Friday, May 31, 2013

Catch Up Day

This week seemed to fly by. For some reason it was a week where it seemed a million errands had to be run and so days off from the store were spent on the go. I hate those days! Finally today I was able to spend the afternoon at home. So many things to catch up on. Mowing was at the top of the list. Then there was watering. It has been a hot dry week and all the plants are very thirsty.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Well, the hay did get baled today, all 536 bales. The chickens did not get butchered. I woke up with a low grade fever and felt like I had been run over by a truck. grrr...  Later in the day I found 4 strange bites behind my knee, possibly spider bites and I think I may have had some reaction to that. So, I moped around and watched.
The barn loft is filled to the max. Beautiful wonders where all her space went! The barn on the hill is full as well. The total spring count came in at 1351 bales. A record for us!
I fixed a poor man's supper of white beans, slaw and pound cake to feed the boys after a hard day's work.
I felt like such a girl...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Unfortunately we woke to a very light and brief rain shower.Though really no more than a heavy dew, it was enough to push baling out a couple of hours and in doing that meant we lost our help lined up for the day. Baling would have to wait until tomorrow.
Doug headed to work for a while and I headed to the yard. I hauled good dirt to fill the holes he augured for me yesterday and planted the hydrangeas. I got them mulched as well. Yesterday had been very windy so I spent the next couple of hours raking and picking up sticks and debris. Then it was back to the dreaded weeding chores.
When Doug got home, he set up the butchering equipment. We decided tomorrow we would butcher the meat birds at daylight and I would clean up while they got ready to bale hay. It would make for a long day but 2 huge chores would be accomplished.
Lastly we got the tomatoes staked. The posts were driven and the cattle panels hauled in beside the plants. Sometime this week I will get them tied to the panels.
We knocked off at 5:30 to enjoy an early Memorial Day meal with the boys as we knew tomorrow would find us dragging at the end of the day.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

More landscaping was done today. I planted several hostas and a pretty pink hydrangea in the natural area behind the house.
The boys spent part of the day replacing some parts on equipment in preparation for baling, hopefully tomorrow.
I have another 10 Limelight hydrangeas to plant along a wall and Doug was kind enough to use the fence post auger to drill holes for me. Planting those is on tomorrow's list.
The herb bed and the blueberry patch had to be weeded..again. The oregano and sage are ready to harvest and dry.
I took the herb bed and Doug the blueberries.
It was a day of catching up and keeping up with the homestead.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The last hay field was mowed today. We hope to bale Sunday or Monday.

This afternoon I harvested a large handful of garlic scapes, a few spring onions and more berries. This was very exciting because that meant garlic scape pesto would be on the menu tonight! You can see the reicpe here.

Scapes will keep a long time if put in a jar of water so sometime soon  I will make several batches and freeze it for tossing with pasta or as a spread on crackers and bread.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Shearing 2013

The sheep finally got haircuts today! Way overdue, but thankfully the spring has been kind to them by staying cool.
Normally our shearers come as a team but today Jessica sheared alone. We had the sheep corralled in the barn and one by one brought them to her. 2 1/2 hours later, 15 ewes and 1 ram she was done. Good job, Jess!
I trimmed feet as she finished each one and checked eyes for signs of parasites. I only had to worm 4 that were just border line. A huge chore scratched off the list today!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Berry Nice Harvest!

I have picked loads of strawberries over the last couple of days. It is jam making time. I had planned to make it yesterday but Luke's dog had to have some tooth surgery and he did not do very well with the anesthesia. Most of the day was spent worrying, and running back and forth to the vet's office. (he's ok!)
Today I had 30 loaves of bread to bake before heading to work.
The berries sat waiting, washed and capped. Jars were washed, ready to sterilize. I just needed time. My sister offered to make the jam. Yeah! At the end of the day she had 17 lovely jars of strawberry jam. We split it. Many hands make light work.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It was a long garden day. We spent about 6 hours planting and weeding. The "Silver Queen" corn in the upper garden was plowed up and sown again due to the lack of germination. I planted 36 basil plants and a whole row of cutting flowers. Some flowers were started in the greenhouse but most were seeds, a combination of zinnias and sunflowers.
The sugar peas and snow peas are barely 5 inches tall. They are trying to produce, but if every little pod becomes a pea, it will be the saddest Charlie Brown crop ever. Just picture the Christmas tree...

Today I sowed Black Valentine green beans and Red Ripper Crowder Peas. The Red Ripper were seeds from a nearby farmer that has been saving seed for years. Renegade, another green bean, good for canning, was planted as well. More lettuce, radishes, a summer kale, cantaloupe, Cinderella pumpkins and Ledman watermelon went in. Okra was sown too. In the lower garden we sowed 3 rows of "Luscious" corn. The last of the peppers out of the greenhouse were ready to plant, among them Cajun Bells and Alma Paprika.

Every year in the garden is a challenge. This one will be cooler temps and lots of rain. We just continue to plant, pray and hope.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Notes to Self

Tomorrow the balance of the garden will go in. As I was sorting through my seeds, planning where each crop would go, I realized that I most likely would forget which bean was which and what use they provided. For instance, I am trying a new one called Black Valentine, a good bean for canning or it can be dried. Also, Venture, another new one that claims most of the beans come on all at once. All are open pollinated so if we like them, seed will be saved. Then there is Bountiful.. in 1898 Abel Steele won a $25 prize for naming this new variety. It is touted to have heavy crops of excellent quality. This is the year of experimenting, seed saving and prepping for future years.
So, I snipped pics and descriptions of all the seeds I ordered this was actually quite fun. Reminiscences of my "paper doll" days with the Sears and Robuck catalog...
On the tomato page there are descriptions of San Marzano, Amish Paste and Speckled Roman, great sauce tomatoes, all open pollinated as well.
I cut and pasted info on previous victories, such as the Jaune Flamme tomatoes that we planted last year. The plants in the garden are from saved seeds. This wonderful tomato was perfect to roast and freeze for pizzas or make a sauce in the dead of winter.
My "vegetable dolls" are now all categorized and cataloged. A few more are left to track down from catalogs recycled but hopefully this will be a step towards a more organized and productive garden.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Boys Were Busy

We got in late this evening from Wilmington to find all the hay that had been mowed was stacked neatly in the loft. All 818 bales! Luke and I were sad we missed out. We LIKE to put up hay. Much more so than sitting on our duffs in classrooms all day and riding in a vehicle for 4 hours....
Never fear. We have another 5 acre field to put down the next time we have a dry stretch.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I Heard The Rumblings

One would think the boys were a bit strange. They have watched 3 weather stations and checked the Internet numerous times. Yep, it's hay season. For the next few weeks, this is my life. Mow? Don't mow. Chance of rain. Percentage???? 10, 20, 30? Mow? Don't mow.
Trucks were in and out before daylight. I heard loud voices and the banging of metal. Equipment was being prepped, hitched up and ready to go.
Today the first of the fields were dropped, probably about half.
No chance of rain until Friday. Of course, this would be Luke's college orientation this Thursday in Wilmington. After chores are finished late Wednesday eve, Luke, his girlfriend and I will head down and as soon as orientation is done on Thursday, we will driving back in. We will be baling Friday so it looks to be a quick turn around trip.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

The boys were so sweet today. Sleep in, they said. We will help with chores. Today is all about you.
I may have possibly slept a bit later had they not cranked the Gator and sent Luke's dog off the deep end barking. And chore help would be lovely, but they were working on the baler. No matter, I still felt very loved and appreciated.
They did plant some beautiful pink knockout roses for me beside the new patio wall. They also helped in throwing a huge fish fry for all the moms in the family.
The best part of my day was to finally harvest our first handful of strawberries. Warm, sweet and ripe, perfect for an after lunch dessert. I got 1..I had to laugh. Soooo glad this day was all about me. Hope your day was just as blessed!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

With the drier days the lower garden was finally plowed. Once the grass dries a bit, Doug will disk it and then set the rows. Cinderella pumpkins, Ledman watermelons and cantaloupe seeds have been sown in the greenhouse with hopes of having a head start once the garden is ready.
Every single thing that I have purchased, plant wise, is finally in the ground. Well, except for a lone azalea bush that has lived in a pot for two years. Soon, darling, soon...
Among them were red salvia around the fountain, assorted herbs from the green house and a variegated wigelia bush.
I also put some horseradish root in a pot. Not much to see, yet. I should be able to harvest some this fall, but the most pungent roots will be ready in the Spring.
The kale has finally bolted and I need to find time to freeze at least a few packs. I have become quite addicted to kale risotto. I will be sad to see it go..

Friday, May 10, 2013

This week has finally brought some much needed sunshine and dry days. Spirits here on the homestead have been much brighter with the passing of all those gloomy days. The barn was scraped this week in preparation for shearing which was to happen today. Unfortunately it had to be rescheduled but at least the barn is clean!  We are waiting for a dry stretch in the weather as the hay fields are ready to be mowed.
The animals are just dying to get out on the bigger pastures. The baby lambs are growing by leaps and bounds and the health of the ewes is the best it has been due to the cooler spring we have had. I hope this good start will make for an easier summer battling parasites. We will see. A few baby pics to enjoy..

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fencing Finished

The lower garden perimeter fence was finished today. The fencing looks beautiful and the garden looks HUGE! It totally divides the pastures, so, in addition to providing a garden space maybe it will save a few fence breaks this fall when the Icelandic breeding groups go together. One can only hope.
A drive for the tractors to get in with no gates to have to get off and unlatch.
The connector path between fields. All the gates swing to make a pathway to move animals back and forth as well as equipment when needed.
A view from our farm to sis's. Yep.. looks big!
The view back towards us.
Now, we just need some dry days to get it plowed!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Bright Spot

It has been gray and gloomy for days on end and looks to be the same for the next few days. Thankfully the flowers don't seem to care....

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Lower Garden

I heard the truck before I saw it coming down the drive this morning. I did a happy dance in the kitchen because it was loaded with fence wire, posts and gates. The fencing for the lower garden had arrived! The new area will take in about 1/3 of an acre. This combined with our current garden will give us almost 2/3 of an acre of gardening space. Once tilled the lower garden will be planted with the rambling crops like watermelon, cantaloupe and winter squash. It will also be home to several of the different open pollinated crops like green beans, corn and tomatoes. Since the two gardens are a good distance apart we should be able to plant and save the seeds of many different plants. Very exciting!
The garden is located between our house and my sister's, seen in the distance. It will be a family plot and if all goes according to plan we hope to have a hoop house in there somewhere by fall.
Doug's guys were in between jobs this week so they were busy helping with the fence. Today they got the fence posts set.