Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's A Blog?

About a year ago I said, to a gal I work with, "What's a blog?" I had heard that term before but had no idea what it was. About that same time I was searching the web for Nigerian Dwarf breeders in our area and came upon the blog called This Goat's Life, cleverly written from a goat named Baby Belle's point of view. I was hooked and checked almost every day for an update. I am a reader and it combined my love of reading with goats, two of my favorite things. And it is very funny. Following one of the comments left on that blog I made my way over to a young gal that was realizing her dream to become a goat farmer. Deconstructingvenus's blog is funny, edgy and left nothing to the imagination. I enjoyed reading her realization of her dreams until the tragic day when a neighbor's dogs massacred most of her goats, her cat and some chickens. She was so heartbroken that I believe she has abandoned her blog. She was the one that inspired me to start my own. Because I am computer challenged she even added the counter to the end of this blog and was my first person to comment. I was so excited. Now remember I am 48 and I am not from the generation of myspace. To have someone read my writing and comment from across the states is still unbelievable to me. I miss her.

I started this blog because I love to tell stories and my animals give me a ton of material to write about. I write this blog for me, because I love my animals and I love to write. It has helped me with my spelling, my grammar and has given me an outlet for all the stories that are bottled up inside of me. I have "met" some wonderful people along the way. There is:

Farmgirl_dk aka chicken sister because we got chicks at the same time. She taught me how to link my words and this great trick tool. She is very funny. I like funny.

There is twinville , who is as much of an animal collector as I am and is funny and sweet and leaves the longest, most thoughtful comments. I like funny.

Gafarmwoman is living my dream. Lots of land, a proper barn, a hubby that builds great things and her sons close enough to visit and bring grandchildren. She will take you on a trip down Memory Lane. And she's funny.

And last but not certainly least is my friend, Marigold . This goat is smarter than me and writes way above my level of intelligence but I figure if I keep reading she will bring me up to a new level. And she's funny.

I read many other blogs that I enjoy but it would take me forever to link all those words so I have just mentioned my originals that have been faithful readers and commenters.

For someone that didn't even know what a blog was a year ago, I'm hooked. I even wrote to Oprah the other day with a suggestion for a show. I told her I wanted to see a show on blogging, the journaling of our time. And since I didn't think she would be interested in my little puny blog I suggested that can get up to 10,000 comments when she's running a contest. Ree is Pioneer Woman and if you haven't visited it is a must read.

She is funny. I like funny.

My counter at the bottom says over 4,000 hits but at least half of them are me:) checking my blog. So if you are out there and have never commented please do to let me know you care about what I have to say. I made it easy. I took off that silly word verification that I can't see half the time and get wrong. I allowed anonymous because I understand the need to be so.

Just be funny. I like funny.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pushy Penne

Penne is a pushy gal. She is big. She is bold. She loves her food. Her single mindedness about food gets her into a bit of trouble, with me anyway. She doesn't see it as trouble, she sees it as just another obstacle to get to what she wants. Food glorious food. If you have goats you know food pushiness. Now picture that in a huge body. If I am carrying feed she is all over me trying to snatch a bite. I am always having to push her away so I can move forward. She would not be a llama for a first time owner. My friends are scared of her. But I have noticed that a lot of people are scared of my llamas. Something about their eye, they say. And nobody wants to be spit on even though my llamas have never spit on anyone. I think I was spit on only once and that was when I was removing the hair that Penne wanted to hang on to. Now Koo is the total opposite. He is the perfect gentleman. He knows the meaning of "personal space."

I was told when Penne arrived at my house that one of her previous owners (and she's had a few) was sending her to the slaughterhouse and darned if that pushy girl wouldn't get on the truck so they gave up. Her pushiness comes in handy when she needs it the most. I try to remember that. I can't imagine anyone wanting to send her to the slaughterhouse but she may have drove them to it.

Pushy Penne has another annoying habit of pushing on the fences. She has already loosened the wire on my nursery pen from pushing on it. Did I mention Penne is pushy? So I have had to put her in with the goats to keep her from pushing the fences and pushing me around. The first thing Penne did when I put her in with the goats was stand in their water, after I filled it with clean water, dragging dirt and gunk in on her foot. Goats love clean water. They hate it if the dog drinks out of it let alone have a stinky footed llama stand in it. The second thing she did, being that the goat pen is farther away from the food, is do a few body slams to the fences. I heard a distinct crack and sure enough she broke one post off at the ground level. Pushy Penne will have to stay in the goat pen whether she likes it or not. The goats have pushy down to a science so they don't mind, and she has been given the job of protecting the goats. She will just have to get used to it.

My friend won't come feed my animals when I'm gone if she isn't.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Best Day Of My Life

Today is the best day of my life. Some might think that their wedding or the birth of their child is the best day of their life but for me it is when I saw this.....

You see Hubby is a pack rat. Over the years he has brought home anything that he could find that might be useful sometime in the future. Now I must admit that it comes in handy at times but he has gotten a little out of hand. He would bring his treasures home and pile it around his old yellow truck that we fondly call "Ole Yeller" until you could almost not see the truck anymore. Ole Yeller was once a good running truck that was the workhorse of our small farm but for the last 16 years it has sat in the heap of shame. I have been nagging Hubby for 16 years to "just get rid" of that old truck. Being the pack rat he is he hung on to it tightly just in case someone came along and offered him good money for it, which they might of if they could have seen it buried under all that treasure.

But this weekend he decided that the ole girl was too far gone and he got tired of my nagging and called someone to come get her. But first we had to get all the junk around her hauled away. We spent all weekend making scrapyard runs and dump runs. It was like an archaeological dig. We uncovered layers and layers of things that at one time he deemed important enough to pack home. I'd say, "What did you bring these home for?" He'd say, "Hell if I know." We even found the neighbor's cat living in the old truck.

The chickens had a hen party eating all the bugs we uncovered. The goats were quite upset that we were ruining their peaceful weekend and hollered all day long. They loved Ole Yeller. She was good for standing on to get the high branches of alder leaves they love so much. And goats don't like change.

But I do. So we worked hard all weekend and it was the best day of my life when I saw this.

Just ask my son. Ask my best friend. I said that I'd throw a party when it was gone. So friends put on your party hat because Ole Yeller is down the road.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why I Need A Camera For My Birthday

Here are some pictures I took in my front yard this afternoon......

Can you see the eagle?

Here let me zoom in a bit......

Is this better?

That's as good as it gets.

This is the only thing I could get a picture of....

Another photo op missed because I have this darn camera.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

No good deed goes unpunished is my hubby's favorite saying but I'm a cup half full kind of gal. I have avoided this kind of thinking for many years. I really don't buy into it. If that were the case nobody would do anything for anyone. So because I love random acts of kindness I offered my neighbor 6 of my young hens. Due to the fact that she had to spend a month in England to visit her elderly mother she didn't get her chicks this spring and I know she really wanted to have fresh eggs by fall. She had a beautiful coop all ready for a flock.

These 6 young pullets were a bit younger than my other girls and I figured I didn't really need 16 chickens. But I did really like these because they were my rare chicks from McMurry's. 3 Light Brahmas and 3 Speckled Sussex. They were friendly and lovely.

The other day I took them over to her farm and we put them in the coop. I told her that they should be kept in for several more weeks because they were a bit small and I was afraid they would get hurt. Well she kind of poo pooed me and said they would be fine. She was very pleased to have them so I told her I was sure she would take good care of them. The only stipulation was that if one of the Light Brahmas turned out to be a rooster I wanted fertile eggs so I could hatch out some Light Brahmas next year.

A few days later my husband came home from walking the dog and said he saw the neighbor and she was carrying a dead brown chicken (Speckled Sussex). Boy was I mad and told him how she had poo pooed me (can you tell I hate to be poo pooed?) when I said she should keep them in the chicken house for a while.
He said,"Yep, no good deed goes unpunished."
I said that I was sure she would make sure the others were safe now that she knew what could happen.

A few more days go by and we are out walking the dog again, because that dog needs a lot of walking, and she drives by and stops. She has a sheepish look on her face and tells me that she lost one hen a day, something was getting into her run, until she was down to one and then gave that one (Light Brahma) to her horse trainer. What the heck!
Hubby said, "Gee that's strange, we haven't lost a one."
And because I am lousy at confrontations I didn't say much....until Hubby and I walked on and then I ranted and raved about how I paid $30 for those chicks and why didn't she give the one back to me? Why give it to someone else? I told him again how she poo pooed me. I told him that when the first one died wouldn't you think that she would be more careful with the others? I told him how much I had liked those chicks.

After a few minutes Hubby says, "Wow, this really bugs you."

I said "Yep, no good deed goes unpunished."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cora Belle And Filbert Go Visiting

When I was granted the honor of buying the lovely Cora Belle I made a promise that I would show her. I intend to keep that promise. So when a neighboring county was begging for goat entries to their fair I rose to the occasion. I sent in my entry. I entered Cora Belle in the Nigerian doeling class and Filbert in pack goat class. I wanted to bring Filbert because these two holler like nobodies business when separated and I figured he would look cute packing my sandwich around. A day or two goes by and I get an email that said, Sorry we only let people from our county enter. What! Then why were they begging for entries? Well they don't know what they will be missing. I had been practicing with my entries. Cora Belle for the show ring and Filbert for the pack goat class. Filbert was an expert at carrying my gloves around and was ready to progress to a real pack. I had led him up hill. I had led him down. We went over logs and down trails. He only collapsed the first day five times and then never after that. Cora Belle was leading like a princess. She would stop and allow me to place her legs just so, so the judge would be able to see her lovely dairy body. Want to see my udder-to-be? No problem, just let me squat a little and pretend you are milking me. No kicking and fussing for this beauty queen. But now we had nowhere to go to show off our talents.
Except over to the goatfarmer's Herron Hill Dairy, the place of their birth. You see the goatfarmer was dying to give Cora Belle one of those shave jobs that they give dairy goats to see their dairy outline. So off to the farm we went for a new hairdo, and Filbert came to try out a small pack that the goatfarmer had. I must say I was very proud of these two. They were very well behaved and had a wonderful time exploring the barnyard and meeting up with their sister Boxcar Betty.
Cora Belle stood very still for her chop job, er...I mean hairdo. I am sure in 2 weeks she will be gorgeous.

And Filbert took to the pack like a pro.......

Cora Belle and Betty got to break bread together.........

A good time was had by all!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Grandma's Freezer Jam Recipe

I have had a request for Grandma's jam recipe from Clare so here it is. I am sure this recipe is in no way unique but it is very simple. When my sister-in-law and I were first married we used to go over to Grandma's to make jam with her. It is a memory we both cherish. I inherited all of her recipes when she died, which consisted of a large sized ziplock bag full of ones clipped out of newspapers and ones she wrote down herself. There is something very comforting about seeing someone's handwriting years after they died.
This is my grandma's recipe card for jam. You can tell it's been around the block a few times.

And because I am the world worst photographer with a hand-me-down camera I will tell you what it says.............

Frozen Berry Jam:

2 cups berries mashed

4 cups sugar

1 box MCP pectin (we always use MCP pectin, I don't know why but Grandma always did)

1 cup water

Combine berries and sugar. Let stand 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Boil pectin in water to rolling boil. Boil one minute. Stir constantly. Remove from heat and pour into fruit and stir for 2 minutes. Fill jars and cover with lids. Let stand out for 24 hours. Then put in freezer.

Peach and blackberries are also very good. I can attest to this as I have tried both.

Special thanks to Danni for teaching me how to link my words.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You Can't Get More Local Than This.....Unless You Grow It Yourself

In my quest to eat more locally grown food and support my local businesses I feel so fortunate to have a wonderful fruit and flower stand at the end of my road. I have been making a weekly, sometimes daily, trek to Bea's Flowers for many years. It started out as a dahlia farm and I remember, years ago, taking my son down there to pick dahlias to cover his float for a local parade. He had his dog pull a covered wagon full of colorful dahlias. Over the years they have added other flowers and produce, in season.

They carry farm fresh eggs and if you have a pet in mind they have the cutest baby bunnies for sale, unless you want them for snake food. Then they will turn you away.

Bea's is owned by a mother and her daughter that have used much of their profits feeding the hungry and helping people in third world countries. Their prices are very reasonable (cheap) because they just want to give people a break. Even with that, when you ask the price of something there is an apology in their voice. They would probably give it away if they could and I'm sure they do to some. They are quick with a smile and a down home easiness that is almost lost in this hurry up kind of world.

I can gather an armload of fruits and vegetables, go up to the counter, and she says, "That will be $8.00." Are you kidding me! I can't do that at Albertson's. I can't even do that at Local Boys' fruit stand down the highway where they want my right arm for their designer fruits.

So yesterday I went down the road to get my raspberries for jam. They did happen to bring these in from a local farm but grow a lot of their own fruits and vegetables there. I bought a flat and a half of raspberries, some tomatoes and some baby zucchini.

I spent last night making my famous freezer jam. Well it's not really famous, except in my family. I use a recipe that my grandma taught me. It is easy and what I like about freezer jam is that it doesn't matter what you put it in and it tastes just like the fresh fruit you use. I have used this same recipe with peaches with unbelievable results. Trouble is I eat peach jam on anything and everything or straight out of the jar. I have an order in at Bea's for a box of peaches.

Now with all my heart I wish I had a big garden but I live in the trees with no big open spots that have full sun most of the day and I am unwilling to cut any of these huge Douglas firs and Cedar trees that have been here for hundreds of years just to scratch my garden itch. But I have Bea's. They are my garden, without all the work.

A local resident

Monday, July 14, 2008

Makin' Hay

It doesn't feel like summer until you get the call that the hay is ready. There is something about going out and picking up your hay right out of the field and throwing in the back of the truck, hauling it home and filling up the hay shed that just screams summer to me. The smell of the freshly mowed field. The heat of the sun. The itch of my arms and chest. I love it all.
Not to mention the beauty of the farms. This particular farm overlooks Puget Sound
Yesterday we got the call that there would be hay in the field and to come get it. So when Hubby got off work we hitched up the trailer and made our way to the farm. Luckily it was only about 78 degrees. Usually it is around 178 degrees when you are out makin' hay. We had a beautiful evening gathering hay. Now that's my favorite date. No dinner and a show for me. Just take me out to the field and make hay.

The End

Friday, July 11, 2008

Edwina Scissor Beak

Poor Edwina has a scissor beak. When she was just a chick it didn't effect her much. She seemed to be eating just fine and developing normally but lately I have noticed that she is spending a lot of time going round and round the feeder pick pick picking and not getting full. I have recently switched their crumbles for pellets and Edwina seems to have trouble keeping them in her mouth. I think. I have spent a lot of time watching her eat and can't tell if she is getting anything or not. She is the only hen that has learned to climb right into the top of the feeder so only her tail sticks out. Not very sanitary.
Her obsession with food has led me to believe she is not getting enough to eat. On closer inspection her beak is very long and hooked where the other hens have naturally worn theirs down. So I wondered if I could trim her beak. Not wanting to hurt her I was hesitant. So I Googled it and sure enough you can really hurt them if you trim their beak wrong.
Today I was at our friendly neighborhood feed store buying chicken food and happened to ask the owner if he knew anything about chickens and he said he did. I explained the problem and he confirmed that you do have to be careful because there is a lot more going on in that beak than you realize. Those poor factory hens that have their beaks cut can be in for some chronic pain. His suggestion was to still feed crumbles. She would be able to keep more of it in her mouth. So I bought a bag of crumbles from him. The nice thing about his brand of crumbles is that it is ground so that there are small and large crumbles, something for everyone.
I brought the feed home and filled the feeder. Then I caught her and took a good look at her beak. There was a definite part on there I was sure I could trim off. I took my handy tin snips and gave that girl a beakicure. I put her by the feeder and she was ravenous. She couldn't get enough...poor girl. I hope this does the trick.
On another note I am having a bit of trouble with my Ramona's choice of a nest. She has chosen the stack of my son's motorcycle tires as hers. I have locked her up in the coop to get her to lay in there but after a couple of days of nothing I finally softened and let her out. She ran as fast as she could to the tires and shot out an egg. She must have been keeping her legs crossed. I guess I don't mind so much. It does seem fitting that we would have a hen that can appreciate a good set of tires.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Seeing Double

I decided to eat my first two eggs for breakfast. Yes, two eggs. They are very small pullet eggs. So I cracked the first one.....Then I cracked the second.....
Does that mean I really ate four eggs?

Monday, July 7, 2008

This and That

The nursery pen is finished. Cora Belle and Filbert have been checking out their new jail. As they call it. Remembering that early on Filbert was dubbed Herron Hill Don't Fence Me In, they wasted no time looking at all the sides to see if there might be a way out. There was a lot of pacing and hollering and looking at the top rail to see if they might possibly jump over. I decided to put Semi Sweet in with them to see if her mothering touch would calm them down. It seems to have done the trick. Semi Sweet thinks these are really her kids but she just forgot having them. It will be a great pen for them now and in the future if we have more babies it will be a good place for moms and their kids.

There are stumps for standing on..........

A tree for chewing on............

And a Chihuahua can get under the gate.

I also got my first egg(s) from my new girls. I noticed my favorite girl, Ramona the Brave, in a stack of motorcycle tires that I had thrown some plastic bags in. I picked her up and this is what I saw....

So all the girls will be locked in their coop until they learn where to properly lay an egg. Which, here, means recycle boxes full of hay. I am slow in getting my nest boxes made and I am into reusing things. I heard a new word the other day that describes me perfectly. Freegan. Yep that's me. I love to take things that people don't want and use it. It is amazing what people throw away or get rid of. I was at the feed store the other day and saw a sturdy wooden dog house with a "free" sign on it. I had them throw it in the back with my hay. It is perfect for the goats. It has a removable top so you can clean it easily. I am going to throw a coat of paint on it and put it in the nursery pen. Semi Sweet has already claimed it as her day sleeper.

Don't tell Hubby but I left the window rolled down in his truck and this is what I found when I got in. Notice how clean he keeps it. It took me forever to get all the cat hair off the seat. Doesn't she look cute?

This is the only one he allows on his seats.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bah Humbug

Thank goodness it's over. I am a Scrooge when it comes to the 4th of July. I am as patriotic as the next guy but I don't think we need to celebrate our independence burning up the flora and terrorizing the fauna. It was a war zone around my house last night. Fireworks have gotten totally out of hand. The only bad thing, that I can think of, about living on the water is that everyone and their uncle comes here to get drunk and blow up something. It must be a guy thing because I heard no female voices WOO HOOING. We had air horns, every kind of firecracker, loud bad country music from across the bay until about 2 in the morning. Everyone around us had hours of fireworks at their disposal. And dispose they did, right into the bay. I thought we were becoming more enlightened about our environment but apparently we aren't.
Maybe it's just me. I have always hated loud noises. As a child I would cover my ears while everyone enjoyed the fireworks display. Now as an adult, I see the animals scared and confused and I like it even less.
Today is a new day. We are going to finish the nursery pen for Cora Belle and Filbert. And get ready for it to all start again. You see it's Saturday night and the 4th of July will last all weekend around here.
Bah Humbug.