Garlic Prepping Completed!

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On this grey, dismal Vermont September day I decided to leap into action and prep my garlic patch!
I ordered and picked up yesterday via a motorcycle(what were we thinking!)0-10-10 fertilizer from our friends at HomeDepot. Thankfully it fit in the saddlebag, but the door jamb we decided to purchase did not, what an adventurous 25mile return we had! For the record, I don’t recommend this, we essentially created a giant sail…..
Anyway! On this gloomy, chilly day (~ ohhh just checked, it’s 3:40 in the afternoon and it is a balmy 51 degrees! Break out the parkas!) I decided to prep the garlic patch.

I started by scratching my head, as the world is a math problem. I had a 4′X12′ Garden patch, a 1.5 liter spray applicator for the fertilizer, which stated I needed to apply this liquid fertilizer at the rate of 1T/25 sq ft. My head hurts. I worked it out, then requested Johnny to mix me a cocktail. No! I then requested Johnny to check my math and yes, I was correct. We went with 1t/1.5 liter applicator X 2 applications for about 50′. Take that! Just in time for the rains to thoroughly soak into the soil.

Thankfully it’s not a blustery day(it was 2 days ago, I thought I saw the Wicked Witch fly by quite honestly!) and I was able to fly solo and place the Garden Mat down post fertilizer and place in the stakes. Yay! Now I just need to purchase the garlic bulbs for planting.

I have 88 spots for garlic. I am going to use a mix of 75% Hardneck and 25% Softneck garlic: The Hardneck type has fewer, but larger cloves and does well in the arctic tundra we call home. They have less of an outer bulb wrapper, so their shelf life is shorter than that of Softneck.

Everybody Salsa!

Thanks to Heidi’s ‘tater for mater’ swap I was able to make some delicious salsa on Friday!IMG_2763

I was experiencing a problem with my hot water canner, it was my mothers and was showing it’s age by leaving a fine mineral film all over my cans.  The canner is deteriorating.  Both the unit itself and the wire can insert.  After I produced this batch I decided it was time to start investigating a new canner.  I just so happened to be heading into town to go grocery shopping and to pick up a few birthday gifts. One of which was at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Anarchy I tell you.  What was I thinking?!?  All the students have returned to my college city of Burlington, Vermont.  Krikies mate!  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough!  I quickly found the birthday gift I was seeking and lucky me!  I found a slightly dented canner on the ‘sale’ shelf along with a handy 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon that I swear seem to multiply in the bottom of my purse, I scored a new set up for like 16 bucks!  Yay!  What can I can?!?!

IMG_2765It takes me about 4 hours from beginning to end to create 13 pints of salsa.

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The glass containers are all prepped and ready for their hot water bath.

I heat them along with the canning water, then remove them and fill them with the salsa, cap, then return to the hot water bath.

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The salsa in the pot.

 

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This years completed salsa.

 

 

 

I would like to make another batch.  It depends on my tomato situation.  Which I’m sad to report has not made any vast improvements from the last time I blogged.  Rats.

On the other hand ~ the turk poulets continue to look fabulous!  Go POULTS!

Today’s word to consider:  breathe.  It’s a spectacular day here in Vermont.  Take a minute, close your eyes, and simply breathe.

 

 

Someone is Slacking

When I gather the eggs around 4pm daily I am always amazed at the different sized eggs.  I currently have 4 sets of ladies in different stages of laying, laying vastly different sized eggs.  It’s interesting how even when the ladies are the same age, breed, eat the same feed, their eggs vary in size greatly.

Here is what I received yesterday:IMG_2744

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Their sizes were (top to bottom):

47g, 51g, 64, and the birdzilla sized: 111g – WOW!

They picture does not due the 51g justice as it is a beautiful blue Amerucana chicken egg.  Chicken egg colors are determined by the color of their legs,  Amerucana chickens do not have baby blue legs, their legs are more a blue/grey hew, which is close to the egg’s color.

This is the first year that the ladies are all over the farm too.  Not a day goes by that I’m not looking out a window and ‘oh!  look!  a chicken’ wandering around my yard.   We jacked up the barn in preparation to cement it, so the ladies are ducking under the barn and slipping out of the farm and taking daily strolls around the gardens.  Perhaps I need to provide them with parasols and they can really enjoy their walks about the grounds!

The current picture featured on the home page of the website is a corner of the chicken area where the have’s (the courage ~ or stupidity ~ take your pick ~ to escape) and have not’s, meet.

Dayna received a few ‘filler birds’ this spring when her magpies were delivered.  Since they grew up in the same brooder as the magpies, as adults they don’t want to leave the duck enclosure.  I also have 5 Buff Orpingtons and 4 Amerucana’s that have decided that they want nothing to do with those ladies in the coop and have taken up residency with the ducks, turkeys and geese.  I will let them chill with them as long as possible, though finding their eggs is like a daily Easter Egg hunt.   When the November winds start to blow we will close the ‘chicken run’ (an enclosed ramp we built from the coop to the farm that allows them to slip down a shoot and end up in the pasture if they choose), by closing it, they have no choice but to stay in the boring coop.  But they will be safe, warm and feed there ~ certainly beats the wilds of the pasture in winter!IMG_2697The ‘escapee’s’ of the day!

The grass is in fact greener.  Can’t blame them!

The Word of the Day:  Courage

Go out there and do something outside your comfort zone and let me know how it goes!   Blogging is outside my comfort zone.  So I’m good for the day!  Enjoy!

Garlic and WeedMats

For the most part our garden grew beautiful weeds this year as our rototiller decided to take an impromptu vacation mid season.  What survived were the beautiful potatoes, onions, sunflowers, beans, carrots, beets, kale, lettuce and herbs.  Oddly enough not a single cuke, squash or what I though were impenetrable in any garden:  zuke’s.

The tomatoes in the garden are looking sad, time will tell what we will end up with.  In the meantime, the Great ‘tater for mater’ swap proved fruitful!  Thanks Heidi!

The great 'tater for mater' swap!  Bern-dog and I biked over to Heidi's and traded 10lbs of taters for 10lbs of maters.
The great ‘tater for mater’ swap! Bern-dog and I biked over to Heidi’s and traded 10lbs of taters for 10lbs of maters.

The asparagus garden was pretty prolific too, now to get the family to eat asparagus……I personally love it, the rest of the family has it’s doubts.   John did unwittingly consume asparagus soup at a wine dinner at the Grand Isle Lake house a while back and enjoyed it.  He certainly was shocked to discover it was asparagus!

I diligently tended to the strawberries this spring and they rewarded me with a lovely harvest, I made one round of jam, we froze and ate the rest.  In retrospect, I should have made another 2 rounds of jam, but to late now!   I weeded them again over the weekend, moved some plants around and reworked the straw around the plants.

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The deer enjoyed the peas I planted, nibbled the tops right off of them!  They were also kind enough to munch on the butter head and Romain lettuces.  Lesson learned, next year we are installing a fence.

We harvested our garlic a week ago, it wasn’t anything to write home about.  You reap what you sow, I haphazardly tossed in a few garlic bulbs that I had hanging around last October.

So, for this year, I just ordered a ‘Garden Mat’  http://gardenmats.com  for garlic, (oh! btw JB, I just ordered 2 mats…) that will enable me to plant 88 bulbs of garlic, weed free.  The other mat will be for a fall planting of lettuce, kale and spinach.  Take that you vacating rototiller!  Garlic bulbs will arrive in our local nursery’s mid September, I have marked my calendar to start looking on 9.15, I will plant early October.  My mats should arrive by the end of this week(they actually arrived two days later, on Wednesday!  That’s service!  I was going to post this blog earlier, but the Turkey Surprise preempted this blog!).IMG_2753We will need to till under the weed fest growing there now with a $25 rototiller we purchased at a yard sale 2 weeks ago – it too needs some TLC, and prayerfully we will be up and running in a week so we can prep the soil for the garlic.

Garlic to the left, 3 Strawberry beds to the right.
Garlic to the left, 3 Strawberry beds to the right.

 

 

 

Turkey Surprise

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours mowing and then using the lawn sweeper to pick up clippings.  On my second trip out the farm to dump my clippings I noticed over by the duck pasture that our wayward turkey hen, Henrietta, had decided to mosey on home.

She had been gone a while, I remember seeing her perhaps 2 weeks ago, and then she vanished again.  I let John know I hadn’t seen her in a while just this past weekend, we decided to take a cruise around the farm on foot and via tractor, only to come up empty.  She has found a good hiding place.

Needless to say I was happy to see her come home.  Yay!  Then I looked real close, as the grass on the farm side is high,  not ‘hay’ high,  but deep enough to not notice anything different from a distance.  The lawn tractor was idling, so it was noisy, yet, I noticed a commotion between the birds, I hopped off the lawn tractor and wandered over to see…..8 turkey poults trailing behind Miss Henrietta!

Turkey Surprise!
Turkey Surprise!

Look closely here, you will see 6 of the 8  baby poults to the right of Henrietta.

(the brown hen in the middle)

 

 

I could not believe that she hatched them!  The last time she spent time on eggs this is what we discovered she was attempting to hatch:

It's a rock

That would be a rock.

We kept it.

It’s a good conversation piece.

Cell phones are the bestest invention ever!  I called Clay(he just returned from NY where he passed his NASM exam ~ GO CLAY!) and asked if he could high tail it over to the duck pasture.  Over he came and we gathered up 8 poults and moved them over to the ‘big bird cage” ~  a 8X20X6′ structure that has a chicken wire top and sides.   It currently contains 3 older turkey poults(a story for another day) and a lame Peking Duck.  We placed the new poults in the cage and it was utter anarchy!  They scattered and dove for any poult size opening they could find.  And they found them.  Out they went.  Henrietta(whom we were going to put in there too)was on the outside having a hysterical(can you blame her!)hissy fit, Clay and I are diving for openings and poults and they were gone!

We managed to round up 7 of the 8 and place them  into a blue bin while we prepped the brooder in the chicken coop.  Brooder, light, food, water…..electricity would be good here.  Sadly electricity is not to be had as my mission this year is to get our astronomical electric bill smaller than the GNP of a small 3rd world country.  JB has cut electricity to the farm and is working on it.    No power anywhere on the farm.

No sooner do we have the brooder set up in the coop, then out it goes!   Scoop the poults back up, into the blue bin they go again, and we schlep the brooder to where the electricity is: the basement.

Food, water, fake sun, poults into the brooder, sans Houdini poult who we have yet to find.

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Here we are happy and safe in the brooder in the basement.

Clay hops on the mower and finishes mowing and sweeping for me while I search high and low for Houdini.  HOURS pass.  Have not found Houdini.

IMG_2738Henrietta in search of her poults….

I was hoping that Henrietta’s frantic ‘chirping’ would bring in Houdini.  It did not, and she left, most likely heading back to where she hatched the brood in search of them.   I feel horrible as ideally I wanted Henrietta and her poults to stay together in the big bird cage, but that wasn’t going to work.

She had not returned by 9pm last evening when I locked the duck and turkey crew in the pasture.

I did however find Houdini!  It was on the outside of the pasture on the road side, hunkered down in the tall grass by the fence corner  where we had earlier heard it chirping but couldn’t locate it.

We both got lucky.  Into the brooder Houdini went.

This morning I wandered out to the duck pasture to feed them ~ the turkeys fly back and forth between pastures ~ really, why do I bother to lock the gate you ask?  I ask the same question.  I guess to give myself a false sense of security.   Henrietta had returned.

Peace and tranquility return over the land.


I say Potato, you say Po-tah-to

We have started the harvest of our potatoes.  This year we planted three 25′ rows of potatoes from Johnny’s Seeds in Maine.   Red, White and Blues.

Patriotic Potatoes from Vermont

 

Over the weekend, John and Clay built me a potato storage bin – a little on the big side, guess they are expecting LOTS of potatoes.   They are going to insert a divider and we can store onions there too.

 

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Where to put this lovely new potato bin?!  Since we don’t have a root cellar, and the attic is a full walk up type, but not heated, ergo in the winter everything freezes….The coolest location in the house this winter will be my gym ~ it is in the basement, though we have a wood furnace to heat the house down there, I keep the door closed so I can exercise(or think about exercising!) in a cool room.  Into the gym it goes….and we placed in our first harvest.  We have harvested about 1/2 our crop so far, we will finish later this week.

We have been making all sorts of yummy potato dishes and sharing them with our friends.

 

Barn renovation part deux

After living with a gravel floor in the barn for 5+ years, I decided to pour a concrete floor and update the interior. This change was necessitated by the addition of hogs…..who can dig a hole to China with their snouts if allowed. I am also tired of the spring melt turning the firm packed floor into a mud pit. There are several side benefits to “concreting” the floor 1) adding a 4″ slab will require raising the barn higher – adding 6″ so I have a bit more head room from the immovable 12″x12″ wooden beams 2) hard surface to work on tractors without worry of a jack falling to one side 3) digging new water lines to put water hydrant inside barn – lugging water is NOT a joy and 4) will stop the Vermont winter frost heaves freezing my 14′x14′ sliding barn doors shut. Not to mention the renovation of the interior. So……I am off to lift the barn.

I have re-discovered the troubles I had when I first renovated the barn….”field stone” foundation piers do not provide a level work surface to put concrete blocks upon. After 5 years the solid blocks have cracked and some need to be replaced. I also have rediscovered jacking up ?# tons of barn requires a VERY firm foundation for the hydraulic jack. Even though I have 4 jacks, I have 16 foundation posts to lift……some multiple times.

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Delicate balancing act
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Those lovely 5’11″ high beams
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Before original renovation

Welcome to our farm

Welcome to 3 Sheeps to the Wind farm LLC.

We are located at 75 Adams School Road in Grand Isle, Vermont.

In spring of 2014 with much sadness we decided to sell our flock and Sillouette, the guard llama.   It was necessary to ‘rework’ the water situation here on the farm.   We found them a wonderful new shepherdess in southern Vermont and we bid them a fond farewell.

We have plenty of laying chickens and have a farm stand out front where we sell eggs all year round.  We tried ‘meat birds’ one year and were extremely disappointed with their lack of mobility.  Penny thought that they would be happy wandering the beau-colic pastures, but in fact, never left a 3 foot radius of where they were deposited when they graduated out of the brooder and into the coop!  It was a nice fantasy.  Never again.

In our pastures you will also find turkeys, crested ducks and runner ducks for eggs and hatchlings, just because they are so adorable!

We also have one bee hive that we are experimenting with this year.

We also sell square bale hay from our fields.

We have a pretty extensive garden and Penny makes strawberry jam from berries grown here on the farm.

We can be reached at pwyckoff@me.com

We look forward to seeing you on the farm!

John & Penny Wyckoff