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Free leaves for the garden!

Free leaves for the garden!

I don't have many trees on my property which means that in the fall I have little to no raking to do.  That's both good and bad.  Good because I don't have to rake and bad because leaves are actually a valuable source of organic material and mulch.  I like to mulch my garden with leaves when possible and so the solution is.... to steal them!!! Well it's not quite as bad as that!  What I do is drive around with my trailer after everyone else has raked and bagged their leaves and then I ask for the bags!  Brilliant!  It helps me and it helps them too!  And I still didn't have to do any raking!

Spreading manure on our big garden!

Spreading manure on our big garden!

This weekend we spread manure on our large vegetable garden.  We're doing this now in the early winter because we want to give this fairly fresh cow manure time to rot in the ground.  This manure will add valuable organic matter and nutrients back into the soil.  We are spreading it in rows right where the crops were because we plan to use the same rows next year for new crops.  After we spread it we dig it in with a fork to ensure that it stays put and does not wash away in the winter rains.  We got this manure from a local farmer who lives just a few miles from us.  I would say in all we got about four yards total and we spread this over the two gardens in nine rows that are each about 50 feet long.  After this we will layer leaves on top of these rows to act as another layer of both protection and organic matter.

Bees - Mouse Guard

Bees - Mouse Guard

One of the final bee chores before it gets too much colder is the addition of a mouse guard on the front of the hive.  This is a metal or wood excluder that narrows the opening of the hive to a small slit just big enough for a bee.  This prevents mice from moving in over winter.  I know what you're thinking!  Why on earth would a mouse try to move into a hive!  Well...

Bees Gone! CCD?

Bees Gone!  CCD?

Tragedy has struck our hives!  One of them has NO BEES!  This hive was our most vibrant and active all summer long.  When I put the second medication pack in a few weeks ago the bees were there, now they are not.  They left all their larve and all their honey.   It just doesn't make sense.  Perhaps it is CCD or colony collapse disorder?  Bees from the other two hives are in there now just robbing all the honey.  It really is very upsetting.

Hurricane Sandy - Aftermath on our farm.

Hurricane Sandy - Aftermath on our farm.

We survived Hurricane Sandy without too much damage.  The worst thing was the outer covers on our bee hives were blown off.  That's very bad. I wish I had thought to put a weight on top of the hives.  The bees seem ok but a little sluggish perhaps.  I kept the chickens closed in so they wouldn't be hurt and overall the soil erosion was not that bad.  We lost power for about 8 hours but we have a standby generator!

Heritage wheat - Part 3

My heritage wheat has germinated beautifully!  Several plants actually have two small stalks emerging from one seed. This is typical of the way grass grows but it's also good news for me since every stalk that grows will produce a head of grain.  I've read that particularly with emmer as many as 40 stalks can grow out of one seed!  Wow!  I'm going to leave the remay cloth on for a little longer because I want the seedlings to be protected from cold as long as possible and I also dont' want any crows to pull them up!  It's late October so pretty soon we will get a good hard freeze and they will go dormant for the winter.