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More to come, we promise... 

24 April, 2008

The pond is actually, really truly, happening!  Our amazing contacts at the NRCS and our grading contractor have been here almost every day for the past week, moving dirt to create the pond and prevent the flooding experience every winter.  Right now it just looks like a lot of dirt, but it's exciting to come home from work every day and see what has changed!

One unexpected consequence of the work was the relocation of a local, apparently very large rattlesnake, which was a bit unhappy with the situation and managed to bite our pooch Paci on the nose several times.  After an emergency visit to UC Davis, she is looking almost normal again and seems to be out of the woods.

The other bit of news is that Katie completed the inaugural Poultry Academy course, taught at Chaffin Family Orchards (Oroville, CA) by Roger Ingram.  Roger and the Albrecht family brought a huge amount of experience and advice to this two day course, covering all aspects of layer and meat bird care.  It was a fun weekend and it was great to meet "chicken people" from all over the state.  The focus of everyone there was how to raise HAPPY and HEALTHY birds, not how to  profit at their expense.  Very refreshing.

8 April, 2008

So the meat birds moved outside last weekend, and they seem thrilled with the change! They figured out QUICKLY how good fresh grass tastes, so now they run and gobble every time we move the pen. We are also feeding them the remnants of our winter garden as we pull it out - broccoli florets, flowers and leaves, cauliflower (a BIG hit), chard, garlic greens - you name it, they're eating it.

Our laying chicks arrived last week, seven different breeds. They are gorgeous little birds and it's fun to see the difference among the different breeds, as well as between the heritage layers and the more modern meat birds.

The summer garden starts are really coming in well. Some of the eggplant and peppers are a bit slow coming, but every time I get impatient I look a little closer and see a new little plant poking its head out! The wildlife habitat and pond will be built next week, and we'll have to amend the new soil that will be added to the garden, so the veggie starts will be likely going in the ground at the end of the month, which should be perfect timing.

20 March, 2008

57 freedom rangers arrived safely today! I envision them with little capes and masks...

17 March, 2008

After a weekend backpacking (big thanks to family and neighbors for house- and animal-sitting!) it was exciting to come home and see what has changed. The chicks are much bigger than they were when we left; active, hungry and entertaining. They look like little puffy pinballs, the way they zoom around their brooder. Pictures on the From the Egg to the Table page. More and more sprouts showing up on the planting table promise a delicious summer...

13 March, 2008

And here we go! 53 chicks arrived safely yesterday and are currently snuggled into our studio, eating drinking and sleeping under their heat lamp. The veggie seeds we started are just beginning to sprout, and the grass is growing so quickly the horses can't keep up (although they are very happy trying).

9 March, 2008

Our first batch of chicks are ordered! 25 cornish rocks and 25 red broilers should be arriving in the next three days. Another 50 freedom rangers should arrive late march (due to an ordering glitch; we had intended to have all 100 birds arrive at the same time). And the 25 layers will show up early April.

7 March, 2008

We finished all of our seedling prep, and starting watering them on March 2. Hopefully the grading, which will include expanding our garden and creating a southern slope, will happen by the end of March so by the time the seedlings are ready to go in the ground, we'll be ready for them! We're also working on organizing our bird orders for the year, cleaning up the property in anticipation of the grading, widening our entrance gate and driveway for the tractors, and eagerly anticipating daylight savings this weekend. Finally we'll have daylight to put some work in at the farm!

23 February, 2008

Today we started putting together our summer veggie garden. The winter garden is currently producing broccoli, romanesco broccoli, and beautiful, snowy cauliflower. It also looks like our onions and garlic and beginning to gear up for production, as is our giant green globe artichoke.

We had plans for the weekend, which due to the storm that is supposed to roll in were all cancelled. We took advantage of the free time to borrow a planting table, a ~9x5' mesh and 2x4 structure which is the perfect height for working. Picked up some potting soil, and with the seeds we had ordered from www.seedsavers.org we were ready to go to work.

We set the table up on the studio porch, pulled out the 72 cell trays we had "borrowed" last year, poured the soil, and start putting in seeds. With Paci's help, of course.

Seed Cells:

  1. Striped Toga Eggplant (3 rows)
  2. Lao Green Stripe Eggplant (3 rows)
  3. Rosa Bianca Eggplant (3 rows)
  4. Listada de Gandia Eggplant (3 rows)
  5. Casper Eggplant (3 rows)
  6. Green Tomatillo (3 rows)
  7. Pimientos de Padron (3 rows)
  8. Tolli's Sweet Italian Pepper (3 rows)
  9. Napolean Sweet Pepper (2 rows)
  10. Orange Bell Pepper (4 rows)
  11. Garden Sunshine Pepper (3 rows)
  12. Ancho Gigantea Pepper (3 rows)
  13. Quadrato Asti Gallo Pepper (3 rows)
  14. Black Krim Tomato (3 rows)
  15. Gold Medal Tomato (3 rows)
  16. Beam's Yellow Pear Tomato (3 rows)
  17. Green Sausage Tomato (3 rows)
  18. Tommy Toe Tomato (3 rows)
  19. Martino's Roma Tomato (3 rows)
  20. Sweet Genovese Basil (3 rows)
  21. Marigold (6 rows)
  22. Swiss Chard Multicolored Bright Lights (3 rows)
  23. Alpine Strawberries (3 rows)
  24. Echinacea (3 rows)
  25. Greek Oregano (3 rows)
  26. Spearment (3 rows)
  27. Sage (3 rows)
  28. A&C Pickling Cucumber (3 rows)
  29. Boothby's Blonde Cucumber (3 rows)
  30. Thyme (3 rows)
  31. Catnip (3 rows)
  32. Sweet Marjoram (3 rows)
  33. German Chamomile (3 rows)
  34. Provence Blue Lavendar (3 rows)
  35. Sage (again...) (3 rows)


Starting out:

We feel strongly that we should leave this land better than we found it. Our first two years on this property have been spent cleaning, clearing, resting and improving the soil. Hopefully, our next two years will bring native plants, intensive grazing practices which mimic the movement of historic grazing herds, and careful manure management and composting.

Last but certainly not least, we will be building a 1.5 acre pond and wildlife habitat with the Yolo County Natural Resources Conservation Service and RCD. This pond will shelter the threatened Sacramento Perch and other species in need of protection. We are working with grading contracters now and hope to have the pond/grading completed by the end of March, weather permitting. Dirt removed from the pond site will be used to grade the rest of the property, which floods every winter (see the barn site to the right!). The pond will allow us to filter the rainwater naturally, using v-ditches and native plants, and will give us a method of storing water to reduce runoff.