Almost September

I’m not ready for Fall.
Not even remotely.
😂😂😂

There’s still so much to do before that nasty “w” season hits.
This weekend we’re working on a duck coop…part of our problem last year was the coop we have just didn’t keep everyone warm enough. Even with heat.
And, if you remember, it got buried after we were hammered repeatedly by blizzard after blizzard after blizzard.
So we’re building something else. Bigger foot print, taller for ease of entry for humans, better insulated for ducky health. Not that I really want to build something, but, in order to keep the flock healthy, we need to.
So we will.

Meanwhile, the garden is rolling along.
Huge, growing like crazy, starting to produce…at least, that which the grass hoppers haven’t eaten.
I’ll have enough tomatoes to make a batch of wine.
There’s a ton of carrots and beets…
Well here’s pictures:

There is so much food in there…I just have to wade in and bring it out.
And put as much as I can into jars for winter.
Also in the pictures, where I’ve been cutting the grass short to work on the ever expanding garden.
I need to prep a bed for raspberry canes, to put a couple rhubarb plants, an area for asparagus, and figure out where to put a half barrel for horseradish.
I also have 4 grape cutting growing like mad that I want to plant this weekend.
And, if I have a chance to harvest any grapes (there’s tons of bunches, but will the grasshoppers get them? We’ll have to see…) that’ll be awesome. I’m also going to grab a couple dozen more cuttings to get rooted and growing over winter.

And then there’s the meat birds to get into the freezer.
Coops to clean (which goes hand in hand with that garden expansion very nicely…) and after coops are cleaned out and the bedding piled into the spots, I’ll get Hubby to spend a day or so bringing me bucket after bucket of rotten horse crap to top the chicken bedding/crap. Then that can all cook down over winter to become plantable in the spring.

On top of all that, we’re on our 3rd day in a row of Loop pickup.
That’s the food waste from grocery stores reduction program we’re a part of.
Feeding food waste to farm animals.
Welp, we were offered a coverage pickup Sunday.
We said yes.
We were offered another coverage pickup Monday.
We said yes.
Today is our regular bi-weekly pickup.
So 3 days in a row…
I am not complaining.
Not even a little bit!
It’s a lot of work to sort and process and feed out, but damn, it’s a huuuuuuge help on the feed bill.
Especially with the pekins, white turkeys, and geese.
These birds…I tell ya, they could eat a farmer out of house and home!
😂😂😂
But they love the produce, the bakery stuff, the dairy…every one is growing beautifully and is super healthy.
And, we’ve been offered a weekly pickup at one of the stores we typically do random coverage pickups on…so YAY for that!

Going into winter, we’re looking at 5 pekins staying (for breeding next year), a pair of geese (for the same reason) and the muscovies. We have 2 drakes that are leaving the breeding program. Neither one have desirable traits to continue in the program, so they’re gonna go camping. Freezer camping. 😉
Of the 3 ducklings we had hatch (another reason to have a 2nd duck coop, to have a bachelor pen come broody season…hard for hens to successfully hatch when the boys are being pains int he butt), we know we have 1 hen and 1 drake for sure. The 3rd, little Potato (yep, a duckling named Potato), we’re not sure yet…leaning towards drake, but it’ll be a few weeks before we know for sure.
Then come spring we’ll do some cross fencing in the duck yard so we can pair off certain hens with the best drakes and so we can extend the lives of our current drakes…by that I mean, some of the boys, once they have fathered too many ducklings, go onto freezer camp. But if we rotate them though hens, tracking which keeper hens are parented by whom, we can cycle them through the drakes with very little inbreeding.

And then…
Just for even more fun.
Our local mega mart has gotten in their cases of roma tomatoes.
Look, I *want* to say that I’ve 1000% figured out our micro climate and am rolling in the tomatoes so much so that I have more than I can put up…but I’d be lying.
So I watch the local canning groups for reports of the 1/2 bushels arriving, and when that happens, I send the Hubby off to get me some.
If I wait beyond the first week craziness, the prices tend to drop and I can get 3-400lbs of tomatoes for a really good price.
Then comes the canning.
And the crying.
And the reminding myself that there’s no crying in canning!!
Oh yeah, and the insane loopiness.
Which is alleviated with a nice cold drink at the end of the day.

Ah well, soon enough the summer/fall work will be done, and we’ll transition seasons.
As always, the wheel continues to turn…

Emma Birb

Back on August 2nd, I noticed our Emma turkey hen was missing, had been for about 3ish days…and then out of the blue, she popped up out of the former duck yard (which is massively overgrown with weeds).
That’s another one of the shitty things about flooding (aside from all the obvious ones) is that weed seeds come from where ever the water did to establish themselves exactly where you don’t want them…
At least in this case, those giant sumpweed trees (because they really are the size of smaller trees!) have come in handy…but I think I’m gonna burn ’em down this fall.

So I said to the family that I think Emma is broody and has a nest in that yard…Hubby waded into the mess of weeds and, in fact, did find her sitting a nest.
So that was cool.
By that time, she’d been sitting for 3 days. I figured in another 25 or so, we oughta see poults.
And, guess what??
Thursday, 28 days after she’d gone missing she appeared with…

8 poults.
There’s only 7 in the picture because my Kid was cuddling one…baby turkeys are super cute little fuckers, and must be cuddled. 😉

Sure can see that Oscar’s influence on them…Oscar is my auburn tom, Emma is an auburn too…huh, I might be breeding a flock of auburn Narragansetts!
😂😂😂

Now poor 12 and 13 (who are traditional bronze colours) are trying hard af to go broody too.
They really want what Emma has.
But, nope.
Way too late now.
Bad enough that there’s a chicken in the same mess of weeds sitting on a nest of turkey eggs…
I really oughta go in and candle them and see how far along the eggs are.
If they’re not far, I should just take ’em away.
But, poults!
😂😂😂

At least I know that the Oscar Meyer Wiener is doing his job!!

Planning Homemade Wines

This past week I discovered we have a chokecherry tree in our pasture.
The same pasture the horses are in.
This is both a good thing to have, and a very, very bad thing to have.

It’s good because chokecherries make an amazing wine.
A rich red that, done right, is absolutely delicious.
It’s bad because chokecherries are highly toxic to horses.
As in, death can occur within minutes of eating any part of the bush/tree.

So, obviously, this cannot stay.
We’ll be cutting and burning it out this weekend.
Thankfully, The Merry Mares are not in the front pasture right now because we have some visitors for the next month:

We were asked by a local honey farmer if we’d be willing to let him put some hives in our pasture for a month or so…in exchange, we’d get some honey.
Uh, okay. 🙂
So the horses are locked out of the front, because I have absolute faith in 1. Sable to try to make friends with the bees and get stung (wherein we’d find out she’s deathly allergic to stingy/buzzy things and have to use aaaaaaalllllll The Kid’s epi-pens to keep her alive ’til Dr. Neil got here) 2. Astrid to eat bees as they come out of the hive to do their jobs and 3. both Ruby and Astrid knocking hives over to get at the sweet yummy goodness inside (being the sweet toothed Walking Stomachs that they are)…
The farmer insisted that horses are fine with the hives, and we didn’t have to lock them out, but really, it’s easier this way…plus then we can just leave the gate open for when he has to come check on them and do whatever they need to do (I know nothing about beekeeping other than the Winnie the Pooh thing of I love to eat honey!).
And then we can deal with the chokecherry safely.

The other day I picked the chokecherries off (there wasn’t nearly as many as I had hoped there would be(e)…😂😂😂) and popped them in the freezer.
I have 2 black currant bushes that have been producing amazingly well this year, but they’re not all ripening at the same time, so, I pick them as they ripen and freeze.
To go with that, the hawthorn tree is *loaded* with berries. That will be ready soon…I have to keep an eye on them so the wild birds don’t get them before I do…
That will give me a 3 berry combination for my Samhain wine.

(If talk of spirits and witchcraft bothers you, stop reading here…)

Back in 2020 on Samhain (Hallowe’en for most) I crafted a beet root wine.
It was done with intention.
Beets were pulled from the ground on the day, and with a prayer of thanks to the Earth for growing food for us.
The evening was thick with energy and power, between being the time when the Veil between the world is the thinnest and we were in the midst of an incredibly powerful windstorm.
Normally I’ll push the wind limits for a bonfire on Samhain, but that year even I wasn’t chancing it.
But we did do the re-setting of the wards around the Farm, with salt and incantations.
And then I came in and brewed up the beet root wine…

Last Samhain, when re-setting the wards (basically an energy grid fueled by the land and our intentions to keep all the nasty shit/energy out of the Farm) I used the beet root wine as the foundation, with salt again.
And what does beet root wine taste like?
Like this:

So I still have this year’s bottle for this year’s celebration.
I also have the “1 for whenever…” bottle.
But after that?
Well, this year is the year to brew up another Witch’s Brew for next year.
And this year’s brew will be based on the chokecherry (powerful enough to kill in minutes, but sweet enough to make delicious wine), black currants (sweet and sour), and hawthorn berries (like chockecherry, powerful enough to kill, but makes a sweet, fruity, delicious jelly and wine).
It’ll be put together on Samhain and it will age the full year before bottling on Samhain.
Some will be kept for the bottling year’s Working, and the rest will be bottled for subsequent years.
I hope, after a few years of crafting wines like this, to have a nice selection of spiritually and power based wines to pick from as needed.

(end witchcraft talk for those who want to come back in)

Earlier in the week Hubby made a pit stop at the local brew shop we frequent for some supplies for me:

The oak chips go into a plain sugar shine to impart a whiskey flavouring.
I haven’t gotten up to doing full grain mashes yet, so this is how I make “whiskey”.
😉
The bag of juniper berries is to impart a gin flavouring.
The really big bag underneath is 2.2lbs of elderberries.
That will be used for tinctures, fermented honey, a small batch of wine, and immune boosting syrup.
And that bag of yeast?
Lemme tell you about that bag of yeast…

That there is 100 packets of Super B wine yeast. Good for all sorts of fruit wines, works well in most temps. (obviously extremes will stress it), and has an alcohol tolerance to 18%.
It’s a lovely all around easy to use wine yeast.
And work gangbusters for mash bases for shines too.
It’s listed on the brew shop’s website for $.25/packet.
Great frickin’ price, since it’s normally $1.75. And even that’s a great price compared to other shops where the EC 1118 equivalent is $2.99/pckt.
I took a chance on Super B several years ago when the shop had a “all you can fit in your hand for $5” sale.
For $5 I got 48 packages (hooray for freakishly large hands for a woman!!) and even though they were dated 2014, I haven’t had a single one not do the job.
So, when I saw $.25/pckt, I asked Hubby to zip over for 100 of them.
Well…
It turned out the “all you can fit…” sale was still going on.
And the fellow ringing up the purchases said “huh. Looks like a handful to me”.
So my bag of yeast was a whopping $5.
Yeah.
That’s freaking awesome.
🙂

So right now I have a giant sugar mash going, for making tincture bases.
Then I have some frozen pineapple (Yay for the Flashfood app, where you can get boxes of cheap fruits!) to make a pineapple wine. Made one earlier this year with brown sugar…OMG.
One of the best wines I’ve made!
So that’s next.
Then I have some strawberries in the freezer (I actually made it out picking, so froze enough for a batch of wine) that I’m going to mix with some homegrown rhubarb.
I hate rhubarb as a fruit, but as a wine?
Yeah, there’s a reason I’ve got a handful of rhubarb plants going now.
😉
And after that?
Well, I just don’t know.
I suspect it’ll be another green tomato, since I bottled that (and distilled some) and I’m sure there will be green tomatoes in my garden at the end of the season.
There’s always an apple based something or other to do too…our apple trees have a good amount on them for young trees, so maybe that…
Or maybe I’ll get brave and try a carrot wine.
*shrug*
I know it sounds crazy, but who would have though green tomato would be good?
And it is, it’s one of my go-to wines to make.
Why not carrot too?

Growing the Food Forest

A while back I got it into my head that I needed to try propagating the grape vine.
Right around the time I spotted clusters of grapes growing on her.
Y’see, this vine came from a friend’s place, where they decided that they no longer wanted it, and I was looking for a good cold hardy grape to add to our food forest.
So when she asked if I wanted it, I said “absolutely!!”
Then it took a bit to get the vine here, and it’s been 3 years (this is her 3rd summer in our garden) and this year she took off like crazy.
So I cut a short piece, made some smaller pieces, used some rooting hormone and started some cuttings.
4 have taken and have massive roots.
2 softwood, 2 hard wood.
This fall when she gets pruned, I’ll start a whole bunch more.
Because growing food is always a good thing.
🙂

The other day tho…
My brain said “Hey!! The grapes are expanding, why not try the black currants?”
So I did:

I’ll just start with the 2 cuttings (right now, after fall leaf drop I may cut a few more) and see how it goes.

Also…
Since we cleaned out the muscovy hens mass of sat upon but only 4 hatched eggs, they’ve begun laying again.
And I know the eggs are fertile.
Muscovy drakes are whores.
😂😂😂
We’re getting 10 or so eggs a day.
And normally, at this time of year, we’d sell them for people who like eating duck eggs, or feed them back to the hens. I personally don’t care for muscovy eggs, I find they have a fishy taste to them, no matter what we’re feeding.
So, I thought I should put a bunch in the incubator.
Why?
Well, chicken and turkey eggs are easy as pie to hatch in an incubator.
I’ve never had a successful duckling hatch.
So, with eggs that are extras, this is the perfect time for me to see if I can get them to hatch.
Then, once I get that perfected, in spring I can run an incubator load while the hens get ready to sit their nests. And I can take whatever pekin eggs we have to incubate too…
That way, in the fall, when we go to cull back to our breeding flock, (the theory is) we should have ample freezer birds.
So that’s where we’re at.
Always planning on growing more food as much as we can.
Some days, it’s all my poor little brain can think about.
😂😂😂
Oh and since I last posted, I turned 50 (on Sunday) and the Farm turned 9 (on Tuesday)
So, woohoo for that.

Funny People ~ aka You Can’t Please Everyone

It’s true.
You can’t please everyone.
Lately, I have posted more foraging/herbalism and Farm life stuff on my personal FB.
I’m happy and excited about the things I’m learning and making and harvesting…and want to share that excitement and happiness.
Previously (and likely again in the future) I have posted ranty, anti-govt stuff.
Because I hate the govt.
All govt.
Not just 1 party, but all of them, because they’re all the same, just with different coloured candy coatings.
And no matter what I post, I get “why aren’t you posting about _____ anymore?”
*shrug*
Because I don’t want to.
Post anti-govt stuff and people lose their minds.
Post herbalism/Farm stuff and people assume things.
Either way, no one is completely happy with my posts.
And for the record, I will, always and forever, use the hashtag #fuckthegovt because, welp, fuck the govt.
😉

Today I felt like posting a cute picture of a duckling cuddled up to our Daisy Mae:

Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll post something anti govt.
Or not.
Whatever.
But whatever I do post is up to me…and anyone who doesn’t like what I do post is welcome to not read it.
Because y’know what?
You can’t please everyone.
And I’m not out to please anyone but myself.
🙂

August

Not sure how it’s gotten to be August already, but I’m not ready for it to be August already.
Not like anyone asks me if I’m ready, or anything…
😂😂😂

Today was “take away all the duck eggs from the broody duck hens” day.
Which was not really fun, because 9 broody duck hens all trying to lob off broody duck hen shit at you for stealing their babies is really, really disgusting.
And, those bitches can aim.
Which is why you *never* pick up a broody duck hen.
Rubber boots must be worn, and you kinda scoot ’em along out of the coop, while a 2nd person makes sure they don’t dash right back in.

I candled all the eggs.
59 of them.
Gave 11 that look like they might be within a week or so of hatching to the broody chicken hens on the deck.
The rest were either not developing (too fresh) or really, really rotten.
Listen, when a black egg sloshes, you hold that veeeeerrry carefully while you dash to the fire pit where you’re gonna toss ’em.
You never want to have a rotten egg burst in your hand.
Ever.
🤢🤮

So that’s that.
From here on out, we collect duck eggs daily to try to break the hens of their broodiness.
Then the girls can just enjoy the rest of the summer being ducks, instead of sitting nests and chirping.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stupid turkeys were out this morning.
The whites are getting bigger and bigger, and they keep following the grasshoppers all over the place.
Unfortunately, one place they follow them to is the road in front of our property…and I can’t have my dumbass birds out on the municipal road. They’re too stupid to move for vehicles, and I don’t want anyone getting hurt because my birds are stupid.
So we have built them a yard (which does need to be expanded), with a top on it…but we don’t worry about keeping the top on when they’re locked in their coop at night…well, I guess I forget to latch their door properly, and the jerks pushed their way out this morning.
The whites were easy to catch…
They see me, The Food Lady, and come running…
So I scooped them up and dropped them back into their yard, except for the few who dashed off into the tall weeds hooting “fuck you Lady, you’ll never catch us!!”
Except I will come supper time for sure because their turkey bellies will cry for foods and there’s none out anywhere for them to steal from other birds…eat bugs and weeds or go without…and eventually they’ll come back for the easy to eat stuff…and I I just might give everyone who was a good bird and stayed in their pen some hard boiled eggs today…that will show ’em to stay the fuck home.
😂😂😂

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dingus the Narragansett is out of the garage now.
Took a bit longer than I wanted…truth be told, I was just going to butcher him, but I have no freezer space right now.
So he’s in a brooder with his own yard.
It’s not a huge space, but it’s infinitely better than being in the garage long-term, and he gets to get outside now…so he’ll spend the rest of summer strutting and dancing, trying to convince any bird that comes near him how amazingly handsome he is, and then in the Fall, he’ll go to Freezer Camp.

Emma, one of my Narragansett hens, has gone off on walkabout.
I’m 98% certain I know where she is, and even more certain she’s sitting a nest.
In the former pig/duck yard, the weeds have grown to 6 feet in height (I really should find some herbivore to put in there to eat them, but time and money have been short) and I’m pretty sure she’s in there…she’s been seen going in and out of the hutch in there, but she’s not sitting in there.
And, I’m not motivated enough to wander through the weeds to see if I can find her…
She’ll either return in 25ish days (she’s been gone solid for 3 days) with some poults or she won’t return…and if she doesn’t return, I’ll assume a coyote got her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Garden is growing well.
Pulled out all the pea plants and harvested those.
Now I’m replanting for a Fall crop.
Still working on weeding and mulching…that’s gonna happen until everything is pulled out.
Beans are flowering gangbusters.
Same with San Marzano tomatoes.
Other tomatoes are a bit behind, but, we’ll see what happens.
My stinging nettles are ready for their next harvest…I’ll be cutting them severely to harvest for teas, tinctures, and fertilizer.
They’re tough as hell plants, so I don’t worry about them coming back next year.
Once I do that, I can open the gate for The Merry Mares to go back into the front pasture.

Mullein is ready for harvest too.
I ran the still for my tincture base, so I’m ready to get that going.
I feel like the mullein tincture is going to be an important one this winter.
That and the elderberry syrup…and hyssop cough syrup…
Not interested in getting into any political/world debates, just feel like I need to do everything I can to take care of mine.
No one else in this world is going to, I sure the hell am.

Haying is rolling along too…
There’s a lot of grass out there to get cut still.
The feed she dis filling nicely with hay bales.
The stuff that got rained on too many times has entertained the ducks and geese immensely.
We used it as bedding for them once it finally dried.
It was too dusty for the Mares, but perfect for a bunch of crazy birds to dig through and poop in.

Fall is coming.
So is winter.
It’s getting busier, with us trying to get everything done we need to get done, plus anything extra.
I hope that winter will be less of an asshole to us this year.
Fingers crossed.
😂😂😂