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We’re still super busy around the farm. Anne has been photographing quite a few weddings lately. Which has left me to fill my time with odd jobs around the house. Sewing custom sand bags and light stand bags, lots of cooking, pickling peppers, and of course more gardening.

Preserving vegetables has become pretty important. It will allow us to become more sustainable by extending our harvests. At the last post, I had managed to make Kimchi. It was really tasty. This time I experimented with  pickling peppers. It’s very simple with vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns, carrots, garlic and peppers. One jar will be pushed to the back of the fridge to test the canning process. The other won’t last very long since we like our foods spicy.

Spicy pickled peppers with carrots and garlic.

More aquaponic growing is going to happen in the greenhouse. These trays will be filled with gravel once the siphons are installed. They’ll be used to grow lettuce, greens and herbs. We’ve found that fruiting vegetables grow much better in the ground as we can control the nutrients that the plants get. Higher nitrogen and lower phosphorous and potassium in the aquaponics grows great, green veggies.

new aquaponics for lettuce

We’ve found a variety of watermelons that are hardy enough for the area. Our gardens get full, blazing sun in the afternoons and it has roasted other varieties.

Watermelons!!

With all of Anne’s wedding photography going on this summer, she needed some new gear. Sand bags usually come in plain back and sell for around $25 each. Getting out the old Elna SU, I managed to make 4 custom sandbags and 2 custom light stand bags for a total $60. Now Anne has some cool, custom gear and we saved a bunch of money. My Etsy store is coming soon.

Sandbags and lightstands

While the kiddo was out of town, I pulled out the old RC truck for repairs. Managed to get the engine running and tuned only to find the differentials are trashed. Trying to drive and steer with one wheel locked up was no fun. Parts have been ordered. While waiting, the entire truck will be cleaned and oiled. Then it’s up for sale. Yeah, selling the truck to get a helicopter… too bad I can’t do that with my real truck.

My truck exploded.

The greenhouse walls are ready to go. Roof trusses are nearly all assembled. They will be painted before installing. Once those are up, the polycarbonate panels are going in place. The floor was built with a insulated, reflective surface under the decomposed granite. There is about 70′ of coiled pex tubing in the floor for a radiant heating system. Once the roof is installed, the collector coil will be mounted to get the most sun.

It’s really green… “Bell Pepper Green”

Here’s a small video of our chickens with the re-framed, new-to-us nesting boxes. 3 hens have pretty much stopped laying so we’re looking for new homes for them. In January we plan to add another 10 hens to our flock.

The aquaponics are still doing well too. Had a small problem in one of the beds with aphids attacking the arugula. We pulled all of it for chicken food and restarted seeds. The basil and beans have been growing fine without any pest issues. We just got in a new high power water pump and it’s going to allow us to add a few more beds with more bio-filtration area.

Lettuces, Basil, Beans and Baby Arugula

Things are really taking off this Spring. The strawberries we are growing taste absolutely amazing. Juicier, sweeter and more tender than any store-bought berry ever. This season we have about 45 berry plants growing, I can already tell next year we’ll need room for double that.

The peach trees are doing equally as well. In about 2 weeks, we’ll need to trim back the peaches so only 1 per 6-8 inches are left. We don’t want the young tree to be stressed or crack under the weight.

The drip irrigation we had installed by my now employer, Lupton Irrigation has been perfect for irrigating our strawberry patch. It lets us keep the crowns and fruits dry while getting plenty of water to the roots. This prevents any rotting of our berries!

Wipe that drool off your chin. 🙂

We’re still rocking on the Funny Farm! The blog was put on hold for a while. It was becoming a chore to keep the pictures updated. We’ll continue to post pictures just not for a daily timelapse video.

Our growing space has doubled in the backyard and we’ve expanded into the front yard as well. A greenhouse is in the works and will hopefully be ready by May. We found a few designs we liked, but had to modify and design our own to get things just right.

In a few days, we’ll have some pictures to post of everything we already have growing. Be on the lookout for strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and tons of other stuff. There’s also a new aquaponic system operating in the garage. Running on goldfish, we’re growing arugula, beets and lettuce in the grow beds. Expect to see some videos of that soon.

If you’re visiting the the Funny Farm’s website at RoundRockFunnyFarm.blogspot.com you’ll notice a bold, new look. Some colors were adjusted, content added and a new layout was built for the farm blog. A few more changes are in order, but things should be looking good enough now for the world to see.

There has been a lot changing on the farm as well. The pumpkins have been growing like crazy in the cooler, sunny weather. More cherry tomatoes are growing and being harvested everyday. Bees have been extremely active in the mid-day keeping everything pollinated. We sure appreciate their help!

The next posting will have pictures of the new chicken pen. It’s nearing completion with only 1 section of fence left to finish. They’ll be happier in their new 8×12 pen. It will have a small coop, a hanging feeder and a new float watering system. All of these changes should make things a lot easier for us.

The mixed up patch.
A growing pumpkin!
Strawberries still growing.
Bees snacking on a pumpkin flower.
The artichoke sprouts.
Cherry tomatoes!

It’s been really tough keeping up with the farm blog pictures -priorities have been adjusted in the Funny Farm household. The 1st grade and kung-fu lessons have thrown us all for a loop. All that, along with trying to maintain the farm and chickens with all the cooler, wet weather, we’ve been getting has definitely taught us to juggle better.

We’ve taken our first, very small harvest of corn that will be enjoyed at dinner this evening. The tomatoes are fruiting very well and if we can get some warm weather again, they should ripen quickly. Our first canning experiment has gone very well and we look forward to canning a lot of our own tomatoes and beans soon.

Hopefully, the chickens will be moving into their new pen in a week or two. We’ll be cutting close with the much cooler weather. They’ll need a nice, warm spot to rest and keep laying eggs for the winter.

Daily Farm Pic – September 28th, 2009
Honeydew Melon
More melons and butternut squash.
The new chicken pen.

Nearly caught up with the farm blog posting again. Things have been hectic with redesigning our schedules around the 1st grade.

The weather has been nice and cool for the last week and a half. We’re actually getting a lot of rain but now we need some more sun to go with it.

Once the weather clears, I’ll finish building the chicken pen. The progress has been a slow-go with weather issues and the farm truck needed new brakes.

The Honeydews, Butternut squash, corn and peas are all doing really well. It was a hot, difficult summer but most of our tomatoes fared well and are still producing.

Unfortunately, we’ll be giving up one of our chickens. Cheese, the chicken has been a bit unruly and picking on the other chickens. Instead of having the farm’s first execution, we’ll be looking for a neighbor or friend who would like to have a solo yard bird.

Daily Farm Pic 09.21.09
Butternut Squash flowers.
More little Honeydew melons.