Monday, April 14, 2014

Corn, Trees, a Cat, Soap and Pies

It's been a little while since I blogged. Like many hobby farmers, I have a 'day job' that supports my 'habit' and also helps pay the bills for living expenses. I have been busy with that. Also with my children's many goings on: 4H meetings and duties, chaperoning a band trip, shuttling to and from school and soccer practice. Whew.

So if you're wondering what's happening at the ranch, here's a little rundown...

Today I planted heirloom sweet corn. If it's successful, expect a harvest in 76-80 days. If it's not successful, expect the cows to be eating some dried-up, failed corn stalks. I filled in the first two rows in the Three Sisters Garden. I may do more in the other rows soon. That garden is meant to be low maintenance and has some experiments going on to try to conserve water and still get a good harvest.

My husband expressed the opinion that there were not enough trees near where we want to build our house (someday--who knows when that will be?). That's true. That section of our property is fairly barren. It's supposed to be the part that's riparian, but it looks like a parched, sad, overheated desert. In general when there is a wind coming through, it comes from west to east and it can be strong enough to knock things over. Since that section of the property is so barren, it can also stir up a vast amount of dust.

The poplar cuttings I ordered from Frank Gomez ( are doing so well, and are fast growing trees which (when strategically placed) can be used as a windbreak, so I ordered more. Behold, 100 hybrid poplar trees only about three inches long:

If all goes well tomorrow morning after chores, I'll dip them in rooting hormone, stick them in soil and watch them grow like the magical things that they are. As far as I know, we have plenty of time to grow some windbreak trees to have around our house that isn't there and may not be there for years. Time: waste not, want not.
In other news, although we have had no more farm animal deaths by predation, we did manage to capture a FERAL cat. This little guy/girl went off to Pima Animal Care this morning. Just a friendly reminder to spay or neuter your cats so they don't make more and more and more. If you can keep them indoors, do so. It's safer for them than letting them roam where coyotes and bobcats can get to them. Also, it keeps the odds in favor of small farm animals surviving, and limits losses to the native wildlife. Every year we seem to get an influx of feral cats in our area. I'm sure it's new litters born from those clever parent cats that manage to not get picked off by the packs of coyotes. And every year we see the evidence of their carnage on the quail, woodpeckers, doves, and whatever else used to wear all those feathers left in piles here and there. They kill lizards, snakes and many rodents as well. They are survivors.

If you've never encountered a feral cat before, you should be aware that they are not in any way shape or form like the kitties raised with a trust of humans. Feral cats can and will bite you or scratch you. They will do so with all the malice and intent of a wild animal that feels threatened and wants to get away from you. Don't reach down and pick up a feral kitten. It will bite right through your finger. True story. 

I wished the kitty good luck on his/her journey, but it probably will not be a happily ever after. This cat was older and did not like people at all.
I made some lavender soap. I was experimenting with a different kind of oil. It came to trace faster and hardened faster than what I usually use. I waited too long to cut it and was sad that much of it broke apart.  It's still going to be good soap but won't be as easy to sell since it's not in uniform shapes/weights.

I have been ever diligent about my manure maintenance plan and have discovered new ways to make the process easier. I may write a whole separate article about the process I use to get poo turned into black gold when I have more time. In the meantime, there are daily sweep and shovel parties as well as pie hunts in the cow corral:

Thus, I shall leave you with the above happy picture. 
Remember, if life gives you poo, make compost and grow flowers.
Chase your dreams and work hard. At least you will lead a full life.

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