Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday's Livestock and Garden report~ Week 3

it's been a busy week around our little homestead, with barely enough time to do the laundry, cook dinner and correct tests, never mind keep all you faithful readers up-to-date!

but as promised, here is much of this weeks happenings, in no particular order!
B loves to drive the tractor! even though it's Dave's tractor (a mere technicality) i drive it more often than he does. whenever it's time to move the pigs, stones or mulch, baby B is sure to ask me for a ride.

the doors are on the high tunnel, and Dave has it tilled, furrowed and ready to plant. i hope to get that done in the next week or so. we still need to cover the ground with black plastic, and with the temperature consistently hanging around 80 degrees during the day, the tomato plants are sure to do well. we have 3 flats of tomatoes, and though they are a bit on the small side, i think that we may plant them anyway.

this is a little triangle of land between our little run-off stream and the road. the layer hens are in their chicken tractor just to the left of this picture. here Dave (and A) are tilling under the winter rye, which we planted last fall as a cover crop. in the distance, N and B are picking rocks. (G was helping, too, you just can't see him in this picture) after Dave had tilled under the rye, we all picked rocks. i can't even tell you how many wheelbarrow loads we hauled out of this little plot! but, many hands make light work. after we picked *most* of the rocks, Dave broadcast oats and clover. after it's fairly well established, we'll put the Cornish X meat birds in this triangle. they also will be in chicken tractors, and if we're faithful about moving them daily, this planting of oats and clover should last for several years.

A was happy to help her daddy with the tilling. that handle is just at the right height for her to hold onto and walk right along behind.

Dave and i both got a little bit impatient waiting for a 2 plow, so he started preparing this lower garden with the rotor tiller. much of the sod was already broken up from the pigs, so the job was not nearly as hard as we thought it would be. the tilling was done not any too soon, so G and i planted our onions from Gurney's on Good Friday afternoon. shortly after we were done, the gentle spring rain began, watering the onions and giving them a good start.

i am nearly done planning out the layout of this lower garden. I've been reading several different books, and I'm looking forward to trying out a combination of wide rows and companion planting. this week we got back our soil sample test results from Penn State, and with the exception of magnesium, our soil is pretty crappy needs some attention. we'll be addressing that issue in the next few days.

but first, G needs to back fill the rather long, large and deep trench that he and his brother dug for their paint ball wars. the trench filled with water, and with me planning on spending so much time down in the lower garden, it was obvious that it would not be safe for the little girls to be around. yesterday i helped by bulldozing as much of the dirt back into the trench as i could, but there was only so much that i could do. this job is high on the list of things for G to complete, and now that the trench is draining, it's made the garden too wet to till or plow.

on the left you can see the pig tractor and Dave's my tractor. both pigs went to the butcher on Monday morning, and I'm pleased to say that it was an uneventful trip. Dave and G had built a pig crate, and since the pigs were used to it, each of them went right in when it was time, making the transport quick and easy. we're expecting the call from the butcher in a few weeks, when all the meat will be ready.

we have just a few days down time between pigs, as our new feeder pigs will be ready for pick up early in the week. we're getting them from the same friendly farmer as we did last fall, and I'm grateful that he had 2 pigs for us. it is difficult to get feeder pigs around here, especially at this time of year. we are considering raising feeder pigs ourselves, since there is obviously a market for them. more on that topic in another L & G report.

the Cornish X chicks are growing rapidly, and are well into their second 100 pound bag of food. we've moved them outside into the "teenage" chicken pen, and with their new 3 gallon waterer and 3 feed troughs, i only have to feed them 2 times a day. they are nearly all feathered out now, and soon they will go into their more permanent housing. at 4 weeks old today, they are already 1/3 of the way to butchering day!

the buffs are 3 weeks old, and are also feathering out nicely. they are still in the mud room in a giant box, and will likely stay there for another week or so. now that the buffs are older, we are turning off the light for them at night, since it is stressful for them to have light 24 hours a day.

the mini greenhouse is full again, as i just started a bunch of seeds last night. we're onto round two with the cauliflower and broccoli, and hopefully it will do much better this time. I'm thinking that the reason that they got so leggy was because it was TOO warm in the greenhouse? i also started my daisies- both Shasta and gloriosa. there is also some sedum, for ground cover between our rock paths. i started lots of basil, as fresh pesto with tomatoes and pasta is one of my very favorite meals. i usually make tons of pesto with the fresh basil when i have it, and then freeze it to enjoy the rest of the year. cilantro is another favorite of mine, and I've been collecting salsa recipes that I'm eager to try out. tonight i will start several flats of marigolds, and that should be it for a few weeks...

we've also tilled under the winter rye in the upper garden, and plan on spending some family time tonight after dinner out there picking rocks. you would not believe the amount of rocks that are in the soil- and not just tiny little rocks, either. big honking rocks- and plenty of them! we've treated the soil up here with lime, and will also add some fertilizer and phosphate. we plan on planting 50 pounds of Yukon gold up here, with the remaining 100 pounds of red potato and kennebec in the lower garden.

our trees arrived this week, and we'll have pictures of the "orchard" to show you in the next L & G report. the cold frames are doing well, with lettuce and radish up. however, i need to manage them better. with so many other things going on, it's easy to forget to tend to the little plants in there.

that wraps up this edition of our Livestock and Garden report. now i must go and finish dinner (chili and cornbread) and tend to those things that I've been ignoring while I'm typing all this out!


Milah said...

Shewww! I'm tired just reading your blog, I don't know how you get so much done! If it were me, I think I'd turn off that chili and go to bed.;D
You certainly are ambitious!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a lot accomplished. I planted a couple raspberry bushes today. I hope they do well. I don't have a very green thumb.

It's amazing how quickly those chickens go from cute, little fluff balls to big, not-so-cute birds. :)


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