I had a pretty good asparagus crop. Strawberries were okay; I need to plant more to replace the ones damaged by the fence installation. The problem is, the fence cuts out most of the sunlight, so the plants grow a lot of leaves (searching for sun), but not a lot of berries. I think I'll replant this summer (I have the plants but haven't planted them yet) and see what the crop looks like next year.
I have already harvested cherries from my dwarf cherry tree; the other tree is not quite ready. I don't use any spray on the cherries, and this year, about 1 in 10 cherries had a worm in it which ruins the cherry. So as I was pitting about 4 pounds of cherries from that tree, I'd squeeze out the pit and open the cherry to see if it was okay. The worms make the inside of the cherry black and nasty. Every time I opened a bad one, I'd have to wash the nasty off my hands. It took a long time to pit the cherries and freeze them! I'm hoping the other cherry tree won't be as bad. Last year, I didn't have a worm problem at all.
Yesterday, I picked the currant bush. After processing the seeds and stems out, I was left with two quarts of juice, so I'll make that into currant jelly today or tomorrow, or freeze the juice for later. Here's the bowl of currants before I sorted through them and took out the leaves.
Once I did that, I heated up the berries, then put them through a food mill to get rid of the seeds and stems. Currant seeds are too big and hard to eat. When I make raspberry jam, I leave the seeds in, but process them out to make raspberry jelly.
My big project yesterday was making turkey bratwurst. My brother, Cliff, raised broad-breasted (BB) turkeys two years ago, and they got REALLY BIG but were pretty tasteless. Last summer, I convinced him to try some heritage turkeys, Bourbon Reds. I bought the birds and feed, and he and Rosa raised them, for a 8 to 4 split (I got 8, he got 4). He thought I was crazy, because compared to the turkeys he raised the summer before, the Bourbon Reds grew at a snail's pace and only got about a third as big as the BB turkeys. But after he tasted one, he said he'd never eat any other kind of turkey, and this summer we're splitting 22 Bourbon Reds. We started out with 24, but two died in the first couple days, which is not uncommon. Cliff and Rosa really didn't want to do turkeys again, because they had ordered 30 free-range, heritage chickens for meat. So I said I'd raise the poults (baby turkeys) and help build a new turkey coop. Little did I know how much trouble it would be to raise the poults!!
I thought I just had to get a box and feed and water them. I didn't know that they had to be kept at an exact temperature for the first six weeks, very warm (95-100 degrees F the first week) and then gradually reducing the temperature week by week. My plan was to keep them in the garage, which is really just a metal shed. Due to a misunderstanding between Cliff and I, I had no box to keep them in. I thought he was going to give me a box, but he just gave me heat lamps and feeders/waterers, and this was the night before I was going to pick them up. So I went online looking for a large plastic bin and found a suitable one at Home Depot. I had a board meeting that evening, and was going to go to Home Depot afterwards. But my friend Allan said he had exactly what I was looking for, and I went to his house after the meeting and got the exact bin I was going to buy. So here's the poults at day two, when they were just a week old:
What I didn't know about poults is they about double in size (it seems) every few days. Within four days, I needed a new brooder box. It was Memorial Day weekend, and I couldn't get ahold of Steve Berg, from Little Bend Heritage Turkeys in Chatfield, MN, to get a picture of his brooder box and dimensions, so I had to wing it. I researched how big a box I would need for poults up to 8 weeks, and decided to build one 8 feet by 3 feet. Handy with tools, but really having no idea what I was doing, I built this:
The handles at the bottom make it easy to carry. I put three frames of hardware cloth on hinges on the top. Problem was, this was way too big to keep at 95 degrees. Also, I shouldn't have put the doors on top, because I didn't want to put the box on the floor, I had it on a table. The garage itself wasn't working, because it would get cold at night, like 60 degrees, and then when the sun hit the room in the morning, it would spike up to 90 degrees. I came home from church a few days after I had built it, and the temp in the box was 125 degrees. Way too hot! The poults liked the box, though, and were tearing around it trying to fly.
The big box and garage were not working. By this time, I had gotten ahold of Steve Berg, and he said the box was too big, I'd have too much trouble controlling the temp. He sent me a photo of his brooder boxes, and the dimensions, 2' by 4'. So I built a whole new box, 2' by 6'. I added the extra 2' because he had a separate addition for food and water at the end of his. Here are his:
Here's my new brooder box. The front has two large hinged doors.
Yes, this is inside, not in the garage. I couldn't control the temp in the garage. Here are the poults a week before I took them out to Cliff's. They are big.