Lately it seems like I have nothing new to add to the digital universe. Then I sit down to write so my mom doesn’t think I’ve disappeared off the face of the planet, and the post goes on and on. Digital noise or content? You decide. Here’s what’s been going on at the ranch:
The critters are looking good. The geese started laying eggs in March. Goose breeding is not an elegant affair. They prefer to do it in their kiddie pool. It took them a while to figure it out–one of the first attempts had a male riding backwards on the back of a female. They apparently figured it out, since the girls won’t lay until they are mated. I can’t explain why the females tolerate regular near-drownings from these punks–the males have gotten really testy from their hormones (is that where that idiom comes from?) and competition amongst themselves. And forget about the idea of them mating for live. What we have out there is a polyamorous flock with no apparent loyalty.
There are a couple mountain lions hanging about far too close to our place. One f our neighbors lost a ewe this spring not to far from here. Slate is on extra lock-down right now, although if he stays between the geese at our place and the llamas at our neighbor’s, he’s probably ok. We do have a “skunk kit” ready to deploy some enchanted evening when he slinks home after that inevitable encounter. Baby chicks are on order for April, ducks in May, turkeys in June. I like eating poultry.
A bunch of stuff is getting done here at the ranch. We are digging an irrigation impoundment-ok, Wes and Aaron are digging, we are just paying. It should help us manage our water turns for the Bluebird orchard, and allow us to use some technology rather than brute force to do the watering. I used up my ration of brute force last year.
I don’t think I ever wrote what happened when they burnt the ditches leading to our property last year. That’s when I met the new fire chief at 4 in the morning. I was up (not unusual) and looked out the window (somewhat unusual), where I saw a line of shrubs on fire like roman candles going off (definitely not usual) on our neighbor’s property. The cleaning crew had done a good job of putting out the fire when they burned it, but it had flared up again at dusk. The volunteer fire department had come and doused it really well. What no one knew was the fire was still smoldering in the roots of a dead poplar. I jumped in the truck, drove over and put a hose on it, tried to call the neighbor who had the fire chief’s number. I didn’t want to call 911 if I could help it, which would trigger the fire department siren, rousing the entire town. But the neighbor slept through the whole phone ringing. Then the wind kicked up, and I realized the fire had just surpassed my pay grade. I called, the siren roared out, then I watched lights come on all around town as the good folks of the VFD jumped in their cars and came to my relief with pumper trucks, axes and really big hoses. Not exactly how you want to meet your neighbors, in your pjs at 4 am holding a pathetic little garden hose like a backwards version of the boy with his finger in the dike. This year’s burn was accomplished without incident.
It has been far too warm, disturbingly so, and not good for the trees. One big burst of cold took out the apricot fruit again this year. At least for a few days, the bees were happy. We helped host a beekeeping workshop at our place for a group of homesteading-type friends. The bees came through the winter in outstanding shape. The instructor checked one of the hives for varroa mites and didn’t find any, most excellent news. We all got to identify the queen, see the larvae being brooded, and the procedure for the mite test. We should probably get another empty hive so we are ready to divide the biggest one. Even if we don’t have fruit, we should have some honey this year. On the to-do list for spring is planting forage for them, like lavender, sunflower and thyme.
It snowed again this morning. Never complain about water in the desert. However, the garden is going in late. Glad I wasn’t fooled by foolish weather when I wanted to plant peas on St. Patricks Day. At this rate, Cinco de Mayo seems a better bet.
Now that I’m back, I have some fried eggs and ham to show you next.