Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Farm Happenings, and Stuff

Do you know that Wii Sports boxing can burn about 100 calories per 15 minutes?

I kid you not.

The last few nights Ben and I have been looking for something other than movies to do after the kids go to bed. We figured out that our Wii can be used for more than just netflix. ;) We loaded up Sports and actually had quite a good time, bowling and boxing. And it's burning pretty good calories.

My weight has been steadily climbing since my last pregnancy and it's got to stop. I'm sure part of it is the ultra-fatty pasta alfredo, pizza, and fried pork chops we've been eating. So the last two weeks or so I have started cutting down on calories and getting more exercise. Luckily exercise is coming fairly easy now that the weather is (well, WAS) warming up. Mucking out a barn burns a lot of calories!

We found out that the goats are too small still for breeding. :( So now I am on the lookout for a doe that is ready to deliver in a month or so that we can purchase. I found a beautiful Alpine doe on craigslist, but alas, I can't justify spending $300 for a goat.

We have a flock of 8 chickens now - 6 hens and 2 roosters. Ole Red and Popcorn made it through the winter. Roosie Jr. Jr. did not. :( We had three generations of that roo on our farm and now he's gone. It makes me sad.

We have decided to increase our flock - again. We will be going to Tractor Supply during their Chick Days and letting the girls pick out a few. We'll also try to hatch at least one incubator (20-30 eggs). Ben is on the fence about trying meat chickens again this year - we need some equipment, but if we can make/purchase that in time, we'll do a small meat chicken order.

Over last weekend we dug up 12 wild raspberry plants and replanted them in our nice mulched/fertalized berry patch. I also dug up 3 of my grapes that may or may not make it - I can't remember which ones were growing last year. This weekend we hope to dig up all the wild blackberries that we have around - hundreds, easily, and add some of them to the berry patch.

I have fruit trees on order - quite a few, actually, as well as a few more grape plants. I have apples, peaches, pears, and cherries coming. It's very exciting. We have found these large 'cages' that are used with large glue tanks in commercial glue companies. They are about 5 foot square and they keep the goats from being able to eat newly planted trees.

Our bees are alive! We're not sure just HOW alive, but there was definite activity during the few warm days we had. I do hope that the cold snap again hasn't hurt them. Hopefully they got some pollen while they were out and have a tiny bit extra food. We saw a lot of small, tiny bees (hopefully babies = good breeding/hatching going on). Ben has another hive up and ready and we are getting another 4 pound package of bees in April, so we'll have two hives going. And hopefully our first hive will swarm and we will catch it - 3 hives!

We also took out our mason bee house and looked inside, which I will post later because I got some cool pictures of it. We only found larve. :( But we're going to try again. Mason bees and "orchard" bees are great for fruit trees because they buzz around right as most trees are budding and flowering - unlike honey bees, which come out either too early or too late, depending on what kind of tree.

So that's the farm happenings! I love spring.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spring? SPRING?

I love winter. Really, I love winter.

But you know what? Enough's enough. I would go into all the reasons why I'm sick of it, but, well, I'm sure you know.

Yesterday was a balmy, sunny 45 degrees. The farm jumped into action. I swear, it was like a switch had turned on. The bees came back to life (we were pretty sure they were dead) and were buzzing frantically around, cleaning out their house and starting up life again. The chickens were wandering around for the first time in a while. The goats were nibbling some grass that had come uncovered as the snow melted. Even the birds were chirping.

I saw our hated enemy friend the hawk, sweeping over the fields. I have to admit, he's a beauty. I just wish he would stop eating our chickens. I get sick of watching him dive after them.

Spring is such a frenzied time, even for a small farm like ours. Here's some of the things that need to be done this year:

  • Clean out the barn completely. Everything is going. All the bedding, stocked hay, everything. The goats are now corraled in the smaller pen and sleeping in the (empty) chicken house. The barn needs to be completely mucked, pressure washed, and set to rights.
  • Fence in the whole pasture with field wire fence, layered with electric lines. We've found that the electric-only works only so-so, and goats are natural escape artists anyway, so we're going to panel it all in field wire before we let the goats out into the main pasture. We'll use the electric lines to keep them from head-butting or rubbing up against the field fence.
  • Start up our berry patch in the back. We mucked out about 1/3 of the barn Sunday and all of that wonderful, crappy mulch and straw went back to the berry area. I layered it down nicely.
  • Get some grape trellises up and running.
  • At least experiment with cold weather crops - lettuces, broccoli, etc. I've never even attempted them, so I'm going to semi-blindly dive in.
  • Get some fruit trees going.
  • Construction: What I would like to do is construct a new chicken house, complete with roosts and a secure chick area. The chicken house we have now is tiny and not really suited in the way I want it to be (call me picky). The new house will be made of pallet wood and recycled wood as much as possible. I really want to build it myself...
  • That being said, I would also like to construct a goat shed with a kidding stall and shelter from the wind. This isn't going to be a complex thing by any means. It just needs to be built.
  • Lonnie-the-goat goes to butcher this fall.
  • I am on the fence about breeding the girls... I need to do it quick if we're going to do it.
  • We will be picking out some chicks from Tractor Supply and also hatching some of our own out here again. We will be butchering 5 or so in fall.
Sooo... yeah, that's it so far! LOL.

Menu Plan Monday: $400 grocery trip

We got our income taxes back and it was sizeable amount, so Saturday I went grocery shopping... and spent $400. Wow. It took  me hours to put away the food, I swear.

So needless to say, we have ingredients for probably every single meal you can think of. The problem is, of course, putting them all together!

Monday - Beef stew with bread and salad. I am debating on this version, which is a "baked" version made in the oven.
Tuesday - Bourbon Chicken with rice and stir-fry veggies (we LOVE this recipe)
Wednesday - Carmelized onion pork chops with baked potatoes and roasted garlic lemon broccoli
Thursday - Pasta, nummy quick garlic breadsticks, salad
Friday - Meatloaf, potatoes, salad, rolls
Saturday - I have no idea...
Sunday - Pot roast and rolls, mmmm...

This is the first week in a month or so that I have actually made a plan, and it feels good to get back in the groove!

Now I'm going to go browse the other plans at Org Junkie to see if I can fill in that Saturday gap...