Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grow, Baby, Grow!!

Well, I worked very hard for about 6 days to plant the garden, in the insane heat wave we were having, and it looks like dirt.  Literally.  Dirt, dirt and a little green.  And weeds.  Why is it that when I sit in the middle of it, it looks so alive, yet when I take its picture, it looks so crappy?  Where's my lush jungle??  Gah!

So annoying.  Anyway, I thought I'd give you a tour of my dirt and little green plants.  Since they were all put in this past weekend, they're not doing much yet.  But I expect big things.  You hear me plants?? 

Good deal. 

Keep your hands and arms inside the bus, ladies and gentlemen.  Here we go!

The overshot.  The almost whole kaboodle.  Half is in shade right now, but it's about to be in the blaring sun for the entire rest of the day.  See how the garden looks like dirt?  So sad.

The first plot:  winter squash and melons.  And weeds.  Yep, I am companion planting this year--big time.  It's a large garden, but it didn't seem large enough last year.  This year to combat this, I companion planted and put things pretty close together.  I'm hoping for better results because of it.  Last year was not the best.

The next bed:  lettuce, peas, and radishes, way at the bottom of the picture.  This one has been in a while, which is why it's grown so well.  It started very slowly this year, though.  We had no rain for the longest time and the seeds just sat.  But now it's starting to get there.  Thank goodness!

 Cucumbers.  And weeds. 

Strawberries.  And not many weeds at all.  Yeay!

Peppers. Mostly not mine, either, since the stupid greenhouse calamity took out most of my seedlings.  But those that are there look good. 

Next bed: onions and carrots.  I'm trying a raised bed approach this year, as last year the onions were teeny tiny and super skinny, due to the heavy soil.  They seem to be doing much better, but they are floppy.  Onions hate me.

The entire back end of the garden is planted in pumpkins and corn.  Two out of the three sisters.  The pumpkins are back here because it's a big space, and the corn is back here because if we want any corn, we have to plant a lot of corn.  Planting just a few plants never works out well for me, so this year I went big.  We will see!!

Having learned from last year's potato debacle, I scrapped the tires.  This year I'm doing it this way: I plunked the potatoes down on nice, tilled ground, and covered them with dirt.  I'll keep covering them with dirt while they grow.  They'll be contained by these blocks, so the dirt can go higher and higher until the box is full.  The taller boxes you see in the back are the fancy blue potatoes I saved from last year.  They were planted a long time ago, and are rocketing.  The rest of the potatoes planted are just potatoes from a local farm I kept in the basement to save for seed.  I didn't invest much money, just in case this fails again.  I hope it doesn't.


Garlic and tomatoes.  The garlic's been here since last fall, and the tomatoes took an entire day of their own to plant.  There are over 90, with 22 different varieties.  Yes, we like tomatoes.

The bean plot, though right now it's dirt.  I know they're in there, though.  Come out, little beans!



The asparagus in the front plot.

All along the long side of the garden is the herb plot.  It's home to mints, oregano, thymes, sage, hyssop, bergamot, violets, all those nice things.  Oh and a giant horseradish:

Right outside the garden are the blackberries....

And raspberries.

I put in three large additional plots this year.  This one is for cut flowers.

This one is for gourds and sunflowers.

They are inside the orchard.  See my little happy orchard trees?  They are so leafy!!

This plot is field corn, but it's only field corn for this year.  Next year I am hoping to build a greenhouse here, out of salvaged windows.  I have ALOT of windows, as I've been saving them for 2 years or so.  They are starting to take over the garage, so I'm anxious to use them.  In the meantime, the plot for it is being used for the corn.

And that's it.  Not much to see yet, but I think it's got potential.  I'm hoping for a good year this year, and I'm going to take on the weeds early, so they don't get ahead of me.  Last year was such a mess.  I will be mulching with grass clippings, dead leaves, and old duck house bedding.  That said, I had best get to work.  Have a great day, everyone!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stripes are HOT!!

Nope, it's not a post about what's hot and what's not.  Rather, it's these stripes I was referring to.

These stripes are HOT today.  And yesterday.  And the day before.  Poor little puddings. 

This is Milo, Thor and ? nursing from mommy, who doesn't seem to mind, even though her babies are easily half her size or more. 

And yes, they are weaned pretty well.  They eat all sorts of cat food yumminess.  But it doesn't stop them from latching onto mama any time she plunks her hiney down.  Bunch of mooks.  Soon ? will be going to her new home, and Thor and Milo will be learning all about the great outdoors. 

I'll miss having them around, but I'll be glad I can hang my curtains back up.  Since we discovered they were using them as a toilet, I've had them down.  The kittens are finally getting the litter box, but I don't trust them with my curtains.  Soon, though. 

Milo says hi.

This weekend was full of work, and I just haven't had time to sit down and write about it yet.  I hope to in the next day or so.  I can say this, though; whoever said that Memorial Day weekend was a time for barbeques and swimming in the pool never homesteaded.  And that's a fact.

Be well, friends!
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Friday, May 25, 2012


That is the verdict on Miss Dulcinea.

What a humdinger, huh?

Yesterday, after she got home, she was doing better.  She was eating hay and kind of acting like herself.  When I went out to feed her dinner at 5, she took the first bottle eagerly.  I thought maybe we had turned a corner. 

Not so much.

Literally two minutes after she downed the bottle with such gusto, she seemed to think better of it.  She backed away, turned her face away from me, and didn't want to be touched.  Then she started to shake uncontrollably.  I almost would have called it a seizure.  I ran for the thermometer and the phone.  Her temp was 105.3.  As I waited for the vet to answer, down she went.  I figured she was done.  The vet told me to bring her down right away, so I asked my dad to watch my kids, and my mom and I took her.

They kept her overnight.  They pumped her full of fluids.  They gave her some different antibiotic, some Thiamine, and Bo-Se.  To me, it was pretty much covering the bases.  But the copious fluids they gave her, coupled with the injections seems to have washed this crap out of her system--we hope. 

She is home now, with her catheter still in her neck, complaining because she can't have milk until tomorrow.  Her prognosis is good, but still guarded.  You know goats.  Up, then down.  We're hoping for no more down, though. 

The vet who discharged her told us that the vet she saw yesterday (a lovely young lady from Australia) saved Dulci's life.  I would have to agree with him. 

Bad lady?  Why you not let me have milk?  Why bad lady, why?  See me?  I am sad and cute and pathetic.  Look at my big sad eyes.   I needs milk, bad lady, I needs it.

Waaaaaaannnnntttt   Miiiiiiiillllllkkkkkk!!!
Sorry Dulci, no can do.  No milk today.  You can have your goatarade instead.

No Dulci, I'm sorry.  No milk.  Goatarade.  That's that.

I hates you bad lady.  I willn't look at you anymores. 
That's gratitude for you.

We've explained to her that since we've spent SO much money on her, she will have to give us 2 gals a day and triplet doelings to pay us back.  I don't think she was listening, though.

Well, keep your fingers crossed for her.  I know I won't be thinking it's all alright until it's all alright.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours

photo credit
Why is it when bad things happen, they happen all together and when you can least afford to have them happen?

Is it a cosmic joke of some sort?  Is someone, somewhere laughing and enjoying themselves at my expense right now?

I'm not finding it funny, I can tell you that.  There is just too much bad going on right now, and I feel about ready to scream.

My son has a fever, and though he's not feeling too bad, and is acting almost like himself (just a bit warmer), I still worry.  He's my little boy. 

The chickens have discovered that I planted petunias and that they like to eat petunias.  They dug out three of my planters and ate the petunias and spilled the dirt all over the place.  They also discovered one of the perennials I just planted and ate it to the ground.

The pepper seedlings that I had ready to go into the ground have baked in the sun, despite my being very careful with them.  I have very few peppers to go into the ground now, nowhere near the number I should have had.

The greenhouse collapse that occurred on chicken butchering day was worse than I thought, and I lost a lot of little crops to that stupid calamity.  Weeks of work wasted and there's not enough going into the ground.

Minerva was loose in the yard yesterday and snapped my Winter Banana apple tree right down to the ground.  Gone, goodbye.  She must have hit it just right.

The kittens are being potty trained, and they've made lots of mistakes.  The little girl peed on the couch twice, even though she'd been shown the litter box.  All three of them seem to forget how to use the litter box after they just used it an hour ago.  I've been finding "gifts" all over the place.  No soft surface is safe.

And worst of all:  Dulci is sick.  The scours that the two of them had (she and Min) have not let up, and I'm not sure, but I think Lilly now has them too.  Though Min and Lilly are still eating and bouncing, Dulci is not.  Her scours have taken a turn for the worse, and this morning, she turned her nose up at the bottle.  I can't tell who's got scours and who doesn't anymore.  I can't figure out why anyone has it, but I'm pretty sure we've gone beyond the "change in surroundings" upset tummy.  Dulci is the worst off, so I have to take her to the vet today, and we really can't afford it.  I don't want to take her, but I don't know what's wrong, and I can see she's getting worse.  I'm hoping the vet can tell me what she thinks it is, so I can treat all of them.  I fell like I should have just stuck with chickens, and that I'm failing at goats.

All I want to do is cry.  Anyone else ever feel like that?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Or, in this case, my family.  And it was a lot of help.

Saturday was goat house building day.  The temporary pen in the garage where the goats have been housed for the last month or so was getting tight.  And the moving them back and forth every day wasn't going as well as it was previously.  They'd figured out that there were many nice things to eat along the trip, and had decided to start to eat them.  Wrangling them was getting to be a pain, so it was time.  We found a weekend that everyone was available, and we got together to build.

You know how I feel about building by now, I think.  I JUST LOVE IT!!!!  If I can build, I am happier than anyone on the planet.  I LOVE building.  It is my life.  I woke up that morning with new purpose, thinking, "Yes!  Today I add some OTHER thing to this property.  Joy!  Happy Day!"

Then I did a little happy dance of bliss, scattering flower petals to the winds.

And when I woke up, I remembered that no, I really don't like to build after all.


But it was still goat house building day, and luckily, I do have quite a few family members who DO like to build, and are actually quite good at it, so I was safe.  All I had to do was follow directions.

That I can handle.

My brother and his girlfriend, both engineers, came down from their house in Albany to help.  My brother is the one who designed the house, and let me tell you, if a tornado hits, I'm going to sit in the goat house.  That thing is NEVER going to come down.  It's a wonder.

The first thing he and his girlfriend did was figure out the base, and level it, because nothing on this property is level. 

I was very helpful at this point and watched.  After a while, my mom and I started building, so the base was finally level, we could put the walls up.  It went from the above picture.... this in a couple of hours.  Then everyone, especially my brother, had to come and kick it a little and see how sturdy it was and make sure it was square and level.

Which, quite honestly, is the sign of an amateur, because as those of us "expert" builders know, it's much harder to build something that's not square or level.  I know, because I do it all the time.  You have to be a real pro to build something that's slanting out of whack.  But, we can't all be as good as me. 

Anyway, my brother cut the roof rafters, we put them up, and then we started siding it.  Then it looked like this:


Then it was time to stop and take pictures and then clean up, because it was past dinner time and we were all beat.

I'm pretty sure every one of us collapsed into bed that night after everyone had gotten home. 

The next day, my husband and I finished closing it in.  It now looks like this:

Le goat house
Dum da da dum dum DUM!!!!

Like the blue tarp on the roof?  The roofing was special order, so it's sheeted, but not finished.  The roof will be done separately.

Other than some paint and trim and roof and adding the windows, the house is done and the girls are moved in.  Do they like it?

I don't know.  Two out of the three now have diarrhea, though, so maybe?  Possibly that's a goat's seal of approval?  Christening their new digs?  They're not talking.

So Chicken Scratch had it's own barn raising, and with many, many thanks to my brother, his girlfriend, my mom and dad and my husband, there's a beautiful new goat house standing where there once was none.

And I'm glad it's over. 

The end.
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Friday, May 18, 2012


A few days ago was Peter's last day on Earth.  As you might remember, Peter was not a good rooster.  He attacked me, attacked my kids, was generally a nasty guy.  That was why he didn't get a leg band way back when.  Well, after his last brush with death, he stopped being aggressive for about three days.  We thought that maybe, just maybe we'd scared him straight.  Ha!  Three days came and went, and he was back at it.

In fact, he became more aggressive, and "offing" Pete got higher and higher on my list.  But it's not something I truly enjoy, you know, so I didn't try very hard to catch him, or I would find an excuse.  I freely admit that.  But this week he attacked again and this time drew blood.  Mama had had it.

So rest in peace, Peter.  I hope you find happiness in that chicken coop in the sky.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mr. Bird Goes to Dinner

Wait, no... that's a lie.  This isn't THE Mr. Bird.  It's one of the other Mr. Birds from processing day Saturday.  We had him on Sunday.

In retrospect, I probably should have put some parsley around him or something to dress him up.  This is how he looked fresh from the oven.

Oh well, live and learn.  Five minutes later he looked like this, I guess it doesn't matter much.

Mr. Bird was served with a honey and orange glaze (which is why he's so dark), and flavored with lavender and sage and some other things I can't remember.

Mr. Bird was delicious. 

Mr. Bird was not mushy or tough--both complaints I have heard from others who have raised Cornish Cross.

Mr. Bird was moist and wonderful.

Mr. Bird tasted like chicken.  It's shocking how you can think other chickens taste like chicken until you eat a real chicken and you realize you've been wrong for ALL these years.

Yep, we'll be doing this again.  The new batch is shipping on Monday.
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