A week on the ranch (June 28 - July 5, 2009)
by, 07-06-2009 at 01:44 AM (1492 Views)
And just like that, half the year is gone.
This week has been monopolized by the goat pen project. I am having a new pen put in, and it is taking longer than I had hoped. I know it is necessary, and I'm looking forward to the finished product, but it really annoys me to have to share my personal time, and every morning, I've got the fencing guys rolling in at 7:30a and disrupting my peace. I am very ready for them to be done, but they will be out here at least another week.
Summer came roaring in on wings of heat and dry winds. It seemed that everything turned brown overnight, and I spent several nights laying on top of the covers, feeling the sweat puddling and dripping off of me. Finally, tonight, the heat wave seems to have broken, and it is actually a little chilly outside. Nice change, and I hope it sticks around for a while!
A week of visitors. A few nights ago, the dogs alerted me to an intruder in their run. I found a somewhat perturbed garter snake. It had obviously come in for the shade and water (one of the disadvantages of putting the garden into the dogs' run is that it seems to be a clarion call for snakes looking for a little R&R time), and didn't expect to be confronted by two large and noisy beasts. I called the pups off, and the snake slithered appreciatively away. Then, this morning, under the finch feeder, was a young turkey hen. They come in for the chicken feed, but I never see them behind the house. She had discovered the cracked corn (or possibly the sunflower seeds) I leave out for the doves, and she was also enjoying the shade and shelter. It was funny to watch two of my resident roosters, Chester and Rudy, trying to out-do each other, strutting around, hoping to catch her eye. She was just interested in the food, but I am sure the roo's were thinking, "Ooh, she's a BIG girl!" Finally, tonight, I noticed that none of the animals wanted to go back in the pasture. Sure enough, one of my idiot neighbor's dogs was in there. This is a regular occurrence, and his dogs are always very sweet and usually good with livestock, but he doesn't believe in socializing them to humans, so I can never catch them when they get in. I did coax this one out of the pasture, and she(?) seemed a little relieved to be away from the donkeys - an animal she didn't recognize. She was bone-skinny (as are all of his dogs) and chowed her way through two cans of dog food and a bowl of kibble. I assume she is out there now, sleeping off her dinner. They typically dig their way out of his property and onto mine, then stick around until he comes to drag them back.
Harvested armloads of squash this week, and I'm experimenting with zucchini chips (like potato chips) in the dehydrator. If they don't work out, I guess I'll just freeze or dehydrate them for later use, but I like the idea of having some healthy alternatives when the salt monster strikes. I also put some yam chips in, mostly because I meant to put sweet potato chips in but bought yams by accident!! So a night of experimentation today!!
The tomatoes are starting to colour up, and the grapes are looking like they may be next. My artichoke plant has a baby artichoke on it, and the citrus trees are full of green fruit!
One very successful experiment this year was the bell pepper plants from last year. I grew them in containers, and they lived through the winter, more by accident than design. Because bell peppers are annuals, I didn't expect much of a harvest from them this year, and I was even more skeptical because they didn't exactly impress me last year. I debated pulling them out to make room for new plants. Was I ever glad I didn't!! I have harvested bushels off these two plants! I am going to try to protect them frost again this winter, and see how many years I can keep them going! I also have a couple of new pepper plants, planted this year, and if I can keep them alive, they will hopefully produce next year, as well.
I learned how to make knitted pot scrubbers this week, and I ended up making them like mad, and really kind of enjoying it. I will take some to my craft booth, and the rest I'll keep to give as Christmas stocking gifts - my first official HM gift of the year!! Working on my knitted shawl as well, although at this rate, it will be more of a fall shawl than a spring shawl. Starting to wish I'd gone with yellow yarn instead of pink!
The fig cuttings I took a few weeks ago are also showing signs of rooting. New leaves anyway, which has to be a good sign, right? I am hoping to keep them alive through the winter and to plant them out in containers next spring. Within a few years, they should be big and strong enough to plant on the hill. I've had good luck starting fruit trees from seed/cuttings, but I definitely don't recommend it for someone who wants fruit within a few years! It takes these little guys a couple of years just to be big enough to plant out!!
The lavender and cactus seeds I planted also seem to be doing fine. The cactus transplants aren't really growing. I can't say they are dead, for sure, but they aren't showing any signs of rooting, and at least one of them seems to be drying up.
I scored a bag of old "Country Woman" magazines via FreeCycle this week. I have to admit, I really like this magazine!! I didn't even know it existed! These are old copies, from 1992 and such, but I found myself poring over them, cover to cover! I am considering subscribing, but I want to see a current issue or two, to decide if the quality is still as good. LOTS of great craft ideas and recipes.
Well, that is all the news that is fit to print this week. Everyone on the ranch is doing well, having survived the heat. Carly the goat seems to be recovered from her eye injury, and with luck, I'll soon have a fantastic pen that will really help when I have to catch and treat future problems. The baby chicks are now full-grown chickens, having survived that dangerous not-quite-chick-not-quite-chicken phase.
I celebrated the end of the week by making a list of all the chores I needed to do today, then ignoring them in favour of a THREE hour nap this afternoon. So I am refreshed and ready to jump into next week, and all its surprises!