Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What a Crazy Couple of Days...

Just when the season has officially turned to Fall, and I start thinking "oh yay, harvest is done and I can now relax into the winter", everything hits the fan. It's nearly Halloween, and I am soooooo behind in my Village of the Damned yard make-over. The chickens refuse to lay eggs (bastards). I need to cart mounds of rabbit poo all around the yard, which I've been procrastinating doing and now need to get it done yesterday, as I found out I need to have surgery to fix my wrist. It'll be nice to feel my fingers again, but I am really feeling the time crunch. Oh, and I haven't cleaned up the gardens and put them to bed for the winter yet. Can you spell "procrastination"??
To cap it all, Charlie the puppy is sick. Really sick, as in laying-on-the-sofa-moaning-and-shaking kind of sick. I thought he'd swallowed something along the lines of a stinky asian beetle, but it turns out he has a kidney infection. So he's on cipro (the same drug they treat anthrax with) and pain medication. Poor boy. He is feeling very sorry for himself, and I am feeling very sorry for him too. There is nothing quite so miserable as a sick puppy...and yes, I am restraining myself from spoiling him too much. (I'm spoiling him just a little.)
Why is it that nothing like this (any of the above) ever happens when you have time for it to happen? Like, when you have alllllll summer to deal with things. Oh no. It has to all wait until you are up to your armpits in commitments and obligations and tight schedules, and then fling itself upon you like a cascade of stink.
I just wanna be a chicken farmer, dammit.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Baby Bun Video

I just can't stop taking videos of these little creatures! They are ridiculously cute, and entertaining. Now that they have a bigger space to cavort in, they are doing random bounces and leaps of joy. It is so much fun to watch them grow. And in a few short weeks, they will fulfill their purpose and fill my freezer. It's a little hard to contemplate that, really, and please don't think that I am a soulless wretch who lives to commit murder on small fluffy animals. I firmly believe that we, all of us living creatures, have a purpose in life. We need to be born well, live well, and in the end, have a good death. I like to think that my livestock (such as it is) has a better life than many other creatures on this planet of ours, and I try my best to make sure that their deaths are respectful, quick, and as painless as I can make it.

I will admit to feeling a little, teensy-tiny thrill at being the owner of a .22--maybe it's some latent testosterone lurking in my genetic makeup? There is just something about owning a weapon of mass destruction that appeals to my dark side. Like, I could totally defend my homestead from mauraders, random zombie invasions, or hordes or wererabbits on the prowl! Need to kill off a weasel? Just give me a call. Got problems with the local gang of forty thieves raiding your pantry or secret stash of treasure? I'm your girl. (Yes, I am running images from A Christmas Story and Ralphie defending his family from evil with his trusty "Red Rider BB gun with the compass in the stock and this thing that tells time" through my head, right now, as I type.) Hmmm...well, I'll balance my hunter's instinct with getting a mani-pedi this afternoon. And I'll paint something else pink...that'll do it, I think.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Real Reason I Preserve...

(yes, I totally hijacked this. and no, I don't care if the copyright police come to get me.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Official

Yesterday, I spent most of my day driving around between locations that were very far apart. I didn't really mind though--between the gorgeous scenery, unseasonably warm weather that makes fall feel like late summer, and the zen of humming tires, it was nice to let my mind leap-frog between thoughts. This morning, I am taking advantage of a later afternoon work schedule and relaxing with some coffee before leaping into my day. All the animals seemed jazzed by the nice weather. The chickens are doing their thing, digging for worms and hunting flies. The rabbits are liking the cooler evenings, that are just warm enough that the top dutch-door gets to stay open and they can enjoy the night scents. The dogs are going a little nuts, barking at falling leaves and drifting pine needles. For the cats, they are spending a lot of time in windows. As for myself, I am liking the soft warm breezes and fall colors, although secretly I am hoping for some "tall boot" weather in the near future. It is awfully nice to not have to run the heat right now, though. I have a feeling that a long, cold winter will be coming soon enough.
In other related rabbit news, it appears that the baby bunnies are weaned now. My first clue was the diving head-first into the feed bin when I poured in the rabbit chow, followed by a mass slurping from the refilled water bottle. One of my projects for this weekend now includes putting together another cage and relocating my little buns into their new home. I believe that Little Mama will enjoy the extra space. I hope she won't mind that it will be temporary; if all goes well, in about another month she should have another litter of kits. (See previous post for discussion of my feelings on being a bunny pimp.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Indian Summer Afternoon

It was a gorgeous afternoon today. While my work day was scattered and fraught with angst, my afternoon was much more mellow and full of golden light. I didn't get to play outside very long--too many inside chores like laundry, washing dishes, and mopping up email messes--but I did get to commune with the chickens a bit. The girls are getting big and sassy, with that teenage "spread" that heralds soon-to-arrive eggs. No joy yet, but it is getting much more exciting to check the nest boxes daily. They don't seem to like my faux eggs and keep flinging them out in disgust. Who knew chickens would be so opinionated about wildly colorful, striped-and-spotted plastic easter eggs? I keep reminding them that to be rid of the horrible fake eggs, they need to start laying their own. I don't think they believe me.
The rabbits are happy and hoppy, with the babies surviving the current relative heat wave. They are almost big enough to be in a cage of their own. I think Little Mama is determined to wean them. Little does she know that this weekend, she and Bucky have a hot date...hee hee. I feel like a bunny pimp. I wonder if all farmers feel this way, just a little, when they go to breed an animal? I mean, seriously...sheep farmers dress their rams in S&M leather vests, dairy farmers stick their hands waaaaaaaaaay up there and then squirt these little syringes full of bull's delight, turkey farmers have to do obscene things to the breeding toms to get them to do their "thing". You'd think there would be a regulatory committee or something to manage all this wild kinky stuff occuring in the bucolic countryside. Oh wait, there is: The Ag Department. Man, their Christmas parties must be really fun.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Harvest Kind of Day

Today was one of those days when I kept meaning to be doing/going someplace else, and never quite made it there. I was going to go to a friend's for a fun apple harvest day, and when I wandered out the car, caught sight of mold taking over my shell beans. This resulted in me grabbing a huge tub, hastily picking all the beans, and spending the next three hours shelling. (Most of the beans were saved, but I lost about a cup of my little pea beans to the nasty mold.) And then I thought, oh, I can still go! But I caught sight of the giant bag of Hungarian Hot Wax peppers I was gifted, and realized: That goo forming on the bottom of the bag is from rotting peppers--oh no!

You guess it, I've spent the last couple of hours dealing with peppers. The end result is going to be firey and fantastic, in the form of Cowboy Candy. This sounds wonderful--it's pickled peppers in a sweet, spiced sauce. The usual recipe calls for jalepenos, but when life hands you a bag of Hot Wax, you use what you are gifted with. They'll just be quite a bit hotter...yeehaw! This version might appeal to the cowboys of Hungary...Anyway, after a month they will be "mellowed", which I think means that the hot peppers will be imbued with the flavors of turmeric, celery seed, cayenne pepper, and garlic. What a crazy combination, when you keep in mind that it also involves quite a lot of sugar and cider vinegar. I may have discovered a new sinus cure. Or a way to kill off taste buds, or create instant ulcers. Hee hee!

Cowboy Candy

To make a batch of this potent peck o' peppers, you'll need to corral: 3 pounds or so of hot peppers, jalepenos or otherwise; 6 cups of granulated sugar; 2 cups of cider vinegar; 1/2 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, celery seeds, and ground cayenne pepper; 3 Tablespoon of granulated garlic. Wash and slice the peppers into 1/4 inch slices, set aside. Please, use plastic gloves! Your eyes will thank you later...Now, in a nice big pot, combine the sugar, cider vinegar, and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add pepper slices and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove slices by using a slotted spoon, and fill 6 hot pint jars. Return the syrup to the stove, raise heat and boil hard for 6 minutes. Ladle boiling hot syrup into jars, release air bubbles, and cover with hot lids. Tighten bands and place in a hot water bath canner. Bring to boil, and process for 20 minutes. Remove from canner, allow to cool 24 hours. Check seals and store for one month. You can eat them earlier, but for best flavor they need to "mellow". Warning: These are really "hot", so eat in small doses. Syrup can be drizzled on as a condiment as well. Great on burgers, nachos, baked potatoes, crackers smeared with cream or goat cheese...yummy!