Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Very Busy & Wet Spring

Things are in full gear at the farm. So much to do outside, but it won't stop raining. We are back & forth to Illinois, so when we are up here, we need to get stuff done. I am excited to say that we will FINALLY both be up here full time in July! Our shop building is sold & we are in the process of finishing up the work there & starting to move things up here. And after being in business for 32 years, there is a lot of stuff to go through. Most of the equipment is too big to use up here or has too much power for what we need. So Steve gets to pick out some new equipment for the farm shop.
We bought the farm back in March of 2007. We are so ready to stop driving every weekend for 9 hours, Looking forward to a four hour work day and time to do all the things we love to do, like ride our bikes. I'm sure if our pets could talk, they would be very grateful for the permanent move, too. Riding in the car with two cats & a large dog is quite an adventure! They are amazingly good in the car though.
This winter we continued to work on the attic/guest area space. Today, insulation was blown in by Warm House Company from Viroqua. Dave & Jamie did a great job. It is amazing the difference it makes sound-wise. You can barely hear the rain on the (metal) roof on the side that was done today. The other side is for storage & will just have the soy insulation that was applied a couple years ago.
Looking into the storage space with the soy insulation.

The new cellulose insulation that was blown in today.
We still have the west end wall (pictured above with blue jean insulation) to build out & attach rigid foam insulation to. That wall will be drywall when we are done. The ceiling will get a layer of rigid insulation & then pine wood.
This is a shot of the bathroom & closet area.
Drywall might be done this weekend on the walls that are ready. Then I will call the electrician & plumber to come back & finish hooking up everything. What a difference from a year ago. Last year around this time, I was getting ready to hang garlic in this space. We still have some decisions to make about the space. How to heat it is one of them. We are tossing around the idea of radiant floor heat like we have on the main floor. Of course, in the midst of this, the shop sold & we have been busy with that.

Outside, we have enlarged the front garden and made a new garden area behind the back garden. I bought 16 more blueberry bushes & transplanted 12 two year old bushes into part of that space. That brings the total blueberry bushes to 48. I planted dutch white clover in the rows. In the rest of the space is squash, pumpkins & melons. The back garden is garlic (3,600), peas, beans, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, brussels sprouts & sweet potatoes. I left part of the garden to rest & planted a cover crop.

The front garden has everything else. The new part is cover cropped. The rest of it is: potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lettuces, spinach, radishes, kale, chard, beets, onions, leeks, turnips, carrots, basil, parsley, oregano, sunflowers and I'm sure there must be something else :-).

We grafted apple trees again this year & had more success this year than any other year. We tried a different method. We watched a few YouTube videos and decided to use wax to seal the grafts. There was only three trees that didn't take out of about 20 grafts. There are lots of cherries on both the Nanking bushes & the trees. The pears had lots of flowers, so I am hopeful for our first harvest of those. The plum & peach trees are still alive after the drought too. We have lost a few small trees though that were planted last year. The original hazelnut bushes we planted several years ago should bear fruit this year. The ones I planted last year....well, we can't even see them now due to the weeds that surround them. :-). Maybe after the garlic harvest this year, we will have the chance to trim the weeds around them & see how many made it.

Enough. I hope to post more, but I am not promising anything for a while. I will leave you with a couple pics of my girls...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winding Down Here at the Farm

Summer flew by! Hard to believe it is almost Halloween. Today we covered the garlic that was planted three weeks ago with straw. I still need to pull up the tomato, pepper & squash plants and put them in the brush pile to burn. We also are going to put horse manure on the garden before snow fall. Then I think we are done outside. As much as I love being outdoors, I am ready for a break. It's hard work taking care of two large gardens, 4000 garlic plants, canning, dehydrating & freezing the garden harvest. And doing the shop book work and running a garlic business, etc., etc., etc...
It is getting to be the time to think about making Christmas presents, sewing projects for the house and working on the new project, the attic guest area. We will have a full bath (the fixtures have been bought & plumbing is started) & the rest will be open. It will serve as a craft area, too. I have been painting the floor with a white stain blocking paint, which really brightens it up & sorting through all the "stuff" we have stored up there. Goodwill will be happy when we are through.
There will be a knee wall on the sides & the ceiling will be wood.

Steve has been busy finishing up trim around the windows & doors and putting up crown in the main floor living area. It is really coming together. Our next big project is putting in the pine floor. We bought it from a man who disassembles old barns and it will look awesome when it is in.
Grover the cat is almost as big as Tigger now. The are so cute together. They sleep together with Vinnie on the couch. Of course, there is no room for me then :-). We did lose a chicken this summer. The suspect is the Amish neighbor's dog. They failed to tell us that he was killing their chickens even though they could see ours were out every day and the dog was allowed to run lose. They have since put the dog down for killing their chickens. That is the third dog they have had in the five years that we have owned the farm. Very sad.
The grandkids are growing so fast. Hayley turned one in September!
Such a cute pic of Hayley by KB Photography.
Jaelyn rooting for the Bears.

 That's all for now. Will try to post more now that things are slowing down. Have a great week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Garlic Website is Up & Ready for Orders

Seems like summer is flying by, even though it has been so hot. We have been busy, busy, busy with the garlic. This year's harvest was over 4000 bulbs. We now have them all cured or curing & cataloged for sale. You can pre-order now for shipping in mid-August. Pre-orders are suggested if you would like to get the larger size bulbs for planting (or roasting).
Here is the website...

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meet Grover!

This is Grover, our new 8 week old kitten.
He likes the chickens...
He likes Vinnie...
And after a week of hissing & growling, I think Tigger is accepting him :-)
We are having a mini heat wave right now in Wisconsin. It is hot and that is why I am indoors while it is still light out, blogging. Working outside in this heat is killer. I did it all day yesterday & then came in & used the steam juicer to make cherry & strawberry juice. It was very hot in the kitchen, but oh so worth it. I wanted to get the cherry juice done before vacation so we can sit on the dock, sipping our cherry/lemonade drink while looking out over the lake & listening to the loons.
There is a lot to be done before Saturday. My list is long. One thing about the lack of rain here. The grass isn't growing much. I have been harvesting fruit every day though. Nanking cherries are now done. The strawberries just won't quit. Raspberries are coming on strong. Blueberries are just starting. The potatoes look great right now but we have been picking off potato bugs every day. I am going to hire one of the neighbor boys to take care of that while we are gone. If left on the plants, they will strip the leaves in a couple days.
This is the lower garden. The potatoes are the back 3 1/2 rows. There are also sweet potatoes, cabbage, squash & a few extra tomato plants. The hazelnuts are planted in the pasture area below.
There is about an hour of daylight left & the sun is down behind the woods by the orchard...maybe I'll get in a little more weeding :-).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Planting, Watering, Harvesting & Weeding

Letting Ron know I'm ready to go.
Concentrating on getting the trees into the shute.
The tree is placed in between the blades which are holding the soil apart. In this pic, the ground is already closing around the tree as the planter moves along. As soon as one goes by, another is planted.
What the ground looks like after the tree planter is done. There are hazelnut trees there. Just hard to see.
Ron was the tractor driver.
It has been a busy week! The tree planting went well. We planted over 700 trees in one day. I didn't know until that morning that I would be doing the planting. :-). Mark had another job to go to, so he left me & Ron ( an intern at his farm) to do it ourselves. It ended up to be fun (except for almost tipping over when we hit a rock). The pasture area is now a tree grove. It is very hard to see the trees & will be until they start to leaf out more. I do know each one up close & personal though after watering them for two days! I have been hoping for rain since then & it looks like we will get storms tonight sometime. I really don't want to water them again. We bought a 35 gallon water tank that fits in the utility trailer we pull around with the lawn tractor. I wish I would have counted the number of times I filled it up. Oh, and don't ever go down an uneven steep hill pulling a 35 gallon water tank in a trailer. Water shifts...remember that. I know I always will. So the tongue of the trailer is a little bent & the side of it a little dented up...I was able to right the trailer, drain the tank & lift it back into the trailer & start over. Could have been worse. The tongue might not have twisted & the tractor would have gone over with it.
What we've been harvesting...
Strawberries...43 pounds plus a full five gallon bucket that I didn't weigh.
Garlic scapes...20 pounds so far.
Nanking cherries... started picking tonight...6 1/2 pounds from one tree.
Raspberries...about a cup full. Just starting.
Lettuce...came up as volunteers from last years' plants going to seed.
Garlic...a few small stragglers not in the rows, probably put there by the chickens. front garden is weeded. Unfortunately the potato bugs have found the new garden.  We picked some off yesterday & about 10 more today. There were over one hundred batches of eggs on the leaves this morning & there were at least 15-25 eggs in each batch. I mashed all of them I could see. Last year they were vicious. I plan on keeping them under control this year :-).
Back garden is weeded now and the original hazelnut grove is also done.
Vacation to Minnesota is coming up fast. I hope to keep the weeds under control as much as possible until then. It is usually a weedy mess when we get back, so I will look at it as much as possible now. :-)
I have begun to realize that I am not so interested in marketing my garlic as I am growing it. It is the least enjoyable part of farming so far. Still trying to work on the website after working outside all day until dark. Need to learn more about getting the website "out there" so people find it when they do a search. Oh well.  I sound whiny :-( Time to buck up & get er done.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tomorrow Will Be an Exciting Day!

It has been a very busy spring here in Wisconsin.  Lots of projects happening. Tomorrow, Mark Shepard is coming here to the farm to plant around 450 mostly hazelnut (along with nineteen chestnut we purchased from him earlier) trees in the pasture. We are picking up a tree planter from the DNR that pulls behind a tractor (thanks to our neighbors for letting us use theirs) in the morning. Mark will then pick up the trees from cold storage in town & head over here. Should be fun!
In preparation for the planting, we took down a dead tree in the pasture. Our neighbor Jim came over with his chainsaw & took it down.
Dead elm in the pasture.

It's been dead a couple years and will be excellent firewood. Jim cut up the trunk & Steve & I took care of the little stuff. We now have extra firewood plus a lot of twigs for the campfire pit.
Here are some pics I took of the pasture tonight...
Looking northwest.

That's the neighbor's tractor in front of the barn.

Looking west.

Can't wait to see trees growing there!

In other news....we have a broody chicken. She has been sitting on the nest for about a week now. I feel bad when there is an egg under her & I take it. She is very calm with me though. No pecking when I move her. The other hens are pissed off at her for some reason. She came out of the coop & tried to hang out with them a little & one of them started to peck at her. Lots of fluffed up feathers & squawking going on. Vinne got upset with it all & chased the broody hen back to the coop :-).
Garlic is looking great & we have been picking scapes. I put some recipes on the garlic website for scapes if you want to check it out. I will be updating the site & am considering taking early orders for garlic. It should also be early this year, so shipping of the cured garlic could begin at the end of August.
Strawberries are coming on strong now, too. They are about two weeks early. So far, we've picked 28 pounds! Lots of smoothies, fruit leather, strawberry shortcake & frozen strawberries! Considering that we have a smoothie every day & eats tons of fruit with our vegetarian diet, having a freezer full is a great thing :-).
We just got the last of the garden planted this weekend. We have been enjoying the volunteer lettuce & spinach though for quite a while. The new "front" garden has potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, squash, pumpkin, & cucumbers. The "back" garden has the rest.
Well, time to get to bed. The alarm will go off really early tomorrow. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Spring!

Garlic is getting tall.
 Everything is budding here at the farm. It has been unusually warm for March. Kind of makes you wonder what summer holds in store for us. I haven't posted anything for a while but it doesn't mean we haven't been busy doing projects. Our newest project is tearing down the wall between the old guest area & the shop. The shop needs to be bigger in anticipation of the shop in Illinois moving here. No, it hasn't sold yet, but we have had a couple showings. Lots of rearranging is taking place to do this. Moving stuff up to the attic storage area & donating stuff to the resale shop in town. We are also making plans for the new guest area upstairs. Last year, we had a coat of soy-based insulation blown onto the ceiling. We are now insulating the end walls and planning the bathroom layout. The plumbing was roughed out for it two years ago when we did the main floor bathroom and of course we have changed our minds since then. :-) The plumber came over the other day & said our new plans are no problem and can move the things we need.
Steve has been working on the trim & pine wall wood & will soon be installing it. That will make such a difference! We also will be getting a sander to do all the pine barn boards for the floor.
All the Amish around us are planting their gardens. I am NOT ready for that yet. Not that I don't want to get my hands in the dirt. I'm just not confident that this weather can't turn colder & have a frost.
 Hayley is 6 months old now. They are both getting so big!

Apple tree

Pear tree

Cherry tree

Elderberry bush


Lilacs budding out.

Nanking Cherry  blossoms.
Best buds.
Hunter. She has been catching mice all week.
Chickens are getting big.
Tearing down the wall between the old guest area & the shop.
I will update as the projects are completed. Have a great week!