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. 🖤
It’s been a busy one. Canning, butchering, more canning… The tomato shelf looks amazing, with jars and jars of sauce. All the white turkeys have gone to Freezer Camp. And I put a bunch of them into jars too for quick meals. Today I’m finishing up ducks and duck stock. We’re now at our winter numbers for birds. Have to say, I’m glad bird butchering is done, and we didn’t do anywhere near what we’ve done the past few years. But tomorrow is the big butchering day. Tomorrow we get our pig. This year all we’re doing for “fancy” or retail cuts is loin chops, the tenderloin, bacon (because why have pig if no bacon??), and ground. No roasts, no stew, just grind the rest. And bone broth. Because I love me some bone broth, so I’ll be making can canning much pork bone broth. Might make sausages, but truthfully, we tend to eat a lot of crockpot meals with ground meats throughout the winter, so ground is going to be better for us. Especially with all the tomato sauce I have jarred. 😉
And the duck coop/greenhouse will be finished today. Hubby and The Kid are putting the roof sheathing and metal on today, and then, the birds can move in… Then it’s just a deep clean of the chicken coop, move Lenny and Karl’s coop to the garage (after we get our hay delivery, because 6 bales go straight in for spring/next year) and get next year’s garlic planted. We heard from our Hay Guy yesterday and have delivery set up in a couple weeks…mares are still nommin on long pasture, and I have a line on a few round bales, so if we get short before our Guy can get to us, I’ll grab a couple rounds and put one out. Got straw home for the birds, with a chance for another dozen small bales for winter. Tomorrow I’ll make arrangements for rounds of straw for the mares, since we get rounds from the same farm as we get our piggie. And that’s where we’re at… Busy, getting ready as we can for stupid winter. But, here’s a cute picture of Lenny and Karl (our incubator ducklings) for ya:
We have a crazy amount of overland flooding going on right now. I did say that Lake Midnight was going to make a comeback this year, and boy freakin’ howdy, has she!!
The duck coop is flooded. Ducks are currently living in my garden. More than half the pasture is under water. We watched Ruby go through one of the deeper spots the other day and it was up to her chest…granted, she went through a shallow in the willows, but even before she got to the low, she was up past her knees…and she’s no shorty! My backyard is, literally, lakefront. The big field is covered.
But the frost is letting go and it’s slowly starting to soak in…and the ditches out front are flowing…at least they’re flowing away from us as far as we can see. Haven’t driven into the next municipality to see if their ditches have opened up…our field ultimately drains into a creek via the ditches down in the next municipality. We’ve been on the phone with them, trying to explain that those 10 and 15 foot snow banks *they created* over the winter are hindering the ditches from opening and letting the water flow away from all of us… *sigh*
Meet Lucy Goosey…
Lucy will be staying with us for a month or so, while she sits on her nest. I’m just hoping Astrid doesn’t notice she’s out there…Astrid is notorious for egg eating. I’d hate for Lucy to loose eggs to a horse!! 😭
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. ❤
Turkey babies (who are not so much babies anymore, but teens) needed their brooder cleaned. So I set up a yard within the big turkey yard, put out food and water and opened them up…and they proceeded to panic and fly here, there, and everywhere whilst screaming angst filled teenaged turkey anthems of woe and abuse because the whole wide world is scary and The Food Lady was murdering them. *sigh*
So they ran the big turkey yard (the big turkeys were still in their coop because they are too big to run with the teen turkeys who are still mid-sized and no match for a full sized hen, let alone Dingus or Oscar) while I scooped their mass of straw/feed/shit out… With this being the stenchiest part of the job, my Kiddo went off to feed the ducks and chicks in the Little Red Shed, only to come back to tell me 10 (58) chicks had popped their door and were now wandering around the building here, there and everywhere. *sigh*
With that, we rounded up the teenaged angst filled turkeys and put them back into the brooder…and let the big adults out because they were convinced that they were gonna starve to death.
If Oscar doesn’t eat 65.3 times a day, he will die. He is happy to regale you with tales of how I starve him and how he has died so many times for lack of food. *sigh*
As I cleaned out the next brooder (which is a half full combo of cornish and first hatchers), Kiddo let out and fed the ducks, geeses and big chickens. Geeses are mad that I haven’t dropped every single goddamed thing to get them some weeds right fucking now…and they are happy to tell me that in no uncertain terms.
I have not listened to them, other than to laugh and say “You’re on the list, I’ll get to you soon”. The next brooder got lined with shavings (because I’m out of straw and I don’t have the energy to chase anyone for any quite yet) and we set out to capture 10 (58) chicks and move them to it. 1 Wheelbarrow, a dog crate, 2 women, a dog and 3 horses… This is what it takes to move 10 (58) chicks out of the Little Red Shed to the brooder. Well, the dog and the horses are more a hindrance than help, but that is no surprise. And then there were 10 (58) chicks in the brooder. *sigh*
Finally, we got to the point of making sure all the feeders and waterer were topped up, collecting eggs (my turkey hens are trying to nest again and are rather put out that I keep stealing their smooth egg babies), the pools for the smaller ducks filled to warm in the sunshine for afternoon swimming and now? Now it is finally coffee time. While I play with money to pay the bills, buy some groceries and if all gets paid just right, maybe even a case of beer for Hubby. *sigh*
My helper at editing earlier this week… This is Homer J, our latest house duckling. He was abandoned by the hen who hatched him, left for dead at night in the duck yard. We found him and brought him inside. Honestly, didn’t think he was going to make it. But it’s been a week now, and he’s doing just fine. Singing up a storm and pooping everywhere but on my desk. 😉
This weekend we’re running our first Rooster Rehab of the year. 😂😂😂
Exhausting is the correct word for it. But my first and second hatches have resulted in 28 roos currently in the bachelor pen, with a few extra wandering with the cornish meat birds…oh, it’s time for the 28 to go Camping.
Somehow, after a huge Loop pickup last week that has stuffed our 2nd fridge to bursting while the birbs, cats and Daphne have been eating like Kings and Queens all week, I have to find space to let the roosters we process rest for a day or two before parting for the freezer. Lady Bless, I think I need a 3rd fridge for birb feed!
But, I’m sure not complaining! The animals are loving this extra feed, and I’m loving keeping the food out of the landfill.
The funniest thing though, has been the turkeys with their watermelon. 😂😂😂 So after they nearly killed me for strawberries and raspberries, I really thought watermelon would be just as exciting. I mean, how could it not be, right? Well…as it turns out, watermelons are terrifying. The turkey are beyond sure that it wants to kill them. They circled it for a few days and decided “Nope, not eating that” 😂😂😂
Scroll through ^^^ so you can see how wary the turkeys were of that killer melon. OMG. I’ve never seen anything like it. I ended up shoveling it up and giving it to the chickens…who demolished it in seconds. 😂😂😂
Anyways, I still have a bunch of produce and breads to dole out to the birds, and because it’s been sooooo hot, I have it stuffed into the spare fridge…where birds need to rest after butchering. It’s a good problem to have, having more food than space. Just means that the birds will be eating more produce this weekend, so I can fit Freezer Campers in for a bit.
One of the other things we were given last pickup is honey. Honey doesn’t go bad, but, in order to sell it in stores, it does get an expiry date, and stores can’t sell it past that date. I, however, can still use the amazing containers of raw unpasteurized manuka honey we were given for our Palomino Princess. Y’see, honey is what I use for any cuts, scrapes, and booboos on our mare. See the link below for why:
It’s perfect for healing those wounds without any scarring. Thank goodness, or our Girl would be one big walking scar! 😂😂😂
The other type of honey we were given is golden paste honey, with tumeric in it. Now this…this is valuable stuff for a horse with arthritis…especially that Girl who has an arthritic tmj which makes eating difficult in some weather conditions. Golden paste is touted as excellent for treating arthritis in horses, dogs and humans. Welp, we shall see how our Blonde Girl does on it. All this honey and it’s perfect for her! Plus, it’s not in the landfill. I call that a win-win situation.
In other news, we had found 2 abandoned, don’t know where they hatched, can’t find any sign of their hatching anywhere, ducklings in the duck yard one night this week. So we brought them inside. One has since succumbed to injuries (because hens are assholes, and will happily kill baby ducks) but the 2nd is strong and loud. And kinda dumb, because he/she keeps getting their head stuck in the sides of the cage they are in. So we’ve named him/her Homer. 😂😂😂
This weekend is also “clear out all the old eggs from all the nests we know of” weekend. It’s late in the season now, and I don’t want any more surprise hatchlings. Did I tell y’all about the hen who hatched out a clutch of ducklings?? Yeah so there’s 9 week old duckling in the brooder int he Little Red Shed. *sigh* So many birbs. So much potential tastiness. And 12 the Turkey is sitting on another nest. I’m taking those away from her too… No more turkeys this year! I’ve got a brooder full that hasn’t gotten outdoor time yet because of the damn smoke from the wildfires. No. More. Poults! (she said with a quiet longing to scoop up the eggs and put them in the incubator) 😂😂😂
So there we have it…busy af, as usual. And taking eggs away from birds who want to have babies. That’s my life right now.
How are the rest of y’all doing?
Oh, plus here’s a picture for Feline Friday:
Catch more Feline Friday posts over at Sandee’s place, Comedy Plus.
Once upon a time I saw a picture of a duck in a cupcake paper liner dress. Ever since then, I have had this urge to do a photoshoot with a chick or duck or turkey in a dress. Finally, we had a chance to make it happen with Oreo.
And then we tried the Yule cupcake paper on her…
And finally, Daisy Mae had to get into the shot…because cats are a bit jealous that The Kid has these 2 ducks she’s raising, and Daisy Mae feels like she’s being replaced. 😂😂😂 The joys of “first child” syndrome.
She’s quite the little ducky fashion model, that Oreo is! 😂😂😂
We’re back into a heat wave, with no rain in sight. I think this is the driest I’ve ever seen it. We need rain. Bad.
The heat makes getting things done a little more difficult. I feel like I’m melting. lol So the birds get let out at the hint of dawn, while it’s still (relatively) cool. I’ve been working on weeding the garden early too…which doesn’t happen some days because the sprinkler needs to run to keep the food plants alive and that has to happen early too. Truthfully, I’ve been feeling a bit defeated by our garden this year. At least…until this morning. When I saw that some tomato plants have rebounded from what I thought was certain death in our June 21st frost. The irony, right? First day of real summer and we get hit with a killing frost?
So I was excited to see a handful of tomatoes in the mulch, with several having blooms on them! *swoons* I might get a tomato sandwich yet this year! And this morning, while I was weeding the thistles, I discovered a fair bit of our corn was up…and quite tall already. Just hidden in the thistles. So there’s hope for that too. I planted mostly feed corn (for homemade libations, if y’know what I mean 😉 ) and for the silk. Corn silk is dried for tea for a handful of things, including inflammation and urinary health. I’m happy to find a few stalks coming up amidst my thistles…which I have also been harvesting and drying for teas. Thistle is excellent for your liver (I’m hard on mine 😂😂😂 I admit it). Plus the goose bebes love it! I had hoped to harvest flowers for a mead, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
Stinging nettles will be collected this weekend for stinging nettle beer. I was supposed to do it earlier in the week, but by the time I got the basic chores done, I just wanted to melt…so tomorrow morning I’ll don my gloves and pick a whole bunch of them.
Oh, and we have another house duck…temporarily, of course…
I hadn’t planned on this one coming in, but the hen was in a poor spot when she hatched them, and chickens killed the rest of the clutch off…so we snagged this little and brought her in. She’s been named Oreo. I am hoping this is a hen, because she’s just so darn pretty! And we don’t need anymore drakes…extra boys are Freezer Campers.
And, our final round of incubation is finishing up. Pipping and peeping started in the incubators yesterday. By the end of the weekend, everyone who was going to hatch, will have hatched. And we’ll be done ’til next February. All that’ll be left is the butchering. Which should start in a couple of weeks, as some of our first hatcher roosters are close to size now. Then my weeks will be filled with butcher, process, can, sleep, repeat. Until the end of November or so. 😂😂😂
This weekend will be a fiery hot one, but we still have the final wall of the greenhouse to build, then we put it up… And I have hay to cut. And more weeds in the garden. And a fence line to move. And boxes to flatten and lay out over the next garden area (to kill the grass). And somewhere in there, some sleep… 😂😂😂
We’ll get done what we can, and keep picking at the rest. That’s just how it is. 🙂
First thing, though not really big news, other than it’s slowing me down a bit… I’ve somehow managed to pull a muscle in my forearm. Hurts like fuck to lift a coffee cup. And of course it is the arm that swings the scythe… But as always, things must get done here, so I’m slathering it in Absorbine horse liniment and continuing on about my day. At night I put more liniment on, take a few tylenol and only cry when the cat lays on it. 🙄
Second thing… Hubby had a 4 day holiday and has worked his butt off. Not only did he help me get my first cut of hay baled, but, he also has 3 walls of the greenhouse built!! Um, yup. 3 of 4 walls done. Now we have to go buy more lumber. And then the 4th wall and roof will be done, and everything will be ready for assembly. Whew!! It’s not huge, only 8ft x 8 ft right now, but it’s going to make a huge difference next gardening season. And, it’s mostly the windows we collected going in it, with plastic covering where we have no windows, so, if I can get a few cattle panels, we can build a hoop house or two as well without putting a huge dent in the roll of greenhouse poly…while I continue to watch kijiji and the giveaway sights for a greenhouse frame for cheap (or free would be awesome too!)
Loop is a program that matches grocery stores with charities and farmers to reduce food waste. Charities get first pick of foods that the stores can no longer sell, but are still good for human consumption. Farmers sign up to get whatever can’t feed humans to use as animal feed. We cannot use the foods we pickup for human consumption at all. But, we *can* feed our food animals, who in turn feed us. So it’s a fabulous way to reduce food waste, and to feed ourselves and the people around us.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have ranted and raved about food waste. One of the biggest things driving climate change is food waste. From the initial growing, to processing, to packaging to being left rotting in the dump when thrown away…all huge contributors to climate change. This program takes the food that would be waste and lets us farmers feed our animals. It really is a win-win situation, and we’re excited to be a part of the program! Our first pick up is this week, while we get acquainted with the store we’ll be working with, and then the scheduler at Loop will assign us a day where every week we go for a pickup. One of the great things about the program is the data tracking. With each pick up, we report back to Loop what we’ve picked up from what section of the store. That helps them compile data for the store to look at and see where they might need to adjust ordering and sales. So really, it helps the stores be more efficient as well, which can also reduce food waste. Again, it’s a winning situation all the way around. So, like I said, we’re pretty excited to be a part of the program. 🙂
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… 🙂