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.

July! finally an Update

This is  going to be a longer than usual post as I try to make up for my tardiness. We have been real busy around here with one thing or another so here is a bit of a rundown of what’s been going on.

Finally we got the wood chipper working correctly after getting a revised design of chute, vent panels  and revised feed tensioner hooks. its like a different machine. I had a lot of catching up on the wood chipping front. all the braches that where removed for the installation  of the perimeter fence. The limbs from the long over due pruning of some of the big old cherry trees and the clear up of the two trees that fell over in the winters storm and just general spring clean up.

I began chipping with gusto, sorting the wood in to the cedars and other types of wood to chip to use as mulch on the front gardens . with the fruit tree wood , apple, cherry and also the alder I chipped those up to use for smoking fish and other foods ….alder being my favorite for smoked tuna but  I thought it would be nice to try some of the fruit woods. After they are chipped I put them in paper grocery bags to dry out before use .I also sometimes sell a bag or two to people who what to use it in their BBQ.

Cherry wood chips  Cherry chips bagged to dry

 

The bees have been doing well and for a brief spell I was up to three hives here when the local nuc arrived. That was only short lived because I found that the back hive was queen less . so I combined it with the nuc and now have two very strong hives, both with two honey supers on. the front hive had the honey super on first and I just had to try some of the honey so I removed a frame of honey but without an extractor we had to mash the comb with a spoon to get the honey out and then filter it . The honey tasted great but it was a lot of work for just one frame , so I decided we better purchase an extractor before the rest of the honey is ready .

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On to the gardens . The wild flower mix I had planted in a shady planter had really turned in to a surprise. I had no idea what would come of it but it has turned out looking really great , adding some much needed colour to a shady dull part of the property.

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The Vegies are doing great , we have had some nice beets out , the colours on which were just so awesome I had to take a pic of them the third round of radishes are coming up, the rutabagas are doing great as are the peas and potatoes .

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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

Planting the Orchard

 

i have been talking about setting up an orchard on part of the land since we moved in and there is nothing like leaving it to the last minute when my nose is to the wire to get me started. we are putting in a perimeter fence and on the south line there is a beautiful big old cherry tree that over time had self seeded a bunch of cherry’s along the base , some of them are quite tall and i didn’t want to just waste them by cutting them up to get to the fence line so i decided to move them (plus it was an excuse to test out the backhoe). So i got started on my Orchard which just consists of some cherry trees right now but i hope to get to putting in apples ,pears , nuts and what ever else i can get my hands on that will grow here.

here are some pictures of the start of the orchard. the photos are before the stakes have been added

 

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The Bees Have Arrived

 

The Bees arrived on Thursday so i had to get the hives in place and setup , levelled and ready to go for the arrival .

i situated three hives but only two colonies of bees are arriving this Thursday.  IMG-20120402-00076IMG-20120402-00080

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When the bees arrived i watched a video to demonstrate what to do from urbanbees site (my bee supplier). i made a video of my experience, which was not as smooth as shown in the instructional video. you can definitely tell its my first time

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