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It’s December already and many changes have happened here on Deberosa II. 

First of all – a new tractor arrived yesterday!

Massey Fergusson 1529

This is a bit beefier than the Mahindra I had before, although it’s about the same size.  The bucket teeth and hooks were added and much stronger than we had before.  The tires are filled with fluid already.  The three point hitch is much stronger.  This tractor has a 9 by 9 syncro shuttle transmission that will take getting used to but didn’t seem too difficult.  We’ll get the tiller and brush hog in the spring.  Right now it will be moving chips and plowing snow and hauling stuff around the homestead.

In addition we added a new puppy to the farm – Sheila is a purebred English Shepard.  She is a fiesty little girl and really loves to herd just about anything – Jake, us, visitors, chickens and the cats. 😉 

English Sheppard farm dog.

8 weeks old.

She is being trained to work with the birds at this point:

We harvested a home grown turkey for Thanksgiving.  Processing was a chore because we are not set up at nicely but the bird turned out fine in any case!  It was a triumph just to be sitting at a table with home grown food after this major relocation!

It was a lovely fall here – damp but warm.

This month we will be organizing the farm into a business.  Not sure what all it will involve, but right now we are thinking of raising Guinea Hogs and growing nursery plants, some veggies and blueberries.  Haven’t decided for sure yet – so send along ideas for cottage industries that may work here!

Debbie

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Last year we could not use the stall in the barn for the cows because the rain (70 plus inches in this part of the country) would run off the back of the barn to right in front of the stall opening. It was a sea of mud all winter. To solve this we are putting a lean too on the back of the barn so the rain will drain away from the opening, providing a nice dry place for the cows.

We scrounged almost all of the materials! A friend’s old deck became the ledger board and support boards for the lean to. A pile of old cedar fence plus other old parts from the barn itself made the supports for the roof on top of poles that came from a neighbor who cleaned out his woods. The tin will be a combination of scrap from the barn loft and traded for scrap tin that another neighbor has. I did buy a few sheets of plywood but also used a few other sheets laying around the farm.

Here is the project so far:

Lean to project

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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. 
 

 
 

 

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Wow – it’s been a while!  Even with the very nasty weather we saw a couple of breaks to get outdoor spring chores accomplished.

Fencing

We got a major portion of the fencing completed.  A new area for the Dark Cornish chickens gives them a new quarter acre of brush and grass with their tractors and dog houses moved for spring nesting.  In addition they can go through the holes in the fence to another acre of deep brush so they are pretty happy now.   The other acre has a perimeter fence of hog panels with smaller holes at the bottom.  It’s ready except for building a simply hog shelter for three weaner pigs and Daisy, T-Bone and maybe new calve(s)??   In addition Jake can now patrol safely outside at night.  The first few nights he would bark in the early morning hours at something but lately all has been quiet so I think he has claimed Deberosa from the predators!

New fencing

Gardening

Gardening season is starting.  The areas where I put down the annual supply of feed bags and cardboard boxes covered by bark mulch is now wonderful soil.  I put this down right on top of sod and it’s completely gone.  Soon will make the annual trip to Whitney’s gardens for more landscaping plants for this new area.   I am also moving herbs into the new area – Valerian, Oregano, chives, thyme and eventually many other herbs currently buried in the overgrown area will be moved.  I moved the Rhubarb, placing a nice big cow pie in the bottom of each new division’s hole.  The onions and garlic that I planted last fall and mulched with straw are now coming up very nicely and I’ve started to harvest from the bed of Leeks that I planted last spring.  I moved the Seedling Aronia bush,  allowing large pathways for the new tractor and wagon.  Also did the needed pruning of fruit trees and berry vines.   This year I am going to build another straw bale garden in the back yard but the weather has been too nasty.  The 28 bales of straw sit in the barn right now.  I am using lots more mulch this year to keep down weeds.

Starting Plants

March is also the month to start plants inside.  I have a chrome rolling rack that I got at Costco with two 4 foot shop lights.  That tends to be enough for me to start seedings.  So far I put in dozens of tomato starts and moved them from 6 packs to 4 inch pots last weekend and then they go to the outside greenhouse.  Unfortunately the weather outside has been perfectly nasty ever since to I’ve been running two heat lamps and one electric heater out there!  So far so good for Tomatoes, basil, chard and greens.  Now the next round are under the lights just germinating.  They include another round of greens, a few more tomatoes, zinnias, cosmos, more chard, a few kinds of head lettuce, okra, chinese lanterns and some other miscelaneous plants.   After this round will be the squash starts in the 4 inch pots, and the greenhouse will be at capacity with this new batch of seedlings.

Animals

It’s also springtime for the animals.  One dark cornish hen already hatched out her brood last week!  She hid them in the wood shed so she has 4 little chicks in all the snow and rain.  They are a week old now and doing very well, she is a good mother.  Daisy continues to get bigger so I am almost positive she is pregnant.  I just hope she waits till I return from a trip for my job!  I am letting the eggs collect with the Buff Orpingtons this week in hopes that someone will feel like setting so far no luck…  However the straw I put in the dog houses and tractors for the dark cornish have been thoroughly explored and there are many eggs in nicely rounded out nests in the straw.  The three piglets will be here by the end of April.

Gee – no wonder I didn’t have time to write!

 Daisy at the beginning of March

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They were doing spring cleaning at Kurt’s work this week.  He caught them just as they were about to chop up a wagon they had for grounds maintenance and throw it in a dumpster!  The next day we rented a uhaul to get that wagon to the farm because it’s just what I’ve been wanting for hauling stuff around here.

New homestead wagon

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I started out thinking I could get by without a tractor around here but the more projects that got going and the older I got I finally gave in this year and got a tractor.   I wanted to get the right tractor instead of the cheapest deal and after research I decided on my Mahindra 28 HP Model.   One of the major considerations was not only the ISO9000 standards these tractors are built to, but the dealer took time to explain features to a totally uninitiated customer.  He let me drive it even and that was the end of it!  Some dealers wouldn’t even spend 5 minutes than they would find something else to do.  One went to run an errand back in the office and never came back out!!!  I bought my tractor the next day from someone else. 😉

So here is what I got:

 My new Tractor

I got the 4 ft tiller and it’s been great!  Except for throwing a pin in in the hitch the first time around that sent it bent sideways on the hitch (which was fixed with a little hammering and new pins) it has worked great – it has a slip differential so when it hits something it doesn’t break a shear pin.

I got a 4 ft mower and it works great too!  It has a feature that can ride up over rocks and stumps and that sure helps around here!

I got a 6 tooth ripper that I thought I would need before running the tiller but really didn’t need it.  It’s too close to the back of the tractor to be really useful.

BUt the bucket teeth are great!  I can root out saplings and rocks and all kinds of stuff with those teeth on the bucket.  I also had them weld two hooks on the bucket which I use all the time to tie down stuff I am carrying or to hook the chains to when I pull out small trees by the roots.  They are also great for lifting and moving chicken tractors.

I got the hydrostatic transmission because I didn’t want to deal with gears and it’s worked great.  I have about 50 hours on my tractor in the first year with no problems.  It’s amazing what I’ve been able to accomplish in 50 hours!

Mahindra tractors are also a bit heavier than the Kubota or John Deere equivalents so a smaller tractor is capable of larger tasks.   For my 4.5 acres this tractor is perfect.  And believe it or not the Kubota doesn’t have a step to get onto it – much appreciated in the Mahindra model! 

Can’t wait for the weather to clear a bit so I can start in on my tractor for more land clearing this year.

Here is a part of what I got done in an afternoon with my tractor:

Garden area cleared with new tractor

More tractor work

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