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 yet, but find that we have a lot of extras. At first we shared with the neighbors but still had left overs. Now we sell our abundance at the local farmers market along with honey from all over Washington state.
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. Our tomatoes and peppers made up the winning salsa in a local competition a few years back.
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 are also planning on putting in a few in the hoop house for a year round gardening experiment. Last year's basil was a booming success.
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. I am slowly turning the flock into buckeyes and a small number of other breeds to give us a great color pallet for our eggs.
Our ducks are raised in a separate pen and spend a bit more time roaming than the chickens. (Ducks lay early 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. Already, this year, the Muscovy's have hatched out a clutch. The K.C. ducks have been laying well. Two of the five birds turned out to be drakes and one female has disappeared. Not as positive an outcome as I had hoped but better than nothing.
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 a record number of poults but had lost a large number of hens to predators. They just refuse to be housed in the hen house while setting. Even with all that loss we have too many turkeys. This year they have already begun to set. We will be culling the flock in July to a manageable number to reduce the wear and tear on the pen and over crowding.
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. All around they are a better bird for our small farm.
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. This year we will be raising three hogs. They are half Berkshire hogs, 1/4 Duroc and 1/4 Hampshire. These are still heritage breeds so we were happy. Our usual supply for pigs has dried up but this has worked out to be even better since our new supplier is literally around the corner. He added a boar with different genetics to reduce the amount of fat on his hogs. I am hoping enough of the Berkshire comes through so that we (and our customers) will still love the great taste.
Several years ago we added several bee hives to the premises. Depending on the year it has been as many as seven hives and as low as one. This year we are holding steady at two. 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 participating in their local queen rearing project this summer. This project is being done in partnership with Sue Colby a leading expert in the apiary field. We are very excited to see where this all leads. After seven years we are still learning and welcome anyone who has questions or just wants to take a look. We sell honey and sometimes have bees wax candles available.
We are always trying something new so please give us a call to see what's growing this year.