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!




Saturday, November 20, 2010

M- After sitting idle all summer, I finally got the Suburban 12 I bought last winter running. Made some proper tire chains this morning and hooked up the plow/wheelweights I found and purchased last week. My neighbor, Jeff, was kind enough to lend his garden for testing the plow since ours had already been plowed this fall (see earlier post). His garden was in the soft bottom land and was tilled this spring. The soft dirt broke up easily and sure was fun to plow. The boys even gave it their seal of approval after they inspected it on their hands and knees! I still have a little adjustment to do on the plow, but it sure can dig. Now all we need is some snow so we can try out the snow plow!





Woodstove Upgrade



M-The old Fisher Baby Bear was a great stove, but it wasn't quite big enough for this house. I picked up this Vermont Castings Resolute off of craigslist a while back, but just got around to installing it. It puts out a good bit more heat and has no trouble getting the house up to 75 in the coldest of weather. The damper and thermostat on it are a little fiddly, but overall it is a good stove. I cleaned the chimney after buring a lot of yellow pine and there was very little creosote.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apples

M- Our apple trees didn't produce much this year, 4 apples if I recall exactly, so we picked up this 50 lb bag of apples for $8 from a roadside stand. We made applesauce, apple pies, apple cobler, and ate tons of fresh apples. The animals sure enjoyed the peels and cores!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Compost Pile


M- I decided to build my compost pile right in the middle of the garden so all I have to do next spring is spread it out and plant. I started with a load of bark mulch from our local sawmill. I would have preferred some older, more rotted, bark, but the fellow at the mill could not get to it the way they had piled the bark. I had a few frozen hides from our lambs and hog that no one wanted, so I put them at the bottom of the pile and proceeded to unload the mulch on top of the hides. Every 10-12 inches, I stopped and spread a high nitrogen fertilizer on the pile and watered it in. This, in combination with the hides, will supply the nitrogen necessary for the proper nitrogen/carbon ratio to really compost the bark well. I would have preferred all organic nitrogen, but it is a little hard to come by as more and more folks are hanging on to their livestock manure these days. A few days after the pile was built, it heated up and steamed for quite some time. We should have good compost come spring!




Friday, November 5, 2010

Celerate Good Times

Thanks to everyone who came out to BBQ on Silver Creek. The weather was fine and the food was good but the company was grand! We had a lot to celebrate and were so glad to share it with our friends and family. As usual, my photography is inadequate but you will get the idea.The guest of honor

This was the most photographed quest of the day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Garden Work

Until now, we have never mechanically tilled the garden. Over the past two and a half years, pigs have done it all. However, our pig that we raised in the garden last winter did a great job of rooting up the garden early on, only to pack it down tightly after a long wet spell. We planted in the packed dirt, only loosening a small spot for each plant and hoped that putting a layer of wood chips over the hard packed soil would help the worms do their job. As far as growth goes, the garden did just fine (we just had rain and insect issues). After the garden was done, we dug down through the woodchips to find that the layer of hard packed dirt was still there. Although it probably would have been fine to leave, we decide to till the garden. Even the tiller had a tough time cutting through the packed clay, so we traded some favors with our neighbor and good friend Jamie to bring over his 1950's Ford tractor and run his plow through the garden a few times to break things up a bit. The plow probably ran 12 inches or so deep and was able to break up in a few minutes what would have taken our 5hp front tine tiller several hours. After plowing, we ran the tiller around a little just to break up the clods and get into the corners where the tractor could not go.

We were very happy to see lots of rich dark dirt coming to the surface, even from 12 inches down.
After Plowing

Just a little of the red clay we started out with came to the surface.

After breaking up the clods with the tiller and raking a bit it looks pretty good. The plan now is to get several trailer loads of tree bark compost from the local sawmill, build a pile in the center of the garden which will be used to compost other materials through the winter, then spread over the garden before planting next spring.




Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tarps

Last year we bought an expensive heavy duty tarp from our local hardware store to cover our hay, it lasted all of 6 months. Thanks to some helpful advice from the folks at http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/ we called a local billboard company to see if they had any signs they were taking down. The company said yes and below is what we got. What you can't see is that the underside is advertising a housing development. The signs are heavy duty reinforced vinyl and so far so good. And the best part is that they were free!

Woodchips

We use a lot of woodchips around the farm for mulching plants. They help retain moisture during our hot summers and add organic material to the soil. We also use it to bed the pigs we have raised to keep odor down. We have several sources for the chips/mulch. The city of Morganton mulches yard waste and sells it for around $10 a truck/trailer load, but it is a good 20 minute drive from the house. We have purchased a few loads from the city, but we prefer begging tree companies to dump their chips! No hauling and they are free because it saves the tree company from paying fees at the dump. There is also a sawmill only a couple of miles away that sells their bark the take off the logs. We have not hauled any from them yet, but they have some old bark that has composted down nicely that we are hoping to get a few loads this winter for our garden. The pile below came from a tree company owned by Nate's teacher's husband. The pile heated a little bit when we first got it, but has since cooled off.

Bamboo

Four years ago, (before we even moved in), we planted bamboo down by the creek. Those first plants had a tough go at things. We didn't quite know how to transplant it yet (our root balls were WAY too small), the summer was terribly dry (and we weren't here to water), we planted them next to black walnuts (which inhibit growth). Despite all of our errors, a few of those original plants are still hanging on. Since then we have added 5 other varieties of bamboo. Some are growing faster than others, who would have thought it would have taken so long to get such a fast growing plant established. A lot of people ask us why we like bamboo. Here are ten reasons:

1.People food
2.Animal food
3.Erosion Control
4.Wind break
5.Nutrient removal from runoff.
6.Building material, plant stakes, ect.
7.Visual screen.
8.Cool place for kids to play.
9.Adds excitement to the bonfire.
10.We just like it!
This has been our fastest growing bamboo, it gets the most light, which sure does help. It is an unknown variety from a grove off of Sardis Rd in Charlotte, NC.
This is the giant of the temperate bamboos, Moso, it can grow up to eight inches in diameter and makes some of the best tasting shoots. This start is from a grove at a cemetery in Anderson, SC.

These are two starts we planted by the road. Unfortunately, we are going to have to move them because the water company is putting in a new line. The one in the background is "Allgold" purchased at the Bamboo Festival held at the NC Arboretum in Asheville, NC. The bamboo in the foreground is an unknown variety from a grove in Mint Hill, NC. Young bamboos are difficult to identify as many of their distinguishing characteristics do not show up until they start to mature. The shoots are the best way to identify different species, and we are hoping to be able to identify the unknowns next spring.




2010 Garden and Orchard

2010 has been a fair year as far as gardening goes. Seemed like we had wet spells followed by dry spells and very little "just right". We have a lot of great ideas for next year if we can just remember them next spring! The orchard trees seem to be doing okay, we just need patience at this point. A wild persimmon that came up in the front yard produced well this year.
Our tomatoes well after their prime.


Peppers

Okra

One of our pitiful little gala apples. They tasted great, but our apple trees have had trouble with fungus.

These are a few "Caroline" raspberries from starts that our friend, Walt, gave us. We only got enough for a tempting taste this year, but hopefully next year we will get more.


One of our nectarine trees. We didn't get anything from this tree this year, but one of our peach trees did yield a few delicious peaches.

These are the blueberry bushes from a local nursery. They are rabbit eye varieties and should get very large. We did get a few before the birds did. We might be in for some bird netting in the future.


This is our grape arbor we built last spring. There are two muscadines and two seedless grapes. The muscadines seem to be doing much better than the grapes.

Beef, its what's for dinner...

Our steer is growing well. We are not quite sure exactly how old he is but we got him in spring of 09 at around 300 lbs. Only a few months left before he goes to freezer camp. We started giving him 10 lbs of grain a day with hopes of nice marbled steaks! Funny thing is he never made a peep before starting him on grain, now he bellows for his dinner everytime he sees us!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Autumn at Last!

I love Fall! I love the food; the squash, the apples, the pork, the cinnamon. I love the weather; the cool mornings to wake me up, the warm days to be outside, and the cool evenings perfect for campfires. I love the holidays. Halloween and Thanksgiving are such fun without the anxiety and commercialism of Christmas. I love the colors. We camped in Pisgah last weekend and saw the first hints of the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows to come.

This fall we have lots of plans. A yard sale, a trip to the zoo, and a BBQ top the list. There are also summer annuals to till under or feed to the chickens and fall crops to put in. This spring's lambs are ready for processing and it's just about time to brew another batch of beer.

So, swing on by any time and see what's going on this Autumn on Silver Creek.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our Productive Neighbors

Looking for great produce and meats for sale in Morganton? Check out our productive Silver Creek neighbors on Bluebird Farm. They are working really hard to make quality produce and meat available to the public.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Think We Have a Squash Bug Problem...

This was the last straw, next year I am getting guineas!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Picked up a used Vermont Castings Resolute off of Craigslist. The Fisher Baby Bear perfect for our old Charlotte house, but was just a little too small for Morganton. Soon after getting it home the power company took down a 40 inch red oak at the neighbor's house. He was kind enough to give us all the wood in exchange for getting it out of his front yard! The main trunk section was split with a little help from a black powder charge. We figure we got close to 8 cords out of this massive 80 year old oak, but that will be for a winter several years down the road. This years and next years supply is already put up in the wood shed (it holds 8 cords)