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.
😂😂😂

Around the Farm

It’s that busy time of year where just about everything has to be done all at the same time…
Garden needs weeding and mulching.
Hay needs cutting, raking, baling.
Animals need yards, moving, shifting, getting outdoors.
And the regular day-to-day stuff still has to happen too…laundry, dishes, cleaning the house…
Give it a couple of months and we’ll be adding canning, and butchering to the list of things that need doing.
I, uh, mighta started this Farming thing a bit late in life…I’m tired.
But it’s a good tired, so not much complaining is happening.
😉

So how’s things going?

Duck and goose babies now have regular outdoor time.
That makes keeping their coop cleaner much easier.
All the food and water is out in their yard, and most of the pooping happens out there too.
😂😂😂
They’re growing like mad, eating weeds from the garden, produce from Loop, and fermented grains.
The ducks are starting to quack like normal ducks, which confuses the hell out of the muscovies.
Genetically, muscovies are similar to geese, so they don’t speak the same “duck” as mallard derived ducks.
Instead of quacking (noisily, I might add!!) muscovies trill (girls) and hiss (boys). They are much, much, much quieter than pekins!

Garden is all planted.
Except for the few stragglers I keep seeming to bring home from the local greenhouse.
Yesterday another 14 tomato plants arrived.
😂😂😂
1 is specifically for in the house, and at least 1 other will come in too…but most will be fit into spare small spots in the garden.
As has been explained to me, there is no such thing as “no more room to plant”, much like there is no such thing as “no more room for books”.
It is true.

Hubby and The Kid got the fencing up around my Ruth Stout garden yesterday.
While I pulled thistles out of the haying area.
I don’t mind feeding the mares weeds…in fact, many weeds are good for them (some aren’t of course, but those are removed), like thistles are (they’re excellent for liver health), but too many in a bale of hay won’t get eaten…and a certain Palomino Princess has been known to eat dried thistles and get stickers stuck inside her mouth/lips.
That’s not a good time to deal with, especially since her 1 fault is having humans doing anything near/in her mouth.
I no longer give her worming pastes…not after having been lifted 3 feet in the air by her halter as she reared to get away from the tube of funky goo.
It’s just not a good time and it ain’t worth fighting with her.
When she gets her teeth floated, she’s drugged before the vet sticks his hand in…
Trust me, it’s the best for everyone.
No one wins when fighting 1500lbs.
Anyways…
I pulled a massive load of thistles out and fed them to all the birds.
Ducks and geese just plain love any food we give them, so they got the bulk of them.

The Kid fashioned a yard for the first brooder of turkey babies and they got a chance to get outside for the first time ever yesterday.

It was a bit scary at first, but then they came out and discovered their pile of thistles.
Then the singing and cooing started.
And then the dust bathing…
They were doing great until Daphne ran by and well, apparently, dogs are terrifying to little turkeys who’ve never seen such a thing before!
😂😂😂

There’s also the foraging harvests to do…
Stinging nettles, pineapple weed, lamb’s quarters, yarrow (which I discovered we’ve had for a while, but didn’t realize, so I’ve planted it for next year…this year I can harvest the wild…), thistles for teas (because liver health 😉 ), some prairie sage, and soon, chokecherries and hawthorn berries, and saskatoons…
Some will be dried for teas, much will be made into tinctures, some will become salves/balms.

Then, I planted some poblano seeds for indoor peppers.
Some Inkspot micro dwarf tomatoes for indoor tomatoes.
And I took a small tendril off the grape vine so I can try propagating it.
And so on, and so forth…

Have a great week folks.
🙂

Stinging Nettle Beer

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.
🙂

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.
🖤🖤🖤

It *WAS* a Trap!!

I knew it!
I just…knew it.
That nice weather last week was lulling us into a false sense of security.
Mother Nature said “oh, yeah! Go right ahead and plant out your tenders…your tomatoes and peppers and pumpkin starts…I promise, I’ll take care of them!”
And here we are.
Shivering because I’m too damn stubborn to turn the heat back on.
It’s currently +3c with the wind it feels like 0*
So had I planted like I really, really wanted to, my tender plants would be toast.
😂😂😂
Nice try Mother Nature.
But not this year.
I fought myself for a few days and then said “Wolfie, honey…it’s only the 3rd week of May. You are gonna get frost. Be. Patient.”
Well, glad I listened to myself, because, here we are.
Frost last night, frost tonight.
But my carrots, peas, and beets are planted and I’m ready to go on onions, radishes, greens and a few other cool weather crops.
Then I can look towards the warmer days/nights ahead for the plants and the beans and corn.

I am still waiting to hear from the local greenhouse to let me know when I can pick up my plant order from them.
Though, with the cooler temps. I’m happy to let *them* baby my plants a little while longer!

So my food production for today included putting 40 turkey eggs into the incubator.
To go with the 19 I set last week in the small incubator.
The eggs in the small one though, are being split with another farm.
I think mentioned this already, a friend had Sweetgrass turkey hatching eggs, and I set them to hatch. Well, I also had 7 of my Narragansett eggs ready to go in, so all in they went.
Our deal was to split whatever hatched from the Sweetgrass, but I figure the whole set is fair to split.
Since I have extras in the big ‘bator, I have no issues whatsoever counting my 7 Narragansett into the split deal.

My hope is, as always, for an abundant hatch.
Of the eggs in the big incubator, all the hens will stay on for eggs/hatching.
Any boys will have the most excellent of life before going on to Freezer Camp.
I hope that of the ones going to Freezer Camp there will be enough of them to offer a few for sale (after we take care of family and friends).
We still have people interested in well raised, home slaughtered birds, and I would love to have more to offer for sale.
And that’s why hens are staying on…our two toms Oscar and Dingus need more girls (5 hens to 2 toms is not ideal!) and welp, food is not going to get cheaper or easier to get. Especially well cared for, well raised, happy food.
I want to be you #HappyFoodTastesBetter dealer.
😂😂😂

And my other food production thing today was the finding and very much enjoying Les Stroud’s website for his latest project:
Les Stroud’s Wild Harvest

Les had a show years ago called “SurvivorMan”.
He was dropped off in remote locations, just him and his cameras, for 7 days.
And he had very, very limited tools to work with.
I really enjoyed the shows.
Now he’s exploring foraging, hunting and using all that he finds.
I’m telling you, it’s one more piece in the puzzle, foraging is.
So I’ll be binging that for a while.
Testing recipes where I can.
Soaking in the knowledge.
Trying to stay warm for the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, Ruby just wants a nap…

So. Tired.

Can’t say I blame her.
😉
Happy Wednesday y’all!

Foraging

Y’all know I make wine…
Which is funny because before we moved to the Farm, Hubby and I had quit drinking alcohol the second I found out I was pregnant with The Kid.
Didn’t touch another drop ’til the move here.
Something about the highs and lows of Farm life make ya want a drink every now and then.
😂😂😂

Over the summer I had a chance to slip out to my brother’s 80 acres of bush and forage some chokecherries.
Being the first year I looked for them, and because he has so much poison ivy, I only found 1/2 an ice cream pail of them.
Enough for a gallon of wine, at least.

Yesterday, Hubby and I were over picking up chicken feed from the farmer who leases our big field and I noticed some black berries…I says, “y’know that tree we drive past to get back here, the one with the black berries on it?”
“Chokecherries” he says “Pick as many as you want…there’s a spot in the back where there’s tons of ’em…pick whatever you want”

So on the way out, we stopped and I grabbed a handful to see how they tasted (because they’re a bit past their prime, and we’ve had a frost) and they were de-effing-licious!
So I’m heading out to fill some pails, and my freezer where there’s space, so I can make more chokecherry wine.
And now I have a bountiful place to pick next year too!
🙂