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Monday, April 22, 2013

State of the Homestead

I've been debating when to post the next state of the homestead, hoping the goats would be here, but my timetable keeps changing. I hope to have goat news next month.

Da Dogs: Everyone is fine, but Tank is slowly diminishing. He still outweighs Iko by 10 pounds, but he's a shadow of his former self. His lumps are growing again and I'm researching some homeopathic cancer remedies to see if we can slow this down. Despite all this, he's in excellent spirits. We deny him nothing and he knows it.

Nana will be out of quarantine this week. We've been keeping her isolated to the house and dog run until her shots have taken effect. The vet says she should be in the safe zone by this Thursday.

Some of you might think I took this to extremes, but when you lose two puppies back to back, you'll do anything not to let it happen again.

She hasn't been idle. I've been taking her on the back porch--an area 45 foot long, and starting her on obedience. In less then a week, she is heeling, sitting, and coming on command. I'm still taking her to doggie school in May so she can socialize with strangers and other dogs.

Grumpy's days are numbered
Chickens: Two of my black australorp hens have gone broody. It sounds romantic, them laying on a big clutch of eggs, but in truth, when they go broody, they stop laying. These are older hens so maybe they feel their biological clock ticking.

We do have a couple dozen Maran chicks on the ground, and ten more ready to hatch in a couple of days. Of all the chicks we've hatched, these are the noisiest birds I've ever encountered. They have warmth, food and water, yet they chirp incessantly! I open the door (they're in my laundry room) to see what the commotion is about, and they look at me like I'm the idiot.

I try to handle the chicks regularly. I want them to be tame, especially the cockerels. One of them is going to have a very special job. He's going to replace the grumpy rooster I have right now. Damn bird attacks me whenever I turn my back, but if I'm looking at him, he struts around like Mr. Innocent.

Plants: The comfrey is growing beautifully. I'm told it spreads easily so I might transplant a couple of them to an empty patch and let it grow wild.


Young pecan trees
My poor fig tree got hit by a cold snap after it leafed out but it's starting to recover again. My brand new pecan trees are doing well. The nurserywoman told me they should bear nuts this year. Now all I have to worry about are the squirrels. We have a huge walnut tree that bears nuts every year but we've never gotten a single one thanks to the squirrels.

All my other fruit trees are leafed out too. My lemon and satsuma trees already have tiny fruit.
Irises in the front

Me: I've been fighting the good fight. I had to scale back on yoga for a whole month due to an inner ear infection that messed with my balance. Then the following week, I wrenched my back moving all that dirt.  I'm better now, but it really slowed progress for a few weeks.

I'm excited about this year. Things seem to be turning around for us. Greg should be retired next year and we're gearing up for our 'change of life'. It'll be good to have a full-time husband again.

PS  If I start complaining that he's underfoot next year, remind me when I said I was happy to get him back. ;-)


Anne Gallagher said...

Wow, you have been busy. I chopped down a few trees a couple of weeks ago and got a few nasty scratches that didn't heal right (but they weren't poison ivy or anything) I stuck some Aloe on them and voila, back to normal.

Finally got the yard more or less straightened out, and started to put my plants in the front garden. My pansies are finally out, and I even have 3 blooms on my half dead peonies from last year, so I think that's great.

I need some goats to eat the crazy ivy I have in the side yard. It's killing my trees.

R. Mac Wheeler said...

Enjoyed reading.

My heart remains with Tank.

Consider the squirrels just another part of your menagerie. They're fun to watch.

- Mac

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: Goats love poison ivy. Mine will have a pen (with loads of ivy) but when they clear that out, I might stake them for a little while in the overgrown areas to thin that out.

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: When Tank goes, I will not be worth killing. Even when you're prepared for the worst, it's hard to watch them fade away.

But the lumps seem to be very slow growing, so I hope he still has another good year in him. We're doing all we can to keep him healthy.

Darke Conteur said...

I envy your garden. I want to plant this year, but so far the weather has not been co-operating. we had snow on the weekend, nothing that stuck around, but I've still got the woodstove going. I wish the warmer weather would show up soon.

Anonymous said...

It all sounds so wonderful. Except for Tank. I'm glad he's hanging in there and still enjoying life. I hope he can do that for a long time yet.

I've got a question about those squirrels: I have a raised vegetable bed that our squirrels think is their own private bathroom. Given that I'm growing food in there, will it be safe to eat? Especially the lettuce, which won't be cooked? I'm thinking of that big spinach e-coli scare a few years ago that they traced to animal dung in the fields.

What's your understanding of it?

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: Our weather has been a little unstable too. It's still warm but not stable enough to plant hot weather plants like corn and eggplants. Soon though.

Maria Zannini said...

Marlene: What a good question! The way I see it, as organic gardeners we use lots of different type of poop in our gardens. I think as long as the manure stays in the soil and not the leaves you should be fine.

But leafy veggies like spinach and lettuces should be washed and then rinsed in a solution of vinegar-water in a 3:1 solution.

By the way, if it were me, try growing a couple of cayenne pepper plants, harvest and dry the pods, then sprinkle them around plants for next year's garden. That's the only thing I know that will keep squirrels out. Well, that and a persistent dog. :)

Anonymous said...

That's a great idea about the peppers. I'm big on hot food anyway!

Poor squirrels.

Yes, when our dogs were alive, the squirrels were much better behaved. We don't worry them a bit.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I always enjoy your state of the homestead posts! I like to know how your animals and plants are doing.

Maria Zannini said...

Marlene: I can use powdered cayenne but the peppers whole are too hot for anything I make. Even I have my limits. LOL!

Maria Zannini said...

Karen: They're my favorite posts too. I'm always afraid people might find them dull. But this is my life--strange as it may be. :)

Jackie Burris said...

Yay for full time husband within a year, sorry to hear the news about Tank Maria hoped that the crisis was past but here you go again, the trees and comfrey look great and our squirrels harvested every pecan off the two trees we had at the other home and at this one they get all the pecans also because the trees growing behind our property are not where we have access to them or the pecans they drop.

The purple Iris is beautiful, we have it all over the ditches growing wild plants and last year I got some of them and this past month 4 of them came back and bloomed for me but now only the wild ones in ditches are blooming down our Farm to Market roadside.

E.J. Wesley said...

Re Tank: :( Poor guy. I hate cancer on so many levels--not the least of which because I've had it claim to of my dogs in the past. Horrible, brutal disease....

Here's hoping the rest of Tank's days are filled with sunshine, good treats, and a comfortable bed. :)

Yes, protect that puppy! Parvo isn't to be taken lightly, because once they have, there isn't much that can be done. She'll be so excited to have the run of the place soon, though!

Jenny Schwartz said...

It's lovely to hear how happy Tank is. Dogs live in the moment, and you're making his moment perfect.

I can't (except I can -- I'd never run a ranch! too lazy) believe how busy you are. And that's before goats!

The comfrey looks amazing. And in the picture, you can't see its prickliness :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm trying to get the outside fixed up for the summer. Barely made a dent and now we might have a freeze again tonight.

Angela Brown said...

Big hugs to Tank. I grew a little extra sweet on him, especially when he'd strut up to me and point out to Iko to settle down.

So you're getting Nana to heel. She's a good girl, even with all her feisty goings ons.

I can just imagine the hullabaloo going on with the chicks. Probably getting all that gossip experience down pat now or just going at it general purposes.

And when you get hubby home full-time, I'll DEFINITELY remind you of the glee shared with having him home on a regular basis. lol!!

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: We always knew all we were doing was slowing down the inevitable.

Re: irises
Funny thing about them. Greg had to take them out when we dug out a trench for some irrigation piping. I saved them and put them up front. It took them two years, but now they're blooming like gangbusters.

Maria Zannini said...

EJ: It may take Tank at the end, but not without us moving heaven and earth first.

Re: parvo
The vet told me the virus can't live in triple digits which we've had plenty of, but there's no telling if any other infected dog traipsed through in between time. We took no chances.

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: I'm growing the comfrey specifically for the goats, though the chickens will eat it when it's had a chance to wilt a little.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: The weather has been wild. I'll be glad when it settles down. The whole country is affected.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Tank is a low-key kind of dog. Like Jenny said, he lives in the moment. If only we all could.

Anonymous said...

To take a screen shot or not to take a screen shot, that is the question.


You'll just have to set Greg up with a hobby or two or a dozen :)

You've been busy! And it shows. The homestead looks fabulous. Love these posts.

Sorry to hear Tank is slowing down but I'm glad he seems to be living his golden years to the fullest. Get him loves from Vegas for us.

Shelley Munro said...

I always like to hear your updates. Whenever I see squirrels I want to take photos because they're so cute. I guess nut stealing beasties aren't quite as welcome!

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: LOL. It's not that he doesn't have any hobbies (his hobbies tend to be expensive), it's that Greg likes to sit by me and chat while I'm working.

I'm so focused that it's hard for me to carry a conversation and work at the same time.

Re: Tank
The day we rescued him, we made it our mission to give him the best life we could to make up for the abuse he endured for his first two years.

I don't know how anyone could abuse such a sweet boy. They better hope I never meet them.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: I like squirrels. I just wish they'd be more willing to share the harvest. I must have the fattest squirrels in the county.

Cate Masters said...

Oh no, poor Tank! And poor you - how heartbreaking to have to watch him in decline. But he knows how much you love him, so I'm sure he's happy. *big hugs*

Sarah Ahiers said...

I'm still so jealous of your nut trees! And that you're gardening and stuff. We got another 3 inches of snow last night. Sigh. I'm actually starting to worry that the week i have off in mid may to plant our veggie garden won't be warm enough yet...

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: Animals have such a sense for living in the now. I don't think they understand the concept of the future, which is probably for the best.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Minnesota is lovely...if you like snow. LOL.

I've always wanted to visit there (in the summer).

Hope the weather warms up soon for you guys.

Gwen Gardner said...

I'm excited to see your goats, Maria. We had a rooster once, called Chocolate Milk - he was brown and our daughter named him :) But he was mean. You had to go in with a trash can lid and hammer just to get near the chickens.

I've noticed that people here (in the Rockies) have their gardens completely caged because of squirrels, deer and bears. Our growing season is so short, about 3 months, so I do some container gardening, but that's about it. I do miss growing pumpkins!

Maria Zannini said...

The people who owned this house before us planted irises around the main garden. Apparently, it's a natural deterrent to deer. I'm sure it does nothing for bears. LOL.

Re: mean rooster.
I walk in with a fish net. It's what I usually use to catch birds and he knows it well. As soon as he sees it, he hightails it to the other side of the pen. Without it I am fresh meat.

Mike Keyton said...

You train your dogs but not your husband - arn't you missing a trick there? Seriously, I hope (and believe) you two are going to have a great time when full retirement kicks in.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: LOL. He was perfectly trained for 25 years, but when I moved north, he ran amok with independence. Of course, he might argue the same about me.

There will certainly be a period of re-integration. :)

FastBusa said...

Amok, Amok, Amok

Maria Zannini said...

Greg: No more amok for you, young man.