The Garden So Far…

It’s been a busy weekend.
We have finally gotten the fencing up around the garden!
YAY!!
Now I’m working on planting without the help of asshole chickens-who-are-not-supposed-to-be-free-range-but-do-whatever-the-hell-they-want.

Yesterday I pulled out the biggest weeds from the first quarter of the garden, then planted a 20 ft row of beets, 5 20 ft rows of carrots (yes, we like carrots! between soups/stews, canned carrots for winter and fresh eating, there is never enough of them)

Then, I did a couple short rows of onions.
Today I plan to, if it doesn’t rain, get my leafy greens in…spinach, lettuce and radishes (I love the peppery flavour of radish greens πŸ™‚ ).

After that, it’s beans…hundreds of bean seeds, because like carrots, we love beans.
In soups/stews, in jars and fresh eating.
I could honestly plant my entire garden with beans and carrots and not have enough for the 3 of us.
One day, we’ll expand the garden even more and dedicate a larger area to both.

I’ve also been conditioning my straw bales for planting.
That should be this weekend.
I have 6 full medium square bales (average 400ish lbs) plus a 1/3rd of a bale that I just retied the string on.
That’s where my cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins and squashes will get planted.
I may also take one to plant sunflowers.
Ever since our first year here, I’ve been wanting to do a photo shoot with Sable eating sunflowers…because The Kid’s first garden was next to the pasture and that CinderBella ate every damn sunflower that bloomed…and did so with a huge equine grin on her face.
LOL!!
So I want to plant a bunch of them to give her a bouquet to nibble while I take pictures. πŸ˜‰

And then there’s the tomatoes to get in, and my grape plant.
Strawberries were planted, but attacked by chickens before the fence went up, so I’m watering and hoping they bounce back from those feathered assholes.

Once the tomatoes are in, and the seeds start coming up, I’ll be heavily mulching with straw.
I’m working towards the garden becoming no till.
I dislike running the rototiller just to mix up the soil and expose the good microbes to the sun…and it really does encourage weed seeds to grow.
So, I’m going no-till.
Lots of mulch, pulling weeds as needed and in the fall, with the fence in, the ducks will go there to finish any weeding before the winter hits.
My garden has great soil already, I just want to keep it that way. πŸ™‚
In the fall, we’ll add more rotted manure (because I have 3 poop factories working 24/7) and whatever straw bales from my bale gardening that are too decomposed to be grown in next year.

The chicks have been growing like crazy.
We cleaned up the old duck house, and the meat chicken house and both are ready for the meaties to make the transition to outdoor living.
Pretty sure that’s going to happen this coming weekend.
Then, if my incubator ever arrives…oy, the problems I’ve been having with Purolator!! That’s a whole different, expletive laden post, let me tell you…one the incubator arrives, I’ll fill it with eggs, and then we’ll have 3ish weeks to get the brooder cleaned out for the next round of chicks.
Home hatched chicks.
Eeeeee!! The excitement. πŸ˜€

Piglets will be arriving in about a week.
They’re ready to be off mama on the 27th. They’ll be 8 weeks by then, so should have a really good start.
We changed up the breed this year…thus far we’ve raised pinkies. But, they’re not bred for outdoor living like we like our pigs to live. It takes them time to adjust, time that should be spent growing. And while we’ve, for the most part, been happy with our end products, I feel we could do better with a heritage breed that’s bred for outdoor life.
So, with the help of a neighbour, we found 3 berkshire piglets.
I’m looking forward to seeing how our feed management and raising techniques work on these guys in comparison.

And finally, we have 1 duck and 1 chicken hen gone broody on a nest of chicken and duck eggs.
That started around the beginning of the month, so hopefully we’ll be seeing chicks from them soon.
They have this odd co-parenting thing going on, and I’m just letting them do their thing.
It’s either going to work or it’s not.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
πŸ™‚

gratuitous horse picture, because every post should have a picture of one of the Merry Mares. πŸ˜‰

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Now We’re Getting Busy!

Remember how I was complaining that we were in the “hurry up and wait” holding pattern?
Yeah, we’re out of that and working our butts off to get things going for growing.

We picked up the last of the garden seeds I needed to get for planting.
Now we’re at the “pull wire ’round the garden” stage…Hubby already put in the posts around the garden, and we were right on track to pull the wire fencing…until we discovered that we were out off cable ties.
I know, it’s crazy to think that anyone on a farm would run out of cable ties, but it happened, and we stalled.
Hubby stopped and picked up a hundred of them, and we’re ready to pull fencing…that’s going to happen this weekend, so that I can start planting things like carrots and peas and beets…because until the fence is up, I can’t plant anything because of asshole-not-supposed-to-be-free-ranging chickens. πŸ˜‰

Lemon chicken…she does what she wants.

Once the fencing is up, we’re good to go.
Plus, I have to build a gate, but we can use temporary measures for a day or two until that’s done.

The meat chickens are 2 weeks old now…and eating like crazy.
Between them and the replacement eggies, they’re going through pounds of feed a day.
We’ve had very little losses too this year. 5 meaties and 1 eggie.
After last year’s fiasco, we made sure to change things so that everyone did better this year, and so far, so good!
We have a huge brooder that came with the garage when we bought the place. It has it’s failings (it’s 5 feet tall and the door is too small for any normal sized human to climb through), but those can be fixed later on. Right now Hubby climbs in, morning and night, to refill feeders and waterers. Once this batch of chicks moves off to the poultry yard, we’ll change the design of the brooder and install a bigger door for ease of getting into.

We’re also hoping to build another brooder in our Little Red Shed.
Oh!
Have I not shared about the Little Red Shed??

Our new feed shed…

Hubby made a deal for the shed, but the catch was we had to move it roughly 5 miles.
To do that, a friend of Hubby’s from work came out with a crew, loaded it up and brought it home to us.
Sounds easy, but it took some work, and it was pretty amazing seeing this building being hauled down our road!

So now, Hubby and I are discussing turning 1/2 of that shed into a chick brooder with different sections for different ages and breeds.
Why?
Because for Mother’s Day…
I GOT AN INCUBATOR!!!

Now I’m just waiting for it to arrive, so I can take a bunch of our Easter Egger eggs and try to hatch them out.
Of the 18 EE chicks I bought last year, 5 were hens.
LOL!!
Not that having a whole bunch of roosters to grow out is a huge deal, because they simply go to Freezer Camp.
We kept one, and he’s been diligently fertilizing eggs every chance he gets. So, since none of my hens are showing interest in hatching eggs (and I was so hopeful after the one in the Fall decided she was going to!) I began looking for a cost effective incubator.
When I found what I wanted Hubby said “Ok. Go ahead and buy it. Happy Mother’s Day.”
πŸ˜€

Also on the list of things to get done for growing season…

~ Clean up around the fruit trees/bushes.
My currants and honeyberries are poppin’!!
Huge growth so far on both, but I need to clean up the grasses underneath and around them, and put down a mulch to keep the weeds down. And add some rotted manure for fertilizer.
Apples and pears are a little slower, but still doing well…maybe this might be the year to get some fruit? I’m hopeful!

~ Give the horse shelter a deep cleaning.
Hasn’t been done since February and we’re now at that stage where it needs to be cleaned out to the dirt and have fresh straw tossed in for the summer.
Besides, I’ll need the rotted manure compost for the Fall to add to the garden.

~ Time to prep the straw bales for the straw bale gardens.
I’ve got the 5 big bales to grow in, so I’m going to do that. But they have to be “seasoned” first and that takes about 2 weeks of watering and fertilizing.

~ Get the piggies!
This weekend, hopefully, we’ll go on a drive to pick up 3 little piggies who will grow into our winter bacon/hams/chops/stew.

And soon it’ll be haying season, because I will continue to cut hay every chance I get. Those small bales I put up have come in handy soooooo many times!
And, there is still talk about getting a calf to grow out for meat.
I had a chance to do so this year, but just ran out of finances…
Sometimes, no matter how much you want something, you have to weigh what would, in the end, be the better investment for the farm.
This year I had the choice of adding an incubator, chicken plucker, and a high quality pair of hoof nippers for Hubby, or a calf.
Yeah, I had to go with the 3 investments in self sustainability this year. :/

And, of course, once the garden produces, canning season ramps back up.
*sigh*
This is the stuff I love.
This is what I dream about all winter.
Getting things growing and getting things stored and put up on the shelves and in the freezer for the next winter.

In between it all, I sneak out at sunrise to take pictures of the Merry Mares…because sunrise is always going to be my favorite time of day to take their pictures.
❀

Ruby

Sable…with Astrid behind her.

Here’s to busy summer days…and rain as needed.
❀

Itchy, Itchy, Itchy

This is a tough time of year for me.
There’s so much that I want to get going on the Farm, but the weather…oh lawdy the weather!

98% of our snow has melted.
A lot of the resulting water from that has soaked in.
But…
There’s still too much water to take the tractor into the pasture.
The ground is still too wet to rake the yard(s)…which also means it’s too wet to use the tractor to move big bales of straw to the garden.
The garden is drying out nicely, and I could probably think about pulling out the rototiller…except I really want to move to a no-till garden.
Which means getting the big straw bales I have for the garden over there, using the tractor, where it’s too wet to use the tractor without ripping up the lawn/pasture something fierce.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

And that’s my conundrum.
So much to do, but hurry up and wait before I can do it.

At least my tomatoes have started.
I already ordered more, because with what I can start in the various places in the house, it’s still not enough for our garden.
And we need to figure out how to keep the rotten not-supposed-to-be free ranging asshole chickens out of the garden so they don’t destroy tender shoots when they start coming up.
Like they did my garlic.
Assholes.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Lemon Chicken…she does what she wants…like standing onΒ  one leg to make people think she’s a one-legged chicken when she’s not. She’s just a feathered asshole.

Soon enough I know it’ll be time, and I’ll have more work to do getting the garden and food animals going that I won’t even have time to think.
But for right now, there’s too much time to think while I plot and plan and long for things to dry up enough that we can get going.
πŸ™‚

 

Gearing up for Growing Season

Whew!!
We made it to April!
I swear, this felt like the winter-that-wouldn’t-end.
And we’re still not out of the woods, because there’s a chance of snow tomorrow with big wind gusts.

Here though, we’re working on garden plans, meat animal plans and building plans.

3 of my 4 large straw bales are in place and ready for conditioning.
Those will get the vining plants…cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini and maybe a type of winter squash, like butternut or acorn or something…haven’t decided 100% yet.
That’s going to leave the garden for tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans, peas, lettuce, onions, spinach and beets.
I try to grow a lot of the things we eat the most.
I don’t grow a huge variety of things, but I’m always willing to try new things, if the family will eat them.
Even with as much land as we have, there isn’t space for things that we’re not going to eat (or can’t be fed to animals).

Yesterday I ordered 36 tomato plants, to go with the 40 pots I planted with seeds.
I also ordered a grape vine.
Friends are going to split their strawberries this year and I’m lucky enough to benefit from that…mmmm!! I’d love to have my own huge strawberry patch!
Definitely something to work towards. I definitely have the land for it!

Pepper seeds are starting to pop up.
Slowly, but still coming up.

Hubby cleaned out and fixed up the large brooder in the garage a few weeks ago, so we’re ready for chicks at the end of this month.
We’ll be getting 20 eggies to eventually replace the hens we have now, and 50 meat chicks.
If all goes well, and everyone grows well, that’s a lot of food for the freezer.
We had some issues last year, and we’ve worked to correct them, so to cut our losses.
Even though we’re raising the meaties for food, it is our duty to make sure we’re doing so in the very best way possible, so that they are happy, healthy birds until their last day.
Happy food tastes better!

Canning has begun for the year, with 14 pints of dried chickpeas done yesterday.
Next week I’ll send Hubby to the mushroom plant and do those again. Didn’t take us long to eat the jars I did after Christmas.
No joke, we love mushrooms here!
πŸ™‚

And sunrise is coming so much sooner.
I’m loving the earlier days, and later evenings.
I’m feeling ready (almost) for the growing season.
Excited to get my hands in the dirt.
Longing for harvests to line the shelves with food for next winter.
Because winter is always coming.

As the days grow longer, the night temperatures are slowly rising to above 0*C.
When we have at least a week of above 0* overnight, then I can put my Cookie back into maceration to finish the last little bits that need to be done.
I hope she will be done in time for the fall, so I can work on the travel photo series I have planned for her. ❀

For right now though, we’re waiting for the final melt, for Lake Midnight to soak in, for the pasture to grow, for the frost to come out of the ground so we can get to work in the garden.

And Ruby?
She’s working hard on that food baby belly and napping in the sunshine. πŸ˜‰

Tired…But Hopeful for Spring

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m tired of talking about the weather. Not that there’s much else to talk about these days, with how the weather dominates everything we do at this time of year.

Honestly, how can we *not* talk about -40*c temperatures?
With windchills in the mid to high -50*c range?
How we survived it for near on to a week, with very few little glitches?
How the Merry Mares came through with kicking, bucking, galloping, playing colours?
And now how we’re under a snowfall warning and could see as much as 8 inches of snow by tomorrow morning?
But we’re lucky where we are, because south of us, they could see upwards of 15 inches…so there’s that.

It’s tiring though, when we’re longing for spring and sunshine and warmth that doesn’t come from the furnace…

In 25 days I will start my pepper seeds.
2 weeks after that, I will start my tomato seeds.
I’m clinging to that, because that’s my sign of spring is coming.
I’ve been ready to start seeds for months.
I’ve studied what worked last year, what I can do better with this year, and made my list of what I need to buy for seeds to get going.
I’ve been diligently cleaning the horse shelter to grow the compost pile to add to the garden next fall.
I’ve also been on top of the household compost and look forward to it cooking down some once the melt hits.
Then I can clean out the poultry coop and put the bedding/waste in the bottom of the bin when we move it.

We never did get a fence built around the garden, so I’m hoping to get that done this year. We found a couple of dog run style chain link set ups this past summer, and I’m hoping to use one of those.
I really want to be able to pen the poultry into the garden at the end of the year to act as the clean up crew.
Makes my life so much easier in the spring!

In the meantime, since it’s been way too cold to take the camera out to capture the Merry Mare’s in their playing glory, The Kid and dressed up the cats.
Nancy was not happy and none of his shots turned out…unless you like flaily blurs of tabby running away from the camera.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Daisy Mae, however….


And this one…


Next up, I’m going to crochet her a little hat and scarf set.
A chicken hat.

There’s a reason for it to be a chicken hat…

See that chicken in the back?
The light coloured one?
That’s Lemon Chicken.
That’s her name. She’s one of my green egg layers.
She’s also a brat who loves to come up on the deck and eat the cat food I put out for the outdoor cats.
Well, we’ve had some rather lovely days, where she’s been wandering about the yard like she likes to do.
One of those days, I came back from collecting eggs in the coop to find her at the back door, having a conversation with little miss Daisy Mae through the door.
There was cooing and chirping from Lemon Chicken and mewing and other odd noises from Daisy Mae…
Un-fricken-believable.
The cat and the chicken have decided they’re pals.

So, once things warm up enough that Lemon Chicken starts free ranging again (even though she’s *supposed* to stay in the chicken yard), the plan is for the unlikely friends to have a face to face meeting.
And Daisy Mae will be wearing a crocheted chicken hat.
Hilarity oughta ensue.

 

Brrrrr!!

It’s been a chilly week!
But things here on the Farm are still chugging along.
πŸ™‚

The chickens are starting to lay with a little more consistency.
Finally!
We’ve waited a long time to get these eggie chicks to the point of lay. Soon enough, I should have some eggs that I can sell again.
That will be nice!
I’ve had a few green shelled eggs from the easter egger hens, but not many. I have 4 hens that should be giving me colours (maybe 5, I’m not 100% sure) but I’ve had 3 green eggs…and the easter eggers are older than the brown egg layers, who are getting a little more regular…

One morning last week though, it was really cold and I figured I best check the auto waterer to make sure the Merry Mares water hadn’t frozen over on them…imagine my surprise when Daphne dives under a board in the long grass…I’m thinking “oh shit, she found a skunk!!” but with no immediate stink blast, I figured that couldn’t have been it.
Nope.
Turns out she chased one of my little black hens off a nest of eggs…

16 eggs!!

Stinker had been out all night, instead of coming back to the coop, and was just plain lucky *something* didn’t find her in the night and make a meal of her!
But, she had 16 eggs under her, 10Β  of which were green.

Not knowing how long they were there, I took them away and float tested them. They seemed like they might be alright, but I still wasn’t sure. So, I cracked them all open.
Turns out, they were fine, though only a handful were fertilized.
Even if the all had been, it’s not a great time of year for chicks anyways…but I now know which hen could be broody in the spring. She, and a few other hens, will get separated off with the one rooster we keep to lay and set eggs in the spring for flock regeneration. Honestly, I’d love to get away from buying hatchery birds for eggs, if I can. And if I can get hens to do the hatching work that’s even better. I have no real interest in using an incubator.
I scrambled the 16 eggs and gave them to the chickens as a treat…their excitement at that made the sting of losing 16 eggs a little less painful.
lol

And then, there was Daphne and her stick…

“I want this one!”

Pulling the stick out of the hobo barrel fire pile…

“MY STICK”

She was rather proud of herself for getting it…

“I am triumphant!!”

*sigh*
My dog is weird.

Cleaning Out the Garden

Hey, hi there!

Can you believe we’re mid-September already?
This summer…just wasn’t long enough, I tell ya!
I’ve started the garden clean out and it just feels wrong. 😦
Saturday we have a chance of frost, so things have to start coming out.
The last 2 days, I spent picking tomatoes and pulling the plants out. And the clean up crew has been having a grand time with tomato plants!

nom nom nom
This good stuff, Food Lady!

Excuse the picture quality…everything is from my phone, because Voldemort doesn’t come outside when I’m working in the garden. πŸ™‚

chicken in the tomato jungle…

She was not impressed that the jungle kept getting smaller and smaller!
πŸ˜‚
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Every year I try to pay attention to what grows well for us and what doesn’t.
This year we planted some Roma tomatoes that we bought through a friend’s sons school fundraiser.
Well, let me tell you, these plants were fucking awesome!!!
Check this out:

look at all the tomatoes on there!

I had to cut branches off to get to the tomatoes inside the growth of plant. Like they were so bushy and dripping with fruit.
Awe. Some.
So, they are a definite for next year’s garden.
Especially when you factor in that I didn’t do any watering, because our hose doesn’t reach. And, we had a drought this summer…
Imagine if they had regular watering!!
Oh, and if the stupid chickens hadn’t eaten so many…
Yeah, Romas are a must.

All told, once my plants were stripped, I have 5 5 gallon pails of tomatoes.
Some I’ll let ripen, some are ripe so we’ll eat those and many of the greenies will become wine.
Yum!

I thought my green beans were done and was leaving them to go to seeds for next year.
Hahahaha!
They’ve had other ideas.
Oh, some have big fat pods that are no good for anything but seed, but there’s a ton of pods that are good for eating right away.
I picked just about 2 pounds last time, and it looks like I’ll get that again.
Fine by me.
πŸ™‚

And then, that Daphne had a digging frenzy last week.
Why?
Because she’s a dog, and she can.
But she found this:

how cool is this??

It’s broken and dirty, but with a little elbow grease, I think I can fix it up. I think it’ll be perfect hung over the back door.

And finally, a picture of our Sable…

Whatcha doin’ CinderBella?

This is from way back in July, when she wasn’t feeling so good.
She’s always been a waterbaby, so we didn’t think too much of it…until we talked to her vet about and we all put 2 and 2 together.
Ms Merry Mare was trying to make herself feel better by cooling her hooves.
If it ever happens again, I’ll be sure to pay better attention to her overall demeanor, instead of just shaking my head at her antics.
It’s all we can do right?
When we know better, we work to do better.