Sunday, October 24, 2010


Last year we bought an expensive heavy duty tarp from our local hardware store to cover our hay, it lasted all of 6 months. Thanks to some helpful advice from the folks at we called a local billboard company to see if they had any signs they were taking down. The company said yes and below is what we got. What you can't see is that the underside is advertising a housing development. The signs are heavy duty reinforced vinyl and so far so good. And the best part is that they were free!


We use a lot of woodchips around the farm for mulching plants. They help retain moisture during our hot summers and add organic material to the soil. We also use it to bed the pigs we have raised to keep odor down. We have several sources for the chips/mulch. The city of Morganton mulches yard waste and sells it for around $10 a truck/trailer load, but it is a good 20 minute drive from the house. We have purchased a few loads from the city, but we prefer begging tree companies to dump their chips! No hauling and they are free because it saves the tree company from paying fees at the dump. There is also a sawmill only a couple of miles away that sells their bark the take off the logs. We have not hauled any from them yet, but they have some old bark that has composted down nicely that we are hoping to get a few loads this winter for our garden. The pile below came from a tree company owned by Nate's teacher's husband. The pile heated a little bit when we first got it, but has since cooled off.


Four years ago, (before we even moved in), we planted bamboo down by the creek. Those first plants had a tough go at things. We didn't quite know how to transplant it yet (our root balls were WAY too small), the summer was terribly dry (and we weren't here to water), we planted them next to black walnuts (which inhibit growth). Despite all of our errors, a few of those original plants are still hanging on. Since then we have added 5 other varieties of bamboo. Some are growing faster than others, who would have thought it would have taken so long to get such a fast growing plant established. A lot of people ask us why we like bamboo. Here are ten reasons:

1.People food
2.Animal food
3.Erosion Control
4.Wind break
5.Nutrient removal from runoff.
6.Building material, plant stakes, ect.
7.Visual screen.
8.Cool place for kids to play.
9.Adds excitement to the bonfire.
10.We just like it!
This has been our fastest growing bamboo, it gets the most light, which sure does help. It is an unknown variety from a grove off of Sardis Rd in Charlotte, NC.
This is the giant of the temperate bamboos, Moso, it can grow up to eight inches in diameter and makes some of the best tasting shoots. This start is from a grove at a cemetery in Anderson, SC.

These are two starts we planted by the road. Unfortunately, we are going to have to move them because the water company is putting in a new line. The one in the background is "Allgold" purchased at the Bamboo Festival held at the NC Arboretum in Asheville, NC. The bamboo in the foreground is an unknown variety from a grove in Mint Hill, NC. Young bamboos are difficult to identify as many of their distinguishing characteristics do not show up until they start to mature. The shoots are the best way to identify different species, and we are hoping to be able to identify the unknowns next spring.

2010 Garden and Orchard

2010 has been a fair year as far as gardening goes. Seemed like we had wet spells followed by dry spells and very little "just right". We have a lot of great ideas for next year if we can just remember them next spring! The orchard trees seem to be doing okay, we just need patience at this point. A wild persimmon that came up in the front yard produced well this year.
Our tomatoes well after their prime.



One of our pitiful little gala apples. They tasted great, but our apple trees have had trouble with fungus.

These are a few "Caroline" raspberries from starts that our friend, Walt, gave us. We only got enough for a tempting taste this year, but hopefully next year we will get more.

One of our nectarine trees. We didn't get anything from this tree this year, but one of our peach trees did yield a few delicious peaches.

These are the blueberry bushes from a local nursery. They are rabbit eye varieties and should get very large. We did get a few before the birds did. We might be in for some bird netting in the future.

This is our grape arbor we built last spring. There are two muscadines and two seedless grapes. The muscadines seem to be doing much better than the grapes.

Beef, its what's for dinner...

Our steer is growing well. We are not quite sure exactly how old he is but we got him in spring of 09 at around 300 lbs. Only a few months left before he goes to freezer camp. We started giving him 10 lbs of grain a day with hopes of nice marbled steaks! Funny thing is he never made a peep before starting him on grain, now he bellows for his dinner everytime he sees us!