Thursday, July 16, 2009

Goat Stew

Last Friday morning, while Steven was out in the garden, we got a call from a neighbor that said the goats were out, on the road, and one of them had been hit by a passing truck.

Steven hurried out there to find his mamma doe (although all her kids are mostly grown now) had been recently killed by a vehicle, so he immediately brought her up to the house (after getting the rest of them back in), field dressed her, skinned her out, and began butchering up the meat for the freezer.

On the one hand, she was one we had strongly consider butchering anyway for a number of reasons (bad temperament, hoof problems, udder problems) but also she had been our best bearer of kids. This incident, however, made up our minds for us. We just didn't plan to butcher on one of the hottest days of the year. I'm proud of Steven for spending his entire day on this project, especially when he found all my kitchen knives as lacking in sharpness, and ended up butchering the entire carcass with his pocket knife.

Put some of the goat meat in the slow cooker on Sunday night, and we've been enjoying goat stew all week -- joined in the pot by our wonderful garden offerings of potatoes, onions, garlic, sage, tomatoes, squash and whatever else we can find to throw into the pot.

I still have much of the meat in the fridge to grind up into burgers. Plus we gave some of it to my other two kids when they were home visiting for the weekend, and they reported enjoying it much when they fixed it up at their place.

In other news, we have two new ducklings (I will post photos later) and our 11 chicks are doing quite well. We are badly in need of a rain, so keep us in your prayers for that. It has rained all around us this week, but it isn't falling on our area of the county. The garden is struggling to do its best regardless. We had our hottest day of the past 3 years, at 107, this past Monday, but now it has cooled down some, and we're hopefully the rain clouds will come by our place tonight.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Well, there has been so much going on lately -- I simply haven't had time to try to get a new post up here on the blog. Summer is short when it is filled with projects!

However, I tried to remember to take photos as the days passed, so I could eventually get them up here to update all my friends:

First, after an eternity of waiting on her nest, one of our broody ducks hatched a chick -- a chicken chick! We knew the duck eggs under her weren't fertile, so we snuck a couple of chicken eggs into the nest while she was up drinking, so that something would hatch for her.

Mama duck with baby chicken. The chick is standing off on the edge of the nest because it was so very hot this day.

Once the chick was hatched, we took the chick away to the brooder, and eventually, after a couple more days, took the rest of the eggs away from the duck. Broody duck hens are so funny-acting, they are hilarious. They hunch down and squawk constantly (when up, not when on the nest) and made a huge dash just to get up to get feed and water. I should post a video.

This chick was from our sole California White hen (the only white bird we have). It's papa, however, is a New Hampshire.

After a few more days, the broody hen we had in the chicken house hatched out 11 chicks. These are from an assortment of eggs, both from the older RIR hens, the hens from last year which are RIR/New Hamp cross, and from the California White (crossing with the New Hamp). So she got a variety of colors. And after three or four days in the brooder all by itself, the duck-hatch chick was glad to be put in with a "family".

The little chick standing outside the nest is the duck-hatched one from above, a couple days older than the hen-hatched chicks. This photo was actually taken before all of them hatched out, so the rest are less than one day old here. We keep this group in a approx. 3' x 4' enclosure in the chicken house itself, encased in chicken wire, so the cats don't bother the chicks until they are older.

Here are some of the rest of our birds, up on the roost for the evening. Noticed how the California White hen stays off to herself at the top, preferring to roost on the ledge of the window or door instead of on the roost!

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Our Iowa Blue pullets are coming along extremely well! They are a much lighter breed than our RIRs, and much more "flighty" but they are very good grazers/scavengers, and tend to stay out of the chicken house as long as possible in the evenings before roosting. They love being out and about. They are also much much quieter than the RIR breed. The photos I have of them are not very good, but give you an idea as to their size:

The garden is coming along well. I don't have any really good photos of it to share, but will post this one taken from the opposite direction of all the other photos I have posted of it so far.

Steven is trying some cool new ideas for the garden layout, putting a few stalks of corn in each hill of either squash, melons, or cucumbers, etc. Lots of companion planting. We have harvested onions, strawberries, peas, green beans, and a few tomatoes.

During the hot streak we had of 7 days around or over 100 degrees (it was miserable) Steven spent a good deal of his time trying to keep everything watered and cooled off. That included a lot of work on getting the windmill going, because the cattle herd (part of our land is leased to a cattle ranch) drinks the entire stock tank down so fast on hot days!

I almost forgot! We did finally obtained a nice Cayuga type drake:

He does have a crest, which we don't care for, but we can breed that out of our flock. Our Cayuga hens seem to like him. :) So now we've gone from no drakes (in May) to three drakes, so we will probably be eating a couple of them soon. (the other two were not Cayuga type, so weren't exactly what we wanting for breeding).

Well, we plan to have company tomorrow evening for the 4th of July. Mostly family, but also some friends, over for a cookout of hamburgers, hot dogs and a good game of softball. Should be a blast. Hope everyone that reads this has a blessed and safe holiday.