Garden

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Two Weeks Ago

We finished the Chicken Field expansion and Stewart estimates the new garden area to be around 1/8 of an acre. The pallet garden is about half of that and has peas, lettuce, collards, onions, and potatoes. This area now contains the smallest sprouts of green beans and collards as well as a couple of long rows of potatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupes. These are just seeds in their infancy so we will see what the Lord has for them.

The area with the large hay bales is the expanded region which needs a lot of work. Those hay bales need to be broken apart and scattered over the soil and other amendments added. If the Lord wills we may plant black-eyed peas there this year.

lettuce

radishes

Last Week

We are eating salads from the Pallet Garden – mostly lettuce thinnings, cilantro, and fava bean leaves. Ruthie planted her little patch of radishes and gave us a few thinnings to add to our salads. Tomato and tomatillo starts were divided between the two garden areas.

The goats are now dried up and we are awaiting the final weeks of their gestation. This period of low to no raw milk is a heavy reminder of the major role that dairy animals can have on a homestead food supply. The goats are most browsing on the growing grass, weeds, and trees now with access to hay as desired.

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This Week

We had a significant storm come through this weekend leaving a lot of rain in its wake. We are grateful for the Lord’s mercy in keeping us safe on a Sabbath evening that saw a swift trip to the Siffords to wait out a tornado warning… and a very late, wet, and lightning-lit walk back to a mercifully warm and dry home.

So it doesn’t look like we will need to water early this week and there is now plenty of water to catch up on the muddy laundry.

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Our chicken egg supply dried up drastically last week when hens went broody and others decided to lay astray. So last night Stewart and the boys moved hens and we are fluffing the boxes to encourage laying again. We’ve also got some roosters ready for the chopping block and older hens probably too.

There really is always something new to tend to on a homestead.

cabbageone

This is the last cabbage we harvested… also known as the only cabbage we harvested. It seems odd to say this now on an 80-degree February day, but about a month ago we had a freeze that wiped out the mustard and the broccoli and the cabbages. Well, all of the cabbages except this guy.

We had covered the mustard but heavy winds blew off the plastic. The cabbages were simply neglected and forgotten… and then died. We did manage to grab this guy before the most recent freeze, however. My first thought, of course, was sauerkraut. But one cabbage makes little kraut and when I asked Stewart he thought a slaw sounded good. It made sense, since we’ve been short on salads the last couple of months (and aren’t we still eating through the delicious turnip kraut anyway?).

When I cut into him he actually looked and felt more like a head of iceberg lettuce. Maybe that was the cold temperatures or large variations in water it had been receiving. Either way it made a delicious salad with just lemon juice and olive oil. (With a hand held firmly in front of her, Annie declared “Nothing else, that is just right!” when I asked her if it needed anything.)

Those were the cabbages in the upper right. Now, in February, all that stands is the garlic.

Previous to about a year ago, we had more dry spells than not in the garden arena. This past year has given us fresh vegetables for much of the year and we have waded through the dry spell by eating lacto-fermented vegetables (mostly turnips this year) as well as canned and dehydrated vegetables from the garden. To fill in the gaps we usually purchase organic carrots, cabbage, and onions… and start planting again. The boys have planted some cold hardy greens that are still babies and we are prepping for larger plantings of starts to get a jump on the growing season.

I have really come to appreciate fresh vegetables since moving off-grid. No longer are their many farmers selling their produce at markets and CSAs in our area. No longer am I able to stash a week’s worth of produce in a refrigerator and stack our plates high with salads and stir-fry all week long. Instead, we must make do and wait… for foods to be seasonal or infrastructure to be built.

And it seems I appreciate things a lot more when that is the case.