Saturday, January 31, 2009

Newbie Nubians

Two more newbies joined the farm today. Maddy and I drove down to Mountain View, MO to pick up a Nubian buckling and doeling from Emily at Ozark Jewels farm. They are absolutely adorable!

Here is "Ozark Jewels Hey Jude". Jude has the most lovely ears I've ever seen, and some good looking and performing goats in his bloodlines. And, oh.. those eyes! Even though he's tiny, he'll be the new herd sire. Couldn't you just pick him up and cuddle him?

The only doe we were able to pick up this year (all of the other does from whom we'd reserved doelings had all bucklings... just my luck) is the most dainty and beautiful little girl. Introducing "Ozark Jewels Elfia Gem". Elfie's face just makes my heart melt. Isn't she lovely? Her left ear twisted over when Emily tattooed her. I'll fix it with duct tape because duct tape fixes everything.

They weren't cooperating very well, so I couldn't get great pictures. They really only want me around for the bottle... imagine that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jake Joins the Journey

One of Maddy's dear friends is moving and needed to find a place for her 1/2 Lab, 1/2 Great Dane, Jake. Jake is now a very loved resident of the farm. He and Craig took a while to warm up to each other, but they are now fast friends.

Jake doesn't seem interested in chasing chickens or harassing goats, which is very good. He is, however, EXTREMELY interested in tracking down a coyote that has recently been nosing around the chicken yard looking for a free lunch. That's also very good!

He's a very lovable guy and spends most of his time on the couch relaxing, as you can see:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


As mentioned before, our Barred Rock hens just started laying (finally). As the egg-making machinery in a hen matures you end up with some oddities. We've had tiny little round eggs with no yolks (pullet farts) and regular sized eggs with bumps that look like the starts of other eggs.

The latest trend in egg strangeness has been the ginormous eggs that HAVE to hurt.

In this picture, the egg on the left is banty hen egg (I have 5 banty hens in with the Barred Rocks), the egg in the middle is a normal egg, and the egg on the right is one of the ginormous eggs.

These monster eggs usually have two yolks as in the picture below. I broke one of the yolks as I cracked this egg. They make fantastic fried eggs.

We're getting about a dozen eggs a day from 13 hens. I'm giving them away as fast as I can, but they're still coming out my ears. Anybody have any good egg recipes?

Oooo.. 13 is an unlucky number. That justifies the need for another hen, doesn't it? Hey, Craig....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Homemade soda!

I'm way addicted to learning to do things "all by myself", even weird things. I also admit that I have an unhealthy addiction to Diet Coke. So, in the alleged interest of self-sufficiency but really as a way to find a replacement for the evils of artificial sweetener, I've learned to make my own soda.

I started by making a culture to give the soda its fizz. I did this by putting some tap water in a very clean quart jar. To that water I added a few tablespoons of diced fresh ginger root, and a few tablespoons of sugar. Top that with cheesecloth or a paper towel to keep dust and bugs out. Then, like all cultures (think sourdough starter), I added some sugar each day and stirred it. I also added some extra ginger each day to give the sugar a little boost. After about a week, the culture was fizzing and ready.

Now, to make the soda "syrup". In my big old canning pot (one of those speckled blue pots), I put about a half gallon of water, a 32 ounce bag of frozen strawberries (you can use fresh as well), and about 2 cups of sugar. I brought all of this to a boil then turned the heat down and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. If you're making this yourself, just keep tasting the liquid until you have a very strong fruit taste. Here's a photo of the fruit "cooking". My pot isn't dirty, honest - I dunno why it looks that way. Reflections, I guess.

After the fruit has cooked, I pour it (fruit, water and all) into a gallon jar and then let it cool. Be careful pouring hot liquid into a glass jar - do it in the sink and try putting a knife in the jar to help absorb the heat so that the glass doesn't explode. I let this fruit mixture cool until it's room temperature. It takes a while.

After the fruit mixture is cool, I added about a cup of the culture made previously. (Leftover culture can be refrigerated, or just keep it going by adding more water, and then a couple teaspoons of sugar and ginger and a stir each day.

After I put the culture in the jar and stir well, I top it with a paper towel secured with a pony tail holder. (I'm the master of "make do"!) Here's the fruit and culture sitting together getting jiggy with their bad selves. The blue tape on the jar is for writing the date on so that I know when it's finished. This I leave on the counter for any where from 3 days to a week, depending on how sweet I want the soda. Shorter times for a sweeter soda.

Once I'm satisfied with the sweetness and the fizziness, it's time to bottle it up. After straining the liquid through a cheesecloth, I poured it into old Grolsch bottles that a friend of my Dad's gave to me. I leave the bottled soda out overnight, then pop the tops in the morning to get rid of excess carbonation, then into the refrigerator they go. The soda is ready to drink at this point, but it tastes better cold.

The soda really tastes great and it's all natural. Plus, the culture gives it a good probiotic which everyone needs and hardly anyone gets enough of. Any kind of fruit can be used for soda. This week I'm doing a grape soda with some grape juice I canned this summer from our concord grape vines. It oughtta be incredible!

Isn't this a pretty, totally guilt-free soda? Happy drinking!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh say, can you see?

It started snowing today. A lot. I'm not a huge fan of snow because it makes getting things done difficult. Plus, it hides all of the tools I forgot to pick up and then I lose them until it melts.

It does look pretty, though. The picture of the flags in the snow below was taken from the warmth and non-slip safety of my living room. I'm not going out in this, thank you very much. Looks like I need to replace the American flag, though. I'll wait until spring. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cute as a Buttons

Allow me to introduce the newest addition to the farm: Buttons!

Buttons is a sweet little 5-month old Jersey calf. We drove to Monterey, TN to pick her up yesterday. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find a Jersey calf or cow around here. It was a grueling 7 hour trip one-way, and worse on the way back. I was so worried that she'd be too cold in the trailer for 7 hours. We stopped several times to check on her, but she did fine. We also stopped a couple of times because the cable that hooks the trailer to the truck brake lights came unplugged. When that happened, the trailer brakes engaged so we had smoking brakes and a REALLY bumpy couple of seconds before we got pulled off the highway. It was also extremely scary going over the bridges over the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, especially after having had the brake cable troubles with the trailer. No shoulder on the bridges would have made for a dangerous situation had the cable popped out again going over the bumps and potholes. We made it fine, though.

We didn't get home until 10pm and had to turn poor Buttons loose in the field with Buttercup in the dark. I was worried that Buttercup would be her normal grumpy self and not let Buttons into the barn. I worried for nothing, though; Buttercup adored her from the very first second she met her.

Today out taking pictures I noticed that Buttons was quite intrigued with what looked like a milk buffet. The buffet was closed, though, and she quickly lost interest.

The puppies meet Buttons:

The goats meet Buttons:

Buttons will need to be bred when she's 15 months old in order to have her first calf when she's 24 months old. So we'll begin around November looking for a boyfriend.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Monorail Goat:

In case you're wondering how a Monorail Goat applies the brakes, I happened to catch this not-often-seen event on film:

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Our little guy is growing up! His little horn nubbins are all the way through. We're now very careful not to play "Push". I don't want him realizing that horns are useful.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Puppy Power

The puppies are growing up quickly! Abby is doing a good job of training them to sit and guard, but their attention spans are not quite up to par just yet. From left to right; Julia, Gizmo and Jack.

Gizmo will be the best guard dog, I think - he's very concerned about anything out of the ordinary and eager to investigate. I'm not sure what he'd do if it was something that needed his attention, but at least he knows when something's different. That's a good start.

Julia wants to chase chickens. She and I will be having some intense training sessions very soon. I'm confident that we can get past this. Odd that she's the only one that chases the poultry - I had intended to make her the duck, duck, goose guard. Maybe not.

Jack is lovey dovey. I have a feeling he'll be the one overseeing new babies.

Kidding season will be interesting. The pups will be 6 months old, which is still a bit young. We may have to separate.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Eggs finally!

After many discussions with the "girls" regarding their choice of either giving me eggs or going into the stewpot, they made a wise decision!

Aren't they beautiful? Pardon the jar of culture in the background, I'm preparing to make my own soda - a post for another day.

We get about 7 eggs per day from 13 hens. I think some of the Barred Rock girls still aren't laying. We've gotten a couple of "pullet farts"; eggs that are misshapen and have no yolk. It takes them a little while to get the egg laying machinery into good shape.

We did add two flood lights to the henhouse to fake the girls into thinking that the days were longer and that they therefore needed to lay some eggs. The lights come on at 2:00 am and then go off at 6:00 pm, extending the daylight hours. The henhouse is rather shaded so we just leave the lights on all day.

I have yet to decide if biddies will be turned out during the day when the weather gets warmer. I'd dearly love to cut back on the feed and get some natural proteins from bugs in them, but... we suffered some big losses to coyotes last summer. We shall see.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

... And some parts for a Mustang GT

As we continue to celebrate our first Redneck Christmas (my true love gave to me... Fiiiive Dairy Goats!), we have to show off Craig's present - a new .22 rifle. In case the picture isn't clear enough, that is indeed a camo rifle. Note the wet shirt... yes, ladies, he even does dishes.