Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sun at last... and chores!!

Here's a view of Mount Baker and Twin Sisters this past weekend. They are in view just around the corner from home and it is sooooo nice to see them as well as a few days of sun.

Shake and bake anyone?? Here's a Red Star hen getting the "treatment". Actually not REALLY shake-n-bake, but a general bug powder as it has been a long wet winter! The goats and cow also were wormed as well... general livestock care day for all.

The cedar shed partly gutted, so we could assemble some well needed shelves and immediately fill them up of course! Also had a little fire to warm up out of tree fall from the windstorm as it was and still is chilly here, sun or no!

Update on Stewart:
Our poor Stewart, 6 month old Shepherd mix, has been limping progressively worse for almost a week on his right front leg. He will also lay on his right side, then groan as if hurting, and roll over then lay on is right side. He repeats this over and over. Also has been loath to put any weight on the leg lately as well as been less active.
We thought he'd hurt himself playing as he is can really be a lummox It's been almost a week now though, so we decided to take him in to the vet. Appointment was yesterday afternoon, and between waiting for x-rays, and a few emergencies that had to go ahead of us we were there 3 hours!
Good news is Stewart didn't break anything, bad news is he has panosteitis, essentially an inflammation in his right front leg bone. I guess young large breed dogs get this sometimes, and as far as reasons why... the jury is still out. About all we can do is keep him quieter, and dose him some anti-inflammatories the vet prescribed as well as some sedatives meant to slow him down a bit. Full recovery is almost assured, but it is hard as he's definitely hurting right now.
Hopefully the drugs put a dent in that for poor, poor Stew. He does seem a bit less sore today!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Weekend forecast: BUSY!

The week has been nothing but work, sleep, work, and so on. Weather and lack of daylight have kept us from outside/critter chores, so today we both took a vacation day to catch up.

But first, a major errand run - much pillaging to do! Then we'll be dosing all the barnyard critters for the various cooties they tend to get. Rounding up chickens, placing them in a plastic bag with insecticide power (heads out of course) and doing the shake & bake thing. Oh boy is that ever fun! The cow & goats get a pour on cootie treatment and their hooves trimmed (the goats do, Stella needs a farrier to do her feet).

Hopefully we'll get a chunk of sod-turning done for the new garden, and maybe set a fence post or two. It's been frosting up overnight, but sunny afternoons.....

And our boy Stew has injured his elbow somehow, probably roughhousing like kids do, and has been dosed with a teeny bit of muscle relaxant. Not only for pain, but to slow him down a bit to rest. Check out his goofy goofy grin!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Animal Crackers

We did have that home raised roast chicken last night, but forgot to take any pics. (Doh!) It was tasty more like a wild style bird than store-bought. Good breast albeit small and super flavorful dark meat! We're especially looking forward to seeing what kind of soup it makes. It should be rich and golden, judging by how this bird looked.

Does Stella love her baby Berry? She sure seems to! Here she is bathing the smug little bugger. Berry is her chosen friend of the goats, and mom-Lassie frequently gets booted out of the barn.

Getting closer and striking a pose.

Stella wanted an even close up look at that camera-thingy!

Cats also attend to dental hygene as Newt demonstrates. She caught me about to floss, and had some help getting rid of a stubborn bit of gopher.

When done flossing it's best to make the floss "mine" by scenting it with some good face rubbing. Needless to say the human had to go and get new floss, after Newt was done butting in.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

One of these things is not like the other...

Looks like a Speckled Sussex has figured out that spring is around the corner. Check out the size of this "practice" egg compared to a full-sized Red Star egg!
The Sussexes are just over 5 months old, which is the usual start of laying time. The Red Stars are about 10 months old, and professional layers now.
Tomorrow we're going to roast our first home-raised chicken. We'll post a review...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Seven Trees Project List

1. Garden
Buy Seed
Turn Sod
Fence Garden
Amend Soil/Prep seedbeds

2. Pasture
Complete Perimeter Fence
Move Old Coop
New Chicken Run

3. Plantings
County Plant Sale
Empress Trees
Prune/Spray Fruit Trees

4. Barn
Install Gutter
Build 2nd Half

5. House
Painting Prep
Carpets Cleaned
Under House Work
New Front Door Bids
Paint Bathroom

6. Misc.
Skirt Cedar Shed
Repair/Replace Porch Roof
AI Stella (Dexter Cow)
Clean up/Organize Shed
Root Veg Storage
Pantry Doors
Garden Watering System (Drip)
Breed Chickens

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From egg to freezer in 5 months

The meat chickens were dropped off yesterday, and are no doubt killed by now. We'll pick them up Tuesday or Wednesday from Keizer Meats in Lynden, WA. They do custom and retail processing (which means both killing and butchering; some places only butcher animals you've already killed, like deer). They're on the WA state dept. of agriculture's list of inspected facilities, and the only place in the county doing chickens.

Here are the 16 hens and roosters, wating to go. Keizer said chickens have smothered when dropped off in a closed cardboard box, so we modified them by making a grill on top with fencing. We packed them in snugly so they would stay warm overnight, since they had to wait outside to de-poop before being processed.

I think we gave them a good life for those 5 months...lots of fresh veggies, some free-ranging, a big clean coop. It's much more satisfying to know where our food comes from, and what goes into the growing of it, even if it's more expensive and not so easy.

Our goal for spring/summer is to raise a new batch of chickies and butcher them ourselves. Definitely not on my list of fun things to do, but part of being a responsible, sustainable food-producer...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No warmer here...

Guess we should have stored the rain barrel. Here it is frozen solid as is water from the down spout. It's been 25 degrees most of today with a howling north wind that I am sure dropped temps into the teens. Fortunately the sun has been out, which has warmed things up to 31 or so. The wind isn't quite so wicked now either. Be a treacherous night for driving...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Countdown to Rooster-halla!

This Friday, the roosters (and hens that didn't make the laying flock) have an appointment with the knacker. We're going to drop them off at the slaughter house and pick them up Monday, nicely wrapped and ready for the freezer.

I'm sure the neighborhood will be greatly relieved to have them gone, as they start crowing around 3 am, rain or shine. The next batch we raise will be a few months from now, and we're going to butcher them ourselves. A wonderful woman who works at our favorite feed store has offered to come over and show us how it's done. Not that we're doing handsprings in anticipation, but I think for something relatively easy to handle like chickens, we should be butchering them ourselves. Plus we get more control over how they're treated at the end, and how they are processed.

We didn't expect such blustery weather today, but luckily for us, much of the chore list is indoor projects. Like continuing to stock and tidy the pantry and it's new shelves. On our message board, Green Branch , we played a little game called What's in your Pantry, where people listed an item in their pantry by aphabetical order. When it came to X, we were stumped for a bit, until I remembered the cardboard Xena stand-up we tucked behind a file cabinet for safe keeping. Yay for Seven Trees! Xena really is in our pantry, so that was our contribution for X.
Here she is, guarding the rapidly-filling shelves. We still have one top shelf to install, which will help immensely...

And we can't forget Gentleman Stew, modeling the finest in down vests, ready for the outdoors in style....

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Quality control, Seven Trees style!

First the K-9 inspection crew. Ignore the clever Spam bribe someone "accidently" left on a shelf. That had nothing to do with Stewart and Fergus signing off on the job!

Notice the attention to detail and fine workma'amship...and the glass of wine below! My kind of coffee break.

And the final inspection. Fit for a queen! Well, maybe a few jars, cans & boxes anyway. Once the top shelf is put on, we can rent these bunks out and make our fortunes!

Actually, the shelves are nearly immovable, roomy, and already filling up. Sooner or later we'll add some nice looking cabinet doors to pretty it up, but for now it's just great to have more storage.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A-shelving we will go!

So we have a tiny tiny spare "bedroom", maybe 9ft square. We long ago realized we need pantry/storage space way more than we needed space for the occasional overnight guest. It's been filled to the brim with food and books and other gear since we moved in (nearly 2 years ago), so it's time for decent shelving!

The pile of stuff, politely known as.....stuff! About half the contents of that tiny room, stacked up in the living room. I finally had to dismantle another shelf to make room for putting in the new ones, which is what I'm supposed to be finishing now...

It's actually starting to come together and we'll have some more pictures later of the new pantry all filled back up properly.

And we learned a bit about being "in a pickle" too...All the lovely looking jars of pickles we canned this summer didn't turn out too great. They taste fine, maybe a little sweeter than salty. And they look perfect. But they're too soft, especially the fermented ones. Now we know why the directions always say to use tiny cukes. Bigger ones have too many seeds, which make a hollow pickle once it takes up the brine. So we'll try the same cukes as last year in the garden, because they taste so good, but we'll also try a cornichon variety too. The new garden will also have a spot to trellis the cukes, which will make it easier to pick them tiny. Last summer the vines grew on the ground, and the cukes liked to hide until they were monster sized.

We're also going to try canning our refrigerator pickles. So far those tasted the best of all, but you're not supposed to can them. They sit in your fridge as you eat them, maybe 6 weeks or so. But some people seal them in jars right after pouring the hot brine on. They seal just like they had been in the canner a while, but they aren't cooked as soft. It's not the "USDA safe" way, but we'll try a batch & see.