Country Living Series

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Friday roundup

Goodness, I have been utterly scatterbrained this week. It's been busy, yes, but that's no excuse for the absolute blog silence. Apologies to all my loyal readers!

So here it is – Thursday – time for our "Friday" Roundup. These, as you recall, are so we can all check in on what steps we've taken, big or small, to inch us incrementally toward greater preparedness (regardless of what day it's posted).

Here's what we've done in the past couple of weeks:

• We butchered five animals last Wednesday.


We were getting way too crowded – not just at the feed boxes, but also too many for our property to easily support. Now we're down to ten animals, a far more manageable number. We're not expecting any calves this year either, since we currently don't have a bull.

• In anticipation of sorting out which animals to butcher, Don built another "airlock" gate. We're putting in fences and gates across critical pinch-points on our property to assist when we need to sort out animals.


We tested this latest "airlock" when shooing the animals not getting butchered down to the pasture for a couple of days. One of the targeted animals escaped, but since she couldn't get past the airlock, it was a simple matter to get her back where she needed to go. As Don and I lose our farmhands (the girls), we need to come up with ways to work smarter, not harder; and airlock gates serve that purpose.

• After the butchering was done, Don took advantage of the livestock being down in the pasture to clean up some more of the muck underneath the feedbox awning. We didn't want the livestock in the pasture for more than a day or two, since the grass is just starting to emerge and we don't want it trampled or eaten down too early; so after a couple hours of scooping poop, we closed the gate and brought the animals back up from the pasture.


• I planted seeds indoors:
  • 25 cayenne peppers
  • 25 basil
  • 10 Brussels sprouts
  • 10 broccoli
  • 18 tomatoes (6 large, 12 paste)
  • 10 red bell peppers


The broccoli and Brussels sprouts are just starting to come up.


It's always fun to watch an infant plant push upward.



• We picked up the four hazelnut trees we ordered and paid for last fall.


For some reason I expected these to be a lot smaller than they are, so I'm delighted they're already at such a height. Unlike the walnuts we planted last May (and may take as long as 15 years to produce), hazelnuts should bear a crop much more quickly.


Hazelnuts (sometimes called filberts) and walnuts are the two types of nuts which will successfully grow in our area. Having a permanent source of plant protein (nuts) is a valuable addition to our farm.


• It's been raining an awful lot, precluding much work in the garden, but I got a bit of a start at weeding some beds.


I noticed this little guy...


...at the edge of the pond...


...keeping a sharp eye on Lydia.


• One of our pear trees, which bears prolifically, had two large branches growing out at awkward angles.


These would get so heavily-laden with fruit in the fall that we had to prop them up with tomato cages.


So I sawed off these two large branches, and nipped off a few smaller branches growing at odd angles. The result is a much nicer-looking tree.


• I've been admiring the birds we've been seeing:

Quail:


Western kingbird:


Robin (possibly my favorite bird):


Killdeer:


The spectacular mountain bluebird:


• We ordered two pounds (!!) of flower seeds, specifically a species called lacy phacelia.



These flowers were among the mixed seeds we planted in the orchard last year.


The bees went absolutely ballistic over them.



Come to find out they're extraordinarily heavy nectar-producers. They're also friendly to cows (some farmers even plant them for grazing). We're planning on sowing the mounded hillsides of nasty clay dirt that was piled when the pond was dug. This will not only stabilize the slopes, but provide endless food for the bees.

• I'm working on the talk I'm giving on May 6 at the Northwest Preparedness Expo in Prosser, Washington. This is put on by an nifty church-based group called the Lower Valley Assembly whose purpose is "to promote the advancement of self-reliance and security within the Lower Yakima Valley in accordance with the laws of nature and the commonly held Judeo-Christian principles by which the United States of America was founded." Hopefully if anyone's in the area, you can attend the expo.

That's what we've been doing around here. How has everyone else done as far as preparedness?

23 comments:

  1. We purchased Joel Salatins "Salatin semester" and plowed through the video material and began the book. Great info btw. Have you considered pigs to rotate that manure/hay mess from the winter? Joel throws corn to ferment in it every other week and then lets the hogs do their work. We purchased 40 barred rock chicks for the new flock and trained them on nipple water buckets. super thankful to get them out of the bathtub (cold!) And into the garage. We really wanted jersey giants but these were $1/bird on site and we couldn't pass it up. We tested water at the new place and got soil samples done. We got a rat terrier puppy to be our rodent eliminater as she grows. The kids love her. Seeds were ordered. Just ordered a new instant pot to ease moms work load ;) We pulled clothes kids are outgrowing. Purchased a few "new to us" old books for the library. Settled what curriculum we will use next year for home school(yet to purchase however). We were blessed to have a community meal as well. Such a very busy busy week! We have plans done up for rotational grazing. Confession and adoration this week. So looking forward to Easter! Blessings to you all.

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    1. You'll be happy with barred rock. Jersey's eat more than they're worth.

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  2. Seeing your pile of "muck" made me thankful I don't have cattle. This week I cleaned and sprayed out all my rabbit cages,catching most of the pellets in containers for the garden, then raking other fallen poop into the surrounding areas. I'm glad I don't have to use the tractor to move the poo!

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  3. Love the picture of the "muck" pile!! This week I cleaned and sprayed out all my rabbit cages. I catch most of the pellets in containers then load them in the UTV to transport to the garden. There are always some pellets that miss the containers which I just spray out into the grass. Sure glad I don't have to use the tractor to move poo!

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  4. Oh my goodness, those are wonderful hazelnut trees! If you don't mind my asking, where did you order those through!?
    We finished putting in the hops beds against the house with pully systems as well as ordered the last of our perennials for our permaculture areas. More seed starting as well, and prepping in the garden.

    Easter Blessings!

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    1. We ordered them through a local feed store, the same one where we ordered our fruit trees last year. Any feed store should be able to order for you.

      - Patrice

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  5. Lacy Phacelia is commonly known as "Blue Curl", and yes, it is fabulous for bees as well as, green onion flowers and lupine! Love your Blog!

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  6. Lets see...acquired more firearms. Harvested cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli. Ordered cabbage worm killer (Monterey BT is recommended as it definatly kills the worms asap, and is NOT toxic. Veggies can be treated and eaten the same day. Other things don't work as well or are poison) I did make homemade weed killer (salt vinegar and water) and it worked well, also homemade deodorant that really works (coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch). Made yogurt and farmers cheese. I am not a good cook, and I'm intimidated by the Steele Magnolias at church who are extremely learned and experienced in deep south cookery....so I picked out 2 simple side dishes that I (and any 3 yr old) can make up for socials to not be empty handed or embarrassed! Attended a special Seder/Passover meal at church. Installed screens on my doors to avoid turning a/c on as often. Did alot of weed wacking, and planted more trees. Began using dry dishcloths as napkins, vowing never to buy paper towels again. I know, cloth napkins are pretty but I can't bring myself to ruin pretty napkins, and I am fine with using, new, cheap not exactly ugly dish rags instead (to be laundered and used repeatedly as opposed to using several paper towels up a day and throwing them in the trash/fire). Set up a tornado watch spot in my concrete utility room by setting up a toilet and disposal system, and making sure things like lighting, food/water radio is within easy reach while waiting it out in a tornado 'seek shelter now' situation.

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  7. I must have missed a post, what happened to you Bull?

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    1. We butchered the bull last May. We need to change bulls every few years, and decided to take a year off because we were getting too livestock-heavy. I didn't put up a blog post on it.

      - Patrice

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  8. What did you do with your bull? After five years of drought, it's odd to have it still raining in April. Too wet to get much done.

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  9. May I ask about Matilda? Did she make the cut?

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    1. Matilda is fine. She's not yet ready for the freezer, thankfully.

      - Patrice

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  10. This week I planted two varieties of plum trees - Stanley and Methley. I also planted 2 hazelnuts and a nectarine tree. Today I planted two honeyberry bushes. And just yesterday, we hatched four Pilgrim goslings in our incubator! We made a little 90-second video of one hatching if anyone needs a dose of spring cuteness:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh6yIf-8HoI

    What variety of pear tree do you have? Mine bears poorly and I need to replace it.

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  11. What are you going to do for milk? Do you have a cow that milks through? Or are you freezing it? (I froze the goats milk and was surprised at how well that works)

    This week I've worked on the taxes and gotten the ducklings (16 of them, still 10 more coming next month), and I've got 3 setting hens, 2 of which need to be put somewhere else, since hen #1 keeps stealing the eggs from their nest and trying to set on 24 instead of 12 (mean of her, and it doesn't work well). I need another couple of wire dog crates- I might get them this eve, since I have to drive a kid to town anyway)

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    1. We'll just have to wait for a year for a cow to freshen. We're hoping to get another bull this summer for breeding in the fall, so no fresh milk until next year. Such is life.

      - Patrice

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    2. Because of how the cream separates in cows milk it doesn't freeze nearly as nicely as goats milk. I tried it, just for the heck of it, and it might work ok for baking, but I wouldn't want to drink it.

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    3. Good to know - in case I lose my mind and get a cow instead of goats! I find their size intimidating. Dealing with a buck goat who puts his hooves on the top of the fence and can rest his head on top of mine is bad enough!

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  12. What on earth do you do with 5 beef butchered? We just did one and the freezer is full:) Good problem to have.

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  13. Lovely shots! Particularly like the Mountain Bluebird. The Western Kingbird though is actually a Say's Phoebe. You can tell this by the brown body and reddish belly in contrast to the silvery gray back and lemon yellow belly of a Western Kingbird. Phoebes tend to be early migrants while kingbirds tend to migrate later in the spring once the chance for foul weather is at an absolute minimum and there is more abundant insect prey. You can expect to start seeing them in the area in late April and early May according to ebird.

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  14. I have planted a few seeds for my future garden that was in mid construction before the snow, so just waiting for the final melt off (I'm in N. Idaho) and the return of the hubby from a trip to complete said garden. However I have been thinking hard and long about the 3 legged stool. Supplies and equipment, those are always in need, knowledge and skill, have some and always studying and adding. But the community/faith one has been sadly missing (have been here less than 2 years). So that has been in my works these last few weeks, have begun to participate in a local little church and volunteering in their little thrift shop that is being used for helping those in need. I think I may be a fit. I have also been donating eggs for their food bank.

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  15. Happy Easter Lewis family.
    He has Risen!
    andy

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