Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Squash and Peppers!

After cleaning the barn and milking this morning, our intern and I headed to the garden. The last of the peas were harvested. The heat has sent them to an early grave and they will be plowed as soon as the ground dries out. We staked and tied up the peppers and were thrilled to find a large handful of banana peppers that were ready to be picked. On to the green beans. Another 3/4 of a bushel! The strawberries are waning, but a small basket was picked~ those we washed and had for dessert after lunch. Lastly we checked the squash and picked the first three of the season. A wonderful haul for the day.
After lunch, we packed her take home goodies and she headed home. I put away the harvest and sterilized jars for more canning while waiting for some farm visitors due to arrive. A local writer was having a photo shoot here in the garden and with the animals. The critters were on their best behavior and hammed it up quite shamelessly! After pictures were finished I did the evening round of chores and it was time for supper. As is our usual these summer days it was a late one, after 8. I debated doing some canning, it was a short debate and canning did not win. Maybe tomorrow!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Greener Pastures

Last week the sheep were brought up and wormed. I kept them on a dry lot for 7 days and checked everyone again today. They were given a dose of garlic and moved to the front field to enjoy the deep lush grass. I think I saw them smiling! Yes, they are definitely happy sheep. The lambs are growing by leaps and bounds and I hope to soon have the sales list up. That requires some time and patience as they are not the best subjects to photograph. Soon though..
I have two pastures now empty. One will be allowed to rest for at least the next 30 days and the other we would like to plant with a summer crop. Maybe millet again, but that is still in the works.
Being that today is a holiday we decided to take some time and chill. That meant I could snap green beans by the pool ;o) while the boys tinkered with the tractors.
Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Garden Harvests

With the 5 inches of rain we have gotten over the last week or so, the garden has started producing some things is mass quantities. Green beans being number one this week. A harvest of almost 3 bushels was picked over the course of a few days. Canning has commenced and my kitchen has the tell-tell signs of jars, lids, canners and bowls stacked everywhere!
Thus far about 20 jars have been added to the pantry.

More new potatoes have been harvested, with the bulk to be dug in a couple of weeks. The early garlic has been harvested as well and now awaits cleaning. The last of the watermelon radishes were pulled and I plan to try some lacto-fermentation with them. These radishes were great fun to grow. They are large, almost turnip size and have a white skin and bright pink flesh. I did find that they were better peeled. (See the "Eating" blog for more info.on the fermentation )
And so summer harvests have begun and like little squirrels we are busy preparing for the winter....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Harvesting Herbs

With the help of our intern we harvested an incredible amount of herbs this past week. Parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme and chives. Lots of chives! Lots of lemon balm as well. Most were dehydrated. The lemon balm was bruised and put in ice cube trays to add some zip to water and tea.
An overabundance of chives lead to some experimenting. I made a chive pesto to drizzle over freshly harvested new potatoes and and a chive frittata with farm fresh eggs and cheese. Both were wonderful.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Long Story

When I milked  last Friday one of my girls seemed a bit off. Though she ate, she was not her usual piggy self. I decided to keep a close eye on her. Saturday morning when I got to the barn for the morning milking, she was much worse. I checked her eyes wondering if she may have parasites but she was nice and pink. Hmmm....then I discovered she has a nasty case of diarrhea. I moved her to the back yard where she could graze and gave her some medication to help ease the problem. She was drinking but not interested in food. Once she was comfortable, I started with the other chores only to discover young buck kid down in a different pasture. I could feel the panic starting to rise. What was going on!? Gone 23 hours and all hell breaks loose.
I called the vet for an emergency visit. She was at a loss as to what was going on and agreed that it did not seem to be parasites which tend to be the biggest issue here on the farm this time of year. We treated "symptoms" on my big doe and unfortunately had to put the young one down. I put him on ice and planned to take him on Monday for a necropsy. I had to know what was happening here. In the meantime, I dumped the evening milk. My big doe was not seeming to get any better as the night approached and I was really worried. I checked her at 4 a.m. and knew she too, was not going to make it. This was a huge blow as she was one of my heaviest milkers and nicest does. I knew that I could not wait until Monday to get results and so when I opened my eyes Sunday morning and my husband asked what I wanted to do for Mother's Day, I told him, drive me to the lab with my now, two dead goats. I called the vet first thing Sunday to get the phone # for the lab. She was shocked to hear I lost her. Since it was the weekend, I had to wait for a return call and make an appointment to meet a tech there. She called back fairly quickly and we were to meet in a couple of hours being that the lab was an hour away. When we got there, she too was amazed at how beautiful and healthy "LuLu" looked. The vet was to come in sometime later that day and would have some preliminary results in the morning around 10. I was still fighting panic and once home watched all the other goats like a hawk. Everyone seemed fine. I once again dumped all the milk. And waited....
Monday, at the stroke of 10 a.m., I called. It seems the young buck had gotten too much grain and most likely the cause of death was bloat. I just found him too late. Tragic, yet nothing contagious. She too, made a comment on how lovely LuLu was and found nothing to indicate what may have happened. No parasites, in general good health. She wanted to know if she could have possibly eaten something poisonous. No. It could be bacterial, salmonella maybe. Tissue samples needed to be sent. I would have to wait another 10 days. She wanted me to vaccinate with a C,D &T which is for several goat diseases and tetanus. I am not a huge fan of vaccines but being that we were dealing with something "unknown" I agreed. I vaccinated Monday afternoon. Now my next dilemma. Is the milk safe to drink? Is there a withdrawal time? I continued to dump milk for the next few days while I made phone calls and did research. Some said yes, dump. Being that the vaccine had to be boostered in 3 weeks that would be 42 days of milking and dumping. I pondered drying everyone up. Finally at weeks end I talked to one of the head vets at the clinic and he said it was safe. Yeah! Milk again. I will toss it for a few days after the booster just for my peace of mind, though the general consensus it that it is not necessary. Still no answers on LuLu and waiting but everyone is healthy and fine.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Going Coastal

A quick 23 hour trip was made to the coast. We are in search of living arrangements for Luke who will be headed to college in Wilmington this Fall. Thankfully with the help of good friends and family we were able to check out his options.
I milked before I left for work yesterday and we hit the road as soon as I got off. Mom covered the evening milking and another friend took this morning. We were back in time for me to catch the evening today. Home again, home again, jiggity, jig!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hay and Beef

The boys have spent the last two evenings putting up the rest of the hay. Our total for the Spring cut is 1260 bales. The barn is full and the balance filled one side of our shed. I feel like I hit the lottery! This should hold us for the year. If we can cut in the Fall most of that will be sold to help recoup the baling expenses like twine, fuel, ect. That will depend solely on the weather and how much rain we get. Right now it is very dry.
While they were doing hay duty today, I headed to Taylorsville to pick up our beef and lamb that was ready. I guess it has been a while since we butchered and when they opened the door with a forklift and a pallet full of boxes, I was shocked. You have got to be kidding! Nope, it was all mine. The back seat of my truck was crammed in the floor and to the windows with boxes, as well as the front seat and the cooler in the bed.On the way home I started making phone calls to see if  I could beg, borrow or steal some freezer space from my sister and my mom. They did some rearranging and after I got back, met me to help get it all divided and put up. My sister took a half and my mom a quarter. We will keep somewhere around a half and the rest will be sold to help make room for chickens that will be processed in a few short weeks. We managed to get all of it in various freezers with the exception of two large boxes of bones.
So for the next few days I will be making large amounts of stock to can and freeze. As soon as the meat was up, I got started. ( For instructions click here )
And that was today!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Clipping Chicken Wings

Some of my laying hens have been serving time in the pen-itentiary  for trespassing in the garden. Today with the help of my intern we clipped wings and released them in the orchard. So far it seems to be working and now everyone is happy. The garden is safe and the girls can scratch and eat all the bad bugs around the fruit trees.
To clip wings:  fan out one wing and clip along the line where the smaller feathers meet the longer ones. Be careful not to get in the blood line. If  you do, move up just a bit.
Next on our list was to weed the blueberries. Again. The strawberries needed picking as well.
We finished today's chores and headed in for a quick bite of lunch. She left and I made the first run of strawberry jam for the year. It turned out beautifully.
I plan to make a couple more batches before strawberry season is over..especially now that Luke has informed me that he will need "provisions" when he heads off to school in the Fall.  On his list was beef, chicken, jam, vegetable soup... Can you see me crossing my eyes?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The One Eyed Woman

I awoke at 3 a.m. and could not open one eye. The bee sting from yesterday. Great. I was also covered in my yearly poison ivy outbreak and scratching like a mad woman. Lovely, a one eyed mad woman. I had to go to work today and one look in the mirror told me I would probably scare all the children. So, for the next few hours I put ice packs on my eye and slathered my arms with anti itch cream! Some of the swelling did go down  and the itch was bearable. Luckily I work in a little country store and most people know me and the shenanigans I tend to get myself in to....