Last of the tomatoes went in the garden today. Hear that?? That was a huge sigh of relief coming from me…and the joyous meowing of a tabby who can now lie across his favorite bookcases watching the birds out the window without getting yelled at by Mom… I’ve got a few little things to tuck into corner spaces, but the bulk of the big planting is done. Done enough for the “All In” dance. Or a few cold beers on the deck listening to the bug zapper destroy mosquitoes. Or a good long nap. Or…all 3.
It’s now all in Mother Nature’s hands. Well, and mine for the weeding and mulching, and maybe a bit of watering…but we’ve had decent rainfall so I’m not so worried about that. Frankly, at this point, I need a few weeks *without* rain because it’s haying time and I got hay to get cut and put up for the winter. And, if my hay spots are any indication, as long as folks can get in, get it cut, then baled, it could be a damn fine year for hay. Damn fine, indeed. All we need is for Mother Nature to get a little d and be nice to us. 😂😂😂 Fingers crossed.
Oh and just for funsies? I’m going to start a few poblano peppers to grow in the house over winter…peppers are a perennial, so they make an awesome house plant…that also makes food. 😉 And I have seeds for a micro dwarf tomato that I want to try too… The house just seems dark and boring without the grow lights on. So I need to start some indoor food plants. 🙂
It’s the holiday Monday of the May Long Weekend here. If we were still in the city, I’d be planting my tomato plants today. Of course, this spring has been odd, and we’re not in the city and I ain’t risking my tomatoes yet. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll work on hardening them off, so they go out first weekend (or so) of June.
Still tons of garden work being done this weekend tho… We’ve, surprisingly, had sunny days and very little rain this weekend. So, brooders got cleaned out from last year’s last birds. I had 10 turkeys hatch (with 3 more pipped, but I think I have to help them out of their shells after coffee) and moved to a freshly cleaned out and bedded brooder. We worked on cleaning up the yard…winter was a tough bitch this round and I’m not proud that there was waaaaay more garbage ’round the Farm yard than normal. 😥 So we made a dump trip with the truck well loaded down. Rotting pumpkin bits (that the dog spread all over the damn place in her winter fun) got forked up and put into the compost piles. I broke down more of those food waster recovery program boxes for garden expansion, and laid a ton of them out to be covered by the straw/manure bedding from the brooders. And we had a bonfire. A very big bonfire. 😀
While Hubby built the fire, I worked on this:
I’m working on covering the weeds in the tomato patch with deep straw mulch, to smother them out. I should have cut them down first, but meh…it’ll be fine. We do still have 1 full round straw bale, but, I don’t want to open it if I don’t have to. It will hold over to the Fall when we start giving the Merry Mares straw bales to pick though and lay in, so if I don’t need it in the garden, that saves me money later. So I use a garbage can and haul bin after bin after bin of straw from the current bale that the Mares have been using for bedding (and crapping in). Little more work, but saves me $$$, and free fertilizer. Because peed in straw is *excellent* mulch for tomatoes, dontcha know! 😂😂😂 And, not gonna lie, I get a bit of a giggle out of the folks who pay outlandish prices for “clean” bags of straw to mulch their gardens, as if that’s going to stop weeds. 😂😂😂 Weeds are gonna happen, we just have to get them before they get out of hand, and I’m not paying $18 for bags equivalent to a 45lb small square when my big rounds cost me $40 last year (and that was spendy due to drought, I normally pay $25 for a round of straw) and will go much, much farther.
So that’s gonna be my summer…hauling straw to mulch as the plants come up. Eh, it worked amazingly last year and hauling 2-3 bins and spreading it a day takes very little time. It just becomes part of the daily routine.
And that garden expansion strip out front of the house? Potatoes this year. With the unexpected expenses that hit us (between the septic pump and the truck going over the $1500 expected cost), I’m not 100% sure I’ll have the $$$ for top soil to add to the lasagna pile to plant tomatoes in. So, Ruth Stout style potato patch it is. And then, by next year, tomatoes and peppers will be able to go in there, easy peasy. 🙂
So there ya go…we busy. In 8 days I have turkeys, ducks, chicks, and goose babies coming. So we’re gonna get more busy. But that’s okay. We’ll plant the garden, grow the foods, preserve the foods and get ready because… Winter is coming.
We’ve had 2 major storms in the past 2 weeks. We now have more snow on the ground from those 2 storms than we did all last winter.
We picked up a load of pumpkins at the beginning of the month, so I’m smashing bunches open at a time for seeds for me, and feeding the pumpkin itself to the animals. We got our hay. We got our straw. We finished butchering drakes just this past weekend. Now, butchering is done for the year. Unless Hubby gets a deer. He’s going out Thursday/Friday for that. Fingers crossed.
We have spring plans underway. We need to build an entire yard just for turkeys, plus another coop for them. The low coops that work for ducks don’t work for turkeys. Turkeys like to be up high as much as possible. Even if that means standing on each other and squishing each other. Because turkeys is stoopid. 🤦♀️🙄 So we have to re-jig that yard for ducks and move turkeys to their own space with a bigger/taller coop. But first! The greenhouse. Snow hit before we got more than the 4 walls done. Yes, yes, the fall was a long and lovely one, but there was soooooo much else to do. But, the second things are melted, up it goes!
I’ve saved seeds from a bazillion and 2 things. I’ve jumped into a couple of seeds swaps and gotten seeds from plants I really, really wanted to grow! I think the only thing I might have to buy seeds for in spring is carrots. I’m not 100% certain until I go through my seeds.
I started the garden expansion to go with the greenhouse. In cleaning out the coops when we brought straw home, I had some really nice, composted, chicken poo rich dirt…and a metric eff ton of boxes…hey, that Loop program provides more than feed for the animals!! Boxes to layer to start new gardens too!
So in the spring, I’ll build some simple board sides to keep the dirt where I want it, and then using t-posts and stucco wire, protect the space from the asshole birds, and plant my plants. Every year I can/will expand it.
Tarp did not get pulled over the garden. As I said, too much to do, and not enough time or us to do it. In the spring, I’ll take a bunch of that straw from the horses (because they’ll explode their bales effing every damn where and shit in it) and layer it over top the last plants that didn’t get pulled out. Then, I’ll plant into that. Voila! Mulch and weed suppression, whilst feeding the soil with the urine/shit soaked straw. Worked effing beautifully this year, and I suspect it will work effing beautifully next year too. And there’s no tilling, just soil building. I call that a win/win/win! ‘Bout time them horses did something other than eat money. 😉
So now we just have to get everyone through the winter, so we can start building and expanding again in the spring. Because spring means??
Here we are, one of my least favorite months. I don’t like the turn towards cold. As I get older, I’m feeling the cold more and more. And I don’t like it. It’s also the month that my Cookie died. So I tend to be a wee bit…emotional. lol
As of last night, our winter hay is on the yard. So, I am over the frickin’ moon grateful for that. Our Hay Guy is a genuine Good Human. And in this day and age, those sorts of folks are becoming fewer and harder to find. But he’s a gooder, just like the people who introduced us to him. 🙂
And we have hay. So The Merry Mares get to eat.
Next up to get home, straw bales. We have 6 big rounds waiting for us with the same Farm family we bought Sir Oinks A Lot from. This weekend we’ll pick those up. Then we’ll get a couple bags of hay replacer (for those super cold days where the horses need a little extra but oats are too hard for our CinderBella to eat) and our yearly allotment of oats.
Then we’re good for feed for all the animals for a while. We still have the Loop pickups to supplement and we’re so grateful for those. A friend has a bunch of pumpkins for us too…which is gonna make the bippies (our bunch of ducklings we bought in late summer) the happiest of happy bippies. Bippies can strip a raw pumpkin down to nothing in 10.2 seconds. I *love* that I don’t have to cook the pumpkins for them!! Though, I will cook off a couple to freeze for winter for equines. Pumpkin is just as good for horse tummies as it is for dogs.
And, we have some nice weather for the next week, so I’m working on the next garden space… While working on putting the current garden to bed. It’s all happening, just slowly. This nice weather has been awesome for our heat bill…since I haven’t turned the heat on yet. Tonight is gonna be out coldest night of the week, so extra blankets and sweaters and slippers and we’ll be just fine. Even if I complain about it. 😉 Not that complaining will do any good. Winter is coming. I’ll just have to deal with it.
Been a while. We’re just over here getting shit done.
Duck house got it’s much needed refurbishment for winter housing. We picked up and processed a 350lb pig. I’ve been doing laundry outside with the wringer washer. Loop has been feeding our animals like royalty. I bought $40 worth of pumpkins just for me to have roasted seeds…animals get the rest. 😉 We have a new connection for bread for animal feed. We were gifted a working fridge.
I still have carrots and beets to get out of the garden. After I can up the last of the onions into French onion soup.
Okay, but this pig… 😂😂😂
I get a text 2 weeks ago saying our pig is ready. We bought one last year from the same folks I got LemonChicken from as a chick…and who I bought straw for the horses from last year. So this year, she asked if we wanted them to raise another pig for us…if so, she’d get an extra piglet when it was time. I said “hell yeah!!” so that I didn’t have to do pigs this year. We’re all still kinda shell shocked from the last year we raised them, so letting someone else do the day to day was just fine with us.
Then it rained 3 days straight and the Farm yard was slop. So I asked if we could put off picking the pig up ’til this past weekend. No problem. 🙂 So then I get this bright idea to name the pig, sight unseen, Sir Oinks A Lot. Oh fuck. I shouldn’t have done that. 😂😂😂
This pig…he screamed everytime he was asked to do something he didn’t want to do. Now if you’ve ever heard a pig scream, you have an idea what I’m talking about… The farm he was on is roughly 8 miles from us…I’m pretty sure we could have heard him screaming from home. 😂😂😂 Again, nothing bad happening to him, just asked him to do something he didn’t want to do. Simply, he was being a pig. Now pigs don’t have great eyesight, so convincing them to get into a trailer can be…arduous. After 30 solid minutes of screaming, Hubby climbed in the front man door of the trailer with some feed, the husband of the family we were buying from lifted the pig’s front feet into the trailer, and Sir Oinks A Lot realized “hey! there’s food!!” and got on. Fucking pig. 😂😂😂
After chatting with them for a bit (can you say connection to buy bottle lambs and bred ewes come spring time?? Squeeeeee!!!!) we headed off home to get Sir Oinks off the trailer and into the freezer. Getting off wasn’t quite as arduous, though it was longer in time. There was bread, and milk and lots of quiet talking…until Sit Oinks walked 1/4 of the way down the ramp and promptly met the Great Piggie in the Sky. Whew.
I’ll spare you all the sordid details, but from pick up to final freezing, took 3 days, with Hubby doing the dirty work and me doing the fine cut work and the Kid running help all over the place. To say I’m proud of our Kid would be a massive understatement, let me tell you!! Today I’m roasting the hocks and making bone broth. Tomorrow I’ll can the meat and broth from that. And then we’re back to poultry to finish up the birds that need to go to Freezer Camp before for reals winter hits.
And then hay needs to be delivered. And straw. Then we fix my washing machine….suspension rods are shot and need replacing. That’s why I’m washing outside with the wringer washer…but outside is about to end so gotta get the indoor machine fixed. Aaaaaaand….gotta fix the heater core on the truck. Hubby cannot do another year of no heat through winter. Fuck.
Remember I said we’d sleep in winter? Yup. It true.
Well, that’s in the books for another year. We don’t actually celebrate it, so for us it was just another weekend of trying to get things done before winter. More roosters need doing, but we were getting hammered by rain so that got put off. We did get some yard clean up done between rains. Plus we got the roosters separated so that we can just get up and go on the next not-rainy day.
That was supposed to be Saturday, because the next 3 days after today is rain, and today is a Loop pickup day so we need the 2nd fridge for some of that stuff… Oh, but then this morning? I get the text that our pig is ready to pick up. Awesome, right? Absolutely! But now Saturday is pick up the pig and process it day…because we pick up the pig live, bring it home and do all the work here. Saves us a couple hundred dollars doing it that way, and we are very happy with the family that raises the pig for us. They have the same #HappyFoodTastesBetter values that we do. And they have a better porcine set up. So I am happy af to buy a finished pig to put down in the Fall while focusing on poultry on my Farm.
But the work… O.M.G. Like I said, I’ll sleep come winter.
Garden is still producing. With the rains over the next few days, we shouldn’t frost, though we’re hovering awful close to it. I am hoping that it holds off a wee bit longer, since my peppers are not ripe yet. I really, really don’t want to buy poblano or paprika seeds next year, so I need those dang peppers to ripen! The beans are being left now to grow seed for next year. What ever is out there will get harvested after the frost and further dried to seed for the yellow, Painted pony and Royal Burgandy varieties. The pintos will just be left and tarped over. I have a *lot* of pinto seeds. lol
And carrots and beets can be left for a couple weeks yet, since they’re underground. Thank goodness, since I am not ready to pull them yet. So as soon as I see a frost warning, I’ll pick the peppers, tomatoes and ground cherrys, then let the plants die off. Once the bean seeds are harvested and the beets/carrots too, we can tarp the entire space and let her go to sleep for winter. It’s coming fast.
In the meantime, we’re just going along, trying to get as much done as possible. Butchering, building, and trying to stay sane. 😂😂😂 That last one in the toughest one.
Here’s Homer J…who, it has been determined, is a hen. YAY!! So next year we’ll have Homer J bebes. I’m very happy she’s a hen. She’s growing into a beauty of a duck (not that you can tell with all the mud on her), and she’s my pal. 😉 Today we’re working on the winter duck coop so Homer J and everyone else can have a nice warm space to snuggle on those c-c-c-old winter nights. 🙂
That is a wrap on white turkey growing for the year. Yee. Haw. We learned some things, have plans to improve those things, and yup, will definitely grow them again next year.
First thing… Remember I said I wanted to keep the hen for the breeding program with the Narragansetts? HA!! Good thing we decided against it. The one I thought was a hen…wasn’t. In fact it was the only male in the group of 6. That’s right, the massive 30-40lb birds were actually the hens. So I would have been keeping the wrong bird! And clearly, the size of the hens would have made long term health for them all but impossible. But they’re not bred for health, they’re bred for fast and furious growth and off to the freezer. Still, mine went 24 weeks without issues, where most commercial turkeys are done at 16. I figure as long as they’re running and hooting looking for their morning hard boiled eggs, they’re good to stay.
Which brings me to the 2nd thing… Size. Oh my word. Those hens I thought were toms were huge! I don’t have a final dressed out weight yet, but they did not fit the restraining cone. And even though we tried to make it work, the cone completely split on the 2nd to last bird. So we need to invest in metal restraining cones. Whether Hubby makes them or we buy them, doesn’t matter. Also, thankfully we had the turkey fryer pot for the scald to pluck dip. Our regular pot we use with meaties and roosters is waaaaay too small. And! Our plucker, which says it can handle turkeys…can’t. Or, at least not the size these hens made. So we either grow them smaller next year (😂😂😂) or we hand pluck. They are easy enough to hand pluck.
Of course the other thing about size is the rest period after butcher. They have to stay in the fridge for 24-48 hours afterwards and before packaging. We have our regular food fridge up stairs and the basement beer/butchering fridge. Um, the basement fridge is really, really full with 6 turkeys. 😂😂😂 If we grew more than 6 (we had 10 but had a 40% loss over their growing season) we’d have to do processing for more than 1 day.
Finally, feed costs… Turkeys are expensive to raise. There’s no getting around that. For the first 8 weeks, they need a quality high protein feed. For us, that meant buying the gamebird feed from the local feed store…and supplementing with hard boiled eggs. Each poult eats an average of 3 ~ 55lb bags in their first 8 weeks. They grow fast and need ample protein and energy to do it, so feed is out for them 24/7. After the first 8 weeks, I transition them to the fermented barley/wheat chop that we feed everyone else. But they still get hard boiled eggs. Both for protein and to help the transition. Once fully on the chop, they get that with garden weeds, thistles, greens and kitchen scraps. And hard boiled eggs. 😂😂😂 What? They really, really, really love hard boiled eggs! Plus the next poults will learn what the goodies from Loop are sooner, rather than later. 😉
So, 6 whites go through roughly 55-110lbs of fermented feed a week. That fluctuates with the amount of green/weeds and food waste from Loop.
Cost wise? $6.70 for each poult. 3 x $27.50 for gamebird feed. 16 weeks at 2 x $8 for chop/6 **edited to adjust the chop costs since I forgot to divide the 16 week total by 6 for 6 poults.
Which gives us a total of $131.86 to raise a poult to butcher. It’s that upfront of almost $100 in feed, plus that we pushed them out to 24 weeks. But their size shows that 24 weeks was fine. And to get size like that in 16 weeks, you’re feeding more bagged feed than the chop. See? Turkeys are just plain spendy to raise.
So why do it? Well, it’s because happy food tastes better. This growing your own food thing isn’t always about saving money. Hell, I’d say growing food animals is almost always a money losing activity. BUT I say this so often…we are what we eat. And eating poorly raised, never ever see the light of day, no delight in weeds and greens tossed to them, no space for turkey races and fun, turkeys has an effect on us. Never mind that it’s cruel, in my opinion, to keep birds locked up away from the sunshine and the ability to act naturally. So we raise our birds on the ground, in the sunshine, giving them the foods they love and that help them grow. Anyone who’s been here can see, my birbs are happy af. Just watch ’em come running when they see me…because that means The Food Lady is bringing *something* good. 😉 That’s worth the cost.
To sum up: Turkeys are expensive. The end product is huge and worth it. Need metal kill cones. And a 3rd fridge (or a walk in) would be nice.
17. That’s the number of roosters…full sized boys…who went to Freezer Camp this past weekend. Whew. That’s a huge chunk off the feed bill. Add that to the 5 geese we did last week. And that’s more than 10lbs of feed *per day* we’re saving. And we’re eating good this winter.
17. Gave me 7 packages of breasts for the freezer. Supper last night and 2 lunches for Hubby. 8 2lb bags of ground for the freezer. Plus, today and tomorrow are carcass roasting/bone broth making days. So that will give us another 10ish meals. And bones will go either into the fire (ashes go into the garden) or ground and into the garden. Depending on my energy levels. lol
I still have 4 full sized boys to do. A really good amount of younger boys (who are the size that we’d normally do them…the bigger 1st hatch guys got left too long), a bunch of older hens, plus the turkeys. The plan was to do turkeys, but they’re huge and I have to find bags to get them in the freezer with…huge. Like pretty well the 5 white boys are at the 30lb mark live weight, and the hen is pretty close to 20. Huge.
It seems we have hay. There was a quick text conversation with our Hay Guy on Saturday that ended with him saying “okay” and us saying “thank you!” and yeah, we have hay. Thank frickin’ Epona. That’s a load off the mind. Plus we have straw…now that our line is fixed, I can figure out where to put stuff and start getting in on the yard. I say “we have it” but until **we have it** we don’t really “have it”. If that makes sense. But we deal with amazing, honorable people. So when they say “you have it” I can pretty much say “we have it”.
Thank goodness for those last rounds of rains, because I’m sure that’s what made it so that we’d have hay. It saved our pasture, for sure! And it’s been letting my garden continue. The weather is good, we’ve passed the couple of sketchy nights and it’s looking good for the next 2 weeks. Good. I’m busy with birbs, so I need the garden to effectively tend to itself for a bit. We’re in the rhythm of Fall… Butcher, process, roast and can. Lather, rinse, repeat until all done.
Afterwards, maybe I’ll have a chance to take my camera out for some work. Maybe. If I’m not sleeping. 😂😂😂
Something we’ve been dealing with here at the Farm for the past 7 months, through one of our areas worst ever droughts, was a leaking water line from our well to our house. It has produced anxiety like very little else. For months.
We tried contacting every well drilling place in the area. We either were told “nope, too busy”, were ignored with calls never returned, or (my personal favorite) after being ghosted for months by a company, being told that we “were better off drilling a new well”.
So as you can imagine, as we’re watching precious water go all over our lawn, destroy our yard, potentially burn out our well pump or run our well dry, we were feeling less and less hope everyday. In fact, we were at the point of looking for an excavator to rent and doing it ourselves.
In a last ditch effort, in a local FB group, I found a woman advertising her hubby’s plumbing business. Being country folks themselves, I checked out his business page and found that he had indeed worked on wells, septic systems, and done excavations. So I took a chance and asked on her post if our problem was something he could do…she gave me his number and said “shoot him a text!” So I did.
And damn if Joe from Hooper and Sons Plumbing and Heating didn’t come through for us! In a week he was out to put in a bypass pump to keep us and the animals in water while the wet area dried enough for excavation, and then Tuesday he texts me and asks if it’s ok that the guy who runs the excavator comes out to see the site…Um, YES!!
Next thing we know? This:
It took them an afternoon to dig, find the problem, and fix it. And we have water again. Before freeze up.
Seriously, I sat down last night and had a good soul cleansing cry about it.
I’ve been fighting to find someone to help us for months, being turned away every single time. And here’s Joe…gets it that water is important for a hobby farmer (he and his family have livestock too), that hauling water in winter from off site would be horrible, that we needed help. And he came through. This guy, I’m telling ya, is a genuine Good Human.
Now I just have to pay his bill, and he has to come get his breeding pair of Narragansett turkeys I promised him. 😂😂😂 The first time he came out, I told him, if he got this fixed for us, I’d give him a young breeding pair, and I’m a Woman of my word. The hilarious part of it is, when I texted our thanks, I reminded him of the offer, and he said “I’ll see what the wife thinks” and my Hubby said “Oh Joe is gettin’ turkeys” 😂😂😂 My Hubby knows. Because that’s how we got ducks… Free poultry for the win.
And!! Just to make it all more fun, the fix happened on a Loop day too. 😂😂😂 So here we are with aaaaallllll this grocery store food for feed piled up every damn place, and my house looks like some sort of crazed food hoarder lives in it and fuck…oh man. I don’t live like that! 😂😂😂 Yeah it looked bad. But free feed for the animals and cutting down on food waste is a very necessary thing. It just happened to coincide with having other people in my house. Oh well.
Water is fixed. I’ll recommend Joe every chance I get (and we’ll probably get him out in the spring to look at our water softener). And we can breathe again. These are good things.
Way back in June, on the Summer Solstice, we had frost. I had planted my tomatoes about a week or so earlier. Peppers too. And then BOOM!! Killing frost on the first day of summer. *sigh*
Well, as it turns out, not every tomato plant died, some have bounced back, but no where near in time to get a decent crop off them. I will have some nice green ones though, so that’s okay too. But in the meantime, the shelves are looking very bare of tomato products and we cannot have that.
So when the local mega mart put their cases of roma tomatoes on sale, guess who asked her Hubby to bring some out to the Farm? Yeah, that’d be me, because I’m stupid and didn’t have enough food going into jars. 😂😂😂
But tomatoes are something we love here, and we go through a lot of tomato sauce and pizza sauce…because we live where pizza delivery isn’t an option and we like pizza. 😉
100lbs came home. So my days have been filled with roasting the tomatoes, running them through the food mill, making the sauce, canning the sauce…
In case anyone cares, 100lbs of tomatoes makes roughly 10 gallons of tomato sauce. With about 3 gallons of the juice left over after roasting. That doesn’t get wasted. After all, it’s tomato juice. So I drink it. Some years I freeze it for later on when I make the green tomato wine, but this year the freezers are already short of space, so that’s not an option. So I’ve been enjoying beer and tomato juice at the end of the long canning days.
I have a 5 gallon pail of sauce left to put in jars. That’s tomorrow. Today we’re working on the greenhouse. Being September long weekend already, we’ve got to get our butts in gear and get it up.
I’ll finish tomatogeddon tomorrow… And then we’ll be back at Rooster Rehab until all the roosters (and turkeys) are done.