The Dog Days of Summer

Author Photo
By Malisa Niles | Jul 3, 2012

I had to break into my stash last night. It has been a stressful week here on the farm.  I had been so good, but I couldn’t take it anymore. But I needed something to make it through night chores and frozen chocolate bar tasted so good.

This weekend we were hit with the start of a heat wave, had a birthday party for my 6 year old, had a BBQ celebrating a friend’s new dream job, and had my normal farm chores, of course. The heat wave cost us so far 3 young rabbits, and a flock of 11 newly hatched guineas. The rabbits were a surprise since they never lacked water and were in the shade, but the heat and humidity were too much. We also had 19 kids running about which might had added to their stress. I now have put fans on the rabbits’ cages, add ice a couple times a day to their water dishes, and have created a kids free zone around the rabbits until the temperature drops. 
Today was the hottest day so far, and they did well. I cannot let my guard down yet. It’s not supposed to cool down until this weekend.

We took a couple days and went to the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Fair in Custer WI. It was an invaluable experience. I attended sessions on beekeeping, food preservation and chickens, but spent most of my time in the children’s area going to sessions with my girls on nest building, snakes, turtles, making necklaces, play dough and learning about music. My husband attended sessions on renewable energy, especially focusing on solar and wind systems.

I got the electric fence around the goat pasture Friday and my husband, Rick, moved the goats in Saturday. There is a saying in the goat world that goats spend 90% of their days planning an escape and 10% executing the plan.  I believe this is true. I didn’t have one escape until Sunday night at the last bit of light at dusk. We put her (Rose) back in. Five minutes later she was out. It was too dark to see where she was getting out so I just tied her up in the pasture in the shelter. In the morning, I untied her and she showed me in less than 3 minutes how she got out. She kept calling to the other goats to follow her.  I will need to add another electric line to
the top of the fencing, making 4 lines. Pretty soon, a garter snake won’t get through.

The garden is doing well. I finished planting potatoes last week. I think I put in 131 hills. A friend asked me what I was thinking and I confessed I am an idiot. A couple hills just kept multiplying, the grocery store gave me 30+ lbs of seed potatoes they were going to toss out, and I had room in the garden……. The corn and tomatoes look good. I didn’t have 1 carrot come up, so replanted. My fingers are crossed. I didn’t think my white beets came up so I replanted them. I later found out that I had planted them over a row. I guess I will have plenty of beets. I have quite a few volunteer pumpkins and watermelons coming up in the sweet corn. They are located where the pig pen was last year. Guess he missed a couple of seeds. It works, since I hadn’t planted any. I live in a county that is the melon capital of the state and have friends that grow melons professionally so have lots of access to acres of melons. I barter them for eggs. I still have a clunk (15 ft. by 40 ft.) of tilled area to plant. I am going to put in fodder beets for livestock feed. They are short seasoned and good filler.

The Niles’ family added another animal species to the farm. We got a puppy. I had been researching dogs for a year, and thought it would be a good time to add one. I had deer tracks through my garden which is within 100 ft. of my house. She is a Vizsla puppy. She, Sugar, has been a good addition to the family. I have been working with her so she understands the difference between farm animals and wild animals. Vizslas are hunting dogs, pointers to be exact. She hasn’t bitten a chicken , yet. I pray she continues to do so well. She has more patience than I do, The broilers are driving me nuts. I still have 19 that need to be butchered and 53 others that will be ready in a couple weeks. They are under foot, into everything and messy. There are a couple of the ready to goes that are the size of a turkey. We have been either too busy or it has been too hot. Saturday is supposed to be cooler so I hope to do them then. 

Ohh the dog days of summer. 

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