Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wish I had a picture

This is a picture of a great horned owl on the chicken coop. We had no idea he was getting in the coop.

In the last week we've found three chickens beheaded with their necks eaten. We didn't know how it was happening since we found them all in the hen house. We actually thought it might be the rooster. He's been pretty rough on occasion.

Last night at about midnight I heard a ruckus in the hen house. I ran out with the big flashlight and a shotgun expecting a coyote, weasel, stray dog, or mean rooster. We found another dead chicken, only this time when we looked up on the perches there was a great horned owl just perched among the chickens. Owls are federally protected so you can't shoot or even harass them. He eventually flew off. Somehow he was waddling through the chicken door to get into the coop at night.

So now, after years of leaving it open at night, I guess I will have to shut the door at night and open it in the morning.

Mystery solved. I wish I had a picture of that owl just perched among the chickens.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A nip on the ear

Caspian gave me quite a nip on the ear when he was removing my straw hat today. It's really pretty hot, so I went out to check on the goats and their water situation. They are OK for now, but I'll have to bring some water out later. The two kids really like my straw sun-hat.

Strange, Carrisma gave a ton of milk yesterday but almost none this morning. She looks full right now, so we'll see how much she gives tonight. I'm going to try separating the kids again tonight. I'll see what happens in the morning.

I'm trying to decide whether to get some weaner pigs in a couple of weeks. Colleen is sort of phasing out of the operation and I'll be handling all the farm and garden myself. It almost seems like, "how much more work could it be?" I'm already here milking goats and watering chickens. Just a quick check on the pigs probably wouldn't add too much to my morning. I'll meditate on it.

I'm hot and tired today but still happy as can be to be alive. Blessed be!

Friday, June 25, 2010

short note

Well, just a short note. This mornings milking bonanza did not go as planned. Carrissima was full of milk, but was so engorged that she did not "let down." I don't know if she was holding it for the kids, or if she was just too engorged to get started. Either way, I got almost no milk. Got some suggestions for tomorrow morning. Will keep you all posted. She gave plenty of milk tonight.

Poor girl. I tried and tried, but all I did was get her irritated.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life goes on...

The goat kids will be spending their first night away from mama tonight. I was going to separate them last night, but there was a lightning storm and I didn't want them to be scared. I'm such a softy. Separating them at night should give me significantly more milk at the morning milking. I am also expecting a goat hobble in the mail soon. It should also help me get more milk. Carissima is as gentle as can be as long as she has plenty of grain to munch on. As soon as the grain runs out she hops right into the milk pail. Frustrating!

I took a tour of the garden and did a little weeding, but I soon got hot and disappointed. The garden does not look great. Late frost, cold rainy weather, and a spring that lasted almost until July have really taken a toll. I do have plenty for myself but there won't be much to sell at the farmers market. There are big gaps in what's growing. I have lots of cabbage and beets but almost no peppers. Tomatoes are so stunted I may not get any to ripen at all. The corn all drowned and half the squash did too.

But there is garlic, onions, beets, enough squash left, lettuce, a few good radishes, a few peppers, I can't complain-even though I just did.

It's not what I hoped for, but the Lord has still blessed me with everything I need.

The baby chickens will be joining the larger chickens tonight. It is too hot for them in the small coop. They need a bigger run with better shade. I hope the rooster let's them settle in. He's usually pretty good. He plays referee while the hens sort out the pecking order.

Well, I can't control the weather or the seasons, but I can make choices about what I do about it. There is still plenty to plant, weed, and harvest in the garden. I still have been blessed with everything I need.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Farmers Market

We sold at our first farmers market yesterday. We didn't get rich over night, but we had fun and made a few dollars. Every little bit helps. We picked a few too many heads of lettuce, but they might have gone bitter anyway if we had left them in the ground. The radishes are superb, but we have too many of them too.

It was beautiful and sunny. I've never had it so good.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Musica Universalis

Musica Universalis - The Music of the Spheres. The idea that the proportions in the movements of the heavenly bodies, the Earth, Moon, and Planets, create a kind of musica. (Latin for music) Pythagoras originated the idea that there was a sacred connection between the movement of the planets.

I have been meditating on the sacred rhythm here on the farm. As the seasons change, plants sprout and grow, animals are born and die, there is a rhythm to it all.

Not only do the seasons have a circular rhythm, days on the farm do too. I wake up at four and sterilize the milking pails. I go out, talk to the goats, feed and milk them. I let them out of the barn and head back to the house. Carissima and the kids bleat and cry, begging me not to leave.

Back in the house, I get some coffee in me and get ready to take Luna for a walk. We get a nice long walk to the end of the nine acres and back. Chasing birds, flushing partridge and bunnies. Maybe a pheasant if we're lucky. Luna usually find some dead thing to pick up and carry home with her.

Then it's off to check, feed, and water the chickens. The chickens come running for treats. Greeting me in a frantic cacophony.

The critters cared for it's time to feed myself. Usually a several course breakfast.

The rest of the day it's weeding, and planting, and hauling, and cleaning, and all sorts of chores. At the end of the day we close with a home cooked meal and some rest.

It is labor, but it is labor in the sense that it is a calling. I feel blessed to be able to do this sort of work. It is a prayer. It has a sacred rhythm to it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The goat learning curve

I am having a blast learning the ins and outs of goat milking. Not that it isn't without its frustrations. When you get a quart done and are just about to quit and Carissima steps in the bucket. I've taken to hanging a bucket on the wall and emptying milk into it as I go. That way, if she dances her way into the milk pail I haven't lost everything. This morning I just couldn't get it going and only got a half a quart. So I went back this afternoon and got the other half a quart. I'm sure I'm leaving plenty for the kids though. I might get a hobble for her legs, which would prevent the dancing while I'm milking. She's calm as long as she has grains to nibble on, but as soon as she runs out of grain she's ready to get off the stand.

I got Luna out for a nice long run today. She wore herself out and is sleeping. Then I sat with the goats and played with the kids for a nice long while. Caspian, the boy, likes to climb up on my back and nibble my ear. Whisper, the girl, likes to nibble my beard. They are all so affectionate.

Rumor is, the sun may return tomorrow. It's been so cloudy and rainy that it's giving me the blues. It's giving the tomatoes the blues too. We really need a few hot, dry days to get the rest of the garden in. We are looking forward to vending at the small growers market. I'll be sure to post pictures.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

School's out for Summer!

Today was the last day of the regular school year! Thank goodness. I was getting really burnt out. I love teaching, but by June I am just done. I will have just a couple hours of summer school, but it will be more of a consultation every couple of weeks. I will be working and playing on the farm full time.

We are vending at our first farmers market on Tuesday. We'll be selling eggs, lettuce, and radishes. Our radishes are fantastic. Spicy without being bitter or woody. The cool rainy weather has been good for some of our crops that don't like hot weather. Radishes, lettuce, spinach, greens. On the other hand, our tomatoes have been rotting in the ground. We are supposed to get a run of sunshine starting Friday.

We are just having a blast with all the critters. Dogs, cats, chickens, and goats. We still want to get pigs, but there seems to be a shortage of weaner pigs. Is anyone else around the country finding that? Anyway, we are all set for the pigs, just need to find some at the livestock auction and put up a couple of hog panels. We've got the barn area all ready for them.

The Palouse is beautiful this time of year. A glorious green. I feel so blessed to live where I do.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

More horribly adorable goat pictures

We got the goats home from the breeders with only the usual hectic adventures. We couldn't figure out what to do with Luna, our puppy, so she rode in the cab of my truck. We had a 6-7 hour round trip in weather that ranged from beaming sunshine to torrential downpour. Carissima, the mother, road in the back of my truck in the canopy. The two kids rode in the back of Colleen's car contained by the dog gate.

They settled comfortably into their new home without any problems. Of course, there are a few things we forgot to buy and a few more we didn't get finished. Carissima doesn't like climbing the big step up into the barn with that big udder. The milking stand could be a couple of inches shorter too.

My first milking was going so well I was beginning to think, "hey I've got this nailed." That's when Carissma took a big step with her poopy hoof right into the milk bucket. Oh well, feed it to the chickens and try to get it right tomorrow.

Of course we've been worrying over every little thing. Are the kids nursing. Is Carissima drinking enough water. Do we have the hay and grains right. Is the barn tight against coyotes. The coyotes were, in fact, howling and yipping near the house last night. Colleen said, "well, you could go sleep out in the barn with a shotgun and a flashlight."

Despite the fact that I felt like I spent my whole morning feeding goats, chickens, dogs, and cats, I am enjoying myself immensely. We are truly blessed.