Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Summer Solstice!

The first day of summer here was hot and humid. Nothing unusual about that except that we have been blessed with such wonderful weather up to this point that it feels worse than usual! Here on the farm the summer solstice means we are in full gear with the garden and milking. I am canning, freezing and weeding almost daily now. It means it is time to start dragging hose pipes from here to there on a daily basis as well.
The lambs are about ready to wean, the cashmere goats will start growing their fleeces back out and the remaining goat kids from the spring will be sent to the sale soon or put in the freezer. Our last batch of meat birds will be processed in a couple of weeks. We move at a slower pace but still move ;o)
Today I canned green beans during the heat of the day. I also prepared our traditional summer solstice fare of a cold supper. Homemade chicken salad on a fresh bed of greens with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden. We also had banana peppers stuffed with cheese and broiled. Normally we eat by the pond but with the heat and the fact that the boys had been in it all day, we chose the coolness of the kitchen tonight. Once supper was over, we headed to the garden to finish the picking after the sun had set. More green beans, squash and cucumbers were harvested. We dug the elephant garlic, pulled a few weeds and gathered the eggs. With the exception of the garlic all the vegetables were tucked in the fridge to deal with tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Strange Coincidence

If you have been following us for a while you may remember last year I was stuck down by a nasty virus. It happened to be the Tuesday after processing chickens...
The Monday evening after processing this go round, I started feeling bad and by 9 p.m. I had a temperature of 102*. Coincidence? I think not. However, it did take me a few days to put it all together.
Around day 3, I finally went to the doctor. Mine was not there so I had to see a new one. I dreaded that, as sometimes it is just NOT that easy to explain what we do and how we live. ( My doctor once told me I was one of his most challenging patients!) So, I went in, still with fever and blinding headache. Dr. wants to know what the problem is. I cut to the chase. I butchered 45 chickens Saturday- could it be something from them? (remember we are now catching them in the horse trailer...AND I thought I was SO SMART!) His reply? Good question. Sigh. I knew this was not going to be simple. I answered all of his "farm" questions. I got the distinct feeling he had never met someone that farmed let alone butcher chickens. After some blood work he informed me that my platelets and white blood count was low, consistent with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
I had my doubts, though something was definitely going on. He prescribed a short run of antibiotics, which at that point I was finally willing to take, and told to rest. To that, I laughed out loud and told him he should have been a comedian!
It was not spotted fever and the virus continued on on for two weeks. We are now headed into week three. Another follow up today. Finally fever free for several days and left with the severe headaches the doctor thinks the first virus may have possibly turned into a second one~ viral encephalitis. Hence the bad headaches. He wanted to do yet more tests to which I said no. I am finally starting to feel somewhat better and as long as I am headed in that direction I am good with that. I left today with the promise that I would agree to more tests if I was was not 100% better by next week.
It has been a tough couple of weeks but we have muddled through. I have been able to keep up with the milking and my family has been wonderful catching my slack with other chores. Friends have been awesome as well with the offer of helping hands. I have been able to pull short stints in the garden and the yard but tire easily. Things are looking up and I hope to be up to full speed very soon!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Freezing Chickens

All of the whole chickens were sold and most were picked up today. That left me with the 15 that we cut up to freeze. In the past I have been packaging all, including the pre-sold, but this year had everyone pick up and do their own. Wow! What a time saver! I was actually finished with ours by lunch time and ready to start other projects.
What beef we had available has sold out. We will only have some grass fed lamb ready later this summer and about 10 chickens from the next processing day. Fingers crossed there will be a few extra Thanksgiving turkeys this year. Now it is time to focus on the garden...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Butchering Day 2012

The morning started really early since I had to bake and package soap before we started processing our meat birds. By 8 a.m. I had all the bread baked, soap ready to go and the kitchen cleaned. Luke's job on butchering day is to get ice and deliver bread since doing the chickens is on the bottom of his "favorite things to do list." SOMETIMES he will help wash. So he was sent off on errands and I headed to get started. Doug had already done 3 by the time I got there to help.We have done this for so long we just settle into an easy routine. I kill and pluck. Doug does final plucking, the wing feathers, those that are missed by the plucker and guts. He either leaves them whole or cuts them up. When I get several ahead, I stop, change gloves and help wash and put in coolers. And so it goes. Usually it is during these times that I change the scalding water and let it reheat. By the time it is hot, we are caught up and ready to go again. Today I had two escapees. They were both smaller hens and after one good chase I gave up and decided to get them next go round. They will probably be fairly large but will certainly make good stewing hens. That made our total today 45 birds. We finished around 11 and started cleaning up. That done I fixed a quick bite to eat and headed to the barn to milk. Being that I was very late in milking, the girls were super testy and pushy. Can't really blame them, but it was annoying for sure. Milking and feeding done, I checked the birds to make sure they still had plenty of ice. It was then off to weed the blueberries and stake the rest of the peppers. I picked the first cucumbers, more squash and a small bowl of blueberries. I started weeding the herb bed but the day was about gone. It was time to finish evening chores, gather eggs and think about supper. A long day, but a good one!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Catching Up The Chickens

In preparation for butchering day tomorrow, this evening we caught all the meat birds and corralled them in the horse trailer. It amazes me how much smarter we get with each passing year...
I used to spend a lot of wasted time chasing, catching and carrying the morning of and now we just back the trailer to the processing area and let the butchering begin. Not to mention the birds are much easier to clean being that they have not had anything but water for 15 or so hours.
We have 47 to butcher this go round and will be selling most since we have another 25 to do in about three weeks. Thankfully tomorrow promises to be cool and a bit breezy. Perfect processing weather!