Sunday, March 28, 2010

Little Twerps!

I'm extremely agitated at the moment. I love my animals, but sometimes they do things that make me want to sell them all.

Let's start with Wanda. My last post showed the dog crate I put in the coop so she'd have her own nest space away from the confusing nest boxes. I kept her in the crate for a few days, and figured I'd open the door this morning to let her have some space and stretch her legs. This afternoon what did I see?

She'd gotten back in the nest box. UGH. I shoo'd her out of the box and she went back into the dog kennel. I locked her back in. I'm considering moving the crate to the big dog kennel in the garagebarn so she's not confused or tempted by other nests. I'm not sure if the cooling period the eggs had today killed them or not. We'll see.

Who else can I vent about? These three.

Well, mainly it's just Purl. Last week I fenced off a sacrifice area for them in order to let the grasses grow back without them eating them down to nothing. The sheep did great with that for a while. I even fenced in an area of the backyard to give them a little more space. They ate that down, so I moved them back into their sacrifice area. Well, apparently Purl wasn't happy about that. In fact, she learned that she could push her way right through the electric fence! I think her wool lets her get away with that. After having her break through the fence no less than 4 times yesterday and 2 times today, I finally inspected the fence and found an area where it was shorting out. I fixed that and did the grass blade test. You can hold a grass blade and let it touch the fence. You'll feel pulse if the fence is working, but it's not enough to shock you. I also added three more strands of the wire fence hoping that'd give them a better shock than the poly tape. That seemed to fix the problem for a few short minutes, but Purl already knew she could just plow her way through the fence and get through. I need to get her sheared so she'll feel the shock better.

Is it sick that I was *hoping* she'd get shocked? Oh well. I don't care if it is. She deserves it after breaking my fence all those times.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"A" for Effort

Remember a while back I posted about Wanda who went broody and was desperately trying to set some eggs?

Well, poor girl just kept getting confused. You see, the nest box has 4 holes. She'd stay in one for a few days, and then I'd find her in a different hole. I'm not sure if she got confused after she got down to eat and drink or what.

I moved her to a crate last night so I could try to keep her in one spot long enough to hatch some chicks. I moved her and her eggs when it was dark, and I closed the door to the crate. This morning I opened the door, and when I got home from work today I found her back up in the next boxes.

This afternoon I put her back in the crate.

She arranged all the eggs under her...

And seemed happy.

I left the door shut this time, but I put food and water in there for her. I'd love it if she'd hatch eggs because I wouldn't have to take special care of the chicks. No brooder, no heat lamps! She'd do all the work.

I'm all for that!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

We had awesome weather this weekend!! Both days were sunny and 70+ degrees!!

Saturday morning I fenced in a section of the backyard to let the girls graze some. They loved it. There is plenty of grass, so they'll be grazing this area any time I'm home.

I wanted to show you David's new project truck. I named her Bettie Jean. David doesn't know it yet (but he might suspect it) that I'm going to steal the keys when it's running reliably. It's mine, all mine!! Hahahaha! He got a GREAT deal on this truck, and it only needs a few tweaks to be road worthy! She might not be the most beautiful truck out there, but I think she's cute!

Saturday morning I got some gardening in. Kylee kept me company and assisted if I needed help. She kept busy with a sheet of luaun board and some sidewalk chalk. Oh, and she wanted me to take a picture of her drinking out of her water jug.

I think her pants had just as much chalk on them as the board.

My garlic (planted in the fall) is up and growing! The plants are 6-8" tall and looking good! I'm so curious to see what's under ground (well, I know it's garlic, but how big is it?!)

Kylee and I planted some onions. We planted almost a pound each of red and white sets. I worked up a bit of soil in a row with one of those hoe-rake looking tools. What's the proper name for that?! Once the soil was loose, I dug a trench the width of the hoe.

Then my helper and I set in the onions. We put them a few inches apart. Kinda close, but we can thin them when they're big enough to go in salads or other recipes.

We did a short row (the other half of the garlic row) and a long row. Pay no attention to the crooked row. Besides, I always heard you can grow more in a crooked row. ;)

Today was pretty lazy. I made some garlic/onion/cheddar biscuits for breakfast. Red Lobster has some pretty good biscuits like this (pretty much the only thing I like at that restaurant) so I wanted to try to make them at home. They're just a basic drop biscuit recipe with cheese and garlic and onion powders added. Please let me know if you want the recipe. I'm allergic to posting recipes, but if someone wants it I'll gladly suck it up and post it. :)

Something fun happened today though. I'm a member of the forums over at Last year some time (summer? fall?), I met a gal that doesn't live too far from me. We chatted back and forth about our birds since then. Last week she happened to mention she was looking for some hatching eggs, and well, it just so happens that I have plenty of hatching eggs, so I told her she was welcome to them! I tried to mke her take some of my roosters, but she wasn't having it. Darn! She DID agree to hatch some eggs for me too though! Well, she came over today, along with her hubby and two cutey pie kids. I had been collecting eggs and saving them for her, and I managed to get about 18 or so eggs for her. Combined with her eggs at home, she's got 3 dozen to incubate!! I'm crossing my fingers for a good hatch! It's exciting to meet someone local (rurally local still means a half hour away) who likes to chat about chickens and goats and horses (she has horses!) and fun stuff like that. She's promised to keep me updated on the progress of the hatch, and I can't wait to see what comes out of those mutt eggs! They should be all or mostly Easter Eggers (chickens who lay colored eggs). And, they're going to come back over sometime when their kids can feed the goat kids! Fun!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed some of this nice weather. Well, I heard some parts of the country had snow today. Mother Nature is a jokester!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cross Fencing

Rotational grazing is a crucial part of grazing animal management. Rotational grazing is when you create small paddocks within a larger field, and rotate the animals around so they're not overgrazing the pasture. Creating smaller paddocks helps make sure the grass is grazed more evenly, since the animals don't have a huge choice in where to eat.

Rotating also creates much healthier pastures, since the grass gets much needed rest time between grazing. It's ideal to get at least 30 days growth on any one paddock before regrazing it. This helps keep the grasses from getting depleted by having an animal graze it over and over. I won't got into much more detail, but there is some good information here and all over the net.

Since my pasture is really small, I'm going to try my best to make sure I keep the grasses around. Today I fenced a sacrifice area so I could keep the animals off the majority of the pasture so it can grow in. Sacrifice areas are a hugely important part of rotation grazing. Sacrifice lots or areas are small areas to keep animals if the pasture isn't ready for grazing, if it's muddy and you don't want them mucking up the fields, etc.

I don't think they're very happy with me at the moment. They seem pretty confused.

I wanted to buy some of this fencing to use, but it's pretty expensive and I didn't want to spend that much money. Instead, I went to our local Tractor Supply Co and got some of this 1/2" poly tape. I wanted to get the 1" wide stuff, but they were out. I got a 656' roll for about $35. I only used a fraction of the roll. The fiberglass fence posts were $2, but I already had some, so I only bought 5. This fence was extremely inexpensive to put up. Not only that, but it took about 10 minutes to set up, if that.

I just hooked the poly tape to my existing hot wire. And it works. Just ask the lambs! Oh yeah, and the concrete blocks are for the lambs to play on.

I just fenced in a small area.

Of course I made sure to give them access to the water, shelter, and hay.

June is not impressed!

I'm hoping the grass hurries up and grows in! I know the sacrifice area is small, so I'm hoping the grass in it won't totally get destroyed before they're ready to move to the next area for grazing. I'm sure this cross fencing will help save my grass, even if it is slightly more work for me. It's worth it!

Good Day Sunshine!

The weather has been just perfect the past few days!! We've had sunny 65+ degree days here. I love it! Yesterday the animals and I spent some time out in the yard enjoying the nice weather. The grass is finally starting to green up! It's nice to finally see some color after such a drab winter!

Here's goat Kid B. She was the second born.

Here's Kid A.

They're getting big! I do have names for them, but I'm waiting to figure out which one I like best so I can give her my favorite name. LOL!!

I let the sheep out in the yard to graze for a bit. Darla is getting pretty rotund. It's hard to separate her to keep her from getting Purl's food. Hopefully she'll slim down a bit this summer after I wean the lambs (because then Purl won't be getting much-if any- grain).

Purl is pretty good about sticking right by her lambs.

They sure are getting big! It'll be time to wean in just a few short weeks.

The sheep were only in the yard for about 10 minutes when they became unruly and wanted to wander. Rascals.

June also spent some time grazing, when she wasn't trying to lick me to death. See, since I took the kids away right after birth, June never got a chance to bond with them. Instead, I let her lick my hands (which had afterbirth on them), and I milked her right away, so she bonded with me. Now she thinks I'm her baby. She calls to me if I'm not near her. She licks hair, my eyebrows, my forehead. She tries to lick me all the time!
I kept her apart from the kids for a few days, and when they saw each other for the first time there was no recognition on either side. I think the kids are curious about her though. She doesn't pay them any mind. I think this is for the best, since she doesn't know she should be missing them.
Are you all having nice weather? I hope so!

Monday, March 15, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed....

Now that we're getting a little over a half gallon of goat milk per day, I figured it was time to experiment with a little cheese making to use up some of that milk. I figured I'd start with farmers cheese, which is one of the easiest cheeses to make.

I got out the necessary supplies. Goat milk, salt, cheesecloth, a bowl with a colander, and the acid. The recipe called for lemon juice, but I didn't have any. I'd read you can use vinegar in place of lemon juice, so that's what I did. I selected the red wine vinegar because I thought it'd taste better than white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

The milk goes in a pot on the stove. Stir until it reaches 180*. Well, I got a tad impatient (who, me?!) and turned the heat up a little too high. The milk started to scorch on the bottom of the pan. Oops! I kept going and figured I'd see what happened.

As the milk was heating, I got the colander placed in a bowl and lined it with cheese cloth. (there's no cheesecloth in this picture)

Once the milk hit 180*, I removed it from the heat and added the vinegar.

You can see it starting to curdle right away.

I let it sit for about 30 seconds, then ladled it into the cheesecloth. It had an, um, interesting color from the vinegar.

I gathered up the sides of the cheesecloth so I could hang it to drain. If I had knobs on my cabinet doors, I would have slid a wooden spoon in the knot and hung it that way. We haven't bought knobs for the cabinets yet, so I just tied the cheesecloth around the middle divider. You can let it drain as long as you like. About an hour or two and you'll have a nice soft cheese. The longer it drains, the firmer the cheese.

After it drained, I added salt. You can also add fresh herbs, but my slacker self didn't have any fresh herbs on hand. I tasted the cheese though. YUCK. Apparently scalded milk and red wine vinegar don't make very nice cheese. Darn!! I gave up on the cheese for that day.

Today I came home determined to try again! Armed with lemons for juicing and fresh herbs, I was going to make cheese darn it! I did the same steps above, but used a sauce pot to heat the milk instead of the gargantuan stock pot. This worked much better and heated the milk nice and slowly. After the milk (1 qt) reached 180*, I pulled it off the heat and added the juice of 2 lemons. Right away it curdled. I then poured it into the cheese cloth and hung it from the cabinets.

Then I chopped up some fresh dill and parsley. Once the cheese was drained, I added the herbs and a good bit of salt (to taste).

MUCH BETTER this time!! It's good! It has a definite lemon flavor, but the dill and parsley add a nice fresh herby flavor.

We toasted some small french bread pieces and added cheese on top and had it with dinner tonight.

Delicious! I can't wait to experiment with some other flavor combinations! Oh, and in case you don't have a milk goat out back, this can be made with store bought (not ultra pasturized) milk!

Farmers Cheese
1 quart milk (not ultra pasturized)
juice of 2 lemons
fresh herbs

Heat 1 qt of milk slowly to 180*, stirring often. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, let sit for 15 seconds. Slowly pour into cheesecloth lined colander (over a bowl!). Let hang for at least 1 hour or until desired firmness is reached. Add salt and herbs to taste. Enjoy! Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby!

Happy 1st birthday, Elmer! You've grown into a beautiful dog.

You're goofy, silly, loveable, and very tolerant. You let Kylee lay on you, you let Scooter boss you around, you are kind enough to keep us warm by laying on top of us on the couch even though you're 65 lbs.

You started out as a little pup who would lay in our laps ever chance you got.

You were so cute!

You never were a typical crazy puppy. You'd get excited and play for a few minutes, but then you'd settle right back down. And you never went through the crazy have-to-chew-everything stage.

So happy birthday to you, ya big lug!

We couldn't ask for a better dog for the kids and pal for Scooter.

We hope you're with us for many years to come!

If you can put up with us and silly things like birthday hats, that is.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


My seedlings have sprouted pretty well! I definitely need more light on them because they're getting leggy. I'll have to make time this weekend to get them taken care of.

Here is tray 1.

And tray 2.

These plants in the front are the hollyhocks. I'm really excited about them!


And the celery is sprouting!!! I'm nervous about celery because I've never grown it!

These taaaaalllll things are broccoli and cauliflower. I hope some stronger light can keep them from getting too leggy to be worth anything.

My lavender is sprouting as well! I can't wait to see how this does. I'm thinking of doing some pretty borders with it!

The little Icelandic Poppies. The seeds are about this big ---> . so they were pretty hard to plant. As you can see, some peat pellets have none, and some have many!

My sweet peas are doing well. They'll be going outside shortly I think.

Tray 3 hasn't sprouted yet because I planted it a week later. I'm really excited about all of the plants, because I feel like spring is just around the corner!

Here's how I have the trays set up. Not fancy, but it works. I had to put that big potted plant (what is that, a philodendron??) up there because Chilli was shredding it. Darn cats.

Hopefully I'll be able to get these plants in the ground soon! I feel the need to work some soil!
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