Farm and Garden Update: Spring 2015

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Spring is in the air and I thought I’d show you what we are up to in the farm and garden area of life.

All of our trees budded so nicely! Our property is exactly next to my in-laws and they share the same lane, so I’ve been driving past this neglected orchard for almost 10 years now. We’ve been wanting to buy it and talking to the owner for at least the last three, so while we were around we would turn on the water and water the trees once in a while but I never really went over there and I didn’t pay much attention to what was growing. Last fall was the first fruit season that we owned the property and there were tons of apples, so I knew we had apples. This spring though has made us realize that we also have a pear, peach, cherry, and two plum trees! Everything needs a heavy pruning, which we didn’t get to, but they bloomed none the less.

I love that the trees have an identity through and through. Peach blossoms are so very peach and the wood even has peach hues in it.

peach blossoms

This is a “Moonglow” pear tree in full blossom.

pear blossoms

The bad part about living in the high desert is that it gets warm, all the blossoms come out, and then we’ll get a clod snap at night and it freezes the blossoms. This already happened late last week. The apples haven’t all bloomed yet, so we are still holding out for them, but we aren’t expecting much of anything from the other varieties of fruit. We have quite a few dead trees in the orchard and I think we’ll replace them with some hardier, late-blooming varieties of peaches and pears (I’ve been looking at trees that grow well in Canada, ha!) so we’ll see if that option gets us peaches more than every 5 or 6 years.

I need to take a different wider lens with me next time, but here’s a picture of some of the orchard. This is at the top of the property, then it will be our front yard/garden, a (hopefully) circle drive, our house, and then the alfalfa fields will be our “back yard”, ending at the creek at the bottom of the property. The orchard will be a nice thing to look over while sitting on the front porch in the future.

garden3 2015

We spent a day last week clearing out unwanted elms, willows, and sage brush that had gotten very overgrown in the last 15 years. It was nice to feel like we were working on something. Thomas hooked up a metal cable/rope thing around the bottom of the plants and then I would drive the backhoe to pull them out by their roots. It was my first time driving a backhoe and it was pretty fun. The baby liked it too.

paul and mom in the backhoe

We also plowed and tilled a new garden spot. It’s not quiet as big as last years, but I’m not planning on doing the farmer’s market this year (since I’m due with baby #5 ANOTHER BOY! in late July). The only thing I really need to plant is green beans to can. I didn’t can any last year and we are just about out. I’m good on tomatoes and my mother-in-law always grows more corn than she can eat, so the garden is mostly just for eating and enjoying this year. Here’s some of what I have planned.

garden seeds

I had such an issue with weeds last year that I’m trying some new things this year like laying down cardboard and then old hay on top of that. I have to keep the hay wet though or the wind (which is really strong here) picks up the cardboard and makes a mess of my hard work. It’s kind of a pain to water the rows everyday, but I think once it starts to breakdown a bit it will work better. Time will tell. And I can’t wait to live here for gardening purposes. It’s not convient to garden where you don’t live. I feel like I go over and work but I never get to just go out and enjoy it or see it out  my window. I’m really anxious to live where my garden is.

I think I’ll also try a row with just old hay, some with nothing, and if I can find a chipper, a row with small wood mulch. Our neighbor is also a casket/cabinet maker, so I might also try a row with fine sawdust. The goal is to keep on top of the weeds while using things that can be tilled in and will compost over the winter, adding to the soil. I’ll let you know how it works. The hay and cardboard were all given to me, so I’m not out anything besides time if I don’t like how it worked out.

garden 2015

So far I planted 100 red onion sets, 100 white onion sets, a whole row of shell peas, and a row of carrots, beets, spinach, and Swiss chard. I planted a week ago today and nothing has popped through just yet, though I look with eager anticipation daily! We irrigate here, so I send water down those little trenches and the seeds are planted about half way up the “furrow” walls. The water soaks up into the dirt around the furrow and your plants are watered. I like irrigating because we don’t rely so heavily on what the sky is going to provide (we assume it’ll be just about nothing). In Indiana I remember a few years that were drought conditions as a kid and gardens just where not set up there to irrigate so lots of times they failed. We do get low on irrigation water from the creek and have to really conserve, but I generally always have access to water.

garden1 2015

I also made a small make-shift “perennial” raised bed on the edge of the property. I moved some of my perennial herbs and rhubarb into it from The Shanty and I ordered a bunch of strawberry plants from the Indiana Berry Company to plant it in. It won’t be the forever home for these things, but they’ll be nice and safe there for the next few years as we continue to get settled and eventually build our house.

The only that is missing is my hens and I hope to move them over the next time Thomas has a day off. I did decide to incubate a second set of eggs and was so disappointed when I candled them on day 10; they looked like nothing was growing. I just left them in the incubator though. Yesterday (day 18 or so) I decided to throw them out while I was cleaning but thought maybe if I broke one open I’d really know they weren’t growing. So I went outside and cracked open an egg and it was full of life. I committed chicken abortion. I was so shocked I gasped and then felt horrible. I accidentally killed a growing chick but now I know that maybe, just maybe, the other eggs are working. If that’s the case I should have chicks this Saturday! I obviously have no idea what to look for when candling either, so that’s something I’m going to have to have someone who does know their stuff show me in person.

garden2 2015

I have so much impatience and anxiety about building a house, when it will happen, and that it’s not ever going to happen. Thomas is still working at least 50 hours a week at the hardware store plus he works a second 20 hour a week job doing Engineering to pay our bills. This leaves little to no time to get other things done. He’s been working full-time with his extra Engineering job on the side for FIVE years this month and we are both so tired of it. He’s burnt out and his wife is tired of living in dumpy houses waiting for her own. The store has been open for about 8 months now but he still has a list of things he’d like to get done before he feels like he can cut back on his hours. I’m about to have a 5th baby and my hormones don’t make me a very happy or kind person some days. So my current dream is to strike it rich blogging and to be able to pay for the house myself. HA! I can dream though can’t I?

In other news. We don’t know how to heat and cool our house. I’d love to hear what you do and what works for you. Here’s the catch- there’s no natural gas available here and propane is very expensive. Electricity is a relatively low price but isn’t something I necessarily want to depend on 100% and most people here use wood though I don’t want to have to deal with that by myself for the next 60 years. We looked into underground heat pumps which sound really neat but the cost of actually getting it crazy high. There’s got to be a good option but we have yet to find it.

Thanks for letting me share all of our fun with you!

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  1. Cari says:

    I loved seeing all your beautiful remodeled pics. I am new to your blog and I love it. Thank you for taking the time to share:) love love love it!!!
    P.s. I really want that hutch:):)

  2. Kari says:

    I love the Little House on the Prairie comment because that’s exactly what I imagine. I long for fields and space of my own, but I honestly can’t imagine putting in the kind of work you are. When my sisters first lived down in that area we went and helped them put in a garden. It was so much more work than what my parents have to do up north (although still a lot of work). The hard ground, the animals, but I know they appreciated every little thing they got out of it. You’re giving your kids such a great environment to grow up in, very impressed with every thing you’re doing!

  3. Jaime says:

    Sounds like you’re going through a LOT right now. We don’t know each other, but I’m enjoying your blog and I hope everything works out soon. I find that waiting for solutions/answers/direction is SO much harder than the hard work itself. Kind of like how in weight lifting, the “negative” energy required to lower the weights slowly is harder to produce than the “oomph” required to lift them in the first place. As long as we’re utilizing all the resources (spiritual, relationship, inner, earthly, information, etc.) that we have access to, we get 100% for effort even if what we produce is a little messy & incomplete, right?? I’ll be praying for you!!

  4. lacier77 says:

    You are being put through the ringer right now…but eventually the spin cycle will end! I love hearing about your daily life! It’s like reading a great novel I don’t want to put down! I’m so honored you share and that I get to be a part of it in this small way! It kinda reminds me of Little House On The Prairie! Struggles and triumphs, struggles and triumphs! I hate your struggles but I love your triumphs! I’m so sorry about the baby chick! I would have been devastated too. To look on a brighter side…(which has got to be hard) the egg could have ended up as an Easter egg or scrambled eggs. That probably sounds terrible but it’s the truth.

    1. Melissa says:

      You are such a kind breath of air when I need it most. Thank you!

  5. Christina says:

    Wow you have done so much work in a short amount of time! AND you’re pregnant- super woman!

    We planted a pear tree last spring (we are in Canada) and it survived the winter! It’s a new variety that was ‘created’ here on the prairies called Pauls Pear. So far so good with it.

    What about solar power? I’d imagine you could get a good store of it from the summer sun.

    1. Melissa says:

      Solar power is high on our list to research! It makes so much sense where we are. And I’m so looking up your Paul’s Pear because that’s actually my baby’s name! That would be so fun. Thanks for the tip Christina.

  6. Ashleigh says:

    Mellisa!!! I’m so excited for you. I’m excited to see your progress every time I drive by on my way to my parents! Your field looks beautiful as I passed by this afternoon headed north. Your future is bright and I’m excited to have a peek inside every now and then! Best of luck to you!

    1. Melissa says:

      You have to tell me when you’ll be in Kanab and we’ll come to the park and play! My kids would love that. Thanks for your kind words friend.

  7. Alicia says:

    I love this post! I am so incredibly jealous of all the space you have! We’ve been living in apartments our whole marriage and I’m endlessly tired of being cramped into a tiny little space and hearing/smelling all the neighbors. 🙂 My husband is finally graduating from school in August, and it’s amazing to think that someday soon we might have our own space where we can stretch out our arms without touching anyone! I grew up with tons of fruit trees and my parents had a fairly large lot (while still in the suburbs). I would love to have an orchard like yours someday. Thanks for the inspiration and pretty pictures!

    1. Melissa says:

      I so sympathize with apartment life and putting your husband through school! I was a few weeks away from having my third baby before we moved out of apartment and I had my own washer and drying IN THE HOUSE! Not to mention not sharing any walls with someone else, it was glorious! Hang in their friend, you are so close!

  8. Kaley says:

    I think I understood about 1/3 of that entire post but go you! You’re superwoman!

  9. katie w says:

    Heating–we put pex tubing in our concrete floor for radiant heat, we plan on hooking it up to some solar collectors that my husband is designing later this summer. He also wants to try a solar heat exchanger for warming air during the winter-I don’t really know how it all works yet, but he makes it sound super simple whenever he talks about it. haha. For right now we have electric baseboard heaters hooked up since the county code requires it, but we plan on taking them out after we get approved to move in (should be in May!!!!!). Nate also wants to try building a rocket stove, which provides really efficient heat but only uses small scraps/pieces of wood to burn.
    Cooling–we’ll probably do a swamp cooler. Our house is pretty efficient since we designed it ourselves and it is small, so it seems to stay pretty cool during the day-hopefully something small will work for the worst/hottest parts of summer.
    Your property is gorgeous, I’m super jealous of all the fruit trees! They are so beautiful. Hang in there, I know what you mean when you say it doesn’t feel like it will ever happen. But it will, and you deserve it!
    Also…we were thinking of making a trip out your way after we finish our house to check out Zions. Wanna let me know all the best places to see/hike/play/camp?

  10. Tay says:

    Solar panels!