Saturday, October 30, 2010

The promised pictures

I'm really starting to hate blogger.  I've fought with this off an on all morning.  They keep changing how photos upload and make it EXTREMELY difficult to arrange.  I never know what order the pics will be uploaded and I arrange them after uploading and all of a sudden they move on me again.  So forgive the lack of logical flow.  Its blogger that lacks logic, not me.
The Chinese bed in the "orchard garden".  Chinese mustard greens in the bottom right, rest of the right side is Chinese cabbage and left side is bok choy.

The younger tomatoes on each side of a almost dormant peach tree.

Along the back are Seminole pumpkins.  Under the conduit trellis are cucumbers.  Small peppers on the bottom right and turnips at various stages along the left.

The bigger tomatoes in the middle.  Lacinato kale along the left.  Mustard greens along the right.  Some young peppers beside the tomatoes.  I'm considering tenting this section and trying to hold the tomatoes and peppers through the winter.
A small rosita eggplant that we'll eat next week.
The eggplant plants.  Very full.  Have required staking for months now.  They definitely have flushes.  I'll get lots of fruit for about 2 weeks then 2-3 weeks with nothing.
This is celery.  So they say anyway.  I have no idea how celery grows but its certainly pretty.  I would never guess it to look like this though.
Swiss chard.  I'll thin it some next week and transplant the smaller ones into another bed.  Which bed, you ask?  I really need more garden space!

This is the just transplanted swiss chard in the "vineyard garden".  The broken tile is a stepping place to cross walkways.

The logs for mushrooms.  Shitakes!

My seed station.  Using the window boxes works much better for growing transplants.  Most of these boxes are empty as I've transplanted their goods.  I grow a bunch, transplant the biggest, spread out the smaller ones.  A week later I'll transplant the next round of biggest, filling in holes in the beds of transplants that didn't take and again spread the rest out in the box.  I continue as such until all the seedlings are done.  I get much stronger starts and better bed use.
The bottom is the lettuce, arugula, and a few collard greens.  The center bed is all very small collard greens.
The watermelon is still cranking.
The overview of the vineyard garden: lettuce on the bottom, swiss chard on the right, watermelon on the left, collards in the center and the back bed doesn't get enough light in the winter to plant anything.  The grape vines are almost dormant.
My potted onion experiment.
The recent heat wave has really hurt the peas.  They were doing very well before.  I've now lost about half of them but I have plenty of time to re-seed so that's what I'll do.  Sweet potatoes are along the left.

The overview of the orchard garden.  I lay feed bags down as weed barriers but have yet to cover with mulch.  I'll get there.  Esthetics are low on the priority list right now. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Still Going

Recent weeks have been busy.  The kind of busy where I pause momentarily to pray the dinner blessing with my family, wolf a few bites and keep working, the day's work always draping over into tomorrow as well.  I rose bright and early this morning to see Husbandman off to conquer his Professional Engineer licensing exam.  8 hours of testing sandwiched with 2 hours of driving and almost 2 hours of testing protocol and instructions.  He'll be gone for about 14 hours today and come home blitzed.  His dinner request?  Ice cream.  And I just might comply.  :-)

The garden has been doing great.  I get to pick lettuce or greens a few times a week.  Some fruit is set on the tomatoes.  Even have a cucumber on the vine.  I planted an exorbitant amount of collard greens and swiss chard.  Most is still quite small.  I also am trying again on onions, this time in pots.  I put about 8 little seedlings in a 3 gallon pot filled with compost.  I intend to keep them going a long time and hope they bulb out.  Other attempts at onions were thwarted by them taking too long to grow that, come late spring, I had to rip them out to put in something else.  The pots will remedy that hopefully.  I also decided that I flat out need more garden space.  Husbandman and I took a stroll figuring out where it could go.  We decided on a place and I've been watching the winter shade... which is far too encroaching.  It would be fine in the spring but its already almost entirely shaded most of the day and we're 2 months from the solstice. Back to the drawing board.  This is where homesteading gets creative.

Given the previous post, this coming weekend, the one where Husbandman will be wallowing in brain fog, is basically our only chance to work on partition fencing in the pasture.  I desperately want to get some grass seed down during the next rain, but not until we have the pasture split so I can keep the animals off the tender grasses.  We have a long fence down the middle, most of the way down.  We intend to fence a common area that includes the barn, the turkey hutch and the main gate.  Then leave openings to the 2 paddocks with a single gate between them.  Move the gate from one paddock to the other while the herd is feeding in the common area and the move is complete.  I definitely think we can complete it in a day, but Husbandman is desperate for a free moment.  And his back is bothering him.  And the budget is a bit tight to be buying a big roll of fencing.  I don't know how much to press the issue and how much to just sit back and let it get done in January instead.

Today's job is canning, canning and more canning.  I have a friend at a church with a pumpkin patch and I've collected a few that were starting to go bad.  I salvaged much of them and have pumpkin puree in the freezer and pumpkin butter in the crock pot to can.  I also have 40lbs of pears that I purchased to process.  I've been waiting for the promise of cooler weather to steam up my kitchen with the canner.  Today holds that promise.  And if it doesn't deliver, then I get to sweat.  Its got to get done today.  May be getting a lot more pumpkins this weekend and I gotta be ready!

We're still waiting for Dulcinea to show signs of kidding.  I had her due last week and she's not at all bagged up, nor even that big.  So much for using sores on her hips to determine pregnancy.  And we were too slow in doing something with our buck and Helen is now pregnant.  She delivered in January of '10, September of '10 and will again in March of '11.  This is way too hard on her body.  I'm very upset by it but I never expected her to go into heat 4 weeks after delivering when she was still giving almost a gallon of milk a day.  I feel horrible about it.  We've decided to get rid of Copper and hold on to Willy (who we haven't been able to sell despite our attempts).  If Dulci has a buck, we'll keep her's who would have greater genetic diversity from the rest of the herd.  This would buy us some time to get our bachelor pad completed before immediately impregnating Dulci as well.  I just hope we can move Copper without him ending up on a table.

Yesterday, a friend with a tree business dropped off about a dozen HUGE oak logs.  MUSHROOMS!  I'll slice these logs in half, drill holes in the flat sides and pack them with innoculated sawdust (that I have yet to order... add that to the to-do list) and set them in that once-completely-useless shadey section.  What logs we don't use for mushrooms, I'll chop and store for next year's firewood.  It was alive just yesterday so its perfect for mushrooms but not so great for the immediate winter.  Sharpen the axe, I found my new workout regime!

The girl child is up now.  Its just a matter of time before the boys follow.  Then I can really start my day.  My seemingly never-ending day.  At least I'm not taking a never-ending test.  God bless my superhero.  I'll add pictures later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Goings On

This is a BUSY season.  Fall/winter planting is on-going.  Still milking Helen 3 times a day.  A batch of meat birds is growing well.  Turkeys are learning to cooperate.  The dog ate the best functioning goat nipple (not one attached to a goat, thankfully) and so bottle feeding little Willy takes twice as long.  Its not an issue except when we're late on the evening feeding and we're doing it after the little farm girl is in bed.  She doesn't mind if it takes longer to feed him.  We're also debating over siring issues.  We have Willy listed on Craig's list but have had no calls on him.  We're also thinking about getting rid of Copper... only because he's already trying to mount Helen and we definitely don't want her pregnant right away again.  That's way too hard on her body.  We're expecting Dulci's kid to be a buck and so we'll likely keep him instead.  It would give us plenty of time to construct our "bachelor pad" before unwanted pregnancies would be an issue.  But I also don't want to see Copper go for meat.  Not that I'm opposed to eating animals, but he's such a great buck.  There are plenty of do-do's out there that can be eaten instead.  Who would eat a 5 year old registered blue-eyed dwarf buck with a fabulous temperament?  Someone really hungry I suppose.

Anyway, for anyone who missed the "Here Comes the Sun" energy expo in New Smyrna Beach, you missed a GREAT event!  I was highly impressed!  We came away with a lot of info we knew nothing about previously.  On the specific energy side, 2 things stood out to us- this dohicky thing that recaptures energy generated by a running motor and allows it to be used before tapping into metered electricity.  For high energy users it seems like a great device.  About $400 outlay which they guarantee to pay for itself within 36 months.  The company, KVAR Energy Controller, has been in business 18 years and their units are still going strong all these 18 years.  We were thinking very seriously about planning for this investment but in crunching the numbers, we really don't use enough electricity to make it worth it.  Particularly when considering other plans we have to use even less electricity in the coming years.  But for others, I'd highly recommend it! 

The second highlight is a geothermal AC company, GeoFlow.  They design, sell and install geothermal AC/heat units which use the groundwater (a nice 72 degrees) to heat or cool your home.  It's a genius system!  They estimate that most systems have a payback time of 5 years.  You can also use its residual heat to supplement your hot water heater saving energy in that area as well.  We got dreaming about having it discharge into a tilapia pool, into our banana tree patch or sprayed over the pasture and they said it was all doable... cost effective, maybe not, but we'll see.  We'll have them come out and come up with a plan and we'll start saving to put it in.  I doubt it would be anything that happens in the next couple years or anything.  Something like this is bound to have a big outlay and so will take a good long time to save it up, but we'd at least know what the goal is.

So... are you sorry you missed it???  Well, don't worry.  There are LOTS of other great events coming up.

1) 10/29- Husbandman takes his engineering licensing exam.  Pray for him, please!!!  :->

2) 11/6&7- Fall Jamboree at the Pioneer Art Settlement in Barberville, FL.  I've never gone to this but we're really looking forward to it.  Should be a great time... and little farm girl gets to wear her bonnet!

3) 11/4-14: Volusia County Fair.  We're planning on taking in the rabbit shows and fun events this year.  Every year we enjoy this more and more... and we never go on the rides!  Total nerds like us would rather be learning and looking at plants, animals and other displays.  And I'm planning on shooting for Homemaker of the Year next year.  I was thinking about doing it this year... then I came to my senses.  This homemaker has too much housekeeping to do to have things ready by then.  :-<

4) 11/20- PURPLE COW FESTIVAL!  This is a MUST!  We loved it so much last year and it was only their first time putting it on.  We learned so much and are ready for more! I just hope we can stay the whole time as we did before.  The littlest slept in the sling and the older 2 held out ok.  This year, wee one is much too big and alert to be sleeping in a sling yet still really needs naps.  If you see 2 engrossed parents and 3 screaming kids at the end of a long day... that'd be us.  :->

Time for bed.  And remembering how thankful I am that our dog, Angel, stays on alert and barks away any creatures lurking in the woods.  Especially when she strewed laundry all over the yard last night and ran off with my shoes this morning.  Milking tonight, it was dark and late and she was barking and pacing the edge of the woods... but I felt totally safe.  Not that she would protect me.  No, but she certainly sounds tough.  And that's enough for us here.  Good night, all.