I have been much too busy outside, or trying to get outside, to do a blog post. I'll do one of just pictures next, but I have the energy this evening to report and no pictures.
First, we rebuilt the cow fence last weekend. Violet was pushing and pushing against the only post that did not have an offset wire, and the thawed, sandy soil pretty much gave up the post. We bought a panel gate, set a post and ran the offset wire around the entire paddock. (An offset wire is an electric wire that keeps cows off a fence.) We also put the bale of hay she had torn into inside the paddock, and miracle of miracles, she's eating it. It's the same hay she had only been picking at when it was doled out; I guess she just wanted the whole bale. Sure, there's waste, but I kind of don't care at the moment. We can use the wasted hay in the garden, and I am happy to deal with the waste if she will just eat.
I also set 7 posts around the big garden and got my poultry net looking tidier. I fence the garden instead of the chickens. It turns out poultry net does a better job keeping chickens out of an area than in an area, and the garden does not object to fencing in quite the way the chickens do. I do not like how the poultry net looks as garden fence, but it's easy to mow around, it's easy to put up, and it's the fence I already own.
The children and I figured out if we doubled up on reading and math, and do mostly oral follow ups, we could finish school by the end of the coming week. WOOHOO! Don't get me wrong- we like school, but we also like when we're done with school for the summer. Now is the time to be outside, not laboring around the kitchen table.
We also weeded and mulched about 95% of the big garden. This is the 60' X 60' garden that was new last spring and just kind of limped along all summer, as I never had quite enough time to get it settled. Surprisingly, my half-ass care kept the weeds back pretty well. The end farthest from the house had the most grass, but what mulching I had done even made this not too onerous to pull out. It has been somewhat tedious, but the garden looks fabulous and is ready for some plants. We'll finish weeding it and mulching it this week, in between ballet and library groups.
I distributed lime on all the pastures. That was heavy work. I used the tractor, but I still had to get all the lime into the spreader. I figure I moved a thousand pounds twice that day.
I got a couple of beds in the house garden ready, as well. I transplanted one tray of onions that was not looking so great. The soil was cold, but the onions were done being crowded. I can see that none of them look worse, and some are definitely showing new growth. The leeks and shallots are not objecting as strenuously to the cramped quarters and the tray of onions I planted almost two months later than the first trays looks fabulous. I'll start all my alliums later next year and I'll thin them.
Today, I transplanted the early cabbage. It was looking great, because the trays have been in the hoophouse the past week. The plants definitely like that surround sunlight better than what they get through the windows. Still, today was a leaf day, the soil was almost 50, and the cabbages were not going to be happy in the tray too much longer. Tomorrow is a fruit day, and I hope to plant peas in the garden and start the tomatillos.
I sprayed milk on all the pastures today. It was a few days later than I really wanted to, but I'm sure I'll still see a benefit. I only had 1.5 gallons to spare for all the pastures, but supposedly it doesn't take much. If we find ourselves with more milk later, I'll do it again. The optimum time is just when the grass is turning green, and boy has it done that this week. I swear you could sit and watch it happen without even being all that patient.
Ezra and I also planted 18 berries. One of my friends was placing a last minute order, and she suggested it might make more sense to buy more gooseberries and currants than to move them again. I was easily convinced, as I did not relish the idea of digging them up yet again. It turned out the bare-root bundles were twice the size we expected, so I got 10 gooseberries and 10 currants. I decided to put them in the big garden. I put a row of gooseberries at the top end of the garden, away from the drive, thinking that since they're perennials they might slow water down at the top of the hill. The currants I planted in the north end of each row thinking they might offer a windbreak. The last two currants Ezra is going to pot up as a present. I think the berries will make the garden look prettier year round.