Hey folks. Sorry for this long-delayed post. Things at work (aka my full time job away from the homestead) have kept me pretty darned busy. But, I'm back and I just can't wait to tell you how the bee installation went on Monday!
Not really. My middle name is Brooks- same as my Grandfather, who is named after a famous clergyman, Phillips Brooks. Interesting because my Grandfather became an ordained minister and is famous in his own right...but I digress.
I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are so close to finishing our guest bedroom and, while we could have finished this months ago (like I had planned), we're just now getting to a point where we're ready to dig in and finish it up. Rainy weather can do that to you.
At this point the only things left to do are:
Install new light fixture
Put up trim
Finish closet (paint, curtain rod, shelves)
Finish floor (just one little section that used to be hallway)
Hang the wooden blinds and buy/hang some drapes
I'm pretty sure we could get this all finished in a weekend. We shall see. I may get ambitious and start painting tonight which would give us more time to paint/put up all the trim over the next couple of days. Ooohhhh and I just remembered that I am taking Monday off (so I can pick up our bees first thing in the morning) so there is one more day that we'll be able to work on the room. Oh man, now I AM excited! Keep your fingers crossed, folks! Hoping to have some stunning before and after shots for you soon!! Yippy!
Alrighty folks. I'm sick of waiting, so I'm getting to it. We're getting the garden ready.
Before I can start planting we need to be sure our beds are ready. Last year we did the narrow rows as is so often seen in vegetable gardens, but they didn't do well at all. Now, as I said before, I'm no green thumb gardener so I can't blame it entirely on the width of the rows but I'm sure it didn't help. So this year we're trying out the methods in Ed Smith's Vegetable Gardener's Bible with the wide rows and raised/deep beds. Personally, when I think of raised beds I always envision lovely little wooden boxes filled with a garden. Well, we're too cheap to buy wood for our raised beds so we're going to just pile up the soil and call it good.
After all the beds are created I'll go through each one with a garden fork to aerate the soil a bit. This is the non-tilling option that is supposed to be much more soil-friendly. I'm excited, once these beds are created we could just leave them for the long haul, each year adding more organic matter and compost to enrich the soil. As for the walkways, I'm planning on laying down a few layers of newspaper and then covering them in a bit of straw to block out weeds.
Now if only I had a broadfork...
So yesterday I mentioned that I was getting 'itchy' about the garden. Well, today I'd like to talk about a different kind of itchy-ness.
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I am very sensitive to poison ivy. Unfortunately for me, I love kayaking and bringing our dogs down to the river across the road from our house and (as I'm sure you are aware) poison ivy just loves river banks. It is way too early for poison ivy to be growing right now so Kyle and I happily paraded the pups down for an afternoon swim last weekend. So, on Sunday, when I found an itchy red bump on my ankle my first thought was that it was a bug bite. Monday I awoke to more of the little red blisters on my neck, Tuesday I had a small patch next to my nose, and by Wednesday the bumps on my neck were spreading up onto my chin. Lets just say that by Thursday I was throwing everything in the wash from my pillowcase to my jacket.
(Enlarged photo of lice by the University of Kentucky)
FYI! If you have the same problem please do not use the diatomaceous earth that you got for your swimming pool, ok? That stuff has been tampered with and not only will it not kill any bugs, it's also very dangerous to inhale. Not that you want to inhale any DE, but this stuff is laced with chemicals so its worse. Only get food or garden grade DE for treating external parasites.
After everyone was situated in their new pots and watered and sitting in some warm sunshine on our front porch, I started the next batch of seeds; celery and two more varieties of tomato (Amish Paste and Brandywine). We've only got two small trays and one larger tray for seed starting so there isn't much, but a little bit of everything. Hopefully this way we will stagger all the harvest dates so we'll be in veggies all summer!
I get a little impatient, though, when it comes to seed starting; mostly because I want to start everything (and I DID last year, which didn't work out at all) but there's no point in starting most seeds because they do fine in slightly cooler soil to germinate. I just want to see our garden in full swing...and now. But spring is a waiting game, and anyone in my family can tell you that I get a little competitive.
So, I'll sit, and wait, and stare at our little seedlings and the cells where seeds have yet to sprout. I'll monitor the garden, get the beds ready, and wish I wasn't too cheap to buy black plastic covers to heat the soil faster. Tonight, though, I will plan the garden. I'm getting my seed packets and notes on good companions/bad companions together and I'm going to draw up the plan for the year. I haven't been this excited to garden in....well I'm not sure I've ever been this excited to garden. Its the start of a new chapter in our homesteading life, a little hard work and we could save ourselves some serious cash at the grocery store each month that we don't have to buy vegetables. Not to mention the fact that we'll know for sure our dinner doesn't contain any 'frankenfoods' or scary chemicals. Oh yes, I am excited.
Happily, Thursday night, Kyle and I got the extra large brooder ready to go and picked up a couple fifty pound bags of chick starter. We cleaned up the water fonts and layed down an old sheet over the shavings to help prevent the chicks from eating it during their first day or so. So, once we returned from picking them up, we got their fonts filled with slightly-sugared, warm water and went about dipping each chick's beak in the water.
We didn't bother counting them- although I wish we had now, just so we know exactly how many we ended up with. But it is alot of peeping chicks. Looks like the layers are a combination of Red Stars, Buff Orpingtons, and Rhode Island Reds...just guessing by their coloring as we had no option to request certain breeds with this 'Hungry Man Special'. I'm really looking forward to increasing our egg production and all three of those breeds would be a welcome addition to our farm.
Already, a mere three days later, they are noticably larger and have more feathers. The broilers are the biggest, which is to be expected, and I'm hoping that in a couple weeks we'll be able to move them outside. The layers will probably live in the brooder slightly longer, but pretty much as soon as everyone is feathered in they'll be sent outside to live. The brooder we've got them in is plenty roomy enough for 75-80 chicks, it is nowhere near big enough for 75-80 adolescent birds!
Its nice to have new additions on the farm again, especially ones with such promise. A few pennies per pound in grain (until the grass really starts growing) and we'll be set for chicken for the year and eggs for years to come. I love it here.