March 2, 2012

Around The Homestead

Updates and tidbits since my last Around The Homestead.

Fencing the blueberry bush. Last blueberry season, I had an ongoing battle with the goats. My goal: to save as many of the blueberries as possible. Their goal: to eat as much of the bush as possible, blueberries included. You can read all about that here. (The sprinkler worked the best BTW). This year, I hope we're better prepared.

Blueberry bush corral

While waiting on the kitchen floor, Dan took advantage of some nice weather to fence the bush off. He made it from more downed pine trees, like I did my garden terrace beds. I'm curious as to how well this will work because goats are sneaky. Blueberry harvest is in July for us.

Speaking of things that goats like to eat...

Acorns! I'd seen them eating these from time to time, but since we have millions of acorns all over the yard, I wondered why I couldn't rake them up for them. Initially I was hopeful these would be another source of protein, but of that, they are not very high. They are a good source of fats and carbohydrates however, and considered an important part of winter deer diets. My goats love them. And of course the ones I serve are much more desirable than the ones they can forage for themselves. With the pasture dormant, I'm glad to have these as a supplement for them.

Eggs. I'm getting 5 to 8 eggs a day.

Everyone seems to have started to lay again. The pullets are laying most frequently of course. My older hens are going into their third summer and while they are starting to produce less, the eggs they do lay are huge! The tallest one in the egg carton is one of theirs. Sometimes I can't even close the lid and none of them have been double yolked!

Freezing Eggs. Besides eating a lot of eggs and giving them to my daughter-in-law, I've started freezing them again. This year though, instead of using an ice cube tray, I'm freezing two per muffin cup.

Freezing eggs, 2 per muffin cup, beaten well

I also decided to try spraying the inside of the cups with a non-stick spray. This worked very well and I found the frozen eggs easier to remove from the pan. The individual ice cube size ones are good for many baking projects, but this makes sense too, for scrambled eggs and omelets.

Chicken Fuss. Now here's an odd thing. I was hanging laundry on the line the other day, vaguely aware of a chicken fuss in the background. I didn't think much of it until Cowboy, our rooster, showed up at the clothes line. Well, he's not supposed to be out and when he is, he's usually in the company of some of his ladies. That morning he stood there by himself, clucking at me like crazy. By then, there was some full blown chicken squabbling going on at the coop, I decided I'd better go take a look. Turns out Mrs. Mean was hogging the hay rack in the goat shed and the others wanted it. No big deal (to me anyway), so I headed back to the clothesline. There was Cowboy, standing by the gate into the chicken yard. I opened if for him and in he went, off about his business. Now, you don't suppose...? Nah, I mean, do you think...? Could a chicken actually ....? Well, call me crazy but it actually entered my mind that he came to get me to do something about the fuss! There I said it. Like I said, call me crazy.

Ride 'em (?) Cowboy

Actually it seems this rooster can not only think, but reason. I've seen him pick up little bits of leaves and cluck like he had something tasty for the ladies. The first one who came running would get jumped, for, you know. It's as though he's figured out a way to get them to come to him, rather than having to chase them all over the place.

Kitchen Cabinets. Painting them has been another "while we wait" project. I'm pleased that the color matches my wallpaper so well. The overall look of my kitchen will be lower portion in green.

Sneak peek with knobs and cup pulls

I like that the wood grain shows through as well. We've been doing the prep and painting in the kitchen, because the existing floor is going to be covered anyway. As each piece is finished, it's moved into the dining room. By the time we clear everything out of the kitchen, it will be time to begin installing on the new floor.

Kris. And of course, a picture of the new puppy......

Jus' hangin' out

He actually is starting to follow the girls around, though he always comes running when he's called.

I reckon that's it. Always lots to do around here and we love doing it.


Window On The Prairie said...

You know, I have to say I was thinking the same thing, that cowboy came to let you know about the chicken problems expecting you to do something about it. So, we're both crazy then. :)

Suzanne @ Window On The Prairie

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I cracked up while reading about the shenanigans of Cowboy. What a smart rooster he is!

I absolutely love the paint color for your kitchen cabinets, and am excited to see the finished kitchen, as you must be too.

Your egg carton looks similar to mine with a great big one every now and then. How many laying hens do you have?

Nina said...

I've heard that a good Roo does think, problem solve and look after "his" girls. It's supposed to be the not so good ones, which don't. We've kept our older layers on too, although there are 3 that I believe should become soup, as they're mean and peck the feathers of the others. Laying seems to depend on the weather. The warmer days when they can be out and about, we get more eggs than the cold, snowy days. Love the piccy of the new pup. He's adorable.

Mama Pea said...

Love your "Around the Homestead" catch-up posts. The fencing around the blueberry bush is gorgeous. I'd rather have fencing that looks like that than anything fancier or more modern looking any day. (Now let's hope it keeps the goats out!)

Your new pup is adorable. Don't you just want to pick him up (or is he already too heavy?) and cuddle him? He looks like a dog teddy bear.

I finally got around to making your Green Bean Caesar casserole this week. How was it? My hubby's enthusiastic comment was, "Be sure to save that recipe!"

Dani said...

Clever - freezing your eggs in muffin trays. I MUST remember that when we eventually have chickens and I have too many eggs :)

Love the colour of your kitchen cupboard doors!

And love the corraling off of the blueberry bush.

Grace said...

I believe he was saying "Would you please do something with these ornery women?!" and throwing his wings up in disgust.

dr momi said...

Love the correl around the blueberry bush...but is it high enough??? Probably depends on how tasty that bush looks to them LOL

Leigh said...

Suzanne, thank you! So nice to be crazy in such good company. :)

Janice, I have 11 layers. 6 are pullets, so this is where most of my eggs are coming from. The older Barred Holland lays regularly, and the Ameraucana sisters seem to take turns. The Wellies lay the least, but that's been consistent all along.

Nina, maybe so! Compared to Lord B though, Cowboy just isn't the same. I'm curious as to how well my older hens will lay this summer. Not sure how long it's an even balance to keep older hens.

Mama Pea, I'm so glad to hear that Papa Pea liked the casserole! It is tasty. Kris weighed 17 pounds a week ago. That was up 3 pounds from the previous week! Next week is his puppy shot boosters, so I'll be curious as to how much more he's gained.

Dani, thanks! I hope you're able to get chickens soon. It's wonderful having the eggs, manure, and egg shells.

Grace, LOLOL!

Dr. Momi, I hadn't thought of that. It'a about the same height as our perimeter fence and fortunately none of my goats are jumpers. I'm more concerned about somebody trying to climb through!

Benita said...

Okay, that rooster is smart. He's figured out how the system should work to his benefit.

I love the color of your kitchen cabinets. I wish mine were paintable - I want them in a dark red!

Michelle said...

I don't think you are overstating chicken intelligence at all. Thecrazysheeplady recently posted her two oldest chickens. One is ailing; the other is definitely watching over her.

Ngo Family Farm said...

What a fun and fantastic post! So much life and productivity at your homestead. Everything looks wonderful :)

Natalie said...

I always love your "around the homestead post". The bueberry corral is a fantastic idea, and I love the way it looks, with the fallen trees. Thanks for sharing and giving me some "someday" inspiration.

Jocelyn said...

I agree with everyone--your blueberry corral is wonderful. It almost looks like it was naughty and is in a "time out". Ha!

And no, you're not crazy. Chickens can definitely reason. Having many animals here on our homestead and watching them as I do, I have come to the conclusion that they all can think and reason (some more than others), but they are all mainly ruled by instinct (again, some more than others). Instincts kick in easily, and whatever "thinking" they were doing just flies out the window. But it's there, it's definitely there.

Susan said...

That's a great idea on freezing eggs. I always have trouble getting them out of the ice cube trays. Since I have an overload, I think I will freeze some ala Leigh this weekend! That Kris is a cutie. Looks as smart as can be.

Renee Nefe said...

while at first I was skeptical about Cowboy's abilities when he came to tattle on Mrs Mean his luring the girls to him with food won me over...that is one smart rooster! I wonder how long it will take until they're wise to him?
Love your blueberry corral, it is cute and functional! Great job Dan!
glad that you're able to put those acorns to good use...we just usually burn them in an outdoor fire to listen to them pop. I'm sure we're missing out though.
love your kitchen color!

Sue said...

I don't know about your goats, but that beautiful blueberry corral wouldn't have fazed mine in the least. Sure is pretty though!

Love the Cowboy stories. He sounds like one smart cookie. Have the chickens discovered the blueberry bush?

Unknown said...

So funny to read the story about Cowboy!
Love your blueberry bush corral too.

Teri said...

I thought I read about someone grinding acorns to make a gluten free flour. I'm sure you could "google" it if you were interested in doing that.

Leigh said...

Benita, thanks! Why can't you paint your cabinets? The finish? Dan had to strip the used ones we got, but it was a pretty straightforward job.

Michelle, okay, I gotta go read that post! Animals definitely have preferences.

Jaime, thanks!

Natalie, I hope your someday comes soon. :)

Jocelyn, actually I found Kris inside the blueberry fence today. He definitely looked like he was in time out. :) I agree about animal intelligence and instinct. Amazing to observe, isn't it?

Susan, I had the same problem! I might try spraying an ice cube tray as well, but really the muffin tins work. Actually mini-muffin tins might work for singles.

Renee, I think he was being downright sneaky! I hadn't thought about burning acorns. We have tons.

Sue, it only takes one determined goat! Kinders are a bit smaller, so hopefully even renegade won't do as much damage as my tall Nubians. The chickens are no problem around the bush because they don't eat the leaves and branches. :)

Rugratmommy, thanks!

Teri, yes! That's correct. I remember reading about that in a Euell Gibbons book. I believe the acorn meats have to be blanched, the black varieties requiring more soaking waters. I've not delved in to that, but its definitely a good thing to know about. Thanks for mentioning it.

Anonymous said...

That's some rooster you have there lol! Love the colors you chose for the cabinets!

Clint Baker said...

Your Blue Barrie corral looks awesome! And I never have seen eggs being frozen. Thats good to know, when you have to many!

Stevie said...

The puppy looks like he is already guarding his charges! Good dog!
Stevie @

Woolly Bits said...

of course, I love the dog most:) I started freezing eggs over winter (in case we have another cold one, which we didn't). because I bought those moulds for ice lollies (I use them to make hot chocolate stirrers), I used them - mine hold one egg and I can get them out easily, when frozen. you "infected" me:) now I can use them up again - I doubt we'll have a long frosty spell at this time of the year....

Linda said...

Crazy or not...I think you have a smart "Cowboy" rooster. Thanks for sharing about the eggs....great tip.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, thanks! I have to admit that I didn't know what to expect with this rooster. Today he announced several hawks and kept the ladies safe under a cedar tree.

Clint, thanks! Yes, the frozen eggs come in really handy. :)

Stevie, he does follow them around. Hopefully the bond will be instinctive. :) The goats though, aren't quite as interested in him as in themselves, LOL

Bettina, good idea! I suspect there are a few other better ideas than an ice cube tray.

Linda, he is turning out to be a great rooster! And you're welcome for the tip. :)

Tom Stewart said...

Cowboy is my kind of rooster! Trick the ladies into getting what he wants! LOL
As far as the acorns go. I have put them threw a blender and ground them up good with lots of water. Then place them in a nylon stocken and flush them with more water, until the water runs clear (the Tanum is water soluble). You can test them at this point and if they are not sweet enough, wash again.
They should have a slitly sweet, nutty taste. I use the acorn meal just like corn meal! I even make a breakfast cerial of half acorn meal and corn meal. Served with a little butter and maple syurp!! Boy Howdy! That's good!

Leigh said...

Tom, it sounds good! Thank you for that; you make it sound easy. Do you have any tips on shelling them?