Winter is Coming

And I’m already tired.

The nights have been cooler.
The days, when not raining, well, not so much.
But the nights are cooler, and there is a definite scent of Fall in the air.

I’m not ready.
There is so much work to do before we can settle in and say we’re ready for Winter.
The good news?
I have the hay money all set aside for a full delivery of hay, not a month to month purchase like last year.
Thank Epona for that!! Just have to get that arranged…

But before winter comes we have so much other stuff to do…
I have to start 2nd cut on my hay.
Now it’s going to be just the front, around the fruit trees.
Hubby used the mower on the tractor to cut the back yard because we had people come out for our Anniversary party.
The grass wasn’t quite long enough for hay yet, and we needed to not sit in mosquio-ized grass.

There’s this guy…

Meat chicken…

And 48 of his friends (we lost one last weekend to a “piling” incident) to get ready for their Freezer Camp session…

As well as this guy…

Andy Piggie

And 5 of his pals to do the same with.
Plus, once the pig processing starts, I’m hoping to run the smoker for a few days and get some hams and bacon done as well.
Last year I didn’t get bacon done before winter, and um, I was sad.
LOL!
Having home smoked bacon for the winter months will be wonderful…but pigs don’t start the Freezer Camp journey until into October, and the weather can be unpredictable then.
Of course, now that Hubby’s garage is cleaned up, I can run it in there in cases of inclement weather.
So, that’s a huge bonus!

I’m also working on getting this one…

Used to wearing a blanket.
It’s been a slow and steady process, and neither one of us have died yet.
That’s good. 😉
I figure with the way the weather has effected her the past couple rough seasons, being able to toss a blanket on her (and Sable as well) will go a long way towards my sanity through the long cold months.
Normally, I don’t worry about blankets for the Girls, but the 2 Old Ladies sometimes just need a little extra help.
And it’s my responsibility to make sure they get it.

And then there’s these 2…

Quack quack quack

Ducks are new to me.
I’ve never wintered ducks before.
This is a learning experience, and again, it’s my responsibility to make sure they get what they need.

Oh, and there’s the garden to put to bed, once things are done there.
That should be done before pigs go to Camp, so that the pigs can eat some of the left overs…pea plants, bean plants, carrot tops…that sorta thing.
Sadly, can’t give ’em potato plants or tomato plants, because nightshade family, so those will be burned.
Then we can cover in manure, pull the tarp and stake it down.
All so we can be ready for next spring, when the plan/hope is to get the whole of the garden planted.

We’re also hoping to set the fence posts for the next pasture.
I know, said that last summer/fall, but yeah, I really want either a milk cow or a couple steers next year to round out the meat freezers. Another pasture is a need, to be able to do either one.

At the end of the day, I know all will be well.
The Kid will miss a few weekends of riding lessons while the work gets done, we’ll work until we’re so tired we can’t think…then go do some more, and all will get done.
Why?
Because, it has to be done.
That’s the simple answer.

So, if you start seeing one picture posts, or no posts for a little while, it’s all good.
We’re just getting ready for the inevitable.
Winter is coming.

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Oh My Gosh

Let me tell you about my week, last week!

Since the weather is cooling, the Girls have been getting fuzzy, and I’m constantly adjusting their beet pulp/flax rations. Horses can have delicate digestive systems, so changes have to be made slow and steady…that’s the norm. We all know one or two horses, though, that have iron stomachs and can handle any change, any time.
My Cookie used to be like that.
Not so much anymore. Especially not since she had her colic incident a few months back…be warned, if you go read that, the language is salty. If cursing offends you, well, just trust me when I say Cookie colicking is something to worry about, ‘kay?

Now, I watch her and her tummy as close as I watch Sable.
Sable colics so easily! I am very lucky that, so far (knock on wood, and thanks to all deities I believe in), she hasn’t had an episode I couldn’t handle.

Last week, I noticed Cookie wasn’t quite herself. Not colicking, but she was off. Which sounds silly, but ask any horse owner. We know when our hoofed kids are off, and you watch them, because you never know what could happen.
So, as she layed down in the pasture, I figured it was a good time for a back rub. Well, she sure enjoyed that! After a while (I can’t tell time and rub pony backs at the same time! 😛 ) she decided she’d had enough, got up, walked away and dropped a pile of manure.
I left her alone after that.

Later on though, after she had her beet pulp (which had, for about 2 weeks, included 1 cup of oats. Just plain oats we get from the Farmer down the road from us) she was off again…so I said to Hubby, I was going pull her off the oats (slowly) and increase her flax. Last winter, when I increased her flax, her whole demeanor changed. With age, and the cold, her body clearly needed something more. Spring came, and she stopped finishing her bucket until I reduced the flax. She was telling me that there was too much for what her body needed. Horses are pretty darn amazing creatures, if we just listen to them!

So, I pulled her off the oats, and I saw improvement. But, not 100%. Again, it’s not that she was showing anything more than just being a little off. If I wasn’t here all the time, I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything different. I would have chalked things up to mare-ish mood swings.
Next step was adding probiotics to her diet.
Easiest, and most economical, way to do that is with yogurt. I make a gallon of yogurt a week, give her 1/2 a cup in her beet pulp-because shooting it into her mouth like dewormer was not a good time to be had by either one of us!-and there’s enough for me to enjoy too. 🙂
LOL! Yeah, I started out trying to give it to her like when we deworm them. Hahahaha!! Oh, that was stupid!
1200lbs of cranky assed mare, and then, once I got it in her mouth she changed, and decided that “Hey! That was good! I want more!” and got super pushy trying *get more*.
Into the beet pulp went the next day’s dosage.

Then, just as I was getting that figured out, our Girl Astrid came in for beet pulp with a large amount of burrs in her forelock. Thinking nothing of it while she ate, I worked on getting them out of her hair.
As it turns out, if it’s windy while pulling burrs out, one should always be aware/careful about the job.
Taking a piece of burr to the eye is a painful, unpleasant, nasty bit of business. It will, quite seriously, mess up your day…or, week, in my case.
At first, I thought, since it was dusty too, that a piece of dirt had got me. Nope, as I rubbed to get the dirt out (yes, stupid, stupid, stupid, I know), I realized that was no dirt!

That was Tuesday, and I finally was able to see properly (and without my eye itching) yesterday.
I had to rinse my eye (not fun ever), alternate between ice packs for the swelling and chamomile tea bags to promote healing, and so much Reactine and Excedrin!
It was not fun.
Add to that I felt awfully stupid for having it happen, because people pull burrs from their horses all the time right? No one ever talks about getting the stupid things in their eye…so there, *I’m* talking about it, because damn, it hurts! And, if it hurts a human, imagine what it would feel like to an equine who got a bit in their eye. 😦

Now I’m a week behind in work, and it’s taken this long to update y’all here, plus (and this is the worst of it 😛 ) I spent a whole week without being able to take pictures. Can’t do it, if you can’t see your subject! That’s why this post is so much words…so very many words. Instead of the pictures y’all are used to.
I do have a couple for you though, from pre-burr-to-the-eye times…

This is actually from the first day I noticed she wasn't quite herself...

This is actually from the first day I noticed she wasn’t quite herself…

The next morning, as the sun came up, I saw this…

Awwww!  She's just plain perfect. <3

Awwww!
She’s just plain perfect. ❤

Hopefully, this week I’ll have camera in hand again. In fact, I have to!
Our meat chickens, the Peepers, are going to Freezer Camp this week, and I want to photograph it. Not to be gruesome, but because I have always believed that knowing what goes into you food hitting your plate is important.
There will be a blog post.
I will put pictures under a “Read More” tag…just so the folks with queasy tummies won’t have it all out there in their faces.
I will, however, encourage you to look at the images. Especially if you eat meat.
I can guarantee the Peepers have had a good life. Lots of food, including wandering about for bugs and such, fresh water several times a day, shelter at night but wandering the chicken yard during the day, and tootling their chicken sounds at me every chance they get. Their life has been good, as it should be for every animal that is raised to become food.
I look forward to sharing this with you, our journey from chicks to chickens in the freezer.
🙂
Happy Food Tastes Better.

Happy Food Tastes Better

That is the new Farm motto:

Happy Food Tastes Better

We’re keeping “Where horses get a second chance & the humans never give up” as well. We’re just adding on, now that we’re growing meat animals and have laying hennys.

Ihop June to August 2016

Ihop, the day she came home, and last week…

As a quick aside…we had thought we’d lost Ihop when we lost the henny to being egg bound. Nope, turned out to be a different hen, and I found Ihop shuffle-hopping about the henny yard last week. She’s been really good at hiding that shuffle hop when she wants to!

Any ways…
Happy Food Tastes Better expresses in 4 words how we feel about raising food animals.

Peeper having a drink of water.

Peeper having a drink of water.

I am, have always been, and always will be, a firm believer in knowing where your food comes from, and how it is raised. The new motto says that without the long-winded discussions.
Though, I am always happy to talk about knowing your food, knowing your farmer, and creating your own sense of food security. These are things I can talk about for hours!
😀
But, that’s another post for another day.
Today the important thing is this:

Happy Food Tastes Better
We at Midnight Calico Farm are dedicated to growing Happy food.

Nigella Piggie seeing what the Food Lady has brought her.

Nigella Piggie seeing what the Food Lady has brought her. It was a thistle…Nigella Piggie loves thistles. 🙂

 

A Slice of My Life

Yesterday was a break in the constant rain. Yeah, I know, shouldn’t complain about rain when others aren’t getting. Really though, we’re soggy. Parts of my pasture are still under water. Oh, we have darn good growth out there. Some of it too much-which sounds crazy, with 4 giant grass eaters, but they, like most horses, are picky. Once the grass gets too long, it’s not as palatable to them, so they don’t eat it. That’s when we mow it…but if it’s to wet to get out there with the mower…well, you can see where that might be a problem.

Anyways, with yesterday’s break we worked on weeding some of the garden spaces. Sadly, nothing has been planted, because weeds got away on us in the non stop rain. I mean, seriously got away on us…

That's my garden...

That’s my garden…

It’s overgrown with grass, thistles, stinging nettle, wild canola and clover.
*sigh*
Same with my 9 smaller raised beds. Yesterday, though, we cleaned out 6 of the 9 and I planted some of the starts I had in the basement…I have no expectations from them. After forgetting my first rounds of tomatoes and peppers (they died without water) being busy with Sable’s hoof issues over spring, I replanted things. Well, surprise! I forgot about them again. *facepalm*
And so, if you know me at all, you have an idea of how hard on me this has been, no garden.
The past 3 summers have been like this, while I’m adjusting to planting out here, compared to the city. I’ll get it yet, but it’s been a hard learning curve…one that’s left me a little bruised and battered feeling.

My half dead cukes...they did perk up with watering, so I'm cautiously hopeful.

My half dead cukes…they did perk up with watering, so I’m cautiously hopeful.

Sad peppers...:( Including 3 Thai Chili Peppers.  Fingers crossed?

Sad peppers… 😦
Including 3 Thai Chili Peppers.
Fingers crossed?

Chocolate mint...in a bag wrapped tomato cage, to protect it from the hoard of cats...at least until it gets firmly established.

Chocolate mint…in a bag wrapped tomato cage, to protect it from the hoard of cats…at least until it gets firmly established.

The other boxes I put in some bush bean seeds. Bush beans are fast growers, and hopefully, we can get some from them. And, well, as I clear more of the big bed, I’m putting more bean seeds in there. Beans is definitely something we love to eat here. 🙂

And, underneath all the frustrations from not having the garden planted, there is the knowledge that all those weeds, as I pull them out, are still contributing to the winter food supply. How’s that, you ask?
Well, all the weeds get tossed to the piggies.

Anthony Piggie sleeping in a pile of weeds.

Anthony Piggie sleeping in a pile of weeds.

The girlies LOVE weeds. Thistles are their faves-both purple and sow-with the canola and stinging nettle easy seconds. And grass? Oh yeah! So, even with not being able to produce plants for us, the garden weeds are still not just being burned or wasted.

A little Piggie side eye...hoping for more nummies. ;)

A little Piggie side eye…hoping for more nummies. 😉

Besides, it’s not like we’re not producing any food for us…
There’s the piggies, who will go to Freezer Camp in October, there’s the hennys, giving us eggs…and how pretty is this sight?

Three hennys sit in the same spot just about every day to give us three eggs.

Three hennys sit in the same spot just about every day to give us three eggs.

And, we just added these guys (and gals):

Peepers!!

Peepers!!

We got 15 Cornish cross day old chicks last Thursday. Oh my gosh, they’re just so cute! lol
And in 8-12 weeks time, they’ll be going to Freezer Camp as well.

That's a peeper with some attitude!

That’s a peeper with some attitude!

One thing the rain *has* been great for is the fruit trees.

Pear

Pear

That pear tree was only about 12″ tall when I uncovered it…the pears have been very slow growing. :/ But now, with the rain, and a ring of rotted horse manure around the base, it’s more than doubled in height and thickened up beautifully!

All the fruit trees have been the same…except one apple that didn’t make it through the winter. But it didn’t stand a chance against Daphne, the stick chewing dog, who doesn’t know the difference between a stick in the snow and a tree. D’Oh!

Apple tree...up 8", and several new branches.

Apple tree…up 8″, and several new branches.

So, really, things may not be going to plan 100%, but, we’re adapting and over coming. We’re getting things done, and we’re learning.
Next year, we’ll try again to make the garden work. I know we can do it, we’ll just have to persevere.

One final photo…

Gabrielle

Gabrielle

Our wilding kitty Gabrielle…Anna and Banana’s mama.
And now, a spayed kitty, who can focus on her real job here…hunting.