Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Chicken Days of August

August arrived, the heat did not leave with the change on the month.  The heat has began to take its toll on more than me, the garden is slowing down because of the heat.  Cucumber plants are giving up, so there were seeds put in the ground, it is always a gamble this late in the season but for a few cucumbers I will try and if there is success we shall munch the reward of late fruits.

I have been watching the pullets and I am starting to see the color come into their combs.  Bright combs means eggs are not far behind.  August 2, Annabel was not to be found when it was time to come in from free-ranging.  Mr. Bootsie went to check on the goats and there was Annabel under the equipment trailer, he began to coach her to come with him and into the coop she went, dropping her very first egg right inside the coop.  Mr. Bootsie found me, sharing the news of another green egg layer.  Now 6 more to lay their first eggs, I hope we can be as fortunate identifying the others.

In a few days there were new eggs in the laying boxes, we have no idea who is laying but there is a second green egg layer, Mrs. Thing, and the number of tan to light brown eggs has increased.  We should have 11 pullets to carry us through the winter.  The heat has brought all of the older hens into molt and the coop run has quite a large number of feathers laying around in it.  I have been cleaning lots of feathers from the coop as they seem to land in the corners and collect there.  One of the ducks has gone into molt, however, their molt is quite quick.  We should be set for eggs this winter, collecting 2 ducks eggs daily and 5 to 8 hens eggs will give us plenty with some to share.

I started milking the goats and it was time to make cheese.  I do not have a lot of storage room for cheese so the is a quick process for me.  I was making cheese every other night and I knew it was time to make some changes in the goat barn.  I made arrangements to move out Lacie, the farmer who has helped us learn so much was interested in adding alpines to her flock and I knew our Lacie would give her lots of milk.  The alpine milk is rich and there was about three inches of cream on top of a half gallon of milk.  This made some delicious cheese.  Scoot was a smaller alpine and this was her first fresh, I was in question about milking her.  The first morning she was a little afraid of getting on the milking stand, as the older does had never allowed her to mount the stand, we have windows in the barn and they can see out of the barn when standing on the milk stand.  So Scoot was prepared to be pushed from the stand.  Only to realize she was in the milking parlor with me and there were no other goats.  She began to hop on the stand and was ready to be milked.  This little girl was feeding her little boy and giving me quite a bit of milk.  I could honestly advertise her  as a milk goat, quickly found her a new home and she was able to take her little one.  Lacie was able to take her twins to her new home.  Our decision had been to keep Belle and her twins so in less than 2 weeks the goat barn was settled for the winter.  I was in question about our late breeding and arrival of summer babies, but things seemed to work out and I may take this road again if I should breed my girls later.  I have stopped milking as there is no need to keep pushing Belle, she is taking care of her twins and they are getting less and less milk daily.

The garden has been an experience this year.  I have gathered hardly no tomatoes, I have had a few to enjoy but the terrapins, raccoons, and squirrels seemed to think I was growing them for them.  With the long periods of hot weather the blooms did not set and there are now hardly any tomatoes on the vines.  There are blooms if we should have a reduction in the temperature there may hope for very late tomatoes.  The heat just cooked the late cucumbers and there will not be any in the garden, The corn did good, I was able to go the garden and harvest corn for a number of meals.  The pride, the corn gave me, when I came into the kitchen with an arm filled with ears was my personal win for this summer's growing season.  Peppers are starting to come in.  The butter beans have been productive.  Winter onions are coming up and it is time to prepare the tunnel for the winter garden.

 I feel I have learned quite a bit this year.  When the summer bought the heat I seemed to loose touch with the garden.  Some of the plants were suffering and others were excited to be in the hot, humid air.  I cut way back on watering to learn I have added enough natural material to build up the earth so it does hold moisture.  There was a flourish of weeds with our having such a wet season.  I grew turnips, green beans and squash, which if there was any excess,  they went into the goat barn and were a treat for the goats.  I am pleased to
 learn how to share the garden with the pasture crew as they enjoy things from the garden as much as I do.

Yes, this has been the chicken days of  August,  I have really enjoyed the chicks this year.  They are gentle and enjoy being handle by us.  Several come to visit in the goat barn and want to be carried back to the coop.  This is a new for me, the pullets just seem to want to be with us more than our older birds.  We have handled them more and I am sure that has made a difference.   Our collection of pullets are quite interesting, so when it came to names we began to have fun.  There are 4 who are the "First Wive's Club", this year we started naming some of them after the hosts of the cooking shows and, of course there are movie stars along with some leading ladies.

Fresh peaches arrived at the local orchard and we have been busy making and enjoying peach coffee cake and peach bread.  I developed each of the  recipes, they taste wonderful to Mr. Bootsie and me.  He is always asking me to make peach coffee cake as it is so moist and yummy.  Changes for peach under comments.

Sourdough Peach Coffee Cake

As the month of August comes to an end it is time to think fall, plants to move inside, cutting from plants to be made to winter over, bedding for the barn and coops.  We are entering my favorite my time of the year.  Things are just a little more settled here on our little farm, most of winter wood is gathered, the pantry is looking like it is ready for the winter and I am ready for a little time to rest.  You will find me setting in front of the fireplace, with a smile on my face as I know we have made it through another summer and I am dreaming of what will be in the garden next summer.  How many chickens will we raise next summer? I have no idea but I am sure there will be more chickens!!!

Thanks for stopping by, Until next time!!!!