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.

Weeding....new 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. :-)