The Weekly Digs #215

by Becky

In the Garden

Another week of over 100 degree days made it so that we worked in short spurts in the garden. Those small intervals of time do add up though and we have made a fair amount of progress out there.

On day 5 after planting carrots, I took off the silage tarps, fully intending to flame weed (I use THIS single wand for a flame) prior to carrots germinating but there weren’t many weeds in sight. So I covered the area back up and by day 7 a good portion of carrots had germinated and the tarp came off again, this time for good.

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Hard to see, but these are the carrot seedlings!!

When I initially planted I had to adjust the depth of my Jang seeder and I think I must have had it a little too deep because the areas I remember it being shallowly planted sprouted and the deeper planted seeds did not. 

Hopefully, we have enough sprout to get us through winter. I think I will plant another batch in my tunnel just in case.

I was really happy overall with the results from covering with white side up silage tarp. I will definitely do that again.

I also finally got a summer cover crop over the area where we had our potatoes growing. It took forever to get the weeds cleared out because I kept getting distracted by other more pressing garden projects.

Cover crops spouting. I used some older cow pea seed I had, plus buckwheat and sudangrass.

All the seeds sprouted within maybe three days or so? It was fast! 

I also pruned my tomatoes this week and the kids cleared out weeds.

Right now we are harvesting lemon squash, peppers, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and green beans.

Preserving

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I made a run to our local farm stand for peaches and grapes. The grapes were only being sold in small containers so we got some Sunbelt and Fredonia grapes for snacking and I also picked up a half bushel of peaches and a half bushel of pears. 

We immediately cut up almost all the peaches and put them in the freeze dryer.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the pears yet. I know from past experience, they are so delicious dehydrated.  I’ll probably do a little of everything, freeze drying, dehydrating, and canning in syrup.

We blanched and froze some green beans too. 

I have more tomatoes outside to harvest. I need to make ketchup and BBQ sauce but I’m so burnt out of preserving tomatoes right now. Hopefully I’ll get renewed motivation by next week.

Meat Birds

Our heritage Delaware Broiler chickens were mostly eaten by hungry raccoons this year, so instead of hatching chicks from them for meat, we needed to purchase some. 

Old picture, but these are the Delaware broilers. They are a beautiful bird!

I bought 80 from Freedom Ranger Hatchery. We got some last year, and I was happy with the chickens, so we purchased from them again. 

Our ship date was this past Tuesday. I was very worried about them shipping in this heat, but as far as I know, there isn’t much that can be done. The chicks have to ship immediately after hatching.

The post office called me Thursday at 4pm to come and pick them up. I brought Noelle with me to carry them since they came in two boxes. 

The post office was closed, but I was able to ring the back door and the employee went to go get them. I immediately noticed the telltale smell of dead chicks before the boxes were even in my hands.

He said, “I think you have some dead ones in there.” And I said, “Yes, there are supposed to be 80.” He was like, “Eighty! Yikes, there aren’t many left.” I couldn’t see them well since they were still packaged but there were holes in the cardboard for ventilation and it was enough to know there wasn’t much moving inside.

We rode home in 100 degree heat with the windows down since the stench was so terrible. Then I pulled out the boxes, undid the tape and we took out the birds that were still living. 

We got some apple cider vinegar and put it in the water, then dipped in their beaks and let them get a drink! There were 27 survivors. 53 didn’t make it. Even though they are meat birds, it made me feel pretty sad they died like that. 

When we started hatching our own chicks that was one of the main reasons we did it, there is so much loss when chicks get shipped. 

By the next morning we lost 2 more and I called them to report our losses. Since next week is going to be about 20 degrees cooler, I had them put me on the list to ship another 55 next Tuesday. I really hope it goes better next time.

The hatchery has fantastic customer service. I’m always impressed by their employees who sincerely seem sad that not all my chicks made it alive. They replace losses no questions asked. 

In picture above, you can see the benefit of the summer chicks, no brooder needed, and no heat lamp or plate necessary since it’s already hot. They go straight into the broiler pen on grass! They had a great time today eating crickets and other bugs!

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5 comments

Amy August 27, 2023 - 8:08 pm

I am glad the white side silage tarp worked! I will probably try that next year 🙂 That is so sad about the chickies. uggh. We have 100 Delwares and 100 Jersey Giants, the high tunnel chicks, coming in about 10 days. Hopefully, they all come through okay.

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Bobbie August 27, 2023 - 10:08 pm

Hope your next delivery is successful!!! Would you share what book/site you use for your BBQ Sauce recipe? The ketchup (updated recipe from you 9/22) is awesome!!!

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Bobbie August 29, 2023 - 12:17 am

Becky, I went thru all the videos until I found that BBQ sauce recipe resource. Thanks! Ordered “The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning” for the soup recipe. Already made the cowpea and sausage soup…sooo good! Thanks so much for all the resources and info!

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GardenLover September 3, 2023 - 7:35 pm

So sad about the chicks, that must be why some hatcheries only ship in spring. I find that odd that they say they have to ship right away, I know for some people ordering, the planes don’t have room and they get brought back to the hatcheries waiting for flights. Hopefully one day the whole thing cna be improved to avoid so many birds dying! 🙁 When they’re shipping in summer they should find a way to keep them cool through the whole process ❤️

Sorry for your little birdies💛

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theseasonalhomestead September 10, 2023 - 1:45 am

I agree! And thank you!

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