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May 2016
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Most visited this week:

How to help chicks during hatching

Moth pupa in the soil

Fighting tomato blight with pennies

Square foot gardening rebuttal

Automatic chicken door

May 2015

A year ago this week:

Comfrey for goats

Warre Langtroth adapter top

Monorail update

Our most dependable fruit plants

May 2014

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mark Disbudding
collage of day we went for disbudding

Today was the day Aurora was old enough for disbudding.

Dr Fuller in Gate City was so gentle our little goat barely let out a whimper.

We were very impressed with Dr Fuller's style and operation.

Posted Mon May 2 16:21:02 2016 Tags:
White strawberry

Sometimes, I think I get more of a kick out of anticipating coming attractions than I do out of eating the actual fruits. Then I remember the glories of strawberry season, sitting in the grassy aisles and gorging on drip-down-your-chin juices. Nope --- consuming the real fruit is even better than eating the developing berries with my eyes.

Blueberries and gooseberries

But this is eye-candy season only, so I thought I'd share the joy. In addition to the baby apples I posted about last week, there are scads of berries beginning to bulk up on the Tomato flowersvine. Our dependable gooseberries and northern highbush blueberries chug along with no help from me, and the equally dependable raspberries are getting ready to bloom.

And, even though it's not really a fruit (unless you want to put cucumbers and butternut squash in that category), our first tomato is blooming too. So many joys ahead in this gardening season!

Posted Mon May 2 07:00:05 2016 Tags:
monorail modern

We've hit a dead end on our quest to buy a monorail.

The nice guy at the Japanese factory stopped returning our emails.

We might need to plan a trip to Japan to make it happen?

Posted Sun May 1 14:51:59 2016 Tags:
Goat fun

I'm starting to realize that kidding season is similar to strawberry season --- our impassable floodplain suddenly doesn't seem so difficult for visitors. Which is great since I hate to leave the farm and love seeing family and friends. Thanks for coming, Joey and Mom!

Posted Sun May 1 07:22:07 2016 Tags:
Anna using harvest sickle to forage for our goat

The more Anna uses the Harvest Sickle the more she likes it.

It's the perfect tool for cutting handfulls of rye to take to your goat.

Wear a glove because it's extremely sharp!

Posted Sat Apr 30 16:30:42 2016 Tags:
Mulching with newspaper

This year, I'm using all of the experiments that I summed up in Small-Scale No-Till Gardening Basics to streamline our vegetable garden without ditching the biological imperative to keep the soil happy. To that end, I'm applying wet newspapers beneath straw wherever possible, which means all I have to do is weed the small area right Growing broccoli plantsaround the base of each plant rather than the whole bed before mulching.

While the method doesn't save any time in the short term, it does seem to reduce my need to weed dramatically over the course of the year. That said, if you live in a windy region and have relatively high raised beds, I'm not sure I'd recommend the trick. Last month's newspaper mulches blew all over the yard during what turned out to be the windiest month our farm has had in a decade. Hopefully the current lull will extend for long enough to let the paper meld to the soil below and the straw above, preventing my hard work from blowing away.

Posted Sat Apr 30 07:10:45 2016 Tags:
mineral feeder location

The kids were jumping from the milking stand into our mineral feeders using them like a sand box.

Crossing my fingers that moving them to another wall will put a stop to it.

Posted Fri Apr 29 15:31:43 2016 Tags:
Mother goat

A week after the birth of her first kids, Artemesia has already given us nearly half a gallon of milk. Yes, I know you usually don't milk a goat so soon and the milk does have a slightly bitter colostrum taste to it. But it was necessary, as you can see by peering at our doe's udder in the photo above. Artemesia is so productive that the kids are keeping fed by drinking nearly entirely from her right teat, so it's up to me to keep the left half of her udder drained every night.

Climbing goat kids

I would worry that the kids aren't getting enough to eat, but their bellies are often full and their energy levels are always high. Well, until they suddenly decide it's time to nap, at which point the buckling settles down in my lap for an extended petting session while Aurora snuggles up against her mother.

Bowing goat

Artemesia is a joy to milk compared to Abigail. Her huge teats allow me to use two fingers instead of just one, and the milk squirts out about five times faster than it did from our other goat.

Lest you think Artie is invincible, though, I feel obliged to mention that she had a fit during her first two milking sessions. Despite all of my pre-milking training, when it came time for the rubber to hit the road our doe fought the headlock, stamped her feet, and tried to sit down to hide her teats.

Leaping goat kid

Then, two days later, it was as if a switch flicked on. Or perhaps the change occurred because the kids were getting old enough to jump on the milking stand and hang out? Whatever the reason, the milk started to flow fast and furious and I haven't had any trouble since.

(Well, yes, it is a constant necessity to watch out for flying goats. But such is life on our farm.)

Posted Fri Apr 29 07:14:06 2016 Tags:
Developing apples

I'm trying really, really hard not to get my hopes up about non-berry fruit this year...and failing miserably. The deal is --- we still have 2.5 weeks until our frost-free date, so anything could happen.

That said --- look! Baby apples! This is the moment of truth, when old flowers drop off the trees if they were damaged or went unpollinated. And, yes, the earliest blooming variety lost all of its flowers and even the later bloomers lost up to three quarters of their potential fruit due to a 21-degree night in early April.

Luckily, trees make many more blooms than they could ever turn into apples. So, barring a late, hard freeze, this might be a good fruit year after all.

Grape flower buds

Our apple flowers seem to pretty reliably turn into fruits if they're not nipped, but I'm having to rein in my excitement a bit over our grape vines. The seedless varieties we like to eat are very sensitive to fungal diseases, so I planted a few vines right up against the sunniest sides of the trailer a few years ago in hopes of creating a dry microclimate they can enjoy. This is the first year I've seen bloom buds on those trailer-side vines, so just maybe this year we'll actually get grapes. Fingers crossed!

Posted Thu Apr 28 06:33:48 2016 Tags:
Anna planting early tomato plants

Our early tomato plants are too big for their britches.

We decided to risk a killing frost and put 6 of them in the ground today.

Posted Wed Apr 27 15:42:22 2016 Tags:

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