Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Brief Introduction to the Barnyard Flock

The new fluffs, warm box of which arrived last Friday morning.

And here they are in video form.

They are not much like the chicks. There are 2 geese -- huge fluffy, awkward guys, who mind their own business and try not to get in the way. Unless you are in the water pan. Then they will sit on your head. 5 ducks -- 4 yellow, one browny-yellow (there were also two black ones in the box, one DOA and one D shortly thereafter), who confound me by somehow using ALL the water in their waterer to bathe themselves, so that there is no drinking water for everyone else after about 2 hours. I think I fixed this problem, both with a larger, hanging waterer, and with supervised swim-time in a bucket in the barn when I'm feeding the pigs. I also give them the little layer cake pan to splash about in, sometimes, if it's very warm. And 7 turkey poults of various colors and kinds, who want nothing more than to investigate everything, get scooped up by whatever hand is the closest, and try to emulate the bathing ducks, but with waning interest and less success. These guys are fun. The chicks scrambled into corners in a wild, dusty, flapping panic every time a hand entered to feed them or otherwise, you know, bring them life; these guys basically just want to be friends. Not to pick favorites or anything.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A weekend off

This was a weekend off. This means there were no big projects that we were tackling, no major overhauls or driving trips or barbecues to throw. I figured that I would be able to sit down with cool glass of Pinot and wax long and poetic about how productive, fun and amazing LAST weekend was, from the relaxing, lazy vantage point of THIS weekend.

But then, for some odd reason, I decided I needed to weed the garden. For seven hours. One thing led to another, and I also harvested eight cups of swiss chard, spinach and beet greens to freeze for the winter, ten pounds of turnips, five pounds of beets, enough cucumbers for four quarts of pickles and two heads of cabbage whose ultimate destination is as yet unknown. I ripped out bolted lettuces, which, when added to the weeds, produced 3 giant wheelbarrows full of greens for the pigs. I killed many slugs. I tied up tomatoes, tried to separate squash vines and melon vines, got a bit of a sunburn, found a toad and a snake and lots of spiders. I baked three loaves of bread, and gave the dog a bath.

If I go for the cool glass of Pinot I am fairly certain that I will nod off to sleep with dirty fingernails and write not a thing. So, here are some pictures.

Last weekend's big project involved 6 amazing and helpful guests, and beginning the fence for the first 4 acre pasture. This involved lots of equipment, lots of searching around in the chest-high brush for a tiny iron pin and lots of very well-deserved evening swims in the lake.

We also finished up some major projects, like building a chicken coop.

Out of, you know, whatever was laying around.

They like it, but they haven't quite figured out what the nesting boxes are yet. Or cameras. They don't get those either.

Fruits of this weekend's labor:

We also got some new barnyard additions. I would show you some pictures, but Big Man says they are too gross for human eyes. Plus I am too worn out to walk to the barn right now. I am instead mandating that the rest of the evening rely heavily on bad tv and excellent curry.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Just Makin' Stuff

We have been busy. The Big Man has been almost exclusively dedicating his time and brain matter to the Puzzle of the Tractor's Hydraulic System...a puzzle that I get briefed on daily but, to be embarassingly honest, do not completely understand. There's valves, and leaks, and, you know, other such mysterious confusions. Hopefully there will soon be a triumphant post straight from the source, because it is pretty interesting. Even if you don't understand it entirely, and especially if you watched MacGyver.

I've been spending LOTS of time in the garden, and in post-garden processing. Turns out that once things are actually growing and making you food, you have to figure out what to do with them.We are absolutely buried in greens...which are somehow hanging on and not bolting, despite the 95 degrees of the last few days. I need to figure out something more than "salad" to do with them, because I am getting tired of salad. Sauteed salad?

The cucumbers are just starting, but with quite a wallop; every time I go out to poke at something I find 7 pickling cucumbers I hadn't noticed that need picked.

So I've been eating many cucumbers, some of which I turn into lightly pickled experiments and foist upon unsuspecting visitors.

We've also been moving along on a number of other "now we make this ourselves" fronts. We have a lot of beer floating around, in various stages of done.

We have a wheat beer and a not-hoppy-enough IPA in the fridge and in our tummies:

We have a dunkelweisen hanging out in bottles in a dark picture-proof corner, carbonating itself. It should be ready to test this weekend.

And we have a belgian tripel and a super hoppy brew (and some wine in the white bucket, too):

Tonight we bottled the Belgian, which involves mostly a lot of cleaning. Clean the bottles, clean the hose, siphon the beer into bottles, cap them, clean them, clean the hose, clean the now empty carboy. The Big Man moves the bottles so fast!

Tonight we started a new batch of beer, a pale ale. Making beer is like making tea, and also like making bread.

Steeping grains, steeping hops, boiling for a long time. And then moving it into a carboy, adding some yeast, and waiting for the yeast to do its magical yeast things.

The beer is worth waiting for. So are the tiniest, cutest watermelons.