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pollinator
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Phew!


They came in smaller than I'd hoped but then they arrived late.

Still one left, the runt. Will those roosters be enough company for that pig? It's going down to -9°F and she's used to snuggling up to her buddies.
 
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as iv always heard its a bit of a no - no to slaughter animals next to their family of the same breed, did you experience any trouble with the runt acting out or squealing a lot when you slaughtered the others?
im just trying to determine if its just a respect rule based on the farmers morals or opinions or if it is something that is done for quality of meat, etc

anyway, awesome carcasses, hope they eat well for you, im slightly jealous
 
Cj Sloane
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None of the animals have been too distraught - least of all the pigs who would eat their fallen comrade in a second!
 
Cj Sloane
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Meanwhile... I gave the runt a half a bale of hay yesterday to help her keep warm. I wish I had my camera because this morning she was sitting on top of a pile of hay and was some how able to cover herself with it like a blanket.

I pushed the hay in the shelter because it's going to be -11°F tonight and maybe she would be warmer with the hay in the shelter. Well, as I was doing that she came around behind me and bit my leg!!! I tried to make her feel bad about it but pigs are surprisingly immune to guilt from Jewish mothers. Hmmm.
 
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Oh wow, seeing the carcasses hanging like that makes me think of blood sausage. Butchering myself would probably be the only way I'd get blood fresh enough to try making the sausage myself. I bet those pigs will taste good!
 
Cj Sloane
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Did you just add Vermont to your location? I didn't notice that before.

Well, if you keep your ears open you might be able to get blood for blood sausage. I do offer people the organ meats but don't get too many takers. If you hear of someone slaughtering just ask if you can take the blood! I'm just south of Rutland so you can have the blood from the next pig harvest!

Lots of people let it go to waste, myself included. It's true, I didn't use the organ meats or make head cheese or anything like that. I would if my family were willing to try it but they are not. I do like to inspect the liver even if I don't eat it (no spots so they made it through this cold without getting pneumonia). Anyway, it's not a total waste because the dogs and probably the chickens have an outdoor buffet ATM.
 
pollinator
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Wow. Awesome site, and really funny post in October with all the critters doing surreal things CJ ! some fantastic visuals in that! Sounds like a crazy day.

In case you didn't know, your monocrop of stinging nettle probably has more human digestible nutrients than anything you could grow in your garden. One thing that came to mind with your garden project gone awry (perhaps don't think of it as failed but a lesson in letting nature have a play in the game!--and you thought you were in control - PAH ! ), is that you could attempt to take control back and put the pigs in it a few rotations one year to get rid of the weed situation, help fertilize it and prep the ground for a real abundant garden the next year. Why don't you hugul in there?

As for your pond... you could super charge it's catchment with a bunch of small swales uphill. I had an idea on my property to drop a bunch of my dead pine (killed by a pine beetle infestation that is ravaging Western Canada), and cut into manageable lengths to lay on the contour (slope here is mostly south facing) in the forest to help collect/infiltrate overland flow, allow debris (over time) and snow to build up and slightly shaded snow to melt longer. Any extra water recharge upslope of the ponds will keep em full longer. You could also put water from your creek when it is at it's highest flow rate (when no one notices), to fill your swales and dump into your forest in ways that wont erode but will charge your on site aquifer-keeping your pond full longer.

So long as you don't let your thistles seed out too much, those type aren't so bad. I've got Canada Thistle which is a real bane in comparison, with it's subterranean spreading clonal colonies. If you were so inclined you could try to out-compete them with good spike rooted dynamic accumulating fodder plants, like comfrey, chicory, and dandelion, which would help speed up the succession from clear-cut to meadow (especially in new pasture) {check out chicory clover seed mixes for soil building and attracting deer-More Meat!). This will help retain more moisture in your field, and from what I've read serves as an almost ideal double pioneer cover to sow a proper meadow polyculture in the next year. It is good animal feed but would be better if left to protect young grasses and other meadow plants for a longer lasting fodder (reducing your feed costs).

Pallets, stacked two high if you have winter water problems, can serve as a passable hay storage if a tarp is thrown on it (sorta quick and dirty method).

Cutting trees to make a meadow will dry out your down slope fields, so anything you can do in the initial destruction phase that might aid in infiltrating water, would be of great benefit... for instance, any logs that you might not want to use, could be dropped and then laid on contour in the meadow. You could also line up a raft of logs on the ground to use as your feed station area so the cows are walking on the logs--a lot less mucky, and they will start to break the logs down and fertilize them with manure for future hugulkulturs. Let the meadow grow around any logs you leave, and watch as nature grows all kinds of things to micro climate off them. The cows you describe sound pretty willing to forage and will probably eat bark and cambium, pigs will eat the bark bugs, and dig for worms in the damp ground under them. Future huguls can be made on these spots.

One method I heard for winter feed was a long swath of hay which is laid out like a hugul in your unused field in late fall, and allowed to be buried by the snow. (I think it's called winter swath grazing) You can lead the cows to it, and break down into the snow and show them what it is. They will learn quickly what it is, how to recognize it, and dig it up themselves. This takes a burden off of your feed area's ground so that it doesn't get so mucky.

Sucks to not have a tractor. I'm in the same boat. I may invest in some tractor work on my place this spring, especially if I can find someone with a proper keyline ripper attachment, but if not maybe just to put in a few swales. I hate the idea of machines, but would really like to Sepp my place up a bit, and do a bit of carbon farming for a few years! I wonder how Sepp feels about his name being used in such strange ways? Ha Ha. He probably likes it, and all the "Catastrophe" references, I've been reading!

Good luck with managing all of those upcoming projects. I hope you don't have too many super comedic days like the post I mentioned at the beginning to take your energy away, but once in a while I think would be alright to let you know that your not completely in control and to give us other permies something to laugh about (not at!).
 
Cj Sloane
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:
In case you didn't know, your monocrop of stinging nettle probably has more human digestible nutrients than anything you could grow in your garden. One thing that came to mind with your garden project gone awry (perhaps don't think of it as failed but a lesson in letting nature have a play in the game!--and you thought you were in control - PAH ! ), is that you could attempt to take control back and put the pigs in it a few rotations one year to get rid of the weed situation, help fertilize it and prep the ground for a real abundant garden the next year. Why don't you hugul in there?


I have cooked the nettles and they were OK. Like spinach but not so slimy which you'd think would be a good thing but - just so so. If I cut them and wait an hour, the cows and sheep like them more than I do.

I did a small hugel in the garden last year along the back fence which borders the pond. I sowed it with oats, mangel beets and some other things but the problem with polyculture is that it's easy to get away from you.

My husband wont let me put pigs in the garden - too close to the house. I may do some kind of hugel/swale/chinampa experiment this year. I have had such good success with the hoophouse that it's hard to get too excited about the regular garden. I would like to grow annuals like beets and corn and squash that will store well. More for my animals than for me though.
 
Cj Sloane
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:

As for your pond... you could super charge it's catchment with a bunch of small swales uphill.


I think swales uphill are the way to go but that project will need a tractor which I don't have. Still debating on buying v having someone do the job. The land is very ledgy, just like Ben Falk's in Geoff Lawtons video.
 
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Micro-swale it when the ground thaws in the spring? No tractor required, just one more (like you needed one more) project.

I've had good luck so far doing this at our farmstead here. You might have to work up and down around the ledge where it is worst. Mine are 3 shovels wide 2 shovels deep but even 1 shovel wide 1 shovel deep would have an effect and help you decide if a full blown tractor project is required. I wouldn't plant one that small with trees but you could.

If I remember I'll get some pics of mine up here. I'll be hitting the ground with a shovel this spring for sure.
 
Cj Sloane
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You're right. I should probably do another SEVERAL like this one:


I had to use a pick axe mostly. It wasn't exactly on contour but it still worked pretty good. I let the pigs in later and they ripped up the hay bales and logs but the swale is still there.

It looks so green! It's snowing & windy today and the temp is supposed to plummet.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Yeah, your small hand dug swales are what I had in mind-beautiful and inspirational!

Even super low tech small swales, by throwing dead-fall, tree to tree roughly on contour in the forest, will have a surprising effect on downward infiltration over time. With this you could add a mini mattock trench on the uphill side-doesn't have to be deep or elaborate, and/or toss the material on the log and you multiply it's effect with a true swale and/or hugul.

I'll probably end up with something like this as well at my place, as I have zero money for getting a machine in.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I have cooked the nettles and they were OK. Like spinach but not so slimy which you'd think would be a good thing but - just so so. If I cut them and wait an hour, the cows and sheep like them more than I do.

I did a small hugel in the garden last year along the back fence which borders the pond. I sowed it with oats, mangel beets and some other things but the problem with polyculture is that it's easy to get away from you.

My husband wont let me put pigs in the garden - too close to the house. I may do some kind of hugel/swale/chinampa experiment this year. I have had such good success with the hoophouse that it's hard to get too excited about the regular garden. I would like to grow annuals like beets and corn and squash that will store well. More for my animals than for me though.


Yeah, nettles are a little dry in texture, and not so super on flavor in some ways. I just chop em fine and add to sauces, if I'm cooking, just because I know how good they are for me (also, it's free spinach that I don't have to nurture, like lambs quarters, and I've never had a nettle crop fail!) . My favorite is to juice nettles raw, throwing in some carrots and beets for flavor.

Instead of polyculture which can be pretty chaotic, you might want to try mini mono crops, or bi-crops. One of the main problems with polyculture is that there are multiple start times and ripening times so it's really hard to know when is best to get that first weeding in. You could start with a bi-crop of chicory and clover and the next year poly in that so that you have less opportunity for weeds. The mini mono crops (like 3 foot square) are a lot easier to keep an eye on and under control. I've seen this done with good effect in an organic market garden.

Too bad about not being able to put pigs near the house in this case. It could really benefit the site and get you ahead of the game on dealing with the weeds. But if you are super keen about growing a fodder crop, it may be worth your while to fence an area, just inside the distance that your husband allows, and turn your animals in it when it's peaked production... and later, this would increase production here for a potential crop area for you.

I like the swale/hugul/chinampa concept... sounds like a winner in a climate that gets really wet and then really dry.
 
Cj Sloane
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:
I have cooked the nettles and they were OK. Like spinach but not so slimy which you'd think...


I got that far when I realized you were quoting me!

Two easy ways to do this:
1. Hit the middle brown button on the right that says "Quote" It will reply with the whole text quoted. It's easier to read if you delete none relevant material.
2. Just copy and then paste into your reply. Select that material and hit the "Quote" button above the reply text box. The coding will be done for you but wont have the person's name.

Just to make sure you did it right, hit the Preview button instead of Submit.

Last thing, replies sometimes vanish so I try to select all and copy before I Submit.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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cool. I could use all the help I can get. I was going to ask about how to do multiple quotes from the same or other posts. So it formats it in a white quote just by hitting the button even if I cut and paste something and put it in quotations? Oh... I see the button up there! Ha! I'll probably give it a try today. You can delete this from your project page if you want. I somehow deleted the quotation part on the beginning of my quote of you. I had actually done it right besides that, but I figured you'd figure out pretty quick that it was your writing!

In Paul's "tinkering with this site" topic I put in an idea about a newbies button on the main page that gives a guided tour, FAQ, and such, and would be an option right away when a person registered in the group.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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Cj Verde wrote:Did you just add Vermont to your location? I didn't notice that before.


No, the Vermont has been there for a while. I checked it when I noticed the message from Paul asking that we update profiles with location a while back so it's been there at least several months.

Cj Verde wrote:
Well, if you keep your ears open you might be able to get blood for blood sausage. I do offer people the organ meats but don't get too many takers. If you hear of someone slaughtering just ask if you can take the blood! I'm just south of Rutland so you can have the blood from the next pig harvest!

Lots of people let it go to waste, myself included. It's true, I didn't use the organ meats or make head cheese or anything like that. I would if my family were willing to try it but they are not. I do like to inspect the liver even if I don't eat it (no spots so they made it through this cold without getting pneumonia). Anyway, it's not a total waste because the dogs and probably the chickens have an outdoor buffet ATM.


That's kind of you! I suspect I won't be able to take you up on the offer though. *grins* The whole baby in one arm thing keeps me from starting too many projects that require concentration and/or time! You should have seen me try to transplant into the garden last spring! I'm glad that the offal went to good use by your dogs and chickens!
 
Cj Sloane
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We got sooooooo much snow last night and today!


I'm not sure if that even begins to explain it! The snow was up to my knees and really hard to walk through.

 
Cj Sloane
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I stayed inside and fooled around on the computer:


Here's the recipe for that awesome meatloaf made with my own beef & pork:

BACON-WRAPPED MEAT LOAF WITH BROWN SUGAR–KETCHUP GLAZE
Preheat the oven to 350.

For the glaze (optional):
Mix:
1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider or white vinegar
in small saucepan; set aside.

For the meat loaf:

Heat:
2 teaspoons oil or other fat
in medium skillet. Add:
1 medium onion, chopped medium
2 garlic cloves, minced
sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing remaining ingredients.
You could add mushrooms, too.

Mix:
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1/4 cup whole milk or plain yogurt

Add egg mixture to:
2 pounds meat loaf mix (50 percent ground chuck, 25 percent ground pork, 25 percent ground veal)
in large bowl along with:
2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers (about 16)
or quick oatmeal
or 1 1/3 (120)cups fresh bread crumbs
or 1 c matzoh meal
or 1/2 c quinoa cooked in 1 c boiling water for 15 minutes

and add
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
cooked onion and garlic;

Mix until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to bowl. (If mixture sticks, add additional milk or yogurt, a couple tablespoons at a time until mix no longer sticks.)

Layout bacon and place meat mixture on top of bacon in a loaf shape.
Pull bacon up and around the loaf as best as possible then flip the entire loaf over.
Brush with glaze

Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160 degrees, about 60 to 90 minutes.

Cool at least 20 minutes. Simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly.
Slice meat loaf and serve with extra glaze passed separately.
 
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Wow that meatloaf looks yummy. Nettles don't compare, eh?

My best success with feeding nettles to children and choosy adults has been mixing with spinach and making nettle/spinach pie. The melted fluff up the spinach a bit so it isn't slimy and the spinach has more flavor. Plus I mix it with lots of garlic and some cheese.

Why did you leave the runt? Waiting for him to get bigger?

I prefer to do things without the tractor here. The only thing we've used it for in the past five years is to mow the meadow, and we only do one third every year. Just think of soil compaction! Tractors are useful but also destructive.

We got snow from that storm too, but then it turned to rain. Now it is very icy and there's water in the basement from water flowing over frozen ground!

 
Cj Sloane
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Mixing nettles with spinach is a good idea! Hopefully, the best of both will come through.

The runt has consistantly been 1/3 smaller than her siblings. She was $10 less and that was not a good deal. I now understand what an unthrifty animal is! My freezer space is limited so I will keep her till I need more pork maybe July.

A local did tell me that his father used to breed pigs and would keep the runts as breeders because they threw smaller piglets that were easier to birth. Seems like you wouldn't want to encourage that gene but he said they grew to normal size - at least the ones that weren't runts.

I'm strongly tempted to try breeding pigs because it was so hard to find weeners this spring. We were 6 weeks behind. Seems like a good idea to control that part of production. I did promise I wouldn't overwinter pigs till I could supply more of their feed but now I'm not sure.
 
Mike Leo
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If you're having trouble there's probably a bunch of people who would be happy to pickup your extras. The wife and I are planning on pigs this spring, I hadn't even considered where to get them from yet.
 
Cj Sloane
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No, I don't have any piglets, I will need piglets. They were very hard to secure last year.
 
Mike Leo
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LOL I meant it more along the lines of supporting your starting to breed your own. If there's a shortage selling weaners would be another leg supporting the homestead.

Like with so much else you're a few years ahead of me. This year we want to "try" some pigs. If that goes well within a few years I'd probably be trying to breed my own too.
 
Cj Sloane
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Oh, I see. Let me know when you've got pasture set up - I've got 2 mini belted galloway cows that I'll have to sell or put in the freezer next year.

Pigs are way easier than cows and sheep! You don't have to worry about running out of hay or your hay supplier cutting you off (which has happened twice). I don't have to worry about keeping them over winter. The main thing is don't let them escape and don't let them eat you!
 
Cj Sloane
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I think today marks the official start of mud season. The bull who does not have a date with the freezer got out this morning - before I had my coffee - and considered going down the drive way but headed toward the hay instead. I somehow managed to convince him to jump back over the fence to get back in the paddock. OK - corn convinced him.

More mooing later and this time the calf got out. Couldn't get her back into till hubby came home. The gates are all frozen to the ground.

Lastly, my Kuvatz/Pyr somehow jumped her fence to rejoin her sheep buddies.

Mud season! Yuck! Everybody wants to be someplace else.
 
Cj Sloane
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Half way done with mud season:


I need to point out... that's my driveway!!!
 
Cj Sloane
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I've been building some bee hives while waiting for the soil to dry out a bit. Here's a halfway done Perone that will accept frames from a NUC, and a window:


It's 2" thick for a little extra protection from the Vermont cold.

It's hard to fathom how huge this is till you're standing right next to it and imagining full of bees!
 
Cj Sloane
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So tonight is the first night of Passover (ignore the pig at the top of the page. Pig? What pig?).

I culled 4 roosters today for my extra local chicken soup. I've decided to hold my seder on Saturday due to school break and why have an 8 day holiday if not to make use of it. I'm not totally sure how many people are coming but I think around 30. I hope 4 roosters will be enough but I do have plenty more that can go in the pot! Also on the menu - brisket of course & my own lamb if I have enough in the freezer. It was too muddy to do on farm slaughter last week so I had to reschedule.

Here is my extra special chicken soup recipe:

Three 4 1/2- to 5-pound chickens,
6 medium onions, trimmed of root ends and coarsely chopped (do not peel)
3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 medium stalks celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
3 whole heads garlic, trimmed of root ends and halved horizontally
6 whole cloves
6 drained canned tomatoes

Cut up the chickens or leave whole.
Use the neck & giblets except for the liver.
Place in a tall 8 to 10-quart pot.
If it doesn't all fit, use two pots.
Add enough cold water to come to within 2 inches of the lip of the pot. Bring the water slowly to a simmer. Skim off all foam.
Add all the veggies
Simmer, partially covered, 8 to 12 hours, stirring occasionally. Do not boil broth. Keep the liquid bubbling very slowly. Add boiling water if the broth reduces below the level of the solid ingredients.
Add salt to taste but not too much.
Cool broth, strain, and chill. Once fat has solidified on the top of the broth, remove it.

For super extra special soup, don't forget to add the feet:

I left one foot unpeeled in this pic to show how clean they get.
 
Cj Sloane
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Spring is finally here and everything is happening all at once! My husband built me a bee hut on our little island and I built a bridge which he thought would totally not work:


Works great.

So I finally got my bees today and got stung will picking them up - I foolishly wore black - the color of most bee enemies like bears.

An hour later I finally got home with them and the installation went pretty smoothly considering the insert I made for the NUC was about 1/8" too small! I sent my husband back to the house to get a hammer and a chisel. He had to walk the long way around because the bridge doesn't go to the house.


Me showing off the new Peronne hive with a window:


Finally, here's a shot showing the NUC installed:
 
Cj Sloane
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I'm a little worried about that last pic because there doesn't seem to be much space between the frames. What if the queen gets squished? I'll take a peek tomorrow. If it looks really tight I'll take out the feeder frame to give more room.

On the plus side, there look like there are a few queen cells.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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A terrible day, weatherwize for the bees but I did get to put the finishing touches on the bee hut (needed hurricane ties or something)!

Drizzle, and 54°. They need it to be a minimum of 55° before they'll start foraging. Luckily tomorrow will be in the 70s. The pond was covered with pollen this morning so there should be plenty for them to eat.

Also, looks like there's enough room between the frames so that one less thing to worry about.

Next up, about 500 trees to plant!!!
 
Cj Sloane
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I've put in about 75 trees and I've got about 300 more to go. My resolve to plant them along swales is weakening. They are tiny swales though:


The bees are looking good, lots of activity and I'm glad I put in a second landing for the upper entrance:

I'm starting to see new comb but haven't snapped a picture yet.

I bought 1 1/2 lbs of sunchokes at the health food store for $6.99/lb! Maybe it wont all be harvested for livestock!

My tree fodder experiement has begun:

but mostly that'll be in this thread.
 
Cj Sloane
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The little runt from last summer is still around and I may breed her, haven't decided yet. I've heard from 3 sources that runts make good mothers. I'm almost finished setting up a new paddock for her. I'll feel a lot better when she's in a big space with lots of green, but still, she does look pretty content here:
 
Cj Sloane
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Anyone know what this weed/flower is?


Seems like they are all over the place & I saw 3 types of bees on them today, including one of my honeybees.
 
Cj Sloane
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I finally got Miss Piggy moved today. She was quite reluctant to come thru the gate, I had to lure her with food. Now she's in a much bigger, greener, albeit thornier paddock. I checked on her an hour later and she was panting like a dog! She had plenty of water to drink but was missing her mud bath on the hottest day of the year! Arghh!

She picked out a spot in a little bit of shade and dug her self a little trench. I moved her water right above that so hopefully she'll be mud bathing again soon.
 
Cj Sloane
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A funny thing happened yesterday. I was trying to figure out the best spot from a new Chinese Chestnut & I remembered about a tree that didn't make it & thought I could replace it as long as it wasn't the same type.


I cleared out the mullein and wouldn't you know it, it is the same type and it wasn't dead! Here it is cleaned up:

 
Cj Sloane
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I think I'm giving up on electro-netting. 2 days in a row I found sheep caught and nearly strangled. The chickens can just get thru it so I didn't take electrify it. I've only had one death so far, a turkey last year but I really don't want to loose a sheep that way. I'll take it all down tomorrow and hopefully will be able to protect my small trees.
 
Cj Sloane
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Two big Beech trees fell down the other day. One landed across the driveway just minutes after I drove by. The other fell right on our shiitake laying field:

A bit of a pain but all things considered, we were lucky.
 
Cj Sloane
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Worst. Day. Ever. As a farmer
My free ranging sheep disappeared Friday afternoon & although I looked for them on Saturday morning I figured they were all dead, though there was no sign of turkey voltures. 48 hours later I got a call, all 6 ewes were a 5 minute drive away. Spent the next 3 hours chasing them thru the woods with my husband cursing up a storm. We got one & the others disappeared back into the woods.

Stay tuned.
 
Mike Leo
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Ugh. I'm glad they are alive but that still stinks.
 
Ever since I found this suit I've felt strange new needs. And a tiny ad:
The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23444/digital-market/digital-market/Earth-Sheltered-Solar-Greenhouse-Book
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