Alpaca · Animals · Chickens · garden · Goats · Llama · Sheep

The Day to Day of Winter Farming

This time of year, there isn’t a whole lot going on here, but that doesn’t mean we are sitting around all day. Our fifteen fuzzy hay eating animals still need hay and snacks brought out to them at least once a day, and the birds still need their feed and water taken care of.

We have shifted the way we do our chores slightly this winter. We were both getting home after dark some days, so we moved all of our poultry feeding to the mornings. One fifty pound sack of feed is divvied up between several feeders, and they seem to be fine with that. If one of us is home, we will go out a couple times with Luna and throw some “snackies” out for the birds. Snackies are scratch, kitchen scraps, or whatever else we might have for them. This keeps them entertained, and allows us to check on them periodically.

As for the fuzzy hay eating animals, we still occasionally feed them twice. They get at least one full bale of hay in the morning, which is sometimes brought out in a wheelbarrow. The smaller goats seem to enjoy when that happens. If they eat most of that, we give them another half bale of hay in the evening. We don’t like to give them all of it at once, because they just like to make a mess of it, and leave it all over the ground.

Taco is being very helpful in the wheelbarrow.

The nice part about them making a mess is that it’s great for them to bed down in. This works well for us, until the hay and poop piles up. We have been managing to stay on top of things, and we scoop out the spent hay pretty regularly.

This is a completely different day, and that is Milkshake in the wheelbarrow, and Betty eyeballing him, with Nugget on the left supervising.

The wheelbarrow loads of dirty hay get hauled around the pastures and are dumped into low spots in the ground. These holes are mostly caused by chickens taking excessively aggressive dust baths. I don’t know what their issue is, but they apparently think bathing for 45 minutes and tossing every speck of dirt three feet away is absolutely required. Filling the holes means we fall less frequently, which is always a good thing. We also toss some of the hay into the bird yard for them to scratch through. It soaks up some of the gross mud we have been dealing with for a while, and gives them a little more traction when the ground freezes. If we have any hay left after, it gets piled on top of our compost pile.

This is the bulk of what we have been doing all winter. Soon, we will begin ordering our seeds for the vegetable and flower gardens, as well as ordering chicks to raise. We are looking forward to working back into our daily routines.

garden · Production · Vegetables

Preparing the Garden for a Successful Year

Summer of 2017 was a summer of next to no rain. It made for a difficult first year of gardening for us on our new property. We got a soil test done last year which told us what our garden was lacking. One of them was organic matter. Back in September 2017, we plowed the garden and seeded with winter rye and forage radish. The radishes have long roots which helps aerate the soil, and the rye helps build up organic matter when it’s tilled in.

 

Last weekend, Robert went through our careful orchestration of acquiring the tools we need to do large scale garden work. We borrow a cone spreader from our friends at Green Garden, and a tractor from our friends Dave and Nancy. He also had to borrow a van to transport all the bags of fertilizers home.

IMG_20180408_142947.jpgOur garden is about 3/4 of an acre. Because of the large size, and how poor our soil is, we needed large quantities of everything. It started with 1500 pounds of lime. Lime helps raise the pH of the soil. Most plants want the soil between 6.5 and 7, and ours was at 5.4. In addition, 400 pounds of 19-19-19 fertilizer was added. This adds nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. And finally, our soil was especially poor in potassium, so 40 pounds of potash was mixed in, which is 0-0-60.IMG_20180408_141816

So far, so good with what has been spread. We still need to till in the rye and spread our plastic mulch. But, it’s progressing, which makes us both happy. We can’t wait to share what we are growing with you!