February: Waiting for Babies

Desert Rose

So. Fat.

Rose is due to have her first babies on March 4th. I’m thinking she will kid sooner than that, don’t you? Every day her udder looks more developed, fills just a bit more. This isn’t MY first time attending goat deliveries, but sometimes first-time mama goats can have trouble, and I’m nervous.

Rose’s two sisters, Rain and Nomad, are also due sometime in March. Baby goats live in our kitchen for the first few days of their lives, so I’m getting towels and mops ready. Shoes in the kitchen will be a MUST. Also, coffee. And of course cameras.

White-eared Desert Nomad and Desert Rain, with the purple collar. Sheba, my black goat, will be bred in March.

Goat photos are hard to take. Goats are incurably curious and friendly, and a camera is super super fascinating to them. All the ones I took today went like this:

Run away, turn, shoot.
Check, while being pestered, to see if I got anything worth posting.
Distract again.

Another nope
Awwww….You guys are no help at all!

Now you know why that first photo is blurry. I have take what I can get, with goats.

Also, one of our Indian Runner ducks is sitting on eggs. They are due to start hatching tomorrow. She thought she’d hidden them pretty well when she left the nest briefly to get a drink. Not too bad really; I think there are about a dozen eggs hidden here.

Indian Runner duck eggs

I can’t stop myself from checking several times a day, and I’m sure I’m driving mama duck crazy. But last year I had a duck abandon the nest two days before they were due to hatch, and another let the eggs hatch and then ignored the babies. Most of them died before I could save them. So again, I’m nervous. I’ve had a few success stories, but Indian Runners aren’t known for their great parenting skills.

Stay tuned! I’m hoping for good news soon.

Also, these goats are ADGA registered, show-quality goats. Next post will have more information on pedigree and our plans for these babies.

Broccoli Harvest

Broccoli season here in the low desert is nearing its end. There is still more to harvest for a couple of weeks yet, but the plants are hurrying now to get their seeds set before the hot weather starts, and I’m hurrying faster to get my harvest ahead of them.

The last main head of broccoli, maybe 14″ in diameter

After the initial main head is harvested (above), the stem will heal and the plant will produce many side shoots.  These can be harvested and used just like the main head, but rather than the work of cutting and separating the main head, think of these side shoots being pre-cut for your convenience.

The cut made from the main head has healed and whitened. This plant has maybe ten side shoots, with more coming.

The shoots we usually eat are actually clusters of the buds of many, many small flowers. If I leave the shoots and don’t harvest them, the buds will burst into full flower and then eventually go to seed. The plant then becomes woody, bitter, inedible as it puts its energy into seed-making. As the weather warms the process goes faster and faster, and eventually I’m out there every day looking for new shoots to cut and eat before it’s too late.

Flowers of all plants in the cruciferous (cross-like) family have four petals. Cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, mustard, and many more are also in this family. All are cool-weather plants. The bees love them!

The flowers, leaves, and peeled stems are all edible; add the flowers to pretty up a salad, and then make a delicious broccoli-cheese soup with the leaves. If I know that the plant is an heirloom or open-pollinated variety, I might also let one plant mature its seeds for September planting.

Finally, when I’ve had all I want, the rest of the plant goes to the chickens for a much-needed calcium boost.