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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The garden is nice

I have to admit it is more like Rodger's garden this year. He has done all the hoe work and plowing and keeping weeds out this year. It sure does look good so far. Our potatoes are dead so its time to dig those. I told him this evening when we were in the garden I think it best if we just dig maybe a 5 gallon bucket at a time so I can can up the smaller ones so we don't lose them from shriveling over the storage. We picked enough cucumbers to make 8 pints of dill pickles while we were in the garden. And I found 4 small ripe tomatoes.

The green beans are trellised on fence panels. They are full of bloom and beans. Next week will be picking beans.

The sweet corn has tasseled and has ears formed. It should be ready in a week or so. Yummy!!!

I think we planted enough sweet taters to supply a few counties. They look really nice and healthy if the deer will stop eating the leaves. They haven't done a lot of damage but ya know they been in there.

My tomatoes did not get staked and I guess you can say we do them the lazy way. Just them fall over and run all over the ground. They have lots and lots of green tomatoes on the vines. I did find 4 small ripe ones this evening.

We have about 30 ft of cucumber plants trellised on fence wire. This is where we picked enough to make pickles this evening.

If ya look close enough in the vines you can see the green beans hanging in there. At least the bean picking can take place in the shade this year. Either of us can walk under the trellis so at least on hot sunny days it might make life a lil more bearable.

More onions to get sliced and dried tomorrow, and herbs to pick and dry. Another busy day for me.
Not much else happening here on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Another lesson learned

I have always thought that everyday you should try to learn at least one new thing, no matter how trivial it seems. Then there are days when we learn big things. I learned something new this past week since my last post. I had my incubator running to try and hatch off more baby chicks with the intention of replacing my laying flock with their off spring. I use one of the square Styrofoam still-air incubators with the automatic egg turner. It is tricky to keep the temp adjusted in those things when the air is not moving to keep it even all around. With this in mind, I decided to set the temp for eggs that would be directly under the heating element. So I put the turner in, placed my thermometer on the egg turner under the element and turned it on. With a few trys I got the temp right at 99.5 degrees for chickens. Then I proceeded to load the incubator by putting eggs just in the holders around the perimeter under the heating element. With water in the lil tray area in the bottom I counted the days till hatch time. This time around I got a 50% hatch rate. The best I have ever had I think. After a couple weeks I did candle the eggs and several were not fertile and some the shell was dark and dense and I could not tell if they were living or not so I left them all in the incubator. Now if I can just get better control of the humidity I think even that rate will increase. In the past I had been placing the thermometer in the center of the machine and set the temp for that area. Looking back I think the eggs near the element was getting too hot and killing the chicks early in the game. So if you are using one of the still air incubators to hatch chicks, only place eggs under the element once you have the temp set for that area of the incubator and you should have a better hatch rate. Or maybe you already knew that. But dummy me did not think about it.

Our weather has been really nice today. The forecast was for storms and rain today but so far we have seen none. I got out early, well early for me, today and weeded most of my herb bed. Then in passing I noticed I had several big weeds in the strawberry bed and got it weeded too. I actually feel like I earned my keep today. Now to deal with the sore legs from squatting down weeding. I also got fertilizer on the strawberries and herbs and some of my ornamental things here in the yard. So far this summer everything is growing really well. Our garden is really nice, the best one we have had in several years even if we did plant later than we wanted to. Although I have had to spray several times for potato beetles. They have really done some damage to the plants but still we do have some nice taters under there. Rodger dug a hill last weekend to see if they had made anything and we were both pleasantly surprised to find some nice ones. Another couple weeks and we will be up to our arm pits in stuff to pick and can. I still need to catch a not so hot day and clean out the cellar and empty things that our long past their prime and search out jars that may be unsealed. We pulled our onions last evening and they didn't do anything. They just did not grow much beyond the size of the sets we planted. I was kinda upset with that. So I guess I will try to buy a 50 lb bag a lil later and dry most of them for onion flakes. I seem to use more of those than fresh onions anyway.

Now provided we don't get too much heavy rain or too hot I plan to try to clean out chicken houses tomorrow. I really need to get the 16 lil babies put in a building. For now they are in a tote in the dining room. I really don't mind cause for now they don't smell and they are so cute and fluffy. I like playing with them during the day.

Not much else happening here on the farm right now. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It's summer and it's hot!!

I think we went straight from winter to summer here. It has been really hot for us this year. Not to mention the rain raises the humidity and makes it worse. I reckon I am getting too old for this heat or something. Dang it drains me of life and energy. If I cant work much outside you would think I could get tons of things done inside. Not sure why but that is not the case. I guess I am gonna have to get up early and work a bit outside and then come in for the rest of the day when the heat sets in. Hope to get started tomorrow drying some herbs. My pantry supply is running pretty low right now. I am totally out of my homemade version of Ms Dash. I did finally get some celery on sale and dried a good bit of it to use in seasonings. So far all the garden looks really good and is growing in spite of all the rain. I know we need rain but seems like it rains enough to keep the ground too wet to work in. And it makes the grass and weeds grow faster too. Its a constantly battle with bugs, disease and weeds when you garden. But that is life on the homestead. I know several friends are having issues with disease in their gardens. I am inclined to think its caused from the wet weather we have been having. So far we have not had that problem, only bugs here.

Over the past weekend we got the 4 young roosters butchered off. Yep I butchered the ones that were my pets. I had one that was getting really mean and beating up on the other 3. One had been hiding in the weeds in self defense. Sadly he came out just in time for the butchering.  But they certainly made some nice stock. I got 10 pints of nice rich stock plus a good bit of meat canned from them. So it was a gain. I have babies due to hatch this coming weekend in the incubator. Just hoping for a good hatch. It will be time soon to place my order for more Cornish cross for the fall butchering. I am hoping to get them delivered around mid September so they can be butchered off by late October. Most likely I will order 50 for the fall butchering to supply our meat for the whole winter. I am hoping to only keep about 12 laying hens and 1 rooster for my laying flock. Provided I hatch off enough pullets to replenish my old ones. Talk about making awesome stock. The old hens will for sure make great stock for soup and dumplings. Also the meat from them canned makes wonderful casseroles. Maybe we will have a cheesy chicken spaghetti casserole tomorrow for supper. I can actually eat that dish with Velveeta in it.

Blackberries should be ripe this weekend. We checked them last weekend and they were starting to ripen then. Might pick some to can for cobblers. I think blackberry cobbler is Rodgers favorite. I personally like peach better but by golly blackberries are free and that in itself makes them good. We have lots of wild blackberries growing here on the farm around the edge of the fields. I remember as a child going with mom to pick blackberries and she would not stop till she had a couple 5 gallon buckets full. Then she canned those for later use. And ya know, back then I don't remember getting tick bites and not really many chiggers. But nowadays you get eaten alive with ticks and chiggers. Oh my, the thoughts of the itching almost makes me not want to go berry picking. Its just part of the country life so we take the good with the bad suppose.

Not much else happening here on the homestead. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.