Monday, June 1, 2015

Dream Saga Series: Enjoying the Bounty




It's June on the farm, and it's been amazing to live here during the slide from spring into summer and enjoy some literal fruits of the season.

Last year at this time, we had just closed on the sale of our former home and were starting a rent-back period of one month. On June 1st of last year, we had been out to this lovely farmhouse, but had not decided to make the leap. That would come a few days later.

When we did make the offer and were in escrow and came out for inspections and visits, we enjoyed some of the fruit off the trees. However, by the time we moved into the house in late July, we had lost much of the grape and stone fruit harvest to the birds.


Baby birds nesting in one of our citrus trees

But not this year! This year we pruned trees and hung CDs from branches and watered and watered and the other night I had my very first apricot from our trees. And it was pure heaven! I hope I never lose the joy and wonder about being able to step out my front door and pick fruit right off the tree and eat it.

I have been busy in other ways as well. We have had citrus coming out of our ears for the last few months. I have made lemon curd, juiced and frozen lemons for lemonade in the summer. I've made lemon sorbet, lemon cupcakes, lemon chicken and lemoncello. My first batch is currently soaking in the rindy goodness in a dark cabinet.




I have made orange juice a plenty, eaten a ton of oranges and made orange sherbet (oh my...so good!)




I have been able to walk around and see the buds, flowers and beginnings of the fall fruits. It's amazing to see the green pods of the walnut tree that will eventually shrivel and reveal the nut inside. The blooms on the persimmon trees are spectacular too.

And a first all around for this property are the tiny olives on the olive tree. We have been diligently watering the tree to coax it to produce its fruit. We plan to process the olives (and maybe oil) in the fall.

And in my forty plus years, I have never seen the flower of pomegranate tree that will eventually turn into the delicious fruit. 




We have welcomed more animals to the farm as well. We decided to let every female animal get pregnant and have at least one litter/baby and then assess things. (Disclaimer: No humans getting pregnant over here!)

Our only female cat, Ashley, had four kittens several weeks ago and they are at that adorable frolicking stage.




We've been telling the kids all along that we are not going to be able to keep all four kittens -- since we already have three cats on the farm. But I am finding that I am having a hard time thinking about separating the kittens from their momma who is still nursing them so patiently. It's hard to not get attached.

Speaking of babies, we had a tough time finding chicks this spring to replenish our flock that fell prey to our dog(s). We went from ten chickens to six and we missed our egg production as well as the ones that got chomped. 

We decided to turn it into a homeschooling science project and borrowed a homeschool friend's incubator. We incubated a dozen Araucana eggs that we got from another homeschool family -- mostly because of their unusual green color.

We put the eggs in, plugged in the incubator and let it do the work. All we did was add water -- literally. Twenty-one days later, the first chick started pipping his shell. It was pretty amazing to see the process and literal struggle for life. Happily, ten out of twelve chicks hatched. One we helped along too early and it didn't make it, and one never matured.




We kept them in a dog crate inside for several weeks and the kids and cats were mesmerized.



Eventually, I got tired of the smell and the pine shavings everywhere, so we put them outside in a separate enclosure that we built and they are happily enjoying more space, while letting our other chickens get used to them.

We are not sure about the gender yet and we haven't decided on whether we will keep any roosters, but for now, everyone is happy, healthy and warm. We are looking forward to their eggs in another five months or so!



We also attempted to breed our female goats last month with a billy goat. They stayed at his place for three weeks and while we are not 100% certain, I think that at least one of them is pregnant. It takes three months and one week for gestation, so I suppose we will see in mid-August.



Of course, there is a never-ending amount of farm chores to do. We have been swimming in weeds and wild grass for the last few months and have been trying to get that under control. We also need to disk part of our property to cut down on any fire hazards. We are trying to figure out if hiring someone to do it makes more sense than getting our own equipment -- since we will be doing this every year (and maybe twice a year).

We also have a list (or accurately, *I* have a list of improvements that I would like to do around the farm to make it even more usable and fun for entertaining.

Since we really need to burn up some of the tree branches and growth we have been cutting and pruning back, I decided we need a fire pit that can do that, be a gathering place for s'mores and campfire songs and also give us some ashes for the chickens to take their dust baths in (it's good for them).

So, after buying the wrong kind of brick, the hubs helped me figure out what I did wrong and ordered the right kind of pavers so we could build this little beauty that we ended up putting to use that very night for our daughter's birthday slumber party s'more fest.



I am looking forward to more peaches (the birds got some of the first harvest) and apricots. The plums and grapes should be ready in another few weeks.

And by then, we will be at about the same point as we were when we moved out here last summer. However, this year we won't have floors to sand and refinish. We won't be packing up stuff and moving it and unpacking it.

We are going to have a lazy summer of swimming, eating fruit, building tree swings and a fort. I will get around to organizing some of the places where stuff got crammed last year and I will enjoy each day without getting crazy stressed out.

We will read books in the hammock and take cool drinks of water out of our outdoor water fountain.

But most of all, we will be together on our farm and continue making memories that will endure.



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