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...