Yesterday when I woke up I thought it was March

28 02 2009

On Wednesday, our friend Shelley came over and helped me plant some peas.  We planted most of the sugar snap peas.  It was nice to have some one else in the field helping out.  My friend Tim, is coming pretty soon to help me out for the season.  I cannot wait to have someone dependable to regularly assist me with this season’s mayhem.  Progress will be swift.

Then on Thursday we had some friends over.  It sometimes is a little overwhelming here, and a couple hours of forgetting about it all was needed.  We ate and drank, and got a small dose of socialization.


We need to get more crocus bulbs.  Although it seems like March, it is not even spring.  With more crocuses we could give spring the welcome it deserves.

Once again the subsoiler sneaks its way into a picture.  It helped work the first onion bed we amended.  The soil looks kinda nice, but it is still really sandy.

OK.  We are feeling very accomplished, yet there are mountains of work to be done.  The planting of the onion sets lasted most of this week.  We were not as prepared as we thought to be able to plant them out with efficiency.

It was too wet out for the mechanized tiller to work properly, and the shovel worked beautifully.  A 4×40 bed was double dug extending our allium bed to a total of 120 ft.  This took about two days .  Then composted manure was hauled by wheelbarrow from our neighbor’s house down the drive.   This activity took another two days to finish.  The actual planting of the onions took minimal time compared to building and amending the soil.

All of our brassicas are germinating really well in the greenhouse.  They enjoy the warm dampness; it has also encouraged the growth of some yet unknown insect pest.  The pest seems to have a taste for only brassica seedlings.  The second picture shows only little green stems of decapitated seedlings.  This is clearly insect damage, and there seems to be a few possible culprits: slugs, snails, aphids, earwigs.

Sadie, what a lovely lady you will become.  She was in the field with us rocking out to The Stooges, and eating horse manure.  We dress her real good in overalls and John Deere apparel.

Gabrielle went to the grower’s market and food safety meeting.  She returned with some interesting information about maintaining food safety on the farm for produce to be sold at market.  Most of the information we already know from working in kitchens, but somethings can be easily overlooked when you are outside and in the dirt.  Somethings that we need to keep in mind for farm food handling is keeping as many animals as possible as far away from the produce as possible.  This means dogs, cats, and all wildlife.  Another is having labeled food handling bins only for food.  We cleaned all our bins thoroughly last year, but we used them for several purposes.

It is called the Grower’s Market in Grants Pass instead of the Farmer’s Market because there is already a store by that name.  We are going to sign up to be at market this year to be able to have another available outlet to sell our vegetables.  There are still some CSA memberships that are waiting to be filled, so sign up now.

Lastly, we started planting our second round of brassicas, onions, flowers, and tomatoes in the greenhouse.  We ran out of our plastic flats for our soil blocker during the first succession.  We thought we could easily scrape together some more flats from local nurseries, but they all return them to the supplier.  These plastic flats are not cheap, and they cost well over a dollar even if you buy a hundred of them.  Instead, after much debate whether to buy some or not, I just started cutting all the extra plywood around the place to the exact size to fit 98 soil blocks.  They are just boards now, and maybe they will get some sides.  They work pretty well so far.  That is some bitchin thriftiness.


Outsmarted by a chicken…

4 05 2008

Last night I was doing my evening rounds before dinner (and then we watched Lars and the Real Girl–if you haven’t seen it, you should. It was awesome.), and noticed that the bigger chickens in the outside coop needed water. So, I pulled the hanging bucket off the string, and went back outside the coop to fill it up. I set it on the ground outside the coop door, pushed the door closed, put the hose into the bucket, and walked over to the house to turn on the faucet. I stood next to the faucet the whole time because I knew the second that I walked back over to the bucket, I would just have to turn back around to turn the faucet off. Once the bucket was full (I saw some water overflowing from the edge), I turned off the water and walked back over to the coop. This is when I saw 4 chickens had pushed the door open and were wandering in the area OUTSIDE their coop–not the fenced in outside area, but in the yard. You see, I didn’t think I needed to latch the door, because why would chickens push open the door? I immediately regretted my oversight. Especially since not one dog, but both dogs were outside in the yard as well. Before they were able to see the chickens, and as calmly as I could, I called out to Kirby who was in the kitchen getting ready to make dinner– “Hey, Kirby, could you give me a hand?” “Yeah!” I hear from inside. She opens the door, and I say, “There is a chicken out. Can you please get the dogs inside?” She calls the dogs, and they go running before they have any idea about the fun they could be having, which makes me breath a small sigh of relief.

BUT–I still have to figure out how to get the chickens back into the coop. They were a little freaked out at tis point and wouldn’t really let me near them. They had made their way around the side of the coop and were on the other side of where the outside run area was, and were trying to fit through the fencing to be with their flock-mates. Kirby had come back outside to help, and had grabbed a handful of weeds to offer as bait to lure them close.

Let me just say, this is one of the MANY times we have had around here thus far where I kind of wish a documentary film crew was around. Granted I would totally be the person chasing around livestock as has happened in countless films and TV shows about the inexperienced city dweller moving to the country, but still. This was worth catching on film. You guys would have paid to see this.

I went around to the end of the run area to try and force them back towards the door, which works until they realize they can go under the coop. This is when I curse the fact that Ben and I decided not to close off this area. With Kirby on one side, and me on the other, they won’t come out, so I backed away and they came out my side and I was able to get them around towards the door. Only to see that another 3 chickens have made their way out in the meantime. I began cursing my stupidity in leaving the door open, because why wouldn’t they rest of the chickens have the same idea the first group did… But I was trying to make it easier to get them back inside. They all veered away from the coop and start to go up the hill, but Kirby cut them off, and they made a beeline towards the coop door. WHEW! All inside…except 2. Who promptly ran around the side of the coop, and under it.

Now what?, I kept thinking to myself. How in the hell do I corral 2 birds in a backyard with almost no boundaries? And I kept being so thankful that the dogs were safely away because I could not have handled dead birds. So, I end up chasing the birds around the coop/run area in it’s entirety a few times, and they kept trying frantically to push themselves through the fence into the run, and Kirby was trying to act as a counterpoint to my movements to sandwich them between us so they could be grabbed, but they kept slipping through. I finally ended up snagging the Rhode Island hen, and carried her back around to the closed (and latched!) door, and then it was just the poor rooster left. A couple more times around the coop, he stayed underneath it for a while with either of us on a side trying to lure/force him out, and then we finally caught him, too.

All in all, I think this whole escapade only took 15-20 minutes, but it felt way longer than that. And now I have learned something else not to do.

These are all the tomatoes I was talking about:


Our last frost date is approaching very rapidly, so soon these guys will be headed to the real outside within the next couple weeks. This, as you can imagine, means even more work than usual for us. We have to plow under more of the land, amend the soil with compost, fertilizer, and lime, and pull all the obvious weeds out at the very least. Chad may want to subsoil as well. And we have to do enough land to plant tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squashes, beans, sunflowers, amaranth, and more corn! Yikes…Anyone wanna come out here, like around tomorrow?