June 30, 2008 – Nellie the Goat

Here Nellie sticks her head out of the barn door as if to say “what ya got for me today?”

They’ve had a smorbasboard of different foods this spring. An acquaintance of a friend keeps buying 50 lb bags of various plant materials, hoping to use them for dye. They don’t quite work out as he planned, so we are the beneficiaries of 49 lbs of beet pulp, 49 lbs of ground alfalfa, and a 5 gallon container of liquid molasses. When you are a goat, it’s all good in small quantities!

one year ago…”Trees Gone Wild”

June 29, 2008 – Late Cherries

The cherries are late this year, but they are here – a welcome sight after last year’s late threatening frost and this summer’s rain.  The weather service announced that the first six months of 2008 were the wettest first six months of the year on record – we’ve never had a Jan-June stretch of wetter weather.

This is a North Star cherry tree – the other variety – Montmorency still has green balls for fruit.  This tree has already been picked a couple of days and has plenty more cherries ready to pick.  These cherries make great pies and jams.

one year ago…”Welcome Facets Readers”

June 28, 2008 – Des Moines Art Festival

Since Aunti Julie was here this weekend, we went to the Des Moines Art Fair.

Here Martin is amazed by a contraption that moves balls around a series of loops, falls, twists and turns.

You might recognize this guy from the July 21st Wind Turbine Dedication – one week at high hopes gardens, the next at the art fair!

The neices and nephew with auntie!

Linda seldom sees something that strikes her fancy – this artist, Mark Orr, had a series of ravens bearing keys in their mouths and Linda could not resist!  Here she is with the artist.

Here is the raven on its new perch in the living room near the front door.  One of the symbolisms of the raven and the key is the opening of doors and the welcoming of positive change into our lives.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #78″

June 27, 2008 – Chickens Need Rethinking

The loss of our local chicken locker threw us for a loop this year.  Instead of driving 20 minutes away and taking the chickens with us when we left, the closest other locker is an hour and 20 minutes away and we needed to take two trips, once to drop them off, then another to pick them up the next day.

The chicken raising business is perhaps the riskiest and least profitable enterprise we do.  Feed went up 25%, butchering cost doubled, and we used $70 in gas just to drop off and pick up the chickens at the locker.  I dropped them off on Wednesday and because of the longer trip to locker than usual and heat while we were waiting in line to start, we started losing chickens waiting in line.  I think we lost seven of the largest ones as they are most prone to overheat. Another person waiting with us had the same problem, but we were able to move about 50 of her chickens from her horse trailer to the empty box of the pickup.

The next episode was when Linda picked them up the next day – a storm had moved through the town before Linda arrived and power was out at the locker.  The locker owner understandably did not want to open the locker doors with the power off, because he wanted to keep as much cold in the locker while the power was off.  So more waiting while waiting for power to be restored.

We dropped about half the frozen chickens off with customers and kept the rest as a 50-50 mix between frozen and fresh for ourselves.  So this morning Linda and Emma worked on cutting up the chickens in meal-sized portions for quick winter meals.

We’ve been debating doing on-farm butchering, and the cost associated with the locker, the gas to drive there and the eight hours of time driving and waiting at the locker (not counting waiting for power to be restored) push us to think about that direction.

one year ago…”Milestones”