So like most farms and farmers the summer is the busiest time and doing updates is sometimes put very low on the priority list. So here is my mid-summer update about everything that is going on at the farm
This year has been a total surprise! The ground I put the garden on was not the best to say the least and I had very little hope of it being productive at all. Add in the fact that I have never had any luck with grow my own starts I figured that this year would just be a mulligan. Turns out I was wrong on all accounts. First the indoor start did great! So good I gave half of them away and have accelerated my plans for expanding the garden for next year.
Also On a fun side-note I was able to get access to some neat tech. I have a FLIR camera on loan that I can use to see the heat and the effects of the sun on my garden. There is a lot of art and science that goes with reading these images but my hope is that I can use them to better plan my garden. But at the very least the tech is fun to use and makes for some awesome pictures.
There was a close call with one of the birds but as of today all 8 birds are doing great! Still no eggs but if my calculations are correct they should start laying in the next week or two. I have come to an agreement with the people around me that if the chicken smell gets too much they come to me first to deal with it before going to the authorities. It will only cost me a dozen eggs every now and then.
Sadly this has become very challenging. Not the practice of brewing but finding the supplies. There really isn't any local sources and ordering online is time consuming and tedious. Not much I can do about this except stock up on supplies when I go to the "big" cities. (the joys of living in rural areas). On a positive note this weekend we are going berry picking so I might have enough left over berries to brew up some fruit wine and beer.
"All work and no play..." I don't remember the rest of the quote but I do know that this summer has had an even mix of both. My two older daughters are in baseball and my Wife and I have been drafted as coach we are having fun but it really takes up a lot of our free and farm time. But for the smiles we get it makes it all worth while!
We have also taken to making a tree house for the kids on the island. This has been a very slow process because we are having trouble transporting lumber to the island. A few years back a forester friend of mine suggested that I set up a lumber mill on the island property. I didn't put much merit in
the idea at first but after this I'm going to take a much closer look and see if I can make it happen. (Side Note this photo is not up to date! We do have supports and subfloor installed but I forgot to get a picture will update when I can)
I think that is everything so far this summer that has been going on. I hope things will calm down so I can do more updates but I know that's a silly hope. So I wouldn't expect another update until the end of summer.
(Of course end of summer involves harvest, hunting, and canning so.... yeah... WINTER UPDATE???)
The chickens are doing GREAT!! We had only one minor hiccup when one of the chickens got run over while moving the coop. I thought her leg was broken and I was going to have to but her down but thankfully she seems to have healed up. Beside that one hit and run with the chicken tractor skies (lesson learned and corrected) the PVC works wonders for moving and protecting the coop. I still need to add some handles to make moving the coop more ergonomic and easier on my back, but hopefully I can get to that this weekend.
I let the people next door know that we have chickens and they seen alright with the idea. I asked them that if me having chickens does become a problem to talk to me first instead of the cops. They agreed if I gave them a dozen eggs every now and then they would agree to my terms. Now if they would just start laying eggs!
Every year it seems I get less and less patient for the birds to start laying. If I do have to start from scratch again with a new set of birds I'm tempted to spend the extra money to get older birds that are either already laying or will be soon. It's funny how as I get older I become more patient with some thing (my kids for example) and less patient with others (Chickens and Gardens). Thankfully with a batch of fresh cider all bottled and ready for drinking I might find an aid with my patients problem.
Well for the first time I finally have indoor starts that have made it all the way to being ready to plant outside. My two little girls help must have been want I have been missing. If all goes well and the rain can hold off I will be transplanting these tomatoes tonight after work. Sadly the garden isn't as nice or set up as well as I had hoped but the only chance of getting a harvest-able crop before the first frost is if I plant now (The UP has a super short growing season and from what I heard it will be extra short this year). Nothing is funner than planning in the dirt after a long day at work!
The cider is doing GREAT!!! It had a little slow start but to be fair I used some old yeast I found while moving so that really isn't a surprise but now the air lock is firing like it is one full auto and it should be ready for bottling in about a week or so. If you might have noticed from the picture I have my next brew started. I have always wanted to try dandelion wine and thanks to a trip to sugar island I can check that off my list of wines to try to make. Not sure how it will taste but seeing that I have never had dandelion I will have to share it with someone who is an "expert". Anyone out there fit that bill and want some free wine to test.
It took a lot longer than I had planned but its finally DONE!! (OK so I still have some clutter to throw out and a utility sink to install) I can now start brewing beer, wine, cider, yogurt, and cheese in my new set up. If all goes well and thanks to a meeting in Marquette this week so I could get the supplies I should be starting a batch of cider this weekend and bottling it by Memorial Day.
So the time finally came to get the chickens out of the brooder (and our house) and into the real world. Normally I build my own coop but this year I got called away suddenly for a week long training and the only way to have someone look after the chicks was if they were outside. So off to Tractor Supply I went to buy a coop and $250 later my chickens have a new home. The coop is great and I have not complaints but as you might notice from the pictures I couldn't help but make some after market modifications to the coop.
Every year we try to move the coop around the yard to a new location frequently. This cuts down on the chicken smell that can get us in trouble for the people on the other side of the fence, but it is also much healthier for the chickens. This year I decided to try something new. I made a PVC sled for the coop to ride on. To my surprise it works GREAT! It makes moving the coop solo possible and has the added benefit of protecting the wood on the bottom coop from rot, so in theory this should help my coop last longer. The only addition I"m going to make is some PVC uprights at both ends to give me a better lifting/pushing point.
If all goes well I should be getting the raised bed gardens installed this weekend. Not planted mind you because even though it's the middle of May SNOW is in the forecast. But so far the chickens are happy, the kids are having fun and some day soon summer will get here.
Well it would appear that my two young helpers do have the
green thumb that I lack in growing my own starts. So far they are sprouting well
and it looks like only a hand full of them are duds. There is still plenty of
time for something to go sideways or have an adverse non-preventable
interaction (ie the dog knocks them over or a child waters them with juice
and/or milk) But out of all my past attempts this one has had the best
progress. Hopefully the weather keeps improving and I’m able to start breaking
ground on the future homes for these starts.
Literally we were driving through town after finishing our
weekly shopping. My wife and I were making small talk when the topic of my
workshop came up and how I was finally able to get it unpacked and cleaned up.
Not sure who said it first but one of us jokingly said “It’s clean enough that
we could brood chickens down there” The rest of the trip is a blur but all I do
know is we now have 8 chicks we are brooding out and a lot of happy children.
So after a 3 long years working at the mines my contract ended and it's time to move on (and move back). The time I spent working at the mine was AWESOME and changed my life and how I view the world. The U.P. was build on mining and logging and to be a part of that heritage is very humbling and eye opening to the struggles that it took to carve out a life here in Northern Michigan in the early days. I always have a much better understanding of SISU
But as a farm-boy at heart I'm excited to start growing plants and meat again. So back to my urban farm and hopefully a recharge to my post here on Yooper Farmer. With the snow melting and warmer temperatures coming we are already gearing up for this summers growing season. The three younger members of my family helped me get my indoor starts ready. I'm hoping that one of them has the magic green thumb because as I have learned multiple times from years past growing my own starts has NEVER been one of my strengths.
Keep checking back because with the warm weather and having more weekends off things should be happening rapidly and I'm going to try to remember to keep the blog current with all the excitement and activities on the Q Homestead.