Where Have I Been?

I have to admit, I’ve been missing in action lately and for that I apologize. But I do have some good reasons, I promise!

I may have mentioned before that I was doing a permaculture study course through Homegrown.org. It’s going slowly and there is a lot of reading involved, which is taking up most of my spare time on the weekends. While it’s informative, I’m not sure if this study course is right for me. It’s very philosophical and what I need is something more concrete.

In addition (because apparently I’m crazy), I’m also taking an online course through John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on the U.S. Food System. It’s a good course with a lot of (mostly) thoughtful discussion. What I like about this course is that you can take it at your own leisure (all of the tests are due at the end of the course) and the lectures each week are broken up into 15-20 min sessions so it’s not overwhelming. The required reading is also online, which makes it a lot cheaper than most courses.

My day job is picking up substantially and where I was once working only part time, I’m now working overtime. I’m not complaining though! Some of the past few years have been really rough and I’m glad that they are behind us now. For those of you that don’t know, I work in the construction industry – one of the first industries to collapse in the economy – and it appears that we’re leading the charge into the new economy.

I think the biggest change around here though is my stepson has come to live with us. What was once every weekend has now become all week and 3rd and 5th weekends. He just started high school so we’ve been busy transitioning him during this huge time in his life. Not only is he now living in a new town and going to a new school but he’s now in high school, something completely new. Fortunately he made friends quickly. And what they say about teenage boys having a hollow leg is true. Very true.

Of course we’re still growing and raising food! We definitely haven’t stopped doing that. So here’s what’s going on around here via photo essay (the best picture is at the end, trust me):

artichoke plants

The artichoke plants are getting nice and big and should be giving us blooms in no time.

artichokes

I also started some seedlings from our artichokes which I will have available soon.

The pepper seedlings are up and getting close to being repotted.

I also started pepper, tomato, eggplant, and tomatillo seedlings.

cauliflower

The cauliflower is already the size of a softball.

fava beans

The fava beans are blooming.

chard

We’re harvesting chard several times a week and we even have it growing wild in our yard now.

garlic

We’re trying 4 different varieties for garlic. From left to right: Red Toch, Bogatyr, California Early and Metechi. I think it’s clear which one is doing the best.

oranges

We’re getting lots of citrus this year. It’s the first year we’ve gotten fruit off of every citrus tree.

olives

The Arbequina olive tree is LOADED with olives this year. This tree is a biennial producers, meaning it only produces a crop every other year. It’s first year it gave us 15lbs of olives. I’m betting we’ve got over 25lbs this year.

outside barn

This is probably the last photo that will be taken of the goat barn. No, we’re not getting rid of the goats, but we are moving it this coming weekend and expanding it. Yes, we are ambitious.

inside barn

Last weekend we took out all the interior walls and back exterior wall which makes for some interesting milking this past week. Part of the new barn will be a much larger milking parlor.

Bella

I’m convinced that Bella is a pygora with her crazy thick coat this year. She wasn’t in milk this winter so she turned into a walking gray marshmallow.

daisyDaisy has emotional issues, which is why she’s got that funny thing around her neck. It’s actually a 1 gallon plant pot that keeps her from self sucking – something she started doing when she went into labor with Panda (it’s a comforting behavior for her apparently).

whiskeyWhiskey and Bailey are all grown up! Whiskey will soon be learning how to be a cart goat for events.

henWe’ve got some young hens that just started laying finally.

pulletsSoon on their heels we’ve got some pullets that should be laying soon.

cockerelBehind them we’ve got some more pullets and cockerels that are about a month younger but are growing much faster. These are Light Sussex crosses that we bred and were raised by Speckles (many of them are already larger than their mom).

Mr JenkinsHere’s the dad, Mr. Jenkins. We’ve been very lucky as he has a wonderful personality for a rooster. He watches over and protects the hens but is not aggressive towards us. He’s a huge bird and it’s a trait he passes on to his offspring making them great dual purpose birds.

hankOur other awesome boy is, of course, Hank the Tank. He’s been spending a lot of time wooing Tater but she’s still holding out. Duke, however, is already sitting on a clutch of eggs that should start hatching in about 2 weeks.

rabbitLast but not least we’ve got the cutest members of our farm right now. Baby rabbits! Yasmine’s (aka Tummy) kits are a few weeks old now and growing fast. They definitely have their mom’s curious, very friendly personality. It’s funny to see the difference in litters’ overall personality. These guys were out of the box the second they could see. Some litters won’t leave the nest unless you force them.

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Discussion

  1. Maggie D. says:

    Wow, you are busy! Thanks for taking the time for the photo essay which I thoroughly enjoyed. As we say here in France “Bon courage!”

  2. Ohhh pretty artichokes. I planted two last year but they didn’t get enough water with my house set up and died. I’m going to try again this year.

  3. I meant, hose set up. Oops!

  4. Here at B’nai Y’sra’el Gardens we have begun, as of the last two years, cultivating a wild herbaceous plants as a food resource and would like to suggest that maybe you might do the same? It is called Lambs Quarter. It has a higher nutritional value than spinach and produces more per seed than spinach. It is drought resistant, flooding resistant, and if planted with a lot of compost, grows much larger than it does in the wild. Not only is it a great leaf veggie to use where ever you use spinach, it also makes great animal feed. Goats love it and the young seed heads are great for chickens as well as other herbivores and is high in protein. Chickens will eat the leaf to, but not as much as they do the seed heads. Just wanted to share this with you. Shalom/peace!

  5. What do you do with your olives? I was just looking at Arbequina trees wondering if I could make my own oil. You are so fortunate that Mr. Jenkins is friendly. Our last rooster was so mean. My son loved him that was the only thing that spared his life! There were so many times I would have liked to ring his neck.

  6. Okay, racoon goats. I had to call my Significant Other in to see them. Too cool!
    We never really had goats on our farm. But the rest of the animals look sooooo familiar. We raised Bronze turkeys rather than the Nicholas–they we a bot smaller and more oven-sized. I also liked the taste a bot more. Between the chickens we bought, the ones we inherited from my mother and the ones neighbours dropped off at our place (Yes! Someone to take the stupid things off our hands!), we really had quite the menagerie. The kids used to take the young cockrels and put them on the handlebars of their bikes while they raced around the yard. I was never sure how the little guys took it….
    We were farming north of latitude 53 (norht of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), which meant that citrus and olives were just not on. But we grew tonnes of peas, beans, and potatoes for fresh market.
    The Introduction to the US Food System course is interesting–it gives me more of a theoretical background for many of the decisions we made before starting and during our farming days. We essentially said that anything our Grandparents wouldn’t have done, we wouldn’t do. Turns out to have been pretty smart after all. Regardless of what the neighbours thought!

  7. Shoot, don’t you hate making spelling errors? I missed that I’d put 2 r-s in my blog address, and we were north of Edmonton, not norht. Sheesh!

  8. I would also like to know, what you do with your olives? I’ve done a bit of research and it seems impossible to make your own oil at home. I’d love to know your insite!

  9. Oh olives! Yes, making olive oil at home is pretty much impossible unless you have several thousand dollars to drop on a “hobby” oil press. We cure our olives. Our first harvest we lactofermented/brine cured them using this recipe: http://honest-food.net/2009/10/11/how-to-cure-green-olives/

  10. Ok, I have artichoke envy. This spring I’m having to replant every single one. I replace half of them last year when the gophers got to them. Then over winter, somehow, despite various contraptions and baskets to keep them at bay, they’ve taken them out again. I had no idea how much gophers LOVE these plants. Yours look fabulous though! I didn’t realize you kept Whiskey and Bailey. I can’t believe they’re grown up already! Goats never cease to amaze me. Are you up to 5 now?

    • Stupid gophers!

      Yes, we kept them. We wanted to keep it at 4 but looks like we’ll be staying at 5 (for now). Originally the plan was to return Bailey to Lynda but Sedona was really miserable on her own so we’ve decided to keep Bailey and breed Sedona to a different buck from Sarah’s herd and then Lynda will take first choice doe from that breeding, which will insert some new genes into her herd.

  11. Herb tenacious says:

    If you want to get rid of gophers, plant euphorbias. They are lovely succulents that come in many shapes and sizes, and planting several around your area will help keep gophers away because they have a noxious chemical. Careful not to come into contact with the sap, if you break a stem or branch.

    Of course you could just put in gopher wire.

    Gopher it!
    Herb

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