Sunday, February 20, 2011
Birds, Bees, Bunnies and Blooms
We got outside yesterday and took advantage of the nice February weather to turn the garden beds and try to prep them for spring planting. Bryon had planted some rye grass last fall and we let it grow all winter to make a green manure http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/soil_growgreenmanure1.shtm
He tried using our little tiller attachment on the weed eater which usually works great in our raised beds, but the roots were too dense so he had to go old school and do it with a shovel. I only did one little bed myself and it was a bitch! I went in and took some Tylenol because I knew my back was going to hurt. Gardening is hard work!
Today, it all looks great and my back feels fine. Guess I could have worked a little harder after all :)
I worked in our little greenhouse organizing and cleaning and tried planting some of the saved lettuce seed I collected from last year's crop. Unless I just didn't do it correctly, it was a mess. I don't know how they collect lettuce seed commercially because it's such tiny seed but my way was to let the flowered heads dry out and then try to break them apart into a box or bag. It's nearly impossible and I had so much chaff mixed in I don't know if anything will grow from what I sowed or not.
I guess I need a teeny tiny thresher or something.
I also had some heirloom tomato seeds from 2009 that I had saved so I started them. I have no idea what kind of tomatoes though. I guess if they come up they'll just be surprise tomatoes.
Every year I start out so nice an organized and somehow by the middle of the season it all falls to hell and I have no idea what is where. Last year I used plastic forks for markers (ingenious I thought) and wrote on the handles with a sharpie what each plant was, stuck the fork beside it and figured I was good. Then the writing wore off... completely. More mystery crops.
Sure you can tell a tomato from a pepper from a potato, but I wanted to know what kind of tomato, pepper and potato it was.
Another year I used wooden craft sticks. Same problem.
I guess I'm just destined to organizational failure as far as identification goes. I would have made a poor botanist.
I had to make a note on the bar, along with my chicken note, bunny note, etc so I wouldn't forget to check on my plants out there every day along with the other things we try to keep alive. If it's not on a note somewhere, it's not going to happen.
We finally killed one of the mean roosters. My poor little hens are just beat up from the constant humping. At least they'll have to endure half as much now. Maybe some of their feathers will grow back in.
Bryon skinned him (no easy task, he was a tough bird!) and I cooked him up in the crock pot last night. We'll probably eat him this evening. His dark meet was incredibly dark which turns me off. I like the white meat. I won't be raising any of these Buckeye's for meat birds now.
The longer I have these heirloom Buckeyes, the more I appreciate my first barnyard mix of hens. Those girls were good layers, used the nesting boxes and were friendly and good natured. Of course I didn't have a rooster with them but these Buckeyes won't lay an egg in the nesting boxes for anything and as a result they get the eggs really dirty with poop. Some veteran farmers say clean them off and eat them, others say throw them out. I've done some of both but really I would just like clean eggs so I didn't have to worry about it.
I am about ready to just forget about having a rooster and buy a few new chicks from Orchelin's and go back to what was working for me. Sometimes new (or in this case heirloom) may not be better. At least not for me.
My bees have been buzzing around like crazy. I was worried about them because last fall when I went out to check on them to see if there was any honey, it didn't appear as if they had been doing much of anything. I didn't really think they had enough honey to get through the winter. I have been seeing a bunch of bees around and on the front of the hive but I was afraid that maybe they were just robbing my hive. Now I am pretty sure they are still in residence so I've been feeding them again. I don't want to use any chemicals on them anymore so last year before I got this batch of bees I stripped out all the comb and redid everything and basically put them in there and let them fend for themselves.
So I'm not going to be surprised if they die out, but you know, bees have been surviving a long time before we started "keeping" them. I think they just need to learn to be bees again and devolve a little. I think it would help if everyone wasn't spraying so much poison on everything and they weren't pollinating a bunch of genetically modified crops but that's a whole other post.
The bunnies are still busy making garden manure. No surprises since they got separated. I know Cocoa (the girl) is happier.
So now, we just have to wait for warmer days until things get into full swing.
This could be the best farm year so far... ever hopeful ;)