October 2013 updates

There are three updates to report:

1. The upper gate opener is installed and working well (this is a follow-up note to the previous post).

2. We got a pickup truck to assist in various tasks including the collection of firewood, because... 

(it's a 1978 F-150, 6cyl 300ci 4-speed with 4WD)

3. We got a wood stove

The stove pipe and chimney will be installed soon, then we need to fire it up and open up all the windows and leave while the initial burn-off takes place. They say it will be stinky, but not toxic.

And here is a thistle flower with bugs in it:

Photos from Slurpee Day

I took a bunch of photos today as I walked down to the mailbox after a heavy downpour:

This one was from Bethel Road on my way home from an egg run to Walmart:

I recently installed an automatic gate opener on the lower gate. It runs off a 12v marine battery which is recharged by a 5w solar panel. It used to be quite a chore to drive off the property, especially if one were going solo:

1. Open upper gate
2. Drive forward
3. Close upper gate
4. Drive down
5. Open lower gate
6. Drive forward
7. Close lower gate
8. Drive to Walmart (usually)

Now that we're happy with the results, we ordered another set of gear for the upper gate. Push-button living on the farm is just ahead.

New Kids in the Yard

Photos and video here
The other day, JoAnna and I rescued 2 newborn goat kids when their mama headed back to the barn for the night and left them right next to our house. They might have survived the night on their own, but we called Bobby the goat guy who came and brought them to the goat barn on his side of the fence. First-time goat mamas aren't so good at first, so he says. We are hoping to see them again soon, munching on what grows here in the fields.

Ears To You

These little ears are the first pick from the garden. They're small, and I'm just 10 minutes away from eating them, so I'll let you know how they taste.

The seeds we planted were provided as a free sample from Heirloom Acres Seeds. It was said to be 65-day corn, so I picked it on day 66. I'm going to leave the other ears on the stalks for a while to see if they end up larger than these first two. And that's a sunflower grown from seed, too.

Happy Harvesting!

Goat Video

This video didn't capture the sound of their slow trampling of the brittle twigs snapping under their goat feet. It sounds exactly like a crackling fire!

Play Goat Video

~40 Weed Whackers

Over the past few weeks I have been patching the fence surrounding our property, as well as enclosing the house area and adding two gates. This all started when I was faced with the decision to buy a weed whacking machine to keep the weeds mowed down so they wouldn't take over like in previous years. I initially considered buying a type of weed machine that is pushed on two wheels with the whipping line out in front. The cost is $350 plus gas (? $) and time (?). I don't know how often I would have to run the machine, but I don't exactly find mowing to be enjoyable work.
So, I decided to let nature take care of the weeds by inviting our property-neighbor, Bobby, to run his goats on our land. He had recently lost the use of some other land that he had been leasing, so he had to add those goats to the ones already on his 6-acre property next to us. I found a bunch of used pasture fencing, gates and fence posts for sale on a local swap-and-shop website, so I bought that and it turned out to be exactly enough to do the job. Bobby was kind enough to help me patch the fence over a couple of days, and now we have goats roaming the place. Here are some pictures, including one of Traveler, one of two Great Pyrenees dogs that watch over the herd:


Within the house fence perimeter, close to the orchard, wild blackberries are growing. There are hundereds more growing across the uphill side of the driveway, but the goats will be taking those as soon as they discover them. Here is a bowl from todays collection:

JoAnna has been baking breads since early this morning, making use of the Nutrimill Grain Mill and whole wheat berries. The difference it makes using freshly ground flour in bread recipes of any kind is quite amazing to me. Delicious.

2011 garden progress

Many seeds have been sprouted, and many of those have been transplanted into the garden. We tried to follow the system defined in John Jeavons' book, "How To Grow More Vegetables", but our unheated greenhouse probably set us back. Many of the initial seeds never germinated, so timings for transplanting got a bit messed up. Nonetheless, we have stuff in the ground, taking hold, and promising to feed us in the near future. At this point, we have the following in the ground:

Bush Peas
Pole Peas
Daikon Radishes (bolted)
Mustard Greens
Collard Greens
Sweet Corn (3 varieties)
Winter Squash
Acorn Squash
Spaghetti Squash
Nest Egg Gourd

Standing by to be transplanted:

Bok Choi
Beets (2 varieties)
Carrots (3 varieties)

We said goodbye to Sunshine the stray yesterday, leaving her in the care of a group of volunteers who send puppies to places where people need them. It was fun to have her around for 2 weeks, but it is good to be back to normal in the house again. A puppy needs extra care, and the 2 dogs we already have are enough for me as it is.

This is Render,

and this is Noodles.