Tag Archives: hay

Olio – 5/10/2019

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Spring is definitely here and with it a weekly yard mowing as we have had rain 9 of the past 11 weekends and due again this weekend.  The hay is getting high and thick as you can see behind this chicken run.  This is the pen we used when all the hens were Buff Orpingtons and we had a rooster.  The broody Mamas would be put in the raised A frame coop and the fencing around the pen is rabbit fence, so the little newly hatched chicks couldn’t get out.  The frame under this coop is rotting away, there is no rooster, so no chicks.  The grass in this run was high like the hay and this morning, it came down to the string line trimmer.  A temporary fence was secured between the existing fence and the coop, and the hens were given the opportunity to enjoy some fresh grass.

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They needed some grass besides the weeds that I have pulled from the garden each morning as I worked to get it in a condition that could be planted.  The hens have made a barren wasteland of their run.

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After several early morning sessions in the garden weeding aisles and beds that had been fallow for the winter, it is mostly planted now.  There is a bed of tomatillos, one of Jalapeño and Ancho peppers, one of Roma and Rutgers tomatoes, one of Sunflowers and Hopi Dye Flowers on one edge and cucumbers on the other.  A permanent box of asparagus that are producing nicely. A long bed that has 100 red and yellow onions and spring peas at the other end.  The blueberry bed was weeded, and today half of a long bed was seeded with green beans.  The other half will be seeded with more green beans in a few weeks to extend the harvest of them.  The raspberry barrels were weeded and two hills of Seminole Pumpkins planted.  One edge of the garden was covered all fall, winter, and early spring with tarps and cardboard to try to kill off the creeping charlie.  When two of the tarps were removed, I was amazed to see a thin stand of grass under them.  The garden is still too large for me to manage alone and there is still a 4 by 4 foot box that is overwhelmed with mint.  After the next rain, the box is going to be lifted away and the mint is going to be seriously thinned with a spade and garden fork.  Heavy cardboard put down to try to slow or stop it’s spread.  Some of each variety will be repotted in clay pots in an attempt to control it.

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With the months of post concussion symptoms, facing the garden was intimidating.  This week there has been very little dizziness and I have worked the garden with long handled hoes, or sitting on my backside and scooting along to weed.

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The mild winter and wet spring have allowed the comfrey in all three patches to send out many volunteers.  Quite of few of them are going to make their way to Wilderness Road Regional Museum to their new garden in the works.

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Spring has also brought bouquets of Bearded Iris and Lupine.  The grape iris have bloomed out, the yellow are still blooming, and the Dutch Iris are going to be opening in the next day or so.  This week more wild flower seeds were planted and 8 Calendula plants dug in for next fall and winter’s salves.

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The past couple of days have been busy making guest soaps for The Franklin House Bed and Breakfast in Jonesborough, TN.  A batch of 32 bars were made yesterday and unmolded to finish hardening today, a batch of 33 bards made today.  One more batch will be made in the next couple of days, but tomorrow I am off to vend at The Creative Therapy, Llama Jam Artisan Fair.  The car was packed this evening as tomorrow is to be wet and I will have to leave home around 7 to get there to set up.

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Next weekend, I will be spinning in costume at Auburn High School’s Heritage Day event.  If the weather is decent, I may take soap and yarn to that event also.

Ah retirement.  “Tired again,” it’s true meaning.

A Day Outdoors

It isn’t really here and cold will come again, but yesterday was spring time.  The tractor finally got warm enough to start, allowing  some chores that had been needed for a while.  Haying farmer friend always brings me a couple of bales of old spoiled hay after he takes the new hay each year.  That old hay is used in the chicken coop until it gets too wet to be usable, it also is used over cardboard as mulch between the beds in the garden to help keep the weeds at bay.  One of the bales was dropped where it could be rolled down near the coop, but the second one was too far from the garden.  Our little tractor is too small to load a large round bale and though that ball wasn’t a full bale, it was too large for the bucket, so it just sat.  Now that the boxes are being put in place in the garden and mulching between them is necessary, the bale needed to be moved.  pushing it with the tractor bucket started it to unroll.  Once it was about half of it’s original size, it fit inside the bucket and was dumped over the fence into the garden.  Then the unrolled parts were collected with a hay fork, loaded into the bucket in several trips and dumped over the fence as well.

 

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Now there is a huge pile of spoiled hay just inside the movable part of the fence that serves as a gate.  Maybe this spring, a real gate will be hung. Shortly after moving in, we bought 4 half wine barrels at a winery to use for storing root vegetables.  They were only used for a year or so that way and then two of them were put in the garden for flowers and later for potatoes.  The remaining two were left behind the house and had begun to come apart.  One of them was sound enough to move very carefully yesterday in the tractor bucket and carried into the garden, partially filled with soil to help hold it together.  There are now three in the garden for potatoes.  The fourth one fell all to pieces and needs to be puzzled back together.  It really should be in the garden too.  For now it is a pile of staves, metal rings, and a bottom.

While the tractor was out, the culvert at the top of the driveway received a clean out as the winter rain has caused it to nearly fill with fine gravel again.  Two buckets of gravel, sand, and soil were scooped out and utilized to build up the area in front of the garage door that was forming a pond with each rain.

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It was pretty quick work to scoop a bucket full from the ditch, drive it down, dump it and use the bucket to spread it flatter.  It only took a few more minutes with a rake to make a gravel area again where it was only sandy mud.  We will see when it rains again if the pond is gone and the water runs around the house as intended.

Some flower bed weeding was accomplished, the chickens loving something fresh and green to eat, the peach tree pruning was begun, but just too much to tackle in one attack.  It won’t produce fruit this year, but will be a much more manageable size for pruning in future years and perhaps the other peach tree will give us some fruit this year.

It was nice to be outdoors in February working in the yard and gardens.  Last year, we had just been plowed out by our farmer friend from one of the largest snows of the winter.

We are still searching for some chickens to increase our flock.  Chick days are about to begin, but that is really not the preferred approach.  Hopefully, the hens will be prolific this year and there will be many homegrown chicks from which to choose.  Their fencing still needs to be removed and replaced with a finer mesh and a top put in place to try to thwart the hawk so that we don’t lose so many this year.

We are toying with adding two piglets, putting them in the lower garden which is a large space.  To do so, perhaps that fencing will be used for the replacement fencing, it is good welded wire fence and just run a row of chicken wire around the bottom of the chicks pen.  We could just use strands of electric to keep the piglets in or put hog panels between the t-posts. More research needs to be done before that step is taken, to see how much a port-a-hut costs, how much feed will be needed, and where and how to get them processed.  It needs to be economical in the long run.

That would be another nice step toward self sustainability.  Still loving life on our farm.

 

 

Midweek Farm Life

Each day is partly a sunny day and partly a cloudy day, even afternoon thunderstorms with torrential rain at times.

Today I debated whether to try to get the yard that was knee deep mowed or the peppers and tomatoes planted in the garden.  I decided that the mowing was more critical as tomorrow there is a much higher chance of rain and I could plant between rain storms, but couldn’t mow the grass as tall as it was if wet.  I started off this morning, trying to get around the house with the gas powered lawn mower, getting where I can’t go with the tractor.  Good idea, but I only did about a third of it and ran out of gasoline.  I intended to go get some after lunch, but the clouds were building, so I just got as close to the house as I could on the tractor and mowed a lawn around the house in the encroaching hay field.  We are still about 6 weeks from haying here and it is getting seriously tall.  The grands need a place to play, I need to be able to get to the chicken pens and I don’t like the orchard to get too tall as the trees are too close to the chicken pen fence for the sickle bar hay cutter and too close to each other for the big haycutter.  I did beat a terrific thunderstorm by only minutes.

When I went out to let the flock out for the day, I found this . . .

Broodymama

Broody Mama giving me the evil eye for trying to move her two days ago.  She is sitting firmly on yesterday’s 6 eggs.  I will try to slip 4 more under her tonight from today’s lay. If all goes according to schedule, we will have chicks in about 3 weeks.  She chose the box nearest the pop door, not the best one to raise a family in when there are 5 others that are safer, but it is where she is.

Burnpile

With the ground so wet and haying season upon us soon, the burn pile finally got lit off.  The Christmas tree made a good starter fuel and most of the pile is now gone.  In a day or two, I will move the debris to an area we don’t mow after sorting through for nails and screws.  One day, there will be a permanent place and an incinerator in which to burn before the piles get too large.

One of my commitments to my shop is to make a more environmentally friendly soap, removing palm oil from all of my soap recipes.  There are only going to be 4 soaps in the store, Goat milk with honey, Lavender Goat milk, Citrus Shea, and Cedar/Rosemary/Thyme.  All of them are going to be made with Organic Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Castor Oil, and extra virgin olive oil (organic when available).  The liquid will be either coconut milk or goat milk and if scented, with pure essential oils.  Yesterday, I made two batches of the Lavender Goat milk soap with Shea butter and Organic Moroccan Red Clay for sensitive skin types.  It was the most beautiful dark caramel color when hot and today when I unmolded it to cut and cure, it looks like fudge.  It is such a pretty soap.

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There are 18 bars of it curing for the next 4 weeks before it can go in the shop.  That makes two of the 4 soaps Palm oil free so far.  I will be making another batch of the Cedarwood and the Goat milk Honey soap in the next day or so, both also Palm Oil free. The Shea butter makes such a nice rich soap and it is not responsible for rain forest deforestation.

With the coming of warmer weather, short sleeves, and air conditioning, today I added 3 mini shawls to the shop to throw over shoulders instead of a jacket or sweater when in the office or dining out.  They range in price from only $15 to $25 and fiber from Seasilk to Wool with Mohair.

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Tomorrow, after taking N to preschool, I hope to get in a walk with a friend and then finally get back to the garden.  I still need to get gasoline and mow outside the garden and around the chicken coops.  That may have to be done with the gas trimmer as it has gotten so long and thick.  Maybe I can get son-in-law to do it this weekend.

Still loving the mountain life.