JustPicked Farms

  (Emporia, Kansas)
What's happening down on the farm
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The Barefoot Gardener

May 16

The Barefoot Gardener

I went out into the garden this afternoon to try to get some things done on the only non-rainy day we’ve had in a while.  I was fairly productive, and got corn, beans, and zucchini planted, and got the mulch fabric laid down for the melons.  The ground was really too wet to be planting, but I feel like I’m so far behind I needed to do it anyway.  As we were laying the mulch fabric, one end of the garden was so wet it felt like we were stomping grapes rather than walking on dirt.  Our footprints filled with water as we walked.  As I was planting the corn, so much mud was sticking to my shoes that they must have weighed 5 pounds each.  I finally took them off and went barefoot instead.  The mud didn’t stick quite as much to my feet as it did to my shoes, and besides, it was nice to feel the cool, squishy mud between my toes.

We picked our first strawberries of the season this week.  There was just enough to top a bowl of cereal, but they are so much sweeter and juicier than the grocery store strawberries.  We’ve been eating lettuce out of our garden for a couple of weeks now.  We have a nice leaf lettuce mix that includes both red and green lettuce and looks really nice in the bowl.  The cool rainy weather has been good for the lettuces.  We should have enough to sell at the farmer’s market in another couple of weeks.

The chicks have outgrown the brooder house, so we’ve moved the broilers and turkeys into one of the hoop houses.  They are enjoying having fresh grass and bugs to eat, as well as having extra room to move around.  The little barred rock pullets are still in the brooder house, but we’re starting to let them out to range in the evenings.  The first evening we let them out, they didn’t know how to get back in, so we were chasing them down with a net to put them back.  Soon they will be able to find their way “home” by themselves.  The ducks are fully feathered now and love to swim and play in the pond we’re building next to the garden.  They have their big duck quacks now instead of the little duckling peeps.

Here’s to big duck quacks, sweet juicy strawberries, and squishy cool mud between your toes!  Life just can’t get much better.


A Productive Week

April 19

A productive week

This has been a very productive week at JustPicked Farms.  On Thursday morning, I got a call at 5:30 am from the postoffice saying my chicks had arrived and I needed to pick them up.  When I got there, they handed me a box about the size of a shoe box.  “Is this all?”  I asked.  IMG_1362  I peeked inside the box and saw that it included only the 25 barred rock chicks, but not the 50 cornish cross chicks and 6 turkeys that I was also expecting that day.  They assured me that was the only box that had come for me.  I took the chicks home and got them situated in the brooder house, and then went to work.  At 8:00 I called the hatchery to see if the rest of the chicks had been delayed.  “No,” they assured me, “they all shipped yesterday morning.”  The rest of the morning I worried that they had been lost by the postoffice.  I went home for lunch and found a message on the answering machine from the postoffice – the rest of the chicks had arrived on a later truck.  I went back into town, picked up the chicks, went back home again, and began unpacking the chicks.

For those of you who have never purchased chicks, there are two steps to unpacking them.  The first step is to count the chicks as you are taking them out of the box.  Of course, you want to make sure the hatchery didn’t short you (although I’ve never had a hatchery short me), but also because hatcheries generally throw in a couple of extra chicks just in case of losses during the trip or first few days.  In this case, there were 52 chicks, and 6 turkey poults.  The second step after counting each chick is to dip its beak in the waterer, so it knows where the water is.  That gets them drinking quickly after they’re unpacked.

IMG_1373On Saturday, Japheth and I went to Spring Hill to pick up a package of bees.  When we got them home he helped me put them in the hive.  They come in a wooden box with screened sides, with the queen in a separate cage inside.  There are about 10,000 bees in a three pound package.  We took the queen cage out, removed the cork that kept the queen inside, and placed the cage inside the hive.  Then we turned the box with the rest of the bees upside down and set it on top of the bars, leaving a space so they could crawl down inside.  We left them alone for an hour or so, and then we took the box off the top, put the lid back on the hive, and left the box leaning up against the side of the hive so any remaining bees could crawl out and find their way into the hive.  Nobody got stung during this process, and we weren’t wearing gloves or veils.

We also rented the small tractor and tiller from Waters, and tilled the corn patch, the melon patch, Japheth’s patch, and inside the greenhouse.  I was able to get some tomatoes transplanted, and some carrots and broccoli planted.

There’s always something to do on the farm.  It keeps us from being couch potatoes.

Until next week…


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