Wednesday, February 25, 2015

around the farm week 8

I love this time of the year when seeds have arrived, there is still space for all my starts, and things are running more or less smoothly.  I've even been keeping up with my planting schedule - wonder of wonders!

We have 50+ tomato starts that are strong and healthy.  I hope to start some more varieties, but if I don't get to it - that's okay.

This week I've also planted:  celery, more onions from seeds - both bulb and bunching varieties, dill, cilantro, basil, kale, collards, and lettuce.

tomatoes re-potted

It's raining today after a week or so of beautiful sunshine.  That didn't deter my ladies from being out in the fields looking for snacks.  I always think my hens look miserable and cold when wet, but it must not be too bad since they choose the rain over their dry coop.

No pics of the chicks, but they are happy and growing! A. is working on building them a jungle gym to keep them entertained - will post when it's ready.

Soaked Russian Orloff

The ducks are loving the rain.  They get so excited and frisky in this weather that I can't get enough of their antics.  Like the chickens, they have really been laying well.  Unlike the chickens (or most of them), these ducks love nothing more than to play Hide the Egg.  It's a hunt every morning.  I tried marking an egg and leaving it in their nest so they wouldn't find a new place, but something ate it one night.  I probably should try this method again with some clay eggs.

Biscuit is not amused with the rain, and has found a dry place under the eaves to do his supervising from.

The chives are doing fantastic!  I am amazed at how big they already are, and some flower buds are starting to appear.

The last thing I've started tackling is clearing the island that the driveway goes around.  I've done some weed whacking and some pruning.  The boys want their sunflower fort in the middle of this area, and I want to plant the tomatoes on the East side.  I'm hoping by trying to get a handle on things now, it will be in good shape at planting time.  I've still got about 1/3 to go, and two burn piles awaiting a dry spell to alight, but it is starting to look much better.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

hiking fun

We have been keeping with our goal of getting some elevation hiking in on the weekends.  Two weekends ago we climbed Tum Tum, and Silver Star Mt. this past weekend.

Big J. took this pic of our group

playing in the wind

nice view

It was crazy windy, and people coming down from the hike warned us to be careful at the summit. We were fine on the west side most the time, but as we got nearer the summit, the wind was strong enough to make us decide not to go all the way to the top.  It was a bit disappointing, but better safe. We did get to enjoy fantastic scenery all along the way, which made this hike so worthwhile!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

chick overload

This spring, my mom, my uncle, and I all went in together and ordered 50 chicks.  I agreed to get them and house them until this weekend when they would have time to collect their little fellas.

"Oh hi there!  Which brooder are you visiting from?"

I knew 50 would be a lot, but being so tiny and having three separate brooders set up, I felt prepared.  Famous last words.

"Squeeze free like I did, and join me by Mt. Shoe!"

These clucks were definitely trouble.  They soon discovered that they were quite capable of going through the chick wire and rabbit hutch brooders.  No sooner did A. and I have them all separated into three groups, than they mutinied.  Chicks were popping in and out of brooders with flamboyant disregard to all my plans.

"Let's see how many of us can fit into this brooder."

Soon, I could hardly tell whose chicks were whose.  They had no interest in my plight, and continued popping around the place in such a fashion that I was terrified to move in case I stepped on one.

Sorting the chaos took a long time, and I was late getting Little J. to school that morning.  When his friend asked about it, Little J. explained how we had to pick up the chick order and get them under the heat lamps asap before we could go to town.  His friend chuckled, and for the rest of the day told everyone that Little J. was late because "he was hanging out with some hot chicks".

"Ah, the sweet smell of victory is ours!"

In case your curious, these babies continued to migrate as they wished.  Victory was awarded to the fuzzies as I never did manage to keep all of them where I wanted them to be.  Now with my mom's and uncle's chicks safely collected, my chicks seem content to stay put, relishing the memories of their triumphant mutiny over the human.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

around the farm week 7

The farm pace is starting to quicken in anticipation of spring.  All the feathered ladies are producing eggs in high gear and our fridge is bursting with cartons full of eggs.

Here's what five days of collecting looks like right now:

161 eggs/5 days

We are also gearing up for chicks!  A. helped me set up three different brooders, each with their own heat lamp, food and water for the 50 chicks that are on their way.  I have had difficulties in the past keeping the adults off the tops of the brooders or blocking the heat lamps.  We decided to haul in some fencing that I use for beans and wrap all the brooders inside to keep the ladies out.

It almost worked, too.  Except this dame decided that there isn't a better place to lay an egg than under a warm heat lamp and squeezed in between the wall and where the fencing stopped.  I will have to fix this tonight, but didn't want to disturb her when she was busy laying.

One of the ladies' favorite spots to take dirt baths is under a Cascara near their field.  The hens must have been chatting with the ducks about the wonders of this spot, because the ducks are now spending a good amount of their day relaxing here.  This area is so favored and extensively used that I wonder if they will end up uprooting the tree.
Dirt Bath Hangout

Speaking of trees, our orchard is starting to bud.
Frost Peach Buds

We also have sprouts emerging outside in a cold frame.  Radish, Pack Choi, Kale, and Spinach are all coming up now.
Pak Choi

I do have a possible problem that needs to be handled asap.  Some of my wily ladies have no problem scaling the tall fence around my main garden.  In fact, they mock me by perching on the top.  To protect my future garden, I'm going to have to do a bit of wing clipping and see if that helps.

Friday, February 13, 2015

queen of the house

A. negotiated getting to have Flower in his room, and very eloquently.  He brought up that he is not allergic to cats, and that it won't bother those with allergies as he already washes his own sheets/bedding, cleans his own room, and she wouldn't be in a room where the family hangs out.

No one could resist such earnest pleading, and thus, Flower's reign has grown.

Pre-warming the bed

HRH Miss Flower

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

last of the spuds

It's official - we are out of homegrown potatoes for the year (sob).  Although truth be told, this last group of spuds is all we've had on hand for a month or so now, so I guess you could say we've been out even longer.

A. did a bit of taste testing as I snapped the picture

I made a quick meal of pan fried potatoes and then sprinkled rosemary salt on top.  Couldn't get any easier - potatoes, butter, seasoning.  Nom, nom, nom!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

around the farm week 6

what I hope to deliver by week

I'm getting close to finalizing the produce schedule for the CSA season.  I still need to add potatoes, herbs, berries, and fruit, but I have most veggies on pretty solid footing now.  My first shares go out May 19th, and subscriptions are coming in. May seems a blink away for all that needs to be done between now and then.

Which makes me so appreciate the database Big J. is designing for me.  After I created my visual calendar to help me arrange veggies based on seasonal readiness and see that I had enough variety for each week, Big J. swooped in to help organize the chaos.  By putting in the plants that I want to harvest, when I need them to be mature, and the quantity needed (either in the form of each, or by weight) the database tells me when/how much I need to sow so that I can keep on top of what needs to be planted when.

week 1 planting schedule

It's so awesome I can hardly stand it!!!  He put in a ton more capabilities than I printed up too!  For example, if I've already sown things, it will tell me when they are ready to harvest and give warnings for when veggies are about to expire if I haven't picked them yet.  He also has set it up so if I enter the weight of seed packets, it can tell me how much I can grow - either by individual item of by approx. poundage.  There is even a to do reminder that can tell me what I need to tackle for the week - from weeding to planting to harvesting. Combine that with sowing instructions and sowing dates per variety - for indoor/transplant or outdoor sowing, it is truly amazing!!!  He hopes to put a user interface on it, to make it easy for non-database savvy people like me.  Right now, I'm just so grateful that it's usable, and in time for the growing season.  Big J. - you are super incredible!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

hello Mt. St. Helens!

This summer we will be hiking Mt. St. Helens.  We've wanted to do this the last few years, but the needed permit sells out very quickly.  This year's permits went on sale Feb. 1st and when Big J. got online to buy some on Feb. 3rd, all weekends were sold out.  Nevertheless, we were undeterred and got four weekday permits to go!

All of us are excited about this hike, and want to enjoy it.  If we can avoid feeling like death warmed over, that would be good too!  The goal is to get plenty of exercise during the week, and hike peaks on weekends to help us get in shape for the big day late July.  

Yesterday we hiked Green Mountain.  It's close to home and is good for the current condition we are in.   Along the way there were breaks in the tree line exposing wonderful views of mountain ranges and lakes.  I wish I thought of bringing my camera to share, but I suppose photos never do it justice. We didn't quite make it to the top - next time we will!

I am really looking forward to this experience and am happy happy happy to hike.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rosemary Parmesan Crisps

Yep, I'm still tackling the crazy amount of rosemary on hand - and I'm loving it!  This is an easy-peasy recipe with only two ingredients - Parmesan cheese and Rosemary.  I already know that these crisps and I are going to enjoy a long relationship together.  Wanna try?  Here's how:

9 TBSP Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 tsp chopped dried rosemary

1) Preheat oven to 400F
2) Put some parchement paper on a cookie sheet and place the cheese by the tablespoon on the paper.  Give it about 1 1/2 - 2 inches between each cheese mound.

3) Sprinkle rosemary on top of the cheese mounds and bake for about 6 minutes - less time if you spread the mounds out more thinly to add crispiness.

And that's it.  They are (were) a hit based on the rate of annihilation!

We ate them plain, but also paired it with some homemade tomato soup - delish!

Friday, February 6, 2015

around the farm week 5

It's been a quiet week as we take a bit of a breather before things really start to ramp up.  I spent quite a bit of time with my nose in gardening books working on my master plan for the season.  Awesome  Big J. made a database for me to manage planting dates so I have a good variety to offer all season long to my customers.  We will be sitting down on Sunday and entering my very long list and once done, we should be able to print out a planting schedule -  which is super neat!

I've got some outdoor seedling planted - radish, spinach, kale, Chinese cabbage, and bok choy (all under protection). The tomatoes indoors are doing great and I will need to repot them very soon.  I love how the fan is helping to keep them stout.  They are going to have to move over soon as I have lots of seedlings to start this coming week.

On the feathered front, I have 8 duck eggs in the incubator!  I wanted more, but only the yearling is laying right now.  Guess the older ladies decided it was nonsense to go about such business in the chilly weather.  I candled them just this morning, but am on the fence deciding whether are fertile or not.  In a few days the images should be clear enough for me to know with certainty.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I have little ducklings growing!!

There are so many wonderful projects coming up this season that I am looking forward to.  I can't wait to share them with you as I go.  Happy gardening!