The Gardens

This year we have a small collection of gardens. I tend to refer to them as the Upper Garden, which were 2 former pig pens, and the Large Garden. The Large Garden was a section of field I covered with the goat barn’s contents when I cleaned it out last fall. I covered it with plastic over the winter. Definitely much easier than double-digging!

Here’s section 1 of the Upper Garden as of last week (see this post for an early May view):


We’ve been enjoying a lot of kale….

DSCN6810and several plantings of radishes out of here. The boys love to pretend they’re rabbits and raid the garden. They like the kale but radishes are the rabbits’ favorite. Thank goodness they grow so fast.


This section also has broccoli (which I’m in the process of thinning and planting into the Large garden) and peas.

DSCN6849 DSCN6847 The second section of the Upper Gardens has carrots, spinach, bush beans, lettuce, beets, parsley, cucumbers, basil, onions and a few tomatoes. The lettuce, parsley and onions need to be thinned soon. DSCN6796 DSCN6797 DSCN6798 DSCN6799As for the large garden, well, I had to fence and replant it due to the chickens.

DSCN6504The kids and I had a garden party and planted a bunch of starter plants my MIL and a family friend gave us. I’ve seeded a few areas too. In the blue plastic we’ve planted a bunch of pumpkins from my folks.

Singapore’s pen borders the Large garden. She’s good company and her roof is a great hang out spot for little ones.

DSCN6820 DSCN6821 Now we have tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, potatoes, basil, swiss chard, arugula, carrots, bush beans,cauliflower, broccoli, pole beans, melons ( watermelon & ? from the worm compost bin) and a whole mess of pumpkins. A few more things need to go in, like the celery from the cold frame, and of course, the fall plantings.

Everything is growing fast!



The Garden

This post has been a long time coming! So long in fact, that we’ve already had a touch of frost (so long cucumbers).

Sadly, this year’s garden has been awful, perhaps the worst ever. We got a late start but altogether we put in a lot of work (ugh, double digging) and turned what was just another part of the hay-field into a garden plot.

DSCN2418We found a large clump of chives already growing there and a few other signs (markers etc) that lead me to believe some else once had a garden there in the past. A good sign, yes?

DSCN2413I worked the soil, breaking up all those large clumps of roots, and tucked in my seedlings and seeds. We were off to a good start.

DSCN2482Then the rain came. It rained and it rained. My garden was swamped. For weeks most of it stood under several inches of water. Also not helping was the ever so slight downhill slant of our backyard, draining right into the garden. As you can imagine most of the seeds and plants rotted.

A few things made it. Namely the leeks, tomatoes and cucumbers planted on the slight up slope, a couple purple basil, oregano and one lone potato plant.

Since then a lot of weeds (namely hemp nettle and strawberry less strawberry plants) have moved in. Since I’m moving the garden just a tad “up hill” I’m not bothering with weeding this garden. I did plant a second fall garden (focusing on cold tolerant plants) where the pigs use to be. Already cleared; this one was much easier to plant. It’s been doing fairly well.I planted radishes, peas, lettuce, spinach,sprouting broccoli, parsley, and transplanted a few volunteer tomato plants I found near the old barn site.

Our fall garden even has a little shed my helpers immediately made into a garden club house.

DSCN3068Our new blueberry plants also did phenomenally.

DSCN3076Hopefully next year’s garden will do much better- or at least the goat barn got cleaned out.

DSCN2853 DSCN2990mossy_stone

farmgirl friday


The barn has been down for some time now; finally I present the finished results.

But first, here is the Parker Dexter barn before:

barn outside 2And after:


DSCN2473DSCN2481DSCN2474Just a cement slab, the goat barn, and a huge burn pile (of unsalvageable material) is left.

DSCN2484Now the work of residing the house begins. Summer is always a busy time and we have a LOT of projects going on. This recent hiatus has been due to computer troubles, which are hopefully behind us, so farm/ family updates and new posts should be resuming as usual.


Les Chèvres

A window was knocked out in the goat barn. Really it was only a matter of time; goat hooves and glass windows don’t mix well. Coincidently the rest of the windows in the goat barn were already covered over with plywood when we brought the place. Hmmm. Luckily it’s a little too high for anyone to leap out to freedom. Although it was the frequency and number of heads poking out that caught my eye.

I quickly took a few photos, taking advantage of the rare lighting, before fixing the window. If you are wondering why the title says The Goats in French that’s because, even though I don’t actually know French, I like to talk to the goats in a mixture of English and “pretend” French. It just seems fitting. The goats with the horns are our bucks –  or Monsieur Manson and Monsieur Lenin.  The girls are Ellie and Rita (mother of Lenin). Ellie should be kidding this spring.





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Milking the Goat- Without A Stand

I don’t have a milk stand. I had intended to build one as just about every goat handling book has diagrams and directions for building your own. It seemed like if you milk goats you need a stand. I never got around to it partly because of time and partly because our old goat barn was rather dimly lit. I wanted to have a portable stand so I could milk outside when it was nice but I also wanted to be able to move it inside in bad weather. I did find one prefab metal portable goat stand which only weighed 30 lbs but it was something like 400 dollars- definitely wasn’t happening. However, the more I thought about it and considered nomadic goat herders and descriptions in books like Heidi the more I thought “well it can surely be done”. And so, this is how I do it:

First, I usually give a little grain to occupy Ms. Ellie then I straddle the goat facing backwards.My view is something like this:

Occasionally I kneel beside her but that changes the angle of my hand (making milking less efficient) and then I don’t have my knees to keep her from wondering off. Then I reach under (or sometimes around) and brush her off making sure any hay or loose hairs won’t fall into the milk. After a clearing squirt or two I get down to business and milk. I use a quart size mason jar to milk into. I prefer a wide mouth jar because I can clean it easier- although a regular mouth jar is a little easier to hold. I hold the jar under with one hand and squirt the milk into it with the other. Because I needed one hand to take photos with the camera I have to break it down into two shots.

Holding the jar:


For this shot I placed the jar on the ground but I’d rather hold it because there’s less aiming and it prevents her from knocking it over and spilling it.

There’s more than one way to grasp the teat and milk. Goat teats are rather small and can be difficult to grasp. I prefer the way in the photo above although sometimes I alternate. When I first started milking I had to alternate methods because of hand fatigue. Now I don’t need to and milking probably takes me half the time. To be honest tho I don’t really know how long it takes me I’d guess 10-15 minutes.  I also only milk once a day in the morning. This is Ms. Ellie’s first time being milked and she gives a little over a quart. If I milked her twice a day she’d give a half gallon a day which is about average.

Fresh raw goats milk.

I use the same position for trimming the back hooves and I face the other way to trim the front hooves. For scur trimming I have struggling_along hold Manson’s head while I trim. While I can see how a goat stand would be useful I certainly don’t think it’s a necessity.


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