Sheila the Hunter

Sheila is an awesome dog.  She guards the farm 24/7 and nothing gets past her.  However, she does have a rather disturbing habit of burying her kill in my raised garden beds.  She politely waits until they’re empty in the fall and winter, and  I never know what I’ll find in the spring when I start digging around and planting.  One spring it was a rabbit very neatly buried vertically, head down.  On more than one occasion it’s been a woodchuck.  They’re big and nasty to haul away.  Her latest surprise for me was an armadillo.  We were working on our garden beds this weekend and smelled a dead animal, and eventually found an armadillo partially buried in one of the beds.  No small stuff for her, she goes for the big kill.  Maybe she thinks she’s composting.

Cotton Pickin’ Time

It’s cotton picking time here in Tennessee, and I believe it may be a little later than normal this year, probably because of the drought we had earlier this summer.  I don’t know much about cotton except from my own personal observations after living here for 8 years.  Cotton is a major crop for Tennessee, but Tennessee is not a major cotton producing state.  Too mountainous for crops in most parts of the state.  There are scattered cotton fields around where I live, and I know when they start picking in the fall because my house fills up with these ladybug look-alikes.  They’re everywhere, they dive-bomb us when we ride our horses and they will bite.  I get piles of them around my windows in the house and when I vacuum them up they stink.  A guy who works in pest control once told me they were introduced in the fields years ago as predators to the boll weevil.  The roadsides have cotton strewn all along them from cotton being hauled to a cotton gin, and if it wasn’t 70 degrees outside you’d swear it was snow.

The cotton fields look like a dusting of snow.  I’ve also learned since living here that cotton is one of the hardest crops on the soil as it takes so many nutrients out of it, and it’s also one of the most heavily sprayed crops.

Down to One

This is the time of year when I start to dry up the goats.  I try to milk them as long as I can before it gets too cold, and this morning’s icy cold chill in the air made me realize the time is getting close.  I had already dried one of them up a couple months ago (the Alpine pictured above, Cypress) because she was run down from her twin bucks last spring and just wasn’t gaining weight and giving very little milk anyway.  Today I stopped milking my other Alpine as she was only giving enough to feed the cats.  That leaves me with Fanny, my Oberhasli, who is still giving about half a gallon a day.  I’ll probably tough it out milking her until the end of the month if I can so I can make a couple more batches of cheve and feta.  At any rate, she’ll have to be dried up the first of January so she has two months to rest before she kids in March.

The cats will miss their morning milk!

Perfect Fall Weather

Some would not agree, but today was my kind of perfect fall weather.  Very cool, around 50, overcast, everything all damp and wet from last night’s light rain.  It’s the kind of day I just want to curl up with a good book by a fire with a cup of tea and a bowl of hot soup.  But of course that’s not to be when you have gardens and animals to tend before going to a “real” job in the afternoon.  So this election day I spent the morning doing my usual chores–feeding horses, chickens, dogs, cats, milking goats, cleaning stalls and then I went to the garden to see what I could find.

Oregano is still going strong.  I need to cut and dry some more soon.

Snow peas are coming on beautifully.  I picked a bunch (and ate a bunch).  They’re so sweet and crunchy and delicious!

I’m still picking raspberries!  They’ve been producing since July almost nonstop.

And no trip to the garden would be complete without a herd of cats following me!