Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rosy Has Won a Place in the Line Up

Wondered if we would have another hen set before summer was over and yeah!!!!, we have. Here sits Rosy. She sat in a nest in the chicken coop for a day and a half being nearly crowded out by other hens when I had decided she was serious about setting, I put her into one of the rabbit cages. One I had put cardboard over the bottom when the Rhode Island Red had promised to lay but I've found she often does that then changes her mind.
I added eggs throughout the day until Rosy had eight. Got a gouge in my hand for the efforts but that just means she was serious about her work. We shall see what hatches as it was really hot when Rosy made her decision and the sperm count in a rooster goes down with the heat levels. None the less Rosy has earned a spot in next years line up. Especially since she has become friends with our four year old. As I milk our grand daughter sits at the opening of the milking shed and feeds a few select hens. One kernel for her and a few for the chickens, repeated until her tuna fish can of COB (corn, oats, and barley) is empty.
Earning a spot in next year's line up is very important as I have chosen a definite nine to go into the canning bottle and a possible two more. We have far too many chickens. Maybe I should have figured out exactly who goes and who stays earlier but large numbers of critters running around over stimulates my Autistic brain and it refuses to settle and think. So the plan is to get rid of a few and then I can re-evaluate how many new hens we will have and how many old hens. That is after I get the kids all ready and in school.
As for the white hen, our oldest grand daughter swears O crowed. I have never caught her. I would think by now I would have so my fingers are still crossed. I have grown rather fond of her and have decided O is too short so to me she shall be Ophelia. It is going to be a her, right?
 The new girls won't be laying for a while and will likely start in the winter if new pullets start in the winter. Do pullets start to lay that late into the year? Mine have started as late as early November but these girls are later than that. If they are not to start until later then I need to butcher later. Sometimes I feel so ignorant. How can we ever be self-sufficient with so much unknowns.
Rosy makes five hens to set this year. Three Easter Eggers and two black hens which I think are Austrolorps. So hard to tell the difference between Austrolorps and Asian Blues. Wish I had not gotten the Asian Blues as it is so confusing. Fifteen hens and one rooster is going to be my limit. I think. Who knows I might find out something that will change my mind.
I need to build a run and put in a vent into the coop but the chicken project is going well, just needs a bit of fine tuning.  Gone will be the Wyandottes. I thought I would never say that. Gone will be the Rhode Island Reds. Two in particular have really ticked me off. One, Henny Penney, that gets into fights with the cat and the other one that keeps promising that she will set but then changes her mind. They don't set and are smaller in size laying smaller eggs. They just aren't making the grade we have in mind for self-sufficiency.
Our goal is hens that have a good feed to size conversion getting large enough to make a good roaster in a hurry; hens that set and are good mammas; handle cold weather, and hens that lay large eggs. The Rhode Island Reds and Wyadottes failed to make a passing grade so goodbye they go. Not that they did not pass on some genetics as some of the replacement offspring will be from them and our Easter Egg rooster. O for instance is obviously from a Wyadotte hen but has grown very rapidly. Diversity in genetics can be a very good thing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Selling Our Nubians


We are going to make some fairly big changes around here. We have made a big decision. We are selling all our Nubians.
Lest you think we have lost our minds, wait.... We are going to go back to raising Saanens. We just have not been happy since we changed and find ourselves longing for the good old days. We raised them for twenty years. What we hoped to accomplish has not transpired. We wanted more cream and yes the Nubians do have a higher fat ratio but the milk production is far less. I'm not sure we won't get all the cream we need since the milk volume is so much greater. We need more milk with four grand daughters to feed and bums which become food. The girls are not happy on the far lower amount of milk on the table since the calves get almost all of it. And we are not happy since we are using far too much expensive milk replacer because of the lack of milk. Fewer calves would be smart but we need one beef and one milk cow for our plans for the future.
The personality of the Saanens is far more laid back and they are quiet. We have one kid Nubian that is driving us crazy. She will not shut up and has to go. Kirk keeps threatening to kill her but since she has not sold easily on the local facebook selling page, I am taking her to the livestock sales ring. Her quality is poor by our standards also. We got by great with just two to three Saanen does. Far better than we are now with three to four. That drops the cost and work load. 

 One of the biggies to buying Nubians was to have babies throughout the year so we could have milk more of the year. Not happened since we have not found the Nubian's breeding season is

any longer than our Saanens. Could have something to do with our weather. We do live where it is cold. We  have realized that we need a Swiss breed and Saanens are just that. Our tomatoes are Siberia, our milk cow will be Swiss, our beef is part Swiss, and our new goats will be Swiss. Notice a pattern?

Since at the moment we have no real strong attachments to any of our goats it is a good time to change. Because of the lack of funds and available goats we will hopefully make the changes beginning next spring. A doe and then the next year hopefully a buck and  another doe. I have visited with a friend whom we have bought from before and she has assured me she can fix us up.

We have been thinking long and hard about what we want. About what our benefits and limitations are because of where we live.  About what will best fit our needs especially now with the addition of four young children. For instance growing very much sweet corn is not going to happen. Just too cool. Tried the really short kind this year and we will get our first crop in three years.  Two ears per stalk and the energy is being put into the corn is my kind of win, win. Mind you that this is still not anything huge but at least it is some fresh corn. Just not worth the effort and space to try and grow enough corn to freeze for winter so we will not. I have found corn is not real friendly to my digestive system though I love the taste so another good reason to cut back. With some experimenting this last winter we found a frozen kind that the kids like and comes in 20 pound bulk packaging. The decision is that we just won't eat as much corn. Yes, change is on the way.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love Peas!!


Got to love August despite the hot temperatures because the food is so...... good!!

People tell me that they do not grow peas because they take up so much space for so little produce.
My pea patch is a slight bit larger than my green bean patch and I do not get as many peas to freeze as I do green beans to can but the flavor is out of this world. How could we not grow peas? We gorge on them as they are a one month of a year treat. No trouble getting the girls to help shell peas as they eat and eat and eat. The other night our oldest grand daughter ate so many when we were picking that she was too full to eat supper. I use to ration my kids so I would have some to freeze for winter. I don't say that to the grand kids. I have a huge garden since we have more land and I now say eat up, August comes but once a year. Enjoy it!!  

Now you know what my days have consisted of. Feed children, feed stock, and put food away for winter. You can see the level of canning and freezing I'm doing. Now I have had to include get ready  for school. It starts next week and I have a pile of pants to hem. We are blessed with a number of hand me downs as our oldest daughter, their aunt, has purged her closets and helped out greatly with the older two grand kids. That gives me a few new pants and a lot of hand me down pants to hem.The younger three children have short legs. Not many new clothes but we are blessed to have grand kids who are grateful for the clothes they have and know that new ones will slowly trickle in as needed and finances allow.
It will take a lot of food to feed four children this winter. Our sweet grandkids just keep eating more and more. Every time they come home from either of their parents they say, "I missed the food!" It may have only been 24 hours but they dig into the home-made bread and such like it had been a month. What a job just keeping the livestock and them fed.

If it seems pretty quiet from the home front blog wise, know that I am buried under with work. I'm also not feeling well. Just have not recovered from the family reunion. The stress and work load after has been great and if my body gets run down it does not come back for a very long time. It is the adrenals that just won't recover nicely. Hence, I got the stomach flu the last few days and man did it settle in hard. Too sick to hardly get out of bed. Well, actually I did that frequently as the bathroom became my second home.

Had to milk of course as hubby's hands are hurting him. Thought I was quite a bit better today and a good thing since hubby was at work and I was in charge of the kids and stock. Wrong!! You know when you need to take your vitals when your oldest grand daughter comes up to you while you are doing dishes and says, "Grandma, your lips are really purple! Are you alright?" It caused me to slowed down and quit thinking of all I needed to do and realize,  "I really don't feel well!" I try to block out how I feel as it is usually really, really, tired. I just keep my head down and plunge  forward through all the work but once in a while I am pulled up short. 
I don't have an oxygen meter but a glance at my dismal blood pressure and temperature and I knew I had to get back into bed for the afternoon.

Would have liked to do meal planning but knew it was flat out or I could land myself in the hospital. Read the oldest grand daughter's book she had gotten from the library. The grand kids love it when I read the books they read just like my kids did. It helps me to know them better and they feel more connected to me as we discuss the book. Besides this one was a really good book and I thoroughly enjoyed my down time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

With a Cherry On Top

Photo is of the cherries before fully ripe.
A good lesson learned. Last year I did not water my cherry trees enough and the cherries were small and not in great abundance. This year I watered heavily. The only thing getting watered heavily in this severe drought is the fruit trees and the garden. Though the garden is still dry due to wind and high temperatures. I just can't stay ahead especially since we have been running around a great deal picking up parts to work on remodeling the house.
One cherry tree died last winter. Don't know why. It could have been the warm winter and the sap in it could have run at the wrong time when a colder spell hit. Who knows but shoots are coming up in abundance from the roots. My research does not indicate that cherry trees are grafted like apple trees. Anyone know that for certain. Cherry trees and I have no history. Okay, maybe we do. I tried growing some in the last place we lived and they all died. Pretty hard to get things to grow there.
We had one apple tree die here also though it was nearly dead when we moved in. We had one in the property we previously lived in also. They both came back up from the roots and the base tree is a crab apple. That is okay as you should have one crab apple with your apple trees I've read for blooms every year to help with the pollination of your apple trees. The cherry tree shoots I'll just let grow and we shall see what we get. I'll let them grow until early next spring when I decided on one main shoot for my new tree. We still have winter weather in the spring so the sap won't be running yet. The hardiest shoot gets picked.
My Nanking cherry starts I put in last year are growing slowly though they have been fertilized a couple times already this year. Not sure what is up there but I will put in some horse manure from the neighbors this fall after we haul our hay for the same trailer is used for both. Hopefully that will help.
Being a newbee to growing cherries, I did a slight bit of research. I did an Oops, I picked the first bucket of cherries too soon. They were a bit small but I juiced them and now have a half gallon of juice to make pancake syrup with. I put the jar in the freezer to tend to later when the weather cools. Right now beans and other crops are demanding my attention.
From my research I learned that sweet cherries bloom earlier than tart. Not a problem since we can't grow sweet ones up here as far as I know. Anyway I don't have one.  Cherries will not ripen once removed from the tree. Good to know and I did notice that with the bucket of them in the fridge. Most of the cherries came ripe all at once. Not sure if that will always happen but it was nice to do one big picking. Research said otherwise but I suppose the weather fiddles with that. My one problem was as I was busy picking the cherries from the upper branches and the little grand kids from the bottom, I failed to notice our four year old  meticulously snipping off the stems  down to the base of the cherry. I can't believe how many she got done. Oh what fun that was trying to pull the teeny tiny stems from the cherries when I prepared to freeze them. NOT!! 
We used scissors to harvest so as not to disturb the woody fruit spur, which continues to produce fruit each year. Not sure exactly what that part looks like so I figured leaving on some cherry stem would be smart. Second bit of advice I read said to leave the stem on if you were not going to be using the cherries right away as it helps keep the cherries fresher. Good to know and I am sure that is why they are like that in the stores.
Not sure how large the cherry trees will become. I think mine are  a dwarf kind. I hope so as it makes for easier picking and less watering. We had some cherries last year so I'm guessing you get cherries every year just some years the cherries come in  greater abundance.
If you have cherry tree advice send it my way. So many things to learn in this new location.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hesston Should Make It

He is going to make it. Hesston might look rough but his scours are stopped and he is eating poop. Yes, that is a good sign. For some reason all animals I know of, including rabbits, need to eat a little poop from a healthy animal to get the right kind of bacteria in the rumen. No more tubing food into his stomach. No more stressing out. No more buying expensive medicines. Oh the things I have learned about scours. I had one calf that I lost years ago. I think I might have saved him had I known what I have learned with Hesston. That is how it is with vets, doctors, and animal husbandry apprentices like me. There is no better teacher than experience.

You can see how sick he was. Notice the clump of hair missing. This is one of many and his tail is 3/4 bare. Loss of hair like this in large clumps usually means the animal had a high fever. Sheep loose large clumps of wool. Now to put weight on Hesston. He is not an aggressive calf which means it can take five minutes to encourage him to eat. After he gets sucking, he will empty the large bottle but getting him to start is tough.  

Eli here downs everything. She is a handful to try and keep from taking away Hesston's bottle even though she is getting more than him.  Next time I get a dairy for meat it won't be Holstein. It will be Normande or Brown Swiss or a cross. I am impressed with this little girl. She is quite stout and has grown fast, one of the traits of the breed.

This was written a few days ago and Hesston is back on medicine - day 3 of it. Scours a bit again but he is eating much more aggressively now and I would guess we just did not quite kick the bug out the door. He is brighter eyed and bucking and kicking around.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Milk Pads to Start Plants

What is it? It is a milk pad though a coffee strainer thingy, (I don't drink coffee.) would probably do just as well. I have this problem when I water my lettuce and such in the pots under the grow light. They wash to the side leaving large bare spots. Or they wash to the surface and then dry out and die.  
Can't remember what inspired the thought, no surprise since my memory is a atrocious.

I water over the pads and it slows the water keeping it from washing things out and spreads the disbursement. It also keeps the surface of the dirt moist longer. I don't use plastic over my pots. It is a eco thing of mine. Plastic takes too long to break down in the landfills so I try and avoid the highly disposable kind.
For the larger seeds it is no problem to do without the pads but for spinach, leafy lettuces, and herbs this works like a charm. I have quite a few new pots started for fall harvest in the sunroom. When the seeds sprout they push up the pad and I remove it. When I am through using the pads, I will wash them and put them aside for the next round of seeds. This is a must repeat idea.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Flower Garden

I am so enjoying my beans this year. They are my flower garden. There are quite a few varieties that I am trying. Not sure it is a fair trial though. There is a huge difference in the garden between where I've gardened before and new or newer ground. The old ground I have worked hard on improving and it really shows it. The previous owners of the place had completely depleted the soil. On the new ground the plants are not doing well but decidedly not as well as the area with the most amount of mulch added last winter (the old garden).
These curled leafed beans are on the newer ground but not newest ground. Every single time I plant beans, potatoes, and tomatoes on  new ground at this location the leaves curl and they look a bit sickly.

The next year all is well ---strange don't you think? This is beans grown where beans were grown before. Why would I do that? I am saying I put in a LOT of beans and that meant I needed LOTS of area. That also means I cut down drastically on the amount of corn I'm growing. It just has not done well. I'm trying a new variety grown in a new way. Just a small patch. But back to the beans. Most are dried bean varieties that I put in. This will be my third year of experimentation here and I will narrow the varieties wa.....y down next year. Next year I have a few fresh bean varieties I want to try. Nothing I have not grown before just a couple kinds I have not grown here. One is my grandpa's wax bean and the other a purple bean. There will be only small patches of those since we can only eat so many fresh beans.
Most of the bean flowers are white.
Contender beans have a purple flower.
This new variety bean variety belongs in a flower garden. Sorry can't remember this kind. I will have to look it up. I think it is a bean you can after the bean swells in the pod but before it dries. I put one of those in. Like I said I have a number of varieties I'm trying. Aren't the flowers gorgeous and there are in a huge profusion of them. These beans have me really excited to try. I hope there are beans for all those flowers.
Beans are simply beans I have discovered through researching. I was frustrated that the weather here often does not allow beans to dry in the garden so I spent hours studying trying to decided what I should grow. I consulted a gentlemen at Johnny's Seed company. He could not help me much. But just when I thought I would give up I discovered that varieties of beans simply stand out in one category or another. Fresh beans simply taste best when eaten fresh. They have a better texture and flavor. I would agree as my Contenders are the best thing I have ever canned and the best eaten fresh, and the best for growing where I live. They just lack the flavor I'm after in a dried bean.They can be used in a four bean soup of something though so they are not ruled out as a dried bean.
Dried beans have the best flavor dried. They also don't require canning but can be canned in the swollen pod stage. That really had me excited since it might mean I won't completely have wasted my time growing them some years when frost comes early. Theory and reality may say different, we shall see. Last summer we had a frost about the 23 of August killing most of the garden. That was rare but the beginning of September is not unusual so dried beans are a iffy project anyway.  
As for these scarlet flowered beans I think they are the ones best when just swollen in the pod and canned or eaten at this stage.  A stage that does not bode well for fresh beans. There you have it. After experimenting a little in our former home location and now here I think I am about done. About done experimenting. I will keep growing my favorites and save the best ones for growing the next year thereby using Mother Natures survival of the fittest to change the variety to best suit our climate.  
It is time to give the ground space up to an experiment with another crop. Not that I am not experimenting a little already. For instance I am trying white beets. Red beets have failed three times here. I need to adjust the soil more. The white beets are doing quite well and have needed very little attention. They are even in the newest section of the garden. Impressive so far. I'm anxious to taste them.
The new tomato variety is not impressing me. The plants have lots and lots of blossoms but few tomatoes. They say they are for the far north but nothing has out produced my Siberia tomatoes. I am about to give up trying anything new there as far as tomatoes go.
Now you have seen a bit of my flower garden.