A New Experience (AKA: Wow, I Never Really Imagined I Would be Doing This)

Let’s just back up a bit. I feel I need to remind all of you that we have DAIRY goats. Meaning we want them to produce milk. Well, in order to make milk they need to have at least one baby. With goats (maybe other animals too) we call it “freshening”.

In order to have babies they need to have……hmmm……how do I put this? Ok, how about this: They need to have a rendezvous of a very close kind with a young buck.

Nigerian goats come into heat every 21 days. All year long. However only a few months out of the year they come into what is called a “standing heat”. What that means is they won’t run from the buck. This typically coincides with rut season for bucks. Convenient that way. Some does are quite obnoxious about it. Very loud, trying to get the bucks attention. Typically these are the younger does. Subtlety is unknown to them.

With an older doe they tend to be more coy. That would be Halle Berry our four year old doe. On Sunday we noticed an interest in the bucks that hadn’t been there the month before. Batting of the eyelashes, showing off of her figure, trying to let them know she is interested without acting like a tramp, laughing at their jokes. Ok, maybe I am applying a little too much personification to Halle. Anyway, she appeared to be in heat. Since it only lasts two maybe three days we thought we should arrange a date.

Enter Jasper.

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Our friends at MisFit Farms have a gorgeous two year old Nigerian buck named Jasper. Since our plan for our goats is to milk them, our goal is to breed strong milking lines. Well, Jasper’s Grand Dam is still the record milker for Nigerian goats. We decided that we wanted Jasper to the the baby daddy for Halle’s babies.

Isn’t he handsome!

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On Tuesday I took Halle over the “spend some time” with Jasper. I’m really not sure what to say, other than I’m glad I’m not a female goat. You see, with goats you want to make sure “it takes”. So you leave them together and the buck shows his love multiple times. Multiple. Times.

The doe is ready for this. I was not. The words “Goodness, leave her alone” might have escaped my lips a few times. It’s confusing. I brought her there for this “date” and yet  “Goodness. Leave. Her. Alone”!

I don’t think she minded.

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I felt like I should be offering them a glass of wine. Maybe a cigarette.

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So, this is my life.

At 47 years old I never imagined I would be a chaperon at such a “date”.

Still in shock,

Karen

PS: In case you are wondering about the piece of wood hanging from Jasper’s neck, it is to keep him from jumping the fence. Apparently that is how he impregnated all MisFit’s girls last year.

 

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The Boys Attend an IEW Class

Friday morning the boys and I were out the door by 7:15. Eating our breakfast in the car,we drove an hour south to Albany where the boys would attend an Institute of Excellence in Writing class. The topic was Story Writing.

We are at the beginning of our third year using the IEW curriculum. It is an excellent program and the boys have learned a lot. Their approach to writing is to teach techniques that make something interesting to read. Then, instead of asking the students to “think up a story and use what you have learned”, they use existing good writing and have them rewrite it in their own words. It is much less scary.

Mr. Pudewa taught on the story sequence and reviewed the multiple ways to make a story more interesting all of which were familiar to the boys. They were then given the task of writing their own story on a topic of their choice. This is what they wrote in just about thirty minutes:

Joshua:

The Amazon Adventure

Once upon a time there was a boy who was writing an essay in an IEW class. He was ten years old. Sadly he was not doing very well. He desperately decided to streak away to the Amazon Rain Forest. When he got there he met a group of Indians they were hunting huge panthers. They captured him and tossed him in a dark, smelly cave. At that time the sky became dark and rain poured down in sheets.

As he sat on a crude stool in a corner he contemplated his chances of survival. All at once he saw a badger which had crawled through a tunnel in the wall. The boy immediately exclaimed, “If I can enlarge that tunnel a little then I could crawl through.” He was very happy. Suddenly he heard the door rattling. The natives had come to take him to a huge campfire where they would roast him and eat him. When the native came in he bashed him over the head. He quickly crawled through the tunnel and came out in the forest.

Suddenly he heard a deafening yell. The natives had spotted him. He rushed toward the ocean where a tiny canoe was beached. When he reached the boat he found it was well equipped for travel, and had food and weapons inside. He leaped into the little boat which rocked terrifyingly from his weight. He escaped! When he came home his parents scolded him but they were happy he came home alive from his adventure in the Amazon Rain Forest.

 

Nicholas:

The Battle for Scotland

Once upon a time there was a king of Scotland called Robert the Bruce. Robert, who was a brave and wise king, was at war with England. The king had fought six battles and sadly he lost them all, no matter how hard and swiftly he charged. Now his strong army was scattered. The king was hiding in a cave.

Feeling hopeless, Robert started to watch a spider as it spun its web. Now this spider, who was spinning its web, was no ordinary spider but a jumping spider. This spider tried six times to quickly leap its web to another wide ledge but six times it failed. On the seventh time it fantastically made it to the other side.

Robert shouted, “Yes! That spider has done it on the seventh time and so will I.” Robert quickly went to gather and inspire his troops who where also scattered. Then he found where the English were camping and prepared his troops for the battle. Robert, who was leading his armed troops, won the battle. Robert, the King of Scotland, won the battle.

 

It was such a great opportunity to be taught by Mr. Pudewa. He doesn’t come to the PNW very often so I am glad I decided to sign them up. They both really enjoyed it and think that Mr. Pudewa is hilarious. I completely agree with them.

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the class. I’m still not in that “take a picture of everything mode”.

Enjoy,

Karen

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New Culinary Successes

This summer has brought a few new tricks to my culinary tool belt.

I thought I would share them with you in case you might benefit from them.

The first time I met my neighbor Jen she was cutting up watermelon. I was so intrigued by the technique that I immediately started doing it. She got the idea from Pinterest  so I’ll share the photos from that site.

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We ate so much watermelon this year because of this way of cutting it up. It just makes it so easy to prepare and to eat.

I have had tomatoes coming out of my ears this summer. There are still red ones out there as well as green. Looking for different ways to preserve them I came across “tomato powder”. I really like it. You dry tomatoes and then grind them up in a blender or food processor.

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It is very handy. You can add it to anything your little heart desires. Another nifty use is take two tablespoons mixed with two teaspoons of water and you have tomato paste. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of recipes that call for two tablespoons of tomato paste.

I have a cayenne pepper plant that is still going gang busters. I removed all the red peppers, cut them into about one centimeter pieces and then dried them. Once they were dried (actually it was a few days later because I kept forgetting about them…one of the few down sides to having a canning kitchen …..in the garage) I gave them a whirl in my trusty Vita Mix and now I have home made cayenne pepper.

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Isn’t it purty?

Pickles. They were new to me last year and our whole family immediately demanded politely requested that I add them to the summer canning list.

This year we planted and grew our own pickling cucumbers. I’ll tell you, they were slow to start. A cucumber here. A cucumber there. Certainly not enough to make anywhere near a full canner load. Then my dear friend Kirsten introduced me to “Jan’s Damn Good Garlic Dills”. Not only are these pickles to die for but equally important they are refrigerator pickles that can be added to as long as you have the space in the jar. To make sure of that I used half gallon jars….six half gallon jars so far.

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Another new favorite is that cucumber lemonade I’ve told you about. We LOVE it. I am however taking a short cut by using frozen lemonade concentrate instead of the lemon juice and simple syrup. Here is the original post (it is at the bottom of the post). Don’t be afraid to give it a try.

I can’t believe I haven’t told you guys about this one yet. A better, faster, easier way to process tomatoes. When you are going to use tomatoes to make tomato sauce or ketchup it takes a lot of work. The first part is easy. Just wash them, quarter them and heat them in a large pot. It is the next part that is tedious. Putting them through a food mill. It takes a long time and makes my shoulder tired. Since I have a Vita Mix blender I decided to try using it on a batch of ketchup. The Vita Mix will liquefy anything so I thought I would test it on tomato skin and seeds  (usually removed with a food mill). Hallelujah! It worked. Not only did it make a smooth puree but you get more volume because you are using the whole tomato! I ended up with 18 half pints. This is a definite trick for my canning that I will keep.

Next summer I will be more adventurous with my garden. This year, life on a farm was about as much adventure as I can handle.

Ta Ta for now.

Karen

 

 

 

Posted in Canning, Chores, Preserving, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Animals, Shop, Garden and a Little Fun

I thought you might enjoy some pictures of the animals.

The chicks sure have grown a lot.

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The Barred Rock chickens are very sociable. Our chicken coop has a door that leads out to an enclosed pen. I think that the Ameraucana chicken’s head looks like an eagle. The Australorp are the all black ones. I like the shape of their bodies. They liked my ring and kept pecking at it.

Here are our geese.

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They had been getting out by squeezing through our fence by the orchard. They would end up at various neighbors houses as well as the orchard. They love the fallen apples. Michael and the boys fixed the fence so now they stick within our boundaries.

The goats have been inside more since the rain began. Nigerian Dwarf Goats originally came from the area near the equator. They like warm, dry climates. They don’t like rain. I am in complete agreement with them. I should have been born in an equatorial country that has siestas.

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Michael has done a lot to the inside of his shop.

Added shelves.

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Added peg board for his tools.

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He gave some space to the boys as well.

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One of the biggest reason for a shop was to have more space to work on our vehicles. Here is my car getting some work done. Look at all that space around the car.

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Our garden is starting to dwindle. We are still picking ripe tomatoes. With the rain we are finding a lot of split ones to give to the chickens. Amazingly, the zucchini is also still producing. Finally the winter squash plants are beginning to die back. Once it has died back completely we will harvest all of it.

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Last but not least here is how my guys have fun when the chores are done.

Airsoft wars. They really get into their play time.

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I hope you all had a great weekend.

Love,

Karen

Posted in Animals, Boys, Garden | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum

On Sunday we bought a family membership at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville.

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The site houses four buildings. Aviation, Space, IMAX theater and an indoor water park.

We went to the IMAX 3-D showing of D-Day: Normandy 1944. Excellent. Not only informative but very emotional. It looks like they show about five different movies a day. I want to see Jerusalem 3-D next time we go.

When you approach the aviation building there is this huge statue of Capt. Michael King Smith. He and his father were the visionaries of the museum. Here is a link about him.

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The main attraction to the museum is the Spruce Goose.

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I wasn’t able to get a picture of the whole plane. It is just too big. The plane was commissioned as a way to get troops and supplies across the Atlantic Ocean. The German submarines were blowing up so many Allied ships that the idea of a large cargo plane made sense. The idea was given to Howard Hughes but unfortunately the plane wasn’t finished until the war was over. You can read more here.

The museum has a lot of really neat planes. So much history is visible here. They have a replica of the Wright brothers plane.

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As well as many others. Here are just a few pictures.

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We spent all of our time after the movie in the aviation building. With the membership we can take our time and really enjoy the exhibits.

They also have homeschooling classes once a month.

Oh, and then there is the room that has some scientific activities such as: trying to land an airplane on a carrier, “flying” a simulated hover craft, and many more things.

The WWII dog fight video game “Blazing Angels” was a big hit.

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So, not only is it great to have such an educational and fun place to go, but we spent the entire afternoon there. We did a little bit of chores in the morning and then went and had fun together as a family. No wonder the end of harvest was celebrated every year.

Enjoy your week,

Karen

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It’s Apple Harvest Time

Woohoo? When you have sixteen apple trees you really do question whether it is a good thing.

The first thing I did was take one of each type of apple that we have and cut it up to sample.

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We don’t know the name for each type of apple. I know that we have Granny Smith (3 trees), Red Delicious (3+ trees), Yellow Delicious (2 trees), Gravenstein (1 tree), Early Transparent (1 tree), and Johnathan (2 trees). Some trees didn’t produce any fruit this year. All of the trees need serious care. Pruning and pest control. It will take years to get this orchard producing at maximum capacity. Hmmm. Do I even want it to produce at maximum capacity? I’ll have to ponder that question in my free time. Oh yeah, I don’t really have free time!

Michael and the boys left for errands on Friday and I picked almost all of the apples. Some junky ones I gave to the geese. Some I couldn’t reach (and I had strict orders not to be climbing on ladders…..one tree I was able to climb without a ladder!). Here is what I was able to collect.

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I actually forgot about the two trees in the front of our house so Joshua picked those and added a sixth basket to the haul.

What to do with so many apples? Personally, I’m not a fan of apple pie. Don’t get me wrong. If I have a sweet tooth and apple pie is the only sweet thing available I’ll eat it. But as the chief cook and food preserver for the family I’m not going to go to the effort of canning apple pie filling when I don’t like it. Let’s just call it the one and only perk of being chief cook and food preserver for the family.

My mind has been pondering what to do with all these apples long before I picked them. My dear, talented husband planned on building us an apple cider press. I, knowing how busy he is right now, called some rental companies and finally found Reid Rentals in Newberg. For $40/day we could be done with all the apples. We both agreed it was a reasonable price and so we rented it. Michael will make us a cider press this winter, when there is less stuff to do outside.

Here it is.

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It has a motor for the chopper which kept the mess outside of my already dirty kitchen. You just turn it on and drop the whole apples in.

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It has two of the containers so that once you get one full of chopped apples

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you can slide it forward to under the pressing mechanism and still be chopping apples. It makes things go much faster.

You put the wooden lid on top of the chopped apples

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and then twist until you can’t twist anymore,

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and then you bring in the muscle.

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The juice just drains out the end.

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Here is about half way through the process.

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Those are half gallon jars. We ended up with 7 gallons of cider. In about two hours.

I was not helping with the making of the cider. I had another test project that I was working on.

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I picked the nicest Johnathan and Granny Smith apples and cut them up for apple crisp. Now that I LOVE. I could eat any fruit crisp EVERY day. The test project came into play in that I froze the apples. I have been told that you can freeze uncooked apple crisp and then bake it whenever the need arises (that would be every day in my book). I don’t have enough baking dishes that I can put an actual apple crisp in the freezer so I decided to just freeze bags of sliced apples. I ended up with three gallon size bags.

When the cider making was finished I began the process of canning it. I put some fresh in the refrigerator and canned the rest. Have you every heard the saying “A watched pot never boils”? Well, let me tell you. A not watched pot boils VERY QUICKLY! The instructions on canning the apple cider was to bring the cider up to 190 degrees and hold there for five minutes. Nope, never happened. I would check the temperature and think “Oh, it has a ways to go” and then go do something else (remember, my canning kitchen is in the garage) and I would come back and the thing is boiling away. And apparently on the temperature scale 190 degrees is just a quick jaunt to the next room away from 212 degrees.

So, if you want to know the taste difference between “properly canned” apple cider and fresh apple cider I’m afraid we won’t be able to tell you. I will, however, be able to tell you that the difference between fresh apple cider and boiled apple cider is minimal.

Enjoy your day,

Karen

 

 

Posted in Canning, Garden, Preserving | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Stuffed Peppers

My dear friend Kirsten gave us pepper plants when we moved to the farm. One of the plants is called Marconi Peppers.

Last week I decided to stuff them. I Googled and found a recipe on The Food Network that I made some changes to. Everyone loved them. So much so that I made a second batch a week later. Since they were so popular I decided to share my version of the recipe.

First you finely chop celery, onion and bell pepper.

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Then you saute the mixture in oil until soft. Add to it some garlic and  Italian Sausage. Once that is cooked add a half of a brick of cream cheese. Stir until thoroughly mixed and take off of the heat. Add a few shakes of Tabasco Sauce.

Marconi Peppers are long , thin and mild in taste. I cut them in half and took out the seeds.

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I enjoy these peppers so much that they are going on the plan for next year’s garden. Once they are prepped you just stuff them.

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They bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. I made two trays to use up all of my peppers and to ensure that we will have leftovers for lunch. I am sure any pepper would work. Bell Peppers would be mild or you could go the route of spicy with an Anaheim or Poblano pepper.

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Here is the recipe:

Stuffed Peppers

Makes : 8 thin peppers or 4 Bell Peppers

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 cup chopped celery

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1.25 lbs Italian Sausage

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces cream cheese

Tabasco to taste

Peppers, cut in half

Directions:

Add oil to a fry pan over medium heat. Saute celery, bell pepper and onion until soft. Add the sausage and the garlic. Cook, breaking up, until done. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese. Once thoroughly incorporated add tabasco.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stuff peppers with meat and cheese mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until peppers have softened.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

 

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Water Logging

One of the projects Michael wanted to get done this weekend was pulling old logs out of the creek. The water is really low and it seemed a good time to do it. We will leave some logs for the fish but it has too many in it and they must be pulled out.

Here is what this bend in the creek looks like prior to the water logging.

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Michael had to cut some of the logs to make them more manageable.

He hooked up a chain to the log and used the tractor to pull it out.

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There was one stubborn log. It was quite large. Michael had already cut a lot off but it was still very heavy. It is the one that shows a sawed off section in the front.

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It was so heavy that it “broke” the tractor.

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God is good. I prayed that Michael would be able to fix it and it wouldn’t cost us much money. Michael fixed it without having to buy anything.

So they were able to continue. Here is the pile of logs by the time they called this project “done for now”.

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And here is that bend in the creek with some of the logs removed.

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Water logging is done for today.

Posted in Boys, Chores | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

My Mornings

Well, it is no longer light at 5:00 am and it certainly isn’t as warm/dry. But other than that my mornings are just about the same. Seven.days.a.week.

I wake up somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30. After the usual shower and getting dressed I sit down in the “sun room” (can it really be called a sun room when it is still O’dark thirty?) and do my Bible study. If I am really on top of things I’ll get a head start on my Latin homework. It is really annoying but my boys can do it so much faster than I can so I try to get a head start so I’m not left in the dust.

Once the sun has risen enough to head to the barn without a flashlight I go outside. I am immediately greeted by Luke.

He whines and paws me for attention.

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He wants to be petted in a bad way. It is as if he is saying “All night long I have been without petting. I need a bunch and I need it NOW.”

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This takes a few minutes and in the mean time kitty sneaks into the house.

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Once Luke allows me to divert my attention for a few seconds I get kitty outside and feed him.

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Then I attempt to put on my boots. Luke of course does all he can to stop me because he still needs a lot more petting. He will get between me and my boots, knock my boots over, sit on my boots. As a last resort he will go over to the cat food and start to eat it. I tell him to stop at which point he runs back over to me wanting more petting. If he doesn’t get it he goes back to the cat food (all the while glancing back to see if I notice) and then I tell him to stop which he takes as an invitation to more petting.

Finally. I can head out to the barn. Mornings lately have been foggy and damp.

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I don’t mind the fog. I think it looks pretty cool.

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Now when the constant rain comes that will be a very different story.

My morning barn duties include opening up the barn doors so they get some fresh nice smelling air. I top off all the water buckets and hay feeders. I sweep off the poop that they leave on their benches. Twice a week both boys and girls get a little bit of grain with an herbal worm formula in it.

Aren’t they cute?

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Then it is off to the chickens. I feed them a fermented chicken feed. Basically it is just chicken feed soaked in water. We call it “gruel”. It makes the feed more digestible and brings out a lot more of the vitamins and minerals. I do this because it is better for them. Then I open the door to their enclosed outside area. Put more dry feed in the water and clean up a bit.

All of this takes about a half hour. Since it isn’t light until almost 7:00 I usually have to rush back to the house to wake the boys up at 7:30.

By then the fog has lifted.

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So, it isn’t as easy as life was in the city. And it is an every day thing, but the animals are so cute and so loving that it makes it enjoyable.

Just a little peak into life on our farm.

Enjoy the day,

Karen

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New Happenings Over the Weekend

Hi there,

We had some fun stuff going on over the weekend.

We decided that the chicks were big enough to roam the coop. We put them in the wire enclosed outside portion of their chicken coop while Joshua and Nicholas spread the pine shavings on the floor inside the coop and set up the water and feeder.

They hang out pretty close to the wall of the coop when outside. Each day now they venture just a little bit farther away from the wall.

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Here they are with all their new space. Now they can spread out a little.

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This amount of space requires A LOT of shavings so we had to go to town and buy some more.

Joshua and I took Halle Berry and Brown Sugar for a pasture walk. We like them to eat the blackberry starts. They love to eat them and we don’t have blackberries growing everywhere so it is a win win.

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Another reason we took them for a little walk was to give ourselves something to do while we waited. Waited for what you ask? For the BOYS to arrive.

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Our dear friend Bryn is boarding her Nigerian bucks with us. She brought them down in the back of her truck and we unloaded them into their stall.

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The boys stall is directly across from the girls stall. The girls were just looking at them. Halle with more of a “Great, boys.” While Brown Sugar showed much more curiosity.

Like the girls, they too have an outside area they can freely access during the day. It is much smaller than the outside area the girls have but boys need much less space.

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Meet Surfer Joe

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And this is Woody

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Last, but not least is Calvin

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They are quite different from our ladies. They are in rut now so they have a foul  unsavory interesting stench smell that lingers about them. It isn’t really that bad of a smell. And to a female goat it can be quite alluring. They also like to push each other around. They will rear up and head butt each other. It’s a dominance thing. Just between you and me…..they have a lot in common with pre-teen male behavior at times. Just saying.

They also will make funny faces.

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Oh, and they will pee on their own face. Go ahead and thank me in the comments for not including a picture of that one.

We are thrilled to have them join our family. We will take great care of them Bryn.

Such a face.

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Hugs from our family farm.

 

PS: I made more cucumber lemonade and this time I just used a can of frozen lemonade concentrate. Only added three cans of water. Awesome and even easier.

Posted in Animals | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments