Sunday, February 22, 2015

Around Here Lately...
This post is a hodge-podge of pictures and "happenings" around here. They're full of sunny days and cold nights, lots of playing outdoors, finally getting around to decorating our home, planning for the last season of structured lessons and getting ready for the summer.
Our sweet Molly (3 years old) is pregnant again! We're super stoked! We didn't think it would come back positive, thus we ordered 4 straws for Artificial Insemination, set up the AI tech. to come this week, but thankfully had to cancel him because she was indeed pregnant. We used the BioPryn testing kit for a blood sample and sent it into the lab. They called us the following day and we got the great news! We have two due dates written down and the calf with either be due August 4th - 18th or October 6th-11th. Lord-willing we'll have lots of extra milk for our piggies this fall.

Our garden tomatoes covered for frost. This is something new that we never had to do in our old hometown. Our new town is so highly elevated that we get the coldest of cold temperatures when winter dips down. This particular evening, we hit 22 degrees, had frost on our plants and ice in pockets around the farm everywhere. Solid ICE. The tomatoes didn't make it, neither did the pole beans or cucumbers. Our broccoli, cauliflower, peas, lettuce and chamomile were fine though. In our old town, we could plant just about anything starting in September and let it grow til March, with no fear of a freeze. Here, we learned an important lesson that the cool weather crops definitely have to be planted first and the warmer weather crops need to wait til March to plant. I knew this first year would be a learning curve and we are certainly learning!

Mango blossoms. This tree did not make it through the frost. We're going to try to cut it back and see if it will survive.

Our neighbor's rooster who likes to hang out at our place.

Sunning out our frost sheets that we used to covering. Told my husband we need a clothes line eventually. Strangely enough, I'm itching to line dry again. I miss it, even after a summer with no dryer during rainy season.

One of the pines that still remained in our garden area. Took Rob 30 minutes (roughly) to get it down. It will make for some beautiful lumbar!


I LOVE the smell of freshly cut pine. And the rings, oh the rings! Counting them is bitter sweet. We hate to take them down, but we have to grow food.

Pretty much every person that we've talked to regarding getting a full-sized tractor has said to get one. We've been cutting trees, clearing land out and hauling logs for over a year now. When we first bought our land, Titus was a baby and I would strap him to my back all day, hauling logs. Now, instead of dropping LOTS of money on a 38 horse power tractor, we bought a John Deere lawn mower which has a 25 horse power engine and it hauls just fine. We built a "Go Devil" such as the one seen on Alaska the Last Frontier, strap the log to it, and away it goes. We saved a lot of money and have been able to get all the jobs done so far that we've needed to do. It won't move hay or dig a pond, but we're hoping to barter with neighbors for those services.

A little walk with Molly. Now that the animals have a much larger area, we have to make it a point to walk them so that they stay able to be walked on a lead.

The start of our beans being covered. They didn't make it. The good thing is that our growing season lasts til May up here, so we can still plant in March and harvest in May before the real heat sets in.
The desk of your truly. I found this old, wooden desk at a thrift store for $15.00 and I adore it. I love opening all the windows, letting the breeze in, listening to the birds, watching the animals and kids play outside. I'm looking forward to picking Garden Phlox (which grow wild here and are beautiful!) and Elderflowers this spring to set here and smell as I research, read and write.

Two of the many red-shouldered hawks in our area. Although they don't bother the grown chickens, the little ones don't stand a chance. We watched as a hawk flew down and took one of our 5-week-old chicks a week ago. Not cool. 

Rob and Lincoln working on the garden fencing.

Titus and his "chickies".

We were able to place two lovely picnic tables outside and we've been really enjoying eating meals outdoors as well as doing lessons.

Orange blossoms


Peppermint...I love drying this out for Norah's and my favorite tea.

Milkweed...lost this to the frost as well.


Our "pasture". It used to be a forest and still kinda is, but we're working on it one tree at a time. Was hoping to have most of the trees down and stumps ground for tilling in grass seed this spring, but it looks like it will take more time. Being a grass farmer is something that I take seriously and although I'm at a rookie level learning-wise, I'm itching to get it a-growin'!

Molly-Moo and Mabel-Mae. Mabel will be ready for breeding this April.

Our compost pile. It's pretty small here because I was emptying it out and into our garden, but I had to snap a shot. When we moved here, this was the FIRST thing (besides continually cutting down trees) that I focused on. Soil is everything and good soil grows good grass. Good grass gives you healthy animals and healthy animals give you good, nutrient dense food. I'll be sure to do a more detailed post on how we got A LOT of compost in just two weeks' time and keep it going (even still's a permaculture thang). This compost grows great plants and it was all FREE! Tee hee.

Half-painted fencing. This sucker keeps the chickens out of the garden...yea!

There is no shortage of firewood here. I'm sure someday we'll run low (maybe 30 years from now), but we're actually looking into getting a wood stove for the house. They can be found quite inexpensively, heat your home well, you can use them for cooking and the ones that are EPA-certified can be installed into manufactured homes.

A little Norah and Titus lovin'.

Time to paint. One thing we LOVE here is that we rarely run our air conditioner. Even though we live in Florida, due to our elevation, the nights are substantially cold here and we just cover up with an extra blanket at night, then open the windows in the early morning, letting the cold air in to keep us comfortable during the day. It's lovely.

Oh yeah, we have 2 cats now. This one in particular has earned his keep with his professional mouse catching. (grin)

Yes, we live outside (pretty much). Norah is enjoying a reading lesson here.

Our meat birds who are slowly disappearing thanks to our hawks. Time to build another chicken coop.
Our piglets were born last week and we were so excited to take a trip to visit them. A little boy and a little girl made up this small, first time litter. We're hoping to two more from another sow soon. Total of 4.

They're quite adorable if I do say so myself. Friends from church breed them and they have been so sweet to share their knowledge with us. This past week, you could find me at any given day researching natural pig wormers and pig raising. I ordered this book in hopes to learn more about natural pig raising vs. our commercial ways. There's a lot being done with garlic, rosemary and DE (Diotemaceous Earth).

Hog plum trees are in blossom here and they're so purdy. Can't wait to do us some hog plum pickin' and make jam.

The blossoms have a light fragrance

ICE! Yes, we had an ice fight the morning after our below freezing temperatures.
Blessings sweet readers!

1 comment:

Jana said...

All sounds exciting and what a blessing to the soul. We are still cooped up indoors here but dreaming of Spring! Sorry to hear of so many of your plants freezing. We have a shiort growing season here... not safe to plant till mid May and then temps start dropping again in late October. Thinking a greenhouse may just be a must! Love reading about your farm living...keeps the dream alive!