And I'm Feeling Good... - Spring Lake Homestead
I could really easily gripe about all of the things that went wrong over the past week or so. I mean, there were so many things that did not go right. But there were so many things that happened that were great, and I’d rather focus on that. So even though there was a lot that went wrong, I’m feeling good… I’m a bit behind in my writing, so I want to go back and cover anything I may have missed. It appears as though all of my gardening/homesteading blogging friends have also been extremely busy, because they have been just as “bad” about keeping up with their writing as I have 🙂 A few weekends ago, Scott and a friend of ours put up some bug traps on the fruit trees. Scott purchased these on Amazon and used something called “tanglefoot” to coat the fake apples in. We would really like to avoid spraying our trees, so we are going to try several things over the next year or two to see what works and what doesn’t and figure out what to do. We don’t plan to sell any apples for the time being, so it’s not really a huge deal if our apples don’t look the prettiest, but we still want to get as much fruit as possible. Our kids can eat a lot of applesauce and drink a lot of cider! Another friend helped Scott for the better part of a day working on putting in the remaining fence posts around the main veggie garden. We still have to get the actual fencing up, and there are a lot more fence posts to put in around the other garden areas, but getting the posts in finally allowed me the ability to plant everything. Before the posts went in, I was waiting to be able to rake the wood chips out to the garden’s boundaries. With that out of the way, I was free to progress as I liked. We got a gas tank for the farm recently. It will be really nice to not have to stop working to run to the gas station to get fuel for the tractors, ATV, or lawn mowers this year! I’m not exactly fond of driving around with containers of fuel in the back of the mini van. Did I tell you about the fig trees I got for Mother’s Day this year? They were a gift from Scott (and the kids)…something he acquired thanks to the help of a co-worker. Well, since they are meant to grow in a warmer climate than ours, they have to be potted so they can be brought indoors for the winter. We’ll probably keep them in the basement. The trees were taking up too much space in the kitchen where they were temporarily being stored, and so the kids and I took a drive to town and bought some pots and some potting soil. They helped me plant them, and then we put wood chips over the top of the soil to keep weeds out and help them retain moisture. So far they appear to be doing well, but I forgot to check where they would need to be planted (they need “filtered light” or partial shade), and one got a bit sunburned. No big deal, we just moved the pot! Now there is one near the stairs to the house and another next to the garage where they receive shade for a part of the day. Last Friday, Scott pulled out of our driveway on his way to Bible study in our new vehicle! The lease on the car that Scott has been using is up next month, and we needed a replacement for this leased vehicle. Knowing that would be the case for quite some time, we planned ahead and set aside a reasonable amount of money so that we could buy a used vehicle to suit our needs. Thanks to Scott’s connections, we found one in our price range that we know to be reliable and in good condition! Now we get to look forward to using the money that we were making on payments on things that are more important to us, like paying off debt 🙂 The weekend didn’t go as planned, but over the course of Monday through Wednesday, I was able to get the majority of our veggie garden planted. I actually began planting just at the very end of May, and I put in all of our veggie starts. Some are doing good, others are struggling to adjust. I still have to plant a small patch of herbs, and I have a ton of other planting to do, but the really important stuff is in the ground. The onion sets are starting to have shoots above ground, and the potatoes are putting up their first leaves! The hard part is waiting for the seeds to start growing…you have to have so much faith putting those tiny things in the ground, and after what feels like an eternity of waiting, you finally get to see if they are going to take or not. It ended up being a week of lots of visits with friends, family, and neighbors, and there were multiple unexpected trips into town to pick up a tool or something that was needed to keep things progressing around here. The visits were nice, and appreciated during such a balmy start to a Wisconsin June. We were supposed to visit with even more people, but some sickness kept us away from others for a few days until we knew it was safe. The sickness also meant that housework got delayed as did some of our gardening endeavors…but again, because of the hot weather, it was good to break up the work as much as we did. In other homesteading news…Scott and Tiffany did an inspection on their hives Thursday evening. On examining the first two hives, they discovered that one hive was really thriving. There was lots of brood being laid, and honey being stored. They added the queen excluder on top of the hive and put on one honey super. The other hive was not doing quite so well. They were not quite certain if the queen was still with the hive, but based on the evidence they saw from that day and the weeks prior, that if they don’t see more activity next week, they will need to get a new queen for that hive. They are still making a plan for what exactly to do should that be the case. They should know if the queen is still active or not based on whether or not they find more brood in the hive next week. They then moved over to the second set of hives. They found the first of those two to be active but not nearly as productive as the first hive they examined. There was definitely positive activity, and some honey being added, but not in the quantities of the first hive in the first group that they looked at. The final hive they examined was the one that Tiffany created foundationless frames for. She was extremely nervous for what she would find, but the results seemed to be positive. The bees were hard at work building comb, there were more bees than the second and third hives they examined, and they very clearly found the queen bee, which shows that the hive is functioning as it should. After we talked for a bit, the conclusion that we arrived at is that it would probably be better to just use a frame with a foundation for the brood boxes, since it is vital to the colony to get food stored and eggs laid. Then once they were doing well with the brood boxes, it would make more sense to put foundationless frames into the honey supers. Ideally, we’d like to be able to get at least some beeswax from our hives, and since you only take honey from the supers, the honey and comb could be completely removed from the super frames without harming the work that the colony does for their survival during the winter months. I don’t know that they would use foundationless frame for all of the supers, but we figure they could use at least some. I’ll go over that in more detail in a separate post about the bees! The first batch of meat chickens were ready to be moved out to the chicken tractor that my father-in-law built for us, so Scott and I moved half of the chicks out to the field on Friday evening. We waited until today to move more of them because we wanted to make sure we were not going to have issues with predators first. The chicken tractor should hold up to 40 full-sized meat birds, so yesterday Scott transferred the remaining birds into the tractor. The other 10 chicks were moved in with the egg laying chickens because we will need the second coop space for the next batch of chicks. Actually, we are getting 50 more meat birds on the 14th, and sometime in the next few days, we’ll be getting more egg laying chicks! That is something else I’ll write about in more detail another time. So far the chicks that have been moved out to pasture are doing really well and are enjoying the grass. Sometime during the week, I picked up two pink hydrangea bushes from Walmart that were on clearance. They looked a bit rough when I bought them (which is why they were on sale), but they started to look better as soon as I got them out into the full sun. I planted them where I had taken out other flowers that weren’t working for us, in an area I hope to create some more nice flower beds eventually. I used landscape fabric and mulch in a square around each, just to keep the weeds and grass out, but eventually I want to expand what is there. And a friend dropped off some Lily of the Valley (also called Star of Bethlehem among other things). I still need to get them into the ground, but I’ll be putting them where they will add some nice ground cover. It spreads like crazy, so I’ll have to choose wisely 🙂 I moved the root stocks and grafts into one of the future garden squares where they will receive more light. They are doing well…even better than we expected. The grafts have all done some growing on the graft themselves, and nearly all have growth on the lower root stock that will soon have to be trimmed back, but as long as they stay healthy, we’ve got fruit trees! The root stock has all put up shoots, I think as few as two per root stock. Each root stock should produce more shoots every year, which will allow us to significantly increase the amount of propagation we are able to do. In the mean time, we have at least tripled what we started with! One of the frustrations that I had been feeling was that we (I) had plans to do our planting a bit differently this year, and nothing was going according to plan. I hadn’t wanted to, but I really needed the ground broke for this year’s pumpkin patch, so I cracked and asked Scott to teach me how to drive tractor and work the field. I admit that it was really fun and exciting, and yes, even a bit nerve-wracking. We still have to finish up the job, but I should be able to plant by the end of the day today. There are times when I find our progress stalled around the homestead because I am not capable of completely a task on my own for whatever reason…in this case, I had to wait on Scott to be able to work the field. Sure he could have...
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