Friday, November 30, 2012

Who Should Go?

A couple of people have expressed interest in purchasing sheep for lawn-mowing purposes.  I don't really want to sell any of the ewes, and I have already promised Thing 2 (and another sheep) to a co-worker, so I guess I am looking at Buddy, Sam, Koa, or Hulu - or any two of them.  The new ram lamb and Elvis, I am keeping.

To be honest, I wouldn't mind getting rid of Elvis, but he's too dangerous to sell to anyone who has small kids (as both of my prospective buyers have).

I'd like to use the money from these sheep to buy a new ram and to put into buying materials for the ram pen.

It's surprisingly hard to sell the sheep - but that is kind of what they are for and we are certainly over-run with more males than we need.  It's hard to go from too many to hoping nothing happens to your ram and your back-up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nice Surprise!

Not a total surprise - I did know Niele was due soon - but came home to a lamb in the pen.  He was born out in pasture and actually made it in with the rest of the flock.  He must have been born this morning, because he's all dry and clean and lively. 

And he's HUGE.  He's bigger than Thing 2, who is coming on 7 weeks, I believe.  I was kind of hoping for a throwback to grandma, who was Dodie and looked very Barbado-ish, but he's a lovely black lamb with a white cap on his head and two white stockings on his hind legs.  Handsome, even if I do long for more variation on the baa, baa, black sheep run we've got going here. 

I love it when things go well without me worrying about them.  I took a look at her last night and thought we had several days to go.  I guess she had me fooled. 

She's a noisy mom - calling when he is standing right there next to her.  She was like that the first time, too.  She had triplets her first time out.  Maybe she things she's missing some lambs here - but he's enough lamb to cover two and a half of her last three. 

They both seem healthy and I hope it continues that way, because losing two sheep in the last month was rough. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First Pressure Canning

Since my kids didn't like the frozen turkey soup, I decided to try my hand at canning it.  I have cooked in the pressure cooker (beans and taro - separately, not together, of course) but I haven't tried canning.  I am getting wildly different canning times, depending on which recipe I am looking at.  I don't quite know which time to pick - it ranges from 25 minutes to 75 minutes!  I guess I will go with the longer time, just in case - and hope my jars don't explode in the canner. 

Hopefully, I will also have time to pull back the black plastic and turn over the soil in the outside garden.  It's time to plant broccoli and lettuce!  Since we took down the fencing to make a pen around the taro patch, I am not sure how I am going to keep the hens from scratching up my seeds - or Melly from digging her little holes. 

I let some poha grow where my bean and cucumber supports are and it is sure taking over.  I like poha, though, and so I am more inclined to move my supports than dig it up.  We used to have lots of poha here, but it all disappeared for a few years.  Poha is a yellow-orange berry that grows in a husk like a tomatilla.  It makes a great jam, and would probably make a good substitute in a relish for cranberry, in case I do reach my all-homegrown Thanksgiving next year. 

Lepo's dressing came off, and it was probably a good thing.  She's not bearing much weight on the affected foot, but the flesh exposed by the missing claw seems to be toughening up and it is dry and not infected.  I will give her one more day of penicillin and talk to the vet down in Hilo about whether to switch her to something else for a longer time.  It's still sunny and dry, so I let her out with the flock in the big pasture - it was my husband's idea, so she'd be encouraged to eat more.  Yesterday, she lay down a lot rather than grazing. 

Because we've had a such a wet year, the basement bathroom grout needed extra treatment.  I just tried some oxyclean, since scrubbing with a normal cleaner didn't do all that I wanted.  I hope this works! 

I think I am going to be exhausted heading into the new school week, rather than rested, but it isn't restful knowing that there is so much to be done at home, either.  At least, I hope I will have conquered the powdery mildew, gotten the garden ready for my greens and broccoli, and have a bunc of soup in my pantry! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunny Day - Time for Farm Inventory

One ewe has a claw injury - gave her a shot of penicillin and wrapped it well.  Put her and surviving bottle lamb in kalo patch to kind of weed around it and provide them with small safe place to be.  Quite a lot of horn missing, so not sure how that will all work out, poor thing.

Five grapefruit on previously non-productive tree!  Yay!

Lots of lemons, as usual.  Yay!  But not as exciting as new fruit varieties.

Olives are recovering well from inadvertent sheep pruning.

Sweet potatoes are flourishing.  Only one purple variety growing true - the rest have seemed to have crossbred into something new.

All cucurbits are covered in powdery mildew - sprayed them all with Neem oil solution.

Walked 6 miles, because it was a beautiful day.

Washed all the bedding, because it is both sunny and windy - so things dry faster. 

Fertilized all fruit trees after weeding underneath them - lemon, tangerine, orange, lime, guava, olive, jaboticaba, and banana. 

Got the kids to wash the cars, the dogs, and the windows for Christmas money.  Everything just feels cleaner!  

Tomorrow's tasks:  making turkey stock and putting it up and baking, probably pumpkin something or other.

Oh, and some grading.  Then it is time to head back to work. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looong Day!

Today was our Sophomore Biathlon at school.  The kids biked 10 miles and ran 3.  I stood at the finish and recorded 144 finishing times.  The funniest were the 3rd lappers, because we didn't reset the clock and they thought they took over two and a half hours and were sure they failed PE.  The clock was off by over an hour, so they were mostly all good. 

It made for a long day.  After that was done, I sat at my desk and graded LATE work.  There was so much of it, that I didn't get to the actually due work, which means that I will be working this weekend.  Oh well.

We lost one of the bottle lambs, which is sad.  We just couldn't get him to eat enough and he never ate the creep feed after Audrey died - he sampled it before she died, but then wasn't interested.  He did eat grass, but we were forcing him to drink milk replacer and he just wasn't getting enough.  We've done fairly well with our sheep at lambing, so I hope we can get back to the "hair sheep have so few problems with lambing" norm.  The other lamb, who was the weaker one at the outset, is eating well and spends his days out in the pasture with the flock.  We still keep him separate at night, so he won't get squished without a ewe to watch out for him.  He can see the other sheep on the other side of the wire divider and he just knows where to go at night.  It's been fairly chilly, so he sleeps in a bowl with high sides.

There isn't much else going on - we're staying home for Thanksgiving because I would like to spend some time with my older son - we only see him on Sundays for Mass and sometimes dinner after.  If we went to my brother-in-law's, he'd be off with his cousins and we wouldn't be able to talk much.  I wish my older daughter could come home, too, but she's staying with my mom.  We'll see them all at Christmas - which isn't that far away.

Next Thanksgiving, I hope that everything on the table, except the wheat for the bread stuffing, will be grown or raised on my place (we made the bread from bought flour - I guess that kind of counts).  This year, it's only the greens and the sweet potatoes that are grown here, but in March I am going to order turkey poults and I'd like to get some seed potatoes, too.  My sweet potatoes are already started.  I've only had luck with pumpkins one year, but maybe if I grow them in the greenhouse.... I would sure be proud of us, if we could grow or raise next year's feast!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Driving in the Dark

Although our day length is not as variable here in Hawaii as it is in more Northern Latitudes, it has shortened enough that it is fairly dark when I leave home and quite dark when I come home.  This means when I visit the animals, it is by flashlight, the out door garden has to wait for the weekend, and the greenhouse has this bizarre fluorescent light.  It's nice that my husband is home to feed the sheep, chickens and horse.  It was never fun to do it in the (relative) cold and dark by flashlight. 

It's a good time to start planning what should be done when there is more light to do it by.  Next year, I want to raise turkey poults.  I had been thinking meat chickens, too, but actually, we could put the current aging and much less productive hens in the freezer and concentrate on egg layers, as well as the turkeys.  We definitely need to build a ram pen and probably need to buy a new ram and sell some of these.  The bottle lambs will have a home when they're weaned, but I have two more wethers to deal with - sell or put in the freezer.  Currently, my freezer is full of that quarter cow and some fish we bought from a fisherman up the road. 

I always would like to expand my garden, but to be honest, I am not able to keep up with it with my job.  Maybe if we put in a new, bigger greenhouse with artificial light to work at night it would be more feasible. 

On a different note,  I have decided to can this year's turkey frame soup instead of freezing it.  When I froze it last time, the veggies just got a little too mushy.  I am going to see if pressure canning will preserve the texture better next time.  Anyone have any experience with this? 

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Job, Lava, and Peppermint

None of these things has any bearing on any of the others, except that because I moved positions, I have a different room and this one smells like peppermint for some undefinable reason. 

I love peppermint things - especially as we slide into the holiday season.  I really have been trying to exercise regularly and eat healthier, and I thought that these holidays wouldn't be too hard - I handled traveling in June fine, after all.  However, for the last week, I have been so sick with some kind of upper respiratory bug and have been eating far too many easy foods - I didn't feel well enough to plan for the Farmer's Market and I cleaned out and replanted my greenhouse just a few weeks ago, so there isn't anything really fresh at home, either.  (I do have say for myself that I have only asked for one piece of candy from the kids' Halloween goodies, though).  But right now, peppermint ANYTHING sounds wonderful. 

I have been in this new position for, ummm, 4.5 hours now.  I have had my prep period for the day and one class - which I hear is my bounciest (they were great and it was fun).  I am coming in the middle of a quarter, in the middle of a book, and a huge swathe of kids aren't doing well, so it was a little nerve-wracking this weekend. 

However, on the weekend, my husband and I took the opportunity to drive up to the Volcano.  Halemaumau crater is erupting - well, there's a glowing lava lake in the middle of this old crater - and it's visible from the Jagger Museum.  So we drove, stood there looking at it for 5 minutes or so, and then turned around to pick up the kids from the Homecoming Game.  Exciting. 

Actually, it was pretty cool, and you can see the fountaining at Puʻu Oʻo from the top of our road, too, so the volcano is pretty active at this time.  Unfortunately, with our current variable winds, that's meant that we've had vog.  Having lots of vog when you also have a sinus issue is NO fun, no fun at all. 

Okay, I thought I would distract myself with lava and bouncy kids - but I still want peppermint.  Sigh.