In order to produce milk, a dairy goat must give birth. She will continue to produce milk after the kid is gone as long as she is still milked daily. I bought Nilah, my Nigerian Dwarf Goat at around 10 months old, and it would finally be her first time kidding. It was my first time, too.
Beginning a garden in Phoenix wasn’t just going to be difficult because of the heat, I also don’t own the property where I live and thus didn’t want to plant anything into the ground. Could I successfully keep garden plants without planting a real garden, in Phoenix? The seasons are different from most other states. It rarely freezes and growing season can begin in December! I didn’t realize quite what a project it would be when I began my plant journey but I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I quickly learned that plants are addicting and, like children, they require regular attention. I think they require even more attention when in pots, and when temperatures hit 100+ degrees.
The plant caregiver must be attentive to their needs, able to quickly notice and remedy wilted leaves, white spots, and dry soil. Like a child whose stomach hurts and doesn’t realize that it means he has to go to the bathroom, a plant will become wilted and it is your job to figure out why. I guess that’s why they’re now calling me crazy plant lady.
It was midnight in Alaska when I arrived. The trip was a last minute whim. I could see the sunset on the horizon. “Why is it light outside?” I joked to the women sitting beside me on the plane, both Anchorage natives. Aliza, with whom I’d be staying, met me at the arrivals in her big puffy jacket, and Alaska-ready suburban. Every single vehicle in the parking garage was a truck, Jeep, Subaru, or 4×4. I’d never seen such a thing. There wasn’t a shiny car to be seen, although throughout the week I spotted a few. It was a far cry from the spoiled Phoenix cars sporting their fresh washes and chrome.
Ever curious what it is like to raise a baby duck without other ducks? Remember baby Ballard duck? Would you believe that little Ballard had to learn to swim? Because he was raised with chickens, humans and a dog, he had to figure out swimming all on his own. Luckily the sensation comes quite natural for ducks as they figure out what their clunky webbed feet are for and how wonderful the water feels on their toes. When baby ducklings grow up with their mama duck they pick up the oils from her feathers that keep them from taking on too much water. Ducklings without their mama don’t have the ability to wick out water.
The next step I took in my journey to reducing my environmental impact and creating a more sustainable way of living was to begin my worm (vermicompost) bin. It’s a tricky endeavor in the desert. I read all the Pinterest posts on starting a worm bin and scoured the online forums and decided I was ready to dive in.
Now back to that nifty, sleek little compost bin on the counter. The tiny collector on the counter plays a huge role in our little sustainable circle of life around here. It is primarily fed banana peels (because I use a banana a day in my smoothies) but also regularly includes leftover salad scraps, onion peels, squash skin, apple cores, eggshells and the like.
My food scraps feed the worms, the worm castings feed the plants, the plants feed me, my goats and chickens, who in turn feed me milk and eggs.
The more I learned about sustainable farming, the more things I realized that I needed to change. I needed to use less plastic, ditch plastic bags altogether, switch to glass whenever possible, and recycle more than I trash.
It all happened rather quickly. The first week we picked up the chicks and the next I was taking a quick trip over to my parent’s (three hours away) to pick up my horse, where she had stayed while I was in Seattle, and my goat who had also been at my parents, but had been in with a buck at a breeder’s house for the previous few weeks. On the drive home, I found myself with a baby desert tortoise in my lap.
One moment I had my dream job with the Community College Initiative near Seattle, the next I was in Arizona, wrapped up in warm blanket of 95 degrees. My life has always taken some interesting turns, I never do know where I’ll end up next. Brent promised me from the beginning too, that hanging around him would never be boring. I promised him the same. We lucked out and found the perfect house at the foot of a desert mountain range, complete with gigantic saguaro cactus, with two acres, horse stalls and no HOA fees or rules. It was time to finally begin my mini-farm journey.