Friday, March 31, 2006

High Krausen!

Here's the latest batch of beer in the brewing corner. It's called Bellingham Red and smells delicious!
Now I need to settle on a mead recipe for the 2.8 gallon carboy. I want to try an herbal mead, something with rose hips and/or heather....The bummer part about mead is that it takes so dang long to mature. And by the time you've tasted enough bottles to see if it's ready, you've drank like half the batch & need to get more going.

This morning I heard ravens, crows, robins, geese, towhees, nuthatches, flickers....and gravel trucks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Chapelle's date...

We had a couple of visitors who could not resist Chapelle's easy-going charm. Turn your back for a moment? And the goat gets fresh with the guests!

Feel the love baby.

Rainy Day Recess

We're finally getting some rain!
Which is great for the seed potatoes that went in the ground last night. I wanted to transplant a few greens into the beds before work, but I'll just wait til it lets up a little.

Heard a spotted owl last night. At least that's the closest I can match the call with ones online. I wonder what the resident great horned owl couple think of that.

We also saw a big bald eagle circling over the hens this weekend. I sure hope they have some self-protective instincts. Also the biggest turkey vulture ever. The wingspan must have been 7 or 8 feet!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Some random photos

Here's a few snaps of what we've been up to lately. They post in whatever order they want, so hopefully you can sort out which ones I'm describing. If you click on them, they open bigger in a window.

-We've got a view of the southeast corner, showing all the unfenced, uncivilized area we have left. Hopefully by summer this will be divvied into paddocks for critter grazing.
-There's a view of the tater patches we're digging, and the back of the house. I should be out finishing those instead of writing this post. The dirt is so fluffy and nice!
-A pic from the previous house of Newt sitting in the grape hyacinth. What a pretty kitty!
-And we have the new gate sign, with a close up so you can read it. So far folks driving by have gotten a kick out of it.

Ok...back out to ma'am the shovel and pitchfork!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Yet another hen party!

Here's the 4th egg since the one in the goat hut Tuesday. Dinner tonight is lovely yummy homegrown eggs, and sausage. The ladies took a well deserved spa day today, starting with a mineral dust bath, to get just the right amount of shine to their feathers. Pedicures are self-service (scratching for bugs), and it's all you can eat at the feed bar.

We got all the conservation sale plants in, plus the plum tree. There were double the shore pines we thought, so some got potted up to be planted in another area once the fence is done. Total so far: 10 rugosa roses, 20 shore pines, 5 red-twig dogwoods, and one Italian plum. After lunch, we hit the tater patch. Four 12ft rows, 20" wide, for the 4 varieties we have. Nooksack, a russet that was developed for this area. Ozette, a fingerling given to the Makah tribe by the Spanish in the 1700's, and still grown there. Desiree, a red variety, that is a top seller in Europe. And good old Yukon Gold, the same kind sold in stores since the 80's. It's a really early one, disease resistant and a good keeper.

That should take the rest of the day, right up to beer-thirty. Tomorrow's list includes transplanting chard, spinach and walking onions (thanks Sarrah!) into the garden beds. Then direct-sowing more spinach. I wanted to move the hens' nest boxes around, but I doubt I'll have enough time. More brewing and bottling is on the agenda, and a trip to town. And vacuuming out the poor overworked Outback. That car hauls everything from hay to lumber to manure, and still has remnants of all of them swirling around the wayback.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Caught in the act this morning...

Poor chicken can't have any privacy. Not even to lay an egg!

At least this one appears to be being deposited in the coop nest.

Not sure if this is the same hen who laid the egg yesterday or not.
I asked, but none of the three ever fesses up.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


One of the pensioners has gone and laid a beautiful brown egg. Not in one of the nest boxes of their own hen house mind you. Apparently, nothing beats the suitability of a goat house for forming a concave nest in the hay that's perfecting for egging... at least to them.

Quite amazing that naughty Chapelle -- the ill-mannered spoiled goat -- didn't make his own fritata with it this AM... or perhaps by luck we just got there before him.

We're considering a modification of the gifted hen house as the nest boxes are not very popular to the gals, and not the easiest to clean design-wise. In the meantime we'll keep checking the goat house.

At any rate, we are thrilled! The chickens are laying. Must be spring...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Feeling a little seedy today

I'll spare you the pictures of flats of dirt in the greenhouse, but I took a few minutes after work to finish planting the herb seeds that get an indoor start. There are 7 flats with 25 different herbs, mostly medicinal. Hopefully we'll dig up some nice free-form beds up front near the fruit trees to direct-sow the rest of the seeds, and transplant the ones I started today.

We went to Bakerview nursery this weekend and got a nice pile of bulbs for the flower bed by the mailbox. Some really cool stuff that I hope the deer won't eat. Peonies, lily-of-the-valley, and some strange ones I can't remember the names of.

The seed potatoes from Ronniger's arrived today, so looks like we'll be digging a tater patch this weekend. In between working on the cross-fencing so the goaties and hens can have some fresh grazing. It's also time to direct sow a few more veggies into the raised beds, and transplant the onions and greens we started last fall. Whew!

I just read a really sad post from one of my goat lists. A doe kidded outside in the cold while the owner was away. A boy & girl. The owner couldn't find a small water bucket, so used a bigger one in the kidding pen since she was hurrying to get them inside & warm. The next morning she came out to find the little doeling drowned in the water bucket. I sure hope Lassie has an easy birthing and her babies are healthy & strong.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Poor Lassie!

I couldn't find anyone that would just come shear one critter, so I figured I'd better take off her fleece myself. I have no clue how to do it properly, just that other folks use scissors when they don't have many critters to deal with.

I think I'll try to clean her fleece myself and see if it's useable, but next time she's getting sheared by a pro.

She did ok for not liking people much.

And at least I can see how much fattening up she needs. She doesn't look pregnant yet, but it's kind of early.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Seven Trees' guest list...

Visitors so far:

Turkey vultures
Tree frogs
Western toad
Black-tail deer
Red tail hawks
Merlins (small hawk)
A catbird

And much much more!
We'll add to the list as they visit, and post pics of a few residents later.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Horse pucky!

Yesterday's errand involved a load of horse poo. I put two totes and a shovel in the car and stopped at a near by riding stable on my way home. They have a manure building and you just back up and take what you want. I figure a trip per week and we'll get the compost pile heated right up. Mmmm mmm!

Monday, March 13, 2006

What a difference a day makes

Here's the new little flower bed up front by the mailbox, just outside the gates. We got a Nootka rose for it, and planted daffodils, irises, daylilies, some wildflower and california poppy seeds. One of our nice neighbors gave us some of the plants, and also a big rhubarb we planted near the veggie beds.

The other picture is looking towards the street, from the back corner of the veggie area. You can see 2 raised beds full of dirt, and the two we just framed up. The wood was free from a construction site down the road, and we'll replace it with cement blocks sooner or later. We started tomatoes, peppers & onions in the greenhouse, and peas in one of the beds. The seed potatoes should ship soon, and I guess from now til last frost we'll be dealing with garden stuff.

And still no eggs from the Pensioners. We cracked their pen open so they could venture into the home paddock. Who would have gussed that Chappelle was a chicken-herding goat! He loves herding them back into their pen. Lassie showed her hidden talents too. She can squeeze through an opening the size of a hen, and belly crawl under the coop til she gets to the few remnants of chicken scratch. She doesn't quite know how to get back out though. I think I have the hen hatch fixed so she can't infiltrate any more, but what a sneaky brat!

Last night we feasted on meatloaf, mashed taters and collard greens. Dessert was strawberry shortcake. It was so yummy, we had leftovers of everything tonight. I made split pea soup for the freezer too.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Here's yesterday's view. It poured down snow and the road into work was perilous. Last night it froze hard, but is nice, clear & sunny. We're headed into town to get groceries and hopefully when we get back, the ground will be thawed enough to work.

Still no eggs from the Pensioners. Just lots of poop.

We also have a new resident hawk, a small one like a Merlin or Peregrine, staking out the bird feeder. We hear the thumps of small birds hitting the sunroom windows, and see the falcon swooping by. I wish it would pick on the nasty starlings.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's almost impossible to take a still photo that shows just how windy it is tonight, but here is one of the prayer flags out front, doing a wind dance. Prayer flags are a Tibetan tradition. Wishes for nice things like good health, world peace, and inner tranquility are printed on each flag. The different colors stand for air, earth, water, etc. You hang them where the wind blows over them, and the prayers are carried over the world on the wind. Eventually they fray away into nothing, and you hang a new set right along with the remnants of the old ones. With as much wind as we get here, we'll need new ones very soon.

Hopefully we'll be planting some fruit trees this weekend, but if we get the snow and/or cold temps predicted, maybe not. On the list are 2 apples and a cherry from Eventually we'll add 2 pears and a plum to our little home orchard. The apple varieties we picked should make a good cider blend as well as all the other good things apples do.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Just when you think you got nothing done...

We drove down a couple of towns on Saturday to look at a dog we thought might be a good match for us. A boxer mix named Annabelle. Not the right dog, but it was a nice drive. We looked at the local shelters, but still no match. The little green monster in the picture is Mark, the evil parrot. His job on the farm is to shriek at everything and try to bite when you give him a treat. He also does a good job of tasting food and laughing at laugh tracks on TV.

Today we ran errands and started another burn pile. We actually raked out the goat paddock to get all the sticks and bits of leftovers out. It looks a lot tidier and hopefully it will help the clover seeds wake up & grow. Chappelle and Lassie have become good friends, and that's them cuddling up under the manger, chewing cud. Since we couldn't find the mower parts we needed, we raked up all the tree bits that have been raining down with every windstorm. Topped up the two garden beds we built, and filled trays of pots for starting seeds next week in the greenhouse. We also gave the nice neighbors one of our last bottles of apple mead. They gave us some irises, daylilies and daffodils that will go really nice in the flower bed we're putting in near the mail box.

We're kind of back around to thinking a mini Jersey cow would be worth the investment, so we're getting antsy to get going on the barn. Time to order our seed potatoes too, and get the rest of the garden beds built. I guess we'll never really be done, but that's the fun of having a tiny acre homestead for a hobby.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Not to be a braggot, but...

I knew I couldn't keep out of the homebrew for long!

Even though the braggot has only been in the bottle a mere 11 days, I had to sacrifice one precious bottle. The carbonation isn't complete, and I can still taste a fair amount of the priming sugar. But it's definitely got a punch to it, and the flavor will improve once the sugars are all fermented out. It's a bit like a really mild beer right now, not much honey taste or aroma, but I'm thinking that's because the priming sugar is overwheliming it still. Another week and it will be just right.

And we got a sale email from Northern Brewer. Hop rhizomes for pre-ordering. They have a decent selection at a decent price, so our landscaping will soon include a wide variety of brewing hops. What a treat to be able to include so many useful plants in the beautification of Seven Trees!

Bad neighbor, good neighbor.

The neighbors' recently-"moved" trees, owing to a wind storm, have fallen onto our fence. Even popped a few staples where the panels attach to the posts. Some additional repair may be required, but probably not today.

The meal shown was enhanced by the good neighbor who thoughtfully provided us two large, sweet parsnips, which look more like potatoes in the picture. We peeled and cut them up, then placed them in the roasting pan with a chicken marinated overnight in a balsamic vinagarette. The chicken was de-lish and the parsnips roasted out golden brown, tender and sweet. Did someone say seconds?