Killing Time in a Deep Freeze

town_935Happy 2017 to you all, and thanks for coming back to our little urban farm.

We don’t do much gift-giving around our home.  A partial reason is because we are frugal, but another reason is because we figure we have everything we need to be happy, so why clutter things up with more “stuff” that we really don’t need?

Having said that, Bev and I did get one gift each, and my new gift was a jig saw.

And this boy is excited!

It’s pretty funny, really, because growing up I couldn’t care less about power tools.  They intimidated me, to tell the truth, but I also had baseball to occupy my time, and everyone knows baseball is more important than cutting pieces of wood, right?

But now I love them!  I love my circular saw, and my power drill, and my reciprocating saw, and now I love my jig saw, and my head is swimming with ideas, what I want to make, how I want to use it to finish projects around the place . . . it’s the perfect toy for this aging boy!

WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE?

Well, for one thing, it’s cold.  No, not cold by North Dakota standards, but for us pampered Northwesterners, it’s still cold.  I have no desire to be outside, but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to do.  I’m working, this week, on organizing the garage, making room for the quail incubation process, which will begin in another month.  I’m building shelves and I’m going to build a workbench so I have a place inside to play with my new jig saw.  A boy and his toys, right?  Anyway, I’m doing the indoor chores now so that when it warms up I can take my act outside where more work is waiting for me.

There’s always something to do, and it beats watching reruns of Alaska Bush People.winter-in-my-little-slice-of-heaven-017

TAKING CARE OF THE CRITTERS

No matter how much I try to avoid it, I do have to go outside.  Every morning at six I’m outside giving fresh, unfrozen water to our critters.  For whatever reason, they balk at drinking solid ice. Silly animals!

We’ve cut our quail flock down to a dozen, and we’ll use them in the spring for breeding.  Along with those dozen we’ll incubate about 100 new quail, and after six weeks or so we’ll introduce them to the existing dozen, and then we start collecting eggs.

CHICKENS AND EGGS

For whatever reason, one of our new hens is suddenly laying eggs.  She’s the only one of our eight that’s laying, and I have no explanation for it other than the fact that chickens are unpredictable regarding laying habits.  If you have chickens I’m sure you’ve found that to be true.

When will the rest of them start laying? Your guess is as good as mine, but probably sometime in March.

I don’t know if I mentioned it, but we lost three chickens a couple weeks ago to raccoons.  It was our fault completely.  I wasn’t quick enough to get out there and lock up their coop.  The weather was cold, and when the weather is cold the raccoons get an early start on their nighttime hunting.  By the time I realized I had forgotten, we had three dead chickens.

Lesson learned. A painful lesson but a lesson learned.

FARMERS MARKETS

Our local markets start up again in March and April, and we’re already getting ready for them.  I’ll be working the next couple months on making some new items to sell along with our quail eggs and the goat cheese made by our son-in-law.

And Bev is waiting for her interview for a job she applied for….director of the Tumwater Farmer’s Market…exciting times if she gets that job….so cross your fingers and wish good thoughts for her.

SPEAKING OF COLD WEATHER

While we’re on that topic, there’s a great article by Mother Earth News about keeping water from freezing outside for your animals. I’m going to try it this week.  Check it out.

THAT’S IT FROM OLYMPIA

Stay warm, be safe, and have a fantastic week!

Bill

Localism and Community

town_935WINTER HAS ARRIVED

I know, what we have for a winter isn’t much, relatively speaking, but for us mild-weather nerds in Olympia, this has been a cold one so far.  Snow last week and so far a cold December.  This is news if only because we haven’t had a serious snowfall since 2012.  Our chickens are almost three-years old and they had never seen snow up until last week so yes, this is an unusual winter for us.

Looking back, when I was a kid, back during the Ice Age, we would have major snowstorms every winter. In fact, as a pre-teen, that’s how I made some spending cash, going around the neighborhood shoveling sidewalks and driveways.  But times are changing, aren’t they?  And things will never be the same!

THE BIGGER PICTURE HERE AT OUR URBAN FARM

The bigger picture can be summed up in one word: community.

Listen, I’m as upset and worried about our world as the next guy.  I don’t go online and flood the social media with my concerns, but I am, most definitely concerned.  I want to change things, make things better, but doing that on a global level is a bit out of my reach.

But I can change my community.  I can work towards the philosophy of localism.  I can make a difference here in Olympia, Washington, and that’s really what this blog, and our urban farm, are all about.

I am fed up with huge retail chains and all-powerful corporations, so I shop locally whenever possible.  I’m fed up with the complete disregard for the environment, and the waste of natural resources, so I’m doing my little part to counteract the damage that has been done.  And by writing this blog, and sharing my thoughts with you, it is my hope that I can inspire some of you to follow my lead.  I’m not selling a thing; I’m not forcing my ideas upon you; I’m simply showing you how we live and hoping some of it resonates with you.

And that, somehow, takes us to worms.

I’m going to give you a brief primer on worm tea and worm castings, and then I’m going to talk about something I think is important for all urban farmers and gardeners to hear.

WORM TEA

If you take worm castings (see below) and mix it with water and a bit of molasses, you get worm tea.  You can find it on sale at select gardening shops.  Great stuff for your garden and indoor plants.

WORM CASTINGS

Worm castings are, to be blunt, worm poop.  It’s what is left over at the bottom of your worm bin after the worms have eaten all the food you gave them.  It is superior fertilizer/compost/whatever you want to call it.

AND NOW, MY MESSAGE

Spread the word!

Talk to your neighbors. Spread the word about urban farming.  Carry on conversations with others about it.  Share ideas.  If you don’t currently garden, start small but most importantly, get started.  Turn off the television, go outside, and plan next spring’s garden.  Read up on new techniques.  Form a community garden.  Form a community seed exchange.

Do something!  We all benefit from this movement.

HOW ABOUT RABBIT POOP TEA?

I was thinking about worm tea the other day and I wondered if maybe making rabbit tea from rabbit poop was possible.

Turns out quite a few people already do it.

Take a gallon of rabbit poop (no problem for us), mix it with four gallons of water, let it sit for a couple of days, and you have an excellent liquid fertilizer, all-natural, flowing with nutrients.  Of course, you can scale down the size of that recipe…just think one part poop to four parts water, and give it a try.

A SHOUT OUT

I like to support other blogs when possible.  Here’s one I recently found, No Harm In Farming.  Give them a look and see what you think.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I’ve got things to do, so I need to leave you for now.

Have a wonderful and blessed holiday season!

Bill

Winterizing Your Urban Farm

winter in my little slice of heaven 017Look at me, posting twice in December.  A trend?  I doubt it, but hope springs eternal.

So, we had our first snow. We don’t get much snow here in Olympia. In fact, we haven’t had any for two years, so this morning’s dusting was kind of unexpected.  Of course, an urban farmer’s first concern with snow is always the welfare of the farm critters.  Ours were fine this morning, but we do have some cold temperatures coming, so I’ll have to make sure the water bowls stay free of ice for the next few days.

RACCOONS

Hey, I can’t get mad at raccoons. They’re animals too, and they’re just doing what they do naturally, which is look for food as the weather turns nasty and winter settles in.  They got a good meal from our three chickens last week, but that will be quite enough of my generosity.  There were three in our yard last night and I greeted them warmly with my BB gun and some colorful phrases.

QUAIL

We butchered eighteen of them last week.  Actually Bev did, but I’ve done it before and I can say, without hesitation, it’s not enjoyable.  Anyway, eighteen butchered, and fourteen scheduled to be purchased this week, so we are getting our numbers down to a manageable level as winter arrives.  We’ll probably sell off twenty more and then when February arrives we’ll hatch some eggs and build the flock back up in time for egg-laying season in April.

WORMS

Several of you have asked me about this worm-raising venture, so let me give you the highlights on how easy it is.  Mind you, right now we are just starting out, but the way worms grow in number, we should have quite a few of them in two months.  After I get comfortable doing this I’ll turn my attention to raising meal worms as well as the red wigglers.  All of them can be sold, and the red worm tea and worm castings are easily sold to gardeners.

So, how to raise red wigglers?

Follow this link to the WSU Extension and they can tell you just how easy it is.

If you’re looking for a great natural fertilizer, look no further than worm tea or worm castings. Great stuff, right up there with rabbit pellets.

COLD WEATHER

Sheez, how about 19 degrees last night?  Here’s the thing about having critters during the winter: they rely on you, the owner, to provide for them.  Water freezes at 19 degrees.  I know, right? Shocker alert!  So that means hopping out of bed in the morning and braving those temperatures to get your animals some water that isn’t frozen solid.  That’s what I did this morning, and it was cold as hell, and the animals loved me for it.

Sure I could buy those heating pads that keep water from freezing over the winter, but I’m of the opinion that those pads are for wimps and hey, Daddy didn’t raise no wimp.  J

Bottom line message to you all: take care of your animals in the cold weather.  Make sure their water is not frozen, and spread some hay in their enclosure so they can burrow down into it and stay warmer.

THAT’S ALL FOR NOW

I’ve got things to do in preparation of today’s snow, so I have to go. Have a great weekend and I’ll catch you down the road of life.

Bill

Dealing with Winter on the Urban Farm

winter in my little slice of heaven 017As November comes into view in the rear mirror, it’s time to turn our attention to December.

Welcome back to our farm!

I was reading a blog post and watching a video from The Elliott Homestead yesterday.  Fascinating!  Not only fascinating but very, very well done.  Seriously well-done.  The Elliotts are a young couple who are doing it right on their homestead/farm in Eastern Washington. Now that doesn’t mean they haven’t made mistakes, and it doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes in the future.  Anyone who has tried homesteading or urban farming will tell you that mistakes are just part of the game we play.  Still, the Elliotts are devoted to the homesteading lifestyle, and they beautifully embody the spirit of the movement.

Check them out!

AND WHILE CHECKING THINGS OUT . . .

Check out The Farmstead here in Olympia. This is a personal plug of sorts, because The Farmstead is run by our son, Matt, and his wife, Rachel, a goat farm of sorts where cheeses and yogurts are made, and pigs roam, and peacocks strut, and it is, once again, a great example of the “natural movement” so prevalent in this part of the country.

BACK TO OUR URBAN FARM

Rain!

That sums up our greatest obstacle/adversary this year.

Rain!

We had the rainiest October on record.  November was no dry walk in the park either. Thanksgiving Day was absolutely miserable, and the animals kept looking at me like I had control over it all, which I assure you, I did not.

Did I mention it was miserable weather?  LOL

But we move on, and moving on means preparing for the spring.

ONE WORD OF CLARIFICATION ABOUT OLYMPIA AND RAIN

Contrary to public opinion, Olympia really does not get as much rain as most people think.  Many cities on the East Coast get more annual rainfall than Olympia.  We perpetuate the myth about rainfall to keep people from California and Arizona from moving here permanently.

What gardeners and urban farmers need to be aware of, however, is the fact that, on average, Olympia only gets 85 days of sunshine each year.  Yes, I said 85 days.  The other 280 days are cloudy, so one has to be aware of that when choosing which vegetables, berries, and fruit trees to plant.

Just keep it in mind.  It’s not so much that we are waterlogged; a more accurate statement is that we’re sun-deprived here in Olympia.  Well, maybe this Fall we are waterlogged, but not usually.town_429

WORMS

I’m all ready to dive into worm-raising.  All I have to do is buy my first pound of red wigglers and my first thousand mealworms and then sit back and let them do their thing, and their thing should include great worm tea and even greater worm castings, both of which mean wonderful fertilizer for the garden next year and hopefully some supplemental income at Farmer’s Markets.  It also means a continual supply of treats for the chickens, and I can assure you they will be very happy about that treat.

Crossing my fingers!

Have you given any thought to raising worms?

It’s pretty darned simple.

You can raise about 100 of them in a 15-gallon plastic tote. There are only a few basic things to remember when preparing the worm home:  plenty of holes for air-circulation, moist bedding, and a constant supply of food scraps and other organic matter for them to eat.  Put some sort of mesh over the holes you drill so they won’t escape, and keep them in a cool, dark place.  That’s really all there is to is.  I’ll be raising ours in the garage for the constant temperature environment, and hopefully, in another month or two at the most, I’ll have a success story to share with you.

About fifteen minutes of care per week is all it takes!

If you are interested, take a look at this video.

QUAIL UPDATE

We’ve been selling off our flock for the winter.  We are down to about fifty now with another thirty to sell.  Then we’ll buy new fertilized eggs in February, incubate them, and have layers by April when the quail start laying eggs again, just in time for the Farmer’s Market.

And it all begins again!

In the meantime, the operative phrase here is “stay dry.”

CHICKENS

Tough night last night.  Bev and I both forgot to lock one of the chicken coops, and we were awakened by my son at 1:30, him telling us that three raccoons were currently wreaking havoc in the backyard. Sure enough, we lost three chickens from the one coop.  We did manage to find the other two from that coop, hiding off in the far corner of the yard.

Lesson learned the hard way.  ‘Tis the season for hungry predators. The nights are colder, and they are looking for a food source, and because of a lapse in memory, three of our flock are now dead.town_142

A day earlier we saw a coyote on our block, broad daylight, middle of the afternoon, he was just trotting down the sidewalk seemingly without a care in the world.

Anyway, a word to the wise: Be extra vigilant.

SICK RABBIT

One of the newest babies (from a litter of five) is sick and lethargic.  She is currently sitting on my lap as I type this.  Another word to the wise, anyone thinking of raising animals:  your heart will be broken on occasion.

RATS

Now there’s a hated word if there ever was one.

I don’t know a farmer who doesn’t have trouble with rats.  If you feed your farm animals outside then rats will appear.  It is inevitable, and it is annoying at best.  Feeding animals is expensive enough without feeding an army of rats too.

I tried being reasonable with them.  I tried capturing them in a humane way, but that didn’t work.  Now I’ve simply declared war on them.  I don’t like poisons but there really are very few options left, so the poison went out last week, cleverly disguised in some “out-of-date” meat we had.  It took a few days but the rat population is now under control . . . for now.

THANKS

I’ll talk to you again before Christmas.  Thanks for taking the time to visit us.

Bill

 

Urban Farming in November

town_142HAPPY, WET NOVEMBER

Okay, enough is enough!

I’m speaking to the weather gods.

We had the wettest October in recorded history and, quite frankly, it wasn’t even close. We shattered the record for rain, and we’re talking about Olympia, Washington, a place that is quite familiar with rain.  In fact, it was the tenth wettest month of all-time here and my goodness, take it from me, I’ve seen some wet months in these parts.

And then, just for a tease effect, we broke the record for the warmest October 29th on record, with a beautiful 67 degrees seemingly coming out of nowhere.

So I, for one, am happy that November is here.  Not that we aren’t fully capable of having another rainy month from hell in November, because we are, but because November puts us one month closer to spring.

Hope “springs” eternal!

UPDATE ON OUR URBAN FARM

Well, nothing has floated away yet, so that’s good news.

I got the garlic planted just in time, and it has already sprouted and is poking up above the hay mulch, so that’s good.  We are going to have a whole lot of garlic this spring.

All of the critters are still alive, so that’s also good.  The chickens are not real fond of all this rain but hey, they can just stand in line to complain. Their coop is dry and well-ventilated, so that’s about all they can hope for until April.  Our new baby chicks are no longer babies, and this weekend I’ll finish with their coop. Then they and their substitute brooder momma can move into their new home for the winter.

BUTCHER DAY

I may have mentioned (or I may not have) that our son and his wife had an open house on their goat farm last week. They sold eggs, goat meat, and goat cheese, and it was quite successful. We also took part in the open house, using it as an opportunity to butcher some of our excess among the quail flock.  Bev went out one Saturday and butchered twenty quail, and they all sold during the open house, so financially that was a very nice windfall.  And it was necessary. We had too many quail for the winter and cutting down the flock will make it better for the quail that we kept.town_642

We also have an order for twenty quail for a Harvest Festival Dinner being held in November by our local Farm & Garden Center, so we’ll be delivering those quail in the next couple weeks, and now it’s a week later and the order was cancelled. Such is life.

WHAT TO DO?

There are just a few odds and ends remaining to be done and then we’ll be ready for the winter.  I need to plant some mushroom plugs this weekend, and I need to mend a fence.  The hoses need to be put away and the faucets wrapped.  We will continue making compost and Bev ordered five cubic yards of leaves from the City, and when those are delivered we’ll spread them as mulch.

And that’s really all that’s left to do before the really nasty weather arrives.

CHICKS

I guess we’re going to be raising chicks for the Urban Farm & Garden Center. Bev came home and said her boss is looking for someone to raise the chicks until they are old enough to sell, and they don’t have a suitable place to do that at the Center…so that means we’ll get paid for doing what we love to do, and that’s a win-win in my book.  We do it all summer with quail so what the heck, right?  Might as well turn those heat lamps on in the winter and make some extra cash.

OUR NEXT PROJECT

File this under “when we get around to it.”  We plan on starting to grow indoor plants as well as herbs in our not-yet-finished greenhouse.  We are thinking of selling herbs and indoor plants next spring and summer at the Farmers’ Markets we attend, so we’ll be working on those this winter.  It’s something new for us, so we are gathering information right now and then we’ll get started on it.

And I’ll be ordering some red worms soon and raise them in the garage this winter.

So that’s it from our little urban farm in Olympia, Washington. Thanks for visiting!

And oh, by the way, it’s still raining!

Bill

October on the Farm

town_683IS IT REALLY OCTOBER?

I swear to the gods, there has to be a cosmic joke going on.  It can’t possibly be October already.  I need to make a deal with the devil and slow up the passage of time.

Kidding about the devil, of course!

It’s been awhile since I wrote on this blog.  My fault and nobody else’s.  I’m so busy trying to finish a novel, and keep my writing blog going strong, that I simply let this blog sink slowly under the weight of disinterest.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

SO, WHAT DOES OCTOBER MEAN ON AN URBAN FARM?

There is no end to the work on an urban farm, or for that matter, for any gardener.

I just finished planting the garlic and spreading mulch over it, and just in time I might add, because I had no sooner planted it and we had our first frost of the year.  For once I timed something correctly.town_642

I still have to clean the garden tools and put them away for the winter. The quail enclosures seem to be critter-proof, so no work necessary there, but I do need to put up some plastic on the south side of one of them to block off the majority of wind and rain coming soon.  The remnants of some tropical typhoon are approaching, so I think my work tomorrow is already decided.

The quail are all fine.  We are thinning out our flock for the winter.  They don’t lay eggs over the winter, so there is no economic sense in feeding so many birds for the next five months.  We’ll butcher off about twenty of them and sell them to people who like game birds for meat, and sell some others to people who like to ground them up for dog or cat food.  Not a particularly lovely thing to write about, but it is the reality of raising so many birds.  Then next spring we’ll buy about six dozen fertilized eggs and we’ll incubate them….and in seventeen days we’ll have a new flock for the spring and summer.

CHICKENS

Bev has fantasized about having a brooding chicken which will raise chicks and by golly she found one.  A friend had a brooder, so we got four new chicks and put them in with the hen and she has turned out to be the perfect mother.  For the past two weeks she has taken care of those chicks like they were her own, and Bev is beaming like a new mother.

The chickens will be fine this winter.  They are hardy birds, and as long as they have a waterproof coop that has a little ventilation, they perfectly adapt to winter weather. They have already molted and have their new feathers, so bring on the rain, wind, and snow.  Our ladies are ready for it.town_142

By the way, we choose not to provide artificial light for our chickens, so they don’t lay eggs over the winter and have, in fact, stopped laying eggs for the year. That’s a choice any chicken farmer has to make…provide artificial sunlight and have them lay the entire year, which also shortens their laying-lives, or give them the winter off and prolong their lives.  We choose the latter.

ODDS AND ENDS

I still have to spread more mulch around the berries and grapes, and I have to plant a cover crop over the garden to add nutrients to the soil before spring, so that will happen this weekend.  The leaves are falling at a pretty good clip now, so I’ll probably just gather up leaves from around the neighborhood and use those for the mulch.

And that’s about it.  Bev works part-time at the local nursery/urban farm supply center, so she comes home with new ideas constantly, and we get a 20% discount on everything there, so that’s a win-win in anyone’s book.

AND THAT’S IT

So, how are things on your farm/garden?  Any tips you’d like to share? Thoughts?

Enjoy October, my friend.  The changing leaves, the brisk mornings, it all means slumber for the earth, the precursor to new birth in the spring.

And the wheel goes round and round…..

Bill

Farming the End of Summer

HAPPY AUGUST TO YOU ALL

Well, it’s been quite an August so far. Today is the 26th and ten of those first twenty-six days were spent in a hospital by Bev’s side.  So my interaction with our urban farm took a serious back seat, and I feel a bit foolish writing about our August activities in farming.

But this is a blog, and the purpose of a blog is to inform/entertain/communicate, so I’ll move forward and tell you what I do know.

THE QUAIL ARE STILL ALIVE

Despite being somewhat ignored for ten days, the quail are alive and still laying eggs daily.  Obviously we were unable to partake in any farmers’ markets, but we still sold some eggs along the way and kept the birds healthy, so we have that going for us.  We do plan on doing two markets this week, so we will be up and running at full strength very soon.

The quail will stop laying eggs sometime in September and then it will be about five months of feeding them and keeping them alive with no financial return….but such is life.  We don’t believe in providing artificial light so they will lay year-round, so we’re left with this half-year approach to bird-farming.town_142

THE GARDEN

What we planted did quite well this year.  Potatoes, beans, peas, kale, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, they all are doing very, very well, especially the things planted in the hay bales.  I have become a big believer in hay bale gardening and plan on expanding that next year.

Our weather has been about average for Olympia, meaning very mild with morning cloud cover and warming up in the afternoons.  We certainly have not had a hot summer but the lack of heat has not hurt the output at all.

Grapes and berries went crazy this year, far outgrowing my ability to keep up with them by constructing arbors and supports.  Sigh!  My winter to-do list is already quite long.

GREENHOUSES

I mentioned in an earlier installment that we are converting the old quail aviaries into greenhouses.  We know what has to be done. Now it’s just a matter of doing it.  Another winter project.  Double sigh!

Soon to be a greenhouse
Soon to be a greenhouse

THINGS TO DO IN AUGUST

Here’s a short list of things you probably should do in your garden this month:

  • Add compost to squash and cucumbers
  • Remove tomato flowers that have not set fruit
  • Sow fall veggies
  • Sow overwintering crops
  • Water, water and water again, but do it consistently.

 

HOW TO CURE ONIONS FOR LONGER STORAGE

Harvest those onions and then do the following:

  • When the tops of the onions fall over they are ready to harvest
  • Dust off the soil
  • Arrange onions on flattened cardboard in a dry place away from direct sunlight
  • Give them plenty of air space on the cardboard
  • Let them dry for a few week until the greens have withered
  • Pull off the tops of the onions. Keep in a cool, dark place for storage.

GETTING READY FOR NEXT SPRING

Now is the time, if you haven’t done so earlier, to start your own composting pile.  If you need instructions on how to do that, let me know and I’ll forward them to you.  Composting is so simple; it really is amazing more gardeners don’t do it.

GOT TO RUN

So much to do!  Happy Gardening this month to you all!

Bill

Dealing with Local Governments and Anal Thinking

So, as many of you know, lately we have dabbled in the world of farmers’ markets, selling our quail eggs shoulder-to-shoulder with our son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Rachel, as they sell their goat cheese.

I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy the farmers’ market experience, getting to know other local farmers, listening to their stories, and feeling a sense of community I think is so important for our future as a species.

Part of the whole “market” experience is finding the right markets to sell at. Where are the biggest crowds? Where is the greatest demand?….that sort of thing….so Seattle has been tried, and Steilacoom, and West Olympia, and Tumwater, and soon another in Seattle and one in Puyallup, and there are a couple in Tacoma worth considering, and….well, you get the picture.

And that’s what I want to gripe about for a moment here today.town_912

PAYING THE PIPER

Each market costs vendors money.  The way it normally works, a farmer will pay a flat fee for the use of a booth for one day, and also pay a percentage of the sales for the day.  West Olympia charges $15 per day or $120 for the season, a very reasonable fee. They also take a nominal percentage…something like 5%…..Steilacoom charges $30 per day and a percentage of sales….the Olympia Farmers’ Market downtown is so expensive we can’t even consider it,  and Seattle….well, let’s talk about Seattle for a moment.

Now I’m going to be slightly off with the figures, but trust me, they are close to the actual figures. The U-District Market in Seattle charges $150 per day plus a percentage, but they also charge something like $250 for a seller’s permit, so before you even unload your car and sell your first quail egg, you are $400 in the hole.

That’s a lot of quail eggs and goat cheese, friends!  That kind of “gutting” may not hurt the guy who sells smoked salmon and has over $3,000 in sales daily, but the smaller farmers have a real hard time justifying the cost and many simply cannot do it.

And I think that’s a shame and inexcusable!

THE POINT IS

A nominal fee is one thing, and defensible, but why charge local farmers exorbitant fees? It makes no sense to me!  Why discourage small local farmers from taking place in local events that are held to promote localism?town_914

Anal!

I’m done with my rant!

SHARING INFORMATION

We spend a lot of time at the local Urban Farm & Garden Center. In fact, Bev works there part-time, and it really is a great place to hang.  So when we decided to try our hands at greenhouse gardening/farming, we turned to our friends at the center, and one of them, Tristan, their soil expert, came over to our house last week, walked around our urban farm, and gave us tips on how to proceed.

No fee was charged by Tristan, by the way.  Tristan understands that his sharing information with us will eventually help the community as we learn to produce quality vegetables and herbs….community….help…..no charge…..

Not anal!

Have a great week!

Bill

Busy With Farmers’ Markets

I haven’t been posting lately because, well, I’ve been busy.

Here’s what’s been happening…..

THE QUAIL

The City has closed the case on our quail adventure and we will not be fined.  Jolly good of them.  I still don’t know which neighbor turned us in, but I am looking forward to finding them and talking to them about the concept of community.

The quail are all moved over to our son’s farm and they are happy. The new aviary over there is almost completed.

And we are now immersed in the farmers’ market phenomenon.  Every Saturday, Bev and I sell quail eggs and goat cheese at the West Olympia Farmers’ Market….our eggs are also being sold on Tuesday at West Oly, on Wednesdays at Steilacoom Farmers’ Market, and on Saturdays at the U-District Farmers’ Market in Seattle.  I hope our quail can keep up with the demand.

In other words, all’s well that ends well!

Yesterday we did our first Steilacoom Market.  Busy place, about 2000 people…sold some stuff, met som people, enjoyed the sun and scenic setting….good times!

THE CHICKENS

Our chickens are about done with laying eggs. They are all three years old and it is sporadic at best this summer. The folks at the Urban Garden Center tell us that’s to be expected….three years of good laying is great. Anything beyond that is a bonus.  They are about to transition from “working pets” to just pets.  Will we eat them now that they are done laying?  We named them, for God’s sake. That should answer the question.town_142

GREENHOUSE

It’s a work in progress.  We still have to buy the plastic to enclose it, but the workbenches are all built, so we’re getting closer to completion.  We need to plant the fall harvesting plants soon, so stay tuned…..

MY BOOKS

We may be selling my novels at the farmers’ market soon….that would be cool.  I’m busy increasing my supply of them and preparing point-of-sale merchandise for marketing.

THE TO-DO LIST

Oh God, I have to make an arbor for the grapes, which have gone crazy this growing season, and we have to harvest the berries, and the greenhouse of course, and I don’t have any firewood for the winter, and ……I’m tired just thinking of it all….

But it’s a good tired.

BACK TO THE FARMERS’ MARKET

town_918Here’s the thing:  I really enjoy them. I enjoy meeting like-minded people who are interested in healthy foods grown organically.  I enjoy meeting people who would rather spend a little extra money for locally-grown food and locally-produced products.  I enjoy meeting people who are actually concerned for the environment and our community and want to make a positive change.town_912

And it’s kind of cool, working a booth, selling items made by our family….the eggs, the goat cheese….a real family effort, capped off with one of Bev’s sons providing live music during the market….

This is what community should look like.  Community isn’t giant box stores and impersonal clerks….community is neighbors spending time with neighbors, and bartering, and sharing ideas, all of which fosters a sense of belonging……

town_914Yep, I really enjoy it!

SEE YOU DOWN THE ROAD

Have a great week….have a great month….have a great life!

Bill

A Comedy of Errors

town_642Thanks for visiting again.

It’s been quite a week around here.  We are practicing the old adage “if something can go wrong it probably will,” as we transition from a quail urban farm to a greenhouse/gardening urban farm.

To clarify and summarize, we have not gotten rid of our quail.  We are still in the quail business; we just can’t keep the quail on our urban farm, so we had to move  all 140 of them to a new enclosure on our son’s goat farm outside the city limits.

AND THAT’S WHERE THINGS WENT SIDEWAYS

Bev and I spent two days digging fence post holes, getting the frame squared up, and actually framing the new enclosure on the goat farm….but….

We were notified by the County that structures must be at least fifty feet from the property line.  The new one we were building was only twenty feet from the line….soooooo….

We took it all down and started over!

Just shoot me now!

Our son felt so bad about not knowing the regulations that he offered to dig the new holes and build the new frame.  That hasn’t happened yet but it will soon. In the meantime, we have moved all the quail to a large chicken coop/enclosure they already had on their property….and that’s where they are now while we wait for Matt to build that new frame.

Amazingly we have not lost one quail through all of these moves.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT OUR FARM

Soon to be a greenhouse
Soon to be a greenhouse

I’ve cleaned out the two aviaries where we once had quail and I’ve begun building shelving for the greenhouse.  I should have all that done by the end of this weekend and then we can put up plastic and the aviaries will officially become greenhouses.

What a mess!

But our spirits are high and we managed not to piss and moan too much through it all.

Bev will be working on the quail business while I work primarily on the greenhouse business.  Of course we’ll overlap at times and help each other, but that’s the basic division of labor as of right now.

Oh, and our specialty quail were born….five of the seven hatched….these are rare birds and sell for $100 each, so cross your fingers that they survive the next couple weeks.

I’M TIRED

And since I’m tired, and I’ve got a very long to-do list, I’ll stop this blog now and let all of you get back to whatever it is you do. Thanks for listening to me vent.  If you’ve got experience with greenhouses and feel like sharing your expertise on this blog, please do so in the comment section, or email me at holland1145@yahoo.com and you can guest blog here.

Bill