New Rose Bush

New Rose Bush

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9, 2012

OK, we think we've finally figured her out, then she gets out again.  Yes, we're talking about the black and white striped pig.  She can get out anywhere and anytime.  We've just about had it with her.  We really think we've found the last little, itty bitty place she could possibly be getting out of.....we think.  Time will tell!

Otherwise, we're having fun here on the farm.  The days have been very mild so far this November and December.  We finally had rain, after the driest month on record.  The cave crickets have invaded our house during this drought - not a great thing:
Not a pleasant thing to greet you when you walk in the door - that's for sure.  The good thing  - they don't bite, the bad thing - they multiply like crazy in the crawl space under your house.  Now we know who lives downstairs!

Olivia and I tried something new this year - we did a table at the Come Home For Christmas in Rocky Mount on Friday night.  It was an interesting experience.  The weather again was mild and for that we were very grateful.  We were not prepared with lights which was frustrating sitting in the dark trying to sell honey, jam and yarn!  We ended up doing pretty well actually, with about 4,000 people attending the event.  Don't know if we'll do it again.  This coming Saturday is the Holiday Market at the farm market area.  We'll try again - this time in the daytime with light!

The worse news - we lost our wonderful collie Thursday night.  He was hit by a car and lost his back end function.  We had to put him down and buried him by the pond.  It was one of the most difficult times here on the farm.  He had to have been the greatest dog ever.  He was the most beautiful, friendly, helpful friend anyone could have. He came to greet me every time I drove in the driveway and I greeted him with a kiss!   We are all going to miss him so very much.

Now, for the big problem:  something happened with our water conditioner and did not allow the water from the spring to be pumped up to our house on Thursday and friday.  We bypassed the conditioner and now have water, but the plumber is coming Monday to help us figure out what to do.  The water conditioner, which we have to have with the spring, is probably just too old to function properly anymore.  We're going to have another big bill to deal with!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1, 2012

Well, our second year here on the farm has almost been completed - and what an adventure it has been.  We continue to thank the Lord for all his blessings, especially when we look out at our beautiful farm He has given us. 

Today we continue with fall chores and continue getting ready for winter, although it is in the 60's and sunny!  We are once again moving the pigs - to a bigger area now, enclosing the whole one side of the fence.  Hopefully they'll be happy with more to forage in and have fun in.  We continue to feed them pork maker or livestock feed, along with plenty of pumpkins to devour and a treat of acorns ever once in a while.  They chew the acorns like candy. 

Our orchard got some revitalization today as we trimmed the damson plum trees that have sprouted from the original two trunks we had to take down last fall.  We trimmed them to one lovely trunk and hopefully will find some way to prevent all the succors that take away the energy.  We had to take away the last large apple tree that was taken down further by the wind storm this past summer.  Now we have a lovely pile of apple wood to smoke a very large organic turkey we got from Four Corner's Farm.  I'm thinking of preparing it for New Year's this year because we didn't have Thanksgiving here as usual and we'll have our duck for Christmas dinner.

We continue also to chop up wood so it fits in the stove box.  It can be pretty big, but some need to be done.  David is doing a great job getting a pile ready for me for this week.

We're concerned about our hay.  There's not much to eat in the pasture but the llamas and sheep are not interested in our hay at all.  The problem is it took us so long to find someone to make our hay for us in square bales, then we had to wait for them to be done with their hay before making our hay and of course the weather would not cooperate.  The hay was baled much too late I think.  We may have to plead some better hay from our neighbor.  We'll see.  In the meantime I'm using the hay to feed the rabbits - they love it and we're making a hay bale hut for the pigs!

Our farm market is done for the season, but I have alot of personal orders still every week for honey or fresh greens.  I have homemade soap orders to fill too.  We just made some more this week and will continue as we're doing a table at the big Christmas celebration downtown next Friday.  I'm trying infused hone also - jalapeno, cinnamon and rosemary.  I need to make some boxwood wreaths also to sell.  We have so much wisteria vines for bases and boxwood for the greens. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

The pigs are growing and growing and loving to eat, eat, eat.  They are now in their third pen area, with plenty of grass and weeds and brush to dig up and eat. 

Photo: Pork on my mind...much better than turkey

The black and white one succeeded in getting out of all woven wire fencing, and the three together have proceeded to dig up and under the Premier 1 netted electric fencing, knocking it over and going out to explore new lands.  They're cute - but quite a handful!

David successful extracted 75 more pounds of honey.  This is wonderful since our 160 pounds has almost been sold from the earlier extraction.  Unfortunately we just lost our strongest hive.  We don'e know why - it's all gone - bees, honey, everything just vanished.

Olivia and I had our first experience of butchering turkeys yesterday.  We helped the Reilly's at Four Corner's Farm butcher their last 16 turkeys for thanksgiving sales.  It was a long day and a little cold.  Olivia was an expert gutterer!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012

Picked up 3 piglets from Minter Farm in Floyd last night.  Drove up the mountain as plain ole folk, drove down the mountain as pig farmers.  They are soooo cute.  The mom is Tamworth and pop is Hampshire.  They are a heritage breed from England/Scotland that is used for wonderful meat.  they will forage in the woods and clear land for us which we need desparately.  Diane and Lloyd were wonderful and answered all our questions.  Hope we can do it all right.  Right now we feed them scraps and they forage in the barnyard which is a little overgrown.  As soon as the front pasture is brushhogged we're moving the llamas and sheep up there and the pigs in the back woods.  We'll be moving them around every few weeks so they can get lots cleared for us before butchering in the spring.  Hope it all works out well.

Fall work is still going on.  I'm drying tons of herbs for tea and cooking.  Doing dyeing of wool, making soap and paper and getting the fall and winter garden going.  We have wonderful kale, lettuce, sugar snap peas and swiss chard right now.  I just started digging up sweet potatoes - there is alot!  I have alot of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, turnips, carrots, cilantro,beets and onions planted.  I hope to keep the garden going well into the winter.

We had our hay baled yesterday and was able to get that all picked up and stacked into the barn with the help of Joel and Christine who were home for fall break from Liberty.  Glad to have everyone's help - even Liv's for driving the truck around the field.  I hope 80 bales will be enough.

Blueberry bushes and peach trees will be coming soon to plant.  Can't wait!

Our market is pretty much done I think.  Not many stopping in.  I have alot of orders to fill throughout the week though so income keeps coming which is needed!  Will be planning and starting to get everything ready for the Christmas Market in town in December.  Hope to sell alot of preserves, yarn and greens there.  Will be making boxwood wreaths to sell again also.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15, 2012

So very busy this time of year, not alot of time to write - at least no time to think of writing.  We did get alot done on the farm today and I feel good about that!

We really needed to get some old beds out of the garden - all the tomatoes which were put in one of the 25 foot beds with the florida weave needed to get out.  It was really looking bad and I need the room.  David got all the twine, bushes, t-posts and plastic out - giving me a nice fresh clean bed to work with.  I put in alot of mesclun, lettuce, romaine, buttercruch etc.  Almost was able to fill the whole bed.  I'd like to get some more spinach and finish filling it in for fall and winter greens.

I already have alot of broccoli and cabbage coming up - three beds full.  Hope to have them last this time and not get eaten.  Hoping the bad bugs are pretty done.  It was a very bad summer for bugs because of our super mild winter we had.  Not good at all.  I do have 2 sweet corn coming up - put them in very late just to try and avoid the bugs this year.  Put in a second bed of cucumbers also since I lost my entire bed this year.  I need to get them in alot earlier and hopefully miss the bad heat that cooked them this year.

I have sugar snaps doing great - some great stir fries are coming up this fall with them.  I also have lettuce and cilantro that I put in earlier almost ready to pick.  Kale also is growing good for the fall and turnips.  The beets did not come up well at all.  Not sure why.  I'm also not sure when to start harvesting the celeraic.  It's been growing great a long time.  Sweet potatoes should be ready in a few more weeks also.

We checked out our pear tree and found deformed small pears not worth picking.  The apple tree is pickable, but alot of work to peel and cut off the bad wormy parts.  I did do it for an apple cake that is baking in the oven right now.  The recipe is from Mr. Anderson's mother and is supposed to be real good.  I even had some black walnuts left over from last year for it. 

The wood pile is getting even bigger.  David picked up a tree that fell earlier in the year today and got that chopped up for the pile.  I think it will last a few years.  Can't wait for wood stove weather.

Customers are still coming to our little market.  Met the owner of the Tractor Dealer in town.  Hopefully he gave us a lead on someone who can help us out with bailing our second crop of hay we need for the animals this winter.  It really should be cut and baled now, but we need someone with the right equipment.  Hard to find around here where everyone only has beef cattle and does the big round bales.

Liv is looking into getting some bottle-fed beef calves to raise for profit.  Hope to find some black angus from the livestock auction or on craigslist.  We're looking.

The ram is almost ready - we hope!  He has driven us crazy being separated from the ewes.  He smashed the chicken coop up and all the rabbit cages.  I had to move everyone else out of the barnyard or put up huge metal gates for protection.  He's crazy. I've had success picking him up by his legs and flipping him when he's attacked me, so now I've established dominance with him and can go into the barnyard with him, but I'm the only one.  He's even smashed our dog against the barn wall, so he can't go in with my anymore.

Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31, 2012

Yes, it's been a long time since the last post.  I can't keep up with this blog and keep up with the farm.   The market takes time and the garden is overwhelming.  The animals are pretty minimal upkeep, but I have to keep on the feed needs and such.  We have the ram separated from the ewes right now and getting him ready to breed toward the end of September.  He's not liking being separated one bit.  He smashed the chicken coop door and one wall, rampaged the rabbits and their cages - minimal destruction, but nevertheless irksome.  We have had to set up baracades everywhere so he won't get to either chickens or rabbit areas. 

The garden has had alot of frustration also.  I've finally gotten green beans but they don't taste well at all.  They were supposed to all be bush beans and I ended up with a tangled mess of pole beans.  The second planting of cucumbers havn't done well at all.  I do have lettuce and kale coming up for the fall and am now putting in lots of broccoli and cabbage.  I did one planting of beets, but don't see much happening there.  I'll try again.  I'd like lots of beets this fall.

The pumpkins and butternut squash are getting devasted by aphids.  I've been able to keep them at bay until now.  Unfortunate.  The pumpkins are squash were doing so great, even though I did lose a couple plants in the heat of July.

We started milkey spore treatment in the new orchard area and need to continue in the old orchard and backyard.  Terrible grub problem this past summer.  Hopefully we can have that treated and resolved.

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 20 something

Yes, it's been over a month since writing and recording.  Yes, I am not doing a very good job at this.  Yes, it has been one of the worse months of my life.  Yes, I am alive.

The farm was hit by a horrible storm the day our exchange student came from Spain.  It was around 10:00 at night when the wind started whipping my curtains around the room and I rain downstairs.  Not too much into the wind storm - no rain, but just wind - a huge branch from the lovely large maple in the front yard fell right on the direct power line to our house, taking out the ground wire partially also.  The wire is laying on the ground.  Power surges are going through the house.  Things are going crazy.  Fan motors start burning up.  Appliances stop working.  Some lights are bright - others dim.  Real weird.

Next day, time to clean up.  A little power coming into the house on some things.  Dim lights are there.  David and Joel began taking the branch off the wire while I load water into buckets from the pond and start watering the garden because of the heat and remember - no rain.  From the garden behind the garage I hear a crash and scream and David yelling for me to get Joel to the hospital.  While getting the branch off the wire laying on the ground, another branch falls and hits Joel hard on the side.  Blood and bruising, getting keys, running to the truck, getting Joel in, off to the hosptial. 

Alot going on there with craziness after the storm.  Helicopter bringing in, taking out.  We're seen, after x-rays and ultrasound no internal injuries - on our way home 4 hours later.  Ugh.

Back home things are bleak.  Through the week the power grows less, more appliances are gone, the temperatures soar to the 100's.  Miserable.  I haul water from the pond to water the garden and animals.  We get water from friends for flushing, washing and drinking.  Mitchell's help out immensely as each freezer begins to unthaw with all our freshly butchered meat - pack up and haul to other freezers and refrigerators.  No help in sight.

After 5 days someone from the power company comes out to tell us how dangerous it is to have live wires hanging from the house.  It could cause a fire.  Someone will be here immediately.  Wait.

After 8 days the power company comes and hooks up the wire while we are at friend's house taking showers.  No power yet.  They can't connect because we have to hire electricians to complete the job.  Great disappointment comes when we find a dead llama laying in the back pasture.  Lance could not take the heat.  Neither can I.

After 8 1/2 days electricians come and help us out.  They call all around for a friend to come and connect us.  We have power......but the sad news is the loss:  stove, microwave, all sterios, vcr, wii, clock radio, fans, new garage door opener, driveway alarm, telephone.  All gone.  Homeowners insurance deductable too high to cover anything.

Day 20 something - I finally have my oven working again - after $350 in repair.  We buy two clock radios to wake up to this stuff.  Wow.  A new driveway alarm is finally working again because we have to know when customers come into the yard for our professionalism and safety.  Everything else will have to wait. 

Move wood, cut wood, pile wood, the pile just grows larger and larger.  At least the house will be warm this winter.

More storms come through all month.  Tons of rain now.  Never need to water the garden so that's good.  Cucumbers all turn to moosh though - too much water.  Tomatoes all rot on the bottom - not getting enough water because I had to plant them in black plastic to control the weeds.  Bad mistake.  All zucchini got eaten by something.  Have a ton of bean plants with no beans.  Many customers come and have to be turned away.  Not enough to sell.  Disappointment.

Now you know why I didn't want to write.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22, 2012

Discouraging day: 

1.  June bugs decimating the orchard - 100's and 100's of them.

2.  In the garden found the first Japanese beetles everywhere.

3.  Beautiful cucumber bush eaten by stink bugs - same fate as the cantelope bush yesterday.

4.  June bugs now infesting area behind garden by the barn - 100's of them.

5.  Customer comes for turnip greens - they're all dried up - she's a month late.

6.  Customer comes for 10 bushels of tomatoes - he's going to go to the guy down the road who grows 20,000 bushes!  Can't compete with that.

7.  Customer asks the price of honey.  We sell at the low end in the area because we're pretty secluded, but we have to charge at least $11.00 for a two pound jar and he just bought a quart jar for $11.00 from another beekeeper on the other side of town.  Can't compete with that.

8.  It's very, very hot.

9.  The sheep still not using their new quonset we built for them.  They rather would stand and pant in the sun.  Go figure.

10.  Joel won't share his ramen with me for lunch.

11.  Peter, my favorite cat is looking pretty sick.  He lies helplessly under a bush.

12.  Went to cut the lawn which looks horrible and the belt is broke.  Bought a new built - cost $34.00 - and went to put it on but we have to take the whole deck off the mower before putting the new one on.  Gave up.

13.  David will have to spend his weekend now putting on the new built on the lawnmower.

Things I'm Thankful For:

1.  I made traps with molasses and water and hung them in the fruit trees to capture and drown the june beetles.

2.  I made traps with molasses and water in jars and buried them in the lawn behind the garden to trap the june beetles.

3.  Joel was able to drive to the Small Engine Repair shop and buy the new belt for the lawnmower.  They had it in stock.

4.  Had two customers already today.

5.  Peter left the bush to come to the garden with me.  Maybe he's just having a bad day too.

6.  Joel is making me my own ramen for lunch.

7.  70 bushes of tomatoes are loaded with large green tomatoes to sell.

8.  The sheep did go in their new quonset hut once.

9.  David didn't have anything else planned for this weekend except to put a ceiling fan in Joel's bedroom before we get our exchange student from Spain this week.

10.  It's going to rain and make the lawn grow even more.

11. It's going to be only 88 degrees tomorrow instead of 98.

12.  Got to pick off the first Japanese beetles and throw them violently to their death in a bucket of water.

13.  I'm sitting in front of a nice cool fan.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15, 2012

Alot of new things at Rose Lane Farm.

The llamas and sheep are now enjoying the new pasture behind the house for the summer, full of lush grass and lots of shade:

Which means, the chickens can now enjoy being the barnyard on lovely grass and lots of room:

We also have two new kittens Olivia is really enjoying:

We have alot of new flowers blooming:

and we've had alot of new customers at our farm stand because of new signs we made to put by the road!  It pays to advertise!  We even sold out of beets today!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 10, 2012

The lavender is blooming

The dog is faithfully on duty all around the farm

The bees are enjoying nectar everywhere

We are finally finishing the 6 acre fencing project started in April

But, there's always more work to bee done!!!  Honey extracting is beginning.....the garden needs weeding.....more lettuce to sow......the market to run......angora rabbits coming soon.......thinking about getting milk goats.......

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day, 2012.  We've been so busy, I havn't had time to write or I forget.  The garden is growing, but so are the weeds.  We're looking into getting a Red Dragon propane weed killer.  It's pretty bad out there.  It'll be great to get all the weeds around the new fence lines too.  Looking for one with a dolly for me and a backpack for David. 

With the plants come the bugs.  I have been picking off the harlequin and stink bus and drowning them, but now the worms are getting the cauliflower and I've resorted to sprinkling DE on everything.  Because of the warm, mild winter the bugs are going to be even worse than usual - that means constant attack every day!  Strangest thing in my little kitchen garden by the back door - hundreds and thousands of teeny black bugs are destroying every leaf of the garlic chives.  Not sure if they're mites or thrips.  I've sprinkled the DE all over everything hoping that works - may need to water and drown.  We'll see. 

The new pasture is almost ready.  We're getting the gates ready today and then the electric needs to go on top.  A little more work to do.  Exciting!  Looking for some goats to eat some bad parts to clear.  It is now full of poke berries, locust trees and thistles.  Nasty looking.

Spinach and arugula are done - alot of lettuce is bolting.  I'm trying two new kinds of spinach that is supposed to be good in the summer heat - malabar and new zealand.  Looking forward to getting greens in the summer if it works.  I have beautiful heads of romaine right now.  I have a store in Westlake that is going to buy my produce every week to sell at their little market.  Glad about that.  I can't move it fast enough here at my little farm market opened Thurs., Fri., and Sat.  It's going to take a while to get established.

Pekin ducks are growing and looking great.  They'll be butchered later in June.  Meanwhile, I've enjoyed them so much I'm going to get some ducks as pets for the garden and for eggs - two females and a male.  Should be fun.  We'll be getting two more new kittens in June also.  Peter killed and ate a bunny yesterday - the whole thing!

Olivia is making homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast that look fantastic!  Can't wait to dig in!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29, 2012

DJ and Joel began putting the fencing on all the posts this weekend!  It looks great.  We see the end in sight.  Can't wait to get the animals in the new pasture for the summer.  I wish we had a run-in though.  We ran out of money for building materials.  We'll see how things go.  We really will need something.

The chickens are growing fast.  One of our broody hens sat on a pile of about 20 eggs for 3 weeks, and only one hatched, but is it ever cute!  We named it "Baby."  It's yellow with gray tipped wings.

The ducks are getting big and Joel promised to help me build some type of outdoor coop for them this Wednesday.  We have to get them outside the garage.  They need grass bad.  They smell!

Had a great fieldtrip here for the Moneta co-op on Friday.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  I took them over more of the farm and added a scavenger hunt.  It was fun.  This coming Sunday we have a couple I met from the Dept. of Agriculture coming to take a tour and then in August we have a tour bus coming from the Parks and Rec. Department.

I planted more onions this weekend, and put in the first tomatoes and peppers since it's going to be warm now.  We also were able to get about 100 more shitake mushroom plugs into some wood.  DJ cut the rest of the oak so in 2 weeks we can finsih the plugs.  I can probably get the first logs outside this week too if there's not going to be any more frost.  I need to find the perfect place.

Harvesting alot of greens and having a few sales almost every day.  This Thursday our market here on the farm opens.  We'll be open Thurs., Fri. and Sat. from 9:00 to 5:00.  We have some baking to do.....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21, 2012
Wonderful day to be outside.  I hung out the laundry and got to work on cutting a lot of lawn - trimming around all the new garden beds.  Looks so much better.  Everything grew amazingly with the rain - especially the grass.  After a quick trip to Lowes for black plastic we got the plastic down on the beds we didn't plant after tilling and the grass grew up so big.  Trying to burn out all the yuck.  Joel and I double dug a partial bed yesterday and it was alot of work.  I was able to put in another bed of cilantro and added more carrots.  I covered it well so it didn't get washed out by the rain again.

The strawberry bed is doing well.  I can pick a handful soon.  I had to  add alot of straw mulch to it and everywhere else in the garden.  Trying to get all the pathways done with cardboard and straw too.  Everything is growing well in the hoop house.  I'll need to start planting and making room for more flats.  I purchased sweet banana peppers and tomatoe plants but have them in the hoop house until the threat of frost is past. 

We're picking alot of lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale and swiss chard.  The broccoli was totally disappointing.  The heads are small and going to seed.  They needed more cool weather and alot more rain.  I didn't water enough.  Can't wait to get our irrigation set up.

David and I finally hauled away the huge pile of locust trees we cut down for the pasture.  So glad to have that finally removed.  We put it to the other side of the garden behind the new beehive to wait a good bonfire in the fall!  I'll be glad to burn up those nasty things.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 14, 2012

Yes, it is Friday the 13th, but it was a beautiful day and I had a good day at the Rocky Mount Farmer's Market.  It was a little eerie though because last Friday I drove thru town and the tables at the Market were full - today I was the ONLY person selling.  How freaky is that????  I did sell alot of lettuce, spinach, kale and all of the swiss chard (wish I brought more).  The handmade oatmeal and rose soaps sold very well also.  Olivia sold 10 of her beautiful rose cupcakes so we'll save the rest for co-op on Tuesday.

The garden needs rain - BAD.  I can't believe it hasn't rain in about 2 weeks and it is April. I hope this isn't prophetic of the summer to come.  I had to set up the sprinklers and wished we had the pump from the pond and drip irrigation set up.  We're still working on the fencing.  Joel and I finished all the t-posts yesterday.  Joel has to work double shifts tomorrow unfortunately, so he and DJ can't put the wire on.  We'll have to wait another week for that. 

The new chicken tractor is done and the first batch of meat chickens are living happily in it in the new back pasture.  The meat ducks come the middle of this week to go into the now empty brooder.  We have a hen that's been laying on a pile of eggs for about 2 1/2 weeks now so we hope to have little laying chicks soon too.

The lamb we butchered was absolutely delicious on Easter Sunday.  I put a mustard garlic crust on it and slow roasted it for two hours.  It was so tender and juicy.  So happy to have our own lamb to eat.  The other sheep were finally shorn last Friday.  Peter from Floyd came down the mountain to do the job.  It put Lilly and Sweet Pea into a trance afterward, being lifted of such a huge burden.  But they are doing better now - a little more clingy to me when I go into the barnyard though.  The fleeces were pretty dirty, but the stapel length and crimp were incredible!  I am going to LOVE spinning the ramboullet fleeces.  The llamas are getting shorn this week and then I'll send in all the fleeces from last year and this year, including a Jacob sheep fleece I bought at Joyce's farm two weeks ago to StoneHedge Mill in Michigan.  I can't wait to get all the roving back.

Everything is doing amazing in the new hoop house Joel and I built.  I am still soooo happy I have somewhere to start seedlings and encourage new plantings.  The wind did a number on it a few days ago, but we patched it together as best as we could.  Some flowers are almost ready to be planted.  We've had frost the past couple of mornings so I'm trying not to be too anxious. 

The lilacs are blooming so large bouquets are filling the house with their wonderful scent.  My red climbing rose is all blooming and vases of them are on the tables too.  My pink rose bush from Ash Lawn is finally blooming for the first year.  I rooted a cutting under a jar for the first year, replanted it last year in the ground, and now have a beautiful pink rose bush right by the front porch - how fun!

My kiwi bushes are doing amazingly well.  I've given them alot of llama poop and they are growing well.  I've finally weeded my three grape bushes and mulched them also with alot of llama poop.  It will be so wonderful to eventually have my own grapes.

We planted 24 thornless blackberry bushes last week and they are all growing well.  The strawberries are doing fine too. I'm disappointed int he raspberries I put in.  They've done nothing.  I've heard it is very difficult to grow raspberries in the south, but I keep trying because i love them sooooo much.  I planted a special southern type - "Carolina" also.  But they won't grow.  My rhubarb has huge leaves, but not much stalk.  So disappointing.  I really would love a strawberry-rhubarb pie.  I know my friend Lyn is waiting for some too.  I've mulched them well and fed them again - hoping......

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2, 2012

Wow, what a weekend we had.  It was time to start fencing in the 6 acres behind our house for summer pastures.  We decided about 4 of them would do for this year, with temporary fencing separating the part to be done in the future.  We rented an auger from Tiger Rental - that place has been a life saver for the weekend.  The Grove family agreed to come help with fencing on Saturday so we all begun with digging the holes and putting in t-posts between wooden, putting wooden braces for all the corners, etc.  When the Grove family came they also offered to butcher a sheep for us as well, so that was the first thing they did.  Levi cornered the sheep while I got the halter on and Carl shot it between the eyes, giving it a very quick death.  Liv got the tractor and wagon and we  hauled her to the garage where Levi gutted her, then they hung her to skin her and cut her up.  Liv, CJ, Hannah and Hunter worked on the hide and got it prepared for me to send in to get done into a nice lambskin rug. 

After the lamb was cut up Lyn sharpened all our knives and we began work on cleaning up the pieces, setting aside two large bags of fat to render for soap and candles.  We cut up all the other pieces such as chops, flanks, legs, etc. and chopped up the rest for burger.  All was vaccuumed sealed and frozen.  It took until 8:00 at night to do all that, with only a few bloody mishaps on our fingers because the knives were so sharp.

Back to the fence,  the men quickly got hole after hole dug until they got down near the spring and pumphouse and hit the water main!  After plugging it up they had to make a trip to Lowes to get pipe to patch and because of Carl's expertise had it all back together in an hour  or two!  Time for dinner with everyone at 8:30 that night.

Day two of incredible weekend:  We began early, getting the rest of the holes dug.  Liv and I helped David and were able to get many done easily - no rocks hit and had to be dug out like Levi did the day before.  Joel joined and finished the holes just in time for the bees to swarm out of the large hive we have so David had to tend to that - getting them into a new hive box.

The Grove family showed up again for another day of work unbelievably!  They helped get all the wooden posts in the holes, putting rocks in the bottom of some with wetness.  That was a big, big job.  In the meantime, we continued with the t-posts and almost finished - just had one more side to go. 

After cutting some oak branches needed for the shitake mushroom plugs (1,000 of them to put in) and putting them in 3-4 foot pieces on pallets in the barn, it was time for dinner!

What a weekend!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24, 2012

Wonderful work day yesterday.  We had the Lawsons and Hendries here to finish clearing out those nasty, nasty locust trees and then haul wood.  With Joel in charge and driving the pick-up we picked up about 6-7 loads of wood from the last piles.  The rest of the wood is too big to pick up and too wet to chop yet so it'll have to wait another year and just hang out in the pasture.

Fencing comes next.  We'll be working for the next few Saturdays fencing in 5-6 acres in the back.  Can't wait to get the animals in the shade. 

Dan is now big enough to be out with the rest of the sheep during the day.  We had to put on some wire fencing on the white board fencing so he doesn't go underneath, but that's done now and he should be fine.

My seeds are starting to sprout in the new greenhouse we built.  I keep planting more seeds every day.  Going to order the herbs for dyeing today from Richters and hopefully get those very soon.  As soon as the rain stops I'm going to put in a few more beds of greens - spinach, lettuce and mustard greens.  Plus it's time for cilantro.  I'm going to plant alot of that because it attracts beneficial insects and I love it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 20, 2012

Today is the first day of spring so I'm going to give my blog a new look because everything outside sure has a new look.  What a month it has been!

The weather is way too warm, but everything is blooming and exploding.  It seems every time I go into my garden everything grew an inch or so.  I was able to put in alot of broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts this past week.  A man came and cultivated our new garden plots - 10 of them which are 25 feet long and 4 feet wide.  Even though it was my husband's big 50th birthday this weekend and our house was full of family who traveled in from NJ, he still rented a rototiller from Tiger Rental and went over the beds again to break up the big clumps and get the rocks out - with alot of help from Joel.  On Sunday he made a whole new bed where the old wild blackberry canes were and another stretching from the cemetery in the front all the way down to the perennial bed for the new U-Pick Blackberry patch.  I ordered 24 thornless bushes to go in there yesterday.

I started one of the new beds with 125 strawberry plants already and got that mulched with straw.  My 10 new blueberry bushes also came in the mail last Friday and Joel graciously planted those for me - lining the front of the garden.  He likes digging holes for some reason, so he dug and planted another honey crisp apple tree too - they're my favorite.

We finished picking up all the wood where the dyer's garden is going to go yesterday and moved the old chicken tractor that was damaged by the tornado over to the garden, covered it in white plastic and now I have a greenhouse!  I started flats of seeds for flowers, rhubarb, gourds, cilantro and borage and have them on old pallets in the greenhouse ready to grow!  I'm so glad I finally have someplace to start seeds.  I've been thinking how I can maybe have Joel pound in some rebar and tie the greenhouse down.  I'm sure with the first of our "great" winds we have here it's going to go flying down the hill into the pond.

Speaking about the pond, we're looking forward to getting our pump and drip irrigation system going,, using the pond.  We need to go visit Janet and her husband down in Martinsville who I met at my VA Tech class.  They just installed that for their gardens this year.

Looking forward to a great work day here on Friday.  We're going to finish clearing the locust trees for pasture, move the rest of the wood to the woodstove, and chop up one of the last fallen trees near the barn so I can have access from the garden to the barn.  Hope we can get it all done.  We really need to get the back pasture fenced.  It is way too hot for the llamas up in the front with no shade.  I'm worried about Francesca.  She is the largest and did not look well yesterday.  I really need to get the sheep sheared also and I've been trying to get a hold of the shearer for 3 weeks with no response - not good at all!  Please weather, cool off a bit and give us some time!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 14, 2012

Continued to expand the orchard today by putting in a Winesap Apple tree where the two plum trees  had to be taken out.  I'll need to give extra nitrogen because it's near the roots of the old trees.

Also put in two small Dwarf cherry trees.  I love fresh cherries and it's been so long since I've been able to get them.  I do hope these trees produce well.  I hear it's not supposed to be easy to grow cherries in the south so we'll see.

Meat chicks supposedly are coming soon.  I prepared the brooder and just need to pick up some start and grow feed.  David is almost done with the new chicken tractor but it'll probably be 2 to 3 weeks before we can get them in it.

Took a look at the old chicken tractor and hope to make it into a small greenhouse to start seeds in.  All I need is a big role of clear plastic to cover it.  I'm really excited about my little mini hoophouse.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 11, 2012

Alot, alot, alot was done on Rose Lane Farm this weekend.  I have to thank my incredible husband and daughter for actually picking up the remainder of the largest, most horrid of wood piles ever.  For the first time in 10 months I see the land and back pasture again!  I am so very, very thankful.  I wasn't even home to help out because I had a fieldtrip with my Grower's Academy Class to Catawba Sustainable Farm and Jamison's Orchard.  I learned alot.

Today I rushed to get in some root crops according to the moon planting dates.  I planted turnips, beets and annual onion sets.  I put in alot of perennial onions last fall, but it seems I never have enough onions and want some to sell also so I put in a couple of pounds of onions I bought at the PitStop Mini Market.  They were all out at Mitchell's Store so Larry sent me over there.  What luck because they had the most beautiful broccoli and cabbage plants to put in - so I bought 48 of them and got them planted today too.  I'm almost out of prepared beds right now so I'll be renting a tiller and getting Joel out there on Wednesday and Thursday to till up some huge beds.  I just ordered 100 asparagus plants and 100 strawberry plants.  I need more beds!!!!

Picked a big bunch of fresh kale for Saturday's dinner - baked kale chips, homemade Italian bread and honey marinated tilapia.  Yum yum!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4 2012

It has been a rough three days, but yet good.  I refuse to abuse my body any more and therefore am working on the computer instead today - in doors - putting together a business plan, marketing plan, business cards,  and farm brochures all for my VA Tech class that is due in one more week!

We did manage to get alot done these past three days.  On Thursday we had two boys come out and they worked hard.  We were able to take a couple large loads of brush out of the pasture and put it by the woodstove, begin clearing out the wild blackberry patch where the garden is going, and chopped down alot of those nasty, nasty locust trees that are overtaking so much pasture.  Nathanial even found a fox's den in the midst of cleared pasture so hopefully we can obliterate whoever is eating our kittens!

On Friday it was great weather and work again as we attempted to start chopping up all the wood moved so we can burn it.  I had Joel attempt the wild blackberries again, but no success chopping.  I had to eventually go in there with the riding mower and just mow it all down.  One branch snapped back and cut me in the face pretty bad, but otherwise it was doable.  There are some rose of sharon bushes that need to be removed and then I can get to all the other blackberry bushes and take care of that.  I'll have to do lasagna gardening there because of all the roots and runners, but I think it'll eventually be a great place to grow summer greens.

We also were able to continute clearing behind the house, removing small piles of wood and going through with the mower to start clearing the large grass where the fencing is going to go.  The whole back yard looks alot different.

After hours of chopping wood in the morning on Saturday I needed a break and went to work on the garden.  I'm disappointed at the outcome of the cold frames, but some plants are coming up.  I opened it all up and watered it good.  Hope something else will come up.  I did get into the established beds and planted arugala, endive and romaine lettuce.  Plus there was a lot of clean-up of weeks that are overtaking the beds and pathways.  It all went into the compost pile.  I really need to do better in the fall with cover crops.

David purchased supplies to try a new lower chicken tractor to use this year.  The large hoop ones are a lot to move and can get picked up too easily by this crazy wind around here.  We're going with the Joel Salatin model from Polyface farms that are only 2 feet high with hanging waterers and feeders.  I hope they work out well.   Chicks are coming in another week and I need to order the ducks soon.  I hope we can get three chicken tractors going this summer.  I'll be great for the garden areas and pasture.  I'm looking forward to a friend's son coming and doing some hunting here so everyone will hopefully be a little more safe.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26, 2012

Wow!  We survived the winds.  It tore more off the chicken coop roof, so David and Joel got up there today and put new roofing on and David even fixed the broken door, so hopefully that won't blow open during the next wind and there won't be chickens scattered everywhere.  I found another egg under the ha
y rack today!

Had a great day outside - beautiful sunny day.  We let Dan out in the barnyard and he had a blasts hopping and skipping around like a little kid.  It was so much fun to watch.  We had put some stumps against the grain room and were able to sit and knit while the lamb played.  Olivia played with him for a time, then hand crocheted a crown from baling twine and looked just lovely.  See the new picture of them both sitting in the sun.

It's the end of February and I thought I wouldn't make it - but I did - I put my snap peas in today.  Also put in a bed of Ashley Lettuce in the little kitchen garden by the back door.  We spent a little time down by the pond and I dub up two tulip poplar trees to plant in the yard.  I have to find the perfect space.

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 24, 2012

Alot of work was done today.  The best part was having the orchard cleaned up.  Joel, Liv and I were able to get all the branches out to the woodstove to chop up.  It looks so much better.  All I need to do is prune two more trees, plant 6-7 more new trees and get the dormant oil on the trees.  I found out that it just may be possible after all to have cherry trees in Virginia.  I do need to keep them out of the orchard thought also because they are prone to the black knot disease that the plum trees had.  I'll have to plant them over by the vegetable garden.  I'm making a sort of western block there anyway, to put some late afternoon shade on the garden if possible.

I was able to get a bed of romaine lettuce planted today also before the storm hit.  I had just put in two huge wheelbarrows of llama poo in when I began to get the bed ready and the rain began. 

Olivia and I did a big job today.  We brought some big stumps over as chairs to use in the sheep pasture with a little help from a hand cart - it was tough going, but now we have two seats in the barnyard and one under the pear tree in the field.  Love to sit out there with the sheep nuzzling us!

February 24, 2012

Wind is coming today and I'm not happy.  I do hate the wind.  I'll almost take anything anymore but the rain.  I was hoping to get out today and work alot on the wood.  We need to get moving that real large pile of branches.  I also want to get some of the big stumps that are cut over to places ont he farm for benches.  One is in the shape of a heart and really neat.

This past weekend we took to the orchard.  DJ finally got the two plum trees cut down that had black rot disease and there was nothing we could do about it.  So now there's those branches to haul to the wood pile and cut up.  He also took out an old peach tree that was pretty far gone.  Going today to pick up new trees to fill in the gaps, even though they say it'll take years for the roots of the cut-down trees to decompose.  I'll just have to amend with alot of nitrogen in those areas but I'd really like to keep the orchard we have as an orchard.

I also began to prune the trees remaining.  I took out the succors under the real good peach trees and began to outline the garden with them - hopefully gaining a few more of those dwarf peach trees.  It's not the best way to get new fruit trees, but I thought - what do I have to lose?  We'll just give it a try.

Had knitting friends over for lunch yesterday and served fresh lettuce from the garden.  They enjoyed it so much.  I'm still amazed that most people don't realize you can garden all year round with low tunnels.  I'm so glad we have some lettuce, kale and swiss chard.  I can't wait for all the spinach to be ready.  I have several beds in.

Crimson clover - here it is folks.  The key to our farm's success.  We've been reading alot about the benefits of this clover and then DJ heard all about it at his beekeeper's meeting in Roanoke last week.  Our neighbor tried a field of it last year and had millions of honey bees in it.  It's great to amend the soil also.  So I've decided to till under a large section of land and plant crimson clover for the bees and then till it under next year to have some new great garden soil!  Can't wait!  Will order the seed today.

More chickens needed - I have a need for more eggs for customers - plus I need chickens to do some scratching on some land I want to plant.  I found an ad today for 12 laying hens - older ones but they're cheap and still laying.  I'm going to look into getting them and putting them out in the garden right away in a chicken tractor.

Monday, February 13, 2012

February 12, 2012

The coldest days of this winter yet.  Hopefully it will be the only ones.  I'm sure loving the mild weather we've had - especially when we have so much work to do outside.

I've gotten the children moving this past week and it was no different this weekend.  For my birthday on Saturday all I wanted was help in loading and moving the wood piles - branches that are twisted and getting overgrown, cut from the poplar tree out in the pasture.  We loaded and unloaded three more loads on Saturday!  The second pile is finally getting smaller.  The last pile of branches is so large I think we'll just have to burn it where it is instead of moving it, breaking it up and burning it in our woodstove.  It's so much work.

Today we had to get out to the animals after church and give the llamas their worming vaccinations.  We couldn't get Lance into the barnyard today and I ran out of the medicine anyway so we still have one to give some time this week.

Our most important project today was getting the creep made for Dan.  He's getting bigger - and smellier and needs room to run all day.  The wind prohibited him from being outside in the pvc pen we had for him in the courtyard so it was a bad weekend until we made the creep from panels the Ruszickas gave us with the llamas.  We covered them in chicken wire and attached them to the walls of the run-in.  Now Dan has a place to be outside with near the other animals during the day!!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 4, 2012

Finally had time to start my cold frame seed plan.  I received the seed for the brassicas in the mail a few days ago, but never had time to get everything going.  Joel was great in picking up 10 bales of straw in Moneta we found for $3.00 per bale - the cheapest I could find.  We unloaded them in the garden and there they sat until finally this morning I got them in place, loaded up several loads of dry, composted manure found in the old barn, and layered that on the already placed beds of Little Ceasar's carboard boxes, straw, leaves and sheep and llama manure with a good soaking of water.  On top of that went seed for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and onions.  After our trip to Floyed I layered peat moss on top of the seeds and watered again.  All the seeds are covered by the windows we took out of our family room last spring to remodel. 

In another bed by other artichoke plants, I planted another packe of artichoke seeds and covered them with a good layer of straw for mulch.  I do hope they come up.  I would love to have alot of fresh artichokes.  I need to look into growing Jerusalem artichokes also.  I hear they do pretty well in this area and they would be different.

OK, our trip to Floyd was fun - winding up the mountain on a rainy Saturday.  It was David's first time there and my second.  We went in answer to a craigslist ad for a cart we could hook up to the lawn mower.  We ended up with a cart, but not the one advertised.  When we got there Mr. Floyd (really) who lived on Floyd Highway in Floyd was also selling another cart that was larger and better for our needs.  We purchased it for $75.00 and visited a garden center nearby - getting the peat moss and some more fabric to make more low tunnels for lettuce soon to come, The Bread Basket for some bulk food and grain, the hardware store for a pin and had lunch at the Blue Ridge Restraunt.  It was a fun quick trip and very profitable.  I had fun once we hooked up the cart to the lawn tractor.  I took it right away to the barn and loaded it several times with hay, driving it over to the shed by the pasture for David to unload it and store it closer to the hay rack for this week's rations.  The hay is holding out pretty well I'm happy to say.  I was afraid we wouldn't have enough.  Next year when someone bales our field we need to keep alot more for winter feeding - especially since the sheep will be lambing and need even  more.

So Dan is our newest member of the farm.  He came to us last weekend from Mangham Manor Farm.  He was a four-day old ram from a set of triplets that needed to be taken off the ewe.  We've been bottle feeding him every few hours and having alot of fun.  When it's sunny we take him outside to live in a pen in the courtyard-giving him room to run and be on grass, eating leaves.  During the rest of the time he's in a pen in our breezeway.  He loves to get out and run around the kitchen too - before or after feeding times.   We're looking forward to fattening him up and having him ready to breed our two ramboullet ewes next fall.  I can't wait to have our own lambing season on our farm.  We also are looking forward to having alot more lamb to sell.  Two other farm markets - Four Corner's Farm and Our Father's Farm have already agreed to sell lamb for us.  At the Bread Basket in Floyd they were selling lamb for $10.00 to $15.00 a pound!  We couldnt' believe it.  We'll have to find a market like that for it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 25, 2012

It's been a while since I've written but we actually had some cold January days and alot of rain too.  Now finally we've had two days of beautiful weather - sunny and in the 50's.  I like that alot better.  Don't even need a jacket.

I was able to finish homeschooling quickly and get outside today.  I loaded two wheelbarrows of llama poop and poured it into the garden where I'm making the cold frames to start all my seeds this year.  I added some old straw from the barn on the bottom of "Little Ceasar" pizza boxes to begin with, added the manure and now it's cooking.   I was able to locate a great source for old straw bales for only $1.75 to line the cold frame and will pick those up on Friday over in Glade Hill at the Pendry's farm.  Now I need to locate some more windows.

I also sat down finally and ordered my start-up seed.  In January I can put in rhubarb, onion and artichocke seed.  In February it's time to start all the brassicas - so I ordered cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  Everything was ordered from Southern Exposure Seed company right here in Virginia.  I seem to get the best produce from these locally available seeds.  Usually they don't take very long either and I'll be able to get some of these in the ground soon.