We’re back! Or I guess I should say we’ve been back, but we hit the ground running between our full time jobs and our long list of farm tasks and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and put my fingertips to the keyboard.
So, first things first. While we were gone, the temperatures ended up dropping into the 20s for a few nights – much lower than forecasted – so sadly all but three of our beans died despite my parents best efforts at tarping them. We have this same problem every year where we take a major gamble on planting the beans right at our last frost date, so I think we have finally learned our lesson. Next year we will start our beans two weeks later than our normal start date which should hopefully eliminate our recurring bean dilemma. Although it is a major bummer that the beans died especially since they were our strongest bean transplants to date, my awesome mom started two full trays of soil blocked beans right away and they are almost ready to be transplanted. In fact, I’ve been hardening them off with the tomatoes, okra, nasturtiums, and the first round of eggplants which will hopefully all be planted within the next week, weather dependent of course.
Speaking of the garden, it is completely prepped and ready for all of the summer crops to be planted! We finished transferring compost and applying ground cloth to the remaining beds the other day. This is the earliest we’ve ever had the garden completely ready this time of year. It is back breaking work without a tractor, but it feels good to know that garden prep is complete. The compost bin now has one completely empty side which is also quite satisfying. I love that we are able to recycle our animal and food waste to nourish our soil and grow our own food. It is one of the most gratifying parts of hobby farming.
Over the weekend, we started the final round of summer garden seeds. Trays of cucumber, summer squash, and winter squash seeds were nestled into soil blocks and are already starting to germinate in the greenhouse. We also direct sowed thousands of flower seeds between the zinnia boxes and the large pollinator box. The radishes have been sown into their respective boxes and the herbs have been sown into their respective pots. We also planted all of our potato boxes. I would be a fool to proclaim that we’ve sown our final seeds for the summer garden because surely something will go wrong and I’ll have to restart a few. But you never know, we may have compressed our last soil block and sown our last seeds until fall. We’ll just have to wait and see. I’m excited for this round of seeds to really start germinating this week because our greenhouse will be at maximum capacity. It’s so gratifying to walk into a greenhouse full of seedlings that have the potential to provide us with so much fresh food. This time of year, although filled with an abundance of physically demanding labor, is very renewing and rejuvenating.
Another big project that Doug completed last weekend is our new mobile chick brooder/chicken tractor. Doug always amazes me with his ability to build anything that he envisions (and that I ask for), and this project was no different. Let me tell you, this thing is amazing! It has an enclosed indoor area so that it can be used to brood chicks when they are young, and it also has a door that retracts via a pulley system that leads to an enclosed run. The tractor is on four heavy duty wheels and has a hitch so that we can pull it around the yard with the four wheeler. When the tractor reaches its destination, all four wheels retract and the birds are lowered to ground level. Now that our chicks are 10 weeks old and are able to regulate their body temperatures, we have been driving them around the yard and letting them out into the run during the day to peck around in the grass. At night we have been making sure that they all go back into the enclosed coop area and we have been shutting the door so they can get used to the routine and also because the night time temperatures are still only in the 50s. So far so good! They seem to love being able to go outside and frolic in the run. These chicks are the friendliest group of chicks that we’ve ever raised, and the only thing I can maybe attribute it to is that we introduced them to grubblies at an earlier age than the other flocks that we’ve raised. They are so curious and as soon as we open the door to the brooder, they come running. Also, have I mentioned how much I love barred rocks? They have the best temperaments and personalities. Definitely a staple breed in our flock!
In other news, it’s turkey season in NC and Doug harvested a nice tom turkey from the back of our property over the weekend. The meat has been vacuum sealed and is in our freezer for a future meal. Thank you, Mr. turkey! I think that’s about it for now. We’ve gotten so many big ticket items crossed off of our to do lists in the past week that we are in great shape moving forward. In our near future, we have lots of planting to do as well as clearing the woods around the new apiary location in preparation for our new colonies of bees. We will be sure to check in again soon!