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Finally Back Up

You may have noticed that our website has been down for awhile. We had to change servers and when I tried to upload the files from the previous server, they would not work. After spending about two weeks trying to get the backups to work, we decided to take the hint from the powers that be and just make a new site.

So what’s been happening in the time we’ve been offline? Our turkeys have been laying all winter long. Last year, they started laying in early April and layed until the middle of September. This year, they started laying again in October and have been laying an egg every other day all winter. Maybe the weather was warm enough to encourage them although everything I’ve read about any bird that lays is that the lay cycle is triggered by daylight hours. So who knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

If you are in the market for turkeys, we still have about 30 young ones for sale at $15 each. Once they are old enough to sex, the price goes up to $35 each.

Although our toms get pretty big, maybe 35 pounds live weight, all of our turkeys are heritage varieties and not broad breast. Toms will run 30 – 35 pounds and hens will run 18 – 25 depending on the variety. In general, bronzes are bigger than Royal Palms or Bourbons.

Rhode Island Red ChickensDavid has a batch of young Rhode Island Red laying hens that he is selling for $25 each. This is a rare event because he almost never has layers for sale. He is trying to reduce inventory on the chickens because we are going to begin concentrating more on the turkeys. Hatching chickens has been really a great experience but the turkeys are just a lot more rewarding.

From a gardening perspective, we are trying a new thing with strawberries. We’ve tried twice before to grow strawberries here and I think it just gets too hot. So we have a new, semi-hydroponic thing that David built for me that could be promising. We will put the new rack on the back patio and see how that works.

We’ve had really good luck with raising baby Mexico fan palms on the back porch. It has taken the sacrifice of several young palms for me to realize that when I grew them in California, it was in almost complete shade. In a natural setting, the baby palms grow right underneath the parent trees so they get tons of protection from the sun. The baby palms on the back porch are doing beautifully in an area where I could not grow tomatoes because they did not get enough sun!

My goji (wolfberry) plants that I grew from seed (from China) are 3 years old this year and should bloom. I check them almost every day to see if they have any buds. Not yet, but I will defintely keep checking on them. I am so anxious to get some fruit from them to compare with our native wolfberry that grows around here literally like weeds. The native berries are very tasty but they are small. I fertilized them last fall with a good measure of horse manure hoping that the plants will grow more and produce more and larger fruit. We’ll see soon because it looks like blooms are on the way.

While talking about blooms, I see that the pomegranates are gearing up for good production this year. The new bushes are in their third season and should just produce their hearts out. I keep saying I am going to have pomegranates for sale in the fall, but we love grenadine so much that we harvest and can everything. Grenadine is SO good for you and I don’t think there is a fruit juice that David and I like better than grenadine. You just can’t go wrong there.

And the grapes are goings freaking NUTS. We only have two vines — a chardonnay (wine grape, of course) and a ruby (table grape). Last year we got about 10 bunches of absolutely delicious grapes from the ruby. They were sweet and delicious and for a month, I think, we had a bowl of fresh grapes every morning for breakfast. Last year, the chardonnay bloomed at least two weeks before the ruby. I didn’t realize for awhile that we had no bees so the chardonnay blooms went unpollinated. When the ruby bloomed, I realized the error of my ways and hand polinated the vine which resulted in a pretty reasonable crop of a 2 year old vine.

This is April 3, and both vines are covered in buds. Which pleases me greatly, of course. But I am surprised that both vines are blooming at the same time which is awesome. The cross pollination will produce much better and a lot more fruit than last year so I am really excited. I will, of course, be ready to hand pollinate our little crop.

ArtichokeLast year, I planted and grew about 20 artichokes from seed. As perennials, artichokes sometimes produce blossoms the first year but it’s more common for them to begin producing the second year and sometimes even the third. So it is no surprise that I didn’t get any blossoms from my crop last year.

If you have never grown artichokes, you have never experienced how big, beautiful and awe-inspring these plants can be. They can be absolutely jinormous at five feet tall and six feet wide. Their silvery-gray leaves are jaggedy and appropriately represent the thistle family to which they belong. A mature artichoke can produce 25 – 30 buds that are 5 to 6 inches in diameter over their growing season. Then you cut them back to nothing in the fall and they so the same thing the next year.

And being able to go out into the yard or garden and cut 3 or 4 huge buds to cook and slather the hearts in butter is just beyond a delicious dream.

So to get to the point, I have been transplanting artichokes to use as foundation plants around the house. And in truth, I never realized that these plants have roots that reach to hell. Transplanting them is like digging out a determined tree. Worth it, to be sure, but not without it’s blisters. Just giving you fair warning. Plant them where you want them to live and forget about transplanting. Jeez!

We used a LOT of onions each year. Last year I planted probably several hundred onion seeds and got a few that we can use. But not a lot. However, the seeds produced a lot of immature onions that I transplanted up by the house. I calculated that if we use, on average, one large onion a day, we need x number of onions planted whatever part … the upshot is that if I can plant a 6 ft x 6 ft plot of onions, that will probably hold us for the year. So that’s what I did.

A month after planting my onions, they began to produce blossoms. I know squatola about onions. What does this mean? Are they not going to produce onions and only produce seeds? What do I do know?

As it happens, about a half a mile south of us, someone planted a whole couple of acres of onions. And guess what? They are all producing flowers! So I am watching that field like hawk. Whatever that grower does, I am going to do, too. I don’t feel so bad now. I think I will actually get some onions from my garden this year. Yay!!!

So all in all, the past few months have pretty much been like many others. We experiment, we learn. Sometimes we win, sometimes we just learn. But it’s all good.

It’s a new spring with new challenges and, most likely, new rewards.

Keep the faith. Live strong. Be well  and wake up every morning happy and alive.

Our hearts are with you.