We are finally getting into the swing of summer. The days are mostly warm now and some of my flowers are blooming. The corn, tomatoes, squash, peas, beans and carrots are up and I am looking forward to the harvest already.
Each morning brings pretty much the same, I warm up goat milk for Prissy’s triplets whom she decided not to feed, while Randyman makes the 11 bottles for the leppie calves. With everything in the wagon, we head out to the corrals. I run ahead and like the Pied Piper, lead the meatie chickens to their feeders where they all mob me, as Randyman pulls the bottle wagon safely past. Butterflies drift lazily on the air currents, alighting to caress the flowers that have already opened their petals to the world. The roses, calendula, purple cone flowers, stock and carnations keep them sated while they wait for marigolds, cosmos, daisies and hollyhocks to open. Birds chatter noisily in the trees as we go about our business and the hummingbirds gorge themselves on the trumpet vine that scampers over the rock wall.
We split the calves up into two groups and give them their bottles. They bump and push one another while they greedily suck down the milk replacer. We try valiantly to keep everyone at their own bottle to make sure they all get their share.
No one has to be fed by stomach tube, or given shots today so that makes it a bit easier. Wimpy and Mister stare at me over the fence, expectantly, wondering if they will get any treats in addition to their pasture this morning. It ain’t likely. The horse cavvy peeks over the fence to say good morning.
The cowboys bring them up every morning to the corral by the barn to catch and saddle the horses they will use for the day. The horse wrangler drives a 4 wheeler down to the big pasture they live in. Its several hundred acres. He/she rounds them up and follows them a mile up the dirt lane to the barn. After saddling, they will open the gate and the horses not working that day will drift their way back down to the pasture again.
I count laying hens and chicks while we bottle feed, and laugh at the funny looking chickens that came with the meaties. They are very interesting colors and I have NO idea what kind they are. They are having a good life though, running around loose and scavenging bugs and spilt grain from the calves’ trough. The sun warms my back and I listen to the cooing of mourning doves as the goat kids greedily consume their bottles, bumping and pulling as I try my darndest to hold on to them. It’s exponentially harder to feed and hold 3 large coke bottles, than it is to do just two. I struggle to keep them in my hands as I sit on a stump to maintain my balance. The other set of triplets cuddle up to Bruno. They know he will keep watch over them. I watch as one little goat walks all over the dog without him making a single complaint. It is really amazing the way a real LGD will bond with its stock.
EmmaLou and her cronies are grazing around in the pasture, lazily switching at flies. Soon they will curl up for a siesta under the octopus tree. The lambs are bleating and begging for attention, from the horses’ pasture. They walked under the hotwire last night and decided to stay. The horses don’t seem to mind a bit. There is plenty to go around. We push the calves down the alleyway and out the gate to the back pasture. This is their first time out. Cletus escorts them and finds himself a good spot in the pasture to keep watch over them.
After we are done, the bottle wagon is hauled back to the house and Randyman loosens all the caps so I can wash them. This will be the first of 3 feedings, as the calves also get a noon feeding. It feels like all I do is feed calves and wash bottles all day. I hope we will soon be able to turn them out into the pasture and cut the noon feeding out of our day. I have already pushed the milk goats to once a day milking, at night. It makes it a lot easier to only have to process milk and take the machine all apart to clean just once.
Each morning, I usually wash the bottles, check for email, then make a log or two of soap, as it is hard to keep it in inventory these days. I am thrilled people are loving it so much. The little bit of money I make helps with the care of the animals, as we do have to buy supplemental feed, veterinary meds and the horses need shoes now and again. Every little bit helps.
The rest of the day may be spent canning, cooking, gardening or sewing, or any combination of those.
This week I canned some potatoes before they went bad. Going to the store only every 3 months, we can run out of a lot of things, or worse, have it go bad. I put away what we want to use fresh, then can the rest. These can be quickly heated up as home fries, or mashed potatoes, potato soup or any number of different ways. Tonight I drained a quart and dumped them in the frying pan with some ghee, parsley, salt & pepper and just heated them up until they were browned, to go with our lamb chops. They were buttery and delicious.
I made some blueberry sauce and canned that, to use over ice cream and on our wholegrain waffles.
I also made some homemade Dulce De Leche with goat milk. Now THIS is something to brag about. The boss’ wife asked me
“So how do you keep yourself from just sitting down and eating all that yourself with a spoon??”. Dulce de Leche is a rich, incredibly flavorful carmelized milk. It’s easily made and if you use real vanilla beans in it, its amazing!
I have found that if my oils and lye are prepared, I can make soap while my bread is rising, and boil and sterilize jars at the same time. A little multi tasking gets a whole lot more done. At the end of a couple hours, I have soap in the molds, hot bread on the counter and jars of food cooling. It’s a good feeling. With as much as there is to do here, there isn't any other way. We enjoy our leisure time while we sleep. I think its a whole lot better that way, cuz I always manage to somehow still be behind on my chores.
I made a list of canned goods I want to put up this year. Last January, I canned several different soups and stews and it was the best investment of time I could have made, as there were many, many nights that I was just too exhausted, or in too much pain to fix dinner. Grabbing a jar of something wonderful and homemade and heating it up was better than I can possibly describe. I would much rather do that, than go out for dinner...which of course, is NOT an option for us, but it used to be, when we lived in California. Our 4 or so trips a year to town is more than enough eating out for me. A day spent canning, saves us money, time, and provides us with a much healthier alternative. It will save valuable space in my freezers as well as make for quick and easy meals. Canning is one of the best skills I have learned. Why not give it a try?
Here are some of the items on my 2012 canning list.
A lot of the ingredients will come from our garden, but we might find a farmers market on the way around town next trip for other stuff. Some things I also dehydrate, but I want to compare them so I will can a few as well, this year
Jams & Jellies
Cheesy Chicken Chowder
Shredded Mexican Beef-for quick burritos or taco salads
Beef Dip Beef-for quick sandwiches
Chicken-for salads, enchiladas, casseroles, etc.
Blueberry, Strawberry & Blackberry sauces and syrups
Can you think of any other meals, items that might be handy to have canned in one's pantry?
If you don't can now, you might consider it. The benefits are beyond counting.