Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Early summer farm update

We are in full summer mode here in Interior Alaska. The wild roses and bluebells are in full bloom. The perennial poppies are just starting to open and the columbine are forming buds. The Delephinium and Trolius are lush an bushy. The Iris and ferns are growing. With our long daylight hours and warm days, it is as though all living things sense the limited time and know to race ahead and make the most of these precious days.

May set a record for the dryest May in over a hundred years. We got something like less than a hundredth of an inch. It has also been warmer than average. This last week has felt a little cooler and crisp, but it is still clear and sunny with temperatures ranging from the fifties at night to seventies during the day. Some of our warmer weather was almost too much- well, I should say, too much for the new transplants in the garden, too hot for stall cleaning and too much for the kids to play outside in the middle of the day. Certainly pool/ popsicle/ grill weather.
I've been putting a hundred and fifty gallons of water on the garden every two to three days.  The time spent watering is paying off. I'm not sure how else the peas would come up, or the little carrot and beet seedlings could struggle on in the hot sun. I succession planted another row of storage carrots and beets yesterday. I need to find some more room to plant another batch of salad greens. I am most excited about all the blooms on the strawberries. It seems like it will be a while yet till I'm coming down from the house with a basket of produce, fresh picked peas, zucchini, beans and scallions. The salad greens and bok choi are finally ready to start snipping a little of. I've got herbs and chives and that's it.

In other news, the fridge overfloweth with milk. The milkers are all finally cooperating, and eating all their grain, and looking much better. We are getting three gallons of milk a morning from five does who are all still nursing kids throughout the day. I'm ready to start delivering milk just as soon as our shareholders are ready. I've been buying jars and better lids -BPA free plastic lids and half gallon glass jars. I've got a contract written up along with other farm info. Slowly but surely.

The bees are doing well. I had no idea how much I would enjoy checking on them. I am getting much more confident about not wearing protection. I've been checking on them wearing a skirt, sandles and tank top, no veil, no gloves etc. I have only been stung once - kind of, and I'm learning not to shake my feet or hands when they are crawling on me. The bees have almost filled their bottom brood super. I moved two frames from the outsides in so they could get filled up. My queen is busy busy, usually going from cell to cell, laying eggs, and being attended by a circle of female bees. There is lots of different stages of brood, (larvae), as well as pollen stores and sugar syrup stored in the corners. I am looking forward to putting on the next brood super.

We've had predator issues this past month. We've lost some full grown ducks to ravens. Total bummer, as three were good layers, and one was sitting on eggs. Now we are down to our three Pekings. At first we didn't have woven mesh cloth over the top of their pen, then we got it back up and still had a raven get in somehow. Then we lost a couple chickens to a fox. I hadn't done head count at night, and didn't realize a couple ladies were still out... Then yesterday I'd let all the birds out for the day as we've been doing when we are here and mostly outside all day. Avery and I were headed out to check on the goats and I see a fox wrestling with a chicken- at like ten/ eleven a.m.! So I chased the fox off and the chicken survived. I superglued a three inch tear in her breast- we'll see if she makes it. Dustin has a hunting/trapping license. We have never had to shoot any predators before. The ravens are off limits/against the law, but we could shoot the fox. We have been discussing the idea of a live trap...

Dustin is heading down to Chitina to dip net for Copper River Red Salmon. The forecast is looking good: lots of fish are heading up the river so there is an additional supplemental (we can get forty reds?39?/ one king) also, the water levels are low which makes catching the fish easier. The weather has been nice down there but sounds like that is changing. So, maybe in a couple days we will have our fish for the year- which is so exciting. Usually we get our salmon at the end of the summer, they are bigger, the crowds have died down. This is Dustin's last chance to go for a while as work is picking up. It will be great to have salmon to grill all summer, and not just going into winter with.

The kids and I don't have any big plans; hold down the fort, not loose any more chickens or ducks, milk goats, water garden, enjoy sun and stay fed. This morning I'm going to bust out some food for the day, I'm thinking a potato salad and some sort of baked bean dish, maybe some flatbread dough for grilled flatbreads. I need to get some popsicles going for the kids this afternoon. I also need to hang cheese,clean kitchen and sweep floor, before it get's much nicer out. By late morning I can't be inside anymore. We've got help with milking and farm chores for the next few days...so happy days.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I can't wait to go back through your blog and read more, what you are doing is so amazing. I would love to have milk goats on our farm in the future (we are just building a house and will be building a farm next year) I'd love to know more about your goats. We are in Ontario so climate wise it is great to read about someone else hobby farming in the great white north!

Buttons said...

Oh Emily you sound like you are very busy and I can see the smile on your face. Everything except for the predator problem that is. It is going just the way you planned. We had the wettest May in a hundred years now that I finally got my garden in it has not rained once. Carrying water again.
Take care Emily and enjoy your salmon I am jealous. B