July is here and we are finally starting to see the fruits of our labor, well vegetables, I mean. The tomato plants are growing a foot a day it seems and there are tons of green tomatoes on there. My hands are aching just thinking about the canning in my future. We have started to harvest kale, lettuce, some peas and herbs. The next few weeks should bring squash, tomatoes, radishes, beans and more peas. It is like waiting for Christmas morning, you can’t sleep, and you count down the days. The whole family is jittery as we watch the plants grow. This spring has made us wait longer than normal and the an anticipation is building.
The planting continues. The vegetable garden is starting to look good, but we do not have much fruit growing on the property. Last year, we planted blueberries and raspberries and they transplanted ok, but this past winter and spring was really hard on them, we collected maybe a dozen blueberries off of 10 plants. This year we decided to add fruit trees that produce within a year or two of planting. Grapes, strawberries, figs and kiwi are in the ground and there is hope that we will get something off of them this season, but if not we know next year will be great. The long term plan is that we get apples, peaches, pears and cherries going in an orchard, but that is a year or two down the line and will be built up slowly. Those trees take years to produce. Which is a good thing because I know nothing about how to grow them.
We are done with the meat birds for the year and I am thankful to have one less chore in the morning. Our freezer is full and we are looking forward to the turkeys being done. They still have 8 more weeks, but we are halfway there and despite the foxes best intentions we have only lost 2 birds.
The goats are our work force this summer and they are clearing the property line for us so that Soil Conservation can put a fence up in the fall. We found out that we have been approved for the grant and we are moving forward in the next step of the process, which is proving to be as long and tedious as the previous steps. We are remaining patient, this grant is a tremendous blessing and we are grateful for the help with the fencing task. Below is a picture of the next area the goats will clear. Go goats go, eat goats eat. We have even been tossing around the idea of getting more goats to help with this huge task.
Piggie, Piggie, Piggie… they are growing great! We had the vet out of give them a check up and we are estimating that they are around 100 pounds. To celebrate the 4th of July we moved them to new pasture. They enjoy eating the new grass and they really enjoy any extras we are getting out of the garden. The Old Spot breed of pig is just amazing. These animals are friendly, calm, and an all around pleasure to work with. I am really looking forward to being able to have a sow here year round in the future once the fences and buildings are done.
Now that the garden is producing and we have a full freezer it is time for us to cut the string that binds us to the grocery store. Our goal has always been to produce 75% of our food on the farm, setting up the farm took longer than we thought and we have fallen far away from that. I finally believe that we have turned a corner. I am not sure that we will get to 75% this year because we will still have to buy most of our fruit and the goats are not producing milk yet, but we are getting closer. So this is me putting it in down in writing, we have had a family meeting and we are committed to the challenge to eat what we produce. We will buy local fruit but still get grains, oils and dairy from the store. The hope is to transition to buying local dairy as well and only getting grains and oil from the store only. Each member of the family has chosen two foods that they do not want to live without and we will continue to buy those, but we are ready to roll up our sleeves and make this transition. I am excited, our homestead is finally taking shape.