The grass plays patchwork on the farm this time of year. There are no flowers to share their glorious garments. The trees leaves reside on the ground where it seems wind and gravity have so purposefully placed them. Their branches, naked stand in expectation of what is to come in a matter of weeks. We learn a multitude of lessons from nature. What we learn from the trees is patience. Wait. It all comes back around in due time. The sky, every changing, however, manages to capture so much beauty all at once. With all it hues of blue, orange, pink, and purple, it has observed many highs and lows at our corner of the universe over the last month.
We were absolutely exhilarated to see freezing temperatures on the forecast in December. If you are following our journey then you are aware of the constant struggle we have with certain pests. Aphids in particular have become the reoccurring nightmare that tortures us year after year. This Winter, thanks to the Artic blast that brought consistent freezing and below temperatures for days at a time, we received respite, however brief. When temperatures began to rise we noted a heavy presence of ladybugs in the high tunnel, all over the farm in fact! These little creatures waged the next battle in our war of pushing back the aphid population. They are quite adept at their job and have very healthy appetites. We are more than grateful for the assistance.
In September we took on the challenge of growing our own onion starts from seed. It was less of a challenge really and more of a test of our patience. While we waited for most our own starts to reach appropriate planting size, (some varieties grew notably faster than others) we ordered from our usual suppliers. These were already planted in various beds throughout the farm and in the high tunnel when the Winter storm hit our town. We lost 90% of those purchased starts and about 20% of what we grew from seed. This even after we took the time to cover beds with frost protection. It was just far too cold. The frigid temperatures along with high winds secured their fate. This was a blow to our yearly harvest plan. Onions sold well at the Farmers Market last year so we hoped to have enough for this season for returning customers, enough for our family to make use of, and even more to dehydrate and use in our spice blends. Rolling with the punches we simply replanted some of the areas that experienced losses with our own starts as they are all good sized now. They have been replanted in the Olle raised bed on which we plan to install hoops for a more secure protection should our temperatures drop & remain below freezing again this Winter.
In the high tunnel things were not as severe however there were losses. Our Snow peas took the biggest hit. They had only about 2 more weeks or so of heavy production before they would have tapered off. Still, we wanted those harvests to stock the freezer with these delicious legumes. It is what it is. Soon we will be enjoying the fruit of our last succession planting of snow peas since they managed to survive the freeze. How? Well the first couple of days of the storm the wind was high. We were not aware until too late that in one area of the high tunnel the plastic was ripped from the rail & wiggle wire. The space was only about 2 feet or so. Through those 2 feet concentrated, wintry air flowed freely down the right side of the high tunnel killing most of the producing peas. Also on the right side was dill that also took a hit. Thankfully, with some time, much of the dill has recovered along with the fennel which happened to be on the left side. The fennel is greening back up beautifully however the bulbs may be stunted. Time will tell. Celery – Chinese Pink & White – had some damage. The rabbits readily accepted those damaged leaves. After some fertilizing with fish emulsion, it also bounced back, put on new growth and much of it is being harvested as needed for customers and for our own personal use.
Our citrus fruit trees that we were storing in the high tunnel certainly did not approve of the cold, specifically the grapefruit tree. She lost all of her leaves however she is putting on new ones. The tangerine tree responded a tad bit better. Pear trees of course are very cold hardy and have since found their forever home on the farm.
Cauliflower, broccoli, and collards planted in the raised beds died. The collards likely because they had been transplanted just a couple of weeks before and had not been established enough to endure. All of these will be restarted from seed this month and planted in February for a Spring harvest.
Mustard greens seemed absolutely unphased by the cold. The existing mustards along with the succession planted younger plants are doing very well. Green mustards are available on the shop page. Mizuna mustard in the high tunnel took off after the freeze. We think it is because the pests that were feeding on it died giving it every opportunity to do what it does best. You can find it now on our shop page.
We were very happy with how well the chickens and rabbits faired throughout the subzero temps. Our Olive Eggers and Easter Eggers both began laying this month. Out of 22 hens all except perhaps one (our rescued Barred Rock who we believe to be too old to lay) are of laying age. With it being Winter of course production is lower. Our new layers are eager to lay so we are getting 8-10 eggs a day. This allows us to have enough for us each week and a couple dozen to share with our friends & subscribers. Considering what is going on in the grocery stores right now, this make us very happy. We will come back to that.
Our Giant Chinchilla buck, Sonny, seems to think I control the weather. During the freezing temps he was very unhappy with me that week, even refusing pets and bunny boops that he usually embraces. Oh how I do wish I had control over the weather! Then again, it maybe best to leave such things out of human control. He has been mated to Cher (Giant Chinchilla) and Sweet Pea (Lionhead/Angora). We hope to have kits in February. It is rather exciting and nerver wrecking to be entering this new arena. We have already experienced some losses which is very sad but that does come with the territory.
From Our Garden To Yours
When we began gardening with just our family in mind, we spent a lot of money on fertilizer. Organic this, organic that… the wallet was broken! While we are not allowed to use it directly on our garden areas due to our CNG certification, you should feel free to. It is not a hot manure and adds valuable nutrients to the garden. With an NPK of 2.4-1.4-.6. it is easy to use and will not burn your crops. If you are looking to grow a Spring garden, now is a good time to work it into the soil. Our rabbit manure is now available for shipping. For local delivery we are offering our rabbit manure tea which we aptly call Bunny Brew by BHG. It is sold by the gallon. It is great for use on your plants as they are in the growth stage however we do not suggest using on leafy greens for contamination issues or any plant that is flowering.
Let us not forget to share with you our eggshells are also available for use in your gardens as well! The average egg shell contains about 0.3% phosphorus and 0.3% magnesium. Although they only have a small amount of sodium, potassium, zinc, manganese, iron and copper it is the high calcium content that makes them so valuable. If you experienced any blossom end rot last season, sprinkle these in your garden beds right away as they do take a while to decompose. We have sped the process up some by decreasing the surface area by pulsing these into fine pieces. If you need immediate assistance you may consider using them to create a tea. We will show you how to do this over on our YouTube channel in the next month. If you have not already, please subscribe to our channel.
In planning for the new season there is so much we want to do that we are bubbling over with excitement! One thing that is exciting is our Flowers by BHG subscription for Spring 2023. We anticipate many colors and varieties for the upcoming season. We have already planted many bulbing perennial flowers as well as some annuals. Tentatively, the Spring session will run from April 3rd – May 1st. These dates are subject to change depending on weather conditions. Since we are starting early Spring, many of our flowers are being started now and will be grown in Hoopty. Weekly we are starting many seeds to create beautiful arrangements for your homes and businesses. In addition to flowers our arrangements include edible herbs. These are very aromatic and give you the added benefit of use at your leisure. We hope that you will consider signing up for this exciting, educational subscription!
We had to take an extensive break from our MICROgreens by BHG after catching COVID. Thanks to our extremely understanding subscribers we were able to recuperate without the burden of worrying about deliveries. We are happy to announce we are opening up subscriptions again for Spring 2023. Dates for the Spring session will run from April 3rd – May 15th. We love how versatile the microgreen is. All in our family love them. Just the other day our daughter was rummaging the refrigerator looking for some for a wrap. It is a nice way to add a refreshing crisp to sandwiches and wraps.
Eggs are a huge commodity now days. With the avian flu taking out so many bird, prices of eggs are on the rise. As a result many have reached out to us looking to pay cheaper prices. We do need to take a moment and address this. Before the avian flu our large 12 count eggs was already $6. Our entire farm is certified naturally grown. This means everything we grow and everything our chickens eat is certified organic. At this point in life they eat better than us! From the feed to the garden scraps that they receive… everything is organic! Traditional feed prices have been on the rise for a while so imagine what has happened with organic feed prices! For this reason our eggs may seem higher in cost however this does not even begin to cover the cost of feed. It does provide some funds to put back into the feed bill making our chicken operation more sustainable. For now, that is the best we can hope for. We hope that things improve soon with the egg market. We also hope that you understand a little better why our prices are what they are. Although we didn’t go into great detail about wood prices, fencing, and other things that have also been subject to inflation, we think you get the idea.
Prices are all over the place. Up and up (seldomly down)! How would you like to secure your egg prices for six weeks? Well we are happy to announce Eggs by BHG our new egg subscription! Enjoy six weeks of eggs delivered to your doorstep! We are so excited but also very nervous to help our community in this way. We go to great lengths to keep our chickens healthy and happy so they continuously offer us beautiful golden yolks. Since we and our birds are new to this we are starting very small allotment with hope to expand later. You may wonder what is the benefit of the subscription verses buying eggs as needed. One outstanding benefit is that our subscribers get 14 eggs per week instead of 12. That is 2 free eggs each week. If you do the math that is one free dozen of eggs! Our farm is all about spreading knowledge. This subscription also locks you into weekly emails teaching you a bit about your beautiful yolks and how we care for our flocks organically. If this is something you have any interest in, we advise you to secure your subscription right away! In keeping everything as streamline as possible, dates will be April 3rd – May 8th, running alongside microgreen and flower subscriptions. There is a possibility we will do a Fall subscription but that will depend largely on how the hens are doing and how Spring goes. Check out our complete terms and conditions here.
We know we have just thrown a lot of new listings your way but we are not finished yet! If you have interest in flowers, microgreens, and eggs then we would like to offer you our BHG 3-6-5 subscription. It is a bundle of all three subscriptions we currently offer. This subscription saves you $15!
Well, friends, that is all for now. Thank you for you loyal support. Sending well wishes – from our family to yours!