Saturday 6 July 2024

A very weird week or two

The main thing I didn't tell you last post was that Hugslut was going to be going out of town for work. She flew all the way to Barcelona Spain last weekend for a three day in person work thing. Due to the fact that the airport is a 3 hour drive from here, and layovers, and the delayed flight that caused a missed flight, etc etc etc,... getting there took 17 hours. From noon(our time) on Saturday until 5am(our time) on Sunday. Getting home took 26 hours. From 4am(our time) on Friday until 6am(our time) on Saturday.

My poor wifey is (understandably) completely wiped out and is going to be spending this entire weekend just recuperating. I'm also kinda worn out from worrying about her flight back so I'll be mostly chilling too. 

Hugslut did take time off this month and on Wednesday she's got another long drive ahead of her as we drive 3 hours to the airport again to pick up our friend Wolfie and then drive all the way back home as he'll be vacationing with us for two weeks.

So what have I been up to with Hugslut away? I did some catching up on housework, a little programming work on my farm tracking program, but mostly? More cheese. lol

I've made a slightly different 2 gallon batch of goat and cow cheddar to compare against the first one. I did just find out that I can re-wax opened cheese so next time I want a multi-maturity waxed cheese test, I can leave it as one block and re-wax after cutting off the tester chunks. That's so much simpler and tidier than the six tiny cheeses I made the first batch into. I also made a 4 gallon batch of cow and goat Havarti with sage and onion powders mixed in.

The Havarti won't be waxed as this recipe is a "washed rind" variety which just means that I wipe the outside of the cheese every other day with a saltwater solution to prevent any nasties from growing and it should develop a hard skin over the 1-3 months it's maturing.

Speaking of nasties, about a week after her vaccine booster, Honey developed a sore at the injection site. It's probably my fault for putting the injection somewhere that could get bumped while they were roughhousing or she lay down in poop or something. I've kept it clean and it seems to be scabbing up and healing so that's all good.

On the subject of poop, I got quite a scare the other morning. I went out to do my critter chores and found a great big PLOP of stinky poop in the middle of the gravel driveway covered in flies. I hosed it off and found some undigested guts and rabbit (or dog!?) ears inside. Based on the info I can find, it's most likely a black bear (coyote scat looks completely different) and no, I'm not going to post the pics of poop and partially digested ears on here but if you're very curious just text me and I'll send them to you directly.

Since then I've been making sure the chickens fence is electrified every night. I'm not sure it would actually stop a black bear, but it might make it look for an easier meal. 

On a more pleasant note, the garlic scapes have been harvested and I'm looking forward to making a scape and sunflower seed pesto fresh gluten-free linguine for when Wolfie gets here. :-)

The greenhouse is doing well and I've been happy to share eggs and spinach with the neighbours. The spinach and lettuce is doing really well. The tomatoes are starting to flower, the peas are well into flower and are starting to make pods, the nasturtiums are even flowering, and the cucumbers are nice and big now and I'll have to dig past those spikey leaves soon to check if it's flowering yet.

Next year I will need to set up some trellis system and maybe even some drip tape watering, but this year I've already learned a lot about how hot it gets on sunny days and also what variation in lighting patterns there are. For example: where I planted the first batch of carrots and green onions gets a lot of shade from the shelves/potting table in the afternoon. This is likely the best spot for lettuce as it protects them from the hottest part of the day and also makes for easy frequent harvests. The goats have absolutely loved the nasturtium leaves I've harvested for them which is great because they're just far too peppery for all the humans who have tried them. I should see if Wolfie likes them.

Sunday 23 June 2024

Say Cheese!

It took all day on the 13th, and then the 24 hour press through the 14th, but on the 15th my very first batch of cheddar was finished and waxed and stored away to mature.

It won't be ready to try for 3 months yet. I plan on letting this first batch be a testing batch. Basically we'll open one every so often to see how we like it at that age. The plan is Three months, Six months, Nine months, One year, Two years, Five years. I've also made some yogurt and some squeaky cheese curds for snacking/poutine.

The goats are doing well. I gave them their vaccine booster on the 17th and Star's neck lump hasn't gotten worse yet so we likely just have to wait it out for a few weeks.

Isabella still isn't laying and Lilly's eggs come out wrinkled. This is likely because I have to keep putting the chicken food away for most of the day so the goats can browse. They're eating bugs and plants and they get a breakfast and dinner of pellets, but they likely aren't getting all the vitamins and such they need for this stressful routine. Hopefully I can get that barn divider up soon and they'll have a goat-free place to eat. We've run into some hiccups with the living-room window so that isn't going in yet.

The greenhouse is doing well and pumping out.... mostly spinach right now lol. I know I got a late start but the carrots are almost ready and I'm hoping the tomatoes will start doing their thing soon. I do need to get some more seeds in like beets and turnips. The radishes are good but we don't eat them regularly. I might do one more big planting of them to have enough to make radish pickles.

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Busy as a Beaver

So back on May 15 the vet came to give the goats a physical their first vaccinations. On the 17th Star had developed a very swollen lymph node in her neck right above her left wattle, and the vet told me to monitor but it's likely just a reaction to the vaccine that will take 4-6 weeks to go away and considering the booster 4 weeks later will likely re-trigger the reaction, it'll be end of July or beginning of August before it goes away. Thankfully it hasn't gotten any worse at all. She's eating well and it isn't growing. It's hard to see and harder to photograph. Just think of sore throat "swollen glands" but if it was under your ear to it stuck out more.

The company we contacted to clear the trees around the rock wall came to do the logging while I was still fussing over Star's possible illness. They did the job I asked for in the 3 days they quoted and now I have a 25ft swath of cleared land between the rocks and the forest. There's still a lot of work to do there before I can do any planting or anything but the first big step is done for that area.

Seems the chickens were also low on calcium so even after their worming treatment there were still some egg issues. Pretty sure I have it sorted now.

The weather is starting to get a little warmer and sunnier so the potatoes are sprouting and the greenhouse is taking off. I've started my canning planning for this autumn and put down the deposit for our local pork. We went through the 1/2 hog too quickly so I ordered a whole hog and plan on canning stew chunks, stir-fry strips, ground meat for sauces & nachos, pulled pork in bbq sauce, etc so the freezer can be just for the stuff you really want to cook same day like bacon and pork chops.

I tried to make some yogurt with the goats-milk but I'm pretty sure I tried to run before I could crawl with that one. Made a lot of mistakes and didn't really have anything to show for it except a lot of dishes and some compost ingredients. The pasta I made went a lot better. I'm finally narrowing in on a good gluten-free recipe I can make and store dry for easy meals.

The first harvests from the greenhouse were really just thinning plants that were too close together.

A squirrel has decided to find out what the blue-jays have been eating and came right up on the deck a couple times. I have seen a few rabbits around and they have no interest in the trap so I've decided to just not worry about them. The rabbits don't eat my garlic or potatoes and that's really the only thing growing outside the greenhouse this year so ** shrug ** whatever.

Since the vet mentioned that both goats are a bit thin and both of their coats aren't ideal, I did a feed recalculation. Star is definitely getting as much of the feed as she's supposed to but she'd not taking advantage of the mixed minerals available free choice to them. Her previous owner mentioned that she was giving her copper and selenium supplements and both of those in excess blocks the absorption of zinc which is a key mineral in weight gain and coat condition so I got them some supplements and we'll see how that goes.

The fridge in the kitchen died so we had to get a new one. it was from 2005 or 2008 so it wasn't that surprising but it was annoying.

We got the power company to come out and move the light for us. It's so dark on the deck now that I can't take a photo at night. Love it. Here's a view standing near the greenhouse and pointed down the drive way.

The gravel guy came and redid the driveway last week and it's looking great. Everything is settling into place nicely and it should be good for a long while. :-)

I re-found a wooden puzzle company that had puzzles I wanted for a while but couldn't justify($100+ each!). Seems I wasn't the only one because they were having a going out of business sale (~$10 each) so I got a bunch. We've only opened one so far but I love them. The pieces are so odd and whimsical and it just adds another layer to puzzle building.

The more recent harvests from the greenhouse have been phenomenal and the greenhouse still looks empty! It's going to be VERY productive once I really get going with it.

The glass in the basement doors has finally been replaced with the frosted glass I specifically requested. The living room window is getting repaired this week; hopefully that will stop the heat leaking right out it all winter.

I'm working on designs for the wall in the barn and for a proper compost set up. I hope to have built both before this autumn.

Shadow is doing well but has taken to waking me when the birds start singing, at sunrise, or when the rooster crows, whichever she notices first. This means 6am at the latest. I wanted to sleep until 7:30. This is not fun.

Wrapping up this post with a photo of the goats enjoying a hike.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Tiring week

The greenhouse is sprouting.

Most of the days I'm opening the windows just to keep the greenhouse from hitting 30C, but almost all of the seeds I planted have sprouted and the first batch of radishes is on their second set of real leaves.

For three days the goats couldn't go out and the chickens had to be fenced into one place because we had some guys here cutting down trees. This worked well with the timing of the chicken deworming. I started the chickens on their deworming medicine and that went as expected. They're not 100% back to their old selves yet but they are all laying again.

The guys did what I'm thinking of as "the first pass" next to the rockwall. All the trees are chopped down, the big logs can be stacked for later uses, and all the lil branches got chipped into oblivion. That is, except for the willow trees that I specifically asked them to leave behind. They're great for soaking up water and I wouldn't want to have to start from scratch when I need some willow cuttings.

The vet came to give Star and Honey their checkups and vaccines. He said they're both a bit thin so increasing their food would be a good idea. A day and a half later I noticed a small lump about the size of a pea in Star's neck. Seemed like a swollen gland so I contacted the vet's office to see if this was a known side effect of the vax or a possible problem. They said it was a possible side effect and (being Friday) I should monitor over the long weekend and they'd check in Tuesday. 

Well, Star's temperature and lump remained unchanged but she's feeling crummy and not as hungry. The vet said that's fine and might last 2-4 weeks. Her booster shot is 4-6 weeks after the initial shot so we may have a goat who's feeling poorly for two whole months.  Honey's doing well and I'm glad we gave them their shots but .... poor thing. 

Oh, AND we clipped their hooves over the weekend which is like wrestling a preteen while clipping cat claws; Physically demanding and precision is required. 

That's all for now. Feeling kinda run down myself after all that noise and then worry.

Monday 13 May 2024

A month already?

Solar update:

May 1st was slightly cloudy but not raining and it was warm enough to have the heater off all day.

The first bill after installation hasn't come out quite yet but the billing cycle is complete so I can compare with last year's:

This year, March and April. (Solar connected March 26th)
Last year, March and April.

Next billing cycle will be even better because it will have been connected for the whole time, and we'll be getting into summer but wow!

Cat update:

Shadow is doing well but has decided that I must get up at sunrise so we'll see how long my sanity lasts. 🙃

Chickens update:

They seem to have a case of worms right now which is reducing their egg production to only 2-3 a day (out of the usual average of 4), but I've got them on the meds and they should be getting better within the week. Before all that, one day there was a tiiiiiiny egg. It was only 16g instead of the approx. 55g the blue ones usually are. This sometimes just happens and is usually called a fairy egg.

Greenhouse Update:

I've got the greenhouse finally all filled and planted. I also got the gravel guy who did the base to come and put another inch or two on top of the critter guard hardware cloth so the mouse that was looking for stuff before I even got the dirt in wouldn't be able to find the edge. 

It'll be a while before we see anything come out of the greenhouse, but the radishes are already starting to sprout. They're just 4 weeks from seed to harvest so we should get them first and often. I've had to open up the greenhouse a few times on sunny days because it gets up over 25C in there and I want to sprout the seeds, not cook them.

This was the original greenhouse plan. I'm working on making up an updated version with how I actually laid it out... but these are the plants that I'm growing right now.

I also got the potatoes planted with the garlic. There's some inter-planted and some just nearby, but all the outdoor garden is surrounded by electric fencing. I don't know if the deer would eat potatoes but I'm not interested in letting the goats make themselves sick. Star has a habit of taking a nibble out of just about anything she physically can.

Wildlife update:

On the topic of deer, they don't come around as often now that the goats are here. A momma deer tried to stomp and snort at the goats one day and I came out and stood with the goats telling the dear to leave until she did. Only really see one or two young deer occasionally now instead of the 7-10 deer herds that used to roam through. It's a good thing. Deer can carry a lot of things goats can catch so I don't really want them being friends or around too much. 

We did spot a rabbit this week. I was certain we only got 2 of the 3 locals last year but we stopped seeing them. He must have been hibernating through the winter. I'll put out the trap this week and hopefully be done with that for a couple years at least.

Goat update:

The goats are mostly staying indoors, with a few field trips through the week, so I do my best to bring the outdoor indoors by clipping fresh branches for them to nibble on. We go for hikes through the woods and I'll sometimes sit outside while they roam the yard, but I can only really give them a few hours of supervision a few times though the week and still have time for everything else. I do plan to get a proper barnyard set up in the back of the barn, but until that time, this is the routine.

Other updates:

We've also contacted the power company to move the streetlight that's right by the house down the driveway a bit. As it is, we can't sit on the back deck and look at the stars because the ultra bright LED streetlight is litterally pointed at the house, AND the driveway is long enough that if you try to walk down it at night it gets REALLY dark about halfway down. We're moving the light to that spot halfway down so it peters out by the time it gets to the house. This way the deck lights actually have a job besides attracting moths, and we can have dark if we want. I don't know if this photo really does it justice but, trust me... it's bright.

We've also been out to celebrate my birthday and our wedding anniversary so it's been a busy but good time. I'm hoping to get the next post out before the end of the month. Until next time, stay safe and have fun. :-)