Monday, April 27, 2015

You never know what a day will bring...

So we had kind of an interesting week here on The Farm.

Tuesday morning, The Farmer was up bright and early and out the door, unbeknownst to me. I was still in bed, due to a dose of Benadryl I had taken the night before, when the phone rang.

Embarrassed to be caught still sleeping and fuzzy-headed, I was surprised to hear The Farmer. And he was saying, “I think I need some help.”

Okay…like you need me to pull you out from being stuck? You need me to hold a board in position? And why are you calling me?

“I cut off the end of my finger.”



The adrenaline that kicked in was not quite enough to erase the Benadryl fuzziness from my head, and I had to have him repeat where he was and what had happened.

He was picking up a trailer with which to haul rocks that he planned to dig out of the field that day. The trailer had a ball hitch, and was not quite lined up with the ball on the pickup. The Farmer used both hands to push the trailer to line up over the ball when it suddenly lined up and dropped down. His left pinky just happened to be close enough to be grabbed and pinched between the ball and the hitch.

It was one of those, “Did that really just happen?” moments. But there was the proof, The Farmer saw the finger of his glove laying on the ground, and his finger was missing a fairly large piece.

And it hurt, and there was blood.

I know he wanted me to say that The Doc in town could probably sew it back together, because he was already driving that direction when he called. But it sounded like an ER wound to me.

He wasn’t happy to hear that.

So we headed to The Doc to see if maybe, just maybe, we didn’t have to spend the day at the ER. He didn’t want to lose a whole day of work just to get his finger fixed. Oh, he was disgusted with himself!

When The Doc uncovered the wound, so nicely wrapped in a dirty shop towel, it was obvious that we would be going to the ER, and probably to a plastic surgeon. There just wasn’t enough to work with when it came to stitching and covering the wound. (I could show you the pictures and prove it, but I will be kind to my readers in spite of my fascination with such a spectacular wound...It was like being in our own personal ER show!!) The Farmer had the missing piece, still in the finger of his glove, in his shirt pocket, but even that would take some fancy stitching to put back on…if it even could be re-attached. We were doubtful.

The Doc wrapped the wound up nicely, and sent us on. The Farmer was ready to drive to the ER on his own, {insert throwing of hands into the air} but was told by his bossy wife that it wasn’t going to happen that way…And on the way to ER, his adrenaline plummeted, and he didn’t feel so good, and I triumphantly told him, “And THAT”S why you don’t drive yourself to the ER.”

It was a moment, I tell you! {insert savoring of being right for once}

And then ensued the typical ER visit that involves much waiting interspersed with brief visits from medical personnel. In our first interaction with them, we told them that we had the missing piece if that was of any use to them. The nurse was tasked with cutting open the glove and putting the…uh…piece in saline solution. It was surprisingly intact – just pinched off, not crushed.

Over the course of the next five hours, the doctor came in and anesthetized the finger, which made waiting much less problematic. Then an x-ray was taken, from which we learned that the bone was not fractured, just a little shaved off. Further examination revealed that the bone was exposed and in danger of drying out during healing. And that was when we became so grateful that The Farmer took that glove finger and its contents with him. They decided to stitch it back on as a “biological dressing”. It would keep the bone covered in a state most conducive to healing.

A PA came in and did the stitching, which was very interesting to watch. She stitched through tough callouses of The Farmer’s hand, and even through the nail. By the time she finished, it actually looked like a finger again! I was amazed.

They sent us home with antibiotics and pain meds, and warned that nighttime would likely be pretty uncomfortable. By then, the block they had put in the finger would wear off, and the throbbing commence. We took heed of their advice about when to take pain meds, and must have done pretty well, because The Farmer slept a good many hours that night.

The next day, we saw the plastic surgeon who said we had a couple of weeks ahead of compression bandaging to encourage the pieces to meld. He warned us that the fingertip would turn black, and most of what was sewn back on would die, but hopefully, new skin would be growing underneath.

Fortunately, the pain has not been as bad as was expected. We changed the bandage as instructed, and indeed, the fingertip is now black, but the nail is mostly pink so that bodes well. The Farmer is back to normal activity, just having to be careful about bumping that finger (OUCH!), and keeping it above his heart when it starts to throb.

His rock-picking project got cancelled. {Let it go, let it go!} The Farmer finally got over his disgust about this annoying interruption to his work week. And I am just thankful that it was only that – annoying. It was a reminder once again how things can change in a split second; and how close we often are, in our mundane activities, to having a really bad day.

You’ll find us grateful for the uneventful for some time to come.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It seems I have some 'splainin' to do...

For the past couple of months, folks have been kindly asking after our raspberries, wondering how they are doing and how they look for the summer ahead. I’ve regularly replied that they seemed fine, and likely should be after such a mild winter. Just that little cold snap in late November…
As it turns out, the berries are not fine.
In fact, they are looking kinda puny and weak. They always look that way to me when they start out in the spring. Some buds are far ahead of others, but within a month, they all even up and are strongly green. I used to get nervous in early spring every year, thinking, “Oh my! Are half of them dead? Will they come out?”
It’s taken a long time to get over that feeling…and now I may need a little remediation on that lesson because the berries are struggling to come out strong, and the disparity in bud break and growth remains. It won’t be a banner year for production.
The rows look like this:
The growth is very uneven. It’s not good when you see fruit laterals growing long on part of the bush, and tiny little buds just pushing out on the same bush.
See the big bunch of foliage on the ends of the canes here? Little flower buds have already appeared there.
And then there are these little buds just pushing out.
All the buds you see on the left are obviously dead…no berries happening there.
Sadly, this is happening on other farms through the county as well. It is definitely weather-caused, and the newest fields have been hit the hardest. First year fields are always most sensitive to winter damage.
Of course, the evidence at hand caused me to go back to our weather records. The first condition that was detrimental to the crop was the warm weather that lasted so long into the Fall. The berries don’t go dormant when this happens. Some of the new growth actually bears fruit in the warm conditions, and overall, the plant continues to use energy. If, instead, the plant is dormant, that energy is reserved for growth in the Spring. As well, when the plant is not dormant, there is sap in the canes that can freeze. When it freezes, the cells that hold the sap rupture, and that damage is what causes the buds to die.
So, as I said, it was warm way too long last Fall. In fact, the high temperature on November 6th was 64˚. Ten days later, the low temperature on November 16th was 18˚. Apparently, this is not enough time for the berries to go dormant and get acclimated to cooler temperatures. For the next couple of weeks, the high temps were in the 40’s, and the lows were high 20’s, low 30’s. Strangely, on November 27th, the high temp for the day was 56˚, and the low was 52˚ (south wind). Two days later the high was 27˚, and the low was 18˚.
More evidence it was too warm in the Fall: I picked these roses from my yard on November 16.
The rest of the winter was mild, although we did have a couple of days that the temp dipped below 20˚ overnight. No matter – the damage had already been done.
And now we are seeing it. It’s always disappointing to go into the growing and harvest seasons knowing that, no matter what you do, it will not be a good crop. But there are still variables to manage that will help us get the best crop we can despite the damage. One ought not to go into farming if you don’t enjoy challenges.
We are still hopeful that the plants will fill in quite a bit before long. By harvest time, they should look a lot better than they do now. But you just never know what’s going to happen out there. Mild winters are not always a good thing, and cold winters are not always a bad thing.
And farming? Well, it’s always an interesting thing.
Behold the flower buds! Berries waiting to be born…

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (