Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ok, now I'm ticked.

Yesterday evening there were some rain clouds in the distance and thunder heard.  And what did we get?  About twenty minutes of a light drizzle.  Not even enough to wet down the dusty road.  And this morning?  Light drizzle that lasted a whole ten minutes.  And when I look on the radar (I’m a computer radar addict) there is rain to the north, east, south AND west of us.  Now how the heak does that happen??? 
Same thing happened the weekend my Dad & Sister were in.  They called when they were about a half hour north of us and were in a driving rainstorm.  Cross over the Missouri border into Arkansas and just like magic, no rain.  Not a drop.
Well, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the lake and the hills surrounding us.  It’s like a storm will come from the west and the hills will cut the storm in two, leaving us in the middle with nada.  Well, I do have to admit that I like that little feature in the winter when the nasty weather comes in.  But right now, would it KILL somebody to let us have a little bit of rain???
The goats have nibbled away just about all the greenery in their enclosures.  The lawn crunches when you walk on it.  We have to water every day, sometimes even twice a day just to keep things from getting crispy.  And I think we’re going to lose a big oak tree as the leaves have all turned brown and crunchy.
Local forecast shows three digit temps until Friday and only a 20% chance of rain later in the week.  Insane.
I can’t imagine how one would keep a garden alive without a well or city water.  We’d like to one day have a large cistern by the house to use for garden watering, but in a drought like this, how large of a tank would one need?  I can’t even begin to guess how much water we’ve been using on the gardens this summer, although if I did have to take a wild guess, I’d say maybe three hundred gallons a day.  The eighteen fruit trees probably get the most soaking, but the rest is on the two gardens and the handful of potted veggies. 
We’ve got to get an irrigation system set up for next year.  Not only will it save tons of time, but we can really focus on watering the actual vegetables we planted (and not the nearby weeds) and not waste so much water. 

Milking Woes

As if slow-cooking my newly hatched chicks isn’t bad enough, one of my does has mastitis.  Nettie, my wonderful, well-behaved, lovey-goat great milker, has Mastitis in her left udder.  I’ve read a lot about it, and hear stories from other bloggers and dairy forums, but never thought it would happen to us.  You know, mastitis only happens in those huge factory farms, or in dirty poopy milking rooms or if you don’t wash your milking equipment well enough, right?  I suppose I was in denial for a while, mostly because it wasn’t an acute case and Nettie didn’t seem to be in any pain. 
About two weeks after I took Nettie’s doelings off her to wean them, I started noticing a bit of light yellow sediment in the bottom of the milk jars after they sat in the fridge for a few days.  I didn’t think much of it at the time and attributed it to the fact that I had also started the goats on Selenium and figured it was from that.  About the same time, Nettie’s left side udder started putting out less milk than usual.  Once again, I didn’t think much of it and figured it was because the does weren’t nursing and the fact that her left side always put out less milk than her right half. 
I stopped the Selenium but the sediment was still there.  And her left side kept putting out less and less milk.  Did some brushing up on my Mastitis reading and found out that the sediment could be a sign of mastitis.  She didn’t have any of the other “normal” signs of mastitis; clots or blood in the milk, hot udder (although it’s been like a million degrees outside so it was kind’a hard to tell), sensitive udder or higher than normal temperature in the goat (took her temp and it was on the high side of normal, but figured it was because it was so hot outside).
There are a few over-the-counter tests you can purchase for checking for mastitis, although technically they only check for somatic cell counts (SCC) and not the actual bacteria responsible for mastitis.  If you want to be 100% sure if it’s mastitis and get the exact medication for the specific bacteria causing the mastitis, you have to send in a milk sample to one of a small handful of places, the closest one around here being LSU.  The cost of the test itself is usually low, if not free, but the milk sample has to arrive at the lab cold.  Which means it has to be sent via FedEx or UPS overnight with several cold packs.  And it costs from $56 - $92 to do that depending on if I wanted a morning or afternoon delivery.   I called FedEx and asked them if they thought my sample with cold packs would make it to the final destination still cool.  No guarantee, especially with the excessive temperatures we were having.  I didn’t want to risk the $ if it didn’t have a good chance of even getting to the lab in a useable condition.  Call me a bad goat owner, but I opted for less expensive option.
So here’s what I got:
I bought it online from Caprine Supply for $17.95 plus something like $5 for shipping.  It comes with the concentrated solution, a mixing bottle, the little milk sample paddle / cup thingy and instructions.  There is enough solution for bunches & bunches of tests.  Yes, that is the technical terminology.  The only thing I wasn’t too crazy about was that the standard mixing bottle (and measurements used for testing) made way too much solution.  I could have tested a huge herd of goats with the mixed solution, but since there weren’t any other measuring instructions, I had to use the mixing bottle that came with the kit.  So about 95% of the solution goes into the garbage.  But I still think it’s a good deal for the money, even with the waste.
Anyhow…..You pour the concentrate up to the bottom line in the mixing bottle, then fill the rest of it up with water and shake until well mixed.  Put your samples of milk into the paddle & tip the milk out until the milk level is even with the outer circle in the sample paddle.  Tilt the paddle back until the milk sample is halfway between the larger outer and smaller inner circle and then add the mixed solution until the milk/solution level reaches the inner circle.  Swish the milk around and results happen within seconds.
If the milk solution gets gooey or gels up, there is a high count of somatic cells in the milk sample.  Which means you probably have a case of mastitis. 
I did my test three times.   And not necessarily because I wanted to triple-check the results.
I washed Nettie’s udder, wiped her teat with the alcohol prep pad, discarded the first three or four squirts of milk, and then milked about a half cup of milk into a disposable cup.  Did the same with the other side.  I forgot to label the disposable cups so I just made a little tear in the top of the cup which held the suspect milk.
Took both cups of milk into the house and did my test. 
Put the milk from the suspect teat into one of the paddle cups.  The first time I swished the milk solution around, nothing really happened.  I kept swishing and swishing and even waited five minutes and swished again.  It just looked like purple-tinged milk.  But as I’ve never done this before, I started really, really looking for gelling or gooing of the solution.  After several more swishes, a few tiny bubbles started to form from the motions and wait, could that be some gelling around the bubbles?  Well, if I stared at it long enough, it kind’a looked like it had some gelling around the sides of the bubbles.  Kind’a.  But not really. 
So I tried again.  With the same results. 
And then I realized that I had taken the non-torn cup (i.e. the milk from the non-suspect side of her udder) the first two times.   Duh.  Next time remember to actually write “Left” and “Right” on the sample cups.
So the third time I did the test with milk from her left side.  And it gelled up in about five seconds.  Now I had pretty much positive evidence of mastitis.  And although it sounds bad, I was a bit relieved that it did test positive.  Well, maybe the correct term isn't "relieved", but I was glad that we now had some idea what we were dealing with and how I was going to treat her.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Goat Goings-On

All the goat kids have been sold (or eaten) or given away.  Our goat herd is now down to a much more manageable number; five.  My does Nettie, Ishtar and Annette, Chop Suey the wether and Pan the stinky-buck. 
I also had to make a hard decision and let Cloud and her spotted doeling go (albeit for a nice little chunk o’ change).  I didn’t want to sell her because she was already a good milker for a first freshener, but decided it just had to be done.  Feed prices are continuing to rise and really, do I need to be milking four does, especially when at times I have so much milk that I have to make cheese just to get “rid” of the milk?  So Cloud and her doeling went to a farm in town which already has two Jersey cows, but the husband missed the taste of goat milk from his younger days.  At least she’ll be milked and appreciated.
I was overwhelmed this year with all the kids.  I’m sure Paul will remind me of this fact when it comes to breeding time this fall.  I guess that’s one of the problems with raising dairy goats.  If you want milk, you have to deal the kids.  And it wasn’t as easy as I thought to sell the kids, especially the doelings, which was kind’a weird.  So now I’m thinking about how to start our meat goat herd… worry about selling the kids, just fatten them up & into the freezer they go!  I know the exact same could be said for the dairy kids, but they just don’t dress out to a decent amount of meat, at least in my opinion, to make it worth the trouble of butchering.
Now that my little dairy herd has been pared down to a number I can count on one hand, goat chores are much more manageable.  And less costly.  I’ve been putting everyone (except Pan, who is stuck in his bachelor pen…poor guy) in the back yard to get some fresh greens (before everything shrivels up and dies in this stinking heat wave) and provide some lawn maintenance (so I don’t have to mow).  Much easier to move four goats back & forth every day than the thirteen we had here at one point. 
I’m also milking two goats instead of four.  I suppose I normally would be milking three (Nettie, Ishtar and Annette), but I’ve started drying up Nettie….and not necessarily because I wanted to. 
:: Insert scary music here :: Dunn, dunn, dunn, dunnnnnnnn……
She has mastitis in one side of her udder.
 I’ll talk about my first encounter with mastitis in my next blog post.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tomato Cucumber Salad

We have almost as many cucumbers as we do squash.  And I traded a bag full of squash for a bag full of tomatoes from a friend of mine.  Our tomatoes aren’t doing very well.  Only a small handful of Roma and some yellow pear tomatoes.  The ones I got from my friend were Roma and some sort of large slicing tomato.  Which I immediately cut into a thick slice, put it on a hunk of fresh bread and sprinkled with salt & pepper.   Nothing better than a fresh tomato sandwich.  Well, I suppose some bacon would be grand, but as the bacon is the first thing to get eaten from our half-hog, I had to live with just the juicy tomato.

Since I still had a decent amount of tomatoes left, I figured I’d make a cucumber & tomato salad.  Honestly, I’ve never made it.  I don’t know why, but I just don’t make salads, lettuce or otherwise.  And I love them.  Whenever we have a get together, I always ask people to bring some sort of lettuce, pasta or veggie salad. 
Anyhow, since the tomatoes and cucumbers were just staring at me, I chopped them up, added some sweet onion chunks and poured a poppy seed dressing over them.  So stinking simple, and I’ve never made it until now. 

Hopefully we’ll be able to continue swapping squash for tomatoes and I’ll make this again real soon.
How stinking easy can it be Poppy Seed Dressing:
¾ Cup Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp. Poppy Seeds
Combine all in blender & zip away!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Local resident comments on weather

It was 102.9 about an hour and a half ago when I went to top off the goat / chicken water.

It's now a much more tolerable 101.

The Monster Zucchini

My Sister and Dad made the six-hundred-something mile trip this past Saturday to visit us!

It was great to see them, although I did neglect the farm stuff a bit.  The barn / gardening chores took a backseat to family fun.  Chores that involved animals didn't change much except maybe occuring a little bit later than usual.

Gardening stuff was only done to the extent that I kept everything watered as to avoid my entire vegetable crop withering from the heat, drying to a crisp and blowing away in the desert like heat and occasional convection oven wind.
Do you know what you get when you fail to look over your squash garden for five days?  This:

Or to put it in better perspective:
Geezus Momma, what am I supposed to do with this?

The heat didn't waver for my family visit either; 100 degree temps the entire time.  We did manage to take a trip to the local spring swimming hole though, and it was quite refreshing.

Dad and Christine left yesterday morning so I had all of yesterday to get back into the swing of things.  Did the laundry, cleaned up a bit, made some bread, chopped up some yellow squash and zucchini for last night's dinner and made a quiche for Paul's breakfast this morning (which included zucchini, imagine that). 

Quiche is not only one of my favorite breakfast (or brunch, or lunch, or dinner) items, but it's a great way to use up the milk, cheese and eggs we seem to have in abundance during the summer.  It also keeps well in the fridge so I like to make it the evening before so I don't have to make breakfast in the morning.  Lazy?  Maybe.  Smart?  Yep.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hey, I'm crafty too!

Although it may seem that all I do is work on farm-related stuff around here, I actually have a house and occasionally do home decorating kind’a stuff.  Nothing as adventurous as Mama Tea's furniture refinishing or on as large of a scope as a kitchen remodel like Mama Pea, Amanda or Leigh, but I’m a little bit crafty when I want to be….and can find the time.

So instead of showing you pictures of my heat-battered and pathetic garden or bore you with stories of slow-cooker chicks today,  I will attempt to cause you to yawn at least a few times (or entirely skip this post even) and show off one of my few & far between home decorating repurposing projects.
Our house is log, so the interior / exterior walls are, well, logs.  The theme (if you can call it that) in most of the house is woodsy / country / outdoor’ish.  Most of the interior walls are some sort of green, there are wooden baskets everywhere, animal décor on the walls, and the ever-popular (and stylish if I might add) ball of cat fur stuck in the corners and under the buffet table.  Anyhow.
The former owners didn’t share my decorating ideas.  It looked very 80’s in here.  The wallpaper was pastel colored brush strokes, lots of gold hardware and lighting, plush carpeting (even in the bathrooms & kitchen…ick!!!), etc.  Something you wouldn’t expect to see inside a log home.  But oh well.
In the six years we’ve been here, I’ve gradually redecorated to suit my tastes.  The first thing to go (in like only five days after we closed on the house) was the carpeting.  Then the wallpaper.  Paul turned the oddly laid-out and huge master bathroom into a more user-friendly master bath and a separate guest bath.  Put in a wood burning stove.  Last year I put in laminate flooring in the bedroom.  Had vinyl flooring put in the kitchen to replace the carpeting.  
But back to my new not-so-difficult-but-darned-attractive project.
The chandelier above the kitchen table was an eye-blinding gold-tone.  I hated it every time I looked up at it.  And every time I found myself at the home improvement store in town, I’d walk down the lighting isle and dream about one day forking over the cash to replace my bling-bling kitchen lighting with a more rustic looking chandelier.
But I’m cheap.  And hate to think that there wasn’t something I could do with that stupid light fixture.
I’d had a pretty good idea what I was going to do with it for a while now, but just didn’t have the courage to start the project.  And now that I realize how simple it was, I kick myself for not doing it sooner.
Here’s the bling-bling chandelier before (I didn’t think to take a picture of it until after I started to take it down):

And here’s my new-to-me, rustic looking kitchen light:
It only cost me about $12 to do it.  All I did was take apart all the little fittings and cleaned them and the main fixture up with some soap and water.  Hung up the fixture outside and put all the little pieces on a paper bag to dry.  When they were dried, I just sprayed them with Rust-Oleum multicolor textured spray paint.  I did have to spray them twice, three times in some difficult to reach spots, but it wasn’t difficult at all.
I originally put the fixture back up with the glass shades unchanged, but it didn’t look right.   So I got another can of non-textured spray paint and gave the interior sides of the shades a light coating.  At first I thought it looked too dark, but I’m used to it now and am happy as a clam.  (Where the heak did that phrase come from? And honestly, does anyone really know if they’re happy???)
So now I’m looking around the house at all the other light fixtures and gold-toned hardware and wondering if I can stop myself from painting them all!

Paul's Take
So she says to me one evening, "I saved you $100!".  She meant by not buying a new light for the kitchen.  But she still spent $12 on paint and the fuel to get to the store (twice, by the way).  So how did spending $20 on repainting a perfectly good light fixture save me money? 
I don't get it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

And then, there was One

Another hatching attempt down the drain.  Out of twenty-nine eggs I originally put into the incubator, twenty were viable.  From the twenty, seventeen hatched.  Of the seventeen live hatches, two had deformities in their legs and had to be put down. 

Of the fifteen chicks left, I now have one lonely survivor.  It’s been unbelievably hot and humid here the past week.  It was 105.4 on Saturday and over 100 degrees every day since; the humidity is beyond insane.  I had put the chicks in the barn on Friday with their feed & water.  By Sunday morning, seven of the chicks had died.  Then this morning I found another six had bit the dust.  One was missing (probably managed to squeeze through the cage) and the lone chick was peeping by him/herself.
I suppose I should have kept them in the house and set up a brooder for them in the basement, but after having raised a flock of chicks in the house before, I swore we’d never do it again.  It was just so incredibly messy.
So my theory of having chicks hatch in the summer so they wouldn’t need a heat lamp on them 24/7 turned out to be a fatal flop.  It was just too hot for them.  And now I feel like crap that I let fifteen baby chicks basically cook to death. 
I’m going to try incubating again, although I’ll wait a few more weeks before I start saving eggs in hopes that the weather will eventually become cooler.  Or at least not Suicidal Squirrel Hot.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let the Peeping Begin!

I put twenty-nine eggs in the incubator three weeks (or so) ago.  Last week I finally got around to candling them. Either the rooster isn’t hitting his mark or there are a few hens that manage to resist his rooster-groove as nine of them weren’t fertile.  So I had twenty fertile eggs.  Still a decent number.

Tomorrow was supposed to be hatching day, but last night I heard the faint sound of chick peeps coming from the incubator.  Not sure if I didn’t write down the correct date (I marked it down on the calendar after the fact because family was in and I forgot in the mayhem) or if I had the temps up higher than normal or what.
Regardless of the reasoning for the miscalculation, last night three eggs had pipped and were cheeping at me.  This morning I woke up to the much louder peeping and three chicks.  This afternoon has us up to twelve fuzzballs and three pipping.  That is what it’s called when they just start breaking the shell, isn’t it?? Somebody please tell me if I’m wrong so I don’t go around making a fool of myself.  As if that would take much effort on my part.

Not sure what I was thinking, could be that I haven’t been thinking, but I don’t even have the chick section of the barn cleaned out yet.  I’ve got the feeders, waterers and feed all ready, but no place to put the chicks yet.  Good thing I can keep them in the incubator for a little while longer while I get my butt outside and clean out their stall. 
In the 103.6 degree heat.
At least I won’t have to keep a heat lamp on them during the day .
Although I may have to set up a swimming pool or miniature A/C unit for them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Would you like some Squash with your Squash?

It’s summer time, and in the garden that usually means there is an overabundance of squash.  Yellow squash, crookneck squash, zucchini, cucumbers (that kind’a counts as a squash, right???). 
Our yellow squash and zucchini have taken off and I can’t cook them fast enough.  One of the last people who came here to pick up some goat milk left with a bag of squash. If we lived in a neighborhood I’d be sticking bags in random mailboxes.
Squash casserole, zucchini bread, sautéed squash with onions and breaded and fried squash (artery-hardening-goodness!).  I’ve even started putting slices of zucchini in my ten-pound stuffed pizza.  Great way to get “rid” of zucchini and goat cheese at the same time.

My winter squash plants are also taking off.  I’ve actually planted two batches of butternut, the last one about a month ago.  I’ve never planted winter squash before so I’m hoping to be able to root -cellar some of them and see how long they will last through the winter.

We also started a tractor tire of potatoes in wasted hay.  Never planted them before so this was kind of an experiment.  Nothing fancy, just some of the store bought ‘taters that started growing eyes; I even think Paul put in a sweet potato slip.  I wasn’t really sold on growing potatoes as they can be purchased on sale pretty much dirt cheap and they’ll keep a long while.  I also didn’t think I’d have time to do a large crop of potatoes, but now I wish we did.  They are turning out pretty easy to take care of.  But we haven’t actually harvested any yet so I guess I should keep my yap shut until we do. 
My potato vines.  At least I think they're potatoes.
Never grew them before so for all I know they could be something else.

The tomatoes are doing only marginally well.  It also doesn’t help that the stinking chickens have taken to picking at the red ones and leaving half-eaten tomatoes in the raised beds.  I swear I read somewhere that people would let their chickens out in their gardens to pick off the bugs and that they would leave the tomatoes alone.  Apparently my chickens didn’t get the memo.  The stupid biddies won’t even eat the tomato hornworms when I hand-deliver one to them (another reason the tomatoes aren’t doing very well).  Hornworms are scarrrryyyyy looking bugs!  I was picking them off and putting them in a dish (no, not a side-dish) for chicken food and noticed that they make clicking sounds when they are mad.  I think it’s their “teeth” (do worms have teeth????) grinding together to make the noise.  Freaky. 
Guess I don’t really blame the chickens for not eating them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One-handed Milking

The damned Bald Faced hornets are back.  It seems that the hotter the weather, the more of them there are.  I have to milk with one hand and hold a fly swatter in my other hand in order to avoid getting dive bombed every twelve seconds.  I’m averaging two hornet-kills per milking & I’m milking both morning & evenings now.  Unfortunately my hornet smashing abilities seem to be no match for the queen’s reproductive capabilities as there seems to be no end to their buzzing blitzkrieg.  I went out around the outskirts of the woods to see if I could find the nest, but of course came up with nothing.  I wonder if I could somehow capture a live hornet, tie a long string to it & then release it in order to follow it home.  Wouldn’t that be an interesting you-tube video?

My sister’s gray Silkie hen had gone broody.  She took up residence in the corner of the kidding pen and hasn’t seemed to have moved in at least four days.  I figured she had a few eggs under her, but when I picked her up, there wasn’t a single one.  So I let her be for another two days and checked again.  Nada.  Not sure what she’s waiting for.  The other Silkie that managed to hatch out a single chick has started laying again, so I considered taking a few of hers and shoving them under the gray Silkie.  But before I could get more than two, the weather turned Suicidal Squirrel hot and the gray Silkie deserted her post.  Not that I blame her; it was like a sauna in the kidding pen. 
I’ve also started a batch of incubator eggs.  Put them in over almost two weeks ago……I think.  There was company over, lots going on, mind a mess, so really, I’m not sure of the exact date.  Better start thinking about it though because I’ll have to take the eggs out of the turner a day or two before they are supposed to hatch.  The last time I attempted incubating eggs turned out to be a total flop.  Not a single one was alive after two weeks.  Not sure what I did wrong, but they all had started developing but then just stopped. 
I’ve got twenty-nine eggs in there.  My thinking is that half of them won’t make it to hatching and of those that do hatch, half will be roosters.  So hopefully I’ll get seven or eight hens and some roosters for the freezer.  They are going to be your typical hillbilly barnyard mutts, but if the hens lay eggs in a somewhat regular fashion and the roosters taste good in the soup pot, I’m perfectly happy.  Besides, I like getting “surprise” chickens that I didn’t have to pay for.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Impossible as it may seem, it was hotter yesterday than it was on Sunday.  Thermometer showed 103.5 degrees.  The only “good” think about these temps is that my laundry dries in like forty-three seconds.

The heat seems to be making all the nasty bugs and reptiles (who I consider considerably less nasty than the insects) quite active.  Flys are everywhere, hornets & wasps are getting aggressive and I’ve even seen the tiny brown lizards sitting on the shade of the deck so they don’t pop their radiators (that is what happens when they get too hot, right??) 
Over the past week or so, I’ve been finding pieces of eggshells in the nest boxes and was worried that I had an egg-eating hen on my hands.  The weird thing about it was that half the shell was still there.  Any egg-eating chicken I had would leave not a scrap and the only evidence would be a wet spot in the laying box so I was wondering what was up with the half-shell.
I found out this evening when I went to collect eggs.   A black snake was making a meal out of the contents of one of the nest boxes, and there was an egg shell left behind.  Curious as I was, I let the little bugger finish swallowing the egg he started and it cracked before it was down his throat.  Picked him up and stuffed him into a pillowcase to relocate down the road.  Although I did really, really consider chopping his scaly head off. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Suicidal Squirrel Weather

A few summers ago, my Mom came over to the house for a visit.  She said that on her way over here there was a squirrel lying in the middle of our road.  When the car got closer, it didn’t bother to move so she slowed down.  She said it just kind’a looked up at her, but didn’t bother moving.  My Mom’s explanation?  It wanted to die.  It was so stinking hot out that it was trying to commit suicide.  It.  Just.  Wanted.  To.  Die.
Yes, that says "102.9" degrees.
Now, I’m not sure if the local tree rats are contemplating ending their lives because of the heat again, but I’m guessing that any animal (other than say, a komodo dragon) is having a hard time staying comfortable in this heat. 
The chickens are hunkered down underneath the overgrown forsythia bush, trying to stay cool by digging themselves little trenches in the dirt.  I put the goats in the back yard & they are all under the shade of the trees, panting away.  Harley is under a bush and Moonshine is underneath the porch.  The cats, who normally meow & meow & meow to be let out haven't made a single request to be let outdoors and are sitting on the air vents sucking up all the AC.  I was thinking about spraying the goats down with the hose, but I think they’d get too worked up over it to do any good.  Don’t know about anyone else, but my goats just hate hate hate getting wet.  Somehow I don’t think I could convince them that it would be refreshing.
The gardens need watering every day.  Same with the fruit trees.  I sweat out about a gallon while watering.  Ick.
These are the times when Paul asks me if we should move to northern Idaho or Montana.  I must admit that it’s tempting.  Then I remember the blogger that introduced me to a Roof Rake.
I’ll guess I’ll just keep sipping on my iced tea and run through the sprinkler with Rhiannon a few more times.  Before I render away to nothing.  Hmmm….that may be my new dieting strategy.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Melon Rind Smoothies

Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?  Well, if you’re a chicken it does.

Melons are abundant at the local farmer’s markets now and we’ve eaten our share of them.  I normally just toss the rinds out into the Evil Enchanted Forest if we’re gnawing on them outside, but if I cube the melon up inside, I’ll save the rinds for the chickens.  They pick the rinds pretty clean, but are leaving a mess of melon skins around the coop. 
Don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before, but today I put the rind from the cantaloupe into the blender and made melon rind smoothies for the chickens. 
No more rinds scattered around the chicken coop, all scraps utilized (seeds already went into the chicken bucket) and that much less chicken feed to buy.  With the prices of grain & feed going up almost weekly, any little bit helps. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pine-less Pesto

My wonderful friend Gloria gave me a bunch more fresh basil from her garden.  Don’t ask me why I never planted any…..I still kick myself for not getting any in this year.   The last bunch she gave me ended up being eaten in various dishes; I had really wanted to make pesto out of it but for whatever reason, didn’t. 

So last night I was determined to make some pesto.  But I didn’t have any pine nuts and the heak if I was going to drive all the way into town for pine nuts.  Besides the fact that I’m cheap and would probably refuse to pay what they wanted for their stale pinecone seeds anyhow.
I’ve heard that you can make pesto using other nuts such as walnuts or pecans.  And I had both!  Well, I have both somewhere.  Couldn’t find the pecans, so I used walnuts.  Two cups (lightly packed) of fresh basil leaves, one cup of walnuts, 1/3 cup olive oil, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, 1 tsp. garlic salt & a dash of pepper.  Blend it all up & serve over pasta!  I had picked some more lambs quarters so I sautéed them up and added that to the cooked spaghetti.
The bright green pesto started to brown pretty quickly though.  I made it before I started the pasta and squash so probably should have made it last.  Maybe adding a bit of lemon juice would have kept it green longer.  Still tasted good.
I’ve also heard that you can freeze the extra pesto in ice cube trays and then defrost the pesto-cubes as needed.  Extra.  Yeaaaahhhhh.  Around here, there never seems to be “extra” food.
Interesting idea though.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blog? What Blog??

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I posted something here.  Although in my defense, the house has been full of out-of-town family members since Wednesday.  Five adults, a teenager, a four-month old and a two-year old in the house at once.  Then add four more adults when the grandparents came over for a visit.  Needless to say, we had a house full.  Normally Rhiannon & I have the run of the house for a whole twelve hours each day, so it was definitely a little different routine for us.

I did have the use of an automatic goat feeder and waterer though.  As in a 5’-8” thirteen year old, that is.  Our nephew was one of the family members that came from Chicago for the holiday and he took up some of the barn chores.  Helping feed the goats and chickens, hauling water to the critters, weed whipping (wacking, strimming, whatever you call it), burning brush and watering the garden.  Any little bit helps.
Ben may think twice before agreeing to visit his Aunt & Uncle next year!

We also sold two of the wethers this weekend.  They are going to be Luke’s little buddies and I’m sure they will have a wonderful life with him and his family.  Add that to the unfortunate & unplanned butchering of Nettie’s two doelings, we are now down to two kids. 
I’ve separated Ishtar’s remaining doeling from her so there has been nothing but yelling the past week.  Cloud’s doeling is still too young for weaning so she’ll be staying with her mom and the rest of the herd.   I think I may have a buyer for both Cloud & her kid.  I really didn’t want to sell her because I’m really liking the Mini-Saanens, but the feed costs are getting to be too much.  And it’s not like we won’t have any more Mini-Saanens born next year (and the year after that, and the year after….).  I guess I just hate to see a perfectly good milker leave our farm.
And, how much milk do we really need?  I’m actually having to make cheese every three or four days and freezing it because we’re not going through the milk quickly enough.   Also made another batch of yogurt this weekend and had it set up fairly nicely.  I still strained it though as I like a Greek-type yogurt. 
Anyhow, even if I sell Cloud, I’ll still have three milkers; Nettie, Ishtar and Annette.  Nettie will be bred to Pan again this fall for more Mini-Saanen kids.  Annette will also be bred to Pan, although her kids will be ¾ Nigerian mutts.  The jury is still out on Ishtar though.  I was thinking about selling her, but she is getting easier to milk and she’s cranking out milk like Nettie.  If she’s still around here this fall, I’m going to breed her to a Boer, let the kids fatten up on her plentiful milk and butcher them when they start looking yummy.   I had put an ad out last year looking for a Boer for stud, but never found one.  I know there are plenty of Boers around here so I guess I have to try harder to find one.
Ahhhh………it’s so quiet here now.  I can even hear the tick-tick-ticking of the Cuckoo clock. 
It was nice to see family (especially our new little nephew!), but I’m glad to have the house back and not have to worry about cleaning (sort-of) it for company.

Paul’s Take
Obviously we didn’t move far enough away. 

He’s kidding.  Well, maybe only half kidding.