Archive for August, 2008

The fall harvest is starting on Deberosa.  Here is today’s pick from the garden:

The Purple bush beans have been producing well with two large batches in the freezer and the next large batch ready for processing.  Carrots are doing well, beets are coming on along with many turnips.  The zuccini, summer squash and cucumbers are only just getting started and the tomatos are finally starting to ripen.

Three pigs also were harvested.  First “Big Pig” and “Squirrely Pig”.  They ended up with hanging weights of 230 pounds and 150 pounds respectively.  “Squirrely Pig” was the only gilt.  We kept half of each.

Also “White Pig” went to the butcher.  He weighed in at 187  pounds hanging weight.


Read Full Post »

August 2nd

On the homestead the weather has been perfect.  Been waiting around for a guy to come and fix the barn roof as a side job but he didn’t show.  I am sure he will at some point though so no big deal.
Got the corn all weeded, it’s looking real good.  Will mulch it good next.  Moved the cows again – Kurt drug a piece of fencing over their former area to break up the manure and I will throw some new pasture seeds there to build up that area for next year.
Been baking today too – Amish Friendship bread.  It’s from a starter but no one wants the starter so now I am overrun!  I’ll freeze a bunch of it if I can get ahead of Kurt eating it. Wink  I goofed up the first batch – only put in one cup of flour instead of two, grrr!
We have more chicks!!!  One buff in the barn showed up with 15 chicks!!!  Another dark cornish has 12 more and one outside the fence has another 12.  Also have two sets with 6 each!  That’s in addition to the first batches of chicks in June.  I don’t even know how many I have now but it’s alot!
Went to the farmers market – got my raw goat milk and goat milk shampoo bars.  Also got some Walla Walla onions that are amazing!!!  THis is from some friends of ours – learned her secret to growing onions here.  They need full sun and lots of heat – who knew.  She started seeds in February – put them out in April and gave them lots of water.  They were huge!  I bought three for our use.
THe next week is supposed to be warm – I am hoping the garden will really take off.  I have tons of green tomatoes, the start of zuccini, and the beans are flowering.  It’s looking more hopeful and now it’s a race to frost for here.
That’s about it!

August 10th

We got a good rain storm on Saturday.  Went to the county fair and met some fellow homesteaders, talked pigs and cows with them.  We were sizing up the pigs to estimate out big ours are.  “Big Pig” has to be nearing 300 pounds now and “White Pig” is getting close to that.  The smallest of the originally 3 “Squirrely Pig” is getting a good size too.  However we learned that the guy we’ve been calling to do the slaughter is booked until October!!! No wonder he doesn’t call back.  We asked around and there is another place farther away that we plan to try to get to because these pigs will be gigantic by then!  Something will work out and we’ll know better next time.
Harvested the multiplier onions today and they worked out pretty well.  The beans will be ready in a couple of weeks.  Put the new turkey poults out in the pasture.  And the rats must have taken the poison because I got about a half dozen tomatoes from the hoop house!  
Jake got one rat in the coop I use to feed the Dark Cornish chickens  I was in the coop at the time when the comotion started and the rat zoomed by my foot!  Then it went out the door and Jake dispatched it quickly.  We took him out at dusk to check for more – he almost got another one.  Can’t really put poison in that area with all of the young chicks that would fit in the tube.  
That ends another busy summer weekend. Wink
Oh – forgot – I also baked my first two loaves of bread! 

Read Full Post »

July 2nd

Around here this seems to be the season for farm tours!  After a blistering hot weekend where you barely moved it went back to the 70’s.  Friends with grandkids came out to visit – hold the baby chicks that a hen just came out of the barn with, feed the pigs, cuddle the kittens and go home with a handful of peacock feathers.
Then we got to tour a neighbor’s farm today!  What fun!  She called this afternoon – had a trailer load of hay to get rid of – fresh cut for 4 dollars a bail!!!  THey are bringing it by tomorrow morning!  That’s perfect – just enough for two small cows and delivered to boot.  Part of the deal is veggies this summer- I can deal with that!  Well, she has cattle on her 40 acres. SHe’s a widow in her 70’s on this farm.  We went out to the back 40 to see the cattle as I had not seen them before.  A registered herford bull and white faced angus cows, plus a couple of pinzgauer cows.  6 calves and boy did they look nice – 5 heifers and a bull calf that was a beauty – typical pinzgauer markings of the white tail and stripe down the back.  If we end up on 20 acres they would make a ready made herd…
The other cool thing is that I wasn’t there 30 seconds and I notice she has a whole stack of tin laying on the ground. Plus one of those street sweeper cylindrical brooms that are great cow scratching posts!  She says – you want that stuff?? Make me an offer!  We plan on building a lean to on the back of the barn and I have spare parts for everything except the tin roof!  Plus Daisy loves to scratch on trees and the broom is perfect for both her or for pigs I imagine.  I’ll be comeing back with an offer on both and see what else she has!  This is a very old homestead with a million treasures just laying around!
Then a Mexican family stopped by for chickens.  Bought two roosters, and two hens and two dozen eggs.  They’ll be back for veggies later in the year and they also told me the meaning of the word Deberosa – my farm name which I have on a sign out by the road.
The garden is finally growing.  I’ve got to take more pictures this weekend.  Half of the first pig is sold – we are keeping the other half so only have two more to go in September.  The pigs figured out how to diconnect the float on their water tank!  It must have run most of the afternoon and made a wonderful mud hole for them right back in the evergreens where they like to hang out – very spoiled pigs, and a far better life than packed in a shed in a factory farm!  I am going to miss them, but have to keep reminding myself of their real purpose.  It will get easier I am sure as they get even bigger and eat even more!
This weekend will be getting the hay organized in the barn, Kurt is going to rewire the breaker box in the well house so that when we lose power we can just plug the well pump into the generator.  In the past he actually had to unwire and rewire the pump! Plus it will be time to start weeding and mulching now that the plants are starting to grow a bit.  Still far behind but the first tomatoe will be ready in a couple of days in the hoop house.
We are also going to take a ride down to see the 20 acres that is for sale near here.  On the way is the feed store so we’ll stock up on feed for another month.
One other none homestead event – a former co-worker of mine won one million dollars in the lottery this weekend – go figure! I guess you have to buy tickets to win though. Wink 

July 5th

Yesterday one of the two tons of hay we got went into the barn.  Tomorrow the rest will go in.  It’s going to fit fairly easily in the main part of the barn.  We did get all of the old straw and hay mucked out for compost and mulching before putting down plastic or tarps, then pallets and then stacking the hay 5 layers tall.  That should easily last the two cows for the winter.
I did get my first tomatoes of the season – yeah!  I did some weeding between rain storms. The corn is growing now but getting smothered by volunteer tomatoe plants – at least they are easy to pull out and lay back down for mulch.  However while doing this I had an audience.  The corn patch has a strand of hot wire along it that has been very effective keeping the cows out so I didn’t pay much attention as I am bent over picking weeds.  Then I turn around and T-bone has one leg over the fence!  I yell for Kurt – he discovers the breaker has been flipped but not before T-Bone completes her move to the corn patch and heads straight for the tallest corn plants. Now I can’t get her out because the wire is hot!  She snarfs up one plant and I shreik and get her to the side a bit, yelling for Kurt to come open the spring gate!  We get her out but I lost a few of the tallest plants. GRRR.  Now they are blocked to the front – need that area to muck out the barn anyhow.
After that I took a break, sitting on the back of the hay trailer at the back of the barn and – there goes a rat!!!  Kurt joins me with the BB gun.  Not one rat, two, three, four – bunches! Back and forth from the weeds to the corner of the hen house.   I think we hit the biggest one but not very much luck!  So we rigged up one of those barrel traps.  It’s a board to the top of a garbage can with 1/3 full of water.  Across the top of the can is a stick and on the stick is a couple of toilet paper rolls covered with peanut butter.  Rat goes up board to stick – reaches out to get peanut butter but it spins around and dumps rat into the water.  We’ll find out tomorrow how well it works. Wink
The good news is we cleaned out most all of the barn to put in the hay and did not see a single mouse or rat or sign of them inside the barn – yeah!  
Well, tomorrow will be more work and I hope some pictures.

July 12th

It was hot here today – the garden is taking off and now the weeds are a battle.
We got the bedding all out of the lean to on the barn and into a compost pile.  In the morning you can see it steaming as it cooks away – it made quite a mound!  Next is the chicken house and we got a start on that before the heat set in.
Then we went to a garage sale – a disappointment, but somehow three new weaner pigs jumped into the truck. Wink  We got them at the same place we got the first set of pigs.  these are real weaner pig size, not the big ones like we got the last time so they should be ready the end of the year.  If we didn’t get these it would be September before we got the next bunch.  They are getting along fine with the other batch so that’s good.  We got all females and the farmer helped us pick the best ones in case we decide to keep one or two for breeding.  He rents out his boar and only lives a few minutes away.  Gee pigs are as addicting as chickens have been!
We are still eating fresh strawberries but this heat may mean the last of them.  During the heat of today we moved the contents of freezers around so that the second of three of them could be defrosted.  One more to go and it will be ready for fresh meat and veggies. 

July 28th


Still good if we hit 70 during the day.  A bit of rain, but not enough to prevent watering.
Been real busy this month – got the gardens mostly weeded and mulched – a big job!  Went on the annual tansy and thisle hunt and got most of that down.  Hauling in more hay for the cows since the grass has been poor this year and the cows have everything eaten down.  
The barn is almost clear of manure and it’s composting for next year.
Picking Berries but not much else from the garden!  It’s been a really bad year with the cold weather.  I am slightly hopeful that we’ll get some produce in a few weeks though.  Thinned the mangle beets tonight and gave them to the pigs – they thought that was great!
We got 9 new turkey poults – 2 naragenset, 2 royal palm, one blue, one wild turkey, two black spanish and one mystery white turkey.  All heritage breeds to go with my three red bourbon hens that all haved clutches of chicken chicks now because I lost my Tom turkeys last winter.  I still have more groups of Dark cornish chicks coming out of the bushes so there will be plenty of chicken for the freezer.  They are perfect to raise free rangle like they are – safely fenced in with Jake on guard.
The neighbor has an acre and a half field next to my property.  He pretty much leaves it go wild and it’s covered with ox eye daisy and queen annes lace.  The pollen drives Kurt’s allergies nuts.  Well last week the neighbor met me at the fence and wanted to know if I wanted to graze my cows on his field.  Turns out he is in construction and the down turn and a dead beat customer caused him to lose his tractor so no mowing for him.  We thought about it but decided the forage is so poor and the danger of not only keeping the cows in (he has little grandkids) but also stray dogs out that it would not be worth getting the poles etc. to do it.  However I offered to mow his field for him since I have a tractor and mower.  He was grateful for that so Sunday I drove my tractor over there and mowed the entire field – looks really nice now!  Plus the pollen count has reduced substantially.   I’ll offer again in the spring before everything seeds and my weed problems will be greatly reduced.  
Still waiting on more tomatoes, waiting on zuccini, and on all of the rest of the veggies.  I know they’ll all come in at once and it will be crazy again!
Zuccini and summer squash and patti pan squash and a few extra tomatoe plants:

Guinea’s checking out the newly mowed field:

Beets, cucumbers and flowers, plus some celery, lovage, cilantro and heritage rasberries:

Mangels, turnips, parsnips, carrots:

Corn (most of the “weeds” are volunteer tomatoes!)

Purple green beans (left) and soybeans (right)

Spelt (left) and ALfalfa(right)

Lots of tomatoe vines but no more ripe tomatoes!

Read Full Post »

I know, I’ve been remiss in posting this summer but it’s been very busy!

I have been keeping a journal of sorts though so I will try to catch up with this post for June.

June 2nd:

Things have been hopping around here.  I gave my earthway seeder a real workout!  I put in a huge corn patch and 8 50 ft rows of purple snap beans.  I still have soybeans to plant with it but it’s raining again – didn’t get it in in time.  However I think it will be plantable very soon after this rain.  Plus I’ll get in the other crops such as spelt and alfalfa.  I may try planting the spelt with the seeder also – just space the rows very close together.  One cool thing is the back wheel that pats the dirt down makes a nice shallow trench that naturally collects the water.  
I planted two dozen more tomato plants in the field and the remaining three dozen I put out by the road with a free sign.  So far no takers, oh well!  I found three tomatillo plants to try and put in a couple hills of watermellon and a couple hills of cantaloupe just to see if they will grow.
Tonight I put butternut squash, pumpkin and acorn squash seeds under the lights inside to sprout – I figure they will get a faster start inside until the weather warms.  It’s still unusual to get into the 60’s during the day here.
As soon as the rest of the seeds are in then I will start mulching which I plan on doing extensively this year.  I want to clean out the barn and put it all down as mulch, all of the scrap straw and hay laying around.
By the time that is done I will be looking around for hay to get back into the barn.  It’s going to be another busy month for sure.
I am hopeful for the garden this year – it’s been far more organized than in past years so experience is paying off!  Or maybe it’s that sense of accomplishment you get every spring while surveying the freshly planted weedless expanse of tilled earth…

June 3rd:

Moved the cows again – this time locked up the chicken feed so they can’t get to it.  We had a bit of cow runs a couple of weeks ago when they got into the grain – knocked over the barrels and pigged out!  Now they are busy mowing yet another area and seem pretty content.  They get spoiled – eat out all of the clover and then don’t want to eat the rest of the stuff, including the grass!!!  I think the five areas, 6 counting the pig area are going to make a pretty good rotation for them this summer.
Planted more of my field with soybeans (8 50 foot rows), spelt (about 10 by 50 ft) and Alfalfa (another 10 by 50 ft).  I still have another block to plant but it started to rain hard again so gave up.  Haven’t decided what to put there yet – maybe more alfalfa or more spelt whichever seems to grow the best as far as germinating.
With a little warmth and some luck I may have lots of produce for us and the livestock

June 7th

The sun came out here for a short while today – and it got over 60 degrees for a while…
This is the weekend of the Fawn Lake yard sale and I never miss it.  Today was a “one pickup truck” day. Wink
We got some great planters made from oak pallets from the old Budweiser plant.  Some of those white reed type screens to shade the back of the house when it does get hot in the summer – hopefully!  They were only 2 dollars each.  Kurt found a cool splitting ax – it has these wedges built into it that are on springs right in the body of the ax that work to push the wood apart.  It needs some cleaning up but otherwise in good condition.   I got a great denim coat for $2.  And I got a new pond pump for $5 but the biggest score was one of those patio bars that will make a perfect potting setup.  It’s got two metal mesh shelves and a glass top at just the right height for potting  You stand in the middle of it and it’s a u-shape around you so lots of work area.  And best of all it was FREE!  We were on it as soon as the guy was putting on the free sign. Wink
Oh, and at the last stop there was a box of free kittens. Wink  Shadow is having a tough time keeping up with the varmints and I was looking for some kittens.  One is orange and white and one is all orange.   Jake is taking really nice care of them now.  He makes a really great foster parent dog. Wink
This is the place I moved out of to start Deberosa.  Drove by my old place where I had put in hundreds of plants.  5 years later it’s a beautiful garden – at least they kept taking care of it.
That’s about it for today, I hope to get more planting done tomorrow if it dries out a bit.

June 12th

What’s with this weather anyhow?  
At least today it got to 70. That’s all it took to get the spelt and the alfalfa sprouting out.  A very few beans are peaking through and I dug up some corn so see it’s almost ready to sprout…  However I think I will be starting over with all of the summer squash and cucumbers.  Tomorrow is supposed to be cool again though – hard to get a break!
I am thinking I need to focus on things that can be started in mid June around here and put up another hoop house for the stuff that needs to get into the ground earlier.  Or I did notice that the plants in my straw bale gardens are doing great so maybe raised beds for those kinds of veggies.
This week has been “escapee” week also.  Tuesday the cows broke out – I saw them galloping across the front lawn headed for the garden!  Got them rounded up with minimal damage and found the break in the fence.
Today I go out to feed and my largest pig is on the wrong side of the fence!  He’s just laying there waiting for breakfast. Wink  Not too much trouble to convince him to go home for his dinner.
I hope we all see better weather soon! 

June 15th:

It’s 70 here!!!  Things are poking out of the ground.  I went and bought summer squash plants yesterday and today many are peaking through!  I thought they were dead.  But the cucumbers were dead and I got different kinds to try as plants.  Some lemon cucumbers which I heard are delicious so trying a couple.
Found some more yard sale deals.  Got a great cast iron dutch oven in perfect condition for $30.  ALso got a huge heavy meat cleaver for butcher time, also in great condition for  $15.  Even very sharp!
Stopped at the feed store to browse and found a magazine with a pirated picture of MY garden!!!  This will be interesting to see how it turns out.
Now it’s out to plant the new starts and enjoy this wonderful weather for a change!  My garden is all less than an inch tall but I can see now where I ran the seeder at least so progress!

June 15th:

I think we need the week to recover from our weekend!
Daisy got into a bit of pig feed now – so we strung up even more electric fence.  She has a bit of diareaha but I am also thinking she may be starting to calve because she didn’t get very much of the feed at all and there is stuff coming from her vulva – udder slightly enlarged at this point.  She is moving about grazing a bit and drinking so this may be calving time!  She has access to the barn with fresh straw though I doubt that’s where she will end up.
Got the squash plants in with Kurt’s help and watered everything, seems silly after so much rain but the little plants dry out in the sun.  THe good news is that now I can see where I planted everything – nice neat rows of beans, soybeans, spelt and broadcast alfalfa.   I think I will plant more spelt in my remaining space after planting out all of the pumpkins and winter squash this week.  I’ve been starting them inside due to the weather.
Also put in 6 more pots of tomatoes in the green house – like I don’t have enough!  The tomatoes in the hoop house are doing wonderfully, green tomatoes getting larger still.
We’ve got a plan now for the lean to across the back of the barn to keep the rain and run off away from the stall entry.  I have all of the pieces except for 4 posts and the roofing material.  Still need to find the cheapest alternative there.  Also going to put a rain spout on this so as the water come off the tall roof to this roof I collect it and run it to a big hole left by a fallen tree two storms back.  Rain is such an issue here, it makes a mess if it doesn’t have anywhere to go.

June 21st

I’ve been mowing like crazy – it was cooler again today so all day long I mowed and mowed and mowed!  If only my veggies would grow like that!  Almost all of the clippings are over the fence to the cows.  They ate some and are sleeping on the rest – oh well…
We went on a tour of a buffaloe ranch near here yesterday evening.  135 acres and he has 35 head of buffalo.  The grass in the Chehalis river valley is taller than my head!   THe ranch borders the river and was almost completely under water except for the house and barn during the big storm last December.
I had been wondering about haylage – and they happened to be making it in the field across the road from the farm – those gigantic marshmallows out in the fields.  They are very much cheaper than hay and popular around here because it’s sometimes difficult to get grass dry enough to make hay.  Sounds like cows love it so I may be doing it half and half this year.  THe “bales” are1200 pounds each!  Too big for my tractor to tote but I can have them dumped in a spot where the cows can get to them and open them up as needed over the winter.    They’ll be making round bales later in the summer.
One thing about buffalo is that they are not regulated like cows!  This rancher can sell meat retail off his ranch.  He hires inpectors to ensure quality but the beauracracy is gone since they still consider Buffalo wild game.  
Checked with the local meat processor to find out how it works to get the pigs processed for people.  The first one will go the first week of August.  
Jake showed his first instinct at herding when the largest pig got out of the fence and laid down and would not move.  Jake nipped at his butt till he was up and then nipped at his heels till he was back in his pasture – moved that big pig right along!  Today the pigs got the leek tops that I harvested and dried for addition to soups and stews,etc.
Tomorrow the winter squash will go in and I will start mulching the gardens.  Never lacking for something to do around here!

I took some pictures, some really sad pictures of my garden.  Everything remains one inch tall and another day without it hitting 70 degrees or the clouds thinning.  It’s supposed to warm up the next 4 days.  If things are still the same by the 4th I am going to replant and try to cut my losses.  I am thinking the tiny plants have used all of their energy in staying alive for so long without heat or light and won’t have enough to put on any growth.  Seems that way anyhow.  Only the beans and spelt are showing promise at this point.  Need to remember to forget planting until mid June next year.  Even the weeds are delayed!!!
Here’s my garden so far:


The tomatoes are growing but still only green – at least it’s a little warmer in the hoop house.

But my pigs are growing like weeds (well turkeys too!).



June 28th:

Well, we went from a consistent 10-15 degrees below normal for months to 25 degrees above normal!!  Spent most of the day watering and checking on animals in the heat and running errands to air conditioned places. Grin
I’ll go out to water shortly, the beans seem to love the heat, the corn seemed to start to grow a little so maybe all is not lost.  This is supposed to be the peak of the heat wave at 95 in the shade, so maybe there is hope yet for the garden!
We have to get a larger kiddy pool for the pigs – the big guy jumps in to cool off and he’s so big his butt sits on the edge and all of the water pours out!!!
Other than that just staying inside where it’s a bit cooler today – will have to do work in the mornings and late evenings for a bit.  Glad it won’t last too long but also glad the cold wave finally broke!
My “bonus chick” from last year’s McMurray purchase sneeked into the barn and hatched out a dozen chicks.  We relocated her to a safer place – Jake helped in rounding up lost chicks along the way.  He also helped herd the cows to a new pasture that I opened for them today so they could mow it.  He’s showing his herding instinct with the cows now – barking and nipping at the heels to get them to move and then jumping out of the way of hooves very quickly!  It’s fascinating to watch. 



Read Full Post »