Wednesday, April 29, 2015

the escape

Our baby goats are nearing a month old and they are doing great.  Since their birth I have been keeping them separated from the rest of our farm animals.  This allows the mom to bond with the babies, and we have a heat lamp in their pen for a little extra warmth.  Under normal circumstances baby goats and their mothers would have rejoined the goat herd by this age but our farm animals are pastured together and I wanted the babies to be a little more independent before turning them loose with the horse and sheep and other goats.  They also need to go to the vet on Friday and catching them in a small pen as opposed to a pasture would be a lot easier.   Our kidding pens are pretty small.  They work fine for a mom and offspring for a few days but there isn't a lot of room once the babies get more active and exercise is good for the mom too.  Our barn has a large pen with a door to the pasture and the row of kidding pens that are separated by an alleyway.  To give the mom and babies more room I opened their pen to the alleyway and made a makeshift gate.  Today I was outside working in the garden and mowing the lawn and I put the mower away and came into the barn and found the makeshift gate moved and no goats to be found in the barn.

With the mower turned off I could hear a baby goat calling for its mother.  I found the mom had rejoined the herd in the pasture apparently sneaking in the same place that they have previously gotten out.  One of the babies had gotten in with her but the other one was still outside the pasture fence.  When she realized that the baby was not with her she went back toward the east fenceline and she walked along the inside of the fence with the baby keeping up along the outside of the fence.  They went back and forth trying to get together.

I started out walking along the outside of the fence and Elke decided to come along and help.  Our dogs are guardians for our livestock but they instinctively know what to do and are not trained to follow commands and herd like a border collie or other working dogs.  And they can be independent, knowing better than me how they are supposed to be doing their job.  With Elke being a puppy, only 10 months old, I knew that it could be a disaster waiting to happen.  We could have goats scattered everywhere.

It went so much better than I expected.  Elke and I made our way around the pasture to where the goats were.  Elke was great about waiting when I told her to wait and she didn't chase the goat or get them all stirred up.  With only a couple of tries I was able to catch the outside baby and set it down inside the fence with its mom who was oh so glad to have it back.  I now have some fence to work on.

Elke and Manny watching the goats
Mom was content to be with the herd eating living green grass instead of dead grass hay until it started getting dark.  Then they were in the barn and could see their pen from the pen that they were in.  The heat lamp was one and it was obvious they wanted back over there.  The only problem is that there is no gate between the pens inside.  They needed to go back outside, over to the gate and around two sides of the barn to get back inside through the other door.  No amount of coaxing could convince her to go outside when she could see where she wanted to be.  I ended up having to drag her outside, over to the gate, through the gate without letting the others out and around the barn with her babies following along.  Once we got to the door  she knew the way to her pen and was happy to be home.


Monday, April 27, 2015

three beggars

Today I rode with  my mom and dad and they stopped at the farm and picked me up.  My mom carries dog treats in her car and so as soon as they pulled in my three dogs were hanging out waiting in case there were goodies.  They were not disappointed.  Left to right is Sadie, Codie and Elke.

On the weekend Caitlin and Robb  were at the farm and they spent a part of the afternoon working on the ram pens removing the dead cockle burrs and other weeds  that were in and around the pens and near the old gas barrel.  They were areas that have been neglected which allowed the weeds to grow up.  They also removed a lean-to type roof from the right pen that was falling down and spread some pasture mix seed.  Great projects to get  completed and so glad for the help.   

I have no in progress or before pictures but here is an after.

Friday, April 24, 2015


We have missed the past couple of predicted rains and our ground, at least on top, is dry as dust.  I have been considering watering to pre-moisten the planting beds prior to seeding and transplanting.  So last night I was watching with disappointment as the forecast changed from rain expected to not expected.  Today it was cloudy when I got up so I quick checked the forecast and a 0% chance of rain at least for this morning.  I was lamenting yet another missed rain when lo and behold we had a nice shower.  And puddles...

And wet dogs.  I will gladly put up with a little wet dog smell and muddy paw prints in exchange for a nice rain shower.  I did not have my rain gauge out yet but perhaps it is time.  

And a baby goat picture...
Eating hay with their momma


Thursday, April 23, 2015

It was a good day

Today was nice weather, a nice temperature and not too much wind.  I worked in the cornfield, which is the big garden, hauling away all of the garden trash that had been previously piled on the grass.  Once those piles were gone I mowed for the first time this year, mowing the area surrounding the garden.  I started mowing the nearby road ditch as well but it is going to need to be raked in places as there are lots of cornstalks that will need to be removed before mowing. 

The peas and potatoes are needing to be watered.  There is rain forecast for tonight and tomorrow but I was wanting to see if the water line survived our couple of colder nights so I set up a sprinkler and ran it for an hour or so and it was working great.  I have a somewhat complicated watering system that I started last year allowing me to avoid moving the hoses and damaging plants.  It consists of sprinklers set on the posts that divide the north half (the field) from the south half (the permanent rows).  So far I have one sprinkler set up and it is able to reach both the peas and the potatoes.  Between the posts I have planted some asparagus and some raspberry canes.  I am still in the process and will finish this year  The asparagus is not up yet but I weeded two of the rows.  I also weeded two sections of raspberries.  They are just starting to leaf out so I will soon know which ones survived the winter and where I will need to put replacements.  I have been digging up and transplanting the wild black raspberries that grow along the edge of the grove and last year the first row that I planted near the potager had a nice crop on it.  I am hopeful that as these new ones get established that there will be lots and lots of berries.   

I took the stirrup hoe and did some weeding on the rows that are ready to plant.  I was able to do 15 rows fairly quickly, there were  only a few small weeds and the hoe took care of them.  Tomorrow, weather permitting I will do the other rows that are ready and then keep getting more rows ready.  It is early yet much of the garden won't go in for at least a month so I am really pleased with how far along we are.  Having a work day with the kids at Easter really made a difference. 

It was a little comical, both Elke and Manny were surprised by the mower and the sprinkler and I was wishing I had been able to catch some video of them getting reacquainted.  Elke came to live here at the end of fall, so i think that I was done mowing and sprinkling and Manny was a house cat who now goes outside some. 

The greenhouse is doing well.  The fan that was added has made a difference.  Last year we got to the point that we had to move everything outside as it was way to hot.  I am hoping to avoid that this year.  I am still seeding in the house, with Brussels sprouts, cucumbers and squashes going in this week.  All of the tomatoes and peppers are potted up and are moved out to the greenhouse.  The kohlrabi is potted up and some are in the greenhouse.  The eggplant is potted up and is in the greenhouse.  I was afraid that i had moved it too soon as we had a cold night last night and it was looking pretty sick first thing this morning but by this afternoon it appeared to have fully recovered.  I did  have the heater on part time during the night and the thermometer listed a low of 45 for the space but they were on the suspended shelf an maybe too close to the glazing. 

Lots more to do.  I love this time of year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

a few signs of spring

Since last night dropped below 30 overnight and there were a few snowflakes in the air yesterday I figured it was time to look for some signs of spring.  The grass is mostly green and looks to be starting to grow a bit and the big trees are starting to leaf out but what about the orchard?  Yep, spring is there too.  I took a picture of all the fruit trees and realized that they all kind of look the same.  I started out trying to identify each but have given up on that.  We have two apples, two plums and two pears and they are all getting leaf buds.  Yay! I should have uploaded each picture as I took it so that I can remember which is which but no such luck. 

Last year I planted four sand cherries, two elderberries and a gooseberry.  My thinking is if they make it through the first winter and come back in the spring the chances of survival are pretty good.  I don't have any empirical data to back that up but it seems reasonable to me.  So, I am looking at the four sand cherries and they all have some leaf buds.  The gooseberry has none yet and one of the two elderberries have very tiny buds so I am hoping that it is just early and that with time they will come.  No sign of the asparagus yet or the rhubarb.  Tonight the low is expected to get down to 23 but then the rest of the 10 day forecast is above freezing.  The salad greens are pretty much done in the greenhouse, just too warm but the timing is good because as the tubs are emptied the space is taken up but the plant starts for the spring garden. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April showers...

After missing the last couple of predicted rains we are finally getting some moisture.  So far the rain has been a gentle shower.  I don't have my rain gauge out yet as we are still in line for some lows in the upper 20s and sure enough I would forget to empty it and it would be done for but I am glad to be getting some precipitation.

I have been working on getting the tomato and pepper seedlings up potted into cups and tomorrow should be the last of them.  This year we are trying two hot peppers and a bell pepper.  I have not grown peppers from seed so it is a new this year.  So far they seem to be doing okay.  We selected six different tomatoes, a hybrid slicer, two heirloom slicers, an heirloom paste and two cherry tomatoes, one a standard sized cherry and one a grape sized cherry.  Both of the cherries are heirloom as well.  So far the plants are looking healthy.  It is fun seeing the tub after tub of cups lining the tables and shelves.

I planted a few potatoes.  Last year I didn't get all of my potatoes dug before the snow came.  This year I am going to grow some above ground in containers.  I started some in containers last year but they did not get the attention that they needed as they were in the potager which was mostly neglected.  I am hoping that having them planted in the big garden will work better.

Yesterday I had a chance to work on the raspberry row and the asparagus row that are near the potager.  I raked away as much of the dead plant material as I could but will still need to do some hand weeding.  No sign of asparagus popping through the soil yet but the raspberries are starting to get some leaves on the canes and I noticed some signs of life in the row of sand cherries as well.  Mom and Dad have rhubarb coming but theirs is a bit protected.  Mine is only protected by weeds. :) 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

finally a less windy day

The farm has been experiencing some nice temperatures but the wind has made it tough to do much outside.  Day after day the winds blew--mostly from the south so there was no protection from the grove. I spent some time working on transplanting seedlings indoors but the only thing I did outside was turn a few of the garden rows with the claw.  I was sure that any leaves or compost that I added would just blow away.  Today, was different, the weather was cooperating.  No wind, sunny for awhile and then it clouded over.  It looked like it could rain but it didn't.  Rain wasn't predicted and we have not gotten any the last couple of times that there was a decent chance.  Even without any 'April Showers' the lawn is greening up and the herd is spending more of their time out on the pasture. 

Today I got six more rows ready to plant.  I flushed the water line and had good pressure at the garden end.  It appears that the water system has survived its first winter intact.    Since mother nature isn't watering the peas I did.  I don't have the short hoses and the sprinklers set up, just a hose but it is only one row, so far, that is needing to be watered. 

The winter greens are mostly done.  A few remain that have not bolted yet but mostly there is a need to empty the containers to make room for the cups holding the transplanted summer crops.  The new fan is helping to keep the greenhouse a bit cooler.  That will be the prime focus on any day that is sunny as it can easily get too warm.  I miscalculated one day that I was gone for a few hours and came home to a few fried herb seedlings.  They were the most vulnerable as they recently had been potted up from the seed trays to cups.  Everything else survived but it was a good lesson learned.  Now I open everything up and get all the fans going when I need to be gone even if it isn't predicted to be sunny, just in case. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be less windy again so I am hoping to get a bunch more done in the garden.  Perhaps some pictures and a new update will follow.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter weekend update

All of my kids (and their dogs!) were home for the holiday weekend and we had an opportunity to work on some projects at the farm on Friday and Saturday.  I was so glad for the help and so pleased with what we were able to accomplish.  We have made good headway on preparing the garden for spring planting.  A good chunk of the south side of the cornfield (the large garden) is ready to plant.  Some of the rows, at least 15, have had the trash from last years crops and weeds removed, the planting rows are turned, and had compost applied and turned in.  A layer of leaves have been applied to those finished rows in the walking paths.  The trellises have been installed on two rows designated on my garden plan for legumes and the peas have been planted.  The new numbers have been nailed to the posts replacing the stick-on ones that kept falling off.  The hole for the last  post is started.  We ran into some difficulty and the hole is not as deep as it should go.  We are not sure if it is because of the frost not being fully out yet or if there is some object, possibly a rock or a tree root blocking our progress.  I will try again in a few days to see if we can go further, otherwise I will finish the post at the depth that it is. 

Nikole and Brad arrived on Friday ahead of the others that came on Saturday.  They brought a pickup load of wood chips to go around the front of the house.  Last fall Mom and I removed the old plantings, got the grading done, plastic laid, and the edging placed where we wanted it and temporarily attached.  A pickup load did not get us a really thick layer of chips but it covered all the area that we wanted to cover.  A few more wood chips to make a  thicker layer can be added at any time  We were able to get some work done in the greenhouse emptying spent planters. That was a good job to get done as we will need the space for the summer garden transplant seedlings that have been started in the house.  They installed a fan that will be used to bring outside air into the greenhouse.  It works either separately or in conjunction with the other fan that removes hot air from the greenhouse and it has already been successful at keeping the greenhouse from getting overly warm on the sunny Saturday and Sunday of the weekend.  The three of us also finished the tomato cages that I had started.  Boy does it go a lot faster with three.  Our cages are a piece of gridded wire fencing attached to a 2x2 post.  I built a few last year and the ones that we finished now will be greatly expand our caging supplies.  This was a great way to use some of the extra fencing Nikole and Brad shared. 

On Sunday we had breakfast at the farm and then headed into town for dinner with my parents.  We took along a great salad that Bobbie, Brad's mom had found on Pinterest and it turned out to be as good as was reported.  We used kale grown in the greenhouse.  It had a warm onion balsamic dressing that was massaged into the kale and then topped with goat cheese and pine nuts.  The warm dressing slightly wilted the kale.  It was very good.  I didn't get any pictures of it but will be posting the recipe on my farmstand cookbook blog. 

The last project of the weekend was a window project.  My farmhouse has original wood windows and all of them are energy inefficient but many of them are rotting and starting to have real issues.  Before winter arrived, while we were painting the house, Dad built a 'bandaid' for the worst one at that time to get us by while I agonize over replacements.  Just before the weekend a new worst one developed.  Nathan stabilized the window and took some measurements for another 'bandaid'.

I have such a great family. 

A few pictures from our weekend projects:

The new wood chips around the font of the house

The finished end of the garden, ready for planting.

the trellis that will hold the pole beans

new numbers on the posts

this trellis will hold the peas

the leaf pile is gone

the new fan in the greenhouse

the tomato cages

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

just kidding....

A baby goat is called a kid and in goats the act of giving birth is called kidding.  Yesterday that happened at the farm.  We have a small group of goats, three females and a male.  It is a bit smaller than the group we had when Cait was in 4H and showing goats but even then our group was only eight or nine at its largest.  .  They are not shown anymore--just hanging out at the farm keeping me company.   So, yesterday one of the females delivered her triplets.  The first one born was pretty tiny.  He is much smaller than his brother and sister who were born a little later.  He is not as strong so for now he is in the house and is being bottle fed colostrum  and later he will get milk replacer.  I will try to post more later but I wanted to get out a little birth announcement and a couple of pictures.  So even though it is April Fools Day, I am not kidding about the birth of the goat kids. 
babies with their mom in the barn

The bottle baby in the house
Often farm animals pick the very worst time to deliver their offspring--middle of the night, during a blizzard, you get the picture.  These were born starting about noon on a sunny 65 degree day.  My kids (the people kind) will be home on the weekend so the goat kids will get lots of attention--and maybe some names.   

Update April 2, 2015

I am sad to report that after such a optimistic start our bottle kid rapidly lost ground and died early this morning.  He was such sweet boy.