Friday, April 22, 2016

April, What a Loin this has Been

Cold, freezing temperatures, snow, Mother Nature I question what month we are in.  From the beginning of April there has been a drop in temperatures, we had to pull the cover and close the tunnel and replace all of the row covers.  I know I played the gamble, this spring, and now I am concerned about the weather.  As a child I was told the time to start installing our plants was May 15th, but things have moved back and our final frost date is placed around April 15th and I am ready to go.  Peppers, tomatoes, peas, squash and cucumbers are setting here ready to be put in the good earth.

The cold nights with low temperatures took a toll on the seedlings.  I put row covers over all of the seedlings in the greenhouse and this was not enough.  I lost a number of plants; however, I have enough left to plant my garden and a few to share.  I did save some seeds, for the first time, from the climbing spinach plants, they were in the greenhouse and very tender.  They were covered with row covers, with no damage.  These plants do not come up in the garden until June, so it is always a guessing game as to what can handle the cold and continue to grow.

The tunnel has produced this season, we have had more than our share of spinach, kale and chard.  The onions were first picked from the tunnel.  Now about growing more onions from the roots.  I tried this in the garden as I was harvesting spring onions.  Dug the onions, trimmed the roots to about one inch and cut the bulb about a half of an inch above the roots, replacing the onion to the where it was pulled from.  Now I have my row filled with little onions about 2 inches tall.  I was a gardener who had to see this work to believe it and now I am seeing it work in my garden.


The 12 youngest chicks are growing, the 4 from the January hatching are beautiful chicks, they are going to be very large birds.  As soon as the temperature improved and the little ones had their feathers they were relocated in the coop.  I am from the old school and do not use lights on my chickens.

Egg production has improved with warm weather, some of the girls, who hardly laid last year, are showing improvement this spring.  I have 10 layers and some days I collect 8 eggs, Momma duck is also laying once again, I do not know how long this will last but I am enjoying her eggs while I have them.  I have 2 other ducks who are laying, the switch out worked really well for me.  One of the 3 ducks, switched, turned out to be drake, he may stay or he may return to the farm he came from.  Right now the duck run is quite and peaceful, I need to keep the duck run that way as this is the first stop for my young chickens.  The ducks are so gentle and seem not to care when they are invaded by the chicks, Momma Duck comes to the chicken run every morning to check on her chicks she has helped to raise.  I do enjoy Momma Duck so much.  We are collecting 3 duck eggs most days.


I saw teats on my Belle, the next day Lacy, called the farmer and she stopped by.  The farmer just looked at the ladies and said they were expecting.  I know they are eating us out of barn and home.  They are eating chickweed along with the feathered friends, all of chard stems we are harvesting, apple peelings, winter squash, hay and grain.  Just to add something a little different they forage for about an hour a day.


The damage the cold did to our flowering bushes and trees is very noticeable.  I do think I have never seen so much damage in all of my years.  Blooms were set because of the warm spring very early on so many of my plants and now I am hoping the flowering bushes will recover.  The poplar trees took a real hit and I am concerned for the fruit industry in our area.  My berry bushes are loaded with vegetation so I am hoping for a good harvest of black berries and raspberries.  Each year is a challenge, I learn something each season and try to have it help me with the next year.  I may have learned, this year, planting by the moon and the late cold snaps not to start my seedlings quite so early.  Only time will tell with this thought as I just need to see those little plants popping from the soil.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

March Has Been a Lamb

As I sit here on March 31, wondering how this month will end.  Checking the weather report, there is rain and wind.  I do believe March over all has been a lamb of a month and you will not hear me complain about the outside conditions.

In real time, right now, the back door opens.  I hear someone coming upstairs, there is a voice, Mr. Bootsie. He is saying, "You were right, she is gone."  Off went the computer, I made my way down the stairs.  One of my babies, One who has lived with us for the last 8 years, went to chickie-bird heaven today.  She now has a final resting place in the garden.  There she is with other chickens who have lived on our farm.  The chicken journey began 8 years ago and some of my older girls are just getting tired,  They have had a good life as there is no concern about hawks and wild animals getting into the run or coop.  We try not to run out of food for them.  I chose this responsibility and have made it my mission to take care of my girls.  We are so grateful for the 4 little girls who are now 2 and 1/2 months old.  They have a place on the farm, but most of all  they have a place in my heart.  They made the adjustment from baby chicks to pullets so quickly.  They are in the hen house on the roosting poles at nighttime and in the run during the day.  This was the easiest time I have ever had introducing the chicks to the older girls.  Oh, they get chased a little but the little ones know how to get away.

 Rest in Peace Sweet Girl
Baby chicks are growing and I will moving them into the brooder as soon as the weather improves.  Two lows next week and I am hoping it will be time to move the chicks to the coop.  They will be able to spent the day in the duck yard and be outside, weather permitting.  I think I have learned a lot from watching a mother hen raise her babies, making notes and following her methods.  Yes, I said I learned from a hen, it was quite a lesson in how raise chickens.

I pushed the garden and there are chances of frost or freezing we continue to have covering in place if we need to use it.  Garden is producing onions, spinach and kale.  With the temperatures being so warm, the plants in the garden are growing.  As I wait for the next low on next Wednesday I decided to stop setting out plants.  There were wild violet blossoms picked to make jelly.  More blackberries removed from the freezer to make wine.  I may need to fill a couple of gallon jugs with water to go into the bottom of the freezer, I do this to keep the freezer filled to the top.

The goats seem to be getting along great.  They, so much, want to get outside and graze.  I want to start looking for mushrooms,  I think we can work together, goats walk and graze while Momma walks and searches for srooms.  We are learning about mushrooms, far from an expert.  Just fun for me to have one more reason to spend time in the woods.

I think March was good to us.  A lot of the garden is planted and up.  A number of transplants are waiting for the weather to say okay, it is time for you to go into the soil.  Flowers are blooming the red bud tree is loaded with blooms. Babies are growing all of this makes for happy, happy farmers.