Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Current Events/

Hail and Farewell

June/July 2012

To our utter (udder?)  delight Zeke, our Dexter Bull has gone to live at Thunder 5 Ranch ( and Curley has joined our little herd on Grimm Acres.

Despite the jokes, “What happened? Did you leave Zeke out in the rain? He shrank!” the girls and I prefer to think of Curley’s entrance as “Right Sizing”. He is a beautiful bull, as Mike Hammack said on the T5R home page, Curley is gentle, easy to handle and “has a very well-proportioned body”.

I believe he will prove a total asset to our current breeding program, and make a wonderful addition to our Farm Visit/Petting Zoo project.

Our current issue is that of anyone in this huge area that has not received rain in “ages”. Pastures are dry or dead and we will be feeding hay long before we had planned to this year.

I can hardly voice a complaint as I do not begin to compare our little endeavor to the life and living of area farmers whose losses in corn, hay (and so livestock) will have a resounding impact on them as well as the economy locally, nationally and far beyond.

We are cutting the Fainting Goat flock back to one billy goat and postponing the Nigerian Dwarf additions until next spring. In the mean time we have been cutting a few carefully selected trees in the area where we intend to expand our pasture and letting the goats and cattle clean up the leaves. I say carefully selected, and I do mean carefully! We have quite a few wild cheery trees which are toxic to most anything that might eat more than a few leaves. If I can’t identify it, we don’t cut it. Later this winter, when the trees are bear, we’ll cut out the remainder.

The goal is to free up a bit of ground which was covered in small, “scrubby” trees for a richly mixed pasture while leaving the few oak, some walnut, and the older, larger maples.

Another feed plan underway right now includes some alternative feeds like Jerusalem Artichokes (Sun Chokes), extra garden produce/greens, red wigglers, and comfrey.

The comfrey is not doing as well as I had hoped. Early this spring the geese got into the herb garden where the comfrey is growing and ate it down to the ground and beyond. Only about a quarter of it seems to have recovered, and even that is suffering from the lack of rain.

The Sun Chokes are doing great, however. This will be the first year that I expect to harvest enough to increase my planting area, and to feed livestock for a short while. I think another year or two and Sun Chokes will make a major contribution to the winter feed situation.

I deliberately planted about 3 times the tomatoes we could use or even get canned this year. Starting from seed, I figured I had little invested but time. I hope to use the extra fruit, and then later the extra vines to augment both chicken and hog feed this summer. I did the same with salad type greens, and am happily cutting greens for rabbits and chicks daily. With the pastures looking like they do every extra bit of vegetation is of benefit.

My red wigglers are finally taking off. I have moved the worm beds several time, and finally found a place that is protected from the sun and from interference from the pigs. I’ll use the extras from this “batch” to get a second bed started. By winter I am hoping to have several beds thriving so that I can feed the extra to the chickens. It’s a good plan anyway!

We stay busy, sometimes too busy, but at this point I can say I am happy with my little corner of the world…wait!...why is that pig in my front yard?!...what are those dogs barking at?...who left that gate open???...Oh mannn.