Saturday, May 13, 2006

Life Goes Back to Normal

Now that graduation is over, life on the ranch is going back to normal. My wife is planning to put her newly-certified knowledge to work. Among her plans is to start a rather large garden, plant some fruit trees and add a chicken coop.

She has started planning the garden. We visited the County Agricultural Extension office for information on what vegetables grow best in our area, based on climate, soil type, availablity of water and local insect pests. According to the agent, most of the usual vegetables do well. He advised staying away from corn and gave only a luke-warm recommendation on peas. But beans, carrots, beets, radishes, cucumbers, okra and squashes do very well. Deadly Nightshade family plants, such as tomatos, peppers and eggplant, require some special handling. He recommended using a soaker hose and covering the soil between the plants with black plastic. The plastic will hold the water in the soil and allow the plant to absorb water at a steady rate. Also, he said not to add any nitrogen boosting fertilizer until after the plants have started to set fruit. He also recommended that we raise tomatos, peppers and squashes for sale.

The next step for the garden is to clear the firewood from that location. A tree fell a while back and we have been cutting it up for firewood, a little at a time. This tree is now in the way. Wwe will have take the chain saw and cut it all up, and then move it out of the way. After that, the garden needs to be fenced to keep the herd out. The goats would be simply thrilled to eat our garden before we have anything for the table.

She also want to start a chicken coop, but this plan is much further from fruition. The fruit trees will go into the isolation compound. The land there needs work, first. I believe she plans to plant the trees after the summer heat is over.

Today, the project was medicating the herd. It was time for the periodic worming. The procedure is simple: grab a goat, estimate the weight, measure the medicine and squirt the dose into their mouth. The hard part, of course, is the grab a goat part. It only took us three hours to dose the whole herd. Not too bad. We also found that one of our neighbor's goats is hiding in our herd. Attempts to return her to the neighbor's herd failed - she returned to our herd. Oh, well. I am sure that we have probably lost at least one animal to his herd over the years.

One sidelight - a horse rancher in the northern part of the county has offered my wife a job. She will drop by tomorrow, Mother's Day, to get the details and for him to look at her riding and horsemanship. If this works out, we will have some additional income, but the children will have to do more to keep the ranch in good order. It might delay the garden by a week or two, but we will get the garden in.

The opportunity to give Max away fell through. The couple who were looking to get him are no longer interested - in fact, they are no longer a couple. They broke up. Oh, well. We will find another home for him.

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