Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Quadruplets

I went out to the barn this morning  and Luti surprised me with 4 perfect little kids, 3 girls and 1 boy.  They were already cleaned up and napping.  I was hoping Luti would give me at least one little doeling to keep this year and she didn't let me down.  I'm only going to keep one (I think).  Their names are Daffy (boy), Dilly, Crocus and Lily. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Tonight's dinner was homemade pasta stuffed with rabbit and goat milk ricotta.  Very simple, actually.  The pasta recipe is just 1 cup flour, one egg, dash of salt and 2 tsp. of water or whatever it takes to make your pasta dough workable.   My dough was very orange because I used one of our whole free range chicken eggs and the yolks are very orange.  You could used 2 egg whites if the orange color offends you or you have something against egg yolks.

I rolled the dough with a rolling pin and cut it into "squares".   Today I made goat milk ricotta - the first cheese of the milking season.  Hooray!  We're back in milk.  I also cooked up a tough rooster.  Yes, I know I said this was rabbit but I lied.  The next time I make it it will be with rabbit.  I just liked the word rabioli better than chicken ravioli.  I put the meat in the food processor and then combined it with the ricotta for the stuffing.  It probably could have used a little cream to make it smoother but I used it as is.

 I placed some cheese/chicken mixture on the dough, moistened the edges and placed another piece of dough on top and made a rabioli.  Next I placed them on a greased cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for 2 hours since I wasn't ready to make dinner yet.  I thought they might hold together better this way when I threw them in boiling water.

Cooking fresh pasta takes no time at all.  These took maybe 4 minutes and that's only because the dough was a little thicker than I should have made them.  We still have lots of canned tomatoes from last year's garden so they were topped with our tomato sauce with garlic and basil, also from last year's garden.  The spinach on the side is fresh from this year.  You can't beat that.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Coop des poulets

I'm having so much fun building this chicken coop on wheels.  It's not done yet but it's getting there.  Today I got the roof on so it feels close. 

James and I picked up the pop up camper chassie a month or more ago and it's taken me awhile to get going on it.  You know I love a good building project but the weather was making it hard to get motivated and I wasn't sure where to begin.  Once I started though, it went pretty quickly.  Like most things I build, I made it up as I went along, without any plans.  A true builder would be horrified.  I was going to put a shed roof on it like I've done with all my other animal structures but James encouraged me to challenge myself so I decided to build my own trusses.  Thanks to Youtube it was pretty easy.  I'm not very good with math and angles but somehow I got it right.

I'm screening in the windows now and have yet to figure out what to do about a door.  I'm running out of lumber.  I haven't planned the perches or nesting boxes but that kind of decorating should be fun.  It will be painted barn red like the other buildings.  I'm sure I'll post a picture of it when it's done.

Now I'll entertain you with my adorable tap dancing kids.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Troubled by troubled jumper

Sometimes when I'm alone by the river I get this strange feeling I'll see a body washed up onto our land.  I know that's strange but we see so much stuff coming down the river you just never know.

Yesterday morning I went down to feed the pigs and saw lots of police cars and rescue vehicles on the bridge that borders our property.  Two men came over to ask me if it was ok if they drove in our field in case an ambulance needed to get down to the river.  Apparently a local man told his family he was going to jump off a bridge and it appears he did.  His car was found in the middle of the bridge leading into Arnold's Valley with no sign of the man.  I don't know who the guy is but was told he lives nearby and had previously jumped off the I 81 bridge but wasn't successful in his suicide attempt. 

I talked to a sheriff for awhile as we watched one of the divers.  He said the diver could stay in the water for no longer than an hour because the water was so cold.  It's pretty murky too because of the recent rain and snow.  Other rescuers waited on the shore in boats.  I eavesdropped on their conversation.  They had already done a search like this earlier in the week.  A woman had jumped but they couldn't find her.  Her body was recovered later.  I asked the sheriff how long it would be before this man's body surfaced.  He said 2 or 3 days.   He also said most bodies are found within 100 feet of where they jumped and rarely float too far downstream.

They quit searching at dark last night and resumed again late this morning.  Last I saw they were in boats further downstream and I read that they were using sonar.

It's all very disturbing and I can't stop thinking about it.  I do wonder if the man really jumped or is he watching from somewhere nearby.  I'll sleep better when this is over.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chicken update

I've had a few people ask how the chicken I bathed is doing so I thought I'd let everyone know she died today.  I have no idea what was wrong with her.   I hope her soak in the spa at least made her more comfortable near the end of her life.  James was kind enough today to point out that I never even gave her a name.  Sorry, sickly chicken.

Monday, March 11, 2013

First kids of 2013 (Pessa's)

Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day.  A perfect day to stand around in the barn waiting for kids.  Pessa took her time but it was worth the wait.  I think this was her 6th kidding so she's a pro at this now.  I videoed the first birth if you'd like to watch it.  First to make a showing was a doeling.
This was our first experience with quadruplets.  Unfortunately the 4th kid was stillborn.  It was a girl.  The second and third were little boys.  One of the boys was very lethargic for most of the day and couldn't stand up or nurse.  I wrapped him in a towel and tried giving him some colostrum from a bottle but he wasn't interested.  I held him in my lap for about an hour in the warm sunshine because he was shivering.  I really didn't think he was going to make it.  By evening he was standing and nursing and this morning he is doing just fine.  To be honest, I'm having a hard time telling the boys apart so I may be calling Paul, Simon and Simon, Paul.  The little girl's name is Carly.  She's a real beauty and looks more like her daddy than mom.
The boys look more like Pessa.  I think this one is Simon.
And this one is Paul, the boy that was so weak yesterday (I think).  I guess I need to study the boys more closely to see the differences. 
Luti isn't due till the end of the month so we have a little less than 3 weeks to give these little guys all the attention.  We're looking forward to drinking goat's milk again.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bathing a chicken

I have a hen who has been sickly for the past 6 days or so.  She's been lethargic and has a poopy butt.  I would have thought she was egg bound but she would have died after a few days if that was the case....I think.  She has a few buddies who hang out with her off and on which is sweet. 

This afternoon I decided to see if I could help her.   Even though it doesn't seem possible she's egg bound I thought I'd google that and see how to treat her.  I read that you could soak their behind in warm water and maybe it would help pass the egg.  What the heck, might as well try.  I filled a basin with warm water and sat her in it.  I thought for sure she'd fight it but she didn't.  She sat in the warm water for at least 10 minutes looking very relaxed.  I didn't have to hold her there or anything.
I know when I don't feel well I like taking a bath so maybe she felt the same way.  I took her out, wrapped her in a Scooby doo towel and held her in the sun for awhile until she decided she'd had enough cuddling.  I watched her preen herself and do some pooping.  I never saw her pass a soft egg or anything so I don't know if I helped her or not but she looked perkier.  I'll see tomorrow if she looks any better.  Maybe she'd like another bath.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Using aging sweet potatoes

We stored a lot of sweet potatoes in our basement over the winter.  They held up pretty well until recently.  Today I went through them and separated the good ones from the bruised and not-so-appealing ones.   What was left was a 5 gallon bucket of decent, hard sweet potatoes.  James grew white and red sweet potatoes.  For those of you who plan to grow them this year, I should mention the ones that held up the best were the red ones. 

I cooked some of the yucky ones and gave them to the pigs.  They weren't overly-enthusiastic but they did eat them.  I wasn't sure if they were hesitant because they were still hot or they don't love sweet potatoes.  I have plenty more for them.

I was afraid the good ones may not stay "good" if I didn't do something with them soon so I decided to make sweet potato fries to put in our freezer.  I sliced them into thin strips.
Then deep fat fried them in vegetable shortening for 4 minutes.  I drained them on paper towels then put them in a single layer on cookie sheets and froze them. 
After freezing for 2 hours I put them in freezer bags for future dinners when I can either fry them again or bake them in the oven.  After seeing all the fat that was absorbed I think I'll be baking them.

This hardly put a dent in the number of sweet potatoes we have left to use so for dinner I made sweet potato soup.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Creative nesting place

Anyone who raises free range chickens thinks, at some point,  their hens are laying eggs where they can't find them.  I feel pretty confident saying this.  If someone out there has raised chickens more than a few years and has them trained to always lay in the nests they've built for them let me know.  Since we clipped wings last week to keep chickens out of the garden fence they haven't been able to fly up to a few of the nests we have for them so they've found other places in addition to some of the lower nests. 
A few girls have laid them in our garage where we store the hay.  Lex discovered one of them yesterday and looked at me with a guilty egg eating face when I caught him licking his chops.  Another girl has left me one on the barn floor on the bare wood at least 2 days in a row.  I have no idea if Keri has found others.  She would not look the least bit guilty if she ate them.

This morning I was sitting in our basement and heard a rattle at the window.  Every now and then an animal gets down into our window well and can't get back out.  This animal could get out though and when she left I discovered at least 14 eggs in the leaves.  It appears she's been laying them there long before we clipped wings.  When I went over to look at her she hopped out but has now returned.  She looks rather cozy there, I think.  It's probably a good place for her to have breakfast too, as there are lots of bugs in window wells.  I wish she'd clean the window while she was down there.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Waddling Pessa

I think Pessa is 6 years old.  I wonder if each year pregnancy takes more of a toll on her.   She definitely has a hard time keeping up with the herd.  Today I videoed her waddling.  She always has her ears back as she walks.  It looks like it takes great effort.  Just a few more days now and she'll have babies.  I can't wait.  I wonder how she feels about it.