The Storms Here Are Pretty Entertaining!

Wow THAT was COOL!! A thunderstorm built up and is moving over us but the squal line is LITERALLY right across the road. It was raining like hell at the farm across the road but not a drop here! It has since started to rain some but for awhile it was raining right across the street and not here. See something new everyday!

>>> About 15 minutes later:

And after the storm, a complete double rainbow from end to end.  Pretty amazing!

Trying Something New

WordPress doesn’t seem to want me to be able to post videos unless I upgrade to a new and fancier blogging package.  Aint happenin’.  Maybe I’ll need to have my kid teach me how to upload to You Tube or other such infernal techno-wizardry.  But for now I’m going to try to see if I can link videos from my Facebook page.  You have to be a Facebook subscriber I guess, but it will take you to the link.  You don’t have to “friend” me, in fact, if you are hypersensitive I would suggest that you don’t.  my Facebook page is where I kind of let my hair down.  So lets see if this works.  Here are a couple of links to videos of the pigs, the garden and our newest menagerie of egg layer and broiler chickens.

Another Project Almost Done!

Yet another project almost completed. 1200 feet of Lumite laid down with 600 pins. The grass and weeds and BINDWEED out on the prairie have eyes and search for unsuspecting vegetables, delicate plants and small children. This should keep it out of the walkways. Not to mention the awful, devil incarnate goat head thorns! Our “bottom” two beds are the wettest because the garden is on a slight slope. Zina pulled buckets of bind weed out this morning. Now hopefully we will be able to stay on top of it now that most of the torrential spring rains have subsided. Whoosh it was hot!

It is starting to feel like the JAZ Farm is getting more and more completed.  We signed our life away this past Friday and are having a Solar Array put up.  This isn’t a completely off grid system but it has a battery back up.  The power company becomes a back up system as well and will provide us electricity when the sun isn’t shining very brightly or if we use more power than the panels produce (not likely).  If the grid goes down the panels keep the room of batteries charged up.  Out here this is important.  With all of the chicken and pork going into freezers and the fact that our well pump is electric, this system will keep us from losing our food and also ensure that we have water available.

In addition, I will be installing water harvesting tanks to catch water from the roof for irrigation, drinking and providing water to the greenhouse….. which by the way…. is actually HERE!  Now that the Lumite is done (there is some that we need to wait until the fall to lay because we can’t disturb the beds and the pathways are fairly narrow) I can start eyeballing the greenhouse and get the frames assembled.  It isn’t the full length we agreed to during the 8 month fiasco that was the wait time, but we did get the original length and upgraded steel.

Lumite Weeded beans

Lumite Is A Gardner’s Best Friend

So after all of the torrential rains of May through the first part of June we are now having our first heat wave of the year.  Expecting a high of 96 and we are already pretty close to it.  The noonday sun drove us indoors after about a 3 1/2 hour work session.  It is definitely one of those days where you can drink a gallon of tea and not pee.

Everything is coming up in the gardens, the young laying hens are now starting to lay many eggs, the meat birds have gone out into the outdoor coop, and the pigs are slopping around in the wallow.

Of course, the vegetables aren’t the only things that like the good growing conditions.  The weeds have turned it up a notch and the prairie grasses could win an award for tenacity.  Son Aaron headed back to the Shitty early because the blooming grasses were wreaking havoc on his allergies.  Trying to keep the grass cut back is like trying to defend a castle from invasion.  That’s one of the big reasons we are considering cows.  Lawn mowers that create compost…. the best of all worlds.

Today we started laying down the Lumite weed barrier in the garden walkways.  It is all is being nailed down with 12 inch nails that have washers on them so the fabric doesn’t tear.  So far it looks pretty promising.  If it can keep some of the bindweed and goat-heads from invading, the garden will be a much easier place to be.  If you’ve never had the pleasure of goat-heads count your blessings.  They are evil awful things that are like stepping on or sitting on staples.

After the Lumite is all down then work will begin in earnest on assembling the greenhouse.  Yes it arrived.  It was the worst purchasing experience of our lives.  He didn’t honor his commitment of adding an additional 8 feet to compensate us for our patience and he claims he shipped some Hat Channel steal that is needed to square everything up and it did not arrive.  He is a rude, awful individual, and I am no longer going to fight it.  I need to re-find my Zen space and a continued fight with a person who can only be classified as an immature narcissist, is no longer in my quiver.  If you are ever in the market for a greenhouse, avoid Greenhouse Pro’s at any and all cost.

We go and meet with the Solar Panel folks this coming Friday. They are local, I can look them in the eye. Hopefully this experience will be a bit more positive and timely than the greenhouse was.

The Corn is coming up!


The Lumite weed barrier!  YAY!


The new sages and their swale.


The Next Stages Are Set To Begin!


So after two weeks, the gardens at both places are in!  As of this morning all of the direct seed vegetables have all come up.  We are anxiously waiting to see if the corn field will start to sprout.  It has had some good soaking so I am sure we will see results soon.

The pigs are becoming more active and inquisitive every day.  They have discovered the wallow and the compost heap and are loving to get muddy and root around in the pile of … well … pile.

The new round of meat birds have gotten to the rollie pollie stage and we are getting the outdoor coop ready to have them for the next month.  The newest layer hens have started laying their little pullet eggs.  They are much smaller than the mature hen’s eggs but it is a way to see that they have started laying at all.  The rooster that attacked my mom hit her so hard he either sprained or broke his own leg.  It appears that his days may be numbered – not paying vet bills for a rooster.

We finally got the good news that the last parts for the greenhouse have shipped.  Some year I’ll have time to build it, but it will be so nice to be rid of this whole nightmare of a purchase.  I assume that I will do a bunch of the assembly work over the 4th of July weekend.  Some of the hours I have available for farm work will likely be curtailed somewhat because of real work and some volatility in our sturdy ol’ markets.

The exciting part is that we have kind of mapped out the last of the real major projects that will take the JAZ Farm to the level we want for infrastructure.  It is my hope in retirement to be able to have enough production that the cost of the farming and food production will pay for itself:  We would sell eggs and pork and organic veggies and chickens, and maybe beef.   So in anticipation of that end we had some issues to prioritize.

As of today these are the projects will be going forward with:

1.  We are having the place seed drilled with Dry Prairie Grass and Alfalfa.  This will give us the ability to graze animals for both meat and fertilizer.  Once growing, we will likely have the back half hayed and stored for winter feeding.  It is my conviction that as long as we have this place there will never be another herbicide like Roundup or 2,4 – D sprayed here again.  The conventional way to re-seed a field is to spray Roundup on the whole place to kill the weeds.  Then they disc the whole thing and seed drill the bare ground.  In keeping with the work of Wes Jackson and Joel Salatin and the entire Permaculture movement, this is going to be a no till operation.  The driller will go over the existing weeds.  As it plants it will use the knocked down plants as a cover crop and a mulch.  That will help to keep the seed from blowing away and help to keep moisture down in the ground so the seeds can take hold.

2.  Once the seeding is done I am going to be fencing in 4 to 5 acre paddocks so that we can rotationally graze and not run the risk of over grazing.  Here on the high Plains over grazing turns land into desserts. We will be working to rebuild a lot of the soil and use cows and goats to help with that task.

3.  The biggest event that will happen in 2015 is that JAZ Farm is going electricity independent!  We are contracting to have a ground mounted 6.5 Kwh solar system with a battery back up installed.  This will be a grid tied system but it has a battery back up in the event of power outages so that we can ensure that we have our well pumping and our freezers freezing.  It isn’t completely off grid but it’s mighty close.  We are looking to see at some point what it would take to take the place completely off the grid but that is for another time.  This is a great thing.  We can run our air conditioning in the summer and run the grow lamps in the spring and not have an electricity bill.

4.  Next in line as the fields establish their new grass will be to put up a livestock barn.

5.  Once the greenhouse is built and operational and the Lumite is laid down on the walkways in the garden (for weed suppression) then I start on the fence building, adding a gutter to the coop for rain water collection, and also starting the rainwater harvesting system on the house and the garage.  I’ll be putting a 55 gallon water barrel on the coop and then have plans for 4 – 1100 gallon above ground cisterns.  If we can fill these in the spring we could conceivably water the garden and greenhouse beds the whole summer.  Not to mention being able to filter the water for consumption.

6.  Lastly (ya right),  in order to cut down significantly on propane usage we will be installing a wood burning stove in the basement.  Solar or on demand hot water may be next and that would virtually eliminate our propane usage.

Once these projects are completed JAZ Farm will be declared complete.  There is  always something, and it is sure to arise, but from there we will have the ability to raise our own organic vegetables – and when planted – apples.  We can grow our own dent corn and wheat.  We will be able to  raise our own chickens and turkeys for both for eggs and meat, Keep our own grazing animals, continue to raise pigs, and also be able to put up our own hay.  It can be done almost all off grid and with a certain amount of water security that homesteads in this part of the world are going to need.  Quite a year once again. Looks like we have the next couple of years worth of projects mapped out. All in addition to the daily chores, our real jobs, a kid in school …  A lot to get done before all the veggies need harvesting!

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Our Chickens For The Next Year

Our newest layers have been growing and becoming a part of the larger flock.  It is so picturesque to see them free ranging around while we are out doing chores.  A couple of the bigger breeds have started laying small pullet eggs and we expect most to be laying regularly in the next couple of weeks (they usually start when they are around 22 weeks old).  Our mystery bird included with the batch this time is another rooster.  We call him Jersey because he is a Jersey Giant breed.  He will replace a nuisance rooster who we are now calling stew.  He attacked my mother and gave her an unbelievable bruise on her leg.  She was opening a corral gate for me to get the tractor through.  The rooster was near the gate with her ladies and grandma was a stranger and a threat.  He got his hackles up and spurred into her shin.  It was a direct hit.  Its a good thing it was through jeans otherwise I suspect we would have been taking a trip to the hospital!


The layers taking turns in the nesting boxes

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Our newest 50 broiler chicks growing up very fast!

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Now We Really Feel Like Farmers

In order to get the pigs to the processor we have to have some means of transportation.  So Craig’s List and I got acquainted.  I was able to find this trailer for pretty cheap just up the road from our house in town.  We figure we will be using it quite a bit over the years.  We are considering raising our own pigs, so transporting them in a trailer would be quite convenient.


And to make sure that everyone knows that we have completely lost our minds, we are also considering other livestock as well.  We need a reliable source of compost as well as some herbivores to help keep this place mowed down.  We are a huge grass field and sometimes it can feel like it is completely over-taking us.  A family cow will produce up to 15,000 pounds of manure per year.  Goats can graze down virtually any weed patch in no time flat.  So we are contemplating putting up a livestock barn to house them both.  We aren’t much into dairy so we don’t think we will be doing it for that purpose (plus, unless I retire, I can’t be here everyday for the daily milking that has to be done).  So basically we need poopers and lawn mowers.  This will mean a lot of fence building though.  Stay tuned!


The Greenhouse Continues to Trickle In

So the saga continues with the greenhouse.  About a month or so ago we got the plastic for the greenhouse.  Then more delays.  I reported them to the BBB and also sent copies of all the documents and texts that had been exchanged to my attorney.  This, of course, didn’t make the builder very happy but being the customer and we are into month 8 of what was supposted to be a 7 week delivery schedule, I figured I had been more than patient.

3 weeks ago, the roof corners and peaks arrived via Old Dominion.  Because it was so wet and our ground turns into brown snot when it is wet, we ended up unloading about 500 pounds of steel off the semi and into the bed of my pickup.  From there I drove it to the build site and unloaded it again!  I must be made of some seriously tough stuff because everything I do seems to be heavier than it should have to be.

So the peaks and corners have been sitting there awhile now.  The next tracking number arrived and Old Dominion was able to get the truck onto the property this time.  They arrived in the middle of a Tornado warning and I was a bit worried that the driver was going to be with us in our basement for awhile.  The Phd’s at the loading dock put the joists, door framing, and trusses all in the nose of the trailer – all 1200 lbs of it!  The also didn’t give the driver a skid jack with long enough forks to lift it up to roll it to the door.  Also, while in transit, the skid itself failed.  The 10 foot 2×4’s running the length of the skid were completely broken.  The driver and I jacked it up as high as possible and then heave hoed the whole thing the length of the trailer.  We couldn’t use the lift gate because it was too long.  So once again, we offloaded all of the steel by hand and I spent the next morning sorting it into lengths.

OH WAIT THERE”S MORE!  We have one more skid coming.  This will contain the ground railings, the caulking, the rebar ground anchors, and all of the screws.  It is now closing in on the middle of June.  It was supposed to be here the middle to end of January.  I had planned – once more – to build it over the 4th of July weekend.  I do NOT know if that will happen.  I sure hope I get to use it in the fall.  Pretty ironic that it was delivered in the awful Colorado spring weather  –  as it was supposed to be set up to help us get THROUGH that weather.  This has been the single worst purchasing experience of my life.  It looks like it is going to be one stout critter, but I will never ever work with this guy again.

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Christmas Ham Is Progressing Nicely!

The pigs have been an adventure and a lot of fun.  Because of the Hampshire markings we have named one Oreo, because she has a white stripe across her shoulders and a black front and back, Double Stuff, same markings but wider, and Bossy…. well, because she is.  Doubles came down with a respiratory infection about a week or so after we got them.  So Farmer Jon got to be a Vet.  2 a day injections of penicillin.  If you have never heard a pig scream…. wow.

Since then, and now that the weather has been a bit more hospitable they are out hopping around.  Bossy doesn’t move around a lot – lazy pig – but the two cookies are almost Siamese Twins.  They never leave each other’s sides.

Pigs don’t sweat, so they need to have a way to stay cool.  We dug out a pit and filled it with water and it has become a great wallow for them to play in.  With the wet weather the flies and mosquitos have been pretty vicious and it seems that they have learned how to cover themselves in mud and that keeps them from getting all bitten up.  Pretty genius for a hog!

Basil the dog gets sooooo jealous when we are out feeding them.  We have let her in on occasion to play with them and they all seem to get along fine.  However, once the excitement has worn off and all it seems that they are doing is trying to bite each others ears, its time to separate them.  Today they all had a great romp in the mud!

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