Full Steam Ahead!

Full Steam Ahead!

“The way you do anything is the way you do everything” Martha N. Beck

Getting back into the swing of farm life is more challenging this time around than when we had our organic CSA in Los Lunas, NM. Back 8 years ago, we spent the first six months rehabbing the house (it was a real shit hole!) and then started doing earthworks and planting trees. A little garden in front, fruit trees to anchor the different growing spaces and that was about it until the following year when we laid the work for our farm. I didn’t have work outside the home so I could concentrate on planning and getting seeds and trees. All our time from morning till night was spent advancing our goals. We learned about life and death on the farm. We also learned about loss. About who we could trust and who we needed to avoid, it happens with families. But no matter who we slice it, we have always done things the same way.

The saying, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything” applies so fittingly to me in my daily life. I don’t wait for things to manifest before I’m willing to make something happen. I keep moving, keep striving, keep motivated. It’s in my nature. I still wake up amazed by all the life growing up around me. Berries ripening, invasive plants I try to become friends with, small critters who live among us curious about who we are. It’s how I do life…every day.

Back when we operated Luna Hill Heritage Farm, I ran around all day trying to get everything done. Animals to feed and care for, plants to harvest, seeds to sew, weed pressure, bug pressure, making meals, homeschooling, spending time with my family, trying to maintain friendships.

Can it all be done?

Yes. But there needs to be balance. Daily. If our lives are consumed with putting out fires all day long, that is how our lives will be. One big knot of worry and chaos. I know I always bite off more than I can chew, but this year I’m learning to pace myself.

The list of things that needs to be done in this place grows by the day like a hungry monster. I need to constantly re-prioritize everything according to what’s going on, especially since this time around we are also building our coffee business. With our coffee company in its first full swing of commercial coffee orders coming in (we put our business in a time out while we got settled), weaving in chicken feedings and watering my little seedlings get shifted a bit.

Here’s a list of all the things that need to be accomplished before we can even start our market garden. My hope is to have our first fall crops in the ground by mid-July:

  • Horse tape needs to be finished
  • Brush around tape needs to be cleared
  • Move horses onto pasture full time
  • Chicken coop/compost run needs to be completed
  • Set up feeding and water station near the coop for chickens and ducks
  • Move chickens to the new coop
  • Turn compost piles
  • Install a permanent tomato bed on the west side of the compost chicken run and plant tomatoes (by mid-June)
  • Make new soil from compost for market garden
  • Finish adding old manure to market garden beds
  • Finish forming the market garden beds
  • Weed the market garden
  • Purchase 150- 1/2″x10′ PVC, 10- 1″x10′ PVC, and rebar to create low tunnels for market garden beds
  • Purchase 6ml greenhouse plastic for market garden
  • Purchase two bolts of tulle for market garden
  • Purchase 100′ hose and high-velocity sprinkler for market garden
  • Purchase 4-way splitter
  • Purchase pond liner for the duck pond
  • Put up new fencing around the duck run and pond

All that has to be completed by mid-July if we’re going to get crops in the ground for the fall. All the warm season fruits and veggies are in the teepee greenhouse waiting for when it will be safe enough to be planted outside. I would like to get them in the ground by mid-June the earliest. We’ve learned living in the high desert that warm season crop seedlings become desiccated by our dry winds, have to tolerate high fluctuations in temperature variations between daytime and nighttime, and can be hit with an unseasonable hard late frost. In my experience, it has always been more than one late frost. The high desert is not the easiest place to grow food, but once you learn how your area of the high desert functions, you can plan accordingly.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a garden is believing that because it might have been unseasonably warm one year or for the last 10 years, that everything will be okay and you can start planting those tomatoes in mid-May. If those crops are covered at night and for freak weather events, then yes, by all means, get those babies into the soil. For me? I’m not so quick to do that. This is our first year growing things in the Gila Forest. The microclimate here is beautiful but just as unpredictable as a college kid on spring break!

Our ongoing holdup at the moment is the chickens. They’re everywhere and until they are contained fulltime in their new space, my hands are tied and I’m limited to what I can accomplish.

I’ve had a few plants sitting outside and so far the chickens haven’t bothered with them. Honeysuckle, trumpet vine, Spanish lavender, and rhubarb. It would be a different story, however, if I were to put them into the ground! The first thing those chickens would do would be to scratch and dig at the base of the plants. They can’t do that when the plants are still in pots. So I wait and work on the endless list of other things that also need my attention. Like property cleanup, cutting down dead trees and branches, painting and rehabbing the business hub, chicken proofing my coffee roasting area. That one was big! I thought I was going to go on a chicken killing spree when they got into the area where I roast coffee and crapped all over the floor. Something about the new set up made them say, “Hey! This is the PERFECT place to throw a party and crap all over the clean stainless steel table and floor! Woohooo!” Yeah, it took me an hour just to clean it all up and sanitize the work table. Then I chicken proofed it. My insane need for cleanliness when it comes to my coffee roasting area almost sent me to the loony bin. We also learned that you can’t leave the door open to the business hub because the chickens will walk right in and make themselves at home. Oh, and forget trying to work with any kind of tools. One of the chickens decided to make Dom’s tool area the perfect place to sit and learn how to build something. I think she’s was mostly entertained by Dom’s work habits. I find him highly entertaining and watch him often. Maybe the chickens got that from me?

Yeah, they need to go into the coop!

“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

What are the things you do on a daily basis and end up being the way you do everything in life? What is the reoccurring theme? Are there things you wish could be different? I know I’m always working to improve daily habits. I’m my own worst enemy at times. But still, here I go…full steam ahead!

Six Weeks of Being Betrayed

Six Weeks of Being Betrayed

It has been six weeks since we moved here, and it has been six weeks of being betrayed. Betrayal is a nasty word and one that is only fitting for our situation. Our lives have been filled with joy, happiness, inspiration, and wonder. Simmi is acclimating to life in our semi-wild location. Dom has been busy with work. Sara has been working around the land and taking care of the horses.

And me? Betrayed by my own body. My autoimmune problems have gone away, but in its place comes my clumsy ways where I bang into walls, trip over small sticks, bang my head on corners of cabinets, lose my balance standing on the first step of a ladder, and cramp my hands up so bad that I can barely pick up an ax or hammer without it slipping through my fingers.

It all started when Simmi destroyed the zippers (both sets!) on her tent. The first set is on the outside of the tent, and the second set is on the screen. You see, she LOVES to make a small opening in the tent, and then dive in. There is no time to unzip the tent properly because what’s the fun in that?! No, this child wants to dive through the smallest opening possible. I kept telling her not to do that because she’ll damage the tent, but she didn’t believe me.

And then it happened. Both zippers broke. It’s not like we can take the tent down and just run it through my sewing machine to repair it. I have to sew it all by hand. The key word is hand. I had zippers from the extra tent we have, so I removed them and started sewing. It took four hours to get the first set of zippers properly attached. My hands were so cramped it was difficult to type or do any work. It took nearly a week for my hands to start working properly. Once they were somewhat recovered, I had to get the second set of zippers put on because a storm was coming.

Six more hours of sewing the outer zipper. This zipper was more of a challenge because of the thickness of the canvas. After I finished the second set, I could barely move my hands. I was betrayed by my own body. But I did it to myself. I pushed through and destroyed myself.

Six weeks of being betrayed.

My hands are finally getting back to normal. I still have problems with fine motor skills and typing is somewhat of a problem, but I can use my ax again without fear of it slipping out of my hand and cutting open my head or leg, or anyone standing in close proximity. Being accident prone is something I’ve always had to contend with, but when hands are so cramped they can’t do what they’re told, it makes my issues with banging into things and falling even worse.

It’s kind of like when you bang your toe on something and then all the sudden you keep banging it in that same area. When I fall because I tripped over a small twig or leaves (yes, I’ve tripped over a leaf last week) and my hands aren’t working properly, my fall is even worse because I can’t catch myself.

Betrayal sucks!

Beyond my quirky accident-prone ways, things are going great here. Here are some photos of the goings on around here…

Dom built a temporary teepee greenhouse. The poles were taken from trees the horses stripped.

We originally wanted to use our leftover plastic furniture wrap. It kept snagging and ripping so we ended up using some plastic we had laying around.

I sewed fabric straps to anchor onto the outside. Dom will need to attach them where I can’t reach. The straps keep the plastic from moving and provides a way for me to string up the outside and inside of the teepee to prevent the plastic from moving too much in the wind.

We added a door lined with chicken wire to prevent the chickens from getting in. They have been conspiring all week to get in and eat my little sprouts. We’ll be adding bricks to the front since it gets pretty muddy at the entrance.

The door was made from branches and attached with some old cabinet hinges we had. Making this little greenhouse was fun and it didn’t cost any money to make.

The seedlings have been enjoying their new home. We currently have artichokes coming up in the aquaponic system and next week they’ll be moved to the greenhouse.

I’ve had this cutie pie with the most adorable little freckles helping to move the seedlings into the greenhouse.

See what I mean? As I was stripping the bark off the poles, the chickens were plotting the great seedling heist. A few of them managed to get in there and I had to chase them out.

My girl has the best laugh.

She loves playing cards with her dad. She likes to trash talk while playing. It’s hilarious. When I hear Dom and Simmi playing, and she’ll say to Dom as she wins, “Eat it old man!”

I love him.

We started building the chicken compost run. It’s made from wood that was laying on the property, screwed together and lashed with jute. The side walls will have welded wire attached, and chicken wire will line the top. We have a nice stinky pile of compost under that tarp. On the right side is where the horses are (they’ll be moved soon to the pasture full time), when they are out of the area I’ll be putting tomatoes on that side. Tomatoes can handle compost so it will be a good set up and it will shade the compost pile and the chickens towards the end of the day. We’ll also be adding honeysuckle and trumpet vine to the chicken run to shade the girls all summer. They’ll also attract many pollinators for the garden.

At the close of Sunday evening a few weeks ago, Dom was frustrated, hot, bothered, and ready to be done. We pushed through the dehydration and cramping hands during mid-day in the hot sun because we needed to get the chicken run covered with chicken wire to protect the posts from the horses. Yet, even with a torn meniscus and working on the uneven ground all dehydrated and weather-worn, the end of the day scowl was the only thing showing his pain. I feel fortunate to have such an amazing person to walk through this life with. When he came home from work he apologized to me for the way he handled the day. I was unsure why he needed to apologize. He said, “I love that we get to work together, but I know I could have made the whole day more fun for both of us. Instead, I barreled through and made everything a chore.” What he doesn’t understand is that every moment I spend with him is heaven, and the fact that he would apologize and want to make it even better rocks my world.

We have wild grape vines setting their fruit. We’ll be cutting back most of the vines in this area and grafting different types of table grapes to them. We’ll be putting up a pergola for Farm to Table events and the new grapes will grace the pergola.

I got my hands on the last pot of Spanish lavender. I’ll be taking cuttings to make a lot of lavender that will grow down the driveway and in the potager garden and well, everywhere else. I love lavender!

Scored some rhubarb and I’ll be planting it next week.

When the Benadryl hits hard, goofy faces happen.

Sara is loading horse manure onto each of the market garden beds. Soon we’ll dig the pathways and form the beds.

Hopefully, in the next few weeks, my hands will be fully recovered. In the meantime, I’ll be busy creating new plants from cuttings, planting more seeds, continuing to work on the market garden, and working on the business hub. Now that I can type again, I can also start writing more blog posts!

Oh, and in two months we’ll be welcoming some ducklings! I’m so excited about that. We’ll be driving to Arizona to pick up Dutch Hookbill Ducklings. I haven’t decided how many we’ll purchase, yet. This month I’ll be ordering the pond liner and getting the duck area ready. It’ll take a month to get all the rocks moved into their pond.

Pictured above is a Dutch Hookbill Duck. We’ll be getting our ducklings from someone who is preserving this breed in Arizona. She’s an excellent photographer as well!

Here’s what the Livestock Conservancy says about the Dutch Hookbill:

This unique and very old Dutch breed of duck is thought to have originated in the Netherlands between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the province of Noord-Holland. As the name implies, the breed is characterized by its downward curving beak, setting it apart from other duck breeds. It is believed that this trait was particularly useful to duck breeders in making it easier for hunters to distinguish Hookbills from wild ducks that inhabited the same areas as the domesticated birds. In Holland these ducks were managed in the waterways and canals of the countryside and they were expected to forage for most of their own food. Today they are still among the best foragers of domestic ducks.
According to the Dutch Association of Breeders of Domesticated Waterfowl (Nederlandse Vereniging van fokkers van gedomesticeerd watervogels) the Hookbill duck and the Noord-Holland White Breasted duck (also known as the Witborst duck) had similar genealogies. Their exact origin has never been determined but it is speculated that the breeds developed from early importations of Indian Runners. This idea is supported by J. Bonenkamp in the magazine Avicultura (8/1990) where he accounts of finding pure Hookbill ducks among groups of ducks in East India.

The unique appearance of the Hookbill made them desirable as ornamental birds but early on the Hookbill was known for being excellent layers of eggs. That combined with their remarkable foraging capability made the breed widely popular on Dutch farms. In Holland, in the 18th century ducks were provided a place to nest and feed while they were brooding, then ducks and ducklings were all sent out to the surrounding wetlands to forage for their own food and received no further supplemental food. The wings of the ducklings were clipped to make them easier to catch later. By mid-August the birds were gathered and sent to market in Purmerend, where they were purchased by duck keepers who would use them for egg production. The birds kept for breeding were selected to be sturdy and disease resistant, self-sufficient, adaptable to new circumstances, and efficient layers needing less food than other breeds in order to be productive.

The Dutch Hookbill breed declined in the 20th century due to a diminished market for duck eggs and the effect of increasingly polluted waterways that served as their home. By 1980 the Hookbill was nearly extinct, but through a Dutch effort led by Hans van de Zaan, the last 15 birds were collected and used to start a conservation breeding program in the Netherlands.

Dave Holderread was among the first to import the Dutch Hookbill into the United States in 2000. He found that there were three bill types in the population: extreme curve, moderate curve, and straight. In his book Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks (2011), Holderread outlines that the most effective breeding strategy was to cross birds with moderately curved beaks to each other or an extremely curved beaked bird with a straight beaked bird as the best breeding options. He found that crosses between birds with extreme curved beaks had poor egg fertility. There are still very few primary breeding flocks of Dutch Hookbills in the United States.

Dutch Hookbill ducks have excellent flight capability, especially younger individuals. The birds reach sexual maturity very quickly by around 16 weeks of age. Healthy ducks can be expected to lay anywhere from 100 – 225+ eggs per year. They come in three primary color variations: dusky, white, and white-bibbed dusky. Other colors exist but not in great numbers here in the US. The Hookbill is a remarkable breed that deserves a second look as a viable and efficient egg producer for small scale farming.

 

 

 

 

Great Expectations for 2019

Great Expectations for 2019

It’s amazing to me that at this time last year I could barely breathe walking from part of a room to another, I had to shave my head because my hair was falling out so much that it was everywhere. It’s disturbing to see hair all over the place! Moving back to our home state of New Mexico was an act of desperation much like when we first arrived in New Mexico ten years earlier. We learned our lesson that this is our home forever. My mold allergies are so bad that our home state is the only one with the ability to help me recover.

And I am recovering, slowly but surely.

It has been nearly four years since we were raising animals and farming. Now that we have our land, we are moving full speed ahead, biting off more than we can chew, and I’m sure we’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way. I don’t fear making mistakes at all. I never have. It’s how I grow and it keeps me flexible when I want to stay rigid.

Jumping back into farming is something I am so very excited about. Proper planning, however, is key to being successful and profitable. We started the tradition of writing out our goals when we started homesteading in Los Lunas. It feels good to get back into the practice of writing our goals again. In every place that we were at from Vermont to West Virginia, we had grand plans for establishing a garden and keeping small animals, but I would get so sick from each house we lived in that we would need to move.

We moved a total of 10 times since leaving New Mexico four years ago. In 2019 we will make another move onto our land.

2018 was a great year. Our coffee roasting company, Buffalo Mountain, has thrived and made 10 times the amount made in 2017. We can’t yet take an income from it, but I believe by the end of 2019 we will be profitable enough to start paying ourselves. Buffalo Mountain pays for all its own supplies, operating expenses, internet and phone, and electric bill. We will be building the new roastery on the land and it will have an art studio, commercial kitchen, and a farm store attached.

We moved here to Reserve in February, and with the amazing support of our friend Jennifer, who allowed us to rent her little adobe this year, it helped us to get established in Catron County.

Simmi made a new friend named Angel and they have become great friends. It’s the first time she has had a real friend to play with…ever. it’s a pretty big deal!

Simmi has made great progress in her school work. She was evaluated by a dyslexia specialist when we lived in Vermont and we were told that she has profound dyslexia. This is not a bad thing, it just means that she processes information when reading or doing math differently than other children. Children with dyslexia have many strengths. I am also dyslexic, but mine is not as advanced as her’s is. So I work at her pace which is very slow, with lots of days in between for her to process what she has learned. If I do school work with her every day, she goes into overload and won’t stop rubbing her eyes because it’s like there are letters or numbers missing from what she’s reading. She believed that she was dumb and not smart because she couldn’t read like her friend Angel. It was very frustrating for her, but recently she has come to accept that she learns differently than other kids and that it’s okay to do things at a slower pace. I think she’s doing fantastic!

Dom has been working hard this year as a cook at the restaurant next door to us and also taking on side projects and maintenance work. He’s still emotionally recovering from this last move. The emotional stress of my illness over the last three years has really taken a toll on him. While I no longer have to worry about toxic mold exposure, I am still suffering with electro-hypersensitivity. My inability to deal with wifi and electricity, in general, has gotten worse since September of this year. My only solace is being down on our land where there are no frequencies at all, and if neighbors do have wifi in their houses, they are far enough away from our property to not affect me.

We made many new dear friends this year, and some of those friends became family to us.

We have our own land to call home and an emerging farm that is co-owned by Dom, me, Toulousse & Saint, and Sara. Sara will be moving to the property sometime in 2019. Toulousse and Saint are already there. I’ll be adding them to this website in the new year.

We gained a new son-in-law, Kyle, when our daughter Shoshannah was married in June of this year. Kyle is one of those rare, gentle and beautiful souls that captured my daughter’s heart and wouldn’t let go. I feel so blessed that they found such a great love in one another.

As we bring 2018 to a close, it’s time to look forward to the goals for 2019. While our list is extensive and so grand that we may not be able to fit it all into a year, it doesn’t have to fit neatly into a one year span. Let’s look at these goals as part of a Five Year Plan.

Firelight Farm’s Goals for 2019

  • Establish the market garden: Build the greenhouse, stake and build the grow beds, add row covers, install irrigation
  • Build a chicken coop and compost run
  • Line the duck pond and put up fence for the duck run
  • Build topbar beehives
  • Build a freestanding full bathroom: This will have a worm composting flush toilet (Solviva design), sink, shower and bathtub, and a washing machine. The bathroom will be located between the market garden and the French potager garden.
  • Build the produce washing and workstation, and animal evisceration (for meat processing) area next to the bathroom: This is the heart of any market garden or garden in general. It’s where fruits and vegetables are processed for the market either on farm or at the farmer’s market.
  • Build a tool shed between both gardens
  • Build our hybrid canvas tents: We will be building four 12’x12′ tent cabins. One is for Dom and I, the second tent is for Simone, the third one is for guests who come to visit us, and the fourth is for furniture and boxes as well as storing our kitchen supplies and food in. There will be a large covered area where we will have our kitchen and dining room table. The free standing bathroom will not be located too far from our camp.
  • Build a canvas tent cabin 12’x12′ for our coffee company, which will be located near where we will be building the roastery.
  • Establish the French potager garden
  • Plant fruit trees
  • Build a tropical greenhouse: This is for our personal use because we want fresh avocados, citrus, figs, and other tropical fruits that won’t grow in our hardiness zone.
  • Build the coffee roastery: This roastery will be built from logs that our neighbors have sitting up at their property. It was as if it has been there for the last ten years waiting for us to arrive. Haha, at least that’s the way I’d like to think of it! There’s enough lumber for our business complex which will be the roastery, a commercial kitchen for making cold brew and lactofermented vegetables, and the farm store.
  • Begin improving the pasture for the horses
  • Clear and remove rocks from the front of the property along the river for the future flower farm: This area is about 30’x200′ feet by my best guesstimation. 😉
  • Build a horse barn for Sara’s three gorgeous horses that will be coming to their new home
  • Build Sara a house. Sara is like a mama to Toulousse and I. We adore her and feel so blessed that she’s a part of our family.
  • Purchase ducklings and goslings
  • Purchase worms
  • Build a rabbitry and worm beds underneath
  • Purchase meat rabbits
  • Build a quail aviary
  • Purchase quail
  • Build a scaled up black soldier fly shed: Black soldier flies are one of my all time favorite creatures. The larva are highly nutritious for poultry and the adult black soldier fly is an elegant creature, living for only about a week. Adults do not have a working mouth and do not carry vector-borne diseases. I could gush on and on about these little creatures.
  • Build the farm’s outdoor kitchen and covered dining area: This will be for Farm to Table events
  • Purchase EZ Up Tents and things needed for the Silver City Farmer’s Market
  • Purchase or acquire a donated a Suburban or farm truck: We desperately need a large working vehicle that can haul a trailer and for Dom to continue working. Right now we only have one vehicle.
  • Establish a few commercial accounts for our organic fruits and vegetables and animal products
  • Build chicken tractors for meat birds. (See photo of chicken tractors below)
  • Purchase meat chickens and turkeys

Is your head spinning yet? Mine popped off just writing it all down! There’s more, but I think I’ll stop there. When I build the page for our Farmstead Milestones, I’ll add the above list with the rest of our goals, because the list keeps growing. It’ll never stop growing as long as I have breath in me.

I hope you all have an amazing New Year!

2019 is the year of great expectations and will be filled with strength, courage, wisdom, laughter, friendship, financial abundance, and lots of love!

 

 

 

Our First Potato Sprout


This morning the first of our potato sprouts peeked through the soil and straw to stretch towards the sun. This was the only sprout I found so far. The no dig potatoes were planted on June 25th…to see how we planted our taters click here.

Its been almost a month since we planted and hopefully they will all start to sprout now. We should be getting more weeper hoses soon, so that should take care of watering the potato patch. As of now I water it each morning but always fear I’m not giving it enough. I know that all the mushrooms we have blasting through the straw is a good indication that there is plenty of water being delivered, but sometimes I’m not so sure. I know that before we installed the weeper hoses around other parts of the garden, I think the plants were just kind of tolerating my presence.  I think I was giving them just enough water to stay alive, but now, the weepers deliver a constant drip for an hour to each plant. I can’t say that I ever stood in one place for an hour watering anything. At most, only a half hour is spent putting water in a newly prepared hole that is awaiting a tree or shrub planting.

Mushrooms blowing holes through the straw in the potato patch

Two weeks ago the mulberry trees were transplanted onto our property from a neighbor, click here to see the post, and the large mulberry tree is holding on for dear life. It still has juicy leaves and actually just started to form new buds. I think and hope it will make it! The odds were against these trees for several reasons…first, its always best to transplant or move an established tree in the winter during its dormancy, second, most of the roots system was removed from both trees, third, the large mulberry tree had a very large gash in the trunk where more than 1/2 of the bark came off. The tree is still holding on though. The smaller mulberry tree doesn’t have any juicy leaves at all, but I’m still holding my breath for it. Here is the smaller mulberry tree:

Desert Bird of Paradise is doing well and in bloom. I planted it in the courtyard to replace the apricot tree that never made it.

How many drakes do we have? Do you see Ferdinand? He is the one with the white spot on his head and the curled tail…but what do I see? Two more of what looks like the beginning of drake hood. So far, upon listening very carefully to their call sounds, I’ve counted five drakes so far, yet only three are starting to become more evident as they develop the curl in their tail. The females are getting VERY LOUD, and the males seem to have that soft hush to their voices. When we are sure of the sex, we’ll start naming more of them.

Poor Ugly Betty, all cooped up with her illegitimate children. LOL

My Weeping Hose Made Me Weep

Yesterday was a busy day with Paulownia trees seedlings coming, installing weeper hoses and attempting to get everything done.
I was cleaning the duck pen and temp duck house, Dom was connecting all the hoses together.

I was exhausted yesterday.

I must say that it was actually a thrilling experience to get up and turn on the weepers! It meant that I could weed, start to work on burying the hoses and tend to the ducklings.

Everything was going great until I stretched the wrong way while burying the lines and pulled my back out. My back was in so much pain I kept dosing off while Simmi was watching Shrek today.

After putting her in for a nap, I went to lay down myself, which didn’t help much. My weeping hoses made me weep today as I laid there in pain. I’m hoping tomorrow to get the last bit of weeper lines buried.

I also have been waking up at night worried about our mulberry trees. I find it particularly disturbing that I could sleep through bombs going off, drama in the family, my husband’s alarm going off at the ungodly hour of 3:00am but nothing will jolt me from a sleep faster than worrying about plants and trees.

What the hell is wrong with me? LOL I’m just so worried about these trees. I went through the same thing for each tree and plant that has been planted. Sometimes my sleep is so disturbed I just lay there because impulse would send me right outside to check on them…thank god it is really dark in the middle of the night and my flash light doesn’t have batteries!

Here are a few photos I took this afternoon in an effort to free myself from the guilt of not doing more today due to my back hurting…okay its not work but its something right?

Three days after being planted, the mulberry trees have gone into shock. Not surprising with a lot of its root system missing and bark missing from a good portion of the trunk. This is the tree that has been keeping me up at night.

The smaller mulberry tree is having the same shock issues. I’m glad the bark on this tree is in tact.

 

In the foreground is our pomegranate which made a glorious coming back and is now starting to flower again. In the beginning I had a love hate relationship with this pomm.

It went into shock, dropped leaves, had me up at night worried it wouldn’t make it, and I thought it was because I was watering it too much that it was dying. Turns out I wasn’t watering it enough! It has new growth, flowers coming and is a vibrant green again. I kept saying to myself, “I’m gonna do it my way, and if I kill it, I kill it!” The reason I was saying that was because everything I read online about pomegranates said NOT to water or fertilize. I’ve done both…every other day it gets watered, and I also fertilize it with duck water poop. Does it look dead to you?

Ugly Betty we love you darling! The way you look after the little ones is amazing. You have the patience of a saint my dear. I don’t know if I could handle two little chicks chasing after me all day, pecking at my eyes, knocking over my food, stealing my sleep, and charging me like a bull.

You are a great single mother at the ripe age of five weeks old! Even though you are really ugly right now, we’d love you just the same if you stayed this way. Fortunately you will grow to be a beautiful black sex link, and you will once again be called Betty Complex….here is what you will look like when you get older:

You will be queen of the courtyard! You and your two illegitimate chicks will enjoy the courtyard even though you’ll have to duck and weave around the likes of Simone. Yes she throws little pieces of paper at you, but its only because she loves to see you run and scurry. As I said before, you have the patience of a saint. Dare I say even more patience than most humans.

On another note (I know I’m all over the place today with my writing), the tall fescue forage seed, white clover and yellow clover finally all arrived.

I’ll be treating the grass and clover seeds with the following, which I copy and pasted from the website Fungi Perfecti…even though they didn’t pay me for this plug, I’m giving it. I rarely give links, but I believe whole heartedly in these products:

MycoGrow™ For Lawns
MycoGrow™ For Lawns contains spores of 4 different species of endomycorrhizal fungi, plus additional beneficial organisms for control of lawn-disease-related pathogens. Recommended application rate for lawns is 1.5–2 pounds per 1000 square feet. Can be applied during lawn installation or aeration. Sold in one pound increments.
Note: this product cannot be shipped to Hawaii.

Contains concentrated spore mass of the following:
Endomycorrhizal fungi Glomus intraradices, Glomus mosseae, Glomus aggregatum, Glomus etunicatum
Trichoderma Trichoderma harzianum, Trichoderma konigii
Other Ingredients Kelp, humic and fulvic acids, vitamins, and amino acids

This is also from Paul Stamets site (He’s one of my hero’s!)

The term mycorrhizal comes from the Greek words mykes, meaning fungus, and rhiza, meaning root. Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that have developed a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the root systems of living plants, from garden vegetables all the way up to the trees of the Old Growth forests. Networks of mycorrhizal filaments envelop the seedling’s root structure, supporting the plant’s own ability to utilize water and nutrients in the soil. This relationship encourages healthy, vigorous growth—naturally.

Comparison of Plants
Local Puget Sound organic farmer John Moss performed an experiment with his crop of onions, treating one bed with MycoGrow™ to see how it would compare to his other beds. The results were impressive!

Fungi Perfecti’s MycoGrow™ products are designed for everyone from the home gardener/landscaper to the professional forestry manager, promoting faster growth, speeding transplant recovery and reducing the need for fertilizers and other additives. A number of different formulations are available, for all methods of plant cultivation.

(Please note: the mushroom species in our MycoGrow™ mycorrhizal fungus products have been selected for their speed of growth and maximum potential benefit to plants; they are neither gourmet nor medicinal mushrooms. While these species are not toxic or dangerous in any way, they are nonetheless not intended for human consumption.)

Our MycoGrow™ products contain mushroom species that are approved for use throughout the continental United States and Canada. However, our customers in Hawaii should be aware that they are not permitted in the state of Hawaii. We encourage all international customers to check their countries’ import regulations prior to ordering.

Betty Complex Has a New Attitude

Betty Complex, our Black Sex Link chick that is at most maybe four weeks old, has become mother hen to the new Ameracaunas.
As you can see to the left, both chicks have tucked themselves up under Betty Complex.

I noticed earlier in the day that she was extending her wings while laying down and I thought maybe, just maybe her instinct was taking over and she was inviting the young chicks over to rest under her wings.

Yup! It happened tonight. We brought the chicks in today since it was over 100 degrees again, but then the new chicks had to contend with the air conditioning.

They did very well in the brooder, but we found out that by the end of the night, no brooder is necessary when we have a young female affectionate enough to warm chicks that don’t even belong to her.

Betty Complex isn’t much bigger than the Ameracaunas, but she has settled into her new role as “mother hen” rather quickly. She is an excellent companion for them.

Vicki gave Betty Complex the title “15 and Pregnant”. I blurted out “I swear I’m a virgin, I don’t know where these babies came from!” Looking at Betty Complex does seem like some bizarre After School TV Special. LOL It just looks so strange to see a young chick taking responsibility so young.

Well, I’m not going to complain about it that’s for sure…its just super sweet to see. Yesterday when my dad brought the chicks here, Betty Complex was up on the rim of the duck pool.

Ya think she was contemplating her future without Pinkie? Ya think she was thinking of joining her in the afterlife, or was Betty Complex really starting to get confused about whether she was a duck or a chick?

In the video we took of her she was peeping so loud for the ducks that I think it is possible we might have lost Betty Complex in the next few days due to another drowning incident. From now on, no chicks in the duck pen!

I’m really glad that we got the ducks first before getting a large number of chicks. Ducks are really GROSS and at the same time the cutest things ever. They can’t help it if they seem to be pooping 24/7.  They are growing rapidly, eat over two pounds of feed per day and drink almost 4 1/2 gallons of water per day.

I’m talking about putting them to bed at night and when I take them out in the morning, their waterer is almost empty. The waterer is a three gallon capacity. My estimations on how much water they drink may be a bit low since during the day half the water is gone from the waterer AND they have been in the pool drinking that water as well. Anyway, as I was saying, I’m glad we got the ducks first.

Chicks are way easier to care for, grow at a slower rate, are more calm, and generally are not such gross little creatures. They definitely don’t stink up the pen or eat like it was their last meal. If we would have gotten all the chicks (the minimum order is 25 for the breed we want) and THEN gotten the ducks, I would have pulled my hair out! I’m glad it happened this way.

I love our ducks and it has given me the ultimate courage to take on any other kind of animal (big or small), single or herd. I’ve had to take care of 500 head of dairy cows everyday, so I’m not sure why I thought it would be super difficult to care for multiple flocks of animals. I guess I just didn’t want to over commit before I had a chance to settle into a new routine with each kind of animal we have here.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be working on the pond and hopefully we’ll get it filled by August. The duck house will be made after the pond is filled. We don’t plan on letting the ducks into the pond until all the aquatic plants are somewhat established, the bog system is working properly and the pond is stocked with some fish. All this takes time. No point in rushing through and doing a piss poor mediocre job! I want it done right and with excellence, especially since the pond will be gracing the front of our home.

Well, its 5:38am and the sun is just starting to create a pink blush in sky…its time to go and water everything.

Thanks for Reading!