Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
While the hens are figuring things out, their egg sizes can be quite variable. Both these eggs were laid by pullet hens. The one on the left probably has no yolk or no white, and the egg on the right is a double yolker.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I'm glad I noticed it, b/c this would have seriously tore up my saw. Dang mice.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Looking up hill
You can see the dead lespedeza covering the field in the pics. The green spots are where fescue is coming in. We tried some brushhogging this fall, and knocking the lespedeza out gave the grasses a chance to gain a foothold. The eroded spots are from where I let hunters travel up and down the pasture this fall.
The chickens didn't really seem to mind too much though, some of them looked like drowned rats, but they were content just looking for whatever goodies they could scavange up.
The rain picked up again and the wind shifted from out of the north. Snow is coming. Eventually I got pretty soaked, and I gave up and headed back up to the house.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I took him to the vet the next day. Since our bridge has washed out, I had to carry him across the creek and out of the pasture to the truck. Alfredo has never really known any life other than our woods, fields, and creek - the truck ride and the vet's office (especially the hardwood floors) were really hard on him.
After giving him some anaesthetic and shaving his neck, we had to cut the collar and the ball of flesh that had gotten entangled and started to grow through the collar. I left him at the vets overnight, and picked him up the next day. On the ride home with his giant head in my lap, he would nudge me with a paw or his nose if I stopped scratching behind his ear. It was quite endearing. When we got back to the farm, Fredo didn't want to get out of the truck. Harley jumped in an hung out with him as you can see below.
In addition to Harley, Squirt, our yellow dog showed up as well, followed by two chickens who flew over the pasture fencing, furiously flapped thier way across the creek, all to peer inside the truck cab. Once Fredo was out, he was his old self rompusing self. When he saw his girl, our other Pyr, Feta, it was like nothing had happened at all.
It makes me sick that this happened, and it'll be the last time for sure. It's not just poor husbandry, I see it as betrayal to my animals. These dogs give thier very best to us, stopping all our varmit problems, being gentle with our 1 1/2 yr old, and being great companions. They deserve better from us.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Carla and I got talking about the difference in fat between our birds and what we're used to. The difference can be seen above. The only "hard fat" in the pan is from the butter that we basted the bird with, while the fat from the bird is still liquid at room temperature. The pan fat from supermarket birds solidifies into a chunk. My guess is that the fats will do the same in my arteries as they do in the pans. We'll be raising our own birds from now on.
The pan liquor will make an awesome chickeniness flavor booster to the next pot of chicken and dumplings.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Alfredo found something dead and rolled in it last week. That's that big black spot under his throat. He reeks, and I almost lost it. I feel bad for him, b/c up until today I couldn't get close enough to him to pet - and I have a cast iron stomach. Finally, after a week, the smell is finally diminishing in potency. Yuck!
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The white stuff is ashes from the fireplace. It's good for raising the pH of the soil and getting some Potassium into the soil. Potassium has always been a hard nutrient to come by, and ashes are a good (& free) source. Potash is a traditional fertilizer for potassium, and is called pot-ash because of how it used to be made. Wood fire ashes were leeched in big pots then the liquid boiled down. Potassium carbonate is released. Obviously, I skip the boiling.
I'm aiming at getting a bed completed and covered in wheat straw every 3 days. Our beds are 4 ft wide and anywhere from 50-80 ft long.
Carla's ducks just kind of hang out, here nibbling on the row of broccoli we need to cut and freeze.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
So this morning, I headed down the hill into the holler to put the dogs up and let the hens out. Near the creek, there were these crazy ice formations on the stalks of some of the weeds, mostly asters and ironweed. My guess is that water had gotten into the hollow stems, and then as the temps plunged into the lower twenties, the water froze and blew out of the stem bases. That would explain why the ice was only at the bottom of the plants. Any better guesses?
Here's some by the runoff creek near the pasture. Neat huh?
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
These parts are really high in nitrogen, so they need lots of carbon. I use lots of leaves, which I pick up in yards or on the side of the road this time of the year. It would be best if I could shred them, but I can't figure out a cheap way to do it, so I just use the leaves whole. Whole leaves tend to cake, so every week or so I'll go and mix the pile with a pitchfork. The caking leads to anaerobic conditions (stinky), so mixing it up gets oxygen into the mix and fires up the decomposition process. In fact, I've found that when I turn the pile on a cold morning, it will steam, and you can feel the heat radiating out. Next year, I may compare composting with wood chips as opposed to leaves. Right now, though, I don't own a tractor with a front end loader (or without for that matter) so leaves are a lot easier on the back.