Friday, March 30, 2012

Gigantic Garden Update

There are lots of things popping up in the Gigantic Garden already. Some are mysterious as they're still too small to identify and they were planted by children with the purpose of being random. Here are some images from this morning:

Cauliflower about ready to be eaten.
Garlic and beets

This is a green onion from last year that's been
around too long and starting to grow a flower.

Seedlings of???

Purple Bachelor's Button

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coming Soon: A Better Place to Milk

Gucci has been keeping an eye on all the commotion by her corral. My wonderful, creative, hard-working neighbor, Manny, has agreed to finish up what my original idea for the milking area was going to be. I wanted a place to milk the goats, to milk the cow and a place to store hay all in one. That was supposed to be the 12x12 ramada. It worked except that it has a dirt floor and Gucci has a really long neck when the hay isn't properly covered by the tarp. There are no gates to really keep her out, and as you might imagine, she's incredibly strong when she wants something.

Construction began Monday. I ordered the gravel mix for the concrete. My neighbor and I waited until the truck arrived and dumped out the goodies. I could tell he was anxious to get to "the depot" as he calls Home Depot, so we could buy the wood for framing up the concrete area. Manny doesn't waste time. He isn't slow, and he doesn't procrastinate. I often show up in the evening, surprised at all he's done since I left in the morning. But then again, I've had lots of bad experiences when hiring others to get things done.

Basically, the ramada will be divided into three sections. A large place for the hay, with a gate that closes so Gucci can't get to it when she's out on her usual free ranging walk. A three foot wide, twelve foot long section with gated entries on either side so I can trim Gucci's hooves or milk her. And a smaller section with a gate so I can milk the goats on their stand. The structure will have half walls, about eight feet high to keep animals out when I need them out.

The design for the cow area was gleaned from an image off of Spirited Rose Farm's website explaining how to trim a cow's hooves by hand. You can see the article and the image here. It's a simple layout. The cow is butted up next to a wall and fenced in with openings allowing the handler to reach the important parts like the udder and hooves. A feed bin can be placed at either end of the stall depending on which side of the cow the handler needs to work on. Since Gucci isn't twelve feet long, I plan to have ropes affixed to the wall that will hook to the fence right behind her butt so she won't back up. This is all well and good in theory, mind you. I still have never milked a cow in my life. I continue to labor under the delusion that Gucci is a gigantic goat.

Tuesday Manny and his grandson laid out the concrete framework. They also set in the 4x4 posts to which the fencing and gates will be affixed. The beams were concreted into the ground. They work in the cooler hours of the morning. (Today it reached over 80 degrees by 11 AM.) There is a lunch break and by then I'm off to get other work done elsewhere.

In the picture to the left, you can see the three large wood beams sticking up along the cow milking area. I had to move Gucci's corral back a ways to allow room for construction.

This morning, Manny and his grandson poured half the concrete. He explained that since this area is larger than the Veggie Shack, he is going to do the concrete in two shifts. He'll likely do the rest tomorrow morning. When I left this morning, he'd gone to eat lunch and the concrete was in. It looked pretty good to me, but he said he'd be back to smooth it out some more.

Imagine an eight foot wall on the left side of this and 2x6 fence beams across those vertical posts. Oh, and a huge cow in there happily eating grain and hay while I sit and milk her. Hopefully Gucci will like all of this!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brave Sheep

This is Baby Sheep # 1, also known as Brave Sheep or Braveheart. We call her that because, of all the Barbados Sheep, she is the friendliest. She walks right up to us when the others dart and run. Yesterday morning she wasn't feeling so hot. She retired to the sheep house and pawed the ground. She'd sit, stand, sit, lay. Just couldn't quite get comfortable. Brave Sheep was also the last pregnant sheep in the pen.

This is Brave Sheep's husband (he's a polygamist, by the way). His name is Lucky. He's grown ever so much more handsome than the day we brought him to live at the ranch. He was only three months old then. He's also in to older sheep, as evidenced by his other wife, DoeDoe.

We had the good fortune to witness the birth of Brave Sheep and Lucky's little baby girl. It took a while, and the new mom was a little confused by the whole process, but everything came out okay in the end:

The baby was big, so we figured it was a single birth (after we waited around and watched, hoping for a second.)

Brave Sheep's Baby even passed the official Chicken Inspection. The little one was soon up and seeking food. Brave Sheep wasn't so brave about someone touching her milkmakers, so I eventually crawled in there and held her still until her baby could get to the milk supply.
And so the births are done in there for this year. Whew.

We await the arrival of Gucci Cow's baby any day now...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Udder Watch 3-22-2012

Seriously, it's getting HUGE.

Violet's Babies

Violet's Babies not long after they were born March 22, 2012.
She had a boy, Vinnie, and a girl, Vicky.
They were very sleepy this morning.

Here they are in the evening, a lot perkier!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Veggie Shack

I wanted a place I could wash the veggies at this spring. Nothing fancy. Maybe a concrete pad, a ramada, a utility type sink. So I sent out for estimates. My husband suggested I ask my neighbor, Manny, if he would be interested in building it for me.

Well, not only was Manny's estimate lower, he was planning a building. Not a ramada...a real building with walls, a roof, windows, a door.

We started construction a couple of weeks ago, and I had agreed to help in as much as I could. First the area was cleared and a concrete pad was set. Then Manny and his grandson framed the whole thing, hooked on the walls, set the roof, added the windows and door and BAM it was done. Just like that. It's the best building I have out there. I love it.

This morning I started painting it. First the primer and then a coat of Barn Red from WalMart. I need to do another coat of the red and go back and do all the trim in the cream color I have left over from the outhouse.


1st coat of paint

Udder Watch

From this morning, March 20, 2012:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Baby Barbados

Yesterday morning, March 12, 2012, another little Barbados joined the herd of sheep. Her mother (cleverly named Baby Sheep #2) was tending her newborn well and even let me hold the little one while she watched over me and gave me a few sniffs to be sure I wasn't up to anything bad. The baby is already up and running around with the others.

We only have one more sheep to give birth, Baby Sheep #1. She looks like she could go any day now!

Pepper Popped and an Update

Mom: Pepper  Dad:Mojo

My favorite milk goat, Pepper, had her babies unexpectedly, sneakily, and apparently very quietly on March 5, 2012 while my neighbor was busy working on the new little veggie sorting area*. She went and hid behind the Little Tikes cottage house and gave birth to two beautiful baby girls which we named Salt and Paprika. Salt had blue eyes (like her father: Mojo), but they've since changed to brown. Paprika has wattles--really cool skin tag like dangling thingies that are on either side of her neck. Both babies are very healthy and sneak up behind their mom to drink. Pepper is a funny goat. She doesn't much care for small children or other goats' kids, for that matter. Luckily, she seems to like her own kids just fine.

*I've been unable to post much on the blog because I've been far too busy with several other projects. My neighbor has graciously agreed to be hired on to build a small outbuilding we can use for produce cleaning, sorting, and packaging. He is also in the process of plumbing out lines and faucets to EVERY SINGLE PEN. I can't even imagine what it will be like not to have to drag a hose to fill the buckets for all my critters to have fresh water. It's going to save me so much time and frustration.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Second Half Planted

The second half of the garden was seeded with a variety of veggies and planted with tomato, eggplant, and bell pepper seedlings today. Thanks to my helpers! Angelica was able to finagle the neighbor boy into getting his hands dirty in the soil.

There are still many seedlings in the greenhouse waiting to be placed in the ground. Once construction is done on the little outbuilding in front of the garden (which we plan to use to rinse and sort the harvests) the garden will be set into full swing.

In this picture you can see the row of dill which reseeded itself from last year's crop.