Garden updates & Preparing for HONEY BEES!
This blog post was supposed to show it’s cute little face on Sunday, but alas, here we are, Wednesday morning and the world can now see all that we’ve done on the farm these past few weeks.
First of all… WE BOUGHT A TRACTOR! That makes us real farmers, right? We’ve already put quite a few hours on this tractor, using it to till up the market garden. I may or may not have caught the widest smile on my sweet farm husband’s face as he learned how to use a back hoe today.. Goodness, that man.. watching him on the farm makes me swoon!
You know what else makes me swoon? The idea of growing our own food. I know that might sound crazy but it’s true! I love planting seeds, starts, transplants, you name it! We planted 37 more raspberry plants giving us a total of 52 raspberry plants on the farm. Our first fifteen plants are very young and likely won’t give us any fruit this year, but will instead work on establishing their root systems. The new ones are transplants from a dear woman who needed to share (she easily had 72 more I could have dug up but I had to pace myself). The transplants will definitely give us fruit this year. I’m greatly looking forward to picking berries and making a lot of jam from the harvest. I also planted 8 boysenberry plants which I will trellis to give it that old English farm cottage look. Better to have them grow vertically than grow wild, am I right?! After all, we only have two acres so there has got to be a growing strategy. See below for my English farm cottage inspiration!
Life in the greenhouse is continuing to flourish. The tomatoes, are growing stronger, the onions are getting about ready for planting… now I’ve just got to get my booty in gear and get corn, pumpkins and squash ready for planting in the market garden. We will work over the next few weeks to put everything in the ground for the growing season.
Our meat chickens are nine weeks old today, which means the countdown to D-day is about seven weeks away. I’ll be honest, I’m NOT looking forward to that day. Yes, we eat meat and raise meat and butcher meat, but in no way do I love butchering day. I dread it. Maybe it’s because we’ve lost several chicks from each of our last batches and one of our sweet new hens past just the other day. I went out to the coop and noticed her on her side, having trouble walking. I checked her for injuries and couldn’t find anything visibly wrong. I immediately isolated her in case it was something contagious, and within 12 hours, she was unable to walk completely. The following evening, I saw she had passed. Part of having a farm is dealing with death but after the chickens and the loss of our farm cat, Nora, last week, I sure am feeling done with death. Thankfully, I’ve got new baby chicks in the chicken coop brooder, growing strong and healthy. The chicks will stay in the brooder inside the chicken coop until they’ve reached about five weeks old. Then they’ll move to the chicken tractor next to the chicken run so that both the chicks and adult hens can get used to each other. This will help prevent any fights when introductions come about around June.
Our first colony of bees is arriving today. TODAY! I’m eager to get this hive home, get the queen established with her colony and get her laying. A laying queen means success for the future of the colony, which in turn means lots of honey for us! I’m definitely no expert in beekeeping, but I’ve done an extensive amount of research and thanks to some fellow homestead bloggers, feel well equipped for the challenge ahead.
We bought our hive with all of the frames here. We will start small with one box and just 10 frames and add more as the colony grows. We wanted to source our bees from someone local to the Pacific Northwest and were lucky enough to find Northwest Bee Supply. They will arrive just in time to greet all of the flowers that have begun to bloom on the farm. I'll share more about them in the coming weeks!
The next projects on the list are to get our market garden planted. The market garden will have both vegetables, fruits and cutting flowers. We have to spread the aged manure we picked up, establish walking paths between each row and get to planting! So much to plant which gets me wondering if we have too much planned? Can you really have too much planted in the garden?
I’d also like to continue work on the pond in the backyard. That hole has been half-dug for almost two years. A running water source would be perfect for the birds and bees that frequent our backyard. Plus, the sound of running water while sitting out on our (future) patio sounds absolutely lovely. We will continuing landscaping and polishing up the changes we’ve made on the farm. For now, I’ve got to go water the garden and check on those adorable baby chicks.. because we all know they don’t stay little for very long!
We had quite a lot of work to do on the farm this year, getting things established, but after this year, it will get easier and easier. And I can't wait to show it all to you!