Budding Trees

This one goes out to Nahko and Medicine for the People for their beautiful song “Budding Trees“. What a beautiful season of new beginnings. The grass is growing, the hoof clan is grazing, and we are happy.

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Tulip out grazing with her twin ram lambs

Over the past couple of weeks we have had to fix machinery a number of times. First the ATV, then the backhoe, then the ATV, then the backhoe again… That is what you get with old equipment, but the parts have been cheap (about $10/ fix) so we are thankful it hasn’t been anything severe so far. We found a spring on the other side of the property today which was a great find! We don’t have to haul water from the creek to the greenhouse to water seedlings anymore. The water is only maybe fifty feet away now! It is definitely seasonal, but it is a blessing nonetheless.

In the greenhouse the kale, lettuce, and spinach have sprouted. We purchased some raspberry varieties and a couple of lilac bushes to plant here come May. For now, they are in the greenhouse. We have been transplanting douglas fir saplings in various places on the property from other areas on the property where there are many spaced closely together. It is important just to transplant trees that are overcrowded to allow them space to grow in all directions, but not leave any area without trees. Our goal is to re-forest the entire property. We have now moved twelve saplings and have A LOT more to go! We plan to also spread the ponderosa pine, tamarack, quaking aspens, and birch trees found on the property. Today during our trail maintenance day we took a garden hoe and shovel and cut flat footpaths into the hill. The goal is to create trails all around the property. Well, the wildlife created them, we are just improving them for our own comfort. During our time down in the canyon we identified some plants!

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We are learning the medicinal qualities of the plants found growing on the farm. Quaking aspen are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, astringent and diuretic. The bark contains a substance that can be extracted and used to treat fever-related illnesses like malaria and tuberculosis. Douglas fir resin can be used as an antiseptic to treat cuts, burns, wounds, and chewed to treat sore throats. Young shoot tips can be added to cooked meals for flavor, made into tea rich in vitamin C or placed in the tips of shoes to keep feet from perspiring and prevent athletes foot! There is more… you can make a mouthwash by soaking the shoots in cold water. Amazing!!! Ponderosa pine is used as an antiseptic for skin ailments as well as for respiratory issues. You can also crush the seeds into flour to make bread.

Scouringrush horsetail and ballhead waterleaf are found in the canyon near the creek where springs emerge from the earth to join cottonwood creek. Scouringrush horsetail can be used as a sandpaper or polishing material. It is a homeopathic diuretic that can be boiled and drank to treat venereal disease. You can cook and eat the ballhead waterleaf greens and roots. Hollyleaved Barberry roots can be used to make yellow dye. The berries can be used to make purple dye, wine or jelly and is used to treat indigestion. Sagebrush buttercups and small bluebells cover the grassy hills along with these tiny flower clusters we have yet to identify. There are wild strawberries we found while transplanting the saplings so we put those in the greenhouse to disperse around the property in the near future. In addition to the native plants, we are mixing our own food forest seed mix of cover crops, perennials, fruit and nut trees. Some of the seeds include pinto beans, mustard, buckwheat, fennel, dill, peanuts, amaranth, black beans, peas, radishes, marigolds, sorghum, carrots, potatoes, and a wildflower mix. Also, we will be planting grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, currants, cherry, pear, and apple trees. The main nut trees will be black walnut, chestnut, pine nut and hazelnut. We are researching seeds to grow specifically for making chicken, rabbit, sheep, goat and dog feed. More on that to come. We are exciting to get to work!

Since there are SO many things we want to do and only so much time in a season we decided to hold off on our large earthship for the time being and instead build a “practice” earthship. The one we are building will be 200 sq. ft., totally off-grid, and located on the hill just east of where we want our future home to be. It will likely end up being the first aquaponics greenhouse on the property, but I’m sure it will see many uses. It seems wiser for us to learn all the principles of building an earthship through this small scale project before we dive into a multi-year building project. We want our home to be perfect, just the way we envision it, and that will take time, practice, and patience to accomplish. We learned as we built the tiny house that everything takes longer than you think it will and building a house is exhausting no matter how TINY it is! We will still share all that we learn as we embark on the tiny earthship build (aka “ET”). So far the hole is dug and three tires have been leveled and pounded with dirt. Hopefully, this project will be completed over the course of this summer and give us a much better idea of how the bigger build will go. This also frees up more time for us to work on developing the garden and food forest. What do you wish you had time to do? As Nahko would say… Wake your dreams into realities. ❤

P.S. Please show love for your Mother Earth tomorrow and everyday there after. She cares for you deeply and would appreciate some respect.

#EarthDayisEveryDay!

Solar Rays and Water Sprays

Hello friends! I hope this message finds you well. Things are moving along here on the farm. Grant finished the greenhouse today! It is 8′ x 12′ and 8′ high in the center. We used a roll of plastic tarp for now, but eventually would prefer glass windows. For now this will do so we can start growing vegetables! We used wood poles we have collected since moving here as the main corner posts. Unfortunately, we didn’t have anything long enough to do the center posts so we purchased 10′ round fence posts, 3- 12′ 2×4’s and about 10- 8′ 2×4’s, along with 7 sheets of 4×8 plywood. In total it cost us about $150 for everything.

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As you can see Grant got creative making hinges and the lock for the door. Nails!? Who thinks of that!  It is located in an area that receives full sun and facing due south. You can tell in the pictures the snow melted first in the location of the greenhouse. We positioned the green house to the north of our future garden/ orchard and south of our future earthship. It is also in a location that will be close to a water source in the future. Since the location is central to our future home and garden it will be easy to transport seedlings outside to where they will be planted. This space will include a small aquaponics system likely next spring.

So what will we grow?

This year, with the earthship build starting, we decided we would keep it simple. We will grow about eight vegetables in simple hugelkultur mounds. The plants we have chosen are lettuce, spinach, carrots, squash, green beans, onion, potatoes, and tomatoes. Seeds will be planted in the next couple of weeks in our tiny house with the exception of the carrots which we will plant straight into the ground in May. Up in our extra loft there is a skylight which doubles as a wonderful growing space for plants because it stays nice and warm and gets great sun exposure. Once we pass our last frost date near the end of May we will transplant them outside.

What else is going on here at Green Journey Farm?

We got hung up starting the Earthship build. We discovered our first step is the required septic system. So, Grant will be researching the requirements for that and begin digging test holes. Once we get the septic plan approved we can get our building permit. In the meantime we are making trips to the nearby tire shop to continue our tire collection. We still need to make about 15 trips probably! We only go currently when we need other things from town so we may have to make a few special trips which I was hoping to avoid. We got held up with the snow since driving up our road with a 2wd truck is not the easiest thing to do.

We are becoming a registered business! I have been working on our business plan, researching business license requirements, budgeting, and forecasting for our five year plan! So exciting! When the earthship build begins we will be inviting volunteers to camp out for a weekend each month for earthship workshops. Food and water will be provided to volunteers. In future years, we plan to start weekend workshops for children and adults to take part in educational classes. Some example lessons would be permaculture, off-grid systems, primitive survival, basic building practices, and wool craft. We hope to see you when the time comes! Reach out if you are interested in attending!

Three East Friesian dairy lambs are joining Green Journey Farm! I’m off today on a seven hour journey to the west coast to pick up the adorable new lambs! Our two ram lambs and Ramazoid are going up for sale since they can’t be bred again in our herd. Unfortunately, in a herd our size only one ram is necessary. The only way we would be able to keep them is by keeping them separated in a way that they would only be able to breed unrelated ewes. There would just be more management involved, more feeders, more work. So the route we will take this year is to switch out our rams that are related to any ewes we have so we do not have to worry about inbred sheep.

We have 25 Cornish Cross chickens and 5 Welsh Harlequin ducks joining the farm April 26th! The Cornish Cross is one of the most common meat birds you can get. They are a test project to see if it is a sustainable way for us to feed our dogs and cats. Obviously chicken isn’t the only thing they would need to eat, but we are testing if “meat birds” will be a consistent source of meat for making home made dog and cat food. My concern is that their quality of life is lower because they were bred to grow really fast and usually end up with health problems. I’ve also heard if you don’t let them free feed they can forage just like other laying chickens, but we will find out for ourselves soon enough. The Welsh Harlequins are a dual purpose duck that averages about four eggs a week and weigh approx. 4.5 to 5.5 lbs. I have been wanting ducks for awhile, but now that we have a water source I am “allowed” to get them. They don’t need to have a lot of water, but they enjoy it so we wanted to make sure we could provide that to them. Once we move to the other side of the property, our ducks will likely choose to live down by the creek so they can splash and play all day. We also have plans of building at least two ponds on the property so the ducks will have a happy life here I’m sure.

The spring is operational! We have accessible, clean spring water on our property! He located the spring site by observing the signs of nature. This spot is the “crack” or draw as we call it between two hill tops so we knew snow and rain would be funneled through this area. There are aspens growing happily in this area so that was another sign there was water in the area. On top of that, back in high school, Grant worked on a spring development crew so he had a summer’s worth of knowledge to back it up. In October last year Grant started work digging. He hit water, but the next day he came back and it had been soaked into the ground. The hole he dug was about five feet deep and a few feet wide around. Then, he dug a trench slowly working his way downhill to let gravity do the work of transferring the water. He laid a 1″ to 1/2″ black vinyl tubing from the original hole and ran it downhill through the trench about 125′. That is where we put our stock tank that you see in the picture below.

20180401_124342-1356236698.jpgFrom there, we added a valve and attachment so we could hook up another 125′ hose to get us to the roadside for easy water refills. This spring all we had to do was install a 55 gallon barrel with a bunch of holes drilled in the side (not at the bottom) for water to filter in through, lay tarp down under the barrel to stop water for soaking down into the ground below the barrel and hopefully directs more water into the barrel. Then we surrounded the barrel with rocks of all sizes and buried the hole back in. Long term plans include building a pond further up the draw at the edge of our property for water retention and then digging swales running across the hill to distribute water to more area for more plants to grow. We also don’t know how long this spring will last. It may be seasonal, but we will have to wait and see! Right now there is a visible stream on the surface of the ground which is definitely not there by fall, but we are happy to know there is water available for our livestock and permaculture needs. Where our earthship is going to be, on the west side of our property across the creek and canyon, we will dig a second spring and retention pond. The next one will likely be year-round as it has a much larger backdrop of mountain to collect water from. For now at least our 10 acre pasture has water and we don’t have to leave our property for tiny house water refills! We just have to drive our 65 gallon transfer tank up to the edge of the draw, put the hose in the tank, and wait about 20 minutes for it to fill. We are so grateful for this water source.

Time for me to go pick up some lambs! Until next time, enjoy your blessed journey.