Gardening · Homesteading

July On The Homestead

July’s theme has been sunny and warm, with it starting off with the PNW heat wave of around 100* on our homestead. I was in Alaska for the first bit of the heat wave, and we will most likely lose a couple blueberry plants due to the heat. Those plants were easily missed and right on the hottest day our irrigation system decided to blow a ring as well. No vacation goes easily, right? But thankfully most everything came through, and it definitely popped out tomatoes.

The squirrels and chipmunks ate my mammoth sunflower plant starts but then planted black oil sunflower seeds that have grown into multiple plants throughout the gardens.

First week of July I had a deer play Kool-Ade Man and knock a fence down. The U post holding it was flattened, but nothing was eaten. I am thinking it freaked the deer out, and it took off.

First tomatoes of the season.

We picked a lot of peas this year.

3 types raspberries.

First zucchinis.

I have been growing a different kind of potato that I found in the spring. It was started from the seeds that the flowers put on. Every seed germinated, so all went into the beds. They are Clancy Potato Seeds.

I planted a seed mix for the hens, first coop wouldn’t touch it, but the young hens loved it.

Yum yum yum. Which…these 6 hens all started laying in the 14 to 16 week range. I was shocked. We lost one of the black/teal ones suddenly (woke up to a dead bird), it had all the signs of a heart attack, maybe related to her starting to lay eggs. The rest seem to be fine and have carried on.

Sunflower growing.

We have tarped the upper field with two silage tarps, to get it ready to plant next year, in early spring.

When we first moved here in 2018 one of the first things I did was plant lavender around the front of the house. This year I have not watered it at all, and it has done well. Even in the heat wave.

It’s a great point when you can get to the ignore point, and do nothing, and it grows.

This sunflower is amazing. It is stocky (3 to 4 feet high) with a stem thicker than my wrist. It is putting on multiple side shoots now, that are opening up.

One issue is always dealing with cotton tail rabbits, which are not native to our island. The big ones I can deal with, the small ones do the most damage. This one was in one of the chicken coops, and I hadn’t noticed till it was shut in. The chickens were so upset. V, the white chicken, is a dwarf. She was part of the chicks we raised last year, and the only one to never lay an egg. She’s a funky little thing, but is doing well now, though she never looks right. Multiple chickens have tried to kill her since she was a baby, but we finally found a place for her, where she has been safe. She lives with a 6 year old hen we took in, and Gray Grey, another small hen – who is biologically related – that we took in. It is like 3 little old ladies in that coop. They don’t tear up the land either, so they live in the orchard.

As I walked down the stairs this month I looked out to see a horned owl sitting on a pipe that sticks up near our propane tank. It was there forever. It likes to sit on the farm tent in the fields as well – and stare at our chickens.

Goldie is one of the hens we raised last year. She went broody, and built herself a clutch of eggs. The rooster, Raven, we passed onto a friend who needed a rooster for their 14 hens, so they could get babies…and we know he can do the job.

Another hen, Rosie, also went broody. She sat on 2 of her eggs, and 1 hatched. It looks just like her (we know she was on her eggs, not “borrowed” from the other hens, as she hangs out in a deck box, and not the coop).

Bee on leeks that went to flower.

Honeybees on a different large sunflower.

One of the beds in production.

Bee on Catnip.

Little bee delicately walking from stem to stem.

Rosie with her baby, she took the baby outside on the second day.

A day after Goldie had another chick hatch successfully. And it looks like here. She had 3 hen’s worth of eggs under her, 10 eggs total. 2 of the eggs tried to hatch but didn’t successfully. 3 days out, yesterday morning, a last chick hatched. And Goldie ignored it, instead trying to bury it. I rescued it and another friend took it, and put it under her broody hen, who accepted it. Chicken raising is so full of drama I tell you…..

I grew Cosmos last year and they feral seeded and grew this summer. Both purple/pink and white ones.

Garlic harvest time.

Sunny, or as I call her, Stabby (she’s a pecker) checking out my garlic. We had a massive crop this summer, pulled it up last weekend. It is now curing.

Also growing wild was a couple types of potatoes. You never quite get all the potatoes it seems, and yes, they come back. These are Ozette Potatoes, which were grown by the Makah people for over 200 years on their lands. The potato nearly went extinct, but has been saved. They are so good, buttery and tender. I was so excited as I dug up the random potatoes growing to find these.

Pumpkins growing. Hog panels for the win this year as a trellis.

The corn is over 6 feet 4 inches now and growing higher.

July isn’t over yet, but it is winding down. Fall crops are going in the ground, and seeds are coming up.