Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blueberry Breezes

It is that time of year again when the wild blueberries on our little corner of the world begin to ripen.  Things are just getting started.  Maya and I went for a walk with a bucket today to see how things were doing.  Right behind the barn they were beautiful, bushes were loaded and there was a good start of blue and lots of green.  Up the hill and along the ridge, where it was so good last year, I am very disappointed in this year.  There were lots of flowers this spring, but very few berries.  I did find one good patch up there after 45 minutes of looking and Maya discovered it at the same time.  Boy did she sit right down and start picking too.  It is to bad that her berries never make it to my bucket and I only find dog slobber on bushes when I finally make it to her spot.  Yuck.  At least she likes them too.  I have one more spot to check on.  I am worried that we won't get the couple of gallons that we got last year.  I am praying I find some more good patches.

One thing about blueberry picking is that it is a HOT job.  Blueberries like that sun!  Fortunately we had a nice breeze this morning so it wasn't too bad.  I did come away with 2.25 oz of berries.  It is a start.  Happy picking for others elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moving Day

Big day for the chickies... it was moving day!  What a circus that was. 

Now if you know my hubby, you will know that when he builds or makes anything, he does a great job and it is built to last (Forever!), but it usually gets pretty big.  The Chicken Tractors are no exception.  We knew moving them was going to be hard, especially when we knew we wanted to move them to the top of the hill from in front of the barn.  

Anyway,  Scott braced them up and built a wheel carriage, that we hoisted and pushed to get it under the tractor, then we used the winch connected to a chain to lift the other end.  The original plan was to pull the tractor with the 4-wheeler, this would require driving backwards.  That worked to a small degree, but the 4-wheeler just didn't have enough oomph to pull it up the hill, so I said we should try and push it up the hill.  YIKES! This was a bit scary.  I do have to say that I became a pretty good "Tractor" driver if I do say so myself.  Scott directed and watched so it didn't tip and up the hill we went, twice, one with each tractor.  The second was much lighter because it didn't have the siding on it yet. 
All braced up and ready to go.
Uphill progress.  We did have to stop once to re-position the wheels.
Set in it's spot before bracing was removed.

They are now parked next to each other on the other side of the playground.  Let me tell you, I do not know who was more excited about the move, Adin or the chicks.  I just couldn't get them in there fast enough.
Adin giving them the tour.  He even pointed out the nest boxes and told them that was were they were to lay their eggs.
Babies checking things out.
Dora stopping to say Hola!
On one of the many walking trips up and down the hill this evening, I did discover a small blueberry plant that actually had 2 ripe berries, one for Adin and one for me.  I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow morning, hiking in the woods to check out the wild blueberry plants.  :)  They are about 2 weeks later this year than last year.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  Now to go and put the babies to bed in there new home and then to hit the pillow myself. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Girls Day Out & Coop Updates

This weekend the girls (and a boy) enjoyed their first time exploring the yard. They are all growing so fast and changing everyday.  Their fluff feathers are disappearing and their big girl feathers are coming in beautifully.  We are going to have some pretty girls (and one boy).

L to R: Honey, Cricket and Lucy enjoying their first adventure outside.

Cricket and her favorite Adin.
 Cricket and Adin are buddies. She loves being held and is always looking for her Adin.  Most days when he is holding her, she snuggles up in his hands and falls asleep.

Coop update: We are hoping to finish them today.  Cross our fingers.
Adin and Daddy working on the nest boxes.
The Tractor:  we are going to finish putting the cedar siding on it. 
Roost poles and a poo shoot for easy cleaning
Flap lifts open to clean under the roosts
Adin helping me put down the flooring for more easy cleaning.  More recycling.
Nice new floor.
I am so looking forward to getting this done so we can get the kids outside and out of my sun room.  They need more space to play and be able to get in the grass without me sitting there with them.  They are still to small in my eyes to be running free without adult supervision.  Call me a protective mommy. 

Off to finish some baking then outside to work on coops and garden projects.  Enjoy your day, I hope it is as beautiful where ever you are as it is here.  :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Creative "Free" Tomato Supports

My tomatoes are coming along really well and are now starting to need some support. I have the 8 tomato cages that I bought last year and they really didn't work well and with money being tight, I needed to get creative for the rest of my 50 some tomato plants.

Before:  The "small" tomato bed, better known as Adin's.

The supplies: large and small trimmers, hunting knife, twine, and maple poles cut from the woods.

After:  The first round of support put in.  More will be added as the plants grow. 
 I think that it looks kind of pretty and I'll use this method for all of my tomatoes.  It allows me to put up a support branch where ever I may need one, the materials were all on hand and it is all bio-degradable.  It does take a little time to do the tying of all the branches together, but that is ok.

Here are some updated pics from other parts of the garden:

Sugar Snap Peas on the left just starting to bloom and Shelling peas on the right with tons of nice pods.

Bush Beans: Green & Wax

Cucumbers with a second season Carrot and some volunteer Sunflowers.

Potatoes:  Blues and Reds (I have mounded twice now.)  I also have 2 garbage cans with blues.

Asparagus forest and a couple of tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away

This is the popular song of choice for the kids this week around our 20 ac.  We have had many days of rain, and not just sprinkles, but RAIN and we have more to come this week.  We have been in a flash flood watch or warning more than I can remember for this time of year.  Fortunately we don't really have to worry about that around these 20 ac, but other places in our county do.  We don't, because we are on a hill and every which direction from the house goes down hill.  (Another reason finding a place last year to put the garden was tricky.)  The garden has enjoyed all the great rain water and as of yet has not gotten too waterlogged.  It always amazes me how much better things grow with rain water vs. well water and toss in some lightning and life is grand.

The kids however get a bit stir crazy when we have so many days of storms.  If it were just a nice rain, they could go out and play, but not with that lightning and thunder.  Oh well, this too shall pass.  Now I just wish I had a rain barrel, soon hopefully, gotta save up some money.  It really is too bad that the old cistern wasn't in such a bad place and in disrepair, we could be using that.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Babies Are Here!

Here is Chicky!  Wrong Chicky, this one is Adin's.

 The baby chicks are here.  They arrived yesterday morning right before I left for work.  All seven of them arrived safely and very noisily.  We have one Dominique who we already named Cricket, one White Leghorn, two Buff Orpingtons, and three Red Stars.  The other 6 don't have names yet, we need to find distinguishing markings and when they are this little it is kind of hard.  Once we put them in their new little box, they found the water, the food and then snuggled up under the lamp for a nap. 
All 7 of the new babies, 3 days old.

The kids love to sit and watch them and so do I.  They are so small and cute, but I do know that someday, some of them will become dinner.  All part of life on a farm.  Until then, we will enjoy their cuteness.  They will live in our sun room for the next few weeks then we will move them out to the chicken tractor along with their lamp.  It is amazing what the sun room has been used for in the last few months; a green house and now a brooder.

Maya our elderly Chessie has taken a couple peeks at them but doesn't seem to be too interested.  Fortunately Freya has not seen them and will be kept out of the sun room until the babies are in their tractor, she will not be so kind. 

Well seeing as today is a grand day off and my "To Do" list is huge, I must bid a happy gardening to you all.  More updates and chicky pics to follow.  Name suggestions would be fun too. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Root Cellar Procrastination

I have needed to get our root cellar painted for a long time.  Something in me says that it needs to have a nice white fresh coat of paint before I store food down there.  I just want it to look clean.  We want to paint it before we put the wood floor in it and Scott want to get the decking out of the barn so he has more room.  I have been procrastinating this painting project because when I have the time it has been so nice out that I didn't want to spend that time down in the root cellar below our basement, I wanted to be outside in the garden.  Can you blame me?  Well, today is a wet, rainy and dreary day, perfect to head down to the root cellar and paint.  Now I just have to get my kids moving so we can head to town and pick up some groceries first then down to the cellar I go.  Before we know it, we'll be needing it.  Here are some before pictures.
This is looking into the root cellar from the laundry room.

Inside looking out.

The shotty origional paint job, sand floor,  etc.

The escape tunnel.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

4-Wheeler Confessions

When we bought the 4-wheeler a few years ago, Scott picked one out that had a small dump box on the back.  I remember saying "who needs a dump box on a 4-wheeler?"  It was a silly thing in my mind.  Well, today I used it for the first time and I used it a lot.  I am here to confess that I was wrong and I actually used the dump box.  Funny how things work out. 

Today I finally made part of my new hosta bed along to front sidewalk.  It has always looked awful and was hard to mow along the steps that are throughout the length of the sidewalk.  So yesterday I dug it up (putting the patchy sod in the dump box) and hauled the sod to the back side of the garden and dumped it.  We are using the extra sod and such to help support the raised garden edge.  Then I hauled in the black dirt, again using the dump box.  Now both sides of the sidewalk have nice hostas.

I also worked on my corner bed by the deck and hauled some more black dirt in there.  I am now a big fan of the dump box on our 4-wheeler.  :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Garden Update

Just thought I would do a quick update on the state of the garden.

The shelling and sugar snap peas are growing great guns and have been training themselves to grow on the fence already.  (Don't know if anyone remembers the sun room plants - well Thursday we harvested 1/2 oz of peas from that plant.  Lizzy was excited and boy did they taste good.)

The asparagus is growing great guns (all 10 plants survived the winter - very exciting) and are almost as tall as I am.

The green beans are doing well and had a fairly good germination rate, but the wax beans did not.  Not sure what happened there.  I planted them every other row - I think I'll have to go back and fill in or just wait until early fall to so a second sowing.

My spinach is looking great as well as the volunteer cilantro.  The cilantro that I sowed this year is slow to come up, but it is there.  I also have a few volunteer leaf lettuce plants also.  That was a fun surprise.

The cucumbers are looking great, as are the zucchini and gourds.  The pumpkins and the squash have not had a happy ending.  All of them have died.  They started to well in the sun room this spring.  Hardened them off and planted them in nice mounds, etc.  Dead! Every last one of them.  Frustrating!  Now I'll have to go and get a few more seeds, because I was dumb and started all of them and didn't save any.  Nice going Anna.

The strawberries that I planted are looking great (only 4 plants) but I will get a couple berries this year.  This year is the getting established year. 

The onions and garlic in all different stages are looking good also.  The strong wind and rain we had this week was a little hard on them, but they are perking up.

And then there are the tomatoes!  I have tomatoes everywhere.  Most of them are doing really well.  I had some severe predation going on in one of my beds, but that seems to be over.  I have 3 out of 11 plants that made it through there.  Fortunately I still have a tomato forest in the sun room waiting to be planted - so glad I have extras.

The potatoes are starting to peek out of the soil and are looking wonderful and strong.  I am hoping for a good harvest this year.  I have some planted in garbage cans and some in one of my raised beds.  I just didn't want to spend money on more garbage cans this year.

I'll try and post pictures soon.

Little Bear

My kids like watching the show "Little Bear".  It is a cute cartoon about a little black bear named Little Bear, his family and friends.  My parent's even have a puppet that is a little black bear named... you guessed it...Little Bear.  Well on Thursday we had our own live version of "Little Bear" in our yard and Little Bear brought along Mother Bear.

Maya, our elderly Chesie made fast work of putting both of them up a tree, right between the house and the barn.  We were all pretty impressed that she treed them seeing as she is not a bear dog, but I guess her protective side came out.  

Adin was at school, but the girls and I watched them from the deck for a while.  I was protecting the bird feeders.  It was pretty comical watching Little Bear goofing around and playing in the tree.  It is hard to see him in the pictures as he is way up at the top, but he was sitting on a branch dangling both legs over the side of the branch.  He would also chew on small sticks and leaves and then toss them on the ground.  After a while they finally felt comfortable enough to come down and head off into the woods again. 

I just hope that after being treed, they think twice about venturing into our yard again.  I was a good learning opportunity for the kids, to see Mother and Little Bear and talk about bear safety (seeing as we live in bear country) and also the reason we hunt in the fall and not spring (except for Turkeys and we only hunt the Tom's in the spring).  It is important to Scott and I to teach the kids good ecology, environmental and animal respect and the ethics of hunting and managing wildlife.