Saturday, June 20, 2009

Down Side of Farming

We finally had 5 turkey poults hatch out yesterday only to lose 4 of them to a damn raccoon last night. I was so psyched to post about the success today and even got some photos last evening. There was no sign of the rest of the babies, but there was the unmistakable sign of coon scat. Grrrrrrrr.

We lost our first goat this spring as well. Poor little Cocoa, on top of the truck cap in the photo, was down one morning when Jim went out to feed everyone. Her pupils were fixed and dilated and she was having convulsions. I was positive she'd been poisoned somehow, because it was so sudden, but I just couldn't figure out how. I scoured the area they'd been and couldn't find any sign of diarrhea or vomiting, which would've been likely with some of the known problem plants. But nothing, and this was fast.

The other day, I think I found my answer in the potato patch. Loco jimsonweed. I could be wrong, but the symptoms certainly fit. Goats are usually really good about not eating things that are poisonous to them as long as they have plenty of other browse and grass. I'm not sure how or why she ate it, as they'd been rotated to a fresh paddock. It was young when she ate it, but she was tiny, so it wouldn't have taken much.

I don't think I would have identified it without the telltale flower, and the plants in the pasture never mature enough to flower before being mowed. I knew we had some horse nettle and some other nightshade, which is what I thought this was, I'm sure, but there's a distinct difference in the flower. After doing some research, I found that supposedly the drought we had a couple years back brought this plant back into prominence regionally. One more weed id under my belt, but at what a cost.

At any rate, losing animals is the down side of farming, and I really hate this part.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whipping Cream, Whipping Gardens

Whipping gardens back into shape, that is. I was on a tear yesterday and got so much done, and it felt so good! My energy levels have been kinda low lately between my allergies and cold of some sort I think, though it all just blended together. It felt great to really accomplish a lot.

My day started around 5:45 am with coffee, morning news reading, email and facebook play. Before going out to milk I got 3 pounds of butter made and kneaded bread dough for its first rise. I even got the kitchen mostly cleaned up. Then I went out to milk and feed the animals. Came back in to process the milk.

The rest of the day was spent trying to catch up on garden work that's been put off because of all the rain we were having. The ground finally dried out enough this weekend to get a tiller in the gardens and take care of some of the weeds and prep the soil for new plantings where I ripped out old.

Knowing the rain was coming again, I was a planting fool! We have another week of rain in the forecast, so I got as much in as possible. I planted the Amish paste tomatoes that had been languishing in seed flats. I don't know how they'll do at this point, but they've gotta be happier in the ground than in the seed tray. Here's the final tally:

  • around 75 Amish paste tomatoes
  • around 15 or so nasturtium plants
  • half a row each of parsley, basil, and dill seedlings
  • seeded half a row of cilantro
  • 2 rows of edamame
  • 3rd and final planting of sweet corn
  • several rows of dent corn
  • ~40 lbs of seed potatoes, the last yukon golds
  • scattered amaranth seeds
  • scattered insectary herb seeds
  • 1 row of moon and stars watermelon
  • 1 row of strawberry watermelon
  • 1 row of Hale's best muskmelon
  • 1 row of edisto muskmelon
  • half a row of calendula
  • half row of sunflowers
  • oh, and the sweet potato slips—forgot those

Along with planting, I got most of the garden weeded. (We won't speak of the onions and carrots.) I was out there in my bathing suit, trying to get rid of this silly farmer's tan I'm sporting at the moment where I have tan stripes on my legs between the tops of my tall boots and bottoms of my shorts, belting out songs from my i-pod shuffle. It was the perfect day for working. Overcast, not too hot or muggy. Once I really started weeding and working up a sweat, the bugs were irritating, but that kinda goes without saying around here in the growing season.

I was too busy to take pictures, but I'll try to get some today if I can. Right now, I'm pleased as punch watching the rain come down and water all that in. A week of rain right now with moderate temperatures seems like a blessing for the garden and all the remaining lettuces. There was, of course, still more to be done before I collapsed in the shower at around 7:30 last night, but there's always more to be done. All work and no play makes Danielle a very cranky girl.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down....

What three weeks of rain will do to a garden....

and to the weeds...

The onions are in there somewhere. Yes, I'm whingeing about the weather. We've had so much rain that the ground is completely saturated and unworkable. I can't plant, cultivate, till or weed. I have a cover crop that I wanted to till in before it went to seed, but that's looking like it may not happen. I have loads of stuff that needs to go in the ground and more stuff that I really need to direct seed. I have a late planting of potatoes that desperately needs planting. Not to mention the incredibly favorable conditions for disease. Ugh. With dry one can at least irrigate; with rain, there's nothing to be done but float away.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wheeeee! New Camera!

I'll be playing with it all day today.

Friday, June 05, 2009

My Camera Is On the Fritz...

... and it's crampin' my style. More posts soon, promise.