When my husband and I first got married, we moved to Parker Arizona for my husband’s new job. Parker is on the Arizona/California border below Lake Havasu. We lived there for 2 1/2 years. From about May 15th to October 15th, it was over 100 degrees EVERY DAY.
My husband happened to work right next door to the tribal animal control office, and so over the course of that 2 1/2 years, we ended up adopting three dogs. One was a great dane/lab mix named Thor. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning or being around a Dane, you know that they are the sweetest dogs around. Thor was super sweet. He was also not super smart. And being 120 lbs and the darkest colored of all of our dogs, he suffered the most in the heat. He’d be standing there panting in the shade, and my husband or I would say in our “Thorbie” voice, “Gosh it’s hot”. We swore that he got about 10% smarter when we moved to cooler weather in Colorado.
This last week, we’ve hit, or are expected to hit, over 100 degrees every day. It’s not Arizona, but it’s also been a while since I’ve experienced this kind of heat. I’ve been saying “Gosh it’s hot” quite a bit. And frantically trying to keep everything watered and everyone cool. We freeze 2 liter bottles of water and put them in the cages for the rabbits. I watched Alice, my big white rabbit (hopefully preggers), push Betty, her cage mate, over and lie down full body next to it. So it does help.
The chickens pant. The ducks go for a swim. The dogs do their best to dig down to cooler soil or hang out on the cement slab in the garage. I try to stay in the house after about 11:00 am, and harvest produce early early early in the morning.
The peas are toast (almost literally). The lettuce still looks pretty good, but won’t last long in this heat. I should have green beans in the next week. I harvested my first cucumber and first summer squash today, along with a few early tomatoes (a cherry and Stupice, an early Russian variety). I’m looking forward to picking produce that I don’t have to wash!
The ground crops are starting to show signs of wire worms. Wire worms are the larval form of a click beetle. The adult is harmless. The larvae stay in the soil for 3-5 years, and have a harder than you would expect exoskeleton. They burrow into root crops like beets, carrots, and especially potatoes and make them unsellable. I’m afraid to dig my potatoes. They get worse as the summer progresses, are common in gardens that were formerly pasture, and are almost impossible to kill, even with conventional pesticides, which I’m not using. Because they live so long, control is a long-term strategy. Interestingly, it seems like one of the best hopes is simply compost. I’m thinking that the mix of microorganisms in compost must somehow help keep them in check.
So, no issues this year so far with aphids, potato beetles or cabbage worms – things I know how to control – but I have wire worms, which I can’t do anything about. Sigh. Such is gardening/farming. I just finished harvesting the last of my first crop of carrots (till deeper next time dumb ass – lots of twisted deformed specimens where they hit hard ground). We’ll see how the second batch fares.
But when you can brave the heat, or go out at 7:30 pm when the temperature is back down into the 80’s, you discover that life is going on, and things are blooming and fruit is maturing and everyone is OK. And you discover your first pullet egg (pullets are young chickens) about 6 weeks earlier than expected. What’s up with that?
Miles Away Farm Blog © 2012, where we’re miles away from being as cool as a cucumber, but are reminded that it’s the heat of Summer that makes the cool of Fall so welcome.