Sunday, June 12, 2011

It has been that kind of Spring

We are so far behind this Summer. Crap! Is it Summer already? I have not been posting as much as before and here is why.

We have had a very cold and wet Spring. It was colder than our average except of course for the few days it didn't rain but instead went to 100F with 20 MPH winds. I guess it is better than hail.

Also this Spring I took a long planned trip to th boundary waters on the Minnesota Canada border.I had a great time and can not wait to go again next year but it also pushed back planting a week. I did catch my first lake trout, one more MN species off the lifetime fish catch list.

Then our new senior doe rabbit appeared to be gaining weight. Turns out she was just being too well fed. This combined with a previous failed breeding by the folks we got her from means she is probably too old to conceive That sets us back on this plan as well as our junior doe will not be old enough to be mated until September.

Also earlier this spring an old ash tree decided it would be much more comfortable laying down. Unfortunately for us it decided to lay down on the house. There was a fair amount of damage to the old summer kitchen and we are now getting bids to make the necessary repairs and dealing with the insurance company. So far they have been unlike a good neighbor and not so there.
We are also moving the ducks and chickens along. They have booth been moved to their permanent housing and are being introduced to the pasture today. Which mean I need to quit messing around here and get out there.

FF Rick.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Update on Spring happenings

It has been a while so forgive me if I ramble a bit.
First the weather. Following one of our colder and wetter Winters, we are now starting on a cooler and wetter spring than normal. This has made it a bit tricky to get into the garden but with a bit of diligent help from my darling bride we have managed to get almost half of last years garden expansion planted up.
Next came the rabbits. We had been thinking that rabbits would make a good addition to our homestead for some time. Our friend Jamie had a chance to taste and fall in love with a rabbit terrine at Corner Table. He was very supportive of us getting the rabbit project off the ground so we thought now was the time. We decided on champagne d'argent. We were able to find a local breeder and meet up with them in a gas station parking lot. It was all quite cloak and dagger. We brought them all home and set them up in the garage and they have been doing well.

Then we have been looking to get a flock of layers back on the farm. We ordered 15 silver lace wyandottes and 5 araucanas. We received those on Monday and set them up in a brooder in the garage as we have been seeing freezing temps at night. We also got a few indian game roosters for future meat bird breeding stock.

Lastly we also ordered ducks again this year. We decided to try a Rouen ducks. We plan to raise them in the orchard again this year. They also arrived this week. We had to pick them up this morning. We brought them home and placed them in a second brooder in the garage.

Well that is enough for now. We have also begun composting in a big way. More about that later.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Season extension works

This past Saturday while it was out in the yard I decided it was time to peak under the low tunnel and see how things looked. It was high 40's and breezy and I had to shovel nearly a foot of snow off the tails of the poly to get access to the tunnel. I was amazed by the hot wet waft of air that hit me as I stuck my face into the enclosure. I was quite happy to see the mustard, spinach and mizuna all looking great. And I had my first taste of fresh home grown greens since November right then and there, on my knees in the mud. It was fantastic. The ground outside is still frozen hard but under the cover it was soft and moist. I ran my hands through the soil just to remember how it felt and was even more surprised to watch a worm pull away back into the soil. That sold it right then and there. We will have a hoop house constructed as soon as finances and conditions permit. I have been reading Eliot Colman's book Four Season Harvest and am quite excited about what we could produce with even a small greenhouse.

Will let you know how it goes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No worms part two for now.

I decided the other day that, as we have just had our worm bin for a short time I would probably just increasing the noise about the issue on the Internet with a follow up post on the subject. I guess I don't like doing "how to" posts. I would rather share with you what we are doing and whether or not it works for us. That way you can decide what works best for you.

We have a couple of other irons in the fire at the time.
  1. We currently have some maple taps out and I hope to produce some of our own syrup this year.
  2. We have started looking for breeding stock to raise meat rabbits this year and acquired some cages to house them in.
  3. We have ordered ducklings and replacement laying hens for the season.
Lastly we have submitted the paperwork to the secretary of state's office to become incorporated. To me that is a big step toward making the farm a legitimate business enterprise.

Busy, busy, busy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Worm Bin Part 1

This winter my lovely wife let me set up a worm compost system in the kitchen. I had dragged her to enough lectures on vermicomposting so she was on board but you have to recognize just how awesome she is.

So why compost with worms anyway?
Well first of all you can compost kitchen waste all year long. For many people this may not be that important but for those of us up in the frozen north being able to compost during the winter allows you to produce more valuable compost. The compost you get is also said to be superior to conventionally composted material. Plus you also get worms that you can either use for more composting operations or even take fishing with you.

So the bin we built started with two plastic storage containers. like this one.

The first thing you need to do is provide a way to manage the moisture in your bin. Worms exude moisture during the composting process and the food that you add also has moisture in it. That means that if their was no way for water to leave the bin your worms would soon drown. So we made a bunch of holes in the bottom of one of the bins. I have been told that quarter inch holes are small enough to avoid plugging but large enough to keep most of your worms from leaving.

It is also important to make sure that the worms can get enough oxygen so I drilled holes in the top of the bin as well. The lid also helps to keep light out of the bins as the worms are also sensative to light and we don't want to stress them.

Lastly I nested the bin that was drilled into the un-perforated twin. The second bin will catch the moisture that comes off the bin.

So that is the bin. later I plan to tell you how to set one up and how well our first one is working out for us.

Frustrated Farmer Rick

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sometimes others just tell the story better.

My friend writing about processing deer this year after the hunt
over at You Have To Cook it Right.

Also my buddy writing about the fall festival we through this year.
also at You Have To Cook It Right

And my lovely wife wrote a nice wrap up of what we have been up to as of late as well over at Lefse and Kimchee.

On The Folly of Going Lone Wolf.

Good afternoon readers. Over the last two days we have received something on the order of 18 inches of snow! Now those of you that are only familiar with Minnesota via the national news probably think this is the norm for us but in fact this is one of the top 10 snow storms in modern recorded history for our area. This storm ground our roads to a halt, buried many cars and even collapsed the roof of the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome. In short it has made a mess of things. But something interesting can be seen happening. Everywhere you look people are banding together to help each other. Twitter is awash with stories of folks plowing out neighbors and helping to dig out drives and sidewalks. Today while plowing and shoveling out the few bits that my wonderful neighbor could not reach with his giant farm sized snow blower it occurred to me that this is just the sort of response we may need in the face of all challenges. It doesn't mater if the challenge is Climate Change, Peak Oil or just the plain old economic hard times we seem to be currently experiencing the response will need to be the same, we have to help our neighbors. But the key to all of this is that we will need community, we will need the strengths that we all have to make it through.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trying to get this started again.

This blog has been difficult for me to keep my nose to as of late. This fall has been a bit difficult We are still following the path of increasing self sufficiency and have made some real gains in that department this fall. There are far to many things to list out but a few of the things we have done are,

We attended a weekend workshop put on by the Women's Environmental Institute (WEI) and Growing Power. There were a number of great classes on things like Hoop house construction and greenhouse operations. We particularly took inspiration from the classes about composting and vermiculture. Since getting back to Caerwyn we have started a large compost heap and also an indoor worm compost bin.

We set up our first proper root cellar in an area under the kitchen. We dug up many of the amazing root vegetables we grew this year and stored them in wet sand inside coolers. Today I grabbed a hand full of potatoes for lunch and noted that the temp was 43F. Last time I picked up some potatoes and parsnips everything seemed to be doing well. I also hope the coolers will help keep the roots from any intrepid rodents which is good as we seem to have a plague of them this year. Probably shouldn't say plague, that might be next.

There was also a hunting trip that was quite successful this year. In fact our freezer is full of great meat.

So things are OK here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Well like a mushroom this blog burst forth from something near death.

Err. Or something.

We found the above mushroom growing out of the base of a dead ash tree in the yard earlier this week. I thought it looked like sulphur shelf. With a little help from friend Kathy Yerich via twitter I was able to verify that. I decide to harvest it yesterday and today set about cooking it up for lunch

The first thing we had to do was clean the mushroom as it had been growing quite close to the ground and had incorporated bits of dirt and grass as it grew. After a bit of cutting and trimming it started to look quite nice.

We decided to saute it in butter with some white and red onion and a couple of sprigs of thyme from the garden. It looks great and smells good too. It has a really meaty texture without a strong flavor of it's own. I can see how some people say it tastes like the white meat of chicken

Well time to eat the rest so wish us luck.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

quick update

This is just a quick update post. I need to break the streak of not posting to this blog.

The garden is realy going like gang busters. We are getting three or four courgettes every day. We are starting to get sungold tomatoes by the bowl full daily as well. We have harvested almost all our small shallots along with our onions and garlic. We have let our borloto beans go past green bean stage and now plan to harvest them for fresh beans. We lost one of our towers of scarlet runner beans in one of the recent storms. We seem to be having storms every three days this summer. The ducks are doing well. I cleaned out their pond yesterday and refilled it with rainwater captured from the pole barn.