Monday, June 4, 2012

Early Summer farm update

Looking out my back door I can see the vegetable garden beyond the patio, it's situated close by so we can easily gather fresh food.  This year we're feeling more self sufficient than we ever have before in our lives, all the hard work is starting to pay off.  We're eating salads from the garden, fresh eggs from our chickens, delicious milk, yogurt, and cheese from our goats, along with our own farm raised chicken meat.  As we walk around our property the salmon berries are ripe, they're the first berries of the season, and we're harvesting loads of rhubarb.  The beautiful spring weather we had during the time the fruit trees were in bloom has resulted in the apple, cherry, pear and plum trees to be loaded with healthy looking young fruit.

Spring is slowly turning into Summer around here, we're at a higher elevation so everything is about 2 weeks behind the valley and town below us.  I still haven't planted out many of my warm season crops except for a few tomatoes and basil on the porch, the rest are still in the cold frame staying covered on cold nights.  The cool season crops like broccoli, kale, peas, potatoes and greens are all doing great!  Note to self, remember I need to set up the trellis for the peas early this year.  The rhubarb has been the best harvest this time of year, I've been making stewed rhubarb and rhubarb pie.  I'll be planting out my warm season crops in a couple weeks as it's still getting down to the high 40's at night, the few pumpkin starts I did put out to test just withered from the cold.  We're having a full moon tonight, so the next couple weeks the moon will be waning and I'll be focusing on planting root crops.  I really do try to plant by the moon, when it's waxing or getting bigger I'll plant above ground crops, when it's waning I'll focus on below ground crops. 

In the farm yard, the goat kids are so much fun and growing up fast, they're curious about everything, and will run, climb, and leap about with such joy and abandon it's a delight to watch.  I was worried about them being aloof because Joon will stand off to the side as everyone else clamors about wanting attention.  She would call her kids to her as if to tell them to keep their distance. We held them and gave them attention from day one, and I decided when they were three weeks old to separate them from Joon and bottle feed them.  She was miserable with this arrangement, the kids were miserable, and so was I.  After 2 days I had a talk with Joon and told her why I was doing this, I wanted her kids to be as friendly as all the other goats, and I wanted her to come around and be friendly too.

A funny thing happened with Joon almost instantly, or perhaps it was with me.  I brought her back in with her kids, and she decided it was time to get over her shyness and let us get near her and pet her.  She has always been friendly with me as I'm the one who feeds and spends the most time with them all.  Joon is a good milker and is great about walking on a lead, it was mostly with the rest of the family that she wouldn't let near her or pet her.  So what I've been doing to get her to be more friendly is to bribe her with food, I started by filling my pockets with lots of good grain, fed from the hand and every time she eats her grain and alfalfa pellets, I literally have her eat from my lap as I pet and scratch her, of course the kids are right there crawling all over me wanting pets and scratches too.  I'm  making sure everyone has grain when they go in to see her.  We've spent loads of time with the kids, holding and loving them, my husband was amazed at what a difference it has made because now she'll even let him go up to her and pet her.  I'm sure she still won't run up to strangers for a pet, but with grain as a treat she is overcoming her shyness.  Last week I let all the goats be together, the babies love to play with Snowdrop and Stormy, and all the goats seem happy.   I'm gearing up for Jersey's kidding, she may be pregnant, but I'm still not sure.  Her udder isn't filling up, but I've read that may not happen until right around the time she gives birth.  Joon's udder filled out several weeks before giving birth.  If Jersey is pregnant, she will give birth around the middle of the month, but we bred her 4 times so time will tell.

Over the last few weeks I haven't written or posted here on my blog, it's not that I haven't wanted to or tried to, I attempted to upload photo's on several different occasions and got frustrated with my extra slow dial up connection.  I never could get the pictures uploaded. I've bemoaned not having high speed internet for years, with dial up you can never watch you tube videos, much less post them, it's hard for me to look at blogs that don't minimize their pictures before they upload them.  Most of the blogs I read and can upload are aware of the fact that they need to minimize their pictures for dial up readers, otherwise it takes around 10 or 15 minutes to upload versus say 2 minutes.  Sometimes I let things upload and go put in a load of laundry or do a few dishes, however it seems that my computer has slowed down even more over the last few months.  I need to clean it up, remove pictures and cookies, do some maintenance and see if that helps.  My dream for this year is to get high speed internet, we had a friend out the other day who tested his verizon cell phone service, he said it's spotty and may not pick up enough signal for a computer connection.  Our main option (because we're in the boonies) is to get a small satellite and use it for the internet.  I could then post videos and easily upload photos.  So, my plan for this summer is to look into the costs associated with getting one, and see if it would work for us... I'm crossing my fingers!!

In other farmyard news, I'll be picking up a couple of American Chinchilla rabbits later this week, a young buck and doe, plus I'll be taking Serendipity our mature doe to get her bred.  The American Chinchilla breed is the one I want to focus on, not that I'm getting rid of our Champagne d' Argents.  I'm just adding a pedigreed buck and doe and getting some new lineage, that way I'll get some nice diversity within my rabbit stock.

The 2 hives of honeybees I installed a month ago are doing well, they need to be fed sugar syrup on a regular basis, and need room to grow this time of year.  Feed them faithfully until the blackberries come into bloom and they'll thrive, between the dandelion/ fruit tree bloom and the blackberry bloom there's a real gap with almost nothing for them to eat, this is the time of year they can starve quickly.  I learned the hard way one year, so I always like to remind new beekeepers to be vigilant about feeding in late May and early June.  If you see any dead bees on the entrance, suspect hunger and put on sugar syrup right away, for us up here so high we have to feed the whole month of June.  The ratio of sugar syrup is 2 parts water 1 part sugar in the Spring.  In the Fall it's a one to one ratio, because you want a thicker syrup.

This spring has been busy for me with my daughters having track practise everyday and meets once a week, work 2 days a week, and in between, I'm in the garden, with the farm animals, cooking, cleaning, and feeding everyone.  My days are full and happy!  I hope that wherever you are, you're having fun and blooming where your planted!


Lisa R. said...

I found your blog about a week ago and have been reading it with so much interest. It's fun when I stumble upon someone who is practically a neighbor (2 counties over) who is serious about sustainable living. We are just getting into it here and it's slow going, but one day I'd like to be far less reliable on the rest of the world for our needs. Anyway, I have really been enjoying the archive and reading about what you and your family have been doing to become self-reliant.

Jewel said...

Thanks Lisa for letting me know that you're close by and that you share some interests in self sufficient living. It's funny that you say it's slow going because that is so true. However, as you keep plugging away at each new thing, it all begins to come together in time. 2 counties over, where are you?

Lisa R said...

I tried to respond to this the other day but I don't think it made it through. I am up in Whatcom County in Bellingham. We have been keeping chickens and ducks for 2 years now for eggs. I have thought about rabbits as well. I was able to put in a garden this year for the first time in 4 years and hope to have enough tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers to can. We always have our own blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries for making jelly. We've started getting all of our meat from a sustainable, organic farm in Skagit county and have switched over to eating sustainable, organic fruites and vegetables that we can get locally as much as possible though I will use west coast grown for some things. We get our flour from the organic flour mill Fairhaven Mill in Skagit as well. It's amazing what I can find close to home with a little research.