Just A Buck in Rut

buck in rut

See this guy here?  We recently leased him from Fort Lucas Farm to breed to our two girls.  He’s handsome, isn’t he?  Don’t let the good looks fool you.  He’s as nasty as they come.  But it’s not his fault.

He’s just a buck in rut.

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We’ve Pipped, Zipped and Peeped!

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About 3 weeks ago our ducks started laying eggs.  At first, I didn’t realize we had duck eggs.  I just thought we had 2, unusual looking chicken eggs.  They were smoother, had a pearl look to them and were large, but not excessively large for our chickens.  And they were laid in the corner of the goat stall in a nest made out of hay.

Once I figured out what they were, I sent Spouse a text telling him we had duck eggs.

He came home with an incubator (I never know what he is going to come home with!) Continue reading

Sex-changing Poultry? Burn That Chick!

chicken on a spit

Photo courtesy of Heath Alseike.

When we bought our first batch of chicks, I was desperately eager to find out whether I had a good number of egg-layers or whether my neighbors would soon be cursing the crowing.  I fervently researched how to tell a hen from a roo and anxiously waited to see the fine plumage of a male or the more delicate features of a female.

As it turns out, the odds were not in my favor, but thankfully my neighbors don’t seem to mind the crowing of seven roosters.

You’d think it would be easy to tell the gender of your chicken.  I even remember scoffing at one internet site that warned, “you’ll never be truly sure until it lays an egg or crows.”  Really, how hard could it be?

But then came my Shelley….

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Do You Have Your Chicks In A Row?

time to buy chicks

It’s that time of year.  You’re kicking back enjoying the outcome of your hard spring, summer and fall work.  You think it is time to let things coast for a while.

But then you realize, it’s time to start thinking about next year’s chicks! Isn’t it too early, you might ask? Not really.  Depending on where you get your chicks from, you might want to be placing an order already.  And even if it is not time for you to order, it is still good to have a plan with your chicks in a row, because once springs comes around, you are going to be busy!

Here are some options for making sure you have new chicks next year: Continue reading

Wild Concord Grape Jam

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Last year was our first fall in our new place.  When I was out mowing the lawn, I could smell the fruity goodness of wild grapes.  But my nose couldn’t quite lead me to the right place. Although I could see grape vines almost everywhere I turned, not a grape was to be seen.  They were vexing me.  And I vowed to get my revenge.

This year I was so determined not to miss the fall grapes that I started stalking vines in the spring.  I watched which ones bloomed and had potential fruit.  Then the kids and I took turns spying on them all summer.

I got very worried a couple of weeks ago when we were going away for the weekend to BloggyCon14.  The grapes were starting to ripen, but weren’t ready to be picked.  I worried, okay obsessed, that I was going to miss another season and the grapes would win again.

Luckily (for me, not the grapes), they were there and perfectly ripe when we got back.

The kids and I picked our first batch.  I tottered up on a stone wall to reach the high ones while Number 2 risked multiple thorn pricks to get the ones that may have accidentally meandered into our neighbor’s yard.  Number 1 just kept saying, “how are we going to explain this to daddy when you break a leg?”  It seemed like the grapes were mocking me, just hanging out of my reach.  But we managed to pick about 7 pounds.

That night we made our first grape jam (take that, you grapes).  I pulled together a couple of recipes I found on the internet and came up with the following:

  1. Heat 5 pounds of grapes on medium heat while crushing to release juice (this also releases stress and tension).  I don’t have a potato masher so I used a pastry mixer to chop and pop the grapes.
  2. Squish grapes through a food mill to separate out skins and seeds.  (This wasn’t as hard as it sounded.)
  3. Add 5 cups of sugar and heat mixture while stirring until passes freezer test*.  (I tried to only use 3-4 cups, but the grapes were really tart and required all 5.)
  4. Can the jam.

*Freezer test:  Chill glass bowl in freezer.  Add a teaspoon of jam onto bowl and put back in freezer for one minute.  Jam is ready when you remove from freezer and it remains a mound when you tip the bowl slightly.

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Leftover skin and seeds in the food mill.

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Look at the color!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The jam was delicious.

I was pretty excited by my first attempt and had forgiven the grapes by this point.  I mean, they did give everything they had!  I still had 2 pounds of grapes leftover, so I recruited the kids again for another grape-picking session. We picked the rest of the grapes on our property that we could reach – batch number 2.

When Spouse came home from work one day, I was cooking up batch number 3.  He just looked at me and said, “I thought you had picked all our grapes?”  Number 1 ratted me out when he said, “She went up the street and picked them off the side of the road.”  They both gave me looks of consternation.

Sadly, I am out of grapes in my area, although I did spy some at the soccer fields.  I can’t wait until next year.  I am going to be scouting grapes all over town!