Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Month of June

June is almost over and with it, hopefully, my blog silence. Despite the rarity of posts, it's been a very busy month. The weather has been, er, difficult. It has rained since June 8. That is 20 consecutive days. Sometimes it rains in the morning, sometimes at night. Sometimes it drizzles, sometimes it hails. Luckily, my little acreage is considered "well drained" so the garden has flourished instead of drowned. Some of my neighbors and friends have not been so lucky.

We are harvesting salad most nights now and can't keep up with the growth. We harvested our first 3 lb head of cabbage and it looks amazing, no rot or bug damage. The tomatoes and tomatillos are in full bloom. The Sweet Ann Sugar peas are about ready, sometime this week. The outdoor cabbage, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are looking like they may produce sometime this fall. The potatoes have been hilled and hilled again and are standing near 3' tall now. The beans are up and climbing up the poles every day.

First cabbage of the year, from the greenhouse.

Not everything turned out as planned. We had a fox steal a hen in broad daylight. We gave chase and he released her, relatively unharmed, but it did prompt me to purchase a .22 rifle. We lost our first batch of cucumbers seedlings and are starting over, but it may be too late. Our strawberries were decimated by our chickens. We placed a net over the plants and that merely slowed the chickens down in their carnage. The greenhouse broccoli got too warm so the heads were stunted. I waited too long to see if they would grow bigger and they ended up flowering. Broccoli produces lovely little yellow flowers. Who knew?

On the chicken front, we've had a definite slow down in egg production. Two hens have gone broody and have to be forcibly removed from the nest. The wee chicklins are not so wee anymore and are getting bigger by the day. We had two wee roosters begin crowing at 10 weeks and were causing mayhem among the rest of the chickens. I decided to butcher them, even though they were small.

Beer can chicken and cabbage fry.

The actual butchering went well. I had expected some pretty horrific things and the whole procedure took 15 minutes per bird and there was no blood, no smell, nothing gross. They dressed to about 2 lb, 3 oz, which is very small. I am expecting better results (near 5 lbs at 12 weeks) from the meaties that arrive in a couple of weeks. One of the roosters was the main course in our first "farm meal" tonight. We ate our rooster, our cabbage, our broccoli, our salad. Of course, butter and salad dressing were from off farm. But I feel like we are making some real progress.

So tonight we raise a glass of wine to the animal gracing our table, and to our vegetables, and to our labor. Cheers!

May you always have a clean shirt, a clear conscience, and enough coins in your pocket to buy a pint!

Monday, June 8, 2009

For Analytical Minds

Some truly smart and analytic people (ok, maybe just one), asked me to post the before and after logging pictures side by side for an in-depth comparison. Click to embiggen either picture.



Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Carnage Ends

The logging operation has come to a halt. Seven days later, the pasture has been cleaned up of major rocks, limbs, branches, and holes filled. The stumps and many rocks remain, but I trust the horses to navigate the clearly visible stumps as effectively as they have navigated the forest prior to logging.

Here is a picture of the effort after Day 5, prior to cleanup but after all the trees were felled.

Although the brown dirt looks garish, we need just a few good rains to green up the place, although we will not be growing any grass of substance until it is limed, fertilized, seeded and rested. Still, the horses are very happy to be back out, and I am very happy to give the horses some much needed "alone" time.

The outdoor garden continues to surprise me. I had all but given up hope for carrots, onions, and turnips, but as I weeded this afternoon with my favorite chicken, I noticed all three were up and doing well. The summer sweet corn and pole beans are also up and the peas are in blossom. The squashes have also come up and the cabbage in the green house is developing heads as big as a softball. Simply amazing.

The outdoor garden is suffering a bit from shade from a huge, ancient oak tree on the south face. I thought long and hard about taking it down to give my garden 8 full hours of sun, but in the end I decided not to. That tree will out live me. It sounds silly to get sentimental over a tree after clearing about 50 from my pasture, but those were mostly scrub pine, a few maples, hemlocks and poplars. I kept the healthy, spectacular trees, like one beech my neighbor taught me how to care for after it suffered a pretty large wound decades ago. And it will be the same for this mighty oak. My garden may have to limp along, but it would be completely selfish of me to cut down a tree that is so incredible in its beauty and age.

My sad garden cannot compare to nature however. While logging, we discovered Lady Slipper, a wild orchid that grows in the forest. Irises also grow wild around here. I have never seen such beauty naturally occurring in a place in which I have been so fortunate to live.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Carnage Continues

Day 4 of logging has completed. Everyone is sore and exhausted but otherwise unharmed. We have one more full day tomorrow where we clean up the corner around the barn and take out a few trees shading the garden.

In five full twelve-hour days, this team of four will not even come close to completing the 1 acre clearing. There are still about 30 trees to go in the two far corners. However, I am very pleased. Wherever you see brown dirt in the picture, imagine tall green grass. That is how it will look in a year.

My Husq chainsaw has been a complete workhorse, chewing up everything I threw at it. It has not quit a single time on me, unlike the Poulin's constant quitting every minute or so. I love my chainsaw, but at the end if this week, I hope to not see it for awhile.

Saturday we will rake and continue cleaning up so it will be safe for horses. Then the fence will go back up in some form, and the horses can get out of their sacrifice paddocks for a week or so. There's some talk of coming back in a month and finishing the back. I am not sure yet how it will go.

After my twelve hour logging shift, I have also been tending the garden. The potatoes got hilled and mulched, the beans and corn are up, and some things got weeded.

Now I am off to take Brego for a quiet walk through the woods to ease his boredom and stretch his legs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall

I am at the tail end of Day 2 of Logginpalooza 2009. The first day involved a lot of training and building of a road for the machinery to move the logs out. Today we were missing one key player, my uphill neighbor. He shall be back tomorrow. Still, the downhill neighbor and we managed to drop quite a few trees.

The clearing is opening up nicely and already the place looks so much better. We have three enormous brush piles that we are going to get a permit to light tonight. In general, the procedure has been to drop the tree, limb in place, drag the trunks out to a clearing for the neighbors to deal with later (they are keeping the wood in exchange for their free labor and expertise), build the brush pile, repeat.

My new saw is a beast and I love it. It's already outperformed my old Poulin by 10000% (approximately). It's a got a 20 in bar on it so it's a bit heavy for my girly, computer nerd arms, but I am able to wield it as needed. Everyone has been very safe and I still have all my limbs.

The plan is to continue logging through Friday or Saturday. Then we will rebuild the fence and let the horses back out, if we can clean it up enough to be safe. The property will be destumped and graded in the next few months, once I can save up enough money.

Cuty cuty


Limby Limby