Spring is in the air…..

waterSpring is in the air at Olive Tree Farm…..

It’s planting time …

We have spent the last few months accumulating piles of  horse manure (courtesy of the local stables, Rancho Luz del Sol), which together with our own dung from the pigs, chickens and goats, added up to about a ton of fantastic fertiliser.

This has now been spread on our designated planting area, dug in with the aid of the rotovator and flooded with irrigation water In order to enrich the soil and get some moisture into the soil ready for planting.

In the greenhouse the seeds that we planted in January and February are now looking fantastic and are ready to be planted out next week and we have started a second sowing.

Currently we have 3 types of tomatoes (normal, giant and cherry), cucumbers, 3 different peppers, leeks, spinach, rocket, a number of different lettuces, strawberries and a selection of herbs.

We planted our first potato crop in November and over the last couple of weeks we have planted our succession crop. In addition to the normal planting in the ground we have decided to try out a new method – planting in old car tyres. Basically this consists of filling an old car tyre with soil, compost etc. and planting your seed potatoes. When the first leaves appear another tyre is put on top and filled with soil. This makes the job of ‘earthing up’ much easier and has the added advantage of saving a lot of space, which can be used for other crops.

The first crop of carrots, onions and garlic are looking good and should be ready to pick in the next couple of weeks and our broad beans are still going strong – we have been picking them for a good few weeks now and they are still producing.

Highs and lows …

On the animal front we had some bad news last week, when one of our newly acquired baby goats Scarlet, died. She was just 4 weeks old and we were bottle feeding her 3 times a day until she was ready to move on to solid food.

We had noticed that she had a little diarrhoea in the morning but put it down to the fact that she was still on a milk diet with no solids. When we checked on her at lunchtime, however, it was clear that she unwell. The weight had dropped off her in that short time and she was shivering.

We decided to take her straight to the vet, who told us that she had picked up an infection due to the changeover from her mother’s milk to the cow’s milk. Apparently this is quite common with baby goats and causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration.

The vet gave her an injection to stabilise her condition and told us to keep her warm, make sure she drank plenty of water and to bring her back the next day.

By the time we got her home and in front of the fire she had perked up a little and we hoped that we acted quickly enough.

Unfortunately later that evening she went downhill and despite all our efforts, including massaging her to keep her circulation going, getting as much liquid into her as possible with a syringe and eventually mouth to mouth resuscitation attempts, she died in our arms at about 1am.

I mentioned in the last article that our journey to self sufficiency included some steep learning curves and this has been the bitterest of them so far.

Molly and Lolly our black goatsThe good news is that her sister, Molly, is well and last week we bought another baby as a companion for her. Lolly is 6 weeks old and is fit and healthy and the two of them are great friends.

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