Homestead Diary for Mid/Late June 2016

I’ve been remiss in posting. Last week I felt like there wasn’t a whole lot to update, now this week has exploded with activity. We joined a homeschooling group, which has been fun so far. I have worked several hard, very sweaty days over the past two weeks on the new garden – or should I maybe call it our micro-farm? I’m very pleased with how things are growing out there (pictures below) and am already considering how I will use the new space next season.

The kids and I picked 77 pounds of strawberries on Friday and we’ve eaten or processed almost 70 of them already. I’ve frozen 5 gallons of whole berries, made 7 half-pints of strawberry rhubarb jam, 4 pints of my ‘strawberry sauce’, have run one whole Excalibur dehydrator load and have another humming along behind me as I write this.

A view of the fenced garden area. I'm pleased with how everything is growing inside, while some of the squash I was hoping to trellis on the outside has been killed by my friend's free-range birds.

A view of the fenced garden area. I’m pleased with how everything is growing inside, while some of the squash I was hoping to trellis on the outside has been killed by my friend’s free-range birds.

Delicata squash.

Delicata squash.

Zucchini getting ready to flower soon. This is the only large plant there right now, but many others are sprouting.

Zucchini getting ready to flower soon. This is the only large plant there right now, but many others are sprouting.

A nice looking cluster of peas that's just coming into bloom.

A nice looking cluster of peas that’s just coming into bloom.

Broccoli getting very close to harvest. Two of the heads will get picked in a day or so.

Broccoli getting very close to harvest. Two of the heads will get picked in a day or so.

First bloom on the patch of Provider bush green bean I planted there. Provider has not liked the dirt I brought in to fill my raised beds, but it is growing very well out there.

First bloom on the patch of Provider bush green bean I planted there. Provider has not liked the dirt I brought in to fill my raised beds, but it is growing very well out there.

Another view of the Provider planting.

Another view of the Provider planting.

The tomatoes I transplanted looked so sad initially but are really coming around. Only one or two have not made it.

The tomatoes I transplanted looked so sad initially but are really coming around. Only one or two have not made it.

A far away view of the giant haybale pumpkin patch, with the lane I keep mowed through the tall grass.

A far away view of the giant haybale pumpkin patch, with the lane I keep mowed through the tall grass.

One of the better looking Sweet Meat plants.

One of the better looking Sweet Meat plants.

Waltham Butternut progress.

Waltham Butternut progress.

The new garden area, freshly mowed down except for a final 8 feet or so to the right of the camera.

The new garden area, freshly mowed down except for a final 8 feet or so to the right of the camera.

Progress on the beds so far. Mowing the tall grass took much longer than I expected with the equipment I have.

Progress on the beds so far. Mowing the tall grass took much longer than I expected with the equipment I have.

Waltham seedlings growing amidst a buckwheat cover crop.

Waltham seedlings growing amidst a buckwheat cover crop.

I thought it was time for a new far-away shot of the garden at my house.

I thought it was time for a new far-away shot of the garden at my house.

Broccoli bed that has been almost all harvested. I'm leaving the leaves for now and slowly harvesting them to feed the rabbits. We got some volunteer tomatoes I'm allowing to grow.

Broccoli bed that has been almost all harvested. I’m leaving the leaves for now and slowly harvesting them to feed the rabbits. We got some volunteer tomatoes I’m allowing to grow.

Raspberry patch. The summer crop of berries will be ripe any day now.

Raspberry patch. The summer crop of berries will be ripe any day now.

A view of the berry hedgerow I planted earlier this year. The honeyberries have not put on any growth but the elderberries are starting to grow a little.

A view of the berry hedgerow I planted earlier this year. The honeyberries have not put on any growth but the elderberries are starting to grow a little.

A bed of broccoli that didn't survive, now replanted into green beans.

A bed of broccoli that didn’t survive, now replanted into green beans.

A view of the fenced garden area.

A view of the fenced garden area.

First blooms on the Royal Burgundy bush beans.

First blooms on the Royal Burgundy bush beans.

Some of our snap peas. These will be ready in a day or two.

Some of our snap peas. These will be ready in a day or two.

A happy hydrangea. Our other perennial flowers (mainly Shasta daisies and Rudbeckia) will be blooming within the next week.

A happy hydrangea. Our other perennial flowers (mainly Shasta daisies and Rudbeckia) will be blooming within the next week.

Strawberries that haven't been molested by the wildlife yet.

Strawberries that haven’t been molested by the wildlife yet.

One of the carrot beds. Growth has been very uneven but we should get carrots eventually.

One of the carrot beds. Growth has been very uneven but we should get carrots eventually.

A view down the side of the garden.

A view down the side of the garden.

Our comfrey root cuttings. I need to get these transplanted into their final locations soon.

Our comfrey root cuttings. I need to get these transplanted into their final locations soon.

Normally our zucchini sends up male blossoms for a week before any females show up, but this one has a female flower already forming.

Normally our zucchini sends up male blossoms for a week before any females show up, but this one has a female flower already forming (the fatter stem that resembles a mini zucchini on the blossom at the center of the picture; male flowers form on thin stems)

One of the tomato and pepper beds.

One of the tomato and pepper beds.

Early green tomato. This is a Ramapo.

Early green tomato. This is a Ramapo.

I think these are flower buds forming on an elderberry. A few have flower buds forming.

I think these are flower buds forming on an elderberry. A few have flower buds forming.

Our older cherry tree did not put on much growth last year but is really blowing up this year. Looking forward to tasting the cherries on it next month if the wildlife lets us!

Our older cherry tree did not put on much growth last year but is really blowing up this year. Looking forward to tasting the cherries on it next month if the wildlife lets us!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!


Homestead Diary Week Ending June 3rd

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Little known fact: Amazon delivers rabbits (no, not really)

This week we harvested our first broccoli and strawberries. Yum! In fact, I’m writing this after the kids helped harvest a good handful of berries from the garden as I snapped some of the photos you’ll see below. We’re losing some to the robins and the slugs but there’s enough to share.

A bigger development this week is the arrival of two new rabbits, including our first buck. The buck has strong Rex looks to him, similar to one of our does. The other doe looks very much like a New Zealand Red, which is an excellent meat breed. For sure we are going to let the buck settle in for a week or two before breeding. I haven’t decided whether to try and breed before we go on vacation or wait until we get back.

Our doe "Caramel".

Our doe “Caramel”.

Our buck "Ice Cream"

Our buck “Ice Cream”

The rabbitry so far. I assembled the two new cages from ready-to-assemble kits (wire pieces are cut, just need to J-clip them together).

The rabbitry so far. I assembled the two new cages from ready-to-assemble kits (wire pieces are cut, just need to J-clip them together). I’ve never used J-clips before but they’re not too bad once you get the hang of it. 

These rabbits are also from Homestead Buddy. He’s decided he’s just done with rabbits. Another homesteading friend took a breeding pair and he kept two of the smaller rabbits neither of us wanted to eat. Part of our informal agreement is that we’d give him breeding stock if he ever decided to get back into rabbits in the future.

The day we were out there I planted tomatoes and numerous squash. I forgot to bring my camera so I’ll post pictures from that garden next week.

Another update is a pretty neat letterhead/business card design a friend helped me put together after I posted a mockup online. “Fat Robin Farms” isn’t much of a business yet but I thought I’d share this next development:

Fat Robin letterhead final

Here’s some more pictures:

Baby raspberries forming

Baby raspberries forming

First pea blossoms.

First pea blossoms.

May (and now June) have been very warm. Many of our pea plants look like this

May (and now June) have been very warm. Many of our pea plants look like this instead of the healthier plant pictured above. 

You know what that is ;)

You know what that is 😉

Sunflower.

Sunflower.

One of our best looking zucchini. Not all of them are this happy.

One of our best looking zucchini. Not all of them are this happy.

A few of our purchased tomatoes have started blooming. This is an Amish Paste, the others in bloom are Ramapos.

A few of our purchased tomatoes have started blooming. This is an Amish Paste, the others in bloom are Ramapos.

The frame of our coop, 100% scavenged lumber. I will have to buy a few materials to finish it, which is tentatively my Sunday project for next week.

The frame of our coop, 100% scavenged lumber. I will have to buy a few materials to finish it, which is tentatively my Sunday project for next week.