State of the Homestead: May 2017

It’s been a busy Spring but I got most of my outdoor jobs (or as I like to call them, my exercises in futility) done. 🙂

In the past month, I relocated hundreds of irises, started a dozen pots of new herbs, and landscaped the front of Greg’s shop. All with recycled materials we had lying around the property.

Greg kept bugging me to buy new brick for my garden ‘patio’, but I knew I had almost enough to pave it. It’s not Martha Stewart pretty, but it suits me fine. I have a nice solid area where I can sit and rest after digging in the dirt.

Greg’s turning the back of his shop into a man cave of sorts. He built a beautiful raised bed box with a lip wide enough for sitting. He’s mostly growing herbs but he did include one tomato. To finish off his masterpiece he bought brick to pave the area around it. (I used up EVERY brick on the whole property so we had to buy new.) Here he is starting the brickwork. He’s using a basket weave pattern. Mine was more of a ‘whatever fits’ pattern. 🙂

Garden: For the most part the garden is doing well. I’m sad to report that not a single saffron bulb sprouted. I read (after the fact) that bulbs should be purchased in the fall. Saffron bulbs bought in the spring are from old stock and their sprout rate is greatly diminished. I might try again in the fall. The bulbs from Spain are supposed to be the best. Anybody going to Spain this year?

A new to me plant this year is artichokes. I started mine from seeds. They’re small yet, but growing vigorously. I think my climate is warm enough to keep them growing until next year. We’ll see.

I’m planting lots of different squashes this year, both summer and winter, but I’ve had to strategically place each type far from one another to avoid cross pollination.

There was only one bed that was trouble right from the start. Last year my potato plants were attacked by worms. I destroyed the plants (by fire) and double dug the bed hoping it would be enough to disturb any eggs.

It was not. Once again they caused damage. I’ll be pulling out the potato plants from there and then sealing the entire bed with black plastic. I’ll let the sun bake the soil in the hopes of killing whatever is in there.

It’s the only bed that gave me problems so I think a thorough solarization of the bed will effectively sterilize the soil.

Thankfully I planted a second bed of potatoes in the back and it’s doing beautifully. It’s all about not putting all your eggs, or in this case, potatoes in one bed.

Strawberries and blueberries are gorgeous this year. For me, strawberries grow better in the ground and the blueberries grow better in pots. Don’t ask me why. They just do.

Goats: I still have Ray Charles. Every time I think I’m going to list him on Craigslist, I find a reason not to do it. If I had more room, or more pens, I’d keep him and Pan, but we don’t. Pan already has a potential buyer. She has to finish weaning little Patch though.

Patch is the darling of the bunch. She’s very sociable. Her disbudding came out beautifully. That lady really knew what she was doing.

Chickens: We sent three roosters to Chicken Heaven. They were the youngest of last year’s batch but none of them started showing signs of roosterdom until recently.

I’m starting the incubator back up for a tiny batch of eggs this week. With any luck they’ll hatch in time for when my brother and his brood show up.

Tilly, the pig: This is the most rambunctious pig I’ve ever met. The other hogs we’ve raised in the past were almost sedentary. Tilly runs around her pen like it’s a racetrack. She’s a little rough on me when I bring food. She’s not mean, but she wants her grub.

Shockingly, she still doesn’t like corn. I never met a pig who didn’t like corn. Methinks this will be a very lean pig. When I have extra eggs I’ll fry a few up for her, but I run a tight kitchen and rarely have scraps. She does like the weeds I pull up for her though. She’s a lean, green, eating machine.


The dogs: Iko and Nana are good. We’ve been worrying a little about Nana. She’s been having trouble climbing and jumping. Occasionally, she limps if she’s been sitting for too long. The vet thinks it’s her weight, but I have a nagging suspicion it’s more than that. We’ve taken five pounds off her and plan to get her down another five pounds. If she’s still achy by then, we’re going to ask the vet to do some x rays.

Iko, for all his size is still a muscle machine. We’ve lowered his food intake too, but I don’t think you can see weight loss on him. He’s one giant mass of muscle.

He had his friend Ozzy over for a play date the other day. Iko tolerates Nana as an annoying little sister, but Ozzy is his buddy. He’ll even lay down so Ozzy can pounce on him.

That’s it from the farm. A little more work to finish off the rough edges and then we’ll cocoon over the hotter months.

What’s on the radar for you?






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  1. What’s on the radar for me? Nothing that elaborate, that’s for sure (I love your garden, but not envious to have my own, not in the least). Looks like Hubby will take a trip to Albany in a couple of weeks to meet a new employee (someone who has been transferred to his department) and if he can drive, I get to go with him (free trip!). Yes, Hubby is feeling MUCH better. Every day is a super improvement. I’m so relieved. 🙂

  2. Jenny Schwartz

    It’s so hard putting dogs on a diet. You can’t convince them they’ll love their new svelte figures 😉 Spring sounds like a frantically busy time of year. I’m disappointed for you that the saffron didn’t take. I was gong to live your saffron adventures vicariously. But as for all the paving … nope, don’t even want to imagine it! Scraped knuckles and sore knees!

    • Jenny: It’s been a slow diet. Mostly, we’re just cutting back, but they know they’re being cheated.

      re: saffron
      I went through so much trouble to make sure that bed was perfect too. I’ll probably try again if I can find someone more local, or a seller who offers a guarantee.

    • Betty: Well, we’ll have company in June, and then there are several design jobs conveniently popping up during the summer months, so I’ll stay busy.

      Busy is good for me. I get grouchy without a mission. 🙂

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