The vegetable garden

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I am so afraid of failure that I don’t plant much in the garden. This year I expanded from last year’s two tomato plants to six this year. They are flourishing and have blooms on them now. Can’t wait for those flavorful vegs.

I did not like them when I was young and could not understand my father holding one like an apple and biting into it, exclaiming how good it was. Yuck! But now, I understand. I have been buying them at the grocer’s since late November just to have something red in the salad, but not really tasting like much.

And also, the green peppers this year. None last year, and six this year. I have these planted in raised beds but will have to get chicken wire put up to keep the bunnies out. (Even though the beds are raised, they easily get in. I have found nests of little bunny babies during the winter.) The green peppers are super expensive (most recently, over $1 each!), and more recently the quality has gone downhill and the price has also, but so has the size of the pepper.

I might just try my hand at carrots and lettuce when planting time rolls around again. I have one more raised bed I can use; right now I have sown wildflower seed in it so I can have some flowers in the summer for cuttings.

I do have alpaca manure and the chicken coop litter I use for fertilizer. I also am using the Epsom Salt recipe for the vegs to add important minerals to the soil. http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/

My fingers are crossed that bugs or bunnies don’t devour the plants before we can sample our vegs.

Finish up in May

Can you believe May is almost over?  We are still battling the rains. Recently they have been more of an inconvenience than anything. A few days of bad weather, then it breaks long enough to dry out the top layer of soil before it rains again. Our neighbor was busy getting the first cutting of hay in. I am not so sure about his wheat; it is looking less golden and more grey so it may be lost which is unfortunate because it was a beautiful field of gold before all the rains.

A couple of the alpacas pastures are looking rather soggy and the grass does not seem to have come in well. I may need to see about doing some seeding in there before the hot weather hits.

The chickens have done just fine. I did find a nest of eggs under some tall grass next to the chicken coop. Now I know where to watch and also keep that grass trimmed down so they can’t hide. They have been laying real well and I have one regular customer and a couple of others who have contacted me. If I can sell most of the eggs it will at least pay for their feed with a little extra left over to go towards the alpaca’s feed.

Enjoy the week. We are getting more rain this week with a hard rain already today, but the sun is shining brightly right now.

Chicken coops and predators

IMG_0030We have our coops  near each other but in 3 different fenced alpaca pastures; the chickens scratched a low spot under the fence lines so they could travel to the other coops and pastures to visit each other. 

It is interesting because none of the chickens has scratched under the perimeter fencing and gotten out.  They are safe in the alpaca pastures because they are securely fenced with hotwires on the top and bottom along the exterior.   There has been the occasional snake out in the pasture but the guard llamas really pay attention and pester them until they find a way out of the pasture.  I have not had any chicken losses in the past year since they have been free ranging.  Their coops are raised on concrete blocks with a ramp up to the chicken door into the coop.

I cannot explain why this would be other than the perimeter fencing was installed close to the ground and is pretty tight along the ground and thick with grass we keep trimmed under the wire.  When they are roaming the pastures they are finding things to eat and there is no reason to leave for “greener pastures”.  I have been glad they have not wanted to leave their secure yards.

Hungry Hungry Chickens

I love to look out and see the chickens swarming over the pastures.  I know they are getting rid of nuisance bugs for me.  I am thinking of bringing a couple over into the house yard and keep them  secured in an empty dog house at night and let them out during the day, but I have lots of flowers and don’t want them to munch on those, but I would like to get grasshoppers eliminated before THEY devour my plants. 

I haven’t seen them yet, but seems like the population just explodes overnight and all of a sudden, there they are.  So I will have to see how to go about that; maybe after all my little flowers are bigger and bolder. I just don’t want to lose all my seedling flowers.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

How appropro that the name of this song from the musical Annie is what we have been singing the past few weeks.  So much rain, we are just mush around here.  The pastures have not had so much standing water since I can remember, and we have been here 4 years now.  Finally, this week, we are supposed to have sun each and every day.  We need to mow the pastures to get some weeds down so we can see grass, if there is any that hasn’t drowned.

I have to call USDA and get someone out to look at the pastures and get us on some kind of yearly program to maintain through whatever means to keep the grass in good form and the weeds out.  A couple of pastures have good grasses and few weeds; the other two pastures really are weedy and alpacas don’t eat the coarse weeds generally like goats or sheep do.

So, this week, before the Memorial Weekend, we are crossing our fingers that there will NOT be any rain and we can enjoy some time outside in the sun. The alpacas are loving it; I look out and seem them spread out on their side in the sun, not moving, except for maybe an ear to follow a sound.  We all missed our sunshine these past few weeks.