Saturday, July 31, 2010

May I bore you with more talk of plumbing?

I didn't sleep well last night because I knew I had so much to do today.  Why do I do that?  Losing sleep doesn't help and I just keep thinking about the same things again and again anyway.  Oh well, at least I felt prepared when I got up this morning.

Our dear friend and electrician, Fred, arrived at 9:30 to begin the installation of our new tankless water heater.  After I replaced the water lines last month the water heater began leaking out the top so we decided it was time to switch to the on-demand, or tankless, water heater.  I bought it online and over the phone and it was shipped in 5 days.  The only help I gave installing the heater was to drain the old one so we could remove it and then run to Lowes to buy the parts we needed while Fred did the electric work.  I finally skipped out because I had to get to our rental property to see what needed to be done about their wobbly toilet.  I was happy to come home later tonight to see a beautiful, small water heater hanging on our wall.  I also found the old heater decorating our patio. 

Thank goodness our rental is only 4 miles from our house.  I knew the toilet would need a new wax gasket but was concerned the floor boards were damaged too.  That's probably the biggest reason I lost sleep last night.  I was concerned about how I'd do the construction and plumbing that needed to be done and finish it in a day.  There's only one toilet in that house so it had to be completed pretty quickly.   Surprisingly I had all the things I needed to do the job except the glue for the PVC and flange.  I knew I could count on my neighbor, Feenie, to fix me right up though.  Some people borrow a cup of sugar.  He and I borrow each other's tools and supplies.

Sure enough, the floor was damaged and the flange had to be broken and chiseled off the pipe so I could install a new one.  That took longer than I expected but at least it worked and I didn't have to cut the drain line from below which is in a very tight crawlspace in a very tight spot.  I had to file away any remaining plastic and glue so the new flange would slide on.

I cut out the floorboards with a circular saw and wood chisels and also removed another layer of plywood.  The subfloor was still dry and solid.

 Luckily the depth of those 2 layers was 1 1/2 inches so I could replace it all with a 2 X 12 and it was flush with the existing floor.  It needs to be stained but since it's pine and so are the floorboards it should look ok.  It took me 6 hours to do this job but I got it done.  It may not be beautiful but their toilet is now sitting firmly on solid floor and the tenants are happy.
 I hope not to blog about plumbing for a very long time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Myduck died

This morning I found Myduck dead in their kennel.  I have no idea what happened to her.  Now there are only 2 ducklings left. 

We've had company for the past 4 days.  Today I get back to work and to blogging.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Myduck knows she's a duck

This morning I decided to give Myduck another chance to meet her duck family but I really didn't think Ginger would accept her and I wasn't so sure Myduck would be interested in them either, afterall, she loves me, right?

I set her down on the ground, Ginger honked and Myduck ran right to her and the other 2 babies.  Ginger touched her with her bill a few times but didn't hurt her or anything.  Myduck never looked my way again, not even when I called her name.  It's been more than 12 hours now and they all seem to have adopted each other quite nicely.   Of course I checked on her all day.  I was concerned Ginger wouldn't keep her warm at night but at dusk all 3 babies were huddled near her so I think it will be ok. 

I'm happy it all worked out but it made me just a little sad.  I guess she wasn't really My Duck.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

James says "poor duckling"

I think Myduck likes it.


I was holding off blogging about my new little girl/boy until I thought she was out of the woods.  I'm going to say she's a girl until I know differently.  I still don't know if she'll survive or not but I want to introduce you to her anyway.

I mentioned in my last blog entry that only 4 of the 8 duck eggs hatched and that was true but a day later I couldn't resist cracking open the abandoned unhatched eggs before I threw them in the compost.  When I cracked open the first one I was shocked to find a tiny wet thing that was moving like a beating heart.  The yolk was still attached to it and I couldn't tell if it was fully formed or not since everything was so gooey.  I placed it on the ground and called James to ask him if he thought I should put the other eggs back in the nest or open them.  He didn't answer so I decided on my own they would never hatch if I didn't open them.  The eggs were not as easy to crack open as I thought.  The membrane was tough to tear.  It's hard to believe weak little birds could peck their way out of there.  Of the 4, 2 of them were alive.  I got some paper towels and dried them off as best as I could and put them under a heat lamp.  They were very limp but would peep every now and then.  Within a few hours the first one I'd opened had died.  I didn't have high hopes for the other either but couldn't give up on her.  A friend suggested I try closing Ginger up in her pen with the little duckling to see if she'd take care of it.  She stayed right near it the rest of the afternoon but wouldn't cover it up and keep it warm like she did the rest.  She just watched it.  I went to bed and hoped for the best.

The next morning she was ignoring it and it was cool to the touch and very limp and weak.  I thought she was dead at first but once I picked her up she made a very faint peep.  Back to the heat lamp she went.   As she warmed up she perked up a little, lifting her head a bit and peeping but no more than that.  I put some water in my hand and dipped her bill in it.  She drank.  I got so excited.  She kept drinking.  This was yesterday (Saturday) around Noon.  I soaked some chicken food in water since I don't have any chick starter but I'm not sure if she's eaten it or not but I know she drinks on her own now.  Today she looks like a new bird.  She's walking unsteadily and sometimes she keeps one of her eyes closed.  I'm going to call her Myduck since I practically gave birth to her.  She has a tuft on her head just like Ginger.  I hope she makes it.  The other ducklings are quite a bit bigger than her and run all over the place like they've been walking forever.  I hope one day they'll accept Myduck into their flock.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Four Ducklings

Out of the 8 eggs we got 4 little ducklings.   At one day old she had them out of their nest and in the woods.  It's hard to believe these little guys can even step over a stick.  Since the ducklings hatched the Runner ducks are being nicer to the Magpies and even hanging out with them.  Maybe they'll get along afterall.  It's hard to get a close-up of the ducklings because Ginger won't let me get anywhere near.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Indian Runner ducks make good parents so far

I've read again and again that Indian Runner ducks rarely sit on their eggs and are terrible parents.  So far I haven't found this to be true.  My friend's Runner duck sat last year and this so I held out high hopes for ours since they're the offspring of hers.  Ginger has been a diligent broody duck, only leaving her nest a few times a day to eat and drink.  A few days ago I saw her out galavanting with Gilligan and wondered where Skipper was.  I looked in their duck house and there was Skipper sitting on the eggs.  I had no idea the males (drakes) helped with the egg sitting.

Today I was amazed again.  It was day 28 -  egg hatching time.  I went out before work to see if there was any new life.  Once again Ginger was out looking for food but she left the nest unattended.  Inside were two tiny ducks, no bigger than golf balls, it appeared.  There were 6 more unhatched eggs.  When I came home this afternoon I went straight to the duck house to see if there were any more.  Ginger was sitting on the nest with Skipper sitting right beside her.  Both were alert and on guard.  They weren't very happy to have me gawking at them.  One of the ducklings popped out from underneath Ginger but she quickly tucked him back under her wing and both parents hissed or quacked at me.  Skipper stood up to warn me and when he did I saw he was sitting on at least one egg.  I snapped a few pictures then left them to be parents.  Double click on this picture to see the duckling next to Ginger's head.

 If you look under Skipper you'll see the egg he was sitting on.

 I can't help but keep checking on them which irritates them, I'm sure.  Last I checked only Ginger was in  there and there were no eggs in the space where Skipper had been sitting.  So, did he pass the egg back to her?   I find this all so interesting. 

I had to check one more time before  publishing this post and here are two more pictures.  Again, double click on them so you can see the ducklings.  One of them is under her beak, along with some eggs.  So far we only see two.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Census taker comes to visit

I pulled into my driveway to find a red car that didn't look at all familiar.  Hmm, must be one of Adam's friends.  On closer inspection I discovered an older man looking at papers on his lap.  I tapped on his window which startled him.  I wonder how long he had been sitting there.  Maybe he was napping, I don't know.  "Can I help you?"

"Yes, you may".  Rats, I hate when someone corrects me.  I want to say, "I know that, but...."

He tells me his name is Fred Smith (or was it Frank?) and he worked for the census bureau.  I told him someone was just here a month or two ago, which led him to chatter on about something that I didn't pay much attention to since I had mail in my hand to look at and goats bahhing my name.  "Could we sit in the shade?", he asked.  I led him to the table on our front porch.  "This will only take a few minutes". Yeah, right.


"Karen J. Pannabecker".  It took 5 times repeating the spelling but he finally got it.  I could go on and on about him writing our names down because it was so unbelievable, but I won't make this any longer than I should.  It's good he had an eraser on his pencil.

"I've never heard that name before".  Yes, I know.....more uninteresting conversation.

"I also live in Rockbridge County."

"Uh huh.  May (I said "may" this time) I let my dogs out before they scratch up the door?" 

"Sure, I have a blue tick hound, my third one.  My first one died of cancer at age 8.  My second one...........(chatter, chatter) then ran away and never came back.  I think coyotes............
My son has 3 boys and a wife and he gave me this blue tick puppy...........they live in.............2 months old...."



"Well, they say white on here but I'm not allowed to make judgement just from looking.  I've only come across one black person today.   Ok, ok, ok, and we did this in English".

I say, "oh, do you speak other languages?"


"Then it's good I spoke English, huh?"

"I haven't encountered any Spaniards or anyone of that origin anyway.  Nothing but white.... just that one black guy and he was really very helpful (says he, like he expected something different)" 

There were a lot more questions that led to something more he wanted to tell me but I've bored you long enough.  I think he was here at least 30 minutes.  Even the dogs gave up on begging for scratches.

"Well, thanks for your time"

"Yes, have a good day."

"Well, I have to work and ................."

I was afraid to encourage any more conversation so I walked to my door.  I think Fred was lonely - or was it Frank?  Did I mention Fred/Frank was about 75 years old?

I wonder how many people he met with today.  4?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rain and mischief

We finally got a really good rain today.  It began as James was finishing up planting some more corn.  Perfect timing.

The goats hate rain so they stay in their barn and little houses and watch out their doorways.  I didn't visit with them much today because of the rain.  Once it slowed down I went outside to take a video of the magpie ducks because the one with the lame leg is now finally walking, well, kind of gimping, but still...

The ducks quickly escaped my lens before I got a chance to video them but it's good I went out there because I heard sounds of crashing metal coming from the goat's barn.  Hmm, I knew something was amiss.  Sure enough, what I found didn't make me happy yet I had to laugh in spite of myself.  Remember awhile back I blogged about them opening stalls and letting their babies out?  Well, today they opened the feed stall.  I think the noise was their dishes banging onto the floor or against the metal trash cans I keep their food in.  Somehow 7 goats were squeezed into this 5' X 4' stall which has 2 large garbage cans, a bale of hay and a shelf I keep their bowls on.  The shelf had been pushed forward and Flower and her daughter, Sprint, were stuck behind it.  Sprint was on her mom's back and neither of them could move.   It took lots of strength and maneuvering to eventually work them out of there.  Polly and her little babies were munching on the hay and Fresca was standing on top the garbage can.  Outside the stall was an empty bag of deworming pellets.  I have no idea how much I had left in there or how many goats partook in this feast but tonight everyone seems ok so I guess it hasn't hurt anyone.  I also found their expensive bag of minerals on the ground but it didn't look like much had spilled.
I took care of some indoor stuff today since I had the rain as a good excuse.  I syphoned the wine from the primary fermenters to the glass carboys where they will spend a few more months.  Both wines are wineberry, using somewhat the same recipe.  To show how inexact I am at following a recipe, look at the difference in colors of these wines.
I wonder if once the sediment settles, will they look closer to the same color.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Parlor Concert

It may sound stuffy but it was far from it.  This afternoon James and I attended a concert held in the parlor of a beautiful establishment in Lexington - Brierly Hill B&B.  The setting was beautiful and had amazing views of the mountains.  The attendees, only 22 of us, got to know each other a little bit more than maybe you would at another concert because of the intimate setting.  The entertainer - Charlie Zahm.

Our friend, Liz, sponsored the concert and I feel honored to have been on the guest list.  We never heard of Charlie but she had recently sent us some CDs of his so we had a little idea of what to expect.  Charlie has a rich baritone voice and sings traditional folk tunes, many of them Celtic, and songs that tell stories of the sea, cowboys, the Civil War and love.  I'll also note that he lives only an hour and 20 minutes from where I grew up, which we learned while talking to him at intermission - nice guy.  Not only was he friendly while talking to him face-to-face but while performing he looked us in the eyes and also told stories of how he came to write a song or the origination of a traditional folk song.  I love when performers do that.  Here's a sample of his singing

Once again James and I are reminded of how lucky we are to live in a place where music is such a huge part of the culture.  Thank you Liz and Charlie.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Nigerian Dwarf bucklings for sale

I thought I'd use this title in case anyone doing a search on Google is looking for just what I have for sale.  Wally and Doodle are close to 6 weeks old so I need to start advertising them.  Last time I put ads in our local Southern States store and Tractor Supply, along with an ad on Craigslist.  They sold because of the ad on the bulletin board at Southern States.  All 3 neutered males went to the same farm.

These little bucklings are different.  They can be registered, come from a CAE negative herd, both of whom are beautiful, their mother is a pleasure to milk and their father comes from very impressive stock.   I'm thinking of placing this slideshow on my Craigslist ad if I decide to go that direction.  It includes pictures of their parents which I think buyers would like to see.  I also have a few other pictures on there I will remove before putting it in the ad.  I had them on there so a friend could see them.

If anyone came upon this via a search, I live in Southwest Va and you can reach me by commenting on this blog entry.  

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Nigerian Dwarf Bucklings
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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happenings around the farm today

No real excitement happening here today, just a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  After milking and feeding everyone I moved the runner duck's paddle boat over to the magpie duck's area.  They aren't friends yet so they sleep in different locations.  I haven't seen the magpies in the boat yet but they drink out of it.  One of the ducks has a bum leg and pretty much stays in one place.  Every now and then she drags herself to the food or water but I keep those things close to her.  Today I picked her up but couldn't see anything wrong with her leg.  I put her in the boat but she was scared so I took her back out.  I'm hoping she'll heal.

Back in the house I heard a strange noise.  We keep our back door open in the morning to let some cool air in before it heats up.  This is what caused the noise.
After a 5 minute chase I finally caught the wren and released her.
Before it got too warm I put in a few more fence posts.  Only 7 more to go and I can complete the fence.
I hung a load of laundry on the line and I think it baked, I mean dried, in about 5 minutes.  Everything in our yard is baked.  Look at the grass.
The turkeys are forever standing in the goat's water bowls so today I put a galvanized tub in their fence.  One of the turkeys checked it out but didn't get in so I picked him up and put him in.  He just stood there until I lifted him out again 5 minutes later.  I wonder if he would have gotten out on his own.
Even though the goats have 5 gallon water buckets and some other smaller ones, I'm forever going out to refill them.  This might be why
The heat doesn't seem to bother the little chicks.  I see them and their mom wandering all over the place.  Their colors are really interesting to me.  They look nothing like any of the chickens who laid the eggs.  I can't wait to see what they grow up to look like and what color eggs they lay.  They should be an olive green color since our rooster is an Araucana which is a blue egg breed.
While I walked around taking pictures and piddling about this is what James was doing.
He may not look unhappy in the picture but he is.  He'll be glad when this book on the financial reform is done.  So will I.  He did take a break to make ice cream with me.

Our little babies are almost 6 weeks old so it's time to start thinking about selling the boys.  I took a few pictures of them to hang in Tractor Supply and Southern States.  Here's Wally.
                                                            And here's Doodle.

I see lightning out my window.  Maybe my rain dance today worked.  James said if it rains he's going to stand outside naked.  Sorry, no picture.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rebatching soap

It's been so hot here lately I find projects I can do indoors.  Today I made cheddar cheese and rebatched a somewhat failed batch of goat milk soap.  The last soap I made was more brittle than usual so I had lots of little pieces left after cutting it so I decided to make new soap out of the leftover pieces.   Also, I didn't add any fragrance or herbs to it first time around.  I had planned on putting spearmint leaves in but a friend came to visit while I was making it and somehow I got distracted and forgot to add the spearmint so it had very little smell at all.  We're using that soap and it feels nice but I like to have just a little something to give me a clean or yummy smell.  So today I decided to rebatch it, which means nothing more than re-melting it and adding other things.  I had originally thought if I added enough olive oil and goat milk I could make shampoo or body wash out of it but it set up like a hard soap so instead I poured it into molds.   The first one I made I added a very strong spearmint "tea", olive oil, almond extract and a vanilla oil.  The next one I added olive oil, coffee, coffee grounds, a jewel weed infusion and cocoa.  I can't wait to see how that one turns out.  I may want to eat that one.

First I chopped the soap into very tiny pieces and added very hot spearmint tea or coffee.  I added the milk, olive oil, coffee grounds etc.  then let the grated soap melt.  When it was all melted and smooth I poured it into the molds. 

This was so much more fun and easier than making the original soap which takes a few hours and this way I didn't have to worry about working with lye.  Today I ordered some potassium hydroxide.  That's what I'll use in place of the sodium hydroxide (lye) I use for bar soap.  Potassium hydroxide will keep the soap in liquid form.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence day is for the birds....and the goats.

Yeah, today is Independence Day and I'm not happy about it.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for my freedom and to live in America but I think my animals are taking this freedom thing to heart and I'm paying for it.

I'm beginning to question whether my fencing is adequate.  I guess I know the answer to that question and it's a big no.   I still haven't finished repairing the perimeter fencing to our pasture, partly because I want to use the old fencing I'm taking down from the boy's smaller fence and I have about 9 more fence post holes to dig in this very dry, very hard ground.  Yesterday I went out to check on the goats and saw that 3 of the boys had gotten out of the fence and were by the road eating honeysuckle to their heart's content.  I didn't think they'd go anywhere because goats stay near home.  HA!  I coaxed 2 of them back in with food but the 3rd, Shasta, was enjoying the green (which we have so little of right now since it's so dry) and wouldn't have any of it.  I ran to the house to change into pants to avoid poison ivy, one of the few things still growing right now.  I collected some fencing to make repairs too.  When I got back out there all the boys were charging back to their small fence like something scared them.  Shasta was nowhere to be found.  I looked up and down the road.  I was sure someone had stolen him because goats don't like being away from their family.  James came out to help me look with no luck.  I repaired the fence where he got out and a car stopped to ask me if I was missing a white goat.  Shasta was in the woods behind their house.  This was a good little run for him.  I hopped into my car with treats and a leash in hand.  He was scared to death and wouldn't come to me even though I had a pan full of sunflower seeds.  All this time I should have been home cooking dinner for friends who were coming to dinner.  I eventually caught him and all was well.  Dinner was late but that was ok.

Today I patched some more fence with the little fencing I have left.  There's still about 20 yards more I want to do.  While I was patching, one bronze turkey wouldn't leave me alone.  He/she kept pecking at my hands and getting between the old and newer fencing.  It probably took twice as long to do the job because of him.  Finally I picked him up and held him which seemed to make him very happy.  I tried memorizing his markings because I may just keep this guy or girl, a real pain but a sweetheart.

4:30PM today I got a phone call from a neighbor friend, "Karen, one of your turkeys is outside the fence".   How in the world could I ever work outside the home when I have to worry about rescuing animals regularly?  I should be thankful.  I read on Facebook today that a friend's cow got out of the fence at 2AM this morning.  Ok, that would really get my goat.  At least my animals have the decency to do it during the daylight.  Another person on a forum I follow had a cow get loose yesterday and it got hit and killed by a car and now may be facing charges.  Yikes! 

I'd like to suggest a new holiday -  It should begin tomorrow and be celebrated till I get all my ducks in a row.  Happy Containment Day to all you farmers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Putting turkeys to bed

Unlike chickens, the turkeys haven't figured out a bedtime routine.  They'd rather hang out in the goat's barn during the day so when I close the girl goats in, the turkeys can't figure out how to fly over the fence to get back to their own barn.  I know they could do it because I've seen them perch on top of the fence.  Just about every night we have to throw the turkeys over the fence so they can find their barn or we have to lead them back like the pied piper.  In this video James throws a few over the fence and then leads them back to their barn.  They're so clumsy and it's funny watching them follow us.  You can also see the tiny guineas amongst the crowd of turkeys.  They're very attached to the turkeys.