Monday, July 30, 2012

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

No.  Really.  How does your garden grow?

Although we had a bit of the sky-moisture come our way last Thursday, it was only enough that I didn't have to water one day.  One.  Stinking.  Day.

The temperatures are still in the 100's every day.  I worry about our well going dry, even though I have no real reason to believe that it is.  For all I know there is a million gallons down there.  Or twenty.  I have cut back watering the trees to every two or three days.  What little fruit there was on the trees have fallen off from the heat (I think) and we've salvaged a few pieces here and there to munch on.  But since they are not needing water for fruit production, I'm just watering them to keep them alive.

I've been spoiling my veggie (embrace it, Susan) garden though.  It receives a daily watering.  And I feel guilty about it.  Should I really be wasting water on ten tomato plants, six rows of green beans, ten pepper plants, and a half-dozen squash plants?  Not to mention the two watermelon and two cantaloupe plants in the "was supposed to be an herb garden"?  Is the water worth the meager harvest I'll get from the summer garden?

And then I went and planted more squash.  Half of which some bugger of an animal has ripped up.  I had six beautiful pumpkin plants starting to get their true leaves when they were unmercifully dug out of their little compost-filled holes in the ground.  The acorn squash survived, not sure if by  mere chance or if the critters don't like them.  I know I shouldn't plant anything else.  But I probably will. I can't give up.  Although I am still putting off planting some things because the seedlings will more than likely just die in this heat.  I've seen a few gardens in town with sheets hanging up on their garden fences (I assume to provide some additional shade) and I may do that for the peas, cucumbers and lettuce when I get them in.

I've been pretty good at nipping the squash bugs in the bud.  Just about every day I'm turning over leaves in search of their eggs and find some every day.  Relentless little buggers.  I've also found several dozen nymphs and squashed them to kingdom come so I'm obviously missing some eggs.  There is also one tomato plant that has been almost totally relieved of it's leaves by a horn worm. It's methodical munching and pile of readily recognized poop is a tell tale sign. I've been out there two mornings now and can not find the bugger.  I sat out there going over that one tomato plant for a good ten solid minutes and couldn't find him.  They are great camouflage artists, but this guy must be some kind of Navy Seal of the garden pest world.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Picture of Pickles

Come on now.  You didn't see that one coming??

Christine, you really need to be more specific.  And you should know better.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Rime of the Ancient Dairy-er

Milk, milk every where,
And all that was stored did shrink;
Milk, milk, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Pickles was four weeks old yesterday.  She's in with the rest of our itty-bitty herd all day and night now.....except when she squeezes out of the cattle panel fencing. Which is a bit annoying.  And will be even more annoying, if not outright infuriating (and requiring some drastic measures) if she figures out that she can jump on the vehicles.  But mainly she just ventures out of the pen to munch on what green grass or weeds she can find just beyond the goat yard.

But back to the lack of milk.  Or should I say, the lack of milk that we are getting to drink.  Between the hungry little goat and the two gallons a week I sell, there isn't much left for us.

Pickles is tipping back the milk like it's going out of style.  I guess I never noticed the amount of milk the kids drank before as I've never had to bottle feed any of them.  I've got to the point now where I can give her one last feeding between 11 pm and Midnight and then get to sleep a full six hours until I feed her again at 5 or 6 in the morning.  During the day I'll feed her every three or so hours.

Since I am ever curious, yesterday I measured out how much milk she drank in a 24 hour period.  She sucked down eighty-nine ounces; that's just over 5 1/2 pounds of milk!  And I weighed her in at eighteen and a half pounds this morning before her first feeding.  She's drinking almost a third of her body weight in milk. Wow.  Can you imagine if you (assuming one weighed 150 lbs.) drank that much? You'd have to drink SIX gallons of milk a day.  I'm getting bloated just thinking about it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Daily Grind

This is the grain mill I normally use to grind our wheat:

And this is what it looks like now:

A few months ago when I was using the grinder, there was suddenly a horrible screeching definitely-not-normal noise coming from the grinder.  So I ran over to it and turned it off.  There was a little bit of smoke and a nasty metal burning smell. And I cried a bit.

This machine is one of the workhorses of our kitchen.  I bake a lot (look at my thighs if you don't believe me) and I try to use fresh-ground wheat for everything if possible.  So that baby grinds quite a bit of wheat.

Of course, I didn't have the original receipt or even the owner's manual (lost somewhere in the move I reckon) but knew that it did have a lifetime warranty with it so I went online to see what I could find.  And of course, nothing is covered without an original receipt.  I mean, come ON!  What does it matter if I have the original receipt with it?  It's obvious I bought it because I have the stinking machine, but even if I didn't buy it, somebody did at one point and they didn't say you had to be the original owner.  So after working myself into a hissy-fit, I just accepted the fact that my grain mill with the "Lifetime Warranty" only lasted me seven years.   And if I wanted another one, it's going to cost $260.  Ouch.

After learning that the mill wasn't under warranty, I started taking apart some of the pieces that didn't look too complicated or difficult to put back together. Looking for what?  I don't really know.  But I thought I should at least be a little proactive about it and try to find out what had caused the malfunction.  And I found nothing strange looking; just a bunch of flower dust covering everything and that burned metallic smell.

Paul took a look at it later on and he did a bit more disassembling than I was comfortable with (I am so incredibly mechanically uninclined it's pathetic).  One of the teeth in the milling head assembly had come off during grinding and got jammed between the other teeth, thus causing the mill to lock up.  Not sure if the tooth came off of it's own accord of if I didn't catch a stone or other foreign object in the grain bin.  Regardless, Paul cleaned it all up, put most of it back together and now I'm just waiting for some food-grade silicone to show up in the mail so he can finish re-assembling it.

In the meantime, here's what we've been using to grind our wheat:

The Good Old Country Living Grain Mill.  Non-electric, by the way.  I bought this mill several years before the move to Krazo Acres and was very happy with it.  But since the move, I had been making more and more of our baked goods with whole wheat and honestly, I was getting lazy so decided to splurge on an electric mill.  That's where the Nutrimill came into our lives.

Hopefully the electric mill will last several more years.  But when it does finally kaput on me, I'm definitely going to consider purchasing one from a different company.  I can't help but hold a grudge.  Even if it's just a grain mill.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What do ya do when it's a Hundred 'n Two?

You crank up the stove and make a pot of split pea soup, of course!

No, I'm not crazy.  Well, maybe just a bit.  And yes, I know that it's the middle of a record-breaking hot and dry summer, but I've been craving split pea soup for quite some time now and I just couldn't contain my hunger any longer.

Now maybe I wouldn't have such an appetite for soup if we actually had a winter this year.  Since the wood stove was barely stoked up this season, there were not as many opportunities to make stews, soups and the like.  And I miss them.  There's nothing better than homemade soup and fresh ott'a the oven bread for lunch. Or supper.  Or breakfast even.

So I said heck with the temperature outside, cranked up the A/C and went to making split pea soup.  Of course, I didn't fire up the wood stove.  I'm crazy, but not insane.   So I just made my soup on the stove top. It went much faster on the electric stove as I didn't really want to heat the house up any more than I had to, so instead of simmering it for half the day, I turned up the heat so it only took about two and a half hours.

Granted, I didn't get to have a Pea Soup Facial, but it was still delicious.  We had it last night with ham steaks and corn bread.

And this is what I'm having for lunch this afternoon:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Frost Dates

I can't believe I was even capable of typing the word "Frost" without it just melting and hissing and turning to steam on the computer.   Wednesday was 105 degrees, Thursday 107, Friday 104, Saturday 100.  And looks like it's going to be about the same for the next five days.

I know, I know, everyone is sick of hearing about the heat and the drought.  But since there is nothing I can do to control the weather, I have to do something, and that is complain.  And you're still here listening and rolling your eyes.

Anyhow, back to the frost dates.
According the the USDA, the first frost for our Zone (6B) is October 15th.  So that means that if I want to get in my Fall Garden, I have to do it.  Like a week ago.

Cabbage, pumpkins, acorn squash and butternut squash have a 75-90 day harvest from planting.  So technically I'm only a few days late.  I'll have to wait a few more weeks to plant the cucumbers, carrots and peas as I'm positive that the heat will kill the newly emerged seedlings as soon as they poke their green, succulent heads out of the ground into the scorching, bone-dry heat.  I'm not even sure if the squashes and cabbages will survive temperatures rivaling those on the surface of Mercury.

But I'm going to plant them anyways.  My summer garden was / is pathetic so I've got to make up for it somehow.  And hopefully we'll get some relief from the heat and maybe, dare I hope, even some rain.  I'm going to use the suggestion you guys made and mulch the heck out of them and maybe it will give the plants a fighting chance.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Seven (or six) out of Nine

Mother hen hatched out seven chicks!  Although after today, the number will probably be down to six.

One egg had nothing going on so I candled it and found it was infertile.  The other one had a little crack in it, but nothing had progressed for over a day so I "helped" it along a little bit.  I peeled a little bit of the shell off where it had started breaking out and there was a drop of blood, but no movement.  I left it alone again for a while, but when I came back nothing else had happened.  I opened the rest of it and the chick was dead. Not sure if I killed it by opening the egg of if it just died trying to get out.  I feel like crap now.

One of the eggs that did hatch was a green egg from my Easter Egger hens.  I've never had one of the green eggs develop, let alone hatch, so I was pretty excited about that.  But when I went into the pen yesterday morning, I was greeted with a very, very disturbing sight. The Easter Egger chick had been scalped!  As in the feather fluff & skin on top of it's head, from the eyes back to the neck, had been peeled away!  I almost yacked when I saw it, and I'm not one to get queasy by barnyard blood & massacres.

The poor thing was still alive, but peeping like crazy.  I immediately decided to put it out of it's misery so I scooped it up and set out to quickly lop it's head off.  But when I took a closer look, not only did the chick seem active, but the wound actually looked pretty much "clean".  It looked like somebody just pulled it's skin/feather hood off.  Totally gross and disturbing, but not bad when you think of it as just some skin peeled off.  I took a picture and debated posting it just to show how it's not always Rainbows and Ice Cream Cones on the homestead (you know, how some people think homesteading is), but figured my description was more than enough.

I brought the chick inside the garage (where it's warm & I won't have to supplement it with heat) and put it in a basket with some water and food.  It's not looking so good this morning.  Still peeping, but it's having a hard time standing up and probably not getting to the food and water because of it.  I've been giving it water by hand, but it's not taking feed.  If it keeps going downhill, I'll put it out of it's misery.  Which is probably what I should have done yesterday in the first place.

I have a feeling I'm going to have nightmares about scalped chickens now.  Creepy.  Really creepy.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Pathetic Garden

All those seedlings I started in the winter were duds, never growing more than six inches high after I transplanted them.  I should have taken that as an omen. Although now that I think about it, maybe it wasn't too bad of a problem to have as I would have been trying in vain to keep them alive in the recent heat and drought.

Because my seedlings were basically a total flop, I went to the local nursery and bought some tomato, pepper, eggplant and melon plants later in the spring.  Everything was picked over and most of the plants were pretty bad looking, but it was more than I had (nothing) and they were priced half-off or more because it was the end of the spring planting season.

The tomatoes are doing well as are the pepper plants.  Apparently they love the heat.  The eggplant are doing poorly because of the stupid flea beetles.  I squash as many as I can whenever I'm out there, but there are just too many of them and I think they've taken too great a toll on the plants to ever expect flowers let alone any eggplants.

There were three cantaloupe and three watermelon plants in the was-supposed-to-be-a-herb garden in the front yard, but the stupid chickens scratched three of them to oblivion.  But now that they are larger the chickens don't seem to be as interested in them and there are quite a few flower blossoms on them.  Too bad we don't seem to have any bees around.

I also planted zucchini, patty pan and yellow squash directly into the garden about a month ago and then again few weeks ago.  They are doing pretty well, although I have been having to pick squash bug eggs off them almost every day.  Better take the time now and hand crunch the eggs than to deal with the SBI (Squash Bug Invasion) like we had last year.

With the exception of three or four semi-mild (lower 90's) days last week and the minuscule amount of rain that accompanied the lower temperatures, I've been having to water the garden every day.  And even though I've been watering every day, this is what some of my plants still look like before receiving that supplemental moisture:
This Patty Pan squash was watered less than 24 hours ago.
The strawberry patch has held on better than I thought, and even started putting out flowers and berries a few weeks ago.  But no matter how much I watered them, the berries just couldn't compete with the heat and they are basically dehydrated right on the bush:
Dehydrated strawberries, anyone?
Another thing I noticed about the strawberries is that where I did manage to weed, the berry plants were getting scorched, and where I didn't weed, the plants were doing much better.  So even though I have an incredible urge to pull weeds while I walk by them, I'm going to leave the weeds for now.

With all this heat, drought and the sheer quantity of water I'm having to use on the gardens, I'm really starting to worry about our well.  And since I have no idea if we have 20 gallons or 200,000 gallons down there, it causes me to be more than a little concerned.  I'd like to use rain barrels, but we don't have them set up let alone gutters on the house to direct the precious water into those barrels.  Not that they would have been of any use this year anyhow as we've only received minimal amounts which would have barely watered my porch plants.

The fruit trees are beyond putting out any fruit this year, so I think I'll scale back their watering to every other day or even every third day unless they start looking stressed.  I'd give up on the vegetable garden before I did the fruit trees; we've got too much time and money invested in the trees to let them die from lack of water.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mother Nature: 2, Carolyn: Zip

I attempted two incubator hatchings this year, together totaling over ninety eggs. Out of those, I only had one live hatch.  It was a bummer of a chick-raising season.

Earlier this year, I had a hen set on eggs underneath the shed and she hatched out our lonely Easter Chick.  Which just so happens to be a rooster.  And a colossal pecker-head at that.  It's only a matter of time before he graces our supper plates.

About a month ago, I had another hen go broody on me.  No matter what she did, I couldn't get her off the nest so I gathered nine decent looking eggs and let her at 'em.  The weather has been insanely hot - like in 100 degrees or darned close to it for the past three or even four weeks.  Because of the scorching heat I didn't expect any of the eggs to survive the inevitable slow-cooking.  I figured after several weeks of unproductive setting, the hen would finally realize that nothing was going to happen and she'd break the nest up or she's just get too danged hot and leave to cool off in the dirt under the shed.

Well, yesterday when I was milking, I heard the broody hen doing the mother-hen-clucking-noises.  I can't describe it, but if you have chickens and you've had them hatch chicks, you know what I mean.  If you don't have chickens or if you haven't had the privledge of one raise chicks for you......well, you'll just have to trust me that once you hear that particular "clucking", you immediately know that there's a chick somewhere under that puffed up and pissed off bunch of feathers.

I quickly finished milking, ran inside to process the milk then ran back outside and opened the empty kidding pen (where the broody decided to set).  I was greeted by a clucking, puffed up and "I'll peck your eye out if you come any closer" chicken.  And I heard peeping!

Luckily, this hen is all cluck and no bite.  She let me lift her off the nest and I saw one dry and fluffed chick, one half-way out of the shell and three other eggs with chicks cracking around the shell!

As of this morning, there are three fluffy chicks, one chick just about to pop out of the shell and still one continuing it's pecking to free itself.  I haven't candled the other four eggs but may do so in a few hours to see if there are any more chicks.  If not, I'll take them out of the nest and dispose of them so the mother hen can get on with the business of raising her little brood.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bean Counter

We live on one paltry income here at Krazo Acres so I try very hard to stretch every dollar and pinch pennies when I can.  Like any other frugally minded grocery shopper, I check the sale ads and try very hard to only buy and stock up on items that are on sale.  As our garden does not put out as much as I'd like her to (the stubborn prude), there are still many canned goods that I purchase for our pantry.

One of those canned items includes tuna. We don't eat that much tuna, but for some reason I seem to stock up on it when it's on sale. The last time I paid 79 cents for a 5 oz. can (remember when they were SIX ounces???? Buggers!) and I purchased about a dozen or so.  Just a few days ago I decided that supper would be tuna fish sandwiches and a side of broccoli raisin bacon oh-my-gawd-is-it-delicious salad.

When I was making the tuna salad, I realized that two cans of tuna wasn't going to be enough for supper and for Paul's lunch the next day. So after opening the third can of tuna, I drained it as normal and then weighed the actual tuna. Two and three-quarter ounces of tuna. For 79 cents. That's $4.60 a pound for sub-par-fish-in-a-can! And that price was a store brand on sale!

I also buy various beans (kidney, pinto, black, northern) in cans.  Yes, I know it's cheaper to buy them dry in bulk, and we do have plenty of dried beans in the pantry, but I was convinced that the convenience was worth it.  But really, was it that much cheaper and how did I actually know it was worth it if I never really figured out the cost difference?  So I did another food-cost experiment.
Left: Dried beans, soaked & cooked.  Right: 15 oz. can of beans.
I opened a can of great northern beans, drained the liquid and weighed the beans.  A fifteen ounce can (weren't they SIXTEEN ounces before??? Buggers!) yielded 9 1/4 ounces of actual beans.  Cost per can was 59 cents (again, store brand on sale).  So that comes out to $1.02 per pound.

In order to be able to compare "beans to beans" I had to do some creative figuring.  I couldn't really compare 9 1/4 ounces of dry beans to the same amount of canned beans as there are actually fewer beans in the can because they have already absorbed water from the soaking/cooking/canning process.

So I did what any other insane person would do.  I soaked and cooked my dry beans, measured out 9 1/4 ounces (just like the store bought cans) and then counted every bean.  There were 327 of them, so then I counted out 327 dry beans, weighed them at 3 3/4 ounces, and based my costs upon my last grocery store trip.

A 4-pound bag of Great Northern beans cost $5, or approximately eight cents per ounce.  So 3 3/4 ounces at 8 cents per ounce is thirty cents.  A can costs 59 cents, so the dry beans are about half the cost.  But even though the dried beans are cheaper (and probably even more so if I bought them in bulk), I still had to take the time to soak and cook those beans and it costs money to run the stove.

So, is it worth it?  Honestly, I'd say it's a toss-up.  Maybe I would realize more cost savings if we ate beans more often.  The canned beans were also pretty salty, something I can avoid if I use the dry beans.  And then there's the environmental factor if you consider that canned beans come in, well, cans.  Even if you're going to send that metal off to the recycling center, it won't make up for the fact that the can took resources to fabricate.  And dry beans take up less room than canned beans.

I guess the best way to save money on those beans is to plant our own.  You know, when we get another garden fenced in. Which takes time and costs money.  And after we get the other fifty-million things done on the list.  Ugh!!  Canned beans or bulk dry beans or beans in the garden????

Between trying to figure out the canned vs. dry bean costs and wondering how I'm going to plant beans, my head is spinning.  I think I need to take a nap.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pickles the Porch Goat

At least it's not "Pickles the House Goat".

I did have her inside two or three times the first few days because of the extreme heat, but other than that, Pickles has been an outdoor goat.  One the porch, but still an outdoor goat.

I've never raised a bottle baby and I do have to admit that she is much friendlier than the dam-raised kids.  Not that the other kids are mean or overly timid, but it takes longer for the kids raised by their mothers to warm up to us.  Pickles, on the other hand, is like a puppy and follows us everywhere.  So she's been hanging out on the porch.  And banging on the front door to come inside.  And jumping on, head butting and otherwise annoying poor Moonshine to the point where she'll be begging to come inside just to get away from Pickles.

But I don't want a porch goat.  And we need Pickles to get used to living with the other goats.  So I've been taking her out to the goat pen for her feedings.  She's been staying with the other goats for longer periods of time although she's still sleeping in the dog house on the porch at night.  Nettie, Annette and Chop Suey were picking on her at first, but nothing that really warranted a human intervention. Eventually the older goats figured out that the little annoying goat wasn't going away and got bored of harassing her. During a (very short and light) period of rain, Nettie actually let Pickles stay with her in one of the goat huts.

Pickles is also eating like crazy.  I think she's going through an entire half-gallon every 24 hours.  Thank goodness Nettie and Annette are in milk otherwise I'd hate to find out how much milk replacer would cost us.  She's also much beefier than I remember the dairy kids being at two and a half weeks, which would make sense as she's a Boer goat.

As soon as I get the door back on the kidding pen, she'll spend the nights out in the barn with the rest of the goats and her days of porch-lounging will be just a distant memory.

And Moonshine will be much happier.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My toast is sad

And so am I.

This almost-licked-clean jar is the last of our wild grape jelly.  And if you look closely, you can see that the date on the lid is from September of 2010.  The 2010 stash was very carefully rationed as it was going to have to last until the harvest of 2012.

So what happened to the harvest of wild grapes in 2011, you ask?  There was none.  We had a drought last year and every single wild grape vine I could find had shriveled up and died before the fruit was able to ripen, so that meant no grape jelly.  Wild fruits like chokecherries, wild grapes and plums were a total loss in 2011.  The only wild fruit I was able to harvest were persimmons.  Not sure why they survived.

And  here we are again, in a drought. There is one wild grape vine within reach of our 150' hose, so I've been watering it at least once a week, hoping that what grapes still on the vine will survive to ripen.  The other wild grapes around the property will have to make it on their own.  We did have some rain a few days ago and I'm hoping that it was enough to keep them from drying up like they did last year.  So that means that there may not be a 2012 harvest either.

This is pretty much the crappiest gardening year we've had in the 7 years we've been here.  Out of the eight apple trees we have planted, there is not a single apple on any tree and there were tons of flowers on them this spring.  Same for the two cherry trees.  The peaches, nectarines and pears have a handful of fruit on them, but nothing near what I would have hoped.  Definitely not enough to can, let alone make any pies out of.

My grape jelly shortage and lack of fruit on the trees really has me thinking.  Most non-farming folk don't have three days worth of food stored in their pantry.  Can you imagine having to store two or three years worth of food in your larder?  Even most hard-core homesteaders can and preserve their harvest for the upcoming year; what happens if there there is no harvest the following year?

Since our homestead garden is no where near up to snuff, we rely on the supermarket or bartering to provide the bulk of our canned/fresh vegetables and canned/fresh fruit.  But even though we have the luxury of just running into town for a bag of beans or a can of corn, we still try to keep our pantry stocked with several month's worth of food.

Can you imagine having to do that within the confines of your own homestead?  With the labor from your own hands?  Hoping, praying and working to make sure that you have enough vegetables planted (and kept alive), enough feed for the animals, keeping those animals healthy so they can eventually nourish your family?
It makes my head spin.  But hopefully it will give me a little kick in the pants to get our garden producing.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Oh yeah, those seven things

I'll only eat Cheetos if they are stale.
I have a sixth toenail.
Given the chance, I will sleep 12 hours straight.
I hate beer.
I love whiskey.
I was born on the Autumnal Equinox.
I don't like spicy food.

My obligations for the One Lovely Blog Award have now officially been met!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One Lovely Blog and Rainstorm!

We finally got some much needed rain on Sunday and yesterday!

Although I don't want to seem ungrateful as the limited and sporadic showers have drastically dropped the temperature, I doubt that it will be nearly enough to save the local hay fields.  I can't imagine how many more days and inches of rain we'd need to rejuvenate the fields.  I tend to think that the grasses are beyond dormant and are just plain dead.

So now we're looking forward to some cooler days ahead.  Cooler as in the lower 90's.  But I'll take it.  Except I figure that it will now become horribly hot AND humid.

Man, nothing makes me happy, does it??

Well, I guess this does:

Nancy over at Little Homestead in Boise has bestowed upon me the "One Lovely Blog Award".  Thank you Nancy!

There are, of course, a few rules in order to accept this award.  I have to list seven random things about myself and then pass this award on to another ten bloggers.

Ok, I can do the seven random things part.  But trying to list only ten of my followed blogs that deserve to be called "One Lovely Blog" would put my list way over ten, so I'm going to pick those that don't have a huge following and may be unknown to some of you.  Go say hello and check out their blogs, maybe even Follow them if you're so inclined and make us all feel good (and prove that we're not just talking to ourselves).

So here, in no apparent order, are my ten nominations for the "One Lovely Blog Award":

Ngo Family Farm
Once Upon a Family
Crap on my Shoe, Egg in my Pocket (and yarn on the needles)
The Stockpot
Jabez Farm
Life as a Teen Farmgirl
Worms-a-Crawling Farm
The Weekend Homesteader
Grim Wytche Farm
Fleecenik Farm

There - You've all been blog-award-spammed!  Now think about something juicy, personal or just downright strange about yourself, share it with the blogosphere and then blog-award-spam another ten bloggers.


Sunday, July 8, 2012


A fellow blogger, Lisa, over at Spring Peeper Farm is having a giveaway!

Click HERE to go to her post and check out her blog and try to figure out what "it" is.  I already know, so am submitting my entry.

Not telling ya nor giving ya a hint.  Pfffttttttt!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sorta-Happy Dance

Well, our hay is finally at the house.

And although I know I should be doing a happy dance for the fact that we're set for the year in hay, there were a few "snafus" in the acquisition.  One of them being a hundred dollar snafu.

The first six bales we got from the first cutting were $40, and it was really good green hay.  The next load was supposed to be river bottom hay.  When I talked to the hay guy a little over a week ago, these bales were going to be $50, which was fine by me because river bottom is usually of a better quality.

Well, Paul called me from where he was meeting the hay guy to load up the trailer and says that it's not fifty bucks a bale, but sixty bucks.  I say, fine, just get it on the trailer.  Right now I'm feeling lucky we even got this load.  But a extra hundred bucks gone, just like that.

Well, he comes home and brings me a sample of the hay in his hand.  It is most definitely not what I was expecting, not nearly as nice as our first load and not nearly as heavy.  They apparently waited too long to cut and although it isn't the crappiest hay I've seen, it's not what I had hoped for.

I know that I sound like an ungrateful bugger. I should be thrilled that we have our year's supply of hay when there will be people scrambling around in the next few months in almost-crazed desperation.  Another blogging buddy mentioned that the big hay dealer just up north of us is O.U.T. of hay.  I've never known them to be out of hay.  And our local feed store said that they've been selling it as soon as it hits their driveway and they have no idea when additional shipments will be in, what they will be getting or how much it's going to cost.

I though that last year was a bad hay year, but this year is turning out to be even worse.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Burning Pickles

As much as I dreaded having to take care of a bottle-baby, this seemed like the only real opportunity to be able to have a hornless female Boer goat.  Boers normally keep their horns so by getting an orphan at only a few days after birth, we would be able to disbud her within the ideal time frame - before a week old.

We did the nasty deed early this morning before it got too hot.  As usual, the head-shaving was just as traumatic as the burning.   But there were no hard feelings afterwards and she was begging for a bottle just as soon as we got her out of the disbudding box.

So why do we partake in this cruel disfigurement of our goats?   Personally, I like the look of a goat with horns.  But it is for purely selfish reasons on our part. I do not want to untangle goat heads and horns from fencing or cattle panels - like fifteen times a day.   I do not want to have to deal with goat-horn inflicted damage to udders, other goats, or myself.  And I believe that de-horned goats have a better chance of selling.

I don't mean to say that those of you with horned goats are doing it wrong.   Actually, I really believe that you are doing it the best way; naturally.  But even though I go through the same "should we, shouldn't we" question in my mind come every kidding season, I still think we're doing the right thing.  

For our farm.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How we got Pickles

Much to Paul's dismay, I was browsing the online area classifieds on Monday and came across a listing for an orphaned female Boer goat. And I immediately ran (actually kicking a cat out of the way) to the phone and told the guy that I wanted to buy her.

We've been contemplating (ok, I have been contemplating) getting Boer goats to add to our homestead to provide some of our meat.  I've been unsuccessfully soliciting the gal at the feed store who raises Boers for over a year now to buy a female from her.  I've run ads in the paper and been scanning Craigslist and the Horse Trader magazine.  It seems as if NObody wants to get rid of their Boers.  Well, except for one or two somewhat-local Boer farms who are selling their purebred, papered, fancy Boer kids for hundreds of dollars.  And we're not really in a position to fork over that amount of money for a goat for our homestead meat supply.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I understand that there is value in purebred, papered, fancy-pants goats.  I have one myself (Nettie is, although don't tell her that she is or she'll never get over herself) and think she was worth the $350 we paid for her.  But like I said, we're just not in the position to buy a papered goat and I feel that we can eventually breed up and get what we're looking for if this gal isn't completely up to snuff.

I never wanted to bottle feed any of our goats.  It's just too much of a hassle in my opinion.  And unless you are practicing CAE prevention (where you have to pull the kid from the dam before she even licks it and then bottle feed it heat-treated milk) or for some reason you LIKE having to get up every 3 - 4 hours to bottle feed a goat kid, I see no reason to bottle feed and I leave our goat kids on their mothers.  People also say that a bottle-fed goat is more friendly, but I've never had problems with any of our dam-raised kids being unfriendly.  Maybe shy at first, but when they find out you've got raisins in your pocket or that your appearance means that they'll be getting a bucket of grain, they warm right up to you.

Oh, back to the bottle-fed thing.  So, since this doeling was orphaned, she has been bottle fed since birth.  She was given colostrum for two days and I am now feeding her milk from Nettie and Annette.  I'll have to forgo some milk in our fridge to feed her and have to be up every 4 hours to do so, something I'm not crazy about but am willing to do.

Another thing I won't be looking forward to, but is ultimately something I knew I would require in our female Boer, is that she is still young enough that we can disbud her.  Most Boer goats keep their horns.  I'm not sure why, but I guess it's just a meat-goat kind'a thing.   But since this goat will be living among the rest of our de-horned goats, it was one of the almost-impossible requirements I had for any potential meat goat on our farm.

I can clearly feel Pickle's horn buds now.  So that means tomorrow is disbudding day for her.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Questions for the Keepers of Goats

Ok.  So last night we picked up a four day old orphaned female Boer goat.  And as usual, Paul was of clearer mind and suggested that we keep it in quarantine for a few week (whereas I wanted to see if Nettie would adopt her, thus relieving me of bottle-feeding).

She slept outside on the porch last night in a dog crate and I've been feeding her out there (like every three stinking hours) and took her out in the front yard this morning for some goat play time.  But then I wanted to come inside to do a few chores.  And so did she.  So that's how I ended up with a goat in the kitchen.  Not for long, but still.  I had a goat.  In the kitchen.  Paul is going to have my head when he sees this post.
Doesn't everybody's kid shuck corn in the kitchen with a goat?
My plan is to set up the large dog kennel in the front yard under a tree and leave her in there so I can keep a close eye on her. I know this means she wont be able to socialize with the other goats for a while, but I know it's best to keep her Keeping her in the front yard will also mean it will be easier for me to bottle feed her as I can just walk out the front door, take a few steps into the yard and be right there.

Anyhow, I'd like to ask my fellow goat keepers how they deal with their bottle babies or premature or otherwise requiring extra attention baby goat kids. I see so many pictures of newborn baby goats brought in the house during cold snaps, or bottle kids in play pens in the living room. And it doesn't seem to phase anybody out.

It was never my plan to have a bottle baby, let alone have a goat in the house for any period of time.  Yet it seems as there are many that do open their homes to the little buggers.  Why do you do it?  For strictly emergency situations?  For better bonding opportunities?  Because you prefer caprine to canine or feline?  And, what do you do about the poop/pee?  Inquiring minds want to know.  I know that there are chicken diapers, but are there goat diapers?

Anyhow, get ready for a bunch of goat-posts.

Monday, July 2, 2012


...the future matriarch of our herd of Boer goats!

More to follow tomorrow.  Or in the middle of the night.  Or in the wee-hours of the morning.  Because I'll be feeding the little floppy eared critter every four hours.

Ah, the wonderful life of homesteaders!  Going to get a few hours of shut-eye.  Later!

It was so hot yesterday....

.....that I made yogurt by simply leaving the 1/2 gallon jar of milk (with a cup of starter added) on the porch.  Who needs a fancy electric yogurt incubator when you're hovering around 110 degrees?  And, I might add, that it was the best batch I've made to date.  Thick (well, thick like store bought anyhow) and delicious!  I still strained it though because I prefer "Greek Style" yogurt.  Of course, I'll probably not be able to duplicate my success.

We don't have a solar oven, but days like this make me wonder if it's worthwhile making one.  I may have to look that up and see if there are any easy recipes for first time solar oven users.  I also wish I had a bunch of produce to dry as the temperature and complete lack of moisture in the air would make it a perfect time for dehydrating stuff outside.

On upside to this oven-like weather is that my laundry dries in like a half hour, no joke!  I usually have to wait between wash loads because I don't have that much line space, but by time the wash cycle is finished, the clothes on the line from the previous load have dried.

The animals are surviving the heat by utilizing whatever shade they can find.  The goats hunker down under the barn and Ms. Melman and Nugget hang out under a stand of oak trees.  The chickens dig themselves little craters in the dirt under the gone-crazy-wild forsythia bushes.  There isn't much running around or happening during the hottest part of the day and I don't blame them.  I've tried spraying down the chickens and goats, but nobody seemed to appreciate my attempts of cooling them down.  Evil Kitty was outside for an undetermined amount of time this weekend and when she made it know that she most definitely wanted to come inside (by meowing and batting at the front window) she came and sat down on the cool tile and panted for several minutes.  I had no idea that cats could pant.

Even though Nettie seems to have fared well after her bout with bloat, milk production from the two goats is down by about half.  Assuming because they aren't venturing out during the day to eat hay.  Even Annette, who is a major porker when it comes to grain, is leaving some in her food bowl during milking.  The chickens are also on a heat-strike.  Our daily-dozen average has dwindled down to only three or four eggs a day.

Oh, and speaking of the Goat Bloat, I think I may know what caused it.  About two days before I noticed Nettie acting lethargic, I was weeding the garden and tossing the greenery over the fence into the goat pen.  And almost all of the weeds that day were morning glories.  I did a little bit of online research on plants poisonous to goats and there was mention that they either were or could be poisonous.  But I have to take that information with a grain of salt as I've also read that oak leaves were poisonous to goats (and my goats eat TONS of them every year).  If it was in fact the morning glories that did it,  I'm assuming the reason Annette and Chop Suey didn't get sick is because Nettie is pretty bossy when fresh greens come her way and she probably got 90% of them.

There are a few things that seem to be doing well in this weather; wasps, bald faced hornets and grasshoppers.  So the wasps and hornets are pissy and constantly dive-bombing me when I'm in the barn and the grasshoppers are eating whatever greenery there is left.  Nice, hugh?  So not only am I dripping with sweat when I'm out there, but there are stinging insects trying to inflict pain upon me.

I also noticed something interesting from our lack of rainfall.  The grasses were the first to turn brown, then the hops clover and some other weedy shallow-rooted plants, but the lespedzia I see around the roadsides and the few we have popping up on the homestead are still nice and green.  We were discussing planting lespedzia in the soon-to-be pasture and now knowing how well it fared in this extreme drought I'm now certain that we'll plant it.

And on a good note, we bumped into our hay guy yesterday at the feed store and he said he does have our hay and he should have it to us in the next few days.  I know he promised me over the phone, but just seeing him in person makes me feel a little better about it.  I'll still wait until the hay is on the trailer do the happy dance though.