Friday, March 28, 2014


 March 14, we began the process of planting out at Purgatory Ranch.  First, this required mowing.
 Since we're adding a new bed this year, James mowed the entire triangle.  Dust was flying, but we tried to keep top soil loss to a minimum.
 That was it for the evening, especially after the brakes locked up on our trailer and caught fire just as we reached home.
 March 15, James organized a delivery of 8 tons (maybe more) of composted cow manure.  He then proceeded to till our  beds.  Meanwhile, I made a trip or two home and cut potatoes.  And cut potatoes. Did I mention we purchased 140 pounds of potatoes this year?
 We brought fishing wire and yarn to mark our rows, keeping me from my inability to plant anything in a straight line.

 50 pounds of potatoes later (Yukon gold in the south bed and Viking plus leftover Yukon in the north bed) meant we were out of space with only 1/3 of our crop planted.  Aiyiyi.
 There was a little mishap with a shovel as well!  (You know us... there's always a mishap.)

Weather brought excitement in the form of hail, high winds, and 1.5" of rain, which we definitely needed.  It also enforced no more planting for most of spring break, as it was too wet.

More potatoes (most of the remaining) were planting at Secondhand Ranch on the 20th.  From the south, we planted 12 rows: (1-2) Kennebec, (3-4) eastern half Kennebec, western half Red Lasota, a new variety for us, (5-6) Red Norland, (7-8) western tip R. Norland, mainly Russet Burbank, east tip Dakota, and finally 9-12 was all Dakota Crisp.  All told, we planted 25 pounds each of Kennebec, Yukon Gold, Red Norland, Dakota Crisp, and Purple Viking.  We also planted 10 pounds of Russet Burbank and 5 of Red Lasota.

Finally, we were able to plant out 14 bundles of onions on the 22nd.  With 6 bundles of Candy, 2 of Red Candy, 2 Texas SuperSweet, 2 Southern Belle, and 2 Vidalia, it was a busy time.  For record keeping purposes, we planted east to west in this order: (1) Vidalia, (2) Red Candy, (3) Texas Supersweet, (4-5) Southern Belle, (6-11) Candy, and (12-13) Red Candy.
To wrap up our planting, James eked out a few rows of All Blue at Yahweh Jireh Acres as well as a few rows of remaining Dakota Crisp.


Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chicken Soup

No, we're not eating anyone.  There's just enough chicken news of varying sorts that it's a soup!

Soup is still hovering over six eggs, the first of which should hatch next Wednesday.  Ooh!  The kids are excited, as James and I are.  It would be nice to know we can hatch our own chicks from year to year instead of purchasing from Atwoods or online in minimum orders of 15.

She's a scary being, let me tell you.  When she first went broody, we decided to slip a few extra eggs under her, so she's have good chances of hatching out at least one or two.  The first time or two I added an egg, she tried to peck me and the egg.  The egg didn't break, and she realized I wasn't trying to touch her.  I definitely wore gloves, however.

When she hops down from her box to drink or dig food, every feather on her body is fluffed out.  She looks big!

To add to our chicken news, the turkens have finally started to lay regularly again.  I will confess to being disappointed in this chickens and their lack of laying.

As they arrived this morning!
Finally, in a fit of madness, we ordered 15 chicks to add to our egg laying flock.  I have a craving for blue eggs (they're so pretty), so we ordered 8 "easter eggers."  We also ordered 7 Plymouth Rock Barred chicks, as they are cold hardy and supposed to be regular layers, even in winter.

Our lone yellow chick is already named Peep.
They were supposed to arrive mid April, but somewhere in the ordering process my request for a mid April delivery date was lost.  So they arrived today.  It's awfully cold, but they aren't too huddled together, so they must be okay.

We'll use paper towels for bedding for a few days, until I know they are all eating.  They all took to drinking readily, which makes me happy.  It's amazing how much more I know this year than I did with our first chicks (and how much I KNOW I don't know.  Aak!).

Chicks make me happy.  I don't know why, entirely, as they take a lot of work with bedding management, manure balls on their toes, and the occasional pasty butt, but they are darling.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Winter Observations

There is nothing quite like waking to the smoke alarm.  James and I searched the house for the source of the horrible burning plastic smell but never found it, so resorted to dialing 911 at 2 am.  After response from three nearby towns, an hour of searching the house from top to bottom, and some wildly exhausted kids, nothing.

Having firefighters troll through your house makes you want to clean everything and then get rid of everything.  At least that's how James and I feel.  It's not even that our house is so dirty... I don't clean every room every day, we have four kids, and... Well... The storage and art rooms are last on my list to clean.  Of course that's the smoke alarm that was having the hiccups.

We have too much stuff.  Too much.

It's officially bitterly cold when the heat has been running since about 10 pm last night.  With windchill, it's -17 F.  My fingers were numb upon returning from chicken chores this morning.

We ordered meat and egg laying chicks.  Although I requested delivery around April 18, it would appear that Purely Poultry had chicks they needed to ship earlier than that, as our egg layers will be arriving around March 8.

We are currently nestled under an ice and snow layer approximately 3" thick.

Off to take warm water to the chickens!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.