Wednesday, February 29, 2012

winter orchard

At seven thirty this morning I walked around the orchard before the blizzard like conditions of today began in earnest.  Right now, as I look outside it's snowing big fluffy snowflakes, the big flakes mean it's on the warmer side of snow weather, around 32 degrees.  Looking back at posts from the end of February of last year, I see we're right on track with winter and the snow.  I wanted to do a February post about fruit tree pruning, but will wait for the next high pressure to bring us a couple of dry days that will be good for pruning  the apple and pear trees, along with the berry bushes.  So in the mean time here are a few pictures of my orchard in the snow.

The large cherry tree was planted 20 years and is surrounded by young apple, pear, and plum trees.  The young trees have to be protected with wire or the deer will eat the leaves and weaken the tree.  We're in the process of fully fencing around the perimeter of our ten acres, and are about two thirds of the way through with it, when it's finished we'll be able to remove the cages.  If you live where there are deer, they will love you for planting young fruit trees just for them to dine on.  Trust me, I know first hand what deer will do if trees are not protected, I had 4 apple trees killed by the deer the first year I planted the upper orchard, they were the ones I didn't protect.  

These pictures are all in our lower orchard by the vegetable garden, inside the fenced vegetable garden is where I have my special apple espallier's made from my own scion wood and rootstock.  I didn't want to risk any deer attack on them, also in the garden are the rootstocks both for pear and apple.  In the orchard I used to have all the fruit tree cages with posts at four corners and they were more permanent looking, but in the summer when you want to weed, mow, and mulch, it's so much easier to just have one post with the wire hooked around, so you can open it easily.   

Pictured above is a honeycrisp apple tree on an M26 rootstock, this is a rootstock that will stay smaller, but still get good sized and produce fruit at a younger age.  It needs a light pruning and I'll be spreading some of the branches this summer.  I planted this tree five years ago, last year we got 4 apples from it, and this year I'm hoping for at least 10 times that by the looks of the buds.  You can see patience is needed with fruit trees.   

The plum trees above were planted in 2007, they are Shiro and Methley plum, only the Shiro produced a few plums last year, this year though they look like they'll both be loaded with fruit.  It's amazing to me the 4 to 5 year old growth on all my fruit trees, that is in terms of years from the point of getting them from Raintree nursery or Burnt Ridge nursery, they were about 2 to 3 years old when I got them.  So that actual year of growth would be 6 to 7 years old.  Plum trees are good to plant because they begin to produce fruit at a younger age than many fruit trees.  Mulching heavily in early summer with grass clippings was a great tip I learned from an experienced teacher.  Both plums and asian pears like to be pruned later in the spring than apple and pear trees, so I'll wait a few weeks and prune them around the end of March.  I've pruned for shape every year, so these won't need any heavy pruning.  Shiro and Methley are Japanese plums, they cross pollinate one another,  and they like to be open centered pruned.  I also have 2 other varieties of Japanese plums, Beauty and Hollywood.  The european plums, like the Italian plum like to be standard pruned or open centered.  Apples and pears I standard prune, that means upright with laterals, kind of like a noble Christmas tree, only with bigger and longer branches. 
The older portion of the orchard has pears and plum trees that are 15 years old, they've been nurtured with love by me since I the day I literally pruned them to little stubby branch nubs by having no idea what I was doing.  The pears in the foreground were pruned to open center in the beginning before I knew they may prefer to be standard pruned.  Fortunately I did get the plums off to a good pruning start, but it took a couple of years to recover from the down to nub pruning I had done.  I thought I was pruning right back in the beginning, when in reality it was totally wrong.  I began to learn and decided this was worth some very serious study.  I began to collect fruit and edibles books and check them out from the library, I volunteered at the Western Washington Fruit Tree Research station, and learned from those with far more experience.  I remember asking them, what does a well pruned apple tree look like?  What is it I'm going for with a pear tree?   They showed me some of the best of the best trees and shapes for fruit production and the right way to prune.  This was by far the most valuable learning experience.   

They're predicting more snow this coming week, and I'm hoping the UPS driver gets through with my birthday present, 3 new fruit trees.  I have an Early Laxton European plum coming, along with an Asian pear I've been wanting for a long time the Chojuro asian pear, plus I got a Graventstein apple because I've been wanting one to add to my cider orchard, which is the upper orchard.  Fruits and edibles and their propagation has turned into a really fun hobby for me that is rewarding.  
Back inside to a warm fire.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

snowy weekend

Josie and Summer watching the goats beside me.

They all take off running through the snow.

 "You never know they might come back."

 "And we all know... Zolena will get us with head butts, just to let us know who's boss around here." 
The puppies have grown up with the goats and know them well enough to give them some respect.  They also know that Zolena just plays with them and gives them mock head butts, that's why Josie doesn't look too scared.

This is our sweet and funny Zolena, always clowning around with us and the other animals.  She's a Lamancha dairy goat and is our main milker this winter.

Everyone likes to watch Dad building things.  Over the weekend he worked on
a goat fencing project all through the snowy days.  He had lots of company.

A newly installed gate, and fresh concrete posts he made a couple of weeks ago.  

Stormy and Zolena love to play the game of head butt. 
You can see Joon in the distance, she's pregnant and is about halfway through her 5 month pregnancy.

"Enough running around in the snow we're ready to eat and lounge for awhile in our goat cave."  The basement of the chicken coop is the goat barn for our first winter until the new barn is built this summer.  The chickens have the second story, and the goats the lower level, they're totally separate quarters.  The goats all love their cozy little barn, it's on the short side, but once inside it's about a foot above the taller goats heads, it's warm and dry, and they all seem to like it just fine, this is where they sleep, ruminate, and hang out.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Champagne d'Argent and American Chinchilla rabbits

Champagne d'Argent doe ~ "Hazel"
After researching rabbit breeds that are good for meat, fur, and selling offspring as breeding stock, I found the Champagne d'Argents and the American Chinchilla's were the 2 breeds I wanted to try.  Last summer I started with 2 does and a buck, they've really grown over the Fall and Winter.  Come the first of March we should have both does kindling.  I put Serendipity our American Chinchilla doe in with Filbert, our Champagne d'Argent buck on February 2nd.  And I put Hazel, our Champagne d'Argent doe in with him the very next day.  Rabbits are pregnant for about 30-31 days, and it's called kindling when they give birth. The Champagne d'Argents are pedigreed so we'll keep one doe and sell the remainder as breeding stock. 
Champagne d'Argent buck ~ "Filbert"
The American Chinchilla doe is not pedigreed, but is still a gorgeous specimen of the American Chinchilla breed.  If we can't sell the bucks we'll raise them for meat, the rabbits are harder for me than chickens, I hope we can sell all of them to families wanting these heirloom breeds.  This is kind of an experiment, and I'll keep you posted here with the results.  Last summer I did buy a Chinchilla buck for the American Chinchilla doe to breed her to.  We still have him in the cage next to hers, but he turned into the smaller Standard Chinchilla.  The person I bought him from had been given a litter and wasn't sure which kind of Chinchilla he was.  The one's I have are the larger version of the Chinchilla.   I didn't breed her to him because of his size. 

American Chinchilla doe ~ Serendipity
The first breeding for Serendipity I decided to breed her to Filbert, and I will be looking for an American Chinchilla buck this Spring for future breedings.  I found a farm about an hour away that raises pedigreed American Chinchilla's, so will most likely buy a buck and doe from them.  Why do I like pedigreed rabbits?  Well, because as a small farm industry I want to sell quality pedigreed breeding stock, simply because they're worth more.  .  I'm planning for 3 litter's per year, and they usually have around 5-7 kits per litter.  They need to be with their mother for a minimum of 8 weeks, and doelings can be in with her longer. 

The rabbit part of our farm is so enjoyable for me, rabbits are sweet and personable, they're small and don't eat too much, although mine are fed really well.  They produce large amounts of wonderful compost material and are easy to house.  Rabbits were the first farm animal we got here at Applegarth, and we all fell in love with them.  Plus rabbits are a great way to start out small and begin your backyard permaculture plan.  My dream is to have a rabbit tractor this Spring and I want to work on a pasture just for them so they can get exercise, dig in the dirt, and lay in the sun.  All animals in my care get the opportunity to run free at certain times, they get to stretch their legs, eat grass and lay in the sun.  Over the last 5 years I've brought many rabbits out to the garden to play in the sun while I work.  It always brings a smile to heart to see them so happy, running and leaping and playing, the garden is totally fenced in so they're safe.

Right now I have 4 mini rex's in the chicken aviary, they have lived there since last summer when I brought the new rabbits in.  They happily got bumped from their cages and I think they're really enjoying being free, running and digging, they've made an extensive rabbit warren underground, and they live in total harmony with the chickens.  In the evening they come running to me when I call them because they know the chickens are in bed for the night and they get their own special food, a partial flake of grass hay or alfalfa, some rabbit pellets, and their favorite cracked corn.   From about 5pm until daybreak they have the total run of the place until the chickens wake up.  Everyone seems happy about the arrangement.

 As rabbit breeders we will inevitably have rabbit on the menu.  Rabbit meat is delicious, in France and throughout Europe it's very popular.  I had never eaten rabbit meat until last year when we had 5 bucks going into the Fall that we couldn't sell, and we didn't have cage space for them.  So my son brought them to me all processed and I made rabbit stew and rabbit pot pie at his request.  Rabbit meat is a good protein that can be raised economically and humanely in a small space.  If you're at all worried about where your meat comes from you may want to look into rabbits.   We don't plan to eat a lot of rabbit, if we had it a couple times per month that would be enough.  
American Chinchilla fur

This brings us to the fur, what will I do with the fur?  My son cured the pelts of the 5 rabbits he did last year.  He studied the information in several books and spent time on each fur.  This Fall I'm sure I'll  be learning myself how to cure the exquisite hides.  What will I make with them?  I don't know yet, perhaps a hat, or a cozy throw if I save up enough.  This is something I am going to have to research more.

Monday, February 20, 2012

seed orders and snow

Over the weekend it was cold and wet, Saturday night we had a light snow and it's still on the ground this morning, the temperature is hovering around 37 degrees, so it should begin to melt.  I had high hopes for sun or at least dry weather this last weekend to work in the orchard, well mother nature rules, so yesterday I ended up by the fire surrounded by seeds, garden catalogs and order forms. I placed 2 orders for seed through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds  and Territorial Seed Co.  First, I sorted through all my current seeds and made a list of what I needed and wanted.  As I sipped a cup of tea, I sat dreaming of what my garden will look like this year as I perused the pages of each catalog, reading descriptions and figuring out where each crop will go in the garden.

I had already spent a great deal of time highlighting what I wanted on several different occasions, so putting together my order was fairly easy, then of course I changed my mind and added a few more things.  Somehow I always feel I can squeeze a little more in to the garden, and then I have to expand, just so it can all fit :)  I like to try new fruits and vegetables every year, and I love the heirlooms because of their rich heritage and the fact that I can gather true seed at seasons end.  Even if I don't always do it, I like knowing I can.  Last year I gathered broccoli, and kale seed, so this year, and for many years, I won't have to buy any seed, I have so many.  I've always gathered flower seeds, now I want to focus on vegetable seeds, my plans are to collect more seed every year by allowing a couple of plants at the end of a row to set seed. 

Here's a sampling of what I ordered.  From Territorial Seed Company, I ordered green globe artichokes by seed (my first time ever growing artichokes).  This year rather than grow spindly celery, I'm going to try celeriac (I've never grown this before either).  I have lots of winter density kale seed, but wanted to try a new one, it's a beautiful dark pink and green kale called red chidori.  The Territorial seed company is located in Oregon, so they specialize is some cool loving vegetables, I got sugar sprint peas and super sugar snaps, and some gold princess onion. 

From Baker's creek heirlooms, I've ordered 3 types of bush beans, blue lake, dragon's tongue and golden wax,  beans are a good successive crop and also double as a cover crop.  For carrots I got St. Valery and atomic red, I've planted these before and liked them.   I ordered giant noble spinach, and their best selling seed, rocky top salad mix.  For pumpkins I'll plant two varieties, Musquee de Provence ( a large lobed, brownish one I've never tried before) and one I plant regularly, New England sugar pie, for pie making.  New for me, a summer squash called Patisson gold marbre scallop, some scarlet runner beans (I love these beans), and I'm trying red forest crimson bunching onions for the first time

Every year I order seeds because it's a priority in my life.  If I have extra one's they go into our seed bank, I like the feeling of having an abundance of seed, it's another investment in self sufficiency.  

Are you trying any new vegetables this year that you've never tried before?  Have you ever grown artichokes or celeriac?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Orchard and Garden in February

February is a busy time in the orchard, it's the time to prune fruit trees and berry bushes, and plant dormant edibles and fruit trees in the ground .  I'll also gather scion wood this week when I prune and store them in the refrigerator for Spring grafting.  If you're thinking you may want to plant some fruit trees in your yard, now is the time to order them.  You'll want to get them in the ground as soon as they arrive. Over the last 5 years I've bought most of my trees through Raintree Nursery and Burnt Ridge Nursery, they are located in the Northwest, but they sell all over the country.  

Over the next few weeks I'll be focusing my energies on the fruit trees and berry bushes.  My camera will be with me so I can share with you what I'm doing in our orchard.  This is the time of year for a little love and attention on all the edibles.  I've already been busy spreading compost on almost every fruit tree and berry bush (we have an abundance of compost material now with the goats) I just need a few nice dry days and I'll get much of the pruning done, you don't want to prune in the rain, you want the cuts to dry. 

If you live in the Seattle area there will also be the Seattle Tree Fruit Society Spring scion wood and rootstock sale on March 24th.  I'll include more information as the date nears.  I have gone several years in a row and it's a fun and educational day, with demonstrations on grafting, edible landscaping, rootstock's and more.  Plus it's an inexpensive way to build your orchard, it does take longer for the trees to produce, but you'll have the satisfaction of growing them from the beginning yourself.

Here is a good list from the  for what to do in the garden and orchard this month.  

  • Prune and train grapes in first week of February (will not "bleed"), make cuttings from one-year-old wood with a minimum of two nodes. 
  • Prune summer flowering shrubs such as butterfly bush, escallonia, hydrangea, and rose-of-Sharon, roses
  • Prune blueberries and currants
  • Plant perennials, rhubarb, asparagus, and horseradish
  • Start seeds 5-7 weeks before planting of cabbage, broccoli, collard, and kale
  • Start lettuce seeds 3-5 weeks before planting outdoors
  • If soil is workable, direct-seed sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons, calendula, clarkia, godetia, sweet peas, snapdragons   and California poppies
  • Plant garden peas
  • Plant bare-rooted fruit trees, berries, and roses if soil is  not frozen, the earlier the better.
  • Prune fruit trees.
  • Clean up any plant residue, fallen fruit, dead branches,  leaves, prevents disease.

* A note here, I have never sprayed my fruit trees, I just spread compost this time of year and mulch thickly with grass clippings in the summer.  There may come a day when I do decide to spray mildly, I just am not there yet where I feel they need it.  Often times in gardening when the soil is well fed the plant or tree can resist disease and thrive. Below is The Home Orchard Society recommendation.

  • First week of February, third spray (copper or sulfur) for peach leaf  curl on peaches and   nectarines (same as December), you may also use this spray on pears to control pear scab - NOT on apples, apple scab does not over winter on the tree
  • End of February first part of March - dormant oil spray to kill over wintering insect eggs on all fruit trees
  • Cherry; Coryneum blight, fixed copper 53%, 1 oz metallic copper/ gallon of water or Bordeaux mixture.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Baking

Today I had fun baking edible Valentine's for everyone rather than giving cards or candy.  I made stoneware heart mold sugar cookies decorated with an egg yolk stain.   I've been wanting to try my stoneware cookie molds that we've had for several years and somehow never gotten around to using.  Today I made the time and it sure was an enjoyable way to spend a Valentine's day afternoon.

I only had whole wheat flour on hand and didn't have any vanilla, so I had to make do.  The cookies still turned out tasty, they would probably be better with half unbleached white flour and some vanilla, but they still had a nice flavor.  I put a light coat of oil on the molds and then sprinkled them with flour to help release the dough.  Then with an already slightly rolled out dough, I pressed it in and rolled it with a rolling pin, so the back is flat.  Trim the sides and remove gently by tapping to release and pulling it off.   It comes off easily if the dough is cold enough, you can then paint or leave plain, and place on a greased cookie sheet and bake.  The color I used to paint with is made with 2 egg yolks, a half a teaspoon of water and a few drops of food color.  Cookie molds add so much detail to cookies, they are like artwork.  Next I want to try making chocolate in the molds, and you can use stoneware molds for casting paper as well, I've done it and they turn out beautiful.

While my cookie dough was chilling for 2 hours, I decided I wanted to make something that would use up lots of eggs and milk.  Yesterday I got 14 eggs from the chicken coop and I've been getting a dozen or more everyday.  I found cream puffs filled with chocolate pudding used 8 eggs!  The pudding had 4 yolks and almost 3 cups of milk, and the baked cream puffs used 4 eggs.  When the kids came home from school they each got to have a home made chocolate cream puff and Valentine cookie, what a surprise!.  I made them with whole wheat flour too, and they turned out delicious.  I love to bake for special occasions and the people in my life, this is some of the good things in life to me.  Happy Valentine's Day! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

goat talk

Last Summer I brought home my first 2 goats, soon followed by 2 more, and then 2 more in the Fall.  It's been a whirlwind of learning these last 7 months and I'm thankful to all the breeders who have spent time talking with me and answering the zillions of questions I asked them, I always had a pen and paper ready whenever I called so I could take notes.  There were many books to read and blogs to peruse about goat care. I have followed some blogs over the last year and have learned so much, probably the most from
Wild Roots Homestead and Fiasco Farm .   There is a lot to learn about goats, I'm sure once you've been raising them for several years and you fall into good routines the information just becomes a part of you.  That's why it's so good to talk to and read information from different people who have raised goats for years, their experience and hands on information to newbies like me is incredibly valuable.

When I bought Zolena and Jersey last July, they were a package deal along with a milking stand and all sorts of supplies that a new goat owner would need. It was truly a lucky day for me to see the ad on craigslist for them, I knew right away when we met, they were meant to come home with me.  You can see below all the additional stuff I got, stainless steel milking pails and strainers were valuable right away, along with the milk stand.  Included in the supplies there is birthing stuff for this spring, first aid supplies, a banding tool, hoof trimmers and files, brushes and picks, copper bolus, and a variety of misc. stuff that a goat owner needs at certain times.    

It was so amazing to get this package deal as a beginner from someone who was getting out of goats.  The package was 2 top of the line year old does, a lamancha (milking almost a gallon per day) and a nubian, all the supplies and a milking stand, plus she let me make payments (thank you Beverly).  I know that she went onto my blog when picking out her prospective buyer, there were a couple of us who wanted them, and I feel fortunate she chose us here at Applegarth Farm to bless.   

Learning all about goats began in earnest last summer and all through the Fall.  I've learned about different breeds of goats, milking, feeding, immunizations,breeding, disbudding, banding, hoof care and all the myriad of  information you need to know about, supplements and minerals, nutrition,  fencing and their general well being.   Goats need a proper shelter and good fencing, our fencing projects have gone on and on.  They eat a lot more than you might think, milk goats need good alfalfa, grass hay and grain and I like mine to be able to forage naturally, so they need larger pastures that include forest and undergrowth. 

Breeding is part of owning milk goats and they need to be bred once every year, or every other year if you decide to milk through the winter like I am, rotating my Lamancha and Nubian, so then we'll have a milk supply year round. I only had 2 does to get bred this last Fall, first I had to learn when they were in heat and the signs that indicate they were in heat, then I had to discover when they would be in a standing heat, plus we discovered each one has their own personal tastes.  For Joon we brought home a buck after a failed attempt, and for Jersey we have now been back one more time,the first breeding apparently didn't take and she came back into heat the end of January.  These things are somewhat mysterious to me and I'm still learning.   

Disbudding and scurs have been another question of mine, how do you deal with scurs?  All four of my Nigerians have scurs, should I worry about them, trim them, file them, let them grow and risk breaking?  These are all questions I've had.  The proper age to disbud is around 1-2 weeks, a proper disbudding job lasts forever, and makes the goat show worthy.  I have to learn how to do the disbudding right myself, this is going to be a learning curve I'm sure.  One of the things not included in my stuff was a disbudding iron, so that is one expense I'm planning for this Spring.  Scurs are little deformed horns that grow back after they were disbudded, bucks have so much testosterone it's usually inevitable they will grow scurs.  If they're doelings their little horn buds either weren't done enough and grew back or they weren't disbudded early enough.  I'm going to have to trim Stormy's scurs because one has curved around and is going to put pressure on his head, I'm a little nervous about doing it, but will have my blood stop powder nearby.

Feed, how much, how often, what kind of hay, what kind of grain?  Water with a little apple cider vinegar in it is good for them, loose minerals and baking soda are important to regularly provide.  I'm learning how to feed without wasting the expensive alfalfa, it has been a dilemma, and I have plans to make a covered manger that they can feed off of both sides and there is a tray to catch the falling stuff.    We feed 3 times per day, breakfast lunch and dinner, and sometimes a snack when we're walking about and they're asking, generally I try to keep food in front of them all the time like I do with the chickens and rabbits.   

Deworming is important, bringing in goats from several different herds had it's challenges, along with not having rotational pasture yet.  I have watched the goats closely and have wormed them in early Fall, and again just last month (usually you will worm twice per year).  I've also gotten an herbal wormer with wormwood, and plan to give that routinely.  The signs of worms are whitish gums, look at your goats gums they should be pink. You will also want to have a fecal done by a vet to determine if you even need to worm.  I got a microscope for Christmas from my husband just for doing the fecals myself, and plan to learn, having both dogs and goats that need regular worming, this will be necessary. I gave my goats Ivermectin last month, and will give them Safeguard next time, it's important to switch wormers. 

Trimming feet is easy if they stand still, mine will only stand still while eating so I'm quick at it while I give them some grain, their hooves need to be trimmed every few months throughout the year. Goats also need to be immunized once per year with a CDT booster, and kids need the shots given just like puppies in several doses at a young age.  They also need to be tested annually for CAE, & CL, I haven't done the tests or immunizations and plan to do them this Spring. Doing these tests is something that needs to done as a responsible breeder in order to sell your young goat kids.  If you are planning to just have a couple backyard goats you may not need to do them.   They need minerals and selenium and copper given to them at the appropriate times.

I have loved learning all about goats and their care, it's important to me to do it right, and be knowledgeable.  We'll be having kids come May and I am going to be like a nervous new mother when Joon goes into labor, hovering over her to make sure everyone is ok.  The goats have all become like special members of our family and we cherish them all.

If you have goats and know some good tips to pass on to a beginner like me, I'd love to hear them. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

little helpers

"I'll show you how I saw her do it... like this".  Goats are curious, these are the boys, our little buck Cowboy is on the left and Stormy our wether is trying to drive the power wagon.  They are both lots of fun, they leap about and twirl and run as fast as they can, they're also good buddies.  Often when we're outside working they get to tag along with us and run around. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

My sister Joy

42 years ago today I was born and 4 minutes later my sister Joy came into the world, we're identical twins and today is our birthday.  I think I've mentioned my sister but have never officially talked about her and since I really miss  her today I wanted to tell you a little bit about her.

My sister Joy is like a part of me, we talk almost daily and I can't imagine life without her, she's always been there to encourage and support me and I've tried to do the same for her.  Growing up we moved every few years and I think it made us even closer as we only had each other when we didn't know another soul.   We shared rooms, slept in the same bed and talked until we fell asleep, we learned to cut hair on each other and talked about boys and friends and school. 

As adults we now share our children's lives with each other, their victories and challenges, and what we're proud of.  We endlessly rehash the past and know each other's strengths and weaknesses.  We have the same energy and enthusiasm for life and I've never met another who can compare to her.

I remember 8 years ago how hard it was when she moved across the mountains a couple hours away, I used to see her regularly and we usually got together on our birthday.  We'd bring each other primroses and daffodils and go out for lunch sometimes.  She has 4 boys similar in ages to my children and they've grown up getting together for special cousin time. 

She now works as an interior designer and sells interior finishes for homes (carpet, counter's, floor coverings, tile, etc.), it's a natural job for her and something she truly enjoys.  It's interesting how similar we both are, but also how different we are.   

Today for my birthday I talked with her on the phone and wished her a happy birthday, and then a couple of my friends took me out to lunch and we had a nice time visiting and catching up.  Later in the evening our family had ham and scalloped potatoes and salad for dinner.  I had made a german chocolate cake and we had Haagen Daz Java chip ice cream, yum.  My kids all blessed me with handmade cards, a couple books and art supplies, and I had a perfectly wonderful day, but I missed my sister Joy.

Just wanted to share with you who my sister is, and hopefully in the next couple days I'll find just the right picture to post here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

sun and farm fun

Cinnamon and Tigger
daughter and Mother
The sun is shining today, along with a few clouds, but to feel even a ray of sun across the face is something we're all craving this time of year.  I just remembered to pull out my vitamin D the other day, which is something we all need when we're not getting enough sun around here.  The cats are sun worshipping along with all the animals today, and I'm just about to head outside myself and enjoy digging a new bed for some plants that need to be moved.  February can have some of the most gorgeous weather for gardening in the winter, and my body is ready to start getting firm again and my dormant muscles brought back to life.  December and January are over and it's growing lighter everyday.

The moon is still waxing, so today plans are to start my first seeds with above ground vegetables, early cabbage, broccoli and Kale they will be indoors under a light and planted in flats.  In the garden I need to clean out my cold frame, amend with compost and plant seeds of lettuce, spinach, herbs and a few flowers like lupine, delphinium, and bee balm.

Today the goats will also get their paddock raked, cleaned, and wood chips spread to contain the mud. One nice benefit is that I'll get loads of rich compost material to layer in the pile behind the vegetable garden from them.  The rabbits will get their cages all cleaned and I'll get manure compost from cleaning under their cages and spread around the blueberry patch nearby.  The snow has finally melted and we've had some all night rains this last week, so now mud is my challenge.  Fortunately we have large piles of woodchips in the lower meadow from cleaning up the forest, so I'll be taking my power wagon down there to fill it up.  The animals are all appreciative, and so am I when doing their chores out of the mud.

Now that I have my day all planned, I'm out the door to breath in deeply with exercise and fresh air, and to enjoy being with the animals out in the sun and farm fun around here.