Home Life The Summer for A Stray Kitchen- 2018

The Summer for A Stray Kitchen- 2018

by Alycia Louise
Freya in the garden 2018

Summer 2018 feels like it breezed by. Like, how can it be fall in 12 days already?

Last week I walked around the farm, taking pictures and making notes. I’m terrible at keeping a homesteading or gardening journal, but when the  growing season comes to an end I try. I noticed how much we’ve accomplished this year and  made notes on how we can improve… lets look back on summer on the farm…

Free weeds

Weeds…

I know they never go away, but this year I was overrun with weeds. I spent DAYS weeding the large garden that we put in and they still overtook everything. We also had an overabundance of red pig weed EVERYWHERE. I don’t remember having a problems with this weed before, but this year, anywhere we put  compost or tilled up, it became covered in pig weed.  At one point (in mid august) I just gave up. I’m letting the weeds do what they want in the big garden. Partially because it seems pointless, but also because the deer don’t eat as much in the garden if it’s overgrown with weeds. Summer 2018 was a bad year for weeds and me.

The over grown garden

Garden troubles…

The patch directly in front in this picture was supposed to have rows of bush beans.  They are still kind of there under all the weeds, clinging to life, but the deer find them and mow them down any time they begin to thrive.  Then I have the patch of rainbow chard  and behind that I have our yellow zucchini. Both of which the deer don’t touch.

Next year I plan of having the garden fenced off and after tilling I want to set up that black plastic, so I can control the weeds more and help get the garden started earlier (we started this garden so late in the season). If I can swing it I also want to build a hoop house.

Corn Patch

Getting an earlier start next year…

With planting so late in the season ( I think I got everything in the ground by mid-June) I’m still waiting on my corn to finish, it’s almost there. I already harvested the potatoes and had a pretty good haul all things considered. It is by no means enough to feed us over winter, but it’s nice to enjoy some homegrown potatoes for a while.

Next year I really want to grow the potatoes in wooden towers. Have you done that before? I’ve grown them in tire towers, but the slugs were a nightmare. I feel like the wooden towers would work best for our set up.

marigolds have taken over

Finished projects…

One of our accomplished summer 2018 projects was filling in the old pond and turning it into a little garden.  We made steps out of bricks and railroad ties to step down into it and have it surrounded by stacked rocks ( lord knows we have abundance of rocks on this property). On either side of the path we have 4 blueberry bushes and a rosemary start. I then filled it in with several annual plants like marigolds, leeks, beets, carrots, basil and spinach. The marigolds grew bigger than expected and the basil didn’t like all the water (cause the blueberries love lots of water), but it’s been a productive little garden and I was finally able to grow spinach! I’ve tried  several years in a row and never so much as had them sprout. This year I had a whole row!

strawberries after deer

Deer…

So, I’ve mentioned the deer a few times now. I have never had them this bad before. I’ve had un-fenced gardens in the past with little to no deer damage, so this year I was caught off guard by their ferocious appetites. Pictured above is one of 2 strawberry beds I build in March. It was my first garden project of the year and I had ordered 50 strawberry plants to lovingly raise. Little did I know it would be the beginning of a garden war with the deer. The lush strawberry beds I pictured never fully materialized. The deer made sure to eat my strawberry plants down till they were almost dead.

I have sprayed deterrent. We’ve tried the fake owl. I have woken up at all hours of the night to scare them off. I’ve chased them while barking like a dog because just yelling at them doesn’t scare them. I’ve had to resort to covering the strawberries  with wire just to let them grow back. I’m currently working on a permanent wire box set up so myself and the bees and easily access the strawberries next year.

The strawberries are not the only thing they’ve eaten. they also discovered the spinach, carrots, roses, kale, bush beans, tomatoes…. okay, they’ve eaten MOST of my garden at this point and I kind of hate them.

Pears

On the plus side…

Our pears have over produced this year. They must have liked getting trimmed last winter cause they have gone crazy. We have so many that between the two house holds, pigs, and deer, we still can’t eat them all. Summer 2018 was a good year for pears.

Dinner the pig

Speaking of pigs…

The pigs are in heaven. If you’re subscribed to my newsletter you now how I feel about these not to little buggers. They have gotten better now that we have a free feeder for them so they have access to feed 24/7 instead of a bunch of feeding times. We also upped the amount of scraps (and pears!) they were getting and are plumping up nicely. They have until Thanksgiving before they go to the freezer camp.

This is our first year raising pigs and we have learned a lot. Mostly that we need better fencing and hotter hot wire. Thankfully we have 20 acres and they haven’t gone far when they’ve gotten out.  I have a feeling the deciding factor for  if we raise pigs again is going to be how tasty they are. Lol.

If your interested in learning more about raising pigs check out this post.

Our birds….

We currently have 2 geese, 10 ducks, 8 hens and 2 roosters (pictured is my Olive egger Rooster). Half the chickens are 2-3 years old and the other half are from this spring. We did have more chicks and more ducklings. But between raccoons, and a special dog, we had some casualties.  We decided not to get anymore birds until we can build the new bird coop, because obviously we need a secure location to keep those birdies safe.

The plan is to move all the birds into the barn for the Winter and as soon as the pigs are gone (maybe before) we are tearing down the existing chicken shack and rebuilding it. It’s the big winter project this next year and it is very needed.

the deck in progress

The Deck…

I haven’t had a full deck for 3 years and this summer we knocked it out of the park getting it finished. I just finished painting it and we just have to finish some steps to the fire pit and it will be complete! I’m so excited to have a deck again.  Our carport will no longer be a cluttered, I’ll finally have a spot to properly bbq and  we’ll get to enjoy the view off the back of the house again….. There is also talk of putting in a hot tub… but that’s probably  not happening till next year.

There you have it. Summer 2018 at the farm. Some projects are done. New projects have been identified. We raised and lost some animals. Had and epic battled deer and weeds. We ate good food and we loved doing it all together.

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