Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Update that's almost a novel

Well judging from the large gaps in posts, you can gather that last year was a bit on the hectic side. So here's an update and summation on 2008.

Spring saw the arrival of our first goats. Justin gave up his anti-goat campaign and I bought two SaanenXOberhasli does, well one was a doeling. Becca, the milk goat and Gretta the will be milk goat. Becca is the one with bells on. ;)

Sadly, we lost her a couple months later to a stroke. We enjoyed what she gave, learned a few lessons and Justin learned that goats are actually fun. As goats don't do well without companions, I bought a BoerXNubian, Mildred, doeling to keep Gretta company. The two girls last summer.

Justin found a goat bell at the feed store, so Gretta has become our bell goat. Rightly so since she is the herd queen. That bell is a handy thing to have! If there is upset (had some strays come through last summer, or if it starts raining) that bell and her voice will let you know. Some days I hear the bell before I hear her though.
We didn't breed them last fall. Mildred wasn't born until April and they were both slow in growing. So we decided to play it safe and give them a year. My FIL just bought a very nice little Boer buck that I'll breed them with. I'm unsure which way I'm going with the goat herd at the moment, but there's always room in the freezer for more meat. Gretta, I'll keep in milk when she kids. Anna likes goat milk and I want it for soap, plus I could always make cheese. I'll be training the kids to milk on the goats as well. They aren't as demanding or difficult to milk as the cow, it's a good fit.

The two misfits, yesterday...just in case something edible was in the cards.

August saw the arrival of our first bovines. There are three of them, one we lost to scours, the black we almost lost. The remaining two are hale and hearty, destined for the freezer this fall.

We named them Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Got milk?!?!

Left to right, back to front.
An amazing milk/cream ratio, butter, this morning's milking (pitcher (gallon size) and half gallon jar)

Another bovine wandered her way over to our insane corner of the world. Maybe if she'd known, she would have run the other way, as it is...she's here to stay. Her name is Amy, short for Amaryllis. She's a Jersey and we bought her this last January, late in her lactation her production isn't full right now, but she's still giving an average of 1 1/2-2 gallons a day. She has a dry cell (there's 4 on the udder), so I'm guessing that she'll freshen at 3 a day...maybe just a hair over. This month she threw in a curve and ended up with a displaced abomasum, 4th chamber of the stomach flips over to the left side where it isn't supposed to be. She fixed it by pitching a fit at the vets and stepping off the back of the trailer, better than surgery, I guess pitching a fit can work in your favor sometimes.

Here's a close up of that cream. This was a milking, between the displaced abomasum, AI and the full moon she made sure I had a week of interesting events.

You can barely make out the cream line, it's just below the counter top line on the wall.

The one who supplies us with our milk, along with one of the steers. Take note of that "cow lick" on top of his head! She keeps those two little guys very well groomed, the locks on their heads are always standing straight up. LOL

We also had a couple of new additions to the family along the way. Seamus, is a Chocolate Lab, who adores fetch and anyone willing to play it all day. He was dropped off at the Tribal pound one night, we agreed to trade for Loki...who had aggression issues.
Then there's Sparky. Poor Sparky. Sparky is a Siamese who was set on fire just before last Halloween. Justin took the call and ended up taking the cat as well. A local vet volunteered to help his initial recovery, if there was going to be one and we ended up with a great small animal vet and a new cat. He lost his exterior set of sphincter muscles, so...well...his butt fell off. The interior set survived, no noticeable tail nerve damage (that was a big concern, as the nerves that control the bowel double back through the base of the tail), and aside from slightly spastic moments (unsure if these are breed or trauma traits) he's done well in his mending! There are some spots where I don't think he's going to grow hair back. He's a bit mangy looking on the back end, but a cat that can still find it in himself to purr and love while still smoldering and in pain...well how can you not try to do something?!

Our chickens took a hit this past winter. In talking with others, we weren't the only ones to end up with chicken popsicles this year either. We'll do some work on the coop this summer to try to avoid this in future. I think that between the cold winter and fewer bodies to keep the temp up in there, it was too much.
Last summer I had planned on replacing much of the flock to begin with. I've found that the Rhode Island Reds are prone to frost bite on their combs, they're really obnoxious and pushy and J would like a more traditional looking rooster breed. So I finally settled on Speckled Sussex. They're a good duel purpose breed, have great marks for foraging (I can't free range because of strays, but may do a traveling yard one of these days) and have mild temperments. The barred Rock (Zebra chicken) is also another I'll keep a couple of, as the Americuanas. Oh, I've thought about Buff Orpingtons, rare and exotic and if I'm really honest with myself, I'll probably end up with a raggle, taggle looking chicken mob when it's all said and done.
Anyway, the chicks are showing up the end of April and we're all excited about it! Nothing says Spring like chick peeps.

My garden last year was a dismal shadow of food production. Our season was late, took a while to get started once it showed up and then ended on time. My melons never even bloomed, the pumpkins didn't get much larger than table ornaments and tomatoes didn't ripen. The earlier crops did well. I also found the perfect pea for us! Wandos. They can handle the heat and love the cold. I should be able to pull two crops out this year, something everyone is looking forward to.
So, alas, those canning jars I collected last year sat mostly on the shelves, empty and upside down. It was just a depressing sight to see. We're putting in raised beds for everything but the potatoes and corn this year. We'll also be bringing in topsoil for them, since anything decent that's already on the place is growing grass. The big garden space grows things like onions, corn and potatoes very well, it's everything else that really suffers. On the bright side, it puts the veggies up by the house! While a lot of lawn can be pretty, it's a lot to take care of for no input. The next addition project is going to be Jerusalem Artichoke in the flower beds. Great for animal feed, people, decoration and is a good source for fuel grade alcohol...if J decided to do that for the farm (need licenses and all that). The beds around the house are raised cement, so invasion won't be an issue. 'Course if it turns out to be such a helpful little plant, invasion may not be an issue either!
I've been putting the stall muckings into the garden spot, that will be worked in in the next few weeks and then I really have to pick a spot for compost! Next winter, between the cows and goats I'm going to have a great booster for that.

Oh wow, this is turning into a novel.

Okay for the family side of things......well they're getting bigger, even Malina! Here's Bruce snuggled up to Daisy for family movie night

Both of the dogs curl up into these little balls and the kids have found they make excellent pillows...the dogs think it's fantastic as well.

Bruce's feet are now bigger than mine, he's almost as tall as me now. Lars isn't that far behind at a men's 6, Anna...well she's growing steady and Leif is keeping pace. Malina is still no bigger than a minute, complete with a Keebler elf voice.

There's the year in a not so small nutshell. This year, goals are woodshed, hayshed, pigs, a rooster, milking room at least (I need something I can heat just a little), raised beds...looks like it's going to be another busy year. One of these years, we'll be down to just running the farm....maybe. :)

No comments: