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Eating my lunch.

I think Ilene put it best:  The farmer’s market has been eating my lunch.  It’s been fun.  It’s been educational.  And I’m so glad I’m doing it.  But, dang,…  Busy, busy, busy.

To do a quickie catch up on the garden:

We strung up fencing for additional tomato rows.  I’ll have to do a count but I think we’re talking a total of around 300 tomato plants in the main garden.  I just have about 50 more to put in the ground tomorrow and I can forget about tomatoes for a while.

The sugar snap peas are doing well, after a bit of sulking during the heat.  I came very close to pulling them during their pouty period so that some pole beans could take their place.  Remembering Josie’s pea drama last year, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Good thing because they’re now producing pretty well and I have some happy, pea-breathed kids.

I got the TPS (true potato seedlings) in the ground, taking the place of the frost-bitten potato pulls from earlier this year.  The frost-bitten onions are being replaced by a row of basil seedlings and a three double rows of bush beans.  With pole beans late to go in and needing bigger flushes for market, I bought a few pounds each of Contender and Top Crop bush green beans and got them planted tonight.  I’ll plant another couple of rows each week for a steady supply.  Pickling cucumbers went in this afternoon, as did a couple of rows of okra.  I’m not a big okra fan but I planted a row of green and a row of burgandy for my market customers.  Not being in the south, I don’t know how well they’ll be received so we’ll just have to wait and find out.  My broccoli and cabbages are a flop this year.  Either I put them in too late or summer weather arrived a bit to early — or both.  I’m still leaving them out there to grow for the moment since I can harvest the leaves here and there for slaw.

The front sidewalk is almost cleared out now.  I have the peppers still to plant, along with a few miscellaneous things.  Those giant piles of tomatoes, though?  Gone!  I think I have 20 tomato plants left.  All of the others have either been sold or given to friends & neighbors.  Makes me feel good to not have so many left over this year!

Hatching season, for us, is finally nearing the end.  There are a few dozen chicken eggs hatching out right now.  Most of those will go to friends of ours and the others will either be sold or go to replacing aging hens.  (We also have a couple of broody hens so there will be no shortage of chicks this summer.)  One incubator has eight or ten duck eggs, saved from our own ducks, and three more goose eggs to go.  If I’m remembering right, the incubators should be all cleared out by mid-June.  Whew.  We might have gone a little nuts on the incubating this year…

Farmer’s Market!  It really has been fun!  Mostly because the other vendors are so nice, as are the customers.  I’ve sold a ton of plants — man, those were a pain in the butt to haul back & forth.  Still, it was great getting others to try new varieties & colors of tomatoes.  I can’t wait to see them come back excited about growing even more next year.  I’ve also been selling fresh & dried herbs and some lettuce mixes.  The lettuce is about petered out for the spring so I’ll be pulling it out to be replaced with some hot-weather greens.  My big seller right now?  Breads.  I’ve been making French breads, Italian breads, and sourdoughs.  The sourdoughs will, I think, become my hottest item.  I love, love, love sourdough and I think that comes through.  I’m also making a few oddball sweet bakery items to round things out.  Last week was lemon bread and this week will be cinnamon pumpkin bread and chocolate cake with honeycream frosting.  Later on, I plan on adding some sourdough cakes & other sweets.

So, yeah, I’ve been a bit absent on here but we’re all doing well — and working hard.  Once I get a better rhythm down for this baking schedule, I hope to be more efficient & have more time to, well, sleep.  And maybe blog a bit.  ;-)

Caught another swarm & the end of potting up.

Over the weekend, one of Steve’s coworkers let him know that a swarm had landed in his front yard.  Would we like it?  Yes, please!  Steve was working so I loaded up a couple of kids and headed north of Quincy.  It was in a three foot tree in the front yard.  A couple of good shakes of the branch and they all fell nicely into a swarm box.  Got ‘em duct taped up, taken home, and hived up with some old comb to make them feel more at home.  Easy peasy.

A week or two ago, we got a call from Cara about doing a cut out.  A contractor working on an old house found bees living somewhere in the third story and contacted her to find an interested beekeeper.  I got there and the fella pointed out where they had been going in & out, way up high in the eaves of this gorgeous, historic three-story home.  I didn’t see any activity outside but he assured me that it had been up until that morning.  Not knowing bees, he thought that maybe bees just weren’t active in the mornings.  Once inside the third story, there were no bees to be found.  The walls were brick so they couldn’t be in there.  The ceilings were lathe & plaster, much of it fallen away so that I could see inside.  No bees.  I knocked all over the ceiling, trying to get a rise out of them in case they were hiding out of sight.  Nope, no bees.  We did find a pile of dead bees on a window sill in an adjoining room, away from the entrance/exit area but that was it.  That pile was only a couple of cups’ worth of bees so it wasn’t as if the entire colony had died.  We figure they must have heard that I was coming and moved away to escape the horror of my cooties.

In other news, the Great Potting Up Event has finally ended!  Whew! The pic below shows the sidewalk before I had even started the peppers, ground cherries, and wonderberries.  (The big, green clump on the left is the patch of sunchokes and the big, green clumps on the right are lemon balm and mints.)

Now, after potting up 551 tomatoes, 273 peppers, 42 ground cherries, and 54 wonderberries, plus the TPS and other miscellaneous seedlings already there, the sidewalk is full.  Good thing I didn’t bother potting up my own several hundred seedlings.  Those suckers are getting/have been planted out directly from their smaller 6-cell packs.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get out there and plant the TPS and the rest of the tomatoes.  I’m not sure if I’ll put the peppers, wonderberries, and ground cherries out yet.  I’ll have to see what my gut tells me when I’m out playing in the dirt today.  Have a good day, everyone!

Countdown to the farmer’s market…

The opening day of the new Hannibal Farmer’s Market is this Saturday.  Yikes.  I am so not ready.  These past couple of weeks have seen my spending hours on the phone with various state & local offices, getting paperwork, permits, & fees in order, and trying to come up with some general (sane) plan for it all.

A few days ago, I planted out 170 tomato seedlings into TomatoHenge.  I still have about 100 left to find spots for — and support.  I might end up having to do some fence trellising with them for this year.  The onions I planted earlier this year were bitten back by frost pretty hard and many of them did not survive.  I’ve bought a few replacements that I’ll get planted out this week.  Same for the potato pulls that were hit by frost.  I have a few dozen TPS with which to replace them this week.  I’m thinking I’ll get some dent corn planted this week as well and maybe some early plantings of bush beans.  I bought a few pounds so that I can succession crop them over the summer.

I’ll be spending the rest of today potting up the rest of the seedlings to sell.  And watching ducklings hatch!  We have six already hatched with several more eggs left to go.  Of course, they won’t all hatch out but we’ll hope for a good percentage.  Six goose eggs are keeping them company and due to hatch out in the next couple of days as well, along with a few chickens. Shortly after that, there are more goose eggs and a dozen White Silkies to hatch.  And did I mention I’m saving back duck eggs now to incubate?  Yeah, because I need more to do.

(For my notes, I set about five dozen chicken eggs to incubate on the… 9th?  10th?  Thirty of these will be for the Cooks to raise for a laying flock and we’ll keep the leftovers to sell or add to our flock.)

(Are you getting the sense of scatterbrained-ness in this post?  Yep.  I’m there.  Consider this one of my thinking-out-loud posts.)

The salad greens and herbs are doing very well so I’ll have plenty of those to sell at market on Saturday.  I’ll also have all of those seedlings for sale, along with some sourdough.  I fed the starter this morning and will begin baking tomorrow. (Cody’s grinding wheat as quickly as he can for me while I’m out tending to plants.  I don’t know what I’d do without him!)  Steve’s going to be working some miracles for me in the next few days to get canopy weights & tables made for me.  This is truly a family effort!  Then again, most things we do are.

By the way, the Hannibal Farmer’s Market does not yet have a website up and running but they do have a Facebook page.  Check them out here:  Hannibal Famer’s Market.  On that same note, I’ve been tinkering with the SpeedKin Facebook page.  I’ve had to go back to old blog pics since the garden isn’t terribly photogenic at present.  I’ll try to get some better pics with this in mind over the season.  In the meantime, check it out here:  SpeedKin on Facebook.  I’m open to suggestions.  :-)

The New Hannibal Farmers Market

When we first moved here, I asked around about the farmers market in Hannibal and got nothing but negative responses.  This year, a group of people got together and decided to take control.  The Hannibal Farmers Market is being reborn this year and I get to be a part of it!  How exciting!  Or at least it was exciting until I started trying to find my through all of the regulations at the various levels.  Sheesh. I think I’m finally getting a solid understanding of most of the requirements and I’ve typed it all out on my reference page here.  Maybe it’ll help some other poor schmuck out.

For the rest of you out there, stop by a see us!  We’ll be in the historic section of downtown Hannibal, Missouri every Saturday from May 19th through October 13th this year, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  We should have a pretty good mix of vendors selling a variety of items.  Once the gardens start coming in, I expect there will be lots and lots of fresh produce for you to choose from!

Personally, I’ll be selling breads (including sourdoughs), produce, sewn items and other crafts, soaps, seedlings for your gardens, and fresh eggs.  Later in the season, I hope to have beeswax and raw honey available (remind me to go give the bees a pep  talk!).  I’ll also take orders for live chicks to hatch out.  If you have any special requests you would like to see me carry, please let me know.

I’ll be working on getting a separate page set up for my farmers market customers.  You can see a link to it already along the top navigation bar.  I’ll try to get that done this week, along with reworking the Speedkin Facebook page and a newsletter.  I figure three different choices for customers/potential customers to be updated should be enough, right?  I assume that the Hannibal Farmers Market will be getting a website as well and I’ll link that once it’s up & running.

In other news, we had another turkey poult die overnight, one of the black ones.  That brings us down to 14 live chicks, I believe.  That’s still plenty enough to get us started on turkeys.

Yesterday, I got my main tomatoes planted out in TomatoHenge.  170 of ‘em.  I still have another 100 or so to plant out…. somewhere.  I’ll try to figure that out this weekend while I’m potting up the remaining seedlings for sale at the market.

Now off I go to don a beesuit and do a quickie inspection.  I’m betting (hoping?) at least a couple of the hives need a super added right about now.

Who’s coming for Thanksgiving this year?

Those two dozen turkey eggs we got from Gail a few weeks ago?

One dozen Bourbon Reds and one dozen suprises — a mix of BRs, Narrangasetts, Blue Slates, and one lone Black Spanish hen.

Out of two dozen eggs, sixteen hatched out.  One died overnight so we got fifteen live poults out of the hatch.  Not too shabby.

I think we got a nice mix out of them but only one Blue Slate.

The ones with the Black Spanish mom have a black ring around their eyes, giving them a freaky alien look.

But they all look like Thanksgiving dinner to me!

Josie begged for the camera so we get to see what the poults look like from her angle.

Another from the county’ss youngest photographer.

So who shall I put on the guest list for Thanksgiving this year?

I’ve finally got all my ducks in a row.

Charlie, Nellie, and I were waiting on an order in town the other day so, to help kill the time, we moseyed around the farm store.  We were oohing and ahhing over the baby poultry in tubs, as any self-respecting human would.  I mentioned to the nearby clerk that, boy, those ducklings sure were big!  How old are they?  They’d come in around Easter and hadn’t sold.  They were getting worried about them.  Normally $4.79 per duckling, they’d cut me a deal and sell them to me for $2 per duckling if I took them all home right then.  Deal!  As if we didn’t have enough baby bird-iness around here right now, right?

Way back at the end of March, the 31st to be exact, I set the first two goose eggs (from Bob, mighty Scout leader) to incubating.  On May 1st, one of them hatched out.  The other died in shell but no worries.  We have eight more incubating, due to hatch in a couple of different batches.  This live fella, though, is very, very full of life.  And noise.  We’ve named it Honker.

I don’t know what breed Honker is (I’ve never seen the geese at the park to know what the possibilities are) but he looks like Toulouse & Chinese gosling pics I’ve seen online.  I’m hoping Toulouse.  I also have no clue if Honker is a boy or a girl.  Maybe Honker should be called Pat?

What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

By the way, has anyone seen my dining room table?  I’ve been looking for it all over and just can’t seem to find it.

On a side note:  Remember I mentioned that the local newspaper had come out to take some photos and gather a bit of info?  The article came out this week.  You can read it here.

A big (bee) cutout.

I got a call last Tuesday from a family that had been putting up with bees living in their house for a year.  They were very tolerant of the bees (more than I would have been!) but they now had a new baby and wanted to be able to install a pool in the backyard without stings.  I went over and took some photos to show Steve.  I don’t mind getting swarms out in the open but cutting established colonies out of houses?  That’s definitely Steve territory.

These guys were somewhere between the original part of the house and an addition.

They were entering through a crack beside the gutter and a hole underneath it.

After feeling around for heat & buzzing from the inside, the guys determined that they were in the outside wall.

I loaned the fella my beesuit & gloves and he & Steve set to work from inside the house.  They figured it would be easier to get to from the inside — and better in general for repairing the holes since we’re having a rainy week.  There was a nice, big area of comb, several layers.  I think Steve said they covered an area maybe 2 1/2 feet high by 4 feet wide?

While they were working, the bees began bearding on the outside of the house, as well as flying around in the house.  Luckily, the room was easily closed off and there was a back door near to take the bees out when they finished.

I had a small swarm box from Paul but, figuring these guys would be rather large, I fixed up a Rubbermaid tote into a bee transport box earlier that day.  (I’ll take pics & show you how I made it in a few days.)  These bees and their comb filled up most of the tote!

We left them with a suit & gloves so they could Raid the bejeebers out of the stragglers that were left in their home.  They’ll seal up the outside so that no more move in and repair the inner wall, then drop the suit later in the week.

Having only one suit left, Steve took on the task of hiving these guys all by himself when we got home.  He worked until a bit after dark getting comb rubberbanded into frames.  There was a heck of a lot of comb!  They easily filled one deep and two mediums and could have done a fourth as well, I think.  The photo below does show four boxes but the top one is empty, merely acting as a funnel for Steve dumping the bees in on top of the everything else, along with some extra comb that was a sticky mess.  We’ll go out tomorrow, weather permitting, and pull off the empty and clean things up.

They’re in the tall one on the left, with the tipped tote in front of it.

I’m so glad Steve did this one.  He got stung several times and had bees crawling inside his suit and even inside his pants!  I would have been running around screaming like an idiot.  His thigh & ankles have covered in welts and one of his hands is swollen up like a softball today.  Luckily, the man who lives there didn’t get any stings during the cutout.

Thanks, Amy & family, for letting us do the cutout!  (And sorry to Amy’s husband for not getting your name. :-) )  Mr. Amy, you did a great job!!


Someone’s gonna be walking bowlegged for a couple of days.

Quack! Quack!

We picked up some birds from Hollie Thursday evening — (8) eight-week-old Buff Orpington chicks, (1) banty Frizzle rooster, (2) eight-week-old turkeys (one of which died this morning :-( ), and (8) ducks.  Ducks!!  I’m so excited about the ducks!  They’re various breeds, including Pekin, Khaki Campbell, and we think Rouen?  It doesn’t matter to me which breeds right now as I’m a complete duck novice.  I’m just thrilled with the mix of them.  They’re of varying ages from two months to a year old. (Don’t forget that we also have a couple dozen duck eggs in the incubator right now that will be added to their family soon.)  One of the Khaki Campbells is already laying one beautiful blue egg each morning.

I took way too many ducks photos yesterday.  I wish we’d gotten ducks long, long ago.  They’re so easy to herd!  And fun to watch!  Duck TV is even more interesting to watch than chicken TV.

This is Pinball, the banty Frizzle rooster.  He’s a good-fer-nuthin’ fella but he’s got personality!  Once release, he walked right up to our head rooster-in-charge and picked a fight.

Of course, you know who won that, right?

The others all mixed & got along well with everyone.

Pinball finally decided he’d try to blend in among the ducks for the remainder of the day.

The ducks were so well behaved.

They got all excited when they figure out we had tubs of water out for them.

We put one concrete mixing tub inside the pen and one just outside the gate.

The fella on the left is the oldest, a year old, if I remember right.  The gal in the middle is the one laying eggs right now and the guy to the right is her boyfriend.  Or brother.  It’s a fine line when you’re a duck.

Oh, and I visited Gail, the Crazy Turkey Lady, on Saturday so she could teach me a bit about turkeys.  She has the most gorgeous turkeys ever!  And do you know what that nutty woman did?  She gave me — gave me! — a dozen White Silkie hatching eggs.  *faint*  I’ve wanted White Silkies for a while and she just gave them to me.  Cuz she’s amazing like that.

I have cooties.

I did an inspection on the bees Saturday.  Remember that swarm that Paul gave me?  It was gone.  *sigh*  I think I must have bee cooties because these bees just do not like me.

The other hives are doing well, however.  I added a third box to the swarm I caught a couple weeks back.  Fred and Hans Huberman look like they will need a second box in the next week or two so I’ll keep a close eye on them.  Phyllis, the terribly small hive, looks like it might be a bit larger now.  They’re building comb and seem to be doing well considering.  I can’t get enough of the natural comb in the foundationless frames!!  It’s so fascinating to watch and gorgeous!  I did note one issue in… Hans Huberman, I believe?  (I jotted down notes when I came in but I don’t have them handy right now.)  There were a couple of queen cells, both near the middle of the frames.  One cut open neatly around the bottom and the second, a few frames over, was still intact.  I didn’t look at every single frame so there might have been more for all I know.

Random pics from the inspection to follow…

Photos courtesy of a certain nine-year-old boy who does strange things with the camera when I’m not looking.  And who has cilantro stuck in his teeth.

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