Monday, August 31, 2009

The Goats let the Pigeons out

.. that is the line my son used on his Facebook status, and it is just as hilarious as it sounds.

His pigeon-breeding aviary is in the corner of the goat barn. Well, one day late last week, the goats, (knowing Steven feeds the pigeons grain) figured a way to hook their horns around the wires holding the door shut on the aviary, and rip it open and get inside.

This, of course, scared the pigeons clean out. Except for the one mama pigeon who is nesting on an egg and refused to leave her nest (thank goodness).

Since originally they stayed in the barn, Steven was able to capture some with a net and put them back in the aviary. But one young bird soared out of the barn and into the tree tops and went AWOL for a few days. We were sure she'd been eaten by a hawk or something.

Late Saturday, she came back to the area, and we hoped she would go inside the barn at nightfall. However, when we returned home after dark, she was roosting on the top of the barn, outside. Steven climbed up there at 11 PM at night -- flashlight in one hand, net in the other. He was able to capture her, but then was faced with how to get off the very dew-wet, slick metal barn roof, without a light, as both hands were busy holding the bird. Luckily, I began to wonder what was taking so long and went to check, so was able to be an couple extra pairs of hands so we could get both bird and man off the rooftop safely.

It was urgent we get them captured and back in, because tomorrow (in Kansas) begins dove-hunting season. I doubt the hunters in this area would be able to tell the difference between a mourning dove and loose pigeon during the wee hunting hours of the morning.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wood Stove

We have a Franklin Wood Stove!

As some of you know, we have been pushing hard to get our house off propane heat and focus on wood heat only, especially after last year spending several thousand dollars which just barely kept the house at bearable warmth (65 or less) during the winter.

So we have been searching ads, both online and off, for some time looking for a good used woodstove that would suit our needs, was within our budget, the right size for our space, etc. We feel this was a real God-send that we happened across this ad, and it ended up being only 8 miles from our house! (I didn't like the idea of taking the old farm truck many miles away to haul something like this).

The people selling it are going to use a wood pellet stove instead. We wanted a true wood stove, because we have access to so much free dead wood here. The boys did a great job of getting the heavy stove onto and off of the truck. It's currently in the garage, still waiting for us to get the tile laid on the floor in the living room where it will reside. We must hustle on this, as the nights are turning cooler, and we refused to use our furnace even one more day - in fact, we plan to remove the furnace entirely.

As our two baby Cayuga ducks have grown so fast and so large that you can barely tell which ones are baby and which are mama, we have also welcomed in 10 new baby mixed-breed ducks (Mallard-type) from our tan duck. The baby chicks I showed early and now sleek young pullets (and cockerels) and I need to post new photos of them. (I have not yet fixed my camera, but was able to pull these photos off the memory card with the use of card reader).

I'll end with a photo of our best hunter/outdoor cat -- Peggy Sue -- sitting pretty.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer is winding down

Last week, my sons worked hard on getting the greenhouse erected.

Still a few roof panels to set into place and fasten, and extra reinforcement to add all the way around. This photo doesn't really do it justice, as to how large this building is. Again, we are very blessed to have received it, and Steven did an excellent job of getting it put together solidly. I have no idea what all he will use it for just yet, but I'm sure he's making plans. (Personally, I will be glad to get his bedding plants off the south porch each spring, and into a proper greenhouse!)

David isn't able to help Steven finish the work this week, as he just had oral surgery and will be laid up a few days. So Steven and I will have to finish it up ourselves (probably mostly just Steven). David will probably also be going home to McPherson as soon as he is well enough.

In other news -- our tan duck hatched her chicks! Seven little ones so far, I think. I only have a photo of one, because she is very possessive of her nest, and keeps them close under her at this point.

And on Sunday, we traveled to get our new livestock guard dog. She is turning out to be a real sweetie! Lilly is half Anatolian Shepherd and half Great Pyrenees. Steven has been working with her daily to teach her what is expected, and walking the property with her so she will know her boundaries. She seems to have a great personality and I'm sure she will be great asset to the farm. She is only about 8 months old, so still has more growing to do. (She is on a chain in this pic only because she's new to the place, so we pen her temporarily when we are not out with her to keep and eye on her and train her about where she can and can't go).

meet Lilly

This Saturday is Yoder Heritage Day, so we are looking forward to the activities there again this year. We've had several good rains this week, making August much greener than in past years, and meaning I need to get the mowers back out!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

End of July

Well, I had hoped dearly to be able to post up photos of the greenhouse progress, however, my digital camera decided to just totally die. This is going to make photos for the blog (going forward) much harder to acquire and load. I will fiddle with it more tonight and see if I can get it fixed, or if a new one is in order.

Here is the last photo taken during the end of July on our greenhouse project

The contraption in the center is a "water level" devised by Uncle Paul. That man is absolutely amazing. He is 91 years old and he knows how to do everything the "old" way by hand. Steven loves learning from him. Uncle Paul came out to help Steven level and square the base of 4x4s we put down for the greenhouse. This water level helped them get it level all the way around. I don't know how it works, as I didn't get to witness this part. The greenhouse is approx. 12 ft. x 21 ft. in size.

We consider ourselves very blessed to have been given this used greenhouse by someone who didn't want it anymore. It was a lot of work getting it dismantled after it had been in the former location for probably 30 years, and it will be a lot of work getting it back up. But it will be wonderful to have it.

A few other photos to share until I get a chance to update again:

Onions from the garden. When we harvest, I braid them like this, so we can hang them in the shed to dry. They keep much better this way and don't sprout too early. We kept several through all winter in these braids.

Our billy goat kid is really growing.
He is going to be a very fine buck.
Now Steven just needs to decide if he is keeping him,
or selling him.

This little calf is not ours -- he is one of the resident herd from our leasee. But I thought this was a cute photo. I'm sure they are going to cull him/her out though, as they raise only purebred black Angus, and this little one was apparently the product of an errant neighboring Limousin bull. Wish I could purchase this one.. even if just for locker beef.

In other news, the baby ducklings are out most all day during the day now, really growing big. The baby chicks are getting their feathers in and we let them out for short periods of the day -- still too risky to have them out as much as the older chickens. They sure are a variety of colors from Steven's genetic-cross program. I will try to post photos when I can.

And Happy Birthday to two of my three kids this week -- my younger son's birthday was yesterday, and my daughter's is tomorrow. It will be a busy week!