Thread Theory

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Spring at the Farm

It’s time for a seasonal update about life at our homestead. This spring has been an unusual one, to say the least, but since it is only just our second Spring on the property (we moved here March 2019) life hasn’t been that abnormal for us as it has been for most…we have very little with which to compare this confinement at home! Matt is out of work right now as one would expect so we are trying to make the most of his extra time by ticking off as many projects as possible.

The vegetable garden and irrigation system have been our main focus. This last winter the garden was only a patch of layered cardboard, leaves, compost and straw. The chickens enjoyed many months of scratching though the debris for bugs until we were ready to plant.

I am attempting to use the No Dig method (by Charles Dowding) which I have used successfully on past gardens. This year though, we did not have a thick enough layer of quality compost to recreate past year’s flourishing spring gardens. The garden area was a market vegetable plot about 7 years ago but since then had been converted to pasture for small livestock. The soil is deep and dark but infested with wireworms which ate basically every seed I put in the soil and most of my early spring starts. Once the soil warmed up the wireworms moved deeper so my main season veggies seem to be chugging along nicely. According to some colleagues at the farm where I volunteer, the wireworm problem should become less over time since they thrive on grasses. I’ve hedged my bets and put cut up potato pieces in the garden as traps (I take out the pieces every few days and feed the wireworms to our chickens) and I’ve also applied beneficial nematodes. Between volunteering at the farm down the street and battling with this new-to-me pest, I have learned a lot about growing vegetables this spring!

While I’ve been battling wireworms Matt has been puzzling through the design and installation of a rainwater collection system. It has been a big cost in time and money but is necessary on this property because our well is not equipped to irrigate more than a single household. The larger our garden area becomes the more pressure this will put on our well and pump so we need to supplement with rainwater. We now have a 3000g tank installed by the shop and gravity fed drip tape spread throughout the orchard, berry hedgerow and vegetable garden. We hit a bit of a snag when the timer that Matt purchased would not work with the low pressure system he designed but we’ve set the idea of an automatic system aside for this year at least and are now just happy that the gravity fed system works with the turn of a few nozzles! The last piece to the puzzle will be extending the irrigation from Matt’s shop gutters (new last week) to the tank using PVC. That will happen in the next week or two…just in time for the summer dry spell. I hope there will be enough rain to fill the tank but I don’t really expect that to be the case! We will probably have to truck in one fill of water at least.

Aside from these large projects, we’ve been enjoying lots of smaller homestead tasks. This Spring has really marked the beginning of a new era on this property. Since moving in we have mostly been removing things: Junk, smelly flooring, accumulated wood scraps, overgrown brambles, overgrown trees, decrepit buildings. Around May we began to notice that some of our projects were actually centered around adding something new to the property…and then as May came to a close they transitioned one step further to include some projects that aesthetically as well as functionally improved the property. How exciting! Here are a few photos of the smaller tasks that we’ve tackled:

My parents (and their tractor) helped us to build this play area for Noah over the winter. This spring Matt planted the back levelled portion with clover seed and has been babying it with watering and mowing. I don’t have a current picture of the lush clover but you’ll have to believe me when I say it is the perfect spot for a picnic table!

The gorgeous fernery/grotto next to our sun room just keeps getting prettier! We’ve added a wood chip path through it and cleared out a lot of the overgrown ground cover so that I could add to the diversity of the garden by adding a variety of new ground covers. My grandparents just gave me a tadpole pond form for my birthday. I’m really looking forward to installing it in the middle of this garden. I think Noah will be the perfect age to investigate the tadpoles as they turn into frogs next spring!

Much of my May gardening time was spent watering by hand since the irrigation wasn’t ready yet. It was such a hot May and a very rainy and cool June.

Matt built a Lil’ Chick Cottage (as we’ve named it) using the only remaining decrepit building on the farm – a very sturdily built dog house. Noah enjoyed ‘helping’.

My dad built me these beautiful herb planters for our back patio and my mom filled them with soil and herbs. I’m just thrilled with them! They make the steps quite a bit safer feeling and are very convenient to access from the kitchen.

I’ve begun to paint the inside of the house at long last – the kitchen is now done and is much brighter (it used to be dark green and this picture is after one coat of slightly cream coloured white). I’ll continue the big job room by room and will tackle the easiest ones first as they can mostly be done in evenings and nap times. For the main living areas we will need to bring in painting or childcare help I think!

Matt’s dad built us a really handy TV bench to contain some of Noah’s toys. These sorts of projects really make our home feel ours…just ignore that dark burgundy wall (complete with many, many scratches and outright holes) for now, I can just picture how nice and fresh it will look white!

Lastly, we have some adorable Spring chicks in residence. We bought six chicks in hopes that most would be female since the vast majority of the chicks we raised last year turned out to be roosters. It turns out, we have three roosters this time. So in total, we will have a flock of five laying hens after purchasing fourteen chicks in two years. I don’t think those are especially good results but we are happy to have met and supported local farmers by purchasing chicks through them rather than buying sexed chicks from a farm and feed at least.

To close, a small tidbit of Thread Theory news: We just completed a photo shoot and our latest pattern is with testers right now! If all goes well I plan to launch it in August since it would make a nice Fall sewing project. If there are some more involved changes due to feedback we will, of course, adjust the timeline. Fingers crossed!