Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Time of Year Did You Say It Was?

 Sorry for yesterday but my computer was having fits and it took me all day and a couple phone calls to our repair man to get it up and running again. I'm not complaining because I didn't have to make the long, long trip to his store.

What I was aching all day yesterday to write to you about and show you was the continual confusion over what time of the year it is. Look how much snow there is, wow. This is the Big Horn Mountains on Friday. Excuse the slightly blurry picture but I was taking it as I drove. I know, I know, I should have stopped but there weren't very many places to do so because of all the snow so I just rolled down the window and held my hand out to the side as I watched the road and snapped away, hoping one of the pictures was decent.
When I was coming off the mountain on the other side, I stopped very briefly to snap another picture of the creek. I thought for sure it would be boiling from large volumes of water rushing downward, nope. It hasn't bee warm enough to melt snow. This morning there was ice on our car's windshield. It's what day? I think mother nature is confused. But when she does figure out what time of year it is some better be ready. I see there were sand bags beginning to pile up by the houses at the base of the mountain near the creek. They know what's coming and it won't be pretty.
Even the deer at the base of the mountain in the lush pastures are still in their winter coats. I'm not sure I'd shed my either if I were them. We are still often in the thirties at night and it is probably even colder this close to the mountain.  
When I took my favorite cut-a-cross through ranch country, I stopped briefly to take a picture of No Wood. Don't know if No Wood is a creek or river. It's rather confusing here since a creek can be small enough to jump across or fairly good sized and that isn't very big by most's standards but the same size as some of our rivers. Don't know how we categorize the two here in Wyoming. I looked up the difference once and it said it was a local decision. That was a lot of help but that was a world wide site, maybe Wyoming has posted their rules. I'll just have take a peek.  
Disturbing was the two dead snakes I saw this past weekend. Ever since I came within six inches of being bit from a coiled rattler two Augusts ago, snakes give me the heeby geebies. I don't think they are on the move in this county yet but over the mountain they are quite a bit ahead of us  and have a much longer summer. I can't say I felt sad to see this one dead on the road. The other was under a blooming lilac bush at the Basin ccemetery. Their lilacs and fruit trees are in bloom. My lilac is still trying to get her leaves and my apple blossoms are too cold to peek their heads out, and only my hardy plum's blossoms have started to open. 

My three sibling, and my oldest sister's husband, my mom and step-dad, and my father, all met in Greybull to visit and clean up graves in preparation for Memorial Day on Monday.

 This is my dad on the right and my brother on the left. My brother and I look quite a bit alike. Including our husky legs. My dad measured his and mine when we were in sports in high school. Yeah, I won't tell you how closely they compared. Let's just say I have calves that ranchers love. (hint big ones) My sister's and I spent  a couple days at mom's visiting and visiting. You know how it is and my grand daughters were envious. You see they call my sisters the Aunt Grandmas because they may be their Aunts but they act more like Grandma and they love being with them. Too bad they live so far away in Utah.  
Though the other two cemeteries are beautiful. This one is by far my favorite. There is something about being very very small and out away from town, in the middle of farm and ranch country, with a view of the mountains, that strikes a warm cord in my soul. Most of the relative in this cemetery have had handcrafted coffins of beautiful woods without all the lead lining and paraphernalia. I like that, simple. As I reflect on the day, it wasn't the putting of flowers on the graves that meant anything to me but the scraping with the shovel to clear the over run grass, the cleaning of the stones, and the general sprucing up of the area that spoke of respect for our family who's physical remains rest below. It was a nice time to reflect and remember them.
On the way home Sunday evening, this is what met me on the mountain. It was snowing to beat the band. Wasn't so bad driving through several inches of snow but three-fourths of the way over, I entered a partially cleared area where the snow plow had just gone. It left a bit of slush and road as slick as well, we say snot. Though I drove really slow, between 20 and 30 mph, I still fish tailed mildly a couple times, rather disconcerting coming off a mountain. I guess I was lucky that I went over Sunday evening for a young couple I know said they came back over Sunday morning with twelve new inches of snow capping the fence posts and deep snow on the road. They said it was scary harry traveling.

Oh when, oh when, will spring really be here? I'm anxious for some warm weather and to quit sloshing in ankle deep muck in my mare's corral and many other areas around it. But warmth on my back will surely mean water in basements and houses as the mountains quickly shed their white coats and rivers and creeks over flow their banks. There are benefits of living in a rather dry county as their won't be much flooding here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spring always brings so much to do. Unfortunately Holly's computer is experiencing difficulties and is down for a bit of its own Spring cleaning. She should be back shortly.
Toni (Holly's daughter)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Injured and Goat Plans

This little sweetheart needs a name. Do you have one to submit for consideration?

She may have a new owner. A gal asked for a doeling before she was born and before she was born I vowed I'd part with her. Not an easy thing to do since she is from my favorite doe and is such a beauty but you can't keep them all and I'm going to have to get better at that - letting go.  Her right knee was really swollen yesterday but the swelling is almost gone today.
She still really favors her knee and that makes her top line look rather hunched but you can still see how pretty her shoulders are and she looks like her escucheon will be up nice and tight when it forms. Her mama has a very pretty udder and I've high hopes for its further development. This little doeling's line on her papa's side scored in the nineties for linear appraisal and her pappa's side and her mama's line has lots of stars in milking plus is no slouch either in conformation, I just don't have the numbers.  Though she screamed her head off for the two hours after her birth, I've not heard a peep out of her since. I hope she ends up just like her mama, quiet and sweet.    
 Our youngest grand daughter had to see the goats this morning and her kitties since she had to sit in the pickup as I did chores yesterday for it was raining and really muddy.

Today isn't much better with a cold wind blowing but after two tumbles in the mud, a visit with this new doeling, and some cuddles with the kittens, she was ready to just sit in the truck once more while I did chores.   Note the difference in the markings on these two. I like the dark ears.  

 This is the kitten that Jasmine tried to anilate yesterday and you can see it favors it's back right leg.
We had to track down the kittens as they were tucked away in the neighbor's feed shed. I just hope these kittens live. This one looks as if it has been injured too somehow and one black kitten is missing. Hm.. is that a boy I'm looking at? Perfect shot but I need to zoom in a little. 
This is the shed belonging to a fellow Nubian breeder and owner of the buck my does are bred to. We had a long conversation this week about herd goals for the next two years. She admits that her emotions too often interfer with her overall desire to increase the level of quality of animals she raises. She loves long ears, (not frosted), and dark, fairly solid colored coats. We laugh that she has to take me next time she picks out goats to buy for her turn around in does is high and her frustration level great at times for easy milkers don't often come her way. I find it is best to raise them.

She has MS which limits her abilities and it was this factor that in part prompted me to initiate the conversation on what my goals were for my goats and helped her to uncloud her own. I understand some her limitations with her health and also that the goats are good therapy. I've limitations of my own that have prompted some deep thinking about my own needs, desires, and limitations. It helped me to come up with this list.

1. How many does  can we comfortably milk each day? Maybe I should rephrase that. How many does can I comfortably milk each day because Kirk isn't going to be milking except on rare occasions.

2. How much milk can we use without it being wasted?
We can't afford to just feed goats that aren't producing milk so that means either the milk  gets drank, made into cheese etc. with a little waste going into the garden for fertilizer or we have bums or pigs.  Feed costs are too high to make bums economical right now in our situation but we might get another yak in the form of a bum next year to raise for meat or to add to our breeding program. First we have to explore how well the two we have are working for us. The yak would have to be a bum that we added because we need to gentle it for handling purposes. We don't have large equipment like squeeze chutes.

The answer to the above question changes a bit each year as my health is a factor, time, and our finances. This year the answer is one three year old milking doe, one yearling milking doe, and two kids to keep.

4. How many new milkers do we want to have to fuss with to teach milking manners? You know, the same conversation you have with the same doe for two to three months.
"Now get on the milking stand the same way you did yesterday." "How did you do that", you ask? "Without my help would be best."
"No, don't squat or squeeze your legs together. I can't get the bucket under you."
"Young lady, jumping up and down wasn't cool yesterday and it isn't cool today either."
"Now behave." Sound familiar?

Yes, two new milkers would be my limit only if I have one or two already trained to go and jump on the milk stand when I ask and stand perfectly still to be milked to give me a reminder of how it will one day be.

5.What would I rate in order of importance, milk production, structural body conformation or personality. I include in personality - ease of milking - plays well with others ( in other words doesn't beat the tar out of the other does and their kids), good mother, quiet, laid back. And just for you Michelle - ear length, and color?

For me it is milk production, then personality, and conformation last. Surprise you? Well, milk production is the why we have the goats in the first place and personality next because we have to deal with an individual 365 days a year and milk her eight to nine months of the year, twice a day. If she's a pain, then I've a miserable time twice a day. It isn't worth it no matter how pretty she is for she will pass on this horrible personality to her offspring and as fast as goats multiply, I'll soon be thinking I'm living in Hell.

6. What conformation style do we want stocky or dairy and what do we want to improve most in our animals?

I like the dairy look, not the stocky style because if I want stocky, I'd buy Boer goats. As for improvement, I'd like a slightly higher and wider escutcheon and more angle in the back legs.

6. How do we plan on meeting our breeding goals? Do we need to AI or buy a buck to meet these goals?

We are thinking of using the Kastamir buck again on Contessa and Chicory and AI (artificial insemination) on Cheyenne and Florence because we would have a larger selection to choose from and high quality choices. The biggest plus being, no buck to smell, feed, house, and clean up after. Now this is said without checking yet on how the statistics of a doe taking with AI methods. We have the tank so it is the rest of the equipment we need and I've no idea what we need and what the cost is. 

6. How many goats can I keep up with trimming hooves, worming and cleaning their sheds and pens, not to mention hauling hay for and grain? 

7. Most importantly, how many can I afford, considering their total cost of purchase if I'm buying and upkeep?

8. How soon do I want to meet my goals? Which means should I and can I buy the quality I want right off the bat or do I need to breed upwards to reach that goal? I bought the best we could afford and I need to breed upwards but my core herd is still pretty nice to start with. 

9. Probably the most important question of all.  Do I mainly have goats for pets or to raise quality Dairy Goats for production and sale?

As I've thought long and hard upon these questions it has made me realize there are does that I love that I will have to part with eventually. We had to do this when we raised 4-H and FFA sheep. It isn't easy and so this is probably the toughest decision of whether or not you can say goodbye. We didn't do so for years keeping our does for years and we were blessed that some slap in our face necessary reason always came up that helped us make the decision to say goodbye. The last reason we said goodbye was our two older Saanens would not settle when bred despite nutrition changes tried.

So if you, like us, are thinking you want to become serious about raising dairy goats and don't have all the money in the world. First think long and hard asking yourself these questions and others that these spur. Raising goats for sale isn't necessarily easy when you are dealing with such wonderful personalities and  you want to keep almost all of them.

 If you want having a pet that produces milk is your goal, then that's fine too. Just make a decision one way or another. You can mix the two a little but in the end you've got to get off the fence whether you've got to sell some of your pet goat's babies because there are too many or you have to sell because the parents aren't the quality that the offspring are. In the end, we all have to part with the ones we love.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Yowling Kitten is Irritating but Seriously Jasmine

 They told me that yaks were dog killers, as a rule they hate them, but cats? Someone told me that yaks circle like musk ox, after all they are cousins, and place their young in the middle and heaven help whom ever interferes. Yaks can be formidable characters. With a hump like a musk ox and a bison, another cousin, they have a tremendous amount of power in their heads for snow removal in order to get to the grass under the deep drifts and they aren't afraid to use that power to rid themselves of annoyances or danger.

Yes, I'm off track but please be patient and I'll back up and tell the story. I went to do chores last night, quickies, for I usually do the bulk of the work in the morning. Before that I'd been working in the garden watching as dark luminous storm clouds rolled in. Even though it has rained and rained for a week. I was able to do a bit of planting in the garden become there is a tremendous amount of humus in the soil which dries quickly after a couple days of high winds.

I thought I'd better get to the corrals before the down pour hit and lightening was overhead. What I found there was Jasmine outside of her pen. I learned, she'd pushed on the cow panel fence to get to a juicy bit of grass, as it was bowed out a bit, and it popped open. Off she went in search of  greener pastures. It was a disconcerting sight for this was the yak we'd not made good friends with. In fact, she's shown mild aggression towards us. Some may not notice it but we have and that slight shake of her head at us means trouble ahead if we don't fix it.

To entice her back inside, I went and got a bucket and put a little grain in it.
It is not this kitten that is in the story. This is it's sibling. There were four kittens dropped off by an uncaring owner. One is already dead and though we feed the other three, I'd be surprised if they live either. Our youngest grand daughter hauls them everywhere and that isn't why but the tom cats, raccoons, badgers, and other such critters not to mention passing vehicles. The kittens arrived friendly and it just burns my butt to think how cruel people can be. Out of sight out of mind I guess but these little ones are too small to defend themselves or hunt. Few kittens make it that have moms, let alone not. They have a better chance at a animal shelter. The kid goats in the photo are Chicory's triplets.

In doing so, I checked on the newest arrival, the little doeling that had been struggling, not wanting to nurse. She had looked much, much better that morning after the day before when I force fed her several times. I'd ended up not getting a chance to check on her in the middle of the day and I was anxious to see how she'd fared.

I found her laying curled in the corner, not volunteering to get up when I approached so I lifted her and set her on her feet. She limped forward as she rearranged her legs in order to hold the right front one up. It was obvious she'd been pretty battered but I consoled myself with, at least her tummy was nice and full. Sometimes it is one step forward and another backwards in a different direction. Raising stock can be really frustrating at times. 

Even though I know does often butt another's babies, I was ticked. I prefer those that don't and I knew just who the culprit was. This wasn't the first time either as I had found this same little doeling limping on her back leg several days before but just figured that she'd caught it somehow or hurt it playing. We once had a kid goat with broken ribs over just such a deal, a mom supposedly protecting her young from another's kid. I needed to deal with this right away before matters got worse and it usually does. 
But first I had a yak to deal with. Before I tell you how horrible she was, I want you to look deep into these sweet little eyes. Does this look like a cat killer? Well, I'm not sure she is. But there I go again rattling on. Holly, just tell the story. 

 I walked off from the goat shed around the hay shed and headed in Jasmine's direction to undo the fence to let her in and a small gray motherless kitten was trailing along behind me in wet grass and mud, howling for all he or is it a she, I can't remember though I did check once, was worth wanting me to pick it up and cuddle with it. I ignored it as it's always yowling for attention and I felt more pressed to get Jasmine inside her pen and chores done before nightfall and the pressing storm. After all, I still had the kid goat mess to deal with.

When I approached Jasmine, her head whipped up from placidly grazing and after a moment of listening to the horrendous commotion heading her way, tore out after the tiny gray kitten, her head down thrusting it forward at the kitten like a battering ram, grunting in rage. You could almost see her eyes turn red and smoke roll out of her nostrils, so furious was she. Gracie, meanwhile, just stood placidly watching the show. A curious onlooker.

When Jasmine couldn't demolished the kitten with her head, because it was too small, she tried to stomp it into oblivion. Luckily by this time the kitten had been scooted near the manure spreader and it limped under.

Where was I? Staying out of the way. There is a time to step in and a time to get out of the way. I've not yet established clearly who's the boss. Yaks are a bit touchy and hold grudges I hear so it has to be done with great care.  So instead of saving the kitten, I hurried as fast as I could to undo the fence. After I'd pulled it aside, I walked in by Gracie and called to Jasmine shaking the bucket making the grain rattle, hoping she'd quit trying to get at the kitten under the spreader and come inside. When she perked her head in my direction and still fuming, walked into the pen. I prayed I wasn't going to be next on her hit list.

She didn't want anything to do with the grain I'd dumped on the wet ground and walked past me and began single handedly forming her own game trail as she agitatedly walked back and forth still agitated. Whew!! I knew I had to hold my ground as she entered or she would think she'd driven me off and I'd fall lower on her totem pole but it wasn't easy watching her trudge toward me with such a mad look on her face.

Quickly, I fastened the cow panel to the steal fence post and began walking the enclosure's perimeter to find out where she had gotten out. Holding up its back leg and limping along, the kitten crawled out from under the manure spreader and followed along after me, yowling but not quite so loud and insistent.

My first thought was that Jasmine would surely attempt to tear down the fence and take after the kitten once more. Where could I put the kitten that it couldn't get out of and trail after me once more. As my mind raced testing through ideas, Jasmine hurried to the fence irritated but not furious. The miniature idiot behind me, stood its ground, hunched up its back with gray fur sticking out in every direction, and hissed as insistently as it has once yowled.

Jasmine's face changed, she looked down in fascination, all anger gone, and watched this loony tune, no taller than a pint sized jar, defying her. It was David and Goliath all over again and since the kitten was still alive, God surely must have been on its side or it would surely have been dead. I continued on around the fence fastening another wire around each post to make the fence more secure from grass searching muzzles.

As for the goats, I had to shift everyone around, putting Chicory and her kids in the far, unused pen, clean and bed the shed as the thunderstorm rolled every closer. Katarina, the little witch, I put in the pen Chicory exited, cleaned and re-bedded the shed. And Contessa, I left where she was. It is the warmest and nicest enclosure. Her kid being the youngest. I watered everyone, grained the goats and fed a little hay, then gathered eggs and was blessed to be home before the down pour hit.

I've sung "rain, rain, go away, come again another day", but to no avail, it just keeps on raining. Really, I mustn't complain because around us the rivers are over flowing and flooding homes and taking out bridges. I guess that is one blessing for having so little running water in our county.

When you kneel at night to pray, there are so many souls to include with the floods and tornadoes, one really needs to stop and count their blessings. And though it was a trying evening, in perspective, it was really nothing but an short irritation for all was well once more.

Monday, May 23, 2011

She''s Here BUT...

Contessa finally kidded Friday night and she had a doeling. See... positive thinking works. If it were to be a doe out of either of my two yearlings, I'm glad it was from Contessa. She's prettier and has a awesome personality.
This doeling is a beautiful thing and looks much like her cousins. She has fewer brown marking than the others and if she has her mama's personality, she'll be worth a fortune. Her mother, Contessa, is one year of age and hasn't been handle a whole lot. She let me trim her hooves last week and just stood there, no milk stand or lead rope to confine her. She will also let me milk her doing the same thing. As I'm forcing milk down her kid's throat, she's licking her offspring. What a sweet gentle soul she is. This little one nurses a little but not much interest and is very thin. Hence, why I started forcing feed down her today.  Her mamma offers lunch and the doeling will put the teat in her mouth, take a few sucks and quit. 

Anne said to look for navel infection though I did treat it at birth with iodine. I seem to remember it being a little bit swollen today but then it could have been the buck kid born Sunday as I was playing with both of them today. If it is his, he hasn't slowed down any. 

Hmm... I'm wondering. It has rained and rained and rained and it is raining again this evening. I've cleaned this shed two times since Friday putting new bedding down each time. The floor is a rubber mat and there is only two does and two kids in it but who knows. 
I like the way this little doeling is trimmed. She is really eye catching.  I guess I'll not only go again tonight to force feed this doeling but  I'll give her a little penicillin and squirt the navel and feet again. I think I'll add a few vitamins to the milk also. I'd really hate to loose this little one especially since a gal asked for a doeling two months ago. This was to be it.

I want to keep Cheyenne and Florence. Contessa will stay but her sister Katarina will go. You just can't keep everybody.  Next year, it is really going to be tough to decide. Four milking does is far more than we need, especially heavy milkers.

If anyone wants a good milking doe, Katarina will be a really nice doe. She just stood there on the milk stand and let me milk her when I bottle fed her buck a couple times to get him a good start. At first she wasn't sure about him nursing and so I bottled to get a good dose down. The third and fourth times, I let the buck kid suckle as she was on the stand and off they went together. No problems since. He is stocky, fat, and healthy. No squatting, no kicking, nothing from Katarina. That was the first time I'd milked her. She had not even had her udder handled. I haven't done it since but in a couple weeks, I'll start training her. She will eat out of your hand and I've a lead rope attached to her collar to help me get a hold of her and tame her more quickly. She will be well trained before I let her go. She comes from major milking lines. 

P.S. Update, I just got back and no it is not the doeling that has the swelling and the buck well his has only a slight one and that is because he piddles from that spot. So embilical cord infection isn't it. No shot as she looked a bit better and was more spry. I did force a little more milk down her. We'll see in the morning how she is.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm Drowning

I'm drowning, drowning in the work that comes all in a rush during springtime and literally drowning too. Okay, I lied. I'm not really literally drowning. I just feel like it, for we live in an area where 10 inches of rain is a good year and we've had several inches in the last few days. Our cussed clay soil tries to hoard every drop and instead of percolating downward, like a good coffee maker,  and sharing, it stays near the surface drowning thousands of invaluable souls. 

Rather than suffocate, they are commiting Harry Carrie by the thousands on the sidewalks and pavement all over town. I keep saying enough already, we need some sunshine too. I know, I know, we recieve most of our moisture in the spring and early summer and spreading it out just doesn't happen but does it have to send thousand and thousands to their death? 
Our youngest grand daughter has organized the - Save The Worm Foundation - with herself as President and me as the rescue squad - even though her recruit can't bend quite like she use to and she looks more like a giraffe trying to reach down for a sip of water, than a graceful gazelle but hey, volunteers come cheap. You take whom you can get.

You may not think we are making much of a difference, but to those few worms we save, we are. I admit, I'm partial to saving the worms on my driveway and curb. Self serving I know, but these wiggly little creatures do me so much good I think I should put them first.

Besides the garden, we need lots for the end of our grand kids fishing hooks. Just don't tell the worms. The grand kids loose them quicker than I loose flies off my fly rod.

If you've wondered about the silence well, I've been digging ditches.  A narrow one all around the house trying to re-route water from the down spouts. They've been insisting on shooting it along the house's foundation and it creeps into the window wells and basement. We aren't yet to the re-landscaping portion of our renovations but the pregnant clouds couldn't wait. I begged them to cross their legs. Alas, their water broke and not only have I been soaked chauffeuring kids back and forth to school and trying to keep our basement dry, I'm also draining small ponds in our corrals in an attempt to keep the sheds dry. 

If I'm not digging ditches I'm learning to use my microwave/convection oven. The one we bought four years ago and has only been used as a microwave.

Some small soul, I won't name names but she is the middle child, pushed buttons and pulled the lock handle on the oven. Now the appliance swears the oven door is locked but it isn't. I proved it to her, (You did know it was a she didn't you? She's related to Betty Crocker, a distant cousin.) and moved the lock handle back and forth but she refuses to bake. I've talked nicely while pressing buttons and I've even shouted but to no avail. Next I'm going to make her clean her oven and see if that doesn't work, if I can find the dang blasted instructions on how to do so. Okay, I admit, I don't clean my oven very often. My excuse is that she is in use most of the time. If not, then I'm thinking of using her.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cornish Cross (The Way to Go)

Sex-link chicks
I tried Barred Rock and Buff Orpingtons last year because I hadn't learned my lesson the first time. That being years ago. Maybe I have a poor memory but somehow I thought if I went down the same road only with slightly different companions, I'd get a different result. Nope, dual purpose breeds cost me more as they didn't produce as many eggs other breeds and the meat took a long time to put on their forever scrawny frames.

It isn't as if I hadn't learned the same lesson with sheep.  There might be some breeds touted as dual purpose breeds but they are simply sheep that don't produce a wool worthy of my spinning wheel or meat I'd bother to take the time to process myself. Not a second time that is for yes, I've tried it. Sheep in particular have a poor meat to waste ( bone, guts, skin, etc.) percentage in comparison to pigs or beef making it a bit of a luxury to eat. 

 Let's face it. In this economy, and that to come, we not only will need to be more self-sufficient, we'll need to guard our money more closely to get more for our buck.

It was where I was trying to head last year but got lost. I wanted to breed my own chickens for meat and eggs within my space confines. Hence, I needed a dual purpose breed to do the trick. Only they don't. Oh I tried crossing several breeds different ways but ended up with the same results. Too much money put into feed for the amount of eggs or meat produced. Self-sufficiency in producing my own meat from my own chickens wasn't working. I had to face the facts. So the incubator was empty this year and I ordered chicks from a new hatchery, Wyadottes ( for their calm personality and they do well in our cold weather), Aracaunas (for green eggs for the grand kids), and black sex links ( because they lay so well), and a few Cornish Crosses to round out the 25 chicks required to keep them warm and alive during shipping. 
Wyadotte chick
It was a good reminder for I use to order lots of Cornish to put in the freezer. I've no room in mine right now and I've a new small coop to build and a run on the old one to replace. Lest you still be wavering despite my trying to convince you, take a look at the first photo of sex-link chicks and this photo of a Wyadotte, and then the one below. 
 The sex-link are a little smaller than the Wyadottes but the Cornish are almost double their size. The are all nearing two weeks of age. In six more weeks the Cornish will be in the freezer otherwise they will start having heart attacks and die anyway.

 Compare that to the dual purpose breeds that take five months or better to get anywhere near the same size. I may love work but not that much. So when I get my new coop built and a new green house next year, I just might order more Cornish Crosses. The laying hens I'll be incubating for I've a couple Wyadotte roosters in the mix this year. 

Note - don't mind the dirty toes, I promise I clean the cages two to three times a day and the chicks still have dirty feet despite my efforts to keep them clean.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Construction Cast Offs Become Cold Frames

I had to show you something nice and pretty because the weather isn't, GRR....Today, I woke up to green grass and I really shouldn't be complaining even though the wind has been gusting in the forties mph and the temperature was in the sixties, because yesterday was worse fifties F. for temps and fifties for wind. And that was after it became nice for in the early morning the cold wind was checking every nook and cranny of my coat trying to find its way in to bite me. The yak's exhales emitted white clouds and the water tanks were iced over.

I know, I know, I really shouldn't be complaining because others have it far worse, flooding, tornado clean up etc. But oh how I'm aching for a little warm weather and to quit hauling load and after load of wood to the basement, enough already, springtime where are you? 
That's true. It is at the corrals for not only do we have Chicory's kids but Katarina had her kid yesterday, all by herself. Whoo, hoo!! I definitely can't complain about that. Oh how I love it when I show up and it's all over with. The kid is half dry and though hunched, doing great. He must of had a time getting up because he refused to lay down. He kept dozing off and tottering back and forth. LOL 

 Since Contessa bred just hours after her sister, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of a doe. Okay, I really don't know what she's having but I want a doe so don't burst my bubble. I'm trying out the power of positive thinking. We'll soon know if it works. 
 And even though my house is a mess and the wind is blowing hard, it rarely doesn't blow, it's just a matter of how much, I put together those cold frames from the window coverings. Oh yeah, some of you don't know that story. To make this short, our town built a new fire station last year and they used two by four boards and plastic to cover the window openings until the windows arrived. There were a number of the frames of the same size and my brilliant husband - I hope he read this - thought they would make great cold frames for the garden. Last year we didn't get anything done since the grand kids were living with us and they are so small, but now they are being weaned off on to a babysitter so Grandma and Grandpa can get caught up a bit. I've know their babysitter since she was a young girl so it is a nice transition for me.

Anyway, back to the frames. I took off the frames which had ripped plastic and toed them together. You know, pounding in nails at an angle to attach the board below. You'd be really proud of me too because the boards didn't look more pounded in than the nails. My skills are improving. The boards didn't fit together perfectly but this is a scrounge job and it was free. Really free since they gave me the frames and I used the nails that held down the ripped plastic to put the frames together.

I deserve a star for recycling I think. Now to get the hoops made that will hold up the garden cloth that will also be a make shift cold frame. The hoops will be recycling also and maybe I can get a reward for being so green. A root beer float sounds nice. LOL Stars don't taste that good unless they are a star cookie and I know I'd have to bake those. I haven't the time. I'm gardening. Well, gardening until the rains begin again tomorrow that is. Bummer, I was just getting to work on my garden again. Pew! Oh well, the country will blossom because of it and my bees will love that. See I'm making lemonade out of lemons. It was something I always told our oldest daughter. Think of something positive about the negative. 

Hm... What shall I do next? I can't decide whether to do build the frames to hold up the cloth tunnels or work on the small chicken coop. Which will be needed first? That's the question. 
The plants under the grow lights are growing fast and will soon be too large for their pots. Many of the broccoli already are and that is what is going under the wood cold frames as soon as this stretch of raining cold weather passes. Then I'll probably use the frames for  peppers and the .....? Then again, the chicks are growing fast. I'll have to show you an update but for now I'd best get started on supper. My husband works long long days.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Guaging Success

How do you gauge  meal success? One of the ways I know I'm cooking fairly healthy is when the amount of jars in the dish washer is substantial.  If the bulk of the week I have four to seven jars to unload, then I know I'm cooking with home-grown foods. Without a root cellar, the food we raise goes into the freezers or jars and so empty bags and jars tell me I'm cooking with what I squirreled away for the winter. And yes, it is still winter in many areas of Wyoming. By Laramie and Cheyenne some of the roads were closed the last couple days because of winter weather. Also over in the Yellowstone Park and down towards Jackson Hole. I'm getting seriously tired of waking up to frost, though we haven't had snow for a week and a half or so. I am still hovering most days in my winter coat because the wind still has a cold bite.

But wait a minute, I was talking about food. One of my favorite things. One of those empty jars held stewed tomatoes that I simmered with a can of tomato sauce, olives, mushroom, onions, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. This became the Italian sauce in egg Parmesan, something my oldest daughter told me about a few years ago and I've always wanted to try. It was easy and delicious. I found the recipe on the Internet and yes smarties, I did NOT follow the recipe as written but took large liberties with it. I prefer to see recipes as suggestions.
Kirk commented that he must be a guinea pig for poor man was hit with two experiments in a row. Kind of poor man for he did like the food both times. The simple eggplant Parmesan that reminds me of a creative rendiditon of lasagna was really good and the cilantro pesto on a grilled turkey sandwich with Jarlsberg cheese and home-made sourdough bread held great possibilities.
I confess. Guilt is making me say this, I strayed off the track, way off the track from the original recipe. I had to, it looked well, boring. Instead, I slanted towards a sauce I make for fish. The big difference between it and pesto is I don't use walnuts or Parmesan cheese in my sauce and the base of the fish sauce is mayonnaise. That's where I thought the sandwich went wrong. It was too dry. The mayonnaise would of helped. 

The other pesto I made was parsley pesto. It's yet to be tried. I just through it in the freezer and I'll probably use it in rice.


The other jars in the dish washer held  jam, pumpkin, applesauce, applesauce, and some more applesauce. Our grand daughters love applesauce and when they saw I'd used some in a pumpkin cake recipe to replace part of the oil, they wanted some too and some more, and some more.  

So what I really want to know, after I've talked your ear off, is do you like me, gauge whether you are cooking healthy by how many jars are in your dish washer? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yak Meat

With the yaks came yak hamburger and ribeye steaks. We've had yak hamburger before and it was wonderful but not steak. So for Mother's Day we had the ribeye steaks Larry and Christy gave us.

I was naughty and didn't take pictures. I know, I should have for they looked as good as they tasted. I was selfish and just enjoyed them and oh my, were the steaks phenomenal, worthy of a five-star restaurant.

Yes, you do have to know how to cook yak or you will think your gnawing on shoe leather. One gal told me her in-laws thought yak was horrible because they couldn't hardly cut their roast. That was probably true but any of you that cook wild game on a regular basis know that done right it is delicious, done wrong, it is hardly edible.   The same could be said of Buffalo which I've heard enough bad about also but we use to buy buffalo and really liked it.  Bison and elk are very lean meats along with yak which is 95%  lean. 

So how do you cook yak? For the steaks, we turned our Weber grill all the way up and when it was hot, hot, we tossed on the steak putting nice, dark charred grill marks on both sides. When the inside was red but not running bloody juices, just a hint of pink, we pulled them off. The hamburgers are done the same way though ours were not red inside but that stage lighter than red but not quite a true pink. I can't emphasize enough that you don't over cook your hamburgers or steaks.

 Roasts, Christy ( from Spring Brook Ranch where we got the yaks) said to do like you do an elk, cook at low heat and for a long time.  So if you are a well done, or even medium well done person, you really need to learn to eat differently. Beef steak cooked to well done or medium well done is far tougher than those with a nice light red inside.  Oo...w, yuck, you say. Well, I use to be one of you but I've refined my tastes considerably since then. Come on well doners join me, close your eyes, open your mind and eat something that hasn't been cooked to death. You'll be surprised at the difference in flavor and tenderness.
When we looked at the price of the steaks, our mouths about dropped. Wow, they were expensive but then we've no idea what a beef steak in the grocery store costs either or bison for that matter. Beef -we've raised our own, bison - we've bought off one of the two buffalo ranches nearby, and yak - has been a gift twice.

The flavor of yak is hard to describe. It isn't quite a beef flavor. It's lighter, not as in less flavor but in not as heavy tasting and there is not a greasy after taste. I wouldn't describe yak meat as a sweet beef flavor, as some do, but I would say it is phenomol. My research says it gets its flavor from its unique distribution of fatty acid percentages. Yaks are extremely low in palmitic acid which I have no idea what that is but it is bad for you. It is low in calories, saturated fats, cholesterol, and triglycerides.Yak meat is much higher in stearic and oleic acids that are good for us and high in protein. Combine all this and yak meat may be the healthiest meat you can eat. Certainly healthier than beef, or even buffalo, or skinless chicken breasts. Yak is even lower in fat than salmon. So if you get a chance, try some. I think you'll become a fan.

With all the research I've been doing on all the different assets of yaks, you know what I've been up to. Yup, we're thinking about getting another yak. One we can eat. As for Gracie and Jasmine, we've been combing the bull possibilities and studying their dads and grand dads and great grand dad's pedigrees to make sure we don't cross too closely. For Gracie, I think we will go with a Royal bull. That is the black and white ones. Her dad was a Royal but somehow she didn't end up with any white. We plan on her producing our meat and Jasmine, we want to breed to an Extreme Wooly to produce more fiber. So though we can't breed our yearling for another year, we're studying so when the time comes their backgrounds are memorized. Something we can rattle forth in our heads and make a quick, wise, decision because of the solid foundation of knowledge. We've also been reading web-site after web-site learning about different herds near us. It is surprising how many yak ranches are within a six hour radius and we keep finding more all the time.

Yesterday, I've washed the yak wool Larry and Christy brought.  It's drying but I can hardly wait to try spinning it. I've got some research to do because I wondering about the silky hair and wool that Jasmine has versus the crimpy hair and fuzzy wool of Gracies. I'll let you know but I'm sure the stuff I have is like Jasmines. 

 If the lure of fiber and meat aren't enough, those bushy tails held high in the air as Jasmine and Gracie come high tailing it toward us thrills us that they are excited to see us. Yes, we are making progress on getting them use to us. Their is less tipping of their heads in a threatening way because they are nervous and they've even starting grunting. Yes, grunting, for a yak doesn't moo, it grunts. So if you haven't seen the comedy act of Rexroats versus yaks, come watch. We grunt, they grunt, we grunt, they grunt.

We've got to hurry for the girls will soon start shedding and we've got to have them tame enough to comb them to remove the wool that is compariable to cashmere. There is no squeeze chute in sight to place them in so I want them to become like my mare which just stand there without a halter and begs to be groomed.
Our youngest grand daughter and her mother sitting outside the yaks pen watching before she ran off to play with her beloved goats.

What do our grandkids think of the yaks? They like the goats better. LOL That's okay. It is probably for the best since the yaks have horns and would use them if they felt threatened.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Yaks Are Here!!!

Our girls have arrived, whoo, hoo!! Let me introduce you, Gracie is on your left and Jasmine is on your right.
At first I panicked. How was I going to tell the girls apart. No white marking, nothing. Then I saw their names on their ear tags and I breathed a big sigh of relief. By the way, this is Gracie. I can't see her ear tag in this photo but I have now got it figured out who is who without them. Beyond two brown hairy bodies I can see that their faces and bodies are nothing alike. 

No, really, there not. Look carefully. This is Gracie. One way you can tell is that her hair on her forehead isn't very full in comparison to Jasmines. Do yaks have foreheads? See, I know nothing --yet. 

Look here at Jasmine. Hint, hint, look at the name on her ear tag. But beyond that blatant clue, look how wide her head is and how full her hair is acrossed it. Gracie's hair is scant across her head and comes to a V. Give Jasmine another year and we may have to trim that hair so she can see.
Jasmine here has big wide, long chaps and her hair is much fuller than Gracie's. By next year her hair will be really long.  Jasmine is what they call a silky because of the way her hair is smooth and well, silky. It doesn't look soft in this picture but it is comparable to cashmere. It doesn't get much nicer than that.

She would be a good candidate to breed to an extreme wooly to come up with more fiber. She is one nice looking yak between the size of her bone structure, which is large, and her full hair. Jasmine will be one big cow when she grows up.  Her dad weighs 1780 lbs.,  a really big boy and her mother was a big cow also.
Now look at this side shot and ....
...then look at this one.  Yup, you guessed it, the first one is Jasmine and this one is Gracie. Didn't guess it. Well, note the smooth silky hair on Jasmine, the first side shot, and the crimp in Gracie's hair here in the second.

Gracie is the more friendly one and is very jealous of any attention given to Jasmine. They aren't comfortable around us yet and tip their horns in a, I can defend myself so watch out, kind of way. But then again, it has been less than twenty-four hours since we picked them up. I was thrilled this morning though when Gracie grunted at me. My mare was whinnying, the goats were maa...ing and Gracie grunted. It was so... cool. Yes, yaks don't moo, though they are a bovine, they grunt instead. 

I wonder which type of hair is more desirable to spin? Hm....? I really need that yak tour I've been wanting to take. I've questions and questions to ask the ranchers who raise yaks for meat, for fiber, and yes, we found one family that is working on a yak cheese line.

But right now I want to thank Larry and Christy from Spring Brook Ranch who were kind enough when they met us last night with the yaks in Gillette to give us a little yak meat to try and some fiber for me to spin. Since it is Mother's Day, we are having yak ribeye steaks tonight. Yum, yum! We've go to get the grill hot, hot for that's how you cook them. 

To all you Mother's out there, Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hunters and the Hunted

My camera has reached the end of its memory. I've got to clear it so I can keep snapping away. I do have yaks arriving tomorrow and it would be a crime if I couldn't take lots of pictures.
 So I'll let you peek at some of the photos I've been taking the past couple weeks. This is Cally, our calico barn cat who is extremely loose moralled. Yes, Cally fits in cuddle time for every male in the neighborhood. How do we know this? Well, every batch of kittens is a melting pot of colors and types, Siamese, tabby, gray, black and white, you name it. This means that we hear a chorus of toms serenading her and fighting over who she admired most.

This sadly also means that she has already had her first batch of kittens and they have not survived the cold. She does this every spring.

 Cinders here is a real lady and only has a batch or two of kittens a year. They are always a carbon copy of herself and I think she must only be friendly with the black tom that comes around now and then. She is my partner in the chicken coop at night. I spotlight a mouse who is pilfering the grain and she rounds it up removing it permanently.

 Percy here has just started hunting with me when Cinders isn't around. I feared he was a worthless bum but I've slimmed him down a bit and he's begun to hunt.

This is Sue, a male. Now don't kid me too badly but I truly thought this wild kitten was a female and when it became apparent he wasn't. It was too late, the name had stuck. OOOPS!! He lost his leg when he was two and now this hero of mine is seven. The oldest cat we've ever had at the corrals. As you can see by his rough appearance, he is one tough hombre.
 These are a few of my favorite bird. This is the Horned Lark. Horned because he has a feather that stickes out on each side of his head.
 And someone asked me what a Meadow Lark like. Well, here it is. I've done my best but this bird does not let anyone up close. It  makes the most beautiful sound in the springtime. It's flight reminds me of a ducks. It beats its wings very rapidly because its body in large in proportion to its wing size. It does glide much better than a duck though. 

You do not see a Meadowlark or a Horned Lark in town because they are a strictly prairie bird. We are blessed to have our home with its backside to the open countryside, for we can frequently listen to its call. 

 We see this bird, the yellow headed blackbird, a great deal at the corrals but not in our yard for it never comes into town. The black birds and the red winged black birds are in our yard and all over so why does this cousin not come?

We keep a bird feeder on a metal pole in our backyard for birds are truly one of our favorite things and our cat who is an excellent hunter can't climb it to get to them. Hence, our cat and the birds co-exist nicely. And with the bird feeder, we have a natural way of knowing if a big storm is coming. The birds empty the seed out in record time, filling up their tummies before holing up. Small storm, then they take their sweet time