June 28, 2023

Garden Notes: June 2023


  • 11th: 0.26"
  • 12th: 4.32" 
  • 15th: 0.03"
  • 19th: 0.53"
  • 20th: 3.22"
  • 21st: 0.78"
  • 22nd: 0.48"
  • 25th: 0.07"
  • Total: 9.69 inches

  • range of nighttime lows: 53 to 67°F (12 to 19.4°C)
  • range of daytime highs: 66 to 87°F (19 to 30.5°C)

Weather Notes

Typical June temperatures but more rain than usual.

Garden Notes

June is an in-between month. The cool weather crops peter out about mid-month, but the summer veggies aren't quite ready to harvest yet. I think the greenhouse will be the remedy for this. If I get my summer veggies started about a month earlier than direct sowing, we'll be enjoying the produce as the spring crops go to seed.

Of fruit, we're still getting a few strawberries every couple of days and the raspberries are producing.

strawberries and raspberries

Last year we got quite a few mulberries from our young tree, but this year it produced very few berries and those few disappeared. Likely eaten by birds. I had hoped they'd fill the gap between strawberries (mostly May) and blueberries (usually July). Instead, we got a happy surprise of early blueberries.


They're plump and sweet and the bushes are loaded. Hopefully, we'll get more than the birds this year!

Figs are our August fruit harvest, but for the past couple of years we've lost some fig trees.

Dead fig tree behind the barn.

Except for this one branch!

This fall, Dan will cut back the dead part and we'll nurture the living branch. We'll also transplant some of the saplings. This is the second fig tree we've lost in the past two years, and we don't want to lose any more.

Our remaining fig tree is producing well.

I have no idea how old these trees are. I discovered them our first year here, when I was trimming back the wildly overgrown backyard. Hopefully, we can get some new trees going for future harvests.

Tomatoes are beginning to ripen.

Corn is shooting up and the buckwheat is going to seed.

Swiss chard


Digging the first of the potatoes.

Biggest pest

June beetles

The June beetles have taken over my raspberry plants and lone table grape vine. Last year, neem worked. This year, I spray, they fly away, and come back with a vengence.

Parting shot

Baby praying mantis. It's about an inch long!

How is everyone else's garden growing? Well, I hope!

June 24, 2023

Of Fallen Trees and What We Do With Them

In my last blog post, I mentioned that a tree had fallen on our fence.

Uprooted pine tree.

It's a pine tree that was growing on the other side of the pasture fence. When it uprooted and fell, it got caught in the branches of an oak tree, so it didn't hit the ground. Being precarious and therefore dangerous, it had to come down. 

This is actually a fairly common occurrence here. It's always pine trees because pines are pioneer trees; they grow quickly in untended open areas, then gradually give way to young hardwoods. This is called succession. They grow tall and spindly competing for the sun. Their fast growth makes them weaker and subject to uprooting when the ground is too saturated or breaking mid-trunk when the winds are high. Fortunately, no buildings or critters have ever been hit (including us!) although we've lost a lot of fences from this happening. These trees were the motivating factor in buying Dan's portable sawmill and have provided most of the lumber we've used for building projects.

Dan first checked to make sure it was safe, and then let the billy boys into the pasture to eat the oak leaves.

Piedy and Magnus on their way to check it out.

Jonah got there first. The little building you see in the
background is our original buck barn, Fort William.

Most people typically graze goats on pasture, but their preferred food is browse, i.e., leaves and tender twigs from trees and shrubs. So, the boys happily did the job of stripping leaves.

When they were done, Dan cut the tree down, trimmed off the branches, and dragged the log to the sawmill.

Bonus points if you can spot the two cats.

The project we have in mind is the second pergola to shade the front bedroom windows on the setting sun side of the house. 

These windows get the hot afternoon summer sun.

Having a project in mind meant Dan could cut the log to the specs he wanted.

This project isn't imminent, but the cutting needs to be done to give the lumber time to cure. It will be ready when we get to it.

Rough cut & curing. Sticks (stickers) between
the pieces allow air to flow so it will dry evenly.

The branches were run through our chipper for the wood chip pile.

The pine wood chips

When we're done, all of the tree has been utilized. 

Did you spot the two cats in the above photo? In case you didn't, here they are.



June 21, 2023

Ducklings: Good News Bad News

The good news is that after Little Ducky's close call (you can read about it in this post - More Drama in the Chicken Coop), he's doing well For a couple of days he had a lot of trouble getting around and we weren't sure if he was going to make it. Here's a 30 second video clip of how he's doing now.

The bad news is that another black snake sneaked into the coop and killed two of our four ducklings. Little Ducky was NOT one of them, but the loss is still discouraging, nonetheless. 

Dan and I are now talking about an overhaul of the chicken coop. Snakes have killed baby poultry over the years (and stolen who knows how many eggs). We did snake proof the coop once-upon-a-time, but they still squeeze in who knows where. The other problem is the squabbling for the space under the nest boxes. Rearrangements are in order.

June 17, 2023

Greenhouse: Roof Done!

It's been almost two months since my last greenhouse blog post. Progress has been slow for a lot of reasons. One reason was my sewing room, which started as a rainy day project. Then Dan kept going to finish his part of the project (he doesn't like having too many unfinished projects on his plate). A tree fell on the fence and had to be dealt with (more on that soon). And seasonal chores, of course, such as pasture work and harvesting our small patch of wheat.

Anyway, here it is.

Our heavy rain last week (over 4.5 inches in less than 24 hours!) tested it out. No leaking! That's a relief. Walls are next.

June 13, 2023

More Drama in the Chicken Coop

First, some background: Several weeks ago, I told you about our Muscovy and Jersey Buff turkey hen squabbling over the eggs. Since neither one was going to budge, they finally "settled" the dispute by sharing the nest. Not long after that, one of our Speckled Sussex hens pushed her way onto the nest and refused to move. So the three of them have been continually jockeying for position. What makes matters worse is that the other hens insist on trying to lay there too, so we have an over-crowded jumble of eggs on that communal nest with no way of knowing what's going on. 

Hatching begins: We finally spotted one chick 

Readily adopted by Mama Hen for mothering

and one duckling.

1st duckling to hatch; followed Mom Muscovy
out into the chicken yard, but they didn't stay long.

Mostly, everyone was sitting tight on the nest, so there's no way to know for sure what's happening. This isn't unusual, as new babies take several days recovering from hatching before regular ventures out into the world.

Now, for the drama: Dan was in his workshop the other day, when he heard a ferocious racket in the chicken coop. He assumed it was Mama Chicken and Mom Muscovy fighting over the nest again, but he went to check it out anyway. When he got there, he saw a snake tail sticking out from the nest! He grabbed it and threw it against the wall, which stunned it. That's when he noticed the back end of a duckling sticking out of it's mouth. Dan grabbed a hoe, pinned the snake's head down, and managed to pull out a live duckling! 

The snake was promptly dispatched and we brought the duckling inside to make sure it was alright. I put it on a heating pad and we observed it for several hours, until it was alert and chirping. Then it was put back under the mamas in the nest. Talk about a close call!

The next day it was fine, and I was able to get some pictures. 

This is why we've had a problem. Instead of setting in
the nest boxes, they all want to set under the nest boxes.

It's hard to know how many are actually under there.

Duckling on the left is our snake survivor (still with dried snake siliva
on it's head.) Behind it is the baby chick. Two ducklings on the right.

Final count is four ducklings and one chick. Three of the ducklings are doing well, but the little guy who almost got eaten by a snake is lagging. Honestly, he looked a bit premature after his rescue, and we surmise that the snake went after the egg. Even though it broke, he was close enough to hatching that he can breath air, but he isn't getting around as well as the others. It may be a leg injury, hard to tell.

Our two turkey poults are doing well. They are now two weeks old.

They blend in well to their background!

They're beginning to look less like baby chicks.

Jenny B has proven to be an excellent mother.

The only broody mama with no babies is Jenny J. In looking over the remaining eggs in the nest, they all appear to be duck eggs. No turkey eggs. I find it curious that she readily adopted eggs that were already there without laying her own. Mama Hen took over the chick and Mom Muscovy took over the ducklings, so it's sad that Jenny J has no one to mother. 

I'd like to say all's well that ends well, but there are still many perils about for baby poultry. We just have to do our best to protect them and hope for the best. No more adventures would be fine with me.

June 9, 2023

Sewing Room: Lots of Progress

Continued from here.

It's been awhile since my last sewing room blog post, so I have a lot to show you. Pictures will tell it all.

Trimwork done, ceiling painted, walls washed.

For painting, I kept the same color scheme as the room originally had: white ceiling and crown molding, light green walls. The paint was leftover from when I painted our bedroom years ago, and amazingly, it was still good.

Hard to catch the actual shade of green.

One challenge with the trim was that Dan couldn't match the new with the old. We couldn't find the same crown molding for the ceiling, nor the cove molding to finish the baseboard. For the closet and now where he covered the old outside doorway, he went with something completely different. So, I painted it a bit differently too.

That's how a problem becomes a design feature. I think it looks okay. Actually, I can visualize turning that panel into a chalk or corkboard, except that I need the wall space for shelving and storage.

I also had to address the tiny closet.

Closet before painting

Its plywood walls were stained dark green and the floor was painted dark brown. Those colors plus the cob-webby ceiling gave it a creepy feeling. Being small and having no light, it was difficult to photograph. 

Closet after painting

Big difference, huh? I like it! I will use it mostly for tote storage.

Then it was time to start moving in, with shelving and area rug first.

Amazingly, the area rug fits perfectly. I found it at Ollie's ("Good Stuff Cheap"). I'm hoping it works well for a sewing and fiber room floor because the colors aren't solid. Every other stripe is two-tone. Maybe that will help "hide" random threads and fibers that inevitably end up on the floor!

Shelves, filing cabinet, and old-fashioned TV cabinet ready for stuff

After we got a flat screen TV, I almost sold the TV cabinet, but now I'm glad I didn't. I kept it because it's oak, and I figured it would be useful someday. I have storage containers that will work well there. The filing cabinet will be perfect for patterns, handouts, and loose leaf project instructions I've collected.

On the exterior wall of the room, I used my tall bookcase as a room divider because I didn't want to cover any of the windows. I painted the back of it the same color as the walls, so it makes a corner on that wall.

Still to hang - curtains, And the baseboard needs to be finished.

I want to put a work/cutting table in that corner, so I've started checking thrift stores for an old dining table for that purpose.

As you can tell by my using the bookcase as a room divider, I'm not using the entire room for my sewing area. The actual length of this room is 20 feet, but I'm using 11 feet of it. The other side opens up to the living room (original photos here), and that's the side where the door to the greenhouse will go.

The tall left-hand window will be replaced with a door.

After the door is in, Dan will finish the back wall too.

The next step is going through my fiber, fabric, sewing, spinning, and weaving boxes and deciding where to put everything. All of that will likely take some time, but eventually I will have a functional sewing room to show you!

Next: Sewing Room Sneak Peek

June 5, 2023

Hatch Announcement: Poults!

Last month I showed you our Spanish Black turkey hen hiding in the hedgerow and setting eggs. (That post here.) The incubation for turkeys is 28 days, so I had the end of May circled on my calendar. Sure enough, right about that time she got off the nest and Dan spotted three poults. The problem was that being out there meant that those babies could be easy pickings for a cat, skunk, or raccoon. We decided to put her and the poults in our big dog carrier and move her someplace safer - the turkey yard.

She also had about 8 unhatched eggs, which we put in the carrier along with the poults. These three were the only ones that hatched.

From what Dan and I have read, turkey poults are the most difficult of all poultry to raise. They have a lower survival rate that the other species. Jenny B is a good mother, but even so, one of them had problems. We're not sure what, but it seemed to pass out for awhile, recover and run around, and then pass out again. We separated it, keeping it where she could see and smell it, but sadly, it didn't make it. 

So, we have two and are hoping for the best. It's always hard to lose animals.

In the hen house, we have our other turkey hen, one of our Muscovies, and a chicken all hunkered down tight on nests. I told you about the egg fiasco, and it seems that that Jenny J won the battle over the eggs. When Dan checked, Mom Muscovy was sitting on an empty nest. So he gave her five duck eggs, which she twittered over and tucked into her nest. The question is whether she's got another 32 days of broody left in her. Of Jenny J's, we're thinking something should have hatched by now, but she's about a week behind Jenny B, so she may yet get some poults. Or ducklings. Or chicks. We'll have to wait and see.