Time again for another update on the State of the Homestead. The weather continues to be pleasantly weird. Last year we had an exceptionally mild winter. This year we’ve had consistent rain. Not that I’m complaining. Most of the rains were brief showers, though we did have a couple of gully washers that flooded roads leading into town. Despite the rains, I’ve got the garden planted and some of it is ready to be harvested.
We’ve been picking asparagus for nearly two months. The experts say we need to stop picking now and let it go to seed to replenish the crowns. I’ve got plenty in the freezer so I don’t mind.
The Garden: The tomatoes are in full fruit. We’re picking the cherry tomatoes now. I found a real winner with a yellow cherry tomato called SunSugar. It is absolutely delicious! Very sweet. We’ve been eating them as soon as they ripen. They’ve yet to make it to the salad bowl.
The green beans are also ready to pick. It was a small package of plain old Contender green beans and each one sprouted. I tasted one off the vine. It was pretty good. Better than the French Filet beans I planted last year.
Squash, eggplant, and cucumbers all have blossoms. I hope to see fruit soon. I’m a little disappointed in the cucumber. I’m trying a new seed for Armenian cucumbers. The plants don’t seem to vine much but they do have lots of flowers so maybe they’re just shorter than I expected.
The sunflowers and my token beds of corn are shooting up. So is my edamame. It’s old seed that was buried in the back of the fridge for two years so I’m surprised it’s still viable, but I had nothing to lose for trying. If I get pods, I’ll be saving seeds from these plants.
My peppers and okra are doing well, but I think they’re waiting for more sunshine and less rain. They should start producing more by summer.
Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard look good. The ones in the full sun seem more robust. That’s good intel for next year.
Rabbits: The plan is proceeding to replace Frodo, the mixed breed rabbit with one of his sons. I’m keeping one of the daughters too. I’ll keep breeding for a larger sized rabbit until I breed his smaller size trait out. I still hope to find a home for him. I won’t rehome him until his son is old enough to take his place.
Goats: I thought I was getting rid of these guys but we’ve discovered they have a better use. A very nice lady at the tax assessor’s office helped us fill out AG exemption papers. I had kept enough receipts, photos, and sales information to prove we used the land for agricultural use. We now call the goats our Tax Breaks. We still want smaller goats. I hope to find some Nigerian dwarf goats this year to replace these bigger guys.
Greg has been considering sheep. The tax assessor has sheep and she gave us a lot of good information. They seem less trouble than goats (and less aggressive), so there’s a chance we might add a few sheep to keep the grass mowed. I’m kind of steering toward Barbados blackbelly sheep. The Barbados variety don’t have horns. The American blackbelly do. The Barbados also don’t produce wool which I prefer since I don’t want to add sheering to my list of chores.
My research suggests that what I feed my lambs will give the meat a milder taste, so I’ll be interested to see if that’s true. If we decide to raise them, I want to sell the lambs as a cash crop, and keep the adults as lawnmowers. I’m not seeing too many Barbados blackbellies in the area, so it might be a good way to diversify from what’s already out there.
Here’s a link to show you how they look.
Chickens: The evil duo who liked to eat their eggs are back to being good and leaving their eggs alone. I’ve changed their diet a little so that might have something to do with it. Also with spring in full force, they get more greens too. I’m wondering if it’s a deficiency that made those two cannibals.
The dogs: I wasn’t expecting to add animals to the homestead since it impacts our ability to travel, but we can still do day trips. Aside from the surveillance cameras outside, we also keep two cameras inside to watch the dogs while we’re out.
We’ve discovered they’re amazingly lazy while we’re gone. Nana (the border collie who wants to rule the world) does the most patrolling. She lets big brother, Iko know when there’s real trouble. You do not want to see a paranoid rottweiler coming at you. That is just too much dog.
Nana is clever though. She can hear when the camera is moving. We operate it through our cell phones. If we pan the room her head snaps to the sound of the camera. We bought a second camera that allows us to talk to the dogs. Yes, we talk to our dogs.
The camera says it’s really a baby monitor. The dogs are my babies so I guess I’m using it right. It’s got two-way communication and night vision. It gives me peace of mind to see that everything is all right. The neighbor is just down the road if we need someone to investigate further.
The future: I finally bought the trays and seed I needed to start a fodder system for the animals. I’ll probably only do a test run during the warmer months and do the big trial for the winter months when there are less fresh greens available to feed the animals. I found the perfect shelving system at a garage sale. The trays I bought new because I wanted to make sure there would be no cross contamination from previous plants. You’d be surprised how many diseases your plants can pick up while they’re being shipped or stored.
The other plan for later this year are mealworms (for the chickens). Mealworms are an excellent source of protein. I was going to do red wigglers but the place where I want to house them is not quite ready yet. Mealworms on the other hand require minimal housing. I’ll post pictures on the next homestead update.
We’ve been busy despite the weather. We’ve had some serious appliance malfunctions too that will be costly. How costly we’ll discover today. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. If you read my Sunday post, you know I’ve been malfunctioning too, but I really think I’m getting better. No more spinning rooms.
How is it in your neck of the woods? What’s new?
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