Winter Solstice

Shortest day.
Longest night.
Tonight we hold Vigil for the beginning of this year’s Journey back into the light…
.
Blessed Solstice.
🖤
.
.
When I think about the return to Summer, this image always comes to mind.
The epitome of the warmth and beauty of Summertime, with the bestest horse.
🖤

Ending October

It’s been a busy one.
Canning, butchering, more canning…
The tomato shelf looks amazing, with jars and jars of sauce.
All the white turkeys have gone to Freezer Camp.
And I put a bunch of them into jars too for quick meals.
Today I’m finishing up ducks and duck stock.
We’re now at our winter numbers for birds.
Have to say, I’m glad bird butchering is done, and we didn’t do anywhere near what we’ve done the past few years.
But tomorrow is the big butchering day.
Tomorrow we get our pig.
This year all we’re doing for “fancy” or retail cuts is loin chops, the tenderloin, bacon (because why have pig if no bacon??), and ground.
No roasts, no stew, just grind the rest.
And bone broth.
Because I love me some bone broth, so I’ll be making can canning much pork bone broth.
Might make sausages, but truthfully, we tend to eat a lot of crockpot meals with ground meats throughout the winter, so ground is going to be better for us. Especially with all the tomato sauce I have jarred. 😉

And the duck coop/greenhouse will be finished today.
Hubby and The Kid are putting the roof sheathing and metal on today, and then, the birds can move in…
Then it’s just a deep clean of the chicken coop, move Lenny and Karl’s coop to the garage (after we get our hay delivery, because 6 bales go straight in for spring/next year) and get next year’s garlic planted.
We heard from our Hay Guy yesterday and have delivery set up in a couple weeks…mares are still nommin on long pasture, and I have a line on a few round bales, so if we get short before our Guy can get to us, I’ll grab a couple rounds and put one out.
Got straw home for the birds, with a chance for another dozen small bales for winter.
Tomorrow I’ll make arrangements for rounds of straw for the mares, since we get rounds from the same farm as we get our piggie.
And that’s where we’re at…
Busy, getting ready as we can for stupid winter.
But, here’s a cute picture of Lenny and Karl (our incubator ducklings) for ya:

Karl has the dark beak, Lenny the pink one…think “Lenny and Karl” from The Simpsons…

End of September

Here’s where we’re at…

2 turkeys went to Freezer Camp…Dingus and an auburn Narragansett.
Still have the rest of the whites to do, and another tom.
2 muscovy drakes joined them.
They were dicks and needed to be culled from the flock…leaving us 3 drakes to over winter with the hens and younglings.
1 pekin drake has been done.
We ordered 10 pekin ducklings and in a very odd twist, it seems like we got 2 drakes and 8 hens. That’s wild, because normally you get more boys than girls.
So we have to narrow down the last of the pekin hens we’re keeping and butcher the rest.
3 geese are in the freezer too.
Leaving us our breeding pair.

Garden is starting to clear out.
All but 4 tomato plants are stripped and pulled.
Beans are done (except for my blue lake pole beans and my rattlesnake beans, which I’m leaving as long as possible for seeds).
I’m working on pulling carrots, beets and onions.
Then I’ll mow the entire thing and cover with straw.
I moved a few rhubarb plants to new spaces, and I’m working on an asparagus bed.

I have the chance to get some horseradish plants later on this fall, so I have to get my 1/2 whiskey barrel planters situated where I want that.
I love horseradish and love the idea of growing it, but it can take over fast, so it must be contained.
The barrels moved out here with us from the city house and have sat empty of plants since.
It’s time for them to be filled.

Our load of duck eggs in the incubator produced 4 ducklings.
2 strong ones (so far, knock on wood), 2 that needed help to emerge and ended up passing.
The incubator has a difficult time keeping humidity levels high enough for ducks (I really hate styrofoam incubators…like really, really hate them), so sadly, it ends up shrink wrapping the poor little dudes into the membrane within the shell and suffocating them.
So eff that crap.
I’m on the hunt for a better incubator for doing ducks.
Something that can hold humidity better.
I fear I may have to make a bigger investment than I want too…
But
As far as sustainability goes, it would be a good investment, because of course, there are other birds here to incubate as well as ducks, so it’s not like it won’t get used. Often.

We moved the little chickens (10 each lavender orpingtons and jersey giants) into the main chicken coop.
It’s only been 1 night, and they’re confused af about not being able to get back into their former house (that’s where the 2 ducklings are), but after a night or two of being carried back to the right coop, they’ll get it.
We have at least 7 roosters between the 2 breeds, so I have good pick for who gets to stay and who gets to be fajitas.
Then next spring we’ll be able to hatch chickens out again.
EmmaBird the turkey and her 8 kids got a yard added to their brooder…with a lid so she can’t screw off on them and the chickens can’t get in to steal the kids’ foods.
Littles get a high protein feed that the regular chickens just don’t need…but everyone loves like it’s candy. And I ain’t payin’ $30/55lbs to feed it to laying hens when they have their own feed to eat!

And of course, we’re still cleaning up the yard and getting ready for the next season.
I’ll tell ya, that spring flooding kicked the crap out of our back yard.
It’s so overgrown with horrible weeds that I can’t use the regular lawn mower on, Hubby has to use the tractor mower, but with all the stupid little chickens hiding in there, it hasn’t happened yet (and because we have other things that have taken precedence over mowing…). Hopefully soon.
I really would love to see *grass* growing next year, but I fear I’ll have to sow some seed for that to happen.
*sigh*
I guess I’ll worry about it next spring, after we see what this winter has planned for us.
:/

Babies

Yes, it’s a terrible time of year, going into Fall.
If you follow the Farm on FB, you would already have heard this, but we have ducklings hatching in the incubator.

We figured this was the perfect time of year to attempt hatching ducklings.
Muscovies are notoriously finicky for hatching artificially.
That’s why most people (us included) like to let the Mamas do the job.
The Mamas are excellent at it.
But, in the early spring, when they start laying, is too early to let the hens go broody.
It is *not*, however, too early to toss a bunch of eggs in the incubator.
So we needed to know we could get them to hatch.

And well…
So far, so good.
🙂

Happy Fall y’all.

Mid-September

And things are rolling right along.
The green/duck house walls are up, the metal floor is in.
Next week we pick up the OSB sheathing for the walls, then insulate, roof, door and move the little feathered arses in…
We’ll paint once they’re moved in.

Garden is still producing.
I’ve been growing out San Marzano tomatoes for the Northern Seed Library.
The tomatoes are finally starting to get a blush on them…so I’ll give them this next week of nice weather/heat and then pick them before the damn stink bugs get them.
Soon I’ll be pulling carrots and beets and canning those.
Beans are done. Ready to have the lawn mower run over them and be covered in a layer of straw.
Rhubarb has been transplanted.
Now I have 8 plants.
Harvested enough off the 2 main plants this year to have enough to share with my Uncle and make a small batch of wine.
Getting ready to start an asparagus patch.
A big one.
Not just a few plants in a raised bed, but more like a 5′ x 10′ space.
We like asparagus and perennial food plants are awesome.
Plus, since I have aaaaaallllllll these boxes and so many coops to clean, might as well put that cardboard and shit laden straw to good use as the foundation of a new gardening space.
Tomorrow (was gonna be today but that asshole named “migraine” has shown his shitty face) I’ll pick the apples off the 3 trees.
Still have the hawthorn berries to harvest (hopefully it’s not too late for them), stinging nettle seeds, and mullein too…then I think I might be done with herbals for this year…I think.

And then, we’re looking towards butchering…
There’s the turkeys, a few chickens, 3 geese, 5 pekins, and 2 muscovy to do this year.
Not too much, thankfully.
Though next month our pig should be ready.
That’ll be a slog.
I appreciate not having to raise it (a nearby farmer does it for us) and I hate paying to send them out to be butchered…so we do it. Which means a week of work for me, between the initial pick up day, put down, skin and breakdown into primals, then retail cuts, bone broth and canning…yup, takes me about a week.
And then I fall over from exhaustion for a day or two.
😂😂😂
Just in time for hunting season to start (for us)…

Oh, and there’s 29 muscovy eggs in the incubator.
All of which are showing excellent growth.
This is an experiment based on advice I was given to hatch muscovy in the incubator.
Typically, they’re more difficult to hatch than chickens or turkeys, so I haven’t had any luck previously.
So far, though, so good.
I expect they all oughta hatch because I’m not sure where to put 29 ducklings this close to winter…
That would be my luck.
😂😂😂
But this is also the best time of year to experiment, because we’re not letting hens sit, but they’re laying eggs. Spring eggs are for babies that we leave the hens to hatch.
But it sure wold be nice if I could grab a bunch and set ’em in the incubator *then* let the hens do as they please…
So we’ll see what happens.

And then there’s the other myriad of things that need doing before the dreaded snow falls…
1. get the snowblower looked at (already in talks with my brother on that)
2. put up the snow fencing…and extra of it.
3. move brooders so they aren’t buried under the snow drifts again
4. get hay home for The Merry Mares
5. get straw for coops and horses home
6. find winter boots for The Kid and I
7. find ski pants for The Kid…she wore hers right the fuck out last winter…

I’m sure I’m missing things…I’m always missing *something*.
And through this all, we’re still dealing with Hubby’s random vertigo attacks that fuck things up for days at a time. But we’ll muddle through, as always, because that’s what we do.
🙂

Have a helluva week folks!

August

Not sure how it’s gotten to be August already, but I’m not ready for it to be August already.
Not like anyone asks me if I’m ready, or anything…
😂😂😂

Today was “take away all the duck eggs from the broody duck hens” day.
Which was not really fun, because 9 broody duck hens all trying to lob off broody duck hen shit at you for stealing their babies is really, really disgusting.
And, those bitches can aim.
Which is why you *never* pick up a broody duck hen.
Rubber boots must be worn, and you kinda scoot ’em along out of the coop, while a 2nd person makes sure they don’t dash right back in.

I candled all the eggs.
59 of them.
Gave 11 that look like they might be within a week or so of hatching to the broody chicken hens on the deck.
The rest were either not developing (too fresh) or really, really rotten.
Listen, when a black egg sloshes, you hold that veeeeerrry carefully while you dash to the fire pit where you’re gonna toss ’em.
You never want to have a rotten egg burst in your hand.
Ever.
🤢🤮

So that’s that.
From here on out, we collect duck eggs daily to try to break the hens of their broodiness.
Then the girls can just enjoy the rest of the summer being ducks, instead of sitting nests and chirping.

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

Stupid turkeys were out this morning.
The whites are getting bigger and bigger, and they keep following the grasshoppers all over the place.
Unfortunately, one place they follow them to is the road in front of our property…and I can’t have my dumbass birds out on the municipal road. They’re too stupid to move for vehicles, and I don’t want anyone getting hurt because my birds are stupid.
So we have built them a yard (which does need to be expanded), with a top on it…but we don’t worry about keeping the top on when they’re locked in their coop at night…well, I guess I forget to latch their door properly, and the jerks pushed their way out this morning.
The whites were easy to catch…
They see me, The Food Lady, and come running…
So I scooped them up and dropped them back into their yard, except for the few who dashed off into the tall weeds hooting “fuck you Lady, you’ll never catch us!!”
Except I will come supper time for sure because their turkey bellies will cry for foods and there’s none out anywhere for them to steal from other birds…eat bugs and weeds or go without…and eventually they’ll come back for the easy to eat stuff…and I I just might give everyone who was a good bird and stayed in their pen some hard boiled eggs today…that will show ’em to stay the fuck home.
😂😂😂

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

Dingus the Narragansett is out of the garage now.
Took a bit longer than I wanted…truth be told, I was just going to butcher him, but I have no freezer space right now.
So he’s in a brooder with his own yard.
It’s not a huge space, but it’s infinitely better than being in the garage long-term, and he gets to get outside now…so he’ll spend the rest of summer strutting and dancing, trying to convince any bird that comes near him how amazingly handsome he is, and then in the Fall, he’ll go to Freezer Camp.

Emma, one of my Narragansett hens, has gone off on walkabout.
I’m 98% certain I know where she is, and even more certain she’s sitting a nest.
In the former pig/duck yard, the weeds have grown to 6 feet in height (I really should find some herbivore to put in there to eat them, but time and money have been short) and I’m pretty sure she’s in there…she’s been seen going in and out of the hutch in there, but she’s not sitting in there.
And, I’m not motivated enough to wander through the weeds to see if I can find her…
She’ll either return in 25ish days (she’s been gone solid for 3 days) with some poults or she won’t return…and if she doesn’t return, I’ll assume a coyote got her.

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

Garden is growing well.
Pulled out all the pea plants and harvested those.
Now I’m replanting for a Fall crop.
Still working on weeding and mulching…that’s gonna happen until everything is pulled out.
Beans are flowering gangbusters.
Same with San Marzano tomatoes.
Other tomatoes are a bit behind, but, we’ll see what happens.
My stinging nettles are ready for their next harvest…I’ll be cutting them severely to harvest for teas, tinctures, and fertilizer.
They’re tough as hell plants, so I don’t worry about them coming back next year.
Once I do that, I can open the gate for The Merry Mares to go back into the front pasture.

Mullein is ready for harvest too.
I ran the still for my tincture base, so I’m ready to get that going.
I feel like the mullein tincture is going to be an important one this winter.
That and the elderberry syrup…and hyssop cough syrup…
Not interested in getting into any political/world debates, just feel like I need to do everything I can to take care of mine.
No one else in this world is going to, I sure the hell am.

Haying is rolling along too…
There’s a lot of grass out there to get cut still.
The feed she dis filling nicely with hay bales.
The stuff that got rained on too many times has entertained the ducks and geese immensely.
We used it as bedding for them once it finally dried.
It was too dusty for the Mares, but perfect for a bunch of crazy birds to dig through and poop in.

Fall is coming.
So is winter.
It’s getting busier, with us trying to get everything done we need to get done, plus anything extra.
I hope that winter will be less of an asshole to us this year.
Fingers crossed.
😂😂😂

Good Morning

Been a busy time.
Okay, we’re always busy here.
😂😂😂

Hubby took a few days off work (yay for having holiday days again!) so we could get somewhere closer to caught up…so much work has been done.
All the turkey babies are living in the same space now, with daily outside time.
They’re growing like crazy and well on track for October processing.
The Narragansett babies are predominantly auburns this year…Oscar has made his mark for sure!
Dingus is still living in the garage, because I don’t have freezer space for him yet.
We’ve been working hard at eating down the freezers so that, come fall, we have space for the animals we’ve grown this year, but it’s been slow.
I have to get the cure(s) for bacon because I’ve got several packages of pork bellies just waiting to go into the smoker…the joys of country living is you *can* grow things to smoke, but, sometimes when you run out of the necessities to smoke the meats, it’s a bit of a pain.

I’ve weeded the garden a million times and still have more to do.
The great thing is I haven’t had to water by hand…at least, not the main garden.
Anything in pots gets a bit of water a day.
My micro dwarf tomatoes are up in the house and growing beautifully.
I restarted the poblanos to keep as a house plant over winter. Those are doing pretty well too…
And I did cuttings off the grape vine.
So far it looks like 2 are rooting.

We’ve had several massive bonfires.
Just trying to catch up on all the brush bits (we had 4 trees that had to come down last year) and wood that needs to be taken care of. Plus, I can trhow on armloads of pasture sage so that it smokes for The Merry Mares. Helps them deal with the crazy amount of mosquitoes this year.
Oh, the joys of regular rains!
😂😂😂

In between weeding and mulching the garden, there’s the growing of the garden spaces. Boxes from the food waste recovery program broken down, laid out and covered in bedding from brooders and coops.
The big compost pile of horse manure needs to grow ~ I haven’t had the time yet to deep clean the horse shelter from winter, tho it’s composted well in there, and the extra bedding and shit made it so that it didn’t flood for them this past spring.
But before winter hits again (I know, right? It’s July and I’m already thinking winter again. FML) it needs to be deep cleaned and bedded.
And the giant horse shit pile is our base for the shooting berm…because ya gotta have a place to shoot. 😉

All of this is why there’s been light posting.
We’re just plugging away until harvest time hits.
Thankfully, there’s nothing exciting happening…well, unless you consider a batch of turkeys destroying heads of lettuce in seconds exciting. 😂 Because *that* happens a lot here…same with ducks and watermelon. I’ve got to video that to share with y’all because ducks and watermelon is hilarious.

That’s us for right now.
Have a great week all!
❤

All Effing In

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.
🙂

May Long Weekend

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.

Still Here

Still working.
Still…sumthin’ or other…
Meh.

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.

Little arrows on the sides of the images give you a chance to click through all images…don’t hit that arrow on this one if blood bothers you, ‘kay?


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!

Oh look!
You can see my greenhouse walls in the background!
And the straw bales…and chickens picking at the straw bales.
😂😂😂

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??

SHEEPIES!!!

I am so damn excited!!
😀