Farming, Life

Busy Season?

Oh, this is supposed to be the slow season? I feel this every year, we should be relaxing into winter, cozying up and spending time together. Instead, we are busy, busy, busy. For us this year it means, still cutting firewood and building a WWOOFER cabin. WWOOFER’s are people that work on your farm in exchange for food and shelter. This was our first year having wwoofers and one thing that was lacking was somewhere warm for people to stay during our winter season, otherwise known as preparing for sap season.

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River has been working on the cabin and it is coming along just fine. a composting toilet, bunk beds, desk area, wood stove, and an area for a comfy love seat is coming together very nicely. The electrical is complete and the insulation is in. The wood stove is in and the doors and windows are ready to go up. Once the door is on, the mudding and taping can commence. I am going for white as the paint color in here, it is a small space.

The boys are excited that they will have a tiny home to stay in if they want when workers aren’t there.

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Where the bunks will be
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The bathroom area

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This is all very exciting and time consuming, I can’t wait for it to be done!

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We used siding off a building we took down that was shorter but then this cabin so we had to piece it together. Use what you have, make do or do without is the old saying I believe…

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Life

Little Local Adventures: Merrymeeting Fields

My mom and Grandmother took the older boys to Acadia for four days, lucky boys, so we only had #3 at home. I took the opportunity to take him on a few local hikes. We had our niece dog, Lucy, here as well, she is the best dog, we love to have her!

There is only parking for a few vehicles here unless you park on the road, we were the only people here when we went, so not a problem.

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#3 loves to play in the sand and by the water, getting in the water is not on his list of priorities!

Merrymeeting Fields paths take you right down to Merrymeeting bay which is beautiful, we saw a group of kayakers paddling back from Swan Island where they had spent the night. They were from Chop Point Camp close by.

Lucy went right for the water of course, and #3 was thrilled to throw rocks in the water, boy and dog had a blast awww, cousin adventures, so fun.

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Niece dog Lucy, such a good girl!

It is very different to have only one little guy with me, normally I have at least two and occasionally one or two more on our adventures. #3 was asking where all the other people were. Perhaps I was not company enough for him? Poor kiddo.

Life

Local Adventures: Thorne Head Preserve

We are so lucky to live in an area with a lot of local preserves around. This was our first adventure for just the two of us while Grandma and G.G. were off in Acadia with the two older boys. We had niece dog, Lucy with us as well, she is such a good dog and we love to have her with us on our adventures. #3 was glad to have company besides mama as well. At one point he was jumping off the log in the above photo and said, “Mama, you don’t need to stay near me, Lucy will keep me safe.”

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Mushroom rock, hugs and snacks. Awww.

This is a great preserve, some trails are overlooking the Kennebec River and the trails seem endless when you are small. We took some trails we hadn’t before and still ended up at the mushroom rock for a little snack. Somehow we always seem to end up back here no matter where we start, a great spot to snack and to view the water, chat and rest.

Check out your local preserves for some outside fun and adventures with your little ones, they may surprise you with there hiking abilities!

Farming, Life, Vegetables

Our Imperfectly Perfect Gardens

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Our garden’s are not perfect. What is perfect about our potato garden (as I am calling our away garden as we have planted only potatoes, onions and shallots there), is that I have gotten to spend time with the entire family in them, all five of us working together (OK, sometimes more play or eating or drawing is happening by some members of the family).  Which has been so great, even though it can be challenging (only walk on the walkways boys, please don’t try to jump the beds, bahhhhh, I just asked you NOT to do that!)

We are also reorganizing our home garden. We realized that we were wasting a lot of space on pathways in the garden so we have been moving soil and laying down cardboard to cover weeds. Our goal is to cover all our garden area with cardboard, manure/compost and put wood chips in all the walkways.  Two years ago in the fall we spread a lot of manure in four foot wide rows, the entire width of the garden, there were four rows between some of our raised beds, we spread the manure on landscape fabric to repress some weeds think, bad idea, don’t do this, it keeps the new soil and the old soil completely separate and you can’t plant any root crops in it. I have been trying to remember why we did this, perhaps because we had landscape fabric and not cardboard to put down, not sure, can’t remember. Trace and I having been pulling up as many weeds as we could from the soil, finding the end of the landscape fabric, putting cardboard on the area we were moving the soil to, moving the soil and putting wood chips on the cardboard around the soil to give a visual area for people to walk on. The idea of the cardboard is to kill the weeds underneath it and help the roots rot, the cardboard will disintegrate eventually letting the soil on top meet the soil underneath. My hope is to not have to disturb the soil too much when harvesting etc, to keep weed growth at bay. I am also going to try putting a large dark tarp over my beds that are not in use, this is supposed to help kill weed seeds, killing them before you have things planted makes a huge difference in the time people spend hand weeding. We do not have a tractor so everything we do is done with people power.

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Pea pods are getting fat…either today or tomorrow we will be munching peas!

Needless to say, this is hot heavy work and River has been working on other projects, so T and I got to tackle this one ourselves. He is 12 and really into basketball and lacrosse and other sports, sometimes I have a hard time connecting with him as my interest in sports is slim unless he is the one playing. Being in the garden together, working towards a common goal without any distractions or little brothers has given us some time for him to talk when he is ready and for me to ask questions and give him lots of time to answer between sweaty grunts as we pulled up landscape fabric covered with 2 to 4 inches of soil, because we haven’t been hurried, it was a slow and steady kind of job.

This has been one of the slowest garden seasons for us in terms of getting seeds in the ground (I have never planted Brussel sprouts or carrots so late before – eeeekkkkk), but it has been rewarding for me in other ways. I have really appreciated the time spent with #1 and he has been proud of the hard work we have done together, things I needed an extra hand on and he is now big enough to be that extra hand.  Seeing the potatoes sprout prolifically in the new field has been very satisfying for him as he has hoed, planted, covered and helped to hill (we haven’t gotten very far on this part) the potatoes.  Number 2 is more interested in farming then #1, but #1 is willing to help which is awesome, my philosophy is if you like to eat, you get to help it grow in one way or another.

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Garlic!

Our peas should be ready this week, yeah! We have lettuce, kale, swiss chard, garlic scapes, and a few strawberries ready.

We have tomato’s and pepper’s blossoming, our next task is to make trellis’ for our tomatoes, I think T and I will tackle that this weekend. I have to measure the gardens to make the right size trellis’. I am using a trellis design from Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman. I will be hanging ropes for the tomatoes to climb instead of using actual rope trellis’ as that is less expensive to buy. I am so excited about this. We are also going to put up a rope grid between the pepper plants that will support them as they grow and get heavy fruits.

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I am enjoying this season of garden work and trying not to rush too much and stress myself out making for grumpy mama. This has been a challenge at times, but we have come up with a few things that help. I work in the mornings, I mostly take Tuesday and Thursday’s off for adventures or friend time and I let the littles watch some Daniel Tiger in the afternoons on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so I can write or do doTERRA research/work. This is a huge change as we have been a very low screen time family and I am still struggling with the guilt of feeling like they are watching too much TV, and needing to get some things done uninterrupted.

I am becoming immersed in essential oils, they are amazing, we are even going to use them in our chickens water to promote healthy gut health and prevent bacterial infections, so excited about this. If you would like to learn more about essential oils and uses in farming, contact me, I can help you find the answers if I don’t have them already! Visit my site below or send me an email.

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/site/firehousefarm

Chickens, Life, Vegetables

As our three year old would say “I have troubles”

Today, Thursday,  has been a day for chicken troubles. River came in this morning saying that three of our 100, two and a half week old meat birds were dead and that several sounded wheezy. This is not a good sign, things like this can wipe out a flock pretty quickly. I did a little research and reached out to a poultry group I am part of on Facebook. What I have done so far is change the bedding, (I paid T and a buddy $5 each to clean the coop, totally worth it). I added Vet RX and Apple Cider Vinegar  to the water and so far no more dead chicks, but I still heard some wheezing so we aren’t out of the woods.

From my research it would seem it is either a bacterial lung infection which could be caused by some sort of stress or drafts. Drafts is my best guess as nights have been chilly even though days have been hot and perhaps we should have been closing the window sooner in the evening. Or it could be gapeworm. Treatment for gapeworm is generally a dewormer for every chicken. I also read that Apple Cider vinegar can help. I went with the ACV as I am still not sure which it is.

We went to Mitchell Field in Harpswell today, this is a beautiful spot that includes a community garden and had a jetty we could fish from. It was a great spot to catch small squid. They are removing the jetty, apparently it wasnt safe anymore, where will we fish for squid now? As a person with celiac it is hard for me to find fried food so making our own fried calamari and clams is a treat.

It was low tide so there was a large beach and the boys had a fabulous time looking around the rock strewn beach, finding crabs, baby eels and shrimp, and some mussels. It was a fantastic morning!

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One of the larger crabs the boys caught, they had so much fun!

When we got home, the laying hens were out, for the fourth time in a few days. Even though I have staked the bottom of the fence and it is now about 8 feet tall, they are still digging out under the fence. This is incredibly frustrating. Before we got home they managed to destroy our beautiful bean plants that were looking so nice and we’re beautully mulched and started to dig up some tomatoes and strawberries and a couple garlic plants that were in the middle of the bed not close to other plants.

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Our dug up bean plants, oh the pain of seeing the battered and destroyed plants…

I spent some time nailing boards to the bottom of the fence. As soon as I was done the chickens were at it again, so I started putting rocks on both sides of the boards. I think this will end up being the solution, rocks both in and outside the fence. There are many large tree roots in this area so we can not easily dig the fence in deeper and add a barrier in the ground. It isn’t pretty, which is disappointing as we have been working so hard to keep it tidy and nicish looking.

The greatest frustration is all the work we have been doing We have to do over. Tomorrow the boys are going to be hauling rocks in the morning. That is our goal, rocks around the entire fence perimeter.  Wish us luck!