Apple Blossom And Gear Oil

 

Its been real busy around here, so this could be a long one….Where to start? I guess where I left off.

My big plans for the orchard where to expand the size of it and put in some irrigation, With the weather holding out and seeing some fruit trees on sale I started to put the plan in to practice . I planted more pear and apple trees , and two cherry trees which each had grafts of three varieties of cherries bringing us up to twenty one trees in total now.

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With some help from a rented trencher we started to put in irrigation for the existing orchard and the new plants . We used the soaker hose rings and looped them around the tree , but also put in a drip line directly in the root balls of the new additions to make sure they get enough water whist they get established. I tapped in to the main feed for the line of cedars (planted last year) and used a battery operated sprinkler controller to schedule sprinkler times / duration.

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My horse manure contact failed to deliver anymore, but I did manage to source some organic chicken manure from an organic egg farm just down the road. They where the nicest people and they have an unlimited supply of manure so I took 4 dump load trailers worth as we where starting to expand our growing areas. One thing about chicken manure is , you do not have to physically come in contact with it , just being close to it for a period of time will make you stink of it and the smell is hard to get off . It’s a case of shower and clothes directly in to the wash just from driving a tractor and spreading it, but it is great fertilizer.

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I plowed up two new patches expanding our growing areas by about 400% . Breaking my plow sheer bolts a couple of times and finally bending the brackets . Plowing is one of those things that looks so simple when you see someone doing it well but there is a lot more goes in to it than meet the eye and it takes a lot of practice. some time after plowing had settled I tilled up the field with our John Deere Tiller as I finished and went to park it up under the apple tree (which was in full bloom) I could smell the sweet smell of he apple blossom but there was also another smell which I had not smelt in many years but a smell that you ever forget (mostly because it is nasty) Gear oil …. I guess that all the tilling of such a large area was two much for it or that it just didn’t over winter well any way the gear oil was leaking. John Deere want $90 for a gasket so at least the tilling is done for now so I will just make a gasket when I get time ……. it does come in handy being an ex mechanic sometimes.

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We had a surprise visitor in the form of a beaver . I did not actually see him, just the signs he had been there with this chewed up cedar tree . I did not want this tree to fall as the way it had been chewed it was going to fall on top of one of the buildings so I had to fence it out so the beaver could not damage it anymore.

when I was trying to source bee’s earlier in the year I had put my name down for two beehives which would be ready mid may . After receiving a call that they where ready and had been inspected by the provincial apiarist , I went to collect them one evening . The beekeeper was an old German man who was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Of course by the time I got the home it was dark I had already placed and leveled pallets where they would be located so it was just a matter of putting them in place and opening them up ready for the following morning I sure appreciated the new lights I had put on the tractor.

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This takes our beehives up to five one of them already is at two boxes of bees and has a honey super on it and two more will be ready for honey supers this week.

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There are still lots of work to be done and some of the planting is done and growing , Potatoes, Buckwheat, Beets, Corn and there is a lot more to be done.That will give us lots for next time .

Spring is in full spring

We are having some beautiful weather right now. So getting outside and getting an early start on the work around here is a real pleasure right now . It does all seem a little odd with the weather being so warm and yet the trees are still mostly bare and there are not much flowers about but it was good to see that the Rhubarb had survived the winter and returned. The Daffodils are out and we are thankful for the heather border that is in bloom to give the three new beehives I have set up something to forage from. Just today though some of the fruit trees have started to blossom so the bees have been all over that .

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none of the two over wintering hives survived but I was lucky to get a deal on some last minute packages of bees quite early so I cleared an area under some large trees at the back of the property to expand my bee activities.

I managed to get a hold of a free dump trailer full of horse manure which I was able to get on to the back plot only after getting the pickup stuck. it was an easy pull out with the tractor but I had to unload it in a not idea place which meant for some moving around with the tractor. with the land getting dried out quickly It also gave me a chance to clear out some brush and start preparing to plant some kiwi besides the orchard I put in last year.

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I cleared out a small alder tree to provide some more light to the orchard and chipped it up to provide mulch for around the trees. Tomorrow I plan to finish up working in the orchard by putting in some much needed (if we have a summer like last year) irrigation.

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it all go now the season is staring and we are off to such a great start . the weather is forecast to continue for another few days so I am hoping to get some more manure put down and get a lot of the start up work done so I can make time later in the season for some big plans ……..stay tuned Smile

July to August , Summers Bounty

Been a real busy month on the Farm. We got a hold of 200 cedar trees on a special deal as a nursery wanted to get shut of the over stock they had so I planted some along the north fence line  . of course planting trees in July is not ideal but with such a good price, why not! Of course at this time of year you do need to put in irrigation for them too.

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Harvest has started happening with lots of beets, Rutabaga, and Carrots.

some of the harvest some of the harvest

 

I had seen a great deal on a large enameled pot in a local store ,  just  $35 I thought it would be great to use for our sauerkraut  as our demand for it has increased but it got its first try with making rutabaga sauerkraut , im sure this has a name of its own but I don’t know it so I call it turnipkraut . it was a very large batch.

the $35 pot finished turnip sauerkraut

 

With the Beets I canned them and pickled them and also pickled some of the rutabaga in a spicy recipe, they turned out nice.

canned beets spicy pickled rutabaga

 

Lots of carrots which we blanched and froze and of course the bees had been real busy and I got to test out the honey extractor which was great to have as we pulled about 60 pints of honey from one hive.

lots of carrots frame full of honey

 

Filtering the honey Honey

that’s all until next time.

Dandelion’s Galore , No more

Dandelions

Cutting the Dandelions

I have been holding off cutting the Dandelion infested front lawn so that the bees could have some natural food whilst nothing much out there is in bloom. My last hive check showed the colonies where doing real well, over double the size i had started with so the dandelions must have helped.

Now the cherry trees,willow, tulips and more are in bloom i decided it was time to cut the Dandelions …i mean lawn. last year someone sent me a quote “A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.” and i thought of it as i mowed the lawn and stopping as i saw honey bees in front of me waiting for them to move on before i proceeded . i had been wondering why they where not going to seed so fast but as i drove around i saw that there was about 10 that where closed and ready to open as seed for every one flowering …oh my!

The next hive check is later this week so i am anxious to see how they are doing now

Busy Bee, Building Hives

A couple of weeks ago I did a two day course on bee keeping at the surrey bee centre. just an amazing course . before the course I did not know anything about bees , i  was surprised at how interesting bees are. I Had mostly wanted the bees for garden pollination and  of course the honey but they are are just so interesting and having a bit of a hard time at the moment, so it would be great to just help them out and maybe they will give me the benefits I wanted in return.

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I had a look around on line for bees and hives etc but wanted somewhere local and with a bit of googling I came across a local bee suppliers called urban bees .The problem with trying to get bees at this time of year is they come from over seas and are ordered on a waiting list so I am a little late to get on the waiting list but urban bees not only had the hives and frames and all the gear they could get me bees so I placed my order and went and picked up the hives.

 

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today I started to assemble the hives and the frames . I was a little daunted at first but it turned out to be real easy . I decided I didn’t want to paint them, I wanted a more natural look in my yard so I sealed them so they would age nicely and weather and go silvery but not rot so easily.

I am scheduled to pick up my bees mid next month so I will update soon.

Water ,Cats and First Tastes From The Garden

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What a crazy few weeks since the last post . we had four days without water because a water pipe broke . The pipe that broke was the pipe putting the treated water in tot the tank so of course this forced mud and other debris in to the tank and through the water system .We had to pump out and de sludge the tank and clean out all the lines after having a new pipe fitted , then the water treatment wouldn’t start up so after we get that fixed and get a good tank full of water the domestic water pump failed which summed up 4 days without water …its very hard to go that long and continue to get the place up and running when you don’t have any water.

After the nightmare without water we managed to water the garden just in time before it started to wilt . i had to thin out the rutabagas so i figured it was a bit of a waste to just compost them so i googled to see if they are edible , guess what not only are they edible but rutabaga greens are delicious. blanched and then sauted in olive oil with garlic and mushrooms. The romain lettuce have come along well so we have had a couple of caeser salads mmmm.

After seeing all the field mice whilst we have been mowing and brush cutting , i thought it would be a good idea to get some outdoor cats . i looked on craigslist and saw that there was a rescue center looking for homes for outdoor feral cats. sounded great so i contacted them not long after we moved in but becasue we would be keeping them in a garage and not asecure room we needed a cage to confine them for 7 – 10 days to get them thinking of this new place as home , so there was a waiting list for the cages . We finaly got our new feral cats all fixed and healthy  and kept them caged for the required time . i felt a little sorry for them being in a cage but really it is better than the alternative for feral cats at a shelter .yesterday was release day, after i had fitted the cat flap in to the side of the out building and built ramps for the cats i left the doors to the cage open and left them to check out the new place .

This morning i came to clear the litter trays and feed them as i had for the previous 10 days expecting them to be in the rafters or some where int he garage , but no they had indeed found there way out through the cat flap and gone exploring i set up the remainder of there shelter and dismantled the cages but put there bedding in the new location and let the litter trays near to the cat flap for a smell they can home in on . i fed them and left i checked back late afternoon and no food had gone so i do hope they come back , i had read that they do go missing for a couple of days when first release and then return , i do hope this is the case . i am still not a cat person but i think we could have a mutually beneficial relation i dont want mice , they need a place to live . i will keep you posted on if they re appear.

More From The Farm .Trimming , Tidying and Fertilizing

This week has been another very busy week.

as i started to weed the front garden from its dense weed ridden state after years of neglect i found some very beautiful plant and noticed a lot of work had originally been put in. there had been some of the spiral trees in that had not been trimmed for some time and only vaguely showed the spiral so i decided to give it a go at reshaping them i am not very good at it and the great thing is that they will grow back but i managed to shape them something like all with the exception of one of them that had a nest in as i noticed a bird fly out as i was triming the bottom so i left that some what unfinished to be completed when the babies have flown the nest.

On checking on my vegetable beds finally things had started to happen there. and i realised that it is not so easy to remember what plants i had planted where when they are just seedlings . i should have really marked them ….well you live and learn and next year i will but in the mean time i found a website that showed images of new seedlings and what they where so i was able to identify which ones they are so i can thin them out , but there are still no signs of carrots yet .

i also recently bought a book on organic gardening called organic gardening for the 21st century by john fedor in there were directions for making a plant feed tea from nettle leaves so off i went to the back of the property and filled up the trailer on the back of my little ride on . i had bought some burlap (Hessian) sheeting earlier so i stitched it together with garden twine in to a bag that i filled with the nettles , put it in a garbage bin full of water and there it will sit for 2 weeks when i will mix it with water and apply ti the plants. the book says to dilute 1:15 with water or it could burn the plants …. i will try it on  a small scale at first just because what can go wrong generally does .

 


 

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