Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

This is my first "real" winter in my place. I moved in last February, and while it was cold, and I got some snow, it's not like early winter this year!

Before Christmas, it snowed for several days, then melted, and then snowed, and then melted, never melting completely off, so when it snowed for 2 days straight over Christmas, I ended up with 8-10" of the white stuff.

Other than the previously mentioned bucket brigade to get water to the animals, it's ok. I like snow. I like under a foot of snow. In Reno, the year that I moved to Oregon, I had 3 feet of snow, with drifts over the top of the hood of my 4wd Dodge truck (and sub-zero nights...)! I did NOT like that...

Tang is unfazed by the white stuff - in fact, she eats a lot of it, lessening the water chores. I still take buckets down each morning, bust the ice out of her trough and fling the ice floes out on the ground, but while she drinks some, she's clearly getting enough elsewhere. She also frequently has "elf toes" - hooves full of packed snow, which falls out when she gets excited about her next meal.

Given that it's almost a full-time job to keep my house warm with the wood stove, I'm spending a lot of time inside.

This weather is perfect for knitting. Well, "Duh," you say!

I've been exploring some patterns in my head, and knitting more hats (see here for the latest), a hat for my sister.

With my free-lance work becoming increasingly unpredictable, I'm faced with trying to find a job in an area with roughly 20% unemployment. While I would like to be able to work from home (dyeing, knitting, traffic plans, etc.), none of those add up to enough to make sure that I can pay the bills and have enough left over for emergencies (as Tang's colic demonstrated very clearly). I'll keep working towards developing the alternative income sources, but in the meantime, I'll need to find something steady.

I'm hoping to get over to the valley soon - I'm almost out of coffee. We don't have a WinCo on this side of the Cascades, and they have a Kona blend that's $6/lb. It's quite good. When I get over the mountain, I always stop there and stock up (it's a very inexpensive place to shop), and try to have 2 lbs. of coffee in the freezer at any given time. Their bulk flour is Bob's Red Mill, and I'm looking forward to exploring their gluten-free options.

I'm going to work on eliminating wheat from my diet - it's going to be a bit like not having mushrooms (having to read every label), but I've proved to myself that I can still bake, making GF spritz cookies for Christmas. Everyone loved them, and most didn't even know they were made without "normal" flour. I found this great blog, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, and I'm using that as a starting point. Obviously, meat and veggies and salad are wheat free (not counting dressing), so I've got a good motivation to start using the copious amounts of meat in my freezer!! I love to cook, but it's hard to cook for one. Mostly, I make more, and freeze the left-overs (unless it's something really good, and I have it for breakfast and lunch the next day!). Finding this blog, with her success in substituting alternative flours in baking, removes the main reason that I've put off leaving wheat out of my diet - bread!! I'll have to experiment a bit, but I'm looking forward to it. Anything truly hideous will become bird food...

On that note, I wish for all a happy, peaceful and fulfilling New Year. May yours be filled with what delights and inspires you!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Welcoming the return of the light

On this, the first full day of winter, I'm looking forward to the increasing day lengths!

I was awakened by the sound of rain/snow on the window. I got up to do chores, and found it snowing with big fat flakes (no rain), and it was accumulating quickly.

There's nothing more delightful than snow dusting the trees. I like the way it just rests on the needles and branches. 

Snow falling on Junipers
The "Lonely Pine"
A small juniper looking rather seasonal

And Tang is also wearing a snow blanket:

She's not really cold - no shivering. Because she was dry when it started, it's clumping on the outer layer of her ample winter coat and not soaking in. This is her usual manner of eating her hay, spreading it out so she can pick out the barley heads first, and then eat the rest.

I'll be snuggling up by the fire today, for sure!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What a long, strange week it's been...

It actually started a week ago Thursday, when I got home from errands about 4 pm, and found Tang lying down in her favorite corner. She does not lie down at this time of day, as it's close to feeding time, and she's usually standing at her gate waiting for me to show up.

The kicker was her looking at her belly... Oh, this is so not good. I checked her gut sounds and there weren't any. I said many very bad words.

I called the vet, they said bring her in. She's doing so much better at loading - going right in, even if she wasn't feeling well. At the vet's, she has to go into the stocks - she doesn't think she'll fit, and wasn't having any part of it, so I got the lunge line that I use to get her in the trailer, and did the same thing with it (around a pole to her halter, the loose end around her butt and another pole, and pulling...). She finally went in. After that, there were some liberties taken with her person to check if there was an impaction (think gyn exam...) for which she stood calmly.

She got a big shot of Banamine (a pain-reliever), and we got sent home. Friday morning, she seemed a little more herself, and I thought we'd dodged it.

Saturday morning, she wasn't interested in hay at all (so not the great red hoover's modis operandi), so I gave her another dose of Banamine, and called the vet's emergency line. He called me back and said to bring her in again, which I did. Back into the stocks she went, more liberties were taken, and she got lubed and horse pepto bismol, and they took blood to check her cell counts. While we waited, I got coffee, since I hadn't gotten any yet. Turns out her white blood cell count was low, and there is another that was, too, but I forget what it was. He thought it might be a stomach virus, and that it would run it's course pretty quickly.

Sunday, she was depressed, but eating because I gave her a flake of hay every couple of hours, which she thought was cool, though unusual.

Monday morning, she was very gassy, and still off her feed, so I called the vet and hauled her down again. He listened to her (tied to the trailer), and took some blood to check her levels again, and, because of a conversation with a friend who's husband is a vet, I asked him to draw blood for a test for Potomac Horse Fever. A lot of her symptoms matched those of a horse that my friend's husband had seen that turned out to have a very mild case. So they did that, and I loaded her back in the trailer to eat while we waited for the blood count results.

When I got into the office, the vet was waiting for me, and was concerned, as her white cell count had gone down again. The other one that I can't remember had gone up slightly, but was still low. He had me unload her, put her in the stocks so that he could put an IV line in her neck. He thought (as did I) that treating her for PHF while waiting for the test results wouldn't hurt - waiting until we got them back (if it was) could be catastrophic. I had promised her that morning that she wouldn't have "invasive" procedures, and she didn't have to go through that, but did get a 6" square section of her neck shaved for the IV. She got the first dose, they sent me home with another, so that I would have one if I didn't get to the feed store in time. Fortunately, the antibiotic is over the counter, and inexpensive...

So for the next 4 days, I would give her her antibiotics in the morning while she was eating her hay. I knew she was fed up with being messed with, and tying her up to do it would just have pissed her off. She was eating better, but there was no radical difference in her demeanor. I called the vet Thursday to let them know that, and they said keep an eye on her and let them know if there were any changes.

During this time, I sent a cheek swab from Tang to a friend who's a alternative medicine healer. I don't know how it works, just that it does - she can tell from this what's wrong. She called me back and told me that Tang had a stuck ileal-cecal valve. Interestingly, my friend's husband speculated that her cecum wasn't working right.

She had some sand in her manure, so I had gotten some Metamucil at Costco to give to her. My healer friend said she needed peppermint, camomile or fenugreek for the stuck valve. I ended up getting peppermint tea, and ripping open 5 tea bags to add to Tang's "slop" in the evening. She had no issues eating orangey-pepperminty soaked timothy pellets... Because she was also having some diarrhea, I picked up some probiotic powder and added that to the mix on Thursday. Thursday morning, she was picking at her hay, so I hand grazed her for about 30 minutes. She thought that was great, and was eating well. Then I put her back in her paddock... She walked away, then tossed her head, and started trotting. Then she shifted into the most beautiful, floating extended trot, up to a canter, and then a flat-out gallop around her paddock. She was doing sliding stops in the corners, and misjudged the last one, and hit the fence enough to get zapped (not take it out). She jumped backwards, and stood there with her head up, mane askew blowing out her nostrils (it's a hard, short blow, and makes lots of noise). I figured that she was feeling better.

Friday, I had to go to Portland for a Holiday lunch with the folks that I work for (the food was awesome...), and when I got home, Tang walked along the driveway as I drove up (she hadn't done this in over a week), and nickered at me when I got out of the car.

Saturday, she finally started looking more like herself, a little brighter, and was trotting a bit and making slight guinea pig noises. I should say that, though this mare is 15.1, and weighs about 1450 lbs, she makes the funniest little squeaky noises when I'm feeding her. These had been absent for the duration of her issues so far. I was thrilled to hear them, limited though they were.

This morning, she had cleaned up all the "crumbs", and was very excited to see me - trotting, squeaking, and generally being herself.  I was beyond grateful. I took her IV out, and she's now waiting for me to come feed her...
The apparatus

Come on - Feed ME!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And then they were few...

The great terminal turkey adventure is complete - and what an adventure it was!

Because the weather was iffy, I went to Sue's and picked up her birds on Monday afternoon. Between that and errands and gassing up, I didn't get home until after dark. I managed to sort my turkeys with the aid of a flashlight and head lamp, so that they could be loaded into the truck in the morning.

Mr. Big objected to me grabbing him off the roost, and clocked me a good one, but he got to stay home, even so, with a bronze hen, a chocolate hen, and the royal palm hen. These will form the nucleus of a breeding flock (I hope!!). The broadbrested whites will be processed at home in the next couple of weeks, and ground into sausage. I'm looking for good, interesting recipes, if you know of any...

After loading my birds in the morning, I started down the driveway - but, there was a small problem. My windshield wipers weren't working. There is a problem with the switch - during the summer, and dry weather, it works just fine. When it rains, it doesn't - how very inconvenient. However, because this appointment had been made a year ago, and I had already sold most of the turkeys and had to meet the purchasers, I continued on. In the past, the wipers had come to their senses and worked after a bit of time on the road...

They didn't.

We drove over the mountain, into increasingly heavy snow, which without wipers was rather difficult. I ended up pulling over in a brake check area to get out my ice scraper (long handled, fortunately), and periodically, until we cleared the snow, rolled down my window and scraped off the snow in the lower corner of the windshield so that the snow would flow off of it.

We got to Salem and it dumped - poured so hard that I really couldn't see - Sue could see out of the passenger window and was great support for continued onward progress.

We had anticipated the weather and left a little early, and even with the trials and tribulations, we made it to our destination about an hour early. It was quite the hopping place, with trailers, trucks and people everywhere. They have also, in the past year become USDA certified, which adds a level of complication that required the construction of an office to handle paperwork, but also provides a place to sit and talk while waiting.

Our mutual friend, Belinda, lives not far away, and since we hadn't seen her in ages, came to sit with us. She also brought ice, which saved us a trip out in the weather to get it (Bless Her!!). We had a lovely time, with discussions all over the map, to the amusement of other people waiting! Eventually, even though our birds got started late (due to some schmuck being 30 minutes late for the first appt. of the day), we were only 1/2 hour behind our scheduled time to leave.

I had sold 8 birds through Central Oregon Locavore, a first for me, having a middle man/woman. I had arranged to be in Bend for the drop off at 6. I called my contact and explained that I thought the earliest I would be there was 6:30.  The weather was better on the way home, fewer showers, no snow, and wet pavement all the way. The lighting at dusk with the oncoming head lights were a challenge, however.

We made it over the mountain and within about 30 miles had dry pavement and no precipitation, and best of all, a dry windshield!! We got to the drop site at 6:20, and by the time we had all the coolers in and set up, people started showing up.

It was really fun to meet and talk with the purchasers of my birds. I gave them my spiel, gave them the "instructions" - heritage birds cook WAY faster than the broadbreasted, and I don't want anyone to say that they are dry, when they don't have to be - and were finally down to just one left. The time window was from 6:30 to 8, but I needed to get Sue dropped off, and get home to feed Tang and get Lyra out of dog jail.

After those chores, I called one of my privately sold contacts, and I will be delivering hers and the other one today.

So, overall, I'm a bit disappointed in the sizes of the birds this year. The range in weights were from 5 lbs. to 20 lbs (Mr. Almost Big). The average was 11 lbs., but 6 were under 10 lbs., and 4 were under 9 lbs. Some of these were not raised by me until later, and their early feeding (or lack thereof) stunted their growth severely. I knew that one would be about 5 lbs., and she was - she was always a dink.

So, next year:
  • Home-raised poults (if there are any) will be given the high protein ration from the beginning.
  • Any purchased poults (I'm thinking some midget whites would be good) will also get the best food they can. 
  • If I purchase any additional turkeys past the poult stage, I will be more selective about getting them - checking condition, etc., because now I know that I can't make up for inadequate feeding early.
  • I will get greenery into their diet more. They had grass through their early growth, but then Summer hit, and they were eating dried grass - still good, but not as good. This means putting in some alfalfa hay, or seeing if I can get them to eat rabbit pellets, and experiment that hasn't show much promise so far.
Last night, it snowed... but it's clear, and I'm headed off to deliver the remaining birds. I have 3 small birds (large chicken-sized) for me, which is perfect.

It was a fool-hardy decision to travel without wipers, but with caution and care, we made it.

I'm thankful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Winter Prep

Before I left for Portland last week, I had to take care of some winter preparation for the birds - Snow was coming!

My neighbor had agreed to pick up eggs and make sure the turkeys didn't run out of food, so that wasn't an issue. The problem was the mid-20's temps that were predicted. I have 2 heated bases for waterers, but you can't use plastic water fonts on them. I had acquired a couple of 3 gal. metal fonts at a feed store closing, but the turkeys were going through 7 gal. of water in about 2 days - I was to be gone for 5.

I have two 8 gal. metal fonts, and the two 3 gal. and assorted plastic fonts. I have 4 pens and 2 heated bases... How was I going to make this work?

The ducks got their 50 gallon stock tank cleaned out, the waterer removed from their pen (one of the 8 gallon ones), and a ramp up to the stock tank. I wasn't sure they were actually getting in there, and since this would be their water source, I decided to make sure they could. The duck is much smaller than the drake, and I wasn't sure she could get up to it, even standing on her tippy-toes!

The peafowl got a heated base and a 3 gal. metal font. They are very, very thrifty birds. They go through about 3 gallons in a week and I fill their feeder even less than that!

The chickens got one of the 8 gallon metal fonts on a heated base, along with their 7 gal. plastic one set out where the sun could hit it and perhaps melt any ice that developed. They also got one of the 3 gallon metal fonts as a back up.

The turkeys got a new heated base, one of the 8 gallon metal fonts, and 4 other fonts, a mixture of plastic and metal - 21 gallons available, all told.

The reason this is such a pain is that there is only one faucet for outside water, and it's in the pumphouse. With the weather freezing, there would be filling of waterers and then draining of hoses to be done. I didn't want my neighbor to have to deal with all the walking up and down the hill (she's in very good shape, but it's just a bother).

After returning home early because of a 2nd snow storm predicted to hit on Monday (which it did), I'm now, a week later, finally having to fill waterers again. Since the turkeys' date with destiny is Tuesday, I'll take all the extra ones out of their pen, and go back down to the single, heated one. Everyone else will continue with what they have.

Some gratuitous turkey pictures:

Mr. Big

Mr. Almost Big

some of the flock

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The project that I wasn't planning...

When I moved in, I was told that I could use about 6 x 8 of a 8 x 16 shed. There was a tarp dividing "my" area from that used by the landlord for stuff that he basically had abandoned. Since I have lots of tools, and need to have a place for the feed, I had asked that it be cleaned out. Back in August, my landlord and his helper came and got some of the stuff out, but said they'd come back and get the rest. However, 2 months have passed, and nothing had been done, so I called, and got his wife (he was in town) - she promised to get him right over to get it done!

I now have the use of the full shed. I have installed 2 shop lights, my air compressor is home, and I still need to move the feed out of the trailer. However, I have a deadline - The Portland Handweaver's Guild Sale is next weekend, and I have a space. I have gotten new dye, more fiber and yarn, and need to get some dyeing done.

The weather has been blustery, and I didn't want to set up the dye production line outside. So... I set it up in the shed! With the lights, I can work later after the time changes tonight, and it's out of the weather, should the gray skies produce something. I'm also out of the wind!

The roaster (steamer), dyes and plastic roll go on the smaller table - the dyeing happens on the big table. I can take it down when I'm done, and store the tables on the opposite wall. The feed trash cans will actually go where the big table is, but I can still set it up on the other side if I need to. I'm really excited to have this space available!

I'll be drying things in front of the wood stove, but that's actually pretty efficient. Tomorrow, I'll start dyeing first thing, and I should be able to get it done in one day. With the lights, if I get up too early, I'll start then!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Picture, as promised

Here is a picture of Laura and I (I'm in front on Tang) heading out to our obstacle, after backtracking up and down hills, which is why Tang is so sweaty!! This was taken on Friday, 10/26/12, at the ACTHA ride at Brasada Ranch in Powell Butte, OR.

On Facebook, a friend commented that Tang was the "Great Red Hoover" - that she is...

We were called "Laura Squared" - Laura's mare is a Welsh Cob, who has lived her life in an arena. She had never tied to a tree until this day. Laura was a bit worried, but I told her that Tang would just stand there, and it would be fine. After all her exertions, Tang took a nap, and Chloe was a very good girl.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Self Preservation

Three weeks ago, a friend called to see if I wanted to go pick apples in Salem. It seems that her dad knows someone with an orchard, and was allowing us to pick a couple of trees clean. Of course, I said, "Yes!!"

We drove over in rainy weather, but once we reached Salem, it quit. We had lunch with her dad, and then headed to the orchard. We came armed with lots of grocery bags and a few boxes, all transported in her dad's Vanagon Westfalia.

We each took some Asian pears, and proceeded to climb ladders at our allotted tree to pick. In the past, I wouldn't have been able to go up and down a ladder like we did - thank goodness for new knees!! In a very short time, we had picked 8 or 9 bags each of apples, and a couple more of pears.

Since there is no WinCo in central Oregon, we stopped there on the way out of Salem (it's right on the way) so I could stock up on my bubble beverage of choice. I've been weaning myself off of diet Pepsi, but I need bubbles, so I've switched to Talking Rain - basically carbonated water, some flavored, one not. I still get caffeine in tea and coffee, but I'm done with the diet stuff...

The weather held on the way home, and we made good time. I unfortunately found that Tang had gotten out and eaten chicken food (see previous blog post). Once she was in the clear, I began doing all apples, all the time. I dehydrated three 1/2 gallon jars worth of apples, and have 15 quarts of pie filling, 12 pints each of regular and cranberry apple sauce. I have a few apples left, which I think will be dried, but I'm kind of done with them for now.

Off and on since I moved here, I've delivered raw milk for the local dairy to Portland and Hood River. I've agreed to do the Hood River run every other week, in exchange for milk. I'll be able to make my own yogurt, fresh mozzarella and have cereal! I did a delivery Monday, and on the way back through the Hood River valley, I stopped and bought 66 lbs. of pears (am I a glutton for punishment, or what!!). I got about half red Bartlett pears, and half Bosc pears.

Today, I processed all the Bartlett pears - 14 pts. of Ginger and Star Anise Pears in light syrup, and I'm processing 4 quarts of Brandied pears, along with 1 quart of the brandy syrup, and 1 1/2 quarts of the ginger spice syrup. 

My back is sore...

I will start on the Bosc pears soon, but since they're a little better at storing (not so fragile as the Bartletts), I can wait until after the Portland Handweaver's Guild Sale Veterans' Day weekend. I have a bunch of dyeing to do in the meantime. Nothing like a deadline...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Everybody lived...

A lot has been going on the last few weeks. I've made some downsizing decisions, and there were some catastrophes. Everyone lived.

I have decided that I don't need goats at this time. I have mentioned that I'm renting, and between the turkeys (for whom I'm really ready to be gone...) and Tang and the chickens and Lyra wanting to play ball and working... I have enough on my plate.

Fortunately, I was able to "return" them! The cattle panels that made up their pen will be used to secure the turkey's shelter (hopefully to keep them in, the rat finks), so that I can move their fence and get the chickens penned back up. They're hiding their eggs - particularly the Maran hens, as I'm not getting any really dark brown ones lately. I haven't found the hiding spot, and I suspect it's at my neighbor's. I'll have to tell them to look under their porch - they found one there a while back!

I don't have  a really secure place to store my feed (for the chickens and turkeys), and it was outside their pens. I've installed the new charger, but like any habit, it takes a while for it to become one. I forgot to plug it in, and while I was gone all day Friday (last week) in Salem picking apples - story in a separate post - Tang decided that she would help herself to hay, and 40 lbs. of chicken food. When I got home at dusk, I knew she wasn't in her pen, and saw the trashcan lying on its side and was pretty panicked. I found her talking to the boys next door, but knew by looking at her that she was in trouble. I called the vet, and he said to keep an eye on her, and then call him back. She was declining, so I called him back, and he said to give her banamine, a pain reliever and muscle relaxant. She was very gassy, but kept farting and pooping (this is important, as horses can't burp), so things were moving and she wasn't stopped up. I panicked because several years ago, I lost 2 horses in 7 months to impaction colic. Needless to say I was praying that the universe (or your choice of deity) wouldn't let my horse die. After the banamine kicked in, I spent another hour massaging her belly and flanks, which she seemed to like. I finally got to bed at 2:30 am. After waking up at 4:30, and then again at 6:30, I just got up, and checked her. She was still not herself, but a lot less gassy. The vet called on his way into the clinic, and we decided to "lube and oil" her - I hauled her in to the clinic, having to get my neighbor to come help me load her in the trailer, and there she had a tube stuck up her nose, going into her stomach through which mineral oil and a couple of other things were deposited where it needed to go. She was rather pleased to load into the trailer to blow that joint, let me tell you! By the next day, she was back to her normal, prancing along the fence sounding like a 1450 lb. guinea pig waiting for her breakfast.

I have since locked my feed up in the horse trailer, which works really well, unless you want to use it...

Fast forward to today. I was invited to scribe for a friend (also named Laura) at a Competitive Trail Ride. So, this morning, I went out , unloaded all the feed, and went to load Tang into the trailer. After a couple of false starts and with the assistance of a lunge line (very long rope), she went in! With just me!! I was despairing of being able to load my horse alone, but I did it!

We had a blast at the ride. Laura and I scored an obstacle (probably the farthest one out) where people had to ride down a very steep embankment, and then back up. They were to walk, lean back on the down side, and forward on the uphill portion (it helps the horse balance themselves). When everyone had gone through, we rode the rest of the way back, pulling the trail marking ribbons as we went. We had some "discussions" with each of our mares, as they knew they were headed back to the barn, and weren't sure they had to walk. By the time we were almost back, they had settled into a comfortable pace. I will post some pictures later - The ride organizer as well as the ride photographer took some of us, which I will get copies of.

Loading up to come home went as well or better than this morning, with only 2 false starts, and then she piled right in. I think we're getting somewhere. She also is getting to realize that when I say, "yes, you must," that I mean it.

They're doing another one on Sunday, and I think we're going to go again. Laura want's some wool, and she wants to check out my old Wintec saddle for her new little mare, so I guess I should go!! And it will be good trailering practice for Tang.

I should mention that I'm sore... Going downhill, getting Tang to walk requires much use of my hamstrings and some of the quads. I will be taking a hot bath in a bit - along with a glass of wine and a candle - sounds like just the ticket for relaxing!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The three little goats gruff...

I alluded to some new residents a post or two ago. Between Oregon Flock and Fiber, and a Spinning class I taught yesterday, it wasn't convenient to bring them home until today.

I had gotten a load of hay last spring that I was feeding Tang, but it became apparent that it wasn't really good for her or me - it had been baled wet, and was full of dusty mold. I located some more, and asked Correy if she wanted it for her rams, and she did. She came to pick it up the same day I went to get the new hay so it worked out well. We agreed to trade the newbies for the hay (about 2 tons).

Just before Oregon Flock and Fiber, Correy arranged a sheep and goat pool - with enough animals, the buyer from the valley will come over here and pick them up. They use certified scales and the owners are paid by the pound, price is dependent on age and condition. The minimum weight for inclusion is 40 lbs., and after all was said and done, there were 6 goat kids that didn't make that weight. The owners didn't want them back, so Correy brought them home. We were talking on the phone, and she asked me if I wanted some Cabrito (duh, of course). The catch is that they're not ready yet - I have to feed them for a few months before I can have them butchered.

I went over to her house to check them out, and fell in love with this little face:

Initially, I wasn't going to get a doeling (of which she had 3), because I would be tempted to keep her. However, I couldn't resist, and I will be keeping her. She's mostly likely Saanen/Boer cross, which should be good for milk, and producing meat kids. She looks like the Flying Nun, so her name is Bertie (after Sister Bertrille).

The ones I told Correy that I wanted were these two:

They are twin LaManca wethers (which happened the middle of last week). They're nice boys and will grow well, I think.

Tang isn't sure that she likes them, and really doesn't understand why they have a feeder full of hay and she doesn't.
The goat transport device was my car. I remembered that there was a cargo mat from my old jeep at Correy's, which I put in the car trunk. The three of them fit in very nicely, and we hurried home.

All of the turkeys lined up on the fence to check them out, and even the peafowl came to investigate. I'm looking forward to making friends with Bertie (she's already pretty friendly), and gentling the boys so that I can walk up and catch them. I'm not certain if I'll get another doe, or if Bertie and Tang will become housemates. I'll pend that decision for the moment. The plan is to raise a couple of kids for meat, and have milk for cheese.

I really like goat cheese, particularly hard goat cheese. I have friend who's daughter used to have a Grade a goat dairy and make hard and soft cheeses. I'm going to see if I can get her recipes...

Friday, October 5, 2012

The latest in Pullet Perambulations...

But first the story of the escapee...

Yesterday morning, I was awakened at 3 am by noises down by the birds. It sounded like feed slithering through/out of a trash can, and I thought maybe the turkeys who roost on the trash can had knocked it over. Then I heard some hollow thunks. I hastily put on clothing and grabbed a flashlight and headed outside.

Outside of the bird pen was a large pig. A half-belgian pig, to be precise, whose name is Tang. She (as I ultimately determined) and been lying down and when she stood up was on the wrong side. There was one step-in post uprooted, but all the tape was in place. At that point in time, the fence was not hot. I ended up tying her to a tree and going back to bed. The sum total of the damage was that she ate about 5-8 lbs of turkey food from a feeder that I had moved outside because the birds were wasting food.

When I got up at 7 and went out to feed, she had untied herself (the lead rope sucks), and was in her favorite corner, stuck. She had stepped on the lead with one of her rather large back feet, and couldn't go anywhere. I was dismayed to find that in my grogginess, I had not closed the gate to her pen, but she went down to stare at the neighbors being fed, and got stuck, I guess. At no time in her "free time" did she go to the stack of hay (4 tons) that she stares at all day long.

I installed my plug in charger. The reason it's taken awhile is that it is virtually impossible to pound anything into the ground here deeper than 18". I live on top of shattered cap rock, and rocks are everywhere, particularly where you need to put in fences or ground rods. After sacrificing one of the three ground rods (pounded in, hit a rock and couldn't get it back out), I decided to put them in the pile of dirt (and rocks) left when they leveled the area where the house is. It's closer to the pump house, where the charger was to be and I can also water it to keep the ground, well, grounded. I got one in a little over 3', and one in a little less than 3', and called it good. I then installed all the wire and insulated cable to connect Tang's pen and the bird fence, and turned it on. SUCCESS!

On to the pullets:

I went out this morning in my insulated overalls (trying them out for when it gets REALLY cold) to feed Tang. I was planning to check birds later as I have been working on a migraine since yesterday evening - it comes and goes. However, after the great fence charger installation yesterday, I was listening for shorts and found one - the abandoned ground rod was shorting against the tape in Tang's pen. I fixed that with electrician's tape and decided I'd just do the birds anyway.
When I went in to give them their scratch, I noticed that the roo (Golden Cuckoo Maran) was quite bloody on his head.
After Blue-coat
 Now, there is a chocolate turkey hen who has it in for him, but I suspect from the blood trails that more than she were involved. So, armed with my trusty poultry herder (a 10' piece of pvc) I got all the chickens in the coop and closed the door. I already had a waterer outside and moved one of the feeders outside, so the turkeys are now completely separate. Since the chickens haven't been cooped up, I gathered up 3 barrow loads of hay chaff from the hay pile. I feed beardless barley hay, which has barley heads still in it - the chickens love to scratch around it it and find the treasures.

I then caught the roo, who is actually a very nice boy - no struggling, sitting quietly while I mopped him up and squirted blue-coat on him and me. After installing all the chaff, I realized that he's still bleeding. He's got a chunk missing at the back base of his comb, which is oozing. I caught him again and applied chile powder (not cayene), which is a blood stop powder in a pinch.

 He wasn't pleased to be caught again, but cooperated. I can tell you that it doesn't sting unless you get it in your eyes (like when chickens object...). I'm hoping the lack of interference by the big bullies will make their incarceration more tolerable.
after chile powder - the oozing has stopped

I'm teaching a spinning class in Burns, OR, tomorrow. Today will be spent putting things together for that, so no chance to move the "furniture" around and give the chickens their own yard until Sunday. But I already know how I'm going to do it - just have to lock the turkeys up somehow so I can take the fence down.

But I'll think about that later...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winter is coming!

When I moved in to this house (very old mobile home), it had a wood stove that wasn't working very well. I bought new gaskets for the door and the glass, thinking that I could get it to seal up better and be truly air-tight. Unfortunately, the door is slightly warped, and there's nothing I can do to make it work. Consequently, I was never able to get a log to last all night, and the heater (electric forced air = $$) came on every morning about 4 am. I was thinking about this as we've started to cool off in the evenings (and the heater came on...).

Off an on, I've looked at Craigslist for wood stoves. The other day, I found one. It was a screamin' deal - a Vermont Castings, Intrepid II, the smallest stove they make - perfect for my house! And even better, they were asking $200. I made arrangements to pick it up, and after I gave her the money, told her what it was worth (like $5-700). She laughed and said it was too heavy to move and she was glad that I got it!

I installed it yesterday morning (the pipe really isn't crooked - it's the picture angle).

 And then I had to have a fire...

 It's going to be marvelous!! The stove that came with the house will live in the storage shed until I need to put it back (if/when I move).

Since we're expecting a cold front to move through tonight and last for the next few days, I thought I'd better get the one bed that has growing things in it winterized. I had installed the hoops shortly after building the bed and planting it. Currently growing in this bed are: 2 rosemary plants (temporary until I build the herb bed), 2 lavender plants (ditto), umpteen beets, a bunch of sugar peas (complete with string to climb), and a few carrots. I pulled the tomatoes a week ago - I didn't like the fruit, but the peafowl sure did! This freed up some space in which I'll plant lettuce or more beets. The plastic is 3 mil (not what I wanted but was available), and is attached using clips from Territorial Seed.

 The second bed, which will hold the brassicas (kale, broccoli and cabbage) got the manure spread on it, but needs to be dug in, hoops and plastic installed, and then watered before I can plant.
 My garden so far:
I'm planning to build another bed in the next week, as my garlic and shallots shipped yesterday (no pressure!!). I may intersperse some beets in that bed as well as the brassica bed, because you just can't have too many beets!!

I have fooled around with the drip system and finally came up with what I think will be the ticket. Each bed has a feeder line that enters up the side of the bed (see the middle photo). This line has a male threaded hose connection on it. I then build whatever that bed needs, with a female swivel hose connector on that. I can shut off beds by disconnecting the bed drip and capping the connector, or move the drip lines from bed to bed as I rotate crops. Like all things plumbing, there are always more parts that you need. I've learned my way around my local ACE Hardware's drip section, let me tell you!

One added benefit that I hadn't even though of has to do with electricity, not plumbing. I needed to put in ground rods for my electric fence. Down by the garden, the soil is less rocky, and with the watering going on, it's also damp, making it the perfect place for ground rods. With good ground, the charger will really pack a whollop, which will be needed for the new inhabitants when they arrive in a few days - but that's another post...

Friday, September 28, 2012

What to do with prunes?

While at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival last weekend (see recap here), I was gifted with a shopping bag about 1/2 full of prune plums. We were eating them, but not making much of a dent, so I said I'd take them home and make jam. Yes, well...

It turns out that prunes are drier and sweeter than regular plums (I never knew that), so they behave differently. I also didn't measure them after I cut them up, which affected the outcome.

So, yesterday morning, I cut them all in half and pitted them (they are free-stone, thank goodness!), and they filled my 8 quart stock pot. Obviously, this would not work - I couldn't stir them without them slopping over the side!

So, in true Laura cooking fashion, I dirtied another pot, a 16 qt. stock pot.

This pot was a present from my mom many, many years ago. It has made horse bran mashes, many batches of jam, and lots of stock from Thanksgiving turkeys. It also has a lid, which some of my others don't (we won't go into why...).

I added a couple of inches of water and started cooking them. They got soft, and softer and then I went at them with a potato masher.

What I ended up using is one of my favorite kitchen tools - my immersion blender. I got it at a yard sale, along with its mini-food processor jar and blade for $5.00. I LOVE this tool. I use it all the time to make chopped garlic, flank steak rub that includes cilantro, ginger, jalapenos, green onions and soy sauce - the little food processor is a champ. The blender portion is wonderful for pureeing food in situ - no dirtying additional bowls, you just zoom it around until it looks good. I have a pumpkin soup recipe that begged me to get an immersion blender, which I did, and it is awesome. I also used it to puree some ginger root, which was added to the prunes, along with some allspice.

After cooking it down some more, I decided that I would turn it into jam. Reading the pectin instructions it says, "5 3/4 c chopped plums" - uh oh... I have 16 3/4 c of prune soup. This wasn't going to go well, I could tell. So, I called Michelle, who cans a lot, and makes jams and butters and asked her advice. "I put mine in the Crock Pot," she says. So I did.

It was a bit full. You can't expect things to cook down if the lid is on. So I rigged up a cover to keep any stray bugs/flies out of it out of tule netting that I scavenged from my niece's wedding 5 or 6 years ago. It worked well, and other than dunking it in it a couple of times when I was stirring it, there were no problems. After the dunking incidents, I added 2 pieces of wood (clean, of course) to hold it up off of the rim, which solved the problem nicely.

It eventually cooked down, and I got to thinking (way dangerous...). It wasn't very thick, even after cooking down, so what if... I added some more sugar (I hadn't put much in to start with), and some pectin? With my sister on the phone (who also cans a lot), I added 1 1/2 Tablespoons of pectin. Hey - it's starting to look like gravy! I decided to leave it overnight in the crockpot with the lid on, and heat it up in the morning and process it then. It still didn't seem very thick, so I added another Tablespoon of pectin, stirred it in, and let it warm up some more.

When the canner was boiling merrily away, I started filling jars, discovering that half-pint jars fit two to a slot (except where the handles are) and 2 in the middle! I ended up with 13 jars, which didn't really fit, so I made do. They were all covered with the requisite 2" of water, so I figured it was good!

Since I'm at 4300 feet, I processed them for 20 minutes after reaching boiling. After fishing them out, I went back to working on the computer (real work, not FB), and hearing the "tinks" from the kitchen is probably the best sound in the world!

Here they are, all tinked down, and ready to eat. After loading up all the jars, there was enough left in the crock pot for my morning toast.

It was very yummy...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Post PTSD Milestone

Yesterday was "World Spin in Public Day." I didn't participate, because Tang had a pony pedicure appointment.

I thought about hauling her over (it was where she used to be boarded) in the trailer for practice, but decided that since it's only about 2.5 miles away, that I would ride her over.

This is a huge step for me. I have not ridden my horse without anyone around since I've owned her. I haven't even contemplated riding out by myself up to this point.

I tacked her up, and got on (yay for mounting blocks), and off we went.

I have mentioned that she's energy conserving... Well if she could have walked any slower, we'd still be out there. She wandered back and forth across the road like a drunkard, looking at everything. She especially was interested in all of the horses that we passed - I think she misses having a close, across the fence, herdmate. She was singularly unfazed by cars/trucks going by very fast. Thankfully, they all moved to the other side of the road (this is the country and they know about horses on the road) to pass.

After her pedicure, we headed back home. She wasn't thrilled about leaving her buddies, but she did, and seemed to know we were going home because she walked a little, teeny-tiny bit faster.

I live off of a private road that is disintegrating. There are potholes in it that would eat my truck. There was a bit more traffic on it when we were going home than when we left. I heard a truck coming up the road behind us, and found a driveway to pull out into to let him by. This is the only thing Tang took issue with. He was pulling an empty boat trailer, which was bouncing around in the potholes and making lots of noise. She flinched and moved a half a step, and then stood, wide-eyed while he passed.

We resumed our quiet amble up the road.

Things are very different on horseback. You can hear the earth breathe, the bugs going about their work, and the wind soughing through the trees. It's lovely, beautiful and very grounding.

I am very thankful for my horse. She is very good for me.