Friday, July 6, 2012

Weeding, feeding, riding, spinning and sharing.........

Well, we survived another HOT day yesterday.  Today is supposed to be the last scorcher for a while so let’s drag our bottoms through this day and hope the weather man is right!  Dyna, our new horse, is absolutely a dream when it comes to bringing out the hose for cool down time.   She’s a mare which means she's smart enough to realize the cold water is a GOOD thing.  Willie takes it for just a moment and Charlie says NO WAY.  Both Reign and Icee are learning that the hose is a good thing (Reign more so than Icee), but both take full advantage of their pools.   The goats have been doing well so far, however I have been keeping a closer eye on Blossom as she seems to be a bit lethargic.  I have three goats that are dehorned, and she happens to be one of them.  Horns help dissipate heat.  The pigs (including the piglets) are in their pool constantly.  When I dump the pool to refresh the water I dump it into their wallow so they have a pool AND a mud bath.    They seem to adore both!

The garden this year is really doing very well compared to last year.  I think that the pigs were an amazing help with the weed control.   I still have LOTS of “Cheeseweed” (a type of Mallow) that is everywhere in the garden.  Luckily the pigs and chickens love to eat it.  I’ve been pretty diligent about weeding this year just so I can feed them to the pigs and chickens!  It’s been much easier as there are no tall grasses (pigs got ALL those roots).   The Cheeseweed and Pigweed pull up very easily so I like that too. The Lamb’s Quarters has been growing VERY well in the garden and although it is a very edible weed I have yet to allow its cultivation (takeover?) within my garden.  However once again, it seems to be a plant that the pigs and chickens relish.   

 I love the raised beds and won’t be without them again. With the raised beds my spinach, radishes and beets have thus far been a SCREAMING success.   I need more beds next year so I can do a bit more succession planting……I am currently waiting for another batch of radishes.   The peas are doing great too, would have been better had I NOT pulled up half a dozen earlier in the year while weeding, I suppose I got a little too zealous.   I am surprised at how well the peas are doing even with this heat.  So far my cabbage and broccoli seems to be doing well also.  The brussel sprouts, perhaps not so well.  The zucchini and summer squash are about as tall as me (okay SLIGHT exaggeration, but they ARE at least to my belly button!!)  I have a few heirloom squash as well that are about the same height.  The cucumbers are beginning their climb up the fence (finally).   Potatoes are doing VERY well, I'm glad I did double the towers this year.  I lost one complete tower to a chicken nesting in it....and I didn't even actualy see her go broody, she just made a nest and laid her eggs.   I am hoping that I get a dehydrator soon, I love to can  - but I REALLY loved having all the dehyrdrated tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs, potatoes and apples this winter.  They seem to be a bit more "true" to texture and flavor than canned.   The three sisters are getting along great, although I think something may have eaten quite a bit of Sister Pole bean.   Perhaps she is just a slower growing variety, but she just seems a little “sickly” to me.  Sister Corn definitely could have used her support the other night during the storm as a few were toppled over due to the wind!!   I’ve been doing my best to weed within the Three Sisters patch, but I think that yesterday may have to be my last day.  It’s THICK in there.  The pumpkins are taking off like wildfire and should begin smothering out the weeds more and more each day anyhow.   I think next year I will try a different type of pole bean as I’m not too impressed with these.  Either that or I should have done as instructed and waited another week to plant Sister Squash?   I’m afraid we may not have any pole beans if the pumpkins smother them as well as the weeds.  The herb garden isn’t faring as well as the vegetable garden and the Three Sisters patch.  With the herbs being much shorter than vegetables, it doesn’t take much for the weeds to overpower them.  The bindweed is the worst!  I may have to rethink and/or upgrade my weeding program for the herbs next year unless I prefer eating Cheeseweed to eating spearmint and cilantro. 

Pest control in the garden this year hasn’t been too bad.   Last year the garden was SO full of weeds the Rose Chafers were drawn to the thick thatch and devoured my purple beans.  This year they DID hit the radish tops pretty hard, but left my beans pretty much alone.  There weren’t any tiny apples on the trees so they didn’t have those to munch on.  However they did wipe out my poplar tree again and hit my cherry and peach tree leaves aggressively too.  Strawberries were pretty well wiped out by them.   My large patch of Comfrey up by the house was a pretty big loss, but the one in the flower garden and the long row out by the road were practically unscathed.    Since I plan on drying quite a bit of Comfrey this year to use as a winter feed supplement for the pigs and chickens, I was glad that the majority made it through.   

Some of our hay has been put up for winter….only a SMALL fraction but we are getting there.  My goal this year is to put up 1500 bales of hay in the loft.  We are at 250 (see SMALL fraction).  We still have over 25 acres to hay.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we at least get 1000 bales of hay from those fields.  After that I’m hoping that we get one more field to hay…..we are working on a 10 acre field that MIGHT become available in late August or early September.   However that hay won’t be the best quality being cut so late.  We did a VERY late cutting last year in an overgrown field and just doubled up the amount we fed when using it. It seemed to work well as our horses came through winter in good condition.  Belle was a bit thin, but we had her teeth done the end of May and are pretty sure that was her biggest issue, not hay quality. 

Today I remembered something from my days of heavy trail riding – solid dark horses are a HUGE draw for horse (deer?) flies.   When I had my wonderful awesome Fire I had limited problems with flies.  He was a lovely leopard appaloosa so his profile was broken up unlike a solid colored dark horse.   On the other hand when I rode my Arab, Al, a solid colored dark bay – he and I were eaten alive this time of year. Charlie, the buckskin, gets minimal fly action while Willie seems to be somewhat of a bug magnet, but Dyna?   She is a bug SUPER magnet!!   Poor girl was swarmed by them today.   I gave her first choice of barn space and a bale of hay so she wouldn’t be eaten alive.  At least she stands great for fly spray.  I can’t wait for this heat to break so we can take this sweetheart out on the trails.  How in the world am I going to ride two great horses now?  Hopefully Greg will take her out sometimes.  Even though he has Charlie, it is nice to get on one sometimes that is so well broke to remind you of what you are working towards…..that awesome relaxed ride!!

I let The Boys out to graze with all the girls for just a bit again this morning.  Nitro is getting much more “aware” of the girls.  Spyder just wants to eat.  Demon likes the girls and is curious, but doesn’t have near the libido yet that Nitro is displaying.   Of course no matter how attracted to the girls Nitro is, he is still a momma’s boy!!  A bit of a scare and he runs right back to me with a “save me” look on his face…..big chicken!!  Demon likes to stay by Nitro; they are best buds so far.  Spyder is much more independent and is more than happy to graze on his own.   However once I pick him up for something he melts right in my arms.  I’ve never had a cuddlier goat!!  He just rests his head on my shoulder.   I really can wait to see what these three awesome boys put on the ground next year. 

Speaking of boys, I found out I have THREE silkie roosters and ONE silkie hen.  **sigh**  Anybody interested in one or two silkie roosters? 
I have the use of an old “Great Wheel” or “Walking Wheel" from my uncle-in-law.   I have gotten it all set up and although I have some nice dog hair from Reign to spin, I am going to wait and learn on something easier than dog hair.   I was told that dog hair is a bit harder to learn on as it is slipperier than wool or mohair would be.   I’m getting excited about learning the art of spinning.  I have never learned to knit, but an old friend of mine taught me to crochet YEARS ago.  It’s been awhile, but I bet I still remember how.   Hmmm where is that crochet hook? 

And lastly I want to mention that on July 14th, 2012 from 9am until 1pm we will be hosting a free goat basics seminar.  We will be hauling goats into the Cadillac, MI Tractor Supply Company.   This seminar is free to the public and will run about an hour long.  It will run approximately three times in its entirety.  We are hoping to cover the following topics: 
1) General Feed and nutrition
2) Pasture/fence requirements  
3) Breeds of goats ( the following breeds will be represented either in crosses or purebreds : Kiko, Boer, Myotonic, Angora/Cashmere, Saanen, Lamancha)  No in depth breed discussions at this time just touching base on the pet, meat, fiber and dairy sides of owning goats.
4) Basic health care and maintenance.  We are NOT veterinarians nor do we have the experience or training to diagnose or treat your animals.  We recommend that any time you are unsure of what may be wrong with your animal that you consult your local veterinarian.  However we will cover some common goat illnesses and deficiencies. 
5) Hands on demonstrations involving hoof trimming, administering oral medications, harvesting fiber, milking, and identifying the parts of a goat.  (This may vary in each segment of the demonstration)

We look forward to seeing you there!! 

I suppose I should get going and put the finishing touches on my outline for the seminar.  Today is one of those great days for working on the computer in the AC.

Until next time…….


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