Sunday, January 17, 2016

January update thru the 15th

Mother Nature has been having fun playing with the weather.  I have become so confused, jeans and short sleeved shirt one day and the next a heavy winter coat.  I question if the plants are going to harden and be able to survive the cold of the winter.


I spent one rainy cold day reviewing my seed orders and placed them with the companies.  I already have seeds in hand, less than a week.  I am checking the calendar and thinking I will start planting about the end of January.  I have been reading about the winter sown program and plan to get myself organized to plant some milk jugs with seeds to see if this method works well for me.  I have had real good luck starting my seeds but we are always looking for an easier way to do things.


Wine is still being produced, following the directions for making wine my last batch should have been ready on Christmas Day; however, it was still bubbling and you never bottle while wine is working unless you have lots of time to clean up a real sticky mess.  Since we are making blackberry wine it might color the walls if it spews out of the bottles.  The wine settled down and was bottled on January 9, 2016.  One day later and I have another 8 cups of blackberries and 1 gallon of water working.  There are more blackberries in the freezer and I will keep this project going for a while.


I try to find interesting recipes I can prepare during the summer when we are quite busy.  I am starting to find some recipes which are more of a formula than a recipe.  They just give you the ingredients and you proceed according to your taste.  I am finding these to be interesting but I am making notes as to what we enjoy and I will develop my own recipe to keep in my file.  I have found this helpful, as I am learning more about the paring of vinegar and herbs with other food items and the development of pleasurable taste.  The soup pot was filled with beef vegetable soup, there will be several containers placed in the freezer, quick meals my style.


On January 10th as I was checking for eggs, there it was, a pullet egg.  My little girl born in July has laid her first egg.  On the 12th one of the hens came out of molt.  I am thinking right now, I made it and did not have to purchase any eggs.  The ducks seem to keep laying and I use their eggs in all my baking and mix with hen eggs to make scrambled eggs.

The farmer came by with baby chicks and now I have 7 little ones I am going to be raising.  We had talked, a few days ago, and I think this will be a good venture for us.  The farmer will be reclaiming the roosters and I will be building up my layers.


Reggie came over for meet and greet.  We were hoping he would be able to stay but he can clear the 48 inch fence as it it was not there.  I became afraid of his getting a foot hung in the fence and breaking a leg.  I called the farmer and Reggie went home for the evening.  He is a sweet and gentle goat, he just wants to be with you.  Mr. Bootsie said there would not have been in any issues if he could have come inside and stayed with us.  As soon as he is needed, he will be visiting once again.  It was wonderful seeing him playing in our pasture with the ladies.  They appeared pleased to have a good afternoon playing goats games.  


New life on the farm brings excitement and the thought of baby goats in late May or June makes me very pleased.  The farmer will get her choice as her buck is a milk goat and my girls are milk goats, we should have some good milkers.  

It appears, things are going to be busy around here for a while.  I picked up a new pickle cookbook and  I am reading a lot of recipes.  This book has a section on small batches and this is something I have been looking for.  I have taken some time and have been studying the signs of the moon and when to plant.  I think I am really understanding this for the first time.  I shall be adding a little information as I begin my planting.  Time for me to get some rest.  Tomorrow morning I need to take care of the baby chicks.  So Exciting!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Farm Life, Real Life

Farming has it days, when you are so pleased with everything and then, there are days which you would have been much happier if they would have never happened.  This is the same as it is with life as there are good memories and sad memories.  Having grown up on a farm, I as a child saw both sides of life.  I knew about life and life becoming food for our farm.  I, also, had experienced the loss of farm animals and how it was dealt with.  When we made the decision to add animals to our farm, I seemed to have forgotten this part of life on the farm.  After settling here, we had to put down our faithful friend who had made this journey with us.  She had gotten so old, could not lift her weigh any more and was depending on me to carry her outside when needed.  After a long talk with the vet and all of us getting our heads straight the decision was made.  We loaded her into our van and made one final trip to the vet.  They met us in the parking lot, saying they did not need our help as there were tears flowing all over the parking lot and I know they felt more than helpless in dealing with us. They knew how to deal with our cherished girl.  So my city girl, then farm girl became a memory.  One I still think about to this day, there will never be one who could replace her because she and I became one.  It took me several weeks to remove her bed from her corner, but one day it was time.  I had my heart filled with memories and my kitty was starting to show her age and once again I was dealing with losing another of our city pets.  So in settling here, we had lost all three of the pets who moved to the farm.  It was our strong desire for all of them to make the journey to the farm and enjoy the calm of our farm.

The first critters added to the farm were chickens, then came the goats.  The chickens have been here for eight years and are starting to show their age.  My mind set was for my first girls to live out their life on the farm.  Well, this happened over the Christmas season.  My girl, Ornery, became sick.  We were able to bring her around and things seemed good but with the bitter cold weather, she went down again.  I moved her to our house and took care of her.  I was spoon feeding her and watering the same way.  I was hoping she would recover, but I knew better.   After one day, I knew this was just a waiting game and I would have to let it play out.  Wrapped in a blanket and lying in a basket, she took her final breath.  There is now another grave on our farm.  I am pleased to have had this ornery chicken in my life, she made me smile, she sang a little song for me everyday until I moved her into our house.  I knew she wanted to end her days in the coop with all of her friends (I say this with caution as she kept everyone in line when pecking was called for)  I know she enjoyed being with all of the chickens.

I have other chickens who are also getting older, I have read where some have lived to be in the tens, teens and one who made twenty some years.  I am not sure how old my girls will get but they have a good life.  Warmed oatmeal and scrambled eggs for breakfast, lots of grain and seeds, fresh water and a covered run.  They are protected from the rain if they wish to be and we, the chickens and I, argue about their being out when there is snow on the ground.  I was touched with the loss of a chicken's life here on our farm but I know that is part of farming.  I stood up strong and remembered she was lucky to be here.  They do not have to worry about hawks taking them away and I see their alarm systems begin to work when a hawk is crying from the sky and they do move to their safe place.  There was always food and she never had to do with what we could come up with.

This chicken managed to get into our heart and head just like our big fluffy dog.  I dealt with their deaths and I know I have to move forward for there are others who will be waiting for me to take care of them.  This is one part of farm of life I could say I do not enjoy but this is an important part of farm life.  It teaches you how to let go and move on.  Having seen life and death all of my life, I think I understand how to accept death much better than a lot of folks I know.   Accepting someone is no longer with you leaves a void or a hollow in your soul and /or heart, taking your memories, cherishing them will fill you with overflowing joy.

I was sang a song  and I noticed just a few days ago, another one of my hens is now singing a song at bedtime.  Ornery lives on as she taught someone to sing her song. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reflections of 2015

Where did it go?  How quickly this year passed away.  As I prepare to put the new calendar on the wall and check the almanac to begin my planning I see the year is 2016.  Now let me think what happened in 2015?

The year came in with a bang,  as I was at the doctor's office January 2, and continued to fight to regain my strength for several months.  Having to make a decision to cut back on a lot of things as my strength never returned to what it was before I became ill was not pleasing to me but I had no choice.   By the end of the year I was able to stand on my feet for most of the day, bend over and pull weeds for a couple of hours at a time but the heat during the summer took it's toll on me.

Spring time on the farm is about new life, and there were not any new little creatures on Triple Creek Farm until July and 2 chicks were hatched from our eggs.  No baby goats or ducks.  It was a sort of sad spring.  The only productive thing was the garden.  All of the seeding did well, for the first year there was not a damping off problem.  I used some logic starting seeds and did not have plants which I would not be able to use setting around  everywhere.  I found without having to maintain a number of plants I would not be using and putting my attention on what I needed kept from overwhelming me.  I started more plant varieties for my garden, this year I had squash plants to transplant, something in the past I had never done or believed in but I learned my lesson.  There was a bumper crop of squash and yes, the squash bug had a wonderful time in the garden but the plants were strong and could handle the damage from the bugs.  So, my trade off was working in the garden and learning about the crops I want to plant, we ate well but I missed my babies.

We ended up the winter with only a small amount of firewood left over.  Toward the end of the winter we were careful and only built fires when they were needed.  Mr. Bootsie spent quite a bit of time cleaning out an area we have always been in question about if there was some really bad weather.  I had always been afraid of these trees hitting the house.  There aee a few more to take out but progress was made.  The wood racks were filled in time for the wood to season and ready in the fall.  Mild fall weather has kept the wood racks looking good as most continue to be filled.

There were blackberries, I was picking blackberries everyday.  There is blackberry wine aging and a few more batches to be make.  I freeze the berries during the summer and continue to make wine during the winter.  I tried peach wine this year, Mr. Bootsie informed me it was not good until one day in December when it had aged and mellowed, I was told I should make more peach wine next summer as it has changed quite a bit.  Funny how the aging process works.

There was canning, freezing and dehydrating going on during the summer.  One of my favorite new friends is skinned, sliced tomatoes dried, I did 1/2 gallon jars of these, I add these to my fresh salads.  No more of those rocks from the grocery store during the winter.  Learned this year to make refrigerator pickles to use in salads, so during winter we make these to add to the salads and do not have to be concerned about cucumbers going bad in the fridge.  I try to always buy English cukes  but I sometimes have to get the waxed ones.  I just peel them and pickle, they are working great for my salads.

I lost my sourdough starter and almost lost my kefir grains when I was not feeling good.  I am so pleased I lost my starter because the new one is so much better.  I worked hard to save my kefir grains.  I cleaned them and added to fresh milk until they started growing once again.  As many as you share when you need gains it seems everyone else has some sort of problem.  I always try to keep a backup in the fridge but my backup had molded.  I was too busy trying to get well so a number  of things went without the attention they needed.

As the summer progressed so did my strength,  Mr. Bootsie was always there to put the canning pot on the stove and handle all of the heavy things.  He filled and opened the pressure canner as I just cannot do this anymore.  He has found he really enjoys working with the canner, taking on the duty of watching the pressure gauge and timing, this does free me to go on to another task or get a little rest.  I think he has become a team player and for man who had worked by himself all of his professional career this was a real challenge.

The things we have been most pleased with this year were NO SNAKES IN THE CHICKEN COOP, well that we saw.  This was a first for us.  There is a bottle of moth balls with a shaker top and the lid is left open in the coop. one of  us tries to shake this on a regular basis, we spread ashes around the chicken run and coop. RACCOON'S  do not like to get ashes on their feet.  Saved my later crops of corn by applying ashes around the plants.  Both of our pest problems seems to be helped by the use of ashes.  We are quite lucky to have a wood stove and ashes to aid with a natural fix for our problems.  I have no idea if these fixes will work next year but they did this year and I feel as I learned something helpful.

Fall came and so did more of my strength.  Tomato hills are ready for next spring, dug with a bucket of manure in each hole to breakdown over the winter.  One corn row is dug down 12 inches filled with manure, edged with ashes. We have stopped because the rains have come and continue, our garden is now to wet to do any additional preparing.   Tunnel is filled with veggies, still learning about tunnel gardening and with the warmth this fall we are harvesting chard, spinach, salad greens and herbs.  There are row covers throughout the garden keeping plants warm.

The one thing 2015 ended with is excitement for our next year.  We are looking forward to a new season in the garden, applying  techniques learned in the past and looking new directions for the future.  We have a filled freezer, canning and dehydrated jars filled and lots of stored winter fruits.  We learned and applied what we learned to help make our little farm productive.  A year of my not having my strength may have one of the best seasons of my gardening life as I had time to study and learn new procedures about what we are trying to do. All I can say is we have been eating some delicious meals,  I know where it was grown and I know what was not applied to the plants.  I use nothing in my garden but the hand picking method of bad bugs from my plants.

Time to close this chapter on our little farm, Time to thank you for sharing our farm and most of all for caring.  Why in no time at all we shall be starting seeds and looking for eggs to hatch.  Spring will be on it's way, that is spring 2016.

Wishing each and everyone  a wonderful New Year!!!