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.