Checking in

I apologize for my absence of late. Aside from making mischief on other blogs, it’s Spring, and I’ve been pretty busy here at St. Isidore Ranch.

Late last month our only remaining Dexter cow, Camelia, gave birth to a bull-calf. He seems healthy and happy. We’ll have to emasculate him in several weeks. That’s another 300 lbs of beef for the freezer in 18-24 months.

In the past several weeks I’ve had to devote quite a lot of time to the orchard. I applied the Spring dosage of ammonium sulfate for nitrogen; painted the trunks with white latex paint to prevent sunburn and boer worm infestation; imported about three yards of composted soil to build mounds around the bases of the trees; performed maintenance on the irrigation system (cleaned the filter, replaced clogged emitters, did several test runs, etc.) before irrigating; clipped all twigs with leaves showing signs of peach leaf curl; and mowed. My two boys were a big help in getting all of this done. We seem to have an abundant crop of peaches and nectarines this year. The next few days will be spent thinning the crop by hand.

We just finished planting the garden in two fields. In preparation, we spread chicken and goat manure from last year’s compost pile; imported three yards of mulch; tilled and cross-tilled using the tractor and disc; and installed a drip irrigation system in the field south of the house (pressure was too low for overhead sprinkler watering). We planted cateloupe, watermelon, Crenshaw melon, Honeydew melon, zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant, peas, string beans, brussel sprouts, okra, tomatoes, and carrots.

On Monday I picked up our five goats in the foothills, all of whom have been visiting their favorite Boer buck. They are all pregnant and due in a couple of weeks. In preparation we spent several hours moving the electric netting out of the weeds (when the weeds get too tall they short-circuit the fence) and re-charging the solar energizer battery. Four of the five goats and will be milked this year, and the fifth is a meat goat. Angel, our Great Pyrenee, has been lonely and is glad to have her herd back.

The kids played their fiddles and keyboard at the Chico Farmers’ Market this evening, after listening to a Baroque organ performance at the university. It is such a blessing to have music in their lives.

Until next time …

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