Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring where's the Spring?

Today we woke up to a fresh covering of snow...what the heck, I'm on vacation with the kids for springbreak and there are so many things that we want and need to get accomplished. Luckily after lunch, the weather cleared and made it into the 40's. No sun but no snow either. Michael worked hard at making soil blocks. We got a few seeds sown and are looking forward to getting more going this week. We are forecasted for a low of 10 degrees tonight so it will still be a long-time before our last frost. Here in Idaho we are usually safe to plant anything around Memorial Day.

Terry and Christopher cleared more bramble around the perimeter of our acreage. This will look so much better asethetically and will allow us to extend out the fencing,,,,utilizing the pasture to its full advantage.
Katlyn and I made another batch of "puppy chow" aka "dinosaur treats". Here is a step-by step of the recipe: 8 cups of rice chex cereal ( I used the store brand)
melt 1 cup chocolate chips with 2/3rd cup peanut butter and pour over the cereal
spread out the coated cereal on a cookie sheet and while still "wet" coat with
powdered sugar.

Here's to hoping you can find some spring where-ever you are.......

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A little help for my friends....

Today is Tully's birthday. He turns four and is in love with dinosaurs. Sharman wasn't available to make his cake so I volunteered. I hope he likes it but I figure it is a pretty safe bet with him being four.

I also made a basket of dinosaur treats (chocolate peanut butter covered rice chex cereal) yum.....It should be a big hit. Headed over for the party soon. I'll try to catch a pic of Tully and his cake!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Time....

Well the seeds have all come in as well as a soil block maker. That's the thing on the front right of the photo. Terry ordered it for me as a surprise. I'm ready to try it out. The recipe for the block mixing recipe is: using a 10 qt. bucket
  • 3 buckets brown peat (standard peat moss)
  • 1/2 cup lime. mix ingredients together thoroughly and add
  • 2 buckets coarse sand or perlite
  • 3 cups base fertilizer (equal parts mix blood meal, colloidal phosphate and greensand. Mix thoroughly and add
  • 1 bucket garden soil
  • 2 buckets well decomposed composg. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

I plan to mix the soil together in a large storage tub. Stay tuned to see our progress here on Bent Tree Farm. If anyone has some tips, please let them for me in the comments.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fruit Trees

This Friday we had beautiful was sunny and 40 degrees. Made us really hopeful that spring will arrive sometime sooner rather than later. I had a local Mennonite man recommended to me to come and prune our fruit trees. Terry and I have attempted to trim the trees but we really didn't know what we were doing and most likely did more harm than good.

Darryl arrived around 10:00 am and spent the entire day trimming 15 trees. He started with a small cherry tree that has never produced fruit in the almost ten years that we have owned the property. This tree for the past few years leafs out beautiful but within a month, the leaves have started to curl and then turn brown and fall off. He trimmed off a larger limb that had "brown rot".

He was very patient with us and taught all of us the basics of pruning and care for healthy fruit trees. We decided to make this investment this year with the rising cost of groceries, we want to ensure that we can have the best fruit to preserve and perhaps barter the extra.

We have 2 cherry trees, 1 Italian plum, 3 red plums, 1 pear, 3 apricot, and 5 apple. There is a very large apple tree that we have never attempted to prune that he estimates will take 2 hours to prune. He ran out of daylight and will have to come back another day to finish.

Our chore on the next pretty day, hopefully this next week, will be to spray dormant oil on the entire tree....from trunk to end of all the limbs. As Darryl explained, the dormant oil will suffocate any eggs or insects in the bark. We have never done this previously to any of our trees and we have had issues with spots on our fruit. Hopefully this will do the trick.

He also highly recommended that we put out fertilizer spikes around the drip line of the tree. We have done this previously, but not consistently.

You guys may know all this stuff but we didn't so I thought I would share. If I missed anything, leave me a comment....I'll take all the info I can get.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New friends of the farm....

Today we brought home our new additions to the farm. Meet Mr. Freezer. He is a holstein bull calf that will be fed up and butchered to feed our family. We purchased two holstein bull calves this fall that both ended up dying in the sub-zero winter of North Idaho. Hopefully, this guy will fare much better and fill our freezer.

These are our three lovely ladies. All three are bred and should kid around the first couple of weeks of April. They reportedly are easy lambers and with twins. The white is a suffock and romanov cross and comes bearing the name Lamb Lamb. The other two are suffock and southdown crosses and don't really have names so we will be open to all suggestions.

This brings the animal tally as follows:
  • 4 horses (Lena, Tanner, Hoss, and Pearl)
  • 3 cows (Gertie, Betty, and Mr. Freezer)
  • 3 pigs (Patrick, Petunia, and Spam)
  • 2 goats (Rosie and Peanut)
  • 3 sheep (Lamb Lamb, ? and ?)
  • 16 chickens

Other animals that will be coming to live on Bent Tree Farm this spring, include: pastured meat birds. I would love to have a dairy cow but that's still in the discussion stage. In order for these animals to provide for our self-sufficiency, we must grow a majority of their food. We ordered mangel seeds that we will sow in the pasture. Growing mangels is a new venture for us but through our studies looks to be a very good source of sustenance through the winter months. It has also been suggested that we plant amaranth and comfry. What are you all planting to feed your animals? Please share your successes and failures so that we can learn from each other!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bring on the bacon...

Today we were able to purchase two new pigs. They were born in December and are probably already 125 pounds.....on their way. This handsome gentleman (the pig, not Terry) will be butchered in a couple three months and the female we purchased will be our breeding sow. She will affectionately be known as Petunia.

We also took our two goats to be bred today. Hopefully it won't be too late and they will both take. They are both being bred to a really nice Boer stud. Rosie is a Nubian and Peanut is a Nubian/Boer cross.
All this toting around of the animals was made possible because we SCORED major yesterday. Christopher, our eldest son, loves to scour Craigslist. He saw a great 2-horse straight load, bumper pull. It is a 1969 model but had recently been sandblasted and re-painted. It is awesome. We paid $500.00 for it. They had been asking $1500.00 but recently dropped the price because they live in a subdivision and the neighbors were fussing about it being parked in the alley......their loss and most definitely our gain. This will help so much around the homestead. Tomorrow we will use it again as we are picking up three bred sheep....oh yea!! A regular working homestead. Tune in tomorrow and meet the sheep...our newest three to join Bent Tree Farm.