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Preparing for Winter on the Farm

Winter is a beautiful and busy time on the farm. Here's what's going on at Sugar Water Manor this time of the year!



The Gardens

It is just November and the Fall gardens are in full swing. There are so many greens and root vegetables to enjoy right now. But Winter is fast approaching so we need to prepare: protect what we have growing, cover our Spring crops and prepare our Winter gardens. Then seeding will also continue for the Spring and Summer gardens. There is never a dull moment here.


Let’s start with the Fall gardens. We will be preparing our Fall Gardens that are still going strong to either harvest it all and preserve and use or add a tunnel to some if they are crops we can keep growing. We will be doing both.


We have 2 raised beds that we will do a full harvest the day before the first projected frost. We also have 2 revised beds we will add tunnels to. These include a lot of our greens and some root vegetables. These are raised beds we did not use last Fall or Winter so we will push them a little further this year.


We have one raised bed we seeded for the Fall that failed. Why you asked? Guinea Fowl! We seeded the bed and walked out the next day to 6 happy Guinea Fowl having a seeded raised bed dust bath party. YUP! Not one seed made it.

Our Winter gardens will look a little different this year. With two on the Fall beds going strong we will not tunnel and plant the two raised beds we had planned, we will simply add the plants to the fall beds we will tunnel. We will tunnel one of the herb raised beds to have fresh herbs all winter.


Over the next two to three weeks we will also be cleaning out the cold frames and adding soil and compost if needed and prepare them to plant. The cold frames will grown greens to stir fry, for salads and for the chickens and ducks. For greens we use fast growing greens and eat them young. More of the cut and come again varieties.


This Fall has been additionally busy for planting as we took advantage of the local 50% off sales on plants and bought a lot of landscaping plants for the entire property. These included a lot for our edible gardens including more figs, grapes, tea trees, hibiscus and more. We are working non stop to get everything in the ground before we have a freeze.


The Winter coming also means a lot of protecting of our perennial crops. The asparagus, garlic, strawberries, onions and more need to be covered. We use straw and mulch depending on where they are located. Protecting the plants plans a very important role in their getting a head start for the spring.

In addition I couldn’t go a Winter prep without planting bulbs, so we have about 1000 more bulbs to plant…oops!

Animals


One great thing about living here and not having dogs in the city anymore is no more paw boots. Living in the city we had to put boots on the dogs to walk once the snow came for both protection from the freezing rain and snow, but also the chemicals used on streets and sidewalks that are so dangerous for dogs. These chemicals are both harmful for their paws and poisonous.


So Winter prep is pretty simple here. As with our day to day we set ourselves up for success and ease. We find being prepared allows us to spend less time dealing with bigger cleanups and issues.


The ducks

Nothing really is prepared for them - their stalls are perfect for winter. The only thing we will do is add a little hay or straw when temperatures dip below freezing and the wind picks up. Their inside water does not freeze and we simply use a hoe each morning to break any ice off the top of their pools if needed.




The Chickens

Like the ducks their coop is perfect year around. It has great ventilation and the location is such they are protected from big winds by the barn and goat barn. By this time of year the deep litter method is built back up and they are generating a nice warm space for themselves. Everything remains the same for them except we add a second water container in their coop for cold cold days.

The Goats


With 4 different breeds and different ages we have to meet their individual needs.

The Boers are just fine, they like the cooler weather as long as it is dry. We did a final fall cleaning of their barn and now we will let the hay build for the winter just removing the wet and dirty spots if needed.



The Barn crew has different needs. The Pygmy Goats, Magnolia and the twins, Jack and Willow, will stay in their stall a little more on cold cold days as the twins do not have a winter coat yet and they are still little. But do not tell Jack and Willow they are little - they think they are as big as Ottis and Chester. They are the only ones stalled each night and like Annabelle and Penelope we will add more bedding for them during freezing cold spells.


The rest of the barn crew is all good, we just save sweeping for once a week so they can bed down on hay mess they make and we just clean the dirty spots daily. We have already started to close the back windows on windy and cooler days to keep the barn a little warmer. If we have extreme temperatures the boys, Ottis, Chester, Willie and Oscar will all stall together in deep bedding in stall one. We always have a plan!


The Puppies

Well now over two years old, Bo and Zoe, this is their weather. They want nothing more than cold temperatures. The funny thing is you can also see the boys curled up next to them outside some cold nights. But if it is rainy or snowy the puppies stay out and those goats are in the barn. They are a funny crew. The only thing that does change for the puppies is that they will finally want two meals a day again. Starting mid November to mid April they eat two meals a day but in the summer until it cools down again they only like to eat dinner.



And those crazy Guinea Fowl!

The old crew has already moved back into the chicken coop for the cooler nights but the new little crew has yet to move in. Crazy guineas!




And as for us - well Winter is spectacular here. We bundle up and still spend most of our time outside.


The Bald Eagles are just starting the mating season. Migratory birds are returning, many fields are low and leaves have fallen so there are entire new landscapes to explore. The fire pit is still going strong and blankets are available to take with you to enjoy.



The only challenge for us here on the farm is the shorter days. But we just put on our beanies with the headlamps and move on.



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