Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Informative Post

Ever since I saw those strawberry towers on Pinterest, I've been wanting to build them.  Today I finally got to.

No, they weren't up at the top of my to-do list like the 700 other things, but I thought they would be fun and I really couldn't wait to see how they turned out.  So I got out all my things and built them.  And here's how it went.

First I gathered the PVC stuff I needed.

To do this project, I needed the 4" PVC drainpipe from the ceiling of the garage-barn, two 4" joiners (that would join lengths of pipe together), two end cappy things with holes in them (like drains) that fit inside the joiner things, two 1 1/2" PVC pipes, and some pipe cement. 

I know....this is all very technical....with a lot of jargon...bear with me.

Then I got my drill out and attached a 2" hole saw to it.  I was pretty pleased with that, so I figured I should use it to drill some holes.

And I did.

I just followed the holes that were already there and made them bigger.  I made 20 holes in each length of pipe, since that's what was there already, and who am I to mess with success?  Besides, I had 40 strawberry plants, so 20 and 20 is good (because that equals 40, you know). 

When the pipes were all drilled, they looked like this:

Pretty nice, right? 

Then I put some cement around the drainer thingys, and inserted them into the pipe-joiner thingys.  When they were stuck together (in 3 seconds), I put some cement around the bottoms of the pipes and inserted them into the other side of the pipe joiner thingys.  Basically creating a long pipe on a base with a screen at the bottom.  The screen is, of course, so the dirt doesn't fall out of the bottom of the pipe, because that would be stupid.

I then took the 1 1/2" pipe and drilled smaller random holes in it all over the place.  This pipe is going to go inside the other pipe to act like a watering system, so the holes  have to be all the way up and down the pipe, so all the plants get watered.  Then I inserted the little pipe into the big pipe like so:

And I was pretty pleased with that, and thought, "What the heck?  Might as well go all the way with this."  So I did.  I took the pipe concoction outside and filled them with a heckofalot of dirt.  All the way to the almost top, making sure the watering pipe was sort of centered in the bigger pipes as I filled them.  Then I poked a bunch of holes in the dirt with my fingers and crammed a strawberry plant into each one.  Then I topped the top off with dirt, and stood back to look at my handiwork.

....and I think it looks like pipes stuffed with a bunch of dead octopuses (octopi?).  But whatever.  They hopefully will not look like that forever.  I did test the watering pipes, and they do work beautifully and the water seems to be reaching all the plants, but time will tell.  Also, I think I still need to mount them to something, as I have nowhere to hang them, but I'm still thinking about that.  Whatever it is will have to be sturdy.  I may just stick them in a flowerpot full of dirt and flowers.  But that might fall down.'s a work in progress.

Total cost for these beauties?  $15 for both, not counting the potting soil, which you can't count, because it's something that you'd have to use no matter what.  So for $7.50 piece, I have hopefully created some vertical growing space.  The price would be a bit higher if I had to buy the PVC, and I did price it out it out just to see, and I came up with about $8 for 10' of the 4" wide pipe.  So that would be a total of $23 for both, if I had to buy all of it.  Not bad.  Especially considering that they would be 5' tall, and I could have made the holes closer together and shoved more in them.

Interestingly enough, I was looking at vertical gardening ideas after I finished this, and I found these:

HE-LLO!  They are $40 for a 21" planter.  What a savings on my part!!  But these do come in nifty colors, and mine don't.  I guess I could have spray painted them if I had wanted to--don't think it didn't occur to me.  Even though, I think mine are more elegant.

....maybe not.

So we see how this goes.  I think the biggest issue is going to be drying out and possibly heating up and cooking the poor plants, but that just means I'll have to worry about about placement so that doesn't happen.  There will be more on this, I can tell.  What an experiment.

Now that I've kicked this one off the list, I'm feeling all jazzed about vertical growing, and I want to try the raingutter gardens next.  That's another super cheap one, and looks like a neat idea.  Hopefully it works.

Until next time, I leave you with pictures of goatie cuteness.

Maxwell is becoming such a boy, and has learned the joy of butting.  Just gently, but there it is.  For the last few days I have been able to look down and see this:

He's very earnest about it, and does it to anyone.

Till next time!!

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Monday, March 25, 2013

The Non-Boring Post

Once upon a time, there was a crazy farmer lady who lived on a small homestead in NY.

She had chickens and ducks, geese and rabbits and goats, and was very happy. 

Then one day she got to thinking
Yes, I really do look that tired.  I wanted this true to life. 
If you look in the back on the right upper corner, you'll see Lilly and Minerva eating the tree they're not supposed to eat.

"Hmmm...," she thought, "Stewart is going to have to move out of the girls' pen next month.  He's the only male and will be all alone.  Though I enjoy his bellowing, I think he's going to go nuts and be lonely.  I need to find another male."

Please don't let me be lonely!!
So the crazy farmer lady started to make arrangements to take a buckling from her friend, if her girls had one.  The crazy farmer lady had been helping her friend out a lot and spent hours and hours doing things for her, so the crazy farmer lady's friend wanted to give her a goat to thank her.  Of course, the crazy farmer lady did not object, because being paid in goats is awesome. 

Anyway, the crazy farmer lady's friend's goats did not have a boy.  They had girl after girl after girl.  And the crazy farmer lady was still worried, because Stewart was still going to be alone.

"Hmm...," thought the crazy farmer lady, "I think I'm going to have to take matters into my own hands."

Spoiler alert!

"I think I'm going to have to find a male on my own!"

And so the crazy farmer lady looked and looked and finally found a male that was a pure Alpine, born on March 17th. 

So the crazy farmer lady went to look at him and discovered that he wasn't alone.  There were three of them!  But the crazy farmer lady had to choose--she only needed one male.  Of the three, one looked just like Minerva, so that ruled him out, because she liked variety.  Another was white and brown and black and spunky and wild and crazy, and the last was his brother, white and brown and black and kinda quiet and had a little trouble with his legs.

"Hmmmm...," thought the crazy farmer lady as she looked them over, "The smart money would be to pick the wild and spunky and crazy one, because he's running around like a loon, and will be a great herdsire, which is what I want.  I don't want to take the boy who needs a little extra TLC."

But the crazy farmer lady isn't called the crazy farmer lady for nothing, and is in fact a total sucker.  So when the quiet little boy with the little leg trouble came and sat on her lap and sucked on her finger, the crazy farmer lady totally caved in.

And brought him home.

And named him Maxwell.

And she splinted his front legs with tape so he wouldn't knuckle on his fetlocks, and she boosted his selenium, gave him some Probios, and called it good.  And three days later, he had straightened his legs and started to skibble, so the crazy farmer lady pronounced him healed.

But in the meantime....

The little boy of the house (not the goat, the human) got very very sick.  Ambulance sick.  Hospital sick.  And the crazy farmer lady got a bit crazier with worry, because her little boy was so sick.  And Maxwell didn't understand why the crazy farmer lady wasn't spending as much time with him, but the lady was doing the best she could. 

Then the little boy's cat died.

And the crazy farmer lady felt completely helpless and lost a LOT of sleep. 

But then after a little time, the little boy started to feel better, and the crazy farmer lady started to worry slightly less, and quite frankly, had to get out of the house for a while, so she went to see her friend again and help out.  And she spent some time outside with the babies that were there, and played with them and there was one in particular who was being extremely feisty, and well, the lady has always liked feisty.

And the lady's friend still wanted to give her a goat, even though it would be a female.

And the crazy farmer lady thought that maybe, just maybe, a little tiny goat would be a nice pick-me-up for her sick little boy, since Maxwell had become quite attached to her, and didn't really pay attention to the little boy.  Maybe a little tiny girl goat would get attached to her little boy, and make him feel better.

So the crazy farmer lady agreed. 
And brought home another goat.
And named her Cynthia.

And Cynthia is everything that Maxwell is not.

She is tiny,

And black as tar,

And whereas Maxwell has ears,

Cynthia has none to speak of.

And where Maxwell is careful and timid,
Cynthia is a "go get 'em" kinda girl.

But she's rubbing off on Max, and they are the best of friends.

Even though they both wear their diapers a little differently,

they can still both fit on the same lap.

And the best part?  Cynthia loves the little boy, and screams like a banshee when he goes away.

And the little boy is happy (even though she's not a cat).

And the crazy farm lady is very happy, too.

The End.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Boring Post

Today I passed a two family house on my travels.  You know the ones with the two doors, one per family?   It brought to mind something my son told me the other day.

"Ma?", he said, "You know what would be neat?  If us and Mema and Papa (his grandparents), and Uncle Chris and Sarah and Uncle Greg could all live together in one of those houses with all the doors."

It took me a while to understand what he meant, thinking he meant we should all live in the same house, which would not be a good idea, to understanding that he wanted us to live in a big house that was like little houses all stuck together, ie: a three or four family home.  Of course, his little boy frustration showed, and he got pretty ticked off that I did not understand him, but when I finally did, I said it might be neat, but in a way more to placate him and get him to stop growling at me than anything else.

However, as I drove past the two family house this morning, I started to think that it really wouldn't be a bad idea to have a whole family living kind of all clumped together.  The children of the family could kind of be raised by everyone, and everyone could look out for one another.

Am I signing up for this anytime soon?  Well, no.  My family isn't a family of farmers, so there wouldn't be a whole lot of pitching in in that respect, but I know I could count on them to help with the kids.  But I see the appeal of having extended family living together in that way, which I never did before.  Possibly I'm just getting mellow as I get older.  Or just more of a hippie. 

It snowed again yesterday, and schools were closed.  I got nothing done outside, and as there is still lots of snow on the ground today, it might be the same story.  I am supposed to plant spinach tomorrow, but there's no way that's going to happen right now.  I am happy to say, however, that the seeds of many things were planted last week indoors are percolating away in their little trays.  Every day I look for green, and when I find it, it makes me happy.

Planted right now?  Broccoli and tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, perennials and petunias.  They are all housed on this:

Which is a gigundigo shelf thing my mom built and gave to me because she doesn't grow vegetables anymore and doesn't need the space.  It has three shelves and three lights, and is completely fantastic.  It has quickly become one of my prized possessions and I love it because it holds SO many trays at a time.  It was a wonderful gift.

The little eggs in the incubator seem to be doing well as well, and when candled last Thursday, all proved fertile.  One had died, but it left 11 very viable eggs behind.  Those are incubating away, and will be checked again tomorrow for growth.  Then it'll soon be time to shut off the egg turner and wait for those babies to hatch.  It will be nice to hear peeping once again in the garage barn.

Speaking of, I ordered hybrid birds from the feed store this year, which are due in today.  I love my heritage breeds, but they utterly failed me this winter, producing no eggs at all many days.  Their production is again beginning to skyrocket, but I can't be without eggs during the winter.  So I am turning to the Leghorns and the Australorps to provide me with year-round eggs.  The brooder will be busy again soon.

I was looking around on the Internet the other day, and I stumbled across these:

I think they were probably on Pinterest or something, but HELLO!  Where has that been all my life???  Strawberries planted in PVC tubes.  Genius!  They were originally designed to be part of an aquaponics system, as I understand it, but as I have no aquaponics system set up, I will use dirt.  Other people have done the same and seemingly planted other things in there besides strawberries.  I love this idea, and as we were gifted with a crudload of drainage pipe PVC by the previous owners of this house (just hanging up in the garage rafters), I can do it cheaply.  The only issue I can see is that they could not be permanent.  The winters are too cold, and that PVC will not insulate the plants enough.  Therefore, I will have to design them to be able to be taken into the garage in the winter.  Not a big stumbling block that I can see, but it will take a little thought.  But seriously, anything that can grow more crops in a smaller amount of space is great.  I think vertical gardening is the bees' knees.

On the goat front, Cleo seems no worse for wear after her episode the other day.  She has had no more discharge and is acting just fine.  I need to get a hold of a stethoscope and get on her side and listen and see if I hear anything going on in there.  Either she's miscarried everything she had, or, it's my understanding that she could possibly only miscarry one if she had more than one kid in there.  I'd like to be optimistic about it, I really would.  I would like to have a listen and see if I can hear any heartbeats at all.  Her rear end is still telling me nothing. 

Minerva is getting really big, which is really something.  She looks like she's carrying two big water sacks on either side, and it's getting kind of funny.  Her attitude stinks, and she's cranky as hell.  Completely understandable though, as she's got three months left and she's already grown so much.  Poor bubba.  I have a feeling she's going to be huge.

Lilly goes merrily along.  She's getting slightly bigger, and her attitude has always stunk, so that's no help at all.  Now she's added disobedience to the pot, though, so that's been a change. 

Actually, that could go for all my girls.  They've all decided not to listen to me.  I yell at them, and they look at me like "Yeah?  What're YOU going to do about it???".    They are feisty.  I like that.  Not so much when it's time for them to go into their house at night and they all run away, but I do like a little feisty in my animals.  Shows that they're thinking.

Dulci has seemingly lost her mucous plug, which should make me believe that she's definitely pregnant, but I'm still having a hard time believing her.  Don't ask me why.  It could be that she's put me on before about other things, and so I always think she's fibbing, or it could be that she's such trouble sometimes.  Either way, she is not getting big, but she's definitely shedding mucous of some sort.  Add to that that she was laying like the dead outside the other day--to the point where I thought she WAS dead--and I'd say that babies are coming in May as expected.  Maybe I have such a problem with it because she was my little bottle baby, and my little bottle baby is having a baby, and I'm having some sort of motherly crisis.  But I  really should just put on my big girl panties and get over it. 

Ok, so maybe this post wasn't so boring after all.  However, there are some things coming down the pipe really soon that are going to be insanely big.  So stay tuned!  You won't want to miss it!

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Best Laid Plans....

This morning, I got up slightly earlier than usual, and did my hair.  I put on a little makeup, and got out my best dress.

You see, I was going to a funeral.  A funeral for my soon-to-be sister in law's father.  It was up in Boston, and I was going to pay my respects, and give comfort to my brother and almost sister-in-law.  It was going to be long day, but my husband was here to handle the farm and the kids, and I was looking forward to a day out, even though it was not under the best of circumstances.

Before I got all prettied up, though, I put on my farmy clothes to feed the animals.  Chickens?  Check.  Geese and ducks?  Check.  Rabbits?  Check.  Goats?  Check.

Everyone was bright eyed and happy and hungry, and I went about getting water and hay for the goats as I normally do, thinking I would get done quickly and then go get dressed and be on my way.

Or not.

As I put the hay in the outdoor feeder for the goats, I saw Stewart sniffing Cleo's rear end.  That's nothing new--Stewart is a conoisseur of does' rear ends--so I thought nothing of it.  But then I went to pat her and give her a snuzzle and, well,  take a look.

That can't be good.  I looked again

I hoped that maybe it was from Stewart.  He loves to jump Cleo, so I thought maybe he had a booboo on his parts and it was from him.  I checked (he DID NOT mind--what a male he is!), but no.  Then for a second, I stupidly optimistically hoped that maybe she'd cut her tail.  But I knew I was fooling myself.  Is there any woman who honestly doesn't know what that kind of blood looks like?  We know it's not injury blood--I knew.  Cleo is miscarrying.

I went inside to decide what to do.  Go to the funeral, be out until late at night, and let nature take it's course was my first thought, but what if something bad happens?  What if she crashes?  My husband is in no way prepared to deal with this.  He barely knows what to feed everyone.  Should I take the chance anyway?  Leave him with the number of a friend I trusted, who might be able to help out, just in case?  It would be my luck to be in Massachusetts with Cleo going into some sort of shock and dying. 

So I went back out, trying to decide, only deciding to look again and see what I thought, and there was fresh blood on Cleo's parts.  That decided it.  I called everyone and apologized.

So Miss Cleo is in the garage barn in a pen, bleeding away a bit, but otherwise acting like she's not got a care in the world.

La lala la la lala!  I like hay!!!!

Hopefully, she stays that way.  She looks a little peaky to me, but that's really all I can say.  She's eating like a pig, and standing and walking about fine.  I don't know what I'm expecting to see her do; probably not much.  She's only 5 or so weeks along, so there's not much in there to see, I think.  Maybe some ooze, blood, I'm not sure if there's any tissue in there resembling a goat at this point, even.  I am nearly positive that this was caused by the headbutting that she gets from everyone all the time.  She's the bottom of the pile, my Cleo, and she gets beat on by everyone.  My guess is that little Dulcinea finally landed one just right and that did it.  Dulci is extremely jealous of Cleo and beats on her when I pay her the slightest bit of attention.  Girls!!!

And that's the news.  I am home today, watching and waiting, and going about my normal routine otherwise.  I think Cleo will be fine, and I hope I'm right.  I just have to wait for her to do whatever she is going to do, and then put her back out with the others.  And that's farm life for you, isn't it?  Not exactly convenient.  But, on the bright side, my hair looks darn purty!  :)

UPDATED TO ADD:  She did pass a goob a bit after 10 o'clock this morning.  I thought she was peeing, but pee wasn't what came out.  It was a very small something, whatever it was.   She is still "leaking" a bit this afternoon, but she's still perky as ever, and she ate like a horse.  She's just being kind of careful about her back end, which is understandable. 

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Thursday, March 14, 2013


So I never did tell you how maple sugaring turned out.

In a nutshell, it went well.  I pulled the taps last week and sugared off one final time, and wound up with 6 quarts and 1 pint of maple syrup, plus some uncounted amount that we used up.

Not bad from 29 taps, starting too late, and doing the sugaring on an outdoor turkey cooker.  Next year, things may be different, but I won't let on about that yet, until I know for sure.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a few pictures of the 6 week old "babies" in the house.

Collette at the feeder, which is where she likes to be, Pickle and Roy laying behind her

Roy is sleepy!

Collette, being interrupted in her meal
They are still getting a very little milk, but that's just about done.  I think the last time they'll get it will be Saturday, and then no more.  They eat the pellets and drink the water without a problem, and today I saw them eating hay.  They do love the milk, though, but they have less patience for it now.  They are raring to go, and don't want to stand still too long, even to drink milk.

They're not allowed to roam the house, but they are occasionally let out in the bathroom to run, because it's easy to clean.  I think Pickle would make an excellent house bunny, but I still have to convince my husband of that.  Either way, Pickle and Collette will be staying with us.  Roy, I'm afraid, will be sold when he's old enough.  I just don't have enough room to keep them all, much to my son's chagrin.  I can justify 1 black bunny, but two is a stretch.  Also joining Roy on the "sale block" will probably be Timothy, which is one of the bunnies from Bella's last litter.  He's a wonderful boy, also black, but he's no fiber bunny.  Despite the fact that he's half English Angora and half Jersey Woolie, he's got no usable hair to speak of.  Unfortunately, I can afford to feed only who can produce, and it's not him.  I am thankful, though, that my daughter is keeping Alexander as a pet, who is another from Bella's litter.  At least we'll have a little someone from that wonderful experience.

These decisions are hard, and not my favorite, but what can you do?  It's a part of the lifestyle.  I know that I'm going to have a much harder time selling the goat kids when it's time, but it'll still have to be done.


I think I'll go snuggle a bunny or two.

Be well!
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Monday, March 11, 2013

In My Mind

This made me laugh

Disclaimer:  Not my children. 
Oh,, they are. 

My children had a snow day Friday, and spent quite a while stuffing pillows in their clothing to make big bellies and butts, and then hamming it up for the camera.

Fun fun.

This made me groan

The Scotts "Snap Pac" fertilizer system.  Sigh.  And yuck.

Miracle Gro Gro-ables.  Like a coffee pod, but with seeds.  Yippee!  Sigh again.

This kept me busy

Disclaimer:  Not my tree.

We took down trees this weekend, to make way for the bucks' pen.  As of right now, there's only one buck, Stewart, and I'm worried.  He's not going to take being alone well.  He's very possessive of "his girls" and he looks for them constantly.  I had a line on a buck from a friend, but she wound up not having any bucks born (don't count your bucks before they birth, you could say).  My other friend has offered up a buckling of hers, if her girl gives her one.  It would be in payment for helping her out with her goats, though I've told her it's not necessary, and I would pay for him.  She insisted.  I hope her girl has a boy, or Stewart's going to be beside himself when he moves out in May.

Yes, I've come to the place in my life where I will take goats and chickens as payment.  And you know what?  I'm glad.  I wouldn't have it any other way. 

This made me think

One of the churches around here usually has interesting sayings on it's sign.  This time it was:
"What goes down in the well, comes up in the bucket".

Food for thought.
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