Things That Got Done This Past Weekend

You know the saying…
Winter is coming.
Which means we have to prepare.
It’s not just about food on the shelves, and meat in the freezer.
It’s also making sure we have feed for the animals and prepping for next spring’s new beginnings.

Hay!!

Our hay was delivered on Saturday.
Hubby stashed a few bales in the garage, so that come March, if we don’t need them, they stay there ’til next year.
Hay is never, ever wasted here!
Who knew that dried grass could be, would be, such a precious commodity!
When I think of all the times I cut mine in the city, with no thought about *what* I could have been feeding it to…
I could have easily fed a nice little backyard rabbits for meat colony off my city lawn…and no one would have been the wiser about us raising meat in the city.
No worries about that now though…

With hay, came my 4 small straw bales to go in this:

chick brooder

It’s out and ready for renovations…it’s just too tall, the door too small, and really, really heavy overall.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Hubby’s gonna cut it down in height…prolly to just under the window.
That way it’s a step in as needed but can mostly just reach in to feed and water chicks.
Because in spring, chicks is coming.
Meat chicks, and hatched chicks.
I’ve got my eye on the 2nd incubator, so we’ll have 2 running at once for more chicks.
And then I need a 2nd brooder box for ducklings.
I plan on ordering 10 pekin ducks when we order our meat chicks.
I’m still hopeful that the muscovies will actually produce chicks for us come spring, but if they don’t I want a back up plan for ducks.
We’ve found we really enjoy duck meat and I refuse to buy it, unless I’m buying from another small farmer like us.

Anyways, after Hubby renos the brooder, it’s going in the Little Red Shed…which needs to have the holes in the side and roof fixed and ridge cap put on before winter…soooooo fingers crossed we can get that done, or moving the brooder in there will be a colossal waste of time.
:/

But we got this done…

tarp on the garden…

I was given a bunch of starting to breakdown flax straw bales, so I spread them out under the tarp, on top of the weeds, to rot and compost…it’s a soil building thing. πŸ˜‰
The tarp will stay until shortly before planting time is to begin.
Then it’ll be replaced with some thick ground cloth, which I’ll plant through and mulch over top.

closed up the compost bins…

So those compost bins…
Got them from a friend when she moved.
I had them in the city myself and left them for the new owners…who then got rid of them. πŸ™„
I shoulda brought them out here.
But this fall, we discovered those bins make *amazing* poultry houses.
Yup, when the ducks were in the garden working on weed control, they overnighted in the compost bins.
It was awesome!
Now they’re closed up for use as actual compost bins.
And I’m on the lookout for anyone getting rid of more of them.
I can’t believe how well they worked as poultry houses!

So that was a bunch of things off the “Winter is Coming” list…
Plus I made english muffins, fed the chickens a bunch of scrambled eggs and slept. As much as I could. lol

And finally, a picture of Astrid…

Astrid

Our Little Red who thinks she should eat eggs.
πŸ™„
Why?
Well, because the chickens have been sneaking into the horse shelter and laying them in there.
That *must* mean the eggs are there for her to eat, right?
Astrid thinks my rules against horses eating eggs is bullshit.
She likes eggs and she wants to keep eating them.
I says “You leave them damn eggs alone, you damn horse!”
All while laughing my ass off…
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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Deleting Old Posts

That’s what I did yesterday.
After much searching, I found a website that takes posts and turns them into a .pdf.
I did that a while back with a couple years worth of old posts.
Now, I’m working on deleting the posts and images (which means there might be a broken image here and there, if I reused one in a newer post).
This way, I have space for new images to go in new posts.
Because I refuse to go to a pay-to-blog platform.
It’s just not gonna happen…and I didn’t want to move to a whole new blog while trying to encourage followers to come along.
Naw.
Easier to save and delete.
Well, as easy as something so darn tedious can be.
πŸ˜‰

The positive part though, is new images…and they are *much* faster to upload with space!
Which is good, because I managed to get out with the camera Saturday morning, and a bit yesterday too.

Sable

Funny thing is…I’ve been waiting for a Saturday morning sunrise like this for a few weeks now.
I’ve an idea in my head I want to shoot, but need this light and Hubby.
Where was he Saturday when the light looked like this??!?
In a tree stand, hunting deer.
πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„
Fingers crossed we can get another chance before the snow flies and stays.


Then yesterday, knowing that below zero overnight temps. were coming, Hubby cleaned out the maceration tubs.
What is a maceration tub, you ask?
Well, it’s a bin that holds whatever skulls and bones we want cleaned and a whole lot of water.
That’s it.
Nothing high tech or fancy.
Just bins/barrels/tubs of bones and water.

We had Cookie’s skull and bones finishing cleaning…because our warm weather doesn’t last long, it can take a little longer here to clean a skull.
I *should* invest in a fish tank heater to speed thing up a bit, but we don’t keep the tubs anywhere near an electricity source.
If you’ve ever smelt a working maceration tub, you’d understand why they aren’t real close to the house.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Anyway, Hubby pulled Cookie’s parts out and we had a bit of a surprise…

😍😍😍

We were a bit surprised, to say the least. lol
So after I grabbed the camera, I hit the skull cleaning forums on FB.
And it turns out this is nothing to panic about.
It likely happened because I didn’t change the water enough…though a deer leg in with her *didn’t* go black like this.
πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

She may stay darkened like that.
She may not.
She’s ready to go onto degreasing – which is exactly what it sounds like.
Bones hold fats in them, and after maceration, they go into a water/dish soap combo to soak, which draws out the grease.
If this isn’t done, your bones could get stinky (prolly will) and might start to break down as the fats get gross.

If the colour holds through degreasing, then she’ll be left like that.
I could put her into peroxide for whitening, but I love the way she looks dark, so if it stays, it stays.

Hubby also pulled out the giant tarp and tossed it into the garden.
It was too windy to spread, so there’s still that to do.
Hopefully we’ll have a day this week to get that done.
Honestly, I’m ready for spring, seed catalogs and planting the new garden.
lol
I know, I know.
The land needs to sleep first.
I do know that.
I just don’t want to deal with winter.
I will…but I don’t want to.

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πŸ™‚

Storm’s a Comin’

That’s the big news this week in weather.
There’s a storm coming.
Rain?
Snow?
Both?

Either way, we’ve had yesterday and today to prepare and get a few things done before it hits.
Yesterday I finally cleaned out the tomato cages from the garden.
I had just left them after the rains drowned anything that hadn’t burned up in the drought.
Kinda just gave up, I guess.
But, in order to get the garden fully put to bed and prepped for next year, they had to come out.
So, done.

Today I weeded around the strawberries.
Can you believe the damn things are blooming??!?
I was stunned.
But with all the rain, and with the thick mulch around them, they’ve been happy little plants.
I pulled out all the weeds, and fed those to the pigs.
Under the mulch…oh my…*swoons*…there is this gorgeous black, rich soil, with so. many. earth worms.
*This* is what I was trying to create.
Every where I mulched heavily is the same.
So about half the garden.
No till, just dig, plant, mulch.
And the weeds that did come up, came out easy peasy.
So even though I was frustrated with my garden, and we really didn’t get anything from it, the no till route *did* work.
Which means I’ll expand it next year.

Then came this…

😍😍😍

It’s only 53 cloves.
My budget was teeny for seed garlic this year, so I had to be sure that I found a variety that will grow well in the climate, and be a tasty delight.
This was what I found.
10 bulbs gave me 53 cloves.
And now all 53 cloves have been planted.
Into that gorgeous rich soil.
I am hopeful for a bountiful garlic crop come spring.
Which, of course, will expand next Fall.
53 heads (assuming they all grow) is just not enough.
πŸ˜‰

Finally, I spread a good layer of mulch over both garlic and strawberries.
It’s not quite as much as I’d like, they’ll need more before winter truly sets in.
But when I get my hay delivery, I’ll get a few small squares of straw…for mulching the berries/garlic and for the brooders come spring chick season.

Tonight we’ll pull out the tarp for the garden, move some straw to the pig yard, fill all the feed bins, and transfer the feed we keep in the horse trailer to the Little Red Shed.
It is, after all, meant to be our feed building.
And then, I think we’ll be as ready as we can be for this storm.
Next week it’ll all melt and we’ll continue on with winter preps.
Because that’s just how the weather works here.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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Dreaming

It’s been another wet few days.
Feeling like I need to build an ark.
Or put up a sign that says “send dry weather…and more beer” at the end of the driveway.

All this rain has left me plenty of time to dream about plans for the Farm though.
My biggest 2 wants are:

  1. a couple of water totes ~ and I’m hoping to make that happen in the spring.
    If we get another dry, dry, dry summer like the past 2, I really want as big of a water collection system that I can manage. While at the same time, we’ll continue working on building our soil to be able to hold water as much as possible.
    On that line, I’m reading The Drought Resilient Farm by Dale Strickler…it’s an interesting read and I’m quite enjoying it.
  2. a greenhouse.
    I can’t tell you how long I’ve wished for a greenhouse.
    For as long as I’ve been a gardener for sure!
    Found some interesting and fairly simple plans here: The Seed Guy pallet greenhouse.
    😍😍😍

So I’ve put some feelers out, looking for the cattle panels used in the greenhouse, and looking for a good source for food safe water totes. There are a ton of the totes out there, but not all are safe for water for gardens or drinking.
We use rain water to water the majority of the animals (only the horses’ trough is fed from the well) so it’s incredibly important that the totes can be used for potable water.

And that greenhouse…
Hubby and I talked about making one side of the garden (which is currently 26’x40′) the greenhouse part. So taking 9ish feet off the 26′ side, and then making the greenhouse as long as we possible can.
Then I could have a whole bunch of space for tomatoes and beans (likely just pole beans, but maybe some bush ones too), leaving the outsideΒ  roughly 16’x42′ for things like carrots, beets, onions and garlic. As well as some other assorted things like squashes and pumpkins. πŸ™‚
And probably bush beans too…because even if they’re in the greenhouse, there’s never enough beans in our world.
LOL!!

Plus, Hubby and I just talked about adding extra smaller greenhouses like this in different spots of the yard.
We have a spot between the house and the pasture gate that, right now, is a catch all spot for building materials. It’s kinda ugly looking and I don’t like it.
But it’s a great spot to put up a couple 9’x12’ish greenhouses to grow food in.

That’s what I’m thinking about today, in between rounds of rain.
Making this Farm grow more and more food for us…and then, hopefully, having enough to sell.
❀

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Holy Moly

What’s with all the spambots lately??
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
I’m gone for a bit and my spam filter catches 239 spam comments.
WOW!!
Kinda crazy…

It’s been chilly and rainy here.
And rainy too.
Did I mention the rain?
lol

Well, it seems we’ve gotten a couple seasons worth of rain in the past week or two.
I mean, we could use the moisture in the ground going into Fall, and my haying spots look amazing…I may even, if it stops raining for longer than an hour, get another cut before a hard frost sets in.
Fingers crossed!!

While the rains have been coming down, we’ve still been busy.
Ducks are laying eggs like crazy in the garden, and every day we have to search for them.
And every so slowly, they’re getting the weeds taken down there too…they’re not as good at it as I thought they would be, but still…they’re doing some of the work for me. πŸ™‚

With the sloppy muddiness of the pig yard, we’ve managed to use up almost all of the moldy hay that’s been sitting around.
Y’see, when we have hay that we can’t feed to The Merry Mares, we set it aside for the spring pigs.
We’ve had a couple years worth accumulate (sound like a lot, but it’s not really…our Hay Guy is awesome about having a high quality product…sometimes though, we get lazy about tarping in the wet seasons, and the bales suffer) and these pigs are loving it!
We toss it into the shelter and they roll around in it, bury themselves, happily eat any moldy parts…pigs love eating gross things. lol And if there’s mushrooms growing, even better!! No joke, pigs super ❀ mushrooms.

And then there was that sale on carrots…

I’ve been looking for carrots to put up ever since my crop died.
Finally, a local mega mart had a smokin’ deal on local grown carrots.
50 lbs later, I’m filling jars with carrot coins, and diced carrots.
Pressure canned and ready for winter eating.
Plus 10 lbs sitting in the basement fridge for soup…canning soup will be coming in the next couple of weeks and carrots store nicely in the fridge.

My shelves are getting full, I’m running seriously low on jars and it’s a good thing.
This makes me a happy FarmHer for sure.
πŸ™‚

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Your generosity has been greatly appreciated.

Apple Wine

A few weeks ago, I put out the call looking for locals who had apple trees with apples that they weren’t going to use.
Said we’d happily come out and pick the trees, take away the apples and return with a few bottles of apple wine.
Got a few nibbles, but mostly it was people who wanted me to make them an entire 5 gallon batch, plus pick their tree…one woman told me I could have all the half rotten ones on the ground if I picked the good apples for her.
πŸ™„

And then, I got a message from a friend of friends, a local horse woman, who had an apple tree, and hankerin’ for a few bottle of wine.
Well, with a little back and forth, we set a date, met up and I came away with a bag of roughly 50lbs of apples.
Gorgeous, sweet, crunchy eating apples…perfect for a batch of wine.
After I ate a couple. πŸ˜‰

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

Way back when we were in the city, our tree there was producing 250-300lbs of apples a year.
We could only eat so many, so I started making and canning juice.
But I got tired of the old cook it on the stove top, strain it through cheesecloth method of making juice, and went to my parents and stole (with permission) my Dad’s juicer.
Now?
I make juice by running the apples through the juicer.

Big bowl of sliced apples, ready to be run through the juicer.

Once the juicing is done, the mush that comes out the other side is put into a mesh bag.
That goes into the primary fermenting pail, with the juice itself.
I want aaaaaaalllllllll the apple-y goodness going into my wine. πŸ˜‰

Cores get cooked down and strained for juice…nothing gets wasted here!

Once the cores have given up everything they had, those get tossed to the pigs.
Pigs ❀ love ❀ apples!
The juice is then added with the other juice and the mush to the primary fermenter.

From there I add sugar, pectic enzyme (if I have it on hand…with the cooked juice, the wine finishes with a creamy mouth feel with out the pectic enzyme. Some people don’t care for it, but I don’t mind it, so I don’t get frantic if I don’t have the pectic enzyme to add), k-meta and water to 6 gallons.
I let it sit for 24ish hours, then pitch the yeast and add some yeast nutrient.

That’s all there is to it.
Over the next week, I stir the pail a few times a day, and squeeze the bag of mush.
After a week or so, I pull out the bag of mush…that goes to the pigs…and depending on the specific gravity reading, I’ll either give it a few more days in the pail or rack it off to a carboy.
Once it’s on the carboy, sealed with an air lock, I let time do it’s work.
Anywhere from 2-5 months.
Honestly, I put it in a corner and forget about it.

After a while, I’ll come back to it, rack it off the stuff at the bottom (the lees), stabilize it and usually I’ll sweeten it.
Typically with some raspberry syrup…because apple raspberry wine is fan-effing-tastic!
And then, into bottles for a few more months.

All told, it’ll take anywhere from 4-12 months before it’s in the bottle and ready to drink.
Trust me though, it’s worth the wait!

Linking up with September Days at The Hearth and Soul link party hosted by April J Harris.

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Ducks in the Garden

I know, I know…

I kept saying I was going to stick the ducks in the garden when it was all done.
I said it last year.
I said it in the spring, thinking they’d help with early, pre-planting weeding.

But, it never got done.
Until now!!

Behold…ducks in my garden!

There were a little put out by this move…

Brown duck is accusatory duck. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

But then, they discovered the seeds on the long grass and started eating…

‘Kay, maybe not so bad…

They have 3 places for shelter…the 2 compost bins, which are empty, with the doors off. And a crate that they’ll all fit into if they choose to cuddle together.

Donald…yeah, well, my Hubby named him.
He’s a handsome duck.
And he likes having 5 wives. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

And then, the girls found the pool…because ducks have to have a pool!

Oh the excitement!!

Splashy splashy…

So they’ll stay in the garden for a month or so, eating weeds, bugs, and fertilizing.
Then we’ll move them back to the coop when the weather turns towards colder.

Sharing with the Simple Homestead bloghop hosted by Oak Hill Homestead.

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