Sunday, March 29, 2015

Today's Take - 3/29/2015

Just a quickie, since I'm crazy whooped tonight.

For the record:

Duck Eggs - 4
Chicken Eggs - 11 (5 more and we'll be running at full capacity! Yay!)

In the garden:

Planted another 20 Yellow Rock onion sets in the same bed as the first lot, since the first planting have come up a bit spottily.

Bill planted a bed full of strawberries, a mixture of Benton, Quinault and TriStar, I believe. Some of them were already beginning to bloom.

Scatter-sewed a mixture of lettuce seeds over about 6 feet of bed space. The varieties in the mix are - Merveille de Quatre Saisons, Buttercrunch, Red Romaine, Cimmaron and Rouge d'Hiver. I treat them all as cut-and-come-again, so we should have a very interesting, hopefully long-lasting bunch of salad greens this Spring & Summer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2 Days' Take - 3/24 & 3/25/2015

The rain has been very limiting in terms of getting to play and work outside. I think I'm ready for May to be here, like, now.

Since the weather has me somewhat house-bound, I've tried to put that time to good use reading a whole mess of farming, gardening and homesteading books, including -

*The Complete Book of Potatoes
*Organic Gardener's Composting
*Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades
*Success with Organic Vegetables
*Top Bar Beekeeping
*Super Formulas - How to make more than 360 useful products that contain honey and beeswax
*The Candlemaker's Companion

I really look forward to making my next batch of soap, even if it won't be a goat milk soap this time. I'm planning on trying out a recipe for a Pumpkin & Spice bar using the last bit of pumpkin puree that we have in the freezer from last Fall's sugar pie pumpkins. Hopefully we'll be able to incorporate a little of our honey and/or beeswax into that batch as well. That is, if we're able to rob the hives anytime soon. But first, this stinkin' rain would have to let up!

For the record -
Duck Eggs - 5
Chicken Eggs - 14

Monday, March 23, 2015

2 Days' Take - 3/22 & 3/23/2015

Nothing too much happening here - rain, rain and more rain. Bleh.

In spite of the dreary weather, Scarlet and I went nettle picking on Sunday. I didn't think to weigh my take before blanching them, but it amounted to about 1/3 of a paper grocery bag full. Not too bad for an hour's walk in the woods!

Beyond the nettles. nothing but eggs. I'm hoping we'll have a good amount of them collected and ready for sale by next weekend in advance of Easter. Speaking of which, the girls and I will have to try using one of our big ol' duck eggs for making pysanky this year. :)

For the record -

Duck Eggs - 8
Chicken Eggs - 12
Stinging Nettles - 12 (+/-) loosely packed cups' worth (before blanching)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Today's Take - 3/21/2015

It was a fairly productive day today - 14 eggs collected and the two mean Muscovy drakes harvested and in the freezer. Tomorrow, I hope to get out for a bit and pick some nettles while the gettin' is still good.

We're also going to attempt to integrate our "tractor girls" into the main flock of chickens tomorrow. Here's hoping that the pecking order shake-up doesn't get too hairy before everyone settles in.

I may divide raspberry canes and  put more radishes in tomorrow, if the weather and the limits of my energy permit. It's 50/50 at this point... ;)

For the record -
Duck Eggs - 5
Chicken Eggs - 9
Ducks, butchered - 2 (dressed out weight was 5 pounds +/- each)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Today's Take - 3/20/15

Happy first day of Spring!

The Farm Stand will be open tomorrow from 10ish-7ish, and we'll have nuttin' but eggs this time around, as nothing in the garden is happening yet.

As for the eggs - boy can it vary from day to day. Two of the Muscovy hens seem to have gone broody on me already, and are doing their level best to stash their eggs in increasingly harder to find nests. Today they stumped me, and so we ended up with only two duck eggs from the two gals sensible enough to lay them in the duck house - Kiki, the Black Swedish, and Cocoa Bean, a Muscovy. Merci, mesdames. Now - if you could show your sisters how to nest in a nice, easy to find spot, that'd be great.

Whilst hunting high and low for duck eggs that weren't ever to be found, I noticed that the maple trees have begun to flower. Now if the dang rain would let up a bit, our bees could get out there and go ape on those blossoms. Maple blossom honey sounds divine!

For the record -
Duck Eggs - 2
Chicken Eggs - 7

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today's Take - 3/19/15

Just a quickie - two birthdays, a band concert and helping my teenager get ready for her Sadie Hawkins dance have handed my butt to me this week. Blehhh.

The good news is that Spring begins tomorrow!

For the record -
Duck Eggs - 4
Chicken Eggs - 5

In the garden -
More peas popped up overnight, and the first onion green has come up. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today's Take - 3/18/15

Whoopsie - birthday mania sort of got in the way of my posting for the past few days. But we're done with that until next month, when the birthday crazy train comes back around. In the mean time, I'll try to hold up my end and faithfully record the Hollow's happenings. :)

The plan I had for putting my slacking Ameracauna hen in the chicken tractor? That didn't happen. Instead, we put the 8 new laying hens that we just bought into the tractor and set them to work tearing up weeds for us. I think the results speak for themselves -

Day 3 - the tractor has been moved twice.

Not too shabby, eh? In addition to the yard work, they've laid us half a dozen eggs so far as well. Pretty good considering that they just went through a pretty dramatic life change.

On the same day that we got the new layers, we also got a mated pair of ducks from the same farm. The drake, "Tombo" is a beautiful I-have-no-idea-what-breed, but, in the way that good looking fellas so often are, seems to be a bit of a jerk. Whereas his lady love, "Kiki" a Black Swedish, is sweet as can be and a faithful layer of huge, pale blueish-grey eggs.

Between Kiki and the 'scovy girls suddenly deciding to lay, we've abruptly gone from no duck eggs at all to 4 per day. And in August/September, our 6 Khaki Campbell ducklings should begin laying as well. That's the thing about farming - you can go from feast to famine and back again just like that - which is why we don't take a second of it for granted.

For the record -
*Duck eggs - 5 (must have missed one yesterday!)
*Chicken eggs - 6

In the garden -
*Bill weeded 8 beds
*I planted 4 short rows of Watermelon radishes, with the plan to start 4 more in a week's time
*The peas we planted about three(?) weeks ago are finally starting to poke their heads up!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Today's Take - 3/15/15

It was a rainy, blustery day today, very fitting for the Ides of March. I really hope that the weather settles down soon, so that we can re-open the farm stand, as the eggs are piling up quickly, with even more layers coming on board starting tomorrow. :)

We're picking up 8 new-to-us laying hens and 2 ducks from a fellow farmer who recently sold her farm. That means that we will potentially be getting a total of 16 chicken eggs and 4 duck eggs per day very shortly. Exciting!

The timing is perfect, since the South South Direct Sales Farm Map just came out, and this year, we're listed. With our little farm stand now literally on the map, we're looking forward to getting more traffic, meeting new neighbors and selling them some of our fantastic eggs.

For the record -
Chicken Eggs - 6
Duck Eggs - 2

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Today's Take - 3/14/15

I was beginning to wonder if our Muscovy girls were ever going to give us an egg, when viola!, Bill found a small nest of three eggs in a pile of loose orchard grass hay in the goats' milking shed. The milking shed has been the place that the Muscovies have been hanging out whenever they manage to break out of the duck yard, which is a very regular occurrence. I should have known they were up to something!
Shortly after finding the first three, we found another egg in the duck house. Yeehaw!

The goods!

We're going to try these tomorrow, as none of us has ever tasted a duck egg before. I've been told that frying them is slightly trickier than a chicken's egg, as they can get overcooked and rubbery pretty easily. I think I'll scramble them this first time around. I don't want to take a chance on cooking them wrong and souring us all on eating duck eggs the first time out of the gate.

For the record -
Duck eggs (woohoo!) - 4
Chicken eggs - 6

Today's Take - 3/13/15

Nothing much (again) today, just three eggs, all of them brown. Hmm.... someone... or rather, 5 someones... are slacking!

I know that one of my slackers is Bedelia, a 2-year old Americauna hen. Even on a good day, when I get a blue egg in the nestbox, I can always attribute it to our only other Americauna, Snow White, who I see in the nest box each and every morning. I haven't seen Bedelia in the box a single time yet this season. I suspect that she is laying, but not where she's supposed to. I have a plan to test this theory, starting tomorrow, bright and early. Bwahaha!

Bedelia, our suspected shirker.

Snow White, reliable provider of beautiful blue eggs

Here's what I'm thinking - I have a flower bed that I need turned over, ASAP. I also have a brand-spankin'-new used chicken tractor that just so happens to be a near-perfect fit for my weedy bed. So, Bedelia and a brown egg laying pal (or two) will spend the day working the flower bed for me, during which time they will also hopefully lay a few eggs. If I end up with a blue one at the end of the day, it'll confirm my suspicion that Miss B is actively laying, just nowhere that I can find them. Exactly what I'll do with that information, well, I haven't got that far yet. ;)

Anyway, today was a three egg day. Hopefully tomorrow, the laydies will step up their game and give us a half dozen or more. A chicken lady can dream.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Today's Take - 3/12/15

Not so much in the way of taking today, rather, Scarlet and I did a little putting.

Carly-girl helped me plant out 3 1/2 dozen or so Yellow Rock onion sets. Hedging our bets just a little, we kept back about half a bag of the sets to put in in a week or two, weather depending. They already went in a good 4-5 weeks late, what's another one or two? The worst case scenario for having planted them late is that we end up with a lifetime supply of onion greens instead of bulbs. Doesn't sound too bad, all things considered.

The stinging nettles are almost tall enough to start nipping, and the Muscovy hens should (hopefully, maybe) start laying any day now. We'll have a really interesting quiche in our near future if the stars align and both greens and eggs arrive at the same time.

The chickens have been pulling their weight well, giving us 5+ eggs per day as of late, possibly on account of a) daylight savings time ending, and or b) the heat lamp running 24/7 in the brooder. In the case of the brooder light, I'll be glad that it's helping out the hens, because it sure isn't helping out the rooster. Darth Vader was crowing every 90 seconds like clockwork at 1:30 am, the night before last, on account of the time change and the extra light throwing him for a major loop. My neighbors are endlessly patient with us and our yappy critters, but I still feel awfully bad about it.

Our not-so-grand totals for today -
Eggs - 4

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

10 Days 'til Spring!

It has been a very strange Winter this year.

Not enough snow has fallen in the mountains to bank up an adequate snowpack to keep the rivers flowing happily come Summer, which theoretically means that a drought is on it's way.

I know that drought is nothing to joke about, but looking at the mud pit that is my bottomland right now... a bit of drought has it's appeal.

At the moment, it's cool but not cold, and wet-but-not-sopping outside - a pretty average day for the second week of March. The thing that keeps throwing a wrench in the works is that it has been still been dipping into the freezing temps overnight.

During the day, I get a wicked case of Spring Fever and want to fiddle in my yard and garden and plant everything in sight. Come nightfall and the steep temperature dip, I find that I'm glad that I didn't.

So far we have only planted out a half bed of peas for fear that the frost will pop back up and clobber them. I have some yellow onion sets that really should have gone in last month, but I'm still apprehensive about putting them out even now, for fear that they will freeze or be gobbled by mice before they have a chance to get themselves established. Oy.

Thankfully, I do have an outlet for my plant-fever in my grow table. We have an unheated back room with a big ol' South-facing sliding glass door that is a near-perfect location for a germination station. This year, I'm really reining myself in by only jump-starting the seeds that truly need the lead time afforded by the seedling heat mats and the grow lights. That means that I only have 4 types of seed started - Ground Cherries, Hyssop, Pimento Peppers and German Chamomile. I have direct-sewn the chamomile in the past with success, the seeds are just so small and light that they make themselves rather hard to distribute evenly, and end up growing in great clumps with large gaps between. This is my attempt at a work around for that little wrinkle.

The seeds were started 4 days ago, and when I checked them this morning, lo and behold, signs of life!

My tea-to-be! 
The Hyssop have also started popping up, and a lone Ground Cherry has sprouted. Nothing from the Pimentos yet.

Our French fry futures :)
Perhaps pushing my luck, I laid my seed potatoes out to sprout today. This year we're growing 3 types of spuds - a short-season variety (Yukon Gold) a mid-season (Purple Majesty) and a late-season variety (Rose Finn Apple fingerlings). If they manage to put on some nice sprouts in the next week or two, I'll next have to chit them and let them cure for a day before biting the bullet and planting the whole lot of them out. 

Pretty please, make up your mind, weather! Farmer Chelle is itching to play in the dirt!