I have been dreaming of home grown garlic for a long time. But for one reason or another, we've just never grown it. Last year I decided that enough was enough and it was time for our own garlic bed. So I ordered a few different garlic heads to try. You can actually use the cloves that you find at the grocery store. They can be planted and grown just fine at home. But I wanted to try a couple of different varieties. So I ordered 4 large heads from Territorial last spring: Spanish Roja, Siberian, Sevilla Sunset and Music. When one plants garlic, it's desirable to plant in the fall, allow the heads to over winter in the garlic bed then harvest the next season. It just takes garlic awhile to get going. Warm weather speeds growth and cool weather slows growth but the cloves do continue to grow, just at a slower pace. But here at my house, we have a horrible problem with voles. Last year they ate almost my whole potato harvest and lots of other veggies. Well, that can't happen to my garlic......as a matter of fact, this really can't happen anymore at all. We just cannot loose valuable food to rodents. Someday, we might completely have to depend on the garden to feed us so I have to figure out a way to combat these voracious eaters now. So after a little research, I decided to plant the garlic as early as possible in the spring and harvest as late as possible in the fall just so that the voles don't have a huge garlic eating festival under the snow all winter long. (Successful garlic an be grown this way but the heads aren't nearly as big as if they were over wintered.) But my beloved husband, understanding my plight and feeling a little sorry for me and becoming pretty tired of hearing me belly ache about the (stinking) voles, built these raised beds and (tu dum) my problem was solved! No more voles in the root veggies......at least not the garlic......at least I hope. Since my initial plan was to plant in the spring and harvest in the fall, I had already started the bulbs inside under lights to give them a jump on the season. I had over 50 cloves so it took some time to replant all these guys, but now they are safely tucked into the ground to grow and get fat and make garlic magic.
Good help is hard to find.
Thank goodness for the red puppy. Her recommendations are indispensable.
We also have a keenness for onions. I usually purchase a 50# bag of storage onions in the fall before the local fruit stand closes for the season and it is often empty by March. So this year we planted our own in the bed with the garlic. We have Walla Wallas, an un-named red variety and two flats of yellow storage onions. (Onion seeds are a little hard to find unless they are ordered. Of course, I didn't remember to order onion seeds when I placed my order this last fall so I had to buy most of these as starts. But I did find a packet of "bunching" onion seeds. They came up pretty vigorously under lights in the basement so I'm not sure what to expect. I just planted them along side the other onionlings. I guess we'll see how they turn out.)
No self respecting vole would come close to this bed of loved globes. They don't look like much now.....actually, the onions and garlic look pretty pathetic, but give them a little sunshine and a little rain and watch them grow! Mmmmm. I can smell (my breath) them now! Yum!
Beneath this warm mass of fur is a pile of 5 small, spotted, hairless bunnies. They are all entwined together, snuggled under fur that the female has pulled from her body to keep them warm and safe. They will stay snuggled under there for 10 days or so until their eyes begin to open and their little bodies begin to hair out. The mother rabbit will jump into the nesting box once or twice a day to allow the kits to nurse. Her milk is concentrated with the perfect combination of nutrients on which her litter will thrive with only a couple of nursings a day.
Only one out of the three females gave birth. The other two did not produce a litter. A loud noise or a large fright can sometimes interrupt a pregnancy and the females will not deliver. I'm not sure why but sometimes this happens. All the does are three so it's not related to age. We'll give them a week or two to rest, then re-breed. In the mean time, these five guys will grow and mature seemingly over night. Before you know it, they will be jumping around the cage pestering their patient mother and each other like siblings are apt to do.
My beloved husband came home from the Great White North and built a proper coop door. It's wonderful in that it's very sturdy and the green panel comes off exposing a whole door of just chicken wire. This will be good for summer when it's really hot and the animals must stay inside. The rabbits suffer in any temps above 80 degrees. So this will be nice for them. Of course any mammal that would eat a rabbit could just blow through the screen door but hopefully, with the red puppy leaving her mark all around the property, we won't have to deal with predators breaking and entering.
We painted it like the farmers used to do with a big white "X" on the outside so you can see if the door is closed across the pasture. Of course the coop is just across the yard from the house so it's not a stretch of the eyes to see if the door is closed. But so what! I like the look of the big white "X". It makes me feel like a real farmer. And that's what it's about!
Three of our four Rex does are "with kit" and will soon deliver. Rabbits have only a 28-32 day gestational period and while they can re-breed within a day of delivery, it's really hard on the does to be carrying a litter while nursing a litter at the same time. Sometimes the number of kits can be 6-10 in a single batch! So we don't keep our bucks in the same cage as the females for that reason.
It has been such a mild spring that we might be able to get two- three litters this year instead of one. I don't breed our girls in the winter or early spring as it's usually very windy and cold in the winter and chilly and damp in the spring. I just don't want to stress the rabbits that much. Plus I really don't want to feed all those babies with store bought food. I'd rather feed them greens from our abundant pastures. But the pastures don't green out with much spark until the end of April or May. So we wait. This year has been exceptionally mild. We might just get a couple of litters before the snow flies again!
At 3-4 pounds a bunny after 12 weeks~ that's a lot of quick meat!
We have lots of GREAT things going on here at Mountain Harvest Farm! These greatness-es will each have their own post but let me show a few pics to get the ball rolling!
We now have pigs! Three little pigs! (Well, they're not too little any more. The only thing growing faster than these pigs on this farm are our children!)
We now have a much larger garden spot AND raised beds!!! Two of them (so far)!!!!
My beloved made the chicken coop door- a REAL chicken coop door!!!
We have more chicks. 10 of them! (I bunched them up in the same bin to show all at one time.)
And, see this spot~ This area will have fruit trees planted here~ maybe by the end of this month as well! Plus, we might, probably, hopefully, have a PERIMETER FENCE before this month is over!!!! (At least we will have the posts in place.) Yeay! This is great news because the fencing allows for bigger animals; one's that fit into our sustainable food program. Double Yeay!