Monday, December 29, 2014

Last few days to vote!

If you were on our Christmas card list, please vote for your choices of Noels in the sidebar to the left. (No votes after the New Year.) Two have guessed all 3 of the photos inside the card, but for the most part, everyone is perplexed. I am not surprised, as I probably would not have guessed 2 out of 3...

If you want to be on our Christmas card list—contact me.

Looking back on 2014—it has been a good year. We lost a few chickens to some more dog attacks (not our dogs) and to undetermined medical ailments; we gave up some of our unruly poultry (all male of course!) to our Greek friends, and we lost 2 goats to reasons mostly unknown...but overall we have had a good year.

In the large photo, you can see that the apple trees did not produce well this past year. The one tree on the right put out a few apples way up high, but the one on the left put out none. That was pretty much the standard, very few apples, but enough to make some apple butter for us.

The garden faired about as well as the apple trees. We got plenty of plum tomatoes and winter squash, but no corn at all, even after replanting. We planted several other vegetables and sunflowers, but had very little to show for all our work. In the second photo, you can see my new, magical, processing device for all those extra plum tomatoes. No boiling, no peeling, no removing the seeds, just cut them into small chunks and run them through. It does take some muscle power, though! The basil in the pot on the counter did well because it was protected inside.

Final photo is of Bucky Pizzarelli. This young deer was hanging out around the house with his Mama for a long time, and then all by himself after that. He is still around, although the edible plants are not as easily found, so he is wandering more. I didn't even know he was a buck until I enlarged some of these photos. They call them "button bucks" because their horns are just buttons when they are this young.

I hope he sticks around. He is safe here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Farm animals

Not much to report from up on the farm. All the snow went away, then it came back but just a few inches, and now it's gone again—raining most of the night and morning, and in the 40s°.

Animals are all settling in for the winter. The Husband has stopped milking Lucille, no more goat cheese or yogurt until the spring. Charley may or may not have bred her. She was in heat and now she's not. Rose, her kid, should also be coming into heat soon, and should be bred as well, but since we have boys and girls all living together, there is no way to tell if Charley has succeeded in doing his studly duty.

The all-living-together part is working out well. The goat book, Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, says exactly what everyone else says about housing bucks and does separately, but I still have not discovered the reason why. As long as there is no fighting, I cannot figure out why we can't leave them in together. That, and we have no separate housing for the buck boy anyway.

The photo has Lucille, Rosie and Rico all in the crib, and Jack and Charley in the doorway looking on. One big happy family, don't you think?

I took some chicken photos as well before the really cold weather comes and the ones with big red combs get frostbite. We use the deep litter method, allowing the hay and poo to build up in a thick layer as insulation in the unheated coop. Their feathers do a pretty good job of keeping them warm, but the rooster especially is in danger with that big red comb on his pretty head. Most of the Easter Egger hens, and the 2 remaining Silver Laced Wyandottes have short combs that hold up well through the bitter cold.

Fiona and Richie, the piggies, are hell-bent on finding a way out of their muddy pen, but are otherwise well behaved and still more adorable than obnoxious (that comes later). They come to the fence to greet us and stand on each other's back trying to reach up first for a good head scratch. We haven't had any problems with frostbite on the pigs or goats, both seem able to snuggle up in their bedding and stay warm. Just like the rest of us...all snuggled up for winter...