Mom, it’s like a zoo around here! St. Francis of Assisi at work?

After quite a stint of pet woes it seems we are getting a dose of some animal cuteness. A chick hatched out last week that we have in a brooder inside the house right now. Super cute!

The husky dog returned to have some fun. She’s cute and sweet as long as there aren’t any poultry that could become her playthings. Munched poultry is NOT cute and I just had to process a prized hen last week because husky “played” with her.

 
Nathan jumped in the farm’s work truck to drive the husky back to her home- three miles away when a kitten jumps from the truck, in to his arms… and pees on him.

He brings the kitten inside to me since the husky in the truck literally scares the pee water out of it. We exchange a long WTF look of disbelief while Nathan stands there, kitten in arms- covered in stinky cat pee. I take kitty and check it out. No collar, its male- intact it seems, it’s got an old tail injury but is very social and loves people.

I rig up an indoor cage for it to spend the night in. It’s clearly someones pet and if turned loose into the cold night it’s likely to become a coyote dinner…

Once Nathan returns from dropping the husky dog off we ponder the mystery of the kitten in the truck.

The truck had its windows up so we are uncertain how the kitten even managed to get in there. A farm coworker used the truck today for hauling so it’s possible he’s playing a joke on us… or that his kitten snuck in the truck without him knowing… or something else completely.

Nonetheless, we are enjoying a dose of cute kitten while we figure out where he belongs. The girls are smitten with the kitten for sure and I’m always a sucker for cute animals so unless we find this guy’s family, he’ll likely stay with us.

When Everly came wandering up the stairs- when she should have been sleeping she exclaimed “oh, a kitten! Just what I’ve always wanted.” Of course we explained the kitten isn’t ours. This morning she told me “Our house is like a zoo. So many animals to visit with!”. Adalyn drew the kitten a picture and sang it a song… “I like you, you are cute…”.

Every year we find ourselves the magnet for animals needing help. Nathan says it’s like we’ve got St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology channeled or something. I say they just sense that we are suckers and that they’ll be safe.

Do you find yourself a magnet for animals or is it just us?

Favorite Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everly’s kindergarten snack day was this week at school. We are gluten free so snacks always take some advance planning. Her class knows she is gluten free but we understand that not everyone will remember or care about her not being able to eat glutenous snacks… so I do my best to find her delicious gluten free alternatives that don’t seem like anything less than what other kids are enjoying. You know, so that she’s not feeling left our like she’s getting the short end of the deal.

This recipe is a wonderful example of how gluten free doesn’t always mean going without. It’s so good and it’s flourless so no gluten worries.

I even use this recipe as a base for my lactation cookie enjoyment (cookies to support and enhance lactation for breastfeeding moms) Do take care to buy gluten free oats if your goal is to make these gluten free. And seriously, double or triple this recipe so you’ll have cookies for a few days these go fast.

Favorite Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 20
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2/3 cup of rolled oats (gluten free oats for this family)
  2. 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1 cup creamy peanut butter (one that is HFCS free for us)
  5. 2 large eggs (from our hens of course)
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 2/3 cup chocolate chips OR m&m type candies OR raisins OR any add-in you like
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine dry ingredients (omit add-ins for right now)
  3. In your stand mixer beat wet ingredients until smooth.
  4. Slowly add in scoops of dry ingredients with the mixer running.
  5. Gently fold in your chocolate chips or other add-ins.
  6. Next you need to make little cookie balls that are about 2 inches. I like to use my ice cream scooper to do this. Place 2 inch balls about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 9-11 minutes, remove when the edges just begin to brown. They will look somewhat underdone in the middle, it's okay because they will continue cooking once removed from the oven... and a good chewy cookie is the goal here ;P
  8. Cook for 2 minutes or so then you can transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
Notes
  1. Try this recipe with nut butter of any kind, it's still great!
  2. Also, you can cut the sugar and add-ins in half with successful results if you want.
  3. Trust me you'll want to double or triple this recipe!
Harvest of Daily Life http://www.harvestofdailylife.com/

Mercury in retrograde is effing with us- big time.

It’s been ages since I’ve last posted, we’ve been knee deep in sickness and live upheaval. October has sure kept us scrambling but we’ve come through it. Here is what we’ve been taking on, one step at a time:

In mid October madness began… there was a steady rain that wouldn’t quit.
Then a chick went missing, with feathers left as evidence of misfortune. First we thought our dog, snowball, was to blame.
Next we heard the hawks… A few days later Everly witnessed the hawk swooping down and a dead chick was Sprawled on the lawn. 

Days later our prized rooster went missing and our favorite hen was under attack. We rushed out to save her and discovered an injured chick… our hen remained missing for a few hours then returned unscathed. We were able to save the injured chick… Also, this unfamiliar husky dog showed up. Here is Adalyn with our favorite hen:

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Border Collie- SnowballDid Snowball (Everly’s Puppy) kill birds, did the husky kill birds or was it just the hawks? We had no idea. Snowball’s herding instincts drove her to chase and kill birds before.

Days later we processed a few of our turkeys that were well overdue and had the opportunity to shuffle poultry pens. I moved our remaining two turkeys to a goat pen, put our remaining chicks in the poultry tractor (where the turkeys were), then I undertook constructing a net covered run for our remaining 11 adult chickens.

The husky dog returned again and I found Dixie and the husky with two escaped adult chickens cornered in the bushes. After restraining the husky, me and Dixie rounded up the escaped chickens, secured the pen a bit more and took a rest. Dixie did so well following my commands and helping me get the chickens rounded up!

School bus time had come. Me and Addie went out to wait & swing for a bit – then a hay truck went speeding by the house, Dixie went off after it and ran right under the trailer it was towing. She died just as the school bus was pulling up. Both girls had to see her laying in the road but they took it amazingly well. Death is no surprise or shock on a homestead. 

A single day went by incident free- we hibernated on the couch and grieved for Dixie. We were all VERY sad and feeling lost without our homestead guardian and watch dog. Then Everly was scheduled to have her first field trip ever. Their school bus was in a crash (no kids on the bus at the time- thankfully) but we had to make alternate pickup arrangements since they were down a bus. Holy retrograde madness.

“When we say “Mercury is in retrograde,” what we mean is that the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards in the sky. Of course, it’s not — that’s just an optical illusion. But to astrologers, this illusion works some perplexing magic in our lives.”

For the next week remaining in the retrograde we stayed home and didn’t deviate from routine if we could help it.

Things have been smooth sailing since, until today when the husky showed up again and played a chicken to death. I actually saw it with my eyes this time and went out to intervene. The chicken was dead (she was the mating partner to our prized rooster that also didn’t make it), broken neck it seems. I left the kids inside and managed to take the dead chicken away, tie the husky up, reach it’s owner and explain what happened. The husky’s owner paid us for the dead chicken and felt super bad, now I’m fixing to process this hen so we can eat her this winter.

The retrograde seriously brought lots of death to this homestead! But then we also have lots of life beginning too…

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Oh and we still have two more massive turkeys that need this done: (aren’t those faces priceless?!)

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All before 8am on a farm…

Most mornings I’ve got Nathan to help me with a portion of the homestead chores but harvest season is upon us so he’s been off working occasional early mornings and even right through the weekends around Tanglefoot Ranch. This means I’ll fly solo for the chores here on the homestead.

Here is a glimpse of what flying solo for our early morning chores looks like:

The alarm sounds for me at 6am. I’ve got to feed Miss Everly and oversee her dressing and getting off to school. Grayson wakes shortly after I rouse Everly at 6:20am.

Everly had a rough day at school with a friend the day before so we special have plans for Everly to write the friend a feelings note this morning. Everly eats, dresses, works on her note and we head out the door by 7:15am to wait for the school bus.

While we wait, we release the chickens from their locked up chicken coop, visit with the chicks a bit, swing on the tree swing and then the bus rolls up and she climbs aboard.

Once Everly is on the bus, Grayson helps me to feed the adult chickens, 15 of them. Then I set him of the deck to watch the chickens eat while I head over to the turkey tractor to feed them. This job requires two hands and lot of bending over.

I also have to release Snowball, Everly’s cattle dog puppy, from her kennel and put her on her tether, also not a good job with a baby in your arms. Snowball likes to try to eat the poultry or chase & jump on the kids and we don’t even know what she’d try doing to the goats… She’s still got lots of obedience training to master and she’s still very young, so she’s not free to roam the homestead just yet-Her drama is a post for another day ;P

Once I get snowball on her tether and manage to get out of her “tether tangling range”-(cause she will wrap your legs in the tether and hurt you very badly), then I can move on to my next task.

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Next I take chick feed out to the baby chicks in their enclosure. They are eager to eat, super cute little fluff balls, 19 of them, that currently swarm my feet when I climb in their enclosure with food, see how they swarm Grayson? While I’m looking down at them and taking care to NOT step on one I ram my eyebrow on a pointy tree branch. It drew blood and bruised. Perfect.

The goat enclosure is near the baby chicks so I head on down to say good morning to them and bring Poptart up to the garage for her morning milking. Poptart always tries to eat the chicken food so I’ve got to lead her directly to the milking stand without becoming distracted along the way.

It’s close to 7:35 am now, Grayson is still sitting, watching chickens eat. After the chickens eat they take turns queuing up to lay eggs in the garage. You see they made this little nest underneath a chair with some lose/ discarded hay near the goat’s hay stacks. They refuse every nesting box we make for them. We just let them continue using their makeshift nest because their permanent coop/ nesting boxes aren’t finished yet. Plus it is sure convenient to collect eggs without having to go beyond the garage.

I begin milking Poptart while the egg laying procession continues. Once milking is complete and I’ve ushered Poptart out of the garage and off the deck it’s close to 8 am. Grayson is now leaking through his cloth diaper and wants to nurse and go back to bed. Adalyn is still asleep. Once I get Grayson dry, fed and sleeping I might have some quiet time with my coffee before Adalyn wakes and I’ve got to feed and occupy her.

All I’ve got left to do morning chore wise is to water and move the turkeys, clean and refill goat waterers, fill hay feeders and release Clay, our goat buck, from his pen so he can free range for the day. Oh and I better collect all the laid eggs so our other dog, Dixie doesn’t come in and eat them.


What does your morning routine look like?    

It came back positive… We’re pregnant!

We got the blood test results back, we are seriously expecting babies this fall…
goat kids- you thought I was pregnant again didn’t you? Sheesh!

Anyway, On labor day a vet friend came out to draw some of our doe, Poptart’s blood for us. We wanted a pregnancy test for her because lots of things depend on a pregnancy… and we really suspected a pregnancy.

Like people, a goat pregnancy brings on an increase in appetite and fluctuations in milk supply. We noticed those changes right away. We’d also been tracking Poptart’s cycles, they cycle about every 21 days and when I hadn’t seen her showing signs of being in heat when Clay (our buckling) has been in and out of rut (the male goat’s horny time) I knew something was up.

We weren’t intentionally breeding them but it was inevitable. Poptart has a younger breeding buddy, Clay. He was born this spring, she is a few years older. We bought them at the same time and planned to house them in separate pens. We knew our buckling would become sexually mature this summer but time and available resources haven’t permitted us to split them up, yet. We’ve been drinking “bucky” flavored milk and knew we Poptart would likely end up pregnant. We just didn’t think it would happen so fast and without much trial and error!

We did witness Clay trying to breed Poptart, it was the first display noted and it has apparently gotten the job done. Poptart is over a month bred now, blood test confirmed.

Now we’ve got a fire under us to tie up our kidding loose ends (kidding = goat’s having babies). We’ve been planning to build a “kidding barn” from pallets. We have the pallets and the plans… just need to make time to construct it… So far it’s about a third of the way done.

Next we’ve got to dry up Poptart. You see, milk goats like a milking rest before having babies. Lots of growth happens in the last two months of gestation and a pregnant doe needs all the nutrition she can get to help those kids (baby goats) grow. Did you know a single goat doe can have anywhere from 1-5 babies at a time? Our goats were both twins themselves so we are planning for multiple kids just to be safe.

Exciting stuff huh?

Clay isn’ so excited, he just wants to put the moves on something and Poptart is SOOOOO not interested. He’s even taken to trying to mount us among many other mischievous things- like sleeping on the picnic table & swinging with Adalyn…




You never can predict or control things on a farm…

Things haven’t been dull or slow here. Sure we bought a clearance hammock to hang in a tree and the change of season is nearing but…

We’ve had a wet few weeks and our turkey tractor (aka the rolling poultry pen) has been flooded out twice. Last week a turkey became sick and died. I spent half a day quarantining and then nursing the thing. Later that evening, when Nathan got home to greet it, it died. The following day I buried it – can’t eat a possibly ill bird. Man, an almost full grown turkey needs a BIG burial hole! After digging a grave I had to administer apple cider vinegar to all the poultry but first old waterers needed to be dumped, sanitized and refilled. If dead turkey had a contagious bug we can’t let it spread to the rest of the flock… We currently have a flock of 15 adult chickens, 19 chicks (3 were hatched on the farm!) and 5 turkeys so the sanitizing and dosing took a bit of time.

After the poultry nursing, sanitizing, monitoring and reconfiguring we had about 24 hrs before Adalyn’s birthday weekend (which also consisted of farm market selling, an ash spreading party (a celebration not a mourning) and Labor Day. We were supposed to attend a labor day picnic but the “managers special” salmon I made the day before landed us with food poisoning. Luckily, we are swimming in probiotics and fermented food goodness so it wasn’t debilitating or long lived.

Then we had more rain, lots more!  This time part of the goat pen flooded. Water isn’t good for their hooves so we let the goats free range. Lately they’ve been confined per warnings from the locals… deer hunting time is near and our milk goat REALLY looks like a deer from afar, we need a bright ribbon and cow bell for her to wear! Anyway, while the goats were out free ranging, they only seem to want to be where we want to keep them out of. Today it was the deck. Our buckling, Clay, put his head through a gate and essentially ripped his horn off trying to remove his head from the gate. Everly came in to report, Mom, it’s an emergency. Come see!” There was blood everywhere! We dumped cornstarch on the snapped horn to slow and clot the bleeding while we gave Clay treats.

It was fitting that a vet friend (who unfortunately doesn’t treat large animals) was stopping by to draw blood for our doe’s pregnancy testing. After the blood draw on Poptart we determined Clays bleeding was clotting so we left him to recuperate overnight. She was going to tie off the vein that was in the horn to stop the bleeding.

The next day, wind, chewing and walking was irritating Clay’s almost knocked off horn. It was now bent forward and hanging on by what seemed like a thread. We felt it needed removal, he was clearly suffering. The thing is, horns aren’t like fingernails. There is blood supply and sinus cavity in them. Removal can be quite bloody, unpleasant and could lead to infection. We wanted someone with a steadier hand and more experience than we had for this important job.

We were thankful that farmer Grover stopped by with blood clotting powder and his cattle horn snippers. Cattle horns and goat horns are different but the tools and skills are similar. After just 10 minutes or so one knocked lose horn and one intact horn were gone, for now. They’ll probably grow back though. It’s always something around here, different song and dance from time to time… but the music never seems to stop playing.

Since moving to the farm I’ve learned that its really not about managing or controlling, its all about adapting. The animals don’t obey or stay out of mischief (especially goats!), the weather isn’t predictable, the crops don’t always flourish (or they do and you have 300 lbs of massive tomatoes to move)… we certainly aren’t in control of anything. But knowing that fact sure helps us find more success because it makes us quicker on our feet and more clued in to subtle variations of the norm.

For now, while we are between fiascos, we’ll be to hanging the hammock and sipping some coffee while the kids giggle on Adalyn’s birthday tree swing!

By the way, have you seen us on the Land Connection newsletter this week? You can check it out here.

If you are curious about how poor Clay’s horn looked the morning after the horn break, before we removed them, here are some pics… They are graphic, beware.


It’s oddly quiet…

Things are in transition again. It’s very quite here in the mornings and oddly, I’m feeling a touch of calmness.

Could it be that we are forging a new yearlong routine? Is it just that I’m down to juggling two kids during this time? Is it because needs are being better met in our new arrangement?

It’s probably a combination of everything.

My oldest, Miss Everly, is a Kindergartener. Her first day of school was Friday, today was her first day on the school bus.

All summer I’ve been back and forth about school. For the preschool years she was in a Montessori coop type setting with a 3 hr class in a fellow mom’s home several days a week. We also pull from the Montessori method where home education is concerned and have several spaces throughout the house for Montessori materials and work time. The Montessori method works for our home in many ways, hands on education us our style but after moving out here we had to reevaluate things.

Have I mentioned there is only one other family that lives on our street? There aren’t many kids nearby for Everly to hang out with and as it turns out, she really grew accustomed to the community of children she saw during the week in her Montessori class outside the home. Since, moving out here, she’s been cagey and annoyed with her sister. She’s been stifled and probably bored. We wont be abandoning our homeschool/ Montessori ways but…

We went ahead and enrolled her in the local public school. She needs the time with other kids her age, she needs the sense of community, she needs her time to shine, her independence…

She had a great first day! It was nerve wracking for her when I dropped her off and was trying to leave. Her tears made me a bit teary… but we got through it and she had a fun-filled day. Today, her second day of school she rode the bus to and from the school. My baby is growing up… Time sure flies.

We have hatching…

Over the last three weeks we’ve been monitoring the humidity and temperature of our homemade “Coolerbator” egg incubator. My last post was about counting our chickens before they’d hatched..

So far, our 15 mail order chicks have arrived and are thriving. Today our incubated eggs are cheeping & beginning to hatch!

The eggs have been on lockdown since friday because hatch day was supposed to be nearing but secretly in the back of our mind we hadn’t been counting on much to result… Mainly because this is our first attempt, also because four of the seven eggs (the blue & green ones) in the incubator were stored for about 2 weeks prior to incubating (which can really decrease hatch rate).

Plus, our homemade incubator isn’t the most air-tight temperature regulated thing right now. When I heard this faint “cheep, cheep!” coming from the dining area I was kind of amazed and pleasantly surprised. We weren’t in very high sprits this morning after someone dropped by to see us but the surprise cheeping turned moods around.

Things got going just a few hours ago… and between energy bursts the chick rests so it’s difficult to capture all the action but it seems we’ll probably have a new hatchling, possibly two if nothing has gone wrong between my day 18 candling and now.

8/10 6:50 p Update: We now have two eggs chirping! One is almost out, the other has yet to pip a hole but it’s talking!

8/11 Nothing exciting happen overnight, little chick just rested. The resting continued most of the morning, with small cheeping bursts in between.

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Noon Update: The chick is pressing it’s self on the ends of the shell from the inside… It’s emerging from the shell now (and we got it on video!)

I’m waiting for the videos to upload so I can share them. Stay tuned :)

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Swimming in chicks this fall… or not?

I’m trying to not count my eggs before they hatch but we might be swimming in chicks soon! Let’s see, where was the beginning of this chicken saga? I believe it all started when we found our beloved Bernice, an Americauna hen, dead near the stock trailer. She was from the first batch of chicks we bought back when Everly was a newborn. She laid us greenish blue eggs. Here is a photo of her trying to hatch eggs in our compost bin this last spring:

We recently found her dead in the yard, no signs of trauma. I thought her neck might have been broken from our too aggressive roosters, we had five roosters and they were all competing and sometimes gang raping hens. After Bernice I tried to separate all but one rooster from my hens. In the process Snowball, Everly’s new cattle dog, was asked to help catch a leghorn rooster for us. She didn’t succeed and we ended up giving up on catching him. He didn’t go in the coop to be locked up overnight either.

The next morning Snowball took care of business, a bit too well. We found feathers all over the yard and Snowball was missing. Later that morning we found her down the road in a cow pasture unsure how to navigate the ditch that was separating her from the road and our house. Nathan found her and nearby there was a dead, half eaten leghorn rooster. Snowball remembered the command she was given and the rooster she was supposed to get… and she got the job done a good 18 hrs later. Unfortunately, we didn’t want her to kill him, just to help us round him up. We still have some cattle dog training to do. She wont be helping us “get” anymore animals… for now.

The day Bernice died she laid one last egg. I saved it and four other blue & blue green eggs from the week for future incubation. About a week later Nathan built us an incubator (a coolerbator, it’s really from a Styrofoam ice chest!). We are trying to hatch 7 eegs in there right now. One is a double yolk that we’ve candled!

A few days later our other cattle dog, Dixie, sniffed out something odd in the bushes near the goat pen. It’s one of our new hens from this spring’s chicks… she’s broody in the brush out there. She’s been sitting 5 days that we’ve counted, day and night, rain or shine… with just an afternoon break each day as the sun shines down through the tress on her clutch of eggs. We take her some food and check the eggs now and then, I counted 9 eggs. We tried candling about 5 of them over the weekend. They aren’t as developed as our eggs in the incubator, so they seem younger. Here they are:

clutch of 9 eggs in a nest
I should also mention that we just placed a baby chick order too… 15 chicks of preferred breeds for egg laying and breeding, to arrive next week.

So let’s do the math- 7 eggs in the incubator + 9 or more eggs under our broody hen + 15 chicks on the way. We might have close to 31 new chicks next month. Crap!  

It’s unfortunate when you “golden shower” yourself… Right?

Someone has popped two top teeth through and is getting quite active, so active that the worn out velcro closures on my five year old cloth diapers aren’t doing the job anymore. Must make time to covert the velcro to snaps, ASAP!

Last night when I heard a tiny baby cough coming from the bedroom I went in all concerned. Has he been sleeping so long because he is getting a cold? I peek in on him and see exposed penis…

I find golden beads of urine, on his belly, his arms, his face and his hair…that sprayed every which way. He’s coughing because he’s just gotten a golden shower.  

His bed was soaked, his body was drenched. Poor guy thought he was drowning in his bed I bet.

After a nice warm bath he was good as new again.