While we recover from a very wet, sloppy and frozen weekend, lots of fun things have been happening. We hope that our readers faired well through this last “winter” storm that passed through over the weekend. We were very prepared for any power outages, and thankfully, none happened for us. We were also prepared for the over abundance of rain and didn’t experience any flooding in our hoop houses, which is a blessing!
We finally had enough turkey eggs to put into our incubator. We raise Royal Palm Turkeys, which are a heritage breed. The history of Royal Palms has been traced back to a breeder by the name of Enoch Carson who lived in Lake Worth, Florida. It is believed that they are named after the city of Royal Palm, Florida which neighbors Lake Worth. The American Poultry Association recognized them as an official breed in 1971, decades after their inception. The wait took so long because their coloring was not constant from generation to generation.
They are not necessarily bred for their meat, but for their beautiful black and white plumage. Their black bands have almost a metallic sheen to them. We chose Royal Palm turkeys because of their smaller size when fully grown. We did not want a turkey that grew so big that it would not fit into our oven and we wanted a friendly, curious bird. However, they still make for a tasty bird, a Tom dresses out at about 20 pounds, and a hen around 15. Although this is our first season with raising them for meat, we chose them for their juicy and tender meat profile.
We have three Hens that have been consistently laying beautiful eggs. Over the last week or so, we have been collecting their eggs and storing them at room temperature, making sure to move them a few times a day to keep them fertile for the incubator. Our hens are so friendly and often like to have their heads scratched.
I put 16 eggs into the incubator this morning, so around May 15, we should have our first hatches. Sometimes, a few may take a day or two longer. Turkey eggs incubate at 101.5F for about 28 days. On day 24, we remove them from the rotator and lay them on their sides inside the incubator so they can get into position to make their first crack. Also, around day 24, you can begin to hear them inside their shell. We have never hatched turkeys before, but we have hatched duck and chickens in an incubator and it is truly an awesome experience.
(I do know that there are only 14 eggs shown in the photo below. When I went out to collect chicken eggs this afternoon, I stopped at the turkey coop and found two more, and put them in after the photo was taken.)
In other areas of the farm, we transplanted our zuchinni and a few squash plants into the south hoop house. It has been trending above freezing in there at night so I figured it was worth a shot. So far, so good. Hopefully, within a few weeks to a month or so, we will have fresh zuchinni. We planted 3 acorn squash plants and 3 butternut squash plants, the varieties we chose were personal-sized squash and were semi-bush type, meanig their vines would not spread all over inside the hoop house.
The white sheets you see laying off to the right side of the plants are called Frost Blankets. They come in different weights, depending on how much heat you’d like to keep in. They work wonders for early plantings out doors, or are useful inside the hoop house (where there is no heat, we just rely on the sun) for nights when it dips below freezing outside. The covering, depending on the weight/thickness, can keep an additional 5 to 10 degrees of warmth on your plants. It is important to remove them in the morning when temperatures allow so, because if it gets too warm inside the hoop house, your plants will fry (notice the dead broccoli and cabbage to the left). Plus, the white covering doesn’t allow a lot of light to get to the plant, and light is very important for growth.
Yesterday, I worked in the same hoop house, prepping the beds for tomatoes. I moved about 6 flats of tomatoes (about 125 plants) out into the hoop house yesterday while the sun was hidden. I put them under frost covering, like the squash. They are fairing quite well, and it seems as if we might actually get to plant them this coming weekend.
While the outside is miserable, we have a few rows of lettuce mixes, spinach and arugala doing very well. We also have radishes, beets, and carrots growing. Soon, I will plant some more, so there are no lapses in production.
We also recieved our order of Patterson onions from Johnny’s Select Seeds. We chose this variety for its production and long storage capabilities. It produces a very uniform, round bulb that should keep for about twelve months if cured and stored properly. We were hoping to plant these guys this weekend (that’s why we scheduled the delivery as such) but, due to so much rain, we will just have to wait!
The garlic that we planted last fall has emerged. Thankfully, the cold doesn’t really change its attitude much. We planted a few different types of long storing heirloom garlic.
As you see in the photo above, we had to fence our garlic… we have a rogue chicken that likes to hop the fence of the garden and scratch my raised beds up…including eating the garlic bulbs and flinging them all over. This is how you work with animals that do not like to listen to the rules…
Our chickens have also upped production. Our experiment with fermented feed has proved to be a positive one. We are seeing about 24 to 30 eggs a day from 32 laying hens. We are also seeing a reduction in feed consumption. When I make goat cheese, I also add some of the whey to each batch of fermented feed.
We are (I guess I should say *I* am) excited to announce our return to the Durand Farmer’s Market for the 2018 season. We took the year off last year to focus on our family, fitness, and my Etsy Business. Now that I have a better grasp on the direction in which I aim to take the Red Barn Family of businesses, we will be returning. We will be offering eggs, veggies, plants (if we have extra), and of course, my homemade soaps, salves, and other products. We will also be focusing a lot on our farm, getting our name out there to let people know who we are and what we are about.
It is my personal goal to get our little community more on board with organically farmed produce, eggs, and meat, and show the benefits it has on the community, land, and overall health of humans.