Friday, July 20, 2012

Eat Or Be Eaten......

I recently posted on my Facebook page about a blue racer that was hopelessly tangled in a mess of netting.  I saved him from certain death and set him free.  I was asked why I would bother, since I seem to be quite blas√© about killing critters on our farm.  Let me explain. I believe that all life is important and sacred – I really do.  I believe each of us, from myself to the microbes in the soil, has a purpose on this earth.  When I lovingly (yes, lovingly) raise an animal who will eventually fill our freezer – that is his/her purpose.  I treat them with respect and dignity from birth to death, as every being SHOULD be treated.  With that said, was I going to eat the snake? No.  Was he interfering with creatures or plants that have the purpose of nourishing my family? No.  Was my life or the life of a loved one in mortal danger due to his continued existence? No.  Was he POSTIVELY affecting my life? Yes.   Even without answering the last question, I would have attempted to save him (her?).  This snake had done me no harm, nor was he in a position to harm any of those around me.  He was only in the predicament he was in because of me.  He was just trying to do me a favor (even if he didn’t know it) by killing off the mice in the chicken coop who ARE affecting things around here negatively. (Eating holes in my grain bags, pooping on everything, getting into the feed dishes, etc).   I hope this may help those who don’t understand the thoughts behind respectful farming practices. 

I had a bit of time this morning to do a morning garden harvest.  The garden is really putting out for me lately.  The purple beans are in full swing….I hope I get even ½ as many beans off the pole beans.  It’s a shame they don’t keep their lovely purple color after cooking as they would be gorgeous in a jar.  I thought I would snap a quick picture of my morning “trip to the grocery store” (a.k.a. results of chores).  I have ONE chicken who must be the early bird everybody is always talking about.  Even if I go out at 7 am (about the earliest I might mosey out there) she has one nice large egg waiting for me.   She is my egg eater so she isn’t with the other girls and lays her solitary daily egg in a swimming pool full of hay in my tack room.  Luckily she doesn’t eat her own eggs.  So as of 8am this morning we have: one egg, ½ gallon of milk, 6 yellow squash, one zucchini, a large hand full of purple beans, a small head of cabbage, two carrots and a few springs of basil. 

Spinning….sigh….just NOT getting the hang of it.  My hours of outside-the-home work have increased and will continue to do so for the next couple of weeks.  I have laid down the fiber and pushed the wheel aside until I get a few days to really concentrate on it.  However I’m wondering if I just don’t have the coordination to get a good twist going with just one hand and getting the wheel spinning with the other?  The possibility is pretty high also that I don’t have the confounded thing set up right. 

Soap making has for now, gone the way of the spinning wheel.  Too many hours spent outside the home (and blogging of course) to really have the time to concentrate on it right now.  All my supplies, except I am determined I need to by a small digital scale, are amassed and awaiting my orders!!  However if anybody comes across any interesting and unique items to use as molds, let me know. 

We had some more very hot days here on the farm….blech!!  However I found some clever treats on-line that I made for the chickens and the pigs.  They were a smashing success if you ask the pigs and pretty “ok” if you ask the chickens.  Here is the “recipe” I made.  I took two slightly overgrown yellow squash from the garden and diced them into small cubes.  I also cut a handful of lemon balm and spearmint from the garden.  After mincing up the mints, I used muffin tins and ice cube trays and put a good pinch into each cavity.  I added diced squash to about the top then filled with water.  After freezing I feed these to the pigs and literally got a standing ovation. Okay maybe they were just jumping for the treats, but the piglets WERE on their back legs!!  I finally have won over all the pigs now.  The chickens were just a bit more hesitant and decided they should be smaller for them next time…..or they will just let them thaw a bit first like they did this time.    I think I will try another batch for both the chickens and the pigs and use some goat’s milk just to up the nutritional value some.    I wonder if I could come up with a good recipe for the goats using a treat or food in ice.  Any thoughts?  I know I’m going to have to get some treats for the dogs that won’t turn to mush when wet and make a few in butter dishes for the dogs, I bet they would love them. 

I’m seriously thinking of adding bunnies to the homestead.  I found a great deal on a couple of used cages and since I hate to see wasted (i.e. unused) space I’m thinking of hanging them above my chicken coop.  As usual at Cornerstone Acres, this will fit a dual purpose.  As I haven’t wanted to attempt vermiculture (and probably never will), I will be allowing the chickens to “clean up” the rabbit droppings and any spilled feed.  With a nice cement floor to clean up a few times a year, I am hoping I will have a nicely mulched up bunch of bunny/chicken manure to add to the compost or garden.  I would hang the cages inside and eventually a place will be put off the back of the shed to allow for an outside run. Again this area is just more wasted space that seems to be there only for the amusement of chickens while they tear it up.  I would love to get a pair of Satins.  From what I’ve been reading these are nice dual purpose rabbits (again that phrase – Dual Purpose) producing both meat and hides.  However that means one more project - tanning hides.  But have you SEEN the satin hair?  Oh, so pretty!! I think I would end up having a dozen or more lovely hides hanging in my home, right along with the Jacob lamb, skunk and deer hides I have.  I would also love to have a hat and some gloves that are bunny fur lined….how absolutely divine that sounds. 

Here are the cages I found
Here is where I will hang them. Chickens do NOT normally have access to this area so won't be soiling the rabbits.

Here is where the run (or runs) would come out.  One may share a fence with the chickens.

Well, until next time……….

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