Sunday, September 05, 2021

First, a fat ol' 'farm' report...

...followed (very soon, I hope) by a "Full meal deal Fair report." (I know; promises, promises!)

The zucchini have finally won. I've got big ol' summer squash lying languidly about, smug in their victory of getting ahead of me. Little do they know that the chickens will be happy to peck their innards out, so they won't get to reseed themselves and take over the world.

In an effort to utilize other foodstuffs ripening apace, I've pressed my OLD dehydrator back into service. The basil and prunes mentioned in the last post were somewhat dried in a unit I had traded one of Rick's clients for. It LOOKED like it would hold more and do a better job, given its design and all-stainless-steel construction (first photo). But it took the basil forEVer to dry (and some never did, even though it's just leaves), and it wasn't drying my prunes any better. Then it quit, dead. Rick's client gave me back my old plastic Nesco Gardenmaster (which she really didn't need as she has one already) and it has dried eggplant (pictured), tomatillos (both of which are tasty enough when crispy to snack on out of hand, but I intend to use them in winter curries and stews), and prunes. I am going to keep it humming with everything I can't incorporate in immediate meal planning this year (including zucchini!!!); it feels good to be preserving, especially with the uncertainty of nearly everything in the world.

Back to chickens. The 'peepers' are making more grown-up sounds now and are certainly growing. Lottie is the biggest (and calmest) and Splash (pictured) is the smallest; Spangle is the flightiest and Kate is shy. Periodically I pick them up and foist attention on them to keep them kinda-sorta tame. This morning I couldn't catch Spangle so scooped up one of my beautiful Australorps instead.

'Tis the season: the henhouse is filling with feathers. The fall molt is on and egg product has slowed to a trickle. The peepers' contributions in another couple months will be welcomed – plus I can't wait to see those True Blue eggs!

Foisting attention is how I tame sheep, too, and it has worked well with Berlin (it also helps that she sees her mother get twice-a-day goodies from me). Berlin is still a petite little girl, maybe because her old dam dried up early. I've taken to calling Vienna "Grandma;" she looks so thin and frail (at back in top picture). But I'm keeping her going on alfalfa and rice bran pellets which she demands from me loudly; she is clearly not done with living yet.

The Nightcap girls


'Tis also the season to be thinking of baby sheep. That's right, breeding season is upon us! I've settled on four ewes to put with Spot (the wethers say that can't be soon enough); my three maiden four-year-olds (Bridget, Bette, and Bernadette) and Blaise, who's seven. Or put another way, my three Nightcap daughters (Blaise, Bette, and Bernadette), and Bridget (Blake x Sarai). I've had several inquiries about sheep for sale the last couple years; hopefully I'll have some available next year from this breeding group. But if I get a quality black-based ewe lamb from Blaise, she'll be staying here – especially if she's spotted!

The shepherd (that's me) is holding up. My frozen shoulder is finally making some slow improvement after 18 months. The scar tissue of the Morel-Lavallée Lesion on the back of my right thigh is also slowly diminishing, as is the area of numbness. I had an acute but less consequential setback when Stella stepped on my right foot; somehow my one bad toe took the brunt of her weight:

The good news is that I had recently purchased what may possibly be the world's most comfortable shoes, even for a mashed toe:
Somehow, somewhere, I heard about allbirds, and did some investigating. After reading this review I was convinced enough to check eBay to see if I could find a less expensive pair to try, and found these Wool Pipers. Oh, happy feet; happy, HAPPY feet. As in, walk-around-on-pavement-at-the-State-Fair-for-seven-hours-with-a-mashed-toe-and-still-have-happy-feet happy feet. I have a feeling they will be my go-to footwear for indoors, in town, and travel; alas, they are not field-and-farm appropriate.

Out and about on the hill, the neighbors' house has been painted and a lot of hardscaping has been taking place. They are determined to use ALL the boulders (reinforcing my flock name), and the trackhoe operator has been doing a masterful job of placing them. I'll get more photos tomorrow when I take care of their dogs.

Sunrise (first photo), sunset (last three, taken during last night's walk); swiftly flow the days. Crows, vultures, and starlings are gathering in groups now; the horses are shedding their summer coats so their winter hair must be coming in, although still imperceptible. The calendar says we are running out of time to get our roof replaced and the piles of firewood under shelter; not sure what is going to happen there. If a certain young man doesn't have work lined up for after State Fair, ideally he would be put to work. Well, ideally he'd be heading back to college for his sophomore year about now.... Still workin' on that Serenity prayer!

That's it for now from . . .


Retired Knitter said...

Thanks for the suggestion of the Allbirds. Never heard of them. I have problem feet - for the last 20 years or so. I wear prescription orthotics and buy expensive (and relatively boring) shoes. I live in my New Balance shoes which keep my feet comfortable mostly. But I am game to try a pair of the Allbirds. Actually I am game enough to travel to the closest store (Washington DC) to actually make sure I get the right size. And the cost is actually a bargain for me - my New Balance run between $140-$150 so the Allbirds are not so bad. And while I know there are folks who would never spend that much for shoes, if you are in chronic pain when standing, no price is too steep for some relief.

Tim B. Inman said...

We have used those round dehydrators since the 1980's. They work! I built a box to use with the heater base. I used it in my work to dry fancy paint brushes - and my wife used it to dry herbs on the stem.

BUT, inquiring minds want to know and need help! I have a veg drawer full of eggplant right now. I have made and frozen all I can think I would use. Please wise me up on the use of dried eggplant! Do I just cut it up and dry it, or is there a special pre-prep? What do I do with it after I have it dried? Help!

I don't have livestock to step on my toes, but about once per season, I do seem to drop a big piece of firewood log on 'em. Color enhancement not needed. Cheers

Michelle said...

I hope they work for you, Elaine! Keep me posted on the store visit and what you think. I agree, the price isn't out of line; my other favorite brand, Keen, and any good running shoe is as much or more. But I had to be frugal so long that I am in the habit of looking for deals.

Tim, I've warped the trays of my round dehydrator from the long hours needed to dry prunes, but you're right, it WORKS. So that's why it's back in service.... As for the eggplant, I got this idea from a friend of mine so followed her method. Wash, cut up into approximately 1/2"+ pieces, and dry. No peeling, no salting, nothing. She puts the dried pieces in curries; I enjoy lots of types of curry so I'm going to do the same!

A :-) said...

I'm with Elaine. If these accommodate my orthotics, I'd be totally willing to try them. The price point is less than what I usually have to pay! And, um, BABIES!!! I love when your sheep have babies!! :-)

Michelle said...

A and Elaine, I do think the comfort of allbirds comes from their proprietary low density foam soles and their wool insoles, so I'm not sure if they'd have the "Wow" comfort factor if you have to use orthotics with them. I'd be interested to hear differently!

Jeanne said...

Hi there! I had to grin and chuckle when I read (both times) your first paragraph! I love your sense of humor! Poor squash, lucky chickens!!

I was interested in those shoes, until my sweet daughter reminded me that it doesn't pay for me to buy shoes without being able to try them on first. Rats! They do seem to be a bit shallow in the toe area - are they?

Your poor foot looks painful!

I love the pictures of your "peepers" and I hope they will be friendly, always. They're so beautiful!

The sheepies are beautiful too. I'm always ready to see and enjoy pictures of your critters! I'm looking forward to lambing time!

Love those sunrise, sunset photos! I really miss them, here.

Do you dry your prunes whole? I haven't done any of those for years, but always halved them and removed the pits. Or are they stones?

Michelle said...

Stones, pits; whatever they are called, Jeanne, I remove them and dry the prunes in halves, cut side up.

Debbie said...

Thanks for the tip on Allbirds, I've found a Canadian site.

And thinking of baby!!! It's exciting to imagine what may come (fleece colors).

The peepers are growing.