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Using a tree to suspend rooster for retirement.

It's possible to retire a rooster without a bucket or cone....but not recommended.

Posted Fri Mar 23 06:00:11 2018 Tags:
Upside-down rooster

After five and a half months living like normal Americans, Mark and I are itching for real food. Yes, the stuff at the farmer's market is better than the stuff at the grocery store. No, neither holds a candle to the produce and meat we're used to harvesting from our own farm.

Cat in the sun

A hankering for real chicken broth is what tempted us to take two of the dozen roosters our neighbor is trying to get rid of. We cut up and ground the meat then cooked the rest of the carcass down into which point our cats went nuts. These spoiled darlings won't get off the couch for factory-farmed poultry, but they just about drove me crazy sneaking onto the counter trying to get into that stew pot to gnaw at free-range chicken bones.

Of course, processing old roosters isn't easy. We'll see how nourished we feel by the meat and broth, then will decide whether to accept the other ten birds.

Posted Thu Mar 22 06:00:12 2018 Tags:
One Tie being used to secure a cock's feet.

Our neighbor needed to thin out her flock and we agreed to help.

My first time using a One Tie to secure a rooster's feet together might be a new trend for me.

It's easier than a piece of rope and seems to have zero chance of it coming loose.

Posted Wed Mar 21 06:00:11 2018 Tags:
Cattle eating hay

Even just a couple of miles down the road in a less exposed location, mud season is still very real. But up here on our ridge, the soil is bone dry. Clearly, we're going to have to get our irrigation setup working sooner rather than later.

Water meter

To Mark's joy (no jury-rigging solutions out of baling twine and shoestrings!) and my disgust (chlorine, fluoride, energy-intensive, money-squeezing, limited supply!), we're on city water in our new location. I can't recall exactly how much we're allowed to use each month for the base rate --- I think 500 or 600 gallons? So far, we're using about half that, but gardens are thirsty beasts.

Daffodil quick hoops

So we're starting to brainstorm the best solution. The first step will be gutters...but where should we channel the precious off-flow? I go back and forth between spending some cash to build as big a pond as we can fit at the edge of our yard, creating an in-ground cistern out of concrete, or just going the plastic storage tank route. I'm all ears if anyone has first-hand results of any of those options!

Posted Tue Mar 20 06:00:10 2018 Tags:
Anna inspecting a new supply of cardboard.

Anna inspecting the cardboard we picked up on Sunday.

Thank you Kiara for the gift of cardboard (and Mom and Jayne for the recently used stash).

The former might last a week at this point in garden planning. The latter is already long gone.

Posted Mon Mar 19 06:00:09 2018 Tags:
Lettuce seedlings

Our spring frost-free date is supposed to be five days later here than it was in Virginia, so I tweaked my garden spreadsheet to match. Of course, spring planting times are more of an art than a science. It's all about current soil temperature and upcoming rainfall and two-week forecasts...and my mood that day.

To cut a long story short, I direct-seeded my first lettuce seeds two weeks earlier than I did last year in Virginia. They're growing slowly but surely, despite the fact I didn't even slap a quick hoop over them until lows dropped back into the mid twenties sometime last week.

Flat of broccoli seedlings

Meanwhile, my inside seedlings are doing pretty well, considering the fact I let them sit on the floor without lights for way too long. Stems are a bit leggy as a result, and the cat trampling didn't help either. Now that Mark's given them their own shelf and lights, though, I think we're back on track. No, Huckleberry, my grow zone is not your play pen.

Young kale plants

I went ahead and transplanted some baby kale outside to join the few overwintering specimens I have under quick hoop number two.
The older plants are starting to put out enough leaves to provide a small meal occassionally --- so good to have real, flavorful food on our plates again!

Posted Sun Mar 18 06:00:09 2018 Tags:
Truck tarp tie down in the snow.

Our first truck load of compost had a problem with some of the particles blowing away on the ride home.

A tarp tied down with bungee cords helped us get the second truck load home without leaving a trail of compost particles.

Posted Sat Mar 17 06:00:12 2018 Tags:
Basil roots

Potted basilEvery time I go over to Mark's mom's house, I'm impressed by the thriving basil in her kitchen window. In my experience, basil isn't thrilled by winter conditions even indoors. So I asked for tips on keeping this tender herb alive in March.

"The trick," Rose Nell told me, "is lots of water." She places the basil's pot inside a cup, which she keeps at least halfway full of water. Roots expand out from the pot into the water, in essence turning the growing space into a bit of a hydroponics setup.

And it works! The proof is in the pudding...or rather, in the roasted potatoes and salads seasoned with fresh herbs in January, and February, and March. Maybe next winter I'll give it a try, but for now I'm content inviting myself over to enjoy someone else's hard work.

Posted Fri Mar 16 06:00:13 2018 Tags:
Brush clearing for new garden.
Clearing some stunted trees to make room for the new garden.
Posted Thu Mar 15 06:00:47 2018 Tags:
Pruning a peach tree

I'm forcing myself not to plant any trees until this coming winter, once I better understand the lay of our new land. But I started going into fruit-tree withdrawal in early March --- good thing Jayne had a pair of peaches she was willing to let me prune!

Posted Wed Mar 14 06:00:13 2018 Tags:

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