Oh July where you have gone? Crazy to think this month is nearing an end and next month the kids go back to school. July is usually the month where I harvest the most out of the garden. But not this year. I have not been into gardening this year. I planned it out, planted the seeds, mulched the tomato seedlings and that's pretty much it. Everything came up pretty good but the weeds came up too. Oh and the grasshoppers. Well, let's just say they were worse than last year and last year was bad. I had thought the super cold winter we had would have killed off some of the eggs but to no avail. They've stripped every plant in the garden down to just bare stems. Everything but the tomatoes. I've read tomatoes plants are toxic, that might be what's keep the grasshoppers away. The tomatoes are flourishing. I started twenty organic tomatoes from seed and now I can say there are hundreds of tomatoes back there.....mostly cherry tomatoes. One new variety I tried is called Organic Green Zebra and they are really pretty. It's hard to tell when they are ripe though. We'll see how they taste.
Every day I trot back to the garden and pick as many cherry tomatoes that I can fit in my t-shirt. Then I walk up to the goat pen and am treated to this sight.
Goats love tomatoes. GoatMan, there on the right, is nearly blind I think because he just snorts around with this mouth open until you put a tomato in it. Then there's Dym (the black one with her tongue sticking out), she could survive on nothing but tomatoes and would be quite a happy goat. Her offspring are learning to love produce by watching their mom eat it. I'm happy to say Heston survived his blocked urethra problem he had earlier this summer. He's now getting ammonium chloride daily sprinkled on his black oil sunflower seeds to prevent that from happening again. He's one lucky goat.
I then walk over to the tortoise pen and offer each tortoise a cherry tomato. They gobble them down. It's a special treat and one they get rarely since the majority of their diet is grass. The other day I had a melon that was past its prime so I chopped it up and went to see if the tortoises would be interested. Talk about a treat! I had to take it away or they would have eaten the whole thing. Here is Billy Bob, the young sulcata, and Big Guy the 30 year old leopard tortoise.
About a month and a half ago the kids found a few seed packets that I hadn't planted back in the garden. They really wanted to plant them so we decided to do so in some non traditional places (you know since the garden is a hot bed of insect activity). We planted the giant pumpkin seeds under the swing set. They don't get morning sun so I don't know if they will actually produce anything, but they are flowering right now so we'll see. The kids enjoy watching their progress as do I.
Last night I put on my gardening gloves and proceeded to catch as many grasshoppers as I could. I think I had about 12 in my fist when I finally called it quits. Do you want to know what I did with those grasshoppers? I fed them to these lovely laydies. Call it retribution for eating my garden.
I have six hens and they were looking pretty bad. It's kind of like a molt that would never end. So a few weeks back I decided to stop locking them up in their outdoor enclosure. I thought maybe if they were free ranging they would get the needed nutrients to stop looking like roadkill. Well after a few weeks now I can't say they look any better but they are much happier chickens. They stay in the fenced in goat pen in the walnut grove and lounge under the horse trailer during the heat of the day. There is not a single insect in that entire pen. They put themselves to bed every night in the hen house and I shut their little prop door every night at dusk to protect them from predators. It's a good arrangement for now.
That's about all that's happening in our back yard on this hot summer day.