Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's Up?

Ask me "What's up?" Go ahead, ask me.


Peas! Peas are up! The first real veggie sown directly outdoors showed up this weekend. And, lo, carrots are also up.

So I planted some more today. Onions, carrots, more peas, more potatoes, turnips. I transplanted cucumbers and pumpkins. It might be early, be the forecast is for HOT, and they were getting root bound in their seed trays. So out they went.

Yesterday, in between getting ready for the show and lessons and bathing the International Horse of Mystery, I wired the greenhouse fan to turn on when needed, based upon a thermostat. Too little too late, the 90 degree record temps fried some spinach, cilantro, and tomato seedlings. Oh well, we'll plant some more.

Lots of work is getting done around the farm, the barn roof is almost finished and it looks awesome! Some drainage work is being done to clear out the spot I hope to use as a compost. The sacrifice areas got more stone dust, leaves got raked, fencing got repaired.

And now, the farm is starting to look presentable. The house is a complete disaster. So off to clean the house. You can call me fat, but you can't call me lazy. :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


A dear reader sent this in:

Farm Fresh movement a growing trend

This, my friends, is called Change. And it is going to happen.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Investing in Asparagus

We made lots of progress around the farm today. We got the front gate installed (we had dismantled it to widen the driveway for the Brego-size trailer). I added a few more tons of stone dust to some low spots in the sacrifice paddock. I moved several mounds of dirt around, consolidating them into a single mound. I planted some seedlings into the outdoor garden: broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach and kale.

But the most exciting thing is that we started our asparagus patch! Last week in the mail, I received 30 crowns of Certified Organic Jersey Giant F1 90% male asparagus. Yep, that's the good stuff. These crowns must have been hand-picked by virgins and rinsed in unicorn tears because they cost a mint.

But no matter, I finally had my crowns so we excavated the asparagus patch. It's in a primo spot, very well drained, good sun, near the greenhouse, tastefully decorated with country kitsch signs.

I am very excited to be eating asparagus... two years from now. It feels like such a real commitment, a real investment, to put asparagus in. It's possible the asparagus will outlive my time on this particular farm. It will surely outlive my shoddily constructed greenhouse. :)

The Patch

Crowns in the furrow

Chickenistas inspect the work

Meat Fail

Those chicklins sure are cute, but there's no hiding the fact that half of them will turn out to be cockerals which means they will be butchered for food on the farm. I think it's important to know where your food comes from and that chicken mcnugget came from a chicken that looks exactly like one of my chicks (if it's not 100% recycled cardboard, that is).

The big difference is that my chicks get fed clean food, clean water and will get to live outdoors and actually BE CHICKENS before they are humanely slaughtered. If you eat meat, you are complicit in the death of an animal, whether at your own hands or by proxy.

This Meat Fail made me laugh, and then it made me very very sad:

Sorry for the terseness of this post, but the reality distortion field that the general population has propagated into the media and beyond gets a little grating sometimes. Know your food, it's the only way to stop the abuse of animals in our industrialized food complex. Give a damn about the animal who gave up its life to nourish your own.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wee Chicklins

For those of you who can see pictures, how do you like them apples??

We got 27 of these yesterday: 21 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, 5 Cuckoo Marans, and 1 freebie (I think it's a Gold Laced Wyandotte). They are very fun, but there's a lot of them. I am not looking forward to managing 27 six week olds.


Can you drop me a note in the comments if you can see the pictures on this blog?

I am experiencing this problem and am at a loss on how to fix it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just like that, I am a farmer

It's been a busy week. I am starting to feel the stress from work and the farm. Years ago, I was diagnosed with adrenal burnout and so now I am highly tuned to my stress reactions. It started about a week ago when all the food I ate tasted too salty. My body is out of balance. Stress hormones, at chronic levels, do bad things to the rest of your chemistry.

So stress is bad, so I took some sick time off of work to spend it on the farm. I can't fix the stress at work (just my attitude towards it), but I can accomplish goals around the farm which takes pressure off. Farming is all about timing, and Spring is an all too short window up here in New Hampshire.

So I was on a mission to get stuff done.

We finished building the beds in the greenhouse. We got the chicklins (In our particular brand of crazy, chicks are called "chicklins" and chickens are called "chickenistas" or just "nistas") out for their first play date in the greenhouse. I want them on dirt as soon as possible to start ingesting all that wonderful bacteria that helps chickens thrive. They got one monitored hour in the 65 degree green house and then back into the brooder.

We got the outdoor garden plot tilled. We ended up not doing the entire disc available, but settled on a 40' x 40' plot, so 1600 SF. That is plenty for this year, believe me. There's still work to do on the terraces, clearing out the overgrown raspberries and making room for some other fruits and veggies (strawberries perhaps?).

Outdoor garden plot as seen from the top of the terraces. Chicken fence only half completed.

I staked and twined the rows, both to keep me straight as I plant, and to provide a tenting structure if needed for me to cold frame any baby crops. When the danger has passed, I will remove the stakes and twine and build bean poles.

I also got two varieties of peas, early onions, and early potatoes in the ground. I planted 5 each of the peas, about ten onions and five each of the potatoes. I will come back in two weeks and plant some more, moving down the row in succession. I am hoping for staggered harvest, or at the very least, to not lose my entire crop to a late frost.

View of the terraces and back up to the house.

Terraces are very overgrown. That's tomorrow's project.

They will be nice one day.

I also planted a few seedlings in the greenhouse, experimenting with the temperatures in it. It may already get too warm in there for the kale, spinach, and broccoli I selected, but that's something I will have to see. Luckily, I have plenty of seedlings, so a little experimentation won't set me back. I have about three weeks to stabilize the temps before the tomatoes and peppers will get transplanted in there.

Beds in the greenhouse and first kale, bottom left.

Seed trays waiting for their day trips into the greenhouse.

In the next few days, my next shipment of spring chicks will arrive: Wyandottes. I spent today getting the brooder in order and transferring the older chicklins to their bigger, better brooder until they are old enough to move to the fenced off area of the greenhouse. We're playing musical chairs with the chicklins, but hopefully this will be the last year I will raise them. I expect broody hens to take on that duty in the future.

Odie is not such a bad fellow.

Wee chicklin brooder setup and ready for the onslaught (26 chicks)

Big chicklin brooder with five Speckled Sussex pullets (I hope)

At 3.5 weeks, they are reaching the fugly stage

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bone Weary

I'm tired. My jet-setting life in programming has left my flesh weak. I keep this list of things to do on my desktop. Right now, there's 32 things on it, mostly related to the farm, like fix pasture drainage and till the garden. I scratched three things off this weekend and added five more. That's kind of what it's like right now.

But I have to be honest, I am unbelievably happy. Once my body catches up to the work, I am going to love this life. I spent the entire day outside today, working on the various projects, watching my seedlings soak up the sun in the greenhouse, fixing little things that have bugged me, cleaning out the garage after the greenhouse project. Oh, and riding my horse. My top priority.

Things are not completely rosy. We got the bad news on Friday that our furnace was done. Over. At 23 years, it died relatively young, but we were told the stunning realization that the previous owners (who occupied the property for 8 years) never maintained it. You know, like they said they did. So the flue was blocked, the burner burnt out, the tank corroded. The furnace finally gasped it's last gasp while leaking oil on the ground and turned itself most resolutely off. Nice.

So tomorrow we get a new furnace to the happy tune of $4800. Close to $5 grand gone, poof, just like that.

But that's life. Even while working out exactly where that money was going to come from, a little from here, and little from there, I realized that we are most lucky. We can pay for it. I am so grateful. Life is grand.

In other farm news, my sister came down on Friday and helped me start more seeds in trays over a warmer. I got all my hot loving plants, like tomatoes and eggplant going. The rest of the seeds will be directly sown, either in the outdoor garden or the greenhouse, which is warming up nicely.

I've got a couple more weeks to clean up and till the outdoor garden. The logging of the forest pasture will begin soon, now that we've got a sacrifice area to stuff the horses in. We're getting a new barn roof in a couple of weeks as well, courtesy of another $4k and some desperately needed hired help.

But for now, I've got a nice glass of summer wine and ice on my knee.

Life is grand.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Greenhouse Fail


I can't have nice things.

But, when I went out to take pictures of the damage (and no, for once it wasn't me), I noticed that the morning's frost left the most beautiful patterns on the greenhouse film. Crystalline. Sometimes beauty shows up in your life in the weirdest places.

Insert some comments about lemons and a refreshing summer beverage.

Seed Saving

I am saving this link mostly for me, in case any of my plants ever make it to maturity.

Saving seeds and saving seeds

I love her blog, by the way. I hope one day to have 1/100th of the wisdom she possesses.