Thursday, March 23, 2017

Things are starting to grow already...

Steve, after building the potato bins...

More scratches... that rabbit fencing is dangerous...

It's been warm enough during the days that I decided to see how the strawberry plants were doing.  There was still some moisture beading up on the underside of the plastic, so I knew they hadn't dried out.

Surprised by more than one plant peeking through.  The plants had been cut to the ground last Fall, so I can't wait to see how far along they are in a few days. I guess they are ready and raring to go.  I'm waiting until it's a bit warmer at night before clearing the straw away.  

I added a bit of water underneath the straw so it's not wet and no mildew starts.  They'll get sprinkled with snow tonight too, so didn't want too much water on the straw.  Truth be told, there's more than a chance that mildew is already under the straw as it happened last year.  

The girls are still getting the sprouted wheat grass daily as nothing is growing around the garden that they can get themselves.   They are also getting cabbage this week.

We really need to get started on putting the tulle on the hoops.  We let that slide long enough.  I have plenty of cool season plants that are overflowing the sprouting table.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring 2017 has arrived... YEA!....

Spring has sprung and the homestead has woken up.  We're averaging 78-80 degrees lately, but do have a chance of rain on Wednesday.  Buds on the aspen trees and the blueberry plants are swollen.  Been watering them to get them refreshed and ready to open.  

The blueberries have received their first dose of acidic fertilizer and I'm scrounging-up more dead pine needles to mulch them with.  I've got to read-up on pruning them.  I believe it's in Fall, but they've got some crossing and dead branches inside the plants that look in need of help.

I'm going to have to buy mulch and manure for the garden beds this year. We just didn't produce enough compost for all of them.  Over the weekend it was time to fix the slow leak of compost out of the pile, which the chickens were responsible for.

The large holes in the range fence made it easy for the hens to chuck compost through it and even that miniscule amount was irritating to me.  Steve cut leftover rabbit fencing to line the back fence.  

He's doing a final fitting here.  We dug a furrow along the back and the piece was set and wired into place.

While doing the work, he became very interesting to the girls who became a nuisance to work around.  

After we were done they couldn't wait to get in there and try out throwing dirt around.  The new barrier did a pretty good job, too.  The furrow was checked out intensely.  I guess they thought there was something edible down there. Maybe they were correct?

Today, Steve started working on new potato bins for the garden.  They are going to be slightly smaller in diameter and in two parts, so I can reach inside to plant.  Then we'll make an add-on hoops that can be attached to add more dirt when the plants get higher.  

I'm doing away with the straw lining like before.  A waste of straw and messy. I'm thinking of an outside barrier of plastic sheeting or bubble wrap that can be reused many years.  Just unwrap the bins and remove hoops to harvest. 

I guess Fall will prove it a good idea... or not...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day...(almost)

Hope everyone is in for some celebrating on the holiday tomorrow.  I've found it's always fun to be Irish, especially on that day.  Don't over-do it....

Got our DNA results in and we have discovered a few interesting traits...


... like where did all MY maternal German go?  We seem to have come from Mennonites who probably immigrated from Scandinavia to Western Russia, then down through Germany.  I see where that might've happened.  Some of my mom's relatives have traced her line back to 800 AD Greece.  The ancestors then came to America and my line mostly settled in Pennsylvania and Missouri.

I knew about my paternal Irish/Scandinavian heritage, but it was very interesting to see the percentage.  My line did spend time in France, so the Iberian Peninsula fits in, too.   I've still got some research to do to figure out where the Middle Eastern (yes, less than 1%) link comes in.


Steve's line was probably the bigger surprise.  He has a strong German last name and, it seems, barely any German in him.  Four percent seemed very small to us.  His grandparents on the maternal side were almost totally Scandinavian so that line makes perfect sense there.  I'll be teasing him about that <1% Irish.  Now, the Spanish/French connection will need researching. 

All in all, good Christmas presents from each of us, to the other.

This last week has been warm and it was time to open up the coop.  I'm still not forgetting that we get cold surprises through April, so I've just rolled up the tarps and bungeed them out of the way until I'm sure Spring is here.  I'll leave the window insulation up as the nights are still cold.  The girls are out most for most the day now and are laying eggs much earlier. 

While checking the garden I found that the bee house finally dried out enough to crack and fall.  There weren't any bees, or evidence of bees, in it so that was a waste of money.  I guess all the bees up here have a home already and didn't need an extra one.  

Still, wish I could help them more.  The destruction of bee colonies is a bad thing for everyone who eats.  I'm planning on scattering wildflower seeds around the property this year and hope that some will actually grow.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Water-walls of wonder...

This group of hens are doing something I don't remember the last group being able to do.  They can TELL TIME....

This picture was taken as I just snuck my arm out the side door at 4:15 PM. They are lined up for their nighttime snack.  I was late in going out as it's starting to stay light for an hour longer than it has.  I guess they all checked their watches and there they were.  They've proven themselves not the smartest chickens in the world, but telling time has moved them up my scale.

It's been so warm that I decided to check on the Douglas Fir tree-lings.  Took the hose out to fill the walls and see how the babes had survived the winter. The water walls are not frozen now so they are sagging.  I've got another order in for water walls as the cold temps destroyed most of them.

This little tree was the dead one last Fall.  It's not dead anymore.  It's put out another limb that is green. So surprising that it's making another go at life.

I'm going to keep the walls up as they give the seedlings protection against hurricane Ziva and her feet of thunder.  She seems to avoid running into the trees so I must keep them there, at least until they are taller and stronger.

A few of them have shot up over their containment barriers.  Three are really tall.  So, it looks like 10 out of 10 seedlings made it through the Winter.

That made me very happy as...

... the mail today brought my new Blue Spruce seedlings.  I've learned what worked last year for getting seedlings to make it, so they will sit in the refrigerator until May.

We'll see how they do then... 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

It's a hairy situation...

There was this lady at work (she's since retired, too) and I was envious of her hair.  Long and thick; everything mine wasn't.  Wasn't I say, because I suddenly have long and thick hair.  The secret was... going gray.  Who knew! 

Used to be I couldn't get a barrett to stay in; not even a rubber-band. Now, long and thick.  So long and thick that I start to hate it being in the way and finally chop it off.  I guess we always want what we don't have.

She moved up here to the mountains, also, and I'm wondering what she's going to plant... or not plant.  She probably needs some down time before deciding. Heard her husband planted fruit trees so I may go over for lessons.

This is how exciting Ziva thinks everything is around here.  I was out checking on the chickens and the blueberry bed and turned around to see her snoozing in the sun.  I can't blame her as it was 72 degrees (wow) and nice out.  It has dried-out in the garden and the hens dug dust baths and they were snoozing, too.

My acorn squash have filled their planting tray so they are being moved into cups to get bigger.  Probably time to get the watermelon seeds into dirt.

Still not having much luck with the broccoli seeds.  Four sickly-looking sprouts came up out of the ten seeds.  I'd love to just plant seeds in the garden and let them grow that way, but the season isn't long enough.  Still, I may just try it anyway. 

The growing light station is filling up quickly and I hope I don't run out of room. It seems to be in the perfect place and the seeds/plants are getting plenty of daytime sun and grow-lit nights.  Thinking that the living room is finally being used to it's full potential.

Last night I dug through the jars in the pantry and decided I should use up some pasta sauce.  I canned this 2 years ago and keep forgetting about it. Decided on chicken parmesan.  

It turned out rather well.  Steve said to make it again, so that's a win.  I noticed a lot of zucchini still in jars so now I think I'll thaw a chuck roast for stew and add some in... and maybe a jar of green beans...

... the life of a farmer... as exciting as all get out...

Monday, March 6, 2017

March, in like a lion... out like a ?......

That lion has definitely shown up.  Winds are hitting howling levels and it's something to hear while sitting inside the house.  So strong that Steve can't keep the ladder up at the dish.  Strange, but at night it gives me a secure feeling.  The winds howl but I feel even safer and cozier inside, while wrapped in my furry sheets. Yeah, I know... strange.  

Wondering what'll show for the end of the month... lamb?... ram?... sheep?... mutton?........ crazed dragon?  I'd prefer something calm and sweet.

... picked up the 5 ton again.  Here it's leaving it's prison...

... and the final turn to home...

Saturday, Steve heard crunching in the living room (the repository for everything that came out of the old pantry) and found Ziva munching on an acorn squash.   Never thought she'd just eat one so I was remiss in getting them off the floor sooner.  Everything I think remotely edible has been moved. May work, or not, as her list of what she considers edible is definitely different than mine.

Rain subsided over the weekend so the girls were out more.  I did get around to cooking a few more of the squash left from summer and I've worked some into their treats.  I've quit sprouting barley seed as it seems to go slimy, unlike the wheatgrass, so they're getting barley seeds in the bowls, too. Copper was trying to eat my shoe here, but otherwise they seem happy with their grub.

The rest of the skins and other compostable materials were worked into the compost pile and the girls happily spent their warmer days digging up a storm.

Today's task was soaking green bean seeds and planting tomato seeds.  To-morrow I will plant a few more Brussel's Sprouts as the last bunch did not come up.  I may try the "pre-sprouting seed" method to check on the "sproutability" of last years seeds.  I'm ready to try anything at this point.

Plants will go out, on-or-about, May 1st.  With our short growing season they'll need all the time they can get.  Now, they just need to HURRY UP AND SPROUT. I don't have all the time in the world...

... well, growing-wise.  Being retired I do have all the time in the world for other stuff, just NOT this... Ha!