Friday, May 31, 2013

Interesting week...

This past week has been interesting (and hot!). We now have two high tunnels on our farm. Due to the rush of getting some crops growing there, I did a less than perfect job of properly preparing the beds. So this week I put a straw mulch down around the tomatoes in one of the houses. The temperature in the high tunnel (with the sides up) was 95 degrees.

On Tuesday, while working in the grapes, I killed a copperhead. I usually don't kill snakes, but copperheads are an exception. We've killed several over the last few makes you pay attention as you walk through the grass.
Upon arriving home for lunch, Lisa told me that my nephew's wife, Jennifer, had called to inform us that their bees were swarming. So before I went back to the fields, I checked our hives. Sure enough, we had a big swarm only several feet away from where the other swarm was last week. We caught the swarm and put a feeder on top and started feeding them. So far, they seem content in their new home.

We picked our first sweet pepper this week. I hope to have a limited amount of summer squash, zucchini, and peppers for the market on Saturday.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

I am a creature of habit. Most people are, and I know that all of the animals in my care are. They like to be fed, milked, watered, or moved to new pasture on a schedule. They wait (sometimes impatiently) for me and they expect pretty much the same time frame each day.

So Saturdays are different, because we go to the Danville Farmers' Market. This means that I get up at 5:00 instead of 5:30, and I'm basically feeding pigs and milking goats before light. "The girls" (my milk goats) usually give a little less milk on Saturday. (I guess that I wake them up too soon.) But all in all, they cooperate with this schedule change one day a week.

Being a creature of habit, I don't like surprises. But being a farmer, I have to deal with them pretty often.

We had a good day at the farmers' market yesterday and made some new friends. We then went to a birthday party at noon for my niece. That was nice, too! But when I did chores that afternoon, one of my yearling does had what appears to be a broken ankle. Although she is still moving about well and chewing her cud, I'm concerned about her. We will wrap the ankle and keep an eye on her for a few more days. This afternoon, she was out with the others grazing in the pasture and seemed to be coping well. We will know in a few days if she will be able to keep up with the rest. I don't like surprises, especially with the girls.


Thursday, May 16, 2013


This is swarm season for honey bees. On our farm, we have four hives and I have been watching them and checking the hives for signs that they are in "swarm mode." Yesterday I returned home from working in the vineyard about 1:00 p.m. and noticed more bee activity then normal and started walking towards the bee yard.
There was a large swarm about two feet off the ground, just yards away from the hives.
I already had a box prepared for swarms, so all I had to do was cut the limb and shake the bees into the box. All went well. They were still there today, which means that the queen was captured, too.

The bees are extremely gently when swarming. Standing among 30,000 bees and being able to catch them to keep is a pretty awesome feeling. Now we have five hives on our farm.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Opening day.

Saturday was opening day at our Danville Farmers' Market. Crowds were small, maybe due to the cold temperatures. But overall, we had a good day. Our friends at Shorty's Bakery helped out by taking all of the remaining eggs. They eat them and sell some for us, too. Thanks, Todd and Sandy!

After a day of rest on Sunday, work on Monday was cut short by drenching rain. We're not complaining about the rain, though, because a lot of the county is still in drought conditions. Hoping for sunshine this week as we will do our first chicken processing on Friday!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Welcome to our blog!

Our farm is "branching out" with other products this year. Along with our tried and true items like chickens, eggs, and lamb, we are now selling pork and some vegetables. We have raised pork for the last two years, but it was only available as whole hogs, halves, and quarters. This year we will still do that, but we will also be selling individual cuts from the farm and at the Danville Farmers' Market.
We also set up two high tunnels (see photos at the bottom of our photo gallery) for season extension vegetables. We already have tomatoes planted, along with sweet peppers and summer squash. The warmth of the tunnels gives us a head start on warm season plants. We will also be selling lettuce and mesclun mix. A new year and new ventures...we're excited!

These pictures show a cover crop of Austrian winter peas and oats. We always use cover crops to build the soil. The "new" ground will be tilled for more vegetable beds and the "old" ground is planted with buckwheat for our bees.

I'll try to post regularly with updates. The Danville Farmers' Market opens on May 4th! Hope to see you there.