Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dream Castle

My 5 1/2 year old son, Evan, was lamenting this morning the fact that his Medieval Playmobil figures that he got from his Christmas Advent calendar had no castle to live in. He knows that Playmobil sells several castles and his hope was that if he made a big enough disturbance that he might be rewarded with one.

* According to The Free Dictionary the verb lament means: to grieve audibly; wail. So, yes I did mean to use that specific word, as that is an accurate description of Evan's behavior. *

Like most homesteading folks, our budget is tight and spending up to $100 on a plastic castle just isn't in our budget. But, Evan was right that his medieval figures really should have a nice castle to live in. So, I took Evan out to the recycling bins and started scavenging items. We brought back in these things:

  • 1 Big sturdy corrugated box
  • 1 Small corrugated box
  • 1 Borax box
  • 1 Cereal box
  • 1 Fruit Snack box
  • 2 Small Tissue boxes
  • 1 Breadcrumb container
  • 1 Pringles can
  • 1 Paper cup

The tools I scavenged from around the house included:

  • Box cutter
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Masking tape
  • Leftover paint
  • Paint brush
  • Sponge
It took us all afternoon to design, construct and paint up our masterpiece. We had great fun talking about what Evan wanted and how to incorporate it into the design. Both Evan and McKayla helped paint the base coat and I added the details. This is what we finished with:

Pretty cool huh? Yes, it is not grey... we didn't have black or grey paint. We did have several browns so that is what we used. It has a ramp up to a second floor room, three rooms on the roof and a veranda, a drawbridge, two balconies and a secret escape shoot from the roof (the shiny silver thing rotates around so it can be hidden from view). Total cost? Less then $1. I used 1/2 a roll of masking tape and two sticks of hot glue. Everything else was found items.

Evan moved his figures in before I even finished painting it! There has already been an alien invasion on the castle from the Legos and I see many more adventures to come.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Growing Challenge

So, I have been having grand dreams about what I want to do with the gardens this year. My biggest aspiration is to get a greenhouse up so I can get my seedlings started in it in the next months. I have been reading Eliot Coleman's book "Four-Season Harvest" and I hope to follow his basic plan for an inexpensive greenhouse. We will see how that goes.

What I did get done this weekend was to sort through the seeds I have remaining from last year as well as the seeds I managed to save myself (from some lettuces, squashes and carrots). All of these seeds are open pollinated, heirloom and/or organic.

Here is the list of seed I have:

Russian Tarragon
Broad Leaf Sage
French Summer Thyme
Common Chives
Slo-Bolt Cilantro
Siam Queen Thai Basil
Fine Verde Basil

Purple Tomatillo
Golden Greek Pepperoncini
Mini Red Bell Sweet Pepper
Charleston Belle Sweet Pepper
Thai Little Red Chili
Homestead Tomato
Amish Paste Red Tomato
Riesentraube Red Tomato
White Currant Tomato (loved these last year!)
Gold Medal Striped Tomato
Yellow Brandywine Tomato
Catskills Brussels Sprouts
Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli
Snowball Cauliflower
Brunswick Cabbage
Lettuce Rocky Top Mix
Iceburg Lettuce
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard
Giant Musselburgh Leek
Texas Early Grano 502 Onion
Red Creole Onion
Connecticut Field Pumpkin
Bush Buttercup
Baby Blue Hubbard
Yellow Scallop Squash
Black Beauty Summer Squash
Early Prolific Straightneck Summer Squash
Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon
Thai Bai Khuen Chai Celery
Kuroda Long 8" Carrot
Green Globe Artichoke
Mayflower Bean
Henderson's Black Valentine Bean
Chinese Green Noodle Long Bean
Lincoln Garden Pea

Mammoth Grey Striped Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower-Torch Sunflower
Clarke's Heavenly Blue Morning Glory
Pink Panther Pansy

Birdhouse Gourd
Small Spoon Gourd

This coming week my goals are to get my tomato and pepper seedlings planted. Start many of the herb seeds in pots. I have been craving fresh garden lettuces for a few months now so I also plan on sowing some lettuces in flats for growing here in the house. Something I should have been doing all winter but just never seemed to get around to it. Part of the problem I have is our home is so small (and it contains a 3yo, a 5yo and a dog) that I have no good place to put seedling flats so they will be safe and still have access to light. This is the main reason I really want a greenhouse (or I should say a hoop house as I don't intend to heat it). We will have to see how adventurous I get with the greenhouse construction in the next month.

The hens gave 15 eggs today.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Berk's day off the farm.

Neil and I were up early this morning as today Berk, one of our Anatolian Shepard Dogs, was scheduled to be neutered at the vet in town. He needed to be at the vet's office at 8am and that is almost 30 minutes from us. I scheduled it to be done on a day that Neil would be home from work so Neil could help me load him into the Suburban. As a livestock guard dog, Berk does not wear a collar nor is he leash trained. You simply can not walk him from the pasture to the vehicle on lead. We needed to take the large wire dog kennel into the pasture and then lure him into it with some food (without having him eat it!). Berk did not want to go in and pushing him was not an option if we wanted to keep the flesh on our shines intact! After we finally got him into the kennel the two of us had to carry that 150lb beast of a dog through a gate, then a door and finally up into the back of the Suburban.

I delivered Berk to the vets right on time. I helped the techs carry him into an exam room through a back door and then waited for the vet so I could help get a muzzle on him and give him has pre-anesthetic injection. Now, I might have been overly cautious about Berk but there was a great potential for things to go wrong. Berk is a wonderful dog when he is in his pasture doing his job protecting our livestock and us, but not even I would attempt to force him to do anything without risking a limb. Getting him in a sleeping state as soon as possible was the safest way to go about things.

This vet's normal procedure (which was thrown out the window for Berk) is to keep surgery patients until at least 6pm or later before going home. The vet and I discussed this before hand and we agreed that he should go home as soon as possible. Still he estimated it would be around 2pm before Berk could go home. Let's say I wasn't surprised when I got a call just after noon that I could come and get him at any time!

Tonight Berk seems fine. He spent the afternoon in the 10x10 catch pen by himself recovering fully. He was quite happy to be released back into the pasture.

Last night I started a batch of sourdough bread and set it by the wood stove to proof over night. So today, while at home, I punched it down and shaped it into two loaves and set them back by the fire to proof a second time. The second proof took about 3 hours and then into the oven they went. I made these loaves with 50% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour and %50 Organic AP Flour both from King Arthur Flour and they came out as a very tasty but dense loaf. The dense nature had more to do with my neglected sourdough starter then the flour I am sure. I should have fed my starter for a few more days before trying to use it. Still the loaves are very tasty, at least to the adults in the house, the kids don't care for the flavor of sourdough yet.

For those not familiar with sourdough I have found that the Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin "Baking with Sourdough" by Sara Pitzer a wonderful resource to begin your adventure in sourdough. On the most basic level a sourdough starter is created by catching "wild" yeasts in a mixture of flour and water. These living yeasts feed on the flour and in doing so produce gases that cause a dough to rise. Like any living thing your starter must be cared for and fed regularly or risk killing it off. The more you use your starter the healthier it will become.

The chickens gave 17 eggs today.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Growing Challenge

Well, I have done it. I have signed up for my first online/blog oriented challenge! I don't know what made me do it (well... it could be that I needed a distraction from yesterdays events) but I am looking forward to following along on this challenge and having the accountability that comes along with that.

So, you ask, what is this challenge? It is "The Growing Challenge" started by Melinda over at Elements of Time. The basis of her challenge is to get everyone to grow just one more thing from seed then they have in the past. The second aspect of the challenge is that each participant needs to blog at least once a week about their own efforts in gardening and/or the consumption of the outcome of that garden.

Personally, I think this will do me a world of good as far as my garden goes in 2008. I will have no problem growing one more thing then last year as I purchased many more types of seeds that never got planted last year. Plus, I hope to get the beginning of our fruit orchard in this spring.

Keep a look out for posts associated with the challenge... they will all have the label "Growing Challenge" so they should be easy to follow.

On a separate topic, I pulled my neglected sourdough starter out of the back of the refrigerator last night. It has been months since I have used it (shame on me). There was quite a thick layer of dark hooch on the top. I poured this off and collected some of the starter from the center of the crock. I washed up the sourdough crock, replaced the starter and fed it with a cup of flour and a cup of water. I gave it a stir and put it in my oven with the light on to see what it would do overnight. I was a little worried that I had killed it off by not feeding it for months.

This morning I peeked into the crock to see this:

Life! Lots of gas bubbles breaking on the foamy surface. I hadn't killed it after all! I fed it again to get it going really well. I will be making something with it tonight or tomorrow for sure!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tragic Death of Mal

I wish I had better news to report. I had to put Mal (our mini donkey jack) down today. I am still reeling over the whole thing.

We had Mal gelded a week ago last Tuesday by the local equine vet. At the time of gelding he also vaccinated Mal. Standard procedure for an unvaccinated (or unknown vaccination history) gelding surgery. Everything seemed to be fine and Mal was his normal self within days. Then this morning (8 days post gelding) when I went out to do chores Mal was not right; stiff, head down, silent, third eyelids up a little. I went up to the house to call the vet. Our first assumption was that it was most likely an infection. I had antibiotics in the house and drew up what the vet recommended over the phone. So, I went to give him that and to take his temp. By the time I got back down to the barn (maybe 15 minutes later) Mal was flat on his side, legs and neck stiff and he was non-responsive. I took his temp and it was normal. Gave the antibiotic anyway and went back to call the vet again. He said he would be right out.

When the vet arrived it was obvious that Mal had tetanus and the vet said that he was too far gone for treatment. Once the tetanus toxin bonds with the nerves it can not be unbonded. I had to let him go. It broke my heart. Mal was a wonderful little donkey and he was very much loved by us all. Poor Inara (his sister) keeps wandering the pasture looking for him.

I had never seen an animal suffer from tetanus before and I hope to never have to again. It is an awful disease. The vet is quite upset as well. He said that in 13 years practice he had never lost an animal from complications from gelding. The practice of vaccinating at the time of gelding is standard. He was more surprised that it happened to a donkey as he said "they are so hardy, they never get sick".

Tonight I am sad for Mal, sad for Inara and sad we lost a beloved part of our family.

In memory of Malcolm the ultimate cookie optimist.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Turkey Report

I received a wonderful phone call today from one of my 2007 Thanksgiving turkey customers. She apologized for taking so long to call after the holidays but said she wanted to make sure I knew how much they enjoyed the turkey they purchased from us!

They prepared their bird for Thanksgiving by deep frying it in peanut oil, a typical Southern way of cooking turkey. She said several of her dinner guests were skeptical of eating a home grown bird at first but after tasting how moist it was and the wonderful full flavor they raved over it. She said to make sure I reserve a turkey for her for this year's Thanksgiving as well.

We enjoyed the turkey we had here at the farm but it is always nice to get feedback from others.

She also asked if it would be OK to come over in the Spring for another farm visit? ALWAYS! I love showing folks around the farm and talking to them about what we are trying to do here and the importance of heritage breeds.

The hens gave 15 eggs today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Slow start...

Even though I call them "chores" I don't really feel that way about feeding and caring for the animals. I enjoy my time in the barn with the livestock and often find myself lingering about just watching the animals and giving scratches to those that enjoy them. But then there are the times like this morning...

I had a slow start this morning as I woke up with a head cold and a mild headache. I was warm as I snuggled in bed with McKayla beside me. The thought of getting out of that warm bed to go out to the cold barn was not much of an enticement. But by 8:45am I knew the animals were all waiting for me so I dragged myself out of bed, stoked the fire and bundled up for the cold (22F).

It is the transitions that I don't like... once down at the barn I was happy to see everyone was fine and waiting for their breakfasts. With the temps being below freezing most of the day I am having to lug water to all the animals 2-3 times a day. This latest cold spell has at least not frozen the water pipe to the barn. So, I only have to bring the water from the outside corner of the barn inside to fill the water buckets. It takes about six 5 gallon buckets each time I bring them water.

As much as I just wanted to cuddle on the couch today and knit, I had things in town to do; the bank, recycling center, feed store, and the grocery store.

When we finally returned home it was getting dark. I got the kids settled in the house and groceries (at least the cold stuff) put away. Then I donned my headlamp and went out to the barn to do the night chores. I was surprised as I walked down to the barn to discover our LGD, Emie, standing in one of the raised garden beds! It has been a few months since she has gotten out of the pastures so I was shocked to see her there. She went right down to the gate so I could let her back into the pasture. After everyone was fed, I grabbed the electric fence tester and headed out to see if the electric fence was working properly. It tested between 4000-5000 volts... right where it should be. Hummm... not sure how she got out this time. I just hoped she would still be in by morning.

The hens gave 13 eggs today.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Evidence of Snow

This picture is overlooking the female alpaca pasture out to the new home of the male alpacas. It was taken from the deck of the house.

Another one from the deck looking down to the big barn. There you see the girls undercover.

Snow on the blackberry patch.

My dog Tate was so thrilled to have snow again!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's Snowing... really it is!

The weatherman forecasted 2-4 inches for our area today but for most of the day it was too warm for snow and we just had a misty rain. Then about 3:30-4:00pm the rain turned to fluffy flakes and by 5:00pm it had started to accumulate on the ground. When I went out the do night chores there was snow on the backs of the alpacas, donkeys and cows.

I was disappointed it started snowing so late as by the time it accumulated enough to be pretty it was too dark out to take any photos. I can only hope that it sticks around over night and I can get a few photos in the morning before it warms up and melts.

Anyway, Neil's parents came for dinner tonight after they met with the realtor up in Clarksville, VA. I decided to make Chicken Enchiladas for dinner as it was a favorite of theirs that I cooked when we all lived together and it is not a dish they cook for themselves. I pulled one of the roosters I butchered this past fall out of freezer and put it in a stock pot with water, salt and pepper. I let it simmer for a few hours until the meat fell off the bones. I pulled everything out of the pot and removed the meat from the carcass. All the non-edible bits went back into the pot to continue to cook down for another hour or so.

Once the chicken stock in the pot had reduced by about a 1/3 I strained it through a fine mesh sieve and left it to cool on the counter so the fat could rise to the top. Once it cooled I skimmed some (but not all) of the fat off. The remaining stock was poured into freezer containers and put in the freezer for future use. The cooked chicken meat was shredded and completely used in the Chicken Enchilada recipe. I made the dish up early so it would be ready to throw in the oven when ever Neil's parents arrived.

Once that was set to go and the kitchen tidied up, I put about 3 dozen eggs on to hard boil. A little over a dozen I peeled and put into my pickling egg brine. Others will be saved for egg salad for lunch tomorrow and the remainder will be put in the fridge for the kids to snack on.

We had a nice visit with Neil's parents. Dinner got rave reviews. After dinner Neil and his Dad got involved in discussing the garage pad/foundation while Pam and I played Yahtzee and the kids played with the numbered pieces from the Rummikub game.

I had a repeat egg customer pick up two dozen eggs today. The hens gave 14 more.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sweat Pea goes to the vets.

The little grey kitten, Sweet Pea, that I picked up this past summer from Southern States has been showing signs of coming into heat. We do not want to add to the feline population so it is time to get her neutered. So, while Neil was home to stay with the kids I took little Sweet Pea into the vets office for her general exam and first vaccines. She is scheduled to go in to be spayed in two weeks when she will get her booster vaccines.

She was a perfect little cat in the vet's office but I expected no less of her. She is the best natured cat I have ever had.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sad sad news

I went out this morning only to find that all six remaining rabbit kits had gotten out of the nest box last night and died from cold exposure.

It makes me very sad and I feel as though I failed them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vet Visit

The big event of the day was having the vet come out to the farm.

I had a laundry list of things for the vet to do while he was here today.

  • Geld our mini donkey jack, Mal
  • Vaccinate both mini donkeys, Mal and Inara
  • Do health certificate on alpaca, Celia
  • Do pregnancy ultrasound on alpaca, Fiore
  • Exam hair loss on our cow, Cherry Blossom
Everything went really smoothly and I enjoyed chatting with the vet and helping him out. I must admit I really do miss working in my career at times (for those that don't know I am a vet tech).

Monday, January 14, 2008


I was sad to discover one of the rabbit kits dead outside the box this morning. I wish I knew what had happened... did it jump out on its own, get cold and die or did it die in the box and Purslane remove it? I will never know I guess. The rest of the litter is still thriving from what I can tell.

The rest of the morning was taken up with some general around the farm clean up tasks and stacking some fire wood Neil cut for me over the weekend. After lunch we headed to Southern States to pick up some livestock feeds. Only 300lbs of it this trip.

Around 4pm a delivery of hay arrived. 140 bales of Timothy/Orchard Grass for the alpacas. We are splitting this load with fellow alpaca farmer David Rosin of Day Dawn Alpaca Farms (just south of Roxboro). I helped load Dave's 50 bales in his trailer and after Dave left we stacked the remaining 90 bales into our semi-trailer. To get them all in it required stacking the bales six high, which is over my head so I ate a bit of hay doing it.

So, after a full day of stacking wood, lifting feed bags, and stacking hay, tonight my left arm is pretty sore. I don't think I can even knit tonight as I relax with the kids. I will just veg with them on the couch and watch some TV I guess.

The hens gave 13 eggs today. Oh, I had a gentleman stop and buy 2 dozen eggs today. Yeah! I also sent 2 dozen home with David Rosin. That helped thin the eggs out of the fridge a bit.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Alpaca Herd Health Day

It was a cold drizzly wet day out today but still we had things that needed to get done.

Neil worked on the goat barn for quite a while. It would seem to be an easy job siding an existing structure but the goat barn as a building was designed to hold turkeys with only chicken wire for siding. It was in no way framed in such a way that we can just nail on new siding. Support pieces have to be removed or moved, the old oak beams have twisted and bent, and there is the removal of the old chicken wire too. It stretches this job out and has truly become frustration for Neil. We worked on it today only enough to make it "goat tight" again.

We then retreated to the dry warmth of the big barn to do our monthly herd health day with the alpacas.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Evening sky.

I was standing at the kitchen sink and happened to look out at this beautiful cloud formation. I just needed to snap a photo of it although photos never seem to do nature justice.

As I stood there on the deck the clouds moved away and the sun began to set. The warm glow of the setting sun peeking through the winter trees was just beautiful.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Town errand day.

Today was a day to head into town and get some of our errands done: a trip to the bank, the insurance office, the DMV to get the Suburban titled in NC finally, and the grocery store. We also made a pit stop at McDonald's for lunch so the kids could play on the playground there. I don't mind much as I always carry a puzzle book with me so I can just get absorbed in that while they play. But, today Neil was with us and after a bit he was ready to finish up our errands and get home again.

Not long after we got home we had visitors. Donald, the dump truck driver from Monday, arrived with his wife to purchase three of our turkey hens. That brings our turkey numbers down to one tom and four hens. It was kind of sad to see them go but we really had too many hens. If they all laid just ten eggs next spring I would have had 70 turkeys to sell next season! I think four hens with the potential of 40 turkeys is much more reasonable for our second year marketing them. Also, now there are three less birds to feed over the winter, which helps with the cost of livestock feed.

For dinner I was craving Chinese food so I made beef and broccoli with a hoisin sauce, homemade pork egg rolls along with a dipping sauce. It made a huge amount so we will be eating leftovers for days.

The hens gave 13 eggs today.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Baby Bunnies

First thing I checked on this morning before doing all my chores was the baby bunnies born sometime yesterday afternoon. I moved the layer of rabbit fur from the box and found them still wiggling about. I gently moved a few around to try to get a better count and discovered at least 7 kits in the box. There maybe more as I didn't dig down in the pile. I guess as they get older I will know more.

I am still a little worried about Purslane nursing them enough as this is her first kindling and, at least when I am around, she is not in the box that often. Only once today did I see her get the box and rearrange the nesting material but I didn't see her settle down to nurse.

At evening chores I again peeked into the box, this time using a flashlight, and I still saw the kits moving around so hopefully my fears are unwarranted.

Oh, Emmie, our LGD got sprayed by a skunk last night so the whole barn smells skunky today. A 125 lb livestock gaurd dog is not the kind of dog you can bath so I will just have to wait for the smell to fade away by itself.

The hens gave 14 eggs today.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Surprise in the rabbit hutch!

When I was out doing morning chores I was greeted at the rabbit hutch with rabbit fur everywhere! My first thought was with the bitter cold of last month and then our warm spell this week that the buns might be shedding out early. Then I realized it was just Purslane that was pulling fur out. Now Purslane is one of our does and she has been co-habitating with our buck Sarsaparilla since the end of October and she has not kindled (given birth) up to this point. Rabbits are only pregnant for 30-31 days so the two should have produced a litter long ago. I had given up on them and figured one of them must be infertile.

So, the realization that Purslane may actually be pulling pull to prepare a nest for kindling came as quite a shock to me. Just in case, I separated the two back into their own hutches, put some clean straw in the nest box and scooped up as much loose fur as I could and put it on top of the straw in the box. Purslane went right to work rearranging all the material in the nest box and kept busy with it for most of the morning.

We had errands to run in town and when we returned around 2pm I went to check on Purslane. She wasn't in the nest box but was lounging against one of the walls. Out of curiosity I peaked into the nest box and much to my surprise I saw no less then four little wiggly lumps! I didn't reach in and Purslane didn't seem stressed that I was nearby. I stood back a bit to watch and Purslane never went to the box. I left the area and went to sit at the picnic table about 50 feet away so I could watch without Purslane knowing. I must have sat there for over an hour and Purslane never entered the nest box. She was up eating, drinking and grooming but never checked on the kits. This is my first experience with rabbit breeding so I am not really sure how attentive does are. But, I am worried about the kits and if they will survive the night or not.

Other news from the farm. David from the paving company returned this morning to finish the grading for the garage. It took two more dump trucks of material today to get it to grade. He was done before noon and said he would be back to build the forms later. Don't know when later is though.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Garage slab

Much to my surprise this morning, our neighbor Danny and one of his crew showed up this morning with their survey equipment and a Bobcat dozer to start work on the concrete garage slab. About an hour after they arrived the dump trucks began delivering the screenings (rock dust) to get the ground up to grade. Well, six truck loads later it was almost 5pm and they still needed more material to get it up to grade! They will be back in the morning to finish up.

The crew was fun to have on the farm today. They were great with the kids and would let them play "king of the mountain" on each truck load before bringing in the dozer to make it level. The drivers of the trucks visited with the animals and I think I have sold two turkey hens to one. He is going to send his wife over soon to look at them. I also found out that this driver was the one that actually moved our semi-trailer box from behind our barn over into the woods for us. That happened last winter and we were not here for it... so I thanked him for that.

The other driver said she was here on the farm about 10 years ago to help haul trash from inside and outside of the house away. She said it was somewhere between 12-16 dump truck loads of trash they took off the property that day! I knew the previous owners (not the ones we purchased it from but the ones before them) were less then desirable folks but no one up to now had told us it was that bad here. I does help explain better all the broken glass and trash we continue to find everywhere on the property. I do feel that the land is breathing a sigh of relief as we continue to clean the mess we find.

The hens gave 15 eggs today.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The weather broke finally

Wow! After two weeks of cold wet rain and then freezing temperatures we awoke this morning to a beautiful day outside. When I went to do chores it was already over 50F and most of the day is was up around 70F! It felt like spring.

This was Neil's last day of vacation and with the lousy weather we haven't been able to get most of the projects done that we hoped to during his vacation time. It is kind of hard to put siding on the barns in driving rain and 6 inches of mud. So, today Neil got almost the entire end wall of the alpaca barn finished. He ran out of 2x4s at the end so he couldn't finish the header over the 8 foot door but otherwise it looks great.

It was so nice out that I took the cria coat off of our new baby alpaca for the first time. I then took a bunch of photos of her since I really couldn't do that well with her shut up in the barn with her mom Noodle. Noodle has finally decided to be an attentive mom and is nursing her well and worries when she is out of sight. I think we have decided on a name for her: Gingersnap. Since she was born 3 days after Christmas and had the color of gingerbread it just seemed to fit her. We will most likely call her Ginger around the farm. Here is one of the photos I snapped of Ginger today at 10 days old.

We spent the rest of the day just tidying up outside and enjoying the nice weather. Our neighbor across the street, Danny, came over to talk with Neil about pouring the cement slab for our new garage and he told Neil that he would be able to get it done in the next two weeks or so. It will be so nice for Neil to finally get his garage up so the tools from the house, the shed and the barn can all go to their proper place and Neil can have a place to work without having to clear space in the barn every time we do a project.

The hens only gave 7 eggs today. They must be hiding them somewhere.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that this is the second New Year's Day we have spent here on the farm! Boy, doesn't time fly by...

Our first goal for today was to offload the 3 1000+ lb round hay bales into the cow pasture. Both Neil and I were a little uncertain how that was going to go but it ended up going better then ever imagined. Neil backed the trailer right into the pasture over the place we wanted the bales to set. He brought our little Kobota tractor in and we looped a single strapping around the bale and attached it to the bucket of the tractor. Then we backed the tractor up and off slid the bale! Then Neil pushed it a bit off to the side so we could pull the other two off. So simple!

And the cows and donkeys were thrilled! I am hoping that with the "all they can eat" hay and the worming I did yesterday that I can get some condition back on Cherry Blossom... she is far too thin right now.

Next project was to assemble the new "temporary" building we picked up at Tractor Supply on Sunday. It is a 12x20 tarped covered shelter that we put into the male alpacas pasture to give them more shelter from the rain. With our new breeding male coming in a few weeks we needed to upgrade our male living quarters.

The building went together like an erector set and I dare say that Neil and I actually had fun doing it. It is really sturdy and looks pretty nice to boot (it is dark forest green so it blends right in to the tree line).

This was our second day with no rain and the pastures had dried out enough that they no longer had standing water in them. I took advantage of this and finally let Noodle and her five day old cria out of the barn for a few hours while we were working in the pasture. The little cria seems to be doing well despite her petite size. The two mingled with the herd until evening chores when I put them back in the catch pen in the barn. The barn is a bit warmer and I didn't want to risk it raining overnight and the cria getting chilled.

Neil wanted to try a new restaurant in town so we all went out for dinner and had Italian.

The hens gave 17 eggs today.