Monday, March 30, 2015

Goat Hoof trimming

Well, this is on the list of things to do today....

OSU has some other great videos, too.  Check them out.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Busy work

It has been a while since my last post.  We are getting some much needed rain so with it being so boggy out, what better time to drop a quick post?  This season has been fairly dry in terms of snowfall and rain so I will keep my complaints of the mud at bay.  We sure need it... the rain, not so much the mud.  Unless you're a duck or goose, or even a chicken looking for some worms.

We've been a little busy around here these past few weeks with getting things ready for the growing season and several road trips, during which we have acquired a few more critters.  One is a little black cat we named Minnie.  She is a mini version of the other two black cats and she has the loudest purr I've ever heard.  She loves to play and has made a good friend with Liza also likes to play.
Minnie, Opal, Winky & Liza

The other addition was the purchase of 5 Hereford cattle, two that were bred.  We had not planned on purchasing cattle this year but we had the opportunity and it all worked out in the long run. Now we are getting a crash course education on what to expect or what we may experience.

The youngest cow calved early Tuesday morning.  A few logistical problems between mama and calf in the nursing department, but all has been settled out and the two of them are quite the pair.  

Nap time
All of the tomato seedlings and the jalapeƱo seedlings have been transplanted into grow bags.  There were a few that didn't make it but overall the transplanting has been a success.  Now to keep the damn mouse out of them.  They always nip the tops off the seedlings, sometimes killing the plant.  Greenhouse needs to be entirely cleaned out to see if the cats can flush out the culprit!

I did get more tomato seeds started as soon as the tray became available and the cabbage seeds I started have sprouted.  By the time they are ready to transplant it should have warmed a bit more outside and be safe to transplant. And I still have about 75 more pepper plant varieties to transplant into their grow bags.  The kids help put dirt into the bags and I move the seedlings into the bags. A team effort makes the job go much more quickly.

And I really like the temperature controller for the grow mat.  It does a great job in keeping me from cooking my seeds during the daylight hours and keeping the mat warm during the night.

Raspberry and gooseberry plants have been trimmed and the few strays have been transplanted back into their respective spots and the area mulched.  The flower patch have been weeded, mulched and ready to go.  I have some more raspberry plants to transplant, as well as some marionberry plants acquired from a dear, sweet neighbor lady.


The garden has been tilled and awaits another pass at a deeper depth.  It started to rain before I had a chance to go another round so it we don't get any more significant rain within the week I'll be able to give it another pass and get some more straw tossed into the mix.  I have a new plan to try this year that will involve more mulch in the garden and planting more companion plants together.  I am hoping it will improve the soil and help keep moisture in during those hot summer months.

Now all I need to do is to finish up my planning out the garden on paper while using my old plan from last year so as to not plant the same or similar plant families in the same spot.  GrowOrganic has a good list of plant family rotations that can be found here.   I can't wait to get into the garden, how about you?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Garden planning

Gardening will be in full swing soon so just a few reminders when you are planning your garden.

* Plant what you and your family members like to eat.  Don't waste garden space and water on something like rhubarb, or okra, if you and the family don't like it. 

* Make a list of what you want to grow.  This will help in your selection and in finding plants that will grow in your conditions.  And go to my past post here on how much to grow for your family:  Ball Blue Book of Canning The BLUE book has a chart of how much to grow of certain varieties to feed a family for a year.

* Know the number of growing days for your location.  Some locations you can grow year round, others may have (X) number of days. When is your first and last date of frost?  Go here for that.  What are the average high/low temperatures for your growing season?  Any of the weather channel type of sites have some graph of average past temperatures for your area. This information will also help in your plant/seed purchases.

* Plant selection.  What grows well in your area?  If you live in the desert look for varieties that can tolerate heat and possibly shade.  You may have to plant under shade screen or grow things in pots under a deck.  If you live in areas that have a short growing season then look for varieties that don't require a long time to come to full maturity.  You may have to start seedlings indoors - like peppers and tomatoes.  Don't have a lot of space?  Then you may have to grow in pots or raised beds.  There are several varieties that do well in containers.  Do you get lots of rain?  Well, you're getting my point.  Look for varieties that are adapted to those kind of conditions. Which leads us to my next point....

* Look at the location you are planning to start your garden in.  What kind of soil is it?  Clay?  Sandy?  A mix of both?  Rocky?  You may have to amend your soil with some good compost or straw.  Don't use pine shavings.  Those are best used around berry plants.  But do consider using mulch, be it straw, leaves or lawn clippings, since it greatly assists in retaining soil moisture and keeping weeds at bay.

* And if you are gardening in the same spot you did last year, don't plant the same variety in the same spot.  Like planting tomatoes where you planted tomatoes the year before or potatoes where tomatoes were planted.  They are susceptible to the same diseases or pests.

From Mother Earth News: Maintain Healthy Soils using Crop Rotation:

The 9 plant families they suggest to rotate
  • Onion family: onions, garlic, leeks and shallots
  • Carrot family: carrots, celery, parsley and parsnips
  • Sunflower family: lettuce, sunflowers and a few other leafy greens
  • Cabbage family: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and many other leafy greens, as well as rutabagas and kohlrabi
  • Spinach family: beets and chard
  • Cucumber family: cucumbers, melons, squash and gourds
  • Pea family: peas and beans
  • Grass family: corn, wheat, oats and rye
  • Tomato family: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes
ie: onions one year, then carrots next, followed by sunflowers.....

So get out those gardening catalogs, get online (some companies are doing 'free' shipping) and get your seeds ordered!  (yes, I'm nagging you!) :-)  Even though you may have snow or frost on the ground now, it won't last forever.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Something's up ... update?

As a follow up on the last outing to pick up feed and some grub, I think I stumbled upon an explanation as to where all the 'shoppers' have gone.  They are staying home and paying for their healthcare extortion fees.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Old books and information

Free vector >> Vector clip art >> Books clip art

With winter making a last hurrah before spring makes its 'official' debut in a few weeks what better time to do research on gardening, livestock, homesteading or just reading a good book. 

Below are a few online book sites for some of those old time books that are no longer in publication or classic reading publications that can be viewed online and, in some cases, downloaded to your computer or reading devices. 

animal, farmer, egg, chicken, farm, vertebrate, work View Large ...For example, I wanted to read The Henwife: Her Own Experience in Her Own Poultry-Yard.   So I went to Forgotten Books, typed in the title and at this link it appears with a choice to download to an app, read online, download a pdf, read on a kindle or add to your library wish list to read later. 

Do some reading now or download and save for later.  There is a lot of good information out there today that may not be available tomorrow.

National Ag Library Digital Collections (USDA farmers bulletins, too)

Forgotten Books

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Online Books Page (does a net search of readable online books... doesn't get them all but does a good job)

Hathitrust Digital Library (can't always download but if you can find the book here you usually can find them on other sites listed)

Google Books

Cornell University

Core Historical Literature of Agriculture

Project Gutenberg

Loyal Books (audio books)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ag Building and Equipment Plans

Just sharing one of my bookmarked links that may be of some use or interest.

The University of Tennessee published their Agricultural Building and Equipment Plan list.  It has plans for greenhouses, various animal handling and housing plans, water storage, bee hives, food storage, dog houses, food storage, sheds, etc.

You may find something worth while to print out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Greenhouse update

It's been a while since my last post. All the snow is gone, the creeks and streams have subsided a bit and all that is left is mud.  The duck and goose are delighted.  I'm sick of the mud.  My right boot has a hole in it.  Why do boots get holes in them when you need them most?!  I want the snow back but spring appears to be around the corner.  The black birds, robins and doves have come back.  Well, we had one robin that hung around all winter but now his buddies have decided it has warmed up enough to come back, too.

We've been busy with farm taxes these past couple of weeks and now that the taxes have been sent off to the tax man, I can get something productive done.  Tomato and pepper seedlings are ready to be transplanted into grow bags to give them room for their roots to grow.  Then I'll start some more tomatoes and herbs.  Tomatoes are struggling a bit but the peppers are going great.

The best investment we've made for starting seeds early was a temperature controller for the heat mat.  I'm guessing that there was probably a good 95%+ germination rate on the tomatoes and peppers combined.  It has worked very well. I can now set the mat temperature to around 70 degrees whereas if just plugged in it would go upwards around 90 degrees and cook them.  The trays had to be brought in overnight since I have a mouse problem again. The few tomatoes I transplanted were victim to a mouse that nipped off the tops of the tomato seedlings.  So a good cleaning out of the greenhouse is in order .... with all three cats in attendance just in case the dirty bugger shows its face!

The greenhouse had some casualties over the winter.  When we had that Arctic Blast a few months ago, I must've bumped the temperature dial to a lower temp and the plants all received various stages of damage.  All of the citrus trees got zinged.  The blood orange lost some leaves and a couple of small branches split but overall the cold didn't affect it too much.  I did loose all the leaves off the lemon and lime trees.  Both are struggling a bit but they are starting to sprout some new growth.  It will take some time for them to recover.

It appears that most of dragon fruit cacti are a total loss but they have not produced any blooms nor fruit for the past several years.  There was one pot that did not freeze that was next to the aloe that did, so go figure.  I would not consider the dragon fruit an important factor in our food production, but they sure are fun to grow.  I have some cuttings that were in the house so I'll pot them later.

As stated above, I lost part of the aloe plant (important for cuts and burns) and two of the three pepper plants I had overwintered died.  That is one thing we are going to have to consider when we set up a new greenhouse and that is to how to heat it during the colder months.  With a plastic greenhouse, a wood stove would not be very compatible with the surrounding plastic at this time. It is not exactly heat resistant.  So for now it is an electric heater that is placed under a tent like structure so I don't heat the entire greenhouse.

tomatillos 2014

This week I plan on getting the tomato and pepper seedlings transplanted into grow bags to allow them good root growth so I can transplant them later in the garden.  With a short growing season, you need all the advantages you can get.

It is time to work on your gardening plans.  Even if you are sitting in your house waiting for the bad weather to pass it is a perfect time to plan get your garden plans in order.