Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Culling the Herd...

We sold Molly last night. Molly loved people and was very affectionate AND had twins this season. Bucklings, but, still, twins.
Problem was, Molly thought she was in charge of the herd and tried to rule over them with an iron hoof. Constant attacks on the other does. She would bully them without mercy. Nina and Lily started losing weight as Molly wouldn't let them near the feed.
Also, Molly was NOT a good milker. Her milk had a decided *goaty* taste and she was difficult to milk on her GOOD days.
We also sold Gerte and Liam.
Gerte, napping in the wheelbarrow
Liam when he was much smaller.
The guy that bought them has a small farm and a campground. He made sure he knew the goats names and pet them and talked to them. The goats all seemed to like their new owner and barely fussed at all when we loaded them on the truck.
We aren't planning on breeding this year (so far...subject to change) so Liam was either going to have to be confined in the *bachelor pen* all by his lonesome, or we would have to sell him.He and Gerte were good buddies and when the guy mentioned he wanted a buck...well, we showed him Liam and the deal was done.
Lilac cried and bleated a bit after her twin was gone, but soon settled down.
So, we are down to the two doelings, Nola and Lilac, and the four does, Nina, Lily, Gabby and Champagne.
Right now, that is perfect for us!
It is also good to know that Molly, Liam and Gerte went to a good home and that the new owner likes goats as much as we do!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Catching Up Around the House and Other Things

So, a few things have happened since my last post.
Let's start with yesterday...
I milked the goats and then let them loose like usual. Somehow, someway, they managed to get under the house.
You see, our house is a double wide trailer/modular home...whatever you want to call it. Anyway, it has skirting around the bottom. The skirting (in the back, anyway) is partially protected by some fencing that was put there long before the Darlin' Man moved here. The goats, as goats are wont to do, managed to push the fencing out of the way and get under the house. There they lolled about in the cool shade until discovered. At that point, they scattered in panic. In their panic, one of them (Oh No MOLLY!) managed to snap a pipe that was just outside the skirting. A geyser erupted. Turned out, that pipe was the water pipe coming into the house.
I managed to get to the water turn off and turned off the geyser.
So, that left me with no water.
No water means no swamp cooler which means the house heats up FAST!
I got the goats back in their pens, closed up the house, turned on the fans and turned off the pump on the swamp cooler so the motor wouldn't burn out.Called the Darlin' Man. Got his voice mail as he was in a meeting. Darn!
He called back about a half hour later and told me he called the landlord and gave me the landlords number. I called the landlord and he told me he would be here at 9 pm to fix the pipe. I also measured the broken pipe and gave him the size, etc.
The kids got home from school and starting stressing..."No water!?"
Heh...I got this. I pulled out some of my water storage and everyone was able to have some nice cool water to drink...I also made lemonade.
At 9 pm, the landlord showed up and repaired the pipe in about 5 minutes flat.
So that problem was not too big a bump in the road.
Interestingly enough, the landlord didn't say a single word about selling the place, needing us to move, etc. His wife was the one that informed the Darlin' Man about the impending sale, but her husband was present. I just don't know what is going on there.
I am still going on with the property search!
The Darlin' Man is having a few health issues. He had a small pimple on his face to expanded to humongus proportions overnight. He went to the doctor and after they drained it and ran some tests, the doctor told him it was MRSA. Turns out, the first time he had a abscess like that form was when he was in Desert Storm I.  The one he had that time was on his neck and got to the size of an orange! Turns out, quite a few soldiers returned from Kuwait and Iraq with MRSA. So, he is on antibiotics and I am trying to boost his immune system through diet. Figure if we go after this on all fronts we have a better chance of beating it down.
Also, his back had been giving him a fit, so he had the doctor check that out as well. Looks like something is wrong with one or two discs in his back. He gets an MRI this week so they can get a detailed look.
The Darlin' Man's oldest daughter is coming to visit for the rest of the month. She is going to college in California, but has a break from her classes and her job right now. When not in school she stays with her grandmother (Darlin' Mans mother) in L.A.
So, she is not used to goats, chickens, etc.
Thjis should be fun! I'll get her to help me milk in the mornings.
That's not TOO evil, is it?
Ugly Betty never hatched any of her other eggs.So, I checked them out and a couple were complete duds and the rest just never completely developed.
So, Betty is happily living on the front porch with her three babies, "Bo", "Peep" and "Inky".  Like I have said before, Betty is a good mama hen. It is fun to watch her teaching her babies to drink and eat, etc. At night she makes a little chirring sound and all three run to her and duck under and snuggle down. Inky has the habit of trying to snuggle down on top of his mama, but Betty is having none of that! She makes sure he (?) is tucked under her wing before she nods off to sleep.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Update

Well, here we sit...not knowing what to do next.
The landlords have not said one thing since they made the announcement that they were selling.
Nothing. The Darlin' Man is thinking it was some sort of *bluff* to make sure he pays the rent on the first of every month and no later. Maybe.
But we are doing a major cleaning/reorganizing thing here just in case and getting quite a bit of non-essential stuff boxed up.

Ugly Betty only hatched out 3 chicks. The rest of the eggs were *duds* She is settled in a large wooden planting box on the screened in front porch with her chicks..."Bo", "Peep" and "Inky". They are so cute! Betty is being a terrific mama hen and is teaching her chicks to eat, drink, scratch, etc.

The goats are being really rambunctious lately. Nina has been getting downright mean. She head butts, bites and tries to get me with her horns. I have checked her all over...nothing physical...she is just moody as hell right now!

The heat has hit...ugh. Except for early morning, late evening and emergencies, I am effectively house bound during the heat. It actually makes me feel ill if I stay out in the heat for more than 15 minutes, so my way of dealing is to flip night and day and sleep during the day and stay up at night.
I hate the heat!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Curses, Changes Again!

We have been informed by the landlord that they plan on putting this property up for sale in four weeks.
Four weeks?!?
We can stretch it out a bit longer than that because the Darlin" Man has to get leave approved, etc. to get the time off to find us a place to move to, and purchase said property and then move us there.
We plan on moving to Vermont.
I have ramped up our property search and have found around five properties that may suit us.
They range from from 10.5 acres to 40 acres.
All have houses on them (we won't have the luxury of building with this short time frame!). The houses are in various states of repair, or disrepair , as the case may be.
I probably will not see the house and property in person until the day we arrive.
So...a new adventure begins!
I figure the end of August will be our limit here...until then, I'll be packing, taking care of the critters and desperately looking for a property online that we can afford and that has most of the things we want.
We also have to figure out how to transport the 5 of us, 2 dogs, the goats we are keeping (either 5 or 7...still discussing), around 10 chickens plus Pender, the peafowl, maybe a turkey or two. The geese will be going to a new home.
Yeah...Noahs Ark on wheels!
We'll figure it out...somehow, someway...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

From the newest mother at Frippery Farm...
Ugly Betty!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday Updates!

This past week, we got new collars for Lilac, Nola and Liam. I took pictures with The Girl's camera phone as my camera is still refusing to talk to the computer...let's see how those pics turned out...
Liam got a blue collar

Lilac has a violet collar, though it looks red here

Nola got pink!

This morning when I was out feeding, I heard an unfamiliar noise. A tiny little *peep-peep*.. I was feeding the *annex* hens, so I looked next door at the regular coop and saw a tiny chick dash up to the fence...and immediately get pounced by one of the hens. As in, "I am about to shred and eat you" pounce!
By the time I got in the coop, the wee chick had been shredded and devoured by several hens.
So, I fixed up a cardboard box with straw and scooped up all the eggs and the brooding mamas and put them on the front porch. One mama (Beatrice) decided she did NOT want to hatch eggs on the front porch and abandoned the nest and her eggs quickly.
The other broody mama, Ugly Betty, happily accepted all of Beatrice's eggs and is comfortably nesting.
Pender is definitely over his illness and is being very attentive to his little harem.
Pender and girls checking out an old feed sack.
His attentions have paid off...I have gathered 14 eggs so far today!
Eggs in nesting box
Maybe it was the heavy duty scrub down of the nesting boxes and coop, or the fresh straw or the liberal dusting with DM earth that I gave the coop, but no more chickens have gotten sick. I am very happy about that!
Also...camera phone pics suck. I can see that. I just gotta get the camera/computer thing straightened out!
Bad news for today...we had to have the car worked on this month...and it sucked our budget DRY!
We have a  debt owed to us...we loaned money to someone back in late October. They were supposed to pay it back by Dec. 20th. Then they were supposed to pay it all back when their taxes came in. Then they were supposed to start paying it back every two weeks...
You see how that's going. Not one damn penny has been paid back.
This was a substantial  amount of money for us to loan out. Fortunately, we had them sign a contract and if no monies are paid back next week on the 15th, I intend to take them to court. I told the wife that I will have a lien put on their vehicles, their household items, even their dogs if I have to, but they WILL pay us back.
I told the Darlin' Man the loan was a bad idea and when he decided to go ahead and make the loan, I told him an amount I thought reasonable. He tripled it. The couple told him it was part of their medical expenses, etc and they needed that amount or they couldn't pay rent or utilities or get groceries. AFTER he loaned the money out, we found out the *medical expenses* were for their DOGS. They have two pit bulls and one attacked the other and shredded her. The wife in the couple was pregnant at the time...and apparently thought paying out $1,000.+  was a good use of their rent/utility/grocery funds.
I am so angry I could just pitch a fit.
So, the car breaking down and having to be repaired really threw a monkey wrench into the works here. The car is an absolute necessity and so are brakes on the darn thing.  And tires that aren't totally threadbare.
(I was wondering what that *shimmy* was...and why it took me a football field length too stop...)
So, car repairs are *mostly* done. Still need a couple of tires, but we can tough it out until June.
But, all that cut into our budget. The rent and all the utilities are paid first, so we don't have to worry about that.
Groceries...well...darn good thing we have food storage! We will have a lot of *Food Storage Meals* this month, supplemented by our eggs, milk, cheese and other goodies we get from our chickens and goats.
Lesson learned here?
Never loan more than you are willing to just give away.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Searching For Land

We are intensifying our search for land.
We know the area we want to buy in, we know the general amount of acreage we want.
We KNOW everything we want.
Problem is finding it!

Our *must have* list drives realtors crazy, lol!
 MUST haves:
1) Two sources of water on property. A well and a spring or a stream and a well or a pond and a stream, etc.And the water sources can NOT be "seasonal". We don't want a stream or creek to go dry in mid-summer just when we need it most for the garden or the livestock. Ideally, we would like a well, a spring and a pond...but dream on, right? As long as we are dreaming, we'd LOVE for the property to have a stream suitable to set up a micro-hydro power plant so we can be completely off-grid!

2) A mix of hardwood and open clearings.I do not want land that has been clear cut and then pines planted.We need open areas to expand for gardens, a hay field and grazing pasture for the livestock.

3) Land must be able to be certified as organic.That means NO CHEMICALS, pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer, etc, have been applied to the land within the last 20 years. Yes, we are picky.

4) Ideally, we'd like to have some hills on the property. Not HUGE hills, but neither I nor the Darlin' Man like completely flat land. I think having some hillsides to cut into to maybe put in a cheese cave or a mushroom growing area would be nice.

5) Be away from interstates or major highways by at least 20 miles.

6) Nowhere near a military base, nuclear power plant, chemical factory or other *target* or pollution source.

And that's just the top six.....
We have found a few places that we are giving serious consideration to, but are still looking.

Yeah, big wish list. How big is yours?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pender Update and Other Things

Pender is fine and frisky this morning! He isn't crowing yet, but he is muttering to himself like he used to. I put him back out with the hens and Pender did what roosters do! He chased a half dozen hens around the yard until he caught them and mounted them. Definitely feeling MUCH better!
I am setting up to give the goat milking lessons. We needed to clean up the yard anyway, so it has been good motivation. Still have a lot of stuff to do in the front yard, but am moving forward on that.
I want to get 3 or 4 more patio chairs so participants can sit down while here.
I also want to build a small *prep* table to set various items on...the hoof knife, udder balm, etc.
The guy that I gave the milking class to and sold Max to is going to buy Gerte. He has to double check with his wife, but he thinks my price is more than fair and he knows my goats are healthy.
So, one less goat to feed...and now Gabby won't have Gerte tackling her to nurse every ten minutes!
I am getting the *itch* to rearrange the furniture again...dunno why, it just seems like a good idea.
Of course, I doubt anyone else will think it's a good idea!
Making orange cajeta today and Cherve cheese. When we move to the northeast, I GOTTA have my own cheese cave! That's about Number 181 on my "Gotta Have" list. I am quite sure my real estate guy is beginning to hate me...lol!
That's all for today...back to the grind! Besides cheese and cajeta, I am making butter today, AND, if I find the time, some chimmichurri.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sick Chickens

Well, before the Darlin' Man brought home the new chickens, we had a problem with our original flock.
In the last month, we have lost a total of 6 chickens.
It always goes the same way:
1) Chicken starts looking a little listless and less lively.
2) Chicken's eyes get mildly infected
3) Chicken gets VERY lethargic and eye infection gets worse
4) Chicken dies overnight..always at night!

This morning I found Miranda Chicken dead.  
I already lost Carmen, Gloria, Delores, Ruby and Bess. Ugly Betty looked like she was going the same way, but she recovered and is now fine and frisky.
Pender got sick a few days ago. Normally frisky and feisty, he started getting listless about 4 days ago. Yesterday, his eye infection was so bad, his eyelids couldn't open.
So, I picked him up, got a warm wash cloth and wiped his eyes and then put a little neosporin in each eye.
I set up a "Chicken ICU" on the screened in front porch and he spent the night there. Pender is doing better this morning!
The Darlin' Man is picking up some chicken antibiotics to put in the chickens water today.
I am scrubbing down the chicken coop.
I am checking each and every chicken over carefully ...wiping down the eyes of those with eye infections and dabbing a smidgen of neosporin in their eyes.
I hope I don't lose any more.
Especially Pender...he is such a good rooster and my buddy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Decisions...Decisions....And New Critters!

Let's start with the new critters first.
The Darlin' Man stopped by the feed store to grab some feed on the way home yesterday. (Yes, you KNOW where this is heading)
I thought it was fairly safe to let him go by the feed store without supervision. His car is in the shop, so a friend from work was giving him a ride.
Unknown to me,  the friend drives a pick-up truck
Pick-up truck = OODLES of room in the bed of the truck.
We have 14 new chickens and 1 new peahen.
Our chicken coop was not big enough to absorb the influx of so many hens, so the Darlin' Man and The Boy quickly slapped together an annex chicken coop.
The new hens had been turned loose in the yard so we spent the next hour rounding them up and putting them in the annex coop.The penhen (we named her Pandia, after the daughter of Selene and Zeus) was easily put in the large peafowl pen. Pericles immediately began strutting and showing off his tail to her.
She didn't appear impressed. In fact, she looked a little panicked!
But all the chickens are in their pen...except for one that has managed to get in my neighbors yard.
The chickens are a mixed lot.
We have Barnvelders.

They are VERY pretty! When they lay, they lay dark brown eggs.
We have Buff Orphingtons:
We have Americuanas
and their cousins Aracaunas

The last two lay BLUE eggs! And I loves the cute tufts on the faces of these...one of ours looks like see has old fashioned side burns and a bit of a beard!
We got a couple of Rock Islands, as well.

We also have a bunch of others that I have NO CLUE what breed they are.
When I can persuade the camera and the computer to start speaking to one another again, I'll post pics.
I understand the Darlin' Man's enthusiasm for all things farm related...but 14 new chickens?!?
While I have a hen setting a small clutch of eggs...and the goose setting her clutch...and the turkey hens setting their clutch...and the penhens setting on their small clutch.

Back to decisions.
I think I need to get rid of a couple of goats.
Hard to figure out which ones, as they all have their good points and a few flaws.
I think pretty Molly may be the one I need to sell, as she doesn't milk as well as the others AND her milk has an *off* taste. She is friendly...but she has figured out how to open all the gate latches. The pen she is in, we had to use bungee cords to fasten it closed.
Also, I may sell Gerte.
I can't imagine giving up any of the others.
Nina is still a pain to milk, but she is learning. Lily can be a bit touchy, but she now jumps up in the milking stand easily. Gabby and Champagne are staying with us! Champagne is a dream to milk, even if she doesn't have the highest yield. Gabby is...well, just Gabby. She and I have a rapport thing going. Although her biggest flaw is she will NOT wean her kids! Gerte is almost as big as Gabby and still nurses every chance she gets! So, I may sell Gerte so Gabby will have a little more yield and a bit more relief from Gerte tackling her to nurse!
So, gotta decide on this within the next two weeks.
Oh....and the Darlin' Man cheerfully told me that the feed store may be able to help him get a vicuna.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Making Cheese and other Goodies!

Today I am processing a lot of milk. My does are producing milk like it is going out of style and I am busting my behind trying to keep up with their output!
I started making Cherve cheese yesterday. Cherve is a soft goats milk cheese that can be flavored with herbs, spices, fruit, etc.Since I have so much milk, I processed a lot of milk into Cherve as the kids and the Darlin' Man likes it.
So, resting in the fridge I have (in half pound logs):
Cherve with minced basil
Cherve with minced basil AND rolled in chopped green onion
Cherve flavored with basil AND rolled in cracked black peppercorns and red pepper flakes
Cherve topped with chopped dates, walnuts and a bit off honey drizzled on

I certainly hope the Darlin' Man remembers to pick up the crackers I asked him for!
I am about to start some more cheese, plus make some more butter AND yogurt.
Like I said...LOTS of milk!

Tina asked for the recipe I use for hummus...here it is:
2 cans Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3  tablespoons sesame oil or tahini (sesame seed paste) (some folks like stronger sesame flavor)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Drain one can of the chickpeas and pour into blender, open other can, do not drain and put in blender. Add all other ingredients and whirl it up until it is a medium thick paste.If you like yours thicker, use less of the chickpea liquid, if you like it thinner, use more.
I sometimes vary the flavor by adding some sun dried tomatoes, or roasted red bell peppers (personal favorite!)
So, back to the grind for me...more cheese making awaits!
I would have posted pictures, but apparently, my camera and my computer are not on speaking terms today. Tried and tried to load up some pictures, but the camera is not downloading correctly and the computer is refusing to recognize the camera!
I wonder what they are in such a snit about?