As usual, spring is a very busy time of year around the homestead. The garden is growing great! We finished harvesting the peas and garlic, and the wheat is just about ready to harvest. All of our spring seedlings are now vigorous healthy plants: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, corn, squash, sunflowers, eggplant, green beans, and potatoes. All of the fruit trees and grapevines are covered in young fruit so figs, peaches, apricots, plums, apples, pears, and grapes will be ready soon. We can’t wait for the spring harvests and having fun preserving and canning all of the food!
During the last few months, we have been building a small barn. Our design was based on this plan from the University of Tennessee Extension. We ended up changing the geometry of the trusses, modified the doors, added a cupola, and extended the roof edge on the front side of the building; otherwise, the overall layout was largely the same as the plan dated from 1970. The barn will provide much needed storage space as well as a place to milk goats in the future. After just a few more coats of paint and some other finishing touches, the barn will finally be complete!
Speaking of goats, we recently had the opportunity to visit a local farm, Black Mesa Ranch in Snowflake. The couple who live here raise a large herd of Nubian dairy goats, and during our visit, we learned about their ranch and business. They make delicious, fresh goat cheese and other goat milk treats (chocolate, truffles, fudge) which can be purchased locally at Whole Foods. We had a great time at their ranch and drove home even more inspired to have goats of our own someday!
We are also excited to announce our next new project… raising tilapia! This has been one of our self-sufficiency goals for awhile so we recently purchased a 200 gallon glass fish tank from a local auction. If you would like to know more about raising fish for food, please check out this book about aquaponic gardening. We hope to get the tank set up and stocked with fish soon so stay tuned for articles detailing our aquatic adventures!