Thursday, June 30, 2011


We finally got our Henry Milker in the mail today, and took it for a spin straight away. We had a little trouble at the start, as one of the holes in the modified lid wasn't bored out completely, and wouldn't let the milk flow into the jar. A little poking around and, problem solved.

We tried the milker out on all three of our lactating does, but only got decent results with one, Fritzen. Her milk seemed to flow best out of her right udder, at about 5-7 pounds of pressure, per the gauge. Chardonnay just would not let her milk down. I got a few squirts out hand milking, but the pump just didn't do it for her. Gertie, the first time Mama/milker of the lot, was that hardest to milk. I got a few dribbles and drops out of her, but she was very antsy, and frankly, mostly milked out already by Miss Violet by the time we got her onto the stand.

My plan for tomorrow is to turn the ladies out to graze for an hour or so before trying to milk, in the hope that they will "refill" from having fed their babies that morning, and have a lil' sumthin'-sumthin' for Mama.

I was nervous to try the milk for the first time. In fact, it grossed me out a little. I was the same way about eating the first eggs from our chickens. It felt odd to be eating something with my "pet"'s DNA in it. I told myself, They're farm animals, this is their gig!, but it still felt weird.

Until it didn't.

I guess I'll just have to hang in there until I feel the same way about the goats' milk. The kids and Bill are already on board. The girls had little cream moustaches after trying their first sips of homegrown milk. They both commented on how sweet it was, and actually finished up all 6 ounces of today's milk with their dinner, before having to switch to the store-bought organic cow's milk. Now, I just need to get the supply and demand thing matched up with my goaties, and we'll be off and running. :)

Cajeta, here I come! :)

For the Record:
*4 eggs
*6 oz milk! :)))

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New in the Garden 6/26/11

Today Scarlet-girl and I went to the Farmers Market to pick up a few seedlings to put in the garden to replace a few plants that croaked/got murdered by slugs.

Our haul-

*3 green cabbage
*3 red cabbage
*six pack of mixed lettuces
*2 English cucumbers
*2 Black Tail watermelons (red fleshed)
*2 Yellow-fleshed watermelons (They were called gold or yellow something. Gold Star? Yellow Sunshine? Something like that.)

Both vendors who sold me my new plants assured me that they were suitable for growing in Western Washington. Seriously? Watermelon and hothouse cucumbers in 60-degree slugville? I ventured a whopping $10 on it, so I guess we'll have to wait and see. ;)

I've been meaning to mulch the garden with goat poop for like, two weeks now. And it keeps not getting done. Bad Chelle!

In spite of my neglect, we have peas, strawberries, tomatillos and Stupice tomatoes all blooming, so I'm assuming that means that they're not wanting for too much. I'll try to think of the goat poop mulch as a bonus, then, instead of an urgent necessity.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

For the Record, week of 6/13-6/19/11

The garden is still getting its feet under it, and growth has been s-l-o-w, despite my fertilizing and fretting over it. I guess that this soil is just not as plant friendly as we'd thought it might be.

We've also had some slug problems. Bill is planning to set out some beer traps. God help us if the goats get into them!

New in the garden this week -
*1 row (about 12 seeds) of Giant Greystripe Sunflowers
*1 row of French Breakfast Radishes (the first row got hit hard by something - we think slugs)
*1 row of Golden Improved Wax Beans
*1 row of Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans
*Re-seeded a few pumpkins that didn't make it

Still pondering about where to squeeze my beets in. I'd normally fret over having started them too late, but with this early spring-like weather in what is about to be summer, well, I'm just not that worried about it. Now whether or not my stuff will ever get enough sun to do anything, is another question entirely.

Our new roo, Thunder, is fitting in nicely. We had him in a separate run/house right next to Curly so that they could get to know each other a little before moving in together. Just yesterday we put the two together, and things are going fine. Thunder is definitely more interested in Curly than she is in him, but that's ok. He's not being rough with her at all, so I think we'll leave them together unless relations go downhill.

Hop's ear infection seems to be clearing up well. The vet called back yesterday to check on her, and I was glad to report that she was back up to being her sassy, bouncy self. Bill's been giving her her ear drops each night (no easy feat), and tonight I'm going to try and irrigate her ear, just to make sure that we don't have any residual gunk down in there.

I hope that I'm not jinxing us by saying this, but right now everybody is happy and healthy and looking good. :)

Tonight Bill racked & bottled our beer and wine. His beer is a ringwood ale, and I *think* that he made 5 gallons of it, which ends up being about 2 cases of beer (I think). He racked our two gallons of rhubarb wine that was started back in November. We'll bottle it in another 3 months or so. The dandelion wine was bottled, and made 9 wine bottles worth, after occasional sips and samples on the sly took their toll. The dandelion was started in April, 2010, so we were actually a little bit late in bottling.

While Bill bottled our booze, I snuck a little of our kegged hard apple cider, and a bit of our rhubarb wine, and inoculated them with some of the "mother" from some store-bought natural apple cider vinegar. I filled the bottles just over half full, leaving plenty of air space for the oxygen to move through the liquid and let the acetobacter breathe and do it's thing. I topped both bottles with a double-thickness of cheesecloth, and rubber banded it on. It is supposed to take 4-8 weeks to go from alcohol to vinegar, but as I'm storing it above the stove, and summer is on it's way (supposedly), this small first batch may convert faster. My fingers are crossed!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

For the Record, week of 6/6-6/12/11

This has been a mostly sunny but mild week, weather-wise. A few little showers here and there - just enough to keep things growing but not ruin anybody's day. ;) As a result of our sunny but not hot weather, we've all found ourselves with a little more energy, and have been spending more time outside working.

Scarlet has been, as ever, my number one garden helper. Today we planted 36 Yukon Chief corn starts, 1 row of French Breakfast radishes & 1/2 row of Red-cored Chantenay carrots. Coming up next are the wax beans and pole beans, which have gone nuts under the grow lights and are ready to go in the ground and do their thing.

I still need to find a place to shimmy in some beets. Maybe between the rows of peas & beans?

In critter news, we had a sick little goat this week. While trimming and cleaning hooves earlier this week, we noticed that Hop had copious amounts of yellow discharge coming out of her right ear. We'd noticed a week or two before that she wasn't quite acting herself, but never did see anything wrong until we had her in the stanchion for grooming. Poor girl! I took her to the vet the next day, where they flushed her ear. The vet said that there was a LOT of gunk in there, but no foreign objects. The likely reason that she got infected is because she has such small ears (as do many Lamanchas) that can't "breathe" that well. So we're giving her ear drops once per day, and are going to irrigate her ears with a solution of one part silver sulfadiazine cream dissolved into 9 parts distilled water. If worst comes to worst, she can have the opening to her ear surgically enlarged. Boy I hope that it doesn't come to that, because that sounds spendy! Our wonderful vet, Dr. Natalee, said that in a production dairy, Hop would no doubt have been culled for this tiny defect. We're just not that intense here, but it does make me think twice about ever breeding her, even though she comes from excellent bloodlines. Luckily I have a while to think it over.

We also aquired a new roo this week who the girls have named Thunder (no pic of Thunder-chicken yet, but he looks just like this guy.). He is a white-crested black polish, like Curly, but not a frizzle, like Curly, which is a good thing, because breeding a frizzle to a frizzle doesn't work out well. The feather curling gene goes haywire and produces a "Curlie" who's feathers are overly curled and brittle. So if/when Curly and Thunder fall madly in love and have babies, about 75% of the chicks should be frizzle. I can't wait!!!

The guy who raised Thunder up to this point lives in city limits, and therefore can't have a roo. So he gave us Thunder and we gave him an Australorp hen. A good trade for all concerned.

Besides all of that gardening and critter care, this week was fairly low-key. The kiddos have just a couple weeks of school left, so I'm trying to get all of my do-not-disturb type chores out of the way before I have myself a couple of shadows 24/7. I'm forgetting something huge, I just know it.

Weekly totals-
-20 eggs
-4 knit dishcloths finished

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Our Guests in the Pasture

We've been seeing this doe here and there a lot lately, but this is the first time that I got a pic of her and her babies in the front yard.

Click on a photo to see it larger.

We usually see these turkeys up in the back pasture, behind the goats. In fact, I stumbled upon the place where they have been bedding down when I was cutting down some scotch broom to feed the goats. A fawn came rocketing out of the brush and about scared me to death. Besides the sneak attacks and the tree nibbling, I actually don't mind having the deer around too much. They are welcome to all of the grass, dandelions and scotch broom that their bellies can hold, I just need them to leave my poor baby cherry tree the heck alone, and we will all get along just fine. ;)

The Egg Ledger

Bill has just started the girls keeping records on our egg production and sales. We're trying to teach the girls a little lesson in accounting, supply & demand, etc. It'll be interesting to see after a month or so if the chickens are really earning their keep in terms of egg revenues versus feed costs.

I don't know if Bill has a solid number for how much the new coop ended up costing us to build, but if we factored that in, we'd be in the red for years to come yet. I feel like the infrastructure items like fencing and outbuildings are more of an investment in the property than they are in just the animals that they are built for so I don't feel like we're cheating if we don't count them as liabilities against our egg income.

Lately we've been averaging 4-5 eggs per day, with the pullets not yet due to commence laying until August or thereabouts. When those gals are up and running at 100%, we should be getting about 20 eggs per day. We currently get 2 to 2 1/2 dozen eggs per week and have been selling them for $4 dozen, which is a steal for free range organic eggs. After all, the booth I once saw at Pikes Place Market had "heirloom eggs" identical to ours for sale for $8 per dozen! Seventy-five cents per egg - good gravy!

If you live in Thurston County and are interested in some beautiful organic eggs, give us a buzz and we'll put you on our list. livysmom27 at yahoo dot com. ;)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What's Happenin' - 6/5/11

Scarlet and I finally put the strawberries in today. I'd been thinking of waiting and giving them their own plot, but as busy as we've been, I couldn't really afford to wait any longer, lest I miss strawberry season altogether, which would be highly lame.

So anyway, the strawberries are in the garden. Eight plants in all -
*3 Rainier
*2 Hood
*1 Benton
*2 Shuksan (which are supposed to be the best strawberries on earth!)

We shimmied them in in their own little row, between the yellow carrots and the shelling peas. We primed the soil with a few shovelsful of bunny poop and straw, the watered the holy heck out of them. I hope we're not too late to get some berries this year!

In addition to putting the berries in, I side-dressed pretty much everything with still more bunny poop. I want to take some before and after pics so that I can fairly evaluate how well the bunny poo works.

The tomatoes and squash have sort of just stagnated since being planted, hopefully this little manure boost will get them growing.

I noticed one Burgess Buttercup and one Early Yellow Squash sprout today - yay! The cilantro, lettuces and arugula have all really taken off, so it seems that we will at least have a boatload of salad this summer, if nothing else. ;)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Under the Grow Lights

Waiting for their turn in the sun, that is, if they ever wake up -

*48 Yukon Chief Corn
*12 Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans
*12 Golden Yellow Wax Beans
*7 Scarlet Runner Beans
*8 Job's Tears (grown for ornamental seeds)

Where they will go, once they're grown and ready is still a mystery, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it I guess. The weather has been rain showers and sunbreaks for the past few days which seems to be working just fine for everything that's already planted out. It's enough rain that I don't have to water and of course the sunshine is always welcome. I worry a bit about fungus & mildew with this mild, wet weather, but since when had worrying ever helped?

Once the squash and 'maters show me that they have a good foothold, I'm going to bring in a little goat-poopy straw and mulch them. I also need to make a little trellis for the peas to climb, should they ever find the energy to do so. This is a pace that I can manage. The garden has been work, but still feels fun. I hope that my momentum continues when those first weeds appear in my newly turned soil. ;)