Homestead life goes on even when it’s hard.
Garden: My garden is all over the place. Some things were successful, others still need time to show their worth.
Part of the problem came from the flip-flopping temperatures in March. Usually, I have everything planted in March and harvested by May, but this year the fluctuating temperatures kept me cautious. I planted late. It got really hot by May so pretty much all my plants stopped growing.
They should resume once it cools off a little. If I had some shade cloth it might help, but it’s too late in the year to start now.
Greg planted cherry tomatoes in a protected box by his shop and they burst out almost all at once. It was hard to know what to do with them all.
We planted loofas back in May and they are just now beginning to grow gourds. Okra, corn and peppers also got a late start. I’m getting a few peppers, but the corn and okra won’t be ready until September.
Front yard garden: This was the major project for the year. I tore out everything but the mature foundation trees. We raised the soil level another five inches because we had some serious erosion.
I planted grapes and blackberries in out of the way, but easy to reach areas. The rest is being landscaped with flowering bushes and bulbs. I have a l-o-n-g way to go. My ultimate goal is to create an old fashioned cottage garden, no grass, just ground covers, a stone walkway, and mounds of flowering shrubs and flowers. Timeline: 3 years. I think I’m off to a good start, but it looks pitifully moon-like right now.
I’m afraid the ground cover for the foot paths is going to be expensive to plant. If anyone has any recommendations for a tough ground cover that can stand 6+ hours of sun and some foot traffic, let me know. I have some ajuga that’s pretty, but it prefers the shade. Dwarf mondo grass is the right height and tolerates heat, but it’s slow to spread.
It cost $500 to raise the soil level, and another $200 in plants, bulbs, and mulch. I was lucky with the plants. I bought the foundation bushes (cleyeras) at the height of the spring season, but many of the flowering plants I got recently for 75% off. All but two survived the transition and the intense heat. We’ve been watering them daily.
It’ll be next year until my flowering plants fill in. In the spring, I hope to buy more plants, but I’ll proceed slowly. I want to see how each variety does before I invest too heavily. Sometimes what you think should grow well, doesn’t, and what you never expected to survive, thrives. Mother Nature is funny that way.
Quail: Speaking of surprises. We lost all but one quail to predators. The last one was in the belly of a snake. Before all this happened, I started collecting eggs from the mated pair. I had no idea if they’d be fertile, or even if I’d have any success hatching them. I know nothing about quail except from what I read.
I was truly shocked when the eggs hatched! They are adorable and oh-so-tiny. Newly hatched, they’re not much bigger than a quarter.
Unlike chicken chicks, quail chicks are lively from the start. I wish I could’ve watched one of them hatch because the shells are surprisingly dry. It’s as if they came in luggage and just popped open the latch. There was no mucous or residue that I could find.
The only bad thing has been that the lone adult quail viciously attacked the chicks as soon as she saw them. We had to separate her. Maybe she’ll accept one of them as her mate when they’re adults.
Chickens: The predators were especially fierce this year. We lost all but two of our chickens. Just before the rash of murders, I decided to hedge my bets and collected some eggs for incubation. We got 15 chicks from the batch.
I’m glad now I went with my instincts. You never know what’s around the corner. Not only did predators eat all our chickens but two, those two stopped laying completely. Even after weeks, they’re still not themselves. I hope they come around once they’re introduced to the new chicks.
By the way, we still have one predator that has not been caught. I call him the ninja raccoon. He’s managed to evade every trap. I wish he would move on, but he knows where the food lives now, so we’ll likely always have him as a threat until he’s captured.
Goats: It’s been a successful year with goats, more or less. I learned to milk and make cheese. I only milked one goat. I had trouble with the other Nubian. The suction cups wouldn’t stay on her teats. I’m still not sure why since her teats are as big as the other one.
Next year when I’m more experienced, I’ll try again or try something different.
We kept back one Boer doeling, Velvet. She’s a gorgeous little goat. I hope to get more red babies from her.
The only baby goat we haven’t sold yet is a Nubian buckling. I don’t know why he hasn’t sold. Probably because I dropped the ball and didn’t put out ads early. I haven’t had time to keep up with advertising since we’ve been preoccupied with a certain border collie.
Da Dogs: Iko deserves a halo for being so good while we spend so much time on his sister. He’s always been patient though–just as long as dinner’s not late. 🙂
Nana is recovering. I counted the days by milestones. The first day without significant pain, the first day she had a bowel movement, the first day she put full weight on that foot. She’s getting antsy now. She wants to run but we won’t let her. Last time, she splayed out on the slick floors and nearly gave us heart attacks. This time she stays confined until she has more muscle control.
And da kitty: Jazzy is officially part of the family. I honestly don’t know if he would’ve made it another day in the wild. He was so, so skinny. We still have to work on social skills between dogs and kitten, but hopefully they’ll reach an understanding in my lifetime. 🙂 I’m having great luck with Iko. He’s curious, but not enough to bother the little guy. Jazz wasn’t too sure of the giant dog, but he’s started to see him as nonthreatening. Nana is another story. Even behind bars she’s anxious to give chase.
Having a kitten in the house again has reminded me about things only cats do–like dig in flower pots and throw stuff off tables. I solved the potted plant problem right away. All I did was line each one with pine cones. No more tossed dirt. Haven’t figured out how to keep him off the dining room table yet.
Us: In June, we lost one of our air conditioning systems. It cooled one half of the house–the half with the bedrooms. Ugh! Greg looked it over but he thinks it might need to be replaced, so we’re holding off so the bill doesn’t bite us quite so hard. One ginormous bill in a quarter is enough. We’ve managed despite the 100 degree days.
It’s been pretty tight of late, but we’ll be all right. We’ve been cutting back on the extras. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal by the end of the year. Ha! Just in time for Christmas!
That’s about it. I can’t say it’s been an easy quarter, but we’ve managed.
The icing on the stress cake happened nine days ago when I fell out of moving golf cart. Something stung me and I panicked. Unfortunately, I jumped up just as Greg was making a sharp turn and the momentum threw me out of the cart. I landed hard, scraping and spraining the whole left side of my body.
No broken bones, but I was in bad shape. It took a week just to be ambulatory again. Only road rash and bruises to remember the incident now. That’s life on the homestead.