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Today started sunny and at mid day, it is in the mid 60s.  A great day in the mountains.  We started out early to vote, hoping we will get someone in office who will help fight the Fracking Pipelines and came home for Mountaingdad to get in one of what he knows to be last rides on the BBH before it gets garaged for the winter.  It was a good day to work on more of garden close down and to get the garlic planted.

The bed that had contained the peppers and tomatillos hasn’t been used before for garlic, so it was raked to remove the fallen, rotting tomatillos and the stray pepper or two that didn’t get thrown to the chickens or brought into the house.  The bed was weeded with my awesome garden tool, smoothed and furrows dragged through the surface.  The bed was planted with 74 cloves of garlic.  I don’t know if I waited too long last summer to harvest, didn’t wait long enough curing time, but we have a lot of cloves that desiccated in their skins, as much as half a head.  If this year’s crop isn’t better, I will start over with new seed garlic next year instead of using cloves from what was harvested.

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planted and mulched

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covered to keep the chickens from digging it up again

While out there and after a couple more nights of freezing temperatures, I found more winter squash.  Most of these will go to the chickens, but there were several Burgess Buttercup and they are so delicious they will be kept. One was pared and cubed last night, roasted with Italian sausage, red onion,a green Ancho pepper, some whole garlic cloves and a few pieces of broccoli.  A meal in a pan and it was great.

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Several small pumpkins were tossed to the chooks.  After finding Broody girl #2 on the nest again yesterday, but not having the heart to dip her hindparts in cold water, I just isolated her in the meat chicken pen for the day and left her there until dark. Once it was dark, I moved her back in the coop on a perch.  She nested herself once today but stayed outside after I removed her from the two eggs she had parked on.  Another one of the girls is molting.  The run and coop look “feathered” and the egg production is down to a maximum of 6 a day out of 12 hens.  Hopefully things will settle back into production soon.

Today I decided to start making my own whole grain chicken feed instead of buying the very unappetizing pellets.  I am finding that the chooks aren’t eating all of the pellets I put out for them and it is such a waste.  They never waste the 5 grain scratch which is a good start on home mixed food.  Add some flaxseed, sesame seed, oats, kamut, lentils, kelp and brewer’s yeast and you have a mix that is high enough protein for the layers, they like it, and it doesn’t turn to mush if it gets damp.  They don’t eat quite as much at a time either.  Since they get free range time for most of each day, they are also getting fresh grass, bugs and totally decimating some of my perennial herbs.  I had to put a low fence around one bed that they have decided is a good place to dig, dustbath, and just lay around in.

Another surprise in the garden was secondary broccoli.  The primary broccoli heads were harvested a few weeks ago but I left the plants in place.  With the freezes, they were relatively cabbage worm free and enough was harvested for a meal or two.

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As a bonus, the chooks got the remaining plants tossed in their pen for their entertainment and whatever nourishment they can get from the leaves and the few cabbage worms lurking there.

The day has clouded over, though we aren’t supposed to get rain until Thursday.  It was a good day to be outdoors for a while.

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