oops, it’s autumn (i mean winter)

Well… it appears that we haven’t done a blog post in roughly five months. Which then suddenly morphed to eight months after starting this. That’s unfortunate as many amazing things transpired in late spring and all through summer, then autumn. And some seriously unamazing as well.

Here’s the nutshell version of things, as we couldn’t possibly share it all, but first, happy autumn!… and happy winter!

Our first batch of 12 chickens are all grown up and laying. This is Raven, our champion layer of mostly massive double yolk eggs (this photo was taken before the run was enlarged to include the chicken compost she’s on).

I know we started with a lot more than that but one died, as you recall, 10 went to the neighbors per a prearranged deal, and I have since sold 5 troublemakers. It was either sell or soup and even though I bought all of the proper knives and accoutrements, I opted for the sell option this time around. Next year soup. Lots and lots of soup.

Our second batch of chickens (7 girls) are about to start laying too, probably right around the time of the ducks within the next three or four weeks. Update: a few of our second girls are now laying. Not a duck egg in sight.

Two of them are Olive Eggers, one is an Easter Egger that I got as a surprise bonus and to our Golden Cuckoo Marans so we have the beginnings of a rainbow egg basket. Just need some blues, darker greens and more chocolatey chocolate. That’ll happen by Spring for sure.

Our third batch of chicks (10 girls and 2 boys) may not start laying until Spring either, unless they want to be winter layers. I think I have two but I’m not positive yet. In retrospect, July born babies aren’t the best idea. They end up being freeloaders a lot longer than spring or late fall babies.

And then we hatched our own chicks, but that’s a different story. We have 33 chickens now. ♡

Ducks are disgusting little beasts as babies, I’m warning you. You need to change their brooder every single day and it’s… yuck. If I were a nicer human, I would have changed it twice a day. I’m not that nice.

Ducks as teens and young ladies (as in outside ducks) are freaking awesome! They will make you laugh and smile and totally crack up several times a day, every day. They are the best farm entertainment I could possibly think of (outside of goats, which will hopefully also happen in Spring). And the most impatient (try to change their pool water without them getting in until you’re done — not going to happen). Three more ducks are getting added to the farm in February.

The garden was kind of a sad story this year. It started awesome in spring, then turned lame with the start of summer.

Thankfully it got mostly awesome again after that.

We had previously decided that all we were going to grow year one was stuff for us to eat on our homestead and get to the market garden growing and farm sales next summer.

Anyone who knows me knows that I can grow the crap out of anything except (bell peppers from seeds — we frequently quarrel) but most of our garden just refused to grow. And what did grow, the deer mostly ate. Except squash. The whole no fence thing? Dumb idea, at least until things are established. We’re buying some fences within the next few weeks to protect our autumn garden.

(Yeah, that actually already happened — we now have about a 3000sf fenced garden area.)

After a couple months of little to nothing going as planned in the garden, we tested our water PH. Things had been growing amazingly when watered by the rain but when we switched to well water via hose, they stopped growing. That was the problem! 8.4 ph, I think it was. Or 8.6? Now that we have that sorted out, everything is growing miraculously well again… just in time for autumn. Except our rainbow fingerling carrots that got off to a poor start.

Fruit has been a totally different story. Plums, pears, blackberries and apples have been so abundant. We even had early blueberries and cherries.

Canning has been awesome this year! My favorite so far was a maple bourbon plum butter. Oh and blackberry pear jam. We also canned spiced apples, chai spiced plum butter, cinnamon anise pears, plain blackberry jam and we’re about to do some pickled apples this week. (That was months ago.) I’ll keep you posted on that one. (Next year I’ll do a post on pickled apples.) I’ll probably also do some apple and pear sauce. (Didn’t happen.)

Cabin one still isn’t done but we literally didn’t touch it until about a week or two ago because we’ve been too busy with animals, orchard planting and other plantings… and everything else. I think the last time we worked in it was November? Maybe December? But the floors are now all done, all of the electrical is done, drywall and insulation is about to start going up in the living room and kitchen and everything will soon be textured and painted like that.

Holy crap, and we have a bathroom sink! With hot water to wash your hands! I can’t find the pic right now but I’ll share soon.

Paul ended up having to get a job, we discovered that he miscounted and we’re 9 pieces short on drywall so the cabin is once again in hold.

Advertisements

busy in the sun

Since the snow has melted and things have started to warm up, we’ve become quite the busy bees. Yesterday we finally got the greenhouse UV cover on our little hoop house (it’s not really that “little” — it’s 10×24′, which should be more than plenty for now).

The whole family pitched in and we got it done yesterday. We also have enough cover for a whole second greenhouse next year which is also exciting. We love not having to buy more supplies for our projects. 

It’ll be all tight and smooth on the ends once we get the doors built and attached. We have a few too many ideas on what we’ll be doing for doors but no solid plan yet. We’ll get that figured out in the next day or two and get everything complete within the next week or so. Excited!! We even dig trenches along the sides which we’ll line and fill with gravel so the rain runoff doesn’t flood stuff.

I also discovered yesterday that we have a flowering quince! The day before we discovered a hydrangea. Every time I decided what I want to buy from the seasonal nursery down the street that we haven’t been to yet, I find that particular plant growing here already or we’re gifted it out of the blue. Apples, plums, raspberries, bamboo, bluberries, dogwood, hellebore, daffodils, apricot, japanese maple, irises, hydrangea, quince… I really want to support local businesses but I’m running out of ideas on what to go there for. I’m sure I’ll be inspired the minute I get there though.

I discovered this yesterday too, growing and blooming off the back porch of my art and healing space. There’s so much beauty around here!

And a lot of work. ♡ Shovel compost, haul it, unshovel it, spread it. Repeat. Until the wheel in the cart breaks. Oops! We got way better fat wheels though and Paul fixed it all up tough and sturdy. (And then the mower drive belt broke, but we’ll have that fixed by this weekend.)

The last of the flame weeding got done too (and blackberry bramble burning in unison). See what happens when the sun comes out? We bust ass.

With the alternating crazy rains and lovely warm sun, things are growing like crazy. The garlic is huge.

The plums, nectarines, peaches, cherries, pears, almond and apricot are all budding and blooming. 

Even our super old lichen covered pear trees are going crazy with buds. This place is going to look so magical when all of these trees really start blooming, holy cow!

And really it already is magical. I try to go on a long walk every day, or at least a shorter one on days we’re super busy. The sun filtering through the trees and illuminating the ferns and moss is one of my favorite sights (especially when the gnomes and faeries come out to play).

I love shadows because shadows mean sun, of course. After weeks of gray, it’s so rejuvenating and welcome.

Another amazing discovery was this stunning crystal I received from the nature spirits on my birthday. I was on a long walk and was told that my gift was on the path I was traversing. A voice said “turn around, you passed it,” so I retraced my steps. When I was told to stop and look down, there it was! It was a beautiful day that started with thick heavy snow that immediately melted, and was replaced with sunshine and that soft fluffy rain that tickles your cheeks and makes you smile.

It was on the path diagonal from this stunning spot in the creek. The waterfall are re-emerging too. Spring is in the air!

This was our cloudiest day all week, and clear blue skies the past two days (but I was too busy to get good shots). The rains return tomorrow but I don’t mind because we’re cruising into down to get chick supplies. 
We’re going to have babies next month!! 

(Photo credit: mypetchicken.com) They’re going to live inside for awhile but we need to get our butts in gear and re-roof the coop, replace the missing walls, put up fencing and build laying boxes. They’ll be our free range farm and forest girls and I couldn’t be more excited! We just need to get a few blue and/or green egg layers and our little rainbow flock of layers will be complete. Next year, or maybe the year after, we’ll build a separate area for meat birds, but one step at a time.

We have lots more to share (like the progress on the cabin kitchen) but I have to make breakfast and get back outside while it’s still nice.

nine days later…

I’m not sure how, exactly, but I’d managed to forget that we have a blog, and that I’ve committed to keeping it up to date on our progress. Oops! Plus we’ve pretty fleepin’ busy.

We had a day of sun about a week ago that was purely divine (all next week is supposed to be sunny too, but cold as heck). The husb offered to assemble my shiney new dump wagon which excited me beyond words. Upon seeing the instructions though I kinda wished I’d done it myself simply due to the sheer genius of them. 1. 2. 3…

I planted the dozen heather shrubs that were gifted to us whilst he did that. Such pretty little flowers.

And then it was done! It was so glorious it appeared to emit rays of golden light. Kidding. But the photo turned out nice.

Because he’s the sweetest man on earth, the husb hauled some load of soil to the gardens “to show me how it worked” (which really meant he thought my new “toy” was pretty swell, I think).

The next day was awesome too. Awesome enough to work outside in a t-shirt in Oregon in November. I broad-forked my arse off and got the rest of the garlic planted.

I’m slow, but I got a lot done. This photo cracks me up because it looks like a did a whole foot or two, but it was closer to twelve feet. (Okay, probably ten, but it was nice to check that off the list.)

We’ve had way less inside work time than imaginable (planting, errands, other chores, more errands) but the whole bedroom and bathroom are insulated now. It’s warm in there even without the wood stove yet.

And the drywall is underway in the bedroom. 

Construction car has been totally slacking. She loves lazing and camouflaging herself on the insulation. In the dark, she’s invisible on it.

Things would probably be farther along but the past two weeks have been my busiest ever with shamanic and healing work. I’ve pretty much had a client or three every single day. That’s awesome though because it’ll fund all of the crazy “extras” I want materials-wise in my art and healing space. I can’t wait to share my ideas… it’s going to be pretty amazing. (And yes, I’m mushroom obsessed lately.)

I’ve been making fun gifts at night too — bath salts, herbal foot soaks, moisturizing hand scrubs, sore muscle salves, sea salt sprays, etc. Can’t wait until my apothecary is complete! I’ll be listing them in my shop then, and carrying them in a couple of local shops.

More later. Gotta go finish dinner. xx

garlic, rosemary, roof progress and food

I think it’s only been a few days since our last post but we’ve gotten so much done it feels like a lot longer.

The first garlic bed… prepped, ammended, planted and covered up all cozy and nice for the winter with an organic hay blanket. I’m a little OCD with garlic and lay it out perfectly spaced in symmetrical rows before planting (though you can’t really tell by the angle of the picture). I’m the same with tomatoes but everything else is fairly willy-nilly. Anyway, the rest of the garlic will be planted this week as well.

This fuzzy fellow helped with yesterday’s planting. 

My very firm plan of “nothing but heirloom varieties in the first 3000sf garden area” was immediately shot down by this lovely lady. Miss rosemary demanded that I plant her here. Technically though, I guess she’s outside of the official area and on the edge. 

Garlic is the only plant I know of it doesn’t like rocks intermixed but thankfully rosemary loves them. Try this: plant two rosemary plants right next to each other. Put one right into the earth and with the other throw in a couple handfuls of pea gravel or small rocks. See which one grows faster. In my experience, the one with stones doubles in size compared to the other within the first year.

We received the most amazingly beautiful of gift! She’s stunningly gorgeous and over 6 feet tall already. Maybe even pushing 7. Our beautiful neighbor and we were talking about dogwood trees a few weeks ago. I mentioned that that was the first tree Finn wanted to plant on our property because it was the first tree I had planted with my stepfather when I was young. He said he would keep an eye out for one for us because for every one good dogwood variety, there are 10 not good varieties in his decades of nursery owner experience. 

This one is the most beautiful dogwoods I’ve ever seen! She’s so healthy and I already know exactly where she’s going. We’re planting her at the property line near cabin 5 (the main house) so when we come out the front door it’s one of the first things we see. Right next to it is where we’re building our outdoor community picnic space with the grill/bbq area. I thought that would be pretty perfect because my stepfather not only loved gardening and dogwoods but grilling and barbecuing. It will be our first tribute to him and his life on this property. We miss him so much! 

This morning, Paul started the tear-off of the main roof of cabin one while awaiting The arrival of our friends Brandon and Jake (the last tear-off was just the addition).

I made breakfast while he did that (he didn’t marry a roof girl). It became a wee lesson. Finn somehow didn’t realize the huge difference between store bought eggs and fresh-laid yesterday eggs. The rest laid won in color and taste, he said. Maybe he’ll become a farm kid afterall.

It was all hands on deck for the guys. It was requested I prepare them oatmeal for lunch. Of course I couldn’t feed them just oatmeal… so I made it with apples, cranberries, cinnamon and other goodies and offered the toppings of sunflower seeds, brown sugar, pumpkin seeds, flax meal, milk, molasses, more diced apple and nuts. 

All layers of roofing materials have been removed and most of the sheathing has been replaced in the back. Obviously you can’t see it in this picture but that’s what they’re working on here. I’ll post the big reveal tomorrow. 

And it was back to the kitchen for me. ♡ I started a huge pot of beef stew in the slow cooker. You can’t come over to our house without being fed. If you’re helping out with anything at all, fed becomes potentially over-fed. I’m making pear cobbler next, and maybe “thank you brownies” to send home with the fellas.

Things are looking pretty around here, still changing colors.

Off to separate more garlic for planting tomorrow and Monday. (You want to separate them a day or two before you plant them, just as an fyi.) This is an heirloom hard neck variety called Chesnok Red which is in the purple stripe family. It’s a supper rich and yummy garlic and great for storing. 

lots of little things

Another week has past and we’re still chugging along slowly. We were potentially getting roof completion assistance this weekend but now it’ll be next weekend. So grateful and excited! 

This week we got the siding off another side of the cabin, the sheathing replaced, and got it ready to hang more painted OSB so we can wrap it. 

The bedroom ceiling and rafters are now stunningly gorgeous and you can no longer poke a broom handle through it. Yay!

This window is open… who wants ugly frosted windows with a view like this!? We don’t! We now have our new Windows picked out and ready to order tomorrow. These remind me of a cheap and sleazy 1970s pay-by-the-hour motel and I will be happy to see them leave.

Both sides of the cabin now have trenches dug and will have fancy diy drainage installed that will direct the water down the hill instead of into the cabin. 

Those things alone, once complete (well, once we get the new siding on) will mean that in a mere couple of months, we’ve easily breathed another fifty years into this sweet cabin.

Serious planting is about to go down around here. Above is the “before” shot: field of mowed organic hay.

The after (or really “during”) shot: luscious soil. I’m a crappy digger so even with a couple hours of husb’s help it’s taking a but longer than anticipated. But we’re using hand tools for everything right now. No tilling or anything like that. Tomorrow we’ll pick up some organic compost and amendments and I’ll have all our heirloom garlic, winter spinach and two varievarieties of kale planted by the end of the week. Woohoo!

We also got 9 blueberry plants (four different varieties) and were gifted a 10th blueberry plus a rosemary bush.

Lots of small but amazing things happening on the farm already! Oh, and a big thing — we got an amazing deal on a farm truck.

We weren’t even going to consider such a thing until spring but having to pay for every delivery of… everything (building and roofing supplies, appliances, soil, etc) and having to otherwise hire people to to haul our remodeling junk piles to the dump for us, etc, made it pretty much even out in the long run. 

Its first task was towing the Saturn out of the garage so we could get to the riding lawnmower. Piece of cake. The mower had a flat tire and a dead battery and as with all other things hete, miracles ensued.

Out of nowhere, we suddenly discovered that we have a battery charger and air pump. Those will be handy indeed! The battery is too dead to charge but that’s easy. That and a little gasoline and we shall see how she runs. Of course I told the husb it would be amazing if we had a little cart to pull behind it and this appeared: 

Yep, a “cart” to pull behind it! No more walking back and forth with 32 armloads of things across 7 acres.

It’s been another week of getting our hands dirty and making serious progress while having heaps of fun along the way. 

Tomorrow will be mostly sunny and warm enough for an outdoor bubble bath in our awesome new “tub” after my healing clients and our chores. We’re all pretty excited about that too.

Raking has been fun too. I should make the boy do it, but I really do enjoy it.

This is one of our maple trees last weekend vs this weekend. Leaf mulch!

I love this time of year so much! I’ve been going crazy making lots of soups, stew and chilli so we can come in and fill up on hot, nourishing yummies. We’ve been so blessed with this indian summer we’re having but I’m sooo excited to get the wood stove installed too. I love cooking on them more than in a slow cooker once it’s super cold out.

That’s the main gist of our week, in a little nut shell.