I can, too, quit any time I want!

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This just cracks me up, so I’m posting it here.

Not so you folks can watch it, but so I can find it more easily when I feel the need to watch it yet again. 😛

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No house yet, but we do have a tractor

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We are still waiting to emerge victorious from the labyrinthine Washington state permitting process for home construction and site prep, but in the meantime we now have our own tractor!   After looking at what it was going to cost us to hire some of the work we need done and rent a tractor long enough to do the rest ourselves while working full time (which means we’d probably need it two or three times longer just to accommodate our work schedules) we decided to bite the bullet and buy a used tractor with at least some of the implements we will be needing to tame down some of the areas we want to put into orchards, gardens and pastures for our small livestock.   It made more sense from a time management perspective as well.  Now any time we have an extra couple of hours, we can go work on the hugelkultur beds, set some more fence posts, clear out some more blackberries, or work on some swales and terraces instead of having to spend that same amount of time driving to rent someone else’s tractor.

I am looking forward to learning how to drive it, and hope to be able to help put in some of our first hugelkultur beds within the next couple of weeks.  I have to do something – I started a bunch of fall greens yesterday!

I have a half acre garden!

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In just a week, Jim and Will have been able to clear about a half-acre garden spot on the lower site, mow and clean up the edges of the 0.5 mile northern road through the property, and clear the back yard of the future home site from the back of the house spot to the fence about 50 feet away.  That’s a lot of blackberry clearing in just a few days!  “Tractors rock!,” says Jim.  🙂

Now I just have to figure out how best to use a half acre garden area!

Tractors are wonderful, almost as wonderful as goats!

Jim found a place not too far from here where we can actually rent TRACTORS for a whole month at at time!  So, since that sounded like a great way to get a lot of blackberry clearing done on some areas of the lot, we did just that.  In just two days, Jim has nearly the entire lower garden area cleared of the majority of the vines and saplings (some of which were up to 8 feet high.)  In another day or so, we should have the whole area ready to measure and begin to mark out for the garden and orchard.  Here are some before and after pictures…

Before:

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After:

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See what I mean?

We’ve picked out our chickens and our coop!

We decided to get started with our chicken project this summer instead of waiting until next spring.  So, we have our chicken breed all picked out…

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This is a Silver Grey Dorking chicken.  The Dorkings are a very old chicken breed – lore says they were being raised during Roman times, and were brought by Roman soldiers to the UK, where for centuries they were considered to be some of the finest-tasting poultry one could put on the table.  Apparently the breed was so jealously guarded that it was illegal for a long time to sell a live Dorking chicken, lest someone start their own flock and compete!  They are now a heritage breed, and somewhat rare.  Dorkings are a multipurpose chicken, being good producers of both eggs and meat.  They also have a tendency to lay well over the dark winter months, in contrast to most modern breeds.  They are also supposed to be very tame.  We plan to start off with a rooster and three hens and then let them sit on their own eggs to provide us with more hens and some meat cockerels.

Here is the coop we will probably be getting.

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We originally planned to build our own, but we have so many projects going on this summer and fall that it would be impractical.  And this one is priced very reasonably, probably only just a bit more than it would cost us to make it ourselves.  So we made an executive decision to just buy one and concentrate our efforts on other projects, like the garden and orchard, instead.

Mushroom logs waiting for spawn!

We had to take down a rickety Bigleaf Maple cluster that’s too close to the garage and house site this week.  It had about a dozen trunks and most of them were at least 6″ in diameter – which is perfect for cultivating mushrooms.  So, as the tree trunks were felled, I asked that they be cleared of side branches and chopped into smaller lengths and set aside.  I stacked them yesterday off the ground to keep them from getting contaminated with wild fungi.  I will have about twice this many once the other trunks are cleaned up and cut, but that will have to wait until we can get the chainsaw chain sharpened up again.

ImageThe logs will need about three weeks to allow the anti-fungal properties to decay, and then they can be plugged with spawn.  I have regular oyster mushroom spawn, a low temp blue-grey oyster spawn, and some shitake spawn to plug them with.  It is possible that we might get a few Oyster mushrooms by the spring!  The shitake will probably take a year, though, but you never know.  We might get a few next spring as well.  At any rate, the logs should produce for 3-4 years once colonized, so this is a long term project.  I want to eventually have several dozen going at any one time, and this will be a good start.