Monday, October 20, 2014

Fungi Munchie - Coral Mushrooms

My Ag teacher friend and I went to a goat parasite seminar last week.  Since it wasn't really a kid-friendly thing, we figured it was safe enough to let the husbands watch Rhiannon while we were away viewing a Power Point presentation on goat poop.

Before the goat seminar (which pretty much sucked), we had supper at their house which included beef stew, rolls and fried mushrooms.  But not any ol' mushroom.  Wild Coral mushrooms!

Aaron (Ag teacher's husband) has this uncanny knack for finding mushrooms.  Like, he'll be driving down the road at 50 mph and spy a patch of morels growing in the ditch.  A recent find included two huge zippy bags filled with these babies:

Some of which he drenched in a seasoned flour mixture and fried up for supper, and some of which came home with us.  I've already sauteed a bunch of them in butter (and ate all by myself) and there are still a few left that have to be cooked today or they'll end up in the compost pile.  Maybe atop a grilled venison burger......Mmmmmm.  

It's too bad that I don't have an "expert" mushroom person around here.  Although we don't seem to have any morel or coral mushrooms on our place, we do have an overabundance of what I think are honey mushrooms.  Unfortunately, they have a poisonous look-alike; Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms.  And the fact that these mushrooms are causing a lot of our oak trees to die is another bummer.  So we have mushrooms...but none that we want.  

I'm going to take Rhiannon for a little hike later on and see if we can find any edible munchies out in the woods.  And I might even take the rifle with in case we go from searching for herbivore munchies to stumbling upon some carnivore munchies.

Friday, October 17, 2014

There's something missing

Like, maybe, sweet potatoes?

That's my harvest.  Granted it was my first time trying to grow sweet potatoes in the ground, and the deer continually "cropped" the leaves every chance they got.  But seriously?  That's it?!  My "Sweet Potato In A Tub" experiment did better than this.

Oh well.  There's always next time.  At least I hope that the deer got fat on my un-fenced garden munchies as I'm going to be putting a broad head through at least one of them in the very near future.

My teeny-tiny-can't-even-call-it-a-garden this fall was also a bust.  Three quarters of the green beans I planted were torn up by the armadillos and it seems that the curse on my squash continued on past the summer.  Susan was nice enough to send me some globe zucchini seeds and I planted five hills of them for Fall.  There were tons of flowers on them.  There are still tons of flowers on them.  One hill (of three healthy plants) put out one zuke.  One.  And the rest of the hills are about on par.  There is one more decent sized zuke that I'll harvest when it's of adequate stuffing size, and then hope that the four other little baby globe zucchini make it to maturity.  

I don't know if it's the soil or the weather or the universe just hates me, but just about any type of melon or squash did jack this year.  One cantaloupe from one plant.  One watermelon from one plant.  Two, maybe three anorexic looking butternut squash from each plant.  And the vines were lush and thick with flowers.  Apparently all male flowers.  It wasn't as if there were dead or rotted fruits after the flowers fell off, just the stems that held the flowers.  Apparently I've got a garden filled with gay vegetables.  Either that or I'm so severely lacking in natural pollinators that I'll be having to hand-pollinate everything from now on.  

There are also strawberries missing from my strawberry garden.  Like, the entire bed is void of any strawberry plant.  I noticed the plants sending out runners this summer so I let them go crazy, thinking that I'd harvest them in the fall and move them to another bed to increase my strawberry holdings.  But now there are very few of the travelling plants and none in the original bed.  It almost looks like they were burned or something.  Not having had strawberry plants for more than two years, I have no idea if this is what they "do", if they only last two years, or if the universe in fact does have it in for me.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Goats on Meth

No, that's not my goat (sheep, actually).  But I suspect
if goat emotions physically manifested themselves
when I have grain around, that is what they'd look like.
That's the only way I can describe my goat crew's crazed and insane attitude towards grain.  With the exception of Herman and Studly, every single one of them goes completely and totally batshitcrazy when grain (or chicken feed) is around.

They go nuts around feeding time.  And if I just so happen to be hefting bags of grain from the truck to the barn any other time, they go nuts.  If I go into the pen with a container larger than a coffee mug, they think it's a grain bucket and they go nuts.  If I open the lid on the metal garbage cans that hold the chicken feed (outside of the pen, but within eyesight), they go nuts.  Gawdhelpme if I go into the milk parlor / feed room to get something other than feed during non-feeding time because they go, well, you get the idea by now.

I've been pushed, shoved, climbed on, butted, yelled at and snorted at all over a handful of corn.  I don't know how goat keepers with tons of goats feed grain in a bunk feeder.  There is no way my goats could do that because they would scarf up the feed so quickly and there would be such a battle at the feeder that I fear there would be casualties.....probably me.  And that's why I have to clip each of the effers to the fence for feeding and keep the goat and chicken feed under lock and key.

It's not like I'm starving them.  If anything, the non-milkers are getting caprine versions of a muffin top.  And it's not like they always have to guess when they'll be fed.  I feed at approximately the same time every day.  The milkers get fed goat chow morning and evening and the others get fed only in the evening.  They all have pretty much 24/7 access to hay.

But no matter how much I try to keep an eye on them, no matter how many times I think I check my back for a goat, one of them inevitably ends up sneaking or shoving past me to get to the goods.  A few weeks ago they got into the Cornish chick pen.  Luckily none of the chicks were stomped into oblivion.  But yesterday, Penny snuck past me while I was watering the chicks and got into the pen to try and scarf down the crumbles.  She knew damned well she wasn't supposed to be in there, she knew damned well that she was going to get a size 9 boot to her backside and screamed at, but she did it anyways.  The insane drive to snarf down as much chicken feed as she could before being forcefully yanked out of the pen was just too strong for her to resist.

Unfortunately her drive to get to as many feed dishes as possible while dodging my boot and avoiding my grip caused quite the ruckus in the pen.  A goat running around in an enclosed space with a bunch of small, fat, not-very-mobile chickens was a recipe for disaster.  I managed to get her out of there without any actual chicken deaths, but one of them now has a bum leg.  It's not broken (I don't think), but he's not able to walk very well.  Oh, he's still managing to make his way to the feed and water just fine, but I'm wondering if I'll end up butchering him in the next few days.

Paul said he wanted to try a homegrown "Cornish Hen", so he may be getting his wish this week.  If we keep to the "Eight week butchering day" rule, the rest of the Poopy Poultry will be ready for processing two weeks from now.  But unless they really start bulking up, I have a feeling I'll be cleaning out the pen for an additional two weeks.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Outside looking In......

....or inside looking out.  Or on one side wanting to be on the other side.

The creepy meats are continuing their daily assault on my every time I go in the pen to feed them.  Never mind that I've not once fed them outside of the pen, but I'm convinced they just want to make a rush at me to knock me down and eat my eyeballs.  During their delirious feeding frenzy, one or two of them will make it out the door and get chased around the yard by the older laying hens.  Last night I wasn't able to catch the escapees so I let the stupid buggers sit under the barn for the entire night.  I really didn't want to because the loss of two birds means the loss of two wonderful, succulent, crispy skinned chicken suppers, but I also really didn't want to shimmy my fatass underneath the barn where it was muddy and mucky from the torrential downpour we received earlier in the day.  Luckily, they survived the night and I scooted them into the pen again (while every other chicken wanted out).

Herman is also upset that he's on the other side of the fence.
Nettie teasing Herman.....what a hussy.
Breeding season has kicked into full blown Oh-Me-So-Horny mode and there is the nauseating smell of buck piss and the muffled, grunting noises from the does.  Annette sounds like she's sick or in labor.  It's pathetic.  I wish I could hand out caprine condoms just so she could get some lov'n and shut the hell up.  Last year I had my does bred early and I don't want to repeat that experiment again.  It's just too cold.  I know that the goats get bred earlier so that their kids are larger for the County Fair, but it's just not worth having to worry about hypothermic kids or me freezing my bumm off in the barn waiting for a kidding.

So the ladies will just have to wait it out for another month and Herman will just have to be satisfied with sniffing and snorting and tongue-flapping and pissing on himself (ick, ick and quadruple-ick).

And I will have to continue pulling his stupid noggin out of the fence (no fewer than sixty-five times a day) and then go sandblast my hands in a feeble attempt to rid my flesh of the smell of buck piss.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bald Knobbers and Sassafras Suckers

Today's blog title sounds a bit strange, if not mildly obscene (to those of  you have such minds....not thinking of anyone in particular...PP...cough-cough), but it is honestly a very appropriate - and clean - description of what we saw and did over our weekend.  We took a little drive through some very beautiful and scenic back roads over the weekend.  Although just the drive would have been reason enough to go out, we actually had a destination in mind:
One of our homeschooling newsletters had a link of "Pioneer Days" events going on in the local (and not so local) area and this one looked really interesting.  I just learned about it on Thursday but was able to schedule a quick day trip for Saturday.  A picnic lunch was packed and we were set to go!

Most of the road we travelled was state highway, but once you got off the secondary paved road ( twenty years ago), it was a 3 1/2 mile drive on a dirt road to get to the property.  The road was well maintained (as far as dirt roads go), but you still got the feeling that you were, in fact, at the "Edge of The World" as the sign posted on an oak tree proclaimed.  It also suggested that you check your brakes because if you were travelling in a vehicle with questionable stopping ability, you might end up over the cliff and in the creek below.

A two mule team pulling a wagon full of excited kids (and adults) passed us by as we entered the event area, and there were other horse and mule drawn carriages carrying people through a loop around the main gathering.
We hopped on the horse-drawn buggy powered by "Flame" and Rhiannon and I got an exciting ride along the creek.  Rhiannon got to wash some clothes the old fashioned way, saw soap being made and wood shingles being split by hand....all in one stop.
Moseyed over to where all the clanging was coming from and saw two different blacksmiths doing their blacksmithing magic:
We went over to the Civil War table where we saw what a solider would have in his knapsack:
Stopped by a sweets tent and bought a couple of suckers and then looked in at what seemed to be the norm for encampment protocol (white canvas tents, iron cooking grates, coffee boiling in pots and cast iron pots filled with beans):

There was also a wagon for supplies and a table set up showing what would have been common "pantry" items on the wagon:

Imagine Rhiannon's surprise when I showed her the basket of these and told her what they were and what they were used for:

Then we stumbled upon some one's supper being cooked.  Which was well guarded, to say the least:

Wool (and dog hair.  yes.  dog hair) being hand spun:

A lady who does chair caning:

Horse-powered doo-dad (yes, that's the technical term) that crushes the sorghum cane and a molasses cooking demonstration:

We sat and enjoyed some great music while eating our picnic lunch:

And last, but not least, some hands-on weapons practice.  What 5 year old kid wouldn't want to throw a tomahawk?!

There were also vendors selling everything from sassafras walking sticks to brain-tanned deer hides.  Tables with antler handle knives, deer hide purses, custom made long bows, wooden whistles, some iron work and a book for sale by a local author (who just so happens to work at our local library) on  the Ozark vigilantes known as the Bald Knobbers.

There is plenty of parking, people with golf carts available to shuttle you to & from the lot, porta johns, a large pavilion to provide shade or shelter and food stand (with the biggest burgers I've seen) if you didn't pack a lunch.  The entire area was groomed and neat and it was very family friendly. It was a great little get-away and I hope that we'll be able to go again.  If you're in the Ozarks in October of next year, might I suggest you take a little jaunt and go check it out?  You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Homeschooling and Flashbacks

I've been neglecting a few things around here and the house.  I haven't been replying to comments as much as I used to, and I apologize for that.  I truly appreciate every one of your comments (except for that guy from Dubai who says I have a large sum of money waiting for me if I'd just give him my bank account number), and I will try harder to reply back to them again.

Why the neglect?  Why has the garden gone to pot?  Why haven't I vacuumed under the bed in over six months (who am I kidding, I never vacuum under the bed, Mom usually does).  Why are there a hundred and sixty-two items on the "ToDo" list that still haven't been crossed off?

Well, I do have a small excuse.  Actually, that excuse isn't that small anymore; she weighs in around fifty pounds.  And even though we've been teaching her things for years now, we "officially" started school at the beginning of September (i.e. had to file with the local powers-that-be to make sure they can get their $$ even though we're not sending her to school).  We've been somewhat involved with a local homeschooling group for two years now, but there never seemed to be much that she could join in on.  I taught an art class for a small group earlier this summer and found that I really, really enjoyed doing it.  So I agreed to do another nine week semester this Fall with the larger group.

Whoever thinks that it's easy to homeschool must be insane.  I can't believe how much prep work there was for me (as the teacher) to get a semester of art going.  Granted, this is my first time pretending to be a teacher and I'm sure things will go more smoothly as time goes on, but really, I wouldn't blame a person one bit if they tried homeschooling and ended up putting their kids into a public/private school after finding out how much work was actually involved.

I've been lucky enough to find a homeschooling mentor of sorts.  She has four kids; a seven year old, a five year old, a three year old and an eighteen month squishy baby.  She has already been through a lot of the stuff with her eldest son, and her girl is the same age as Rhiannon so not only do I get to pick her brain on the things she's already done, but we often get together to do subjects like math, science and reading.

And I finally got around to making Rhiannon her own little school area.  Black Susan approves.

I've also been scouring garage sales for the past few years looking for textbooks and other items we can use in our homeschool adventures.  And would you look at these golden oldie gems I've come up with:
Remember seeing commercials for these babies in the 70's? 
I had the Speak & Math and my sister had the Speak & Spell.
We were soooo cool back then, not everyone had a computer in 1980.
Even though I've been having flashbacks and enjoying playing, I mean teaching Rhiannon, with these "old time" educational products, we do not totally shun modern technology. I subscribe to two online programs, get a lot of ideas from the net as well as use youtube often for watching programs or videos that aren't available at the library in their DVD collection.  One day during our Biology lesson, we were focusing on plant parts and since Rhiannon was munching on peanuts, we you-tubed "Harvesting Peanuts" and learned how peanuts were planted, grown and harvested.  Most of our subject matter comes from every day life or what we just so happen to be doing that day (i.e. the Peanuts lesson).

I'm really liking homeschooling and the occasional teaching stint and I hope to be able to continue it as long as possible.  Although once we hit sentence diagramming, I may have to get her a tutor because I totally, thoroughly, absolutely hated those things:
Does ANYONE ever, ever use these stupid things?
I had nightmares in grade school when we did them.
I'm convinced the nuns made this shit up just to screw with us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcoming back the Boers

Our Ag teacher friend and her husband drove the Boer doelings back to our place the weekend before last.  They had finished their round of shows and it was time for them to come home.

Even though the Boer kids have been to the big city and were sporting fancy ribbons (don't ask me which, although I know it wasn't First or I'd be bragging), that didn't stop the rest of the herd from picking on them.  There was lots of head butting, rearing up, chasing around and butt sniffing.  Pickles doeling, Dilly, was even severely butted by her own mother when trying to nurse.  I figured that the doeling had been weaned long enough that she wouldn't try to sneak a snack from her mom, but I guess I was wrong.

We did sponsor three Boer kids for the shows, but we only got the two doelings back.  Gimpy (the goat with the messed up back legs) didn't do as well as the gals weight-wise so he's being kept at the school barn to fatten up a little more before we butcher him.  I figure we'll split the carcass with Adrian (the Ag teacher) and her husband for all the livestock related favors they've been doing for us lately.

The Boer doelings weighed in at just under 70 pounds each and they're seven months old.  I'm not exactly sure what I had expected, but I was really thinking they would weigh more by now.  But given that we don't have fancy pants breeding stock, I suppose we got what we paid for.

I'm not sure if I'll be breeding the Boer doelings this year or not.  If so, I'll wait until as late as possible in the breeding season to do so, probably around December.  Herman will have his last shot at the girls this year and then it will be off to the sale barn with him and Studly DoRight will take his place.  Wish I could get rid of Herman sooner as I can smell him as soon as I walk out of the house in the morning.  Not nearly as stinky as our previous Nigerian Dwarf buck, but stinky enough.
Can you smell Fall in the air?  All I smell is buck goat pee.