Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Day in the Life

The end of the school year is upon us here, and the future hangs in the balance.  The job I've been doing full time is either going to end, or become permanent, and I confess I've spent WAY too much time thinking about it lately.  This week I am promised to know either way.  I will either have my summer off, or I will become a full time employee.  I don't know which way it will go, but I look forward to knowing and moving on, as the stress has been incredible.

However, no matter how much is going on in my head, there is still a lot to do around here, and none of it can wait.  Yesterday, which was the first day all week that did not rain, was a very busy one.  This is what I did:

  • Got up, and my husband and I fed the animals, and I also milked Dulcinea and Lilly.  Dulcinea stands like a rock.  She  is a champ, and milks over 3 pounds each session.  Lilly? was Lilly's first time being milked since her babies.  I'm "happy" to say she still sucks at being milked.  She danced, she ate like a pig, and she held back a ridiculous amount.  Welcome back, Lilly, I missed your pain in the ass antics.  Oh I didn't.  Anyway, she will get used to it again.  Hear that, Lilly?  You.  Will. Get.  Used.  To.  Milking.  End of story.  Thanks for playing.
  • When I was done, I went to check on the Little Red Coopette, aka; the Broody Coop.  The girls have been stuck in this really broody cycle lately, and there's no breaking it.  I felt bad for them a couple of days ago, because it's their job to be broody, but I have no need of any more chickens--so they had no job to do.  You know me, and how I like to keep everyone employed, so I improvised.  I had a whole batch of duck eggs in the duck house that 6 ducks were fighting over, so I stole some and gave one or two to each bird (because they are so small, that's about all they can fit), and yesterday morning, I got a surprise!
Yep, she hatched a duck!  Funniest thing about it was the look on that chicken's face.  She had the baby under her, but I don't think she really was looking at it because she was so intent on sitting on it.  But I pulled it out, she saw it, and she looked at it like "Uh...that's not right".  It was clearly not what she was expecting.  If a chicken could look puzzled, that chicken looked puzzled.  Yes, I got a kick out of it.
  • The ducks were next to check, and quite frankly they are annoying the hell out of me.  Anywhere from 4-6 girls will be sitting on a HUGE nest of eggs.  However, they fight all the time, so the eggs get jumbled and some get cracked, and usually a whole bunch of them get kicked out of the communal (and sometimes individual) nest, and then they get cold and die.  It's been a real pain in my neck (and my hand, when they bite me) to have to keep after them all the time, but every couple of days I need to go into the duck house, re-candle all the eggs, weed out the ones they just added, and make sure the ones that I marked long ago are still developing.  Yesterday I pulled out quite a few cold ones, and made a decision.  I pulled a bunch that were really close to hatching and put some in the incubator, and some under the girls.
Broody Coop--doing what it was named for.
That way they are all spread out and I'm not relying on the ducks to finish the job.  They still have quite a pile of eggs to try to hatch, but with all the fighting I heard yesterday, I'd be surprised if they are able to. At least there are a few that will hatch absolutely.
  • Finally done with the animals, I came in to address the milk in the fridge.  I made cheese.  Queso Fresco, as I've been wanting to try it, and it was a quick recipe.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  So good.  So fresh and wonderful.  I ate way too much yesterday, and I'm betting I'll eat way too much again today.  YUM!!
  • While I made cheese, my husband set up the backyard for butchering.  The Delaware crosses were at 13 weeks, and quite frankly, there were a LOT of roosters.  Their favorite thing was having a crow-off every morning around 5.  I don't mind a rooster or two crowing, in fact I hardly hear it anymore.  But get 9 doing it, and then get those 9 doing it and setting off the 3 on the other side of the house, and then setting off the one in the Broody Coop, you get a lot of noise.  I had been woken up too many times, and I had just had it.  Yesterday was the day.
It went well, and it went quickly.  Over the last few weeks, my husband and I have been catching the birds and looking them over.  If they were growing well, they would get a band on their foot, meaning they got a pass, and would be kept to make more of themselves.  If they got two bands, then we thought they were really good and should be able to live their little chicken lives in perpetuity. 
We disagreed with most of our choices.  We kept two roos, and agreed with one of the choices we had made, but the others we had thought were contenders were too small, and we went with another rooster all together for our second choice.  In hens, we agreed with a couple, but not all.  We wound up with 5 hens.  There are now 7 Delaware crosses carrying on the legacy of the original flock, and all the rest were butchered.  How big were they?  Ummmm.....

 If this is a Cornish cross (a big one, mind you.  He was over 8 pounds),

These are the Delaware crosses (hens).

They were so small I left the necks on.  Yep, I fit two in the same pan.  The roosters were slightly bigger, but not by a whole lot. 
Do I find this discouraging?  No, not at all.  They were young, so they were small.  If grain gets more and more expensive, I am going to go with the Delaware crosses, hands down.  They are little.  But they foraged like champs.  It would take some re-teaching on our parts, and a different way of looking at chicken production, and even eating, but there's nothing wrong with these birds.  Honestly, I look forward to dinner tonight, as I wonder if they taste any different.  Stay tuned for more about this!
  • When butchering was done, I wanted to do this: 
But with all the rain, there were WEEDS, so out I went.
  • I pulled weeds, I planted a little, I tied up tomatoes. 
  • I went and cleaned out half of the girls' goat pen, as it was all muddy and horrible in there and it needed it.  I used what I took out to hill up the potatoes, which are very, very tall.
  • Then I cleaned out the boys' house, which made Stewart so worried, it was palpable.  As I dug into the messy haybed, he sat on his butt in the corner and looked at me like "WHY???".  Worried eyes and everything.  Very unusual for Stew, as he's normally unconcerned about anything that doesn't include food or women (depending on the time of the year).  I guess he liked his mess.  But I cleaned out the dirty stuff, put in nice, clean hay, and gave him a skritching.  He seemed ok with it.  Later when my husband went to change out their water, he told me that Stew blocked him from taking the pail.  I guess he was still stressed. 
  • I picked strawberries; 3 pounds worth!  It brings the total poundage for this year up to 12.5.  Pretty dang good, I think.  I did an "emergency" jamming session this past week one night and made 8 pints of jam.  I baked a pie with some, I froze some.  I ate a lot.  This batch will probably become strawberry-rhubarb jam and some more frozen berries, or maybe strawberries in syrup.  Not bad for one patch of berries, really.  Not bad at all. 
  • Then I really wanted to do this,
but it was feeding time, so out we went, and fed the animals and I milked Dulci, but not Lilly, because she needs to feed her babies.  Plus, she's a pain in my neck.
  • Then I may have played with the babies for a while, but I'm not admitting anything.
  • It was time for dinner, so I made salads with lettuce from the garden.  I sauteed squash and corn that was frozen from last year,  added cubes of that really good cheese, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and we were good to go.  It was a lovely, light meal.
  • After that, it was a bunch of little things to do until it was time to put the animals in for the night.  Lilly was to finally sleep in the goat house with her babies and the rest of the girls, so convincing her of that was a pain in the neck.  She was still looking for her deluxe accommodations; her garage-barn suite complete with babies, food, water, and hay.  Tough luck, tootsie!  She had to sleep with everyone else.  Then we had to catch the 7 remaining Delawares and put them in the big coop, as they no longer need to be set aside from the others.  They were not thrilled and probably spent the night huddled on the floor.  I only hoped they would not get beat up.
  • Then I did crash, and though I didn't look like Icky, I sure felt like him.  It was a good day.
Today promises to be more of the same, so I'd better get to it!  Have a great day, everyone!
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1 comment:

  1. What a great post! I enjoyed reading every bit of it. I hope you and your hubby are able to relax a bit today!


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