thrive throve thriven

it’s been a rough month. lots of labor, some painful blows, and only moderate success, especially in the garden. summer pulls us all in four or five directions every day, complicating the amount of work we’re already doing.

a week or so after losing a chicken to a coyote, we lost five rabbits–four does and a kit. feral dogs that broke into our pen during the day, smashed the fence, killed three rabbits and made off with two others. two kits survive. we were lucky that they were mostly weaned already; they are thriving, in their new, more-confined, more-secure quarters. the New Zealand doe was in a private hutch with her litter of 6, so she was unharmed, and they are all big and healthy now. and darling.

that’s kosha that they’re eating; i found a stand that had gone from invisible to five feet tall while nobody was looking, and pulled up a few feet of it for bunny snacks. they love fresh kosha. also elm leaves. Note the bun with hte brown nose. these kits are crossbred Californian/New Zealand white, and for a while it looked like they were all going to look just like their mom. but three have brown noses and ear-rims. That’s mama’s ears back there looming over everybody.

peering out:

So we are going to get a Livestock Guardian Dog, to stop these predatorial incursions, and protect our interests in the barnyard. she’s to be an employee, not a pet: a working dog. the day after we decided to do this, i opened my email to a post from some poultry breeders in Edgewood, who are selling Great Pyrenees pups. Great Pyrs get to be 100 lbs or so at full growth, big fluffy white dogs. they’re well-insulated against both heat and cold, calm-tempered and diligent. The pups aren’t registered, so they’re much cheaper than registered pups, but they have been raised since day one with baby chicks, full-grown chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. they are socialized, because there are three small boys playing with them, and they are being trained to guard poultry by their poultry-guardian mama. their papa took out a great horned owl that was picking off their hens last summer. nice credentials, that. these folks are conscientious and informative, and I feel comfortable with the health and care of the pups thus far, assuming everything lives up to what we’ve talked about. the pups have been wormed and vaccinated already, and Andrea will give us supplies for the next round of vaccinations ourselves.

So we are going to go pick out a puppy on Sunday. We haven’t met her yet, but we’re going to name her Thistle. she’s going to be another big time investment, but i think one that will pay off sooner than later, and prove to be deeply rewarding.

This is what the garden looked like two weeks ago:

isn’t that just gorgeous? the beans are a bit short, from the loose soil not going deep enough before it’s all clay, but they are setting beans. and the corn! the gorgeous green Navajo Blue Corn, a flint/dent corn for drying and making enchiladas out of! Nom!

and the purple podded pole bean, the sole survivor of our first night owning rabbits, growing up the corn as it was intended to do:

isn’t that pretty?

and carrots miraculously coming up by the zucchini:

and tomatoes! oh, the tomatoes!

it had all that promise.

and then we left for four days of camping over Lammas, first harvest festival, and came back to discover that the filter on the drip system had clogged completely while we were away. the garden had gone without water for two days.

i came home to this:

and lay down on that hard-packed earth and cried.

the tomatoes & eggplant recovered; we lost two plants, but there are many many more that are healthy and vigorous, with lots of fruit.

the zuchs stopped bearing, but will probably start again. the carrots were eaten alive, down to the stalks, by something. everything is more succeptible to pests and disease when it is not getting the nutrients it needs. the pumpkin is fine, the peppers, ground cherries, sunberries and tomatillos are thriving. at least a few of the winter-squash made it–i’m anxiously watching for female blossoms. the beans are a bit crunchy, but by and large they survived fine; beans have very good defenses against this kind of thing. they’re not quite as deep green glossy as they were, but they continue to flower and set pods. we’ll still harvest pinto beans.

but the corn. the corn. the corn.

two nights ago i drew spell for healthy corn.

In better news, tomorrow is our next Ginormous Work Day. We will be installing the solar well pump and the new well tank, and finishing the livestock fencing in the barnyard, in preparation for a dog–if this fence might not be 100% goat ready, we’re aiming to make it completely puppy-ready. and do more chicken-proofing while we’re at it. If all goes smoothly with the well pump, we’ll also run electric to the barn (AC, off the house) so we can actually use the barn as a workshop. that would be lovely. it’s secondary to the solar well, though. tristan dug all the trenches a week or two ago, so the digging is minimal.

oh, and Susan & Teren gave us a truckload of gravel, so we have filled in Lake Driveway, and finally, at long last and with no fanfare, have filled in the french drains in the greywater system! that’s been pending since November. nobody has broken any ankles stumbling into those holes, but it’s awfully nice to have them properly gravelled now.