Friday, May 25, 2012

Little Things

It’s gonna be a challenging week. Everyone is pitching in trying to get the ranch ready for the big party. Hundreds of people are expected to show up. I need to get my house squeaky clean as well, because the ranch patriarch will be here and likes to take a little tour through all of the houses. The Maremmas, being nosey as they are, are gonna want to be out front to supervise the action so I will have to figure out a solution to keep them in the back with the critters.
I am working on getting a soap storage hut painted so I can more easily see what I have in inventory. I am down to just a few different soaps so I have a busy couple of months ahead of me getting soap cured and restocked. I have had a wonderful response online and have actually sold out of NINE different kinds of soap. I really need to get to work, but I am waiting on a delivery of base oils, as I ran out. Please be patient with me! The storage hut will make a huge difference as there has been no place to put the soap once it has cured, except in a small book case. This way, I can easily keep 50 bars of each type in its own little spot and will know immediately what I have on hand.
The real good news is, the goats look like they are bagging up so we will have goatmilk soap again soon. It’s nice stuff, but don’t tell EmmaLouMoo, she is very sensitive about these things.
Three of the 4 psycho chickens have been dispatched. We had to finally institute the ‘three strikes’ rule. They continually broke into the garden to eat my seedlings and hide eggs. I clipped their wings, chased them, hosed them down, threw rocks at them, but nothing deterred them, so today was their last day running around shrieking and wreaking havoc. 

R.I.P. psycho-chicks...Your lives may have been short and unproductive, but your ending will be ‘souper’.
Two of the sensible chickens are broody. Both Buffy and Oprah have been sitting on eggs, in a mindless, motherly trance. I hope they don’t hatch anything with spots, as the mere thought of a half-psycho chicken makes me shudder.
Mr T is the expectant father. He is looking beautiful, with his red comb and wattles. Clearly, free ranging agrees with him.

The ‘meaties’ should be here soon. The hatchery called and said they are shipping, so I have to let our mail guy know. We fixed up a spot in the milk room which isn’t being used right now. Randyman just has to move the camera back to the goat pen and put up heat lamps for the chickens...and make a lid so the wild birds don’t eat all their food. I will be fermenting their food this year, something I read on the livestock boards. One gal did a great job of documenting the 8 weeks of raising her Cornish X and the difference it made in their health, their sanitation and their energy levels. It was pretty dramatic. I already have their feed in a bucket of water, and will put some raw Apple Cider Vinegar in there today. It looks like mush, but I guess if I was a chicken it would look tasty to me.  It’s still a toss up which dog is going to raise them. Both of them like chickens and both are attached to the goats and sheep. Bruno likes chicken duty, mostly because he can lounge around and sleep closer to the house. Cletus loves them because...well, he’s Cletus and he just rolls that way.
I know some people think it’s just terrible to raise your own food. But I say this, these animals are well cared for, have a healthy and enjoyable life and a humane death (which is more than many humans experience), with the purpose of providing healthy food for my family, as opposed to factory farming where animals often live in cramped quarters, poor sanitation, unappreciated and wind up full of all kinds of unpronounceable ingredients, on your grocery aisle. There ya go, contemplate that over your next pink slime burger.
The ten leppie calves are doing well and have fallen into the normal "butt, bump and leave hickies all over the bottle holding victim" routine. We’ve been trying to train them to drink from the bottle box, but they like to steal and stand sideways to block the others and whatever other mischief they can cause. I have resigned myself to living with slobbery knees and slimey hands for the rest of the summer.

The sheep are lookin kinda raggedy as they shed their wool. The pups have been doing a fantastic job guarding. Bruno became very angry the other day at a hawk that was flying over the pasture...the dogs ran after it and it decided to stay higher up on the air currents after that. I have finally figured out a mystery. I could never understand, since everytime Cletus gives one of the cows a nose kiss, and they clobber him, why he would continue to do this, everytime I go to the pasture. Now I know it's because since they hurt him, he is afraid they will hurt me and he is diving in there to protect me by becoming their target. I have been trying to detain him somewhere else until he understands that I am perfectly fine with Emma and the girls. He does look relieved from the other side of the fence.
One of the triplets brought Wimpy in from the big pasture below the Steens where he spent the winter, so I can start riding again.

It doesn't look like he lost much weight out on the winter pasture. In fact, he's fat as a tick.

I am itching to go. I haven’t the strength today, but tomorrow is another day, and with grace and any kind of luck I can ride at least for a short while. Meantime, since Wimpy has always been a little ‘people sour’ having been a hardworking cowhorse for the first several years of his life, I am taking the opportunity of having him alone to sweeten him up. It doesn’t take much, really, a few scratchings and maybe a treat or two, just to help him associate me with something besides carrying my carcass around the ranch. He’s already following me for the first time ever and beginning to take the initiative to come up to me. Baby steps, baby steps.

He was a good boy, so I turned him loose to go down with the rest of the cavvy, a mile or so down the road. They are brought up everymorning by someone on a 4 wheeler to the big corral for saddling. I can snag him then and we'll be good to go. It felt good just to put my hands on him again.

Well, I better get back to the old grind...the pups are begging for a hug.


  1. Always something interesting at your place! It is good to hear the soap business is bubbling over :) DIL plans to make soap. She has all the ingrediants but the milk. Maybe I can help her on the day she does it.

  2. I've had plenty of comments about eating animals that I "know", and "with faces". I don't get that one, all animals have faces...

    I know how my animals lived and died and I am proud of their care. And I bet none of the people who question me raising and eating them can say they know how their steak lived or died or how well it was cared for. I even had one friend cut me off cold when she found out I was going to eat our sheep. Cheap lesson on real friendship.

    Petey, your life is as honest as it gets. You are right there with life and death and no hiding behind a plastic shrink wrap or a paper bag. You lay your hands on these animals with kindness and caring and people who question it should really be questioning how they can eat something that hasn't been treated the way you treat your stock.

    (Climbing off soapbox...)

    1. I have also found it to be much easier to name the ones we intend to eat, after politicians. :)

  3. I don't think we should feel any remorse about raising our own animals. If that were the case, then whoever is complaining better be a vegan wearing all cotton clothing and hemp shoes. Even dairy products and eggs support the killing of animals eventually. Unless there's a retirement home for old cows and hens that I'm not aware of. Ahh, well, I could go on and on.
    We raised a steer when our kids were very little. Called him, "Steer." My oldest was 3 at the time, and he would tell everybody that would listen that we had a steer, and, "we're going to EAT him!" Never had a hard time about it. They started out as meat animals, and that was that, pure and simple. Although, I have to say that I'm much better at keeping them alive, processing, and then cooking them than I am at actually killing them. Especially rabbits.
    Love your idea of naming the meat creatures after politicians!
    PS.. I made cheese today!! My second batch of mozzarella. There's a dairy guy that lives down the road from us, and I bought a gallon of milk yesterday evening. I feel so earthy.

  4. I can't do the killing part either, even though I don't mind skinning or butchering, once they are 'gone'. Very cool that you made mozzarella! Ricotta is a nice one also, you can just use the whey leftover from your mozzarella.

  5. Okay, I messed up on my last PS. I'm going to attempt to be serious. I'm not old enough to know serious but I can fake it. Seems to me the ones who complain the most about how we live are the ones who say they are the most open minded. I may be wrong. I try lots of dishes that my family wouldn't try and some I try would send one of my brothers for the TB. Seems like compromise for those people is only when we agree with them. I may be wrong, but it does so appear to me when I consider it. I still like chewing my food partially then showing my friends the. "see food." Amy says I'm uncouth and hi. Daboone

  6. I agree with you, my experience too, has been that those who are the most vocal are the least tolerant. I guess partially chewed is preferable to swallowed whole...unless you are the food. Cute. The see food diet...keep working on it, you will make serious some day...but I hope it't not while I'm around! :)

  7. "...your ending will be souper." *snork*!! haha, you crack me up!
    Sooo...hundreds of people eh? Sounds a little overwhelming, but you'll probably have a great time.
    Is your soap hut outside? Or is this a cupboard in your house? Sounds like a great boon to you organizationally. I always envy organization as I'm severely impaired in that area. But I mean well, so I give myself 10 points for that ;).
    I think Wimpy is a very, very, handsome guy.Bays have always been my favorite. His name is a little misleading. Unless he eats hamburgers.

    1. the hutch is inside the house. It was originally a bunch of cubbies in the 'bullpen' bathroom where the cowboys kept all their soap and shaving stuff and all, as the bunkhouses only have a bed and dresser in them, they all used a common shower and bathroom. He's related to Wimpy, but he fits the hamburger feller well...too well! I hate when we move cows through the really tall grass because he can always manage a mouthful as we go by. "hamburger today, and I'll pay you Tuesday"...