The Last Major Infrastructure Project is Done

I thought I’d cry when I turned the last screw on the last bed.  We did it.  Unless we are possessed by demons, the last big infrastructure project is over.  Sure there are always things to do, but unless we were to fence in another pasture for something like, say, cows, the farm vision has all the parts.  Smaller projects like the water tank, grow out pens, the orchard, brooder, some gates, and a fence around the gardens certainly aren’t small, but they aren’t mission critical and can be done over time.  Those are nothing compared to these big honking heavy things that I’ve broken myself over for the past six and a half years.  Today it was over 80 and with Zina as another set of hands, we got the hail covers on the beds that I placed and filled yesterday.  With a back that doesn’t bend, the getting up and down 36 times to screw on the supports wiped me out pretty good.  The drippers go on next and then we start to brainstorm the shade cloth.  Still haven’t figured out the best way to secure those yet.  In the past year we finished the barn and pasture fence, ran water to the greenhouse and the new barn, ran power to the barn, got goats, raised turkeys, adopted donkeys, and built 18 4×12 raised beds with covers (bringing our garden bed tally to 40).  Dunno about you, but I’d say that’s plenty.  I’m hiring out the goats to graze the area where we are going to plant the fruit trees.  Cheap help.

So very soon all of these:


Will go in all of these:


Its time to go part time with the JAZ Farm construction company and bring the farmer on full time.  I’ve been building for so long I wonder how tough the transition will be.  I’m willing to find out.  Looking forward to May.


Moving Dirt

It was 80 degrees today and nary a cloud in the sky.  The farm boss and crew (one and the same dude) mounted the mighty John Deere steed and commenced to a loadin’ up the last 9 garden boxes.  Another task that I can say goodbye to.  Literally tons of lumber and 27 more yards of planting soil.  That’s a pretty big effort for a few Zucchini and Onions!

So some have asked, both here, in person and in the class I taught, what I do to get these going.  So here goes:

  1.  Figure out what kind and how big of a raised bed you want.  All of mine are 4 x  12.  I built them out of decking lumber for longevity, but you are really only limited by your imagination.


2.  To suppress the weeds, either  turn the  soil over, or put cardboard down over the bare ground.  This smothers the foliage and when it’s usefulness is over, it composts.


3.  I had a mountain of composted chicken manure so I added about 3 inches of it per bed over the cardboard.


4.  Unless you have good soil to begin with (ours is from Mars evidently), have some good quality planter’s mix brought in and fill up the boxes.


Tomorrow Zina and I will add the hail guards and all that will be left is to plumb in the drip irrigators (super easy and I don’t need them for another 5 weeks!)  The projects are done for now!  Time to focus on the little green things.

Hail 1

Then, after your hips,  knees, shoulders and butt, can’t take any more, partake in your first deck sit of the year, pity the poor slobs in the concrete jungle and revel in another awesome job.


For those that care, Happy Easter.  Go hunt up some eggs er some spring thing.  Better yet, feel up a Vestal Virgin and dance around a May Pole for spring is here!  Fertility, celebrate it while we still have it.


This Is What $1100.00 Looks Like

The day started at 4:30 am today with a dog having “digestive issues” (She crapped all over the bathroom).  The latest prediction of snow/rain fizzled out and we got the Semi in here today!  50 yards of planting soil for the new beds and the gardens!  Yay!

Of course, as with the pigs, I didn’t actually expect them to bring the dirt today because they have to go almost to Wyoming to get it.  As a result, today’s projects changed a bit and I got down to one of my least favorite tasks, the annual tractor maintenance.  Of course, I couldn’t find my ratchet set.  Once found, I didn’t have the right sized socket.  Once I got the socket, I oozed transmission fluid onto the garage floor.  Cussed like a sailor at the filters cuz they wouldn’t come off and chewed out the Mechanical Engineers (this is a dig for my son) for putting them in the worst imaginable places.  But, after a day’s work, tending the critters, and the dirt in a pile where it is easy to get to with the front loader, we are all ready to go about the tasks of filling, covering and plumbing the remaining 9 beds and amending the orchard.  Fit Bit says over 10k steps today.  I’m such a couch potato.

Tomorrow may not be as many steps, as the tractor gets to do a great deal of the work.  I love it when things fall into place and the boss says, “We are a bit ahead of schedule, it’s ok to slow down a little now.”  Of course, I’m the boss AND the employee.  My volunteers never listened to me anyway.  But I am well on track to being able to focus just on gardening beginning the first week of May – The first time in the nearly 6.5 years we’ve been building this place.  There are other jobs to do, but this time they take a subordinate roll.  They aren’t crucial, not getting skunked this year, is.  I have my new little rolling gardening cart to sits my butt on whilst weeding. The water is where it should be.  We have 4 new apple trees. The existing one’s appear to be budding.  The drip irrigation parts have arrived and are in the garage. The plants in the grow room have lost their minds again.  The tractor is ready to roll and I am flippin’ pooped.  Not bad for an old guy with a rigid back.


Reminds me of the Triceratop poop in Jurassic Park.


JAZ Farm is officially full up.  There is no vacancy and no more room at the Inn – unless you want to sleep in the camper!

The farm is set up in sort of a “U” configuration.  Permaculture dictates that you lay out your place in zones: the house area being Zone 1, the parts of the homestead that need daily attention (like gardens and livestock, etc, thus the shortest walking distance away, being Zone 2, and Zone 3 being things that require less attention, like the orchard and pasture, etc.  We call our daily routine in zone 2 “doing the stations of the cross”.  Go outside and deposit compost, walk over to the coop and get eggs, take care of the boy goats, tend the pigs, and make sure everyone has food and water and is healthy and happy.  Then take a walk around to the west to feed and water the donkeys, then the turkeys, then the girl goats.  After breakfast, go out and work in the gardens.  Do it all again in the evening.

As of today, all the stations are full again!  After having a conniption because my piglet supplier had forgotten me and promised an entire litter to one person, she called and admitted she had forgotten and felt really bad!  GOOD!  Evidently, she has a new 4 month old girl spawn.  Remembering back the 24 years ago that happened to us, I was willing to be a compassionate grandpa figure.

Anywho, she held two little piggies back for me.  As usual, with farm things, I didn’t expect to be getting them today.  At 2:00 this afternoon I found out they were available.  At 5:00, they were in their pen!  I scrambled to rake out the hut, lay down fresh straw, get to the feed store to get something for them to eat, and get water in one of the buckets.  Then off I went in my little POS run around car with a dog crate in the back. Got there ok, and it is always fun to see the mom who sprung ’em.  As usual, she was the size of a Buick and endowed in a way that would make Stormy Daniels blush.  Would guess momma sow to weigh in at 6-700 lbs.

We were also going to get a “gilt” (baby girl pig) to keep for future breeding, but the breeder didn’t have one due to forgetting about holding them for me.  But, after seeing her pregnant future mommas, she told me that there will be many available around the end of June.  We aren’t in a hurry and that should work out fine.  Considering the scarcity of pork that is on the horizon, I’ll take what I can get.

These are the youngest little guys we’ve had (6 weeks).  Today was weaning day so they have never been away from mom before.  If you have ever done the rhyme “This little piggy went to market, etc., etc.” The one that is the little toe:  “Went Wee Wee Wee all the way home”, must have been made up by a farmer.  They SCREAMED all the way home.  I think I need to go to an audiologist.  We’ve experienced it many times before, but there is something about a freaked out pair of baby pigs, in a dog crate, in the back of your car, that really drives the point home.  SQUEAL!!!!

So JAZ Farm is full up.  The tally is thus:

  • 2 and sometimes 3 bipedal humanoids
  • 2 Labrador Retrievers.
  • 2 Barrow piglets (castrated males)
  • 2 Nigerian Dwarf boy goats (bucks)
  • Two donkeys
  • 3 Nigerian Dwarf girl goats (does)
  • Half a dozen Bourbon Red turkeys
  • 35 laying hens
  • 26 broiler chickens
  • 8 turkey eggs cooking in the incubator
  • Depending on the day anywhere from 2 to infinity barn cats
  • Half an acre vegetable garden and a work in progress fruit and berry orchard

That ought to keep us plenty busy.  If you need anything take a number and we’ll try to act like we are concerned.  Leave a message, someday we’ll get back to you.

Tomorrow I’m going to have to go out and rig up one of the dog fences around the pig hut.  These little dudes probably don’t even weigh 3 pounds at this point so they can likely squeeze through some of the fence holes.  They are secure enough for now, but once they get over being freaked out, they will start exploring.  Right now they are even shorter than the lowest electric wire 12 inches off the ground..  Thank goodness they grow fast.

Here are some initial pictures-  Not very good ones as they kept trying to hide under each other.  They weren’t feeling too photogenic.

PS:  Zina found out we got them and drove all the way out here to see them, just walked in the door.  Could have predicted that one!  Let the worrying and fussing begin.  She loves the creatures!



The Retreat Discovery So Far

Just a meme update.  No farming or collapse stuff.  Just this.  Wouldn’t put it out there if it wasn’t a big deal.  If you’ve gone through it yourself, just remember – You went through it.  You didn’t cause it.  It wasn’t your fault.  If anything, you were one tough S.O.B.  After all, you are still alive.  That, in itself, is something of a miracle.  Stay strong.  If the retreat does nothing else other than  affirm this, it was worth it.  The world is psychotic.  To be awake in a world that slumbers it’s way to it’s death, is enlightenment.