Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is It Too Cold To Ride?

Is it too cold to ride when there is a skiff of ice on the chicken water? Or in the cow tank? Is it too cold to ride when walking from the house to the bike shed results in frozen fingers, and your every breath hangs in the air?
Yeah, probably, but that didn't stop me. After the first 2 miles my face was frozen anyway, so it was all good.
So we have less than 32 in the morning (see above mentioned ice in chicken water) and up to 70 (tomorrow possibly 80) in the afternoon. What the heck? I will ride later this afternoon and tonight, I get on my motorcycle and whoosh. Everything goes away. It's a Zen thing.

Hubby and I built a couple of wood duck nests to take out into the swamp. Ok, I should clarify. Hubby built them and I stood there offering various opinions regarding sizes... with my hands in my pockets. Then on our trek out to the swamp I carried the hammer. He couldn't have done it without me. You might ask why we did such a thing? The recent acreage that we've aquired has a few swamps on it. Those swamps are ringed by trees. Some of which fell down over the winter. Trees do that sometimes. Especially while holding 583 tons of wet snow. Trees also contain nests, and when said trees fall, so do the nests. We felt it was our responsibility to help out the little wood ducks with new nests. That and it was a nice day and we didn't feel like doing anything else.

I planted peas yesterday. The seed package clearly stated and I quote, "As soon as soil can be worked in the spring".... we'll see. I only planted a few, then every couple of days I'll plant more, that way I'll have a steady supply of seeds for the chickens to dig up, I mean I'll have a steady supply of peas come end of June. The strawberry plants weathered the winter beautifully. No, they're not blossoming yet, it IS only March, but they're green, and growing. Peppers, tomatoes and cabbage have been started in flats. They go outside on the back deck once in awhile when it's warm enough, which would have been today if I had been home.

The cows have persisted in testing the fences and a few times I've had to chase them back into the pasture. They're so affectionate, but this is not good. They're big. And they have horns. And when they come at you at a good speed with their heads waving (presumably to get scratched behind the ears) it can be a bit daunting. Always want to make sure there's a tree to hide behind, they really don't know how big they are.

Some of my onions that I missed from last year are poking their heads out of the ground, I pulled up a few and they're mushy - duh, so they'll just get tilled under. The asparagus has been under attack by the chickens but the rhubarb is really doing well. My mints are coming up as are the wild violets back behind the cabin.

The stove restoration project still sits, I really have to get back to that. The only oven I have right now is a little toaster oven, which is a marvelous excuse for not having dinner ready, but when I want to cook, it's a pain. The chicken pen needs to be enlarged. I ordered 25 baby chicks this year from one of the hatcheries that I use and while checking out I noticed that they offered free 25 chicks if you bought 50. So instead of the 25 I really wanted, I will end up 75, all because no one ever showed me how to say no to a good deal. And, since the pen really isn't big enough for the 8 hens I have, it probably won't be big enough for 75 to grow until we butcher in the fall. They've been running around the yard scratching to find bugs and pecking at new green coming through the soil, funny to watch them. And they've started laying again. 8 hens = between 7 and 8 eggs a day. There's only 2 of us, but there is a steady stream of people who can and do use them up for us.

Been experimenting with making gas.... yeah, that's gonna wait for another post....

What's on the schedule for tonight? Well I've GOT to get out on my bike, that's a must, no excuse for it, but also have to scrounge out some t-posts so I can start on the chicken pen. And hang out laundry, and make dinner, and, and, and.... and then when the light goes away I'll sit and knit for awhile. Currently making some slippers cause my toes in their old and arthritic condition still get cold.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is It Really Here?

Spring on the farm!

The chickens have started to lay again (good thing as I was getting down to my last 3 dozen eggs). I froze eggs this year in batches of 2, 3, and 4 for baking, but never needed them. Now I haul them out of the freezer and give them to the barn kittens, they love them!

I've had some coon problems the last week or so, so the chix are locked up again, unless I'm around and can hear the commotion, and the 22 is loaded and by the back door, just waiting.

My new batch of chix is due here the first week in May. I have to wait and get them later in the year because of the temps. We are "officially" zone 4, however, because of this little microclimate that we enjoy, it's probably closer to a 3.5. Anyway, because of this, unless I want to keep my chickens in the house until they're half grown, it's just easier to wait until later in the spring to get them. This year I got all Buff Orphingtons. Last year in my "mix-o-chix" I got one and she's such a nice size, lays nice big eggs, is docile and tame, so this year, we're going with all of them. I ordered them from Mt Healthy Hatchery and they had a special. I wanted 25, but if I ordered 50 or more I got 25 free, so I jumped at it. Only later did I realize that while I only really wanted 25 chix, I'm now getting 75. Good thing I like me my baby buk buks. And, it's still a crap shoot as to whether I walk into Tractor Supply and find turkeys that call to me. I like raising turkeys, but they sure are messy, and dumb. Turkeys are really dumb, but oh, so personable!

It's time to start seeds too. Tonight after work, I'll start some hollyhocks, tomatoes, peppers, and parsley as my parsley that I brought in died over the winter. It's a good thing I brought dirt from the garden up to the barn so I'd have some to start seeds. The garden itself is still under about a foot of snow and the dirt beneath that is frozen.
Part of my front yard will become garden this year, I'm thinking maybe the potatoes, and I'm going to start them early, outside in tires (which we have about a million of them around). Then, as they grow, you put in more dirt, and add another tire, then more dirt and another tire.... To harvest, just knock down the tires and you don't have to dig for the taters. Plus the tires help keep the soil warm during the cold nights.
And, if I have tires in my front yard, that's less yard to mow, right? The front yard is also going to see more berries. Raspberry and blackberries to be specific. I'm just flat out tired of mowing everything and I might as well use it. Want to extend my grapevine wall too, it will border one side of the chix pen, which I also have to enlarge, because in some strange universe, ordering 75 chickens when you only wanted 25 makes sense.

Have some fences to fix tonight too, while I was out chasing coons I noticed that the cow fence is down in at least one spot, so that needs to be fixed. Bu-Dawgh also pulled one end of his run line loose, gotta grab the ladder and secure that before he pulls it all the way out.

Tried a yarn dying experiment this weekend. I dyed some angora yarn in the crockpot using koolaid. Result... didn't use enough koolaid but it did smell good. The colors are more pastel than I wanted. Pink socks? Not so much, oh well. I'm in a sock knitting frenzie lately, they're a good take it and go project, can't ever have too many of those. My shrug is almost done, actually, probably tonight I will finish up the knitting and sew it up. Big Bang Theory is on and that will command my attention in front of the screen.

Also made yogurt in my crock pot. (Not the same one, I have 2) Don't know if it took or not, I'll have to try it and let you know.

It's a beautiful day today, me and the Bu-Dawgh walked to work and it was about 30! This afternoon, walking home it will likely be 45 or maybe even higher. The daylight is shining longer and longer during the day making outside chores more pleasant, but we're still burning wood at night. That will likely continue until May.

Getting anxious to ride my bike, but there's still ice on the back roads, of which I live on one, and salt on the main roads. So I really need to wait for a good spring washout rain to take the salt off the roads and that will also likely help to melt the ice. (I road my bike on ice once, didn't turn out so well, and while it seems I like to learn the hard way, eventually I do "get it").

Update on the stove project, - yeah, it's gonna be an outside thing when I start sanding, so I will also wait on that for a bit more.