Being a peace-loving man (I get a piece whenever I can), I cringe to think that I have enemies here in Farm-Land, but the truth of the matter is, I do. These range from ruthless, cutthroat villains, to inanimate objects, whose villainy is purely circumstantial.
I find it impossible to list them in order from one to ten, because at any given moment, any of the ten is able to assert its position at the head of the line as numero uno. Or head honcho; squeaky wheel; unmitigated disaster; insidious infiltrator(s); innocent bystander(s); thieves in the night; thieves in the day; cute thieves/ugly ones. There is a long list.
Enemies of the state:
water leaks: Whether from an old rubber washer between hose and faucet, a leaky connection between white ag pipe and black utility line, a wasted valve that never closes completely, an improperly tightened coupling, bite marks on water lines from thirsty critters or any of a plethora of other causes, slow leaks rob us of the precious water we need to make it all happen, here at HappyDay Farms.
gophers: Is there anything more galling than to see a particularly key garden bed get assaulted by these savage underground predators? Tomato plants, in particular, seem to entice them. I want to take a pitchfork and just start jabbing it along the route the little bandits follow, but I like to think I have a modicum of self-control. It doesn’t matter if I do or not-I like to think it. Oh, and I set the underground traps, attaching a big stick to the traps so they can't disappear back into the depths-WITH MY TRAP. I also use gloves so they can't detect my scent.
burst water fittings: They get one’s attention real quick-like. Nothing shatters the mood faster than the sound of running water. Running? Try sprinting, to the nearest shut-off valve.
|The dreaded powder|
powdery mildew: Act tung, a worthy opponent, if ever there were one. Like many, our baptism by fire was anything but celebratory, but we learned. We learned a lot in a short time, so until the next strain comes along, precautions are paramount.
weeds: Incessant, draining, they steal from what is good, to nurture that which is unwanted. I will never give an inch.
clogged water filters: At last! Something that is almost 100% preventable with vigilance. A clogged water filter is just doing its job-keeping the crud from getting into the emitter lines, but if they are not religiously spit-polished, crops suffer from a water shortage.
woodpeckers: This might be the only innocent bystander, in that the damage they do is to my home, and it’s as a misguided attempt to prepare for winter. The solution is to refurbish the affected parts, and use Hardy-Board, instead of wood, to sheath the exterior.
I am smarter than they are-just not as capable as I used to be.
Plant lovers other than humans, arranged in alphabetical order AND simultaneously size, going from small to big:
aphids, earwigs, mice, quail, rabbits, and turkeys
Where do I start? We wash the aphids off; we keep our crops well ventilated and cleared of excess plant matter to discourage both aphids and earwigs; we set traps for the mice, using the seeds they are stealing as bait; we cover the crops with remay to keep quail out; we reinforce fencing when rabbits are an issue, until we realize they are going under the fence.
Large Marge helps out with that, as do all the farm dogs.
dust: More about aesthetics in the past, dust is currently a huge issue for Gluten-Free Mama, recovering from a bout with pneumonia, and doing quite well, thank you for asking. I am doubling my efforts to remove dust from places I never thought to look for it.
time: Time is an enemy because if you stay in one place long enough, you see a lot of history repeat itself, simply because time will insist on passing. From changing the batteries in smoke detectors and kitchen clocks, to replacement of shower curtains and bathmats, to the inevitable water heater/refrigerator/washing machine, et al failure, time will be problematic.
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Honorable mention: No list would be complete without a few honorable mentions like deer, rattlesnakes, ticks, mosquitoes and clay, to name a few. The dogs keep the deer at bay, as do fences.
I haven’t seen a rattler in four or five years; it doesn’t mean they aren’t around-it just means they are not the issue they once were, 35 years ago, when we first moved to the mountain.
Ticks don’t seem to like me much, so I only pick one up one every few years. I have been lucky so far, as I am routinely with skeeters. They don’t seem to like A-negative blood. I am rarely afflicted with poison oak either.
Clay is a mixed bag; On the one hand it was critical that we had great deposits of clay for constructing the pond a few years ago; on the other, practically every cubic foot of soil we use on-farm, has been supplemented with rice hulls. We are habitually trying to infuse organic matter into the soil, so as to lessen the clay influence. We are winning this battle; I used rice hulls in most areas, but none in the orchard, which has been worked for years.
The instant I hit publish, I will think of yet another Top-Ten worthy item for my list, as I am sure you can. That’s OK-I won’t stop the presses; I’ll just start a new list.
|Cherry trees and tomatoes|