The Gardens Are In

3 days of grunt work and the gardens and the greenhouse are planted.  The tomatoes look kind of pissed off from the recent cold snap that inevitably happens as soon as we take them out into the world from their cushy life in the basement, but as of today, dark green leaves are re-emerging.

For here, we have had a pretty wet spring.  It’s been nice to have the outdoor gardens soaked in this year.  However, we still haven’t gotten into real mountain melt off season yet and the longer it waits and the warmer it gets, the bigger the hail will be.  We are supposed to be in the mid- 70’s with a chance of “rain” every day for the next 10 days.  Fingers crossed that the hail guards were worth the price.  The shade cloth already has been.  It is fun to watch their shadows cross the beds at the height of the daily sunshine.  The Prima Dona squash plants seem to be grateful.

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I wrote a letter to a couple of friends this past week that points to a milestone.  This time it is real.  It’s funny, since having written about the need to be finished with the general “Bob The Builder” work, I’ve seen several friends I follow on You Tube express similar sentiments.  Not only does it need to be done, it needs to remain fun:

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>>My son and my wife hear it all the time from me. “This place needs to be done. I’m so tired of being sore and tired”. It kind of goes in one ear and out the other. “Ya, ya, dad says the projects are almost done, but he’ll just dream up more of them.” I laugh and kid and let them have their teases, but inside I’ve been saying ever since surgery, “But I really mean it, This. Needs. To. Be. Done.” The Truth is, that I really did have a vision of what the farm should be able to do and what would be needed to make that happen. While I was building the place out (and also working), I worked pretty hard at making each piece produce as it became finished. My dream was looking forward to the time when I got to simply use it all for its intended purposes and be able to retire the tools.

We got the keys to the place 12/4/12. Today, Memorial Day weekend 2019, I dropped the mic – er, hammer, saw, drill, fencing tools, wrenches, pliers, and all the other various and sundry construction devices. It happened. Every piece is in place. Sure there will always be repairs or things that can embellish or improve upon something, but as of today, it’s done. The JAZ Farm project is completed. I get to take the rest of the summer and play farmer. My general contractor days are done. I won’t have to wake up tomorrow wondering what I have to build today. I was burning out big time and it wasn’t fun anymore. There are no more fences that are immediate, no more garden building or greenhouse construction, no more remodeling, no more corral building, coop building, brooder, construction or pig pen building, just tending the farm animals, gardening, stargazing, archery, and weaving (Along with some well deserved ass sitting). My spine was eaten, my knee is shot, all my joints ache, I’m mentally spent, and it all looks amazing. Now I get to retire to it. It might not be important to anyone else, but this was my Everest. Today I summited. We were sitting under the awning of the barn and I had one last part of a brooder to finish. I looked at Zina and said, “This is it. After this bracket, It’s all done. Even if it isn’t, it has to be. I can’t do this anymore. Everyone else gets to play Farmer In The Dell, but when I look in my basket, it always has tools in it. It’s done. I want to play in the dirt.” So at least for the summer, the tools are hung up. It all works, nothing is missing and I get to farm without distraction. That’s the second half of the summer retreat. Just living the “Mostly Off Grid Life.

Six and a half years of building. If there was anything in my life that should overcome all the self-deprication, it should come from simply looking out the window. I will not miss my twice weekly trips to the Home Depot, Tractor Supply, or the local feed store and Stockyard supply stores. They have enough of my money. It’s time to play and use the place for that which was birthed in my mind. It started as a thought and out onto the earth it came. The End.

Mic drop. Done. 5/25/19. What a long strange trip it’s been.<<

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But of course, having pets means that those tools must never be far away.  We have a temporary fence netting around the greenhouse gardens for the express purpose of keeping critters from raiding the gardens.  I’ve seen it keep the barn cats frustrated, and it does keep the dogs out……… so I thought.  Our youngest Lab, Sage, is a little deviant.  I was watering yesterday, and I looked over and the little shit was in the garden area with me!  How the hell did she do that?  With her teeth of course.  Chewed a hole through the net and jumped through!  Now the garden fencing will need to be built sooner than I expected.

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The Turkey Hilton got its “gazebo” today.  The birds in the grow out coop needed some respite from the sun.  Those steel pig huts can get hot in the sun, and since they are a food source and won’t be around in the winter, we need to make sure they are comfortable during the summer. So, when I ordered the shade cloth for the garden beds, I also got a 90% sun block cover for the turkey runs.  To make sure that it wouldn’t get destroyed by the chain link fencing, I covered the fencing panels with cut open foam swimming pool noodles.  Pretty sure I embarrassed my son when we got them at Target.  Had one on each finger (they are 5 feet long) doing the wave through the store while we walked to the check out (it’s amazing the things you’ll do when you no longer give a damn).

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So summer is ready to commence.  The new broiler chicks are doing great.  We hatched a dozen new turkeys, lost two, so ten are in the brooder, the pigs figured out the feed dispenser (pigs iz smart), and the gardens are in.  Now to start planting the fruit trees and berry vines.  Oh wait…… didn’t I say I was done?

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We’ve Run A Fowl

Right on schedule, 28 days, Turkey peepers are hatching.  4 of 14 so far.  There will likely be more tomorrow.  Gardening, brooding our our new broiler stock, hatching turkeys, raising pigs, watching Ginger the goat for pregnancy,  what a life.

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Outdoor Beds Done.

The outdoor beds are in! It only took 2 days to do 26 beds.  We are machines!  Moving the main garden was definitely the right answer.  These are so much easier to work on.  We have had tornadoes all around us the past couple of days.  Typical Colorado spring weather in the age of climate collapse.  We are very pleased with how it’s all coming together though.  Barring a direct hit, the garden ought to do pretty well this year.

Tomorrow is supposed to only be in the high 50’s so we will be able to get the greenhouse planted without having to swelter.  The tomatoes are still looking pretty shocked after the sudden cold snap last week but I’m stubborn.  We are going to plant them and see what happens.  We can always buy replacements but that’s not my style.  We’ll see if they green up in the next week or so and decide from there.

Oh ya.  The turkeys are hatching!

Here’s the crop rundown:  (For the infernal critics:  the beds that look empty have those things called seeds in them)

Black Beans, Garlic, Beets, Strawberries, Shallots, Eggplant, Green Beans, Bell Peppers, Anaheim, Cubanelle and Poblano peppers, Jalapeños, Cayennes and Habaneros, Carrots, Cabbage, Acorn Squash, Zucchini, Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Yellow and Red Onions, Roma Tomatoes, Ace 55 slicing tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Celery, Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Sunflowers, and Colorado Catnip.  That ought to keep us busy.

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NO VACANCY!

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!

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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.

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Back On Track

The ground is relatively dry, the parts for the nine new beds are done and moved into the garden, so it’s time to get the man in here with his semi and dump me some planter’s mix.  Thank goodness for tractors.  All that lumber is durned heavy!  This is the first day in a long time that I haven’t driven a single screw.  I forgot what it was like to not be all scratched and bloody at the end of the day.  There’s always tomorrow though!  Zina and I put on all the other hail guards this past weekend and they look great.  Just in time for spring thaw!  Looks like we will be in the upper sixties for the next 10 days.  Melt off shall commence.

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The boys are loving the warmer weather too!  Donkeys LOVE to play tug-o-war.  Pretty spry for a couple of old farts!

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