Thursday, June 28, 2012

Garden - Spring 2012 - Update I

After our garlic was harvested this year, I had planned to replant those beds with black-eyed peas we had harvested from Mr. Bunker's field a couple of years ago, because late spring is about the time to start planting them, and they work well in the heat.

But, the garden beds needed to be prepared with some new soil. We've recently started using mulch for actual garden beds, but, even though the mulch we get has composted dirt in it, it also has too many larger wood chips; and so, other folks around here have been sifting their mulch to remove those larger chips; and I decided to follow suit.

Here is the mulch sifter I put together with scrap stuff I had laying around:

Mulch Sifter

And here I am doing the sifting:

Sifting Mulch

Here, you can see the results in the raised bed; and the left-over wood chips can be used for walkway covering:

Mulch Bed and Walkway Mulch After Sifting

And here are the black-eyed peas growing after being planted!

Sifted Mulch Bed Black-Eyed Peas Growing

So, going around the horn, here is how the garden now looks....

This is the okra:

2012 Okra

And the green beans (in the front bed) and the squash and zucchini (in the bed in back):

2012 Green Beans, Squash and Zucchini

And the tomatoes (in the front bed) and the carrots (in the bed in back). Usually, our carrots do really well; but for some reason this year, not too many grew. I did try planting a little scarcely, because usually the carrots are very packed and smaller; and I ended up trying to replant a couple of times too; but it just wasn't to be this year:

2012 Tomatoes and Carrots

Now, in that previous blog post above about the new mulch gardening, one of the folks here had already tried planting in their mulch-gardening area with some success; so I thought I'd give it a whirl too, to see if anything might grow. I planted some more of the black-eyed peas in half a row as a test case, and lo and behold they started growing!

Mulch Gardening/Eden Black-Eyed Peas Growing

With those results, I went ahead and planted the whole area:

Entire Mulch Gardening/Eden Bed Planted with Black-Eyed Peas

And here, if you look closely (you probably have to click the image), many of them have started to grow too:

Black-Eyed Peas Growing in Mulch Gardening/Eden Bed

Here is some of the produce the Lord has graciously granted:

Squash and Zucchini from the Garden

Instead of pressure canning it, we've wanted to try to use the more healthy preservation method of lacto-fermentation. Here is some squash and zucchini in a brine solution, with some mesquite tree leaves that are supposed to help keep the vegetables crunchier:

Lacto-Fermenting Squash and Zucchini

And here is our lacto-fermenting section in the camper. We initially put the jars down in the root cellar, but the lacto-fermenting process actually needs a warmer environment to process correctly. Also, the vegetables would float in the brine. And so, we figure with the combination of the cooler temperatures of the root cellar, and the floating vegetables, they started to mold on top. Well, we picked off the moldy pieces from off the top, brought them into our very warm camper, tried weighing the vegetables down but didn't find a good way to do that, and instead began to turn the jars upside down and then back right side up every 12 hours, burping them at the same time (to release the gas build-up from the lacto-fermenting process):

Lacto-Fermenting Garden Produce

Once again, we are very thankful to God for the provisions from the garden He has granted, and for the processes He built into His creation to preserve the produce without man-made methods of preservation (like canning, which destroys nutrients, or freezing, which causes dependence on the world for electricity and freezers).

-- David

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garlic 2012 - Update I

As the the garlic-growing season went on, it became apparent it was time to pull the garlic. Last year, I believe I waited a little too long, and some plants started to wither; and so, this year, we tried to get them a little earlier. But to me, with some of the leaves yellowing, and a couple of the plants starting to lay over, it was time to get harvesting.

Here is the garlic haul for this year:

Garlic 2012 Picked and in Baskets

And here are the plants drying. We let them dry for about a week, although we had to roll them all up and get them out of the rain a couple of times:

Garlic 2012 Drying

After the drying, it was time to tie them up and get them hanging for the curing process. I think we might have ended up with at least a little more than we used for planting. Some of last year's garlic ended up being rotten and dried by this year; and so, I'm hoping pulling them a little earlier will help against that:

Garlic 2012 Tied, Hanging and Curing
Garlic 2012 Batch of Garlic Bulbs

We are grateful to the Lord for granting the garlic He did, and we pray for a granting of the health benefits from it that can come with garlic.

-- David

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: New Kids of 2012

Back in November, it was breeding time for the goats! We had decided in the past to basically in-breed only every other generation, and so we have two pure Nubian billy goats we use for that.

And so, without further ado, allow me to introduce you around the herd!

Our billy Shatner...

2012 Mating Billy Goat Shatner

...was mated with the following does, producing the following offspring:

Winnie (center), and her new buck Obie (we call him Obie from O.B., standing for "over bite," because he has pretty pronounced one):

New 2012 Goat Buck Obie

If you are interested, here is a video of Obie's birth, which Sue was able to capture. It's a little graphic, for obvious reasons; but if you've never seen something like this, it is quite fascinating:

Betsy, and her new bucks Bo and Luke (think early '80s TV show featuring a car named the "General Lee"):

New 2012 Goat Bucks Bo and Luke

Hannah, and her new does Rigby and Pippi (because their ears look like pig tails):

New 2012 Goat Does Pippy and Rigby

Pammy, with her new does PJ (for Pammy Jr., as she looks like her mother; and Sandy, like a white, sandy beach):

New 2012 Goat Does PJ and Sandy

Lucy, with her new buck Lester (from William Shatner's daughter Leslie, since he looks a lot like his sire Shatner):

New 2012 Goat Buck Lester

And then, our billy Rocky...

2012 Mating Billy Goat Rocky

...was mated with the following does, producing the following offspring:

Marie, with her new buck and doe RJ (front) and Raquel (RJ for Rocky Jr., since he looks like his sire; and Raquel, since she does as well):

New 2012 Goat Buck and Doe RJ and Raquel

Nellie, with her new buck Melvin (from his coat looking velvety smooth, and Mel Torme being called the "Velvet Fog"):

New 2012 Goat Buck Melvin

Gracie, with her new buck Albert (Princess Grace's son is Prince Albert):

New 2012 Goat Buck Albert

Gracie had another kid, whom she sadly rejected. And so, we sort of "adopted" (and I mean that loosely, not like adopting a pet today), and named him Junior:

New 2012 Goat Buck Junior

And here Junior and Albert are together. They do often hang out, so my guess is that they have a sense for each other:

New 2012 Goat Bucks Junior and Albert

And finally, Tapioca, with her new doe and buck Annie and Spot (Tapi is the goat to the far right in the second scene of the birthing video above). Tapi had a very rough delivery -- she was a little older and this was her first kidding, although we're not sure if that played into it. Whatever the reason, she had one teat squirting blood and water, and that whole side of her udder was purple (looking extremely bruised), and she wouldn't really get up much at all and walk around and eventually stopped drinking water. It was very hot outside, and she had flies eating the skin of her udder, ears, snout, arms, etc. -- I tried spraying eucalyptus essential oils on her udder, as I read that might help keep them away, and because we had some; but it didn't work. We had a dilemma with that too -- being as hot as it was, we made some shade over her, but it was too hot for the flies as well; so, her being in the sun was better to keep the flies away but had her in direct sunlight, and putting her under the shade brought the flies back in. Sadly, in the end, we decided it was best to euthanize her; and so, we had two more orphans on our hands -- the doe we decided to call Annie (for Little Orphan Annie) and the buck Spot (because he looks like a dalmatian):

New 2012 Goat Doe and Buck Annie and Spot

Here is a video tour of the new herd:

And here is feeding time with the orphans:

As I mention in the tour video, the Lord showed His graces with the orphans in allowing other kids to be born on the same day, so we could "steal" some colostrum from the other mothers to get some into the orphans, as the colostrum has things in it, which apparently are adapted to the local area, to help the immune systems of newborns. We have had to use some milk replacer to feed the orphans, but now that the kids are over a month old, we're able to use mostly milk from the other mothers.

Both orphan experiences, for different reasons, were somewhat difficult; but we thank the Lord for His help through them, and for the health of the orphans and all of the new kids.

We are very grateful to God for the increase in the herd, for the colostrum He granted for the orphans, for the increase in healthy goat milk; and we pray for help in proper management and for provisions for the herd.

-- David