Zina and the 2015 Wheat Harvest

ITS THE WEEKEND!!  Off to do the chicken and pig chores!  One piece of entertainment is trying to get all of the chickens back in the coop after a day of free ranging.  We have a couple that we have described as Road Runners.  They are very slender and very flighty.  If they get scared they won’t go back into the fenced in run in the evening and you can spend some time going round and round trying to herd them up!

I have to apologize for a couple of the videos previously posted.  I linked them from Facebook.  If you don’t have a Facebook account you will not be able to make them play.  Also, because I HATE Facebook, I sometime suspend my account there to get away from the insanity of the ego that presents itself there.  When I do that they also won’t play.  My son has volunteered to help me learn how to post videos to You Tube.  Once I learn how to do that, then the videos we make of the place should play for everyone following along.  We may even make a JAZ Farm YouTube account and post things there as well….. don’t hold your breath though.

We are in the midst of everything growing (thanks to the wet year we have had – WEEDS TOO!)  We are learning slowly, because this is a “hobby” farm that we need to do a few hours every day and that helps us keep up without feeling like we are running around panicked.  Because we had to process chickens last weekend and because my clients somehow insist (the nerve) that my real job has to take precedence over the hobby, things can get away from us quickly.  We had the weeds in the garden pretty well caught up….. not any more!!!  We figure that of the 18 raised beds that if each of us do 3 a day on the weekend and if I do a couple during the week, we can keep up.

Zina came out today (Friday) immediately changed clothes and is out cutting down the rest of the wheat.  It actually looks like we will get back more than we planted.  For a first try at this it seems to be going quite well.  We will get several bushels of straw for the coop and grain for bread for the rest of the year.  Can’t ask for more than that.  The hard corn is another story.  I think the seed was bad and it isn’t doing what we hoped….. something to improve upon for next year.

I have laid out the ground framing for the greenhouse and I hope to have that up by the end of the Labor Day holiday weekend.  It will be such a relief to have that up and functioning finally.

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The chickens from last weekend put into the freezer!

Birds 2015

Piggies Rooting!

The pigs are getting to be ginormous!  Came in from the city the other day and they had managed to knock over their feed bin.  It was low on food and (as pigs are want to do) tried to simply muscle their way deeper in to it to get at the feed.

While they won’t get on a scale, I am estimating comparing them to our dog – who weighs about 100 lbs – that they are easily that large.  They love to be scratched (which is something akin to petting a muddy football) and when they come up and push into your legs wanting attention, there is no doubt about their size.  These critters are little tanks!

This video shows Bossy rooting around.  The pile she is on is a HUGE pile of composted horse manure that was here when we bought the place.  It is loaded with grubs and the three of them have been having a time turning the whole pile over with their snouts to get at them (of which I am most grateful!).

Bossy is up to her nose in Sh..!  Go Bossy go!

Wheat Harvest

Wow did we underestimate the labor involved with this project!  It is one thing to plant the wheat; its a whole ‘nuther thing to cut it, thresh it, and winnow it!

Next year we WILL have a scythe.  The field is 70 x 70 which is bigger than most suburbanite homes.  We are cutting the whole thing down with a hand sickle which means being bent over and cutting the stalks off at ground level.  We managed to get half down and then it started to rain.  So now we have to wait for the field to dry before we can do the other half.

Because we have yet to put up a barn for critters and hay and such (the barn we have right now being for equipment), the hay is stacked in our basement on tarps.  From there we thresh it (the removal of the wheat heads from the stalks) and then it will be winnowed (removing the “shells” of the wheat berries by letting wind carry them away), leaving us with the end result:  whole grain raised with no chemicals, no synthetic fertilizers, and no pesticides.

I planted the field with 25 lbs of red spring wheat.  It will be interesting to see after all is said and done, if we harvested more than what we sowed.

The wheat field:

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The harvested wheat:

2015 wheat 1

The farmer with his ass in the air!  HOT!

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The foot powered (treadle powered) thresher:

Zina hard at it:

Summer Is In Full Tilt!

We actually did what we said we should today. Got up early and worked outside before the inferno began. Of course we stayed out there well into the afternoon so the dehydration happened anyway! We hilled 250 row feet of potatoes, shoveled 4 yards of compost, weeded and did chicken chores. Because we old duffs need to get exercise (as if the farm isn’t enough), I took the tractor out and cut a mile and a quarter jogging path around the perimeter of the place. The weeds were super thick. In some places they were over 4 feet high. Tons of different kinds of wild flowers. It’s amazing to see that after only one year since we kicked the conventional wheat farmer off of our land how fast the wild things have rooted and retaken the place. They only choked the little tractor that could, once! Out in the way back we even have some new locust trees coming up and there is some native tall prairie grass trying to make a come back! The beans are beaning, the Potatoes are blooming, the Butternut and Acorn squash are squashing, the Carrots are carroting, the Onions are bulbing, the Tomatillos are growing their little lanterns, the Sunflowers are reaching toward space, and the Strawberries are running. Our peppers are coming on as well; the Jalapeños were the first but there are six more kinds starting to flower – even the Habaneros! After having a tussle with army cutworms, the cabbages appear to be thriving. The Beets are in desperate need of thinning and it looks like we actually may get Melons. A good looking year! Our wheat patch is ready to be cut, threshed and winnowed and the chickens are about a week away from the freezer. Piggies are now over 100 pounds and are rooting up their pen with vigor! They thought it great fun to come in after the tractor had scooped up a load of compost and bury their noses in it up to their eyes! On the conventional farms around us the wheat harvest has started in earnest. The trucks are backed up at the elevator. It looks like the American white processed flour addiction will continue unabated. The city garden is exploding as well. The usual gazillion Tomatoes, Lettuce, Kale, Cucumbers, Zuchs, and Green Onions. Green beans go in this week to replace the Garlic we just harvested. Now we are chillin’ Lovin the AC that will soon be solar powered! Zina is busy stripping a bushel of Thyme from its stems. I actually may begin greenhouse construction next week as well. Summer be in full tilt!