We got more snow yesterday. Which happens here in the U.P. We got an end-of-March storm, which only gave us about 4-5 inches of snow, but it came with a little cold snap. Our maple sap collecting has gone awry because the temperatures dipped. We went to get sap the other night before the snow started, and there were little icicles from the taps into our buckets. Tomorrow is supposed to be warm enough for the sap to flow, but otherwise the next week is not supposed to get much above freezing during the day. Ideally you want temps in the 40s during the day and 20s at night for optimal sap production. When I looked at the weather, it said those temperatures should come back around April 10th. I decided to cook up what I had today – we had just over 2 gallons collected so far. We’ll still leave the buckets up for now and see what happens.
It’s officially spring, but here in the U.P. we are just starting to come out of winter. We still have a lot of snow, although this week we’ve had decent temperatures during the day (above freezing) so the snow is melting and turning driveways into mud. They freeze at night, luckily, so I was able to go to work this morning – my car wasn’t stuck in my muddy driveway. We are supposed to get a little bit of snow this week (3 inches, I heard) which is typical. Spring is usually like this.
This winter has been really hard – we lost both roosters. Big Red died in January, and The General died just a couple days ago. They both got really bad frostbite this winter – Red had it so bad his waddles got really swollen. General’s toes got it really bad. I’m not sure if they eventually both died because of frostbite complications, but it’s possible. They both seemed to recover (and be feeling better) before they died, so I’m not sure. With chickens it’s sometimes hard to tell. The frostbite came when we had a really bad cold spell in January. The ducks sometimes make it hard to keep the moisture out of the coop as well, which can contribute to frostbite in the chickens. Roosters with larger combs/waddles are really susceptible, and both of our boys had them. We are very sad about losing our roosters. Now we have 19 chickens (all hens), and three ducks.
Today we let the chickens out into the yard for the first time this year – there is actually a bit of grass/muddy driveway for them to hang out in, instead of just snow. The ducks found a big icy puddle to dabble in – they loved that. Here are a few pictures from today:
Spring is on its way, luckily. I’m glad to see this winter mostly behind us.
We’ve been harvesting tomatoes left and right. We’ve gotten a little bit of zucchini. It’s funny how you plan for the year and things just grow how they want, with no regard for your planning. Last year I was overrun with zucchini and yellow squash, so this year I grew one plant of each. They have not done well, so I’ve gotten 2 zucchini and it’s already October. With the amounts of rain we had this year (and it’s not done) the garden has been a little hit or miss for some things. Here are some newer pics of our garden:
The garden is starting to wind down a bit. We still have a lot of stuff to harvest, but most of it will be ok if we get frost. Carrots and beets are still getting larger, and I have some Kale to pick. We also have peas and beans, but I’m letting those dry on the vines. I’m hoping I get enough peas to make a little bit of pea soup. I usually don’t let them go that long (they are so yummy picked earlier) but I want to give it a try.
We’ve been up to a lot this last month – it still just keeps raining way too much, so everything tends to be sopping wet. Some veggies are finally starting to produce/ripen. I’m hoping the rains don’t hurt the harvest – I’m worried about tomatoes splitting. Oh, and we’ve also already had frost warnings – some areas near me actually had frost a week or so ago, but we lucked out at the house and didn’t get any frost. Here are some pics from the last few weeks:
Thanks for checking out our late summer pictures. Hopefully this rain will let up a bit and we’ll have a nice fall harvest.
Today I harvested my onions. The onion bed got away from me for a bit, so they were entrenched in a jungle of weeds. I went to weed tonight and realized that most of them were probably not going to grow much bigger – they didnt have much of a chance this year. I planted them and then the chickens thought the onion bed was a fantastic place to dust bathe, so I put up a makeshift fence, and then the weeds tried to take over a couple times, and then the chickens found a way in again, and I just decided better to harvest now and actually get some onions. I’ll find them a better spot next year. This is actually the first onion harvest I’ve had – I tried growing from seed last year and they didn’t really take. This year I planted sets. Here are my onions:
I am growing potatoes in chicken food bags this year. I planted 9 bags with seed potatoes, but I noticed some of the bags had fallen over. One looked really bad, the leaves on the plant were a bit yellow, so I checked to see if they were ready:
As you can see, they have some way to go before we should harvest any more. I also have potatoes growing in the strawberry patch – I had planted some there last year and I guess we did not harvest all of them. (Another reason I’m growing them in bags). I may try tubs next year, it would make it easier to add more dirt as the plants grow. The bags were a little hard to fold up higher, and if they get moved the opening can get too small to let rain in, which is what I think happened to the one bag before it fell over.
I also harvested a bunch of greens today – mustard spinach, which was a seed packet I bought for this year – it has a really mild mustard flavor; and some kale and chard. I only have a few plants of each, but I harvest the outer leaves as they are ready, and the plant keeps producing all summer. It still gives us a lot of greens.
I also found my first bloomed sunflower of the season (growing in the onion patch, of all places – a re-seed from last year’s flowers).:
We usually have a nice hollyhock patch growing next to our shed – this year I’ve let the chickens and ducks wander the yard, first because their fenced run was too wet, and then we continued because they didn’t destroy the yard like we were worried they would – we only let them when we’re home because they like to wander near the road – we need to be home to shoo them back. Anyway, they’ve messed up the hollyhocks a little. A few of the plants grew well before the chickens could get to them, but any that were low enough for them to munch on got munched. So we have about half of what we normally would. Next year I’m going to put up some kind of barrier. Here is the first bloomed hollyhock for this year:
The garden is in full swing, and we’re starting to really see the results.
I’ve noticed a lot of explosive growth of many things in the garden this last week. My tomatoes seem to have doubled in size – I have tomato cages around them but I need to tie up some of the branches. I have a bunch of cool flowers starting to bloom. I planted a mix of different kinds of zinnias all over, and some calendula and cosmos – they are starting to bloom. I love the different colors mixed in with the huge amount of lush green in the garden. My carrots and beets are sprouting now. And my weeds are getting large – this week my chores will include getting rid of a lot of them in the spaces I haven’t weeded yet. I have a ton of purslane still, even after picking some and making pickles. I bough some ranch dressing and some cucumbers and tomatoes (since my plants aren’t producing yet) and am planning on some purslane salads this week. It’s actually pretty good – we had it on tacos instead of lettuce the other day, and that was quite delicious. Some updated pictures of my growing garden are below. Enjoy!
We had a very rainy June – most of the things I had direct sowed into the garden must have drowned. They did not sprout. So I had to replant a lot of seeds – beans, carrots, beets. Since the beginning of July we’ve dried up a little bit – we are getting more sun than rain anyway, so that is helping. The garden is finally taking off. Here are some pictures:
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: