Just wanted to post a quick update on the happenings around here.
Being bombarded by cucumbers right now. After I get to 200 pints of pickles(which will be soon) the rest will be for sale and/or chicken food. This has been our best year to date for cucumbers, grapes, garlic, onions, carrots, quinoa, and corn. Our best year overall since we’ve been here. Tomatoes will consume my time in the coming weeks- sauces, diced, salsa, soup, etc.
Bees have given me quite the education this year. We have 4 colonies right now. I’ve harvested around 100 lbs. of honey and that amount should double in the coming weeks. Notice the sexy squares of raw comb honey on the right in the picture collage above. Looks like we should have some for sale soon! It’s freaking delicious. Speaking of delicious- I’m taste testing my first batch of sweet mead(honey wine) right now.
This lifestyle is a lot of hard work. I am working about 14-16 hours a day just to keep up around here. Canning, dehydrating, harvesting, raising a duckling, caring for bees, splitting firewood, planting second crops, etc…from the time I get up until well after dark. This time of year is crazy for me. I have had no time to blog lately. I promise a “megablog” soon. Probably not as long as the turkey story though, my fingers damn near fell off after that one!
Part of homesteading is learning to take the good with the bad. On Friday, Steve discovered our female duck Mildred(aka Millie) had been killed by a wild animal. We made the choice to let our ducks pasture(free to roam the property.) In making that choice, we knew this was always a possibility. It doesn’t make it any easier.
We are fortunate though, some of her eggs were saved. In 26 days we should have some little Millies to carry on her legacy.
Here at WellsKept Farm, we are all about learning through experience. Not too long ago I gave a few of our girl Millie’s eggs to a kindergarten teacher in Sylvania, OH. Well… they hatched and are as cute as can be!
I am told they have already gone to good homes. One of the homes will be parading them around in the duck pageant circuit (yes there is such a thing). I am hoping for pictures in the future.
What I learned is that our girls’ eggs are fertile. After speaking with the teacher that hatched our eggs, we too should have had hatchlings. After candling Mildred’s clutch, we discovered that she is still learning how to nest properly and we also learned that her eggs are delicious. She is sitting on them longer every day and we check them every so often, still giving her the opportunity to rear her own and let nature take it’s course. For now, we are still learning the way of the Cayuga duck.
Mosquito season is officially upon us. Most of the planting is done, and the rest should be finished up in a few days. As usual, I don’t trust the “weathermen” and have been watering every day. I cannot stress enough the importance of mulching around plants. Mulch keeps the moisture in and the weeds out. It’s a win-win. Having said that, some “weeds”(like- purslane, wood sorrel, lamb’s quarter, dandelion, etc.) are edible and highly nutritious, and I let a few of them grow. Others become chicken food.
Several different types of bees are buzzing around here. I have lost count of how many times I have been stung. They don’t bother me much, they’re just annoying like mosquito and fly bites. I don’t want to cut the grass because of all the clover flowers. Think I’ll let it go a few more days. Cutting grass is silly anyway, right? Use it for mulch.
The Navajo Blackberries(flowers pictured above) are so happy, ever since I built them a caged trellis and mulched them in good. Beautiful.
Well…enough of this computer stuff, I have to go add to my mosquito bite collection.
The wild places have many lessons to teach. Some lessons we are eager to learn, some we wished we hadn’t learned, and some we don’t even realize we are learning at the time.
If you know me at all, you know I crave my time outdoors. In the spring, amidst all of the crop planting, beehive maintenance, and fowl raising that goes on around here, there is a ritual that consumes most of my thoughts- turkey hunting. Continue reading Humbled By An Old Turkey→
…Ducklings! Anticipation is filling our homestead. We have decided to let our girl Millie sit on her clutch of eggs. As of today, she is sitting on 23 eggs and we are not quite sure what we are getting ourselves into. We knew after raising our three ducks, the only way we would have more is if it happened naturally. So we are letting nature take it’s course. Our mama duck was nice enough to make her nest on the patio by our back door under our firewood pile. Not the best spot for a nest, but all the eggs are in one place so it makes it easier for a daily count. When Millie first started laying, we found eggs everywhere, including the pond. Now she is a pro!
Her boyfriends (and bodyguards) Milhouse and Moe wait patiently for her to take a break from nesting so they can play in the pond and eat grubs and slugs together. While Mille is all about the nest, Moe and Milhouse are all about charging anyone they feel is getting too close to their lady (mainly our dog Olive and our cat Franklin) and it’s a hoot!
We are finally getting the February I was waiting for. Ha. Ha. We’ve had more snow the last couple days and there’s even some falling this morning. This IS NW Ohio. It snows in April sometimes. That’s why we wait until mid-May to do most of our planting! I am tired of hearing complaints about the weather. I’m pretty sure Florida still welcomes new residents if it bothers you that much. It will be “mosquito season” here soon enough. I was swatting them in early March and I removed a tick from our cat’s face a few weeks ago. That’s a little too early for me.
I love the snow…and so does Olive ! ! !
Gobble ! Gobble ! Gobble ! Gobble !
Those are the infectious sounds that echo throughout the Oak Openings region this time of year. I was lucky enough to attend a “turkey concert” this morning. I hope to get a front row seat next week when spring turkey season starts. We love organic, free-range, locally grown, self-harvested wild meat…fry it up!
Remember this little “science experiment” in grade school? What a great way to get sweet potatoes started for the garden. Just one organic sweet potato (even a small “ugly” one like I used) can produce dozens of plant starts. Other supplies needed include: a jar, 4 toothpicks, water, and a sunny windowsill. Put toothpicks in the middle, so the sweet potato sits halfway in the jar and fill the jar with water. Put in a warm windowsill. After a week or two, roots will start to form.
Add water as needed, so the roots stay submerged. Remove sprouts when they are 6″ or taller and put them in a separate jar of water. After the sprouts form roots, you can plant them directly in the ground, or put them in pots and continue growing in a windowsill before planting outside. I have had more luck rooting them in soil before transplanting. I wait until late May/ early June here in NW Ohio before I plant them in mounds outside. They like warmer weather. Enjoy your harvest in the fall…right around the time of the first frost.
Speaking of warmer weather…
Yes, it has been snowing here today. Today’s weather has also included high winds, sunshine, pea-sized hail, rain, freezing rain, and…a chorus of frogs!
Spring has finally arrived here in the beautiful Oak Openings region and so has our new website! Here at the homestead we are very busy getting plants started and raised beds ready for planting. The bees survived the winter and they have been out and about. We’re looking forward to the best season yet. Now you can read about our experiences right here. Grow, laugh, and cry along with us. We welcome your feedback, as always. Until next time…go get some dirt on your hands!!!