Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Independence Days Update

The older and wiser(?) I get, the more my mantra becomes "everything in its own time."

Homesteading means a never-ending list of tasks that need doing. My to-do list never gets shorter—the moment I cross off one item, at least two more are added. Some things, like getting to the post office to mail out several packages that I owe folks, seems nigh on impossible because it means leaving the farm and all the things that need doing here. And, of course, why go when I still haven't finished that one thing that I need to mail out—might as well wait and mail everything at one time. I'm getting there, plugging away, and Madeline's pretty Easter apron has re-motivated me to finish the apron I'm making for her.

The rainy spring days are helping as well. Although I admit to secretly hating to sew. Well, not so much hating to sew as hating my machine that always bunches up because the tension isn't right or some such issue. The minutiae and the attention to detail drive me batty. But rest assured, I will be seated at the sewing machine over the next week, trying to complete all the projects I've been putting off because what else is one to do on rainy days while waiting for the plants (and weeds!) to grow?

Plant:

More direct seeding in the market garden: leeks (which I accidentally dug up and planted over because they didn't get written on my garden plan. grrrrrr.), batvian endive, red Russian kale, Swiss chard, rouge d'hiver lettuce, salad bowl lettuce, drunken woman lettuce.

Jim got ~ 75-100lbs of potatoes, Yukon golds and red nordlands, in the ground with some help from the kids.

I transplanted ~ 500 seedlings to the market garden: napa, savoy, early Jersey Wakefield and red acre cabbages; windsor and de cicco broccoli; radicchio; red giant mustard; black seeded simpson, winter density, red salad bowl, red lollo, and speckled bibb lettuces.


Harvest:

Red Russian and vates kale, lettuce, spinach, endive (batvian and frisee), escarole, swiss chard, cherry belle radishes, turnip greens, green onions, spring garlic, carrots, arugula, thyme, citrus thyme, tarragon, oregano, sage, cilantro, parsley, chives, early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, milk, eggs, last 2 geese.

Here I am during evening milking. We use a milk machine and milk twice a day, approximately 11-11.5 hours apart.



Preserve:

Mostly still working at using down our stores, but I preserved a couple pounds of butter.


Prep:

Not much on this front. Mostly, we're in the process of pulling together some orders for the farm, so I should have more to report on the next update.

We've been without our second fridge for a couple months now, and that's going surprisingly well. Our inside fridge is packed, and it can be annoying trying to find things, but the stuff outside in our big cooler is doing quite well. The frozen juice containers keep things nice and cool; the trick is remembering to swap them out. Of course, the garage still stays pretty cool because the nighttime temps are low. I'll let you know how things go in the summer.

Our first round of turkey poults will arrive later this week, so I'll be prepping the brooding equipment for them.

Manage:

As you know, I've sheared the sheep, and we've taken down the high tunnel plastic.

Big Boy and Maya, our tamworth pigs, are out on their first pasture paddock, which they'll till up over the next month or so. They're so good at rooting and plowing that we use them for tilling new garden beds and for rennovating our pasture. We put them in places that are overrun by weeds or generally not doing well. They till, and then we replant with a pasture mix.

Before pigs:


After pigs:


We've also moved Bella and the goaties out on pasture, though Bella is still splitting her time between there and the barnyard, depending how wet the pastures are and how quickly the paddocks recover. The sheep and chickens will go out this weekend, I hope.


Cook:

No good photos this update. I'll try to be better about it!


Add:

CSA delivery to four families: eggs, spring salad mix, escarole, spinach, kale, carrots, radishes, thyme, citrus thyme, tarragon, oregano, chives, green onions, spring garlic, baby cabbage, sorrel.


Learn:

Julia and I have been learning about breeding bunnies, and we put her Silver Fox rabbits together for the first time on Easter. With any luck we'll have our first litter in about a month.

5 comments:

Country Girl said...

Great update. I am looking forward to fresh greens. Impressive photo before and after of the pasture where the pigs were. Do you rotate their pasture by using electric fencing?

Ren said...

Can the pigs root up the poison ivy too? Boy that could be handy! What about chickens...can they handle the nasty stuff?

I'm torn when I read your blog...between getting inspired or feeling like a total slacker.:) Feeling like a slacker tonight.

Sarah said...

How exciting about Julia's rabbits! I'll be looking for the updates on that.

Those pasture pictures were wonderful.

Danielle said...

Yes, Kim, we use electric netting or wire for the animals. With the big pigs, two strands of hot wire is usually enough. Jim uses short rebar posts to set up the hotwire.

The great thing about this method as opposed to permanent fencing is that it lets us put the animals pretty much where ever we need them and in any configuration—it can be totally free-form rather than following straight lines.

Ren, absolutely. In fact, they're the only thing we've found so far that will take care of poison ivy because the goats won't touch it. They even do a good job on thistle, though they don't totally eliminate it, and it's often the last thing standing in the paddock. Literature says they eat, but not in my experience.

That photo of the after pasture was a big patch of poison ivy ridden pasture. We also have a problem in parts of the pasture with wild olive, and the pigs will root those up no problem, along with the rosa multiflora, another invasive pest. Although the goaties love that and the honeysuckle as well.

Right now, we're trying to let some of the hedge row come back along the fence line before putting the goaties on that because the browse is good for them. The pigs will completely crush the hedge row if we put them on it, but with the goats, we can rotate them fast enough that they keep it in check without eradicating it.

Chickens would be fine with poison ivy, but I don't know how long it would take them to clear it. A while probably, but they will eventually clear land too. Our turkeys like to walk the fence lines, so they're brilliant replacements for the weed wacker! lol

Please don't feel like a slacker. Remember this is my job. You work just as hard at yours, and play just as hard, I might add.

Madeline said...

I get an apron?! I had forgotten that beautiful offer. :) Listen, as someone who hates her sewing machine more than you, you are off the hook (or tension:) if you want. Play with all those animals instead. I am so impressed by the before and after pig pasture too.