top of page

Monthly Farm Update: January 2023

Come on season 2023 let's get sickening!

No snow but lots of cold nights and windy days typified this past month. We saw nights in the single digits and winds up to 50 mph. Everything still looks so drab, but daffodils are starting to poke out around some fruit trees, and the pussy willow buds are starting to swell. I'm thankful we have not had any snow this winter, so we can still do some outside work, and the ducks can run around the yard eating worms.

Chicken Scratch

Thankfully the lack of snow means the chickens and ducks can dig and scratch unimpeded. The boys have been wearing some of their "favorite" ladies' feathers down, so after trying the back protectors; we opted to simply move 4 of the girls into the old pen so they can recoup. For the boys, we are testing out little "pecking visors" that clip on their beaks to see if it reduces mating. We shall see, but the main priority is making sure all the girls are healthy and safe so the roosters can deal with it.

If you are looking to order chicks this spring, it looks like many places are selling out like crazy. Meyers is sold out of Black Australorps for the rest of the year! Murray McMurray Hatchery is sold out of Black Australorps and Barred Plymouth Rocks (some of the most popular American breeds) too. Perhaps my gamble on having roosters will pay off after all? So I can raise and sell my own chicks to local peeps.

Sold out! Those who wait to adapt will be left in the dust

Winter Lessons

Our 5kw tiny wood stove has been keeping us nice and toasty while also cooking biscuits, muffins, pizzas, and potatoes. We really love this essential "heart" of the homestead. If funds permit and you do not have a woodstove, we highly recommend these stoves from TinyWoodStoves (no affiliation or incentive to suggest them).

As we continue adapting to the nuances of this life, I am becoming a big believer in finding a homestead with a "warmer" climate that does not get below 0 degrees regularly during the coldest parts of the year. Life is so much easier not having to protect crops from constant frosts, make sure to source enough wood each year by hand, or prevent pipes from bursting. Cold climates such as Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, or anywhere else in the Rockies are just not going to be easy places to survive. A wonderful homesteading channel that I follow called Fy Nyth is in Wyoming, with temps in the -30s or more in winter and frosts occurring every month of the year. I love what Ariel is doing out there, but personally, I do not believe this is a wise venture in the declining years of Peak Oil, and I would strongly encourage folks to think twice about trying to make it in such climates. When fossil fuel shortages really take off, and they will, these regions will be really challenging places to live.

Garden & Food Forest

Soft neck garlic chugging along

When I take breaks from writing, I have been broad-forking the garden beds and around the fruit trees. This helps to aerate the soil, increase microbial life, and build soil structure. It's been working because the soil is still loose from last season and continues to "fluff up." It's rained almost every other day for weeks, so I have not been able to plant any dormant plants, but I can broad-fork the food forest rows in the mean time, which is good.

The trees that I have been able to plant before the rainy weather set in were apples, peaches, pears, and cherries. Some of which I grafted myself, so that was a nice achievement to be able to plant my very own grafted fruit trees. Even 20 chestnuts I had grown from seed were able to be planted, and all the trees are protected from munching rabbits by using blue tree tubes.

Speaking of munching rabbits, they started to get into the winter wheat patch, so I put a two-foot-tall chicken wires fence around it. Some were burrowed under, so a few met their end. Unfortunate to do, but our food is too valuable to be turned into rabbit pellets.

An example of a chicken lane in between food forest rows

With the daylight lengthening, I am getting excited to once again be planting vegetables, berries, and trees. Grafting season is only a few weeks away, so the rootstock and scion wood orders have been made. This spring, I want to focus on persimmons, apples, cherries, and pears, so I am expanding our varieties on the farm. CM and I are going over the financials of starting a grafting business, so having a varied selection of regionally appropriate varieties is important. We also want to be focusing on increasing as many rootstocks as possible so that our overhead is almost entirely eliminated.

In one section of the beds, I planted close to 100 sunchokes from tubers collected from last Autumn's crop. In a few hours, I was able to plant eight rows of these tubers with help from the ducks (who ate any worms) and chickens out of frame. If you ever want to feel secure with food production, plant sunchokes. In good soil and regular watering, these perennial crops will produce an insane amount of tubers. The chickens enjoy working underneath the plants as they grow up, and this section is one of the lanes I rotate the flock through. Come July, the plants will be tall enough to keep the chickens shaded, and they can fertilize while they weed.

Church Chat

For those interested, I do want to make mention that no church has contacted us either for or against the letters we sent. Shocker right?

What About You?

In the forum, we made a post about shortages in your area to see what is becoming harder to source. Around us, it's cat food, bread, and a few other items. What about you?

We also wanted to see what you will be doing to build resileince as spring starts to claw its way back north. Do you have any garden plans or fruit trees going in? We would love to hear about it.

Things are not returning to "normal"

bottom of page