Friday, September 28, 2012

Anybody got an Ibuprofen?

Because I've got a splitting headache from all the noise.

It sounds like we're running a slaughterhouse here.

I'm currently weaning Pickles and she's down to one bottle of milk a day.  Every time she even thinks she hears the front door opening she screams like somebody is killing her.

The two new Boer kids are missing their herd mates.  And they are continually screaming.  Like somebody is killing them.

Annette is in heat.  She's tail flagging, mounting everyone that isn't smart enough to move out of her way, pacing the fence line where Pan is.  Oh.  And occasionally bleating out.  Like somebody is killing her.

And Nettie just so happens to be in heat as well.  She's tail flagging, laying down by the fence near Pan, and yelling like......well, you get the idea.

When I was milking / feeding Annette and Nettie last night, I noticed they were both getting sticky in the behind (isn't it amazing how intimately one gets to know the private parts of their livestock??).  So early this morning I brought a very willing Annette to Pan's pen.  Two good hits and she was done.  I love that about her.  She's a very no-nonsense kind of breeder.  She's more than helpful in letting you know when she's in heat and when I take her into the breeding pen, she stands still until a good connection has been made, then immediately wants to leave the pen.  Not that I blame her as Pan stinks beyond any literary definition.

Even though Nettie would be more than happy to get in a little goat luv'n with Pan, she'll just have to wait until her next heat cycle.  Not only because I'm still trying to secure a Saanen buck for her, but because I don't want to have two kiddings at the same time.  I like to have the kiddings spread out by at least two weeks so the new mom and her offspring have the large barn pen to themselves for that time.   After a week I'll open the pen door and let the kids wander around outside.  This also gives me several days to get the pen cleaned out for the next birth.

Wow.  Breeding season is here already.  And in five months, kidding season.  And spring gardening season.  Is there ever an off season for farmers?  Oh yeah, that would be winter.  Which I'm kind'a looking forward to.  Because it will be cool enough to get some of those outdoor projects started / finished that we didn't get done during the summer.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oh me so horny

(How many internet search hits do you think I'll get with that blog post title??)

I love the look of a horned goat, but I do not care to keep any on our farm for purely selfish reasons.  As I don't want to have to get poked in the eye by one, butted in the backside, or have to remove the head attached to those horns out of the fence like fifty-three times a day.

Our original goat acquisition consisted of Nettie and Chop Suey, already disbudded as kids by their previous owners.  With the exception of one male freezer goat several years ago, every kid on our farm has their horn buds burned off within a week of birth.  So Krazo Acres has been a hornless-goat operation.

Until today.

Introducing the yet-to-be-named Boer goat kid duo:

Yes, those are horns you see poking out of their skulls.  But I couldn't help it.  I saw an ad for them yesterday in the trading paper (I have got to stop looking at that darned thing!) and went to pick them up this morning.  The price was right, and I got to see their dam, where they grew up, and who raised them.  But there was still the horn issue.  Obviously I got over it, but not without much deliberation.

You see, getting a Boer goat around here is almost impossible - don't ask me why.  Getting a hornless Boer is impossible.  And horns aside, we can't justify spending $450 - $650 (and up!) for a registered kid.  And although I can appreciate the time and pain in the butt it is to have and keep registered animals, it's just not something we felt was necessary for us here.  Technically, Nettie is a registered purebred Saanen, but don't tell her that because she'll get a complex.  Anyways......

I guess we could have gone to the local sale barns to find one (with horns of course), but I'm always leery of those places.  I'm sure that there are plenty of good animals that go through there for one reason or another, but it just seems that the sale barn is what happens to animals that aren't good enough to be sold outright or that the seller may be trying to hide something like unhealthy herds or deplorable living conditions.

I think I really lucked out with Pickles.  Yes, she's a screaming-mimi right now, and a little annoying as she's a bottle baby, but it seems like adopting an orphan at a few days old was the only way I was going to be able to have a hornless Boer goat.

So back to why I now have two horned goats on our place.

Pickles is going to need to be bred next year.  For two years straight, I had been putting ads out looking for a Boer goat for stud with no luck (I was going to breed Ishtar to a Boer).  When it comes time to start thinking about having Pickles bred, I don't want to have to go around begging & pleading for somebody to let me rent out their male Boer - assuming there was anyone I could even find to listen to my begging and pleading.  

We now have a Boer buck and a second Boer doe to start our meat goat herd.  I can now have Pickles bred, right here on the farm.  Except that I still need to find another Boer.  What, you say?!  You now have a Boer buck, why do you need a second one?  Well, because the new goats are brother and sister.  There is such thing as "Line Breeding", which is technically a nice word for inbreeding, usually between father and daughter or granddaughter, but usually not between brother & sister.  In/Linebreeding isn't necessarily a bad thing, but one doesn't really want to do in indiscriminately (i.e. oops....didn't separate the male kids from the female kids soon enough and brother bred sister) but to breed for desired traits.

So although Pickles has her buck, I still have to find someone with a Boer buck for the new doeling.  But I will not, repeat, will not, be keeping another buck.  I'll just have to scour the countryside for a stud for rent.  If worse comes to worse, I'll be at the sale barn to buy a buck, use him, then immediately sell him.  If I can't find or or buy another buck, I can have him breed his sister, and hope that no funky / bad / lethal genes come out in the offspring.  Which would not only be a bummer, but a waste of an entire breeding year.

This still does not remedy my horned goat situation.  At least not immediately.  My theory is that the kids from Pickles and the new doeling will be disbudded and depending on how those kids turn out, decide if the two horned goats will stay or go.  And if they do leave the farm, I'll have to do this all again.  Ugh.

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where have you been..... entire crust-rolling-out life??

I've heard of pastry cloths.  I think one of the blogs I follow actually did a post on the wonders of the pastry cloth several months ago.  But I never got around to buying one.  And besides.  How much easier could a stupid overpriced piece of cotton material actually make rolling out crusts?

A billion times easier, that's how much!!

There are so many pies, so much pastry goodness that I never attempted to make for the simple fact that I hate hate hated rolling out dough!  I don't care how much flour I "sprinkled" on the counter top and on the rolling pin, it still stuck to everything.

My first foray into rolling out dough on a pastry cloth:
Chicken pot pie, with a "real" crust!
When I make pie crusts for things like quiche, I usually just smoosh the dough into the bottom and up the sides.  But now, I can make proper pie crusts without all the swearing usually involved with my old rolling pin method (and save having to sweep up 3+ cups of flour off the kitchen floor).

Now armed with this new, wonderful, space-aged material, I had to try making cinnamon rolls again.  The last batch I made was very yummy, but I haven't made them again because of the mess on the counter top and the memory of sticky dough and flour covering everything.

Cinnamon roll dough - easily rolled out!
No sticky dough sticking to the counter top!
I think I may as well just go out now and buy some jeans in the next larger size.  This pastry cloth is A-Freaking-Mazing.  Why did it take me so long to get this in my arsenal of cooking gadgets?

I can't wait to try making croissants!  Or puff pastry.  Or more pies.

Oh, my bulging thighs.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn is in the Air.....

....can you smell it?  You know, the cool, crisp morning air.  The smell of burning leaves.

A sudden overwhelming whiff of buck goat piss.

Pan is back.  

And he's just as smelly as I remember.  He's also gotten bigger.  Not sure if the guy we gave him to fed him better or if he finally reached his full size while away. But he is definitely meatier.

It's about time to have the goats bred, and we needed Pan back for breeding Annette.  I'm still up in the air about who I'm going to have breed Nettie.  So we went to pick up Pan yesterday and put him back in his old pen.  The girls weren't too keen on seeing him, so I'm assuming that I already missed their first heat cycle.  Both Nettie and Annette were unusually vocal about a week and a half ago, so maybe that was it.

Pan, of course, is ready for action.  Pissing on himself and making the back 40 stink to high heaven.  I haven't had any interactions with him yet other than feeding & watering him so there hasn't been any goat wrestling on my part.  And honestly, after Annette is bred, the only wrestling happening will be me cramming his sorry butt into a crate to take to the sale barn.  I am not going to put up with any of his shenanigans this year.  I almost broke a wrist trying to wrestle him to the ground last year.

Yes, it's convenient having a buck on site.  If we have our own buck, I don't have to worry about contracting any nasties from another herd.  It's much easier to tell if the does are in heat.  And I don't have to haul the girls to another farm in order to be bred.  But then I have to take care of the buck for an entire year.  Feeding, watering, medicating, hoof trimming, etc.  I used to scoff at a $75 stud fee, but now I know better.  It's well worth the money if I don't have to screw with a piss-reeking goat with a serious Napoleon complex.

So, if you want to come visit our place, just go South, take the first right past the county line and follow your nose.  Either that, or just listen for the screaming baby goat.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Twelve Week Fattie

Pickles was twelve weeks old yesterday and weighed in at 43 pounds.

Although "standard" practice is to wean goat kids at eight weeks, I figured the extra month of milk would do nothing but help Pickles.  It's not like I was selling her off or anything, and we did have extra milk in the fridge, so it made sense to give her the extra nourishment.  I want the matriarch of my future meat goat herd nice and healthy.  And plump.  Because plump girls rock.  Right?  Damn straight!

When I left the kids with Nettie a few years ago, she didn't wean them up until a few weeks before giving birth to her next set of kids.  Not sure if it was detrimental to the unborn kids Nettie was carrying, but the birthing was fine as were her newborns.  And I truly believe that those extra months the kids got made them healthier and larger.

Since Pickles is a bottle-baby, I didn't have to worry about separating her from her mom in order to wean her.  I would simply decrease, then ultimately stop giving her a bottle.  Simple.  Yep.

Except that she screams at the top of her lungs when I go outside.  Wait a second.  She always screams at the top of her lungs when I go outside, wanting to be fed.  I have no idea how she could have made it worse.  But she did.  It sounds like somebody is strangling her while she's bleating through a megaphone.  And it drives me nuts.  Not only is it bleating (or do only sheep bleat?  what do they call goat noises???), but it reminds me of a spoiled-brat-kid screaming that she wants a cookie or something.  I want to go out there and slap her.  As if that would do anything.

At some point, I stopped upping Pickles milk intake at just over a half-gallon a day.  I bet she would have gladly sucked down close to a gallon if I let her.  So starting today, I'm only going to give her three bottles a day, which comes out to six cups of milk.  Then after a few days, I'll only feed her a bottle in the morning and one before locking everyone up at night.  Eventually I'll give her only one bottle a day, then quit all together.  Not sure how long I'll drag it on.

Not sure how long I'll be able to take the screaming goat either.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

End of the Summer Garden

I’m sipping hot tea and donning a long-sleeved flannel shirt this morning while I type this.  It’s 6:30 in the morning and it’s a wonderfully cool 45 degrees outside.  I even glanced at the wood stove.  Should probably clean the dust of it.

I weeded the strawberry bed during my online sabbatical.  It was totally overgrown with spurge and carpetweed.  But I am totally convinced that my neglect of weeding out that particular greenery in my strawberry patch is the only thing that saved the plants from the scorching heat this summer.  The plants that were in the small section that I did relieve of weeds this summer dried out and died.  But the ones that were covered with weeds were thriving!  Although the weeds were so thick in places that I couldn’t avoid pulling some of the newly rooted strawberry plants up.  But I just saved those, put them in a bucket of water, then will (eventually) plant them in the bare spots where others had died.  These were the plants that my Mom gave me earlier this year.  I’m hoping that next Spring we will be eating our first real homegrown strawberries!
Survivors from the great-strawberry-weeding of '12, waiting to be planted
along with a few other casualties from overaggressive pulling of greenery.
The other sections in the “Berry” garden were planted with summer squash, tomatoes, peppers and green & yellow beans.  The summer squash were just about finished so I pulled them up as not to give any wayward squash bug an easy meal.  I planted two more “Lemon Squash” a month or so ago and I’m just starting to harvest them.  I must say that even though my squash harvest was pretty meager by previous years’ standards, I was happy with it as by now I’m sick of eating summer squash anyhow.

The peppers are about finished too.  They did fair this year even with being planted late in the season and with the heat.  My tomato jungle is finally putting out some ‘maters.  As large as it has become, I would have liked to have bushels full of tomatoes, but the heat of the summer basically killed the pollen in the flowers and therefore most of the potential crop.  We’ve had enough for some fresh salsa and sandwiches, but none for canning.

The green and yellow beans were doing ok through the summer, but when I went to picking them I tried eating several of them (as one is prone to do when harvesting green beans), they were incredibly tough.  Couldn’t even manage to swallow them after much chewing and just spit them out.  I didn’t even want to bother trying to can them to see if it would make them more palatable.  So I just fed some of them to the goats and the rest I left on the plants to dry.  I’ll save them for seed for next year.

We got three cantaloupe from two plants.  The looked beautiful, but tasted awful.

Three watermelons from two plant.  One was huge, the others so-so.  We ate the large one yesterday and it was wonderful.  These were bought from the local nursery and I have no idea what type they are, but I’m saving the seeds anyhow and will scatter them in some of the composted areas next year and hope for the best.  Best is we get more great watermelons, worst is that they get fed to the chickens.

Armadillo dug up all six pumpkin plants and four butternut squash plants.

Three medium-sized eggplants from two plants.

The six blueberry bushes netted a small handful of berries.

Two teeny-tiny carrots and one green onion.
No, that's not an enormous green onion, my carrots are just teeny.
Five pounds of turnips.

One itty-bitty beet.

Big bowl full of Sugar Snap Peas (technically from the spring garden).

Five small peaches (but oh my, were they good!).

Two pears.

Not a single nectarine, apple or cherry.

Seven grape vines planted this spring yielded nada, but I didn’t expect anything their first year.

By far, the wild, unplanned or untended plants did the best for us this year even given the drought and heat.  I’ve been using the Lambs Quarters almost all spring and summer and I had a pretty good harvest of wild grapes.  The persimmon trees seem to be doing well so I’m hoping for another good persimmon harvest in October.

I wasted a LOT of water on plants that yielded nothing, slim pickings or inedible produce.  Should I have just cut bait and realized my gardening losses?  Probably.  But I’m still learning.  And it’s hard to give up on something that still has even a little bit of life left in it.  Lucky for us, we don’t depend on our garden bounty (or in this case, lack of) to carry us through the winter.  If it did, we’d be in a heck of a lot of trouble.  And much thinner.  But I consider this a learning experience.  A trial run.  An experiment.  One day I’d like to be able to provide all our own fruits and vegetables, but that is still in the future.  Hopefully in the near future.

And even though I’m way late for planting a Fall garden, I’m going to do it anyhow.  I debated starting one a month ago, but it was still insanely hot and dry and didn’t want to see my newly emerged seedlings die as soon as they pushed out of the soil.  We’ll put the plastic row covers on the raised beds once it starts cooling off so I should still be able to harvest some goodies before winter kicks in.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Favorite Canned Green Bean Recipe

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

You can start this green bean recipe in the morning.  Not that it takes all day, but the second most important part of the recipe is what you have left over after making yourself breakfast.  Breakfast that includes a heaping plate of this:
Whoosh!  And the bacon disappears piece by piece.
Participant in the Bacon Witness Protection Program
But don't fret.  You won't have to save the actual bacon until supper.  Go ahead, eat the entire plate.  But what you must not do is throw the bacon grease away.  I don't know about you, but I save bacon grease in canning jars in the fridge for cooking with.  Can you believe that people actually throw that golden goodness away?  I almost cried when my sister said she drains the bacon grease into the garbage.  

Anyhow, let the grease cool down a bit, then transfer it into an empty and clean tin can or a mason jar.  Stick it in the fridge for later.

When supper time comes around you'll need to chop up a medium sized onion.  Put the chopped onion into a frying pan with about a third cup of the bacon drippings and turn the heat on to medium.  Open two cans of green beans and drain them, then dump the beans into the pan with the onions and grease.

Depending on how high your heat is and how often you want to stir the contents around, you'll want to cook the green beans until they just start shriveling up and browning on a side or two.

I usually leave the heat on medium and then give the pan a stir every five minutes while I'm working on getting the rest of the meal ready.  About half-way through cooking, I add a crank or three of freshly ground pepper, some chopped garlic and some salt (or just a few shakes of prepared garlic salt) and stir it around.

I really like this side dish with pork.  Or chicken.  Or meatloaf.  Heck, I'd eat the stuff as the main course.

And there is rarely any occasion when there are leftovers which makes clean-up easy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Negative Poverty

Not as in the opposite of poverty.  And not like wealthy either.  But as in below poverty.

Apparently that is what our "leader" and Republican Presidential nominee considers our family's level of income.  I know, I know.  I should have never clicked on that "news" link on my email page.  But I was weak being without the internet for a whole five days (eye rolling) and I read the article.  Well, some of it anyhow.  I couldn't finish it.  And then I remembered why I don't read the news anymore.

But honestly?  One is generally considered middle-class if one's family income is $250 thousand dollars a year?  Really?  What the hell are people doing with that amount of money each year?

This little irrelevant piece of newsgarbage made my head spin in so many directions.  I had always thought that our family was one of those "Middle-Class" people when my sister and I were growing up.  We had a house in the suburbs.  We got to go to restaurants.  We went to a private school until high school.  We always had presents under the Christmas tree, birthday parties with all our friends, even went to Disney World.  We had a VCR (with a "remote" connected to the contraption with a wire....remember that???), a microwave (as big as a conventional oven!) and eventually had window A/C units in our bedrooms!  But now that I think about it - and it's too bad that I had to - I guess we really weren't so Middle-Class after all.

Because now, most of those things are almost considered a "right" or something that one is entitled to.  Even the "poorest of the poor" have these things.  And what makes things even worse, is that there are people who think that those luxuries should be given to them for "free".  There are government programs providing (at taxpayer expense, as all are dependent on tax money) "free" cell phones, food, clothing, utility payments, health care, even air conditioners.  But I digress.  Must.  Stop.  Welfare.  Rant.

Anyhow.  I was actually a bit depressed after reading above mentioned news (cough) article.  I suddenly felt that our family was poor.  That we were somehow inadequate.  That we were now unable to take care of our family because some dipshit just told me that I'm more than ten times poorer than the lowest middle-class family.

But after a while, I started getting angry (imagine that).  First of all, WTF does a holier-than-thou, lying-bastard-politician know about being Middle Class anyhow?  And if he really believes that a quarter-million dollar yearly salary is middle class, he really, really has no frekking idea what it is to be living on a tenth of that.  And how many millions of people do that for their entire lives, some even with much less that that?

These are the people that we want to represent our Country?  People so out of touch with the masses that I bet they've never written a check for their utility bill.  Or bought a bag of pinto beans.  Or even glanced at the prices at the gas pump (except to use in some ignorant political speech) as their chauffeur already filled up the limo before picking them up for their next $10K-a-plate dinner.

Another thing that makes me fume (imagine that, again) is that people actually believe them when they talk.  About anything.  How is it that people honestly think any of these political hacks have anyone other than their cronies or themselves in mind?  I almost choked a few weeks ago when an acquaintance on FB said something like, "I'm voting for Romney because he really cares about the people!".  Really?!  Are you serious?!  (Not just picking on him, I would have said the same if she had said "Obama".)  I'm sorry, but every time a politician lies, s/he is saying to you, "You are so completely ignorant that you will believe me no matter what I say, no matter how many times I am caught lying."  They have absolutely no respect for you.  At all.  Wake up, people.

So what does this all mean?  The $250K thing.  Is it that they cannot honestly contemplate someone living in on a smaller income?  Or is it something more calculated and conniving?  If they say $250K is Middle Class, then everyone under that is poor.  And nobody should ever be poor.  So if everyone under that magical number is poor, then the government needs to do something about that.  Or give more "free" stuff out to the poor so they don't feel so deprived anymore?  Just another way to incite more class-warfare?  Let's be angry with the Rich and Middle Class instead of with the way our government has been ruining our country.

Ugh.  Where was I going with this post anyhow?  See, this is what happens when I don't post for a while, I get all blog-rant-constipated.

Oh, let's get back on track (as if I ever were on one).  So since I've progressed from upset to angry, now was time to let it all go.  It was time to get back to reality.  Our reality.

We have a home.  We have working vehicles.  We have food in the freezer.  We have eggs, meat and milk just outside the door.  We have plenty of entertainment in the form of farm animals and outdoor activities.  And we have luxuries like a television set, DVD player, computer w/internet, cell phone, air conditioning.  We occasionally treat ourselves to a movie, a dinner out, an outing to the big city.  We we have our health.  And we have our family.  I don't care what any politician or census report says about our level of income.  We are wealthy beyond any of their calculations.

Paul's Take
Why does she even look at those headlines?  It's pure nonsense.  She's giving me a stroke just having to hear about this blog post in it's pre-published form.  Here, have a drink.  I'm seriously considering getting rid of all electronic devices.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Well Hello There!

I made it back.  It was hard at first, staying offline you know, for like a whole five days.  Pathetic, ain't it?  I'm not only addicted to your blogs, but have an infatuation with the weather websites where I get up to the minute updates on the local radar.  Weird.  Not sure when it starts, but apparently at a certain point in your life, being constantly updated on the weather seems of utmost importance.  And it's not like I really have anywhere to go.

But what's really weird is that I though I'd jump right on blogger this morning and start typing away, but I actually had to make myself sit down in front of the computer.  I've got several post-worthy rants brewing in my noggin, but had no real urge to put pen to paper (or more accurately - fingers to keyboard).

I did "cheat" a little earlier in the week looking up a recipe for Funnel Cakes (and I did try looking it up in my numerous cookbooks), but after I scribbled down the ingredients I closed up the computer again.  Early (really, really early....more on that later) this morning I opened up my email account and the "news" is on the page before you get to the email.  I made the mistake of clicking on one of the articles. And I wish I hadn't (something about $250K being "middle-class" this guy serious??) because it made my blood pressure rise considerably.  I know that one should be somewhat abreast on what's happening in the world, but really, did I need to be told by some political psycho narcissist that my family's income is basically considered poorer-than-dirt?  I've got a blog-rant brewing on that subject also.  Sure you can't wait.

So, what did I do with all the time freed up by not being online?  Only some of the items on the "Should already be done" list got crossed off, but others were added as things progressed.  You know, like how cleaning out the small kidding pen turns into scrubbing all the goat and chicken feeders / water buckets, then since I'm out there I may as well fix the wire screen on the pens, then have to gather all the tools to do the fixing, then figure since I'm cleaning out the small kidding pen I may as well get the larger pen ready for the creepy-meats and homegrown chicks, oh the goats look like they'd enjoy some of the weeds in the garden so I'll pull just a few for them then end up weeding the entire strawberry bed etc., etc, etc..  And I still need to clean out the chicken roosting / laying area.  You know.  The actual item on my list.

Not surprisingly, not everything got finished.  But in my defense, the list is usually added to four times for every one thing that gets scratched off.  The work never ends around here.  I wonder if it would be as bad if I still lived in the 'burbs?  Like, what would I feel I had to do if I weren't mucking out goat stalls or cleaning out chick bedding?  Would the list still be as long, but with different items?  I suspect that my house would be much cleaner.

I also did some reading, something that doesn't normally happen until the winter months.  I started with "The Art of Fine Baking" (1961) and then "The Borzoi Cook Book" (1923).  Yes, I can and will read a cookbook from start to finish like a novel.  The former I picked up looking for a recipe for funnel cakes (you never know, and I was desperate!)  and the latter just because I like to read older books.  The "Borzoi" was a rather interesting read.  Directions that included, "Place meat on fire in saucepan with water, better still, put saucepan into fireless cooker." and "Pass bouillon  through 4 thicknesses of clean cheesecloth.  The cloth must be scrupulously clean, washed every time with potash and well rinsed afterwards."

I'd better go check to see if we have enough wood to burn to ashes so I can make me some good ol' potash.  Let's see how many caustic burns I can get on one hand, shall we?  I believe I'll put that at the END of the "To Do" list.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Going Offline

I've been noticing that my online usage has been rather extravagant for the past few months.  Some of it I can blame on the fact that it was a horribly hot summer and I wanted to do absolutely nothing outside.  But now I'm noticing that there are many things on my "I should really have done this already" list and it keeps growing.  And I'm not crossing any of those items on that list by sitting on the computer blogging or keeping up with the 24/7 news coverage of the Election Madness. (I'm kidding about the election stuff.  They can all go jump off a cliff for all I care, lying bastards each and every one of them.)

So I'm going to unplug from the computer for a few days.  If I can manage to live through the fits of blog withdrawal, I'll be offline until this coming weekend, at which time I'll probably be spending an entire day catching up on what you all have been doing.

I wish you all a wonderful and productive week.  See you next weekend!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Krazo Acres Home for Wayward Pets

I like animals.  Probably too much, as Paul would readily attest to.

I like having a dog outside to alert us to any intruders (two or four-footed).  Unfortunately, Moonshine is at the point in her life that she is not only too rotund to get up and even fake-chase something, but even becoming rather complacent when it comes to other animals or people in the yard.  

Two weeks ago, we had a canine visitor.  I usually "Shoo" away dogs as best I can, throwing rocks or even plinking them with the pellet gun if it warrants a more drastic intervention.  But this guy just wouldn't go.  And he was darned friendly.  So after realizing he was more than happy to stay, I gave in and threw him a dog bone.  I penned him up for a day and posted a picture of him in the local online petfinder and online paper.  No one fessed up to being his owner, but I did get a response that someone did in fact, know this dog.  And it's home base was several miles from here.  Apparently it's "somebody's" dog that just wanders around and apparently started wandering into new territory.  Meaning our front porch.

After keeping him penned up for the day, Paul and I walked with him around the yard.  He didn't seem interested in the chickens or goats.  Didn't give a lick about the cats.  If he did, it would mean an immediate trip to the pound.  He also seemed to be good with Rhiannon, although we didn't leave them in close proximity to each other without one of us being right there.  So that night I gave him a bowl of food next to Moonshine's.  No growling, no snapping.  Just happy to eat.  Moonshine even seems to get along with him.  Everyone went to bed and I expected to find him gone in the morning.  

Except that he had made himself quite comfortable on the doormat on the front porch.  For four days.  We were becoming quite smitten with the bugger.  He barked when someone pulled up the driveway (but didn't charge) or if there were deer in the yard.  And other than having a few annoying habits like jumping and not knowing how to properly take a treat from your hand (he slobbers and grabs your entire hand, gently, but still not acceptable), he was a pretty good dog.  Rhiannon had even named him "Wallace".  And I had started thinking that we'd have to take him in to the vet to get him fixed and have shots given.  Man, that drives me nuts.  There are so many irresponsible pet owners around here that just get animals, let them wander, don't care for them and don't get them fixed.  

But on the fifth day, he was gone.  I called for him on and off during the day, but I honestly wasn't going to make a big deal about trying to find him.  I figured he was just passing by.

This morning I opened the front door and saw this:

I debated going through whole "Shooing" routine.  I debated having Paul run him off.  But in the end I just gave him a dog biscuit.  I'm a sucker.

I don't know what we're going to do with him now.  Part of me wants to keep him as he seems like a very nice dog.  And we do need a "real" dog (sorry Moonshine) on the homestead.  But it's obvious that he's more than comfortable wandering the county and I do not want to be the owner of a wandering dog.  I've also been debating taking him to the vet to get neutered because it's the right thing to do, but should we have to shoulder the financial responsibility of fixing and vaccinating someone else's animal, especially if he'll just leave us in a week?  That's a $200 expenditure right there and we're not exactly poop'n out greenbacks.

So I'll be mulling over Wallace's fate here for a while.  Got to go now.  I think he wants a biscuit.

Chick update

Creepy meats are growing and eating like crazy.  No big surprise there.
Getting kind'a crowded in there.
My homegrown chicks have had two more casualties.  One I had to put down, even after doing some fancy hobbling and another I found belly up in the brooder yesterday morning.  I didn't notice anything wrong like intestines bulging out or anything, but who knows what happens to the insides when you push "stuff" back in.

I even had a green egg hatch out this time!  It was the last chick to hatch and it probably had the worst problem with it's abdomen.  I had to keep re-bandaging that little chick and it didn't help that it kept peeping and peeping and peeping like crazy, each "peep" pushing it's insides out.  But it is still alive.
Fifteen homegrown hatchlings!
It seems that I have at least six roosters in this batch.  Given past hatchings, every chick with a white spot on it's head has turned out to be a Barred Rock looking rooster.  Guess it's a sex-link thing.  As for sexing the others, I won't have an idea until they are about three weeks old.  I can usually tell the males from the females then by the size and growth of their combs.

Both the creepy meats and the homegrown chicks are still in the garage as Paul doesn't want to run our hillbilly electricity to the barn (via a 100' extension cord hung high enough on trees so the goats don't chew on it).  This is how we've done it in the past, but it's still more secure to have the chicks in the garage.......although much more stinky.  I'll put them in the barn when they are old enough and feathered out as not to require supplemental heat at night.  They don't have a heat lamp on during the day because it's still been hovering around 100 degrees this past week.

We did, however, receive some blessed and much needed rainfall yesterday.  Over two inches!  And this morning it's a "blustery" 59 degrees......I'm even drinking hot tea!  The forecast for the next few days doesn't even have us getting past the upper 80's.   How wonderful and how I long for Fall!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chick Triage

I started forty-five eggs in the incubator on the 15th of August.  After two weeks I candled them and tossed a dozen of them.  About half of the remaining eggs were "maybes" but I kept them in the incubator just in case I was wrong.

The peeping started Monday night.  By Wednesday morning, there were seventeen live and fluffy chicks.  But I had to preform some chick-fixing in order to save seven of them.  It seems that for whatever reason (my fault, incubator fault, nature's fault, etc.?) at least nine of them had problems with the attachment of the umbilical cord to their abdomen.  When they freed themselves from the shell, the spot where the cord meets the body wasn't totally formed or developed, so there was muscle poking out.  Not much, but every time the chick peeped, it was forced out.  I pushed the "stuff" back in and put a teeny-tiny bandage over it.  Seven of them got a bandage and two of them I just left as it wasn't that big and had started to dry up on it's own.  During the night one of them had the same problem but I didn't see it until the morning and there was already too much of his insides pushed out and dried out.  I put him down because there was no way I could get all that back inside without doing more damage.  I put down another as when he kicked his way out of the shell, most of his intestines were already outside of his body.

There was also one other that had started pecking out of the shell, but after a while there was no movement or sound and even a little "goo" oozing out of where the shell was pecked opened; another of the same problem I suspect.  I gave it another few hours then determined it was really dead and tossed it.

So out of forty-five eggs, I got seventeen live chicks.  A 38% hatching rate isn't very good, but it beats a sharp stick in the eye.  Except half of them had some serious development issues.  I did have a problem keeping the moisture up in the incubator this time and I also didn't get the eggs out of the egg-turner until almost 36 hours before the first one hatched.  Could that have been the reason?  Anyone have this problem before?  I'm assuming it wasn't just a fluke as there were so many with the same problems.  I just hope that they heal up and can become productive laying hens or soup stock (roosters).

I definitely think I'm going to have to call it quits for the 2012 Egg Incubation Marathon.  Although we finished with a total of 28 homegrown chicks this year (plus two wild turkey poults), I'd have to say that the outcome was less than desirable.

But just like the garden.....there's always next year!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Better early than never?

I had planned on having the Cornish cross meat birds arrive two days after my homegrown incubated chicks were to hatch so I could put everybody in the same pen and brood them all together.

The eggs in the incubator are supposed to start hatching Tuesday (tomorrow):

But look what I had to pick up at the feed store last Thursday:

Needless to say, I wasn't too happy about the early arrival of the creepy-meats as it messed up my carefully thought out plans.  But I took them anyhow as the feed store guy said he wasn't sure if they would be getting any more chicks and I didn't want to have to scramble around to find our future chicken pot pies.

So basically, the Cornish chicks will be a week older than the barnyard mutts I'm hatching out and since the Cornish are notorious for growing very quickly, I'm sure that they will look like monster-chicks compared to mine.  I guess I'll have to separate the two broods for a while until I feel everyone can get along without too much pecking and picking.

The older chicks are still being cared for by two hens.  Technically there should be three hens taking care of chicks, but one flew the coop after three weeks and left her offspring alone in the pen.  Once broody hen number two hatched out her single chick, I put her and her chick in with the abandoned chicks and after a few days she adopted them.  The third broody hen and her two chicks were put in the same pen after a week alone.  So there are two hens and nine chicks in the large pen.  I'm still weary of letting the chicks out though as I don't have good luck with the little guys coming back in the pen or in the coop.  The mother hens usually end up staying outside under the barn with them at night and become opossum or raccoon midnight snacks.

Eventually I'm going to have to boot them out though as the Cornish birds will need to go in that pen as they outgrow the bins, then even the smaller pen.  Or maybe I can put them in the chicken tractor.  It hasn't been used since 2010, so I'll have to take a look at it.  Hopefully it won't take a lot to get it back to being 'coon and 'possum proof.