Monday, November 3, 2008

Another busy weekend!

Roasted veggies - half from our garden, half from the organic grocery

Another busy weekend under the belt!

This weekend I wanted to remain as on top of things as I could be. This is mostly due to the fact that this will be my last weekend open to do things for a few weeks. Next Saturday morning, I leave for China, for a week, so anything that was falling behind on the schedule needed to be addressed right away.

The first thing on this list was to put up the gutter that has been down since we had the work done on the front entryway. Without it up there, rain water comes down the roof and dumps in the mud to the left of the door. We were afraid that if this continues, it would eventually soak into the basement! So, we got that up this weekend and we changed the flow direction so that it empties to the side of the house were eventually a rain barrel will go.

I had to make a crisp to take to dinner with friends on Saturday night. I wanted to make something I'd made before, but I didn't have time this past week to try out something new. I had a recipe for an apple-blackberry crisp, so I thought I'd give it a shot. One ingredient appeared to be missing and the topping was only flour and I tend to like ones with oatmeal in them. So I made the exective decision to experiment even though it was for 'company'. I went with the filling from one recipe and the topping from another (cutting out a little of the sugar) and luckily, it was delicious! I'll definitely be making that one again - particularly when the occasion calls for guests!

The evening out was really fun. Good food, good company, good conversations...and a nice break from 'farm life' for a few hours. It was well needed. Sunday was one of our busiest days yet, so having a 'civilized' break on Saturday night was well timed.

On Sunday, we had to clean out and move the chicken coop. That happened during breaks in the rain. We moved the coop to it's next location in the row garden area. This spot was FULL of weeds and grass for the chickens to devour, so I think it's a good spot from their perspective! My H also cleaned out the goat's shed. He pulled out all the 'soiled' hay and we spread it over the row garden covering the spots were the coop has already been. He then filled the back corner of the shed with pine shavings instead of hay this time. It's good for smell (smells fresher longer), but unfortunately, bad for Buddy! The pine shavings stick to his fleece, so this morning he looked like a snowball! Live and learn. Next time, we'll try putting down the pine shavings and then covering it with clean hay in the hopes that we'll get the benefits of both beddings.

I planted the garlic finally this weekend. I wanted to do it a couple of weeks ago, but things got in the way. The advantage to waiting was that the ground was very wet, so it was relatively easy to hoe up all the weeds in the area I wanted to use. I made an area that is about 6ft by 5 ft, marked it with white fence posts (from the old electric fence), planted 9 rows of 3 types of garlic and then mulched it with about 6 inches of pine needle straw. I'm excited, because I've never grown garlic before! I picked the spot I did because it's the one corner of the row garden that neither of the sprinkers will reach. This way, if we have to water the rest of the garden after June 1st when the garlic is supposed to remain dry, we can without worry.

Then I set about building a mini greenhouse out of one of our 4x4 square foot gardening boxes. I picked the one that had no trellis on it already, installed two 10 ft 1/2 inch pvc pipes in an arch at each end and then covered it all with 3mil plastic. I cleaned up the soil prior to doing this, so planting should be quick and easy. I do still need to locate some type of clip to hold the plastic in place in a couple of spots, but once I do, I'll take photos. I think it'll work really well in our temperate winter weather. I'm not sure it would be very effective in places were it gets really cold except as a way to get seeds started once spring comes around.

By this point, I was wet (it was raining off and on) and covered in mud. I went inside, threw my muddy stuff in the wash, and set about doing my kitchen tasks for the weekend. I re-made the cinnamon grape preserves. When I did, I ended up with an extra half pint of preserves that wouldn't fit in my waterbath canner, so that jar is in the fridge awaiting my first taste test. The other 7 pints are happily resting on the counter. The best part is that it gelled this time!! Yipee!! And look at what a pretty color it is:

Cinnamon Grape Preserves - take two!

Then I washed out the pot and started making chili. I made a double recipe so that we'll have plenty to freeze for those nights that cooking is just not in the cards. Then I started on dinner. I'd bought a free-range organic fryer chicken at the local 'foodie' grocery store, so we decided to have that on our vertical roaster. It's a roasting pan like this:

Vertical roaster - great for chicken!

I did the chicken with a citrus rosemary grey salt rub, and the veggies with the same. I roasted small potatoes from our garden along with two different types of carrots (pictured in my title banner). To that I added parsnips, rutabaga, purple potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes from the organic grocery. Everything turned out beautiful (see photo above) and was awesomely delicious except for the rutabaga. We were not impressed. I still have one more, so I'm going to try cooking it a different way next time.

Sunday night after my H milked Sass, we administered the dewormer to both goats. While Sass was on the milking stand finishing her grain, we did Buddy's. I held him while H gave him the injection. Immediately after we did, he started screaming and rolling on the ground! We both freaked out a little and thought that maybe we'd done something wrong. Within a few seconds, he'd calmed down. Then my H remembered that the vet had said it would burn a little. Buddy is pretty much a pain wimp, so in retrospect, his reaction was normal for him. Then we did Sass's and she did not like it, either. She didn't flip out quite like Buddy did, but she clearly was not enjoying the sensation. I felt so awful! I hate inflicting pain on them!! I'm SOOO glad that I'd already ordered the hermal dewormer for them. It's supposedly pleasant tasting and it definitely won't cause any pain. That should arrive this week, so we won't have to do this injection for them again.

Lastly, we had an unexpected task to complete on Sunday. While I was out in the garden most of the afternoon, Sass was very vocal. That's unusual for her - but she was bleating away, very loudly. That's a common sign of estrus for goats...just one we've not noticed from her in the past. We also discovered that she was very affectionate to us (prior to the dewormer incident!), so we had a feeling that her last encounter had not impregnated her as we had hoped. H called the buck's owner and we arranged to bring her over there late Sunday afternoon. When we put them in together, it was totally different from last time. She did not play hard to get and we watched the deed at least three times before she indicated that it was time to go. We have no doubt that she is impregnated this time and that last time was clearly not the full act. Oreo (the buck) was not quite as 'cute' as he was the last time we saw him after a month of making himself 'presentable' to the does. Bucks actually pee on their beards and face during the breeding season making them extra gross and stinky. Last time, I think it was early enough in the season that Oreo wasn't all grossed up completely yet. This time, we could smell him when we got out of our truck! We both agreed on the trip back home that our property is not big enough to house a buck during mating season unless we want to live with that smell in everything! Ick! Anyway, we are now 100% conviced that Sass has been impregnanted and that we'll have kids the first week of April. :-)

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