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Archive for February, 2012

Darn weather! This thing would be done and I could have moved my lettuce outside if only the weather would cooperate. LOL, just another day I guess. I can’t complain too much. If we were having a normal winter I would still be planning this out and looking forward to starting it.

The last update showed the boys screwing the pvc posts into the wood runner on the long side of the hoop house. If you haven’t seen the start of this project you can find it here.

Since then we put on the hip boards. Mine are 30″ from the top of the runner board. I did this in such a way that I can have my sides roll up for ventilation and cooling and it can rest on this board I’ll have a picture of that when I get it all done.

These boards (2 x 4 x 8) are drilled out with a 1″ hole saw so the pvc sits in the board. I then used a 2″ screw to secure the pvc to the board. The part of the board that is outside the pvc will become the shelf that the rolled up plastic from the sides rests on. At least I hope so anyways.

We also built one of the end walls. Just standard framing. Actually the other end is going to be built a little different just to see which way works better. The lumber is standard 2 x 4 x 8’s. My door is 36″ wide and just shy of 6′ tall.

The last thing we have completed is hanging the ridge pole.  Standard 2 x 4 x 8 boards. The way I hung this is I drilled 2 small holes through the board and used some 14 gauge wire that I had for another project and just twisted it. Just link a twisty tie. The twists are on the bottom of the board so it doesn’t contact the plastic. The black wire is coming around the pvc and into the wood, then twisted tight.

Today most of the snow is gone but it is very windy so the plastic won’t be installed. Maybe tomorrow I can get the other end wall installed and the plastic on!

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Last year was the first year that we lived on this property. The garden was brand new so we had to break ground and basically just deal with the existing soil conditions. Which in hind sight, were not too bad.

Here are some pics from last year. Some successes and some not so successes 🙂 That’s how it goes some years.

When we purchased this property in February of last year we were not able to bring along our raised beds. Since it was February they were frozen solid and I had no way to pick them up. Thankfully, I was able to make arrangements to come back in spring and get them! So this bed of Strawberries was salvaged!

The bed to the left we planted with potatoes, and the bed off to the right was used for onions, a couple zucchini plants, and later some cabbage.

The tires were stacked vertically for potatoes, it didn’t really work. The plants grew up to the top but there wasn’t much for potatoes. I think I added the additional dirt at the wrong time???

I’m not sure when this picture was taken but it was already getting late in our planting season. I would have liked to get more ground worked up, but it was starting to get to be a short season already. In fact, if we could zoom ahead tho this year, My hoop house would be blocking most of this view. That’s something I am looking forward to.

I have some of the rows marked out in the picture. The front middle area was sweet corn. That was an excellent harvest. But, we only have a few pounds left in the freezer.

Back to the raised beds. Pictures speak a thousand words? Well at least two words.

Here are some early season pictures. 4 Roma tomato plants in a row, they did very well.

Small plot of potatoes on the right, lettuce and beets under the string.

Just another view. The picture is kind of deceiving. Even with all the trees, they don’t block much sunlight from the garden itself.

Potatoes starting to die back. Those are zucchini plants on the back side.

Sweet corn with carrots and beets in the shadows. Last year I planted some extra things for the goats and chickens but I don’t think they got much of it. Maybe this year. I meant well, it’s just hard to give the animals all this awesome food! One thing that I was able to do this past winter and will continue into spring is to work this soil. We put a lot of last years manure on it along with some yard leaves and let it compost over winter. I’ll also get everything planted early, or at least on time and really mulch it. Mulch is your best friend!

Here are some of the squashes. Mostly Butternut, with some watermelons and cantaloupes mixed in. I don’t remember if we had any acorn squash?

Last year was the first year that we grew pretty decent cantaloupes. We are on the border of having too short of a growing season. Our location (Lake Michigan is about 7 miles east of us) keeps us warmer in fall but cooler in spring. So we get a little later start than others more inland.

Final picture from last year. Just an overall shot from a different angle.

This year should be much different. For one thing I have the 12 x 24 foot hoop house which will be complete very soon. Thanks to the grow lights and heat mat I already have a bunch of seedlings growing in the house. And the composted manure should have worked itself into the soil. I didn’t mention the fruit trees so that will be for another post. Or, the fruity bushes! I can’t wait.

What are you looking forward to this year in your garden? Leave it in the comments and please consider entering your e-mail address in the box to the right so we can stay in touch.

Jeff

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My wife was brought up on goat’s milk. I wasn’t.

In fact even after we got married and had it given to us on a regular basis I still had a very difficult time drinking it, or eating things baked with it. After all, it was goats milk and I just knew it was different from the cow’s milk I grew up on.

 

It didn’t matter how much I fussed about it, we were moving towards using goat milk exclusively in my wife’s kitchen. It wasn’t easy, nor did I give in without a fight. But I lost. And that’s OK. Especially with all the questions surrounding the safety of our food supply today.  I can’t honestly tell you the last time we bought milk from the store. I don’t think I would be off to say it’s been at least 10 years. In fact, pretty much all of our dairy products come from the goats. In future posts I am going to ask my wife to do a couple of articles on the different things she makes and how you can do it also.

I’ll also get more into the day-to-day with the goats including the chores, pasture, fencing, etc, etc.

Here they are, the matriarch of our herd is a Saanen named Brownie (she has a brown collar). I believe she is about 7 years old, maybe 8. She can give a gallon of milk a day and is the work horse of our herd.

 

Her oldest daughter is more Toggenburg than Saanen and is named Little Brown (that one makes sense). She can come close to a gallon of milk a day as well.

 

 

Our third doe is also more Toggenburg than Saanen and is named Teardrops. She received that name because if you look close, her waddles come off of her ears like…teardrops. She is the friendliest and personable goat I have ever been around.  She is also the goat in the picture at the start of this article.

And last but not least is Blossom. She is still struggling to gain weight. When she was born two springs ago she was infected with some liver flukes. That spring was very cold and wet and the goats were on pasture eating mostly grass. From what I was told the flukes infect the snails, which then get secreted in that slime trail left by the snail. Then comes along a goat and eats the slime trail along the blade of grass, and voila…you get the fluke!  The flukes killed her siblings and almost took her as well. Thankfully she pulled through. She is the one in front. She is still very black but is starting to take on the brown Toggenburg color.

 

You can also see our Billy. I like the Saanen breed so when I found him on Craigslist I drove half way across the state to get him! The above picture was taken this past December when they were all together to, well …do what goat’s do. Hopefully this spring we will have quite a crew of kids around to show off. Brownie and Little Brown will likely have 3 kids each. Teardrops may have 3 definitely 2. If Blossom is pregnant she will hopefully only have 1 or 2.

Here is a pasture picture. You can see where the goats have eaten the bark off the trees. They will choose bark over just about anything. Some of the trees I have fenced off. When I built this pasture it was so they would clear it out.  It is a low area just full of brush. It was full of brush anyways. Now it is starting to look pretty nice.

 

Below is what the area above looked like last summer. They can eat the brush!

 

Well those are our goats. At least for the next couple of months. If you have any goat questions or stories please let me know. If you have an article to send me I would be glad to post it for you as a guest blogger!

Also, don’t forget to leave your email in the box at the right so we can stay in touch.

Jeff

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Hey Everyone, even though there is still snow on the ground and the temps are freezing at night I am trying to get some garden seeds to grow.  Thanks to my new grow light set up and heat mat I am able to get seeds started that I never could have before. I am also almost done with my hoop house so my whole gardening plan for this year has been super charged!

This year is starting out to be one of many firsts for me.  Besides the above mentioned items I am also planning on really focusing on using heirloom seeds so that I can start saving them myself. Not only is this cost-effective, but I like how these seeds will actually condition themselves to my soil and environmental conditions. How cool is that? I’ll actually be writing more about that throughout the summer. For now, here are  a couple pictures of my tomatoes and peppers that I started about 2 weeks ago.

These are Red Brandywines

 

Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes

 

Some Bell Peppers, These are Big Bertha’s

 

If you enter your e-mail address in the box on the  right side of the page and click the follow button I will send you an e-mail when I add to this post or write a new one. Thanks!

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Hello fellow Gardner’s,

Below is a picture of one of my flats of seeds that I have started beneath my new Grow Light and DIY Heat Mat. Needless to say I am thrilled with how this is working out.

I am asking everyone to guess the name of this seedling. Common Names are acceptable, don’t go all Latin on me 🙂

Here it is…

Leave me a comment if you think you know what it is.

Don’t forget to put your e-mail address in the box to the right and click the follow button. I’ll be doing more contests and if enough people start following I will give away some cool garden related prizes!

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Savage Mark II .22 cal lr.

I have been thinking of picking one of these up for a couple of years now. I was playing around with the accu-trigger at a local gun shop and really liked it. Well, I am not disappointed.

Here it is dressed with a BSA Sweet .22 scope, and an extra magazine.

I’m not going to go through all the specs of the rifle, you can find that all over the internet. My intention is to let you know that for an “average” shooter this gun and scope combo is indeed Sweet.

One thing that I want to caution you of is the fact that this rifle does NOT come with scope mounts. Maybe it’s just me but that was surprising. It wasn’t a big deal because I bought the rifle and scope at the same shop and noticed the lack of mounts right away.

Here is what you get in the scope box. A glass cleaner, the wrench for the trigger adjustment, 3 turrets (one is on the gun), aluminum scope covers (which I will upgrade with flip ups). The scope mount package is there as well. It’s the #16 weaver package and you will need two of them.

The gun was actually purchased several months ago and since it is winter here in Wisconsin I have not shot it a lot. I don’t have access to a range so I shoot in the backyard. We did a sight-in and was very satisfied considering it was windy and quite cold. Here is my last 7 shot group at 50 yards. We had shot about 300 rounds through the gun without cleaning it at this point.

If you haven’t tried the accu-trigger rifle’s from Savage, you should. They are very nice guns right out of the box.

I’m really looking forward to shooting this gun in the spring. Once the scope gets dialed in and I get more comfortable with it any squirrel within sight better worry. Let me know if you have this gun and what you think of it.

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We have had such a long drawn out, yet mild winter it seems like spring should be here any day! A couple of weeks ago I planted 6 different varieties of lettuce. You can find that here.  Today I’ll add some pictures of what I have now and you can see that some are doing better than others. Some seedlings were lost because I had my lights adjusted wrong. But I was able to replant and am still in the lettuce business!

First up is the Simpson Elite. If you remember the last post I had the planted in 6 cell pots. Because my lights were not at the right height the plants grew way to fast and got very spindly. So I replanted them (losing a couple) in the larger 4 cell pots.

 

Next is the Black Seeded Simpson.

 

This is Red Fire.

 

Parris Island.

 

And Royal Red.

I am hopeful that by the end of this week we can have the Hoop House completed and move these all outside!

 

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