Summer is on her way! The seeds we planted on my birthday are starting to pop up in the garden… I can see the bits of green from inside the house!
Clockwise, that’s a Kabocha winter squash, snap peas, quinoa, and green beans.
We got almost everything we hoped to done last week, which was awesome. It’s hard to believe the goats have only been here 3 weeks! Since they arrived, we got the garden in, and finished the barn pasture.
Meanwhile, in chicken land, our little ladies are growing up! They’re 2+ months old now, and they’re nearly as big as our grown hens… remember when they were tiny and adorable? This is Luggage above at 2 months, and below at 2 weeks (she’s the one in the front left)
What started a week ago with fence demolition took it’s second-to-last step this afternoon: The barn fence is done! Well, almost done… we still need to string some electric fencing to keep the goats from tearing up the field fencing too much. But for now, it’s secure enough that we can let them off their leads and let them run around for the first time since they arrived here last Friday.
John, preparing to round the second to last corner by the barn.
The new length of fence – it’s about 12′ offset from the original fenceline of the pasture, to try to keep the goats from tearing it down trying to get at the tree leaves. We’ll have to keep this mowed to keep it from becoming a forest in time.
Free at last! The goats barely stopped eating to enjoy their new freedom… luckily the grass is goat-high right now, so they have plenty to keep them busy!
But, it didn’t take them long to find the toys! Lela brought these cable spools by for climbing on – Jesse figured it out right away.
Calamity finds the spools to be great for scratching one’s head on.
We finished another task this afternoon: installing deer fencing around the garden! Once we put seeds in we were basically racing the clock to get this done before someone decided to go prancing around and destroy our beautiful beds or, worse, eat our seedlings!
First, we drove 8′ stakes around the outside of the garden area.
Then, we stretched Deer-X brand plastic netting around the entire 1500 square feet. We don’t expect this to be a permanent fencing solution – in fact, the garden plot where it is is only 1/2 the eventually planned garden area. But, we’re hoping at least to protect our garden this year, and buy us time to expand the area and build a permanent fence around the entire yard in the next year or two.
Finished product! Tomorrow, I’ll string some silver ribbon around to make sure the deer and birds can see and hopefully avoid the fence.
Bonus goat photo – this is Beau, being adorable as is his nature.
Talina took this gorgous shot of the goats working the blackberry row along the north ridge. They’ve been so well behaved thus far, being staked out every day. But, I’m sure they miss being free to run and go where they choose — the barn fence is almost done, but even that will only hold them a few more weeks before we need a real pasture. We have work to do!
Last Friday, Thaddeus’ four yearling goats joined us here on the farm. We now have Frank, Jesse, Beau, and Calamity living here — they’re still getting used to things, but that’s fair, because we’re still getting used to them!
They came so quickly, we weren’t really ready to accept them, which is why the barn fencing was rushed through. Luckily, these guys are pretty tame, and they are easy to leash and tie out, so we’re letting them at our blackberries!
Surrounded by tasty blackberries near the northwestern path down to the back 20.
Staked out under the trees next to the garden, enjoying a little shade.
Blackberry devestation after just a few hours. A beautiful sight!
Fittingly, the first day of our new garden is my birthday! We put a few seeds in the ground on Sunday night, but ended up doing most of our planting Monday morning, due to my work schedule.
Our garden plot is about 30′ by 50′, about 1500 square feet. That’s a LOT bigger than our little 9×12 deck from our Portland apartment! We’ve laid out the garden plan to have 6 beds, with a 3′ pathway running down the middle. There’s also room for our many potato grow bags, which are housing some potatoes and a lot of sunchokes.
Here’s the garden map before we started planting — the finished product is a little different, but close!
For my birthday, our friends Brian and Lisa organized and labelled all our seeds! This made it SO much easier to plant in the garden.
The finished beds are all divided and tagged so I have a hope of remembering what I put where in the coming weeks.
And last, let’s check in on our FIRST garden, the kale on the hugelkultur. Looking good! We harvested our first batch of leaves this evening.
A few photos from various moments-in-time over the last few weeks…
Lindsey and I spotted a little tree frog sitting in the bark dust near the wood shed.
Thimbleberries!!! Very exiciting to see these on our property – we thought we may have to import some from elsewhere. Thimbleberries are my favorite berry, but they don’t produce much per plant… I’ve always dreamed of a breeding program.
A lovely rainbow to the east.
The largest potato bug I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The white thing on the left is my fingertip!
One of our hens is laying malformed eggs — the shell is so thin it crumbles when you pick it up!
Almost the entire flock, excited about new water after a long hot day.
We’d always talked about improving the fencing, especially the horse fencing around the barn area. It was probably put in in the mid to late 1980s (almost 30 years ago – oh god I’m old), and the fence planks were rotting and falling off the posts. A few things happened this week to force us to take real steps towards improving our fencing, the most urgent of which being: we’re getting goats on Friday!
First step was, of course, to knock down the existing fencing planks, and haul them to the stockpile we’ve created behind the shop. Here’s Talina, making short work of a length of fencing:
Here’s the finished view – old planks, awaiting pickup.
The next step was picking up new fencing to install. Because this pasture is intended to eventually only house poultry, and not four-legged farm critters, we were able to go with a cheaper more lightweight poultry fence. Hopefully it will hold the goats for long enough to let us get the electric fenced pastures up and ready to hold them in the next month! The grass is waist high, so, that should keep them busy for a while.
John and some friends knocked out the first 330 feet of fencing on Friday – it looks great!!
On Saturday, John and Talina collected new fence posts and laid out the path of the rest of the fence – we’re breaking new fence holes in, because we need to pull the fence back from the hill edge in order to keep the goats from stressing the fence too much (and to keep everybody out of the poison oak!).
Talina’s friend Lindsey visited us this weekend, and we used the extra pair of arms to finish a task we’ve been needing to do: put up some protective netting over the chicken yard.
While our grown hens and our rooster are probably too big for anything but a bald eagle to carry off (and although we have seen them, they’re not a regular occurance around here – yet), our littlest chicks are at risk. We’d known this needed to happen, but when we lost little Agnes last week, we knew we’d put it off far too long.
We used some 8′ tall lightweight deer fencing, and stretched lengths of it across 90% of the yard – leaving a narrow stretch by the gate and the barn wall so that snow, rain, and tall human heads could get through without issue.
Nanny Ogg is thoroughly unimpressed with our efforts, and spent the time sitting the nest, instead.