kittymillie

Somehow this week has been filled beyond the usual with various homestead projects. I suspect it started with Kitty who welcomed Millie to the homestead very late Monday night. This was our first kidding on the homestead and I was completely taken off guard with just how exciting and day-filling that process would be.

After two days of me checking on her probably more often than she would appreciate, Stewart was the first one on the scene late Monday night. This little kid was born in a grove of cedar trees and we asked Ruthie if she wanted to name her. After many, many suggestions by all of us, Ruthie settled on Millie.

barnstalls

It was a welcome expectation to see rain in the forecast Tuesday night and now over the weekend as well. But with a fresh kid and two more goats expected to drop any day now, we needed to make preparations. The barn is now walled in on all sides except the south wall… and just in time, too!

One of the major projects for Stewart was getting the solar panels, batteries, and whatnots moved over from in front of the barn in order to finish the south wall. Well, he had to put up a new roofline behind the house to mount the solar panels on and that entailed taking down the old roofline in front of the barn in order to salvage materials.

So while Stewart spent a frightening amount of time on the roof this week, the children and I worked on cleaning out the barn and putting in some temporary kidding stalls. We spent much of Tuesday pounding T-posts and moving hay and holding ladders (gulp), in between checking on goats and little Millie.

beansrow

And then, with the rain that came Tuesday night and further percentages in the forecast, I figured it’d be a good time to get over my fear of the bean field and take the plunge. There are still several hay bales to break up and spread out but I knew if I didn’t jump in and just get started somewhere, I might never do it.

So we started on the east side of the field and finished that hay up and got to planting. We marked and raked back rows and then the boys got a chance to try out this little plow they put together with scrap materials months ago.

beansplow

I’m not sure how efficient it is but it got the job done and created a furrow two inches deep into which we planted black-eyed peas. We may or may not get to planting some more this afternoon after school books close and babies awake.

I think I realized the other day that we tend to rush around in the spring in an attempt to prepare for the hot months ahead. Finish up building projects, get all of the garden in (and somewhat harvested) before June, bolster the homestead for several months of heat. In many ways it is akin to preparing for winter up north.

So maybe that is why the days are full and the hands (and floors) perpetually dirty – it is spring!

gardenbeanspotatoes

The early bird gets the worm, they say, and when it comes to Texas gardening I really think that is true. Back in the Midwest, June through September were the months in which you could find garden goodness of all kinds.
gardencantaloupes

We now mostly count those months as off season months with their persistent heat and low rainfall. For years we have kind of known in the back of our minds that if you’re going to plant, it needs to be early… or late, for that matter.

gardencollards

Well, this year and last are the first two years we have had truly workable soil to speak of (thank you, Lord, for the straw and manure!). And this year and last are the first we’ve gotten a real jump start on the garden. We have, in essence, been planting seeds of one kind or another continuously since February.

gardenbeanflowers

We did have a crazy frost at one point and, frankly, if you’re going to plant as early as we did you have to either plan to cover rows or plan to lose something. The shifts in temperature can come on quick and so when we lost a portion of the beans and nearly all of the tomatillos to a late frost, we were grateful to still have seed in order to replant. We’re still working on the tomatillo germination situation but the beans have come back strong.

gardentomatoclose

This is also one of the first years in awhile that we’ve had both the time (no spring baby this year) and the space (south-facing windows in the kitchen) to continue to plant some fun and tasty new stuff. We have about 8-10 tomato plants that are flowering and putting off small fruit and I have about seven pots of peppers and eggplant that will need transplanting soon.

gardensummersquash

And I am starting to wonder what is going to happen with the squash. We planted eight hills with 2-3 plants on each hill that have survived. We really like squash – both fresh and preserved – and so far this heirloom variety seems true to the seeds packet boasting of “fast growing” and “prolific”.

gardencucumber

Oh, and do you know that it’s been nearly six years since we’ve grown a cucumber? I always assumed cucumbers were water suckers and with the water situation here always being somewhere between less than optimal to downright critical, I always bypassed the cukes in the seed catalogs. Well, this year we decided to order several heat- and drought-tolerant tomatoes, cucumbers, black-eyed peas, and cantaloupes from Native Seed Search. So these flowers are from one of about a half dozen Armenian Yard-Long Cucumbers that are coming along well.

gardenpumpkins

And then there is the pumpkin patch. As I mentioned previously, Abram snuck sixteen pumpkins into the Chicken Field when I wasn’t looking and they are looking good thus far. The soil beneath is really not that great but we’ve been mulching and watering and are very pleased with the Seminole Pumpkins we received from a reader (Thanks, J!).

This week we may harvest our first squash (and possibly some baby green beans!). The peas are drying up so we’ll save seed and plant pole beans there next, Lord willing. And the Red La Soda Potatoes need a final hilling up sometime soon. And did I mention that collard bed I had kind of given up on is coming back to life? Stewart got out there and weeded really thoroughly and found a bunch of plants I’d watered unwittingly.

Now, to give those tomatillos one final try…

What’s growing and blooming in your garden?