November 5, 2015

It’s been entirey too long…Part 1- HOGS

It’s been one heck of a year (or more) since I’ve posted. Baby Zane graced us with his presence in early February but even before that things were busy!

We spent the summer and fall of 2014 fixing up a home we purchased right down the road and winter preparing for the birth of Zane and all that a new baby brings. It had been, after all, nine and a half years since we had had a new baby!

Since this update post could get very long (and I do intend to bring it current), I’ll update in sections.

Hogs: Since last August we’ve taken off quite a few load of hogs for processing, put up fencing for a new few acre pasture for the pastured pigs with 3 strand high tensile electric, 3 new piglet litters, and now the latest litter is in the garden rooting up what’s left of the plants and helping us put the garden to sleep. We learned a valuable lesson about hog moving and loading. We were told once that the fastest way to move a hog is slowly. Quite true! We do occasionally move our hogs from pasture to pasture, the easiest way to do that is with treats.They follow just like dogs, at least ours do.

A short story: A month or so ago things seemed normal until I got a call from my neighbor saying he thought we had some pigs out on the road.  I thought surely he was mistaken but sure enough, Grandma Sow had not only let herself out of her pasture to visit the boar on the feeder’s pasture, but she opened up their gate (which is an 8 foot hog panel welded on 4 sides to metal tubing (NOT LIGHT WEIGHT!). Two feeders and Grandma Sow decided then to take a walkabout out of the barnyard (Grandma Sow has now opened 3 gates), to the front yard and down the road to the neighbor’s! I ran outside shaking a feed buckets yelling “PIGS” at the top of my lungs and here all three of them and two neighbors came sauntering back like it was a stroll through the park! Sheesh! It’s never dull with pigs!

The easiest way, we learned, to load a hog is by habit and it doesn’t take too long for pigs to learn habits! I didn’t necessarily have a hard time loading the first time, it was more of an issue of them being wary of the trailer, naturally, and then not being able to easily separate out who I needed in the trailer and who I did not.

panel weldingThis past spring Jeremiah and one of his welding students welded up some panels for me with a clear idea in mind for it to help me/us not only load but sort too straight off the pasture. The new pen has a gate that can keep lots separate depending on who needs to be loaded. We can load from the pasture or the pen and with a swinging gate between them, I can sort without having to get in either. Loading is nothing more than backing the trailer up to the panel & moving one panel over enough to open the trailer. I can do this alone in a matter of a few minutes and that was the key, being able to do it alone if necessary. Sorting was really the hardest part before, trying to get a hog off the trailer and another on wasn’t impossible but time consuming. This way, everyone I need to go on to the trailer is sorted just before they are taken off but are given access to the trailer for feed for a few days prior to loading is super easy.

Which brings me to loading. A wary pig is not one who will move all that easily…or, at all! Getting them used to the trailer ahead of time relieves so much stress! The Sunday before they are to go, we/I back the trailer up, move the gate over and feed them or give them treats in the trailer. There’s no pushing on our part to load, we’re not waiting hours or chasing on loading day, it’s stress-free the way I like it. They b-line for the trailer instead of running every other way but in. Look, self loading pigs!

Some of the pastures will be put to rest for the winter. We have sows farrowing in January and February 2016 and will have hogs ready again in March/April time frame for processing. We do have a bit of work to do to one of the hog shelters. We had a microburst come through here on Labor Day that took one of them and flipped it upside down. The roof took a pretty hard beating and I am sure the Sow’s might appreciate it being leak-free!

Several years ago we had a huge diesel tank on a stand that was given to us. Jeremiah took the tank to the shop and made a smoker out of it but the stand sat here for years. I always thought it would make a great animal shelter. Jeremiah took a few odds and ends (the expanded metal from a ramp that used to be on one of our livestock trailers), metal siding from someone’s hail damaged shop, and the frame and made a really nice hunting stand/animal shelter. That may sound like an odd combination but it works and is stout! We try to make most of our hog shelters transportable as they are moved from place to place, one of them eventually quite possibly being in the back woods along the neighbor’s fence line where deer like to frequent.

Within another month the feeder pigs that are in the garden will have done their duty cleaning up which will take me to my next post, that garden. Stay tuned…

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August 26, 2014

Pigs

 

I underestimated the weight gain of the piggies the past couple of weeks and they have reached their 250# processing weight. Well, exceeded it some by 20+ lbs. or so, WHOOPS! I had a different custom feed mix made up, quite a bit higher in protein with a few other added ingredients and wowzers, that surely packed on the pounds! The next processing date was a month into the future so they may be a bit over 300# by that point!

Mama Sow is 5 days from her due date. She lumbers around where ever she goes and I can’t blame her. If she’s not at the feed bowl she’s under the ceder trees during the extreme heat we’ve had. She’ll lay in the wallow for a while but they really enjoy having the sprinkler turned on which I do a few times a day in 10 minute intervals.

The turkeys never miss an opportunity to dine with the pigs and our last broody hen to hatch out chicks  hatched out 4, 3 pure golden laced wyandottes and one pure silver laced wyandotte. She’s a mean old bitty but good to her babies and coos and clucks to them all the time. Granted, she’s a little ferocious when scratching for feed in the deep hay and one of the chicks often finds him/herself under foot and flying across the barn but they seem to be pretty squishy and this point and right themselves before going about business. They are fun to watch.

 

 

August 23, 2014

August

Moisture has been few and far between the last month. Yesterday the thunder started to roll but the storm past us to the west. I took the kids up to the pool about 2 and peak heat was 103. UGH!!! Yesterday evening the thunder was close again and I brought the clothes in off the line just in time for the sky to open up! The turkeys, being turkeys, couldn’t figure out where to go so I ran out to the barn and opened the small roving coop for them for shelter. I don’t know if they ever did end up going in the silly things!

We lost power at 6 and headed to town for a bite to eat, came home to a tree down in the front yard and debris that had plastered the front of the house even under the 6 foot roof overhang which I have never seen happen! Our favorite local weather people said there were 50-70 MPH straight line winds, that’ll do it! I have not checked the rain gauge but I’d say at least a good 1/4 inch if not 1/2 and bow howdy did we need it, every little bit!

Back to the turkeys, of the 4 we ordered, 3 survived past their 24 hours mark and have grown up! We have 2 toms and a hen and they have got to be one of the most entertaining animals here! They are also the best bug catchers which is great because the grasshoppers, like last year, are horrendous again. It was a very wet August last year and the mosquitoes were so so bad last year, not the same this year. Last year at this time Jeremiah was spending evenings and early mornings sitting still camouflaged behind a tree trying to call in the fox that had been eating our chickens. One morning it came in close enough to get a shot off but was just dark enough that he couldn’t for sure tell what it was and the chance was gone forever. They are hard ones to call in and catch, so they say. We have not seen that fox, knock on wood, nor have we lost any chickens this year!

Say hello to Tom and Tom! I just love these guys, so very talkative and they follow under foot like puppies. Just the past few weeks they’ve become very intent on trying to impress the hen who doesn’t seem to notice one way or the other. I find something interestingly beautiful about them. Normally their snoods (the piece of skin hanging off of their nose) is shrunk up above their beak and their necks and heads are a pale pink but when it’s time to impress, their snood grows and hang over their beak and their heads and necks turn bright red and blue.

 

A while back I was assured by a hunter we had over that we’d have a hard time keeping our turkeys from mingling, if not taking off with, the wild ones which are in great abundance here. In fact, we have 2 resident hens who hatched out 15+ poults between them and we often see them all in the back yard. They like to hang out in the pig’s pasture too in the tall grass. Two years in a row our turkeys haven’t seemed to pay any mind to the wild ones and visa versa so who knows. These guys have done well growth-wise and have been 100% free range since leaving the safety of the roving coop back when we butchered the broiler birds t 8 weeks old. They cost us next to nothing and really are so fun to have around! They spend most of the day hanging out with the pigs in the shade trees, most evenings they bed down in the middle of the barn yard in the grass. I am thinking maybe we ought to keep a tom and the hen over winter and see if she won’t set a nest in the spring. The poults aren’t too expensive to buy at all but it would be fun to have brand new baby turkey poults hatched out here.

Like I said, the fox hasn’t been around this year, thank goodness. There’s still time of course but so far so good. Two more hens, at lest, have hatched out more chicks since the last time I wrote. At about 4-5 weeks they leave the hen to live life on their own and we’ve lost some to hawks. I consider putting them in the large roving coop we use for the broilers but in the end, the survival of the luckiest plays out. The one Australorp whose nest I never did find has managed to keep all of her babies alive by sticking to the treed areas in the pigs’ pasture. Most of her babies are Australorps and hopefully got her good safety sense!

We’re down to 2 dry yearling left for sale who will be bred fairly soon here. All of the spring does have sold or are pending. I considered keeping one junior buck a a new herd sire but I can’t justify it keeping his sister, sire, dam, grand-dam etc. He’s leaving for his new home today in Northern Ks. We’ll have a few more older bred does for sale closer to the end of the year once they are dried off. Milk customers are keeping them here for now and with the up coming 2 year olds who will freshen next year and our new baby on the way, we have to keep our #’s down.

Our older sow is close to farrowing within the next week. I need to get her moved over to the farrowing pen to get settled in. She and our gilt will won’t be bred again until December giving the gilt a few more months to grow out to a good breeding age and our sow 3.5-4 months to recoup from this last litter. Normally I give her  a 2-2.5 month break between breedings which seems to be plenty for her but winter piglets proved to a lot more work than warmer weather piglets! It’s just a whole lot easier to raise piglets without the threat of cold weather.

Up until this summer the fencer we have for our high tensile electric has worked fine but the goats have taken a liking to going between the wires over into our neighbors front yard. Come to find out we’ve been running the wrong fencer and up until I put the rotational grazing poly wire fencing up for the goats in the woods it worked fine. However, now the drain of that poly wire has limited the distance of the “solid state” fencer we were running (thinking it was a low-impedance fencer this whole time) and was making the shock much less effective the farther away from the fencer the charge was so the goats were taking advantage of that. It was the “grassis always greener” way of thinking.  We chased that issue around for quite a while until we figured it out. Last Sunday we ran 3 more lines,  switched out the invisible fence for the dogs to the top line instead of the 2nd, made 2 of the lines “ground” wires and the rest are HOT HOT HOT! Hooked up the new fencer and boy does she pop!

What’s so nice about this fence is the lines are so quick to run. The three lines, after a trip to town for more insulators, took us as about an hour and a half. I run the wires down the line while Jeremiah insulates the wires with sleeves around the corner posts, crimps the wires and tightens the in-line strainer. Easy peasy and when we don’t overload the fencer with crappy poly-wire, it works great but when we load the new fencer with the poly wire, it’s not an issue!

Heading up for the last 6 round bales of hay today. It’s supposed to be another very hot one so I am very thankful we’re not bucking bales into the barn. It’s a little bit scary to see an empty barn this time of year! I am used to seeing it and 2 of the lean to’s bursting with small bales but they are all in rounds and we’re sticking with the pellets and with the pellets and hog feed in barrels, it takes up about as much room as 6 bales sitting in the ground and is such a space saver! I am not sure what I’ll do with the empty part of the barn but it sure is nice space to have available! =)

Man alive we had an issue with one of the does and tape worms this year! The end of June, she dropped weight like a ton of bricks, had constant diarrhea, eyelids went white and I really thought we’d loose her. None of the regular tape wormers I use (Valbazen usually) were working, I made up a special herbal wormer that helped a little, she rallied for a while but went right back after we got back from Ca. and literally, the diarrhea went on for over a month! I don’t know how on earth this doe is still alive! After finally doing a little more research I figured it had to be sort of a super tape, for lack of a better term, and tried Equimax horse wormer and WOW, WHAT AN IMMEDIATE DIFFERENCE IT MADE! That, along with Red Cell for the iron, B12 for her appetite and the other good nutrients and yogurt for the probios, she was perking right up, eating 100% better, diarrhea subsided within a couple of days and now she’s nearly back up to weight again and it didn’t take a 2 doses 10 days apart! I wormed the entire herd with that to be safe which I hate doing but as a precaution, I’d prefer it that way! Equimax also has Ivermectin and while it is a little pricier than some wormers, with it having both it’s my new go-to after freshening and for our kids as preventative!

At any rate, time to get going, lotsa work to get done today, first of which is coffee and getting that tree that fell cleaned up and cut up for fire wood. That will soon be upon us very soon and with as long as winter was last year, I’d like to have quite a bit more cut up than we’ve had in previous years. Better to be safe than out cutting wood when it’s freezing. =)

 

 

 

 

 

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July 22, 2014

Summer marches on

Yesterday’s heat was unbearable an these days with heat indexes over 110 are just crippling for me. The humidity is the biggest issue, I’m not used to it and the air is just oppressive. The flies are horrible even with all the chickens pulling duty in the barn and I just HATE going out to do chores and immediately dripping in sweat! This heat is hard on the pigs and even with all the shade trees they have in their pasture, their wallow and on-demand cool drinking water, I know they are not comfortable.

One of the hogs is being sent off for processing in a couple of weeks. We’re splitting it with a friend. It will be nice to have fresh bacon in the freezer again. Our sow is due at the end of August and it’ll be about time to take a load off to the processor again for customer orders. We’ve kept a gilt from the February litter in hopes of having a pair of breeding sows as the demand for feeder pigs and pork seems to be high. Our feeder pigs’ reservations is already full for August’s litter and we’ll be keeping a few back again to raise up to process.

In early May we had a couple of broody hens who eventually hatched out 19 chicks between them. We’ve lost some to hawks but there are still quite a few who will be good flock replacements for a culling I hope to do this fall of the older hens who have been here nearly 2 years now. When we arrived home from California, another hen (an Australorp I didn’t even notice was setting and still I have no idea where she was) had hatched out 8. Mostly all Australorps but a few Orpington mixes thrown in to break up all the black. Gosh, I just love the Australorps dark dark eggs!

With all this rain, the wildflowers have been amazing and the bees are busy busy busy working like crazy! Upon our return from California the grass was so thick and tall it left huge swaths of mulch in the mower’s wake. It almost looked like a hay field and leaving for near 2 weeks made our yard look like it hadn’t been touched in months! We’re thankful for the moisture!

I had an individual contact me before we left for Ca. about some buck kids I had for sale. He was looking for meat and eventually the conversation went to Halal butchering, something that I’ve been wanting to learn more about since reading a few studies and research on Halal/Kosher butchering in general. I hesitate whether I should mention this subject at all since it seems to be such a heated topic here and there but suffice to say it was an eye opening experience and one for which I am very thankful for. We met an interesting and intriguing individual and  were enlightened, neither of which I consider bad things at all! In fact, it seems as though it will probably turn out to be a gainful business opportunity as well, a win-win situation!

All of our buck kids have now been sold, I’ll be looking to move an adult buck on here in about a month or two and we’re down to just a few individuals for sale (mostly dry yearlings as I kept entirely too many kids back last year!). I am probably keeping more doe kids this year again but I’d really like to see how they grow out and develop. I’m really happy with Agent’s kids this year, all with great length of body and wonderful general appearance. We may be replacing an adult buck with a new jr. herdsire out of Melody and Agent, a beautiful blue roan dripping with dairy character. I am also keeping his litter mate sister as well.

Before we left for California we took a few days to process all of the meat chickens. The turkeys need more time to grow out but I have such a hard time saying goodbye to them. They are so personable and are the first to greet me with their noises when they see me coming to the barnyard. We started with 4 and lost one within a couple days of bringing it home. We were refunded for it but by that point the farm store was sold out which is just as well I guess. We’re down to three and just within the past week I’ve been able to determine we have one hen and 2 toms, or Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, as it were =).

Brome is baled now, wheat harvest is still going on and we’re waiting on the right cut of alfalfa to come in. With all the rain the alfalfa prices have been steadily dropping and I’m considering going back to hay again and going off of pellets. The  last round bale of alfalfa we got there was so little waste and the quality was excellent. I know there is always a min. guarantee of protein on the pellets but it’s most often grinding quality and some of the milkers either get sick of them or something is in them they just don’t prefer, either that or they are just picky which may totally be the case because everyone else devours them.

I have put off hanging out laundry long enough I suppose. It’s definitely not getting any cooler outside. That said, I’ll end for now. Life on the farm is pretty mundane most days although there is usually always something to liven things up just about the time when it seems sleepy. One such event happened 2 days ago when we were getting ready to run errands and Jeremiah heard a very strange noise coming from the woods. I had put the does in the temporary fenced off wooded area and one of the spring kids had gotten her head stuck in a plastic pumpkin that had apparently been taken off by the wind last fall. Not being able to see she freaked out naturally and was making some awful cries. Jeremiah saved her from a most certain horrible afternoon, she rejoined the herd and all was right with the world. She went running back her dam for sympathy, of which she got none. Silly creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 4, 2014

For the…bees

We picked up our “nuc” colonies on Saturday. VERY exciting! Not knowing quite what to expect, the transfer of the first hive was a little precarious but the second was pretty easy!

 

These bees are so docile. I made Rachel dawn a veil made from a piece of lace I cut in two -because I needed one too- a hat to hold it on, long sleeves, jeans, and gloves. Since then, I’ve been walking out (and taking off the lid for a peak a few times) in whatever I happen to have on and with this weather, it’s been short sleeves and a shirt or shorts! They are just so calm! That may be a different story once collection time comes but for now, they seem to be well handled and “socialized” and there was no fuss about it.

 

The frames all look great, already a lot of wax combs started, capped honey and larvae growing inside the cells. Our queens are not marked and we had a hard time identifying them, it made me dizzy to try to sit and watch them with so much movement but I am sure everything is just fine.

 

We missed the black locust blooms but it looked to be an “off” year anyway and I am hopeful next year they explode in full bloom giving the bees lots and lots of pollen to gather. The wildflowers are plentiful this year though and the Catalpa trees are showing their beautiful splendor.

 

We are all enjoying them very much and look forward to this journey with our newest additions.

 

 

May 8, 2014

May already

Is it nearly May already? May 6th 7th 8th! I figure some day I may get this post up! It’s sad to say I started writing this the last part of April! About a week ago I was probably sitting by the wood stove keeping warm on a below average temp. day and yesterday I was sitting by our kitchen window drinking (eating?) a smoothie trying to keep cool!

One day has turned into another, as it usually often does. It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here!

Our (human) kids are almost out of school, it was one field trip or assembly or end of the year project(s) and goals to be met along with regular chores and kiddings and cold weather turning to warm.

We are done with kidding this year and all of our fresh does are milking well. We had 3 does kid in a single Saturday giving us 6 kids between them. Dawn had triples boys early one Saturday morning followed by Mags with a very good size flashy buck and doe out of Storm and Mischief ended the day with a single buck kid out of Andy.

Mischief and her buck kid and Morgan went on to their new homes the week before last. Several of the buck kids have found new homes and there are several individuals who are currently up for sale. The doe count wasn’t high this year but there are several that I would very much like to keep.

The count was:

Em: triplets (2 bucks & 1 doe)

Pejamy: twins (1 buck & 1 doe). Sadly Pejamy passed away one cold night. From what we are unsure, but given how quickly she went it’s probable it was pneumonia.

Flicker: twins (1 buck & 1 doe)

Ann: quads (3 does & 1 buck)

Apricot: twins (1 doe & 1 buck)

Dawn: triplets (3 bucks)

Mags: twins (1 buck & 1 doe)

Mischief: single (1 buck)

Melody: triplets (2 bucks & 1 doe)

Granite: single (1 doe)

March and April had us building a milk machine for a customer and dis-budding a lot of goat kids!

All but 2 of the piglets have gone on to their new homes. The smallest piglet developed a naval hernia and completely weaned herself from the sow when she was being offered a bottle twice a day, that turned into 3 times a day once she decided the bottle was better. I tried fixing the hernia several times with a few methods I read about online to no avail, she was just too small for it to work well. She was gaining weight but the amount of bottle feeding necessary was a lot of work. She habitated with the sows and her siblings fine but in the end, I felt she’d do better with more frequent feedings so she went to a home with lots of kids who could give her more attention than I could devote.

We’re keeping 2 piglets to raise up to butcher this fall. One’s for us, the other will be sold. Having piglets in February was a challenge and a learning experience but we got through okay. The hay usage for the goats was quite a lot more than usual and that tells me quite a bit about how “bad” the winter was. May 1 I had a fire in the wood stove to take the chill off Last year it snowed on May 2! However we’re in to thunderstorm season two Sunday’s ago it was sure nice to lay in bed an listen to the thunder roll through and the rain pour down.

The skeleton for the new milk barn was delivered and the metal roof went on the weekend before last (right after a storm and the sky offered the most beautiful backdrop!) . We were fortunate in that a neighbor (and master carpenter) generously helped us put up the trim pieces and what a hoot to watch him work knowing where to cut and bend the metal in all the places so it fit like a glove. It’s amazing how much faster the work goes when you’ve done it a time or two (or 500)! The work they got done in half a day surely would have taken Jeremiah and I at least 2!

 

Our bee hives are almost finished! Jeremiah and I built two beautiful top bar hives. Picking up the bees, however, has been put on hold. Apparently with the cold winter, separating the colonies has been delayed about 4 weeks which is just as well. I put a nice coat of linseed oil on the outside of the hives on Sunday to protect them from the weather.

Top Bar bee hive

 

We had a hard freeze come through about a week in to April which was about the same time last year as that ice storm we had that killed some of our newly planted fruit trees.  Those have since been replanted save for the apricot tree which we cannot find any locally! We put sheets around those that had blossoms this year and they seemed to fair very well. The pear and plum trees were loaded with fruit, I picked most of them so the tree puts nutrition into growth. We want big strong trees and not a lot of fruit the first couple of years.

I bought some heated seed mats in March to try out and suffice to say I wish I had gotten them sooner! What a difference in germination time they made! After using both cold frames to keep plants and the greenhouse we put up last year, I will say starting seeds in the cold frames had much better results. It may have been because the winter I used the cold frames were a lot less harsh than the past 2 (particularly this past winter), but it probably also had a lot to do with area. The cold frames did not loose the heat near as much as the greenhouse.

The greenhouse does a great job once the seeds have germinated. I started half of the seeds in the greenhouse this year and half in the house. Of those I started in the house, the 2nd half (mostly melons, squash, herbs and a few tomatoes and peppers) were started on the heat mats and compared to everything else seemed like light years faster. From now on I’ll start everything on the mats and move them out to the greenhouse at a few days old.

Unfortunately, our kitchen window is north facing and if not moved out fairly soon after germinating, even when rotated on the shelf, they can get “leggy” but once they germinated I’d move them into the greenhouse within a day or so. As long as the nights didn’t fall well below freezing, the greenhouse does very well for us. On the vry cold nights, I cover everything with additional plastic and sheeting right over the top of the plants. Additionally, it’s really nice to be in the the greenhouse when it’s chilly (and windy) outside. I found myself at times stopping off on the way to the barn to step inside and warm up! Planting seeds in there early spring is really nice.

Not knowing what the germination would be on some of my seeds, I over planted putting 2-3 seeds per pot. You’re supposed to pick/pull the smaller of the plants and allow the more growthy one to continue to grow in single pots but I can’t bear to sacrifice plants like that so the tomatoes and the tomatillos I  separated and transplanted. I completely forgot to even start tomatillos last year. This year I planted 40 seeds hoping to get a few (the seeds were 3 years old and last year I wasn’t all that careful about how I kept my seeds), 36 germinated! There’s a lot of tomatillos!!! I always go overboard with the tomatoes too. My Mom send me home at Christmas with 3 heirloom varieties to try I planted those along with several of my favorites including Kellogg’s Breakfast (a HUGE meaty yellow tomato).  The jalapeno seeds must have been no good because not a single one germinated so I started some from new but I don’t think they’ll be big enough to plant for a while. Everything else looks great though and I am really excited about the lemon grass that I started from seed. I’ve never grown lemon grass.

It’s almost time to put the majority of the plants in the ground. “Back Home” in Northern Cal. we aimed to have everything in by Mother’s Day. I aim for the same here see as how the last frost date is 2 weeks in to May. Nevertheless, the spring onions are ready for picking anyway and that has made me feel less like I am “behind”. Just this morning I got the entire garden tilled. After a few scoops of some compost that’s been “cooking” for a year and another till, we’ll be all set to plant Saturday.

We’ve decided to put drip irrigation in the garden. We’ll plant the entire garden and then install the hoses and drippers/sprayers so we’ll know where to place them. We really ought to do something like that for the fruit trees too. I water every Saturday as it is. I think the drip irrigation would save a lot of water. We get some pretty high winds here and I don’t always have the time to water everything by hand when the wind takes the sprinkler water and waters everything BUT the garden. It should be such a time saver!

The “meat chicks” arrived a week ago Thursday! They’ll be out on pasture in about 2 more week!

Well, I am sure I could go on and on about the goings on around here but I’ll end for now. Happy May!!!

 

 

 

March 1, 2014

Nigerian/Mini Goat kid coats

Custom order for Linda as she readies for new babies mid-March!

 

goat coats

Nigerian coat compared to average size kid coat.

goat coat goat coat

February 18, 2014

It may be a cock and bull story…

Here’s something to crow about. Mother Hen was feeling a little empty nest syndrome having neither chick nor child and hatched an idea. She now maintains a strict pecking order. Hey, you gotta find some way to scratch out a living and we wouldn’t want to put all of our eggs in one basket, right? She may be walking on eggs shells however, the sow really rules the roost around here. Mother Hen probably thinks she signed up for a pig in a poke with this job. She doesn’t have time to brood over it though and may want to make herself as scarce as hens teeth before she ruffles the sow’s tail feathers and her chickens come home to roost! The sow doesn’t play chicken, she’d be all over her like a banty on a Junebug! Well if that don’t beat a pig a pecking! This story is all a little bird brained but I hope it left you sunny side up.

 

January 22, 2014

Seed starting/gardening

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. –Gertrude Jekyll

It’s almost that time again, spring is around the corner and I’ve got the fever! The greenhouse is back up and running again after a few modifications and my seed wishlist is complete. I’ve gone through all the seeds I’ve saved and was given and those I had left over and I am primed and ready!

I wanted to share the sites I use to determine when things are started from seeds and when I put my plants in the ground, where I order seeds from and a few different styles of gardening I like (or would like to try).

Dates for planting will vary, of course, depending on location. Some seeds can be direct sowed -meaning the seed is put right into the ground- (melons, corn, beans, carrots…), while others need a month or more to germinate and grow at warmer temps and thus need to be started indoors or inside of a greenhouse (peppers, tomatoes, some flowers…).

It’s important to know what zone you are in. Knowing this will help determine what dates are better for starting seeds and/or putting certain plants outdoors. Back home in Northern Cal. (zone 8A), we did not put the majority of the summer plants out until around May 1. As a general rule, the week/weekend before Mother’s Day was our target date to have most of the summer plants in (earlier for spring crops of course). Here in Central Kansas (zone 5B), I aim to start planting the 2nd week in May so I can be sure the chances for frost to kill my plants is slim. Putting some plants out too early may cause frost to harm them and that can lead to wasted money and time as plants may need to be re-purchased and re-planted. Starting them too early indoors can mean needing to transplant in larger pots or risk having the plant get “leggy” or root bound.

I haven’t come across a general “all inclusive” website that I like to use that encompasses all of the gardening advice or spreadsheets I use. I pick and choose information from a lot of different sources, including books! Some of my sources have overlapping info and it may be a bit redundant but I am including them anyway as it may be helpful to others.

I will also list several links at the bottom of this post to different styles of gardening I like, will be trying, have tried or would like to try. There are so many gardening styles it’s mind boggling and by no means is what I have listed all inclusive!

Find your zone here: http://www.garden.org/zipzone/

Look up your frost dates here: http://davesgarden.com/guides/freeze-frost-dates/

If you know your zone you can use this handy chart: http://www.food-skills-for-self-sufficiency.com/images/Frost-date-chart.jpg

I love Sprout Robot for a weekly schedule of planting/seed starting both indoors and out: http://sproutrobot.com/

By entering your zip code and “x’ing” out of the pop up window, it will give you a weekly run down of what to do. For further details (instructions, etc.), you must pay to join but I like this handy dandy free tool to keep me on track.

I also love this one! Once you know your last frost date, enter it into the box and it will tell you when to start your seeds and set out your plants! http://www.johnnyseeds.com/e-pdgseedstart.aspx

I use this plant/harvest print-out as a tool throughout the year: http://gardnercommunitygarden.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Kansas-Garden-Calendar.jpg

This guide below is in my “Kansas Garden Guide” book that I picked up at our county extension office but I found this same one through a Google image search. I have seen them for many different states. If you Google image search “(your state) garden guide” you may find one for your state. They don’t usually vary too much. I have listed a couple on a quick search. Try calling your county extension/research/ag dept., they are usually a wealth of information!

Texas: http://www.newgardenidea.me/2013/05/vegetable-garden-planting-guide.html

Mo: http://www.igrowsonoma.org/images/year-round-chart.jpg

Wy: http://myflowerland.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/vege-guide.jpg

Here is a handy general planting guide: http://parkseedjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Parks-Veg.-Plant-Guide3.jpg

It doesn’t take a lot to grow your own food. Even a container or two with a few pots of tomatoes on an apartment balcony can be rewarding. I love to see community gardens popping up!

Lasagne Gardening:

Potatoes grown in bags and containers:

Straw bale gardening:

General “all-purpose” gardening sites:

Amending your soil:

Hardening your plants:

Pinching (pruning tomatoes):

Pest control:

Gardening Forums:

Germination temperature:

A few of my favorite online seed stores (usually they will send you a seed catalog for free even if you don’t order). I like to try to stick with organic non-GMO seeds.

Books I love:

  • Vegetable Gardener’s Bible
  • Sunset’s Western Garden Book

Happy planting!

January 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: The Rooster Strut