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Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Now sheep, sheep would be interesting.


What, you didn't know we were talking about livestock?  Try to keep up, people!

As I was saying, ahem, much as I would like a cow, sheep might be a better animal for us.  They are happy on a smaller plot of land (cows need about an acre each of edible pasture).  Sheep can eat almost any pasture and make great lawn mowers.  And they are multi-talented.

I knew about the wool, of course.  And I knew about the meat.

But did you know you can milk sheep?

I didn't!  And, frankly, the thought just seems a bit wrong.  So I did some research.  Apparently sheep's milk is a growing delicacy in America.  Admittedly, I find the idea of milking a sheep comical.  They are so fuzzy!   And so fearful.  But I am open to new experiences.

Check out this article at Mother Earth News.  It talks about the wonders of the small flock.

Sheep also seem pretty low-maintenance, and require less strident fencing.  From what I learned, the main issue with sheep is predators.  So fences are really to keep other animals (stray dogs, coyotes, bears, el chupacabra) out.

Low maintenance I can do.  No hoof cutting, horn debudding (or at least not always), and no high and tough fences.  Sheep aren't bright enough or brave enough to want to escape.

Unlike goats.

Tomorrow we will discuss goats.  Mark your calendars!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It started raining this evening!  Fingers crossed, everyone!

And the heat broke!  Lots of exclamation points, but I am feeling that hope might spring eternal.  And tomorrow I am going to investigate netting to keep out the grasshoppers.

Luck, luck, luck.  I am not giving up yet.

Buh-bye Gloomy Jen.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good, Bad and Ugly

Hi everyone.  Gloomy Jen, here.  Hope you are well.  Please don't start drinking early after reading today's post - wait at least until noon.

It is time to face some facts, and acknowledge some likely truths; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

THE GOOD:  I have seen evidence of everything I planted, except for the carrots.  So the garden is not an unmitigated failure.  However, only the turnips have come up in numbers above two (yes, two!), so definitely not a success.  Not yet.

It would be in keeping with the rest of this year if I harvested exactly two of each vegetable.  It really has been the year of major effort and minimal return.

THE BAD:  This garden is suffering.  Suffering, I tells ya!  For the most part, the heat is the major culprit.  95 degrees is abysmal for September!  I have tried to be good about watering, but it is hard to get motivated watering clay.  Luckily, the weather should break on Sunday.  I am holding out hope that once the heat breaks, the garden will take off.

I think I am also to blame for the suffering.  I think I may have planted the seeds too deeply.  Well, have you ever tried to plant minuscule dots a quarter inch under the ground?  It is difficult.  I was hopeful that they would persevere and push through, but that hope is fading.

THE UGLY:  Grasshoppers!  Stupid, lazy grasshoppers.  I have always been partial to the ants in the story, and now I am definitely on Team Ant!  Grasshoppers appear to be eating the spinach as it comes up.  So I will see a sprout, and then the next day it is gone!  Stoooopid grasshoppers.  They are on my list!

Of course, if I find out that the ants have made off with my missing seeds, the ants are going on the list, too.

To sum up:

Something is growing, if not much.

Grasshoppers suck.

Hope springs eternal.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

There is Something Happening!

See that?  See it?  What?  You don't see it?  LOOK!

That is a Turnip.  Honest.  Very exciting!

And this!  This is Kale:

And Chard:

And Spinach:

What do you mean, you can't tell the difference?  Hah

Um, well, neither can I.  But I know where I planted them, and all plants look similar when their cotyledon leaves poke through.  Those are the tough leaves that break open the seed, and push up through the soil.  They fall off once the real growth starts.

So, we will have something growing in our little garden elephants.  But the first sprouts are few and far between.  I am choosing to be optimistic.  The other little buggers will poke through later this week.  Right?  Right?

No sign yet of the carrots, cabbage, broccoli, or beets.  But I know they are coming too.

Well, at least I hope so.

That is all for now.  I made signs for all the elephants, but stopped short of making them look like tombstones.  Pictures to come later.  Maybe.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Three Acres and a Cow

I have a milestone birthday coming up in about a month.  In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean much, but I have had it on my mind.  Or, more honestly, I have been daydreaming of fabulous presents.  I love virtual shopping!  And it really takes the pressure off when I am very certain we don't have the money for any fabulous presents.  So no stress, and no disappointment.

Today I was daydreaming about an old-school American dream.  A family cow!

ayrshire cow photo

How great would that be?  What, no answer?  Let me break it down for you:

  • Milk, in abundant supply.  So no more $3.00-$4.00 / gallon weekly drain.
  • Manure (yes, manure).   Properly composted, it is fabulous for the garden.
  • Calves.  Fun to watch grow, great 4H project, etc.
  • Beef, from when the calves are all grown up.
  • Cheese, Butter, Ice Cream, Buttermilk.  Yum, Yum, Yum.
  • Animals bring joy and responsibility in equal parts to your life.  Great for kids to learn and experience both.
Now doesn't that sound like the ultimate in a birthday gift?  Mooo!

 Keeping a Family Cow 

In other news, today I helped a small group of college students plant a vegetable garden.  I have the strangest part-time job!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Those Are Some Busy Elephants

All I can say is, "Finally!"  I am hoping this is a case of better late than never, but our fall seeds are finally in the ground.  My constant companion, the 4-year-old, and I went out on Wednesday and dug in.  Well, I dug in.  My boy did a minuscule amount of raking and then ran around chasing butterflies and "checking on the dogs."

Our six garden plots look like nothing so much as burial plots for 6 unfortunate elephants.  In fact, I said a little service for our dearly departed Merty, Gerty, Flirty, Berty, Lloyd, and Gus.  May they rest in peace.

Now we just have to add water, and hope that the elephants are keeping the babies warm and helping them sprout.

Here's what we are attempting to grow:

Carrot, Paris Market

Cabbage, Early Jersey Wkfld

Broccoli, Calabrese

Spinach, America

Chard, Five Color Silverbeet OG

Turnip, Purple Top White

Beet, Early Blood Turnip OG

Kale, Lacinato OG

If it all grows as planned, it will certainly be pretty!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No Substitutions

A word to the wise(r than me).  White sugar is not a substitution for confectioners sugar in baking.

Trust me. 

Now, I think this needs a caveat.  I normally make beautiful, smooth, delicious chocolate icing.  I swear.

The icing normally looks dark and delicious.  It does not look (and taste) crystallized and gritty.  Nor does it normally slide right off the cake.

Thank goodness that I am an amateur, so none of you can submit this to Cake Wrecks.

I think that is enough embarrassment for one day, don't you think?