This is what it looks like when you’re in the Windhaven Farm Parade.
Actually, it’s kind of funny. Whenever the flock is in the middle yard, and you are doing anything, they follow you around in the group, just in case you accidently drop a bucket of sweet feed out for them. You know, it could happen. Maybe.
It’s like having an ovine body guard every where you go. When Otis joins us in a few weeks, we will have a dozen sheep. I think that is a pretty good number. 12 sheep, 4 goats and one pony. With seven of the sheep being ewes, I think we will have a nice batch of lambs come next spring again, probably between seven and fourteen, if every one twinned. Which is unlikely… We had 50% twins this year, so if I had to guess, I think we’d be looking at about 10 lambs in 2014 if all goes well. Always looking ahead!
My garden is really doing well this year! Thank goodness, we got it mostly all done before Maggie’s accident. As you might notice, we do have two beds still empty… because after the leg break, extra projects just sort of got left to the wayside! Still, I’m happy with the accomplishments so far. I am hoping to get the last two beds planted with a short crop, maybe beans or something, within a week or two. They will make it fine. Rotational planting! Yah!
I weed whacked yesterday morning and wow, what a difference it makes! So fast! Took me about 45 minutes and I got the whole garden whacked back. I’ve been using old rugs and carpet bits between the planters to try and cut back on the weeds! It’s working, pretty well, but they still like to grow around the edges and such. I haven’t used anything strong yet, and I hate to, but I think I might have to consider something… it’s just so much work to keep it all under control.
If you saw the before photos of this area, you would understand… it was just a WILD WILD jungle of all weeds… the fact that it’s staying fairly neat and tidy is a testament to our effort to tame the jungle. I know if we let it go a month, it would be weedy and overgrown in a heartbeat!
This was the last bed we planted and it’s slowly taking hold. It’s got some of the free cabbage starts in it, as well as a few squash and some sunflowers. Needs a little weeding in the box, but it’s not too bad. I love that we used two pair of garage sale shutters! It’s actually pretty neat looking. I saw a bunch of shutters at the ReStore place in Defiance… I wonder if they are still there! Makes a nice big bed! I have another smaller one still left to fill up…
This back area was ALL weeds last year and I am determined to stunt it’s growth this year. I put down this heavy scrap plastic that we had and it’s working, some. Then I popped a few holes in to let a bunch of the freebie yellow squash starts help to hold it down. Well, they are trying, but not really thriving. However, this one pumpkin is really going to town! It’s a bit of an overachiever, if you ask me. There are a few other pumpkins in the mix but none are doing what this one is. I saved seeds from the holiday pumpkins of last year, so I’m not exactly sure what we will reap, but Im not worried, it’s mostly just a way to help kill off this big area.
As soon as this season is done, I am going to put all the fall shovelings from the chicken, pig and sheep barn out here to lay and compost in those two big areas. I’m hoping that some nice big piles of mucked out stable leavings will finish off the weed kill and then present me with two nice big raised mounds of garden gold! That is the plan! I will probably save the plastic and next spring, early, will lay it over the mound and use it again to help prevent too much weed growth!
It’s good to have a plan!
This bed is a perplexing situation to me. It was prepared in the same manner as all the other beds… a thick layer of compost down below, a year in the making, and then about 6 or 8 bags of top soil (a good garden mix of soil and peat moss) on the top. Twice I’ve seeded it with corn and turnips, and twice, nothing has grown. Now, the first batch of seeds were very old. But the second batch were new, 2013 year seeds and nothing. Well, one corn sprouted, there in the lower middle. That’s it. The stuff on the edges are just some hardy weeds.
All I can think is that this batch of compost was particularly hot, maybe a little too fresh from the lil’ coop. Chicken manure is a very hot manure and can be tough to work with. I think I’m going to fill it up with a bit more garden mix… maybe 4 or 5 bags and then seed it with some short crop stuff from the dollar store. Maybe just a nice mix of zinnias ad sunflowers! See what happens. If nothing grows this time, then it’s just going to be a fallow bed until next spring and we’ll see how it goes.
I like to plant my boxes pretty densely. It cuts back on weeds, and also on pests for some reason. I don’t use any chemicals on my plants. Just good old farm compost and rain from above. I don’t even fertilize. I really don’t need to, not with the compost. The soil is rich and dark and full of worms. Even in the beds! We do thin out things a bit, as they grow, like the carrots and radish and give those trimmings to the rabbits. Seems to be a good treat for them and helps those root crops to grow nicely.
I have baby cukes! Little pickles! I love little pickles… I planted all pickling varieties this year because that is really our favorite. Even fresh from the garden, or pickled in the jar… we like them better than the big long slicing cucumbers. I have two big boxes full… and I think I might plant a few more in the last beds! We love pickles!!
This is a bit of sweet little weed flowers growing in among my birdhouse gourds and cantaloupes! Just a few so I think I’ll let it stay. It’s so pretty! I think it might be chamomile… what do you think?
I planted one box full of pretty decorative Indian corn. And it’s just going gangbusters! I don’t usually plant corn or potatoes in my garden much anymore. Around here, sweet corn is so plentiful in the late summer and so cheap. Folks sell it for 20 ears for a buck or two. So I just wait and get about 10 to 20 dollars worth some afternoon and we have a big shelling, shucking and freezing session and it’s all done. To plant and successfully get 100+ ears of corn here, I’d have to devote a lot of space to corn and I just don’t have it yet. Maybe if I get my big plastic mounds to work good next year, I might consider putting a double row of sweet corn down the middle of all my pumpkins and squash that I plan to plant out there. And potatoes… another super cheap crop at the store and one that just seems to be lackluster for us in the garden. Takes up too much space and is too touchy for yield much. Again, I might start a big potato patch in the far back and use a lot of the straw mulch in with barn muckout… that might make a nice loose bed that might yield enough spuds… we’ll see!
This is the future expansion area… I’m thinking another couple straw bale beds (love those!) and then maybe a few more shipping box beds. I wish I could score a bunch more of those… absolutely love the dozen I have so far. The place I was getting them from, decided to use some pallet recycling company and no longer gives them away for free. Darn it… wish I had gotten about another dozen of them! They are awesome. Strong solid, unsprayed wood… They are sturdy for sure. I just keep my eye open… there is probably another manufacturer around the place that has something similar. Just gotta love Craigslist for that sort of thing.
These four smaller crates are home to about 8 sugar baby watermelon plants. They are starting to grow up the crib trellis so that is good. They apparently do not set HUGE melons, so I’m hoping they will do okay in these boxes. I think I’m going to encourage them to creep out of the boxes and spill over the sides… I have some fabric scraps I’m going to cut and lay around the boxes to keep the weeds from growing within the melon vines.
At the end of the box there are some small sunflowers growing… I love popping sunflowers and zinnias in through the boxes for fun and color. Can’t wait for them to start setting buds and blooming!
My gosh, the kale is just going nuts. We cut it back and it grows crazy again. Mostly the rabbits have been eating it, we’re not super brave! haha… it was all from those freebie veggie starts I got, so it’s not a plant I would have normally thought to plant. Everyone says that kale chips are yummy… I think I’ll have to give it a try. I know the bunnies adore the stuff!
Peas and some lettuce greens… I’ve been picking me some good salads… and those peas are just about ready to pick and shell. Sweet garden peas are just about some of the best veggies in the world! Just awesome. I planted a TON of peas this spring, because we never plant enough in the past and they hardly ever get into the house! SOMEONE keeps eating them fresh outta the garden. Can’t imagine who that might be.
I’d say about another week or so and we’ll have a huge green bean harvest ready for the freezer and the dinner table! I can’t wait. I love fresh green beans!
This Swiss chard is going nuts as well! I’ve never grown it before, another of the freebie starts I got. (I got over 6 flats of free left over garden starts from our local supermarket! But it was mostly sort of weird things… well, not the first pick things I guess of locals… still, I said, hey, free plants? I’ll take them. It would be fun to see how these things grow and try a few new tastes and I figured worse comes to worse if we didn’t like them, we have a flock of herbivores that would be happy to help us out! The rabbits and goats adore the chard.
Just a few more of my lovely sunflowers that are shading a few tender plants with their big beautiful leaves! I grow a garden because I love to see the plants flourish as well as being able to pick fresh produce. I’m not that worried about putting up a whole year’s veggies at this point, more in building up our garden so that it’s easy to take care of and abundant. We have this wonderful source of compost in our animals and enough land to have a monster garden some day. It’s getting there.
My three little amigos that are very unhappy when I go in the garden and lock them out. Buttercup and Daisy are very effective at wrecking garden plants. Travis is not as bad, but still, the three of them can be a handful. I’ve tried to let them in supervised, but it’s a three ring circus and usually ends up with me yelling at them and loosing my temper as they climb in beds and generally wreck havoc. So they are banned from the Garden of Eatin’ for a good long time. Maybe in the fall as a clean up crew!
If a gal could love a little farm machine, I am in love with our new weed whacker. It made such short order of the garden weeds, oh my gosh. I dreaded going out there with a knife and hand weeding the place, it would take hours of back bending labor. But with RoboGoat? Shesh…. it’s so easy and fast. And effective. I’m all for that. I would much rather spend my precious time tending the plants and enjoying the garden then dreading the manual unhappy labor parts of it. I always tell my girls… it will get better, it will get better. As we continue to conquer and tame some of the areas of our homestead, it is getting a lot better. We still have almost an acre of land that is not being used very well… our weed patch and then the wood lot area… but right now, we’re just working on what we can handle. Once Maggie is back on her feet, we might start to tackle a few more square feet of land… but then, I would rather just station the goats out there to clean it up in a year or so. Sounds like a plan to me! haha… We are lazy homesteaders! (Or I prefer to call us, energy and effort efficient homesteaders!)
Hope you’ve enjoyed my little mid-season report on the garden! It’s doing so well, with all this rain and humidity we’ve had. We’re a little damp around the collar but after last year’s drought, I can not complain. We really needed a wet season to help build up reserves and area lakes. The farmer’s corn around here is so tall! It’s crazy! Of course, it’s messing with the wheat and hay harvest a bit, but we have about 4 or 5 days of dry coming up, so they say, and I imagine there is going to be a LOT of field work planned in that window of time!!! I hope to start getting some of our winter hay soon, even if it’s ten bales at a time. We’ll need just under 100 bales to get us through the winter. If I can score 50 or so by end of September, I will be a happy woman! Especially at a decent price!
I leave you with two days worth of eggs!!! Our ladies are really doing well right now. About two to three dozen a day. Not too shabby! And I love all the pretty colors!