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Friday, February 27, 2009

From This to This in Two Months Flat

It is so funny to me how much difference a couple of months makes in Idaho. The top picture I took today and the bottom picture was taken in May 2008. Huge difference. Thank goodness. I think last year we had 3 more feet of snow than we had this year so I know spring is right around the corner for me too. Which means it is time to kick the planning phase into overdrive and get my "to do" list prioritized and organized. I always have a big list, heck... I wake up with a list everyday. But this year some of my projects are doozies and I want to be prepared. Actually, I want the help (husband) to be prepared. If he knows way in advance all I want to accomplish, then he may humor me as none of it will be a surprise. Pretty sad to make a list to make the list. I am big on note taking (now, not when it mattered), so it helps me to bullet the items I want done with a clear list under each of the tasks and supplies needed. This year I may go for broke and add a time frame to my list. That ought to get his blood pressure up for sure. The "help" hates to have a time frame to live by. On second thought, maybe I will keep the time frame part on a private list and let him think it was all his idea while gently pushing him in my planned direction. See, I am may be learning after all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Did I Forget Anything?

I decided to post my list of plants to grow in my garden this year so you all could help me remember what I forgot. I am planning as much from seed as possible without the aid of a greenhouse and trying to buy as few actual plants as I can. Seed sowing appeals to me. Maybe after the chicken house project is done, I will begin laying hints for a greenhouse. So here it is.... THE LIST:
  • Corn Bodacious, Honey 'Pearl
  • Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Kentucky Wonder Wax Pole Beans
  • Kentucky Blue Pole Bean
  • Top Crop Bush Bean
  • Garden Pea Green Arrow, Maestro
  • Onion White Bunching Lisbon
  • Red, Yellow and White Onions
  • Leeks
  • Beets Detroit Dark Red
  • Broccoli, Hybrid Premium Crop
  • Cucumber National Pickling, Miss Pickler "Pioneer", Pearl Hybrid
  • Swiss Chard Mixed Colors, Fordhook Giant
  • Lettuce Bon Vivant, Buttercrunch, Red Sails, Rouge d'Hiver, Red Salad Bowl, Simpson Elite
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cantaloupe Hybrid Alaska, Field's Sweet Gem
  • Watermelon Crimson Sweet
  • A few gourds on the fence for winter crafting
  • Carrots (maybe)
  • Strawberries
  • Bell Peppers (all kinds)
  • Tomatoes (all kinds)
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers Jalapenos, Cayenne, Serrano, Green Chili kind?
  • Cauliflower?

So let me know if you think I have omitted anything vital. I have a pretty good sized raised bed garden and will be adding a 100x40 row garden in our north field. Room won't be an issue. I just want to can and preserve as much as possible. My mom wants to help, this way we use my space and free well water, she helps me weed and put up the harvest. I might have got the better end of the deal there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First Time Canner

This past summer was the first time I have ever canned. Yep, every year we eat as much as we can fresh and give away as much as possible. No one locks their cars around here until summer harvest begins. Then you can't find an open car to "donate" veggies to if you try. Something about un-found veggies in the Idaho heat, I don't know. Anyway, I have a friend who is the master home preserver for our county and she steered me in the right direction as far as up-to-date info goes. She recommended the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and the Ball Blue Book of Home Preserving. But because I am simply neurotic about not killing my family, I also purchased Canning and Preserving for Dummies. When you are trying to learn something as important as proper food handling and preserving, you don't want to screw up. I had a disastrous encounter with canning tomatoes many years ago and I must say after much reading, I now know what they really mean by "core" a tomato. I read everything in my local library and all three of the books I already mentioned. By the time it was time to can I felt pretty good about it. One bit of advice I will pass on is that Great, Great Aunt Millies old Fashioned Green Bean recipe may be out of date by today's standards and maybe should be reevaluated for safety. Food is simply different now days and some things aren't as naturally acidic as they once were. Modern recipes are the safer way to go. I am really looking forward to this years harvest. I will expand my canning adventure to encompass pressure canning too. This way I can can more vegetables and salsas and... you get the picture.
The above picture is of some of the things I canned this year. I used a steamer/juicer to juice elderberries, wild plums and blackberries. I then canned the juice so I could make jelly with them later. I made bread-n-butter pickles, dill pickles, applesauce, salsa verde, stewed tomatoes and a few other misc. things. I am really excited to see what I can put up this year. It tends to redirect your garden plans. Why plant 6 tomato plants when you can have 30? See what a problem this may create?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blotanical... another winter addiction

A few posts back I admitted my new found computer networking addiction. I would have lost my marbles this winter had it not been for the "research" I am able to do with the help of DSL and all that is holy. I read a ton about chickens, backyard orchards, garden rooms, canning, bread making and now....Blotanical. I may be hopeless until I can go outside again. I started my blog because I love to read them but couldn't find much with styles similar to my own. So I started blogging and stumbled upon this site and haven't looked back. I check it like I checked my Facebook when I first started. I have found so many bloggers with so much fantastic information that I couldn't possible see them all. Not enough hours in the day. It is like one stop shopping, except no shopping involved. People from all over the world have created links to their blogs on this site and the sky is truly the limit when it comes to finding things that interest you. I have really been interested in community gardening for some time now and there is a lot about that there too. Not like I have time to community garden when I home garden but the idea still fascinates me.
So if boredom reigns this winter (those of you that still have winter), head on over to Blotanical and check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Backyard Chickens Here We Come!

Spring is bound to be on it's way to Idaho too. The mud is proof of this and I can't wait! I spent a large portion of time reading about raising chickens. It has taken me nearly 2 years to convince my husband that it would be great to have laying hens on our place. Unfortunately he took the chicken house down a few years ago (it ruined his view he said). So in keeping with my plan to have chickens, I drew him a new plan, bigger and better than what we had before. I read him excerpts from and took him on "tours" of some of the very nice chicken coops I know of around here. He was finally sold after standing in the coop of the egg lady's house for 45 minutes and not smelling an odor or being attacked by rogue hens. I read every book at our local library and most posts on the site I mentioned above. If anyone is interested in raising backyard chickens, that site has an absolute wealth of information available. It can be highly addictive and easy to spend countless hours reading (I call this research) what others have done that worked or didn't. My OCD personality needs a very neat and orderly chicken house so I am very glad to be building a new one rather than renovating an old one. My plans are drawn up, my chick order planned and now the weather needs to cooperate and I will be on my way!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rescue Goats

I know I have talked about how we came to be pygmy goat parents but this is about the conditions from which they came. Doyle did some calling around and checking Craigslist for a while before he agreed to go pick them up from a place about an hour away. The original plan was to get two babies, similar in age. When he got to the little goat farm there were 85+ goats on 5 acres or less without a blade of grass in sight. These animals were living on a dirt knob without shelter and without the ability to forage for their own food. Few had been socialized with humans, as is the case with Mama Goat (Clarabelle). As a result, Doyle decided removing a mother from the breeding population was a prudent idea. So the mother goat, above, and her 4 week old baby, Clementine, came to live with us. When we got them home, they were both infested with all three kinds of goat lice, had worms and the mother had very little hair on her whole body. Her head was nearly bald and her coat in general was falling out in large clumps. Off to the vet we went. We deloused, dewormed and brushed the heck out of these two. The mother goat hated to be brushed because we had to catch her first. The baby, on the other hand, loved it. In the picture above my daughter is offering grain treats to Clarabelle, it took her weeks to even get this close. For the entire summer we kept them in a dog run close to the house. This run is big and has good shelter. We wanted them to get used to the other animals and us being around all the time.
If the baby, Clem, were to climb on your back now it would not be comfortable. She came to us at 8 lbs and now tops the scale at about 45 lbs. We laughed when we saw this picture because she looks so skinny in this picture. She is nearly as wide as she is tall now. Definately a hoot and a half! We added Ollie to the bunch a few months ago so Clem would have a playmate. All three goats have beautiful coats, have hair covering their whole bodies and are likely overfed, which is the case with all of our animals. If you have thought about these little guys for pets I highly recommend it. Just make sure you have a good, safe place to keep them and time to play with them. There is always someplace to rescue them from!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snow, Snow, Go Away...

I have mentioned in earlier posts that I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring. Most generally I enjoy the heck out of winter but two long cold winters, back to back, are starting to wear me down. I have been blog-surfing a lot (which may be the understatement of the year), and looking at everyones green makes me feel like spring will eventually get to Idaho too. It's coming, jut not fast enough. If it's going to be this cold it may as well snow, then water would be a bonus this summer. These are two angle of the same raised bed garden, in two very different seasons. You can't even tell what is under all that snow. I can't wait to add more to my flower beds this coming year.
See how my scattered mind is working these days? I was talking about raised beds but my mind jumps to the flower bed in the picture. I am all over the place with my garden thoughts. Planning has always been half the fun for me, so I am still working on the garden room plan and will post progress on my draft later. Thank you to all of the folks who have sent their thoughts on the idea. I will definately be adding a curved stone path, a garden bench on a matching stone area nestled in the corner. I am getting excited.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Goat Family

Thought I would post a couple pics of the pygmy goat clan and their winter survival. I think they would like to see some sun too. When we first got these little creatures, the research we did stated that they needed decent shelter from rain and snow. What they should have said was "from wind, rain, sleet, snow, hail, clouds, neighbor dogs, coyotes, etc. This trio is definately of the fair weather variety. None of the three will even step outside if conditions aren't just so and thus, have spent a major amount of time in the goat barn, as we like to call it. Their room in the barn is approximately 12 x 16 and completely walled in. The door is their only way to look out and we did that so they could see us coming through the barn. They also have exterior access to the barnyard which is outfitted with running water but we close them in every night for safety and comfort. In these pics you can see how fluffy they look, can't wait to brush out that winter coat in the spring.
Ollie and Clem are the two dark goats and are 10 months old. Clara is the grey goat and she is Clem's mom. Ollie is just a spare we got to play with Clementine.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Flower Bed

Looking through my computer for nice pictures to post from the most recent season teaches me that I will definately need to work harder on my picture taking skills. It also makes my eyes cringe as there are so many more things to do in my yard. Note to self: Never plant petunias in beds again. Even a bed that gets plenty of water can't seem to make petunias thrive. So why do I invest every year and plant them anyway? They tend to look leggy, and dry and crummy, which is exactly what I don't want. I do like the "Million Bell" variety in hanging baskets and pots, but I am officially swearing off petunias (maybe). The bed in these pictures sits right under the only large window in my home. It faces west, so the afternoon sun is brutal here. It is also the only current bed I do not have weed cloth in. I used newspaper topped with 4" of super fine mulch. This coming spring I will likely need to do this again. I am always trying to hide the old house. New siding will help at some point but alas, it's not on this year's agenda. That is what you get when you live in the old railroad depot. Historic but no longer fun. Old gets irritating after 8 years, I just want new and pretty.

Many things that I wasn't so sure would come back did. For example, the hydrangea did and of course, the daylilies. I have bulbs planted in this bed and they never have trouble returing. This coming year they should have multiplied nicely. We have a "vole" problem in our yard so we have to plant accordingly. This first year we owned this house I planted 200 tulips and had 2 come up. Voles are awful. We went right to the local vet and adopted 2 rescue cats. They do a decent job but it is actually the dogs that keep the population down. This is a very fun game for labs to play. They team up and do a fine job.
This bed was nicely full this last year but I fixed that by dividing the daylilies for use in the new island bed. I would also like to plant the front of this bed with more perinnials and forego the annuals all together. We have much less snow than the 4+ feet we had on the ground last year. So I am hoping that the spring maintenance will be less. The maple planted in this bed is a small variety that will only get 20 feet tall. I planted it for bird habitat and have kept it pruned from the house.

Some things are done blooming in this picture but you get the general idea. I plan to use more Liatris in my yard this year. The mouse/mole varments seem to leave it alone. Won't spend the money on expensive bulbs in quantity until I test one first next time.
I don't know if any other bloggers feel the same way but my critical eye comes out a lot more when I look at my yard in pictures. My "To Do" list is getting longer the more I look. Good thing there is always next year!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Garden Room in Draft Phase

Well, here I sit, in front of my computer. By now I am sure that comes as no suprise to anyone. I am in desperate need of spring. We have two new inches of snow here and I can honestly tell you that fact does not thrill me. I am trying to remind myself that water is good here. I just happen to think it's better on the mountain at this point. Oh drat, I just looked out the window and it is actually snowing again. Like how I said drat and not some other word?

I have recently added myself to a site called Blotanical. So far it seems to be like Facebook for garden geeks. I like it. I have spent the better part of several days looking at other people's garden blogs and getting ideas for my own summer projects. Kind of like driving through neighborhoods and taking pics without leaving the warm comfort of my house. Or, getting out into the dang old snow. So in keeping with the theme of developing next season's garden list of things to do, I have put a very rough draft of a possible garden room up. My scale may be a little off but I am not going out "there" to measure for anyone. The bed at the top of the page is already in place in front of a big window on my home and travels left to a small bed in front of the porch area. My husband tore out the cement walkway a few years ago and although he seems to be ok with an ugly scar in the lawn there, I am not. So all the other objects and lines on the map are new. The funny little outlines are the new flat rock path I would like to make to the garage. Maybe even have some big potted plants on either side of that new walkway where it meets the existing walkway. I like color and that seems like a nice way to add it. Dogs can't lay in that way. So here it is........

The patio I have in a recent post would be to the left of that left-hand walkway. Currently this whole area, save for the top bed with the Maple tree, is grass. Obviously there will still be grass but I would like to mow less grass and have "rooms" in my garden. I will also likely need another job to finance all of these planned trees and shrubs, but what the heck.
So comments and suggestions are welcome. I am open to all possibilities. I would like a flowering crabapple, which I have added as a possibility, but all other ideas are invited. Also, the garage roof sheds snow into this area so I cannot have hard stemmed or shrubby things in the right hands side of this plan. Most other perinneals are possible. Another idea would be to have a garden bench or small reading nook in this area. I also like to bird watch and will be able to see this area from the large window at the top of the page. I just want cozy and petty. We are set back from the road quite a ways and seperated from the traffic by a huge expanse of lawn cordoned off by a large circle drive. Always trying to hide the old house with pretty yard.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Raised Beds In Use

Here is the raised bed veggie garden in actual use. We had a very cool early summer and some things did very well and others, um, not so much. Tomatoes and peppers love heat and we had that unseasonably late this last year. In comparison, the cool weather crops were amazing. It was my first year growing these early vegetables. The directions always say to direct-sow as soon as the earth in workable. Do they know I live in Idaho? And do they also take into account some people garden in raised beds? That makes workable soil way earlier than in a traditional row garden. So needless to say, I was intimidated and held off on the unknown until I finally decided to jump in, sink or swim. I can't believe I waited so many years to grow this early season stuff. Peas out of the garden can't be beat. Lettuce, fresh picked, will even be consumed by a picky teenager. The beds are each outfitted with a metal grid that makes it much harder for the cats to have a good 'ole time (potty) in my vegetables. That too is something I learned after the first year. As soon as everything grows up, you can no longer see it. I did not use pressure treated lumber because I wasn't sure if treated lumber was bad for my health or not, I decided to err on the side of caution. I will need to replace these sooner than if they had been treated but we may all live longer because of it.
I actually planted a fall harvest crop of peas after the spring peas were done and that worked out nicely. Not as much to harvest and the plants weren't as big but fresh peas are fresh peas. In the far back corner you can see a tower that I grew pole beans on. I liked the texture and height it added to the garden. I like it to be easy and pretty if possible. There are always so many projects to be done that I have a hard time appreciating what does look nice and function well. I am very impatient and that doesn't always work in my favor. The list just gets longer every year, never shorter. But some good old fashioned "Dirt Therapy" is usually good for the soul. I need spring to get here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Blog Template

Having a blog is somewhat like having a new car. There is so much to learn and so many cool things you can do to your blog to personalize it. Fortunately, there are a lot of really nice people who will take the time to teach me how to do something that I am certain they haven't had to learn in years. I always thought I was decently computer savvy until I began this venture. It is awesome to have a friend who makes the Internet work. He even explained it six times until he came down to my level enough for me to get it. So here it is for you, computer guru, Peter. I think I finally did it.
So anyhow.... I downloaded a new page template with the plan in mind to widen the reading area. Not completely sure that is what I got, but for today, it is what it is. So thanks for all the help, and look for my many mistakes to come in this new endeavor. I learn best by screwing up first.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raised Bed Garden Map

I strongly dislike weeding. Have I mentioned that tidbit yet? I mean, we're bordering on hate here. That is how much I don't like to weed. So I found the best solution to this problem to date. I raised all my garden beds. Yup, you heard me (sort of), I raised those little stinkers up and now life is good. I originally used some old stuff I had laying around, old shelving, that kind of stuff. Then it fell apart, so I rebuilt them and used 2x12 lumber. See, I am always learning. It is a process in my world. This last year I expanded the 7 raised beds to 12 raised beds. The edge if each bed is set on weed cloth (love that stuff:) and the center part is dirt all the way down and beyond. No weed cloth inside the beds, just in the path areas. I then used bark to make these paths prettier and viola, I have ease and convenience. I like those two things together. I still weed, but given my slight case of OCD, I now can weed to completion, one bed at a time. This works way better for my "issues". I have a map here of the set-up I use, (I got the map idea from Dave at as hand drawing one didn't seem too interesting for my one reader to look at). I have now had this raised bed garden in use for 4 years and I can tell you it has freed me, literally. It is also a fantastic way to garden if your soil is less than ideal. You can mix up any kind of soil your little heart desires.
I originally filled them with pure compost on the recommendation of the local certified organic gardener. She doesn't work outside of the home. Lesson learned: Don't copy people with way too much time on their hands, garden wise. I couldn't water it enough to keep it wet. Year two, I added Miracle grow garden soil to the compost in each bed and they held just the right amount of water to keep things alive nicely. I still amend the soil every spring and between spring and fall plantings, but life is definitely easier. Next spring I will add custom drip systems to each bed. Lesson learned #2: water is at a premium in dry Idaho. I have used sprinklers on timers but watering the paths seems senseless to me, well-water or not. So in keeping with the spirit of conservation, onto the next project.
The beds vary in size from 4x10 (a little too big), down to 40"x48". The six in the center are roughly 3x6 and that seems to be the best for me.
I can't recommend a more efficient method of gardening for a variety of reasons. There are some things that I don't think grow very well in beds like these but not many. We will be adding a 100'x40' row garden in the north field this coming year because my husband thinks I don't have enough to keep me busy now. In this nightmare to be (remember I dislike weeding), we will grow corn, melons, cucumbers, etc. Things that get unruly in neat and tidy raised beds. It may also be the only year for the row garden. We will see how much Doyle likes to weed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Facebook Addict

Well, I must admit, I swore I would never be a myspace or facebook kind of girl. When friends would ask me why I didn't have an account on either site, I had a biting remark about how old we were or how only the single and lonely were on. I am a jerk. I finally "get" why people do it. My best friend convinced me to get a Facebook account over the Christmas holiday and I have not regretted it yet. Ok, maybe for a while when I got hooked on some stupid game on there called Mobwars, that was a serious time sucker. But I love it. I have reconnected with so many friends from the past that I now can't imagine not having that site as a tool to keep in touch. It makes it simple and enjoyable. I am addicted like I never thought possible. I admit that I run home on my lunch hour to check it, although I tell everyone that I work with that I have to stoke the fire. Don't want my colleagues to know I am a junkie. I even babysit my nieces and they think facebook is Auntie Heather's special game. Here they are in front of my desk, I quickly moved them down to draw while I facebooked. You can even join a group that believes in Bigfoot. I kind of believe in Bigfoot so that's pretty cool if you ask me. I know, crazy huh? So if you ever have spare time (you will need it), and a desire to reconnect with those you may have lost touch with, this is it. It's even great to send a quick note off to Grandma if you can get her on here. And remember, don't be quick to judge us for our problem. Not all of us are in facebook rehab yet but I am sure the day is coming. At least it's fun in the meantime.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Butterfly Garden

After the excavation of the patio location, we had a very large pile of dirt just to the north of that spot. It sat there until right before we finally built the patio. After it was removed and the patio constructed, a very hard packed, but nicely shaped, dead spot was left. I convinced Doyle that the shape would make a nice flower bed. So my tiller loving (hating) husband got to work making that hard earth into something I could plant into. We had an unusual number of butterflies this year and the idea was born to make it a butterfly specific bed. I edged it with river rock and this coming spring the edge of lawn will have a much nicer margin. It always takes a season to re-establish that pretty line after tilling. I do keep the grass killed off about 8 inches from the rock. This helps to keep grass out of the flower beds. It is also much easier to mow around if I can put the mower tire in the dirt spot and follow the pattern. I have butterfly bushes, coriopsis, daylillies, worm wood (artemesia) and an old fashioned bleeding heart. Keeping the buttercups out is a chore but I have found so far that simply trimming them works pretty well. They must spread by runner contact. I did weed cloth this new bed because that is what I learned to do after many years of starting over when the grass won out. I also added 4 inches of super fine bark mulch and watered the heck out of it all summer long. Hopefully all of it comes back this year. There is also a young Stanley Plum planted here. I even got 5 plums off of it this year, next season ought to be a good one. Seems to take 3 years or so around here. Keep your fingers crossed that spring is on it's way! (I am kind of tired of the cold:D)

Friday, February 6, 2009


For many years I have wanted a patio in my yard. Of course, I want a pergola over it with beautiful vining plants growing up the corners and over the top. But step one of this plan of mine was to simply get a patio. We excavated the area in early spring 2007 and then looked at a big hole in the yard for the next year. Everyone that saw said hole asked if we were installing a pond or building a pool. The nice pile of dirt just beyond this crater was a harsh contrast to the large hollow we were living with. I was desperate to build my patio. If you remember from the last post, I was anxiously awaiting drain rock for this project when instead I randomly received goats for my birthday. I still wanted this space either filled back in or a patio constructed. My brother and his girlfriend came to help and brought rock smooshing stuff with them. Our project went rather quickly once it actually began. After many wheelbarrows full of road grade followed by sand and lots of compacting between layers, the pavers finally went down. Only one injury occurred and no one died because of it. We finished it off by dusting sand into the grooves and back filling around the perimeter with dirt. I would recommend to anyone wanting a simple but nice looking patio, to consider pavers. We used the Harvest Blend tumbled variety from Home Depot and it picks up a nice assortment of colors from the surrounding area. Grass grew up to the edge quickly and it now looks like it has been there a while. Well, now it is covered with snow, but in the summer it looked like it was supposed to be there. We added an outdoor fireplace to the center and this coming year we will add nicer chairs (I am thinking Adirondack chairs). The big pile of dirt left over from the original excavation was mostly carted away and the remaining shape was the perfect outline for a butterfly garden. I will show that project later.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Island Flower Bed

This past summer I had a dilemma. No matter how much I watered the south side of my yard, I could not keep a slight rise up the middle, as green as the surrounding lawn. So my solution was to till it up and make an island garden bed. Like all things on my list, this project started off small. After much consideration and three days reshaping a 150' garden hose into a boomerang shape, this new bed design ended up much larger than it started. "All garden beds should wrap around the house so they look good from all angles." That is what I kept telling my rototiller wrestling husband as he tilled, re-tilled and tilled some more. One very valuable lesson I have learned being surrounded by pasture and field is this: use weed cloth, life will be far less complicated with weed cloth. I started using river rock when we first bought this house because it reminded me of Dunsmuir. Many times as I drove to the Salmon River, 60 miles away, to get more river rock, I have regretted this decision. But it always ends up looking nice (I think) and it holds down weed cloth beautifully. What these pictures don't show are all of the plants that now reside in this new bed. Of course I always feel the need to plant in the hottest part of the summer so it will be interesting to see if most of the new plantings come back this spring. I planted lots of shrubs; roses, buddleia, barberry, as well as many perennials and daylillies. I like things that I plant once and prune rarely. I am somewhat of a lazy gardener. I like to do new things but I don't like things that, once established, are high maintenance. Now... only look at the new garden bed. The planting around the perimeter of the yard are in later installments of my yard plan. Heather's yard 2.0, and the foundation planting are to come after the house is re-sided. I have to do things in the order they make most sense around here. I have a hard time doing the same project more than once so slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pygmy Goats

So here they are..... the most worthless pets you could ever have. Well, probably not the most worthless, but they must run a close second. A little background here. For my 35th birthday my husband "surprised" me with pygmy goats. Did I know I was getting goats? No. Did I want goats? No, I wanted drain rock for my patio project. Buy my mother-in-law had drilled into his head that appliances, and large piles of rock, were a bad idea. Apparently farm animals are fair game. Crazy. While unloading this new gift, my dog jumped the fence and scared them. Up the mountain they went. Mother goat and her 4 week old baby. We climbed the mountain, and climbed the mountain again. By nightfall we had captured the baby but the mother goat would stay gone for four days. We did our best. We got fresh goat's milk, and kept her warm and safe. But most of you probably know that a tiny little baby goat really just wants it's mother. Clarabelle, the mother goat, finally and frantically came home just in the nick of time and hasn't left since. Oh yeah, and she can scale a five foot tall fence. But we overfeed them and they stay close.
So occasionally (often) we have a serious lack of judgement and we decided that adding one more to match the age of our now 9 mo. old baby goat, Clementine, would be a very good idea. Did anyone know that goats have a pecking order? I did not. So to make a very long story short, we brought home Ollie, a 9 mo. old whether, who managed to live in our house for a week. Why? Because of that darn pecking order I mentioned. My original goats beat the crap out of him and he screamed like a very upset little baby, but much, much louder. After a week, (he eats library books) he moved to the barn with the others to grow some cajones. Now, that may seem kind of mean to just throw him to the wolves, so to speak, but he loved my husband and tried to eat my everything. He did fine. Now he is just one of the gang. I think we are done acquiring goats for a while, although Doyle is constantly scanning Craigslist showing me how cheap goats are these days. Chickens, I think, shall be my next project.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Winter Time Activities

Winter usually consists of research time for us. I love to read up on as many things that interest me as I possibly can. This winter (since the new year began) I have researched backyard chicken raising, the home orchard, growing berries in a cold climate, and spent a considerable amount of time reading and marking seed catalogs. I have ordered many of next season's seeds and find canning recipes that pique my interest so I can order the appropriate plant seeds for those as well. Now a lot of you may think this is wasting good daylight but that to me is whole point of winter: Staying in the house! I feel like I use my time pretty wisely, I just refuse to be cold.

We made a ton of jelly this Christmas and gave a nice selection to each of our family members as their gift this holiday. We made wild plum, elderberry, cinnamon apple and carrot cake jam. Each gift also had a walnut cranberry scones mix complete with directions. I thought they turned out pretty well. I prefer to get handmade gifts and I banked on at least some of our recipients feeling the same way. This fall we picked our own plums and elderberries from the forest and used a steamer juicer to extract and then can all the juice. We then had some time before we needed to do something with the canned juice and ultimately made our jelly in December. I can't wait to see what kind of berries and fruits I can find to juice and can for next year. I am pretty sure you can even juice tomatoes for juices and pastes with that gadget. I may need to add on a room to store all this good stuff. Wait till I suggest that option:D

About This Blog

We started this blog in Feb. of 2009 to help us stay motivated and to track our progess in the garden. We live on 5 acres surrounded by Idaho farmland. We have wildlife galore and are attempting to attract more in the bird catagory. This is our journal. Welcome!


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