Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's happening on the farm in early July


A portion of our vegetable gardens in early July.
Just wanted to give you a quick update on the farm. The vegetable gardens are growing well, for the most part. We have been dealing with a vole problem this year that has been quite aggravating. The voles seem to have a real taste for young beans. I can't count how many times we have reseeded them. The young white cat that has adopted us and is living under the workshop has been snacking on some, but we either need more barn cats (not!) or create a bait and trap system.

We had an excellent garlic year and there are several varieties curing in the barn right now. Most of the potatoes have been dug and the summer squash is just starting to come in. We are also enjoying fresh basil and cilantro. Yum!
The Davis bees are happily producing honey.
We had a good honey year in 2011 and hope to have another good one this year. There is still 2011 honey available. Just give us a call if you want to purchase any. We will be selling it at the Mills River Farmers' Market when we have a few more items to sell along with it.

We need to decide if we want to expand our poultry production.
Our chickens are in their fourth season of production and providing us with a surprising number of eggs. That's one of the many benefits to raising heritage breeds; they don't "burn out" as quickly as the newer commercial breeds. But, we are at the stage where we need to decide if we want to expand production and start selling eggs. I see some folks selling pasture raised eggs for $2 a dozen and cannot figure how they are making any money doing so. I haven't crunched all the numbers yet, but I think we would have to charge at least twice that much to make any money on them. How much are you willing to pay for locally grown, pasture raised eggs?
One of our girls lost her tail!  I really don't know what happened to it.
Some folks have asked why we don't let our chickens roam freely around the farm. There are several reasons. The biggest one is predators. We have very healthy hawk, fox, coyote, and dog populations in our area. Our neighboring farms have all shared stories about hawks and coyotes taking off with their chickens.  And several times when we have had the electric fence turned off, dogs have entered the field and thrown themselves at the chicken tractor. I'm sure we would have lost a few if we didn't have them so well protected. We just visited a farm in Transylvania county last weekend and the farmer shared that he had lost three chickens in recent weeks. Keeping our chickens semi-confined also prevents their interaction with other birds which keeps them healthier and reduces the risk of spreading avian diseases to us. So our girls are moved daily and get lots of sunshine and fresh grass. If we expand production, I would like a bigger run, but they can't roam free here.

There are three equines in our pastures; two of our own and a boarder.
We have a wonderful "mature" companion horse. He is a Tennessee Walker and he is a sweetheart. Then we have my donkey, Hagar. He is a guard donkey, my good friend, and a real character. And we also board an older, small Belgian horse. The three of them get along just great and share the pasture with the chickens. We are currently looking for two young steers. We enjoyed raising our first two Black Angus and our customers loved the beef they produced. So hopefully we will have two new ones shortly.
We try to go to the Mills River Farmers' Market every Saturday morning.
As I mentioned earlier, we intend to sell at the Mills River Farmers' Market off Hwy 280 later in the season. This has grown into a wonderful little market with about 28 vendors and a great diversity of products. Come check it out next Saturday morning from 8 am till noon.
Oyster mushrooms that I bought from Deep Woods Mushrooms at the Mills River Farmers' Market.
I was very excited to see Greg Carter from Deep Woods Mushrooms selling his mushrooms at the Mills River Farmers' Market! He is a great person and grows yummy mushrooms.
The creamy oyster mushroom sauce on fettucine and fresh local tomatoes in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
There are few activities that give me as much pleasure as creating a meal using all fresh, locally grown ingredients. The weekends are the best time to do this. We harvest fresh produce and herbs from our gardens; I run to the farmers' market and buy fresh lettuce, fancy breads, and duck eggs; and we have a freezer full of our beef and my friend's pork. It is a delight to cook with all this wonderful food!

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