Monday, March 31, 2014

March Winds

March tends to be quite blustery around New Mexico so it is a good time to work outside in the morning and inside in afternoon.  We've got the fields level and the first seed is on that field.  We took a trip to Roswell Seed to pick up a forage mix for horses to replant the bottom fields.  The upper fields are cleared of debris and holes for new trees were dug.  We have 7 trees coming, all first year and all fruit.  No pistachios to be had in the area and rumor has it, Almonds won't grow.
There were no new gardens this year, but we expanded the ones we do have.  Because the weather has been so nice, we have stuff growing in almost all of them.  The back garden by the chicken coop has blooms on all the trees we planted 7 years ago, this might be the first year for fruit?  Let's wait and watch.  The greenhouse provided all year and planted a mix of things in there for spring.  The chickens managed to get in there, so will have to start over in some of those areas.  The tomatoes are in the house and ready to start hardening for transplant outdoors.  I've got some sunflower seeds to go with them in the outside the greenhouse garden, so it should help with the height.  Going to also do indeterminate in the greenhouse, hoping that we can keep them cool enough with the shade to keep them growing through the end of the year.
Finally, the pomegranates are leafing out so that transplanting made it.  So did the Stella Cherry from late fall.  Both are leafing out, but no blooms.  I think I'll take it.

We are also taking action on our fence between the house and orchard.  It's reclaiming logs for the uprights.  Unfortunately, we were not able to find enough straight branches with the length we need.  We have piles of sticks, but just too many crooked or broken when they fell.   Others we got a good 8 feet and will look for other projects, like the protection of the new trees.

Visitors for March were varied, but down compared to other years.  Could be that the lower fields being barren could mean they are avoiding us and looking for food elsewhere.  Javalina, Wild Turkeys, Coot and Sandhills have been visiting.  Had only one Coyote siting this month.

While chickens and turkey are laying, no one seems to be brooding for hatch.  Finally put some hay in the pen for the turkey and she's making a nest.  Keep your fingers crossed.  It would be much easier to let them lay and hatch their own eggs.  Introduced three new kittens to the farm today as well.  Went back to the numbering system and they are Uno, Dos, and Tres, named from lightest to darkest.  Long haired kittens, hope they are okay without their mama!

Here come the winds again!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February watering

It seems weird to be fighting moles, weeding and mulching gardens.  It is only February 5 and it has been so warm, the onions and potatoes from last week are growing, the bok choy in the greenhouse is blooming (I just did a pollination, though there are bees and flies out.  Watered the spinach and noticed carrots in the greenhouse coming up.  These must have been some washed seeds from the flood.  I found some Mustard Greens growing under an area where we don't grow plants, but I dug it up and transplanted it.  It has a great flavor and means I don't need mustard on my burger and I can do some great lettuce wraps.

Again, I thought this was the slow time, but the salad last night was delicious.  We even irrigated Monday and Tuesday.  They cleaned the weir up and the water was really flowing extremely well.  This was our first shot at irrigating the lower fields since the flood, September 13, 2013.  We are at a curve in the creek on two fronts.  When the water comes quickly, we get lots of erosion and lots of soil from up stream ends up on our fields.
Some of the fields had 3 foot of silt and sand brought on to the grasses.  Almost all of the plants along the edge were brought up and so were a couple of pieces of irrigation pipe (not from our farm).  Thank goodness for neighbors. Chuck moved dirt and Bob clean off the fields.  Watering caught a couple of high areas, but overall, this is better than we have had since September!

 Our Turkeys are a Year Old.  One tom, one hen.  Come on, get together, we want a new flock!

The Fodder is going well.  Hopeful the chickens and turkeys appreciate the fodder tonight!

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I always thought that winter was the slow time on the farm.  No so much when you harvest pecans.  The good news is that they are a cash crop but even the bad ones feed the chickens.  I had the turkey eating out of my hand today.  I have to step on the pecans and open them, but the weather was so nice, it was a pleasure to be outside.

That Tom was eyeing me!  I know many people say just buy your eggs and get rid of the Tom.  I think we have come to an agreement.  Molli and he have an adversarial relationship, but Molli is the boss.  She stays close while he's around me, so I'll keep them both and hope for a clutch of eggs.

There is a list a mile long of possible things to do.  Phil suggests that It's good to have lots to do, but nothing that needs to be done now.  I agree.  I've got a few projects that were laying around.  I've organized and cleaned that stuff.  Now on to some things to get ready for spring.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fodder Experiment

Day 9 of the Oat Grass Fodder Experiment

Day 9 of our experiment with Oats. Goal, to increase the feed from the original weight of the seed. Start weight of seeds. 7.2 oz, final weight, 23.9. That's a 3 fold increase in weight. Original weighing and final weight were after 15 minutes of soaking and draining all water off. 
We soaked for 12 hours, rinsed and soaked for 15 minutes twice a day for the 9 days. Days 1-4 were in the back room, temperature average of 63 degrees F with 11% humidity. The days 5-9 were in a window in a plastic greenhouse with 4 shelves. Since it was not sealed, the day time temps were about 80 degrees F average and night time temps at about 66 degrees F.
As an experiment, this went well. I'll see how the chickens and turkeys like this and amend my growing for the future. One mistake I will not make again, metal pan. I'll be working in proofing trays where I will be able to get a drain on one end. This will be less disturbing to the root mass in the final days.
I did have 100% germination, but will bring the soaking seeds into the warmer room. The optimal temp for oats germination is 70 degrees F, so I might have had better luck in the early days of germination with those extra 7 degrees.
I've also read some more that suggests that any more than 4 hours of soaking oats is not good. Will try that and rinse and soak for more 15 minutes and dump 2 times each of those early days to avoid water logging which may have prevented earlier germination.

I've included a picture with an example of the size of the blade of grass and the two (average) roots.

Did not have any mold, but seeds were triple cleaned organic oat seed.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Where there's smoke there's

Smoking hams today and earlier this week we did bacon...sort of.

Our first try.  Love the smell, hate the mess.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No two days the same

I worked several jobs over the years.  Car hop at A&W, consultant, teacher.... Almost all of my jobs had regular schedules for some period of time.  Farming doesn't work that way.  Nature tells you what you can do when.  Sure, there are certain jobs that are done daily, but not always the need to do at 8AM types of work.  Chickens and Turkeys can go out at 8 or they can stay inside on a bad weather day.

So, today is catch up day.  I've weighed and watered the fodder experiment.  At Day 4,  weight has now doubled in the Oats that we are sprouting and growing for 9 days.  They have sprouted at a rate of about 85%, as of today, with some more expected in the next couple of hours.  Today they go into the pan and will be watered from the top.  I already figured I need to use different pans to allow for some drainage in the future.  Not quite the 10 fold increase that they suggest, but a good start.

I also went over to the creek to harvest some water cress and other greens.  I've transplanted them into the pond for some other food sources for the ducks.  I managed to find some clay to harvest for an art project as a bonus.  I did however, manage to find some quick sand and ended up about a foot under the mud.  Didn't lose the muck shoes, but there is sure mud all over.  Socks are now grey.

I worked on the garden yesterday because of my germination problem.  Both my onions and potatoes have sprouted.  I got them both into the garden yesterday and all are buried.  We are still warm enough to have some root growth, but I'm not counting on the warm weather continuing.  I'm mulching and covering well.  I think I'll harvest as I need them or store underground next year.  One of the things about growing naturally, by not putting unnatural chemicals on any of the food, you tend to get this kind of crazy growth even under the conditions that would normally preserve food through the winter.  Hard to find places that will stay within range without freezing.

It doesn't seem that this time of year should have all that much gardening going on, but it does around here when we are trying to create a sustainable system.  When there is a glitch in the system, it needs addressing.  That's why it is a good thing there is time flexibility in farming.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Cookies

I'm making cookies today.  We have been working with someone down canyon on the project and the person has a no wheat flour diet.  I'm trying this recipe and going to see if we can add some fiber and natural sugars from our farm into the recipe.

First, I make an oatmeal cookie that we've taken to adding some combination of dried cherries, pecans, dried apple chunks and chocolate chips.  It usually has refined white sugar and brown sugar.  

Oatmeal Cookies                                                        Preheat Oven: 375 degrees F

1 cup softened butter
2 ripe medium bananas
1 cup apple sauce
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Juice of one Mandarin orange
1 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries, apples, or other fruit
Juice of one Mandarin orange
1 cup chopped pecan pieces
1 cup Almond Milk
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
6 cups whole oats
1 cup flax seed.

Mash ripened bananas into softened butter.  Add in Whip in each egg.  Add in liquids while stirring.. Mix in cocoa till thoroughly blended.
Stir in cherries, pecans, chocolate chips.  Sprinkle Baking Soda Add half of the whole oats while stirring completely.  Sprinkle on flax seed as you stir.  Add the rest of the oats.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes for chewy or mash down a bit and cook for 20 minutes for crunchy exterior.
Let cool and store in container.  Refrigeration not necessary but may extend shelf life and firm up cookies.