Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014

This has been a great week!  While it has been cooler in the mornings, it has warmed up in the afternoons (when I am available to do farm work after my other job).  This week has been all about "a little from here makes a little for there" per one of my favorite books to read my kids, Hiram's Red Shirt.  My favorite literature to read about small farms is from about the late 1800's to around 1980.  This is the time when they not only thought it was doable, but they did it and made a living from it.  This is before the times when large industrial farmers started poisoning the waters with "get big or get out".  I think for a small farm, it's all about diversity, finding out which things make a profit and doing more of them, and having a can-do attitude.  We are not looking to get rich, just making money doing something we love.  This morning I asked my husband, "If money were no object and you could do anything you wanted to do today, what would you do?"  After taking some time to think about it while we drank our coffee, he said he would do something on the farm.  I felt the same way.  Isn't it great when you are able to do something you love?  Of course, then he left for his other job, and I started anticipating mine.  We are planning to change that and are working on it. 
This week, I have been transporting our new plants from the house to the greenhouse (unheated) for their daily sun.  In addition, I am working on digging a frog pond and using the dirt to shore up other areas (A little from here makes a little for there).  As the snow made the ground compact around the septic tank, multiple wheelbarrows full went there, and the new greenhouse needs lots of dirt around the foundation to keep the heat in, so many wheelbarrow loads are going there.  We are watching the temperature differential between the outside temperature and the greenhouse, and so far even though the outside temperature has gone as low as 19, the greenhouse is remaining above freezing.  I still have the south and east sides of the greenhouse to put earth around (right now rocks are holding the plastic in place, but doesn't hold the plastic tight against the greenhouse frame.)  We think the temperature differential is owed to the rock foundation which provided our thermal mass.  We are still not sure enough to leave the plants out at night.  Hopefully that will change.  Wow, I just realized that all of this is being accomplished during the time I used to spend commuting.  It's amazing what having a home office can do.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014

Today we finished putting the film and plastic on the greenhouse!  Yay!  We have moved a thermometer into the greenhouse to monitor progress.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014

Our Power panel for our photovoltaic system arrived today.  I have been researching a grain mill, both for grinding flour and cracking grain for brewing.  Looks like all arrows point to the Family Grain Mill.  I pruned the muscadine grapes and put cuttings in water for rooting. I lifted the blueberry plants as they had sunk when we had the snow.  The bees came out to show they are alive and well.  Yay!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

On 2/2/2014 we planted (indoors) broccoli, early jersey cabbage and red cabbage.
On 2/10/2014 the broccoli and early jersey cabbage is up, still no red cabbage.  We planted (indoors) Florence Fennel, Cumin, Kale, Blue Breadseed poppies, Jalapeno peppers (Saved Seeds - SS), Ancho Peppers, Bell Peppers SS, Cayenne Peppers SS, Silver Fir Tree Tomatoes (read about in Animal Vegetable, Miracle), Yellow Pear Tomatoes, Martina's Roma Tomatoes, Oxheart Tomatoes, Amish paste tomatoes, and Marglobe Tomatoes. 
2/17/2014 we re-planted red cabbage.  We have 14 hens and one rooster that were hatched in October of 2012.  The winter production of eggs went way down, but it is starting to climb again.  We got 8 eggs yesterday.  Our chickens are 13 Australorps (including rooster) and 2 Rhode Island Reds.  We are currently using Bartlet Milling Companies 20% layer pellets with Apex, and they free range all over the farm.  We got about 8 inches of snow this past week and they would not walk around in it.  We provided some area near the chicken coop where they had some cleared ground for scratching that they would go to, but we didn't figure that out right away.  We are still learning.  Currently we have finished putting rocks on the greenhouse floor.  After we put down the big rocks, we bought some smaller rocks (I think they were called 67m's).  They are dark grey.  We wanted them for both thermal mass and to level the floor.  We bought two tons (made two trips in the pickup) for about $32 each.  We wanted the darker color to absorb more sunlight.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

We think we have most of the farm infrastructure in place.  We are finishing the greenhouse, we are finishing the fence around the growing area (so the deer won't eat everything), and we are finishing the rebar and bird netting around our fruit and nut trees (mainly, again, because of the deer).  We are planning to join our local Farmer's Market and work to make it a success.  We bought a "Gardening by the Moon" calendar and coordinated it with the planting times for the Piedmont of North Carolina.  (I figure if the moon can affect the tide, why wouldn't it affect plant growth?)  This past weekend, we planted our cabbage (white and red) and broccoli seeds which are growing in the house until we get our greenhouse completed.  We have been hauling rocks (that we earlier tossed out of the garden) to the greenhouse foundation to serve as our thermal heat sink.  We will then add smaller rocks that we will have to purchase to even out the flooring.  Hopefully, the plastic will be ready to be attached next weekend.  John is still teaching and having to take courses, so he can only donate Saturdays and small other bits of time to this enterprise (time that is shared with everything else we need to do - like visiting family), so it will be up to me to keep us organized, and working (my job is more flexible and from my home office.)  I am currently re-reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable, Miracle, as I think it is important to keep motivated with inspiring reading.  I am picturing a pantry full of a year's worth of food at the end of the year, along with sales at the local farmer's market of our excess.  Already, when doing a cash flow comparison (we use Quicken Home & Business) our food spending is down $417 from this month last year (but still too high at $557, which includes eating out and anything else we usually buy at the grocery store like paper goods and cleaning supplies).  We have, however, made higher quality choices in our spending on food including cheese.  This also includes pet food which costs way too much.  Homemade pet food is in the plan as soon as we start harvesting our own meat.