It’s officially Summer on the farm and we have been busy. We started the month off with a visit from some of our Auburn friends. It was a great weekend of catching up on what’s been going on with them and us in the year since we last saw them. How I wish we could convince them to move here! We took our first trip to Mt. Mitchell with them. Mt. Mitchell is the tallest peak East of the Mississippi. The drive up there is just beautiful, with many overlooks along the way. By the time we reached the top, it was rainy and cold despite the weather being sunny and beautiful below.
The next couple of weeks were full of gardening and butchering. My mother came to visit for a few days, I continued working at The Littlest Birds in Asheville 1-2 days a week, and we butchered our first 25 meat chickens of the year. We worked hard to get our display and products ready for our first week attending the Yancey County Farmer’s Market. We sold our farm-grown radishes, collards, lettuce, eggs, and homemade breads and soaps. I did the baking and soap-making and TS did the set up and selling. The garden has been hit or miss. The radishes, lettuces, and beets have grown amazingly well! We definitely have more radishes and lettuces than we need. The beets are so good I ate them all by myself in about 2 days. I don’t know if it’s because they are home grown or if it’s the variety we chose, but they are so sweet!
The collards, broccoli, and cabbage are getting eaten by green caterpillars (cabbage worms?) and something that looks like a cross between a ladybug and a stink bug. The kids and I have been picking the bugs off once or twice a day and giving them to the chicks. The chicks love them and the kids are having fun with it, but it’s an on-going battle that I hope to avoid next time by using row covers. The green caterpillars are eating the purple kale as well, but they are so much easier to see and pick off when they stand out against the purple leaves. We will definitely grow this variety again! We have picked just a few tasty cucumbers and peas. The deer have eaten many of the leaves and bean sprouts off our pole bean trellis, but the bush beans in the main garden are growing well and look like they’ll be ready to pick soon. The corn is getting tall and we have lots of green tomatoes and small peppers growing. The tomatillo plants are covered with paper-lantern looking husks that have baby tomatillos growing inside. The blueberries are starting to ripen and the wild black raspberries are being picked and eaten by the kids before I can get them for jam. We have dug our first few potatoes. It’s like digging for buried treasure!
We were excited to be approved to sell our rabbit meat at the farmer’s market, but our grow-outs (young rabbits soon to be butchered) got enteritis. We lost 6 total out of our 15 that were to be butchered this month. The 4 we butchered for market last week were on the small size but still sold quickly. We’ll butcher the rest in two weeks and I’m pretty confident they will be a good size and easy to sell. We are in the process of expanding the rabbitry. I have some new Silver Fox breeding rabbits and a new pair of Crème D’Argents that I picked up from a new friend in central NC. Unfortunately, it looks like rabbit is going to be the only thing we are able to sell at the farmer’s market this year. After our third week at the market, the powers that be decided our soaps, breads, and veggies were items that are already “covered” by established members of the market so we are no longer allowed to bring them. They have suggested pickles and berries as two items the market needs, but at the moment our berries are just getting started and I’m required to complete some sort of pickle school before being allowed to sell pickles. We are hoping to have berries to sell next year. I’ll consider pickle school when/if our cucumbers take off. In the meantime we are going to take as much rabbit as we can when we can and look for other outlets for selling our eggs and produce. We have a few leads on other markets and a new CSA forming.
Our Guineas Ana and Christophe hatched two keets and for a day or two they were the most adorable family of four. However, both of the keets were lost quickly. One we found under an overturned food bowl – he was quite overheated and dehydrated. We tried to save him, but it was too late. I purchased a few additional keets in hopes to expand our flock. They are hanging out in the brooder with a bunch of laying hen chicks for another few weeks. Ana almost immediately started a new clutch of eggs but hasn’t started setting yet. I’m not holding my breath.
We made a few new friends in June and opportunities are expanding. I can’t believe it has been almost a year since we arrived!!!