Saturday, March 29, 2014

Baby Ducks, 2 weeks old, Baby Chicks 1 day old

The temperature may still be playing games with us, but there is Spring in the air.   Baby Pekin ducks are entering their third week of being part of the farm family.  Not to be out done with chickens, which started to hatch Friday afternoon.  There is only a Welsummer rooster and all of the eggs are crossed with him or purebred with a Welly hen, we may be fortunate enough to hatch out some barnyard chicks and purebred Welsummer chicks.  Little ducks are swimming in their pond and loving the water.  When the weather warms these little ones will be meeting their mom and dad in our duck run.

Speaking of babies, the birthing pen has been finished in the barn, there is an outside area protected with a roof, this play day yard is really close to being complete.  I believe everything has been collected for the birthing.  I even found a canister for film which was suggested to have on hand.  This was in my seed box because I sometimes store seeds in the no longer needed film canister.  The closer April 12th is, the more prepared I feel we are.

Moles are loving all of the moisture in the ground,  There are tunnels everywhere.  I am so pleased I planted the tunnel garden in pots, when I go out to check I find a mole/vole hole beside the pot, check my plant, it is solid in the pot and growing.  Peas have been planted in the garden along with fennel and rhubarb.   This year I was able to have a few artichoke plants come up from seed and I will be adding these to the garden.  I want to protect the artichokes from the moles as I would love to establish a bed of these plants.   I will be using large pots for those plants.  Here is Swiss Chard with a mole/vole hole to the right side of the plant under the forward leaf.

When I checked the garden on Saturday, I found there had been visitors, all of the kale plants had been eaten.  These were planted in the row tunnels and I had removed the covers because it had been a nice spring rain on Friday night.  Being kale plants the thieves may have been deer.  I did see some damage to the turnips, also, the tops were pretty much consumed.

I have seen some big changes around the farm, Mr. Bootsie has taken to cleaning the duck brooder, Saturday morning there he was holding one of the ducks. I know this sounds like nothing but for him this was a biggie.  He always lets me move the little ones around to clean the brooders.   Leads are being put on the goats at feeding time and there is no sharing of food.  Mr. Bootsie put hooks in the barn so I can control them.  Every little thing seems to make my daily tasks much easier to complete.

Time for me to go and check, there may be a new chick just hatched.  I will let you know what I find next time!!!  Take care and Maybe, just maybe this coming week someone, somewhere may have some springtime weather.    Until the next time!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tis the time for Babies, Preparing for Babies and Lessons to be Learned

I have spent some time the kitchen this week.  I may have found a bread recipe which not only brings a lot of memories to me but will fill my needs as the spring arrives with all of it's adventures.  This is not quite like my Momma's bread but I am getting closer to the taste I am looking for, the texture is not at all like the bread I remember.  I must think about many things, Momma used lard in her bread, she started using shortening after we no longer processed hogs and I have no source of lard at the present.  Flour has changed over the years,  there was only all-purpose and cake flour when I was little.  But the big thing I remember, flour was sold in 25 pound bags in the grocery store, every grocery store.  This goes to show our demand for flour  has changed.  So, off, I go to the small bulk store to buy my 50 pound bag of flour twice a year.

What does this have to do with babies?  This is part of my kitchen preparedness for the birthing season. This bread can be frozen in the raw state and taken from the freezer frozen, brushed with melted butter and placed in a cold oven, baked for an hour and there is fresh yeast bread.  So, this has been a great find to add to my recipe book box.  This bread uses buttermilk or kefir, this excites me, bread made with either of these 2 liquids is so tender and moist.  There was French toast made one morning this week and yes, I was pleased.

Mr. Bootsie continues to work on the barn, he did the rigging and glass was put higher in the barn.  This will give us some light as pole barns once enclosed are very dark.  I am sure the barn will be ready for the little ones.  

Working in the garden, all of the blackberries have been pruned and retied.  The raccoons made a mess of the vines this past summer.  There were many broken vines which were taken out.  The new growth has not started so I think I will be all right.  The walking onion, garlic and fall planted onions are looking real good.  Our supper Saturday was our first spinach salad of the season.

There are hen eggs in the incubator, we are thinking about baby chicks.  The total count was 3 little ducks and when I say little there was one tiny little one, but it is growing and the other 2 take such good care of it.   They had their introduction to water and they played just like a duck.

My work seems to be never ending right now.  My days are starting before 7 and ending around 9 to 10 at night.  I start most of my days up potting the bedding plants which are babies also.  They need to be fed and watered just like all of the other babies.  My baby plants are the backbone of our garden, I shall be preserving the harvest.  These little babies will fill our pantry for the winter.  It is very important I take care of the plants for they will take care of us.

This week I saw one of the stronger little ducks help the smaller little one make it's way into our world.
It was an amazing lesson.  I have watched as the two ducks huddled close to help little duck stay warm. I stop to think about the miracle of the seed and I must say the miracle of egg isjust as wonderful.  Now we are getting closer to the birth of our baby goats, once again it will be another miracle for me.  The birthing kit for the goats is being put together.  This is another first for us,  I will be learning so much about the ladies.  I am excited and at the same time, I am frightened.  So right now, I just go to the pasture and scratch their heads and rub their bellies.  They seem to really enjoy my helping them scratch where they are having difficulties getting to.

Another long day for me and I am ready to dream about baby goats.  Until we have time to chat, soon I hope.  Sleep Well!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Things can really Change in a Week

Mr. Bootsie started working on the goat barn improvements Saturday, but Monday it started to look like the plan I had in my head.  This is going to give us some enclosed area with sunshine and protection from the weather.  This would have been wonderful during this snowy winter but we will have this in the future.  Because this is a pole barn, we are going to use fencing to keep the ladies out of the bays they should not go into.  He used all of the lumber we had and  when he went to pick up another load, there was bad news, they were out of stock.  Hopefully it will be in stock sometime this week.

Gracie checking out the barn improvements

First dozen eggs from my girls
I get so excited about collecting our eggs, but somedays I find a little boy running and looking everywhere the girls hide their eggs to see how many he can find.  It is truly an egg hunt here daily.  Mr. Bootsie and I try to beat each other to the coop and find where the eggs are today.  I took my basket on Wednesday and scurried to the coop, I saw the eggs Mr. Bootsie had found and then I started looking.  Opps, there is one girl sitting on the nest.  I went outside and played with the ducks while I was waiting to see if there would be another egg.  When I went in my girl was off the nest and there were 3 eggs in the box.  I added these to my basket, I could not believe my eyes, the first time ever, I had collected a dozen eggs.  I was so pleased and proud of my girls.

There has been a very tall hickory tree slowly dying, the roots were run over quite a lot installing the drain field.  When the storm came through this week we were helped out.  The tree was topped,  about 20 feet of the top came down.  Mr. Bootsie has sawed up the wood and it is quite dry.  So it is time to  split and rack.  This tree is no longer too tall for Mr. Bootsie to fell.

The ladies are turning into eating machines.  They are waiting for us to feed in the morning and at nighttime.  My sweet Belle stays so close when I am in the pasture, all of them want their tummies rubbed.  I am starting to feel so sorry for them.  I am seeing utters, this is getting so exciting for me.  How many?  When will they come?  Am I ready?  These questions keep going through my mind.

One thing is just about ready.  Mr. Bootsie has made one milking stand.  I am so pleased to have it setting in the barn waiting for me to start milking.  He has a little bit of finish work to do and we need to purchase a feed tray.  Lacie decided she wanted to try it out and she jumped on the stand which answered any question was it too tall.  We have 2 ladies with horns so we really need to be able to open the front.  I was sent out to measure the distance between the horn tips and it was 13 inches.

The seedling vegetable plants are coming up.  I really am trying this year not to start too many plants.  In the past I have started too many plants because I was always thinking of others.  This year as our crew is growing and will be needing extra attention (?) I have tried to grow what I will need.  There will be some extra's but not the amount I have grown in the past.  

Saturday, we have been watching the duck eggs all day.  We could see one working on coming into the world.  Last night I heard the soft little voice of a baby duck.  I came in about 3:30 this afternoon and there was a little duck struggling to get out of the egg shell.  This was a different egg than the one I have been all day.  When we came in from feeding around 7:15 there was one little duck totally out of the egg and moving around.  Another new adventure is about to begin here on the farm.  

There was quite a bit accomplished on the farm this week.  I am excited about the baby duck and getting things ready for our goats.  I hope you enjoyed our time together.    

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring is on the way, In the Coop and Goat Barn

I am so ready for this winter to be put to bed, along with a number of other folks, there were 2 new snows this week.  It doesn't matter how much snow we get, there were 2 more days, cloudy, wet, chilly, cold and I was not happy.  Days with sunshine would be such a pleasure.  But complaining is really all I can do, because I know we have NO control over the weather.  Thanks goodness for this!!!

I did do some fun things, made a freezer of ice cream and had lots of memories of times past when my family would make a freezer of cream almost every week.  Worked on a bread recipe, I am now learning to bake my casserole bread in a cast iron pan.  Sorry, I have none left for you to taste but there will be more next week.  The last trombonica squash is puree and squash bread, there is a small amount left to make soup with.  I spent two afternoons in the tunnel getting ready for spring.  The moles/voles are spending lots of time there.  I am going to mix up another batch of tea for them to see if this will send them some other place.  Very easy to make:   2 cups ammonia mixed with 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons dish washing soap.  Pour in  mole tunnels and cover.  What is planted in the cold tunnel is starting to grow.

Next week, we should have new farm friends.  The Farmer took some of our duck eggs and put them in her incubator.  She checked on them after a few days and they were starting to develop.  This past Sunday the eggs came home along with incubator and should hatch on the 11th of March.  I am making arrangements for them to have a place to live.  Too cold for them to go to the coop without a momma duck to keep them warm.

The goats are getting rounder and rounder, time has come for me to get things in order for our first birthing.  First ones should be born on April 12, This could be a busy day as we are expecting 2 of the ladies to give birth the same day.  I am starting to gather my supplies, plan to pick up a fresh load of straw, make some meals so I can spend lots of time with the babies.  I am hoping Spring will be in the air and warm, this was my plan when we bred in November, will it work out?  I have no idea.

It is time for Mr. Bootsie to get to work, I want the outside wall on the barn before the little ones arrive. Saturday morning, he was up, gathering his tools and, yes, he went to the barn by way of the coop to check on his girls.  The first order of business for him is to put up a temporary fence because he said he doesn't need 4 goats helping him.  By the end of the day there was progress.  We are very pleased with the progress he made in one day.

Seeds are coming up and I am starting to up pot.  Some are being planted in larger pots and put in the tunnel.  I have lots of kale up and I will be putting this in the row tunnels.  By Saturday afternoon I got into the garden.  Walking onions are coming up, garlic is looking good and there is lots of winter damage.  I have my work waiting for me.  The land is wet, soggy wet.  I was just glad to be able to get outside and see where I need to start.  I can tell you now,  there will not be any potatoes planted on March 17th.  My spring garden is going to be late because I really do not see how the land is going to be able to dry.

Tonight, we will be turning the clocks to day light saving time, life here on the farm will not change because the animals go to bed about sunset.  We will continue to work with our animals and keep them happy.  I think I need to go to bed and try to get a little rest before the hour is jumped over.  Time for me to say night-night and I will be visiting with you in just a few days.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Triple Creek Farm, March 1, 2014

I made my way over to Charlottesville and now I have "200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes".  I have been reading and trying to learn the whats, whys and how you proceed to make cheese.  This book also has a section Kefir.  I have been learning about using the whey this week.  I made bread and instead of softening the yeast in warm water, I used warm whey.  The texture of the bread was soft and as bread makers say "it had a good crumb".  I have also learned in the future when I make bread I can use the water I  use to rinse my kefir jars.  I find it interesting the more I learn, the less I waste in the kitchen.  I was using the rinse water for my plants and I shall continue to do this when I am not making bread.

Mr. Bootsie informed me after watching the Cheese Making Class that it all looked quite easy to him.  If you had the recipes, ingredients and tools, he thought we should have lots of cheese.  Maybe he should be the one making the cheese and I should be the one on clean-up detail.  I can only wonder how milking our goats will go,  let alone making cheese.  I am reading the book making my list of ingredients and proper tools to have on hand.  I will be adding to my kitchen staples, as I study more about the process of making cheese I am learning what I have may do the job.  The salad spinner makes a wonderful tool to drain curds, have one plus lots of stainless steel or porcelain colanders and strainers.

Firewood has become an issue.  I press to have lots of wood  racked for the winter, but Mr. Bootsie took the lead this past year, I think he may have learned his lesson.  We located a dead tree and dropped it this week, there is quite a bit of moisture in the tree but maybe it will be ready for blackberry winter in  May, after being split it will dry to where it will produce heat in our stove.  Do not fear, we do have heat other then the wood stove, we just enjoy the heat from the wood stove.  I bet you when the weather is a little warmer, he will be making his rounds finding wood to fill our racks for next winter and not tell me well last year we did not use that much, because we are using every dried stick of wood we have this winter.

The girls are producing in the coop.  We are collecting 8 to 9 eggs a day.  There are 16 layers in the coop and 1 rooster.  We have been getting a duck egg every day but the shell is not right.  I am feeding her oyster shell and egg shells.  She was not able to eat anything from the ground because of the snow for about 2 weeks and I do not know if this could have effected the way she produced the shell on her eggs.  I have been trying to get her chickweed everyday, lots of water and I did see improvement this morning.  The egg had a shell with only 1 soft spot.  This one made it to the house and is in the fridge.  It seems all of the eggs for about 3 weeks have been crushed and I just mixed them into the food for the girls.

Saturday, March 1, 2014, eggs gathered
I have found with the position of the sun, the cold tunnel is now a warm tunnel on sunny days.  I have been working in the tunnel without a coat or jacket, step out to get something I need and it is cold.  I will start adding more plants to the tunnel as soon as the snow is past this coming week.  I am already understanding why, I like to get the little plants outside as soon as possible.

Mr. Bootsie spent this afternoon studying different web sights making his decision which one he is going to use as the plan for my milking stand.  I want him to get this made so I can introduce my ladies to the stand.  I want to make this as easy as possible for the ladies and for me.  They are getting rounder and rounder.  First comes spring and then little goats!!!

I hope each of you are excited about this Spring.  I know it is going to be an adventure here!!!

What are your plans for this Spring, I would love to hear from you.  You may comment here or on Facebook!!!  Another week for me to ask all of you to be careful, someday we will feel the warm days of Spring, maybe in just a few weeks.  Be Safe my friends!!!