Welcome to our new home
Round Tuit farms is just over three acres on Whidbey Island, located in Puget Sound. The farm began as a dream in self sufficiency. We haven’t come close to that goal and find that our farm evolves in ways we never expected. We still have a huge garden that feeds us in summer and stocks quite a bit in winter but have cut that back to spend more time and effort on the bees and honey.
The vegetable garden produces peas, carrots, onions, green beans, asparagus, potatoes, squash, spinach, lettuce and radishes at various times during the spring, summer and fall. All in different quantities and times. We started the original garden with a 40’X 16′ weed infested area. Our gardens now have raised beds and have expanded to include a 36′ hoop house for those hard to get tomatoes, peppers, melons and herbs here in the Pacific North West.
Cold frames are the latest addition to the plant family here at Round Tuit Farms. The hoop house is quite large and a bit of a chore to weed. We thought we’d try cold frames on the south side of the metal garage for some of the hot weather plants. We found that the smaller hot weather plants and herbs did well here as well as extending our growing season for some plants.
Our flower beds are just over 70′ and always seem to be out growing their spaces. After adding on several other flower beds around the house we began to sell the hardy plants that were leaving the confines of the beds. I’ve got to stop expanding those things!
We raise a variety of chickens for eggs. Although penned up at night for their safety, these birds have free run of the yard during the day. Being able to eat weed seeds, grass and bugs creates eggs that are nutritionally better for you. You can really see the difference when you crack open the eggs and see the orange yolks. I was slowly turning the flock into buckeyes but found that I wasn’t able to stay focused that long so we still have a number of other breeds to give us a great color pallet for our eggs.
Our ducks spend a bit more time roaming than the chickens in the summer. (Ducks lay earlier in the day and I don’t have to hunt for their eggs all over the yard when they are let out early.) They too eat bugs and weeds but most importantly to those of us in the Pacific North West, they love slugs. We added a pair of Muscovy ducks to the group and they did very well. We like duck meat and the drakes are about 8lbs when dressed out. The hens are great mothers and they are a quiet breed. This experiment turned out quite well. Although we did discover we didn’t like cleaning water fowl and that we certainly did not have enough recipes for all that duck. Also, the hens are so broody that we only get eggs for a short period of time. I need more duck eggs so have added Khaki Campbell hens to the mix.
We raise and breed Narragansett turkeys. These birds have just come back from near extinction. Although a slow grower, even the white meat is tender. They are quite happy to be housed with the chickens and they roam the yard as well. Last year we had fewer number of poults than usual and lost some hens to predators. They just refuse to be housed in the hen house while setting. Last year I experimented with putting the chicken tractor over the hard setting hen in the yard. Except for the brief panic when we first put the tractor over the top of her they settled in quite well. We didn’t lose a single hen to predation that we protected in this manner. This also boosted the number of living poults the hens raised. We will be expanding this program this year. We will be culling the flock this year to a more manageable number to reduce the wear and tear on the pen and over crowding.
Our Berkshire hogs are chosen for their dark meat and tenderness. We start them on a concrete slab and quickly move them to a large area to root around. (Which they quickly turn to mud.) We buy local feed without any added hormones or medication. We are looking around this year to see where we will be getting our weiners. A friend of mine has found a more local breeder of Bershires. We are going to be giving those pigs a chance this year.
For our meat birds this year we are getting the Freedom Ranger Birds again. They take a bit longer to mature but are a sturdier breed. We grow them out with the laying hens and butcher after 9 0r 10 weeks. These birds have less health issues and stronger joints. They are able to wander the yard with the other birds even after they get bigger. We had some heat stroke issues last year (We were more surprised than anyone!) so we will be providing more shade and seeing what other adjustments need to be made. All around they are a better bird for our small farm.
Over ten years ago we added several bee hives to the premises. Depending on the year it has been as many as ten hives and as low as one. This year we are holding steady at five. Of course it’s still early in the season and you just never know with these guys. We are members of the Skagit Valley Bee Keepers Club and participated in their local queen rearing project a few summers back. This project was done in partnership with Sue Colby a leading expert in the apiary field. We are very excited to see where this all leads. After ten plus years we are still learning and welcome anyone who has questions or just wants to take a look.
With only these few hives we sell out of our honey in just a few weeks at the local markets. To make sure that we always have honey to offer we have teamed up with several local beekeepers as well as a few from across the state. Our selection is large and varies with the season, weather, and if the bees feel like working. Take a look at the Honey Harvesters on this site to see who harvested your honey and what varieties they offer.
We are always trying something new so please give us a call to see what’s growing this year.