Sunday, August 2, 2015

Greenhouse Growth

Greenhouse #1

Green beans in Greenhouse #1 are starting to flower.
What little corn sprouted at all is stunted. I blame that on a wayward chicken who got in and scratched through the soil shortly after planting.

Pumpkins are still doing poorly, barely making any headway at all.  Radishes are in full bloom.  I keep picking off their lower leaves to allow the vines more room and light.

I transplanted romaine into some of the empty space at the ends of the rows. It's doing very well, which is kind of funny, since the romaine in the garden is also coming along spectacularly this year.

More romaine, and wind damage to the greenhouse.  This side has been split since winter, but I had it covered with another piece of plastic.

The biggest melon beside the first flowering cucumber. The watermelon isn't flowering yet, but starting to bud. The rest of the melons are only about 3 inches high, and won't likely amount to anything.

The cucumbers are extras that Mom started.They also amuse me. The ones she planted in her greenhouse are easily 4 times as big. I definitely need soil amendments in here.
A bit of an overview.  It's quite sparse and unjunglelike.  Sad for this time of year.

And then, there's a sunflower 'tree'.  Obviously sunflowers don't require nearly as much nutrition, as they're aiming for the roof again.  The flower isn't blooming yet.

Wind damage - we had high winds for a couple of days that ripped the plastic off the back wall and roof of greenhouse #1.  There was minor damage to Greenhouse #3, and none to Greenhouse #2.

Greenhouse #2

As the best sealed greenhouse (the fewest rips and tears), Greenhouse #2 is always the warmest. 
It's achieving the jungle effect I'm accustomed to.  Sunflowers aren't quite so tree like here, but doing very well.  Nasturtiums are in full bloom, radishes are blooming, but less crazed, beats are coming along nicely, despite me harvesting the tops here and there.

I bought two melons at a late sale when I thought my Far North Melons weren't going to make an appearance.  They're flowering now, but the Far North's aren't far behind.

The dill is wild and crazy and seems to be everywhere.  I think I'll pull the sprawlers next year and try to keep it more contained along the back wall.

Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli are coming along ok.  They might make heads before winter.  The Brussels seem to be struggling with the heat a bit.  The beats are crazy.  They're only supposed to be companion plants, but they came up exceptionally well.  I couldn't tell the difference between the beat tops and the chard at first, so just picked here and there.  Normally that would stunt my beet growth, but it doesn't seem to be doing them any harm in here. 
 The cabbages and kale are stuck in a tangled web of spinach.  I was trying to let the spinach go to seed for a fall crop but it started falling over when it got too tall.  I've been pulling a couple of plants here and there, trying to uncrowd the cabbages.

Greenhouse #3

Tomato/Pepper/Carrot Jungle
I'm quite pleased with the way the tomatoes have filled out.  There are still a couple of smaller plants, but I think the overall harvest will be good.  The carrots have been overshadowing the peppers even though I keep pushing the leaves away from them.  I pulled a few yesterday to give the peppers more space.

What a shock!  I don't think I've ever grown such big carrots, let alone to see them this big in July!  I'll be harvesting a few of these babies every day or two for the rest of the season!

Sunflowers, nasturtiums, radishes, beets, peas, carrots, and cucumbers...  A mini jungle in the centre.  The cucumbers are just starting to climb the fencing, reaching for the sun.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hatchery Update

Yes, I do believe my adventures in incubating are now successful enough to call it a hatchery!  Batch #3 started hatching last night, and we are at 10 chicks so far.

We moved the incubator out to the new coop after the last batch because it was too hot in the house.  Not too hot for the chicks - the heat of the incubator and heat lamp was too hot for the people!

It's a more streamlined process now, with new chicks going straight from the incubator onto the floor of the pen.  There's no overcrowding, and lots of noise from all three batches of chicks.

I believe we'll be ok to do one more batch outside this year, then probably back in the house in September.

The first batch is almost big enough to move outside now.  I have a few repairs to do to the greenhouses after a bit of a wind storm the other day, and then I think it will be safe to relocate them.  (It's safe for them now, but not for my veggies!)

The second batch is doing well, although I'm surprised by how much colour their showing.  Most of them have at least some black feathers, and a fair bit of red.  Few are solid white.  These are offspring of my crossbreed chantecler/frey's dual purpose hens, same as the first batch.  I think the younger ones were laying more eggs when I started this batch than the first.

The new batch are from after the chanteclers went outside, using eggs from all of my hens with the alternate rooster.  I'll be keeping the whiter ones and offering the rest for sale.

Egg production is up to at least a dozen per day, sometimes as many as 16. 

The black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) are really paying off.  I'm feeding one coffee can of BOSS and one coffee can of scratch grains per night.  They get one 500mL sour cream container scoop of sprouted barley in the morning and forage through the day.  Although the BOSS are more expensive to buy, they don't require as much feed this way, so it actually saves me money.  I plan to continue with it through the winter, which I hope will increase egg production and over all health.

Eggs will be saved for incubating over the next few days, and batch #4 should be started by Monday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More Milking Adventures

We've kept up the routine for the past few days, letting Majesty out in the morning, keeping Queenie in the milk room pen.  They don't seem to suffer any kind of separation anxiety, until Majesty returns bellowing around 6pm.  Then she wants in and she wants in NOW.

We've been taking between 3.5- 4 Cups of milk from her, then letting her in with Queenie to finish the job.  After Queenie finishes nursing, I go out to check on Majesty.  Her left side udder is still tight and full. 

Last night #1 let her in to the pen to let Queenie nurse first.  After she finished, he milked Majesty's left side dry.  9.25 Cups of milk!  Half holstein does seem to be plenty of milk for us after all! 

This morning I checked Majesty's udders.  They're no worse for wear, and Queenie does not appear to have suffered from lack of milk through the night.

I think we'll continue this way, draining one side after Queenie nurses unless any problems develop.


One man's weed is another man's herb.

I have been weeding these plants out of my garden for eight years, and it never occurred to me to even try figuring out what it was.  Then it popped up in front of my nose on another blog I read.

Isn't it funny how we don't really know or use the plants that surround us?  I've tried growing black pepper plants, which is truly ridiculous in my climate.  Last year I grew nasturtiums and ground the flowers for spice.  All this time I've had this weed growing in my garden that I could have been using for a peppery spice.  Go figure.

"The young leaves can be added to salads or soups — they are peppery. The seed pods can be used like pepper. The root, ground and mixed with vinegar is a good substitute for horseradish.  The leaves contain protein, vitamin A and are rich in Vitamin C. There are no poisonous look-alikes."

And if you should happen to leave them in your garden over the winter, they're all dried out and crunchy in the spring.

For now, I've been munching on a few seed pods while weeding.  They have a mild black pepper taste.  I pulled a bunch out and started drying them whole for winter.  I'm also tossing a few into meals as I cook.  The roots are very thin and short, and I have more than enough horse radish already, so I won't be trying that part, but as a spice that grows everywhere, and a plant that I don't have to manage, these make the menu.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Return to the Garden

Well, I was caught up in the garden...
This is what I came home to after a week away.  It amazes me how well the weeds grow with so little rain.  #1 says they only got a little sprinkle overnight, once the whole week.

All in all though, the garden is doing well.  There is a definite size difference between the front of the garden, where we unloaded the manure last summer, and the back of the garden, which did not get any soil amendments. 

My quad is supposed to be fixed this weekend, which means we'll finally be able to get the barn cleaned out.  With the snow fence granting the birds access to the far end of the garden we'll be able to unload all of the manure there, amending the soil while giving them access to all of the worms and microorganisms they can handle. 

The trick for next year will be creating a pathway to give the birds access to the front side of the garden.  A new summer hen house and yard on the close end of the garden would simplify things, allowing us to rotate the birds from end to end, year by year.  I can't see fitting construction plans into the schedule this summer though.

Even though I had planned to plant a lot more this spring, I'm finding the garden much easier to deal with in it's smaller size.  I'm not nearly so far behind with the weeds this year, and I think overall production will be higher.  Most of the spring veggies are coming out of the greenhouses as companion plants, as will a fair bit of the fall root crops.  The greenhouses allow me to grow more, in less space, with less weeding, than the garden, while feeding the birds and making the soil amending a much easier task.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

On with the Milking

Day 10 - July 13
Again, a very agreeable cow.  Again, just a drizzle of milk.

I decided to let Majesty out in the yard for the day.  I slipped the cow halter on her like there was nothing to it.  She's so sweet.  Then I tried to lead her out of the milk room.  Ha!  Who was I kidding?  First she stood there looking at me like I was crazy, then she pulled me towards her.  Once I stabilized myself, I braced myself on the door frame and tried again.  This time she nearly ripped my hand off.  Ouch.  She was content to stand there eating with the halter on, but no way was I going to lead her anywhere.  I took the halter off of her with no problem.

Changing tactics, I decided to halter Queenie instead.  Majesty didn't budge as we played ring around the cow.  Once I got her cornered I managed to slip the rope on her without too much trouble.  Leading her over to the post took a bit of muscle.  I tied her up.  Majesty didn't seem at all concerned.

I left the gate open.  After a while Majesty finally went outside and noticed it.  She ate in the yard with Patrick for a while, then let herself into the pasture and went to visit her mom.

Queenie tangled herself up a couple of times, but no harm done.  By the end of the day she had stopped fighting with the rope.

Majesty came and went as she pleased until late afternoon.  Then she paced around the outside of the pen calling Queenie to come to her.  I was willing to let her figure it out on her own, but #1 decided he would push her in.  She gave him a run around for about an hour, but eventually he got her back into the pen and untied Queenie.

Day 11 - July 14
1/4 Cup of milk.  Better, but not much.

Queenie was out in the milk room pen this morning.  I chased her around for a bit, until she bashed head first into the fence, then bellowed.  Majesty ran out of the milk room to see what was going on.  Then we played ring around the cow for a while until I gave up.  Majesty will stay in for now.  I might try again later, or maybe tomorrow.

#1 separated the pair of them and left Queenie in the pen loose.  Majesty came back bellowing in the evening.

Day 12 - July 15

1/2 Cup of milk. Improving slowly.  Majesty was let out again while Queenie stayed in the pen.

The Next Few Days

I left with Husband for our trip south.  #1 got a job.  #4 came home from camp.

#1 let milked Majesty later and later each day, preparing for the switch to night time milking.  Not more than 1/2 Cup.  They were adapting well to being separated. 

And then, #4 went to let Majesty out.  She didn't want to leave right away, so being the impatient 12 year old that he is, he walked away and left the gate OPEN.

The first day after, #1 couldn't catch Queenie, so he haltered Majesty and dragged her back up to the barn.  Majesty went through the fence in the middle of the night.

The second day, he couldn't find Queenie, so he dragged Majesty up again and tied her in the milk room.  He left the gate open for Queenie.

Finally, the third day, Queenie was back in the pen with her mother.

I returned from my trip, and we're back to letting Majesty out in the morning and keeping Queenie penned.

Eager to reunite at the end of the day, Majesty munches some grain outside the gate while we milk.  Queenie waits impatiently inside.  I would like to build a short fence to block off the pen so we can bring Majesty in to the milk room without worrying that Queenie might escape.  This works for now.

We're taking between 2-3 Cups of milk per day now, once again without effort.  Majesty is not quite engorged when she returns to the milk pen at night. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

South Bound

Leaving for our trip south now. Just testing to make sure I can post from the road.

These are the daisies gone wild in the turkey pen.