if this isn’t nice, what is?

I’m nearing a solid week without internet at the farm. I have already felt more energized and productive. I’m sure that is in part to the shift to chilled weather, but it is so much easier to focus when I don’t get sucked in to looking at hashtags on instagram.

I’m making morning buns and old school chili tonight. I am so eager to go home and see if any more chickens have started laying. Life is just really, really good right now and I wanted to stop for a moment to appreciate that.

a little note on farm dogs.

This is our Great Pyrenees, Watson. We got him shortly before the new batch of chicks arrived with the intention of him guarding them. He had been on a farm with poultry, so it seemed like it would work out.

Prior to getting Watson, we had a little trouble with keeping the flock safe. Because we choose to let the chickens free range during the day, we understand there is a certain amount of risk and accept there will be some losses within the flock. But there was a raccoon who figured out a way in to the coop and was treating it like a chicken grocery.

We did tons of things to try to safeguard the coop. We added extra wire to the chicken run, built a crazy and relatively unattractive structure around the door of the coop, and set up Christmas lights to try to deter the pests. We were able to slow the losses down, but they were still somewhat common.

The problem is, Watson has no interest in being a livestock guardian dog. I admit this was partially my fault, because while I introduced him to the chickens and had him around them, I also gave him plenty of attention and let him play with my other dog, Fritz. He weighed his options and decided pets and romps with Fritz were more enjoyable.

The good news is that by rebuilding the coop door entirely, we were able to protect the hens. We’ve lost a couple, but that was an adjustment period when they were finally big enough to free range.

So Watson roams the night with his best friend Fritz and he happily shirks his intended duty in favor of naps.

new eggs!

We got a new batch of hens in the middle of May. Almost exactly five months later, we have our first egg laid by the new crew.

In the new crew ,we have Ancona, Araucana, Whiting True Blue, Cuckoo Maran, Rhode Island Red, Silver Gray Dorkings, and Egyptian Fayoumis. It’s a mix of chickens I have had before and chickens I am trying for the first time. I am excited to incorporate Anconas into the flock again and I hope they can live up to the legend of Destiny’s Chicken.

I know a Rhode Island Red laid at least one of the eggs. I think she laid both, because they are the same color and size. I am so excited for the new eggs to start rolling in and I have so many plans for the eggs.

(Destiny’s Chicken was an Ancona who lived three years and survived a few different chicken massacres. She was legendary around the farm and I still remember her fondly. She died of old age last year.)

sans internet

We have officially canceled the internet at the farm. The modem broke last week and we didn’t want to spend the money to get a new one. 

I have considered this change for quite awhile. I’ve spent most of the last five years finishing undergrad and then grad school, so internet used to be a necessity. No more! 

Now to find out if I will be a more productive person. 

on garlic and time management.

One of my challenges with gardening is that my time management leave a bit to be desired. I could make excuses, but mostly it comes down to how quickly time flies. I will get busy with something else and then remember that I was supposed to plant something a week ago.

The garlic is in the ground, officially. I planted two 4×4 beds – one with Spanish Roja garlic and the other is with various garlic I grew last year and didn’t mark well when harvesting.

(In case the paint fades from the markers – Spanish Roja is in the south bed, mixed garlic in the north bed.)

This is one of the things I would like to improve upon this year. I’m considering putting the dates seeds should be started and transplanted on the calendar that syncs with my phone and computer. I’m hoping it will work.

//these retired birds

I have spent years trying to figure out what exactly I wanted from the land. My mother’s generation went as far away from the fields as possible, knowing exactly how hard it is to scratch out a decent living.

Unless something drastically changes, I have ultimately decided that the farm will be a secondary income at most. I have always feared turning something that provides me with an escape in to something I rely on to survive, so this is the decision that makes the most sense.

This decision has also allowed me the luxury of allowing the hens to live out their natural lives on the farm. I don’t particularly care to eat chicken, so turning the laying hens in to stew birds has never appealed to me.

The hen pictured above recently celebrated her second birthday. She lays, when she wants to, but mostly she bosses the other chickens around. There is another hen from the same flock that is still meandering the acreage, though I think she has ceased laying almost entirely. I hope to have them around for years to come.

2018 Goals

  • Minimal weeds
  • Positive companion planting
  • Harvest 10+ pounds of garlic
  • Preserve herbs and peppers
  • Better labeling of plants
  • Save seeds
  • Focus on heirloom + Ark of Taste
  • Develop a focused survey on what to grow again
    • Blind head-to-head taste tests
  • Use what I’ve got
  • Excluding building raised beds and the soil to fill them, spend less than $150 on the garden
  • Start the orchard
  • Consider getting bees