More spring projects

The fun never seems to stop on the farm. More progress towards the pond with the delivery of the second profi-drum. We will have two profi-drums and two bakki showers in our equipment house for pond filtration. There is a fair amount of room so we will not be crowded and can add a bead filter if desired.The profi-drums will be placed in the equipment house as soon as the roof is done on the equipment house. Then the pond builder can start hooking the equipment up, finishing up additional tasks…moving the koi outside might only be a few weeks away!

The contractor came out today to take some measurements and listen to what we would like for the rest of the equipment house. He’ll be building a low profile hip roof and stabilizing our walls next week. The west wall (facing the pond) and the north wall (facing our road) will carry the all wood look. This will be plywood that we paint or stain a dark color with battens mounted for relief. The photo collage on the right is a sample of the vibe I hope to have on these two walls. I’m not really sure how difficult it will be but I’m sure we’ll get it done.

On the other side, we will have a wall with the framing and polycarbonate panels. It will provide a lot of light into the equipment room and looks like some of the koi greenhouse walls in Japan. The back of the equipment house will have a window or two , the doors and I’m not sure if it will carry the wood look or the polycarbonate look. The roof of the equipment house will be black. We were going to use cedar shingles but decided to use shingles that will be placed on our house when we need to re-do the roof some day. The goal for this equipment house is to make it seem a little on the drab side.

The contractor noted that our hens seem pretty fat and well cared for. It was interesting to watch them today wandering around in separate breed groups. They usually walk all together and behave as a single flock. They spend their entire day wandering around, eating bugs, picking at plants, taking dirt baths and running for treats. One of their favorite treats is blueberry. They squabble over every berry thrown to them so I have started feeding them individually by hand when I offer the berries. In general, they have a good life.

We are getting ten eggs almost every day now. This week I found some cute egg cartons on Amazon – “fresh from happy hens” – to send home with visitors. I’m kind of amazed at all the silly accessories you can purchase. Our chickens are almost like pets. 😂

Every day I’m putting in a few more plants into the main vegetable garden. The evenings can still go down to the low 40s so I place plants under plastic bottles and provide some plastic container collars against the wind. It’s always very windy up by the vegetable garden and these collars seem to help younger plants until they are a bit larger. I have been putting off the task of creating the watering system but plan to tackle it this weekend. My goal is to waste less water this year. Yesterday I put in three different kinds of pepper (jalapeño, serrano, cayenne) and some cocozelle squash. Cocozelle squash is striped and eaten very young.

It’s almost ramp season and my ramp bulbs/seeds that I planted last year have been a failed endeavor. I’m hoping the local farmers’ markets will have ramps for sale in a few weeks. I ordered a book about growing ramps and some seeds that I will plant this fall. Maybe in two years I will have a small ramp patch. Many people are careful to not over harvest patches, sometimes taking only 10%. I have looked all over the property to see if I can find a natural ramp patch (as well as morels) but no luck. I’m going to keep trying to establishing one.

Other random patches are going to be springing up around the farm. One of my lifelong best friends sent me thousands of seeds she has harvested from her garden in New York. I started this week with Mammoth Sunflower patches near the front gate and along the north edge of the property. These sunflowers can grow almost 15 feet high and I’m imagining they will be quite a show if even 25% successfully germinate. Sunflowers seem to be a little touchy about germinating. I have two other varieties she has given me seeds for and will get them in the ground over the weekend (I have a lot of things to do this weekend…)

A classmate commented to me on Facebook about planting milkweed to support monarchs. He noted that milkweeds along the fence line can be attractive and offer a spot for their chrysalises. I told him about a field that I am slowly transforming into a meadow to forest. I’m doing it to cut down on a little bit of mowing and to screen the view of my neighbor. Last fall I sowed a few packs of milkweed with the hope that they will emerge this spring. As you can see, my neighbor probably does a chemical weed along the fence line and he has three dogs always at the fence. I’m sure some milkweed will pop up in the field but now I’m wondering if I should try to have a monarch specific garden.

Since seeds are sown in the fall, I did some research on sourcing live plants. Home Depot sells bareroot milkweeds for a very reasonable cost. I picked a spot on the south side of our septic field and moved some wrought iron fence panels that the previous owner had left. The milkweeds I planted are pink, unlike the orange variety in the hay fields. The twelve roots planted will hopefully grow and attract monarchs. Once again my imagination sees lots of flowers covered with monarchs – but it may not be such a show this first year.

Living on our farm is always an endless stream of projects fueled by our imagination and good ideas from friends. I can’t think of a better way to live.