Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ben & Jerry, our latest additions to the menagerie

I was perusing The Fence Post's on-line adds and ran across some Holstein bull calves for sale just a half hour down the road from us. I've bought my first calf when I was 9 years old with money I earned hoeing beans for neighboring farmers and by the time I graduated high school had a small herd that I used to pay for college. I love cows and wanted some calves since the day I left home. So, we have two more mouths to feed here. They were 50 bucks apiece and were just 2 days old. They are big boys, both weighing in at about 100 lbs each. I've never seen such a huge milking operation, he must have had at least 2000 head of cattle. He had a gal coming from Nebraska to buy 20 bull calves the day after I got mine.

Ben is the bigger of the two with lots of color and Jerry, the smaller, has a triangle on his forehead and a number 3 on his side. I assume he must be the brainy math type. I plan to get Ben a girlfriend and Jerry, well, lets just say unless he does some serious growing and passes Ben up soon he will be fixed and in service business when he's big enough. They are both still quite wobbly on their feet stumbling and bumbling around the barnyard. Jerry seems to have a slight cough and a bit of scours. I've got him on electrolytes with psyllium husk along with his milk, and he seems to be doing much better this afternoon. He was a bit lethargic the first couple of days. I may pop into the feed store for some antibiotic if his cough isn't better soon.

To say the goats are terrified is an understatement. The calves of course are oblivious to it all, but the goats are sure Ben & Jerry's sole purpose in life must be to eat them. They wouldn't come out of the barn the whole first day, eyes wide with terror they banged around in the barn scaring the chicken half out of their wits as well. They were constantly peering out the window or open door. I think things have finally calmed down a bit, but they still wont get within 10 feet of the calves. Every night I have a hard time getting the goats to go into the barn, they seem sure Ben or Jerry are lurking in the shadows, like a kid afraid of the boogy man under the bed.

When we lived in Tulsa, I purchased a carved wooden cow as a decoration to put atop the cabinets and told the kids when they got home from school that I had bought a cow. They immediately dropped their books and darted out into the back yard expecting to see a real live animal, exclaiming "Oh cool!!!!" as they ran through the open door. I still chuckle at that one, but they wouldn't put it past me, they do know their mother. Now finally I have the real thing.

Last week I sold 10 chicks for $40 and some eggs for $10, so that paid for the one calf. I have another order for 10 chicks and will be selling eggs this week, so there is the other $50. I'm trying hard to make my hobby pay for itself, so far so good.

I forgot how good milk replacer smells. Just think vanilla cake mix. I did my research and found out that mixing it half and half with raw goat milk is beneficial for them. And, it cuts the cost of replacer in half, so that's what I've been doing.

The garden is still producing wonderfully. I have lots of tomatoes, but not enough to satisfy my expected use till next harvest. I picked 31 lbs today. Some are ripe enough to can, but I'm going to wait a few more days so I have a decent batch. For all the work, I hate doing 4 or 5 quarts at a time. I'd rather do a whole bunch at once. My goal is to have 100 quarts total, figuring about 2 quarts a week, for stuff like spaghetti and chili. Not sure I have that many out in the garden, but its better than nothing and there's always next year. I plan to double up on a lot of stuff.

I just finished bottle feeding them both. They seem to have a high degree of certainty that there is more milk available...somewhere.

Jerry the math nerd, with a #3 on his side and a triangle on his forehead.

Jerry again. He is the smaller of the two.

Big Ben. He's so heavy Josh couldn't even lift him. Plan to get that boy a girlfriend. Probably a Jersey. They are smaller and have a mellow personality. They also have a very high butter fat content.

Cheddar checking the boys out from the safety of the coop, terror in her eyes. The other goats were afraid to look, let alone come out.

Belle my littlest baby goat, she is so cute....and ornery, she will come out to face the giants.

Today's harvest and in the background the tomatoes I've canned so far. Hope they keep producing, I've got a ways to go to reach my goal. The flowers on the left, Becca picked from around the yard. I've got about this many more tomatoes in the garden just a shade or two lighter than these. And, bunches of green tomatoes....please no frost yet.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stop the world and let me off

Well, its been a busy couple of weeks. I'm ready for the world to stop spinning, I just want off long enough to catch my breath. I have a feeling that things will continue to spin no matter how strongly I want a break. Ah, such is life.

Josh's hand is healing up nicely. He has ditched his splint and is anxious to get back to playing football. He has an appointment this week and will probably get the okay from the Dr to get back into his usual activities. The Doc we saw was an army medic with years of combat medical experience. He feels that unless its been completely blown or torn off, its really not that bad. He said he wouldn't cast it unless the bones were at a 90 degree angle, and anything less than 45 degrees will take care of itself. He was a bit scary, thinking the fiberglass splint the ER put on was pretty cool, and repeatedly commenting that he had never seen anything like that. I guess after raising Josh, we've seen all sorts of things related to broken bones and ERs. None of it is very cool to me, I simply see money flying out of my checking account, which is never a cool thing in my eyes.

Mom & Dad's visit was great. I so enjoyed myself. I hope they had as good a time as I did. We went up to Estes for lunch one day and putzed around a lot the rest of the week. Mom found a feather bed on Craigslist, so we went out and snatched that up. Its a true featherbed, and in perfect condition. What a find, thanks mom! I also found an air hockey table. It had a broken switch, but hey for free. I went out to the electronic store and for 6.00 we now have a fully functioning game. It came from a frat house at the nearby college. You'd think if I could figure out what was wrong with it, they certainly could. Oh well.

We also tried my home made goat cheese. Not sure that passed. The first attempt at cheese was a little lame, but the second and third rounds turned out pretty good in my eyes. More like a grating cheese. Next time I will try adding some cow milk or cream. Like I said cheese making is really an art. Guess my home made cheese comes off the Christmas list for them.

I've been canning applesauce and tomatoes. I found an elderberry bush down the road so hope to snag some of those and make some syrup and jelly too. Not sure that will happen, but maybe even just juice them out for now and complete the project another day.

Steve got back Friday afternoon from two weeks in China. Nice to have him back. I get a little tired of being a part-time single mom. He always stops in San Fran and picks me up a yummy treat at the airport. It just about makes up for two weeks away.

We took the kids up to Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. Man was it crowded! Seemed like everyone was getting in the last trip of the season. This is the time of year I like to start going. The trees are just starting to turn and the air is so crisp. We hiked up to several lakes including Nymph, Dream and Emerald as well as Bear lake which is not really a hike, being just a few hundred feet from the parking lot.

We took a Colorado quarter along and spotted the site that is printed on the back. Its the back side of Long's Peak the perspective being from the North end of Bear Lake.

The air hockey table. Josh wanted it in his room. He & Em have been playing it for hours on end. I heard lots of puck banging and giggles all weekend. And to think he just cleaned his room.

So pretty. Snow on the higher parts and elk in the meadow.

Bear Lake, with Long's Peak in the background. Its on the back of the Colorado quarter.

The quarter

Another real-life view of the back of the quarter.

One more view. Okay, I'll stop. But its just so pretty. Longs peak is 14259 ft in elevation.

A bear we saw while hiking. He was enjoying a bit of honey and seemed oblivious to the bees swarming around. I was only able to get one picture then my battery went dead, go figure. Steve wants to buy me a really nice camera, the one I use is only 3 mega pixel and is almost 10 years old. I've put him off so far, but when I miss a good shot, i begin to think about taking him up on it.

Nymph lake. I noticed some beetle kill in the trees. Hopefully it can be contained before it devastates the forests up there.

Mom, Dad and me. We had a great time.