53 Days…

53 days until Spring.
Another month before we fire up the incubator. Still just the one…haven’t managed to get the $$$ together to order the 2nd yet.
I keep spending the egg money on things that come up…
Like new blankets for all before Yule.
Groceries when Hubby found a spanky deal on some veggies/fruits.
Feed, now that the layers are gearing up and laying more…they need more than just the barley chop and wheat so we’re mixing in layer feed now too…

But, I can still run batches of 24 eggs at a time.
And I’m waiting for some money to come in at the end of the month, so the next incubator should be ordered and arrive in time for hatching season’s start.

I’m looking out the window at our unseasonably, but oh so appreciated, -8*c.
Normally we’d be at least 10 degrees colder.
Of course, I’m also dreaming wistfully of the garden.
Unseasonably warm weather will do that to a Farm gal. 😉
We’ll start seeds soon though…right around the time we fire up the incubator.
So much life to start in just a few months!!

One of the best parts of this weather is how much less The Merry Mares are eating.
Hay consumption has slowed down, and for that I’m grateful.
They did decide to dig out the last bit of the first oat straw bale and have a bit more fun with it…


Astrid buried her head way down in there, looking for left over grain bits.

She was awful peeved that I called her ’til she lifted her head out…Sable dove into the spot she had been and probably found the tasty bits she was digging around for.
😂😂😂

And Ruby wore her straw beard whilst trying to have a nap…apparently I was annoying her again by taking pictures.
lol
Too bad for her.
😂😂😂

Sharing with Word of the Day Challenge for Wistful
and
Oak Hill Homestead for the Simple Homestead blog hop.

Green

Capture52 week4 ~ Green

Test pot of green beans growing in the kitchen window.

Weekly themes guide photographers to create new images.
I’m finding it a fantastic way to force myself to keep shooting, even when the urge to hibernate is strong.

Sharing with Word of the Day Challenge for Guide
and
Comedy Plus, Image-in-ing and bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday
and
Create with Joy for Inspire Me Monday.

66 Days to Spring

Only 66 days ’til Spring!
I just keep counting the days down, because before we know it, it’s gonna be spring and the world here on the Farm is gonna get busy, busy, busy!
The hurry-up-and-wait every year is a bit mind boggling…but it’s also a huge part of Farm life.
Well, life in general, right?

I’m already looking at dates to start collecting eggs for firing up the incubator.
I’m squirreling the money away to build an inexpensive hoop greenhouse to extend our tomato season.
I’m watching for the absolute right time to start those peppers and tomatoes in the house.

At the same time, I’m watching the weather for cold snaps.
I’m watching my hay stack dwindle as the Merry Mares eat to stay warm (and fat and healthy).
I’m waiting for just the right moment to give them the next (and last) oat straw bale to destroy, eat and sleep in…though they still have a pretty good amount of the first one, so I’m not frantic there.
And, I’m waiting to bottle the summer started green tomato wine, the grapefruit wine and the apple wine…and start another batch of something…banana maybe? Or another green tomato? Or maybe a hard blueberry lemonade?
Decisions.
Decisions.
Decisions.

Either way…
It’s only 66 to days to Spring.

Somebody said I needed peppermint cookies! I’d like to know where those are and when they’ll be delivered to me? And it had better not be Spring!

Sharing with Comedy Plus for Awww Mondays
and
Word of the Day Challenge for Boggle
and
Create with Joy for Inspire Me Monday
and
April J Harris for the Hearth and Soul link party
and
A Pinch of Joy for Busy Monday

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Garden Seeds

Now that it’s January, it’s time to get serious about what seeds I need for the spring garden.
Time to pull out the catalogues and figure out exactly what I want to grow, where it’s going to go and how much seed I need to order.

For tomatoes I’m looking for a short season roma seed.
The past few years I’ve been lucky enough to hit on great sales of cases of Romas from the next province east of us, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll catch that every year.
And we go through *a lot* of tomato products when we have ’em. 😉
So a Roma that grows on a bush, fruits heavily and fast is what I’m after.
That’s my main thing I want with tomatoes.
I have saved seeds from sandwich ones that grow well for us here (when conditions are right…and we’re working on that too!)
I just have to remember that my season is short…so looking longingly at those different colours that take up to 100 days to ripen?
Waste. Of. Time.
Until we get a green house built.
(Friday’s LottoMax is $70 million…a win there would be nice! 😉 )

I’ll need carrot seeds.
Onion sets.
Beans…
Back in November, we were given a whole pile of pinto beans.
I figured I’d toss a few in a pot and grow them out before spring to see what we get…they’re likely hybrid beans, which means they’re not going to grow true to what the parent plant was…but, I won’t know if I don’t grow some out.
I’ll order purple bush beans for canning…because we *love* canned beans, and I really cannot grow enough of them.
And I may order some yellow beans too, just for prettiness in the jars.
Everyone loves to eat pretty food!

Beets is another one I’ll need to order.
Plus the various greens…lettuces and spinach, maybe some swiss chard for “cabbage” rolls.
And cucumbers, zucchini and some sort of winter squash.
I still have pumpkins and pepper seeds.
And really, there’s only 8ish weeks until we start pepper seeds, sooooo…it’s not like spring is really that far away.
(thank goodness, because I’m ready now! lol)

The key, as always, is to try to get enough to grow enough for the families we grow for, but not order things we won’t/don’t eat.
not always as easy as it sounds, when the winter seed catalogue “I gotta have” hits!
😂😂😂

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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.
😂😂😂
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. 😉
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. 🙄
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.
🙄
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…
😂😂😂

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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.
😉

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.
🙄🙄🙄
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.
😂😂😂
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.
🤷‍♀️

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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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.
😉

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.
😂😂😂

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