Bloomed just in time for my birthday. Zone 6 baby. Just sayin’.
Getting LOTS more eggs now. I have 15 laying hens, and with the exception of the Buttercup, who has likely got a stash somewhere that I haven’t found, and the crazy Red Star who roosts in and lays under the blue spruce (despite my repeated objections), all are laying IN THE NEST BOXES.

This is decidedly better than last summer and fall, when we found eggs under decks, on shelves, in the wheelbarrow and on the cement floor in the shop. Once you have some mature chickens trained, you have fewer problems with youngsters that come later, because they learn from the older ones. I’m incubating 36 eggs right now (hatch date around April 2nd) so will have new chicks this spring. It is always a good idea to add a few new hens every year to replace the old ones that age out of laying, or just plain age out all together.

We made these…
…using an inexpensive oval shaped plastic trash can and some cement with fiber mixed in to prevent cracking. Pretty much all farmers markets have a requirement that you weigh down your shade canopy so that if a wind comes up, it doesn’t blow around (the most common injury at a farmers market is tent/wind related). Last year we just threw 25 lb bench weights into 5 gallon plastic buckets, and attached the handle to the tarp cover with a bungee. It worked, but they took up a lot of space and didn’t look very good. So, with 23 lbs of dry cement (we used a bathroom scale) and a bit over a quart of water, plus an eye bolt with a large washer on the other end, we made four of our own 25 lb weights for about $4 a piece. I may attach a strap handle to them to make carrying easier.

After striking out with the first recommendation, I found a local neighbor with an excavation company to come and disk up our fields.
This is a one time deal (I’m a big proponent of minimal tilling) to break up the sod, take out some weeds, and see what we had to work with. The above field will become the perennial garden with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, asparagus, and perennial herbs and flowers.

The front garden area was more difficult, as there are four irrigation lines running lengthwise in it that are only buried about 12 inches deep. So it was important that he not take out the PVC pipe with the disk. I flagged the lines so he could see where NOT to go.
I’ll hit this area with my new BCS walk behind tiller (still to be picked up) to further break it up. I should be planting spinach and peas NOW, so need to get on this.

The full moon rising over the Blues (the Blue Mountains) was pretty spectacular on the 7th.


I’ve cropped out our neighbor’s house, which unfortunately distracts from the view. We recently cut down a weeping willow from that direction because it had been so butchered with repeated poor pruning that the shape was destroyed (it looked like a tangled witches broom), so now we can see even more of the neighbor’s house. We’re still debating what to put in its place. So far, Japanese Maple is still high on the list.

I got this idea from a vendor at a farmers market last year, and so started saving bags.
I don’t really sew, so had to look up a YouTube video on how to make a “box bottom” on a tote bag, but really, the hardest part was figuring out how to sew with this weird plastic material. For a quick and dirty job, they came out pretty good. (Happy to share measurements if anyone is interested.)

On a quick day ride down to Oregon a few weeks ago, we saw an ad for a junk shop doing a clearance where everything was 25 cents. Then, because they were closing in 10 minutes, everything was down to 10 cents by the time we got there. So we picked up some crazy odds and ends, including two old telephones (scavenged for the cool old brass bells inside), and old mailbox (egg money drop for the “egg shed” perhaps), and a couple of “Kerr Economy” canning jars that were clearly antique (turns out they probably date from 1915 to 1930).
OldCanningJarsThen, a cousin of mine was cleaning out an Uncle’s house, and put out a call for any “treasures” we cousins might want. I asked for any old canning jars, and scored these three old Ball jars. The one on the far right is pre 1923 (you can date Ball jars roughly by how the font changes on the word “ball“). I’m not a collector, I’m a purger. I hate having a lot of knickknacks around that just have to be dusted. But old canning jars…the food they have held, likely grown by hand, the families they have sustained, the care with which they have been handled to have lasted all this time, the bubbles in the glass…well, they hold a special place in my heart. They will be decoration for my “summer” kitchen, once it gets put together.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2012, where we’re miles away from buying a curio cabinet, and sometimes have to be reminded that progress IS being made by reviewing the photographs on our camera.