Sunday, July 30, 2006

Summer fun!

So here's mom and son, enjoying Lassies breakfast grain ration. Baby Berry and Chapelle actually slipped out through a loose point in the fence, but fortunately stayed close because mom Lassie did not. Our neighborhood walking ladies alerted us to the situation, and the two naughty boys were quickly rounded up.

Today's garden harvest was pretty good. Tomatoes are such monsters we had to add more support again for like the 4th time. Garden is a riot!

No day can be complete without a ride around the pasture on your goat!

Chicken house is getting there. Roof is on, and actually now has all siding except the back done. J is calking and painting the inside. Soon we can order Speckled Sussex hens and the pensioners get to "retire".

Friday, July 28, 2006

Where Newt's cute.

Someone actually dumped our cat Newt, where we lived in Eastern Washington back in 2003. She was maybe 6 months old when she turned up, all bones and hunger. Whoever did that to her is a complete cretin, but they also missed out on the cat of a lifetime. Newt is a small kitty, but packs the personality of a half dozen cats at least.

She's got the notion that her tail is some crazed mutant creature that follows her everywhere. Some days she's had quite enough of it, aiming to catch and dispatch said creature. Newt will sit absolutely still, watching her tail twitch out of the corner of her eye, then do some half-roll-leap for her tail that'd make a stunt person envious. When she doesn't get the "creature" she sits, and again stares back at that twitchingly elusive snake. Then leaps again, with a ferocious half-roll the other way, always winding back up in her zen pose, ready for another try. Newt will do this repeatedly, over and over. If you hear some sort of ruckus -- fumblings and bumpings -- out of sight in the house, most likely you'll look, and there she is in mid-attack... on herself. After which she'll look at you as if to say, "What? Is there a problem pink-monkey???"

One of Newt's other favorite pass times is to pose someplace... someplace she's never posed before, and to sit there until we notice her. We call it a "Newt, being cute" moment. One might find her on top of Luna's dog house, on a pile of building materials, perched under a new lawn chair, ensconced in the wheel-barrow... you get the drift. Trouble is that she HATES being photographed. If you get the camera to take a picture you have to be quick to snap the spot-of-the-day... otherwise she politely, but quickly leaves the area after a curt "Meow!" Sort of like, "I thought we agreed, I'm cute, but no pictures!"

At any rate, now and again we get a lucky snap, before she notices.

Here's one of her trying out the corn patch as a place of cuteness.

We thought a random, where-Newt's-cute, post now and again was essential, since her imagination on spots to occupy seems to know no bounds!

Anyway Newt is a delight. I recommend you rescue a kitty today as they fair far worse than dogs when abandoned, many being euthanized rather than adopted.

Of course this is only if you are ready/willing to give them a good home and the love they deserve. Cats may be independent, but they need you every bit as much as a dog or any other pet does. Here's some General Cat Care info (PDF file) at the ASPCA. Additional info on cat care can be found at Healthy Cats For Life.

And last but not least, always Spay and Neuter!!! There are far too many unwanted and abused cats... no need to make more!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Froggy went...

So hot! At least for here. I spot watered with rain barrel water and a watering can along the house, where we have some flowers and herbs planted, and the heat builds up via reflection. Hopefully this will tide them over for another day slated to be between 80 and 90 if the weather report can be believed.

At first I thought it was a leaf, but no, I definitely detected some movement as I sprinkled. We have a little denizen in the savory it appears, and I captured this visage with the camera. Click to see a closer view.

I was so glad to see her! We've wondered why we have heard, and seen so few frogs this spring. I'm sure she was debugging the flower beds along the house, so I hope she plans to stay, and hopefully brought family and friends with her.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Now what are we up to?

Well, in case you’ve been hiding in a cave the past month or so (lucky you!), let me bring you a news flash – IT’S HOT!!
It seems like most of the world is in a heat wave these days. Maybe it’s global warming, maybe only temporary. In any case, it’s got us thinking about time, labor and water use. Seven Trees is embarking on a research mission:

1. Find vegetable cultivars that can either do well in the heat (i.e. less water and fast harvest) or cultivars that can cope with damp & chilly weather (i.e. plant & harvest them before full summer hits). Hopefully we can find some that are developed for the far north, where the growing season is short. With the right varieties, we could plant in March (with help from row covers, greenhouse, cloches) and harvest in June. We also need to look into using the greenhouse better. Maybe try melons or the more heat-loving peppers in it.

2. Improve our water collection & distribution systems. Hand watering is fine when
you’re talking about a few adorable sprouts, between plentiful rain showers. It’s a whole n’other story when a gang of rowdy tomatoes and zukes are overtaking the entire acre, rioting for more more more water in 100 degree heat. We looked at methods used in countries like Kenya. Low input, low tech like bucket drip irrigation systems. Basically 5 gallon buckets hung high enough to push water through drip tapes in the garden beds. You fill them once a day and let gravity do the work. We really want to avoid installing anything that depends on the local water association, since rates will always rise, and rationing (voluntary now) is always looming. Part of our infrastructure goal is to set up a tank farm (a series of connected rain barrels) near the house, with the overflow routed through a culvert and into an underground cistern. The cistern will be in a paddock near the garden, and a hand pump should give enough lift to fill buckets with. The entire set-up should give us from 1000-1500 gallon rainwater storage capacity, depending on the size of cistern we put in.

3. Look at permaculture plants. Fruiting trees, bushes, perennials, that are cold-hardy and drought-tolerant once established. There are some likely candidates called sea berry, honey berry, wolfberry and hardy kiwi, to name a few. Once they were past their first year, they would rarely need watering and supposedly don’t have pest or disease problems in our area. Then we’d always have a source of fresh produce, no matter what conniptions the climate went through.

We also bought 300 bricks for .30 each at a closeout sale. These will be the edging for the herb bed we're digging along the front fenceline, 2 feet wide and 70 feet long.

p.s. If any generous benefactor wants to contribute $5000 for us to have a well drilled, we'd reward you with eggs and produce and copious homebrew!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Won't you be our neighbor?

Looks like our less-than-neighborly neighbors are throwing in the towel. Here's a look at the sale listing if anyone is interested in a nice country house.

Another house on our street is for sale too.

Speaking of houses, the new hen house is coming along nicely.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chillin'... critter-style -

The four-leggeds are all enjoying the lovely summer weather. We humans are a little less laid back....I got a lesson in pressure canning from neighbor - using the canner he gave us, jars he bought for us, peas he grew, picked and shelled. It was nice to get a helping hand figuring it out. Anything with the potential to blow up in my face, like a pressure canner, creeps me out. So far we've been eating right out of the garden and don't have enough extra to can yet. I don't think we could keep up with much more. A small freezer is next up on the list, so we can hopefully stash fresh stuff there until we have time to process it further.

Looks like our little heifer will be named Stella. But we probably won't have her til closer to September. It's in everyone's best interest to make sure she's weaned as easily as possible. Not to mention the fact that we haven't done our infrastructure upgrades yet. Adding a hot wire ton the fence being the big one.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fitting right in

Berry seems to be dealing with Chappelle just fine. It's funny to see a full-grown goat act threatened by little tiny goat boy, but it happens. Chappelle gets on the table and points his stubby horns at Berry. Berry doesn't seem to notice at all, just keeps on leaping around like a flop-eared kangaroo. We're letting mom & baby out during the day now. Berry falls asleep and Lassie ranges into the far end of the paddock. When he wakes up and doesn't see mom, he lets out a holler like someone stole his teddy bear! Sometimes it's the other way around. Berry will be deep asleep and Lassie won't be able to spot him. Then she starts the grunty alarm call until he wakes up or we go get him and show her where he is. Funny critters!

There's a big pow wow going on at the Nooksack community center down the road. I could do without the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, but it's really different to hear the drums and singing all weekend. Makes it easy to imagine what it might have sounded like here a few generations ago.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Moooo've over Berry!

Here's Seven Trees' next baby. She doesn't have a name yet, but we're working on it. Her mom (the nice gal with the horns) is named Island's Donella and her dad is named Celestial Kraz (a star name). Isn't she cute??

We'll have fun introducing everyone. I'm sure by the time we bring her home, Berry will be a lot bigger. Still, we'll really need to make sure heifer baby learns to watch out for goat baby...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I bet Lassie is telling Berry not to play with sticks. She is usually telling him not to do something...She'll make a funny, grunting maa maaa and stamp a foot at him when she wants him to come back to her. He doesn't listen, unless he's hungry. Berry's big un-manhood day is Aug 3rd. Then he'll be a wether instead of a buckling. Better for everyone, once he forgets the painful part. He is so people-oriented, it's hard getting action shots. When he sees a person he stops playing and runs over for attention. What a ham!

Looks like there were some casualties in the "barware" department. A keychain-sized plastic bottle opener and our main corkscrew/opener both bit the dust while on holiday across the road at the neighbors' bonfire. Time to invest in some industrial strength equipment! Must be all the tightly capped homebrew bottles.

We're trying to sort out some kind of trip, but with crazy work schedules, a million summer projects, and almost a million critters, the logistics are nearly impossible. So far we're looking at some dayhikes and maybe one weekend trip (not til early Oct which puts a crimp in hiking possibilities). We shall see...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Coop de Villa

Here's the start of our new hen house. We're pretty much designing it on the fly, but it's coming together nicely. It will be roofed and sided to match the barn, and sooner or later painted to match the house's new paint job (but that's a whole nother project!)

The garden is growing like crazy! We're able to see some changes to make next year, which is helpful. But this year we have rowdy tomatoes, overbearing peas, and we won't mention what the beans and squash are up to....

We'll return to our regularly scheduled Berry pictures later today. Mom & he are getting a chance to wander the home paddock and enjoy some elbow room. Chappelle is on a tie out because he seems to think the tiny little boy goat is challenging his manhood (he's neutered BTW, he doesn't have any manhood). Over all though, everyone is getting along fine and it's fun to watch them interact.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Having a cow!

We went to Orcas Island yesterday and put money down on a cute little heifer calf. She won't be weaned until next month sometime, so we have a chance to add a hotwire to the fence, get a bigger water trough and some other cow-type details. We brought the camera, but completely spaced on taking pics of our new baby. She lives with her mom & dad, an aunt and a couple other cows in a huge meadow right now. She'll be fenced off from mom next month, along with the other two babies, to get them weaned, then we go pick her up. Her dad is a huge bull but his horns have been removed. Really friendly and came right up to us for scritchies. Her mom was a bit more cautious, but still sniffed our hands and hung around. Her auntie was really nice and kept trying to lick the skin off my arm. We'll need to think up a good cow name for her. Right now she's being called Star Baby by the breeder (her dad's farm name is Celestial, so all their cows have "heavenly" names).

Little Berry is recovering nicely from his day at the vet, and still practicing aerial manoeuvers.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Poor Berry

The little prince went to the vet today for his first shots and to be disbudded. It's really really awful, but needs to be done since horned goats get into trouble and don't find good homes. I won't go into detail about the process, but lets just say it involves light sedation, novocaine and cauterizing Berry's horn buds. He looks terrible but is already feeling better and begging for cuddles. We'll skip pictures of his poor little forehead til it heals more. Here's one from yesterday, even though he may have grown since then. He's so grown up now that he can scratch his head with a back leg, while standing on a wooden ramp! Such talent...

Tomorrow morning we head to Island Dexters on Orcas Island to look at a little heifer calf that will be weaned in August. It will be some time before we can have her bred so she'll be our milk cow, but that lets us get to know her & vice versa. It should be a fun ferry ride, and we'll get a little tour of the breeder's herds too. We sure hope this is the cow for us, even though we haven't sorted out finding a trailer to rent to bring her home.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Berry cute!

Here's the little man....seems he's either napping or practicing for goat Olympics! Mom is finally calming down enough to sun bathe on her big wooden spool while he sleeps in the critter carrier. He sure isn't wasting any time learning how to beg for cuddles either...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ok...I just can't help myself...

One last goat picture for the night.

B.B. (before Berry) the 3 red hens used to hang out in the kid pen behind the barn. They made some really nice dust bowls for their spa days. I went out to play with the little guy after work, and found him curled up in a dust bowl, snoozin. He was so pooped, his little pink tongue was poking out. He woke up enough later to frolic on the stump and put on a great show for me and two of the walking ladies who happened by.

I guess sooner or later we'll have to post pictures of brewing or garden goodies or ABB (anything but Berry). But for now, it's all about fluffy, cuddly, cute-as-a-six-pack-of-kittens Prince Berry.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

We tried to warn you....

Prepare for a lot more super-sweet Berry these -

Berry inspected some of the fresh-picked lettuce I tried to bribe mom with.

Check out what Fergus and Chappelle were up to while I was snapping baby photos!

Another too-hot day. We built some on the new hen house, and finalized plans to go to Orcas Island this week to look at a Dexter heifer. The garden is growing right along despite the heat. There are now tiny baby pumpkins, the size of marbles! Peas, lettuce, beet greens, chard and carrots are all part of the menu. Some of the potatoes are ready to be dug for baby taters, and the corn is about as high as Fergus' eye when he's trying to see what's on the kitchen counter.

After looking over the breeding schedule of the place we got Lassie from, it looks like the best bet for a convenient future birthday, and for the fleece we like, is to send her on a date with Berry's dad in November. She's had cute babies with him before Berry, a boy and a little girl named Flower that had lovely fleece. So as much as we'd like to see what results a different buck would bring, we'll probably go with Dusty.

Another Berry picture!

Here's little Berry from yesterday afternoon. We'll add more later, but for now we're going to finally do more work on the new chicken coop. Berry is quite the little prince already. The neighborhood admiration society has begun with the first introductions to our regular cadre of walking ladies. They've been anticipating his arrival for months, patiently asking every morning when they go by if the stork has left a bundle under our berry patch yet.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Berry fine!!!

Hopefully everyone out there has a hight tolerance for sweet little baby pictures...(and remember to click on them for a bigger version)

Lassie had a little boy goatie, about 8:40 this morning. She was only in labor less than an hour, and there were no problems at all. We named him Berry. It took a few tries to figure out which end of Mom is the food end, but he managed with a little help. He's already griping at her for the non-stop washing she's subjecting him to. His next big milestones will be painful, but hopefully quickly forgotten. Eventually he'll need to be disbudded, which is the happy term for having his little horn buds removed. Then comes ye olde castration. Unless someone wants to buy him as a buck, he'll be a wether like Chappelle. In a few days, when he's dried off and fluffy, we'll take his official pictures for the Pygora registry. They decide who gets preliminary registration based on parents and coloring. He'll get full registration 9 months from now if his fleece meets approval.

Anyway....whew!! What an exciting morning.