Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Real Witsa Bean

Witsa, Pole/Snap, 2021 – This is the REAL Witsa. I will start off by saying that most of the beans being sold out there as Witsa are not Witsa. There is not a second bean coincidentally named Witsa either. They are entirely the wrong bean which has been misnamed. There is a garble of information and much crisscrossing of misinformation attending some of these listings. Adding to the confusion is that most are listed as a Runner bean, but this is a Common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris. This may be a cultural difference by country in which they mean a Runner bean to be a Pole bean, not P. coccineus as we know a Runner bean to be. 

The true Witsa bean is a South African bean developed in 1951 from a cross between Green Savage and St. Louis Perfection. It is a very long, tender podded, STRINGLESS!! bean with good disease resistance and outstanding productivity. I suspect it failed to take off commercially because it is so very tender and would not hold up well to shipping and commercial processing. The other bean being sold out there is a shorter, flat-podded bean. It may be a nice bean itself, but it is not Witsa. 

The most accurate and detailed information on its history can be found here in a PDF image of an old South African market bulletin from June 1966:

As a home gardener who loves to can and put up lots of good food for my family for the winter, Witsa is a dream. This bean will not waste space in your garden or your time in the kitchen! The pods average 8 inches long, with 9-10 seeds per pod. They remain super tender and go through a puffy stage as the seeds fill out in the pod. The dry pods are so tender they are easy to shell and crumble in your hands. The plants are vigorous climbers and the blooms are white. It is one of the most productive beans I’ve seen to date. It had an initial large flush around 65 days from planting, the vines remained disease-free and healthy, and it gave me a second large flush in late September. It kept going right up until our season ended.

The true Witsa has pods that are as long as the diameter of this disposable plate!
It is the longest podded bean that I have grown.

It has an unremarkable white seed.

I acquired seed for this bean in 2014 from a California bean collector named Marshall Smyth, but I didn’t end up growing it out until 2018. I had only a few seeds and got poor germination, so with just a couple of plants I mostly focused on increasing the seed and didn’t pay it much attention to assess its qualities at the time. I had a good dozen or more plants come up from the newer seed this year. We ate so well from this bean! And I have a good supply of 2021 seed for it now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

So, We've Got This Going On Here Today...

Our septic leach field failed this summer. Our house was built in 1942 and the next door neighbors who used to live here say it is the same system they had when they bought the place in 1974. So I guess we're lucky it made it as long as it did!

This puts a few other projects back a little. Hopefully, we'll be able to do a new metal roof come spring. 

The old system was buried 6 feet deep! 😳

We went through 3 contractors prior to this crew who all told us different things. Turns out the Health Department will tell you whether or not you can have a leach field. And we were cleared for a new one, so that saved us a chunk of money and we didn't have to run electric for an aerator or UV system, praise the Lord. 

This is the fourth contractor we talked to. Brandon went in person to the Health Department yesterday and they came right out the same day to consult with the inspector. They dropped off their digger last night and have been hard at it since 9:30 this morning. They've gotten 2 of the 4 lines put in already. They should have it all done by tomorrow, new 1000-gallon tank and everything.

Unfortunately, the goats will lose access to their pasture until the ground settles naturally, about a year from now. I can run an extension of their dry lot out to the right of the little red barn and double that space. I'll move all of their climbing toys up there. The 6 wethers will be going out on the farm to clear brush next spring, so that will take a load off of my hay supply. I need to run new fenceline back there anyway. It will all work out.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Last of the Garden

Dinner tonight was homegrown BBQ chicken and the last pickings of the garden: George Washington Fall Beans, Muncher cukes and Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes.

We skipped right over frost and will have our first freeze tonight, with a very cold week in the forecast ahead. I don't know that I'm ever really ready for winter, but I've been a little more on top of things than usual this year.

I still have many goat projects that I want to build and improve upon and a line of fence I'd like to get run on the farm before the ground gets hard. 

Next thing on the schedule is breeding season! I live in anticipation of those spring kids. 🐐 ❤

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Best $17 I've Ever Spent!

If there are cookies involved, these two will be your best friend. Try to trim their hooves, give them meds or any other necessary goat maintenance and they go all psycho and will try to kick your lights out. 😕

So now it has come to this...

I bought this $17 calf sling from Premier1 supplies. Best purchase ever! No more nonsense, lol. They are quite secure and comfortable in there and it is much less distressing for all parties involved. 

And I can do a much better job without wearing out my back. You can swivel them around to get the best view and lighting too.

Here's Snappy sticking his nose through the knot hole in the barn wall, wondering what on earth's going on back here and insisting he deserves a cookie too.

The boys are not hard to trim. They behave very nicely on the milk stand for me. Other than the stinkiness, they are a real pleasure to work with.

Something else that has made my hoof trimming easier is a Stanley Surform rasp. You can find them at the hardware store or online for about $9. It makes it really easy to get a nice, even plane on the bottom of the hoof. It takes off a little at a time; much like shredding cheese, but on a lesser level.
I also invested in a nice, sharp pair of hoof trimmers from Premier1 last year. Those ran me about $40, which I thought was a fair price and well worth it. These are well made and dependable. If they ever need sharpening, you can send them in and they'll do it for free.

Heather and Astrid were handled and played with all the time as kids, but they still turned out to be stubborn brats. They were dam-raised. Ava was beginning to dread messing with the goats, so I had to do something. A few cookies later and all is forgiven! Overall, it's a more positive experience for them too. 

I would say use your discretion as to the size, weight and health of your goat if you decide to give the sling a try. Some goats are more rotund, with a large, active rumen. It might not be as comfortable for one in that case.