Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring has Sprung

It is now officially spring. I thought I would share with you some of the things I have planted so far that are starting to grow. I am really excited about everything starting to grow and look forward to having everything in my garden.

First, here is a picture of my garlic. You may be thinking that it is really big to be so early in the spring. Well, there is a reason for that. I have found that the best time to plant garlic is in the late fall. It is cold and freeze tolerant and planting it in the fall gives it a jump start for when spring comes around. Therefore the garlic turns out a lot bigger at harvest by planting in the fall as opposed to planting in the spring. A random bit of information for you about garlic....Elephant garlic which is what a lot of people plant because it gets really big is not a garlic but it is a leek that tastes like garlic.

I also have planted onions and sugar snap peas down in the garden and they are starting to come up.

Here is a picture of my strawberries. I planted them last year in a garden bed I put right behind the house. They are doing pretty good. They would be a lot better but last year I left one of the gates open by accident and the goats got in and ate the strawberries to the ground. Luckily it did not kill them, but it they are just now back to where they were before the goats ate them so it set them back about a year as far as production goes.

I also put in my other berries this year. They are in the yard behind the house in a weird little raised area that was already there. It was a difficult place to mow so I decided to make it the place where I plant my berries. I am also building a rock wall between that area and the house (I will post pictures of that when I get it done). I planted 6 blueberry plants and 6 blackberry plants. I may also grow some melons in that area to help fill space.

Also in the bed with the strawberries, I decided to try to plant some lettuce. I figured having it close would make it easier to get when we wanted it. I planted a mixed lettuce leaf seed mix. It is growing pretty well, I may have planted it a little late but I think it will produce fine. It also rained 8 inches after I planted it so I think some of the seeds got washed away.

My big planting project of the past 2 weeks is grass. I have been clearing out the lower part of our land this winter and last fall in hopes of getting more grass growing and therefore be able to have more grass eating animals. When we moved in, the land was mostly wooded with some grassy spots and my goal for this year was to double the amount of grass on the property. The first planting of grass I did was in February. I had come across an article about frost seeding so I thought I would try it out. It involves spreading the seed in early February when we are having a frost about every night and then it warms up during the day. This repeated freezing and thawing cycle works the seed into the ground. All I have to do is spread it and if it comes into contact with the ground it will work itself into the ground, I don't have to break up the ground or cover it with dirt or anything. The forage this process works best with is clover which is really good for grass eating animals. Anyway, to my surprise, it worked really well and the clover came up and is growing. Also throughout the winter I would spread seed where I was feeding hay to the animals. Then, a couple weeks ago I started planting some pasture mix grass seed. The mix has alfalfa, orchard, fescue, annual rye, perennial rye, and clover seeds. We have planted about 150 pounds of seed so far. This involves Margo and I breaking up the ground where we are planting, spreading the grass seed and then raking over it. I hope a good portion of it comes up and survives because this will enable us to get more animals. Here is a close-up pic of some that is already coming up. If you click on the picture it makes it big and looks a lot cooler.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New skills

Margo started a new hobby a month or so ago. She has taught herself how to knit using an instructional book. She picked it up pretty fast. So far she has made some dishcloths and a scarf and they turned out good. I am not sure what all she is planning on making but don't be surprised if for Christmas next year some of you get a present knitted by Margo. Here is a pic of her modeling some of her creations (aka scarf and dishcloth).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Weekend

This past weekend was very enjoyable and busy and I thought I would share about all the festivities. Trav and Kate were in town so on Friday night we went out and ate with them and Martha at Taste of Thai. It was really good food and fun hanging out. After dinner, we went to Todd's and watched the Razorbacks beat Indiana in the NCAA tournament. On Saturday Margo and I did some work around the farm (burned some brush, planted grass seed) and went into town and bought some stuff for the garden and flower beds. In the afternoon, our friend Josh A. brought his 2 kids (Evan and Lucy) out to see the animals and hang out. I think the kids really enjoyed it, Evan especially like our new cat Hello who is getting very big. They seemed to really bond. Here are some cute pics of Evan and Lucy.

On Sunday was the highlight of the weekend (for me anyway). Josh A. was the recipient of 4 tickets to the NCAA regional games in Little Rock for Sunday. So, Josh, me, and two other guys left Sunday morning and went down to Little Rock and watched the two games going on yesterday. The seats were on the 10th row which was awesome. The first game was Texas vs. Miami and then Memphis vs. Mississippi State. The games were very exciting and lots of fun. Overall, it was a really fun trip and nice to get away for a day and watch some great basketball in person.
The weekend was filled full of good times (except for the razorbacks getting killed by North Carolina yesterday) and it sucked to have to go back to work today and to make it worse Margo is gone again this week so I am lonely.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A New Cage

Yesterday, I built a new cage that fits in the back of my truck that I will use to haul animals. It takes up basically all of the bed of the truck in between the wheel wells. It was another one of my projects to get done with our tax refund money. It is made out of chain link gates I bought at Lowe's that just happened to be the right size for the back of my truck. My old cage I made out of scrap wire and wood. It did it's job but this one is much better looking, more solid, lightweight, and should last longer. Here is a picture of Margo and Macy trying it out.

I also thought I would share some St. Patrick's Day cheer with you. A friend of mine (Travis) had this video on his blog. It is very, very funny. I watched it like 5 times in a row the first time I saw it. I don't think it could have come out any better if you scripted it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Random Pictures

I have several pictures I have been wanting to display on the blog. I didn't really want to make a separate post for each one of them so I have decided to make a post of random pictures from the past month or so. Here you go.

About a month ago, our good friends Walt and Annie were in town and we were able to meet up with them and hang out for a while. We also went out with them to a fancy restaurant to eat so we dressed up slightly. We usually don't dress nice when we go out, so I thought I would post the picture. I would like to give a shout out to Kristy for taking the picture.

Something that we think is great and amazing about our farm is that all our animals get along. The dogs and goats get along, the chickens and the dogs, the cats and the ducks, the cow and the goats. Everyone gets along with everyone else which is really nice. Today when I was outside I saw the baby goats playing king of the mountain on the cow while he was laying down. I thought it was really funny so I took a picture. Isn't the cow a good sport. Also, the other day, I saw a chicken on top of the cow picking bugs off of him but I didn't get a picture.

This winter, I decided to let my hair grow out a little. The other day I decided to cut it back short since it is getting warmer. Anyway, it has been a big debate around the house (I like it short, Margo likes it longer), and at work, and with friends as to whether I look better with long or short hair. So, I thought I would post a picture of it each way and let you, the reader of the blog, vote for which is the best.

Here it is a couple weeks ago right before I cut it short.

Here it is after I cut it.

A week or so ago some friends from work came out to see the baby goats. While trying to entertain the kids I decided to show them a big bone I had found on our property. I think it is a pelvic bone from a big animal. They liked it a lot. Anyway, one of the adults suggested I put it on my head so I did of course, and this is what it looked like. It is a pretty funny picture. I think it kind of looks like the crazy rabbit thing from Donnie Darko.

And finally, here is a cool picture of the duck that Margo took the other day.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Goat Shelter

I spent this weekend building the goats a new shelter. This was one of my projects I wanted to get done before spring came. Part of the reason I wanted to build it is because I am putting up an electric fence as a cross fence. This will help in separating the animals when need be, such as when I want to wean the baby goats from their mothers or keeping the billy goat away from the nannies to control when they get bred. I am also working on planting new grass so I can keep the animals off the part I am planting to give it a chance to get established well before the animals start grazing on it. I built this on the opposite side of the property from the barn. It is 8'x8' and 5' tall at the highest. It turned out alright, definitely not my best work (due to some bad measurements and planning) but it will serve it's purpose.

In this picture you can see our house in the background.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I finally finished my book for February. If you keep up with this blog you know one of my (Josh) new years resolutions was to try to read more and try to read a book a month. This month I picked out a really long book to read and it took me all month plus a couple days. The book I picked was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck is my favorite author, I read several of his books when I was younger but never this one (probably because it was so long (600 pages)). Our friend Erika suggested it and said it was one of her favorites and I like her tastes on other things so I decided to try it. I really enjoyed it. It covers a couple generations of two interwoven families and is set in the Salinas Valley in California. One of the families, the Hamilton's, is based on Steinbeck's maternal grandfather and his family. Steinbeck considered this book to be his life's greatest work which is pretty impressive. The book explores themes of depravity, beneficence, love, the struggle for acceptance, greatness, and the capacity for self-destruction and especially of guilt and freedom. It ties these themes together with references to and many parallels with the the book of Genesis in the Bible, especially the story of Cain and Abel. My favorite character was Samuel Hamilton and while reading the book I found myself wanting to be more like him. Any of you looking for a good book to read should check it out. We got the movie East of Eden with James Dean to watch tonight.