Friday, September 30, 2011

Human Error

"Human Error" sounds so much better than the alternative:

You're a stinking moron.

I was in a rush yesterday evening to finish up barn chores early as I had several things going on aftwards, away from home.  Ran the goats into the barn for their PM grain rations (and even though it was two hours early, they still act as if they're half starved), forked out some hay, tossed a scoop of scratch out to the chickens, fed the Cornish & Barn Mutt chicks their dinner and filled their water container, gave Pan his bowl of grain & flake of hay (godalmighty doe he stink!!) drove up to the other barn to feed and water Ms. Melman and Nugget and was slinging gravel as I peeled out of the driveway.

Paul got home later than I did so I asked him to close up the chicken shed on his way in. 

And since I didn't shut up the chickens, I didn't notice that I had left the still half-full 5-gallon bucket of water in the chick's pen.

So this morning I let out the chickens, open the barn door to the chick pen, and see one of the Barnyard Mutt chicks had fallen in the bucket and drowned. 


Another life needlessly ended on account of Human Error, I mean, because I'm a stinking moron.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

And the Weiner is....

Even though I'd like for everyone who is brave enough to cook an entire raccoon to win this book, alas, I have just one copy.  But maybe your local library has a copy you can borrow.  Doubtful, but you never know.

But Candy C at Lazy J Bar C Farm won't have to look through her library card catalog (do they even have those things anymore??) or search through the cardboard boxes filled with dusty, yellow and dog-eared copies of cookbooks at her neighborhood yard sales.  Because she will have her own copy very shortly........ 

Thanks to all who entered my giveaway for the gently-used copy of The Treasury of White Trash Cooking!

So Candy C., please email me at CarolynRenee at Centurytel dot net with your mailing address.
And after you've had a chance to browse the book and decide which opossum or cooter recipe you are going to make for the family, let us all know how it turned out!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I have Potato!

Yes, our potato harvest was just as pathetic as our tomato harvest (I have Tomato!).  Although in our defense, the seed potatoes that were planted only numbered around half-dozen, and were “volunteers” from our store-bought taters that sprouted eyes (and arms, and legs….sometimes I forget about the potatoes and they start migrating across kitchen floor).
Earlier this spring, Paul scraped up a little patch of dirt, put down a tractor tire, laid the seed potatoes down, and covered it with straw.  We watered them throughout the summer and they sent up some vines.  Which eventually were nibbled to nubs by either the deer or the grasshopper army we had this summer.
Anyhow, Paul called me outside one day last week (or was it the week before?) to show me our potato harvest.  I was pretty excited to see what our little experiment yielded and walked out to this:

Yes, those are potatoes.  One red and one Yukon gold.  I think that the original seed potatoes were twice the size of our harvest. 
Was I disappointed?  Yup.  Who wouldn’t be?  Was I surprised?  Not really.  Well, maybe a little bit.  I was hoping for at least enough potatoes for a side dish that evening.
So, was it something we did wrong?  Did we not water enough?  Not put enough stray / hay on top?  Made the mistake by using grocery-store ‘taters?  Or was it just another crop decimated by the heat and drought this year?
Whatever the reason, at least we didn’t spend any money on “real” seed potatoes, nor lots of time taking care of them.  Although I was hoping to try growing them again next year. 
Does anyone grow their own potatoes using store-bought (meaning those meant for the dinner plate) potatoes that started growing eyes?  And which method do you use?  We’re liking the idea of growing them in stacked tires as we have an almost limitless supply of them and wasted hay, and the fact that we’d have to dig a trench with the backhoe if we planted them in the ground.
Any and all ‘tater tending comments are appreciated! 

PS - Don't forget to enter the "White Trash Cookbook" giveaway!  I'll be drawing the lucky winner Thursday night.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dish Rags

I do a lot of dishes around here.  A lot.  Yes, I know, use the dishwasher.  But sometimes the dishwasher won’t get full for several days and in the meantime I’m pulling out dirty utensils from the dishwasher to wash them because the only clean fork is the little cocktail shrimp fork.  I’ve eaten an entire breakfast using it, by the way.

And the fact that the dishes never seem to get really clean in the dishwasher doesn’t help either.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ruined a happy morning by having to re-wash dishes that went through that stupid thing.  It probably doesn’t help that we have hard water, but is it expecting that much to want clean dishes after they’ve gone through both the “High Temp” and “Heavy Wash” cycles? 
Having said that, I will confess that I broke down after a particulary busy morning today and started another load.  After I pre-washed them, of course.  Once again bringing up the question as to why I even bother with the damned thing.
So now that I’ve finished with this part of my Dishwasher “Rag” (or rant), let’s move on, shall we?
As mentioned earlier, I spend an inordinate amount of time standing in front of the kitchen sink, scrubbing dishes.  And for years, there have been three types of dish-cleaning items I keep; the long-handled brush, the copper scrubby thing, and a sponge.  I like the sponges that have the plastic scrubby on one side.  And I would have to buy them in bulk as I was constantly going through them.  I bought the cheap ones.  I bought the expensive ones.  I bought the ones they sell at restaurant supply stores marked “commercial strength”.  And it didn’t matter one bit.  I would totally destroy a sponge in less than two weeks.  Is it because we have a lot of dried up food items left on the plates, because I scrub knives a lot, or am I just an overzealous washer of dinnerware?
I finally gave up on the sponges in order to go back to the “old fashioned” dish rag.  You know.  That small cloth used for washing plates.  Does anyone even use these things anymore?  I couldn’t tell you the last time I used one.  In fact, I thought that the scrubby-sponge had all but eliminated the need for the dish cloth and they had gone the way of the dish pan.
There was a blog (which I cannot now recall of course) where she made her own dishcloths. Like started spinning the wool (or was it cotton?) and knitting it into a dishcloth.  A-frekking-mazing.  Although I have no sheep nor cotton fields, nor easy access to either, I can buy some cotton yarn and crochet!  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before seeing the blog post, because I had recently been on a washcloth crocheting kick, and I just didn’t put two and two together to get a dishcloth out of it.  Duh.

I have been happily (or at least as happy as one can possible be scrubbing dried egg yolk off a plate) washing our dishes using my homemade dishcloths for about a month now.  The first few I made are a bit too large, so I’ve been making them different sizes to see which I like best. I’m thinking the ones “sponge” sized are my favorites so far.  The cloths don’t suds up the soap as much, but I can scrub to my heart’s content and they haven’t fallen apart.  No little pieces of yellow sponge clogging up the sink, no more smelly sponges and no more buying them in bulk at the store.   I’m also able to keep them cleaner than the sponges as I toss them in the laundry every few days.  I know you can microwave sponges to get them “clean” again, but I always forgot to do that.
So go ahead, pull those old dishcloths out of your cedar chest.  Dig out the ones you got for housewarming gifts fifteen years ago.  Give ‘em another try!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ungrateful sloth that I am.....

that I have yet to formally accept my Liebster Award.  So here goes!

The wonderful ladies at A Farmish Kind of Life, Our Rustic Roots and 500 Dollar Tomato have all bestowed upon me this award (like over a week ago) and I am now just acknowledging it.  I give you all a belated, but still hearty "Thank you".

So here's the scoop on the "Liebster".

"Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.  Rules for accepting The Liebster:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all - have fun

My apathy has resulted in a slight disadvantage.  There have been other great bloggers that were already given this award in the past few days (thanks a LOT for stealing some of my ideas, Patty!) and although there are no rules about giving the Lieb out to a person more than once, I thought I'd punish myself for being lazy and come up with some other "unknowns" in the blogosphere.

So here are my pick of five bloggers that you should really get to know:

Living and Gardening in The Ozarks  Besides the fact that she does live darned close to me (compared to the blogosphere, that is), I like visiting her blog because she is always posting pictures of her gardens.  It lifts my spirits every time I see them.  And I pretend that they are my gardens.

Mooberry Farm  This family of ten (not including the livestock) is an inspiration for all.  Maltida the milk cow is beautiful, but honestly, I only go over to her blog in hopes of seeing pictures of Stinky Winky!  Well, not really.  But I am a sucker for cats.  Oh, and she bakes a cake for just about ANY reason.  What's not to like about that?

The Frugal Mennonite  Pamela is always sharing money-saving tips as well as scrumptious homemade recipes.  Last one was for Cottage Cheese Pancakes!  Cheese + Pancakes = Love.

Frippery Farm  Lamb homesteads in the middle of the desert.  How can one even try to do that?  Got me, but she does it and with style!  Oh, and she makes homemade Cajeta.  Don't know what it is?  Go find out (Mmmmmmm.......)

Itty Bitty Farm in the City  I just found Heidi's blog again.  Somehow "lost" it for a while.  But anyhow, you have GOT to read her recent post about an op-ed letter that kind'a mentioned her and her being a self-proclaimed "sadistic chicken suffocater".  Gott'a love a woman who's verbage can rival even my truck-stop linguistics.  Disclaimer: for those of you with weak constitutions regarding "lively or colorful" language, you may want to skip her blog, but you do so at peril of missing some very good reading.

Ahhhhhh.........a great weight has finally been lifted from my shoulders. 

I now pass the baton on to you, the newest inheritors of the Liebster Award.  Go forth and spread the Joy!


PS - Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of the "White Trash Cookbook"!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Yesterday was my birthday, and even though I adamantly stated to my family that I did not want any gifts, of course they didn’t listen.  This is always an ongoing battle within our family.
Anyhow, since they didn’t listen as usual, I thought I’d show you some of the goodies I got yesterday:

A “kinda antique” clock from my Dad.  This clock sat on an end table at my Great-Aunt Harriet’s house since my childhood and I remember playing with it for hours and hours.  It has two little doors that open & close and the clock face swings in (so you can wind it & set the time) if you have one of the doors open & push on it.  Upon seeing it again last year while visiting, I mentioned to my Dad how much I liked it.  It’s been broken for years now (most likely from my playing with it), but my Dad took it to a jewelers, had it fixed and gave it to me for a birthday present!
My sister also sent me a really neat snake bracelet / watch!  The picture doesn’t do it justice though.  It’s a shiny black enamel with jewel eyes and the snake’s head flips up to reveal the watch inside.  Very swanky.  I think she’s trying to tell me that I should dress up once in a while.
I also got a Fall-themed handmade quilt from my Mom. Although I think I guilted her into giving it to me.  She just finished it a few days ago and showed it to me, and I immediately said that it would make a great present for me!  Joking of course.  But I ended up getting it anyhow.  So it graced her sofa for a whole two days; not even sure if she got to use it for five minutes.  Now it will be used to warm Rhiannon and I up on the couch. 
And as if on cue, I received my first issue of “Hobby Farm” in the mail yesterday!  This was a gift from Tiny Gardener….she had a giveaway on her birthday a while ago and I was the big winner.
So thank you all for the birthday wishes and gifts.  I think I’m going to go snuggle up under my new quilt and flip through my new Hobby Farms magazine.  And don’t worry Mom; I won’t let the cats puke on the quilt.
PS - Don't forget to enter for the "White Trash Cookbook"!

Chick Check, Week Three

Chicks at two days old:

Chicks at three weeks old (use the mason jar waterer as a size reference):

On her way to our place this past Monday, my Mom stopped at the feed store to pick up another bag of chick starter for me. $14.50 for a 50# bag.....ouch!  I originally started with a half-bag of starter (left over from Chistine's Silkies), went through one bag and I'm half through Monday's bag.  So that means the chicks have gone through approximately one hundred pounds of feed in twenty-two days.   And I'm not even keeping the feed bowls filled 24/7.  Fatties.
Even just glancing at them, I'd say the Cornish are definately eating (and pooping) more than their share.  Their abdomens are much larger than our barnyard mutt chicks and I'm assuming it's because of the mass quantities of food being processed by their not-so-little chick innards.  The Cornish have also started mobbing me when I put out their food for the morning.  Just last week, all the chicks would  scatter when I came into the barn and put their food down, waiting until I closed the door before chowing down.  But now the little buggers attack me when I open the door. 

Since they are pooping so much, I've had to clean out their stall twice now since they've been in the larger pen.  And it's starting to stink in just a few days.  I can't imagine how smelly it would be in the 100 degree weather (well, I can imagine actually).  I've been using the wasted hay (from the picky goats) as bedding in the chick stall, but it gets too matted too quickly.  I think I may have to go back to wood shavings.  The chicks will be able to scratch in the shavings easier and will hopefully increase the time between stall cleanings.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Birthday Giveaway!

Several weeks ago, Tiny Gardener had a giveaway to celebrate her birthday.  How nice was that?  (Even nicer was the fact that yours truly was the winner of said giveaway)  So in order to continue the spirt of giving on one's birthday, I would like to do a Birthday Giveaway on my day of birth.

There's a cookbook I picked up a several years ago at the semi-annual library book sale.  It immediately caught my eye, not necessairly because I though it would become my favorite "Go-To" cookbook, but because of the intriguing title. 
If one were to flip through this cookbook, you would find recipe titles like.......

Big Molly's Cracker Pie (not sue if she's referring to white folk, or actual saltines)

Freddie Lou's Geecheed Cabbage (if anybody know what "geecheed" is, please let me know)

Mama Ellen's Fried Chittlins my ongoing attempt to clean out the clutter in the house (ha, that's a laugh), I would like to offer this book to one of my blog followers as gift:

But be forewarned!  The book is chock-full of recipes that contain mass quantities of Crisco, catsup, mini-marshmallows, Velveeta, oleo (what IS that?), packages of bologna, goldfish crackers, and something called "rat cheese". 

There is also a dish that includes the following main ingredient:  "1 quart fresh shucked oysters (no coon oysters for this)" 

The fact that they even had to point out that you should NOT substitute raccoon reproductive organs for the sea-dwelling bivalve mollusc was a bit frightening.

But there are also just as many natural or down-to-earth recipes using things like persimmons, turnip greens, bacon drippings, fresh "whatever you got in the cupboard" fruit and other ingredients otherwise not sealed in a mylar bag and treated with BHT. 

Also included are recipes for those often overlooked (sometimes on purpose) meats like raccoon, oppossum, deer, frog legs, squirrel, rabbit and even cooter!  No, that's not slang for one's privates - its a turtle.  Quote from the book: "When the cooter sticks his head out, cut it off with a hatchet."  Bet you're glad I clarified that for you now, hugh??

Nestled in between the pages of "Glennie Nell's Roast Christmas Possum" and "Wheezer's Cheese Pie" are several pages of pictures of things like country family get-togethers, hog butchering, and of course, casseroles.  This book was published in 2002, but the photos look as if they came out of the mid-70's.  Not sure if the pictures are just older, or if there are still people dressing like that. 

Even if you never use a single recipe in this book, I gare-un-tee that you'll at least get a laugh or two out of it. 

So you've got one week to enter for this "more than unique" cookbook!  Just leave a comment under this post and you'll be entered.  One entry per person, and only open to those with a US mailing address.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Keeping Warm

Like most houses built now-a-days, we have a heat pump / furnace to warm our home.  Since we also have about thirty acres of woods it made sense to make use of all that potential "free" firewood and decided to install a wood burning stove a few yeas ago.  

The stove is located upstairs and keeps the main level of the home toasty warm in the winter.  We have two problem areas though, and one is the master bathroom.  The heat just doesn’t make it there and boy, can it get nippy!  Showering in the winter is almost like running a sprint race; jump out of the shower and grab a towel while running out of the bathroom, avoiding the cat-hurdles and through the bedroom in order to position oneself directly in front of the stove to warm up.  Be careful not to singe anything!  (I’ll let you use your imagination on this one)
The other problem area is the basement.  During the coldest times of the year, one only goes downstairs to get things absolutely necessary, usually after donning a pair of socks, slippers, mittens and scarf.  Good for pantry storage items, not so good for anything else. 
We normally wouldn’t care too much as we never really spent much time in the basement, but Rhiannon has finally moved into her own room - downstairs.  So now we are faced with making a decision on how we are going to keep the basement, and Rhiannon, warm this winter. 
We have several options: 
A - Run the furnace during the winter. 
B - Install another wood stove in the basement. 
C - Install an outdoor whole-house wood furnace.   
D - Bundle Rhiannon up like Na’nook of the North, pile down comforters on top of her and stuff the cats under the blankets to keep her feet warm. 
E - Install a propane fueled heater in her bedroom.
A - Running the furnace will mean that we will be unable to use the woodstove upstairs.  We only have one zone heating (meaning there is only one thermostat and only takes into consideration the temps upstairs) so if we had the wood stove going, the thermostat would never kick on the furnace  heat.  I’ve thought about just using the “fan” mode on the HVAC system thinking it would circulate the hot air down to the basement, but I don’t think the stove is putting out enough heat to do that.
B - We could install another wood stove, but we’d have to pipe the chimney up through the basement ceiling, through the first floor, then out the roof.  Too many holes in the house as it is and there really isn’t a good place for us to run the chimney without interfering with existing structures on the first floor.
C - Paul has looked into the outdoor wood furnaces and he’s not too keen on the efficiency ratings.  And that fact that it would cost a big ol' chunk of change for it and the additional installation hassle to hook it up to our already existing HVAC system.  I was really hoping for this option though as it would also be able to heat our water.
D - As much as I think Rhiannon would look cute as a button bundled up like an Eskimo, I’m not sure she’d be too keen on the idea.  And three cats wouldn't be enough to keep her warm.
E - So that leaves us with one other option to look into; the propane heater.  We don’t have a propane tank, nor any hookups so not only would we have to plumb the heater(s) for it, but we’d have to buy the heater(s) themselves, the tank to store the propane, and the propane itself.  Although, we’ve been wanting another source of fuel and as much as I dislike having to depend on another company to provide us with something, it may be the best option.  It also means that we could get a propane stove for the kitchen.  I don’t mind the electric oven, but I hate the electric range and a gas range would be awesome.  It would also mean that we would have three ways to heat the house; electric, propane and wood.  Nothing like having lots of options!
So now I have to ask my blogosphere friends a question.  For those of you that heat with propane, what type of system do you have, and if you’ve heated with propane and another source, how did it compare? 

Until then, if it cools off before we've made a decision, I think we'd better get a few more cats to keep Rhiannon warm.

Paul's Take
I will kill her if she gets any more cats.  And a jury of my peers would not convict me.  They could read this blog as evidence, let me off a free man, and probably ask me how I managed to live this long with her.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hay Fail

Well, I finally called our hay guy.  And as I suspected, all the hay went to TX.  I was a little miffed as he was supposed to call us when it was ready, but he said he didn’t bother because he knew it wouldn’t have been good enough for us.  Well, this may have been true, but I wish he would have given us a chance to at least look at some.  Because honestly, I don’t think we’re going to get anything near what we’d really want this year.  I don’t think there will be any Bermuda hay around here.  I suspect he’s just getting better money by shipping it south.
So we’re on a hay hunt now.  I’ve called a guy up in Missouri that has some fescue / orchard grass hay for sale and I think we’re going to have to take it.  It’s an hour and a half drive one way, so it’s not a huge distance to travel, but it will definitely up our actual cost because diesel fuel is close to four bucks a gallon and we’ll be hauling a pretty heavy load.  I think we’ll be able to haul eleven round bales on the trailer, and another one in the back of the truck.  I figure we’re going to need a minimum of twelve bales to get us through until the spring cutting…..assuming the first cutting comes the first part of June.  The guy I called had his number listed in the regional Horse Trader magazine, so I’m hoping that he still has some when we’re able to make the trip this weekend. 
Cross your fingers for us, would ya?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Amazing display of willpower

Rhiannon, Grandma, Grandpa and I went to the County Fair this weekend.  The Midway is crammed with the standard carnival stuff; scary take-it-down & shove-it-in-a-trailer rides, overpriced funnel cakes and shaved ice and odd looking carnival folk.  There are two or three buildings that house the usual crafts like quilts, paintings, woodcarvings, Kleenex boxes made from yarn and that plastic grid stuff, and my all-time favorite, the crocheted “Southern Belle” doll that holds a roll of toilet paper under her skirt.  Actually, I abhor those things…..just too freaky looking for me.

But on to the animal exhibits!
I love seeing the livestock, even if they are all crammed into small cages and are probably sick of people poking fingers in their cages and having flash photographs taken of them.  I walk up and down the aisles in the poultry building and make mental notes of which new breed of chicken I will get next spring. 
Rhiannon & Grandma checking out the "contestants".

Although somewhat disappointing, the goat section of the barn is usually populated with less than a dozen goats, some of which I’m not even sure are purebred (not that I’m being snooty, just thought they had to be).  There were some Alpine looking breeds, three Boers and a Pigmy I think.  And all with horns.  I thought that dairy goats weren’t allowed to show with horns.  Oh well.
I also like seeing the cattle.  It just amazes me (and occasionally frightens me) when you see an eight year old girl leading a steer around the arena.  They aren’t full grown steer, but still something that could easily crush a Volkswagen beetle.  Last year we saw a little girl sitting on her steer, reading a book. 

The nice young woman who let Rhiannon pet her "pet".

Although I like to use Rhiannon as my excuse for going to the County Fair, I did have an ulterior motive for going this year:

Rabbits!  New Zealand, to be exact.  Ever since I’ve had the opportunity to somewhat reduce our wild rabbit population last winter (bastards were chewing on our fruit trees), I’ve been dreaming about starting a small flock.  Well, not “flock” exactly, but I don’t know what they call a bunch of rabbits.  Somebody let me know; if I'm going to be raising the buggers, I should at least learn the nomenclature.
Dressing out a rabbit has got to be the easiest animal to prepare for the supper table.  A few slits around the back legs, pull the skin down over the head, eviscerate, and lop the head off.  I’ve never, ever butchered something so easily or quickly.  I’ve baked two rabbits, but wasn’t too happy with the results; too chewy.  Not sure if it was me or the rabbit.  The others I put in the pressure cooker with some veggies and spices and just picked the meat off; it was mouth-watering.  And these were wild rabbits!  Can you imagine how much larger and meatier the New Zealand would be?
So for the past few weeks, I had been secretly planning where I was going to put the rabbit cages (which we already have three of for raising small amounts of chicks) and what type of watering / feeding system I was going to use.  I say secretly because as many of you may have already guessed, Paul was not aware of my scheming or he’d of nipped it in the bud before I got the words, “I’ve been thinking about getting some Rabb…..” out of my mouth.
Well, after we walked ourselves tired of the Fair, and after making one more visit to the Rabbit Barn, I left empty-handed.  And not just because there was only one New Zealand there (I was hoping for a breeding pair).
It’s because I already have too much on my plate at home.  Ms. Melman and Nugget (the mule and mini-horse) are still up the road as we still haven’t finished the pasture and fencing here.  Even though I have drastically reduced my goat numbers from earlier this summer, they are still time consuming.  The laying hens still require time to water and feed and I have twenty-five Cornish Cross chicks and twenty barnyard mutt chicks to care for.  Not to mention the occasional mucking out of stalls, cleaning up wasted hay and attending to other unforeseen events around the barnyard. And that’s just the livestock! 
So the only thing we left with from the County Fair was a fried pie for Rhiannon.
But I’m glad.
And there’s always next year.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pimp Momma

I dried up Nettie early because of her bout with Mastitis.  I also continued giving her grain rations, although not quite as much as when she was milking, in order to put some more weight on her.  Having mastitis, kidding with triplets and milking heavily just took a nasty toll on her this year.  But she's been filling out again and her coat is also much, much softer than it was earlier this spring.  I wasn't going to breed her this fall unless she had shown some improvements, but I'm pretty happy with her gains in just a few short months.

Nettie was in heat on Friday. A goat's heat cycle is usually around 18 - 21 days apart, so I wasn't actually expecting her to be back again so soon. Not sure if I just misread her back end last time, or if she went into heat again early because of the recent overpowering ode' de-goat-piss in the air. Last time she was just pink & puffy behind, but this time she was pink, puffy and tail flagging. Oh, and yelling. The. Entire. Morning.  

I guess I shouldn't complain though; there is no real guessing when she's ready for her date.  Nettie gets sex on the brain and there's not much else she's interested in.  Well, except maybe raisins.  And even then, she's probably thinking about eating raisins while being mounted.    The other goats are much more subtle in their "do-me" clues;  Oh, I guess we could visit Pan.  But maybe after we have another helping of grain.  And some of those oak leaves.  And after you've scratched the top of my head again.  And, you know, I kind of have a headache.  Why don't you just give Pan a goat-porn magazine and put some tissues in his hut and we'll try again tomorrow.


Nettie and I hoofed it down to Pan's pad (actually, Nettie practically drug me down there) where, upon seeing us, Pan immediately started that buck-snorting thing and prancing around like a nutjob.  I just opened Pan's enclousure as there was no way in hell he was going to run anywhere, and he immediately went to wooing Nettie.  Pawing at her back.  Snorting in her ears.  Pissing on his face (yes, they do that and it apparently drives the girls wild).  You know, those acts of foreplay that we can only dream about.  (That is what you dream about, right?)

Although I don't think Nettie cared one iota about the wooing.  She was there for one thing and one thing only.  She didn't even crane her neck down to munch on the green grass.  Although after three successfull hits, she made it apparent that she had enough and was leaving Pan.  "There's ten bucks worth of grain on the nightstand.  Don't bother calling, the number I gave you is for a dry cleaner in town anyhow."

Of course, Pan was not too keen on this idea, but I finally got him back in his pen.  Where he continued snorting and pissing all over himself. 

So if all went smoothly, we will have our first kidding of 2012 on February 16th.  If not, in about three weeks Nettie will be asking to borrow a ten-spot and bum a ride to the red-light district down in the back yard.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rain, glorious rain!

We finally got rain.  A full three hours of it and it looks like we’re only half out of the system!  I wonder if it will do my Fall garden plantings any good.  Some of the peas I planted in the middle of August were scorched from the 100+ degree temps but I’m hoping that they’ll pull through and continue growing long enough to produce some sort of pea harvest. 

My sun-baked peas.

The lettuce & spinach never sprouted, I’m guessing because of the heat.  My bush beans are being gnawed to sticks one (or three or four) at a time from that frekking rabbit.  The bush beans I planted the first week of July are finally starting to produce some beans, except they are tough and stringy!!  Probably because of – yep – the horribly hot summer.  I gathered a handful of them just yesterday for a snack and I chewed them until I couldn’t stand it anymore & did a “pfffftttttthhhhh” thing, sending a spray of chewed up green beans across the goat yard.  The chickens obviously didn’t think they were too tough.
The spring planted zucchini have been pulled up for a while now, but the fall planting seems to be doing well.   Spring planted cucumbers are done & gone.  The fall cucumbers aren’t doing great though; still pretty small and not much growth in the past few weeks.  Wonder if it’s been too cool for them lately.
We did plant some more tomatoes later in the season (75% off at the local nursery, how could I NOT buy them??), and there are actually little green tomatoes on them!  So we may actually get some ‘maters this year.  Not enough to can, but enough for a few BLT’s.
Now if we can just get a hog in the freezer so we can actually put some bacon in those BLT’s.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chick Check, Week Two

On Tuesday, I cleaned out the small chick pen and moved them to the larger pen.  Was able to get an accurate count while relocating them and it seems we still have all the chicks accounted for.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the extra room and began exploring their surroundings pretty much as soon as I closed the door behind me.
Chicks at two days old:

Chicks at two weeks old:
The Cornish Cross chicks are growing at an incredible rate.  Although we’ve raised them for four years, I never really had anything to compare their growth to.  But since we bought the day-old Cornish chicks the same day our layer mutt chicks (LMC) hatched, I can see now how fast they are growing compared to “normal” chickens. 
Rhiannon and I sit and chicken-watch almost every day, and there is a definite attitude difference between the two.  When we put out chick starter in the morning (or anything else even resembling a feed pan or feed) the Cornish are the first to the breakfast table.  The LMC’s aren’t being forced away from the feed, but I can see it being a potential problem later on.  Those Cornish just take up so much room and end up sitting right next to, or often in the feed so even when they aren’t eating, they are blocking access to the food trays.
The LMC’s are also scratching around the barn floor more than the Cornish.  Both groups do their share of chick-running around the barn, but the LMC’s are already able to flap their way up to a little perch.  The Cornish wouldn’t be able to flap their way up an inch if they tried.
"Come and get me fattie!"
But otherwise, everyone seems pretty happy.  Heak, who wouldn’t be happy falling asleep in a big ol’ bowl of food?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Did you say something Kitty?

This morning as I shuffled out of bed to say goodbye to Paul as he left for work, I noticed that Evil Kitty was staring at a closed door.  I figured she was doing that “I know that there’s something behind this door so I’ll just keep swishing my paw under it and I’ll get it” thing that cats often do. 
I finished up barn chores, put the milk into the freezer to cool, made myself a pot of tea and sat down to catch up on my blog reading.  Usually by this time, Evil Kitty and Susan are begging me to let them outside (meow, meow, meow, meow, will you get off the computer and let us OUT you sloth of a woman!).  I heard some rustling downstairs so I went to see if Rhiannon was waking up.  Sleepy daughter was still out cold (with her butt in the air….how do they sleep like that??) and I once again passed Evil Kitty staring at the closed door. 
Stupid cat.

Go back upstairs to finish my tea and zone out at the computer when I catch a faint and muffled “Mauwwww……mauw….”  Sounds like Susan.  Hmmm….I haven’t seen her at all this morning, and now that I think about it, she wasn’t in bed with us last night either.
So back downstairs I go, calling the MIA kitty’s name.  The muffled meowing is coming from the closed door.  Which Evil Kitty is still staring at.  I open the door and out runs Susan.  Making a bee-line to the cat box.  I swear I heard her go “Ahhhhhhhhhh!” while scratching in the litter.
And I know exactly what Evil Kitty was thinking:
Stupid human.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Yesterday evening, Rhiannon and I were outside doing barn chores; feeding & watering the goats & chickens & new chicks.  Pan is still behind the house, so he gets his grain ration after we do those chores.  We weren't quite finished taking care of everyone when Paul came home. 

A few minutes later, I heard Pan make the strangest bleating sound, almost like a kid goat.  I figured that Paul was down there with him & he was getting cranky that Paul didn't have grain for him.  Then I heard it again, and went across the upper goat pen so I could see him.  He didn't look like he was caught in anything, or in any pain as he was pacing and jumping around (hungry dance), so I quickly finished chores, grabbed Rhiannon and went to check on Pan.  On our way down there I noticed Paul wasn't with him.  As we were walking down to Pan, Paul came out and I asked him if he knew what was wrong with Pan.  He thought that maybe he was just getting cranky because one of does being in heat.

Well, we all get down there and I hear the bleating again, but I can now see it's not coming from Pan.  Harley had a small deer down on the ground inside the back goat pen and was basically chewing it to death.  The kid bleating sound was a deer bleating sound.  Man, was I pissed.  So Paul put the deer out of it's misery and we skipped our normal family dinner (don't worry, Rhiannon ate!) to hastily butcher a deer.  Fun filled evenings we have here, hugh?

Ok, I know Harley is a dog, and dogs hunt (although a German Shepherd was originally bred to be a sheep dog, am I not correct?????), but this is really getting to be a problem.  He's already caused the unwanted / unplanned butchering of Nettie's two doelings earlier this summer and now he's taken down a deer that was in the back goat pen. 

I know that we should really have a more secure goat area so the kid goats can't get out of the pen (or Harley in the pen) but I guess I was really hoping that he would be a good farm / livestock dog.  But it's more than obvious that he absolutely cannot be trusted with the goats. 
And guess what else?  In the middle of typing my dog-complaing blog post, I got a call that Harley & Moonshine are up the road about a mile, wandering around. 
I know I shouldn't be complaining.  These events could have been preventable; well, maybe not the deer event, but the goat kid attacks and dog wanderings.  I should really be more diligent on keeping Moonshine on a tie-out as she is the reason that Harley wanders.  As soon as Moonshine takes off, Harley is right behind her.  Although I'm still a bit hesitant to keep her on a tie-out as she would be pretty much vulnurable to any attack from Harley.  Not that I think he'd attack her, but I didn't think our other dog (who is no longer with us) would either, and Moonshine was badly chewed up because of it.  I tried keeping Moonshine in the goat pens, but she's small enough to slip through the cattle panels.  We have a 4' x 12' dog kennel (that is normally used for growing out the Cornish X's), but I don't really want to have to keep her in a kennel.   Fencing in the front yard is just not going to happen. 

So, what's a country dog owner to do?  Just let them roam like everyone else and hope nothing bad happens to them?  Even if nothing bad were to happen to them, I just don't like the idea of wandering dogs; out in the country or not.  We got a shock collar for Harley, and it works, as long as you catch him in the act.  We looked into the invisible fence, but it would be almost impossible to dig a trench around the front yard without renting a mechanical trencher (cha-ching!) because of all the rocks.
Well, I suppose I'm done with my rambling for today.  Sorry it was such a crummy post.  But it's farm life here at Krazo Acres and I wouldn't want you guys thinking it was all fluffy baby chick and homesteading paradise here.

PS - For those lovely bloggers who have recently bestowed upon me a certain award, don't worry, I didn't forget.....just need to think of some blogs that you guys haven't already nominated!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fall? What Fall?

Several days ago, I had my first pot of hot tea in the morning and I was actually a bit saddened by it.  The fact that Summer was coming to an end just seemed depressing. 

And yesterday was 96 degrees.  Preceeded by a 92 degree Sunday.  The last "significant" rainfall we had was May 23rd, measuring a pathetic 1.43 inches.  And since June 1st, there have only been eighteen days under 90 degrees and at least twenty-five days over 100 degrees. 

The entire summer, barring a small handfull of days, I've had to water the garden and fruit trees.  Every.  Stinking.  Day.  I'm sick of it.  I'm sick of the crispy lawn.   I'm sick of wondering if I'll lose any more livestock from the excessive heat.  I'm sick of the layer of silt-like dirt dust covering everything.  I'm sick of buying / feeding hay in the middle of grazing season.  And speaking of hay....

I've been putting off calling our Hay Dude because honestly, I'm afriad to hear his reply when I ask him when the hay is coming.  The particular field was supposed to be cut three months ago, but because of the drought, they have been waiting for it to grow long enough to justify the costs of cutting / baleing it.  I'm beginning to wonder if it will even be cut this year.  I'm also preparing myself for him to tell me the cost per bale has gone up.  Maybe it's a good time to let go of some of our hay-burners.  (OMG, did I actually type that???)

What the heak was I thinking???  Depressed because Fall was on it's way?  Saddened that this heat-scorched, wilting garden, is-it-ever-gonna-rain season was coming to an end? This Summer ab-soooo-lute-ly S.U.C.K.E.D. Well, garden & weather-wise at least.  And in all actuality, we haven't had it as bad as some of the other states (can you say, Texas???).
I'm more than ready for Fall. 

Paul's Take
She's ready for Fall???  I'm ready to move about 1,100 miles North!  She keeps thinking I'm only joking about moving to Montana; I don't know how many more times I have to mention it before she starts taking me seriously.  She gets to go indoors when it's 115 degrees outside, but I'm stuck in an oversized sheet-metal oven cranking a wrench over a hot diesel engine 10 hours a day.  We don't sweat at work; we render.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How much wood....

...would a two-year-old chuck if a two-year-old could chuck wood?  About this much:

Wood cutting & splitting time this weekend.  And Rhiannon was adamant that she be allowed to chuck wood like her Dad. 

I think we have about a full cord of seasoned wood up by the house now.  We didn't really keep track how much we went through last winter, but it was definately more than a cord.  I'd probably say closer to three.

But there's plenty more cutting and splitting to do before the wood stove gets fired up for the season:

And when we finally get our wood cook stove in the "eventual" outdoor kitchen, we'll be needing even more firewood each year. 

A-Chuck, chuck, chucking we will go!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can today be a happy day?

September 11th used to be a good day.  The birthday of one of my best childhood friends.  But ten years ago, everyone will remember that day, not for her day of birth, but for other reasons.

I've gone back & forth for a couple of days regarding what, if any, kind of post I would submit today.  I knew that there would be a slew of other bloggers doing 9-11 posts and didn't want to clog up the blogosphere with just another post about the Twin Towers.  Not that I want to disrespect those who gave their lives to help others, nor to forget those who needlessly died that horrific day ten years ago, but I'm not sure I could actually say anything useful or even anything that hasn't already been said.

But here I am, blogging about it anyhow. 

For those of you who may have lost friends or family ten years ago, I wish you the best in healing your families, your hearts and your minds. 

Don't forget the atrocities that were committed that day.  But also don't forget the atrocities that our own government has committed (and continues to commit) in the name of that fateful day.  It is a disgrace to those that were murdered and those that sacrificed their lives so that others could live.

And although I'm not sure if you read this blog or not........"Happy Birthday Jaime!"  I still think of today as YOUR day!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Geese & Grackles & Hummers, Oh My!

Last evening we heard and saw a flock of Canada Geese flying over the house.  And the night before I saw a huge flock of Grackles and Starlings congregating in a hay field.  Goldenrod is in bloom and the Sassafras leaves are starting to change color already, although some of the early leaf color changes can probably be attributed to the drought-like conditions we are still having.
We've also had a sudden increase in our hummingbird customers at the feeders.  We usually only have three locals that hang out around the house, but I've counted at least eight birds the past week.   Lots of buzzing, fly-bys aerial dive-bombing and squeaky chirping going on.  I think that maybe the newcommers are passing through on their migration to Central America and are fattening up for the long trip.
Summer isn’t officially over yet, but the temperatures are heralding the beginning of Fall.  Since cooler weather is on the way, I figured we should enjoy the morning weather and have tea and quiche on the front porch:
Wood-burning season is just around the corner, so Paul has been diligently cutting up logs and piling them by the wood splitter for me to split.  It’s boring work, sitting in front of that splitter, but it sure as heak beats doing that by hand!  Paul split wood here for three years (I did help a little) but last year we bit the bullet and bought a splitter.  Beats a crap-shoot investment in the stock market in my book.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chick Check, Week One

Here are the Cornish Crosses and our Barnyard Mutts at two days old:

And here they are at a week and a day old: (use the small waterers as a reference for size)

The nighttime temps have been around fifty so I've had two heat lamps going at night.  Daytime temps are in the mid to upper 80's, so I just keep the heat lamps on at night.  Everyone seems happy and we haven't lost a single chick. 

The Cornish are almost twice the size of the smaller mutts!  We've gone through approximately 1/4 bag of feed (left over from Christine's Silkies) which is about ten pounds.  The past two years I kept pretty good records on how much feed we went through, although I can't for the life of me find what I did with those numbers.  I also wasn't blogging at that time, so I can't even go back here and find out what it was. 

So each week up until butchering day, I'm going to do a "Chick Check" here on Friday so I have a record of it, and so you guys can see how they come out.  But there is a slight problem with my feed / money outlays for the birds this year; I'm raising the Cornish with the mutts so I won't really have an accurate cost-per-bird for the Cornish.  I guess I could separate them and keep track of each of their feed intake, but I really wanted to try raising them together.  Oh well.

Although, if all works out well with keeping them together, I think we'd do it again next year so technically I'd still know about how much feed we'll need (assuming we hatch out & buy the same number).  We'll buy Cornish Cross day-olds for the freezer and I'll incubate our own eggs to be raised with them.  We'll keep the barnyard hens for layers and the roosters will eventually end up on the dinner plate.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time for Tea

It's 7:30 as I'm typing my blog for today and you know what?   I've already finished my barn chores, the windows are open (not the back ones....stinky goat) there's a tiny breeze coming through, it's 50 degrees outsdie, Rhiannon is still rolling around in bed doing that "I want to see what Mommy's doing, but I really don't want to get up yet" and I'm sipping my second cup of hot tea this season.  I love my life!

I had my first cup yesterday morning with breakfast (Earl Gray with a spot of goat milk & that sweet tooth, you know).  I wasn't sure if I was ready for it or not.  It's not like I didn't want the tea, it's just that I don't drink tea in the summer.  Hot tea is for those "cold" months.  And if I were to start drinking tea, that would mean that Summer was officially over.

Well, technically it's not over, at least according to the heavens as the sun has not reached it equinotical point yet (which happens on Sept. 23rd @ 9:04 am).  But the weather forecast for the next week shows us not even breaking 80 degrees.  This is a welcome relief, especially since it was just 99 degrees outside on Saturday (when Paul was outside in his long sleeves & heavy pants cutting and chopping wood, of course). 

The colder temps have made it a little harder on our new chicks though.  I have a heat lamp in their little pen, but when I went out there this morning, about half of them were huddled underneath it.  It was only 88 degrees, so I need to put in another heat lamp.  Other than being a bit chilled this morning, they are all still alive, running around like crazy chicks, pecking & kicking chick starter all around and having what seems to be a grand ol' time.  I think I'm going to do a weekly "Chick Check" so I can compare the growth rates between the Cornish & our barnyard layers.

Oh, and here's why my post, which started out at 7:30, didn't happen until 9:

Somebody just HAD to find out what was going on upstairs. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Olfactory Overload

Ah, the first smells of Fall.......

Crisp morning air.   Being able to open the windows at night and feel a cool breeze.  Smell of burning leaves. 

Except I cannot smell any of those things.   You know what I smell?

Goat pee.  Yep.  Goat pee.  Stinky, smelly, rank, oh-my-god-what-died-in-your-backyard kind of smell (actually, I think decomposing flesh would smell better).  I was pretty sure he was getting stinky when I had the pleasure of smashing my face up against his body during Goat Wrestling last week, but it was definately confirmed this morning when I rounded the corner of the house to give Pan fresh water and hay.

I guess I should have known it was right around the corner.  The fact that Pan has been acting penis-ish and being a bastard was a red flag.  So, if I want to be able to hang my clothes out on the line to dry, we have to move Mr. Stink-O to other quarters.  Last year he spent most of the Fall and Winter in the back yard and I was unable to put my clothes out to dry.  I finally had enough and made him a smaller enclosure far, far away from my clothes line in late winter. 

Time to move back to your condo-sized bachelor pad.  At least you'll be closer to the ladies and can oogle them all you want now.  Just keep your oogling apendages to yourself for a while longer.  Date night isn't for another month.