Moon Dog Farms

Certified Naturally Grown family farm growing fruits, vegetables & flowers in the Texas Gulf Coast

MoonDog Farms is dedicated to stewardship of the land, reinforcing a healthy community and producing great food.  

Filtering by Tag: fruit trees

The trencher, the lost dog, the teenagers and happy, happy farmers.

It finally happened.

The nail-biting, hair-pulling, brow-rubbing and thumb-twitching days of wondering when 

 we'd finally get a break in the rain, 

 to finally let the soil dry out,

and finally be able to run the tractor through,

and finally walk the tiller and hill the beds,

to finally move the young brassicas, lettuces and fennels out of the greenhouses,

that would finally find homes in their new field....

well, those days are over. For this year, anyway.

Not only did the clouds part and allow for this no-small glory and an end to McFarmer's bad case of tractorfinger, a slew of other  exciting events have happened as well.

We rented a trencher and created a trench for over 1,000 ft of irrigation and got all said irrigation laid out and working. Now the field with the young Fall crops have accessible water. And we didn't have to dig a foot of it with a shovel.

Sometimes we try out that "work smarter, not harder" thing.

A sweet young pup showed up at the farm, and while her appearance is by no means an extraordinary occurrence for our property, she did show up within a few days of the anniversary of our most recent pet's death.

Last year on the first Sunday of October, our original moon dog Saxton passed away, after we'd enjoyed his presence as travel companion and farm co-conspirator for many years. And while we're not sure we're quite ready to take on another being in our household just yet, this little tail wag from the beyond came at a time when I sure was missing our buddy.  (Don't worry, we're in the process of finding this little gal the perfect home!)

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Not one but two high school groups came out to volunteer their time and energy at the farm over the past week. One was a group of all girls ages 14-17, and when Alex saw them pile out of their cars early Tuesday morning, he promptly turned to me and said,

"I'll be at the back of the orchard. Way back."

McFarmer doesn't speak teenage giggle very well. 

But let it not be said that the giggling in any way impeded their ability to weed the hell out of some overgrown strawberry patches. These girls did us a huge favor and transformed work that would last me several hours into a 60 minute fiesta. Big thanks to Teresa Fernan, Debbie and Pasadena Memorial High School for their marvelous attitudes and support. (Plus all their bulging biceps!)

A few days later, a troupe of high-school culinary students stopped by for a full-day visit in which around 15 teenagers got mud all over their shoes, learned how to use gentle hands on tiny seedlings, identified a king snake (and did not freak out) and helped us turn an empty field into one filled with future food. I think my personal favorite moment came in finding myself describing the wrong method of transplanting a young cauliflower as using "doodoo hands." It's truly a good thing there were some adult chaperones around. 

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This was one of our first larger volunteer groups, and I'd call it a grand success. Alex and I still have a lot to learn when it comes to delegating tasks and figuring the right work for the right personalities, but I am deeply grateful not only for their hands and efforts, but the fact that these schools--these teachers-- are interested in dipping toes into local agriculture. Enormous thanks to Felicia Juarez and Sam Rayburn High School for sharing time, labor (and their lunch!) with us .

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We are eager to share what we know, what we wonder, what we work for, and that only works when there are eager eyes, ears and brains on the other end. Having these groups out to our farm validates what we work hard for everyday--we are grateful for every ounce of interest and support.

There's so much more that seems to have squeezed itself into the past few weeks, and as the weather continues to cool and our propensity for taking on more laborious tasks increases, I know each week will bring even more. You should see the 'Fall Projects' list McFarmer and I made only this morning. Insert ghoulish, mad-scientist laughter here.

For starters, I'll just say that number one and number two out at the farm will soon be as easy as 1,2,3.  

We couldn't be happier. Life couldn't be sweeter. The days are a little bit shorter, forcing us to go home a bit earlier, get a bit more sleep.

The weeds have begun to grow a little slower, allowing us a bit more sanity. We treated ourselves to a fancy new seeder that seeds 400 ft of carrot seeds in a mere fraction of the time it used to take us, with barely a stooped back to be seen. We've harvested the last pears from the orchard with a bittersweet adieu,  but their farewell  heralds the coming of autumn's tender greens and the crunch of hearty cabbages and carrots.

I'll say it again,  life is sweet. Our farm is growing, the seasons are changing, and the air is clear. It might not be crisp quite yet, but it's clear. 

And that's quite all right with us. 

www.moondogfarms.com

Seed Babies

On a recent jaunt to Austin for some farmy-related fun, Alex and I had the good fortune to stay with some amazing, good-looking people, eat and drink lazily and zealously, and get some very much-needed baby time.   

What a kernel. Could've stayed there for hours.

It's a wild assertion to make, but babies might be one of the best things on earth.  I know, I know...who likes babies? They smell good, fill your heart with joy, take the world as it comes and nestle in your arms like a warm baguette.

Baby Nolan honing his fruit-chewing skills on a Moon Dog Farms grapefruit, 

It's a wonder we have them, really.

It's a clever feat of nature that the miniature versions adults create-- their offspring-- are adorable.  We're biologically motivated to care for our young as a means of preserving our species, but a dash of cuteness sure doesn't hurt.  

Konrad Lorenz, the Nobel-prize winning zoologist, was a supporter of this observation of animal behavior. He was a smart European fella, and as he gives me the excuse to include cute animal photos, I'll expound further.

 

He worked with geese for years, developing hypotheses for instinctive behavior patterns, i.e. delving into the "whys" behind the weirdo stuff we animals do automatically.

 His work also included research into our human affection for certain animals over others, or

pedomorphosis: 

the retention of childlike characteristics--such as big heads or large eyes--into adulthood.

I think he was way off.

However, it's worth noting that this theory applies in many way to plants as well.  I mean, this is pretty darling:

Baby amaranth flower, batting her eyelashes.

And so, if you're hip to the idea that nature has us homo sapiens all figured out, then it makes perfect sense that

plants start out as cute babies as well.  

We go to all this trouble of watering, coddling, and protecting them in their infancy not only for their promise of tasty bounty (undeniably the BIG motivator) but for the pleasure of mommy-ing their wee, vulnerable cellulose souls.  Just minus the big ears.

Starting out so small...

...and they grow up so fast.  

The Texas Organic Farmers and Growers Conference was the reason for our Austin travels this past weekend, and it was a confidence-boosting, information-filled event to be sure.  We geeked out with other Texas plant-lovers and picked the brains of wiser, sunburnt farmers to whom crop rotations are nothing new under the sun. (Thanks Glen at The Laughing Frog Farm!)  It was great fun.  

Our "Anna" apple, flirting with danger by blooming before the risk of frost is over. But she sure is gorgeous.

But I'll confess, nothing could beat how I felt seeing our formerly bare apple, plum and peach trees IN BLOOM as we drove up the gravel driveway home.

Tiny pink and green buds busting forth, peeking out amongst the branches. Soft unfolding blossoms. Simply adorable. 

And you know what?

 I never liked Tweety anyway.

*Special thanks to Monica and Kyle Langhorst for their permission to display the champion who is their son Nolan purely to draw people to this post. I'm devoted to your son forever.