Saturday, March 31, 2007

making room for the orchard--part one

we put in our order for fruit trees last week and they should arrive in early may. so, we have about four weekends to work on clearing a place to plant them.

we ordered 26 trees but two are cold hardy figs and will go up by the house. the remainder are apple, plum, pear, and sweet cherry. oh, and i did get two cold hardy apricots as well. can you tell i have aspirations for jam and preserve making?

last year we planted about a dozen dwarf fruit trees around the perimeter of the backyard (and three sour cherries in an area that the sheep helped clear). there are no trees around the house--no permanent landscaping whatsoever actually--so we thought we would use edible landscaping to spruce things up a bit. of course, it will be years before the trees grow tall and look pretty but i am content with the wait knowing it will be lovely to have fruit trees right in the backyard.

today was the first day we busted out our brand new chipper shredder and chainsaw. we made these large purchases as our christmas gifts and have been anxiously awaiting the time when we would put them to use.

so, here is the back field before we started.....

a couple hours into it......

and at quitting time....

the pictures don't really show it but you can now actually see the stone wall that borders our entire property. not bad for one day of work by two people (married people at that!).

Friday, March 30, 2007

creative financing

we just found out that the parcel and house that abuts (well, is right in the middle of our parcel) is going up for sale. sometime, long ago, a brother built his sister a house on his land and then the two deeds were split in subsequent generations.

we are just dying---wouldn't it be wonderful to get the whole parcel back together? wouldn't it be great to have use of the two outbuildings? wouldn't it be wonderful to now own water and power out near the fruit trees and sheep? wouldn't it be cool to rent the little house to someone interested in farming?

but then the reality of not having the finances hits. i am scrambling. there must be a way!

has anyone out there ever investigated a loan from a farm credit agency or the Farm Service Agency? i'm about to try...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

from spring thaw to winter wonderland...

wow. i woke up this morning to this. clover seemed just as surprised wondering where all her sticks from yesterday went. the forecast is warm so it won't last. but it is beautiful.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

back to work

this was the first official weekend that we went back to work on three dog farm. not that the daily chores aren't work, it is just that during the winter all the 'projects' come to a halt and then come to life again when everything thaws out.

so, the first thing on my list for spring projects was to get ready for freyja to lamb. first, we had to put a gate on the sheep shack so freyja and lamb can be separated from the boys if necessary and i have a handy catch pen for spring shearing, vaccinating, etc. (for instance, today i was finally able to catch snorri and get that halter off of him).

i set up their real water tub and filled it. i hope i am not cursing myself when i say no more carrying buckets of warm water 2x day. at this point, we should be safe from the tub freezing solid. the sheep did really well over the winter and i REALLY hope there is a lamb in there (freyja is pictured top looking pregnant (i think!) and below the trio: freyja, pattur (ram), and snorri (freyja's wethered twin).

i collect the little german (schleich) animal figures that they sell at our farmer's co-op. last week when i went to buy the sheep gate, i noticed they had little white lambs so i bought two to go with the ewe that sits on my kitchen window sill. i thought of it as well wishing for twin lambs. freyja is a twin and so is pattur, so the genetics are in my favor.

i also placed an order for some sheep supplies. i ordered a lamb feeding tube, milk replacer, a bolus of probiotic colostrum replacer, some nipples, and iodine for the umbilicus. i'm sure i will not need any of the lamb feeding supplies, but i know i'll feel better if i am prepared for the worst case scenario. i also ordered this book. i feel pretty confident about my knowledge of lambing but it sounds like a good book just the same. i attended a women's lambing week a few years back at the heifer project and i really learned a lot and had hands on experience assisting ewes, bottle feeding lambs, dipping navels, and tagging ears.

tonight we finalize our fruit tree and seed orders. time to start building the coldframes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

chicken pot pie

i am from pennsylvania originally, and that means i love me some chicken pot pie. i decided i need to find something (beyond chicken soup) to do with all of the cockerels that end up in my freezer from time to time.

the small farmer's journal
featured chicken recipes in the winter edition. this included two pot pie recipes so i gave it a try with some chicken breast from a local farm. next time i will it with one of our whole birds.

it required making a rue, which my polish grandmother had taught me to do when i was 11 to make her famous kapusti (sauerkraut) soup.
it came out pretty good, a little too salty this time, but pretty much like i remember it from pennsylvania dutch country.