It’s gonna be busy around here for the next month or two. Being the queen of biting off more than I can chew, I have ordered 50 chickens, 4 goats, and over a hundred trees. Not to mention the vegetable garden, the herb garden, and the house renovations. Then, of course, I wrecked my back, so Hubby is having to do all the actual work, and all I can do is supervise. Poor guy. I am unspeakably glad he is patient and easygoing – he just keeps repeating his mantra “you will get better soon”. I hope he is right. I am on three different medications, and none of them is working very well. I only seem to get 4 hours of sleep at a stretch, and commuting to work is excruciating at the moment. But I digress.
Last weekend, we (Hubby) planted 50 hazelnut trees at the Farm. The University of Saskatchewan had a seedling variety trial on offer, and the trees were cheap cheap cheap. Mom had commented that they needed a shelterbelt along the lane…so now they have one. Or at least 150 feet of one (we planted in two rows). We did not have enough spare cash to have someone else plow up the area, so we dug each hole by hand, then surrounded each tree with landscape fabric held down by rotten hay. It was a loooonnngggg couple of days.
While we were at the Farm, we took a look at the orchard. The temporary fence (long rebar stakes and plastic deer netting) did not hold up well, and the deer have nibbled off the tips of most of the apple trees. Fortunately, they do not look too dead, so I guess we will just plan a better fence for next year…if we can afford it. There was unfortunately a lot of damage to the apricot shrub, though – we did not wrap mouse / rabbit protector around the little shrubs, as we were afraid it would harm them. It looks like the mice will harm them more. I doubt the apricot will survive, as it is completely girdled on one side, for about three inches up the trunk. That’s really too bad, as the tree would have been on its third year this year, and might have been bearing soon. We had ordered another apricot for the acreage, and might just put it down at the Farm, instead. We will see.
Our order from Grimo Nut Nursery (sorry, links don’t seem to be working today) arrived yesterday, and everything appeared to be there and in good shape. We ordered two types of black walnuts, a couple of butternuts, some shagbark hickories, and two Ultra Northern Pecans. All of them are questionable for our climate – there is some disagreement over whether they are zone 3 or zone 4, and the pecan could even be a zone 5. However, we decided we would plant them and see what happens – maybe they will be like the apricots, and grow just fine, but only bear nuts when it is a long summer. Even if they only bear one year in five, I would call them a good investment. If they survive the winter (and decades after), the walnuts and butternuts could also be used for lumber (I have heard of a good, straight tree being sold for ten grand, for furniture making), and the hickory wood can be used for smoking. So most of them have a purpose, even without the nuts.
We still have a ton of fruit, nut, and shelterbelt trees on order from Rhora’s Nut Farm and T & T Seeds. We have ordered from T & T before, and been pleased with the results. Rhora’s is new this year, so we will see how they do. Both Rhora’s and Grimo are in southern Ontario, so I am not so sure about how hardy their stock will be, but as they are the only reasonably-priced places I could find the nut trees I wanted, I will take the risk of losing some to winter kill.
In other news, the chickens will be coming in about two weeks. Fifty day-old chicks – some Plymouth Rocks, and some Silver-Laced Wyandottes. We have gotten the heat lamps, feeders, and waterers. We have not quite decided how we will contain them, or what to use for bedding. We actually don’t have a proper chicken coop, yet – it went on the back burner, as they have to be inside for the first few weeks, anyways. We have the choice of three different run-down former chicken coops here at the Acreage, or we might build their coop into the goat shed, so they can all help keep each other warm in the winter. We will need to decide soon, though!
We put a deposit down on four Toggenburg goats. The breed is the oldest registered, and although they don’t give the most milk, they are winter-hardy and calm. We will be getting an adult milking doe, a dry (not milking yet) adult doe, a baby doe, and a baby buck. I milked a goat a few times as a teenager, but Hubby has never been within five feet of a goat, so it will be a steep learning curve. They were supposed to be delivered this coming weekend, but the fellow had an emergency and had to change the delivery date. We were pretty relieved! Now, the goats are supposed to be coming in mid-June. That will give us more time to build the fence and renovate the former-granary / soon-to-be-goat-shed. We’ve already been in there cleaning, and that was a big job. Hubby has dug a couple of fencepost holes, but that job got interrupted when the hazelnuts arrived, and will be interrupted again to go plant the latest batch of nut trees this weekend. Too bad the Farm is so far – it is a 3 or 3.5 hour drive, so not really a day trip when you are doing heavy work in between. Oh, well, at least we have a bit of time on that, now…