Whispering Pond Farm

Whispering Pond Farm

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May Vacation

For the last several years I've taken a week of vacation in May to plant the garden, clean up and plant flower beds, and generally do a spring organization. The gardens end up orderly, to a certain extent, not slap dash, maybe. I have been able to take advantage of this time this week and get the large garden planted for the most part. A day was spent weeding, again, and roto-tilling both gardens. Then planting the large garden yesterday. Bob will plant the tomatoes this weekend, they are his project. I did see a yellow and black stripped squash bug on a small volunteer squash plant. I immediately squished it, with great satisfaction I might add. It is annoying to see them already. We must remain ever vigilant and not miss a bug. They destroy the plants so quickly. The baby chicks are huge. They are on schedule. The exotic chick we received with them is quite a bit smaller and gets trampled upon occasion. The question for them is heat lights on or off? The weather yo-yos enough this time of year, it seems as though they are either too hot or too cold. A guessing game. The lambs are growing. One got his head caught in the hay feeder this morning, too big to go forward too big to go back. It is the same lamb who sticks his head through the woven wire fence to eat the grass on the other side. He keeps the fence line looking trim. Hopefully it won't be his demise, desire for something on the otherside. The kids are growing, horns as well. We burned those horns on two separate occasions! Cheese making, we have about 30 pounds of Chevre, enough for the wedding I think. Time to try something new. The Gouda molds and culture are coming in the mail. Gouda sounds great! Carmen

Friday, May 11, 2012

Last Lamb, April 6

The last lamb was finally weaned this weekend. It has been two weeks worth of very sad lambs and ewes calling to each other over the fence. Leila and her single lamb were the last pair to be weaned. Leila's lamb doesn't quite understand how yummy grain is and gets shoved out of the way at feeding time. Bob repositioned the feeders under the overhang in the barnyard to make sure everyone had room to eat. Lulu's two lambs have recovered their weight after we treated her for mastitis, they still are significantly smaller than the older lambs however. Hopefully the new feeding arraignment will help them catch up. I planted parsnips, parsley root, carrots, beets, and arugula in the small garden on Saturday. These seeds were planted in between the rows of garlic. Until the garlic is harvested in six weeks the weeding will be tight. I replanted the Swiss Chard. A few scrawny plants isn't adequate. The broccoli and garlic are growing well. Brocolli takes up a lot of space and takes a long time to mature. The onions are poking through the soil in the big garden. A few potatoes have made their way above ground as well. The potatoes do take a long time to get started. Patience. The plants Bob started in the tack room are huge. Tomatoes, marigold, eggplant, and peppers will be planted later this month. Patience....it can still frost around here in May. It's a lot of work running around, covering everything up. Better just to wait...plant a little later. Carmen

Saturday, May 5, 2012

First Cheese, May 1

WooooHoooo! Finally enough waiting, enough discarding. Ruthie's two week moratorium on milk is over! Goat's milk cannot be used for two weeks after the goat has been given worming medicine. Sweet Pea's milk cannot be used for another week because of the antibiotics she received after her c-section. But....Ruthie is ready! We made our first batch of Chevre today. It was a day of firsts actually. Bob purchased a pasteurizer. It will hold two gallons of milk at a time. This will be a great time saver. No more hovering and stirring over a pot of milk, thermometer in one hand spoon in the other. It does have a slight learning curve. The instruction manual, all four pages, is minimally detailed. This is a great frustration for Bob, mister by the manual, steps 1 through 8, in order, do not deviate from the plan. We got through it without too much difficulty. Next, measuring culture. Upon closer inspection, Bob realized the scale we have does not measure in small enough increments to weigh the culture that he purchased correctly. Plan B was immediately put into place. Off to Scisaliano's for a thermometer; yes, we didn't have the right one, and a scale. We called and the sales clerk thought they had one that would work. They had a thermometer but not the correct scale. Plan C was implemented. Purchase pre-measured culture..done! Despite all the running, all the plan changes, this first batch of Chevre was very successful! The Chevre will be used in several items for the wedding dinner so several batches will be made and frozen. The next cheese experiment after that will be Gouda, or maybe Mozzarella. How about Camambaer? Ricotta? I could do Swiss... or a nice Cheddar......the possibilities....Carmen

Rabbits, April 28

Bob dispatched the rabbits this morning. They were several years old and past their prime service. Each doe had a litter this spring, Reba Louise had one and Wanda had three. They both abandoned their litters. Once a doe abandons a litter she will not accept future litters. We will raise rabbits again, probably getting stock this fall for spring litters. Presently there is enough rabbit in the freezer for rabbit pot pie for the wedding. Carmen

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lucy, April 27

Lucy died today. She was a gentle soul, dying the way she lived, quietly and without pretense. Lucy was one of the first ewes Bob and I purchased. She was four. Bob and I weaned her babies along with Pinky's twins on Wednesday the 25th. Lucy looked thin and seemed droopy, moving more slowly, the last to the grain and hay. We thought it would be good for her to take the lambs off, let her rest, catch back up. She remained in the far pasture Thursday afternoon, not coming to the fence for feed. I did the chores, grain for everyone, milked the goats, filled water tanks, collected eggs. She remained in the far pasture. I walked out and sat with her while the far water tank was filling. Not seeming in distress; eyes clear, nose without discharge, no diarrhea, normal respiratory rate. Just watching. Thinking she would be more comfortable I left she and Pinky outside for the night. Bob did bring her in the barn this afternoon. He gave her grain, hay, and water, and called the vet. They thought maybe a neurological wasting disease. Paul Shetterly didn't know either. Try some antibiotics. Okay, antibiotics. I sat with her again in the stall. Eyes clear, deep brown, knowing what I didn't. Bob and I brought the antibiotics to the barn after dinner. She wouldn't need them. Peacefully on her side, grain and hay untouched. Carmen

De-budding, April 22

The de-budding iron and kid box Bob made make the whole de-budding experience much easier. Lisa came and helped Bob and I de-bud Sweet Pea's two kids, Dahlia and Violet. The kid is placed in the box so only their head is exposed. This allows one person to hold the head only, not worrying about legs and wiggling bodies. The other person can hold the iron on the kid's head over the horn bud. Hence, de-budding the kid. The iron needs to be in contact with the base of the horn bud for approximately 8 to 10 seconds for a proper burn to occur. In other words, a lifetime. I trimmed the hair away from the base of the bud with small scissors. This seemed to increase the contact area of the iron and create a better burn. We purchased a new, fancy electric iron this year. No guessing on temperature or fooling around with a blow torch to heat a non-electric iron. Does a blow torch in a barn sound like a good idea to you? It didn't sound like a good idea to me either. The process of de-budding is not a pleasant one. It, however, is much more palatable than watching the vet de-horn the kids. The horn is actually a continuation of the frontal sinus. When the horn is removed a hole is created and the frontal sinus is exposed. It's not fun spraying antiseptic fly spray into their frontal sinuses. Better than getting flys in the sinus....I guess. Carmen

Katelyn and John Visit, April 20-23

Katelyn and John came for the weekend and were a great help! They drove from New Jersey, arriving Friday afternoon in Michigan. This trip was made to help around the farm with wedding preparations and met with Matt Stoll, the minister that will be presiding over their wedding ceremony. I attended a hard cheese making class on Saturday. While I was in Kalamazoo, Katelyn and Lindsey found fabric and a designer for the bridesmaids dresses. Yeah! Bob and John started cleaning out the storage area under the north overhang of the barn for the chicks in anticipation of their arrival on Monday. After church on Sunday Katelyn, John, and Bob rototilled both gardens and started planting potatoes. While I was shopping at Meijer the post office called, the chicks had arrived. So, the work in the garden came to a screeching halt and the chick area preparation swung into action. I picked up the chicks at the postal annex in Kentwood and everyone else completed the chick area, hung a heat lamp and thermometer, filled the waterer, and made a cardboard ring enclosure. The ring is approximately 6 feet across and can be adjusted as the chicks grow. When the chicks first come the temperature inside the ring needs to be in-between 85 and 90 degrees. Bob has the heat lamp hanging from a hook with a chain that can be adjusted up or down depending on the need for more or less heat. Very scientific. The chicks all looked healthy upon their arrival. Katelyn and I dipped their beaks in water teaching them how to drink and showed them the grain feeders. A great BBQ pork rib dinner was enjoyed on Sunday night. BBQed ribs are one of Katelyn's favorite things so we try to have them each tome she comes. The recipe is really easy, one of those that works every time. Just remove the connective tissue along the bone side of the ribs and place in the oven on a rack bone side down at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Cover with foil. You can rub the meat with a dry rub before putting it in the oven. I usually just sprinkle the ribs with lemon pepper. At the two hour mark uncover the ribs and smother them with BBQ sauce. Place the ribs back in the oven for another 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the size of your cut, uncovered. Cook until the meat falls from the bone. Remove the ribs from the oven and allow them to rest before serving. Monday Katelyn and John met with the minister. This was the first of several sessions. Future sessions will be done on line. They left early Tuesday morning. It never gets easier watching them leave. Katelyn will be back in May, a small consolation. Carmen