Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fun Day at the Ranch

Today did not go the way I had expected, but it truly was a great day.  I slept in pushing chores back later than I would have liked.  My true mission for the day was then held up by a dead car battery.  While a battery charger tried to resuscitate the ailing battery, I ended up being able to catch up on a bit of goaty paperwork and got some long overdo  phone calls returned.  Once the car was running I proceeded with my errands.  My goat shed and chicken coop were nasty messes, and I was in desperate need of pine shavings and straw.  

On the way to our local Big R I discovered a treasure trove of pallets on the side of the road labeled with a "FREE" sign.  Needless to say, I pulled over, and started loading my treasure into the back of our Pathfinder. I scored 8 beautiful pallets.  These aren't any regular pallet, they have wooden planks nailed all the way across both sides with minimal gaps.  Perfect for building additional shelters for goats and the spring pig.  

Errands were wrought with frustration.   My battery died again at tbe last stop requiring a jump from the very kind Big R employee loading my straw and shavings.  This put my "to do" list further behind.  Once home, I did manage to clean out the chicken coop.  The goat shed will be mucked out tomorrow.   Now I'm relaxing in front of the fire.  Chores temporally done.  Time to quiet down and enjoy time with my family. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

An Apology Letter to my Neighbors

Sunny guarding the herd.

Dear Neighbors,

I'm sure you have heard nightly barking coming from my yard.  Though it is not too annoying while snuggled into our warm winter homes, come summer it may rouse you from your slumber.  I am terribly sorry for the annoyance of these beautiful creatures, but they are just doing their jobs.  Please allow me to explain why my two livestock guard dogs (LGD) are necessary before you jump to conclusions.

In 2013 I began to raise Nigerian Dwarf goats.  Their compact size and delicious milk make them excellent dairy choices for the urban homesteading movement.  In 2014 I decided to take my little enterprise a bit further by breeding and offering stud services.  My little herd of three increased to seven with new goat additions.  

As you are all aware we live in the Colorado Rockies and back up to a national forest.  Our summers are plagued by black bears; while mountain lions, coyotes, and fox can be spotted year round.  All of these creatures can become nuisances very quickly, hence the dogs.  I own two LGD now; Pearl, a beautiful purebred Great Pyrenees and, Sunny, a spunky Great Bernese.  Each dog lives with the goats; one with the does and one with the bucks.  Pyrs, in particular, are bred to guard livestock.  They believe that the entire State of Colorado is theirs to protect.  Pyrs are also very independent dogs.  Please let me apologize here for Pearl's occasional wanderings, I'm so terribly sorry, she is friendly.

The dogs are here to guard my goats, chickens, and ducks from predators. Their presence will push local predators out while keeping all of our animals safe, my livestock and your dogs.  They bark to alert local predators of their presence.  The predators move elsewhere knowing they have competition.  I am trying to grow a small Nigerian Dwarf breeding operation, the dogs will be necessary if helping me do so. Please try to be tolerant of my dogs, they are only trying to protect us all.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Home Alone

When I actually get to spend a day at home, ALONE, I feel like Kevin McAllister in the classic Christmas movie.  "I made my family disappear!"  A whole day unfolds with peace, quiet, and endless possibilities.  It takes me a while to focus on the day's tasks, uninterrupted, what really should be done.

Yesterday, was such a day.  It's difficult to prioritize when so much around the house and farm need doing.  Luckily, the frozen ground prevented me from doing much outside, so in I stayed.  A roaring fire and scented candles made the house nice and cozy as I got to work.  I needed to look at the budget, and start working on next one.

Next it was on to my disaster area of a kitchen.  My fridge was overflowing with goat's milk.  My Nigerian Dwarfs don't produce nearly as much as their larger dairy counterparts, but it is enough to fill up a fridge in short order.  I had a half gallon to transfer into a larger glass bottle, a half gallon for cheese making, a quart for making yogurt, and still more for drinking.

Cheese making has been going well, so there's a new batch in the fridge.  I let it drain for quite awhile, so I'm not sure if it will crumbly or spreadable.  I guess the true test will be at breakfast.

The highlight of my kitchen time was successfully making yogurt.  My last attempt in the crock pot failed miserably.  Luckily, my chickens didn't mind when they were fed my failure.  Yesterday, I went simple.  I heated a quart of milk to 180 degrees, took it off the burner to cool down to 110, added a small container of plain yogurt to the cooled milk, poured it into jars and put it in a 100 degree oven for 4 hours.  Viola!  Yogurt!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Life of a Farmer

The Life of a Farmer
My back is broken
My body is bruised
Dirt under my fingernails
Muscles well used.

Skin kissed by the sun
Fresh air in my lungs
Despite the hard work
Farming makes me feel young.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Feeling Blessed!

Saying good bye to little Candor at her new home.

I awoke this morning with a true sense of joy and peace.  The first two days of the New Year have been magical.  2014 was a difficult year; lots of changes, lots of upheavals.  Luckily, 2014 ended quietly filled with lots of love.  In the first two days of January I have sold my crop of Nigerian Dwarf babies and got to spend some time with a dear friend.  2015 is filled with prospect, I'm slowly getting my act together in areas that I had let flounder last year.  I'm thankful to be able to live on a beautiful mountainside surrounded by my beautiful family, lots of critters, and good friends.  Here's to a fresh start!

Happy New Year
Big Buck Ranch!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Surviving the Cold with Thoughts of SpringSeed

Seed catalogs start to pile up on the Christmas table cloth.

As the Holidays come to a close and the bitter cold of winter sets in, my mind drifts to spring.  The glorious seed catalogs have started to make their way into my house.   Each page teasing me with beautiful photos of unique and delicious vegetables.  Unfortunately, I live on the side of a mountain with rock inches below the soil and a short growing season.  

I am enjoying the Territorial Seed Company catalog.  They have some great plants that grow quickly at cooler temperatures. Time to start dreaming, I mean planning!