Monthly Archives: September 2009

5 Roosters = Soup

Last night we took our 2 remaining turkeys and 5 roosters to the processor. The roosters were all Barred Hollands from the batch of heritage breed chickens I ordered in the spring. I had high hopes for the heritage breeds but the Barred Holland is not a winner in my book. The roos are very aggressive, much like the Barred Rock rooster that we gave away to our neighbor last year because he was beating up all the other birds. I watched them for quite awhile during feeding and the Holland roosters would grab feathers out of the other birds for no reason at all. The Buckeye hens were taking a real beating because they are so docile. I’m very happy with the Buckeyes and the Buff Chanteclers so far, more on that some other time.

I googled how to cut up a chicken and studied several of the results. Last time I attempted to cut up some hens it didn’t go well. This time I removed both legs and both wings, then I cut the birds through the ribcage on each side. I discarded the back and neck and kept all of the other pieces to make canned chicken soup with. The five young roosters yielded 5 quart Ziploc bags of pieces. I removed all of the skin except that on the wings so it will be easy to pick the meat off later.

BTW, the computer is fixed (at least for now) so we’re now back to regular programming. I’ve been a little unplugged from technology this week and strangely enough, I’m enjoying it. I’ve been trying some new organizational techniques to help me stay on track around here. So far, so good. Staying on top of things is so much easier than constantly trying to catch up but it still takes a lot of time.
Have you ever canned soup? Cut up chickens? If not, what are you canning or preserving right now?


If I’m Not Here…

If I’m missing it will be because our computer got a virus last night. Hopefully it will be fixed tonight and back to me tomorrow but if I’m gone for awhile, that’s why. So long for now!

Onion Confusion

I planted onions in the spring…

So apparently I’ve been having a blond moment for the last several weeks now. I’ve been excited to collect seed from whatever garden plants I can. My onions sent up nice big flowers that now have thousands of seeds in them. I thought great, yippee, I get to save some onion seed. Ummm, no. Well, yes, I get some onion seeds. But no freakin’ onions!! I pulled them up today and the aren’t much bigger than the sets I planted.
Duh, I guess I should have thought about that. Apparently onions are not supposed to flower in their first year and if they do the bulbs will be very small. The bulbs also won’t store well since they have been pierced where the flower stalk pushed up. The only explanation I can find for this is extreme temperature fluctuations during the growing seasons. Yep, we’ve got that going on here in Michigan.
So what do you think? Has this happened to you? Am I missing something? Is this more likely to happen when you grow from onion sets? I’m so bummed.

Well, We’re Back

Very long, but covers the last 2 days…

So we did have a good vacation, it was just shorter than we wanted. We visited Shipshewana on Tuesday. It was nice but the flea market was mostly junk. I heard it is a lot better earlier in the season. The little shops were neat to visit. I thought it would take 2 days but we were ready to leave well before lunch time. We stopped by McGrew Tractor Parts. Brian walked around and looked at tractors and equipment for quite awhile. I was happy as a clam knitting in the truck. I even found the Dave Ramsey Show on the radio.

We drove over to Michigan City and somehow drove right past all the hotels, well within a block of them, without realizing it. We ended up downtown and then we drove along the coast for a long time. We were having fun but it was like something out of a movie. There was nothing for miles. Then we found a sign for the town of “Dune Acres”. It was more like Green Acres. There was a nice little town clerk in a sheriff type uniform and you couldn’t even get to the actual town because the roads were private. Yet it was in the woods/dunes so not very fancy.

Anyway that guy gave us a map and we found our way back to the hotels in Michigan City. We went out for a nice dinner and stopped at a little ice cream shop for dessert. Today is my birthday so that was a nice way to celebrate. Brian wanted to get me something but I talked him out of it since there are 3 different knitting classes I plan on taking this fall and those are expensive. That’ll be a nice present. 🙂

So then things took a turn for the worst. We got a call about 8 AM this morning from our neighbor. He said one of our ram lambs wouldn’t eat and was just laying around. We talked about it and considered our options and finally decided we should go home. We got back around 2:45. The ram was flat on his side and breathing heavily. Unfortunately it was the ram we planned to put in with our ewes for breeding this weekend. After calling our normal vet (out of town) and a backup (out of the office) we hauled the ram to a third vet.

The vet gave him a poor prognosis. We opted for blood work which showed that our ram’s kidneys were failing. At that point he was suffering and so we had the vet euthanize him. It was very weird for me to be on the other side of that. Usually I’m the one reassuring the owners while they say goodbye, not the one petting the animal and feeling so bad!

At first the vet thought he was afflicted with clostridium toxicity. We vaccinated him against the disease but I don’t think we ever boostered the vaccine so he may not have been protected. However, after doing bloodwork the vet said it was much more likely that the ram ingested a toxic substance from a plant or his feed. Clostridium would have affected the liver and not just the kidneys.

We’re at a loss as to what kind of toxic he may have ingested. He is fed hay that we personally cut, baled, and stacked. All of the animals get hay from the same field and are fed the same corn. All of the sheep get the same pelleted supplement and his came from a fresh, dry bag with no mold. Both of our ram lambs have been in a box stall so they were not even out on pasture where they could have chewed on a poisonous weed.

Also, one of our 3 turkeys died while we gone. No obvious reason. I’ve always heard turkeys were hard to keep alive but these ones were pretty much full grown and have been fine.

To top it all off, when we arrived home after disposing of the ram his new marking harness and halter had arrived and were waiting on the back step. I guess I’ll put it away for another year. We’ll be taking our flock to another farm for breeding this year.

I’m sorry to be such a downer. Tonight I told Brian I think I’m ready for a vacation – ha ha! On the bright side, our neighbors did take good care of everything while we were gone. Someone even mowed our lawn! That was a great welcome home gift. 🙂

I took a walk around the farm to remind myself how good we have it. That’s were the pics came from.

Vacation: Days 2 and 3

After the tractor pull on Friday night we followed my cousin and her husband in to Indiana. We had enjoyed the pull with them and had made plans to visit some friends together for the weekend. Our friends in Indiana moved there a couple years ago to join their family business, McCoy Dairy Farm. Brian and my cousin’s husband had fun talking to the guys, touring the farm, and helping out where they could. Since my cousin is due to deliver her first baby in October and our friend recently had her 4th child us girls had plenty to talk about too. It was really refreshing to see a dedicated Mom in action who manages to balance work on the farm with parenting. She’s my new role model! 🙂

I was really interested in the farm too. That barn in the picture is new – can you believe how wide it is!? Here’s the very best part…those of you who have read about my desire for a milk cow will understand. They. have. a. miniature. jersey. cow. Her name is Elaine and I’m in love. First I got to pet her – and then I got to milk her!!! I wish I had taken pictures but I didn’t want manure and iodine all over my camera. I spent awhile (maybe an hour?) in the milking parlor helping out. I’ve always been interested in milking cows so it was fun to try it. It seems like the type of job a person could get very efficient at with practice which is what I like. I told Brian I know where we’re going to move if we ever have to rely on my income over his. I’d love to work for a vet down there!

That is all hay behind Brian. The picture doesn’t do it justice – it was like a wall of hay in all directions.

I think Brian could have stayed all week and I was really enjoying visiting and, I admit, holding the baby. As the weekend progressed Brian and I found more and more things we had in common with our friends there so it was great to talk with them. However, the whole goal of taking a vacation was to spend time together just the two of us with no farming to get in the way. We headed out late Monday afternoon…

More to come soon!

Vacation: Rough Start

We worked and worked and stayed up late on Thursday so we could get out of here Friday morning. We planned to leave by “10 or 11” and pulled out of the driveway at 11:05. Typical! We left separately, me with the horse trailer and a ewe we were going to drop off at the breeder’s and Brian with the pickup we were dropping off to be worked on while we were gone. I went to the bank, he made a few stops, and we met up at his uncle’s (he is our mechanic).
I parked on the road and got out to check the ewe. I opened the side door on the trailer and was surprised that the ewe didn’t startle and jump up. It took me a few seconds to realize why. She must have put her front feet up on the manger (4ft tall) and got her left front foot stuck in a big gap where the manger had rusted out. To make it worse, she tried to get down and ended up in an almost sitting position, essentially hanging from her foot with it way above her head and her toe pointing at the ground, thus make a hard angle at the last joint. I jumped in a straddled her, trying to pick her up so she could free her self. I started yelling for Brian to help and when he got in he was able to pull her foot out.
She would not stand and was shaking, obviously traumatized. I petted her for a few minutes and tried to calm her down. We were only 2 miles away from our next stop so we continued on. At Brian’s stepsister’s house we stopped. I was supposed to trim her pony’s feet. Turns out the pony didn’t want to be caught so we didn’t get it done. We opened up the trailer and got the ewe to stand but she would barely put weight on her injured leg. She was in no condition to go see the ram so we headed back home. We parked the trailer in the shade, left out some bute (pain medicine) for our neighbors to give her, and put food and water in with her. I hated to leave her but we were running way behind and like Brian said, there really wasn’t much I could do at that point. I will say that a newer trailer just moved up on our list.

Our next stop was Wind Racer Farm in Charlotte, Michigan. The farm’s co-owner, Violet Hickey, had contacted me recently to say that she had some Blue Slate and Bourbon Red turkeys ready to go to a new home. The turkeys look great and we really enjoyed visiting the farm and talking with Violet and her family. If you’re looking for local food in her area I would look her up for sure. We still have not decided if the turkeys are right for us. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to branch out in to heritage turkeys with the hope of breeding our own. On the downside we would have to feed and house them all year. I’d love your thoughts on this!

Oh and pictured here is one of Violet’s Buckeye hens with chicks that she hatched herself!

On to Ohio! We rolled in to the Fulton County Fair just in time for the truck and tractor pull. Our friend Rob Foster runs Simply Red so we had fun cheering him on. Of course Brian likes it a little more than me but I finished up one sleeve on my latest baby sweater while I was watching! 🙂

Next stop: a dairy farm! 🙂 Stay tuned for less talk, more pictures, and a lot more fun!!

NO Knitting Allowed :(

Warning: Lots of whining ahead…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who always feel even more stressed than normal just before a vacation. We still have a list a mile long of things that NEED to be done before we go even though we’ve been cracking away at it all week. Okay I say we loosely, mostly Brian has been busting his butt. I did help stack a bunch of hay last night, in my defense. 😉

So I made myself this rule…absolutely no knitting and no Ravelry surfing until the house is as clean as I want it to be before vacation. That means pretty much no knitting tonight! Which would be a whole lot easier if I hadn’t just picked up my special order yarn for a an upcoming wedding present to be knitted. Oh, and finding a deal today on the yarn I need to make 3 more Christmas presents didn’t help either.

(Can’t you hear the yarn, “Knit me!! Knnnnnittt me!”)
(And yes, that is blogger in the background. I can be lame if I want :P)

I’m not only a little overwhelmed with the to-dos and don’ts but also feeling physically queasy. I’ve had fast food for 3 of my last 4 meals (!) and I just spent $30 at the grocery store buying all the “convenience foods” that I never buy so that we won’t have to eat out for lunch on our trip. Easy Mac, granola bars (I wasn’t going to kid myself and say I’d make them between now and Friday morning), Little Debbie snacks (they were 4 for $5 after all), chips, MICROWAVE popcorn (I can feel my arteries clogging), Nutri-grain bars (those are healthy right!?), oh, and applesauce. In cups with foil lids. Are you feeling like this is the blog post from hell yet?

Oh, crap, hubby is home. I’d better quit whining and feeling sorry for myself and get something done so I can spend 5 minutes with him before we both crash! TTFN, and don’t worry, I’ll have much more positive things to say in a couple more days! 😀