We had an extremely busy day (well, evening). First I worked all day at my job. Then I drove for an hour to meet with this lady to buy some hatching eggs! For our large hatch we are using some from our own chickens, but I saw an ad on craigslist for hatching eggs of Black Copper Marans and Olive/Easter Eggers. I went and met with her today and got a bunch of hatching eggs. She threw in some Bantam eggs. I’m not sure how that will go, since bantams are so small. Their eggs are very tiny. She said they should do fine mixed with regular sized chickens though. Here are the cool hatching eggs – you will see why I wanted them:
I got home after my egg-adventure, and the ducks, who are STILL in the house for tonight, needed a bath very badly. We are planning on getting them outside tomorrow – my hubby is off so he said he’d start getting their temporary outside housing set up, and I’ll help get them in there tomorrow when I get home. But with this bathtime, I finally got some pictures of the blow-drying ducks:
One other thing, actually kind of frustrating, that happened today – I ordered a bunch of trees and fruit plants this year (raspberries, strawberries, elderberries, etc) – I got a notice that they already shipped last week – We still have snow here, although it is supposed to warm up this week and stay warmer (fingers crossed). My plants came today. Which means I had to figure out what to do with them/get them set up. I’ve been saving milk jugs for most of the winter, so that I didn’t have to buy buckets or large pots. I plan on keeping most things in pots for a year or two, so we can keep them safe from deer and the lawn mower. Some things were dormant but most said to plant right away. Here are my new plants, all dressed up and nowhere really to go yet:
Oh, and also – an update on my test hatch. It turned out that of the last 4 eggs, 2 were duds (I candled last night finally, and they were completely empty). The other two had chicks that never came out. I opened them tonight and they were dead. I gave them till tonight to start pipping but there was nothing. So, of the actual fertile eggs, I ended up with about a 2/3 hatch success – 4 out of 6 eggs hatched. Those 4 chicks are doing very well. I cleaned and disinfected the incubator and set it to dry. I am not sure if I will start the “real” hatch tomorrow or Friday night. I will have to see how much work moving the ducks tomorrow night is.
This is my favorite time of year. I love when I can just go to the garden to pick dinner. My vegetable plants are really starting to produce for me. I had some chard and kale already this season, but the last few days my zucchini and yellow squash have started to have large enough squashes to pick. Yum. I have a lot of plants so I know I will eventually be overrun.
This year I have 5 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, and I think 4 acorn squash plants. Last year I had 3 or 4 zucchini plants, and by mid September I was very tired of zucchini. I froze what we had left and didn’t eat any for a couple months. They were very delicious in the middle of winter when I wasn’t sick of zucchini any more. This year I received a pressure canner for my birthday, so I’m planning on using that to can a lot of our harvest. I also plan on freezing some things.
I have gotten some pea pods, but not enough to do more than just eat the peas straight out of the pods. My son has been enjoying that. I worried my peas wouldn’t like the heat we’ve been having but they are doing well. Next year I will have to have more plants.
My beans have been producing well. I actually got enough from my first harvesting of them to use for a side dish for tonight’s dinner:
I started with some green bean plants, but they didn’t do very well at first. I wanted more plants, so I bought a packet of purple beans. They really took off, and I’ve been getting more purple beans so far than green. The green plants are growing taller than the purple, and I can tell they are going to produce well – there are a lot of flowers and baby beans growing along the vine where they’ve climbed up my string support system. They are even climbing one of my sunflowers. Last year I had a few bean plants, but I never got enough beans at one time to cook on their own; it was always just enough to cook up with something else. I’m hoping to can or freeze some this year – hopefully I have enough to do that.
I have a lot of green tomatoes forming. I’m growing three varieties of indeterminate tomatoes, and the plants are going crazy. I have been consistently pulling off suckers from the plants, and now because there are so many baby tomatoes, I’m pulling off extra flowers too, in an effort to let the forming tomatoes get bigger faster, and possibly ripen on the vine. I worry that they may take too long if I don’t do that – last year I had to let my tomatoes ripen in the house. Our growing season isn’t very long – we may get frost by mid September.
I’m still plugging away at the back garden bed from last year – there was a big section that I didn’t expand last year, that was still full of grass. I claimed that part from the lawn tonight by creating a lasagna garden. It’s a whole lot easier than trying to dig up all that grass.
I took my old cardboard chicken corral/brooder box from my older chicks, pulled it apart, and laid it over the grassy area, which was roughly 8-10 ft long x 3-4 ft. wide. The cardboard will kill the grass and any weeds. Then I threw a little dirt on top to hold the cardboard in place and to add some weight to it. I grabbed compost material and spread it around the whole cardboarded spot. Typically for a lasagna garden you layer different things – leaves, grass clippings, other materials you have on hand. My compost material was a big mix of leaves and chicken bedding, so I just put it as one large layer. That is as far as I got tonight; tomorrow I will add some dirt on top of the whole thing. It will then be ready for planting. Most of this section is planned for a bunch of strawberry plants I ordered – they should be here any day so I need this spot ready for it.
Some other nice pics of how things are going this spring on the mini farm: