Humble Garden

ReSkilling for future food independence

Archive for March, 2009

Frugal seed starting

Posted by Nika On March - 22 - 2009

Humble Garden: DIY flat dividers - cabbage starts

Like diapers for babies, it seems like there is no end to the doo-dads and supplies one needs when starting seeds indoors.

My brassica seeds rocketed into sproutdom WAY faster than I imagined they might and I was caught without a means for transplanting the soil blocks to a larger size. I cant really afford to get the larger soil blocker and I didnt have any larger containers right away so I figured I could use an excess diaper box to jury-rig something to transplant the seedlings into.

I was exhausted by the end of this DIY project because I could not find my exacto-knife (DH put it somewhere “safe” and now lost) so I used a pair of KID scissors.. use the knife.

The main hack here is to cut skinny rectangles and then some slots so that they for a grid that fits in the black tray.

Humble Garden: DIY flat dividers - cabbage starts

Add soil.

Humble Garden: DIY flat dividers - cabbage starts


Humble Garden: DIY flat dividers - cabbage starts

Humble Garden: DIY flat dividers - cabbage starts

Humble Garden: DIY flat dividers - cabbage starts

White House Victory Garden, Victory!

Posted by Nika On March - 20 - 2009

White House Victory Garden

The White House made a splash yesterday by announcing it’s plans to grow a victory garden on the White House lawn!

Obamas to Plant White House Vegetable Garden” – NYT

If you surf the garden blogosphere you would know that there has been a web based campaign for this very outcome for a couple of years now!

Namely, the Eat the View effort over at the Kitchen Gardeners International site, by Roger Doiron!

Eat the View - Victory!!

Its exciting times and I could NOT be more proud of our first family. This will really be a beautiful beginning to an even more widespread movement to grow your own!

Rye’s newborns!

Posted by Nika On March - 19 - 2009

Kidding 2009: rye babies

So for the past week, we had been watching Rye VERY closely but she seemed to be taking her own sweet time.

Last night my husband had to go to a school board meeting and I was feeding the kids. When he got home he checked on the goats and found that Rye had given birth to two little guys, with no help at all!

She did a fantastic job!

One – who looks just like his dad Flax – is named Flax, Jr. and the other goatlet is called Frederick (I have no real idea why). They are both just too darn cute.

Enjoy the photos!

Kidding 2009: daddy flax

(Daddy Flax)

Kidding 2009: rye babies

Kidding 2009: rye babies

Kidding 2009: rye babies

Kidding 2009: rye babies - Frederick

Kidding 2009: rye babies - Frederick

Kidding 2009: rye babies - Frederick

Kidding 2009: daddy flax

(Daddy Flax)

Flax, Jr. was being shy, will get more shots of him another day!

Birth, renewal, healing

Posted by Nika On March - 16 - 2009

From the last post you learned of our tragedy, losing one of our sweethearts, Wheatie.

Her emergency set the whole herd (8 other goats) on edge. We had just given away one of our two bucks (he was too aggressive and an aggressive horned goat is not a fun thing) so the herd dynamics were already in flux.

The does could tell something was up. One in particular, Millet, seem to miss her friend. She was wandering around and seemed to be looking for something.

Well, this wasn’t so much about missing Wheatie but about Millet being in labor. She was separating herself from the herd (labor sign), getting that 1,000 yard stare (labor sign), and looking restless (labor sign).

My oldest daughter came and got me, saying that Millet was showing the bubble (see this sit for details on goat labor) so I flew out to the goat shed to find Millet scratching at the hay, making a nest (labor sign) and a bubble showing (impending delivery sign).

So I ran around the enclosure to get through the two gates and arrived at the shed just in time to kneel by Millet, smear my hands and arms up to my elbows with betadine solution and get towels arranged as the first kid presented.

A little hoof began to show, then the face (with tiny little tongue sticking out) and then the second hoof – perfect presentation. I tugged on the little hooves as Millet contracted and very soon, the first baby was born. I took the baby into my arms and cleared it’s little tiny mouth (with tiny little teeth!) and tapped it’s sides to help clear the lungs.

I scrubbed the baby to dry and then lay her down next to Millet so that Millet could clean her newborn. Soon, I was doing the same for the second one. It took quite a long time for the placentas to pass but they did with little fanfare on Millet’s part.

Millet Babies - day 2

My oldest daughter named these newborns Calliope and Felicity.

We had another goat who was showing signs but we were not certain. Her name is Amaranth and she is our smallest goat. We figured she only had one baby on board.

After the Wheatie experience, the exhausting experience of wrestling our buck as the vet castrated him and then the kneeling for Millet, my left leg was is paroxysms of pain and cramps for days.

Needless to say, Amaranth was my next challenge. Because of the pain, we moved Amaranth to the basement so that I could tend her in warmth, instead of the mid teens F outside.

We had Ama in the basement with another doe – Rye – to watch them both. Rye was so bothered by Ama that we took Ama back out to the cold shed and I just KNEW that meant she was going to go soon (I think they HATE the basement).

Sure enough in an hour or so, we heard this REALLY loud blood curdling scream that I am sure must have freaked out the neighbors. I run out without a coat to find Ama with a baby already partly out – one leg and a face (and tiny tongue!). The baby was not coming out easily – Ama is such a petite goat.

With her next contraction, I was able to pull the baby into this world. Wow, what a healthy baby! I repeated the post-delivery process and the rest was uneventful.

Amaranth's kid - Luna

This baby was named Luna. She is bigger than Millet’s babies because she was a singleton and wow she is furry.

Obviously, the photo gallery you see at the top of this post shows these three goat babies!

There will be more, no doubt, stay tuned!

RIP Wheatie, our sweet goat girl

Posted by Nika On March - 11 - 2009


(Wheatie on the right, the blond one, when she was a baby)

Today we learned just how bad obstetrical emergencies can be.

In the morning, my oldest daughter came running in from the goat shed saying that Wheatie was giving birth. I ran out ready to assist but could see right away, with my untrained eye, that things were desperately amiss.

It looked like a large amount of tissue had come out (was on its way out) but no kid. We called our goat mentor and she came flying over to see that, indeed, this was not normal. The goat was definitely in pain. That pain must have been immense, I feel the most horrible for that.

We were thinking it could be a missed pregnancy and that this was the placenta. That was the best outcome but very wrong.

The vet finally came and he said he had not ever seen this in a goat, once in a sheep and once in a horse.


Essentially, what happened was that the cervix had separated from the vaginal wall. When the vaginal structure prolapsed, it took the abdominal mesentery with it, releasing the now severed uteri with large kids into the abdominal cavity. This is a fatal condition and I am not sure yet what it might be called.

We knew she was in pain. We also knew there was some possibility that kids may still be alive so the vet gave the goat ketamine, removed the kids and our goat mentor and I proceeded to try to resuscitate them. Its possible that the babies passed away some time before, they were completely unresponsive and essentially gone.

We have lost a precious sweethearted goat that we loved as a dear pet.

Now I have to gird the loins or buck up and try to face the other 6 next deliveries. Am crossing my fingers we don’t ever have to go through this again, ever.

Before the vet left I had him castrate the buck. We will have a large enough herd after this kidding season. We love the buck like a pet too. Since the vet was already here, it was not that expensive (we have already spent A LOT of money on vet bills today)

goat shed built today, chicken run finished

(Wheatie, as a baby, with her sister Millet)

Spring is for Labor

Posted by Nika On March - 6 - 2009

Humble Garden 2009: pregnant with 3 or 4

Sure spring is a time for cleaning the garden and mucking out the animal housing but this year, for us, spring is all about obstetrical labor, and most definitely NOT mine.

We bred our 8 dairy LaMancha goats last fall and it looks like 7 of the 8 are expecting. Our wonderful goat mentor came to visit us the other day and felt their furry little selves and she thinks that all but one seem to be carrying and one, that you see above named Millet, may be be carrying 3 or 4 kids.

I know EXACTLY how Millet feels. Soon, though, it will be over and then she will be caring for them for a few days as they get their colostrum and then we start milking her (and bottle feeding the infants).

I will be sharing photos of that craziness in coming days and weeks!

About Me

We are a family of 5, including Nika, Ed, Q (14), KD (7), and Baby Oh (4). We garden 1024 square feet of raised beds plus assorted permacultural plantings. We also have 13 LaMancha dairy goats, 40 chickens, and one guard llama.



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