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!