Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer Climax

It is past midnight and the thermometer is still reading in the high sixties. Most likely this does not impress you, unless like us, you live in the arctic. We've been enjoying temperatures in the high seventies and eighties during the day. Almost too hot for this Alaskan raised girl. My mother-in-law is up for a visit and I've been taking the opportunity to get outside and work in the garden in the heat of the day without the kids. Yesterday I was sweating so much I kept having to wipe my sunglasses.

The climax of summer is upon us. Solstice is past. It is still light but dusky all night. The garden grows before my eyes and the weeds wilt. I ate my first sungold cherry tomato today, but I've been buying lovely heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers at the Farmer's Market for a couple weeks now. My garden is pumping out the greens; head lettuce, baby greens, mustards, endive, swiss chard and sorrel. I've got some Napa Cabbage that is ready for harvest, and the Broccoli Rab is past. I've also got herbs and radishes. Other than that the broccoli and cauliflower heads are forming but small still. Peas are flowering. Beets, carrots, beans and cabbage and squash are rapidly growing. I'm thinking I may be done buying vegetables at the store for at least a few months. Our garden is just starting to produce and will continue to reward us for our efforts for the next few months. Did I mention that it takes me at least an hour and a half to water the garden by hand. Often I wait till everyone is in bed to do so, that way it is cooler and the water doesn't all evaporate, downside is that it means I'm up in the garden swatting mosquitos till one or even two a.m.

Our four ducks have finally been moved up to the garden. I love watching the ducklings! I let them out of their home several times a day (when I milk, when I water, anytime I'm putzing about the garden). They get to splash around in a small pool and waddle around amongst the plants. Only a few casualties so far. I recently planted another batch of kale, radishes and swiss chard in an area near the duck tractor and once they found the tender seedlings, they continued to return to the patch until I put fencing scraps over the row. The first time I let them out I had to chase them around to put them back in. But now they have it figured out. The ducks hate to be held so when they see me coming they run for their home.

All the chickens are outside finally. We have some more building and arranging to do as they are all outgrowing their current structures and pens. I've moved the largest cockerals and pullets in with the adult birds and they seem to be holding their own. Our injured Ameraucana seems to be healed and laid her first egg in a couple weeks today. It only took a few days in a bare kennel for two of my other hens to snap out of their broody stage and they are back to laying as well.

In goat news, a very nice lady is buying Zen and Rose's son (who remains to be named). Both boys have been wethered (fingers crossed) and are between two to three months old. I had a friend wether Zen at a goat meeting as a demonstration. Last night I attempted to do Rose's son using a burdizzo also known as an emasculator. It is a tool that clamps down on each side of their testicles and crushes their sperm cord. It does not cut the skin, and the goat keeps his testicles, only they shrink a bit instead of growing into huge monstrosities. I need to measure them so I can make sure I've been successful. We have one buckling left and I am holding out in case someone wants a buck. But I will probably wether him as well in the next month, by eight weeks they can technically produce offspring although I find the idea highly unlikely... I'd rather not gamble. We are considering selling one of our milking does along with her daughter. So if you are interested let us know. We are still contemplating. Basically, my does are outgrowing their stall and I'm going to have to start parting with a couple each year if I want to keep a couple. And it is hay time. We just got our first truck load of very nice looking Brome hay. The goats are eating a lot of hay right now, and it would be nice if they could pay for some of the years hay themselves.

Happy Mid Summer everyone!

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