We got sheep! Loaner lambs, to be exact. Our friend Dianna raises some of the best lamb and chevron. She asked a while back if we had room in the orchard for some bummer lambs she had bottle-raised this spring. With all the rain this year, the orchard grass is booming so we said why not. If it doesn’t work, she would come take them back. If it does work, they can do some work with the mowing.
So far so good. The turkeys and chickens weren’t perturbed at all. The dogs are super excited about them, but now they are accepted as part of the farmstead, to be checked on regularly but not worried about.
As far as livestock goes, so far they are the easiest animal yet to care for. That is deceptive, since Dianna did all the work getting them weaned and trained to follow, and they won’t stay beyond the time the good grass gives out in the fall. But all we have to do is give them fresh water. Dianna will come check on them once a week or so. Eventually they will go away, finish growing out at her place, and one of them will come back here in little white paper packages next spring.
Husbandry and gardening: As they say around here, the garden is in. Just about everything is planted: corn, the various beans (pole, wax, bush, drying), squash and melon transplants, all the root vegetables, the surviving cabbage and kale starts. There’s still basil to figure out where to tuck in and a final round of brassica seedlings (Brussels sprouts, more cabbage and kale) to finish up, but every bed has something in it.
The garden is in, the flea beetles are out. We have our share of pests and annoyances and it looks like flea beetles are going to be bad this year. I usually hit it with some neem oil as part of a liquid fertilizer spray blend I make up, but I’m so far behind this year, nothing has been sprayed. It’s on the emergency list for Monday.
Food, harvest and preserving: The first of the greens are about ready to come in (see above for how far behind we are). We are using apple mint in a new cocktail I invented, recipe to come at some point. I am looking forward to having fresh cilantro again.
We are in the pantry and freezer draw-down phase of the year to make room for what’s coming in the fall. I spend Sunday doing a massive reorganization of the garage pantry shelves. I’m happy to say that the only things I let run out of date were the few comfort foods I keep around for stomach flus that otherwise we never eat. I’ve been making meals using up the bits and bobs out of the freezer.
The only thing I preserved this week was drying some sourdough starter as a back-up in case I mess up tending the jar in the fridge. Apparently once dry, it will keep for months in a mason jar.
Energy and conservation: R is still working on upgrading the drip irrigation timers and control for the garden beds. Our culinary water pressure is so high that getting the right manifold set-up takes a while, but it’s going to be worth it. He picked a system that we can even monitor from our phones.
Community: We dropped by the farmers market with the dogs on Saturday and went to the Entrada presentation on Saturday, otherwise pretty sad homebodies this week.
Creativity and recreation: Mandolin and guitar lessons taken. We saw Wonder Woman with some friends at the local theater.
Seasonal observations: of all the many field guides we own, my favorite is an old Peterson Field Guide Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, because it ties observations of other plants and animals to the bloom time. The Long-plumed avens, for example, “first flowers about the time earliest nesting Swainson’s hawks are laying eggs and bison are calving. It looks like it was updated in 1998 and they retained the naturalists’ commentary then went out of print again. You can pick up the magenta cover version for a penny on Amazon these days.
The point of this trip down memory lane is not about buying more books, it’s about observations “in the field” as it were. This week the perennial sweet peas and the first of the milkweed that both grow along the irrigation canals started blooming (as did the bindweed). We had a horrendous storm of cottonwood fluff accumulating in every corner, crevice and wind eddy. Sandhill cranes are calling in our neighbor’s pasture and we hear the snipe winnowing at night.
Next week: irrigation, weeding, and moving wood chips. We are about a week from thinking big thoughts while we get water flowing properly for the rest of the season. Get out the hammocks and listen to the snipe while looking at the Milky Way.