The Homestead Takes Shape: Spring Projects 2012

Funny how everytime I disappear from blogland for a while, it seems that everyone else is slowing down too.  Have we all been busy with Spring Frenzy getting the planting season up and running?

There’s been far too much going on here to fit it all in, but I thought I’d post this little photo essay to show a little of what we’ve been up to.  I’ve written before about our journey over these past few years: year 1 we mostly observed the property and brought some of the interior of the house up to snuff.  Year 2 we re-did the raised beds and brought chickens into our lives.  Here we are in year 3: we have been steadily shifting the rest of the property, which was mostly ornamental gardens, into more food production.  We’ve moved shrubs, taken down trees, and built more raised beds.  AND today we should be hatching out our SECOND batch of chicks with our mama Blue-Lace Red Wyandotte hen!  The garden is alive and thriving (mostly), and we’ve been eating greens all of May.  As of June, we’re adding turnips and new potatoes to the homestead diet, and peas and strawberries will be next…Now all we need is the heat to arrive to shift us from spring to summer! Click on any of the photos to see them in more detail.

Before: Spring 2010

 

The new raised beds we built last year (2011). One of the big spring projects you can see just behind them, under the large apple tree. We dug up and rearranged blueberry plants, then added an everbearing strawberry and an asparagus bed in front of them.

 

A couple of notes about this photo: you can’t tell that these new beds overtake and use up the bit of lawn that was there before, and you can see the new hop supports towering over the whole garden!

Hop Alley

I know I need to do a whole blog post on the Skipper’s Hop Project.  A happy homebrewer, he ordered organic hop rhizomes from Left Fields Hops, which grows hops for the famous Crannog Brewery.  He has, if I remember correctly, Galena, Mt Hood, Cascades, Chinook, and Centennial–good West Coast intense flavours.  In year 3, hops plants reach maturity and go crazy.  So Skipper has installed a 16 foot-high support system, complete with pulleys, so that they can grow in a controlled fashion and be harvested “easily.”  Stay tuned for how things turn out!

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the garden…

New raised beds where ornamental shrubs used to be…
Skipper took down the tall cedar that’s in the middle of the Before pic, which let the sunshine back into the middle of the garden. Then he built a new 6’x8′ bed.

 

The late spring crops are underway:

Summer Brassicas on their way…

 

And in the coop behind them rests our Broody Mama Hen…

Her first batch, which hatched out at Easter, is now 10 weeks old!  (Pics are from a week ago, though) We have 3 sleek pullets and 2 wee roos, who will go to Freezer Camp in another 6 weeks or so.

Ginger, one of our newest pullets…

The 10-week-old crew was hatched from a mix of purchased Blue-Laced Red Wyandotte eggs (2 of which produced pullets) and our own eggs from Australorp and Silver-Laced Wyandotte hens, fertilized by a Blue-Laced Red Wyandotte Roo.  We ended up with the two Silver-Laced Roo and one Australorp-cross pullet, known as Cocoa Bean.  As we waited for Hen to go broody again, we wrestled with what we we would hatch out next–really the decision about where we wanted to take our flock.

Having essentially 4 breeds in a flock of 10 was not always easy, and we wanted to get down to two breeds at most.  But how to choose?!  In the absence of a decision, we simply collected some of our own eggs again to keep on standby just in case.  When the time came, I suddenly realized that we might have inadvertently solved the problem: if our eggs were crosses of our best egg layers (the Buff Orpington and Australorps) with our favorite temperament and prettiest birds (BLR Wyandottes), the crosses might end up being the best of both worlds!  So that’s what’s under Hen right now.

Report to come once the chicks arrive–stay tuned!

 

 

 

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One thought on “The Homestead Takes Shape: Spring Projects 2012

  1. Glad to see you posting again – missed you, but see that you have been indeed busy. Isn’t it amazing how much of a difference the selective removal of trees can make to a garden? Your new beds are looking good and the plants are obviously healthy and happy. I hope your crossbred clutch hatches out well and gives you a robust flock.

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