Friday, November 18, 2011

Fertilizer Friday: The Flowerless, Griping Edition

Friday again, and Tootsie is hosting our weekly get together over at Fertilizer Friday.  Reading her post this morning made me smile, even though she is exhausted with moving to a new home, tending to her children and putting up her greenhouse, she still finds the time to host our weekly meeting.  Now that's Ambition and Dedication all rolled into one!

Sadly, I lack both attributes.  Tootsie lives in Canada and I live in Wisconsin, and if there's one thing we both have in common, it's the seasons.  We've had a mild fall so far, yes, it snowed a week or two ago, but this week it finally melted.  I was glad to see it go.  As November slips by, some of the days have been in the 40's (which feels really balmy to me) but I'm noticing the nights are getting much colder, we've been down in the 20's.  And the last two days have had a high of around 35 degrees which still isn't too bad, if you can work in an area away from the cold wind which goes right through you. 

As a result of the time of year, my garden is so over.  There are no more flowers to flaunt, no more blooms to boast, no more greenery to go on about.  There are alot of twigs and branches if you're into that sort of thing:
I galloped around the yard last night just before sunset to take these pictures, hoping I'd find something of interest to show but my hands got SO cold it was unbelievable.  I haven't mastered the art of photography with gloves on very well, and I'm stubborn and still haven't gotten out my nice warm mittens yet either, so here we go on my whirlwind tour of what's not blooming. 

But first: speaking of whirlwinds and ironically, Fertilizer may remember my earlier posts about cutting farmers a break when they're traveling down the road with their farm equipment?  Well, we have two kinds of farmers around here, the Regular Family Farmer and the Megafarmer-- and there's a big difference.  The small, family farm is nearly extinct here, and it's very sad.  A way of life has almost completely disappeared in my lifetime.  There are a handful of smaller farms--which were considered big farms when I was a kid, seeing as how we only own 98 acres compared to their 200-300+ acres.   But many of  the 'big' family farms around here were sold and consolidated into mass acreage for the Megafarmers. 

  There's a mega-farm (not sure how many cows they have now, but I know the number is in the thousands) about eight miles from us who rent hundreds of acres in our neighborhood and whenever they harvest their crops, it's done with trucks.  Big trucks. I'm talking semis here.  It doesn't take them very long to harvest a coupla hundred acres of corn or hay since they have humongous equipment and hauling the crop home with the big rigs at highway speeds greatly cuts down on their transport time.  Good for them, I guess, but this ain't the way farming was ever done around here before.  It took some getting used to.

And we have a problem.   The little side road we live on was never built for semi traffic, it's barely wide enough for two cars to meet comfortably and the roadbed is not reinforced enough for the beating it's taking.  At times there are semis meeting each other on our road and flying by at speeds more suited to freeways. Since it doesn't take them very long to harvest their crops, we grin and bear the noise and the pounding of the road and the seemingly never-ending jake braking........... BRRRRRP, BRRRRRRP, BRRRRRRP of the drivers using their gears to slow down (wow, is that LOUD though!) because, ok, it's just til they get the crops off.

But what we dread is the next step.  Manure hauling.  That's when the trucks run in packs, I think I counted ten semis at least, coming and going from 8AM in the morning until at least 8:30PM last night.  I tried to walk up to my mother's last night with the doggies and found it impossible.  There's just no way to stay on the road when these trucks are hammering by.  They don't slow down.  Not a bit.......and the road?  Well, the road is really falling apart.  Big cracks are forming and it's getting bumpier and bumpier.
  I know it's hard to see in this picture above, but the green trees in the distance are at my mother's place, where I grew up, and there's a semi going past her house and one coming this way.  Over and over this process is repeated because they are hauling manure from the megafarm where the thousands of cows live to the land near and far that they rent.  Today is Fertilizer Friday for Real around here.  (Sorry Tootsie!)

I went outside a few minutes ago and hid next to Willie the Willow to try to capture the essence of living in the Peaceful Country: 

 Here comes a semi from the east 

 You can tell he's going right along, my camera setting wasn't fast enough to capture him right in front of our driveway....
 (I'd hate to be my mailbox....poor thing!)
 And now he's meeting another one coming from the west:
 And so it goes, I counted a semi going by every three minutes for the last hour.  For hours on end and for at least two if not three days straight. 

For those of you who live on highways or near freeways, I know I sound like a Whiny Baby, and I apologize.  But our teeny sideroad was never built for the industrial traffic these guys subject it to.  I can only imagine the tax increase we'll have to pay for the fixing of the roads.   When I was kid, we NEVER saw anything bigger than a milk truck on our road, but the last ten years or so have been  very different.

And the smell.........oh.....boy, the smell!  I grew up on this farm and manure is nothing new to me; and as all people who own any type of animal know, they all have to 'go' and poop abounds.  Multiply the 'going' by say, 3000 (I know the megafarm had at least that many cows there, but there was talk of expansion up to 5000 head) and now you have a whole lot of fertilizer kept in manure pits until they haul it out and a whole lot of stink.  It's a stink even I find objectionable, enough to take the paint off your house.  They used to spread manure several times a year, but the laws have changed and they have to work it under the soil now within so many hours, which helps a little.  But not a lot.  They will be hauling this manure to the three hundred acres surrounding us until it is at capacity and then they'll move on.  I hope it's soon.  I miss my peace and quiet.

To illustrate the peace and quiet we normally experience, last night when I was on my ill-fated walk with the dogs, I stepped off the road into the ditch so I wouldn't get run over and took a coupla pictures of our can just make out the machine shed at Mom's house in this one:
In the one above is another forty acres...we own up to the tree line in the distance and that's our road in the foreground....
And there's our house....can you spot the windmill near the middle of the picture? The Back Eight is the dark line of trees just before the deciduous woods that doesn't belong to us.  On the other side of our house is the other half of the farm.  So, yes, we're secluded and it's boony here.  That's why the semi traffic is such an assault.  I wouldn't mind so much if the truck drivers would slow down to a decent speed; I know they're in a hurry, but I think 50mph and over (we followed one once who was doing over 60!) is just too fast for this narrow country trail.  I miss the old days and farming your own patch of land with your own tractor.  This idea of farming thousands of acres is the wave of the future, though, and I have to hush up.  There's nothing I can do about it.  So enough about that. 

Moving on the Non-Fertilizer part of this post, here's what the garden looks like as of last night:

Here we are up on the back hill of the Quarry.  Rocks, trees, random grasses and sedums are all that is left.

This is the time of year for the dwarf conifers to shine.  This is picea pungens 'St. Mary's Broom'.  Isn't she pretty for a broom?
Try as I might I could not get my elbow out of the picture here, but this is an Austrian pine on a stick, pinus nigra 'Brepo'.
I know I've showed this view countless times before, but thuja occidentalis 'Sunkist' is everything the name says.
Random shots of the stones and the trees with the last of the sunlight reflecting.
And yup, that is indeed Ice on the pond.  Not hard enough to walk on yet, but soon, very soon.
I put almost all of the statuary away for the winter since freezing and thawing is so hard on it, except for the bird on the rock.  He's aluminum and can take it, plus I like to have something to look at over the course of the winter.
'Tiger Eye' sumac now looks more like it's cousin, staghorn.
Behind the Quarry itself we have more dwarf conifers which are going to need some appraising in the spring.  Just because they are dwarf doesn't mean they don't get big.
Standing next to the waterfall rocks; the water in the back is not frozen over yet.
I really do like this time of year; before the snow flies, the Quarry takes on a look of peacefulness.  (And there's no weeding to do, so this time of year, I can just sit and look at it and not stress out.)

Let's wander over to the other side of the yard and see what's going on.
We'll go over the bridge to the Pachyberm...but we've gotta hurry, because the sun is going down.  (4:30 PM....Sigh!)

The Pachyberm in all it's rocky goodness.  I have to get my Christmas reindeer down from the rafters and set them up in the rocks. 

The trail next to the house heading back to the River Bed has rocks and miscanthus left.  That's it.
Getting darker, hurrying up.........

Nothing left down in the Formal Garden but the dome and the 'Karl Foerster' grasses and a bunch of dwarf conifers and oh, yeah, the 'Coralburst' apple trees.  I finally did get all the apple tree's trunks wrapped up for winter earlier this week. 
Castle Aaargh is still there, reflecting the last ray's of the sun.  We're going to cover the wall with a big tarp for winter.

Weeping Norway Spruce makes an interesting statement backlit against the sunset.  Here it's saying, "If you want me to grow taller, you'd best be thinking about getting a taller stake."  Yes, it's true, I have a psychic link with my trees.  They talk to me.  (And, no, the guys in the white coats haven't caught me yet.)
The last bit of color I could find........the Burning Bush is dropping embers all over the place.
The Egress Gate; Summer has gone and 'egressed' right out of our garden.
The old Aermotor is getting ready to face another's already seen more than sixty of them.

My Christmas decorating is so lame, you're going to laugh.....remember the pedestals that hold the lightshade planters in the summertime?

Well, now they're holding something completely different....upside down tomato cages wrapped in garland.
And no, they're not completely decorated yet, and they're leaning because it's been windy.  Classy, eh?  I pull out all the stops here.  And this way we save room in the shed because we're storing the tomato cages outside. 
And YES, again.......those are silk flowers crammed in the urns, but c'mon now, I needed some color around here to look at.  I stuck all this stuff in the urn last night and it was dark outside, hence the rather 'rugged' arrangement.  Hey, I tried.  And at least there were some flowers for Fertilizer Friday. 

Even if they were Faux.


Tufa Girl said...

I was amazed at the size of the corn fields when we were up your way this summer. I truly understand the meaning of "megafarmer". Too bad there is no way to make that farmer responsible for the roads he uses. I guess that is why fuel is taxed.

The quarry looks so peaceful and still very beautiful in its own way.

Sueb said...

Your rocks look lovely blushed with evening sunlight. Those trucks would drive me potty. Our little road is very quiet it's a dead end and sometimes we get big trucks come down and they have to reverse back that’s bad enough. Take care walking along the road.
Have a lovely weekend

Randy Emmitt said...

To me your garden is still very beautiful! The smell I hear ya. Once or twice during the summer we might smell it too. From a small cattle herd across the woods from here.

Beth said...

Karen, the quarry still looks awesome. I love how you design with conifers - very pretty. I like your pedestals very much! Have a good thanksgiving, Karen.

Alison said...

Your late fall/early winter garden has a wonderful stark beauty, and your photos of it are lovely, they definitely do justice to it. You have my sympathy on the trucks flying by and the smell. Whine and complain all you want, it's your blog!

Dandelion and Daisy said...

Your garden is still amazingly beautiful! This country has so many beautiful landscapes, looks like you live in the middle of one. I've always heard Wisconsin is beautiful.

Those big truck really do present a challenge, I guess the up side is it will end soon but it is miserable while it lasts. said...

We don't have that many large farms here thank goodness. But the family farms are all going under. So sad. I can not imagine the smell from 3000 cows. Yuck! Or the semi traffic like that.

www, said...

It is still so incredibly magestic out there with all the different variety of plants. Beautiful.

As for the trucks. We have a Farm to Market Road in front of our property and the logging trucks will be loaded down with harvested logs and driving much too fast for their load. I often cringe when I hear them rumbling past. About once per week, there's a logging truck accident to where all of the logs have spilled out all over the road...scary prospect if you are driving beside or behind one of those trucks.


Darla said...

I would be a little nervous about those semis too. I love when you post about your mom's place. You are so blessed to have so much land and it's beautiful too. Your gardens look good year around....I like your seasonal repurposed tomato cages!

Pamela Gordon said...

Karen, I think your quarry garden looks beautiful in every season. So far, since I've started following your blog, I've only seen summer, but I can imagine how gorgeous it will look wrapped in it's snowy blanket too. That is quite a farming operation going on down the road from you! And pretty dangerous with those huge tankers on that narrow road. I hope they don't have a spill! Ewwww! I live in the country too and the farmers have been spreading manure. Peeeuuwww! I like the idea of the tomato cages wrapped in garland! I think it's brilliant! Have a great weekend. Pamela

Sunray Gardens said...

What beautiful gardens. I really enjoyed the conifer tour.
Cher Sunray Gardens

HolleyGarden said...

What a great idea to use upside down tomato cages! But, your post worries me a bit. Here, we still have small farms. And roads like the one you live on. I hope in the next 10 years the megafarms don't come here! I feel for you. This is a deep topic, with not a lot of good solutions. Sorry it's impacted you in such a way.

Mac_fromAustralia said...

Reading about the spread of the mega farms, and the effect on locals such as yourself, made me sad and frustrated. Sometimes you really have to wonder about "progress".

rosie@travel-i-tales said...

My dear Karen, I've been traipsing across to China to see some autumn scenery, and all I had to so was to come over to your blog. Your garden looks great in autumn too.

mudderbear said...

This is just awesome...such a treasure you have. I love every bit of it...wish I could be there.

Anonymous said...

Should you have built by yourself, an effective regimen that provides you with muscle-building outcomes you're happy with, resist the temptation to modify things up just to the sake of novelty