Sunday, January 2, 2011

Trip to get pigs

We had a chance to buy another large black sow from our friend Dave Dalan in Walla Walla, WA. Dave was nice enough to pick up our orginal breeding pair about 18 months ago and when we found out he was downsizing we decided to buy another sow and 7 weaned piglets. The timing was great as we had decided to spend Thanksgiving with Kelly's family in Walla Walla. We were worried a bit about weather which turned out to be the least of our problems when we ended up blowing out a tire just 25 miles out of Walla Walla on our way home. To make a long story short and with a lot of help after 4 hours in the cold we were on our way. With 3 trips in the winter including this trip, one to Montana for sheep and one to South Dakota to get our Mulefoot pigs we feel very blessed to only have had a flat tire.

Busy Summer and Fall

With such a busy summer and fall we neglected the blog, with the new year we hope to stay on top of posting more to keep those that follow up to date. This posting with summarize what we been up too lately.

Spring was quite a challenge in 2010 while we had planned ahead and started most of our seeds indoors we lost most of them to a cold and very wet spring. We were not alone and found that even many of that veg table growers that participate in the Bellingham Farmers market had to replant. We were able to do well with lettuce, peas, cabbage, spring and winter squash, corn and bean but never enough to sell. We had lots of requests for tomatoes but only harvested a couple handfuls but with the addition of our green houses we were picking tomatoes until Nov just before Thanksgiving when we had a very hard freeze. We are hoping that with the greenhouses and starting seeds again indoors we will do better. Each year we hope to do better as we learn more about growing and harvesting in the Pacific Northwest.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Busy Weekend

The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic trying to get a couple of projects completed. I few weeks ago I started a chicken coop inside of our barn. We need a place for Kaden to keep his bantam chickens for the fair and wanted a winter home for some laying hens that we could then build an outdoor access area for them. It took a little while, but finally this evening we moved the chickens into their new home. Our Buckeye chicks are almost two weeks old and they are now occupying the big area in the coop. I will get a picture as soon as I can. Their wings are almost in and they are already looking much bigger.

We finally gave up on our initial attempt at a portable hoophouse because the wind kept knocking it done. We finally decided to build some permanent structures and spend a little more and do it right. So far I have pretty much completed 2 hoop houses, 1 is 9'X24' and the other is 11'X24', I have to enclose one end still and eventually will enclose the other end and put it a door so they can be sealed off, although they will work for right now. We used 2" PVC pipe and attached them to 2"X4"'s so they would be secure and then put on greenhouse plastic and attached that with lath strips so the plastic cannot go anywhere. Again, I will get pictures shortly. I want to build at least 1 more and may add 2 more at some point. I am also just starting to build some small 4'X8' hoophouses that are more portable. I am using my PVC pipe from our failed hoophouse so it does not go to waste.

I also got our electric fence installed in our field over the last 2 days. I was hoping to do a daily rotation of the animals, but at the moment that is not going to be feasible. I realized that you have to clear a strip for the fence because our grass is about 3 feet high at the moment and I have to weed eat a border and then put up the fence, it would take forever to do every day so I am going to move them every week or 2 depending on how quickly they eat the grass. Right now the grass is so high that they get lost in there, but the good news is they have lots of great food to eat.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baby Chicks

Our first batch of Buckeye Chickens arrived on Wednesday. We ordered 25, they sent 26 and 4 did not survive the trip so we have 22 chicks on our make shift brooder. I am currently building a chicken coop in the barn and we will move them into that when it is done in a few days.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Those darn varmints

I mentioned previously that we got our first goose egg. I went out there the next day and it was gone. I could not figure out what had happened and exchanged emails with the person we got the geese from originally. They thought it might be a rat or something like that, but we do not really have any rats around here. They then did not lay any eggs until yesterday they built a nice nest, of course in a place where it should not have been. I moved the egg into their section of the barn where they spend the night. Kelly went out this morning to milk the goat and there was a possum roaming around not far from the goose egg. Let's just say there is now one less possum in the world. Our goose laid another egg this morning and hopefully we do not have to worry about varmints getting hold of them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hoop Houses

I spent considerable time over the last few weeks trying to get hoop houses up so we can get a head start on vegetables. To buy a production hoop house is a lot of money, which we do not have at the moment, so the exercise has been to try to create one that works for a minimal investment. Last summer we built 2 of them over the tomatoes for a couple of weeks to try to increase the heat available for them to grow. During August, however, the wind is not as big a factor and they did fine last year, but not during March. Our hoop houses are 25 feet long and about 11 feet wide. I used PVC pipe which I spaced at 5 foot intervals and then have a spine going down the middle with 2 pipes extending out every five feet. The end of the PVC pipe is placed over a 2 ft rebar stake that we have in the ground to provide support. We then put plastic over the top to trap the heat. At first I used some bricks to secure the plastic, but that did not work so I moved to cement blocks. That helped a little bit, but a strong wind still blew down the structure. The third attempt was creating a wind barrier at the south facing opening and that again helped a little, but not enough and it all came down again. The fourth attempt, which finally has worked, is taking another concrete block and tying the PVC pipe on the south opening to the concrete block so the wind cannot lift up the structure. I also built a bigger wind barrier to the south of both of our hoop houses to deflect the wind away from the structure. Next time around I am going to face the structures east/west instead of north/south and see if that helps as well. We have 2 hoop houses up and just need to by some more PVC pipe to create a third structure. The cost of this hoop house is about $50, plus the cost of the plastic, which is far cheaper than getting a commercial hoop house.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Good days and bad days on the farm

One of the lessons that we have learned is there is a lot of good days and maybe a few more bad days on the farm. This morning I went out to the barn to feed the animals only to find our first goose egg of the season. I was wondering when they would start laying eggs as nothing much had happened so far. She had built a nice nest in the feed tray that I was using to feed them grass. I then went to feed the goats, only to find our twin baby goats had died during the night. I am not sure exactly what happened, but I think the other goat that we had in the pen may have sat on them. This was particularly traumatic for us, especially for Kaden who breaks down in tears every time an animal dies. It has certainly taken the fun out of the day. If there is any bright spot in all of it we got the goats for their milk and we still get that. I was not really sure what we were going to do with the kids anyways. Fortunately we have one more goat that should have her kid soon and this time we will separate them and get the kids out of the pen sooner. We were going to do it today, but unfortunately, it ended up being one day too late. We also separate our Oxford ewe from her twin lambs, which is always difficult for both parties. It is sad to hear them out there just bawling away trying to find each other. It has been eight weeks and it is time to wean them.