Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pumpkins in the Summer

Pumpkins are traditionally a fall crop...and most people get pneumonia in the winter.

I planted pumpkins mainly as a shade crop to protect the other, more delicate vegetables from the harsh heat and sun. Pumpkin vines have broad leaves that created a lot of shade in a quick amount of growing time. There are pumpkin vines intermingled everywhere in the gigantc garden.

And of course, where there are pumpkin vines, there are pumpkins. I picked the first one yesterday and couldn't wait to make it into my favorite pumpkin muffins. This small pie pumpkin, grown from seeds saved twice over from a Halloween pie pumpkin 2 years ago, yielded three cups of mashed pumpkin. That's the perfect amount for my recipe.

I am of the belief that pumpkin muffins will cure my pneumonia too.

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Update

Summer is here in all its fiery fury. Nothing can survive in the greenhouse now. It's really a giant plastic oven with the heat turned up to broil. The camper and the sheds are HOT inside. The whole ranch is hot and only a little less hot in the shade. If I need to cool off, I stand under the sprinkler in the gigantic garden...which should be called the Dill Jungle. The dill should not have been planted in the middle of the garden. Especially since it's Giant Dill, a variety which grows about five feet tall. But now that it's there, it reseeds itself and will do that forever. I've decided to lop off the seedheads and drop them at the outer edges of the garden where the plants will do greater good shading other plants.

The green monsters of summer, zucchinis, have started getting big enough to pick. Every day I find more, but we tend to let them get big before we pick them because they get sliced or shredded when used at the restaurants. Bigger is better for them. If you haven't tried our zucchini patties, you're missing out!

The chicks we got in April are now fully featherd and a couple are trying to crow. It sounds like two tin cans grating against each other. I figure by the time they can crow properly it will be time for the frying pan... Not all of them are roosters though. Some look like they will be nice laying hens, a few Rhode Island Reds, a couple of Buff Orpingtons, some Barred Plymouth Rocks and more that we don't know the breed of.

Our old hens still lay but not always with consistency. Sometimes it depends on the weather. The extreme heat is hard on them. I give them lots of water and shade and even hose them off to keep them cool.

The baby sheep are getting big and fat. None have really turned out to be very friendly. I guess that's just the nature of sheep, at least the ones we have. They like me well enough if I have food, but otherwise, they'd rather not bother with me much if they don't have to.

All of our baby goats are getting big as well, except for Violet's little ones, the last ones born. She's a tiny goat anyways, so we don't expect her babies to do anything other than take after their momma. So far, they do in nature too, being sweet little lovebugs.

Karma the baby calf finally caught up to her mother's milk production. This was startling at first, but now I see it as a relief. I don't have to milk daily. I check Gucci to see if she's got any milk in her udder, but if not and if I don't need milk that day, I don't milk. If I know I need milk, I take Karma for a walk to the goat pen and leave her there until the next feeding so Gucci can make me some milk.

I also milked the goats a few days last week. I may separate their babies now and just milk them daily since they sure do love that sweet feed and can't stand not to be milked once started. They all know to run right over to the stand, get in it, and put their head in the lock for treats. I'd forgotten what a pleasure it is to milk the goats. Most of them cooperate and it's an easy way to keep up on hoof maintenance.

The only rebel is Tsica. She kicks pretty bad. I'd read an article about a family whose children milked all their goats. They'd tie one rear leg up high to prevent kicking. This works fairly well for Tsica. She still kicks backward but can't hit me or the bucket. She gives a good amount of milk to where it's really silly not to milk her. I figure over time she'll calm down like Ms. Cow, her sister, finally has. (I don't have to use hobbles on Ms. Cow anymore. We just lean against each other like old friends.)

In other news, Bruce Goose has been confirmed to be a girl by the male Pekin ducks... Poor Bruce.