Back before I started my tomato plants, I had an aphid infestation in my peppers. There was some treatments done, and then there was the last treatment that fried them all. There were many tears, because the poblanos were the strongest, nicest, pepper seedlings I had ever grown. But, shit happens (as they say) and they were all lost.
Today we wandered into the nearest small town to look for some parts for our bbq, and discovered the local greenhouse was clearing out their plants. So I did a thing…
A 6 pack of red peppers, a single cayenne pepper (I’m the only one here who likes spicy), and a mystery tomato…they had half a table of them…bit of an accident led to a whole bunch of tags going missing, so they were selling ’em off as “mysteries”. 😂😂😂 Worth a buck, if you ask me. And then, the pots. The lovely woman running the greenhouse tells me I can take whatever I want because they’ll likely get tossed anyways…so I grabbed all the pink pots/trays. I like pink. I like growing plants. I like pink plant pots. I like *free* pink plant pots. 🤷♀️
So today I’m planting peppers. And working on weeding the garden. And waiting for the next round of the rains. It’s a good day. 🙂
Last of the tomatoes went in the garden today. Hear that?? That was a huge sigh of relief coming from me…and the joyous meowing of a tabby who can now lie across his favorite bookcases watching the birds out the window without getting yelled at by Mom… I’ve got a few little things to tuck into corner spaces, but the bulk of the big planting is done. Done enough for the “All In” dance. Or a few cold beers on the deck listening to the bug zapper destroy mosquitoes. Or a good long nap. Or…all 3.
It’s now all in Mother Nature’s hands. Well, and mine for the weeding and mulching, and maybe a bit of watering…but we’ve had decent rainfall so I’m not so worried about that. Frankly, at this point, I need a few weeks *without* rain because it’s haying time and I got hay to get cut and put up for the winter. And, if my hay spots are any indication, as long as folks can get in, get it cut, then baled, it could be a damn fine year for hay. Damn fine, indeed. All we need is for Mother Nature to get a little d and be nice to us. 😂😂😂 Fingers crossed.
Oh and just for funsies? I’m going to start a few poblano peppers to grow in the house over winter…peppers are a perennial, so they make an awesome house plant…that also makes food. 😉 And I have seeds for a micro dwarf tomato that I want to try too… The house just seems dark and boring without the grow lights on. So I need to start some indoor food plants. 🙂
I only have tomato plants left to get into the garden. Well, aside from a few random winter sown plants that just need to establish before the Fall so they can come back next year…
But, for the big, need to harvest this year stuff… Tomatoes.
Yesterday I got the Ruth Stout potato patch planted. That’s the garden expansion in front of the house that will continue to expand as we go… I also mixed up a wheelbarrow load of well rotted equine poo with some topsoil and a bit of potting soil I had left over from starting seeds in the house, then laid it down in a line at the edge of the straw mulch garden, and planted rattlesnake pole beans there. After the rains stop today, I’ll get out there with the scythe and cut the grass down around it, so that this weekend we can put up the fencing to a. protect growing plants from chickens, and b. for the pole beans to climb up on.
Then I got a line of raspberry canes planted. A friend had mentioned she needed to thin her patch and asked if I wanted the canes she dug out… Um, yes please! So those are in, and getting rained on today. So now, just the tomatoes. And cutting hay…then the raking and the baling. To go with the weeding, mulching and random watering. So there you have it… Summer is underway, and we’re busy, as usual. Soon enough, harvests will start to come in, and then I’ll be working on putting those foods up…
As ever the wheel continues to turn and we must go along with it. Happy Summer Solstice all! Hope you enjoy the day…and the days of summer ahead! 🙂
Since we last talked, things have shifted in the Narragansett breeding program here. Let’s preface this entire discussion with this…
Tom turkeys are whores. The best ratio for tom to hen starts at 5 hens to 1 tom. 10 hens is better, because toms are whores. And if there’s not enough hens for the toms, the hens suffer.
So, here’s where we’re at…
I have 4 toms. Oscar, my main breeding tom, who is a lovely auburn color. He’s an asshole. He and I have had several “come to Jesus” meetings, wherein I made it known that *I* an the dominant tom in the yard and I will not put up with shitty behaviour towards the humans. He has always been respectful of the hens. Dingus, my second breeding tom, who is the traditional Narragansett colouring. He’s a good boy with humans, was a good boy on his dates with T.D., and has been good with the hens overall. Another auburn tom, who is for the dinner table once he fills out. And Wayne…Wayne is a table bird, but he’s a nice bird with greying in the traditional Narragansett colouring. While he’s pretty, he’s not breeder quality. So Freezer Camp is his destiny.
I had 5 hens. Yeah. So ratio is off, but they’ve been in a much bigger space and free ranging for the past few months and all has been well. Until yesterday. And that’s where our next turkey dinner was discovered…
So we go off at sundown to put the birds to bed in their coops, and I find StupidShit (a nasty, mean assed hen who will fight anyone, everyone, and their sister/brother) dead in the door way of the main chicken coop. And Dingus is fighting Wayne and the other auburn, forcing them out of the coop… We separated the auburn, Wayne and Oscar for the night in another shelter, so we can discuss and figure out what to do with this development. Toms fighting amongst themselves is understandable. Killing hens? That’s a Red Queen offense. And because of that, we need to be 100% sure of our decision before acting on it.
Over a glass of wine, we rehashed our winter, where we were finding dead turkeys and ducks in the turkey yard…at first we had thought that the weather was getting to them…then we figured out there were issues between Oscar and Dingus (because Dingus went over to the chicken coop and the deaths stopped.) We assumed it was Oscar killing the other birds due to jealousy, because Oscar is the dominant tom. But then, Oscar and the rest of the flock ended up in the garage…and we had thought that he was the only tom. But we discovered that there were 2 others in with him….Wayne and the other auburn. *We* didn’t know they were toms, but *Oscar* would have. Huh. We didn’t think anything of it, we had no deaths of hens, and all did great until we moved them to their outdoor quarters…and they all had access to Dingus again. And then, last night… A dead hen, and Dingus aggressively fighting Wayne and the other auburn. Hmmmm… So separation ’til this morning. Once the hutch where the 3 toms was opened, they hopped over back to their chicken yard, where Dingus immediately went at them. So Dingus was moved to the other yard…and that lasted about a minute before he went back over and started shit…while hens cowered in a corner of the yard. Uh. Huh.
And so, now Dingus is in bird jail in the garage, and there seems to be calm in the turkey/chicken yard. Hens are pecking and scratching and eating, Oscar is strutting (he *always* struts), Wayne is in the other yard (by choice it seems, no one put him there and he knows how to get out) and the other auburn is wandering about singing. It is clear that Dingus is the problem. And Oscar never was.
Y’all know what that means…
I have to Red Queen Dingus. He’ll get to stay in jail in the garage until the current heat wave breaks next week, and then off to the freezer he’ll go. I don’t really have room, but I’ll find a way to make him fit. There’s no room in my yard(s) for a shitty male bird. Roosters, drakes, toms. Shitty boys go to the freezer. It’s a shame I hadn’t figured out *he* was the shitty one sooner…
Garden, garden, garden. Birds, birds, birds. Work, work, work. Yard clean up again. Forage, forage, forage. More garden, garden, garden…
And started the incubator with the last 6 eggs I’m having hatch out this year…
That’s from our lone surviving Sweetgrass turkey hen, crossed with our big Narragansett boy Dingus.
I’m hoping for super hardy poults…there were many times through the winter from hell that we thought T.D wouldn’t be alive the next day…and yet, that tough little turkey-who-thinks-she’s-a-duck pulled through every. single. time.
So we’re hoping that tenacity breeds true…while Dingus is an amazingly sweet boy, for a tom turkey, and is easy to handle…we hope his temperament breeds true as well.
And tho T.D is a smaller turkey, we’re okay with a smaller than a regular Narragansett bird, because we often get requests for smaller turkeys for people’s freezers.
*I* like a monster bird, but not everyone does.
So I’m hopeful this heritage crossing becomes the foundation for the Midnight Calico turkey.
Our young Sweetgrass turkey hen has been adamant lately that she needs to have turkey time with Dingus, our 2nd breeding tom. I said to her “No dating ’til you lay eggs”. So last week she started laying eggs.
First day was supervised. We moved Dingus into the duck yard where T.D lives. Caramilk, one of the muscovy drakes took an instant disliking to Dingus and tried to beat him up. Kinda funny to watch, but not helpful in getting T.D’s eggs fertilized. So Caramilk got to spend some time in a big dog crate…food, water and a show while he was in (what we call) bird jail.
It takes forever for a successful turkey mating to happen. The hen has to lay down and accept the tom. Unlike chickens, where the rooster can ambush a hen and get ‘er done before she’s fully aware of what hit her. 😂😂😂
We watched Dingus dance and drum and tell T.D what an amazing, handsome, wonderful mate he would be for her…we watched her sit and get ready until the last second when he went to climb on, then she’d jump up and run away…then finally, after a good 45 minutes of “the dance”, she sat, he got on, he danced on her, she looked like he was killing her (totally normal), and then they got the deed done. Like chickens, turkeys mate with a cloacal kiss that, once they get together, takes seconds. Unlike ducks, who have corkscrew penises and mating takes a fair bit longer.
With 1 clearly sucessful mating done, Caramilk still in bird jail (and clearly outraged that this interloper was chasing *his girlfriend* around…which is something we’ll have to keep an eye on, to make sure Caramilk doesn’t try to mate T.D), we wandered off to do some garden work. Over the day, there was at least 1 more mating, and T.D laid her egg for the day. Which meant I could check Sunday’s egg for evidence of fertilization.
Saturday night we put Dingus back with the chicken hens. And moved him again Sunday for, hopefully, a few more rounds with T.D. Then we could leave Dingus back at the chicken coop and collect fertile eggs from T.D for a week to incubate. Hens will hold the tom’s sperm in their oviducts for roughly 3 weeks…so we could hatch out for that long if we wanted. Since I’m not aiming to run a whole bunch of hatches, I’ll only collect 7 eggs (after 7 days of collecting the first ones collected will drop in possibility of hatching). Next year I’ll collect more, if I like this crossing.
So Sunday I collected T.D’s egg and made sure to mark it as hers. Yesterday, I cracked it open, hopeful… Lo and behold!
It’s hard to see in the picture, but *it is there*. A bullseye around the white dot in the egg. That means T.D’s egg is fertilized. YAY! And now I’m collecting her eggs (stinker didn’t lay one yesterday) so that this weekend coming up, I’ll get them into the incubator and see what our Sweetgrass/Narragansett cross makes in poults. Fingers crossed for hardy af, super cute, well growing, not overly huge, birbs!! I’ll keep y’all updated… 😉
Yesterday we had 60 new little arrivals. That’s a lot of newbies here… Well, I guess it’s not, compared to the incubator years. It’s a lot for *this year*
First we have 25 white turkeys, 10 Lavender Orpingtons, and 10 Jersey Giants. The turkeys are, obviously, summer vacationers only. These are fast growing and fast into the freezer birds. Still, tons of fun to raise. 🙂
The chicken chicks are to help rebuild the flock and the breeding program with dual purpose birds. Both breeds lay well, and the roosters get to be a good size for the freezer. Orps average 10-12lbs, Giants 12-15lbs. Slower growing than meat chickens, better foragers, hardier birds over all. That’s what I want in our program. So this year we’ll see how many roosters we get of each and decide how many of them to keep for next year’s incubations.
5 white geese. Geese are so dramatic. 😂😂😂 Drama all the time with them…but they are funny as hell, and tasty too. I’m hoping for a breeding pair out of the 5 of them.
10 pekin ducks. They’re a meat breed, but do lay well too. Once they’re fully grown, we’ll see how the muscovies take to them…muscovies are elitists assholes. 😂😂😂 They tend to not like other birds (tho ours do have their “pet” turkey T.D.) and will shun them (at best) or try to kill them (at worst). So all the pekins may be Freezer Campers, or we may keep a trio of them for breeding. We’ll see how that goes. 🙂
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. 😂😂😂