Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hay Is for Horses

We finally had a break in the rain to put up our hay.  We have great neighbors and friends, the Grubbs. They cut our hay, and they roll the first cutting into round bales for their cattle.  Then, they square bale the second cutting for our horses.  It's a great arrangement, and it gives us a chance to visit while working.  Life lately has been so busy, that I don't even get to visit with my friends very often, so I take what I can get.  

Stephen is in the pictures above.  Stephen and his dad, Jack, cut the hay, let it dry out and then bale it.  Frances and I stack it on the trailer.  Well, Frances stacks it.  There is a particular way to do it, and she knows how to do it right!  I was getting the hang of it a few hours in.  I'll probably forget by next year.  lol

Jason, another neighbor, came out and helped as well.  Our barn is in the background.  

I love this view.  Shannon and I dream of building a house up here one day.  The red barn above is part of Frances and Stephen's farm.  Our farm used to belong to Stephen's family, and his dad lived in our house for some time in the 40's and 50's.  

Our barn was built by Stephen's grandfather, Jack's father, in 1949.  It's the reason we bought our house.  It's such a nice barn, and keeps all our chickens, horses and Gandolf dry and cool.  Our other neighbor, Brad, got this hay elevator for us to borrow.  It's certainly a community event, putting up hay.  That's one of the reasons we love living in Rural Retreat so much--the sense of community. 

We ended up getting 362 bales of hay this year off of 5 acres.  I guess the rain wasn't ALL bad.  We gave Frances and Stephen about 25 for their horses, too.  I love having the hay up in the hay loft.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Down the Road

My friend, Maci, loves to ride, so before she headed off to college, we went for a little ride in my neighborhood one morning last week.  It was a beautiful, balmy day, and we really enjoyed ourselves. 
This is only Abby's 2nd official "trail" ride, and as you can see, Maci felt very comfortable on her--so much so, she was taking pictures as she mosey'd on down the road.  Bad, Maci!  lol

Abby does best in front, and Iney was OK with that.  We did a lot of trotting, and had a great time.  Until it decided to pour down rain on us!  Oh, well, it cooled us off and we were only a 1/4 mile from home.  We went about 4 miles or so and it was SO much fun!!!

 Abby wanted to go in the run in with her momma, Anna, and check out all the nice hay we put out for her.  

Iney wanted to show off her new shades.  Ha!  You have to have a sense of humor with this crazy animals!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ole' Trusty

I took Abby, our 3 year old Paint, out on her first trail ride Saturday.  Mark, the horse trainer wanted to go with me on our first ride, so we picked up a friend, Faith, and headed out to Cold Branch in Cripple Creek.  Abby hopped on the trailer, looking forward to her next adventure.  We noted that she was in heat, when Faith's gelding, Caller, came a callin'.  lol  Oh, well.  I wouldn't have ever known it was her time of the month, had she not peed every time she got close to her new boyfriend, Caller.  

 I hopped on her, and we rode off to the trail head.  She was curious, but very relaxed.  You can tell I was too, because I was able to take pictures of her maiden voyage.  

 There were 2 water crossings such as this.  She did great!  We're out in front in the above and lower picture.  

At this water crossing, the water hit her belly and she snorted a bit.  My feet got wet, but it felt great!  I'm so proud of this filly!

 She was shortly drinking and eating on the trail like any great trail horse!

 It was mostly a wooden path, with some mud, but nothing bothered Abby.  She remained calm, and seemed to really enjoy herself.  We opened a gate, rode through meadows, and crossed some treacherous water crossings.  She took it all in stride, though and didn't spook once.  

We took the lead the last leg of the journey.  She really liked being the boss.  Typical woman.  ha!  The scenery was gorgeous and I can't wait to take Ole' Trusty out on the trail again soon!

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Fresh One...

Look at what Gandolf killed last Saturday night in the barn!  Yay, Gandolf!  It was in the barn, where Gandolf sleeps, and he wasn't going to let this guy get near his chickens and turkeys!  I found it last night buried in front of the coop door inside the barn.  What a great dog!  (When HE isn't eating my chickens and turkeys!)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gooble, Gobble!

May 1st I went to Lights at Stone Mill in Abingdon and picked up 11 of these cuties...what are they???

Mammoth Bronze Breasted Turkeys.  The Toms should dress out at 40 lbs and the hens should dress out at about 30 lbs.  These are Christmas gifts for close family and friends that said they'd like one. 

This isn't the greatest picture, but here they are at 6 weeks.  They're growing like weeds and already gobbling.  I have to say, they are not the brightest of God's critters, but they are sweet and let me hold them.  I'll grow them until October or November and then I'll process them just like I did with the chickens.  YUM!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Butchering Nasty Beasties...

I never understood why many of my friends told me that chickens were nasty.  That they smelled and were...did I mention, NASTY?  Well, I do now.  Because many people have raised meat chickens.  In particular, Cornish Rock cross meaties.  I have had many chickens in one or more coops at a time, and I have to say, they have never had an odor, and I genuinely enjoy them.  I didn't enjoy raising these Cornish Rocks though.  Did I mention they were NASTY?  They stunk!  As soon as you would walk into our huge barn, the smell of unprocessed chicken poop would accost you, and you couldn't help but wrinkle your nose.  I added fresh bedding, changed the feeders, waters, cleaned them, did everything I could think of--but they still were the stinkiest birds EVER.  They just don't digest their food like regular chickens.  And they don't move around a lot.  They were so gluttonous, that they would fall asleep with their faces in the feeders to wake up to keep eating.  They were so immobile, they wore off the feathers from their breasts to their vents (bottoms). 

They start off cute like these little yellow chicks. 

 A week later...they are still cute....

 At 4 weeks, they have grown so much that chicks their same age look tiny compared to them...

 Here's a stock picture of a Cornish Rock Rooster.  We had several that looked like him.  Splayed legs, and big barrel chests.

 Here is the first one we caught and butchered.  As you can see, his chest feathers (those left) were soiled, nasty and crusted with poop.  YUCK!

I hung them "out to dry" essentially.  They go into a hypnotic state when upside down, then I cut their throats.  They quietly bleed out, and then we scald them.   If you want to see my past buchering post with step by step instructions, go here:

 This is the coolest chicken plucker EVER!  I went in with 4 families to buy the supplies, and our friend's husband, Andrew, put it together.  Check out how to make yours by Googling "Whizbang chicken plucker".  It worked beautifully!  This was the only positive about butchering the chickens...seeing how effective this thing worked!  Within 15 seconds, the chicken was perfectly plucked!  I have a video to share, but was having difficulty uploading it.  I'll try again.

 Here are some of the feathers from 8 chickens. 

 I saved the feet and necks for broth....

 And the livers for Shannon's Great Aunt that apparently makes the BEST fried chicken livers.  I say APPARENTLY because that turns my stomach.  However, I'm all about using all parts of the chicken and not wasting any...we also saved the heads and guts for the dogs.  They were quite happy with me.  I aim to please. 

 After finishing the cleaning, I put them in a large cooler with ice waterto let them CHILL OUT.  lol  ...where Hammish cat decided to get a sip of water.  Yuck!  Oh, well...all is well that ends well.  I now have 80 lbs of chicken in the freezer.  The roosters weighed in at 10 lbs fully dressed and the hens weighed in at 9 lbs fully dressed...and they were only 8 weeks old at butchering.  Crazy Mutant Natsty Beasties!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Snail Tails

In the midst of all this rain, I was leaving work one evening and looked down to find all these beautiful SNAILS crossing the sidewalk, hanging off the iris leaves, and in the dandelions.  The complexity of their shells and the beautiful colors intrigued me. Isn't God amzing to have created such an unusual creature?   I immediately ran in, put 6 in a cup and brought them home to Pyper.  She was enthralled by them.  Raegan really enjoyed them, too! 

Our nanny, Mrs. Carolyn, had raised snails many years ago, and taught the girls all about them.  Built a terrarium, and discussed how they ate, moved, where their homes were, how they are classified as mollusks, etc.  I tried to explain that snails were invertebrates, but got the glazed look from Pyper.  Perhaps that was a bit over her head...

Pyper loved to put them on her arms and watch the "SLIME" trail.  She identified their antennae and explained how they worked.  See why I love homeschooling??? This is just so cool!