Saturday, December 21, 2013

Oyster Mushrooms and Knitting

Eating wild mushrooms can be scary.  I am familiar with and comfortable eating chanterelles and lions mane, and I am vaguely familiar with a few other varieties.

Last week I saw these beauties growing on a log by my woodpile. I thought to myself "Oyster mushrooms" but didn't take the time right away to research them. Finally I sent a picture to my friend. She agreed- oysters. I did a spore print of them. It came out white as it should have. I still didn't eat them.

Yesterday I hit the mother lode. I went for a walk around the property scouting mushrooms and came across this log.

Some of them were past their prime, but some were perfectly fresh and bigger across than my hand! I snapped into action and had my friend send pictures to her mushroom expert. I sent pictures to the folks at the Mushroom Club of Georgia. Both sources agreed they were oysters.

Then it was time to research poisonous look-alikes online. Good news, as long as you aren't in Japan or Australia, there aren't any. Next I searched for cream of mushroom soup recipes! Dinner was delicious and I'm still here to tell you about it.

Another thing I've picked back up since Thanksgiving is knitting. I so loved the scarf-vest thing that Katniss wore in the latest Hunger Games movie, I decided to make myself one. I know, I know, in my other spare time. A friend of mine liked it so much, she placed an order. So now I'm working on another "Katniss Cowl".

She made the mistake of saying "you should knit socks". Now I have a bug in my bonnet to knit some socks. Do any of you have any tips for me? I've ordered some #2 double pointed needles. Said friend brought me a book of sock patterns along with the yarn for her cowl.

I better get going. I need to get Kat's blood to the post office before I milk this morning. Fingers, toes, eyes, and everything else crossed that she is pregnant. Merry Christmas if I don't "see" y'all again before then.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


I visited a friend's farm a month or so back and she made me a cappuccino with her fresh Jersey milk. It was so good I dug the old espresso maker out of the attic and have been making the goat milk version. Yum!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Another Case for Small Dairy

This is one of the reasons I choose not to eat dairy from huge producers. I am not fan of PETA and the like, but there is no excuse for animals to be treated this way.

And look at the filth. Of course you need to pasteurize this stuff not to kill people.

This is a 5,000 cow operation. There is simply no way to manage the health of that many animals and really know what's going on with each one.

Warning, it's disturbing.

Here's the rest of the story.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thank God for Ducks

It's still raining. I feel like hibernating. My chickens are on strike. People keep asking me for eggs and I don't even have enough for my holiday baking. Enough chicken eggs that is. The ducks are rocking along. Only problem is, now that I've raided this nest, they'll find another place to lay and I'll be lucky to find it.

We lost two out of three of Mallard Claire's last brood. The last little guy is getting so big. His voice started changing yesterday. "Cheep, cheep, cheep, QUACK". He finally decided to leave the safety of the coop and explore the big bad world with the other ducks. I just hope he found his way back in the coop last night! We were decorating the Christmas tree until after 10:00, so didn't check to be sure he found his way home. I hope he turns up today.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy December

My it's been a while since I've posted. We went out of town for the holiday and that wasn't not exactly something I wanted to advertise online.

Now I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit and I must say, I'm failing miserably. Perhaps it's that Christmas has been "on" since before Thanksgiving. I'm so sick of the Black Friday "spend your money on Made in China garbage" message bombarding me constantly.  Maybe it's this wet cloudy weather. At least it's warm here. I just don't feel in the spirit. I even went so far as to make a wreath with the boys yesterday and put Christmas music on Pandora. I'm still not feeling it.

On the farm, I have Sally here to be bred to Ike. She went into heat a few days after she arrived, so I put Ike in the pen with her. Poor boy, she tried to kill him! You see she has horns. He does not. Seems she only had eyes for Magnum. She kept kissing on Magnum through the fence and pummeled Ike each time he got close.

I decided to tie her to a post so she couldn't hurt Ike. She nearly pulled the post out of the ground! Finally, I stood- in the dark, in the rain- on the buck side of the fence and held her nose to nose with Magnum while Ike worked up the nerve to approach her again. Magnum and Moses were thrilled to have me in the pen with them and took the opportunity to rub all over my legs.

Finally, the deed got done. A few extra times for good measure. And then a few more because I didn't want to do that again. I got Ike back in with the boys and released Sally. Then I got a shower. I may have to burn those jeans.

Sally flirted with Magnum the entire next day and I feel like I should have repeated the process, but she was wise to me and wouldn't let me tie her up again. I hope ten times was enough!

It should be. Even after spending the entire morning watching Fawn and April with my friend's mini-mancha buck, Eli only got each of them twice. He's so slow! But today is 22 days after they were bred and neither is in heat today.

Here's April doing some barnyard acrobatics. She's such a cutie.

I haven't seen Onyx or Buttercup go back into heat but I'm feeling paranoid about them, so we drew some blood yesterday and sent it off for Biotracking. I'll know next Wednesday for sure. I am absolutely certain the Alpines and Trixie are bred. They're even starting to look pregnant now. Kidding around here will start approximately March 10.

I decided to move Magnum in with the girls since the only goats I have any question on need to be bred to him anyway. I'm fairy certain the only doe not bred is Kat.

I called the vet about Kat before Thanksgiving. She said either take her to Auburn University for an ultrasound and a culture or cull her. I called Auburn after Thanksgiving and got the same advice. You may recall that Kat aborted about 40 days along last fall and didn't settle again last year. She goes into heat right on schedule but nothing comes of it. She's now been bred 3 heat cycles and I still think she's open. She's the only doe that Magnum is showing special interest in now that he's in with all of them. She should cycle around the 10th if she's not bred. I'll have to haul her in to Auburn if she does.

I really don't know what to do if they tell me there is actually something wrong with her. Or for that matter, if they don't find anything but she still doesn't settle. I simply will not keep a goat here who is not producing. I was impressed that even though she didn't freshen this spring, she kept giving me a quart a day all summer, but now she is dry. I guess it's the sale for her or else have the vet put her down. Perhaps I'll be able to sell her as a pet, she's a big love. Do any of you have any advice?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Abraham is Sold

I was cruising craigslist yesterday and came across someone who needed their goat bred. I have a yard full of bucks wanting to do just that, so I answered the call.

The bad news was, the poster of the ad was in Lee County Georgia, not Lee County Alabama as I had incorrectly assumed. The good news is after speaking with me and seeing pictures of Abraham, he decided to buy Abe. He is coming for him this morning!

I still have too many goats here, but that is another issue for another time.

Yesterday afternoon, sunny and 80, was spent potting my citrus trees up on my deck. I have a Meyer Lemon, a Persian Lime, a Ruby Red Grapefruit, and a Mandarin. I know that the lemon and lime are hardy here. The grapefruit and mandarin are a risk, but we really only get 3 or 4 days a year under their cold hardiness temperatures. I'll put twinkle lights on them and throw a sheet over them if we have a cold front. If it's really cold, I can always drag them inside for the night.

While I was walking around the house, I noticed that the pineapple guava had dropped a bunch of fruit. I planted the guava years ago as an interesting ornamental. I never expected to actually get little guavas. Not my favorite fruit, but not bad either.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Week in Review

Goat Breeding:
Scilla and Phoebe are bred. I think Trixie is too. Today is day 23 on her. Last month she cycled on day 20. I'm feeling much better about Magnum's virility. I should know on Onyx tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Onyx's little girls were hot little messes yesterday driving all the bucks crazy. It looks like she's finally weaned them! It's so much easier not to have to haul food and water to yet another pen.

Chickies and Ducklings:
Lucky's chicks and the ducklings are doing well. Growing fast. I have Lucky and her brood in that little cage you can see past the barn gate. I'm going to have to find them some bigger digs. I don't want to let them out because the hawks always have an eye out for little birds. I've lost too many and I think it will be great to have new pullets laying come spring.

Gabby is not so lucky. She nested on a shelf in the barn. See that Pepto bottle in the top right corner of the picture? That's the shelf. Her first egg was zipping yesterday afternoon. This morning I found the chick dead on the ground. She had another chick hatch this morning. I moved the nest to the ground, but I'm going to have to find a safer place for her.

I ordered a small batch of Cornish X. My farm girl BFF is getting 10 and I am raising the remaining 15 with the friends who help me butcher. They're caring for them through the brooding stage then I'll keep them in the tractor until their ready to butcher. We will split the meat.

Check out the guy with the black spots. So weird. I got these from Welp Hatchery. I've never used them before but it was the best price on 25 roosters. $2 each delivered. They all look great!

Porcine Princesses:
The piggies got a redneck, eyesore, FREE, DIY house. Did I say FREE? They love it and I love it and I love my hubby for constructing it. Thank you MyChurch for the tin. I was worried about them out in the elements with this cold weather. A warm pig = a happy pig = a fat pig = pork chops. It's a proven equation along the same mathematical discipline as Pie > Cake. Just take my word for it.

The garden finally froze but before it did, we picked nearly 25 pounds of peppers! I need to get them frozen tomorrow. I'm thinking some goat cheese stuffed chilies for dinner. Yum!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bonfire Success

I finally just did it. I've been thinking about doing a bonfire for a month. I'm such a poor planner, I knew if I didn't just start calling people, it wasn't going to happen, so we had an impromptu bonfire last night and it was great! I have wonderful friends, family, and neighbors. I'd forgotten that as hostess, you don't really get to eat or take pictures, so this pre-party pic is all I've got. Thanks, y'all for coming.

In farm news, I think Phoebe is pregnant. I haven't been out yet this morning (little Fawn is yelling for me now) but yesterday was day 22 and she showed no sign of heat. Last month she cycled after 19 days. That makes 2 Alpine bucks to find homes for. All these goats are costing me way too much in feed.

Phoebe also twisted her knee a couple days ago. I've been worried about her, but she seems to be putting more weight on it today. Now I just need these Lamanchas pregnant- particularly Kat who aborted last fall. After milking a quart a day all through the last year, she's down to about a cup now. I should really just dry her up.

Coffee's done and I better go start caring for these critters if I'm to make it to late church even. It felt so good to sleep last night, I just didn't get up.

ADD moment- my BFF made me a latte when we visited her farm Thursday afternoon. It was the best darn latte I've ever had and I have been craving one since. I'm going to have to break out the espresso machine and ask her what kind of coffee she used. The foamy milk on the top of the jars each morning keeps bringing it to mind. The Crack of Coffee, girl. Thanks a lot.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pass the Coffee- A Morning of Chaos Part 2

Mama duck and her 'lings. The little boogers are so camouflaged you can't even see them in the leaf litter. The darkest of the three seems to be having a little trouble with its leg. I managed to catch them all and put them in a chicken tractor with food and water where they'll be safe from hawks and the gimpy guy can get some rest. 

This rat snake was a casualty of my vrooming up and down the drive. I rudely interrupted his morning sun bath by running him over. At least he will never grow to invade my chicken coop.

Mouse family.

Pass the Coffee- A Morning of Chaos Part 1

I slept through the night. What a great feeling. The older I get, the more I find myself watching TV at 3am. Asher kept me up the night before, barking at some woodland intruder for so long that I finally turned the flood lights on, opened the door, and shut him up.

Still groggy, I shuffle to the kitchen for my morning dose of caffeine. Blurry eyed, I stare out the window to see which of my critters are out and about gleaning acorns and yellow leaves. It isn't critters that catch my gaze.... is water pouring from the spigot by the duck trough! Lordy, please tell me this wasn't gushing all night.

I slam on my boots and rush outside. Dang, these socks fall down in boots. No time to change. Something shiny, look there are duckings this morning. I wasn't expecting that. Obviously, I couldn't even get a decent picture. No time, dollar bills are pouring down the hill.

Asher wants to play. Did he play with the spigot? Bad dog. No wonder he was so quiet, he found something to occupy his overactive LGD brain.

An aside: as I write this, right on schedule, the keyboard in my Dell laptop died again. Every six months without fail, only now it's out of warranty. I'm using an external keyboard, which keeps going out. Batteries? I check them. When did batteries start corroding? They never did this growing up that I can recall. Probably some government regulation, you know, the same kind that won't let us buy incandescent light bulbs. I hate fluorescent light.

Back to the story....

The whole spigot is blown off the pipe. Must shut water off at road. My socks are at my toes now. I run to the RTV. Cole tries to catch a duckling. Mama duck attacks dropping a stinky duck bomb down the front of his sweater. I drive off.

At the road, I pry the top off the meter box. Nothing says on/off. There is a family of mice starting at me with inky rodent eyes, wondering why I allowed a draft into their cozy moss nest. There are a series of bolts and a digital meter. I am going to need tools. Back in the RTV driving recklessly down the gravel drive, things flying off the back- there goes the dog leash. No time to stop, dollar bills are pouring down the hill.

Back at the box and armed with a wrench, I call a friend who is also a plumber. Hubby calls in. He feels bad that he's not there to solve the crisis. No time, dollar bills and all. Plumber-friend says turn stem closest to road 1/4 turn. The mice are not happy with me. I kick up a cloud of dust flying back down the drive. Water is still pouring! Now my pink flowered nighty, cozy grey cardigan, and athletic pants are covered in mud. I don't have to match to go to bed!

Back up the hill. Hi mice. Hey wait, what is this? I brush away the leaves and find another box behind the meter box. I open it. Big Red Toggle. On. Off. Duh. I turn. Back to the house.

Cole wants a shower to clean off the duck bomb. I usually have to insist they bathe and now he wants a shower at 8am. We have no water, dude. I wash my muddy hands off with the dregs of last night's water glass and paper towels. I ignore what's under my fingernails.

"Who's here mom?" It's plumber-friend. I look at my muddy pink nighty. Eek. Yesterday's shirt is still out in bedroom- see there are advantages for not hanging up your clothes in a timely manner. No time for a bra. I throw it on with the exercise pants. It will have to do.

Plumber-friend glues on a new spigot. I have to hold Asher back. Plumber-friend smells like Great Dane. Scilla wants to see. "Cole, get Scilla out of the way." Plumber-friend says the turn-off I'd been searching for was under "all the moss". Sorry about your nest, mice.

I can turn the water back on in 20 minutes. I need to milk. Cole needs a shower. I need coffee. Pictures of ducklings to come.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hi Peeps!

I enlisted the help of my son to climb up into the loft to check on Lucky. She'd nested in the far back corner of the loft. The only way to get there is to scale a mountain of hay.

Cole made it back there and heard peeping! I didn't think the chicks were due yet. She must have been sitting a lot longer than I thought. He managed to pass me the chicks and unhatched eggs, which I put in a bucket. Then he grabbed Lucky. There's no way the chicks would survive up there. The only food and water is a 10 foot drop down. I'm glad we checked today.

Today is day 26 on Scilla. I think it's safe to say she's pregnant so I listed Ike for sale. He's such a looker, I really hope he sells- seems a shame to turn such a pretty boy into tacos. If anyone is looking for a herd sire, please check him out and forward his info around. ADGA #A001634283

And more tree frogs! They're just everywhere. I love it!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Homeschooling Hell


Not much to say today and not much time to say it- but I need a quick vent.

Most days go fairly smoothly. The kids are learning a lot and doing well in school. Then there are days like today. The boys were away at a viewing/funeral the last two days, so that put us behind schedule this week. I guess a day off added to their belief that they don't really have to work, so I've been cajoling for hours to get this work done before music lessons and Park Day.

I hate to take Park away, but the work is not getting done properly and if that's the only consequence that is going to get through to them, so be it. I will not accept half-@%& work and I'm tired of them trying to pull one over on me. Cole managed to fail his math lesson, but then get an A on the test. That tells me he just didn't try and didn't think I'd grade it today.

Two weeks ago, Chase had to sit with me and do math at the park for lying to me about having done it. I just found that he hasn't done the last two days this week either. Guess I know what he'll be doing if we even make it to the park.

Some days I get really sick of being the bad guy. I'd rather go hang with my goats. At the same time, I know that they really are learning more and doing better than they would be in school (and not learning things they don't need to be learning). Take a deep breath and pray, Kristin. Then crack the whip on the slackers!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Plantation Days at Patsiliga Plantation

Here is a little known event in Talbot County. I have lived here for over ten years and have never heard of it until a friend invited us to go yesterday. Apparently, they hold this festival the first weekend of every November.

They have one of the last working water mills in the state and are selling grits, cornmeal, and flour that were ground on site. It's a good Christmas present idea!

There were working demonstrations of a steam engine, train rides, blacksmithing, cane syrup, great BBQ, fried pies, live music, etc, etc.

Speaking of blacksmithing, when I was buying a cast iron cornbread pan, I found out that there is a blacksmithing club at Fort Mitchell. They meet the 4th Saturday of each month. I may just have to join! It could be something fun for hubby and I to do together.

Drawing Mushrooms

In all my years of public school art, I don't know why it never occurred to me that one can actually learn to draw. I understood that people could learn to play an instrument, very few people who are proficient on the piano had their start like Mozart, but for some reason, I had it in my head that if one doesn't have the natural talent to put what one sees on paper, one could never do it.

Then, playing on Pinterest a couple months ago, I stumbled across a "How to Draw Portraits" tutorial. That day happened to be one of those rare days when I didn't have a crush of other responsibilities weighing on me, so I thought portraits sounded like fun and I followed the tutorial.

Wow, it actually looked like a woman. So I did a few more portraits and with each was able to capture more and more of the likeness of the person I was drawing.

But portraits take hours. And I don't often have hours to spend doodling so the sketch pad got put up  (yes, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought myself a sketch pad and a set of drawing pencils and smudging tools).

I was feeling the urge to draw yesterday and decided to play on Pinterest again for inspiration. There are so many drawing tutorials pinned one could learn anything from drawing water droplets to dragons. I came across a tutorial for mushrooms. Mushrooms, what a perfect idea. They are pretty and small and there are so many species, I could draw mushrooms for years and never run out of varieties.

This is my rendition of the mushrooms from the tutorial. Then I did an image search and picked some different mushrooms. I liked the spots on these and how one was open wide while the other was still opening.

Last night, my mom suggested I try a chanterelle. That was hard. The image I chose was more of the (false) gills than of the "cap". I use the ( ) and " " since chanterelles have neither real gills nor a cap.

Maybe I'll pick a better chanterelle image if I have time this afternoon. Off to milk. We may have gained an hour last night, but the goats don't have a clock. Have a blessed Sunday, everyone!

Friday, November 1, 2013


I have a little persimmon tree growing under a huge tulip poplar. It has produced fruit for a couple of years now, but for some reason I'd never tried it. Maybe it was all the tales I heard of the fruits being astringent. Maybe it was the fact that these persimmons are only about an inch and a half across unlike the fist-sized fruits at the grocery store.

I finally decided to try one, and guess what? They (I continued to eat everything ripe on the tree) were really good! They taste sweet and perfume-y.

I hope my little tree keeps growing so I will have enough of these things to actually do something with. I really should go hunting the woods for more persimmon trees. And mushrooms- I'm determined to find another lions mane.

But not today. It is raining today. Good for mushrooms, but I feel bad for the pigs. They still don't have any shelter to keep dry. Maybe I'm too much of a softy, but I can't imagine they like to be wet all day.

A rainy day is actually a good thing, it takes most of my outdoor projects off the table so I have to focus on things inside- like getting to the bottom of this kitchen! I got all the dishes done, but I have 2 dozen eggs to clean and heaps of stuff to put away.

I had an order for cheese yesterday. She is coming to pick it up this afternoon and I need this place looking presentable!

Off to milk to goats. With Halloween yesterday, I skipped last night's milking too. I guess we are officially on once a day milking now. I hope production doesn't slip too much.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

This is going to have to be short and sweet because I am covered up today and I awakened feeling a bit under the weather.  I didn't milk last night, so the girls and stomping their hooves. I have food to make for a Halloween party tonight, baseball practice this afternoon, homeschooling to do, and if I don't get this house picked up, I may have a nervous breakdown. I still have the soup pot in the sink from Monday night's dinner.

Kat had to go back with Magnum yesterday. That's 0 for 3 on the first heat of the season. 0/2 on Magnum. I know it's too early to worry, but I'm not happy that my backup plan (Westley) fell through. It's adding way more stress to my life right now.

The deer have returned to the garden once since I put up the new charger. I have barricaded the entire perimeter so they can't squeeze through. So far, so good, but I still have to get out there and replant everything. The chicken coop needs cleaning and compost from the barn and coop need to be spread up at the garden.

I don't foresee any of that getting done today.

And I need a shower. That I really need to fit in!

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Clucky Lucky

Our little "tetra tint" pullet, Lucky,  disappeared this week. We got her from TSC this spring. She's some kind of leghorn mix that lays brown eggs. After a couple days MIA, she turned up! Broody! Behind all the hay in the loft.

First off, what bird goes broody in October. Secondly, what kind of leghorn goes broody at all?

Lucky is sitting on a clutch of 10 eggs now. I'm going to have to figure out how to get them all down from the loft when they hatch.

I finally got around to making some homemade English muffins. I've been meaning to try it forever. I love them, but they are so expensive at the store and we try to eat only homemade bread using freshly ground wheat. Wide mouth canning lids make the perfect forms, but it took a little practice to determine just how much dough needed to go in each one.

It's been cold here so I've cranked up the wood stove. The kitty cats are in heaven!

That black mass on the green rug is actually another cat.

Can anyone identify this creepy crawly? He was down in by the buck pen. Florescent green and about as big as my thumb.