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Our first ever plums!  On the left is a Mount Royal, and the other is Superior, both off of Plumsy, our !FrankenPlum!

Our first ever plums! On the left is a Mount Royal, and the other is Superior, both off of Plumsy, our !FrankenPlum! Tree…

It is that time of year again here in the northern temperate climate of Minnesota when we start to see the abundance that pours forth from a well loved and tended garden.  Ripe tomatoes off of the vine, apples that will soon be picked, bags full of potatoes, and another successful harvest of garlic curing downstairs.

It seems like every spring I have reservations about the year to come – things like too much rain or not enough, how bad are the Japanese beetles going to be this year, or is a gigantic wind storm going to take out my fruit trees; and each year I am surprised by what happens and what thrives or what  completely fails.  But regardless of the overall outcome, we have always had something good to eat this time of year.  That is one of the benefits of planting a diverse garden, packed with the  many varieties of plants we have available to us.

This is a shot of the Superior plum. It was the best plum I have ever had, and I can not wait to have a whole tree filled with these little orbs of bliss sometime in the future!

This is a shot of the Superior plum. It was the best plum I have ever had, and I can not wait to have a whole tree filled with these little orbs of bliss sometime in the future!

When we diversify our gardens, regardless of the weather or pests, we can almost always insure some kind of harvest.  Right now, if I were so inclined too, I could walk out into the gardens and prepare any number of dishes using beets, cabbage, carrots, collards, kale, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, onions, swiss chard, green beans, a wide range of cooking herbs, eggs from our chickens, and if I felt like stealing a bit of honey from the bees, that as well.

This is not me trying to brag, but more to show what is possible when we decide to grow food, and not lawns!  Yes, it takes some work.  Yes you may get strange looks from your neighbors (but also gain some allies as well).  And yes, you will eat better and feel the benefits of joining the ranks of us crazy Urban Homesteaders!

As far as our gardens are concerned, self sufficiency has never been the goal.  For me the thought of trying to be self sufficient in food, whether that be in a city or a rural setting is a mute point.  The only way to be truly self sufficient is by building and living in a community that is based on mutual aid and respect.  When we can respect our neighbors and lend a hand when one is needed, than we can talk about being self sufficient, or more appropriately, self reliant.  Growing food is one of the ways we can start to build these kinds of communities, and start the process of reclaiming our culinary traditions.

For the rest of the essay I am going to highlight a few things already mentioned, the food that we receive from our generous gardens this time of year.

garlic

Here is a shot of some of the garlic we grew this year. We ended up with close to 250 heads, and almost all of them were as beautiful as these!

Garlic – Here at the Dead End Alley Farm we have been growing garlic for about 8 years.  The first couple of years were pretty rocky with very meager results.  But with a bit of homework, and some  perseverance,  we have now grown great garlic for the last five or six years.  Right now we grow 7 varieties – Chesnok Red, Georgian Crystal and Fire, Killarney Red, Marten’s Unknown (rescued from my neighbors garden), Mitachi, and Siberian.  All of these are hardneck varieties that are well suited to our northern climate.

Garlic deserves its own essay here at Autonomy Acres, and someday I will get to that one, but for now I will leave you with this.  Garlic is a heavy feeder.  I devote a large percentage of my homemade compost to my garlic planting every fall.  So if nothing else, I know that wherever it is that I plant my garlic, that space also gets a huge addition of organic matter and nutrients once a year.  Two books that have been influential concerning my love affair with garlic have been Stanley Crawfords A Garlic Testament and Chester Aarrons Garlic Is Life.  Both are more memoirs rather than growing manuals, but they are great reads and may get you addicted to growing garlic, just like they did for me!

Tomatoes – These do not need any introduction.  The whole world loves them, and for great reasons.  They lend themselves well to many different types of cooking.  They can be blanched and frozen as whole fruits, chopped and prepared as fresh or canned salsa, or cooked down into the classic sauce that fills the shelves of so many of ours root cellars.

These were harvested as I wrote this essay.  There is a mix of Big Ivory, Black From Tula, Hungarian Oxheart, and two Russian heirlooms that I have lost the name on.  All of them are great eating!

These were harvested as I wrote this essay. There is a mix of Big Ivory, Black From Tula, Hungarian Oxheart, and two Russian heirlooms that I have lost the name on. All of them are great eating!

For the last few years we have grown on average about 15 tomato plants, some years more, some a little less, but that usually yields us about 15 quarts of canned sauce along with quite a few pints of canned salsa.  That does not include what we eat fresh, or what we provide in our CSA shares throughout the late summer.

Tomatoes should be a part of any homestead garden, if only for the taste and beauty that they add to fresh summer meals.  Stick to heirlooms, but don’t turn down a good hybrid or two for early fruits.  Be diligent on lite pruning and trellising, and you will be rewarded in bountiful harvests!

baggedpotatoes

These 3 bags of potatoes hold close to 80 pounds of spuds! Not bad for a $10 investment!

Potatoes – Potatoes, also known as Earth Apples, are a staple crop here at our city farm, along with the garden we have been establishing at my in-laws an hour west of St. Paul.  I my opinion, they are the best bang for your buck crop.  Seed potato is cheap, and if given the right environment, will thrive and more than triple its mass in return.

This year at our “country” garden, we planted three rows each with five pounds of whole “seed” potatoes planted offset in rows about 15 feet long.  We ended up harvesting close to 80 pounds from those three rows!  Talk about a real investment!  Once again, potatoes are heavy feeders, so any compost, manure, and mulch that can be set aside just for them is well advised.

We also have a number of potatoes planted here in the cities this year as well.  They take up two of our raised beds and were planted with pre cut potato “eyes”.  As of right now the jury is still out on how well they have performed, the plants are still green and robust so we will allow them to be for now and keep growing into the early autumn.  Otherwise, potatoes are a great staple crop that can be grown in smaller spaces and provide a lot of calories that we can not get from other garden variety crops.

So to sum things up in this installment of Autonomy Acres, plant, plant, plant!  Grow whatever, and wherever you can, and realize the abundance that can be had with a little time and effort.  I am going to finish this short essay with one of my favorite youtube videos, a short piece from a South African farmer by the name of Jo Dyantyi.  I can only hope to have his outlook on life someday!  Happy harvesting Amigos y Amigas … Peace & Cheers

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Figs in Minnesota!!??  Stay tuned for more details!!

Figs in Minnesota!!?? Stay tuned for more details!!

The fruits of our labor are starting to show themselves.  Everywhere in the garden that I look, I am seeing fruits and vegetables that are ready to eat, or soon will be.  Tomatoes and zucchinis, strawberries and raspberries, kale, and cabbage, and peppers.  But more exciting than that are some of the perennials that have been planted over the last five years or so.

 

I began to plant fruit trees in earnest about five or six years ago and have continued adding to the count every year.  I started out with a few apple trees and a cherry tree.  That first year I planted a Meteor cherry, Ashmead’s Kernel (which was chewed in half), Haralson, Rubinett, and HoneyCrisp apple trees.  Since then many more apples, cherries, plums, apricots, cornellian cherries, mulberry trees and other perennial fruits have been added to our foodscape.

 

When we plant annual vegetables, things like a tomato or a pepper or a kale plant, we reap the harvest in the same season.  Our culinary desires are realized in one summer of photosynthesis and our hard work of weeding, mulching, trellising, tying, and pest control pay off in the fall when we start to eat whole meals that come right from the garden.

 

But fruit trees are a little different.  They are slow growing, and mature at their own pace.  Sometimes they get chewed in half by a loving (but stupid dog – sorry Harvey!!), or they get planted in a bad spot and get moved three times before they find their final home.  Fruit trees are a test for us gardeners of how patient we truly can be and how well we design our forest gardens.

 

For myself the wait and patience is starting to pay off.  This is not the first time we have harvested fruit from our trees, but this year on a few of our trees we are starting to realize the abundance that our future holds for us!  Each year we have harvested a bit more than the last, and with each season the fruit improves in quality (most of the time).  A good place to start is our cherry tree.

 

A bowl full of Meteor Cherries!  They were delectable in homemade muffins for breakfast!

A bowl full of Meteor Cherries! They were delectable in homemade muffins for breakfast!

Over the last three years or so we have harvested a handful of cherries each season.  Although last year was a complete loss due to a fungal infection, this year, whether it be climate conditions or the tree starting to reach maturity, the tree has bounced back and we have had the best harvest we have ever seen!  While it is still a drop in the bucket compared to what we can expect in the coming years, the cherries we harvested this year were in almost perfect shape.  Very little damage from pests, and the fungal rot that appeared last year was virtually non-existent this time around.

 

Meteor cherry, described by Michael Phillips, in his book The Holistic Orchard is

 

“Montmorency x Russian variety, introduced in 1952.  Large, oblong, bright red fruit.  Juicy, dense flesh.  Natural genetic dwarf grows 8-10 feet tall.  Large leaves help shield fruit from sunscald.  Requires less pruning than average. Resistant to leaf spot. Spur type. Zone 4-8”

 

This description is fairly accurate with one major difference – ours is well over 10 feet tall.  I have done a lot of pruning over the last three years, but mainly just to open up the interior for airflow and access for sunlight and harvesting.  I suspect that in the next couple of years we will start to see the full potential of this tree for two reasons.  First is that we now have bees on our property.  I believe that our fruit trees have suffered because of inadequate pollination, and second, which goes hand in hand with the bees, is that I have grafted two other varieties, namely Evan’s Bali and Northstar onto our existing tree to aid in that pollination and also planted a Mesabi cherry in close proximity to the Meteor.  Many cherry trees are said to be self fertile, but having another tree(s) of a different lineage will definitely help out in proper pollination.

 

Here are some of our Haralsons.  There will be much pie consummed this fall!!

Here are some of our Haralsons. There will be much pie consummed this fall!!

Moving about 20 yards west of the Meteor cherry is our Haralson apple tree.  This was planted the same year as the cherry and this year it is finally showing us what it is capable of.  Though it is one of the oldest apple trees on our property, it is also one of the smallest.  But do not let the size of the tree fool you, this tree is loaded with greenish orbs with a blush of red starting to show that will be finished ripening in the next two months.  There are so many apples on this tree that I am probably going to have to put some support stakes into the ground to keep some of the overloaded branches from breaking (and this is after doing a major thinning out of fruit early in the season!)

 

Haralson was introduced in 1922 from the University of Minnesota fruit tree breeding program and was named after Charles Haralson, head of the program at the time.  It is an all around good apple, mildly tart that is good for fresh eating, for baking, or as an excellent cider apple.  Throughout the years Haralson has become a Minnesota classic and most orchards have dedicated space to this apple tree.  I am glad that it is a part of my small orchard and it is finally coming into maturity!

 

The White Niagaras!  I can't wait to taste them!!

The White Niagaras! I can’t wait to taste them!!

This year also saw the addition of three grape vines planted along a south facing privacy fence we have running through our yard.  They are using the vertical space provided by the fence and are part of a guild that contains apricot trees and strawberries.  We planted three varieties – Catawba, Concord, and White Niagara and all three are doing great, but the White Niagara is by far the most vigorous.  It has put on almost five feet of growth over the last few months, and has a small bunch of grapes ripening as well.

 

Grapes are a new plant for me and I have much to learn as far as proper pruning, disease, and pest control goes, but I am excited to have finally found a good spot for them, and even more excited to eat them!  I also wouldn’t mind trying my hand at some winemaking as well.  Now anybody who has followed this blog for any length of time knows that I am a beer drinker, but as far as homemade wine is concerned, I say “Bring it on!”

 

While there are many other things going on and growing here at The Dead End Alley Farm, that is a good review of the season so far concerning perennial fruit.  It is fun to see some of these projects, or should I say plants, that were planted so long ago, begin to enter a new phase of their life cycle.  Barring the premature death of fruit trees to disease or pests or strong wind, we can expect these trees to only grow healthier and produce more fruit with each passing year for a long time to come.  It is one of the beautiful things about woody perennials, you plant them once and can harvest off of them for years, and sometimes even for lifetimes!  Stay tuned for more fruit updates, I hope to do a few more apple tasting reviews this fall, as well as a few other surprises!  Until next time, enjoy the rest of the summer … Peace & Cheers

 

 

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possum

Pretty Cute, Huh !!!

So I have something to tell you all.  With much hesitation and trepidation, but with encouragement from my wife and my good buddy Bill, I bring you the story of why I have blood on my hands.  Two nights ago I had to kill a possum.  I did not do it because I wanted to, or because I thought it would be fun, but because I was defending my chickens.

Earlier in the day we had noticed that one of our Buff Orpingtons was dead.  This has happened one other time when I had an accident putting them away at night.  The ramp that leads up to the coop is a drawbridge type of door, and evidently one of the other Buff Orpingtons had stuck her head out as it was being closed and received a broken neck from my carelessness.  Needless to say, I received the name “Chicken Killer” from my wife and kids.  Since then, I always double check to make sure everybody is out of the way before I close them up for the night.

When we came upon this recently deceased chicken, it was a bit strange as to where she was located.  She was not near the door like the previous chicken had been, but was underneath the drawbridge.  I felt this was evidence enough (of what do you suppose!!), to clear my name of the “Chicken Killer” label, but I was still blamed.  I got her cleaned up and disposed of, but because the ground is still frozen here, I was not able to bury her which I would have preferred to do (dead chickens are great fertilizer!).

Once that was done I really did not think about it anymore.  I collected an egg from the nesting box, checked on the bees because it was a nice sunny day (they are still alive!!), and headed inside to make dinner.  I ended up falling asleep early that night and was happily dreaming about spring rains and dandelions, when I was awoken by the sound of my wife running into the house, holding a chicken, yelling for me!

I had no idea what was going on, but I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed and went to see what the problem was.  This is when I found out that we have had a possum visiting our chickens.  When Karyn went outside to put away the birds, it was dark and they should have been inside the coop on their roosts.  Instead they were all outside squawkin’ away, terrified of something. One was stuck in some orange, plastic fencing that had fallen down from snow, trying to fly away. Another chicken somehow got out of the pen. She picked it up and opened the nesting boxes to put it back in the coop when she found the possum, nestled comfortably in bedding straw, eating a raw egg.

It was almost 11:00 PM when I was called into action.  I was tired, and not at all pleased with the situation I found in front of me.  I got my jacket on, and went outside to figure something out.  I realized almost immediately that I would have to kill this ugly thing!  If all I did was chase it out of the coop and scare it off, it would come back and cause more damage than it already had.

I am not a hunter, and the extent of my killing experience (except for the chicken whose neck I broke) has been limited to a rabbit or two that my cat has made a horrible mess of!  Now I realize that my diet (which consists of meat) is only possible by killing, and therefore I play a direct role in the slaughter of animals for food.  That is why we try to support local, ethical suppliers of meat when we can afford to.  But having this situation, or should I say creature, look me in the eyes, and knowing that I am going to have to kill it myself was a feeling I was not entirely comfortable with.  I fought through the emotions quickly, and realized that if I was willing to keep chickens as part of our homesteading project, than I had to be willing to protect them from predation by possums, raccoon, and other varmints that call the cities and suburbs home.

Without going into the exact details of how I took this creatures life, I will say this.  Possums are incredibly tough and have a will to live that is impressive.  I did my best to give this animal a quick and painless death, but it was a challenge.  Both myself and my wife are now in agreement that if we are going to keep chickens as a part of our homestead, then we need to take proper steps to insure their safety – we will be buying a small .22 caliber pistol for the next time this situation presents itself.

Which leads to the true moral of the story.  We failed as responsible homesteaders.  We failed at responsible animal husbandry.  When you decide to include animals into your homestead, you take on a moral obligation to provide them with a safe and healthy environment in which to live, and this is where we failed.  This should never have happened, and the fact that a possum was able to get into the coop shows a design flaw in the system.  While we have since taken steps to correct the problem, it makes me sad that we lost one of our chickens to a mistake that could have been prevented.

My chickens are not pets to me.  I try to avoid naming them, except for Teeny Houdini (formerly Cluck D), and realize that someday they are going to die and end up in the stock pot.  And there lies the difference – I want their death to be at my hands, done humanely and quickly and with purpose.  So while it is sad that we are now going to have one less egg every few days, and that we lost a nice gentle bird, we have learned some very good lessons, and have seen a side to homesteading that is not pretty or sexy or hip.

Moving forward, the chicken coop and run are being completely redesigned and relocated this spring.  We had already started planning this before the possum had shown up, so I suppose this is good timing to reevaluate designs and plan accordingly.  While I hope this never happens again, I do realize that some of this is just the way the world works.  There are prey and predators in nature and they do what they are evolved to do.  Our role then is to moderate that interaction and keep our animals safe to the best of our abilities.  To all those with a flock of backyard chickens – keep ‘em safe!  Make sure their coop and run is secure, and if you have to deal with a similar situation as I just described, be prepared to take the appropriate actions!  Peace & Cheers


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Our Gold Rush Apple!!

As everyone in America knows, the summer 2012 growing season was one for the record books. Extreme heat and drought have dominated the headlines, climate change seems to be creeping into the common lexicon, and those of us who are ‘heavy gardeners, or light farmers” in the words of Utah Phillips, probably encountered many surprises this season. Starting back in late winter/early spring we had temps pushing the eighties in March!! The cherries, plums, and apples started blooming a month early and then most people here in Minnesota growing fruit trees got zapped by a hard frost (for those unlucky souls or should I say trees – more than once) and lost the majority of their blossoms!! We had good rains through May and June, and then in July and August the drought hit us and the Japanese beetles came and unleashed their hellish fury on our gardens!

Into October the drought continues and the gardens are winding down – in the next two to three nights we can expect frosts that will kill off most of the sensitive garden plants. As the season wanes, I can look back, and amidst the setbacks and strange weather, I feel like we did a good job stewarding our little ½ acre homestead. The quality on most of the vegetables this year was very high. Some highlights include the garlic, potatoes, carrots, salad mix, peppers, and tomatoes. Because of the spring frosts, we lost most of our tree fruit of the young trees, but one apple made it, and it proved its worth.

Gold Rush is an apple developed at the University of Purdue, and was released to the general public in 1992. It was developed with the intent to be resistant to numerous apple tree diseases, and also relatively cold hardy. Gold Rush is a large, conical, golden/green apple, with a blush of bronze on the sunny side of the apple. It is an offspring of Golden Delicious and has incredible storing properties – up to 7 months!! It can be eaten fresh, but is also used for baking, and an exceptional addition to cider. According to the Purdue website

“ The fruit is characterized by a complex, rich spicy flavor with a high degree of acidity and sweetness. Acidity moderates in cold storage, resulting in exceptional overall quality after 2 to 3 months. The apple retains its complex sprightly flavor and crisp, firm texture for at least 7 months at 1 C. The cultivar has been rated consistently as the highest quality apple after storage of all selections or cultivars tested at Purdue Univ.”

Unfortunately, we only harvested one of these apples this year. It is the first apple harvested off of Son of !Frankentree! I received the scion wood two years ago, and it was the first successful graft I performed on Son of !Frankentree! Looking at the Gold Rush branch, it looks like that number could increase to about a dozen next year. Most likely I will be grafting up trees of just Gold Rush because it really was that good. The trees are suppose to be great producers that are an excellent choice for the backyard or hobby orchardist. If this one apple can be proof of that, I’m a believer! On a side note, having a tree that has multiple cultivars grafted onto it is a great way to experiment with new varieties. Next year, assuming there is no killing frost at bloom time or any of the other calamities that can affect fruit production, I will hopefully be getting Karmijan de Sonneville, Hall, Coe’s Golden Drop, and Steele’s Red all off of Son of !Frankentree! Pretty cool stuff if you ask me! I hope everyone’s fall harvest is going well – Peace & Cheers!

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Chickens!!

I have lived my whole life in Minnesota, and being a dedicated Minnesotan, the weather is always something we talk about. If it ain’t 90 degrees and humid with mosquitoes buzzing in your face, it is 10 below zero and you had a near miss with frost bite on your toes while shoveling the side walk. Now anybody who has spent as much time as I have up here in the great white and wooded north, knows we have had winters where we have not received much in terms of snow fall, but nothing compares to the winter we are experiencing right now. Since the autumn equinox through now, we have had the most mild, and temperature – record setting winter to date. We have been breaking records for high temps almost weekly. Tonight as I write, it is the ninth of January, and depending on where you were earlier in the day here in the Twin Cities, it was almost 50 degrees!! 50 degrees on January 9!! We spent the afternoon outside in our backyard watching the chickens, enjoying the warming rays of the sun in just sweat shirts, and wondering to ourselves what the hell is going on with the weather.

Collard greens that have never quite died!! We were still picking off of them up until about a month ago!

We are not the only ones wondering what is going on with the weather right now either. The plants are also starting to get confused. Here is one article about a maple sugar producer whose trees are starting to have their sap flow. This would be great if it were March, but right now it is a little too soon. Being new to maple sugaring, I don’t know how this will impact the sugar season, I am not sure if anyone does at this point. Another example, a friend of mine who is only a few miles from my house told me that his irises and tulips are starting to pop up. Seasonally, irises and tulips are always some of the first things to green up and come back to life, do they know something we don’t or are they as clueless as the rest of us. Another concern of mine, due to the extremely nice temperatures we have been getting, and the almost non-existent snow, how are certain perennials and fall sown plants going to fair this winter. Because of the constant freezes and thaws and no snow to insulate the ground, will bulbs like garlic or potato onions be harmed or not? How about the hop and rhubarb rhizomes? How about the larvae of my arch enemy, the Japanese beetle. Those little bastards over winter in the ground and if we never get a huge ground freeze like we should, are they going to strike with a vengeance this coming summer? There are a lot of questions I have right now about the weather, and not just here in Minnesota.

Look at all that snow!!

2011 set a record for extreme weather events, events and storms that cost over a billion dollars each in destruction and other economic losses. This past year there were at least twelve of them. Gigantic snowstorms and record snow falls here in Minnesota and elsewhere, tornados, floods, wildfires, and huge droughts. The kicker, these extreme weather events are not isolated to just America. This is a world wide predicament that in my humble opinion is all the evidence we need to prove human influenced climate change, or as I once heard it put, not global warming, but global weirding! As much as a 50 degree day in January is nice and comfortable to be in, it also scares me a bit. Are we seeing the beginnings of a rapid climate shift? In my life time am I going to see a more temperate or Mediterranean climate here in Minnesota? Whose water tables are going to permanently dry up and see the rest of their topsoil blow away? Whose forests and wild areas are constantly going to be jeopardized by over harvesting of resources and wildfires? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I do know one thing. It is all the more reason to be prepared for the unexpected. Having a wide variety of seeds to plant is always a good idea. Variety equals success! When one thing dies because it can not handle drought, having another one already planted that can survive a dry spell will insure some kind of harvest. Something I have learned this year is that having some way to extend your season (cold frames, large and/or small hoop houses, and greenhouses) is a great option to have ready. If I would have been more prepared and could have known about the mild winter we have had so far, I would still be pulling salad mix, spinach, and other greens from the garden! Maybe next year! Well, I hope everyone gets through the rest of the winter with a little bit of normality, I for one would love to see some real snow and at least be able to pretend that things are still somewhat normal! Cheers!

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One critter I don't mind finding in the garden!

Hey Everyone!  It has been quite awhile since I lasted posted, I apologize for the brief  hiatus.  However, summer is starting to wane and we have been very busy; family, friends, a road trip, garden chores, and painting the house.  Between all those events and my work schedule, there has been very little idle, indoor computer time.  And you know what, I am completely OK with that.   I started this blog about six months ago in the dead of winter.  I remember writing those first couple posts just itching for gorgeous weather so I could write about it and all the crazy projects that I have goin’ on.  Well you wanna know something, right now we have gorgeous ( if not a little hot) weather, I have plenty of projects (in different stages of “not being done yet”), and absolutely no time to write about any of it.  I find the irony hilarious.  I am the kind of person that when I get into something, i.e., a new hobby, a new book, or a new skill or project, I jump in with both feet and learn and gain as much experience as I can.  Take this blog for example.  At first I really wanted to have a new post at least once a week, and sometimes that actually happened.  Sometimes I even managed to get two done in one week!  I noticed this spring that as the weather got nicer, I was less interested in being glued in front of the computer and more concerned with being outside with my family.  So here we are, August sixth, 2010 and what a summer it has been so far.  First, we have gotten so much rain this year.  The chore of having to go out and water the garden has been very minimal this year, and I can honestly say that I cannot remember a year in recent times that has been as wet as it has been this year.

The house that use to be next door. Now the lot is ours and being nursed back to health!

Second, we made a huge purchase about two months ago.  We bought the vacant lot that adjoins our original urban homestead, and so now we have a total of three city lots, about .41 acres.  Compared to a rural farmer, .41 of an acre is nothing, but doing what we do here in the city,  this piece of land is priceless.  We have a lot of ideas and projects planned for the new land, but for right now it is has just been seeded for a lawn.  The main reason for planting the grass seed is simple, we have had so much rain we needed to plant something that would germinate quickly to help keep the erosion down.  The quick story is this.  We bought the lot from the city.  The city purchased the lot and the house that was on it from the previous owner and then proceeded to tear down the house.  Needless to say, we got a pretty good deal on this lot and it would have been stupid to not purchase it, but the front half of it was a giant mud pit, hence the new green lawn.  Other stuff that has been goin’ on here at the Autonomy Acres homestead: the garlic is in and we had a great season, 300 plus heads consisting of seven varieties, we are having a bumper crop year of cucumbers ( LOTS OF PICKLES!) , still no chickens,  we bought a trailer for hauling compost-manure-firwood-etc. that still needs to be fixed, japanese beetles are eating my plum and cherry tree, we are growing water melons successfully for the first time in five years, the cucumber/squash-beetle/bug just showed up and is hungry, the apples are almost ripe and I have a broken wheel on my lawn mower that needs to be fixed.  So there is a summary of my summer so far.  I will really do my best to post much sooner this next time because I really do enjoy writing and hearing from the few readers that I have.  Until next time, Cheers!

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The Rabbits must Die!!

I am not a vegetarian, but I do respect animals and their right to live a full happy life.  But if you are a rabbit and have decided to eat my apple trees ( and a cherry tree), then it’s war.  I am not sure exactly what I’m going to do about this situation, but right now an air rifle or a bunch of snares are starting to sound good.  Don’t get me wrong, if I was successfull at taking out a few of these neighborhood rabbits the meat would not be wasted; they would be enjoyed in every culinary way possible.  I realize it is winter in Minnesota so these critters are hungry and fruit trees must taste good right now, but if any one has suggestions on how to deal with this situation, please let me know.

A HoneyCrisp being decimated by their Shock and Awe Campaign!

You can see the lateral branches being chomped on.

Here is a close up.

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