The first figs on our Celeste
bush started turning maroon a couple of weeks ago, and ever since I've
been waiting with baited breath, hoping to taste a new fig
variety. Unfortunately, cool weather has slowed down ripening
considerably, and the only summer plants that are still bearing like
crazy are our red raspberries. The Celeste fig seemed to be stuck
With another potential
frost forecast, I decided to see if those Celeste figs were
tasteable. I plucked the fruits off the bush, cut them open...and
was disappointed to see colorless flesh inside. Unlike most
fruits, the telling color-change on a ripening fig
occurs hidden inside --- in the photo above, the fig on the left is a
ripe Chicago Hardy fig for comparison. I guess we'll have to wait
until next year to taste a ripe Celeste fig!
In the meantime, I should note that despite last winter's cold killing our Chicago Hardy plant
to the ground, we've still enjoyed perhaps a gallon of figs this
year. That harvest doesn't hold a candle to last year's bounty,
but it's not bad for a tree that started from the ground up this spring!
The new goat gate uses a Zinc
coated 4 inch barrel bolt latch to keep our new girls in.
This pasture is connected to
their Star Plate home, where they get tucked into every night before it
When you start providing
livestock with free-choice minerals, suddenly the options become a bit
overwhelming. We've narrowed our goats' selections down to:
- a pre-mixed goat mineral
- kelp (for extra trace minerals)
- table salt (iodized or noniodized is debatable. We add the extra salt because
we chose a mineral mix that's only 11% salt, but you should be aware
that some people believe you shouldn't provide additional salt since it
might prevent your goats from eating enough of the pre-mixed
minerals. If you do opt for additional salt, sea salt would be a
better choice, although more expensive.)
- baking soda (as a safety valve in case our goats' rumens get out of balance due to eating grain)
Some goat-keepers also provide:
yeast (aka brewer's yeast, for extra protein. This is more often
mixed with a processed feed that provided free choice, though.)
- Diamond V XPC Yeast Culture (as a probiotic. This is generally mixed with feed rather than being put out for free-choice eating.)
- diatomaceous earth (for internal parasite control, although data
suggests this may not actually do any good when taken internally)
And if you're worried about
your soil being particularly deficient in one or two minerals,
presumably you could provide those nutrients free choice as well if you
weren't worried about overconsumption. This last option might
hypothetically help remineralize
your soil...or you might just end up with a very healthy dog if your
canine, like ours, runs along behind the goats to slurp up their
I'll close with two extra goat shots...because they're cute. And getting fatter?
How tall did our Chicago
Hardy fig get this year?
Just shy of 10 feet, even
after the hard frost it suffered last year.
The Celeste was almost half as high.
A friend of a friend is
selling some land about twenty minutes from our farm, and I promised to
spread the word in case any of you were interested. It's priced at
a thousand bucks an acre and has a lot of potential, full of ponds,
forested mountain-land, and open fields. There's an electric
hookup on site and spring water piped down to an old house, plus logging
roads make for relatively easy access. Here's the Craigslist ad for more information.
At 177 acres, the
property has the potential to be bought by several homesteaders and
managed as an eco-village or education center. Or, perhaps more
realistically, if two or three homesteading families went in on the
property together, you could share the land without anyone digging their
financial hole too deep. If you're interested in these shared
options, leave a comment below and chat with each other --- it would
make my day if several of our readers got together and relocated nearby!
Today was a good day to harvest
We planted so many that the
birds only had a chance to nibble in a few spots.
Last year, I wrote that I dug our carrots early. And this year...I dug them even sooner. All this rain
made a couple of my cabbage heads split over the weekend, and I know
that carrots are prone to the same ailment. I'd rather get those
orange roots out of the ground before problems arise. They
probably wouldn't grow too much bigger over the next week or two anyway
since many were already heftier than store-bought!
The downside of this
fall's carrot harvest is that it's much smaller than in years
past. I dropped the ball and didn't replant after a dry spell
caused sporadic carrot germination in July. Then the straw I
mulched with (which was supposed to be weed-free, since it was the
second round from the feed store) sprouted scads of little grain
plants. As a result, carrots were getting lost in the sea of cover
crops, and I opted to pull the vegetables out before they completely
Of course, half a bushel
of carrots is nothing to sneeze at. And, if I'm honest, I would
admit that I actually grew twice as many as we wanted last year --- Mark
was getting heartily sick of carrot sticks before the winter
ended. Our fridge root cellar
will keep the carrots we did grow this year crisp and sweet deep into
the winter, and next year we'll plant many more to feed the goats.
We shipped out 8 more heated
bucket chicken waterers today.
The creek was just high
enough to need proper
neoprene hip waders.
"So, basically, you have two weedcutters now?" --- Roland
You got it!
Cleaning up weedy edges has been one of the major selling points of
goats, and I was excited (after the rain finally let up) to see how our
girls would fare in that department. To that end, I made a
temporary pasture using six cattle panels, encircling a roughly
650-square-foot problem area. This spot is where the old house
used to stand, and where blackberry brambles and honeysuckle have since
taken over the decaying wood. Could Abigail and Artemesia help us
with this thorny problem?
to!" they chorused. The top photo shows the area a day and a half
after goat action began, at which point I was already starting to be
able to see wood rather than simply a huge thicket of weeds. In
contrast, the photo on the right is the before shot, taken moments after
our goats were let into the pasture on their first day. Our girls
enjoyed the browse so much that I had to bribe them with a little sweet
corn Tuesday evening before Abigail would let me put on her leash for
the walk back to the starplate coop. (I've learned that Artemesia
doesn't need her own leash --- she just trips along behind.)
The bad news for those of
you who are itching to go out and get goats is --- I don't think our
girls are going to take the weeds down to the ground. They're so
good at carefully plucking the leaves off the stems that the blackberry
brambles and honeysuckle vines are still left standing even after the
girls are done eating. Perhaps in the dead of winter, when
pickings are slimmer, our goats will be more prone to do a total rehab
on a weedy spot like this, but I suspect we'll instead be sending Mark
in with the Swisher to bring this area back under human control. I guess that's why we got two weedcutters, right?
We finished our first goat
I used 2x2's for the frame to
keep it light and treated furring strips for the slats.
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