Thursday, June 30, 2011

Awwwww, Piggles

 Velma and Roxie are a month and a half old.  One of them is going to be in a kiss-the-pig contest on Sunday night at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Campground.  I don't know what that entails but I'm holding them so they might calm down by then.  Right now they're a little nervous.  They're living in a stall in the goat barn for at least a week until we bond.  Eventually they'll go out in the field garden and hopefully be good rototillers. 

I hope this was a good idea.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour

I'm experimenting with our wheat berries since James and I are in the middle of harvesting this year's wheat.  We still have quite a bit left from last year.  James probably tripled the amount grown this year so I need to find a better way to use it. 

I recently read a pizza dough recipe made with sprouted whole wheat flour.  I've never used it so I Googled it.  First of all, a 5 lb bag of sprouted whole wheat flour costs $15.44 so it has to be good for you right?  At least it has to be a lot of work to get it.  It happens to be both of these - good for you and a lot of work (that is, if you grow it yourself).  If you're interested in using it yourself you might find this interesting.

Why Sprouted Flour?

The Benefits of Sprouted Flour:
  • Easier to Digest - Sprouting breaks down the starches in grains into simple sugars so your body can digest them like a vegetable (like a tomato, not a potato).
  • Increased Vitamin C - Sprouting produces vitamin C.
  • Increased Vitamin B - Sprouting increases the vitamin B content (B2, B5, and B6).
  • Increased Carotene - Sprouting increases the carotene up to eight times.
  • Increased Enzymes are actually produced during sprouting.
  • Reduction of Anti-nutrients - Sprouting neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, which is a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
Until the 20th century, grain naturally sprouted in the field before it was milled into flour. The invention of the combine harvester during the Industrial Revolution changed everything. Grain could be harvested in the field and then moved to storage bins. The time-honored practice of sprouting was cast aside for modern processing.
Unfortunately, nutrition was also cast aside. When whole grains are not allowed to ferment or sprout, they don’t contain the nutrients that sprouted whole grains do. And they retain the naturally occurring antinutrients, even when milled into flour.

Makes sense to me.  So I decided to make some.  First I soaked the wheat berries (seeds) in water overnight.  The next day I drained them.  I let them sit another 2 days, rinsing them off each day, until they sprouted small white sprouts like this.
I dried them in my food dehydrator but you could dry them in the sun, I suppose.  It took maybe 6 hours in the dehydrator at 105 degrees.
When they were dry I ground them in my coffee grinder but it never makes it as fine as I want my flour to be

so today I broke down and ordered a Nutimill wheat/grain mill.
I've been wanting one of these for 3 years but couldn't bring myself to spend the money on one.  Since this is our 3rd year growing wheat I decided it's worth the money and we'll get lots of use out of it in the future.  I can't wait till it comes.  Sprouted whole wheat flour is supposed to be very sweet.  I hope we love it.  I doubt it's as sweet as Rice Krispy Treats.  It's definitely more work but I'm sure it's a healthier addition to our diets. 


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The perfect dessert

Rice Krispy Treats have only 3 ingredients.  They take 15 minutes to make and clean up and I don't know anyone who doesn't like them.  If you go to a potluck there will be cakes, pies and cheesecakes that take much longer to make and many more ingredients, but what dessert disappears first?  You got it, Rice Krispy Treats. 

Ok, ice cream is right up there in the delicious and simple department but it doesn't travel as well to a potluck.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Goodbye Shamus

Today Shamus was adopted by Mike.  Mike bought one of my little boys, Elton, this spring, who happens to be one of Shamus' offspring.  I cried just a little as they drove off but not like I thought I would.  I think the reason I didn't cry so hard is because Shamus was lying on the floorboard of the truck between Mike's mom's legs and she was petting and talking to him.  He looked like he was enjoying every minute of it. 

Shamus was born here last spring - Poppy's only kid.  He was the cutest little guy.
He won everyone over who met him.  That's why I kept him - because he was so sweet.  Owning and breeding dairy goats can be exciting yet tough at times.  The girls need to be bred every year which means making decisions on who to keep and who to sell.  Sometimes your heart rules your head, which was the case with Shamus.  There was only one Mini LaMancha doe I could breed him with so I had to use my head this year.  All I need is one Mini LaMancha buck for 3 girls.  Unfortunately for Shamus (or maybe not) it made more sense to keep Jimmy.  I'm sure Shamus will make many new friends at Mike's place. 

Thanks Mike, for giving Shamus a good home.  I look forward to hearing all about him and his new friends. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Gardener's Prayer

I've been inspired by my friend, Sophie, to start playing guitar again.  She plays the fiddle.  She and I played together a few days ago and I was pretty pitiful so I need to practice more so I can keep up with her.  I have a notebook with lots of songs I've played in the past so today I was going through it and picking out the ones I could remember.

Last year I had the guts (or too much wine) and sang a song on here that I wrote for James for Christmas in 2004.  Today I came across a song I wrote for him for our anniversary in 2005.  It seemed appropriate to re-visit the song since it's gardening season.  I remember sending a copy of this to my sister to edit and she didn't approve that the gardener dies at the end of the song.  I kept it that way though.

It's called A Gardener's Prayer and this time I'm not going to sing it.  Did I just hear a sigh of relief?

He wakes in the morning
And raises the blinds to see
That a new day's begun and no clouds hide the sun
What a beautiful day this will be

He walks to his garden
And he talks to the birds on his way
He strolls down the aisles as he sings and he smiles
Then he falls on his knees to pray

Lord, thanks for my garden
For my family and friends it feeds
For the bluebird's sweet song and a back that is strong
And providing for all my needs
For the vegetables, rain and rich soil
For hard work and a soft bed to rest
For sweat on my brow, my hoe and my plow
Oh Lord, I know I've been blessed

He sows seeds in the springtime
And his son labors by his side
It soon starts to rain but neither complains
The sun'll set before they go inside

The years pass, the son's grown
The gardener's nails are still full of clay
His plot may be small but his corn still stands tall
And he still makes the time to pray

Lord, thanks for my garden
For my family and friends it feeds
For the bluebird's sweet song and a back that is strong
And providing for all my needs
For the vegetables, rain and rich soil
For hard work and a soft bed to rest
For sweat on my brow, my hoe and my plow
Oh Lord, I know I've been blessed

The son walks him to his garden
Though it's cool the sun warms their hands
They talk of things past but the day's closing fast
Their eyes lock 'cause they both understand

The son holds him and whispers
"I'll always cherish these past few days"
It breaks my heart so but I know you must go
The he falls to his knees and prays

Lord, thanks for this gardener
Who nourished me like his most precious seed
He showed me how to be strong, how to know right from wrong
He provided for all my needs
Once again he'll be one with the soil
And I pray as we lay him to rest
To my son I hope to be all my dad was to me
Oh Lord, I know I've been blessed

Growing our own sweet potatoes

James planted sweet potatoes this year.  He hasn't tried growing them in a few years and the last time he did they didn't turn out so great.  I forget why.  He tries to grow everything as organically as he can.  He doesn't spray or use chemicals anyway.   I don't feed my goats organic food so their manure we use isn't considered organic, I guess.  I don't buy a lot of vegetables from the grocery store this time of year and when I do I don't always buy organic. 

Today I watched a video made by a young girl about the importance of "organic" and thought I'd share it with you. 

James doesn't use Bud nip, that I'm sure of.    Thank you Elise.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hooray for lights in the barn

Anyone who milks at night will understand why I'm so excited about this.

Is that a thing of beauty or what?  I took just a little longer in the barn than usual tonight because I was enjoying my new electricity.  Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can get my dusty little cd player to work so I can play music in there.  Our wonderful friend and electrician, Fred, wired it all just the way I wanted.  He had a little help from the goats.  Cooper knocked over his ladder then got tangled in the wires and pulled them out of the conduit. 

Tila has calmed down considerably but still follows Cooper around like he's her papa (or boyfriend).  He even waits for her when she gets behind.  Here she is sleeping with him and Shamus in the donkey barn.
I'm going to include a few more pictures that have nothing to do with the barn or goats just because they're cute.  These little girls love my little white bunny.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A friend to the rescue

It's good I didn't blog earlier today because it wouldn't have been pretty.  For those of you who might possibly think I'm a happy-go-lucky sweet person, well, I hate to let you down.  I can be pretty pissy sometimes.  Today was one of those days. 

If you read yesterday's blog you saw that Tila was very unhappy here.  Today was no different.  She's still crying but in a different, just-as-unpleasant voice.  I feel so sorry for her but no matter what I do I can't help her get over missing her mom.  To get an idea of how it sounded here today turn up the volume on your speakers.  Here is a very sad Tila.  It's got to get better.

To make matters worse, much worse, I picked a scab off Darla's neck and was able to squeeze some pus from the site of where her abscess was.  I was sick about it.  James and some friends arrived just in time to see me crying somewhat uncontrollably.  Crying is never pretty, is it?  I could barely concentrate on their conversation during lunch.  At one point one of the well-intentioned friends told me it was time to dispatch of this goat.  I know she meant well, and she's probably right, but it came at a time when I wasn't ready to talk about that. 

So went my afternoon.  I finished up making some Manchego cheese not feeling very enthused, which is too bad.  Yesterday I bought a wine refrigerator to keep my cheeses in since I've had very little luck keeping the mold under control in my little cheese room.  A wine cooler holds the same temperature that cheese is meant to age at so I'm hoping this might be the answer. 

I should also have been happy today because our friend and electrician, Fred, dug the trench to put electric in the barn so I don't have to milk by lantern at night.  That's his truck you see in the videos I posted above. 

Fortunately this afternoon I got a call from my friend and neighbor, Lauren, telling me she was coming by and did I need anything while she was in town.  I asked her if she could stop at the healthy food store and pick up some grapefruit seed oil extract to try on Darla.  Another friend, Lindy, suggested it might help.  It has many of the same qualities as antibiotics.  What do I have to lose at this point?  If it works, Lindy, I owe you big time.

Lauren showed up with my oil, along with a bottle of wine to share, some essential oils and many of her homemade salves.  We sat, chatted, laughed and drank wine and when she left I sniffed many of the essential oils she gave me and now I feel so much better.  

What would I do without my friends?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New chickens, new goat, feeling frazzled

A few days ago I adopted 6 chickens from someone who could no longer keep them due to acquiring a bird dog.  We've been getting so few eggs since we're down to 3 hens and 13 young chickens too young to lay.  At first things went pretty well with introductions.  The 6 new ones didn't want to join the others in the coop the first night so I put them in there myself.  The next morning everyone was still alive so that was good.  I saw some posturing and feather pulling a little later in the day but I figured that was to be expected.  Bedtime came around again and I found the 6 newcomers in the goat barn perched on shelves and stall walls.  James and I put them up in the hay loft which is 7 feet off the floor, figuring they'd be happy and safe there.

This morning I went out to the barn around 8:30 and they were still up there.  I don't know if they were too scared to fly down 3 1/2 feet to the stall walls or if they were just happy up there.  I put a ramp up so they could walk down if they wanted.  Right away Betty White walked down.  A moment later one of the red hens flew very gracefully to the floor.  The other 4 stayed put, including the rooster, Foggy (as in Foghorn Leghorn).   I ran errands and when I returned they were still there so I put water and food up for them.  I added steps on the ramp so it wouldn't be so slippery.  Still, they remained in the loft.  It's time to roost again and Betty and the other red hen put themselves to bed up with the others.  I hope tomorrow the other 4 follow them down the ramp. 

I brought home my new little girl today, Tila.  She's a Nubian. 
It's always hard taking babies from their moms.  It's even harder when they cry.  Tila cried just about non-stop for 3 hours - very loud.  She's still crying but not as often and she sounds a little horse, which is even sadder.   

I had to separate her from the donkeys because they chased her.  For some reason she's still fascinated by them and I've seen her nose-to-nose through the fence with Shiloh. 

I can still hear her crying now.  It's like hearing a crying human baby and not being able to make him or her stop.  Or maybe like a crying puppy the first night you bring it home.  It makes me feel a bit tense.  

Ok, just got in from putting kids to bed.  James held Tila for awhile before putting her in with Winnie and Rudy.  She seemed to like that.  She did not like being clobbered by them both when James put her in their stall.  He picked her back up and tried Darla and Benny.  Darla seemed to like her earlier today.  Ummm, but not in her stall at night.  I couldn't believe my sweet little Darla could hurt a fly.  I suggested he try putting her with Harlie and Celia.  Well, anyway, she ended up being with just Celia.  James put Harlie in with Winnie and Rudy.  I sat on the floor of Celia and Tila's stall and cuddled them awhile.  I can't say they were best buddies but at least no one was beating anyone up.  When I left the barn all was quiet.  I hope they're sleeping.

Oh how I hope tomorrow is a better day for everyone. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The ring dog

We attended the wedding of the daughter of some friends of ours last weekend.  It was a beautiful, simple, traditional outdoor wedding.  The one thing that wasn't traditional was the ring bearer.
 Check out his tuxedo collar and pillow on his back.   Way to go, Cody.

Congratulations Jessica and Matt.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another field trip at Elk Cliff Farm

Adam's tourism class from Radford U. took a field trip to our farm today.   It was fun watching Adam lead the group and talk about what James and I do and what was what.  He told us to jump in and answer questions when he didn't know the answers.  He even had to wear a microphone.  I wish I'd videoed him.  I'm sure he wouldn't have appreciated that though.  He showed them the goats and donkeys and they gave them treats.  He took them on a tour of the garden and some of them picked vegetables then took a quick peek at the young chickens and rabbits.  Much to my embarrassment  he took them down in our basement to show them where I make cheese and wine.  Had I known that I would have cleaned up down there and perhaps seen the dead mouse in the trap and emptied it so his professor didn't have to tell me we caught one.  They went down to see the river and take a quick dip before dinner.  He talked to them a little about how we built the pizza oven and then they made pizzas with dough made from our wheat, sauce from our tomatoes, vegetables from our garden and cheese from our goat's milk.  I always like when others want to make the pizza themselves and I get to watch.  I think they enjoyed it even though it was 96 degrees and they were standing in front of a fire.

All in all, I think it was a successful field trip and Adam was pleased with how it went.  Don't tell him I said this but, I think he's proud of his parents and home.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The value of a pet

Darla and I had an interesting visit at the VA Tech School of Veterinary Medicine.  I'm not sure Darla thought it was as interesting as I did but she did enjoy a lot of the attention.  Most of the time we were there she was surrounded by 10 to 12 people - students, doctors and technicians.  They took turns asking me questions about her history and about my other animals.  Several of them took turns running their hands all over Darla, squeezing the abscess and checking her vitals.  All the while she stood there very still, or sniffing their faces or chewing on them.  When they wanted her to lie down for her ultrasound she stayed just how they put her, not one bit of a struggle.  I felt like she was putting on a show for them. 

They gave her a sedative so they could cut and probe her neck but even with that she cried just about the whole time they dug around in there.  This was the only time she put up a fight.  I had to leave and use the restroom to get away.  They did this for over 15 minutes but it seemed even longer.  They didn't see much pus but are doing a culture on what they drew out.  They put a drain in and taught me how to inject a new (to Darla and me) antibiotic into the abscess twice a day, along with giving her 2 shots of the same antibiotic.  This is to be done for 10 days.  We were there 2 1/2 hours.  There was some down time where we had to stand around waiting while they gathered our medicines and wrote up their procedures and a bill.  During that time I had a conversation with one of the vets and a technician about how much people go through for their pets.

The vet told a story of a young couple who brought in their hamster to have a tumor removed.  The surgery was going to cost $100.00.  There was no young child involved, just these 2 adults.  We laughed about how many hamsters you could buy with $100.00 but all of us understood where they were coming from (kind of).  The technician told me how he brought home his 3 rats that he had worked with in his lab for so long.  He couldn't part with them when he left school.  He did assure me that when they died he didn't replace them.  The vet said he learned a good lesson when he was watching a surgery being performed on a horse.  He said it didn't look very special but the owners were dumping all kinds of money into this horse.  He asked the attending surgeon, "is this a valuable horse or something?"  The older gentleman answered, "young man, an animal is worth as much as a person is willing to pay for it".  I asked them if they were going to make fun of me for going to all this effort for a crossbreed goat, or a food animal as they called her (making apologies to me when they'd use that term).  I don't remember them answering.

They explained to me that this bacteria is very hard to treat and may not be successful but I feel like Darla is worth every dime it cost me. 

My niece sent me this picture of me and her playing veterinarian.  She held Darla while I aspirated her abscess.  She will be a vet in only 2 more years.  I'll stick with raising goats.

To be continued...........

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Update on Darla

It appears the surgery was not a success.  Darla's abscess returned.  I had said that the surgery was our last hope and if it didn't work we'd have her euthanized.  I called our wonderful vet, Dr. Dillon, and we discussed it.  She asked if I could bring her in today so she could take a look at her.  Before it was time to go I held Darla on my lap and we cuddled awhile.  She followed me to the car when it was time and I brought along a box of tissues just in case. 

Dr. Dillon came right out to the waiting room and stooped on the floor to check her out.  We talked, I cried.  She suggested I take her to VA Tech in hopes that they might have other ideas.  Like me, she wasn't ready to give up on her.  She arranged for me to see a vet that she really likes, is very good and will understand that Darla is a pet, not livestock.  So tomorrow morning at 10:00 Darla will once again take a car ride and be poked and prodded.  If by some miracle Darla survives all of this I'm going to take her hiking and on car rides.  She's such a good traveler and companion.  She follows me anywhere. 

As I waited for the vet to write up my bill for the surgery she never charged me for Darla left a huge puddle and pile on the waiting room floor and my lap which I then had to clean up while everyone else watched and giggled.  One man with a 12 year old boxer was just amazed at how his dog watched Darla walk all around the waiting room and completely left her alone.  He had just gotten done bragging to me about how his dog still acted very lively and was great at catching a frisbee.  As we left the vet's office I told him Darla could catch a frisbee too.  He smiled but I don't think he believed me.

Blogs I follow

Some of you may have noticed that I've added some other blogs I follow on the right side of my page.  There are so many people out there that keep blogs similar to mine (sometimes I think we're related) and I can't help but read them several times a week.  I'm afraid I'll miss out on their latest happenings.  Some are hilarious, some informative, some artistic and most are better written than mine. 

When you have some free time check them out.  I'm warning you though, several hours may pass and you'll find you're still sitting at your computer.