We have an abundance of stinging nettle on the Farm. It’s hilarious, really. Last year as I was starting to delve more and more into foraging, I was lamenting people in the local foraging groups posting their harvests of stinging nettle. I wanted some, and I was sad we didn’t have any!
Turns out I have patches of it just about everywhere. In the pasture, in the front lawn, in an old whisky barrel planter… If I can harvest it before the horses or the chickens get it, I have *tons* of it. And if it gets too old for eating/turning into teas, then I have more than enough to make fermented fertilizer for the garden with it.
But, this week I plan to harvest a whole lot of the tops (which will regrow) and make a batch of stinging nettle beer. Stinging Nettle Beer recipe
It’ll be the first time I make nettle beer, so I’m not sure if we’ll like it. If not, no biggie. I enjoy nettles as tea and as a spinach replacement. 🙂
It’s chicken coop cleaning day. Like, all the deep litter from winter is coming out, and new bedding going in. It’s going to be disgusting. It always is. I’m trying to fortify myself with enough coffee for this task. Deep litter is wonderful for winter, but gross as fuck come Spring clean out.
The first of the turkeys have hatched. Out of 24 eggs set in the incubator, we have 10 poults. But, considering we lost power 3 times in the incubation cycle, I’m happy to have had *anything* hatch.
We did have a few that were well formed but quit in the later stages of incubation. Sad, but that happens sometimes. Again, power outages don’t help.
But the 10 that did pop out on their own are hopping and bopping around the brooder, having a grand time being happy little birds…
I set 14 more eggs a while back that are due to hatch after June 6th. Just because I’m hoping to add more hens to the flock so our boy Dingus can have his own harem. Then I’ll have 2 Narragansett breeding groups. That’s the plan, anyways. We’ll see how that goes. 😂😂😂
One of the things that I love about our life is the intimate connection we have with our food. We grow not only vegetables in very alive soil, but we grow our meat animals as well. Or, most of them. I remind myself that I “ordered” our winter pig this past weekend…a pig who will live outdoors, rooting in dirt, playing in bales of straw, eating every little thing that tickles their little porcine fancy (except humans 😉 ) until the day we arrive with our trailer to bring them home and send them off to see The Great Piggie in the Sky. But, we *have* raised our own pigs, so I do feel that connection with these ones we “order” as well, simply because I *know* exactly how they were raised. Hell, I can go visit our piggie anytime we want to, if we want to. They’re happy pigs…and anyone who knows me, knows that I strive at all times for happy food. Why? Because Happy Food Tastes Better. That is, after all, our Farm’s motto! Happy Food Tastes Better. Happy food is also *better* for you. 😉
So what brought this post on was a Instagram post by SlowDownFarmstead. I love a lot of her posts because she talks *a lot* about our primal connection to food and feeding ourselves. It resonates, big time. To me at least… So I give you this link to the post that inspired this one, and hope you have the time (make the time) to read it…and I hope you take the time (make the time) to connect with your food in that primal way that feeds and nourishes not only our bodies but our souls, spirit and very essence.
It’s the holiday Monday of the May Long Weekend here. If we were still in the city, I’d be planting my tomato plants today. Of course, this spring has been odd, and we’re not in the city and I ain’t risking my tomatoes yet. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll work on hardening them off, so they go out first weekend (or so) of June.
Still tons of garden work being done this weekend tho… We’ve, surprisingly, had sunny days and very little rain this weekend. So, brooders got cleaned out from last year’s last birds. I had 10 turkeys hatch (with 3 more pipped, but I think I have to help them out of their shells after coffee) and moved to a freshly cleaned out and bedded brooder. We worked on cleaning up the yard…winter was a tough bitch this round and I’m not proud that there was waaaaay more garbage ’round the Farm yard than normal. 😥 So we made a dump trip with the truck well loaded down. Rotting pumpkin bits (that the dog spread all over the damn place in her winter fun) got forked up and put into the compost piles. I broke down more of those food waster recovery program boxes for garden expansion, and laid a ton of them out to be covered by the straw/manure bedding from the brooders. And we had a bonfire. A very big bonfire. 😀
While Hubby built the fire, I worked on this:
I’m working on covering the weeds in the tomato patch with deep straw mulch, to smother them out. I should have cut them down first, but meh…it’ll be fine. We do still have 1 full round straw bale, but, I don’t want to open it if I don’t have to. It will hold over to the Fall when we start giving the Merry Mares straw bales to pick though and lay in, so if I don’t need it in the garden, that saves me money later. So I use a garbage can and haul bin after bin after bin of straw from the current bale that the Mares have been using for bedding (and crapping in). Little more work, but saves me $$$, and free fertilizer. Because peed in straw is *excellent* mulch for tomatoes, dontcha know! 😂😂😂 And, not gonna lie, I get a bit of a giggle out of the folks who pay outlandish prices for “clean” bags of straw to mulch their gardens, as if that’s going to stop weeds. 😂😂😂 Weeds are gonna happen, we just have to get them before they get out of hand, and I’m not paying $18 for bags equivalent to a 45lb small square when my big rounds cost me $40 last year (and that was spendy due to drought, I normally pay $25 for a round of straw) and will go much, much farther.
So that’s gonna be my summer…hauling straw to mulch as the plants come up. Eh, it worked amazingly last year and hauling 2-3 bins and spreading it a day takes very little time. It just becomes part of the daily routine.
And that garden expansion strip out front of the house? Potatoes this year. With the unexpected expenses that hit us (between the septic pump and the truck going over the $1500 expected cost), I’m not 100% sure I’ll have the $$$ for top soil to add to the lasagna pile to plant tomatoes in. So, Ruth Stout style potato patch it is. And then, by next year, tomatoes and peppers will be able to go in there, easy peasy. 🙂
So there ya go…we busy. In 8 days I have turkeys, ducks, chicks, and goose babies coming. So we’re gonna get more busy. But that’s okay. We’ll plant the garden, grow the foods, preserve the foods and get ready because… Winter is coming.
This morning I took the turner out of the incubator. A day later, as usual. Good thing I got it done first thing this morning, because 2 eggs had already pipped, and now? This:
First little turkey has emerged! Pretty excited fr this year’s hatchings. I have 24 turkey eggs in here, with 13 guinea fowl eggs. The other incubator has 14 turkeys that I started 2 weeks later. And that’s the whole of our hatching for this year. Tho, I still have a ton of birds coming from the hatchery on the 31st….so it’s not like there won’t be a bunch of bebes around. Still waiting on the ducks to lay, but at least they’re back in their yard, not in my garden. 🙂
My Dad was a bit of a gear head. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do when working on vehicles. I did not pay as much attention as I should (and to be fair, it’s not like I was encouraged to be out there in the shop…at least, not like my brother was…) but I did learn that when things need fixing, if there’s a pair of ’em, *fix the pair*…even if only one side is needing repair, do ’em both because the other will need fixing in short order. *sigh*
I *know* this. So back in January when we sent Blizzard in to have a broken cv axle replaced, my brain said “fix both sides, because the left is gonna go too”…but we were short on $$$ and the shop we sent her to insisted replacing one side is fine. Nope. So today my truck is sitting in a shop on the other side of the city having the *other side* replaced. And front brakes done. And a tire repaired.
I mean, it worked out well because the shop she’s at is…it’s owned by a friend of Hubby’s from work. And we’re always more interested in giving business to friends. We never ask for a deal…because you support friends by paying shop rates, not asking for discounts. But I *know* the job is done right. That’s worth every single penny. I already worry with Hubby’s commutes, I don’t need to worry about Blizzard’s state too…this way, I know she’s safe for him on the road. Y’know?
Plus, this guy who owns the shop? He’s the one who help move the Little Red Shed here. He’s a good human. And his shop guys are too.
Not gonna lie, it was super cool watching his crew load that building up and bring her to the Farm, then set her in place. 🙂
It’s a little chilly out there today, but we’re in full on working in the garden mode now. The ducks and TD (TallDuck the sweetgrass turkey who thinks she’s a duck) are going back to their yard today, now that flood waters have receded enough. Then, I start hauling loads of straw to mulch the areas of the garden where grasses tried to take over. We garden no-till, so straw is my best friend at this time of year. 🙂 Next week I can start planting out my onion sets, my spring garlic and any cool weather seeds…beets, carrots, fava beans, lettuce, spinach, and the like… We are absolutely going to get a few more nights of frost, so I’m not even thinking about my tomatoes going outside yet. Soon I’ll start hardening them off tho…
The medicinal plants are doing much better, now that they have their chance under the grow light:
There’s been a growth explosion since this picture above too, so for that I’m glad. And the reseeded mullein is starting to grow too…mullein is going to be a big one for harvesting (I hope!) this year, since it’s main usage is for respiratory issues. So between what I seeded this week, and hopefully what grows in the the winter sowing jugs, I hope to have an ample supply!
The stinging nettles are up. Nettles are a nutritional powerhouse, and an excellent medicinal. Last year I was sad because I thought we didn’t have any growing…then I realized, we have them literally all over the Farm, but the birds (turkeys mainly) were getting them before I found them…and then when I did find them, they were big and older. Now I know *exactly* where the best stands grow and the turkeys are still in the garage, so *I* get to them first!
And the rhubarb plants are coming back, as well as my asparagus and the honeyberries survived being buried under 5 feet of snow, and the apples trees…well they took some damage, being buried under drifts of snow, but they’re budding and I think they’ll be okay. So, all in all, we’re getting onto growing season, albeit a wee bit late, but now the spring/summer work begins. Days of hauling straw, planting, mulching, weeding and maybe even some watering… I’m looking forward to longer days outside in the sunshine.
I’m still working on the garden expansion out front too…cardboard down, bedding from the duck house next, some rotted horse manure than another layer of straw and finally topsoil. I haven’t ordered the topsoil yet, but that area is going to be for the peppers (that survived 🙄🤦♀️😭) and some tomatoes, so I’m not in too big of a hurry for the dirt.
And just now, after moving ducks, I checked more of the winter sowing jugs and lo…there is growth in quite a few of them!! For that I am excited. Later on, I’ll go out with my list and see whats germinated and perhaps (like the plant nerd I am) share some pictures.
Oh, I am so grateful for spring!! Winter this time ’round was way too hard and we *need* the growth of Spring to rebalance ourselves. 🖤🖤🖤
We have a crazy amount of overland flooding going on right now. I did say that Lake Midnight was going to make a comeback this year, and boy freakin’ howdy, has she!!
The duck coop is flooded. Ducks are currently living in my garden. More than half the pasture is under water. We watched Ruby go through one of the deeper spots the other day and it was up to her chest…granted, she went through a shallow in the willows, but even before she got to the low, she was up past her knees…and she’s no shorty! My backyard is, literally, lakefront. The big field is covered.
But the frost is letting go and it’s slowly starting to soak in…and the ditches out front are flowing…at least they’re flowing away from us as far as we can see. Haven’t driven into the next municipality to see if their ditches have opened up…our field ultimately drains into a creek via the ditches down in the next municipality. We’ve been on the phone with them, trying to explain that those 10 and 15 foot snow banks *they created* over the winter are hindering the ditches from opening and letting the water flow away from all of us… *sigh*
Meet Lucy Goosey…
Lucy will be staying with us for a month or so, while she sits on her nest. I’m just hoping Astrid doesn’t notice she’s out there…Astrid is notorious for egg eating. I’d hate for Lucy to loose eggs to a horse!! 😭