Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not as hard as I thought

I can be a real procrastinator.  As a matter-of-fact I'm procrastinating on many chores right now but today I decided I should tackle one that has been staring me in the face for many months.  It was my hot water heater.
The copper lines leading into and out of the water heater had pin holes in them so I taped them with some stuff that usually stops the leaks for a time.  Unfortunately the one where the hot water came out didn't cooperate and the tape kept bursting so I'd add more towels around the base so it would catch the drips.  I know, that's pitiful, but what's a woman to do who's too lazy or perhaps too incompetent to figure out a solution?  She waits a few months till the leak gets worse.

I thought the lines had to be copper and went to Lowes looking for replacements.  I found what I thought I needed but was hesitant to buy them because I wasn't sure if I needed to buy or rent a tool to attach these lines to my Pex lines.  You see, we replaced all (or almost all) our copper plumbing with PEX (kind of a PVC) and it requires a special tool and collars.  The tool is very expensive and you need a different one for each size pipe.  I own the 1/2 inch size but this connection would require a 3/4 inch tool.  I didn't want to have to buy that because I couldn't see where I'd have a need for it again.  The nice man at Lowes told me I could rent one from a nearby rental company.  The Lowes man's name tag said "plumbing expert" so I gave him my full attention and told him my problems, not all my problems, just my plumbing ones.  He was very attentive and helpful.  I had a 20 minute lesson in hot water tank line repairs and came home with stainless steel lines instead of copper.  I won't go into the details of how we decided what would work but it was a much easier fix than I thought and I didn't need the 3/4 PEX tool. 

I should mention I called 2 plumbers and the one I use is no longer working for this company and the other one I called couln't come for almost a week so I figured I needed to get on the ball myself.  So, to make a long story a little shorter I fixed the cold water line but the other one I got wasn't long enough so I need to go back to Lowes to get a longer one.  Oh well, at least I know it's an easy fix.

I love the shiny look of newly replaced plumbing.  Actually I like seeing no drips coming from the repaired line.  Plumbing can be one of my least favorite jobs.

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's winemaking time again

James hiked up the mountain a few days ago and picked 5 gallons of wineberries and, even though he doesn't drink wine, gave me 18 lbs of berries so I could make some.  He will probably go pick a few more times even though he put lots of them in the freezer already.  I think he hates not taking advantage of this free fruit so close to home.  It's no easy task reaching these berries.  You have to hike uphill through tall grass wearing long sleeves and pants in 90+ degree weather.  The berries grow high up on banks but you have to step over a ditch to reach up to these thorny vines.  It's kind of tricky.  I appreciate all he goes through so I can make my wineberry wine.

It's very simple to make.  I place the berries in a fine mesh bag I have placed in a 5 gallon bucket and add water, sugar, campden tablets, yeast nutrient, an acid blend and pectic enzyme then squish it all up.  Tomorrow I'll add the yeast and it will begin to ferment.  After fermentation begins it will sit in the 5 gallon bucket for about 5 days, or till my hydrometer shows a specific gravity (S.G.) of 1.030.   I'll remove the fruit then put the juice in a glass carboy where it will eventually become wine.  Over the next few months I will siphon the wine off the lees (sediment) into another carboy.  I'll do this until the wine is clear and nothing settles to the bottom.  Then it's time to bottle it.

In about 2 more weeks the blackberries will be ready and we have access to lots of them.  I may need more carboys this year.

Last night we made vanilla ice cream.  Tonight I want to make wineberry milkshakes.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I thought I built a goat barn

This is supposed to be my goat barn but the turkeys don't seem to know that.
This is the inside of my turkey barn.
Maybe the guineas will teach the turkeys how to get back to their home.  I let the guineas out of their dog crate this morning and they've been following the turkeys around for the most part.  I was glad to see they were still here when I got home today.  They're so small I'm afraid they're going to disappear somewhere and I won't be able to find them.  They can walk right through the fences.

When I went out to take these pictures I happened to catch the end of two Toms flogging.  Here's a short video.  I think the white one wins.  The bronze gave up too easily.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Ladies, eat your heart out

I have a list of blogs I follow posted on the right hand side of my blog but I don't know how many of you have ever checked them out.  I thought I'd direct you to one of them today because his subject matter is something (actually someone) I hold very near and dear to my heart.  Actually, I just want to show it off.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicks, Ducklings, Guineas, Turkeys and a Parrot

I counted all our birds today and came up with 48 including my parrot, Yogi.   Last Friday some friends came by with 4  little Magpie ducklings to add to our flock.  They're the same folks that gave us our other ducks.  Gail buys them and then gives them to us.  All they got in return are potatoes, beets, onions and garlic from the garden, along with some homemade wine.  She now has 2 ducks and we have 7 and hopefully some on the way since Ginger is giving all her attention now to her nest of eggs.

The older ducks and new ones are taking their time bonding but the wrestling doesn't happen as often now as it did the first day.  I haven't named the Magpies yet.

Today another friend, Pat,  came by and brought me 3 guinea fowl that are supposed to eat our bugs.  I hope they can take care of the flies because the barns are buzzing with them.  I don't want flies annoying the goats while I'm milking because it makes them kick.  People tell me if you have guineas you'll never have ticks or fleas in your yard.  They're only a few weeks old so they have to stay in a dog crate in the turkey barn until they're old enough to explore.  They peep a lot but I have a feeling I should get used to their noise because guineas are very vocal birds.  Pat has written many books having to do with chicken farming.  One of the most popular of them, I think, is the Chicken Tractor.  She has recently given me 2 more of her books, City Chicks, and then today she brought me Day Range Poultry.  Oh yeah, and she also brought me a bag of peaches she grew.  All she got from me is goat milk.  I owe her big-time unless these guineas are a real nuisance, then she owes me.  Just kidding. Here they are.
And here's what they'll look like full-grown

Another freebie I got today came from Freecycle.org.  Once again I scored pretty big on Freecycle.  Here's what I got.
Isn't that amazing?  She could have sold this but instead gave it away.  I'll use this cage outside so Yogi won't be left out while we entertain outdoors.  I need to scrub it down yet before I let him try it out.

Here's a picture of the little chicks I told you hatched last week.  I love the way the one is poking its head out from its mom's breast.
One last picture.  Here are 2 of the bronze turkeys.  They're growing so fast.
We've had a lot of interest in our turkeys lately.  Yesterday when I was repairing our fence out by the road the turkeys followed me.  A car stopped and the man yelled, "looks like you have some company there".  Minutes later another vehicle stopped and a man asked what I was going to do with all of them.  Later in the afternoon a man on a riding lawnmower pulled into our driveway and asked if we'd want to sell any.  James told him no, we planned to eat them ourselves.  He (along with one of the other men that stopped) said that was a lot of turkeys for us to eat.  Hmmm, we'll see.

Tomorrow I work processing chickens again so if anyone plans to drop off more birds, tomorrow isn't a good day.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I'm truly blessed to have the friends I do.  We've had company now for almost 2 weeks and I have had so much fun I can't even describe it.  One of our friends visiting this weekend put this slideshow together and as I watched it I relived so many times together and it brought back great memories.   They've always called where we live Pannabecker Mountain.  That's what she named the slideshow.  I hope you enjoy it.  I need to be sure to take more pictures when company comes because it's so much fun to look back at them later.


Our last guest leaves tomorrow and we're going to have to go back to work :(

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Now for some good music

I love it when Bob and James play jazz together.  Last night was filled with more music.  We spent the day down by the creek doing nothing but talking and putting our feet in the water then came back for dinner and some good entertainment.  Our guests made all the food and I did nothing but sit back and enjoy it.  Nice.  Here's a taste of what the music was like.  Next time they come we need to find some music for keyboard, sax, flute and guitar so Victor and Larry can join them.



Saturday, June 19, 2010

A love song to my husband

This weekend we have friends visiting us from NC, some we've known for at least 15 years.  One of the things we share, besides lots of laughter, is our love of music.  Most times they visit someone is playing an instrument and some of us are singing.  It's been a long time since we've been shy around each other.  That's something I love about our friendship.  Tonight I sang to them a song I wrote for James for our anniversary several years ago.  If you would have asked me to record this and put it on my blog 10 years ago I would have refused.  Now I realize it's more about the song to my husband than my bad singing and guitar playing.  Accompanying me is Larry Pinkston who is an amazing guitarist and was very patient to play along with me.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ1xwX9QQ90

Ok, be kind.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Devil's Marbleyard

When out-of-town friends come to stay who have never been here before we always want to show them everything we love about this place.  It's so hard to squeeze everything into their short visits and, of course, we can't.  One of our favorite hikes is practically in our own back yard, the Devil's Marbleyard.  To get there you have to hike for about 40 minutes on the Belfast Trail which gets increasingly steeper as you go and then finally you see "the rocks".  There's no way to describe them and pictures never do them justice. 

I took one of our guests this week to do this hike with me.  I think she was a little bit apprehensive at first but when she started climbing on the boulders I could see she was won over by the beauty, the experience, the views and, most important, the challenge.
This picture is at the bottom of the marbleyard.  It's only a small portion of the climb.  The rocks continue much higher than what you can see in this picture.
Some of the boulders are the size of a car but you can't really see that in the pictures.  I took a few with my camera phone when we were way up there but I can't upload them onto here.  The views from way up are usually amazing but this day we could see maybe 3 or 4 layers of mountain ranges and they were hazy.
 If you look past my karate kid pose you'll see how big some of the boulders are. 

We saw a really cool lizard that was bronze in color and had a blue belly.  You may have to double click on this picture to see the belly.
 I was glad we didn't see any snakes on this hike because Kathy is a self-proclaimed city girl and I didn't think a snake would be something she'd want to take a picture of so she could tell her friends about later.

On the way down the mountain we picked huckleberries (small blueberries) that were very sweet and tasty.  In another few weeks there will be many more to be picked.  James and I have tried growing blueberries many times with very little success so I'm amazed how these huckleberries grow out of the cracks in rocks and in this very dry soil.

Not far away from the Belfast Trail is a really cool swimming hole called the straw pond.  We had planned on jumping in after the hike but there were several people there which spoiled the whole experience so I just showed Kathy.  We discovered this swimming hole many years ago when we read about it in Outdoor Magazine.  It was described by the author as one of his favorite swimming holes in the world.  It got its name, the straw pond, because the locals tell us it used to freeze and they would cover it with straw to keep it frozen so they could cut ice from it for their refrigeration.  I wonder how long ago it was that someone did that.  

It was a great hike with lots of laughs and good conversation but today my knees are a little sore.  Anyone who comes to visit, ask us to take you here.  We've yet to encounter anyone who didn't love it.

If you Google Devil's Marbleyard you'll see many pictures of it that are better than mine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who needs an incubator?

I couldn't hatch chicks in an incubator but my australorp hen did a fantastic job of hatching 5 little chicks so far.  I thought they weren't due to hatch till tomorrow.  Maybe the last two eggs in her nest will hatch yet.
We have friends visiting from St. Louis and the wife, Kathy, has been helping me with my chores.  She's become a great poop scooper, goat consoler, turkey handler and egg collector.  She even does my dishes.  I wish I could keep her.  She knew I had a broody hen and asked if I had checked on them this afternoon.  I'm glad she suggested it because when I opened the garage door where I had the hen nesting there were 3 adorable little chicks staring from the nest.  The hen was hiding behind some hay bales protecting 2 more chicks.  When I went to snap a picture of them the mother hen screamed at me.  She's taking her job very seriously.  See how adorable they are?  I don't know what I'm going to do with them yet but I'm pretty excited about the new arrivals.  My female duck is now protecting eggs so I don't take them.  I hope she hatches them.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Yesterday a man working for Heifer International called me asking for a donation.  I think it's a great organization.  Even though I didn't commit to sending him money we had a nice conversation.  Nice guy.  He recently moved to Los Angeles from Charlottesville, VA, not very far from here.  Somehow I ended up telling him I have goats and he asked me if I made cheese.  I told him I did and he went on to tell me he and his wife were "foodies" and loved going to farmer's markets and they loved goat cheese.  I've never used the word, foodies, to describe us but I guess we might fit that description.  Last night's dinner was vegetables from our garden and a chicken from the farm I work at.  I thought it was beautiful, even raw.  Look at the purple potatoes.  I just loved the way they looked against the carrots and beets.  Tonight we're having a repeat performance minus the chicken.

A friend stopped by the day before and brought us a big bowl of sour cherries, also very pretty, I think.  I plan to make some pies from them and freeze them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Lots has been happening here and it's been hard to get to my blogging.  I picked up another little buckling Sunday.  He came with the name Jimmy and I think I'm going to keep that.  He's 8 weeks old and adorable.  He's a mini-Lamancha.  I got him from the same breeder I got Witty from.  This fall I'll breed him with my 3 mini-lamancha does.  I'm bottle feeding him for a few weeks then I'll wean him.  He sucks 8 to 10 ounces down in 30 seconds. 

I decided it was time to separate the other buckling and weathers from their moms the same day so all the boys would be together.  It all seemed to go well....until yesterday.  They were so busy playing together and inspecting their new yard that they didn't notice their moms and sisters were missing.  All day yesterday they 3 of them cried for their moms and some of the moms cried too.  It was so hard to listen to.  I ran errands so I wouldn't have to but James was in the garden and had to listen to it all day.  One of them was so desperate he sounded like a toddler or baby the first time you drop him off at a babysitter's house.  I mean, he screamed at the top of his lungs.  I actually got a little teary-eyed for a second.  I would have loved to put him back with his mom but I know I can't do that.  They could touch noses with their moms through the fence but that didn't seem to help.

Last night was the first night in a long time that I had to milk.  Three of them had lots to give so I ended up getting a total of 2 1/2 gallons of milk yesterday. 

It's much quieter and relaxed here today, thank goodness. 
Here's a picture of Shamus and Jimmy getting to know each other.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


We had our first set of triplets last night.  Well, we didn't, but Polly did.  Two boys and a girl.  The boys came first and I was a little disappointed but then she pushed out one more and when I turned her over I was happy to see the plumbing I was hoping for.  The first little boy out was the tiniest little goat I've ever seen.  He's adorable and just as hardy looking as any of the bigger goats we've had born here.  I was hoping to get a video of them today but they've been sleeping most of the day and haven't left their stall so all I got were snapshots.  Their names are Wally, Doodle and Daisy.  When I was milking Polly before I used to sing to her, Oh I went down south for to see my Sal singin' Polly Wolly Doodle all the day....... And that's where the names come from.  The 2 tiny ones are Doodle and Daisy.

I wanted to show a comparison in size between the chicken and baby but they're too far apart.
I was hoping to show how tiny Doodle was compared to my hand but WOW it just makes my hand look huge.
                                 A pile of baby goats.
 I have to add this last picture because I thought it was cute.  It also shows how hot it was today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How cool is this?

I just had to blog right now to say how cool it is that my son can be having surgery and the hospital provides internet service for the patient's family.  Adam was just taken away to have his tonsils removed and I have a 2 hour wait till I see him in recovery.  There are a few computers here and there for us to use while waiting.  We're at Augusta Health Center and I'm impressed with how nice it is.  That explains why this surgery is so expensive I guess.  I'm going to drink my fill of coffee and maybe even have some crackers or cookies but probably not thousands of dollars worth.  Hospitals sure have come a long way since I last sat in a waiting room.

I'm hoping to blog later tonight about babies being born in our barn today.  When we left this morning Polly looked like she could kid sometime in the next 12 hours.  I left James in charge and have my cell phone handy in case he needs help.  I'm also going to call my friend, Susan, to see if she can be on call if he needs her.  Adam's doctor asked me if I didn't think a goat could do it herself.  I told him no.  Of course I know she could do it herself but I don't want her to feel alone.  The nurse who checked Adam in used to have dairy goats and asked me if I'd call her if I ever started selling cheese.  We talked goats for a while and she asked Adam how it felt to be replaced by goats.  He laughed.  He may not have found it so amusing if I found someone else to bring him here just so I could be with Polly instead of him. 

So now I wait.