Category: Animal husbandry

Morning high jinks. I went out to survey the tunnels and decide the priority for projects on today’s agenda and I noticed something odd when I went down through the barn. And then something else that was odd – hoof prints… And they weren’t cloven.

So I look around and sure enough Gizmo’s where he should be, Melora, Rose and Flash are where they should be. Where’s Rocky? Oh, there’s Rocky. Not where I left you. Standing there next to the rope gate to the Arena Garden, which would have been OK except he was on the wrong side.
So, grab the halter and lead that were hanging on the gate post near by, put it on him, give him lots of scratches and tell him what a good boy he is. Undo the gate, and put him back in with the herd. And of course, Melora (who’s in heat right now) comes up and asks “Can I come out too?” I don’t think so…
I don’t know how long he was out, he probably got out sometime in the middle of the night judging by the 3 piles he left in various locations, one of which had frost on it.
So everyone’s back safe and sound. No mares got out to tease the stallion (which would have been a major disaster), and I’ve got a little fencing project to add to this morning’s agenda at the top of the list….

Just goes to show you that ya gotta be flexible and fast on your feet on the farm. You also need to keep a cool head when working with livestock. This could have been a very dangerous situation, especially since Rocky was standing right next to the existing tunnels with the crops that I depend on for my income. Fortunately, during the night when he was wandering about, he stayed on the foot paths between the tunnels and didn’t try to go through any of them. And he didn’t spook while he was out or when I caught him up and undid the rope gate.

And, even though I could have lost my cool and brained him, that wouldn’t have been productive (he wouldn’t know why I was mad at him). So instead I told him what a good boy he was and gave him lots of scratches, stayed nice and calm and just did what I needed to do to get everyone secured and safe.


New arrivals, some expected some not, crops ripening, others ready for transplant for fall and winter foods. There’s always something going on out here and never enough hours in the day nor days in the week to get all the projects and chores done. Keeps me busy and out of trouble, at least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it…..

There’s a feral cat who showed up out here a few weeks ago. I trapped him or her in the live trap when we were having trouble with night predators back then. I don’t know if it was this cat killing the young chickens and turkeys or not. At the time I was hesitant to kill him/her, which is what I would normally do with a predator. I decided to take the cat down to the back of the arena garden and turn him/her loose. My thinking at the time was that the cat was so upset by being in the trap that it wouldn’t come back. This may have been a good thing or a bad thing because the cat is back and is becoming more and more acclimated to my pressence. I worry about the birds some, although they’re getting big enough that they’d be more than the cat should be interested in taking on, and then too, the chickens are used to bossing Sammy and JD, our resident cats. On the other hand, I’ve been finding parts from rather large rats in the barn on some mornings. It’s this cat, I’m convinced, who is killing and eating the rats. Can’t be Sammy or JD as they are kept indoors at night, and another predator probably wouldn’t leave their leftovers around the barn. If the cat keeps the rat population down, it’ll help and it’ll keep him/her well enough fed that he/she shouldn’t take a shot at the chickens. So we’ll see what develops.

feral cat

The feral cat

The first of the guinea fowl have been turned out of the brooder shed.

guinea fowl and broiler

The first batch of guinea fowl and their adopted mom - a cornish cross broiler pullet - note that the broiler is only about 3 weeks older than the guinea fowl.

They were turned out yesterday and are still learning the ropes of life in the great outdoors. The resident flock of layers and pullets are not quite sure what to make of the guinea fowl. The guineas were raised with the cornish cross broiler, so the chickens seem to be a bit more accepting of them. Guinea fowl are very spooky, meaning that they’re always a hair’s breadth away from alerting on something. Even while foraging it’s very rare that at least one of them isn’t on lookout.

Guinea fowl are completely different than the other birds I’m working with out here. It’s nice to learn a new species. They’re really fascinating birds. I can understand why people use them as ‘watch dogs’. Raising them with the broiler seems to have calmed them a bit. Broilers are very sedate birds and, at least in my experience this year with them, seem to have a calming effect on the flightier birds. I’ve noticed that the other breeds of chickens I’m raising with the guinea keets, it’s the other way ’round. That is, being around the guineas makes the chickens flightier than they would be.

On the plant side of things, I’ve been busy transplanting more crops into 1 gallon pots and some into larger pots. When I picked up the big greenhouse hoops and posts, I was able to salvage a lot of black plastic pots. I have 600 filled, and about 1/3 of them with plants.

1 gallon pots

1 gallon pots in the arena garden.

The row on the right side of the picture has orange plastic construction netting over it. There are edible chrysanthemums, Anaheim peppers, Fenugreek and Mexican Sour Gherkins planted in the row. On the left, it’s mostly cherry, pear and currant tomatoes planted in the pots, and will also have peppers, Fenugreek, Annise, Basil and other herbs planted in them.

I also have eggplant that will be planted into larger pots that are at the end of the row on the left (you can see part of one of those pots in the lower left hand corner of the picture).

eggplant flower

Eggplant flower

I had a lot of eggplant seed started of several different varieties. They were doing quite well, but unfortunately the cool weather when I moved them out of the greenhouse caused them all to be stunted and they didn’t make it. However, over at Bi-Mart in Molalla, there were some very nice 4″ pots of eggplant available at a very reasonable price, so I bought 8-10 plants, so we’ll have eggplant in a couple months. Better late than never. The varieties I bought are Japanese Long, Satin and the large black eggplant. These will be planted in the large 3-5 gallon pots so that I can move them into the big greenhouse that will be put up over the raised tomato rows when the weather turns cool.

And speaking of tomatoes –

Current tomato - "Sweet Pea"

Current tomato - "Sweet Pea"

Some are begining to turn. There are a lot of fruit set on the tomato plants. The first to ripen are the current, cherry and pear tomatoes, some of which are starting to blush.

Cherry tomato - "Golden Nugget"

Cherry tomato - "Golden Nugget"

Some of the other crops are starting to turn –

Thai Chili Peppers

Thai Chili Peppers

The Thai Chili Peppers are loaded and begining to develop some color.


Black berries - someone's set up a web. Hope they're eating plenty of black berry predators.

As are the black berries. I’ve sampled a few of the berries that have turned already. They’re still a bit tart, and I’m hoping that the warm weather that’s forecast for the next week will ripen enough of them that I can start picking berries for everyone.

Young lamb's quarters

Young Lamb's Quarters

We’ll have young Lamb’s Quarters for the July 31st share. These are very delicate and tender. I have a hard time staying out of them when I water the raised tomato rows.

Cole Crops ready for transplanting

Cole crops ready for transplanting

I’ll be planting lots of cabbage, cauliflower and romanesco this week and starting more seed next week for the late fall/winter crops. Last year I had brussels sprout plants that made it through to spring. When I went to plant the Jerusalem artichokes, I pulled those plants and just tossed them off to the side. The plants refused to die, sent down roots, replanting themselves, flowered and went to seed. Amazing! I’ll be starting a lot of brussels sprout seed next week, not only for the delectable little morsels we’re all familiar with, but also as a winter green.

Did you know that the leaves of the brussels sprouts, as well as the other brassicas we’re familiar with (cabbage, broccoli, romanesco, cauliflower), make a wonderful substitute for kale, mustard greens, collard greens, etc.? They make a wonderful variation on the theme of cooked greens.

Till next time – Jo