A walk around the farm …

I took a walk around the property yesterday to see what flowers are blooming.  I took some pictures of what I found, and of some other features on our property.  I also put in some new trees today! I hope you enjoy the photos:

purple flower
These are in our yard – My mom planted them years ago, and has told me before what they are. I can’t remember the name though. These are some of my favorite flowers that come out each year. They’re like little purple fireworks.
Daisy
Here is a daisy. These grow all over the place.
Lupines
Here are some lupines. We brought a couple over to our yard from another yard years and years ago, and it must have been that a lot of other people did too. These grow everywhere now between our house and town (about 15 miles away).
Thimble Berry Flower
Here is a Thimble Berry flower. I have seen a lot (and large) flowers this year, so I’m wondering if we’re going to have a good crop. The plants are wild and grow across the street. I’ve tried to transplant them to our yard but they have not taken. Thimble Berries are delicious.
The unused plot
Here is the back view of our Across-The-street part of our property. When I was a child, my parents had goats fenced in here, but now I call it the “fern Jungle” – I’d like to reclaim it at some point, and put some more gardens and beehives in.
The hall
Here is a better view of the “hall” – our old building. It’s just an old storage building that is starting to fall in. We are planning on someday taking it down.
the homestead
A view of our house from across the street. Our property is on both sides of the road.
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And here are our new trees! We pulled them from across the street today. Some were growing behind the hall in the woods, and a few were growing right next to the hall.  They look a little sparse but I think with more room they may grow better.
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There are 6 trees – a few are spruce, and there are two that I think are Eastern Hemlock.

 

 

The garden is now planted.

I got the garden in a few days ago. It looks a bit sparse yet, but it will fill in soon. So far I haven’t lost anything I’ve planted – sometimes I have to replace a plant or two. I have extra seedlings for most things though.  I doubled my garden space from last year, but I ended up running out of room for some things I had planned on growing.  I didn’t plant any corn, or peas.  Corn doesn’t usually do too well (we get a few good ears) since we can’t grow enough to get a really decent crop – maybe that’s a project for a few years down the road – making a corn patch somewhere.   I planted 4 watermelon plants, 2 cantaloupe, and 2 pumpkin plants – so those took up a lot of the room.  I think it will be a good garden though.  Here are some pictures:

garden planning
Here is the night before I planted everything. I got my pathways ready (a bunch of cardboard strips – once weighed down they make great weed-free paths and they break down over time.
seedlings
The seedlings waiting to go in.
tomatoes
Here are the tomatoes. I put 16 plants into the garden, 8 different varieties.
tomatoes 2
Here are the tomatoes the next day – a few looked a little floppy, but a nice drink of water perked them up.
watermelons
I’m trying something new this year – these are the watermelon and cantaloupe plants. We’re using animal feed bags as weed-proofing. I cut a hole in the middle and planted each seedling there. We’ll see how this works. I saw a tip about this somewhere, probably in Mother Earth News magazine.
herbs and etc
Here are rows of herbs, cauliflower, and peppers. I started to run out of room at the end so they’re a bit cramped, but I think they’ll grow ok. It may just be a bit hard to get to them all once grown.
garden 2
Here is the planted garden. I have a lot of things I put in as seeds, such as beans, zucchini, chard, and other stuff.
planted
Another pic of the garden. It will be nice to compare this pic to one taken a few weeks from now.

I’m glad the garden is in. Now I just have to keep ahead of the weeds.

Getting the garden ready

larger garden
The newly upgraded garden space.

I’ve been planning this year’s garden for awhile, since sometime in February. Over the last few years I’ve learned some things about gardening in the U.P.  We have a shorter growing season, so I can’t plant pumpkins or other things that need 110 days, because I most likely won’t get that long.  Luckily there are a lot of shorter-season versions of those kind of vegetables out now.   I grew some smaller, shorter-season pumpkins last year.

I’ve learned that even though our last frost is (usually) in May, it’s better to wait to put things in the ground. I used to garden in southern Michigan, and I could start my garden at the beginning of May.  Here around June 10th is probably best (or after the first Full Moon in June – which is June 9th this year)  – we are well past the last frost dates, but the soil also takes awhile to warm up – a couple years ago I put things into the ground mid-may, and my plants just languished there – some wilted from the cold, some died outright, and I had a lot of replanting to do.  I’d rather just put the whole garden in once, than have to replace everything.

I doubled our garden space for this year – the last couple years I had a 10×30 bed, this year it is 20×30.  I started my seeds in early May, and have some nice seedlings that are now hardening off on the back porch. I tilled the garden yesterday – there are some grass clumps that need to get taken out, and then I’ll re-till it again before planting, which will happen next weekend.

seedlings
Some of my seedlings. I also have a bunch of tomatoes and peppers.

I have three flats of seedlings, and I am making seed tapes for small seeds like carrots, using newspaper.  I cut strips of newspaper and then used a water/flour paste to glue seeds at the correct interval – I can lay the tapes down, cover with a bit of dirt, and then the seeds won’t migrate.  I won’t have to thin them either. I also have a bunch of stuff that I will be seeding directly into the garden, like corn and beans.

I’m excited for this year’s garden.

Ducks in the woods

We’ve had a lot of rain (with snow intermixed here and there).  Today was a nice day, so we let the chickens and ducks out of their run.  Our yard and the surrounding woods are made up of some rolling terrain – we have some lower spots that have recently filled with water because of the large amounts of rain we’ve had.   The ducks found one of these spots (and I swear they made it a little larger with all their dabbling).  Here are some shots of them enjoying their temporary pond in the woods:

duck created pond
Here is a muddy spot that leads from the yard to the puddle/pond they were enjoying.
duck prints in mud
Here are duck-prints in the mud.
ducks 1
Enjoying the pond.
duck pond 2
As you can see the low spot / pond is quite large.
ducks 2
I wonder what they’re eating – probably worms.
daffodils
Here are the daffodils that were right next to the duck’s pond.

A nice spring evening. The ducks really enjoyed it, and so did we.

 

 

Late April in the U.P.

We had a wonderful warm day yesterday. Our temps here got to about 67 degrees F. It was nice and sunny, so I let the chickens out of their yard for the day – we have had rain for the last week until 2 days ago, so their run is really muddy.  I wanted to give them a chance to hang out in some grass. They really enjoyed it.  So did we. We got some of our yard work completed too. Here are some pictures of our nice day yesterday.

yard chickens
Here are the chickens and ducks enjoying the sunshine.
yard ducks
The ducks sunbathing.
sunshine roos
Our rooster Big Red watching over everyone.
rasp trellis 1
My raspberry plants were a (very spiky) mess. I had some old scaffolding laying around, so I created a support system. The fencing on the ground is protecting my strawberries from dustbathing chickens – they think my garden beds are great dust baths.
rasp trellis 2
Here is a closer view of the new raspberry support system. Hopefully I’ll get some yummy berries this year.
potatos
I’m growing potatoes in old feed bags. Here they are. I’m trying this out, we’ll see how it works.
onion patch
This is my onion patch. I planted it last week when we had a break in the rain. It’s hard to tell from this picture but they’re growing pretty well so far. Again the fence is to keep the chickens off for the day. I only put it down when the chickens are out of their run.
baby bunnies
Here are two of our 3 baby bunnies, they are starting to eat their mom’s food instead of just her milk.
wild leeks
We picked wild leeks (ramps) yesterday! I made a really good omelet for dinner with them.

We had a wonderful day outside yesterday, prepping for today when the weather was  supposed to be cold and rainy.  Instead we woke up to:

 

 

 

this morning
blegh.
today 2
more blegh.
today 3
It looks pretty, but it’s April 23rd. This is the U.P. though.

It’ll melt today or tomorrow, and then we’ll wait for our next sunny day. Spring is trying to be here. It just has some days off, I guess.

A Beautiful Spring Day!

After a pretty schizophrenic winter, spring appears to finally be here.  We had big melts in January and February this winter, but I’m hoping the nice weather will stick this time.  This is the U.P., so it’s very likely we will get some snow again, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.  The last few days were kind of crummy – cold and rainy. But today it was finally sunny, and in the low 50s. We got some things done outside, and the animals enjoyed the sunshine.

snow remains
Our chicken coop – you can see our snowbanks are still here. Our yard is pretty much a mix of snow and muck right now. The sun should dry it out.
collecting sap
It’s Maple Syrup gathering time! There have been some weeks this winter where I heard others were tapping, but March is the correct month – when nights are below freezing but days are warmer.  I tapped them today and the sap is really running well.
tap in the tree
You can kind of see the drip of sap getting ready to fall into the bucket here.
daffodils
The ground thinks it’s really spring as well – the daffodils are coming up!
crocus
Baby crocuses are coming up too!
big red
The chickens and ducks enjoyed the sunshine today – here’s our rooster Big Red.
general and hens
Here is The General, our other rooster.
chickens in the mud
The hens enjoying the sun. You can see the muddy ground here – there is a layer of mud on top of ice – the ground has not thawed yet.  Once it does the ground will dry out a little easier.
atat outside
Atat enjoying the sunshine.  At least that part of the yard is just dead grass, not mud.

I’m hoping spring weather sticks around for awhile.

 

Oodles and oodles of eggs

We are now getting tons of eggs.  With winter we are somewhat over-run. We are currently getting at least 15-20 chicken eggs a day from our 35 hens. That doesn’t count the 5-6 duck eggs per day we get from the 6 ducks. In the fall we started selling the eggs at the local farmers’ market, but that only runs June-October.  So for now, I sell what I can but we still have a LOT. So we eat a lot of eggs.  The chickens are possibly laying less because it’s wintertime – in the spring their production may even go up.  But the eggs are very pretty – we get all sorts of shades of browns, some almost pinks, some white eggs, and varying shades of greens.  Here are some cool pictures of the eggs:

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A ring of eggs.
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The various shades of brown, from dark to white.
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Here are the green eggs – they come in khaki, and light green, and someone even lays khaki with dark spots.
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Various shades all together.

Hen Hospital

We were out feeding the chickens tonight, and realized one of our hens has a wound on her back. She is now in our makeshift “hen hospital.”

hen-in-a-box
The hen when we first brought her inside, until we could figure out what to do with her for the night. You can see how she’s missing lots of feathers, even on her head.

She’s one of my Production Red hens from our first batch of chickens, so she’s almost 3 years old.  She has historically been one of the roosters’ favorites, so she tends to look a bit beat up, missing feathers from too much male attention.  She happens to be molting right now, so with the roosters jumping on her, she developed a sore on her back, and then someone else started pecking at it.  Chickens have a habit of pecking at anything that is red, which isn’t good if someone has a wound.  I just noticed the sore tonight, and it looked really bad, so I figured we would take her in at least to clean it up.  After taking a better look I decided we will keep her in for a few days to let her heal up and rest for a bit.

ouch-and-molting
Here you can see her back – she’s missing a lot of feathers, both from molting and from the rooster attention she gets.
sore
Here is a closer view of the sore before I cleaned it. It was pretty deep so I cleaned it with water, then used some hydrogen peroxide and then put on some antibiotic ointment.
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I put her in an old indoor rabbit cage, in my art room so that the dogs won’t bother her. Our cat Wizard has been visiting her though, but he’s pretty much the same size as she is.
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Another view of her in the cage.
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A view from above.

I’ll let her stay in for a few days, at least until she heals up. Then she’ll get to wear a chicken apron if it doesn’t seem to hurt her – sometimes with the molt it hurts them to wear one, or be touched at all.  An apron will prevent the roosters from digging their claws into her back. She is a little small for the aprons I have, so I may have to resize one to fit her.

 

 

Wintertime in the snow

We’ve been really busy this winter with the holidays and other stuff, so I haven’t had a chance to post anything in a while.  We’re in the middle of a typical U.P. Snowy winter.  We get a lot of lake effect snow from Lake Superior.  Here are some pictures of the past several weeks.

front-yard-storm
The view from our front porch during a blizzard a few weeks ago.
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Here are our cars during that same blizzard.
finch-on-a-flower-stalk
My husband took this picture of a finch, hanging onto a old evening primrose stalk.
overhanging-snow-curtain
We have a metal roof. When we have warm-ups, we get curtains like this hanging down. We were wondering how long these would get – they didn’t get much longer than this before breaking.
overhanging-snow-curtain-feeder
Our bird feeder next to a snow-curtain. This did not deter the birds from coming to eat.
snowy-trees
Here are our apple trees covered in snow.

As fall turns to winter…

We had a pretty mild autumn this year.  When I was growing up here, we were lucky if we didn’t have to wear snow suits under our Halloween costumes.  Snow has come later the last couple of years.  We finally got a couple inches the other night, the weekend before Thanksgiving.  For most of my chickens, and the ducks, this is their first time seeing snow. The chickens are not very excited about it – the ducks seem to like it a little. I think they will enjoy it more when it’s deeper – we really only got a dusting.

We’ve had a busy fall – we are now down to 41 chickens, and 6 ducks.  We took out 6 roosters a few weeks ago, and now we still have 6 remaining roosters.  There are a couple on the short-list for freezer camp, but we may wait till spring to take them out.  Below are some pictures of what our fall looked like, and of our new snow.

last-week
Here was our driveway a couple of weeks back.
today
Here is what our yard looks like now.
today-2
Here is the back yard. We didn’t get much snow, but it’s enough to say Wintertime is here.
hekyl-and-fluffbutt
Two of our roosters, Fluff-butt and Hekyll.
ducks-in-snow
The ducks – they weren’t sure what to make of the snow, but they seem to be enjoying hanging out there.
hiding-in-the-coop
Most of the chickens are staying in the coop – they seem confused by the snow.