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A few days ago, a small box showed up on our doorstep. It was our blueberries. I was, to quote ‘Mater, as excited as a tornado in a trailer park. The very next morning we drove up to our land to get them planted. It took about 3 hours to till each row a few times, add some peat moss, then till again. Then it took about 3 hours to plant all 100-something plants. I took my time, making sure each plant got a big drink of water as I put them in the ground, then another after I tucked them in. I packed the soil down firmly around each plant using my hands, then made a well of soil around them to hold water around the roots instead of letting it run all over the row.

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Before planting.

After planting and watering.

After planting and watering.

Watering a blueberry plant.

Watering a blueberry plant.

The plants came in all sizes between 8-16″ or so. There are over 30 Duke, 30 Bluecrop, and 40 Jersey blueberries. About one in four had flowers blooming – I picked those off finally today to get the plants focused more on producing roots and shoots instead of fruits. As soon as we get a not-so-windy day, I’ll be sprinkling some sulfur around each plant to lower the pH of the soil and allow the plants to utilize nutrients more efficiently. Right now, it takes me about an hour and a half to water all 100 plants by hand. That sounds dreadful, but it’s pretty easy thanks to this contraption:

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Our lawn tractor can easily handle a full 55-gallon drum as long as it’s strapped down tight to the trailer. The drum is on a homemade wooden frame that allows it to tilt forward so that water comes out the spigot installed in the cap. There is a hose attached to the spigot that works by gravity. Tip the hose down – water comes out. Tip it up – water stops. It takes two full drums to water all 100 plants. I fill it through a hole on the side of the drum (or the top in this orientation). I don’t use this to water our large fruit orchard (apples, pears, peaches, grapes, etc) because we have a hose that actually reaches all of those. The blueberries are over 400′ away in the south field, down one hill and up another. That’s a LONG way to haul buckets. I’m pretty happy with this watering rig… at least until we can get a well installed in the south lot.

So that’s the start of our berry farm. We probably won’t be open for at least another two years. Next year we plan on doing at least 100 more blueberry plants, plus at least 1000 raspberries. We still have to come up with a name for ourselves and figure out a marketing strategy, but that will come in time. I had the idea of calling ourselves Patriot Berries. We’ve got the blue blueberries, and we plan on adding red raspberries. Anyone know of a white berry that might sell well? Maybe gooseberries, white currants, or white grapes? Then we’d have red, white, and blue. It’s corny, I know, but I’m a corny gal.

Anyone else have ideas for a name for our farm?

 

 

So do you remember in my last post how positive I was that our house was finally going to start being built in just a few days?

Yeah.

About that.

Just hours after signing the final paperwork for our building permit, my builder calls me and says he’s running about two weeks late with his building schedule because of the rough winter we had. Okay. Two weeks isn’t bad, right? I can handle that. Then he says that he’s going in for some sort of surgery and will get pushed back a couple more weeks. Wait… what?

Yep. The new estimated start date for our house construction is now sometime in mid-June. My husband pushed his R&R back so he could get here just when the house was supposed to be finished and help me get the kitchen put together. Now when he comes we’ll be lucky if there’s even a hole in the ground yet.

I’m pretty sad. No idea when the house will be done now. I had planned on having the rest of the summer to finish the interior to livable status so we could move in and the boys could start at their new school on time. Now it sounds like I’ll be lucky to have a week to work on it before they’re ready to go back to school. Time… it’s not on my side anymore.

We are counting down to a real date now! Everyone is fairly sure that the road restrictions will be lifted on Monday, May 6th. Hooray! I have our digger, Rob, coming out to make us a new spur on the driveway so that large trucks won’t get stuck on our sharp turn. He’ll also be expanding the circle in our driveway to allow vehicles to park and larger trucks to be able to make it around the bend. That should take him just a few hours to complete on Monday, then our builder can start bringing in his heavy equipment to dig up the basement site and start laying forms for the pour.

That, my dear readers, means that I have about 5 days left in which to get the foundation for the chicken coop and storage room dug up and ready, because I’m hoping to use the remnants of the concrete truck to get a nice, solid foundation for the coop. Speaking of the coop, I’ve done a bit of digging the past couple times I went up there. I dug out the 10 post holes for the chicken run fence. Doesn’t sound very difficult until you hear that all but one of those damn things had stones the size of footballs in them. Seriously. If I didn’t know better, I would assume the farmer who owned this land so long ago grew rocks instead of hay.

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The little sticks in front mark where the coop will be. It’s 8’x18′, but will probably be divided in half initially for storage. The boards laying across the ground in front of the little sticks mark where the driveway will be expanded to. I want enough room to park our vehicles and still be able to make it around the circle without a fender bender. We’ll be left with 4-6′ between the coop/shed and driveway. Just enough room for a little covered porch. Oh… those posts? They’re leaning loosely in the holes. I will use a level when I actually fill the holes in next time I’m up there. 🙂 It was near the kids’ bed time when I finished digging and measuring out the coop. I think I did pretty well – got within 2″ of being totally square just eyeballing it. The finished run will be 18’x24′ when it’s done.

Our oldest boy got a pellet gun for his birthday this year. He’s been tearing up the targets so well that I bought him a metal one with two little targets that “ding” and spin around when they’re hit. He already destroyed one of them. He hit it twice in a row and instead of spinning around, it twisted around and bent the metal arm all out of shape. Lovely, cheap, foreign imports. Almost makes me wish we drank soda. Then maybe we’d have some cans to plink instead. What do you shoot? I’d love some suggestions. I’ve been thinking about putting those little plastic army guys up on a plank of wood. Maybe staple some paper plates with bullseyes drawn on to a stake in the ground.

Spring has definitely arrived now.  Here are two videos and some pictures I’ve taken in the past few days.

The first buds of the year are on the cherry tree!

The first buds of the year are on the cherry tree!

 

Some tulips poking through.

Some tulips poking through.

 

The chives came back with gusto.

The chives came back with gusto.

 

A wood frog in our "pond." I also heard spring peepers and western chorus frogs, but couldn't find them to snap a picture.

A wood frog in our “pond.” I also heard spring peepers and western chorus frogs, but couldn’t find them to snap a picture.

I guess I have one more little note. I did indeed order 100 blueberry plants. They are paid for and should ship sometime in the next two weeks. After stopping at the County Extension office in town, I went home with not one  but TWO free books on starting a U-Pick farm. I also got a pamphlet on raising blueberries specifically, but I’ve yet to get enough time in one block so I can actually sit and peruse them. The ladies at the office seemed very excited. Like… asking when I’ll be open and how much I’ll charge excited. Maybe this could take off in the next few years and help us pay off that second land parcel. Who knows? My plans for this weekend, aside from digging the foundation for the chicken coop, now include tilling up four 75′ rows and amending the soil with peat moss and soil acidifier. My dad has a few days off, so I might just have him help me with that since the field where we’ll be planting them is more than a bit hairy.

That reminds me. I also have to take the lawn tractor and chainsaw in for their yearly maintenance. Whew! I’ll check back here in a few days when all of this is done. Cross your fingers for me that the road restrictions lift and the building crew can make it up our steep hill!

May 2013
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