Friday, July 31, 2009

Catching the elusive muskie

Adam and his friends rarely go down to the river to fish for bass. Their whole reason to fish usually is to catch that darn muskie. Of course there are more than one but they talk about "him" like there's just one. Adam caught one several years ago and has had "him" on his line several times a summer since then but hasn't succeeded in bringing him in. Last night his friend, James, conquered. I've posted some pictures below and a video of them releasing him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How much to cook for dinner

Summertime always makes dinnertime interesting. Okay, not so interesting when it comes to the meal since we eat many of the same vegetables night after night, which you have to do when that's what's ripe in the garden at that time. The interesting thing about our summer dinners is we don't really know how many people will be here so I cook more generous portions assuming we can have them for leftovers if Adam and his friends aren't here.

Last night Adam got off work at 6:00. He has a friend staying here for a few days so I assumed Adam and his friend James would be here. He called and asked if Anne could also eat here because she was going to go kayaking with them after dinner. They work together. Of course that was fine. Just as we were sitting down Manley showed up. After politely turning me down at first he sat down and joined us anyway. We put our forks down and Derek showed up and finished off the leftovers. Tonight Robert showed up 45 minutes before dinner so there were 5 of us at the table. Derek arrived next, this time in plenty of time and didn't just have to eat leftovers. I'm not complaining. It makes for a very entertaining dinner.

In another month our table will seem empty when Adam is back at school. James and I will probably put some weight back on.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garden blog, new wine and moonlight kayaking

I rarely comment on the garden because I don't have much to do with it except cooking the food that comes out of it. When James talks about the garden he gets excited about it, whether it be about squash bugs, potato seed pods, keeping crows from his newly planted corn, no till gardening, whatever. He loves that stuff. I'm not going to ask him to post on my blog but I think he should write his own. He's a much better writer than I am.

Today I started my 2009 wine. We have so many raspberries and blackberries in the freezer and still on the vines that I should be able to make more than twice the amount of wine I made last year, hopefully more than 100 bottles. I'm pretty happy with two of the wines I made last fall except for the pear wine. I only have 11 bottles left, 3 of them being the not-so-good pear wine. All of them were supposed to age at least a year but of course I couldn't wait to drink them. I wonder if any of those 8 bottles (excluding the pear wine) will still be corked on their one year birthday. I doubt it. Winemaking is a fun hobby. I wonder if I'll get better at it as the years pass.

Adam and 4 friends went kayaking tonight in the dark. I'll have to look out and see if the moon is shining. We used to do that but haven't in years. It's very peaceful. At least it was for us. I don't know how peaceful it could have been with 5 teenagers. Two of them tipped so I'm guessing it was a little more rowdy than our trips. I'm glad they do those kinds of things. We're so lucky to have the river in our own front yard.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Friday James was armed and dangerous.

Friday afternoon I heard this strange whining noise. I'd make the noise but you wouldn't be able to hear it over my blog. I couldn't figure out what it was and it didn't sound like our dogs so I ignored it until I heard James yelling at the them. We have a peach tree in the orchard that was full of peaches, just about ripe. James was going to give them another day or 2 and then pick them. Well, a groundhog picked them first, every last one of them. Rosie and Lex must have spied him in the tree and Rosie was doing all kinds of acrobatic moves to try to get him down. She kept missing by just a hair, but in the process was knocking branches here and there. She couldn't contain her excitement. She had to have it. James and I discussed what to do. Already he's lost all his corn in the field to groundhogs and now the peaches. I told him to kill it. Sure it was cute but not so cute we're willing to let it eat all our produce that James worked so hard to grow. James went to the garage and got an axe. First swing, strike one. I think it was because he felt bad about it. The second swing he knocked it out of the tree and that's all it took. Rosie and Lex claimed it faster than a 16 year old boy drives. They carried it around for a while looking as proud as punch. I eventually threw it over the bank in the woods while they were eating their dinner of Beneful Dogfood. I'm thinking maybe we should start making our own dogfood, maybe eggs when we get them and, oh, I don't know, ground groundhog.

I kind of forgot about it but James felt bad. I'm pretty sure he got over it quickly though. Today he told me something ate some of the oats he planted in the garden across the road. I'm quite certain he wouldn't use an axe on a deer, though that could make a lot of dogfood if we'd share it with them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Armed (with information) and dangerous

Whenever I plan to build something, start something new, have a question about how to do something, don't understand something, hear about something interesting, etc., I do a search on the internet. We definitely get our moneys worth on our internet service.

Once again I've researched something to the point I have myself worried more than I probably should be. As you know, Polly is due to kid sometime soon. I've joined a goat forum and read it every day along with looking up anything I can find on goats and pregnancy. Like anything else, people more often tell about how things can go wrong instead of successful outcomes. I'm armed with more information about what to look for when a goat is getting ready to deliver, while she's delivering and afterwards. I never knew so many things could go wrong with a tiny goat in the first week (and more) of his life. I've never heard stories about puppy births gone bad. Maybe if I was waiting for my dog to deliver I wouldn't be saying that. I'd be researching puppy births and getting worked up about them I guess.

So, what I've learned is that when a goats ligaments on each side of the tail at the end of their spine disappear they will deliver within 12 hours. This morning I felt one and it was soft and wiggly. Tonight I couldn't find them at all. Should I be staying up with her tonight? Maybe I'll get up in the middle of the night and check on her. Nothing else looks like one of the telltale signs of a doe ready to go. No mucus hanging from her, she's not pawing the ground or lying down then standing up again and again, and her utter isn't full. But, she is more affectionate and she's licking me a lot and she's quieter than usual.

I see a sleepless night ahead of me. Who knows, could be a weeks worth of sleepless nights if none of these things I read are true for her.

I'm kind of hoping she delivers when it's light out and we can take some videos. We don't have electricity in the barn, just a lantern.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Building another chicken coop

I've posted some new pictures below of the new chicken coop I'm building. It's been another fun project. It's attached to the front of the barn. Some friends of ours took down an old fence and gave us the wood. It has nails in it and is twisted and split here and there but we're able to salvage a lot of it. I used it for the siding of the coop and the floor of the hayloft in the barn. It's really hard and I have to predrill most of the holes before I nail or screw.

As you can see in the pictures, the goats have been real big helpers, always wanting to see what I'm doing or they just want to get in my way. I'm beginning to think the goats will use it more than the chickens. I need to make the door smaller because the goats can even crawl through the 14 inch opening. It needs a roof yet too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Driveway Visitors

This morning Adam beat me to the shower so I threw on some pajama bottoms and a tee shirt to go feed the animals. Well, don't ya know that's the day people drive down my driveway at 8:30 AM. A man and his son or nephew wanted to leave their truck in our field for when the son got done kayaking. I asked who they were and where they lived then told them ok, I'd go open the gate for them. Seemed like nice people. James must have heard us talking and came out and put the same questions to them that I had already asked. They thanked us again and again. I felt a little funny talking to strangers in my pajamas but I see girls wearing pajama bottoms at WalMart so I guess it's acceptable these days.

Yesterday I had another drive-up but not to use the field. A woman in her 30's (maybe) with young kids in the car drove halfway up the driveway and stopped there. I was in the fence with the goats and I figured she just wanted to look at the animals. She didn't roll down her window or anything. Just sat there. I finally went over to her minivan and asked if I could help her. Turns out she wanted to buy one of my chickens to eat. She was almost drooling over them and said more than a few times how good they looked and just right for soup. She caught me by surprise. I told her no but that maybe one day I would sell her one when I had chickens laying and chicks hatching. Even though we've talked about eating the chickens ourselves, I felt very protective of them all of a sudden. By the way, they haven't started laying yet. Hopefully by the end of this month. The rooster is trying his hardest to make baby chicks. He's forever jumping on someone's back, making her scream and pulling feathers out. Not exactly the way to win a girl over. I guess he figures his good looks will make them want him. I've posted a picture of him below. He really is a pretty boy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hope I didn't steer a kid wrong

I had a good giggle this morning. There was an email to me from Youtube telling me there was a comment on my How To Use A Two Man Auger video. The comment was, "thank you SOOOOO much. This will really help me tomorrow on my eagle scout project". Oh no, I didn't really mean for a kid to count on me to teach him how to use that machine that I only used once in my life. I didn't really think about why I gave it that title. I should have though because I use Youtube as a source for learning how to do many things. I hope his eagle scout project is a success. Tomorrow I may have another comment on that video of him cursing me or giving me tips on how it should be done.

Hmmm, what other helpful videos can I make? It might be more fun to make videos on how not to do something. I've had lots of practice with that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One smart chicken out of 11

I'm going to have to give one of my chickens a name. Either she's just very affectionate or she's smart and knows if she's nice to me we won't eat her. I can promise, we won't. She's a barred rock hen. Last night James and I held her in our laps for 10 minutes or so while we scratched and petted her. She had no intention of getting down. I can't tell her apart from the other 3 barred rocks except she's friendlier. Most of the other chickens were outside their smaller fence in the pasture area pecking at volunteer pumpkins that are growing in our horse manure/compost pile.

The sun was quickly setting, the time when chickens head back to their pen for the night. The chickens realized they were on the other side of their fence and couldn't figure out how to get back in by following the fenceline the way they got there in the first place. I kind of wish I had this on video. The stupid chickens walk back and forth, back and forth along the fence trying to squeeze through little holes, which they can't. I tried catching them and throwing them over the fence. No chance. I tried getting food so they'd follow me. Some of them did, as did all the goats who kept jumping on me trying to get the food. I was getting frustrated. Finally, there were just 2 left on the other side, one australorp hen and Puck, the rooster. Even though we clipped the hen's wings she was strong enough to fly over the fence back to safety. The rooster saw her do it but still ran up and down the fenceline, 10 feet one way and back 10 feet. James came outside to help me. I know, I should have just left him there but he looked and sounded so desperate. The 2 of us cornered him and I caught him. He screamed but looked relieved to be back in his smaller fence. He ran in circles around his pen but couldn't find his way in. If he was a hen and we were going to eat our chickens he would have been the first on my plate last night. Sheesh!

They'll do it again tonight. Sometimes they find their way back, sometimes they don't. We need to figure out how to fix this problem before we have to go out of town and ask someone else to take care of our pets. Any suggestions? It would be nice if they were all tame like _________________(whatever I'm going to name her), then I could catch them or they'd follow me where I want them to go like the Pied Piper.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

An unusual doctor

I think I mentioned earlier that James and I had our physicals a few months ago. We get a kick out of our doctor. He kids with us and spends lots of time talking about stuff not related to our health. He and I are always sarcastic with each other. I don't know how that got started. This time he told me I would never die of heart disease because my cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. are so good. He followed that with, "you'll die of cancer".

Don't you know a week or 2 later I found a lump on my lower back. I fretted about it for a month or so, often reaching back to see if it went away yet. I really didn't think it was anything to be concerned about but James and I agreed it would be best to see the doctor so I'd know and then could forget about it. I went to see Dr. Pickral today. He said, "oh no, I thought I was done with you". I told him it was his fault I was there because he told me I was going to die from cancer. I said I hated having to spend $75.00 to see him and almost canceled my appointment but James told me I should go. Dr. Pickral said, "tell James, thanks, that was the easiest money I ever made. He told me he was 99% sure it was a benign tumor, a lipoma, nothing to worry about. Instead of the usual $75.00 he only charged me $50.00 since it was his fault I was there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beary Picking (a guest posting by James)

Every year wineberries add red to the 4th of July. As June comes to its close, I begin my annual tradition of climbing Thunder Ridge every other day to visit the patches I like to call my own. They hide in the Jefferson National Forest, where you own them, too, so I hope to find them first…
but they also belong to someone else. This year’s crop had been disappointing, small and relatively sparse, but yesterday morning I remembered a patch I discovered last year, a little farther off the single-track forest road. As I approached, I saw fat purple berries hanging in clumps. I felt like a kid digging up a cache of old coins. Within 15 minutes I filled two large containers. An hour later I was still feeling lucky, with my backpack bulging.
Suddenly, I stopped. Snap, crunch. Someone was approaching, very close. Strange, I hadn’t heard any warning. My colleague, whoever he was, rustled, as if he were reaching out for berries and stuffing them in his mouth.
“Hey!” I yelled. Sound big and look big, I remembered sage advice, and stood tall. A black shape scurried a few steps, crashing through the brush, and quickly shot up the nearest tree. He stopped 15 feet up.
I looked at him, he looked at me. My heart racing, I decided to let him enjoy his lunch, preferably not me. I stomped past big juicy fruit. Part of me wanted to pick more, but my brain prevailed. Down the mountain I went.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A pretty good day at the farm

Well, Polly seems to be settling in but she still cries a lot. At least it sounds like she's crying. Every now and then I see her hiding out in the chicken tractor. She seems to like watching me work on the barn and having me in her sight. I'm looking forward to the day when I see her cuddled up with the others.

I took a video of them this morning and posted the link on my blog.

I started building the hay loft today. It went pretty well but still isn't ready for hay. I also got the milking stand started.

I think I'll go take the goats for a walk now. I hope Polly will go with us.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Meet the new member of our family, Polly

I've added some pictures of our new little girl, Polly, another Nigerian Dwarf doe. I think she's beautiful. She's pregnant and due in August, I think. I'm hoping she delivers in early August so things are all settled down an figured out before we leave for my nieces wedding in September. I've also added some pictures of the barn looking somewhat complete even though there's so much more to do to it. Polly's in there all by herself tonight. I hope she's not scared. I'm going to take a flashlight out there soon and peek in at her. She's still very shy but I'm determined to win her over. I hope to have her cuddling up with me soon like the others do.