seedling to my little greenhouse in mid-May. In the past my plants have blossomed quickly, set fruits by the end of June and we are eating homegrown tomatoes and peppers by the end of July. We usually have enough to eat throughout the season and freeze for the winter. Not this year. In June, my little plants just sat there – no growth, no blossoms, no fruits. Finally in July they started up but it wasn't until late August that any of the fruits even started to ripen.

Just when I thought I might get some edible tomatoes and peppers, winter arrived on the last day of summer. Realizing there was no way I could protect my plants through four or five nights of 20 degree temperatures, I picked all the unripened tomatoes, put them in a box between layers of our local Wet Mountain Tribune, and put the box in the pantry. I’ll check the box every week and pull out the ripened tomatoes to enjoy for several months.

There is a local joke that the only month you have to lock your car while you are in town is August. That’s because everyone is looking for ways to get rid of their excess zucchini and an unlocked car is fair game. After stopping at the feed store, library or local market, you are apt to find a great load of zucchini on your front seat. But this year my summer squashes completely failed to produce edible fruits. All that I could find after the freezing summer nights were a few tiny squashes which I left for the local squirrels.

Fortunately we did have some agricultural success this year. Once the weather warmed up our irrigated pasture kicked into gear and produced enough beautiful grass to feed eight yearling cattle for the summer. Mid-way through the summer the heifers enjoyed a visit from a young bull (their inexperience reminded me a little of college) and the girls are now pregnant. The heifers belong to a neighbor and have returned home for the winter. In exchange we get some hay from our neighbor to feed our horses. All in all, a good trade.

From Fleur Creek Farm.

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