September 2014

Freedom Rangers, Goats and more

. . . Sep 19, 2014 | posted by Josephine
Putting chickies in the brooder

Life on the farm has been as busy as ever!  Two weeks ago 100 Freedom Ranger chicks arrived and we have just moved them out onto pasture in the safety of the chicken tractor where they are already happily eating clover, weed seeds and any bugs they can catch.  The chicks come from the hatchery by USPS 2-day priority shipping in special cardboard boxes.  The man at the post office is always exceptionally relieved when I pick them up.  Apparently 100 peeping chicks is not music to everyone’s ears.
Kiko goatsThe goats seem happy and well-adjusted and are eating brush at an alarming rate.  Good for privet control but I shudder to think what would happen if they ever got into the vegetable garden.  We resolve to never put the goats where they can even see the garden.  CSA member Chris Peterson came by to help me trim their hooves.  Chris is working on starting his own agricultural enterprise and is interested in goats, particularly dairying and cheese making.  None of us really knew what we were doing but we watched some instructional videos on YouTube and dove right in – which is my general approach to most things.  
On Sunday the 7th we hosted a farm tour with the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network.  Turnout was light but it was fun to show everyone around.  We have so many different things going on that it felt like sprinting to show off the whole operation in just 90 minutes.  There will be a video from the tour and interview available online in a couple months.
This past Sunday Randy and I took a walk around the farm to finalize our planting plans for next year.  We need to get everything measured and mapped out now so that we know where we can plant our winter cover crop.  The winter cover crop will protect the soil from erosion by winter rains and well as providing habitat and nutrition for our “livestock” in the soil – all those zillions of microorganisms and mesofauna so important to sustainable agriculture.  Nearly half of the planting area we used this year will get an 18-month rest after it’s cleaned out this fall.
There is a lot of tractor work that needs to happen before the wet season sets in and I am sure Randy would be out disking right now except that Rosie is in the shop!  Our local antique-tractor genius, W.T. Elliot, is replacing the throw out bearing and the clutch and some gears…. I only have a vague understanding of what all is involved.  It does require open-heart surgery - Rosie has to be split in half like a magician’s assistant!
Things are happening!  Lots of things and all at once!  The vegetables keep growing and we keep planting, weeding, watering and harvesting.  The cool weather may be slowing those fall tomatoes down but who cares!  I am just thrilled that it’s sleeping-with-the-windows-open time of the year.  The fall crops appreciate the cool weather, too, and maybe our summer pests like harlequin bugs and cabbage worms will start easing up.