Sunday, October 30, 2016

Skunked Again ... or... More Skunk Drama

The wayward skunk post of three weeks ago should have had a "Chapter 1" designation.  Chapter 2 occurred this past Monday.  I was out early and took the dogs to the shop to give them their breakfast.  They usually romp around a bit in the dark and then join me but that morning Mickey didn't show up right away.  I readied the kibble then went to the door to call him.  He came from down the pole barn - and the ODOR came with him... this had to be the most offensive olfactory assault that I have ever endured.  Words cannot describe how truly awful it was.  I had to go outside for unfouled air, leaving the dogs to dine unattended (the dogs must be supervised while in the shop because there are too many things that they can get into - some potentially harmful, others merely disgusting - like the cats' litter boxes - what is it with dogs and cat poo??? Gross!).

So later that evening after dark, while closing up the winter coop I discovered the striped offender trespassing in the coop-yard.  Since Kevin wasn't home, I called Rollie and he came down to our place.  End of the line for that varmint.  I feel kind of bad about it but we just can't have a skunk taking up residence.

Looks guilty doesn't he?  Both of the dogs had to spend Monday night outside but the smell actually went away pretty quickly.  

Speaking of the winter coop, changes there.  A dozen of my older hens have joined the pullets there - they are the keepers -and the rest of the hens and a couple of young roosters have gone to the freezer.  We reluctantly sent the turkeys with them.  It's really been interesting and fun to raise them, but after all, that is why we had them in the first place. They didn't go without a fuss either; Rollie actually had to go on the roof of the coop with a fishing net to catch one of them, while another flew off into the darkness of the back yard.  It was a bit of a hunt in the dark but Rollie was the one to catch than one too.

Four of the keepers.  Some of them look pretty scruffy but that is because they are molting.  They will be beautiful again soon. It's kind of funny how the older birds go to "bed" earlier than the young ones - just like us people!
Hunting season is almost upon us.  I heard Kevin humming the other day - I am pretty sure it was "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...".  And Ranger certainly thinks so.  He and Forest moved in with the does today.

I am pretty certain that  post next week will be about deer hunting - hopefully no Chapter 3 to the Skunk Saga.   Until then, be well friends.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Great Goat News!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that we experienced some sad and worrisome health issues with the does this summer.  We lost our Daisy, probably to some kind of parasite and when Echo and Vinca began losing weight and then Vinca wasn't eating, it was pretty scary.  Two rides to the vet and several different wormers later, things are better. 

Vinca's last blood test was poor; there was a possibility of permanent liver damage.   She had to put up with another blood draw last Sunday (thank you so much Beth!) and we got a good report back from the vet - her blood counts are much better.  She is healthy and we can go ahead with breeding her this fall.  Happy Dance!  
Beautiful Vinca enjoying some Brussels sprout leaves

In other goat news, there has been another escape by the lads.  We reacted by putting an electric strand between the lad's paddock and the winter coop-yard (this fence apparently is climbable if you are a sufficiently motivated goat) and Forest has moved in with the does. 

Vinca is not thrilled with this arrangement.

The does' milk production continues to decline, which is the normal course of things this time of year.  Pretty much all of the the milk is now going for yogurt, kefir, soap, and cheese. 

Anticipation is growing for deer hunting season - less than two weeks away now I think (Kevin could probably tell you how many hours).  A lot of time this weekend was spent on deer stands and other preparations - not by me - I just stay out of the way.

Anyway, you will be hearing more about that soon.  Until then, be well.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Another busy week of course, but at least no wandering critters!

News from the coop - I haven't introduced our new rooster - meet Rubio!

Rubio is a replacement for Diego who in August lost his good manners and consequently his head. He was due to retire anyway as I needed to bring in some new blood for my breeding plan..  Rubio is a Buckeye and will bring some good qualities to future generations of "Ole Lake Reds". 

The turkeys are continually entertaining us - now the fellows are doing that poofy thing - trying to impress the one hen I guess.  It's interesting how their heads turn blue when they do that, then when they stop, their normal color returns.
 A couple other pictures:
Ranger, still in bachelor quarters for a couple more weeks

A piggy portrait

Hunting readiness report:  Kevin has been spending a lot of the weekend time out in the woods getting ready for what he thinks is the best time of the year.  The logging roads have been cleared and trails trimmed and the stands ready to be put up next weekend. 

This is the view down the road to Rollie's platform stand, which of course is different than his opening day stand.  A person can't have only one stand!

Until next week, be well everyone

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Giant Mole, Wayward Skunk, and Cheese

There is never a dull moment here on the farm!

After last weekend's pig pranks we thought our problems in that department were solved - not so!  We arrived home from work on Monday to this...

Not that we are fastidious groundskeepers - far from it - but this is a bit much.  The culprit was not a giant mole; instead a good sized swine was the culprit.  Farmhands Rollie and Ardis were able to re-pen the pig (yes, only one did all that damage and more!) and put the fence back up.  We theorize that Hoover may have run into and taken down the fence that morning while out on his morning constitutional.  He had come back to the house in a rather subdued mood.  Anyway, whatever it was, there have been no further escapes since.
Safely fenced into the pumpkin patch - yep, just the one strand of eclectic fence effectively prevents them from a new bout of lawn destruction. 

Choretime is pretty early around here and it is quite dark out these days.  The first thing Kevin does is head for the shop with the dogs to get them their breakfast.  They take the opportunity to gallop happily around the farmyard, chase a cat or two and then convene again to have some kibble.  On Friday morning there was a new twist as the powerful and nauseating odor of skunk filled the shop - it was so bad that Kevin had to leave.  We concluded that Hoover must have accosted a skunk before coming in to eat.  All day at work I just dreaded coming home and having to bathe that dog.  Curiously, it wasn't him.  It wasn't Mickey, nor one of the cats, yet the shop still reeked.  This remained a mystery until Saturday morning when I discovered that an unwelcome striped presence was actually IN the shop - perhaps of settling in for the winter.  Kevin did manage to evict the trespasser without further defensive assaults and the shop doors are now kept firmly closed.

And cheese.  Remember that wine fridge the kids gave me for Christmas so that I can make aged cheeses?  It has been gathering dust in the basement.  I have made quite a few batches of chevre and some mozzarella but no aged cheese.  Now that our milk supply is on the decline, I thought I had better get it together and give it a try before it's too late.  There are many steps to this kind of cheese - do this, wait this long, do that, wait some more, etc., which is why it hasn't happened until now.  Our first aged cheese, Farmhouse Cheddar, is under way (or under whey - Ha!).  Presently it is air-drying (2-4 days) then I will wax it and then it will age in the cheese cave (aka wine fridge) for at least a month.  Worth time expense and time?  We will find out.

Be well people.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Not So Great Chicken Escape

So, who hasn't been out this week?

I think I mentioned last week something about us having a little trouble with goat containment - I was so tired on Sunday evening that I just didn't have the energy to tell about it, so that was going to be the subject of the blog this week.  The short version is that Ranger had removed himself from the goat pasture repeatedly and this unfortunate behavior continued on into this past week.  Mostly he was out alone but sometimes he had Forest along as a partner in crime.  No amount of shoring up of the fence would keep him in so the lads are now back to a smaller paddock made of sturdy fence panels.  End of their story for this week.
Kevin uses that tractor to pull a pasture shelter the a new area for the lads
Now I will share a little text conversation between Kevin and me.  I was at work, he had arrived home  on Wednesday afternoon. As an editorial note, I will add that since Kevin has a smartphone, he just types out his texts conversational style.  I have a caveman/flip phone (by choice) so I do abbreviate when in a hurry.

Kevin:  Did you meant to let the chickens out?
Me:  Didnt i?  g00d grf   pleze d0 p00r things!   (So I am thinking I forgot to let them out and they had been shut in all day)
Kevin:  No I mean we have free range chickens all over
Me:  oh dear   which? (meaning which group - the pullets from the winter coop, or the hens in the summer coop).
Kevin:  Both
Me:  No way
Kevin: Yep, and I think they are mixing
Me:  no way i did that
Me:  (in denial at this point) Obviously we have had a prankster...  they didnt let dogs 0r pigs 0r g0ats 0ut? (pretty long text for my caveman phone...)

So apparently I left BOTH of the gates open that morning.  In my own defense, it was 5:00 a.m.

It didn't turn out to be much of a problem anyway.  I keep them fenced in for their own protection and to keep them out of the garden.  The hens have been turned into the garden for the past week anyway.
some of the pullets cleaned up some spilled grain in the pole barn
and these greeted me when I got home
When evening came, they all sorted themselves out and returned to the correct coops. Everyone was accounted for.

The turkeys were out too - but that has become pretty common.
Clothesline helpers on Saturday morning

This has been the most glorious weekend.  Just beautiful weather.  I took this picture of the woods to the south across the new winter wheat field.  We both had plenty to do of course but made time to visit the local orchard today for some really awesome apples (Sweet Tangos -yum!)and to visit with our farmer friends who are vending there.  It was a great day... until the pigs got out...

Enough of that.  Be well