Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cooking Gadgets - Eggies

I'm always interested in cooking gadgets. You never know what will work fantasically (like rice cookers) or bomb.

My hens produce up to 13 eggs a day now. (It can vary wildly from season to season.) I sell the majority at the Vine Grove Farmer's Market. The rest goes to private customers, with the duck eggs going to Whole Life Buying Club.

The downside to fresh-from-the-barn-eggs is that the shells stick to the boiled egg.

That's where these eggies come in handy. Oil the eggie shell and the whole thing pops out with a bit of help from a tooth pick.

Gotta fly!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The New Guys Arrived

The new alpacas arrived today. It started out a little scary...the rain made it impossible to get the trailer out of it's parking space. Lisa Saettel did her best. The people from SELR were kind enough to bring them the rest of the way.

I wasn't sure what was going to happen. We put them in the pen to dry off and get settled. Poor things didn't know what to think about the chickens.

I called Grumpy, but he refused to have anything to do with me. I helped Lisa with her kids while she visited her Mom at HMH. Came home to let the horses back in the barn. The New Guys seemed very content in the pen.

I called Grumpy, to my surprise he came in the barn three or four times before I got the door closed. He was really, really interested in the New Guys. I managed to corner him, halter him and got him over to the pen. I didn't know if he would go in or not. But he charged in, ears forward.

There was some kicking, no spitting, no biting and a few bleats. But for the most part, Grumpy had his ears forward.

It looked like he was smiling.

I'm really glad. He wasn't happy as an Only Alpaca.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jordan's Croft As An Ecosystem

Grumpy stands watch over the poultry flock. Good boy!

Say what?

Well, it is an ecosystem abet a small one, but this tiny parcel of land (5 acres) is a living thing.

This is how it works:

The horses are the primaries. They graze the grass and weeds, leaving manure behind. Their bedding is spread to fertilize the grass. The manure spreader does it's thing, spreading grass seed, lime and wood ashes to feed the grass.

The chickens eat some grass, but mostly they kick the manure piles apart looking for bugs. Their favorite food appears to be fly grubs. The ducks eat a lot of grass, and every bug they can catch.

The geese are grazers who act as an alarm system and as walking fertilizer spreaders.

The alpacas are browsers who will nibble the weeds and now it looks like they will protect the poultry from minor predators. (I think of my dogs as minor predators.) I HOPE they will protect against foxes!

We get to eat the chicken eggs. I usually sell baby ducks and some mature pairs as well as the drakes that go to my Chinese friends. This year I'm hoping to sell duck eggs to the people at Heartland Whole Life Buying Club.

If all goes right I will have several baby geese to sell this summer as well. Last year only 2 out of 5 goslings survived. This year I've already got an incubator full of goose eggs. Any that hatch will be sold off to feed the rest of the flock.

It looks like Grumpy will provide a fleece for me to turn into yarn. I'll either sell the yarn or what I make from it.

This isn't big bucks by any stretch of the imagination. However, there's just enough money coming in to feed the poultry.

That's good enough for me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Grumpy Has a Job!

This is Grumpy the alpaca. We were afraid that he would pine away when he lost his lifelong companion Bashful. 

However, he found a new purpose in life - guarding the chickens.  

The little dog in the blue sweater is Trouble. Trouble LOVES to chase chickens. 

And Grumpy shows him that the chickens have a new protector!

"Don't worry, little buddy. I'll protect you!"

I took these photos today. It was great fun to watch the animals interact. There was just one more thing...

The young mare didn't want that fuzzball getting too close to HER human. And the old gelding came around to back her up.

Sorry Grumpy, you aren't the Alpha of this herd. This is Mare territory.

Stay tuned! You never know what I'm going to see and what I can get photos of. The animals here have their own world, and a strict pecking order.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Finished Snood

I never heard of a snood before - now I've got a really pretty one!

The yarn is Red Heart, fuzzy stuff is 'fun fur'.

This was a test knit, getting ready to make the same thing from something I spun at home.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gone Forever! (Thank you, God!)

Finally, after two years of sitting idle - the White Elephant is gone.

While the identical twin of this bike was a lot of fun, this one has been nothing but a chrome-plated money pit.

I'm glad it's gone...taking all the assorted junk with it.

Now I have room in the shed to store stuff.

I hope the people who bought it enjoy it as much as we enjoyed the first one.

Good riddence!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Finished - At Last

The renovation of Chicken World is complete, there are 8 nest boxes, and twice as much roosting space now. There are still quite a few small details that need to be worked out. Some small spaces that need to be filled in, a few bits of paneling that need to be covered.

The crates are removable, for easy cleaning. Hopefully I'll be able to give the walls a coat of white wash before too long. If the weather EVER warms up.

The number of eggs has already gone up from five a day to nine. It might be because I'm not in there messing around while they're trying to lay.

I look at those photos with a very profound sense of satisfaction. There are many, many hours of work on those walls. I haven't found a single frozen chicken egg since I put the crates against the wooden walls. The eggs are also very clean. They hardly need any cleaning, just a quick swipe.

Now, I need the duck hens to find the hidden nests and get busy.

Now, back to the shakeup in the publishing industry.