Raising Roses

Queen Elizabeth rose

For many years now, I have grown and loved roses. However, I have always bought my roses as rose sticks which are rose plants that have lost their foliage in the winter time. This year, I am finally going to get to do something different.

For four years, I have been trying to get my rose plants to grow a seed pod like this one:

Rose seed pod

Four years ago, My favorite rose plant grew one. I was so excited! But, it grew it near the path. I had company over a few days later, and…you guessed it…..the seed pod was plucked prematurely. So I wasn’t able to harvest any rose seeds four years ago.


This year though, one of my roses created a seed pod again, and no one picked it prematurely! So, last week, I cut it off of the plant. This is what the opened seed pod looked like:

opened rose seed pod

I’d never gotten to see the inside of one before.

Rose seeds
The rose seeds

I will be planting these  in a clear salad container and putting them in an area with a northern exposure. Hopefully, in March, I will have little rose plants ready to transplant. They will be cross bred roses because I don’t have two of the same kind of roses. So, each rose will be unique and it will be a case of rose surprise on what the flowers look like.


Little bundles of joy

A few weeks ago, my Dad mentioned something exciting to me. Dad is the one who milks most of the time. While he was at the milking stand, he noticed that the does are now at the point where their babies are moving and kicking. He was having fun teasing the little ones in utero.

We always look forward to the birth of the babies. They are so cute and so sweet! Plus our does go back into full milk production once they’ve had their kids, which in goats is called kidding. It can be frustrating waiting for the babies to make their appearance though, because kidding, as in teasing, gets it’s name, I’m sure, through the kidding actions that goats go through when they are positioning their babies. I’ve had many nights that we were sitting up with a goat until 3 in the morning because she acted like she was about to have her babies. It really did look like the real thing! Then, at 3, she yawns, looks like she’s saying “Nice of you all to come keep me company for the evening, but I think I’m ready for bed now.” And off she dozes and usually starts snoring.

The way that you know when a doe is getting close to kidding, is by feeling near her tail and watching her vulva. She will have the area around her tail get very soft to the point that you can gently grip her tailbone through her rump. An hour or half hour before the babies are born, ours also lose the mucus plug and you’ll see a stream of something hanging from their rears. At that point, watch them closely, the birth is near.

Oakley at birth

Kidding and lambing is one of those times on the farm that can be wonderful and difficult at the same time. I mentioned lambing too because we used to have Shetland sheep. I remember one of the sweetest and most difficult lambing I ever had to deal with.

My mother thought she heard and ewe in distress over our monitor to the barn. She went out to check and when she came back, both the ewe and my Mom were in distress! It was a bad situation. The ewe like I mentioned, was a small Shetland ewe, who had been bred to a significantly larger breed of sheep. All of our Shetland ewes had. So far, every lamb born that year had to be pulled because they were all too large. This girl had the worst situation of any of the girls that year.

When I felt for the baby, I found a extra large lamb, and a twisted uterus. There was no way this ewe was lambing without lots of help. I kept hold of the baby as best I could and asked my family to flip the ewe, but to stop the second I told them to. The first direction we tried, I could feel things tightening on me. They stopped, and we rolled her the other way. Sweet release! I could feel her opening up and the baby slid to me. Unfortunately, that baby wasn’t breathing. I tried swinging it in the air to clear lungs and maybe stimulate it to breath. No luck! I have never done CPR on any animal before and I thought the idea was pretty disgusting .

However, Mom was starting to cry and I couldn’t stand that. CPR it was. In just a matter of minutes, that lamb took a breath. The little ewe lamb was off and going to live. I never expected to get attached to a sheep, but Lucky as we named her, took me as her human. I think she almost liked me as well as her own mother. Later on, she became leader of the flock, and the skittishness that Shetlands usually have, disappeared. With Lucky leading, the flock calmed down significantly. The sheep are gone now, because we didn’t have enough time on our hands to completely process wool and were literally wool gathering, but Lucky will always remain a fond memory.

Lucky as a lamb
Lucky as a lamb.

This year, we have a doe that I am really looking forward to seeing kid out and milking her. We have one who bagged up without ever having been bred, and she gave a cup of milk a day from 3 months old on. I think she is going to be amazing and I look forward to seeing those babies as well.

Buried Treasure

Jerusalem artichokes1
Jerusalem Artichokes in flower

The Jerusalem artichoke looks like a clump of dry weeds in the winter, but there’s treasure underneath.

dried artichoke clump 1
A clump of dried Jerusalem artichokes

My Dad and I went out recently to harvest a few for dinner. When Dad dug up the roots, you could see a mass of artichokes underneath. We pulled apart some of the clump, and found more of the artichokes loose in the area where the clump had originally been.

Artichokes in a clump
The buried artichokes that have now been unearthed.

Dad brushed the dirt off of them and took them inside to wash. Once they were washed, and the dirt was carefully scrubbed off while leaving the peal intact because there’s a lot of nutrients in the peal, they were boiled 3 times in fresh water each time. We boiled them three times because if you don’t boil them in fresh water 2-3 times, you’ll have death by gas. Boiling them seems to cut down on the gas drastically.

Jerusalem artichokes2

Gas aside, they have an interesting name. I naturally assumed the first time that I heard of them that they must be from Israel. Nope, guess again. As far as I’ve been able to find out, the Jerusalem artichoke which is also called a sunroot, came from North America and was taken around the world by traders. It’s suspected that it became known as the Jerusalem Artichoke thanks to the Italian word girasole which means turning to the sun. English speakers apparently tried to say what they thought they heard, and came up with Jerusalem artichoke.

They are very good, and can be used to substitute for Irish potatos if you cook them enough. I have heard though that there are some people who even with triple boiling them, still have stomach troubles, so it is best to try just a small amount of them to start with.

To keep them safe

Commando and Llana
Commando isn’t headless or dead. He’s just a goof ball and this is how he likes to sleep.

Well, we spent our New Years Day doing something a little unusual. For years, we have had problems with our livestock guardian dogs chasing cars. We do live out in the country, but unfortunately, we live on a paved road. That means that we have plenty of traffic.

We really do need the dogs though because we have bears and coyotes and mountain lions in our area by way of mammal predators. Avian predators, we have eagles and owls. So, the dogs really do help keep our animals safe. They even guard our small dogs to make sure that no large bird carries one off. Pixie is the rat terrier on the left. Belle is the senior beagle on the right.

We’ve tried using a variety of methods to retrain our dogs to not chase cars. Unfortunately, we’ve found the the Pyrenees and Pyrenees mixes seem to always go after cars. Anatolians won’t, unless you have a Pyr mix as well.

One of the methods that we tried to use to break them of the habit, aside from letting them out for a while only when we could watch them, and scolding if they started after a car, was we did resort to trying a shock collar to save their lives. We’ve lost 2 dogs to cars in ten years. Bravo in the picture below, was one of them. We’ve never really gotten over losing him.

Bravo Guerrero and Dad
Guerrero on the left and Bravo, his dad on the right. They preferred being out with people and animals even though they have the option of the barn.

Fencing with a regular fence doesn’t work. The dogs jump it. The shock collar did get their attention, but our Pyr/Kommondor mix learned that if she doesn’t bark and only chases when we can’t see her, she doesn’t get a correction.

So, this New Years Day was spent working on installing an invisible fence which we really, really hope works.

We suspect it will, judging by their reaction to the shock collar. It will take training to teach them where the fence line is, but the result if trained correctly, will be wonderful. Our goal is to keep our dogs safe so they can keep the livestock and us safe.

Commando guarding
One of the Anatolian crosses doing what livestock guardian dogs love to do! He watches everything.