Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The fruits of our labors

So we have summer crookneck squash and slicing cucumbers coming out of our ears. I've been shredding/chopping/freezing, juicing, baking and eating fresh. Its been great to read about and learn what to do and how to harvest. This is a huge pan of grilled fresh veggies. Just chop and saute with onion tomatoes and keilbasa, a little salt and pepper and it made for a great healthy lunch for the whole family.

Colt eating the first cucumber right off the vine.

Just a few labeled bags, many more to come..

Corn is really neat. The tops are called tasseling. When you see this, the seeds from the tips will fall down and in a few days you will see the start of the ears with the little hairs on them.


Colt hunting for cukes...

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Well, here is the LAST addition, well, the last animal addition, to our farm. Well, for now, at least. We got a mama, a daddy, and a baby, although they are not blood related. We will raise the baby for meat and keep the mom and dad as a breeding pair. When they have babies, we can sell the babies or raise them for meat. ALTHOUGH, we just read that when you have an adult male pig, he needs a few Sow's (female pigs) for his libido. BUT, we'll cross that hurdle when we get there...just like everything we do around here! So the pigs have been a fun addition. Just like the other animals, they basically need food, water, and shelter. Now the pigs have a shade shelter and a mud pit. They love eating, then rolling around in the mud. They need the mud pit in the summer to keep them cooled off. And they are smart little things! The second day we got them, we raked all of their poop into one corner and we've never had to rake again. The pigs go into that corner and do their business, every time. Isn't that great? I wish cows and horses would do that. Anyway, pigs are definately pigs. They eat anything! And they are sloppy and noisy and piggy when they eat. Its actually fascinating to watch. Do you love my sign? I will post all the signs that I made for the other animals. The black one is the daddy, his name is curly. They do have curly tails, but his tail is ALWAYS curly. The one on the right is the mama, we named her Pepper Pots. And the baby is no-pac. He was two-pac before we castrated him. Yes, we castrated our own pig. It was an adventure, and again, something we just learned about on Youtube. Just look up how to castrate a pig and it gives step by step veiwing instructions. It took me, Nathan and Richard (a guy from church who has pigs himself) and it went pretty flawlessly. I felt super accomplished after we did it ourselves, since there is a guy in town (his name is Bernadino) who does it professionally. Actually, we were in the middle of holding the pig down on the table, he was squealin pretty good. I was holding his ears, Richard was holding his feet and Nathan had his fresh new razer about to do the cutting and we all 3 were asking each other, "Are you good? I'm good, are you good? Well, yeah, I guess...okay, well, no backing out after we start cutting...or should we call Bernadino? Well, what about you? You good? I'm good, just hold on tight. Okay, lets do it..." Then Nathan just made two small slits, pushed each testie through, twisted and cut. There was minimal bleeding, the pig went back to eating and playing right away and with a close watch and spraying antiseptic on it for the next couple days, he healed just fine! SO, I think if word gets out around here, people might be calling us instead of Bernadino to do their castrations! (F.Y.I. you always castrate the animal you are going to butcher. If not, there will be too much testosterone in the meat and it will make it taste funny) Oh, another thing, if you DO browse the "how to castrate a pig" videos on youtube, there are some good ones, and there are bad ones that you just cringe at. We did ours the quick and clean way, I was really impressed!

This is our slop bucket. Holy cow, you would be amazed at how much stuff you throw away or put down the garbage disposal! We just save any edible thing and throw it under the sink here. This whole pot was filled up within a 24 hour period. There are banana peels, egg shells, leftovers from our plates after meals, the ends of veggies and seeds inside that we would normally just throw out. Then when it gets full, just bring it out to the pigs. Its a treat for them! And its so cool for us that we literally waste nothing. And if there are things in the fridge that I haven't gotten to, even yogurts and other dairy products, I don't have to throw them away. Pigs and cows have stomaches to handle even spoiled food. Well, not that my fridge is filled with spoiled foods...hmm, although there are some questionable things in there when I actually do get around to cleaning it out!

Oinking out on some old produce...

Check this out! A couple days a week up here, a guy sets up a produce stand and sells to the locals. This is a big hit around here, even though he's a bit more expensive than a store, its convienient and saves the trip in gas going down the hill. He has everything, its a pretty big stand. Well a couple weeks ago I was there and I asked the guy that runs it, Hector, if he had any bad produce that he was just going to throw away. I told him I have pigs. Now, I was very skeptical and living on a prayer when I asked him. I mean, come on, wouldn't everybody already have done the same thing as me?? Well, he told me to pull around the back and he'd load me up. And that he did! Look at this trunk full of produce! AND he said I could come every Tuesday and he'd give me is bad produce! Needless to say, Hector is getting a little present when we butcher the pig! So besides generously feeding it to our pigs, I gave the produce to our cows, chickens and goats and it lasted all week, till the next produce trip. WOW, how cool is this? I think its so great because we are raising our animals to eat, raising them on fruits and veggies, along with their grain will just make their meat all the better.

Nathan sorting though our produce jackpot...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our Garden

Its a miracle that I even was able to get pics uploaded onto the blog! So in no particular order, here are the pics, then a huge explanation of what we've been up to with our garden...

Here is Nathan shoveling the manuer from the trailor onto the garden

Colt was helping Daddio every step of the way, this is them finally being able to plant the seeds

See, these pics are NOT in order, this is Colt helping Daddy till the land. This was a good 3 weeks before we could even plant.

Here it is now...2 months after planting. This is one end of the garden with squash, watermelons and pumpkins. We are just barely starting to see actual fruit. So far its just been green growing out of control!

This is the other end of the garden, the corn is the tall suff and over to the right is the cucumbers. You can't tell by the pic, but the cucumbers are thick and lush. That was how the green beans were before the wild rabbits got into them!

Oh man, this is the very very first step, tractoring down all the weeds before even tilling the land.

So here are the steps to get the ground ready to plant:

1. Tractor down 5 acres of foxtails and weeds. Now up here, the landscape depends soley on nature. After a winter of snow and rain, the green grass grows lush and beautiful. Our whole property from February to April is lush and green. Then it slowly heats up and turns into a land of dry foxtails and weeds. Foxtails are a whole nother entry. So all of this dry grass and weeds are like up to your waist. So we took a couple of afternoons and tractored all the land flat

2. Till the land. We tilled a 25x50 foot section from the hard dirt land. This tilling process took a cumilitave of probably 40 hours. Yes, I am serious. It was a long slow process. We used a push tiller because we don't have a big fancy tractor. A tractor has so many uses, it would be so cool to have one...maybe someday.

3. Pour aged horse manuer over the whole thing. Once the land was all nice and dug up and soft, we started watering it for about a week with the manuer on it. This was a process. We filled our trailor up with a ton of manuer from this ladies property. Then drive from each side of the garden shoveling the manuer onto the garden. Big time.

4. We ordered seeds from a company online based out of Utah. We ordered 18 different kinds of seeds and they come in the reclosable pouches so the unused seeds stay good year after year. We ordered 1/4lb pouches which have thousands of seeds in each one. So while we were getting the land ready one day, the UPS truck pulled up and we all ran down the long driveway up to the gate...."The seeds came in!" That driver must've thought we were so deprived. The 2 dirty white haired farm boys and their daddy all so excited for seeds. Hahaha

5. Literally on hands and knees in the garden poking hole after hole into the fresh soil. Place 2-3 seeds in each hole. Colt helped Daddy do this part. And the seeds are sooo tiny.

6. Since we don't have a drip system for watering we go out and water very very lightly about 3 times a day. This takes about 20 minutes each time.

7. Wait and hope and water and watch for something to pop up.

8. About a week after we got all the seeds in, I was in the garden rows just looking down at the soil, wondering if any seedlings would show...and to my amazed excitement, a tiny green bean seedling was poking up out of the soil! I SQUEELED WITH EXCITEMENT! And I celebrated the first seedling right there in the middle of the garden, jumping up and down, all by myself, beginning to reap the benifits of our labors!

9. Things start popping up after that, and each one has its own little hurray party. It is so exciting to work for something and benifit from it! Wow, what a concept huh?!

10. We have begun to water the garden now with the classic long sprinkler that goes over from side to side. I love sunset every night, watching the sun go behind the hills, the sky is orange, classic sprinkler just so simple going back and forth, the cows beyond that, just peacefully grazing...

11. I don't know why I'm still numbering all of this instead of just typing it. So out here, people do big gardens. The land is available, the water is on a well system, so people take advantage of the opportunity. Around April and May, all over Anza, you see and hear people tilling/tractoring up their land, getting ready to plant. The rule of thumb is around Memorial day, have everything planted. BUT for the last several years, there is ALWAYS a frost (where the temp just drops significantly at night and freezes the crops). after or around Memorial day. So, we were just behind and we didn't plant till the day before Father's day. We heard that was the very latest latest you can plant. So anyway, ALSO nobody has any straight answer about how to successfully keep your garden safe from critters. Rabbits, gophers, bugs... there are SO many suggestions and yet even the lady who owns the garden shop up here (yes there is more to Anza than just a gas station and a DQ!) has been gardening for 30 years and she still doesn't know the answer to a truly successfull garden. SO, we decided we'd just plant enough for us and the critters. We planted a lot. LIke a total of 1200 seeds. We put a 2 ft tall fence up around the garden and just did a lot of hoping. Well, critters were in. Oh it is SO frustrating to wake up to gopher holes in your carot square! We took care of that right away with gopher poisening. Then, THEN the worst...rabbits slowly and surely ate all of our green beans. Oh it was just sickening to wake up every morning and see the beautiful green bean sprouts slowly withering away. What was our options? Nathan sat outside with a shotgun at midnight waiting for them. That took care of one or two. But there are more...and before we could actually DO soemthing that would keep the rabbits out, our green beans were all but diminished. OHHH, so we put up a taller fence, really quick. It was at night by the time we could get around to doing it. Working together with flashlights hoping that the one foot taller fence would protect the rest of our garden. Well....its working so far! We haven't had any problems since with installed the taller fecne. So, we have 0ne green bean plant. ONE that saved itself. So we look at that one green bean plant every morning knowing that the garden was safe the night before.
Now for the positive parts of the garden. Our Corn is HUGE! Its about up to my shoulders and its so fun to listen to the corn blowing in the breeze. That wasn't hurt. Our carrots are slowly popping up, as well as cucumbers. The cucumbers were right next to the green beans so lush and the bunnies never even touched them! Our squash, pumpkins, canteloep, watermelons, and onions are also doing great. Just the other day I was walking the garden and saw a growing pumpkin! For the last month, these plants have just been huge green leafy patches, so its really fun to actually see a THING coming through!
Its been so great doing all these things. We just ask Mr. Google everything, then we try it, and now we already know what kinds of things we'll do differently next year!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The whole Goat story...

So I have to just live with not being able to upload pics for now. There are so many new and different experiences up here, I need to be better at keeping this blog updated.

So remember when we got our goats back in November? The day we went into Temecula to do a big grocery shop. Well, a couple stops before we actually got to our destination and we end up with Chickens in crates in the back seat and goats literally on our laps in the front. We spent our grocery money on Goats and Chickens. We even went through a Macdonald's drive through with animals in lap, because we had just planned on eating at the grocery store. Hmm, that in and of itself sounds redneck.

Well, we are rookies, and didn't understand how ANNOYING nubian goats are. We just wanted them for the possibility of milking mama goat. Nathan and I were raised on goat milk because we were allergic to cows milk. Our boys were also allergic. We were excited for the possibility of fresh goats milk, learning about the new things we would be able to make.

We put the goats in the area with the chickens. Great big area, fenced in. Plenty of room for a chicken coupe, goat shelter, and lots of trees. The first couple of weeks were great, while the goats were getting comfortable around us. It was fun. Then, they started getting too comfortable. They would jump out of their area and just be roaming around our property. Okay fine, they can roam the property and eat our unmowed unweeded acreage. Sounds great. But no, they were brats. They would poop everywhere, lay on the hood of my car, and literally sit at our front door and BAAAAAAA at us. Ugh, and the girls goat (Peggy) was by far the most miserable. She would BAAAAAAA with her tongue hanging off to the side and her face, wow, I just wanted to punch her in the face. Oh, and they would buck and claw at the chicken and bunny food and eat all their food (even when it was in a tight container) and that would give the goats diarrhea.

SO, we tried electric fencing. Now, electric fencing is literally just a box that you hook up near the fence. And the box has the power in it. Then you plug the box in to an outlet. Now, you just clip wire up all around the top perimeter of the fence. Then connect the wire to the power box. So, it was one day around dawn. We got it all hooked up. it was so exciting for us. We envisioned Peggy just putting her front hooves on the fence, getting shocked, then simply not trying it again. WRONG! So we got it all hooked up. So excited, the box was powered, Nathan even gave it a test run. Yeah. It was good to go. So we put Peggy in her area (this is the original chicken/goat area) and we went a little behind the bushes and just waited. It wasn't a minute later that she started towards her escape corner. She looked around (to make sure we were out of sight) then she did it. Immidiate shock! But the outcome was not what we expected! She kept on standing on it! She was trying to jump forward to get out. She just kept getting shocked, so it was buzzing and she was BAAAAing and we rushed over to turn the power off, just watching her be the biggest idiot we'd ever seen. Her body just flailing around getting shocked trying to still escape! So just as we got to the power box, she ended up getting out after all. She was free. She stood there, looked around and BAAAAAAAA with her stupid tongue hanging out of her mouth sideways. SERIOUSLY PEGGY!?! So, that wasn't supposed to happen. Well, by now, we were having to use a flashlight to see anything, but we re-wired the escape area, made it super secure, so the fence had no give in it. It was solid, there was nothing she could do this time. The fence was secure, solid, no give, her only option if she were to try to escape this time would be just to fall backwards. SOOOO, we put the power back on, put her back into the area, hid in the bushes and waited. She did her thing, watches to make sure we're not in sight. She goes right back to the escape area and puts her hooves up on the fence. This time its even worse! Its harder for her to push forward but she's just getting zapped BAAAAAing, flailing around, not being able to escape, all's we can see is this flailing goat BAAAAA,,,,ZZZZZZZZZZ!! And then she does it again! She manages to shove her way through the fence! Then you can just imagine what she does. Yep, just stands there, looks out and with her stupid tongue hanging out to one side, BAAAAAAAA. UGH!

So our enthusiasm for electric fence turned into pure annoyance. What the heck do we do now? Well, we've seen and heard of people just putting their goats on a long leash or chain in the middle of a grassy field or right by a lush tree. So that was our next plan.

Oh my, here it is a week later that I'm getting back to this post. Anyway, we tied them to trees and Peggy literally would go crazy all day trying to get free. Then she somehow busted up her leg pretty good. Well, that was a blessing for us becuase it made her just be calm and in recovery mode for like 3 weeks.
Then we made Alcatraz. Literally a rectangle of fencing, barbed wire, stakes, wires running over the top and underneath, so much effort, so many, "I'm going to shoot her", and finally we made it. A goat area that they couldn't escape. AHHH! It was heaven. It was bliss. They were on our time and at our mercy, finally. (goodness, and we thought getting goats would be fun. We could breed them and have goat milk...blah!). So we had them in Alcatraz for about 3 months. Loved it. Then Nathan got pigs. I told him he needed to sell the goats first then buy pigs with the goat money. Well, I guess when you find a good deal on pigs, you just gotta jump on it. I'll post about pigs in a minute.
So, we put the pigs where the goats were and now the goats are being chained up around various trees on our property. And guess what!? I think they learned that being attached to a tree on a generous amount of rope is a hole lot better than being in alcatraz because now they are quiet and they mind their own business and they just sit in the shade after a long day of trimming back the trees for us!