Thursday, October 29, 2009

It is what it appears to be

I continue to be amazed at how the Internet (and more precisely Google) plops the world down right at our feet.

I found an unusual plant growing in one of our rose bushes. I had no idea what it was, but the flowers resembled Chinese lanterns. I input "chinese lantern plant" into Google. Lo and behold, the plant is known commonly as "the Chinese lantern plant."

The Latin name is physalis alkekengi and is also known as the "winter cherry" or "bladder cherry."

It's a member of the potato family, if that makes any sense.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My excuse for the last month

Above is the reason I haven't been blogging lately from Deerfield. My cabinetmaker friend, Glenn Baker, and I built and installed this wall unit in my daughter's and son-in-law's living room in Farragut. While Glenn did most of the building, I did all the finishing.

The 13-foot desktop is made from cherry and the cabinet from poplar. There are at least five coats of finish on everything with sanding between each coat. Glenn made the raised panel doors from scratch with routed rails and stiles.

If you want to see more of Glenn's handiwork, go to his website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the wild things are

Is it a fresh loaf of homemade bread? A souffle? A chef's hat?

Nope. It's a mushroom.

Mysterious fungi are popping up all over Deerfield in what may be the wettest October on record. I tried to identify this one, but couldn't find it on the internet. It weighs about a half a pound. Don't worry. I won't be eating it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fire dog #2

At about the same time I was downloading Willie's photo, I received an email from our neighbor, Larry. His son, Jeff, had taken a photo of their black lab, Slick, settling down for their first fire of the season. It's a dog's life in Deerfield.

Larry was the envy of Deerfield last year when he made it through the winter without firing up his heat pumps. He heated his two story house completely with two wood stoves. His woodshed is full again this year.

Fire dog #1

Fireplaces and stoves began firing up in Deerfield today. The high never got above 50 degrees.

Our boxer, Willie, found himself a warm spot in front of the fireplace and hunkered down for the afternoon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Diary readers, bear with me

In addition to what will probably be the wettest October on record, I'm trying to finish a built-in bookcase/desk for my daughter and son-in-law. Thus, my Deerfield Diary posts will be limited for the next week or 10 days.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

We hope to see green and not red in a month

I will take a photo from this same vantage point in about a month, and I hope you will see green grass instead of red dirt.

My big project for the week was planting 150 pounds of grass seed on almost 1.5 acres of bare ground. I think I prepared the soil adequately by plowing, tilling and then rolling after the seed was planted. I used a seed call "contractor's mix" which is several types of fescue. It's a good seed to plant in fall since it germinates quickly. We have five weeks until the average date of our first hard freeze, so that should give the seed time to get established.

We received a half inch of rain several hours after I sowed the seed, so maybe I hit the timing right for once. Because I rolled the tilled soil with a 300-pound soil compactor, I don't think the seed washed on me.

We'll know for sure in about a month.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Posts may be light, but I'm not goofing off

Deerfield Diary posts may be a little sporadic for the next few days, but I have a good excuse. My friend Glenn and I are completing a built-in wall unit for my daughter and son-in-law. The photo at right is of the 13-foot cherry desk top.

Glenn, a cabinet maker par excellence, is doing the building and I'm doing the finishing.

Deerfield Diary normally does not allow commercial messages, but I'm making an exception. Glenn R. Baker
is without a doubt the top cabinet maker in East Tennessee. Anybody considering any type of cabinetry from kitchens to wall units should give Glenn a call.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Little rat snakes grow to be big rat snakes

Remember my post wherein a large rat snake scared the willies out of me when it stuck its head out of my extension cord reel?

Neighbor Larry found a baby one yesterday and brought it up to the house. Rat snakes can be a little aggressive when cornered. This little one had already learned its strike pose and shook its tiny tail like it meant business. Being only about 6 inches long instead of 6 feet, it was kind of cute.

We like rat snakes around Deerfield because they, along with hawks, tend to keep our prolific field mice population in check. Larry released him in the woods. Larry, was that your woods or mine?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Six weeks until first hard freeze

In preparation for planting my doomed fall garden, I spent quite a bit of time calculating the first hard freeze for my zip code -- 37777. A hard freeze is when the temperature reaches 28 degrees at night.

Today is the six-week mark.

The pumpkin in the photo will not make it to maturity if the freeze occurs on schedule. If you recall in an earlier post, the pumpkin is totally a volunteer that sprang up in a hard patch of ground near the well. It has been neither tilled or fertilized. My fall garden is a few feet away, dead and brown.

I will be sure to plant some pumpkins next year so Maw Nature can have a little more fun with me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall garden update: A complete bust

When I started Deerfield Diary on January 1, I vowed to share my failures along with any successes I might have on our homestead. We can chalk up my first fall garden as a .005 on a scale of 1 to 10.

While visions of cabbage, turnip greens, bok choy and broccoli danced in my head, reality brought me only a few handfuls of icicle radishes. I can blame insects, torrential rains and probably some rabbits for my failure, but the real culprit is my soil which does not have enough organic matter. At the first sign of dry weather, my soil starts to crack like a cheap mirror. Garden soil should crumble in your hand like cornbread. Mine flakes like an overdone biscuit.

Between now and spring, I will be hauling manure, leaves, clippings, compost, peat and maybe even some shredded newsprint into the garden. I should have known that you can't turn fallow land into a cornucopia in a single season.

I always like to include a photo with my posts, but this has none. How do you take a picture of nothing?