So Frickin’ Close

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!
🙂

Anatomy of a Turkey Dinner

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…

May Long Weekend

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.

Lesson Learned…Again

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.

Our new feed shed…

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.
🙂

The Gardening Begins…

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.
🖤🖤🖤

Lucy Goosey

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*

Anyways…

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!!
😭

C’mon Spring!!

Astrid’s coat tells me that Spring is here:

She all but frickin’ exploded with glee yesterday as I used my glove to scrub some of the loose winter coat out…it’s muddy AF out there in the pasture, so I’m trying to remember the shedding blade when we go to feed their pails of beet pulp, but I only have 2 hands and there’s 3 mares and everyone is itchy, itchy, itchy and wanting to be groomed soooooo bad!

Well, next week that oughta get easier.
We’ve got another round of moisture falling from the sky this weekend.
Like, wth??
For some reason Mother Nature thinks she should make up for 4 years of drought in a few months time…
But next week, we’re looking like this:

And if those temps actually happen?
(That’s celcius, btw)
Then the water is going to soak in nicely.
And what doesn’t soak in should run off as the ditches finally open up properly.
Then?
Then the grass starts to grow.
The mares are already out in the non-flooded spots nibbling the tender shoots…and yeah, I know I should keep them off of it, but frankly, I can’t.
It’s the only high ground they’ve got other than a space that would (if fenced) be a teeny corral that barely fits the 3 of ’em.

So while the rain falls this weekend, I’ll be transplanting tomatoes.
My seeds have come up fantastically, and I have a whole bunch to up pot.
Got a few peppers to do the same with…and I have to restart my poblanos.
*insert grouchy face here*
I ended up with an aphid infestation.
I had originally used a vodka/peroxide mixture to spray the soil and plants down.
Every couple of days and finally got rid of them.
Or so I thought…
Little green bastards came back with a vengeance and in one of the gardening groups, neem oil was suggested to me…welp…I suspect I did something wrong when spraying the plants because all but 2 (of 35) have died on me…and I’m not sure the last 2 will survive.
😭😭😭
I’m a fair bit gutted about it.
But, as always, I’ll just give ‘er a do-over and try again.
Thankfully, I have more poblano seeds, and I winter sowed a container of them…those I should be seeing some sprouts in very soon!Especially with next weeks nice weather.

Every year I find there is some sort of challenge and every year I find myself reaching the point of Que Sera Sera…this year I hit that point much sooner than normal.
Between craptastic weather, the killing of my peppers and the septic pump replacement, I’m just…

At least there’s another 4-5 weeks before our last frost date, so the poblanos might have a chance to start up again in time…if not?
Que sera sera.

The Aftermath…

This is where we’re at…
That’s my house in the background and yup, the water from the field across is coming up over the road.
And we still have a ton of snow to melt on our yard.
But, my sump pump is working, my effluent pump is working and the animals are doing alright.
So, I’m trying to be optimistic.
The weather is…welp, depends who you listen to.
Some forecasts say another Colorado low coming this weekend (that’d be 3 weekends in a row!) but others say a light drizzle over the weekend.
I’m voting for no more rain/snow ’til this all soaks in.
Here’s hoping Mother Nature listens to me, for once.
😂😂😂

Well…That Was Fun…

NOT

It seems weekends lately, instead of being the break from Hubby’s daily grind and being times of building/farming jobs, have been the times that Mother Nature is taking to beat the crap out of us.
Blizzard last weekend.
This weekend?
Torrential rains.
Roughly 75mm in 36ish hours…that’s about 3 inches…on land that hasn’t let go of the frost yet, so *nothing* is soaking in…
Then freezing rain.
And last night?
Blowing snow.
😂😂😂

And d’y’know what makes it allllll the more fun?
The ejector pump in the septic tank went.
That was Thursday.
Right before a huge rain storm moves in, because when else would your grey water pump crap out???
😂😂😂

We have a new pump sitting in the livingroom.
Had it since Friday…after calling all over the damn place to find one in stock (because pumps are in short supply right now) and then having to beg the place to hold it ’til we got there in the Big City after not finding anything at a closer hardware store.
But yeah, we got it.
And then it sat.
Can’t replace the pump while standing in a foot of water.
*sigh*
Now, it seems that the switch is what’s gone (according to my Bro who is our mechanical/engine smart guy) so a straight replace now (because we already spent the $$$ on a new pump) then a repair on the switch (if possible) to have a back up.

Oh, and yesterday??
No power.
So no sump pump running either.

Today we have power.
Today the sump pump is pumping every 20 minutes or so.
Today we swap out effluent pumps.
And try not to curse Mother Nature too loud…lest she fight back.

Not Much Goin’ On

Got through another blizzard.
Rain/snow comin’ this weekend.
Feelin’ like the winter that never wants to end.
Donkey horse did this to herself:

I’m sure she had one helluva headache after that.
She sure was grumpy with me when I poked and prodded it.
lol
Someone had to poke at it and see how bad it was.
😉
Good thing it’s not fly season or sunburn season, otherwise she’d be even unhappier with me.

This week I’m firing up the incubators.
No chickens this year.
Got no roos left.
Sadly, in the hellacious winter of 21/22, I lost all my roos to shitty weather and a respiratory infection that blew through my coops like crazy.
So only turkeys.
And a few cross bred ducks…and guinea fowl…both of those I’m picking up from a FB friend who asked if anyone was interested in some to hatch out.
Um, yeah!
Haven’t managed to have ducks hatch in the incubator (came close with a couple muscovies but they quit a week or so before they were due) and never had guinea fowl, so, for free eggs?
I’m willing to give it a try.
Now we let our duck hens do the work, because muscovies love, love, love to hatch bebes.
And aside from late season nests, I’m happy to let them.

I’m currently up to 15 turkey eggs to hatch.
Today we discovered, much to my chagrin, that one hen we thought was a hen turned out to be a tom.
So Oscar (my main tom) has only 6 girls instead of 7.
I’m just hoping that the newly discovered tom stays subservient long enough that we can get him to a better size for the freezer.
2 breeding toms is plenty and I don’t have enough hens to give Dingus any right now, so keeping a 3rd tom is just not gonna work.
Plus, toss in the whole avian influenza thing going on, selling a live bird right now is more of a pain in the ass than normal…plus, we like turkey, and we let these jerks breed so we can eat the extras, so…

Tomato seeds are popping up through the dirt.
I’m getting ready to sow a few more.
Only have 36 little cups (though each cup has more than 1 seed in it and I’ll pot up any extras that come up from those multiples…except for the San Marzano…I only had 10 of those seeds, so 1 per cup) and that ain’t going to be nearly enough tomatoes for us.
Tomatoes is like beans…I could plant an acre of ’em and that *might* be enough for us.
😂😂😂
All my other seeds that I ordered, have come in.
Hubby is just picking up bits and bobs here and there when he’s at the feed store or the hardware store.
Mostly adding to the carrots/beets supply of seeds.
We go through a lot of both.

And that’s us.
We’re just waiting on spring to really and for truly get here.
And for hands in the dirt/building season to begin.
YeeHaw.