Monday, June 10, 2013


I'm back! Well, truth to tell, I never left, I just got really busy with, oh, everything!  Researching papers for friends with real publications, writing articles for my dog community's sites and life in general.
But I'm back. That's all that's important, isn't it?
It's been some hectic months up here on the little mountain side and we've grown.  My husband's commitment to Reduce, Reuse Recycle- fueled strongly by me bringing home things I think we can use with a big smile and telling him to get creative- has resulted in new enclosures for the rabbits and birds.
In early spring (who I am kidding, we never got a spring here this year) we answered an ad for a Dorset lamb not far away from us for a reasonable price. I like lamb, but Richard could eat it daily and never grow tired of a single meal. So off we go to Check to check out Drizzle the Lamb. Yes, they named him. Can I complain? My husband and daughter name everything else we have around here. The big guy immediately quipped that Drizzle was just part of his name; the rest was Of Gravyontop.  Leaning against the fence rails in this peaceful place observing the small, quiet flock, the owner whispers to me "Don't tell my wife you're going to eat him".
Probably not a good time to mention my recipe for blood orange glazed chops, huh?
After much pulling and prodding and shoving and pushing and lifting and  shaking of a little can full of feed, we get Drizzle to the truck and loaded into an old steel wire crate for the trip home. The Mrs may not have known what was coming but Drizzle seemed to have a clue.

We made a quick stop at Kroger on the way home for a few pantry supplies and with the loud BLLLLAAAAATTTTTTTTSSSS  coming from the back of the truck we attracted a crowd kind of fast. Amazing to me how many people, even in an area like ours, can stil be so disconnected from their food. "You're going to eat him???? No way!"
Way, buddy. Way indeed.
A ten by ten unused kennel pen made a decent little lamb enclosure for our newest temporary friend. Charm was happy to have something besides chickens, ducks and geese to herd for once.

Drizzle was with us only a few short weeks before making his one way trip to Freezer Camp.  Since I had never processed a  lamb before and really didn't have the proper tools (yet) I left that job to the pros at Harvey's in Fairlawn. They were even kind enough to package up selected organ meats and bones for the dogs. Our Akitas had a field day!

  Meanwhile, back on the ranch....

We made a new friend online. David has incubators, and enjoys hatching poultry, so he sent out a message on facebook- send me your poor, tired, huddle masses of fertilized eggs yearning to pip!- or something like that.  He wanted to keep a few for himself so ok- we pitched him four dozen or so lovely eggs from our ducks and waited. Of course, who can wait for ducklings to hatch? So we acquired a few more.  One of the friendly folk at our local Tractor Supply knew I was looking for Khaki Campbells, so she called me to let me know they had a few. We rushed right down and brought home the most adorable little noisy kiwi fruits ever. And even more Pekins, because at a markdown price of a buck each, they would make quality Campers.  Got a few Jersey Giants while we were at it and a few more mixed Reds.  Our current layers won't lay forever you know.
David's hathcing techniques worked well and we brought home even more ducklings- 6 Khaki/Pekin cross (we had no Khaki drake) and 8 Pekins.  Duck me, that's a lot of poultry!

Turns our our little fuzzballs weren't Khaki's- they are Cayugas. I've never been happier with a mix up! They have feathered in in astounding shades of green blue and violet.  I must keep these ducks.
Some people say they have a lot of bills- we're flooded with them. All every one of them wants a portion of pellets and corn each day!


Thankfully the ducks are very good foragers, keeping us within our budget and still supplying us with delicious super jumbo eggs and fresh meat.  We'll be processing next week, while my husband is out of town. He has a soft heart. Empty stomach trumps it come meal time though, so it's all good.

Rabbits, rabbits everywhere!   We added some new Flemish crosses we'll be breeding soon and have two litters on the ground ready to send to Camp soon. Rich created a neat little "rabbit tractor" from recycled lumber, a bit of chicken wire and some lightweight garden border fencing for a hinged top. We can easily lift it together and move it around the property giving the rabbits fresh air, sunlight, and all the clover they want.  A simple mixed salts recipe Rich found online for tanning hides worked well and we're able to use even more of each animal now. I hate waste.  Make the most of each one, say I. Make a cozy fur throw for the couch for next winter, says he!

So what shall we do with all this bounty?  Do we really need this much duck meat, mixed eggs and rabbit meat? Of course not. Like any good homesteader, we trade for what we don't have.  Venison, fresh goat's milk (thanks Katie!) and tasty things that come in mason jars make their way to our fridge and shelves.  Each day we become a little more self sufficient.  My daughter is enjoying creamy homemade goat's milk ice cream. Who needs a machine? A small baggie with mix inside a larger baggie with ice and salt then tell her to go shake it up! 

Waste not, want not, right? The compost heap gave us a head start on our small garden this year- this property just doesn't have the space for what I really want, but it'll do for a little longer. It's early June and we already have cherry tomatoes, green peppers and lovely bushy basil.

Sadly, none of Fred and Ginger's viable eggs developed to maturity. Fred and Ginger are our two "rescue' Pilgrim Geese.  Owner had to sell her house and move away to a city limits town home that wouldn't welcome the noisy but efficient guard birds. They patrol the yard n ow and we're happy to have them, though goose won't be on the menu for at least another year now.  We'll try again next spring....

And lastly for this long overdue update I bring you you the latest addition to our home and our hearts, Flynn!   Yet another stalwart guardian for the crew.


Next post- recipe time again!