Fall Mushroom Hunting in Photos

We have been mushroom hunting several times this fall. Its really great to get out into our local parks and forests regularly. Not only is it great exercise, but the photography aspect is fun and sometimes we even get dinner too!

Enjoy these photos of some mushrooms we found recently in the Catoctin Mountains.

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Photos from the Homestead July

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Winter Planning Continues!

Well, deep winter is upon us.

That means more Winter Planning! The weather has been so volatile, up, down, snow, rain, warm, bone chilling cold and single digit temps to 0 degrees!

So what’s a heavy duty gardener to do??

Buy some Trees!

Brittany and I got our heads together for what we want on the homestead here, and that can be very dangerous.  We put together a list of trees and bushes we want on the property.   Without further ado, here it is:

North Star Dwarf Cherry, Carmen Jewel Dwarf Cherry, Nanking Cherry Bush, Hanson Bush Cherry, American Persimmon, FuYu Jiro Persimmon, 2 Hardy Pecan, 2 Hazelnut, Hannomaki Red Gooseberry, Pixwell Gooseberry, Standard Honeysweet Pear, Crisp and Sweet Pear, Goji Berry, American Elderberry, Sunrise Honeyberry. Early Blue Honeyberry, Red Lake Currant, Consort Black Currant.

We will be busy planting in March when these plants ship to us! Now we have to decide where all these will go. Thats the next step in our winter planning.  We have some very, very wet areas and certain plants do better with “wet feet” than others.

We also will be installing an invisible dog fence, digging two ponds on the higher end of the property. Then cutting berms and swales through out all the higher property to channel and retain water. And boy do we have a LOT of water all over.

In April we have even more plant/tree material coming in, including over 60 willow trees for fencing and basketry.

Check in on our post of the video of the 13 berry plants we planted last week along our hill outback and with the help of our friend AJ.  A bonus blooper, the wheel barrow going down the hill on its own half full of soil that was comical, but unfortunately not caught on film. Cliff had to run chasing after it!

On a sad note

We lost our beautiful blue-eyed Zephyr cat recently. He was 14 and like our Quartz cat in Nov, had some sort of tumor and his chest filled with fluid.  Zephyr fought vigilantly, but was unable to breath any longer.  He will be so missed and would have loved to garden with us.

In Memoriam.

 

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Youtube Channel for Highland Hedgehog Farm!

We are up and running!

We have created a youtube channel and have a couple videos up and running now! Make sure to check it out as we grow our land and our online presence, Like and Subscribe!

Here is a link to our most recent video for you to check out!

Hope you enjoy!

Brittany

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January is for Planning

January can seem really dreary.

Lets face it, its cold and grey out during January most anywhere in the USA. We have been focusing a lot on getting new garden beds laid for spring planting, soil fertility and earth works such as swales. But those require a day where its not raining, and preferably not bitter cold. So what do you do when you can’t get outside? Plan!

Planning what?

Well thats a good question. We have been spending our evenings planning out the spring and summer garden. Using a software can be really helpful (We like Growveg), but paper and pen work just as well if you prefer. While we are planning we pour over seed catalogs and make lists of varietals we would like to grow, putting them into our software as we go. When we are done planning we will make an order for seeds we don’t have in stock.

GrowVeg is really helpful for me because I can tell it how much space I want in a certain vegetable. The software will then tell me how many plants I need for various planting methods, such as row, square foot. etc. This can be great when you are seeding out transplants, which also starts happening this time of year.

So far we have planted 3 trays worth of early spring plants, including arugula, kale, spinach and others. The plan is to put these into the ground come February and continue to plant out through the spring. This will allow us to have weekly harvests during the early gardening months.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we plant out the extra early veggies we will do so under devices called cold frames. These help protect tender young seedlings and let us get a couple extra weeks of growth in spring and fall. A future post will show how we build these.

What does your winter planning look like for the garden? Let us know in the comments below!

Brittany

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Chickens have arrived!

The Ladies are here!

We went early this morning and picked up our 6 new chickens. The farmer we work with (Deer Run Farm) had all the girls ready for us when we arrived. We decided to purchase pullets this time around so they will be laying for us by April hopefully. Allison from Deer Run Farm picked out two beautiful Welsummer, two Copper Maran and two Ameraucana chickens. The Ameraucana ladies are two different colors, one lavender splash, one blue.

We got the ladies installed in what we hope to be coop knox. Their personalities started shining right away! One girl is very adventurous and was exploring immediately, while the others hung back.

They weren’t quite sure about what to do as night fell this evening, so we had to help them out and show them where to sleep. The girls gave us minimal fuss getting into the coop, and we were able to close them in for the night. We wanted to make sure they were safe not only from predators but also the cold tonight. The lows this week range from 5-33 degrees fahrenheit, so its going to be chilly. Hopefully the 6 ladies will be able to keep each other warm.

We did put down a thick layer of pine shavings on the bottom of the coop for extra insulation, and I think I may add more for the coldest nights.

How do you keep your chickens warm on cold nights? Let us know in the comments!

Brittany

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Winter Tasks: Building Garden Beds

How do we build Garden Beds?

Since our property is brand new to us, we are able to start from the beginning and bring you along for that journey. We decided we wanted to follow a permaculture and back to eden method blend for our first garden beds. Because our property is former agriculture land, we have fairly stripped and depleted soils and lots of rocks. The first order of business is getting biomass, LOTS of it. So far we have had 3 dump truck deliveries of wood chips, several loads of hay and straw as well as 2 pickups full of composted cow manure delivered. We also pick up coffee grounds from the local Starbucks daily.

What do we put into a bed?

First we start with a layer of cardboard or construction paper. Next goes on a thick layer of wood chips, 3-4 inches deep. After that we put on a thick layer of hay and or straw mixed with coffee grounds, then the cow manure and another layer of wood chips. This layering lets everything meld over winter and even just a month or so after doing this we have much higher numbers of earth worms doing their thing and the ground beneath the pile is soft. The beds do shrink as everything decomposes over the winter, so we are adding more layers as we have time. Here is a video of early on in the building process. 

Vegetable scraps

We compost mulched leaves, kitchen scraps etc in several compost bins and will be using that when we transplant starts in the spring. Compost is basically gold in a garden setting, and we want to make sure each plant gets some of it to use as it currently is our most limited resource.

How do you build garden beds? Comment below!

Brittany

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Chickens are coming!

EXCITING NEWS!

We get our first chickens within the week!

Welsummer Cock and Hen

We went to Tractor Supply and got organic feed, oyster shell, scratch, pine bedding, a water bucket with nipples on the bottom, and two metal trash cans to store the food, and a few other things not related to chickens.

Yesterday afternoon we put together the chicken coop we got at Tractor Supply. The weather was sunny, but it was 28 degrees, standing on our rock patio? Bone chilling. The coop says it is for 8 chickens, we are getting six. I feel it is too small for several chickens but it will be temporary for now. We are all for free range for our ladies because I want happy girls on our farm. However, I am concerned about the pair of large red tail hawks that are nesting here in our woods.

We plan on a very large chicken yard and a large chicken house that handles up to 40 chickens. Every time I talk with Brittany she has a larger number? How many chickens do we want to get? Hmmm, 15? Next time? So, How many are we going to have? Maybe 40? And then,  How many is too many? You can never have too many? So, how many should we get? 140?

The plan for the yard is to plant a couple mulberry trees and amaranth around it, because the chickens will love it and we might even get some for us! There are 2 black walnut trees inside the area as well.

So what are we getting?

We are starting with six Heritage chickens that are 10 weeks old (not real babies.) We wanted older chicks because we wouldn’t have to deal with heat lamps and them being inside the house. Been there, done that in Texas. Besides, I think my 3 cats would be ever so interested in tiny chicks! At 10 weeks these ladies are almost ready to start laying, versus baby chicks who would need a lot of care. These chickens have been out with the flock on the farm we are purchasing from. Our friend we are getting these girls from has about 1,000 chickens (And 90 Red Angus). These six ladies are coming from the group of new chickens she is keeping to replace her older breeding stock.

Heritage chickens are traditional chickens that were raised by our forefathers. They are breeds that were raised of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice. Breeds established prior to the mid 20th century, that are slow growing, and naturally able to mate with a productive outdoor life.

The breeds we are getting this week will be 2 Copper/Black Marans, 2 Welsummers and 2 Ameraucanas. We will be adding Lavendar Orphingtons at some point as well, because Brittany had those in Texas and they are a sweet heavy breed that likes to go broody and raise more babies.

Breed info and pictures.

“Welsummers are a friendly breed from day old. Birds are pretty brown; photos you see of them do not do them justice. Hens are friendly and attentive and come running for treats. Eggs are shiny sprecly brown. Rumor has it this is the rooster used for the Kellogg’s logo.” says Deer Run Farm, where we are purchasing our chickens.

“Ameraucana was developed in the US. They have muffs and a beard and are very sweet and hardy. These birds have “blue” legs and lay shades of blue eggs.”

Ameraucana Hen

“Copper or Black Marans originated in France. Black Copper Marans lay the darkest brown eggs. They are friendly with feathered feet. Maran will do well as free range birds, not scratching up the soil too much.”

Black Copper Maran Cock and Hen

We will share more pictures when our new ladies arrive!

Liz

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Welcome to Highland Hedgehog Farms!

Hello and Welcome!

We hope you enjoy our web page and journey into permaculture learning. Keep your eyes peeled for more content in the near future. Use the side bar to check out our Facebook page as well!

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