Lots of farm progress

We are a bit behind on working on the house, but we have done a lot with the farm! In terms of the house we are cleaning up a section of the bottom driveway so we can have the whole driveway leveled and the giant hole right outside the front door finally filled in. Until that happens we have been diligently working on the farm!

The Brassicas are thriving! I still have about 2 months until I can harvest though. I think next year I’m going to start the seedlings in late January. That way I can have some ready to harvest by the start of the market, which is mid May. It was smart to plant the garlic and onions around them because we have had little to no insect interference. We have also had some of our asperagus plants come up. That was a bit of a surprise since we really haven’t taken care of them in there years, aside from cleaning out the bed once last year.

I also had quite the shock the other day. I was weeding the garden and making a general well check of the day when I almost stepped on this guy

That is a garter snake eating a toad. It was actually pretty cool to see, and I was so happy to finally get confirmation that we had safe snakes around (great pest control and all). I was a little sad for the toad and wished it had been eating a mouse, but oh well. What can you do.

C also purchased another package of bees to replace the one we lost. He has been doing a ton of research lately and has really stepped up on his bee caretaking, much as I have with the garden. It’s easier to take care of things when we live here and don’t have to set aside large chunks of time. We checked them yesterday and the queen is doing very well. In the next week and a half we should start having tons more bees hatching. There is so much more to share but I’ll save some for tomorrow. But for now I will leave you with BEES!!

A very productive weekend.

We have so much preparation for the coming summer. Friday C bought the last of the bee supplies we need for the colonies we have coming in over the next few weeks. We spent most of last night putting them together.

Today we picked up two scoops (which filled the back of the truck) of soil and compost to finish filling our last three already built garden plots. We even had enough left over to fill in the asparagus bed we put in three years ago and forgot about. We cleaned it up, added more soil, and planed the empty half in artichokes. One of the regular beds I direct sowed more carrots and beets and planted our basil and oregano. I will also add radishes once those seeds come in. The last two beds will be planted in zucchini and several types of squash over the coming weeks. Eventually they will have corn and most of our beans and cucumbers. We still need to add 8 more beds over the next few weeks as well, but that’s mostly for summer plants C also spent the day cutting down much of the brush around the house and garden. We then celebrated our hard work by taking the kids fishing, and playing with the puppies.

I love spring

Now that we are living at the farm it’s so much easier to keep up on the garden. I’ve been checking on it everyday. Weeding, watering when needed, fertilizing once a week. I am quite proud of it. At the moment we have onions and beets growing in the second direct sow plot. Everything is growing in the first direct sow plot, and then brassicas look amazing! The Brussel sprouts should start budding soon. we also planted potatoes last weekend but they haven’t started coming up yet. Today we sat down and planned out the next two weeks. I placed a $40 baker creek order in preparation for the summer direct sow, which will start in the next few weeks.

I also bought a calendar just for the garden. This is the most involved I have been with the farm probably ever. I also have started prepping for both the farmers market and the start of the CSA. We hope to have 10 weekly $10 boxes starting in late May. The first boxes will probably consist of lettuce, some carrots, spinach, radishes, and bread. I’m very excited, if you can’t tell!

Things are growing!

As of today two more beds are ready for planting! They look beautiful. Tomorrow I will plant another bed of carrots, lettuce, spinach, and beets. I will also plant another bed of my Brassicas. The last bed didn’t fair the cold snap well so I will also be replacing a few of those as well. The best part is that my first bed has finally started sprouting!!! This is what they look like as of this afternoon. Once they grow a bit bigger I will start thinning them out.

These are the beds I just prepared. I’ll post pictures after I get them planted tomorrow.

Frustration and a setback

After successfully overwintering our bees we went out to feed them today and found that in just a few days the hive had been completely decimated and the last of the bees had absconded. It was devastating to us. We thought that it had been one of the skunks that the dogs had been chasing off, but after closer inspection we found that in our haste to move last winter we had failed to put in the reducer (which reduces the hole at the bottom to a size that only one bee can get through at a time). As the last few days have given us warmer weather it had also brought a field mouse in, which had feasted on all of the new grubs leaving nothing but the leftover honey in its wake. Now we do the thing that farmers do when nature destroys a part of your income. You regroup, check your budget, move some things around (like cancelling a trip to a sustainability fair and moving an unnecessary doctors appointment for a much later date) and order another hive. Sigh. C’est la vie.

Flooring is started

We decided that the next most important thing is to install the toilet upstairs. Both C and I were tired of walking downstairs to use the toilet. In order to do that we had to start the flooring in our bedroom and extend it all the way to the bathroom. It took 13 boxes of bamboo flooring to get to the toilet, but it’s in!!! Now we are going to take a break upstairs and work on finishing the downstairs bathroom. It would be nice to have at least one shower!! Once the bathroom is finished we will work in the driveway, the front wall, the front of the house, and possibly the floors downstairs. There is so much to do!! We have been doing little bits as money comes in.

It’s the season!!

We have placed our first seed order of the year!! With the move we were unable to start seeds early like I wanted to, so we are buying the plants and ordering the direct sow seeds. I still need to go through our seed packets from last year to figure out what else I have to sow, but I do know I used all of my carrot, lettuce, spinach, and beet seeds, so I ordered those. I also ordered some onion and shallot seeds. I haven’t grown then from seeds yet but I ordered a few to try them out.

We order all of our seeds from Baker Creek (www.rareseeds.com). We really like the quality and the ability to get really different heirloom varieties that should be good to sell at the market. The spinach and lettuce like the cold weather so I’ll order another round of those in the fall, but the carrots and beets can be grown for the entire growing season so I’ll be getting more of those with every order.

Here are some of the plants we ordered. the rest you will have to stay tuned to get a look at!

Photos custody of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

An interesting day

Yesterday morning I threw a couple pieces of wood into our wood burning stove before leaving to take the kids to school. I didn’t have a substitute job so I treated the littles to donuts. As we were finishing up our donuts I get a call from a number I don’t recognize. Normally I wouldn’t answer but this time I did. It was the police station in the next town over informing me that our house was on fire. I freaked out, rushed the kids to the car, and drove entirely too fast back to the house. As I pulled up I see about 6 fire trucks of various shapes and sizes along our road and down our driveway. They have me pull to the side and talk to me about how my house was on fire and the local newspaper is here and I can chose not to talk to them if I don’t want to. After sitting and waiting to hear what is going on and if I even have a house anymore (although I can see the roof from where I was sitting so I knew it wasn’t that bad) they had me come down to the house. The house was fine. When we installed the stove we didn’t have enough money to put in the correct length of pipe so our chimney stopped about a foot or so from the roof. The smoke comes out of the chimney and follows the underside of the roof up. The smoke had stained some of the roof and side of the house black in January when we burned our Christmas tree. Our plan was to fix the chimney sometime in the next month. Apparently someone had seen the smoke, thought it was a fire, and called the fire department. Not a big deal, at least we have neighbors who care. However, the fire department (without seeing any flames, because there weren’t any) decided the house had been on fire and had gone out, sprayed the outside of the house, took apart part of the chimney, removed everything from the stove, and filled the bottom with water. Then they wouldn’t let us on the property for at least an hour. Needless to say we fixed the problem.

Surviving our first winter

The first winter here has been hard. We are able to keep our house between 50 and 70 which is fabulous. It’s been a struggle and has cost us more than we would like (which has pushed some of our proposed improvements back a bit), but we have been more comfortable than we have been in several winters.

The current struggle has been between keeping the electric on and the water pipes thawed. This winter has been unusually cloudy, which has not helped keep our batteries charged. We have a generator but it has been having a tough time connecting to our inverter properly. It will start charging the batteries and then the inverter kicks it off charge. We should hopefully have the issue fixed in the next week, but for now we have had to have nightly blackouts where we turn off the inverter and turn it back in in the morning.

Due to these blackouts we haven’t been able to run our pipe heater when the temperature gets below freezing. Every few days we have to thaw out the pipes. Thankfully it’s only happened on nights when the temperature gets over 40 the next day or when the sun is out enough to run the heater during the day.

The plan for this year is to get a wind turbine connected to the batteries. That was always the plan but it wasn’t in the budget of things we could get done before we moved in. Once we get that hooked up we should have no issue running the heater all night.

I am not a fan of winter.

It’s winter, I’m in a slump.

There is so much to post about but… winter. I have no drive what so ever. I can’t wait for this cold spell to be over.

Anyway… we had a goal to have the inside doors up by Christmas Eve. In order to do that we had to finish missing the wall, spray mud it, and paint it. Three days before Christmas and we had done absolutely none of that. Yay us. So the desperation that follows procrastination set in and we got it done! It’s not fully painted yet but it is painted enough to put the doors up. we also sealed the floors in the kids’ rooms which greatly reduced the dust.

Here is how it went: