February 11, 2013

Around The Homestead

Short bits, updates, and other odds and ends since my last Around The Homestead.

~ I always count my chickens before I close up the hen house for the night, but I never think to count them in the morning. If 12 chickens went to roost, then 12 chickens will show up for morning scratch. One morning I was busy with the goats while all the chickens were busy in the chicken yard, or so I thought. When I heard a chicken fuss in the coop, I went to investigate. There, hanging upside down from the top roost, was one of my Welsummers! Pegs hold the roosting bars, and she had somehow gotten her foot caught between the peg and bar, and ended up hanging upside down! After an immediate rescue, she was no worse for the wear, but I have to say I never saw that one coming.

~ Actually, we are down to 11 chickens. Junior, formerly known as Chicken Little, turned out to be a real rabble-rouser. Once he matured, there was constant chaos in the chicken yard, indeed, on the entire homestead. He was forever chasing the hens who were forever running away. When Cowboy wasn't chasing him, there were constant crowing wars. Junior would ambush the hens, even in the hen house, so that they wouldn't go in to lay their eggs. One interesting observation was that the hen being chased would always run to Cowboy. When she got within a foot of him she would stop and look at Junior as if to say "Safe!" One day when it was particularly bad I asked Dan if he'd like rooster for dinner. We did the deed and peace and calm immediately descended upon the entire homestead. I'd like to think we gave him a good life, but he and his own kind made that impossible.

~ I'm pleased with how the new pasture is growing.

We haven't let the goats in yet, because the growth is still tender and the ground soft from all the rain we've had this winter.

~ I've had a second cheese worth trying again! Cheese #12.

It does have some things in common with Cheese #11, my first repeatable cheese. Both were cultured with the whey from the previous cheese, and both were brined. That may be a technique to use with all my hard cheeses.

~ The next step in the bathroom remodel is refinishing the clawfoot tub.

That's it pictured above, upside-down in the hallway, where the temperature is better for priming and painting. The claw feet have been removed for refinishing. The outside will be sanded and painted first. Dan bought a tub refinishing kit for the inside. We've been working outdoors though, while the weather is nice, so it may be awhile before he gets this done.

~ I'm finding that my 365 Days of Independent Eating self-challenge to be helpful. I'm still working out the details of what to record, but I'm finding it motivating. I did less in the garden last year because of the kitchen remodel. This year I plan be more consistent and more proactive with it. It made it to my 2013 Homestead Goal list for that reason.

And, I reckon that's it.

Around The Homestead © February 2013 


Doug Pitcher said...

We've tried more than one rooster in the coop and it's always a disaster.

I'm jealous of the "it's nice outside" comment. We are -8 Celsius and windy here.

Carolyn said...

Oh, the green pasture! Oh, the cheese!
Oh, the taste of pecker-head rooster! We still have six of ours to make into supper.
Have a wonderful week planning that garden :)

daisy g said...

Sounds like you have a lot going on. Looking forward to seeing the progress as you tackle it all...

Farmer Barb said...

I'm jealous, too. We have 20" of snow on the ground. My excess chickens made it to the stove top BEFORE the storm. We have enjoyed a nice several dinners since then.

The fresh chèvre that I learned to make in California was rolled in kosher salt after draining. It would only make sense you would have to brine a harder cheese. There would be no other way to get the salt in there without messing with the curd. It looks TASTY!

I don't think that my family is ready for goat milking yet. I have to introduce the goats, first!:)

Leigh said...

Doug, and this rooster was the only chick we had hatched this year. I'd really hoped for a pullet, but alas. Don't envy our temps too much, we're under flood watch from all the rain.

Carolyn, I can't wait for the garden!

Daisy, thanks!

Barb, ours is in rain. Too much rain. I have to say I've never made chèvre, only the hard cheeses. I have mixed salt by hand into the curds, but these brined cheeses are the best so far. More experimentation is in order though. :)

Benita said...

So Chicken Little became Chicken Dumplings, huh? That story cracked me up. And with all that chasing around, I'll bet he was good and tender with extra large thighs and legs - my favorite parts, BTW.

Kris said...

I can only imagine how tasty a free range wholesome chicken is compared to what I find at the store. Glad Chicken Little is no longer a nuisance....

Dani said...

Leigh - I know the feeling. The beginning of last season was all about builders, and my planting / seed propagation took a back seat. But, next year... :) No excuses!

MTWaggin said...

You guys are so busy it makes me tired! Love hearing about all of your projects though!

DFW said...

That cheese looks great, as does the pasture. It's all coming together! Hope the rooster dinner was good.

Laura said...

I've eliminated my share of "trouble-makers" over the years, not all of them roosters! They did taste good - revenge is very sweet!

I had a clawfoot tub in one of my houses, and I loved it, except that it was cold - the contrast between the warm water and the cold tub was frightening! I finally would run straight hot water into it, and let the temp of the water come down and the tub go up, and that helped.

I'm planning gardening, too. I think Musque de Provence pumpkins in 1/2 barrels on the south side of the house will be just the thing - grow them up trellises and shade the hot end of the house (tin-box mobile) - should work very well!

Unknown said...

NO roosters here, just chatty hens. The pasture looks great and so does that cheese. You inspire me with the whole cheese thang. It's been on the list for years and every time you post about yours makes me think perhaps this is the year :)
Have a great day!

Ed said...

I prefer a good rooster on the table to a trouble one out in the lot. I remember the day after we reduced our roosters from seven down to two. It was a much quieter one.

Renee Nefe said...

Critter stories are funny. Interesting that the hens ran to Cowboy. I guess you know the pecking order now. ;o)

can't wait to see how the tub turns out. Hubby has been planning out how to finish the basement. We don't really need a finished basement though. Oh well.

Leigh said...

Benita, LOL. He wasn't that tender unfortunately. I think he was too stressed out plus we didn't let the meat rest, Dan just threw it on the barbeque. Excellent flavor and the biggest drumsticks we've had on a homegrown chicken so far.

Kris, the flavor is beyond compare. Dual breed chickens though, don't produce those plump white breasts. Just good flavor.

Dani, you can relate! Still, it's worth it to get one's home established and in order. At least you're building new and can get things right the first time around. :)

Sherry, beats having nothing to do. :)

Laura, this will be our first cast iron tub, so I hadn't thought about that! I'll remember your tip. I'm not familiar with the Musque de Provence pumpkins. They're not too heavy to grow up a trellis?

Jen, hens can be noisy too LOL. Do give cheese a try soon! I've learned that it takes some practice, but it's a very fun thing to do.

Ed, that's way too many roosters. I've heard some folks say they have roosters that get along, but we haven't yet!

Renee, sometimes there's just no swaying their minds. :)

Moose Hollow Farm said...

I ran into a similar situation as your upside-down hen. When my husband built our medium-size coop, he left 2 areas (about 2" square) uncovered next to the top of the nesting boxes. One morning, I went out to check the hens and to give them some treats and I noticed that one hen was not around. I didn't think too much about it since they tend to wander during the day. I didn't count them when we closed them up that night but I remembered about the wayward hen when I let them out the next morning. She wasn't around the outside of the coop or the barn. Finally, I opened up the back of the coop where we collect the eggs and her leg was stuck in that 2" square hole
and try as I might I could not get it loose. It was firmly stuck. I tried to call my daughter for help but she wasn't home. I had to muster up superhuman strength to lift the boxes loose enough to pull the hen's leg out. The poor little girl had a sore leg ~ we nursed her back to health and she's still with us today ~ thank goodness!!!!!

Whiffletree Farm said...

Just a tid-bit of information; when I re-finished our clawfoot tub, after sanding with a belt sander, we primed and painted with spray tractor paint because of its durability and coverage. It looks beautiful, just the right amount of shine and its very durable.

Quinn said...

I can imagine the jolt it gave you to see that hen hanging upside down! Good thing you got there to save the day, before she injured herself.

Leigh said...

Moose Hollow Farm, what a story. I'm glad your hen was okay! It's always the things we don't think they'll get in to, that they manage to get in to. :)

Whiffletree Farm, I will pass that on to Dan. He did some research and got some paint recommendations for cast iron, but we hadn't thought of tractor paint.

Quinn, I was very much surprised! She was in a panic but certainly seemed puzzled as to why she was hanging there upsidedown. :)

DebbieB said...

Congratulations on hitting the right cheese combination! And on the fresh chicken for dinner... :)

Unknown said...

I almost forgot to count going in one night and we were pretty close to a hensicle. Don't you wish these chickens knew what was good for them?!
You're cheese looks great...I keep wanting to try that.

Ed said...

I thought I would clarify that at the time, we had seven roosters and about 100 hens. The day we culled the roosters we also reduced the flock to about half.

Leigh said...

Debbie, thanks! After all those not so great cheeses, it's nice to finally have some decent ones.

Julie, oh no. Good thing you remembered, those chickens can be pretty silly sometimes. :)

Ed, gosh that's a lot of chickens. I can't even imagine. Must have been pretty peaceful after you got it down in size.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

cheese looks wonderful! I count my animals many times a day...it's easier and less expensive to catch them when they first go down as opposed to later.

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