Trying to get going … again!

I don’t know what it is about getting my butt in gear and going out and doing my milking and other chores.  Maybe it’s because it’s cold and dark.  I’ve been tired lately and it may be I’m getting too much sleep.

Yoda’s heat doesn’t work and I couldn’t get it fixed yesterday when I went to have him serviced.  I’ll bring him back Monday night to have it fixed on Tuesday.  No heat Saturday morning is going to suck.  I need to drag out my winter woolies!

I’ll be going out to Rock House Farm this afternoon to pick up the meat, grain and most importantly, get photos for the newsletter, which I haven’t written yet.  It’s in my head, I just haven’t put it on paper computer.  I am only allowed a page per newsletter so that isn’t a lot of writing.  It isn’t even really a page because I have to list the specials, etc. as well.

Our chickens have finally started laying!  We got 14 eggs yesterday.  That’s what I’m talking about!  While in Morganton, I’m going to swing by a business that has chicks and if they look good, I’m going to buy a bunch of them.  They are only $1 per chick which is really cheap, which makes me wonder, but I guess if you buy in the bulk that they are buying, they are probably getting the chicks for $.50 or maybe even less.  They are straight-run birds.  Because of what happens to the male chicks at hatcheries, I have decided not to buy just pullets and I am going to get heavy, dual purpose breeds so I can use the roosters for meat.  I think what chickens we have left will keep us in eggs until the chicks get old enough to lay.  From my research, it appears if you can get chicks early enough so they start laying in the fall, they’ll lay through the winter better than those that haven’t started laying in the fall.  If I buy chicks today, they’ll be old enough to lay in August or September.  Now that there is a chicken processing plant not too far from here, I can have the birds processed which will eliminate my procrastination about processing them.

I’ve been giving the chickens a gallon or so of goat milk almost every day.  I add some kelp and alfalfa pellets to the milk before giving it to them.  The alfalfa pellets soften and because they have been soaked in the milk, the chickens eat them better than they do if they are dry.  If I can keep that up, I may be able to completely phase out the laying pellets.  Laying pellets = crap food.

I’ve been doing some research on raising chicks using deep litter to help keep them warm.  Remember how I said I was going to try to keep the goat shelter cleaned out?  Well, that didn’t work and really, it’s best that they are kept on deep litter as it keeps them warmer.  Plus, what comes out of the shelter in the spring is going to be more usable as compost than what I cart to the compost pile.  It’s covered by the roof of the shelter, but it gets moisture from that goats’ urine.  I guess I’ll need to be patient and wait on the guy who cleaned it out last spring to do it again this spring.  I’m excited about getting chicks!  They’ll live in the office until they feather out.  Then we’ll need to figure out a way to keep them safe outside.  I might fence in a “yard” in front of the smaller chicken (formerly duck) house.  We fixed that smaller house so that we could flip it up on its side for ease in cleaning it.  I could have the guy with the Bobcat clean that out as well when he comes to do the goat shelter.

I started my first batch of goat cheese yesterday.  I will be able to drain it by mid-day today and we’ll see how it comes out.

Last night, I cooked a magnificent dinner!  I had taken out a rabbit, but didn’t know how I was going to cook it.  I have a bushel of sweet potatoes under the house and wanted to roast the rabbit with sweet potatoes, but I couldn’t find a recipe, so I made up my own:

  • I browned the cut up rabbit in lard;
  • Chopped up some local sweet potatoes and added them to the casserole dish;
  • Sauteed some onion, garlic and prosciutto in pan drippings and mixed into casserole dish;
  • Seasoned with salt, pepper, cinnamon and local honey.

I baked it in a covered dish for 90 minutes at 350 degrees.  It turned out FABULOUS!  Next time, I’ll either cook it for less time or at a lower temperature as it was a tiny bit dry.  Wally loved it and I believe I’ve got him talked into making me another rabbit barn.

I did a little bit of research into a goat milking machine … I really don’t want to go to a milking machine, but my hand is bothering me plus one of my Saanen X does is really hard to milk by hand.  Most times, I just let her go back into the goat pasture to let her two buck kids “milk” her.  Wally thinks I should sell her and I probably should, but I like her and she represents some of the best Alpine and Saanen genetics in the Southeast.  Plus, she’s a goof-ball and doesn’t give me any trouble on the milk stand … unlike certain bay goats (the Oberhaslis).  I had to hobble just about every bay goat that got on the stand yesterday.  What’s up with that?  A Bay Goat Rebellion I guess.

Yesterday, I planted Rutabaga and Arugula then covered all of the beds that are planted with Agribon and they’ll stay covered for the next five days or so as it will be too cold to uncover them.  I picked a full tub of greens for the rabbits.  The ones in the barn now know the routine and are at the front of their cages all but hopping up and down with anticipation.

Okay, off to milk.

Until later …