We are well into the summer. There have been heat waves, hail storms, wind storms so strong they knock down trees, and so much smoke from the forest fires that you can’t go outside. Your pretty average Alberta, Canada weather, am I right?
Things are progressing though. The animals are healthy and the garden is coming up. Here’s an update on what’s been going on for us.
We ended up getting two little bacon seeds. Duroc/yorkshire/Berkshire weaner pigs. Looking forward to more fresh pork!
These guys are so easy. Pigs have got to be the simplest farm animals we’ve ever raised. At least, now that we have a good, solid fence system up. Just give them good and water, a big solid pen and some logs to play with, and they’re happy.
We ordered 50 Rhode Island Reds from the hatchery back in mid-June. They’re supposed to be a good dual purpose bird. This works for us because we want both eggs and meat and don’t have the ability to separate boilers from layers in our current set-up.
They’re getting on well, growing quite fast and will be ready to go outside soon. So far we’ve only lost 1. If you’re counting, that’s 49.
Last week I also got a mix of 10 heritage breeds because I decided it would be fun to have colourful eggs. There’s Welsummers, Ameraucanas, Columbians, and Cuckoo Marans. I should have a nice mix of dark brown, olive and blue eggs! It’s like every day is an Easter egg hunt! Keep counting, that’s 59 chickens. Whew.
The litters from our Rex does are doing well. I wouldn’t even call them bunnies anymore, they’re getting huge. We ended up with some great colour variations. Lots of castors, whites, black otter, chinchilla, broken blue, broken brown and amber.
Unfortunately, our wonderful dog managed to get one of the cages open (ugh!) and played with those bunnies a little hard. We went down to feed them one morning and country boy pointed at the limp little bodies and said, “uh oh”. I checked them, realized they were freshly dead, so I quickly butchered them and did up the pelts. At least they didn’t go to waste. I’m hoping to make some really warm mitts for us for the winter.
Harold (the sheep) is happily enjoying all the fresh graze available. He sneaks out every now and then to hang out with the neighbours cows, but always comes back. What a guy!
Our garden is having it’s ups and downs this year. I learned last year what to direct sow, and what to start in seed pots. In our climate? Only start the peppers and tomato plants in pots. Everything else tends to get leggy and root bound before the soil is warm enough to plant. Unless you have a greenhouse. Oh how I would LOVE one!! Maybe one year!
Our corn is doing way better this year. We planted it in a small patch, far away from it’s enemies the tomatoes. This spring, I read a lot about companion planting. I tried to adhere to the companion planting guide when I was seeding. Hopefully it helps.
Our biggest headache is the potatoes. “How can you mess up potatoes?” you ask. Well, somehow we managed. We had 90 plants, now we’re down to 35. Want to learn from our mistakes?
- Water your potatoes in the morning, not at night. The soil needs to be dry in the cool night air or the seed potatoes will rot
- Wait until your plants are between 6-8 inches tall before you mound them
- When you mound them, don’t completely cover them. Make sure there is at least some leaf showing at the top of the plant to allow for photosynthesis
- Mound until your hills are about a foot high (or in our case, until you run out of dirt)
We have had our fair share of storms here. One was so bad that it knocked down a few trees onto our canvas shelter, and completely uprooted one huge poplar! I think we’ll be cleaning up that mess until Christmas. However, we are very thankful that it missed the barn!
During a few other storms we lost power. Once was a stretch of almost 8 hours. The backup generator shorted out on us too. Apparently chick heat lamps draw a lot of power! So we had to borrow a neighbours generator. It was a toss up between heating our chicken coop and keeping our freezer running. We chose the chicks. They were only a few days old at the time and really cannot go for long periods without heat.
We live on a hobby farm – vacations are impossible! Okay well not impossible, but really difficult. Someone would have to either be here all day to check the animals and keep up with the work, or we would have to find neighbours willing to come once in the morning and once in the evening to do the AM and PM checks and chores.
It’s a lot to ask of someone. So for that reason, we are only going on one week of holidays, camping in the mountains. My folks will be generously travelling here, staying at our place and taking care of things. My dad grew up on a farm so he’s in his element.
Unfortunately, because of the commitments of our little homestead, we had to miss out on a few things this summer. My grandparents anniversary/family reunion for one. That was disappointing. But we just couldn’t swing it this year.
The lifestyle we chose is rewarding, wholesome, and sustainable. But it is also hard work, and isn’t without it’s sacrifices. But we love it, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
How is your summer going? Anything exciting planned?