Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas & this and that

This was my view from my living room on Christmas.   I love watching the birds and we get such a diverse showing especially when it snows and food is scarce.   I put warm water and scattered some scratch on the railing as well.   Great, inexpensive entertainment.   My 9 yr. old loves to see how many she can identify.  

Christmas was hectic.    We still have a visiting buck we call Elvis because he has the craziest hairdo.  I really must post a picture of him.   Just above his eyes and back to his ears he has a bunch of curly locks.  It's silly looking or charming depending on my mood when I look at him.  Either way it's unique. 

The goats, pigs and chickens all got carrots for their Christmas treat.   Shredded for the chickens and sliced for the pigs and goats.   I swept / shoveled a place for the pigs to come out of their house but the goats were having no part of that.  They stayed in their warm house and just peeked out for a 5 days.  I didn't even offer the outdoors to the chickens until today.   I give them all warm water both morning and night.   I hang a flashlight in the chicken house above their food when I do their water at night and even though we had one night down to 10 degree's I have one little blue Orpington hen that lays me an egg.  All 3 of the other girls have quit till spring I guess.   Just that little bit of light from the flashlight made all the difference as she wasn't laying until I added the light.   I use rechargeable batteries or it would be rather expensive.

I'm still a  bit unsure of my feeding with the pigs.  They are going through a 50 lb bag in 4 days which seems like too much since they aren't full grown and even when they are full grown they are smaller than most pigs so I'm thinking I may be over feeding them.   I would like to get them on hay and milk only but I think they will protest strongly at this point if I were to try.   It being so cold at night I really don't want to try just yet.

I ran out of time with my Christmas wrapping for my little one this year and decided to make almost everything a stocking item since we don't wrap stocking items in our house.   Her stocking clearly wasn't large enough for everything to fit into so I got creative with a flannel PJ bottom with doggies and santa's on them much to her delight.


Hope you and yours had as wonderful a Christmas as we did!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

I've lived in Virginia for over 10 yrs now and this is the first time it reminded me of my years in Colorado.   We've gotten over a foot of snow so far and it's suppose to snow all day tomorrow too.   While I was in Colorado I didn't have all the animals I have now and lots of snow meant great ski conditions, not wondering how I'm going to get all the critters taken care of.  

I have 2 hoop houses so I've gone out every couple of hours and sweep the snow off because it was accumulating so fast.   I have a buck visiting for a while to romance the girls.  They wanted no part of letting him in their shelter so I had to make separate area's in there so they wouldn't be able to keep throwing him out into the cold and wet.   Luckily I did that before it started snowing in ernest.   The pigs and the chickens are all snuggled up in their little houses and it feels good to know all the animals are warm and dry. 

The only thing I've yet to figure out is how to get all the dogs out to potty.  I've been sweeping the steps and trying to sweep an area just off the porch for them to potty in.  Right now the snow is mid way up their bellies if they venture any farther than where I've swept.    I'll have to take pictures tomorrow when it's light.  It's actually quite beautiful out and will no doubt be a white christmas.  

For all my musing about missing Colorado and the snow this has been a reality check.  With all these animals I wouldn't want to do this on a regular basis.   I don't know how people in Alaska or any of the northern states do it every winter all winter with many animals.  My hats off to them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saying thanks to my goats today

All spring, summer and fall we've been milking our 2 goats.  I made yogurt, ice cream, chevre, ricotta and mozzerella.  I froze most of the cheese and dreamed of using it in the winter when I had more time to make things like homemade pizza or goat cheese cheesecakes.  I haven't yet tried the cheesecake but we finally had homemade pizza this week and it was wonderful.  I haven't mastered making a round crust but kind of like the more rustic look of an irregular shaped pizza anyway.  This was made using 1/2 white flour and 1/2 whole wheat.

Pizza crust

I got this recipe from the Recipe Zaar

3/4 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons oil
4 cups flour (we prefer half white, half wheat)

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water (I add a pinch of sugar) and allow to set until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes.

Stir in salt, oil and half of flour. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing well.

Knead 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double (1/2-1 hour) Punch down and let rise again until double. Punch down and divide. Pat out on two pizza pans.

Top with pizza sauce & toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Pizza Sauce: Mix all ingredients together, blending well. (You can also add a few sprinkles of garlic powder if you want).

Makes enough for two 12 inch pizzas or one 16 inch pizza.
Top with meats, cheese and other toppings.

To freeze, prepared pizza method: double wrap and freeze the prepared pizza (without baking it) on the pizza pan. Unwrap and bake the frozen pizza at 400°F for about 22 minutes.

Alternative freezing method: after first punch down of dough, divide dough and place in a zip-loc bag and place in the freezer. To prepare, remove from freezer and place in a greased bowl. The dough will take about 8-10 hours to thaw and raise slightly. Pat out on grease pizza pan and proceed as directed above. I also freeze half the sauce in a small container for future use.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Our first sad looking goats... Caruna & Sparkles

We got our first 2 goats last year.   We had bought a registered Nigerian Dwarf doe and her 3 day old doeling.   I loved the temperaments.   And having a kid that young was just plain fun.  But, we wanted them for milk  and rapidly realized this wasn't a good match for me to milk size wise.   I bought an Udderly Ez Milker but that didn't help either.  Perhaps she had not been milked previously because she hated it.  She was 5 yrs old and had kidded before but she wanted no part of my milking her by hand or any other means.  

I went out a  month or so later and bought my first Alpine as a first freshener, in milk.  I went from less than a cup per milking to over a gallon a day.   And she stood to be milked like a dream.  She really was a great first milker.  I loved having all that milk too and was quickly making my first cheeses, yogurt and ice cream.  I also loved the elegance of the Alpines.  They somehow seeemed like real dairy goats to me too instead of pets.

Tina , our first Alpine
Iron-Rod STG Sustina

Then when we decided to get the pigs, we knew we wanted to add milk to their diet so added our second Alpine. 

Our second doe - Passion

Munchin Hill Passion

We have since placed our Nigerians and only have the 2 big girls.    I still thought a smaller goat would be more appropriate for this sized homestead so I made arrangements to breed the girls to a Nigerian buck.  They could be registered in the Miniature Dairy Goat Assc. as long as both parents are registered and the kids would be somewhere in size between the parents.   I've read the mini's generally give about 2/3 the milk and are 1/2 the size.  Sounded perfect.

Passion came in season this week.  We got her to the buck but it just didn't happen. I guess I have heard so much about keeping bucklings away from all does including their mothers after 8 weeks that I just didn't think too much about them actually not being able to "fit" because of the size difference. We stayed with them for a while as it was suppose to be a "driveway breeding" but after being there for over an hour trying to get the job done we decided maybe a sleep over would help. It didn't. I picked her up sat. in the rain and slush and brought her home. She was exhausted and slept all the way home. I have luckily found a French Alpine buck and will be breeding her and my other doe to him next go round.  Although I had hoped to downsize a bit from the big goats, the logistics of breeding two different sized goats is too much for me for this year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Food Inc. the movie

I tried to see this movie this summer but it was either sold out or not available in my area.   I finally rented it from Netflex when it came out this month.  Whenever a movie like this comes out I get such an affirmation by watching it to continue with my dreams of becoming less and less dependant on the large chain grocery stores.  

Some of the facts and interesting tidbits in the movie :

  • There are on average 47,000 products in the typical grocery store but much of that is corn based so although it seems like great variety it is, in fact, not.

  • McDonalds is the largest purchaser of pototoes.

  • Tyson is the biggest meat packing company in the history of the world.

  • It's 48 days to slaughter for chickens factory farmed in which time they never see sunlight.

  • One of the biggest predictors of obesity is a low income level.

  • One in three American  people born after 2000 will develop  early onset diabeties  
Polyface Farm was in a segment of the movie.  I've known about Polyface for sometime but I haven't been one of their customers.   I certainly live close enough....about 40 miles away and they have buying clubs in the town right next to mine that they deliver to regularly.   I finally bit the bullet and put my frugal side in my pocket and joined the ranks of being a Polyface customer.  It has been hard to accept paying the price they are getting and I might add they deserve, when you can buy what they are selling so much less expensively in a large chain grocery store but I feel it's well worth it now.  And in fact it's really not the same product either.  Not all beef is created equally.  I can't produce it all right now on my little 3 acres.  Maybe I can get close in time. It is certainly my goal.   For now I will spend the additional money for honest food that I am not yet able to produce at home. 

Rent the movie if you can.  It's worth watching.

Monday, November 23, 2009

American Guinea Hogs

Friday I drove from Virginia to Alabama to pick up our new GH boar piglet. We named him Basil. We got our 2 gilts (girls for those that don't know) a few weeks ago in Maryland. We called the girls Rosemary and Thyme. We thought a trio would be good for us.

American Guinea Hogs are listed as an endangered breed of pig by the Rare Breed Livestock Conservancy which means there are less than 200 of them. They are much smaller than other pigs, about the size of pot bellied pigs. They are normally docile and friendly and tasty so I hear. We have named them so I am sure we won't eat them but they make great little rototillers and in this horrid, rocky, spent soil I need all the help I can get.

These guys have been such fun. They are all about 3 months old. The boar is 2 weeks younger than the gilts and since he got here 2 weeks later than the girls he's low man on the totem pole for the time being. I had read they may be territorial initially with him and not let him eat near them or sleep with them but he wasn't having any part of that. He is a bit intimidated by the girls but not so much that he was going to sleep alone or miss a meal. Soon he'll be bigger than they are and smell, to the girls at least, like a boar and the hierachy will change.
Related Posts with Thumbnails