Yearly Post?

Due to having taken a new full time job last winter, and having to balance that with the farm pursuits, I have not had much time for updating this blog. Even the ‘in season’ page has been a little bit ‘behind’, so to speak. Sorry to anyone who might be reading this. Keep in mind – you can always get more timely updates on the Facebook page as it’s way easier for me to put short blurbs there.

The four corns we got from GRIN were able to produce a reasonable seed crop this year. For now we have limited seed from these varieties available for distribution. This is low cost or free for educational purposes or organizations with good intentions for the seed. For individuals, we would ask for an equal or greater number of good seeds in return later, or else a cash donation based on the number of seeds distributed to help cover our costs in growing, harvesting, and preparing the seed.

We received a hard freeze a few days ago that ended the growing season, so the only things available now are items out of storage. The chickens are getting older, and are molting besides, so there are not many eggs available right now. We will probably have to butcher some of the birds for stewing and replace them if we want to keep selling eggs… or we could just let them grow old, and not sell eggs anymore. Even egg sales – which are among our only items that regularly sell – are so variable they are impossible to predict. Sometimes we sell almost no eggs and end up with an entire fridge full, while sometimes we can hardly keep them in stock, so making a decision based on the sales is hard.

Our attempt to have a CSA for the 2015 season failed. Despite our willingness to proceed with only 3-5 signups, and having at least this many showing interest when it was initially discussed, the actual offering generated almost no interest. Only one physical signup form was requested, and this was never returned to us.

The 2015 growing season was also a disaster, and despite not thinking it possible, it was in fact even worse than the catastrophe of last year. The year was basically a repeat of the last one, only shifted forward to all be one month later. There was horrendous cold in February that killed several of our fruit trees outright (as opposed to being in January). There was flooding through the entire month of June that was hideously destructive (as opposed to last year’s May flooding). This was also followed by a drought. Many things we planted did not produce much to speak of; though things were off to a great start, weather did them in or stunted them so badly they could not recover.

As a result of all these things, 2015 was another year of great losses for us. We were definitely not able to recover even the seed/planting investment, much less anything for our time, fuel cost, etc. This is a dangerous thing considering our house is basically falling apart around us; we are in dire need of a new roof and other repairs we cannot afford.

Due to these facts, we have come to the difficult decision that it is no longer practical or wise to continue attempting to increase our plantings/numbers of items offered for sale. We have been consistently unable to move anything on a reliable basis, and 2015 was the worst year yet for sales, adding insult to the weather-related injury. For example, out of the first 7 days we had the sales shack open for the year, 4 of them were no-sale days (zero dollars and zero sales, for anywhere from 6-8 hours per day of work/watching/waiting). When combining the other 3 that did have sales, we sold only 73 dollars worth. Over the years I have tried Craigslist, Facebook, paper flyers, larger signs, but none of these have seemed to change anything. I did not even really have any orders via email/message this year, which has been a good part of my sales from previous years. Unfortunately, Furniture City Foods also no longer exists and no longer is a market for me. Biodome Project in town has bought some items, but they are limited as to what they can use/move and also they produce some of their own and don’t need mine.

Because of these poor outcomes, it has been decided that we are going to greatly scale back next year. We will be returning to primarily planting for ourselves and our own interests. We may have occasional items offered for sale, but nothing is going to be planted in as large of quantities. The bottom line is, because of the disappointing sales and outcomes, it’s become more of a chore/upsetting task/heartbreak to keep up with the enormous amount of farm work. Since I mostly do all of it myself, other than the plowing/planting, it’s just getting to be too much for me to handle on my own. I have tried to solicit help by bartering free vegetables or practical training in exchange, but even if people talk a big talk beforehand, it is extremely rare that anyone turns around and lifts a spade when it comes down to it. As it is I barely have any free time in the summer; I only went fishing once this year (in April actually, before the farm stuff really started), and I haven’t been hunting at all yet since I just finished with harvesting last week. I’ve had almost no time left for the other things I love, and all of the stress and hardship is turning farming into something I no longer enjoy. As a result, it’s time for re-evaluation, and a year of ‘doing less’ farm-wise is the only way I see to do that. If it turns out that I can figure something else out to increase sales, draw more interest, or get people to buy from me regularly, then I can increase the scale again later. For now, that’s just not the reality.

And no, though most people cannot understand why… I simply cannot do farmers’ markets.
I do not have ‘staff’ to cover for me, I cannot have a dedicated day off all the time,
nor can I manage all the logistics of market fees/insane insurance costs/having a ‘professional booth’ (banners, baskets, awnings, all that shit is expensive),
timing, managing picking, packing, setup etc. which all have to be done very early in the morning even though I worked until 10-11 PM the night before,
transportation of everything,

If anyone still wants a specialty crop grown for them, I am happy to do that, as I will basically grow anything. However, a contract would be required to be drawn up and signed in advance. I can no longer justify planting great amounts of things that just get fed to my chickens or composted. Similarly, if someone wants something specific, let me know and I will be sure to include it. I would grow it just for you.

Other than that… I’ll hopefully see you in better days.

– A

Year of Hardship

Unfortunately, this is turning out to be the worst growing season we have experienced (and, from the stories our elders tell, among the worst there has ever been around here). We are making the best of it, but many crops are having at least partial crop failures due to the constant rain and flooding with little to no good weather in between.

The only crops currently without moderate to major disease issues are the lettuce, onions, and the cucumbers. The onions, carrots, and other smaller crops are being choked out by weeds because we cannot weed them without destroying them in the sodden, clumpy ground. The lettuce has bottom rot and the cucumbers have some powdery mildew, but not enough to do much to them. All the rest of these diseases are causing some losses, from small to large.

Tomatoes – Early Blight (moderate) – slight yield loss, still progressing
Broccoli – Clubroot followed by black rot (total loss of all plants, only harvested a few tiny heads)
Cauliflower – Clubroot (total loss of all plants and NO harvests were taken)
Fava Beans – Chocolate spot and/or Rust (major) – high yield loss due to plants weakening and dying and also, aborting of flowers
Zucchini – Bacterial Wilt on 2/3 plantings (major, fatal to at least 50% of plants), remaining planting powdery mildew (moderate)
Winter Squash – flood stunting, Powdery Mildew (moderate), Bacterial Wilt (25% of plants killed)
Potatoes – Stunting, Early Blight (moderate) – yield loss
Peppers – Southern Blight (minor, killed one plant outright and seems to be gone now)
Peas – Downy mildew (crop reduction, although still gave a reasonable crop)
Bush Beans – Combination Alternaria leaf spot, Root Rot, and White Mold (major, severe stunting of at least 50% of plants and slow and creeping death of others. Minor spread to bean pods, major crop loss due to failure of many plants to set pods at all)
Kale – severe stunting, probably Clubroot – no real harvest at all so far, as plants have failed to grow to size able to sustain it and may never do so
Watermelons – severe flood stunting
Corn – total loss of first planting due to flood washout/burial, 3 out of 4 plantings afterward suffering from moderate to severe stunting or poor emergence

And these are just some examples.

We spent more money than ever this year in trying to expand the plantings, making the soil more fertile, liming everything, etc. and a lot of it has just rotted in the ground or been pummeled or washed away. This is definitely a heartbreaking year and a year in which I do not expect to even come close to making back my initial investment. I have to just be happy to get anything back at all, I suppose, and I do know that farming is a lifestyle of great risk as well as great reward. Hopefully the next few years treat me better because these last few have not been favorable, and I cannot keep doing things the way I do if it’s going to keep ending up this way.

I have also been noticing certain varieties of plant doing better than others under this stress so I will note them here:
– Beans : Dragon’s Tongue – the most unaffected by Alternaria, and yielding the best under stress out of the 5 varieties I planted. Also is the biggest, most substantial, slowest-to-get-tough, most flavorful bean I grow (it just isn’t perfect for freezing, but acceptable) – and is an heirloom besides.
– Zucchini : Cocozelle – ‘Dark Green’ and ‘Dark Star’ are doing nowhere near as well as these. They are my biggest plants this year and the only ones I have harvested more than 2 fruits off of. My Early Yellow Prolific summer squash are practically useless as they are severely stunted and I have only harvested 1 so far.
– Basil : Mrs. Burns Lemon – The only basil I have been able to harvest so far. ‘Mammoth’ is barely growing. Standard sweet basil is meh, growing but not well. Lime basil is barely there, as is the purple and other specialty basils.
– Cucumber : Stonewall – I’ve been planting Stonewall because it is downy mildew resistant – I used to have severe problems with this disease in years past. I no longer do, and Stonewall seems to yield me a few bushels of well shaped fruit no matter the conditions.
– Lettuce : Mayan Jaguar, Flashy Butter Oak – both setting pretty (although a bit mini-sized) heads. Lettuce in general seems to love the cool, wet summer (it doesn’t like heat or dry weather much). MJ and FBO are just the best looking of the 7? varieties I have in.

There is still plenty to be thankful for though. Though the hay season has also been difficult to complete, we have sold enough to mostly cover the taxes, and haven’t had any rained on so far. We do have some regular customers and supportive family members. We always meet interesting new people. One of our ‘farm friends’ helped us recoup some monetary losses from our flooded fields. One of our new batch of chickens laid her first egg last week and I expect the others will soon follow. And, at the least, we have had another year of experience, and will harvest at least something to help feed us through the winter. If it can’t get any worse, then next year can only be up from here.

Living life one acre at a time.

Growing Season in Full Swing

Everything is planted here on our farm, and now we’re just waiting for things to grow.

Unfortunately, we’ve already suffered a lot of weather-related heartbreak here. The winter we sustained was the harshest in many years and one of the harshest ever on record, with almost the entire month of January locked in a deeply subzero state. I am not certain of the coldest that it got but we had some nights of -20 Fs with windchills bottoming out in the low -40s. Our chickens were given 2 sources of supplemental heat and made it out OK. However, we lost all of our varieties of mint, all of our blueberry bushes, half of our grape vines, a few blackberries/raspberries, and most of our strawberries. We also had a young nectarine, a plum, and our sweet cherries succumb, and a few of our more exposed ‘Stillwater Valley’ peaches had some dieback that had to be pruned fairly aggressively.

We also endured a devastating flood in late May as well as some flooding last night. For example, the earlier flooding wiped out our entire first planting of corn, our beans, washed out our onions, and stripped our tomatoes of soil and left them laying in pools of water. This was in addition to great topsoil loss as well as the loss of fertilizer and manure we had spread. The onions and tomatoes were replaced as soon as possible and have since recovered somewhat. We had to replant the other two.

Sadly, last night’s washout destroyed a large percentage of our rare corn we had received from GRIN. I don’t know if they will send me any more to replace it but if not I will have to work with more ‘common’ types I guess. 🙁 This was the least ‘costly’ but the most painful of all the losses, I think.

We are currently selling eggs, maple syrup, and seed potatoes, and will expand this as crops come ready. We’ve tried to get involved in a few different markets offsite but it seems it’s just not going to work this year with our costs and difficulties higher than usual. That said, if you are a restaurant, caterer, market, etc. and are interested in selling our corn or other produce or products made from them, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss options with you.

Things are very busy around here again so I don’t know how much time I will have to update. Haying season will be starting before we know it, and we will be weeding and then harvesting like crazy for the rest of the season. Hopefully we will not have to contend with a great deal of squash bugs, late blight, or the other disasters we had last year (although at this point I’d almost be happy to exchange the D1 drought for all of this rain).

I suppose if you are not ready to be tested, you should not farm!

Long Time No Update!

Life often pulls me away from online things, especially when it’s busy. If I don’t update, it probably just means I’m so distracted by everything else that I forgot 🙂

Our sales shack is complete – complete enough for the winter, anyway. The entire structure is done and painted/sealed up. Only some minor framing-in of doors/windows is left and can wait until spring. The sides are a nice barn red, with a clear Thompsons coat on the front near the ‘sales window’. I decorated up with some milk bottles, horseshoes found when plowing, and so forth. We sold out of it over the course of a couple months this summer, ending in mid-September after the corn harvest stopped. Sales were best on weekends and holidays, as expected, and we will continue to focus our efforts on the weekends in the future, especially since those are some of the only days we have free from our ‘real’ jobs. We actually ran out of corn around Labor Day, as one of our big picks was poorly timed and we ended up having too much earlier on and weren’t prepared. A lot overmatured on the plants, but we remedied this problem by picking it later and hanging it to dry for cornmeal… still waiting to make the first test batch of that, whenever we get the chance.

I had a bout with food poisoning near the end of our market season, too, making it necessary for others to sell my stuff for me more often at that time. I also had to make a hospital visit, which I never really love to do. I’m better now though! Be warned of my presence, cucumber-haggling lady. I know my cucumbers were already less than anywhere else and it causes me great frustration when you come when I’m not here in order to con my poor mother into giving you such things for even cheaper. (Said jokingly, but in all seriousness, I don’t consider haggling acceptable on my fresh items. If it’s in my free pile, just take it, or donate if you really want to. If it’s in my bargain bin or bargain bags, then maybe you can try to haggle, as that’s stuff I’m just trying to move out so someone can use it before it goes bad. But haggling on the stuff I just picked… :\ What do you guys think?)

RE: Corn, things seem to sell a lot better when I also have corn to sell. When I don’t have corn, almost nobody stops to the point that it’s almost useless to sit out there. I’m not sure why this is; I guess everyone is really just that in love with my corn. Guys, I promise that the other vegetables are amazing too…! Also, I noticed more roadside stands than ever this year, so that could have a lot to do with it. I’m not upset by that; I’d rather sell nothing and see every single house have a roadside stand if it meant that more people were eating locally and getting a healthier diet.

RE: my eggs, I kept selling out all the time this summer, not even having enough to meet daily demand. It was to the point I had to take them off Wholeshare, too. Now that winter has come, my stand is closed, allowing supply to build up more as only the ‘regulars’ come to get them… but the hens are laying far less, too, and Wholeshare is getting them again, so we’ll see if it all balances out. I could always get more chickens… 😀 Except no, because then I’d need more coop(s). I’m hoping to move toward getting a small barn again, so I can have some other stock instead.

Our dog has reached roughly her adult size at around 40-45 pounds. She loves the snow, mud, and outdoors in general. Definitely the right choice for us, even if she tries to herd the wheelbarrow and shovels when we clean out the coop.

I took an adult doe this deer season (11/20) and got about 55 pounds of meat out of her. Froze a lot as roasts, around 15 pounds as ground, and mixed 6 pounds in with other ingredients to make korv. Korv is one of our yearly traditions anymore, as long as we get a deer. We’re getting a whole processing setup made here, with a new cable hoist added to the list with our commercial meat grinder, vacuum sealer, and Excalibur dehydrator.

The more self-sufficient I can be, the better it is to me.

A Break in the Weather

After weeks of flooded conditions after constant rains, we have been graced with a hot, dry week of upper 80s. We got a good start to the hay season, and our crops started to turn around and grow better, appreciating the lapse in the cold and the wet. Some of our corn is already past knee high. 🙂

We have a number of herbs and greens available for fresh sales now, in addition to the eggs and maple syrup we were offering before. Other crops will be coming very soon. Peas are in full flower, zucchini plants are getting massive, and the potatoes are the best (plant-wise, anyway) that I have ever grown. Crossing my fingers that below ground will be just as amazing.

Our 5 new pullets are now starting to lay. It started with just one tiny, dark brown egg in the coop, which I thought could’ve been a ‘fart egg’ from one of the old hens. The next day, I got another. Then there were 2 the day after that, and I knew it was not the old mommas. Now, a week or so later, here are 3 in lay – not sure which ones exactly, though! As the biggest and most mature looking hens, I thought the Amberlinks were the culprits, but now I am sure that one of them is one of the Reds as I caught her in the box and saw her lay one! Though still on the small side, the eggs are a beautiful hot chocolate color right now, and add another dimension to my assortment. They’ll get bigger soon enough. Until then… pullet eggs for breakfast, yes please.

Our work on a sales shed is going well, though we have quite a way to go. Door is on, floor is done, and sides are mostly together, with trusses built for part of the roof. Still need to pick up metal roofing materials. We plan to plant grapes on one side of it and let them grow up it, as well. We also have another extra old tractor tire that we may fill with soil and put out in front of it, like we did with other old ones further up our lawn. We will see.

We also have a couple of chive divisions and a few seedling apricot trees available, and some cuttings of various plants for those interested. It isn’t too late yet! Cuttings available include meyer lemon, key lime, pineapple sage, various mints, various blueberry, trumpet creeper, and native elderberry. We will prune them up, dip them in rooting hormone (4 available, your choice) and pot them up for you for an extra charge. Aftercare and final success is up to you either way.


The wild ramp season has past, and the greens are yellowing and dying back. We sold a few bunches, though. 🙂

The frost I was worried about before did hit us for 2 days in a row. One was a freeze, dipping to around 26-27. We protected our tomatoes with cardboard boxes mounded with dirt, or some were under plastic nursery pots lined with rowcover. We lost 4 plants completely, and 5 more experienced some damage. I removed and replaced 8 total, as though I probably could’ve saved a few of them, they would’ve needed some babying and production would’ve been set back. Better than I thought, though. With how cold it was I imagined losing them all.

Our corn stayed underground until the day or 2 after the frost passed, popping up safely.

Our young fruit trees lost their buds and will not fruit this year. Our adult ones, though, and our adult wild gooseberries, are peppered with fruit still. A couple of the young gooseberries have some spotty fruit, but it won’t be enough for any kind of sales – just for a sample.

We resumed planting, and almost everything is in the ground now.

Unfortunately, weather forecasters are calling for another round of low-to-mid 30s temperatures this weekend. This is a very late cold spell for our area. If the nights are calm, this could lead to more frost that would kill our corn and every other warm-weather crop we have planted.

We do not have anywhere near enough coverings for all of them, so we’re just going to have to take it as it comes. Hopefully it skirts us, because if it doesn’t it will be hundreds of dollars in losses and we might have to cut back or cancel many of our plans for the year.

We have started building a shed (out of an old machinery shipping crate) to sell out produce out of, if the weather allows us to have any produce this year.

Planting Time

This year we are putting in a large plot of corn, similar to but not quite as big as the plots we used to put in decades ago, for mass quantities of roadside sales. I know people love grilling, steaming, and roasting fresh corn on the cob in the summer, and we will be able to provide for that or for the canners/freezers this year.

Our friend Claire Hanley sent us some blueberry and raspberry bushes and some rhubarb crowns. These plants came from Nourse Farms, which we had good luck with last year (gooseberries/currants, all survived and some are already flowering). We put the raspberries out in our row in our field, a couple replacing a few that did not make it over the winter (though almost all of them did and I’m thrilled to see that). The blueberries are potted up into larger pots to grow out a bit before being moved. This makes 33 brambles and 11 blueberry bushes for us. Rhubarb’s been put by one of our old compost sites – they also sent us an extra crown, so there’s 4 rather than 3. Here’s to their success and to offering more stuff in the future! We will not have any bramble fruits this year, as the plants are still establishing, but I do expect to have some gooseberry/currant fruits. They’ll probably only be in enough quantity for me to eat and hoard for myself though. 🙂 All things in their time.

All my ‘new’ fruit trees survived the winter, except for the 2 apples which were girdled by rodents. We replaced those 2 with trees of the same varieties, and also put in a second Golden Delicious. All of the trees from last year are flowering, too, as are the ‘baby’ peaches I started from seed approx. 5 years ago. I hope they come out anything like their mother… perhaps we will see. My serviceberries are so loaded with blossoms that you can’t even tell they have leaves.

We are also planting more varieties of vegetables than ever, as we have added a second garden plot around the same size as the first, attached over by the corn plot. We are adding things like unusual melons, ‘Wonderberries’, a third type of potato, 2 more types of onions, different greens (Bull’s Blood beet greens, Purslane, etc.), and an expansion of our planting of our peas and our sunflower landrace. The chickens oh-so-love the seedheads in the winter.

Speaking of chickens … when introducing the new birds to the old, we had a bad incident with the mature hens ripping one of the new ones open! Our Commercial Black, ‘Tux’, was the victim. I didn’t know if she would survive at first – the wound was huge and hideous. However, determined to try, I grabbed some regular old cotton thread and a sewing needle and stitched her up (it’s all we had). I used some flour to stop her bleeding. We kept her inside and applied Neosporin cream. Long story short, she took out her own stitches and now you can barely tell where the wound even was as feathers have coated the area again. I think she’ll have a slightly crooked tail for life, but that’s fine as long as she seems happy. We penned them up apart from the old birds for a while, and yesterday was their first time back ‘together’ again. The youngsters are significantly bigger now, and there were no incidents, so here’s to hoping for a harmonious coop.

We will be selling wild leeks/ramps for the next few weeks. $3 for a bunch of 8-10 plants. I realize this is on the costly side, but each plant patch has to be traveled to, and each plant harvested and cleaned by hand/individually, using selective methods to ensure sustainability… and that’s what we have put to consideration.

There is a good chance of frost for the weekend according to the weather guys, though there is disagreement as to how cold/how hard the frost will be. I am hoping that it somehow avoids us, because I really do not want to lose all the fruit the millions of blossoms herald, although we have lost all our fruit for the past 2 years so it wouldn’t be unheard of unfortunately. We will definitely be covering our tomato plants, and have suspended new planting until the weekend passes. 🙁

Spring Is Coming Again

The past two days were near 60 degrees and quite beautiful, although breezy. We’ve tapped some of the maple trees near our house, and the sap is flowing like crazy. Typical to the temperamental Western NY weather, though, it rained all night last night and isn’t going to break 40 degrees today.

It’s alright, though. Mostly seasonal, temperate conditions help to ensure that trees don’t break dormancy too soon. Last year was a big disaster when 70s and 80s in March followed by several hard freezes in late March and April destroyed not only our own fruit crop, but the crops of many major orchards and vineyards in our area. Many people without any agricultural interests might be begging for the summer to begin, but those thinking like us are more likely to welcome the cold now, because soon the sun’s warmth will stay, and the leaves, blossoms, and greenery will return with more vigor for it.

Leeks will be one of the earliest, most vibrant editions to the spring forest floor, and we’ll be sure to be out gathering some up. We will also be utilizing our big new Excalibur dehydrator to preserve some. Those who might be interested in fresh or dried leeks can let us know at any time and we will notify you when they’re available. The price will depend on how the wild crop is, because we harvest very selectively to preserve the colonies of plants for the future, but we anticipate a good year.

The chickens never stopped laying all winter, though they were down to 2-3 a day at some points. Now they’re back up to 7-12 a day, and we’re starting to sell their eggs on Wholeshare. 🙂 While convenient for some in town, Wholeshare does charge a markup to our prices cover their own costs. If you come out to us to get the eggs, you will be charged a flat price (currently $3/doz.)

We bought six new chicks – 2 ‘Commercial Black’ layer crosses, 2 Dekalb Amberlinks, and 2 red pullets that could end up being Rhode Island Red, Production Red, New Hampshire Red, or Red Sex Links. Unfortunately, as I tend to do, I chose an odd one – the only grey one out of the batch of blacks. It was small to begin with, did not seem to be growing, and it stopped eating and drinking. We segregated it and tried to force some sugar water into it, but it passed away overnight one night. The others are all feathering out and appear healthy, and hopefully in a few weeks they can be integrated into the outdoor group.

Having been diagnosed with work-related ulnar neuropathy that is most likely Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, I’ve had some time off. It hurts me to be online, so I have been neglecting the updates here and everywhere else.

I’ve bought all the seed I need for planting this upcoming season, and we’re working on trying to build a homemade outdoor evaporator while I persistently stove-boil my maple sap and steam up the house (I do have finished syrup for sale by the pint or half pint).

I’m hoping to get more done with the ‘orchard’ area this year too, especially since rodents killed a few of the trees over the winter.

Always somethin’.

Quick Update

Just decided to post a quick update to show that I’m still thinking about this place. 🙂

Over the summer and fall, I was getting 10-13 eggs per day from my 14 hens! Now, though, the winter’s low light has dropped them back down to 2-6 per day. Still, I’ll take it. They’re a joy to have and provide endless entertainment value. The roosters have become a bit more crotchety and protective, but they’re still not bad boys on the whole. You just have to keep an eye on them if you’re really close to them and wearing big, scary boots.

Our little kitten is no longer so little, although she’s small for an adult cat. She still enjoys rampaging throughout the house, mixed with periods of extreme cuteness.

This year’s deer hunt resulted in a nice doe. Prior to that, I bought a trail camera for getting wildlife photos on my property. We got a lot of nice ones, but it was also pretty promptly stolen by someone trespassing in our fields. People seem to continually disappoint me in such matters. A police report yielded nothing so far.

Somewhat happily, though, the winter has been mild thus far, which makes it easier on the animals and me. Lower bills, less worrying about the chickens, more greenery to lighten my mood… I’m sure ski resorts and snowmobilers hate it, though. It remains to be seen whether we’ll have the same (nonexistent) winter of last year, or if it will get more gnarly as the season progresses.

The growing season mostly ended a bit early this year. Many crops were done in mid-September, either succumbing to disease or falling victim to a light, early frost that came on Sept. 16th. Most of the rest finished in early October, when a killing freeze claimed them. For now, I still have plenty of eggs and maple syrup for sale. I’ll be making new syrup in another month or two, though last year’s has been stored cool, sealed, and dark, and is just as good as it was when I made it. I also have red and white potatoes still, as well as some onions.

The kale is still going strong out in the garden, shrugging off temps in the high teens and low 20s as it always does. I highly encourage growing this plant. It’s so tough, and so nutritious besides!

I no longer have beets, because rodents got into them and apparently ate around 2 bushels worth of them.

There are always little troubles, but oh well – we keep on. Such is life.

First Eggs

I got the first egg from one of my Gold-laced Wyandotte hens a little over a week ago. Now another unknown Wyandotte has joined her in laying, and two of the Easter Eggers have as well. Yesterday was the best day for eggs so far – we found 4 in there, 2 brown and 2 blue. I have yet to find out exactly who the other 3 layers are. My Silver-laced Wyandotte rooster, Sigurd, gives an antsy, squawking alarm when a girl is about to lay, causing us much amusement. They’re all little pullet eggs right now, but they’re already getting a little bigger compared to the first ones.

Harvesting is in full swing. Zucchini/summer squash and green beans are overwhelming me as usual. I just dug the Red Norland potatoes today, and while yields were poor compared to what I was expecting (I blame the drought), I still ended up with more than last year, so I’m not too displeased. Broccoli also did well. I have harvested all the first heads, so now only side shoots remain, but one of the first heads was measured out to be 14″ wide. This is 3″ wider than my old record, which was itself a gigantic head of broccoli. They were truly something else.

The pot is a 3 gallon tree pot.

Tomatoes are also coming ready fast, and I’m picking more and more every day. I’m impressed with Cherokee Purple, but I’m also eager to see how my heirloom Mr. Stripeys look when fully ripe. Other veggies like peas, lettuce, and cucumbers are also producing, though the former two are on their way out. Watermelons seem really good looking this year, and I can’t wait to try some of the orange-fleshed ones I planted. Acorn squash are forming on their vines, and I’m still hoping for a good-sized pumpkin, too.

So far, roadside sales have been poor this year, and I’ve had trouble moving my produce. I’ve joined up with Furniture City Foods to offer some of my stuff online, and I got my first order this morning. I’ll fill that, and maybe business will pick up. Maybe not. I’m also dabbling with possibly getting into a produce market in Jamestown, but I don’t know if that will happen or not. I think the best thing for my sales will be to have a shed/stand to sell out of. Maybe next year.

The trees and gooseberry/currant bushes are all still alive, though some look better than others. The heat and dry weather have been hard on them. I lost some of the raspberries, but if some survive that will be enough to do cuttings from, or they’re cheap enough that I can just replace them if need be. I do hope that all the trees make it, though.

Hay season is complete, with enough extra bales made to get the chickens through the winter with plenty of bedding.

So far, so good. Now to get back to blanching and freezing…