Saturday, April 30, 2011

Goats Behaving Badly

Today we're bringing the "little boys", Blackjack, Barley & Buckley, down to the lower pen. Firstly, because Blackjack is just not holding his own very well against Spike & Archie, and secondly, because the little ones, Barley and Buckley, have "come of age".

Having no sons, I was not prepared for the trauma of watching my sweet boys turn into rutting, sex-obsessed playboys overnight. Granted, they are all still sweet, a trait not often found in bucks, but they are also trying to hump everything that moves. Men!

Bill caught Barley & Blue in the act - more than once. I don't know who I'm more disappointed in. Barley boy, that's your Auntie Blue! No-no! Not cool, man. Blue, dear, you are nine years his senior. Cougar behavior is not encouraged here in the Hollow. I hope that your new nickname, Mary Kay LaTourngeaut is punishment enough to discourage future dalliances with the babies.

Aside from the inappropriateness of it all, I'm a little worried for Blue if this pregnancy does take. She is a wee-bitty tiny lass, small even for a Nigerian, and Barley is a Mini-LaMancha, about twice the size of Blue when full grown. How big might this baby be? Not to mention that Blue is getting on in years. Fretting now...

Friday, April 22, 2011

For the Record, week of 4/16-4/22/11

Milking - Including what we had to chuck because Chardy stepped in the bucket, about 6 ounces (one milking).

Eggs - We're averaging 4 eggs per day. Rose & Grace are laying inconsistently, but all three of the other girls are giving us an egg per day without fail.

Garden - Planted one additional raspberry cane out along the road, and cleared more space to the south of the raspberries in which I'm going to plant some peas & pole beans. I'm going to butt them up against the chain link fence and let them crawl on that. I intend to put peas & pole beans in the garden as well, I just like the idea of having some snacky foods planted right along the road for passersby to enjoy. ;)

Bill also planted some hop rhizomes that he got from J & G along that same stretch of fence, but on the opposite side. We don't know their variety. We're hoping that they will climb the fence too. Besides being a critical ingredient in Bill's beer, they are also really pretty little things when in bloom.

Foraging - Collected and plucked 5 ounces of dandelions today. It might not sound like much, but it ended up being a few cups worth of petals. I'm freezing them as I go until the dandelions peter out, at which point I'll start as big a batch of wine as I can manage with the total number of petals I end up with. That dandelion wine is gooood stuff!

Seedlings & Starts - Potted up 6 Cinderella Pumpkin plants, 9 Mammoth Melting Peas, 3 Cilantro, 2 Kentucky Pole Beans and 3 Nasturtiums for the school plant sale. I'm leaving them out tonight for the first time in an attempt to further harden them off. Lets hope that I'm not murdering them with my optimistic gamble.

Started 5 more Cinderella pumpkin seeds 3 days ago, as well as 6 sugar pumpkins. All but 2 of the 11 seeds sown have germinated. I also have a tray full of Dark Opal Basil and Lime Basil germinating in the kitchen windowsill. I have historically had terrible luck with basil, so my fingers are crossed for these babies to thrive.

Critters - We're going to take Barley & Blackjack to the vet for checkups, as they have a slight limp and a runny nose, respectively. Blackjack's nose and eyes have been exhibiting symptoms of cold/allergy off and on for a while now, so we're going to have him looked at to see if he needs any meds or treatment to get well or if it just needs to run its course. Barley has a slight limp that seems to come and go, making us wonder if he was injured while horsing around with the other kids, or was perhaps stepped on by a mama goat. We'll see what the doc says.

Gertie is looking quite pregnant. She's wider than ever and her rectum/vaginal area is bulging somewhat. (Sorry for the vivid details!) We have not been able to feel fetal movement at all, but she does have a very thick coat and is still just under a month away from delivery, so I'm trying to remain positive that all is well in her little belly. I guess we'll see, come the second week of May.

That's about all for now. Hopefully by this time next week we will have, at a minimum, made a little more progress on the new coop and will also have mowed the very rapidly growing grass.

Milking, Day 1

Oh what a lot of trouble for a little bit of nothing!

I started with Chardy, who was uncharacteristically cranky today. She wiggled and kicked and eventually stepped in the bucket, ruining what little (very little) milk I'd managed to get. Her left side wouldn't let down anything at all, no matter what I did. I estimate that I maybe got 2 ounces out of her. :(

Next I tried Blue, even though I hadn't really had any plans to milk her. But she hopped right up on the stand, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Hooboy. If I thought Chardy was antsy... Blue was stepping this was and that, trying to elude my grasp. She honest to God looked like a flamenco-dancing donkey. I need to get this on video. No milk at all from Blue.

Last was Fritzen. She is turning out to be the most patient milker, even though she is physically a little more difficult to milk than Chardy. Her teats are smaller, and up until last week when Cassie shaved her udder for me, she was so crazy hairy that it was hard to milk her without pulling out a ton of hair in the process, which grossed me out and pissed her off, all at the same time. I got (after filtering) 4 ounces from Fritzen.

So after an hour or so of chase the goat/dodge the hoof, I have a whole 1/4 cup of milk to show for it. Things had better get better. Quick.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Digs

The baby chicks have made the move to their brand spankin' new big kid coop! And of course, today is the day that my camera decided to die, so I don't have any pictures to share of my happy chickens enjoying my husband's fine craftsmanship. :(

Billy worked his hiney off on that coop, and though there is still work to be done yet before it is officially complete, it's up and it's chock full of peepers tonight. Thank God, because the funk and dust/dander that those little buggers generate in a day is astounding, and was yucking the hot tub room up BAD. Now I get the joy of decontaminating the room of it's current smell - eau de chicken butt. The glamor never ends.

Friday, April 1, 2011

For the Record, week of 3/26-4/1/11

Since for some reason writing it down here is easier than plugging it into my farm journal -

Foraged this past week-
*1 lb, 4 oz stinging nettles
*Approx 2 cups of dandelion petals

The critters-
*Averaging 3 eggs per day
*Epic amounts of critter poo everywhere I look. Oy.
*Peanut the Silver Spangled Hamburg chick died.
*Bought three Barred Rock chicks to replace our lost chickies.
*Started adding Hilton Herbs Daily Hen Health Poultry Compound to the chickens' water. They seem to be digging it so far!
*Listed baby bunnies for sale on Craigslist, only one has been spoken for so far.
*Listed Spike & Archie for sale on Craigslist, have had zero inquiries about them. :(

*Started 6 "Cinderella" pumpkin seeds on Monday, 5/6 have sprouted so far.
*Started a flat (12 seeds) of "Homemade Pickles" cucumbers today
*Pole Beans, peas, nasturtiums, cilantro & arugula are all growing well. Beans & Peas need to be re-potted and hardened off ASAP. I hope to get them planted out by next weekend at the latest.

*Working on two knitted blankets off and on.
*Bill plans to have the new coop ready (enough) to move the little chicks into by the end of this weekend. YAY! I'd forgotten exactly how bad baby chicken poop smells. I remember now.
*Critter pen/cage cleanings all around this weekend. Bleh!
*Bottle last year's dandelion wine.
*Go nettle & dandy picking, time permitting.