Friday, September 30, 2011

Growing Up

Isn't Casper turning into quite a handsome fellow?

His mama makes some mighty fine milk!  He is going to produce a lot of prime beef!
He and Toothless have become fine barn yard friends!

Toothless is still on the bottle.  Just two feeds of 2 litres each per day now, but he's not planning to give them up any time soon!  Every couple of weeks we try to skip one, and wait until he starts bellowing for milk.  Sometimes he forgets, and lets me think he's ready to wean.  Then the next day he bellows repeatedly, all day long, claiming he hasn't been fed until we give him a third bottle.

Sweet little Nelly, a year and a half old,
is turning into such a pretty little heifer!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bullwinkle Leaves the Farm

Mama raised another fine young son, and it was time for him to move on.  At six months old he was starting to get pretty frisky.  Time to move on before we risk incest.

He drew quite a bit of attention at the auction.  He's such a handsome young fellow.  He sold for $150.  A very nice profit.  #1 was extremely happy with that!

And after a few days, Mama stopped searching for her little boy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Turkey Time

The first three went to the chopping block.  The first one, because she had injured her leg and wasn't moving very well.  then two others, because it's a lot of work getting everything set up and ready for the kill.  I didn't think they were quite big enough yet.

My water tub has sprung a little bit of a leak.  Not bad, but still, it needs to be repaired.  Bring the water up to just below a boil.

Then swish the headless turkey around in the water by the feet for about 30 seconds.

Start with the wing tips and the tail feathers while the bird is hot.  They're much easier to pull out that way.  Then work your way around the bird.  The little quills are the worst.  These birds were covered, with the season about to change, they're trying to get ready for winter too.
Slice around the anus carefully, stick your hand in and pull out the inards.

The injured one was the smallest of the three, and she wouldn't fit in my roasting pan.  hmmm.  I guess they were bigger than I thought.  The other two took two big rice bags each, duct taped together, to cover.  I'm going to have to do some shopping and see what I can find for storage bags.  Wow.  I didn't weigh these ones.  we were half way through plucking when I remembered that I had planned to dig out my scale before we started.  Definitely big!

Two in the freezer, one in the belly.  Three we're keeping to breed.  12 to go.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hay Days & A Barn Facelift

We did hay this year with our neighbours up the road. Their farm, their hay, their equipment, our labour.
Weather was wonky, as usual, and there were some equipment failures in the beginning, but by the end of August we had hay coming in, and still no hay shed.

That worked out ok though, since we were able to stand on the hay while we did construction.  Easier than a ladder when you're weilding large beams.  Skids on the ground for a floor, logs, poles, and spikes for construction materials, and plastic for the roof.
 #2 decided to replace that old board they've been climbing over for the past four years with a real gate.  That'll make feeding much easier this winter.  He's such a good kid, worrying about his mama like that.

The hay kept coming.  Awesome.  553 bales in the end.  We'll need to build another hay shed for next year.  For this year, we have two stacks piled under tarps.  We're already feeding a bit of hay now, as the grass in the pasture is getting pretty sparse.  Most of these stacks will probably be gone before winter really sets in.

The last load was just me and the littles in September.  The bigs had gone back to highschool.
Earlier this year husband used the tractor to push the barn back up on it's foundation.  It's getting kind of old, and, unfortunately, was not constructed well to begin with, made out of 2X4s and pressboard mostly.  It had never been painted, the pressboard was peeling, and the bottom was rotted out.  And the critters knocked the doors off AGAIN!
We added a couple rows of 1X6s to the bottom of each side to patch the holes and strengthen the base.  Then I started on the paint job.  #3 and #4 helped out the first day, cause you know, it's always fun to paint on the FIRST day...

I couldn't quite reach that patch on the top with the ladder I was using.  I had taken the big ladder back to the house to work on the chimney.  I figured I'd just get that later, instead of carting the ladder back and forth.  Wouldn't you know it though- it's rained every day since I finished the chimney.  The patch remains unpainted.
The back side of the barn doesn't have as much slope on the ground, so I was able to get all the way to the top.

I painted the north side of the barn beige a couple of years ago.  That's where the hay lean-to is.  I'll give it a fresh coat of paint in the spring.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Garden Update V - Frosty

Greenhouse 2 went under construction mid August.  Husband, #2, and #3 did an awesome job once again!

We put the plastic on and started adding manure.  This winter both greenhouses will be testing the slope of the roof and the strength of the plastic.  Greenhouse 1 wasn't plasticked until this spring.  This may allow me an early crop of lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach, if the plastic holds.
We got our first dose of frost on September 6th, which is better than most years.  We covered the beans for the first week or so, but the cooler temperatures slowed production significantly.  The last picking yielded only one bucket from the 6 rows.  Not worth the extra work covering and uncovering daily at that rate.

I picked three buckets of seed green beans from the end of the row plants that I had stopped picking earlier in the season.  I still have the greenhouse seeds to pick as well.  I'm pretty sure it'll be more seed than I originally put in the ground. 

Meanwhile, the turkeys have been growing like crazy, eaten every bit of grass and greenery from their pen except the raspberry bushes, and watching me like little hawks in the garden.

I cut the dividing fence and set them free.  They were overjoyed.
Broccoli and cauliflower were quickly their favourite eats.  Both had survived the frost just fine, but I had nearly all the broccoli picked off already, and quickly cut those that remained.  The cauliflower never produced.  Possibly too hot and dry this summer.  We'll try again next year.

And then we started pulling this wonderful harvest of beets.  Our best year yet!  3 1/2 buckets from two rows, with another 3 rows to pull.  Awesome!

There are still carrots, onions, and potatoes to harvest as well.  Tomatoes are ripening in the greenhouse.  Brussel sprouts are coming along.  I'm holding off on picking the peppers still.  There are several peppers on each plant, but they're still quite small.  One greenhouse cauliflower formed a head, and most of the broccoli has been picked.  Herbs need to be picked and dried.

The frost killed the pumpkin and squash plants.  Some of the pumpkins froze, and went mushy, so immediately went to chicken feed.  The rest were brought in the house, but as they go mushy they're going out to the chickens as well.  I don't think there will be any for human consumption this year.  Dissapointing with those huge plants that were taking over the greenhouse.  I had better pumpkins from the smaller plants last year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our chimney had seen better days. Last winter it had caused us a lot of trouble with no draw.  Smoke backflowing into the basement.  No heat!
It was crumbling in spots when we moved in, and of course, it's gotten worse over the past four years.

I started by breaking the bricks loose from the mortar with a chisel and a hammer.  In some spots- no hammer required.  It just crumbled.  The upper portion here was the last repair done by the previous owner.  I cursed him as I took it apart.  There were broken bricks, and huge chunks of mortar where bricks should have been.  I figured that was the cause of the decay.

Once I had it all apart I cleaned the old bricks to see what was reusable.
Then I mixed a batch of mortar and started rebuilding the chimney.  Then I understood the problem.  The newer bricks from the last repair were all too big.  There was no way to fit them around the chimney tile without leaving big spaces.  What a mess.

I went to Home Hardware with one of the original bricks.  Who knew buying bricks would be so difficult?  They had "nothing that size".  I went out to take a look.  They had no bricks at all.  Stupid square patio stones.  I needed to fix the chimney, not a walk way.

I asked them to order me some bricks.  The lady didn't know what kind of bricks they were.  Just regular clay bricks.  The size is what's important.  She measured my brick and called her supplier in Quebec.  After several minutes on the phone, they established that I was looking for Ontario Standard bricks.  They should be in in a week.  Two weeks later, when I hadn't heard from them, I went in to see if they had my bricks.  Different lady.  I wasn't listed in the computer.  There was no brick order, either arrived or pending.  She called the other lady.  They broke my bricks.  When they were unloading the truck they dropped the skid and smashed them all.  Do I want them to reorder them?

Are you freaking kidding me?  My chimney is ripped apart, winter is coming, and it didn't occur to these people to at least call and explain?  Yes, reorder the frickin' bricks.

Another two weeks passed, again no phone call, but this time when I went in, they had my bricks.  Yee haw- home to fix the chimney!

It took about 5 days - 3 to 4 hours a day to get it done.  #3 and #4 worked diligently, lifting an old paint can tied to a rope, one brick at a time, half a bucket of mortar at a time, from the ground to the chimney.  We dragged the hose up on the roof so I could mix the mortar from there.
I added a piece of old stove pipe around the top, where part of the tile was broken off.  Wore the skin right off my index finger filling in the chinks at the end, but it's all done now, and ready for winter!

 The view from the ground, with the cap on.