Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sheep Rustlers?

The Commander cut down a dead Pine tree and it tore a branch from a nearby Birch, that meant it was an unexpected snack time for the sheep and goats!  Just toss it in, call the girls, and let them have at it.

Between the goats and the sheep the branches were stripped bare in not time, no foliage goes to waste around her.

On an odd note the Commander was walking the fence line today and he found a portion of the the back fence that had been cut through and placed in such a way as to allow the sheep to escape without having to climb over the downed portion.  The cut fence was pulled away and set against a tree to allow free passage.  This was on the back fence line, behind it is more of our property so whoever did it didn't do it by accident.  Do we have to worry about rustlers?  I see no reason why a hunter would do this as the sheep have cleaned this area of the woods out so deer would have no reason to forage there.  Very strange and worrisome.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Garden Store - Closed!

We harvested the last of the potatoes this weekend so the garden is now closed for the year.  All that is left is to restock it with sheep and goat poo, till the soil, and let if set for the Winter.

All in all it was a great year!  We got more squash than we could possibly eat, many many days worth of tomatoes, an equally huge haul of cucumbers, and well over 20 lbs of potatoes.  Of course next year we will try to do better!

Monday, September 24, 2012

More Fall Foul

Juliette has somehow managed to survive a second year of trying to hatch out a clutch of eggs.  She failed on two attempts this year and was almost killed at least three times that I know of.  Her last nest was destroyed by who knows what and Molly got really sick from eating at least a few abandoned eggs.  I am very greatful that she has begun sleeping in the coop again at night.

Momma chicken has done a great job of raising her five keets and two chickens.  I will need the keets this year because I only have three adult guineas left (eight killed by various predators this year).

Momma takes her younglings everywhere, including the goat barn.  Can you spot the perching animal that doesn't belong?

Momma like to use the goat barn as a doorway to get from the backyard area into the woods.  I think it is hilarious to see goats run screaming from their barn having been scared by little chicks.

Momma's babies are getting too big for their mini-coop so we have been moving it slowly, a few feet every day, towards the main coop area. 

Here is a shot of the coop half way there!  The mini-coop is actually in the main coop area tonight.  After a few days I plan on closing up the mini-coop to see if momma will bring them into the main coop.  I hope so because the mini-coop won't make it this Winter.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hopes and Prayers

My son is in Afghanistan.  I am very proud of him.  He sent me this picture today.  Hopefully he will be coming home soon.  You can't see him but he is in the front row holding the flag.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ruffles have ridges...Do eggs?

Click on the picture above and take a close look at the egg.  It is full of ridges and wrinkles.  Do older chickens lay older looking eggs?  Ha!

Seriously, that is one odd looking egg.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Freeze Warning

We had a "freeze" warning early last week so I had to go out and harvest the rest of the garden, ready or not.

There were a few large cucumbers and squash hiding out under the leaves.... a few squash that looked to be frost damaged.  On a whim I decided to try and harvest a few potatoes for stew, they looked great!.  I have a LOT more out there waiting, tucked away safe from the cold in a blanket of dirt.

Many of the tomatoes are still green, I'm hoping they will ripen while sitting on the kitchen counter. 

Looks like I will have to eat a few BLT's this week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bye Bye Berkley!

Some nice people came to the farm last week and they decided that Berkley was the ram for them!

They also took Zoe...

...and Belle to keep him company.

That left little Bablo as the only lamb remaining from this years birthings.  I never would have imagined that we would have sold seven sheep and two kids this year.  Those sales paid for the entire years supply of hay and then some!

I know I can't keep all the animals that are born here but every year there is one that just breaks my heart when they leave.  "I will miss you Berkely!  I hope you have a good life at your new home!"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall Foul

The chickens have kicked into high egg production as of late.  I don't know what has changed but maybe the temperature dropping a bit has made egg laying easier?

Leopold's tail feathers seem to be growing back after the guineas had pulled them all out this Spring.  Good thing they are coming back in as it will be cold this Winter.

Lucy the lone Rhode Island Red is an egg laying machine.  She is far and away the best layer here.  If you want great egg production the Rhode Island Reds seem to be the way to go.

Mamma hen is doing a great job raising her two hatchlings and the guinea keets.  I will be moving them in with the rest of the flock sometime this week.

We have had almost no ticks this year, the guineas have done a terrific job.  If you have a tick problem guineas are your solution!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Smell of Hay

I sometimes have to put hay in the outside rack for the little ones as Chip pushes them away from the inside feeder. The outside feeder also creates less of a mess in the barn.

Of course putting the hay in the outside rack has its own dangers. I don't think hay has a very strong smell but then I'm not a sheep.

It never fails that as soon as the babies start eating their hay outside the sheep come and get their share - even if they have to pull it though the fence!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What to do with Squash?

 The long Summer and warm weather has made the garden a vegetable producing machine this year.  We have been eating cucumbers every day, they are easy to get rid of.  The squash, not so much.

At first we would cut the squash and saute it in olive oil and garlic, yummy.  After a few days of that I tried frying it with added bread crumbs, again delicious.  The problem is (if it is really a problem) that the garden has produced well over 20 (so far, more are growing) squash and I'm running out of ideas of how to cook it.

I saw online a trick where thin sliced squash can be put into the oven and turned into chips, the kids really like this one!

Can you guess what I'm making here with the shredded squash?

I'm making squash pancakes!

They looked a little scary while I was making them....

...but once they were cooked they tasted great (according to the Commander) with syrup.

I tried grilling squash dipped in butter and garlic salt - it too was great!

I was in the store yesterday and saw Summer squash for sale, they must have been 1/5 to 1/8 the size of the ones from my garden.  We certainly have been blessed this year.

Tonight we had squash, garlic, olive oil, mushrooms, and chopped spinach sauteed style over pasta, meatballs and red sauce - again it was fantastic.  I still have too much squash and have decided to slice and dice it into various sizes and shapes for consumption this Winter.  I am freezing it and then sticking it into vacuum packed freezer bags, looks like we will be enjoying for some time to come.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The NOT Empty Chair

Cascade sheep are easier to handle than Icelandic sheep because they are about 1/3 smaller but that doesn't mean that the process of trimming their hooves and giving shots is effortless.  I'm always looking for ways to do things better so when I saw the Sheep Chair on the Premier web page I figured I'd give it a try.

Here is Brighton after getting his ear tag and hooves trimmed in the chair, he may be a bit too small for the contraption.

The goats came into the sheep barn to steal some kelp from the free choice mineral feeder so Gidget had her chance at using the chair.  The Nigerian Dwarf goats were just too small to fit comfortably in the chair so Gidget had to get her hooves trimmed with the Commander holding her while he was seated in a lawn chair.

I keep sheep minerals, kelp, and baking soda available for the sheep at all times.  The baking soda is supposed to prevent bloat.  I have never had a case pf bloat here and the sheep eat it as needed so I think it works.  All the animals love kelp - who knew?

He thinks he looks like a pirate with his new ear tag!

Belle looks very lovely and delicate.  Both her and Bablo have very thick and soft fleece.

Berkley fits the chair perfectly.  He was so easy to handle, it was almost as if he ran into the stall and took a seat.  He is a very handsome and gentle fellow!

I don't think we could have handled Zoe without the chair.  It did seem like she was laboring to breath, I wonder if the chair was at the wrong incline angle?  Does anyone else use this type of chair?  If so I would love tips on how you do things.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Laboring Day

They hay racks have really cut down the mess and wasted hay in the sheep barn, but we still need to clean it.  So this Labor Day weekend was spent doing just that!

The ram shed was cleaned clear down to the boards and left to dry while the rams were busy out in their pasture.  They only get to graze in their pasture once a week so they didn't even notice the work that was going on.

The girls barn is a bit harder to keep clean because of the amount of traffic.  As the lambs are sold off things become easier although I do miss the lambs!

I love a clean goat barn with the smell of fresh wood chips!  Too bad it doesn't last very long.

The waste hay was dumped in low areas in the forest to fill in mosquito breeding spots while the hay that had more poo in it was spread in selected area to improve the soil and fill in holes.  The places where we did this last year have grown lush and green, I hope it keeps working.

I wasn't the only one exhausted by the end of the weekend!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Goodbye Brighton!

Brighton departed today for his new home, I will miss him.  The family that picked him up was wonderful and I'm sure he will love his new home with a new Icelandic herd.

(I know these kind of posts don't really say anything but I keep this blog as kind of a diary and Brighton's leaving (or any of the animals for that matter) is something I want to remember.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bentley's New Home

Bentley went to his new home today and I think he is going to like it there!  After growing up here in the middle of "forest" pastures he is going to love all the real pasture land that his new home has.