Knowledge

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Maybe you remember this plant from a previous post. You know, the one that came with the dire warning of poop inducing properties? Well…

As it turns out, sometimes knowledge gained over the fence is not quite trustworthy. This is actually an Indian Plum plant. Its the only plant in its genus in the world. (I don’t really know what that means but it sounds like it should be fascinating so I’m including it.)

The berries turn a deep deep shade of blue when they are ripe. I tasted a few – which, truth be told, may not be quite ripe – and the best description I can come up with is sweet cucumber to sweet watermelon rind.

Supposedly they work really well in mixed fruit jams.

That’s it.

Really.

 

Lazy Sunday Walkabout

Just some photos and thoughts while I basically kill time until Game of Thrones. Hahaha.

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It amazes me how much chickens love grass. I mean LOVE grass. I’m still working on where to put a door to the outside for them so for now we bring the grass to them.

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Don shares a magical bond with the birds, including the rooster John Henry. The change from yellow fuzzball to almost grown was unnervingly fast. At least they’ve stopped totally freaking out when we come around. Some days the brooder seemed mostly like an asylum.

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These are beaked hazelnuts. I was beginning to think I had misidentified the trees until I discovered these today. They’re just really good at hiding.

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A hazelnut tree is less of a tree and more of a shrub. I wonder how many of these get dug up because they look like scrub brush?

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It seems much cooler and greyer this year than last. It’s almost the end of May and I still wear a jacket in the mornings. It’s been running 45 to 48 degrees when I leave for work. This is still unnatural to a Texas boy.

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This is Salal. It’s a wild shrub up here that is a distant relative to the blueberry. It seems to be doing really well this year. We moved in too late last year to take advantage of it. I’m looking forward to trying it.

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Unfortunately as with so many wild foods, the Salal is in the fence line. I will have to eventually cut it back toward the road. I’m sure it has survived worse.

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This is one of the six blueberry bushes we planted. We might get enough berries for a couple of pies this year!

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Our piddly little garden. We added a couple of tomatoes and peppers to the potatoes. The red potatoes (on the right) already have blooms!? What the hay? I’m trying to will them to grow more before they start that crap.

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Just some wildflowers behind the barn. The big leafed plant with the blue flowers is comfrey. It was really beautiful a few weeks ago.

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More yellow.

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And yet more yellow.

I am constantly amazed at the changing life around here.

Jokes On Me

Finally mowed a path to the back fence yesterday. While back there we met another neighbor. Nice guy. Also found this interesting bush.

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When I asked the guy if he knew what it was – all the while moving the leaves around and feeling the berries – he said he wasn’t sure but he thought it was “such and such”, I can’t remember. He said I wouldn’t touch it, I think it’s a natural laxative.

Story of my frikkin’ life.

Weeding

There are two things I hate about weeding. The first weed and the last weed.

The first weed is like some wall you have climb in order to start. It embodies all the sweat, toil, and effort you have in front of you.

The last weed, well the last weed is still not the end. It’s the point where you unbend yourself and realize you still have to rake and put away your tools. It’s a false hope, a frustrated finish.

But those middle weeds, those weeds are a meditation.

During the middle I make the connections. Work to result. Dirt to plant. Earth to me. In the middle I understand.

Saturday

Had a rather full day today. The brakes on Don’s car went out yesterday so we took it into the Ford house. His car is a hybrid that uses regenerative braking so of course nothing about it is cheap. A new master cylinder is going to be $1700 just for the part. Yes, you read that correctly. Even the cheapest after-market one is $1200. It makes you wonder if being eco-friendly is worth it.

While we were in town we stopped at the farmer’s market and discovered the awesome ivy that you see above. That’s really me standing under an ivy plant – I’m 6’2″ by the way. It was pretty impressive.

Then it was back home where I have been banished to the barn when I do anything with melted bees wax now. I set up the fish fryer and it worked like a charm. I needn’t have bothered though because in my passionate bee induced haze I forgot that we’ve only been beekeepers for 3 weeks now!:) I want them to grow so badly! Still, I think that’s an impressive amount of comb for only 3 weeks. That’ll do bee, that’ll do.

In honor of our stiff upper lips this morning Don’s on his way to get take out and we’re going to watch the Sounders play.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Mr Gonso, how are your bees?

Trash, Trash, and More Trash

This is the third load of scrap metal we’ve carted off so far and we haven’t even started cleaning out the woods.

I caught myself the other day wondering why I come home from work, change clothes, and then work for another 2-6 hours in the evening doing stuff like this? That’s on top of the 10-12 hour days Don and I put in almost every weekend.

I don’t know about Don but I do it BECAUSE I LOVE IT! It’s like now that we’ve committed I can’t not do it. I am addicted to the improvement and the progress.

And the fact that we actually, finally, after 20 years have our own chickens and our own bees gives me the kind of tingles that are usually reserved for new romance.

There’s also evening vistas like this.

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Since Last We Spoke

My goodness friends it’s been such a whirlwind around here I don’t remember when I last posted anything.

I remember tempting fate and then blowing out my back and consequently losing two weeks of productive time.

Since then we’ve managed to finish the chicken coop and get the bees installed. I also planted a patch of potatoes because, well, they had seed potatoes at the feed store and how can you pass those up?

Picture dump.

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Remember how we started with this?  Well, now it looks like this.

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It was like building a square inside a rhombus. I invented new words while we worked on it. Above is the South end, lots of light. Those are windows we salvaged from the “mudroom” demo on the house.

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The East wall is two large doors so the whole thing can be opened for cleaning… like this.

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We put the nest boxes on the West wall so they are inside the alleyway and we can gather eggs without getting rained on.

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There’s another human-sized door inside the run. Eventually, the chicken door will be in this door – we’re keeping them in the coop until the run is totally fenced and then their door will remain open. Again to save us rain exposure.

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We’re trying to make the coop and the run as critter-proof as humanly possible. That way it will be less maintenance for us.IMG_2513

Hard to believe the exponential growth of chickens. They seem to enjoy their new digs. I think they’re happy to be out of that brooder.

We really bit off a bit too much trying to finish the coop and finish getting ready for the bees as well. Thank goodness we only had top bars left to cut.

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I went and picked up our bee packages yesterday and it was such a beautiful day that we were able to install them as soon as I got back. I have to say that the ride home was not nearly as nerve wracking as I had expected. The gentle hum of the bees was actually a little soporific.

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The install was so laid back I was amazed.

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Only one mishap. The queen in the second package managed to escape her cage but luckily she fell right into the hive. I couldn’t very well catch her again so I just hurriedly dumped the other bees in there. I think she’ll be alright, she had already been with the package for two days. I guess we’ll see.

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I’ll tell ya, there’s not much better than a clear spring day in Washington state.

This little patch is the only garden work I’ve found time to do… so far. But if worse comes to worse we’ll at least have eggs, potatoes, onions, and maybe a little honey!

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Friends, I am so happy and so tired. Hope your spring is going well.

 

Perfection Not Allowed

Farm truck update:  DONE, BOOM! Hopefully the truck will never grace the pages of this blog again.

The chicks are two weeks old as of last Friday and since there’s no motivation like desperation we have finally started building the coop and run.

Or I should say, remodeling a couple of barn stalls into a future chicken palace.

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Maybe “barn” is a little too grand for the structure we have but it’s ours so we call it what we want.:) After tearing away plywood and stall dividers, and removing several years of horse poop, this is what was left. Sow’s ear to silk purse here we go!

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We framed in the floor with wood from the wood-lot at work. I’m really, really happy to have found that resource!

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Then we cut off those dangly bits from the roof and framed in the South wall. The odd spacing is to accommodate windows we salvaged from the mud porch we had to tear off the house. You can kind of see the additional support we put under the deck, again all salvaged stuff.

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This is just another shot.

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We had just enough repurposed 2X lumber to deck the floor. The new boards are where the inside wall sill is going.  Unfortunately, that’s all we’ve accomplished this weekend. Today is Sunday and every time one of us steps outside it starts raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock. So frustrating!! If the weather cooperates this week, we hope to have at least the coop complete by next Sunday.

The coop is 8’x12′ and the run, including the space under the coop is 12’X24′ roughly. That will be more than enough room for the 15 or so birds we plan on keeping… he said, foolishly tempting the universe.

So far, we’ve had to buy deck screws, and we will have to buy wire to screen the run but if there’s anyway possible we’re going to try to make that our only purchases.

Using found and repurposed material inside a cobbled together barn necessarily results in less than perfection but that’s okay, I think perfection is overrated.