It has been quite a long time since I have updated the blog and I sincerely apologize. Besides the sheep, lambing season, the garden, farmer's market, the chickens, the wind, dogs, harvesting, irrigation, company etc. we have been sitting around twitting our fingers. In all fairness, I have been trying to figure out how to in the best way possible update the Pachamama Permaculture blog without being too wordy and confusing. In this post you will see a lot of photographs and maybe less words. Please do let us know if you want any further description about any of the events. Starting today, I am going to update much more often to share our experience with you. Please note that I am going to start from right now and move backwards to the last post. Enjoy!!!
We harvested our winter garden two weeks ago. How satisfying was that? Super satisfying. We planted onions, dill, cilantro, peas, marigolds, a variety of mustard greens, mixed green salad lettuce, red lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, nasturtiums, beans etc. in the end of February. We had pie eyes as we planted our seeds feeling that they would all grow and flourish and we would have no problems. soaker hoses in all nine of our Zuni bed rows began the "Soaker Hose Incident of 2011." What we learned is this: soaker hoses suck. They are the bain of our gardening existence here in the arid and very silty southwest. The soil here is extremely sandy and silty which caused daily reperations (the silt traveled down the hoses and made holes along the sides causing tears en route) of the soaker hoses, much to the dismay of the birds who used the hose holes to take a bird bath in different locations daily. I could literally also see where the hoses were soaking and where they were not due to the plant growth or lack there of. Timothy changed out the soaker hoses and created a drip irrigation system which now works like a magical charm. We have to clean out the silt a few times a week, but that is it. What a learning curve that was. And then there was the cover cloth that we put over the beds. We used the cloth for protection against the wind (A+), the birds (A+), insects (A+) and the cold (F). These cover cloths on a whole kept the plants safe from the wind, birds and insects however, due to the nature of the universe which we are not in control of nor can we change, the cloths kept the cold air that had sunk into the beds and stunted the growth of the plants. The environment that was created was conducive to growing Bermuda grass but not our winter crops. When it was realized what was going on we lifted the cloths, changed the hoses and saw before our eyes all of the crops flourish and grow. I spent the week (yes, a full week) weeding and watering and they...grew. We found the proper equation for them to be happy. Without the shade cloth the birds did eat on some of the crops, but we put up cds which scared them off. It worked really well. Last week we harvested all of the salad greens and mustard greens and sold them ALL at the Farmer's Market in Sierra Vista. It was amazing and empowering telling people that they were harvested the night prior and answer any questions they had about our produce. We were also published as local food growers in the Sierra Vista Co-op grand opening newsletter. Huge honor for us to be recognized for the efforts we have been putting forth. Check out the newsletter at this link and go to the grand opening issue at the bottom. Flip through and you will see us on page 3 along with Dennis! http://www.sierravistamarket.com/scoop.php We of course did not harvest all that we had planted, due to the cold most of the vegetables did not get a chance to grow. We have learned so much in such a short period of time. We did dry kale and dill which will be used during the upcoming canning season.
We are now working on the summer garden which will consist of: the three sisters (a variety of corn, beans, and squash), melons, dill, basil, parsely, oregano, chives, cucumbers, sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, eggplant, okra, peppers, and tomatoes. As of now we have the cucumbers in, which have already sent up a small shoot, and dill, Hopi and bi-color corn and sunflowers. With all that we have learned from the winter garden, this summer garden is going to provide us with so much to harvest. I will surely keep you posted.
The lambing season began back in January and continues to happen. To date there are 51 lambs, 41 ewes and 2 rams. This last Friday we got the chance to help shear, vaccinate, ear tag, skirt the wool and band the tails and the testicles of the sheep. This was an all day event that involved loading up the sheep at the farm and taking them on a 6 mile annual journey to the ranch. There a cast of nine adults and two children spent10 hours performing all of the necessary tasks. Then all of the cleanly shaven sheep took a return trip home.
And now, my friends, we will comment on the chickens. Yes, we still have 88 of them. Yes they are growing by leaps and bounds and yes they eat like we are starving them. A short story and explanation. Chickens should be eating 4% of their body weight per day. Therefore, a two pound chicken should be eating 1.28 ounces per day. Unless you have our chickens. We bought them a self feeder a few weeks back and put in the 40 pound bag thinking that it would last the six days that we calculated for the food requirement of this number of chickens. In one and a half days the food was gone. They had consumed all 40 pounds and wanted more to munch on. Needless to say, chickens are not self-regulating in their diets. And remember a two pound chicken last week is now a three pound chicken this week. Do the math again! They are back on track and growing at a more reasonable rate.
The transition from the winter to the spring has been quite blustery and at times quite frustrating. At one point, Timothy stated that wind offers nothing. It doesn't offer the precipitation that we desire, it does not help with the plants, it does not feed the animals. It simply dries out the land, our skin, carries away the top soil. Many a day we have given up, due to the wind and surrendered inside against our will. The wind here is fierce and uninviting. No one likes it. Not even the fat chickens; they hide inside the coop all day waiting for it to pass. We wonder when the wind will blow itself away.