The end of summer is a satisfying time on the farm. With the cool morning breeze, our walks are now quite a pleasure as we make our way to the various fruit, vegetables, and animals. It is such a rewarding feeling when the 4' stick you planted in winter has blossomed into a beautiful 8' tall apple tree. So, in an attempt to share that joy, let's go on our morning walk!
It all starts with a beautiful sunrise and letting the dogs out to play.
As we make our way out to the chicken coop we pass by our little backyard orchard, squashing any beetles that may be trying to have an early morning snack. The trees were just planted this March, and the leader limbs are already out of arms reach. Here you can see our Antique Cox's Orange Pippin and Granny Smith Apples as well as a double grafted cherry tree, which will produce both green and red cherries.
The rooster begins to impatiently crow for breakfast, while the ducks are steadily quacking to be let out to their pool.
The ducks are a funny lot. They forego breakfast every morning in lieu of a quick swim. They rush out to the water, splash about quickly, clean their feathers, dry off, and then try to get back to food before the chickens have finished it off. To them the water is much more important than food; it makes me cringe to think how those poor commercial ducks must feel who have never seen more than a drop of water at a time for their entire lives.
We sit and watch the chickens for quite sometime, enjoying the simplicity of their lives. It is incredibly therapeutic to sit still, in silence, examining the world around you in great detail; it is then you can hear the sound of all of the other creatures that are busy at work with the same priorities as you: FOOD, SHELTER, COMFORT, MATE. This realization is the cornerstone of humility, one of the greatest virtues.
More than anything though, the chickens are a great source of entertainment. Just look at this Golden Polish chicken! It runs about, pecking at the tiniest bugs with great precision. The manner in which her head bobs when strutting about closely resembles a Velociraptor, which tickles me every. single. time. I am yet to see her eyes!
The pens we provide our chickens are more for their protection than to keep them contained, so when a hen flies out of the coop, we leave her out to forage for the day. It is probably a sign she just needs to stretch her legs or needs some time to explore and entertain herself. All of our chickens have been trained to return to the coop when called, so putting them back into a protective environment for nighttime safety is an easy task.
We then gather the eggs and make our way to au potager cuisine (the kitchen garden). Can you spot the difference between a commercial egg and the fresh egg above?
Since this is our first year living here, our berry bushes are only a few months old. I inspect the plants for insect damage and pick off any flowers or berries that may be trying to develop. I chose to forego a paltry harvest this year so that the bushes could put forth all of their energy into growing nice strong, large canes. We have planted Royalty Purple, Heritage Red, and Anne Yellow Raspberries, Natchez Thornless Blackberries, and Blueray and Pink Lemonade Blueberries. I check the beer trap for slugs and to determine if their are any new insect threats. I glance over the vegetable beds for any areas that need attention, making a mental note of any weeding that needs to be done. The winter garden has already been planted, and it has germinated nicely. If all goes according to plan we should be enjoying the following vegetables into at least December: Craupadine Beet, Swiss Chard, Green Choy, Mache, Baker Creek's stir fry mix, collard greens, and an assortment of rare local varieties of runner beans (of course the beans will die off with the first frost, sometime in mid October usually). This is in addition to the carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower and many other vegetables already growing in the commercial gardens.
Then we make our way to the jardin d'herebes de cuisine (traditional kitchen herb garden), where a plethora of cilantro, oregano, dill, cinnamon basil, genovese basil, lime basil, alpine strawberries, rosemary, sage, and thyme are readily available for cooking. I look for some nice cilantro leaves and pull them gently from the stems. It will go perfectly with breakfast.
Making our way back to the house, we check on the kiwi vines and flower beds. Heading inside I begin preparing breakfast and we talk about the plan for the day.
Duck eggs served with a homemade pico de gallo.
In my opinion, having a relaxing and comforting morning routine is essential to living a happy life. Whether you spend it alone or share it with your partner, it will vastly improve your mood for the day. I hope you guys enjoyed the walk around our home! See ya next week!
The last time that I wrote a blog post was before the cows managed to pull a Houdini and break into our gardens... destroying much of everything. The little heifers decided to stick their heads under a gate, and then lift up, effectively pulling the gate off of the hinges. Then they proceeded straight to the onions, and ate the greens off of nearly all of them. After having their fill of those, they moved on to the beans, chewing the tops off of every single plant. Judging from the hoof marks they carried on like this throughout both of our gardens for some time. We picked what we could, but much of the crop was not salvageable. Fortunately, we were able to save many of the potatoes. While it wasn't the harvest we expected, we are just thankful it was at least decent.
As depressing as it was to see an entire spring and summers worth of work destroyed, we knew that we had to press on. So we immediately began reworking and replanting the soil. We started nearly 100 trays of cabbage and kale, and now nearly 3 weeks later an entirely new fall garden is beginning to take shape. And it is going to be fantastic.
With cabbage, carrots, beets, cucumbers, squash, kale, radicchio, cauliflower, broccoli, Swiss chard, collards, lettuce, and more our fall garden is sure to please everyone.
It has been a rough ride so far this year, but that isn't going to stop us. With thousands of more seeds planted, a little bit of faith, and a lot of hard work we know that everyone will be very pleased with our fall offerings. With the nip we have had in the air the past few nights, autumn will be here in no time at all. Until next week...