It has been a nice, calm, uneventful week here at WCF. Just what we needed after several weeks of crazy. We got some warm days and some rain – both good for our gardens full of new seeds and seedlings.
Garden Progress Update
We have done a lot of planting, hardening off of plants, transplanting, filling wall-o-waters, and general gardening this week.
Medicinal Herb Garden- The medicinal herbs are the last things to come up here, due to the cold climate. So not much is happening in this garden. The chives are up, as is the rhubarb. The yarrow is just starting up. The apple trees and the lilac bush are just barely starting to form leaf buds.
Garlic/Onion Patch- This year this is actually the garlic/potato patch, and I have spread the onions here and there and everywhere in my other gardens for pest control. The Northern White garlic are up and going strong, the Spanish Roja are sparse and a bit behind, but this is what happened last year too and the Spanish Roja produced fine by the end of the season. The potatoes are in the ground.
Upper Vegetable Garden- We have the tents and the Wall-O-Waters up to extend our season and get some plants in the ground early. Our last frost of the season is still a ways away, and these make it so we can actually grow something in our short, 10-week frost to frost season.
We have tomatoes, squash, and peppers in the WOWs. And there are cabbage seedlings in the tents, along with lettuce, spinach, kale, radish, and beet seeds in the ground. The carrots and pea seeds are also in the ground. We should have some tiny sprouts coming up all over very soon.
Strawberry Patch and Strawberry Terrace- The old strawberry patch is coming up nicely. We finished the strawberry terrace and were only planting one level this year because we only had enough compost and soil for one level. We were unable to find much in the way of plants at the garden centers around our area (coronavirus has everyone planting gardens), so I couldn’t find any new strawberries to put in that one level. Then I decided to change the landscaping of the front edge of the existing patch. It previously had a little wire decorative fence and some 2-inch thick bricks between it and the path. This caused the strawberries to spill out onto the path, and the little fence was faded an breaking after only a couple of years of use. I decided to use thicker bricks to hold it back better. In the process of changing out, there were many strawberry plants crowded up at the front of the patch that needed to come out. Most years I try to cut all the runners, but a few times in the last few years I was too busy in the fall with Mr. Smiles’ surgeries and hospitalizations to get around to cutting runners. So the strawberries had run rampant and were overcrowded all along the front edge. As I worked to take out the crowded berry plants I was shocked to find that after only being 1/4 of the way across the front I had filled the one terrace box I wanted to fill. So then I put compost and dirt into the second terrace, and by halfway across the front of the patch I had filled the second terrace box.
The third terrace still needs more construction on it, so Little Miss and Braveheart found an area around the chicken coop where they wanted to make their own strawberry patch. So they built that with some decorative bricks, and by 3/4 of the way across the patch I had filled their patch with berry plants. I had no idea that my strawberries had gotten SO crowded!!!
The last 1/4 of the front edge gave me 15 plants, and I was out of space, so I was able to share that with a friend who gardens as well. What a blessing! Here I was trying to buy new plants, when I had plenty at my disposal. Technically, the books suggest you don’t do what I did due to pests and disease, but thankfully, here in the high Rockies, pests and disease are not as big of an issue as other places due to our dry climate, and the fact that we get so very cold in the winter. I think this will work fine and the strawberries will produce much better now that they have more space. Now I just need to thin out the rest of the patch a little bit. The front was definitely the worst, because it gets more sun, so they were reaching for it. But the rest of the patch could use some help too.
Berry Bushes and Grape Vines- The grape vines are always late to get going due to the cold, so nothing is happening with them yet. But the Gooseberry bushes and the Currant bushes are covered with leaves. One Gooseberry bush has some flowers on it too. We planted the new Gooseberry bush that was eaten by worms, and it looks like it is going to recover pretty well. We also planted the Black Currant bush that surprised us earlier this year. It has not been as happy with its transplant as the Gooseberry is, and we decided to put a Wall-o-water around it to help boost it along.
Lower Vegetable Garden- It is fun to begin to use our new vegetable garden, even if it is only 2/3 built. Next year we will have the whole thing finished. We have tomatoes in the WOWs, as well as lettuce, spinach, kale, radish, and beet seeds in the tents. And carrot and pea seeds are in the ground as well. Watching for the little seedlings to pop up!
This week our aged cheddar was 5 months old. We at half of it at 3 months, and then put the other half back in the cheese cave to try again at 5 months and 7 months. This week we tried the 1/4 that has been aging for 5 months.
The flavor was excellent! Better than the 3 month for sure. So I think we will try to age all our cheddar to at least 5 months. We will see in a couple of months what 7 months tastes like.
Now that we are getting plenty of raw milk, we have started making more and more of our homemade dairy products again. Twice a week I am making a quart of sheep’s milk yogurt. I am really enjoying how much easier my instant pot is for yogurt-making. This week we also made some Paneer. Paneer is an Indian cheese, and Sunshine has been trying out all sorts of Indian recipes lately and requested that we make her some. I am planning to make some aged cheese this coming week, as well as Chevre now that we can drink the goat’s milk (because we had to assist with her birth she had to have an antibiotic shot, so we had to wait a week before we could drink the milk).
All the mothers and babies are doing well. We are all enjoying the cuteness of the lambs and kid playing together – who needs TV when you have a barnyard full of fun? The chickens are still not very thrilled with the new additions, especially Misty, who chases them constantly. But they are settling in to the new situation.
We were gifted an old feeder that we are trying out for the sheep and goats, it seems like it is going to work very well. As you can see, Pansy the goat can be quite pushy and in this photo has a whole side to herself, but Fiona the sheep is dominant over her, so Fiona keeps everyone moving around the feeder and makes her share.
We have been making a lot of breeding program decisions this week, now that all but one sheep have lambed. Autumn and Twilight have been sold and left for their new home. Remi has also been sold and will go to the same place as them, but not for a few more weeks. Daisy and Misty will likely be for sale, and we have some people interested in them already, but we will not be making those final decisions until Maggie gives birth and we are closer to weaning all the lambs. We did buy a new ram from out of state, and he will be arriving next week. Fiona, Blue, and Nora are all guaranteed to stay here for breeding. Time will tell who else will stay.
The two sets of baby chicks are growing well. Our old broody hen, Eve, has decided to set again, so we gave her hatching eggs this morning and should have some more chicks in a few weeks.
Busy spring on the farm!