Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hodge Podge

Garlic top beginning to flower.

The wax beans are ready!

Tonight's harvest.

One of the better looking cabbages.  Most of the others have holes eaten out of the outer leaves.  It's those darn cabbage worms.  Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts are more forgiving.  The worms can eat some of the leaves, but not enough damage is done to harm the harvest.  It's hard to keep up with the Bt spraying  when we keep getting these short-lived yet intense rain showers every few days or so, washing off the spray.

Some color from the scarlet runner beans.

A black swallowtail butterfly-to-be, munching on dill.

The first cantaloupe!  How do I know when it's ready to pick??

Pea plants and pods drying on the fence.

The deck garden is doing very well.  This evening I harvested some parsley, peppermint, thyme and rosemary for drying.  Tomorrow I'll pick basil, chamomile and sage.

I hung a few apple maggot fly traps on my apple trees.  So far I haven't seen any maggot flies, but I suspect we will get some.

I took two of our stray outdoor kittens to the humane society on Tuesday.  We still have four wild kittens outside, and I doubt I will be able to catch them.  It's probably too late to socialize them anyway.  I caught these two a couple of weeks ago and have been working with them as time permits, trying to get them used to (and liking) people.  They should get adopted pretty quickly.  As you can see, they are verily cute.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tonight's supper

Tonight's supper -- wax beans, broccoli and zucchini.  All picked from the garden this evening, after the storms passed through.  This is the first picking of wax beans this season.  By all accounts I will have a bountiful bean harvest this year.

You know, I could get used to this.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The fates of goats

The boys like to visit the goats with me and give them treats.  The goats are docile, and my boys are old enough for this not to be a problem.  No head-butting has taken place (against humans) yet.  As a matter of fact, I've never seen an angora head-butt a person.  They're pretty low-key critters.

The young ones will, however, jump up on you if they think you're holding out on them in the treat department.  It is much like when a large dog jumps up on you.  As adults the females only weigh about 75 lbs. They are friendly animals, but don't much enjoy being pet.  They like company, though, and will follow you around wherever you go, sniffing your fingers or nuzzling your pants pockets.

Full grown bucks are more aggressive, and weigh more.  They also have longer horns.  I would never let my kids in with an adult buck.  At this point I don't really intend on having a buck, as I'm not interested in increasing my flock and going into the goat-selling business.  It is profitable, but it's a pain in the neck.  Unless you want babies in the middle of winter, you have to keep your bucks separate from your does from August through October.  This means having another shelter building and electric fence to keep the amorous boys away from the girls while they are in cycle.

I have to decide, soon, what to do about my young bucklings.  My choices are: a) bring them to the sale barn and get about $30 a piece for them, knowing they will go to slaughter; b) keep them intact (non-castrated) and try to sell them as breeding stock; c) wether (castrate) them and try to sell them to people interested in growing their own mohair; or d) wether them and keep them in my own flock.  If I do decide to castrate them, it has to be done in the next month.  They become fertile at about four months old, and may try to breed my does (their moms).

I've pretty much ruled out (a), 'cuz I'm a big softie and $30 isn't enough to curb my softie tendencies.  (b) is also unlikely, because there are no breeders nearby who would want them, and they have a couple of faults that would count against them in their registry with CAGBA (Colored Angora Goat Breeders Assoc.).  Breeders want top-notch bucks.  The black one's mohair is nice, but not super.  It's also more wavy than spiral, which is preferred.  The brown one (picture above) has really nice mohair, but one of his ears is cocked to the side, which counts against him.  If he wasn't already related to my goats, I might be tempted (but only a little bit) to  keep him for my own breeding stock.  His coat is sooo pretty.

(c) is also unlikely, because like I said I'm not aware of any folks near me who are into angora goats.  I think I'll put an ad in the paper, just in case, and see what happens.  So, (d) is the most likely choice.  If I choose that route, I will have five goats in my flock which is really too many for the small pasture I currently have fenced.  That means building more fence, out into our alfalfa field.  Building fence is not a big deal, and probably a good idea regardless, especially since we may want to raise a steer (or gasp, a dairy cow!) of our own someday down the road.  (I say this because it would be my husband building the fence, not me.)

This is our doeling, such a lovely girl.  Lighter in color than her brother, but with beautiful mohair.  She would be an excellent candidate for breeding, as her confirmation is good and I can see no points against her.  I don't think the broken horn would count as a fault, since it is not genetic.  I could try to sell her--a breeder friend told me she would be worth $200-$300.

Just look at that face!  What a sweetie pie.

So, ultimately,  I have to decide if I want to keep my little flock at 2-3 or expand it to 5.  If I really put the effort into it, mohair can be a profitable enterprise.  I just need to decide if I want to put the effort into it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beach party

We met a friend and her family at the park last week for berry-picking and a beach picnic.  We couldn't have asked for a nicer day.  Graham and Jens were convinced they were digging to China.  They yelled into the holes asking if there were any Chinese people down there.  When they pulled out a big rock they said, "Look -- a rock from China!"  This reminds me, yet again, that life is all about perspective.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The first zucchini

Here is Number Two Son, proudly holding the first yellow zucchini from the garden.  This is his zucchini -- he picked the seed packet out from the store, filled the pots with dirt, planted and watered the seeds, and watched while the seedlings grew in the sun from the window.  When it was time to transplant he picked his spot in the garden and helped gently shake the small plants out of the pot.  I planted them and he patted down the soil.  Every few days since the first bloom we would go out together and check on the growth. 

A few days ago he announced that the first zucchini was ready for picking.  We walked out to the garden and I watched as he carefully twisted it off.  We had it (along with several other zucchini bought at the farmers market) for dinner grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Graham said to me, "Mom, you're the best gardener in the whole world."   I told him he was the best garden helper in the whole world. 

I don't really feel like the best gardener in the world sometimes, especially when my plans go awry.  I saved some of my potatoes from last year's crop (the one I thought was infected with late blight) to plant this year.  I didn't see any signs of blight on the tubers, so I figured they were safe for planting.  I told myself that if I saw any signs of blight I would yank all the plants out before it could spread to my tomatoes and store-bought potatoes.

A few days ago I was doing a bit of weeding and saw the familiar yellowing and browning of the lower leaves.  What?  It's too early for late blight, I thought.  So I did a bit of internet research and came to the realization that this wasn't blight, it was Verticillium wilt.  Arggh.  Why am I plagued by this fiendish disease?  With sinking heart, I yanked all the plants out.  I hope I stopped it in time, hope the roots from these potatoes aren't in contact with the tomatoes across the path.  We'll see.  Next year I am going to have to find a new spot to plant my tomatoes and potatoes.  Verticillium wilt can live in the soil for seven years.

So now I have an empty garden bed.  So sad and forlorn, stripped of its green growth.  I'm thinking of direct seeding some broccoli for a fall harvest. Is this the right time to start a fall crop of broccoli?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Another garden tour

The Brussells sprouts are looking very nice.  Guess I was holding the camera a bit askew for this picture.  Looking at it makes my eyes want to turn sideways.

Potatoes and tomatoes and potatoes and tomatoes.

Zucchini in front, cantaloupe in back.  The single black beauty zucchini in the very front is growing a whole lot faster than the other yellow zucc's.

Time to harvest the first broccoli!

The cabbage is starting to resemble itself.  The cabbage worms have shown up so I have started using the bt spray.  It worked very well last year, we'll see if it continues to do its job this season.

A long stretch of wax beans.

Very tall dill, sunflowers, and bolting lettuce.

Carrots and rutabagas.  This may be the first year I actually have a respectable carrot harvest.

Run, little scarlet runner, run!  If you look closely at the top you can see the first long tendril branching off to the right along the orange-colored twine.  I must get my hubby to build a trellis archway for next year's garden, and get my hands on some more seeds.  The kids would love a little tunnel to go through in the garden.  Maybe a bean vine tipi too?  I've never grown pole beans before, just the bush variety.  Do all pole beans grow as tall and as enthusiastically as these scarlet runners do?  Neat-O!