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!

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