Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a great 2018!
This year has been busy for us both on and off the farm. On the farm we’ve had many firsts, we’ve learned a bunch from our many mistakes, and we’ve had many successes. Off the farm, however, we’ve lost loved-ones, experienced unexpected changes in jobs, and a host of other undesired obstacles. Let’s start with the worst events of the year, that way we will end with the high notes.The Worst…
On Mariah’s birthday her dad was diagnosed with a rapid form of terminal cancer. Fred passed away at home in late September…
Quickly thereafter, Tom’s uncle declined in health due to his own battle with cancer. Bob passed away at home in mid November…
Their contributions to our farm deserve a separate post. We were honored to spend much of our free time this year in providing care for both of these great men, and grateful for the ability to do so… they will be sorely missed.
Earlier in the year, we also lost Pogo. We got her as a puppy and had her for 14 years. She was a good girl and trained the other dogs well. She too will be missedThe ‘Not So Great’…
In 2018, we’ve gotten everything stuck… We’ve gotten lawnmowers, shoes, and trailers all stuck in the mud… Got the car stuck on ice once and in a ditch another time… We’ve gotten the tractor “stuck” in the field without fuel and/or a dead battery several times. The truck has been stuck in the mud too many times to count! So many in fact that it isn’t even a surprise any more… it’s just a normal Tuesday. One Tuesday, Mariah even accidentally lit the truck on fire… while it was stuck in the mud. Hell, we once even had to pull out a pig that had gotten itself stuck in the mud. So, we’re getting really good at unsticking things!
We’ve heard that tires are a farmer’s bane… After this year, we understand why. We have had flat tires on every vehicle… from leaky rims to nails to blowouts… from busted tire irons, to stripped lug bolts… We’ve saved a fortune and learned how to fix all the tire issues ourselves (Thanks Fred!). Loads of experience this year!
At Tom’s off-farm job, his long term project unexpectedly ended. This has lead to some additional stress as the year ends and prompted him to begin looking for opportunities elsewhere. However, we are exceptionally grateful for the understanding and flexibility his work provided during our difficult times throughout the last 9 years.The Day-to-Day…
In 2017, we sold off our old chicken flock after we moved onto the new farm as we weren’t going to be quite ready for chickens in the 2017/18 winter. So, in the spring, we restarted our free-range egg laying flock from chicks and built a new chicken run (that they don’t use). While we were at it, we picked up a handful of guinea keets to help keep down the number of ticks around here… Results: We can never find any chicken eggs, and are currently battling ticks on dogs in the dead of winter. So… we’re still working on it!
The kids painted the merry-go-round over Memorial Day weekend. This merry-go-round has been played on by 4 generations of children in our family… so far. It’s nice that our kids still have the opportunity to play on and still appreciate the playground equipment that their great-grandfather salvaged from a drive in theater for their grandmother to play on.
With Pogo passing away, both our kids (and Mariah) wanted new dogs… First Stoney got Luna, then Samari got Hunter.The Firsts…
In the early spring, we tried our hand at digging a couple of swales (level ditches on contour) on the farm with moderate success. One swale was dug by hand to redirect the pond’s overflow and the other was dug to define the edge of a field via a plow on the back of the tractor. A third swale was hand-dug later in the year to compliment a little duckpond the pigs were kind enough to dig for us. All the swales could use to be a bit deeper/wider… And they should have been planted out with a cover crop immediately… But overall they are level and only time will tell if they are beneficial or detrimental.
Last year at about this time, Tom challenged himself to buck and split a rick (a.k.a. face-cord) of firewood with only an axe in 2018 based on Stephen Edholm’s Axe Cordwood Challenge. Tom surpassed his personal goal without injury. We are quite proud this achievement, especially considering prior to 2018, Tom had never really used an ax.
This year we found the wonder that is the local livestock auction… We’ve bought all manner of objects, from bunnies, to piglets, to tools, to plain old “junk”. We even sold a little bit. But we really go there for the entertainment and to meet people. Its more enjoyable than it ought to be.
As mentioned, we picked up a few breeding rabbits at the auction this spring. We were planning to raise rabbits for meat, but with all we were dealing with off farm this year, we never got around to butchering, and decided to just sell them back at the auction late in the summer. During this experience, we learned a lot for next time and ultimately were able to make our money back. Next year we will be better prepared and try again.
We had raised meat chickens for ourselves in years past at our previous house. This year we raised a couple hundred and sold most to customers. These chickens turned out bigger and tasted better than we ever expected. Moreover, we were able to share the butcher day experience with a few interested friends. They seemed to enjoy the experience. One, at least, is planning to join us on future butcher days. It’s always a success when you can introduce others to taking responsibility for their own food. Raising meat birds, especially this many, is a lot of work, but the end result of a freezer full of healthy, ethically-raised food is so very rewarding.
One of the main reasons we started going to the auction was actually to see about getting piglets. We had planned to raise pastured pork this year and couldn’t resist bringing home the first 4 cute little piglets we saw. Looking back, we really had no clue what we were doing… but we learned as we went and it all turned out great. Raising pastured pork this year was an enjoyably enlightening experience from beginning to end. From bringing the little piglets home from auction in a dog crate, to learning how to castrate the males, to chasing/coaxing them back into their paddocks when they got out, to learning how to direct their behavior into producing desired work like elimination of poison ivy and digging a future duckpond, to laughing at them when they got stuck in the mud,… yes even loading them onto our truck bed trailer and taking them into the butcher, the jumble of emotions that day was, turned out to be a generally pleasant experience. Especially when Mariah got zapped by the electric fence, that story has been laughed at more times than we can count already and still isn’t old. We can’t even begin to express the deep sense of pride and relief we experienced once the pigs were safely in the butcher’s corral, not to mention once they were on the plate. We’ve received compliments on the flavor from each of our customers and we just served one of the hams to the family on Christmas… We’ll be bringing the ham to Easter Sunday… and will definitely be raising pastured pork again next year.
Our neighbors are fantastic! When they had a set of twin calves in September they gave us one! Although we were ill-prepared for cattle in many respects, we of course accepted. Luckily we had left the pig pen up so that we had a place to put the newborn calf. With their assistance and continued advice, we got the calf and area situated. After a few days, they had another set of twins they gave us ANOTHER calf! Now that we have bottle fed them every morning and evening (rain/snow/sleet) for 2+ months and every morning for another month, we begin to understand why they were so eager to give them away.
In this video I talk about my participation in the Axe Cordwood Challenge proposed by Stephen over at Skillcult. In a nutshell I fell and bucked 1 and 1/3 ricks of firewood with only an axe. No other tools (excluding a wheel barrow) were used.
The post My 2018 Axe Cordwood Challenge Results – 1 & 1/3 ricks appeared first on Rugged Root.
Well, we once again have chickens on the homestead, 250 more trees/shrubs have been planted, and compost has been moved… and it happened so suddenly! As always, we weren’t as ready for spring as we would have liked to be…
On Tuesday, we received our order of trees… in the middle of a snowstorm. Of course, the place we were planning to put them (temporarily) still had a few cubic yards of unfinished compost sitting on the spot. So they sat in our home for nearly a week while we waited for the snow to defrost, so I could move the compost pile over to the garden site on Saturday. Then there was a day of rest on Sunday… because it snowed again, in March… several inches. Very inconvenient… So today, after running other errands, Mariah and I planted 250 of the 400 trees/shrubs in our nursery as the sun was setting. Tomorrow, we plant the remaining 150 trees.
On Thursday, we received our first batch of cornish cross meat birds. Of course they came early, so we had to immediately run out to get non-GMO feed from our local supplier (Pet Pro in Middletown, Mo). Then on Saturday, our laying flock and guineas came. 10 Marans, 2 Lavender Orpingtons, 2 Polish-White , 2 Polish Buff-Laced Chickens and 10 Guineas. Luckily, we were ready for this batch… Now our bedroom is very loud with all the chirping.
Awww, look at the cute little chicks! They’re so tiny! But they won’t stay that way for long… that’s for sure. I think this batch has already doubled in size.
With all of this going on, the tractor had to be disassembled again, and the truck got stuck while moving the compost, and got our taxes completed. Its been a busy week.
If you are interested in enjoying some of our chickens this year, take a look at the details here:
The post Chicks on Farm, Planted 250 Trees, We’ve been busy appeared first on Rugged Root.
Since we moved onto our new property in the middle of the growing season, we weren’t able to grow much in 2017. So instead of overwhelming ourselves with the move, all the little first year projects, AND trying to scramble to fit in shortened growing season (we were tempted), we decided to take the last half of 2017 to plan our 2018 season. We have 2 big announcements…
This year the dream becomes a reality, we’re gonna be a “real farm”.
We are looking forward to starting beds for annual veggies! There are over 400 trees and bushes coming in March that will need to be planted in our new orchard. Before spring, we are hoping to clean up all of the over grown fences. We also have to plan and run fence lines for the pigs as well. We’ll need to build a more permanent chicken coop for our layers and we have several chicken tractors to build for our meat birds. They need plenty of room to roam but still have the security from the many predators that visit the farm.
We are really looking forward to the 2018 farming year!
In this video, we plant the first tree on our new property. We transplant our first ever volunteer fruit tree. This peach tree decided it wanted to grow among our walking onions… so we transplanted these friends together.
The post Its Officially a Farm! Our First Tree Planted on the New Property. appeared first on Rugged Root.
In this video we stick Currant cuttings and some unknown type of bush Cherry cuttings.
The post Starting a Small Nursery Bed by Propagating Hardwood Cuttings – Part 2 (Currants and Cherries?) appeared first on Rugged Root.
Video – Starting a Small Nursery Bed by Propagating Hardwood Cuttings – Part 1 (Elderberry and Hardy Kiwi)
In this video we start setting up our nursery bed. We till an 11 foot by 4 foot bed by hand, explain how to take hardwood cuttings using Elderberry sticks, and plant them in the new bed.
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We are in the process of transplanting from our old garden to our new property. In this video I talk about Sea Kale and what it can be used for… In the summer, we’ll do another video showing footage of the foliage.[ecwid_product id=”70295762″ display=”picture title price options qty addtobag” version=”2″ show_border=”1″ show_price_on_button=”0″ center_align=”1″]
The post What is Sea Kale? Part 1… An easily propagated perennial vegetable. appeared first on Rugged Root.
Take a look at how well simply burying sticks in your garden beds can help you save water. When we create a garden bed, we bury any of our unwanted logs and sticks under the soil creating a “hugelkultur” garden bed. This is how we are able to go weeks without watering our gardens. Tell us what you think.
I know you don’t see much of the comfrey in this video, but if you are looking for some, feel free to take a look at our store:[ecwid_product id=”70295771″ display=”picture title price options qty addtobag” version=”2″ show_border=”1″ show_price_on_button=”0″ center_align=”1″]