As a family we have moved more than our fair share (9 times in 13 years). When we got here we knew we had found ‘the place’. With that in mind we promptly bought a house with several acres and bit off more than we could handle. That’s how our Round Tuit phrase came about. It seemed that there was always something else to get done around a busy life. We thought with the kids in college and out on their own that we would have more time for the farm. Just shows that naiveté has no age limit.
Since my husband is a Wildlife Biologist we make all our farming decisions with the local wildlife in mind. We love to garden but the slugs and bugs can make it a bit of a challenge. Using the ducks to tackle the slugs and snails and the chickens to vacuum up the bugs we have the perfect integrated pest management program.
We have a large variety of chickens. Every time I think we are going be more homogenous in our flock I find another ‘must-have’ breed. It all works out in the end because the eggs are such a range of colors with and without spots that a carton of eggs from our place is just fun to look at. I try to replace a number of birds every year so that we always have new layers coming along. If I give away the birds when they are young there’s still plenty of eggs for the next person.
We got out of ducks for awhile and the resurgence of slugs in the veggie garden showed us the error of our ways. We have had several types of ducks in the past but now have Muscovy and Khaki Campbell ducks. We like duck meat and the Muscovy drakes are a really good size. They get butchered in the summer when we do the chickens. The hens are great moms but after raising several clutches a year there aren’t any eggs left over for us. I now keep some Khaki Campbell hens to supply the eggs for baking. Our ducks usually lay longer than the chickens so they are the eggs for the holiday season around here. Our number of Khaki Campbell ducks has dwindled a bit so this year we will be getting a few more ducklings and hoping for hens in the group.
We got into raising hogs with the kids for 4H. Over the years we have purchased a variety of breeds. After a lot of research we determined that we wanted more of a heritage (historic) breed that was known for taste and not speed of finishing. We decided on the Berkshire hogs. They’ve been difficult to find and last year the farm we had been buying from got out of the business. We were fortunate to find another breeder around the corner from us. They are only half Berkshires but the other half is Duroc and Hampshire, also heritage breeds so were thrilled to be able to purchase so close to home. We buy the pigs as weiners (8 wks) and raise them to about 300 lbs. We keep one for our table and sell the others. We sell by halfs or wholes. It’s a bit of work but well worth the effort. We have a waiting list every year so call us early to reserve your hog.
My honey harvest last year was the best so far. I was able to take 120lbs of honey (combined). This still left me with enough to leave each hive with ample stores. I was fortunate enough to be able to put several hives out at Case Farm and one at a friend’s house about half way between here and there. At this time it looks like the only hives to have survived the winter are the ones at my house. They survived last year too so I’m going to just make splits off these hives and move them back to Case Farm. I love the way they keep their farm and am anxious to get some honey from this wonderful spot on Whidbey Island.
Our veggie garden is still a work in progress. Last year we had a grandbaby coming and except for a few tomato plants and a bed of garlic the garden was abandoned. With the beautiful weather we’ve had we are slowly cutting the jungle back and reclaiming our beds. My ambitious plans for the summer are to put down weed cloth in the paths and replace the oldest wooden beds with brick. I’d love to get it all done this year but I’ll settle for the paths and several beds at this point. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do this year.
The seed catalogs are rolling in and we are getting excited to see what we will do this year.