13 March 2017

A rough night for the Goats and Steve.

Steve posted to face book.
(Some of his friends are also homestead people)

Something upset the goats last night which woke me up at like 1145. I wen't out to see what was going on, couldn't really tell. The were out of their area, out side the fencing, and milling around. They went back in with no trouble but I didn't do a full head count. I went back to bed. And got up again to see what was wrong. One of the goats was upset. I went in to see what the problem was and 2 of her kids were missing. I looked around, checked the fence (in the dark in the woods wondering if there was a Bear or something about to eat me) I couldn't find them or see any signs of what had happened. I spent like an hour and a half wandering around looking. Nothing.
This morning we're out there for milking and as I'm headed back to feed the pigs they start to come out from under the deck. I'm really happy about that.
Too much stress.
I'm going to get some game cameras.

Rob Adams commented.
Coyotes? Glad the kids returned!

Steve replied.

No idea. We've got it all out here. Bobcats, panthers, Bears, wild dogs, poisonous snakes, hogzilla. I was really wondering, what would carry off two goat kids. Sure one would be realistic, but two? I though maybe there was an owl or something but how? I've never heard of or seen one animal scoop up two smaller ones and run off.
We're going to cage up the kids at night for a while. Goats live on routine so after a week or two they'll just go to bed.
I'll probably end up buying some hog panels and make a pen we can close them up in at night, more room than a big dog crate.

I don't usually have a lot to post about. It just doesn't occur to me very often.
Last night was noteworthy and I'm very glad I'm not posting about dead or missing critters today. After a rough night for me seeing the kids come out from under the back deck was fantastic. I couldn't have been happier. 

We moved the goat fencing around, shortening it and moving the rest around the pig pen. I think that our energizer is struggling with the full amount of fencing the way it was set up. There is a noticeable charge now further away from the energizer. I think we'll need to get a more powerful energizer if we want to reconnect all the fencing again. 

19 February 2017

Red level cuteness alert

We have kids on the ground ...
Chocolate's twins, born 6 Feb:
one boy, one girl (already sold)

Prim's twins, born 15 Feb,
one boy and one girl
Tangie's single daughter, born 16 Feb

26 January 2017

Big honkin' update

OK, so the honking is courtesy of the neighbor's ill-humored goose ... actually, is there any other kind?  Big update - pretty much a month's worth because I've either been busy, or been sulking because I'd rather be busy instead of my back hurting.

Chocolate is getting fat.  She is starting to look like she swallowed a whole watermelon and it got stuck sideways in her midsection.  She's the first I expect to kid, around Valentine's Day.  Prim is about two weeks' (at most?) behind her there, with Tangie supposed to be after that, then Molly.  Flora is still not pregnant, but then again she still looks to be growing.  She's now almost as tall as her mother, Molly.

Pigs are still doing fine.  It looks like they may be done growing up for the most part, so that means Boston Butt's days are numbered for sure.  He's still the smallest in the pen, and Cerridwen is still the biggest.

Still no baby bunnies yet ... I have not figured out where I am going wrong on this project.  At least they all let me pet them at feeding time now.

The two hatches of Wyandotte chicks are growing, growing, and growing!  I'm planning for a third hatch soon.  Checking the calendar, it says February 5th & 6th are good days to set eggs.  I've decided not to replace any of the Silkies from here out.  They just don't seem hardy enough to thrive here with my management style.  Either that, or I got very high-maintenance Silkies.  That ought to give me more room to grow out more Wyandottes.

Now, for the planting idea.  When I talked to Sis for my birthday, she said an indoor herb garden is her big 2017 project.  I mentioned that I've been researching to grow a big ol' mess of herbs here as well, and she says I need to post up everything I find out.  Those will be separate posts, but to start with: put ALL seeds in the refrigerator.  Store them there, until you are ready to plant them.  Off the top of my head, parsley and sage both need one and two weeks fridge time, respectively.  I don't recall what others you mentioned having, so either comment here or send an email to give me the list to look up.

I think I can now say I have graduated from a black thumb to a brown thumb.  No, I am not suddenly overrun with mint (though I would welcome that) but I am having a lot better success with starting seeds.  In the case of the Roma (VF) tomato seeds, a little too much success for me to handle on my own.  So, here's the story:  I ordered seeds directly from Burpee, including a true-breeding strain of Roma (VF) tomatoes.  They mailed it out on December 5th, and tracking had no other updates so I emailed their customer service on the 15th.  They canceled that order, made a new one, and mailed that out on the 18th.  That package arrived between Christmas and New Year's, so I was happy and forgot about it.  A little before my birthday, I open up what i thought was a scrip refill from VA, but it was seeds from Burpee ... the lost shipment.  I plant those seeds first, because I figure at best I'll get half to sprout.  Oh yeah, and I planted the entire package - which said 250 seeds, but there was more like 270.

I have 264 Roma tomato starts!  And this is after my neighbor Marty bought a couple last night.  I've also put 50 Little Gem lettuce starts in a bed, and probably the same amount of "Toy Choi" pak choi in another bed, with some of both left over for Marty again.  (She also got the Old German sucker that I knocked off the parent plant while transplanting.)  Pretty much all those seeds from the lost package are sprouting quick, fast, and in large numbers.  Now add to that a second flat of seeds, with 51 Boxcar Willie tomatoes, and 81 Pruden's Purple (actually a dark pink) tomato starts.  It's probably a good thing the Black Krim, Aunt Ruby's German Green, and Big Rainbow seeds were all too old to sprout.

I also have Red Russian kale, three varieties of broccoli, a colorful mix of cauliflower, Bloomsdale spinach, four kinds of sweet pepper, and six kinds of greens sprouted.  No joke.  Lynn (my friend who owns/runs a plant nursery) says it's because I am using better quality seed, actual seed starting mix, and am doing things at the right time.  Along with all that, I've also been reading and learning how to plant, along with when to plant for Zone 9b and by the astrological calendar.  Laugh if y'all want, but it is all coming together a lot better this year than the past five years.

This should give y'all an idea of what I've got going.  Meanwhile, I'd like to get another bed planted before it rains this afternoon.

24 December 2016

Happy holidays y'all

Got a very nice card from Dad that I feel is just perfect for this year.  (I also got a card from my sister, cute in its own right.)  So here it is to share with everyone.
lovely card from Dad
The only change I'd make to the artwork would be to put the cardinals on an evergreen pine, instead of being amid all that cold, evil white stuff.  Other than that, the "quiet beauty of a peaceful Christmas season" definitely fits out here ... when the goats aren't getting out, or the pigs doing their "starving swine" routine (that reminds me of the 30 pound fat cat doing the "starving kitty" routine up in Tennessee), or the growing little chicks crying for more food ... well, the rabbits and gardens are pretty quiet.

I hadn't intended to grump here, but my back is bothering me yet again - third weekend in a row, in fact.  A couple weeks ago, when I was having trouble even standing up straight, I quipped to hubby, "And this is why VA pays me to stay home."  Bleh.  This isn't a good day for this, as I have things I want to do, like bake cookies, then ice and decorate them for tomorrow, finish planting another round of seeds in the starting tray(s), and oh yeah, I should probably clear out the fridge of unauthorized science projects to make room for leftovers from tomorrow when hubby's parents come down.  We're having the last leg of Pork Chop, the feeder pig from the spring.  Hubby gave it a nice hickory smoking yesterday, so not much to do tomorrow.

I suppose I could hook up some hats for up there.

21 December 2016

Solstice chick update

So today is the winter solstice.  The good news is, the days won't get any shorter than today - they'll incrementally get longer until the summer solstice.  The bad news is, the cold has not yet hit.  As much as I hate cold weather, I hope we can get a few days of frost to kill off the fleas which have staged a major invasion here in the 75+ weather we've been having.

The first batch of chicks hatched last month are happily growing.  We still give them a lot of food, but it doesn't seem possible to keep food in front of them at all times as the voracious little monsters hoover it up rather quickly.  I got weights this morning (forgot last night, and the previous two Tuesday evenings!) for the four week mark.  Two runts at 5.1 and 5.2 ounces, one in the middle at 5.5 ounces, (those appear to be cockerels) one pullet at 7.3 ounces, one "not-sure-just-yet" at 7.9 ounces, and one pullet weighing in at a hefty 8.0 ounces.  The big girl looks pretty good shape-wise, although her legs are a sooty color.
Pollux watching his latest batch of Wyandotte babies

left to right: a runt, the not-sure-yet and the dark blob is the big girl

on right, that's the big pullet's butt ...
looking closer that is a nice wide tail set!

Wyandotte chicks
I have a second batch of Wyandotte chicks, hatched out Friday.  Fifteen total, but one may be a cull if its neck doesn't straighten out better.  It appeared to be malpositioned in the egg.  This bunch is from only two breeding groups: Azar x the Sisters, and Tiny x the Pretties.  Week zero weights are: one at 1.2 ounce, one at 1.3 ounce, seven at 1.4 ounce, two at 1.5 ounce, and four at 1.6 ounce (all from Tiny x the Pretties).  Looks about the same as the first hatch, but I won't be able to compare again until week four because I missed weeks two and three on the first hatch.  Ah well, I'll get numbers for each week before summer hits this time.
new batch of Wyandotte chicks, hatched 16 Dec
The great possum war rages on, with egg thief number seven trapped and dispatched the previous weekend.  Something tripped the larger trap overnight, but was not caught, so I'll be looking for number eight in the traps soon.

Hubby has been busy the past week:
tree clean-up
That's a water oak behind him, and yes it came down on the workshop.  Given the size of the tree, that's really not much damage to the workshop roof.  The hurricane in early October partially uprooted this water oak (and about three other trees, but further back on the property) and it's basically been hanging for two months as we couldn't figure how to get it down without landing on the pig pen, the workshop, the power line, or the house.  It must have got tired of waiting on us, because it came down last Wednesday evening - and there was hardly any wind that night, so it came down straight.  I did need to call out the power company to get it off the power line to the main box, but we didn't actually lose power, so again not as bad as it could have been.

If I don't post again before the holidays, hope everyone has good ones, and hope y'all are enjoying all the warm weather!

03 December 2016

First try at making lotion

First, a confession.  I do not truly have a "black thumb," (as opposed to Mom's green thumb) but perhaps just a brown thumb.  The one species of plant I have always been able to not only keep alive, but have it thrive, is the aloe.  Yup, the burn plant has always done well for me ... okay, except when I had Twilight the indoor Terrorist Kitty who actually ate aloe plants.  She was quite strange even before she came back to me as a goat (now Chocolate, my blue-eyed Little Monster).

So, with a large number of aloe plants my mother-in-law gave me, and more peeking up around those plants, I have been researching things to do with aloe.  I have the stuff I need to make soap, just waiting on a day my back is more inclined to tolerate standing at the stove for the long stirring step in hot process soapmaking.  I also have the stuff needed to make my own lotion, and found a small batch recipe here.

So, I just gave it a try.  It will need some tweaking, but my first attempt was:
1 oz (by weight) olive oil
3 oz (by weight) coconut oil - solid at current room temp
30 g wax (clear cheese wax, I used a vegetable peeler to slice it off the block)
35 g aloe gel - one large fat leaf's worth
first batch of aloe lotion
I melted the wax and oils together, giving it a short zap in the microwave (30 seconds per zap) to heat it.  I probably should have measured out the aloe gel first, since it was trying to congeal as I was still scraping the leaf.  No fragrance, and definitely no colorant used, as I am not trying for anything fancy, just useful.

We're supposed to be riding the weather roller coaster ... a couple days in the 80sF, then rain, then chance of frost immediately behind the rain.  This has been the pattern the previous winters, and from listening to the locals it's perfectly normal.  When the cold hits, and hubby lights the wood-burning stove, the new lotion will get its stress test as that is when my skin gets SO dry and itchy.

Even if I end up not liking the "feel" of this first lotion, it will still make excellent udder balm for the goats.  It even looks like Udder Balm.