Well, summer’s coming to a close and now it’s time for fall preparation on the farm!
Because it’s so blasted hot here in the summer, we don’t get to spend a lot of time outside. As a result, we have a lot of cleanup and preparations needed in order to get ready for all the fall adventures headed our way.
As you can see, our garden is *just* starting to peek up. We’ve got corn, carrots, cucumbers, canteloupe & pumpkins planted, and in just a few weeks I’m going to go crazy with the leafy greens. My absolute favorite green to grow here in Arizona is spinach. It’s so easy to grow and tastes loads better than store bought spinach. I also planted a few herbs, but don’t get your hopes up because I somehow manage to kill all my herbs. Dang it, I’m going to keep trying until I get this herb growin’ down. Never give up, never surrender!
First order of repair is our block wall. During August we have wicked monsoon storms and a metal covering from a neighbors awning came tumbling over to our side. Such is the life with haboobs.
We have a few new additions on the farm — starting with 30 Freedom Ranger chicks for this year’s chicken harvest. Our 9 chickens from the spring are all eaten up, so we’re hoping that these guys will help keep our freezer stocked for a while. If they could last until next fall, that would be perfect-o! It’s so crazy easy to raise baby chicks in the fall. It’s warm enough that they can go straight outside without a heat lamp, and then when it comes time to butcher them 3 months later, it’s cool enough to make it pleasant outside on butchering day!
We raise our meat chicks in what’s called a “chicken tractor”. Instead of raising meat chicks in an enclosed area that can get nasty fast, we made a contraption that we move everyday to give them a new patch of grass. This way they get to be on fresh land each day, they eat the grass and bugs (which lowers our feed costs), and they fertilize the ground. It’s a win-win-win. Well, except for the person who has to move it everyday. That thing is a beast! This one will hold about 10 full-grown chickens.
Awwww, isn’t he cute?
The meat chickens will be moved across this entire pasture for the next 3 months.
Our next newest member of the farm is Brian, the rooster. Brian came to us by way of strategic planning & capture, which just means we found him on the side of the road and we all cornered him and captured him together as a family on one wild n’ crazy Friday night. None of the neighbors said he was theirs, so we decided it was time to bring a rooster on the farm. We’ve avoided roosters over the years because we like our sleep, but our Lydia is obsessed with animals and she couldn’t bear to see him on the side of the road without food or water. (We actually caught 2 roosters, but we’re planning on eating the younger one since we really need some chicken. Farm life.)
Lydia’s geese, Frodo & Gollum, are full-grown now and just starting to guard the property. We got these geese purely to protect from aerial predators such as hawks and owls. They can be pretty fierce when they hiss and spread their wings, but they are kind to us. The pros of having geese is that they can be good protectors or sound alarms, and they also eat only grass. JUST GRASS! (and a few bugs)
As babies, they imprinted on Lydia and would follow her all around the yard. They especially love the irrigation water every 2 weeks. We originally bought 3 geese, but one died 🙁
And finally, our little farm wouldn’t be complete without ze’ goats! Lacey, our only Nigerian Dwarf, is due to have babies on November 30th. We couldn’t be more excited! We’re planning on keeping a doeling from her this year, or at least I am. (Haven’t told the husband yet – surprise honey!).
Tivia & Luna still carry the “prettiest on the farm” award. I’ve found that I really like the Nubian breed, from their calm & sweet demeanor to their high milk production. One drawback is it seems both of my Nubians have more trouble with worms than my Nigerians ever did. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or a something common in Nubians. I’m going to set up a protocol for deworming my goats this year. I’ve done some research and there’s some great studies published where essential oils removed harmful bacteria & worms, without damaging intestinal cells. I can’t wait to share my research with you guys!
We’re watching Tivia & Luna closely so we can breed them hopefully in September or October for Spring babies!
This little guy, a boer goat, is our lone male goat. We are planning on raising him for meat and butchering him come spring. We still haven’t named him, and not because we plan eating him and we can’t emotionally handle naming him, it’s just because we haven’t decided on a na — hold that, Lydia just informed me his first name is Chubby and his last name is Fatty. So there you have it.
Chubby Fatty’s job is to graze on our bermuda grass until he’s more chubby fattier. Goats aren’t typically grazers, but they’ll eat it if they have to. We also give him supplements of other weeds/leaves/produce scraps to round out his diet a bit.
Tivia, the sweet goat that she is, gives Chubby Fatty a lift so he can snag some citrus leaves. What a gal, that Tivia.
And finally, I should probably give a shout out to our amazing chickens – all 15 or so of them – as they have been stellar at producing eggs all the hot summer long! Their egg yolks are so rich and deep orange in color, that’s some nutrient-density right there! It’s so nice to have a good, strong-producing flock of chickens, and hopefully they’ll do well. They are adjusting to having Mr. Brian the Rooster in charge, and Lydia’s just wishin’ upon a star that one of our hens becomes broody so we can have some baby chicks.
Finally, our big project this year is to turn our front yard into an orchard! We plan on planting fig, lemon and orange trees in October, and then planting peach, apple, & cherry trees in January.
That’s the plan at least!
And finally, I can’t write a post about farming without giving a shout out to my awesome kids who feed & water all our animals as well as milk our goats twice a day! I seriously have the best kids! No complaining, even during this hot n’ sweaty summer! I love backyard (& front yard) farming! Each season is an adventure and planning our next one is half the fun!