Click on the image for more information.

Monday, April 16, 2012

State of the Homestead

If it's spring, it's rock and roll time on the homestead. That's normal for this time of year. The season stops for no man and no drama. Despite all the heartache we've endured, the work has to go on.

Goats: We finally finished the goat pen from hell. It's big and roomy and hopefully secure enough to keep the coyotes out and the goats in. We started "window shopping" for goats last week, but so far we haven't found the right ones.

We're looking for Boer goats (bred mostly for meat), but they don't have to be registered, which is what everyone wants to sell you for more $$$. All I want are good, healthy foundation stock.

Gardens: If you follow me on Facebook, you caught a short video of Greg trying to pull out a stump in the middle of Garden II. The second garden is mostly for our root vegetables, corn, and sunflowers. I call it the critter garden because I'm hoping it will supplement the chickens and goats so I don't have to buy as much commercial feed.

The main garden has the more traditional veggies: several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, peas, beans, and eggplants. I'm also experimenting in shadier parts of the property with big planters where I'll grow berries, lettuces, bok choy, and asparagus.

Harvest time around here is going to be insane. I ought to consider taking applications for harvest-interns to help me put up food this summer. LOL.

So far everything is growing well--but the grasshoppers have returned. Since I don't use chemicals, I am killing them by hand left and right. They decimated my potted plants last year. I'm determined not to let them get the upper leg on me this year.

Chicks: If all goes well, we should welcome a new flock of chicks the first week of May. I'm not hatching many. Mostly, I'm trying to breed for more green egg layers--and fried chicken. :o)

The homestead is coming along. Every year we get a little more done.

Looking out my window

Surprises: I had a NASTY surprise Saturday night. This is one of the windows surrounding my office. And that, my friends is a snake! Around the corner is the doggie door, so I shut it in case he managed to push his way in.

I was chatting with Greg on the phone when I looked out the window and saw this fiend looking in. He's a good snake (in that he hunts for rodents) but I don't want them anywhere near me. They give me the creeps.

All my life, I've had the uncanny luck of always running into snakes. It doesn't matter where I live. They find me. I must speak parseltongue in my sleep.

View from the outside

Non-homestead stuff: Working on edits for Mistress of the Stone. My editor says this is the cleanest manuscript she's ever worked on. Color me proud! Her suggestions were simple ones and I should have this finished in a couple of days. 

The Frugal Books: I know I promised them in April, but the homestead has to come first. The books are done, but since I need to do some auxiliary marketing for them, I can't put them out just yet. I don't want to slap-dash them out without a proper send-off. It's important to me that I do it right the first time.

Soon, though. Soon.

And how was your weekend? Anybody want a snake? (I'll bet they eat voles, Marianne Arkins.)


Mark K said...

I have a snake already thanks - a Western Hoghose. But that looks like a constrictor of some kind?

I used to keep and breed tarantulas, but developed an allergy to their urticating hairs.

Glad all is well with no rampaging snake in the home ;)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh no, I don't care if it's good or not. I can't handle snakes (or scorpions) :)

Anonymous said...

Like taxes and death, snakes are inevitable if you live in the boonies... We are done w the $#@&%*# taxes, waiting on the other two.
As you know, soon i will need a job, so i can help q the harvest - and I am documented.
Ps: had a scare of my life last friday, and we saw the city's plan for the pond/park area - and my "amazon spirit" came out in a hurry - i was furious.
We may need to borrow tank and iko.

Marianne Arkins said...

I'd LOVE your snake ... send him my way :-)

RE: harvest time -- I KNOW. Why does everything finish at the same time??

RE: grasshoppers -- any way you can set something up to free range your chickens part of the time? They LOVE grasshoppers. Also toads (and small snakes!) love them.

Natural repellants might help, too -- plants like calendula, cilantro and horehound around your garden (and bonus! you have herbs -- I'm a huge cilantro fan). And a garlic/dish soap spray might work, too, on the leaves of your plants.

Good luck!

Angelina Rain said...

REF: Snake

*Shudders* No thanks, I for sure don't want the snake. I like those big pet snakes. You know, to look at, not to have. But a real snake out in the wild scares me.

REF: Homestead

Looks like you will have a great harvest this year with so many veggies and stuff. My mom always has a garden in the summer. Don't the veggies taste so much better when they are home grown instead of store bought?

Rebekah Loper said...

*shudder* I was at my mom's house helping her and my sister get the garden in order this year, and we had put some black plastic down to kill some weeds/grass off last fall.

I started lifting it up and was greeted by seven - yes, SEVEN - garter snakes.

I know they're harmless. But I don't like snakes either!

I think I squealed and jumped about 5 feet.

Your garden sounds lovely, and best of luck with it! Maybe the chickens will help control the grasshoppers :)

Clarissa Draper said...

I used to have a tarantula under my front step, and although he creeped me out, I would wouldn't dare think of killing him... or her. They are master rodent/bug catchers. Haven't had any snakes though.

Kerri Cuev said...

Good luck finding goats! That is on my agenda to. I have Nigerians and starting a new herd of girls. Also considering Alpines. Love the farm updates.

Raelyn Barclay said...

Love the progress of your homestead! Yes, hard work, but oh so yummy :) I'm picturing all the freezing and canning of that harvest.

Yay on Mistress of the Stone. And the Frugal books are worth waiting for.

You can keep the snake, LOL

Maria Zannini said...

Hi all. Sorry to be so late answering. I had to spend the day in town.


Mark: I think it was a chicken snake, aka rat snake. They resemble a rattlesnake except for the rattle.


Jennifer: If I had my druthers I'd stick to less bite-y things. :)


Mel: Tank and Iko our at your service whenever you need them. They'd love to visit their aunt and cousin Princess.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: I've got several pots of cilantro around, but I could always plant more. :)

The chickens got too smart for us last year and managed to go over and under the fence around the garden. They did keep the grasshopper population down, except where my potted plants were since that was a no-chicken zone.

Ref: snake
This could explain why I have no voles. :)


Angelina: Nothing beats straight out of the garden. I hate when I'm forced to buy veggies at the grocery store.


Rebekah: Don't worry, I'd squeal too. I don't like surprises. LOL. Especially if my bare hands are feeling around on the dirt.

Maria Zannini said...

Clarissa: I've always maintained a live and let live philosophy, but that kind of goes out the window when they scare me out of my skin.


Kerri: I know so little about goats. I'm excited and a little nervous learning something new. I might have to email you for advice.


Raelyn: I'm already getting lettuce and bok choy. The peas should be ready soon. Stop by and I'll sautee some for you. :)

Sarah Ahiers said...

Aww! The snake is so cute! He reminds me of our garden snake, Pepper.
Maybe snakes are lucky for you?
And i'm so jealous that you're gardening already. Though we've already harvested some asparagus and onions. But we're not even going to start the garden until may. Sigh

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: I always forget you're way up north. How does poor Yvie stay warm?

Ref: snakes
I've always thought the crows was my animal guide, but maybe it's the snake.

Angela Brown said...

I nearly jumped out my seat when I saw the picture of the snake from the inside.


You were brave enough to take it from the outside.


I'm not surprised about that fairly clean manuscript. You have a very good eye for word choice, getting more bang from your short sentences, even the long ones are purposeful and drive the story forward.

Okay, still shivering from the snake. Uh, wishing the best of luck with the gardening and the chickens. I was going to say that I would love to put in an app to help with harvest...but after the snake picture. Oh no, my stomach is getting a little weird lol!!!

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: You know the old adage: They're more afraid of you than you are of them. --yeah, I don't believe it either. LOL.

I promise to protect you should you ever visit me here. I've never lost a guest yet. :P

Dru said...


I had a nice weekend strolling on the boardwalk and catching some Vitamin D by sitting on the bench admiring the ocean.

Jenny Schwartz said...

A good to go MS sounds like you're an editor's dream. Congrats, Maria, that sort of feedback is heartwarming. As for the snake offer, um, no thanks :)

James Garcia Jr. said...

Okay, that settles it. There's no way in hell I'm visiting your house. Scorpions and now snakes! I hates them! ;)


Maria Zannini said...

Dru: I don't think I've ever been on the boardwalk. Someday, I'll make it back to NYC. Sounds wonderful--and safer than snakes.

Jenny: That just made me all sorts of proud. I've never had an editor compliment me like that before. And her edits were easy.

Jimmy: Aw, come on. Not even if I make pie? LOL. You can come in the winter. Most of the really venomous things are dormant. :)

James Garcia Jr. said...

You said "most". I didn't miss that! Beside, how do I know you folks don't bar-b-que what you catch?!? Or put it in the pie!!
Negative, my dear. You're going to have to come here! Fresno, Ca. area. But when you do, if you see any spooks, promise me you won't tell me. *shivers*


Melissa McClone said...

Those snake pics gave me chills. I do not like snakes. Ick!

Glad things around the homestead are working out!

Shelley Munro said...

Ugh on the snake! I'm so glad we don't have them here!!
You sound as if you're busy in the garden, but home grown stuff always tastes better.

Maria Zannini said...

Jimmy: You're so picky. Besides, the only pies I make are apple, blackberry, and the occasional pecan pie.

Melissa: Scared me out of my seat. All I kept saying was, Oh, my God. LOL.

Shelley: This time of year is the busiest, but also the most enjoyable. We've had terrific weather. Hint: Good time to come to the states, mate. ;)

Nadja Notariani said...

We're gearing up for garden, chicks, and yard...I get so excited every year. (it does wear thin when I'm weeding in August...but I try not to remember that bit. Ha!)

I was just telling the boys that we've got painting to do - the back fence (I live in town, but have a decent-sized fenced yard, the outside coop wood, and the garden border and stakes. We use non toxic paint and the boys hava a ball slapping paint around. I don't mind because after a few mows, the grass returns to 'normal' lol.

I have an 'easter-egg-layer' and will definitely purchase another this year. But I am reducing my flock from seven hens to four or five. And yes...I'd love to lessen the commercial feed I have to buy. Hmmm...maybe another patch for veggies for the girls is a good idea. :}

As for your comments about my son wrestling - Yes. I get quite nervous at times. Our group of 'wrestling moms' laugh that we should have the nicest buns around as we 'clench-our-cheeks' the entire length of the match! Ha. No, seriously...try to tense those muscles for three two-minute periods...haha. Hope that made someone smile.

Best of luck with your new goats! I wish I had the room for brother has them and I want some!

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: Shh. Let's not mention weeding.

Ref: wrestling and butt cheeks.
LOL. I never thought of it that way. That's brilliant.

Ref: lambs
I would've liked lambs if we had enough pasture, but most of our acreage is in trees so goats are the better choice.

Jay Paoloni said...

Everything reminds me of my life in the countryside (except for the snake, that is!).
I love to have chicks - and hens - in the garden. I also love ducks and geese. I used to have them when I lived with my mother. I miss having my animals around me.
I'd love to have goats too!
Thanks for sharing some details of your bucolic life!

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I don't mind snakes as long as they don't bite my dogs. Anything else that comes in my yard usually dies from those same dogs, plants included.

Registered goat made me laugh, like it's got something from the DMV. Tell them you're looking for certified goats instead, the INSANE ones.

Mike Keyton said...

I believe snakes taste like chicken.

Jackie Burris said...

Maria this time of year is really bursting at the seams bountiful for everyone lucky enough to have mild weather, ours is still pretty nice even with the blasted windy weekend we had this last one which ruined half our beautiful loaded squash plants!
Made me cry and made me mad too because by this weekend we would have had squash to eat!
Glad your snake encounter was on the exterior of your house, much better than finding it crawling up the inside of your window.

Maria Zannini said...

Jay: It's bucolic in a precarious sort of way. :)

Barbara: Oh, lord. I don't need crazy goats too. I already have one neurotic dog.

Mike: Yes they do, only I was too startled to find one hanging on my window to think about making snake nuggets.

Jackie: Ref: Glad your snake encounter was on the exterior of your house,

Amen to that. LOL. That little one in the house was enough snake for me. I am being more careful when I enter the hen house though.