I’m stealing this idea from Erica at Northwest Edible, a weekly-ish update of what’s happening on the homestead. And I’m not getting it done on time my first week either.
There isn’t an official last frost date for our micro-climate. The old timers say don’t plant tomatoes until after the full moon in June. Then there’s climate change — the season is whackier and longer than of lore. In Salt Lake, I planted on Mothers Day in wall of waters. Here, I delay another two weeks or so, still using the wall of waters. Good thing we weren’t ready to plant this week, it snowed! Nothing stuck, but the night temps dropped to below 30 on the weather station, and a half inch of ice on the animals’ water buckets. Now it’s back to normal. We spent a good part of Sunday getting the beds ready for the solanaceae trio of potatoes, tomatoes and peppers, pulling out weeds and piling on the goat manure.
We came out of the winter with four healthy bee hives. Now our beekeeping style most closely resembles benign neglect, so we hadn’t looked in on them in about a month. Right before the storm, our neighbors had one of their hives swarm. Another beekeeping friend had had a swarm a few days earlier. Three of the four hives we wintered over came out pretty strong, the fourth one was split last year and was fine but not huge. On Monday we put on the bee suits and check on everybody, even though the weather conditions were challenging. Two of the hives needed emergency action, so we split those. It was too windy to find the queen and with the storm coming, we just gave each hive half of the brood and half of the honey. Whichever one didn’t get the queen will have to make a new one. The other two older hives and the two new ones (we had 6, now 8) need new supers, we spent the rest of the afternoon getting them ready, but haven’t put them on yet, since it really hasn’t warmed back up again. Hopefully everyone adjusted to their new arrangements and we still have all our bees.
I made a new herb bed near the hoophouse gate, firmly in Zone 1 in permaculture principles, finally had some solid parsley transplants to get into the ground. For some reason, I have a terrible time getting parsley of all things established here. The garlic is doing amazingly well this year, in a bed that got a lot of manure last year and was well-mulched in the fall.
Stepping into the confessional moment: I transplanted the last of the nursery plants I ordered and should have done weeks ago. If any survive, it will be because of life’s intrinsic resilience and good luck, not my brilliant husbandry. They are in pots in the hoophouse along with the apple grafts, sheltered from the wind.
R noticed Friday evening that the turkey hens hatched their chicks! We had given up on them, because their shared nest had flooded out twice during our neighbors’ irrigation mishaps (note for next year, move the nest boxes to higher ground). The eggs had been submerged in cold water for who knows how long and we figured they were duds. But the girls stuck with them and now are co-parenting seven adorable little poults. Ben is being a protective father and even the last two chickens in the orchard aren’t bothering them. Yay girls!
In Wyatt’s 16th week, he learned to ring the bell by the back door, the one Carson uses to ask to go out. He hasn’t quite associated it with anything other than treats. We are so close to being done with house training. The little punk doesn’t whine when he wants something, he makes a gruff sound that’s halfway between a growl and a bark. “I’m being thwarted and I don’t like it!” is how he wakes up in the crate, lets us know he’s hungry or wants out. It’s hilarious, really.
Sunday night irrigation, split evenly between the two orchards. We still are operating on full water. At some point each spring, the water level in the river drops and the water master for the Fremont River irrigation companies tells us how much we have to start dialing it back. In drier years, it would have already happened. So far so good, and this last storm likely helped stall it even longer. There’s something beautiful about seeing all that water sheet across your land.
Next week is forecast to start warming up, and then it will really get busy around here.