It is amazing how easy it is to stop posting. First I was having camera issues and it just didn’t seem right to have posts without pictures. Next my job just overwhelmed me, the next thing I knew my garden was an overgrown wreck and it was all we could do to give the animals the attention they deserved.
Well yesterday as I was trying to avoid all the foolishness the press was trying to push vis-a-vis the so called government shutdown it dawned on me that I hadn’t visited OFG’s site in months! Soon I was visiting all my old haunts and low and behold I was happy!
The radishes in the garden are growing great. The first ripe ones are literally popping up out of the ground! I ate some yesterday and again this morning with breakfast, they were delicious.
This is much better than the first time I tried growing them in the garden. Back then they grew OK but the taste was “woody” and terrible. The soil is much improved since then.
We also got to try a few strawberries yesterday as well, very sweet. Looks like the painted rock decoys are doing their job.
Saw this in the local town parade today. Good advertising!
Several days ago I noticed that some eggs were missing, especially the blue ones. That could only mean that a secret nest had been formed. We spent several days trying to locate it and it was finally spotted yesterday (in the very tip top of the loft in the sheep barn) with 18 eggs in it. The dogs are very happy about the discovery!
Every time a secret nest is found a new one is soon set up and the hunting begins again. This time I decided to place a few “decoy” plastic Easter eggs in the nest to see if they would notice. I worked (kind of) as I was able to gather 3 new eggs today although the plastic eggs were pecked and broken apart.
Last year the birds ate most of the strawberries that I was able to coax from the garden, what to do? How about a few rocks painted like strawberries? Is that cruel?
I’m hoping to get to eat a few strawberries myself this year.
The rain this year has been overwhelming. We are way above average for June and when you combine that with the freezing Spring well, gardening has been slow. I am happy that I finally decided to try growing a few things in the extra eaves that were taken off the garage. I tried mostly peas and spinach.
They look to be growing just fine even though their soil is a bit wet. I took this picture a few days ago and I was just outside and they are already double in height. Yesterday one of the goats was up on the deck and nibbled at a few. I am excited to see the peas wind themselves around the poles as they grow.
Mini Leopold does an amazing job of keeping the hens together in a flock as they roam across the lawn and into the pastures. Every once in a while a hen will break off to lay an egg but eventually he heads off and brings them back to the group. This was never the case when his father (Leopold) was in charge.
With all the chickens sticking together and moving as a flock it makes it easy for Sara to keep an eye on them – hopefully keeping the fox away. I know Sara likes it when they stick together, that way she doesn’t have to spend any time rounding them up! (She’s crazy like that.)
We love having guineas here as they serve several important purposes. First and foremost they are tick eating machines, with all the tick borne illnesses out there this more than earns them a place here. Second, they are excellent watch birds who make a earsplitting racket every time something out of the ordinary makes an appearance (fox, hawks, eagles, cars, clouds, a strong breeze, etc). Item two gets old and can earn you the reputation as “the bad neighbor”. Guineas are also territorial and the males will attack (or try to defend the flock, chickens included) predators if they make an appearance.
Unfortunately guineas are also night blind and easy prey. The are favorite targets of anything that is hungry. We started the Spring with 2 girls and one male, then the mysterious stranger arrived for the second straight year. We had high hopes for the two breeding pairs, especially when one nest was set up in the sheep barn and the second was in the injury recovery coop. Sadly I think the fox grabbed one of the girls leaving Juliet (the last original guinea) sitting on 30+ eggs in the safety of the sheep barn.
We weren’t sure if we could find the nest this year so any eggs we found were saved for the BrinSea incubator. This incubator has seven slots and we have had great luck with it every time it has been used. I highly recommend it!
We hatched out six of the seven eggs! Unfortunately none of the chickens have gone broody yet so these will be raised the hard way, in the garage. Once Juliet’s keets hatch we will try to catch as many as we can and add them to the brood. Guinea keets don’t survive very well around here unless the spend the night in the coop.
This is a little trick I read about and decided to try. This is a great place to keep little ones safe and warm!
The signs were there, we should have been more on guard. A week ago one of the last two guinea girls disappeared. I knew she wasn’t sitting a nest as most of her eggs had already been collected – it was too soon. Then this morning the Commander found the remains of a bunny that had been hanging out around here, but I though maybe Molly had gotten it.
I needed to make a quick run to the store so I grabbed my keys and headed out the door. As I was walking to the car I heard the guinea boys start to go crazy. I looked over to the sheep barn and saw the new mysterious stranger guinea boy flying in a dive bombing manner. I quickly made my way over to the action as he made a second run….and then I saw a large fox trying to run off with one of the roosters!
The fox had the rooster in its mouth and I didn’t have a stick, the dogs were inside, and the shotgun was upstairs. The only thing I had was my keys so I started jingling them as loud as I could. The fox dropped Leopold (who ran towards me to safety) and darted towards the woods, but seeing Leopold running for me it decided to charge at me. I have a bit of experience with crazy foxes so I held my ground and yelled at him, and then I charged! He made a clean getaway into the woods.
The fox was big enough that I have to worry about it trying to grab one of the goat babies. I think the sheep are too big for it to tackle. The chickens and guineas are in trouble unless we watch them or the dogs are out on patrol.
Looks like I need to get my hunting cloths ready.
Pebbles and Gidget have been doing a great job providing milk so we finally had enough to try and make some cheese! We broke out the recipe book and discovered that a stainless steel pan was needed so the experiment was halted by a trip to the store.
We chose the simplest recipe to start. It called for one gallon of milk to be placed in the pot and it needed to be brought to a boil.
Once it began to boil all that was required was to add one half cup of Apple Vinegar. The milk immediately began to separate and after a few stirs the congealing mixture was poured into a cheese cloth lined strainer.
The whey was separated and after a few squeezes to the cheese cloth a nice soft cheese was plopped into a glass bowl. We seasoned it with garlic and herbs – whalla! Cheese!
What to do with the whey? We made ricotta cheese of course. The whey was reheated to 140 degrees, a quart of fresh goats milk was added. The mixture was reheated to 140 degrees and stirred until little white flakes began to form. At that point the mixture was again poured into the cheese cloth but this time it was hung to dry for approximately one hour.
For dinner tonight the Commander stuffed the cheese into shells, seasoned it with basil, oregano, and chives. He then added a white sauce with chopped bacon over the top and tossed it into the oven. What a great meal!
I picked up this playhouse last year from a thrift store thinking that the goats may play in it. Turns out they love it! Kids are always lounging inside it or jumping in and out of the windows. Here is Noah laying on the stove.
Gidget is really enjoying the weaning process as she gets to spend time on her own during the afternoons.
Of course no milk means the Kids get a little grain in the morning, they have turning into our version of pigs. Everyone has found new homes so they need to complete the weaning process in the next 2 weeks max. My ears are getting a real workout.