How can we live by creating a sustainable biodiverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Raised beds covered with wood chips

I have created several raised beds last year in a small area beside the chicken coop. I have filled them last year with aged horse manure. The manure has some saw dust in it so I thought it will be good enough to preserve moisture but this was not the case. We had a dry season last summer and even after watering it the water would not penetrate deep but rather it was soaked in the upper 1-2cm layer and this would dry up very fast. Wood chips behave differently; they let the water pass down into the deeper layers and then preserves the moisture for very long time (for weeks) even in a very hot and dry weather. Lesson leaned and now I'm covering all the beds with a 5-10 cm layer of aged wood chips.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

We have eggs again!

We've got 6 eggs today :) which is great really because we got none throughout the winter. It has begun! As soon I saw the first 2 eggs being laid last week I started feeding them more because egg production needs lots of protein. It seems like omelet will often be on our meny :) Nice!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Greenhouse beds covered in wood chips

Last year I had to water this new greenhouse of ours every week throughout the season because the soil/aged horse manure would dry extremely fast. In the summer of 2013 we had a small greenhouse in our summerhouse and I covered it with aged wood chips and even though that summer was very hot and dry I watered that greenhouse only 2 times in more than 3 month :) The wood chips sure are awesome in preserving the moisture. So I decided to cover this new greenhouse with wood chips to be ready for the coming season. I have already now started to water the beds so microbial and fungal activity can begun because plants need microbes and fungi and all sorts of soil dwelling critters to function and grow well and healthy.
The dark layer are the aged wood chips

Just a little update on the sheep; As you can see in my previous post I have expanded the sheep pasture a lot but for some reason they seem to be reluctant to go there and graze. They do however follow me there :) and then they graze but as soon they see the neighbors horses they run back to their old part of the field where their shed is. I guess this is good in a way because they do feel secure in that part. So I make sure to lead them every day to the new pasture filed so they get used to it and see that there is no harm there but tasty new grass only :) 
Beside fine mix of grasses I have also sown white clover all over this field. Cant wait to see my bees and all other pollinators having a lovely pesticide-free organic feast :) Clover pollen and honey are of great value for all pollinators but especially for honeybees, solitary bees and bumblebees.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Expanding the sheep pasture

After 3 days of hard work and hammering 102 wooden poles into the hard clay soil the sheep have got plenty of new forage space.
 In this photo above you can see the old pasture space behind the sheep which is literary over-grazed. Seeing that they are wiping out the grass I needed to act as soon as possible so they dont ruin that field which would then need re-sowing and that does cost money. The new filed is so lush in grass because we had a very mild winter and the sheep are not waiting for an invitation :) they are all over it!
Here is a panoramic shot showing the entire field at the back of our small forest. Now they have just under 1 hectare of forage space. This large field is also sown with white clover which will benefit my bees and all other pollinators. Clover grows much better if the grass is kept short, so it is important to have animals grazing over it otherwise the tall grass will over shadow the clover.

Sowing season 2015 has begun

The ordered seeds have arrived today :) happy days! It just feels great to be planning the kitchen garden again!
I didnt have to order all I need because I started collecting seeds from my own garden for the last 2 years. This year I  will be focusing on planting lots of flowers like Borage, Phacelia, Sunflowers, Tagetes, Calendula and Nasturtium for the bees. I will also have A LOT of pumpkins and squash to cover as much of the non-covered soil to suppress weeds and to make some food for us which we will also try selling locally. The plan this year is to focus mostly on what we actually like to eat and that is lots of carrots, beetroots, cucumbers both for making pickles and the long variation, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions and kale. All the rest like lettuce, spinach, radishes and mizuna will be sown little a time so we have it as long in the season as possible.
Chilli seeds are already in the window seal :) 
Mizuna seeds already started sprouting in the same spot they were growing last year inside the greenhouse. They seem to be self-seeding easily. I placed windows on top of them to keep them warmer. We will have some fresh salad in April (same as last year) :) 
I have built a small greenhouse within the greenhouse (if that makes sense). I need lots of warm/protected space to start early sowing of many vegetables and I just cant do it in the house. I will place a low energy heat lamp inside of this mini-greenhouse to keep it a bit warmer and to defend the seedlings in case of frosty nights. Lets see how this will work ...
I have also sown radishes and spinach in the greenhouse with extra protection. Last year they grew very well from the February sowing. This winter is mild as the last one so Im  counting on seeing some growth soon. The worst that can happen is they will not come up,  BUT :) if they do we will enjoy fresh salad end of April :)) so why not try! I dont hear people in Denmark sowing early inside their greenhouse, probably because most people are conservative and follow what most have done (or not done) before them. I was always a pioneer in all aspects which is sometimes great and sometimes not so great. It sure doesnt make you popular among conservative folks ;) They call people like  me "know-it-all", "hippy tree hugger", etc ... Well, well I will smile at them when I eat my first salad in April ;) 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Preparing the farm for incoming season

We had another mild winter. Last year was the same, only January was cold. Its time to prune the apple trees use the cut off branches as wood chips for our garden.
 I have begun to weed the raised beds. I used only well composted horse manure but was surprised last year with how many weeds started to grow in it. As soon I finish one bed the chicks sweep through it collecting all the exposed weed seeds. Thanks for the help ladies :)
Once the weeds are out I will cover these beds with aged wood chips which will help to suppress the weeds and will help to contain the moisture in hot weather.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Farm animals

 It is a good idea to place some sort of flat structure where the chicks sleep and collect clean chicken manure. Its simple to scoop it and use it in the garden. I place into a bucket and add lots of water. Then I mix it well and spread it all over the kitchen garden
I read about people complaining how much their hens eat in the winter yet they dont give any eggs. I let mine roam free and find them often on the neighbors pile of horse manure, sifting through it with diligence :) I feed them only a bit extra in the morning and evening.
 Last summer I didnt have time to move all the straw bales from our field into the stable before the rain fell. Once wet I couldnt do much with them but to leave them where they are. This happened to be part of the new sheep field and Im glad now that I left them there. During rainy periods our clay soil gets very muddy and sheep dont like walking in mud all day. In this image you can clearly see the sheep resting on top of the straw bales. I see them often standing there, keeping their claws away from the mud which can otherwise cause claw infections. I will make sure from now on they always have some high ground to retreat to during muddy weather. You can also see in this photo that I have build a small corral connected to the shed. This really helps me a lot when catching he sheep for claw and wool clipping. Less stress for them and less stress for me :) 
 We simply LOVE our Muskovy Ducks :) They roam free around the farm and are always following after us. They have such great personality and I cant imagine life on a farm without them.

Living a DIY Life

The life on The Willow Farm is going on even though I'm not blogging lately about it :) Its a good life, simple life, a Do It Yourself (DIY) life. We were renovating one room in the old part of the house which is to be a guest room. We also wanted some new night tables and since we have pallet wood it was most natural to use it. So this is the design we have found on the net. We are very happy with it.
 They will be varnished slightly to darken them just a bit.

 Guest room is finished and is very cosy :) 
I have also built a new shelf for the pots in the kitchen to replace the metal Ikea one which you see on the wall. It has to be painted in white before it gets mounted on the wall.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Enjoying the White Winter

In winter there is still something to be done on a farm. We are renovating our guest room now and Im building a few new bee hives for the next year. Feeding the animals and cleaning snow is another task. But most importantly I try to find time to enjoy this idyllic season covered in snow :)