Homestead Happenings

Never a dull moment on the wee homestead. Since our last update we’ve got limping dogs, goat rodeo, weather whiplash, a huge harvest of sweet potatoes, new cheeses and old ferments.

If it’s the cooler temps or longer nights or more critters creeping around, we can’t say, but our dogs have been doing a lot of midnight galavanting. First they got into skunks, and that was bad enough. Now we go out first thing in the morning to find them wet and limping and exhausted. We’ve started taking them for walks during the day trying to tire them out and make sure they get enough gentle exercise, because we’re worried they’re going to get themselves into some real trouble. It’s working out very well for our barn cat, Skittles, who now roams wherever she wants without fear of attack.

Milking just three goats twice a day is proving to be quite the chore considering with the two first-fresheners it’s a constant battle of wills. It seems every day they learn a new trick trying to get free treats. First it was bucking and kicking, then squatting making milking impossible, now one has graduated to full refusal, getting up on the milk stand only to lay down flat. It takes both of us, Hubby to hold legs and supply food, me to grasp the bucket with one hand and milk with one hand, each with our reflexes on full alert to shift, draw, grab in the split second it takes a hoof to swipe, spill, crush. It’s really not fun. At all. I have to remind us both that it takes patience and to stay focused on the rewards.

Cheese!

In garden news we got a very early frost and then the temps shot right back up to the high 80s. It’s cooled down a bit since then again and we got a whole 1/2 inch of rain, woohoo! It hardly made a difference, but maybe my fall seeds have a better chance now of germinating.

We harvested loads of sweet potatoes and still have more to go. The vines can’t handle even a light frost, like the basil, so we got all we could manage beforehand though the tomatoes and peppers survived, so that was a pleasant surprise.

I continue to experiment with fermenting all kinds of veggies and they are coming out so delicious. I moved them from the aging fridge to make room for the cheeses, but they kept great in there all summer. We’ve got all kinds of goodies—cucumbers, basil, peppers, okra, carrots, cabbage—and soon I’ll be tying sweet potatoes.

A whole world of deliciousness I’ve only really embarked on seriously starting this year, and thanks to this excellent book.

P.S. Sorry for all the sideways photos and if you get a crink in your neck trying to view them you can thank WordPress for that. I spent an hour trying to correct them, and it’s not working. My WordPress experience is getting worse and worse, which is why the days of this blog will be over soon as it’s just become too annoying to continue it. It’s gone steadily downhill since they forced the Block Editor on everyone. They continually make changes that only make it harder and more time-consuming to post. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by!

Homestead Happy Snaps

As hot and dry as it still is, we’re still managing to get-r-done. Much has died in the garden, but the weeds and grasses still thrive with irrigation. We used to complain how well we grew grass and weeds, and little else, but we have a different attitude now. It all serves to feed the critters, who in turn feed us, which is a pretty good deal.

The honeybees love the purslane, and we love the honey.

The goats love the morning glory, and we love the goat cheese.

The bumblebees love the luffa flowers, and the pigs love the luffa fruit, and we love the bacon. How fortunate for us this cycle of life!

The volunteer cucumber has shown me we can indeed get fruit in 100 degrees, it just has to be from a fresh plant.

Fence clearing duty, thank you! And who doesn’t love pink zinnias?

Peek-a-boo!

I think we can tell who will be the next herd queen—Bluebonnet, daughter of the current herd queen—go figure.

A fantastic shot from a friend in the northeast US, so amazing, I just had to include it!

Wow! Almost makes me want the new IPhone.

And last but not least, Bubba and Buttercup in their favorite places, which is always, as close to Hubby as possible. 🙂


Thanks for stopping by!

Homestead Happenings

Just posting some happy snaps to distract our attention away from all that’s dying in the garden. And the fact that the hens have mostly stopped laying, our oldest goat is looking dangerously thin, the grass has turned crispy, and there’s no end in sight.

Bubba trying to keep cool

Still, the kids are growing like weeds.

Walnut’s nearly as big as her mama already (back left) and even little Athena (front) is catching up to the rest of the kids.
Morning glory, another goat favorite

The birds and the bees are still doing their thing while we can’t manage to stay outside past 11 am.

Unfortunately, so are the ants. The leaf-cutters are slowly destroying our young fruit trees. Only the more mature pear is escaping their attack.

Almost ready, fingers crossed!

Plants are simply amazing. The purslane and arugula are growing fine and make a great pesto. The sweet potato vines are a goat favorite, the okra’s just coming in, the peppers and watermelons are still hanging in there.

The zucchini hasn’t given up either, and somehow we still have broccoli that’s not bitter.

Just as the old cucumbers got bitter, the new volunteer is producing like crazy. Not too shabby! 😁

Homestead Happenings

We have some happy snaps, one minute of piglets’ bliss and a couple garden successes to share today.

Mamas and piglets are venturing out already and enjoyed their first spa day. Unfortunately, Mama Chop did still squish two of her wee ones despite Hubby’s extra efforts, so both Mamas are now with seven. Virginia has proven to be the better mother, but we prefer Mama Chop’s personality. But, it’s not about us. Sadly this will probably be Mama Chop’s last hurrah.

Mama Chop with her Lucky 7
Our semi-feral cat, Skittles, is becoming more domesticated now that there are only two dogs who chase her off. That is, if you call hissing and snarling for her supper domesticated! 😳

Moving on to the garden I’m pleased to report good news. The alliums are looking amazing, the best ever at this time of year., I expect that is due to our very mild winter and an extra helping of sheep poop. I love this time of year when chopped green onion can top every savory dish. Also, unlimited lettuces, for a limited time only. Once the heat sets in there are only a few varieties that survive, arugula and oak leaf primarily, and even those still have a tendency to get too hot or bitter and bolt quickly.

Here we’ve got garlic, elephant and a few varieties of hard neck, plus white, red and yellow storage onions, shallots, and a pearl onion perennial that I highly recommend for hot climates (Bianca di Maggio). I’ve tried every type of popular perennial onion and this is the first time I’ve gotten them to last, relatively carefree, for two full years. Normally they do not last the summer. That could also be because these I grew from seed instead of getting sets.

Seed saving and propagation are big on my garden plans lately, not only because of the high costs we’re seeing. Some seeds naturalize very quickly to their environment and I’m regularly impressed at all the volunteers that have found their way into the garden over the years—including tomatoes, wild carrot, datura, tomatillos, jumping jacks, Malabar spinach and collards/kale. In some cases I’m planting these purchased seeds and they don’t do that great the first year, but the volunteers that come back thrive with no care and even competing with some of our very pernicious grasses. Nature is so amazing!

Tis the season for pokeweed, a new and reliable favorite—that poor maligned and misunderstood plant I wrote about last year. We ate the greens all summer, the berries all fall and winter . … and we’re still alive . … go figure! So much mis-and dis-information out there on this delicious, nutritious and versatile, once upon a time Southern staple, that ‘science’ has tried to steal from us.

Two more such successes are strawberries and chayote squash. These are definite testaments to the old adage: “If you don’t succeed, try, and try, again!”

Why, oh why do you let weeds grow in your garden!? Oh let me count the ways . … the bees, the seeds, and, seriously how much time do you think I have?! Actually though, there’s a very good short answer for that—when you allow the deeply-rooted ’weeds’ to work among your short-rooted annual crops you have a magnificent force of nature at your fingertipes—those long tap-roots bring nutrients up from the depths in order to feed your fancy annual crops their otherwise lacking essential minerals.

The chayote squash, pictured left, I’ve tried to get established a minimum of five times. Even this time, the one I expected to live has died and the one I expected to die has come back with impressive gusto. This is why the plants I really want to work I place in different spots of the garden, just to see, as extra insurance, even though this is often inconvenient and seemingly counter-intuitive.

Same thing with the strawberries. Texas gardeners don’t have an easy time with strawberries or blueberries, they both prefer cooler climates. Most gardeners here who are serious about strawberries either buy new plugs each fall for the spring crop or dig up their crop and store them in the fridge all summer until the fall planting. This is too much work and/or expense for us here, yet I’d love to have at least a small, but reliable, crop of strawberries. This time did the trick so far, but only time will tell. At least I’ve got them not only surviving the summer, but also spreading. I used a couple of folk tricks I heard over the decades. One is from Finland—put them with the asparagus, I was told. But alone that did not do the trick. So, I tried them where the asparagus had been, but also where the Indian strawberries had been growing wild. Success! So far . …

Homestead Happenings

Huge days on the wee homestead! The pigs and sheep have all had successful births without a single hitch. Mama Chop did lose a couple, but she has such large litters that’s not such a bad thing. We were very concerned about her as she crushed her last two litters, literally, not in the new way of the term—She crushed it! Nope, in the old way, as in she smooshed them all.

Hubby was able to prevent that sad ending this time by clearing out her corral space of every last twig. She was in the habit of building huge nests, full of branches and twigs and so steep the piglets would roll right off it, falling between branches and getting pinned whenever she moved around. We were worried with another total loss we’d have to get rid of her because we like her so much, she’s so gentle and good-natured. She loves company and will even go on walks with us. It is truly amazing how graceful these huge creatures are around those tiny, squirmy little things!

I did not mean to hit ’slo-mo’ during this video, oops! Need to work on my skills.

Virginia had a similar setup to Momma Chop, but she wanted nothing of it. She went off into the woods to build her own nest, her way. Luckily she doesn’t have such a penchant for branches and twigs. She’s got more of the wild side in her attitude as well as her nesting preferences. And she certainly does not appreciate prying eyes and will come after anyone who gets too close to her brood!

Peek-a-boo! Yes that is Hubby running away from one irritated mama!

Watching the little lambs play, and sleep, is so cute. But I expect when the kids come next month we’ll really be in for a comic treat! It will be our first experience with goat births and I hope it goes as smoothly as the sheep did this time.

Getting friskier by the day!

We have a new visitor to the garden which surprised us.

It’s been there every day now for about a week and I’ve never seen one like it around here before. It flies just like a hummingbird and had us quite confused. It was darting all around so fast and so far that it took me about 10 minutes and 30 attempts to get one decent shot of it. After some searching we learned it is some kind of hawk moth. Fastest moth in the west? Sometimes I undervalue the usefulness of the Internet, I might’ve been left baffled on that simple identification for a lifetime!

Not to mention the joy of sharing these simple pleasures with y’all!

Joy & Pain II

Ô Muse ! spectre insatiable,
Ne m’en demande pas si long.
L’homme n’écrit rien sur le sable
À l’heure où passe l’aquilon.
J’ai vu le temps où ma jeunesse
Sur mes lèvres était sans cesse
Prête à chanter comme un oiseau ;
Mais j’ai souffert un dur martyre,
Et le moins que j’en pourrais dire,
Si je l’essayais sur ma lyre,
La briserait comme un roseau.
‘La Nuit de Mai’

Alfred de Musset
La nuit de mai, poème d’Alfred de Musset – poetica.fr

O voice from the abysmal deeps,
Lay not on me this last command!
Man leaves no writing on the sand
When at its hour the north-wind sweeps.
There was a time when love, in sooth,
Rose ceaseless on my lips, and youth
Was ready, like a bird, to sing;
But I have suffered, as through fire,
And should my silent griefs desire
To speak their anguish on my lyre
Their lightest breath would break the string.

The Night in May | RPO

She even learned which piglets she was allowed to kill (the wild ones) and which belonged ’to Daddy’ 🙂

It’s been a couple of weeks already but I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it. Just a couple weeks before Papi died and that was sad enough, but to lose them both, and so close together, has been sad beyond words.

Of course all creatures are special, but she was our miracle. She was a Mastiff/Dane mix, already an odd combination. Her mother died just a couple days after delivery and her owners worked very quickly to find homes for all the pups, thirteen of them.

She was just a few pounds when we got her. We had no idea about bottle-feeding or ’manual pooping’ but we learned quickly! She belonged here in every way, she foraged and hunted and blended in with the surroundings so perfectly. She was trained as my protector, but she became one of my greatest joys in life.

It will be a very long time before we don’t tear-up every time we think of her, maybe forever.

Joy & Pain

Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine.
Et nos amours, faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne?
La joie venait toujours après la peine.

Under the Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine
And our loves, must I remember them?
The joy forever coming after pain’s den.

Excerpt from Le Pont Mirabeau by Guillaume Apollinaire, and my rather liberal translation 🙂

Fourteen years ago I impulse-purchased a black lab puppy from a stranger at a bar in Galveston, Texas. A few months later we were forced to evacuate before Hurricane Ike made landfall. Papi the puppy, and I, road tripped up to Arkansas, on through the Bluegrass Mountains, to my cousin’s lake cottage in Massachusetts for several weeks before renting a cottage on Cape Cod for several months. It was quite the adventure for us both.

Little did I know many more ‘adventures’ would follow. They include, but are not limited to: 5 emergency trips to the vet for: suspected rat poisoning, several snake bites, at least one stroke, severe constipation of unknown origin.

Additional drama created from: swallowing a fishing line, a wasp attack, snorting fire ants, 2 ear hematoma, (suspected) tripping on hallucinogens, fight with pit bull, jumping out of moving car, several spring disappearances including the last one where I discovered him half a mile away after several days tramping around with a pack of feral dogs—he was suffering from multiple head injuries, limping very badly and hardly recognized me.

Aahh, such is love. Of the trauma-bond variety especially.

Over the last couple of years he’d gone blind and deaf, had warts and tumors all over his body, but still had a voracious appetite and remained as vocal as ever, whether directed at the mail lady, strangers, or walks and mealtimes not occurring promptly enough for his preference.

He was, by far, the most demanding dog we’ve had—our ‘problem child’ we always joked—but we blubbered like babies when he passed a few days ago.

We will miss him dearly. He was a pill, no doubt, but he was our pill and our first pup, and for every ounce of pain he brought, they were balanced by joy.

Dancing together was one of those big joys. Dancing was a way to keep my spirits up on all those lonely weeks Hubby was working. Papi got pretty good at it. Of course it was always an issue who would lead.

This was one of our favorites. Tu vuo fa l’Americano

A life fully lived is one of joy and pain dancing through each season again and again.

Rest In Peace, dear Papi, thank you for sharing your life dance with us.

Funny Friday

Hoping to inspire a chuckle, or two. 🙂

“What a show! But alas, only a show!” Dr. Faustus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1808)

And last, but not least, Hubby in his old man droopy drawers (sorry Lovey, couldn’t resist!) and Bubba, who sees a place to plop wherever he goes.

Not a dog house, but he hops right in anyway!

Hope y’all can channel your inner Bubba this weekend! 🙂

Fascinate, Me?

I doubt it.
But do try, if you please.

For I hold that which is more fascinating than all the revelations on the Worldwide Web.

For I know what’s more delectable than the greatest feast any queen was ever fed.

Home-raised and home-made by just little ol’ us:
2 cheeses, pig liver pate, sourdough rye, olive oil pickles, radishes and green onions,
persimmon kombucha.

For I have felt the pleasure of the task done only for her most dear.

For I have touched the archaic wisdom without fear.


For I have sensed the eternal crafted long before His key.


For fascination is my daily bread living this great mystery.

How ya gonna keep them wrapped in illusion once they’ve touched reality?

Co-Creating Abundance

No politics or unpleasant ponderings this post, I promise!

Just some homesteady happy snaps and a well wishing for a wonderful weekend. 🙂

A sea of sweet potatoes soon to be harvested.

Mexican tarragon—an attractive replacement for French tarragon that does much better in the South.

Drum roll, please, for this next rare shot . . .
A Skittles sighting!

Our barn cat, Skittles, who we see about once a week and lives mostly in the trees.

Mystifying mushrooms! These are quite common, honies (armillaria tabescens) claimed to be good by a good many foragers, but we haven’t tried them yet, because my mushrooming buddy and her husband got wretchedly ill on them once.
Oops, I promised no unpleasantries. 😉

Buttercup paying homage to the pack leader, Tori, she does this multiple times a day.

I suppose these next snaps might be unpleasant to some, sorry! I do get that, I felt that at first too, but I was gradually desensitized as I realized how much economic sense it makes, what an amazing skill it is, and especially how magically delicious it is.

Always an attentive audience at slaughter time.

Our favorite foraging expert who we forayed with nearby this past spring has a great new website all about medicinals. Here’s a short podcast about it, and reminding me that now is the time I should be collecting some goldenrod before winter! Medicine Man Plant Co

Healing properties of medicinal plants

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