Our Terraced Pollinator Garden
You guys I am loving our terraced pollinator garden! It still has a way to go but it has been so much fun and we are making a lot of progress.
As you can see, we did some work to the steps. Before they were just steps cut into the soil. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Well we have these red brick things that were here when we moved in, I decided to put them at the edge of the steps to hold everything in place and finiash things off. It turned out pretty nice!
Of course they have dirt all over them because my little helpers thought that they should soak the dirt sections and turn them into a mud hole. I tried to wash them off but it was so muddy it only made things worse. LOL.
So this is the bottom of the terrace pollinator garden. Don't you love the pink blooms of the sedum? I really like how it is starting to hang over the rocks. Just today my husband and I saw a native bee visiting these flowers.
I thought it would be cool if the sedum was growing in between the rocks as well so I've added lots of starts. Did you know you can just break a piece off and stick it in the dirt and it will grow? So easy and it grows so well. It will give it a more natural feel when the plants are creeping into the path a bit.
The Bachelor Buttons (all the little blue flowers) are growing really well but I think they are a bit too tall. I would like to see more of the terraces behind them. I definitely want them in the garden because the bees are loving them but I have a new plan for them that will take place next year. I'll show you where they are going to go in a minute.
I planted the top and third terrace with a wild flower mix this spring. Then the chickens got in the garden and scratched it all up. Out of the 4 terraces they only scratched in the two I had planted with the wild flower seeds! It always seems to work that way doesn't it.
Well to my deligth plenty of them still came up. There are California poppies as well as another kind of poppy, the Bachelor Buttons, Toad flax, Sweet William, Larkspur, Blanket Flower, Black Eyed Susan, and a few that I don't know the names of but I totaly love.
I have one Echanaciea that I planted the first year that is really starting to get big plus several others I planted this year. There are chives of course cause the bees and us love them, anise hysup (bees like pretty much all herbs), Chinese motherwort, Lupine, and Butterflyweed as well as some others. My next post will go into detail about the different plants I chose for the pollinators including ones that I put in the other gardens.
This is the view from the top. You can see the Bachelor Buttons better in this picture.
The top two terraces are not as full at the moment but I have planted more seeds and the wild flower seeds are still popping up!
I really like how the path turned out with the red bricks. I like how it curves around. I'd like to do something in the dirt section behind the brick but I'm not sure what yet.
I thought about filling that space with pea gravel, concrete, or planting it all with creeping thyme. What do you think? For the paths that run in between the terraces I could do the same.
I won't be doing any more to the paths this year so I have some time to think about it. Maybe I'll get a better idea. Maybe even from you!!
Do you remember how this space to the side of the terraces had plastic on it last year to kill the grass? Well we added about 4-6 inches of compost and added two apple trees that we moved from our orchard. It's no longer and orchard because we moved all the trees into our gardens where they will get more attention.
I've spread wild flower seeds as well as some others here. This is my plan for the Bachelor Buttons. They can go here with other wild flowers. I'm going to let the whole space be filled with wild flowers and use more perrenials in the terraces.
The bushes you see are choke cherries? I can't remember! Tasty little treats anyhow!
Earlier this year the goats got into the orchard and chowed down on our trees. Yikes! They look pretty pathetic now but they are coming out of it. Just one more reason to move them into the gardens. When these trees get bigger they will provide shade for the animals in the pasture that is on the other side of the fence.
Say hello to our goaties! The sheep are busy mowing the yard for us but these goats are in the pasture now. It is so handy, we just throw all the weeds we pick over the fence. Weeds are actually better for the goats than grass and they devour them.
This is the entrance to the terraced pollinator garden from the back garden. We had been using all these old cutting blades for a dozer? My husband knows exactly but I may not be remembering right. Anyways, we had been using them to hold down the plastic. So when I was putting the brick in the steps there they were. I thought it would be fun to use them as edging.
This is what we came up with. All that soil has been planted with seeds and that's more sedum in the little bottom section.
You can't see it well in this picture but these steps turn. I always like turns and curves in my gardens. I think it makes them more interesting. You can see how the steps above turn a bit as well.
Now to give you a good ol laugh, here is a picture of me after I worked on putting all these steps in with the North Dakota wind blowing like it always does and my bandanas in the laundry. Scary looking but happy to have accomplished that work!
I hope you guys enjoyed this little update. Now please tell me your ideas for the area of the steps behind the bricks, what should I do there?
Thinking about starting your own garden? Maybe you have just started a garden. For a simple yet complete guide to gardening check out my new book, "Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Garden". Remember that I'm here for you every step of the way. Your emails and questions are always welcome!
Wow! I thought my son was playing some trick on me when he brought this worm in. I looked it over and as you can tell from the video and pictures, this is the real thing. It looks so strange moving about, curling itself around. Once we took some pictures and the video we let it go in the yard.
I'm sure we will never find another worm like this again. The funnest thing about it is the kids amazement. My oldest son was surprised that it lived so long to get that big. He couldn't, nor I, figure out how it tunneled through the ground with two heads. Do you think that it tried to go two different directions at once? I guess the strongest head would win but like my son said, that wouldn't leave much time to eat and such so that it could grow and live. I guess it will always be a mystery.
Speaking of amazing creatures the kids found, look what else they found just a few weeks ago. Yep, That's a Praying Mantis. We bought an egg case a couple of years ago but I didn't figure that any would survive the North Dakota winters. I was proved wrong. This seems like a pretty healthy praying mantis, it is quite large. We are praying that it is a female that will lay more eggs.
Such fascinating insects. I think of them as the lions of the garden. They are fierce predators eating all kinds of harmful pests. May this beautiful praying mantis leave a healthy egg case tucked somewhere safe in our garden. She and her relatives are always welcome on our farm!
What kind of interesting insects have you found in your garden?
Happy, healthy, clean living!
You all know that we invested in new, breeder quality chickens earlier this spring. We searched the country high and low for birds that were not only breeder quality but also that they have been raised and selected for egg and meat production and fed a non-GMO diet.
Every hatchery feeds their birds GMO feed. They are not selected for quality and all the eggs are injected with vaccines. Every egg. Furthermore, unless it is stated that they are a heritage breed, you are likely getting a Cornish cross. These are considered by most people who are familiar with the subject as GMO chickens. Although they are not genetically modified the same way as say GMO corn, they are absolutely genetically modified through an intensive breeding program in which only to hatcheries in the country have the Frankenstein breeding stock to do so and with very inhumane results.
Cornish cross chickens have been bred in such a way that they reach butchering size in as little as 12 weeks. A healthy heritage or even a normal bird from the hatchery would take 20 weeks to be ready for butcher. They may be a little smaller but I'm sure you would be fine with that once you learn how the Cornish cross lives in their short little lives.
Commercially raised chickens- everything in your run of the line grocery store, are raised in long "houses" . They only receive artificially light and have at most a 1 to 1 1/2 feet of space each. And that is considered "free range" because they are not locked up in a cage. There are thousands of birds in each house and by the way the houses only get cleaned out about once every 4 years. Because of their super charged growth rate they often get broken legs and have heart attacks. As a result of their confined and cramped (literally walking on each other, hurt/sick chickens, and even dead chickens) disease is rampant, including E-coli so they are given vaccines and medicated feed. But still the death rate is high. Every day people come through and pick out the dead ones and then bury them alive! Yes, they are supposed to wring their neck first, like that's much better, but that "takes to long" so they just throw them in a pit then put the lid on and walk away leaving them to starve and suffocate to death. It is a horrible industry. This is not what we want when we sit done to the diner table. This is cruel and unnecessary. And this so called food does not nourish our bodies.
Organic means that they were given organic food but it doesn't mean that they were raised humanely. A lot of big companies have started an organic division so they can get a piece of profit from the organic pie. That doesn't mean they believe in the value of organic and humanely raised animals. There are a few companies out there that are raising their birds humanely and some even organically on a somewhat large scale. You have to research the company and know what to look for. Like I told you earlier "free range" doesn't necessarily mean that they are out wondering the prairie. It is highly unlikely. It is much better to look for pasture raised birds which are moved to new pasture on a consistent basis. The very best option is to KNOW YOUR FARMER. Where ever you live, either near us or across the world, know your farmer. Do a quick search and find local farmers in your area and buy them directly from them. Go to their farm and see how the birds are raised for yourself. If the farmer doesn't want you to visit then they must be hiding something. Our customers are always welcome to visit our farm. This is the best way to buy all your meat.
Now you can see why we were so very excited to find our birds! It has been several years since we purchased any birds from a hatchery and almost 10 years since we have bought any chicken from the store. But breeding hatchery chickens is not the same. We needed top quality birds to start our breeding program. Now that we have them we will be breeding one line for layers and for meat birds so that we can provide more eggs and chicken to our CSA customers. . Our chicken receives a completely non-GMO and organic diet, including fresh greens and they are free ranged-truly free ranged. They literally roam the prairie freely. Ahh, isn't that nice! And of course all this means that our birds are more nutritious too.
Happy, healthy, clean, eating,
I have done much research on this subject. We are deeply concerned with what we feed our family and take it very seriously. I didn't site the facts in this post but the information is easily found all over the internet if you would like to do further research. There is nothing wrong with eating meat but that doesn't mean we don't need to consider the quality of life of the animals that are raised for this purpose.
This picture was taken just hours after this little guy was born. Isn't he a cutie. We have Jacob sheep and Black Face sheep. Jacob sheep are said to originate from the sheep Jacob, in the bible, raised. You may remember the story where he got all the spotted and speckled sheep from his father in-law as his payment for shepherding his sheep (Genesis). Yes, That was one of the things that drew us to them but they also have a more mild flavor and their meat is more tender. A breed with all those qualities sounded like a great breed to us! We have truly loved them and are very happy with our decision.
Another interesting thing about Jacob sheep is that they can have up to six horns. They can even have an odd number of horns. The ewes and the rams both have them. Sometimes they might be a full curl, or like you can see in the picture below, they can go in opposite directions.
We lamb later than most people. It is common to lamb in March and sometimes even in February! That is usually really cold and wet for a new little lamb. One thing we have always heard since we have got lambs is that lambs try to die. Maybe in the wet and frigid environment of February and March. We live in North Dakota and it is cold here!
Thankfully, and with the Lord's help, we have not lost a lamb yet. May the good Lord continue to bless all of our lambs and mamas too, and I don't want to forget the rams either!
When they are born later in the spring they are able to have access to fresh green grass. This is great for the mamas who are finishing out their pregnancy and then making all that milk to nourish their little ones. And, like I said before, there isn't usually the mud. A lot of illnesses are contracted through the mud so it is best to keep them out of it.
We didn't plan on getting lambs. Then my husband found and add for some bottle lambs. There are always adds for bottle lambs in the early spring. Big farmers don't want to have to deal with bottle lambs. They are a lot of work. Like making a bottle and feeding them every two hours a lot of work. Well we weren't a farm at that time, no greenhouse to take care of and no CSA baskets to fill, just a small family homestead so we went for it. We got four bottle lambs in the cold and wet early spring. One ram and three ewes. That is were are Black Face sheep come from. We did loose one of these lambs but I count that little one separately from the ones we have lambed because it wasn't one we produced with our practices. Does that make sense?
Anyways we love our Black Face sheep too. It is hard not to love something that you have raised and put so much time and effort into.
From there we found the Jacob sheep and new that we wanted them to be the main focus in our sheep operation as our farm grew. They have been a joy and a wonderful addition.
Roxie, one of our original Black Face sheep, pictured below, is supper friendly. She will just walk up to us and expect to be petted. She always has to see what is going on just like when this picture was taken. I was trying to get some pictures of the lambs, she hasn't had hers yet, and she had to come see what I was up to. We had a nice visit.
Well I hope you enjoyed this little peek into lambing on our farm. It's spring, I best be getting back to farming!
Until next time,
Happy, healthy, clean eating!
As spring approaches so does egg season. Spring time is a time of egg abundance. All of our birds go into egg-laying mode eager to hatch a clutch of eggs. This process is set into motion by the longer days and warmer temps. Believe it or not but the ideal temperature for chickens to lay eggs is 55 degrees. In factory farms chickens are subjected to artificial light. Their length of "day" never changes. It may seem like that would be harmless but it actual is very hard on them and even shortens their life. God created them to slow down in the winter months to give their bodies a break. In the fall they molt (loose their feathers and grow in new ones) and this takes a lot of energy as well as all the egg laying they did for the previous six months. As the days get shorter in the fall, the egg laying process slows down. They may not lay at all when molting. At it's peak it is anywhere from a 40 -60% reduction. Then comes spring and production picks up again. They have recovered from molting and regained their energy stores and are ready to go for a new season.
Chickens tend to lay more egg a year than any other bird and that is what most people eat. However there are many other kinds of tasty eggs to eat. Here on the farm we eat chicken, duck, turkey, guinea, and goose eggs. The duck, turkey, guinea and goose eggs tend to be a little bit richer. Although all our bird forage and eat pasture, some birds are naturally more apt to a grass based diet. Ducks and especially geese, for example will always consume more grass than chickens. Pasture/forage can at the most only make up for 20% of a chicken's diet. To meet their dietary need the rest has to come from proteins (insect and grains), and grains. The greens are what makes for the richer flavor so even though free range and pasture ranged chicken eggs will be richer than confined chicken eggs, duck and geese, for example will still have even richer egg because a larger portion of their diet can from pasture.
Of course the most notable difference to the eye is the size. This goose egg weighs 6 1/2 oz. A large chicken egg weighs 2 1/2 oz. One goose egg is equivalent to 3-4 chicken eggs.
This egg will fill your belly no doubt. Look at the size of that yoke! A healthy Black Australorp chicken will lay about 220-250 eggs a year. A Pilgrim goose, the kind we have, on the other hand will lay 35-45 eggs a year. Better enjoy them while you can. They only come in the spring and early summer.
If you ever get the opportunity to try duck, turkey or goose egg then don't be shy. They are very tasty and highly nutritious. If you live in this neighborhood of the prairie then you can try some of ours. We have a limited availability in the spring and early summer. Just give us a call and and we will let you know what we have available.
Happy, healthy, clean eating,
Hello, I'm Jaci. I love gardening and being outside in God's amazing creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I look forward to sharing my farming adventures and helping you reach your gardening goals!