Sunday, August 5, 2012

Farm Happenings

This blog has been mostly quiet for the season, because of the drought.  We've spent many, many hours watering plants in the hopes they will not fry in the 100+ degree temperatures.  Sadly, we've lost many plants to the lack of the rain high temps.  But, there have been some surprises this season.

"Honeybun" Sweet Corn (hybrid)
We harvested sweet corn about a week ago.  This variety is called "honeybun".  It is not an heirloom corn seed, because we live so close to commercial corn fields that heirloom varieties do not produce well.  With the drought, I was expecting very tiny ears with many undeveloped rows.  What we discovered, however, was that while some of the ears had missing kernels, most were just fine.  It was a very nice surprise to actually harvest corn.  A little early, but I'll take early than none at all!

"Yellow Pear" tomato (heirloom)

Even with the drought and heat, we're getting a good amount of tomatoes.  In the last few days, we've also harvested about 10 pounds of tomatoes.  The Rutgers, Marglobe, and Roma plants have been doing great since we wrapped soaker hoses around them.  The Beefsteaks are not doing as well, but they are producing some here and there.  Our yellow pear variety produced first this season.  They are small and very sweet, perfect for snacking and salads.  Actually, many of our first Rutgers and Marglobe were more cherry-like in size, but now they are beginning to grow to full size.

Ready to become sauce!
Yesterday, we processed about 10 pounds of Rutgers, Marglobe, and Roma tomatoes into salsa and pasta sauce.  We purchased  a Sauce Master at Rural King, which has multiple screens that can be interchanged, depending on what you are working with.  We bought a salsa screen, and will eventually purchase the pumpkin and grape screens.  The screen that accompanies the unit is fine and not a seed comes through.  The salsa screen allowed the pulp and seeds through, and we ended up with a bowl of skins that the chickens devoured.  All in all, we ended up with 4 pints of pasta sauce, 3 pints of salsa, and 1 pint of salsa ready tomatoes (we ran out of salsa seasonings!).  There are still plenty of green tomatoes on the vines, and we have two plots of Beefsteak and more Marglobe that were planted later, and have been slowly getting bigger and bigger.  We're hoping for a late frost and an extended growing season this year!

Three Rhode Island Red hens
Not all has been good on the farm, however.  With several weeks of 100+ temps, we lost several year old hens from the heat, as well as one tom turkey.  The heavier breeds of chickens just don't seem to tolerate the heat as well as others, and these were the ones we lost.  We did make several valiant rescue efforts, one successful, and two not.  The Barred Rock that made it has recovered completely and is back with her coop mates and laying like normal.  The new Rhode Island Reds had been separated from the others in the coop, but due to the heat they had to be combined so they could have a cooler spot.  This resulted in 1 cockerel being almost pecked to death, and a hen with a similar injury.  They have been residing in our garage (AKA, the MASH unit) for quite some time now.  They will have a new home down at the in-laws once the meat birds are all processed.  As far as heat goes, the RIR's that we purchased as chicks earlier this year seem to tolerate the heat better than the others.  Next year, we will likely add Australorps and possibly some Leghorns to our little flock.  (I really want a Leghorn rooster to name Foghorn!!!)  

Ruby- farm dog wannabe
So that is what's been happening here at Aurora Bryn Farm.  The only other piece of news is our new addition to the family.  Ruby has been with us for about a month now.  She is a golden retriever/Labrador mixed breed puppy we acquired from a local rescue.  Her owners were about to dump her and her little mates into the river bottoms before some kind soul rescued them.  Ruby likes to bark at the chickens, and has made a mortal enemy of our remaining tom turkey, who rushes the fence at her whenever Ruby comes close, which is every time she is out there.  Ruby has a bit to learn about being a farm dog!

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