September 24, 2016

Brush Patrol

We have an area between the east paddock and the house that doesn't get very much attention. About this time of year it is overrun with kudzu, sapling oaks, poison ivy, and ligustrum, and it just seems like we ought to do something about it. What do we do? Set up the electric netting and turn in the goats.

They're always cautious at first.

It's as if they don't remember having been here before.

Eventually they eat their way down the length of the area.

The ducks in the pool get a close look.

Reached the kudzu at last. Kudzu is a nitrogen fixer, so I suppose it isn't all
bad. The goats love it and its a good source of B vitamins, calcium, & iron.

The electric netting works pretty well, although
it's a bit of a bother to set up, plus it sags.

You can see the east paddock in the background on the right. The netting
ends at the fence with the charger/battery is set out in the sun in the field.

Actually, I haven't featured my girls in a post for awhile, so here they are. For anyone just passing through, they are Kinders.

Violet

Lini

Jessie

And my little girls who are getting so big that I can't always tell them apart from the adults from a distance.

Well, except April here who is my only all-black doe.
April will be six months old on October 1st.

Anna - 5 and 1/2 months old

Daisy will be 5 months old on October 5.

Kinders are considered aseasonal breeders, meaning they can breed any time of the year. However, their strongest heats are in the fall, so that's when most Kinder owners breed for spring kids. This fall I plan to breed my three adult does and wait until next year to breed the younger girls. I want to start alternating my breedings so I can have milk year around.

Brush Patrol © Sept 2016 by Leigh 
at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

September 21, 2016

My Poor Garden

It's not all bad. The first half of summer was devastatingly hot and dry, but Mid-July through mid-August finally brought us plentiful rain and the garden recovered. Now September has continued the earlier trend toward hot and dry which has meant the end of some things. Even so I'm still harvesting

Sweet peppers

Okra, which is benefiting from

Greywater, which we finally got set up.

I'm also getting

Cantaloupes. They are small from not enough water, but
they are very tasty and sweet; perfect for the two of us.

Green beans. Just a handful every other day or so.
Not enough to can but enough to enjoy for dinner.

I'm getting tomatoes again although the plants look pretty raggedy.


I call these my "comeback tomatoes" because every summer my tomato plants succumb to blight. Gardeners are advised to pull and destroy such plants immediately, but I rarely get around to doing that. I find that when the weather begins to cool down a bit, the plants make a comeback with new vines and leaves and more tomatoes.

I've been seed saving too: tomato, cucumber (now finished), cantaloupe, and green beans.

Sweet basil going to seed.

What's not going so well is the annual takeover by the wiregrass. Those midsummer rains saved the harvest, but also caused the wiregrass to start growing again.

Wiregrass is one of the few things that thrives in drought-like conditions. What makes it discouraging is that it takes over heavily mulched areas too. It just grows and grows like an indeterminate tomato vine, both underground and over the top. Nature is a mightier conqueror than we like to think, and every year I feel like this stuff sends us back to gardening square one.

Wiregrass in the tomato bed.

The tomato rows you see above were mulched with cardboard, empty paper feed bags, and about six inches+ of wood chip mulch.

You'd never believe this was all cultivated earlier this summer.
I tried to grow summer squash here, but it didn't make it.

I might have finally found some answer for it, however, in this article, "Resolving the "Wiregrass" Problem." I don't know if I have the same species mentioned in the article, but it indicates that the stuff usually grows in low-phosphorous soil. I know our soil is low in phosphorous, so if I can resolve that, maybe I'll resolve my wiregrass problem as well.

In the meantime, I'm getting the hoop house ready for fall planting.

Wiregrass comes up in the hoophouse raised beds too.

Temperatures remain in the low 90sF (low to mid 30sC), and between that and my bone dry soil from no rain, I somehow don't feel like fall planting. August and September are our times to plant cool weather veggies, however, so I need to get on with it.

One last garden shot

Jerusalem artichokes are blooming.

And that's it for me. How about you?

My Poor Garden © Sept 2016 by Leigh 
at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

September 18, 2016

Solar Barn Light and Paint

With the sun rising later and it getting dark earlier, I was very happy to get this installed.


We didn't want to run electricity out to the barn, so I found a solar LED shed light at Amazon. The reviews on it were great and at the time I ordered it (about two weeks ago) the price was only about $50. It has since more than doubled! (I note that the one currently listed on Amazon is a different seller for the same product. I would definitely recommend it, but wait until MicroSolar, Inc. offers it again - better price.)

It turns on and off by pull chain and has three brightness levels.

This is on high

The only problem with the pull chain is that it hangs from the lamp so I can't turn the light on from the doorway. I reckon I'll have to leave a flashlight at the door in case we want to go in when it's pitch dark out.

The Little Barn is mostly shaded, but Dan chose a corner which gets both morning and afternoon sun on which to mount the solar panel.

It will still charge without full sunlight, just more slowly.

The panel is adjustable to get the best sun.

It's both hinged and swiveled. 

You can also see that I've started painting. Dan is working on the last door so I'll be able to show that to you soon. Windows will be after that.

September 15, 2016

Forgotten Items Found and Finishing the Back Porch

I told you about the old cabinet I'd been saving in "My New Milking Room" post. A couple of things happened as a result of that, including finding some things stashed in that cabinet that I'd forgotten about.

One is a cardboard brickmaker.


I bought it from Lehman's awhile back when they were having a sale. Needless it's been "lost" in the cabinet all this time so I haven't had a chance to try it.

I also found this


It's called a "Pump N' Seal" for vacuum sealing glass jars. I bought it for Y2K storage and had forgotten all about it! It's over 16 years old so I have no idea of the parts are still in good order. We ended up using 5-gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers instead. I could certainly use a way to protect my grains from pantry moths, so I'll have to see how it works.

We've also been able to finally finish the back porch, which is a huge relief.

The shelves replace the cabinet.

I finally have a place for recycling bins, canners and large pots, laundry supplies, rags, campfire cast iron, dehydrator, and my solar oven when it's not in use. I love feeling organized.

September 12, 2016

Little Barn: Doors and Walls

Dan's been working on the walls and doors for the Little Barn. We're not exactly doing things in order, but here's where things stand at the moment.

Doors for the hay mow went up first. Originally we planned a sliding door (or doors) like we did for the chicken coop. But Dan had the old door from the original shed, so he used it for one side of a double door for the hay storage area and made the second door to match.

Double doors open wide for filling with hay.

This is the original shed with its original door. The shed became
our first chicken coop (on the left) and goat shed (on the right). 

A closer look. Once painted they'll look almost identical
except for the raggedy worn bottom on the original door.

The front wall was next.


Then the Dutch (stable) door into the feed area and milking room, also the wall down the side.


The feed room door was made to match the hay doors.


View from the side...

A sliding door will complete the wall under the overhang.
A rain catchment tank will be connected to the downspout.

And the back...


Inside view.


Still to replace will be the original back wall of the original shed.


Then windows, battens, and paint. We've made a lot of progress, but it seems like we still have a long way to go.

Little Barn: Doors and Walls © September 2016