Archive for Tasha Raymond

Quick Little Update

This year has been a bit of a chaotic one, but in a good way. We started off our growing season with the massive project of re-doing the fencing around both of the gardens. Originally it was a mess of pulp-wood posts and hodge-podged fencing that was constantly falling in due to snow load and getting pushes out of place by the groundhogs. Brand new cedar posts and welded wire fencing fixed that. We now have a fence secure enough that we can use it as a trellis and actually did use it as a make-shift clothesline while ours needed to be replaced.

The garden itself has preformed admirably thus far! We’re up to 7 quarts of snap beans in the freezer, a batch of salsa, sauce, and ketchup from our own tomatoes, enough zucchini for stir-fries and a few loaves of zucchini bread for the freezer, roughly 80lbs of potatoes from the 12lbs that went in, and more than enough fresh produce to have kept our bellies happy over the course of late-summer. I did purchase “ugly seconds” tomatoes from a local farm to make additional pasta sauce and salsa with. I also found a wicked deal on cucumbers (40 lbs for $25) to stock the shelves with pickles and relishes.

On top of what our own garden has been producing and the deals I’ve found via local farms, blueberry and strawberry picking season was also I huge success as this year we weren’t impeded by the hunt for a new vehicle in the midst of it all. Up next is apple picking season, which has just started, and then what I hope will be an annual trip for a trunk full of pumpkins.

Chicken wise, the basement chest freezer is half full of poultry. We have enough for at least one roasted chicken a month, and given that each bird provides a week’s worth of meals for the four of us, I’m more than happy with that!

In another month, however, we’ll have to make a decision as to which of the new six roosters to keep over winter as an assistant to Greenleaf, our head rooster. We have a couple young cocks we’re keeping an eye on, so we might end up with two. As long as the fox doesn’t snag any more birds, we’ll also have five new hens to add into the flock for the winter. We lost seven hens total this year – five to the fox, two to illness – which is higher than most years, but still fit within the 25% margin that we try to work with. (We always try to keep a flock 25% larger than we absolutely need so that when losses do occur, and they will, it’s not such a blow.)

Schemes and dreams are already in the works for next growing season as we’re currently ahead on firewood and has reserved energy from not having to stress about that. I’ll post more in the future about our goals for next spring, but right now I’ll say that we might be working out a farmstand here at the homestead to bring in a little extra and we might be adding a porcine or two for meat raising. While next year remains simmering on the backburner, the fall garden is slowly filling in, a new placement for the blueberry bushes and irrigation for said plants is in the works, and garlic cloves are waiting impatiently to be planted.

Alice

Homesteading is all about decisions. What to grow, who to eat, how to provide, why do something a certain way, and when do you call it a day.

As much as I would love to say that these decisions are easy, many of them are not, especially when it comes to the animals on the homestead. In the picture above is our White Lady, Alice by name. She is a Leghorn/Aracuana mix who is sneaking up on five years old. Alice has had a rough life. She was stolen by neighbourhood hooligans and brought back by their sisters. She has been eggbound previously. She lost her sister to a coyote attack.

Unfortunately, age and life seem to be sneaking up on her. She has stopped laying entirely. At first we thought maybe Alice was eggbound, as that’s been an issue for her before. When a hen is eggbound everything slows to a stop – eating, defecating, and laying. The egg does what the name of the issue says: it binds everything up. If not caught, it is fatal. Some hens can have repetitious issues with eggbinding and then the homesteader needs to make the decision to cull or not. Alice is not eggbound. We’ve checked that and it’s not the culprit to her illness.

Neither does it seems to be respiratory nor diet.

No lash eggs have been found in the coop, either.

So….what to do? Without a clean cut diagnosis, there are only two options. We can either cull poor Alice or hospice her to the end. We’ve never had to cull a chicken from our flock as nature and predators normally do it for us, and I’ll be honest and say I hope that ends up being the case here. For the meanwhile, we’ll hospice Alice. She’ll continue to roam and room with her flock as we keep an extra sharp eye on her.

Everything old is new again…almost.

Perhaps our biggest goal this year is replacing both gardens. What fence there is started as pulpwood loss cut in half and two inch poultry netting stapled to that. As we ended up with increasingly daring chickens and determined deer, the height of the fence increased in a very hodge-podged manner. Wooded fence posts, branches, yarn, and scraps of extra poultry netting were added in an attempt to keep out critters. Wood cribbing was placed along one side to keep out the groundhog.

The hodge-podge fence has worked for six seasons, but as we stare down the barrel of become a two-income homestead, we’re looking at projects that will save us time and make life easier. A more properly done fence, with removable gates, means a substantially smaller amount of time spent doing spring repairs. It also means a garden set up so that the kids can actually coffee in and help.

For materials, well, we lucked out. One of Hubster’s co-workers isgiving us a dream of a deal on cedar posts, including delivery. We’ll be going with welded wire fencing. I’ll be making removable 3′ wide panel gates – wide enough to get a wheelbarrow through comfortably.

To prep for the fencing, the first step is obviously to remove the old. The process started last night and I removed all of the larger garden. We kept as many pulpwood pieces up that would remain standing so that we have hole markers. I’m planning on tackling the smaller garden today.

The Bluebarb Patch

Roughly three years ago we used the money we got from selling an old chicken coop to pick up five blueberry plants. I planted them in a horseshoe around the antenna and planted rhubarb between them. The flower bed beneath the antenna is home to daylilies, tulips, and chive, making the little area a cute spot to sit and enjoy. Unfortunately the chickens have stripped the plants of foliage and mulch every year.

I’ve had it. I demand blueberries from my plants. This year we’ve decided to put up a temporary fence. The green garden fencing is new, but the posts are reused from another garden bed, one which will be seeing new fencing this year.

All the plants – rhubarb and blueberries alike – were treated with 3-4″ of aged chicken compost. The blueberries also recieved about 4-6″ of pine mulch. I’m hoping, between the mulching and fencing, we’ll finally see something from our bushes. There’s still some cleaning up to do, and I doubt the little flower bed will get much attention this year, but it’s a start!

The kicker is that I’ll have a poop-free spot to sut abd read this summer.

Missing a chicken? Check everywhere!

Last night, when Hubster went to count chickens, he only counted 23. I went out to do a double count – standard practice when one is missing – and sure enough, Wafflette was no where to be found. We did a precursory look, but had to tend to another chicken’s injured toe.

While we were bummed that one of the hens might have become fox fodder, we knew there was a chance that she might have headed out somewhere to brood up. For the time being, I wrote her in the ledger as deceased.

This afternoon, I stepped out to collect eggs. Waking towards the barn, I saw a junked tote that I had set aside to bring to recycling. It had been flipped upside down.

“Might as well snag it to load up singe stuff from the basement for a dump troll this weekend.”

Imagine my surprise when I listed the thing up to find none other than Wafflette and two eggs! She looked up at me, stretched a wing, and then walked off for a drink like nothing had happened.

I’m starting to think she rather enjoyed her night of solitude.