This post was written for Fertile Imagination @ http://community.fertilityflower.com/ where I have monthly column. Feel free to visit me over there, too!
Let me just say, emphatically, that I am sooo ready for winter to be over. It is not cooperating one bit. Last year, with March generally being our snowiest month, we didn’t get one drop of snow. It was melting by now.
This year, we still have lots of snow and the temperature today is a whopping 22 degrees outside but feels like 11 with a low of -13 tonight. Fun!
Inside however we have started our seedlings. American Flag Leeks, Carantan Leeks, Giant Musselburg Leeks, Pepinos, Thai Red Papaya, Pink Bananas, and Heartseal (Johnny Jump-ups). The bananas, papayas, and pepinos will be planted in big pots so that they can be brought in when it starts to get cold again.
In another week we will start all of our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, strawberries, huckleberries, and sun berries. We are anticipating so much new growth over the next few months farm wise. We ordered our new chickens, ducks, and geese last night. Twenty-five meat birds, twenty-five new laying hens (a few will go to some good friends) Black Swedish Ducks, Khaki Campbell Ducks, and White Embden Geese. The boys got Crevecoeurs, Golden Polish, and Silver Polish Chickens for 4H. We will place additional seed orders today.
Lots of prayer and planning have gone on these long winter months and we have realized that we have a passion for helping people, all people, have access to really good, wholesome food that they can afford. The reality is, that until massive changes are made to the food supply system we have now, its up to us to enact change. Its up to us to help our local economies and communities. We are striving to achieve a balance between affordable food and being able to make a living. We have ordered our bees and will be getting those set up in the next month or two, whenever the weather decides to cooperate. We have found goats for meat, still searching high and low for milk goats. Our barn and fences really need some work before we get anymore big animals, so we are looking into the smaller ones right now.
If you are looking for a way to be a bit more self sustainable but have a small space to work with meat rabbits may be the way to go. They take up much less space, are not noisy like cows, goats, or chickens. They breed eight times a year regardless of season, furs can be a additional source of income, and rabbit meat has a delicate flavor and is leaner than beef or pork. They are very easy to maintain as long as they have proper ventilation in their housing and are easy to clean and prepare for the freezer. Rabbit poo is also very good for your garden and doesn’t need to be composted. There is also a rising demand for rabbit meat. I have looked online for rabbit and average prices are $25 - $30 for one 3 lb rabbit. I can tell you right now that I won’t be charging that price because I can’t afford it and reasonably priced food is our goal with this farm.
Another great way to maximize your growing space is to utilize squares instead of rows for some plants. I am going to plant in 2'x2' squares this year instead of rows. A 1'x4' row will yield 12 beets while a 2'x2' box will yield 36 plants because you can stagger them. If you have a small garden space this may be something to consider. We will also be doing raised beds with our 2'x2' boxes to make it easier for the kids to know exactly where they can step. It is our hope that gardening this way will cut down on the weeding we have to do as well. Things are moving along and if weren’t for the snow they would be moving much faster.
I would love to hear what you are planning at your home this growing season, whether it is just a few pots of tomatoes on the patio, a new garden, or the addition of backyard animals. Have questions? I would love to help if I can! Happy Growing!