Thursday, August 16, 2012

Here's a brief pictorial lesson in horticulture.
  
Native plant is a term to describe plants endemic (indigenous) or naturalized to a given area in geologic time.  This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area.

This is a Muscodine growing in our front yard.  It is a variety of grape native to the southeast.

This is a Canadice growing next to the Muscodine in our front yard.  It is a table grape that is not native to our area.  

The two varieties were planted at the same time and have been treated in the same way.  We do not spray and we water only infrequently.  The Muscodine is thriving.  The Canadice is NOT! 







Saturday, January 21, 2012

Life and Death

Farming is all about life and death... from the baby chicks to chicken dumplings. It is really difficult to bury a baby lamb. Its even harder if I can't hide it from Nate and Brandon. My sweet boys gave her a hug goodbye and shed a few tears then ran off to watch the five thriving lambs play. I don't have much else to say right now but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving on the Farm

So we had a very eventful Thanksgiving. Matt woke up early and went to the pasture to enjoy the sunrise. Pretty quickly he realized that a ewe was missing. Really missing. She wasn't in the pasture. After some hunting he found her holed up on a sandy bar in the creek about 100 yards down stream of our property. On the other side of the same bend in the creek was our neighbor's hound mutt... normally a sweet dog but very agitated. The bank was very steep and neither animal could get out and neither animal wanted to get back in the water.

Matt fetched me out of bed and we started trying to coax her up the bank. It is at this point that I realized that all the old stories and adages are completely true. Given the chance, a sheep will decide to sit down and die. She was no help at all. She wouldn't even stand. With great difficulty we wrapped a wide strap around her behind the shoulders and puller her up the bank.

We got her back to the house and looked her over. There were many lacerations to her udder. Either she was bitten or she did it running through briars. Either way, one in particular was a little alarming, about two inches long and directly next to a teat.

Needless to say we couldn't get a large animal vet Thanksgiving morning. We did a Google search and then it was off to Walmart for Betadine and superglue... that's right superglue. As of now, our rustic chemical sutures appear to be holding pretty well. All of the superficial cuts are knit. The largest gash has opened a couple of times and been re-glued but we figure the draining is good for it. So far no discoloration and no fever.

What an adventure! It made for great Thanksgiving table talk.

If you're wondering, we saved the dog too and returned him to a contrite neighbor. Truly, he's not a trouble dog and his owner normally keeps him confined respectfully. There are a few problem dogs in the area and he probably broke loose and was running with them. Needless to say, I won't be nearly so forgiving if I ever get one of them in a cage. I've got animal control on speed dial.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings Pt 2

The chicken harvest went pretty well. I do not recommend processing a bird in molt. I didn't have a choice. The new feather casings are a lot like fish scales and made a big mess. Skinning wasn't particularly easy. Next time I'm going to pluck. I didn't do any documenting but I found this Paul Wheaton video VERY helpful! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_S3P0eU0lE&feature=relmfu
I wasn't as sad as I thought I might be. It wasn't violent and I was pretty focused on doing a good job. I did get a little weepy when it was all done but I feel good about the experience. After all, all meat is flesh and I know this bird lived a good life and came to a respectful end.

The meat was tough as was expected but a long simmer made for really good soup.

Chicken and Dumplings pt 1

Tomorrow is the day. Chicken and Dumplings from beginning to end.

Butchering is always a mixed bag of emotions. I'm quite sad because the hen has been with us for a long time but she's not laying and she's not getting around very well either. I'm also kind of excited to take the reins and put some meat on the table all by myself. I've asked Matt to leave me to my own. If I pull it off I'll be pretty proud. There is also a feeling of curiosity. Despite the sadness, the biology lesson is fascinating. I no longer find it at all gruesome.

Wish me luck.

Fall Garden

Roots and Leaves

This year we've put a lot more effort into the fall garden and its paid off wonderfully. Kale, peas, lettuce, turnip greens, beets, carrots, and broccoli are all doing well and really extend the fresh vegetable flavors at the table. I've had a little green caterpillar working on the greens, broccoli, and cabbage but only the cabbage appears to be really suffering for it. Picking the devils off by hand is surprisingly quick and is keeping them under some semblance of control. The boys are perfecting their "caterpillar stomp".


The seasonal mulch collection has begun again as well. Can't get enough organic material!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Potatoes

This year is the first that we have grown potatoes. It was fun and we had a lot of success.

March


May


June


"Alright boys. Start digging."





Nice haul

We have had luck storing the potatoes in paper bags. They are in the bottom of the pantry where it is fairly cool and dark. Every other week or so I check for any moisture condensation or any of the white cottony fungus but so far so good. After about a month, we've got about half of them left and they are fine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring has Sprung

Our new guineas are settling in.

Chicken with their nice new feathers

Sheep grow so fast!

Button with her new baby

My babies with Button's new babies.

"Hey Mom! What are these pink trees?"


Our ram, Mufasa, has really come into his own this year!

Peach blooms

More blooms

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Let's put a door where that window is"

Matt needs a tractor size door into his workshop.

Before (outside)


Before (inside)


There's a gaping hole in the wall


After (inside)


After (outside)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Crops

K- New asperagus shoots are so exciting!

We started these from seed in pots at our previous home in Charlotte. They are pretty heavily mulched to keep the soil nice and cool and prevent drying. This is their 4th year. I'm not sure yet if I will cut any this year or not. I'll wait to see how many sprouts we get. These first ones look pretty thick and hearty.

The broccoli and cabbage are also looking pretty good.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Planting Zoysia








M-We planted 100 sq ft of zoysia sod (Myers) this morning. I used the bottom plow to dig out spots in the existing sod, then cut the zoysia sod to fit. Took a little different adjustment then actual plowing to get a nice level furrow, but once I got it set right it worked pretty well. Some furrows where a little shallow and some a little deep, but it sure beat doing it by hand! The Zoysia should gradually spread and fill in, 2-3 years from now we should have a nice drought resistant summer lawn. We got the sod from a local sod farm for $40, sure beats the junk they sell out of the catalogs. The boys were a big help cleaning up the old sod!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flooded Pasture


M- We got around 4 inches of rain over the past two days. The pasture floods a little bit a few times of year, but the water usually drains in a day or two and is not a problem. The animals don't particularly like it, but the kids sure had fun splashing in the mud this morning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hauling Hay



M-I usually just haul the hay down into the pasture using the van, but we have had so much rain, I knew it would not make it back up the hill. I decided to give it a try using the Suburban. 1st gear, low range, and everything came out okay. The tractor got a little loose towards the bottom, but it wasn't bad at all. These weren't the heaviest bales, though.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Snow






M-Christmas day started with a few snow flurries and by evening we had 8 inches of heavy snow. Katies parents had the foresight to buy the boys sleds for Christmas, so we spent the rest of the weekend sledding, plowing, riding the tractor around and just having a great time!



video

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Brocolli


M-I planted some brocolli and cabbage in October. The cabbage didn't do much, be we got a decent little harvest of brocolli, even though it was frozen several times.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Making Meat







M- Well the time finally came for our steer. We fed him grain for 60 days leading up the fateful day. Our friends Walt, Josh, James, and Jamie all came to help. It took a 5 people 10 hours or so to process the meat far enough to get it to fit in the fridges, then it took me another day of wrapping before freezing everything. Katie ground several pounds and made fresh burgers for lunch. We continued with the beef theme for dinner and had grilled beef ribs. The kids REALLY enjoyed their ribs. We aged the remaining 3-400 lbs of beef for two weeks and the had the tenderloins for Christmas dinner. All in all, raising the steer and getting all the meat in the freezer was a lot of work, but well worth the effort!