The First Goose Egg of Spring

Joel found the first goose egg on February 22nd.

Joel ran to find me yesterday morning because the first goose egg of the year had appeared.  This year’s first egg came from a pair of American Lavender Ice geese.

He is responsible for taking care of the chickens, and will often go “on patrol” after his morning chores are done.  Apparently this includes checking all the pens for any new eggs.

We had separated out our 8 pairs of geese into breeding/nesting pens on February 8th, because it’s time for them to begin laying. Continue reading

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Boron: A Soil Supplement

This afternoon’s project was spreading Boron on our pastures.

This plastic spreader worked great until it fell apart after one hour's use

Boron is a trace element that helps with calcium and nitrogen availability.  There is a good article about it on the Albrecht’s Animals page.  It is also soluble, which means in rainy Western Washington, it’s quickly washed out of the soil.  That’s what the soil test showed too.  We were to add about 3 lbs of boron supplement (13%) per acre.  Instead of mixing a foliar spray to apply dissolved borax, I bought a 50 lb. bag of “Granubor”, and walked around with a hand-held spreader.  The mineral grains were just the right size to make a 20 ft swath, so I was able to cover the ground I needed in less than an hour. Continue reading

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Why top bar beehives?

This top bar is upside down so you can see the bee-covered comb

Here is my post about why I’ve decided to use foundationless and top bar hives for my treatment-free style of beehive management.

http://www.pleasedbees.com/wp/2011/02/04/why-top-bar-hives/

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Hand dipped tallow candles

Filling the dipping vat with pieces of tallow

Once a week we have a “candle lit” dinner, so we go through a lot of candles at our house.  I’ve been thinking of this project for a long time, so when I ended up with about 10 lbs of rendered tallow last week, I had to give candle making a try.

I learned a lot through the process, and I’ve been very pleased with the result.  I started with filling my 4″ dipping vat.  It’s 15″ tall, and it takes a lot of raw material to fill it.  Because I was putting cold pieces into the vat to melt, it took about 30 minutes before it was full and liquid. Continue reading

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Spreading Lime to Make the Grass Grow

My 22" Drop Spreader works fine when things are dry

My soil test last summer showed acidic soil and low calcium to be our limiting factors to growing more grass.  The recommendation we received was to apply agricultural lime at a rate of 500 lbs/acre, so I’ve been working on that.

The math was easy.  I’ve got 3 acres of grass & pasture x 500 lbs/acre = 1500 lbs of lime.  Of course the local feed store sells lime–they had three, 25# bags.  Hmmmm….  I kept looking.  It was the usual problem of being too big for the local feed store, and too small to buy from the commercial Ag distributors (although they would deliver a 10 ton truckload if I wanted them to).  I ended up getting a pallet shipped up to me with thirty 50# bags at about $5/bag for powdered gardening lime. Continue reading

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Changes come with the New Year

Goodbye cubicle job!

Happy New Year 2011!

Here is a short list of the changes that have happened in the past couple weeks: Continue reading

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Goose Eggs for Christmas

Blown Goose Eggs for Sale!

I’m purging some of my “stuff”.  This particular round, I’ve started to clear out my blown goose egg collection from last spring.

I’ve got about 50 blown goose eggs which I started saving for craft projects, or for selling for craft projects.  Several of them posted on e-bay now, and my first sale got shipped out last week.  It was a package of 10 eggs that went for $14.50.  The discussion in our house has been on what package size gives the best return per egg.  Should I sell them by the dozen, in packs of 4, or one at a time?

It’s nice to get paid for the stuff, but it seems like the work:cash ratio isn’t quite in favor of this one.  That’s balanced by the fact that it’s less for me to have around the house, and I’m just as glad for that!

After the eggs are gone, it will be time to start auctioning off some of the other things I’ve accumulated….Or maybe just haul it out to the trash… Hmmm….

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Record Setting Apple Pressing

Tree-picked, organic apples were gleaned fresh from the orchardWe made a 611 gallons of apple juice last weekend!  Fortunately, we had about 40 people to share it all with.

This is the 3rd year we have been part of this apple pressing group, which has been going on for more than 25 years already.

The routine is that the group drives to Eastern Washington one day at the end of October, to glean apples left on the trees of organic orchards.  We haven’t made the picking weekend yet, but this year we offered to host the group for the pressing weekend. Continue reading

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Bum Hay

Sold as grass, looks like straw, and the animals won't eat it

Sometimes we paint ourselves into corners and then make mistakes when we try to get out.

Last week we found ourselves out of hay.  Well, we did have half of a bale left, but I’d say we were plum out.  I drove down to the local feed store before they closed on Friday evening and bought 3 bales at $15 each (ouch!), which would be enough to get us through the weekend when we could get more from our usual source of weed-rich prairie hay from Ellensburg, WA at $5/bale.

Friday night a friend called and asked if we would go in with her on buying 50 bales from a farmer in Kent, WA  for $6/bale.  We joined her and our 35 hay bales showed up the next afternoon. 

Continue reading

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Soil Test Results

 We collected this soil sample at the very end of July, 2010.   The charge was $30/analysis.  We have a good relationship with our Vet, Dr. Paul Dettloff, so we chose to go with his usual lab & routine.

Sample #1: The grazing area is from a mixture of samples of the rich black soil that is in the south west corner of our property.  It’s full of moisture & organic matter.

Sample #2: The Soccer Field is field is a mixture of samples from the flat area adjacent our shop & barn, and also some samples taken from the ground south and east of the big cedar tree below the house.  Both of these areas have been graded.  It’s just fill dirt from construction of the buildings, and had zero topsoil when we moved in. 

Results show our need for Calcium, Sulfur, & Boron

Continue reading

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