Category Archives: Garden

Tansy Ragwort

We’ve been doing a bit of work around the place. This is a case of there’s always so much to do that it can be difficult to decide where to start. Right now the upcoming project is getting the septic pumped. I’ve been clearing the path from the front gate back along the house and today worked on filling some holes so it’s more level (still have a lot to do).

Filling holes with Mr. Blue Sky
Filling holes with Mr. Blue Sky

The dirt (with grass roots) came from a section of our path that I was leveling off. Basically trying to get it clear and easy for the pumper to get the hoses back to the tank. When that’s done I’ll uncover the tank and set up the pumping. It’s been just about five years since we moved in, so time to get it done.

tansy-ragwort
Tansy Ragwort

We noticed this year that there were a bunch of tall flowering plants and discovered that they were Tansy Ragwort and listed as a Noxious Weed. It’s also on the Thurston county list. A couple patches had sprung up in the chicken yard and on the hill. I cut the stems and dug up the roots. I felt bad for the bees that were obviously attracted to the flowers but we plan to try and remove many of the invasive species and plant either native plants or food-producing plants. We’re still learning about the plants. I need to study more, learn to identify the plants that don’t belong and work on bringing in the plants that do. It’ll take time.

Raising Rabbits, and Other Things

Back when we moved onto our property, we decided to raise rabbits for meat. We bought a couple does and a buck at the feed store down the road and started setting up cages for each of them. And that’s as far as we got. Cages built, but we just had the cages propped up on boards not very high from the ground. We did raise up and butcher several litters but now X. hasn’t wanted to have the young rabbits butchered so we haven’t been breeding them.

They needed better housing with easier access and this morning I decided to see what I could pull together with what we had available.

The result is simple and rough. It used wood we had around the place, some of it supporting the cages before this. One part was the post used to hold the for sale sign when our property was sold. The roof is made from recycled metal sheets that used to be a pool that we took apart and a tarp lashed down to the frame. It raises them up to an easier height. No more bending over to reach inside.

New Doe Homes
New Doe Homes

Here’s another picture from further back. The buck is on rocks and boards raised off the ground, but not very high because I didn’t have enough spare lumber around to do a similar platform for his cage.

All Three Rabbits
All Three Rabbits

The plant right behind them is an apple tree that fell over in a storm but has survived despite being split in half. I plan to remove it, but that’s another thing that hasn’t happened yet.

In addition to getting their cages cleaned and relocated they also had their nails trimmed. Barb, Margie and Nicky are now settled into their new location.

Posting

We haven’t been posting much on the site in part because it’s easy to get discouraged with how little we’ve accomplished compared to what we’d like to do. Lately I’ve been working on trails around the property, and clearing the area where I need to dig up the septic tank to get it pumped. That’s the next big project.

Warmer Weather

Freezing this morning, but with clear skies the temperature rapidly shot up. We took advantage of the warm weather to get outside and work on some projects that we’ve been talking about.

Mainly, I ran to the store to buy lumber and soil and compost to create our first raised bed. After not having much luck with the garden over the past few years we thought we’d try something different.

Chickens Investigate

Everybody was out today. Chickens, dogs, and the kid! It was fun in the sun today.

Raised Bed

End result? A raised bed. I wrapped a temporary fence around the whole thing to keep the chickens out!

Garden Update

We’ve had such a cold and wet spring so our garden has gotten a late start. April 11th was one of our first nice days (that also coincided with Ryan’s days off!) and Xander and Ryan turned over the garden bed.

Digging in the garden.
Working hard.
Muddy toes!

The problem with doing catch up posts is things are out of order, when we were working in the garden we had the chickens close by hoping for worms and other tasty things. Now only 2 of them are still alive.

RIP: Aplets, Peaches, and Mariah looking for bugs.

The next week, April 17th, we had an even warmer day. Ryan got some seeds started in the garden while Xander helped find rocks.

Ryan and Poppy Seed
Oops, left the door open! 2 of the 5 shown survived the dog attack.
Xander found a rock!

After the planting that day we went for a walk, all of us.

Hens and Poppy Seed
Poppy Seed and McCoy
Ryan and Xander climbing a tree.
Chickens like climbing trees too!

Unfortunately warm days like that one have been few. Yesterday, Ryan said that some of the seeds he planted have started to sprout. Hopefully it will be sunny  or at least not raining this weekend and we’ll be able to get more seeds started. We also need to dig an area for the tomato plants that Ryan’s parents are bringing us at the end of May. Our garden news is up to date!

Spring

Spring is here according to the calendar but our weather seems to be confused. This week we’ve had snow and hail and this morning we woke to a layer of frost on everything. Last week we had a dry day, not sunny but at least not raining. We took advantage of it and got some yard work done.

I emptied out some of our Earthboxes and filled them with fresh soil and was able to plant some strawberry and mint plants. I’m planning on getting some seeds started in the other planter. While I was working with the planters, Ryan used our new (electric) lawn mower and got the front yard all mowed.

New strawberry and mint plants, garlic coming up in the other planters.

Yesterday evening the weather was nice for awhile so he went out and mowed the section behind the house. The chickens were very happy with the newly cut grass. Speaking of chickens we never did find any sign of Mango. We trimmed all the other hens wings so they can’t get over the fence.

Hoping to get more work done on the garden soon.

List of Projects

Projects abound here at Woolly Dragon Farm. The writing business takes up much of my time but I try to find time to get in work on the place too. And I want to post more regularly to this blog. If I could only pack in a few more hours into each day it’d be easier, but I haven’t found a way to compress the local time stream yet.

At the moment there are several projects occupying my mind.

  • Organization — it’s a constant problem, but I’d like to get things more organized in the house. A two-year-old toddler makes that a difficult task, but I’d like to work on it and clean out some of the clutter. Some of it we brought with us when we moved and it is still sitting around. If it’s still in a box I can’t imagine that it’s anything that we need, but it takes time to get through it all.
  • Concrete demolition — when we moved in one of the first things we saw that we wanted to change was the concrete slab alongside the house. I’d prefer to have that be an extension of the front yard instead. I’ve actually started on the cutting of the slab along the house but that takes time too. Dusty hard work. After cutting I’ll have a go at it with the sledgehammer and see if I can break it up. The rubble might be used in drainage ditches, or beneath new animal housing for drainage. Or we could use it to create raised beds or flagstones, we’ll just see.
  • Animal Housing — speaking of animal housing that’s another task. We’ve got an old shed that half is the chicken coop but I’d like to replace that with a better coop for the birds. And then I’ll look at building housing for some Nigerian goats one of these days.
  • Office Shed — I’d like to build a little office shed building up on the hill, maybe earth-sheltered, but that’s more long term.
  • Garden — I want to do a lot more work on our garden too. Last year was not our best year for plants, I’m hopeful that this next year we’ll do a better job. Plus more ornamental beds.
  • Fencing — Along the side with the slab, I’d like to put a taller wood fence and then do a picket sort of fence around the front yard.
  • Flooring — We’ve actually started on our flooring replacement, taking up the old carpet in the living room. Now we’ve got to get the concrete cleaned, patched, coated and then we’ll do a colored stain.

That’s only a few of the projects that I’d like to tackle. Time and money, those are the biggest constraints. We work on things as we can.

Garlic: Better Late Than Never?

Yesterday I went out and planted garlic in three of our Earthboxes. Last year I planted two types of garlic out in a patch of earth that I double-dug. It was a lot of work and I discovered too that our ground needs much more organic material. It’s rocky and hard. One type of garlic didn’t do much of anything, the other grew and actually produced some heads of garlic. It wasn’t really all that much, though they did taste good. I decided to take what I had left and plant those cloves. First I covered the Earthboxes with silver mulch, poked holes in the top, and then planted the cloves through the holes. As the plants come up I’ll guide them through the slits.

If the garlic grows and does well in the Earthboxes we’ll have more garlic next year than we did this year.

Tree Down

Boy, we’ve been bad about posting to this blog! That’s what happens sometimes, I guess. What’s been going on around the homestead? Not a whole lot. General maintenance around the house mostly. The garden didn’t really do all that great this year. The ground needs a lot of work. Still, we got some things out of the garden. We’ll aim to do more this next year.

The chickens are all doing well. We’ve got far too many eggs but they’re really good eggs so that’s nice. We recently had a cold snap and snow! The chickens didn’t know what to think about that.

Snow Shocked Chickens

McCoy loves the snow and had fun chasing snow balls. Xander thought that was pretty funny, but wasn’t too sure what to think of his first real snow.

McCoy

Snowy Boy

Right before the snow came it was rainy and the tree in our front yard fell down — away from the house! It hit the fence instead. The ground was wet enough that it just pulled the roots right up.

Fallen Tree

I went out that morning and cut off the branches with our handsaw, and part of the trunk but didn’t have time to do the rest. Plus I decided that it’d take quite awhile to get through the trunk with a small pruning saw. The next day when we went to town we stopped at the store and bought a small, inexpensive, electric chainsaw that looked like it could do the job. Today I went out and cut the rest of the tree into more manageable pieces. The new chainsaw worked well and I didn’t have any trouble. The tree still needs to get cut into woodstove-sized pieces, but at least it’s off the fence. I also hauled the branches from out in front of the property over to our field for future disposal.

I want to start planning for the rest of the winter and next year. I think the next thing I’ll do is plant our garlic in the Earthboxes, and start figuring out what else we’re going to do.

Summer Wrap-Up

Leaves are changing. I’m seeing Fall colors appearing on trees and the nights are getting cooler. This morning a light rain is falling. August has been a dry month with only 0.13 in of rain this month. Average rainfall is just over an inch so things are pretty dry.

We’ve been on our homestead for over a year now! Hard to believe.

Chickens
Hi!
Our chickens are doing well. They’re giving us four eggs per day now, so about half of the chickens are laying. They get to spend most of the day roaming around the property. When we go out they come running over.

The garden ended up being a mixed bag. The lettuce did well, as did the carrots. The potatoes look like they grew well, but we haven’t dug them up yet so we’ll see. I harvested garlic and the bulbs were on the small side. Slugs ate the tomatoes before they could grow at all. The ground needs a lot of work. I’m going to work on building actual garden beds for the future. We still have carrots to harvest, lettuce going to seed and some broccoli that has produced a few small heads. Our strawberries gave us a few strawberries but I want to get more plants growing.

There’s always a lot of work to be done. The property got a bit out of hand this year. Lately I’ve been working on clearing pathways across the property and still have more of that to do. The other day I was clearing up around one of our hazelnut trees and disturbed a nest of yellow jackets! Three stings, the worst being on my right hand. My whole hand swelled up, turned red, itched and hurt. It’s getting better now.

We also need to get some firewood and prepare for winter. Time and money are always the biggest constraints. Still, we’re having fun. Last night we went up on the hill and sat up there while the sun set. Alexander played in the dirt. Nice time.

Photo Updates

We are so bad about posting! We’ve had a lot of sunshine the last two weeks. Too much! It got to be way too hot for a couple of days. Thankfully it has cooled down somewhat so today we were able to get things done outside. By we I mean Ryan, lol, I just took photos. First Ryan weed whacked some of the tall grass in the back yard. So that there would be a clear space to set up a pool. I know, last year we spent all that time taking down the pool and now we’re setting one up. This is just a little wading pool for Xander. Right now we aren’t even filling it halfway, just enough water for him to splash in.

Xander and the pool.

It was pretty warm out this afternoon. Since Poppy Seed and McCoy weren’t allowed in the pool they cooled off in the shade. This part of the yard hasn’t gotten weed whacked yet!

Poppy Seed and McCoy in the shade.
Poppy Seed and McCoy in the shade.

The garden is doing pretty good, at least some plants. The spinach bolted and bugs, slugs, or something killed off the tomato plants. But we’ve still got a lot of  lettuce, carrots, beets, potatoes, and other yummies.

Garden July 11th
Watering the garden.

The chickens are full grown now. We have started letting them run around the yard (when the dogs are inside). They love running free. They also love strawberries so we had to put some fencing around the planters. Unfortunately we didn’t realize their love of blueberries right away and by the time we did the chickens had harvested them all!

Chickens on parade.
Chickens on parade.

Soon they’ll be laying eggs! We can’t wait!