A Place For The Future Past

March 25, 2007, 3:22 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

yesterday, I did a casual exam on most of the girls — during a scratch and pet, reach down under the right side and gently press and hold, waiting to feel movement (left side is the rumen, it’s easy to mistake the gyrations of a healthy rumen for a kid’s wiggling and kicking). Everyone feels fat and round and quiet — except for Lana! If you will recall, Lana was the very first to go IMMEDIATELY in to raging heat when Walnut first arrived. That would set her due date to April 1st. Next week! Can she really be that close? She doesn’t look at all ready — though her udder has developed somewhat (so far so good!). I suspect her first visit did not take and he was more successful later — but goats are full of surprises. Well, I was going to dry off Lady anyway (she has –er, had the posh corner pen to herself and her very own feed dish). So Lady went into the common pen with Lucy (who was thrilled), Frikka, Frakka, Vikki and Lulu, and Lana has the corner pen — now the birthing pen. Lana was a little nervous being alone (even though she has her buddies in the pen next to her) but really liked having her own feed dish and extra rations.

Lady, however, is pissed. Actually more of a deeply resentful. Poor Lady. Hopefully, she’ll be back in the corner pen with her own kid from Walnut, soon.

But so far the only sign of opcoming fresh milk and new kids is from Lana. One is better than none, but still hoping…


Spring. At last.
March 23, 2007, 4:30 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

At last, Spring has sprung, but it brought a cold snap with it.  Even with the greenhouse, some of the more tender seedlings got nipped, especially some of the tomatoes.  Oh well, it’s early yet.  Other starts have been threatened by other enemies — not slugs but cutworms.  Even with the soldier beetles I carefully corralled and brought in for organic control, there are one or two new munched seedlings every morning.  Cutworms come out and do their damage at night, but I keep forgetting to grab a flashlight and patrol for them.  Hmm, more research needs to be done to manage that problem.

A male hummingbird startled me, hovering in front of the kitchen window when I was at the sink.  So, they have returned from their migration!  He had been attracted to the brilliant red blossoms of the geranium in the kitchen window, but was thwarted by the glass.  Immediately I began to scrounge for hummingbird feeders and food.  A quick search found a feeder, but the collection of instant nectar is still in hiding.  Oh well, an online search came up with a home recipe for nectar and a freshly filled feeder was up within the hour.  We were rewarded with the attentions of a gorgeous male ruby-throated hummingbird who staked his claim.  A few days later and the feeder has now become Grand Central Hummingbird Station.  Hmm, more feeders and look into planting flowers that hummingbirds like.

It has been decided that the yurt area that has been selected and cleared may be too hidden from view of the house.  A second place has been found and clearing done, with clear view of the house, directly northwest.  Massive brush clearing continues — clearing blackberries and wild roses and grasses away from the Douglas fir, cedar and maples, giving them room to breathe again.  And where overgrown scrap has been cleared, favored plants dare to struggle forth — more than one precious trillium has appeared as though by magic.  Those that face certain death by goat get carefully dug out and potted — though it’s tricky digging out trillium at this stage (they do better if dug after the blooms and foliage die back) they would be surely eaten if left behind. 

Digging and trailblazing are the primary pastimes these days — we never go out without heavy boots, gloves and loppers.  Still the thorns manage to penetrate and by the end of the day we are soaking our hands in hot salt water.  But Em and I can make two passes and have fresh electric fencing up and operational — the horse area has been expanded four times the last time the largest by far.  Digging sod for instant planting areas, moving the sod to shore up eroded creek banks– the corner fencepost of the front gardenyard had been dangerously undermined.  By moving the winter creek-bed further away and stabilizing the ground around the post we hope to save that corner.  Keeping the horses off until it drys completely should help.

Mornings are still chilly, but at least the nights are now officially shorter than the days.  The trees are beginning to leaf out and lose their nakedness.  The grapevines and fig trees are still quietly sleeping, but there are buds on the kiwi and the blueberries and apples…. 

Twelve days to go
March 10, 2007, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Spring is less than two weeks away, the nights are staying around 40 degrees. The greenhouse is performing beautifully. Beet seeds have been planted, as have bush beans and radishes. Lettuce starts are in as well as eggplant and some tomatos. Spinach gets planted today, and onions. The sweet pea seeds and starts are planted (outside the greenhouse, along the yard fence), now to find the right place for the sunflower starts…
More chips are in, just in time for the forecasted rain. Now the front yard is no longer a wide, dull green, but instead a maze of pathways and flowerbeds, soon to be filled with color. In the back the new trees are all planted, and tiny buds are sprouting. Daffodils dot the scene with color, marking the spots for more color to come.
The barn had had a fresh cleaning, the stall contents are now covering the compost piles. The pea beds are ready for stringing. Next I should plot where the corn will grow, and the tomatoes (outside the greenhouse — we plan to have LOTS of tomatoes).
In front, Em has been transforming the central berm from an overgrown mess into a charming thing of beauty, little paths intersecting to a seat overlooking the new strawberry bed. Around the seat are daylily beds (and a place for more flowers later).
In the woods, more trails have been blazed, connecting the back of the barn area to the rest. The Village (directly west of the house) is a large flat area that will be perfect for a round pen and arena, clearing the small trees and brush starts soon. The small trees will be cut and saved for poles, the smaller brush will be piled and burned.
Tomorrow, Daylight savings time will begin, three weeks early. What utter rot — we already rise well before dawn. Oh well, at least I won’t be driving home in the dark.

Greenhouse is up!
March 5, 2007, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

It started six days ago, when I built the foundation — twelve by twenty-one foot 2″ x 6″ raised beds (illustration in photos section) — in a “U” shape, with a center bed with higher PH for beets. Once the boards were laid out it took a full day to form the boxes themselves. I had been hoping to get the beds amended the next day but the weather had other ideas — snow again! But now the snow is gone and the greenhouse is up!

It’s about ten foot tall at the highest (slanted roof peaking down the middle) pole frame with a heavy plastic overlay. Red very cleverly designed the west side to roll up, and a frame in the north wall for the box fan. Today we amend soil, lay watering tubing and prepare to start planting. OBOY!

Inside, the shoots are thriving. Many will need transplanting soon — leeks and onions are unruly green threads, lettuce starts are flourishing, as are the sweet peas, tomatoes, basil, cosmos and hollyhocks and black-eyed susans. Slower to sprout are larkspur, echinachea, eggplant and peppers, but there is finally life showing there. Lavender mini beds will need dividing soon. The only complete failure was the columbine — that apparently does better sown directly outdoors.

Inside the front picket fenced yard, a new flower bed had sprung up — between the cherry tree and the pond, an egg-shaped bed. Yesterday we removed sod, then dumped topsoil, sand and compost to form a shallow berm with the cement plant stand (probably will be future home to a gazing ball or something like that). As we wait for the flower seedlings to develop, a temporary cloth will lie over the empty bed, to keep it safe from cats.

Peas have been planted, in one of the outside boxes, the early crop. Wooden trellises at either end, stringing will be next — as soon as we see green shoots.

The compost pile has been divided into thirds, the center has been cleared and will be laid with fresh manure and castoff hay, then covered with the bed of rotting leaves that now rest in the north end of the pile. Once the leaves are pushed to the center row, more fresh stall cleanings (we have an abundance!) will be laid and covered, so that two thirds will be hot, one third ready to use. Hopefully we can continue to use this rotation method, along with  compost piles strategically placed around the planting areas.

Seventeen day until spring!