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Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

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Topping mangels in the field.  Topped roots are bagged in used feed sacks and go into the root cellar for a few weeks of aging, after which they are more easily digestible.  The tops will be fed out to the pigs over the next couple of weeks, providing a valuable element of green food in these late fall days.

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Mangels are great pig food for the winter months since the store very well and are a high-energy food, good for helping animals keep warm when the temperatures drop.   We harvested a 30 x 50 foot bed two days ago; the crop was just fair, but even that is about 1500 lb. of roots, plus there are all the tops to feed out right away — about 200 lb. of high-iron greens.  Fall is abundant in its provision — we are backed up with farm-produced calories for the animals.  It helps to have some experience in determining how to put these to put these to the best use — for timing, for the right animals, in the right proportions and combinations.  On the farm, there is no such thing as waste.

 

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The new chicken tractor is as easy to move as a wheelbarrow, making it a good choice for use by our oldest grandchildren.  It holds five birds comfortably (27 square feet of space) and creates good impact on the pasture we are presently renewing.  In the winter it will be a great tractor for use in the garden, where we put chickens over the dormant raised beds to clean up weeds.  In the fall, they will be followed by a sowing of winter-hardy greens, or else a green manure of rye; when the weather turns really cold, bare soil will be covered by a good mulch of hay or shredded leaves.

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garlic

The garlic is in the ground, thank God.

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per Hydrogen

It’s amazing the things we overlook.  The pasture up at the monastery was limed two years ago, applying three tons per acre for soil with a pH of 5.2.  I’m sure our good forage yields of the past two years are partly due to the remediation of the pH.  So how does it happen that  in about seven years of gardening we have never thought about the pH of that soil?  The big forage and staple garden is in the middle of those same pastures, and there is little doubt that it has a similarly low pH.  And I just thought the potatoes needed more organic matter.

One more job before snow flies —

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We have something less than half of the mangel-wurzels harvested.  They filled the back of the pickup.  We brought them home and topped them and put them in the root cellar between the rows of potato crates, and our muscles ache from the hauling, but they are money in the bank — piggy bank, actually, since they are a good part of our winter pig food.  Mangels, according to our sources, shouldn’t be fed until they have aged a few weeks; this is fine, since there are still quite a few sub-prime winter squash for the pigs to finish first.  Isn’t it nice that squash seeds are a natural wormer, just when we are going into the winter and want to make sure that everyone has his parasites under control?

We should have a litter of piglets soon; we were aiming for July, but the boar was a little slow off the mark . . .

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what the pigs are eating

This time of year the pigs are eating the best of the best.  Tall  green stalks of corn with the ears still on, sweet corn after our neighbors had all they wanted for the freezer.  Green tomatoes, and red, squishy overripe ones.  Mangels thinned from the winter fodder patch, many of them over a pound, or two, or three.  Beans planted for nitrogen after the potatoes were harvested,  then cut while the pods are still green.  We take some beans for canning — forty quarts or so, so far — but the majority are like the green sweet corn, planned excess to feed the animals.  Milk, buttermilk, and whey from the dairy, where we are making something in the neighborhood of twenty-five pounds of cheese a week right now — and it will be that much again when the calves are weaned.

Today we cut the winter squash and set it out on dry grass to cure.  The meteorological forecast is for warmer, drier weather for a bit, so we hope to have a week to get it all into the barn and the dry cave.  We speculate that the two-hundred eighty-some squash — butternut, blonde pumpkins and cushaw — weigh in the neighborhood of nine hundred or a thousand pounds — the cushaw especially being about twenty pounds average.  The best will store for our table, and the monastery table, but the pigs will get all that threatens not to keep.

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