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.