Country Living Expo & Cattlemen’s Winterschool

Washington State University - World Class Face to FaceHere is a plug for an upcoming event in Stanwood, WA that should be well worth attending. WSU’s Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is an amazing array of 135 classes on all sorts of topics,a jam-packed day of learning, plus a prime rib lunch. The hardest part is choosing which classes to attend! 😛

Here is a sampling of some of the topics:

Fruit Tree Maintenance, Hands on Hay judging, Frisbee Dog Training, Growing Giant Pumpkins and Vegetables, Building Your Own Greenhouse, Native Plants for Wetland Restoration, Arc Welding- Hands on, Soap Making, Cheese Making, Growing Vegetables Year Around, Wild Game Dressing in the Field, Raising and Processing Pastured Poultry, Palatability Control Points for Direct Marketed beef, pork and lamb, Plethora of Pasture and Forage Classes, Chain Saw Maintenance, Beginning through Advanced Specialty Canning, Frisbee Dog Training, Marketing Small Businesses, Cider Making, Honey Bees, Raising Beef, Sheep, Swine, Goats, Spinning, Weaving, equine classes and more.

How can you resist? Get yourself over to the Skagit County Extension website and register asap, as I understand the classes fill fast.

Garden Round-Up


Our garden produce is winding down for the year. We got an amazing amount of stuff, considering how little effort we put in. We have a whole basket full of potatoes in the pantry, which we are rapidly eating down. I love to make mashed potatoes with either a sweet potato or yam mixed in- a tip I learned from a past neighbor of mine, Barb, who felt that sneaking those in improved the healthiness of regular mashed spuds, while still pleasing her kids! 🙂 It improves the flavor, too, I think!

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Livestock Advisor WSU Tour

RadioactiveHorse For the last couple of months, I’ve been taking the Livestock Advisor course that’s sponsored by Washington State University. The concept of the course is to get a broad overview of training about all types of agricultural livestock; and then to give back to the community by sharing this information in a variety of volunteer opportunities. I’m enjoying the courses, though they are a bit more basic than I’d hoped. But, you always pick up something from a class, and I’ve learned a few new things.

Last week, we traveled to WSU to do a whirlwind tour of all of their agricultural facilities.

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How Does Your Garden Grow?


Our garden beds are looking pretty good. We have pole peas that are already about three feet tall, and blooming. Carrots, beans, lettuce, green onions, cilantro, and Brussels sprouts are all coming in well. I just got in from weeding and fertilizing everything this morning. We also have potatoes planted on the sandy hillside, looking nice; along with strawberries and tomatoes. Continue reading “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

Garden Beds

gardenbeds1We’ve been working on our new garden beds for the last several months. Kirk built these three raised beds using barn wood- these are floor joists from the second story. Though the boards have some damage, they are so thick, they should still last another 100 years!

We considered having topsoil brought in, but ended up using what we have here. Kirk scooped up soil outside of the barn, which was mostly made of old barn waste (manure + whatever else was in there  years ago).  Later I mixed in sand, which we also have in streaks throughout our property. Lastly, I added most of the layers of straw bedding from the ducks’ A-frame shelter, which had been composting since last fall.

I rototilled all this in. A lot of rocks ended up coming with the barn waste soil, as I think that manure was on top of what was originally a rock driveway; and in some places, we dug a bit too deep when scooping it up. So, we hand-picked as many rocks as we could. It looks pretty good, I think it will perform well.

We’ve planted peas, beans, artichokes, carrots, parsley, cilantro, brussel sprouts , green onions and lettuce. Many things are sprouting already. We plan to add some potatoes too. Kirk has also been making some terrace gardens on the hillside, and those contain tomatoes and strawberries.

We also plan on putting in a corn patch on top of the pen where the sheep stayed during flooding and lambing. We need to rototill that first! We’re keeping an eye on our neighbors, the Stockers, to see when they plant their corn. Ed Stocker, aka the “Corn King,” takes the temperature of the soil before choosing when to plant. He says that if you plant before it’s warm enough, the corn seeds just rot in the ground. They haven’t even plowed their corn field yet, so they must think it’s a ways off before it’ll be warm enough!