Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First Snow

We had our first snow a few days ago, it was about half an inch, and the goats and puppies sure had fun playing in it.   Frozen water buckets and rabbit bottles were extra work, along with hauling hot water out to the goats and chickens and thawing frozen hoses.  Fortunately the snow didn't affect the roads into town.   You can see in the picture above that we have our herd of 5 goats going into winter.  Snowdrop is the newest goat we have, she's a little 4 month old white Nigerian Dwarf doeling, she came here about a month ago.  The goats have added both fun and work into our lives, along with milk, and lots of wonderful compost material.  We are working on fencing and I spent the day cleaning out their goat barn and filled it with fresh dry straw.  I've also spent time everyday studying the goats and watching for signs of being in heat. I have a record for both Zolena and Joon and their last dates in heat, and am waiting for Jersey to come back into heat, somehow I must have missed her last one.  We've already tried to have Joon bred once, but I think our timing was off by a day. 
The puppies are growing so fast, they're 6 weeks old now.  This morning they all followed me out to milk right along with their Mom.  Summer loves the routine with all the farm animals, and  goes with me whenever I head out to the barn, now I can tell the puppies will love going out with us too.  They were fascinated to watch the chickens and goats, Zolena just carefully stepped around them and jumped onto the milking stand.  Goats and dogs once they get to know each other, get along quite well. 
 This is Rhododendron  Ridge Sparkling "Snowdrop",  her father is Pecan Hollow Bronze Snapdragon, and mom is Calico Creek Meadow Bluebell.  Her mom Bluebell has a gorgeous udder, and her father has good udder genetics as well.  Snowdrop was the first goat I put money down on over the summer, she wasn't even born, and I went to see her mother, and put a deposit on a doeling, not even knowing if she'd have one.  We had to wait for her to be born, then wait 3 months until she was old enough to come here to Applegarth.  We have all just fallen in love with her, and her sweet personality, and so have the goats.
Exploring and playing, Josie happy and smiling.
Stormy, Jersey, and Snowdrop all munching on some douglas fir greens.  We took down several trees last week for the fence line and the goats love to eat the tips of them.  The goats are interesting to watch all the things they eat, moss on trees, various ferns, dried leaves (chips),  bark, and of course any edible berry bush.  They are more deer like and will leave the grass as a last resort. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

flying South

On my way home from work last weekend I had my camera with me and stopped to take a picture of the gorgeous sunset I was witnessing.  As I looked up to take the picture there was a flock of geese in formation flying South for the winter.  Everyday we can see them flying overhead, going South to warmer weather.  I got back in my car and headed up our hill, and halfway up I had to take another picture so you could see the mountains silhouetted in the sunset. 

Cornish Cross and a chicken tractor

The Cornish Cross meat birds are all feathered out at 4 weeks old, and gaining weight rapidly.  They eat heartily, and are drinking loads of water.  I feed and water them several times per day, and plan to keep track of the costs since this is our first time raising meat birds.  Because it's cold (in the 30's) we keep a light on at all times for warmth.  Temporarily we put up a two sided tarp for wind protection, until we get the 3 sided lightweight shelter built.   
We've been wanting a chicken/rabbit tractor for a long time, and like every project began by gathering the materials.  It is designed with 12 foot gate panels, so it's big, 12ft by 12 ft, it has reinforced rabbit wire around the sides.  The top we are still gathering the rest of the metal for the roof.  It will also have a 3 sided simple shelter with a roost and a couple of nesting boxes so we can let the layers be in it too, or if the rabbits are in it they have shelter from wind and rain.  We are planning to build one more so we'll have two that can go all over the upper pasture.  The heavy duty wheels are in the middle on either side, and easily raise up to move it around.  This chicken tractor is an exciting development for our farm to really implement pasture raised animals, that are protected from predators.

3 1/2 weeks old

From left to right, Josie (the one we're keeping :), Sunny (going to a good friend and her family), and Fatolini (a favorite, with a couple of families who are thinking they may want him)
Summer and her puppies in their new whelping box.  The puppies are so playful now, they wrestle and try to run, then they like to crawl all over each other and their mom.   She is still nursing them, and we began a few days ago feeding one meal a day, and now we're up to 3 meals per day of meat and rice.  Their little teeth are all coming in sharp, I'll need to provide chew toys to help them as they teeth. 

I love to sit by the fire and hold the puppies as they snuggle up and make there little grunts and groans that little babies make.  The kids all hold them everyday and love to watch them play, it is such a good and positive experience for our family, and I think Summer is having fun too.

"Little Ace" is so cute!  He's the stud dog owners pick of the litter, and looks just like his father "big Ace".

fall garden

Looking out my bedroom window towards the South, and over-looking my garden.  The vegetables in the garden are winding down rapidly for the year, the low temperatures have been around 38 degrees.  We haven't had a hard killing frost yet, but it will be here soon.  I still have some potatoes, carrots and beets to dig.  We just got a couple bales of straw today, so now I can line a deep hole with straw, cover it with dirt, and plastic for a winter root storage.  In the photo above you can see all my concrete columns for fence posts, hopefully in the next year, in the plans are wooden gates to the garden, there will be four in all, along with a wooden arbor along the left side.  I have hardy kiwi's planted and ready to climb the arbor next year. 
Remember the picture of my warm season crops of squash and pickles, well the warm and sunny month and a half we had was exactly what it all needed to grow.   Not a huge crop of delicata, but enough to enjoy for a dozen meals over the winter. 
Over the summer we had the crane over by the garden and set these stones in a circle for a new fire pit.  We have enjoyed grilling right over the open wood fire, the flavor  imparted to our just picked meals is delicious.  I love the fact that it's just outside my kitchen and deck for outdoor dining and entertaining.
 I just harvested all of my zucchini, and sunburst patty pan squash, we've been enjoying lots of sauteed vegetables and steamed kale as side dishes in our Fall meals. 
tomatillos love our climate, I never plant them, they just come up yearly on their own (like many things do in my garden).  We get a couple large harvests per year and I make salsa verde`.
One of my favorites "Delicata Squash"