Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pig pens and heat.

Oh boy is it HOTSY TOTSY out there! 11 am and already almost 93 degrees.
I have been outside for the last 2 hours.... working on the new pig pen.... Well, not a new pen.. just different fencing. When we got these pigs last year.. it was a sudden thing.. and I had to hurry and put up a fence with whatever we had on hand. It happened to be 8 ft tall chain link fence. A little over kill for pigs... but that's what we had at the time. So, now I am SLOWLY replacing it, with panels. Yesterday I had my neighbor over to help... today I am alone... 2 panels done yesterday.... 2 more today. I had to stop... I was feeling like the Wicked witch of the west after water was thrown on her. Here is what I have done so far. And yes, there is a strand of electric inside along the bottom.
For now, I am taking hints from the critters....staying inside and laying low until it starts to cool down. WATER WATER WATER!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What a great SURPRISE!

So, back in February... I witnessed our two pigs being...ummm... friendly. I counted, calculated... and planned to have babies by the 7th or 8th of June. Well...that day came and went. I just figured it didn't take. I had actually considered looking for a new male, and having this one sent to butcher. So, when I went out to feed one evening, you can imagine my surprise to see our little Charlotte coming out of the hut, dragging "evidence" of giving birth. I ran to the hut to find this.....
Seven beautiful little piggies!! Healthy and happy. The runt is without a doubt, THE CUTEST!
That is her out there in the front by herself. She is at least HALF the size of her litter mates. They are now 6 days old and moving around a bit more. The other day I went out for evening feeding... to see one of the bigger piglets laying outside of the hut, on its side, eyes wide open... not moving. I grabbed the feed and put it out for momma and daddy...then went in to get the wee one. With a heavy heart.... I walked up on the baby...talking to it telling it I was sorry this had to happen. When I bent down to pick it up...that little pig jumped up.... squealed and took off running!!! I jumped back, almost ending on my back side. Silly little pigs! From now on, when one of them is "playing possum" I will poke it with a stick first! Haha. We have been pretty busy here, mainly trying to keep the critters with fresh water. The heat has been relentless! Temps in the low 90's with humidity levels in the 70% range. YUK! Although.... the garden is really loving this! I am going out every day and shoving the tomato plants back in the cages. Trying to keep them in cages is like trying to keep a pygmy buck in a chicken wire fence. NOT going to happen. Saturday I went out and snuck a few new potato's for supper. I put them in the crock pot with a jar of green beans and some bacon. Oh boy, that was delish. Our daughter came in for an overnight visit with her husband. It was great to be able to visit with them. We all went to our sons house on Saturday for a memorial cookout for our oldest son. I can't believe it has been 4 years since his passing. Seems like yesterday some days. I just love this time of year. The garden is really putting on a show.. and the canning has begun. As usual, the first thing to can are beets. I pulled these Monday, and canned them today. Only 4 pints, but its a start! I am OK with that.
The green peppers are being all weird. They are not getting taller, even though they are putting on peppers. Not sure what is up with that.
Doesn't look too promising. I am hoping they recover from whatever the issue is and put out a good crop. ALL of the pepper plants look like that. Tomorrow I will be planting the pumpkin and watermelon. I know it is a bit late for watermelon, but I am going to give it a try. So, with the canning season getting ready to start, I will be busy.. tired... and so happy! It only signifies that winter will be knocking on our door soon. *shivers*

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Baby it's HOT outside!

The weatherman is predicting 5 or 6 days straight in the low to mid 90's. You know what this means don't you? Getting outside as soon as the sun breaks, getting the animals out...and water.... water.... water! Not only for them, but for us as well. Don't forget your gardens... watch for stress. We have just about everything in our gardens mulched well...I just pull a little mulch back and see if there is still moisture in there. If not, I let the hose just run along the ground... easy peasy! With these hot temps though if I can get out early enough to hoe the garden, by noon the sun has cooked the roots of the weeds. YAY! I don't particularly like the heat so I will be spending most of the next few days inside, running out only to do an animal check, freshen waters, then back in the house for me. Freeze some water bottles for those bunnies...make sure they have air. Mine have fans to keep a good breeze on them. The hubby will be happy I am "stuck" inside...I think I will whip up some pork k-bobs for supper tonight. Maybe make a triple berry pie....nice and cold. For now, I need to go scoop up a few of those bantam babies and take them to go meet their new momma. Stay hydrated....and if you can, stay in the AC.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer is all about... what's next?

Through out winter months, we dream of warmer days, getting in the garden, feeling the sweat running down our backs with a smile on our face. Right? Does that sound about right to you? Well, not me personally. I for one do NOT like the sweltering heat. Nope, not even one little bit. With the heat comes bugs. Right now we are fighting the flies.... those little black winged terrors are persistent too! Yesterday the hubby and I spent almost ALL DAY outside. He, got on the riding mower... I flittered from job to job. After morning chores I went and picked off two 3 ft long branches from the willow trees. I had a friend tell me that you stab them in a potato and burry that in the ground, and they will root. So, I decided to give it a try. If all goes well, in 2 years the goats will have 2 nice shade trees that will provide sweet snacks. Oh, I planted them outside the fence but the girls stood there staring at those little twigs with want in their eyes. So, job one, done. Lets see what ELSE I can get into. I had a small piece of fencing that was not being I grabbed the wagon, hooked it to the lawn tractor and collected my supplies. Sledge hammer, a few T Posts, gloves, hand trowel and headed to the garden. There was an area in the garden that was not being used.. and there were volunteer tomato plants popping up everywhere. So I put up the fence piece about 10 ft long and dug up the tomato plants and transferred them. Swatting at the flies that demanded I give up my blood to them.. The wish is that these will be Roma's from last year... ( can I be that lucky? ) I hope so because there are 16 of them! Most likely though, they will come up as cherry tomato's. That's fine too though. Little red jewels to snack on while I am out there pulling weeds or whatever. Splash some water on them and I am finished with that little project. I look up to see hubby still mowing. So I take the lawn tractor over to the chicken coop. My step dad needed some outside work done yesterday since he can no longer get outside and do it. Hubby and I chopped and dug out 2 mulberry trees from his rose bed. They were HUGH! Filled the ruck bed and made for some very happy goats and sheep here. Back to the coop.... the chicken yards are just deep with "mulch" Every time I clean out the coops, I spread it on the yards. The chickens keep it stirred up and before I know it there is a deep layer of rich , dark, mulch, just begging me to scoop it up and put in the gardens. I took a few empty feed bags and filled them to half way. Oh boy, stirring up stink to get a smell made for some very busy flies over there. If that made the flies happy, they sure have a strange way to show it. They were biting my legs and back with the determination. We will put this on the rose garden over at my step dads. His roses will love it! I put the 4 bags in the shop until we can take it over there. Had to get it up before the rain came...and it did. As a matter of fact I hear rumbles of thunder out there now. So now that little task is finished. I look around, hubby is still mowing. I came inside to wash off, and get the ham in the oven. Back outside with my can of paint and brush in hand. Time to spruce up that tired old bird house. I was able to get a few coats on the post and house... before I had to just run away. The paint smell must have drawn the flies in... from the chicken coop... I was getting eaten up by them. Where is hubby?? Oh, yes, still mowing!! By now I decided he needed help! We have a LOT to mow I jump on my lawn tractor and get busy. There are areas we can not get to yet as they are still wet and muddy. Of course I thought I could....and before I know it am stuck. I was able to get the mower out but I am now covered in mud! Stinky, wet mud. And, what LOVES stinky wet mud!?? You guessed it... FLIES!! Holy crap these flies are relentless. If someone was to drive by they would think I was a raging lunatic! Driving the lawn tractor, arms flailing around above my head. What they wouldn't see would be those little black demons buzzing around. Oh, and these are not the little house flies. Nope, DEER FLIES! The ones that when they bite leave a nice little welt that itches like the dickens! I can take it no longer... I retreat to the house to "lick my wounds" I counted 7 bites in all. After getting cleaned up I get dinner going. Oh, hubby finished the mowing and trimming. He was exhausted as well. Oddly, not ONE fly bite on him! After supper I used the last of the strawberries in a pie. Our little strawberry patch did well this year. I am sad to know they are done for the season. After evening chores and showers.. we grabbed a big slice of that pie and a cup of coffee to end the day. What a productive day we had. So, now that the strawberries are done... what's next!? Mulberries. The trees are LOADED. I have already picked about 10 pounds of them and put them in the freezer for jelly making later. I would like to get another 10 pounds at least. We just love Mulberry jelly! If I can get another 10 pounds I will try my hand at making Mulberry syrup this year. Dreaming of cold winter mornings and a stack of fluffy pancakes with mulberry syrup just dripping off of them. I also plan to make s simple syrup and can a few pints for using in the winter months in pies and on cakes. Next up?? I believe will be the Beets I believe. Or maybe Elderberries? They seem to be doing great! So many blooms means there should be a great harvest. IF I can beat the birds to them, and I am able to fight off the deer flies. It is time to get out there and see what else I can get into today. The weather man said the temps will be in the 90's for the next few days. Me and the dogs will be lazing in the house, with the AC blasting.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Full moon.... Friday the 13th... are you Superstitious?

Superstitious ... What a word. Are you?? I for one am not. I believe everything happens for a reason... good or bad. It is all about life's lessons. It is all about how you want to look at it. Stuff happens. That's just how life is. Like today..... I needed to take the "big" dog into the vet to get weighed and get his flea meds. Oh boy. Lesson number one... this boy needs better training!! Lesson number two... he needs to go on more truck rides. This big 61 pound Golden retriever mix, crunched up in a shaking ball of flying fur, ( seriously, it is everywhere in my truck now) on the floor board of my S 10 truck. Drooling...shaking...eyes begging me to stop the "torture" *sigh* Once we got to the vet, he was a perfect angel! Walked in the door like he owned the place. Happy to see everyone...and with a treat, was able to get him on the big scary scale that moved. Picked up his meds...then back to the "wheels of death" Took me a few minutes to get him loaded back up. Once I did, back to the floor board. So I decided to treat him to a hamburger....yeah! That would make him happy....feel that everything is OK. So, I get his burger, and pull over in the parking lot. The smell of it was enough to lure him out of his hiding place...long enough to take the small bites I gave him. Then, started the truck and back to the floor he went. Once we got home, I decided I would take him on a walkabout on the we could talk to the other animals. Well, those big black "evil" pigs stood up! HOW DARE THEY! He jumped back...looked at me like I was crazy.. and hid behind me. I kept sidestepping.. so did he. He was not interested on those pigs at all. Just wanted to get away from them. At least he stayed by my side. That's a good thing....right!?? Then we met the chickens. No interest there... that was good to know. The geese were loud and hissy... he watched with amazement. Now, lets go meet the sheep and goats. When we get to the fence, the Ewe ran up to greet me....or maybe to save me from the "wolf" She did NOT like the dog. He, was afraid of her. We all talked through the fence...he sat by my side as I talked and scratched them both. Time to go IN the pasture. After a few seconds of reassuring him it was OK... and the fact that he saw a cat in there.... he walked in with me. UNFORTUNATELY.... The Ewe, Laura, thought she needed to "protect me from the wolf" She ran up on him, he dashed away... Laura stood by my side... looking up at me as if to say.. " I did good mom, your safe now" Maybe I need to train the sheep instead of the dog! I was able to shoo the ewe back, and get the dog to go meet the goats. They wanted to see him... he wanted nothing to do with them. *sigh* guess I will not be using him for farm work. So the gardens are weeded...and growing great! Green beans are climbing. Tomatoes about the size of chicken eggs...cucumbers are starting to climb... potato's are in full bloom. The house is clean...most of the laundry done...I think after my trip to town with the big dog...I will just take a myself. Maybe put the hammock back up and grab a good book! Yeah, that sounds like a GOOD plan!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This one a little different.

As I sat here this morning, waking up, reading E Mail.. I was reflecting on the happenings of yesterday. One thing I had thought of as a victory but really... is it!? How do you classify a "victory" ? A little history, so as not to confuse you. Over by my barn we have 4 small "paddocks" that we use to rotate the animals through. The one paddock, furthest from the barn is where we house Fred, the little Pygmy buck. However, his area is super wet, boggy even and just outside the fence there is standing water MOST of the year. I had figured out where it was coming from... the neighbors septic. Their leach lines run onto our property and "flood" that area. I contacted the land owner and asked her to come look at it, and see if she would rectify the situation. NOT going to happen. This land owner is quite happy when she has a belly full of liquor and can quickly be set off on a tangent. She and I have had our run in's before over property lines and fencing. (She cut down a few of our Mulberry trees near the line) So, back to the issue. I had talked to her a few days ago, again asking her to take care of this. Her response was... "Maybe you need to put more dirt in there" , " It was not HER problem that MY animals caused it" , and...the best one... "Maybe you just need to move your animals" Seeing that I was not getting anywhere with her, I put a call in to the Board of Health. I wanted them to come out and inspect the area to confirm or deny if it was indeed her septic. The property in question is a rental. The family that rents this are dear friends of mine. We do a lot of things together helping each other out, going fishing, Mushroom hunting... just really a great relationship. So I really wanted the landlord to fix it without contacting the Board of Health. See, if they wanted to, they could make the renters move out until the problem was taken care of. I don't want that to happen. I just don't want my animals standing in their septic waste. Well, the inspector came out saw the standing water and confirmed it was from their septic. He said he would contact the land owner and let her know it was a BIG issue, and that she would have to fix it once the rains stopped. So, this is what I call a victory. I had proved my point and won the battle. But, really.... how do I feel about it!? I mean, yes I was right and now the problem will be taken care of but this will indeed cause a slight hardship to the owner. I do NOT like being the cause of someone else's hardships. If she would have only been a bit more co-operative, we could have settled this between us without her having to have inspections and go through all of the paperwork it will take. Yes, she did bring this upon herself by not working with me on this... but still.. it is a bitter sweet feeling for me. Another thing that happened yesterday...our old whether ram passed away. He was a rescue we took in a few years ago, with another Ram who was not altered. The Ram, who we named Rambo had found a wonderful home on a farm where he will have a herd of his own. We decided to keep the other one here because of his age and condition. Bo had cataract's in both eyes, arthritis, and was just slow in his old age. I felt he would be better off living in the smaller paddocks here, than to be homed where he would have several acres to maneuver through. He was happy here, getting scratches daily and he really loved his treats of Peanuts. RIP Bo, I know you are now running through green pastures, pain free. Here on the farm when a large animal passes we are limited to ways to "take care of" the carcass. Burying them here really is not an option because of the high water table and we do not have the heavy equipment to dig a large hole. So, I have to be practical.... and either have the body picked up, or take it in myself. In the past I have called and had them picked up. This company charges $65 to come get them, however if I take it to them, it is free. I decided to take this one in. With the help of the neighbor, we loaded Bo into my truck and set out. It was a 45 minute drive through a few small towns and country roads. The weather was nice, and the drive was pretty, which helped easy my mind to the task at hand. Once we arrived I was overcome by the smell. Sure, I knew there would be a smell, but WOW! I gagged the entire time waiting on them to unload my truck, and then gagged as we drove away. I am so glad this is over with though. This part of farming is the hardest. Losing any animal, farm or pet, is not easy. Today I will busy my mind with inside tasks as storms are supposed to rule the day. I would rather be outside working the gardens or just spending time around the critters here... but my duties inside need to be taken care of.. and when the weather is harsh I bury myself in household chores. So, I am off to clean, reorganize, and to reflect on yesterday. How do you spend your rainy days? Cleaning inside? Baking? or with a good book curled up in your favorite chair with a blanket?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Strawberries and storms.

So, I am pretty sure we are winding down on the strawberries. When we first started picking they were large..and plentiful. I was picking between 3 and 4 quarts a day! Strawberry overload...but I was not complaining. We absolutely love those little red jewels. I put up 25 jars of jam and still have about 4 quarts in the fridge. Hubby has been eating them as fast as he can. So, this morning I decided it was time to make that delicious cake I shared the other day. I didn't have the round pans...but overcome and conquer... I just used a rectangle pan then cut it in half. Worked out great!
The only problem now is... the hubby doesn't get home until after 4 pm so now it is sitting in the fridge...tantalizing me. MUST STAY AWAY FROM THE FRIDGE!! So, we have been having quite a bit of rain which made the garden take off! I bet those beets grew 3 inches in 2 days! Unfortunately so did the weeds. So, on the days we are not getting rain, I am pulling weeds in between the daily chores. This last round of rains has also helped the Mulberry trees. They are just starting to ripen. Soon I will be making more jelly. Mulberry is one of MY personal favorites. The next inside project, on rainy days, will be to empty the pantry of all of last years canning. We will take it upstairs and put it on the hutch in the dining room. This way I can clean the pantry out really well and get it ready to accept this years canning. It won't be long.... we will be in a canning frenzy before you know it. I can't wait!!