Tag Archives: garlic

The Velociraptors are Loose

The fall crud nearly KO’d me this week.  Very little was accomplished other than the basic maintenance of life, a few dinners prepared, and the grands shuttled to their respective bus stops and preschools.  By yesterday, I felt a bit better and it was time to get things done.  Laundry was stacked high and we were both out of essentials, so that was a priority.  Saturday is Farmers’ Market day to get pasture raised meat and organic vegetables that are local and not suspect, nor traveled from far away states or countries.  Grandson had his first soccer game of the season and of course, we had to be there to watch that.  He is one of the youngest and smallest on the 8 to 10 year old league, but clearly wanted to be part of the action.  But the biggest task of the day was to obtain the fencing needed to give the Meaties a run so they didn’t spend their entire life in a brooder or coop.

As the chicken pen was originally divided into two long narrow runs and had two side by side gates, it seemed that returning it to its original or similar configuration was the most expedient.  When the fencing was removed to fence in the garden in hopes of keeping the chickens out and allowing them more free pasture time, the posts were left in place.  Unfortunately, the dogs had other ideas about this plan and the Buffys were again penned up with only some pasture time each day, when the dogs are secured indoors.  Mountaingdad and I went out and measured to see how much additional fencing was required and it appeared that we needed something less than 100 feet.  After market and soccer, we ventured down to the local Tractor Supply to get what was needed.  I really prefer the welded wire fencing, but can’t handle the 100 foot long rolls by myself while trying to fasten it to the posts.  As it didn’t come in 50 foot rolls, I elected to take a much less substantial vinyl coated wire garden fence to divide the run.  This meant moving some of the welded wire that was already in place, unbending the wire T post fasteners, hauling the fencing to different positions and reattaching it with new fasteners, taking back the 6 to 8 foot wide swath of garden that was only partially used for summer squash and pole beans.   The 100 feet of garden fence then set down the middle of the now enlarged area.  The day was hotter than it was predicted, I didn’t drink enough water and by late afternoon, I was whipped, the pen was not secure enough for the layers who had been on a grasshopper chase all afternoon in the yard and pastures.

It was time to fix dinner and daughter was going to do that but we realized that the propane tank on the grill had never been refilled, so Mountaingdad was sent off to take care of that and daughter came out to help me at least get the Buffys run secure so they could be lured back inside and the dogs let out.

There would be no more fence work last night, I was totally done in.  Dinner was delicious, Mountaingdad took grandson out for ice cream and I went into veg mode, knitting, reading and watching the Steven Hawking movie on television.

This morning refreshed from many quarts of water, and a good night’s sleep, I finished securing the last few pieces of fencing so that baby velociraptors (as daughter calls them) can finally see what the great outdoors is like.  Last week, they were moved from the brooder to the Cull Palace and penned in.  It is a huge space, but dark.  Tomorrow they will be 5 weeks old, so almost half of their life span has been spent in the garage and in the dark coop.  They could see the outdoors through the chicken wire and hardware cloth door and vent panels, but couldn’t be outdoors.

When I opened their coop door this morning, the curious moved to the opening.  Only a couple ventured over the sill.

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I’m sure as the day goes on, they will begin to explore the 80 X 8 foot run that they now have access to explore and I am hoping that they have gotten large enough to not squeeze through the 2 X 4″ holes in the fencing.

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The Buffys are having a great time reexploring the extended portion of their run that is full of pigweed and leftover squash that got hidden in the leaves and grew too large to harvest.  They will attract bugs, split and the seeds will be a treat.

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My remaining task is to cut back the peach tree that died in the middle of their run, leaving them stumps to perch on and to close up a few spaces that persistent birds may be able to squeeze through to facilitate escape.

An afternoon harvest brought in the winters popcorn, more dried beans, a large basket of tomatoes to be processed and a couple pints of jalapenos for pickling.  The Ancho peppers are beginning to turn red and will soon be dried for sauces and soups.  The first Burgess Buttercup was brought in, but walking through the Three Sister’s Garden revealed a hefty crop of them that will be brought in before the first frost is expected. It wasn’t the best garden this year, but I am thankful for the wonder it has given up and will be enjoyed this fall and winter.  Soon it will be time to plant the garlic for next year.

My harvest efforts earned me a sting, I think by a caterpillar.  The sting was unlike wasp and bee stings that quickly swell to enormous size on me.  This has produced a large area of tingling skin and lightheadedness that brought me in before all the beans were collected.  They will keep for another day.

Autumn Surprises

Today started sunny and at mid day, it is in the mid 60s.  A great day in the mountains.  We started out early to vote, hoping we will get someone in office who will help fight the Fracking Pipelines and came home for Mountaingdad to get in one of what he knows to be last rides on the BBH before it gets garaged for the winter.  It was a good day to work on more of garden close down and to get the garlic planted.

The bed that had contained the peppers and tomatillos hasn’t been used before for garlic, so it was raked to remove the fallen, rotting tomatillos and the stray pepper or two that didn’t get thrown to the chickens or brought into the house.  The bed was weeded with my awesome garden tool, smoothed and furrows dragged through the surface.  The bed was planted with 74 cloves of garlic.  I don’t know if I waited too long last summer to harvest, didn’t wait long enough curing time, but we have a lot of cloves that desiccated in their skins, as much as half a head.  If this year’s crop isn’t better, I will start over with new seed garlic next year instead of using cloves from what was harvested.

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planted and mulched
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covered to keep the chickens from digging it up again
While out there and after a couple more nights of freezing temperatures, I found more winter squash.  Most of these will go to the chickens, but there were several Burgess Buttercup and they are so delicious they will be kept. One was pared and cubed last night, roasted with Italian sausage, red onion,a green Ancho pepper, some whole garlic cloves and a few pieces of broccoli.  A meal in a pan and it was great.

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Several small pumpkins were tossed to the chooks.  After finding Broody girl #2 on the nest again yesterday, but not having the heart to dip her hindparts in cold water, I just isolated her in the meat chicken pen for the day and left her there until dark. Once it was dark, I moved her back in the coop on a perch.  She nested herself once today but stayed outside after I removed her from the two eggs she had parked on.  Another one of the girls is molting.  The run and coop look “feathered” and the egg production is down to a maximum of 6 a day out of 12 hens.  Hopefully things will settle back into production soon.

Today I decided to start making my own whole grain chicken feed instead of buying the very unappetizing pellets.  I am finding that the chooks aren’t eating all of the pellets I put out for them and it is such a waste.  They never waste the 5 grain scratch which is a good start on home mixed food.  Add some flaxseed, sesame seed, oats, kamut, lentils, kelp and brewer’s yeast and you have a mix that is high enough protein for the layers, they like it, and it doesn’t turn to mush if it gets damp.  They don’t eat quite as much at a time either.  Since they get free range time for most of each day, they are also getting fresh grass, bugs and totally decimating some of my perennial herbs.  I had to put a low fence around one bed that they have decided is a good place to dig, dustbath, and just lay around in.

Another surprise in the garden was secondary broccoli.  The primary broccoli heads were harvested a few weeks ago but I left the plants in place.  With the freezes, they were relatively cabbage worm free and enough was harvested for a meal or two.

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As a bonus, the chooks got the remaining plants tossed in their pen for their entertainment and whatever nourishment they can get from the leaves and the few cabbage worms lurking there.

The day has clouded over, though we aren’t supposed to get rain until Thursday.  It was a good day to be outdoors for a while.

Let the Outings Begin

One week ago, right about now, we left Vienna, VA, grandson, son, daughter in law, and me.  We have had grandson solo since Sunday afternoon.  His daily routine here requires guitar practice, Kung Fu practice as he is missing those lessons this summer, a writing assignment and a math assignment as practice for weak skills and reinforcement for those skills that he does well.  I supervise those practices first thing each morning right after breakfast unless the writing requires a library visit.

We told him that he would have some basic chores to do here at the house each day and for that, we would give him an allowance so that he has some spending money.  He can earn extra money by going above and beyond his required chores.  He is only 9, so nothing is too onerous or too difficult.  We also told him that while he was here, we would do a series of outings and that with cooperation with his practices and chores, he could earn extra outings.  Some of the outings planned can be repeated such as the county pool, batting cage, movie date with granddad.  Others are ones that will only be done once, such as the one we did today.  We drove to Roanoke, the nearest city, about an hour from home, leaving to be there at lunch time.  The market square hosts a farmers market many days each week and we caught quite a number of farmers there today.  On the market square, there is a hot dog counter and we though it doesn’t stand up to our favorite one from Virginia Beach, it was a delicious unhealthy lunch, followed with healthy purchases of fresh corn, tomatoes, potatoes and a watermelon.  One stand had baked goods and we purchased a whole grain breakfast bread full of fruit, nuts, seeds and not too much real cane sugar.

After our lunch and the market we drove a few short blocks to the Virginia Transportation Museum.  This was a fun adventure, bringing back many memories for me as I used to ride a Norfolk and Western train from Norfolk to Farmville to and from college.  On display are locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, old wagons, handpump firetrucks, and a trolley car.  Inside the museum is a huge O gauge train set up, displays on bus transportation, train history, and air travel.  It was a fun couple of hours spent with our grandson.

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Back home, the last of the peas were harvested and the vines pulled for the chooks.  The peas were shelled and cooked with the corn and some left over kabob beef and pork tenderloin for dinner.  Once the clean up was done, some garden weeding and harvest of 76 heads of garlic, now drying for a day or two outside before the stems are clipped and they are moved to the wire shelves of the root cellar to finish drying.

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That part of the bed will be cleaned up and planted with a second planting of bush beans within a day or two.

I love when the garden is producing and the local markets have produce that either we don’t grow or don’t have in ready in our garden yet.

I’m loving life on our mountain farm.