New Rose Bush

New Rose Bush

Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011 - Happy New Year

I can't believe it's the last day of the year.  The weather has been so beautiful.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the temperature is in the 60's, and the lenten roses are starting to bloom.  Could it really still be winter?  I think we're in for a very mild winter this year, which suits me just fine.

We've been working for the last two days clearing more land and chopping up trees.  There were so very many of these horrid trees with thorns we had to take down to clear land for the garden.  They are such a pain to chop up - but we have to do it.  We have alot of weeds to get out also and everything is going in the outside woodstove so that thing was cooking yesterday!  It looked like a steam engine most of the time! 

Olivia was able to prepare two beds for spinach and get that all planted.  It probably won't be up until the spring but we'll have a headstart.  We put in wire hoops and covered them with the agribon fabric for protection.  See picture on left!

Happy New Year

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011

What a wonderful Christmas.  The weather was beautiful, the day lovely and fun, and it was just a pure joy to go to church, sing my favorite song: Who is He in Yonder Stall in my favorite way - accapella quartet, open lots of great gifts with a fire going in the fireplace in our newly remodeled family room, and eating a great dinner of fresh venison roast, cheesy potatoes, fresh lettuce from the garden, and crescent rolls! Later in the day we enjoyed dessert of boston cream pie, and many scrumptious cookies.   Liv and I even stayed up until 1:00 a.m. watching Christmas movies!  What fun.

OK, now for the farm and work day today.  That was fun too, but boy am I sore!  We had to start the day with a late breakfast of leftovers and then get out to the pasture and get the llamas in to the inner barnyard.  They were due for their Dectomax shots - a preventative for a parasitic worm when in contact with deer.  I wish we didn't have to give it so often and I wish the llamas were more amiable to us.  Joel helped out David,  Liv and I with rounding them up with a rope in a corner.  Then Liv was able to halter them.  We brushed them out and gave them their shots, with a little work.  I think we put Hokie's halter on too tight and he was in a foul mood the whole time.  Francesca wouldn't have anything to do with getting a halter on at all, so we gave up and just gave her a shot.  She did hit Liv's hand real hard into the wooden fence post when she tried haltering her.  So, after getting all the needles and syringes properly done up, it was all done - good thing.  Now we don't have to do it again until February.

After that it was out by the garden area to clear more land.  Joel is enjoying his new ax we bought him and still loves to work on those muscles, chopping tree after tree.  David used a scythe to clear brush and weeds.  I worked near the fence, clearing limbs from the fallen tree and more weeds, weeds, and more weeds.  It was a very profitable morning, getting alot of the land cleared.

After lunch, I took the riding mower and cut on high all the grass and weeds from the current garden to the large barn - maybe about a 1/4 of an acre of land.  After the first cutting on high, I raked it all up and put it in the established garden beds, then cut again on a lower setting, hoping to run over it with the pushmower and bagger, but that didn't work.  I'll have to rake again, cut lower with the rider, then maybe be able to pick it up again with the bagger to put in the garden.  Alot of work- but it looks great.  The worse part will be the wild blackberries near the garage and fence.  Next, we'll have to rent or purchase a roter tiller.  It's just too large a portion of land to do lasagna beds as I've been doing - which works great for small areas you want to garden.

Looking forward to getting the garage in order soon to set up a large work table and hang my grow lights to start seeds.  I'll need to get cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli  and cauliflower seeds started soon to get it in the ground under tunnels.  Hopefully I'll have enough land ready in February to start alot of cool weather crops under agribond fabric and hoops.

We made a list of things we can sell at our farm stand this year - filling in with alot of baked goods, honey, chicken, eggs and fiber/yarn.  We'll have to do that for a while till the vegie beds get more established and the fruit comes in.  Looking forward to putting in about 150 strawberrie plants this spring, 25 more peach trees and 200 tomatoe plants.  We're thinking of offering work day opportunities to friends and neighbors to help out.  We'll provide meals for a day and plenty of exercise to anyone who wants to come help plant, till, chop wood/limbs, build fencing or run-ins.  There'll be alot to do this Spring! 

My biggest wish and concern right now is getting a large moveable chicken tractor made that will withstand alot to put another batch of laying hens in, with a moveable fence in the new garden area for them to dig up and fertilize that area.  It would be great to have.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011

The longest day of the year today.  It's already blah outside so it won't feel much different.  It's very warm though, making it not feel like Christmas at all.  We're having better luck keeping the woodstove going now, trying to put only small wood in when the weather gets so warm.  It's much better now.  We do have alot of small wood to put in.  Trying to get son out there chopping up branches to put in everyday.  We still have so many piles of branches to break up from the tornado last spring that we just may have to burn up some of the piles come a nice wet day this spring.  We're eager to get the back pasture in order so we need to rid it of the piles.  As soon as it's a little dryer and colder we can at least drive the dodge ram truck in there and load up the big wood to put by the woodstove.

Talking about the pasture.  We had Jack O'Connell from the Department of Agriculture come spend the morning with me last week.  He was very, very helpful in letting us know what we'd qualify for and what we wouldn't right now.  We were hopeing we could get help putting in fencing in the back 6 acres at least because we have the spring running right through the middle of it.  Unfortunately, they can't come in and fence off the water source until there is a problem with the water source.  So we'd have to fence the whole thing around the perimeter and allow the animals to come in and pollute all our drinking water, then they would come in and fix it.  This is how the government works.  Lovely, isn't it? 

Jack did give help on the quality of our pastures, encouraging us to get soil samples and having them analyzed by Virginia Tech which we did.  Then once that is done we'll know how much lime to apply to the fields to get it back to good fescue and not so much broom weed.  The Broomweed evidently is caused by the old tabacco crops depletion of the fields.  He did say that we have pretty good fescue growing right now in the back so that's good.

He was very encouraging also about getting a farmstand going on our property this summer, selling fresh fruit and vegetables.  I'm really excited about it because he was so excited!  He really thinks we'd do well because of our location on such a major highway.  We get a lot of traffic and everyone is so concerned with buying local and eating fresh.  Now, we have the large task of enlarging the garden to 3 or 4 times is size to get it ready for spring plantings.  I had the soil tested near the graveyard especially to put in a peach orchard also.  I think that should do really well too.

There is a government pilot program out there right now for putting in a large hoop house on your property for free that I  would love to do but I wouldn't qualify until I have the business up and running and it may not be offered next year.  We'll see.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23, 2011

Almost Thanksgiving but it's so warm I think Easter should be coming instead.  It's hard to keep the woodstove going in this heat, but it helps to do alot of laundry with the hot water.  Glad David was able to finish picking up all the walnut wood from the two huge trees that were blown down by the tornado this past spring.  Now we have piles of it next to the woodstove to break up and put in.  Olivia and I are in the habit of getting a load of kindling from the many piles dotting our back field every day or so to put in the woodstove also.  We need to get all these piles taken care of before spring so we can have the pasture cleared to fence in for the llamas and sheep next summer.  There's alot more shade in the back than the front for them.  Llamas are not able to handle very much heat at all coming from the mountains of Peru!

Good news!  Our new Sexlink pullets have begun to lay eggs.  It's only one a day - but it's a start.  I couldn't bear the thought of going to the store and buying eggs - yuk!  I was so excited to find that beautiful egg in the coop yesterday.  They are a good size and very dark brown.  Of course it tastes wonderful too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

Fall is definitely a busy time of year here on the farm, but a beautiful one too.  We've enjoyed many days of gorgeous weather - like today.  It's expected to be 73 degrees!  A great day to keep working in the garden - going to plant more lettuce and take out the old plants.

We're continuing the picking up of wood around the property and splitting it or just putting it near the wood pile.  The new outside woodstove is going strong and keeping the house so very, very warm.

Work has finally begun on finishing the family room.  Randy Young is putting in all the trim and it is really looking nice.  Hope it is done for the holidays.

We're continuing to crack all the walnuts we gathered and dried.  It is very very tedious work because you have to pick out all the little pieces.  Is it really worth it?

Saturday was butchering day and David and Olivia took 34 meat chickens and 7 of our laying hens over to our friends the Furhmans to butcher.  We ended up butchering the good layers and not the ones that stopped laying by mistake!  Oops!  David is picking up 10-14 new pullets tonight after work so we hope to have fresh eggs again very soon.  hope they all get along nicely.

The garden is still giving - lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, turnips and swiss chard.  The herbs are all doing very well.  I'm still harvesting alot of wisteria vines to make wreaths and baskets.  Am thinking of a little money-making idea of making and selling Christmas wreaths this year.  We have so much boxwood.  It just might work.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16, 2011

Fall is in full swing around here and  very, very busy.  In fact, I think this is the busiest fall I've ever remembered.  There is so much to do around here that I don't know where to begin each day.  I'm really looking forward to some cold winter evenings to just sit, knit and relax, that's for sure!

We had our first Homeschool Tour here on Friday the 14th.  We had about 35 homeschoolers from Franklin county, including parents come to tour.  I started in the courtyard with a history of the farm, explanation of why we are farming here and then focused on everyone having a job and went around the farm showing the different jobs of all the farm animals. We had a spinning demonstration showing the use of the fiber from the animals and all we've done with dyeing.   It was a lot of fun and from the comments received the children learned alot.  We also added a house tour for many who wanted to see the inside of the house and then most stayed for lunch in the backyard while we did crafts with the children.  Olivia taught felted soap and I helped them make bees wax candles.  Many purchased honey, chicken and eggs so it was very profitable.

With the woodstove in we are now hauling, loading, unloading and chopping wood.  The trench connecting the stove to the house is almost filled in.  David layed a pipe on top of it to eventually put an electrical line out there so we have a light between the stove and the garden.  That'll come in handy since I'm putting in a winter garden.  I'll probably need a light out there to pick in the afternoon once it gets dark early!  I put in more spinach, lettuce and onions yesterday.  I'm still picking tomatoes, peppers, swiss chard, lettuce and sweet potatoes.  The sweet potatoe crop is surprisingly wonderful - great big potatoes I'm baking and freezing for easy heat-up during the winter.  I pulled up my first two peanut plants yesterday and found a good-size handfull of peanuts.  How exciting.  Now I got to find out how long to dry them.

Thursday was finally walnut opening day.  We were disappointed to find many rotted sitting in buckets for a couple of weeks.  I guess you have to open them and dry them as soon as they fall from the tree.  We waited until we had about 8 bushels.  So we lost alot of the nuts and the rest were a mess to peel.  We drove the car over them and then hand-peeled the outer shell.  I went through three pairs of gloves and still stained my hands miserably.  Didn't have the heart to save any shells for dyeing wool.  We'll do that another time.  My hands and back were so sore from bending, picking, and all.  Now we're drying the ones peeled and hopefully will have some to eat!  What an experiment.  We still have more to go.

We are still picking a few chestnuts.  We roasted a few to try them and they are delicious.  Wish the tornadoe didn't take off half of the tree.  We would have had so many more chestnuts to eat.

The new batch of chicks are growing and doing well.  I try to feed them alot because I really need them to be ready to butcher at the beginning of November.

The llamas are so beautiful.  We've been able to catch Lance to take off his halter but the others still don't trust us.  i can't wait till they know us enough to catch, brush and walk each week.  I don't like how stand-offish they are.  They sure look beautiful in the pasture.

New idea.  Have these wisteria vines taking over the yard that need to be cut.  I found out that I can make wreaths and baskets from them!  Now all I have to do is start harvesting those vines late autumn (now) until spring and dry them.  They'll be so much fun to have and work with.  I'm really excited about that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011

The nuts are falling, the nuts are falling and the llamas have arrived.  After waiting several months for the best time, The Ruzicka's came from NJ with three of the most beautiful llamas to guard our sheep.  Francesca, her son Hockus Pockus (nicknamed Hockie), and a former show animal, Lancelot.  How did we end up with two Lance's on our farm?

We put the llamas in the barnyard with the sheep overnight and then in the morning let them all out around 10:00 in the morning.  They thought the sheep were intruders at first, but as the day went on they all got along fine, although not too close.  They sounded the "llama alarm" a couple times during the day, but I'm not sure what for.  In the early afternoon Holly the sheep got out of the pasture and we have no idea how she got out.  It has never happened before.

As for the nuts, walnuts have fallen and fallen for a few days.  We've picked up several bushels of wonderful fresh walnuts.  We'll have to put them in a bag and ride over them with a car in order to open them up and then dry the insides.  We can't wait until we have fresh walnuts on our counter in the nut jar.

The other nuts are much more easy.  The chestnuts are beautiful and easily pop open and fall to the ground for our easy picking.  All I have to do is package them in a paper bag and put in the freezer.  We picked our first basket of chestnuts today.  We do have at least one pecan tree also, but no pecans this year.

Moved the meat chicks to a bigger box in the garage today and they're all nice and clean.  We've lost 2 chicks but still have 34 left.  Can't wait to get them outside in the moving pen, but it's supposed to get really cold again this coming weekend.  I'll have to wait until they have all their old feathers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011

Another rainy day - great to do some planting.  Joel and I dug out an apple tree coming from a bush by the driveway (did someone throw a core in the bushes at one time?)  We dug out a peach tree and maple tree that were coming up by the orchard, but in the wrong place also.  We planted the peach by the other peaches, might as well give it a try.  Who knows - it may have beautiful peaches on it someday.  The maple we put behind the chicken coop- hoping it grows big and tall and one day gives us lovely shade in the backyard.  That would be really nice.

I was able to pick up a bale of peat moss so I could get my german elephant garlic planted, and some perennial onions I purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Company.  Hopefully they'll give us plenty of yummys in the spring and summer next year.

When purchasing the peat moss, I bought a blueberry bush - about 1 1/2 feet tall and a raspberry bush.  I planted both of them in the garden, adding a good dose of peat moss to the holes.  I hope these bushes do better than the ones I put in this past spring.  None of the blueberry or raspberry bushes did anything.  I'm dreaming of berries next year.........

Our hole is now ready for the putting in of our outside woodstove tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011

David spent the weekend getting ready to put our new outside wood stove in.  He had to finish the trench in the crawlspace underneath the living room floor.  Pretty scary down there, but he endured and got most of it done.  He'll finish the last bit this week during the evenings, until we have it ready for Thursday's insulation.

Still picking tomatoes and now some new lettuce is finally coming up.  Have alot of green peppers finally ont he bushes.  I never really got anything from them all summer, but now they are huge!  So glad.

Picked apples today from the trees and am drying slices for the winter.  Also made an apple crisp for dinner for David - his favorite.  Picked basel and sliced it up to freeze for winter use also.  Need to get some more herbs in the freezer before they are all gone.  I'm not sure what herbs will tolerate this southern Virginia climate.  We shall see this year since it will be our first full winter here.

The new kittens are getting so big and cuter than ever.  We have homes for two of them for sure.  Had to put our old cat, Tiny down because of sickness, so now we're down to 7 cats.  Still too much!  But they're all so cute.  It'll hard to part with any of them.  I need to get Kelsey fixed and then her son, Crumble needs shots.  This will have to be done very soon.

The new 35 chicks are doing well.  Drinking, eating, and pooping more and more every day.  It's amazing how quickly they grow.  Had to clean out the brooder yesterday.  I can't wait to get them outside so I don't have to do that anymore.  We're still having a cold spell for September.  It's been cloudy also for days, but no rain.  I wish we could get a downpour and water everything newly transplanted or planted around here.  There's alot going on and alot that needs water!

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011

Can it really be in the middle of the month of September already?  After a week vacation in Wisconsin (being sick most of the time) we came home to alot of work.

The entire lawn had to be cut and trimmed.  The garden had to be picked - still getting many tomatoes and the tomatoes either eaten or frozen.  Juiced some tomatoes today for a yummy lunch!

We purchased and planted 4 new fruit trees today.  One winesap apple, two Georgia peach and one red skinned peach were put into the orchard.  Joel helped dig holes, we mulched them with chicken and sheep manure and they're ready to go!  Can't wait to get more fruit in the coming years.

Woke up at 6:00 a.m. phone ringing that 35 baby chicks were waiting at the post office.  The new meat chickens are now in the brooder with a new heat lamp on them.  Good thing because were having an unusual cold spell right now!  Down to 40 degrees at night. 

Today I put in a bed of spinach and salad greens, while starting some more garden beds after cleaning the sheep barn and chicken coop.  Was able to pick a few apples, but the trees are still full of yellow jackets.  They are everywhere.

Good news!  The trees I thought were pecan trees really are!!!!  The bad news is I don't see any new pecans on them this year!  Do they bear every other year?  I'll have to do some research on that.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31, 2011

Last day of August.  We're sure looking forward to fall.  Would love some rain right now though.  Everything is really, really dry.

We've been very busy, as always.David and Joel will be digging the trench to hook up our outside woodstove this coming holiday weekend. We just had workers here for two days painting all the tin roofs - house and buildings so everything is shiny and beautiful.  It was Bobbi Hood and his crew.  They did great work.  Even painted the trim by the roof, all the shutters and cleaned out all the gutters.    Now we have to finish putting on new storm doors and doing some new windows. It's always something.
The fall garden is getting in. I put in brussel sprouts, caulfilower and cabbage. I have new tomatoes and beans coming in and I put in another patch of green beans. My field peas (those southern things) are doing real well. looking forward to seeing what is in them! Today someone is actually baling the 10 acres next to us so we'll be able to start piling up some hay in the barn for winter feedings. I'll need about 73 bales just for the sheep. A friends is giving us hay from her horse she doesn't need so that will help out too. We may be getting a goat. Gayle, the woman Joel works for, asked if we'd like it. I'll take it if we can milk it!. We're looking into the Raw Milk Cure for Olivia right now and it would be a great thing to have our own goat to milk.
The delicious apples are ripening and almost ready to pick.  The trees are loaded and beautiful.  Hope to purchase some peach trees soon to start filling up the orchard.  We need to purge the old plum and peach trees too.  Something I'll hate to see.  they're all big and beautiful - but very bad fruit.  They need to be purged.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24, 2011

It's hard to believe but yesterday we actually had an earthquake at around 2:00 in the afternoon.  It registered at 5.8.  Liv and I were sitting in the kitchen reading about Egypt and Joel was int he family room.  Everything started rattling and shaking and Joel screamed, "Earthquake!"  We all ran outside and then it stopped.  What an exciting afternoon at Rose Lane Farm.

The sheep are still loving their new pasture.  We had to go up and cover up two trees by the road so they wouldn't eat them.  The one maple that looked like it died actually had little green leaves coming back.  I'm so glad.  It would be wonderful to have a nice big maple up there for shade and noise blocking.  I hope it continues to grow.

Picking alot of hot peppers - but no green sweet peppers.  I made two chili-pepper quiches and put them in the freezer for the winter months when we need some heating up!  Joel picked a great big container of hot peppers from his garden we'll have to start drying.

I picked the last of the cantelope from Olivia's melon garden yesterday and cut them all up and put them in them in the food dryer.  I'm not sure I like the taste.  It says to sprinkle them with sugar that we wanted to avoid.  So we'll see.  We have alot of dried cantelope right now!

I put in more lettuce and broccoli and turnips, finally getting rid of most of the failed corn in the garden.  I need to order perennial onions and my garlic today.  Can't wait to try the onions.  It's fascinating that they'll keep coming back.  I need to get them in a good space, maybe by the back door.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011

Finally have the sheep in a 2 acre pasture and they are loving it.  They still don't go far from the barnyard, but I think they'll eventually make their way.  We need to lock them up in the barnyard at night still because it all doesn't have electric.  We'll wait for the llamas to keep them safe.

We got our 100 plus pounds of lamb meat from the butcher this past week and had marinated lamb chops on the grill.  They melted in our mouths.  It was wonderful!

Picked up 23 chickens butchered at the Grainery also.  Had a wonderful beer can chicken on the grill also.  They really did a great job and will be doing our chickens in November also.  I'm still thinking of adding to that chicken order to get more in the freezer and more to sell.  Corn prices are going up and it will be tougher to feed those chickens soon.

Ruthie and Howard were here for a few days and  Howard helped with part of the fence on Saturday.  We almost have the front done!  Yeh!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

Picked up the chickens from the Bennet's today in Gladys.  They have a beautiful farm with a farm store that we had a blast in.  Was able to purchase pounds of grain, dried beans, locally ground coffee, ect.  The chickens turned out great - most between 4-5 pounds and some even at 6 pounds!  So happy.

We even picked up our first two rabbits to breed from the breeder in Union Hall.  We have a black boy and a gray girl.  They are four months old.  We probably need to pick up one more doe to breed once we get these guys settled in.  I need to find all our rabbit equipment.

Mother-in-law and brother-in-law coming to visit today from NJ.  Will be getting a great big chicken on the grill soon :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17, 2011

Busy still with canning and fencing.  Put up 12 pints of applesauce on Saturday with Olivia.  We picked most of our little gala apple tree.  The apples were splotchy and ugly on the outside, but perfect on the inside.  I could have sliced and frozen them, but we sauced a big jar.

David had 4 days off and really worked on the fence.  We have the whole front road fenced in and then he finished the entire woods side of fence on Tuesday with Joel.  What a blessing.  One more small side by the barn and our whole front 4 acres will be fenced in.  Almost time for the llamas to come - so exciting!

Picked tomatoes and wondered what to do now.  So I had to turn to tomato pudding.  The family is not excited, but they're made and in the freezer.

Took 23 cornish rock chickens to Rick and Betty Bennet for processing last night.  They only process at 2:00 in the morning so they should already be done.  We'll travel back to Gladys tomorrow morning to pick up the birds fresh and ready to cut up or freeze.  Have a few to give away and sell.  The next batch of chicks are coming in September.  I'm so glad we get a break from feeding, watering and moving for a while.  The Bennets only raise meat chickens in the spring and fall and I'm beginning to think that's the best idea around here.  The summer is too stressful on them and it's so difficult to keep them watered.  Next year we'd like to try 50 in the spring and 50 in the fall and be done with it.  It'll be eaisier to get away in the summer too.

Time to get fall crops in the garden.  I did put in a planting of lettuce and carrots already.  Need to get in my cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli for the fall.  I want to put in plantings of greens each week from now through September to ensure a steady supply of lettuce on the table.  Hopefully, we can travel to that great little greenhouse up in Wirtz to get some vegies to plant when we go to pick up the sheep meat from J & P Butchers.

Purchased a riding lawnmower on Saturday from Coast to Coast Small Engine Repair.  We've been giving them alot of business fixing our push mower and weed wacker.  They had a great used Cub Cadet we purchased.  It's really great to get the paths down to the pond done again.  Hope to have Joel pick up some downed branches and trees today to finish the path from the pond to the spring house.  It's such a nice walk down there.

Made these Pecan Bars for our Bible Study Picnic yesterday:
Crust: 2/3 c. confectioners' sugar
            2 cups flour
            1/2 pound (2 sticks) softened butter
Mix together and pat in 9x13 pan.  Bake 350 degrees for 20 min.  Remove from oven.

Topping:  2/3 cup melted butter
                   1/2 cup honey
                 3 tablespoons heavy cream
                  1/2 cup brown sugar
                 3 1/2 cups shelled pecans (used walnuts), coarsely chopped
Mix and spread over crust.  Bake 25 min.  Cool.

I thought they were too buttery, but everyone loved them.  Took a tomato pie also that turned out well.  Everyone seemed to have an abundance of tomatoes to share in our meal.  What fun.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9, 2011

Took two sheep to J&P Butcher shop last night.  What a nightmare trying to get them loaded.  They are so wild.  We had to corner them and David grabbed them while I tried helping to get them on their butts so we could grab their legs and carry them to dog crates.  It was really hard.  I was so stressed out about it all I got a horrible headache.  Luckily getting them out was a breeze - because we put them in butt first.  They just jumped out and into the waiting pen.  It was nice to have a chute for them to go down into also.

The rest of the day yesterday and today was taken up with canning - 11 quarts of apple pie filling and 5 quarts of tomatoes and trying to get the lawn mower fixed.  It took a couple of tries but the lawnmower now has a new pull start and spring and the weed wacker had the throttle fixed.  We should be all set.

Was able to get alot of weeding done because even though it's 90 plus degrees there's a nice breeze blowing and it doesn't feel that humid.  I planted a couple more spots of lettuce and carrots too.  I hope it all comes up.  Waiting for cabbage and broccoli to grow big enough to transplant in the main gardens.

Picked okra and sauted it with onions, zucchini and tomatoes. It's really good when it's sliced thin and the okra is little.

Bought two new halters today from Tractor Supply for the sheep.  Can't wait to HALTER TRAIN all the sheep so we won't have to go through what we did Monday night. 

Scheduled butchering date for this batch of chickens for next week in Gladys.  Ordered the last batch of chicks for September 13th.  It'll be a little easier when the weather is cooler I think.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7, 2011

Lightening Strikes!  No, literally, it struck somewhere very close to the house last night.  It fried our electric fence, leaving my sheep defenseless all night.  It also has done something to our telephone.  We're not sure what yet and if it can be fixed or not.  We're working on it.

It also tripped the breaker to the electric in the garage.  Luckily I went out to the garage to get a package of hamburger for lunch and found all the electric out.  I would have really cried if I lost everything in my freezer.  It's stuffed to the top with chicken, beef, tomatoes and fruit.  I do hope that never happens again.

We luckily were given a new electric fence box from Gene Suggs at church so David is hooking that up right now.

Had our first two sheep shorn on Friday, so that we can get them to J&P Butchers on Monday night.  Looking forward to marinated lamb chops on the grill soon!  The fiber was pretty bad.  They may be a Catawba Sheep mix so the fiber was more like hair on some parts.  I'm glad I'm butchering them.  We still don't have enough pasture for 5 sheep.  The third new sheep I'll butcher in the Spring.

Talking about fencing, David and Joel were able to put up the first part on the woven wire on the fence in the front pasture!  So excited.  The sheep really need more to eat.

Still getting alot of tomatoes from the garden.  Froze 4 tomatoe tarts last week.  Will probably dry more tomatoes this week.  Should I make more salsa too?  Probably a good idea.  Great to take to parties.  Just picked apples and peaches at Fruit Hill Orchard so will be doing some canned apple filling tonight or tomorrow.

The lawnmover broke - the pull ripped right out so will have to get that fixed on Monday.  It finally rained a bit yesterday and I really have alot of grass to cut.  May have to use the weedwacker for a while.

One more week till I can get this batch of chicken to the butcher.  They are nice and plumb right now.  Hopefully I can get them even more stuffed before butchering.

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25, 2011

More and more hot days torment us right now.  Was really thankful for the wonderful weather in May, June and most of July!  Storm finally came through last night, but as a result knocked down part of the fence, scattered branches and killed three meat chickens - or was it the heat?  Anyway, three are gone, now down to 23 from this batch.  They're growing fast and we'll butcher at 8 weeks.  Don't think they can hold on longer than that.  Would like to get the coop in the shade - think it will help greatly.

Harvested 200 pounds of honey this past weekend!  David worked hard to get it all done and cleaned up before the storm hit.  The honey is very dark - maybe from all the clover in the farmer's field next door.  it tastes delicious!

Canned 7 jars of tomatoe sauce this morning, after letting it cook all night in the crockpot.  I love doing it that way - and blending the whole tomatoe with skin and all.,  What ease!  The sauce turned out lovely.  I also cleaned the house and did three loads of laundry, hung it out to dry, and got a zucchini surprise in the crockpot for dinner before it got too hot - around 10:00 a.m.  Still have clothes hanging on the line but that's OK.   Will have to time to pick them and fold them and remake the beds throughout the day.  There is another chance for rain today - sure hope it does.  The more the merrier right now in these "dog days of summer."

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22, 2011

Summer is here for sure now and it's hot!  Way too hot!  The tomatoes are coming in full force - need to can or freeze every day.  Picking green beans every other day - waiting for the next crop to come in already.  Put in a second crop of tomatoes and looking to start the fall garden.  Just read the book aout gardening year round and want to try it.  Will try with low hoops, but hope to put in a high tunnel to walk in and grow crops - at least cool weather crops all winter without heating it.  Looks fun and interesting.  Don't know if it'll profit us - but will give it a try.

The new icelandic sheep I got, Holly, must have caught her horn int he fence and ripped one off last night.  There's blood all down her side.  She won't let me touch her so there's nothing I can do.  She's acting fine, so we'll hope it grows back because the horns are quite lovely.  The blood is what's disgusting.  hope the flies around her don't cause a problem in this heat.  We'll have to watch over her.

Everything needs water right now - it's very, very dry.  Wish a good rain would come and bless our farm.  Need to water a little over everything - left the sprinkler on last Sunday morning when at church and lost our pump to our house.  It took the rest of the day to replenish and get it working again with a little help from the neighbor!  So for good neighbors.

It's honey extracting day tomorrow!  Hope we get alot.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 5, 2011

We've really had alot happen and I havn't kept up like I would like to but here it is in a nutshell:  In the middle of May we had a tonadoe rip through the farm and take down many trees - including an over 100 year old Tulip Poplar that shaded much of the back yard (side yard actually).  The house was fine and we were fine but what a mess.  I lamented over a huge apple tree we lost that was loaded with apples, but found out later it was the worse tree in the orchard - always rotten apples!  It was weeks of cleanup after that with a big group of workers coming from Fluvanna Baptist with chainsaws and lunch provided by Morgan's Baptist.  What a time!

The garden is producing alot.  We've had a bumper crop of zucchini and it's still coming.  Still have a problem with squash bugs everywhere.  I need a better organic spray.  Hope to find one.  The tomatoes and beans are just coming in and lettuce and peas are done - but we got alot.  It was great.  I put in a later field pea and dry peas and beans but not much is coming up because of lack of rain.  I need to get my drip irrigation going.  I found out nothing will make it without irrigation down here.

The rest of our time has been spent on putting up perimeter fencing in the front 4 acre pasture.  We had to cut some trees in the way this past weekend.  Joel has been helping immensely in pounding in the fence posts.  We rented an auger for the wooden posts - but needed to dig every hole even deeper.  Two of the three gates are up in the field.  I can't wait for it to be done.

We lost several chickens to a stupid dog (he's gone) and possums.  We now have a beautiful retired breeding collie - Lancelot - from Blessed Acres Farm.  He's gorgeous and wonderful - takes care of the animals and chases away the deer.  We love him.  Hope he doesn't get killed on the road.  Every once in a while he runs for the old store across the road.  Something is obviously living under there.

Besides Sweet Pea and Lilly, we now have Holly, Rose and Bluebell - three icelandic sheep we got from the Furhmans.  They are beautiful and all getting along well.  We have them int he Premier 1 electric fencing and so far it's working out.

The first batch of meat chickens were a heritage breed I'll never try again.  They were so puny - after 12 weeks of trauma and feeding.  What a disappointment!  The next batch or Cornish Rock meat chickens are in the chicken tractor and have three more weeks to go before butchering.  I'm going to feed them ALOT!  Looking forward to some great chicken on the grill!

Purchased an outside wood stove - a Hardy - this past week to burn all the wood from the storm and hopefully have a warm house this winter.  Looking forward to that!

The flowers are incredible.  Sandy Lane came over two weeks ago and gave me a tour of everything including hibiscus which are blooming right now, sea lavender, indigo, pistachio, another mulberry, smoke tree, mimosa, hops and so much more.  This yard is full of incredible plants that are found only in Botanical Gardens!  What a gem the Lord has given us.  There are many plants to dry and make wreaths with.  I'm dryin lavender and sea lavender right now.  Need to pick the artemesus and more soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Fun continues

Planted many sweet potato plants today I purchased on the way home from co-op yesterday at a Mennonite Farm.  They were very cheap but I hope they grow.  I've always wanted to grow sweet potoates and that's all we eat now.  Got more herbs in also today.

Having trouble keeping the sheep from getting tangled in the fencing.  We need to electrify it but it's not working.  Hope we don't have to send it all back.

The third dog didn't work out - killed and ate a chicken in the backyard while we were at co-op.  He took a ride.  Should we go back to a lab?

Roses and smell good flowers are blooming everywhere.  there are peonies blooming in the cemetery but not the flower garden yet - hopefully soon.  I have fresh boquets of flowers in every room of the downstairs.  It's splendid.

The kittens are growing so fast.  They're roaming all over the place now. 

Only one of the blueberry bushes made it so far and only one of the two grape vines I put in.  that's farming!

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011

Has a month gone by????? We've been so busy.  The lawn is needing to be cut alot - alot of rain.  We're slowly getting our "lasagna" garden in.  I hate how ugley it looks the first year or so.  I'll be expanding it every year until I can get 50' by 50' all filled up - pretty easy.  Trying to find topsoil for the beds of compost from around the farm.  I haul two wheelbarrows full each day - or try to!

We're picking lettuce and spinach from the cold frames now.  Delicious!  The broccoli came up real well and they're under cover in the garden.  Peas and onions all coming up.  Have several tomatoes in and getting more tomorrow.  Planted strawberries and put in cucumbers on a trellis today.

Sweet pea is growing big.  Have a beautiful barnyard fence now.  Got a new dog - Duke.  A mutt.  He needs alot of training - but Sweet Pea is'nt alone.  Will hopefully be picking up another Ramboullet on Sunday for a companion.  Will get another ewe.  Have to wait another year before breeding them.  That'll give us more time for fencing.  The estimates came in real high for the perimeter fence so we'll be putting it in ourselves.   Need to order a temporary fence today from Premier.  Visited Unplanned Peacocock Farm today and that's almost all she uses.  It'll get us by for a while.  Right now I'm staking Sweet out in some fresh grass during the day.

One grape vine came up and the other didn't grow.  All the trees I planted on either side of the driveway are thriving.  Wonder what they are.  Putting in a Tulip Poplar in the pasture for shade for the animals tonight.  Added two elderberry bushes and three evening primroses - favorites!  My rose bush from Ash Lawn in in full bloom and gorgeous right now.  The wisteria arbor bloomed and is done.  Not many lilacs blossomed - very disappointed.  I don't think they get enough sun.

It smells like a heavenly paradise when you walk out the door!  I love it here!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 28, 2011

What a sad day.  Hobo, our new dog was killed by a truck on his way to chase the mail man.  We tried and tried to train that silly dog not to chase cars, but it was in his blood.  We buried him next to Max's grave in our now pet cemetary!

March 26, 2011

Rainy and cold.  How could this have happened?  It's been such a beautiful spring.  But now the weather has changed and I don't even feel like working outside.  Nevertheless, the sheep pen and chicken house needed to be cleaned out which was done.  New bedding is always good.  Plus I love the poo in my garden!  Joel helped haul some logs over to the garden area to work on our split-rail fence.  It's coming along nicely but I  think I've run out of a cut log source.  I looked in the woods but nothing seems like it's going to work.  I'll have to check the whole property again.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19, 2011

I read recently in my frugal gardening book that you can take prunings or cuttings from certain bushes and stick them in the ground and they will root and produce more bushes.  I went around the farm and cut butterfly bushes, rose bushes, and hydrangeas and tried it out in a garden bed that was empty in the back of the house.  We hope that the author told the truth and in a few years we will have more bushes in that empty patch.  I also heard that the Old City Cemetary in Lynchburg, Va has the oldest rose bushes in the country.  You can buy cuttings from the cemetary to plant in your yard.  I'd love some of those bushes!

I'm very surprised that there are no forsythia in the entire farm.  I would really love some cuttings from those bushes to plant and add some more spring color.  I love that yellow! 

Sweet Pea is really taking to her halter and walking well.  We searched for fiddlehead ferns by the stream and pond again.  Not a sign, but the skunk cabbage are opening up.  I really would like to try cooking up a batch or fiddleheads.  They are supposed to taste like asparagus!

Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18, 2011

A beautiful spring day of 75 degree weather.  It was time to check the cold frames and get some more peppers planted.  Started hot peppers in plastic milk jugs inside too.  I think I've finally decided on a place for the asparagus patch and it's time to get that started.  I also have some more garlic I really need to put in or it will be too late.  We had the delicacy of kale chips for lunch today which turned out to be marvelous!  I now have to get some kale seeds and plant bucket loads of it!  The  chickens ran out of feed so it's time for more.  The honey bees love the lenten roses I found out.  The back flower garden is loaded and abuzz with honey bees.  David better get inside that hive this weekend.  It may need another super or be split.  I hope we can have many more hives and alot of honey this summer!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rose Lane Farm: March 15th, 2011

Rose Lane Farm: March 15th, 2011: "The Ides of March. Today was a good day to get to work and fence in an outdoor area for the chickens. After walking out the fron..."

March 15th, 2011

The Ides of March.  Today was a good day to get to work and fence in an outdoor area for the chickens.  After walking out the front door and seeing chicken poooo all over the front porch, and my flower gardens dug up everywhere, it was time!!!  Olivia and Joel helped as we cut the wire, pieced together the wire and then stapled is around the barn overhang area.  We still need a hatch for them to enter from the inside pen and a nice gate to go in and out ourselves, but for now they are caged in and won't destroy my flower gardens!  The guinea hens are quite disturbed to lose their pals, but they'll adjust. 

Last night I took advantage of the extended daylight hours due to the time change this past weekend.  I was able to plant more rhubarb, two plantings of horseradish and of  course, more peonies.  I do love peonies.  They are the flowers of the gods - aren't they?  I don't think I could live without peonies.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 13, 2011

Joe and Dan Mallory joined us after church today and after a picnic lunch outside of chicken fingers, we got alot of work done.  We moved the sheep outside for some much needed grazing and started training her on a halter.  She was so cute.  Joe helped me clean out the sheep pen and lay new straw.  A walk to the pond proved productive.  We found ferns for my science class, skunk cabbage ready to open and some bones, including a whole deer head skull with teeth.  Daniel was thrilled to take it home.  Alot of tadpoles were seen swimming and lizards at the edge.  Daniel can't wait to come back and do some fishing.

Dan also helped me move some of the trees previously planted and I was able to start building a split rail fence around the vegetable garden.

March 5, 2011

A beautiful, warm, cloudy day that was perfect for outside gardening.  Olivia and I were busy, busy, busy.   We dug up from the woods 14 oak tree seedlings and proceeded to plant 13 of them, lining the front pasture and and driveway, plus adding one on the other side of the front pasture.

We gardened also, adding raspberry bushes from Booker T. Park, blueberry bushes from by birthday, and my rhubarb that's been in a pot for a whole year.  We planted also two concord grape bushes near an arbor in the back yard near the chicken coop, surrounding them with wire so the chickens don't scratch them up.


Another month to work on our farm.  The beginning saw the addition of a new dog - Hobo, a beautiful Australian Shepherd which was four years old obtained through a craisglist listing.  He was an indoor dog we attempted to train as an outdoor guard dog.  We've had successes and failure there, but we heard for a dear friend that it is possible to "train an old dog new tricks."  Time will tell.

February 5th was the day we picked up our first sheep - a ramboullet lamb from Anna Seitzer's farm in Union, VA.  What a beautiful little thing!  She was rejected by her mother because of a little weakness, and therefore needed to be bottle-fed for 2 1/2 months.  Anna sold her to us, we picked her up, kept her in the dog's cage at the Lintecum's house for the weekend and then brought her to her new home in a pvc pipe cage in the garage.  Feeding was fun and eventually she began on a little grain.  We fed her 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.  It started to become tiresome to have to be home at those times, and then go out in the rainy cold evening, but everyone helped out - even Joel! 

Orchard pruning began also.  The orchard has apples, pears, plums and peaches which have been neglected terribly.  We began by pruning only dead branches and branches that are touching.  It was a lot of work and made our arms ache.  Joel helped out alot by cutting down many suckers that were growing under some trees and stealing alot of the strength of the main tree.  We're learning as we go along with this orchard!

In the middle of the month we purchased 2 guinea hens from the Hackworths.  They are loud  and messy a little, but quite interesting creatures.  They love to perch on the wisteria arbor.  We hope they clean up all the nasty bugs - especially stink bugs.

At the end of the month Olivia purchased a flock of 10 hens and 1 beautiful rooster - Greg.  They are Road Island Reds and lay large brown eggs - when we can find them.  They free roamed the yard and began to dig up all my lovely flower beds - quite aggravating.  It's hard to keep them away from the house.  We will need to pen them in during the summer I'm afraid.  They began to crawl under their house so we needed to board that off, fearing they were laying their eggs underneath.  They are easy to close up at night and the guineas have taken to them real well, so has Hobo.  Olivia enjoys searching for her eggs and hopes to aquire many customers to sell them to.

Debbie Hackworth wonderfully found some garlic bulbs to plant in the spring from Tractor Supply!  I was so excited to be able to still plant garlic.  I only thought you could plant it in the fall.  I'm so looking forward to fresh garlic and will have to remember to share with her!  I can almost taste those lovely scapes right now!

January 2011

Starting up our farm and our new home was a lot of work.  We began right away to gut the enitre family room in order to insulate and get rid of alot of "1970's" paneling, not to mention the ugliest brick fireplace that was falling off the wall.  David decided to re-wire the entire room, and then extended the elecrical work to other rooms while the walls were open.  He installed new switches, outlets, outside backyard light, and new electrical heaters.

My garden was started by layering the cardboard from all our moving boxes onto the ground and then layering dead leaves, grass clippings, old straw from the barn, and eventually horse and cow manure.  It is lasagna gardening at its best.  The best part is that it can be done in the snow!  We only had two real snowfalls and then diminished quickly with spring coming early.

Farm Established

We moved into Rose Lane Farm on a snowy, icey day in December of 2010.  Being very cold and frazzeled, we were not able to enjoy anything until the movers left and we actually realized that we lived in our dream property!  We couldn't wait to start our new farm.  We unfortunately lost our 9 year old black Lab, Max, the very day we moved in.  He loved to walk along the road and being black and living on a very busy road, he easily met with his demise that very evening.  We buried him in the back yard where 2 months later beautiful lenten roses grew up right on his grave.  He would have loved this farm as much as us.