Thursday, July 21, 2011

I can not believe that it has been three months since I wrote anything here!

     Don't fool yourself though, just because there haven't been any posts doesn't mean that there have been many idle days around here!  The garden has been a frustrating adventure this year.  The heat has been so hard on the plants and the people.  The plants are growing, a little, and producing, a little, but most of the blooms are falling off before they can fruit.

The heat has been so extreme that at times it's been difficult to justify the water bill by the produce harvested.  This is the second year in a row that has been this way.  I say this every year but next year I am going to do things differently.  Next year I am going to get my cabbage, red potatoes, lettuce, spinach and peas out of the early planting.  For the summer planting I am only going to do peppers, melons, okra and strawberries.  They are the plants that love the hot weather and are producing in this heat. I am already clearing out spaces and planning for the fall garden.  Last year it was my fall garden that gave me the most.  I hope that it will do the same this year.  One of the wonderful aspects of gardening in Oklahoma is that we have an insanely long fall.  Last year I was harvesting tomatoes clear into October!  It still gets warm in the days but the cooler nights are what gives the fall garden the advantage over the summer garden.  The water seems to go a lot further as well.

These are all the materials needed.
     I did step it up in the garden this year and take two of my beds and really do the "square foot gardening".  I thought I could do it by eye-balling it, which is what I tried to do with the other three beds, but BOY, WAS I WRONG!!!  This year I actually did the square foot dividing and it blew my mind how much more I got out of the two beds I did the right way and the three beds I "eyeballed".
Dividing the bed into square foot gardens.


Needless to say, I will be doing all my beds this way next year.  Thankfully, the community garden that we joined has been wonderful!  We have gotten peas, broccoli, beans, kale, Swiss chard, all kinds of lettuce, collards and turnips so far.  We can buy all of the produce at wholesale costs and even lower if we go out in the heat and pick the stuff ourselves.  We always bring the kids to help so it doesn't take us nearly as long as if it was just me.  I bring them home, separate out enough for dinner and then clean, blanch and freeze the rest.  Now we are getting ready to head out there and pick zucchini, yellow, and flying saucer squash, okra, tomatoes, peppers, onions and other summer goodies.   
Sweet Sarah helping with the beans.  
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Grammy harvesting some beans.

Sybil podding the peas.
We have gotten three New Zealand rabbits, one male two females.  They are reported to be excellent meat rabbits.  My brother, Shawn wants to start selling rabbit in his restaurant, Amicci's Italian Eatery.  That is what inspired us to start raising them.  I figured he's got to buy them from someone, might as well be me.  They are the easiest livestock to raise, not to mention that they are sweet mannered and adorable.  I told the kids when we got them that they could not name them.  Once you name them they go from livestock to pets.

Each female can have up to twenty four babies per year.    They are pretty inexpensive to feed and once they start breeding  you only keep the babies for eight weeks before butchering them.  Ours should be ready to breed by next spring.  MM will be building a permanent hutch for them as soon as he is done with the chicken run.  I love being married to a man who can build anything! 

     We have also added the chicken coop to the property.  We will be ordering New Hampshire Reds mid-August.  Can you believe that they MAIL them to you?  Dad says they have always done that.  That is how they use to get their chickens when he was a boy, he's seventy-three now.  Fifteen hens and one rooster.  They are good for both laying eggs and are big enough to get some decent meat off of them.  We were going to do it now but I am worried about the heat.  We have some neighbors that have had some chickens die in this heat.  Babies are fragile.  I want to be careful.  Besides, by doing it the end of August we will still have three more months of decent weather.  By the time snow hits they will be fully feathered.

Michael has done a great job on the coop.  He has built it like a house.  I joke and tell him that if we threw some insulation in it we could rent it out when times get rough. This coop will easily last twenty to thirty years. 
Sarah has been his little helper through out the entire process.  Any time that Daddy is home I know where to find her.  To tell the truth, I really love that.  

I'll post pictures of it when it's finished.  The door and the window is in and it is primed and painted, sage to match the house and stable.  The only things that are left are the ramps and the little hole they go in and out of to get to the run and the run itself.  We have the materials it is just a matter of MM having the time in between his work to do it. Since I won't be letting the chicks out till they are at least eight weeks old anyway, we have a bit of time to get it finished.  
     The next projects on the board will be the rabbit hutch, the aqua-ponic fish garden and the rain water barrel system.  Slowly but surely we are getting closer to be self-sustainable.  Woo-hoo!  Hope this finds all healthy, happy and making the most of your summer!