Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden Update III

Remember when I started planting the greenhouse? Remember all that open space?  See that tiny little 'cucumber' in the corner, in front of the bucket?  The baby tomato?  The little cauliflowers and brussel sprouts?
See how well they were doing?  See how the beans started coming in?  See how I started to doubt the cucumberyness of that corner plant?
See how everything grew and filled in, and the 'not a cuke' started to scare me?
See how I tied up the 'not a cuke', the tomatoes got bushy, and the little pumpkins in the front were doing really well?
See how I cut it down from the roof, opened the wall and pulled it outside?  See how it's growing big orange flowers and little green balls?  See how it's a pumpkin on some sort of steroids?
See how massive everything has become?  Both sides are open.  The other plant- the two seeds in the greenhouse floor through a hole in the ground cloth that probably won't even sprout so I didn't write it down but I think it was a squash- it tried taking over the other side.  I pulled it out through the other wall too.  I had a little pumpkin in between the broccoli and tomatoes, so I pulled it around to head for the outside.
See the baby cauliflower now?  See the corn on the left, and the tomato tree at the back?  See how there's no room to walk?

Notes for next year- cauliflower and broccoli down the centre.  Vines on the outside walls.  Cage all of the tomatoes!  Leave some foot room!!!

Meanwhile, outside in the garden...
If I could just keep up with the weeds...

We've had weeks of heat and high humidity this year.  The garden is amazing!

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Turkey Killers

The turkeys are growing great.  They're eating lots of grass, weeds, and really enjoying the comfrey, which is apparently good for them and high in protein.  They're also eating a mixture of corn and commercial duck grower.  The duck grower is high in protein, but cheaper to buy than turkey grower.  It's also non-medicated.

They're friendly little guys.  Maybe a little too friendly.

I bought a pair of ducks at the auction.  They moved in with the turkeys.  There was some arguing between the drake and goose for the first few days.  The hen is laying an egg a day, but she's not setting on them.  Her former owner took her eggs and put them in an incubator.  we're sticking them under chickens. :-)

So everything was going really well.  Until I did a head count one night as we were putting them away.  22.  Three turkeys were missing.

We found one body that night.  It was only about 15 feet away from the turkey shack, still in the pen.  It had a small hole in the chest, and it's heart and some of the innards were missing.  I was thinking weasel.  A fox would have taken the whole bird.

#2 was my go to guy for peeing on the fence.  Human urine reeks to wild critters, making them think twice before entering the premises.  Since he's been away at camp for nearly three weeks, the pee supply has gone down.  I've asked #3 and #4 to pee on the fence when they're out there, but for some reason they've been playing shy.

We found the other two bodies the next day.  The boys did a few patrols with Waldo, in the hopes of scaring off the vermin, and spreading our scent along the fence line.  No luck.  Another dead body that night.

Then my dad spotted the culprit as he was driving by.  An owl.  We kept the turkeys in longer in the morning and put them to bed earlier at night.  That only worked for one day.  The owl was out waiting for them one morning at 11 am.  We scared him off, but he had killed another turkey by 3 pm.

In all he's killed 6 turkeys.  This morning we got him.  Now to wait and see if he has a mate and if she plans to be turkey hunting.  For now we're keeping the turkeys locked up, except when I am in the garden with the .22 handy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shiny New Shoes

The farrier was out last week.  Tori got a bit of a trim, and Knightmare got her first trim in quite some time.  She needs to be redone in a few weeks.  Her hooves were so bad that he couldn't even trim them all the way.  She's got blood vessels running through the sides of her hooves right now where it would normally be trimmed off.  Nasty.

She is feeling better now, after the first trim.  More spunky.

Knightmare is a bit of a nightmare.  He did some training with her, and he figures she was probably green broke, once upon a time, and then left in a stall or out on pasture for a few years. She needs some work.  Luckily, he's accepted the job.  After #1 and #2 get back from camp, he'll start coming out for an hour a week.  They'll have to learn how to do the ground schooling, and then work with her every day between his sessions.  He doesn't think it'll take too much retraining, mostly she's just testing everyone to see what she can get away with. 

Over all, I still think she was a good investment.  She's put on quite a bit of weight, and has some great muscle tone developing in her rear end.  She doesn't bite, and it's not her instinct to kick.  Once she's saddle safe she'll be a fine horse.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jam Slam 2011- Strawberry Jam

Since the strawberry jam made with store bought US berries went over so well last year, I decided to make another batch when strawberries were on sale a couple of weeks ago.

Strawberry Jam

2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. (I used the magic bullet for this batch, so it's not quite a puree).  In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. (Don't leave the kitchen.  It will boil over instantly!!)  Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C). Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath. (I didn't).
4 pints
3 1/2 pints

If I get another batch of strawberries this year, along with some jalapenos, I'd like to try this recipe.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Day In The Life

Woke up late today - 8:30 am.

Made a batch of calf milk replacer.  Sent #4 out to feed the calf. 

Washed dishes as I struggled to shake the foggies from my head.

9:00 am - did chores.  Filled water barrels.  Fed chickens, turkeys, ducks, goose.  Watered all.  Checked on the brooder box hen.  Still setting.  Fed dogs.  Sent #3 out with dogs to walk through turkey pen.  Three are missing.  Found one body in the pen with a small hole in the chest, and heart and innards missing.  Hung out the laundry.

10:00 am - made a new batch of doggie stew.  6 cups of rice, some sandwich meat that was dried out in the fridge, a left over chicken leg, four eggs, and a big bunch of dandelion greens.

10:30 am - made up a batch of poly filla and went upstairs to work on #1 and #2's room.  Filled holes.  Sent #3 and #4 into their room with scrapers to work on the floor.  The carpet padding stuck to the floor in chunks when we pulled the carpet out.  Got water bucket and cleaning cloth.  Washed walls in #3 & #4's room.  Taught #4 how to multiply while we worked.  Practiced, quizzed, and worked on memorization up to 3 times table.  More poly filla.  Filled holes in their room.

11:00 am - sent #4 out to feed calf.

1:00 pm - broke for lunch.  Visited with brother.  Got invited for BBQ tonight.  Sent #4 out with dogs to walk around turkey pen.  And pee.  Pee on the fence little boy!

2:00 pm - washed more dishes.  Fed calf.  Put away clean plastic bags.  Washed dirty plastic bags.

3:00 pm - more poly filla.  Ripped tape off hole in the wall on #1's side of the room.  Took pictures.  The previous owner had to cut out part of the wall on each side of the room to install beams in my room, to stop the ceiling/floor from caving in.  He taped over the edges of the drywall, and this is the first repair job since.  It's taking a lot of poly filla, and time, waiting for it to dry.  Filled most of #2's side, one more coat should do it.  Took computer break.  Started typing this post.

4:00 pm - picked rhubarb.  Weeded and mulched asparagus.  Started weeding pumpkins, but it started raining.  Went to work in the greenhouse instead.  Weeded greenhouse and moved the monster cucumber plant.  (It's not a cucumber.  Pumpkin, I think).  I tied it up on the logs.  It was taking over the whole greenhouse, smothering the beans and tomatoes.  I tied it up to the boards and logs.  Hopefully the beans will recuperate.  I have one little pepper growing and lots of flowers on the beans and tomatoes.

5:00 pm - put away turkeys.  Fed calf.  Tied up the dogs. 

5:30 pm - Went to dinner at my brother & sil's.

8:00 pm - Home again.  Put away chickens.  Fed calf.  Fed dogs.  Refilled doggie stew pot.  Talked to boys at camp.  Headed to bed.

Growing calves

Casper is growing into a fine little steer, nice and solid.  Dorie is a good mommy.
She babysits, too.  She didn't know quite what to make of Toothless when we moved him into the pasture, about a week after he arrived.  But after a couple of days she seemed to think he was alright.  We're not sure if she lets him nurse at all, but he has been accepted into the herd.

At three weeks old he's just starting to graze, and he has definitely gained some height. 

He's drinking 4L 6 times a day.  The instructions on the bag- 4L twice a day.  He'd starve at that rate.

He comes to the gate and moos if we're late.  He's a hungry boy.  We decided not to castrate him, but rather to keep him intact to service the girls next summer.  He's quite beefy in the neck and shoulders, although he's rather long legged.  He'll still be going in the freezer next fall, but here's hoping he'll be an agreeable bull next summer.

We should be buying a bull for this year soon.  Just a yearling, to service the girls and then go in the freezer in the fall.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chirp, chirp

After 3 months of setting, one of our 5 broody hens finally managed to hatch a chick!  There were some unfortunate issues with kids taking eggs after the hens had been setting on them for a couple of weeks or more.  We finally solved them by marking the eggs they were supposed to leave with big X's on both sides.

This morning I went out to the chicken coop and found this little one running around on the floor.
He had at least a 2 foot drop from the nesting boxes to the floor.  He's a survivor.  I scooped him up and showed him to all of the hens, but no one seemed interested.
"No, no thank you.  Not my baby."

Two of the hens had broken egg shells, but both looked more like they had been cracked and eaten than hatched.  I took him to the brooder box.  He was warmed up in no time, but lonely.

I finally decided that one of the gray's should be his mother.  They've been setting the longest.  So we moved the one who had a broken shell, along with all of her eggs, to the brooder box, where she promptly had a fit.  She settled down after a bit, and settled in on top of her eggs, with the little peeper tucking himself in under her as well.
She seems to have accepted him without a problem.  Hopefully she'll be a good mommy, even if he wasn't hers.