Monday, May 28, 2012

Holy Smokes - It's Triplets!

We've nicely incorporated goat kid Gaffer into our daily routine.  We'd been watching Mabel closely, knowing her time was coming shortly.  Goat mommas release a mucous plug, much like human mommas, and when we spotted it in the afternoon we knew we'd have at least one more baby within twenty four hours or a bit more.  We put Mabel in the 'bonding suite' and checked her regularly.  Farmer Man was taking the early shift and checked on her at midnight.  She was restless, but not showing the signs we've read about like pawing at the ground, making a nest, looking a little wild-eyed, bearing down.  He returned a mere forty five minutes later to find three tiny babies in the straw!  They seemed quite still or a little shivering, unlike Gaffer's first moments.  Momma Mabel was standing away in a corner, looking a little wild, and the babies hadn't been cleaned or anything.  Farmer Man brought the kids under the heat lamp, started to dry them and then came and woke me up.  Waking up to the words 'We've got triplets. They need our help' really gets one going....
So wee and quiet when I first saw the kids!

Back in the bonding suite, getting the babies under the heat lamp and cleaning them with the towels we'd left at hand stimulated them enough to get movement and wee cries.  Noses, eyes and mouths were wiped clean, umbilical cords tied off and dipped in iodine.  Momma Mabel wanted nothing to do with this squirmy pile; she continued to stand in the far corner looking stressed.  We gathered up a nearby large galvanized tub, lined it with clean towels and got the babies under the heat lamp.  They were much smaller than Gaffer, one was very tiny.  Now getting colustrum, the first mother's milk, is very important for the babies' health.  Not only first nutrition, but colustrum shares the momma's antibodies to illness and disease that are present in the environment.  It's critical for the babies health.  We tried to encourage Mabel to come to the tub, to meet her babies, to perhaps help clean them up.  She was not even slightly interested.  I gently took a baby to her and she moved away repeatedly.  I tried to put one to her to nurse and she bolted into the opposite corner.  We were going to have a problem here....

We needed to milk the colustrum and get it into the babies.  This was going to be interesting.  Momma Mabel was a bloody mess and still stressed.  She did not like having her udder cleaned with a warm, damp cloth as I tried to get ready to milk.  We gave her a special treat of some of her grain ration with a handful of raisins and, as she began to eat, I managed to get her wiped clean, disinfected and got the Henry Milker on one teat.  A good dose of very golden yellow milk was collected.  Farmer Man got it into the waiting milk bottle and tried to feed the now crying babies.  The kids didn't know what to do with this bright red nipple coming at them!  Baby goats have to nurse with their heads up to make sure the milk goes to the right tummy.  We, with little experience bottle feeding, squirted a lot of milk at the babies and on ourselves getting used to the bottles and the angles!  Farmer Man continued to try to feed the kids while I re-cleaned Mabel, re-disinfected and collected colustrum from the second teat.  Thank heavens for the Henry Milker, which collects the milk right from the teat into a jar.  Chasing Mabel around with a milking bucket would have been wild and the milk might have been tainted with straw, dust, afterbirth - who knows!

Farmer Man was getting some colustrum into the babies; they were looking stronger and were, actually, all falling asleep.  We were both splattered with bits of milk as well as straw, iodine and assorted other 'barn birthing' debris.  It was now well after 3:00 AM and Farmer Man hadn't been to sleep yet.  We collected milk again from Mabel and Farmer Man headed to bed.  I took the second shift and was quite wide awake, even with just a few hours sleep!  We'd both been running to the house to sterilize and get things we'd forgotten, jogging to the shed for treats, crawling after Momma Mabel -  I think the adrenaline had kicked in!  I sat up through the early morning, a bottle of milk tucked under my clothes to keep it warm!  The babies woke up crying after just an hour and I tried to get more milk in them.  It was a cold, rainy night and I was thankful for the heat lamp.  I kept encouraging Mabel to come to the tub and check out her babies but she stayed off in her corner.

About 7:30 AM Farmer Man relieved me from duty and I headed to bed.  Just a few, short hours later I awoke to the sound of little cries.  I got up to find a tub of kids in my living room!  Farmer Man had made the decision to bring them in out of the cold and to be closer to the stashed milk and ways to warm it up.  Plus, Mabel seemed a little aggressive.  So, we started caring for kids in the house.  Some good pals had wanted to know about the birthing and, shortly after sending a text, our pal Nancy arrived, with cookies, and experience in bottle feeding kittens.  Having an extra set of hands and a patient, nurturing 'Aunty' was just fantastic!  It left Farmer Man to go about the usual chores while Nancy and I warmed milk and fed the now squirmy bunch of babies.  We had thought, in the barn, that we had two girls and a boy, but as we handled and observed them we realized we had two boys and a girl.  What we think was the first born and the largest, a boy, was named Marty.  The second, with spotted ears like Mabel, was named Marble and the little, tiny runt, originally named Myrtle, is named Myrvan.  Marty looks a lot like his Daddy, Randi, while Marble and Myrvan have a caramel color, darker than Mabel and Goldie. So cute!
Someone always managed to get off the paper!
 More little doggy coats in action!

The next five or six hours are somewhat of a blur - Farmer Man and I were both very tired.  It involved milking, feeding, cleaning - over and over.  The babies were slow to take to the bottle and we were so worried about the littlest, Myrvan.  Nancy held him for a long time, trying to get him to take to the bottle.  Even though we tried to get newspapers down and towels around, we and the room were slowly becoming splattered with milk and there were 'accidents' on the carpet.  But, the important thing was that everything seemed to be going well - all the babies were getting fed, and proceeding with bodily functions as they should!  Feed, pee, poop, sleep, pee, poop, feed, pee, poop, became a rhythm.  About mid-afternoon pal Deb arrived when she got off work; another set of hands and new energy was greatly needed!  Farmer Man got a wee nap in his easy chair with Marble sleeping on his chest!  When he got mobile again I lay down for a little over an hour!  Thank you, Aunties, for all you help!

The new, cozy crib in the barn!
When the ladies had both left in the evening the babies were sleeping in their tub.  Farmer Man and I went out to milk and finish the evening chores.  Eggs had only been sporadically collected: there was lots of little things to do!  We came in to a squirming, crying bunch of kids and performed another feeding, which was going much better now.  Farmer Man had retrieved a large rubber tote and cleaned it and we put the now drowsy babies in with fresh towels, moved it beside the bed and we all largely slept through the night, until 5:00 AM when the babies started to cry again.  The cycle started again.  By mid-afternoon yesterday, Farmer Man had organized a 'crib' pen in the barn with the heat lamp and in the babies went.  We had a succession of visitors in the afternoon - baby goats are very popular!  I was glad to see poor Gaffer get some attention; our first little baby was somewhat neglected for a day after being the centre of so much attention!  Sunday saw us settling into a bit more of a routine, and everyone seems to be thriving and feeding well!  We did spend some time trying to get Momma Mabel to accept her kids, but no luck; we're resigning ourselves to having three bottle babies.  And added to the 'to-do' list: steaming cleaning the livingroom carpet - soon!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Prairie Fruit Cookbook!

I'm in love, love, love with Getty Stewart's new book 'Prairie Fruit Cookbook'!   First, I love supporting things that are local and, second, gardening/cooking books that are specific to our tough climate are a boon.  It's very hard, for instance, to find info on saskatoons in most commercial books; I've often 'faked' out recipes for blueberries, which I figured was the closest sort of berry!  This book has great info for gardeners, bakers, cooks and canners - something for everybody!

Getty Stewart is the founder of Fruit Share Manitoba, a great project working to harvest unused urban fruit and share it with volunteers and community groups like Food Banks and soup kitchens.  Homeowners donate their fruit, volunteers harvest and then all sorts of good things are made and consumed!  What a brilliant idea!  The fruit share concept is in different towns and cities including Vancouver and Edmonton.  I think every town and city to organize a program like this!  In Manitoba, Winnipeg and Steinbeck currently have Fruit Shares, if you're in Brandon and interested please get in touch!

The book opens with some info on Fruit Share and sharing the harvest.  It then has a great chapter on different ways to preserve the harvest for eating local all winter, with good info on canning, freezing and dehydrating.  Then, there are nine chapters on fruit that grows well on the Canadian Prairies, including apples and crabapples, grapes, pears, plums and apricots, cherries, raspberries, rhubarb, saskatoons and strawberries!  Each chapter starts with gardening info on each fruit, then storing, preserving and then cooking and baking info.  The recipes are awesome!  How about Maple Apple Crisp, Grape Granita, Pear Brie and Ham Panini, Sage Caramelized Onion and Plum Pizza, Cherry Martini, Raspberry Jelly Roll, Rhubarb Fool, Saskatoon Salsa Salad or Chocolate Covered Strawberries?  Over 150 recipes, from beverages to main courses!

If you'd like a copy of the book, you can currently order online directly from Getty, using PayPal or credit cards.  I'm really pleased to say that Aagaard Farms is going to be a Brandon distributor this summer, and we'll have copies with us at the Global Market Brandon!  It's also available in Winnipeg at St Mary's Garden Centre, Sage Garden Herbs and Rand McNally.  Highly recommend this book and we really encourage you to make good use of all the lovely fruit growing in your neighborhood!  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Goldie's (and Our) First Baby!

This is not the post for you if you are not comfortable with frank discussions of birth, bodily functions and such!  There will be some (mildly) graphic details and pictures!

Aagaard Farms is pleased-as-punch to announce the arrival of Gafferty, a wee buck kid born about 4:00 PM on Sunday, May 20th (nobody had a watch on so the time is unofficial)!  The son of Goldie, our 75% Nubian doe, and Randi, our purebred Nubian buck, Gafferty, henceforth known as Gaffer, is doing fine!  It was the first baby for Goldie and for us, so it's been an exciting weekend!  Farmer Man decided, rather on the fly, that the kids' names should start with the first letter of their Mom's name; as the little buck was floundering around, Farmer Man called him a 'little gaffer', and the name stuck!

We do like things kind of natural around here: no chemicals on the gardens, no chemicals or antibiotics in the critters food, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da.  We did not intend to be so natural that Goldie would have her baby outside, in the pasture, but that's what happened!  We have done extensive reading on goat birth, watched YouTube videos, haunted some of our favorite websites like Fias Co Farms; nothing prepares you like the real thing! We've been watching our does for a few weeks, looking for signs and symptoms of impending birth.  We knew the udders were filling, we could see the body signs, we had read about the ligaments along her tail bones 'softening' when birth is near but we're still not exactly sure about that sign.  The does either think we're nuts or they enjoyed the 'massages' along their spine and down by their tail!  The goats had gotten their usual grain ration shortly after 1:30 PM and everything seemed normal: the little herd was together, they all came and partook of their treat, everything seemed good.  I angled around to get a look at all the girls rear ends: two of the first signs of imminent birthing, after the softening of the ligaments, is the doe releases a white, waxy looking plug from her vagina, then she goes off by herself.  Most goat keepers would have her in a separate pen a week or so before birth but it was a lovely day and we hadn't (didn't think) we had the softening of the ligaments, or the release of the plug......

About half an hour later I cruised back by the goat pasture, just to have a look.  Goldie was off under the spruces with a glob of yellow birth fluid hanging from her vagina.  Yikes!  This is happening NOW!  I ran to the house, grabbed the prepared birthing kit, the camera (like a good blogger) and yelled for Farmer Man!  Goldie stubbornly refused to walk to the barn at this point, so we grabbed some empty feed sacks to keep the baby from hitting the ground.  There was something I needed from the house so I ran back, and made a quick call to pal Deb, who had wanted to know when babies were coming.  I think I yelled something into the phone like: "Having a baby goat, gotta go!"   Deb appeared shortly after and a third pair of hands was a great help!
A wee, little hoof presents itself!

For about an hour and a half, we watched and encouraged Goldie, pulling the empty feed sacks after her as she moved around.  Farmer Man was at her head, keeping her steady and calm.  She'd push, a little hoof would appear, then recede.  She'd push again and we'd see a little hoof, then a tip of a little nose and a little pink tongue!  This might stay out, then disappear.  We still couldn't see the second hoof!  I was running through my mind everything I'd read about assisting in the birth, but it was too soon for that.  Finally, after almost two hours, Goldie lay down and began to really push hard, making funny little noises!  I intruded into her vagina, just a tad, and found the second hoof, just inside the entrance.  On the next big push, I got it between two fingers and pulled lightly along with Goldie's push.  A few minutes later, a little wet, gooey baby came sliding out!  As we were outside on a breezy day, Auntie Deb and I were ready with puppy pads to clean the baby, then old towels to keep the baby warm.  We tied off the umbilical cord with dental floss and slid the feed sack with baby up to Goldie for her to do some cleaning and bonding!

How does this work, again?
Farmer Man got some grain, Deb took the baby, all wrapped in a fresh towel, to a sunny spot just by the barn doors.  With a rest and a bit of grain, we got Goldie up and slowly made our way to the clean baby stall in the barn.  We put them in together, and turned on the waiting heat lamp.  Momma Goldie seemed interested, and did some more cleaning of her baby.  Getting the baby up to nurse and getting Goldie to stand still to nurse was a bit more of a challenge.  The rest of the evening, and the next morning were consumed by watching, encouraging Mom to nurse, using treats and brushing to get her to stand for the baby.  We actually put into action our milking machine - The Henry Milker!  Love this thing, highly recommend it!  We milked Goldie, had the waiting baby bottle and nipple and tried to make sure little Gaffer had colostrum and a good feed!  The worry and frustration when the baby didn't want the bottle!  Fortunately, shortly after Momma Goldie let him get a good drink and we could all relax!

Our plan now is to let little Gaffer feed during the day, then we will milk Goldie out in the evening.  I must say, fresh goat milk is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing!  Creamy, smooth and no, absolutely no, goaty flavor!  I've got a small stash for our first batch of soap, and that supply will grow every day!  Hopefully, we'll be making soap next week!  In the meantime, we're playing with Gaffer, congratulating Goldie and we are watching and waiting for Mabel and Chocolate to have their babies!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hitting The Weeds With Vinegar!

Anybody casually seeing the photo of me spraying weeds might think 'What an idiot! No protection, not even gloves!'  Well, I'm not too worried about it 'cause I'm spraying vinegar, and I don't wear gloves in the kitchen when I'm using it!  Yes, vinegar can be a good weed-killing spray.  I'm using pickling vinegar, which is slightly stronger than common vinegar.  I'm using it largely because I had a big bottle left over from last years' canning and would rather start the new canning season with a fresh bottle!

Vinegar works by largely drying out the tops of the weeds.  It works best in combination with strong sun, so I'm in a hurry to get it on because today is going to be an unusual (for May) +30 C (about 92 F).  There may be rain Saturday, but hopefully the damage will be done and, for a minimal cost, I can always re-do the application.  I've got about half vinegar, half water in my tank; the 4 liter bottle of vinegar made a little less than half a tank.  That nicely soaked one side of my heavily infested driveway, about sixty feet, and a little bit on the other side.  I like to walk backwards while I'm applying because the bees were quite happy in all the dandelion flowers so I try to scare them off as I move along.  Vinegar would count as a non-selective weed-killer, which means it would damage any herbaceous perennial it touches, so I'd weeded out a strip along the perennial bed.  You can also use a shield; something like a piece of cardboard that you hold between the perennials and the weeds, 'shielding' the good stuff from the spray.  Vinegar will have little affect on woody plants' woody parts, but could damage the soft leafy growth.

I've included a 'before' picture, I'll keep you posted on the results!  Have any of you tried vinegar as a weed-killer?  I'd love to hear about your experiences, either here in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wow! We're Going to Be The Stars of a Documentary!

Photo courtesy A. Collins and D. Adriaansen
We're going to be in films!  Allison Collins and Danielle Adriaansen, two journalists/bloggers/filmmakers/tech queens around town were looking for a project to produce for the  MTS community programming channel.  Allison is a member of our CSA program  and Danielle will be joining us for the new season, so they had some familiarity with what we do!  We sell all our product directly to our local community through the CSA program or through Farmers Markets; the ladies seemed to like that connection to community.  During the winter they proposed their project would be about what Aagaard Farms does and, on receiving the go-ahead from MTS, they made it official!

The ladies will be following us around for the next four months or so, filming all the disparate things that go on at a little farm.  It will be, I suppose, kind of like being on a reality TV show!  They'll see the frenzy of getting everything organized for CSA pick-up day, the garden renters coming and going, the quiet moments early in the morning when Farmer Man is letting the animals out into pasture.  Viewers will see us dirty, sweaty and tired - no hair and make-up people for this project!

The ladies have started a new blog 'Dirt to Dinner' to document their process; check it out here!  They will be working on every aspect of the documentary themselves from photography, to editing, to sound.  Can hardly wait to see the finished project!  We'll share some updates on our Facebook page throughout the summer, as well as here on our blog!  Although the finished product will be the property of MTS, after a certain length of time the ladies will be able to share it on YouTube or someplace like that; we'll certainly let you know where and how you can view it!  Wanna be in films?  You may be if you're out at the farm, a member of CSA or if you come see us at the new Global Market in Brandon this summer!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brooding...and I Don't Mean Young Vampires!

At the beginning of May, I posted a picture on our Facebook page of some of the hens laying their eggs in the goats hay bin.  Now, one of the Ameraucana hens won't leave the hay bin!  The first few days I gently snuck underneath her and collected the eggs, as I do with all The Hens.  By day three, she resisted a little more strongly, giving me the hardest peck I've received from a hen and making a rather angry squawk!  She continued to almost growl at me as I stood beside her, so I backed away.  Yo ho!  Is one of our hens getting that 'mothering' feeling?

Hens lay eggs, it's what they do.  No rooster required, no special feed, it's just what they do - you can't stop them and why would you?  If no rooster is around, the eggs would never produce chicks.  If a rooster is present, and the hen is allowed to sit on the eggs for three weeks, a chick will develop if that egg has been fertilized.  With two roosters and forty seven hens, it's very possible some of our hens are not getting any, ummm, male attention; roosters seem to like a harem of about ten or twelve females.  When a hen wants to sit on the eggs and have babies, it's called 'going broody'.  It's quite an investment of her time: a mother hen will keep those eggs warm almost twenty four hours a day, only leaving for a short period each day to eat, drink and 'freshen up' a bit.

In our five years or so of having chickens, we've never had a hen go broody.  Our reading tells us that the instinct has almost been bred out of many varieties; the Leghorns and Isa Browns we've had the longest have never shown any inclination to have babies.  Our potential Mama is an Ameraucana, we have no idea if she's been mated, or if the Daddy would be Rocky the Barred Rock or Buddy the Ameraucana.  We've also noticed that the hen as adopted other eggs laid in the hay bin, a mix of Black Sex Link and Isa Brown eggs.  She's currently sitting on eight eggs.  She's showing classic signs of going broody: the protective instinct and unusual warning calls, her body is low and flat covering all the eggs, she's there almost all the time, she has a far-away, glazed look in her eyes.

All we can do is wait three weeks and see what happens.  It would be wonderful if we could be self-sufficient in chicks, so to speak.  We have already ordered twenty new chicks, for delivery at the end of May, so we may have quite the flock of babies here!  I'm already worrying about whether they'll fall out of the hay bin and hurt themselves!  As the old saying goes:  Time will Tell!  I'll keep you posted, check our Facebook page for weekly updates!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's Hartney Hort Day, 2012

Volunteers help plant one of Rick's logs.
Today was the day for one of my favorite annual events:  The Hartney Hort Fair!  For a small town, Hartney puts on an awesome Hort day!  Today was the first time Aagaard Farms has been there as a vendor: selling seed potatoes and our lotion bars and lip balms.  It was fun to sit back and enjoy all the speakers, and see gardening friends I don't see that often!

First up was Rick Wilson, an old friend I haven't seen in a while.  He did a great presentation on planting an old log or piece of driftwood.  What a great little piece of garden 'sculpture'.  He was, as always, amusing and interesting.  Even got some of the audience up to help him plant a couple of great pieces of driftwood he's collected.

Next up was Connie Lagerquist, horticulturalist with The Peace Gardens, with a Powerpoint presentation of the new and nifty plants for 2012, mostly annuals, with a few perennials and even a few veggies.  I must admit that since I left the garden centre business I don't stay 'up' on things like I used to.  We don't plant many annual flowers here, but it's always nice to see beautiful new things!

After lunch Mr Wilson was back with a great talk on hydrangeas for the Prairies Gardens.  He was followed by Bill Stilwell, awarding winning author and photographer.  He had a super talk on the subjects of his fabulous books: flora and fauna of Manitoba and where to go to see them!  I learned of some beautiful spots in Manitoba; we're definitely going and doing some eco-tourism in our back yard!

The Hartney Hort Fair always has some fabulous local vendors.  This year there was Valleyrimgirl Perennials, from just outside of Brandon, L.E.T.S. Plant Greenhouse from Medora, Manitoba and Lillian's Garden from Killarney.  Janet McBurney from Souris with Mary Kay Cosmetics was there to keep all us gardeners beautiful!  Plum Creek Soapworks of Elgin had a table that smelled wonderful with handmade goat's milk soap and assorted bath products.  Lanark Trail Greenhouse & Nursery by Reston was there as well as Springdale Greenhouse from Carroll.  There was also gorgeous jewellery from Janice McBrien of Hartney.  I scored a lovely Rada Cutlery cleaver from Clarisse, who runs the delightful Red Door Cafe in Hartney.  It's so great to see so many local small businesses getting out to offer their wares!

Hartney always puts on a great day, they get one of the biggest turnouts of any of the Spring horticultural events.  Maybe part of it is their knack for an astounding array of door prizes, raffles and silent auction items!  Maybe the fabulous array of homemade desserts with the lunch has something to do with fabulous attendance.....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just About Ready to Plant!

Ready to plant!
 I always love this time when the soil is all tilled, smooth and black!  Just waiting to receive seeds and water, to produce little plants and then to grow beautiful food.  Within a week, it will be cut up, tramped down in places and will be full of stakes and rows!  This time is all about potential, what might be!

We were hoping for a very early start, but the rains of late April and early May have lessened that possibility somewhat...we will be getting on earlier than usual but only by about ten days.  What the recent weather has brought is a full dug-out.  After the snow melted our watering pond was only half full, a big worry, but now it's full to overflowing.  The irrigation system itself needs a little work before it will be ready to use, but the soil has ample moisture now and we usually have sufficient rain through the end of May to get things going.

The dug-out full!
Farmer Man got the tilling of the main area finished last evening.  After watching the end of a hockey game, we got out close to dusk to set up the rental plots.  We gave up in the dark, before finishing, but that is getting taken off the 'to-do' list this morning.  The gardeners, with recent sunny days, have been anxious to get started!  This little farm will probably be a beehive of activity this weekend!  All the doggies will be so happy; they love the attention and all the extra pats!  We'll have to corral the chickens soon, or they will happy scratch up and pluck out everybodys' little seedlings!

There is more tilling to be done: the potato field is being moved to an area that was alfalfa/grass last spring.  We've been slowly taking back more and more of the old alfalfa field, for crop rotation and as our business expands.  The soon-to-be potato field was broken up last summer, disked in the Fall, disked again just a few days ago and will now get at least one rototilling to smooth it out.  The area around the dug-out is still a little wet and heavy, so we'll leave that for a while.  We're not in any big hurry: our last frost date is officially June 6th, so we're not in any rush to plant out our started seedlings of tomatoes and peppers.  Seeds and seed potatoes will be safe for planting now, and that will keep us busy enough for a couple of weeks!

Friday, May 4, 2012

And Just Like That....

If you don't follow our Facebook page, you will not know that the baby Berkshire Pigs arrived on Tuesday!  Ten little weanlings, well, fifty pound babies!  And just yesterday morning one of the barn cats had babies way up high in a box on a shelf; we're not sure because it's hard to see but we think there are four kittens!  Just like that, there are eighty mouths to feed around here, not including Farmer Man and I!  We're still waiting for goat babies, but we know we're getting close because the goatlings' udders have started to enlarge and, if all goes well, that could be at least three and as many as nine new members of the farm!  New chicks will arrive about the end of the month.  And another barn cat is, beyond question, going to have more kittens soon (I know, I know but we really do get them spayed and neutered as we can afford)!

And just like that, the greenhouse is almost full with baby plants!  Once we start to pot-up from our thickly seeded flats into six packs and cells, the plants (and flats) multiply quickly.  There are well over one thousand seedlings here now!  Potted up are most of the tomatoes, peppers and the early starts of herbs.  Waiting for potting up are the third and last seedings of the above three, and just seeded are flats of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.  We're just getting organized on making our little paper pots from newsprint, which means soon we'll be seeding the winter squash that takes a hundred days or more, like the delectable Australian blue pumpkins like 'Jarrahdale' and 'Crown Prince'.  Watermelon and cantelope will also go into the newspaper pots because they tend to be brittle and do not transplant well; with the paper pots we don't have to handle them very much because the pot can be planted!

And just like that, we're busy!  The leisurely days of March and April have given way to the increasing demands of all our babies.  Checking on the piglets is frequent:  we need to ensure they have not found a weak point in the fencing.  Their automatic waterer is still not hooked up, so we're refilling their water bucket three or four times a day.  Checking the goatlings is almost an obsession, looking for any signs that a baby may be coming.  Checking, watering and feeding all the critters and seedlings can take over a couple of hours.  Blogging, answering emails and phone calls, updating the Facebook page - we're quite happy now when it's dark and everyone and everything is tucked into bed!  And we're not even out in the gardens, yet....potato planting should commence next week, if the rains subside and then, just like that, there will be weeding and hoeing and then seeds should get planted and then the seedlings should get hardened off and planted and then:  it will be full-tilt small farm whirl-o-rama!