A Very Productive Weekend!

This weekend we pulled out all the fence posts from one fence row and built a new fence to expand the pasture for the sheep. That took all of Saturday and part of Sunday.

Here's the new fence and the happy sheep.

Here’s the new fence and the happy sheep.

Next I dug up four grape vines that were succumbing to overspray every spring from the field to our South. I moved them to our new “vineyard”, where they will hopefully be safe, along with the 6 new vines I planted. The varieties are Mars, Himrod, & Canadice.

Ten little grape vines, all in a row.

Ten little grape vines, all in a row.

Next I turned up the soil for our new raspberry patch. This will be just North of the Silkie chicken pen. They are Heritage variety red raspberries & the patch is a arch shape, at the center of which I hope to put a fountain someday.

All cozy in her new home!

All cozy in her new home!

Then I was plum worn out & decided to just wander around and enjoy the sights…

The asparagus is coming up nicely.

The asparagus is coming up nicely.

The kitchen salad garden is off to a very nice start.

The kitchen salad garden is off to a very nice start.

The ducklings are enjoying the sunshine on this beautiful day.

The ducklings are enjoying the sunshine on this beautiful day.

And now it's time for everyone to have a nap.

And now it’s time for everyone to have a nap.

Advertisements

Pipping!

Tuesday (5/10) I candled the 24 eggs in the incubator & found 22 appeared to be viable.  Thursday was the last day of turning and since then I’ve been checking the temp and humidity as often as possible to make sure we’re remaining in the correct range.  So far so good.

Early this morning (day 20) I went down to check the incubator before going out to milk the goats & sure enough we have one starting to pip!  I am very excited to see how we do over the next couple of days.  I’ll be sure to post more pictures as we go.

Cochin or Brahma egg pipping on day 20 in the incubator.

Cochin or Brahma cross egg pipping on day 20 in the incubator.

In other news, we sent the two Mini Nubian doelings off to their new home this morning.  I hope they have long, happy & productive lives with their new family.  We also have 3 broody hens setting on another couple dozen eggs out in the shed (one Phoenix hen and 2 black Silkie hens).  AND, we are getting over a gallon of goat milk daily.  I’m planning to make a rhubarb custard pie today with our fresh milk & fresh eggs & rhubarb from the garden.  I’ll let you know how that turns out!

Free Seeds – Extras from my 2011 & 2010 Baker Creek Order.

If you are serious about gardening, or serious about propagating heirloom & open pollinated vegetable varieties, or all three, then this post is for YOU.

Over the last few years I focused on purchasing open pollinated seed for our gardens, primarily ordering from Baker Creek in Missouri (with a few seeds from Seed Savers & Johnny’s & potatoes & onions from Fed Co.).  The seeds I am currently offering to give away are all from Baker Creek.  I’ve been very VERY pleased with their seeds & service & I do want to make sure that if you plan on buying other seeds you’ll seriously consider visiting their site at http://rareseeds.com

Each year I tend to order more seeds than I need & this year is no exception.  So I would like to pass on those seeds we can not use.  If you are interested in receiving free seed please send me your name and your top 3-4 preferences from the list below.  On Friday (3/25) we will have a random drawing and winners will be contacted via email, each winner will receive two different varieties of seed from the list below.

(*= Currently sold out at Baker Creek **= A Seed Savers Exchange seed variety)

Here’s the list of seed:

Striped Roman Tomato, 25 seeds: Originally packaged for 2010, 80% germination in our test 3/21/11.

Fox Cherry Tomato*, 35 seeds: Originally packaged for 2010, 100% germination in our test 3/21/11.

Snowberry Tomato*, 30 seeds:  Originally packaged for 2010, 85% germination in our test 3/21/11.

Sungold Select II*, 55 seeds:  Originally packaged for 2010, 65% germination in our test 3/21/11.

Black Cherry Tomato*, 30 seeds:  Originally packaged for 2010, 100% germination in our test 3/21/11.

Royal Golden Watermelon*, 10 seeds:  Originally packaged for 2010, 100% germination in our test 3/21/11.

True Gold Sweet Corn*, 30 seeds:  Originally packaged for 2010, 70% germination in our test 3/21/11.

May Queen Lettuce, full packet:  Originally packaged for 2010, No germination test.

Connecticut Field Pumpkin, 7 seeds:  New seed packed for 2011, no germination test.

Mama Leone Tomato, 15 seeds:  New seed packed for 2011, no germination test.

Sugar Baby Watermelon, 15 seeds:  New seed packed for 2011, no germination test.

Traveler Jalapeño**, 25 seeds:  New seed packed for 2011, no germination test. (SSE seed)

Red Romaine Lettuce, full packet:  New seed packed for 2011, no germination test.

Royal Purple Pod Bean (a variety of green bean) 20 seeds: New seed packed for 2011, no germination test.

Good Luck & Happy Growing!

(*= Currently sold out at Baker Creek **= A Seed Savers Exchange seed variety)

Spring is Coming – Watch the Sales!

You are surely just as busy as we have been around here.  The more frequent warm days bring an eager urgency to the chores, make hay while the sun shines takes on a whole new meaning.  These  days are filled with seed trays, brooder lamps, and special deliveries.  Each day brings a new and marvelous sign of the mirth of a new growing season.  Lambs, calves and kids are hitting the ground.   Ducklings are growing fast, and the chick orders are going in this week.  We have onion sets, bell and jalapeno peppers sprouting and eggplant and tomato seeds are next in line.

Now, as I mentioned, we are placing our chick order this week.  You might ask yourself why I waited.  Originally I planned to order direct from a hatchery.  However when we visited our local farm store a couple weeks ago I decided to check on their prices and minimum orders.  Turns out I could order the same breeds and in greater numbers and still save money!  The individual prices are anywhere from a few pennies less to twenty cents or more.  Plus, the bulk order placed by the farm store does not require me to pay shipping – another $8.75 saved.

As I chatted more with the cashier I told her I’d be having to place my order the next week and she mentioned that If I waited just a few days longer they would be having a sale on the orders.  This is great – I can order a few extra chicks, of the breeds I want, have them delivered to my post office and save $10+.   It is true that they may be arriving in May instead of early April, but hey, the days will be warmer and that can help reduce the time in the brooder.

Take time to check your local farm store or feed store.  They can give you a good price and they may even be able to help you out if you are looking to buy from local producers.  Take some time to get to know the folks at the counter.

Since I’m on the topic of poultry orders I’ll go ahead and tell you what we’re buying:

Buff Orpington (I want broody hens)

Dark Brahma & Partridge Cochin (son wants some feather footed girls or his rooster)

Ameraucana & Maran (daughter wants colorful eggs)

Meanwhile, my daughter chose to spend some of her birthday money on 5 ducklings – 2 Rouen and 3 Pekin.  They are filling the gap between winter and the arrival of our chicks.  Doing a great job of it I might add!

Thank you to all the folks who entered our February Freebie drawing.  Rosalinde in NM will be receiving a free copy of the book:  Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits.  Check back for the next freebie announcement!

The Birthday Girl with her Rouen duckling "Water"

The Birthday Girl with her Rouen duckling "Water"

How Does You Garden Grow….

Seed orders are complete! I have ordered from two companies which specialize in organic and heirloom vegetable varieties.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds- www.rareseeds.com

Fedco Co-Op Garden Supplies- www.fedco.com

Both companies have a great following among folks interested in seed saving, heirloom vegetables, and NOT supporting companies like Monsanto which are establishing monopolies on seeds through gene patents. If you are planning to get elbow deep in developing your own sustainable garden plot these are a couple of great places to start!

This year’s garden will consist of a greater variety of vegetables than I’ve planted before.  I’m eager to try a few of the older varieties of corn, carrots and zucchini.  Last year we let some onion go to seed and saved it to start indoors.  We’ll see how well they do.

Next item on the list will be to gather a batch of eggs to incubate!

February Freebie & Rabbit Stew Recipe

As you know we raise goats and chickens, but in the past we also raised rabbits for meat.   At this time there seems to be a much greater interest in rabbits on rural and urban homesteads alike.  They are quiet, can be maintained in a smaller area than other livestock, and are easily processed at home.

Rabbit meat is fine grained and lean and can be ground, fried, sauteed, and baked.  Any recipe that calls for poultry is easily applied to rabbit, as are pork and many lean beef dishes.

So for this shortest month of the year I’m offering a little reward to my readers.  A free copy of the book:

Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits

by: Bob Bennett

This is a gently used copy which helped us greatly over the years of raising our own rabbits.    If you are considering getting into rabbits for meat or show this will be a welcome addition to your reference library.

To put your name in the hat just “contact us” with your email address and the name of the book.  On the first day of March I’ll randomly draw a name and contact you by email.  Don’t worry – Free shipping for the free book!

Good luck!

________________________________________________

My Rabbit Stew Recipe:

2 lbs chunked rabbit meat

3T flour

3T cooking oil or lard

1/2 medium white onion chopped

1t salt

1t pepper

1 clove garlic minced

1 1/2c water

4 carrots

4 celery stalks

5 medium white potatoes cubed

1 can diced tomatoes

water

1 can each: corn (drained) and green beans (drained)

salt/pepper

___________________________________________

Heat oil in bottom of large pot, meanwhile coat meat & onions with flour and measured salt & pepper.  Brown in hot oil.  Add garlic and water, stirring to scrape the browned flour and drippings from the bottom of the pot.  Stir frequently till boiling, reduce heat, simmer & stir till thickened.

Add potatoes, carrots, celery & canned tomatoes.  Pour in enough water to just cover vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   Simmer until carrots just begin to soften.  Add corn & green beans.  Simmer 20 minutes more.

Serve hot.  Great with fresh biscuits.