Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Shout out to my Peep Peeps

Well, we're down to six.

Yesterday Caroline took six peeps to her farm. :) And we found one dead in the coop. :( A victim of SPPDS, it would seem. (Sudden Peep Peep Death Syndrome) He was not attacked. Just not alive.

Still - the peeps are a week old today. I think to only have lost one is pretty amazing.

Equally amazing is the rate at which they grow. The keets have more than doubled in size in just seven days. Insane. They are still ridiculously cute. The new favorite thing is picking up big bits of grass and running at full speed so a sibling won't get it. Them peeps is wacky.

Today we let them out to go forage with their mom and two dads. I'll add a photo later on if I can get around to it. Let's hope they all come back from their big adventure.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pinch Hitters

Many of you know that FOF Caroline has set us up with quite a few of her goats for the milking season. Without them we would probably sell out of cheese in five minutes and only be able to do one market a week.

Since they are temps, they do not have their own bios on our website, so I'll go ahead and introduce them here.

Limmie is the only goat at BHF that doesn't have the white ears and muzzle. I think her brown mouth makes it look like she is always smiling. Christian has to turn the radio station to classical music when she comes in to milk. I guess Air America agitates her.

Thyme is a big sweetie. We call her "Big Thyme". She is one of the girls who needs to be pet every time you see her. She took a while to get used to the milking machine, but now she's an old pro. Dig her giant cud.

Donna Beth
DB has the most amazing markings. She is a beauty. In the milk parlor? Well, did I mention she's pretty? Donna is a pro at massaging you with her head, so I insist we keep her around.

Pepper's real name is Peppermint Schnapps. And she does look kinda drunk in this photo. Pepper is big on tilting her head up at you and showing her teeth. I love Pepper's smiles.

Primrose and Plum

Both of these goats' mamas are part of our original herd. Primrose looks just like her mom, Peggy Sue. And she has the same voice, too....maaaaaaaaaa. Plum's mama is Challenge, and other than the look of her face, there is not much similarity. Challenge is not a needy, "pet-me" goat, but Plum-bob looks for scratchings every day. She is a sweet thing.

We've got two more of Caroline's goats that I will put up when I get better photos. Poor Jakarta looked retarded in the last one I took. And somehow I missed getting a shot at all of Ellie Mae.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We are not a poultry farm

I know anyone new to the blog wouldn't understand that we are a dairy. I am on a bit of a bird kick at the mo'.

I realized I have never talked about our Muscovy ducks. We got three ducklings back on Easter. We named them the Marx brothers: Groucho, Harpo and Karl. One of them - we'll go ahead and say Groucho - met with some unknown disaster that ended in a badly broken leg and had to be euthanized, but the other two have grown to be entertaining little residents.

It would seem that Harpo is a girl and Karl is a big beefy stud. They have been mating a lot recently. I am very hopeful that we will have ducklings some day.

Here is Karl. Pretty boy.

We liked these guys so much that we got three more females last week. They arrived the same day as Dory, and TOD was so excited that he tried to mount one of them. They have been hiding under the barn ever since. Stupid TOD.

Last night they ventured out into the open for a few hours, so I expect them to relax and blend in soon. When they do, I'll take photos. We got a black one, a grey one and then another tan like the Marx twins.

In Peep Peep news, all 13 are still alive and are growing fast. They are also becoming more independent. Though they still prefer to follow Dawn around, some will linger at the feed or the water when she moves on. So adorable. I caught two drinking today.

In chicken news, only Frenda seems to be laying now, at least that we can verify. Christian thinks we'll find a ton of old stinky eggs somewhere if we dare to look. The other day I cracked open one of her eggs and found our first double yolker. I was so excited I took a photo. It's the egg on the bottom half of the pan. How cool is that?

And finally, because I am obsessed, here is another shot of TOD. It's hard to hate him when he is just so darned fabulous.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I am obsessed with peep peeps

I go out and look at them, like, 20 times a day. I need help.

But seriously - could you resist? Look at this!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

OMG -- 13 Peep Peeps!!!!!!!!!!!

After milk chores I went to check on Dawn and she had left the nest with her brood. I snapped a couple pics in the grass and then we gathered up the keets and put them in a cooler. We slowly walked the cooler over to the coop and she followed like a champ.

They are all in there now and we'll leave them for a few days - maybe a week - to keep the cats from having snacks. Then we'll free range 'em and hope for the best. I do not expect all of them to make it, but we'll see.

In total we found 13 keets, saw one unhatched egg that looked to have been kicked out of the nest ages ago and that only leaves one unaccounted for. Much better than the last go 'round.

Two of the little guys are whites like their mama and the rest look like they'll be some kind of color. What's interesting is that it looks like we may have a third coloring - other than the Dads' lavender. Look at the difference in the heads and bodies on the darker ones. It will be interesting to see what they turn out to be.

We are so jazzed.

Here are a few piccies. Eeeeeeeee!

A funny note. When Christian came in this morning to announce hatching, I had just received a pop-up reminder from our Outlook calendar, "Look for Peep Peeps" - due in 17 hours. I was pretty close on that. And super dorky to use Outlook to track incubation.

Breaking news -- We have Peep Peeps!

The hatching has begun. We think there are at least two out - maybe more. Dawn still has them under the truck and this time she seems to be trying to hatch them all. Or at least more than one.

We'll give them a little more time and when she does get up we are going to try to shepherd them all into the coop with mama and leave them there for a while. We are worried that cats might eat peeps.

Yaaaaaaaaaaay, Dawn!

I hope a few make it this time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A New Girlfriend for TOD

At our last Home Sweet Farm Market we met some nice people who overheard me talking about TOD and his need to kill me. When I mentioned I thought it might have something to do with having lost his mate, they came over to tell us that they had a female whose mate had been killed by raccoons. They said she was lonely and after I promised we wouldn't eat her, they agreed to bring her to Blue Heron Farm in the interest of happy turkeys all around.

This is Dory. (Her old mate was Nemo)She is about a month or two younger than TOD, but since she got here he has not stopped trying to impress her. He walks around all puffed up. Very proud. She thinks he's OK, but she's more interested in grass and bugs right now.

Oh, and he still wants to to kill me. It had nothing to do with chicks.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A disturbing news story

No, it's not about rGBH or GMO corn or even CAFOs (Hm-- there are a lot of evil acronyms in farming). It's about the price of scrap metal and what it may do to my favorite thing about Field Store Community, Texas.

Read about it here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Amazon recommends...

Today I bought a birthday gift for my brother from

I was logged in as Christian and at the end of the transaction it gave me some recommendations of other things (not related to this purchase, but to Christian's history, I imagine) that we might want to buy.

I promise I am not making this up:

Recommended for You
Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

Garmin MapSource CD ROM (USA TOPO)

It would seem that I am married to a traveling communist chicken farmer.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yay, Frenda!

Frenda is a laying machine! We've never had young hens before. She's an egg-a-day girl it would seem. Right on, Frenda.

Christian found her first few eggs in the goats' hay feeder. Not knowing how long they had been there, we fed those to the pigs, but now I am collecting.

Because she is young and has just started laying, her eggs are still kinda small. They are a lovely dark tan color with a few speckles. Here they are in the carton next to one of Violet's brown eggs and some of Judy's green ones for a size comparison.

I imagine they will get a little bigger over time, but I am just happy to have eggs again. The old ladies are on strike in the summer heat. :( Either that or Judy made a nest somewhere. chicks would sure be fun...

Monday, August 11, 2008

We don't have a doorbell.

...I wish someone could explain that to Max.

When he goes nuts we say, "T.V." - but he doesn't seem to know what that means. I suspect he hears, "I heard it, too! Doorbell! Doorbell!!! Doooooooooorbellllllllllll, Max! Doorbell!"

Indoor pets can be as much fun as barnyard pets.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

When Turkeys Attack

Almost every day - at some point during the day - I have to stare TOD down and tell him I won't play his game. Welcome to my world.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A New Place to Buy Blue Heron Farm Cheese

Yesterday we went to Sandy's Market in west Houston. They do a small, indoor farmer's market every Wednesday from 10-2. The vendors set up in and among the regular displays at the store - mostly in the bulk and produce areas. Samples are handed out and customers just buy the farmers' products at the checkout with their other items. Really neat set-up.

We have decided that suburban people deserve to eat good cheese, too and so will start attending that market on Wednesdays. Any product that does not sell on Wednesday morning will get stocked on the shelves, so you can get a second chance if you have to work during the demo time.

I hope we'll see some familiar faces as well as meet some new folks. We won't be brining a ton of cheese to this market, as we don't really have a ton...but it is a small way to get good food into the hands of some new folks. Hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chainsaw action

I took some photos of the tree cutting yesterday. Stitched them together with a nifty program to make a panoramic so you can get an idea of how full our yard is with branches and wood.

...and now a hurricane is on the way. I really hope those branches and logs don't go airborne and crash through our big picture window. I am already having a bad day.

This sucks worse than that last thing

Max killed our female turkey this morning.

I didn't think to look in the yard before I let him out this morning and I guess she was in it.

I am absolutely broken hearted. And so is TOD.

This sucks.

I was going to go ahead and butcher her, but there just isn't enough meat to bother. What a total waste. I really hate days like this.

Max has had a poultry problem since we got him earlier this year. We think it is left from his days as a rural stray. We are trying really hard to correct it, but I screwed up and let him out without checking the yard and without his training collar on.

This is an unbelievably upsetting lesson. But one I hope to learn and not get lax about again.



Yesterday while Dawn was off the nest getting something to eat, Christian snuck an egg for me to candle.

We have veins!

I tried to take a photo, but it was really hard to get myself smushed into the coat closet, hold the flashlight and the egg and also focus the camera in the dark. I had to use auto-focus to free up my left hand, but it has trouble working that close to the subject... and in the dark, to boot.

Eventually I gave up and put the egg on a shelf, but then I couldn't block the light from escaping out the sides. Guinea eggs are small. And after all that, the camera still had trouble.

You'll have to use your imagination here - but this is a fertile egg. It's totally out of focus, but I give up. In the lower left, you can see the yolk and the veins branch out from there.

There are 15 in the nest. Go, Dawn, go!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Well, that sucks.

We have been desperate for rain. Aside from the few sprinkles we had in the middle of our hay debacle, this summer has been unbearably dry. Last night it finally looked promising.

It started getting really blustery at about five. REALLY blustery. At around 5:30 I heard a strange noise. Kind of a cracking noise like really close lightening, but then it evolved into more of a groan. Followed by a thud.

It was the giant cedar tree in our front yard.

I went to get Christian, who was letting the goats into the barn. We did a cursory inspection that revealed a VERY high likelihood that the VERY large section that was down would also manage to pull down a nice sized portion of the big, beautiful live oak in which it was caught. Bummer.

The weight of the cedar did, in fact, pull down two large live oak branches within the next hour. Here is what we awoke to this morning. ...check out Max in the right hand corner for scale.


Guess we need to get a chain saw.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


The turkey formerly known as Thanksgiving shall now be known as TOD. (Turkey of Death)

That turkey is freakin' me out, man.

He hasn't really attacked me, but he rushes me. And freaks my stuff out. A lot.

Sometimes it is head on, but the scary episodes are when he comes running at Mach 2 , in total silence, from behind. It has not gone unnoticed that his gait is exactly like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

Like I said, so far he hasn't actually attacked me. But I've got my eye on him. And I ain't afraid to kick him if I have to. TOD, you are on notice.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Peep Peep II, Electric Boogaloo

Well, Dawn is setting. The incubation period is 25-28 days, so we'll see what we get in a month.

If she doesn't give up before then.

I am wondering if I should buy an incubator. I really want some more peep peeps.

Oh, and speaking of the guineas...I think we're going to eat one. And when I say we, I mean Christian.

Tony - the alpha guinea, has become VERY mean and he routinely terrorizes the other poultry now - chickens, ducks and even the turkeys. :( He mixed it up with Russell Crowe (our rooster) the other day and RC lost all of his tail feathers in the battle. Such a bummer.

Two males of any fowl breed seems to be one too many. Unless there is a huge harem of females to keep them happy. He really needs to go if our farm is to regain its peaceful balance. And I wouldn't feel good about killing him if we didn't make use of the carcass. It just doesn't seem right. I am not sure we are up to the task of butchering yet, so it may be a while. I'll take a photo if we make coq a vin. guinea fowl are supposed to be great eating.