Wednesday, July 13, 2011

he's on the way

Tomorrow morning I'll be getting up before dawn to sneak into the coop in the dark and pull out all the animals going to slaughter at Ben Shaw's farm in Greenwich. I'll load them into the back of my pickup, and by 5AM be on the road with Gibson to drop them off. A dozen chickens are heading for the crates as well as the two ducks and a few rabbits. I have folks already asking when they'll be delivered and space waiting in the chest freezer for what is staying here.

I used to feel this sort of excitement before I got on planes.

I seem to be better at this animal side of the food spectrum then the vegetable side. Sometimes I wonder what that says about me? That I am better at birth and death than I am at slow growth and harvest?

By the time I turn in tomorrow night I will have chickens, duck, rabbits, and some pork in my freezer. Not bad for 6 and a half acres and a full time job. However, besides a thriving potato patch, I don't have much to offer my larder on the vegetable side. My small gardens are once again being eaten down by deer. Sunflowers were chomped in half, pumpkin vines tarnished and bent, and the sole survivors seem to be the Italians. Tomatoes, basil, onions, and zucchini. While it is a 100% better than last year's vegpocalypse, it's nothing to brag about.

I dream of a large garden, a "put-uppers" garden. 50x75 feet with good soil fed with compost from my other adventures here, a sturdy fence, fake plastic owls, electric tops, and netting. A vegetable jail from all the critters that once again might just ruin my Halloween pumpkins.

But not tonight. Tonight I can write down and sketch out those future pumpkin patches, but right now a girl's got to be happy about a chicken roasting over her own carrots and potatoes on a crisp fall Sunday. Which will come. I can almost taste it. My October is on the way.

32 Comments:

Blogger Mary Ann said...

Indeed, October is glimpsing right around the bend. I can smell your chicken! Lol, we have a large vegetable garden and a sturdy electric fence to help us stay on friendly terms with our deer. You'll get there--one food group at a time!

Mary Ann

July 13, 2011 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger TheUrbanRabbit said...

I think I feel comfortable in the garden but I haven't gotten a chance to experience the livestock first hand. Have you thought of planting brambles (raspberries or blackberries) or osage orange hedges? They take time to grow but will provide the deer with something edible and if tall enough can keep them out. There's the added bonus of berries and a hedge for birds and bees.

July 13, 2011 at 10:31 PM  
Blogger Drummond Farms Alpacas and Woolens said...

Hey, having the meat end of it going along in full force is fantastic! We are trying to keep the rabbits and deer out of our garden and so far this year we seem to be ahead. As for meat that we put up ourselves, well, that is still down the road. I have big dreams and it seems my husbands dreams aren't as clear as mine. So, I just think, talk, dream and mention (frequently) what mine are and wouldn't you know his are getting to be the same as mine. I am gung ho about all this and he likes to think about it for awhile. So, we make a good team. Your posts are inspiration to both of us. Blessings to you.

July 13, 2011 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Severn Sunset said...

oh yeah, sounds familar. we're in the same boat. 2nd year on the property and not much to show on the veggie side. loads of eggs and 150 chickens passed through the freezer so far this year (mostly sold via CSA)customers are banging down the door for organic turkey and pork but we havnt harvested a single head of lettuce. ive promised myself next yr will be a harvest to remember. i guess that's the best i can do.

July 13, 2011 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

After a few years of doing both, I can attest that meat and dairy are easier to raise than veggies!

July 13, 2011 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger K. Jean said...

6 foot high fence here around 25x75 veggie garden...it's the only way to go with deer around. They snack on everything else in my yard despite a cocktail of repellents. I routinely name my bow targets in the fall "rosebud" "hosta" and "phlox", haha.

July 14, 2011 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Sewing Machine Girl said...

I'd go for the barter system here Jenna. Trade that hen for a basket of green beans. that's what I'd do.

good luck with the deer battle.
-J

July 14, 2011 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger sheila said...

Hunting. The best answer to deer munching on farm crops. Also, it means more meat in the freezer. The farmers around here get nuisance deer permits allowing them to hunt year round. The deer are very over populated here. Coyotes and black bear are slowly coming back so eventually they will take out some of the excess fawns and that should help slow the reproduction rate some.

On the farm we always kept one or two dogs outside at night to chase deer out of the garden.

Electric fencing is great for protecting gardens and the chicken coops from predation.

July 14, 2011 at 12:09 AM  
Blogger redbird said...

Vegpocalypse! I had a vegocalypse last year too after changing climate zones. Trying to prevent that this year. Awesome you’re putting your own meat up just the same. Gardens can be tricky things. When I had critter problems I ended up putting the garden as close to the house as possible inside a fence about five feet high with all sorts of noise makers scattered here and there tied to the fence—aluminum pie tins and such, plus a scarecrow (which was more for decoration I think than a deer deterrent) and then let my dogs out as early as possible in the morning to keep the deer out of the area. That did help with rabbits too. I was definitely a garden vigilante. Then I used tried and true seeds I’d had success with previously or others in the area were having bountiful harvests from. Keep working at it and enjoy tomorrow!

July 14, 2011 at 1:40 AM  
Blogger Cassie said...

Well I think that green thumbs are inheirited and I definately did not inheirit one. Luckily for me my husband got his from his mother. He does the plants and I take care of the animals, pretty good deal if you ask me!

July 14, 2011 at 2:34 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

For those with deer in the garden, there is a product called
Liquid Fence or Deer away. A liquid spray of rotten eggs and coytee pee. Works well, but has to be reapplied after every rain.
Fred

July 14, 2011 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger mmgreenough said...

Well that gives me great hope to hear that meat & dairy are easier to raise than veggies!!!!! I have pretty well mastered the veggies, at least to my satisfaction... but I have awesome soil :-) and am home all day most days.... however, I am scared to death by my upcoming plans to add meat & dairy. Learn from our mistakes and be thankful that we don't HAVE TO survive on what we are able to produce & eventually we will all succeed in our goals.

July 14, 2011 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I won my deer battle with an electric fence system. Google Gallagher electric fence it should come up for you. It is a double fence system that REALLY works. My garden is 100 x 40. I did mine for less than $300. I take it down in the fall. Then in the spring when the deer get used to trespassing through the garden I put it back up. No more deer during garden season.

July 14, 2011 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Use your dogs as deer deterrent. Here the deer cross my road not far from the house but don't go into my garden. I attribute that to lots of German Shepherd scent and perhaps a few chases. String fences with hotel size Ivory soap or clumps of human hair work too.
Seems hard to believe that your baby buns are old enough to harvest. Gee time flies.

July 14, 2011 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

the buns are coming along, but they aren't the ones seeing the butcher. Another two are (extra bucks)

July 14, 2011 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Lana said...

It is not that difficult to slaughter your own, have you thought about doing that?

July 14, 2011 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Lana said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 14, 2011 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

My 50 x 50 vegetable garden is doing fairly well this year, so much that I'm considering adding two more 50 x 50 plots for next year. I still haven't tried raising meat though - I imagine myself having a hard time sending animals to slaughter that I've raised, but I suppose most have those same thoughts at first. Knowing that the animals led a healthy and happy life, not to mention knowing where my food is coming from, should be enough to reduce my hesitation. Not sure I can bring myself to eat a "bunny"....

July 14, 2011 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Sacha Joy said...

I'm a grad student in vegetable horticulture, albeit on the far west coast, and would be happy to field any questions you have. I think that vegetables require a whole different mental approach than animals, whose care and behavior is more in tune with human care and behavior. Sounds like you need a fence and some reemay to keep out deer and bugs. Probably a soil test. Your manure is probably gorgeous, but be careful how you compost. Not all compost is created equal, and a lot of it can rob your soil of nitrogen.

July 14, 2011 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

sorry to hear about your garden. thankfully its not too late to keep planting!

your experience is such a contrast to mine. i pull in my driveway and see deer bedded down/rabbits frolicking but have had no damage to my garden. there's a 4ft fence around it (basically to keep my dogs out) and i have 3 raised beds unfenced that haven't been touched.

on the other hand. i can't free range my chickens ever, even when i'm home if there's a chance i'll be in the house for any length of time. a fox got my rooster 2 weeks ago, i chased him off and he dropped the rooster but it was to late. four dogs in and out of the house don't deter these fox...and the coop/run is only about 20 yards from my back door. a chicken tractor is in the works.

July 14, 2011 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Animals are much easier to raise, in my experience. It seems like there are fewer variables as long as you take preventive measures and keep them healthy and well fed.

As for fruits and vegetables, I highly recommend those that are perennials. Asparagus, artichokes, strawberries, rhubarb, grapes, berries, fruit trees....Not foolproof but better results and less work.

July 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger WeekendFarmer said...

STOP dreaming about October. Me no like winter : )

July 14, 2011 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Thankfully, the deer leave our garden alone but we had trouble for the first time last year with bunnies eating our lettuce out of our square beds. So, we made hoop houses out of 2X4s made into a frame to which we attached plastic electrical conduit cut and bent to fit and covered them with chicken wire. The whole thing sits over the top of the beds and the bunnies can't get in but the bees can. Works for us. I'd be happy to send a picture if you'd like. Good luck with the fall garden. My pumpkins vines are all over the place!

July 14, 2011 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger KimT said...

Wow jenna! I just love your story and all that you are doing. Here's to girl power! You are an inspiration.

July 14, 2011 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger jim said...

here in texas grasshoppers are our current problem- they are eating leaves and bark off of trees-when one walks across the yard or fields waves of them go out around you, they have also wiped out the veggie garden eating all the beans and tomato's-no rain here in 6 weeks and 14 straight days above 100. 105 here this pm- Missing pennsylvania

July 14, 2011 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Heather Ann said...

just to get a feel, because I'm considering meat rabbits - how much does the butcher charge per rabbit?

July 14, 2011 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

Yes, indeed, I am catching glimpses of October. Nights are getting longer; of course, most people do not notice that fact until August. There have been a few cool mornings and nights in southeastern CT. My favorite time of year...

July 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

I can smell your chicken...yum!

July 14, 2011 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger Jimmie said...

I guess I'll never be a real farmer - I can't bring myself to raise an animal to send it to slaughter. I have no problem eating meat - I love it, in fact. I just can't be the one to look an animal in the eye that I've raised and then send it to slaughter. I get the point that if you raise your meat, you know what you're eating. I get the point that farm raised meat is healthier, is raised more humanely, and surely tastes better...but I just can't be the one to determine who lives and who dies. Sigh...I guess I'll have the only arthritic chickens, sheep, and cows around. For now, I buy meat from my neighbor farmer who raises beef, pork and chickens. I've been to his farm and I know his animal husbandry practices and I'm confident the animals live a good life. Please don't misunderstand - I don't cast stones at anyone who can raise meat animals; I'm glad you can do it, but I just can't! I know if I were forced to slaughter animals in order to survive, I'd learn how, but I'm thankful that I don't have to face that in today's world. I guess I'm just a whimp.

Diane in North Carolina

July 14, 2011 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Taryn Kae Wilson said...

We have duck to harvest next week. It will be my first time harvesting duck (and with a baby in a carrier against my belly no less!)

I love your blog! Here are a few posts I wrote recently that I thought you might enjoy:
http://woolymossroots.blogspot.com/2011/07/farmers-market-finds.html

(first one is lots of yummy things at our local farmer's market.)

http://woolymossroots.blogspot.com/2011/07/dear-deck-family-farm.html

(second one is a letter I wrote to one of our very favorite local farms, that raise pastured meats.)

Love, Taryn

July 14, 2011 at 8:55 PM  
OpenID kindsofhoneyerica said...

You have so much on your hands already! Gardens can be . . . a handful. I am planning my CSA with hopes for what the next year will bring (right now, still living in an apartment) and boy . . . it'll bring work, that's one thing!

I love reading your blog. I go to it when I feel like I need comfort, or a friend, or just a good old taste of country life and determination. Thanks for another good post.

July 15, 2011 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Cary said...

My one word suggestion is fencing. Last veg garden last year w/o fencing abysmal. This year with fencing, fabuloso! Fencing is an investment, but so is all the work I put in to my favorite veg garden. I even planted surplus brussells sprouts seedlings in flower beds just outside veg fencing, and critters have been enjoying them, drat. Brassicas inside fencing are all ours. Fencing is the answer. Good luck!

July 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM  

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