Thwart

I swear, Mother Nature is working to thwart my spring building plans.
Or, maybe I’m just too antsy to get things going.
Ultimately, I think it’s a mixture of both.
Weather wise, we’re a good 10-15 degrees cooler than normal for this time of year. Which means there’s still frost in the ground, and we still have a lot of snow to melt.
I’m waiting to move last summer’s duck house into the garden.
It’s frozen to the ground right now. :/

Once the duck house is in the garden, we can put up the fence around the garden. There’s 2 reasons for this fence…because I want to use the adult poultry to weed and feed the garden before planting. Ducks, I have learned, are awesome at killing and eating any and all plants they find.
So, I want to put them to use cleaning up the remaining weeds from last year. Like I’ve always said, the only animals around this Farm with no real job are the horses. They get to eat money and be pretty. Everyone else works.
The other reason is cats…I’m hoping a fence will keep them out. A freshly tilled and planted garden is just too tempting for lazy cats who don’t want to go to the pasture to make their daily deposits.
And I’m tired of cat poo in my garden.
Fingers crossed the fence will help.

Once the poultry are moved to the garden, I get to give the coop a deep cleaning, install some hardware cloth in the bottom and then we put chicks in there.
Both eggies and a first round of meaties.
The plan is (and goodness knows, things rarely go according to plan, but I keep trying!) to get 2 different varieties of brown egg layers (10 of each) from the hatchery we buy our meat chicks from, and then to get 15 easter egg layers…which, if I’m understanding chicken things right, are a barnyard mix who lay colourful eggs.
I just want a little bit of pretty colour in my egg basket. πŸ™‚

And then, near the end of May, when the weather (hopefully) gets back to normal, the year’s pig babies will come.
*sigh*
It’s hard to have patience when there’s so much to do, and yet, the time to do it isn’t quite here yet.

In the meantime, here’s a few pictures of the mutt…just because her excitement and exuberance with a jolly (no longer) ball makes me smile…

It once was a ball, I swear!!

The 55lb chewing powerhouse destroys all…including horse toys.

Sometimes she slows down enough for a posed picture…not very often though!

And then there’s this one…

Oh how I love this boy!

How can one not smile when face to face with a cat napping in the long grass and sunshine? ❀

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Creature

This fellow…

Ghost ❀

He is such a lovely creature.

He appeared one day, a couple of years ago, out of nowhere.
Thin, scraggly and feral.
Time, good food and a lot of patience, and here we are…

He’s my lap sitting snuggle buddy.
Once we caught him, we took him for vetting, got him fixed and he’s been a happy boy ever since.
He’s done well this winter, as you can see.
Not too many farm cats look pregnant…especially the boys! πŸ˜‚
But, my felines eat well on butchering scraps and a handful of kibble here and there.
He’s such a sweetheart.
I do love my big GhostCat.
❀

Cookie’s Favorite Cookies

This face…


She could smell her favorite gingerbread cookies before they even hit the oven. πŸ˜‰
I don’t know what it was about that particular recipe, but that horse would call for them as soon as she smelled me baking them. And, if I happened to go out to the pasture with a few warm-from-the-oven ones for her, she’d love me for days and days afterwards.
❀

Cookie’s Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon 😘
1/4 tsp ground cloves ~ I used fresh ground nutmeg instead, because I have it on hand for egg nog.
6 tbsps unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsps vanilla

  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper
  3. whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt ginger, cinnamon, and cloves (nutmeg)
  4. in large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and egg on medium speed until well blended
  5. add molasses and vanilla and mix until well blended
  6. gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth
  7. wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in fridge for 15 minutes

Now, from here you can leave the dough in the fridge for up to a week and bake as needed.

When it comes to baking, you can roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes, or you can do what I do…

  1. Roll a tbsp or so of dough into a ball.
  2. roll ball of dough in white sugar to coat
  3. place on parchment lined cookie sheet
  4. smoosh a wee bit flat
  5. bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes
  6. Enjoy!!

That’s it.
Simple, easy peasy gingerbread cookies that made my darling Paint lose her mind. πŸ˜‰

“Where’s my cookies, Food Lady?!?” ❀

And Then There Were 2…

We’ve been working on sending the pigs to Freezer Camp.
So far, 4 have gone to Camp, with 2 left to take care of this weekend.
We’re down to AndyPiggie(picture) and CharlottePiggie.

First to go to Camp were:

1. LitaPiggie, who was the biter and meanest pig of the 6…she was also the one who kept climbing onto the pig shelter and trying to make the leap into the chicken yard.

I won’t miss that miserable b***h at all.

2. ImeldaPiggie, so named because she loved shoes. My crocs the most…she also enjoyed a good back scratch and a belly rub. Of all the pigs this year, she was the sweetest girl.

3. MaryPiggie. The runt of the 6, and the toughest. This girl fought for food every darn day, even with 3 feeding stations. She just wanted all the food, all the time. Healthy and happy otherwise, just hated sharing food with her piggie sibs.

4. GeorgePiggie. Our smallest boy, who turned out to be quite the chunk. Had he not been castrated before coming to us, he likely would have made quite the boar for a small farmer like us. George rivaled Imelda for friendliness.

We’re getting into weather that is not conducive to pink piggies doing well outside. Cold like we have now (a record of -21*C this morning!!) means pink piggies start to lose body condition, and can actually freeze to death.
Certainly not what we want for these guys.
Pinkies are not meant for outdoor 24/7/365, that’s for sure!
So, to make sure they’re still happy and healthy until their date with the Freezer Camp director, they get ample straw bedding in their shelter, to snuggle down into and stay warm.
They also get 5-6 hot meals a day.
Smaller than when there was 6 of them, and just enough that they can finish it each time.

I use a mixture of hot water, left over coffee (hey, it happens sometimes! πŸ˜‰ ), and a pint of milk poured over their grains for each meal. And, the past week they’ve been getting a 1/2 cup of yogurt too, just to make sure tummies are working well and processing the food.

Seems like a lot of work for pigs we’re just going to kill, right?
It is.
But, the rule here is Happy Food Tastes Better and the best way to keep pigs happy is with a full belly and warmth.
Just because we’re going to butcher them, doesn’t mean that they deserve a lesser quality of life.

As far as we’re concerned, they get the same standard of care as any other animal here.

Hot mashes for horses?
Yup.
Hot mashes for chickens and ducks?
Yup.
Hot mashes for piggies?
Yup.
Really, what’s one more hot mash to make up, to keep the animals that will feed us for the winter happy and healthy?
That, to me, is time well spent.

Baling Hay

Last week I told you how I broke my baling bin.
In reality, I was using a simple blue recycling bin to shove my hay into and tie up.
I’ve been after Hubby to build me something a bit more substantial for a while now, because hay is an important commodity.
Yesterday, he got the job done, and I was able to bale up the last of my first cutting…

Simple box made out of 2x4s, 2x6s, and some other scrap bits we had around the Farm yard.

There are 4 nails in the bottom, to hold the baling twine in place while I fork mass amounts of hay into it…

Filled, strings tied…I think I could have filled it more, but that’s going to be a trial and error thing.

I also got him to put nails on the outside, so I can wrap the twine around them and keep it from shifting at the top.

Voila!
Finished bale.

The joy is, I can fill, stomp down and tie all by myself with this…I just place a knee on the grass to pull the twine tight and tie it.

Hubby holding the finished bale.

And that, my friends, is just about 25lbs of hay.
So, in terms of feeding, that’s an average daily meal for 1 horse.

Next thing to do is adapt the baler to put it on the furniture dolly, so it’s easy to move around. That’ll be done with a couple of eye bolts and a bungee cord or two, so that it’s not permanently fixed to the dolly.
After that, we’re onto building a hay shed, because seriously, Hubby is running out of room in the garage for my bales.
πŸ˜€
That’s a good problem to have!!

Friday’s Hunt June 4th

So, we’re well on our way to having the garden in…
Yesterday, The Kid and I got our last few small beds planted. She put in 300 kidney beans. Sounds like a lot, but you pretty much plant them, and then ignore them until the pods are finished and dried. The joy of a dry bean. However, that also means they don’t produce continuously, like most other beans. Bush bean, pole beans, they’ll produce more flowers and pods the more you pick them. Which is why we’ll also plant 2 types of pole beans, and a purple bush bean…for fresh eating and putting up for the winter.

Today, the plan is to work on the main garden bed…I did say, I will have a garden this year. It’s just going to take a whole lotta heavy lifting. πŸ˜‰
Good thing we’re not afraid to get out hands dirty.

This week’s prompts for Friday’s Hunt hosted by Teresa at Eden Hills are Starts with V, Week’s Favorite and Inch.

Starts with V

Now that we’re in June, summer vacation is coming up for The Kid. Already. The school year has flown past, I tell ya…
We won’t however, be taking any sort of family vacation. That’s just not something we can do…not with these guys:

My toddlers.

Truth be told, I’m not much of a vacation person anyways…I like to stay close to home, and I do love my Farm. πŸ™‚
(And yes, Sable is doing exactly what you think she is…)

Week’s Favorite

3 horse down…flat babies in the sunshine.

Life rarely presents fully finished photographs.
An image evolves, often from a single strand of visual interest – a distant horizon, a moment of light, a held expression.

~ Sam Abell

Inch

My helper cat, Sir Maximillion…helping me do what I do best…take pictures of the horses at sunrise:

Thankfully, he helped without his usual stance of having his butt an inch from my face. It’s really hard to take pictures like that.
LOL!

Hay Run

We hooked up the trailer for another hay run yesterday…

Bringing home the food for nags...

Bringing home the food for nags…

I like to do this early on a Sunday morning.
Get it done early and the day is ahead for whatever else needs doing.
Like napping. πŸ˜‰

On Friday, Hubby had brought home an apple jack for me.
Not the traditional apple jack (distilled apple juice…nom nom nom!) but the pastry, which is, basically, an apple hand pie rolled in cinnamon and sugar. That was my breakfast, with coffee, while we went up to the Hay Guy’s place.

Once home, I figured with the lovely sunlight, I’d go take a few pictures of the Girls, while Hubby unloaded hay and straw (for chickens)…well, it didn’t take long for someone to figure out I had eaten something that any horse would love!

"Uh. Huh. So, you dare come in here smellng like apples and you have none for me? Really?!?" ~Cookie

“Uh. Huh.
So, you dare to come in here with apples on your breath and you have none for me?
Really?!?”
~Cookie

I tried to tell her it was an apple jack, that there was cinnamon involved, that she doesn’t like cinnamon (she’ll leave her beet pulp pail uneaten if there’s even a hint of cinnamon in it!), and well, quite honestly, she didn’t need any sweets. Seriously, her butt jiggles when she walks…sweet apple pies are not what she needs.

Yeah, her face says it all.
“Uh. Huh. Screw you, hooman…”
πŸ˜‰