Into Summer

Finally it looks like summer is coming to the north woods. Suddenly the leaves are green, the grass is green, and little green silk worms are appearing in the trees. June is green and I love it.

For the first time we have had a hen successfully brood a small flock of chicks. I’m excited about it. Every year we have had one or two hens try but when they set¬† in the chicken coop the other hens want to lay eggs where they are. Eventually we take the eggs away but it turns into a smelly mess. If you have never heard a rotten egg explode and sniffed the corresponding odor count yourself lucky. The smell fills the entire barn and lingers. Yuck! This setting hen (its always the Buff Orpingtons) found a nice quiet spot in the big goat stall. zhenThere is an old dog house in there for the goat kids and because they like to climb on it. Mamma hen set on her eggs in there and has hatched out 3 chicks. It works perfectly to have them in the dog house because I can put food in there for them and they are safe from the cats.

We had a fox stealing chickens so I am glad for the replacements. We lost about 6 hens and all 4 of our ducks. I really hope these chicks are hens!

Lucian and I also decided that Franky, our buck, needed a toy. He likes to ram his head into the side of the barn. I get a little tired of hearing him. Dong, Dong, DONG! He does it mostly when he wants his hay, but I know he was also bored. We found him a great toy. Lucian rolled a wooden spool used for electrical wire all the way through the barn and when Trenton got home he tossed it in for Franky. He has been having a blast with it ever since.

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Let the Gardens Grow

The gardens are finally planted!

Sometimes I wonder if having a garden is worth all the work that goes into it, but when the vegetables start ripening I remember. Until then I keep thinking of how much work it is to start a garden. There are many different steps that go into creating a garden and each requires a fair amount of physical effort.

Step 1: Fertilizingzgarden

The better the soil the less fertilizer you will need on a garden to feed the plants that will feed you. Our soil is sandy so we need to fertilize it every year. There are different types of fertilizer that can be put on your garden. While there are chemical fertilizers that will help your garden grow most gardens do better with organic material to improve the soil. The preferred fertilizer is cow manure but we don’t own any cows so our garden gets filled with horse manure. This year I looked after Penelope while¬†Trenton, Lucian, and even Fiona hauled countless wheelbarrows full of horse manure onto the various gardens.

Step 2: Breaking It In

If you do not already have an established garden plot this would be your Step 1. This step requires a nice rototiller or a tractor with a tiller to breakup the sod and get the soil ready to plant. For us we complete this step after the garden has a layer of horse manure on it then Trenton runs the rototiller to mix the manure into the soil. This year some of my perennial herbs died out of my herb garden which opened up considerable space. I decided to take advantage of this and fertilized it well before Trenton maneuvered the tiller into the little space. The herb garden has not been tilled with the big rototiller for 5 years so it was nice to turn the soil.

Step 3: Plant

Now its time to mark out your rows to plant. Trenton measured his rototiller and built a row marker so there is room to run it between the rows. After your rows are marked it is time to put your seed in. If you have time to complete this all in one day, great! If not start with potatoes and onions which take a little longer to grow. Like crop farmers we rotate the location of our plants each year so the soil is not drained of nutrients in specific areas. Make sure to at least rotate your corn which depletes nitrogen from the soil. This year the corn is where the squash was and the pumpkins and squash are in a side garden so they have room to spread. Plant all of your seeds before putting any starter plants in the ground. Lucian, who is 5 this year, is very excited because he has his own row in the garden and Fiona, at a rowdy 2, had fun putting the seed into rows and tried really hard to keep the seed in the lines and not too close to each other.

Step 4: Weed

Weed, wait, weed, wait, and WEED AGAIN! Its a never ending battle with gardens. Mulching helps unless you have chickens roaming around then don’t bother because they will spread the mulch all over and ruin your hard work in 5 seconds. I know this from experience. While waiting for your crop to ripen it is nice to have pre-measured rows that you can run your rototiller down once or twice. It will

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cut down on the amount of hand weeding tremendously.

Step 5: Grow Garden Grow!

When the first vegetables ripen and taste so much better than the produce bought in stores I remember why I put so much time and effort into growing a garden.

After a hard day we all look a little dirty. Fiona’s grubby little face just shows how hard she worked and played today!