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Raised in a Barn…

Day-to-Day Life of a Country Mama

New Yard Addiction

We had been talking about rounding off our yard by adding a section of field. It is now done! We are trying a new kind of woven wire that came in a roll. It’s more flexible than what I’m used to, but reviews say it works well and it was simpler to haul home.

Travis drove metal posts down the stretch. Then we put three wooden posts in to help long-run stability against the scratching of cows. We will also mow one strip of field outside the fence to keep the cows from having reason to graze right up on it. The wire is a couple inches from the ground so they won’t be able to reach under.

Travis (with a little help from me) hung a four-foot aluminum gate for closing off the opening to the yard. We picked a section that worked well for clipping the wire fence. Travis drilled through the post and installed the hardware. Once the gate was hung, he cut the wire section and we secured the ends of the panel and barbed wire strand on the bottom.

Overall, it looks like it will work well. We will test it when the cows get moved back onto the south side of the property. If I get to turning ground soon, I may be able to sneak a fall crop of corn into it.…. More on that later though!

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No Extra Time

These last couple of weeks have flown by. Our garden took off and is getting ready to start yielding most of the varieties planted. I have been spending almost an hour most mornings checking the broccoli for pests. I’ll get into that more later. We have gotten our first head of broccoli and zucchini will follow shortly.

We have also been busy with hay season, which has come early this year. We are already hauling from our bottom field. We usually don’t get to it until July. It has been an unseasonably cool June; it was almost chilly finishing yesterday.

We will hopefully finish the field today. I also have a few things around the house and in the garden to do. For now, breakfast has to be made ready for the rising of the children.

May Garden

The garden is beginning to look decent. I will be replanting several things because of the heavy rains in April we had; it seemed too soggy for a good number of the seeds to sprout. Then, right as part of them were sprouting, we had the most substantial hail storm we’ve had in quite awhile, so I lost a few to that as well.

That being said, the broccoli still have decent numbers. They sustained a good amount of damage, but I only lost a couple. The new growth in the past week has hidden most of it.

We did loose one of the tomato plants we were given to the hail; the stem was snapped off. The rest of them are coming right along. (None of my seed sprouted so I’ll be completely replanting.)

The strawberries are looking good! I will now stop pinching off the berries and allow them to put fruit on. We have only lost one of the plants we bought from Starks. I believe that loss was because its location was a little too shady when it was first planted.

The parsley is looking good as is my peppermint start by my herb tank. I’m going to have to reseed all my other herbs though. We were given part of an onion set, so we have a couple rows of them.

Out of the squash seeds that I planted, a little over half of them came up. Two of the cucumbers came up. The cantaloupe took the biggest hit; only half of the seeds sprouted and then several sprouts were killed by the hail.

There is some definite work ahead for replanting. I think I might have figured out a sprouting area for my herbs that I’ll plant as companion plants so I don’t have to fight the mulch back from them. Hopefully, before long everything will look as great as the broccoli does right now!

Orchard Update

I’m pretty happy with most everything we have planted. The apple trees (photo below) have all taken off except one that I waited too long on taking out a bush that was casting too much shade. I am continuing to clean up the separate area they are planted in. I think I might have isolated a wild grape vine in the same area too. (There is even what is hopefully a large section of blackberries not far from them too!)

The pear trees look good. The bare-rooted Bartlett seems to be taking off just as well as the potted Moonglow. The peach trees are incredible after their pruning. I had to pinch some fruit off. Next year, I hope to let them produce some. I’m afraid the banana tree isn’t coming back. I thought I had it mulched over well enough, but it must of gotten too cold on our hillside for that to work. I should have dug it up and brought it in after all.

The blueberry bushes are staying steady. I’d worried about the Darrow when it lost a good number of leaves, but then it put a head on the top of its branches like a flower and began regrowing leaves. I’m still thinking I’ll add some more peat moss to the ground around them though.

Lastly, the grape vines are coming along beautifully. I am already plotting my first pruning come winter and which branch I will leave to become the trunk. I went ahead and ran the wires to support them. The lowest one will be moved as they grow older; this is a precaution in case the young vines need it, but mostly to keep the girls from wandering in and out too close to the vines.

I’m excited that most everything is coming along nicely. I am hoping to soon weed a wider area and add fertilizer and mulch around them to further feed their growth.

Post Delay

I’m sorry I haven’t posted much! I haven’t had much time to write with so much going on. I will soon give updates on where all of our plantings are at. We took care of the full farm for two weeks while my parents went on an early anniversary trip.

While I took care of the cattle, we had three calves born (below is one of them). They were mostly no work other than going to check on the last one because it was the heifer’s first calf and she hadn’t brought the calf up to the feed lot. (She stayed with it off in the tree line, out of sight.) I did have to chase a couple out of the raspberry patches so their mamas could find them.

I did have one situation that could have gone bad. I was walking up to the garden when I caught sight of a calf that looked like it was on the wrong side of the feed lot gate. As I walked closer, I realized it was on the wrong side. It apparently had rolled under our yard fence and walked along until it wandered into the open gate of the feed lot. I was able to close the yard side gate of the lot and shoo it out the field side. I’m still so thankful it wandered into the right place since herding that small of a calf is about as effective as herding a cat: you might as well just pick it up and carry it where it needs to go!

It was a busy two weeks, but they went well. Now we can all fall back into our normal routines. Maybe I can begin on the extra work around the place that I want to get done.

Finished Field Fence

I finished the hayfield side of our yard fence that was broken. I ended up setting one more cedar post by hand because the middle one I thought was decently solid was in fact rotted off in the hole. I’m glad I rechecked it when I was getting the materials together.

I was able to use the extra boards we’ve had for some time. I actually mounted them by myself using a pallet stand to hold the one side while I held the other. I had to move it a couple of times on the boards behind the wheels. Getting it level and between knots on posts for fastening was blessedly simple. Before putting a board up, I would start the screws in my end of the board to make it simple to fasten when in its place.

For the boards going up the slope, obviously the level wouldn’t work, so I measured between them to keep them even. Once all the boards were up, I fastened the wheels in place with some leftover 14 gauge wire I had.

As a final touch, I used utility hooks to hang our extra hoses on the field side to keep them out of the way. Overall, I’m very happy with how it turned out. And I’m proud that I fixed it using materials we already had. Anytime, the only expense is a new box of screws, I’m impressed with how a project turned out. Nothing like making the most of what you have!

Repaired Road Fence

We finally did it! We got our road fence for the yard repaired. Someone had been driving too fast and plowed through, taking out three sections, our front entrance with gates and a post in the fence along the hay field. The cowards snuck off without even an apology. We tidied up the mess best we could, but the real repairs had to wait for the right supples.

These supplies came when Papa had to clear some cedars that came down during winter. He and Mama helped us set four posts with the tractor’s auger. With our rocky Arkansas dirt, it made the job so much easier. (While we were at it, we helped Papa set posts and fix fence where someone else took out a long section just down from our yard along the hay field and took off. Needless to say, people drive like idiots on our dirt road, especially on the blind curve by our yard.) Papa also left me posts that would work for the crossbeams.

Using Grandpa’s remaining posts and Papa’s confirmation to understand the method, I set to work. I chose the section above to fix first because the wagon wheel would take the attention away from any possible roughness in my work. I used a chainsaw (first time) to cut two parallel lines in the post where I wanted to insert the end of the crossbeam. I had carefully measured and marked where I needed each cut for making the notches so I made all the cuts at once.

Then I used a chisel and hammer to remove the sections, creating four notched spaces in two posts. I did not get the 90 degree angle Grandpa did; mine were rounded on the interior. This kept the crossbeams from sitting as pretty as they could have, but it worked okay. I also had to use the chisel and hammer on the crossbeams’ ends to get them to fit in the notches. (I did not cut the posts for crossbeams shorter until I measured the notches and length needed to fit there.)

Once I set the crossbeams in, I secured them with three-inch screws. Finding a good location to run these was frequently a test in patience. When I was done, I leaned the wagon wheel against the crossbeams and used the old chains to fasten it in place.

Having a better rhythm for the work, I moved on to the other side of our entrance and put up the rest. It had a few rough areas, but overall I like the way it turned out for my first time doing it.

Now when we get the chance, we will hang the gates on their new posts. We also need to finish the yard fence along the hay field, where we already replaced the broken post. I will write on these later and show how it turned out.

Broccoli Starts

It may be hard to see, but below are my broccoli sprouts soon after they all sprang up. I started them in one of my tanks so I could easily put plastic over them if the weather did it’s normal back and forth thing, which it did.

A week or so after I took the picture above, I noticed a couple went missing and saw a few little chew marks on others. I thought those rolly polly bugs had dissipated from the infestation last year, but I was wrong. There are fewer but still some and they were chewing on/off my sprouts.

I jumped on transplanting them to the main garden area where I wanted them. They are now planted in rows estimated for being able to build a cover over them for protection from cabbage worms. I’ll update later on how I do this. Right now I’m thinking I’ll use screen to protect without cutting air flow. Broccoli goes to seed when it gets too hot so I certainly don’t want to aid that!

Sixty plants are now arranged and mulched. The only thing I would have done differently is I would have made slight trenches around the plants to put the mulch in. This last week, the wind has been quite strong. I’ve had to put some of the mulch back after each windier time. I may still trench for the mulch when I have a little extra time.…

Strawberry Bed

On the south end of the garden, over from my sitting area, we now have a strawberry bed. I put 25 plants in a little over two rows. Their position in the garden should make them easier to protect from bugs and birds, but we shall see how it goes.

I am going to use a combination of two trains of thought with strawberry plants. I have each row slightly hilled to make mulching between and watering easier. Every other or third year, I will allow their runners to produce a new row of plants. I planted the rows with this in mind, which took more space but will provide a good setup for the future of the bed. I’m not sure how long strawberry plants produce well; having a new row of plants coming on for each existing will help ensure good consistent production.

The rest of the time I will clip the runners so their growth is focused on filling out and berry production. I will soon need to begin reading on winter preparation to see if I need to do anything for them for protection or if they will die back like my peppermint and be back come spring. The strawberry plants are a local variety so I’m hoping they won’t require much, if anything.

I am very excited to bring back a strawberry bed to the place. Even if it’s not in the same place in the yard that my grandparents had theirs, it feels like a tribute to them. I remember theirs from my earliest years. Now it will be the girls turn to grow up with a strawberry bed and helping pick fresh strawberries.

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