Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back from the BWCA

It seems like vacations go by so fast!  The turkeys got bigger while we were gone, and the pullets started laying a lot more of their cute little eggs.   The garden is bursting with goodness, but I didn't take any pictures around here today to share.  So, you get to see some of our vacation instead. 

We (Kevin, Debby, Kurt, and Kori) went to one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it is right here in Minnesota.

We camped.
 We paddled.

We were amused by the wildlife.

We cooked at and ate very well.

We fished - not so well.
We climbed trees

And we relaxed, we rested, and we just enjoyed each others company.  It was great. 

Until next time, be well friends.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Turkeys - Not Like Chickens

I'm posting this blog today, Tuesday, because we have been without internet since Sunday. It's frustrating how much we have come to rely on it.

This post is going to be one of those random ones.  Just warning you.

First, about turkeys.  So you may remember my first mention of getting turkeys, back in June.  I did not do any of my usual reading up before venturing into this new thing.  The title of today’s post refers to what I have learned about turkeys since then.  About the only thing really.  Oh, and they can fly.  Very well, and very high. 

The turkeys have decided that the place they prefer to spend the night is on top of the brooder, which is stored on top of the hog hut in their pen.  I would prefer that they sleep in the coop, where they are safe from predators.  The first night I attempted to shoo them indoors also turned out to be the last time.  What ensued was sort of a flying circus with one turkey on flying up to the roof of the coop and from there launching itself off the roof, over the fence and heading south with Hoover in hot pursuit.   Great.

To skip to the end of the story, we did find the bird hunkered down in the Black Forest, which is what we call the near-impenetrable grove of pine trees behind the house.  It was returned to the company of its siblings which were all back to where they started.  And that is where they stayed.

I picked this book up from the library.

I haven’t had much time to look at it, but what I have seen so far are dire warnings about all the nasty diseases that these birds are susceptible to.  My Royal Palms are so much unlike the frankenturkeys on the cover of the book that I am not going to worry about that too much - I believe they are much hardier birds than those raised for commercial use - and will be tastier too.

 Speaking of Hoover…
Dog of Destruction - enough said.

Can’t wait until he ages out of the puppy stage.

The sunflowers are at their peak.  We have some here by the house to greet us when we come home from work, and a bigger field of them out by Kori’s deer stand.  Kevin climbed up to take this first photo.

Looking good except for that low spot that is really wet.

The deer are systematically mowing them down, beginning at the north end and dining their way south.

While we were out there, I checked on the blackberries – looks like a bumper crop will be ripe soon.  The bears will be happy!

If you are in the habit of looking at this blog weekly, I want you to know there will not be a post next Sunday.  We will be on vacation, enjoying some time with the trees, rocks, and water up in BWCA.    

Sunday, August 7, 2016

NOT All About Soap Making

This post is going to mostly be about soap making but I do have critter stuff at the end.

The name of the post, "NOT All About Soap Making" is a reference to a sort of pet peeve of mine, which is magazine articles with titles like "All About Growing Corn (Tomatoes, Potatoes, Peas, pick your edible) or "All About Raising Pigs (Goats, Chickens, Children, pick your critter).  There is no way a single magazine story can tell All About anything, right? Anyway, this post is just a little overview of how soap is made, kind of the little description I give to folks when they ask about it at the farmer's market, only with photos.

So, basically, you combine fat and lye and you get soap.   Back in Grandma's day, the fat was lard and I use lard too, in combination with other fats like coconut oil and olive oil.  You need a liquid to dissolve the lye in and Grandma would have used water from the well.  I use goat's milk and a little water.  By the way, I do not use Grandma as a general term, I do mean my Grandma, who did make soap.  Maybe yours did too.

Anyway, here it is in pictures:

The first thing I do is weigh out the fat and oils, and melt them.
And here is the milk and some ice cubes, also carefully weighed.  The milk needs to start out as cold as possible because it heats up when the lye is added.
This is what lye looks like - it's nasty stuff so I really need to focus on safe handling.
This is the lye solution.  I have it on ice, and the cubes are melting fast.  If it heats up too much the milk will turn a bright orange!
After the lye solution is added to the oils, there is a LOT of stirring needed while the magic happens.  This stick blender really speeds things up.  Grandma would have loved it!  (Please note, gloves are recommended but I choose not to where them - and I have been burned by the lye a time or two - most unpleasant!)
Fast forward about 48 hours.  The 5 pounds of soap has cured in the mold and is ready to cut.  Check out my custom made soap cutting knife!  It was made by Matt Hurd of Hurd Family Farm.
The pigs moved back to the pasture on Tuesday evening.  They are really pretty easy to move, we just put them in a triangle of fence panels or gates and pull it with a tractor.  They just trot along to greener pastures.  The tricky part of this move was just getting them out of the coop yards where they had been hanging out for the last couple of weeks.  They were just convinced that the electric wire was still across the gate!  There was a lot of coaxing, bribing, and finally in a couple of cases, brute force was needed. 

Kevin won this wrestling match, but he had some sore muscles the next day!

Last thing, I have to show you this little fawn.  Hoover and I went past the cemetery on our run this morning and I am pretty sure it wasn't there then.   When we came back, there is was - this tiny fawn (in August?) laying by the fence.  Since Ardis and Rollie live just past the church, we dashed over to their house, rousted Rollie out to find their camera, and Hoover stayed with him while I hurried back to get a few pictures.  I don't think Hoover even knew it was there. 

There has been lots more going on around here of course - garden pumping out the beans, harvesting grain, etc., but I think this post is long enough.  Until next time, be well folks.