Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Basil Mozzarella

Our garden is full of basil and our refrigerator stays full of milk. 
Basil mozzarella was a very good idea. 

James bought me a wonderful present tonight but I can't blog about it because I don't have pictures yet.  Till tomorrow................

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Roxie got a present

His name is Hiwassee.  That's the town we had to drive to to get him.   Maybe we'll call him Wassee for short.  He's a boar and maybe next year when he's a big boy he and Roxie can make some cute babies.  He's a Yorkshire/Landrace/GOS cross.   I'd still like to get another girl.

Roxie seems thrilled with the company and he has adopted her as his mom for now.  He follows her everywhere and tonight they were sleeping together in her shelter.  It was an easy introduction and I loved watching them share table scraps.  He appears very relaxed and was very quiet in the car too.  Hopefully he's always going to be an easy going guy.  Once I know he'll follow her everywhere I'll expand their pasture to a much larger area which I began preparing today. 

These videos are of them in the first 5 minutes of his arrival.  You can see how he made himself at home right away.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

So much more to learn

This is a busy time of year.  If only I had the energy to do everything that needs to be done.  I've been a bit lazy (ok, a lot lazy) and some days make myself do at least a few things on my to-do list (which is in my head, not on paper).   I feel like if I can check just a few things off my list each day then I don't have to feel too guilty.

I've been saying for months now that my spaquaponics garden is under construction, which wasn't true.  It NEEDED to be under construction.  I finally got it back in shape; kind of.  I've learned a lot in the past year about what I did right (a very few things) and what I did wrong (many, many things).  I've made it smaller and have replaced the flimsy kiddie pool with a sturdier kiddie pool my neighbor gave me.  The beds get root-bound very easily so I'm sticking with lettuces which are easier to thin out.  The hot tub gets so algae-filled this time of year which is a challenge too.  Some days I'm ready to give up on it but now that I've invested more time in it I think I'll give it another season at least.

While I feel lazy, James seems to have all the energy in the world.  His gardens are producing like gangbusters.  He's a harvesting, canning, freezing maniac.  We've now added corn-on-the-cob to our list of vegetables/fruits ready-to-eat.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, blackberries, green beans, swiss chard, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, squash, wheat, kale, potatoes and herbs are also on the dinner list. I'm sure I've left some things out.  I should also mention we have more milk than I can keep up with which the dogs, chickens and Roxie are pretty happy about.

Have I mentioned it got hot this week?  Just ask Keri how hot it is.
As you can see, her coat is taking its time shedding out and she's forever putting her feet in the goats' water buckets and dirtying them up so  I filled a boat for her to cool off in.  She seemed grateful.  Summer is much harder on her than winter.  I think it is on all the animals except our old dog, Lex.

I don't think I mentioned that Darla came back here to live.  I had decided not to keep any mini goats so I could keep just one full-sized buck.  She was adopted by a friend of mine but was bullying her kids (goat kids) so she came back here where she's one of the low goats on the totem pole.   She has found a place in our chicken coop that she spends a good deal of time in when she wants to rest without worrying about being picked on.  It's funny how goats can be top dog in one herd and bottom of the pecking order in another.  I'll have to breed her to someone else's buck next spring because Cooper is too big for her.  I'm glad she's home.  She's still very affectionate and dog-like.  If she could live in the house I'd let her.

Remember my post about the pig pregnancy indicator? 
I've decided that's a bunch of hogwash.  I'm pretty sure Roxie isn't pregnant.  I think I've seen her come in to heat twice in the past 4 weeks.  It's kind of hard to tell with a pig.  At least it is for me.  Now I don't know what my next plan of action should be.  I can't really justify keeping a 500lb sow as a pet without having her produce babies, can I?  I called the pig farmer up the road to see if maybe his boar could breed her again this year but I haven't heard back from him.  I hate to buy a boar to service just one sow.  I'd have to build more housing.  I've promised a young couple I'd raise a pig for them for their wedding next September so I'll either need Roxie to have babies by December or January or I'll have to buy a feeder piglet elsewhere.   They're going to use it as their ring bearer :)

I've been raising goats and chickens now for 6 years, pigs for 2, rabbits for a year or 2 and donkeys for 3 years.  Just when I think I have things under control something upsets the apple cart and I need to re-think what my plans for this farm are.  I could really use some help with pasture management.  I'll save that topic for another blog. 

All this time we've been making it up as we go along and learning as we go.  Is it worth it?  I think so.  Do I feel like a farmer yet?  In many ways I do.  Am I an expert on goats, chickens, pigs, etc.?  Nope, but I know a whole lot more now than I did even a year ago.  When I start feeling smart I like to put myself in my place.  That's why we bought smart phones this week.  Ask me how smart I'm feeling now.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cheerios' commercial

I had begun another blog post and was about ready to publish it but then this http://www.dailydot.com/lol/kids-react-cheerios-commercial-race/ came across my computer via Facebook and I had to share it.  It brought tears to my eyes.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our first real donkey trail ride

Today we trailered Mac and Willo to the Glenwood Horse Trail, which is only about 2 miles from our house.  James rode Mac and I rode Willo.  They were so great.  Willo led most of the time.  She was very alert and watched the woods constantly.  Mac seemed very relaxed and he took the lead over a culvert that had water rushing beneath because Willo was unsure.  After he went over she decided it was ok and followed.

I was proud of all of us.  I think I said, "we did it", more than a few times.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Willo's most excellent day

Today was a big day for both me and Willo.  I had my riding lesson at 2:00 and my instructor told me it was ok to bring one of my donkeys for the lesson.  I planned to take Mac because he's usually very reliable and not as feisty as Willo.  I laid in bed worrying about this last night.  I've never towed a trailer before so there was more to this outing than just taking my donkey to a strange place. 

Mac decided he didn't want to ride in a trailer today, than-you-very-much.  I decided to try Willo.   She cooperated but I was afraid my luck couldn't last.  Even though I sweated the whole way there, I pulled the stock trailer safely to the horse farm.  Phew.  So far, so good.  No one was there yet so we walked around and I acquainted Willo with her surroundings.  The horses were pretty excited about having long ears on their property and there was lots of prancing and whinnying.  Willo seemed nonplussed.  She was very interested in everything though.

My instructor, her children and some others taking lessons arrived and began getting their horses ready.  I had Willo tied in the barn behind the horses and she took everything in that was going on around her.  Their corgi came up to her, I held my breath, they touched noses and then the dog licked Willo's nose and walked away.  Sweet, I relaxed a bit more. 

We mounted our horses/donkey and headed up to the riding ring.  Willo had never been in a ring like this and especially not with 5 other horses.  I was shocked when she walked right in and began doing what everyone else was doing - behaving  like a horse.  Some of the horses were nervous having her in there with them.  I don't know if it's her ears, she smells unusual, or they just sensed she's another kind of animal, but they knew she was different.  We did many laps around the ring, stepped over some obstacles, changed directions and for the most part, she did everything I asked of her.  I was dumbfounded.  This may not seem like a big deal to people who've been riding horses a long time, but to donkey people who know how  a green (newly trained and still learning) donkey can be, they would understand how huge this was.  It began to rain and still she behaved.  We weren't setting any records in speed but we kept moving most of the time.  Almost every lap though, she wanted to say hi to a little girl (3 or 4 ish) named Poppy who was hanging on the fence.  Willo was fascinated by her.  She did get a little nervous when one or two horses would canter up from behind and she heard them coming.  That was fine though.  Her ears would turn to listen for them and she usually slowed and turned her butt toward them. 

I should also add, Willo was very popular with my instructor's children.  The 15 year old daughter has been wanting a donkey and I heard her say to her mom, "see?, now can't we get a donkey?"  They all thought she was so cute.  I probably heard them say so more than 20 times.  Willo liked them too.  I took a picture of the 6 year old son holding her face but it didn't turn out.  I sure wish I had a video of us in the ring so you could see what a good girl she was.

To say I was proud is putting it mildly.  Our ride home was without incident and as I pulled into our field I said a silent, thank you.  I'm sure I was smiling.  When I let Willo loose in her pasture she took off running.   I wonder what she told the others.  I can't wait for our next outing.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Chocolate goat milk ice cream sandwiches

It's been raining here for several days but yesterday it just didn't let up so I found something I could do inside.

When I was grocery shopping this week I saw ice cream sandwiches in the freezer aisle and remembered how much I like them.  Somehow they came up again in a conversation with a friend so I decided I should make some on a rainy day.

First made the cookie dough.
  • 1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces of butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sifted dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • With a mixer beat the butter and sugar till fluffy.
    Add the egg and vanilla and mix.
    Next add cocoa, mix some more and then finally mix in the flour.
    Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for a few hours.

    When firm roll out onto a surface dusted with flour and cocoa powder.  This was the hardest part for me.  I don't think I let it chill long enough.  It kept sticking to the table and my rolling pin.  Roll to 1/8 inch thick then cut to the size you like with a pizza cutter.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Mine were very messy because they stuck to the spatula.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

    Next I made the ice cream.
    3 cups goat’s milk
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    3.5 oz good quality dark chocolate, chopped. 
    5 egg yolks
    3/4 cup sugar (split, 1/4 c. and 1/2 c.)
    2 tsp. vanilla
    In a saucepan, mix the milk, cream, 1/4 cup sugar and chocolate and bring to a simmer.
    In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the 1/2 cup sugar.
    Remove a cup of the milk mixture and whisk it into the yolk mixture.  Add another cup and whisk some more then pour this back into the saucepan and heat till it thickens. 
    Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
    Chill.  When completely chilled I put it in our electric ice cream maker.  It usually takes about 40 to 45 minutes for it to freeze.  It's more like soft serve when it's done so I put it in the freezer to firm it up a bit before spooning it onto the cookies.
    They weren't the prettiest but they sure are tasty. 

    Darcy's Girl

    Today Darcy gave me an adorable little girl.  Isn't it funny how she looks nothing like Darcy?
    Darcy doesn't seem to mind though.  She adores her and was an attentive, patient mom from the second she hit the ground.  I haven't named her yet but I'm thinking about calling her Rainy.