Thursday, July 31, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Arrivals

Did not mean to neglect but my is it busy. I bet you know what I'm talking about. I just can't seem to get enough done. I haven't painted a lick since the first two times and I know the weather isn't going to be warm forever. I did finish the 96 bags and now I've 200 more to make. We are making progress. The to do list is just so long yet that it can get down right discouraging. The other house should take one more day and it will be ready to sell though. Please someone buy it so we can quit making so many trips back and forth. 
Crazy me though  because as if I don't have enough to do, I keep adding more. Remember that I brought home two more goats? I mentioned Jujubee, a doe, (Isn't she a pretty one? Love her confirmation.) and

her little buck, Jubal. If any doubt that it is a boy just take one look at the curled lip and you know it is. Yes, he is smelling the air for hormones. Jujubee is still a might thin and you can still count ribs and see a large ridge across her back but her coat is slick and she is as shiny as a new penny. She is slowly putting on weight. It will take up to six months, if longer, before I will be satisfied with her conditioning. I've had horses that took me a good year before I was happy.
Then because I still didn't have enough to do, LOL, I brought home two more critters. The two year old doe is Chicory's daughter which I sold a couple years ago. Due to health problems and financial concerns of her owner, she came up for sale and since I've regretted selling her, I'm buying her back. I should of kept her instead of Daisy. Hindsight is so enlightening but usually too late. Bella's feet were super long and the back left hoof and pastern lay completely on the ground but the ligaments are tightening up and she will be fine. As for the scar tissue in the udder formed by mastitis, I'm not sure what to do about that. I'm researching. It isn't bad but still significant.

When I look out at all the goats, and there are now TOO many, it looks like a "what doesn't look like the other" picture in a pre-school work book. Yes, poor Lilly here doesn't quite fit in. Five does, three kids -- and sheep. A Columbia no less. Never liked their wool and they aren't much of a meat animal either. Having eaten them, sheared them, raised a few of them, spun, and knitted with their wool, I've got to say they are not in my favorites list. But look at that cute face. I just couldn't leave her behind. She's weaned and best of all she was free.

The plan is for her to buddy up with the little buck and we will house him and her together, I HOPE. He hasn't exactly said yes yet. Then when we separate him off from the other goats, because after all he is a buck, then he will have a companion. One that he can't get pregnant. One that can go into the freezer when winter hits and he is allowed in with the does. That is the plan since plans always go just like they are first laid out. Right? Wrong? We shall see. Right now poor Lilly doesn't have a buddy. Watching the little kids play and Lilly looking on longingly, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer comes to mind. Yes, I did sing the song while I was weeding the garden watching the whole episode. Kind of brought a tear to my eye.

It isn't like I haven't tried to team her up with the kids. I left them all in the barn after letting everyone else out and offered grain. The kids just cried for their moms. I had to build a small separate pen in the barn just for Lilly she gets beat up in the confined space. Jujubee is especially notty around her. She was tortured by the other goats and now she thinks she has someone to inflict pain upon. What is it with revenge? If Lilly liked being cuddled, I would, but she doesn't seem to appreciate my affections. Oh well, I try. Bringing another sheep home isn't in the plans unless the good Lord drops one in my lap. The history on this Lilly is she was found abandoned beside the road and brought to the same home as Bella. Apparently the flock moved off and was nowhere in sight and she was left behind. It occasionally happens.

Since I now have too many goats, I've got to sell two. Daisy and Meagan have got to go along with the weather called Thunder, a name bestowed upon him by our seven year old grand daughter. He has to wait until he is weaned. No he says that is not his real name but what does it hurt to call him that. It isn't like he is staying or that he comes when called. That will drop me to my limit of five goats maximum.

Since this blog is about giving advice. I'm giving a little since I'm feeling a bit irritated. I have to close my eyes time after time when passing by animals because I see neglect. I get tired of seeing wormy animals especially. If they have a big belly and their ribs and backbone feel sharp, then they are really, really, wormy. It is wa.....y past time that they need treated.

Check the ribs and backbone of your animals regularly. Do they feel sharp to the touch. They should feel like the knuckles across your hand where the fingers meet the palm. If a person is of reasonable condition it should feel the same. Fat bellies mean all kinds of things like mine is cortisol medication that I take. Don't see a fat tummy and think the animal is fat. Know where your particular species of animal holds extra weight. I check my goats frequently throughout the month. Yes, occasionally I get really busy and fall behind but never for very long. You have to feed them, take a couple more minutes and check. With beef I've trained my eyes to observe. Most destined for the freezer can't be that easily handled. Toes down isn't good enough. "You are what you eat!" Or as in goats, you are what you drink so make sure it is of the best quality. That means they are in the best shape possible. Feed moldy hay and you have a animal with poor health. Don't expect the milk or meat to be full of vitamins.

 I get pretty cranky about the care of animals. Yes, I'm picky. I've been told that many a time. Yes, I have a talent for conditioning an animal but I've earned it. I've worked to gain the knowledge and train my eye. I've been told by many a county and state judge, besides a few vets, and animal breeders that I'm exceptionally good at conditioning an animal to perfection. It is something everyone can learn to be at least moderately good at. Look for the details. Know where a species of animal holds their excess fat deposits. A fat belly tells many stories, sometimes it means wormy, obese, or dying of malnutrition.

If you can't keep your dairy goats feet trimmed once a month, you've got too many goats. Comfortable feet to walk on helps in milk production. I have gone a couple months before I got feet trimmed but I don't make it a habit. The thing that works best for me is to plan on trimming the middle of each month, around the 16th. Long feet take far longer to snip than ones with a small bit of growth. I had to get out the bolt cutter with Bella to get one of hers started. The pasterns of one hind foot was completely on the ground, the ligaments were so.... stretched. Bless them, the two owners that I bought from realized they couldn't keep up with the number of animals they owned. My limit for small livestock is five. I've learned that the hard way. I just couldn't keep up.

 If you can't keep them wormed, you've got too many for your time and pocket book.

 If you aren't checking your doe's udder to make sure their isn't any mastitis developing even though they are nursing kids and you aren't milking them, shame on you. Check for heat, massage the udder and beware of what each does udder normally feel like at different stages of lactation. Call it a breast exam if you will but don't do it once a month. This is a several times a week thing. Only takes a few minutes per doe. The consequences are that the doe will have damage and that damage can block the milk from passing through the orifice. The worst case of mastitis means the loss of an udder. I run my nursing does onto the milk stand regularly and give them a little grain while doing an exam of their udder and conditioning. Both does I bought have damage. One very mildly in one udder but her bloodlines and confirmations are outstanding so she came despite her poor health. I really want a couple girls out of her.

The other doe, Bella, has it in both sides. Not too bad but on one teat you have to milk around it. Just too bad that there is any. Mastitis occasionally happens to all of us. Years can go by without a case and then you will have to deal with a bout. The faster you catch it, the faster you can get ahead of it. I'm researching to see if massaging the scar tissue will help and if like my scar tissue from my  surgeries which with time mostly disappear, if hers will improve also. Bella was being dried off and was almost dry when I picked her up. To me a milk goat means milk. Mine are in production most of the year. This young doe has a beautiful udder and gives lots of milk, too bad the damage. She had three girls in two years and is two so hopefully she just continues having girls. Her momma predominately had girls.
I believe love can easily be measured. It is in attention and care. It is in the sweet mannerisms of the animal. Animals who are poorly behaved either don't know any better or have little respect for their owners, usually both. A wise Linear Appraisal judge once told me that your bucks should be as well behaved as a show ring doe. After all you do have to trim their feet and lead them around also. I spent months recovering from a poorly behaved buck of another owners. I've have the privilege of handling three of the sweetest and most well behaved bucks also. It was a pleasure. Don't neglect your bucks. Love means wanting the best for them. No, not the most expensive. True love can't be bought. So if someone says they really love their goats. You can see it in the conditioning of them, in the care of their feet, and in the high production of milk. You can see it in the cleanliness of their pens. Yes, love can indeed be measure.
So since I love my goats, I know my limits. I can not properly care for more than five. Some have to be sold. Anyone want does that are linear appraised, CAE and CL free, are heavy milkers, kid with ease, and have good bloodlines. Daisy had twins her first year and fed three with ease. She is two. Meagan is four and gets a huge udder on her. Both are presently dry due to a buck who only impregnated one out of the four does last fall. For the first time in my life my cup is not running over with milk.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A New Way To Handle Manure

The truck is in heavy use and so it just isn't conceivable to fill it with manure and get it unloaded in time to use the pickup for the next urgent project. I've come up with another solution. I fill every bucket I can find and I've got 19 of them. Some are buckets I've collected from others like the Wind Fresh laundry detergent bucket. There are so.... many good uses for these things and I wouldn't mind having more. 
I went twice today and filled buckets to work an area to put in Egyptian Onions that were a gift and a spot to transplant the three volunteer gooseberry plants from around the yard. I'm hoping to find someone who has volunteers of gooseberries that wants to share so I can have at least twelve plants. The past few times I've hauled loads it was to put under existing plants. Kind of handy to just grab a bucket and shake a little natural fertilizer here and there under plants instead of lugging around a wheelbarrow. I figure the more manure I get hauled this summer the less I will have to haul later. The stuff is old and so it is being used more as humus more than fertilizer. The ground is a bit hard and needs it badly.
The manure pile is on the neighbor rancher's place just down the hill from us. There horses make plenty and I'm sure glad as I intend on putting good use to it. The ranchers are happy to be rid of it so it is a mutual appreciation deal. I keep the gates as I found them as no one wants to hear that the bull got into the neighbors cows or that their horses are on the road. It is a lesson my dad drilled into me from the time I was little.  
The other thing is to always look carefully where you step. Before I get out of the truck I look down. One never knows what they might accidently step on. It might not be pleasant. What I didn't expect the other day when I went for a load was the huge surprise buried INSIDE the manure pile.
It was evening and Kirk and I had gone for a load to put on the potato plants. I'd scooped four, four- gallon buckets worth from a small area when my shovel uncovered a slithering surprise. I admit, I squealed. Not screamed but let out that all too familiar sound of "O.....h in a tone my husband has come to know all too well -- ME TOO! It means I've been unpleasantly surprised. Why oh why is it always ME that finds them? For once can't someone else discover the snake first? Last fall when we were looking at places to buy I almost stepped on a rattlesnake as I walked carefully through the tall grass. I say almost because if I hadn't of watched where I was going, I would have. It isn't like I don't keep my eyes peeled. That snake was laying hidden stretched up against the cement covered in tall grass.
This time Kirk was shoveling too so why wasn't it HIM that found the water snake? No... it always has to be me. Like spiders, do they bite my husband, no, they just bite me. As a matter of fact I still have a four inch area under my skin that is very sensitive to touch from the recluse spider bite the beginning of May. The sore on the outside is healing nicely.
Then a couple days after the water snake we were walking in the field behind the house and this is what we found. A snake skin. They are better than the real McCoy but still. It is evidence that they are lurking about.
 At least it was a bull snake skin. How can we tell. Look where Kirk's finger is pointing. See how narrow the tip of the tail piece is? That means it is a bull snake not a rattlesnake which would have a broad tail. We are too far up the hill from the creek for water snakes. The snake skin was pretty good sized though and so I hope to never see it in the mowed area of the lawn. The chickens should take care of that. They hate snakes.
As for this, see the snakes. Okay, maybe not snakes but if you ask our two year old grand daughter she will insist they are. She loves snakes --- strange child. I didn't care if they weren't snakes, I still  wasn't too happy to see these almost three inch things in my garden. Nasty things!!! Don't know what they are but they couldn't of been up to any good.
I'll have to tell you about last night's coyote episode but it is time to milk so I'd best be at it and save that story for another day.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pink Corn

When I spied this in my Bountiful Basket selection a couple months ago I thought 'Oh yeah!, a sweet corn that is vibrant in color. It must be higher in nutrients also.'
Yes, it did have higher anti-oxidant properties and the like according to the Internet and I was pumped with plans to try growing me own. There is a hybrid and a heirloom variety to choose from and I would of course chosen heirloom but when I cooked up this lovely pink corn it looked like this. Pretty unappetizing next to the zucchini isn't it? Just a grayish mass. Taste we....ll, nothing special and not especially sweet either. Granted it had been traveling in a semi-truck and not picked fresh from the garden but still, nothing special. So this is one corn I can cross off my lists to try and grow. I'm not freezing bags and bags of gray matter for the winter. It isn't that anti-oxidant or higher in nutrients. It is a pretty addition in green salad but I'm not growing this for green salad only.

Corn is an area I'm still struggling with. I wanted to get some popcorn in the ground this year and Painted Mountain corn but alas, I just couldn't get all the ground worked up I needed to so some of the garden is fallow this year. As for the cross-pollination problem of growing more than one kind of corn at a time, I've got some new ideas to try on the subject. We'll talk about that later. I've got company arriving today once more so I've got to get ready.

As for the corn I did get put in the ground, it is called Alaska. We shall see. Some of Alaska has a better growing season than we do so I'm now questioning if I made a good choice. It will definitely be a good year to test cold tolerance as we have been cool so far. I'm hoping for a short stalked corn with big ears. Is that too much to ask for? I figure if the energy goes into the ears and not into the stalks maybe the corn will have time to mature and will do better in these foothills of the mountains. Warm weather is promised for the end of the week so we shall see if it will give my corn a good boost in growth. It sure needs it. The knee high by the fourth of July rule that so many people tout seldom happens in my world.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Photo Scavenger Hunt

With working around seven different schedule, some flipping between days and night shifts and rotating of days of the week they work, family get-togethers is a challenge. Add in other events that naturally occur in life and it becomes nearly impossible. It is worth the difficulty and we have decided to set aside those few days months in advance in hopes to bring as many together as possible. In the past it was just holidays that we would gather but we've decided to change that a bit. Seldom does everyone have a holiday off, actually never. So we will make up our own holidays and change some of the traditional ones to different days. I will be mailing out the schedule through December hopefully this weekend and the events planned like visiting the pumpkin patch on Cat Creek in September. We can no longer grow enough pumpkins for our growing family. Nor can we grow strictly for pumpkin carving. Those often don't 
make the best pumpkin pie.  
This home is the perfect gathering place. Fairly centrally located and far roomer than the last one with a kitchen that ties in with the living room, big deck and lots of area to run. This new schedule includes potluck instead of us hosting the bulk of it. The increase numbers of family members makes it just too expensive and work intensive. For our first potluck we met on the fifth. We aren't too formal. It was basically bring enough meat to grill for your family, a side dish and everyone brought whatever extra they wanted to bring. 
Kirk and I planned a little entertainment -holding still for long is not an option.Yet we hate the pressure of an activity schedule so it was more of watching to see if the crowd is growing bored and restless than we will do this at one and this at two and this after that. Instead we set up in the yard games that included water guns, a small pool, slip and slide where the kids could rotate through as they pleased. When the fun of that appeared to wear off, we brought out inexpensive kites and filled the skies. One child learned that just because she wanted the kite to fly in a particular part of the yard didn't mean the wind was going to shift its position just to please her.
 We aren't much for competitive games. It makes it hard with the ages ranging from 2 to 56. With not enough people to divide into categories to change the rules for different ages it just doesn't work. Besides there are always winners and losers, something I would rather avoid. It divides rather than unites and someone is always sad and someone has a tendency to boast. With activities, not competitions, we skip the negative. Even things like card games we don't keep score but lavish praise if someone is particularly clever or creative, or just plain entertaining. Fun is paramount in anything we do. No one cares who wins or loses just that each one brings their unique personality along to delight the crowd. Our five year old loves to help others score points even though normally it means a lower score for herself. Who wants to squash that loving trait, not I. It needs fostering as self-centeredness is natural in most of us. It is in me so I watch and learn from her. 
The biggest hit was the photo scavenger hunt but while our oldest was compiling the photos onto her computer for us to review, we played a little impromptu butt charades. Never heard of it? You are missing out. It is when you use your behind to spell a word and the rest of the group guesses. We did it in teams with the children as spelling can be difficult. Not that the adults are much better.
Our photo scavenger hunt included the following list.
Man-eating plant

Mineral water
I can't believe we all fit in here
 Each member make the shape of the first letter of their name
Something that rhymes with sock
Scary animal
Something cool
Something gross

This activity we are definitely doing again next summer with a different list. I can't wait until the September gathering of soups, rolls, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin bars. I am working on a Lego activity. I guess you could call these family gatherings a mini family reunion.

Monday, July 7, 2014

It Works!

Have always wanted to try using burlap to start my carrots but just never got around to it. I did it. Rather late I know but it has been tough getting things done with such a work load. They sprouted much better. It has been a few years since I've had carrots come up. Life has gotten in the way and my crop has failed in infancy every time because the seeds dry out. This year I'm not sure all those sprouts will make it. They looked so great and then a couple really hot days hit. The weather is so unpredictable. Today was suppose to be in the upper 70's F. but here were are cloudy skies and 60's. I hate the heat as it wilts this gal into a puddle of whimpering heat stroke but tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and the like won't grow well in this cool weather. Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and beans so far look good. Could mean I need to change my strategy. I just might need to go greenhouse in a bigger way than planned. Then again maybe this is a cooler than normal year, I don't know, I'm new to this hill. I'm not really complaining. I'm seeing the temperatures at our other house and they are often ten degrees hotter. My daughter says she is burning up and miserable.

I was in Billings, MT the other day and remembered why I disliked that town so much. Two in the morning and it was still warm, warm. I'd never make a southern belle. Oh how I love my cool nights. Open a window allowing a cool breeze to blow across me as I lay falling to sleep and I purr like a kitten. Yes dear husband, I purr, you snore. It is kind of like the men sweat and women glow thing. Remember the grandkids will sleep with me but not you. I'll take our cool weather and work with it. I can't do anything about heat that lays me out flat.

My problem this year has come in that the carrots became too tall to remain under the burlap that kept them wet and it was too hot under there to keep it on too with a couple hot days. I did water them twice a day but they just don't look so good. Sorry no picture of them laying over with heat exhaustion. Not sure how I'm going to get it right but I will. One thing is to start them earlier.

My burlap bags are heavy. They are old sheep, wool bags. Don't know what they use now to keep wool in but at one time it was burlap and it was a good way to get a large amount of the heavy weight fabric at a good price.

 I just discovered today that we have a fairly tall crawl space underneath the house. I was so.... hoping we did so I could stash potatoes, carrots, broccoli plants, brussel sprout plants, onions, and cabbages in rubber maids under there. Oh yeah, pumpkins too. How can I forget those? Looks like the cellar project can wait. Good thing because we wouldn't get to it for years anyway. It will be a good place to go in case of tornado also. Not that tornados are common this close to the foot of the mountain, unlike in the area we lived before. We also have a draw on each side of the place we can go if need be. Always best to have a plan.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!!

One of the flowers I've learned this year is the Sego Lily. How pretty they are blooming in our fields. It is Utah's state flower. "The Shoshonean Indian word for the plant was Sego, meaning “edible bulb”. The Shoshonean Indians taught the Mormon pioneers how to eat the bulb which helped them survive the years 1848-1849. I guess the plant without the blossom looks similar to Death Camas. Doesn't take a genius to figure out that one is poisonous. I guess this county has some of those bad boy too. I'm just glad that our fields do not presently.
 The cool thing about this beautiful flower is it starts out as three tubes and when they open up it forms the single flower.
The inside is lovely with its painted trim.

Happy Fourth of July! Yes it is almost over but we have been gone and just got back later this evening. Kirk's father was rushed to a larger hospital a couple hours away on Wednesday. All of a sudden several serious problems arose all at once. A couple organs are having fits, one needs removed, and he almost lost one of his legs from the hip down to a blood clot and clogged arteries. Things are still unsettled but his dad is doing much better. Two of his brothers are still with him and so we left to prepare for our family party tomorrow. We are to have fifteen of us gathered. It is getting more and more difficult to accomplish. There are six different schedules to coordinate. Five of the six workers have rotating shifts from days to nights and back again with each working different days of the week. So we will celebrate life. Kirk's dad's life that has been spared so far but he is hardly out of the woods yet and the joy of being a family. Kirk's dad is 88.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mushroom Picking

 This time of year I get a yearning to eat mushrooms, my own mushrooms. So I go about looking at all the fungi growing and questioning,"Can I eat this one?" That is exactly what I did with this beauty growing in my lawn. You can quit holding your breathe now. No I did not eat this mushroom. My book said beware of mushrooms with gills. They are poisonous.
So I gazed longingly at the pictures in the book wishing I had a clue about what they were talking about. I want to find a mushroom of my very own to eat. Why does it have to be so complicated.

 When I read that some good mushrooms grown in the lawn I vowed to keep looking. Then again it said BEWARE imposters lurk next to the good guys waiting to make you sick and now I'm not sure I want one that comes from the lawn.
The book said use gloves or a napkin, but don't touch mushrooms until you've checked them all out. Some poisons might absorb through the skin. Maybe you might even later put your fingers in your mouth. So I used my toe on this one. Is it a bad guy or a good guy? I thought at first it was bad since it was brightly colored. Some brightly colored frogs are poisonous. That was my logic. Probably basing mushrooms on frogs isn't a good idea so I looked at the book. There I saw some orange happy looking mushrooms and they were edible. Hmm..... wish I knew if this one was. Of course edible and tasty aren't quite the same thing. Some mushrooms are edible but you wouldn't want them for supper.
"Ewwwww....!! looky", I said with delight  to my husband." Here's another one!"
"That's a stink bomb." my husband informed me as we continued on fastening the barbwire to the bottom of the post. Our does have been visiting the neighbor pasture by slipping under the fence. "Not a mushroom at all." he informed me.
"Seriously" my eyes said skeptically as I looked back at him. After all this was the man who once told me about a horrible disease called youngbugitis, Should have seen that one coming but we were dating and I never dreamed this wonderful guy would tell me such a boat load of horse pucky. Now I know better.

To prove his point, he toed the thing and sure enough the top was a ball not attached to the stem. He peeled back the skin. It looked like the stomach of an animal when it is full of grass. Smelled that before when it burst so I thought I'd skip dissecting the mushroom. I'll take his word for it. Sometime I might look it up this stink bomb and see what it says. Literature smells a whole lot nicer sometimes.

I also spied a mushroom growing under a sagebrush. I read sometimes those are good. But was a good kind of mushroom grow under a Big Sage, a Frilly Sage, or a Silver Sage.  Yup, I learned a little about sagebrush last week. We have frilly sagebrush and silver sagebrush but not big sagebrush. Of course the sagebrush where we use to live wasn't big either at six inches tall but it was of the big sagebrush variety. The soil was just so bad it ended up stunted.
Can't someday I have my very own little edible, yummy mushrooms? Maybe I already do but how is a girl to tell?
I asked one of the gals that works at the local library if she knew of a mushroom picker. She did but said she guards the secret to where her gathering spots. I tried to convince her that the lady could keep her locations. I wanted ones of my own, preferably in my five acres. Or at least one of the ranches near by that I might gain access to. Really all I want is the knowledge. If I have that I don't need her picking spots. I will know what mushrooms to pick and where they are most likely to grow. She didn't seem very convince. I suppose she couldn't see why you would want to go to all that trouble when you could just go and use someone else's. Self-reliance is a concept that is very hard for some people to understand.
Then again maybe this lady is like my father-in-law. He has a picking spot too and only picks one kind of mushroom. It doesn't show up every year. In fact it doesn't show very often at all.
Then there is a friend of mine's aunt. Was that confusing? Her aunt has a mushroom that grows in her pastures behind the house. Just one kind of mushroom grows there. We went there one year and it was FUN! Not economical though as the cost of getting there made the mushrooms rather spendy.
So I guess becoming an accomplished mushroom picker will have to wait until another year. I'll just keep toeing mushrooms and staring at my books longingly. A girls got to dream.