Hard Work

I think most people don’t enjoy hard work anymore.  I’m the opposite.  I hate sitting at a desk all day.  I would much rather be working outside, gardening, farming or construction.  This weekend I had two days of hard work.  The kind of days where you are so tired you want to go to bed early.  Where you fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow- or before if I happen to relax on the floor while watching a movie, which happened Saturday night.

Saturday I worked at the CSA for about 6 hours.  It was one of the most productive days that I have been there.  The farmer, coordinator, the other intern and I were all there along with a couple other volunteers.  We were all moving around non-stop, cleaning, organizing, potting seedlings, mixing soil, putting up brackets for hose storage, removing trash.  I was there for almost six hours and, besides driving my truck to get rid of some of the trash, didn’t sit down.  I got home from the CSA and did a few things around the house before watching the Kentucky Derby.  We then went fishing until it was almost dark, came home, watched 12 Years a Slave and went to bed.

Sunday I started off by making a peanut butter and radish sandwich, a favorite of mine that I learned from my mother.  Heather thought I was crazy when she saw me making it!  After taking care of the animals and doing a little work around the property I went down to help with the plant sale at the CSA.  It wasn’t too busy so after a little while with the four of us sitting around, the farmer decided we should plant some tomatoes in the greenhouse.  So three of us planted about 65 tomatoes.  Then we started weeding the rest of the greenhouse.  It was rather warm in the greenhouse and sun was shining so that really took some energy out of me.  However, as soon as I got home I felt like cutting up some logs and splitting firewood.  I did that for about an hour.  I figure if I do a couple hours once a week or fifteen minutes a day I will have the piles split so they can season in about a month.  I decided while splitting wood to build a new four section compost bin next to the fence with some of the pallets I had collected.  Two of the sections are ready to use but it still needs finished up.  I finished the day off building a little feeder for the cornish chickens.

After work today, I moved some manure from a pile next to the garden to the new compost bins.  I really should have taken it easy because my back was hurting after going to the chiropractor this morning.  When I went to the chiropractor this morning, my neck hurt from sleeping weird last night but my back felt fine.  When I left my back hurt but my neck felt fine.

Heather’s sister and her sister’s friend came out to fish in the pond tonight.  They caught several bluegill, one that was a pretty good size.  They are off getting ice cream, now.  They are supposed to bring me back some ginger ale for mixing with my whiskey, but I think I’m going to head to bed without it…

Chuck From the Rural Side



5 Tuxedos – Officially Addicted

This was quite a busy weekend on and away from the Rural Side.  Saturday I worked down at the CSA pulling and hoeing weeds in one of the gardens.  After a few hours of that I went and helped a friend get mulch for around his house.  When I got home I worked around the property before supper and continued for a little bit after.

Sunday morning we went to Troy Swap, an animal swap and flea market in Troy, Ohio.  I have been looking for some rabbits since we figured out we got two bucks and a doe.  There weren’t as many vendors as last year when we went, with most of this year’s vendors selling flea market type stuff instead of animals.  There were a couple pens of rabbits but none that I was interested in for how much they were asking.  We didn’t go home empty handed, though…  The last vendor in the line had some chickens.  They were mostly roosters in cages with some day-old chicks in a pen.  As soon as Heather saw that they had D’uccle chicks she was interested.  At first she found five that she liked, 3 black and white and two lavender.  We put those in the truck and walked around a bit longer and she decided to get two more of the black and white.  So from the swap we ended up with seven chicks.  She decided on the way home she was going to call them her “5 Tuxedo” chicks because of the black and white chicks.

We stopped at Ludlow Falls which is near Troy on the way home.  There is a cool waterfall that Heather had never been to, so I wanted to take her there.  We walked around, went down to the base of the falls, hiked down the stream a bit, relaxed in the sun on a rock, before heading back to the truck to head home.  On the way home we stopped at Rural King to get some chick feed.  Of course they had to have D’uccle chicks in, which they had not had any of every time we went this spring.  They had Mille Fleur and porcelain colors so Heather got two of each, along with two brahma chicks.  We got the food and finally got home with our newest additions to the homestead.  I think we are officially addicted to chickens!

The cornish were still in the brooder because I was waiting until the afternoon when it was warmer to move them out to the coop.  I had made a temporary partition on the remaining side of the coop to keep them for the next month or so until they go to freezer camp.  I moved the cornish out to the coop, we cleaned out the brooder, sanitized it, let it dry, added new bedding and finally put the new chicks in.  The heat lamp had been acting funny and flickering sometimes so I was looking at that when I discovered that the metal end of the bulb was melted and blackened.  Not wanting to continue using that lamp we went to buy a new one quick so the chicks would stay warm.  Here are the new chicks in the brooder and Heather sitting in the brooder playing with them.photo 2 photo 1








After everybody was settled in I started working around the homestead.  I finished moving the railroad ties from by the garden to by the driveway so that someone can easily take them all away whenever I post them on Craigslist.  Some of them are really heavy so it was quite a bit of work flipping nine of them end-over-end about fifty feet.  Taking a break between moving some of those I picked up sticks in the yard, mowed some of the grass, dead-headed flowers, and turned some compost.  My plan is to get rid of a lot of grass, keeping the area around the house and out to the road.  There might be the strips between the rows of grape vines left and a couple rows around the pond, too.  I’d like to mulch the area that will become the orchard and the west and south sides of the pond I would like to let be natural, if I can keep honeysuckle from taking it over.

After eating some dinner and finally relaxing, we had one more little task to take care of for the evening.  One of the tuxedo chicks had a toe that was curled under its foot.  We crafted a splint out of a piece of card-stock, tape and a band-aid.  This will hopefully get the toe to grown out straight, so that there are no issues in the future with the chick.  It even got an Angry Birds band-aid!

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Tilling the Garden

The garden has finally dried out enough that I am able to till the soil in preparation for the growing season.  How to prepare beds for planting is a subject that most gardeners have an opinion on.  Some people till yearly, others double-dig once and don’t turn over the soil again for many years, while some gardeners prefer not to turn the soil over at all.  As with most things, there are positives and negatives to each method.

For me personally, I am trying to incorporate a large amount of organic matter into the soil to help break up the heavy clay that we have here.  I’m adding compost, leaves, and straw, while also turning in the cover crop of rye that I planted last fall.  A tiller is the easiest way to do that.  I could double-dig, which I considered, but with 3000 square feet of garden it just seems like too much work, if I’m being honest.  Getting my garden ready in a couple of hours versus many hours of digging sounds a lot more pleasant.

After tilling this year I am going to lay out permanent garden paths to prevent soil compaction in the garden beds.  Hopefully this will help the soil structure as well.  After planting I will mulch with straw around the plants to help hold moisture in the soil and shade out weeds, while adding nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.  Compost will be added to add more nutrients throughout the season.  A cover crop planted in the fall and left over winter can help to add organic matter and control weeds as well.

If I can do away with tilling in the coming years, in favor of no-till gardening, I will do that.  The tilth of the soil will determine which direction I go.  If I feel that the soil is loosened up enough, doesn’t compact into a brick hard layer in the summer, and has adequate drainage I might not till anymore.  I might test out doing some plants in no till areas and the same plants in tilled areas to see which does better for me.  Production is the ultimate goal so whatever produces the most with the least amount of work will ultimately win out.

What are your thoughts on tilling versus no-till?  Do you use a different method I didn’t mention that I should explore further?

Chuck From the Rural Side


I was just watering all of the seeds I started and I already have four things sprouting.  Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli.  Now I’m just hoping that the warm weather sticks around so I can get the garden ready to plant.  I need to get the rest of the railroad ties out of the garden, lay out where I’m going to put the beds, move some dirt and compost, and finish cleaning up.

In other news I went to the Enright Eco Village today.  They offered me the job as a farm intern so I will be working with them this year to grow food for their CSA.  There may be an opportunity to learn bee keeping as well which I am excited about.  I also met the other intern.  She will be working there about full time through the summer.  We had dinner at the house of a woman who lives in the Eco Village, along with the founder of the Village, the supervisor of the CSA (who I knew from college) and her fiancé.  I learned a lot about the village and the residents tonight.

Clocks spring forward tonight and I’m already up later than usual, so I should be off to bed.

Until next time

Chuck From the Rural Side