Thursday, October 31, 2013


 In between the rain storms (3+" in the last few days), I stopped to admire my view during my circuit of chicken chores...

The garlic bulbs have poked little green stems through the soil.  I had almost forgotten this were here.  It's nice to know I didn't kill them.

 The garden is a weedy, flat place after most of the trellises have been removed.  I have one row left of tomato vines to pile up, and two rows of fence.  Then, fire will take what it will.

 The asparagus is beginning to die back.  I may harvest a few seeds this fall to attempt asparagus seedling next year.  I may.  I may not.
 Hoses have been pulled up.  Most are coiled neatly for next year, but a few, pulled out in the middle of harvesting, still need some care and attention.  Once they dry (ah, I love the rain!), I will store them for next year.  I didn't realize how many hoses we had accumulated.  I suppose that happens when the movers put them in three different places last summer when we moved, and we bought more after most of the hoses were laid out.
 Our guineas and exiled (freed?) chickens are enjoying an afternoon meal outside the Love Shack.
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Some part of me wishes I could craft a wistful blogpost about the changing of seasons, but I find that most of all, I am exhausted in the fall.
 With the changing of the leaves comes harvest after harvest, each demanding its own type of attention. Corn cobs and sunflower heads still hold their bounty, and when the more perishable food is put up, these will be addressed.   Three afternoons of sweet potato digging have yielding a happy harvest, although thinner than I expected.  This afternoon, I will be stripping sorghum heads.  This is new to me, so I anticipate plenty of problems and slow going.
 Most of the neighboring farms have harvested their sorghum as well (albeit on a much larger scale than my own), although I think a few were caught in the rain and have to wait for the fields to dry.
 After the frost of last week, the garden is done.  I have been tearing out tomato refuse and piling it for burning.  All but two rows of fencing are down.  Cooler weather makes this task easier, but I also find the mornings are already too chill for the boys to accompany me, which makes outdoor tasks hard to accomplish.

When the sun rises and sets with less and less daylight, my body responds by reminding me how little sleep I got in the summer.  Summer was a time of up at dawn and to bed after the sun.  Necessary, but the body can only take it for so long.  Now I still have plenty to do, but am feeling slower and slower.

Not only are there plenty of harvest chores to attend to, but with the arrival of frost comes cold weather considerations: how will we over-winter our chickens, what can be left outside to the elements, dealing with dead trees, preparing ourselves with plenty of firewood.  The list goes on.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Rain, Sleet, and Snow

... with the first frost due in by morning.

I spent this morning filling gaps in the white whale (our white/PVC chicken tractor).  We'll see how the chickens come through this light freeze!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall is Here

I've cooked down the last of the tomatoes worth eating.  From here on out, until I finish tearing out the last two rows of tomatoes, anything left on the vines can go to the chickens.

Oh, to have nothing to do but snap random pictures while someone else does my work.  Instead, Bear Cub Q took a few for me, including this of of the dog.
 We've finally... finally... finally... begun gathering eggs from our Turkens.  I must say, the sight of those two little eggs in the nesting boxes was enough to make me whoop for joy.  If you know me, you know not much makes me whoop!
The eggs made for a particularly rich rice pudding, as evidenced by the fact that two little girls ate an entire batch, leaving only the rice stuck to the sides for DH and I to eat when we came in from chores!
 These are luffa sponges.  When harvested young, they can be eaten, but I'm hoping they survive a week or two more before a frost and mature enough to form the spongy interior.  The one below should almost definitely be successful, but after harvesting one too early, I am loathe to cut anything off!
 Finally, here is the {mostly} tidied asparagus bed.  I won't be pulling out these fronds until they die back.  The new plants are not nearly so sprawling, but look rather pathetic in their smallness, so I skipped taking a picture.
Onions in storage are beginning to sprout, so I guess it's time for another round of onion-chopping!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

YJ Acres Updates

Fowl pox is clearing up nicely.  There have been no deaths.  Some chickens have thus far been unaffected, so I understand we have a reoccurrence/continuance of the unpleasantness.  Appetites seem good, as does general health.

This poor hen has had two neck injuries from fights.  They heal up, but it does leave her with a strange neck.

 Andromeda and the chickens aren't sure what to do with one another.
The guinea flock has remained stable since the fox attacks.  The babies have grown so much that, at first glance, they are indistinguishable from the adults.  Their faces don't yet have the "painted" look, but I can see it developing.

Behind them, the orchard is doing well.
 I am slowly redeeming the strawberry patch.  There is a distinct emphasis on the word "slowly."
 We're having the obligatory fall "odd" weather.  The wind, clouds, and animals all indicate that mischief may be afoot!
I'll leave you with our happy Hope!  She loves to bark at school buses, coyotes, foxes, and neighborhood dogs.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, October 4, 2013

More Bird Woes

Oh, chickens, must we be so challenging?

Meet Stew.  I named her Stew as she was, under initial observation, a pest.  She has been the runt of every chicken flock we introduced her to, so much so that she was constantly bloody and half the size of the other chickens.  She came to us in bad condition, and we had not succeeded in making her life more pleasant.  Out of a desire to give her a decent life (and since she doesn't lay eggs, probably due to malnourishment), we decided to throw her in with the guinea fowl and allow her to free range.
Oh, the peace.  She can be a bit aggressive with our guinea "teens," but not a single guinea attacks her.  She's eating pounds of food, enjoying exploring, and her condition is improving.

We recently added a chicken friend to the guinea run.  This is Darkest Winter (long story).  She broke her leg during a coop move thanks to our aggressive chickens (we're a work in progress here, people).  In order to protect her from attacks, we moved her into the run attached to the guinea coop.  Since it was unused except for when we had to be absent from home, she could rest quietly, access food and water, and not be harassed.
She's much spunkier than when we first moved her in, as you can see from her being on her feet.  Maybe we should have splinted her leg, but my research showed people to be ambivalent on this task, and she was already quite distressed.  Splinting might have killed her.

I am hopeful that Darkest Winter will heal and return to the coop.  If not, she may stay with the guineas.  Only time will tell.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.