Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pullets Are Layin'

Our pullets have started laying, and here's the latest...look how small that egg is!  It must be the first for the chicken that laid it.  It is next to what I would consider a normal large egg.

I cracked it open and this is what was inside.  The smallest yolk I have ever seen.  I almost thought it didn't have one at all. 

Get to work ladies...we need more BIG eggs, these little ones just won't do!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pictures From Around The Farm

I took some pictures today and thought I would share them.  Let the farm tour begin!

 Above is a picture of our square foot gardening experiment.  I am really happy with it so far, and the plants are growing really well.  We plan to add more boxes to the garden yet this year. 

 Troy built a new composter out of old picket fences we already had.  It is just two bins, but it's a start to making black gold for the square foot garden.

 Here is a shot of our dwarf fruit tree orchard.  We have 2 apple, 2 peach, 2 plum, and 3 pear so far.  We had to put fencing around the trees becasuse the deer were munching on them.   I am planning on planting another apple and some cherry trees as well.  We have more standard and semi-dwarf fruit trees planted on the property too...can't wait until they are all bearing fruit! 

 Here are some blueberry plants I bought on clearance, waiting to be planted.  We are going to make an edible plant border along the front of the house.  I love the idea of walking out my front door to pick a snack.

 I thought I would share my little rock garden.  We planted this over our septic tank to hide the ugliness.  I have coneflowers, daylilies, russian sage (all blooming) and dahilas (about to bloom).  I also planted an old bucket and washtub with annual flowers.  Please don't mind the yard that needs mowed!

 This is a little area along the timberline by the house that Troy has started clearing out.  We are going to put a little playhouse here for the kids.  They have plans for their own "Secret Garden".  It should be fun!

And finally, we moved the firepit and benches into the timber a ways and set up a little "campsite".  We had a bonfire the other night and the kids had a blast.  It kind of felt like we were in Canada...we just need a fishing pond and we'd be set.  The joys of living in the country!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Today's Harvest From The Garden

Today we were able to get out in the garden to harvest some veggies for tomorrow's farmer's market.  We'll  have for sale: Walla Walla onions, sugar snap peas, red romaine lettuce, baby green cabbages, pink radishes, and cilantro bunches.  We were also able to harvest some broccoli today, but not enough to sell. 

We have been enjoying salads lately.  Here is one we had yesterday.  I have been growing some lettuce in a flat on my front porch and it is doing really well. I love being able to go out before a meal and snip some lettuce.  It isn't very dirty or buggy either.  Just a quick rinse and it is ready to eat! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Learning New Lessons

Well, we have broilers in the freezer, but not as many as we had hoped for. We started out with 100 Cornish X broiler chicks and were able to process 37.  Not a very good return on our investment, but I have to say we have learned many lessons.  We lost a few chicks in the beginning due to smothering or leg deformities, etc. (which is normal and to be expected).  But then we lost some to predator attacks (we finally got that moveable pen secure enough).  We also lost some to crazy rain storms and flash flooding (Note to self:  We now know that the bottom of the hill is not a good place to keep the chickens in much rain=drowned birds).  We thought we would have 57 birds to take to the processor as we loaded them up the night before with hopes of pulling out of the driveway at 4:30 am.  The drive to Bloomfield was in a downpour with the chickens in the back of a pickup covered (sort of) with a tarp.  By the time we unloaded the chickens we only had 37 left alive...big bummer.  We think there were a few different factors in their demise.  The chicken processor said that that rain was a killer (no doubt), plus there was a drop in temperature.  Also, we think there were some smothering issues in the truck.  Unfortunately, most of the birds that died were our biggest birds, so we think stress/heart attack could have come into play.  So, we are blessed that we have 37 birds in the freezer, and that we have learned many ways on how NOT to raise broiler chickens.  We are figuring out how we want to raise the next batch (hopefully for this Fall yet).  We have had some customers interested in buying chickens, but we won't have any for sale from this batch.  If all goes well, we should have some later in September or October. 

 (A view of the chickens in our new upright freezer.)

In other news, we are experimenting with Square Foot Gardening in our backyard.  Troy built the boxes, we lined them with weed barrier fabric and filled them half and half with composted horse manure and potting mix.

 Here are the boxes filled and ready to plant.  It is suprising the amount that can be planted in these 4X4 beds.

Here is the first bed planted with sweet corn, basil, and a couple tomato plants.  In the other beds I planted an assortment of flowers, more basil (lime and lemon), lavender, and winter squash.  We plan to make a couple more for lettuce, peppers and tomatoes for salsa, and green beans. 

We are also going to be doing some edible landscaping around our house.  I purchased blueberry bushes today.  More on that to come. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Storm Fronts and Chickens

Yesterday I went out to gather eggs before the storm hit.  I got this picture of the front moving in.  We ended up getting 1" yesterday afternoon and 2" last night (along with some hail).  Is this rain ever going to end?  The ground is completely saturated at this point.  Please sun, come out and stay for awhile!

  I also took a few pictures of our meat birds.  We only have about a week to go before they go to get processed.  We have a few in particular that are huge, so it will be interesting to see how they all dress out.  We are disappointed that we have lost almost half of these birds after all the work we have put into them, but we hope to raise another batch soon. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today's Harvest

We've been having a lot of rain lately.  I've dumped 5.5" out of my rain gauge in a matter of 24 hours.  This morning I went out to the garden to harvest something for farmer's market.  It was MUDDY.  Standing water in a few places.  The garden has a few washouts too.  Plus the weeds...the weeds are bad.  It is way too muddy to get in there to weed much, and there is more rain in the forecast.  But, the garden is producing.  I thought I would share some pictures from today.

 I harvested green onions, some salad (not enough to sell though), garlic scapes, and A LOT of radishes.  They seemed to come on all of a sudden, and the garden is still full of them. 

  A big bowl of radishes...a mixture of Red Rover and Pink Beauty varieties.  All of our seed came from Johnny's Selected Seeds. 

This was the biggest radish of the day...I would say about the size of a golf ball.  It tasted good in our salad too. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Got Weeds?

Okay, so the garden is in desperate need of weeding...all that rain as given way to weeds, and it is not fun to weed in this 90 degree weather.  That being said, we went out this morning to attack the herb beds.  This is the before (yes, there are herbs in there):

Here is the after.  Much better.  We have oregano, sage, thyme, and stevia in this bed.

 In this bed we have rosemary, more thyme(German), onion chives, and garlic chives.

Here we have cilantro and basil. 

I still have more starts to get planted.  My other herb varieties are:  basil (Italian, purple, lemon, and lime), parsley, dill, and lavender.  It's supposed to rain again, then cool down and be dry for a little while.  Hopefully we can get the last of the garden planted...yay, (and weed some

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pictures From The Farm

I thought I would share a few pictures that I had taken in the last week or so.  This is a view to the south of our house when we had that big rainstorm last Sunday.  It looks like a new creek running through the yard.  The tilled ground is where the popcorn is planted. 

 This is another view of the "creek".  The chicken pen in the picture is where we keep the meat birds (they get moved daily to fresh pasture).  We had moved them to higher ground after the last big storm when we lost 36 birds.  A hard lesson learned:  Don't keep the chicken pens in the low portion of the field, or they may drown in a flash flood. 

This is a picture of our potatoes after weeding and laying more straw over their tops.  We are trying this method this year for the first time.  If it works, we'll just lift off the straw when it's time to harvest and won't have to dig potatoes...they will be laying on top of the soil.  Troy really likes this possibility!

Here is a pic of our corn coming up.  This was taken a week ago, so they are a bit bigger now.  Come on sweet corn!

And lastly, a picture of harvesting onions.  I planted them pretty close together with the intention of harvesting every other onion for early green onions, and then leaving the rest to grow bigger.  So far, so good.  We are also mulching with grass clippings to help keep the weeds down.  It's working well too.

So, that's the garden update for now...stay tuned.