Friday, March 27, 2015

Cleaning up inside and out, without Cinderella to help

I finally got outside today around 2PM.  It was cold and windy, but it didn't matter because I went to the hoophouse.  I dragged three more loads of garden soil out (the kids' sleds are great for this even tho' the snow is gone).  Then I prepped another block, and planted it with golden purslane (last year's seed), joker crisphead lettuce, magenta spreen (fancy name for the weed known as lambsquarters - everyone here thinks its a great spinach substitute), shogoin turnip, rainbow radish pk, purple dragon carrots, hybrid spinach, white icicle radish (my fave), flashy troutsback lettuce, wrinkled crinkled cress, watermelon radish, and merlot lettuce.  Then I watered everything (I'm working out carrying 5 gallon buckets of water out there).  After that, I went outside (the sun had started to shine and the sky had cleared) and pulled brush that had grown up on the north side of the hoophouse around the beehives last year.  The bees weren't out (too cold), so I could get right next to the hives without disturbing them.  I made a big pile of the stuff I pulled.  Then I wandered around the fruit trees determining what needs to pruned this weekend.  I'd like to do it tomorrow, but the Princess has been badgering me all week long to take her to see Cinderella, and I suppose I shall.  Unless she mentions it one more time, in which case we won't go til Sunday, and I'll get the pruning done beforehand.

Monday, March 23, 2015

3/23 Hoophouse Plantings, etc

Today saw another block planted in the hoophouse, along with more cleaning.  The bin of fig branches is almost full.  These will be used to start fires in the woodstove next fall.  The second block of sowing is done.  It included green meat daikon, four seasons lettuce, miners' lettuce, hybrid spinach (a free packet from Vermont Bean Co leftover from last year), garden purslane (yes, I am really intentionally planting that weed in my garden), vit, and dragon's tongue arugula (last year's seeds, because I loved it so much).  I have two more lettuces and some golden purslane to go in the hoophouse this week.  Then I have to get the indoor stuff started.  Somewhere.  I don't know where.  The bathroom I would ordinarily use is the one that is in the process of being ripped out, and is therefore unavailable.  Everywhere else is cat country, which won't work.  Except my bedroom, and I can just imagine how well that will go over with El Jefe... I don't think I could sleep with plant lights on, either, actually.  But it's more fun to blame it on him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hoophouse work

Today saw five bags of dirt added to  the raised beds in the hoophouse.  I also realized just how much MORE dirt I need to add.  I think it will wait until I've planted the topped off sections, and by then I hope the ground will have dried enough to use the tractor to transport aged horse manure from next door instead.  Dirt is heavy when you have to walk it in bag by bag.  Anyway, I also planted one section with arugula, radishes (rainbow mix, zlata, and white icicle), kale (a test to see how it does in  the hoophouse, 3 types - dwarf blue, a hybrid whose name escapes me, and a wild mix), lettuce (avicenna), and two rows of purple dragon carrots.  I'll plant another section of the same things in two weeks.  I also screwed up and dug up a section of garlic I planted last fall, because I couldn't find the book where I wrote down what I planted where, and of course I forgot about doing this until I dug it up.  Sigh.  I replanted it,  along with some topset onions. 

I didn't get as much done as I wanted because I had to build a fire in Pet Graveyard, in order to thaw the ground enough to dig a hole for Turq, so my youngest daughter would not be scarred for life over the lack of ceremony for the burial of her favorite rooster.  Yes, really.

Friday, March 13, 2015

More signs of Spring!

The ducks are laying again, which is good, since we don't have as many chicken eggs as usual to eat, because we saved all the eggs from this week to put in the incubator, in the hopes that we'd hatch  a few that are our late Turq the Rooster's get.  He died last Saturday of unknown causes (found dead without a mark on him underneath the ramp into the chicken coop.  This was distressing to all of us, because he was THE BEST ROOSTER we've ever had in terms of NOT attacking people, and NOT being too hard on the ladies (no bald spots or bloodied combs), and he was beautiful.  A blue laced red Wyandotte.  I'll have to find a pic to post.  Anyway, I tried to add BLR Wyandottes to my Murray McMurray order, but they were already sold out.  So, I added just one Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster to the order, and we will hope that he works out.  If not, I'll keep the gender-confused Partridge Cochin Roo(?) around a little longer.  He doesn't crow.  Ever.  He sits on eggs.  And pecks at you if you try to take them away.  But he mounts hens, too.  And he looks like a roo.  I don't want Cochin chicks tho'.  Last year, I ordered one Cochin hen, hoping for a decent setter, and s/he's what we got.  Cochins don't lay as well as Rocks and Wyandottes, and they grow slower and don't do as well free range, so I'm not interested in perpetuating his line.  I just wanted a setter that didn't mind the nasty winters here.  The kids named him Red Queen, back when we thought he was a she.  That just strikes me as funny.

And the whole point of this was... I have duck eggs again, and in 3 weeks, maybe I'll have chicks.  But I hope not too many, because chicks in April were NOT in my plans this year.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Being perpetually short of cash due to all the issues with The Hovel (Cookstove House's new name), we have made arrangements to have some of the Black Walnut trees logged out.  This is very selective, since they aren't taking any other type of tree, nor are they taking all the Black Walnuts.  But it still bums we out, because I would have like to use that wood myself.  Not that I will have time to build any furniture in the next decade, but whatever, that's just my greedy kneejerk reaction.  Anyway, the trees are going to pay for the floor in the pole barn, and the crushed asphalt we need for the driveway, and the difference between what we owe in taxes and what we saved to pay the taxes.  Then we will need to figure out how to pay to have electric in the pole barn.  THEN we can start working on The Hovel, hopefully before the floor under the cookstove caves in.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring has Sprung

Spring has arrived here, by my unofficial calendar, which dates Spring to the first day it is warm enough for me to feed the bees.  This afternoon,  I assembled the spacers that go above the top deep and below the covers (in order to make room for the feed patties and the bees together).  Then I went out to the hoophouse (which felt like 80 degrees inside - it is 47 outside right now according to the computer, but I though it felt warmer, and the bees were flying everywhere, which usually means it is over 50).  Anyway, I cut the patties into 5 strips each that would fit on top of the frames and still leave the bees space to get up and by.  Then I went out to the hive #1, popped the lid, realized I needed to remove the paper from one side of the strips (sigh), did that, placed them on the frames, put the spacer on, and put the covers back down.  Then I went back into the hoophouse to remove the paper from the other strips before popping hive #2, since I wanted to have the covers off for as short a time as possible.  Same procedure otherwise.  Hive #2 has more bees, but also has made exit holes in both rear corners of the hive, instead of using the front (WTH?  Backdoor bees?  Sounds like the name of a band...)  I was glad I bothered to wear a veil, since they were a bit frisky and I dislike when they get trapped in my hair.  Now I am back to the hoophouse to dig in the dirt and get things ready to sow seeds this weekend.  BECAUSE IT'S SPRING!