Thursday, March 17, 2016

I Think March came in like a Lamb

March, comes in like a lamb or a loin and leaves us like the opposite.  This is a very scary thought.  On March 7th, the temperature was in the 70's and it will improve during the week to the 80's and all of you know there are bedding plants going into my garden.  There are, also, row covers lying on the ground close  by which can be put over the tender babies if there is a need.  The tunnel was opened so there was air flow through the tunnel.  I know it is much too early to think about taking the plastic off the tunnel as we normally do this in early May.

With the warm weather we did see progress, in fact so much progress, Mr. Bootsie and I finished our day knowing we both had worked a bit harder than we should.  I began my day making a hardy breakfast of hash browns with onions, scrambled eggs with ham, onions and peppers, sourdough biscuits and kiwi.  Next was laundry and off course, I hung the laundry on the line.  Mr. Bootsie felled  several small trees and cut to size for fire wood.  Off to the garden for me, I pulled more chickweed from the onions and gave the pasture crew a treat of chickweed.  Worked a bed and installed lettuce plants in the late afternoon.  By this time Mr. Bootsie had everything ready to split the fire wood so off I go to help him.  This will be left on the wagon overnight and unloaded when morning comes.  He came to the garden while I was installing the lettuce and dug one of the new squash hills on the outside of the tunnel.  Now to fill this with manure, compost, sand and some of the original soil, which was red clay, this will be waiting for squash plants when the season is a little warmer.  The temperature of the air is warm but the soil is not and I have not gotten in a number of our cool weather plants because I have been waiting for the soil to dry.

It is time for the baby chicks to move into the outside world, the warm temperature is heating up the coop. March 7, they made their first venture outside, they were not sure about leaving the coop.  I have a small little bamboo stick which I use as a chicken herding stick, I took the stick and encouraged the little chicks outside, I had already tried putting them out, one at a time and they were back in the coop before I was.  Finally, all were outside and not sure why they had to leave their safe place.  I do not close the door to the coop when training baby chicks about the outside world.  The next day, in the early afternoon, it was time, baby chicks came out of the coop and I let them run about in their new world for about 15 minutes, they had explored down the side of the chicken run and letting my older birds know they were free to run about while they were cooped up.  I walked down to the duck run and opened the gate about 6 inches, those curious little chicks made their way into the duck run.  Mission accomplished, the duck run is a safe place for the chickens as the ducks seem to stay away and let them scratch, peck and try to fly as much as they want.  Staying in the duck run until roosting time, it was easy to open the gate, herd them toward the coop, they made their way to the food bowl and they were back into their safe place tired, hungry and ready to settle down for the night.

Moles, I am so angry.  All of the fennel plants plants have been eaten at the surface.  I had 4 beautiful plants last fall, they were started from seed and doing great, I was expecting fennel harvests this year.  Now, I have to reorganize and plant the fennel in large pots.  I was hoping I could start direct planting but the mole population seems not to be going down.  They eat strawberries, kale, cabbage, chard and broccoli off at the surface.  I will continue my planting in pots and planting the pots in my garden.  Last year, I found out they ate the Jerusalem artichokes, I purchased just one pot of artichokes at a plant sale.  I put these in a large pot with bird netting in the bottom, this year I was able to harvest the chokes.  There are ups and downs to what I am doing, downs are the planting time, ups are the fact that all of the chokes are contained in the pot and I am able to harvest all of the chokes.  I had a wonderful choke patch at my previous home and I know how they spread, one little tiny piece and if it had an eye it would be a new plant.  Now this is taken care of.  I am learning how to deal with the moles, just extra work for me.

My farmer friend came by to share more artichoke sets and we made a few plans, there are more baby chicks being hatched, I will have those as she left with all of the roosters from the first hatching.  She will be taking my ducks who lay eggs but the shell is not strong.  The next day, ducks arrived and 12 baby chicks.

The next morning, there was a duck egg in the nest which was strong, baby chicks making that sweet quiet sound in the kitchen as they are much to small to be in the coop.  We have collected a good duck egg each morning and I know we made a good decision about the ducks.  Momma Duck has settled in with the new group of three and is now teaching them the ways on our farm.  The pullets are spending their days with the ducks and everyone is outside together, ducks, chickens and goats,  for about a hour each evening.  When we are putting our feathered friends to bed, almost every evening, we hear the sound of the Canada geese coming over as they leave the pond.  Just the other day, the sky was active, turkey buzzards, one hawk and lots of crows.  

Spring time on the farm, a busy time, we shall return and share what happens in the last days of March.  Lamb or Loin?  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

February Update

February, what a month this has been snow, rain, spring temperatures  snow and more rain.  The land is mud, you must be careful all the time.  With all the rain the coop run is slick and sliding down seems to be more than easy.  I have been moving leaves into the run to help with the moisture and protect myself from falling in the run.

The beginning of the month I could see the baby chicks have been growing, shortly they will have chicken feathers and be showing their true colors.  These babes are barnyard mixes, you are always in for a surprise when the flocks mingle together in the barnyard and this hatching is really exciting.

We did manage to get all 3 goats bred, we hope.  Reggie came over for a play afternoon on three different occasions and I think I read the goats correct.   We are counting off 150 days and hoping that we shall see


baby goats.  This will be Lacy's  and  Belle's second time being a mommie.   Lacy was bred January 28, Scoot, January 29, and Belle, February 19.  We are planning on being busy the last part of June and into July.  I will be milking and making goodies with the goat's milk.

The baby chickens are no longer baby chicks, they have their big bird feathers.  I was planning on moving them into the chicken coop about March 1 but they were getting big and I moved them February 22.  They adjusted to the move into the coop with no problems, I was concerned about them getting cold as the weather has been cold and warm, not sure how they would adjust to being in the cold air.  It never slowed them down.  At night time, I did cover the brooder with a blanket and they would get in the corner which was on the inside of the building.  Each morning I would hear their little voices as I came into the coop, I would find myself wondering if all made it through the night.  One little girl is much smaller than the others.  I found out one evening, before covering them for the night, they put the small chick in the corner on the floor of the brooder and they all get on top of her to keep her warm.

 I love the way Mother Nature takes care of her children.  All seven are growing, showing their true colors and making me think about what color eggs I will be gathering when they begin to lay.  This will be about a 5 month wait.

Lots of seeds are up and we are beginning to up pot.  I am also beginning to install my plants in the tunnel.  The spinach and kale in the tunnel over wintered and it is beautiful.  I know it is time for spring plantings and the fall plants will bolt and make seeds.  We will enjoy the winter plants as long as possible.

The land has been much too wet to begin working the soil, so I feel we are all ready behind.  I need to get new hills dug for my squash outside of the tunnel.  I want to keep lettuces and greens in the tunnel, where they will be protected from the sun by the squash plants.  I would like another great harvest of squash this year as the goats and chickens had lots of squash during the winter.  They are a natural worm preventative for the flocks.  We, also, enjoy having squash on our table so this is a wining crop for us.

As the year flies by, I am thinking of my garden and the wonderful harvest we shall have.  Everything seems to move so quickly this time of the year.  There is so much excitement on the farm.  New varieties of some of the same old crops, I will be making decisions on which variety will be planted in the future after the harvest.  I spent a lot of time in the seed books looking for what I thought would be good additions to our garden.  By harvest time I may know if I made the right decision.  We will be keeping a close eye on the goats to see the progress and await our little babies.  Yes, you know there is never a dull minute, how I enjoy our little farm.  Such a special place!!!