Saturday, May 30, 2009

Before the Carnage

My neighbors and I will begin logging the back three acres on Monday. I have taken vacation from work to assist them. Yesterday, I loaded up on a new chainsaw, 2 gallons of bar oil, tons of two stroke oil, 15 gallons of diesel fuel (for the tractors/excavators) and 5 gallons of mixed fuel for the power saws.

Here it is today, before we start.

The property is going to look at a lot worse before it looks better. We will log the trees, then hire a professional to destump and grade, then rake and clean up, then seed. By next summer, the horses will have a pasture of green grass. This summer and fall, until the snow falls, the horses will likely live in their sacrifice paddocks. It is a sacrifice, alright, but one for the greater good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Last weekend, I got the last of the outdoor garden planted.  We have four rows of peas (two varieties), two rows of beans, four rows of corn, five varieties of squash, zucchini, melon, and four more rows of potatoes.

The greenhouse tomators, peppers, and tomatillos are doing very well, as are the next round of salads.  I finally harvested all the spinach after it bolted due to a greenhouse accident.  The fan was unplugged for a day and the spinach decided NOW was the time.  The cabbage is still going strong, growing visibly each day.

Next week, we will start logging the back three acres.  I also have flagged a few trees around the outside garden to allow more precious sunlight.  

I am very busy, but very pleased so far.  It's an enormous relief to be done with planting.  Now I just need to weed and fertilize and watch it all grow.

Friday, May 22, 2009


More pictures of the farm today. I believe that we are heading fast and furious into summer. Today was the second day up into the 80s F (mid 20s C) and all the animals were feeling the heat. The natural spring which has fed the water trough through the depths of winter is little more than a steady drip. I can't believe I am saying this considering soggy last week, but I am hoping for rain tomorrow. I've watered the greenhouse twice today and outdoors garden has a sprinkler on it now.

Enjoy the pictures and have a great weekend, everyone.

Summer chicken coop

Coop and horses hiding in the shade

The wee chicklins enjoying their new outdoor home

It's a hard life. Notice the snoozer in the middle.

Sleepy chicklin.

Greenhouse in full sun, thankfully.

The East lawn.

The back porch, where I will be enjoying cerveza this weekend.

Critters abound on the farm, witness Busy Bee and Mr. Toad.

Champ's Cherry is growing like gangbusters

The previous occupants were fans of hostas and this pretty groundcover

Chickenistas enjoy the sun during their daily sunbath.

South lawn looking towards the barn.

The barn is small, but I love it. The rock wall with ferns makes the look.

Next month's salad.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

First Harvest

It finally happened. I made food!

Today we harvested Kale from the greenhouse. We carefully cut away the outside leaves of the plant and leaving the rest to grow more. In total, we collected 3/4 lb (340 grams, 12 oz) of Kale. That's a lot of Kale!!

The Kale was tender and delicious raw, and tasted like most brassicas. I can't wait to savor it cooked. The celebratory dish is a soup made from homemade lamb stock, chorizo, corn, onion and, of course, Kale. The chorizo was purchased locally at a farmer's market.

The spinach in the greenhouse is also looking about right, so I am looking forward to some fresh spinach later in the week. I've also started my rotation of lettuces. It should be 30 days to baby greens so I have a rotation of romaine, mesclune, flame lettuce, spinach, and other greens going in the green house. We should be in fresh salads nearly everyday later in the summer.

To help things along in the outdoor garden, my neighbor came over and taught me how to fell a large maple that was eclipsing the morning sun. He also sharpened my saw with a nifty power tool. I learned a lot, namely that felling trees is crazy dangerous work, but we will begin reaping the benefits on the garden tomorrow morning.

Like all endeavors worth doing, there's so much to do. But tonight I will finally begin to savor the fruits of my labor. Bon App├ętit!

Kicking the Kids Out

My Speckled Sussex chicks are six weeks old and it's time for them to go to college. That is, get those stinky dinosaurs out of my basement!

We constructed a temporary chicken pen out of horse stock panels that will be their home away from home until they are big enough to be integrated with the existing adult flock, about four months. The pen has shelter, roosts, a heat lamp, and is surrounded by hot electric tape.

My Wyandottes and Cuckoo Marans are four weeks old and will be joining the Speckled Sussex sometime this week. I am hoping I can integrate the two young flocks successfully so they can band up before I let them out with the adults. In the meantime, they get acclimated to a New England spring and summer, get to scratch around on the ground, and generally start their lives as real outdoor chickens.

Speckled Sussex pullet.

Four week olds in their brooder.

Parrot and Oreo hanging out on the edge of the brooder.

The edge of the brooder is a popular resting spot. They never leave it, just turn around and jump back in.

Darth Maul on my shoulder. This chick will fly out of the brooder to land on you and go to sleep. This one is a keeper, regardless of sex (but I think it's a she!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Viability of Micro-Farms

At just 5.5 acres, I consider my farm small, especially considering that only about 2.5 acres of it is usable right now.  Things are just getting started, but I feel pretty confident that eventually, my small piece of land can provide 70% of required food for two adults.  My goal is to provide food, not to make a living.  Which begs the question, can micro farms do both?

I ran across an interesting post about the vaibility of small farms.  I thought the profit/acre anecdote was particularly interesting.  This is just a single datum point, but it is a datum point.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Too Long

I am a bad blogger. It's been way too long since a decent update. I got home today and grabbed the camera. So here we are in May... things are growing, there is hope.

First, we got two fruit trees from the county extension: A Champ Black Cherry and a Quincy Garnet Beauty Peach. They don't look like much now, but they are going to be spectacular additions to the homestead.

Plants in the greenhouse are very happy. Plants outside are not so much. We got fish emulsion fertilizer to help things along since we lost a winter's worth of compost.

I am way behind in my planting. I need to plant seed to replace my fried herbs, my next salad green rotation, more peas, more beans, more... everything.

The Quincy peach.

Signs of spring in the peach.

The Champ cherry.

Asparagus is UP!!!

Strawberries donated by a friend in their new home.

Greenhouse Kale. Very happy Kale.

Greenhouse spinach.

Greenhouse Broccoli.

A permanent resident of the greenhouse. Please leave name suggestions in the comments.

A feral strawberry patch near the terrace in the front yard.

A Japanese Maple. Just wait until the fall on this one. Stunning.

A big bumble bee visits the Azaleas.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

So not me

This has nothing to do with me.  Nope, nada, nothing.

Nothing to see here.  *whistling*

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Whole Week

It's been a whole week since I last posted and I apologize for the silence. As expected, I am crazy busy between work, El Brego, and farm life.

Amazing progress continues to be made on the farm. My eleven laying hens have settled into an easy 9 eggs a day rhythm. They love free ranging around the farm and they appear to be very happy chickens, which of course is important to me.

The chicklins are about a week away from being moved outside to a temporary pen until they are big enough to either be butchered or integrated with the laying flock. I've been lucky and have not lost a single one of the thirty two.

The plants inside the greenhouse are growing like gangbusters. The plants outside are just now starting to perk up. I've got potatoes and peas up, way up, but something amiss has happened to my onions. They have yet to make an appearance. My neighbors also have a garden plot and are not so smug as me so they use conventional fertilizers and seedlings bought from Agway. And I have to say that they are kicking my ass right now. Not only is their garden patch mysteriously weed free, but their plants are bigger by far. So, I am on the hunt for some organic fertilizer to give my little ones a boost.

In other fabulous news, a woman who contacted me from this blog stopped by this weekend and put her and her husband's sweat equity into my little farm. They came bearing beautiful strawberry plants and quickly made themselves busy cleaning up the place. They helped us plant the strawberries, tear out raspberries from the terraces, cut down Sumac, teach me how to safely operate a chainsaw, chop out tree roots blocking some drainage pipes, and otherwise educate and entertain. I am truly indebted to their kindness and willingness to help a complete stranger make sense of it all. I hope to see them again soon!

The logging of the back pasture will being in the next few weeks. I can't wait to have beautiful green pasture. Driving around the area, you can see these deeply green lush fields which were hand carved out of the New Hampshire forest generations ago. I only hope to achieve the same success on a small scale here on the farm.