Half of my back yard used to be wild blueberries. We’ve had older people tell us about going blueberry picking there when they were younger. I’ve been picking blueberries there since we’ve moved in, but each year it seems to get worse. The patch, which I would assume used to be half an acre, is now nothing more than a few square feet. This year, I was lucky to pick a small handful of berries. We had a very late, heavy frost in June, that may have killed a lot of the blossoms and we’ve had very little rain this year.
The summer we bought the land, we mentioned about cutting them down and burning them. And we’ve mentioned it every summer thereafter, for the last 8 years. This year, as you may see in a previous post, I wanted the bushes near the chicken coop cut down so I could go in and clean out the garbage the previous owners threw there, concerned about my birds getting injured during freeranging. That prompted my husband to basically start whacking everything. He cleared out a lot by the coop. Then he went to the woods near the old Apple tree. He even has his little backhoe down there to try and remove the roots and stumps of the alders. Which brought him to decide it was finally time to do the blueberries. Initially we thought we’d just do half of it, then we’d still have some for next year. So half of it is done, and it looks amazing!
I had him cut around the few trees that were there. Here is a little oak and a little maple that I’m hoping will now grow. We still may cut the other half of the patch out, as we really don’t think we’ll get much out of it anyway. We’ll see how it goes. There probably won’t be any burning, as it’s been very dry this year. Here’s the other half of the patch, so you can see some of what had to be cut.
Borage is an herb, though some people may not know it. It usually has purple flowers on it that have five pointed petals. The leaves appear silky, they are covered in bristles. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, but some people are put off by texture of the leaves.
I originally planted borage for my rabbits. It is said to stimulate and increase milk production in does, so I planted some “just in case” a rabbit is not producing any milk. I’ve only planted it two years and have never needed to test this out.
You can find several recipes for the use of borage in such things as fresh salads, shred it for in a cream cheese spread or add it to lemonade. With a light, refreshing cucumber flavour, my favourite thing is to freeze the flowers in some ice cubes and just add them to water!
And if that wasn’t reason enough to plant it, the bees love it!
Its that time of year again. Fall. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall, but those beautiful colors don’t last long. And then it’s winter. And I hate winter.
The top of the coop needs to be closed, and the bird netting on top of the run needs to come off. I made the mistake of leaving it on last year and the snow almost pulled my whole run down. Before I do this, I’ve got to take the roof shingles off the nest box. The younger birds are standing on it and I’m concerned they’re just going to fly over the top. I’ll replace it with rubber, hopefully that will make it lighter to lift as well.
There’s garbage in the yard that needs to be burned. The blueberries, blackberries and quince all need to be cut. And trees need trimming. Unfortunately the bush saw is broken. Now what do I do?
The blueberries haven’t been cut or burned off in years, and we’re not getting much yield from them any more. Cutting them down, we won’t get many next year either, but the following year should be better. So much to do, and with daylight lessening in the evenings, not much time to do it.
I’ll leave the rabbit and chicken waterers out until it gets colder, then the rabbits water bottles will need to be replaced with dishes and the chickens nipple waterer will need to be replaced with a regular one.
On my he bright side, I’m getting new cages for some of the rabbits. I’m finding the large 24x30 cage trays are difficult to handle when full of water (from a leaky bottle) and especially when frozen, so I’ve got 24x24’s coming to make it a little easier.
Here we are nearing the end of May. I've got newly hatched chicks, hens sitting on eggs, hens are laying about 12 eggs a day, baby rabbits being born...and a garden to plant. I've been letting the chickens out trying to coerce them into tilling up my raised garden beds for me. But they also tilled up my planters and the driveway and whatever else they can dig up. I wanted to get my planters by the doorstep done so I seeded them and covered them with bird netting. Hopefully I can remove it without any interference once the plants get bigger.
The chickens did do a decent job of tilling the garden beds for me. But I quickly realized that before I could plant, I'd need to put up a fence. Not only would they be in it, so was the cat and the dog. I bought some 1x3 8' strapping and had the guys cut them in half for me. When I got them home my husband cut points on one end of each board (except for two), so I could drive them in the ground. I decided to fence them both in together so I'd only have one gate to build and use less fencing. After I had them all in the ground I just took a roll of chicken wire and wrapped it the whole way around, stapling it as I went. I bought four corner braces and screwed together a couple boards to make the frame for my gate, attached to the last post with small hinges. And I used a hook and eye for a latch. Done. And it didn't take me veryingn at all and was relatively inexpensive. (Less than $40)
This year I rotated my crops. Planting the pumpkins where I usually do the tomatoes, and vice versa. I cut back a little bit, hoping I'd have more luck with crops if I had less to focus on. Last year I grew about 3 cucumbers. Which was probably plenty for me, but not worth the space they took up. Also, I decided on just two varieties of pumpkins this year instead of trying 4. I chose to forgo the jack-o-lantern pumpkins and the Dill's Atlantic Giant. I've only planted white and blue this year. My friend is planting regular pumpkins and we've decided on a trade when the time comes for harvesting. I also chose not to do peppers or corn this year. Never had much luck with either, so why waste my time? I did however plant both black and cherry tomatoes this year, along with spinach, borage, carrots, and I bought some green onion and garlic bulbs to try my hand at.
I also scaled back on flower seeds. No need to waste my time and money on things I can't get to grow. I actually bought an echinacea plant yesterday, because I've tried for years to get them to grow.
I must mention that I did not start any of these plants in the house. I direct seeded everything this year. With all the extra animals and working on different projects I just don't have the time or space to plant inside and then try to acclimatize them outside before planting. I think a small greenhouse is in my future plans.
Oh, and you should see the blossoms on my apple tree this year! Hoping to actually get some apples!
Since the chicken coop is almost completely finished, I figured it was time for some extra protection for my girls. I contacted our local SPCA and asked if any barn cats were available. They said they had them all the time. Which is great for someone who is looking for one, but seems quite sad for the cats. Spay and neuter, people!!
Back on topic here, I went to pick up my cat Thursday night. I have swore dog crate set up in the coop. I put in a cat bed, a litter box, and a couple dishes. I plan on keeping him in this crate for a couple of weeks. I know it seems cruel, but he needs to know this is his home. I don't want him running away.
This is poor guy is estimated to be around 5 years old. He's a very sweet cat, so I wonder if he hadn't been someone's pet at some time. He is neutered (though one of his testicles hadn't descended, so they had to search for it), then he got an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI). He was on antibiotics which gave him diarrhea. He seems to be on the mend, but it's a wonder that he even trusts people. He looks forward to getting a few good behind-the-ear scratches.
So, if you're in need of a barn cat. Try contacting your local SPCA. He was completely free, neutered, vaccinated, and came with a flea treatment. I did make a small donation. Barn cats are not usually listed on the adoptable pages, so send them a message and just ask!
This guy came from the Queens County SPCA.
Sept. 10: A little more than 2 weeks later I decided it was time to let Felix out. He took off this morning and was back by the time we got home from our drive. Now he's just chill in' in the yard with me.
Its that time of year again when the land provides! My garden is doing poorly this year. I may get some tomatoes in a few weeks, maybe one pumpkin of I'm lucky. The cucumbers haven't even started to crawl yet. The carrots aren't doing too badly and I've got plenty of dill seed. I was hoping for some quince this year but that doesn't look like it's going to happen. Next spring I will have to cut down the bush and see if that helps.
Something that I do have is wild blueberries and blackberries! Out behind the rabbit building is an abudance of blueberries and all along the edges of our property are blackberries. It's been a very dry year so they're not as many as last year, but there's always enough to for me and a few friends! It's great that I don't have to tend them and I get a great harvest. This fall we may now off half the blueberries to see if that helps with production the following year but we haven't done it since we moved here.
I won't have much of a garden this year. I planted all my seedlings out and they all died. I was so anxious to get my garden planted that I didn't take the time to harden them off before planting. What I should have done is set them out in the sun for a few hours a day for about a week. They all got sunburned and what had actually survived got killed by a frost I didn't know we had...,
I did plant out the rest of the seeds. I believe I can see some carrots starting. Something is better than nothing I guess.
My my gardens are so full of weeds it's not funny. I'm not sure how to correct the problem. It seems like endless pulling.
I also have have a few flowers coming up, the hollyhocks are receiving from last year and I should see flowers on them this year. The pansies are thriving and the lavender is growing new shoots. Also hoping to see flowers on them this year.
I have very few blossoms on the young Apple tree. Which is better than last year, but still looks pretty sad. The old trees are covered. I haven't even thought about checking the raspberry plant. I really should do that.
Dear husband has been clearing out from underneath the old apple trees, so I can try trimming it up next spring. I am also planning to cut down the quince bush so next year it will regrow. Quince only grow on new wood.
We've officially started the chicken coop. We've got a couple walls frames up, but couldn't do much else until we had a floor. The DOT finally lifted the spring weight restrictions and we had some rough fill delivered. I picked up all the lumber to do the floor. Hopefully progress will be quick.
Ive also decided it was time to put the plants out. They were taking over my table. According to the Farmers Almanac, I should have waiting until this weekend. Oh well.
Update: Finally getting somewhere with this chicken coop! I'm hoping in about a week I should have my chickens home with me.
Here we are. Still need to add the roost and droppings board on the inside, stain the front, and build the run. At the top, you can see that's it's open. It was supposed to have plywood on it, but as I sat inside painting, I looked up and loves what I saw. The sky. The tree. Sunlight. Felt fresh air. So now we are going to attach hardware cloth to it, and put some lexan over it on hinges so it can be opened in the summer and closed in the winter, but I'll still have the extra light. I'm so excited to get my babies home!
So, after a long day, I finally got to start a few seeds. I picked 4 that I felt needed to be started now. I will start more in a week or so.
I started with some pellets. Added the water and waited for them to expand. I also took notes. I wrote which ones I started and what day. I'm also keeping the seed packets and writing the dates on them. Then I will know when it is okay to plant them out.
Feb. 28: So here we are on week one. And we have seedlings! The dahlias and the black tomatoes are up, and it seems like the peppers should be up any day now. So today I planted a few more seeds. Just flowers. Next week will be cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.
I don't have a cold room. I'd love to have one. Some place to store all the things I want to plant. Carrots, potatoes, canned tomatoes, jams and jellies, pumpkins....
But I don't. So I just planted carrots. I bought 'Ideal' carrot seeds from Halifax Seed. They are a short carrot, which is great for my crappy, rocky soil. (Rondo is also a good choice for this)
I pulled a few back before Christmas to go with dinner, but we ended up eating at my grandparents' instead. I still have a few in the fridge. Just as good as the day they were picked. The rest were still in the garden until this morning (Feb 4)
I brought them in the house, cut the greens off (and set them aside for the rabbits), and rinsed them off. They are now drying, waiting to be put in a bag with holes in it.
After the first frost, carrots stop growing. You can just leave them in the ground after that, then pull them when you want them. You can add a bit of mulch for added insulation, if you like.