Friday, January 19, 2018

Was sent the wrong birds. A choice to make.

So I've suspected for a couple of months now that the hatchery sent me the wrong kind of geese last spring. I had ordered a breed called Super Africans. Mine just didn't look like they were developing properly so this week I sent off some pictures to the hatchery. I was hoping that I still had the right birds but maybe they just weren't fully mature.

They got back to me yesterday confirming that they sent me the wrong geese. Shit.

Pinterest photo of Super Africans.

My geese. A production standard goose.

See the difference in the posture? And the dewlap (the loose skin under the chin)? Mine also are significantly smaller than they should be.  It's my understanding that in this country most geese sold as "Africans" are actually a mixed goose that have Chinese goose genes somewhere in their background.  It results in a lighter weight goose that lays more eggs.  It may not seem like a big deal but it means that I've spent the last year raising birds that don't meet the breed standard. At all.

They've offered to send me replacement geese or refund my money. The birds I paid for cost significantly more than the ones I recieved plus they're just not what I ordered. 

I have no idea what to do here. I like my geese. I don't have room for six geese. I don't want to butcher these three. I could try to sell the group.  They are friendly and sweet.  

Geese have a long lifespan. Truth be told, if I'm going to be looking at these birds for a long time I really would like the Super Africans. I keep going back and forth.  Going to give myself the weekend to think on it.

What to do? 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Snow geese

We are all SO over winter and it's only the middle of January.  Long, long sigh.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A lovely day

What's going on with the weather, honestly. Last week it was single digits and today it is 59 degrees... the kind of weather for planting peas and potatoes and lettuce. Oh well. We'll take what we can get, gladly.

Out for a walk. The snow has mostly melted off leaving the yard a soggy mess.

Bee and the little man are on the major deer trail that goes along the orchard.

Look what we found. I wonder if it's from the big buck that hangs around or if we have a new visitor.

This is the ugliest time of year for our property.  The grass is brown and muddy, nothing is growing and the snow has melted to reveal all of the crap I have littering our yard. Add the feral chickens running around and you can practically hear the banjos twanging.

I'm honestly feeling badly for our neighbors lately. Between the roosters, geese and the female ducks the only way this property could be louder is if we had a kennel full of dogs. Seriously, it's embrassing. Mostly they only go crazy when we're out in the yard.  Although late last night I could hear the geese (me inside the house with all the windows shut) going nuts about something, a skunk I think. I knew they would be loud but I didn't know they would be *that* loud.  Whoops.

After the little guy gets up from his nap we're going to head back outside. It's supposed to be back down to 15 by Saturday. Crazy weather.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The great freeze

It's been in the single digits all week here. Currently it is 3 degrees outside = damn cold. Everyone is pretty much hunkered down.

The whole world looks like this.

The quail have been burrowing in straw and I wrapped the pen in feedsacks to cut down on drafts.

Nigel looking amazing as always.  I am shocked that no one has frostbite.

I think my geese are mating? The ladies tails are starting to look ragged. Does that mean anything?

Elf village needs put away. There are 20 paperboard houses and about the same number of elves now.

The cats are charging their batteries.

Too cold to go outside so we brought the snow in.

Turning the rest of the holiday cheese into loaves of cheesy bread.

Trying to stay warm and happy while we wait the winter out. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

How was 2017? Goals for 2018

It was a great year.  No one got sick or died.

Seriously, I look through all of my pictures from the last twelve months and can't help but think how blessed we've been.  There have been so many good times with friends and family this year. It's been an amazing time.

I was looking back through my list of goals for 2017.  Mostly, they did not happen.  To the point where it's actually comical.  In the spirit of moving ahead, let's see what did and did not happen and where I would like to go in 2018.  There are going to be some drastic changes happening around here and my primary goal is just to cut myself some damn slack and go along for the ride.

Personal goals. This was the big section where I was supposed to take time for myself:

  • Fishing & canoeing: I did go fishing a couple of times, including including that time when the trout won on opening day of the season.  No canoeing but I think we'll be able to do more of both of these next fall.

  • Biking: YES! We did get one of those little pull behind carts.  It was tons of fun.

2017: The year I cooked a damn groundhog.  It was made into tacos and I was a recipe tester for Hank Shaw's new book Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail. Dream come true.
  • Keep trying new things in the kitchen & keep baking: I think I did great with this, groundhog tastes somewhere between lamb and beef.  Carry on for 2018.
  • Read a book each month: HA.  HAHAHAHAHAA..... nope. Not even close.
  • Possibly 2017 might be the year I take the time to get a haircut: YEP
  • Possibly 2017 might be the year I shoot a deer while hunting: NOPE.  We saw a group of deer but they were too far off.  The deer won in 2017.  They will not in 2018, however. Mark my words.  Deer: I will be looking for you.

Homesteading goals.  This homesteading thing is my hobby and I have a toddler helper.  How did the little guy and I do?
  • Freezer meats: The goal was 25 chickens for 2017. Here's where I tallied up this year's body count. Total birds produced: 28 chickens, 46 quail, 1 goose, 1 duck.  Pretty happy about those numbers. I don't know what I'm going to get done in 2018 but we'll see.  
  • Eggs:  We had tons to eat and share.  I hatched a big batch of peeps and sold them for feed money too.  Pickled quail eggs are amazing.
  • Quail:  Got back into this in a big way with Coturnix quail.  Hatched a ton of eggs, butchered a lot of birds, sold a handful too.  Love quail.  I kept a small covey for breeding and want to start this project back up as soon as they are laying in the spring.
  • Mushroom logs really need re-seeded: NOPE.  I am shelving this project for the foreseeable future.
  • Growing herbs indoors: learned that I really hate houseplants.  This is getting shelved too.

  • The garden: hit it out of the ballpark.  We had piles of fresh produce and lots of beautiful flowers.  I put in a bed of alpine strawberries which are just heaven and produce fruit all summer.  

  • Discovered the joys of fava beans and broccoli raab.

    The garden teepee was just fantastic.  There are plans for a much larger one in 2018.

    Other goals.  
    • Thinning out our stuff:  I did really well with this; a yard sale, trips to the thrift store and really worked Ebay in November and December.  Would like to work harder at this in the new year.  It brought in a little extra money and thinned down the stuff we didn't need: both wins!
    • Kicking ass at the local fair this year.  Oh yes. Entered a baking contest for the first time.  You can see what I entered and won here.
    Dreams.  Things that I didn't expect to happen but would really be thrilled about if they did.
    • I really wanted geese on our property. It happened! I bought a trio of Super Africans for myself an an Embden for the freezer!

    Here are my Africans along with my Pekin drake.  I love these birds so much.  Livestock love not house goose love.  Not that much.

    • It would be really nice to find a foraging class or survival skills class to take instead of just reading about these things.  A (very) long-term goal of mine is to do a months-long pilgrimage hike like the Appalachian Trail when the little man is older. I want to start laying a path to prepare myself.  This is still a goal although the closest I got was finding a couple places near me and subscribing to their newsletters, and picking up another Appalachian Trail book.
    • I wanted to be in a place to think of selling at the farmer's market in 2018.  Not even close.  My goal again for this year is to concentrate my efforts on feeding my family well.  Which is a good goal to have.
    • It would be nice to have a copy of my blog bound as a book. Something to look into this year.

    Comments? Suggestions? Here we go; cheers to a new year

    Friday, December 29, 2017

    The great clean up

    This is the first day we've had in about a week with no Holiday plans.  It's been wonderful spending so much time with friends and family but the house is an absolute wreck. Every possible surface is covered in toys, pine needles, bits of wrapping paper or food crumbs.  It's making my skin crawl, honestly.  Time to get the broom out and sweep everything out the front door.

    The little man was blessed with piles of new toys with each toy containing approximately 3,561 pieces.  Train sets, Legos, puzzles.  Mostly it is all laying on the living room floor.  Santa brought him a tot sized ride-on digger with a scoop arm and he's been moving the little piles around, which is cute and occupies him for hours.  But we need to figure out how to organize it all.

    The refrigerator needs cleaned out.  Need to find something to do with the 5 lbs of cheese leftover from the holidays along with a huge bowl of citrus fruit.  A lot of the leftovers got fed to the chickens this morning including some breakfast casseroles from Christmas day. 

    I want to remember that I made this baked French Toast casserole.  Served with maple syrup everyone loved it.  Basically a glorified bread pudding with a cinnamon crumb topping. I'm not sure it's necessary to use sourdough bread like the recipe recommends. Any store bought loaf with a good texture would probably do. The chickens only got crumbs of this one.  

    Time to freshen up the house and ourselves and get ready for a new year.

    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    The foods we pass along

    Today I've been thinking about memories.  How we choose the ones we want to keep and why we discard most events without a second thought. How the passage of time tends to change our recollection of events into what we wish they were as opposed to historical record. 

    I've been thinking about how food fits into to this.  How we remember people we've lost by preparing certain dishes.  How we might avoid making things that were their favorites.  I just finished glazing the rum cake my mother would make each Christmas but to make anything with lemon curd, her favorite, would break my heart. 

    My grandma lives in a very nice nursing home and we went to visit today. I brought her a little container of the chocolate peanut butter krispies she used to make every holiday.  My grandma has dementia. She was confused about where she was living and the room she was in but was pleasant and seemed to enjoy the visit. She didn't know who I was, or my son or husband. 

    The krispies are sitting on her side table in a transparent container so she can see the contents.  I hope the lid will be easy to open for someone with terrible arthritis.  I fully accept that she immediately forgot they were there and so probably won't eat any of them.

    They're made of just three ingredients: a bag of chocolate chips, 1/2 C peanut butter and about half a box of rice krispies.  They're simple and delicious and these treats somehow became symbols to me of the love that I felt in that house. 

    So I make them and the rum cake every year. It would seem like a way to remember my loved ones when the truth is there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of them.

    Friday, December 15, 2017

    Crap-tastic goose shelter

    We had a lot of snow this week and I was feeling bad that the geese didn't have a designated shelter. There's tons of brush for them to snug up in and the old A-frame coop but I worried that they were cold. Yep, sitting out there with lots of fat and tiny down jackets I would lie awake at night and worry about the geese. Everything I've read said they won't use a shelter and the woman I bought straw off of this week said hers won't even go in the barn but I still worried. Possessing no carpentry skills I took some old feed sacks and the staple gun outside this week and completed a magnificent display of craftsmanship henceforth known as the crap-tastic goose shelter. 

    It's just feedsacks closing in part of the underside of the coop.


    They investigated mid-project.

    Added another panel to the back after shooing everyone out.

    The verdict? After the initial excitement wore off... Yeah... I haven't seen anyone but chickens in there. Oh well. At least they have it if they want it.

    I do love these birds. I think I have two geese and a gander. The geese are still sweet to me and the gander ignores me. So far.  Secretly hoping for some goslings come spring!

    Tuesday, December 12, 2017

    Snow day

    We had our first real snow last night and are expecting more tomorrow. It was a beautiful day and not as cold as it looked. 
    I joke these are my "sexy clothes". Not pictured: blaze orange hunting stocking cap. 

    The little feral group that live in a pine tree. I could not convince these idiots to get out of the weather.

    Clearing a path for Santa.

    Mama and little man family portrait.  I'm lucky he's a little outdoorsman.

    Snow angels.

    Geese and ducks on the move. They love the snow too and leaving the gate open in this weather is awesome because the waterfowl range but the chickens aren't out kicking mulch everywhere. They hate snow. I brushed off the ramp this morning while they all looked out the door suspiciously.  "Nigel! Tell your ladies to get their asses out here and have breakfast. It's just snow!" I may have said to the rooster. No go.

    It was a good day and I'm grateful we were able to enjoy it.