Homesteading: Farm and Garden, May 2022. Zone 5.

Yesterday the temperature outside climbed to 88 F, and rather humid.   The sort of weather that reinforces my decision not to follow my brother and his family down to the Tampa area of Florida.  I know this is nothing to them.  We just get this stuff periodically up here in western Massachusetts, not incessantly.  Today is supposed to be about the same.  I certainly don’t thrive on it.  At least with cold weather one can always put on more clothing.  The reverse isn’t really true.


Incoming Spring Storm (early May)

At any rate, what’s up, up here?

My Cat:  Serenity had to have her “lion cut” a few weeks ago.  Starting about age 16, she stopped grooming herself effectively.   So, she ended up with quite the mat in her ruff.  Took her in – she now looks all skin and bones, basically because she IS all skin and bones under that fur.  Unfortunately, I forgot to inform the woman hired for this purpose NOT to do the tail.  She now has a little puffball of fur at the end of the tail, and nothing at all covering the rest of it.  (There’d been no mats in her tail fur.)

The same woman had shaved her the previous year, and I had been grooming her once the hair grew back in.  Evidently the standard cat brush isn’t the best way, as she’d grown the neck mat back anyway. I accidentally ran across a Jackson Galaxy video where he pointed out the best brush to use – ordered it, but this was too late to take care of the ruff matting or a couple smaller ones she was developing.

ragdoll, cat

A cat comma!

She’s 20 and a half years old now.  98 years old in human years.  A grand old lady with osteoarthritis and a special kidney diet.  She needs a lot of attention, so I hesitate to leave her alone for more than a day or two.    Yes, someone could come in, but I doubt they’d be with her for more than fifteen minutes or so, and then leave.  She still wants to eat, but if she gives up on wanting as much food as she does eat – yes, she will be sent to cross that proverbial Rainbow Bridge to join her old buddies, Orion and Obi-Wan, as well as her first favorite cat, Ptarmigan.  Hopefully she’ll remember Titania, too.

20.5 year old cat, ragdoll

Trying to get warm after a shave, sitting in the remains of sun.


So far in the Raised Beds:

Bed 1.

homesteading, rhubarb

Rhubarb, with flower top

Section A:  this is the perennial spot.  Rhubarb, strawberries, golden thyme are coming up.  No idea if the saffron survived.  I also added in a little asparagus, anise hyssop, and hibiscus this year..  Rhubarb should be available for harvest next year.
Section B:  Cleaned out, but a leek is coming back up, a survivor from last year.  Otherwise, this will house Snow Peas, Avalanche (Pisum sativum).   I don’t see the seedlings yet.
Section C:  Peas, “Little Marvel”.  24 inch trellising recommended.  Two rows.  Some seedlings are doing their thing!
Section C:  Peas, “Super Sugar Snap”, 60-inch trellising recommended.  Two rows.

homesteading, sugar snap pea

Pea seedling poking up

Bed 2:

Section A:  TBD
Section B:  Tomatoes (cherry and grape).   I have had little luck in the past with full-sized tomatoes.  Parsley.
Section C:  2 rows of Turnips, Amelie Hybrid (Brassica rapa).  Seedlings are not yet popping up.  A row of red beets, and a row of cauliflower.  Which are up.

Bed 3:  (Currently just weeds!)


Bed #4. Onions, Potatoes, Greens

Bed 4:

Section A:  Winter hardy leafy greens, as in spinach and lettuces,  Planted in April, they are doing well.
Section B:  Yukon gold potatoes, with a few red potatoes.  They are doing well.
Section C:   Onion sets, reds and whites.   I planted them close-ish to each other.  I will be thinning them out for scallions/green onions alternately, so the remainders grow up to be adult onions.

In the Circular Bed:  

Edible flowers:  Nasturtiums, marigolds, borage, calendula.

homesteading, borage

Other:  Jalapeño peppers, red bell peppers.

homesteading, peppers, edible flowers

East Side Herb Area:

horseradish, homesteading

Horseradish, returning in the spring. Probably impossible to get rid of, but I don’t want to!

The wormwood returns to life, as does the horseradish and the lady’s mantle.  I’m fairly certain that the Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes) will be coming back. Unfortunately, there are signs of garlic mustard, which I am trying to harvest before any of it goes to seed.  Terribly invasive – at least it is edible! (And, tastes great.)  Below, btw, is a photo of Lady’s Mantle.  A plant just for pretty.

homesteading, lady's mantle

To Be Planted (ASAP): 

Cannas, hosta, an elderberry, a selection of apple saplings.  Cucumber seeds.  I have perhaps missed something.

Chickens:   4 roosters, and now, alas, 14 hens.  Something killed and partially-ate Chickpea, the first hen I had hatched here on site – actually, her foster mom is Yin, a black Australorp, who still lives here.  Near as I can figure, Chickpea was a cross between a silver laced Wyandotte roo (this part I’m certain about) and a buff Orpington.  Pretty bird, nearly all white, with black fleckings on the wings and a few more elsewhere.  She was taken April 28th by some creature that prefers (like I do) thigh meat.  As that was all that was eaten – both thighs.  Feathers, however, were all over the place.  Chickpea had put up a fight.  Best guess is a fox.  Yin, by the way, still exists and still lays eggs – I caught her at it recently.

(Above:  Athena, back and front.  My newest hen.  Rather shy.)

Everyone is inside, no free ranging, for the next month.  They will then cautiously go back out in June.

homesteading, barred rock, rooster

Barred Plymouth Rock rooster. This is either Chester or Otis. I can tell them apart when they are next to each other. Chester is the dominant one, too. They get along because they were raised together, and Otis knows when to back off.

I’ve ordered 15 new baby chicks for early August.  Most will be meat birds (straight run Delaware Broilers from McMurray’s).  I just don’t feel like starting up brooders right now; I want a vacation.  Indeed, I’d love to take a real one, but I am concerned about my cat.  See the top.

Quail:  Not starting more up this year.  Next spring or summer is fine by me.  I miss good pickled eggs – yes, you can pickle chicken eggs, but the problem is that the whites get too rubbery for me waiting for the pickling juice to get deep into the yolks, due to egg size.

Exterior Staining:

Just got my deck and pergola stained – the deck will need a touchup at the least, and the pergola, well we ran out of the stain base, and are waiting on the Supply Chain to bring it to Sherwin-Williams.  A local man of good skill has been hired to take this on, and his work is essentially completed.

Homesteading, pergola

Pergola:  Leeward color, polyurethane semi-transparent stain, by Woodscapes.
Deck railing and supports:  Ember, acrylic solid color stain, by Woodscapes.
Deck floor and steps:  Fallow, solid stain, by Superdeck.

homesteading, deck

Extra Leeward will be used to stain the raised beds.  A misbegotten color of stain, Russett Brown, fought far too much with the log color – as it can’t be returned, it will be used to add trim color to the small Tractor Supply coop. I’ll be doing these two last staining projects myself – the coop project is nearly done.

Other Projects:

Small fabric three-tiered raised bed structure – for strawberries and other small things.  One can never have enough strawberries!  Constructed, and filled with soil.  Needs plants or seeds!  (Alas, I missed the week that strawberry plants were for sale here, and I’ve now filled the spaces with other plants, see above.)

Wood double-stand raised bed platform.  Still in boxes, have to decide on the most efficient spot for it.  I prefer the back yard, probably close to the pergola – or it may be closer to the house.  May need staining – I’ll have a variety of leftover stains to choose from!  I am thinking flowers AND veggies, depending if I can orient it to where I can enjoy the flowers from the house.

Assemble the rabbit hutch.  Not for rabbits, but as the Sick Bay for any chickens that may need such.

Assemble the two DIY meat chicken houses.  I figure each will hold 3-4 birds, depending on size.  They’re not going to be winter-proof, so this is only temporary housing for cockerels/pullets.  (Some of my meat pullets will be made into laying hens, btw.  I figure the large coop can house 3-4 more hens, and the dark brown coop, two more.

Assemble the cheap assembly thingie for setting food upon, to be set down at the pergola. It also has an interior space for storage.

Maybe work on the stone fire pit.  At least get the stones over to the spot.  I have a good friend who wants to assemble it – he did it in the past when we were living in the same house, back down in Connecticut.  Some of the stones are actually the same – yes, transport northwards sometimes works!

Indoors, solve the mouse incursions once and for ALL!  I have electronic rodent zappers.  Because I am not live-trapping mice and driving them to someone else’s yard to release them there.  A rude idea to do that.  I am also inventorying the pantry goods.

Clean out & reorganize the garage, and clean out and reorganize the basement.

Today:  High temps at 86, dropping fast as a storm now rolls in (it is 6:50 pm right now.)  7 pm on the nose – torrential rains!  EDIT:  Temp is now 65 F, at 8 pm.  Rains were good here!  (This post uploads in half an hour.)

I saw a black bear on the roadway around 12:30 today.  Could be a mama or a near-mature juvenile.  Size of a large dog, but its ears were definitely BEAR.   Obviously, didn’t get out of the car to check anything further.


About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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1 Response to Homesteading: Farm and Garden, May 2022. Zone 5.

  1. Carolyn says:

    First time for me reading through your site on my phone rather than the desktop. Really loved it, all of it. With of course the exception of poor Chickpea’s demise! 😢
    Your vegetable beds are exceptional, and I’m rather jealous. In my area the trees have been growing exponentially and we are becoming enveloped in something that is close to a forest (take a look at the satellite view sometime!) so less and less sun every year, and the lower yard, where there is more sun, is out of sight and probably would be demolished by raccoons, chipmunks, deer, etc.
    But everything else is beautiful, your construction work, your house, and Serenity seems to be finding hers in the sunlight. 🌞

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