Sunday, July 21, 2013

So much more to learn

This is a busy time of year.  If only I had the energy to do everything that needs to be done.  I've been a bit lazy (ok, a lot lazy) and some days make myself do at least a few things on my to-do list (which is in my head, not on paper).   I feel like if I can check just a few things off my list each day then I don't have to feel too guilty.

I've been saying for months now that my spaquaponics garden is under construction, which wasn't true.  It NEEDED to be under construction.  I finally got it back in shape; kind of.  I've learned a lot in the past year about what I did right (a very few things) and what I did wrong (many, many things).  I've made it smaller and have replaced the flimsy kiddie pool with a sturdier kiddie pool my neighbor gave me.  The beds get root-bound very easily so I'm sticking with lettuces which are easier to thin out.  The hot tub gets so algae-filled this time of year which is a challenge too.  Some days I'm ready to give up on it but now that I've invested more time in it I think I'll give it another season at least.

While I feel lazy, James seems to have all the energy in the world.  His gardens are producing like gangbusters.  He's a harvesting, canning, freezing maniac.  We've now added corn-on-the-cob to our list of vegetables/fruits ready-to-eat.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, blackberries, green beans, swiss chard, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, squash, wheat, kale, potatoes and herbs are also on the dinner list. I'm sure I've left some things out.  I should also mention we have more milk than I can keep up with which the dogs, chickens and Roxie are pretty happy about.

Have I mentioned it got hot this week?  Just ask Keri how hot it is.
As you can see, her coat is taking its time shedding out and she's forever putting her feet in the goats' water buckets and dirtying them up so  I filled a boat for her to cool off in.  She seemed grateful.  Summer is much harder on her than winter.  I think it is on all the animals except our old dog, Lex.

I don't think I mentioned that Darla came back here to live.  I had decided not to keep any mini goats so I could keep just one full-sized buck.  She was adopted by a friend of mine but was bullying her kids (goat kids) so she came back here where she's one of the low goats on the totem pole.   She has found a place in our chicken coop that she spends a good deal of time in when she wants to rest without worrying about being picked on.  It's funny how goats can be top dog in one herd and bottom of the pecking order in another.  I'll have to breed her to someone else's buck next spring because Cooper is too big for her.  I'm glad she's home.  She's still very affectionate and dog-like.  If she could live in the house I'd let her.

Remember my post about the pig pregnancy indicator? 
I've decided that's a bunch of hogwash.  I'm pretty sure Roxie isn't pregnant.  I think I've seen her come in to heat twice in the past 4 weeks.  It's kind of hard to tell with a pig.  At least it is for me.  Now I don't know what my next plan of action should be.  I can't really justify keeping a 500lb sow as a pet without having her produce babies, can I?  I called the pig farmer up the road to see if maybe his boar could breed her again this year but I haven't heard back from him.  I hate to buy a boar to service just one sow.  I'd have to build more housing.  I've promised a young couple I'd raise a pig for them for their wedding next September so I'll either need Roxie to have babies by December or January or I'll have to buy a feeder piglet elsewhere.   They're going to use it as their ring bearer :)

I've been raising goats and chickens now for 6 years, pigs for 2, rabbits for a year or 2 and donkeys for 3 years.  Just when I think I have things under control something upsets the apple cart and I need to re-think what my plans for this farm are.  I could really use some help with pasture management.  I'll save that topic for another blog. 

All this time we've been making it up as we go along and learning as we go.  Is it worth it?  I think so.  Do I feel like a farmer yet?  In many ways I do.  Am I an expert on goats, chickens, pigs, etc.?  Nope, but I know a whole lot more now than I did even a year ago.  When I start feeling smart I like to put myself in my place.  That's why we bought smart phones this week.  Ask me how smart I'm feeling now.


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