The Fastest Update I Ever Had

You know those French Angora kits I posted about 30 minutes or so ago?

I just went out to check on them again, to find them all still and lifeless. One of two things happened:

  • They overheated
  • She accidentally stomped on them

I saw her going in and out of the nestbox before, so it’s possible. But with a high of 90, I think it’s more likely that they overheated.

One of the 8 kits is alive, and it’s currently rooming with the Americans.

No matter what did them in, I’ve learned an important lesson: Trust my gut. This could have been prevented had I brought the kits inside like I considered doing a few hours ago. Stomping or heat–that would have solved the problem.

Just an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. But there’s nothing I can do but learn.

Mike reminded me that had I gone to work this morning like I had originally intended, it would have been a problem either way.

So–learning is left.

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The Vegetable I Wish We Grew

What about this: a tribe of asparagus children, but they’re self- conscious about the way their pee smells.

Asparagus. With Easter around the corner and everyone posting pictures of their crop coming in, I get a little jealous. And a little mad at myself–if only I had started last year!

You see, I love asparagus so much that I will cook it in great big batches and eat half of it out of the pot. I will share with Mike, but begrudgingly. I can have five pounds of the stuff in the fridge and still buy more.

Just looking at pictures of it makes my
mouth water and makes me consider cooking some for a late night snack.

I usually eat it steamed with hollandaise (way too easy now we have homegrown eggs!), but sometimes I just eat it plain. Sometimes grilled. Sometimes roasted with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and lemon pepper. Sometimes freshly cut in a salad. Usually just hollandaise, though, unless I eat the potful before the hollandaise is done.

But anyway. So this delicious vegetable. I never get sick of it. Ever. I eat it like candy. I will eat it with every meal. Dare I say it? I love it more than pasta. More than cake.

Those are strong words.

People always say if you plant too much you will get sick of it. Impossible. Simply impossible. So then they, and you, tell me to go ahead and grow some.

You see, THAT is the problem. We have a plan; a five-year-plan, give or take. To save up as much as we can to buy a “real” farm, or at least more land. And I fear leaving behind too much.

You see, we already have 13 blueberry plants to leave behind, and that is one of my favorite fruits. And the four apple trees, another favorite. Not to mention the maple trees and the butternut trees and the peach trees and the raspberry canes. And the old magnolia tree I fall in love with every time it blooms.

Some of this has been here long before we got here. Some of it we put in. A lot of it is just going to stay behind. I understand that is how you grow and find new places but it still stings.

I’m not sure I can leave the asparagus behind as well! With our luck, it will start to produce as we’re moving.

Oh yeah, and the slight issue of where it will go.

In the meantime, I’ll be stalking all the local markets to see if anyone will have some for sale, and it’s time to sneak it in from the grocery store into the freezer before Mike catches me.

New Site!

So, what do you think? I’m still working on getting data into the pages, but would love to hear from you! Do they need more contact forms? Less? Allow for comments on all the pages? Sidebars? I’ve currently left all pages except the blog here very blank to allow for a “cleaner” look at our site.

The rabbitry and fowl pages will be updated in the coming days as I am able to get pictures of our animals and update it with some great info about the breeds we raise and the state of things here. It’s hard to do with a broken camera lens!

Well, if you haven’t seen yet, we’ve expanded a bit. In the last few months I have added American Blues and French Angoras to the herd. But the surprising move was the purchase of an entire rabbitry. We doubled the number of rabbits here in a matter of two days, from being told I was the “lucky buyer” to getting them delivered and setup on the property. The herd of 16 rabbits (American Chinchilla and Silver Fox) are settling in nicely, and we are deciding which stock we will be keeping and getting rid of, and which are past their prime breeding age. Many of the rabbits are also going through quarantine–keeping three herds of rabbits going and quarantined from each other is a challenge I’ve never considered before.

More details on the goings-on around here later, from goats to bees to chicks and poultry testing, and all the way to boxes full of kits and a late seed start. For now, I have work to do.

A Change is Brewing

So many things have happened in the last few days that I don’t know where to begin. I will be spending the next week and maybe a little longer finessing some of the pages at the top of this site, and then updating what has changed. It’s beautiful and intense.

We’re always up for it.

Eat My Eggs, I’ll Eat You

After dealing with work stress (ongoing!) and some health things that needed taken care of , I’ve been away for too long. Add nearly two feet of snow, constant cold and, well, me, the girl who gets cold at 70 degrees–

Let’s just say I’ve been hibernating.

A few things have been going on, as we plan for this next year and some improvements to our property and our gardens, but we are mostly in hiatus. I have some new arrivals to show you, and there is a list of more to come, but I’ll save that for later.

I’m not here to talk about just me. Or just you, and a problem you may have had or may start having or may have nightmares of having. It’s about the hens.

Those egg-eating hens.

I started suspecting it sometime in January, as we’d get a stray egg here or there and then nothing. The Delawares laid for a week solid, and the Welsummers were the only ones to give us a handful of eggs a week as winter dragged on. We ate all the eggs that were put up in the freezer, and I have been guarding our now half-dozen eggs carefully. They’re valuables. When, like us, you can easily go through 2-3 dozen eggs in a week (breakfast, baked goods, pasta)–eggs are key sustenance.

But the eggs would disappear here and there. Sometimes I’d see a piece of a shell, but I would also find an egg for me. It wasn’t so common I was worried. Just common enough to be a thought–maybe it wasn’t an accident, so to speak.

Then I would find shells on the ramp up to the coop. A stray shell in a corner, if I looked hard enough.

I think one of my chickens is eating my eggs. And I think it’s one of my hens.

And I think, if I find her, I’m going to eat her.

We have been thinking of how to get those pesky Welsummers to lay in the boxes, and not on the ground. And how to get the egg eating to stop, and to hope against all hope it’s just one hen and she hasn’t taught the others. So on Saturday we laid the pine shavings on real thick. We picked out the spots where it looked like some old egg damage had been done. We bought more packs of golf balls and laid them 2-3 in each nest box.

We cut up old jeans and stapled them to the nesting boxes, a long overdue move.

Don’t judge the poop. We keep a clean coop, but I can’t spend every cleaning day repainting the walls to keep up with these messy birds.

It felt right. And soon after we did this, we got an egg. Left the house, came home–one more egg. It didn’t seem right. An Ameraucana egg and an Ancona egg, but my Welsummers should be laying. My Delawares should be laying. My Marans are much slower.

Then I looked closely and in the fresh pine shavings, egg yolks. No shell, but surely some egg yolk from some nasty hen ruining my breakfast.

So, I’m sorry to say that, unless she stops herself, as soon as I figure out which hen (please say it’s just one!) is eating my eggs, she’s going to be dinner shortly thereafter.

How can I be expected to hatch chicks if I can’t even eat breakfast?

Note: If you, like me, weren’t proactive and haven’t covered your nesting boxes, I highly recommend it. We dragged our feet until we finally had a pile of jeans. Even aside from the egg eating, it was a smart move that we should have done a long time ago. Jeans are sturdy enough that they should hold up to the environment, and this way we are reusing something that would otherwise go to trash (too many holes to be worth donating or saving).

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

With the few minutes left on this day, I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas. I hope it was beautiful and filled with love, regardless of if you celebrated.

A Quick Catch-Up

I finally understand when people say they are overrun with eggs. The difference? I don’t feel too bad about it. I’ve given away at least 7 dozen by now, and have another few dozen to finish giving out to the neighbors. Eventually, we will sell the eggs (and hatching eggs, and chicks) to offset the cost, but so far?

I love it.

It’s like a game, every day. How many eggs?

Lately, that’s been almost 10 eggs a day. Granted, Mike and I can put away a lot of eggs in a week, especially when I make our breakfasts and lunches like I’m supposed to. Easily 20 eggs in a week, more if I bake. Still, 2 dozen eggs falls severely short of the 5-6 dozen we are getting every week.

So, on Saturday night, while trying to clean up the kitchen and at a loss of what to do with the eggs we had overrunning the place, I made a quick decision.

Deviled eggs.

Now, I don’t know how you feel. But I feel like deviled eggs are one of the tastiest things on the planet. When I see them at parties, or Christmas dinner, or hell–a funeral–I make a beeline for them. I always get at least two, but I could easily take the whole plate with me.

Mike’s the same.

Usually, though, I give up halfway through. I get tired of peeling them perfectly, and they never come peeled perfectly. The eggs I was using on Saturday were old enough that they were cooperating, but still young enough that they had chunks missing on some of them. Usually–usually I just make egg salad.

Well, I powered through. I turned roughly 19 eggs into deviled eggs.

Then Mike and I proceeded to eat every last one for Saturday “dinner” and Sunday breakfast.

Maybe I should have made the egg salad instead.

Time for a Shock

I have all sorts of pictures of the dying garden (oh, how I miss my squash plants, and the handful of cucumbers I got!), and of my 9 remaining quail. I wanted to tell you about the bushel of apples we picked from our inherited tree (here when we bought the house), or the bushel and a half of tomatoes we picked (I really need to make some sauce in the next few days!).

Instead, I’ve been working 60-hour weeks and just spending the weekend trying to keep up. So I’ll apologize in ahead, but I’m going to complain. I’m going to complain, and whine, not too far off of what I did ten years ago when writing “journal” entries.

We’re planning for a wedding at the end of September. My plan had been to finally lose the weight. Instead, my dog bit me in the face and I’ve not done so well. But did you know, weddings cost a lot of money? Even when you’re aiming for simple, the money disappears quickly.

So that has been draining our resources, and limiting the money we can put towards the “future farm fund.” But then we decided to replace the siding on our house before the wood underneath rots worse. That’s not a pretty penny, and we did not go with a cheap company.

Then–then. Then my car started having problems shifting again. My car is an automatic. They had to replace some transmission parts a little over a year and a half or 70,000 miles ago. It took over a month for them to believe that my car couldn’t go above 30 miles per hour (it wasn’t shifting) and God knows how much money, because luckily it was still covered under insurance.

Now?

Not so much.

No insurance, not even a warranty on the parts that were replaced last time. So we’re going to push it as far and as long as we can. We considered a new (used) car, but with the wedding and the siding…. We don’t have the cash for that. We don’t need that. We barely have the cash for the $2500+ it may cost to replace the transmission, either, but it’s the only fuel efficient car we have.

So you move on and you grow and you be an adult.

And then you get your water tested, find out it’s high in e. coli and other bacteria, and then you replace the UV filter, run bleach through the pipes, and make a plan to re-wash all your dishes before you can even attack the mound of tomatoes you had been waiting for all summer.

When it rains, it pours–good and bad.

I’m just waiting patiently for the upswing.

Luckily, I still find joy in little things. I hate that we have loans–a loan on the jeep, a loan on the siding, a loan on the house. We have credit cards. We try to keep debt down but never get rid of the things that ultimately remove debt. But, still–money isn’t everything.

As Mike said the other day, What does it matter if you can’t enjoy it [life]?

We don’t overspend, or we try not to. We try to buy local and support things we believe in (though sometimes we believe in different things). We try to spend time together and eat well enough and I try to fit in a life with an aggressive work schedule.

We try to get joy in the little things, like the collection of eggs from the chickens, and watching them peck across the yard. Loving when they follow. Taking pictures of our dogs lounging on the couch or in the bed (“No, don’t go, I’ll sleep here all day,” Huck says).

Driving in the Jeep with the top down. No elaborate proposal, but something simple and back to the roots of him and me on a riverbank, promising another 5 years times infinity.