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Antiquity Oaks blog
|Kat doing a goat milking demo in 2012
We are busy getting ready for the Third Annual Livingston County Farm Crawl, which will be held next weekend, August 23 and 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. In addition to visiting our farm, you can also visit four other nearby family farms.
|Set-up of our soap and wool the first year
Why are we doing this? Well, it all started when I was complaining to a friend one day. You see, we used to get quite a few phone calls and emails from total strangers who wanted to come see our farm in person because they'd seen our website or read one of my books or seen an article and so on. At first it was a lot of fun! But after the tenth or fifteenth time, you start to realize that nothing gets done when you're walking around with visitors chatting -- even when they volunteer to help you, because really, they don't know what they're doing so it takes longer to explain things to them than it would to just do it yourself. So, I decided to set aside a few days each summer just for visitors. Whenever someone would contact me about visiting, I'd suggest that they come on one of our Open Farm days. We did that for a few years, and then one day I was complaining to a farm friend in Iowa about how much work it was to get the farm all gussied up just for a dozen or so visitors. And she said, "Why don't you have a farm crawl?" A what?
I guess pubs are few and far between in Iowa, so instead of pub crawls they do farm crawls. It made sense that if a few farms got together to promote a day where people could visit multiple farms, we would get more visitors. There were four farms total, and we figured that if each of us could get 10 or 20 people to come, that would be 40 to 80 for all four farms. We were all very surprised and excited when we had 300 visitors that first year!
Last year another farm joined, making a total of five farms for people to visit, and this year we've decided to go from Saturday only to Sunday also. If the number of visitors continues to grow, it could get a little crazy on a single day.
You can visit the official Farm Crawl website
to see the map and list of farms, which includes what you will see at each farm and what will be available to buy. Here is what will be happening on Antiquity Oaks:Available to purchase:
vegetables, eggs (both chicken and duck), goat milk soap made with organic oils, Shetland wool roving, Shetland and llama yarn, raw Shetland fleeces, Old English Southdown wool batting, naturally colored sheepskins, llama and wool rugs, books on raising livestock, gardening, homesteading, etc. Credit cards accepted. Demonstrations:
Saturday, 10:30 a.m. Goat milking
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Solar oven cooking demo
Saturday, 2 p.m. Mozzarella making
Sunday, 11 a.m. Scything (cutting grass hay with a scythe)
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Solar oven cooking demo
Sunday, 3 p.m. Goat milking
Due to all the challenges that you've all been hearing about over the past few months, things happened later than usual this year, and the garden was no exception. However, we are doing better than I had expected. Here's what it looks like now ...
The perennials are done producing and just hanging out until next year. That's asparagus in the middle, rhubarb on the left and strawberries in the lower right corner...
The tomato plants are still really small ...
but we have tomatoes! They are still green but should be ripening soon. These are chocolate cherry tomatoes, and I can hardly wait. No, they do not taste like chocolate. They are chocolate colored, and they are as yummy as chocolate in their own way. They are definitely my favorite cherry tomato.
The zucchini and patty pan squash are doing great. The row on the left is zucchini, and the row on the right is patty pan squash. They were planted six feet apart, but they are so big, they have eclipsed the walkway. It seems like we can never plant them far enough apart. When you have nothing but seeds in your hands, it always seems like you are giving them more than enough room. I think I may have even posted on here in a previous year that I was going to start planting them eight feet apart.
And here are some awesome peppers that we are trying for the first time -- feher ozon paprika. They are supposed to ripen to a peachy-orange color. It's a sweet pepper, and yes, you can supposedly dry them and grind them up to make paprika.
A month ago, I planted some Swiss chard...
There are also onions and kale, but I didn't get pictures of them. Sunday I planted five types of lettuce in one of the raised beds: flame, Ella Kropf, speckled, Yugoslavian red butterhead, and bunte forellenschluss. Some of the raised beds have hoops on them so that we can cover them and continue to harvest through the winter! Soon we'll be planting more fall crops, such as arugula and more spinach and lettuce, also in the raised beds.
This poor tree was planted in 2008, and this is the first year that it has produced more than three or four fruit. Most of our fruit trees are producing a decent harvest by three years of age. Our pears trees produced an average of 27 pounds each in their third year.
I do have to give the apple tree credit for merely surviving, as it is the young fruit tree closest to the barn, which means that whenever the goats accidentally get out, it is the first one to be attacked. You can see that the bark was recently stripped off on the left side of the trunk. Unfortunately, this type of thing happens at least annually.
You may have also noticed the lack of mulch, which doesn't help, as the tree has to compete with the grass and weeds for water and nutrients. As soon as the apples are harvested, I will add compost and mulch. I normally do that twice a year -- in spring and in fall -- but because of my injuries and illnesses the first six months, it was one of the many things that slipped through the cracks. So, I am especially grateful that this little tree pulled through with such a nice harvest!
Yikes! July is already more than half done! My knee has finally improved enough that I am able to do about 80% of what I normally can do, which is really great news for me and everyone else here.
My baby daughter has flown the coop big time! Even though she had been at the University of Illinois for the past two years, that was less than two hours away. On Friday she moved all the way to Ft. Collins to begin work on her Ph.D. at Colorado State.
And here are a few pictures of things happening around the farm....
We have been teaching Tinker the yearling lady llama to lead, and she is doing splendidly! I never dreamed I would ever have a llama as friendly as her. Most are quite aloof, but Tinker is a true sweetheart, loving attention ...
We just moved the youngest batch of chickens out of the barn and into their bottomless pen (a.k.a. chicken tractor) ...
And the ducklings that hatched a month ago are growing so fast ...
Hope to get another update out before another month passes!
Life moves on around here at lightening speed this time of year, regardless of whether anyone is injured or sick or if something gets broken.
I am happy to say that Charlotte is doing very well. She came home the day I slipped and fell in the bathroom, so I have not been able to spend any time with her as it was rather challenging for me to walk more than a few steps after falling and landing on my knee. Mike and the girls took Charlotte's boys out to see her after she got back, but no one seemed to recognize anyone. The kids were only a day and a half old when Charlotte was taken to the University, and she stayed there for a week, so I knew it would be asking for a little miracle for them to recognize each other, but I wanted to at least try. So, the boys are drinking goat milk from a bottle.
Speaking of my knee, I went to the ortho doc a week after falling again, and he talked me into a cortisone injection. After the injection, he said that he would expect it to flare up and get worse for a couple of days. It did flare up, but unfortunately, it lasted for more than two or three days. It is improving a little now, a full week after the injection, but I am still unable to do anything without it swelling up even worse. Physical therapy is supposed to start next Wednesday, but I am not terribly hopeful unless the swelling goes down.
|Silver fir tree tomato plant at sundown
We are still planting in the garden, and we are not being helped by a rabbit or two (or five) that is eating bedding plants or newly sprouted seeds. Something ate almost all of our lemon squash plants, as well as a few pepper plants and eggplant plants. Mike chased a rabbit out of the garden yesterday and sealed up the hole in the fence that it came through, but I'm not terribly sure that there are not more of them hiding in the garden area. There are a few places with very tall weeds where they could be living.
Yesterday, 52 baby cockerels arrived from Cackle Hatchery. They are being raised for meat. We were not able to hatch enough chicks this year, so I finally got tired of waiting and ordered some males.
|Buff Orpingtons at six weeks of age
We sold the eight Delaware chickens that we hatched, and we have some buff Orpingtons that are now about six weeks old, and we have moved them into a chicken tractor. Once the pullets are big enough, we will integrate them into the laying flock, and the few males that are in there will be used for meat.
|Six-week old heritage turkeys, mostly Royal Palm
We moved our turkey poults into a moveable pen also. As they get larger, we will split the group and move half of them into another pen so they are not crowded.
And last but not least, the ducks are doing a good job of reproducing this year. We only have four females, but two have hatched ducklings already! All males will become dinner while the females will be kept to lay eggs next next, as well as to make more ducklings. Yes, the mama is white while the babies are black. We have a black Cayuga drake so we're assuming these are all his babies.