Here in The Good Land I made my place beside the still waters. I became a tiller of the soil, a keeper of the flocks, and a hater of pigs.
Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.
She's out! Mrs. Dowlrimple took her chicks out on walkabout this morning. Just a short trip out to get a few bugs and to see The Whole Wide World.
Small chicks in a big world
Getting them back in the brooder is like herding bugs. They are so small! But see that they are starting to get their little wings feathers. We'll have to play musical brooders soon.... we are making progress convincing Runner that she is a TURKEY and should be with the other turks...and not with her chicks which are mostly grown.
I need to get some Farm Notes in so I don't forget....:
* Bramble laid an egg! And Turkey Momma has about 5 or 6 in a good nest. We are so relieved. Here's hoping for some late summer/early fall turkey hatches. Whew! We feel better now about dressing the jakes earlier than we may have done if we didn't need the space.
* BTW, we had a turkey breast over taters yesterday and it was fabulous. I've got stock going on the stove and am about to part up the rest of them.
* Our other setting hen, I think she is going to become Mrs. Beezley, seems to be doing OK. She must be due to hatch next week. I'm not sure if the eggs are any good because of all the broody hen battles. I'll take her up if nothing happens.
* Bianca The Sweet Little White Duck, or Pig Pen, as we are calling her is making a nice nest in the garage. At least we can keep an eye on her.
* The geese took the goslings down to the pond yesterday! I missed the whole thing... My hubby said the adults formed a tight knot around the little ones and kept them in the center. On a funny note, Penny - who is pretty wonky - kinda just swims in circles. We love her. Penny has a funny wing and a bad leg so when she paddles, she just spins around. What a gal!
The key piece of news that I need to remember is that I started 5 or 6 flats of seeds. I'm really riding the line as far as "too late" goes for some of the squash. I'm just inside the "90 days till first frost" for our region but I'm hoping that this late planting will defeat the evil squash bugs. I also started some other things - greens and leeks that can take a frost so hopefully I'll get a second growing season in as John Jeavons suggests in his wonderful book, "How to grow more vegetables....." and also on his site here.
I have this funny idea that, in my free time, I'll actually be able to build a couple of hoop houses and use them as late season greenhouses this fall/winter and then as brooders in the spring. In my free time... ha ha ha ha every time I say it I laugh.
Its still be unmercifully hot and muggy. Dog #1 knows how to cool off:
Lets talk pork, friend! We'll kick of this series with the basics of where you get your pigs.
Aren't pigs cute? NOT!
The first step of pig hating.. I mean, pig raising is going to get your pig. This is where the hating truly starts. Sure they are kinda cute all piggin' around in the pen like that....
Sure they look cute in the pen...
So you hand over your foldin' money, and the farmer places that little piggy bundle in your arms and.... it screams bloody murder. Horrible, awful, blood curdling screaming. And it won't stop. Welcome to pig keeping. Day One is when the hatin' starts. Sheesh!
So, where do you get a pig ?
By now you've taken my advice and befriended someone with kids in 4H, right? They are your best lead into the seedy pig underworld. Actually they just probably know someone who raises hogs for fair projects, and if you are lucky they have some "not quite up to show quality" pigs. As long as they are healthy, might as well get one with a funny eye or weird coloring. For "one season" pigs there's no sense getting anything that is registered.
As far as what breed? You probably don't have to over think it... do your research on the basics of breeds and lean toward what is locally available. If someone has a business raising pigs nearby, then more than likely that breed is going to do well for your region. Remember, you don't want to get into the business of breeding pigs - this is just to raise them up, feed them out, then send them to the freezer.
You can also check craigslist - look for "feeder pigs." Sometimes they are called "weaner" pigs - meaning they will be weaned when you get them. Not wiener pigs, as in Oscar Meyer, that comes later.
Or you can go to the livestock auction. Me, I'm bad at the auction seein' as how I usually talk with my hands and occasionally get carried away with the whole show. Its a fact that I bought those guineas, never having asked if they were male or female, how old they were... and I very likely was bidding against the guy who brought them to sell. So, we don't go to auctions. But luckily I know someone who does. And so should you.
How much should you pay for feeder pigs? Well that depends on where you live, of course. Around here it seems that $50 is about a fair price. However, this year pigs were in short supply and in such high demand that we really couldn't find them for less than $75. Early in the spring I had been warned that the pigs were going fast but I wasn't quick enough to get any pigs from our connections. There's a guy one town over who raises Hereford, Tamworths, and crosses of the two. He was completely sold out and still won't have any until later in August!
So we were glad that The Farm Master, and my pal, Bourbon Red went to the local auction and got some spares.
How big should the feeder pigs be? SMALL. Especially if you are new to hog raising. Get them young so your experience can grow with them.
All kidding aside, hogs can be big, mean, destructive, and dangerous. I saw a gal who thought that getting a 150 pound hog would be a good idea for her family - and they had never had livestock before. Almost before she could ask the question all the hog farmers descended on her and gave her the strong recommendation that getting a large pig is just a bad idea. I'm not sure if she heeded our warning or not - but no one (but her) will be surprised when she comes around with a story about how that hog got loose, killed her chickens, chased her kids, and then demolished the yard.
Killed chickens? Chased children? Say it ain't so - not Wilbur? Yep.
It might have started with with Charlotte's Web, but them pigs have themselves so awfully good marketing. Mostly what I hear (from people who don't have livestock) is that pigs are really smart, cuddly, and sooooo cute.
Sure I've seen the video of the pig that rounds up cows, but honestly, I don't think he was rounding them up to be helpful. I think he was wanting burgers. And you might have fond memories of scratching the belly of that widdy piggy wiggy down on your grandfather's farm. But what you probably don't remember is that Granddad never went into the hog pasture alone, always carried a shock stick, and never ever allowed you kids to go near the hogs alone. Ever. Older hog farmers will maintain strict safety standards and take them very seriously.
As far as being smart... we don't see it. Even my littlest hen comes when called, knows how to escape out of anything, and can figure out how to get the food she really wants. Heck, even the ducks can do that.
Of all the hooey I hear about pigs, one thing is for sure: Pigs are NOT just like dogs.
Here is the truth - if I fell down in the yard my dogs (after they figure out I wasn't just playing) would lay down beside me and wait for my husband to come home. If he couldn't find me, he say "where's momma" and the dogs would lead him to me.
If I fell down in the hog yard, the pigs would eat me.
Its true. My pal, FF, recently reminded us that more people are killed in the US and Canada by PIGS than worldwide by sharks. Kinda makes you wanna look funny at that pig, Babe, doesn't it?
But..but.. what about pot bellied pigs? Well, them's just small cuts of pork on stubby little legs. And a lot of those PBB's end up in shelters or abandon. Sure they are cute when they are just a handful, but a 300 pound pig in your apartment just isn't that funny.
Before you run right out and get pigs, be strongly warned: Hogs can be big, mean, destructive, and dangerous. And the stink. Bad.
So, if these pigs are so objectionable... why do we do it? For the bacon, baby....
and the ham.....
and the chops...
and done right, you can raise pigs up cheaply and feed your family for a tremendous value.
Still with me on the pigs? Stay tuned, lets talk about the pork-math next...how raising pigs can save you some real money - and get you the best eating around.
Note: Thanks to Mr. H for his patience with my fading-fast-technical-ability (its hard to believe I used to work in high tech....)
Does everyone know Mr. H. and his spectacular blog?:http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/
Go check him out - great gardening info for you in the northern climate.
our King of Barncats, Shine, hanging out in the front garden.
Tons happening. Yesterday (Monday) we dressed the 4 remaining jakes/young tom turkeys. We really whipped them out fast - about 30 minutes each and that was at a very leisurely pace. They are resting in our extra cold beer fridge for a couple days then I'll part them up like I did here.
These jakes were smaller than those huge monsters we did earlier in the spring. But good size - especially for us. We probably could had waited on the jakes so they'd be a bit heavier. But really the 3 we dressed earlier this year were monsters and it was kind of a fight to take them down. As it were. If you know what I mean. Ahem. Anyway.
And we didn't want to wait any longer because we really needed to clear out the "Bachelor Coop." We need the space for our ladies. Between Foxy Brown taking her toll and the disastrous hatches this spring.....we are hoping for some fall clutches.
Turkey Momma is already laying... and our poor Bramble will probably be off for a while. She is still recovering from her injury and we don't want to risk her being out in the weeds again. We think we'll put her and Turkey Bob in there with her for you know, a little, you know... l'amore. Plus he needs to stop roosting in the chicken house - for heavens sakes he's HUGE!
We started with 17 turks this fall/winter and now we only have TZ and Turkey Bob as our toms... Runner, Turkey Momma, and Bramble as our mature hens...and 2 more younger hens. And then 3 remaining poults.
Thats our turkey word.
In other farm notes:
* FINALLY! The heat broke and today was just like heaven. Still hot but no humidity. I slept on a chair on the deck this afternoon...shhhh... Sloth. Sometimes its good.
* We finally caught Miss Duck off her nest and raided it.. we are leaving her 4 eggs. She'll be made but for heaven's sakes how many ducklings can you have?! Answer: many!
* Mrs. Dowlrimple finally left the brooder! She, very orderly, showed the chicks how to walk out the brooder door, where to peck around, to stay all together.. then made a mad dash outside! Oh the flapping! Oh the springing about! She was like a wild man. Then took a big poop....and calmly walked back inside. Honestly, these chickens... they are hilarious. We'll see about getting the chicks outside tomorrow. Mrs. Dowlrimple, for all her antics, still really needs a dust bath and to eat something besides bagged food.
* Runner, the turkey hen, hopped up on the milk stand this morning, put her head thru the stocks.. and started eating the feed. I don't think she wanted to be milked tho - just wanted the eats.
* As soon as Bianca got up from her nest, beside the milkstand, she toddled over and stamped her little foot. So I adjusted the milk bucket so she could get a little sip. Satisfied, she toddled off. I love her.
More weeding tomorrow but tonite I dream of turkey! Roast turkey, turkey tetrazzini, turkey pot pie, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup....
Note: yikes! Um.. so I need to learn to work WITH the technology...sorry if you got pinged... I've queued up a post for tomorrow.
What could be better? Oh yeah.. it was a free... yep, makes it even better!
Finally! The tomatoes are coming on and today was the first egg and tomato sandwich, on home made bread - totally delicious. I just love summer food - especially every meal we can get out of the yard.
Every "free" meal is a blessing and we are so glad not to have to buy groceries. Today all of our meals are free including this yummy sandwich, the roast and taters I fixed early in the day so I wouldn't have to heat up the house later, and a wonderful bread/tomato/veggie salad. And we are snacking on the things I baked earlier in the week. I'm hoping to keep the oven off for a day or two because its HOT!
Holy heat index, batman! The local weather says our heat index hit 100* today, thank heaven we have a windy day or we'd all be cooked.
We've been making the rounds every hour or two giving everyone fresh water and such. No casualties, but I had to move the Salmon Faverolle chicks out of the hen house and into a cage in the cool grass. They were peeping miserably. They seemed happy in the grass and I'll be relieved when they are big enough to be out roaming around. These chicks are too small to be with the big hens - who have gone after them every time we've run them from the day coop to their night coop. We need to make sure they are at least, sort of, kinda, nearly the same size before we turn them out to free range.
Of course, if they had a momma she would protect them from the other hens. I keep wondering if Runner, the turkey hen, will take them as she is a great defender of her chicks. Runner and Little Pansy (our lead rooster) were fighting like cats and dogs yesterday. Runner poofed all up and displayed her tail, and LP got low and fluffed out his mane. They flew at each other, talons up, and then chased each other around the yard... until, that is, I got The Enforcers (the dogs) out there. Then they had a common enemy and ran in different directions. I'm telling you folks, its always something out there.
The newest chicks are doing well - and with the weather being so hot they are really vigorous because they don't have to keep warm under Mrs. Dowlrimple. I think they are the only ones who are happy in the heat. She still won't take them out yet. I tried again today to get her out of the brooder coop but she wasn't having anything to do with it. I'll try again tomorrow before the rest of The Insane Hen Posse is let out.
Quick farm notes:
* Maters are coming on in a few varieties. Remind me NOT to let the 'paste' tomatoes go to seed in the hillside garden. They are just too seedy.
* The first sunflowers have lowered their heads and the little flitty birds are eating all the seeds. I'll need to "bag 'em" or just take them up. It seems early but everything is hurrying right along this summer.
* That ridiculous hen.. make that... those two ridiculous hens are tightly set on "nests" in the layer boxes. Each had a few eggs under - at this point I might as well just let them set there. Fats ran one of them off her nest so who knows what's going on. I gave Fats the boot and put the broody back.
* Bianca, or Pig Pen as we are about to call her, won't keep a nest in one place. I'll need to start locking her down in the morning. Silly duck. In fact, they are all nuts right now. They are all hanging around the hen house and yesterday Miss Puddles tried to have an egg! She is still brooding her clutch, for heavens sakes! I'm giving up this summer on trying to keep any sense of order - everyone is nuts. Silly ducks!
* The weeds are doing great! But at least they will be a lot of free food for the goaties.. so there is that.
* Goaties like the new hay much better and milk production is back up - but certainly not to this spring's levels. I contacted the breeder for Vita.. we'll see when he wants her.
* Peaches at the local orchard are going like hotcakes. They've been selling out before noon - need to remember to get up there on Monday.
I had to apologize to the company we had visiting for being to "carb-y"... but a bad combination of heat, recovering from the sickness (thanks, civilization), and now dealing with "the cure being worse than the sickness" (thanks, prescription drugs)..its all left me a little whoozy and the only thing I want to eat are baked goods. So when I had a few minutes and a bowl of leftover blackberries from the crisp lookin' at me... well, what else could I do but bust these out:
Best scones ever.
My recipe notebook says these are from Martha Stewart in 2003... thanks, Mar! Original recipe was for blueberry scones, but I just used the fresh blackberries and left out the lemon.
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3 Tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops
* 1 Tablespoon baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, I used my cheese grater to shred
* 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten ** I used duck eggs
Heat oven to 400*
Sift together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter and gently stir in berries (and zest). Turn out on a clean work surface (I have a marble top table).
Mix together cream and eggs in a liquid measuring cup. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, pour in cream mixture, and use a fork to incorporate...then use a pastry scraper to mix just until it comes together. But don't squish the berries.
Pat dough into a 6-inch square and cut into 4 squares, then cut on the diagonal so you have 8 scones.
Brush with cream, then sprinkle with sugar and bake at 400* for about 20 - 22 minutes.
We had these with butter I made by shaking cream in a jar. Fabulous.
After chores we had a scramble with eggs, the first cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and fresh herbs. We waved good bye and were so glad to have such good company.
Now.... which one of you was loud mouthin' on and on about peaches and Jersey cream?? Oh that's right... you know who you are.
Back atcha with blackberry crisp and shaken-not-whipped Jersey cream... that's what I'm talking about. (BTW - tell Daisy that her best friend and true owner loves and misses her very much.)
Company is coming!
We have buttermilk pie, berry crisp , 2 loaves of bread, and foccacia bread with fixin's from the garden:
And I made some fresh goat cheese with fresh herbs. They'd better get here quick or we'll just start eating!
While I was making my pie crust I realized what a goof I was being. I keep the lard frozen and instead of fighting with it this time trying to cut it up.... I just shredded the frozen lard with my cheese grater. A great way to uniformly cut the lard and butter into the flour....and avoid a lard inflicted injury.
Now if I can get this kitchen cleaned up we'll be ready for company.
Quite possibly the most beautiful clutch of chicks we've ever had... Thanks Mrs. Dowlrimple!
This barred rock sat thru the hottest days, face into the wind from the fan, determined to hatch.
There are 9 lovely little chicks - several barred rock mutts, a couple all blacks, and some absolutely stunning babies with coloring I have not seen before. Just like this chestnut beauty here:
You can barely see that she has tufted ears, clean legs, and is a perfect little puff ball.
And look who is so big!
Our inside Meeps - who are now the outside Meeps... are growing like weeds. They finally moved out of their cage in the basement and are outside in a brooder coop in the turkey house at night. We call them DB (Dark Beak) and Little G. The other geese - OD and his crew - still don't show any interest in them, but we keep these little loves in the fenced front garden and out of harms way. They spend the day eating grass and splashing around in their tub. We'll move them up to a kiddie pool soon. Remember when they were so little!?!?
All of the little goslings are starting to get their first feathers - and they have some heft when you pick them up. DB still loves to snuggle - and he has so much personality. We say "he" because he seems bigger and much taller than the others. However, I can't tell males from females by "vent sexing" them - so we go by behavior and size. They sure are cute. Still no explanation why DB has a dark beak and dark feet....when none of the other geese do. Humm... Penny, you might have some explanin' to do......
Farm Notes: (wow this has been a while!)
* The heat is ON... our hot weather has continued and is causing all kinds of problems. The cycle of hot and wet and hot and wet is great for the weeds.... and to get on my last nerve. The gardens need to dry out as everything is soggy and the blight has set in on the tomatoes.
* I have battling broodies right now - one of the Banty hens vs another barred rock. They have been fighting over a clutch of eggs...and the eggs are loosing. I moved Mrs. Dowlrimple and the new babies into the center brooder....and put the other barred rock in her place. I hope she sits back down. Nothing but chaos in the laying boxes....and those ladies are hiding their eggs.
* I was off farm for a while last week - and came home with a nasty sickness (thanks "civilization") so now I'm about two weeks behind. Everything has been growing like weeds - including the weeds and I've had to abandon the idea of getting a few more beds in. Now I need to get busy and start fall produce seeds.
* The potatoes are doing great! We'll dig some as needed and leave some in the ground to cure for storage later. Also the pumpkins are taking over that hillside and will be spilling over into the potato beds soon.
* The squash bugs have been on a rampage - but not doing as much damage as before. We've had some losses - but may have managed to save PumkinZilla. I'll harvest what I can and then rip out what is hopeless. We spent some time taking off leaves that had those stupid copper colored eggs on them - and burned them. Hopefully we'll stem the tide of new squash bugs. The guineas seem to be doing alright.
* The goats are starting to come off their peak milk production. We got some better, more alfalfa-y hay. That has helped. We also need to wean Ginger completely off Debbie.
* Hens are also off their peak production. The heat stresses them .... and they don't lay as much. And... like I said, they are hiding the eggs. I found a huge clutch in the garage.
* Ducks, ducks, and more ducks. Miss Puddles' babies are doing great. When I left they were the size of golf balls... now they look like ducklings. She seems to be doing better - and not going down to the pond and leaving the little ones in a heap by the duck garage! The other lady ducks are laying so I'm getting several eggs a day. Oh the custards they make! And just a joy for baking.
* Bramble, our second best turkey hen, has a terrible wound under her wing. Since she likes to lay in the brambles (hence the name) we think Foxy Brown got her. Thankfully she escaped but not without being scalped on one side tho. She is cooling her heels in the bachelor coop -- the first cool day we get those jakes are getting the axe -- so she'll have the place to herself and we hope she'll start another nest.
* Runner, the turkey hen, and The Kindergarten are a hoot. Runner has taken to chasing the guineas.... and also Little Nibbles! When I open the gate to let Nibbles up to milk, Runner makes a mad bee-line and chases her off. The dogs think this is hilarious.
That's all the news that is fit to print. Happy Summer everyone!
Whoot! I love me some fresh new potatoes. For the longest time I couldn't figure out the difference between new potatoes and regular "old" potatoes... but here it is: New potatoes are fresh from the ground and haven't been "cured" to store. The curing process toughens up the skin. But the new potatoes have the thinnest skin and are just beautiful.
Want to know what we did with them? We roasted them in duck fat!
Hands down these are the best taters EVER. Recipe compliments of my buddy, Bourbon Red who served 'em up with roast duck.
We were lucky enough to get about 50 lbs of seed potatoes last fall for free! A buddy had them left over from his farm market. We had Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac, and regular old bakers. The mix of taters really added some zing to this dish.
Nothing is easier than planting potatoes. Just dig a shallow ditch, toss them in, water, then mulch well with clean straw. When the tops die out just grab your pitchfork and dig them out. Not only are you having a great time on a tater treasure hunt, but you are also turning the soil and prepping the bed for fall planting. What could be better than that!?!
Back to the dish...
Aren't they beautiful?
Clean and cut to uniform size. Set them to boil in a huge pot of cold water. Turn off the heat and leave them in the water while you finish up the rest of dinner.
Drain well then toss with salt, pepper, flour and....melted goose or duck fat. Oh... can you smell the heavenly aroma now? I just put my baking pan in the hot oven with the frozen duck fat, let it melt, then poured the hot fat over the taters in the same bowl I used to flour them. Then poured the whole shootin' match back on the hot baking pan... and back into the oven. Bake, all in one layer, in a hot oven for about 45 minutes or until crispy and delicious.
We served ours up with Greek-seasoned turkey stuffed zucchini boats. Everything from this meal came from our yard except the salt/pepper, shake of flour, and a little bit of cheese. Cost of goods for us to have 3 meals - about $0.50 total.
What's in your sink? Hopefully dinner. If not - get out there and get your supper! Happy tater time everyone!
As leggy as Ginger is, she seems a little thick for a dairy gal. We intentionally bred Debbie to the neighbor's Boer buck (the meat goat breed) thinking we'd have a little cabrito for the grill... but with her La Mancha face and long, thin legs, Ginger seemed sooo dairy when she was young we hoped that she'd be a good milker. Debbie, her momma, is an incredible milker so there is still a lot of hope. We'll breed her in the fall and hope for the best.
Unlike our other gals, who we bought polled, we let Ginger keep her horns. There is a lot of controversy about this horns vs no horns. But we figure that they are there for a reason so might keep them. So far the only one who's gotten stuck anywhere is Debbie - and she doesn't have horns! And there has never been any problems with her bullying any of the other ladies. As the youngest she is so far down on the pecking order that we don't think it will be a problem. And Little Nibbles is a spitfire so she won't be pushed around.
Ginger's brother, Gilligan, is a stunning 4H wether. He's headed for the show ring and with his broad chest and striking pose, he's sure to be a winner. Our county fair is in October and we are excited to see how he does.
This just in! Barnyard Tonite reports a salacious new scandal. Sources close to the barnyard report that OD, the gander, was involved in an affair with a DUCK....while his mate, Penny, set her nest!
Compromising pictures were anonymously sent to BYZ (BarnYard Zone) showing OD engaged in a romantic affair with Miss Dash! The two were seen canoodling by the gate but denied that they were there together.
But then these shocking photos revealed the truth:
We see OD leering at Dash by the turkeys while a shocked Daisy looks on.
A witness on the scene, Daisy, said they looked awfully cozy together. Representatives say these photos were Photoshopped and while both sides admit they were there at the same time, it was just a publicity stunt.
But neither side could account for these damning photos:
Like David admiring Bathsheba, who can deny that these two being "more than just friends."
Especially when leans in for a quick peck..
She pretends to bat him away...
"Stop it," she coyly said....than fluttered her eyelashes.
The shocked looks on these faces tell the truth - Dash is a home wrecker!
Ashamed, they realize they have been caught.
The hens are all a-cluck over this story condemning OD, new father of 8, who's marriage has previously been heralded as a model in the barnyard. Its clear he has been ruined. Sources close to the philandering gander say that he needs rehab as he clearly has an addiction...while those near Penny's camp say he just needs a good beating.
Runner, the turkey hen, tweeted her support to Penny and said that "The mate is always the last to know." While Miss Duck, who has previously been linked to OD, said "What did Penny think would happen? I mean, she got all fat while sitting on her nest - and that OD is a real gander."
Miss Duck seen here with OD, claims she is not a gold digger.
Its yet to be seen if Penny stands by her gander, but our polls clearly show that she should kick him to the curb.
Barnyard Poll: OD - keep or ditch:
Dump his cheatin' tail: 77%
And what of Miss Dash?
She says only that she wants "the truth to be known." But its been heavily rumored that she is being paid well over 2 full bags of corn to publish her tell-all book "Forbidden Love, a tale of Goose and Duck." She told reporters that she was approached by PlayDrake to do a centerfold, but she refused saying that she "has more class than that." It remains to be seen whether any love children will hatch out of this...this... dangerous liaison. Our sources say that Jerry Springer has been contacted to do DNA testing to prove who's the baby-daddy, just in case.
There is no word on whether there will be a custody hearing. For now the family has been holed up in the Goose House and have been keeping reporters at bay. They have been repeatedly swarmed by the paparazzi (the beez) and have pleaded for privacy in this difficult time.
I use an old mail box as a tool box for my garden tools.
I love having a place to put my tools where I work - especially for my far away gardens. Having all my tools in one place and out of the weather really works...and saves trips up and down the hill. If you are like me you already have two of most of your garden tools, anyway - so why not have a safe, weather proof place to put them? Plus its kinda cute to have a mail box by the garden gate.
Of course I can't take credit for this idea - I just can't remember where I saw it!
As your barista today I'll be serving you a goat-puccino:
Goat-puccino in a pint jar
Yikes! Did you spit out your $5 coffee drink? Sorry! But really, this is delish!
When I tell folks that we milk dairy goats they usually have the same, involuntary reaction... a sniffed up nose and an exclamation of: "eeeeuuuuwweee!" Then a pause.. then the questions: "What's it like? Is it goaty?"
Really - goat milk is as smooth, creamy, and delicious as the best cow's milk. While I prefer cream (from a lovely jersey gal) in my hot coffee, when I need a frozen coffee drink I head for the freezer for one of my half-full, already frozen pints of goat milk.
I make strongly brewed coffee (no cappuccino maker here), let it cool a bit, then pour it over the frozen goat milk in a pint jar. I give it a few minutes to melt...then give a shake-a shake-a shake-a shake-a and voila.... goat-puccino. Easy, fun, and cost of goods... maybe $0.50? Now did you spit out your expensive coffee drink?
Would you like a pastry with that? Maybe a tiny pie?
Our hummingbirds love it also. I was lucky that the previous owners had a big clump of it that I could divide several times and put around the gardens.
The rain has finally come on - we've been baking for days now. Everyone was relieved. I almost went out and stood in the yard with the ducks. They didn't even bother heading for shelter - just stood there enjoying the cool. Unfortunately... Puddles and her brood of 9 baby ducks were also out there! So I scooted her in the duck garage. The geese would have stayed out also, but their little ones still don't have feathers so they are in their goose hut until the rain stops. Then it will be nothing but puddle splashin' fun!
While I'm inside also I'm taking the opportunity to work on the zucchini problem. Gotta love the zucchini - but before they get completely out of control I'm making some zucchini chocolate chip bread. My recipe makes 2 loaves - so one for now and one for the freezer. Its great to have a baked snack ready to eat in the fall and winter.
Did everyone plant sunflowers? I just love them - and so do our beez:
This is a great pic to zoom in on... see one of our hard workin' beez?
Until we got our beez I had never noticed how much they love squash blossoms. They love this patty pan squash.
Because our beez are so valuable (with all the pollinatin' and such) I took the time to plant a small "bee garden" by the upper hive: lavender, bee balm, lemon balm, thyme, cat mint, and the like. I also left some of the buckwheat (from my soil improvement project) standing. As an extra measure we rotate the mowing of our yard to allow the low white clover to blossom. Sometimes it looks a little shaggy - but you can't do enough for the beez!
The beez should love this spot under the fruit tree, the hive is in the background. We also put a low dish of water nearby - everything a bee could need.
Thats the buzz.. have a great day! (Are you keeping your poultry cool? Keep those water buckets full!)
Wow if you can't stand the heat... well.. too bad. Farming means getting out there even if its hot.
Keeping the poultry cool and the rest of the critters happy is a full time job. Don't be afraid to run the sprinklers in the chicken yard and especially for the waterfowl. If its really bad, hose down your poultry houses by spraying the roofs with the hose. And making puddles by (over) watering your garden keeps the plants happy and the little ducks from drying out. I run the sprinklers at all times during the day as a way to keep everyone cool. Wasting water? Tell the eco-nuts to bite me. Evapotranspiration is good for everybody!
Sun rises on a soon-to-be scorching day
But this is how little Meeps cool off...
Our inside Meeps (goslings) are doing great. They've been outside on the grass but we put them in the tub to cool off every couple hours. They love it.
Like all little kids - they try and hide when the whistle blows for "everybody out of the pool!"
And the first ear of sweet corn has been spotted!
Destined for the grill... come one little ear of corn.. grow!
Whatcha doin' inside?! Get out there and refill the water buckets, wet down the grass, and make sure everyone has enough shade. Even more than in cold weather, your poultry and stock keeping should be on double duty in the heat.
Apparently one of us forgot to figure out when Miss Puddles (aka The Worst Broody EVER) sat herself down on her nest. So...
Guess what we found this morning:
Would you just look at that little rascal peepin' out under momma Puddles!
We were supposed to give her a couple of weeks of setting to be sure she wouldn't be scared off her nest ...and then take up most of the eggs. We like our poultry to go thru the brooding cycle, if they are so inclined. But we are usually more organized and note the date so we can limit the number in our hatches. But someone forgot. Yikes! This is why we write things down - for heavens sakes.
To be sure, I'm a sucker for a cute little white ducks. Ducklings with yellow baby fluff turn white so looks like that little one is safe as kittens. But she looks like a trouble maker for sure.. just like this little love:
I mean seriously.
This is little Black Beak - from the inside gosling crew. He's really getting big...and just loves the snuggles. OD and the rest of the geese aren't interested in the two inside "gooslings" at all....so looks like we are just raising them ourselves. Its a thankless job but someone has to do it. Ha!
It was just like steak...and those 'taters where some of the new ones I pulled one just to see if they were big enough. All fried together in some bacon fat and finished in a hot oven. Served with zucchini au gratin and home made bread - you got yourself a $30 meal at a nice restaurant - made and grown at home for the cost of about fifty cents. It was delicious!
Happy dinner everyone!
ps No, duck is not greasy - someone started that rumor in the 1970's and it just stuck. Neither is goose for that matter....don't ask me how I know.. and for heavens sakes don't tell the Meeps!
Wow what a morning! I love the idea of the moon over the sunflowers.. later in the season this picture will be reversed and instead of the "moon and sunflower at dawn"... it will be "moon and sunflower at sun set."
A couple farm notes:
* Zucchini is firing on all cylinders.. time to break out the zucchini bread recipe. It freezes really well and when made with half or more whole wheat flower - isn't a bad-for-ya snack.
* Pumpkinzilla is taking over the hillside garden so I'm having to move some things including the peppers.
* The peas in the front garden were sacrificed so that Turkey Momma and her poults could get out and stretch their legs during the day -- the turkey house was just too confining for these baby poults on the go.
* Our other currently brooding turkey hen, Bramble, looks miserable... we've lost one egg a day over the last week. I think its the heat. The eggs should be due to hatch in the next several days....
* Which means the remaining jakes/toms need to go. Not TZ or Turkey Bob of course... but I'm in a butcherin' mood and the weather is cool....
* Golly the Meeps are cute - and growin' like weeds.
* Got 3 little salmon faverolle chicks.. they are just stunning.
* I set a barred rock hen down on a heap of eggs..she looks determined to brood so who am I to stop her? If all goes well... should hatch July 21 or 22. Remember... chickens are the currency and we are stockin' up!
* Weedin', weedin', weedin.. honestly will I ever catch up?
* On the good news front... I yanked up a 'tater and there was just one small, new potato - delicate skin and ultra-tasty!
Whatcha doin' sittin' there? Get out there and get them weeds up!
In my previous life I was a fussy, type-a tech gal..and now.. now here I am in the flyover zone on a farm. I gave up my Big Life and I became a tiller of the soil, a keeper of the flocks, and a hater of pigs.
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