This is a year of transition. We’re simplifying and streamlining.
We should’ve had a few more weeks of ‘winter’, but it looks like that one day in January was it. We’ve started turning over my raised beds and fixing or adding drip irrigation. For the last two weeks, I’ve been running like a mad woman putting out one fire after another.
Last week, I had no less than a dozen urgent emails and phone calls to handle. It ranged from getting promised refunds to untangling the mess I did with this web site.
Speaking of web sites…what do you think of the new layout? At first I was going to play it safe and run the same average layout that most bloggers seem to use, but you know what, I was up for a challenge. I wanted something fresh but still easy to navigate.
Navigation was the most important thing to me. I sampled and played with well over thirty themes. Every time I thought I found the perfect one it had some odd quirk I couldn’t resolve. Finally, I narrowed it down to three. This layout won because it was easy to plug and play. I envy people who understand code so easily.
Onto the homestead.
Garden: The deer ate my strawberries down to the root ball. Some came back but most disappeared. I’m ready to put a bounty on those antlers. Greg has me convinced we need to put up a fence around the garden. It makes me angry I need to put my vegetables in jail. Even my neighbor is fencing his garden. The deer commando raids have gotten out of hand.
I blame the lack of predators. Neighbors are quick to shoot coyotes which have always kept the deer in check. It’s all about balance.
I started a few kale plants and will plant seed for snow peas and chard. I’ve never had much luck with lettuce, but I’m starting early and hope to have something edible before our crematory summers set in.
The potato seeds were put in just before Valentine’s Day so we should be able to harvest in May. The grape vines were moved to a very sunny area. Unfortunately, it’s right in the middle of a trail the deer use. I’m sure I’ll have to put a cage around those plants too.
Chickens: It’s the year of efficiency! I sold thirty adult hens, put nine roosters in the freezer, and kept back fourteen hens. They’re laying like crazy already. I was only planning to keep an even dozen, but what I thought would be roosters turned out to be hens after all, so they got a reprieve.
Rabbits: We said goodbye to our rabbits this year. Greg said it was getting harder for him to kill the bunnies and I can understand that. Food is food, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Of all the animals, they’re the easiest to harvest, but if he doesn’t want to dispatch them anymore, I won’t argue. We have enough in the freezer to last the year.
I sold the girls almost immediately, but my poor little buck was left behind. He’s a sweet little guy. I’d rather not put him in the freezer but I need to find someone who wants him as a pet before I run out of rabbit food.
Goats: Perhaps the biggest change this year will be the goats. After looking for nearly a year, I finally found a good Nubian buck. I introduced you to Captain Jack last week. He’s still a baby and a very sweet little guy. We’ll have to wait a few months before he can breed with the girls.
I think I want to find one more doe (unrelated to everyone else) and breed them later in the year. The biggest heartbreak for me will be to sell Pan and Ray Charles (the Boer goats) this summer.
Ray Charles is HUGE and handsome, but he’s a handful. Pan has been a good mother and milker. She’s due to have babies at the end of the month. I think once her babies are weaned I’ll sell the lot. If she has girl, I might keep her to breed back to Captain Jack. We still need meat for the freezer and I’m hoping she can become a dual purpose goat.
The only difference is that these babies will be dehorned so they don’t hurt the Nubians.
It’s going to be hard to let the Boers go. Pan and Ray were born here. And even mean, old me can get attached to goats. But I know my limitations. Boers are bigger than the Nubians, and those horns can be dangerous just by accident. Whoever gets them will be getting a great starter herd.
Worms: Yes, worms! For years, I’ve been saying I wanted to try vermiculture. I had plans to use a couple of tubs and try to build one myself. Last Christmas, my bestie, Mel, surprised me with a fancy worm composter.
You could’ve knocked me down with a feather. I never expected such a cool gift.
We finally got our worms, but the first few days were a disaster. They escaped in droves! I didn’t know what we had done wrong. We followed the instructions to the letter. Finally, I read somewhere that this is actually a common occurrence when they’re first introduced into a strange environment. They kept escaping and I kept putting them back. It was as if they all wanted to commit mass suicide.
I lost a handful, those that escaped unnoticed and ended up shriveling up without the aid of the nice moist bed I had made for them. I’m proud to say that the mass suicides have dwindled down to zero. They finally settled down, but for a while I thought I was a failure as a worm farmer. The worm composter is in my house and just as I was promised, there is no smell. I am a happy camper.
So what’s happening in your part of the world? Is it warm, cold? Who’s gardening this year?
What do you think of my new theme? If you refresh the page, you’ll see various pictures of the homestead under my masthead on the left. Please let me know if your browser makes the page look weird. You don’t hear of that happening very much anymore, but I’d like to be sure.