All Quiet on the Western Front

Now I’ve gone from movie verbiage to novel titles.
It’s been snowing/raining and generally cold this week. In fact Morganna’s school closed on Monday AND Wednesday for a SNOW DAY! We only got a dusting, if that, but higher up managed to get a few inches! IN APRIL!

Pictured is Friday afternoon’s sky over the orchard. It’s a lot nicer than earlier this week!


Castration Day and Other Sheep News!

Morganna and I castrated all but 4 of the ram lambs this morning before the blog went out. The ewes and their lambs went into a new small area to eat grass so the lambs could feel sorry for themselves without getting eaten by coyotes. We’ll open the gate to the Old Barn Pasture tomorrow.

Winter got his last round of bottles this week. In fact his last bottle was this morning after we banded him so he wouldn’t completely hate life afterwards.
He’s been busy spending time with us when we go outside and do any kind of work. He loves to get in the way and be a complete nuisance, but he’s cute so can forgive him haha.

Not pictured are the yearling ewes and new ewes out with the llamas and horse in their new pasture called “Neighbor Pasture”. They’re happy animals!

I’ve added a new page to the website called Breeding & Lambing Season Process. It contains links to older blog posts and YouTube videos I’ve made as well as lots of written explanations of what we do around here.
Please check it out!


Feathered Babies!

The chicks are growing like weeds, getting quite feathered and some voices are changing from a peep to a little deeper sound. Shane has been busy prepping the ground for the chicken coop. It’s going to be 8×16 with the ability to split it in half to breed purebred chickens in the future. The run will also be 8×16 and be able to split in half for the same reason.
We’re thinking of breeding Australorps pure since they are such good egg layers and the roosters are pretty gentle (but watchful for aerial and ground predators).
In this video Shane is hand feeding the chicks some dried larva. Some aren’t so keen on him being so close, but other’s love the treat!


Food Forest Ponderings

I’ve been obsessing over a hand-drawn map of the orchard, planning what trees go where and what kind of nitrogen fixers to put in as well. Ceanothus, Goumi, and maybe Silverberry are the main choices. I have one autumn olive too that I might plant out there and hope it behaves and doesn’t spread. I was going to get Seaberry but from what I understand from a friend involved in the Home Orchard Society out here, it can spread somewhat aggressively. It has thorns too so I think I will pass. We have a couple new Forest Pansy Redbud trees but I keep hearing conflicting reports about whether or not they fix nitrogen. I think I will still plant some Redbud out there though and see. Maple trees and Apple trees are Dynamic Accumulators (meaning they bring nutrients up from down deep and when the leaves fall, those nutrients become available to the surrounding vegetation). This means I will plant some maples along the fence line and start the orchard about 60 feet away. The Apples will be jumbled up with Pears, Peaches, Plums and Cherries in that section. The only trees we have out there now are a Charlotte Peach, Ubileen Pear and a Gravenstein Apple. We have new trees of Brooks Plum, Bartlett Pear, Ambrosia Apple, and Pink Lady Apple going out there.

This area has to be Goose friendly so mostly trees or tall shrubs. I think Elderberry will be fine out there too as long as they are protected until they are tall enough to survive the geese. I’m still considering other trees and shrubs so am by no means finished thinking this orchard through! I haven’t even fully decided on the berry section yet and the nitrogen fixers for that area! Planting is the easy part. We have to also figure out the irrigation and put in fencing so the geese can’t destroy things where I don’t want them. (FYI, Geese and ducks are in the plans for NEXT SPRING). Just can’t do it all at once!


Patio Plants

We need to get our rear in gear and finish preparing the flower bed along the West side of the house. That’s where these peonies and daylilies are supposed to go! They won’t last in these little containers much longer!


Nature

Didn’t make it out for a woods walk this week. Was just too cold and wet and I was getting sick. Wasn’t feeling it this time!

I had just gotten home from taking Morganna to school and was sitting in the van in our driveway when I spotted a bird I had never seen or noticed before. Turns out they are Golden Crowned Sparrows. They only winter in our area and actually breed and summer up in the tundra! Cute little birds! Here is a link to the Audubon Society about them.


Next blog will be the Last Quarter Moon, the morning of April 23rd.
See you then, and Happy Easter if you celebrate it!

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