Llamas and Gardens and Chickens (Oh My!)

Northstar.  (Jeremiah calls him Marvin)
Northstar. (Jeremiah calls him Marvin)

See this face?  This cute, adorable little llama?

Don’t let him fool you.  This is a guilty face.  This is the face of a culprit.  (Admittedly, a very cute culprit…)

Gabby and I had just finished up evening chores, and I decided, probably against my own better judgment, to check on my garden.  (You see, no one was weeding it while we were gone in Orlando, so, while I’ve made a valiant effort to beat back the weeds from the veggies, there are unplanted sections with weeds that are waist high.)  I think I was about halfway out when I realized something was amiss.

To get to my garden, you have to walk through several pastures.  (It actually used to be a pasture itself, but has since been converted.)  At first, I just thought that llamas were in the pasture next to my garden.  Turns out, they were actually making a pasture out of my garden.  I tried to run.  Several awkward, clomping strides later, I remembered that one does not run in welllies (rubber boots?  I started wearing such footwear while working at an internationally staffed sleep-away camp, and everyone used the British term…In America, I think we just call them rubber boots…).  So I stopped running and starting power walking (or something), and I briefly thought about stopping to take pictures–because I’m a blogger, I guess–but then I decided my squash and cucumbers and everything else were more important than photographic evidence.

So Gabby and I chased the llamas out of the garden.  (The llamas were not happy.)  Then I took pictures.

This is a llama footprint
This is a llama footprint
Evidence!  (This is a llama footprint and what was a very nice onion.)
Evidence! (This is a llama footprint and what was a very nice onion.)

They ate several onions.  (I can’t imagine why…)  Knocked over a tomato cage.  Generally ran a muck.

…Actually, they didn’t do too much damage.  In fact, if I let them back in, I think they’d mostly eat the weeds…

Once we were done chasing llamas out, we set about to beat back some more weeds and look over the plants.

Everything, including the weeds, seems to be doing quite well.

Look at all those blooms!
Look at all those blooms!

Nearly every vining plant I have is riddled with blooms.  We should be rolling in cucumbers, zucchini, spaghetti squash, watermelon, acorn squash, pumpkin…and the other stuff I can’t really remember.  (Don’t blame me!  All the rain has washed off most of the garden markers.  Either way, lots of food.)

The tomatillos are loaded!  I cannot wait!

2014-07-01 20.10.03
Admittedly, you can’t really tell from this photo, but we have four tomatillo plants, and they will be pretty prolific.

More tomatoes than I can imagine what to do with.

2014-07-01 20.10.222014-07-01 20.10.12

We found this cuteness in the raspberry thicket.  I imagine there may have been an unhappy bird around when we took this photo.  Other than the picture, we left it completely undisturbed.

2014-07-01 20.19.34

Oh, and my chickens are laying!  They’ve been living in a stall since their coop isn’t done.

The coop, in progress.  My ridiculously talented carpenter/husband has the redesign in progress.  Cluckingham Palace (I WILL have a sign made up) will probably be nicer than our house with shade via a chickeny pergola, insulated walls, lighting inside and out, and a washable surface in and out.
The coop, in progress. My ridiculously talented carpenter/husband has the redesign in progress. Cluckingham Palace (I WILL have a sign made up) will probably be nicer than our house with shade via a chickeny pergola, insulated walls, lighting inside and out, and a washable surface in and out.

Can anyone tell me what kind of chickens I have?  I’m completely clueless.

20140630-215817-79097457.jpg20140630-215815-79095662.jpg

I know, not great photos.  You will see more once they move into the palace, but that won’t be for a week or so.

This one is my favorite...
This one is my favorite…

Anyone know what this is?  She (possibly he?) is my favorite.  Hatched this Spring, I cannot tell if it’s a roo or a hen.  (Please be a hen.  Please be a hen.  Please be a hen…)

 

 

 

Advertisements

Starting the veggie garden

One of my goals for the new property has been a big veggie garden.  BIG.  There are several motivations behind it.  The first is that we have the space…and all the free compost you could ever want.  (Llama dung compost is literally some of the best fertilizer on the planet.  It’s awesome!)

Second, I love the taste of fresh veggies and fruits.  Nothing beats it.  I especially love the taste of homegrown food in the middle of winter.  My frozen tomatoes are far superior to the canned stuff from the grocery store.  Completely changes the taste of soups and chilis when things get cold.

Third, and perhaps most important, I’m passionate about locally sourced food, knowing where my food comes from, and sustainable eating.  I am NOT perfect about this.  But I try.  Not only does locally sourced food taste better (because it can be picked ripe), it’s better for the planet.  That isn’t to say that I will start raising my own meat (nope…nope, nope, nope), but I will be happy to enjoy my own produce!  Besides, locally sourced, sustainably raised meat?  That’s what farmer’s markets are for.

Anyway, Katie and I started planting on Sunday.  We basically planted until we were exhausted, which was about halfway done.

The garden space, which my lovely husband tilled up for me a few weeks ago.  Three cheers for my guy!
The garden space, which my lovely husband tilled up for me a few weeks ago. Three cheers for my guy!

The garden is fenced on all sides.   It’s as big as it looks.

2014-05-18 15.35.04
Tomato corner…before planting.

 

The soil is passable right now.  In a few years, with the help of plenty of compost, it should be fantastic.

Rhubarb.  I planted it in the corner where it can root nicely and not be disturbed when everything else gets tilled up in the fall.
Rhubarb. I planted it in the corner where it can root nicely and not be disturbed when everything else gets tilled up in the fall.

2014-05-18 15.58.17

The garden is surrounded by pastures, so we were surrounded by curious llamas as we planted.  Even Cinco (one of my horses) stood at the corner of his field to watch us for a while.

 

Jackpot standing for the hose.
Jackpot standing for the hose.

This boy, especially, hung around.  As soon as we started watering, he came over to request that this legs be sprayed (if you look really close you can see the water from the hose in the above photo).  He then played in the water for several minutes.  Llamas love water!

2014-05-18 17.26.00
I will have more tomatoes than I will know what to do with.

By the end of the day, Katie and I had planted pumpkins (two varieties), lots of squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, rhubarb, four varieties of tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers.

We still have a bunch of planting to go…but it’s a start.
Unrelated note?

2014-05-19 16.00.44

This gate/fenceline was started over the weekend as well.  I asked my husband for a dog fence with a pretty gate.  He is giving me the gate to the Mongolian Empire.  I will update you as that project progresses.