Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Picking Up Speed

The title of this post is not referring to any new drug use, though I'm sure that would be momentarily helpful.  No, instead I'm seeing our fall whizzing toward us at break-neck speed and I'm scrambling to be ready when in slams into my hot summer pace.

Not that summer has been lazy.  Just still working on summer stuff, that's all.

Sometime in July and August (see, I told you I was behind), I finished picking the last of our grapes.  Got about 10 gallons this year.  I fired up the canner to make jelly, but instead of creating a sauna inside, Husbandman set me up reeeeaaaallll nice.  And you have to read the rest of the post in a true southern drawl to get the full effect.

We recently acqured a large 2-burner gas stove, mainly for this very pupose but also for any pesky hurricanes that take out our power for any length of time.  This burner easily held my water bath canner and my pot of grape jelly.  I also did watermelon rind jelly since everything was fired up and crankin'.  And I had a nice shadey spot to work while still keeping an eye on the rugrats in the pool or swing set.  Everyone was happy... until a wet bottom found its way onto my Countryside magazine while I was up stirring the brew.  Anyway, about half my grape jelly turned out just fine.  The other half and the watermelon stuff didn't set so at some point I'll reopen those jars and try again.  More pectin, more sugar, more cooking and stirring.  One day I'll learn how to get it right the first time around.

I registered farmer girl and "Thumper" for the county fair last week.  Now we get to figure out the proper positioning and handling of a rabbit, not to mention getting her tattooed. (The bunny, not the girl).  A friend suggested waltzing into our local tattoo parlor, "Bad Azz Tattoo" with our fur ball and suggested a nice barb wire tat around the bicep.  Tempting... but we're obligated to letters and numbers in the left ear.  Later today, we're moving Thumper and Dumplin (because farm boy 1 won't be left out) into the porch for easier access for practicing.  And I also get to make matching outfits for the girl and her bunny.  Not really sure how, or why I'm happy about that, or even what possessed me to think of entering her into that contest, but I did.  And ya know, the smile on her face will be worth it, I'm sure.  The girl, not the bunny.  Not sure the bunny will be too thrilled on the notion.

We slaughtered our first ducks on Saturday.  We're having a rough go.  We started with 10 around Easter.  One died we think from internal injuries suffered at the paw of Angel.  Another turned sick-looking a while later and died.  Another just a couple weeks ago started limping and went quite lame.  He was one we slaughtered and by Saturday he was down to nothing.  He must have been starving for a week and a half, unable to walk enough to eat and drink.  Another had a large cyst/tumor thing on its face.  We culled them both and one is due for the oven momentarily.  The other (the skinny one) will be made into soup on a fine autumn day.  And now, yet another is acting lame.   We now have 1 good male, 4 females and a lame male.  Good for breeding stock which is what we wanted, but I'm nervous whatever has happened already will end up happening to our last remaining drake.  Unless its male competition that's doing it.

Nina is unwittingly enjoying her last meal.  I called a friend on a whim to see if he was interested in swapping a sheep for some beef.  He is, but wants it in meat form, minus the hoof.  So, sweet Nina is leaving us.  I haven't broken it to the girl child yet, but I don't think it will be a huge issue.  She's more keen on Daisy now anyway because Daisy is smaller.  She's never taken slaughtering real hard.  My mom was over while we killed the ducks and she expected a traumatic reaction from her granddaughter.  To her surprise, farm girl very bluntly and calmly explained the whole process to her and ended with, "And that's yummy MEAT!"  Yes, she's our sweet little carnivore.

We have re-acquired Doby.  You may remember Helen's baby... who had a baby... and we sold to some friends to get them started in dairying?  Well, they've decided farm-livin' is not exactly the life for them.  At least not with a triple digit heat index that go on for months at a time.  So we have her back and we're happy.  She's so sweet.  The farm girl is learning to milk on her (she's the only one who doesn't protest).  We initially only wanted 3 total dairy goats, but we're going to run with it.  4 isn't too different.  Especially since we decided to only keep Zuma and Valentino for breeding sheep.

We put Dulci in with Copper a week or so ago since its about time for her heats to start.  And sure enough, she got him all riled up. (Don't forget that southern drawl).  She escaped on Saturday while we were gone.  We put her in with the rest of the ladies until we could fix the fence.  Sunday Husbandman could tell she was in heat and Copper was just beside himself.  So we put her back in despite the fact that the fence wasn't shored up.  Sunday night she was out again and we put her in with the ladies.  Monday morning Copper was out... and he had circumcized himself in his escapades.  We put them both together and immediately went to fence fixing... at 7:30am.  At this Husbandman remarked that "we watch more goat sex before breakfast than most people see in a lifetime."  And yes, bloody and injured though it be, Copper took his one and only job very seriously and did it thoroughly job right before our very eyes.  The kids were inside watching a dinosaur documentary just in case you were concerned for their innocense.  He's calmed significantly today, but I have not ventured close enough to get a full accounting of his injury.  The bleeding has stopped and he's acting normal so I'll probably just let him be.  I mean, I do know the injury was, um, flushed.

And since I may not get blogging again for another month, let me comment on the state of our bee hives.  We suspect that both of our hives swarmed and that we checked one hive at just the wrong time and caused the new queen to fly off in fear.  So we put a frame of eggs (we think) and larvae from the other hive into the queenless hive.  And next week is the moment of truth.  Hopefully they're doing their thing.
I've got radishes, squash, and mustard greens ready to go in the ground.  The jelly melon is finally producing... like mad.  Picked our first one today just to determine how to know when its ripe.  We've got a busy week lined up with not a stitch of gardening in it so next week will have to border on insanity. 

Especially since the kiddie pool bit it this weekend.  That marks the official end of summer.

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