Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ice Cream in a Cup

Well, Milking Season is finally upon us! We have 4 does "on line" and only one more due to kid any day now. Last count was 9 voracious "milk-pire" babies (all adorable and healthy) and roughly 2 gallons of goats milk per day! Cheese and yogurt and cream, oh my! Yesterday, I had my first cup of coffee with goats milk in it since last August - it was like Ice Cream in a Cup! SO delicious. I forgot how absolutely amazing fresh goats milk is. With 2 gallons of milk coming in each day, Ryan is going to be making a LOT of cheese (both soft and hard, now that he has a cheese press!), and I am very much looking forward to all of the delicious varieties that I will get to eat.

My first small asparagus shoot has poked its head out of the ground - very odd to see in February, but I figure the weather has been so strangely warm this year that spring must be coming early. I also noticed my first burdock, pea, and fava beans poking their heads out of the soil. My spinach and arugula sprouts are roughly 2 weeks old and getting bigger each day. I can hardly wait for garden fresh salads in a month!!

Yesterday, I planted 5 "Adirondack Blue" seed potatoes, and I have 5 more that need planting. I have only heard of the "All Blue" potato variety, and am unfamiliar with this type, but I love blue potatoes and am more than happy to give it a shot!

I put out all of my large plastic plant containers and did a head count: 50 in all, which means, besides the raised beds, I will be able to have 50 tomato, pepper, and eggplant plants! YUM! Speaking of which, my germination trays of Black Krim tomato (my personal favorite), Ancho Chile, Eggplant, Habanero Chile, Wood Betony, and Mexican Tarragon are all sprouting, and my Mary Washington asparagus sprouts are getting big too! All of my Walla Walla onion seeds have sprouted, along with my parsley. I love spring!

This past weekend, I finally finished filling up my two most recent raised beds, and in them I planted Garden Sorrel and more Burdock. Yesterday, I began filling up my row boat turned container garden. I didn't realize how much soil that thing could hold! That boat is going to be an enormous planter box!!! I have decided that I am going to turn the boat into another sunchoke bed. Not only will it provide delicious food, but it will also provide a decorative screen to hide the windows of our private "Innkeepers' Quarters." It always makes me nervous to have bedroom windows that guests can easily peer into. This way, I will feel that my "space" is much more private.

The weather report says that it's supposed to be sunny and in the 60's for the next few days - perfect gardening weather! I love being outdoors, playing in the dirt.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

2010 Goat Babies (So Far)

Apothecary Farm SB Narf (Doe, Zilla)

Apothecary Farm SB Snowball (Wether, Zilla)

Apothecary Farm SB Muffin (Wether, Cheerio)

Apothecary Farm SB Ebelskiver (Doe, Cheerio)

Apothecary Farm SB Pop Tart (Doe, Cheerio)

Apothecary Farm GO Aa (Doe, Citrine)

Apothecary Farm SB Screech II (Wether, Breeze)

FAR RIGHT: Apothecary Farm SB Banshee (Doe, Breeze)
FAR LEFT: Apothecary Farm SB Siren Song (Doe, Breeze)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Bottle Babies Have Arrived!

In her usual style, Zilla kicked off the kidding season yet again with the birth of a set of beautiful twins - a boy and a girl - we dubbed, "Snowball" and "Narf" (respectively). Yes, we are still on a Pinkie and the Brain naming theme for Zilla's progeny. Her contractions began shortly before evening feeding time, so I went ahead and did farm chores a little early and locked all of the goats in for the night. After roughly 20 minutes of serious pushing, little Snowball catapulted into the world. He was healthy and active from the get-go, and we were so excited and focused on him that we nearly missed the birth of little Narf! She appeared to have asphyxiated a bit during the birth, and was weaker than her brother, but with a little toweling off and some extra help finding the milk, I am pleased to say that Narf is doing fabulously!

Snowball (a future wether) is an interesting mix of sire and dam coloring: tan with the white side spot on either side (and a large white spot on the top of his head), but with Zilla's gorgeous black & silver moon spots too! Very flashy, and I am hoping that he will make an excellent pet wether for some lucky family! Narf is a replica of last year's baby, Troz, and takes her coloring solely from her sire.

I am so SO relieved that this year's kidding had a happier ending than last year (when we lost the boy twin, who was born weighing under a pound and severely weak). I have a feeling that we are going to have a good and easy kidding season this year, and I only hope that my instincts are accurate.

Pictures will follow as soon as I get out to the barn this morning...

Citrine and Cheerio appear to have lost their ligs, so we may be in for a double kidding tonight!

Stay tuned...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ask Jillian Continued

Dear Jillian,

I was cleaning out the barn stall today, and forgot to close my mouth. Suddenly, as I was flinging a pile of manure into the wheel barrow, a lone piece landed in my mouth!! What do I do?? I am worried about getting all sorts of intestinal parasites now!


Wormy in Wisconsin


Well, my dear Wormy, you have unfortunately violated the #1 rule of Farm Etiquette: ALWAYS keep your mouth closed when cleaning out barns and pastures! The good news is that there are several very comforting ways to sanitize both your mind and your body. For starters, pour yourself an enormous glass of wine (or beer). Swish each mouthful for several seconds to sanitize your mouth. Next, begin prep work on a large dinner - something that involves beans (for example: burritos). Grab a large handful of dried epazote, and add it into the bean dish as part of the seasoning. Epazote is a traditional Mexican culinary herb, as well as an excellent vermifuge (that's something that dispels intestinal parasites). Epazote also helps to reduce intestinal gas (so your spouse will thank you!).

Enjoy those epazote burritos! With such amazing medicinal properties, you won't feel guilty going back for seconds...or thirds...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Another Day, Another Barter

I'm so very pleased!: I have managed another fine trade yet again through
craigslist! This time it was some of my herb seeds and plant starts for Jerusalem Artichoke tubers. I am going to be converting one of my 9 pear-crate-turned-container-garden into a half Sunchoke half Yacon bed. The nurseries seem to charge an awful lot for the tubers, so I posted an ad on craigslist asking for a barter. A very nice woman from Ashland answered, and today we are making the trade! I am quite excited! They are well-adapted to our climate zone, and can even over-winter in ground here.

Speaking of pear crates, Ryan brought home two more yesterday. One is going to be my second burdock bed, and the other is going to be my new garden sorrel bed. After speaking with a friend (who grows sorrel herself), I decided sorrel was
definitely a must-have for my garden! With my addiction to leafy greens, this early spring producer sounded perfect. I can't wait to purchase the seeds (unfortunately, I have to hold tight until payday next week).

Yesterday, I transplanted my
Stupice (pronounced "Stoo-pee-ka") and Orange Oxheart tomato starts into larger pots, along with my Jalapeno pepper, Mexican Tarragon, and Echinacea starts. I have estimated that by the time I am done and ready to begin selling, I am will have roughly 500 or more heirloom tomato plants, and about an equal number of heirloom pepper plants. I talked to Ryan about this, and besides selling them to friends and family and people on craigslist, we are also thinking of hosting a "Plant Sale Extravaganza" event in mid- to late-April at the farm. It will be $1 per start for tomatoes and peppers, and 50 cents per pot of herb starts. You can donate a plastic gallon plant pot and receive one free tomato or pepper start of your choice (limit one per customer). Once we coordinate schedules, we will post the date, time, and other details.

I sat down at the computer yesterday and sketched out a very much NOT to scale diagram of my raised beds on the property. If you are interested, you can view them below. The garden pasture will be planted solely with grain (
Camelina, Amaranth, and Quinoa) and squash/melon (Marina di Chiogga and Long Island Cheese winter squash, and Moon & Stars watermelon) crops. Due to poor soil and extreme gopher problems, I have decided that raised bed gardening is the best way to go about things around here!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ask Jillian

I have been quasi-jokingly informed by a dear friend (yes, that is you, Kailee) that I should start writing an "Ask Jillian" column for local, country living-related advice. It would be like "Dear Abbey" but with barnyard etiquette.
So, here is my first mock article:

"Dear Jillian,

I have an old row boat that no longer holds water just laying around on my property. I want to clean up my land, but I feel bad throwing it away. What can I do with it?

Confused in the Country"


"Well, Confused in the Country, your answer is a simple one. Merely take your old boat, power wash the dirt off with a hose, allow it to dry, and then white-wash the outside with an exterior primer. Drill drainage holes in the bottom with an electric drill, come up with a fitting name to paint on the side, and move it into the garden as your newest raised bed! You can build a mast out of an old trellis and train grapes to grow up it for an "organic" sail. And of course, don't forget that pirate flag!

P.S. - Don't pay to purchase grape plants! Grow your own using free cuttings obtained from local vineyards. Vineyards usually do their pruning from January to March, so you'll need to hustle to get those free cuttings!"