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Weekly Wrap-Up #4: Rain, planting trees and berry bushes, first day of school, hunting and more

I’m baaaaaaack!  Did you miss me? I’m still not RIGHT ON TIME for the Weekly part of it… I think we can still call it “weekly”, though, don’t you?!

This was a busy week in the yard and garden (see below)!  We’ve had another spell of rain – in fact, we’ve had five inches of rain so far this month – and it’s only February 9th.  The ground is so saturated, and there are puddles everywhere… you definitely find the low spots in the yard in weeks like this!  Farm chores in the morning and evening are a little more precarious than usual with all of the slippery mud, but I haven’t fallen this week!  Wooohooo, yay me!

Today is the start of a big freeze… and the kids and I are hoping for snow! Forecast says 40% chance… so we’ll see! Snow would mess up some plans we have for the week, but it’ll be pretty and fun!

Here are some pretty pictures from the homestead this week:

Kid and Family News:

Shaleigh did an amazing job with her sugar cookies this week for baking club – she had a recipe in mind, but it required chilling for three hours and she doesn’t have the patience for that so she found a recipe that didn’t require chilling… it did call for two teaspoons of baking powder, though… is that why you don’t have to chill it?  We’ve been wondering that all week and we will find the answer! She wanted to do heart cutouts for Valentines Day but she couldn’t find our heart cookie cutters (I think they’re with the play dough, but she apparently didn’t have time to look there), so she made do with diamonds, stars, and circles, and frosted them with pink frosting and sprinkles!  They were yummy! (And I didn’t get a picture before we ate them all up! Oops!)

Our school district brought 4th and 5th graders back for in-person classes this week for this first time in a year.  Shaleigh and Braden are part of the school district… in normal times, the kids go to school one day a week for about four hours, and the rest of their school is done at home – they’re technically public school students but they are homeschooled.  Braden has opted out of the one day a week at school, and Shaleigh lives for her one day a week!!  She was so excited to go back this week, and had such a great time seeing her friends and teachers and the new school building!

Braden and Carson went hunting last Saturday with our friend Wayne and closed the season. (I think there’s another mini-season opening this month, but I’m not sure if they’re planning to go or not.)  They had a good time and saw lots of birds but didn’t come home with any of them!  (Photo credit to Carson and Wayne)

I have been taking a Bee Bootcamp class through Jennifer Short of Camano Island Honey, and I’m hoping to get certified through Washington State Beekeeping Association.  I’m still a very new beginner (like VERY NEW!) but this is something I’ve wanted to learn and do for a long time! I talked to Jennifer about being a foster parent for bees so I can learn by watching and doing, and we will be talking about that, soon!  She’s also interested in having her honey at our farm stand!  Wooooo hooooo!!!

I’ve been doing a lot of alpaca fiber prep lately and trying to build up inventory of dryer balls! I’m looking into other places to sell the dryer balls, and anticipating a big rush when we open the farm stand!  They take a couple of days to get ready to go, so I’d like to be as ahead of the game as I can be!

I’m also working on my medicinal herb stuff… I have a few more tinctures and glycerites in process in the pantry, including chamomile and lemon balm and I plan to make more salves in the next week or so, too!  I have a lavender hops combo that I think will make a nice relaxing, sleep combo.  I’ll keep you posted!

Animal News: 

Carson and the kids did a big chicken coop clean out this week… between the mud and rain and the fact that chickens are gross, the coops are pretty nasty this time of year.  I was supposed to help but I got called away on other projects and errands and by the time I finished, Carson was already done!  Phew!   The chickens are always freaked out while we’re doing the cleaning, but then they get right to work exploring the new materials and making it their own! 

Shaleigh did the bunny hutch clean out yesterday… it’s never done as well as when I do it, but I’m grateful for the times I don’t have to do it, and the bunnies don’t seem to care!

The alpacas are getting tired of the rain… and they would really like to have some better grass growing in their pasture! 

I remember this time last year, I started to panic about the lack of grass for grazing, but then as soon as we got some warm days, the grass grew and all was well!  I still feel like I need to put down some seed this year, and I think I will next time rain is in the forecast.  Looks like below freezing temps and perhaps snow this week so I’ll hold off!

And the sheep are enjoying their field!  They probably could use a shelter clean out, but the ground outside the shelter is so wet that we wouldn’t be able to get the tractor (or even a wheel barrow) to get through the area.  Another layer of clean, dry straw on top of the old, wet stuff it is!  They don’t seem to mind!!    Neither does Sparkle the Rooster!

Garden News:

I told you in last week’s Weekly Wrap Up that we got some new fruit trees!  Four Frost Peach trees, two apricot trees and two cherry trees!! We’re so excited!  It’ll be 3 to 5 years before we get any fruit from those trees, but then it’s going to be amazing!!  We got the trees planted last week and they seem to be doing great even with all of the rain! 

I’m hoping they’ll do well with this week’s freeze, too!

Through a couple of my homesteading and garden groups on Facebook, we heard about a blueberry farm that had been sold and the new owners were planning to grow a different crop so they are giving away the blueberry plants for free – you dig!  They’re planning to till or burn the crop next week. Wednesday was a beautiful day and we loaded up in the truck with our shovels and boots to check it out.  It was a field of thousands and thousands of mature blueberry plants. 

When we got there, there were about 10 other trucks and people digging up the plants.  We got right to work – we did have to watch a few other people to see how they were digging them up and how much of the root we needed.   We learn by watching and doing.  We ended up digging up seven plants! 

It was hard and muddy work, and when we got home, we had to make a spot for them and dig up a holes big enough and plant them!  I’m so glad we did it that day because the rains came back the next day and it’s been pretty miserable since then, but it was hard work!  Worth it though!  We should have blueberries from those plants this year!!!  I cannot wait!

I also ordered my seeds!!!  I am still missing a few things, but I have all of the main ones – or will in the next couple of days when they come in the mail!  

I was looking for strawberry seeds and trying to figure out if I can grow them from seeds, when I got an email from a friend offering several varieties of strawberry plants – you dig!  Perfect timing!!!!  So we SHOULD have lots of berries this year!! 

Carson started pruning the many apple trees we have in the yard. 

There is lots more to do, but we didn’t even start this process until March last year, and then it was too late because the trees had blooms!  We’ll definitely be better this year!

Product News: 

Have you checked out online store?  https://stevenshomesteadonlinestore.square.site/ 

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You can order through our online store (above) or send me an email at stevenshomestead@hotmail.com, or a message through Facebook Messenger.

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