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.

And the Garden Waits…

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Not too much wind, about 60 degrees, sun shining. So when my husband returned from turkey hunting, we went out into the garden to get the raised beds prepared for planting. We inspected the blackberry canes for breaks, checked over the grape vines to prune dead spots, and discussed methods to protect our elderberry bushes from overspray when they spray the fields around our place.

Today the high will be about 45 degrees. It’s overcast and the wind is high. Guess we’ll be focused on indoor activities in our garden preparations. I think we’ll be transplanting tomatoes and peppers then starting more seeds.

Meanwhile the garden waits, patient as ever, for the warm promises of green summer days.

Sweet corn growing in the raised beds 2010

Corn growing in raised gardens on the first day of summer, 2010

Kidding on the First Day of Spring

Pepper gave birth to a tiny doeling this morning!  I went out to feed everyone and for a moment I thought one of Magil’s kids had somehow made it into Pepper’s pen.  Nope.  She’s kidded for the first time with no signals and no help.  Whew!  I’m so glad she handled it like an old pro.

Our little third generation mini nubian. A doeling born on the first day of spring.

Our little third generation mini nubian. A doeling born on the first day of spring to Ramblers' Peppermint Patty & sired by Green Gables Fredrick the Dragon.

The beautiful results of Pepper's first freshening! The first Mini Nubian born at Brown Fox Farm - a third generation doeling.

This doeling is for sale & will be ready to go to her new home upon weaning.  Please visit the Brown Fox Farm website for details!

Sunshine, Goats, & Patience

It is a gorgeous day here in Northwestern Illinois!  The sun is shining & we can feel its warm strength.  Red-winged blackbirds, Pheasants and Killdeer are calling everywhere.  I feel like I’m right where I’m meant to be.

On such a lovely morning I felt that the goats needed to feel the sun on their backs and the grass under their hooves.  So after a nice breakfast of grain & hay & warm water out they went into the small paddock.  Now they are happily munching away and I took the opportunity to snap some pictures.

Fredrick, Pepper & Magil March 16 2011
Fredrick, Pepper & Magil enjoying a beautiful day outside.
Magil, our very pregnant Nubian doe, on a Sunny day in the pasture.
Magil, our very pregnant Nubian doe, on a Sunny day in the pasture. She is due to kid at any moment – day 156!
Green Gables Fredrick the Dragon, our Mini Nubian buck, ready for some attention.
Green Gables Fredrick the Dragon, our Mini Nubian buck, ready for scritches!

It is so hard to be patient, waiting and waiting for Magil to deliver, but this beautiful gift of a day is really helping my attitude.  Time to get back outside.  Have a fantastic day!

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!