Sunday, April 27, 2014

This week on the Farm...

JoAn and Elizabeth were a big help with the shoveling

This week my dear brother delivered us a nice load of aged horse manure.  Now if you don't live on a farm, that may not impress you.  It made me ecstatic!  He even delivered it!  I need bunches of it to set up my garden beds.  It is a start from scratch process for us here.  One of the neighbors did say that the last owner had her gardens over in the side yard, but that was years ago!  A big shout out of thanks to my best bro!  (And if you are inclined to bring more, I won't say no!)

The chickens were so excited about the manure also.  It is loaded with worms and they treated it like a fat man at an Old Country Buffet!

We loaded up the manure into a garden cart and pulled it with the ATV.  The hens wanted to go for a ride, not, it only looks like that.  They were actually just going through the manure that we had shoveled into the cart.

On the gardening front... I did get my shallots planted.  We had the two boxes from the old house's gardens.  I filled them with the manure and then I sprinkled them with ashes.  That is what the planting instructions on-line said to do.  It keeps away worms and whatever else wrecks shallots. We love shallots.  Using them allows us to feel like real chefs.  I heard one old saw say that the difference between an excellent home cook and a restaurant chef? Shallots.

I have been reading and studying the book, 'Gaia's Garden' by Toby Hemenway.  It is such a practical book on home-scale permaculture.  I have followed his directions in setting up my beds.  It is a no-till philosophy.  I am trying to set things up on the farm that we ( My DH and I) will be able to maintain for at least the next 20 years.  We need to be able to do it even when the kids are not at home anymore.
The first step is to figure out the size of the beds you need.  They say to figure 25 sq ft per person.  That meant that we need about 200 sq ft.  The first thing you do is put down cardboard where you want the garden to prevent weeds growing up through it.  Then you soak the cardboard with water.  We are blessed to have all our hose water to be pumped directly out of our spring fed pond. Gives a little nutritional boost, but you definitely don't want to drink out of the hose!!!

This is what it looked like when it was finished.  Michelle thinks it looks like a grave for a super thin giant.  Anyways,  we put down a layer of manure ( Harvested from our chicken coop) about 2" thick.  Then we put old  hay from the barn on top in a layer about 4-6" thick.  You soak all that with water and then cover the top with an inch or so of top soil or in our case, aged horse manure.  We then seeded it with lots of different varieties of lettuce, radishes, beets, turnips, chard, spinach.  The idea is to pull the plant when you harvest it and then plant something else in it's place.  We still need to add some herbs in to it.  Later in the summer, we will put in our beans, broccoli, and other plants we have started.  If this works, it will definitely be the way to go.  Really simple and you don't have to till.  Each year you work some more manure into it and at the end of the year you bring in your 'chicken tillers' and let them clean out the weeds and fertilize.  Those birds need to earn their keep!

Someone gifted me some blueberry bushes.  I planted them right by the pine trees, on the south side.  That way they get to enjoy the acid soil and they still get sunshine.

One part of living on a property for the first year is that you get to discover what the previous owner had planted.  A lot of the spring flowers had overgrown too closely and so aren't flowering.  We will have to divide the bulbs so that we get more flowers next spring.

You never know where you will find a chicken hiding when you walk around the farm.  That will change soon as, buying fences, is on my to-do list for this week. I can't have them cleaning out the garden!

This is the start of my hugelkulture bed.  Potatoes are supposed to do well in this kind of bed.  We shall see.  I want to get them in the ground soon.  They arrived in the mail a couple weeks ago and sitting is not making them healthier, even if where they are is cool.

The chicks continue to get bigger.  The boss has been so busy working that he has not gotten to the mobile chicken coop.  We need to get it done soon so these guys can get outside.

The black Jersey Giants look like crows in amongst the pretty hens.

 This week I got my real farm boots.  They fit well and are so much better for going through the muck.  This is going to save my shoes a lot of wear and tear! I needed something with good support for my feet and these do the job well.  Now I really look like a farmer when I am out in the barn!

The sadness in the back field was that something got the Killdeer's nest.  They broke and removed one of the eggs, and the parents have moved on.

It has been a good week on the farm and we are really enjoying the spring weather!  I trust it is nice where you are too!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter at the Mango's

T-Bob, Thomas, and Ian fixing their dinner plates
Don and Kathy

 We had friends over for dinner.  Always nice to share a meal.

My Dinner Plate
We had a lovely meal.  There was roast beef, ham and cherry sauce, potato casserole, roasted asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, spinach salad with fresh strawberries and almonds.  It was all so yummy!!!

Daffodils are my favorite flowers!  
Last year, there were daffodils in bloom on the first day of spring.  This year they didn't start blooming until last week.

 Sadie and Isaac played with Elizabeth on the front porch.  Sadie loves to play 'babies' and house to the exclusion of everything else.  Elizabeth is looking forward to when she likes to play other things.

Levi, loves fishing!  He spent a lot of the afternoon wetting his line at the pond.

The big kids played kickball with Uncle Dodger/Dad.  Isaac played with Dallas in the middle of the field.  It is so nice to have a big grassy field to play games on.

Paul, went looking for worms to give the fishermen a hand.  

Dad spent the afternoon wearing his Easter clothes and his boots to do his fishing in.  He had a fun afternoon.  We need to clean out some of the fish in our pond so that there is room for the little ones to grow up.  We will do some serious fishing when it is time to plant our corn.  Going to do it Native American style.  

Levi did catch a bunch of fish.  The pond is a fun place to fish as there are lots of fish to catch!

Time for dessert.  T-Bob enjoyed the GF strawberry shortcake that Michelle made as well as the yummy cheese cake that Aunt Anita made.

Mom and Kathy enjoyed the desserts.

Michelle and Elizabeth were enjoying swinging on the tree swing until the rope started breaking.  Time to get a new rope.


In the evening, we went to a friend's house who raise sheep.  The children wanted to see the lambs.


Lots of little lambs with their mamas!

Sadie was flipping her hair around.  Her hair is really getting dark.  It is almost the same color as Aunt M's was.

Michelle and the kids tramping through the pasture.

Elizabeth climbing on the frame of the new sheep shed.

Levi got a splinter in his hand climbing on the new shed frame.

Our friend, Dee

The lambs were so sweet.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Week in Review

At AWANA this week they had vegetable character night.  I thought this was an amazing likeness of DH.  

My niece was over and Miss President was proud to show us where she had missing teeth.

Car was a pleasant guest as well.

Elizabeth was excited to see that they brought spare clothes to change into.  She then made sure they had to use them.  She took them out to play in the mud.  They had a grand time!

Friday was spent down in Amish country.  It rained a lot in the morning.  I stopped at this farm to get eggs.  The lane looked compacted and drivable, most of the mud was on the edges.  I wasn't planning on driving all the way, just up to the crest.  Halfway up, I decided to see if I could back out.  I couldn't. The covering of mud on top was slippier than ice.  As I backed up the rear wheels slipped into the edge and got stuck.  I was embarrassed to have gotten stuck.  I should have known better than to try it.

The poor farmer had to hook up his heavy team and bring them out to tow me out.  Poor guy!  He got a bit muddy doing it, but he didn't complain.  He appreciates my business. Nice guy!

Looked out and saw five deer in the back.  I was able to get out and get close enough to take a picture.

When they saw me they took off running.  It was fun to watch them go.  

All they left was their prints behind them.

Elizabeth and I took a walk/hike to the back of the property.  She was showing off her creek walking skills.  The creek flows through the field.

There is a lot of clay in the fields.  The kids had fun building dams in the creek. Yes, they get filthy dirty playing out in the creek.

Can someone tell me what this is?  There is a clay wreath around the top of the hole.

The hole is about 3/4" across and is neat and straight.  It looks like someone pulled a pole out of the ground, but obviously that isn't what happened. Who made the hole?

It has been a good week.  We are enjoying the warmer weather.  There is a possibility of snow on Tuesday and then the weather hopefully warms up for good.  We have a lot of work to do on the gardens.  Got to get them built up.  Looking forward to the growing season.  I have also ordered more chicks and some turkey poults.  The farm has to earn it's keep!