Country Craziness

Geez!  I just don’t even know where to start.  I suppose if I had been keeping up with this whole blogging thing the whole time that I wouldn’t have this problem!  But, this is me we’re talking about.    So….

I guess the biggest thing is that we are preparing to move.  Not far, actually the next driveway over.  Life is funny the way things work out.  Our landlords finally decided to move back home and we were doing a mad search for another farm so that we wouldn’t lose our animals and this lifestyle that we have grown quite attached to.  Our wonderful neighbors offered us their house that just happens to sit on 200 acres with all kinds of outbuildings and barns with water and electricity for our animals.

Barn and chicken coop on farm

Yes, angels are real.  I won’t get all mushy with details and such but they are truly awesome people that we are blessed to be able to call our friends.  The farm hasn’t had animals on it for around 10 years so there is some serious work to do – all new fencing for the pastures, leaky roofs, stalls, nesting boxes, animal-proofing, yada, yada, yada.  Not to mention the packing, downsizing (the house is half of what we have now so bye-bye shoe collection), and cleaning.  Yikes, the cleaning!  I always thought my house was fairly clean until I started packing things away and uncovered dust bunnies and cobwebs.

To top that off, Nik is away on a farm down in Texas.  A sort of working vacation if you will.  He’s gone for 2 months learning all about animal care and plants from the former personal botanist of Lady Bird Johnson.  Lucky boy, I know.  He’s having all kinds of exciting adventures and making great contacts that he can use in the future.  If you thought he could talk your ear off about seeds and farming before, ya better watch out!  It was really stressful sending him off on a plane by himself halfway across the country.  I keep forgetting that he’s almost 18 and no longer a child.  This summer away is a good step towards him becoming an adult though.

In the midst of getting ready to move we had our first baby goats born!  Thor was born on June 2nd and Athena gave birth to twins 2 days ago.  They are Atlas and Ares.  All males.  Way too much testosterone if you ask me.  But they’re too cute for words.  And thank God for Google.  Why don’t any of the goat books tell you that baby goat poop is going to be a thick yellow pudding for the first week?  I had no clue what-so-ever.

Tennessee Meat goat buckling

Tennessee Meat goat buckling twins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully and regretfully (oxymorons?) we didn’t plant a garden this year.  We weren’t sure when we would be moving and didn’t spend time planting something that we wouldn’t be able to use and enjoy.  So we have a huge wild area that has all kinds of volunteers.

Overgrown garden with volunteers and herbs

And a bunch of beautiful poppies (thank you Nik!).

Poppies in the garden

If you search you’ll be able to find radishes and kale, dill,  lots (seriously LOTS) of chamomile, and a few squash plants.  I even think I’ll be able to see the sunflowers come up before we leave.

Ellie May loves the all-you-can-eat salad buffet that used to be the garden.  Oops.  I don’t think I’ve introduced you yet.  Ellie is our mini potbelly pig.  The one that was guaranteed not to go over 30 pounds.  Dirty breeders.  Or shame on me for not buying one elsewhere.  Anyway, she’s ours and she now weighs a mini 60 pounds.  The vet told me to restrict her food and she wouldn’t grow as large.  I no longer go to that vet.  Ellie also loves to clean up after our guinea keets.  She goes around the brooder and “cleans up” all the food bits that they kick out.

Potbelly pig with guinea keets

We bought a bunch of guineas to help with the ticks around the property.  We used to have 6 but ended up getting rid of them because they attacked our chickens.  Now with a larger property and no more red chickens, hopefully the problems will be over.  We also heard they do better in larger groups.  We have 15.  Keeping our fingers crossed!

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Guineas Gone Afoul

Okay.  I know it’s been a while.  Okay, a long while!  But now that I have managed to pull myself out of hibernation (I wish!) I’ll get busy posting again.  Daily life seems to take over everything and before you know it, it’s time to crawl back into bed.

I’m trying really really hard to enjoy what I hope is the last snowfall of the winter.  We have been blessed with this winter wonderland that just won’t go away! winter snow picture It starts to melt and you catch a glimpse of green grass trying to peek out and then WHAM!  You get  dumped on all over again.  Sigh.  I’m so looking forward to spring.  But I must admit, it is beautiful.   As long as you can enjoy it from inside the house with a hot cup of tea.  The birds don’t seem to mind the cold weather.  I’ve never seen this many cardinals, bluejays, doves, bluebirds, and all kinds of other little birds.  They have an all-you-can-eat buffet in the pasture.  Whatever the ducks and chickens leave behind, they get to enjoy. Cardinal in snow And the cardinals really like the bush next to my office window.  I get to take pretty pictures of them all day long!  Even when it’s too cold outside for the ducks, the birds are eating away!  Lucky little birds!

 

Aside from the weather, we’ve had some guinea grief.  We bought 6 guinea keets back in September of last year.  They were raised in the chicken coop with our 13 hens.  Everybody got along great, the guineas would even curl up underneath the hens’ wings at night to sleep.  But all good things must come to an end.  One day last month the guineas turned evil.  Really evil.  They would gang up on the Golden Buff hens and attack them.  Not just pecking order, I’m the boss type of attack.  This was fight to the death.  Poor girls!  We tried feeding the guineas more protein (raw deer meat) since they do require a higher percentage of protein than chickens.  No luck.  We started chasing the guineas out of the pasture.  They flew back in.  We separated the chickens and guineas.  The guineas were now sleeping in the barn and the chickens were locked in the coop (fenced in area) all day.  Very unhappy chickens.  I did some research and found out other people have had problems with guineas attacking their hens once they hit the reproductive age.  And they really don’t like red chickens.  Go figure.  I guess they are more “wild” than the other poultry and play by a different set of rules.  They do much better in larger groups of their own kind.  Plus I found out that they can mate with my hens.  Yep, we could have little guickens running around.  They would be sterile, but still.  So we did what we had to do.  At least for us.  We butchered them.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my guineas.  Their obnoxious “buckwheat” all day long, how they would fly out and come up to the porch to stare at themselves in the glassguinea fowl staring in glass (they love to admire themselves, very egotistical birds), how they would follow you around whenever you were out in the yard working.  They were our babies and we raised them into these creatures that they had become.  We could have rehomed them, but there’s a good chance they would have tried to fly back home here.  Or they may have attacked someone else’s hens.  Nope.  They are now in the freezer.  Except one.  We popped him into the smoker and enjoyed some smoked guinea.  Light meat, sort of like a cross between chicken and turkey.  And for all of you out there that think that I’m being cruel… do you really have any idea of where your meat comes from and how it is being raised and treated?  Unless you don’t eat meat.  That chicken sandwich you pick up at the drive-thru used to be a live chicken (at least a small part of it did!) and it wasn’t allowed to run around and pick bugs out of the grass and enjoy the sunshine.  Watch the movie Earthlings.  A very good documentary on Netflix.  You’ll never look at meat the same way.  So anyway.  We gave our birds a good life and they gave us a good meal.  They died humanely and not in vain. 

Okay, so we lost 6 guineas.  But we also gained a dozen (or so)   Muscovy ducks, 2 Toulouse geese (a mating pair), and a couple of parakeets for in the house.  Spring is around the corner – I saw a groundhog playing in the yard!  Time for some ducklings and baby geese?!

Now if only somebody could do something about all this snow……  077

Turkey Day Preparations

I must admit that country life agrees with me.  Usually by now I’m getting into a frenzy over all the things I need to get done for the holidays.  Not this year.  Simplify, remember?  I’m off to a pretty good start.

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After feeding and releasing the animals, I came in and baked up some Blueberry Cream Biscuits with Blueberry Sauce.  Yummy!  I was even nice enough to save Nik a big piece since he was out deer hunting.  Such a good mom! *cough*  I found the recipe in Better Homes and Gardens and threw it in a file where it sat for months (possibly years) before I finally tried it.  I just replaced all-purpose flour with a gluten free flour mix and “Tadaa”!  Definitely a keeper.

I finished the Jewel Fudge that I started last night.  Todd loves fudge.  Especially this fudge.  Me, not so much.  Never been a fudge junkie.  But this particular fudge he has to have every year around the holidays.   Thank goodness you can only find the fake cherries when the fruit cakes come out for the year.  Ok, thatJewel Fudge 001 doesn’t sound good… Otherwise I’d be making this stuff all year long.  He’s getting pretty smart though, since the cherries are all dried and preserved he said we could buy a bunch and save them for the rest of the year.  Yay!!  Thanks for the recipe Sandi!!

We had to stop and watch the guineas.  They were flying to the top of the barn.  Such big birds!!!  They still won’t wander away from the pasture though.  Once or twice a couple of them found their way over the fence but they just stood at the fence and screamed until somebody herded them back in.  They definitely don’t like to be separated!032 The boys are out in the pasture working.  We got a huge load of sand so that the ducks don’t make so much yuck when we get wet weather.  The ducks love the mud, the chickens not really.  The girls are going to start baking some pumpkin cookies and maybe a spiced pumpkin cheesecake if we get around to it.  I’m going to mix up an eggnog coffee cake to put in the refrigerator tonight so that I can just pop it in the oven for morning.  One less thing to do tomorrow.

We also get to use our homemade vanilla!  We started this project in the beginning of October so it should be good.  Get yourself a bottle of rum or brandy (any hard alcohol will work) and about a dozen vanilla beans.  Slice the beans and drop them in the bottle.  Allow to sit for 6 weeks or so, shaking the bottle every so often.  Not exactly a science, is it?!  Once we’ve actually used it, I’ll let you know what I think.  I’m definitely going to filter it, the beans have left little floaters that I’ not too sure about!

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Other than that, I am going to relax this evening and watch a movie.  The kids want it to be zombie night, we’ll see…