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.
I had a broken flower pot so I decided to still use it as a planter, only out in the yard. This was perfect for planting a Hen in a Basket.
Of course this caught the attention of the chickens who were out free ranging. I had all kinds of assistance as hens took turns eating any worms or June Bugs I uncovered.
I finished weeding the sides of the house as well. The chickens made sure no bugs were left to get at my flowers. I’m sure they have a deal with the goats so that the goats get anything left growing.
The Commander picked up two Blue Wheaton Maran hens that were hatched out in February this year. They lay dark chocolate colored eggs and should begin to lay at the end of July. I can’t wait to see them. The two hens are in their own area until Sunday night when they will be put into the regular coop with everyone else.
What’s in your yard?
I got a late start milking this year so by the time I started with Pebbles one side of her udder was under stimulated from lack of use. Pebbles is my Mini-Alpine, a cross between an Alpine doe and Nigerian buck. She gives more milk from one side than the other two Nigerian’s combined. The milk still has the rich buttermilk flavor of the Nigerians yet it comes in a goat who is of a size that is much easier to handle – and milk.
Pebbles is barely larger than the Nigerians and fits right in with the herd. She is a first generation Mini-Alpine and I am going to breed her this year to a first generation Mini-Alpine buck to get a second generation kid. The milk production is just fantastic while the hay fuel required to get it is basically the same!
We finally got the garden partially planted last weekend with the potatoes going in first. I notice some of the places further South have already harvested some raspberries but we just raked away the straw and uncovered the ones in our garden. I also tried some radishes again, hopefully with the soil much improved they won’t taste woody this year.
I have been telling myself for years that I would plant some seeds in some old gutters that were laying around. Well I finally got around to it. I’m hoping to get something interesting if the dogs don’t eat them first.
The rest of the plants are in pots waiting for this coming weekend when I can transplant them. Here’s to hoping the weather stays warm unti the end of August.
The woods we began transforming over three years ago are finally beginning to grow grass! A view from the girls sheep barn.
This area was very think forest and is still littered with stumps. The grass is very lush where it grows mostly because of drainage runoff.
This area is between the two sheep barns. It was also very thick with low brush and adult Maple trees. As the Maples have been thinned out the grass is peaking through. Something about old leaves makes the forest floor resistant to change.
This area had all the saplings cut down last year. Again the grass is showing nicely where the sun can get to the ground but there is a lot of clean up work still left to do. So many branches and logs on the ground!
This area behind the goat barn was once heavy thicket. We now have to bring the sheep in to keep the grass under control.
This years lambs are growing nicely!
This is the view from our kitchen window. The rolling green hill looks just wonderful. This was heavy thicket when we first moved here, you couldn’t even see what was back here. We are going to keep the sheep out of this area until the grass gets really thick to allow it to really take root.
This was a marshy are behind the goat barn that could only be walked on in the Winter. We have been using it for hay disposal and it is slowly filling in. Still very mushy but getting there.
More deep woods. We are going to extend the fences this Summer so by the time the sheep get back here their should be some good eating available.
The Commander has already worn out one wood chipper and we have been harvesting fire wood to take us through the Winters yet there is still so much ground clutter. This may be a job that seems to never end. I am happy that we are finally getting to the point where the animals can graze for longer periods of time.
We are going to leave some trees to try and keep the pastures scenic if that makes sense.
Take a look back at May 31st, 2010!