Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Busy Weekend

We spent the whole weekend outside, dragging in around dark. Grass is growing at a fast rate from all the rain and the weeds are even faster. Mowing and weed eating were top priorities. I have yet to finish cleaning out all of the flower beds from debris and leaves from the winter. Another must do. I got all but 2 finished and still have some pots to fill.

We checked the bees. One queen was out and the other was not. We are supposed to go back in on Tuesday,

We also finished transplanting all the the strawberries. Turned out to be a very nice long row and berries are starting to ripen. We got a nice rain shower on them afterwards so that should help them settle in.
Of course all this was done in between feeding,milking and lamb checks! Lots of long treks across the fields led to some exciting baby discoveries. Today 4 sets of twins! Sadly I lost one due to a bad presentation and by the time I found the mama he was dead. I had to finish helping her deliver.
As usual they weren't up for much in the way of pics but here are a few of the new cuties!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More Lambs!

Lambs are appearing at a rapid rate! 3 sets of twins and a single in the last couple of days!

Bees, Once Again

We are once again adding bees to the homestead. I love them and have missed them since we lost our last hive. I now have a third generation bee keeper that is willing to offer his wisdom and experience so I am very hopeful things will go well and with any luck add more hives next year.

I picked them up yesterday afternoon late and we installed the packages in the misty rain. Today they are very busy. Hopefully releasing the queen and building out brood chambers!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Soap Unmolding

I am super excited on how pretty my soaps turned out! Its raining today and the house is dark so pictures here don't really do them justice.
This one is one of the few fragrance oils I still use called Russian tea. It is wildly popular and sells out every time. It colors itself this beautiful orange color.
This was a new color I tried. At trace I swirled some spirulina powder in it. Love this bright green!!
The orange turned out nicely as well. The turmeric and calendula added a nice color with specks of the ground flower throughout.
And lastly another favorite, my rosemary tea tree. I colored it with green clay. Makes a great facial cleansing soap. Though it looks gray it a mossy shade of green. I crossed posted this with our Facebook page since the colors show up much nicer on it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Herbs All Dried

 The large pile of herbs harvested last weekend has dried and this is what I have.
and lemon thyme.
I will give them another day or so and then will jar them up and label.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Rainy Wednesday

I awoke to a cool rainy spring morning. I enjoyed a little extra coffee and got busy making soap. My stores are out and so am I. A few hours later 8 blocks were poured and ready to cure.
I tried some new natural colorants this go round. One is swirled with spirulina powder. Another colored with green clay and lastly a bergamont orange colored with turmeric and ground calendula flowers! Can't wait for the un-molding.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Garden

This afternoon was spent getting the big garden in. It is the first time that we have had a dry stretch and the ground was finally workable. Rain is in the forecast again this week so we had to get busy!
Earlier today I raided Sis's greenhouse and came home with a truckload of plants. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and a variety of herbs were hauled home. Most of the herbs were tucked into the beds by the house. Extra basil was planted in the garden.
Hubby planted seeds while I stuck plants in the ground.
What did we plant?
Four varieties of green beans- one to can and 3 colors of filet beans. Green, purple and yellow. Some we will eat and some will be sold. 2 varieties of beets, yellow and red. 3 long rows of corn. Also carrots. Tomatoes! lots and lots of tomatoes. Better boy of course, my favorite for canning. Also Cherokee Purple, Aunt Ruby's Giant German green, Romas for dehydrating and 4 kinds of cherry tomatoes. Yellow squash, Zucchini and 3 kinds of cucumbers. Peppers- bells, banana, jalapeno, poblano and cayenne. That all done we started transplanting the strawberries and the rain came.
Good start to the garden season!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Harvesting Herbs

The herbs I planted last fall are definitely ready to harvest. I spent the better part of the morning trimming, washing and preparing to dry these pantry staples.
I harvested parsley, sage, lemon thyme and oregano today.
I washed all of the herbs. The oregano, parsley and thyme were laid on paper towels as is. I will strip the branches once dried, The sage I took the leaves off and laid them flat.
They will spend the next little while on the bar until completely dry and then I will jar them for later use.
Once that was done I headed back out to plant a few more edibles in the beds. My cool cactus went in front and center. I planted a lime basil and purple basil beside it. The lime basil has already been clipped to make a citrus vinaigrette to serve over fish. Delicious!! Also a spicy oregano that definitely has a kick to it went in next to the basils.

In the bed next to it I planted 2 horseradish plants. Between them I placed my bay tree. I keep it in the garage during the winter. It needs to be pruned very soon!
Sometime over the next couple of days I will be raiding the greenhouse to finish out the beds.

New Asparagus beds

The asparagus beds we planted a few years ago had to be moved to make room for more pasture for the pigs. I decided to relocate them in the orchard. Today the boys built some new ones and filled them with dirt.
This coming week I will be transplanting them. Not an optimum time but has to be done since the pigs are already helping!

Friday, April 14, 2017

An Unusual Gift

A sweet friend recently told me she had a prickly pear cactus for me. I had no idea what it was but was expecting a cute little cacti like I've seen at Lowe's. Umm..not so!
I arrived home from errands to find this guy on my patio! From what she tells me it is edible, along with the flowers it will produce. So, I must do some research and find some recipes! I can only imagine the look on my family's face when cactus is served for supper!

Monday, April 10, 2017

First Lamb 2017

And so another lambing season has begun. 21 years raising sheep 10 years now with Icelandics. The fun begins. So many colors and patterns!
This fellow here is a spotted black badger. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Poultry Palace

The last few weekends we have been busy revamping the new poultry palace/compound. It was not in a very good place before. Subject to flooding and WAY to easy for escapees to get to the garden. Relocating two old sheds, they now have a laying house and feed storage area. This will keep the squirrels out and is a dry place to store egg cartons. (Front and back view)

They really seem to like it and are blessing us with loads of eggs!

The other old hen house is strictly for roosting. We are adding a cover off the front for a dry place when it rains and to keep a feeder under.
The fence was extended to 8 feet tall. To keep them in and predators out.
 We will be allowing them to range the front field soon in hopes that jumping 4 fences to get to the garden will be way too much trouble. Time will tell.
One more day and that project will be completed. At some point we want to paint the buildings but that is on down the chore list. For now it is functional and that is what matters!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Planting Less Common Berry Bushes

A busy few days on the homestead planting more edible landscaping. This year I have added 2 more Sand Cherry bushes. They reach about 7 feet tall and produce small tart cherries suitable for pies and jams. I have 4 now and hope to have a nice hedgerow in a few years.The 2 from last year are blooming!
I also added 3 more Elderberry bushes to make a total of 4 of them as well. Elderberries are highly medicinal and some studies show they pack more antioxidant power than blueberries.
Another interesting berry is the Service berry which is similar to a blueberry but can tolerate a bit more shade. I tucked 2 of them on the shady side of the orchard.
I am looking forward to trying all these cool new( to me) food sources.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Too Wet To Plow

As I shared in my previous post mother nature has been a beast this year. We have had rain or some form of precipitation about twice a week. Though we need the moisture, it has put us way behind on the early spring garden. I have had 65 lbs of potatoes sitting patiently in the garage for 2 weeks now. With yet more rain in the forecast we decided over the weekend to somewhat of a desperate move. The small garden beside the barn had been turned but was not ready to plant. Hubby hooked up the disk and every few hours for 2 days went through it trying to dry the soil. Though not optimum it dried fairly well and this morning before yet another storm was to roll in I got about 55 lbs of the potatoes in. Mom cut and I planted. I also put in 16 tomatoes and 14 more cabbage. Some cabbage and broccoli had been put in the big garden earlier.
This is an after the storm rolled in pic. You can see water standing between the rows.

It is a muddy mess..again.