Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reflections of Spring/Summer 2017

For some reason this growing season has been difficult for me.  The early spring, all was going well, a lot of the garden was installed and growing.  We had super early tomatoes, I was picking tomatoes before the end of June which is quite good here in central Virginia.  Some were heirloom and of course, the grape and cherry tomatoes were producing.  Our garlic harvest was huge, we grew enough to plant the fall garden, dehydrate, ferment, have plenty to cook  and lots for the goats to eat as snacks.  The onions were plentiful and tasty. The early corn was planted and growing, 

Squash, yellow and zucchini, were producing and for the first season we had squash until early October when the nighttime temperature was too cold for them to grow.  The other squash, Italian, did not do as well as before,  I think a small garden is catching up with me.  I do remove most of the soil and replace with new compost hoping to confuse the plants and they think they are the first squash planted in the space but this year I did not get the harvest I would have liked to have.

Blackberries, we had a wonderful harvest, lots of wine and brandy was made, enough to make the winter.  Raspberries, the fall crop was good.  Strawberries, we continue to struggle with the voles enjoying our plants but I am working on a change in the way I plant.

Time to plant the second crop of corn and seeds would not come up.  I fed, watered, mulched, complained and there were not any sprouts coming from the ground.  I had planted the bloody butcher corn and it was coming up without any problems.  Sweet corn just would not sprout, I sprouted some and planted, within 24 hours it was gone.  After 3 weeks I accepted defeat and moved in other directions.

I have always gardened for food storage, but this year I made a change and gardened to have veggies for the summer.  This is the first year I did not put up a lot of our veggies, but we have been eating good, delicious meals.   Mr. Bootsie has never eaten onion or tomato sandwiches and this summer he learned just how delicious these sandwiches are.  I know for years he has wanted to have my brain checked because I ate so many of these sandwiches, but he is eating them and asking for them as I was a bit concerned he would stop wanting these goodies if I fixed them too often.

I found new ways to celebrate fresh veggies, squash with eggs, new additions to pizzas, vegetables with pasta and salads of every variety.  While I was on a mission to enjoy every veggie which came from the garden, it hit.  Temperatures in excess of 90 degrees, the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants quit, not a bloom would set.  No blooms means no veggies and my harvest was going to drop off.  I went from plenty of veggies to almost nothing in the middle of the summer.  The city folk, who came for a visit, would ask why don't you have veggies?  My answer was just to hot.  This hot lasted from quite a while, there was a short break for a couple of days, the temperature went in the low 80's and some blooms were able to set.  This did give us a few late tomatoes and peppers. After the heat, in September we went for a long dry spell.  The squash plants I was able to water and when the temperature did break I was able to harvest my first ever summer squash in September.  I was so excited about the squash I forgot about the loss of peppers, tomatoes, butter beans, late snaps and of course, corn. 

The garden has veggies which our goats, chickens and ducks enjoy.  Most anything we could not use was consumed by the pasture crew.  Corn is loved by the goats and chickens, while the ducks seem to enjoy the lettuce and other greens most of all. 

The gamble begins in the spring when the seeds and baby plants go into the garden beds.  There is always a I wonder, wonder, wonder what will happen this season.  I really can't complain because we had a wonderful garden, ate so many delicious veggies and learned many ways to use the crops we grow.  I know I won the gamble, because now Mr. Bootsie is eating my favorite sandwiches, just for  his enjoying tomatoes and onion sandwiches this summer was a win, win on our little farm.

Last tomato was picked October 31, 2017
What a wonderful year!!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Polish Chicks, A Lesson Learned

This has been a busy spring, Little Gray became broody and nothing but set her.  I found some eggs from a farming friend over in Bumpass as you know everyone is using all their eggs in the spring for their own hatching so I was pleased to find some eggs.  We set Little Gray and like clockwork she had 3 little baby chicks in her nest.  There were more eggs but they did not hatch.  Little Gray seemed pleased just to have baby chicks.  She was such a good momma hen.  I had no idea as to what chicks I should expect but I knew this farmer raised Polish chicks.  All of a sudden there were things on their heads and they looked as if they were frightened to death.  Momma hen deserted the nest, she wanted nothing to do with these misfits on our farm.  The weather was warm and the little chicks were doing good without any help from an adult hen so all was well.

I felt the other hens thought something was not quite the way it should be and they really were extra mean to momma hen.  No one would roost with her, this continues.  She has been accepted back into the flock during the day, nighttime she goes to her roosting pole by herself, there has been a few times when someone would try to roost with her but it did not last very long.  Before broody she roosted with 4 other hens every night, they do not even look in her direction any more.  Someday I will understand (or maybe not) how the mind of chicken works.

All is well as the little Polish with their big heads spend the day with the ducks in the duck run.  The little Polish are workers as they are busy turning the compost everyday.  They come out to free-range once a day with all the other girls.  I have to watch close as the girls are always trying to pluck the head feathers.  I did learn I needed to trim their feathers so they could see.  This was an experience for me.  Mr. Bootsie was afraid they may bleed to death if I cut the feathers.  The first time, I cut a couple of feathers from one chick, the next morning everything seemed to be going as normal and Mr. Bootsie settled down,  helping to hold the chicks so I could trim their feathers.

There was total unrest in the duck and chicken run after a few days.  The little rooster came into his own and he thought he could pick on just about anyone,   Momma Duck was not going to have anything to do with this little bird flying up into her face and quickly he was not welcome in the duck run.  We had something happen to one of our ducks and she passed away, at this point in time I was concerned as to what had happened to her.  When I put them in for the night she was a little slow and by morning she had given up her life.  I knew, with this happening, there was nothing I could do but keep these birds and my farm on lock-down for 2 weeks but I did 3 weeks.

I was going to return the little birds to the farmer who had shared the eggs with me but I did not want to take any thing to her farm which would be a problem.  When I shared what had happened she was more concerned for the loss of my duck.  After 3 weeks I made arrangements with the farmer and took the chicks to their new home.

I learned from studying the Polish chicks have an open skull and it is not good for the feathers to be plucked.  I really feel I made a mistake adding these little ones to our flock.

In a few weeks Little Gray became broody again and has continued to set on the nest for about 8 weeks,  Somehow, some way she has the other hens laying eggs in the nest for her.  Mr. Bootsie takes her off the nest and steals the eggs but the strong-willed little hen will not give up.

The eggs from our girls will not hatch as there is not a rooster on our farm.  Farm life in the coop has always been interesting and I must say this experience has taught me many a lesson.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring, 2017, has Arrived

During the winter there seems to be nothing happening on our little farm, but now as I look over the past few months we have been busy.  There are about 100 assorted seedlings ready to be planted in the garden.  The wood racks appear to have a lot less wood stored in them as we burned the wood stove all winter.  No one has loss any weigh as we cooked many a good meal and lived off the rewards of our hard work last summer.  All of the animals lived through the winter and now we await baby chicks on the 22nd of April.   We were busy but I just could not find things I felt interesting to share.  It was the day to day things, doing laundry, cleaning, running errands, that kept us busy.

I started the bulk of my seeds January 15th when the wood stove worked as my heat source and as the hot bed for my seeds  to develop into little plants.  I planted some of my standards, added a couple of new things and even a few flowers to bring in more bees and butterflies.  I have been checking for life in the garden, the artichokes are coming up, globe and Jerusalem, comfrey, rhubarb and garlic chives.

In the garden, we are seeing many signs of the moles, they just ate a hill of walking onions.  I did my chives in pots in the tunnel because the moles ate most of my plants during the summer.  I started new seeds, put in large pots and they are safe from the mole.

I am sorry to say my camera became sick during the winter, I plan to take it to the doctor to see if it can be repaired or if I must replace it.  I just have not been in the direction of the stores who might fix it, in our area there are not any  close tech stores.  It is on my list.  I did have to replace my wifi and it was a process finding the place in our home where it would function.  I did locate a special place and now I have real good access to internet (maybe the best ever!!!.  I will be posting pictures with my blogs and if you feel you have seen them before you may be right.  I will be using my pictures from old albums.

I was so pleased to see there are so many faithful friends and neighbors who follow my blog.  Even when I do not post, there are ones who read it.  I did find myself going in and checking on some information from past times.  As I become busy with the spring, I do want to keep my journal on Facebook and here.  With the blog it is an overview, Facebook is a little bit more of the day to day operations of our little farm.

Since I began this blog, I find I am the only remaining member of my family from growing up, as my parents and  siblings have passed away.  I will from time-to-time post a blog of reflections as I find myself going back to my parents home as we become more embedded into the rural way of life.  I am seeing the results of 11 years of work in the vegetable garden and I will be sharing the garden with you during the summer.  The goat barn is down to 3, the chicken coop is home to 17 and 3 ducks live in there run with a pool.

Eggs, yes, we are collecting eggs, hen and duck.  Our life is good just like the abundance of eggs we are now collecting.  Many thanks to all of you who take a few minutes to read about our life here on Triple Creek Farm.

The winter garden has produced, Harvesting spinach, swiss chard and onions.  Along with our eggs we have enjoyed spinach salads omelettes and quiche.  I also make spaghetti adding spinach and/or chard.  We were able to have fresh garden grown veggies most of the winter.

Fire in the outside fireplace, a cup of hot tea awaits me and a brownie.  There is plenty for you to share with us, stop by, visit our little farm and share a brownie.  Until....