Shortest day. Longest night. Tonight we hold Vigil for the beginning of this year’s Journey back into the light… . Blessed Solstice. 🖤 . . When I think about the return to Summer, this image always comes to mind. The epitome of the warmth and beauty of Summertime, with the bestest horse. 🖤
Monty didn’t make it. If you follow me on Instagram, or we’re friends on FB, you already knew that. Sadly, chicks that need help to hatch have a low chance of survival. But, I always try. I always want to give life a chance. Sometimes, oft times, I lose to Death. Sometimes tho…sometimes, I win. Like with 13 the Turkey (who is one of my best layers and broodies). And Lefty the chicken, who brought me her clutch of 5 chicks last Fall. So I always try…
Anyways… I said I’d keep y’all updated, and there, now y’all know. Yesterday I just took the day to putter in the garden and sit with the grief of it. I know he was just a 2 day old duck, who likely was gonna end up in Freezer Camp, but still… We have a connection to our food animals here. When you raise them, and love them, and give them the best life they can have, there is a connection that makes you hurt when you lose one prematurely. And it’s not because of the loss of food, it’s the loss of the life that leads up to that… There was no chance to swim and splash. No chance to chase bugs. Or play with other ducks. Or waddle about to and fro like ducks like to do. That’s what I was…am…mourning. The life that leads up to the moment, that one bad moment, where the food animals fulfill their destiny. I might be a bit soft for Farm Life.
And, I know I can avoid that grief by not helping chicks out of shells, but, as I said… I always want to give Life a chance. Always. That’s just me.
Last night we sat on the deck, with music and wobbly pops and bbq. And in one quiet moment, The Kid says “I hear chirping…and it’s not Bart!” We looked at the cat house where the broody hens were… I reached in under those hens and found a wee surprise:
And so now we’re back at 2. Life. She’ll always find Her way. ❤
We have some chickens who insist, and I mean *insist*, that they need to be broody. Big problem is, we don’t currently have a working rooster. We lost all our boys over the winter, and none of the oprpingtons or jersey giant boys are ready for working with full sized hens. Them boys is just too young. But, one should never let a broody hen go to waste if they can help it. Last year we had a broody hatch out a dozen ducklings. So we gave these bitches, who had taken over the cat house from the cats on the deck, duck eggs.
Now, every couple of days I go in and look for chicken eggs and take those away. Because…egg bombs are gross. I had found a duck egg with a huge peck/crack in it, so I took it away…only to crack it and find a baby (still breathing) in it. I can’t convey how awful I felt because there was no way at all to save that baby. So I did the kindest thing. And had a good cry afterwards. 😥
Since that egg, I candled the others under the brody chickens, and found 2 that I was pretty sure were rotting, but I left them just in case I was wrong. Figured if they went past 45 days under the hens (muscovy take 35 days and sometimes longer to hatch) then I’d toss ’em into the fire. Welp, good thing I didn’t. This little numpkin was found wandering on the deck:
After finding this one, I checked the eggs underneath the hens… Another on had pipped. Typically after pipping, the chick will “unzip” the egg shell, making it into 2 halves, then kick it’s way out. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen. But, we always give the babies the chance to do it on their own. They’re always stronger if they can get themselves out.
So we waited for the day. But the 2nd baby didn’t get past the pipping stage. So I intervened.
I’ve helped many chickens, a few turkeys, but never a duckling. I don’t know if the blood was normal. But, if I didn’t get baby out, they were going to die either way. I figured if they made it through the night, they earned a name.
So, meet Monty…
My brain says Monty ain’t gonna make it…but my heart says it won’t be a for a lack of trying.
Way back in the fall, I joined a seed swap on Instagram. It was a fun way to share seeds from our areas and seeds from plants we love. The host, Ash from Grower’s Blend, gifted participants with seeds from her own shop. She sent me both Gun Metal Grey tomatoes and Inkspot microdwarf tomatoes. I am a huge tomato nerd and was over joyed with these seed packets.
So a few weeks ago, after a discussion with Hubby about growing food indoors, I decided to start some of the Inkspots. They’re little, can be kept as a houseplant easily, and they make food. Gotta like that. So into some potting soil went 5 seeds. All 5 sprouted. And look how damn cute these wee tomatoes are!
For scale, I started them in those individual yogurt serving cups. (please remember, I don’t buy those yogurt cups, we get them in our Loop food waste for farm animals pickups) Doesn’t help? Okay, here’s one with my coffee cup for scale…
It’s a big cup, about 5 inches tall, holds several traditional cups of coffee at a time. Because coffee is life, ya know?
Anyways, the tomatoes… Almost ready for their next pots. I’ve a handful of 3/4 gallon pots that will be their permanent homes and we’ll see how they do. If nothing else, the happiness factor of having houseplants (with cats who don’t really care about them) is worth something.
Today 2 of my very favorite beings on this planet turn 21. This one:
Sable…who we assigned this day and her age to match her human. We can only guesstimate both because she did come to us via Rescue who nabbed her at a meat auction. Vet says we’re pretty darn close on year, so she can share cake with her Girl.
Yup, the other one is our Kid. Today she turns 21. No picture of her because she’d punch me 6 ways from Sunday for posting one…and we don’t have an updated shot of her and Sable together since Ma Nature has been kicking our butts.
But, we got through the last blizzard, and we’ll get through today’s. Then we’ll dig out and go again.
For today though, we’re just gonna celebrate our 2 birthday girls. 🙂
Oh, and note that there’s a lot more gold on that pretty face up there…that means her summer coat is coming in underneath…spring is coming. When you see gold peeking through the Palomino Princess’s winter coat, spring is on it’s way!
Apologies to those that I haven’t emailed. There have been some amazing, generous, fantastic folks who sent gifts and bought us coffee. I know I didn’t email our thanks. I am sorry for that. I will do better with expressing gratitude. Please know that I am beyond grateful for the gifts/coffees. They have brightened this Yule season for us immensely. I love each and every one of you and am so appreciative for your friendship. ❤
Merry Christmas, my friends. What a difficult, trying year it’s been. How hard it’s been getting this far into it. I hope you all are with loved ones, be they family or friends or both. I hope you are surrounded by people who care about you, and value you for the amazing being that you are. ❤
I think I probably won’t have a year end post. I probably will pickup in the New Year. So if I don’t post before then…
Happy New Year! May 2022 treat you with gentle kindness and love. May we all remember what it means to love one another. May we all remember what it means to be kind. May we all remember that division damages, unity heals. Let us all unite and heal. Instead of more of the same, let’s do our very best to do better in 2022. And, if you can’t do that, then I hope you get the year that you deserve. 😉 What…you didn’t think I was gonna be all love and light without a little darkness in there too, didja?? 😂
Last week we ran a Freezer Camp for the cornish meat chickens. The ones we did could have used a bit more time to bulk up, but we’re going ahead with getting them done by the end of this week. And it’s the last time I’m raising cornish chickens. I’m so done with these guys. The last few years, the quality of chick seems to be declining. I don’t know why, and I’m not accusing the hatchery of anything. We just haven’t had them grow as well as they should and this year we’ve had far, far too many broken bones. Not just legs either. And then with last week’s thunder storm, we lost more than 15 of them because they piled up on each other in the coop (even though the coop was wide open and they were free to come and go as they please) and smothered each other. So, out of 75 chicks, once I finish butchering them this week, we’ll have 35 birds. That is ridiculous.
Meanwhile, my home hatched roosters? Not a single loss. 28 in the bachelor pen and when the thunder was rumbling, they were screaming right back at it. 😂😂😂 So next year we’re focusing on home hatched/raised birds. No more cornish meats to die on a whim or because a fly farted too close to them. Hardy dual purpose backyard crosses, bred for size, flavor and hardiness. And maybe we can encourage people to come back to eating slow food through our breeding program. The roosters are best cooked low and slow…they’re crockpot food, not fast frying. But that long slow cook extracts all the nutritional goodness out of them, so it really is the best way. For when we want bbq, I remove the breasts, brine or marinate them, and then roast the rest of the carcass.
So I hope we can encourage people to embrace slow food (which with the prevalence of instapots these days, doesn’t even need to be slow) and move away from the supermarket chicken. Who knows…we’ll see. We simply can’t bear the financial losses that go with cornish anymore.
But what goes with running a Freezer Camp is the inevitable roasting of backs/necks/carcasses, making bone broth and then the canning of the meat bits and broth. That’s where I am today. On the roasting part. So the house, even though it’s hot af again, smells like delicious roasted chicken. Needless to say, we’re having some sort of chicken dish for supper tonight. 😂😂😂
The garden is ramping up well. Beans are producing. I have the rows of royal burgundys to pick and can. Same with the yellows. I have to get more mulch in around the pintos…they’re starting to blossom, and the weeds are fighting hard to take over. So I’ll pull weeds, feed the geeses and mulch, mulch, mulch. We had a small meal from the Painted Pony beans. They were tasty, but I was disappointed with the strings. I hadn’t realized how tough the strings on them were. So I’m on the fence about growing them again. Love, love, love them for the name and provenance (named for the American Paint Horse…and we know how Wolfie feels about them APHA gals, right? 😉 ) but if they’re tough and stringy, I’ll find a better heirloom bean for us (royal burgundys).
I’m eating radish seed pods like crazy. Nom. Nom. Nom. I did not know before this year how damn tasty they are! I’ve marked out a few plants that I’m going to let seed pods dry on so that we have radish seeds for next year, but aside from those few, I’m eating, eating, eating. The black radishes are huge. Size of my fist and bigger. So I plan to ferment some. Fermented radishes are yummy. Really, really, yummy. And easy to do. But we’ve never had huge ones like this that I could ferment…and we’ve always just eaten them from the garden with salt, or in potato salad. Now I have enough to ferment. That’s on the list to do this week. Might even sneak a beet into a jar with some radishes. *drools* I love the idea of fermented radishes and beets together. Hopefully it tastes as good in real life as it does in my head. 😂😂😂
And now off to work for me, because I have 19 chicken carcasses in my oven waiting for me…but to finish the post with a picture of my APHA gal…because no matter what, I will always love her and will never have a day where I don’t think of her. ❤
Oof, we made it to July. Holy moly it’s hot! We’re in the midst of a heatwave as I write this…though, by the time I hit publish, it should have broken. I hope. It’s been waaaay too hot! Like beyond what we normally get in July, hot.
And we’re dry. Drought conditions again. I got my 1st cut of hay 1/2 done. Baled and put up in the garage. Got the rest of 1st cut to do this week, and then we start rain dancing for reals…again. So that hopefully I can pull a 2nd cut. I’m hoping out Hay Guy has been having an excellent harvest. I haven’t heard from him, and with him, no news is good news. It’s when he texts a month early and says “you guys need hay this year?” that I lose my mind. He knows we need hay, he knows how much hay we need, and I never consider adding a new hay eater without checking to see if I can get more from him. I’m still Dreaming of sheep. But I’m also hoping that the price doesn’t go up again this year. I will understand if it does, and I won’t bitch, but I’m hoping it doesn’t…
In other news…
Pinto beans got a replanting today. They were very sparse coming up and I’m pretty sure it was due to lack of watering. So new round planted, and new sprinkler hooked up to cover more of the garden in one watering…I hate moving the sprinkler. 😂😂😂 It’s such a pain in the butt. But, if we want a whole lotta beans for the shelves, I have to suck it up and move the sprinkler when watering. Greens are in need of thinning. Radishes are growing gangbusters. Onions too… Lookin’ like I might have to make a huge batch of potato salad to nom nom nom on next week. That aside, garden is getting weeded, watered and mulched on the daily. Goose babies are gobbling down every weed I give them. Turkeys are wandering the yard, sadly calling anyone to bring them a pail of weeds…because The Food Lady is mean and won’t let them into the garden. *insert sad turkey face here*
Our first muscovy ducklings have hatched. Somehow we ended up with a house duckling… Well, it was because it was +38*c and baby came out into the heat and wilted. All the others with MamaDuck were beetling around doing great, but this one wasn’t. So, I brought baby inside…I like to give life a chance before culling. And as I write this, I hear that duckling chirping up a storm, trying to convince my Kid that it has to sit in her lap and no where else. 😂😂😂 Babies tend to get spoiled here.
And just for knowledge’s sake…in case you ever wanted to know, broody turkeys stink. O.M.G. S.T.I.N.K. Stinky, stinky, stinky. I thought maybe it was because she hadn’t been off the nest in a while, but nope. Emma tried to go broody in the duck yard, where she was outside all the time and oof…same stench. I don’t know why. I don’t know if anyone else’s turkey hens are like this. But my broody turkey stink. *insert vomiting emoji here*
There is other news, but it’s going to have to wait for another post…the chores and the need to water everyone is calling… 🙂
It’s another warm one here, though no where near as bad as it’s been the past few days.
Last night we got an amazing down pour of rain.
It’s made everything growing perk up a lot.
5 days ago I planted just about 800 bean seeds in the garden.
Whole rows popped up overnight.
I’m so happy to see that!!
Tomatoes and peppers are outside (not planted yet) and came though a-ok.
Only downside is the pressure is killing my head.
I’m sitting in the air conditioning, drinking beer and trying to ignore the migraine trying to rip my head off.
I’m also editing a few pictures I took today.
We popped over to the local horse Rescue to take some shots.
So I’ve got those working, as well as a few of the mares here.
Because how can I take pictures of other horses and not my own?
I’m actually marveling over how well our CinderBella (Sable) is doing this year.
2 years ago at this time she was so sick…we had no idea what was wrong and honest to Dog, I wasn’t sure she was gonna pull through.
I spent many a night praying to Epona for clear guidance on whether to let her go or not.
Thankfully, as we were reaching our financial limit, Epona said “It’s not her time yet, she has more to do for Me” and our sweet mare made an abrupt turn around.
I cannot express how grateful I am for that turn around…to this day, we still don’t know what caused the infection that made her sick, or even where exactly it was…we know she has arthritis in her TMJ, but that shouldn’t/wouldn’t have caused the infection.
Either way, she’s been running at anywhere from 95-100% heathly since.
She is such a special horse and we are so lucky to have her in our lives.