Vivian has been in the car a few times. The day she and her sister came to the farm as tiny chicks and for a few trips to the farm vet to work on her bumblefoot. Bumble foot is a gruesome looking bump on the chickens foot that be very dangerous for them, but is often fixable. We needed help! So yes, We took her to the vet.
Don’t jump that way!
This farm is named for the frog and eagle who were the first two animals we saw here.
The basement has window wells a frogs seem to get stuck in there. The biggest window is the one in front of my computer. Sometimes I am working at the computer and I hear a gentle tap on the window. I have watched frog jump onto the window, scale it and hop out, but they dont always make it
Waiting for the sun…
Today is one month after the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year with only 8 hours and 42 minutes of day light. The days are still too short but 9 hours and 22 minutes is a big improvement.
I have read that plants need ten hours of sunlight a day to really start the growth spurts. And we are just about two week from the big day, February 7th will be here soon enough.
Grasses that are now only inches tall will soon be up to ours knees and it will still be too wet to mow. We will still have a frost to contend with but soon we can start the plants that we will transplant into the garden in April or May.
This is a time for planning the big projects that must be done and prepping to make sure we have the tools we need to complete them. This includes:
- Looking at seed catalogues and picking which variety of tomatoes or peppers we want to grow this year…
- Marking the spots where water comes down the hill and makes our path to the chicken pen a navigable river, then planning a way to fix it before next winter…
- Tightening up the water collection system so we are actually collecting enough water to irrigate the orchard in the summer…
- Figuring out where to get a few more goats, so that our older girls stay young and healthy…
- Being overly concerned that everything is going to bloom or bud out way too soon – before the last frost…
This a a very random and completely partial list of things we need to work on before the days get long enough to force us to put all of this aside for the things that must be done right away.
Meanwhile, as we sit out the dark and rainy part of winter we find ourselves waiting for the Sun and the blooms she will bring.
Top grafting Apple scions in the field.
This is a quick video of field grafting Apple scions on to our already planted root stock.
Our root-stock (M-111) was planted the previous fall in a row of about 25.
Several of our trees were grafted on to root-stock and potted to be planted later. They are planted in the field on 20 x 20 spacing.
Grafting Apples and Pears
We picked up eight apple scions, two pear and one grape. Our shopping list above was to help us get just our favorite, but we found a few interesting varieties, too – including Marechal Foch a Pinot Noir hybrid.The apples and Pears we were able to get two or three grafts out of each scion and now have a total of 19 tiny but growing trees.
Our apples grafts:
Crimson Crisp – eatin’ apple
Kingston Black – cider apple
Esopus Spitzenberg – cider apple
Roxbury Russet – cider apple
Newtown Pippen – cider apple
Yarlington – mill cider apple
Our pear grafts:
Our five Marechal Foch are own rooted (not grafted) and seem to be doing well.
We learned to graft in a propitiation class we took at a community college, but this was our first time doing it on our own.
Grafting Apples and Pears
Planting Douglas Firs and other trees
We bought 130 trees and thought we could plant them all in one day. It took 3-4 days and we got rained on the whole time. Can’t wait to do it again next year.
Lucy likes to help us with our farms jobs. She went with us to buy the trees then helped us plant them.
We took the Mushroom Cultivation Design Course at Fungi for the People in Eugene Oregon in late March. We learned a staggering amount of information and were really excited to come home and start to practice cultivating Mushrooms. We were introduced to a few we did not know before our class and learned to make Reishi Tea (very relaxing sleep aide) and Chaga Tea (a great coffee replacement).
We can home with plans to build the equipment we would need to produce our own mushrooms on large scale. We have a lot of work to do before we are able scale up, but now is the time for building and learning. We built a small clean box for sectioning and transferring cultures. We started to build our own version of a Laminar Flow Hood (based on Ja Schindler’s Design).
Now it is all about practice and creating the right conditions for the Mycelium and Mushrooms to thrive…
Mushroom bag sterilization
Our first attempt at sterilizing Mushroom bags.
Tilling the field…
Tilling the market garden area – year one.
This farm has been great learning experience. Each year we try something new and get a little better. Our goal is to be able to grow most of our own food. We will get there one day, but are currently quite a distance from that goal…
We got a few vegetables planted, but had trouble getting the water hooked up on the field. A few local vendors offered to get us going. The first plan for irrigating our garden and pasture came with a $38,000 price tag. A second vendor did a little bit better, bringing the price down to $14,000. It still was not going to work. We direct seeded into the field, but after the weather start getting warmer, the rains stopped and we still could not get water – we decided to abandon that site for now. We had a lot of tomato and onion transplants and a few random seedlings that I thought we would lose if they had no water.
We started a second garden on the hill behind the house. The water hose would reach if we use 2 one-hundred foot hoses.This site was closer to the garage and it was a lot shorter walk when I forgot a tool. The soil was not as good as the soil on the field. It was a heavier clay and we had to add organic compost to the mix. We rented the same type of tiller we used earlier in the spring, but the clay was too hard to cut through and the tiller just bounce across the top two or three inches. We use a water hose and shovel to dig the rest. We broke up the chunks, back fill with compost and mixed the whole thing together.
Picking up seed
Lessons in Mushroom Culitivation. Part I – Logs
Our first lesson in Mushroom Cultivation was figuring out how to find logs. We had a few bags of Mushroom Dowel Plug Spawn for Fungi for the People in Eugene, Oregon. We just needed logs to grow them in. We looked on Craigslist to find our logs.
It was suggested that our spawn would do well on hard woods. A few months ago, we were city folk who loved the country. Which logs were hard woods? We didn’t know? We drove up a long road following some fairly vague instructions. There was snow on the ground. It was a bit exciting, but I am not used to driving in snow.
The logger had the flu that day, but he told us to come up anyway. His wife told us we could look through the log pile, pick what we wanted then come back to pay for them. She gave us a brief explanation of the difference between Douglas Firs and Maple. We drove back to the woodpile to search and found mostly 20 foot or longer ‘logs’ piled like pick-up-sticks. There were a only a few that were even small enough to fit in our truck.
We loaded up four logs, back up the hill to pay for them then on our way back to town. Lucy, our Giant puppy, enjoyed licking snow off of the logs as we drove home.
We drilled the logs and thought they really must be hard wood, because they were so hard to drill. Debbie was concerned they might catch on fire.
It took a few drill holes to realize there might be a better choice of drill bits and after a quick trip to the tool store we had a lot more success. We drilled holes about every five inches. We later discovered that we may have put way too many holes, but we think it will work out…Faster!We chose White Elm Oyster plugs for these logs.
Now we wait…
Wild flowers on our hill…