Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is it spring again?

There seems to be a re spring happening at my house.

We just got an order of Welsh Harlequin ducks eggs for hatching. These are an endangered livestock ducks that I am very proud to be hatching and , look forward to meat and eggs from them. I am wanting to start with two hens and a drake. Really hoping that they are quiet and will not disturb the neighbors.

I also received 10 Rhode Island Red chicken eggs. The last of our chickens have been eaten and I wanted to start fresh with a new flock so that everyone was the same age and would get along in the pen. We really only have room for 4 hens but that will give us more than enough eggs to feed my family. I am of course disappointed that I cannot raise a roster to keep the eggs fertile but will have to be happy with the quail and ducks for continuous source of meat.

Speaking of quail I put 10 quail eggs into the incubator as well. These will be for eating since i get more than enough quail eggs from them.

Just yesterday my daughter and I drove well past Stockton to pick up our new Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They are just adorable. Both over 4 years old but smaller than my lab puppy. I love driving with my daughter. We have the most interesting conversations and thinking about the changes that I have seen in her over the years just makes me smile. At one point she said "Mom, life is good" Yes baby life is good. There is nothing better than picking up two more animals fro our little farm. The Doe is in milk and I have started to milk her but have not gotten much out of her today. I will keep trying and hope that she will produce more as she gets use to the daily routine.

We also have quite a collection of baby rabbits. our Lilac (another heritage breed) gave birth to 4 healthy babies. We also have 16 American whites that are about 4 weeks old now. They are doing very well. I hope to sell them at the next rabbit show in September.

Finally some personally exciting news. We have been going through the process for adoption of our own children. We have finally finished the home study and will be meeting 3 little girls on Monday for potential placement. I am very excited and scared and a little overwhelmed. please keep us in your thoughts as we add more children to our ever changing house hold.

From the Blue Rivers


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fall garden planning

It is August and for me in the bay area that means another planting of crops. I love living in zone 9 for gardening. We have a lot of planting that can happen in August and September. My first frost is not until December and my last frost is in January giving me lots of time to plant. I did miss my spring window this year. We had purchased new cages for all of the rabbits and I had spent to much time and money on the animals and not enough on a garden. But I get a second chance now.
We caught another raccoon. That makes 6 for the summer. The animal control cop was a little upset with us because the raccoons are going to be put down and she said that they will just keep coming. I understand that this is prime raccoon habitat but the trap is set right next to my quail cage. If they are in the trap it is because they were planning on eating my quail. I am not putting the trap in the waterway or even on the fence line of my home. The trap sit almost in the middle of my yard. I feel terrible too but I feel worse when I have a baby bunny with half it's leg missing because the raccoon pulled it through the cage and bit it off. I just think that people who do not raise animals and gardens do not understand how hard it is. Not only do you fight your own financial and time constraints to do everything but you must build a relationship with one of the most moody women I have ever met. Mother Nature.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I think that we have finally got control of our raccoon problem. It has been a war this year and now that we have the trap we are winning. It has taken some time though. They have won most of the battles killing chickens, rabbits and quail.

The trap is a humane live trap, I don't want to cause any animal pain, even though they have tortured most of my animals. Once they are caught we call animal control to come and take it. They tell me that they euthanize the animals but I am very suspicious of that. For some reason the same number of raccoons keep showing up. A mom and 2 babies and a male. We have caught 5 raccoons and they do all look alike. I am sure that the markings are different for each animal but I am not interested in getting that close. They are very angry little beasts.

One night we heard an incredible amount of noise. Rushing out to the back yard in our night clothes we found the mother in the trap and three babies in the tree. The babies were calling to their momma and it was very heart breaking moment. My husband was able to climb into the tree and catch one of the babies with a gloved hand. Of course I stood at a distance giving directions. "Just treat it like a cat and scruff it honey!" My poor husband will do any thing for me.

We know that there is at least one more raccoon that we have seen but not caught yet. The difficult part is that once those raccoons are caught more will move into the empty space. We hope that we have secured our cages well enough that the new ones will not learn that our yard is an all you can eat buffet.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rooster for Dinner

This is the chicken that crowed at 5:30 Tuesday morning. It took me a few days to finally butcher him but I did it yesterday. He was very good eating but I made a major mistake in the scalding process for plucking.
When I scalded the ducks I left them in the water for just a few minutes. The oil from the duck feathers prevents the water from getting to the skin quickly so leaving them in the pot of boiling water for over a minute was just fine. The feathers plucked easily. Unfortunately I used the same amount of time for this rooster and over did it. He was practically cooked when i started removing the feathers. this cause the skin to remove as well. The wing tips where completely cooked through. So I ended up skinning him anyway.
He was very tasty and gave enough meat for my family of 3 and a friend to have a nice dinner together. I don't know what type of chicken he was. A friend had purchased him for Easter pics when he was just a chick and the purchase was based on cuteness for the pictures and not breed or grow rate. The next batch of chicken I get will be a breed that has a high grow rate.
We still have two more chickens that I will be butchering soon. I hope to do before and after pics if I can get the scalding process right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New babies

We had two beautiful tri colored guinea pigs born this morning. They do not have a tortoise shell markings but that is o.k.. we have not started to breed for show qualities and I ma not sure that I want to put that much time into the cavies.

What really surprises me about them is that they are born fully furred, eyes and ear open and looking just like miniature adults. I am use to rabbits, kittens and puppies who are born with little to no fur, eyes closed and not able to care for themselves for at least 5 weeks. The picture is of hours old cavies. They were born sometime in the night and are now walking around enjoying the day.

Of the 3 chickens we have one of them started crowing a few mornings ago and I have not had the time or energy to butcher him yet. I do need to do it soon. I have realized that neighbors are willing to ignore a rooster Monday thru Friday. But Saturday and Sunday mornings need to be rooster free. The good news is I perfected the scalding method for plucking when I butchered the last two Muscovy/mallard mixes I had. The feathers came off easy and I was able to cook it perfectly. I don't have a mechanical chicken plucker yet so must do it all by hand.

I read an article about a butcher that is able to clean a cow from hoof to freezer in 25 minutes. 25 MINUTES!!! That is amazing fast. Each chicken takes me about 25 minutes at this point. Though I can do a rabbit in 5 minutes.
Speaking of cows! We are getting ready for fair and hope to purchase a cow, pig and sheep at the Almeda county Auction. If you are interested in food that was cared for locally by youth, and meeting your grower consider getting your meat for the year from a 4Her or FFA kid. The meat is top quality, the purchase is partly tax deductible and you are keeping your carbon foot print. If you are interested in splitting an animal you can do that as well.