Chicks, seeds, and Cold Frames

 I potted up my little mini soil blocks into the bigger ones. This picture is from a
 few weeks ago- this is cabbage. Napa and the left and Red Express on the right.

 We got some more chicks! 5 Rhode Island Red, 2 Buff Orpington, and 1 Red Production. Last year we had 8 chicks. One ended up being a rooster so we gave it away, then 3 got eaten by predators. Now we are down to 4 hens. Hopefully this year we can keep more of our chickens alive. We have plans to build a legit chicken run on the back portion of our garden. I will share progress on that when it happens (which I hope is soon). The boys kept asking me if we are keeping our hens from last year, and the answer was yes. They are laying lots of eggs now yay!

 I put Cam to work building me cold frames so I could set out my cabbages early.

Here's the finished frame. I'm still waiting for the row covers to come in the mail :)

 After many failed attempts, I made my first successful artisan bread. The tricky part was I only wanted to use a sourdough culture as my leavening. I also wanted to create a bread that was not just white flour. This is 50/50 white and wheat.

The garden now. We had a dusting of snow!

My overwintered kale and spinach are picking up speed growing and we are harvesting some of that.
I planted my peas last Wednesday. I could have planted earlier but somehow I always get a ton of little projects going on and I get behind.

Seeds indoors right now:
Kale, Cabbage (Acclimating these to the outdoors this week)
A few herbs

Garden Progress March 14-21

We are making some progress on the big garden. We had the missionaries over for dinner Friday and they offered to help us put the rest of the posts on Saturday! Cam had already dug all the holes the week prior with an auger so all that was needed was to cement each one in.

This is the view from the road. The first three rows which are outside the fence are blackberries. I need to get some ground cover in between the rows.

Cam already made four of the raised beds with Cruz helping screw each one together. This week I will level them because the area is sloped.

Here is the small garden 2 weeks ago.
And here it is now. That hairy vetch grows fast! It's almost time to till it up.
 Under the white cover is kale. The cover has a dual purpose, it helps protect plants in frost and it prevents bugs.

The kale is getting pretty big since the cloth also has a greenhouse effect. I have a few cabbage worm holes but actually my kale got attacked while I had them under grow lights indoors. Isn't that odd? I think they must have come out of the soil since I didn't use a soil-less seed mix this year.

Against the fence is my peas and below that my spinach.

Another Day, Another Tree

A certain corner of my garden was getting to much shade, old news right? I guess that's what you get when you live in a forest :) or something like it. Seriously though, Cameron loves getting out the chainsaw and all I have to do is say the word and he's out there chopping something it down. Sometimes so fast I don't even get to take a "before" picture.

We have this massive oak tree adjacent to the garden. Cameron thinks he could chop the whole thing down but I'm a bit worried about *ahem* the house. So we agreed to limb it up a bit instead. There was one branch in particular causing all the trouble. The only problem was it was about 35ish feet high. Yeah, no problem for crazy Cameron. He just grabbed his latter, then a rope, and tied it over. He tied knots in it (like in gym class) then climbed the rest of the way up to the branch. Oh and I forgot to mention, without a harness. I about fainted watching him. I'm sure we saved like a couple hundred dollars doing it ourselves but if there was a hospital trip involved it wouldn't have been worth it haha :) I can laugh now {spoiler} he made it out alive.

I took a video too. I was watching to make sure Dax didn't run over to next to the tree so its really shaky. Just watch up to like 40 seconds. You can hear Dax say "wow" :)

What's happening outside around the garden

When I put in the garden, we cut down 6 trees. Once the trees leafed out, I realized we needed to cut a few more. My garden gets exactly 6 hours of sunlight during the day which is ok but not great. I noticed my tomatoes are getting the start of a blight (it's been a cool, wet summer thus far) and I think more sunlight would help them. While my Mom and Jimmy were here we got rid of a few trees on the far west side. It took some effort considering now we had the garden to work around and didn't want trees falling on it.

The other problem was a branch that shaded only the tomatoes in the morning on the east side.  It wasn't necessary for the whole tree to come down since it was just the branch. But unfortunately the branch was 30ft high and our ladder only got up to about 20.

Cameron had told me about this cool thing called a rope saw were you could stand on the ground and cut the tree using what looks like the chain of a chain saw, hooked to a rope.

We practiced a bit first but knew it still got stuck on the branch fairly easy if you pull too hard.
Here's a video:

It worked!

Garden beds have compost!

The compost was finally ready on Saturday! Cam and I worked on the garden from 9am to 9pm. We had a couple breaks here and there but it was mostly work. The kids even pitched in a bunch. It took 3 loads of compost to fill the beds. I mixed in some peat moss too to lighten things up.

We did 4 x 10's made of 1inch cedar plus the mound you see next to the fence is a "raised bed" of sorts just without the wood. I'm putting tomatoes, cucumbers, and tomatillos there to grow up the fence.

 You can kind of see in this picture we finished the chicken wire which covers the bottom 3ft for the small critters.

I bought this organic fabric to use as ground cover for the tomatoes. When I opened it I realized why it was on sale at Lowes. It was paper! Along with the ground cover idea, I got it so that the kids would know not to step there. But since it's paper it needs to be covered with mulch. Thus defeating the purpose I got it. Sigh.

As you can tell from the pics about it was almost night. I was feeling so behind on my planting I put on my flashlight and worked for an hour in the dark to get my seedlings I started inside in the ground. I got some good protein by sucking in some of the bugs(not on purpose of course) that surrounded my headlamp haha :) Today I'll be planting more seeds directly in the garden. I'm so happy to be making progress :)

My garden plan and Cruz's

Remember yesterday how I said the curved wall was good? Can you see why? Yes, It allows for an entrance and a place for the door to swing open. Also, plenty of room to bring a cart full of dirt or anything else inside.  "t"'s are tomatoes that will grow up the back fence. Solid line beds are raised and framed with wood and dotted line ones are just mounded dirt, no wood. The raspberries aren't in the fenced area because I don't think the deer will bother them much. I haven't planned were all my other plants will go because this is subject to change once the fence goes in.
 This is option #2 for the garden perimeter plan. Plantings would be pretty much the same.  Circles represent some kind of paving stones for in front of the door.

While I was drawing my plan, Cruz drew his. I think its so cute! Inside the large box is me in the garden. Then Cruz was nice enough to draw an extra garden (top) and to the left is our house. I told Cruz I loved how big my garden was compared to the house haha! Hopefully someday that will happen...


Our area has a lot of trees. As a result, some tree cutting was in order to make sure my vegetable garden gets enough sun. We actually had to purchase a chain saw to get the job done. We figure it will pay for itself because the wood we cut we will use for heating our house.

I marked X's on all the trees I wanted chopped down. And Cameron dutifully began chopping away.

Small easy ones first then on to the harder ones. I wish I had taken a before picture to explain this better but I'll do my best here.

On one of the bigger trees, Cameron made his notch cut (in the right place to fall away from the house) then his back cut. But the tree (lets call it tree 1 so you can keep track) just wasn't budging and the chainsaw kept getting stuck in the tree so he notched the back cut to get in deeper (big mistake). As a result the tree started to fall towards the house but luckily landed on the two adjacent trees branches and held there. We decided we needed to cut one of the adjacent trees (tree 2) to get the other to fall. At this point it was too late to get it to fall the way it was suppose to. So we tried to figure out the best place for it to land. Tree 2 needed to land between the shed and house and tree 1 on the shaded garden next to the house. We measured with our thumb how high we thought the trees were- 50 ft was the guess. So to keep the trees from missing the house Cam sawed as high as he could reach. I went to the front yard with the kids and watched as Cameron cut the trees (all the while praying they would not hit the house). By a miracle, the trees landed exactly where we planned. Tree 1 was literally less than a foot from the house.  I made a little diagram of where they landed because I didn't take a good picture. 

Feeling macho now (not so much a few minutes prior) haha

 The kids were awesome helpers. We told them they could earn 10 cents a log if they loaded them into the wagon, hauled them to the pile, then unloaded them. Between them, they earned over $10 on the first day and $7 the second. Not too bad for a 6 and 3 year old! And by the second day little D was even trying to help!

After day one of wood cutting. We ended up with about double that.