Greenhouse Update

So the dog and the husband are into their physical therapy.  Basil had her second back (right) knee reconstructed.  She is doing fine but because she thinks she is all  better we need to keep her on a leash so she doesn’t go tear-assing after bunnies and blow out her new joint.  Dad has been in physical therapy for the past couple of months trying to get his sacroiliac joint to unfreeze and to get he muscles to quit trying go clamp down and render him crippled.  It’s getting better but it is oh so painful.

In addition, we are working on getting our house in the shitty ready for sale.  We have a bathroom that needs to be re-done and they start on Monday.  This project costs more than the entire greenhouse setup.  Me thinks contractors are shysters.  Oh well, once we get this done, Zina is going apartment hunting for a place for us to hole up in the city for work.  Having the burden of two places to upkeep while both of us work and a son who is in college is just too much.  It will be a welcome relief.

Here is a video update of the greenhouse.  Considering that we are dealing with a plague of grasshoppers this year, it looks like we will still have a harvest worthy of Colorado homesteaders.  Our freezers are completely filled with meat because of the chickens and pigs we’ve processed, so all of our produce must either be eaten, canned or dehydrated.  Usually this time of year we make a trip to Munson Farm in Boulder to get a bunch of sweet corn to freeze and use for the year… this year we simply don’t have room so it looks like when we need corn we will use what we have left or go to Whole Foods to buy organic.

So all is going well.   The dog is healing up, my hip is doing much better though not perfect.  My most recent mental melt down is being treated and it appears that all will right itself with work (I was convinced it wouldn’t).  So whatever you do, whatever you fill your time with, enjoy the adventure.  After all…. what else is there?

It’s Always An Adventure!

So the month of July again has proven to be very busy.  Between work and homesteading, a kid who was brought down at work with heat stroke, and a dog that just had her other back knee operated on, its a wonder any of us sleep!  Basil is doing well.   We finally had to have her knee fixed because she was yelping when she put pressure on it.  She is my wonderful companion, but like anything in life she is also a money pit. Aaron had to stop his summer construction job this week because he was about to stroke out from the 100 degree desert heat.  Maybe next year he’ll get off of his butt and find something a little less demanding to do for the summer.  This job is pretty grueling.  He was down in foundation pits waterproofing concrete.

The garden has once again thrown us some curve balls.  The cucumbers are producing but they look like they are on the edge of death.  They have some kind of bacterial wilt and they literally went from beautiful green to dry and crispy over night.  The tomatoes and peppers are going to town along with the Tomatillos.  Our Blueberry and Blackberry bush experiments look like they are doing well too.

The problem this year has been a biblical plague of grasshoppers!!  They are destroying our beans and have eaten lots of holes in the potato plants.  They are leaving the tomatoes alone but are having a free for all with the herbs.  We tried a solution I researched that has you put all purpose flour on the plants.  The grasshoppers eat it, it turns to library paste in their mouths and they starve and die.  It appears to have had some effect but the garden is just too large to be able to do it on that scale.  Tomorrow is the battle of the grasshopper battalions.  Going to be weed whipping, spraying insecticide and all manner of combat tactics!  I have been injured for a couple of months and haven’t had the energy or desire to get out on a daily basis.  Now that I’m feeling more human, the garden warrior has awakened!

The two issues we face out here on the grasslands are weeds that grow while you are watching them, and this year, the hoppers from hell.  Zina and I have decided that we will need to find some other remedies than hours and hours on our hands and knees weeding.  For that we are going to start loading in piles of straw to make ground cover to help suppress the weeds.  I will also look in to somehow getting a semi load of wood chips brought in.

What we did notice this morning while out weeding is that the hoppers seem to live in the tall weeds during the day and come out and feast at night.  The entire perimeter of the garden is tall weeds:  Kochia, Lamb’s Quarter, Goat Head, and Amaranth.  We are going to spray (organically – an herbicide called Avenger) to kill these back to hopefully deprive the little demons from hiding places.  From there we will likely use something like BT to kill the insects.  If we have to we may have to resort to using some glyphosate around the perimeter but that would be as a very last resort.

However!  We have carrots, onions, beets, melons and squash all doing great!  Gardening has so many variables that each year is a different adventure.  It is, though, hard to not think you failed, when a crop or two goes south.  We just keep reminding ourselves that we are just feeding ourselves.  When you’ve tried this on a large scale you gain a tremendous amount of respect for those who try to do this for a living.

We successfully got our two huge pigs off to the processor this month as well.  Zina did a fantastic job getting them trained to get their treats from the trailer.  On loading day she just put the bucket on the trailer and on they went.  The biggest, Ruby, weighed in at 550 lbs.  We haven’t heard yet on the second but she will be close to that as well.  The freezers will be full again as we processed all of our meat chickens two weeks ago.  There will be pretty close to 700 lbs of meat in the basement.  Reason yet again why we added battery back up to the solar system.

So here are pictures of the melons and squash.  I also attached a video showing just how much we aren’t kidding about these damned hoppers!  Hard to believe its almost August!

Squash and Melons 1Squash and Melons 2Squash and Melons 3Squash and Melons 4Squash and Melons 5

Happy 4th of July!!

The relatives have come and gone.  The house is quiet again.  We had great fun with the Olsen family and hope they return again to play with the critters.  The chickens got fed and held, the pigs got extra treats and ear rubs, and the garden, of course, got weeded again. They heard coyotes yipping for the first time, saw birds, goats, cows, heard Meadowlark song, saw some fireworks, and even encountered a small bull snake while out for a walk.  The coyotes must have been in pretty close last night because out by the corral fence lay a not so “lively” rabbit.  It looked like it had not been dead for very long either. It is always such fun to show farm life to people who really haven’t been exposed to it.  It makes answering the questions all that much more fun.  I think that if niece Jessica could have smuggled one of the teenage chicks into her suitcase we would be minus one birdie right now!

Zina shot two videos of the garden progress; one of the big storage garden and one of the greenhouse.  She did forget that it is ok to speak but the footage speaks for itself!  The cucumbers are looking a little droopy but that’s because she did the video at 3:30 in the afternoon in 95 degree heat.  We even have cucumbers ready to be picked!

Next weekend is freezer camp time for the broiler chickens.  For some strange reason we couldn’t get the niece and her folks to stick around for that…. weird.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

 

The Greenhouse is Flourishing.

Today my sister-in-law, her husband and my niece came to visit.  It is so gratifying to have relatives come and see what we have been up to.  They got to make friends with the pigs, gather eggs, see the meat birds, hold the new layer babies, and tour the gardens.  They are on their way to a church retreat in Colorado Springs and stopped by after a very early flight from Detroit.

We toured the greenhouse and the cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers are all fruiting!  Even the Tomatillos.  We are going to have boat loads of cherry tomatoes and it appears that the big slicing tomatoes are well on their way!

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My Father’s Day Gift

My son took the Phantom drone with the GoPro and did a 2016 early summer update of the farm.  The garden is in and the endless battle with the weeds has commenced.  We are staying ahead of it and the rains have stopped so we may get the upper hand.  I have had numerous requests for flyovers on You Tube so Aaron was nice enough to take the helm and then edit it together (something I know nothing about).

You will see that the farmer across the road came over and began plowing up the back 30 acres.  The green patch on the right is a drainage area that turns into quite a swamp and mosquito nursery when it rains.  It’s not really fit for canoeing (haha!).  It is fun though when it does flood because the toads out here that go dormant until it gets wet, come out and start chirping like a huge choir.

The outdoor garden is planted with 2 kinds of melons, 3 kinds of winter squash, carrots, onions, red onions, beets, 2 kinds of potatoes, black beans, white beans, string beans, sweet potatoes, and asparagus.  The greenhouse has 7 kinds of peppers, 5 kinds of tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, marjoram,  tarragon, tomatillos, and chives.  We added blueberry and blackberry plants outside of the greenhouse this year as well.

I have been laid up with a couple of issues after having shoveled some 6 tons of compost onto the garden you will see in the clip below.  The muscle relaxers have helped but they make me feel pretty loopy.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the video.  JAZ Farm is now in maintenance mode.  It was great to see my mom and sister the last couple of weeks.  Now we look forward to the arrival of Zina’s sister, brother-in-law and niece over the 4th of July weekend.

Thanks for all of your interest and thanks for following along!

The Tractor Is Coming To Save Us On Taxes!

So the neighbor farmer across the road lived up to his billing.  Today after we sent my mom and sister back from whence they came, we got home to see the big John Deere discing up our back thirty.  What a relief.  We have enough to concern ourselves with than having to wonder what to do with the big back field in order to not have to pay residential taxes on 40 acres.  We are also going to use the proceeds of the land lease and pay it back to them so they will mow our front 10 acres in order to have some fire suppression when all of the “cheat” grass dries up.  That stuff turns to a flash fire hazard as soon as their seeds dry.

So thanks again to my mother for all of her help planting, especially when I hurt my back.  Note to self:  one need not rake and till the compost in on the big garden all in one day.  Sincerely, your smarter self…. idiot.

It was so great to have my sister here to see the farm for the first time as well.  We had to be very watchful of her to make sure she didn’t steal my dog!  They hit it off pretty good and Basil is now looking around wondering where everyone went.

So the field is plowed, the gardens are planted, the animals are all doing quite well too.  I’ll post a picture later but we hooked up our fifth wheel’s solar charger to an inverter out by the broiler’s chicken tractor and plugged in a fan to help keep them cool.  As I type it is around 90 degrees.  Gotta keep the critters comfortable!

 

We Did It!!

Everything happens the last weekend in May and the first week of June.  The goal is to get the gardens planted by the first week of June and Jon, Zina, Grandma and Aaron did it!  The drip irrigation is all hooked up on both the big root garden and the greenhouse and surrounding beds. They are all on timers and will come on early in the morning and mid evening until the seedlings are all up and established.  After that, depending on the heat factor, we will probably go back to just mornings.

The broilers are also now out in their chicken tractor and that seems to be THE way to go.  By moving it the length of itself each day the birds get to have clean grass to live on and it avoids the problems of having to constantly clean up after them like one does with a cat litter box.  We put up an electric poultry net around it to keep the neighbor dogs, our dog, the barn cats, and the coyotes and foxes away from them.  All in all, if you are going to raise chickens for meat and want to do it on grass, this is the best bet.

Chicks in the Tractor 2016 2chicks in the tractor 2016 3chicks in the tractor 2016

So we are all exhausted.  I did manage to wrench my back pretty badly so now I’m forced to lay flat until these muscles loosen up.  That’s the penalty for farming in your 50’s I guess.  Grandma was a trooper too.  We just had wine and griped about our aches and pains afterward!  But the major projects are done!

We even had the farmer from across the road come over and ask to farm our back 30.  This will save us a ton on property taxes and also help kind of rebuild the soil.  It will be nice to have the land used in a more sustainable way as he uses a “no tilling” method.  The first year it needs to be plowed and disced but after that there will be a rotation of 4 crops and a fallow year in the 5th.  He will begin by planting Wheat then Milo, then Millet, then Sunflowers.  I am looking forward to a field full of big yellow flowers!

Here is the most recent You Tube update.  Thanks for stopping by!