Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Subsistence Farming Fun

Check it out!! Eli is starting to nibble solid food!!! That's right little guy eat that solid food ! In 6 more weeks I'll be wanting some donkey milk! 
This is the first time I've attempted to grow a runner beans... Germination was terrible but what sprouted looks amazing!
From a mulberry tree planted last year!!!!
And there's more!! They are so sweet!!
I planted them because a long time poultry breeder told me a mature mulberry tree could feed a small home flock for about 3 months with very little supplementation... These are so good I'm going to want the majority for us though!
I did plant 2!
All AGH have been sold!!!! But 1 boar piglet! They have been a nice stepping stone in getting us ready to take on our big Meishan hog project. Now we are just waiting on pick ups and deliveries. 
The agh provided meat and lard , a nice beginner hog...we've had them 6 years... but it's time to move on ... And Nothing beats these super docile , quite Meishan .. This is one of our younger Iowa state line sows with some agh piglets and some adult agh sows. She's actually smaller than our Illinois line sows.. But as you can see she's much larger and longer than the agh sows... 
This wood lot has been occupied by the agh for over a year now and it looks it.. Compare to the green pasture our meishans has been on.
Pretty easy to see why I like them more and more every day!

And we are very excited to add another Meishan line πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€
My husband loves raising hogs.. I'm so glad he found the meishans .. I appreciate what the agh brought to the table on our farm but they drove me crazy!!!
Till next time !
Be blessed....

Sunday, May 22, 2016

New donkey, new cucumber and naughty geese

Meet the newest addition to the donkey herd! 
She is named Shokolad ( meaning chocolate in Hebrew due to her having no points and a chocolate face) calling her Shoko for short.
She is the perfect size for the dairy/guard donkey herd I'm trying to build. Her rare coloring is pretty nice too!
I favor the small standard size , which is pretty hard to find!
All donkeys I have or had got their own little  *quirks* ... I'm figuring out the new girls.. One thing , she is super food aggressive! Not the first donkey I've had like that. Just has to be managed like any other higher thinking animal.. I do not feed any of my donkeys with my birds anyways they will all be greedy and try to eat my goose feed which can result in an injured goose and a possibly colicky donkey! 
Something good.. Who ever raised this girl did a wonderful job.. She loves people and understands what ' no' means! Something I'm trying to teach the new donkey foal that has grown teeth and is learning to bite! Yeah,, he needs to learn no! 
My Jack , Levi here giving Shoko the look... She will be moving in with him soon!
My silly geese decided To be annoying and hang out on my low tunnel plastic we had spread out to dry before putting up for the season... Now it has goose poo on it! They better be glad I love them!
And celebrate 🍾🍾🍾
My first cucumbers of the year are maturing!! This is a hybid called Tiny Tykes.. Very similar to the heirloom Parisian pickling( which I'm also growing) they are tiny cucumbers mostly used for canning pickles. I wanted to try these because they mature in 36 days!!!!!!! 
But to my surprise they have an excellent raw cuke taste!! Maybe even better than my go to eating cuke , an heirloom called Ruby Wallace White.
My husband said it was the best cucumber he's ever tasted ...
I may need to grow more...
I love heirlooms but there's a lot of new hybrids out there being bred for superior flavor for home and farm market gardeners. 
Well I'm off to enjoy a day of rest and Praise the good Lord for that!!


Monday, May 16, 2016

Growing Corn and other wonderful things

This year instead of only growing a flint and dent corn for grain I've decided to branch out into sweet corn.. I'm a big fan of grain corn! And never really considered sweet corn but when I saw some varieties can be harvested in 60 days or less! I decided to give it a go... Could be a great secession crop for my intensive garden plans!!
Corn is a crazy heavy feeder!!! Maybe the heaviest feeder I grow. 
In Will Bonsalls book on growing the self reliant garden , corn is the only thing he grows that needs animal manure .. Being a true vegan he actually uses his own humanure!
All other crops he keeps fertile through plant based compost and green manure cover crops...
So next time you're thinking you're eating a vegan corn chip grown with no inputs from animals.. Think again my friend! Most corn cultivated in the USA uses blood meal ( dried pig blood) and a number of animal manures. So don't be so judgy-wudgy .. There's blood on your hands to unless you're buying from someone who composts humanure! 
Good luck finding that!
My early sweet corn beds have a base of chicken manure compost and wood ashes mixed into the soil. Which sounds pretty rich,, but I know it will not be enough... So instead of mulching with the usual newspaper and sawdust I used newspaper and fairly composted goose manure. The idea being that as it rains the newspaper decomposes and the manure nutrients will leech into the soil slowly throughout the growth of the corn.
Hopefully it won't leave the soil totally void of nutrients and something will be available for the next crop going in. Which will probably be butternut squash and I'll add alittle blood meal in when they are planted. Job's tears are also planted here. There's so little info on growing them but I did find one source that said they needed similar conditions to corn. 
This is a bed of sweet corn planted a week later pictured below. 
I'm using fresh donkey manure on top of the newspaper for its leeching fertilizer.. 
Since Donkey manure is not as nutrient dense as goose manure I'll probably plant late beans in this bed when the corn comes out. The first planting should be ready mid June , the second last week of June. Plenty of time for another crop of something!!
I hope this works!!!! It will be awesome if it does ...,
In other gardens... I'm begging daily, please rippen tomatoes.. Pretty please!!!!!! I'm dying for a tomato!
This bed of mustard will be coming out this month... More pesto!!!
The cooler weather has not made my peppers happy.. I had hoped they would be productive earlier this year since I used wall o waters.. But the extra cool spring has not been good for them. Next year I may plant them not only in wall o waters to start but also in a soil warming plastic mulch. 
Muscadine vines are LOADED!!!
I always make juice.. Sometimes wine from them. This year I may need to branch out and learn to make some other things... 
Little Eli.. A week old and starting to nibble browse and grass. He's huge!
Still the most adorable baby animal ever.
I can not wait to milk Rani though!!! So hurry and learn to eat solid food!! 

off to make dinner...
It's gonna be something with snow peas.. Again! Lol
I love that problem.. To many snow peas!
Such a blessing 😌



Friday, May 13, 2016

I love growing beets, But I don't like eating them...

Beets grow so easy here in lesser busy garden times. Fall, over wintered or early spring they do well. Nothing really bothers them.. No pest or diseases . There are all kinds of varieties and they even grow big beautiful green tops for eating as well..and they are so nutritious!
The problem? They taste like dirt!
Well,, to me they taste like dirt ...bad.
I think the greens even have a dirt taste.
The only thing that taste worse is Swiss chard. 
But I love growing them.. Lucky for me the poultry and pigs love them! I've tried many varieties, didn't like any of them even when they were described as being 'mild'.  I cooked them many different ways.. Hated all...
Now please don't think I'm weird because I like growing veggies I don't like to eat.. I totally inherited this trait because my mom grows things like cushaw and pumpkin but does not like to eat them..
I guess I'm a garden geek by birth lol!
Anyways...
I saw this variety , Candy stripped beets, on the show 'the chef and the farmer' they were pickling them!
So I thought I will grow them and try pickled beets.. Maybe the vinegar covers the dirt flavor! I love pickles of all kinds so why not.
Picture below.. They are beautiful! They are just starting to bulk up. Just in time to pull them out and put some heat loving veggies in. Love it when that happens...intensive four season gardening is the very best use of garden space. When the weather cooperates it's helpful Ofcourse...
On first taste this beet is super sweet , followed by a slight bitter taste...
But finished with... That awful beet dirt taste! Yuck!!!
Not feeling like pickling anything right now I check Pinterest for recipe ideas and found a load of dessert recipes.. For beets???
There were truffles, brownies, cakes...
Always on a quest to hide veggies in desserts to up the nutritional value I decide that's my best bet for trying to hide the flavor of dirt but get the nutrition from the beets.
I started by dicing them and boiling them in honey until soft. 
PurΓ©ed them.. Added 2 duck eggs, 1/4 cup lard, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and splash of vanilla extract.
Baked at 350.
What I got was an amazing texture and rich taste somewhere between a fudge brownie and flourless chocolate cake! 
With a slight aftertaste.... Of dirt πŸ˜•
Just ever so slight... So....
I make a frosting of mild goat cheese , honey , touch of water to get the texture right and cinnamon..
Success!!!!!!
Now I have these delicious (gluten free even!) nutritious chocolate beet torte with goat cheese cinnamon frosting. 
I finally have a way I can eat beets.πŸ€—
And looking forward to more hide the beet recipes! Lol
But the greens still go to the geese or other poultry!

So I'm having a piece for breakfast before I go out to... Ofcourse ,the garden. Need to get my pink dent corn and purple goose beans in today!! Along with shoveling up poultry manure, mulching more, preparing the melon bed, transplanting more tomatoes and starting more cucumbers. That's what I have to get done today...
That, and feed my mass amounts of feathered beauties , rotate the donkeys and let the beagles run. 
It's gonna be a fun day ❤️🌞❤️
So very thankful for it.

Donkey foal and spring harvest

Crazy busy doesn't even begin to describe how it's been here!
Planting new fruit trees, planting and prepping and harvesting gardens,, dealing with loads of newly hatched ducklings, goslings and silkies...
And....
A new, long awaited donkey foal ....
Rani finally had a very healthy baby boy. 
The birth was uneventful but Rani started to get an infection so we had to get a vet out to flush her. Since Donkeys are pretty easy and generally very hardy this was the first time I've had the opportunity to talk with an equine vet. 
There's not a whole lot of info on donkeys and they are quite different from horses. So the veterinarians visit was helpful to keeping Rani in good health and educational for me as well!
While she was here she checked out Leeba too... She thought Leeba should foal in about a month πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸΎπŸΎπŸΎ
Something else to be excited and anxious about!
I ❤️ these creatures like crazy..,,
Also due ... My husbands Meishan pig Pumpkin is getting huge...and still about a month out.... Nice , quite pig.. Grazing and not destroying our feild , lovely site...
I never tire of seeing it!

Some spring veggies rolling in!!
The motivation I need to get the rest of the gardens planted and mulched!
Almost time for okra and melons to go in...
Dent corn and more cowpeas go in this week! And many new varieties of pole and butter beans.
The new varieties of snow peas are still working out.. The new way of planting carrots ( post on that later) is working out better than any way I've ever planted them. The first time planted favas beans have worked out amazing!!! They have been pest and problem free, giving me early fresh , delicious beans and not depleting the soil so when they go out in June I can plant something else right in that garden bed. Keep the food coming!!
The new variety I tried, Green glaze collards,, not worked out as well. I bought them to try because the shiny leaves are supposed to make them more insect resistant .. It does for the cabbage moth, but the flea beetles really like them.
The flavor is not to our liking either. It's a very strong , pungent flavor. They need to be boiled and doused with vinegar to be good. Lightly sautΓ©ed , the way we usually like greens, doesn't cut it for these! 
God is so very good...
Now I have to hurry off to pick up my new goslings!! This is a new line of white Chinese for my goose egg laying flock , very excited to get them!
Then it's hurry back and get in that garden!!!
Have a very blessed weekend y'all 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Garden experiments

I have so many things going on in the garden this year... Many new varieties and some new ways to try and get things to grow better. 
There are so many things to look forward to ...like the first summer squash ! And also, many things to try and avoid .. Like the squash vine bore! 
Typically I always direct seed summer squash late April. This year I started some inside to try and get a jump on an earlier harvest before the bore hits, in late June usually.
The results....
Squash hate being transplanted and tend to pout .... The seedlings above were direct seeded a couple weeks ago.. Seedling below started back in March and transplanted last week...
It's a little bigger but turning yellow from transplant shock.. During this time it's more vulnerable to pest attacks and It's not going to grow until it recovers..
Meanwhile the direct seedlings are growing at a extremely fast pace, healthy beautiful green. It will be interesting to see who gives up the squash first!
I did start some spaghetti squash back in February inside too that's doing well after transplant ... So maybe it's not as sensitive or maybe because it was a very large plant when it was transplanted . In fact it's huge and blooming like crazy...
It's so hard for me to get a mature winter squash from a c.pepo because of the vine bore ... I'm hoping by starting it ridiculously early I have a chance .. Not counting on it but I still have hope!!
Below , Red Acre cabbage started inside doing wonderfully!! The direct seeded is still much smaller so starting cabbage inside for a jump was worth the effort.
A few of the gardens below...Waiting to be planted. This long spring has messed up my corn schedule 😞
And probably shocked the sweet potato slips I just put in ( new varieties had been shipped so I had to get them in)
I had planned to start cowpeas and okra this week but 43 at night... Nope! Gonna have to wait til next week. 

Yesterday was our day off the farm.. Long overdue break was needed!
It's supposed to warm back up to the 80's the next few days. I'm refreshed and ready to get back at the gardens!!
Hoping some more goose eggs will hatch..and baby donkeys will be born. 
I've been waiting soooooo long for my girl Rani to foal!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Snow Peas trials, Elderberries and a Dandy gander

Mmmmmm... 
Love the snow peas! This year I planted 4 varieties .. Norli ( pea in the middle ) was the first to produce and has been producing for over a week now..
The pea on the far right, Corne de Belier is sweeter than the other two and just now starting to produce.. The pea on the far left is just starting also.. Carouby De Moussane... And it's the largest snow pea ever! Taste similar to Norli. 
The fourth variety Dwarf snow has a few baby peas.. All were planted at the same time.
Half a pound gathered today! Mostly Norli.
There's a few sugar snap in here also. 
Norli also takes up less space .. Needs no support.
It's early so I'm excited to see if the other 3 varieties start producing like Norli !
Never enough snow peas...
The elderberries I dug up from my mother trees are looking so good!! I love having elderberries. In Growing for Market magazine last month there was an excellent article on them. I didn't realize they were such a big business in European countries. Native to the area elderberries sure do well here. The trees I planted last year are huge! Especially the Adams variety. My wild tree is already starting to bloom !
I talked in the last post about changes to my goose flock.. This guy will be staying though ..Dandy, is a good gander. He isn't the top gander but he's Always looking out for his girl.. Takes care of babies.. Some of my ganders are to busy being full of themselves to be good fathers and mates.. They won't get to stay. I don't care what the breed is. The ganders job is very important. Only room for the best..
Just a lovely site... Grazing geese...
Y'all have a blessed day.