Sunday, May 29, 2011

First-Ever Livestock Tailgate Sale

We've really arrived in our corner of the Hudson Valley.  Not only are we expecting a brand new Tractor Supply (oh yeah!!), but we just had our first ever livestock tailgate sale in the local Agway's parking lot. 
Did I go?

Do you even have to ask?

It was small, but still awesome.  I was just thrilled to have had it being held here, you know?  'Bout time someone recognized that there are farmers right around here.  It was moderately busy, which is good news.  There were lots of chickens (I was good--I didn't even look), bunnies, and ducks.  Someone had peafowl, and one person had Nubians.  I'm not ready, but hell, I was SO tempted.  I got her name and number for next year.  She'll be hearing from me, for sure.

I went to find a bunny.  We still have Robert and Petunia, but this is what's been going on:

They've been shacking up.

Ok, maybe that's not the whole story.  Turns out, Robert and Petunia were canoodling for quite a while.  One would hop over the center divide in the hutch and they'd be together.  I'd separate them, and then the other one would hop over the divide and they'd be together again.  Eventually, I just gave up.  If Petunia was going to get pregnant, it would have happened long ago, so there was really no point in separating them after the fact.  However, she never got pregnant.  And then "she" started mounting Robert. 

Know where I'm going with this?

Yeah, so "Petunia" is not a Petunia, after all.  Though he hid it REALLY well, from me and the guy I bought him from, Petunia has got a penis and Petunia is not a girl.  The story of my life right now, really.  Make that strike two on my part--Emmit was strike one.  I'm still learning, let's just leave it at that. 

Anywho, "Petunia" is in no danger of becoming pregnant (obviously) and it seems the boys really like to be together, so now they live together.  Petunia has been renamed Bunnicula, and he couldn't care less.  It's worked out well for several weeks now, so what's done is done.  However, it left one side of the hutch uninhabited, which is uncool, since I like to use all the real estate available to me all the time.  Plus, rabbits are pretty cheap to feed, so I figured what the heck?  I'll go shopping.

In a cage FULL of New Zealands at the sale, a sea of big white bunnies, there she was.

A gorgeous orange baby. 

That was it for me, folks.  Look at those ears!!  Like satellite dishes.  She's beautiful.  I know she's a rabbit meant for eating, but that ain't gonna happen.  I am smitten.  The man I bought her from was positive she's a she, and I checked (that's not worth much, but hey), so she's Petunia.  Gorgeous girl that she is.

The boys would LOVE to get their fuzzy paws on her, but no way.  She's off limits.  Get over it, boys!
"Hey pretty lady!  You busy later??  We can show you around our hutch!  You like alfalfa?  We like alfalfa.  Come on up, we'll talk about it."
I went through the rest of the sale, and wound up buying a couple of ducks to add to the bevy.  Unplanned ducks.  You know how that goes.  Turns out my husband, who I would say tolerates my growing army of livestock (he's not a farmer kind of guy) actually really likes the ducks.  I had no idea.  He thinks they are funny, because they are so vocal (they are all girls, with the exception of Charles).
Handsome, but silent. 
And they are.  Jane, Phoebe, and Suzie form a "raiding party" on a daily basis and chase after the geese, which is freaking hilarious.
Bowling pins with bills.  The three amigos.
So yeah, I get it.  Being the dutiful wife that I am, and wanting to encourage his love of farming as much as possible, I bought him a couple of ducks.

They are a Khaki Campbell cross, and thankfully (and this was the selling point), they are old enough to not need brooding.  With 22 chickens in the brooder right now and a few Guinea fowl on the way in a week or so, I don't have room.  Plus, ducks are pigs to brood.  

The one on the right in this picture is Lizzie, named by my husband, since they were for him.  She's 8 or 9 weeks old, by my reckoning.  The one on the left is unnamed as of yet, as we're waiting to see if it's a he or she.  I flipped him/her, and didn't see anything, but sometimes waterfowl don't want to give it up.  Right now, I'd say girl.  But we'll see.  Or hear, rather.  I know Lizzie's a Lizzie because wow, she's got plenty to say.

Nicely, the girls we have already, though they do not like wild Mallards, welcomed the new recruits with open wings.
Oh, heeeeyyyyyy buddy!

Acclimating them to one another was a non-issue--they are one unit all together.  It's all good. 

So, we've increased our farm's numbers again, happily.  The place just gets louder all the time.  :)

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

And the Nest Sits Empty

We've come to the conclusion of the Ginger saga.

Ginger sat, pretty much alone, for 30 days.  She fluffed her nest, she turned her eggs, she got down very rarely.  Unfortunately, it was to no avail.  For a long time, I would try to see in her eggs.  I put them on the candler not long ago, and I couldn't see a thing.  I thought this was a good sign.  But then today, the eggs really started to smell.  So I took them, little by little, and candled them in different positions until I could finally see through them.

It was not pretty.

No air sac, no sign of life.  Just putrid liquid.  They were all the same.  Since they smelled pretty bad on the outside, I could only imagine what they'd smell like on the inside.  I didn't want to take the chance.  I walked them, a few at a time, to the wooded side of the property, and broke them open.

Why?  Because I had to see what was inside, that's why.  Closure, you can call it.

Well, I can tell you, it was green and slimy, and holy cow, the smell almost made me toss my cookies.  I am glad I didn't throw them in the garbage.  And I'm very glad I walked them to a far end of the property. 

All that remains of Ginger's eggs
So, not the ending I was hoping for.  As for Ginger, she saw me take the last egg right from underneath her, and she didn't bat an eye.  She got down soon after it was removed, and joined the gaggle again.  She did go check quickly on the nest once or twice afterwards, but I think it was out of habit more than anything else.   She seemed pretty happy to be eating and moving around normally again. 

She's very young--not even a year old.  It would have been a real surprise if this had worked out.  Still, I am disappointed for her.  She tried really hard.  Maybe next year.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

5 Days and Counting

Poor Ginger. 

Sitting on her nest all by herself for days and days and days now.  For maybe the first two or so weeks, she had an assistant.  Mostly Ferdi, who seemed to be the daddy in waiting.  He would stand and protect her from the evils of the Pilgrims and me, and the kids, and my husband, and a passing shadow or bug or what have you.  But he abandonded her. 

As the Pilgrims grew, he saw them less as a nuisance and more 
Wait for me, kids!!
He seems to have adopted them.  He goes where they go, and now he defends them from me, the kids, my husband, or a passing shadow or bug or what have you.  Either that, or he's going through some mid-life crisis sort of thing, where, instead of buying a sporty car, he just "hangs out" with the younger set to retain his youth.  Sad. 

Then, for a short, short time, Arthur took up the post.  He would stand, though in a less dedicated way, next to Ginger and defend her from no one in particular.  Actually, he was terrible at it.  He would just stand there and keep her company.  It was something, though.

But then the little Africans started going outside, and Arthur got all maternal. 

Arthur is with his "babies" 24/7.  He calls for them, they come to him.  They call for him, and on and on.  With his new babies in tow, Arthur quickly abandoned Ginger as well.

Poor Ginger.

It seems she's doomed to single-motherhood.  It does not seem to phase her, though.  She just sits and sits and sits.  She gets down every so often, and when she does, she goes right back in the gaggle and is welcomed with open wings.  But more often than not, she sits alone and gets to see this:
Wheee!!!  Swimming fun!

And can't participate. 

Poor Ginger.

Being a momma is a tough row to hoe.

(PS--I did candle her eggs yesterday, when she got down for a jaunt.  It is very hard to see through the shell on a goose egg, but I could see that two of them I could see through, meaning they never got fertilized, but four of them I could not see through at all.  I think that's a good sign.  The last time I looked at them, the four of them had a smaller area of dark, so it looks like whoever's home, grew.  I think that possibly she's got something there.  I really hope so, for her sake.  She's worked so hard.)
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Here Comes the Rain Again

And I'm indoors.  Between the bouts of rain, I get some things done outside, but not everything I'd like.  So, I'm trying to make the most of it--I went back into my sewing room.

And made ANOTHER apron!
(forgive the crummy pictures)
One side

Other side

This one is Scalloped Apron from the Paisley Pincushion.  I will say this for it: great directions, absolutely a pleasure to put together.  However, the sizes are a bit extreme.  If you're not a B, you're an A, and the jump in the sizes is pretty big.  I made the A because I like a little room in my aprons, but it's really huge on me.  So I have a lot of room. The shoulders don't fall down, though, so that's a huge plus.  I can't be bothered to pull my apron up every ten seconds when I'm working.  That defeats the purpose of the apron.

There you have it.  I'm keeping busy(ish).  Now I need to spend some time looking at ways to display these babies.  I've got quite the collection going!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And Now, A Recipe

Spring means I don't come inside too often, and any large scale cooking is not right on the menu.  However, yesterday we got a new stove, so I wanted to make something nice to christen it.  I decided on strawberry pie, which is fantastic.  I thought I'd share the recipe with you. 
Strawberry Pie

1 recipe for a 9-inch single crust pie
Find yourself a nice crust recipe. It makes all the difference, and it's so easy to make!

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter
1 pinch ground nutmeg

4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp cornstarch

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  Make the topping:  In a bowl, mix until fluffy 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 6 tbsp butter, and nutmeg.
3.  Place strawberries in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and cornstarch.  Pour this on top of the strawberries and mix gently to coat them.

4.  Pour berries into pie crust, mounding them in the center.  Cover berries with crumb topping and top the crumbs with some pea sized blobs of butter.  Wrap edges of pie crust to prevent burning.

5.  Put a pan in under the pie to catch the drips.  Bake pie in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 375 and bake for an additional 40 minutes.
6.  Take out and let cool.

The new oven did a lovely job!!

This pie is best eaten cold, to tell the truth.  If you let it set, the flavors all gel together, and it is FABULOUS!!!
Drippy, gooey, strawberry yumminess!!
I love pie.  There's another confession for you.  I have a chicken addiction, I love and eat too much bread, and I love, love, love, pie.  This one is one of my favorites. 

Strawberry deliciousness! 

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Monday, May 9, 2011


When we started with our livestock last year, we had two small houses for them to live in.  Ten chickens fit into a small coop, and two geese fit into a small house (yes, I house my geese and ducks).  This was plenty.  However, we were increasing the flock, and therefore needed to increase the housing.  The first house to build was a goose house.  It needed to be bigger to accommodate the increased number of geese, and then the smaller house could be used for the ducks, which are a smaller flock (both in size and number). 

I got to work on the goose house, and I learned from my many mistakes building the first small shelter last year.  This one turned out significantly better.  Sturdy, level, better planned out.  After fussing with it and painting it an outrageous color, it was done and I was very happy with it.

Don't mind the empty windowboxes--I'm not allowed to plant anything in them, even fake flowers.  The geese are offended by all that stuff, apparently, and they rip it all out with gusto.
Though I do not enjoy building things (oooh--that admission will probably get me disowned--sorry mom), I like making them look nice, and since I have to look at this house every day and I can see it from many places in the backyard, I want to look at something pretty.  So it's pretty.  But it made the other, older house look much, much worse.

To be fair, I had NO idea what I was doing when I built that other house--I hardly know what I'm doing now.  And I re-used a lot of things, including the plywood on the outside.  The house had a patched look from where all the plywood met (or didn't quite meet) up, and the roof went like this: / and the door went like that: \.  So no, none of it was level and it was really sad looking.  I have avoided taking pictures of it at all costs, and that's why you don't see any here today.

The house went on being sad looking, but I ignored it because it worked.  Ducks were housed, ducks were safe and dry, and that was all I needed.  I would have liked to have knocked it down and started over again, but that gets expensive and I still have more housing to build.  Yes, I knew how crappy it looked-it would be hard to miss.  And yes, it did bother me.  So yesterday I decided finally do something (reasonable) about it.  I decided to paint it and freshen it up.  Then I decided to try to hide the roof line that does this: /.  Then I got on a roll and went all crazy with a paint brush and some left over plywood and glass and a couple of tools and came up with this:

You can still see the sloping roofline if you look above the trim, but don't tell anyone I told you so.

It'll never grace the cover of a magazine, but it's definitely better.  Most importantly, though I do like things to look nice, they have to function, and this baby still functions beautifully.

Yeay for leftover supplies! 
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Friday, May 6, 2011


Best told in pictures.

Bunch o' bees coated in sugar syrup

Opening the package

Removing the feeder can and queen

Shaking the ladies out

Persistent little buggers

Running for deal life.  ---Just kidding.  Closing up shop.

Feeder installed

Second brood box added

Checking out my handiwork

Trying to get those last ladies out of the box

Mostly done.  The other girls will need to find their way.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

On My Day Off

It rained, and I had a chance to get into my sewing room.

It doesn't happen often.  I enjoyed it, after I took my mind off all the work I should have been doing outside.

It's sunny today, though, so no more playtime for me.

Back to work I go!
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