It’s Finally “winter” in NWPA!

In honor of the fact that we have 14 inches of snow as of Feb. 18 – the first “major” snow of the season at Big Oak Ridge… I finally got around to changing the header image. Nevermind that it will change again in just a few weeks – I’m not complaining!

Just in Time!

We have been “juicing” as part of our diet, and we’ve found that one of the challenging (and expensive) aspects of juicing in NW PA is adding fresh greens to the juice.

It happens, however, that we had some very nice kale plants in the garden that were still producing nice, large leaves at the beginning of November. This fact, coupled with some unseasonably mild weather, gave us the “push” we needed to finally get some simple row covers going.

We had some battens left over from siding our barn. We cut two 10 foot lengths and three 4 foot lengths and screwed these together for the bottom of the frames. Next we cut lengths of 1/2 inch black plastic pipe for the ribs. and screwed those onto the base. We used 1/2 inch CPVC pipe (because it’s straight) for the spines, attaching the spine to the ribs with zip strips.

RowCover_1

We built two of the 4′ x 10′ frames to start – enough to cover our remaining kale and our leeks.

RowCover_combined

As it turned out, we got over our procrastination and got the project done just in time. This picture was taken within 1/2 hour of setting the second row cover:

RowCover_Garden

 

 

 

Fall Fun!

We had a lovely weekend. Last Friday I was at Home Depot looking at mums for a bit of color in the front flowerbeds and discovered a demo fountain at 1/2 off…I’ve had my eye on this fountain, but couldn’t swallow the price. I have missed having a fountain and told Hubby that if they went on clearance this year, I was buying one. Demo price was even better than clearance, so I bought it!!

Our flowerbeds have been sadly neglected during harvest season so it took a bit of work to even find bare dirt. The mums aren’t blooming yet so it was hard to pick colors and I think I ended up with 8 out of 10 all the same color…oh well, it’s better than weeds.

I realize it’s a bit late to put up a fountain, but we agreed that we would enjoy it for a month. We also strung some lights in our canopy and spent the evening watching the lunar eclipse.

We had a great fall bike ride down the trail to the village of Brandon and back…about 22 miles. The leaves are starting to fall and the weather was perfect. No photos of that as we just enjoyed the ride.

It was a great weekend!

frontflowerbedbefore

 

fountain

 

 

flowerbedafter

Getting Ready for Bed

This time of year reminds me of family evenings when our kids were small.

We are almost done with the harvest for this year. As always, some things did well, some things did not so well, but the freezer and larder are fairly full and we are just about ready to go into “hibernation.” It’s time to start getting ready for bed. We keep thinking of “just one more thing” we can do before we actually get tucked in though.

This will be a year of change for us; the goats are gone – we could no longer justify the cost based on the return we were getting. That means I need to get the barn cleaned out and ready for the next “repurposing.”

Gone, too, is Moshe: a great dog in so many ways, but he needed more space and more animals to “herd” than we could provide. I hope he’s happy, herding cattle at his new home.

Next year is looking like more birds, less four footed animals. We plan to raise more meat chickens and maybe revisit the idea of getting a self-sustaining flock started. We will have to consider the pastures, though: with the goats gone there will be no one to keep the growth in check. We may yet end up with a cow, a llama, or some other herbivorous lawn mower/brush cutter/etc.

We’ve also started construction of another garden; I still have hope that I can get it done this year, so it is ready to plant next year, but time is rapidly running out. [“Put your toys away son; it’s time for bed!”]

We have carrots and sweet potatoes left to harvest, as well as some “odds and ends” like leeks, remaining tomatoes, and parsnips. It’s also time to start putting to bed the rows that are already empty, making sure they are ready for next year. [“You can play some more tomorrow, but right now it’s time to be done. Clean up your mess and get your pj’s on.”]

What are you working on at your little piece of heaven? I expect the work I have remaining to finish will leave me tired and ready for “a long winter’s nap.”

A Season of Change

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down and kids are back in school. This has been a difficult year, it started out too cold, progressed to too wet and ended up too dry; never a good combination with gardening or livestock. With the thoughts of impending snow and colder temperatures,we decided to rethink our goals and priorities and came to the conclusion that we needed less responsibilities for the winter.

After four months of “practicing”  and attempting a house dog, we realized that we were not finding joy  in the responsibilities and care involved in owning a dog. Moshe was a great dog, but he REALLY wanted to be a herd dog and run with cattle, so we searched for a new home for him and found a perfect fit. He is happy now and we are too.

.IMGP4052

 

 

 

 

We also decided that it was time to free ourselves of our little goat herd. We LOVE goats and enjoy their antics and personalities, but the long and short of it is that they had become a  burden and consumed vast  amounts of our time and resources. Yesterday they moved to their new home. It will be very quiet around here but we are looking forward to being free to assist with homeschooling our grandkids, helping our daughter move and settle in a new state, and maybe even a bit of travel.

SunriseBarn goat herd

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything the is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Shalom,

Paula

 

Moshe the farm dog-update

Seven weeks ago we rescued  an Australian Shepherd-mix (?) puppy. Moshe was dumped at our farm one stormy afternoon. He arrived soaking wet and only 12 pounds. He has grown into an active four month old- based on our assessment and the vet’s best guess. He has also gained 15 pounds! Moshe is smart and busy- a joy and a challenge.

Yesterday, Moshe went to the clinic for The Snip…no unwanted puppies from this boy. 😉 Last eve he was pretty miserable with his “cone of shame.”
IMGP4753

 

 

 

 

His discharge instructions say, “no running, jumping or strenuous activity…keep indoors and calm for 7 to 10 days…”   He is MISERABLE!!  We have had a few quiet walks on the leash but it’s not the same as playing ball for 30-60 minutes each day. It will be hard to keep this farm dog still.

IMGP4754

Moshe the tulip dog!!

Training a puppy is hard work…especially when the tulips are in bloom and every waving thing is an enticement to “capture”…so far the big bumblebees have been elusive, but the tulips are suffering a bit. 🙂 Hopefully he will learn the do’s and don’ts of farm life…quickly!Moshetulips

Raining Cats and Dogs and We Got a Dog!!

Several years ago our old farm dog, a husky mix named Quixote, went to spend his final days as my daughter’s pampered house pet. Quixote passed away two years ago at 13 years of age. Since then, we have gone back and forth about getting another dog…hubby wanted a house dog and I said, “Too much trouble with the Day Care.” So we remained dog-less and seemed okay with that.

Two weeks ago in the middle of a severe storm, I glanced out my office window to see a puppy dash across my front yard and crawl under the porch. We coaxed him out and brought him inside to dry off. We called our neighbors to see if any of them had gotten a new puppy. In the past two weeks, we have posted on pet sites, called the Humane Society and checked the newspaper lost and found. We came to the conclusion that someone took a drive on that rainy afternoon and dumped him just below our house. We are the last inhabited house and it is not likely that a puppy this small could wander so far from home…AND be wet but NOT muddy.

IMGP4049

We named him Moshe (mO-sha) which is Hebrew for Moses because we pulled him out of the water….TWICE. First on that rainy afternoon and the next day when he toppled head first into the pond while trying to figure out who that dog was in the water.

 

 

IMGP4052Moshe seems like a pretty smart little fellow and has even assumed the role of guard dog for the chickens. He is growing like a weed and learning new things everyday.

We weren’t looking for a new dog but it looks like this one is here to stay. I am thankful we didn’t get a cat!

Let the gardening begin!!

Another beautiful morning on The Ridge. It was a bit chilly when I went out to feed the animals, but the sun was shining and it was getting warmer.

After breakfast, I went out to weed the strawberries and blueberries….we have ten 20 foot beds of small fruit. I was pleased to see the new strawberries, that we planted in the fall,  had survived the harsh winter…I even found a few volunteer plants that I transplanted into the places where there were gaps.

Because we build our beds using the lasagna method and top dress with wood chips, the weeding is very minimal…mostly those pesky dandelions that defy all efforts to eradicate them. I’m thinking we may have to eat some of them one of these days. Hubby likes dandelion greens.

I took a break for lunch but made it quick because the raindrops started falling…Hubby took a break too and raced outside to run the mini tiller through a few beds so I could plant early crops. We don’t till for weeds, we till to mix our beds up and loosen the soil. Plus, the tiller makes two perfect furrows, evenly spaced so that I can just drop in the seeds and be done. I planted two 50 foot beds of peas and a few spaces around the garlic with spinach, lettuce and radishes.

If the rain stops, we’ll work on tightening up the fence so we can let ALL of the goats outside.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you the surprise!

Spring is FINALLY here!!

Probably the longest winter I have ever experienced is finally over!! When I posted last month, we were still dealing with snow and freezing temperatures. The past week, the weather took a turn for the better and we are now able to work outside and enjoy some pleasant days.

Spring clean up and pre-planting has begun. This past weekend we moved the laying hens and our two roosters from the big coop to the orchard coop in preparation for the arrival of 125 meat chicks. The orchard gives the layers plenty of room to run and scratch…with the added benefit of the chickens gathering bugs that are attracted to the fruit trees.

orchard

 

 

I was able to do some garden cleanup last week. I weeded the asparagus beds and several empty beds…soon it will be time to plant peas. The garlic is up and I found some spinach that wintered over and is greening up nicely. YUM!!

spinach

 

The daffodils are really beginning to open up and add some color to the flower beds. It’s always a delight to finally see green and growth after all these long months.

bigdaffodils

 

smalldaffodils

 

I’ll be posting more on our 2015 projects soon…keep watching for updates on the goats, the new garden beds and a surprise addition to the Ridge.