Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Trials of being a Farmer....

I've had a hard, hard week on the farm. For whatever reason, my meat birds, which had been doing just fine, suddenly got cold. Within an hour, I had 16 dead.... that's quite a loss. It was depressing. I still have enough to fill all my orders, but I can't afford to lose anymore at this point. Then, one of my laying hens died for no reason. That seems to happen regularly. I have no idea why. I think they just lay eggs that are too big, and it stresses them out so much, and they bleed out. It's so sad. THEN, to top it off, a Dorking flew the coop, and of course Reckless saw it immediately, and killed it. GRRRRRRR.
I am still battling slugs, and hoping everything grows fast enough to fill my first CSA orders. I replanted all the lettuce, and am planning on getting more arugula seeds so I can replant those, too, soon.
I guess I have to expect losses on occasion, but it's hard to swallow when it does happen!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ATTACK of the slugs!

Yesterday morning, I was walking the gardens, checking everything over, making sure all was ok. I was so pleased by what I saw for the most part. Little lettuces, all green and growing, little carrots and peas and cabbages, all looking fantastic. I had a brief moment of pride there.... then it ended. My gorgeous arugula, which was looking fabulous the day before had disappeared. Gone. Vanished in the night. Was it birds? Was it slugs? Was it deer? I was looking forward to my first harvest in just a few weeks. I checked the beer slug traps. In them were hundreds and hundreds of little dead slug bodies. So, I thought Great! My little traps are doing their job, and I guess I'll just replant the arugula.

Then it started to rain. Crap! Within minutes, THOUSANDS of slugs were all over the place. I was madly hand picking them, and dropping them into a deep bucket of water with dish soap in it to drown them. I was out there for over 2 hours, until it got too dark to see the little bastards. I'm pretty certain trap or no trap, slugs were what got my arugula. It was an invasion! You've seriously never seen so many slugs in one place in your life.

This morning, I went to the liquor store, and bought a bunch more beer. I made a ton more traps, and set them up. I emptied the old ones of all the dead little bodies and refilled the beer. I am on a MISSION, folks. I refuse to let the beasties eat all my profits before I even get a crop. I'm all for sharing, but this is ridiculous! I plan on going out tonite to hand pick what the traps don't get. My only long term hope is that once all the grass and weeds between the beds are killed, the slugs won't have as much to eat, and maybe they will think my garden is just to far to go for a meal. Luckily, the weatherman says it will get hot and sunny for the next week, so hopefully I will have a chance to replant and get my little lettuces and arugulas going again before the next invasion.

Here's to hoping.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another Spring Day

Even though it is an absolutely gorgeous day out there today, I am trying to do a few more 'indoor' jobs. For the last week, there has been something wrong with my left foot- the heel is all swollen and painful. I have been hobbling around the whole time, just trying to suck it up, thinking it will go away. It hasn't. It's been getting worse. I guess the only thing I can do it try to get off of it for a bit. It KILLS me to stay still, though. There is so much I need to do! I really don't need a bum foot slowing me down. Even so, I still mowed most of the lawn today, and did just a few other necessary chores. With farming, even if you are dying, things still need to get done. Chickens to feed and water, doggy beds to wash, kitchen to clean, it's endless...

I decide a week or so ago that I wasn't getting enough done around the farm, so I reluctantly cancelled my TV service. It was really, really hard to pick up the phone to call, but the funny thing is, I'm not missing it at all... I think I will just keep it during the darkest days of winter, and otherwise let it go. I am getting more done without it, although there are still not enough days in the week, or hours in the day....!

I got my first order of meat birds in last week. I feel like I have succumbed to the pressures of society with those. Grow quick, get paid quick, get them out quick. I guess you just have to do what you need to do to pay the damn mortgage. Regardless of that, I will still continue to raise my Dorkings for meat as well as eggs. Hopefully I will be able to get more people behind them as time goes on. Here is a picture of the meat birds.
There are 74 birds... I ordered 75, got 78, but 4 died. That's normal.

 I have had a strange couple of months in the dog boarding side of thing. It's truly feast or famine out there. March was so slow, I was certain I was going to starve to death. The first 2 weeks of April was so busy, I couldn't breath or even go out anywhere. I just hope things even out as time goes on. Managing the budget is hard when it's so up and down like that! Can't wait for my gardens to start making some money!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Crazy Days of Spring!

Well, spring is proceeding with it's usual undecidedness. Warm and sunny one day, frost the next night, and pouring rain next. You never know what the weather will bring!
Things are progressing in the garden very well for the most part. Broad beans, peas, some lettuce, arugula and carrots are popping up. A few lettuce varieties I planted haven't shown up yet... not sure what is up with that. I'm going to wait until it warms a bit, then try replanting them. I need those early crops!
I am stoked to report I finished all 50 of my garden beds on March 26. It was 11 days later than my goal, but that's ok... I got it done, and am feeling quite proud of that fact. Most beds are planted now, but I've saved a few beds to plant assorted beans into later this month when it gets warmer. I've also been working on doing yet another business plan... I am applying to the government for a grant, to see if I can get further funding so I can put the rest of the garden beds in, as well as finish my orchard and berry patch. I also want to build a few new chicken coops, so I can rotate their pasture, and the chickens will always have fresh pasture to forage in. After this winter, the chicken runs look like giant mud patties. I can't imagine that it's the healthiest thing for chickens to walk around on.
A friend of a friend gave me 30 laying hens a few weeks ago. They are just the regular laying hens, which give you huge eggs, but I still love my Dorkings the best. The new layers just drop dead every once in a while... they are definitely not as hardy as the heritage breeds.
Here is a sample of the difference in the eggs:
Even though the Dorking eggs are smaller, the birds win the contest for overall hardiness and ease of keeping. I am keeping my fingers crossed right now.... 5 of my hens are broody, and I am hoping for some little Dorking chicks soon!

Here is a pic of my new layers. There were 30 of them, but Reckless ate 2, and 4 died spotaneously.

I am also taking part in a challenge- it's called the Nourished Kitchen. It's teaching people how to eat traditionally, like we did 100 years ago and more - BEFORE we had tooth decay, and everyone got chubby. It's the direction I've wanted to go anyway, but didn't really know how to start- alot of the things we used to do to eat have been lost in the mass of processed foods we eat these days. So, I am learning how to make my own sourdough bread (and pancakes!) at the moment. It's really interesting! Things I didn't know: sourdough bread is WAY healthier for you, plus it keeps your blood sugar levels even, and is especially good for diabetics. This is the link if you are thinking of doing the same thing: http://nourishedkitchen.com/
I am looking for a cow to buy shares in, so I can get ahold of raw milk, and learn to make my own butter and yogurt products. It's so exciting to try all this stuff! The best part since I've been eating these foods is this:
I AM NOT GETTING THE TREMENDOUS SUGAR CRAVINGS I NORMALLY HAVE. I have been a junk food junky all my life, and every time I've tried to 'eat healthy' in the past (low fat, blah, blah, blah) I've had sugar cravings that have almost killed me. This week, I bought a chocolate bar and put it into my fridge. For anyone who knows me, that bar would usually have been gone the day, no, the minute I bought it. It has been 4 days, and it is still in my fridge. I've had a couple of bites, but that little bit was all I needed. I am so excited to try some new traditional recipes, and see where it takes me...

The cherry blossoms are out and I just had to take a picture of my little Aaron cherry tree all dressed up. Can't wait for those cherries this summer!

I also have 2 new arrivals at the farm. Katrina, who owns the horse that boards with me got 2 little Shetland ponies- Babe and Lenny. They are so cute, and a joy to have at the farm!

I went to a meeting a couple of weeks ago for people who raise heritage turkeys. You know how much I hated those damn turkeys....
Well, I am going to try again. There was some really awesome people there, and one of the ladies is going to come over and help me clip the turkey wings, so I don't have escapes every 10 seconds. In theory, it should be a little less stressful this time around...
We are also getting a new food made for the turkeys and chickens, which mimics closer the feed we used to give these birds. We should get faster growth out of them... it will be interesting to try it, and see what the difference is!

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!