Monday, July 30, 2012

A First Harvest?

How about another edition of "What I've Managed Not to Kill So Far!"? OK, OK, since the mass execution of the heirloom seeds I haven't really killed...much. But because of it we got the garden started much later than we'd hoped (we're talking the first and second week of June) and started most everything from seeds instead of seedlings. Best laid plans I guess...

With our short growing season (at just above 7,000 feet it's really more like 3 seconds) it's a toss up as to whether we'll wind up with much of a harvest this's hoping for a late frost? Indian summer?

This summer has also been exceptionally hot and dry. We've watered the best we can, but we can't afford to just turn the hose on (we tried in June and our bill was $70 higher!). Mostly we have been hauling water in buckets from the creek. Talk about a workout! 

Between the late planting and the hot/dry weather I had almost completely given up hope, but the last week or two things are starting to come around. While not everything has exactly thrived this hot dry summer, we've done the best we could and I'm pleasantly surprised by what is doing well!

The corn is in a race against the frost...will it have time to mature before it turns cold???
Our first zucchini! Considering how zucchini generally goes gangbusters around here we should do well here.
There's about a half a row of beets doing well. Before we got the electric fence put up around the garden the deer munched their tops off, but they came back!
We planted several varieties of cucumber, but so far the only ones looking promising are these pickling cucumbers.
The strawberry patch is doing amazing (in spite of the vampire pumpkin plant trying to snuff it out). I just picked 4 to 6 of these thumb-sized strawberries from each plant!
Speaking of the monster pumpkin plant...the pumpkins on it are growing like crazy.
Just that one pumpkin plant already has 6 to 8  fair sized pumpkins on it!

The tomato plants along the north fence are putting on like crazy.
The tomatoes in the greenhouse however only have a few.  Any idea why they're not putting on more tomatoes?!
We're even still getting a few blueberries.
There are also lots of beans, peas, and lettuce I didn't take pictures of. 

It looks like the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, onions, and a few other things are just plain not going to make it, but we may just pull this thing out and have a decent first harvest after all! 

Cross your fingers.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Misadventures in Wanna-Be-Farming

This week has been...hilarious. There's really no other word for it. 

Darran built Ellie and Fiona a nice big pen out by the creek. With this being such a dry year it's the only place that's green and has enough groceries to sustain them. They have lush green to eat, plenty of space to's a goatopia really. 

Ellie and Fiona's thoughts on it:

Alrighty then. Moving on...

Top on my list of things to start this spring was a strawberry patch. I love strawberry patches. My uncle had the biggest strawberry patch when I was growing up and since then one of the things I've wanted most in life is a big strawberry patch. What can I say? I'm easy to please.

I was so excited when I had pretty much killed everything else, but my strawberry patch was thriving!! 

Then, I saw this strange plant growing at one end. It wasn't a weed, but it wasn't a strawberry and it was in my strawberry patch! Darran said not to pick it, that it looked like a pumpkin, squash, or cucumber. My bet was pumpkin. You see, we had mixed some of the soil that had been composted by the chickens into the strawberry patch when we planted it. Last October we had fed the jack-o-lanterns (which had been grown with heirloom seeds) to the chickens. One of those crazy heirloom seeds had planted itself in my strawberry patch via the dirt from the chicken pen!

Yep, it's a pumpkin.
The dang thing is on steroids or something.

It's completely trying to snuff out my strawberries.

It's overgrown several strawberry plants.
But, I leave it be because with the luck we've had with the garden Darran thinks it may be one of the few things that produce.

So, we'll have tomatoes and pumpkins come fall I guess. Oh, and speaking of tomatoes:
They've finally started to put on tomatoes!
The gate to the tomatoes on the north side of the house has been open for weeks. We figured out that the goats and chickens don't much like tomato plants. In fact, they'll go in and eat the weeds around them. Nice. Anyway, Red chicken doesn't go in there. At. All. 

Darran weeding the tomatoes with Red's help.
She's a good helper.
Unless one of us is in there. Then she's right along with you the whole time. Scratching and pecking, rooting around, and just going to town like a kid at Christmas. Then, when we leave, she leaves too. Silly Red.

Oh yes, and speaking of Red chicken! Darran was putting a new door knob on the back door (much to Fiona's chagrin, she had just about figured out how to open the previous lever-type one. I wish I was kidding.) and Red chicken spent the whole time trying to sneak around him and get into the kitchen.

One last thing...We've had two more new additions this week. Yesterday the boys came bringing home frogs from my parents' house. Darran promptly built frogtopia:
Shall we take bets on whether Fiona teaches the frogs a thing or two?
Life is funny. We are grateful.

Monday, July 9, 2012


It's quite possible that this blog needs a new tagline. Experiment in sustainability?! The what you say?!

While sustainability is still our goal. It's definitely a longer term goal than we realized. What can I say...we've learned a LOT!

After the whole killing of the expensive heirloom seed fiasco we still managed to plant a late garden. However, this summer has been hot and dry. Colorado is burning up, literally. We've barely managed to keep a garden alive. With our short growing season it will be interesting if we wind up with much of a harvest.

I did manage some yummy lettuce and spinach in the greenhouse before it got too hot in there for them.

The chickens and goats have pretty much ate up the yard (and even with watering it, it's pretty much burned up anyway). We've put most of the chickens back in the main pen and are having to feed them all way more than just the supplementing we were hoping for. Which means it's costing way more. Which means I've had to focus more on my fitness blog...because it's the one that helps pay the bills.

Darran is in the process of building the goats a pen on the land in the back. With the creek being back there it's still green and there's much more for them to eat. If I have my way there'll be some chickens snuck back there too. Oops, look at that, now how'd they get back there? There's a lot more bugs for them to eat there! (That's what we're struggling with, them getting enough protein. Especially since we don't feed them soy).
Ellie and Fiona munching where their new pen will be.
We have gotten some rain the past two days, so I have hope it will not all be a wash! Oh yes, and there will be tomatoes! Lots and lots of tomatoes. The greenhouse is full of gigantic tomato plants that are growing like mad and we have a row of them along the north fence. All of which we've managed to water enough to keep going. (You don't want to see my water bill!)

We also have some strawberry plants and two blueberry bushes doing well.
Yay strawberries! Do you see that bone dry ground around them?!
With things not going as planned I've focused more on making sure my fitness blog is doing well, and it is. Thankfully! If we can't grow our food we have to make the money to buy it (crazy how that works). Darran has kept pretty busy with side jobs. Mostly mechanic work (my husband can fix anything). So financially, miraculously, we are doing well. Heck, if we can pay the bills I'm happy.

Sustainability? No. Growing most of our own food? No. Having a blast living our priorities and spending time together as a family? YES!