2013 Oil City Garden Walk: Through the Garden Gate

The Pond at Big Oak Ridge

Our pond gets a face lift…

Duck? No Ducks? Maybe Ducks?

2013.07.12ducksonrock22013.07.12pekinducks2013.07.12runnerducksWe have been trying to add some ducks to our pond for the past week…I put my Easter Pekin ducks on the pond and they scaled the fence and got back in with the chickens. I was given some Indian Runner ducks from my neighbor-TWICE. They keep going home at dark. We even tried penning them up for a night…they stayed for the day and went back home the second night. She also gave me four geese and a couple of small, black and iridescent green ducks. They stayed and love it here. I guess we’ll have to get little ducklings  if we want anything to stay.

Global Warming and Honeybee Colony Collapse: A Study in Contrasts

Obama recently announced he is aggressively pursuing plans to halt the largely theoretical threat of global warming. It is interesting to note that Global Warming Theology has become a multi billion dollar industry.

In contrast, a very real and eminent threat is represented by Honeybee Colony Collapse. One of the obvious concerns is the link between pesticide use and colony collapse.  Evidence of this link is strong enough that the European Union is taking the precautionary measure of banning the most likely pesticide culprit. Yet, according to Jim Jones of the EPA “As a matter of policy, we let the science lead our regulatory decision-making, and we want to make sure that we make accurate and appropriate regulatory decisions as opposed to things that could lead to meaningful societal cost without any benefit whatsoever.”

What this really means is “Monsanto makes a major portion of their profit from pesticides, and they pretty much tell us here at the FDA, USDA and the EPA what to do – and what not to do. So, even though our food supply, and possibly our very survival, is at stake, we’re choosing to do nothing, because that’s what the deadly six chemical companies want us to do.”

As Brad Plummer notes in the Washington Post “It’s an interesting study in contrasts. The link between pesticides and bee die-offs is still subject to some dispute. So, in the face of uncertainty, the European Commission is erring on the side of the environment — voting to ban neonicotinoids for two years just in case they really are to blame for the bee collapse.

The United States, meanwhile, is erring on the side of certain economic interests — it’s still not clear that neonicotinoids are to blame, and pesticides are a billion-dollar industry, so regulators are moving slowly in setting restrictions.”

But global warming… boy, now THERE is something to be really afraid of… maybe… we think… but anyway, lots of Al Gore’s proselytes are making a bundle off of it, so let’s all jump on that band wagon, right?

Done with Dairy Goats

2013.07.02BouvardiaWe have sold our last dairy goat, Bouvardia, and will no longer be “dabbling in dairy.” We’ve found that we just bit off more than we could chew right now with the milking schedule etc.

We will now be back to purchasing whole cow milk from the Hersman farm to meet our dairy needs.

Our Crazy, Busy Life…

It’s hard to maintain a blog when you work from sun-up to sundown…I’ll try to hit the highlights of the last few weeks.
We had an excavator here for a few days…he enlarged our little swamp pond, built a level pad for our new buck pen, removed 5 old blue spruce trees…we also had  a bunch of stumps removed and cleaned out some briar patches (to enlarge the orchard.) The project also included a couple of new service roads. The downside is that we had to restring a bunch of goat fence and  now have an entire summer of landscaping to do, PLUS a repair to our chicken coop electric which accidentally got dug up.
The goat herd got a bit overwhelming with KC having some emergency travel for work and me putting my hip out PLUS the addition of 135 new chickens…something had to give…I ended up selling the three young milkers and three young wethers. With the babies I sold this spring for 4H projects, the herd is down to nine goats and only one milker. That helps!
We have been struggling to get our garden in this year for the same reasons listed above PLUS the very fickle weather…ranging from roasting hot in early May to freak frosts the end of May. We still have 200 cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower plants to set out and NO space left…I had to brainstorm that instead of planting more grass to mow, we should just plant them in the LARGE oval left after removing the trees. It may seem a bit odd to have cabbage in the front yard…but we’re down to whatever works here!!
The strawberries are starting to ripen…it doesn’t look like a bumper crop this year with the late frost and the fact that I severely weeded some old plants out.
We enjoyed a bumper crop of asparagus and even had enough to freeze. The rest of the garden is barely there…the tomatoes need fertilizer and the seedlings have JUST started to peek above the ground.
We have many fences to mend and new ones to build and a list of projects as long as your arm and leg put together 🙂 we hope to be able to escape for a few trips in our new kayaks.
Until next time…

Paula is crazy, and Paula is crazy 2

Every time I water our poultry, I think of my daughter Amelia.

When our daughter was still at home, and helping with chores, we purchased two five gallon plastic poultry watering fountains – the kind with a plastic tank and a bottom held on with tabs that fit into slots.Water Fountain

The two watering fountains look identical, but they are not. On one the bottom turns to the left to lock it on, and on the other one the bottom turns to the right to lock it on to the tank. Paula had trouble getting the bottoms on these sometimes, and she decided that the bottoms and the tanks were were not interchangeable. Amelia thought they were interchangeable, but Paula said “They are not. Just mark them so I know which bottom goes with which top.”

The result? Years later we still have two watering fountains for our chickens. When you turn them over to remove or place the bottoms, they say  “Mom is crazy” and “Mom is crazy 2”.

Kids; ya gotta love ’em.

You might be a (Redneck) farmer if…

I went to get a load of dirt at the local “dirt factory” today, but the weather took a rapid turn for the worse, so I had to improvise some shelter so my dirt did not become mud.

TruckDirt TruckDirt2

Busy Day at Big Oak Ridge

Six chickens down, 12 to go…

Last year we tried Buff Brahmas as our chicken breed; they were advertised as a “good multipurpose bird, good setters, large and heavy, producing good quantities of brown eggs.”

Well, that’s the experimental part of “experimental, sustainable, reproducible.” Turns out the Buff Brahmas were not sustainable.

Three hens went broody, but out of 3 dozen eggs we hatched 6 chicks. The entire way through the winter, with a dozen hens on feed, we got 2-4 eggs per day. Many days we got no eggs.

We’ve ordered Rhode Island Reds this year, and today six of the Buff Brahmas found their way to the freezer. The rest will follow shortly.

We also pruned our fruit trees today, took down some fence in the garden, and of course cared for our small goat herd.

We have a new renter who moved in today as well.

Now for some home made coconut pie and few minutes of respite before bed.

Earn Big Oak Bucks!!

Spring is finally arriving and we are a bit overwhelmed on the Ridge. We have decided that we would like to offer folks a chance to attend our seminars for free…in exchange for help on the farm.
Here’s how it works: One Big Oak Buck (worth about $7.00) will be given for each hour of labor performed. BOBucks are redeemable for seminars or fresh farm products (as available). They cannot be exchanged for cash. The dates, times and jobs will be listed on the website. We will also include the cost of seminars in BOBucks and as produce becomes available we will list pick up times and cost.
Big Oak Ridge is family friendly but we cannot be responsible for watching small children while you work.  There must be one supervisory parent if you bring children.

Workdays will be most Saturdays from 8am -4pm. Check the day’s schedule to decide if the jobs posted will be of interest to you.

Since this is a bit last minute…the schedule for March 30th is a bit shakey…I know we have some roosters to butcher, some goats that needs shots, a chicken coop in serious need of cleaning and fruit trees to trim. We would appreciate a call if you decide to come so that we can be prepared to direct any helpers. 437-1920.