Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter Getaway Pictures

 Harvesting Macadamia Nuts

Our close friend Rene, explaining the finer details of choosing papayas to pick.

 We played lots of croquet.

 I took this our last morning after doing Yoga Sun Sallutations waiting for it to rise.

We just returned from twenty days in Kaua'i. We timed our vacation perfectly as we were able to enjoy the holidays and have some down time afterwards, and we didn't come back while it was still dark and dreary. Now we are home and the increase in daylight hours and sun intensity since we left is incredible. Today the sun filled our house with bright sunlight all afternoon and we basked in it.

I am recharged and ready to take on the world. Tomorrow we are setting up the first seed starting rack. I'll be starting celery, onions, shallots and leek seed along with some herbs; thyme and oregano. One of my seed starting goals this year is to start some of the less productive crops earlier. I generally pride myself on vegetable seeds at the right time, early enough to get a jump start but not so early that they get leggy or root bound. Now that I have a little more room, I'm planning on transplanting or starting the heat lovers in bigger pots to give them more room, with the intention of having cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers before August - some years we've been eating this crops mid- summer, but not this past summer.

I had a pretty laid back attitude (for me) in regards to the garden this last year (due to hubby away most of the summer and the kids and I trying to maintain balance and harmony around the homestead).... and it showed. My lack of efforts were particularly obvious in regards to soil preparation. Some beds looked good, but a lot of crops could have and should have been bigger and more glorious. It all comes down to hauling compost/er, aged animal bedding, and how little of it I'm up for wheel barrowing up a driveway with kids moaning along behind. See, when we first started clearing land for our garden we did not know we'd be keeping animals, so our hill is poorly planned out; with the garden a work out above the chicken coop and goat pens. How much compost and animal bedding should I be putting on the garden at spring planting? I put on about a dozen wheel barrow full loads, and I'm guessing that needs to be tripled.

I've been wanting to rent a small piece of farm machinery to clear the goat pens, build compost piles and haul bedding up the hill, and I'm hoping that this might be the spring that it gets done. Wouldn't that make my life easier? It comes down to having more money in the spring and for D to get a day or two off with his busy work schedule.

In other exciting news, Dustin brought home our Feed Store's poultry shipment schedule for the spring. Although, I don't know why I'm so excited about it as I'm planning on hatching our own crosses and maybe ordering some Welsummers from a small hatchery. I do know; it is a sign of spring. I've decided to fore go pigs this year as much as I want to take the plunge. I'm trying to practice restraint, which goes for geese and ducks as well, (and sheep and Angoras :)

I will be ordering bees, as well as a handful of turkeys and Cornish cross. And of course we've got bred goats. I've bred six of our seven does, and I'm hoping four or five are expecting kids between April and May. I'm going to try to sell all the doelings as well as a few milkers, with my goal still being to go into winter with four milkers. We no longer have any bucks. We had friends butcher the last adult for meat this month, and we've loaned (maybe permanently) a buckling to some friends. So my morning chores are a piece of cake right now, and can be accomplished in about a half hour; milk two does, feed does grain, hay and water, and haul water and feed to the chickens.

The break from the farm has me inspired to do my best this spring for my animals. I've been holding onto several gallon jars of dried herbs from this summer, and my pregnant does will be getting handfuls of dried nettles and red raspberry leaves on their grain until they kid. I'm also feeding a couple tablespoons of kelp to the bred does along with extra sunflower seeds(1 cup) and alfalfa pellets (2 cups).

The chicken's eggs haven't been as orange as usual, so I'm planning on cleaning out the freezers looking for extra goodies for them, in addition to getting into a sprouting regime for them; time to start sprouting and growing some wheat grass in the windows for the chooks. When I clean out the freezers I put things like Goat stock from 2011, old frozen soups (nothing with poultry), moose scraps intended for dog food, salmon eggs and freezer burnt goat cheese into our backup fridge to thaw, and then feed them over the course of the week.

One last note, I just received an ordering form from a local Goldstream Valley farm selling seed potatoes as well as other vegetable seed; tomatoes, peppers, cukes, turnips etc. I thought I'd share their address for those of you here in the Interior as I was stoked to see a farm offering local heirloom and organic vegetable and flower seed. So here they are: 

Zone 1 Grown 
c/o Pingo Farm
999 Maura Street 
Fairbanks, AK 99709

I'm looking forward to hearing from you guys. What are you excited about? How is your garden and livestock planning going and what changes are you making?


Plickety Cat said...

Hey Emily, it must have been nice to enjoy mild sunny days while the rest of us were suffering up here :D

I'll have to check into Goldstream Valley for our seed potatoes when we're in town since I want to plant a couple of varieties to see which grow best and Ebbeson only sells 5# & 50# bags. I don't have my full garden up, so I simply don't have enough space for more than 5# even though I want a baker, a boiler and fingerling for different uses.

We're hoping to get our garden beds done soon and enough growing data to figure out how much feed we can reasonably grow ourselves before getting our critters. I guess I'll just have to continue vicariously owning chickens and goats through your blog for now LOL! Luckily, we're on flatland in the Tanana valley so don't have to worry about moving anything up or down hills in a wheelbarrow.

Keep up all the good hard work... spring is definitely coming!

Rachel~ At the Butterfly Ball said...

Glad to read that you are back and happy! The Hawaii pictures are gorgeous. I had to laugh at your statement about practicing restraint about getting pigs, geese, ducks etc. I'm in the same boat! If I allowed my enthusiasm to run away with me we'd end up with a zoo of farm animals and a morning animal chore list that stretched all day long with no time for anything else!

Rose said...

Sounds like you have a good plan going. This year I hope to start cross-breeding my dairy does to a meat buck in order to have meaty kids next fall, providing that my bred Boer doe has a buck kid that I can use for breeding. The kid goat market around here is pretty full with several good breeders in the area so I don't need to be adding my kids to the over abundant market. I would rather eat them than take a chance on finding homes for them. I got rid of two goats just this week and feel a lot better about heading into kidding season with extra barn space. My oldest, retired doe who's not good for breeding anymore and my yearling doe who just never amounted to what I was expecting, will be both going to a new farm tomorrow. They will be used to train LGDs and not used for breeding. Yay!

The garden will get a makeover this year. I am finally going to buy electric netting just for the garden. After the deer dug up and ate every single one of my carrots last year, I am ready to get serious! Now that I have a plug in charger for the goat fence, I can use the solar one for just the garden and keep out not only the deer but the resident woodchuck and the turkeys that have moved in.

I love and hate this time of year. I live in Northern NY and we still have 12" of snow on the ground in our Climate Zone 3. The sun is out and it's warmer but it will still be 2 months before I can go in the woods without skis or snowshoes. Bleh!

Well, that's my plan for the year. Have fuN!