Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Newest Farm Residents

Henrietta is a small, particularly fierce hen who hatched out some baby chicks a few days ago.

Last summer she also hatched out a clutch of eggs but only one chick survived (his name is Lucky). Lucky’s four siblings were viciously attacked and eaten by raccoons or possibly cats. Anyway, after that debacle, I decided that I had better make a special chicken coop especially for brooding hens. Early this spring I managed to build such a coop inside one of our outbuildings.

The coop has a nest box that sits on the floor, which makes it easy for the chicks to get in and out and eliminates the possibility that one could fall and injure itself. Since baby chickens are even more susceptible to predators than full grown chickens, the brooder coop also has extra security.

After I built the coop, I tried to convince Henrietta to live in it. She refused. She then disappeared for a month. I figured she had either been eaten by a fox, raccoon, stray dog, owl, weasel, hawk or skunk. Much to my amazement she emerged from some tall grass in our goat pen with a bunch of peeping baby chicks in tow.

Henrietta is very protective of her chicks. One of the goats got too close to them and she jumped up on top of the goat’s head and pecked it in the face repeatedly all the while squawking murderously. The goat was left terribly confused.

Knowing full well the chicks would probably not survive the night if left outside, our resident chicken catcher (my husband, Cass) caught her later that day. Henrietta of course tried to attack Cass but he managed to wrestle her into the new coop.
Some of the chicks ran away and hid. After quite a lot of searching in the tall grass, Cass managed to catch these little golf ball sized fluff balls.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garden Fest This Saturday

Saturday, June 26 we’ll be holding Garden Fest starting at 2 p.m. If you’d like to bring a friend or two, go ahead. At 6:30 p.m. we’ll take you out to the back forty and light a bon fire. We’ll feed you supper.

Here’s what’s on the menu:
Organic beef, turkey and vegan hot dogs; pasta salad; tossed green salad; smores; chips; lemonade; iced tea; beer.

It looks like we’ll mostly be working on weeding the sweet corn and watermelon. We can also tour the gardens and hoophouse and visit with the sheep, goats, chickens, dogs, cats and cows. No need to RSVP, for questions call (715) 643-2803 or e-mail me.

What to Bring
For sure bring good shoes (sandals are not allowed in the garden). Also please bring your own lawn chair. Other things you might find handy but don’t necessarily have to bring with you include: your favorite hoe or garden trowel, gloves, sunscreen, bug spray and a hat

Hope to see you there!

Directions to the Farm: Here is our address in case you like to use Map Quest or have one of those electronic map things: N12449 220th St. Boyceville, WI 54725. A word of caution: Google Maps and those Tom Tom things think we live north of Highway 64 when it’s been proven time and again that we actually live south of 64. Here’s a hard copy of directions to the farm:

From Stillwater: This is the obvious way for Stillwater folks but may also be good for St. Paul people too. Cross the lift bridge and head into WI on Hwy. 64. Follow 64 for about 40 miles, turn right onto 220th St. Please note that there is another 220th St. that intersects with Hwy. 64 about 20 miles from Stillwater, this is not our road. In order to get to our 220th St. you have to go through Connorsville which is a little town about three miles west of our house. Once you are on the correct 220th St. we are the first place on the right.

From I-94: For Hudson and St. Paul Folks...go east on I-94 until you hit the Glenwood City exit (the exit number is 28). Take a left off the exit ramp onto Hwy. 128. Follow 128 for about 10 miles until you get into Glenwood City at which point 128 becomes the main drag also known as Oak Street. A few blocks into town 128 turns off, ignore this and proceed to Third Street and hang a left. Just outside of town Third Street becomes County Road X. Follow Co. Rd. X for a few miles until you come to a stop sign, turn left onto County Road Q (I know, us crazy Wisconsinites and our lettered road names). Follow Co. Rd. Q a short ways to Hwy 64 and take a right. About four miles down 64 you will find 220th St., take a right. We are the first place on the right.

Gas: Gas stations are scarce around here (so is cell phone reception). If you are coming from Stillwater your last chance for gas is at an intersection we call four corners about 7 or 8 miles outside of New Richmond. There are 2 stations here right off 64. If you are coming from I-94 your last gas will be found in Glenwood City.
Food: We’ll feed you around 6:30 or 7 p.m. If you were thinking of stopping somewhere for lunch most of the countryside taverns serve food. You’ll find mostly burgers and pizza.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

First Boxes

Hope you all are enjoying your first boxes! Apparently it’s monsoon season here. The rain just keeps on coming. All this precipitation has prevented us from getting out to the garden to pull weeds as much as we would like. It has however given us plenty of time to work on building an ark. We may need it…depending on how many more inches of rain we’ll be getting. Last night we received two torrential downpours which caused that song ‘Five Feet High and Rising’ to get stuck in my head, briefly turned the hoophouse into a shallow river and gave the lettuce a good splattering of grit.

Of Lettuce and Grit
Last year we had quite a lot of grit in our lettuce and I spent many hours trying to rinse it out. In an effort to reduce the grit, this year I mulched the lettuce with chopped grass. It worked well and I think you’ll find the lettuce relatively grit-free…unless it rains really hard right before your delivery, as it did last night. This morning when I went to pick lettuce for the St. Paul folks it was definitely gritty. If you find yourself with lettuce in your CSA box after a hard rain you’ll want to degritify. A good way to do this is to fill a large bowl with cool water and dump your lettuce into it. Swish the lettuce around a bit then let it sit. The sand grains should sink to the bottom.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Check Out the Hoop House

A lot has been happening over here. Today I finally got around to taking some pictures:

The hoophouse is up! This was quite the project, luckily we had help from my dad and several other folks.

It's 24 feet wide and 72 feet long.

Its constructed out of metal pipes, two-by-fours and a whole lotta plastic. Its sorta like a giant hot dish pan covered in cellophane.

We planted a whole pile of tomatoes in there. Last year's members probably remember our tomato crop failure. Hoop houses protect plants from all sorts of fungi and diseases. Take that tomato blight!! HA!

The garlic is doing well. I planted it last fall instead of in the spring (which is what I did last year). Fall planted garlic is the way to go.

Kale is something I've never planted before. Several members from last year requested it. I'm surprised by how fast it grows.

Tommatillos, also known as Mexican tomatoes are just starting to bloom.

The chickens found the garden and did some damage to the broccoli patch. As a result, they are on lock down.

Meet Larry, our new billy goat. He's seen here with Shirley one of our young lady goats.