Monday, May 24, 2010

Livestock & Garden Report 2: Week 5 and 7

finally ~ the explanations to go with these pictures! i had finally taken the time on Saturday to sit down and write, and just as i hit publish, everything disappeared!

so now, i guess I'll try again. I'll give you both the explanation and the update, all in one fell swoop...

Dave turned our old "chicken triangle" into more garden space. last fall we laid mulch, and early spring Dave was out tilling the hay under. the soil is still fluffy (and rocky) but we're glad for the extra dirt.
A helped us plant sweet corn ~ 3 different kinds: yellow, white and bi-color. all will mature at different times ~ 63, 72 and 85 days.

although it's not enough corn to sell, we will have plenty for ourselves to eat.

the corn is now up about 2" and just this morning i was able to cultivate it for the first time. when it's early, and the dew is still on the stalks, it's easy to see the rows. as the day goes on, the rows just fade into the dirt.

the potatoes in the lower garden are all up ~ all 300 lbs of them! we definitely expanded our potato farming from last year, but it was such a successful crop.

both the kennebec and red Pontiac i was able to plant from our own potatoes, thus saving us the cost of buying more seed potatoes. with the exception of the 200 lb. of seed potatoes i bought ( 50lb. red pontiac, 25 lb. blue, 50 lb. superior and 50 lb. yukon gold), we have not needed to buy any potatoes for our family to eat for almost a year!

now that the potatoes are gone, however, we're on a potato fast until the new ones are dug, hopefully around the beginning of July.

the little high tunnel worked very well, and really gave a boost to the cauliflower and broccoli. the tunnel is off now, (we're using it for the sweet potatoes down in the lower garden) and the plants should be large enough to fend off a marauding bunny.

there are a few slugs, though, but early in the morning Dave takes the girls out to squash the slugs and snails. B is so cute as she earnestly hunts for slugs, and then shakes salt onto them with the saltshaker!

the chickens are coming along very well, and are nearly half-way to butchering day.

every once in a while one (or two, or three...) will get out, and the girls are happy to help put them back in the hoop house. since chickens absolutely do not herd well at all, they need to be caught. both girls know how to catch the chickens by the body so the wings don't flap all over. they gently put them back.

all three girls A, B and M help feed the chickens. (G feeds them in the morning) here B is hauling the feed sack down in her little wheelbarrow.

100 birds eat 100 lbs. of food in less then three days, so we're kept busy either running to the feed mill or mixing the soybean meal into the food.

the meat bird grower that we buy is 22% protein, but these high octane birds need 26% protein. so, for every 100 lbs. of grower, we mix in 6 lbs of soybean meal. since the soybean meal is 47.5% protein, that gives the food (and chickens) the extra boost that they need.

this is the first year that we've supplemented the meat birds food this way, so I'll be interested to see if it makes a difference in the butchering weight.

right now all 4 hoop houses are running on the garden, so the chickens can help eat up the winter rye that is still growing. however, now that the danger of frost is past, we will be tiling the upper garden this week, so the chickens will need to be moved somewhere else.

the peas in the high tunnel are finally producing! just yesterday we had 2 quarts!

i sold one quart, and the girls sat in the yard eating the peas fresh yesterday after their nap. i was pleased that the peas did produce, since originally i was worried that they would not be pollinated, but that obviously was not a problem.

A and B still go get the eggs together, and besides being sisters, they are best friends.

this is the parting shot of the Indian runner ducks. we had been keeping them cooped up, since they would most likely eventually get into the lettuce, peas or spinach.

we were feeling bad that they could no longer roam about freely, so we sent them to the auction. hopefully they have a good home, and weren't some one's Sunday dinner!

we had a hail storm, quite fierce, and the girls we fascinated by the little ice balls. no damage was done to the crops, thankfully!

the peas are much larger than this now (that's what happens when it takes so long to post!) G and i staked them with sumac branches. i like the way that looks, but next year we will probably just use wire and stakes.

this salad box (radishes, lettuce and spinach) is producing profusely, and it's nearly impossible to keep up with it!

A found a toad while planting corn with daddy, and after she and B were done looking at him, they set it free in the high tunnel.

hopefully he'll gorge himself on the slugs in there!

this little spring hole is handy for watering the animals. it was just a wet spot in the yard that Dave dug out, and the girls like to sit on the edge and play in the water.

these are the two 300 gallon water storage tanks that we bought at the farmer's auction.

Dave plans on hooking them up to the drainage system in the lower garden, and then we'll have an easier way to water the plants down there.

he's in the process of working on that now, and i should be able to show it to you by the end of the week.

Dave has the row of horseradish planted, and they seem to be establishing themselves well.
a neighbor showed up with a plastic bag of root cuttings, assuring me that Dave wanted to plant horseradish. somehow, though, Dave has no recollection of that conversation!

the pigs are getting bigger and fatter, which is a good thing, since the butchering dates in June and July are rapidly approaching. it's hard to tell in this picture, but the red pig is significantly bigger than the white striped one.

and the parting shot: B and i lovin' on the cat. see, we do take the time to smell the roses pet the kitty!

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