Saturday, May 25, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, May 25, 2013

Thursday, Mr. Bootsie was working on removing more of the pile where the fox den was located.  He has found firewood, sticks and excellent compost as this has been breaking down over 7 years.  I decided to go check on the coop.  Looking to the goat pasture, I saw a tree downed, right across the fence.  I called to Mr. Bootsie, "Do you have a chain saw with you? Tree on the fence and pushing down."  He quickly came my way, into the pasture we went, tree was cut and the new play ground was closed.  The goats were walking up the tree and  in no time at all they would have been out of the pasture.  The fence was pulled back into shape, we had no strong winds as both of us had been outside all morning.  How do these things happen?  I am just glad we were able to correct the situation quickly.  Lesson Learned, Don't ask why until after the problem is fixed.


Chive blossom jelly was made this week, this is one interesting jelly, we are thinking this will be a nice sauce to use on egg rolls.  Chive blossom vinegar was poured off Saturday afternoon.  We have a few more chive blooms.  I am thinking I will be using the garlic chives later in the year to make more jelly and possibly some vinegar.


Mr. Bootsie has had a productive week.  The bridge, used to access the cross creek woods, was missing side supports when we purchased the property now has one side repaired.  One of the large pine trees which fell during the winter/spring storms was used.   He has been bringing in firewood to split.  Cutting more trees for the goats to eat the leaves off.  He saves a little time each day to pull honeysuckle, this is an invasive plant, has a pretty flower and I think all children remember sucking the honey out of flower.  The Lady Gracie and Nibbles land clearing operation are doing a good job.  The ladies spend about 30 minutes a day out in the woods and it is starting to really show.  We were looking at trees we could bring down to help them in their task of opening up some of the woods.


We have never felt there was enough air movement in the coop, One of the windows was removed, the opening was covered with rat wire and an outside shutter was made to close when needed.  This sure bought on a fews cool nights for us.  I was in need of another brooder box and after drawing what I wanted on a napkin, Mr. Bootsie went to work and now the little chicks have a wonderful new home.  The little ones are going outside and playing in the chicken tractor, I think when the weather returns to warm Momma Hen may start making the journey back to joining the flock.  Moved Little Grey with her 18 eggs into the brooder so they would have room if and when they start to hatch.


Picking strawberries and snow peas.  A good bit of the garden has been planted and fed.  Garlic and onions now have scapes.

Walking onion scapes

Garlic Scapes 
I have been reading about pickled garlic scapes, I am thinking I may try onion scapes as well.  The walking onions are loaded with scapes.  The yellow zucchini plant is loaded.

I would like to think I am going to be picking a few zucchinis, last year we lost almost all of our squash plants to the stink bug.  The cold we are experiencing I think is blackberry winter as I can see color in the buds of the blackberry plants.  My climbing spinach, which is one of my favorite plants,  has come up where it was planted last year.  I will be moving these plants to the cold tunnel to climb the tunnel. 


I found some water plants when we went to the feed store.  I had a lovely pond before we moved here and I really was unhappy about having to leave it.  Slowly things are coming full circle and I am working on another water feature.  I had not been able to find a source for water plants and one of the nurseries I had purchased from had closed up.  I was not able to return to my source of years gone by.  It was good to learn this store gets their supply from a store in Orange, Va. and I do go to Orange from time to time.  I see more water plants and maybe some new fish in my future.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, May 19, 2013

As I am oven canning the pineapple I dried last week,  I am thinking about the things I need to do to make the canning and freezing season easier for me. I love to make the pickles and do not feel as that is work.  I make a number of pickles which take days but I find it very interesting to watch the changes the cucumber makes and finally becomes a delicious pickle.

We made the provision run over to the valley Friday and someway I managed to visit my favorite grower in the valley.  Was chatting with one of the growers and talking about my plant history and would love to visit his grow houses and I was invited to come next spring for a day when the grow houses are just starting to bloom.  How exciting, I really do not think I have been in a grow house for about 15 years. That is one trip which will be on my calendar.  My friend has no idea how much he pleased me with opening his houses to me for a day.


We have been busy sharing kefir grains, I had some picked up a week ago.  This week I mailed grains in milk to a farm in the valley.  I love sharing the grains for I am passionate about my kefir.  I really do believe it is good for you and I know when I get lazy, my body tells me you need kefir milk, I have learned not to argue with my body.

I made sourdough rolls, this new batch of starter is delicious.  The rolls turned out moist, tender and the taste was pleasant to the palette.  I am making  cauliflower soup, this is made with kefir but you may use the milk of your choice and I use cheddar cheese.  On a chilly May evening this is going to be a great treat.

I did dehydrate some of the radishes, they are quite tasty, have a hot kick to them but call you back to have more.


Mr. Bootsie is moving any pile of fallen trees which looks as if it could become a home for the foxes.  We have not seen them but I stay on the look out, I see Mr. Bootsie taking some additional walks around, I know he is looking for any animal action around the pasture and runs.  We have not let the goats out and they are missing their freedom.


The two little chicks are growing, starting to fly and eat everything in sight.  Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, grass and starter pellets.  Little Grey was set on Sunday with 5 pheasant eggs,  she refused to allow me to take away an egg she had laid.  Would not stay on the nest without it, so needless to say that egg is under her.  Tuesday, I added 13 hen eggs and yes, she still has her egg.  At this point there seems to be no others interested in hatching eggs but that could always change.

Mr. Bootsie is building another brooder box, which will be greatly needed.

We are continuing to gather a duck egg everyday, hen egg production is not as good.  Two hens setting have reduced the layers to 9 and the up and down temperatures have effected the laying .


I am still setting tomatoes, have a few more things to plant.  We removed half of the cover from the cold tunnel this week.  I would have taken it all of but the rain has come and I do not want to store it wet.  I will remove this after everything is dry, which will not take long when the sun comes out.

Pole butter beans are coming up.  snow peas are starting to show pods, sun gold tomatoes are starting to bloom.  I  just purchased some bush butter bean seeds in the valley, we planted but only 5 came up and I am going to replant.  String beans are up, they were fed and mulched just before the rain came in.  Bloody butcher corn is coming along,  I think I will work it as soon as the land allows.  After this rain, I will be putting in the cucumbers.


It seems we start every morning and work until sundown, doing chores which need to be accomplished.  I sometimes feel as if I am the most disorganized person in the world.  I know we have to deal with each event as it come up and planning is what you try but it may not work the way you thought it would.  I am much further ahead than I have even been in putting in the garden, taking care of the girls, but I will not say anything about spring cleaning and fixing good meals.  Time now to rotate to the summer schedule, in the garden early, come in the house or a shaded area in midday to work and late afternoon find other shady places to work.

OH, no, I am not complaining, this is my time of the year and I love it.!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, May 11, 2013

Rain, rain, go away, I want to go out and play.  This week we have had rain and I worked knowing the rain was coming.  A lot of the garden was planted and waiting for rain.  We pushed very hard to plant the bloody butcher corn.  Between some of the showers the potatoes were fed plant food and had mulch pulled up on them.


I made sourdough English muffins, oh how I have missed having these for breakfast sandwiches.  We opened the violet jelly and it was very good.  There were 16 pineapples purchase at a very good price and I am dehydrating all of them.  The chives are blooming and chive blossom wine vinegar is working.  In 2 weeks we have the return of this to our vinegar cabinet.


Mr. Bootsie has been working on trying to discourage the foxes.  We have taken most of the protection down around the den.  We have seen 2 little ones playing.  We are still cutting brush for the goats.  I am afraid to let them go outside of the pasture and free range graze.  We were taking them out for about 30 minutes a day until we learned the location of the den.  Another trip to the mill this week.  A new project has started.  He is working on a brooder box in our feed room.


Everything is good in the coop.  Little Gray, broody is waiting for her eggs, they were picked up Saturday afternoon.  We are going to set her Sunday morning.  We have 5 Golden Pheasant eggs which we were told will take about 22 to 24 days.  There are 13 assorted eggs from a friend who has a number of roosters.  He keeps the pairs together.  This is going to be an interesting hatch.

The first hatch is now over 2 weeks old, they are eating oatmeal, scrambled eggs and grass. (They have been chick starter from the hatch, I keep this in with the setting hens.)  These little ones are growing.

Momma Duck has showed no signs of becoming a Momma Duck, we have checked lots of eggs and we see no signs of them being fertile.  But what do we know?


Most of the crops are planted.  Now the weeded and thinning has started.  Just when you think it is all clear the night temperatures next week are going to be low again.  I will wait until this front has passed to install the cucumber plants.  They like the soil temperature to be above 70 degrees.  

The walking onions are starting to shoot their scapes, it is time to start enjoying the green garlic.  Radishes are coming in by the basket full.  We are planning on eating the radish greens this year and dehydrating the radish root.  This is such an easy plant to grow I need to find more ways to use this in our food pantry.  The green beans were fed and mulched,  the early tomato plants are taking on a good color.  Harvesting broccoli and the Swiss chard is ready to be harvested.  The chickens are enjoying some of the  plants from the garden.  I grow the chard large and feed it to them.  I may dehydrate some of the chard, I find this is a wonderful addition to soups.  I have been thinking this could be a good addition to a green smoothie.  


We are busy, now that there is a second set of hands here to work things are getting accomplished on a more timely basis.  It seems I have Mr. Bootise running in a number of different directions.  I am not sure this will stop.  Mr. Bootsie was a start a project and finish it, move on to another, but now he is starting to understand you have to do what is the most pressing task at this moment.  His adjustment is really starting to show, it surely is making a lot of things easier for me.  I was able to plant some flowers this past week, what a pleasure for I have really missed my flowers.  There has been so much hard work here I have had to put some of the things I do for my pleasure on the back burner and think I will get to this later.  Many times I asked myself if later would come in my lifetime.  I am seeing a light at the end of my tunnel and somedays it is much brighter than others.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, May 4, 2013

This week has been an interesting time on the farm.  The garden is really starting to grow, the early garden has all been planted or it is just too late to add anything else as it will not produce.  The summer garden is being planted, with the temperatures turning cold again and the little seeds are staying the ground instead of having the sun pull them up to start growing.  The transplants are not showing signs of growing above the ground but I am sure the root systems are getting stronger with each passing day. The little peeps are moving around the brooder box and getting larger every day.  All was so peaceful here on the farm, we started seeing a fox early in the week.  By Friday morning, we knew we had a den of foxes within a 100 feet of the coop, even closer to the duck run and the ladies seen to be on alert all the time.  Life changed on our farm very quickly, we are now thinking about the threat of danger to our animals.


I killed my sourdough starter back in the fall, well maybe I did not kill it, I may have ignored the need for it to be fed.  I was busy doing things, took it out of the fridge one day to warm up to make bread and oops, there is going to be no wonderful bread until a new starter is made.  I  work my sourdough with the kefir milk and mixed flours, Monday I took 2 cups of kefir milk from the fridge and let it come to room temperature, added 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat flour to the milk, covered with cheese cloth and set it in the greenhouse to start the process.  By 2 p.m. on Tuesday it was bubbling.  Oh, how I have missed having my sourdough bread, I never knew I could make the starter so easy with the kefir milk.  The Sourdough Starter has not always been this easy for me to make but I believe the kefir milk was a great asset as it is a fermented milk.


Mr. Bootsie has been busy cleaning up brush around the farm, the goats eat the wild blackberry vines and sapling trees.  He has been cutting them and taking them to the goat lot.  The moisture in the ground has made it quite easy to pull a lot of the vining plants, removing their roots at the same time.  These go into the goat lot for the Ladies to eat the vegetation and what is left after a few days are removed to the compost piles.

He went on total fox alter Friday.  They have a very large den under a pile of trees which were stacked when the drain field was put in.  There has been a ground hog living in there for a few years and with the activity we saw around the pile we assumed it was the ground hog again this season.  Friday morning, little foxes were spotted playing around the pile.  The day was spent working on removing the pile.  The thought was if we dismantle the pile and close the burroughs they were using to come and go maybe they would leave.  Saturday morning, all seemed clear, by Saturday afternoon we knew there was going to be another day of fox determent and new approach.  With promised rain, Monday- Wednesday or Thursday, I am not sure how this will be addressed but this is a priority for us.


Baby peeps are getting bigger, I never knew 2 little peeps could make a hen so proud.  They are now eating scrambled eggs, oatmeal and chick starter.  There is another broody, one of Aurora's little peeps from last year is wanting to start her own little family.  I will looking for eggs to set under her this week.  The ducks are just happy swimming in their pond and hunting food all of the time.


Saturday afternoon, I found an Italian pepperoncini pepper large enough to pick, there are many more little ones coming on this plant.  One of these early producers always puts a smile on your face for there is hope for a good season in the garden.  The green beans are just laying in the soil, awaiting a warm day, to bring them forth.  Radishes are large enough to start pulling.  Moles are having dinner on the spring onions, the walking onions are showing signs of scapes getting ready to develop.  Strawberries blooming, blackberries and raspberries are showing plenty of foliage.  Potatoes are looking good and the peas have started climbing.  I saw the first male bloom on a squash plant on Thursday.


I know the warm weather is on the way, I hope we have a little late spring this year, I would enjoy working in the garden without the intense heat of summer so early in the season,  I am pleased with the development of our garden and I hope things continue to be promising for a good season.  One never knows what will happen.  We never thought we would be on fox alert, one of the first things you need to learn when farming is you can change directions in a moment's notice.  There will be no afternoon walks for the girls, they enjoy getting out of the runs so much and working in our woods finding treats but this is just too dangerous at this time.  We never allow them to range without us being there but I have a fear we cannot be with all of them.  My girls mean so so much to me and I really do not want to loose one of them to a fox.  We feel the runs are safe and we are checking them on a regular basis, they are a fence and fences need to be checked for damage.

From the weather reports and looking at the wild blackberry plants, Blackberry Winter is here.  There will be fire in the wood stove, a pot of hearty stew and rain to nourish the garden and pastures.  I will be hustling trying to get a number of plants in the garden.  After Blackberry Winter, which I enjoy as much as Indian Summer, I look forward to a wonderful growing season for all.