My previous batch of hay got spoiled by rains while still in the field, although it did get used as compost and mulch, so not it was not a total loss. Last week, with a clear forecast and some time off from the day job, I spent two mornings scythe cutting and a half hour … Continue reading Better weather for hay making and ultralight bales.
Our homestead lies on the border of the two cities: Bellingham and Ferndale. Hence, the name, Bellfern. Our short road is a less traveled and rolling one, dotted with old barns and hayfields with a wooded creek meandering across. Yet, blinking into our living room at night is a giant LED screen advertising the casino down the … Continue reading Living on the Edge
Near our house in the back is a steep weedy pugged (highly compacted) slope. Pretty much good for nothing other than a headache and poor footing. I had the idea last year to cover it with mulch to smother the weeds and perhaps level out the slope some. Well, our über free range layers (little … Continue reading Wattle retaining wall.
Right now (in late May) we have a dozen (small) bales of hay in the barn. And we did it all by hand. Every step, from scything to stacking, with no tractor power. Now, one might ask, “why?” And, “is it worth it? And, isn’t it a TON of work?” As for the why, the reasons are many. … Continue reading Handmade Hay
Its not until July 4th in northwest Washington that you can bank on warm weather. June around here goes by another name…Juneuary, because it is frequently 50’s and rainy. That is a hard pill to swallow when the rest of the country is already comfortably swimming! Of course, its also cold in JANuary when tomatoes are to … Continue reading Custom Greenhouse and How to Lay Pavers Imperfectly
Back in the day, pigs used to be let loose in the nearby woods to forage and fend for themselves all year, then harvested in the fall/winter. They were referred to as “mortgage lifters” due to the low input to high output qualities. Our woods are far away and there’s a creek in there with … Continue reading Shoulder Season Hog Keeping
Our chickens are tireless. They’ve got serious moxy. They laugh at fences, sleep in trees, and throw large sticks aside in search of anything that moves. One day I came home to rubbermaid bins and chicken feeders broken on the barn floor because some bird was looking for a new nesting spot. We keep them … Continue reading Free Range Chickens: Little Vulturous Destroyers
If there’s one rule I am following while attempting to bring the soil here back to life after decades of neglect, its this: keep it covered. All the little crawlers, fungi, and beneficial bacteria present in healthy soil can’t stand direct sun, too dry, or too wet. Like us they respond quite nicely to sturdy … Continue reading Cover the Earth
Its been 9 months to the day since we moved from our tiny urban lot to these 7 acres. Included in the deal was a mostly-renovated farmhouse, two leaky unswept barns, “the chalet,” “the bakery,” and a laundry-shed-cum-chicken-coop/rat factory. All of which, including the pastures, paddocks, and ancient apple trees have been unlimited sources of … Continue reading Nine months; a gestation period.
By the time we got to so much as walk our pasture this year after moving in, the grass was knee high. A couple months later it had finished seeding out and begun to flop over in places susceptible to winds. Every now and then one of us would march out the weed-eater to keep the hot-wired fence … Continue reading Making Hay the Old Fashioned Way; A Scythe