Just when I think I'll start blogging on a more regular schedule, life happens. After the busyness of the holidays settled down the family all came down with the crud...you know, stuffy noses, tummy issues, and wicked coughs. Fortunately, mama stayed healthy just tired from many nights of interrupted sleep.
While we wait for springs arrival we've been keeping busy with farm clean up. We've burned limbs, picked up trash, made piles of scrap metals to recycle, and we've had lots of free wood chips delivered to spread around the farm. We've laid some mulch in areas where it is really muddy, but our plan is to line our walkways with the chips to keep it from being muddy while we travel to and from the garden plots.
We started our onions and leeks the last of December and they are coming along quite nicely! We've never grown onions from seed before and we didn't have much luck last year with the leeks, but we've read a lot and learned that onions are one of the easiest seeds to grow. It keeps our cost down too if we can grow our own onions from seed verses ordering plants. Right now we have one variety started (Red Ruby), which will be a beautiful red onion.
In mid-December we got ourselves a new dog. Sky, our doberman, has been lonely since we lost our last two dogs. She is the most loving dog and just wants to nurture. She is great with the children and often follows them around and lays in the grass while they play. One of our farm cats had kittens and Sky took them from the mama when they were between three and four weeks old. We tried many times to give them back to mama kitty, but she just kept taking them. Sky hasn't had puppies herself for many years, but she started producing milk and took care of the kittens! My mom has a picture of it on her camera that I'll share, but just imagine four to six fluffy kittens snuggled up and nursing on our 75 lb dobie! Well, the kittens grew and we found homes for them. Sky was once again alone. One morning our oldest son found her cuddling with one of our meat birds. She was cuddling with a chicken folks! She was desperate! Over the years we've had terrible luck with dogs chasing and killing our chickens, so we've been leery about getting another dog. Ray was on Craigslist and he came across an ad for a free blue tick hound. We contacted the sellers and brought her home. Zoey isn't like any other dog we've ever had. Zoey has only three legs.. She was hit by a car a year ago and they couldn't save her left front leg. She was fostered and then adopted by a loving couple. Circumstances changed for them and now we have her. She loves the farm, has become great friends with Sky, and thinks her spot to sleep is right in front of the wood stove! Thankfully, at six years old, she is past the puppy stage. With her being more mature and only having three legs, she isn't interested in the chickens. If she ever does try to chase them, they have an advantage.
Until next time,
I can't believe that 2015 is over. Done. I'm so looking forward to the blessings the new year will bring us. 2015 was hard! We faced many challenges in our first full year running the CSA. Not all of it was bad, but to be honest the hardships we encountered time and time again did put a bit of a damper on the year. Let's review the first year of Serenity Farm!
January through March were busy starting a large majority of our plants and dreaming about spring's arrival! We constructed our outdoor seedling greenhouse. This is where our transplants grew after initial germination in the house before going to the field.
Early March we transplanted lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli. We direct seeded our sugar snap peas. We also decided to transplant our peppers and cover them with mini tunnels made of perforated plastic to keep them warm, but allow them to breathe during the heat of the day. Well, mother nature had other plans. The night before our first market the temperature was forecast to get down to 35 degrees. It actually got down to 27 degrees, way too cold for the pepper plants who thrive in warm weather. Five hundred pepper plants died and we had to start again! Luckily the tomatoes in the greenhouse survived the freeze and continued to grow nicely.
April continued to be a bit cooler than normal, but we were able to get most of our transplants out into the field. We planted 17,000 onions, zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, sweet corn, beets, turnips, green beans, carrots, radishes, cauliflower, and the list goes on. In May, well it rained nearly the entire month. On the farm we received fifteen inches of rain. That equates to roughly 1.3 MILLION gallons of rain water that fell on the 2.5 acres where we grow our vegetables. We were unable to put a single tool, seed, or transplant in the ground during the most critical month of gardening.
While it was too wet to be in the field we worked on setting up our irrigation system (ironic since we were drowning in water!) We were regular vendors at the Kansas Grown Farmer's Market at 21st and Ridge Rd. every Saturday morning. We also prepared ourselves for our newest farmer-to-be!
Our newest little farmer arrived on July 7th! The children and I were out in the field helping Brad get some work done on the irrigation lines before the storms came through (yes! rain again!). Well, the rain got to us before we finished up so the children and I were covering irrigation lines in the pouring down rain. Shoveling, wet clay soil is hard work. Two hours after getting done what we could and cleaning up, I went into labor. Joshua took his sweet time getting here, but once he did it was so worth the wait!
Brad took the two girls to central Missouri at the end of July and picked up our new Idaho Pasture Pigs. Idaho pigs have shorter snouts which makes it so they root around less and graze in the pasture instead. I knew when we bought the van that we would have a lot of cargo room, but I never thought we would be hauling pigs INSIDE the van!
We were able to see a beautiful rainbow at our east side drop one summer evening. Several times the family would all load up and go to the drops together. The children loved playing on the playground equipment and Brad and I enjoyed visiting with all of our wonderful members!
The piggies are growing! This picture was taken in late November and they are about four months old. Pasture raised livestock takes longer to grow and pigs are no different. If pictures had sound you would have heard them squealing and grunting. They thought I was bringing them food when I was really just doing a photo shoot!
Happy Thanksgiving! Fresh turkeys were delivered the day before Thanksgiving and the only hiccup with our butchering was that the turkeys were much smaller than we thought. After talking with other local farmers who have raised heritage turkeys we discovered that they usually take a year or more to get up to the size that the hatcheries advertise.
Ray and I attended the very last market for the 2015 season! Ray and I LOVE going to the farmer's market and seeing our regulars come back week after week enjoying our fresh produce and our amazing baked goods. I was so nervous at first running our booth as I'm not a very social and outgoing person, but as the season progressed I looked forward to the market each week. Thank you to all of you who came and visited us this season!
Our family is looking forward to a wonderful 2016! Follow along with us and see what this new year brings. I have set up an Instagram account SerenityFarmCSA. I aim to put up a new picture every few days, less this time of year, but possibly daily during the growing season! Share this blog post with family, friends, co-workers, and more and help us to make Serenity Farm a success this coming year!
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!
The Dilts family at Serenity Farm
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.