Category Archives: Farm

Unmet Friends

Standard

I’ve been searching out gardening info on the internet, and I’ve come across a couple of vlogs I’d like to share.  The first one is Justin Rhodes’s channel.  Justin Rhodes and his family (wife Rebekah – aka the Beautiful One – and 4 sweet kids – Jonah, Josiah, Lily and Gideon) are traveling around the country in a converted school bus they call Mabel, visiting homesteads, organic farms, and backyard gardens on the Greatest American Farm Tour.  They have a farm/homestead in North Carolina (that is currently being maintained by some friends), and the channel is a wealth of info on working with chickens to cut down on the amount of physical labor associated with gardening.  Justin contracted Lyme disease a few years ago, which severely curtailed what he was able to do on their farm.  They had run a CSA and/or a market garden, and a summer camp on their land previously, but with the Lyme disease knocking back his energy, they had to reimagine their future.  They scaled the farming back to “just” grow enough for themselves, got involved with the permaculture movement, produced a movie called Permaculture Chickens, and started a daily vlog.  Their climate is totally different than ours, but I LOVE watching their vlogs, both the older ones, where they document life on the farm, and the newer ones, where they are showing all the places they’re traveling to.

The other vlog I want to share, ART & BRI, is also not arctic.  This is another vlog with a family of six living on a farm/homestead in North Carolina.  These folks are friends of the Rhodes’s – in fact, before the Rhodes family left on their cross-country trip, they gave Arthur and Brianna all their poultry.  Arthur and Brianna also have goats and a dairy cow, which we are most likely never going to have.  Arthur is an RN, and Brianna is a stay-at-home homeschool mom.  He had been spending so much of his time working, the kids hardly ever saw him.  He and Brianna wanted to do something to change that situation, and wanted to do it together, so they started a vlog to earn a part-time income while focusing on projects to improve and expand their homestead.  They share a lot of great information on a variety of farming/gardening/homesteading topics.

Both of these vlogs are very well-edited and filled with inspiration for people who want to grow their own food.  The settings are beautiful and the joy and contentment of the vloggers is palpable.  After watching many of the videos from both these vlogs, I feel like I have friends in North Carolina, even though we’ve never met.  One caveat: if you are trying to build this kind of life yourself, BEWARE!  It is very easy to spend far too much of the day watching other people do it!

Early Harvest

Standard

The other day I posted about most of the stuff we are intentionally growing this year.  Here’s some of the stuff that just grows (good and less good):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yarrow

Yarrow is a “weed” that has lots of uses, besides just being pretty.  Mosquitos don’t much care for its scent.  Two years ago, I infused yarrow flower heads in oil, then made a salve with the resulting fragrant oil, a few drops of tea tree oil, and beeswax.  I probably should have made a lotion; because the salve was a bit heavy, we didn’t use it much, just kept using the stuff from the store.  This year, we ran out of store-bought bug dope, so I got out my old experiment.  I’m not sure if the mosquitos aren’t biting because of the scent or because they just can’t penetrate the wax/oil base, but I am definitely going to use this stuff from now on! (And the bunch of yarrow in the photo will become more – but I’ll try a lotion this time!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First Wild Strawberries

While I was out picking yarrow this morning, I noticed something red in the grass.  Wild strawberries!!  Our first berries of the season are not from any plants I purchased, and there aren’t enough of them to top a bowl of cereal, but there were enough for each of us to have a taste.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After a day and a half of rain, the weeds are very happy.

It rained nearly all day yesterday and last night.  It is lovely not to have to water the garden, but my plants are not the only ones that like water.  The paths have fewer weeds because the ground is more compacted.  We are way behind with getting the garden mulched (have to rent a chipper to deal with the mountain of brush we’ll be using), and it can be discouraging to see the amount of work I’m going to need to be doing on my knees, but I still love seeing how life insists on having its way.

 

What’s Growing – June 2017

Standard

2017 is yet another year when we won’t be getting much from our gardening efforts to shorten the food chain; not having a spot to start seeds early enough really cuts down on what I can get out in the garden in time.  We are still working on it though.  Next year I WILL have an indoor seed starting area, somehow.  In the meantime, here’s what we’ve got growing this year (We also have 15 adolescent chickens who will be providing eggs in a couple of months, but I missed getting a picture of them.):

 

 

The Sun’s Going Away!

Standard

Well, so much for maintaining a weekly posting schedule over the summer!  It is now late-September and our brief sun-time is waning.  Last Saturday was our final Farmer’s Market of the year, and this morning we saw our first snowflakes.  I’ve dug all my potatoes and stored them carefully away. (Good thing we didn’t get too many, since storage would be an issue – no root cellar.  Still, I’d have liked to get a bit more than “about double” what I planted.)  There are still carrots and beets in the ground.  Frost and moose very sweetly took care of the rest of my vegetable garden.  The Boy is now quite fond of moose, since he didn’t have to choke down any kale or cauliflower this year.  There is still buckwheat to harvest, and maybe enough barley to make a couple pots of soup.  And I just collected the last of the tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse.  Oh, and we tried growing a couple of tomato family relatives called “Sunberries” and “Garden Huckleberries,” which are supposed to produce mega crops of dark purple berries that are best picked after a few frosts.  Well, maybe the “mega” part works farther south.  I picked a handful of Sunberries from the 35 or so plants I put in, but the Garden Huckleberries barely even set fruit.  Fortunately, those were two gift seed packets from Mom-in-law (Hi, MIL!).  They were actually a few years old, which is why I started so many – I didn’t really think many would germinate.

Though we did get some produce (enough to be thankful for!) it’s been a kind of disappointing year in the garden.  While I did manage to get some ripe tomatoes and enough summer squash to not mind composting a couple, we were overrun by chickweed

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The chickweed is still growing.

and bird vetch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bird Vetch – the Kudzu of the North

(and plantain, lamb’s quarters, dandelions and clover . . . ), and it was a very wet summer.

We did not get very far in our horizontal priority list, but we did manage to move our ducks outdoors! Hoorah!  The Husband build a lovely outdoor coop for them, with a nice enclosure, several covered areas and a pool for bathing.

They weren’t exactly “free-range”; there are too many free-range dogs and cats in our neighborhood to let them wander the property outside of a sturdy fence, and the property is too large to enclose (well, with our budget).  They did get to spend most of the summer outside, though, eating all the mosquitoes their little hearts desired (and as much chickweed as we could give them).  Meanwhile, the indoor coop has had a makeover.  The Husband emptied and cleaned it, and we’ve repainted the coop side with fresh white paint and polyurethane to protect the floor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had to include The Husband or it would have been hard to see anything in the all white coop.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ducks back in their winter quarters

We are still working on the storage/work side.  That part can be done with the birds back inside, but since the return to winter quarters had to happen, those quarters needed to be ready first.

Currently we have 20 ducks and 2 bantam chickens.  They all returned to the coop but some are just visiting.  Several, at least, will take up residence in our freezer in a week or two.  Egg production has declined somewhat this year, and our spring hatching disappointingly produced only three healthy ducklings (and one of those even needed some help to get out of her shell).  Time to bring in some fresh blood.  Next spring we’ll order some new birds to improve the gene pool a bit.  We considered just starting over in the spring and sending all of them to the freezer, but that would mean no fresh eggs at all over the winter.  Store-bought isn’t enticing after having fresh for so long!  Also, we don’t have a stand-alone freezer.  Trying to fit 20 ducks in the above-the-refrigerator space would be a nightmare.  Hopefully, now that the birds have returned to the consistent 14-hour days and 50-60 degree temps of the indoor coop, they will think they’ve already been through winter and start laying like crazy.  If they don’t, we’ll have to do some investigating to find out who’ll survive the cull.

This time of year is always fun.  All the many things that should have gotten done over the summer but didn’t are still waiting.  School has started for both the teacher Husband and the homeschool Family.  The weather always seems to be gorgeous on days we are scheduled for indoor activities and iffy, at best, on those days we could work on those let’s-just-get-it-done tasks.  Let me tell you, wading through wet, waist-high bird vetch and slipping on overgrown chickweed to pick buckwheat in the cold rain is not my favorite part of autumn.  It’s all good, though.  The smell of autumn, the return of sunsets and the sight of the butterscotch birch and cottonwood leaves against the intense blue or smoky gray of the sky makes up for the yucky bits.

Farm, School, Love

Standard

1. Farm-y stuff:

The last clutch of ducklings included 12 little fluff balls, six or seven boys, five or six girls. (It’s kind of hard to tell before they get their grown-up feathers.)

Today, we are starting to collect eggs for the second clutch of the year.  We have one duck from our first generation who is remarkably consistent with laying daily, and we would like to make sure to pass those genes on … but in the first clutch, the eggs we collected from her did not develop.  This time around, she has been isolated with a drake (we didn’t dim the lights and strew rose petals around to set the mood or anything, but you get the idea), to make sure it is not a lack of attention that caused her eggs to be infertile.

The snow is almost completely gone from the grain field.  Weekends will soon be spent prepping the ground for this year’s crops.  I’m not sure what will happen, kitchen garden-wise, since we are contemplating a visit to the family on the East Coast during the main part of the growing season.  (Can’t wait until after Hubs’s retirement – some time in the future – so we can travel during the COLD months!!)  Hopefully we will get the greenhouse built, at least, so that next year we can extend the season long enough to suit me.

2. School-y stuff:

Quarterly work samples and twice-yearly progress reports are due May 15th.  If I could figure out how to use LEGO Chima as a basis for all subjects, my life would be much easier.  Hmm. Perhaps, I could have my Students research the history of the LEGO company (history), and the molecular structure of LEGO plastic (science), locate LEGO headquarters, factories and distribution sites  on a map (geography), write a fan-fiction episode of “The Legends of Chima” (language arts), create posters of the world of Chima (art, and foreign language, if Girl did the writing on hers in German), learn to play the theme-song on the harp (Girl’s music), and figure out the profit LEGO, Inc. makes with each new ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY set of characters/”speedorz”/etc. (math/marketing/propaganda/brainwashing).

3. Love-y stuff:

11-years ago today, my darling Girl arrived and changed our lives forever, and for the better.  ❤

Girl at about 2 months.

Girl ON THE DAY OF HER BIRTH, with Sir Moose-alot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For those of you who know me personally, this is actually a picture of my daughter – not me!

Beauty at the Beach

Beauty at the Beach. (She prefers “Tomboy Covered in Muddy Sand.”)

And, because I was on a blog-hiatus through March, I MUST add that the Boy’s arrival in March, 9 years ago, was also a life-changing and blessed event!

My Boy

My Boy. ❤

Selfie

Selfie

Boy Covered in Muddy Sand

Boy Covered in Muddy Sand

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New Mouths to Feed

Standard

Ducky

New duckies arriving today! (This is actually one of last year’s, because the Husband took the camera with him to his out of town conference.  But really, at this stage, they all pretty much look the same.  Actually, they never look very much different, other than male/female color differences.)

It is so cool to hear them peeping before they are out of the shell!