Some days I walk with the goats to the creek. They like company so munched around while I sat on a rock in the shade. Across the creek I could see the chickens in the orchard. They like when I pull down branches so they can eat more leaves. One girl thought she could get more.
This is how I learn. I am fortunate I can take time during the day to observe the animals. I note the time of day they come out of barn and go out to pasture, what they go for along their path. Inquisitive person that I am I have my 3rd eye open. I am amazed at how many different moving critters there are on trees, bark, leaves, on tall grasses, weeds and in the soil. This “gem” fell in my hand so got a picture. It was such a beautiful color and hard crust with legs that could stick on a tree. I have no idea what it is and never seen one before.
Pigs I know love to wallow in water. Rob has been so busy baling hay on his days off we just let them outside with “Big Daddy Mini Man” (our goat buck) to keep him company and at least they are outside and able to eat grass. They should have been in a pasture near the creek or wet area.
They have dug up some good tunnels on the hill. This week with the heat they were looking to cool down. They managed to get in the water trough, pull the plug, and had water all about. The float kept running and I heard the well pump from the house so went to investigate and here they were in a slop and grunting with joy. They were writhing in it on the floor. I got the plug-in and boarded up the hole. There was so much water it ran thru the floor downstairs to one of the goat pens. What a mess. I gathered up all the hay in the trough to try to soak it up and left. What pigs! They are quite the characters and were only using their innate wisdom to do what comes natural.
I saved a turtle! One day I was out picking up supplies near Scone and I saw something on the road ahead of me. As I got closer I saw it was a huge turtle. I slowed down and made a U turn as it had crossed to the other lane. I took a picture
and noticed it had moss on its back. As I got closer it started to withdraw into its shell so I backed off. I saw two vehicles coming so I stepped out onto the road waving my hands so they would slow down. One guy didn’t seem to understand and I thought it was a goner but he straddled it and lo and behold it woke up and quick ran onto the side of the road. It was going down the hill to a stream below. It certainly looked like it knew where it was headed. Kind of made my day to know there are some amazing creatures left trying to survive in their natural environment.
Our soil looks like mostly clay. Underneath it is soft, mealy and moist. The more organic matter we add it gets more like nice loam. We have 12-14 inches of topsoil after years of ploughing in left overs from the garden and working in oats, buckwheat, weeds to feed the living organisms. The more carbon in the soil holds the moisture. The heirlooms know to go down deep where the moisture is. The cracks on top is aeration which is a good sign. We had no rain for few weeks here and it is amazing to see the strength of a seed wanting to grow!
The deeper you plant beans and corn they put down one strong tap-root (get grounded!) then up goes the stem pushing thru the crust of the dry earth. The skin of the bean is gone and inside are two green leaves that will connect with the air above the ground,capture moisture and nutrients and send back down to the earth below the ground. When it gets hot or at night all the mineral sugars are held in the root zone . The plant does most of its growing overnight and it perks up in the morning capturing sun and energy and grows some more.
There are times I don’t see all the seeds up then scratch around in dirt, and there it is coming up. I go back couple days and there is the whole row up! We get dependant on transplanting and being in control. Experience has taught me that direct seeding beets, carrots, cucumbers, beans, turnips, and corn are much healthier, sturdier and balanced so less pests. So far no cucumber beetles on the cucumbers or squash and they are getting there 2nd set of leaves.
Summer is here. I am happy and feel good about the garden. It’s a nice feeling when you make a plan and see it unfold. I wanted to down size the area and try really hard to keep the weeds under control and so far it is looking good!
After the tomato plant sale (May 25th) it took couple more weeks to get all my pepper and tomato plants transplanted and watered in good. They were looking pretty yellow and not many leaves on by that time. It proves to me that yes you can grow in a pot or container, water and fertilize and you will get fruit….but….the more room these heirlooms have to grow they do grow. I guess that is why I find it hard to compare or answer questions when they are grown differently. You will get different results. We just let them be and after couple weeks the proof that the factory is running at full capacity is the dark green leaves.
You may be familiar with planting the “three sisters” way which is corn, bean and squash together. Last year we planted GaGa Hut Pinto bean in the corn rows. Well the corn was planted with a seeder and quite thick ,grew quite tall, and shaded the beans, competed for moisture and nutrients so did not do well. This year we hand planted 3 fifty foot rows of Anasazi Corn and Anasazi Bean (Mexican heirloom both great flavor dried). We put a corn seed every foot and 2 bean seeds in between. They all germinated quickly so we shall see how they do.
A common term with gardeners is “PESTS”. How to deal with them… Fear of the unknown. Without a complete understanding of how Mother Nature works or that the more man interferes and causes imbalance, the harder she throws out pests trying to right mans wrongs. I like to observe then form an opinion. Most things we fear are because we are trying to control what we think we’d like to see.
Spring appears to be natures time to reproduce.
Weed seeds and pests lie dormant in the soil until the conditions become right. The potato bugs crawl up from the soil. They are NOT dropped from the sky. They find each other, do their mating then the female crawls up the newly emerged plant and deposits orange eggs on the underside of the leaves.
When the eggs hatch they eat their way to adulthood and the process is repeated until there are no leaves left on the plant.
I try to scout or crawl along and pinch them before they lay eggs. Or if I find eggs squish them. If I miss and the little red ones are all over the leaves I take a pail and flick them or shake the plant over the pail. Pouring gas is a quick way or you can drown them in water. They will try to crawl up the pail until you do. I read putting straw around plants deters the bugs as they don’t like walking on straw but unless you have very few plants this is a lot of manual work and they still do find the leaves.
Potatoes should not be planted on newly ploughed ground (wireworms)nor on land that has had manure on year before (scab). Even rotating fields the bugs find them. Perception could be that a) the plant is not fit for humans to eat and nature sends in the army to destroy or b) they are healthy and are good food for nature to find a home and good food for? We have over 10 varieties and do not see it on all of them or all of the plants. I have observed that even with no leaves we still get potatoes (maybe bit smaller) but they seem to be fine. When the leaves die down and turn brown that is time to dig them…they are finished growing.
Fresh Organic Strawberries…
Today was a great day! I had my first 2013 Strawberry. Juicy mouthwatering tender fantastic flavor. What a power pack of goodness. A living raw food.
Freezing some for winter smoothies. Making some seasonal treats. Muffins with chopped strawberries, ground lavender flowers and our ancient wheat full of gluten that is digestible. A puree with fresh mint leaves, lavender flowers and strawberries in small containers for toppings on cheesecake or winter pancakes.
With our fresh lettuce we add strawberries for a salad. At this time of year we eat less but get more nutrients from our backyard pantry. To be able to bite into a fresh vine ripened berry that is grown in soil with sun, air, earth and the rains is truly a gift. We are thankful for the knowledge in knowing the difference and making a choice.
Friends that drop in for a visit make our day!
and last night at dusk this little time machine zoomed in for a sip of sweetness
On Monday evening the wind blew and poured rain. We were sitting outside on porch and all of a sudden from the creek two frogs came hopping up the hill frolicking in the rain. Living amonst nature, we need no music. Natures symphony is a melody to behold. Doves cooing, Red Winged Blackbirds, Robins, the frogs singing at night 4am Rooster wake up call. Happy refreshing time of year!
Spring is Sprung! Time to get growing.
The weather turned like summer for two weeks. Nine and ten-hour days outside. We enjoyed our early spring tonic of fresh spinach,swiss chard, lambs quarter weeds and dandelion greens growing in the ground in the greenhouse. I made my once a year miso soup with dandelion greens, soba noodles and miso. Our spring menu is hard-boiled eggs with raw spinach salad and spankapita (quiche with spinach, garlic) and enjoying the last of our potatoes with fresh butter and chives.
I was glad I didn’t get all the onions and lettuce out in the garden as it turned cold and miserable and had to turn the heaters back on in the greenhouse. It is now starting to feel like a long weekend ahead with lots outside work. All the local farmers markets will be opening, Sauble Beach cottages open up and we try to get most of the garden in. Hopefully early potatoes. The peas and spinach we seeded that warm week are poking thru the ground. Feeling optimistic for a more normal growing season.
The land dried up nice and Rob got his oats planted and this week we are disking and hope to get our heirloom corn in tomorrow. I got some lettuce and onions in and hope to get the Brussel sprouts and cabbages in tomorrow. We sampled our new batch of anise goat farm sausage. Very good! 100% meat (no filler) and all organic ingredients stuffed in real intestines. We have been playing with the kids and some of the lamancha girls (Spanish breed with no ears) are the cutest monkeys. They are so curious and learn from the mom. We offer free choice DE (diamataceous earth is silica and dewormer) and after a month they are nibbling on hay plus fresh milk. Below is a little smarty who balanced on her moms back and got up to drink out of the water trough.
March/April 2013 Kidding around time at the farm.
Rob and I are in the barn a lot these days. Always a surprise what pops out. Soft sweet cuddly newbies. New life, another new generation.
Our maternity ward is filling up. We have over 22 kids. Easy births with a good balance of twins 2 girls or 2 boys or 1 of each. We handle them as soon as we can no mummy sucks here.
They don’t run from us, we run from them. They jump like little dogs, if we sit down they jump on our back, nibble our hair and ears.
In my opinion goats are the neatest animal. Unique personality, curious, clean,like people and attention and are easy to train. If healthy and fed how they would eat in nature they can give birth easy be full of pep and vinegar and live till 9-11 years.
I prefer to ignore the loud screams and go out after 1/2 hr or hour. Then they are born, being licked off and trying to get up and suck some immune giving colostrum. We can tell if they are close by bagging up, tail up in air, the tendons drop the kid into the birth canal. When they are in labor the Lamancha usually suffer quietly, chew their cud rapidly, some arch back .
Some come out real fast others may take a day. Sometime new moms are not quite all there so need a little help. They back up so kid can’t get the teat. Each time the kids fall down makes them stronger and more verbal. An innate intelligence has them sucking and reaching even while mom is licking them off. Perfectly formed little soft hooves bright eyes and so clean.
We are supposed to be downsizing but we need to lock up “daddy” or put him out to pasture. We make cream cheese and a soft feta. Excess goes to the 2 Tamworth pigs. They will all be out on pasture roaming the hills soon. We love our girls, they love the food we grow for them and we enjoy the food we grow on their manure.
We leave the kids on mom for 3 months then the males go for meat. Females we De-horn. We see such well attached udders on these 7th generation. They are for sale to the right environment. Would make nice hand milkers. We have worked at culling and keeping the best for health, birth and milk. Our does have teats kids can suckle. The milk industry has huge ones our kids would gag on. Most of those kids are put on a pail with rubber teats.
What is unique is to see a pile of kids and a doe will come over sniff and cry (saying time for dinner) and the kid will get up and answer. I have also seen the kids walk up to a doe and sniff for its mom. They can tell by the smell which ones are theirs. So if born during the night they bond.