Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Happenings

On to news around the homestead/farm/goat/pig/chicken country.

Momma hen is still on her 12 eggs, which should start to hatch starting tomorrow or so.  I am very excited to have baby chicks again, so hopefully all goes well and all will hatch, but usually there are one or two that don't.  The other ladies keep trying to lay more eggs on her pile and we have to check each morning for the ones that don't have x's on them to take away.  They are so persist about laying in the same box, that they will even go in there when Momma is in there and sit on the front or back of her!  There have been a couple of times when I put them in and then only counted 6 when there should be 7 chickens and then find the one in with Momma.  Too funny!

Here is Pig on Monday the 27th, the day of harvesting him.  He is now in the locker at the butchers.  He was a super great pig!  He ended up weighing 230 or 240 pounds total.  Rob did part of the work, which I made myself watch, because I figured if I am going to eat the meat, I should be able to at least participate in this part.  It was hard to watch, but I said thanks to Pig for giving us the meat that we can eat.  He lived a good life with Marty and Gus.  I do miss his lower pitched snorts.  We will be getting Italian breakfast sausage patties, loin pork chops, rib pork chops, one smoked ham, smoked bacon, ham steaks, smoked ham hocks for making split pea soup, and the back fat and leaf fat so I render some lard.

The next time we are going to get two pigs at a time because it was easier to keep them separate from Marty, as Marty is not supposed to have their food.  Pig did a great job of rooting up trees and rocks and blackberry roots in the area he was in!  Now we can extend the garden back more to have more planters. (Oh Rob, did I forget to add that to your list of Honey-Do's?  :)  Sorry.)

Made a double batch of zucchini relish.  Shredded zucchini and onions.

Then shredded red and yellow peppers, thought the the colors were pretty!

Then added green peppers on top, shredded again.

Then put them all in the bowl with the zucchini and onions, added salt and covered with water to let sit overnight in the fridge.

The next day I drained, rinsed and drained again, then added to the pot with apple cider vinegar, celery seeds, mustard seeds, organic sugar, and a little bit of cornstarch.  Then ladled in hot, sterilized jars, capped and water bath for 10 minutes.

And voila!  Our homemade relish!  Yay!  Love this stuff.

Now onto milking with the girls, Phoebe,

Monica, and

Rachel.  They are friends of course!   (hahahahahaha I crack myself up sometimes.)

We are milking morning and night.  The stanchion Rob built works perfectly.  They are giving us very, very yummy milk, about a gallon a day.  I have made paneer cheese, yogurt, and will be purchasing some rennet to make some harder cheeses and Mom is going to try some cottage cheese, which she made before with cows milk and it was yummy!  Rob loves to drink it, as does Liam and Raymond.  Kara will if there is no cows milk and we have used it in a couple of things now and it really does not have any "eau de goat" when it is fresh.  I do milk faster than Rob, but only because my hands are smaller and with their smaller teats, it is easier for me to do it.  However, I am getting forearms like Rob, so watch out!   (BWAHAHAHAHAHA)  They get a little bit of grain while milking and then a flake of alfalfa in the evening.  They have done a fabulous job of keeping the blackberries in check around the yard.  Gus was becoming an escape artist and had broken one of the pear trees off at the base and a couple of limbs off one of the apple trees, and the only thing blooming in the yard are the bright orange poppies.  Rob fixed that by running the electric wire around the top of the fence in his pasture.  Monica escaped and was out with Gus the last couple of times, so if Gus had his way, we will be having more kids in November.  Will have to keep you informed on that.

In other news, on Father's Day, the kids and I cleaned out his truck, vacuumed floors and seats, washed inside windows, wiped down dash and anything with dirt on it and voila!  Clean truck.  Rob had to go through a box of items that we took out of the drink holders in front and cubbies in the doors.

Looks like brand new on the inside now!  We shall see how long that lasts.  I think now I need to my car because it is looking worse than Rob's and we can't have that.  :)

Also, we organized and cleaned out Rob's shop.  I don't have a "before" picture because it was just to embarrassing.  Suffice it to say there was no walkway, you could hardly see the floor, or open the freezer on the right.  But the "after" shot is awesome!

We will need to make room for a new upright freezer, which Mom found on Craigslist last night for $40.  We needed it to store the meat from Pig we should be getting next week.  That will be the meat freezer with the other one we already having holding soup, jams, veggies, and fruits.

We have been getting about 6 to 11strawberries a day from the garden.  They are so yummy!  Though Kara says the really small ones can't really be counted as a whole strawberry.  They are too small.  hahaha

The garden is going gangbusters with lettuce, onions, peas, carrots, parsnips, kale, chard all producing.  The sugar pumpkin plants are taking off as is the green and yellow zucchini plants and the pickling and lemon cukes.  The beans are taking their sweet time growing.  We need to harvest another big batch of rhubarb again.  The spinach bolted, so will need to feed that to Marty (I'm sure he won't mind, hahahaha) and restart some again.  Some of the tomato plants are finally flowering so hopefully we can get some tomatoes off them this year.  The pepper plants are holding their own, but have not really gotten much larger, darn it.  The raspberry canes have lots of fruit, though not ripe yet, and the potato plants all have flowered, so we are mulching them to keep the new potatoes from the sun and turning green.  The mangels are growing fine, though Gus thought the tops needed to be trimmed when he got out last.  There is only one corn plant left, really did not do well this year.  And there are three acorn squash plants growing.

We will be planting more lettuce, spinach, mangels, carrots, parsnips, sunflowers (for the seeds), and see how it goes.

I just ordered some organic hard red wheat seed that I am going to plant this fall to see we can get a crop next spring to use for bread flour or for the chickens.

Okay, now that your eyes are blurry from reading, I will let you get back to your life!  Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

I just wanted to say Happy Father's Day to all the dad's in my life.

My dad - Thanks for being there for me and always supporting me.  That means so much!  Sorry we don't live closer to see you more often.  I love you Dad!  I hope you have a wonderful father's day!

My hunka hunka husband, my partner, my best friend, my true soulmate - You make me a better person and you do complete me!  You are an amazing father to our kids and always want to be involved in their activities (even when they think they don't want you involved, hahahahaha) to help out.  You give a lot of yourself to help others and that means a lot.  And yet, you always have time to say (and always make time to say) "I love you" to myself and the kids.  Thank you so much for being a wonderful dad, being there for myself and kids, just for being you!  I can't imagine what we would do with you!  I love you, always!

Raymond - You are always a joy to be around, always with a kind word and wanting to help out.  Thanks so much for being in my life and making sure the "vineyard" is always full, and the birds are always fed.  You do know it is 5 o'clock somewhere!  Have a great father's day!

And to the rest of the dads I know, enjoy your day and thanks for all you do for your families.

:)  Later!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Planting Herbs!

Got a nice early start today and transplanted the herbs in the garden.  First of all moved all the pots off the front deck, where I originally wanted to plant the herbs, but the lovely chickens would have had a smorgasbord, so can't leave them there.

Put the pots along the edges of the raised beds already there and planted basil (Genovese), chocolate mint (mom picked this one up and boy does it smell good!), purple basil (Heirloom), chives, thyme, peppermint (smells just like peppermint, very excited to actually use this for tea!  I love peppermint!), sage, and rosemary.  Not too sure how tall/wide any of these get as I have not planted herbs before.  I guess I will find out.  :)

Yesterday also planted some turnips, and we broke down and purchased some starts for lemon cucumbers and pickling cucumbers because I had tried from seed twice and both times when I transplanted they died, so oh well.

We got 2 more strawberries this morning and two more are starting to turn red.  Yay!  The raspberries are starting to form the berries and boy the bees have been busy around them.  The potatoes are starting to flower.  The tomatoes are doing well and growing.  Hopefully the sun will return and warm them up again.  The peppers are doing okay, can't really tell if they will make it or not.  Some look like they have new growth and some don't, so hmmm.

I "weeded" the front bed yesterday.  My style of weeding, removed all the big rocks, sticks and other items and then mowed, I mean weeded it.  hahahahaha  Looks much better, I think and we will be keeping only the bed around the water spout anyway, so will be reseeding with lawn for now.

The fruit trees have some fruit.  One of the pear trees that has never produced actually has some pears, the Asian pear tree has lots of fruits, the apple trees aren't too good perhaps with 10 apples total, and the cherry trees are loaded, but need to try to keep the birds off them.  The peach tree Rob planted has not really budded or anything, so not sure if it just needs more sun or because when we planted it, it then snowed the next day, perhaps it was too stressed and died.  So will give it this summer and see if it does anything and if not, will try again.

Am thinking of getting a fig tree, as I love fig newtons and putting along the front of the house where it gets nice and warm during the summer.  Mom said she had one on Mercer Island when she lived there and it did great, so may have to look into this.

We have sold all the goat kids except for P1, the all red buck.  He is doing fine, hanging out with Gus and Rob, like here.

Here is the Momma Chicken as she is sitting on her eggs.  She fluffs herself up and clucks when you get too close.

She changed nesting boxes yesterday, so Rob had to pick her up and put her back in the one with all the eggs.  Guess she didn't like the view from the other box.  hahaha

Anyway that's about it for now.  Have a super day!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Getting the good stuff!

This is the lettuce I picked yesterday.  And spinach on the bottom right.  The hole-ly leaves were fed to Pig and Marty, who loved them!  Also, we have had 3 ripe strawberries so far, but the first 2 were half eaten by slugs, so again, Pig and Marty benefitted and were very thankful, I'm sure.

This was the third ripe strawberry from the patch this year, without slug bites out of it!  YAY!  We split it 3 ways, as it was Mom, Raymond and myself at home, and I can't tell you how sweet, juicy and delicious it was!  Can't wait for more now.

This is the patch Rob rototilled for corn, beans, squash, and mangels.  So far, only all the mangels have come up along with 2, yes only 2, starts of corn.  No beans whatsoever or squash.  Poop.  I know the chickens have been here, perhaps rearranging some of the seeds, as the mangels are no longer in straight rows, and I know I am perfect enough to plant them that way.  hahahahahaha.  The far end I finished yesterday with more mangels and 2 rows of acorn squash.  We might be putting a fence around this, if only to keep out the chickens.

On the chicken front, we have been getting 6 eggs a day with an occasional double yolker, still not sure which chicken lays it, but thank you very much!  We do have one chicken that has become broody, so is sitting on 11 eggs currently.  We should be watching them start to hatch around the 29th of this month.  I am so excited.  We can definitely use more layers as we seem to be going through the 6 eggs a day pretty easily.  If there are roosters in the new hatching ones, they will be raised as broilers and harvested.

We have sold all but the red buck.  He is being weaned and is a little noisy to say the least.  He hangs out with Gus now, but likes to go rest next to the fence next to Phoebe, his mama.

Pig is going to be harvested the end of this month.  He is looking fabulous, can't wait for the ham, chops, and bacon, and we are going to be using the back fat for rendering lard, also.

Planted all the free trees we got at the Mother Earth News Fair.  Quaking Aspen, Vine Maple and Alaskan Yellow Cedar.  Put them right inside the fence of the garden and then will transplant for sure when we decide where we would like them.

Going out to sit by the fire now on the front porch and drink some blackberry wine mom got!