Homesteading keeps you on your toes especially when you have live animals you need to care for. This is particularly important when the temps hit triple digits (like it did a couple weeks ago).
High temps demand that you take special care of the homestead menagerie as it puts added stress on the animals. This week, we had to deal with one of our bantam hens (now 6 years old) who was having trouble laying (can develop into something serious if the egg doesn't pass). We noticed that she was not running around with the others in the compound so we went over to inspect in order to determine what the problem was. She was trying to lay but was having a hard time of it. Not wanting to disturb her in this sensitive situation, we felt we'd give her some time; but, we kept a watchful eye, hoping that she wouldn't need assistance.
Well, turns out it wasn't an easy lay as she kept scrunching. After 10 minutes or so, we noticed she was prolapsing a bit. Guess the poor girl was stressed with the heat and needed some extra help. We couldn't let her continue on with this uncomfortable ordeal. We went into the house and got some hot water and gently placed her in the water "chest high" making sure her backside and belly were both under the water, while lightly stroking her lower area in a downwards motion. It worked, and within about a minute, out popped the egg and she was off to join her mates scratching for worms.
Whew, what a blessing!
This summer's harvest turned out better than last year - better tomatoes, cukes and beans. After harvesting over 2,000 pounds in the early first years, then in later years, 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 lb on 1/10 acre, we've been lax in weighing/tallying our harvest. I know, I know, record keeping is important. Heck, that's what got us where we are today. The past few years we've gotten busy and are starting to feel, after over a decade of record keeping, "been there, done that." I still think it would be nice to tally up and see how well (or not) the garden is growing.
We are facing new challenges as the garden grows into its 25th year. The biggest one is mostly with the front yard. Having turned the lawn into edible landscaping two decades ago, it's grown into a jungle. Young fruit trees have grown older and we are faced with the challenge of more shade in the front yard. Shade is a good thing, unless you are trying to grow sun lovin' veggies (which gives the most lbs per sq. ft).
It’s certainly difficult to mix edibles, annuals and perennials together. I heard that one of the main proponents of edible landscaping told attendees at one of her lectures that she tears out and replaces edibles every year. The first couple of years they “fit” nicely; but, then, bushes and trees get bigger and their shade circle grows. Yes, there is the forrest farming concept; but, try as we might, no tomatoes will ever grow in shade.
Alas, that means our front yard landscape will undergo yet another phase and stage. We like to show that edible landscaping can be “Pretty & Productive” but that does pose some challenges.
How has your matured garden brought you challenges in your growing efforts?