This was picked out of our vegetable garden yesterday. The zucchini plants seem to be slowing down, though we are still getting a few each day. Now the cucumber plants seem to be kicking it into high gear. We are starting to get spaghetti squash and watermelon now. I found a small watermelon that had been completely hollowed out with two large holes in each side. I am assuming mice must have done it. How strange, mice must love watermelon but they did leave us this one.
I did not know if we were going to get very many tomatoes this year because when they first began to ripen the bugs got to most of them before we could. I was temped to spray but I really wanted a pesticide free garden this year. So I put it off, told my husband "see we should have gotten guinea hens this year", and took a wait and see approach. Once the tomatoes started ripening all at once I have found the bugs are not getting to nearly as many of them and we are starting to get quite a few tomatoes. They are not the prettiest tomatoes but they sure do taste better than the ones at the grocery store.
One of the plants I am most happy with is the bird house gourds. I started them from seeds indoors and only a couple came up. How disappointing because I really did want some for birdhouses and crafts. So I planted those two and they just kind of sat out there the same size forever. Late in the spring I planted some more seeds straight into the ground, not really expecting much from them. They have taken off! They completely covered the trellis we made for them and part of the feeding pen fence. Luckily the goats don't have access to that except at feed time so them eating it hasn't been an issue. They don't seem to like the birdhouse gourd vines anyway, unlike my corn!
I thought I planted it far enough away from the fence but I underestimated my goats determination. The hornless goats in the herd have reached through the fence, stretching and pushing until they have eaten the first three or four stalks of corn in each row. I am amazed just how far they can reach through the fence if there is something they want bad enough. They haven't pushed the fence down yet, but it wasn't for lack of trying! The goats are still eyeing the corn they can't reach, if they ever get out my corn is a goner for sure!
I am very happy to see the garden do so well this year. We have gotten more out of it than we alone can use. A lot has been given away to friends and family but we are also going to take produce to the farmers market this week. I don't know if we will come out ahead in the end but it sure is nice to raise some of our own food and be that much closer to self sufficiency.
We are up to our ears in zucchini this year and I have been giving it away, freezing it as well as using it in new and inventive ways just so it doesn't go to waste. There has just been so much of it I have not always got every zucchini picked out of the garden as quickly as it should have been. Some just got too big in the garden and I knew they would have a woody taste and yucky huge seeds in them. I was prepared to put them in the compost pile, not a big deal. I mean it is not like we are exactly hurting for zucchini around here. That is when I got the idea to slice the too large zucchini up to see if the goats would like them. The does and kids thought they were OK, but not too great. I think they just hate to turn any kind of food down because they would take them but many would drop the zucchini on the ground as if to say "bleh, why do we get the tough, overgrown ones?" Those does are SUCH spoiled divas.
On the way back to the house I held out a large slice of zucchini to one of the bucks, not really expecting him to take it. Not only did he take it but he loved it! The other buck in that pasture ran up and tried to take the zucchini slice right out of the first buck's mouth but he wasn't going to give up his treat without a fight. This started a small tussle between them that really wasn't more than a bit of pushing with some growls and posturing thrown in just for good measure. Once the apparently awesome zucchini slice was gone they were best buddies again though. Must be a male thing, I have seen my husband act the same way over a chicken wing once.
So now every other day or when I have some extra zucchini that got too large in the garden I slice it up for the bucks. I never give them too much at once because too much of anything is not good. They do love this special treat though and as long as they both have a mouth full of zucchini neither one of them get bent out of shape thinking the other goat is getting something to eat that they aren't. I wanted to share a video of them eating zucchini slices because they are quite enthusiastic and funny about it.
I also want to express my most sincere appreciation for every person that send emails and left kind comments about Dreyfus. He is very missed at our home and your kind words really mean so much. Thank you!
"Dreyfus" Best Dog ever, passed over the rainbow bridge yesterday. He was the best livestock guardian dog I have ever had. He was a wise, patient and quiet old soul with a fun, quirky personality. Dreyfus, you took your job seriously, but you could be silly too. Affectionately called "the leaner" because he liked to sit and lean against your leg and as soon as you quit petting him he would throw his head back and lean harder. I remember the time the rather "fussy" lady came to look at goats in her flip flops and you dripped drool on her foot. Classic Dreyfus! My boy, this place isn't going to be the same without you. You were a valiant protector of your flock, a beautiful soul and a good friend. I am going to miss you.
I decided this year to keep track of the vegetables that we harvest out of our garden. I am keeping a running total on the sidebar of this blog. So far the lettuce bolted and was a wash. None of it was edible, well at least not by my standards. Horrible, bitter stuff that it was the goats thought it was simply delicious. I don't think the broccoli is going to fair any better. The weather has just been too hot and I just got it started too late with the monsoon rains we had in the spring.
The tomatoes are starting to come in though. We probably would have gotten more tomatoes already but we have been under attack by tomato worms. I wanted to keep the garden organic this year but I may have to break down and do something. If anyone has any good organic suggestions, or any suggestions at all for tomato worms I would welcome them! There are still lots of green tomatoes in the garden yet though. Swiss Chard is something I have never had in the garden before so I did not plant much of it, but what I did plant has been doing great.
For the rest of my garden shortcomings one thing that grows really well here is zucchini! I can hardly believe we have gotten over 50lbs of it already! We have had zucchini in our spaghetti, zucchini bread, fried zucchini, two different types of zucchini casserole and tomorrow I will freeze some of it. I have given sacks full of it away but people are starting to not answer the door when they see me coming. "Oh No, please no more zucchini!" I guess next week I will take some of it to the farmer's market and hopefully I will have some tomatoes to take with it. If the worms don't beat me to them! It looks like it is definitely going to be a zucchini year for us here on Shiloh Prairie Farm. What kind of year is your garden having?
Garden Harvest 2009 (so far!)
Grape Tomatoes - 1 lb, 13 oz.
Green Onion - 2 bunches
Red Tomatoes - 5 lbs, 12 oz.
Swiss Chard - 11 oz.
Yellow Tomatoes - 1 lb, 2 oz.
Zucchini - 50 lbs, 3 oz.
I am including some links to zucchini recipes I have posted in the past in case anyone reading this is also having a zucchini year with their garden and needs some recipes to help put all that zucchini to good use!
This is Blackberry. She is a shiny, black percentage Boer doe and one of my favorite goats on the farm. I am really looking forward to what her kids next year will look like. She is a yearling in this picture. I really like this picture of her. It can be quite difficult to get good pictures of my goats. Typically as soon as they see the camera half of them walk away and the other half of the herd all take turns crowding me and sticking their noses up to the camera. This is the reason I have a ridiculous amount of pictures of goat butts and noses on my computer but not very many good side photographs. So this picture was the nice exception, well almost ... you just have to ignore the goat kid peeing in the background. Hey when you got to go, you got to go I guess.
I guess I am down to posting just once a week. Of course part of it is what time of year this is, always a busy season on the farm. That is a big part of it because between the goats, the garden, the farm in general and planning my sister's baby shower I just can't seem to keep my ducks in a row at all these days. That is not the only thing though, the truth is I am in a funk. I don't know how else to explain it, just a funk.
So for the blog lately I am afraid I got nothing; no that isn't true...I got spaghetti squash! I may end up with a lot more of that to harvest than I know what to do with. It is taking over the garden. It is spreading, creeping and climbing everywhere. It is out in the yard, climbing up the gate, crawling right over the tomato plants to try and choke the pepper plants to death. This plant really has boundary issues, but it is making up for it with lots of fruit. I have never ate spaghetti squash so I guess we will see how it is. Here is a picture of one of the fruits growing on the vine. If you are wondering why there is so much grass in my garden, that is because this particular vine has grown past the edge of the garden and out into the yard. Happy garden days!