Manic May

honeyberry flowers birds nest garden farm
Honeyberry (or haskap) blooms provide a much-needed early source of nectar for insects and hummingbirds.

It’s that time of year again.

Everything needs to be done. Yesterday.

Warm weather and sunshine have made everything pop. Believe me, I am not complaining. We are loving the weather here at Bird’s Nest Garden Farm.

It’s hard to believe that less than a month ago things looked like this:

snowy field polka dot hen produce wiarton
Yes, that is one of my main vegetable plots on April 22.  So, less than a month ago we had plenty of heavy snow on the ground.

Now we are full steam ahead on ALL of the projects.

Chickens

The chickens finally left their winter coop, for full-time RV status. Our feathered friends are back to the mobile life, being carted around the field every couple of weeks. Now to figure out why the auto-close door wants to auto-close at the wrong time. And then auto-open once everyone is settled in for bed.

chicken mobile coop polka dot hen produce
The first location for the mobile coop. Chickens are loving the fresh grass.

Plants

Where do I start?

All the vegetable garden beds need prepping.  All the perennial beds need weeding and dividing. All the little seedlings in pots need homes in the soil. Everyone needs water, some times two to three times a day!

The winter rye cover crop on several beds was supposed to winter kill but it didn’t. It is looking super-green and healthy, definitely not dead.

intercropping garlic tomatoes spinach hoop house
Green garlic grows in the space between the young tomato plants. As the tomatoes grow, the garlic and spinach will be harvested.

Inside the hoop, there are a smattering of early crops (spinach, green garlic and kale) fighting for space with the tropicals (tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.) More tropicals need to go in, and more early crops need to come out.

Thankfully, the Wiarton Farmers’ Market has started so we don’t need to eat all of those veggies ourselves. My Polka Dot Hen Produce customers had a lovely selection of purple orach, French sorrel, tender kale and green garlic to chose from this week.

Carrots, spinach, beets, kale, radishes, turnips and lettuce are in the ground where that snowy picture was taken. The family pea plot looks to be shaping up.  Happy news, since I totally missed the window for peas last year.

Thankfully, our composting was a great success. We have this beautiful business to add to our beds:

compost polka dot hen produce fresh vegetable
Well composted chicken litter (chicken poo, leaves and wood chips) is just the ticket to get the soil going this year.

 

Sheep

Peter has wanted ruminants on the land since we bought the property. This is the summer we give it a go after many years of research and planning; his, not mine.

Before the sheep arrive, we have scads of fencing to put up. A visit from a black bear last week reinforced this need, although I’m more concerned about keeping out coyotes and stray dogs. Plus we’ll have the added bonus of preventing our dog from wandering off to irritate the local porcupine population.

tractor auger birds nest garden farm
Peter tries out the auger in preparation for installing lots of posts. This area actually has soil, unlike many areas we need to fence.

The lambs also need a shelter, and you guessed it, it’s going to be PORTABLE as well. Well portable, if you have a tractor to pull it. I won’t be schlepping it around the meadow with my bare hands. Did I mention that shelter still needs to be built?

All the Other Stuff

Let’s not forget that the  necessities of daily living such as food preparation, dishes, laundry, dog walking and personal hygiene don’t just disappear. Although, as I don the same soil-covered work clothes over and over, I  find myself hoping no one decides to wander down the driveway and “surprise me.” Phoning first is always recommended at this time of year. If you are really special, I’ll put on a clean T-shirt.

It is a good thing the weather has been fantastic for getting all this work done. I promise we will take time to be thankful for this wonderful place we’ve been allowed to steward.

Here’s hoping we all have a productive and lovely Victoria Day weekend.

 

spring light landscape birds nest garden farm
Glowing spring light on the laneway

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Preparing the ground

 

We ordered a load of topsoil for the hoop house in spring. We used part of it right away inside the new structure. The rest of it went to the future site of the hoop house – where we will move the hoop house when the time comes. Don’t ask when that will be. But we will be ready.

Spring was rainy. It didn’t take long for that beautiful top soil to green up with wild mustard, shepherd’s purse and a few other characters I’d rather not have in my prime growing areas. It’s not that I am anti-weeds across the board. The only things I remove immediately are bindweed and ragweed. All plants have their roles to fill in the ecosystem. I’d just rather not be spending time and energy removing their progeny in the years to come.

Enter the chickens.

 

Chickens eat the weeds in our topsoil delivery mobile coop
These chickens really went to town on the greens that were imported in our topsoil delivery. Within two weeks, the ground was bare and their bellies were full!

With their scratching, pecking and dust-bathing the chickens reduced the green forest to bare soil in short order. They really seemed to have fun doing it too. At first it was like a big game of hide and seek as the plants were as tall or taller than the birds. As things thinned out, some plants continued to grow taller but had no lower leaves; almost looking like palm trees. The only plants left at the end of their session were goldenrod and chicory; perennial plants that were there before the topsoil delivery.

 

A partridge chanticleer chicken clears weeds near the hoop house.
This partridge chanticleer and her flock cleared the ground for the future site of the hoop house by the end of June.

Then it was time to move the chickens to new pasture. To keep the bare soil from growing more of what we didn’t want, we laid a tarp over the area. A BIG tarp. That was a family bonding experience that was not so fun. Dusk, everyone tired from a long day, bugs… But we managed.

Continue reading “Preparing the ground”