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.

No More Snow

I didn’t mention in the post below — the snow is all gone. It warmed up, rained a little and other than a few tiny pockets, the snow is all gone.

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!

Planting, Corn Bread & Chickens

Yin

Yang

The garden is coming along nicely. There’s a bunch of lettuce, carrots, radishes, broccoli, potatoes, and onions growing. The kale got ate by slugs and the spinach is bolting already. The garlic seems to be doing well. There’s lots of strawberries on the strawberries in the Earthboxes.

Corn bed

Today I planted corn. First I dug a bed which meant digging out lots of rocks. There was a huge boulder not too far down that I left. No way I was pulling that out! I also planted three types of tomatoes, pumpkins and a couple type of zucchini. Plus some more onions. It seems like it’s late in the year to be planting those, so we’ll see how they do. I also planted a couple rose bushes that had been given to us as gifts.

Corn Bread

While I was working on all of that I had corn bread cooking in the sun oven. Kate took pictures with her camera of the finished product, so maybe she’ll post those. It came out real good. Took longer than in the oven, of course, but no electricity needed and no worries about burning it. I just took it out when I was finished with everything else.

Chickens

Sometimes I may want to get more done, but it feels good to have our own place. It wasn’t that long ago when we didn’t believe we could end up in our own place and we dreamed about planting gardens and having animals. Speaking of which, the chickens are doing well.

Yin Yang Garden

Yin Yang

The Yin Yang garden bed has been planted. Last weekend I worked in some compost we bought at the feed store. Not much for the size of bed, but something. Then I planted seeds. Carrots, lettuce, kale, spinach, broccoli, beets, chard and bush beans and still have room. We’ve got tomatoes and watermelons coming up inside. This is going to be our first garden so we’re still trying things out. Over time the garden will grow. We’re going to need other planting areas in addition to this one.

Chickens!

We bought chickens on the 7th and set them up in a temporary box.

Chicks

What?

But chickens grow fast. The cardboard box (originally from our lawn mower) would not be sufficient for eight growing chicks. We had to get something else built. I’d already fixed up the old shed/chicken coop, including a fenced off run, but they won’t be able to be out there for a while yet. So yesterday I drew a quick sketch of what I was thinking for the box.

Plans

The box would be built in two sections to make it easier to move. Each would be 2.5′ x 3′ x 2′ with a hinged lid. That’d give the chickens 15 sqft of space, almost 2 sqft per chick. Enough room for them to grow. With my ‘plan’ in hand I went off to Lowe’s to buy the materials needed. I bought inexpensive 1″x2″ for the frame and some 1″x6″ boards to go around the base. Plus chicken wire, a new handsaw to make it easier to cut the boards, hinges, screws and extra staples.

When I got the materials home (after lunch) I started working on the project. First step, cut all the wood into the appropriate lengths.

Cutting Boards

Laying Out Box

First Half

Both Assembled

Wire Added

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough staples to get all of the chicken wire done. I got it one one side and today we’ve got to get more bedding, food, another feeder and waterer, so I’ll get more when we go out. But I didn’t want the chickens to have to stay longer in the small box so I set up the one side of their new box and used a piece of cardboard to block the open side.

New Diggs

Xander Looking

Poppy Watching

Patty Perching

We also added a dowel for a perch. Later the other side should be set up, but they’re already enjoying the extra room. They’ll grow fast, before we know it they’ll be moving outside!

Love that sunshine!

Saturday was nice and sunny, I really wanted to get some work done but I wasn’t sure how much I could do with Xander on the loose.  He loves being able to explore so I didn’t want to confine him to the playpen (plus I can only be right around the house if he’s in the playpen– not going to haul it up the hill). On our last walk up into the orchard he had really enjoyed digging in the dirt with his hands so I thought he might enjoy digging with a spoon.  I grabbed the big pruning shears (what I call the loppers), a spoon and small bowl for Xander to dig with, and a bottle of water and we headed up to the orchard. Settled Xander down and went to the nearest tree to start pruning. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to work before he got bored with digging but I figured any work was good.

Xander digging

Digging a hole.

Xander measuring

Measuring how much dirt he'd removed.

It was amazing, give the boy a spoon and some dirt and he was completely enthralled. I was able to work on the trees for an hour and a half! I had to move Xander 3 times so that he was close to the trees I was working on but he didn’t try to wander off, for the most part he was content to just dig where I sat him.

Happy digger.

Happy digger!

I’m probably not doing the best job pruning but I’m really just aiming to remove damaged branches or ones that cross over each other and rub. After cutting the branches I hauled them all towards the path so we can move them down to the brush pile with the wheel barrow (not something I could do with Xander). I tried to get Poppy and McCoy to pose near the pile of branches for scale but they weren’t really cooperating.

Branch pile

Happy dogs!

They were however very happy that we all spent time outside in the sunshine.

Mow, mow, mow the lawn.

We got a lawn mower! A Scotts Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower. Uses no gas, no electricity. Produces no fumes, no noise. It burns calories, builds muscle. All in all a great lawn mower!

After Ryan put it together he tried it out on our front yard.

Ryan mowing lawn

Ryan and our new lawn mower.

After he had mowed what he could of the front yard (we’ll need to remove some branches to mow the whole thing), I started in on our side yard. The ground is very uneven and the grass very thick so it took a lot of pushing. I got most of the side yard done before dinner was ready and it was time to quit. It might be a little bit harder to use than a gas or electric mower but the benefit of it’s lack of sound pollution makes it so worth it! It was good exercise and I actually found it very peaceful, but boy are my arms sore today!

Kate mowing

Kate mowing the side yard.

Still have a lot more lawn to mow but the weather has turned rainy so it will have to wait. Hopefully by the next sunny day my sore arms will have recovered and I can mow the back yard.