June 29, 2015

My New Kinder Girls

Expanding my little herd

At the top of my list of things to share, here is something that's been in the works for a couple of months now and I am pleased to announce is finally a reality - the expansion of my Kinder herd with three new doelings. May I introduce

Saluki. She's 4 months old and loves being petted.

Illini. 6 months old and also very friendly.

Prairie Violet is 3 months old and the shyest. She
has given my hand a few sniffs but that's about it.

They are from Kinder Korner Farm and their names are hints as to where that is located. Can you guess?

Saluki and Illini are very friendly, but Violet is shy and concerned about being here. She and Illini have had some pretty good hollering sessions for their moms, while Saluki was a bottle baby.

What do my other girls think?

Jessie and Violet

This is typical goat behavior

The kids pretty much take it all in stride, with plenty of sparring over the log and stone steps.

Stella, Saluki, and Jessie

The adult does have taken it pretty well too,

Daphne, Stella (head down), Violet, and Saluki

although there have been several "mind your elders" butts.

My little girls from front left: Illini, Violet, Jessie, Stella, & Saluki

I'm trying on some nicknames for Illini and Saluki - Linney and Luki - what do you think?

Of my homeborn kids, Stella's twin sister Velma went to Illinois and one of the quad bucklngs (Buzz) has been sold. I still have two bucklings left which I will either sell if someone wants them or will be for chevon.

Breeding season is right around the corner so it's time to start thinking about that, for the adults at least. Kinders are aseasonal breeders so it's possible to have kids almost any time of year. For now, the doelings need to grow and mature a bit. Then I can look forward to quite a selection of kids. :)

My New Kinder Girls © June 2015 by Leigh

June 26, 2015

Coming Soon ...

I appear to be just a wee bit behind in blogging. Between the garden, the house, the critters, working on Critter Tales, and working on the next eBook in my The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos series, I just don't seem to have enough hours in a day. So, coming soon ...

My recipe for pizza sauce (as per reader requests)

Expanding my herd

Replacement for The Beast

Finishing the bay window and living room

More house deconstruction

Three cookbook recommendations

Growing grain, what I've learned so far

... and more.

Plus

I hope to get caught up on replying to comments and returning blog visits!

Until then, how about a nice photo of two very muddy but happy pigs.

Waldo and Polly

Coming Soon ... © June 2015 by Leigh

June 24, 2015

Too Many Tomatoes?

One of the advantages of a long growing season is being able to direct sow things that others must start in pots and transplant later. Such has been the case with tomatoes, and this year was no exception. I planted tomato seeds in the garden toward the end of April. It was a new variety for me, Homestead. I've always favored paste tomatoes because I make so much pizza sauce. Unfortunately I seem to have more trouble with disease with the paste tomato plants, particularly Amish Paste, our favorite. Homestead is a determinate, heirloom tomato. The advertising promise said it doesn't need staking. 'Nuff said.

Then came May with no rain. This is worrisome for a couple of reasons. One is that seedlings with their fragile root systems will be quick to succumb to the dry soil. It leaves me debating how to use the rainwater collected in our tanks - on unsprouted seeds or on growing plants? If I leave the seeds to wait for the rain, I worry that birds may find and devour the seeds in the meantime.

The tomato rows looked pretty bare in early June.

The arrival of June finally brought rain, and everything took off. Every day I was out in the garden looking for tomato seedlings, only to be disappointed that there were none. I finally decided that the seed was either bad, or had otherwise been lost, so I went to the feed store to buy plants. Being late in the tomato planting season I got a bargain - two for the price of one. I bought two 6-packs of seedlings, got two free, and ended up with 24 new plants. They wouldn't be home started but at least I'd have tomatoes.

I decided to plant them in the rows I'd previously prepared for tomatoes. I set about removing grass, morning glories, and a few other unwanteds when what did I find?

Tomatoes at last.

Yup, tomato seedlings. Finally, they were making their debut.

I cleared out everything but the marigolds (they can stay) to give them some room and planted my store-boughts in the next set of rows.

Little tomato plants with larger volunteer marigolds.
All of this put me a month behind on my tomatoes.

Now it looks like I should have plenty of tomatoes, which is okay because there are a lot of things to do with tomatoes. Pizza sauce is my priority, followed by tomato soup, and green tomato slices for frying come winter. After that it's plain canned tomatoes for soups and stews. Too many tomatoes? Never. Wouldn't you agree?

Too Many Tomatoes? © June 2015 by Leigh

June 21, 2015

Nadiring Honeysuckle

Morning bee activity at Honeysuckle Hive.
By mid-afternoon, traffic is a lot heavier!

I've been keeping an eye on my bees in anticipation of adding more hive boxes. I got the colony as a 3# package two months ago. In Warré beekeeping, boxes are added to the bottom (nadired) rather than added to the top (supered). According to David Heaf in his Natural Beekeeping with the Warré Hive, this is done when drawn comb fills about half of the bottom box, the idea being to add boxes before the bees run out of room and swarm. To monitor progress, I check through my screened bottom board with a mirror. The other day when I looked I saw this

Looking up through the screened bottom into the bottom hive box

Bees were busy building comb in the bottom box. It was time to do the deed. We removed the roof but left the quilt. I gave the cedar shavings a stir and noted that they weren't very damp, which I believe is a sign that ventilation is good. I loosened all around the bottom with my hive tool, to separate it from the stand. There didn't seem to be a lot of propolis, so the job was soon done.

Dan hoisted the hive,


while I quickly slipped two more hive boxes onto the stand.

I did not to pay attention to box order & my honey
suckle "vine" is not aligned! The bottom box has the
observation window, which was built differently.

I questioned whether to add one or two boxes. It's only June and we have a long growing season, so I'm assuming we can use two. The concern for adding them at the same time is that the hive will be top heavy until the lower boxes are filled with comb, brood, and honey. If we had a hive lift we could add one at a time, keeping an eye on how quickly the bees filled them. But with only Dan's back, I figured it would be easier to add two now. One thing I noticed is that there were quite a few bees simply hanging out at the entrance when the hive had only two boxes. With more boxes they aren't; presumably because there is more room inside(?)

Now it's wait and see. I'm not really expecting a honey harvest because this is an establishment year for this colony and the bees' needs are the priority. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy them for what they are.

June 19, 2015

Too Hot For Lettuce

Homegrown lunch: lettuces, kale, radish, goat cheese, & hard-boiled
eggs. I find the variety Jericho lasts longer in hot weather than the others.

With our string of days in the upper 90s F (upper 30s C), it is simply too hot for garden lettuce. I'm always sad to see it come to an end, but eventually it becomes too bitter to be palatable and bolts.

Lettuces, kale, chopped leftover baked potato, & cold canned green
beans. My indulgence is store bought Ranch dressing and sunflower seeds. 

As admirable as our long growing season is, the sad fact is that my lettuce is long gone by the time tomatoes ripen. That means no homegrown BLTs or Marshall Field's Specials. I end up having to buy either tomatoes or lettuce.

Lettuces, kale, hard-boiled eggs, grated radish, fresh garden peas.

Such is life, eh?