Friday, April 27, 2012

End of April Update

This spring has been so warm that a lot of folks planted early which was tempting for us too. But a few days ago we had a couple nights with a fairly hard frost and I am glad we waited. We had some damage to the banana trees and grape vines but they will recover and all our seed starts made it through with no issues in the greehouse. We are currently harvesting lettuce, raddishes, asparagas, horse raddish, spinach, and a wide variety of herbs along with the many flowers we enjoy.

Our chicken venture has fared very well and they all are getting big and now making chicken noises instead of peeping. Thier personalities continue to develop with one Barred Rock hen in particular showing intense curiosity in everything. She comes right up to the dogs and cats when they come up to the pen and touches thier noses with her beak. Carmine the rooster is learning to crow ever more appropriately and he is as cocky as ever. We are really enjoying being out in the gardens working and seeing them and hearing them...and in a couple months a few eggs wont hurt either.

Spring is also the time of year we do a lot of scheduled maintenance on the various pieces of equipment and vehicles. We just did the Kubota tractor oil change and service along with gear oil change on the tiller and next week we do the 4 wheeler oil and spark plug change along with a valve adjustment and then the Dixon garden tractor gets a 50 hour service and the blades changed. And to top that off, two of our vehicles are due for an oil change.

So we are busy planting, wrenching, and tackling various projects around the homestead.....we love Spring. Anything else? Well, since I am now a couple years over 50 I finally got around to the dreaded colonoscopy and if you are over 50 and havent done it yet GO DO IT. Colon cancer is fairly common but has a very high cure rate if its caught in time. The worst part of it was the anticipation but my results were "no findings" so I am good for another ten years. We have an opportunity to purchase another acre of pasture that adjoins ours and we are going through that process now. Its always an adventure around here because the surveys usually turn up different property lines than what the owner thinks (and it did in this case), there can be liens on the property for various reasons (dont know yet), and people can get some strange notions of worth (not an issue for this one). Its not a lot of property or money but anytime we get a chance to add property contiguous to our existing property we take it and figure its a better place to park our money than anywhere else. We have all the easements signed and submitted to get county sewer so that is on track for this summer, Judy will have a booth at the Baker Seed Company Spring show, and I am now trained to use the various hydraulic extraction tools we have in the fire department (jaws of life).

And finally, a couple days ago we were working on one of the tractors in the shop when we heard a loud bang and some flapping sounds. We opened up the door to find a young man in an old beat up pickup in our driveway with a flat front tire....and it looked like he was really shaken up (rural narrow two lane highway and blowing a front tire...). I asked him if he was all right, had him move the truck to the side and then offered to fix the tire for him or give him a lift. He politely declined, asked if it would be alright to leave the truck there until a family member could come and get it and he took off walking. In looking in the truck it was full of copper wire, had bolt cutters, etc., a quick check by the Sheriff showed it was stolen along with the wire and some other things. Now this was right in our front drive, two police cars, searching this truck and laying things out to photograph and everyone was driving by real slow and looking real hard! We have been asked about it by several people but we can only imagine the rumors that must be swirling!!

Please ignore the black spot on the leaves, I sprayed Neem oil on them after I noticed it but this is one of Judy's roses. This year her various rose gardens have really done well and I think we all have found that the Knock Out roses are the way to go. This one is a standard rose and you have to fuss with them to keep the blackspot down etc and they only bloom for a short time while the Knockouts seem to be easy keepers and bloom all year long. We will be adding many more Knock Out roses to our various gardens over the next couple of years.

People either love raddishes or they hate them...we love them. These are very hot and spicey and I eat a couple a day.

Dogs like Rose the Farm Dog do better when they have a job to do; literally. She already herds the 4 wheeler and garden tractors, keeps the horses in check and now she stands watch over the chickens.

The service on the Kubota consisted of an oil and filter change, re-torquing various nuts, checking hydraulic fluid, checking the radiator etc.

This little 3 cylinder diesel is about the same size as the one we had in our 30' sail boat and its just as reliable and easy to work on. The difference though is that with the Kubota we can remove the side engine panels and the front grill assembly to get access. On the sail boat I was usually hanging upside down and squeezed into various access panels.

Each year we have refined our gardening with the ultimate goal of increasing production for sale. But even though we have mechanical means to plow, furrow, cultivate and plant Holly has to play in the dirt to be happy. We have cucumbers and corn planted so far with much to go now that it looks like frost danger is over.

Poor Bandit has really been showing his age but he is the ever reliable companion. His eyesight is failing which is hard to watch sometimes and he generally needs a boost in the butt to even get in the truck now but we figure he has earned his semi retirement and we keep him comfortable and he is a happy guy.

And finally, here are the results of our pasture soil sample. We were surprised at how balanced it came out and the PH level is almost where we want it (we want 6.5 and have 6.0, not enough difference to warrant applying lime). So based on this result, we will be applying a couple hundred pounds per acre of 3-1-1 (nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous) along with a little Fescue seed mixed in. All told, this will cost us around $700 instead of the $1500 plus we expected. 

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