Garden planning takes place in the dead of winter,
so my ordering may have gone overboard as I longed for spring.
In no time, I filled the 30ft x 40ft plot Dave prepared for me and had quite a few seeds left over.
We also wanted space to grow lots of pumpkins for the pigs, so we had a 650ft x 6ft strip tilled along the top edge of one of our pastures.
Today we planted it.
Dave used the tiller to help in some spots and got out his seeder for the carrots and beans.
The kids picked up a load of rocks,
and stopped to peek in the bird house they made a couple of years ago.
In the strip we planted
corn–pop and sweet
beans–KY Wonder and Blue Lake
cucumbers–pickling and gherkin
flowers–chrysanthemums, zinnias, calendula
Tomorrow we finish up with about 200ft of pumpkins.
Friday night the Rainbows brought Iris and Thomas to the farm for a quick visit.
Thomas is an environmental historian completing his dissertation in history at NYU this year. The name of his dissertation? “Three Little Pigs: Development, Pollution, and the ‘Greening’ of East Germany, 1970-1989”
He and Iris jumped right in to the farm life and were delightful to have.
Iris got to do a bit of shepherding escaped sheep and hog whispering
and Thomas got his hands dirty moving pigs and installing whey lines.
The kids, of course, found plenty to delight them.
Such a fun weekend. Come again!
Up until this year, we have depended on a local auction for laying hens.
We decided to be purposeful about what we wanted and order them as chicks.
AJ was thrilled to receive the call from the post office that our chicks were ready for pickup.
He immediately ran to the coop he and Dave prepared yesterday, removed the door, switched on the heat lights and filled the water jars.
When he returned from the post office, he was beaming.
3 Turkens (Naked Necks)
3 Rhode Island Reds
3 Buff Rocks
12 Black Australorps
AJ is the chicken man.
He has taken on the responsibility of caring for these birds and will receive payment for each one that reaches laying age.
He’s one proud boy today.
In August, we eagerly look for the elderberries to ripen.
If we are quick, we can harvest before the birds.
I made more than a gallon of Elderberry Syrup from last summer’s crop and gave some of it as gifts. When we are running low on this tonic I go to my freezer for another 1/2 lb of berries and cook up a batch.
When my kids came down with fevers recently, I knew it was time to make some more.
Here’s to the end of flu season!
Some of our pigs go off to a USDA inspected facility to be butchered, and this past week we sent four away. Our regular butcher slaughters on farm, so we don’t usually need to bother with transporting pigs. When we do, we like to have the process go as smoothly as possible.
After several (not so) humorous and time-consuming loads, Dave built a loading system that seems too easy now. He brings the trailer into position and lifts the ramp into the side door.
With a bucket of grain, we lure the chosen, and a few others, into a holding pen where we run them through a chute with a sorting gate we can open or close, depending on whether or not the right pig is coming up.
Once the pig is through the gate, Dave comes behind with a simple panel to block the pig from retreating.
The pig walks up the ramp and into the trailer
where he finds a hinged door that opens in front and closes behind and a bit of grain to munch while the rest are loaded.
Like all the other old homes in the area, our place has an old apple orchard.
I am surprised our trees produce fruit since they have hollow cores. How many generations of the previous owners enjoyed apples from these trees I can only guess.
While I like apples, I want to expand our fruit options.
We received some babies in the mail this week.
The kids were enthusiastic at first.
AJ stuck with it.
We now have
two Cherry trees,
and three Kiwis.
Maybe by my 4oth birthday, we’ll be harvesting fruit!
Around the farm we have a nice variety of fowl. Let me introduce a few to you.
Smack is our only remaining duck.
I’m afraid the coyotes carried off the rest of his family. He sticks around and beautifies the place, but he is lonely for a lady. I may try to pick up one at an auction for him.
Our guineas are funny little things. Noisy, too. Have you ever heard them chattering together? They are a flighty group, but always stick together.
We have far fewer bugs because of them, and we always know when something is out of the ordinary. Last summer when we had turkeys who strayed out of the field up to our house, it was the guineas’ tattling that alerted us to the danger.
The big turks didn’t understand the dangers of our 55mph road, so we needed to walk them back to safety.
Wild Woman was one of our first chickens here. We thought she wouldn’t last long or be much use because she was small and wild, but it turns out she is our favorite.
Not only is she a good layer, but she is broody at the right times and has produced three clutches of chicks.
Right now, she is teaching her newest clutch where to get the best food.
Peck Wilcocks is her son and rooster to his mother and two sisters. He is also father and uncle to the new batch of chicks.
His father was a Buff Orpington who did not take the 55mph road seriously and got stewed for his mistake.
We needed more layers, so we picked up some sex linked hens last fall. They have produced eggs well this Spring and follow their own rooster who came to us through another auction last summer.
The two roosters compete in the morning to see who gets to wake up the rest of the farm. Wilcocks roosts in a tree by the house while his competitor roosts behind the house in the coop. They start in every morning around 4am. They respect each other and their altercations have never led to blows.
All the birds enjoy sharing the pigs’ grain.
Hope you enjoyed meeting these fowl.
Next week we are hoping to get in our batch of meat chicks and some layer chicks too.