Ah, once again we find ourselves at the end of another summer here at Paca Pride Guest Ranch. Where has the time gone? The dog days of summer seem to have come to us late in the season, yet already we are preparing for winter, gathering and splitting all the firewood. This has been a relaxing season for all the yurt campers that came to see the pastoral scene and explore the trails of the famed Mountain Loop Highway.
The herd was shorn at the end of June and we are still awaiting the return of the annual clip from the mill in the form of yarns and rovings, but Uber and Mucho were lucky enough to receive another hall pass from shearing this year. Llamas do shed and can acclimate to the heat of summer a bit easier than alpacas with their dense coats and, honestly, Uber just looks grand with his big shaggy mane. Kusco, one of the new alpacas to the herd, still has a distrust of Maximo, the hound dog. Thus it was endearing to watch as Uber tried to show Kusco that Maximo was in fact a cool canine.
The garden has been an adventure this year to the delight of all the yurt campers who’ve roamed through it’s paths and peaked under the mini-greenhauz panels. We upgraded the raised beds to have A-frame style panels that provide more grow space height yet still can withstand the snow during winter when we like to overwinter certain veggies and plants with some extra protection. It’s amazing to see celery and carrot flowers blooming in the second year after being overwintered in their beds; more seed to save!
The harvest has been a bit of a hit and miss with our tomato crop this year. However, there has been a bounty of everything else including, hold your hats, green bell peppers! We are still letting them fully ripen and turn red on the vine to hopefully do some jarred roasted Reds this year. In the meantime, we’ve been quite distracted experimenting with making a Japanese-style pickle slaw salad that we’ve perfected. It’s one of those salads that gets better over the course of a few days marinating in the sweet sake dressing. Of course, we’ve also got pickles brining for hot-n-spicy-n-garlicy dill pickles.
As the harvest has continued this month, we have collected over 75 pounds of potatos, 3 braids of garlic, plenty zukes and cukes to shake a stick at, 15 pounds from the very first planting of wheat (let’s turn that into more next year!) and the Amaranth flower heads are still drying and await threshing of its grain. On the grain front, since we’ve now demonstrated that, indeed, we can grow grain in the mountains, we found a source for some ancient grains to begin trials on next season. We’ll eventually land on a good combination of a nutritious grain that’s easy to thresh and turn into food.
Our herd of alpacas and llamas were kept quite busy with their yurt camper PR program. It is not uncommon of a sight to see families coming up to explore with fascination an animal most have never experienced up close. You can learn a lot about people just from watching them interact with a new animal where they have no expectations developed; some can act leery and nervous at first, but it’s always the youngsters that go bounding right up to the fence, instinctively picking some grass, and holding it out with the hope of a furry snout coming to grab it.
The other activity that occurs every summer is the run of our chicken tractor. As you’ve been reading from our previous blog entries, this handy device helps us establish a good fertilizer and harrowing program for the pastures, not to mention, fly control too! The 20 poultry birds, raised for their meat, have all been sent to the freezer and breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings. All that remains are the 4 turkeys, still needing to put on some weight. They are aptly named: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Patty and Link!
Summer at Paca Pride Guest Ranch is coming to a close soon, and it’s been a very enjoyable one! The flowers that have bloomed for the 3rd year running are attracting pollinators and admirers alike. As the season ends, we turn our attention to the dynamic weather of Autumn where the leaves will fall, the blustery winds gust, and our yurt campers will remain warm and cozy enjoying it all inside a heated yurt.