Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pigs and goats, hay and wood

I discovered that the pigs LOVE to be showered on a hot day, and even a not so hot day. I leave the hose running on them and they all gather under it. When I turn off the water, they roll their nice clean bodies in the muddy puddles left behind.

Today I was a dummy and left the water running for about 4 hours. Oops! Lots of mud today!

If everything goes according to plan, we are selling Beatrice (brown and black goat) and her mom Rosie (white goat) this weekend. We put Beatrice, just born in March up on Craig's List, because we want to keep Charlie, her father, as a breeding buck, and don't want him to breed her. The folks who are buying Beatrice were also interested in Rosie, so we decided to let her go as well.

In trade (rather than a sale) we are getting 25 bales of second-cut hay, and 4 face cords of firewood. The wood can't get here soon enough for me. It's been downright chilly here at night, down as low as 42°. I just can't bring myself to turn on the heat in September. I am pretty sure there were a few days in early June where I was begging for some heat as well.

It's been a strange summer. I am hoping that Fall lasts through November this year.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Old Man on the Mountain in Yosemite

Well I only managed a pathetic 2 posts in apologies.

My previous post mentioned the things I am working on, one of them being Cyrus and Woody off-leash down here, not just on the hill at my neighbor's (where they behave beautifully!).

We were doing extremely well, or else they were both just playing me. On the one day when Woody was the best behaved ever, staying right nearby and bouncing through the low water in the creek, Cyrus apparently saw an opportunity to run the 1,000 ft or so back to the chicken coop where he killed 4 chickens and 1 duck. I cannot prove it was him, but the timing and his demeanor say it is so.


Another thing I was working on: I called about the revival of my old iMac and they told me they were too busy with more important projects. Why is everybody else more important? They did revive most of what I needed from the old hard drive, and loaded it on the new hard drive I purchased, but they still have not given me an answer as to whether or not the old hard drive can be replaced and the iMac revived to a better than new working condition. Frank, Connecting Point, New Hartford, NY, get to work on MY project!

Oh well.

Today's photo is the default desktop picture on the new iMac. The operating system is either called "El Capitan" or "Yosemite", I haven't figured out which.

I did a search on Old Man on the Mountain, and only came up with the rock formation profile that has since disintegrated in New Hampshire. I could not find anything in my Google searches that identified a profile of an old man in this photo of Yosemite.

Do you see it?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Working on it...

I am still waiting to see how much has been recovered from my dead computer. At first they told me they would not be able to save the old one, but could save most of the "user" files—meaning documents and photos and such. Then they told me for $150 they could put in a new hard drive in it, although that wouldn't bring back the rest of the files. Now they left a message saying that might not happen either.

At least I was able to get all of my important software running again, and only had to pay for an upgrade to Quark, which needed to be replaced soon anyway.

Since I am still missing most of my photos other than the ones I was able to pull from the OLD, old iMac, I will have to make do with some very new ones. (which means the cheese update is on hold)

Working on it...

Cyrus is making improvements in his obsession with deer. He still watches out the windows constantly hoping to find one, but he is getting better about not barking and has not tried to jump through the windows (that I know of) for several weeks.

Working on it...

He has also made improvements in walking off the leash. He is perfectly well behaved up on the hill at Don's, probably due to the constant lure of treats. And he is making progress on his off-leash walks down at the creek here on our property. He has taken off a few times, but returned after a half-hour of panicked searching and hollering (the first time), and after just a few minutes of hollering (the second). Didn't run off at all yesterday!

Working on it...

Bad news on the peeing in the house though. He did this a few times in the first week or 2 that we had him. I thought it was just him getting used to a new house and marking his territory. Then he didn't do it for a few months. Then he just recently started again, including a few poops in the house as well. I cannot trace the reason, other than maybe we have not been watching him as closely.

Working on it...

And the last update is on baby chicks. The 2 that were born here are getting big, catching up to the ones that we got from a friend. The one still with his surrogate Momma is looking like he could be a rooster, but I am still not sure. His second Momma has all but given up on him, other Momma (red hen with him in the photo) still keeping an eye on the boy. The other 3 babies, including the one rejected by those 2 bad Mommas, are still in a protected space out by the garage.

The 6 Black Australorps are almost full size and have been free-ranging with the others during the day. As soon as we convince them that they need to sleep in the coop with the big girls, we will move the babies into the teenage fenced area. We just started placing them in the coop last night. Could take a few days, or even a few weeks.

Working on it...

Everyone is learning how to be an adult, including me, I guess!

Working on it...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lots of news plus 3 new pigs!

All kinds of things happening around here including the death of my iMac. Pic above is the MonkeyCat sleeping on what's left of my precious computer. It's in computer hospital right now to see if they can retrieve my files. They are making some progress, but Computer Doc says TP's files were easy to grab, but the near-dead hard drive "doesn't like KP".

I decided it was time to buy a new iMac, although I would have put it off a whole lot longer if the other one hadn't died. Now I am having to upgrade some of my arty farty software, although I was able to pull the ridiculously expensive Creative Suite off the original discs...but not until after I bought a disc drive, because new iMac doesn't come with old-fashioned disc drive. (insert here the photo of me pulling out my hair!)

Still struggling to get everything up and running, but making progress.
Also had B&E visiting for the week. A good time was had by all!

So the good news for today is that we picked up 3 new pigs from B&B Ranch (again). Initial thought is that their names are Peter, Paul and Mary, but that could change when we have had more time to think about it.

They are a Berkshire cross—Momma is a big pink pig (Hampshire cross) and Papa the black Berkshire variety that is supposedly the best pork. We wanted all black ones just because I like pigs of color. I didn't even know until we picked them up today that even the ones that looked all black have orange stripes on their backs. Very arty!

Boy piggies are the spotted one and the chubby black one in the back of the crate. Girl piggy is the black one first to come out and explore.

They were all too afraid at first to come out of the dog crate to have their photos taken. This was only minutes after we introduced them to their new home. They eventually made it outside the crate, but not quite out of the shed. It won't be long before they are tearing around the pig pen ripping out all of the weeds and sunflowers.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cheese and chicks

I am making another wheel of cheddar today, and taking some more detailed photos of the process, just in case you all want to try it some time! But at 4:45 pm, I am still not ready to press it, so I thought instead I would do a post in memory of the little leghorn chick we lost yesterday.

I found her on the floor in the enclosed space where we keep them during the day. At first I thought she was just resting, but when she did not join the others in eating, I realized something was wrong. Some critter had torn up her back end. I stopped at the vet's on the way into work just to get their opinion as to whether she might live. Stacy the vet tech said she had a good chance if it was just external injuries and gave me some antiseptic to clean her up.

So little chick became Office Chicken yesterday. MJ named her Nellie Blye. But Nellie Blye must have had some internal injuries as well. She hung on for most of the day, but struggled and then died in my hands about 6 pm.

I wish I knew what happened so that I could protect her 3 little friends, but there is just no way to know. These pics of them are from today. The 2 darker ones (and Nellie) are Brown Leghorns. The yellow chick is the one that our hens hatched, and then rejected. He or she is half Buff Orpington (from the roo) and half Easter Egger (because we know she hatched from a blue egg). She has fully recovered from her rough start, and the 3 little leghorns accepted her right away. Her brother (or sister) is still being raised by the 2 mamas.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cheese, cheese and more cheese!

Since we began milking the goats last year, I have been making chevre pretty regularly. I mastered that process pretty quickly, so I decided to get more creative and try some cheddar this year. Also, this year we have at least twice the milk. We are milking both Lucille and Rosie. Lucille is a great milker. Rosie is less cooperative but seems to have more milk.

Chevre is very easy to make. I warm it up in a cooler filled with hot tap water, add starter and rennet and let it sit overnight. Then ladle the curd into cheesecloth and hang to drain for another 6 or 7 hours.

Cheddar requires more time (most of a morning and afternoon) more work (heating, cutting, and salting the curd) and a cheese press. The Husband bought me a beautiful cherry wood press from Homesteader's Supply for my birthday in May.

Starting with the first cheddar on May 31, I have made 1 wheel of cheddar per week for a total of 8. It is supposed to be better if aged for at least 60 days—the taste is sharper, and we both like sharp cheddar. But that means I won't know until the end of July whether or not my cheddar is eddarble. (hehe)

If it were up to me alone, I would have sneaked a taste right away, but the man insists on patience, which is something he normally has in short supply. (hehehe)

Conveniently, Brian and Eve are scheduled to come up next Friday, so we can test our first cheddar on them! At least they all look edible.

First small photo is the curd after cutting it in the pot. Whey is the liquid you can see that has already drained from the curd. Second: fresh wheel of cheese from this morning. Third: cheese press (maple version).

Once I find out if my cheddar is any good, I will try some different cheese recipes. For now I will just keep my fingers crossed that I haven't been wasting my time AND all that goat's milk!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Return of the wanderer!

My little escapee returned this morning. Even though I had looked there earlier, The Husband found her inside the fence she had escaped from last night. Safe and sound, but she certainly has not learned her lesson. You can see in the photo they are making their way to the top of the log inside the fence, looking for another chance to be free.

Little yellow chickie has no trouble keeping up with her 3 cellmates. Her injured foot and wing seem to have healed. She is a few days younger (maybe a week) than the others, and has some catching up to do in size, but otherwise seems to be healthy.

The Cayuga ducks were getting to know their new friends inside the fence for a few hours this morning, and then we set them all free. Not sure if they have been enjoying their freedom yet, but their environment even inside the fence is a huge improvement to their previous home. The baby ducks are full size now. The darker one looks almost like her daddy, but with more interesting "penciling" on her feathers. The lighter one looks just like her momma.

If they are indeed 3 females and 1 male, we can expect some truly interesting looking babies from this bunch. Or maybe we will just eat their eggs and enjoy the 4 of them as they are...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

New ducks and new chicken saga, or should I say dilemma

We took a nice hour-long drive on a nice day today to pick up 2 new ducks. Again they were supposed to be Cayugas, a pretty iridescent black and beetle green variety native to NY state, and again they are some sort of mix, but at least these look like half Cayugas, unlike the first bunch we bought.

It was a nice drive on the way there, but on the way back not so much. The poor ducks were being housed in a barn with no access to the outside, and plenty of poo inside. We had to leave the windows open with the air on just to be able to breathe on the way home.

The 2 pretty ducks were thankful for the bath in the bucket, and are now cleaned up and good to go.

It will take a few days to mingle with the 2 babies we raised here, our last remaining ducks from the other purchases. The babies are probably both females, and these older Cayugas are definitely a male and female. These 2 will need a couple of days to learn where they live before being allowed to roam with the babies.

The teenage Black Australorp chickens so far are getting along very well with the adults out front. Tonight I wanted to introduce them to a night in the coop with the others, but was distracted by a runaway chick from the bunch that are still being raised in the garage.

There are 3 that we got as replacements for the too-many roosters last year, plus our one little yellow chickie that was hatched but then rejected by the 2 mamas. I have been putting the 4 of them in a little fence outside on sunny days and bringing them in the garage at night. But tonight, 1 of the Leghorns jumped ship when I tried to put them back in the garage. She is still out there roaming free at 10:30 pm. I left her companions chirping in their crate just inside the garage with the door open, but am going to give up soon if she doesn't come back inside.

Big Mommy can only sit outside with the mosquitoes for so long waiting for the wandering child to come home...

Please come home, little wanderer!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chicken saga and ducks on the loose

Big Daddy Roo and 3 young girls in the hay bales waiting for the rain to end.

We lost several chickens recently to unknown causes. Two of the older ones disappeared during the day, and we lost another 4 to an unidentified ailment. One has been in Chicken Hospital (our garage) for about 4 days, and she just died today.

(photo 1) At the end of May we decided to increase our flock by buying 6 more young chickens—Black Australorps about 2 months old. We kept them closed up in the duck house outside for awhile until I could set them up in the dog house out by the coop with a fenced area for roaming. I am almost ready to open the fence during the day, but I want them to get used to where they live so we don't have any trouble rounding them up at night. Soon enough I hope they will join the other free-ranging chickens in the coop.
(photo 2) Three of our hens have been sitting on eggs in the nest boxes—not where we would like them to be, because now the other hens are laying their eggs somewhere else and we don't know where! Last week 2 of them each hatched a chick, and the third one decided she was done sitting on eggs and rejoined her sisters. So at least the nest box is clear again, but there are a dozen eggs in the garage under the heat lamp trying to become more chickies. I don't expect that to work, but have to try.

(photo 3) So now we have 2 very protective momma hens with 2 new chicks. In the first day, the chicks jumped down off the table where the nest boxes are and I found all of them outside playing in the dirt under the big weedy bush next to the coop. I think they'll be OK with mommas watching during the day, but I lock the 4 of them up at night in a crate to keep them safe from critters and the other chickens.

(photo 4) Next day I check on them and the one yellow chick has been injured somehow. I put her over next to the mommas and they scratch in the dirt knocking her across the room where she gets buried in the hay and wood chips. Then Red Mom picks her out of the pile only to bury her again! What? I pulled her and put her in Chicken Hospital too. At first it looked like her one foot and wing were injured, now just the foot is curled under. It could have even been that way from birth, but I think not. The moms hurt her and I don't know why.

(photo 5) To add to the excitement, yesterday I picked up 3 Brown Leghorn chicks from the lady who sold us the roosters that were supposed to be hens. I thought I could add them in with the 2 mommas, but they attacked these little ones as well, so now they have joined poor yellow chick with the bad foot in the garage. That was probably a good move because it was very chilly here last night, but nice and warm in there under the heat lamp. The 4 of them get along just fine.

(photo 6) We let the ducks out of their pen for the first time today. One of them has a funky looking wing, possible birth defect. Hard to tell yet if they are boys or girls, but the lighter one looks just like her momma, and the darker one like dad.

Nice chilly rainy day and the only safe and warm ones are the 4 little chicks in the garage. Chilly here in the house too! It's the end of June. It just ain't right!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Conservation Easement closing with a butterfly and moth

This morning we closed on our Conservation Easement which will be appropriately named Lester's Flat. I am posting my favorite Lester's Flat photo of Lester enjoying a swim in the Herkimer Creek back in May 2007. Our portion of this creek will now be preserved in perpetuity.

The post before this one has a better description of the easement —the short story is that our meager 23+/- acres will be preserved forever.

To celebrate our closing with the Otsego Land Trust, we received a goodie basket and a freshly baked pie from them. In return, in addition to my little offering of some homemade goat cheese, I am posting 2 photos taken earlier this week. One of a black butterfly who was hanging out for quite a while on our front porch, the other of a huge moth that I saved from being swatted with a newspaper at The Freeman's Journal where I work.

From my minimal online research, the butterfly is a White Admiral. The moth is the same type I saw on our back porch in June 2012. Someone from the ID Please group on Flickr identified it as a Waved Sphinx. If anyone has a better ID for either one, please feel free to comment.