Saturday, January 18, 2014


This week on the homestead...

We've been keeping busy in this warm un-winterlike weather.  Today was 76 degrees.  It felt hotter.  Good weather to work outside in.  Plenty of sunshine and a gentle breeze. 

My son is up for a visit this week and he cut down a few dead/dying trees for me in the front yard.  There are several trees that are rotting through the centers here.  We spent the better part of the last few days chipping up and spreading out what we couldn't split for firewood to help build a layer of mulch around a few trees that are hanging in there.  

We are in a drought,  Well, in truth, California has been in a drought for a few years now.  It's January and we've had only one rain/snow since the end of Spring 2013.  The old oak trees are really suffering.  The young native grasses that started growing a month ago, have all but dried up already.  I am worried about the 150k acre cattle ranch next door if things don't change.  Their angus graze the mountains and they're going to be parched unless something changes.  

This has me reconsidering a few of my big homestead goals for 2014.  

To raise a feeder cow for beef
To expand my vegetable garden space
To repair the existing pasture irrigation system and use it
To cut down and burn piles of brush/dead trees

Pasture grazing will not be likely in this extended dry spell.  Even if we irrigate.  The electric bill would really climb to keep that well pump going if that were the only water available by May, making it unaffordable this year unless things change soon.

Making the best of things, I may have to hold off on my plan to expand my veggie garden for another year too.  Nothing was growing well here during our record HOT summer last year (about 90 days at or above 100 degrees in a row) and it's looking like it may be another hot one this year so I am going to prepare to stick to the few more expensive staples that can tolerate heat like tomatoes, squash, and peppers.  Instead of raising more rows, I can spend time building soil instead for next year.  I am going to mulch everything I can this year too, and build up lots more compost.  Those goals will help alot next year.

I am still going to repair the sprinklers so they'll be ready for whenever it cools down enough to start some pasture seed on just irrigation, likely by Fall.  

With the red flag warnings for fire danger continuing into the new year, the county was forced to suspend burn permits.  We never even got to burn up the collected dead limbs and brush overgrown from last year so rather than clearing more dead stuff with no place to take it to, I am going to focus on the limbs that are big enough to burn and the wood that is soft enough to chip for mulch this year.  That still helps, it just won't have as big an impact on fire protection, but hopefully things will get better before Summer and we will get some more rain so they atleast grant us the chance to burn the dead stuff that's been in burn piles since Fall.  

Look at Lily's belly.  She's carrying a few babies we hope...

I am excited to report that both of my does are bred and doing well.  We expect to have our first goat babies born here on the farm in April.  

As soon as I finish this post I am back to work online to complete my tester certification class.  Once I have my certification I will get a herdcode identity for my goats and just as soon as my girls freshen we will begin milk test for our first time.  Milk Test is a wonderful tool that will help me evaluate my does and select the best breedings for the future of my dairy herd.  I hope I am up to the challenge.  It's going to be an enormous amount of work I think...but so much fun too.  Thanks for listening to me blather on and on. 

Wishing you lots of progress around your homestead.

Let's   Get   H-O-P-P-I-N-G!

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  1. I hope you find something that works well in the garden. We grew tomatillos on cattle fencing one year and they were fantastic growers with a long season, at least for us.

  2. Thanks Kathy. I hope so too. I am about ready to do a rain dance. We need water. I am going to look into tomatillos. I like salsa and enchilada sauce made from them. Thanks for the good idea. That may be one more thing to plant in my smaller garden this year.