Monday, September 30, 2013

Two fer One

Or in more brash wording, we had a goat three-some going on tonight.

This morning when I went out to milk, I found Nettie all dreamy-eyed and leaning up against the fence line where Herman is kept.  And normally they don't even bother wandering over to that side of the goat pen.

She's back in heat so obviously I didn't get her over to her chosen stud quick enough.  And I'm pretty sure that Herman has found his mojo as not only has he started peeing on his front legs and face, he's making those funky bucky noises.  Apparently his newfound bucky moves are turning Nettie on.  And assaulting my olfactory senses as well.

Anyhow, I ignored Nettie for the moment and got New Goat up in the stanchion to milk.  When I called to Annette for her turn she didn't come running as normal.  When one of my goats don't come crashing across the goat pen at hearing their name during feeding time, I know that something is up.  She was up against the fence, oogling over Herman as well.  Both does were tail-flagging a plenty and Annette was making funny half-grunting noises.

I called Paul at work, he set up another goat date night, and when he got home we went to putting two goats in the back of the truck instead of just one.
Hey, you think they'll have an in-flight movie this time?
The last time we took Nettie over to Pilgrim's pad, the lady told me that when we pulled out of the driveway to leave, Pilgrim was wailing & wailing.  They could barely drag him back to his pen.  And he didn't stay in the pen long either.  She said that the found him running down the driveway and looking down the road we took to go home.

Once again, we pulled in the driveway and were greeted by Pilgrim who was chained to the telephone pole:
Hey good look'n!  Couldn't get enough of me the first time, hugh?
Breeding the does turned out to be much more difficult than usual.  But in the past, they were familiar with the buck they were being bred to and this time we were hauling their pretty little tails down a highway at 50 mph and up and around hilly terrain before we got to the buck's residence.  An unfamiliar buck's residence.  And although it seems that strange does are a turn on for the buck, strange bucks are not a turn on for the does.  But it did seem that we had two good connections for each doe so I left it at that.  Normally I like to see three good hits, but I figured that even a horny goat needs time to recharge his batteries and that any more time together would just result in more pushing & shoving and no additional swapping of DNA.
Smell ya later!  Don't call us, we'll call you.
We hefted Nettie & Annette back in the truck and brought them back home just before nightfall.  I didn't even have to keep leads on them to bring them back in the goat pen, they high tailed it right to the gate and were practically pushing each other over to get back in.

But it seems that this caprine menage a trois was just too much for Pilgrim.  Because after we left this time, the owner said that they had to ask a neighbor for help getting him in his pen.  She said they had to basically hog tie him and drag him back to the barn.

I'm half expecting Pilgrim to walk up our driveway, pulling the chain and telephone pole behind him.  Just what I need......a goat stalker.

New Recruits

My chickens are pretty much a money pit right now.  Five roosters, one cockerel (who did manage to find his way into the coop last night) and fourteen hens.  And only a few eggs a day.  Not enough to sell.  Hardly enough to supply us with omelets and I can't recall the last time I sent Mom home with a dozen.

So last month I clicked on Murray McMurray under my "favorites" tab so I could order some Black Star and Australorp pullets and a few Polish Crested roosters (so the rest of the flock would have somebody to make fun of).  Alas, my perpetual procrastination prevented any possible pullet poultry purchases.  Of any breed.  I went through my favorite egg layers only to find that the males were the only ones available.  Then I started clicking on the other oddball or fancy breeds.....with no such luck.  Not a single pullet to be found.  Anywhere.  I even started doing a general internet search for "day old chicks" to see if I could find any other hatchery that still had pullets available.  And the only thing I found were Leghorns.  Which I suppose I could have bought if I were really desparate, but around here, white chickens do not last long.  Easy bobcat pickins with those "Eat Me" bright white feathers.  And I do prefer brown eggs as do just about anyone else that would buy them from me.

I would occasionally find a listing in the local paper or FB page for home hatched chicks, but all were the standard "barnyard mutt" mix.  Which normally I wouldn't mind, but I already have a barnyard mix and really need to get some pure strands of good egg layers in the mix.  I suppose I could have hatched out my own about a month ago, but now there's no way I'd be able to collect enough to fill the incubator as I'm only getting two or three eggs a day and then I'd still be back to hatching out a barnyard mutt mix anyhow.

I remember getting a flyer from the "big" feed store in town that had "Chick Days" on the front cover about a while back, so I had Paul stop by on his way home from work to see if they still had any left.  Luckily they did.  So I had him buy twenty Rhode Island Red pullets (the only breed they had) and a bag of chick starter.

Our new recruits are about four weeks old now (we got them three weeks ago and I guesstimated they were already a week or more old) and they are already outgrowing the small pen.  Once I get my bum in gear and clean out the larger pen I'll put them in there for "Phase Two".
Twenty not-so-happy-to-see-me pullets.  Or what were supposed
to be all pullets.  I think I spy at least one rooster in that batch.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Freedom...or Survival of the Luckiest

One of our hens went broody a few months ago.  I let her sit on a clutch of eggs, but she only ended up hatching out one live chick.  She and her lone chick were housed in one of the smaller pens in the barn for several weeks, but they had to vacate pending other "renters" (I'll explain next post).

Instead of just kicking the hen & her still-smallish chick out to the proverbial curb, I set them up in our chicken tractor.  Which was actually a vast improvement as they would now have fresh grass, sunshine and bugs to eat instead of being cooped up in the, well, coop.

Of course, it turns out that her little chick is a rooster.  And we already have five roosters here. Which I still have to buy chicken scratch for and I don't really want any more useless beaks to feed.  So yesterday I decided that it was time to let the hen and her little cockerel out of the chicken tractor into the wide open spaces of Krazo Acres.

From prisoners.....
to making a break for it...... FREEDOM!  Notice that we put a shock collar on Charlie.
We don't want him thinking it was Free Chicken Nugget Day on the farm.
I'm wasn't sure if she'd remember to go back into the coop at night, or if she'd stay with her chick outside if he couldn't manage / didn't want to follow her in there.  Call me heartless, but I didn't go looking for him much when dusk came around.  I figured if he made it, he made it.  If not, oh well.

But lo & behold, when I went outside this morning, he was in the front yard.....and not just a pile of bones and feathers.  He had gone back to the chicken tractor and hung out there.  He wasn't able to get inside of the tractor, so was still vulnerable to nocturnal chicken-munching critters, but he made it though the night.  I opened the big chicken coop and momma hen made her way back to him.  He's going to eventually have to learn to get up in the coop or he probably won't make it to his first cock-a-doodle-do.

I'm glad the mother hen found her way back to the coop and I hope that she starts laying eggs again because I'm only getting two or three eggs a day now from the whole lot of them.

And the general lack of eggs is one of the reasons I kicked them out of the pen anyhow.  I had to make room for the new recruits.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

RIP Moonshine

You'll be missed.  But I'm glad that you got to spend the last eight years as a country dog, chasing rabbits (as well as an old, overweight beagle with little stubby legs could anyhow) and helping us when we went squirrel hunting.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Light My Fire

One of Paul's co-workers has a flashy Nubian buck that we went to see last week.  Technically, we saw him a year ago when he was a cute little bottle fed spoiled kid, but I wanted to see how he filled out.  And fill out he did.  I wouldn't have recognized Pilgrim if had they not said it was him.

We initially thought we were going to pick him up and bring him to our place.  We (meaning Paul) fixed up a little bachelor pad for his visit using cattle panels and were fully intending to keep him here for at least a week, maybe even longer.  But after visiting with Pilgrim for about a half hour, it was pretty much evident that there was no way he was coming to our place.

He was very, very aggressive.  Paul's friend had to give Pilgrim a dozen or more "what-for's" just to keep him from charging over to us.  He'd rear up on his hind legs and challenge Paul's friend....and was as tall as him when he did so.  Oh, and did I mention that Pilgrim charged the wife one day during feeding time while her back was turned?  Pinned her against the barn wall and hurt her wrist so badly that she went to the ER to make sure it wasn't broken.

The owners claim that he was acting out of the ordinary that day.  Maybe trying to challenge his master in front of all of us?  Not sure.  But when Paul and I got in the truck to go home, we immediately agreed that Pilgrim was not coming to stay with us for any length of time.  An agreement was reached that we would still have Pilgrim breed Nettie, but he would have to be tied up with a chain before we even got there and we would bring Nettie to him.

Well, today was the day.  Nettie was off her feed yesterday and today she was a little bit pink in the behind with a little goo.  She wasn't in screaming-mimi-tail-flagging kind'a heat, but I think good enough.  We hauled Nettie over there right after Paul got off work and was relived to see Pilgrim tied to a telephone pole with very stout looking chain.  He wasn't as aggressive, but then again maybe he realized he was pretty much stuck where he was at.  All in all, we had three good connections, although I don't think Nettie was as receptive as she was with Pan.  But then again, Pan was always within the does sight, she knew him, and she didn't have to ride in the back of a pick up truck going up and down hilly gravel roads to have her date.  I'm sure just the jostling of the ride would pretty much damper any amorous feelings.

No more than twenty minutes later, we hefted Nettie back into the truck and she was reunited with her herd mates.  Of course, everyone was excited to see her and wanted to know how her newest boyfriend compared to Pan.  But like any properly raised doe, she's being tight-lipped about it and refuses to kiss and tell.

And speaking of lighting one's Fire, when we got home from goat luv'n Rhiannon asked if we were going to have a fire again.  We both thought that she was talking about the campfire we had two nights earlier and said that no, no fire tonight.  But she persisted and kept talking about a "camping fire".  Then pointed to the brush pile on the other side of the goat enclosure.

Paul had set the pile aflame on Friday morning during a light rain.  It caught for a few hours, but then died down to nothing.  We checked on it every once in a while and thought it had extinguished itself.  And honestly, I forgot about it.  I go over there twice a day to get hay from the hay hoop houses but never noticed any flames or even a burning smell.  But from the time Rhiannon pointed out a few licks of flames to how long it took me to put Nettie away and grab the camera from the house, this is what we had:

And it grew by the minute until the entire pile was engulfed in flames.  Paul is very careful when it comes to burning so the pile was already situated so it was nowhere near anything that could have easily caught on fire.  He purposely started the fire on Friday because it was raining.  But had a strong wind suddenly blown tonight, it could have taken embers into the nearby woods and caused a fire.  

Paul was outside watching the pile for two hours.  I brought him beverages and supper out there while Rhiannon and I ate inside.  The pile is still burning strong, but the leaves and small branches have all been spent and the larger logs are just burning now.  We'll continue to watch it through the night.  Not exactly what we'd like to be doing during a work week when the alarm clock goes off well before dawn, but I'm glad we were home when it rekindled.  And glad that our little girl was so observant.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Impromptu Camping Trip

We haven't been camping in close to a year.  Not that we don't want to, but it's a little difficult trying to sucker convince someone into taking care of the critters while we're away.  So last November we packed up our camping gear and headed down to the State Park conveniently located no more than seven miles from our front door.

I could then go camping with the family but was still be able to make a trip home at dusk to milk & close up the critters then do the same in the morning and not have to be away from our camping trip for very long.

So this weekend I made a split second decision that we should go camping again.  Saturday afternoon we dug out the air mattress (Paul & I have both since passed the age at which we will sleep on the bare ground) and tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear and obligatory marshmallows, chocolate bars & graham crackers.

The tent went up without much fuss at all and our sleeping accommodations for the evening were set up in no time flat.  Then Rhiannon and I went to making our fire ring.
View from inside our tent.  Wilderness galore!
Grandma and Papa came to visit (bearing German Chocolate cake) as well as one of Rhiannon's friends, her mother and her older sibling.  Supper consisted of hot dogs, mac & cheese, chips & dips. Dessert was, of course, S'mores.  Nothing like molten hot sugar and liquid-magma-chocolate smooshed between two thin cookies erroneously called "crackers".  And Second Dessert was German Chocolate cake.  I actually remembered to bring out the little light-up necklaces for the girls so we could keep an eye on them during their after-dark running-around-like-sugar-filled-crazy-kids.  I LOVE those things.

After everyone else went home, we crammed into the tent, zipped ourselves up in our sleeping bags and drifted off to sleep to the sounds of crickets, barred owl conversations and leaves rustling in the trees.  The moon was so bright last night that we didn't even need a flashlight to walk to the bathroom.   Then come sun-up, we unzipped our tent to face the great outdoors and were greeted by the local wildlife......

No, we didn't bring Charlie and Outside Kitty with us to the campground.  Our front yard was our campground.  Because I'm too darned lazy to pack the car up but I kind'a told Rhiannon that we were going camping this weekend and she wouldn't let me live it down until we were in a tent and cooking something over an open fire.

I made sausage-egg-cheese-whatever burritos over the campfire for breakfast, we cleaned up our campsite, put the tent away and came inside.
Just starting breakfast.
So all in all, it was a Win-Win situation.  I kept my promise to Rhiannon that we'd go camping and I didn't get yelled at by any Park Rangers for walking around the campsite in my skivvies.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Planning on a Jam-Free 2014

I made my first jam I don't know how many years ago back in the 'burbs using mulberries pilfered from trees located along a hiking trail to the park.  It was marvelous.

Then we moved here and I've been making jams or jellies out of just about any fruit or berry I can get my grubby paws on.  Wild grape, Strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, apple, persimmon, peach, pear.

It helps that we're a family of sweet-tooths (sweet teeths??).  And it also helps that jams and jellies are one of the easiest things to preserve.  So to say that I've made a ton of jams during our time here at Krazo Acres would be a bit of an understatement.  Some are immediately eaten, some are given away as gifts and the rest are stored in the pantry for later consumption.

This year was the first year I made peach jam.  My Mom's peach trees were loaded, so I got a bunch from her, as well as the freebie seconds peaches from the produce guy at the Farmers Market.  Then my awesome peach trees started producing, so once we ate our fill of fresh peaches, the others were put into the freezer to process at a hopefully-not-much-later time.   After making and tasting the peach jam, I excitedly exclaimed to any and everyone that I met that it was the best jam I've ever tasted.

Then our pear trees started dropping pears here & there.  So I did what I normally do with a sudden windfall of fruit; made them into jam.  And I now renege on my earlier peach-jam statement.  My pear jam is the best jam I've ever tasted.  Don't get me wrong.  Blueberry jam (what used to be my number one always love awesomeness jam) will always hold a special place in my heart, but this batch of cinnamon pear jam I made is to stinking die for.

So far I've made ten jars.  Two of which I've given away already, two of which have made their way into our maws and the other six are sitting pretty in the pantry.  Sitting pretty along with another 45 pint jars and 12 of those little jelly jars of various flavors.

Yes, I said we have over fifty jars of jelly in the pantry.  OMG.  I'm a jelly hoarder!   They aren't all from this year though; I actually have about a dozen jars from 2011 so those got pulled to the front.  I just finished canning the last of the pears not ten minutes ago (not jam, just pears!!) so they are finished, but I still have about ten pounds of strawberries in the freezer along with another ten pounds of peaches, I still have to pick the wild grapes and the persimmons are patiently awaiting the first frost.
Some of the jelly / jam shelves.  There are others still awaiting
placement in the pantry.  As soon as I make room (i.e. eat more).
I think I may need to start making PB&J's for every meal.  For like the next six months.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day Late and Dollar Short

Rhiannon, Grandma and I went to the library for Story Time last Wednesday.  After stories, the children do a coloring page / work sheet and a craft.  The craft that day was a calendar for September.

We were given a blank September with the dates on them, a few with pre-designated holidays already written on the corresponding days and some other holiday stickers.

Labor Day, Rosh Hashanan, Grandparent's Day and the beginning of Autumn were printed on there already.  We got stickers for Labor Day, National Hispanic Heritage Month, a Jewish Star (for Rosh Hashana I'm assuming) and a few leaf stickers to place wherever one should so desire.  If someone had a birthday in September, you also got a birthday cake sticker to put on your day of birth.

And the more I looked at our craft project, the more I got upset.  Yes, I know, I need to just let it blow over my head.  It's just a library craft project for toddlers.  Move on, Mommy.  Just let Rhiannon put the stickers on and shut up.  Well, I did shut up.  Ok, I think I did mention something to Grandma in a hushed-pissy tone.  But what was I so pissy about anyhow?

WHERE was the sticker for Constitution Day?!  We've got a Star of David sticker, Hispanic sticker, Labor Day sticker.....where's the freaking sticker with the picture of The Constitution on it?!

Ok, now you're all going to get ticked at me for being racist* now, but here goes:  As far as I know, there are very, VERY few Jewish families here (this is the Bible Belt, you know), even fewer "people of Hispanic ancestry", and we get stickers for those things?  But not a sticker acknowledging the document that our entire Country was based upon?  Constitution Day wasn't even printed on the calendar in a teeny-tiny font.  I guess I was the more disappointed in the fact that it was the library that didn't acknowledge the date.

*(I am quite anti-racist.  I hate everyone equally, regardless of skin color.  Unless you have blue zebra-striped skin.  But then that's not really racist, that's just kind'a creepy.)

I actually started this post last week and was going to post it yesterday but figured that you've all heard enough of my political ranting so I just blew it off.  Although I did post a question on my FB page asking if any teacher, parent or child mentioned anything about celebrating Constitution Day in school yesterday.

Nobody answered.  No one.

Then I even perused the internet looking and hoping for some - any - mention of the Constitution in the news.

None.  (Although admittedly, I only hit the "big" news sites)

Did you hear anything about the significance of September 17th in the papers, on the internet, on television yesterday?  Did the President say "Happy Constitution Day", or "If I had a son, he'd be celebrating Constitution Day"?  Of course not.  Because he and 99% of all the other politicaldouchebags are doing everything they can to trash it.  To make us forget about it.  To drive that document out of our minds, our of our culture, our of existence.

So, dear Sheeple of the United States, continue to celebrate every other thing this glorious month of September has to offer:

Life Insurance Awareness Month
National Chiari Malformation Awareness Month
National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
National Guide Dog Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month
National Fish Month
Lymphoma Awareness Month
National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
National Preparedness Month
National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Leukemia Awareness Month
National Sickle Cell Awareness Month
National Yoga Month
National Wilderness Month
National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month
National Childhood Obesity Awareness
Whole Grains Month
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Oh, and International Talk Like a Pirate Day (click HERE to see other wacky ones)

But pay no attention to that silly Constitution thingy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seed Swap - FYI

Last week I started a new tab up at the top of my blog with the title of "Seed Swap" with what seeds I've been able to harvest from my plants, wild plants and others given to me by family or friends.

Before winter sets in, I'll be trying to collect more and different seeds, so check back every once in a while to see if anything tickles your fancy.

If you'd like to swap something, or heck, just beg for some, post a commend under the Seed Swap page and we'll hook up!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Here's the Scoop....

....on Nettie's Poop.  Because I know you are all just going to be thrilled that I'll be talking about goat crap today.  Maybe even tomorrow.  But fortunately, no cow poop.  Because that would just be silly.

So.  We got a good (i.e. not Toy's R Us kind'a scope, but not an electron microscope either) microscope last year.  My reasons for getting one were two-fold.  Rhiannon's going to eventually need one for her homeschooling science classes and I really didn't like spending $20 a pop at the vet's office to drop off some goat berries to have them tell me that the sample was "ok".

What exactly, is "OK"?  I guess I should have pressed for more information from them, but I figured an "OK" was good enough for me.  But then that got me thinking.  How many parasite eggs is considered normal for my herd?  What types of parasites should I be worming for?  How often should I really be worming my herd?

There are many people out there (exactly where is there, and who the heck are they anyhow???) that claim that wormers do practically nothing for goats; that the wormers have been so overused that most goats are practically resistant to all the chemical wormers. Then, there isn't even a "Everything" wormer out there.  Most are just a broad spectrum wormer, promising to get rid of certain types of worms.  I've also heard the pros & cons of herbal worming compounds.

When we first got our goats, I was into the "All Natural Hippy Dippy" mind frame that we wouldn't use any chemicals, medicines, etc., when it came to caring for them.  I wanted my goats to build up a natural immunity to parasites.  I used to top dress the goat feed with herbal wormers.  I tried to keep things all neat & tidy & clean & sparkly so we wouldn't have any sickness.

Then we had a bad year.  Like, two goats dead.  One we put down because she had a serious case of pink eye that would keep popping up no matter how many herbal and traditional remedies we applied.  Then one of Nettie's doelings had a really hard kidding and got sick.  I kept an eye on her, but should have really dosed her up with antibiotics at the first sign of a fever.  But I didn't.  And she ended up dead.  Now they really didn't end up six feet under strictly because of worms/parasites, but a heavy parasite load can and will weaken a goat's body to where it isn't as easy for them to fight off those really nasty illnesses.

Now my Livestock Medicine Cabinet has antibiotics, chemical wormers and a myriad of other traditional medicines (i.e. not eye of newt and a bat wing doused in weasel urine) right along side the more natural herbs like wormwood, black walnut hulls & raw pumpkin seeds, and baking soda and probiotics.

The microscope is now also one of my weapons in the fight against goat maladies.  Because as we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  So getting back to the goat poop.

So here's what ya gott'a do if you want to look at stuff in poo.....

Gather the necessary equipment:
Microscope & slides
Test tubes (or other tall & narrow glass container with a flat & narrow top)
Small plastic throw-away cup (empty yogurt cup is great for this)
Epson Salt (or sugar)
Chop stick (or other disposable item for smooshing poop)
Cheese cloth (the cheap kind)
Goat willing to poop in a zippy bag.

The Day Before
Make a solution using either Epson Salt or Sugar.  I think the offical recipe for a salt solution is 1 pound of Epson Salt to one cup of water.  But I just winged it and put a cup or so of water in a glass and poured the Epson Salt into it until it was so saturated that it would not dissolve any more of the salt.  This took almost a day, but I just kept putting in salt & stirring whenever I thought about it.  And sometimes I forgot, so it probably took longer than it should have.

Poop Day
Find a goat and follow it around until it poops, then quickly shove zippy bag behind them to catch falling goat berries.  At which point the goat will totally freak out and run away, leaving you with an empty zippy bag and a lot of time to wait until the next poop.  You thought that goats are always pooping, right?  Well, they are.  Until the time you need them to crap-on-command.  Then everybody suddenly becomes constipated.  I'm actually pretty lucky.  I've noticed that when goats are laying down for a while, one of the first things they do once you make them get up is take a few steps and poop.  I was fortunate enough to go out to the goat yard and find Nettie under the barn.  I tempted her with a bucket of grain to get her to come out, then just waited like ten seconds after she got up & stuck her head in the bucket.  This "head in the feed bucket" also reduces your chances of the goat looking back to see a zippy bag placed by her butt.  But it does exponentially increase your chances of every other single goat within a quarter mile radius running you over in order to stick their heads into the feed bucket.

Poop in a bag.  Check.

Now put four goat turds into the yogurt cup (or other small, disposable cup of your choosing) and pour a few tablespoons of the salt/sugar solution in with the turds and smash them up into a poop soup using your chopstick (or other disposable item like one of the six-hundred sporks in the little salt/pepper/spork/napkin packets that you get with your favorite chinese take-out that you keep saving in your kitchen drawer thinking you'll use them one day).

Take a small square of cheap cheesecloth & fold it over a few times so there are four layers of cloth, then place it over the yogurt cup, secure it with a rubber band, then strain the poop soup into your test tube and top it off with the salt solution until it is almost overflowing.  Don't have a test tube or other long, skinny glass container?  Truth be told (and I do so love telling the nasty truth around here), I used a shot glass.  Because I never made the effort to order test tubes.  But I do now have an order in, along with some more scientific stuff.  Ok?  Ok then, let's move on.

The only drawback with using a shot glass (besides not being able to use said shot glass for whiskey any longer) is that you'll need much more of the solution to fill the glass.  Because you need the strained poop soup/salt solution to fill to the tippy-top of the glass container in order for you to "grab" up the floating parasite eggs with the glass slide.  So do yourself a favor and don't procrastinate like I did.  Buy the stinking test tubes.  Right now.

Once you've got your test tube (or shot glass) filled to the top, you'll need to keep it someplace undisturbed for about 20 minutes.  If you were a good scientist, you'll have already purchased your test tubes and maybe even one of those fancy test tube holders.  If you didn't buy the holder, make one using a cardboard box, make "X"'s in the top and shove the tubes in through that.  If you're me, you'll make sure that the shot glass is placed where it does not pique any toddler, husband or feline's interest and cause glass of watered-down feces to become spilt - or worse yet - accidentally sipped by someone with an overactive sense of adventure and an underdeveloped sense of smell.

About a half-hour later, grab your slide and place it over the test tube / shot glass, then flip the slide over carefully so you keep most of the liquid on there, place the cover glass on the slide, and put it on the microscope.

I started looking at 10x10 zoom, then when I thought I saw something that looked like an egg, I clicked over to the 40x10 zoom.  It took me a while to get the hang of it, but once you see an egg it's pretty easy to scan the slide for them.  Nettie's sample came up with only one type of egg and I'm pretty sure it the common thread worm (Strongyloides papillosus) a type of intestinal worm.  Actually kind'a freaky as there's a little worm moving around in the egg.

According to one website, the thread worms don't shed tons of eggs, so a dozen eggs in a slide would indicate a decent worm load.  Since I'm drying up Nettie anyhow, I decided to orally dose her with 4 ml of Ivomec to get rid of the worms.  I'm going to give it a few days and then do another sample to see if it was effective as well as taking samples from another goat to see if the rest of  the herd needs worming.  Let's hope that my order of test tubes show up before then.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fair Time

Rhiannon and I cut out of the Farmers Market early this morning to take advantage of the free admission into our local County Fair for school groups.  We met up with the local homeschooling group we recently joined and walked around the fairgrounds for a while.

We went through the horticulture building, arts and crafts building and I drooled over the cakes and pies on display in the home economics building.  It didn't seem as if there were as many entries in any of the categories this year.  We did an obligatory sweep through the Commercial buildings, saw a few familiar faces and had to run through the aisle with the political hacks trying to slap election stickers on my kid and bribe her future vote with fun sized candy bars.  Which I was actually able to refuse as Rhiannon already had a sucker from one of the church groups.  (Hmmmm.......also trying to vie for my child's "vote" using candy.  Sneaky buggers.)

We then made our way towards the move odoriferous areas of the fair.  First was the Critter Barn where the smaller livestock were held.  Chickens that made my barnyard flock look like a bunch of meth-head, white trash poultry.  Rabbits in all sizes and furry-ness.  Pigeons that looked as if they were giving me a double-take by craning out their necks then suddenly pulling their little heads in like it was going to be sucked into their chest.  And some of the biggest looking tom turkeys I've ever laid eyes on (Which didn't have any toenails.  Is that normal to lop them off for show??)

Then we went into the larger barn where the cattle, goats, sheep and hogs were kept.  I just kept thinking about burgers, lamb chops and bacon.  And while there was really nothing for Rhiannon to "Ooooh and Aaaahhh" about as farm animals are pretty much a daily sight, she did point out a few of the hogs that she'd like to have.  As would I because we've long since consumed the bacon from our last hog and have only breakfast sausage left.
Petting the Pork Chop (with the owner's permission, of course).
Rhiannon was also a bit disappointed in the fact that the midway was closed until later that evening.  I however, was much relieved as I didn't want to have to be Mean Mommy and try explaining to her why every other kid in the world was on the rides but she wasn't allowed to go on them.  (Carnival rides freak me out.  How safe can one of those rides be when you can break them down in ten minutes then shove them into a travel trailer smaller than my Hyundai??  Or I'm just being paranoid?  Or both.)  I'm also a cheap skate.  One of the kiddie rides was four tickets.  Tickets are a buck-fifty each.  No thanks.  I would have much rather spent the six bucks on a sub-par, disappointingly-small funnel cake served by a teenager using a pair of tongues she just picked up off the floor. (I saw that one year. Seriously.)

So another County Fair has come and gone.  Paul asked me earlier this week why I've never entered anything into the Fair.  I told him it really didn't "do" it for me.  My blue ribbon for baking / cooking is the enjoyment my family gets from stuffing a cookie or baked chicken down their maws.  But I may enter something along with Rhiannon when she's old enough to pick out a category or animal.  And I'm hoping that it's something like "Photography" or "Jams & Jellies" instead of "Market Steers".

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thanks for the Grub(s)

Miss Kitty cook'n up some grub for supper.
Rhiannon, Grandma and I spent an inordinate amount of time sweating & sifting through my new'ish raised bed.  I started this bed in the spring of 2012 as a "Lasagna" type garden and then just threw organic stuff in it as I remembered.  It sat unused for over a year.  Then this summer it was finally ready for planting so I shoved some horseradish roots in there hoping they would take off in the oh-so-wonderful rock-free and nutrient-rich soil.

So exactly what were we sifting?  Maybe harvesting those horseradish roots?

Nope.  We were harvesting grubs.  Big, plump, thicker-than-my-pinky-finger grubs.  I was wondering why my horseradish plants were so pathetic looking so I dug them up to see what was going on under the surface.  And I pulled out like six grubs just pulling the two tiny plants.

I put the pathetic horseradish into a planter with some good soil, watered it and put it aside.  Then went to digging through the rest of the bed.  I found grubs with every single scoop of the shovel.  My plan was to put garlic in that bed this Fall and since I didn't really want to encourage any more Japanese Beetles from reaching maturity, I figured I really needed to purge the entire bed of the root-munching pests.

This is why you saw the kitty picture first, because I didn't want to gross anybody out with a grub picture as the first thing you saw when you went onto Blogger:
Feel free to click on this to enlarge it.
But if you gag, don't blame me.
A writhing, wriggling mass of grubs.  Enough to fill an entire quart jar and all from a 2 1/2 x 5' bed.  I thought Mom was going to hurl when she saw the pile of grubs.  Both Rhiannon & Mom refused to pluck them from the soil with their bare hands, so Rhiannon was carefully scooping them up with a little garden trowel and dumping them in the grub-tub.  Which I'm glad they did because at one point one of the buggers actually grabbed my finger with his jaws, and while it didn't hurt at all, it was freaky feeling and I ended up flinging him halfway across the yard without thinking.  I hope he fried to a crisp in the 95 degree heat.

Although my chickens refuse to even peck at a hornworm, they absolutely love grubs.  Go to town gals!

I did notice a strange thing while digging through the bed; I only saw one earthworm.  All that wonderful dirt and only one stinking worm.  I wonder if the grubs "chased" the worms away.

I'm going to dig through the bed once more before I plant the garlic because I'm sure that I missed some grubs.  And I know the chickens will appreciate my efforts.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Completely Non-Farmish Rambling, Part 2

Remember that damnittohell chigger bite I had on my toe?

Yep, still itching, but not nearly as bad.  Almost soaked my foot in a bucket of Clorox yesterday.


When I was writing that last chigger post and doing research on my chigger-facts to make sure I wasn't a complete rambling iddiot, I also did a search on the toes.  Like, were there certain names for the specific toes?  You know, besides "Big Toe" and "Pinky Toe".

Did you know that only the big and last digits on your feet actually have names?  Hallux is the technical/medical term for your big toe and the common name for the last toe is, as we all know, the pinky toe.  So why did the other three toes between "This Little Piggy went to Market" and "Wee-wee-wee all the way home" get jipped out of proper names?  Doesn't seem fair if you asked me.  Which you didn't.
"This Littly Piggy....."  Cute or scary? 
Then that got me thinking about the "This Little Piggy" rhyme we all know and love.  Well, you may not love it after I reveal this shocking news to you.  Because it took me into my late twenties to realize that the little piggy that want to "Market" wasn't so much grabbing her purse and running out the door to do some grocery shopping at the local supermarket for bread and milk.

Nope.  That piggy was going to be shot or bludgeoned to death, chest cut open from neck to anus, have his insides ripped out of his body and then cut up into various cuts of pork, wrapped in butcher paper and put into the freezer.  It was THAT kind of Market.

So we now know the real story.  Piggy number one, the biggest (Big Toe) went to the slaughterhouse.  He did not go to do his weekly grocery shopping at Trader Joe's.

Piggy number Two got to stay home.  Possibly to be used as breeding stock.

Piggy number Three was obviously being fattened up as he was being feed roast beef, and will soon meet Piggy number One in the freezer section as packages of breakfast sausage, bacon and chops.

Piggy number Four didn't get any roast beef.  The reasoning for his starvation is left up to our imagination.  Which isn't necessarily a good thing given what's happening already.

And Pinky, Piggy number Five, was obviously witness to his mother/father being slaughtered and ran screaming in horror all the way back to the farm.

Probably into the arms of a hungry farmer thinking how wonderful it would be to have a young and  tender pig on the spit for the weekend picnic.

So there you go folks.  Another nursery rhyme totally ruined for you.

You're welcome.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Everybody into the Pew-L

The goose is getting pretty big and I think we've identified him (or her) as an African Goose.

No names have really stuck, but so far he's been called Sally, Goose-goose, Beep-beep and my favorite, Pew-Pew.

He's been pretty good with everyone and has only bit Rhiannon once or twice.  Not that I really blame him as only seconds before one of the "goosings" I saw Rhiannon with her hands gripping his neck like a baseball bat.  So it looks as if we may not have a Christmas Goose for supper.  Not sure if I'm happy about that or not.

Pew-Pew has his own kiddie pool to lounge in, but I have to dump out the water every other day or it gets really nasty.  It would probably be best if I did it every day, but I'm lazy.  I was hoping that giving him his very own swimming pool would keep him from mucking up every other bucket of water, but no such luck.
I put clean water in that bucket for the dogs not five minutes earlier.
I swear, if I put a solo cup of water outside he'd try to cram his butt in it and crap.  And even if he isn't taking a dump in one of the lower-sided water receptacles, he'll rinse his beak out in the 5-gallon water / dog buckets and even the new metal stock tank I got for the goats, leaving an icky, oily residue floating on top.

During evening barn chores, I'll call the goose and he follows me into the goat pen for the night and he's been bedding down in one of the blue barrels we made for goat kid condos.  At first I had to play goat-wrangler trying to corral him down the path to the goat area, but eventually convinced him to come with me every evening by promising a handful of grain when he followed me.  He'd be a sitting duck, er, goose out in the yard at night and I don't really want to explain to Rhiannon why Pew-Pew's feathers are scattered all over the front yard.

For the past few weeks he's been attempting to fly, but just kind of runs on his tippy-toes, flapping like crazy.  Not sure if we'll clip his wings so he stays around here or if I'll just let nature take it's course, wave a fond farewell when / if he manages to take flight and be thankful that I'll no longer have to clean out every single stinking water bucket every single stinking day.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Completely Non-Farmish Rambling, Part 1

Dante obviously never had a chigger bite otherwise he would have most certainly had a giant chigger guarding one of the Circles of Hell.

I currently have one (a chigger bite, not a copy of "Inferno") located between my pinky toe and second to last toe.  It is absolute hell.  Really.  I've considered everything from dousing it with napalm to lopping my toe off with my pruning shears.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to provide to some information and clear up some overly-popular misconceptions about chiggers and their bites.

1) The scientific term for a chigger is Trombiculidae.  They are a teeny-tiny (that's a technical term also, btw) mite that is found throughout the world in temperate regions and in the US are found mostly in the south, southeast and Midwest.

2) The chigger goes through four stages in it's life cycle; egg, larva, nymph and adult.  The larval stage is the one we're most concerned about and which we totally and undeniably despise with every ounce of our being.  The larva live in low, damp vegetation like your lawn, then find a tasty piece of your flesh (usually in the cracks between your digits or around tight-fitting clothing like your socks or the elastic around your skivvies, damn them), inject digestive enzymes into their chosen dining area, then digest the liquid goo that was once a piece of your skin.

Now here is the most important part, and the part that I oh so badly want to print up on a bunch of pamphlets and give to the spouters of Chigger-Mis-Information:

When you start to itch from a chigger bite, the chigger is most likely already GONE.  Being satisfied and moved on to become a nymph, scratched off by your fingernails or otherwise just up and left.  The chigger did NOT bury itself into your flesh.  It did NOT lay eggs under your skin.  That little red dot is not an egg, but a scar from the little drinking cup the chigger had made of your flesh.

Painting red nail polish over the chigger bit will not kill it as it is already long gone and on it's way to producing more bastardchiggers. Why red nail polish?  I have no idea, but I've heard people here swear that it has to be red.  Can you imagine somebody painting red nail polish all over their bodies?

Taking a bath in a solution of Clorox bleach will not kill the chiggers.  Because as I've mentioned above, when you start itching, the chiggers are more than likely gone already.  And exactly how much Clorox (yes, I've been told it has to be Clorox, none of that cheap Walmart bleach) does one dump into their bathwater?  And more importantly, wouldn't one be really, really concerned about submerging one's bare-neekid body with obviously tender and delicate parts into a vat filled with questionable amounts of sodium hypochlorite?

Now that I've ripped on the whole bleach "remedy", I will say this.  Yes, I've dabbed bleach on one or two of them.  And the only thing it does is replace the itching with a "holyshitthatburns" feeling.  For a short while.  Then you're back to the itching.

There are products out there that claim to relieve the hell-that-is-a-chigger-bite, this being one of them:
Liar.  Bit, fat, stinky liar.
And I even have that exact jar in our medicine cabinet.  But only to give to my friends visiting from the city just so they shut up about it.  Because in my opinion, nothing releives a chigger bite.

So there, my dear readers, is the honest-to-goodness truth about Chiggers.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labored Day

Paul had off work yesterday and Grandma took Rhiannon for several hours so Paul & I did some hiking around the property.

Marked some of the trees that I didn't want bulldozed, identified two new wildflowers (Lobelia and Blazing Star) and did some weeding / watering / gardening.

It wasn't nearly as hot outside as it had been earlier in the week so I was hoping to get more stuff done outside, but on our second break, I pulled off my boots to find my right foot covered in seed ticks.

Then after cooling off and de-ticking myself, I went back outside to weed the strawberry bed and was relentlessly attacked by a horsefly the size of a silver dollar (not exaggerating) and bit by seven thousand mosquitoes (only slightly exaggerating).

So I didn't weed the entire strawberry bed as planned.  But I did pull a bunch of travelling berry plants that I put into a bucket of water until I decide what to do with them.  I really need to thin the strawberry bed, but I'm not quite sure where I'm going to put them.  This year's harvest was great and I'd like to increase our harvest, but then a new bed is going to have to be built and "soil" found to fill said future bed.

I then moved on to the new garden.  The half-dead and not-producing zucchini plants were ripped out of their mounds and replaced with new seeds and my never-even-sprouted-rotted-in-the-ground row of beans were also replaced with new bean seeds.  All while swatting mosquitoes.

I'm probably pushing the envelope on getting a full harvest from the zukes & beans before the cold weather hits, but what the heck.  At least the cold will kill off some of these darned bugs.  If we're lucky.