Life is very busy at Serenity Farm. Brad and I have been hopping from one thing to the next on the farm trying to get as much accomplished before the cold weather is here to stay. It finally feels like fall, instead of a long, never ending summer. The warmer temperatures were a blessing to us last month as it allowed our late planting for the fall to have some extra time to grow before the cooler days and nights arrived. We received our first freeze on Friday night into Saturday morning. Our tomato plants in the garden are a thing of the past and the sweet potatoes are now ready to be harvested. The row covers appeared to have done the job well and saved the small lettuces from freezing in the field. The greenhouse was nice and cool the next morning, but all looks well and is growing nicely.
Speaking of our greenhouse...we have discovered an excellent way to weed the areas where lots of grass was growing, but few to little crops, Chickens!!! Our personal broilers were being moved around the pasture each morning, but after having lots of weed/grass growth we decided to put them into the greenhouse and see what they could do. Wow! We were amazed. In a matter of hours they had cleared their section of grass, a few lettuces, and weeds and were ready to go to the next section. They created a nice seed bed for us and added a little extra fertilizer. That was a nice bonus! They should be ready for us to butcher in a couple more weeks. These chickens are the Cornish Cross and will NOT be the kind that we will raise next year for ourselves and members of Serenity Farm. These guys were at Orscheln's and we were able to get them for $1.oo a bird. That's pretty hard to pass up. They grow a little slower for us since we only feed once in the morning and then move them around for the day to forge for the rest of their food. We will be raising Freedom Ranger chicks next spring which are meant to forage on pasture, not huddle around the feed container.
Our Plymouth Barred Rock pullets are growing quite nicely. We did lose a few before moving them into the pasture and I believe I know who the culprit happened to be. Our mama cat and her babes. They hung around the chicken area a bit and I didn't think much of it until we went to move them and only counted 43 instead of 53! Naughty kitties! Four of these kitties have now been relocated to another farm and we are left with mama cat and her friendly baby.
This past weekend Brad planted hairy vetch in our growing bed area and one acre where we will plant sweet corn in our field. Hairy vetch is used as a cover crop to add nitrogen to the soil, protect soil from erosion, help improve soil health, and provide weed control during growth in the spring and when left as a dead mulch at the soil surface. Hairy vetch can also be grazed or harvested as forage. Our plan is three weeks before we want to plant in the row beds to turn under the vetch and then cover with mulch plastic as a barrier for weed seeds to sprout. Three weeks is the recommended time you wait to plant after turning under a cover crop. We will do this to the beds as the planting time correlates, not before, in order to prevent weed growth and moisture loss. Hairy vetch can get quite tall and full. The flowers are edible.
We have been working here and there on a hoop building for the past several months to store equipment and we are nearing completion. We are ready to put the tarp cover in place and add the wood sides. Mother Nature decided to delay our progress with several days of high winds. Trying to put a large piece of material up in high winds would be disastrous. When we were putting the plastic up on the greenhouse we got a very early start and we just barely got the plastic secured before the wind shifted and increased.
While up on the ladder Brad took several pictures of the pasture so you could see the work the pigs have done. They have literally destroyed our pasture, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. We have plans to reseed the pasture, but that won't happen until spring at this point. We have seed ready, but the pigs won't be off until it is too late to plant. From the pictures below you can see the area where the CSA pigs have been grazing. A couple days ago we shifted the fence to allow for a larger grazing area and separated our boars from the rest of the herd. They were getting a little too "excited".
And, because he is just so darn cute, I had to include a picture of me with my "baby". My little boy, who really isn't so little anymore, loves to go where we go and while working on the pig fence this was the only way to have him tag along and keep him safe. He had a great view!
Until next time,
I want to be the best homesteader I can be, while teaching my children at home in the school room and outside on the farm.