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Blackbroom Farm: The First Six Months

I can’t believe it’s August already.  I can’t believe we’ve been living out in the country for over six months!  These days when people ask if we miss living where things are within walking distance, I point out that we have fresh eggs and greens 50ft from our front door, so we feel pretty luxurious!

Still, this is a good point to pause and look back over the last 6 months and make note of the things we’ve learned.

THINGS WE WOULD PROBABLY DO DIFFERENTLY:

We’ve learned so much about gardening on a significantly larger scale than our previous tiny apartment patio gardens!

General Farm Management:

  • Mow sooner and more often.  Without even a lawnmower of our own (still!), this one was tough.  But, in retrospect it would have been worth paying someone else to come and mow more of the weeds down sooner.
  • Prune RUTHLESSLY.  We ended up having to prune the orchard trees three times because we weren’t strong enough the first few times to really make the dent we needed to.  And despite the mountain of prunings we ended up with?  The trees are loaded with fruit.
  • Chickens are SUPER easy to take care of.  More chickens sooner would not have been a bad thing.
  • Whatever size of freezer you think you need to handle your summer crops?  Double that.

Crops:

  • Stagger crops more when planting.  We don’t need 20ft of kale to come ready all at the same time, and REALLY don’t need two 20ft beds of kale plus 10ft of beet greens plus 10ft of chard to come ready all at once.  Too much!  Spacing the green beans by 20 days was a much better approach.
  • We don’t eat that much lettuce.  However much it is, we eat less of it.
  • We really don’t actually eat spinach much, either.  We could probably just do without spinach at all.
  • Broccoli needs WAY more space than you think it does.
  • Squash oh my god squash would take over the world if it weren’t for Winter freezes.

Garden Layout:

  • When planning where to put crops in the garden, don’t forget to consider how tall they will get and where your sprinkler will be.  We ended up with a sprinkler that barely hit the quinoa at knee-level… thereby keeping the water from reaching the far corners of the garden and requring hand watering.

 

THINGS WE DID RIGHT:

  • Listening to Dad and buying a cord of firewood as soon as we moved in.  Two weeks later there was a week long snow storm, and Megan was trapped alone at home in nearly a foot of snow.  There weren’t any power outages that week, miraculously, but having the firewood provided a great feeling of security.
  • Every animal species we have on the farm showed up before we were really ready for them.  On the surface, that’s not all that bright, but in practice it wasn’t all that bad, and, in retrospect, if we’d waited until we were “ready”, we wouldn’t have most of the menagerie here with us.  The goats survived their days on tether, the chickens managed to stay warm and keep laying through their first few days in the tiny coop, and the turkeys have probably forgotten all those nights we kept them waiting to go to bed until it was dark outside.
  • Feeding mealworms to the chickens.  Oh my goodness, best idea ever.  Before we offered mealworms, the ladies were skittish and difficult to handle because they panicked when they saw us. Once they learned to associate us with delicious, delicious mealworms, they become our new best friends.  They still don’t like being picked up, but they’ll tolerate it if there’s a mealworm on the other end.
  • Focusing on what we can control. When we moved in back in January, we had no farm equipment, and it was too wet and cold to fix fences or plant a garden.  What we did have were weed wrenches and acres and acres of Scotch Broom.  Staying busy making a dent in the Scotch Broom infestation allowed us to feel, and be, productive, without plunging deep into debt to buy tools.  And, all the neighbors got their first look at us, hard at work clearing an eyesore to the neighborhood.
  • And speaking of neighbors… introducing ourselves to the neighbors, proactively, has gone really well for us.  We have met some really great neighbors, feel much more secure in the neighborhood, and all for the price of some home made cake and a ‘hello’ card.  We still haven’t met everyone, but the people we do interact with have been lovely, welcoming, and helpful, exactly who we’d want as country neighbors.

Moments – 5 Months in Residence

A few photos from various moments-in-time over the last few weeks…

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Lindsey and I spotted a little tree frog sitting in the bark dust near the wood shed.

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Thimbleberries!!! Very exiciting to see these on our property – we thought we may have to import some from elsewhere. Thimbleberries are my favorite berry, but they don’t produce much per plant… I’ve always dreamed of a breeding program.

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A lovely rainbow to the east.

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The largest potato bug I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The white thing on the left is my fingertip!

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One of our hens is laying malformed eggs — the shell is so thin it crumbles when you pick it up!

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Almost the entire flock, excited about new water after a long hot day.