Friday, January 29, 2010
The parsnip (or shall I say parsnips) is one I dug from the garden. I was so pleased to see that the seed germinated in the spring that I didn't thin them as I should. The result was this little merger underground.
I placed the washed fleece outside earlier in the week and forgot to bring it in at the end of the day. The next morning it was frozen solid with a nice frosty sheen. I let it thaw and finish drying. It is now safely back inside.
Right now we are just anticipating the evening's "wintry mix". We don't go to the store for bread and milk in a snowstorm panic but did go to the feed store yesterday. I doubt the chickens would be very pleased should we run out of their weekly ton of feed. We've also moved new round bales into all the pastures so that we don't have to try to get the tractor through muddy spots should we just end up with a nasty rain. Things are already well saturated here so, although rain is a blessing after all our years of drought, we are getting a little tired of living in mucking boots.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
During the day I let Griffin, our little black bunny, out of his cage to stretch his legs. Apparently Little Girl, our oldest cat who spends 23 or more hours a day asleep, felt like she had to try out this new space. She napped there the whole day until I gently lifted her out. I cradled her while tapping the bunny with my toe until he returned to his cage. She returns to Griffin's cage almost daily now and climbs in whenever it is unoccupied.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Before we know it, it will be time again to shear. I still have fleeces from last year's shearing that need to be processed so I tackled on yesterday.
I had actually just gone out to the stable with the intention of cleaning out the stall the puppies spend each night in. As I worked, I kept thinking of the fleeces stored just two stalls over. I drug one out and began to sort it. I always do a cursory skirting (tearing off the nastiest parts) on shearing day but I really began to pick through this one and before long I had a bucket full of pretty gray-brown-silver fleece to wash. I filled the kettle up in the house, added a little soapand gently shoved in the fleece. After a few more washes and a nice long rinse, it is now looking pretty good. I'll let it dry today and then decide what to do with it. Of course, that single bucketful barely made a dent in the whole fleece. I'll fetch in another bucketful when I gather eggs this morning.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Pavl is our white crested black Polish rooster who has had such a hard life. He tried to drown last summer. I saved him by digging him out of the mud at the edge of the pond. I only dug him out to give him a decent burial so was shocked to find him alive. After an hour of lots of washing and a hair dryer, he came around. He spent way too much time in the house on a heating pad but managed to survive. When we reintroduced him to the flock, some of the old hens decided his top feathers were irresistible. They yanked them out by the roots and I found him bleeding from his almost-bald head. He now lives in the stable with a few companions. He follows me around when I am out there dyeing wool and he loves to be held, at least by me. He has become a spoiled little fellow. That's why he is looking comfortable and dry on this rotten day.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Right now we have some ratty looking birds. They are all healthy, even though their looks would make you wonder. Our birds have been molting throughout the winter. They lose their feathers and regrow new ones. During the molt, egg production drops dramatically - their system is busy with other things. Even though the birds look just pitiful, they are active, eating well and just as busy as ever. And they will look lovely with a new coat of feathers shortly.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
It is a dreary, rainy day so processing a little fiber inside seems like a better plan than working outside. I've already made the rounds, checked the pregnant gals, gathered a few duck eggs and then decided to card some wool to spin. I'll make a few more quick trips outside to day to gat
her eggs and generally check on everyone but it seems a good day to spin.
I did manage to work at the compost pile a bit yesterday. It was such a beautiful day so I pulled a small load of manure out of the front pasture. The donkeys were so much help!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Rudy is not terribly active but he is also very old. Although we don't trust him as a guardian dog with the animals, he spends some time in the pastures. He's also figured out that the barnyard & the front yard are not bad places to be either. He'll pretty much wander through any gate we leave open for him. He's still a happy fellow whose passion is to carry around buckets. I guess after all those years of being our livestock guardian, he still feels a need to guard something. The bucket that he carried up on the porch of the stable had been used earlier in the day to carry egg shells out to the back. He rounded it up & carried it a good hundred steps. He was diligently keeping an eye on it when one of the new Anatolian pups showed up to say hello.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I was simply sorting through a bit of fleece to soak it. It is usually easier & less messy to sort outside as I like to pick the locks apart as I go through them. This time I had an audience. Fortunately, they did not follow me into the house where I finished washing the wool. Once it is dry I will pack it to use for an artist-in-residence program that I have coming up soon in an elementary school.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
These hens are spreading a nice organic fertilizer on the pastures. They're plugging away at a pile of cow manure. They were a little slow as it was frozen but by breaking it down into smaller bits on Saturday it was quickly washed into the soil that evening when the rains came.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The winter's eggs have been rather unusual. A lot have been smaller simply because the chickens we raised out last summer are beginning to lay so we're getting pullet eggs. We've also had a few extremely large eggs. The green egg is from an Araucana hen and is next to an extra large "normal" egg. It sure stands out! It did have a double yolk so must have just been a result of a bit of a backup in the egg production. And, no, it would not have been twins. Double-yolked eggs are basically never viable.
I've caught a few hens setting on duck eggs this week. The ducks just lay their eggs "wherever" so the hens come across them and become very protective of them. It is rare that I have to argue with a duck to get an egg -most don't stick around after laying- but those hens can be stinkers and love to peck. A few of the older gals will peck the skin on the back of my hand and then hold on and twist. They can be feisty gals.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I could spend the day watching the dogs. Amy, our oldest Anatolian, is tolerating the puppies nicely. She has never been a mother herself but has taken to the little ones slipping in and out of her pasture all day to visit. This is good since she is the one we are hoping will train the little girls to be good livestock guardian dogs. So far our biggest puppy problem is that Allez loves to chase chickens. I did take one out of her mouth yesterday. She had a Rhode Island Red by the tail feathers. I "helped" her release the hen and then rolled Allez on the ground and strongly scolded her. The puppies are developing a conscience, though. I can yell at them from the kitchen window if I see them beginning to follow a chicken and they will immediately put their tails between their legs and run to the front corner of the stable yard. This is just a puppy issue but certainly one we will have to stay on top of.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Everyone is staying warm with the coats of wool they've regrown since their spring shearing. They have plenty of hay, grain and water. But I can still draw a crowd by coming out to the barnyard with a stale loaf of bread. Within a matter of minutes I can have everyone gathered around including those that have squeezed under the fence and run in from the next pasture.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
This little fellow loves it when Alice, his mother, licks at him. She was not interested in fussing over him so he found an old board to scratch up against. He spent a good five minutes wiggling around next to and under the board. He was thoroughly scratched without all that mama slobber all over him when it was done.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
It has stayed cold enough that we felt sorry for Mollie and Amanda. They are two of the outside dogs who have been together for about 12 years or so. They usually sleep together in a dog house stuffed with wool for warmth but since the day was staying so cold, I felt sorry for the and brought them into the house. The only reason they were on the floor instead of the couches was that there were three of us in the room at the time the picture was taken. They only slip up on the furniture when left alone for a split second.
I have tried to get a few things done in the house. I was simply mesmerized the other day by the sun glinting off some wool I was spinning. I still have fleeces that need to be washed but since they will freeze rather than dry outside, that will have to wait.
Friday, January 8, 2010
This is Eve. She is our little Ossabaw Island donkey who came to us as a rescue years ago. She was about 15 years old when we got her and absolutely wild. In the eight or so years that we've had her, she's calmed down considerable. So much so that she can really be a nuisance. This is my view from the back of the wheelbarrow. I was trying to get through the gate with almost 150 pounds of kitchen scraps from the Hyatt. Eve was standing in the way of the gate opening and was quite content to stay. I finally had to let go of the wheelbarrow, squeeze myself through the gate and push her away so that I could swing the gate open and get on with my task. Of course, when I got to the next gate I had to convince the puppies to stay in their pasture and not to run under my tires. I did not need the distraction of a trip to the vet with a squashed puppy to make my task even longer.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
We do not use lighting on the chickens to increase their production through the winter but have carefully selected many breeds that do continue to lay even when the daylight hours are shorter. For that reason, we have eggs year round. And since we do not have Saturday Market throughout the winter, we can still serve our regular restaurant customers and have extra eggs. That is great for the dogs who enjoy their scrambled eggs each day. I've taken to feeding Rudy, our ancient Great Pyrennes, twice and sometimes even three times a day while it is so cold. I offer to let him in the house but he prefers to be curled up in the sun against a hay bale. I figure the least I can do is cook for the old fellow.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Al picked up the kitchen refuse from the Hyatt on his way home from work yesterday but didn't have a chance to dump it out until this morning which meant it froze in the night. The chickens had a big time today modeling this 75 pound block of noodles and cole slaw into a wonderful and perhaps artsy piece.
Elsie has been with us for about seven years now. She was found abandoned as an adolescent cat in the bushes at a local vet's office so ended up with us. She apparently suffered some sort of emotional trauma. She almost never leaves our bedroom. She is very content there and is welcoming of the other three house cats who visit her domain throughout the day but it is a rare sight to see her anywhere else in the house. She loves high places. She eats quietly and just minds her own business. She is a good kitty who often sleeps on my feet at night but who would rather not be touched during the day. Odd little gal but she needed a home.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
It remains quite cold. Last night I drained the hose I was finally able to use in the afternoon so that I didn't have quite as long of a trip to haul buckets of water to the chickens, sheep & goats. By early afternoon I was able again to use the hose to refill water troughs. But Micah, our Dexter bull, remained a happy fellow throughout it all. He has a spring-fed creek to drink from at the bottom of the hill, a new round bale of hay as well as sunshine & a Carolina blue sky.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Poor Ravi was trying to figure out how to drink this hunk of ice that I'd popped out of a water bucket. Most of today has been spent dumping ice out of troughs and filling them by carrying fresh water by the bucket full. I started out carrying water all the way from the house until the tap inside the stable thawed enough that I could use it. The auto-waterers that usually serve the troughs are frozen tight so I spent today being the auto-waterer.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
We've discovered that several bales scattered around the field are a good idea when the weather is cold & the cattle feel obliged to eat all day long. There is less competition and shoving at the hay bale and everyone has a better chance to eat well. Since most of our livestock are ruminants, feeding them extra hay is like throwing another log on the fire - their stomachs working help keep them warm.
We had a cold but sunny day so Gwen, one of the new Anatolian pups, decided to check out more of the farm. She visited with Regina, our Anatolian that we feared would be least receptive to the new babies. After a quick once-over on Regina's part, she was content with her visitor. That visit went off without incident. Gwen was a bit taken aback by one of the Dexter cows checking her out.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
We're in for a week of colder weather. This not-particularly-attractive picture is of some of the Norway Spruce needles from our Christmas tree. They were floating in the water that had accumulated in the wheelbarrow after last weeks rains. Now they are suspended in ice.
But at least the sun is shining - although everyone has plenty of shelter, they prefer to stand along the sunny sides of the barns, stables and sheds so that they can feel the heat of the sun radiating back off of the siding and onto them. The chickens are especially pleased to have tin siding on their house as it radiates like a little toaster oven!
Friday, January 1, 2010
Rabies, the tiger cat, is content to examine some washed wool. I really need to work on carding more of that over the next few days to get ready for my next school residency.
Daphne is curled up at the base of a round bale. Of course, the round bale would not have as much loose hay scattered around it if a few passing sheep, goats and one ornery little donkey didn't snack on it.