Late August around the farm

We’ve been very busy this month. I had family in town for a week or so, and we just have had a lot going on.  Here are some pics of what we’ve been up to:

carrots and beets
My carrots and beets. I picked all the carrots, may plant more and see if I can get them before we freeze. (Carrots that go through a freeze are sweeter anyway). I still have some beets to pick. This is the best carrot crop I’ve ever gotten (the most I have had at once) so I’m happy.
lots of eggs
Lots of eggs! Our ducks are laying – we have 7 females, and they almost are laying better than our chickens. The eggs on the left (blue/white) are all duck eggs. The ones on the right are chicken eggs.
duck butt egg
Some of the ducks are laying like 2 eggs a day. We find the regular, hard-shelled ones, and then strange soft shelled things. We found this butt-shaped egg. It was very soft, but I still would not have wanted to be that duck, trying to get that thing out.
newt
Here is a newt my son found one day.
roma
I’m getting some ripened tomatoes now. Yum! Here are some romas.
pumpkins
Our tiny pumpkins. These are “Wee-be little” – I did not realize they would be THIS small, but they are very cute. First success I’ve had with pumpkins.
tiny olive egg
We are starting, in the last couple of days, to get eggs from some of our olive/easter egger hens that I hatched from the hatching eggs I bought. We’ve gotten a smallish olive-tinted egg each day for the last few days, and today we got 2. Here is the first one we got, next to a white egg from an older hen.
watermelon sling
I have this watermelon growing, I was worried about it falling off the vine, so I made it a sling. If they come unattached they won’t keep ripening. It’s about the size of a large grapefruit now.
daniel corn
The ears on my son’s corn plants are getting big. He only has about 6-7 plants, but he should get enough corn to make him happy.
sunflowers
My sunflowers. These are the first two to bloom.

Super busy day!

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:

new eggs
See how dark brown the Maran eggs are? The larger carton is not full.  You can see the small whitish eggs are VERY small – those are the bantam eggs. She labeled the eggs- I guess the marans have two varieties. Some with feathered legs, and some without.
new eggs 2
This top carton has the olive egger and easter egger eggs.  Easter eggers (usually Auracauna chickens) can lay blue or green eggs. If you cross them with a maran, the next generation will lay dark olive eggs. You can see some of these eggs are more green than blue.

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:

fluffy ducks
Look how massive they are – we’ve had them 3 weeks now. They are the size of full grown chickens, I swear. They are getting most of their feathers and starting to sometimes quack.
fluffy ducks 4
Ducks getting blow dried, and preening while they dry off. I keep telling them, while blow drying, that this is how we get fluffy eggs. 
fluff ducks 2
Another duck picture.

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:

trees
Larger trees in milk jugs.
more plants
Poppies (on the right) and a peony on the left – I got the peony for free. I will leave them in pots till I know it’s safe to put them outside. I got a bunch of bareroot strawberry plants too – just behind the pots in this picture. I think I will put them out this weekend and cover them with mulch to keep them safe. If the snow melts off my strawberry patch, that is.
gnarled filbert
Here is my “Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick” – also called a Gnarled Filbert. I’m very excited to have one of these. They are really cool trees, with gnarled branches.

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.

The harvest season begins

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.

squash
Yellow squash and zucchini, waiting to be sliced. I sauteed these two up with some onion. These were about 6 inches long each (the cutting board under them is very tiny, in case it makes these look gigantic).

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:

Yummy beans.
Yummy beans.

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.

It’s an exciting time of year.

What’s happening in our yard – June photo tour

Lupines - we have these growing near our mailbox, and they are growing across the street as well. When I was a kid, there were some at only one tiny spot in the area I live in. Now they are in ditches along the road all over the place.
Lupines – we have these growing near our mailbox, and they are growing across the street as well. When I was a kid, there were some at only one tiny spot in the area I live in. Now they are in ditches along the road all over the place.
Here's a new flower - I don't remember these from last year.  I don't know what it is but it's pretty.
Here’s a new flower – I don’t remember these from last year. I don’t know what it is but it’s pretty.
A purple flower. It reminds me of a balloon flower (maybe that is what this is.)
A purple flower. It reminds me of a balloon flower (maybe that is what this is.)
Our pink peonies. My parents planted these years ago and they are still going strong.
Our pink peonies. My parents planted these years ago and they are still going strong.
These barrels are on our porch. Last year I tried to grow beets and carrots here, and nasturtiums. The Nasturtiums did ok, but my son found out they were edible and kept eating them. I planted a bunch of different flowers in them this year, along with some herbs.
These barrels are on our porch. Last year I tried to grow beets and carrots here, and nasturtiums. The Nasturtiums did ok, but my son found out they were edible and kept eating them. I planted a bunch of different flowers in them this year, along with some herbs.
Here are some more barrels, just off our porch. My mom planted lilies in them, and they've slowly stopped producing. We got one nice lily last year. I divided them and put them in only one barrel (the right one here) and the left barrel has other flowers.  Echinacea and black eyed susan and others.
Here are some more barrels, just off our porch. My mom planted lilies in them, and they’ve slowly stopped producing. We got one nice lily last year. I divided them and put the big bulbs in only one barrel (the right one here) – there is also a yarrow growing in it;  the left barrel has other flowers: Echinacea and black eyed susan and others.
Here is some lemon balm growing in one of the barrels on the porch. It smells so good.
Here is some lemon balm growing in one of the barrels on the porch. It smells so good.
Here is our back yard. The leaves have filled out on the trees.
Here is our back yard. The leaves have filled out on the trees.
Our side yard with the rose bush. The roses are blooming now.  At the nearest post, I have a wisteria planted. It's about 5 inches tall, and doing well.
Our side yard with the rose bush. The roses are blooming now. At the nearest post, I have a wisteria planted. It’s about 5 inches tall, and doing well. It’s inside the little round cage you can see at the base of the post. I don’t know if deer eat wisteria, and don’t want to chance it.
Some pretty flowers along our house. Wild Daisies and some kind of yellow flower - not sure if that was planted or if it's wild.
Some pretty flowers along our house. Wild Daisies and some kind of yellow flower – not sure if that was planted or if it’s wild. The white/green variegated leaf plants are “snow on the mountain” – they have taken over a lot of the flower beds and we are trying to eradicate it.  It’s even growing at the edge of the woods now in spots.
Here is my son's tiny garden.  He wanted his own space, so I gave him some seedlings to plant.
Here is my son’s tiny garden. He wanted his own space, so I gave him some seedlings to plant. He’s got tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and flowers. And Mint.  He’s excited about the mint because he can eat it right from the garden.
Here are my chickens in their muddy nasty run. I'm going to have to fix that, possibly sooner than I was planning. It's driving me bananas.
Here are my chickens in their muddy nasty run. I’m going to have to fix that, possibly sooner than I was planning. It’s driving me bananas.
Hello! Here is one of my Brahma chicks.
Hello! Here is one of my Brahma chicks.
This is my tiny rooster. As he is growing, his comb is getting wonkier. The back portion is attached to his head off-center, which adds even more to the floppiness of it.  He's been really mean to the other chicks lately.  Maybe they make fun of his goofy comb.
This is my tiny rooster. As he is growing, his comb is getting wonkier. The back portion is attached to his head off-center, which adds even more to the floppiness of it. He’s been really mean to the other chicks lately. Maybe they make fun of his goofy comb.
Here is my white brahma, which I actually think is a "Splash Brahma" - I love his/her coloring.
Here is my white brahma, which I actually think is a “Splash Brahma” – I love his/her coloring.
Here's one of the blue spruce I planted this spring. It's about 5 inches tall. It's going to take a really, really, really long time to get as big as I want it - I have it in the front yard as a screen to give us privacy.  It's not doing its job very well. Someday...
Here’s one of the blue spruce I planted this spring. It’s about 5 inches tall. It’s going to take a really, really, really long time to get as big as I want it – I have it in the front yard as a screen to give us privacy. It’s not doing its job very well. Someday…
Here is one of my elderberry trees. I have two (you need two to get fruit so they can cross pollinate).  I have put this near my blue spruce so that I actually get the screen I want in a more timely fashion.
Here is one of my elderberry trees. I have two (you need two to get fruit so they can cross pollinate). I have put this near my blue spruce so that I actually get the screen I want in a more timely fashion. These are fast-growing.
Here are some of the remaining forget-me-nots.  We had tons of these earlier in the year, as splashes of blue all around the woods and the edges of the yard. When I was a child, these only were growing at a camp two houses behind our house. (We have two camps behind us, it was at the back one.)  I moved back and discovered they grow all over our yard now. I love them.
Here are some of the remaining forget-me-nots. We had tons of these earlier in the year, as splashes of blue all around the woods and the edges of the yard. When I was a child, these only were growing at a camp two houses behind our house.  I moved back and discovered they grow all over our yard now.
Here is a giant mullein plant growing in our supposed-to-be asparagus patch.  Mullein is a great medicinal plant so I'm letting it stay. This thing is about 3 feet tall right now. The big leaves are 1 ft long.
Here is a giant mullein plant growing in our supposed-to-be asparagus patch. Mullein is a great medicinal plant so I’m letting it stay. This thing is about 3 feet tall right now. The big leaves are 1 ft long.

I hope you enjoyed my photo tour. I like my yard, and watching the changes it goes through during the warm months.

Strawberry bed

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.

Long view of the new lasagna area - you can see the area beyond it that I worked on last night (see my last post - Heavy Lifting).
Long view of the new lasagna area with compost on top – you can see the area beyond it that I worked on last night (for info on that, see my last post – Heavy Lifting).
Here's the short view of the lasagna garden, where it comes all the way to the edge of the house.  Now it's a big rectangle behind our house so my fence will be able to be a lot neater-shaped this year.
Here’s the short view of the lasagna garden, where it comes all the way to the edge of the house. Now it’s a big rectangle behind our house so my fence will be able to be a lot neater-shaped this year.

Some other nice pics of how things are going this spring on the mini farm:

Our cherry tree is in bloom.
Our cherry tree is in bloom.
Shot of our chicken coop across the back yard, shot from beyond the cherry tree near the tire swing.
Shot of our chicken coop across the back yard, shot from beyond the cherry tree near the tire swing.
The messy tarp area in this picture is going to be my new bed.  I'm attempting to kill the grass, but I may have to lasagna this bed too.  I was trying to kill the grass instead because I don't know where I will get enough dirt to cover this space.  We'll see.
The messy tarp area in this picture is going to be my new larger garden bed. I’m attempting to kill the grass, but I may have to lasagna this bed too. I was trying to kill the grass instead because I don’t know where I will get enough dirt to cover this space. We’ll see. The fenced in area here is our dog pen.