Mary Beth Alexander

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since Oct 13, 2017
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fungi pig solar
My son bought this "farm" in June 2017. His father is there with him, and soon I will be moving up from FL. This is their old "stomping grounds", and I did live there in the early '70's.
This property has not been "farmed" for at least 10 years, though it was a small beef operation for many years - has about 60 acres of unkempt pasture, some woods, and a small year-round stream that flows into the Black River.
The land is level, but gradually sloping to the North.
He is busy re-habbing the house - some costly surprises there, of course. Has the solar batteries on-line and working, but the panel array was stalled by too much rain to install the concrete posts - same with floor for pole barn. Much has been accomplished in October, and all concrete should be completed by Halloween.
I am an accomplished gardener - there is a very large old plot - but he didn't have time to amend it in any way, and I've never gardened in zone 4!
He has begun to pull small trees from the pasture, but we also plan to rotational-graze pigs next year to do a lot of pasture-improvement for us. We are not planning on a beef or dairy operation, except for personal use.
Very interested in top-bar bee hives; market-gardening; mushrooms for sale; dual-purpose chickens - selling meat, not eggs; pigs and turkeys for sale; brewing - he's experienced - and hops cultivation for sale; hoop-house/greenhouse; fruit trees; grapes.
PERMACULTURE is our chosen way to go!
Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
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Recent posts by Mary Beth Alexander

THANKS ALL! Of course, the advice was exactly what I wanted to hear, lol, but I trust you "permies". Actually, my 3 hatched first of August - one roo and 2 hens - some sort of White Australian mutt I think - got "surprise" eggs in a table-top incubator from a neighbor, and he doesn't know breed.
Anyway, girls started laying right on the dot of Dec 1 and almost fully daily all thru the Winter! Roo seems nice - no pecking me, and seems to care for the girls. The hens are rather smallish, but he seems normal size.
I'm looking at 2 different groups of hens on CraigsList that are less than 1yr-old. One group is slightly younger and look like smaller size, but no breed mentioned ... other group has just started laying, but no pix and sound like "larger" but supposedly "calm and laid-back" ... "breed of leghorn and cross with sexlink. They are known as a Production Red that lays lots of eggs".
Busy with garden after long spell of cold and no rain till upcoming week ... got to pick up pace with coop!!
I guess I'll make contact and see if I can look them over and find out if they'll keep 'em a little longer. I read plenty re "symptoms", so I guess I will have sense enough to recognize illness.
Best of luck to all of us in 2021.
2 months ago
Forgot to mention that we have a large, female German Shepherd, who TOTALLY doesn't mind me and was fed raw chicken for many years! I cleaned out the brooder pen in the barn a few weeks ago, and one of them got loose. Hildi was NO help as I tried to let it settle to catch it. She catches mice and ground squirrels all the time - will pursue for HOURS. Getting extra sturdy electric fence for coop/run, but had no way to protect "quarantine" birds separately.
Thanks, Trace. I'm thinking about some relatively nearby - sounds like they've been well raised, but I will pass if I don't like their circumstance.
Anybody else like to weigh-in?  TYVM
2 months ago
Looked in archive, but only found posts mostly related to "socialization" of newbies. I'm worried about DISEASES! Googled it and am now panicked, since all say to separate by 30ft for at least 2-4 weeks.
Cannot figure out how to do that in my circumstance - just now working on old "shipping crate" to refit into coop. Have nothing else to house the 5 that I want. The 3 I now have are living in the brooder, which will be needed in few weeks for broilers, and I certainly don't want to introduce any disease into that + it's too small.
Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated .... I haven't tromped thru snow to the barn all Winter to now lose my 3 wonderful hatchlings!
Regards, Mary Beth
2 months ago
Sorry no pix, but you all have made me feel better!
I'm kinda waiting because it's been around freezing overnite for 2 weeks and until Tuesday. I've got to weed out joint-grass from this poor clay before planting in ground.
And, I'm going to plant many of them in my "grow-bags" with experimental tomatoes in cloches with black-painted water bottles!
I know I could probably plant the onions now, but they would be disturbed when I have to dig a BIG hole into the bag to bury these 2ft tomato "seedlings", LOL. Maybe 2 more weeks.
Thanks much, and best of luck to us all.
They were in my house in the closed, plastic shipping bag for about 1 week until I opened them Monday.
Seemed almost wet in there - certainly very damp. Almost ALL the root ends are blue moldy. Sorted out the some that were obviously spoiled/soft, and put into a new mesh bag on my potting table in the barn.
Really need another week to plant them out ... still below freezing every night till then. This is my 3rd year buying sets - never happened before.
Will they be viable??
I forgot to mention that I cover the "propagation" area with a piece of thin drop-cloth at night and then mist all uppermost parts of potatoes and/or sprouts each morning. It's VERY dry in my house.
3 months ago
My 3rd year starting SP - have never bought "slips". Doesn't work well to cut potato before putting in water, though I did get a few slips. Wasn't happy with "lay them on their side in potting soil", though I got a few. This year I put whole potatoes in water - "pointy-side down" - think you're a gardener .... good luck on choosing stem end from root end, LOL. Some were organic from grocery and some not, but they ALL know which way is up!
Much better slip production this year, though some were making leaves underwater, OOPS.
After some good growth and/or roots, I carefully cut out small sections for viable life and suspended them in water. Things are going well!
The main thing to know is that this process takes MONTHS. I've got huge, warm, South facing windows ... something to be playing with during Feb in Zone 3b-4. Somehow, I get aphids in the house, and these are the "canary in the coalmine". I was potting last week and sprayed with OMRI soap - all good for now after 1X.
My biggest problem in this zone is giving them enough days. I've only gotten long and twisty 1inch roots because I put them out rather late and have had major grasshopper pressure.
This year, I will put them out earlier in black grow-bags with cloches, black-painted water bottles, and tight row covering.
Wishing all of us a great 2021 season .... I will post update on my SP.
3 months ago
My neighbor here in Zone 3b-4, offered me cuttings from 20ft trees that were fruiting last year and every year. Really wanted them but had no plan. Now that I know where I'll be putting my chicken coop/runs, I'm wondering if I can just "stick" them in opportune spots.
I can start them in pots of sand and then transplant if that's best. TYVM
3 months ago
Last year Spring freeze was June 13, and Fall was Sept 9! Supposedly, those are actually within the normal range of 10% occurrence. Hard to figure on our place because no weather station nearby has the same elevation, and I believe we have a micro-climate. Garden is South-facing, full-sun, no trees for windbreak.
Anyway, I'd appreciate input on my plan to fool Mother Nature! I've got an unconscionable wealth of ice-tea jugs because my cancer patient won't drink my homemade tea ... trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

Plan to use tea jugs for cloches to plant SOME nightshades early with black-painted, water-filled 2-liters and 1/2gal milk jugs around each cloche.
I've got staples to secure them and could also tie cloche to milk jug to be safe against our crazy winds. Wind is why I can't use row-covers, and no money yet for hoop house.
I'd also like to use this idea for some really early greens, etc, AND, hopefully for a few cucurbits to get a head start, though slightly later than the nightshades.

What does the "hive-mind" think? I'm wondering how early I could try ... 2 weeks, 3, more? I'm not going to risk everything, but I want to have a little farm-stand this year and get growing early.

Thanks, everyone - be well and have a GREAT season!