Author Archives: farmer m

Is it Still Spring?

We had such a busy spring weekend! Lots of visitors are here celebrating Archer’s 6th birthday — we had scavenger hunts and built a straw bale fort, lit a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows!

And then there was the work… Thaddeus came down and helped out today — he got John’s old lawn mower running so we could mow (our newer one is broken and being repaired), and hooked the mower to the tractor and mowed for us as well. Talina and our new house mate (and the baby) set up the brooder for the chicks who arrive on Tuesday. Green and Archer and I fixed and tightened all the raspberry support wires — they’re already 2 feet high!

I managed to finish reclining and repotting the tree nursery, and got the new watering line set up. Still way too many trees in pots and not enough in the ground but it hasn’t rained in a month and the ground is solid… we’ll have to wait to plant them til winter. Not quite finished with the irrigation projects but we’re getting closer! I have to repair the damaged sections of the herb garden tubing, and find a new way to hook up the east side of the raspberries in front of the house, still.

Grateful for warm days and lots of friends and family.

(The Fire was too hot so Uncle Thaddeus made them a heat barrier)

Projects for a New Year

We have been SO BUSY with farm projects the last few weeks.

A brand new high tension fence that runs nearly the length of the property N/S (we paid for someone else to do the labor, thank goodness).

Anew frost free pipe and brand new watering setup for the goats, chickens, and upper nursery area (putting in solstice trees this year!), new barn bedding, and a new climbing area for the goats.

It wasn’t intentional timing, but it feels good to be done with the projects that will make this year easier to survive without my father’s help, right on time for the anniversary of his death.

Next up: the garden!!

Wild and Precious Life

Around here, we are pretty glad to be welcoming in 2019.

We took a break from, well, almost everything last year after losing Megan’s father in March, and then soon after learning we would be adopting a baby in August.

Baby Calyx Lir joined us on August 12, and the rest of the year flew by in the usual way that years do when you aren’t getting any sleep.

We managed to eek out a couple of projects on the farm last year that didn’t involve keeping TWO children alive.

We finally installed a mason bee house! Oh, and also a security camera. One of the last things John did before he died was come up to the farm to stand around with Megan, wondering where we could install the camera to get a decent view and still get enough WiFi to upload to the cloud… figured it out, Dad. ❤️

We adopted barn kittens!! Our neighbors down the road raised them and they are the *cutest*. Archer wants to move them into the house.

We, uh, never got around to staking the tomatoes. Oops.

We finally cut down several large fir trees from the orchard, which really opened up the space and gave us much more of a skyline through the remaining oaks. Next up: a little covered area to hang out in. Maybe we’ll get around to it before the new baby is in school….

So now we’re back, and we’re determined to have a calm, easy 2019.  Stop laughing!  We’ll try, at least.

Roadside Attraction

Our property has a long stretch of road frontage, with a strip of grass that we constantly have to maintain to keep from getting out of control.  When we first moved in, we envisioned planting something along it, but the percentage of gravel to dirt is pretty high (as are the chances that the county road department will come through and cover anything we plant with more gravel), which limited our options.

After Megan’s stepmother Cassy died a few years ago, we started planting daffodils, her favorite flower — first just for ourselves, then as part of a fundraiser we did to contribute to a memorial scholarship in her honor at the local community college.  We’ve raised enough to give 3 students a $2000 scholarship, which is pretty amazing!  This year the bulbs really hit their stride, and we love how they look!

Thank you, Dad

The search for our farm started one sunny day when Megan, Thaddeus and John sat out in the bed of John’s truck and daydreamed about finding property for the three of them to grow on.  Years later, that dream was realized when we purchased Blackbroom Farm.

So many of our original dreams have come true here over our first 6 years on the property… but many of them have had to be postponed or changed as life happened, most dramatically due to the unexpected death of John’s partner due to cancer 4 years ago.  We lost a lot of him that year, too.

On March 14, 2018, John died after a brief hospitalization due to COPD.  His obituary is published here. Every structure on our land has his mark on it, and we cannot look around without remembering how much he contributed to our dream of living here.  We had so many more dreams that won’t ever be, and we miss him so, so much.

Love you, Dad.

Signs of Spring

It’s fruit tree pruning time on the farm!  Megan got to take an amazing class this month on tree pruning (photo above is the ‘professional’ pruning demo)… now it’s time to try to apply it here on the farm.

Here’s our first try, on one of the original apple trees in the small farm orchard.  This tree is probably a ‘golden delicious’ apple, and when we moved in 6 years ago it was extremely overgrown.   We’ve done some significant pruning but it seems there’s always more to do!

While we were out and about cleaning up, we also cleaned out the bird houses to get them ready for their new occupants.  We found these eggs still in their nests!

 

For the last two years, we’ve planted hundreds of spring bulbs along our strip of the county road.  This year I ran out of steam at the end of the bag, and I’m not too proud to admit that I just dumped these by the front door… can’t wait to see this mess of bulbs bloom, though!

Dryland Garlic

We’ve grown garlic on the farm since our first year, when we tossed some cloves in a hugel in March and harvested perfectly lovely heads in July. Since then, we’ve found space in the garden for the garlic.

However, our needs for garlic (to sell) have grown as our needs for space in the garden have also grown… so for the 2018 growing season, the garlic is getting kicked out of the garden! Because the whole farm is a hill, we have limited flat space for the garden… really, limited flat space pretty much anywhere. However, up behind the barn there is a bit of flat space along the road which was not in use as a pasture because the animals never bothered to go up that far.

So we hooked up the tractor to the tiller, and headed up the road to do a little digging. After a few passes with the tiller to break things up, we hauled up two truckloads of goat compost, shoveled them out across the space, and tilled those in as well. Archer was a huge help with the shovel!

After the ground was as prepared as we could make it, we made a few hilled rows and put in 7 different varieties of garic. Because there’s no reliable water available on the hill, we used spacing recommended by a local farmer friend for growing garlic without any irrigation: instead of 4″ spacing, we used 10″ spacing, with more space between rows as well.

The garlic is all put to bed under straw now, where it’ll be left alone til July. Sleep well little garlics!

It’s a Shed! Walls and Roof.

Walls up, we spent the last two weeks putting up rafters. By “we”, we mostly mean Grandpa John, actually – the rest of us went to school and work during the weekdays, and he kept at it and got us to this weekend, and a ROOF!

Our roofing is actually pond liner, held down on all sides by metal plates. In order to keep water away from the sides (and the screws), Thaddeus crafted these foam bumpers, which we’ve taped down along the 2 sloped sides to keep the water running down the slope to the back of the shed.

Pond liner all rolled out! There was a little math error and it ended up 12″ shorter than we really needed.. but It’s A Shed!, so we’ll figure something out. Meanwhile… we’re making progress.

We got so excited about having walls and a roof that we hauled the recycling bins over and put them where they’ll eventually go… we’re so close to an operational building!

It’s a Shed! Framing.

We got a lot of cutting and measuring done the weekend of the eclipse, and got the greenplate and bases cut and nailed on. After a lot of prep work measuring, calculating, cutting… recutting… we were finally ready to get some walls up! Thank god for helpful family!

Under Grandpa John’s guidance, and with lots of helping hands, we managed to go from bare foundation to walls up in just two weeks! So. Much. Nailing – everybody’s upper arms are sore. The kid was a huge help finding dropped nails, bringing appropriate pieces to the hammerers.

Walls up! Onward to the roof!

It’s a Shed! Concrete.

In late 2016, we began work on a new structure on the farm: a building to replace our fading woodshed, including a shelter for our trash and recycling, and (most exciting) a room to house our food storage – freezers, canned goods, etc. We managed to get the block foundation down, but then the rains began and NEVER STOPPED, with record-setting rainfall in October and continuing throughout the winter.

 

This left us entering this year with just the beginnings of a foundation, but nothing more. Finally, things warmed up and dried up and we were ready to begin the next step: concrete!

Last month, Thaddeus finished packing the block and laying the last layer of the retaining wall. This week, we poured the concrete in the wall, and the floor of the storage room (aka “the grocery”). It was hot, hard work, and the concrete was so thick that by the time it came to pour the floor it didn’t..exactly..come out level. And so began our mantra.. “It’s a shed!” What we can do, will do.

This was the first concrete we’ve poured on the farm since the child was born, and it was fun to add his handprint to the semi-permanent memories of this place.

Onward to the next step!