Sunday, May 31, 2009

More ToDs!

We have poults!

A couple days ago our feed store finally got in the annual turkeys. We bought four. Little poults are notoriously dumb and delicate - an often lethal combination. We hope to get two adults out of this, though it would be great if we could successfully raise all four.

One is actually going to be a wedding present for some friends. (I'm pretty sure they don't read the blog...hope I'm not ruining the surprise.) I'm going to crop the photo below and put it in a card. We will be raising a free range, naturally fed turkey for their first married Thanksgiving together. This is arguably the weirdest wedding gift I have ever given. Oh wait - no. I gave a taxidermy jackalope once. Long story.

Anyway - someone gave the bride a nice Calphalon roaster at the shower and she seemed pretty jazzed about it. I think this will complement that nicely.

The poults are in the house now, but will move to the coop shortly; we recently vacated the guineas to make room. Our friend D'Ann took 10 of the keets. The other six are free ranging with their mamas and proud papa. We are in a serious bird-a-palooza now. Let's hope all of the little ones are tough.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


For serious. My explaining this photo can't possibly be as good as whatever story you might be making up in your mind. Write your own caption.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It is love

Milhouse and Chicken sittin' in a tree...

Monday, May 25, 2009

13, 14, 15 ....16!

I was washing dishes in the dairy yesterday morning when Christian came in and told me to hurry up and follow him. I followed him out back and looked where he had pointed his finger and saw Mickie with three little white peeps. She had hatched them out and was on walkabout with them.

We went back to her nest where nine eggs remained. It was reminiscent of Dawn's first attempt at motherhood when she came home with one peep. She probably felt it, thought she was done and came home, abandoning who knows how many eggs in the process. Anyway, experience told us she wouldn't return to hatch more, so we set off to get her in the coop with the new peeps before the impending rain started.

We got the peeps in right away, but Mickie wouldn't follow at first. I figured Dawn could raise them if she never came, and left them in the coop to go finish chores. I asked C if we could gather the remaining eggs and put them under a lamp, just to see if we could get more and he got it all set up while I kept washing.

Let me just say I had NO IDEA how close to put the light to the eggs. But more than once I thought I saw an egg or two move.

We finished morning chores and found Mickie at the coop door with one peep who squeezed out to be with her and one more wedged under the door. I sent all of them in with Dawn and the others and hoped for the best. When I came out later, Mickie was sitting on all 14 peeps and Dawn was just stretching her legs. Success. We have co-mommies.

Later that morning I went back to check on the eggs and heard peeping. For real. From solid eggs. Totally creepy. But also exciting.

By that night, one egg had a hairline crack in it and more peeping.

...and a couple started to stink. I think I may have cooked the duds.

Long story short, we hatched out one last peep this morning. We let him sit under the lamp until he was dry and moved him off with his mommies and sibs. We chucked the rest of the eggs, which showed no signs of life. At last count, all 16 were doing fine, though "Retarded Peep", as we are calling the late hatch, was a little slow. (Hence the name. Please know we are using retarded as it is intended, to mean slowed - not as a pejorative.) We hope he'll make it, but if he doesn't we are still pretty pleased. 16 guineas at $5 each... time to line up buyers.

Oh, and as a cute update, here's a shot my dad took when my folks were here Friday. Eeeee!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Peep Saga Redux

Well-- the peep story ended up being way less than straightforward.

Dawn is in the coop with 11 right now.

One of the original 12 died overnight - and we think one more looks a little weak. It's one that Christian helped out of its shell, so it wasn't too likely to make it on its own anyway. But we'll see.

Mickie is back on the nest with 12 eggs. This after we initially cleared the nest to try -- unsuccessfully -- to move all moms, babies and remaining eggs to the coop. Mickie wouldn't go and Dawn wouldn't sit on the moved eggs. So we left the babies with Dawn and moved the unbroken eggs back to Mic.

We think there were two clutches of eggs at different stages of development. That the mamas started to brood at different times and that some aren't "cooked" yet.

At least that's the thought this morning. From two farmers who know very little about birds and who have been too lazy or busy to look up the odds of that happening.

I didn't get around to taking photos until the light was really difficult last night, so here's a kind of cruddy one. I'll try to get more soon and will post an update if the rest of the eggs start to hatch. Again - they are cute but totally not needed at BHF. They can be yours if the price is right.

Edited at 9:33 -- OK- it's hard to count squirmy peep peeps. Looks like we have 12 now, not 11. So I guess that means we started with 13. No movement on the rest of the eggs yet. Oh! And Audrey, the other pied guineas, has started to brood a nest of 20-30 eggs. Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slippery Slope

So-- I'm not sure I am a vegetarian anymore.

If you remember back to April, I ate Dory, the she-male ninja turkey. Never posted about the whole fry, but it went well and I would highly recommend the cooking method to anyone considering it. We brined him for about 24 hours - an hour per pound - and then thoroughly dried him before beginning. The result between the brining and the quick sear of the hot oil was a really moist, flavorful bird. I actually enjoyed it.

Here's a photo for fun.

So last week we were telling our neighbor, Larry, about it and I told him I would be open to eating other animals, so long as I knew exactly how and where they were raised and what they had eaten. That maybe we would raise a few other meat animals. He told us he puts a calf in the freezer every year from his herd that is raised only on milk and grass. Now for reasons unknown, Larry REALLY wants me to be an omnivore, so when I said I thought that something like that would be OK, he promptly brought over a giant steak.

I ate it. Not the whole steak, but a few pieces. Another photo for your viewing pleasure.

Not bad. I wouldn't go out of my way for it, but it was pretty good.

Then last weekend I ate goat at D'Ann's house. And that was actually REALLY delicious. No photos available.

Crazy, huh? I guess I'm no longer a vegetarian, though I won't be eating a lot of meat and I won't eat any conventionally farmed meat. I think I'm going to be a friend-a-tarian. I want to know my meat and its owners.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

12:51 Update: Nine and counting

The peep peep tally is at nine and counting.

Both mamas are still under the bench, but I have seen nine keets hopping around in the grass beside them. Oh - and three colorings - it looks like we'll have lavenders, whites and pieds from this batch. :) Photos still to come. Yay, peep peeps!

They are ALL for sale.

Oh noez! Too much cutez!

Uh-oh. I think we're a little out of control.

Saturday we went to a graduation party at Fairwoods Farm. (Congratulations, again, Amy!)and the plan was to bring home a kitten. I had been ready to try again for a while now and D'Ann's barn kitty was just weaning some little ones, so -- you know -- good times.

Well, we had just picked out my kitty to bring home later when some of the kids came running, trailed by a little yellow puppy that they said some people just dumped. D'Anne's grandkids said MeeMaw would "shoot that dog with her 22" if she saw it. (A rumor later dispelled. MeeMaw only shoots the strays that threaten her goats. Or dig in her beautiful garden. The rest she sends to a rescue.)

The kids' powerful argument coupled with the puppy's insane cuteness and sweet, submissive personality earned her an immediate car ride over to BHF. Christian crated her on our porch and then came back to the party.

By party's end we went home, new kitty in hand, to a vastly changed house dynamic. Meet the newest indoor animals.


and Little Chicken.

It was sometime after his return to the party, Little Chicken safely stowed at home, that Christian made a little cuteness confession. He had recently made a deal to get Trudy a co-worker. We are officially awaiting the weaning of a Great Pyrenees puppy from Swede Farm. She was going to be a surprise for me, but at the point we'd acquired two baby animals, it seemed just silly to keep any charade going. It was time to get used to cute overload.

So today, on a mission to get back to the real world, which is not always pretty, I decided it was time to break up the nest that Dawn and Mickie were sitting on. As I mentioned, I was sure the time for a healthy hatch had long passed, and I NEVER want to deal with putrid eggs again. (The thought of that duck egg still triggers my gag reflex.) So this morning I went out with a broom in hand, ready to get the girls a-movin'. I took a quick peek under the low bench where they had built their nest, to determine who I should try to move first, and found myself face to beak with a little lavender peep peep. The eggs are hatching!

We've only seen two, but there were at least 18 eggs in the nest, being brooded by two mamas. We'll give them a little longer to get them all out and then go scoop up the keets and move the whole family to the chicken coop. I'll get photos later, but seriously. Do you think you can take that much cute in one day? Good thing I don't have any Pyr photos yet. Oy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh, Alice

I guess Alice still really wants to be a mom. Despite flying off and pretty much rejecting her little ducklings, she seems to have a highly developed instinct for actually hatching out the babies.

A few days ago, I found a crazy nest of mixed eggs. There were three duck eggs, a green chicken egg and a brown chicken egg. It seemed that three birds were laying in the same little nest, burrowed into a hay bale in the barn. We didn't know how long the eggs had been there, but since there were not too many, I went ahead and brought them in the house to eat. It couldn't have been more than a few days since they were laid since we still have baby ducks about. Alice must have just started laying again.

A couple days later, I went to check the same spot to pick up any new eggs and Alice was there. I figured she was making her daily deposit, so I left. When she got up to eat breakfast, I found her latest egg, plus a serious clutch of eggs that had previously been hidden. They had to have been there when I pulled the other eggs, but I failed to notice them as they were already packed under feathers and hay. Alice had gotten them ready to brood. I was completely blown away and I definitely wanted to share the crazy nest with Christian, so I left all of the eggs there to show him.

Later we both went out to see the nest and Alice was firmly in place. I told C that we were going to have to take her off of it and remove all of the eggs to break her broody spell. We knew her eggs weren't fertile, as we lost our male a while ago. (I was going to post about it, but C said I wrote entirely too many entries about dead animals. But he actually died two weeks before all of those sweet ducklings were born. A nice legacy for old Karl.)

Anyway, we got a bag to put the eggs in, removed a very unhappy Alice from the nest and pulled out her treasure: about six duck eggs, maybe eight brown chicken eggs, two green chicken eggs and a guinea egg.

Poor Alice. She won't be hatching out that bizarre clan.

And in other failed motherhood news, we are not sure Dinner Duck's nest has any viable eggs in it, either. We believe the time has pretty much come and gone for a successful hatch and we have not seen babies. We candled three of her eggs and found them empty and tossed them. The fourth seemed like it may have had a duckling in it, but now I'm not so sure. I wish I had marked the calendar when she started to set.

Then it seems the two guineas who have been brooding might have dud eggs as well. We pulled one to candle and it was definitely not fertile, either. I can't remember when they began to brood, but I think the three weeks it takes to hatch have come and gone for them as well.

To think I was just bragging about our fertility.

Oh well, at least the guineas can try again. I guess we'll go steal their eggs today. Poor non-mamas.

Edited at 10:30am: Dinner Duck's eggs were not just empty, they were rotten. That's why the light wouldn't penetrate them when we candled. And when I say rotten, I mean stinking, green, I-almost-threw-up-twice-when-we-opened-one rotten. We think she may have started a nest on OLD eggs left over from the days of our Pekins, Maverick and Iceman. ...that would make those eggs about two years old. ...hurl.

Dinner Duck is out and about commiserating with Alice. Things will be fine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pig butts!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, seriously. Little piglet butts may be the cutest thing ever.

We picked up four new piglets yesterday, though only two are staying here. The other are going to be fattened up at Fairwoods Farm along with one of our two semi-wild guys.

It turned out that our friend D'Ann had actually been looking for the wild kind, but couldn't find them. On top of that, we were only able to place one of our two with a restaurant, so she got Spotty Pig and we are growing the brindle one out to about 180 pounds for Feast.

Even with just the two Bacon brothers, we were overflowing with whey, so hopefully these new guys will be good eaters. So far, it looks promising.

Even though one of the new kids is spotty, too, the snouts look nothing at all like those of the wild pigs. Here is the one we kept for comparison. ...growing nicely. :)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Anyone know the average yield for crookneck squash?

I don't know if it's normal or it's the goat poop, but the crookneck squash is monster. I stopped counting at about 30 little squashes. ..on one plant.

I am going to harvest the male blossoms to stuff with goat cheese, and I may pick some baby squashes just to try them.

Seriously - is this normal? Good thing we like squash. And good thing I didn't plant a nine-pack like I did with the stupid Chinese cabbage. Look at all the little buds still starting!

Monday, May 4, 2009

What a week!

Ok- so I went out to take more garden photos today. I can't believe the difference we are seeing in just one week. Here is the photo from last Monday:

And here is the same shot today. Go veg!!! Look at the tomato plant in the far corner! And the peppers in front of it. The beans are at least 2x as tall, too.

The crookneck squash are going bonkers and the broccoli-- don't get me started. Two heads have gone to flowers because we can't keep up the pace eating it. There are jalapenos ready to be picked and we have put in okra where we harvested Chinese cabbage.

Oh - and we may yet get Brussels sprouts -- look!

I am so digging the garden. No pun intended.

Sweet, bad girls

The other night I was coming in from milking and noticed it was VERY quiet as I approached our yard. Too quiet.

The little girls had busted out of their pen and were quietly working on the little flower bed underneath the crape myrtles. They got their fill of roses, crape myrtle, dewberry vines and other deliciousness as the sun set.

Sweet, bad girls. At least it wasn't my veggie garden.