Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We're still here!

Since it's drizzly today, we figured that it would be a good time to return to blogging. It's been an intensely busy few months, with the end of the school semester and especially with traveling to Wisconsin for the wedding of Suzy, one of Franz's younger sisters. Rosemary was gone for more than three weeks. But now we're back, and hard at work.

First, though, here is a new family photo from Suzy's wedding, with the Cyprian and Clement dressed in their ring bearer vests and bow ties made by my (Franz's) mother:

Now, back at Kleinshire we've been hard at work with both the animals and the garden. The boys are having quite a bit of fun with gardening. They have their own little plot, with tomato plants and cucumber vines situated haphazardly throughout. All of the boys, but perhaps especially Cletus, enjoy getting muddy whether it's drizzly out or not:

The garden itself consists of a large part of the front yard, which we tilled up and enriched with compost from the animals:

Unfortunately the garden is not yet up to our standards. The grass is proving to be stubborn. Plus, we got significantly behind on the weeding at an important juncture due to travels. So, it is perhaps as much a weed-bed as it is a garden at this point. BUT, we are getting some results. Just yesterday we harvested a grocery bag worth of cucumbers, and Rosemary was able to made a gallon jar of refrigerator pickles. The beans that I planted while Rosemary and the boys were in Wisconsin are starting to pop up as well:

The tomatoes are starting to form as well, though they suffered in the past few weeks due to a dry spell and bugs (we'll have to think of some sort of organic alternative to pesticides):

Rosemary also has some herbs started, with one of my projects for the next few weeks being a porch planter for her herb garden:

Even with travels and the end of the semester, we managed to process one hundred pounds of organic strawberry seconds from Vollmer Farm (a steal at $1/lb.), with most of them frozen in ziplock bags and the rest of them transformed into delicious strawberry jam:

As far as animals are concerned, we have the sad news that one of our horses, Stella, died while we were away in Wisconsin. Her death is a bit of a mystery to us. The animals were well cared for during our absence, with someone actually staying at the house, doing the milking, etc. As far as we could tell, Stella was perfectly healthy. Her coat was shiny, she was active, and she had plenty of weight on her. She had access to forage, salt and minerals, and a daily ration of grain. A friend who raises sheep said that an old farmer told him that if you have livestock, sooner or later you will also have "deadstock." I guess that's true, but it's also sad. Plus, we're out $1,500, as we were planning to sell one of the horses this summer.

Apart from Stella, the other animals appear to be doing splendidly, including Tarcy. As far as the goats are concerned, Ella will probably be kidding sometime this month. Caroline, Tam, and Edel are all in milk and producing up to a half-gallon daily:

Also on the goat front, Lucia, the one doeling of Caroline's that we kept from our spring kidding season, is doing very well. We recently reintegrated in into the herd. But she's proving to be something of a snot, having returned to nursing from her mother. We're still working on that. Here she is hanging out in her favorite spot, the hay manger:

A month ago we also acquired a Saanan/Nubian/Nigerian-mix doeing, whom we've named Maple. We are contemplating adding Saanans or mini-Saanans to our herd in the near future to increase our milk production. We'll see how much a Saanan-mix can produce when Maple is old enough to be bred. Here she is:

Finally goat-wise, one of my first projects this week was a hay manger for the bucks' pen. They had pretty much wrecked the laundry basket we had been using for their hay. Plus, they tended to waste a lot of it. Here's the new manger:

For the chickens, egg production is down, with many of the hens having gone broody. We recently discovered a large cache of guinea eggs in a nest along the back pasture. Guineas lay for only a short period of the year, and their eggs are smaller, with thicker shells and more vibrant yolks. Here's Clement proudly displaying a guinea egg:

One of the broody chickens escaped our notice about a month ago, hiding her cache of eggs below the tack room. She emerged recently with a brood of four cute, perky Ameraucana/California White-mix chicks:

We also have a pen full of Cornish Rock broilers growing quickly, together with five or six pullets to supplement our laying flock:

We'll give the final word to Siena's one remaining kitten, whom we've named Dino. The name is short for Bernardino, the Italian version of St. Bernardine of Siena's name. Since Dino's mother is Siena, the name fits very nicely. Here he is:

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