This month marks our first six months on the homestead completed.
The past two weeks have been mostly all about the harvest. I am spending a lot of long evenings preserving food. Everything is looking mighty tasty but I am frustrated by the amount of time I am stuck in the kitchen and can see very clearly that with better equipment, I could cut this time in half (or more). It is quite pleasing to see the shelves filling up.
The pigs are fattening up nicely on a mix of organic fermented feed and vegetables from the garden. We discovered a slew of wild apple trees so most recently it’s been an all you can eat buffet of apples. We got tired of zucchini a few weeks ago, and having done about all I can with it in the form of pickling, cooking, baking and freezing so they have been getting loads of zucchini as well.
The chickens are healthy. They enjoy organic feed and vegetables. I was quite surprised to see that they ate the sour wild apples I tossed into their run yesterday. They put themselves to bed at night and have a pretty consistent, self-established routine. Other than the routine cleaning and the occasional bickering they are not much trouble. It will be nice when they start producing some eggs though!
As for the Quail, Ryan has quail eggs in the incubator and will be raising some for meat. His quail are producing eggs, usually seven per day. Having the right cage for quail is essential so we built them new ones, and they work really well. We get 6-8 eggs per day pretty nice considering the chickens are still free loading, but I am not convinced that keeping animals in cages is how we want to do things around here.
I just planted a small fall garden in the greenhouse with kale, radish, spinach and a few other cold weather crops. Anything extra that I can grow before the ground freezes will be a welcomed bonus this year. All I have left is to get the garlic planted but my seed has not arrived yet. Our harvests this year were bountiful but it will not carry us through the winter.
Every day brings new lessons and I gratefully accept them all. Most often the lessons bring comic relief, so we are pretty lucky. I am thankful that our animals are healthy and that our organic and natural methods for feeding and caring for them are working. I am thrilled that our food production was good, and that a lot more more went right than went wrong in the garden. There is a lot more to learn, and caring for animals in the winter is something we have yet to experience.
I am still in awe of my surroundings, this part of New Brunswick is spectacular in its beauty. As I stand on the porch looking at the deeply forested rolling hills around us (and not a mosquito in sight) I am in heaven. We have taken time to dive into our surroundings and explore. We have been out on the ATV with our neighbor (king of the trails) exploring. The trails around here are maintained by good people on their own initiative who simply appreciate what is there. The trails take us through old logging roads, past corn,soy,wheat fields, through lush forests, valleys, and past wild apple trees that I greedily plan to raid. I have also finally stood in front of the “Big Pine” that we can see from our house, the trunk measures 14.5 feet!
We have a lot to complete before winter, a goat barn/shelter, the quail house, the land needs to be prepared for crops, and loads of food needs to be preserved. I keep making lists. Me and my lists. But tonight we are going to sit back with a cocktail, a book and watch the sunset (once the animals are all tucked in for the night of course).