Saturday, May 11, 2013

::tough farm spring::

My pasture is still a pond.  See the tiny little beach ball floating on the horse poop floating island?

Spring is always a busy time of year but this year has been tougher than most.  Getting the stock for 4H, getting the garden in, cleaning up from winter, plus all the usual busy family stuff, the flood, suicidal ducks, power washing everything, and on and on and on and on.  The flood we had this year has eaten up tons of time, and has proven to be the final straw for me.  I am trying to keep a positive outlook but it becomes a bit of a struggle when I feel like I am literally and figuratively treading water at our farm.  Inspired by a very optimistic friend at work I am going to make a list of the things that are done - then think about what else needs to happen.


Done: We finally got our grass cut - that sounds so basic but it's not a simple job when it is over 12 inches tall and takes up about four acres.  Plus you can't mow when Quinn is around.  Then all that grass has to be picked up because it is as thick as mulch if you just left it on the ground.  The great part is that I ended up with all this wonderful grass mulch.  I have a huge pile by my Orchard Garden and plenty left for the Cottage Garden.  I have always wanted tons of grass clipping mulch to use in my gardens - now I have it. 
Still needs to be done: The grass is a never ending battle.  We just need less of it.  We have the livestock to graze it, but the cost of fencing has been a major issue.  We need to make this more of a priority.  All that mowing is a waste of gas and a waste of Josh's time.  (PS- I don't mow.)


Done:  I got my blueberries mulched!  For years I have wanted to weed mat and mulch my blueberries and with the crazy amount of mulch I have now I managed to get it done.  It looks so clean and loved.  Quinn was very not helpful but at least him throwing grass around was not really destructive.
Still needs to be done:  Three of these plants died in the drought last year.  I need to plant four new ones in this row this year to finish it out.

Done:  With my Lily to help I got the start of my weed mat placed in the Orchard Garden.  I got my broccoli planted in the first row, this is pretty late for me to get broccoli in the ground but it will just have to do.  Then I trimmed off Bruno's matted tail fur and got it sprinkled around them to help deter rabbits from eating them up.  The dogs patrol this area but not as closely as they guard the Cottage Garden, hince the tail fur trick.  We will see if it works.  I got one row of tomatoes planted too.
Still needs to be done: Brace the tomatoes, plant a row of green beans and brace them, plant a row of gourds and winter squash, and plant a shit ton of melons.  MELONS!!!!  I can't wait for those puppies.

Josh moved the swing set out of its current spot and scraped up all the old weed mat and weeds.  We placed that weed mat ten years ago and so much soil was on top of it that we could have planted a garden above it.  Underneath all that is this gorgeous top soil that makes me want to turn it into another garden.  NOT WHAT I NEED!  STOP ME!!  This was a big job but will be way worth it.
Still needs to be done: Weed mat the area and mulch the ever loving molasses out of it.  Leave some room to add some of the cool Pintrest playground ideas that I adore.


The horse tank planter finally got some love.  We had filled it with compost last year but then we had that insanity of thinking of moving, and I just ignored it.  This year I built a stick fence around it to keep out animals and babies - or at least slow them down.  Then we planted an Early Girl tomato on one side and a Sweet 100 cherry tomato on the other side.  Just to make life interested we planted some "Dr. Seuss Flowers", as we like to call them, along the front.  I was super impressed with Emma and Lily.  I explained to them how I plant tomatoes on their side and why.  They were really listening and they did all the actual planting.  The got those flowers planted in about 5 minutes.  Those are two future gardeners and it warmed my heart.
Still needs to be done:  Mulch that thing and get some strong tomato cages to make those tomatoes look pretty.  Research correct tomato pruning technique, don't just make it up like I usually do.  I also want to try out some deep watering techniques, like burying a 2 liter bottle upside down next to the plant.  That may be overkill for a container tomato, but I am just curious to play around.

We went to my favorite local garden stand and the three older kids each got to pick out one flower plant.  Anything they wanted.  You would have thought I was buying them each a pony.  They searched and debated with great seriousness.  Then they each picked out something gorgeous.  We found a careful spot in the house beds for Max to plant his four pack of flowers.  He may have accidentally stepped on one and broke it, but he still felt it was a great success.  Emma and Lily each planted their plants in the center of one of my Cottage Garden log planters and then surrounded them with trailing white Petunias.  They look so pretty already, when they come in they will be really something.  Emma planted my four Gerber Daisies in the red pot by the house.  Then we prepped and planted Zinnias in front of the Cottage Garden, and sunflowers along the back.  I love the concept of edible landscape, but sometimes you just need some flowers.
Still needs to be done: STOP.  I can plant flowers forever, but it is time to stop.


Speaking of edible landscape - I planted two Pink Lemonade blueberry bushes in the house beds.  They are tiny, but they will be so pretty in a few years.  I put them in an empty spot next to my roses and I hope they will all work well together.  Further down the side of the house I had a Oregano plant that needed a friend.  It got a purple basil, a green basil, and some mint.
Still needs to be done:  Place some sticks around the baby blues to protect them from Silver Faced Lab trying to flop onto them as a great nap site.
The little herb garden is fine for this year.


Before the big flood I had planted peas along the front of my Cottage Garden and along the front of the house.  They all were underwater but somehow they are still coming on strong.  Now I have to figure out what else I am going to plant along the front.  Maybe another trip to the flower shop?
Still needs to be done:  I was supposed to stop with flowers right?  Maybe I already forgot.


I cleaned out my tack/feed room.  It was very damaged in the flood.  By cleaned it I mean - took everything out, power washed it, cleaned everything, put it back better than before.  It looks so good.  Everything in its place and a place for everything.  I hung up a saddle rack that has been leaning against the wall for 10 years+ and I got a dry erase board up that I have been trying to hang forever.  All the feed bins are labeled with the correct animal.  It seems pretty basic but it was often neglected.
AND NOTHING IS LEFT TO DO IN THERE!!  One thing totally done.


The Cottage garden is almost totally planted.  6 tomatoes, onions, spinach staggered, cilantro staggered, carrots, strawberry's, parsley, lavender, flowers, peppers, chives, snap peas, peas, cucumbers, eggplant, and surely something else I am forgetting.  I have straw in the aisle ways and I like how it controls the weeds, but it feels kind of messy.  I'm not sure about it forever but it will do for this year.
Still needs to be done:  Just mini-watermelons and tomatillos need to go in.  I have a blank spot in the middle of my new strawberry bed that may end up planted with something fun.  Just some random thing I see at the store. 

Random still needs to be done:
Add grapes to the orchard.  Just flipping do it.  Stop making excuses.
Figure out the Sukkah's flooring situation.  This has to happen this summer.
Get two more apple trees.
Make an enclosed outdoor chicken run.  They need protection and they are not getting any smaller.
Try to keep my eyes open for Craigslist railroad ties to keep fixing the driveway.  This is a big curb appeal issue. 
Set up portable goat grazing pen for adult wether and overweight females.  Basically any goat that doesn't need grain.  Consider setting something similar for the sheep.  These need some kind of shelter with them, like a dog house.  Then I will move them around the farm and let the goats/sheep keep the weeds at the fence lines under control.
Compost, mat, and mulch the house bed in front of the kids windows.  This needs prepped to be perfected for next year.
Trim trees and thin out trees that are too crowded.

Not that I am begging for sympathy.  I picked this crazy life.  I honestly don't know any different.  It is just getting a little tough to keep Q happy and get all the farming stuff done.  It will calm down a little bit soon.

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