The old ways and planting potatoes in February.

Ivan was born three hundred yards behind where he lives today. The road is named Clarence Lee Rd, after his father. His family home was one of the first two in Morgan County, but it has long since burned down. That’s ok because it didn’t have running water. Ivan didn’t live in a home with running water until after he returned from the war.

Ivan’s father, Clarence was a good man – an even better father.

I am learning to keep bees from Ivan, so we have lot’s of time for stories as we assemble hives and frames in his cozy workshop. It is here that I am learning about bees and “old ways” of doing things.

Ivan said his father always planted potatoes in February.

February? Really? When?

Well, when the weather dried out for a few days. Then they would have new potatoes to eat in early spring.

Huh. I have potatoes that are sprouting. Let’s give this a try.

So, I did.

We cleared the weeds remaining in the garden from last fall, piled them in a 12 foot low point in the garden and burned them. I then added some compost, placed my potatoes on top, and covered with more compost. Finally, a layer of broken down straw that the chickens have been working over.

Will we have potatoes in the spring? I have no idea. But I have nothing to lose. All the materials were on the farm and the potatoes I planted were inedible. The only thing it cost me was time.

Here’s to learning the “old ways” and giving them a try.

The Advantage of Neglect

Letting nature take its course.

Last year I took advantage of a state program called Tennessee Tree Day. This program provides the opportunity to purchase native saplings at very low prices. We have a goal of adding tress to our current pastures and this seemed the perfect fit for our goals.

We picked up the saplings at our local extension office. Planted them the next day. Mulched around the base with wood chips and provided protection from wildlife with some t-posts and welded wire around each sapling.

These trees did not thrive. Mind you, I did not water them weekly as suggested. I relied on the mulch and rain to be enough. All that remains of last year’s efforts are sad little sticks that may or may not still be alive.


Fast forward one year.

Saturday. The day for larger projects. And a Saturday in winter when you have time to catch up on things that have fallen off the plate.

Today we decided to bush hog the upper field. We hope to use this field as pasture in the future, but right now it is mostly brambles and broomsedge. With spring coming and grasses just starting to grow, we have got to mow down the brambles and sedge so the sunlight can get to the grass. Giving the grass an advantage, a leg up in the fight for sunlight and nutrients.

This is the first time we have worked this field since owning the farm. We have neglected it until today. We just didn’t have time.

But we have been watching it. Observing. Noticing that among the sedge and bramble there are saplings.

Oak. Pine. Hickory.

These trees planted themselves. We had left the field untouched. The saplings thrived in our neglect.

So, instead of mindlessly bush hogging the entire over-grown field we carefully walked through it looking for baby trees. We cleared the area around the ones we wanted to keep. Then Mr. J bush hogged the field avoiding our baby trees.


Why trees in a pasture?

The trees provide shade for our livestock, food in the form of acorns and hickory nuts, habitat for birds, and potential lumber in generations to come.

Why not?