Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cool summer rain.

A very rainy day is very good for the garden, even if the various creatures around the property don't appreciate it nearly as much. The beans very much needed the rain, as they were starting to wilt a bit after the hail followed by a few hot dry days. Right now the beans are all doing well enough, and we're enjoying watching them grow. The bush beans, while they don't look nearly as good have a good crop already on the plant that look like they're just about ready to pick. Having preserved green beans for the winter is always a nice thing.

Over the weekend thanks to help from a friend we were able to get the whole big L shaped bed fully weeded, and get a lot of weeding done elsewhere. It's good to see the ground looking good, and the plants doing well. What you can't see in the photo Right is that the garlic is doing great, and is about ready to come out of the ground as soon as we have 3 dry days in a row. I do think that if we'd had, or made the time to do the weeding regularly things would be doing better in the garden. As the Lady of the House said though, one of the things that is really nice about gardening is that you can see the product of your work. Whether or not that's all perfect, you can say I did this. 
In the case of this year what we can say we did is not weed enough, so the garden is doing ok not great. But what we can be very proud of, though it is hard to see most of the time, is the quality of the soil. How do I know the soil is good? The worms are everywhere! When we were weeding the worms were multiple per foot, and HUGE. The soil wasn't nearly this good when we got here. Some of it is that we have a big advantage with the rabbits, and part of it I think is that we have done our best to take care of the soil with amendments when needed, minimizing damage to it, and just, growing a variety of plants in it. 
I've been thinking about how to make better use of a lot of our land, and we are likely to have a lot of changes going on around the homestead in preparation for next year, both on the garden side, and the livestock side. On the garden side I'm looking at terracing some of the steeper slope that gets good sunlight, and has a LOT of weeds growing in it. While the bees are doing well because of letting goldenrod and ragweed grow, it isn't helping us either with feeding the rabbits, or me not sneezing my brains out (thanks ragweed). If we turn some of the hard slopes into terraced growing areas using some of the old salvaged wood I think that will do well for us.
The changes to the care of the livestock is both a bit more obvious, and going to take more thought. The obvious is, the predators are too much to do the full bore free ranging we like doing with the chickens, and it just isn't working out. When thinking about ethical livestock care you have to think about and balance safety, health, stimulation, happiness, and production. I promise you, a chicken getting run down by a fox, or having its friends eaten day by day isn't a happy chicken. Fear isn't good for a creature, human, or otherwise. With the construction of the new coop that the turkeys are voluntarily using sometimes (ok, only when it rains, but still, they're going on without being chased!) and the damage done by the fox, we're going to be shifting the chicken location again. Thanks to the salvage work that I did in Spring, we have a lot of T posts and fencing, so we're going to go ahead and fence in a large area for the chickens to be in, and yet have some protection. We'll see how things work out precisely, but I have some preliminary planning going on in my head about how to make sure the chickens have plenty of space, safety, and that we're preparing for future changes to our operation. Hopefully I'll be able to give you all some more concrete information as soon as it comes out of my head.

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