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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sweet Mother of Pate...look what I got here!

Editor's note: I feel kinda bad for even posting this. One of my pals, Free, is currently one of the folks on the East Coast in the dark. I'm not worried about her because I know she is well provisioned - and one of the last things she said was that they just got some firewood. But of course I'm worried! Especially because she just got a bunch of chicks - hopefully she learned everything I taught her and has a slew of baby chicks snuggling in her br.. I mean... "personal mobile incubator." Hang in there, baby, and lemme know when you get your lights on!

Today is The Big Man's worst nightmare - I cooked both beets and liver. The only two foods he refuses to eat...but I'll say it... one of my best meals ever. I'm pretty sure he's gonna have a cheese sandwich for supper.

As my beets were roasting I laughed a little remembering the last time I had roasted beet and goat cheese salad. It was in a fancy bistro and it cost probably $8 or $9 for a pint sized serving. My cost to make the same thing here on the farm - practically free. And it was delicious. Easy peasy - roast beets, slice, and plop a big dollop of goat cheese on top. Now that's living, friend.

Then came the main dish. The duck risotto was eclipsed only by the duck liver pate. It was so good I may never eat again. I'm not even kidding.

Sweet mother of pate look at that! Oh liver... I love you in the wurst way...

This culinary adventure started earlier today when we dressed a couple of the younger ducks for supper. You know what that means. To answer before you ask - no it wasnt awful, yes it was easy, and wow having the right scald water temperature really makes for fast plucking. We only did two ducks because we were pressed for time. Hopefully this weekend we'll finish up the rest of that group.

Just enough rendered fat to coat the bottom of the pan.

After we cleaned up our work area I ran into the kitchen with a bowl full of large duck livers and fat. Immediately I started rendering the fat in a heavy pan over low heat. When there was enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan I moved the still solid fat into another pan to finish rendering. The livers were sauteed in the fat in the first pan. I loosely based the pate on this recipe here...mostly because I liked that it included brandy.

I used the necks, hearts, and wings to start a duck stock - low and slow for several hours - in anticipation of the risotto. I love making risotto, especially with barley instead of arborio rice. I think its makes for a richer and more earthy flavor which is perfect for this thyme scented duck risotto.

This is a close approximation for how I whipped up this rich and easy risotto. Of course I stirred in some cream at the end. And... I used some of my goat cheddar instead of parm which was a fabulous substitution. It shaves beautifully and adds an amazing quality to this dish. And its free(ish). In fact, this luxurious supper would have cost a pretty penny in civilization but my cost of goods was just about $1 or so.

So I'm raising a glass to my pal Free and hoping she and her chicks are staying warm. And I'd better go and make The Big Man a cheese sandwich.

Hope everyone had a great day - is the Halloween candy on sale yet?

Friday, October 28, 2011

More on dahlias and Dahlia

On the last really warm and sunny day I went out and took some pix of the dahilas. Mostly so I wouldnt forget which was what color when I dig them up. We had some great results this time....

In other news, Too Short is about to go on his merry way. His new farm is eager to have him and I'll be glad when he's gone. Last nite he smeared his pee-covered face on my bare legs for the last darn time. Smell ya later, pal.

I'm pretty sure that Nibbles is bred - she has "pregnancy boobs"..that is, her udder feels different. If she comes into heat it will be in the next week. But I don't think so. She also sounds different and she's complaining about other things (then the regular complaints about the bad service and lack of respect).

To me Dahlia looks different but she could just be "fluffy" because of the cold weather. Hopefully she is bred. Deb was interested in Too Short just long enough for him to make her milk taste and smell bad. So hopefully all these gals are knocked up and now its just waiting around. One of my friends asked me how many babies I'd have in the spring. Honestly I hadn't thought about it. But I'm guessing that it will be somewhere between 3 and 9 babies. Wow!  That's a lot of goats.

There's a couple things we won't do with our goat herd this next go around. First, goes without saying that we will not get another buck. I've already contacted Nibble's breeder and told her that we'd be first in line next fall. She got a good laugh.

Next, we won't keep another doeling. We kept Dahlia because she was so well bred. You really can't buy a doeling that has such good milking lines. But I have to say - I don't like the extra hassle. Debbie loves her kids so its hard to get her to stop letting them milk off her. And our plan to separate them didn't work at all.  And I'm not convinced that breeding a doeling is the best strategy - and it might not even work. Next time we'll just sell all the kids and use the money to buy another doe in milk.

And to be truthful - I just don't like having the kids. I'm not enough of a goat snuggler to want to spend the extra time with them that I should. Our position is that if Dahlia isn't a champion milker like Debbie, or if she doesn't get bred - then she'll go to a new home. We really need all the critters here to work. So feeding Dahlia this whole time with no benefit doesn't really work with our farm-o-nomics view of the world. Hopefully she'll have good kids and be a good milker. If not... she'll get her pink slip and a layoff package from Human Resources. 

We had a pretty good frost last nite - the dahlias might actually die back in these next couple of days. Good thing I got these pictures. As for Dahlia - hopefully she'll be out there complaining about the service and wondering if she looks fat.

Happy Friday everyone! Is anyone else feeling the winter coming on?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Here we go again..... meat chix for fall!

You'd think we'd learn.... or maybe we have learned...  Meat chix are in the house!

We were thrilled when the post called us on Tuesday morning to come and get our heapin, peepin' box of fun. Actually we thought they'd get here Wednesday so we had to scramble to get the tub and the heat lamp set up for these 30 little dinner chicks.

About 10 minutes after getting the chicks set up in a brooder I left to spend 24 hours in civilization. I watched cable TV and went to the mall. Can you believe that there is an entire channel dedicated to cup cake competition? I was mesmerized by the whole thing.

I have to remind myself that the rest off the world isn't as farmy as I am. Someone asked me if I had horses and I replied, "No we have real farm animals." I probably should have said that differently. And the server at the restaurant was a little green around the gills when I ordered a steak and explained my selection to my friend as being because "We don't have a cow to butcher yet." Kinda like our experience at IHOP but not as bad.

Anyway, when I got home I got the kiddie pool set up as a brooder for the meat chix. They are doing great so far and are starting to eat like a plague of locust. Meyer sent us one extra chick in the box....which promptly died yesterday. So started with 31, now down to 30.

One of my pals took advantage of the 50-chix-for$0.80-deal but wasn't having good luck with them. Of the original 50 about 10 had keeled over. As you know meat chicks aren't known for their steadfastness and can be kind of tricky. My pal asked for suggestions and this is what I said:

1. Make sure they are warm enough - for that many chicks you might need two heat lamps. Also be sure they are out of the breeze.
2. Got raw milk? Give it to the chicks - you can mix with their feed or just put it in a little dish.
3. Adding a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) into a gallon of water also helps
4. Add a little molasses to the feed or water (you can stir it in with the ACV)
5. Boost up the protein - get a bag of higher protein food (wild game feed or TSC has 24% Chick Starter) or give scrambled or hard cooked eggs.

Or if all else fails you can get either medicated feed. TSC's Dumor brand is not medicated which is why we like it, but there are brands that are so ask at your feeds store. I picked up a couple packages of something called "Sav-A-Chick" which is a "concentrated poultry electrolyte and vitamin supplement for use in drinking water."

We found that its easier to keep meat chix warm than it is to cool them off. However, you need to be on the lookout for signs they aren't handing the cold well. You're chicks should have a good "dispersal" pattern - that is they should not all be bunched up under the heat lamp, nor should they be as far away from the heat source as they can get.

The chicks should be evenly popping around in their living area - or laying down asleep with a little space between each other. You should also hear them "musically peeping" which is a happy sound that you'll know when you hear. If there is distress peeping run, don't walk, to make sure no one is stuck upside down the waterer (it happens) or that they are not too cold, too hot, or out of water. So far ours are doing well in their new digs.

As this group was hatched this week of Oct 24th... they should be ready in mid-December. Our plan is to do a better job of "dressing them for dinner" in small groups of 3 or 4. And seein' as how we are almost completely out of chicken.... I'll be counting the days.  Until then my eye is fixed on the pigz... who's special day will be coming soon.

Happy Thursday everyone - anyone else get the special price from Meyer?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Milk Mustache

This is for my pal, B, who sends me encouraging emails. Thanks buddy! At your request.....today we have...

... the milk mustache...

Hey! Is this thing on?

Gettin' some sips from the tap...

Look! Its live action!

Zander's cuteness has grown exponentially....especially since he's been helping me with the milking. "Helping" is a big word for sitting at my feet and begging me to squirt some of the goat's milk into his little mouth. Its hilarious.

The pup's little eyes nearly bugged right out of his head the first time he saw Debbie's huge milk bag. I'm not sure how he recognized her as a milk source, but he tried to latch right away. She's a good sport but not THAT good. The pup has razor sharp teeth and really really strong jaws. So I put him out of grabbed him before he got to Debbie and sat him at my feet. I thought it would be funny if I squirted a stream of milk at him - and he immediately started drinking it all up! So he's my milking buddy. Of course, this will have to come to an end soon. But we are loving every second of his puppyness.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Any body else got a milking buddy like this?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hillbilly Hoop House

I'm still working on puppy time so not a lot of time to post these last couple of days. But I did want to get in a quick pic of my new hillbilly hoop house:

We slapdashed this together the other day. Our first frost was on Saturday the 22 so we scrambled to get some things covered up.

For this quick hoop house I just used the tallest tposts that we had and used a 1x1's as a top beam and then I used a short piece of field fence as the "hoop." The "hoop" is secured (loosely) to two "sides" which are just cross pieces on shorter tposts. Heavy plastic is the cover. Easy peasy. If I can keep my swiss chard going I'll use straw bales as walls.

I made another larger one of these hoop houses... and it was going great - until I found one of my chickens in it scratching up all my seedlings! Drat.

In other news, the puppy is doing great. He spent his first nite with the big dogs...and he was just fine.  Kai is still pretty rough and tumble with him so he slept in his cage. He didn't cry at all. So we were also fine. Mostly. Lets just say we didn't burst into flames and the puppy took it much better than the rest of us. He slept until 7:30 and didn't miss us at all. Not a bit. They grow up so fast.

Today's gratuitous puppy shot - little Zander giving the evil hedgehog the 'what for.' He hates the hedgehog and take every opportunity to shake it and growl like a Tasmanian devil. It hilarious. The pup is still in that funny phase where he plays until he falls over. Then sleeps where ever he lands.

He's already changing a lot. His tail is starting to curl, which is adorable. 

Happy Tuesday everyone! Do have all your plants covered up? Have your hoops over everything?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

That just ain't fittin'

With deep regret I must inform you of the barnyard goings on. I'm doing this as part of my record keeping and not to shock or horrify you.  But first, gentle reader, to prepare you for the terrible account ....I present the last rose of summer:

Summer's last rose... true, noble, just, pure, and lovely.

Choose, if you must, to continue reading. But be warned. Your brain my just explode. Mine almost did. Ready?

It started Thursday nite. There I was, innocently, walking out to the goat yard to get Debbie for evening milking. The dog was at my side. As we approached the gate we saw...we saw... we saw a sight of such debauchery, a scene so horrible, so shocking....that I tell you the truth. I dropped my bucket and ran. There was no way I was milkin' that. No way. That just ain't fittin' at all.

I believe I'm now mentally scarred from what I saw and very possibly need therapy. A lot of therapy.  And certainly what was happening out there is forbidden by Leviticus and common decency.

I refuse to detail the horrid events of that evening so as not to inflict upon you the same mental strain that I am now laboring under... but I will reveal that the buckling, Too Short, has now been renamed by someone wiser than me as.... "Just Tall Enough."

I say no more on this and will now spend the remainder of the weekend in prayer and mediation. Focusing on what is true, noble, just, pure, and lovely.

Based on the events of the last couple weeks I have determined that this buckling project gets and F-.

Sure. I believe the buckling has been.. um.. effective. And he's kinda cute. However, I just am not cut out for these kinds of shenanigans. At all. Not even remotely. So Too Short.. or rather.. Just Tall Enough... has his tickets booked and his bags packed. He'll be departing these humble shores for a farm far....far...away.  Smell ya later, pal.

That is all.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day. Interrupted.

One of my friends laughed when she heard we were getting the puppy. She asked me if I was caught up with everything because I'd never get anything done now on puppy time.

Yep. Pretty much I'm getting things done in about five minute increments. Then its take the puppy out, feed the puppy, play with the puppy, lather, rinse, repeat. I love it. We love having little Zander - who's already growing really fast. We figure he'll be mobile soon enough so we are really enjoying this little dog-toddler phase. He can't even climb the stairs and still needs help getting out the door.

This was a couple days ago - you can see we used Nicholas for scale again. The pup is soooo little.

"Commander Zander" has been helping us with morning chores. Mostly he just runs around and wrestles with leaves. But this morning he toddled up to me while I was milking Debbie the goat. His little eyes nearly bugged right out of his head when he saw her udder. So I squirted a little milk at him. He drank right from the stream of milk! Debbie was disgusted but it was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.

So we are on puppy time now. Lots of interruptions..and wait.. yep.. looks like its time to take him out again.

Hope everyone had a great Friday!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake

I can't imagine I didn't post this last fall...so here it is in all its pumpkin-y glory.....

Pumpkin Cake. Oh man... so delicious. And you can make a reasonable argument that its kinda good for you too. I mean... for a breakfast food and all.

I found this over at Farmgirl Fare - she has great recipes for sure. Of course I change the recipe just a little - for instance I use half a cup of applesauce and half a cup of either melted butter or lard. And I use duck eggs when I can get them...I'm a little heavy handed with the spices and light on the sugar (usually about 1 3/4cup sugar). This cake comes together in seconds.

Of course I never use a can of pumpkin - I just cook down one of the fabulous blue pumpkins I get at a local farm stand for $2.  A "can of pumpkin" is 15 oz or about 1 3/4 cup of cooked pumpkin. Once cooked, pureed, and strained I put the pumpkin pulp into portioned containers in the freezer. One medium-ish sized blue pumpkin gives me enough for about 4 cakes or pies. For $2. How great is that? Someone recently told me the cooked down a pumpkin and it was "so much work!" Um.. just put it in the oven and walk away. But everyone is different.

Technically you don't have to frost this cake. But who are we kidding? Cake is generally just the vehicle for frosting, right? Ha! Anyway... we like cream cheese frosting on this cake but a quick and easy buttercream frosting is just fine. And we never have orange juice around here so I just skip that entirely and use vanilla in the cream cheese frosting.

This cake is extremely moist and so easy to make so what are you waiting for?!? Get out there and make yourself a pumpkin spice cake!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One way to harvest pears

We had a pretty big windstorm blow thru the last couple of days....

....I guess that's one way to get all the pears... just let the wind blow them down.

Most of the pears blew down. They were probably about ready but I would have preferred to pick them when I was ready. We got 3 or 4 five gallon buckets full and another bucket of "bad" ones for the pigz.

So I'll work on canning the pears in the next couple of days. We have rain moving in and I'll have an inside day or two. By then the pears should be ripe. So pear sauce, pear cake, pear pie, pear tart, pear crisp.. you name it, it will all be on the menu.

And now for a gratuitous adorable puppy picture......you knew I couldn't resist.

Zander is doing great. He has a lot of Kai's behaviors which is really fun to see. He uses his paws like a cat  would...and he figured out how to roll down the hill on purpose just 'cuz it's fun. Cutest. Thing. Ever. We are entirely smitten with this little pup. He still has that "new puppy" smell.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Anyone else working on canning pears?

Monday, October 17, 2011


I know.. its totally self indulgent.... but here's Zander...again.

He's so cute I can't help it. More no farmin' later but would you just LOOK at this little wuggums?! We are totally smitten. I'm not sure how I'm going to get any work done today... we might just have a play day.

Zander's favorite thing is "running with the big dogs" which is even more hilarious sung to "Running with the Devil" (and yeah, younger folks, we thought we were cool back then).

We have one nice day this week then more rain rain rain. In between snuggling the pup I'm going to try and get some cover crops planted. And I'm going to try and avoid looking in the goat yard. Dahlia "suffered an outrage" yesterday. Debbie is next. The whole thing is just gross.

Happy Monday everyone! Whatcha snugglin' today?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Zander Hannibal BoneCrusher

Meet our newest recruit, Zander Hannibal BoneCrusher....

...or Mr. Wuggums until he grows into his name. Isn't he adorable?

Zander is Kai's brother, but from another litter. It was about a year ago that we brought Kai home...and now we are thrilled to have two curly tailed bear killers in the house. She thought her little brother was amazing.

There was a lot of sniffing going on...and then he kinda just passed out.

 Its a lot of work being so cute. 

Zander came to us like almost all our furry friends - just a lucky happenstance... or as I'd like to think, by a divine appointment. I just so happened to send the folks we got Kai from a note on her birthday telling them how much we loved her.  And they just happened to have another litter of puppies....and we just happened to receive a little bit of money from heaven.... and the only pup that was available was named Zander. Which just happens to be my all time favorite dog name. And it didnt hurt that little Zander is (mostly) black and some white - just like a lot of our critters. We laughed and asked if we could see him. And then today we brought him home.

He's going to be huge. He's already  bigger than Kai was at this age - and his paws are enormous. But we like 'em big so we are really excited. And we are just weak in the knees at his cuteness. Right now Dog#2 is "watching the puppy" which will be his job. Dog#1 and Kai are with The Big Man, reinforcing their alpha status. We are going to have to manage this dog pack to maintain order.. but my friend SD has been giving me a great tutorial for keeping the peace.

Zander's name is a mouthful for sure. But you ancient military history nerds already know who he's named after two of the greatest miltary leaders of all time - Alexander the Great and Hannibal (of Carthage). The "BoneCrusher" is just cool. Sure Zander is a  misspelling..but thats OK because I like Z names. And no, not Hannibal Lecter of that ridiculous movie about the screaming sheep. Seriously, what could be better than the general who marched war elephants over the Alps to take on Rome? That guy had some 'hell yeah' for sure... just like our little guy is going to have one day.

But for now he's just going to be cute and we are gonna get all the puppy snuggles we can.  Welcome to the team, Zander, we're sure glad you're here!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicks and leaves

These dark and rainy fall mornings are a drag. Its hard to get going when its so dreary out. But these little guys love to run right out there. They blend in with the leaves, dontcha think?

These are a few of the clutch of chicks known as The Mob. This group of ill-hatched chicks has the most interesting collection of colors and patterns you've ever seen. They are starting to get big enough to sort themselves out into factions and different groups. Some of the roosters are starting to emerge as leaders - and some are volunteering for our next Rooster Day. Mr. H, that brown and white speckled roo in the front of this pic is your guy. His fate is yet undetermined... and he might just turn out to be a hen!

Remember Little Baldy? She, I'm hoping she's a hen, is doing great.  You can see her in the first picture - she's the lovely all brown hen with the dark necklace. And just the other day I found Ginny's chick in the tumble of chicks. She's a beauty for sure but I couldn't snap a picture of her this morning. She's one of the groups that head directly for the tall grass to look for bugs. 

In other news, that plink plink plink you hear in the background is my apple butter sealing. I'm also working on cooking down some pumpkins and finally...some pear sauce. And bread. And I have to find something to make for supper. And that's my timer so I have to go....

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday! Whatcha canning today?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Full Moon of the Crazy Goats

Nutbags. Loons. Crackpots. Is everyone glad that the Full Moon of the Batsh*t Crazy Goats is over?

My golly.  Its been a wild out there in the barnyard. I don't believe in astrology but I do believe that natural forces can affect behavior. You'll know this to be true if you have animals, children, or work with the general public. I tend to remind my city friends that they might want to wait a day or two around a full moon before they quit their jobs, repaint the living room in hot pink, or radically change their hair.

We've noticed that our barnyard gets more lively in weird ways around the full moons - especially when it coincides with the change of seasons. Any poultry setting on nests tend to hatch during or around the full moon and we also know there is more predator activity.

The introduction of Too Short has thrown an already lively group into fits for sure. And all the lady goats are trying to kill each other. Debbie especially has been on a tear lately. During the last full moon she was in rare form. My normally placid, well behaved doe was out of her damn mind.

All y'all know that I'm not a goat snuggler. Or a goat smoocher. In fact I don't spend a lot of time with the goats and I only really require a few things from them:

1. Milk. A lot of milk. And for the goat to stand there quietly when the milking is happening. I'll give them whatever snacks they want -  just stand there and lets get the milking over with quickly. And that goat had better fill the bucket.

2. Come when I call you  - which is almost always when its time to milk or, on occasion, for some special snacks.

3. Be QUIET. I don't have the time or patience for loud obnoxious goats. Which is why I like the La Manchas and probably will never have a Nubian despite the fact they fulfill Goat Requirement #1 very well.

But the Full Moon of the Batsh*t Crazy Goats sent poor Debbie into a tail spin for sure. And there was me - out there working on the evening chores alone. Debbie had let the lunacy take hold and we were in for a bumpy ride. She started working on  my last, frayed, good nerve as soon as I saw she didn't have any milk. Dahlia had been milk stealin'. But I needed to empty Debbie out and made sure she got some grain. So I called her.

She did not come to me.

Just so's ya know... "not coming when I call you" - for dogs and goats - is a pretty bad offense. In fact, the dogs know that if they dont come to me by the time I've called 3 times... or heaven forbid, I have to go and get my shoes on to go find them... they'd better run FROM me.

Debbie stood there giving me that smarmy look. Not coming to me. OK.  So I picked up the leash and went after her. She ran, tossed her heard, and thought she was something else.

A moment later I was hot stepping that goat directly to the milkstand at a fast pace. Debbie was on a short leash and had a slightly wild eyed look.

Then... THEN.... she wouldnt get up on the stand. And Debbie was stomping all around! Right by all my little ducklings, my sweet little duck momma, AND one of my setting hens! I thought that goat was gonna stomp on my hen! So I growled at her to "Get on that stand or I will end you right now."

She got on the stand.

There was a slight wrestling match over whether she was or was not going to put her head in the stanchion. It turned out she was. But she stood there defiantly, snorting and not eating.

"I dont care if you eat or not, missy," I told her.

She didnt.

Then when we were done she pretty much she ran right back to the gate, and once inside the yard she did that crazy bucking, twisting, flipping, and kicking up her heels thing. Fine. Whatever... but she kept it up for a while and had Nibbles on the run.

Helpfully I called, "Run, Nibbles, Run!" And then I went on about my business. 

Normally if they ever get too rambunctious I  just give them a common enemy - I bring the dog in to settle them down.  But the dog was gated in on the deck so I figured I'd just let them goats work it out.

So then came the part of the show where everyone has to go into the goat house.  The goats were still at it - chasing each other and running all around. I was getting the water buckets ready and then here comes Debbie, head down, ridge high... right. For. Me.

Now the last time she did this I just spread out my arms wide, puffed myself up as big as I could...and said something like, "Take a swing mutha-what-did-she-say!"...and Deb just sidled off....

But this time... She was tossing her head and kicking.... Still coming right at me.  So I took evasive action.

I threw a bucket of water on her.

Debbie looked like I threw napalm on her.

“I could do this all day. Who's next?” I said glaring at them all because I did, in fact, have more buckets.

From behind me, up on the deck, I heard cheering from the dogs and Kai begging me to let her "help" with them frothy goats. As our star hunter, Kai is just waiting for the day that she can release her inner wolf and pull down one of them meat bags.. I mean.. goats. Which is why, of course, she doesn't come in the goat yard. "Paaaahhhlllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese, Momma, let me help!" Kai was practically yipping at that point. Titan, my big shepherd and right hand man, mumbled that I should have let him come in with me... which was true especially how Debbie had been acting.

Standing there dripping wet Debbie shook like a dog then looked at me again. I brandished another bucket and yelled, "You want a fresh one?"

Then there was that moment of truth where either you are or you are not in control of the situation.  We stared each other down... me, Cool Hand Luke daring her to make her move... her, crazy goat unable to decide her fate .....I raised an eyebrow....

...and she turned and ran directly into the goat house.

The full moon, the change of season, and our change of weather all happened together. So who knows whats going to happen today. I'm just glad that the Moon of the BatSh*t Crazy Goats is over and we can go on with what is normal for us.

As for the breeding, so far we think that Nibbles has been bred. I locked Too Short and Dahia in the stall together last nite. So either they've killed each other or "worked it out." Debbie should come in to heat later in the week - so that will be interesting. Hopefully they will all knock off the funny business. Until then I'm going to be stepping lively and keeping the buckets, and the dog, close.

How about you? Did everyone survive the full moon?

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Buck Stops Here or Goat Pimpin'

As the most immature... modest.... person you could ever imagine, I'd much rather butcher something then be involved in the breeding and birthing end of farming. So you can guess my feathers are a little ruffled over becoming a goat pimp.
The ladies lined up to check out the fresh meat

Saturday we drove several counties over to get Too Short from a pal who was in the same position we are with the lady goats.... we both have several dairy does who need to be bred so they can freshen next spring. However, the cost for taking several gals to a breeder is almost on par with just buying a buck. Having heard the oohing and aaahing of how cute he was and a promise that he wasn't too stinky we decided that we'd try bringing a buck here. To be sure, he's more like a buckling - that is, a young, intact male goat.
First, Too Short stepped out with Debbie

Our decision making went like this:  Debbie normally would go to a professional herd for about 3 weeks or so for basically the cost of a tank of gas. We have a great relationship with a La Mancha breeder so my home canned pears were all that was required for payment instead of paying a fee (about $50 - $75). However, his prized buck died tragically and the breeder was scrambling to find a replacement. And we'd have to dry Debbie out as there is no way we could expect our friend to milk her for 3 weeks. So we always consider the loss of milk as a "con" for taking her to the breeder.

Then this Romeo chatted up Nibbles, who played hard to get for exactly 10 minutes.  Hussy.

Nibbles usually would go to a prize winning, second generation mini-mancha buck about a tank of gas the other direction... and depending on her performance would either be there 3 weeks or about 30 minutes. Her fee usually ran $75 - $100 depending on how long she was going to be with that herd.

Dahlia nearly lost her mind when she saw Too Short and acted like a fool. . A good lesson for teenage girls - don't chase some boy... he won't like it. Too Short walked back to Nibbles, who batted her eyes while Dahlia got mad stomped her foot.  

With just those two it made more sense not to have a buck (adding in time, energy, and stinky factor). However, Dahlia is our wild card.  We've been on the fence about breeding her. Some folks think that you should wait another year to breed a doeling, but others follow the "8 months or 80 pounds" rule. So we werent sure - and our mini-mancha buck owner told us that she had never had good luck breeding a doeling.

Then my pal got a deal on a buckling.... so we figured we'd jump into the seedy underworld of goat pimping. It goes like this - Person A gets a buckling and keeps him long enough to breed her lady goats then sells him to Person B. Person B keeps him long enough to breed her lady goats then finds a chump willing buyer who will purchase the buck once the buck is done with his  "chores" here. Of course, like all pyramid schemes at some point you run out of breeding season and someone is left holding the bag, as it were. But my pal, Bourbon Red is willing to have the buckling for a while and if he can't find a buyer then Too Short will go to the sale barn.

 The ladies checked out the goods. I'm not trying to be crude with this picture - just truthful  so's you know what to expect. But did you sing the song? "Do your what's hang low, do they wiggle too and fro..." *snicker*

I have to admit that Too Short is kinda cute - so some folks are asking me why we don't keep him? For the same reasons we never wanted a buck in the first place: everyone here has to work and keeping an animal full time who has one "part time job" just doesn't make sense for us.

We don't have the space or the patience to set up another living area and housing on the far side of the property for a buck. And in truth, he'd probably need a friend.  So then we'd have two goats standing there doing nothing but stinkin' up the place, eating all the hay, and getting on my last good nerve. And possibly being coyote bait because they'd have to be far enough away from the dairy goats that their milk wouldn't be ruined by the buck smell. Around here "far enough away" would be pretty far away from the house and out of my line of sight so we couldn't keep them safe as we'd like. 

There are plenty of bucks available around here (check your local craigslist) so we don't think there will be a shortage any time soon. However, if you are really remote, have a not-so-common breed of goat, or just have the room to house a buck separately - then go for it. My pal L is having good luck with his buck - and wow his herd is growing! However, L had to build a separate, reinforced pen for full sized buck.

I'm also not wild about having an intact male anything in the barnyard - except for the poulty. I'm not a big person so the barnyard crew will only take me so seriously.  And I'm realistic about this. Sure I can make a grown man cry but if a full sized buck got sideways with me I'd be in a heap in the yard.  As it is, Too Short is getting a little sporty with me. Sure he can only really ram me in the shins...but I know some folks who where hurt this way.  And I really hate it when he rubs his pee-covered face on my legs. That alone seals his fate to move right along to the next barnyard.

I don't expect him to get out of line, but when he got here Too Short learned the rules:

1. There's the hard way and my way.
2. My way is the easy way.
3. That dog aint lickin' you friend, he's tastin' you.

Its been a little crazy out there in the barnyard anyway with the full moon coming on, the ladies all having the vapors, and now them all showing off for the new man. So when none of the goats wanted to go into the goat house last nite I just went and got the dog. Bringing Dog#1 into the goat yard usually sends the ladies running for their house. Too Short thought he'd test my limits and lallygagged. But it didn't take long for Too Short to realize that dog wasn't his friend and to run headlong for the shed and hide behind Nibbles. Good dog.

So far we think that Too Short has had his way with Nibbles. Pretty soon Dahlia and Debbie will come into heat and then we'll see how that goes. You may be thinking to yourself, how's THAT gonna work? You can see from the pictures that Debbie is pretty tall and Too Short is.. well.. short. Apparently they are gonna work it out.


Yours truly will be out there holding Debbie still in front of a hay bale where Too Short will be able to climb up and.. um... er... golly..... "cover" her. If that happens I will have to hide under my kitchen table and wear a bag over my head for possibly weeks. I'm hoping they will just work it out. And no, in my whole life I never thought this could possibly be on my agenda. I'm just not suited for this at all.  In fact yesterday watching Nibbles and Too Short go at it - disgusted, I turned on my heel, threw down my bucket, and told The Big Man that there was no way I was milking Nibbles after THOSE goings on. I went in the house and showered in bleach.

Too Short, by the way, is named after Too Short Raul - a rapper from the 80's and 90's. If I were you I wouldn't click here for the discography... I'd just Respect the Pimpin'. That's me. Goat Pimp. For heavens sakes.

Happy Monday everyone! Now get out there and pimp that goat!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Too Short

Firmly under the heading of "never say never"...... meet our new buckling.

Too Short is in the house.  Let the goat pimpin' commence. 

More on this later. I'm headed out to watch the shameless antics of my the "dairy ladies of ill repute."

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crazy Ugly Momma

Remember Inky and how she finally had a late season hatch? Well, look at her now....

...she's one crazy, ugly momma for sure!

Poor Inky is molting - like a lot of my hens right now. Most of them look like they've been run over by a lawn mower! The worst is my beautiful Raspberry... my little Cochin hen.

She looks like a feather duster that someone shook really hard. My beautiful french hen!

A while ago I was complaining to an old timer about some hens that were molting but he chided me and said to let them be - and that they need a break. So we aren't going to take any measures to try and stop any of it. We won't be keeping a light on in the hen house or changing their food. Most folks don't like the lack of eggs when their layers go to molt. But we'll make do.

Right now its getting dark about 7:30pm which really isn't enough daylight for full egg production. So if your ladies aren't laying like they should be - its just the change of season. But when the ladies start getting their feathers back and we get closer to loosing daylight savings we'll make sure we have eggs all winter by giving them more layer mash and leaving a light on for them.

We have two main coops - one for the layers and one for younger ones. The Mob is in there now along with the rest of this summer's chicks.  In the next couple of weeks we are going to sort out some of the layers and the younger roosters for Their Special Day when they go to glory in a pot of noodles.

Most of the "keep" layers are indicated by a bracelet that means they've had a successful hatch and earned themselves a pass. But there are a few older hen who need to go. They are the unnamed rabble who either aren't great layers or who aren't broody....or are eating eggs. By next spring we'll be back up to full laying speed with the new chicks coming into their productive laying season.

In the meantime, we're working hard at getting the garden cleaned up. I took down a little patch of corn and gave it to the pigz. I'll be tilling again today - and then planting oats later on. I'm trying oats as a cover crop this year. Normally we go for winter wheat - but with our ridiculously wet spring it didnt work out so well. I couldnt get enough dry days to get it cut off and tilled under to plant the garden.

Oats will winter kill so my plan is to get them planted and hope they will grow at least a foot or so tall (if they set heads that would be even better!). Then the cold weather will kill them, they will flop over and form a kind of mulch to keep the weeds out and the soil in place. Next spring I'll be able to scrap off the gardens and have access to all that friable soil just waiting for seeds.

That's the plan anyway. Have a great Friday everyone! Whatcha workin' on today?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blooming Buzz and that new thingy on the right

Finally we have our sunny fall! Yesterday the weather broke and we are out of any danger of frost, have clear skies...and sun sun sun!
What the heck is it?

Right now this white fluffy stuff is blooming like mad. The beez cant get enough of it so I'm not even cutting it down or ripping it out. This bloomed after the ragweed started declining. Any body know what it is?

In housekeeping news - see that new gadget on the right under "About Me"? Its a new feature for me. Some folks can't access blogger at work and so here is a way to keep in touch. Get each day's post on your email.  Its easy peasy to do - just enter your email and then verify the subscription by clicking on the link. This is a new feature for me so if anybody wants to give it a test - let me know how it works!

Hope everyone is outside enjoying the sunshine! I'm working on ripping out the rest of the garden and enjoying every sunny minute of it.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Lasagna

Hold onto your hats farm food friends.... here's what should be for your dinner tonite - Pumpkin Lasagna!

I'm not even kidding. You won't believe the fall-ish deliciousness of this easy peasy dish. Grab your lasagna noodles and get cooking, here's how.

First, for real directions the closest I could find for this 'made up on the fly' meal was here check out Rachael Ray. That is about how I did it and provides more exact measurements. Normally my "experimental food" is just thrown together but this was such a hit The Big Man asked me to write down what I did so we can have this again. I short hand everything when I cook and use what I got, so sometimes I don't get the exact same results. Yikes!

First get your noodles going. I know that my pan takes 9 regular old lasagna noodles. Sure I shoulda made my own - but I didn't.

Next, dig around and find out what ground meat you have. I made sloppy joes the other day (no not from a can of Manwich!) and they just didn't have the same kinda oomph they normally do.. So I heated up the leftover meat and added more garlic. It was already tomato-y. Then I added nutmeg and cinnamon.

You have a lot of fresh and delicious milk, right? Drag that out and make a bechemel sauce like Marcella Hazen does it. I threw in a couple handfuls of mozzarella cheese (from the store) and then a big heap of our own cheese.  Add an extra dash of nutmeg and several grinds of black pepper.

Take about half of the bechemel out of the pan. I think I made the sauce so there was about 2 1/2 or 3 cups total. Reserve half and then add some cooked, pureed pumpkin to the pan (you're cooking down pumpkins, right? have some in the fridge?) - probably a cup and a half so its nice and thick. Give a taste - does it taste like pumpkin love? If not add more pumpkin, salt, and a bit more nutmeg. Then walk out to the garden, get some fresh sage and add it, chopped, to the sauce.

Now layer it up:

1. Pour about half a cup of milk - or enough to cover the bottom of your already buttered baking dish.

2. Add noodles

3. Add the meat or meat sauce

4. More noodles

5. Now the pumpkin sauce and a bit more sage

6. Last layer of noodles

7. Now the plain bechemel sauce, more black pepper, bread crumbs, and finally a good shake of cheese.

Bake at 375*-ish while you shovel the masses into their coops, chase that last duckling around the truck at least twice, and get back inside just as the cheese is perfectly browned and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve with a big glass of wine and freshly made bread. Delish!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Now run right out, cook down a pumpkin and dive into fall food!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Is everyone watching the PPS special, Prohibition by Ken Burns? Are you watching with a big glass of booze in your hand? Wow what an eye opener.

I'm not sure which was worse - that we were such a nation of boozers before... or that the constitutional amendment banning the sale and transport of alcohol actually happened. The final segment airs tonite and I"ll be glued to the TV for sure.

A couple things jumped out at me - besides the glaring hypocrisy... I thought that the temperance movement to get anti-alcohol "education" into the schools was just stunning. While some of the curriculum provided in the text books was true-ish... the flat out lies were just shocking. Makes you wonder what is being taught to kids these days...and who's agenda is being worked.

The other thing that was interesting to me was the unintended consequences of well meaning folks - the rise of organized crime, the justice system being both overwhelmed and corrupted, and the millions and millions of tax free dollars that benefited no one but the "criminals" who learned to work the system.

The best quote from last nite's segment from Winston Churchill who refused to aid the US in its fight with illegal booze coming from Canada or the Caribbean... he said something along the lines that "Prohibition was an affront to the whole history of mankind."  I'd raise a glass to that for sure.

Of course it also made me think about how some folks think that their way is the only way - well meaning or not. Anybody else shake their heads when the media started talking about those poor folks who got sick from listeria from commercially grown, harvested, and distributed cantaloupes?  It seemed to me that locally grown produce would not have had such a widespread reach and would have been more contained than the current outbreak which spans many states.  I guess all their "best practices' that "they" know how to better than the rest of us didn't really work out the way they thought.

But heaven forbid if you wanna grow some food in your own yard. In an updated report I read that the charges had been dropped 'for now' - but its also the end of the growing season. I'm guessing that they are waiting for her to plant a few seeds next spring so that the SWAT team can swoop down and haul off this obvious criminal.

And what about all you soon-to-be criminals out there harboring good ol' light bulbs.... the electric police may be gunning for you soon. Hopefully you won't be billed for a broken bulb when the EPA has to come out and sweep up the mercury. Or get a headache from the CFL's like I do... but the real tragedy was the folks who lost their jobs here in the States when the manufacturing plants went dark. Guess who still makes those good old bulbs? Right. China.

Of course you know my feelings on the Gestapo-type tactics that your government is using on farmers who are selling the most dreaded of all contraband... raw milk. While I can kinda get that raw milk on a large scale could be unwieldy... that you don't have the right to consume milk from your own cow on your own land? That just ain't right.

To me it sounds like the New Prohibition is on food.

Ecclesiastes rightly says that "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecc 1:9) and looking back at Prohibition and looking just over the horizon at the coming "food prohibition".... I think that old Solomon was right.

Get out there and get those gates and fences up, Farm Pirates... next they'll be coming in and hauling off the goats and the chickens and handing us food stamps for our government approved "food."

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Summer of My Dryer Discontent

You have no idea how happy I am that the summer of my dryer discontent is now OVER. Sheesh!

A few days ago we took a drive into the hinterlands and picked up a new-to-us dryer. For $30. Around here $30 buys you a lot of love.

We've been dryer-less since the end of May and I tell you the truth - I've hated every single second. My friend, Eliza, asked me why she didn't know about my angst... but really, I've tried very hard not to complain. But now that we have an old workhorse of a dryer downstairs happily fluffing my underpants... I'll tell you all about it.

I hate when appliances don't work so when our good old dryer finally went belly up it was a total shock.  I assume some kind of appliance fairy is gonna show up and fix it. But that never happens so I usually take matters into my own hands - generally by throwing the old appliance out in the yard. I'm not even kidding. One time my husband drove in to see an ill-behaved dishwasher in the front yard - on its side with all its guts hanging out. He took one look at the murderous glare in my eye and two days later victoriously drove home with a new dishwasher strapped to the back of the truck. Happy wife, happy life - ain't that right.

Unfortunately the dryer situation didn't work out so smoothly. We really weren't in the right place to run right out and buy a new one, and we didn't have any luck with craigslist....apparently folks won't split up a washer/dryer set. And I was momentarily brainwashed by the soft cooings of dryer-less fanatics who swore I'd "never go back" once I starting hanging my unmentionables out in the yard for all the world to see.

There's about a million reasons why I don't like to line dry laundry - most of them are logistical. First, I'm short - so the line has to be pretty darn low. But then the sheets hang pretty close to the ground...and when you have all these large male dogs who pee on anything new. Well, you can do the math on that one.

Next, I'm allergic to everything so having all my clothes out there doing nothing but flappin' in the breeze and catching all the pollen... well.. doesn't really help anyone but the folks who make Claritin.

Then, no matter what I had to walk up a set of stairs to get outside to that stupid clothesline. Carrying an unwieldy laundry basket was just awkward. And then there's all the tripping over cats inside...and chickens outside. By the time I got to the stupid clothesline I was battered and bruised and half the clothes needed to be washed again.

Not to mention that I could really one do about one load of clothes a day - this summer was so wet that everything took forever to dry. So unless I started really early a weeks worth of laundry took a week to do, instead of a day.

But now... now the sweet sound of the dryer going round is taking the edge off my appliance rage. And I don't even care that I'm wasting all that electricity. My goal is to use up all the electric in the county today - in fact, I'm pretty sure the president of our co-op is gonna roll up in his limo and shake my hand for increasing demand and sending prices sky high.

That's right fellow Farm Pirates, I'm perfectly happy to raise our own food and live by the "use it up, make do or do without" motto.... but dontcha try and get me to give my up dryer. Ain't no way, no how I'm doing this again. Now if you excuse me I'm gonna get my third load of laundry going today. I should be caught up on a summer's worth of wash by this afternoon.

Happy Monday everyone! Anybody else got clothesline rage?
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