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goats eating brush on vanhoveln farm cedar rapids iowa

Farm note 8: Fall is Here

Chilly, blustery fall weather is here. Each year it seems to come earlier, and this year is no exception. I’m already mourning its arrival.

Fall is in the air. And I don’t mean the pumpkin-spice-latte-drinking, cozy-sweater-wearing, look-at-how-beautiful-the-leaves-are romantic fall. I mean the chilly, rainy, blustery fall that means summer is drawing to a close. Each year it seems fall comes earlier, and this year is no exception. I’m already mourning its arrival.

I feel like the change in weather comes with a change in perspective. Instead of dreaming about the goodies we’ll be growing, I’m worrying about survival and expense that comes with feeding and housing animals for the long, cold winter. It’s quite daunting.

But, for today, all is well.

Fall planting is underway in the garden. Beets, two types of radishes, cabbage, and several types of lettuce went into the ground this week, with plans for successive radish plantings every two weeks until mid-October. The radishes were a huge hit this spring, and they grew so well. If I learned nothing else this year, I learned that anyone can grow radishes.

I’ve pulled all the remaining vines from the garden, including the melons. We had two very delicious watermelons, but they, like everything else in the plot, succumbed to powdery mildew. We’ve picked a handful of pumpkins and squash, but nothing worth writing home about. Next year, I’ll be moving these enormous, greedy plants to one of the vacant areas near the creek so they have plenty of room to spread their leaves.

Animals are still earning their keep this week. Chickens got an all-you-can-eat tomato, kale, and worm buffet in the garden while we planted. After I pulled the grass and prepared my beds, I let them loose to do their thing. Besides being fun to watch, their aid in pest-control is unmatched by anything else I’ve tried. If you’re able, I highly recommend keeping a few chickens as garden helpers.

Coco is rapidly approaching her due date. (Do you call it that with goats? I don’t know.) Her udder- “bag” if you’re not a newbie like me- is filling out and her tummy is looking huge and uncomfortable. We’ll be updating her CDT vaccine and making a soft bedding area for her this week to help her prepare. Apparently goats nest just like human mothers, so I’m expecting to walk out there one morning to see her hut fully cleaned and poop-free, with a cute-patterned hanging curtain over the door and matching throw rug on the floor.

brown goat with blue eyes and horns with big pregnant belly on vanhoveln farm cedar rapids iowa

I’ve decided that I’d like to milk her after she kids, but I’m not sure how well that’s going to go over. Like most pregnant mothers, she HATES being touched anywhere that’s been affected by the growth of pregnancy. Belly, udder, tail, haunches are all off-limits right now, and I don’t think I can persuade her otherwise. I might give it a shot, anyway, and risk the kicks that are sure to come my way.

I’ll be posting a series of goat pregnancy photos on social media this week, so be sure you follow us on Facebook and Insta. And as always, if you’re in the Cedar Rapids-Corridor area of Iowa, stop on in. Just make sure you bring me a pumpkin-spice-latte.

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