With forecasts showing weather in the 60's for the next ten days, I am boldly marching outside and doing springy things.
Paisley turned 3 a few days ago and we gave her a set of garden tools for her big day. So, she and I have been digging in a lot of dirt this week! She was granted her very own garden bed- best decision ever! She just LOVES it! Digs, rakes, makes dirt 'pancakes', plants seeds, digs seeds, catches bugs, plants and replants onion plants. The fun is endless!
I, on the other hand, am somewhat more orderly. I have planted peas, onion plants, potatoes, lettuce, beets, and carrots. The last three in the list will continue to be planted every two weeks in small patches, so an early failure is no real risk.
I won't do any more planting until mid april, when I do squash, melons, beans, corn, etc and then mothers day is the day for TOMATOES!!!!!! I'd consider getting a green house JUST for the extended growing season for the 'maters. Thats what summer is all about. Fresh tomatoes.
Speaking of tomatoes, I am almost out of canned tomatoes. I ran out of my scrumptious tomato sauce a few months ago, but have really really enjoyed the raw packed halved tomatoes. Easy to can, and delicious to cook with! I have enough to get us through March. Then we will be without garden ripe tomato flavor for 3 months! WAHH!!!
Other spring preparations include fertilizing and mulching all 18 trees, 4 blueberry bushes, 7 raspberry canes, 6 blackberry brambles, and 4 grape vines.
I am trying an interesting method that utilizes cow manure. Which we have a little bit of laying around. Just a little. Maybelle plops about 12 times per day.
First, poke holes in the ground around the plant with a manure fork, sprinkle on appropriate fertilizer, sulpher, etc. Cover with a thin layer of manure. Spread out a layer of cardboard for weed suppression. One more layer of manure. Then finally, a nice thick layer of wood chip mulch. This will feed the plants all year long, be an attractive mulch, and will also provide a nice place to plant a few annual flowers if we wanted.
That is quite a bit of work, so I am getting a head start as much as possible. This weekend we will head to the city's compost and mulch facility with the truck and trailer and haul a few loads of wood chips. I expect to have all of the fertilizing and mulching done in about two weeks.
As far as other farm production goes, The hens stopped laying for 8 weeks over the darkest days of winter but are back at full steam laying ~6 eggs a day. For the fun of it I am trying to keep our net gain down around 4 eggs a day, so Paisley and I have been having eggs over easy on toast for lunch every day!
We had the roosters processed back in December and we have been so pleased with the results. The birds are juicy and tender. Very flavorful! About 4-4.5lbs each. The batch we processed ourselves were tough and stringy. We think it is because our water for scalding was too hot and partly cooked them while we were picking/processing. I don't mind paying someone else $3/bird to do a MUCH better job than we could do ourselves. We still have about 2/3 of them left. I think we will be ready by the end of summer for another batch. In the future we will use a cornish cross meat bird as opposed to the heritage breeds. They achieve the same weight in half of the time with half of the feed. No brainer.
Maybelle is giving about 4 gallons of milk a day. I had no idea her production would increase on her second lactation. So, we give about 1-2 quarts a day to the hens, take about a gallon per day for the house, and give the rest to Spicy Hunan Beef. Slider is about 7 months away from his expiration date. I can not wait to have home grown beef in the freezer!