Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mucking, Composting, and Seed Starting: A Day on the Farm

Nothing says, "I love you,"  like a new Yanmar 324 tractor.  Best Valentines gift ever!!  It will make our work load a lot lighter.  Previous to having a tractor, we had some hard working boys at home but they are off at college so that just leaves my husband and me to manage everything.  

So todays projects were mucking out the goat barn and starting some more seeds indoors.  New kids are due in March and they will be so happy to have fresh bedding and clean stalls.  We decided to redo the barn so all the stalls are easily removed (my  husband is so good at making my ideas a reality)  The removable panels will make clean up with the loader of my tractor very easy or at least when I get the hang of it, it will be easier.  So there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to scooping out a barn but I have a great teacher and I was doing pretty good by the end of the day.  He makes it looks so easy......

With a clean floor, I limed the stalls.  This kills harmful microbes and fly eggs.  We then laid down some fresh straw and showed the does their new barn arrangement. They were very excited and tested the fencing to see if it was secure and if all options of escape had been prevented. 

Two yearlings and two adults who will be bred this fall.

So I have two large stalls with a smaller kidding pen.  Two of my does are due in March and two in May.  The buck pens are outside behind the barn.  I can't wait for kidding.  I love baby goats.

I am managing my compost piles a little differently.  I recently attended a farm conference and had the pleasure of hearing Bruno Follador from the Nature Institute speak on composting.  I am working on a post to share this info but I was very excited about his approach to composting.

 For those that don't think compost can be so excited you have never piled manure, stray, grass clippings etc and watched it decompose into beautiful fresh smelling compost.  It's an amazing process and allows you to be more sustainable.  I remember once my youngest son was spreading some of our compost around the orchard.  He wanted to know if you could enter compost in the fair because "this is some good looking compost!" 

 We are now composting in windrows. I did pretty good at dumping and making my windrow with the tractor.  When the rains stop I have some more work to do with the compost.

This is my milking/seed starting room in the barn. It has power, water, and is heated so it is perfect for starting seeds.  I spent the morning cleaning it up and cleaning seed starting trays.

I also planted some more seeds indoors.  Peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, eggplant, tomatillos, and lettuce.
Start with a well screened seedling mix that is soilless. This prevents soil borne diseases such as damping off. Moisten the mix.

Start with a good soilless seed starting mix.  I like Black Gold.  Do not use a seedling mix with fertilizer added.  Seedlings have all the nutrients they need in the endosperm of the seed.  They don't need a fertilizer until they have true leaves.

These are Speedling trays.  They have different cell size options and clean up nice.  I have had good results with these trays.

The peppers and eggplant like 70 degree soil temperature to germinate so they are on a heating mats.  I will remove the bottom heat when the seedlings emerge.

This is my lighting set up.  An old book rack with shop lights on adjustable chains.  I keep the light 2-3 inches from the plants.  The lights don't need to be turned on until the seedlings emerge.  Lettuce however needs light to germinate so that tray remains under the lights.  I turn the lights off at night.

I felt like we accomplished a lot today.  I still have some work to do on the compost windrow and tomato and  flowers to start indoors.  I love the occasion beautiful winter day that reminds you that spring is not too far away.  Loving life on the farm!

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