Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Natural Yard Destruction

Yep. Nice title huh? Maybe it should say "Yard Destruction and those darn DUCKS!"

So by now you've guessed what this is really about. The ducks have started getting into my garden and flattening a few things, and flat out eating others. Turns out like me, they are partial to arugula. Shame that, 'cause this momma don't like to share her arugula. It's hard to grow here and when 2 ducks eat it all down to the ground in 1 day it tends to make me...twitchy.

I also found holes in the yard. It looks like someone took a small shovel and just dug it down once and left it. Irritating. Especially since it's winter and the grass isn't actively growing much if at all. So now the little holes will be there for another month until the grasses break dormancy.


These holes wouldn't be so bad if there were just a couple around the yard. But being bill shaped and about the depth and width of what a duck would create when dabbling? Grrr....all over the back yard no less. 

So I penned the ducks up and quit letting them out all weekend. Now they can just stay in their pen. It's plenty spacious enough. While I'm not heartless, confinement is typical for domesticated animals in general and certainly my yard will be healthier for it.

After 4 days of being penned up the weekend rolls around again and I decided while I was working outside I would let them have a little free time.  I usually let the chickens free range at the same time when I'm around and on the way to the chicken pen...guess what I found? MORE HOLES! 

WHA? Humph. So I let the birds out and ponder about life and the movie "Tremors." Is this a sign of giant earthworms? That someone is coming and digging up my grass? Did I really make someone that mad? No, of course not. I'm fairly non-confrontational. 

Turns out SQUIRRELS did this! Needless to say, I'm breaking out the Squirrelinator 2000 again. That suckers gonna trap me some vermin and I'm gonna...gonna...well they won't be digging in my yard anymore when I'm done. That's what I'm gonna do.

So, next time you go to blame your precious little ducky poos or the little fluffy butts in your life keep this story in mind. Maybe, just maybe they are innocent. Then again there are so many times I thought they couldn't have done something and they did. LOL

Happy Spring! The squirrels are awake. (JOY!)

See you soon!

Barbie~

Monday, February 23, 2015

FW: Harvest Monday 2.23.15





Welcome back to harvest Monday ! This weeks harvest? It consists of all sorts of itty bitty things. As I prepared for the freeze I took as much produce as I coil out of the garden. Turns out I was so busy bringing in pots and covering garden beds that I forgot to take a picture. Well, I did manage one picture. This is what is left after all 5 of is pigged out on the broccoli snap peas and greens I brought in. These few chard leaves were double and triple the size of my plates! Can you see the black plate at the top? Completely dwarfed. For all my efforts previously to grow chard none of them were very successful. This time I planted a dozen of them and I have about 4 that really put on a lot of growth. So I guess here in my area the trick is to grow a lot and thin out the plants that aren't handling the heat well.

Off to see what everyone else has harvested at Daphne's Dandelions.

See you soon!

Barbie~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brr...



I know most of you are filled with hysterical laughter at me right now. But I can't help it. I just have to complain a little. We will have a hard freeze tonight and it will be in the 20's for 5+ hours. My garden is toast. More than that the avocados pomegranate and guava are in full bloom and I already have my blueberry bushes packed with fruit. I think I shall cry myself to sleep tonight.



Hope to see fruit next month but doubtful...
Barbie

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Plans for 2015

As for the new year? I'd love to say my resolution is to blog more, or to harvest more. But, no. My resolution is to do more. To get more done towards our retirement goal.

Things are constantly in flux and I worry that the property that we intend to inhabit for our homestead will not be available to us in the long run. Also, seeing that we are trying to retire early we will not have access to the monies that we have saved in our tax deferred retirement account without paying a large penalty. We'll need a nest egg to deal with the interim years until we can start to withdraw that and also while we will need to pay for medical expenses/insurance until Medicare kicks in.

So 2014 was the year for planning and preparing, 2015 is for actively doing, 2016 & 2017 are the years for saving (more than just paying off the equipment) and hopefully 2018 will be the year for deciding and building. Of course if the right opportunities open themselves up we will be re-arranging those priorities, but for now this is the plan.

The beginning of 2015 sees us able to accomplish some major goals towards our future homestead.
We were able to secure a new tractor.





And along with it we also now have a box blade

& a bush hog.

These will go a long way when it comes to making work on the property easier for us. We are already finding it seriously handy in our normal annual chores.

We've also managed to get a diesel UTV as well. This works extremely well in tandem with the tractor and we have only had a short while but have already seen that it is a true workhorse.

We also went ahead and put in a new bedliner. This helps with clean up and with things in the back not sliding around as much. If it holds up as well as we think it will, both this and the tractor will have a 20-30 year lifespan for us at minimum.

Of course I showed everyone here the truck (also diesel) that we purchased as well. It's a dream to drive and it hauls our equipment and trailers like a breeze.


Having all these pieces using the same fuel is helpful in more ways than one. Not only do the diesel engines tend to last much longer than gasoline engines, but we can store 55gallon diesel containers with a pump that will allow us to keep enough fuel on hand to continue working on the homestead for quite a while. Not to mention not needing to keep a container for diesel, gasoline, a container for premium, one with mixed for the lawn equipment, etc. So Yippee for simplicity!

So for the next 3 years we will finish paying off these expensive toys while saving for our future.

Sounds like a good plan to me. Speaking of future on the homestead, I'm browsing some commercial nurseries to try to complete the mini orchard this year. If we are unable to do it this spring I'll look at fall and winter planting instead. So, if you know of any great places for bare root trees let me know. I'm in need of about 20-30 of them so I will be pinching pennies if I can.

I'll also begin the construction of some raised beds on the property. These beds will be for perennial plants that will be able to take care of most of their own needs. We are on site at least every other month so we will be able to fertilize but watering, etc will be minimal if at all. Good thing there is plenty of pine needles to mulch with! I'm thinking the first bed will be for the new blueberry plants. They will be ready to transplant either this fall or next spring.

ACK! I'm outta time and have to run.

See you soon!

Barbie~

Monday, February 9, 2015

Harvest Monday 2.9.15

Well, February is moving along rather quickly here.

This weeks harvests include broccoli, snap peas, some bright lights swiss chard and strawberries. Most of the produce is eaten long before I can get it inside. But, I did manage to bring these in:



I'm not the only one who likes to snack on garden goodies. I find my daughters chewing something outside rather frequently and when I ask what they are eating? The answer is always, 'Food'.

I suppose it's good that they are eating fresh, organic produce but dang if I'm not jealous if they beta me to the berries. ;-)

On top of the kids eating randomly out of the garden the ducks have finally figured out how to get in and what they like to eat. UGH. So now I'll have to figure out how to keep them out. They are very respectful of even super low fencing and it took a year for them just to climb the 6" up into the garden bed. Guess I should just thank my lucky stars that it didn't happen sooner.

That's it from my end. Been cooped up nursing sick people and the school just called for me to pick up Katie bug. Wish me luck. I sure hope it stops soon.

Linking into Daphne's Dandelions. Make sure you stop by her spot to get the 411 on what is being harvested from all different regions, and see all the regulars on Harvest Monday!

See you soon!

Barbie~

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Love is in the air.

It's February and Love is definitely in the air.

It had been an exceptionally warm winter this year. Of course now that I have committed to that you watch and we will have a freeze next week. The strawberry plants are welcoming February with their abundance and the blueberries and pomegranates are flowering. The promise of Spring is in the air.

The plants that I brought into the house in December were beginning to suffer. Our home does not get direct sunlight streaming through the windows anywhere. It's more than just kind of sad. It's not that my entire house is dark and dreary, just not all that bright. So this past weekend I decided that waiting for a freeze was kind of stupid and I drug them all back outside again. When I did that I also up potted a lot of them and refreshed their roots and growing medium. Some of them really needed it and others are just getting old and it made me feel better.

This is the love. I LOVE freshly potted (or re-potted) plants. This year I got a good assortment of brightly colored pots to use. I was tired of looking at the browns and cream colors of the neutral pots I chose eons ago to make sure they blended in well with our patio. So now not only do I have the good light-hearted feelings from helping my plants to thrive, but I also get to look at a nice pop of color here and there as well.

The renewed gardening activity is always well received by me and this combined with my girls first Daddy/Daughter dance coming up in a few days has me all kinds of happy go lucky. We are also planning our "Valentine's Date" that will include our girls and reservations to somewhere fancy. I know most people don't include their children in on their date nights, but to us this is one of those Holidays that should be spent with them. They each have their own ideas about love and how it should be represented. One silly girl will encourage us to kiss and snuggle up and the other will do her best to wedge between us and keep us form kissing. All the while giggling - simply to get our attention turned to her. SHE wants the affection. :-)

So, I thought I'd just stop by here and send along some of the love. I hope that you and yours are finding wonderful ways to say 'I Love You' too.

See you soon!

Barbie~

Monday, February 2, 2015

Harvest Monday.

2.2.15

February. At last!

February is prime strawberry time here in Florida. I celebrated with a batch of strawberry jam and since the kids got a large bag of apples I am also making some apple crisps
Can't wait to smell the house tonight when I get home.
Yum!







See you soon!

Barbie~

Monday, January 26, 2015

Harvest Monday 1.26.15

It's Harvest Monday again.

All my harvests this week were greens and broccoli that went to flower. Because it went to flowering I gave it to my feathered friends. They REALLY enjoyed it. Luckily for them there was enough for each of them to have a small head. Unfortunately for me it means I still haven't harvested any for the table.

So I will show you what is left of my sweet potato harvest. I gave a few away to a friend with diabetes, and a few to a neighbor for making slops of her own, ate a couple fresh and now I have set these out for 'curing' in the garage. Of course here the whole curing thing isn't very effective, but it helps me to keep out of the stash a few weeks so at least some of the sugars can be converted. ;-)

Turned out to be close to 20 pounds that are left. I'm happy with that. It's rather exceptional considering I'm robbing the plants throughout the summer as I need them.

Here are Baby and Swayze  after enjoying their treats from the garden... I'm really happy with the decision to keep this hen. She may be a golden but her coloring is fantastic and 50% of the female offspring will be silvers because the drake is a silver. It may be a couple years before we would be able to keep any of the babies, but I will probably let her raise a clutch in late summer if she decides to set. I will try to time it just right and order a few pullets to put under her when the ducklings hatch.


That's it. Sorry - I know my ducks aren't necessarily 'harvest' material, but I am getting an egg a day from this beauty, so I suppose it does count to a degree.

Enjoy your week. I'm counting on company soon so I'll be cleaning up the tall beds and trying to get them back in order.

See you soon!

Barbie~

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

24 weeks.

Baby turned 24 weeks just the other day.

She's really turned into a stunning Golden Welsh Harlequin.

She's not longer dependent on me, and now prefers the exclusive company of Patrick. I feel somewhat bad that she is the only hen for him, but for now it needs to stay this way. I'm on the look out for a  young Muscovy hen to keep with them, and I"d even consider a Hinny (mix of muscovy hen and mallard derived drake) as they will lay eggs and while they would not be viable, I'm not looking to expand my flock either. 

So low and behold on the day that she turned 24 weeks... Guess what I found?


Her first egg. The next day I found two more! I'm very happy about this new development as the chickens are 3 years old now and the two of them barely scrape up 5 or 6 eggs a week these days. 

I have noticed the texture of the shell is a bit silkier and the bloom is much more - well... uh - lets say thicker. You can see that even after washing these eggs (No, I don't wash them all) that some of it remains. It's kind of an unappetizing color, but that certainly won't stop me.

So, some time this week I'll be posting about their flavor and maybe even a comparison. I've heard that duck eggs are far superior for baking but eating straight it seems is personal preference.
We'll see!

See you soon!


Barbie~


Monday, January 5, 2015

Harvest Monday 1.5.15

It's 2015 now, and this is the first Harvest Monday of the year!

The last few weeks have been super busy here. I'm sure it's been busy for everyone but here the last 2 weeks of the year are crunch time. Time to fill the freezer with red meat and the pantry as well. I keep finding some good pickings out in the garden and keeping up is not even possible. So for now "m playing catch up and will get ahead again sometime in February when I start preparing for tomatoes and warm weather veggies.

This weeks harvest from the garden:



Loads of greens and some citrus.

We harvested 2 gallons of pecans. Meager pickings compared to years past. Enough for a few pecan pies and really, what more could I ask for? Also pulled the sweet potato bed up. I harvested an additional 4 gallons worth of them. Weight wise I have no idea, but my 5 gallon pail was almost filled to the top. That of course feels great after pulling what I wanted out of the bed all summer it's a pretty nice haul.

Unfortunately sweet potatoes don't cure well here so they don't get nearly as sweet. However, the good to that bad news is that they make truly fantastic chips. My mandolin and I will be good friends the next 2-3 months./ :-)


See you soon!
 Barbie~