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Old 12-02-2016, 11:17 AM   #1
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Default December 2016 Homestead and Gardening Thread

I can hardly believe December is here! Fall is one of the busiest times of the year around here and by the time December rolls around I'm always hopeful that I'll be set for winter. It never really seems to be that way but in an ideal world...

Today I'll be buttoning things up getting ready for some rainy weather, checking tarps and beefing up bedding mostly.

Yesterday I got 65 eggs from the new hens! I have a stack of 4-2 1/2 dozen flats full right now. The sales have begun LOL. I also have the opportunity to get more of these hens but I'm not sure I have it in me to make the trip right now. Maybe I can organize a crew and THEY can go get them.

Well, the flood gates are opening and I've got to wrap things up, put on some warm clothes and get busy. That is the way of my life after coffee and a little computer time.
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Old 12-03-2016, 02:46 PM   #2
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It's raining! Hope it makes its way to the folks 'back east'. I'm taking it slow today so I can gear up and make another chicken run tomorrow.
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Old 12-05-2016, 01:45 PM   #3
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Another chicken run done and 100 happy hens in the laying house.
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Old 12-12-2016, 03:46 PM   #4
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It's snowing...again. It started back on November 10th and it hasn't let up since. We're usually happy if we have a white Christmas, but we haven't seen a winter like this for quite some time. We've already got around a foot of snow on the ground and by tomorrow we'll probably have two feet.

We kept expecting the snow to melt and for things to warm up, but they never did, so a good bit of our potato crop is frozen in the ground and will likely remain there until the spring. The potatoes are covered with a good bit of snow that's topped with quite a thick layer of ice, so they might make it through the winter, or we might get a thaw that will allow us to get them out, but I think that's pretty wishful thinking. We got the Brussels, kale, bok choy, and carrots harvested, but I was rather hoping we'd get another month to harvest more kale and bok choy - apparently Mother Nature had other plans.

I got my first seed catalogue in the mail the other day, so I'll have to take inventory of what I have in stock and what needs to be ordered (I managed to save quite a bit of seed this year). It won't be too awful long before I'm putting seeds in the dirt and starting the cycle all over again.
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Old 12-13-2016, 01:42 PM   #5
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I can see the vines that were growing on the bush in the front yard. If it warms up I am hoping to be able to pull them out and then in the spring I can trim the bush it's self. The bush branches were reaching out to grab people as they walked down our ramp plus the vines drew bees and wasps. Livi and Miah are both allergic to the stings so we don't need those where the kids play.
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Old 12-16-2016, 11:06 AM   #6
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Rain coming in then some seriously cold temperatures on Sunday. I've got more firewood coming today along with a couple of fresh round bales of hay. Been working on my hay delivery system so the animals can reach it but not destroy it. It's set up so the hay they pull becomes bedding as it migrates down hill toward the composting area. So far it still requires manual pitching to make it happen but it seems to be getting closer to what I envision. If I can just be here to make sure the hay man puts it in the right place LOL. I'm making him an apple pie in trade for this batch He said the cherry cobbler for the last round was delicious

The 'beautification' of the farm is coming along and we've begun working on the 'bridge' walkway off the east porch that goes to the watering troughs, across the creek-o-system toward the barn that isn't there yet LOL like everything, its a dream in progress. D is spearheading the project and has used some old garden hoses to mark the lines. She's dragged some 4x4 posts over to edge the pathway. Every time I go out there its a little bit different. She and P are like little elves sometimes. I never know what surprises lurk around the corner. Bless them both!

On Wednesday, P and I did some mushroom yard work stacking fresh logs so they could be ready for plugs when the time comes, putting in t-posts to make the sorting yard more secure, making hardwood cuttings of the fruit trees to try our hand at propagating them this winter, unloading feed, and all the while discussing thousand year old bio-char systems found at anthropological sites along the Amazon. How can we apply that to the farm to boost the mycology of our soil? Can we develop a system that works with our plans? How can we harvest the wind to bring the water from the pond up to the trough area and down the creek-o-system to maximize its effect? What the heck is that purple fungus? How can we better channel the hay/animal waste toward a more intense composting area and where is the best place to easily harvest the results? What are the socio-economic implications of Trump's choices for government positions? How can he build an efficient greenhouse system for his home cheaply? What is the next step for him in starting his business? (he's cut his dreadlocks and decided he's ready to close that chapter and open a new one) What is the electro-magnetic quantum mechanical meaning of life? Is it really 'the matrix'? Where is the line drawn between bugs and food? How can you actually be truly vegan if you eat bugs? LOL We have some interesting times. All of that and more was our Wednesday talk while we worked. He makes my head spin a little. What a great mind.

Seed catalogs are coming in.... I'm a pretty happy camper. Bills are paid. That makes me happy too.

Today, I plan on beefing up animal bedding and get some lights going for the laying hens. Their production has really dropped off as they are use to being artificially stimulated by 14 hour a day lighting. I won't go that far but I do plan on helping them along a little. I'm down to 120 hens and its a good number for me. I'm having no problem selling eggs.

I don't remember if I mentioned that we are moving toward opening the farm store. It will just be for a few hours a couple of days a week. Right now we're honing in on exactly what we can sell from the farm as it differs from what we can sell at a farmer's market. The business kitchen is going to be designated gluten-free and the main kitchen will be for wheat breads. Polling the area suggests sandwich type rolls, desserts/pies, honey based goodies, spice blends, eggs and pork products will be the best places to start. We'll add more as we go along and demand guides us.
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Old 12-16-2016, 11:55 AM   #7
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This time of the year, the best I can do is cultivate ice sculptures & snowflake flowers!

We've had quite the cold snap for this time of year in this area - this is late January weather! Yet we'll pop back up above freezing over the weekend - but not warm enough to take all the ice off the roads. Then back to ugh! cold.
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:29 PM   #8
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My weather must seem like spring to you! I love that I get enough of the wintry stuff to feel like I've experienced Winter. I think I enjoy the change even if it means slopping around, working in it. Something about it makes it all seem very 'real' to me. Last winter, I spent my nights helping a ewe with her lamb. At first it was every 3 hours so I got to spend some clear, cold, starlit nights all bundled up holding that ewe so she'd let the lamb feed. It was pretty special.
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:35 PM   #9
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So far today, I've stacked firewood, done chores, pitched some extra hay for bedding, moved some gates around and then worked on a massage client. Break time is over so I'm off to put up a few tarps and fix a little section of fence. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll have a couple of round bales of hay delivered while I'm working. Somewhere in all of this I need to make a pie to trade for the hay
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:30 PM   #10
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BG is our very own whirling dervish! (Whirling in a good way! )
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:38 PM   #11
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I'd rather do this than 9-5 anytime! All I have left is pie and evening chores. If I hurry with the pie I can squeeze in a short nap
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Old 12-25-2016, 02:40 PM   #12
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Other than dealing with the mud, things are pretty calm around here and settling into a winter routine. Seed catalogues are coming in and with highlighter in hand I dream the big dream. We're setting up the greenhouse getting ready to start seedlings. Using LED's this year and there's no telling what experiments will happen there. I'd like to try a bit of hydroponics and something vertical/wall type garden has my attention. It would be nice to at least grow enough salad greens to be able to sell some in the off season.

On the down side of things, my big boar Chester, has a injured leg. He's not putting any weight on it at all and moving pretty slowly. I'm going to watch for him lying down and see if he'll let me scratch his belly a bit (from behind) while I try to evaluate it. Poor guy.

The new lights in the hen house are doing the trick and production is up. We stuffed oak pallets with feed sacks and put a plastic barrier around the outside. With the tarped cattle panel hoops it makes for a cozy temporary abode. Now to get a load of sawdust for the floor. That should make things much drier and easier on the eggs as well as the hens.

I've never raised production layers before. They are rather flighty and real peckers (I raise chickens, I get to say things like that ) In fact, they have all been beaked (the pointy tip has been nipped) so they don't do as much damage to each other. They are good natured birds just hard to wade through without getting pecked. I've developed a sort of leg swinging walk as I go through them and most of the time I miss stepping on too many toes. I have roughly 120 birds!
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:35 PM   #13
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Remember that grant with the Soil Conservation people that I applied for last Summer? They told me they chose applicants in October so I waited patiently....November....December... I had resolved myself to the probability they didn't choose the farm. They called today!!!!! WAAAAA HOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Ok, so I'm gasping for air trying to find a seat so I can make arrangements for the farm to be assessed. I presume the amount of the grant will depend entirely on that assessment. I haven't a clue what the possibilities are but what they do is exactly what we're trying to exhibit here. Plus, we have had that little dab of television notoriety and it it looks like we may get a second go'round this spring. I'm sending positive energy their way to help them see what good publicity we could be for them LOL. Keep your fingers crossed folks!!!

The assessor is coming next Wednesday on Farm Day and between now and then we will sprucing things up getting ready for her visit.

Yesterday, we cleaned out the greenhouse and put in a rain gutter grow system for strawberries. We also got pots ready for woody cuttings. I really like how its all coming together in that space. There are a couple of chairs out there and it sure is a pleasant space to sit awhile in. We've been given some really nice LED grow lights and plan to make the most of them. There are more rain gutters (these are the big ones) and we're thinking that salad greens would be a perfect beginning for that project. It won't be long we'll be starting garden vegies. I wonder if that grant would cover seeds...
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Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably,
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:56 PM   #14
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AWESOME!!!
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:37 AM   #15
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That's our BG. TV star turned entrepreneur!!!
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Old 12-30-2016, 10:39 AM   #16
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I think the entrepreneur part came first LOL and I don't know about the TV star bit. I just want for this thing to take off so I can sit by the fire and tell stories.

This it the link to the folks with the bucks:

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal...national/home/
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