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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We've moved! This blog that is...

We officially have our own website!!  Wow!  What a lot to learn, but it's been pretty cool.  So from now on, all blog posts will be published there.

Please come check us out at www.pasturedeficitdisorder.com.  And we're still on facebook at www.facebook.com/KCFarms.

Hope to see you there!

Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Never Enough Time…(aka The Not Hot Weather Doesn't Last Long Enough)

Oh how I long to be away from this desk in the city and on our little homestead!  There are so many projects we could be working on.  We haven’t even made a dent in our winter “to do” list.  There’s a lot of physical labor that needs to take place over the winter here, because frankly, it’s just too damn hot in the summer.  And the summers are very long around here. 

We have made great strides in installing (we say “planting”) fence posts for our chicken/duck yard.  Yesterday, we literally turned the corner for the home stretch.  We only have about five posts to go on the fourth side of the enclosure.  We have about half of them stained, but need to stain the rest.  And then we need to start staining and installing the rails (crossbeams).  Finally, will come the wire, but we’ll also have an additional layer of hardware cloth (small mesh wire) along the bottom several feet, as the welded wire fencing by itself is not adequate enough protection from predators.  We’ll have two gates into the chicken/duck yard: they’ll be at the north and south end of the yard, but on the same west side.  Because we feel that gates could be weak points as far as predator access goes, three sides of the yard will have no openings, therefore less chance for predator access.  The west side of the chicken/duck yard is the front yard and garden.  Eventually, the front yard and garden will be completely enclosed also, but in the meantime, we have a little more control of the space, and most predators are less likely to come that close to the house.  We’re planning on trying those Night Guard lights around each side of the coop, especially those that face the pasture, to help keep predators away.
Once the chicken/duck yard is done, we have to get the coops built.  That’s going to need to happen sooner rather than later because we have two girls growing up very quickly in the house!

There are still many other projects on our winter “to do” list though.  We have close to a dozen dead trees that need to come down before a storm takes them down and onto the fence or our shed.  Either one of those scenarios would cause costly (in time and money) damages. 

There are also a couple of willow trees on the inside of the tank (pond) dam that need to be cut down.  Whoever planted those there did not know what they were doing.  Just for educational purposes, here are some reasons they are bad for ponds:
Absorption of Pond Water
A willow tree usually grows very well near a pond or other area where there is lots of moisture, including standing water. Willow trees also absorb more water than most trees. This causes a decline in pond water levels that is more commonly noticed during dry periods, if the pond is not kept full with an outside water source.
Dam Destabilization
The roots of willow trees are known for their aggressiveness when seeking water. They are known to grow completely through pond dams and liners. The roots also grow large very quickly. Because the average life span of a willow tree is less than 50 years, when the tree dies it leaves large rotting roots that leave channels in the dam for water to escape, thus destabilizing the dam.
Leaf Fall
All willows are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall. When this happens, large amounts of leaves fall into the pond water and sink to the bottom. Over the years, as the leaves begin to rot, they give off a variety of gases. Some, such as methane gas and ammonia, are toxic to fish.
Salicylic Acid Poisoning
Willow bark contains salicylic acid, the ingredient in common aspirin. In low amounts, it does not harm fish populations in the pond. But if large areas of the woody sections of the willow trees are submerged in the water, and leaves and branches are soaking in the water, salicylic acid levels can build up to toxic levels in the pond water.
So there you go – some willow tree education.  Not good pasture trees!

We also need to get some loads of gravel delivered for our driveway.  Thankfully, our wonderful neighbors will let us use their tractor for spreading it out.  If we can even get the bottom half done, and up over the little rise we’ll be in much better shape than we are now.  Someday, it will rain again, right?? We’ve lucked out so far, but the driveway really is quite a mess when it does rain.

The garden needs to be tilled and prepped for spring planting. 

There’s fence that needs to be fixed.  We have a few places in the very back where trees have taken parts of it down.  It’s a total forest/jungle behind us.  Which is great…but why is it that when those trees come down, they always fall towards our property and fence and not away from it?  It’s such a far, far corner of a huge piece of land that it will never be maintained from the “other side” of the fence.

We have a bunch more mesquite and lotebush that need to be chopped out of the pasture.  We made pretty good progress last year, but if we have any hopes of having hay cut this year, we have one portion that still needs to be cleaned up.

And because of the severe lack of rains, we have been under a burn ban for a while.  We have several piles of last year’s mesquite and lotebush that need to be burned.  We also have a big pile of brush created by the previous owners that needs to be burned…it looks like a snake and rodent pit now.  Eeeeeww! 

This is certainly by no means an exhaustive list.  And I don't begrudge a long list of projects in any way - we LOVE this life. I just wish we had more time during the week to work on these and many more projects.   But we'll muddle along as weekend warriors for now.  Those city jobs pay for our beloved pasture and house (and projects). 

At least this year we're not in a mad race to get the beehives finished before the bees show up at the same time our lease is up and we're prepping for the new house and a move!  We are home, sweet, home, with bee houses ready to go.  

Until next time, worms rock and bees rule.

Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KCFarms

P.S.  Sorry for the lack of pictures lately.  The programs I have available during the day are outdated and I'm really having trouble getting any to load correctly.  Argh.
Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reflections On 2012

2012 turned out to be a big year for us, full of many little victories.  After all the horrible setbacks of 2011 we are might grateful!  Words can’t even express how blessed and grateful!

Last year at this time and through February, we were clearing dead trees to create our little home site.  We put planted the garden in March and installed about 300 feet of water lines.  The house was delivered in April and we moved in towards the end of that month. 

In May, we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary and we also added to our furry pack – a pup from the shelter that we named Cisco.  Gracie the cat still doesn’t like him, even though she has always lived with dogs.  Go figure.  (Cisco weighed 10 pounds when we brought him home, and now, at 9 months, he’s up to 70+ pounds!) About a week later, a lost kitty found her way to our little farm.  We named her Two Socks; she’s the best dog we have.

In June we started fencing a backyard.  We came up with our own design, and now that “phase one” is done, we have to brag just a little – it’s a pretty darn nice looking fence! 

In June we also canned 30 pints of homegrown diced tomatoes and I started making homemade yogurt every week.  We ate tons of zucchini and yellow squash from the garden and put 15 pounds of homegrown tomatillos in the freezer for making green enchilada sauce later.  The backyard fencing project continued all summer. 

In August, our wonderful, sweet, oldest dog Maggie passed away unexpectedly.   Oh how she is missed by all of us!  But her spirit is ever-present in the pasture.  Furry sister Ellie has never quite been the same.  You’ll never convince us that animals don’t grieve! 

In September we celebrated our one year pasture anniversary!  Looking back at pictures, the pasture looked like a moon scape the year before.  But with some tender loving care and some blessed winter rains, it came roaring back to life!  We’re in desperate need of rain still, but hope to start cutting hay this next year.  I also started making all of our own bread in September – we don’t buy it from the store anymore. 

In October, an itty, bitty kitten showed up at the farm.  He couldn’t have been more than 6-8 weeks old, if that.  He started out as Kicking Bird (KB), but he’s so fast, we now call him Dash.  Then a few days later, another kitten, about 3 or 4 months old, showed up.  We named her Nala because we had just seen the Lion King on tv and she kind of looks like Nala.  So now we have barn kitties, but no barn…yet.   In the meantime, Dash has recently decided he likes being a man of leisure and has moved inside and made himself right at home.  It frightens us to think of what they went through to make it to us – especially Dash.  How dangerous it was for them to be on their own out there.  Whatever happened, we’re glad they showed up to be a part of our family. 

We had broccoli and green and purple cabbage in the winter garden.  The wild extremes in our temps killed it all off.  We weren’t prepared this year with a cold frame.  And after days of high 70s and low 80s, who could have predicted it would drop to 18 degrees in 24 hours!   And it’s done that a couple of times.  Unseasonably warm to unusually cold.   But the beauty of mild winters is that there is time to try some cabbage again (I’ll be growing heirloom varieties from seed).  I’m getting the seeds started in the house and will transplant in January.  It should be done producing by the time the spring air starts to warm and spring garden seedlings and are ready to be transplanted. 

On that note, we are already making plans for the spring garden.  We will stick with strictly heirloom varieties like we did last year.  Only this year, we will endeavor to save seeds.  Learned that lesson just this week…one of the tomatoes we liked the most was the Sioux variety.  But the seed company we bought from last year doesn’t have them this year.  I’m sure there are other great varieties, but we will hopefully still have good germination from the seeds we bought last year and will definitely save our own seeds for the future. 

We have also started phase two of our fencing plan, which will include a chicken/duck run and coops.  We were planning to have it all done in time for spring chicks/ducklings.  And we’re making good progress now that it’s not so hot outside!  But everything has been kicking into high gear after receiving a surprise Christmas present of a pair of two-week old chicks!  They are living in the laundry room in a large box for now, but will need outdoor quarters in the very near future!

Oh!  I almost forgot...we have some bees ordered for this spring too!  We're excited to try once again and hope to have better luck this time around.  The hives are already built, so we're ready to go. 

Happy New Year to you all!  May your year be filled will health, joy and creativity!

Until next time...worms rock and bees rule.

Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved.