Devonviolet Acres

Devonviolet

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When I lived in PA, I met a 90 year old herbalist, who grew her own Comfrey. She allowed me to pick all the leaves I wanted to. As she got older (she died at the age of 92), she allowed me to dig up a few plants, which I grew in pots, on the back porch, since we lived in a condo, which didn't allow me to plant it on the grounds.

Here are some comfrey blossoms, from my porch, in PA.
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When we moved to Texas, I had to leave a lot behind, and the comfrey pot was one thing left behind.

Now that we are getting ready to start our garden, I wanted to add herbs, that are good for the chickens, ducks and goats. One that is good for the goats is, of all things, comfrey! :celebrate

It didn't take me too long to find someone, on eBay (I think), who sells 10 - 1" pieces of Cromfrey root. Since I want lots of comfrey for the goats, chickens and even the garden, I thought, if ten are good (and they don't cost that much), why not buy twenty. Besides not all will probably grow. So, I ended up with 20+8 skinny pieces, thatI wasn't sure would grow. But, what the hay?????

As directed, the day the root pieces arrived I put them in potting soil, in red, plastic, drink cups. I even planted the skinny little pieces that looked like they had been included by mistake. After about (I think) about two weeks, I was thrilled to see green leaves start to pop up out of the dirt! Now ALL of them have sprouted. So I have 28 comfrey plants to put out this summer.

I'm thinking since even tiny pieces of root will grow easily, I don't want to grow it near other vegetable plants. We have 5 acres, to choose from. So, I'm thinking I will plant theses a little further back, on the property, so they will be out of the way, yet still accessible.

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Devonviolet

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All that hard work!! Looks great, I expect to see lots of yummies growing in your garden!
Absolutely! Today is seed planting day. I have THOUSANDS of seeds to plant. I already started some a 11 days ago & now have Lavender, Echinacea, Sage and Winter Thyme coming up under the grow lights.
 
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Devonviolet

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I can't tell by the picture, but did you finish the entire 40x80?

Mary
Yes, we did the whole area . . . . and then some. We have Bermuda on the other side of the welded wire fence, in the back yard.

I didn't want that grass to grow back into the garden, so we did that too. It is an area about 15×8'. As i was doing it, I could envision a "kitchen herb garden". Since it is right by the back door, I think it would be a perfect place for my cooking (versus "medicinal") herbs.
 
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ninnymary

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Well that is amazing! You not only met your goal but you surpassed it! Good for you. Must be a great feeling to get all that work done. An herb garden by the kitchen door is always nice. Mine is a little ways from my door but I guess I can walk a little. ;)

Mary
 

Devonviolet

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In addition to the garden area, we took the sod cutter to the pasture behind the chickens & goats, and cut a 150 foot long strip.

Since we moved here, we have had a problem with flooding of our front acre, which includes the chickens, goats, house & garden area.

The highest spot, on the property, is about 500 feet back, with a difference of 3 or 4 feet' from that spot, to the road, which is on the other side, of the house.

Every time we get more than 1-1/2 to 2" of rain, everything floods, and we have had as much as 18" of water in our crawl space (Dec. of 2015).

So we cut a trench, hoping to divert the bulk of the water & minimize the flooding.

Here are some pics of the trenching:
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Devonviolet

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I’ve been gone for a while. :hide Since I last posted, we got a couple of dairy goats, who kidded (of course), and I got caught up with “goat math”. I LOVE my goats!!! Long story short. We have had gains and losses. But, we now have four dairy goats and a Myotonic buck:

Angelica - 21 months - LaMancha - Excellent dairy production with high butter fat - as much as 5% (normal is 3-1/2%). LaMancha’s also have good quantity, with as much as 1 gallon a day.
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Here is Angelica on the milk stand, last Fall, when I did my semi-annual maintenance. I want to get her used to being on the milk stand and being touched in the “nether regions” :lol: when the time comes to milking her. She isn’t the most affecionate of goats, but when she is on the stand, she rests her head in my hands and lets me love on her and kiss her. It just makes me melt! :love

Rosemary - Nubian - 12 months - Nubians are also excellent dairy goats, again with 5 to 5-1/2% butterfat. Good cow’s milk runs around 3-1/2 to 4. Although a good Jersey cow can give 5% butterfat. Nubians also give excellent quantity of 1+ gallons a day.
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Twiins faith and Hope - LaMancha - 9 months
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Danny Boy - Myotonic - 10 months
Myotonic goats (aka: Fainting Goats) are thought of as “cute”, do not actualy “faint”. They just stiffen up and fall over, when they are startled. The frequent stiffening of the muscles causes them to become larger than “normal” for goats. For this reason, Myotonic goats are considered a “meat goat”. By breeding a Myotonic goat with a dairy goat (which has long lean muscles), the kids come out being bettered muscled and can be used as a meat goat.

We put Angelica and Rosemary with Danny Boy back in October. Since Danny Boy was still not his mature size we cannot be certain that he was able to breedd them. However, after their November heat cycle, he seemed to have lost interest in them. So, it is highly possible that he bred them when we weren’t looking. If so, we are hoping for kidis in April - around the 22nd. :celebrate

Here are the 3 of them - from left to right: Danny Boy, Angelica and Rosemary
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In 2016, we had two LaMancha does in milk, and I started learning how to make cheese. :drool I now can make Mozzarella, Chevre, and Feta. This year I want to build a “cheese cave for aging cheese, and start making cheddar and asiago. YUM!!! We also bought a cream separator, and were also able to make goat butter. Since goat milk is not high in beta-carotene, it is very white, compared to cows milk. So, the butter is also white, which is a little strange at first, but yummy none-the-less. :drool

Last year, we lost both of our does :hit :hit So were not able to have any milk, which made me very sad. Ruby, one of our does, got sick, and delivered twin bucklings two weeks early. In spite my best efforts, they only survived a couple days. :hit :hit I cried a lot back then. Shortly after that, we lost Ruby. :hit

A couple weeks later, our second doe (Falina) delivered Faith and Hope. However, when she was dried off before delivering her kids, she developed mastitis, and we could not get it under control. So we had to cull her, which meant taking her to the butcher after she was feeling better. It is a hard fact of life on the farm. :hit Since Falina was not able to nurse her kids, we bottle fed them, and they have turned out to be the sweetest, most affectionate goats! I just adore them!!! :love
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Angelica is Falina’s daughter, from 2016. So, we now have three of Falina’s daughters. Rosemary came to us last year, on her 3 month birthday. She is the love of my (goat) life. I fell in love the first time I saw her photo on Craigslist. :love
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Our two AMAZING Maremma LGDs (Livestock Guardian Dogs) turned four last October and they continue to guard our animals. We have had them since Valentine’s day 2015 and we have never lost an animal to predators!

Here are their most recent photos:
Deo (short for Amadeo). Their father and grandfather were imported from the Abruzzi Mountains, in Italy, as puppies, so I gave both Italian names.
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He is just the sweetest thing! I think he adores me as much as I adore him! The last time I weighed him, he weighed 95 pounds. But I think he has gained some winter weight since then.

Here is Violet (Violetta in Italian). She is the alpha, of the two. She patrols the perimeter of the pasture and Deo stays close to the goats, and protects them. If Violet sounds the alarm, when a predator (usually coyotes) is near, Deo herds the goats into the goat shed and stands across the opening, to keep the goats safe until Violet stands down. Then he lets the goats out. A few times I have seen the goats take off for the shed, on their own, when Violet sounds the alarm. It’s so cool to see them all in action, working the plan. :celebrate
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During my time away, we increased our flock, from about 20 chickens to more chickens, LOTS of ducks and a beautiful pair of geese. This is getting too long, so I will save that for another time. For a number of reasons, we recently sold our “egg laying” ducks and the geese. I really miss them, but it was time to move a different direction. Now my focus is going to be on getting a garden up and running. More on that, later, as well.
 
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flowerbug

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i love garden stories. :) did the trench help? you can also swale (trench with a berm) on contour to help stop and sink water or to redirect it.

primarily looks like sandy soil there so keeping water out of a crawl space would be difficult during heavy rains.

we have a sump pump for our crawl space and it runs during the rainy times for a while but eventually it dries things out enough for it to stop running. the footings here are just on grade so that also helps. if they had been smart enough to put some clay berms along the outside before filling all around with sand i bet we could avoid 80% of what currently happens to need to be pumped back out. since it is sand pumping out doesn't stop things from coming back in. if it was clay it would slow it down quite a bit. i'm sure a membrane of some kind would also slow down a lot of it, but i'm not ready to get onto yet another project. :)

oh, and yes, we found comfrey is well loved by any herbivore (deer, wabbits, groundhogs...). i'm not even sure if what i planted about 5yrs ago survived this past season. a fence will go up if all plans work out...
 

Devonviolet

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Thanks for the input, @flowerbug! Yes, our water woes are an ongoing challenge here, on our property. By putting the sump pump in, we have managed to minimize water buildup in the crawl space. However, as much of the country has experienced, we have recently had a BOAT LOAD of rain here, and we see the sump kick in, with the drain hose running intermittently throughout the day.

When we get the rototiller fixed, we are planning to till the width of the house, running to the North side of the property. We will then use the loosened soil to build a berm, to redirect the water to the edge of the property, where we have a green space, that goes downhill to the roadside drainage ditch. So, we are hoping to minimize all the flooding, of the lower end of the property, where the house is. Had we been able to choose where to put the house, we would have put it at the TOP of the hill, rather than at the bottom, where all the rainwater runoff goes. :th

Another thing that the previous owners did, that we would have done differently, was to put one of the three aerobic septic discharge sprayers, UPHILL from the house. Hence, everytime it “discharged” it’s spray, the water ran under the house. :th So, we called the septic company, and they moved the required 3rd sprayer to right next to the road. So it runs into the ditch now. :celebrate

I just LOVE hearing someone's love story with their land and stock. :love
Yes, canesisters, I do love my land and my livestock. It never ceases to amaze me, that my capacity, for love, seems to increase with the addition of each animal!!! :love :love :love :love :weee:ya Just ask @baymule. She will attest to that!! She and I are SO much alike in that! We love our farm and we love our animals!!! Oh and our garden, of course!!! :lol:
 

Devonviolet

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Oh and @flowerbug . . . I forgot to answer your question about the trenching. No, it didn’t really work, as we had hoped. We knew that it would be best to berm on the back side of the trench, but just didn’t have the time, energy or dirt to berm. So it didn’t get done. We still open up small trenches, when it rains heavy enough to leave big shallow ponding on the land.

We were finally able to get rid of the bermuda grass though. The plastic sheeting didn’t work as well as we had hoped. When we finally removed it, the grass seemed to be gone, but the first heavy rain, found Bermuda sprouting nicely. :th

What finally rang the death knell for the Bermuda was the geese - Romeo and Juliet. They crave anything green, and managed to kill off the Bermuda, and all other green plants in the side yard, where we free range our birds. I really miss the green grass. So, as much as I loved having our geese, we decided they had to go.
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Of course this was when we first got them, when we still had grass. :love

Here are the Khaki Campbell, egg laying, ducks, that we recently sold, to the same lady, who bought our geese. You can see that all our grass has turned to dirt and when it rains, is all MUD. UGH!!! :th
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We had bought the ducks, so we would have duck eggs to sell. However, we learned, that people don’t want to try something new, and weren’t interested in trying duck eggs. Khaki Campbell ducks are bred for egg production, and can lay upwards of 320 eggs a year - EACH!!! So, as you can imagine, we had a LOT of eggs! I used them to bake my gluten free bakery items, but we still couldn’t use and sell all of them. So, we ended up donating them to the local food pantry. THEY really appreciated them. :)
 
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