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Thursday, December 18, 2014

December Snow

On my way to do morning chores...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Double Yolker!

Giant egg.  Our bets were that it would be our first double yolker

Sure enough, it was!
I love the adventure of hunting for eggs each day, brown, white, olive, and blue.  Our two of our pullets from our fall batch have started laying white eggs.  Hurrah!

And, if you follow the news about Toeless, she never was incorporated into another coop.  She puts herself up in a dog igloo every night, and we slide a glass window across it for safety.  James calls her Princess and feeds her by hand.  I think we just acquired a pet.  (I'll take it.  She's almost zero maintenance, and she's less annoying to me than a cat or dog.)

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday after Thanksgiving

Yesterday, we spent a splendid day with neighbors and enjoyed our own turkey (fried), mashed Purgatory Ranch potatoes, homemade biscuits and home canned peaches (along with fabulous contributions from our neighbors).  Later in the day, my sister's family joined us.  While we love being with family, I cannot remember a calmer Thanksgiving.  It was beautiful to stay at home the entire day, let the kids run around everywhere, and not need to unpack.  We are grateful beyond measure for God's goodness to us in the past year.


Today, in the vein of being countercultural, James and a friend chopped instead of shopped.  Our Turkens, the original chicken flock at Yahweh Jireh acres, never proved to be a viable layer flock.  They laid well for a few weeks this summer, then quickly fell off.  For the last four to five weeks, we haven't gotten a single egg.  They are expensive to feed through the winter for so little yield, so the eleven hens were butchered today and are already nearly frozen in the freezer.  One rooster is left, and we are hoping to incorporate him into our freedom ranger flock, so maybe Darkest Winter and Soup will not try to kill Toeless when she joins their coop.

I definitely enjoyed spending the day with friends we rarely see, and am grateful to have one more task complete for James before hard winter hits.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Evening Chores



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Garlic!

Whew!  We made it, with more garlic than we've ever attempted before.

After the kids and I pulled mountains of weeds (mountains... I can only do so much when I'm nauseous!), James graciously tilled for us.  Since the soil in this section, although full of fabulous earth worms, is over some hardpan or rocks, it would have been difficult for us to plant in such a timely fashion if he had not tilled.
Russian Red
 We chose five pounds each of Russian Red and German Extra-Hardy.  Actually, I wanted Music garlic, but it was sold out and German Extra-Hardy was the substitute.  Maybe it will work well for us!
Laying out cloves for the girls to plant
 The boys and I spent the better part of several hours separating cloves, so the kitchen was rather garlicky smelling, but it was better to do that inside than out.

My garlic planting helpers
And the garlic made it in the ground!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Day

Eggs.  We love eggs.  Averaging almost a dozen a day, I think I need to freeze some for the winter.
 Poor, outcast Toeless.  She's alone in the old turkey coop until her battered head heals.  She wants companionship, but I don't want her to die.
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chickens

Ah, chickens.  I spend a lot of time thinking chicken, in case you didn't know, as I am the main tender of the coops.  James builds and moves, I water, feed, check for eggs, clean, pester James to add straw, and watch for sick chickens.  Somehow, however, James usually picks up on sick chickens first.

Take Toeless, our current hospital chicken.  She is an Easter Eggers pullet from the "Green Whale" coop. Recently, James and I both saw her laying awkwardly on the ground.  The next day, her head was pecked into a bloody mess.  We rescued her, isolated her inside a crate in the main coop, and fed and watered her well.  Our hope (my hope, really) was to rerelease with the others. It's worked before.

Not this time.  After four or five days of isolation, she was healing nicely and in good spirits.  We had noticed one of our Plymouth Rock chickens was muttering threats at Toeless through the door, but hoped for the best.  Alas, despite our caution, Toeless was a bloody mess within hours.  My mom helped me rescue her, and now we have to decide where she can live.

As an aside, she's called Toeless because, as a chick, her middle toe was partially severed.  We separated her for several days, and she reincorporated into this same coop in May with no problems.

Our current choices are to let her become a free ranger with the other two, but they have attitude problems and are bigger, so I fear for her life.  Also, I don't want a big free ranging flock, as they get picked off by predators and poop on our front sidewalk.  We may add her to our juveniles, who are less than eight weeks old, so she would be the dominant hen.  We'll let her heal thoroughly before we make any decisions, I think.

I'm also canning and preparing for baby, but these are my chicken thoughts these days!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Turkey butchering, in two spells, means six turkeys in the freezer, most of them almost 20 pounds.
 Chickens love watermelon rinds, and they're a nice treat on a hot day.

 We ventured out to the state fair, where we were sure to check out the birds.


The poor chickens and guineas were so stressed out, I'm not sure I would ever want our birds to be displayed.  We also lucked out and caught a sheep shearing demonstration.  Much fun. 
Every year, James and the kids ride the ferris wheel.  I don't.  JoJo was angry that I didn't this year, but this mama can't handle the coming down. 
In the mighty winds Monday, we lost a large branch of this silver maple.  It didn't damage the deck, praise God, but it's one more mess for James to clean up, and he's busy!


Finally, someone had to get stitches in his eyebrow.  What happened?  That's an excellent question.  To the best of my knowledge, he tripped and nailed his face with duplo. 

James is currently renovating the white whale (chicken coop) for our junior flock, as they don't have an enclosed shelter currently, and last night the low was 43.  Chilly!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, September 5, 2014

As the Sun Sets


JoJo loves books.

Tomorrow, these turkeys will be in the freezer.

First day of preschool.  Craziness.
And this kid is HILARIOUS.  He wore this shirt because he wanted to make his classmates laugh.

Found outside today.
The wind is mighty.

Beauty is...



Friday, August 15, 2014

What we've been up to...

It's the time of year for canning.  This year, James took the kids peach picking while I stayed home with a feverish JoJo.  He bought 128 pounds of peaches.  Ouch.  So I've canned peach jam, peaches, honey spiced peaches, peach salsa, and peach BBQ sauce.  Jars and jars, boxes and boxes, days and days of peaches.  I still have two boxes of peach jars to haul to the basement, but I'm quite happy with our fruit preservation this year.  I have bruschetta and tomato sauce waiting to be wiped off, labeled, and also carried to the basement.


James found this wine, perfect for our bruschetta-in-a-jar

Apples from the neighbors are ripening slowly.  I'm okay with the "slowly" part, as I am tired.  The garden is slowing also.  While I wish I had canned more tomatoes, I am content to study my full shelves and ignore the problem of empty ones for this year.

Our chicks have been moved onto grass for the first time today.  They are busy exploring and learning how to drink out of a nipple waterer.

We received our beef share from our 40 acres.  Boy, howdy, do I feel rich when I open the freezer.  We are backed with beef and chicken, all local and raised as we desire.  The freezer is additionally stuffed with blueberries we picked from a local farm.

Turkeys will be ready to butcher in the coming month.  I will admit, given how messy they are compared to chickens, and how much water they drink, I'm ready to have them gone.  I need my chores shortened so I can start preparing for the baby.

We attended our last farmer's market last weekend.  It was a lousy showing, due to weather and declining interest as school approaches, but it gave my Assistant a chance to complete a little Christmas shopping with me.  The year, overall, was successful in my view.  Next year, we need to grow more sweet red onions and zucchini.  No more peppers for sale, though, as they did not sell well.

Then there are our fabulous kids, of whom JoJo is currently the most precocious.  But that, my friends, is a story for another time.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Developments...

Newest acquisitions to Yahweh Jireh acres... wether goats and five sheep


 He could have had a career in rodeo!
And in quieter times, I love to admire the giant bees
 and tiny frogs
that make our garden what it is.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

the Root Harvest has begun

Due to circumstances beyond our control and a boring long story, we are expecting a harvest much smaller than we originally anticipated, but the beginnings sure look (and smell) fabulous!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Butchering Day

This is not a how-to on butchering, friends, but I have a few bloodless pictures to include.

cooling carcasses
Yesterday was a long day of processing 53 chickens (including a mean year-old rooster).  I didn't help with the actual butchering as I probably would have vomited all over the chickens in my pregnant state, but I was support staff.  I brought ice, cleavers, bird scissors, more ice, etc., to James and the friends assisting us.  I supervised kids and prepared lunch.
the mean old rooster
We discovered, after the fact, that only James removed the crop from his chickens, so I will be doing crop removal surgery before cooking any of our chickens.  Sigh.

We will probably only raise chickens in smaller batches, as 50+ was simply too many at once.  We also figured we have about an 11% mortality rate as we raised them! which is less than half what we were expecting from reading about raising Cornish X.  Our average weight was 5.4 lbs, which was a little lower than I was hoping, but pretty good according to everyone I told.  What do I really know, anyway?

Chicken pluckers are awesome.  We need at least two pots of hot water going, one for plucking and one for shrink wrapping the chickens.  Our friend Myle is an eviscerating machine.

I did help with cleanup after everyone else had gone home, and I think James and I did a pretty fine job gathering trash, disinfecting tables and so on, and returning the area under the trees into a less bloody, less muddy place.
the kids declined any interest in butchering
The coyotes were active last night, no doubt picking up the scent of blood wafting from a specific corner of our property.

Turkeys... spared until the fall
I'm still wiped out from being on my feet so much yesterday, so this slightly disjointed post is all you're getting for now.  Enjoy!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.