A gardener and general outdoor enthusiast in New Jersey gave us a box of garlic bulbils he collected from his patch.
So Dave tilled a strip six feet wide by 80 feet a few weeks ago, and Harry and I planted at least a thousand bulbils.
We knew a storm was on the way, and we were just able to get the bed covered in mulch before the blanket of snow.
We welcomed it with a bit of slipping and sliding on the icy pond.
…to the greenhouse. Last week, we put the finishing touches on the pigs’ winter quarters.
We spread hay in their yard,
installed gates and whey troughs,
put up chicken roosts
and nest boxes.
Persuading the pigs to walk up the hill to the new yard took some effort, but they are happy to be inside,
and enjoying the convenience of whey right outside their front door.
We are happy to announce the beginning of our own beef herd with our first purchase of two Angus heifers.
A heifer is a female bovine who has not yet given birth to a calf.
The two heifers have been bred to this bull, and we are looking forward to meeting their calves in August of 2014.
Meet Professor Sprout
Two steers–castrated males–joined us this spring.
Darth is Angus
and Chewy is a cross between a Belted Galloway and an Angus.
We have, of course, already been raising dairy bull calves that we have gotten from the dairies around us.
The two we brought home last winter will be with us for another year.
Han Solo is a Brown Swiss
and Boba Fett is a Holstein.
So far this season we have only purchased one dairy calf–another Brown Swiss named Dumbledore.
As you have probably guessed, the kids get to name most of the animals.
The flurry of harvesting is nearly over.
The garden has browned and crumpled,
the winter kale has stopped growing,
and the tail end of the harvest is in the kitchen waiting to be put away.
The last of the apples are landing in baskets
and boxes, and pies, and crisps, and sauce, and jelly and dehydrated slices.
The pantry is full.
We are ready for the season of stews and slow roasts, warm bread and pies.
Not long after Dave pulled into a produce wholesaler to pick up our weekly load of mushy produce, a man approached offering a tractor trailer load of veggies. The trucker’s reefer had malfunctioned on his trip up from Georgia and his whole load had been frozen: he needed to find a place to dump it.
He arrived at our place around 8:00pm that night. With our backhoe and some chains, we pulled off each pallet, stacked high with boxes of veggies. It wasn’t that simple, of course. It took close to three hours.
The next morning, this is the scene that greeted us.
And it took all morning to dump,
break down and stack up each box.
We took a break to inspect the temperature log we found.
It showed that the trailer dipped down to 23 degrees F just hours after loading.
In the end, we had an impressive pile.
It would be a waste of time and energy to get it to the pigs way out in the pasture,
so we decided to build a lane and lure the pigs up to their winter quarters for the feast.
It proved to be much easier to scoop and dump here.
We anticipate they will have access to this place for two weeks
while they gorge themselves.
During that evening of work when the trucker and his wife helped us to unload the hundreds of boxes, we found tucked away at the very front a pallet stacked high with boxes of watermelon. We headed straight for the kitchen to get a knife and together broke open the delicious melon. The next morning we enjoyed another one. And the next.
Well, wouldn’t you?
The 6 foot wide strip garden we put in this summer is about finished producing.
We have some late tomatoes still coming on, the popcorn and sunflowers are drying on their stalks, and the coriander seeds are maturing.
This past week a chicken got run over on the road. The considerate man got out of his dump truck to tell us about it. Turns out he was removing manure from a neighbor’s winter cow barn.
We ended up getting three loads of very rich dirt to spread over the garden.
We have also been harvesting buckets and buckets of apples.
In our side yard and in the hedgerows between the fields, we have many apple trees.
So plentiful is the harvest
that not only have we put up applesauce, apples and dehydrated slices for ourselves,
we have gathered many pounds of them to share with our pigs.
The kids have enjoyed playing in the fields while we pick.
The gardens are flourishing,
and we have been enjoying the bounty.
I haven’t harvested enough to begin any large scale canning,
but the tomatoes are just starting to turn red. If we get a few more warm days, I’ll be making sauce soon.
We have harvested enough to fill our plates and put a few cans of fermented goodness away.
A pepper relish.
A corn treat.
Loads of pickles.
Carrots and Pole Beans.
And we’ve been experimenting with jams and jellies.
We picked 50 pounds of blueberries at
and our crab apple trees are loaded.
Blueberry with balsamic vinegar and black pepper,
blueberry with cinnamon and amaretto,
crab apple with brandy and
crab apple with cinnamon and whiskey.
I am growing calendula flowers and recently made calendula oil.
Dave has been processing apples by the 5 gallon bucket.
We packed away a dozen apple crisps into the freezer,
and he has begun dehydrating the slices now.
Making use of these cool sunny days lately,
Dave has been building fences.
The pigs have plowed through more pasture than ever,
so we are expanding.
Dave cleared a strip 40 feet wide through a section of trees
and rented a post hole pounder to put in 12 posts,
stringing three wires two thirds of the way across our property.
Every 50 feet he added a supporting post.
For now, the wires measure 6, 12 and 18 inches high,
but we can easily add more as our use of the pastures
expand to fit the needs of our beef herd.
Of course it is never so straightforward as we hope.
During the process, our truck
lost its ability to shift into reverse,
making for some creative maneuvering with the help of the backhoe.
The kids aren’t fazed by the inconvenience
and find plenty to occupy themselves.