A Little Catching Up

Beans are in.
Over 500 seeds this year…what can I say? We like green beans. πŸ˜‰
Straw bales are planted.
I put my peppers in one, with zucchini seeds.
The rest are pumpkin, melons, squashes, sunflowers and cucumbers.
Tomatoes start going in today.
Fingers crossed for a huge bounty. πŸ™‚

Pig babies are growing very well!
I sure like these guys…we only had to lock them up at night for a few days, then left them loose in their yard.
They happily put themselves to bed when they’re tired, and haven’t even once tried to push the fencing.
YAY!!
At 9 weeks now, they’ve grow a good 10 or more pounds since we got them, and are now starting to enjoy the morning slop bucket.
Y’know, the left over bits of coffee and table scraps that get put together for the morning meal.
And, then there’s the things I’ve saved over the winter for them…cream that’s gone bad, pastries that didn’t get eaten, left overs that were right on the edge of going blech but weren’t good for the poultry (we don’t feed human food to the poultry in the winter *unless* they are outside…on those too cold days, they only get the layer feed because it makes less mess in the coop.), small amounts of ice cream that were left too long in the freezer…
I am hopeful for explosive growth on these guys!

(phone pic)

Hubby made a couple of feeders from an old pressure tank…just cut it in half, plop it down and add food.
Works very well!!
And it was free. We love free stuff!
Check out BokBok helping herself to the pig food…I love that these pigs are so laid back that they’re fine with sharing food with the chickens.
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Meat chicks have been evicted from the brooder.
They’re now outside in the meat chicken house (with the few eggies I ordered) with more room and time outdoors.
They’re growing like crazy too.
5 weeks old today and I think we’re on track for Freezer Camp by mid July.
I’m easing them off the grower feed onto soaked/fermented grains.
We found that with the fermented grains they grew a bit slower but we didn’t have problems with them dropping dead of heart attacks…that’s always a possibility with CornishX chickens.
But we get them outside asap, make them have to move around for food and make sure they’re acting like chickens.
Not eating and pooping lumps.
It cuts down on early death by a lot.

My incubator is 11 days into it’s first running.
I candled the eggs on the 2nd.
Took out 3 that were obviously unfertilized (holy did the pig babies love those eggs in their grains!!) leaving me 21 still cooking.
Some were super obvious that there was chick development going on, others like the dark green shelled eggs were harder to tell…but the air pocket looked right, so I left them in.
I’ll candle them again on the weekend, just to see how things are going.
Then, by the 14th/15th, we should be seeing chicks hatching.
Fingers crossed.

Next project on the go…

We have sooooo many dandelions.
I refuse to spray them.
This year I’m making mead. And wine.
So this past weekend, I picked a pail of flowers, and then spent a couple hours taking all the petals off the green parts.
I have to do one more pail to have enough for a gallon batch of mead. That’s all I can do right now because I only have enough honey to do a gallon…

And then I pick as many dandies as I can to make as big of a batch of wine as I can.
The mead will be named after Odhinn.
The wine will be my Palomino Princess white.
I sure hope they both turn out tasty.
πŸ™‚

And finally, even though I haven’t had a chance to use my camera (other than a quick couple of shots of the pigs when they came home) for a few weeks, I have a pretty of Ruby to share, because there needs to be at least 1 horse picture in this post.

She is such a funny girl…what a way to sleep!

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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˜‰

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™‚

 

Monday Morning

Mother Nature seems to be having a little joke on us this morning.
This past weekend was lovely out, with sunshine and warmth and a whole lot of melting snow…

Cheering for the Winnipeg Jets

The Merry Mares had a good round of grooming, then they posed for pictures with Winnipeg Jets attire, and even got a couple of cookies…
And now, this morning?

From 8:35am
April 15th, 2019

Really Mother Nature?
Really??!?

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˜‰