10 September 2017

Pre-hurricane check-in

It's about 1300 here, and we've been getting rain and a small bit of wind off the Atlantic all morning.  Internet has been in and out with the rain but power is still on at present.  Just to review: we have a new generator, two oil lamps (had to put olive oil in them, no lamp oil in town), two WaterBobs, one of which we'll put into the bathtub after showers and fill with 100 gallons of water, and three bags of charcoal to cook out with Tuesday, which is forecast to be clear and sunny behind the storm.  Here's hoping the storm weakens before getting up here.

05 September 2017

More goat pics and hurricane prep

First, yes we know about the coming hurricane and are making preparations.  No, we aren't evacuating.  Yes, we know this one is a lot stronger than Matthew last year.  Hubby is getting ready to go to town to buy a generator and more drinking water today, since the generator we bought used from our neighbor last year doesn't want to stay running and the new spark plug didn't fix the situation.

Now, for the fun part: more goat pics.  I'd like y'all to meet Cocoa Puff, granddaughter of both Prim and Chocolate (offspring of Cocoa and Harry Houdini).  Hubby and I took pics back in April of her bottle feeding, and I just have not posted them, though I've been promising to do so since May.  Feeding a bottle baby, from hubby's point of view, then mine:
bottle feeding Cocoa Puff, back in April

what I see when bottling a kid

the lower the milk level, the more sleepy the eyes get
 For a much more recent pic of her ... well, only one is in focus enough to bother posting.  She usually comes up to me when she notices me, wanting attention.  Bottle babies are VERY affectionate goats.
Cocoa Puff at approximately six months old
Yes, she has horns.  I tried to disbud her, but when that 900F + disbudding iron touches the horn bud, you realize there is no amount of reading, YouTubing, or planning that can substitute for experience.  I've banded her horns, but am wondering if the bands have lost some of their elasticity since I bought them a good six months ago.  Both she and Maggie (formerly called Two, of Molly's triplets) have bells on their collars.  Cocoa Puff was the main reason for buying the bells: she doesn't stay in the fence any better than either of her parents did here (and Frank says Harry has figured out a weak spot in their fence now) and now instead of wriggling through the gaps in the electronetting, Cocoa Puff, noses up the bottom unelectrified strand and shimmies under the fence.  She snuck up on me in the feed shed one morning, and that was when I decided she must be belled.  She stills tries to sneak into the feed shed some mornings when I'm getting the chicken feed ready, but other mornings she remembers that I tell her, "No!" and shove her out the shed.

I may not get any more pictures of the twins - they are definitely in the "bounce-bounce-zip-zip-ZOOM!" stage.  They also enjoy attention, and will come up to the fence and "Meh! Meh!" for petting, patting, and ear rubs despite their mother's warnings.  Blue Eyes also seems to enjoy climbing on us, especially hubby.  She's been up on his shoulders a few evenings while I've been milking.

Prim had cycled the morning Chocolate kidded, but apparently didn't settle as Brownie was doing his billy goat job again this morning, after breeding Chocolate and maybe Tangie last evening.  It looks like I won't be getting new baby goat kids for my birthday in January after all, but Prim, Chocolate, and likely Tangie will all be kidding the same week in early February (unless they don't settle this time).  I do need to take Maggie up to Frank and Caroline's, but I think I'll wait until after the hurricane since they live pretty close to the river.

I have a cheese to make today - I've been making 2-4 cheeses per week with the amount of milk brought in.  My cheddars have been sharper than I like, but hubby loves a seriously sharp cheddar and has been snacking on them when he hasn't been incorporating them in our meals.  Something was off with the Monterey Jacks, but the Colby cheeses ... they are gone and certainly did not last long at all.  I am making more, but they do need about eight weeks of aging in the wine refrigerator.  When hubby unwaxed and cut into the first one, he commented, "I think you're gonna be very pleased with this one."  My response: "Oh yeah, THIS is the real Colby flavor!"  It really is sad that not even the blocks of "colby" at the grocery taste right these days, and it has been a while since I've seen a real longhorn Colby in the deli case.  I do sometimes see a real Swiss cheese - in fact, it even has the name the Swiss call it on the label: Emmental.  The regular ladies at the deli counter know about my dairy goats and that I make cheeses, but sometimes don't recall that I don't make Swiss.  They do love hearing about the goats' antics.  When we turn off the AC later this month, I'll need to make some Butterkases (there's an umlatt over the a, but I don't know how to make it show up on my keyboard), as that is what the in-laws have asked for as a Christmas present.  They tried my one Butterkase last year, and said while it was drier than it should be, the flavor was spot-on.

Okay, break time is over.  I'll get caught up after the summer of silence eventually.

18 August 2017

Chocolate's twin girls at ten days old

So I followed the goats around, had several incidents of the older ones photo-bombing my pics, and got quite a few pics of the back ends of Chocolate and often the twins as well as Chocolate led them away from me and that flashy thing I was holding.  Here are just the pics of Chocolate and the very very cute kids at ten days old.
I call this little girl Blue Eyes
(no, not very imaginative)

Chocolate and her twins

the twins have figured out how to jump up on the trunk sections

the usual pose the twins take -
they are bottomless pits!

this girl is my favorite,
Little Firecracker
A note on Firecracker (I figure Blue Eyes' name is obvious): She wasn't even 36 hours old when I saw her lower her head, bounce unsteadily, and make a little noise like she intended to butt heads with her sire.  I remarked to hubby, "This one is gonna be a little firecracker!"  The name just fits.

Both twins are taking the bottle now in the morning.  We had to start crating them at night once Blue Eyes discovered she is the right size to go through the fence.  We don't want a repeat of "lost kids in the night" ... ever.  Needless to say, the twins are voraciously hungry in the morning, and happily take the bottle then.

08 August 2017

New goat kids

After a week of being on kidding watch, Chocolate finally delivered twin girls late this morning.  Even though she still looks big enough to have one or even two more inside, she's already passed the placenta, which *usually* means she is done.  (* There have been the odd cases where the dam has either had stuck babies after the placenta was passed, or even more rare cases where she had two placentas.  Chocolate has no history of that herself though.)
doeling #1 under mama

doeling #2 racking out for a nap

Tangie needed her pic taken, also

Prim looking on from a very safe distance

Chocolate and doeling #1 again
I was there for both deliveries, and toweled the tiny things off.  I've tried bottle feeding both, but only #2 took to it - although she took to it like a duck to water.  Later, she took to mam's teat with the same enthusiasm.  Doeling #1 threw her head back, with the exact same look in her eye as Rufus has this spring when I tried to get him on the bottle.  She did rack out under my leg a little later while I was waiting for the placenta to pass.  Guess that'll teach me to sit on the ground with one leg up to rest my elbow on my knee.  LOL

For the record, doeling #1 is Chocolate's first daughter to have brown eyes instead of blue.  I can't quite tell yet if she's black and white, or chocolate-brown and white.   I do know I was mostly sand-brown by the time I finally came in ... and I had just washed those clothes yesterday.  It's a dirty job, but I might as well be the one to get dirty doing it.

30 May 2017

Unplanned lamb

My friend Lynn called me around 0900 this morning.  I had just fixed my second mug of coffee, and was carrying it to the desk with the intent of calling her to say Brooke kindled and I have a couple more baby bunnies (Gracie kindled yesterday).

Lynn wasn't calling about rabbits, or chickens, or plants ... one of her lambs got her head caught in the gate somehow, panicked, and severely injured herself.  Lynn wanted to know if I wanted to take her and slaughter her, so the carcass wouldn't go to waste.  I said sure, and got my shoes on and hit the road.

When I got up there and saw the lamb, my heart sank a bit.  This one was their favorite, and a couple days after lambing, Lynn's husband was proudly showing me pics of her on his smartphone.  She even had a name, and they don't usually name their animals.  One look and I could see her neck was indeed severely injured, either dislocated or broken.  Lynn moved the poor little lamb to my front seat, and I took her back home.  She lay quietly for almost the entire trip, but the bumps of the dirt roads must have been painful as she started to flop around and off the seat.  I pulled her back onto the seat, and tried to calm her until we got home.

She got a quick death - I hit the artery on the first cut.  After that, it was almost exactly like skinning and dressing out a goat kid. (Oh, we put two of our boys into the freezer.  Kid tastes like a cross of veal and lamb.)  Two hours after I got her home, she was slaughtered, skinned, dressed, sectioned, and put on ice.  When I called Lynn back to let her know everything went smoothly, I had to reassure her that the poor thing could not be saved.  She could not stand or move properly, and she lost consciousness quickly, and probably never felt the cut from the filet knife (Rada brand, good quality knives).  Lynn thanked me for taking care of this ... the gate incident happened right before they were opening up for business.

Life and death, all in one morning.

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.