Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kid Pics

So here are some pics of Mama and the little ones.
I'm not sure what's up with Sheila. She constantly slides to the floor in this position, and then can't get up on her own. We pick her up and put her on her feet when Shaq is nursing, and she can stand long enough to nurse. Then she slides back down with her legs splayed out behind her.
Sometimes she starts or keeps nursing from this position, if Mama's standing close enough. But then Mama steps on her, because she can't get out of the way.
She's a hungry little thing, and we're taking that as a good sign. Hopefully she'll catch up to her brother soon.
Shaq is getting more playful every minute.  He's started climbing on the hay bale, the step, and the ledge beside the wood stove.  We haven't been lighting the sunroom stove, because we don't want Mama getting over heated.  Shaq likes to stand right in front of it, just like Bullwinkle did last year.  I think I've got it figured out.  He was head butting his reflection yesterday.  He thinks there's another goat in there!

Shaq has also started wandering off of the hay pile, onto the slippery tile floor.   He does the cutest little dance and maas at his mother.  He went kersplat this morning, into the same splayed out pose as Sheila, and bawled until I put him back on his feet.

With Sheila not doing so well, we're only going to keep her inside all day, and let Mama and Shaq outside for an hour or two to stretch their legs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seed Exchange

I joined a seed exchange from Garden Web this year.  It's my first time doing anything like this, and I was pleasantly shocked by the package that arrived in the mail.  The seed package gets mailed from one person to the next, with each person taking what they want and adding back an equal number of seeds.  This package has been circulating amongst northern gardeners for a few years, and includes both purchased seed packets and saved seed from people's gardens.

This was the veggie and herb selection.
I picked out some green Salad Burnet, Rainbow Dino Kale, Persian Broadleaf Cress, Clemson Okra (Linda- if this stuff grows you're going to have to tell me what to do with it), Radicchio, Lovage, Pennyroyal, Bientina Chard, and two different types of sunflowers. 
Then there was an assortment of heritage tomato and pepper seeds.  I set up a jiffy tray and planted two seeds each in two jiffy pellets, except for the very last two Capiscum Annuum Aussie Black peppers.  I gave them each their own pellet.
There were more flower seeds than I could ever possibly want to identify.  I did take some delphiniums- chocolate and pink, because the bees love my blue ones, some poppies, marigolds, geraniums, and hollyhocks.  Most, because they're good companion plants, poppies, because you can eat the seeds, and holly hocks just because there were so many packets in there and I'd never heard of them.  Hopefully some of them will survive my "I don't give a darn about flowers" attitude, and maybe even thrive in the flower bed.

It was a fun experience, and I hope to join again next year.  Now off to the post office to send the package on it's way to the next participant.

A Wee Bit of Snow

This is a shot from the road on the south end of the pasture towards the barn.
Same spot, with zoom.
It's snowing again today. Just a bit.  See my tiny fence posts?  Cows are walking over top of the fence now.  Mostly just to hang out in the hay lean-to, but occasionally to stand around in the driveway and cause heart failure when we go outside.  Lovely creatures.
I think we may have more snow now than we did that first winter here.  One thing's for sure.  It's enough already.

Monday, February 27, 2012


She did it!

Why, oh why, did she insist on waiting for another cold snap?  -22°C last night, and these little guys were very wet and weak this morning.  Goats in the sunroom, again. 

They couldn't stand to nurse, and the one on the right couldn't even latch on.  I milked Mama a bit, then after repeatedly sticking her teat in his mouth he finally got it.

The stronger of the two nearly stood up, but not quite.
They'll be staying inside for a couple of days.  It's supposed to start warming up on Wednesday (-15°C overnight).  If they're looking better by then, we'll transition them back outside through the day.

For the moment, we're not even going to attempt to sex them.  We'll wait until they're a little stronger.

Update:  After posting, I read a comment from Tayet on another post, and went to check out this link she shared,
Fias Co Farm
Now, seriously, what could possibly be easier?  No wrangling, no man handling, just lift the tail!

Our little girl is the stronger of the pair.  The other one's a boy!

Monday, February 20, 2012


The chickens have gone on strike. I shouldn't complain. They made it through January, and I just defrosted the last carton of eggs I froze last summer. (Freezing in the shell keeps them more egg like, although the shells crack, so they need to defrost in a container that won't leak). It's been about two weeks now without a single chicken egg.
However, we do have these lovely eggs.  Three turkey eggs, which really are quite similar in taste to chicken eggs, just slightly larger, speckled and thicker shelled.

The larger egg behind, we've been getting a couple of those a week for awhile now, and assume they are goose eggs.  We're pretty sure all of the ducks are male.

And then we got the really big egg.  It looks the same as the 'goose' egg, just bigger.

So we're watching those ducks, and trying to pick a female.  Maybe.

More likely though, we've got two breeds of goose.  This pic is from last summer when we got the new geese.  They're all the same size now, and all look the same to me, except one grey tail feather on each of the new geese.  We weren't sure what sex anyone was.  Now we're thinking we've got two geese and a gander, and one of the geese lays bigger eggs than the other.

But it could be a duck.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Squarefoot Greenhouses, Take Two

Ok, I tried drawing out how I planted greenhouse #1 last year.

It seems like there's a lot more space around plants than I remember leaving.  Was it really just the crazy pumpkins and tomato trees that caused the jungle?  Broccoli did well, even though it was planted closer together than it should have been.  The beans were insane, planted far too close together, and of course the poor planning on my part, not leaving any foot room.

Here's the new plan for greenhouse #2.  This is the new greenhouse, the area wasn't planted last year.
Cucumbers are the main focus this year.  I haven't harvested more than 4 or 5 cukes since we moved up north.  The plan is to plant them straight down the center, with some sort of trellis between them, hanging from the roof, and send them toward the sky.  According to the companion planting chart, they like sunflowers, which have never grown more than a foot for me.  I figure one seed between each set of cukes shouldn't overcrowd them, and they might do ok.  They also like beets, carrots, radish and dill, so I'll put them in the next row over.  They don't like tomatoes.  Which could be one of the reasons they've never done well for me here.  I've tried to group all the stuff that needs plastic covering together, and since they're both late transplants in the spring, they end up together in the garden.  If that's the case, this will still be too close together.

Next, the peppers.  I stuck the lettuce in, because they seem to be neutral.  Romaine has not done well in the garden, and I'm hoping for some early leaf lettuce.

Tomatoes like carrots and onions.  I've given them more space in this plan, a 2 foot square, around the outside edge.  I think I'll just put a row or two of carrots and onions between them, rather than a square foot.

Which brings us back to greenhouse #1. 
I debated the cucumbers for awhile.  If I put them in both greenhouses, then I can't rotate the floor plan between greenhouses next year.  But then it occurred to me that this floor plan can go into greenhouse #3, which is to be built this summer.  So double cukes this year.

Then I figured I should cause myself some headaches and throw some monster squash in.  The square foot rules say to grow them vertically, in a 2 square foot patch.  I'm going to plan on setting them free out the east side of the greenhouse.  Early.  Before they go crazy.  And cut off extra shoots.  Yeah, that's the plan.  Can anyone picture me actually cutting off shoots?  I will.  I'm determined.  They'll be safe from late June frosts, but taking their chances with early fall frosts.

Squash help corn and beans, eggplant likes beans, so they're bunched up together.  Radishes help squash.  (Why are plants I hate, radishes and onions, so helpful?)  I threw in some mangels, cause seriously, no one is going to eat that many radishes.  Maybe the cows will like them mixed with the mangels.

Mangels along the north side.  They're in the beet family, so a couple of kohlrabi.

Brassicas on the west and south side.  I'm hoping cabbage and broccoli are different enough to not hurt the soil.  Onions and rosemary to help deter bugs.

Better?  Still lots of stuff that could easily be grown outside, but with the companion plan, I'll do both.

This gives me a clear rotational plan for next year, switching greenhouses, but cuts my tomatoes back to 16 plants.  One more than last year, but far less than I already have started, and a few more than my first plan.  The rest will have to go out in the garden unprotected, which is ok, because I need a batch of green salsa this fall.  It gets a little bit of almost everything inside, so I should get some variety, even if it's a bad weather year.

Rosemary is supposed to be perennial.  I looked it up.  While I need the help with the cabbage worms, I don't think I want rosemary coming up in the tomatoes next year.  Not that they seem to have anything against each other, I just really don't want self seeding/perennial plants taking over the greenhouse.  So I think I'll try it in a few small pots that can be moved from greenhouse to greenhouse.  I might squeeze some basil in with the tomatoes, too.