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. 🙂
Winter decided to give us one last kick this weekend. Cold af. Last night was -24*C. Brrrrrr!! So yesterday was a day of adding more straw for the ducks, chickens, and turkeys. Fat arsed mares got another bale too…they probably could have made Monday, but eating keeps horses warm so we just fed ’em. Mostly because if I blanket the one who needs it most:
Then the other 2 beat the crap out of her because she “doesn’t look right”. 🙄🤦♀️ So we feed them. It’s easier than trying to separate Sable from the other 2. The joys of a 3 horse herd. *sigh*
So my next round of peppers are up. Well, some of them. I planted some orange and yellow pepper seeds and some alma paprika seeds. Paprika seeds aren’t showing yet, but the o/y are up. Those were freebie seeds out of peppers we got in a Loop pickup. Birds enjoyed demolishing the peppers and I took a few seeds to try. You never really know what you’ll get with grocery store saved seeds, but I have the space in the garden so it’s worth the try to grow them.
Friday is tomato seeds starting day. And some medicinals/flowers. Since I’m not 100% sold on the whole winter sowing thing (I keep getting told to “trust the process” but my brain says it can’t work…) I want to start some of the more important things inside…like mullein, yarrow, calendula, and bee balm…they’re all for drying, tinctures, and teas for the home apothecary. And of course, we can never grow too many tomatoes. 😉
This past Friday Hubby brought home onion sets for me…
I had complained to him at lunch that I had used my last garden grown red onion for yet another jar of pickled onions 🤤 so clearly I was going to have to grow *more* onions this year. Next thing I knew, he brought me 2 1/2 lbs of onion sets. As soon as the garden soil is workable, they’ll get planted. As well as the other cool season crops.
Next week tho… I’m going to head out front of the house and dig out the raised boxes that have our asparagus and rhubarb in them. In a semi-normal year of snow, they would be poking their heads out right about now. Well, I have 2ish feet of snow sitting on top of them, so I’ll dig them out a bit and let the sun finish the job. If all grows well, I should have enough rhubarb this year to make a round of wine/shine. And to share with someone who really likes rhubarb for baking…myself, I’m not a huge fan, but I do like home made alcohol, so…. 😉
Slowly but surely, we’re getting there. Spring is slow af this year, but with the amount of snow, that’s probably for the best. Either way, spring is coming and we’re so ready for it! 🙂
Remember back in the Fall I said I was harvesting as much of the broadleaf plantain weed/herb on the Farm as I sustainably could? No? Okay, here:
Plantain is edible, and the young leaves are delicious in salads. But the main reason I harvest it is for it’s other, well known, use. To help cuts/scrapes heal.
I dry it, then when I need it, I powder a leaf or 2 in my mortar and pestle, then mix a small amount of raw honey in until it’s a paste. Then I clean the booboo and coat it with the (not so tasty) honey concoction.
Today I did my first (and hopefully last) ice cut of the season:
Not as bad as some she’s done. Of course it always looks the worst on the Palomino Princess. And it’s superficial. It’s from running through drifts of snow…as I said in the Instagram post above, the skin on horse legs is thin and delicate. And cold is not kind to thin, delicate skin. It can be cut by the sharp crust of an icy snow drift rather easily. But with the plantain goo, it heals beautifully. Which is good because our BellaHazaBooBoo needs that goo far too often. 😉
And, just because this past summer I had 2 plantain plants that I could harvest from, I bought seeds in order to plant some in the medicinal garden. It’s handy to have on hand for humans as well and equines.
There is a strip of land between the pasture fence (white) and the trees that’s kinda dead space. There’s not really enough space there to do much of anything. Waaaaaay back when we bought this place, we used to have our bon fire barrel (affectionately know as the Hobo Barrel) in that space. Now it’s at the back of the house, where usually less snow accumulates in the winter, so we can still have raging bonfires in the depths of cold months. Sometimes, ya just hafta!
Anyways, so at the corner post (which is actually a tree) is there the front corner of the greenhouse is going to go…since things get beyond crazy effing windy out here, we’re going to tie the greenhouse into that tree/post for stability. The fence is going to be moved over to the other side of the lilacs (they’re currently inside the fence, as you can see) and that will give us(me) plenty of space for garden between the trees and the lilacs, as well as give some windbreak for the plants that grow there.
On the tree side, the first one is dead…so it’s coming out. Here’s the thing…when you buy a tree, rarely do the sellers tell you *how to plant* said tree. *sigh* So we have 2 trees in that line that, if I had known the proper way to plant them, would be bearing fruit for us now. An apple and a pear tree. But, since I did *not* know that you don’t plant ’em as deep as possible (like, how did I not know that??) and to *not* cover the graft knot, those 2 trees died. Now I know though, so they’ll be replaced with properly planted trees.
I’m hoping the Prairie Shelterbelt folks will be selling again this year. Their website is down right now, but I’m hoping that’s because they’re getting ready to open orders in the next month or so. Last year they had Siberian Crab apple trees that I really wanted. By the time I got an order in (with a friend and some others) I missed out on them. I hope they have them again this year. Plus, I want to add some saskatoons as well. Both will help replace the dead trees.
That aside, the greenhouse (which is a small 8’x8′ to start) will sit at the front, close to the drive way. Behind, where the grass is cut, will be covered with cardboard, straw and then topsoil for garden growing. Then, as we can, we’ll add on to the greenhouse, lengthening it down that strip. Only the first 8’x8′ space will have tables/seed starting space (at first). The rest will stay a dirt floor that we’ll plant straight into.
The first year we’ll use t-posts and stucco wire as a fence to keep the asshole chickens out. Because chickens is assholes and they love to rip out delicate seedling before they get settled in for growing. 🤦♀️🙄
All that to tell you that our focus tomorrow is on moving the fence line. Once that’s done, we can work on getting the 4 walls (now built!!) up and then the roof. We’re so close. So. Very. Close. ❤
We’re back into a heat wave, with no rain in sight. I think this is the driest I’ve ever seen it. We need rain. Bad.
The heat makes getting things done a little more difficult. I feel like I’m melting. lol So the birds get let out at the hint of dawn, while it’s still (relatively) cool. I’ve been working on weeding the garden early too…which doesn’t happen some days because the sprinkler needs to run to keep the food plants alive and that has to happen early too. Truthfully, I’ve been feeling a bit defeated by our garden this year. At least…until this morning. When I saw that some tomato plants have rebounded from what I thought was certain death in our June 21st frost. The irony, right? First day of real summer and we get hit with a killing frost?
So I was excited to see a handful of tomatoes in the mulch, with several having blooms on them! *swoons* I might get a tomato sandwich yet this year! And this morning, while I was weeding the thistles, I discovered a fair bit of our corn was up…and quite tall already. Just hidden in the thistles. So there’s hope for that too. I planted mostly feed corn (for homemade libations, if y’know what I mean 😉 ) and for the silk. Corn silk is dried for tea for a handful of things, including inflammation and urinary health. I’m happy to find a few stalks coming up amidst my thistles…which I have also been harvesting and drying for teas. Thistle is excellent for your liver (I’m hard on mine 😂😂😂 I admit it). Plus the goose bebes love it! I had hoped to harvest flowers for a mead, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
Stinging nettles will be collected this weekend for stinging nettle beer. I was supposed to do it earlier in the week, but by the time I got the basic chores done, I just wanted to melt…so tomorrow morning I’ll don my gloves and pick a whole bunch of them.
Oh, and we have another house duck…temporarily, of course…
I hadn’t planned on this one coming in, but the hen was in a poor spot when she hatched them, and chickens killed the rest of the clutch off…so we snagged this little and brought her in. She’s been named Oreo. I am hoping this is a hen, because she’s just so darn pretty! And we don’t need anymore drakes…extra boys are Freezer Campers.
And, our final round of incubation is finishing up. Pipping and peeping started in the incubators yesterday. By the end of the weekend, everyone who was going to hatch, will have hatched. And we’ll be done ’til next February. All that’ll be left is the butchering. Which should start in a couple of weeks, as some of our first hatcher roosters are close to size now. Then my weeks will be filled with butcher, process, can, sleep, repeat. Until the end of November or so. 😂😂😂
This weekend will be a fiery hot one, but we still have the final wall of the greenhouse to build, then we put it up… And I have hay to cut. And more weeds in the garden. And a fence line to move. And boxes to flatten and lay out over the next garden area (to kill the grass). And somewhere in there, some sleep… 😂😂😂
We’ll get done what we can, and keep picking at the rest. That’s just how it is. 🙂
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.
I am thankful for all the animals. Food ones, pets, working animals. All of them.
I am thankful that our animals have no idea of what’s going on out in the world. I am thankful that it will stay that way.
I am thankful that we can grow our own food. I am thankful that we can grow *a lot* of our own. And that we can preserve it for winter. And the the bulk of our veggies come from heirloom plants that I can save seeds from.
The world… It’s getting uglier out there. I read a FB post today where a local business, a computer repair guy, is literally demanding people show him proof of their c-19 shot in order for him to render services. Anyone who isn’t willing to prove they’re had the shot, or show proof from their doctor that they can’t have it, will not be able to use his services.
My head is reeling from this. People are congratulating him, saying it’s the “right and responsible” thing to do. Did I not say medical discrimination was coming? And who the eff does some computer tech guy think he is that he’s demanding access to personal medical records??
But this is what we’ve become. The govt fosters this attitude with their pushing of shot passports to travel and attend events. It won’t be long before it’s to work, to get health care, to buy groceries. And anyone who might be hesitant or flat out can’t get it is discriminated against. Think I’m wrong? Again, people are *praising* this guy for medical discrimination.
At no time in history when humans have set a random group of people apart as “other” and “undesirable” has it ever turned out well. Not. Once.
We are on the brink of it happening again. Whether people want to admit it, choose to see it, or not.
And I am grateful that, in the very least, I can take care of my family. For how long? I don’t know.
Remember how I said I wanted to add a rhubarb plant to the Farm’s food forest? Not because I like it (I don’t really) but because medicinally, it’s a good thing to have growing here. There must be a reason every farm wife and baba had one or two plants growing…and I don’t think it was just for the baking! 😉
So Hubby had found one for sale at the local hardware store, and snapped it up for me. Then, a friend in the city messaged me to say her neighbour had one to split and if I was interested, we could get some of it. Um, yes please!
So this past Thursday, Hubby went over to her place and split this massive rhubarb plant… What he brought home was an incredible bounty of plantable roots/crowns!
So now, where I wanted 1 or 2 plants, I have… 11!! Plus a gallon sized bag of rhubarb in the freezer, because I pulled all the stems that were on the crowns he brought home…I’ll save that for a small batch of wine. 😉
So I planted 2 big crowns straight into the main garden bed, put 4 smaller ones into one of the raised beds out front of the house, potted 4 for myself to add to the next garden expansion project, and potted 2 to give to another friend who was looking for some. Plus, I still have a few smaller crowns that I plan on potting, so that if anyone else near me is looking for some, I’ll share those with them.
But I’m not complaining about having so many plants. I’ll definitely find a use for them. Even if it’s just making a rhubarb syrup to add to moonshine. 😉