Friday, April 26, 2013

Garden Update

Here's a quick update:

Thanks to some friends we got more area covered with wood chips. It's a good thing too since I can tell I'm going to be tight on space this year. I've already transplanted Delicata squash into that new area! It will probably also hold a generation of corn and some shelling beans.

Transplanted mammoth sunflower sprouts in between the spreading raspberries. 

A thing of beauty. That root was over a foot long! No tools needed.

Summary of chores done today:

Rearranged sprouts under growing lights.
Transplanted Delicata squash, Sugar Pie pumpkin, Mammoth sunflower, Bloomsdale spinach.
Planted Golden beets, Red Cylinder beets, Bloomsdale spinach, Sugar Snap peas, and Oregon Trail shelling peas.

Sooooo looking forward to the harvest this year!

Chestnut's 3rd Kidding

We had a long, progressive run-up to Chestnut's labor this year. Day by day she demonstrated more signs of imminently going into labor but not until she showed every conceivable sign, a full week after I thought she would go into labor, did she actually do so! She started with vocalizing to her babies, frequent urinating, and passing her mucus plug. Then pawing, total loosening of ligaments, and the babies "dropped." Several days I had her cooped up in the birthing stall since she always showed more obvious signs in the morning only for her to calm down after noon and I'd let her graze freely with Rosemary.

Veeery pregnant and uncomfortable. I sympathize.

FINALLY her udders became painfully swollen, she was only mildly interested in eating, and after a few hours in the birthing stall she actually starting having contractions. Since I needed to help her through transition in both her previous labors I had no intention to leave her alone.

You can see the bag of waters bulging here.

 First to come out, a beautiful tri-color male!

After a half hour and just as I was recruiting a second person to hold Chestnut so I could help, the second one came:

A black and white male. He needed some help to stand.

And then a third!
A surprise beautiful chocolate male. Count them. Three males! That makes seven males and one female (who didn't make it) in three pregnancies. Sheesh! It is on the rare side to have more than two kids per pregnancy.


 The second one was the largest but he had a difficult time getting his back legs to work. After two or three days of frequently helping him --call it goat physical therapy-- he was consistently getting up on his own. A week later he's prancing around with his brothers none the worse for wear.

One funny thing that has developed is the kids started off only eating on one side so the other udder was neglected except for once or twice a day when we drained it for her comfort. With a little encouragement they are now eating off both sides. Unfortunately, the damage was done and that other side will likely always have supply issues. Yep. I know these things.

Rosemary is due next about three weeks after Chestnut.
Rosemary in foreground, Chestnut behind.

We studded Rosemary with a second male, unrelated to the first, so that, theoretically, I can breed Chestnut and Rosemary's kids. It looks like the third born, Mocha, will be the best breeding choice because the biggest one, Americano, had difficulty standing up and the first born beauty, Latte, has a tender nodule under his right ear. Dunno what that could be. Hopefully Rosemary will kid at least one breed-worthy female so I can ultimately replace Chestnut with better milking genes.

If I hadn't already decided that Chestnut wasn't the best milking stock her third labor would have sealed it. Her labor took many hours again with nearly the maximum window of time recommended between each kid. She didn't cooperate with any contractions and was generally unnerved. The quantity of kids she has produced is overshadowed by the quality of her kids: below par. Her milk production is okay, but nothing to write home about. She is a decent milker now but she was difficult to train to hold still. She has spoiled many buckets of milk!

Hopefully, I can find a loving home for Chestnut and begin my own breeding lines with Rosemary as the matriarch.

Keep an eye out for updates on Rosemary's delivery!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Progress Report

It must be time for another blog post since I'm starting to get questions on what is going on with the garden!

I have continued to plant starts in trays for a continuous Spring and Summer harvest. Most recently I transferred Roma, Cherry, and Brandwine Pink tomatoes from small starting pots to intermediate pots. Mom and I also used some of the temporary free space between fruit trees in the orchard to transplant leeks and to plant white onion starts. That space between saplings is vital to us this year as I'm at least doubling my crop this year compared to last and we have much work left to do in spreading more wood chips. By the time the fruit trees have branched out and shaded most of that side of the yard we hope to have felled the other ginormous pine tree on the other side and have spread wood chips over there too. Right now we have two Motmorency pie cherry trees over there but I'm hesitant to plant anything other than shade loving crops because of that big pine.

The mound of chips is just waiting to be spread out.

Since I posted last I've planted many more seeds and starts. Some are starting for the first time, others are first or second wave:

Broccoli: waltham 29
Cabbage: red acres, danish ballhead
Peppers: cal wonder, anaheim
Tomatoes: brandywine, cherry
Nantes Carrots (in orchard)
Yellow onions (in orchard)
Quinoa (in orchard)
sweet meat squash
Swiss chard, silverado
Basil: cinnamon, thai
Parsley, flat
Pak choi
Sunflower, mammoth (to be planted alongside corn)
Bush Beans, royal purple (in cold frame)
asparagus: jersey knight, sweet purple

Do you see my beautiful pumpkin and squash sprouts top right-ish?! So happy! 

What's a garden shot without lettuce?

Tonight we set up one of the fluorescent lights over a second table in the "wood shed" for added seedling space. That was the last step in moving the seedlings out of the attic and into an area with less foot traffic and more tolerance for warm, humid environments.

We also adopted some adorable Easter present chicks from a grandma at our church. For three years she has asked if we would rehome a batch of chicks before deciding to gift them to her grandchildren. We are happy to provide for an educational farm animal experience and to rehome chicks for free! I call that a win win.

Last but not least, keep your eyes and ears open for news and pictures regarding Chestunut's kids. She was locked away in the birthing stall all day since she was showing all the signs of early labor but she just never transitioned into active labor. Unfortunately, I will be at work tomorrow so that will leave the nurse with Shoshana, my mom with Abi as well as keeping an eye on our less-experienced birther. If anything happens I just hope she remembers to take pictures!

Rosemary in foreground getting loves, Chestnut in back.