Some say that 2021 flew by and others say it took forever. If you really listen to each side you will find that their perspective is what really determines how they have experienced this past year. Focusing on the many negative experiences that many of us have faced this past year can take such an emotional toll on us. Our well being and self worth easily being effected. However, if you take the same individual with the same negative experiences and change their focus to the positive things in their life, you will find a much happier individual. One whose real joy and peace are not shaken. This is not because they are perfect and have the perfect little life but it is because their perspective is optimistic, focused on what they have rather than what they do not. Going forward in life let us all work hard to be the latter. Yesterday is unfortunately gone. Let’s affect change to today! That was my TED Talk for the month! Let’s get into the goings on why don’t we!
We have put several of Hoopty’s rows to sleep for the Winter and still have more to go. The way we do this in the high tunnel is not all that different from how we do so in our raised beds. We pull existing plants leaving plant matter that is small enough to decompose such as leaves and very small stems. Everything else goes to the compost pile. We do any needed weeding while pulling the plants. Then we cover with around two inches of composted soil. Finally we lay down weed barrier to black out the soil and prevent anything from growing until we are ready. We have done this with the rows we plan to plant Spring broccoli & cauliflower on. That planting will be in February. We had planned to also do this with the row we are planting tomatoes on come Spring, however that has been delayed and we hope to get that done this week.
In other Hoopty news we have been dealing with army worms there! This is really disappointing for us. Although we use organic pesticides in the high tunnel, we only use them on crops that we know to be targets. Things like our leafy greens get treated twice monthly. The issue we have begun to have is on our carrot row which is on one of the outer edges of our high tunnel. For the first time since we began to farm the army worms are attacking the carrot tops! This area had not been treated and thus has been devastated! We will definitely have to replant our carrots which will put us behind on our goals for the year. While that is sad it could be a whole lot worse! Army worms are called such for a reason! They invade and destroy just like an efficient army, many times before the farmer is even aware they are there as in our case. We only lost half of the row prior to discovering the infestation but our lettuce and other greens seem to be fine. We have treated everything at this point just to be on the safe side.
The inconsistencies in the weather this Winter have kept us busy with Hoopty. Since our goal is to open the sides of the high tunnel when temperatures rise above 50 degrees, its been consistently open for days at a time. That is not the issue. The issue is the roller coaster of temperatures that have been the norm (and will most certainly return) means lots of opening and closing of it adding one more chore to a busy farmers’ to do list. We are so happy that the temps seems to be lowering! 80 degrees in December was getting to be a bit much!
Raised Beds & More
We recently re – installed our arched cattle panel trellis that is on the front side of our property. We installed metal t-posts in place of the wooden ones that were there. This Spring we hope to grow melons here so we need it to be real steady! In the beds on each side of it there are plenty of kale and other greens growing currently. Recently the snow peas that are climbing there have also begun to produce. These along with existing ones planted in the high tunnel means there will be plenty for your family as well as ours! Look out for these on the listings page this month!
This month we had large harvests of spinach and arugula. Spinach has been used rapidly in cooking and in salads for the family. Don’t worry we also shared! Some of the arugula was dehydrated using our new dehydrator.
We were really excited to see the Fall and Winter months coming because we really missed our greens. Currently we are growing as many of them as the soil can support! We are growing green, red giant, and purple stemmed mustards, collards, salad turnips, arugula, and about 5 different varieties of kale! We are working hard to keep the worms off so that we can all enjoy the little piece of Winter goodness that nature allows us. You can find all of these goodies over on our Listings page.
This month we will be planting radishes, kohlrabi, fennel, bunching onions, & more! Now you guys know we pride ourselves on growing year round but even we have to admit its a bit difficult and can be overwhelming. One way that we keep things manageable is by doing our best to keep to our planting schedule and keeping a good stock of seeds. See how we inventory and reorder each season here.
Well the chickens are doing great! Somehow despite the decreased daylight they are still keeping us supplied with enough eggs for our family. Just this past week we even experienced the highest amount of eggs harvested per day since we got them back in April. We attribute this to the fact that our brooder hen Shrill – x has started back laying and one of her first hatchlings – Zag has also begun laying! We are beyond grateful and as we have extra we will place these on the Listings page as they come available.
The first phase of the run extension is underway! We are adding more protected space for the chickens to forage. In our area large birds of prey are a frequent sight. While we would love to have them free range it just isn’t a safe option. We work hard though to make sure they have all the extra nutrients they need to be happy & healthy members of the Bain Home Gardens team. They eat many herbs from the garden. We jokingly say that we are just pre-seasoning our eggs! The also get extra protein! I mean, what do you think happened to all those worms?! We are currently editing a flock update for the YouTube channel.
We finally settled on a name for our rabbit flock. Yep – Simba’s Pride! Yes, we know a group of bunnies is not considered a pride but we love the pun and are gonna roll with it! Little Simba is not so little anymore. He is growing so fast! I picked him up the other day like whoa – YOU PUT ON WEIGHT! He is quite a healthy boy. Recently he got his first taste of spinach. At first he was iffy about it but he quickly warmed up to the idea. We are happy he did! In the upcoming months we will introduce more veggies to him and Gizmo. You have to slowly introduce new items to them so as not to upset their tummies too much. Just like us they have preferences too. One may love spinach while another may prefer fennel. It is really cute getting to know their little personalities!
Simba also got the opportunity to take his first what we are calling, “bunny walk”. Basically what we did was purchase him a halter with leash. So far we have only been following him around the yard to the grass patches he is interested in eating. We want to eventually get to the point where we can lead him but we realize that will take some time. He is such a smart boy. We will get there.
On January first, Gizmo turned 2 months old. She is the cutest little ball of fur ever! We just introduced her to Simba. We supervised and they got to know each other a bit. Eventually they will be bred together. Can you imagine how beautiful the Calico Lionheads that will result will be?! We look forward to the future with all its furry cuteness!
Being cute is not the only job these fur babies have. They have the responsibility to provide fertilizer for the farm! We collect and compost their manure. As we add more rabbits to the pride we will be able to make this valuable commodity available to our community. We do not have a time table on that but stay tuned!
Unboxings, Setups, & Reviews
This one area is new to me. Admittedly I appreciate watching these type of videos because they educate me and help me decide what products are a good fit for our farm & our family. Well we have been adding more products to facilitate easier homesteading because isn’t it more fun if its easier? Of course and we are more likely to stick with it! We know it will never be “easy” but with certain reliable products we can take the complicated factor out. Our goal for the coming year it to increase food production for ourselves and having the means to process our produce items into usable staples is vital. Another goal is also to buy less and less items from the grocery store. We have done increasingly well with this over the last few years. We have eliminated buying relish, broth, celery, peppers, eggplant, okra, cornbread mix, jellies & jams from the grocery store, to name a few things. Going into 2022 we are hoping to eliminate buying bread – buns and loaf bread. So far we have added several bread making aids and I am really practicing making various recipes to find one that really appeals to our family. I do not want my family to feel like they are missing out on anything buy having homemade bread but I want them to look forward to it like they look forward to salsa canning day and pickled okra canning day. Trust me, those are celebratory days here! So that means mama has to go to work and prefect her technique.
In addition to the bread making tools we have added a Blue Yeti microphone to aid with our podcast and video production. We have added a Cosori dehydrator as well. We have a small Sunbeam dehydrator that we purchased for $5. It is still working but it seems to be dying. Also it does not have temperature settings. We have found that sometimes it burns certain herbs so while we still have it we are reserving it for outdoor pepper dehydration. Since all these items are important for our homestead, we have decided to review them from the small farmer/homesteader view point. These videos will be posted on our YouTube channel as they are edited. We hope our brutally honest videos help you decide if these products could be beneficial for your household too. This arena is new to us so please bear with us as we become more proficient at it.
Bread making is new to me and after only making 3 loaves I can honestly say I’m hooked. Making wheat bread is a bit more challenging. You can see my first attempt at wheat bread here.
As you can see it has been a very busy month and there are no signs of it letting up and that is just fine with us. After all, time flies when you’re homesteading! Have a great month of January – from our family to yours!
Have you checked out our December podcast episodes?