Those are dirty words in my house. However, there comes a time when you have to face facts and prepare for the inevitable.
The garden is winding down and we have begun moving the plants that are done producing from the garden plot to the compost pile. The most notable items missing from this picture are the zucchini and summer squash plants and our roma tomatoes. The rest will soon follow suit. We do this to help prevent unwelcome bugs and diseases from setting in and taking hold in the garden plot. At the same time we are also looking ahead to next year. This year we mulched our garden as a means of weed control and moisture retention and we have loved it! We intend to expand the garden next summer and have read that if you mulch untilled ground in the Fall, it will be ready to go in the Spring without needing to till so we are trying it. We'll try almost anything once! So we have doubled our garden plots by mulching more ground. We will let you know in the Spring how it turns out!
We will also be adding mulch to some of our less hardy perennials to help them get through the winter.
Last summer, we installed a new chimney and wood burning stove to help heat this good 'ol farmhouse and decrease the propane bill. It worked like a charm and was probably one of the best decisions we'll ever make! However, the stove we used last winter was hazardous at best due to age and wear. Because we liked the extra boost from the wood heat so much last year we decided to invest in a little safer (new) wood stove for this winter. We picked it up Friday with the assistance of a forklift and then carried all 360 pounds of it down the basement stairs this morning! If that wasn't enough heavy lifting, we then had to carry the old stove back out! And by 'we', I mean my husband, my dad, and my father-in-law did the heavy lifting!! I just opened doors and carried the few odds and ends that could be removed to lighten up the main part of the stove. Thank goodness for the help of our parents! NP and I certainly couldn't have accomplished this by ourselves
We had the best of intentions all summer of gathering our firewood early but other tasks always seemed to take priority. As a result, we now have a large job ahead of us and, now that colder weather is clearly here and the new stove is installed, we are out of time and excuses! We bought a load of logs from a local tree trimming service and this week we will get started cutting, splitting, and stacking. Piper, our cattle dog, is loads of 'help' with these types of projects ;)
And last in this discussion but definitely not 'least'! The animals generally take care of 'winterizing' themselves as the days get shorter and their hair gets longer. However, there are things we can do to help them out too. Right now is prime time for cows. Their thermal comfort zone is 45 degrees F to 60 degrees F so they are loving these cooler days! However, as the temperature dips below freezing we will up their feed and adjust accordingly. They also have the barn and a windbreak for shelter when they need it. Other things we will have to do in the next few weeks is move the calf hutches to a more sheltered location and insulate the stock tanks to help prevent the water from freezing. NP has plans to not only insulate the tanks like we did last year but also to utilize the solar power of the sun to help warm the tanks. But that will be a separate blog post so keep your eye out for that in the next couple of weeks!!
*Fun Fact: Most other breeds of cows struggle with heat stress and handle winter just fine. Jersey cows on the other hand actually handle the heat better than they do the cold
Enjoy! Brun Ko Farm