Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No More Pond . . . For Now

We had a family meeting and made the decision to do away with the pond that was at the beginning of our 40 acres. There have been a few events that led up to this decision:
- Last year we lost a really cool guard llama (Ranger) to deer worm (most likely from the pond)
- We had a pasture pig get sick last year sometime. After looking at her symptoms and looking things up online, we think it was algae poisoning .
- We had another llama get sick recently and die. I am not sure of the exact cause of her death but, she was in the habit of urinating in the pond and hanging out in the pond all day. The pond water was not to clean looking. I am not sure if she was sick from this or something else.
       So, we decided that since it was not a deep enough pond nor a properly designed one, we would get rid of it. Here are a few pics of the event:






If we ever decide to put a pond back in, then we would have to do quite a bit of research (and digging) to make it a better pond. At this point I felt it was a threat to our livestock.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pot Belly Pigs

Here are some pics of some pot belly pigs that have made their way to our ranch. The first is a sow:
This one is a boar:
Here are some younger ones:



Friday, August 27, 2010

NEW animals!

     You never know what might show up on this ranch! We have added a few animals this week.
     Four turkeys:
A few Silky Chicks and a Silky Rooster:
AND, an Alpaca:
Why? Well, I can explain that in a later post as I have to go milk the goats right now so we can go to the bi-weekly animal auction:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Bugs Have Come!

    
     The picture above is what the war is over. It is me against the myriad of bugs that have attacked the garden this year. It has been way worse than last year. And now, even in late August, there is an onslaught of Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles. So, I got online and started reading about what to do to get rid of these pests. I was not encouraged but rather discouraged as I read numerous accounts of other gardeners saying that there is no way to win against the above 2 mentioned insects. I felt like throwing the towel in until I went out one last time and saw the 2 zucchinis that are growing.
      I had a new reason to fight these bugs . . . they are in the process of killing the plants that are growing the crops that I want for my family. Here is a picture of a Squash Bug having the guts to eat the zucchini plant:
Here is a picture of the same Squash Bug after I sprayed him with my solution of Dawn dish soap and water:

     Here is a picture of the Cucumber Beetles that attacked the zucchini plant:
And, here is what happens to bugs that I find eating my garden plants:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Garden Update

Well, my posting has kind of fallen by the wayside over the past weeks since we have been doing much outside. I'll try to give you a quick garden update right now before we head to the local swimmin' hole.
       This year was a more difficult year to grow things. We planted as soon as we could in April and got hit up with a variety of troubles - early blight, squash beetles (I'm still battling these even now in August!), grasshoppers, Japanese beetles. When I make my rounds in the morning, I usually just grab a spray bottle with Dawn dish soap in it and spray to groups of black blister beetles as I see them.
      Despite these gardening trials, we have managed to have a fair amount of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers and jalapenos. The tomatoes and cukes are coming to an end now and the 3rd planting of zucchinis are starting to grow - hopefully, I will be able to fend off the squash beetles! Along with the zukes are pumpkins and watermelon plants. The pepper plants seem to have survived the heat indexes of 105 and are still producing green & red peppers and lots of jalapenos. One of my favorite things to do is to pick a red pepper and eat it like an apple - sweet and yummy and lots of vitamin C and lycopenes. I'll try to get a post up about what I am doing with bucketfuls of jalapenos later on . . .
       Soooo, onto some pictures! Here is where the pickling cukes were planted. They have been uprooted and tossed over the fence to the goats. Now there are Sugar Peas planted here.
These are the 4 mounds we did a month ago or so. There are zucchini, pumpkins and watermelon growing here:

This is a patch of Green Bell pepper plants that we got from the local feed coop. They were heading to the trash can (since "most" folks think gardening ends at the end of summer) - Thankfully Joe was nice enough to pass them our way and so we ended up with over 200 plants! We passed them out to some friends and neighbors and also managed to get about 40 plants into this spot.

More pumpkin and striped zucchini growing near the edge of a garden spot:

This is one of the sweet potato patches that we planted quite a few months ago:

This is a spot of renegade cukes and some cantalope plants that we rescued from the dumpster!
      

Bunnies!

We have been slowly getting into raising meat rabbits for our family. At this point, we have one Production White doe (Ms. Merritt), one 7 week old doe, one young Champagne doe, and a Production White buck.
       Ms. Merritt had a litter of 9 a little over a week ago. There were 6 living and 3 dead (could have been from the intense heat we have been experiencing here in Oklahoma). We lost 2 more over the week and now have 4 in the nestbox.
I am hoping, Lord willing, to expand the rabbitry to house more does. My goal is to have enough meat for our family to not have to buy any at the store anymore. I'll keep you updated on the progress of this experiment especially since I am researching what plants to grow to raise the rabbits on (hence, lower the rabbit pellet cost) and also looking into running the fryers in "hare tractors"!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How We Got to Oklahoma

Having been born and raised in Southern California, I had no intentions of moving. But, as you can see, we made the big move to Oklahoma 2 years ago. One of the main reasons we left CA was because OK has way better homeschooling laws. We packed up and moved 13 people, about 10 dogs, 30+ bunnies, some 20 or so goats, some cats and some of our belongings. It was quite the trip, driving across the states and stopping every 12 hours to milk the goats along the way in various parking lots. We looked like a circus and someone even asked us at one stop if we were a traveling show!
       Here is our trailer of animals all loaded up and ready to go:
One of the blow-outs on the drive out, somewhere in New Mexico, I think:



Another break-down in TX:

Bunnies in cages:

Cats in cages:

Milking in the CA desert somewhere:

Bear:

Scarlet, one of the Bullmastiffs:

Goats in the trailer:


Bear

Bear is one of the female dogs on our ranch. She is the puppy of Shamrah. Bear was born in CA and as we were loading up to leave, the kids asked their dad if they could take on of the puppies with us. He said, yes but, we had to name her Bear. The other puppies all stayed in CA and were placed into homes.


Here is Bear when she was tiny:

Here is Bear last year in the snow of Oklahoma:

Dehydrating and Oklahoma Auctions

     Another thing that California lacks is Oklahoma-style auctions. We went to a big estate auction this past weekend. There was a major amount of stuff at it and we ended up being there until 6pm or so. We loaded up several trucks, a few cars and a trailer with all of the stuff that we and our friends bought.
    Now, if you have never been to an Oklahoma auction, you are missing out. We brought home a cabinet that was FULL of canning jars (over 200 of them!) for only $2. I bought 2 rolls of 4 foot tall chain link fencing (about 90 feet of it) for only $2. My son bought a dump trailer for the lawn mower that Grandma passed our way for around $30 (normally trailers for these mowers go for about $150). Here is a pic of the trailer being put to use:
     I have also been wanting to get a dehydrator of some kind to make some things with all of the cucumbers that have been coming out of the garden. Well, you guessed it, I found one at the auction and got it for $2 also!
      I am trying it out for the first time tonight. I have the trays full of cucumbers sprinkled with seasoned salt. Some of the slices have the skin on and some don't. I did a few various thicknesses. also just to see what tastes better. Sometime, I am hoping to try a recipe for Dill Cucumber Chips.