Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meat birds

The 7 chickens I butchered Monday all weighed at least 4 pounds each. There were 2 @ 3.25 pounds. the rest were 4-4 1/2 pounds each. Not too bad. I can already tell the others are growing bigger. I am so ready for them all to be gone. I have spent a small fortune on these birds. There's no way I'll make it all back. Does anyone actually make a profit raising and selling meat chickens? Anyone? If so, I would love to know how.

Chickens, sheep, cheese, corn, apples and water kefir

Yesterday, I drove up to Cleveland, Tn. to pick up these girls. 7 Barred Rock pullets. 3 months old. They seem to be adjusting quite well. I have them in the coop. I went out awhile ago to check on them and the door was open. I thought they'd all be gone. But they were all still inside! Good girls. They seem a bit tired, so I put some electrolytes in their water.

I moved the sheep to the back yard this morning, to mow the grass down back there. So far, so good. They're so funny, these sheep.

I also had a cheese order. So got some made this morning. It's draining now.

I had to stop at a friend's house to get a cage for the chickens and she said our friend Tony had called. He grows corn every year and we always get several dozen from him. He was picking yesterday so I got 5 dozen ears. He always puts an extra in. I got it all shucked and cut off the cob and now it's cooling from a short par-boil. I love that when I am doing food for canning or freezing, there is lots for the animals to eat too. The sheep and goats love the shucks and silks. I'll take the cobs to the pigs later. Also the cores from the apples I did too.

This tree is very old. An antique really. I don't know of anyone who has these trees. It's an Early June Transparent. It might have another name, I don't know. But my MIL had some at her farm. And every time we went up there, she'd cook some apples. So we were very happy to see a tree here when we bought this farm. I had a picture of a bucket of apples, but now it's gone. I put up 3 qts in the freezer and will have some for dinner tonight, along with corn on the cob and fried squash and cucumbers! Yum.

I am wondering if anyone has water kefir? I got this from a fermenting class way back in March. The grains are supposed to grow and multiply like crazy. But mine are not. This is about the same amount as I got back then. The drink is good. But the grains just aren't doing what they are supposed to be doing. I use organic sugar and regular sugar. I also went on'line and saw a guy who has some. He uses brown sugar and molasses too. And a bit of egg shell. So tried that. It was very thick. And then it got a film on it. I just don't know.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Just one of those Mondays

It started off with a phone call at 7 this morning. Mary, who stays with Mrs. T on the weekends, called to say a huge tree had fallen sometime during the night and was all over the yard, blocking the garage and driveway. Mary usually parks at the garage, but last Friday, I still had some shopping I needed to finish up for Mrs. T, so was going to drive Mrs. T's car. So had to get Mary to move her car so I could get out of the garage. And she never moved it back. Or it would have been crushed by the huge trunk.

Mrs. T is 95 years old. She'll be 96 next week. She was 8 years old when her parents planted this oak tree. It's gigantic. And over the years, she has had to have some major cutting on it. Lots of money spent on this tree. But she loves it. When I showed her out the window this morning, she was sad to see it. My daughter Abby and SIL Jason, were already out there cutting it up and clearing the brush.

You can see here how massive this was. And it had 2 sections. One went right in front of the garage, to the left. The other, at the top, went toward the barn. It landed on her herb garden, crushing a beautiful wisteria tree and a red bud tree, plus her herbs. But did not hit the barn or the garage.

We got a truck and trailer load of wood so far, with another big truckload still there. And a huge mountain of brush.

                                                    This is the garage, where Mary parks.

There was not a storm last night. Or rain or wind. The tree is just old and it's heavy. It just fell. You can see where it's just broken in pieces. It's not rotten either. And you can just see the left side of her little barn-storage building to the right. Didn't touch it.

And here is a pile of the wood, at my house. Seasoning in the sun til winter. Some will need to be split. This took several hours of work between us 3. And not how I had planned to spend my Monday.

This is what I was supposed to do this morning. I had 7 CC meat birds in a cage since Saturday, waiting for their turn in the cone. But stuff happens and they had to wait til this evening. Me and Kansas got the job done in about an hour. This was her first time pulling a heart out of the chicken. She said it was really warm in there! But she did it. A true farm girl! And every time I put a chicken in the cone, she thanked it, then said "off with your head".

And here they are, cooling in the cooler before they are weighed and bagged for the freezer. I only have about 65 more to go!

Also, one of the lambs, Blossom, had gotten out of the front fence and was whining and running around. Me, Heather and Kansas got her back in with the rest of the flock. Kansas was so good. She got the gate opened, then shut real fast behind her, before all the rest of the sheep got out. It sure is nice to have some help around here.

So that was my Monday. And my eye is still horrible. It didn't help at all, all that heavy wood and brush I had to carry this morning.. But I do love some free wood!

Good Monday morning!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Burst blood vessel

In my left eye. It's scary to see. I scare myself! It looks like an evil demon in scary movies with the horrible red glaring eyes. Hideous. Just hideous! I have to wear my sunglasses all the time so no one will see it.

It happened yesterday afternoon sometime. I have no idea why or where or how it happened. I mowed the sheep pasture and it was bumpy and I was under lots of tree branches. I thought at first I might have gotten a branch in my eye. But I think I would have remembered that. My left eye has been bothering me the past several days. I thought it was just allergies again. But then this.

So today, we went to my mom's for lunch. And she said I needed to go to the urgent care clinic up the road and have it looked at.  She went with me. I couldn't even let her look, it's so hideous. But the doctor said it was a burst blood vessel. And she gave me a prescription for eye drops. I was glad to get them. She also said it would be like this, hideous, for at least a week, maybe more. She said to not be lifting anything heavy for at least a week. Really? That's about all I do around here is lift heavy stuff. I am still hauling 5 gallon buckets of water to places where the hose won't reach. 50 pound sacks of feed too. And now I am going to be starting the butchering of many many meat chickens. Although they aren't really heavy, there's a lot of bending.

My blood pressure was 150/90 too. NOT good. I have got to lose weight. So starting tomorrow, July 1st, I am not eating any more sweets. And I LOVE all kinds of sweets. But I have done this before. So I can again. Me and my mom are going to Colorado the middle of August, so I have 6 weeks to see how much I can lose. I would love to wear a pretty long summer dress. And not look like a big fat old woman in a mumu. And some nice capris and shirts.

I just hate it when things like this happen. I am always getting hurt around here. Getting cut or scraped on something. Stepping on nails. Cutting fingers with knives. I don't like getting hurt at all. It messes me up and slows me down. And I don't like slow. But sometimes things happen for a reason. And I just have to go with it. But this is the most hideous thing ever.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Counting sheep

I am constantly counting my sheep. When I leave, when I come home, in the mornings, in the evenings.I just need to know they are all here. And together. Sometimes there might be 1 or 2 off by themselves, under a tree or in the barn. I go check on them to make sure they are ok. And I am listening to the sound of their bleats too. I can tell a distress call or a lamb wanting it's mother. Or a sheep's head stuck in a fence. Or even if a lamb has gotten out somehow. That's a frantic call for help! But a shepherd needs to know all these different calls and cries. So I am constantly checking on them during the day.

So far, they are all healthy and doing well. I am rotating pastures about every 3 weeks now. And mowing the pasture they just left a few days after. Plus I have 2 chicken tractors full of meat birds that are in their pasture, moving them all over, eating the sheep poop. That will help a lot. I have not had to worm them since they all had their lambs.

Speaking of lambs, they are all so big now. Even little Buttercup that was born a month ago, is growing so fast. And she's so sweet. But my little Bonnie Belle is still the sweetest of them all. She still comes to me and lets me pet her and love on her. She's just the sweetest little lamb.

I have 17 sheep now.  8 grown ewes, 8 lambs and a ram. I'll be taking the 3 wethered ram lambs to the butcher in the fall. They are growing really fast. I am curious to see if these will be bigger than the rams I had butchered last fall that weren't castrated. Those 2 were mostly hair sheep. 2 of this year's lambs are wool and one is hair. I'll see which are more meatier too. I castrated these guys so they could stay with the flock because I really don't have all that much room to keep rams separated. And they are all happy this way. Together, as sheep should be.

They are not getting any grain or hay right now, since there is so much grass for them to eat. Almost too much actually. But I am giving them kelp and minerals from the sea. I love how it all smells. Just like the ocean. And they love this stuff. I feel like it is making them much more healthy and is keeping their red blood cell count higher. And I was so pleased to see, after the last 2 ewes were sheared last week, the overall condition of their bodies. I was a little bit worried they might be a bit skinny under all that wool.  But they weren't! So, I am happy to see healthy, happy sheep at this time of year. Hopefully, this will carry into the fall and winter. I hope to be getting 2nd cut hay soon too. I'll be getting a better quality hay for them for winter.

And that's all for now. Just a little update on my sheep here at Outback Farm.