Monday, May 9, 2011

Thor, Malamutes and The Market

8:53 PM
Malamutes always seem to warrant road trips. 

Thor, Haegl and Kira (in background)
I don't exactly understand why that is, but Malamutes seem to have the ability to pull me great distances to adopt them.  Such was the case with Mishka when we took a long road trip to pick her up in Kansas.  Such is the case with Thor, our newest Malamute, who was in Great Falls.  He came from the Fort Belknap Reservation, found running with a group of feral dogs.  Poor guy had porcupine quills stuck in his muzzle and mouth that had gotten infected.  He still has lumps and scars from the thing.  Poor guy.

The good news is that he's so far getting along with most of the other dogs.  We've had a few small spats, but nothing that would yet qualify for  scary Malamute fight.  As you can see in the picture on the left, he's doing pretty good.

Thor is simply gigantic; that's the only way to describe him.  We measured him to be 30 inches at the shoulder, which is huge for a Malamute, where the standard is about 25 inches.  Still, he's well proportioned.  He's still a puppy and still has growth plates, which means he'll get taller yet.  Probably only a half inch or so. 

The lady who worked for Malamute rescue was so in love with him, but her big male Malamute hated him.  Our male, Haegl, is pretty nonchalant about everything, but is a little taken aback by his size.  Thor isn't sure of Haegl's intentions, so it's kind of important to keep the peace.

Thor also made me violate my own rules as to wake up times.  I wanted to go to the Farmer's Market, and so ended up getting up early.  When I was there, I discovered that this was the second market of the season.  To my surprise, the first market happened April 30th in the snow.  Geez!

I got salad greens, bok choy, salsa, guacamole, potatoes (cold storage), cheeses, butter, bacon, ground buffalo, a beef roast, a pork roast, and some awesome sesame balls with bean paste in them.  These are my very favorite, so I asked the seller if he was selling it all summer.  He said yes!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cold Frames, Chicks and Nick

4:13 PM
Last summer, we built cold frames to grow vegetables during the winter.  Well, the best intentions of mice and men.  Yesterday, I broke down and got enough dirt to fill one frame and bought some plants at the local organic store.  I picked up a lettuce mix, marjoram, lemon thyme, and ginger mint.  I also had some seeds, so I followed the square foot gardener recommendations and planted those as well as more heirloom varieties of lettuce, carrots, bush beans, and onion sets.

Cold Frames
I then closed up the cold frame and called it good.  You see, cold frames are mini greenhouses and keep the warmth of the sun in.  So, even though it's cool and about 50-60 right now, and is around freezing at night, the seeds should sprout and the plants should grow. 

Creating the cold frames were cheap and easy.  I went to the recycle store, Home Resource, in Missoula, and found some lumber that would suit my needs as well as two single pane windows.  The frames are basically boxes without bottoms with one side taller than the other.  The single pane window sits on top of the frames. 

I already had grasses growing inside the frames, so I took the weed whacker to them and used the grass as green mulch and spread the dirt on top of them.  Yeah, I'll probably have some weeding to do when it comes up, but that's okay.  You can see the unprepared one in the background where I had just taken the weed whacker to it.  I'll be picking up top soil and laying down the rest of the plants I get from the market this weekend.
Barnevelders and Cornish Xs

I should've started this earlier, but given the wonky weather, I'm lucky I got anything to start.  I figure I'll probably use the frames this year for most of the plants and plan on growing into November or better.  It's really odd that up here a few hundred feet makes a huge difference with growing.

I got my chicks from various places.  I so wanted Barnevelders and I got them this year.  Yay!  I picked up 15 Barnevelder chicks (12 poults and 3 cockerels).  I lost one chick, don't know what sex.  I got 4 feathered legged cuckoo marans cockerels as "packing peanuts."  I then went to the feed store and picked up two turkeys, two Cayuga ducks, and eight Cornish Crosses (meat birds).  I had ordered a mix of ducks, geese and turkeys, but the turkeys kept dying from that lot and I lost two ducks in transit.  But I do have five lovely ducks (two Pekins and three Rouens) and two goslings (African or Toulouse) from that.

Barnevvelders and Cornish Xs
 I kept losing the shipped turkeys.  Don't know why, but they seem to be extraordinarily fragile.  After a while, I just decided to ask for a refund.  Very annoying.  Even so, everyone is doing really well.

Geese, Ducks, Turkeys
On a sad note, Nick the llama passed on.  We're not quite sure why, but it may have had to do with his age or he might have eaten something bad when he escaped.