Saturday, March 27, 2010

More barn restoration

Barn restoration begins in earnest. We began working in a spring snow storm. A little windy up on those high ladders, but you've got to start sometime. We removed the broken second story door, cut a new hole for a first story door, and framed them both. We will be using the old planks to cover the second story hole. We needed the first story door to get access to the 100 years of moldy hay that is on the first story floor. I'm sure it will take us several years to get everything we want done to the barn finished. We'd love to make it look tip-top and pretty. We'd love for it to last another 100 years.

Oh, good news and bad news. We found the most beautiful thing in the back of the barn. A nest of tiny little bunny babies. They were so adorable. Actually, Luna, our hunting dog, found them. She didn't kill them though. The bad news is that we don't want more bunnies on our place. We certainly don't want them in the garden. No, we didn't drown them. I know we should have, but we just couldn't. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Daffodils are here...

Daffodils are blooming in the front yard. Every couple of days we get a new surprise. The former owner of our house planted thousands, I'm not exaggerating, of bulbs and perennials. It was a glorious, sunny day today. I took a walk with Colleen and Luna at dawn and listened to the birds waking up. Then at least a dozen geese landed in the fields. Later I was able enjoy the sunshine after I got home from teaching. We went for another walk with Luna and some friends. Luna was so excited to meet some new humans. We saw a couple of the gray partridges that seem to be nesting all over the property.
I'm going to start working on another phase of the barn restoration on Friday with the help of a neighbor. We are going to take the broken hay loft door, salvage the boards, and then nail them permanently in place. We have no need for a second story hay loft door (big enough to drive through) and we can't close it any other way. The pulleys are all a hundred years old and the cables are broken. I'm sure it will be a big project, but hopefully we can get it done in a day.

Then Colleen and I will be going to a conference Friday night and all day Saturday on local, sustainable agriculture. It is called Food on the Table. We are going to workshops on local processing for meat and value added products and to one on starting your farm and bringing your goods to market. It should be great. Both workshops fit our needs perfectly.

The garlic is going great. Or maybe I should say it is a qualified success. We have LOTS of garlic coming up, but we don't have as much as we had hoped for to sell at market. We were hoping for 300-500 garlic bulbs, but I'm seeing fewer than that. If I can, I will try to plant more for a late harvest. The seedlings are going great guns in the grow room. Which reminds me, I need to water them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Luna goes pheasant hunting

Luna's first pheasant hunt. We went to a hunting preserve for some training and to have some fun. Luna thought it was a grand old time. A few pheasants she was totally oblivious to and I kicked up. One she practically stepped on, and two she totally smelled and flushed. It was totally exciting for me and her.
She didn't retrieve very well, but got the general idea when I went to get the pheasant for her and put it in her mouth. Then we had to try a few times when I needed her to "leave it" for me.

It was a beautiful day in the field. Sunny, warm, beautiful country. Dogs, and guns, and birds. It was great.

Cooked up a great pheasant paprika dish. Diced bacon, diced pheasant, stock, cream, sour cream, carmalized onions, and lots of paprika. Served over egg noodles.

Life is grand. It doesn't get any better than this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More garlic, more plants inside, more spring cleaning

I've been uncovering more and more garlic in the garden, although that may not be such a good idea as it's supposed to snow a little bit. It shouldn't hurt it. It's only going down to 30 degrees. If it sounds like it's really going to freeze I'll mulch it again.

We have basil, several kinds of tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce up in the grow room. Peppers and more tomatoes on the way. Jalepeno, Habenero, Paprika, Chocolate Bells, Hot Wax, and Early Crisp Bells.

Just finished a major seed order to Territorial seeds. We're ordering rhubarb this year. I hope it takes.

We've got a ton of spring cleaning projects listed out. There's no way we'll get to them all this weekend. Pruning fruit trees, cleaning brush piles, assembling a refrigerator we got for free (we had to take the doors off of it. We are going to use it for eggs and produce for the farmers market.), picking up trash and various farm stuff, picking up tools from the work day...the list goes on and on.

We've got a ton more flowers on the way in the garden too. Just waiting for one more sunny, warm day. If we get a warm spell, I'll bet we get a hundred flowers all at once.

I'll be looking at our garden journal and at the gardening books to see when we can start moving some of the lettuce outside and planting radishes. Not right away I'm sure, but maybe in a few weeks.

I know the spring seems so early this year, but we could still have a big cold, snowy week that would kill anything that was outside. I have some cold frames made of pvc that I could put back up from last year.

On another note, I keep getting more and more hours of teaching work. Not that I'm complaining, but it's getting to be just about all I am interested in doing. The money is nice, but after a certain point it just gets too stressful. For the moment I am happy and content. Let's keep it that way.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Clean(er) Barn!

We worked on cleaning the barn today. We had four friends come out and help clean. We paid them and served a huge farm dinner. Ham, green beans and bacon, salad, cooked carrots, and rolls. It was a hot, dirty, nasty job.

This is all the manure and moldy hay we pulled out of there.

We got the two sides of the barn cleaned. One for goats and one for pigs. The old manure was two feet deep in places and had hardened like concrete. It came out in big slabs in some cases. We had a pleasant surprise on the first part of the job. The first side was in better condition than we had anticipated.

The other side, which was where the old milking stalls are, was not in as good a shape. Many of the boards have collapsed and there may be an issue of mud running down the hillside and under the barn. That could mean the foundation has already crumbled and the supports may be rotted. I'll poke around in there tomorrow and see if I can find any answers. In any event, it is still usable. It just gives me something to worry about.
We worked our butts off! It was a great way to connect with friends and foster a sense of community. Working together and breaking bread together. It doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Clean coop

We started the day off by de-lousing the chickens one by one. We had found poultry lice on one of them the other night and found more with lice today. Yumm! We dusted them and put them out in the run for the day. With the coop empty we cleaned the entire thing. Took out all the straw, raked and swept, cleaned and bleached the nest boxes, cleaned and bleached the perches, and hosed the whole thing out. I'm waiting for it to dry.

The chickens later escaped their coop and were playing on the tractor and waiting for new straw. Luna helped by chasing chickens. If the chickens keep escaping it won't be long before one of them gets eaten. That will be bad.

We also have one hen with a respiratory problem. We hate to dose the whole flock with anti-biotics just for one hen, but on the other hand we'd hate to have more chickens get sick. I guess we'll wait for a couple of days.

I'm exhausted. The coop cleaning has taken all day. I can't wait to get in the shower and go visit with some friends tonight.

Later, when I was taking Luna for a walk, she flushed a rabbit. She was right on it. She went right to where it was and went after it. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance for a shot. It was good to see her use her hunting instincts on something besides our chickens.

After working as a teacher and sitting on my behind during the week it is therapeutic to work with my hands on the weekends. Tomorrow is the big barn cleaning extravaganza! We will be having several friends over to help shovel manure and pitch old hay. Then we'll be serving a full on farm style afternoon dinner. Hard work, but hopefully fun too.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Garlic is up in the garden!

Wow, garlic in the garden! I just looked back in our garden journal and I guess it's not unusually early. It just always seems so early. We planted over 300 hundred plants in 6 varieties. Unfortunately, the straw mulch and row tags got all messed around in a blizzard and we don't know which variety is which. Colleen will chide me about that. It's really not my fault though. I think I may plant one more variety. It's been so dry I think I can till a bed.

We have snowdrops, violets, and crocus coming up too. What a beautiful riot of spring flowers came with the house. I don't know what half the flowers we have are.I had a relaxing day with Luna. I had planned on taking her hiking, but I just let her run crazy while I did farm chores and that wore her out. I finished building the ramp to the pig area, gathered up piles and piles of branches and old leaves and grass, and built a big burn pile. Later, Luna almost got a chicken. Well, in fact she got a chicken butt feather. We have one chicken who keeps escaping from the run. We don't know how. She's gonna get et if she doesn't watch out. Another beautiful sunny day on the Palouse. Life is good.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First starts of spring are up!

The first starts of spring are up in the grow room! We have lettuce growing. We also planted two varieties of tomatoes, Muscovich and Burbank, on the heat mat tonight. The basil is planted as well. Now we have to figure out how to keep the cats from stepping on the tender little plants.

We were turned on to beef knuckles as a way to keep Luna from chewing everything in sight. At least for a little while, it attracted her entire attention. She is such a little darling, but she is getting big so fast.

My teaching week is over. It was a pleasant week. I felt pretty serene for most of it. Wrapped up the week by sitting outside with Luna watching her eat a cow hip bone she found. I thought I heard a pheasant in the yard. A nice hawk was perched on the windmill.

Now all the critters are asleep and I'm just relaxing and listening to a little music. Life is good.

Monday, March 1, 2010

All sorts of good stuff

Bird hunting season has ended, but here are some pictures of Luna's first bird, a gray partridge, before the end of season. At other times she has smelled birds and gotten "birdy", but this time she was distracted. She didn't really retrieve it either, but I gave her the smell of it. So she should be more mature next season. Grouse starts in September. Rabbits are still open, so maybe we can get into one or two before the end of that season.

She is growing and learning at an incredible rate. We are praying that she'll turn into a good hunting dog, but it's hard to imagine when she's still got so much puppy in her. We took her out for a nice long hike the other day.
We've got more and more bulbs coming up in the yard. Tulips, crocus, and snowdrops. One other flower I can't identify.

We planted some seeds indoors in the grow room last night. Lettuce and basil. We will plant tomatoes and peppers as soon as the heat mat we ordered gets here. I can't wait until little plants start growing. Spring is definitely on it's way. We even have the windows open today although it is a little chilly in the house. It's nice to get some air.

It's back to teaching today after a nice weekend. Say a little prayer and jump right into it. It'll be a fine day, even if I have the Monday morning blues a little bit.