Monday, May 16, 2011

  I would like to say first of all that I am clearly not going to be updating this blog as much as I would like to be able to.  Ideally, I would sit down on a daily basis and tell you what we have done and what it is that we are learning.  So much happens here in one day.  So much is planned to do and much of the time the list and the projects remains incomplete as the sun goes down.  This means, which has been quite a great lesson for me, is that I am going to cut myself some slack and remain realistic about how much can be accomplished in a 24 hour period.  With that said, I am so excited to tell you all of the amazing things that have happened here at Tornrose Farm this past month.  

So the pig situation didn't end up happening due to feeling overloaded by what was before us; the summer garden, the chickens, eggs, harvesting etc.  A few days after we were gifted two Nubian goats.  These two Nubians are fantastic goats.  One is white and the other is brownish.  They are named "Half and Half."  Every day we get between 1/2 to 3/4 gallon of milk from them which we have been making into cheese.  It has been wonderful learning this entire process of caring for a goat and learning to make products.  We have made ricotta, feta and mozzarella.  It seems like soon we are going to experiment with harder cheeses which require more detailed temperatures and the aging process.  I can't wait!  For now, both Half and Half are wonderful teachers and excellent comedians.  They make the most bizarre sounds, sounds that don't really sound like they could leave the mouth of any creature and they are extremely docile, patient (most of the time if there is food before them) and giving.
 The chickens are continuing to grow and of course consume mass quantities of food.  They have not yet begun to lay eggs, but we foresee that in the next month we shall be surprised.  We have been really lucky to get compost from a local restaurant called Poco in Bisbee twice a week.  That has really helped financially and nutritiously.  They are a vegan restaurant, so the scraps are all vegetable matter.  The chickens actually get fed fresh vegetables and fruits at least once a day and have begun to watch us as we come close, with great expectations.  This week we are beginning to work on chicken tractors which will house approximately 25 chickens per tractor.  This will help with the grazing and pasture management, fertilization and our overall food costs as well, as they will be eating the weeds and grasses that will be contained within the tractor.  I will post pictures as soon as the first in complete.  In the meantime, we have been quite privy to hear adolescent "cock a doodle doodling" and see chicken flirting, if you would call it that.

Timothy and I have this great opportunity to take classes with a fabulous cowboy with amazing horse knowledge.  So far he has taught us how to saddle the horse, and other necessities.  So far he has taught us how to saddle the horse, but not how to get on.  So, it came to quite another huge learning experience and curve as I had my first "real" horseback riding helping gather cattle up in the Mule Mountains this past month.  I had ridden before, but never with such talented riders, guidance and with a task at hand.  We brought down quite a few cattle, branded, vaccinated, ear marked and castrated the calves and let them all go into a pasture lower on the mountain where they have more access to water.  I hope this wasn't my final lesson. But certainly a huge lesson taught to me by the horse, herself is that a relationship between rider and horse is mandatory.  It is amazing the communication that happens between the two; both ways.  In one day, and in the beginning of my horse comprehension I often felt like I had made this huge commitment to this creature that I couldn't always and didn't know how to communicate with.  I would like the opportunity to spend more time with horses and perhaps this will help me understand them more.  

Timothy caught a Gopher Snake the other day, which helps us with the Gopher problem here a bit; we hope at least.  We happened to find him out in the southwest part of the internal zone.  He was a great surprise and a beautiful present.  Gopher snakes are not venomous and do not bite.  They eat rodents.  We relocated him to the garden area which we are hoping the snake eats a few of these animals that are making underground highways and snatching our growing food.

And then of course the garden.  It is amazing how the perspective changes when experience happens.  We had thought that the garden would be the least of all of the energy 1/3 for the community.  Philosophically that sounds really nice.  But how will the birds know when their 1/3 is up?  So, we have tried this shiny tape attached to fish line across the rows which just seems to entertain the birds.  They could care less if the piece of plastic is making noise and is shiny.  The question is:  is there food under there?  We have made small cages for each plant.  If you look at the picture to the left, you will see that there is actually a bird in the non bird bird cage.  We have tried the cds, which fly away as the wind blows.  We have a really unscary scare crow which seems to frighten Timothy and me more when we round the corner and see someone standing in the garden with a shovel-who is that and why are they in the garden?  And we have tried feeding them in other spots around our house.  That works just fine, but they seem to come back to the garden for dessert.  All of this has been a fantastic lesson.  We still desire, however to grow our food and to learn from the process there of.  And then one day, Timothy went out and flipped over a small rock in the garden and found a sunflower growing underneath it.  This flower clearly had the power to live, which sprang ideas.  Why not cover all of our seeds with rocks of sorts, (we are using broken terra cotta planters pieces) and wait for the germination to occur, lift off the covering and spray them with a horrible smelling spray that the birds do not like. So far so good!  Seriously.  We found a spray called "Repels All," by Bonide which is organic but smells just horribly.  It repels, literally all.  It has mass quantities of garlic which the birds specifically do not like and they do not bother the seedlings.  Our okra, sunflowers, corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, etc. are now all growing and the birds, of course are still in the garden, but not nearly as much as before.  Ode to the garden.  Seriously. 
We are now tackling chicken tractors, cheese, goat feet and guinea fowl.  We can't wait to report on our findings.  Until next time.


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