Meet Mary and Starr – and Creating a Food Oasis

Meet Mary. She is the reason I left the city. Yes, you can have mini goats in the city. But you cannot have loud mini goats or you risk upsetting your neighbors. Mary is very, very loud but very, very lovable. She is learning to be milked this week and I’ll breed her in November. That means in April I’ll have more baby goat cuteness and hopefully more future milkers.

Meet Starr.

He is Mary’s wether, my children’s playmate. And although Mary has a forever home here, I’m not sure what the future brings for Starr. At some point Mary will have more boy babies and they may be even friendlier than Starr is. We cannot keep all the boy babies Mary will ever have so we’ll have some hard decisions to make in the future. Dairy is not easy. In order to have milk you need to continue breeding the animals. What I do know is, every animal I own will have the best life and the best death that I can give it. I owe that much to them.

Meet my frog pond. My friend Eric dug most of the hole for it. This is where I plan to experiment with edible water plants. I picked up two pond liners off Craigs List to cut my teeth on (training for the future aquaponics operation). They have taken up more time than I care to realize this summer trying to get the filters and pumps just so…and they are not yet just so.

Meet my future kiwi arbor. In addition to fencing and electrifying I am building a hardy kiwi arbor next to the frog pond. It will be a lovely place to hang out on warm days once it’s done. If it’s ever done.

This area is just north of what will be the kiwi arbor and it will be in part to full shade most of the time. I plan to create a keyhole planting there to experiment with part to full shade perennial or reseeding vegetables. This is where I will recreate the crummy shaded conditions many of you are trying to garden in back in the city. I also want to experiment with how much food someone who wants a garden but does not want to garden can grow. Wish me luck!

This area is just south of the future kiwi arbor and although it gets full sun most of the day it contains a full sized apple and fig tree which shade most of the 20′ x 20′ section. Rather than remove the trees I’ll be creating a guild around them with more perennial vegetables and fruits.

This area will be the entrance to the garden, flanked by hops and contain herbs, flowers, and children’s whimsy. I’m not sure yet how productive this area will be but it will be fun for all who venture inside.

This roughly 100′ x 20′ area of the garden will be intensive rows with a movable high tunnel where I can start warm weather crops early and grow vegetables for 5 families year round. Fingers crossed! So far it’s a lot of gravel walkways and I’ve been slowly digging it all out (thanks to Linda and kids who came and helped last Friday!) Then I bring in topsoil. Lots, and lots of topsoil.

This area and the 20′ x 20′ section outside the garden will be joined and fenced around. Here I will plant blueberries and black and red currants. And hopefully the goats will not manage to break the electric fence and eat them all.

This is chicken row. My friend Eric helped me consolidate all the asparagus beds inside the chicken area so the ladies can keep the asparagus beetles in control by eating the larvae that overwinter in the dirt. Next to the asparagus rows I’ll be adding summer and fall raspberries and marionberries. Next to them is an old orchard with varieties of plums, peach and apple on full sized tree stock. Come fall I’ll be removing them and replacing them with dwarf fruits: cherry, plum, peach, persimmon, quince, crabapple.

I’ve added a duck pond in the poultry yard. The filter clogs up twice a day and if I don’t use it you can close your eyes and imagine Green Lake in August. The smell, not so pretty.

The ducks, however, very pretty. Flip, Splish and Splosh. Flap refused to get out of the pool for the picture. He’s like that.

I spy with my little eye…Mary! She just needs a little lamb.

The next update will include the newly completed poultry shack and the return of my feral flock of chickens. Perhaps Nibbles and the rest of the buns and their newly completed rabbit shelter will even be included. Stay tuned to the continuing progress as I race to complete it before school starts and the book hits store shelves, all in just a few weeks.

22 Responses to Meet Mary and Starr – and Creating a Food Oasis

  1. Annette, it all looks fantastic!! I love to see all the pictures and what you are building there. What a treat for you and your family to live in such a lovely place!! I know you are going to have an overflowing garden of blessing soon. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow- it all looks fantastic! I love how you describe it as a food “oasis”- what a fantastically appropriate term! Thanks for posting pictures- had fun looking through them all.

    • Annette Cottrell

      Thanks for commenting – I waver between guilt for having all this and feeling like I should keep it to myself but I so want to share it all!

  3. What is Mary: mini-Nubian? Nubians can be quite LOUD, you’re so right. Cute goats though with their floppy ears. And FYI if she turns out to be a decent milker you might not need to breed her every year. My main goat has produced nearly a gallon once a day since she had her babies…in 2/10. I don’t plan on breeding her this fall either. (The other goat, well, she’s a first-timer so her udder’s still not fully developed. She’ll be bred.)

    Love the setup! You’ve been busy!

    • Annette Cottrell

      She is. I know they are but I love their personalities and I love their EARS! I will breed her for future milkers and meat if nothing else and because I want to go through this. What kind of goats do you have El? Mary’s udder is not fully developed yet either since she is a first time freshener with small teats but getting better. At least I’m not getting hoof in the milk bucket now. And milking her before the milkstand was finished was ridiculous. I was sore for days trying to restrain her whilst milking!

  4. Everything looks fantastic! Mary and Starr are so cute! Male goats…So cute. So friendly. But you just can’t keep them. I’m having a difficult time with that right now as well. We have two wethers right now. One, Mongo, is not-so-friendly just like his mother. The other, Mork, is a big love bug and just wants to be snuggled all of the time just like his mother (each of our does had a wether). I’ll definitely miss Mork, he’s my buddy, but as you said, you just can’t keep them all.

    • Annette Cottrell

      Rachel – what a wonderful blog you have! I’ll be following Mongo and Mork’s future and all your other endeavors…

  5. What an inspiration! I hope to one day have my own place. In the mean time I’ll look forward to seeing updates. From what you did with your last place I can’t wait to see all the progress that will happen on your farm.

    • Annette Cottrell

      Thanks Waggie! I plan to divide the garden in almost all 20×20 plots so I can experiment with city style gardens. If I can do it here, at 400′ with shade then anyone in Seattle can do it too.

  6. Oh man, you are living the dream. I’ll just go to Green Lake and pretend I’m there :)

    • Annette Cottrell

      Thanks Reading – maybe you can bottle some August Greenlake water and bring it here to compare. ;) It’s really fun here – all the kids love it!!

  7. Dreamy, education, and inspirational.

  8. Wow, Annette. I am just now seeing this. So, so amazing and beautiful. My fantasies live on a piece of land like this. Some day maybe. For now, I’ll just keep learning.

  9. Oh Annette, what a dream! I can’t believe how much you have gotten done in so little time. It looks magnificent. I really need to come visit and learn about your setup. I can’t wait for your next post!

  10. Annette Cottrell

    Diana come!! Thanks for the pat on the back, I am nowhere near where I wanted to be a week before school starts and I have to focus on work again! I *might* have enough gravel dug out to plant the blueberry and currant and apple/pear orchard if I’m lucky. Then I still have 80×20 worth of garden space to dig out before I can get something ready for spring crops. It’s killing me not having a garden or herbs! But the goats have been a great consolation…

  11. Annette Cottrell

    Stacy you come too! I’m not that far out of Seattle. Many of my neighbors commute to downtown which blows my mind. But honestly it’s only 45 minutes. That’s just too much petrol on a daily basis for my conscience.

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  14. Lovely new place and the goats are darling! What a great adventure transforming this property into your own food oasis. It’s a fun project to be sure and so much potential every where you look.

  15. Thanks Laura – making good progress. I’m hoping the backbreaking work will be done in the next few weeks. Hoping.

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