We've also been recovering from a very busy fall and early winter, getting our goats inspected for health, then bred for spring babies. There's been a struggle to make sure our chickens are warm enough since we didn't get the coop insulated in time for the cold weather. We've changed out the metal feeders, which were giving the roosters frost bite on their combs when ever they touched the comb to the cold metal. Our waterers are heated so we don't have the same problem there, but it took us a while to figure out what the problem was with the feeders. We have two protected heat lamps in the coop, which we won't need once it's insulated properly, and they keep it so you can't even see your breath in there, so the frost bite was a mystery.
The baby chicks that were born under the coop in the late fall have grown so quickly, it seems, and should be laying in the next month or so. We've got them for sale to make room in the barn for a few breeding pens for specific chicken breeds. We'll stick with Americaunas and Cochins, since they are turning out to be the favorites, and the Barnevelders have such pretty dark brown eggs, so we'll breed those, too. We'll sell baby chicks of those breeds in the spring.
Half of our six children were home for Christmas, and we scoped the farm for the best tree, cut it out of a block of trees that were getting too crowded anyway, and brought it home to decorate for the holidays. Our Christmas feast was Roast Pork, this year, naturally!
I've been experimenting with a few cows milk cheeses since the goats have dried off, and have come up with a few cheese prospects for ongoing, if I can find a source of cows milk regularly. Once those (hopefully) 20 baby goats come in the spring, though, I won't have much time for playing with cows milk.
So now, it's February and gardening brain is awakening, sometimes at 3 am, with plans for a flower garden, expanding the veggie patch, wisteria draping over the porch, garden paths, herb tea picked fresh, and barefoot cultivation! Oh, it starts so innocently!
I have seed orders ready for 4 different seed companies, with the bulk of the orders coming from Greta's Organic Gardens (their website is here http://www.seeds-organic.com/ )
I kept germination records from last year and Greta's seeds had a 95% germination rate while all other seed companies I tried were less than 80%. All Greta's seeds germinated earlier, too, than the ones from other companies that did germinate. I'm not saying the other companies seeds were bad. They weren't. I had some great varieties and good results from all the organic seed companies. Just that Greta's were surprisingly good. *
We're thinking of how many pigs to raise this year. Our pork has been well received. Maybe 9 is the number this year. Three in April, three in May and three more in June to have harvest dates of September,October, and November, and still have room in our freezers.
The thought of paring down the number of varieties of vegetables crossed our minds, too. Concentrating on a few varieties and growing a bunch more of those, makes sense. So, I've planned and mapped and color coded my spread sheets, and the time for ordering has arrived. Stay tuned.... I'll post the veggie lists as soon as the orders have gone in.
* I should also mention that I don't get paid by or receive any other remuneration from Greta's or any other seed company to give plugs or recommendations. I just like their seed.