Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things are coming together...

It is cold here. Seriously. For the last 5 days overnight has dipped below 0. I haven't seen 20 degrees F for about a week. Nonetheless, I'm getting things done, and spending some quality time outside in the elements.  Really makes you feel alive! Sounds like something Calvin's Dad would say. I'm Building Character here!

I've made my first Goat cheese. Its a non-aging one that is kind of like chevre, though I'm not too satisfied with it. It seems too bland. It tasted mostly like a slightly goated butter. Therefore, I'm going to have to make some more "complicated" cheeses.

We're gearing up for the goats to give birth sometime at the end of February, beginning of March. I've been reading a lot of books (as there is not much else to do except work out in the barn). I read Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats. Man, the author of this book is a curmudgeon. Plenty of backhanded encouragement in this book, saying things to the effect of "if you're not going to do it this way, theres no reason to even be thinking about keeping goats". What a blowhard. However, he does have some good insights, and for the most part, the blowhard seemed like he knew what he was talking about. I think I'll take his advice rather than operating on my own instincts.

Two other books I've been reading have to do with chickens. One was full of information, Storey's guide to raising chickens, while the other, Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English, was full of pictures, was great to look at, and seemed to plagiarize most of the information from the first book. Maybe I'm being overly harsh, maybe good chicken knowledge is good chicken knowledge. However, some of the wording of both books, when read back-to-back, seemed a little suspect.

I think I'm going to get a small flock at the end of February, which gives me a deadline for getting the chicken yard and a coop ready. The coop I can start building in the barn, once it gets a little more organized (coming soon to a farm near ME!), and the yard is going to have to wait for a little bit until it gets warm enough to break ground and unfreeze the soil. However, I'll most likely need something for interim housing until then. Chicks will take about a month to get to a point where I can leave them on their own. This means March is shaping up to be a pretty busy month, with new kids, and new chicks. Not to mention my intent to start plants and in the greenhouse I have yet to build for spring planting.

Through all this looming on the horizon, I have only 3 things I can really DO on the farm until this infernal weather changes: cooking, cleaning the barn, and reading. There is at least one thing I know for sure, and that is what strain of chicken I will get. I can tell you this much: the kind that is most likely to have beards, Ameraucaunas:


Well, manly by way of their beards, not genders. I plan on getting only laying hens. Lady Men Laying Hens with their manly beards and ladylike ovaries producing delicious blue eggs. They lay blue eggs! What is this, Tatooine with its BLUE MILK!?!? Anyway, I told my parents yesterday that when I have kids, I'm going to tell them that eggs are just chicken farts. My dad told me he'd tell my kids that I'm full of chicken S#!t. I'd say that is a fair trade-off.

I've been taking pics of the barn in varying stages of disarray, and I'll have pictures up as soon as we've installed the wallboard and shelving of what I'm doing now. Magical deeds are afoot, dear readers!  Magical Darkness: A MUST.

-Jon E