Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What the flock???

Just over 20 degrees at 5am this morning!! Everything is frozen solid. We still have to get our garlic planted, so hopefully the forecast for warmer temps later this week is accurate. All the critters need extra care when it gets really cold. Mostly making sure they have access to unfrozen water and aren't getting frostbite. The meat bird coop is unheated, but there are 16 birds in there so they should be able to cuddle up for a few nights. The inside house temp got down to 63 overnight. Brrrr! Luckily the woodstove cranks up fast.

Here's one of our Red Star hens. It's nearly November and these gals are laying an egg each, every day. Behinder her are some of the Speckled Sussexes, a rooster to the right, hen to the left.

A close up of one of the two roosters we're keeping. They seem to get along pretty well, but the older, bigger Red Stars are riding herd on everyone, so not much chance for a coup attempt yet.

This is BoldHen. She's bigger and more adventurous than ScaredyHen, and prefers to free range. When the babies are big enough, we'll start letting them into the barnyard a few hours a day. As you can see, she looks a lot like a rooster. The top hen in the pecking order will often take on male characteristics, maybe to emphasize who's in charge...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Much ado about Stew

The little monster is home from the vet now. He got laser surgery instead of the old-fashioned scalpel method. And wouldn't you know it, he's ready for trouble and already sent to bed for roughhousing. No doubt he can use the rest anyway. He's also got his big-boy rabies tag too.

Here he is singing the blues about the hard hard life of a male puppy, the night before the big snip...

And the "after" photo, with Fergus inspecting the vet's handiwork...

We also got word that Stella is doing well enough to come home next month! So we'll be out finishing up the hotwire fence and making sure the barnyard is buttoned up and ready for a little heifer. Today's errands included the brew store, where we got the makins for pumkin ale. We bought a couple pie pumpkins at the farmer's market, which will be roasted prior to being chucked in the brew kettle. And lucky for us, since the goats ate all our garden pumpkins this summer, our neighbors are giving us their sugar pumkpins after they're done serving as outdoor holiday decor. Most likely more pumpkin ale and some pumpkin bread are on our up-coming menu.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Boring week, busy night

We're both still under the weather, so there's no fun, silly, bizarre exploits to document. But last night I was awakened by strange animal squalling sounds. It took a few to register that it was Berry, in distress. So, robe, slippers, flashlight and stagger out to the barnyard. There's Berry, head stuck in the loose hay mow. He had found a miniscule gap in the wire surrounding the hay (supposedly keeping them out of it) and wedged his head in and couldn't pull it out. I freed him and checked for damage. He has upset, but fine. The neighbor was just unloading his work truck (at 11:30!) and hollered over to see if everything was alright. He was just going to head over when he saw me out taking care of the problem. Back to bed. By now the un-forecast windstorm is going pretty strong. 2:15, we both wake to the unmistakable WHUMP! of some part of tree anatomy falling. Robe, slippers, flashlight....Can't see anything amiss, so it must have been a tree falling in the woods across the road. Back to bed. Toss, turn, dream about sleeping...

This weekend we (that's the royal we) plan to venture under the house to shore up some sagging insulation and bug bomb (we'd rather not encourage any "wood destroying organisms" to winter over with us). It's also a good time to see what's under the woodstove, for future plans to have the brick chimney rebuilt. Hopefully the floor can support more weight. If not, we'll need to have a mason build a platform there first.

So here's the customary critter pic. It's Stew, graceful as a gunny sack of cornmeal mush, wrasslin. Get a good look at his little dognuts. By tomorrow afternoon he'll have "celebrated" his Unmanhood Day at the vets, and joined the ranks of neutered males in the household.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Much fun was had by all

After a nice long visit with our neighbor (who brought some homemade wine from homegrown grapes) we decided to take advantage of the fire in our backyard firepit and roast marshmallows for the dogs. Fergus has a special talent for throwing the tennis ball into the fire, knowing that humans will jump to grab it before it burns. He also loves jumping and snapping at sparks, sometimes almost falling in the fire. Stew prefers to relax near his people, with a few forays into the wilds of the berry patch near by.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Stew's new ear 'do

Check out Stew's do! He arranged his ears all by himself and wore them that way for a good 10-15 minutes, an eternity in puppy-time.

Both of us are sick, and the weather is finally rainy, so not much going on this week. Hopefully Saturday's errands will take us by the brew store to get ingredients for pumpkin ale. There are a couple of pie pumpkins on the back porch, waiting to be roasted and added to the malt and molasses and other beery goodies. We also have a batch of heather flower mead ready to be racked over to a different carboy, and a small batch of cider bubbling away nicley. Can't wait to try it!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Moving day!

Later today we'll be out making life & death decisions about our chickies. It's time to choose our laying flock and the 2 roosters that will "service" them. The rest will go into the old pen for a couple more months, then to the butchers, and finally into our freezer. The 2 new Red Star hens are staying, and just got popped into the layer pen with the babies. A little squabbling, but not the wrathful vengeance that the Rhode Island Reds showed towards other chickens. The 3 older gals are most likely going in to the stew pot as well. They are done laying, and just plain mean, so we'll follow tradition and recycle them into tasty soup or stock.

Hopefully we'll have a few more pictures later today. It's an under the weather kind of weekend, unfortunately, with one migraine and one nasty cold. The original plan was to run errands in town, divvy the flock, then take the dogs to Nooksack Falls and bring home a growler of beer and grinders from the North Fork Brewery. For now, we'll just call it good at groceries and chicken wrangling.

Here's a heartwarming photo of brotherly love to tide you over:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend update...

Looks like we're going to give Stella some time to recover and see if we can't bring her home between now & December. She's doing better, and hopefully she'll continue until she can join our menagerie.

Stewart is the star pupil at puppy class (the only pupil, actually) and is growing like a weed. Here he is relaxing after a hard day of playing and being naughty -

Check out this egg one of the Red Star hens laid today. The older hens are pretty much done for the year, and the 2 new gals are stepping up to the supply chain with gusto. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the bigger egg is 2 or 3 times the size of the rest. We can't even close the carton on it!

We ended up staying home today to plant the blueberries, roses, bulbs and heathers we got at Bakerview Nursery this weekend. Which is a good thing, or we might have missed the treat our neighbor brought over - 4 gallons of fresh pressed cider from his orhcard! One thing about making hard cider, is that you need unpasteurized, preservative-free juice. So being good brewsters, we found a nice ale yeast in the freezer and started some yeasties bubbling. Tomorrow they'll go into a carboy of honey and cider to ferment into sweet loveliness!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stella update et al...

We heard from Stella the Dexter cow's breeder today, and while she is doing better, we'll be waiting a few months to bring her home... just in case. So no trip to Orcas Saturday horse trailer in tow. Kind of a bummer, but I am sure that we'll find something to do.

Like go to the beach. Here's Stewart and D at Semiahmoo spit park today. He was more interested in the smells than the water, especially a tasty crab claw sans the crab. A tad ripe no doubt, so we stopped that action right away. Tonight is his second dog-kindergarten class, which he seems to enjoy thus far. It involves a lot of treats, so what's not to like??

The wood shed is about done and filled. We have just about enough wood left to stack... to fill this little bit of the row where the kindling tote is sitting. (Actually a bit more to be chain-sawed as well. Not sure where that's going... but hey! We're darn close to a wrap on it!!)

Here's a bit of the transforming shed area and J getting the mower ready this afternoon. Especially cool is the chairs around our new fire pit, which we dug the past week. The old one was way out in the pasture, and too far to be very convenient. We were given some bricks and interesting stones from D's co-worker yesterday, and hope to dress the pit up with those soon. Were also pondering the purchase of one of those Forest Service style steel pits with the heavy-duty grill that can be hinged up or down.

At any rate... cow or no... life proceeds at Seven Trees.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bad news update

We just got word from the breeder who has Stella. Seems Stella ate something bad and may end up being put down. At best, the breeder doesn't feel comfortable selling her to us even if she recovers.

Cows, and other grazing critters, often ingest bits of metal or plastic or other junky stuff that always winds up in a pasture. Sometimes it can be passed ok, sometimes not. It's just one of those possible livestock problems that can happen to anyone.

The breeder did offer us another heifer, a full sister to Stella's mom, who is one month older. We're thinking, though, that this is the one she mentioned wanting to keep, since the calf is the last heifer from a really outstanding bull. We let her know we're interested in that one, as long as it doesn't interfere with her herd plans. We sure would hate to have to start our search all over again, or wait til next spring's babies, but we'd also hate to take advantage of the breeder's sense of obligation in this sale...

We'll keep you posted.