Thursday, August 19, 2010

July Harvest and Preserving

Although I post to our Daily Harvest and Preserving pages almost daily, readers of this blog might not get a glimpse of what we grow and raise around here plus what we try to put away for later seasons. So my thought is to share from those links monthly in a separate post. Just looking back on what we had access to is sometimes quite surprising. Another reason to be thankful for the property we have and the ability to produce healthy foods for our family.

July's Produce

free-range eggs
twice-a-day goat milkings - ricotta, chevre, feta
snap and snow peas
Russian and Nero kale
Swiss chard
green onions
Romaine lettuce
snow and snap peas
winter mesclun mix
red onion thinnings
a tiny amount of basil prunings
fresh hardy herbs - chives, thyme, oregano

July's Preserving

7/1/10 - 14 oz. Romano goat cheese
7/2/10 - 14 oz. Parmesan goat cheese
7/8/10 - 10 oz. Italian seasoned ricotta salata
7/11/10 - 14 oz. Romano goat cheese
7/15/10 - 10 oz. plain ricotta salata
7/17/10 - 16 oz. Romano goat cheese (might not make it though)
7/19/10 - 18 oz. farmhouse goat cheddar
7/29/10 - 14 oz. Romano goat cheese

7/15/10 - 24 pounds blueberries u-picked from Redland Blueberries
(blueberry tart; 6 gallon bags frozen)
7/30/10 - 15 pounds blueberries u-picked from Redland Blueberries
(lost track of how many berries were frozen; lots though)

7/19/10 - 2 pint bags frozen Marionberries
7/23/10 - 2 pint bags frozen Marionberries
7/26/10 - 1 pint bag frozen Marionberries
7/29/10 - 2 pint bags frozen Marionberries
7/31/10 - 2 pint bags frozen Marionberries

7/28/10 - 12 oz. lime basil white wine vinegar
7/31/10 - 12 oz. thyme red wine vinegar

So as you can see this year has been a pretty productive gardening year for us. Plenty of material to work with and to be creative with in the kitchen.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Morning Chores

If you have pets at home, you have a few extra daily jobs to do. If you raise livestock, then you start calling that extra work chores. If your daughters raise the livestock, then you don't worry about the extra chores because your daughters take care of them.

HOWEVER...when those daughters are gone to camp or unavailable, those animals still need cared for. And guess who gets to step in? Yep, me.

So here's a taste of this morning's chores:

Scooped up daily allotment of food for both puppies; fed half this morning. Filled water dish.

Headed down to let out chickens.

Fed both horses and the donkey their hay.

Brought down one doe to get milked. After finishing her and while she was still on the milk stand, took hay to the buck pen. Returned Vega to the goat yard.  Let out Kari.

 Milked that doe. While she was still occupied with her grain, took grain out to the baby goat kid pen. Took Kari back to her yard. Let out Wroxy.

Milked her and took hay to the milking does and filled their waters while she was still on the stand.  Filled chicken water pans. Returned Wroxy.

Threw out a scoop of feed to the chickens. Set out pan of goat milk for them to eat/drink.

Maneuvered two pails of milk and a hay carrier stuffed with hay up to the backyard where hay was delivered to goat kid pen. Filled water buckets for goat kids.

And I was done.  Actually, it's not hard word. It's just that the efficiency expert in me tries to get it done in the least amount of time possible. I think I do a pretty good job actually.  The horse and buck pens waters will get filled by the 20yo when I have her clean the stalls later today. At least I got out of that job!

So by now you're either feeling a little jealous because you've always wanted a hobby farm type of life, or you're laughing because these aren't real livestock chores as those dedicated farmers we owe our food to go through every day, or you're perfectly content to just read about the foolishness others get to go through.

Either way if occasional chores get thrown my way, then there are no complaints. I relish the life we life out here, the quiet and peace, the outdoors all around us, and a little work just comes with the territory.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Do You Like Radishes?

Well, do you like radishes? Some people don't. They're spicy...too hot...tough...just don't care for them. Nice garnish, but nothing to really consider eating. I never was much of a store-bought radish person either. But home-grown radishes are really tasty. We have been growing Cherry Belle for the last few years, and then added Scarlet White Tip this year. These are good!

Radishes need to grow quickly enough to avoid being invaded by root maggots or becoming hot and tough, so they need plenty of cool, moist soil. They are a  perfect vegetable for growing in the spring or late fall. The fact that they mature in 30-something days makes for a rewarding effort in the garden when there isn't much of anything else growing. OrganicGardening gives some great tips on growing radishes too.

But what to do with these guys other than putting into a salad? Here's what I do. It's not much of a recipe; pretty much more of a procedure:

Toast a somewhat thick slice of peasant/rustic bread.
Butter it. (THIS is the key ingredient. Don't skip this step.)
Layer thinly sliced radishes over the entire slice.
Sprinkle with kosher salt. (Table salt would work but would not taste quite the same.)

Enjoy, and then find yourself making another helping.

It's the first part of June here, and the radishes are still growing strong. So I've kept up my succession planting. We've had an extremely damp, cool spring which has probably helped. I know that once our temperatures start climbing, the radishes will just be a memory until fall.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 Goat Kids

HM Kari's 2010 triplets

For other links about Kari, click here.

Weaning Goat Kids

The sun is out today, and there is promise of no rain for a few days, so it's goat kid weaning day. Our first six kids of the year to be born are a little overdue to be separated from their mothers. We usually wean right around three months of age. But since we have been having torrential downpours and experience tells us that the kids will stand outside and holler, waiting until the weather moderates is in their best interest. The two does whom we will begin to start milking ourselves are experienced mothers and don't seem the least bit worried that their kids are starting to holler just on the other side of the fence. They look just a little bit secretively relieved to be off mother duty at three kids a piece. The kids about now though are pretty convinced that day-camp is over, and it is time to go back to mom. I do believe it is going to be a pretty noisy night outside later on.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Curled Toes and Riboflavin Deficiency in Chicks

I hate when you have to learn something the hard way. This week's lesson: riboflavin deficiency in poultry which causes curled toes and eventual paralysis.

One of our sexlink hens brooded a clutch of nine eggs and hatched out six of those on May 9. Now 16 days later, we discovered one of the chicks outside, alone, unable to move with a case of curled toes. Now perhaps I haven't done my research properly, but from what I can tell, this is a common reaction to vitamin B2, or riboflavin, deficiency.

Here's how I believe it happened. Momma hen has her six chicks with her foraging along side the other hens. Although I have tried to pull them aside and feed the chicks the normal chick starter/grower feed that we use for our replacement hens, it has been difficult to keep our egg layers from consuming it. As it is medicated, I don't want that feed entering our egg supply. The chick in question has always been the one to lag behind and more than likely is not receiving his fair share. My guess is that in the larger picture of our poultry set up, this little chick has simply not received adequate nutrition.

These links were helpful in doing my own diagnosis:

Merk Vet Manual
World Poultry
Backyard Chickens
Backyard Chickens

From what I could tell, if nutrition is corrected as soon as the deficiency is noticed by giving Poly Vi Sol infant vitamin drops, then it is possible to reverse the situation. We're not quite to 24 hours yet after starting this chick's recovery process, but it seems to have worsened instead. We can only hope that it will in time pull out, but frankly I'm not hopeful.

With our recent heavy bout of rain, it has been hard to keep tabs on the chicks as momma has had to keep them brooded to stay warm, and we have simply not been outside as much. Lesson learned I guess.

So what are we going to do to keep the other chicks healthy? I'm contemplating a design to allow the chicks to "creep feed" as is done with other livestock. The smaller, younger animals are able to access feedstuffs available for their consumption only and not by the older, larger animals.

Although we have not experienced this situation before raising chicks in a similar manner, it is a concern that we will need to address to keep it from happening again.

If you've had experience with a similar deficiency, leave me a comment. I'd like to hear what advice you have to offer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Techie Garden -

I debated last gardening seasoning whether to spring for an online subscription to What is Well, imagine it as an online tool allowing you to track the seeds you start, when you transplant, your harvest details, plus a visual layout of the garden. There are probably other online gardening tools out there, but I'm perfectly happy with after stumbling upon it. I started using their 45-day free trial early this spring, and by the time that subscription ran out, I was convinced it was worth paying $20 for a full year's access.

One cool feature is the ability to take a snapshot of the screen which can then be printed out or uploaded to your blog as I have done here.

A series of snapshots could be filed in your garden notebook by month showing your progress. Yes, the one I mean to start. But I'm really anxious to use the harvest feature. What better way to determine if a particular variety grew well or even met your taste expectations at the end of the year. I am prone to forgetting exactly which variety of lettuce I really enjoyed or which tomato succumbed to blight early. Their online tracking and ability to enter daily notes will take care of all that for me. There are also handy planting calendars and harvest calculators as well as tutorials to help you get started.

Or if you want to link your PlanGarden site to your blog, you can also do that as I have done here.

Abernathy Creek Farm Garden Design

If you want to check out what their site has to offer, click on the link below.

They also feature gardeners and their PlanGarden sites which can be inspiring or intimidating depending on how you look at it. I'm just excited to finally have a tool to use that won't get left out in the rain to run the ink or disappear from one gardening season to the next. A perfect mix of technology and good old fashioned hard work I say.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

She's Outgrown Her Miniature Horse

This is a hard post to write, but we have finally made the decision to move our miniature horse, Nick, along to a home where he can be used by another family. We purchased him as a three-year-old stud and stopped to have him gelded on the trailer ride home. We had known him since a colt and knew that as he was harness broke, so quick to learn, and flashy to boot with his pinto markings and blue eye that he would make a great equestrian and 4H prospect for our oldest daughter. She used him her first year in OHSET and then moved on to target gaming and cow events with her quarter horse.

What to do with Nick now that we had him and were in love with him? Our youngest at the time was five, so he became her "pony". She quickly learned to ride him lead line, be the one to catch him up in the field and bring him, do his grooming and bathing, and love all over him. As she became more confident, we turned the reins over to her, and he was hers to ride all over the property. We turned our backs to only find her jumping him over obstacles, leading him through all sorts of mazes and trail obstacles she set up, or sneaking him into the house. They've made plenty of memories together.

But as you grow up, you also do so in size. She is now simply too large for him...feet can almost touch the ground...and it's time for him to be loved on and put to work by another family. It's a sad day for me and a sad day for her as well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our 2010 herd sire Mystic Hollow Geronimo

We are pleased to introduce our 2010 herd sire,  Mystic Hollow Geronimo, a registered Nigerian Dwarf buck. He was added to our herd last fall as the primary buck for our dairy does. He successfully bred our four miniature dairy does as well as our Oberhasli doe producing a first generation miniature Oberhasli with that breeding. We just received word that his sire Copper Penny MTB Money To Burn "Burnie" just received 2010 Best in Show at the Mega Buck Show. Good bloodlines through and through.

'Mo' has to be the friendliest buck I've encountered. He's easy to handle, has a great disposition, and a cutie besides. We have five sets of his kids on the ground and are pleased with everyone...7 doelings and 2 bucklings. Not a bad ratio at all either.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This week has been marked by our first asparagus harvest.  Probably due to the fact that I took a little time in early February to cut down the old fronds, pull some major weeds, and drag a little compost over the bed, the asparagus is looking marvelous.

It looked so marvelous in fact that my neighbor who happened to be outside stopped me and asked if that was really asparagus. I walked over to the fence to show him and asked him if he wanted a taste. He asked if it could really be eaten raw, at which point I couldn't actually remember eating it raw myself, but replied, "Sure," and popped some in my mouth as well.  It was so sweet and tender, I began to wonder why I even cook it at all.

Needless to say, I now only lightly steam my garden asparagus. Last night's was served with a little squirt of Bistro Sauce from Cash and Carry which has just enough horseradish in it to make it interesting.  Oh, so good.

 They say you can harvest an established bed for up to eight weeks.  I can only hope I've kept the bed even somewhat vigorous for a harvest even half that long.  Checking for their asparagus gardening tips it would seem I'm on the right track...removing dead fronds before the growing season, keeping the bed as weed free as possible, and mulching in early spring.  As I didn't get any fertilizer put down this spring other than the composted manure, I will be sure to add some after the main harvest is over in order to strengthen the plants for next year.

Any way to coax more asparagus out of the ground each spring will be high on my priority list from now on.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pruning Butterfly Bushes

I tackled a fairly easy job yesterday, but one that some years I don't get around to...pruning back my six butterfly bushes. Last year was one of those never-got-around-to-it years, and those bushes had grown to about 10' tall I'd say. Now, they are back to their more respectable 2' stumps.

The first year I followed the pruning directions for butterfly bushes and pruned them back to their first sign of growth, no matter how low on the branch, I was sure I was going to kill them. There was no way that ugly stump could grow enough in time to produce the bountiful elongated blooms that the books promised. I was wrong. They had no trouble at all. And the biggest benefit of all was that their rapid flush of growth produced more branches at eye level on which the blooms are produced. Last year the blooms were sparse and were mainly located only at the tippy top.

This year I needed to use loppers on them as the branches have become too thick for simple pruning shears, and the stack of branches removed will make the beginnings of a great burn pile after the goats have had their initial fill of leaves.

Pruning seems to be one of those tasks I tend to neglect and then pay the price later in the season. So therefore a goal for this year is to keep up with the pruning jobs that need done. Today's job...getting those branches hauled away to clear the view. I want to be able to watch those bushes grow!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mini Australian Shepherd Puppies

Our two miniature Australian Shepherd puppies are coming this weekend. Follow this link to to see how we plan to follow Cesar Millan's pack-leader training. It should be fun.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pruning Everbearing Raspberry Canes

I really should have tackled this job last fall while there was still some foliage on my everbearing raspberry canes. The goats would have appreciated me for it. And I would have appreciated myself come January when I find myself having to tackle the job in the mud.

Everbearing raspberries are raspberries that will set canes and develop fruit on the tips in the late fall, around late August through our first frost in October, here in the Northwest, the same season the canes are grown. The following year, those same canes if left alone will generate new growth from the lower half of the cane and produce berries in June. In the meantime, they do generate a modest amount of new canes to begin the fall berry production again that same year. A pretty good arrangement.

In some years I have simply taken the canes down to the ground in the spring and have had an amazing, abundant crop of fall berries. However, by that time of the year after feasting on fresh fruit all summer, you tend to lose the tenacity to get out there and harvest all they have to offer. So last year, I cut half of my bed back to the ground and pruned the others down half-way so as to get a June crop and a fairly large fall crop. It worked so well, that I'm going to take that approach again this year.

Here are a couple of shots of the raspberry canes that were cut half way back so that they will produce a crop the following June.

And here are another couple of shots showing those that I have taken back to the ground to encourage heavy new growth that will produce a fall crop of berries.

The job for tomorrow, or the next day I get out there I suppose, will be to truck loads of composted manure from our horse stalls which is comprised of disentigrated pelleted bedding and manure, of course. Or if I tackle the other half of the goat shed, it will be a layer of wasted grass hay and goat manure pellets. The best scenario would be horse manure first and then hay mulch on top. But of course that would be ideal and not necessarily reality.

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