Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moving right along...........

We spent a good portion of the weekend working on the farm stand/shop. It now has a new back wall with a great new window in it, a new interior floor and a water tight roof. We had thundershowers move through this afternoon just as we were finishing the floor. It was a great way to check the roof for leaks! The floor is OSB and I'm thinking of painting it with deck paint. Maybe a hunter green or a brick red? Next weekend we will skirt the outside with lattice. I'm going to measure this week for fabric for curtains and maybe get to Joann Fabrics to pick something out. We need to change a little of the wiring and we are going to put in a ceiling fan to keep the air moving and veggies cool. Steve brought me home the bottom of a Hoosier cabinet. I'm so excited to utilize that in some way. Such an interesting piece of furniture. Now to figure out shelving and display areas......lots to think about.

I worked in the gardens but still haven't planted my peppers and tomatoes. I'm glad I waited - the first full moon isn't until June 7 and I just got a special weather warning over the computer.....freeze warning tonight! We had frost twice last week. I'll be happy to hold off a few more days.

The planter below sets on our front step. It's a half size old milk can that I painted a flat black. I love the tuberous begonias and this bright orange is very striking against the black. I really like the trailing vine cover and it's doing well in the pot. I moved it tonight up on the porch to prevent it from freezing.

Our kittens are doing well - both are nursing and all bodily functions are working properly :) They are traveling longer distances around the house and exploring. I love them already!

~Have a good week everyone ~

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sun & Surprise additions ~

The rain has stopped for the time being - 2 days the grass has grown. Everything is green and smells great. We actually had to mow the lawn and the sheep and lambs are enjoying grazing the lush pastures.

We've been cleaning the upstairs of barn, preparing for the upcoming hay season. We found these two little treasures.
This is Jinx and Jade. We couldn't determine where their Mom was and after a few minutes of deciding what to do, Tom and I decided to bring them in the house. We lost our house cat last fall and really miss him. These little gals will be loved and happy and we will really enjoy having a cat in the house again. I'm not sure how old they are so we are bottle feeding them kitty formula and also giving them kitten food. They are learning to use the litter box and starting to play with toys.Jade, on the right is the most adventurous and likes to play more than Jinx. They sleep through the night, and are very eager to eat when they do wake up. The help hold the bottle with their front paws while they nurse. It's just the cutest.
Below is my Hoya plant, also called a Rope plant. I've had this plant many years and occasionally, if I place the plant in exactly the right spot, it will blossom.

It has been in my dining room windows for two years now - actually I put it there when we moved into the new house. Last week I noticed it was starting to bud. Yesterday one cluster of blossoms opened. There will be three clusters of blossoms this time around. Aren't they gorgeous? The blossoms smell wonderful but only emit a fragrance at night. Not sure why that is but that's they way they are. It's a climber as you see from the first photo. It's climbing up my basswood blinds. Obviously it likes this spot - I'm not moving it!

Off to make macaroni salad for guests coming to bbq tonight. Have a great weekend everyone :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Exciting news and garden progress.....

This little building was the front porch to the mobile home we lived in on the farm while we decided what we wanted to build for a home and while we were building it. When we did build our home and sold our mobile home, we detached the porch and moved it to the back of our garage for a storage shed.

Last year we participated in a local farmer's market. It was a terrific experience. It was a great way to meet our neighbors, we made new friends and sold most of our product each week. The hard part was having to be away from the farm and the loading and unloading very early Saturday mornings during choretime. I would get up some mornings at 4:30 to harvest vegetables in order to provide the freshest I possibly could to my customers. Needless to say, it was a lot of extra work.

I am so excited to tell you that all of the good things that we needed to happen did in fact happen and this building will now be our new farm stand! We have once again moved the porch and now it sets at the front of our property and Steve has been working on it this weekend. We needed pine lumber for several projects so Tom and I went to the local mill Friday morning and picked up a 1000 board feet. I love the smell of fresh milled lumber. The porch didn't have a permanent back wall so that needed to be added and Steve installed a great window in the rear wall as well. New permanent, bug proof flooring is going down and lattice work around the bottom. In the next week or so Mom and I will make curtains for all ten windows and start getting the inside set up. The response has been very positive from everyone we have mentioned it to and customers from last year are calling and anxious to come and shop :) It will be great to be able to offer extended hours instead of just Saturday mornings and I can still work here when we aren't busy. I'll be sure to post more of the fun details as we get closer to the grand opening!

Moving the porch with the tractor

While Steve was busy on the porch, Tom, Mom and I were planting potatoes. 25 pounds of Maine Kennebecs are in. We tried a new planting method this year. Instead of planting seed potatoes in a row or hill and then hoeing the dirt up around them as the plant grows, with this method you dig a hole with post hole diggers 12" deep. Add 2" of compost, a little rock phosphate and your seed potato. Add 2" of soil and water. When the plant is 2" high, cover with the dirt you pulled out of the hole and so on. Once your plant is up out of the hole, mulch well and let your spuds grow. To me, this is much easier than hoeing the dirt up around the plant as it grows - definitely much easier on my back. Has anyone ever tried this before? I'll let you all know how it works out. We did do a couple of traditional rows to compare the results :)

Steve has Monday off so it will be a working holiday here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else :)

Have a great Memorial Day ~

Friday, May 22, 2009

Time to plant..............

Yesterday we made our annual pilgrimage to Allen,Sterling and Lothrop in Falmouth, Maine. We in Maine have many great local sources to buy seed such as Johnny's, Fedco, Pine Tree Garden Seeds, etc. I choose A, S & L because they have been in business since 1911, they have an awesome seed room where they still sort, pick over and weigh out their seed, etc. Shopping here is true joy for a farmer/gardener :) Anything you may need, you can find here.

Summer has arrived as it has been 90 the last two days. Two hot for me to do anything other than basic chores outside. I must admit the inside of my house looks much better! We cut our seed potatoes and they have skinned over and we will plant them tomorrow. We also picked up Better Boy and Early girl tomatoes along with sun gold sweet and cherry. Ace green peppers and a new one for us this year, banana peppers. Broccoli, cabbage and several varieties of basil made it into our cart along with swiss chard, lettuce mix and leeks. This is our first year with leeks. I love potato leek soup and as we have never grown any, I thought I'd start them from plants instead of seed this time. The coming weekend is supposed to be an ideal planting weekend with weather in the high 60's, low 70's, we will be busy.

These are a few of my favorite gardening reference books. I plan out each garden and then set up my seeds in a basket arranged by garden. It makes it easier for me to find everything. During my reading I've come across some new interesting tidbits that I wasn't aware of that may be of help in our gardens this year. The first and most important for me is that growing basil near your tomatoes will help reduce the occurrence of tomato hornworms.....oh my gosh, that is HUGE....I hate the dang things. They can wipe out a tomato crop overnight. I grow tons of basil - it will all be planted around the tomatoes this year! Planting thyme around cabbage deters the cabbage looper. Growing radishes with cucumbers helps ward off cucumber beetles. I love companion planting, can't wait to try them all. If anyone has more, I'd love to hear them.
My sweet boy (Tom) surprised me with this lovely bouquet of lilacs this morning. My entire house smells wonderful. Perennials are mostly in full bloom and the lawns are finally turning green with this warm weather. My bleeding hearts are enormous.

Our bee hives are thriving. Steve tends the bees and I watch from a distance :) He will be tending them this weekend. I'll try and get "close up" photos. The bees are on every flower on the farm, gathering pollen and taking it back to the hive. We should be harvesting honey this summer.

My two helpers, below, decided it was a good time to take a break in the shade. Banjo (on the right) is lame on his right front. He and Danny really roughhouse and he wrenched his shoulder a couple of days ago. He's been favoring his leg since. Today is better as he is putting more weight on it. He should be right as rain in a few more days. Boys will be boys!

~ Wishing you all a safe, enjoyable Memorial Day weekend~

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pigs have arrived...........

One of the sure signs of spring on the farm is the arrival of our feeder pigs. We are raising six this year and had everything ready when the phone call came in that they were ready to be picked up.

Piglets were very expensive in our area this year. The average price was $85.00 for an 8 week old piglet. Each year the price goes up. I don't blame the farmers. The price of feed has gone up continuously. I'm fortunate to purchase ours from a fellow that buys in quantity and passes on the savings to his regular customers. They are always healthy and grow well. Four are spoken for, one will go in our freezer and we decided that this was the year we were going to raise a sow to keep for breeding purposes. I've raised quite a few pigs over the years but never raised one to be a pet.

This is Miss Charlotte..... She has a very cushy home all of her own. She is quite friendly and already has a taste for animal crackers :) She loves her back and belly scratched and really likes company. Tom and I are going to teach her to lead with a harness (hopefully) this week. If anyone has tips on pig training, please pass them along. Charlotte will grow well with the extra milk we have. Hopefully we will get her bred when the time is right and have baby pigs of our own :)

Another sign of spring - our hummingbirds have returned to our feeder. My youngest son gave me this feeder last year for Christmas. I absolutely love it! Last evening we sat on the porch for just a few minutes, watching the hummers enjoy their dinner. Several show up at a time, drink and then perch nearby. It wasn't the best light for photos but I couldn't resist trying. The feeder hangs in front of the window over my kitchen sink. I enjoy watching the birds several times a day. During dinner, a Baltimore oriole perched on top of the hummingbird feeder. It was so beautiful....I now have an orange halves on the porch posts for them.

Thanks for visiting with us here at Tylerfarm....................

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring farm update......

We are finally starting to turn green here in the Northeast. Leaves are emerging on the maples and the pollen is flying. Pastures are slowing greening up and the sheep enjoy a few minutes of grass each day. Black fly season is also in full swing.....most of the animals spend their time laying down during the day and graze during the night. It's such a catch 22 situation - we look forward to spring but not the bugs that come along with it!
It's been a typical busy week here - productive and satisfying. Gardens are rototilled and ready for planting. The soil looks and smells great. I'm eager to start planting. We hope to take a ride to Allen, Sterling and Lothrop to get our garden seed on Sunday. This is the East garden. We are going to plant potatoes, broccoli and peppers in this garden this year. This is our main garden. We also have a south garden where we plant vine crops and pole beans.
This is our new pasture that I was working on last week. I rototilled it last Saturday - dragged a chain drag to roll any roots and sticks out that I didn't pick up the first time, broadcast lime and then seed. About two hours after I was finished, it rained - I was so happy I was dancing in the kitchen!

This is what I found when I went out to check this afternoon - this is clover just emerging....that grass can't be too far behind. It's so exciting to know we will have a new pasture for the animals before too long.
The lambs are growing quickly - they are at the age where they are so much fun to watch especially when the ewes are occupied. The lambs all congregate in one corner and then the lamb races begin. I've been trying to get a little video but haven't been successful so far.
Shearing is nearly finished and each afternoon I skirt a bag or two of wool. All the fiber that will be turned into yarn has been delivered to the processor. Now I'll finish wool for roving. It will be nice to finish this particular project.

Mom's & lambies
Tango is the nosiest of all the lambs. He's always checking humans out, looking for a handout already :)
Spring also means fresh greens for dinner. These are young fiddlehead fern. They grow along marshes and riverbanks. A friend of ours knows right where to go to harvest them. It's a very small window of time to harvest before they are too big. We bartered fresh beef for 3 pounds. They were delicious :)

Next arrivals at the farm. Stay tuned :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

~ Happy Mother's Day

To my Mother, Frances who has been the rock in my life from the very beginning. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for the love of my Mother.
Thanks Mom, your the greatest and I love you with all my heart.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful Mom's in the world.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Almost time to plant.........

Tom & I picked up a big rototiller that runs off the 3 point hitch behind the tractor this morning as well as a broadcaster that spreads lime and grass seed. We disconnected the york rake, attached the rototiller and I tilled the new pasture. It was a little heavy as we've recently had rain but not so wet I couldn't till. This is great soil. It smells so good! Tomorrow I'll drag it with the york rake and pick up any remaining sticks and roots and then I'll spread lime with the broadcaster. Once that's done, I'll rototill one more time and then broadcast the grass seed on the piece. We use a hayfield mix with lots of timothy, ladino and alsike clover (which the bees absolutely love), orchard grass, red top, etc. If we have done everything right, we could be grazing this in 6 to 8 weeks.

There are three vegetable gardens to be tilled. I did the south garden first. It will be a week or so before we can plant many vegetables but I like to keep them weed free for a spell before planting.

That's rhubarb in the bottom right corner. This is our squash, gourd, vine garden. The guineas and chickens immediately started picking through the fresh turned soil. The fence keeps them out when the gate is closed. We should have all the gardens ready for planting by the time the weekend is over. I have to return the equipment on Monday. I would love to have my own tiller but they are expensive. We are putting up a new pole barn for hay storage this year so a tiller is out of the question just yet.

I had quite an audience this afternoon. The new pasture is right next to where the cows are pastured now. These ladies are very interested in everything that goes on around here especially if it involves food. I finished just before chore time - they were standing at the gate, waiting quite impatiently!

This is our audience in the barn during chores. A warm milk treat for my hardworking "mousers".

We are hoping for dry weather tomorrow. It would be great to get in another productive day on the farm.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool..........

Yes sir, yes sir, four bags full!! This was my car this morning before I left for a fiber drop off. Four bags of skirted, dirty wool that will be returned in the form of soft, fluffy, sparkling clean roving and yarns. I'm always amazed at the difference in what I receive from what I delivered :) These four bags were white. I'll have more white finn wool to deliver and then I'll deliver all the colored. A good clip this year. I find year after year that some of my nicest fiber is produced by my wethers. Do others find the same? That's good news for the seven ram lambs born here this year! Speaking of lambs, below are photos of the last three arrivals:
Meet Tylerfarm's Tango (b/w) & Cash and....

Tylerfarm's Grace Kelly (shetland)This is Errol Flynn on the left with Tango & Cash. He was born just eight days earlier and he is so much bigger. He's a floppy, happy little guy who is as curious as they come. We are enjoying them all and I've only decided that one of the lambs will be leaving so far. Last year I pared my flock down to a "reasonable" number. How quickly that changes in the spring :)

We were without phone and internet service since Saturday thanks to the local young folks and their four wheelers taking out a telephone box. You never realize how much you miss something until you don't have it. I missed the internet and reading all my daily blogs. Hope to catch up with you all soon ~