Monday, December 30, 2013

Clucking Round the Homestead

Lily is due to kid in just over four weeks and the "new" RIR chicks are now almost four months old.  Which means that I have to kick the biddies out of the kidding pen so it can be used as, well, a kidding pen.  I'm going to try to clean out the pen tomorrow and open up the slats in the door so the chicks can venture out into the Great Wide Open.  I'll then turn on the light in the big side of the coop and hope that they eventually make their way into that side of the coop come dusk.  If not, I'll just close up the kidding pen and they will either "Go into the Light" in the big coop or I'll end up having to hand-deliver them to the other side.  Which I think I end up doing for at least a month after evicting new chicks from the brooding area.  Fun times await.

I think there we still have a total of fourteen older chickens, four of which are roosters.  The hens are two years old now so they're starting to slow down in the egg department.  I've never culled older hens; I've never had to.  Being a free-range chicken around here pretty much means you're darned lucky to make it past two moltings, and if you do manage a third or even fourth year (which has never happened), well then you've earned your keep and are welcome to stay here and eat chicken scratch and kitchen scraps regardless of your egg output.  Too bad the older (and obviously smarter) chickens are never the ones that go broody so I can keep those SmartChicken genes at the homestead.  And this is why I bought the aforementioned RIR chicks this past summer.

I did have a little "oh crap" moment over the weekend when I walked outside to see two very bloodied roosters.  I immediately swore at myself and my laziness because I didn't lock up the chicken door the following evening so on my walk to the barn I was preparing myself to find a chicken coop full of carnage.  But I didn't.   Upon closer inspection it turns out that the two bloody roosters are the same ones that have been having at it.  It's actually kind'a fun to watch them get all fluffy-feathered and fighting, but I'd never seen them actually draw blood until now.  Guess it's time to put one of them in the pot.  Either that or set up a little Gladiator Arena in the yard and charge admission.

We had some really nice weather last week, but it seems as if Winter was intent on reminding us who is really in charge and I'm back to chopping ice out of the stock tank and loading up the wood stove.  Which I suppose is pretty good timing as I'm going to need the stove going in order to make that rooster soup.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Carnivore Kind'a Christmas

The days preceding Christmas were filled with meat, meat & more meat.

Three more squirrels were put into the freezer (yes, I have greatly improved my shot).  I was going to cook them up right away, but we had other meat that needed to be taken care of.

A beef brisket (from like Winter of 2011) was taken out of the deep freezer to defrost, then cut in half.  One half was smoked and pulled apart to be slathered in homemade BBQ sauce in the near future, and the other half is currently sitting in a tub full of brine in anticipation of becoming a slab of pastrami.

A Christmas goose was cooked and eaten.

And by far the best meat-event was the making of summer sausage:

A few weeks ago we attempted to make a small batch of venison summer sausage, but it didn't turn out well.  The meat wasn't ground fine enough and there weren't enough spices.  The fact that we cooked it in the oven at too high a temperature didn't help and we didn't get any smokey flavor either, thus making our sausages "blah". Luckily it wasn't a large batch as it will probably end up being snacks for the Big Sloppy Dog.  Our recent batch, however, was darned yummy.

We used ten pounds of ground venison, one pound of fatty pork, LEM Summer Sausage seasoning & cure, and then added some liquid smoke, extra garlic salt, four jalapeno peppers and 8 ounces of monterey jack cheese.  There was a little bit of sausage left after we ran out of the casings so Paul just rolled it up in a small tin-foil log.  He loaded up the smoker with hickory and plum and smoked the sausages for three hours at 150 degrees.

After the sausages were taken out of the smoker they were put into a cooler filled with ice in order to stop the cooking process as well as to firm things up.  I put the small tin-foil sausage into the freezer to speed things up because we were very anxious to do a taste test.
Venison summer sausage with a glop of goat cheese.
The little sausage was deeee-licious!  And we had to sample the larger sausages later on, because, well, to make sure everything was ok.  Wouldn't want to have inferior sausages just laying around the house you know.

The cost of the LEM seasoning package ($10) and sausage casings ($8), although not very expensive, make me want to mix our own seasoning / curing mix and see if there is an alternative to the store-bought collagen casings.  The tin foil wrapping kept the sausage in a nice shape, but I think it prevented most of the smokey flavoring from penetrating into the meat.  Maybe I'll do a side-by-side test next time.

Which may not be too far off the way we're chowing down on them.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rhiannon's Revenge

Well, at least she liked it.  Apparently Pew-Pew was able to give me one last "up yours" because he didn't turn out nearly as good as I had hoped.

I  crammed his abdominal cavity with homemade stuffing, slathered his skin with S&P and some butter and plopped his butt in the behemoth roaster my Dad got me for Christmas a few years ago.

325 degrees for several hours, basted him once in a while, then ended up finishing him in a hot oven to crispy up the rest of the skin.

The legs were pretty good, but the breast meat was kind'a chewy.  And the "sauce" (i.e. cornstarch thickened gravy'ish product) I made with what goose fat there was and red wine base wasn't really that good.  In hindsight, we probably should have just smoked him like we did the ducks.  But oh well, we had our Christmas Goose.  And Pew-Pew's sacrifice has made it possible for other geese to live on as I don't think we'll be growing out any additional geese for the supper table.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas :)

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Christine!

Love ya!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bye-Bye Pew-Pew

Pew-Pew's demise had been in the plans for several months now.  His aggressive behavior towards us and the other livestock was really pissing me off.  And the fact that Rhiannon would actually cry when she was anywhere near him pretty much sealed the deal.

Up until about a month ago, he had the run of the place.  Then I finally put him in the goat pen because Rhiannon refused to go out in the front yard to play.  Two weeks ago, I put him in a separate pen in order to fatten him up.  He got unlimited cracked corn and high protein chicken crumbles, but he didn't eat nearly as much as I would have thought.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe he was too busy hissing at me every time I went by the pen or maybe he stayed up late every night trying to plan his revenge.

Warning:  Mom, stop reading right here.  Really.  Click HERE to look at some cute kitty pictures.  And if you do continue reading, I don't want to hear one peep out of you about it.

D-day was today.  Paul set up the scalding pot and I went inside to clean up the kitchen counter and gather the necessary butchering utensils.  When I went back out to check on Paul, Pew-Pew was already limp & lifeless, hanging upside down from some bailing twine strung between two cedars.  I was a bit surprised to see he had already done the deed and before I could even speak, Paul says, "Well, that didn't go well."  Apparently one cannot "wring" the neck of a goose like one would a chicken.  I believe the end came when the goose's skull met with a short length of fence pipe.  Not something Paul seemed particularly proud of and not something we would replicate if we had any other geese to butcher.  I asked him why he didn't just hang him upside down and slit his throat like the chickens, but he said that there would be just too much flapping around without a killing cone.  And I had to agree.  If you've ever butchered a chicken without using a cone, they can flap around like crazy.  Not only is it messy, but they tend to flap so hard they dislocate their wings and it doesn't make for a nice looking carcass.  I can't imagine the trauma and mess that could have occurred had the goose been left to flap himself to death while hanging upside down and spewing blood from his carotid artery.

Anyways.  We scalded him in the pot of hot water and started plucking.  Not nearly as easy as plucking a chicken.  Even with some soap in the water, it didn't penetrate all the way to the skin and we had to re-dip him several times to get the breast and wing feathers off.  And the down.  OMG, all the down feathers!  It felt like I was plucking a cotton ball.  

Paul brought him inside and I started cutting exactly like I would a chicken.  And the first thing I noticed was that there wasn't as much fat on him as I expected.  I pulled out the fat in the abdominal cavity and put it away for later.....all 4 ounces of it. :(

The I went on to eviscerating.  I thought it would be easier than a chicken as you can really get your hand up in the chest cavity, but the connective membranes were tougher so I couldn't pull everything out all at once.  I also had to be careful because I wanted to save the liver for pate and I was really looking forward to seeing how big it was.  Which it wasn't.  It was a paltry 2 ounces.  If I hadn't personally just ripped the insides out of that goose, I would have sworn it was the liver of a larg'ish chicken.

After being relieved of his feet, neck and insides (including a pair of testicles, thus confirming he was a he) I put the carcass on the scale.  Six pounds, four ounces.  I think we've had chickens dress out bigger than that.  He was six months old; plenty old to butcher.  Did he not get enough to eat?  Did he not eat more because he was an "only" goose?  Did he purposely avoid getting big and fat as to make himself look less desirable for supper?  I don't know.  But I do know what we'll be having for Christmas supper.  I just hope we don't have any surprise guests because there won't be a lot to go around.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Gourmet Dinner with a dash of Hillbilly

Thursday night I finally took the sea scallops that Mom gave me (like four months ago) out of the freezer.  Friday night I planned on making broiled scallops and spaghetti with an Alfredo sauce and garlic breadsticks.

When I was making the Alfredo'ish sauce I used garlic, butter, Parmesan cheese, goat cheese, and goat cream I had skimmed from milk earlier in the year and put into the freezer.  After I poured the cream in the saucepan, I had suddenly realized that I wasn't exactly sure if that was cream........or colostrum!  Given the bright white color of the cream-in-question, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the colostrum.  But heck, even if it was, the sauce turned out beautifully!  And I'd be willing to bet that there's some hoity-toity French restaurant charging an insane amount of money for a plate of something-or-other smothered in "premiere lait du chevre" sauce anyhow.

But I'm pretty sure that same restaurant isn't pairing that dish with breadsticks made from split hot dog buns.  Yup.  I totally forgot to make the bread.  And since there wasn't quite enough carbohydrates in that meal, I grabbed a few frozen hot dog buns, split 'em open, slathered them with butter, sprinkled garlic salt and Parmesan cheese on top & popped them in the broiler.  Instant Hillbilly breadsticks!

Take that, Monsieur Fantaisie Pantalon!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Put'n & Take'n

That's what our family calls it when we clean up clutter.

And as my Mom so eloquently pointed out to me earlier this week, I've got "piles of crap everywhere".  So in order to tackle some of the clutter, I organized my animal med cabinet.  Which wasn't even within sight so technically nothing really got un-piled, just re-organized.  Is that passive-aggressive, or what?

I don't know why I haven't done this sooner.  Well, I know why.  I'm lazy and procrastinate.  But anyhow....

I went and bought myself a tool box a few days ago and went about cleaning out the cabinet.  Threw a bunch of old stuff out, found some stuff I had forgot I had even bought and managed to make myself an empty space in the kitchen cabinet.

The box is a little big, but I figure that I'm sure to end up filling it up eventually.  You know.  When I have to start buying "pig" and "cow" meds and equipment.  Even though I had originally envisioned "Everything" inside that box, it just didn't happen.  Some of the meds are kept in the fridge so I ended up putting them into small, lidded plastic box from the dollar store:

Because although I knew that the broad-spectrum antibiotic was kept next to the pickled relish and the CD/T vaccine was hidden behind the horseradish sauce, I doubt Paul would be able to find them if the need arose for it  in my absence.  Now everything is together.  And separate from the condiments.

I had bought the bigger toolbox based upon the size of one of the largest tools we have; the disbudding iron, but then decided that it was best where it was at; inside the disbudding box. Then, there's still all the birthing equipment and supplies in the Kidding Kit inside the old cooler in the barn.  Which is best where it was at; inside the barn.

So, even though I wasn't able to consolidate all of my animal doo-dads and thingies and what-nots, I do feel a bit less disorganized now.  And if Mom's lucky, I may just get rid of the grocery sack filled with old magazines before the New Year.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Well that went quickly

The day before the Almost'a Ice Storm, I hauled a pallet full of firewood up nearer the house.  I also had a pretty sizable pile right on the porch. But as time wore on, as the snow & ice relented and the temperatures refused to budge beyond 32 degrees, the pallet was getting lighter and lighter.

Yesterday morning, I uncovered the pilfered pile and found only this:
I swear that pile was like 5' tall !! 
And that was gone before sunset so I wheeled my barrow down the hill to the "big" pile of firewood and wheeled it, full, back to the house where it now sits next to the porch.  Our daytime temperatures have been in the upper 50's since yesterday and we're supposed to get up to 65 on Friday so I suspect that the wheelbarrow will last until at least tomorrow.  At which point I'll be barrowing my butt back down to get more firewood.

It was interesting to see exactly how much wood we went through those cold eleven days.  The wood was stacked about 4' high on the pallet so I guess I could measure the pallet and figure out how much of a cord we used.  But even if I knew how much we went through in eleven days, those were really, really cold days for us here so it's not like I can simply extrapolate the days of winter / known wood used and figure out what we'd need for an entire year.  The wood pile is pretty impressive (not Mama Pea Wood Pile impressive, mind you) so I'm sure we have enough for the year, and there are still tons (literally) of logs that need sawed up and rounds that need split.  

I guess my exercise routine is going to be wheel barrowing and splitting.  Beats feeling like a hamster on the treadmill I suppose.

Paul's Take
If ONLY she's get her butt on the wood splitter.  I'm the one dozing trees, limbing them, sawing them, splitting them and stacking the wood.  I buy that expensive contraption so she doesn't have to split logs by hand and she still refuses to spend more than a half hour on that thing.  And you can even sit down and do it!

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

He IS going to be the Guest of Honor at our Christmas Supper so I figured I should decorate his pen.  You know.  To get him in the Holiday spirit.

Is that just sadistic, or what?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

That GOOD White Stuff

I'm currently down to milking just one doe, once a day.  About a month & a half ago I went from milking morning & night to just in the evenings.  I told my three milk customers to be prepared for a milk cut-off.  Then around Thanksgiving, Annette started drying herself up so I just went with the flow (or lack thereof), cut her grain rations and quit milking her.

MamaGoat is our only source of fresh milk now.  She's still giving just a tad over a quart, once a day.  Just enough for cereal & the occasional baked item that calls for milk.  MamaGoat is due to kid on March 21st, so I'll stop milking her right after Christmas in order to give her a three month break.  I'd give her the full three months if I stopped on the 21st, but I just couldn't fathom the idea of Christmas cookies without fresh milk.

When I suspected the milk flow was ebbing, I started freezing some of the milk in empty water bottles: 

They are the perfect size for thawing just enough to get Rhiannon (and me) through the looooooong milk-less hump before Spring kidding.

Every year I dread the thought of the milk spigot being turned off.  And maybe one day I'll actually spread out the kidding dates to give us a year-round supply of milk.  Nettie is due on February 24th or March 2nd, so we'll be back in the milk business soon afterwards.  But until then, we'll just enjoy what fresh goat-goodness we have now and ration the frozen supply.  And I can "enjoy" two months of not having to freeze my buns off in the milk parlor.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

That White Stuff

Today was Day Eight of the 2013 Almost'a Ice Storm.  Paul has been working 12 hour shifts so has been taking the dually to work, so he could get to work.  That leaves Rhiannon and I with the red shoebox.  Which is still frozen solid to the icy driveway.  Grandma, however, couldn't go eight days without seeing her only granddaughter so she braved the main roads (which, although greatly improved, were still nothing one would want to go out in if one didn't have to) and parked up the hill from the house, trudged through the ice-crusted snow with the Sloppy Dog at her side, and helped Rhiannon and I put up Christmas decorations.

It has been a pretty easy storm as far as ice storms go.  I had plenty of time to prepare and even if I desperately needed something, Paul could have picked it up on his way home from work the second day when stores were opened again.  There's plenty of food in the house, still enough grain for the animals, and thankfully we didn't lose power.

Rhiannon has been enjoying all the snow and she even went sledding for the first time in her life:
Yes, that's my daughter sliding down the hill on a scoop shovel.
And on to the big hill!
Hold on, little girl!
Hillbilly, we most certainly are.  But YOU try finding a place that sells sleds around here.  Water toys a-plenty, but slim pickings when it comes to winter sports.  Golf can still be played here in the winter; and occasionally while wearing a short-sleeved shirt.

Yesterday was the first day I bothered to wear anything other than sweatpants and a sweatshirt.  It's not like anybody was going to come down here and the goats don't so much care if I'm wearing fifteen year old Hanes sweatpants with holes in unmentionable areas as long as I keep the hay and grain coming.   Today I felt a little more human and actually donned a pair of nice jean and a Christmas'ie sweater and put on some makeup!  I'm sure Mom was relieved.

The snow and ice has melted significantly, but with our daytime temps only in the lower 30's, it's slow going.  And before it can even disappear from the landscape, we're forecast for some more freezing rain tomorrow night.  Which means another weekend will go by with Paul having to work 12 hour shifts.

The critters are all doing fine despite this white hell they're having to live though.  I even went up with Paul in the dually yesterday to see Ms. Melman and Nugget.  Chickens have finally moved out from underneath the barn but are still sticking to the paths made by my shoveling or those made by the passing of numerous goat feet.  I'm still having to chop ice out of the water buckets every morning, but today I refused to bring out more than one bucket of warm water since the stock tanks weren't freezing up during the daylight hours.  Horrible, I know. Call PETA on me.  I'd like to see them careening their butts down the icy hill and crash into a stand of cedars; I need a good laugh.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Goat Swap O'Rama

Several weeks ago I put out an ad for Olivia, the doeling that I sold last year, but got back a little over a month ago.  She's a sweetie, but I really didn't want any milking Nigerians.  Technically she's 3/4 Nigerian & 1/4 Saanen, but I'm not really into the smaller milk goats.

Anyways.  I had several inquiries about her, but the serious ones apparently weren't serious enough for them to drive to our place nor even meet half-way to procure her.  I only wanted $150 for her so there was no way I was going to spend $40 in diesel fuel to sell her.  Then a lady about 2 1/2 hours hours from here inquired about her.  She wanted a smaller milking doe and liked the idea that she had some of the Saanen milking lines in her.  And she was willing to meet half-way.  Which I still wasn't thrilled about, until we started discussing the details.

She was more than willing to pay my asking price, but then threw out the idea that she had a year & a half old Boer doeling that was more than likely pregnant and sent me a picture of her taken earlier in the Spring.  And for that I was willing to make the two hour round trip drive for.  The fact that I was able to use my Mother In Law's car to haul Olivia and the new goat back & forth in was even better.  (Don't worry Grandma V., not a single turd or sprinkle of pee soiled your beloved Cruiser.)

So we agreed on a meeting place and time, I packed up the kiddo and goat and we were on our way for the Goat Swap.
Olivia is packed and on her way!
The trip there was uneventful (and un-pee-ful, thank goodness) and quiet.  I had half expected to be cramming chewing gum, used napkins or whatever other sound-blocking material I could find in the car to shove in our ear canals if Olivia started yelling.  She didn't utter a peep.  And swapping out goats wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, although I did get a few strange glances as I walked Olivia around the grassy area between the McDonald's drive-through and the Walmart parking lot for a potty break.  What?  You don't take your goat with you when you go shopping?  Sheesh.

Penny (the new goat) was a little larger than Olivia, but still had enough room to turn around (and around, and around, and around....the entire trip home) and lie down.  She wasn't nearly as well potty trained as Olivia and I had to stop three times when I noticed her squatting to pee.  But I had crammed a bunch of old towels, wee-wee pads and paper towels in the back so it was just a matter of wadding up the wet ones, putting them in a garbage bag, and tying it up until we got home.  Penny was also a bit more vocal than Olivia, but nothing horrible or ear-splitting.  I can't even imagine how horrible it would be to have had Pickles in the car with us for a two-hour drive. 

We got home safe & sound, unloaded Penny into her temporary pen and cleaned out the car.  No one would have ever guessed that I had just transported livestock 120 miles in the Cruiser.  I did, however, sprinkle a bit of carpet deodorizer and vacuumed up just in case there was any goaty smell.  Now there's just the overpowering smell of  fake flowers in there.

I finally move Penny in with the rest of the goats after four days and of course there's some head butting, pushing and shoving, but I think the 8" of snow in the yard has decreased their desire for bullying the new goat on the block.  

Penny is such a love bug and follows Rhiannon and I everywhere.  But as much as I love her demeanor and really, really long floppy ears (Too long?  Hmmmmm?) and uncharacteristic spots here & there (Double-Hmmmm??), I'm thinking that she's not all she was "supposed" to be.  But more on that later.  She's a sweetie and I'm keeping her.

So, just in the past two months I've swapped two goats; NewNew's little doeling for a two-year, as-needed rental of Merv the Perv for stud service and Olivia for the newest addition to our Boer herd. And I'm going to put an ad out for NewNew sometime this week.

Wonder what I'll end up with next?

Paul's Take
How about ending up with some CASH?  When she said she was going to get rid of some of the goats, I figured that she meant for money, not more goats.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Talk'n 'bout the weather

We ended up with around 8" of snow on top of a solid 1" of ice pellets.  My hillbilly hay shelter hadn't collapsed and I was rather surprised it didn't after brushing off the snow & cracking the thick sheets of ice off it.  The hoop hay tunnels, however, did not fair as well:

I brushed off what snow I could reach and whacked the tarp to get as much ice off as possible.  But even after getting a lot of the snow & ice off, it still didn't spring back to it's original shape.  I never really considered the hay tunnels having to withstand a snow load.  But at least the materials are still usable.

Our area in general was hit pretty hard, although still not as bad as it could have been if freezing rain had replaced the ice pellets.  The weight from the sleet/ice/snow have destroyed a lot of the local docks; the entire structures sinking and the roofs collapsing.

A few businesses found their storage sheds had collapsed.  Luckily they were closed and there were no employees hurt.  And of course there's the jack-knifed semi-trailers on the road and vehicles that had slipped into the ditches.  But I don't think there have been any serious injuries.  We're still not out of the woods as there is a chance of more snow/sleet/freezing rain tonight and tomorrow and honestly, I'm still waiting for the power to go off.

I spent half the day inside feeding the wood stove, and the other half trudging through the snow to haul warm water to the goats / chickens.  But even through all the snow and cold, I had my constant barn chore companion:

Outside Kitty is such a good little boy.  He follows me when I pitch out hay, around the barn to feed everyone, inside the milk parlor (hoping for a cup of warm goat milk) and then to bring in more firewood.  I haven't managed to make a proper kitty house for him yet, but he does have a box with a blanket and heating pad in it and it seems to be doing an ok job keeping him toasty in this unseasonably cold snap.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Since I ain't got nothing else to do

Figured I could crank out a blog post to make up for my skimpy November blog numbers.

We got sleet / rain / ice pellets yesterday morning starting around 9 am.  It finally let up.  When it turned to snow.  There is now at least 7" of snow on top of the car.  Which is probably stuck to the ground for at least a week as the highest temperature in the near future is a balmy 32 degrees.....on Thursday.  And by the looks of the radar, I don't see the snow letting up for at least another three hours.
At least someone is enjoying all the snow!
I suppose I should be counting my blessings though.  The weather didn't provide the exact mix of temperature and moisture to cause much ice to accumulate on the trees, so we've been spared (so far) a power outage.  Hauling warm water to the goats / chicken is a pain in the bee-hind, but the water situation would have been much, much worse if the electricity went out at the mule barn as their water is warmed with a stock tank heater.  And since Paul is on Snow Call he's had to drive into work, and past the mule barn, twice a day so he's been taking care of feeding & watering Ms. Melman and Nugget.  Another thing to be thankful for is the Dodge dually.  The county hasn't made it's way down our road with the plow or grader yet, and I don't suspect it will for a few more days.  If it weren't for the dually, we would be stuck at home.  Which I don't so much mind, but Paul's work wouldn't be very happy.

The wood stove is eating up the logs, and we're still in the 20's outside.  It's supposed to get down to Zero tonight so I'm going to be through the logs on the front porch before long and have to dig into the pallet of logs I brought up on Wednesday.

I've been shoveling the snow.  Not for us, mind you.  But for the goats and chickens.  Because you know, snow is evil.  Goats hate ANY type of moisture coming from the sky.  And the chickens refuse to walk through the snow to even get to their water & food hut.  So what does a farmgal do?  She shovels a path for the chickens, of course!

Hey, how about some hot tea over here?!
The new hillbilly goat hay shelter thingy is working, although I should probably move the snow off of it before it collapses.  The hoop houses for the stored hay rounds are straining under the weight of the snow & ice.  I had to duck to get under them to pitch hay when I normally can stand straight up.

Well, I'm off to check on the critters.  Again, again.  Then I think I'll come in, have some hot tea & watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Rhiannon.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ice Storm a' Coming

The news guys have been warning us for the past three days that we were in for a Sleet / Ice / Snow storm.  Figures.  The past few days have been in the mid to upper 60's.  What better way to usher in an ice storm than with weather requiring one to wear a t-shirt and shorts while doing barn chores....and then two days later have you bundled up in your Carharts hacking ice from the animal water tanks with an ax?

I guess we're due for a nasty ice storm, although I wouldn't have expected it this early in the season.  The last one was in 2009.  It was our first ice storm since moving here.  Mostly just a big inconvenience for us, but truly a nightmare for a lot of other people.  A home just a few miles from us burned to the ground because the fire trucks couldn't make the drive up / down / around the hills in the subdivision with the thick layer of ice on the road.  People farther out in the country were without power for over three weeks.  We went thirteen days without power, although we did have a generator to keep the large freezers from spoiling all the beef & pork we just filled it with (of course) and a wood stove for heating the house.

Knowing what could happen if we did get hit with the storm, I've been outside the last two days getting things in order.  A lot of the chores should have probably been done already, but what can I say?  I work best under pressure (i.e. I'm a lazyass).  Got the wood piles covered with tarps.  Moved wood to the porch and filled up a pallet with even more wood and moved it closer to the house.

Extra bedding in the chicken coop & goat huts.  Closed up the barn windows.  Made sure tarps were over the hay hoop houses.  Topped off all the water tanks / buckets / pails.  I even made a hillbilly makeshift cover for the "feeding" hay (as opposed to the stored hay).  Because you know, if the hay gets wet, or iced or even the slightest bit moist, the goats won't eat it.

This is something I've been meaning to do forever, but the thought of having those picky bugger goats turning their nose up at hay with snow or ice on it (or even close proximity to it) had me scrambling to do something - anything - to cover it up.  So I scrounged up half a cattle panel, a t-post, some bailing twine and used plastic sheeting and came up with this:
Hillybilly-esque?  Darn right!  Effective?  I hope so.
In reality, an extended power outage isn't that traumatic for us because we're kind of prepared for it.  The generator will keep the freezers going.  We have access to city (i.e. running) water just up the road.  Plenty of flashlights & oil lamps.  Wood burning stove for heat & cooking.  The biggest problem is taking care of the livestock.  Water will have to be hauled several times a day to the goats / chickens, but that isn't very far from the house.  Ms. Melman and Nugget, however, are pastured a mile up the road.  And if the ice is bad, even the truck won't be able to make it up the big hill to the barn.  So even though there is city water at the barn, there's the possibility that I'll have to hike up there to make sure they have adequate water, and, if the electricity is out the tank water heater won't work so ice forming in the buckets will be a problem.  But I guess we'll take that task on when we come to it.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to vacuum the rugs again and make sure there's no dirty laundry or dishes.  And maybe make another couple loaves of bread.  And if we manage to somehow avoid all this snow / ice, at least the house will be clean!

Are you in the path of this storm?  Are you ready for it?  I hope so.  If not, get yer butt in gear!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Goat Dates Finished

Even though I've been lax on my blogging lately (not quite sure why), I haven't been as lax with my goat plannings and (mis)management.

Merv the Perv went home right before Thanksgiving.  I had him breed three of the smaller does (MamaGoat, Olivia and NewNew) and when none of them seemed to go back into heat I called his owners up and told Merv, "Smell ya later!".  Met the owners half-way, transferred him from my truck to his truck and waved bye-bye until next year.  I have no doubt that as long as I can secure a decent rent-a-buck every year that I will not be looking for a permanent dairy goat stud for our farm.  Merv was here for just barely over a month.  Only thirty-five days to water, feed, care for - and smell - a buck goat as opposed to doing so for 356 days a year.

My two larger does, Nettie & Annette, went on their date at another farm not far from us earlier this fall.  Although it was a little more difficult (for Paul, that is) having to haul them back & forth three times, it's still easier than having to care for a buck on-site.  The only problems we had was that I apparently didn't gauge Nettie's heat cycle well enough and we had to take her back twice, and that since the girls didn't really "know" the buck, they weren't as receptive to him as they would have been to a more familiar buck.

Now that I've yammered on about how nice it is to not have a buck, I have to admit that there is still one at our farm.  Herman, the Boer, is still here.  Not that I really expected to get rid of him already.  If things go as planned, we do want to have a sizeable meat goat herd in the near future so having a buck on hand would make more sense.  Although at some point we're going to have to change bucks if we're going to keep his offspring as breeding (and not eating) stock as to avoid too much inbreeding.  So I've got some time to work on that.

In the interim, I have goat babies to plan for.  This year's breeding schedule is pretty much messed up.  Nettie was bred two separate times, both Boer gals were bred two separate times.  My first potential kidding date is only eight weeks away, my last kidding date is just under four months away and I just this morning picked up a "probably-pregnant-not-sure-when-she'll-pop" goat to our herd:
Penny, our newest Boer doe.
Yes, Paul knows.
More on her later.  I have to get outside and start with the Storm Preps this afternoon.  Ice is forecast for Thursday and there's a lot to do (that should have been done already).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Anybody seen my Muse?

I looked over at my Blog Archive on the side of the screen and there is a paltry eight entries for the entire month of November.

Wow.  Pretty pathetic.  Especially since I had considered doing my first NaNoWriMo (for like only two seconds, but still it did cross my mine).  I only managed to crank out eight piddly blog posts for November, what in the world was I thinking that I would start up again on my uhm, "novel"?

Anyhow, I have several post-worthy ideas and farm'ish happenings around here that I could have published, but never got more than a few sentences into it and the inspiration just left me.  We only had family here for four days for the Thanksgiving holiday, so it's not like I can blame them for my lack of blogging.  Most of my favorite blogs were even neglected (sorry gals/guys, still luv ya!).  I think I even went four or five days without checking my email.  Remember when you liked to get an email message?  Now I almost dread opening my email account and it's not like I have tons of spam or anything.

I actually thought (again, for only like two seconds) that maybe it was time to get rid of the internet at the house.  I'm sure Paul would be thrilled.  I could still get online at the library & do at least one post a week, but then Rhiannon wouldn't be able to get on her Starfall website (which she does use several times a week) and I know that the second I pulled the internet-plug, I'd get hives or start shaking because I would suddenly need to look up something online.

But I think I just needed a little break from the computer.  Or not.
Nope.  No inspiration in here.
Somebody give Thalia my email address, will ya?  I need some creative stimulus.  With a smidgen of smartassness thrown in for good measure.