Late April update

It’s been incredibly busy here the last few weeks, so I have let this blog slide. Here’s a quick summary of all that’s been happening. We have stormy weather coming in later this week, so I will try to get more details, photos, and more written then.

First and foremost, the goats have been a success to this point and are a very valuable addition. We are averaging 2 quarts a day of excellent fresh milk, and are making yogurt and cheese with what we’re not drinking. We already have a distribution network set up with friends and neighbors who enjoy the truly fresh milk and yogurt, though it is all free as we are not legally allowed to sell any of this under current conditions. I need to do some more research on what it would take to make and sell yogurt legally, as everyone who tries the yogurt loves it (it’s far fresher, tastier, and healthier than commercial brands; even the organic ones are loaded with sugar). The goats are doing their larger job of helping us clear brush and improve our fields, and the milk is simply a bonus. Our fundamental goal on the farm is a high level of self-sufficiency combined with diverse income streams from multiple products, so building our experience with dairy/meat goats is a large step in that direction.

The chicks are growing fast, and are quite ready to move from the brooder to the outdoors. Yesterday we finished clearing and cleaning up the future chicken yard, and seeded it with early rye. Tomorrrow I hope to finish the chicken house and fencing so that we can move them outdoors for good (with a brooder lamp in the new house). Heritage breeds are proving their worth so far, as these birds are more interested in the natural foods we’ve been giving them (fruit flies, amaranth, cooked squash, whey from cheese-making) than the processed chicken feed you’re “supposed” to feed them. We supply that too, as we don’t know enough yet about chicken nutrition to be sure that they’re getting all they need from the natural food, but we are going to move very aggressively toward feeding them as naturally as possible from on-farm products and not Purina inventions.

Our lettuce and radishes are finally growing well with the onset of true warm weather, and I intend/hope to sell at market for the first time this coming weekend. We have peas in outdoors, many summer things seeded indoors, and will be starting many more in the next few weeks. The garlic is looking spectacular and I’m looking forward to marketing that in a few months. Out in our larger field, I have begun the process of converting the broad plowed area into permanent beds, which will be planted this year mostly in drying beans, corn, and various grains. We’re putting in roughly 30 4′x50′ beds this year, with more to come next year. I need most of these ready by end of May so they can be planted in time. There are also another 10-15 permanent raised beds to finish in the garden.

May is going to be an incredibly busy month, as it is probably the peak of our planting season, combined with a great deal of infrastructure work getting our beds built, irrigation laid out, fencing for the larger fields and more goat paddocks built, as well as market sales. Luckily the days are nice and long, though.

All of the topics above are roots for individual blog posts in the future; I’d like to write in more detail about managing each of the animals in natural ways, developing our large-scale no-till methods in the big field, building animal infrastructure, market sales, and more political news/issues. Look for me to start filling out those subjects in coming weeks, with more photos. One good stormy day should take care of some of this.

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