Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013 Garlic Harvest

I can't remember the exact amount of garlic I purchased last fall, either in terms of weight or cost, but I think it was around 12 dollars, and 6 heads. But I could be completely wrong. I tend to start in the spring with lots of notes, which then taper slowly off, and so by harvest time my note-taking is pretty minimal, with photo records being the bulk of what I can look back on. So by the time I'm planting garlic cloves in the fall, I'm really just doing what needs to be done and not really keeping records. I'll have to remedy that at some point, although this might not be the year!
The space the garlic came out of. Seems rather small now. Might need to space them out more next year, and plant a slightly larger area!
However, I planted about 90 cloves of garlic, based on how many heads I harvested. I also had 4 hard neck and one soft neck that apparently I missed during last summer's garlic harvest that sprouted up and grew this spring. So all told, 95 garlic bulbs. They aren't dry yet, so I don't have a weight (and really, we need to invest in a kitchen scale to really weigh things accurately from the garden - maybe next year!). But this amount looks like it might be enough to last until the next harvest, plus enough to replant this many in the fall. Most aren't all that big, which is why 90 sounds like a lot but really isn't! I'll save the biggest for planting, and I'll plant more than this amount - I'm thinking I'll save enough for about 120 cloves to be planted. It will take a lot of bulbs to get that many cloves though!
The forgotten ones from last summer

The drying rack
Last summer I accidentally left the garlic on the porch and not only did it get sunburnt but it also got rained on, and the cloves went off color pretty quickly. Also, my husband admitted he really didn't like the taste of our homegrown garlic compared to store bought garlic, so I bought a new variety to try growing to see if he liked it better. This summer I was very diligent about my post-harvest routine, we harvested right after sunset one evening (due to the heat wave!), and laid the garlic on the sunporch out of direct light to dry. I likely could have harvested it earlier, and likely should have, but with the baby, and with the mister working night shift, my garden time is pretty limited these days, so harvesting got put off at least a week.

Not a bad haul I'd say :) And just in time fr the first cucumbers to be ready to be pickled later this week!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

On Juggling

Responsibilities, that is, no juggling balls here!

I've started back at work (very) part time in the past two weeks, with Baby E in tow. I started back with good intentions of not committing to working days unless the night previous Baby E had let me sleep sufficiently to make me feel rested and able to withstand not only the drain of the work hours, but the evening hours as sole parent at home (the mister is on night shift - eww!). However by the end of the first day I'd realized that coming back meant taking on certain responsibilities at work, which unfortunately had rather set deadlines associated.

I really enjoy my job and the responsibilities that come along with it, but I hadn't really given much thought that after this pregnancy, unlike after my pregnancy with Little M, when I was still very new to the office, that my tasks upon coming back to work would be so much more important to the organization. Luckily in most of what we do, time isn't really that important, so I've been able to push the deadline off for a week. But it is still a bit more pressure to come in on a regular basis to get work done than I had anticipated this first month back having! However, since I'm only going in 2 days a week, and even on those days only for 3-4 hours, I really can't complain!

Along with adding back in working outside the home, I'm having to balance that with decreasing things done around the house, especially on days when the baby and Little M are fussy or needy. I'm having to decide what around the house and property I can let go of, or do more efficiently, so that the important things still get done, I get some hours in at work, and most importantly, I stay rested and happy so I'm a good mama! Being a grown up sure comes with a lot of responsibilities I never imagined when I was a kid :)

I'll share a garden update this coming week, just have to find the time to take some pictures of how everything is growing. The raspberries have been a hit the past week or more, we've been bringing in a large bowlful every other day from the lower garden to freeze, and enough for fresh eating from the side garden daily. I'm thinking we won't need any more space for raspberry plants in the side garden once we expand it, because right now we've got more in the freezer than I think we can turn into jams, smoothies, and frozen snacks!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Electric fencing for the pigs

So late last week (right about when Little M was at her crankiest due to the virus she had over the weekend!), we finished the electric fencing for this year's butcher pigs. Really my husband finished it, since I was inside with the kiddo's :) He did most of the work on the fencing, I was mostly supervisor, kid wrangler, leveler, and occasionally dirt pounder around the fence posts.
the pig enclosure goes from the pig shelter to the right, down the line of fence posts, across the bottom, and back up the left side, with the new side garden area (with the peas and hay bales) being excluded. It is about 60x90, minus the garden area.

yup, this post hole is deep enough guys!

My husband cut the posts for the perimeter himself from trees on our property, and built the charger cover from scrap wood we had in the garage, so all we had to purchase were the electric fence components (wire, charger, grounding rod & clamp, fence-post wire insulators for t-posts and wood posts, and end/corner donut insulators, and extension cords), so the whole project came in within our fairly limited budget. We initially were looking at a solar charger for the fence, but after reading and hearing some mixed reviews about the one we were looking at and it's ability to keep animals in, we decided to go with a plug-in charger that could also be used down the road for larger animals over a larger area. This meant running 150 feet of extension cord from the house down to the pig area, but we figured that the line loss would be fairly low, and that compared to the reported lower strength of the solar charger, the plug-in one would be our best bet both for the pigs now, and for other animals in the future.

The fence wire might not be the prettiest, which was to be expected as it was our first time working with electric fencing, but it is totally functional and is working great to keep the pigs where they are supposed to be. They have each encountered it several times, and know to be wary of it. Of course, it helped that they were in electric fencing with their mom when we got them, so they already had experience with electric fences. We kept the hog panels mostly up, so they still use that area for sleeping, water, and their feed bucket, but they are often out and grazing in their pasture, which is great to see!

The only problem though, is that the dogs can (and do) jump right over the fencing. Which means they can chow down on pig feed if we aren't watching and keeping them in the right part of the yard... Sigh... We so need to finish our yard fence, but it might not happen until next year, as the chicken fence is now the priority. Without a secure chicken fence to keep the chickens away from the pig electric fencing, the chickens are limited to their small (and bare dirt!) outside enclosure off their coop, with no greens and bugs to eat really. I read that the electric fence could kill them if they hit it, so until we get the chicken fence (and future orchard fence) up, they are penned up. We are currently working on that fence though, so hopefully within a week or two it will be ready. Now that the mister is back at work (and on nights!), getting things done has really slowed down. Plus the 100 degree heat we've had for the past several days has put a serious cramp on outside things apart from after the sun has fallen behind the hills in the evening.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day!

Some pictures from way too early (baby-induced-lack-of-sleep-wise at least!) on Canada Day :) It's our 4 year marriage anniversary too, which of course we are celebrating in style by taking Little M in to see the doctor about a sore throat/mouth she's had all weekend. And of course getting little sleep due to also cranky Baby E. Sigh... The trenches of motherhood at its best folks! At least the dawn was amazing! :)

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