Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April 18, 2018

Making progress on the farm.  We added another metal carport to build a section of the barn without animals for hay storage and a sink area.  We will add sides soon to keep out the rain, but may leave the end open for ease in moving hay in and out with the tractor.  We got 8 foot sides on this one for that purpose.

As my husband is a school teacher, we use spring break for larger projects.  This year, we finished up our last two paddocks for our rotational grazing plan.  We designed four paddocks around the perimeter to open one at a time for grazing and have a central location for the barn and water.  All we have left to do is put in the water for this plan to be functional.  One step at a time.  We are planning to rent a mini excavator this summer, when my husband has time, to add an automatic waterer and put a small sink area in the new extended barn, as well as use the excavator to add irrigation to the growing area.

Having a farm usually means you have a lot of stuff.  As I like for things to be organized and clean looking, I struggle with this daily and try to find ways to "decorate it in".  Growing the sweet potato slips beautifully has been one of those things.  This year, some friends gave us a purple pot which fit beautifully on top of a candle stand and works great for the sweet potato slips.  They are so pretty anyway, aren't they?

We decided we are finally ready to try bees again (last time they flew away in the spring).  This time we are joining a bee club for added support.  My husband is our bee keeper.  As I am slightly allergic, I am just doing cross training in case for some reason he is not available.  We went to pick up a 3 pound package this past weekend which my husband installed.  I was filming without a bee suit and had to quit when the bees got highly populated in my area.

During this time, I also was privileged to be able to help with some of  the props for Eastern Randolph High School's upcoming performance of Les Miserable (April 20th and 21st).  My husband helped cut out and install the handle of the cane.  Here are photos of some candlesticks, pocketwatch, cane, and a faux boulder.  Thank goodness for youtube videos on making faux rocks.  The students and teachers are so talented at this school!  I would highly recommend adding all of their performances to your calendar.

Saving the most important news for last, we are planning a purple and gold barbecue reception for our youngest child's college graduation.  Congratulations Leah!!  We are so proud of you!  Now all three of our children will have graduated from college!  Woo hoo!  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 18, 2018

Beets, spinach, carrots
Sunflower seeds and potatoes
Life is normally good, but this weekend it has been over the top good!!  Oh my goodness, I just love having a bright sunshiny St. Patrick's Day when we plant our potatoes and cool season crops!  So this weekend we planted 5 rows of potatoes and Black Oil Sunflowers in our chicken garden (close to the chicken coop and the sunflowers are for the chickens).  The potatoes were:  one row of Corolla potatoes from last year's leftovers, 2 rows of Organic Rio Grande Russetts, and 2 rows of Organic Sage Russetts.  The russett potato varieties are new this year.  Before we planted the potatoes, we spread the ash that we have been saving from the wood stove to try to keep the wire worms away, and to add potassium to the soil.  Can't wait to see if this is successful.  We would have preferred the Burbank Russetts (as we have been very successful with these) , but we could not get them from our local store this year or last.  We planted in our main garden two rows of Detroit Dark Red Beets, one row of Red Core Chantenay carrots (new to us this year), and one row of spinach.

We planted 4 rows of Silver Queen corn.  This will be the second year of planting seed that we saved from last year's crop.  At first we were worried that this corn was a hybrid.  However, often a variety that was created by being mixed with another variety will normalize over time, and since this has been available for a long time, we thought we would take our chances.  So far it has been very tasty.  I know, these pictures all look alike except for the background.  I guess you have to be someone who looks forward to planting to share the excitement.  We planted a new hazelnut tree in an empty spot among our pecan grove in the front of our property.  Since we have power lines up there, we planted the shorter hazelnut trees where the power lines cross our planting area so we won't have trouble in the future with them growing into the power lines. 

Mushroom stems in pot of compost and manure
Making spore prints
I started the "Great Mushroom Experiment" where I am trying to grow some mushroom from some store bought mushrooms.  The mushroom mycelium has just gotten outrageously expensive (especially for the Portabella mushrooms that we really like.)  So I found this youtube video that explained the process.  I found another suggestion (if I could remember where, I would give them credit) that you would be more successful cutting up the stems into 1/4" pieces and planting them, so I am trying both.  So far I have put in the Portabellas (my first priority), but will work with the button mushrooms once I get them finished.  Of course, my husband helped me (as in almost all projects), particularly this time with the gathering of the compost and manure.  My husband is such a good sport with all of my harebrained ideas.  Thanks honey!

It was time to set up our sweet potatoes (from last year) in their jars to make sweet potato slips.   Additionally, the plants have been progressing to the point that I really need to plant them in their own cups.  The only plants that were not successful this year were the cumin (I think one came up - unless that is really a weed) and the Manitoba tomatoes (maybe old seed).  However, the only cumin seeds I could find were in the Hispanic spice section of the grocery store.  It was worth a try, though.  We have been carrying all the plants outside most days to get the natural sunlight directly as well as the wind the make the stems stronger.