The Wheat Field

Oh ya, almost forgot.  Our newly planted spring wheat field is GROWING!!  The plot is 70 x 50.  Half is Alfalfa.  It is a legume that helps bring nitrogen to the soil.  Once grown we will til it under and it will be come compost.  This is known as cover-cropping or green manuring.  It is a way to re-build the health of the soil.  Next year we will plant the wheat where the Alfalfa was and vice versa.  Next up is to til up another patch similar to this one in order to grow dent corn for corn meal and chicken feed.  Its working!!!



Itty Bitty Alfalfa:


All The Accommodations In The Pigatorium Are Finished

In anticipation of the 3 Little Pigs arriving this week we finished putting in the wallow.  Pigs don’t sweat and the reason for them slopping around in mud is to keep them cool.  We are already up to 80 degrees in the very early spring and Zina and I have been out gardening in well over 100 F.  So this morning we fitted the tractor with the middle buster and dredged up the dirt and made a place for about a 10 x 10 mud hole.  We are going to run a sprinkler into the middle of it that we can simply turn on when necessary to keep it sloppy muddy and cool.  In addition to the shelter, and the shade gazebo they should be all set.

Because we are running an electrified wire around the perimeter of the pen, we had to pull, knock down and weed whip all of the grass down around the fence.  The wire will be only about a foot off the ground to keep the pigs from trying to uproot the fencing and if enough of the weeds contact the wire it will short to the ground and become ineffective.  Zina had the sickle out and I got on the weed eater.  All seems to be set.

One brain malfunction.  I dug up the wallow with the plow on the back of the tractor and then set about shoveling out the dirt. I wanted to make sides on it to kind of keep the water in the “pool” for them.  About a third of the way along it dawned on me that the tractor is fitted with a front end loader.  Why the hell was I out there with a shovel?  About 10 minutes later the little tractor that could had the whole thing completed.  Bring on the pigs, bring on the greenhouse!

The hotel, gazebo and hot tub!  IMG_3907

Waterers and FeedersIMG_3908

Farmer Juan wiped out laying at the foot of the manure pileIMG_3912

But but but, that pen looks nicer than MINE!!IMG_3917

Uh Oh! Rooster Alert!

As the new chicks grow up their adult features are starting to show.  We always opt to receive a “mystery bird” from our hatchery when we order new babies.  The first was a rooster and he has turned into a fine specimen.  The second was a female Ameracauna and has turned into a fine layer of blue eggs.  This time around we thought we had a Jersey Giant or Australorp female but looking now at the adult photos against our own we may have ourselves another rooster.  That simply can’t happen.  So we will be keeping our eye out on this one.  Very pretty bird but the thought of 4 roosters again is simply too much.  They are noisy as all get out.  Well….. we always need chicken stock.

IMG_3936 IMG_3926 IMG_3925 IMG_3921

Burning Out

I sat musing today after once again wielding power tools, building something that should have been simple but wasn’t, how hard it is to get off the ground anymore.  Prior to this place, I built out the landscaping and urban farm in the city.  Thousands of pounds of rock, lumber and topsoil was moved.  Of course I was ten years younger then and it didn’t feel nearly as painful.  I also recovered a lot faster.  2 and 1/3 years have passed since we bought JAZ Farm.  It was a total mess and I remember sitting on the front porch wondering if I had the physical stamina to actually make this place into what it has become.  I will likely take on the project to install the rainwater harvesting tanks but other than that, when this greenhouse is built, I HAVE to stop with all this heavy shit.  The question of the day isn’t, “are you sore from all the work?” which of course the answer is yes, but rather, “are you NOT in pain today?”  The answer is invariably NO!!

This is what it has taken to build the temple.  My hips are dust, my knees ache constantly and my right shoulder is beat senseless from hauling everything from chicken feed, to fence posts, to bags of concrete.  Every weekend for over 2 years! I haven’t shot my bow in years and my telescope is calling my name.

What keeps me going is the vision of being able to wake up and make breakfast with eggs from our hens, onions, peppers and potatoes from our garden, brew my morning coffee and wander out and walk through the greenhouse, sitting for awhile enjoying the green around me.  I’d eventually move on, taking some time to sit and watch the chickens before doing some weeding in the outdoor garden.  I long to be able to get out my telescope and look forward to a night of observing rather than wondering if I can even stay awake until sunset and then giving it all up before I even get started.  In short, I want to be done with the construction and simply be here with our homestead – our temple to right living and all that being self-sustaining can mean in this day and age.

Sure there will always be projects or repairs needing to be done but they can be hired out, or done over longer periods of time than the whirlwind we have undertaken since December of 2012.  We are so proud of this place and everything it has become and what it represents but I am burned out.  I don’t WANT to learn a new construction skill.  I don’t WANT to have to read up on every disease a pig can get or how to tension a fence, or fight with suppliers of greenhouses, top soil, seed drillers, and all contractors that say they will do something and not show.  I want to wake up and think, I’m going to go walk around Eden.  After I do that…. who knows.   The day is coming soon.  2 more months of hard work and then the rest will become more normal.  Solar panels to go off grid – somebody else.  Install a wood stove – somebody else.  Hook up rainwater harvesting cisterns – yours truly.  Replace the shower kits – after having replaced the toilets and sinks myself – somebody else.  Its time to let JAZ Farm produce what it was designed to produce – peace, produce, pigs and poultry.  Amen

Squash and Such 2014 IMG_3584 IMG_3742 IMG_3744 photo-3 Ash tree 2014  IMG_3568 IMG_3556 IMG_3552

The New Girls About Ready to Meet the Experienced Girls

The new chicks went out into the coop last week after living under the seedling tables for 2 weeks.  They need about one more week of growth and acclimatization so when the non-fenced meeting happens and the re-establishment of the pecking order commences they won’t get beaten up too badly.  Because nothing is easy, we have to round them up into dog crates on the eve of their introduction and wait for the big girls to go to bed on the roosts.  At night, when the adults are sleeping, the theory is to introduce them into the sleeping quarters while everyone is asleep.  When the adults wake up and because chickens are stupid, there is supposed to be much less upheaval than if we simply open the gate and let them in together.  We shall see.  There are already a couple of the new ones that could put some serious whoopass on some of the older girls.  If nothing else it will be entertaining!

newbies on the perch 1 newbies on the perch 2 New girls outside 2 2015 Dot 2015 IMG_3887 IMG_3883 IMG_3849 IMG_3882 IMG_3869

Everything Always Happens At Once

So not only did we get confirmation that the greenhouse has shipped, our feed store also tracked down some pigs for us.  It has been quite an ordeal and I had kind of written it off.  There is a very serious disease infecting pigs across the country and it did in the first litter we had reservations for.  Not wanting to lose an organic feed order, our feed supply store tracked down 3 weaners and they are delivering them next Wednesday!  We are hurrying to finish up the pen and are saving up our back to unload 2000 lbs of feed into our basement as well.  Other than the electric wire to keep them from tearing up the fences we are done.  Bring on the porkers!

Pig feeder 2015       Pig condo 2015

T minus one week!


T minus 5 months!!


The Greenhouse is shipping the Greenhouse is shipping!!

After many months and much frustration the greenhouse is coming in sections next week!  I took a chance and ordered in the compost for the outdoor beds and the topsoil for the greenhouse beds and emailed these pictures to the manufacturer.  The day of the soil delivery we got an email letting us know that the greenhouse plastic and hardware will arrive early next week and the frame a couple of days behind!  I am rounding up able bodied humans (my son and a friend of his) to come assemble the frame over Easter weekend.  It will be such a relief to have this thing out of my hair and useable!  Was worried we would end up in court because that was going to be my final straw!  Between the compost and topsoil the total order was 60 yards.  Just remember the next time you are at The Home Depot buying that little bag of compost that it is a gateway purchase.  It could end up like this!

compost 1 2015    compost 2 2015


After having to absolutely berate the guys building our greenhouse I got a commitment to have the thing here at the end of March (with an added 8 feet to the length).  Thats about a week from now.  Hoping it will be here so we can build it in April.  The plants will have to have someplace to go in May so they had better be on schedule.  I am still very excited about its arrival but this has been the worst purchasing experience I’ve been through in a long time.  He will be getting an email from me tomorrow explaining that the 30 tons of top soil and 30 tons of compost arrive TOMORROW and the raised bed boxes have been built.  If he can’t deliver as promised I have an attorney who has volunteered to call to scare the crap out of him.  We expected this by January 1st.  We ordered it two weeks before Thanksgiving 2014.  No more nice.  Get it here or get sued.

Indoor 200- 2:2015 Seedlings 2015 IMG_0011 Greenhouse

Barn Stars

After months of them sitting in the living room we put up our barn stars.  They are 40 inches across and looked pretty big.  Of course taking them into the big out of doors, the fence swallowed em.  I think they still look pretty nice though!


Pigs On Hold

The poor piggies!  There is a virus of some sort that has come in from China (figures) that is decimating hogs here in the US.  It causes some sort of diarrhea which causes the pigs to become dehydrated and die.  We had assumed, wrongly, that it was mostly confined to industrial CAFO production.  It turns out that it is very pervasive.  Homestead flocks are getting wiped out as well.  The breeder we were going to use for our 3 little pigs had a litter of eleven and they all died.  Most of the Craig’s List breeders don’t have any either.  Even the pigs being bred for show that 4H kids buy are dropping like flies.  I have several messages in to some potential suppliers but it will be a crap shoot.  So we have the waterers, the feeders, the electric fence, the pen built and the shelter that damn near killed me, but no pigs.  Not a big problem as it has made the spring work a bit less than anticipated.  We will just take them as we can get them.  But for now, hopefully the vets can get a handle on this thing.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, Globalization sucks m’kay.

IMG_3893 Pig pen