Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mmmm... Pork

(and I reallly need to clean the oven...)

Pork "shoulder" roast with potatoes... Mmmm. Problem is, when I unwrapped this roast to season it (butcher paper labeled "shoulder roast") there were 3 RIBS attached to the roast. Wth? Maybe I'm stupid, but I didn't know there were ribs in the shoulder? I had to cut cartilage and bones out of this, and then trim, roll, and tie the roast. Ugh. Just when I think I've calmed down about the way our local butcher mangled our pigs, I get fired up again. Can anyone explain to me how there would be rib bones in the shoulder? Regardless, considering that we wanted all our roasts to be boneless... Sigh. So, add boney shoulder roasts to bone-in loin roasts, no tenderloin, and all thick (no thin) cut bacon, and my brain is boiling. We're soooo going to have our hogs hauled down to Hubbard next year where we'll try Voget Meats. Though we may take some ground into the sucky butcher to have brats made... Their brats are excellent.

Anyhow, this roast was definitely delicious. I don't think we could ever go back to store-bought pork. We gave some friends a shoulder roast instead of a bottle of wine as a host gift when they threw a party a couple weeks back. For Christmas, they got a new smoker, and tried it out on the roast. Apparently the results were spectacular. So, they went out and bought another roast at the store to make the meal again. Well, our buddy called LJ to complain that the store bought roast was "crap". Lol. He said the store meat was extremely fatty, and mushy. We're pretty happy about that comment. Sorry that he got cruddy meat, but very happy that our pork came out so good, especially considering that the estimated live weights for the four pigs we raised were between 340-380 lbs. Big pigs, but lean, tasty, and the chops are HUGE! It may not be economical, as the pig's rate of growth slows as they get bigger (meaning more feed for less gain), but I think we'll grow them out past the recommended 225-250 mark again this year. Because when I want a chop, I want a CHOP. :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy holidays!

Haven't blogged in forever, or even kept up on my buddy's blogs, mostly because I've been horribly busy and stressed. My dept at work is rolling out a huge software project that has had me traveling all over the state and working plenty of OT, my favorite aunt is very very ill, LJ is having knee surgery on the 11th of January (tore his LCL), normal Christmas season tasks, regular home and critter upkeep, Afro was injured a few days ago(think she may have wrenched her neck sticking her head through the fence) and isn't eating. She just started drinking on her own today (been prying her mouth open several times a day) and I finally got her to eat today (put her favorite soft grass in her mouth and she ate it reluctantly).

In any case, apologize for being MIA for months. Hope everyone had/has a safe and fabulously fun Christmas and New Year's.

Take care, and be back soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Critter and project updates

Still haven't managed to get to my computer for some real posting, so via iPhone pics, here's an update on some of what's been going on around here.

We were getting lots of these (like 18 a day), but cold weather and short days have the girls laying only 4-9 a day now. Haven't seen a white egg from Miss Blue in about 3 weeks. Either she stopped laying, or she's hiding them somewhere.

The girls are enjoying the new pen I fenced off for them.

And Dunderhead, with his wicked unruly eyebrows, seems recovered (knock on wood).

It is getting colder, and according to LJ, it started snowing after I left for work.

This is just pretty. Snapped while hiking the trails on our property. We've had some raging storms over the last week, so I doubt this lovely web is still out there.

I made this stool for our library so I can reach the top shelves, and I have begun organizing my books. I ordered a roll of dust jacket covers from Brodart, and have only managed to get about 1/3 of my hardbacks covered.

I also made a woodbox for in the house. I got the andirons for $8 at an antique show, painted them satin black (they were a really awful antiqued gold before), and mounted the box on them. I put legs on the back of the box. Works well, holds two sling-loads of wood, keeps bark and chips off the floor, and is PERFECTLY square. I'm pretty proud of that last part. :) (Please excuse the unfinished tile work on the hearth, and the lack of baseboard on the wall...)

Also been working on this little side table I just picked up at the thrift store. It took me about two hours to chip out that awful concrete and glass mosaic. Yuck. Makes me sad, as originally this little table would have had tiles made by, or in the style of, a company like Taylor, Catalina, or Malibu. I've had a few of these tables with their original tiles intact, and just love them. I'm going to refinish this, and see if I can get repro tiles that will fit. If anything, I only paid $7.95 for it, and have some mexican tile that I could make work.

I made some of this (mandarin ginger marmalade), as well as apple sauce and blackberry jam, and learned that the Ball recipes put too freakin much sugar in everything. Luckily, I've skimped a bit, except for the blackberry jam, which unfortunately came out painfully sweet.

I also took some of our pig fat...

And rendered some lard. It's awesome! Though, the crockpot method was gross, and slow, and a pain in the butt. A gal I know swears by the dutch oven method, so I'll try that next. If I don't get a dutch oven for my birthday next week (Mom hinted I would), I'll go out and buy one. We need one anyway. :) (Lard is cooling below. Came out pure white once fully cooled)

And that's about it for now. Gonna spend the weekend cleaning and prepping for Thanksgiving.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Simply the best dog ever

Ok, so he still wants to eat the new puppy, but otherwise he is the best dog ever.

So, I taught Henry at a very young age that nothing is his unless it is given to him. So, he doesn't chew things that aren't doggy toys, and doesn't steal food. I can put a plate of food on the coffee table, mere inches from his face as he sits on the couch, and he will not touch it. Cammi is an entirely different story, having eaten an entire hot pizza (stolen off the stove), a boiling hot bowl of soup, and many many other not-for-doggy foodstuffs. She once choked down a lemon wedge that had fallen on the floor, just so our other dog couldn't have it. I don't write about Cammi much, because I really dislike her. She's LJ's girl though, so I've got to tolerate her.

Anyhoo, back to my golden child, Henry. Last night we were having a pizza dinner in the living room while watching tv. I had left my plate on the coffee table (Henry on the adjacent couch) and gone into the kitchen to grab a drink. As I came back in he room, LJ tossed Henry the crust from his pizza, which bounced off Henry's big rubber nose and landed on my plate next to two big fragrant slices of pizza. The look on Henry's face was priceless... Sort of like that Reading Rainbow episode where Levar Burton drops his ice cream on his shoe. Heartbroken. He looked at me, at the plate, at me, at the plate, and flumped down on the couch with a huff and a sigh. "Henry, do you want that 'cookie'?" ...Ears perk up... "That looks like an awfully tasty cookie." ...glances at the plate and then stares at me... And then the key word, "OK". Henry reached his muzzle out to the plate and gingerly snagged ONLY the little piece of dry crust that LJ had tossed him, completely avoiding my pizza. Best. Dog. Ever. He got a piece of pepperoni as a reward. :)

I love this dog...


Spoiled rotten!


Bath tolerant


And yet also a total couch potato. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Still too busy

I've been a horrible blogger over the last few months. Problem is, there's still too much to do. By the time I'm done with whatever needed doing, I'm too tired to get out my phone or laptop and post something. Currently at the Oakland airport... Again. A last minute, "we need you down here". The flight was literally booked yesterday. So, I'm here until Friday night. Fun fun fun! I'm going to try, again, to use my free evenings down here to catch up on some blog reading. We'll see!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rooster update

So, on Tuesday night, Dunderhead still wasn't really walking. When I came home, he was 20' or so outside the coop, but was sitting and wouldn't/couldn't get up. I picked him up, made sure he ate and drank, and put him back in the coop with the ladies. Yesterday, he would walk a few steps and then lie down. Eating and drinking, though. According to LJ, Dunder attempted to mount one of the buffs, and she promptly flipped him over and dumped him on his head. At least his spirits seemed good. :)

Today, though a little wobbly, he is walking around and patrolling his yard as usual.

I don't get it. It happened the same way a few months ago. He's always been big and a bit wobbly. Could it be neurological? Perhaps something funky with his spine? Anyhow, he seems to be on the mend, which is awesome, because while he can be a serious butthead at times, I really like that bird!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Injured rooster... Again

Some of you may remember the problems I had with Dunderhead a few months ago. He started limping, and it progressed to where he couldn't even walk. We brought him in the house for a week or so, confining him to one of the brooders. Eventually his limp went away, and he was returned to the yard with his girls.

Yesterday evening I went out to close up the coop and saw him nestled down on the other side of the run. I went over to shoo him towards the coop, but when he tried to run off, he fell over. Couldn't walk. I caught him, and we checked his feet and legs. Couldn't find any injuries. Bones seem whole and unbroken. When I put a finger across the pad of his foot, he grips it with his toes. But he can't walk. Unable to find the problem, I made sure he drank and ate, and nestled him down in the straw in a corner of the coop. I'll see how he's doing this afternoon when I get home.

Cross your fingers for me. Dunderhead can be a pain, and will occasionally come after me if I'm trying to catch one of his girls, but I still really like this bird. He's an awfully pretty boy and takes good care of his ladies. I don't want to have to put him down. LJ sent me an email this morning and said that Dunder was crowing his head off this morning. LJ didn't get a look at him, as it was still dark when he left. Hopefully his exhuberant singing is a good sign.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ah, the joys of traveling

Between hunting season, animals, chores, work, etc, I have had no time to write anything, and limited time to comment on people's posts. Thought I'd get a break this week, and get some stuff done, but the boss man booked me a flight to the bay area. I had the dreaded young child sitting behind me on the plane, kicking away. Stinky dude sitting next to me. Shuttle to my hotel was delayed. Not one of my better trips, but not the worst. Very short flight at least, from the pacific nw to the bay area.

Beautiful weather right now in Oakland, but it's Oakland. No offense, but the bay area is one of my very LEAST favorite parts of CA. It's tolerable and occasionally pleasant, but only if someone else is driving. :) I only left today, and already I miss my guy, our pets, and the quiet countryside.

I'm here all week, with lots of time on my hands in the evenings, but no computer. Can't really post much, but I'm gonna try and at least get caught up on my blog reading. So don't be surprised if comments start popping up from me on posts that are months old. I'm that far behind.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To shoot or not to shoot

So. There's a monster buck roaming our property. I've been seeing his tracks for a year, but never see him. He nearly destroyed my bean pole teepee this spring, rubbing his antlers. His tracks show up in the garden, down the trail, and over in the center of the woods. So, rifle in hand yesterday, I was walking the trails and checking on a couple of our trail cam spots. I'd seen a little spike when I got home, and was hopeful that the deer were finally venturing out in the rain. Coming off a trail into a cleared area, I startled the monster buck. He had been picking his way down a trail to my right that dumped out in the same spot. He took two big bounds and stopped behind an alder and some brush a short way away. I brought up the rifle to sight on him, only to realize that, despite being careful, my scope lens had gotten wet. One big blur. Slowly, I wiped the lens and sighted again. I couldn't get a clear shot on any part of him but his butt, and even that was iffy. So, take a guess through the brush? Maybe hit the tree? Maybe just wing him and have him run off and die somewhere? I didn't take the maybe shot. I took a slow step to the right, to a better line of fire, brought up the rifle, and he took a huge leap and was gone. :( My big buck... Sob. LJ tells me I did the right thing, as bad as I wanted that buck, trying to make sure I had a clear and clean shot. I know I was right to not risk a bad shot, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I hope to see him again this season, but won't get my hopes up too high. Maybe next year...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Off to butcher

These guys went off to butcher today. I had to work and couldn't be there, but LJ promised to take lots of pics. We've really enjoyed having these guys around over the last few months, and feel that we gave them a pretty good life. They had woods to root and play and sleep in, a muddy wallow that LJ dug for them (which they enjoyed immensely), and lots of sunshine and treats. We've already grass seeded the area around the wallow that they had reduced to dirt, and the pigs have trampled in the seed over the last couple days. I'm sad to see them go, but I'm also looking forward to ham, bacon, tenderloin, and more from pigs that had a happy life. :)

The mobile slaughter guy came out to the house this morning. He was apparently really impressed with our pig pen (about 1/3 acre or so of woods) where they could root and frolic (yes, pigs really do frolic). He said it really showed in the pork, and that for such large pigs (Pretty sure they were well over 300lbs), they were tight and lean and not as fatty as he'd expect them to be at that size. Best part? He said that they were probably the best hogs he'd done all year! :) How cool is that?! Considering that this guy was booked nearly a month out when we called to make a slaughter appt. and was recommended by our butcher, I'm going to take that as a big fat compliment. Woohoo! Can't wait to get the meat back from the butcher!

I'll see what sort of pics LJ got, and try to post on the slaughter process this weekend.

Hope everyone's having a great week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm gonna miss (most of) our turkeys

They are such handsome (stinky) boys. Friendly birds, they always have an eye on us when we're outside, and they come struttin up when we go out to the pen. They make all sorts of interesting sounds/calls, and will gobble back at you if you gobble at them. I especially like hearing them drum. Silly showoff boys. While I'm probably gonna jump up and down, applaud, AND cheer when the heritage birds go in the freezer (stupid, getting out all the time, breaking the chicken run heritage jerks), I'm going to be sad when we butcher the broad breasted boys.

Aren't they handsome?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sneaky sneaky chickens

Little Goldy, cornered outside the pen. Dunderhead the rooster looks on, waiting to attack me for daring to harass one of his ladies.

So, we have two habitual escapees. An ameraucana and a maran. They jump the fence (4' netting, with both their wings clipped). The maran isn't as graceful as my little goldy ameraucana, and often fails to completely clear the fence... Her feet catch, and she somersaults over... And lands on her head. One big ball of feathery coordination.

One of the buffs likes to lay an egg each day under the ferns in their pen, instead of the nest boxes. So, we figured it might be a good idea to look around and see whether the escapees were doing the same. Oh yeah. They were. We found the ameraucana nest, with two pretty little green eggs in it. The maran nest was well hidden under ferns and blackberries. It is pretty deep, and she'd taken the time to line it with feathers and leaves. In her nest, we found a DOZEN eggs. I think she knew we'd found her secret hidey hole, because today, her egg was way on the other side of the yard... In the ameraucana's nest. :) Sneaky sneaky chicken...

The maran's nest

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Still alive, and goats are GONE!!

Lana, I'm still alive, and appreciate your concern. :)

Goats are gone gone gone. We got rid of Lyle about a month and a half ago, as he kept jumping the fence. Annnnnd, he ate a couple of my fruit trees. Just about a week ago, Cletus, my favorite goat, learned that he could walk over the electric netting. Then he taught the other three his neat trick. $200 worth of new fruit trees were destroyed. $&@&&$@!!!!! Very very angry owners. Like, "can we just shoot them" angry. So, I posted free goats on craigslist tonight. Within 1 hr of posting, they were gone. A nice gal about 10 minutes from us came and took them. She's a local 4H leader, and definitely knew her stuff.

The goats did a great job for us. They could clear 1/3 acre of brush and blackberries in less than 10 days. I'd rather have my fruit trees, though we're gonna have to pull out 7-10 trees and replant. :(

Problem animals don't have a place here. We're probably gonna butcher the two heritage turkeys tomorrow for that very reason. Though their wings are clipped, they keep getting on the chicken run, and have collapsed a couple sections. It's all a learning experience, eh?

Anyhoo, still lots of work to do. Will try to check in. Gotta tell about bird butchering, pig butchering (soon), eggs, garden, and more. Hope everyone is doing well!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Too freakin busy

I am finally admitting to myself that I've got too much going on right now. Summer is finally here, and passing all too fast. We're desperately trying to get outside projects done before the returning rains put us in lockdown. We finally got the house mostly painted yesterday (finishing the second coat today, thank god for our paint sprayer). We gave up on the garden, the weeds got out of control, and then the garden finally kicked into gear... So, there's a massive amount of weeding to do. The pigs need to go to butcher. Always a new goat pen for which we need to cut a fence line. The old house needs a bunch of work that has to be done while the weather's nice. I need to get the trim on the coop. And on and on. Busy busy! So, I'm taking a month or so break from blogging. Not like I post all that often anyway, but I do spend a lot of time reading all my favorite blogs. It also doesn't help that I can't find the camera. :) When our plate is a little less full, and the camera has shown itself again, I'll post the huckleberry recipe, the meat chicken processing, and maybe by then some info on sending the pigs off to butcher!

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our egg journal

Ok, posting this again, as apparently first one flubbed and wouldn't show up. Grrr... Blogger.

So, a couple days after the girls started laying I decided to keep an egg journal. I was at the gas station, talking to my mom about our first eggs, and remembered how my friend would keep track of his hotrod's mileage/gas usage in a little notebook so he could see the effects of changes he made to the car's engine, etc. I thought, why not keep one for the girls!

We keep a little 3x5 spiral notebook with our egg basket. Every day, we note down how many we collected, as well as anything unusual that we'd like to record. For example, odd egg sizes, shapes, shell condition, location, etc. Inside the cover of the notebook, I listed all our chickens (11 buffs, 1 barred rock, 4 ameraucanas, etc) and their approximate hatch dates.

Hopefully, this little notebook will be useful in tracking egg production, as well as problems. For example, if we're both collecting eggs, we may not be mentioning to each other that we're seeing the occasional weak shell. If we don't see a pattern (seeing them more often, for example), we wouldn't necessarily know that there was a problem to be treated. We'll see if this helps at all. For the moment, it's just fun to look at the slowly climbing numbers as more girls start laying! And, we'll be able to see how many eggs they produce vs feed costs, which would be interesting to see (we're not doing this yet. Perhaps after the first of the year).

Do you keep track of the eggs you collect?

Egg journal, 7/20 - today

7/20 1st egg, found on ground
7/21 2, 1 had weak shell and was broken
7/22 0
7/23 1
7/24 1
7/25 3
7/26 2, 1 cracked but thick shell, added shavings
7/27 3
7/28 4, 1 double yolk lg as store xl(2.3oz)
7/29 3
7/30 3
7/31 2
8/1 3, 1 sm (1.5oz), 2 xl(2.3,2.4)
8/2 5
8/3 6
8/4 6
8/5 5
8/6 10, 1 thin shell and broken
8/7 7, 5 before 11a, 1 very sm,dark,speckled
8/8 8
8/9 11
8/10 8
8/11 11, 1 was GREEN! (1st green egg!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mud bath!

I'm hoping to get the jelly recipe up this week, but I'm having trouble finding time to make a batch (and take pics) as LJ is working a bit of overtime this week, which means more chore time for me after work. Sooo, here's a pic of a happy pig instead. :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wild red huckleberries

Been picking huckleberries this weekend. We made jelly for the first time from berries we had picked over several days last week. Delicious, and we're really happy with our first ever jelly experience. It's a pain to pick a decent quantity, but these tart little jewels are sooo worth it. We found a huge bush today, and got 5 cups of berries off it (took us an hour to do so). I'm making another batch of jelly tomorrow, and will actually post a recipe for once, for anyone with the patience to pick these things. :) 8 cups of berries should give us 4 8-oz jars. Did I mention this stuff is extra yummy? I did? Ok. Just checking.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thought new layers laid small eggs...

Holy crap! Lookie what I pulled out of the nest box today! This egg is HUGE! This is it next to a grocery store extra large.

The girls gave us 4 eggs today. Looks like another girl started laying, as the most before this was 3. :)

*** So, having bought a digital scale today, we weighed the monster egg. It weighed in at 2.3oz, exact same weight as an extra large we plucked at random from the store egg carton. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Evening stroll, and a big surprise!

So, I got home from work last Friday afternoon, soooo very glad it was the weekend. I relaxed for a few with LJ on the back lawn, enjoying the sunshine and a beer. It was such a lovely evening, LJ suggested we take Henry for a walk on one of the old logging roads. So we headed out, happy pup tugging us along.

We came around a corner, and LJ pointed up at one of the hills. Standing there, nearly invisible against the brush and grass, stood twin fawns. They watched us as we walked around the hill. Henry was oblivious, more interested in scenting the trail. Unfortunately, the deer were too far away to snap a pic. Very neat sight, though.

Such a pretty walk!

We continued into the hills, and I started to get a bit tired. Lots of uphill! LJ pushed me on, telling me that we only had a little farther to go to get to the top of the hill. Henry seemed to agree, and dragged us ever higher.

We finally reached the top and walked out on an old log landing to view the lovely sunset. I saw LJ reach into his pocket, and didn't think much of it, until he turned to me, told me how much he loved me, and got down on one knee...

5 years and nine months to the day from our first date, I got engaged to the best man ever! :)

Perfect man, perfect ring, perfect setting, perfect evening! Now, to plan the wedding... Woooooohooooo!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My dog killed a skunk... Warning... Dead skunk pic.

Yep. Henry got his first skunk last night, about 100' from the turkey pen. He was just protecting the livestock, right? Riiiiight... He bounded off into the bushes, leaping around like a fox hunting in the snow. Next thing I know, he's wiping his face in the grass. Yuck. It was a young skunk, and Henry appeared to have killed it with little to no resistance. Luckily, he hadn't gotten bitten, and is up to date on his rabies shots. Skunk appeared healthy (other than the whole being dead part).

So, I got to stay up late, washing skunk stank off my dog. The miracle mixture? A bottle of peroxide, a heaping 1/4 cup of baking soda, and a good squirt of dish soap. Mixed it all together, lathered him up, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Took the stink away like magic! Luckily, it didn't really get his face, just his neck. I think he hated the bath more than the spray. Lol. Poor kid. No... Poor me. After washing the stinky pup, I got to go out and cut the head off the skunk with a shovel. See, when I was a kid, rabies was a terrifying thing. More than once, one of the dogs got a skunk. We would have to quarantine the dog while the vermin was tested. I cut the head off so the brain could be tested if necessary. Quadruple bagged it and popped it in the shop freezer, as the brain apparently decomposes pretty fast. I was up until nearly midnight... Ugh. Turns out not necessary. I called our vet this morning, and they said don't worry about it, since Henry is up to date on shots and wasn't bitten. Just need to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't react badly to the spray. I guess some dogs have severe reactions. So much for my paranoia. Anyhow, at least that little skunk won't be developing a taste for poultry, eh?

The cherry on top? Henry went and rolled in the spray this afternoon, and I got to wash him again... Oh joy! :)

(This post gets a LOT of hits. Leave a comment if you have a moment! :) I would love to hear if the peroxide mixture worked for you, or hear your dog vs skunk story.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

First egg!!!!!!

21 weeks, and one of the buff girls gave us a beautiful little egg! They've been doing the "egg squat" and cackling like maniacs for about a week, and we were sure they were close. Woooohoooooo!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Something's eating my onions...

Something is eating the tops off my onions. I've lost about 5' on two different rows. I bent some scrap fencing to make a row cover. Came out to find another couple feet chewed down. Grrrr. Must be either rabbits or the "mythical" mountain beaver. I say mythical, as I haven't seen one yet. LJ has seen them several times. He says, "They only show themselves if you TRULY believe." lol. Anyhoo, added some extra barriers today. Stupid animals.

Had to re-clip the wings of the Rio and Palm turkeys today. Came home to both of them on top of the chicken run. Would have been pretty entertaining to anyone watching, as I biffed it twice trying to catch those stupid birds. Those little turkeys are hard to catch. The broad breasted whites and bronze come running TO me when I go out to the turkey pen, and they beg for grass. The little ones though... they are going to be extra tasty, flavored with "can't wait until we process them." lol.

I've got the next 5 days off between weekend and vacation days, and I'm looking forward to a fantastic visit with my mom. I have a birthday present for her... An early printing (not first edition, alas) hardback copy of Clan of the Cave Bear, inscribed to my mom for her birthday by Jean Auel. I think this is going to be one of those presents that make Mom tear up. I've only achieved that once before. Sign of the perfect gift. :)

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beautiful evening!

Perfect temperature, and a clear sky.

Weighed one of the Cornish X chickens yesterday, an average sized pullet, and she weighed in at a little over 7 lbs. Sweet! Two weeks to go...

Been really busy, prepping for Mom's visit. Still lots to do!

Hope everyone had a great 4th!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Our little straw spreaders

I learned today that our chickens will spread straw for us. Good chickens. We cleaned out the coop today, and put linoleum down on the floor of the coop, trying to extend the life of the floor. I raked the chicken run and yard, and we tossed down a couple flakes of straw. We hadn't spread the straw, because we got distracted. Later, we went out to find the girls taking care of it for us, scratching away at the straw piles. Again, good chickens.

The meat chickens are getting huge, and we're restricting their food, trying to take them out to the weekend after next. Mom is coming to visit this next weekend, and I don't think she wants to take part in the processing. If we process weekend after next, that will be at 10 weeks. Should work, as they're all still getting around just fine, fat and sassy. We've been restricting food for the last two weeks. We only give them access between about 6am and 5pm. They are awfully friendly, and I try to ignore it, knowing that they will be in the freezer soon.

We moved the goat pen, which we should have done two weeks ago. These guys are nuts, stripping vegetation in record time. I've made a flyer to advertise Lyle. We need to go put it up at local feed stores.

Anyhoo, lots to do before Mom comes next weekend. Hope everyone has a safe and fun 4th!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

His first crow, and it was pathetic

Yes, gimpy roo finally crowed. Long since over his limp, he's still a little slow. Yesterday, he finally crowed, and it was one of the most pathetic things I'd ever heard. But, at least he tried!

This morning, as I was feeding the geese and filling waters before work, I heard gimpy-roo practicing in the coop. All the ladies were out in the yard, enjoying the morning scratch, and gimpy was in the coop all by himself, singing his heart out. It was pretty bad, sort of like a rooster being throttled while trying to imitate a cat in heat. I laughed until I cried. After a few minutes of early morning serenade, our bossiest buff lady was fed up with gimpy's antics. She turned to face the coop and cackled at him loudly a couple times. When that didn't stop him, she left the yard at a run, and scrambled up the ramp and into the coop, cackling at the top of her voice. Next, I heard a crash and a couple outraged squawks, and miss bossy calmly hopped out of the coop and returned to her breakfast. A couple moments later, gimpy followed. Apparently, she'd informed him that enough was enough, and breakfast was on the ground. Poor gimpy...

Farm updates... Probably not going to be posting much over the next two weeks, as Mom is coming to visit, and we have a LOT to do before she gets here. So, quick updates, and I'll hopefully be able to squeeze a couple posts in later to explain more.

Birds- I finally made a new door to the coop and a new ramp, and hope to get a window installed next weekend.

We lost a turkey poult last week. Whatever killed it didn't eat it. The bite on its neck looked like it was from rodent incisors. My best guess is that a squirrel or something was raiding the food and lashed out at the poult when it investigated the trespasser. It was one of our two bronzes. :(

Goats- the goats stripped their pen in two weeks. We're hoping to get them moved to a new impenetrably thick brush zone this week. Nuts! Lyle will likely be rehomed, as he keeps jumping into the pig pen to steal food, and is pretty mean to the other goats (especially poor Snowy). We don't want to have to build a fortress every time we move the fencing, so Lyle needs to go.

Pigs- they still think they're goats. They've started pushing down saplings so they can strip the leaves off. I swear they learned it from the goats. Good pigs.

That's about it for the moment. Hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rainy weekend, critter updates, babydoll sheep

What a crummy weekend, weather-wise! We made the most of it, but what I would give for some flippin sunshine!

Saturday morning we went shopping. Work clothes, critter food, and other supplies. We even managed a quick stop at the gun shop where I drooled over various shotguns and a s&w 642 airweight. Drooooool... I did my best to not actually drool ON them, but it was a close thing. :)

We got a shelter up for the goats, and they're actually using it. (just a tarp suspended between trees with straw underneath, but it works for summer).

The pigs think that they are goats. We've been chopping down branches and saplings for the goats, and we threw one in the pig pen just for the heck of it. Holy cow. The pigs went nuts. Spinning, squealing, headbutting, piggle antics. They stripped the branch of leaves, and enjoyed every last moment of it. I even saw Spot gingerly pulling leaves off of a blackberry vine and eating them. WTH? Yeah, they eat new shoots and root up the root balls, but tree and blackberry leaves? I could swear the pigs learned this behavior from the goats, with whom they share a fence. Especially since they just started this within a week of getting their new neighbors. Weird...

The turkeys are finally outside, since it is supposed to get pretty warm this week, and they would have overheated in the shop. We clipped their wings, and put them out in their new pen yesterday before going to a Father's Day BBQ. When we got home after dark, we checked on them and found that they had eaten quite a bit from their new feeder (a PVC feeder like we made for the chickens), and they had drank quite a bit of water from their nipple waterer. Score! We did have to go out and move the sleepy little birds under their shelter, but they seem to be doing just fine otherwise. Sure are funny birds, and they have so many different calls. It is fun getting them to talk back to you. :)

For Father's Day, we went to LJ's step-sister's place for a BBQ. We had a great time, good food, and lots of play time with their three dogs. And then we got to go see their 3 babydoll sheep... OhmygodIwantalittlebrownewokbabydollsheep! Her little black sheep, sun faded to orangy brown was the cutest thing I've ever seen. I, no joke, had a 5 minute giggle fit over his little chunky monkey ewok-like face. If only we had pasture, I would get a whole mess of them. Holy cow, they were CUTE!

Anyhoo, LJ is on a short time schedule change, and we'll probably be too busy for me to get on much over the next few days. I'll try to get some more pics up soon (turkeys maybe?) but no promises. Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our new goats, the blackberry destroyers!

Alrighty.  We finally have goats to help us tame our blackberry and scotchbroom infested property.  Holy cow, they really mow them down! Background story on the goats... One of LJ's friends had a friend that lost their farm.  LJ's friend took in their goats, 2 does and 3 wethers.  He didn't really need goats, and intended to rehome them when he found a suitable place.  We bought a big property with lots of good goat candy (blackberry bushes) and LJ wanted goats.  Thus, we now have 5 goats.

Here are the new mowers.  They came with names, not all of which we kept.  Doesn't really matter, as they don't know their names anyway.  I'd appreciate any help in identifying the breeds...

This is Snowy.  I think she's 5 yrs old.  Boer cross?

This is Macey.  She's 4, and one of the triplets.

This is Cletus (LJ picked the name, saying he looks like a Cletus with his wonky horn). He is the second of the triplets.

Last of the triplets is this guy.  LJ wants to name him Bubba, but I don't agree.  For now, he's nameless.

Finally, this is Pinto, aka "Old Man", aka "Lyle".  I think Lyle will be the one that sticks.  As long as he's over his urge to escape, he'll get to stay. As far as breed id, Toggenburg?

They're sure having fun in their new pen.  Lots of blackberries, scotch broom, and low hanging tree branches. :)   I'll try to get more pics up as soon as we get some sun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Icky chickies and the chicken tractor

Goat pics soon, I promise.  The escaping goat did not attempt escape yesterday, so maybe he can stay.

The icky chickies are finally out in their chicken tractor, dubbed the "chicken conestoga" by LJ.  It's still a little cool at night, so we've got a heat lamp in there for the evenings.  The feeder is set up so we can raise it in order to restrict their food a bit.  Otherwise they'd lie around the feeder, eating day and night.  Piggies!

We're pretty happy with how it came out, and it wasn't too expensive to build. At least the chicks seem happy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Goats, icky chickies, quick update

Goats were delivered yesterday. 5 of them. Not sure what the breeds are, but they were free, and they have already done some serious damage to the blackberries and thistles. Woohoo! 2 does, 3 wethers. Only one wether is polled, and he may need to be rehomed somewhere else this week (today or tomorrow, preferably), as he is the size of a small pony and can clear a nearly 5' fence. The others are fine. The big boy is the only problem goat. I don't want him to teach the others to escape. He jumps the fence, even though he gets the bejeezus shocked out of him. All the others respect the fence. LJ wants to give him a couple days, but I need that goat to go away. Especially with lots of baby fruit trees, blueberries, and my garden at risk. Stressing me out. I really don't like problem animals...

Icky chickies are out in the chicken conestoga. They seem to be enjoying the forage and freedom. Now that they have room to run, they are having baby chicken battles. Pretty entertaining. At least they are getting some exercise. :)

I'll try to get pics up this week. Happy Monday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blossoms, fruit, and shoots

All the plants are really enjoying the warmer weather we've had over the last week.  Here's a bit of what we've got growing.  Happy Friday, all!

Strawberries are starting to color up.

Little apples are forming on the old apple tree and both of the columnars.

Some of the beans are up...

And some are still trying.

Some baby peppers are forming.

My thornless blackberry is starting to bloom.  This was a gift from a dear friend who passed away a little more than a year ago.  I also have one started directly from his own thornless, and a couple grandbabies of that baby.  I remember my friend fondly every time I see these.

Blueberries are still blooming.

Chives are tasty AND pretty!

Currants are doing well in their new home.

Hops are growing rapidly.

This lavender was here when we moved in, and has come back from the dead with a little bit of care.

LJ's potatoes are peeking above the soil.

And we may get a few raspberries this year.  Woohoo!

We're going to finish up the icky chicky's chicken tractor this weekend, and I'll try to post pics next week.  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!