Sleeping Like A Pig

     I thought I killed them.   "I killed the bees and now the pigs!!", was running through my head.  The morning after their first night here, I went to give the pigs breakfast.  This wasn't all that early mind you, maybe 9:30.  I called to them as I came out.  ......I've been practicing my pig call :-).  Nobody moved.  I opened the squeaky door.  Nobody moved.  I peeked in their dog igloo (which they love, but won't fit in for long) and yelled "time to wake up".  Nobody moved.  Did I see them breathing?  I started to panic.  I kicked the side of the kennel four times -- not all that gently.  Nobody moved.  I was distraught now.  I went to the front of the kennel thinking I was going to be pulling dead pigs out, when all of a sudden, deep scared oinks shot out!  I think I actually jumped off the ground!  I scared them and they scared me :-)

     I have never seen an animal sleep that hard before.  You've heard of "eating like a pig"?  Well, I'm coining a new term, "sleeping like a pig".   :-)

Of course, trying to get a picture of them sleeping didn't work :-)
Oh,.....they ended up with names.  Pinky and Gordo.

.....dr momi


Digging Holes

     Ya, so much for digging the holes before my tree/bush order came.  I picked them up this afternoon.  Five Nankin Cherries, five Highbush Cranberries, two Hazelnut trees, two Stanley Plum trees, one Lodi Apple tree, and ten Forsythia bushes.  Six holes are dug (this morning) and I'm dizzy and my knee isn't happy. .......and there was still some frost in the ground closer to the woods!!   My son helped plant the trees when I got home.  Thanks Matt!  Just the bushes left for tomorrow -- not as deep of holes :-)

     Rick put together and dug a hole for my mason bee house.  Let the orchard blossoms begin!  (But not too soon -- another week of low 30's nights is in the forecast!)

My mason bee hive is in place in the orchard. (Thanks Honey!)
The hole right next to it is where I am making a mud patch for the bees
 to plug the holes after they lay their eggs.
Check out my mason bee post under "bees" for more info on them.



Frisky's Progeny

Look what I caught a picture of hanging on the bird feeder!
Check out the funny/sad story about Frisky.

Weaners Are Ready

     No, I didn't misspell weaner.  (I may have misspelled, "misspell" but not weaner :-) Two weaned from their mother piglets, just joined the Redtail Ridge family today.  They are in their pen and secure as I write this. ......chowing down on quake grass roots!

     They have a job to do before they become food.  The job is to clear out another section of land behind the garden that will be used for growing grain to feed all my animals.  I'm taking this sustainability stuff to heart.  I want to be able to produce the food to raise my pigs and chickens and ducks.  Feed prices aren't going down!

     So far the piglets have taken their new job seriously and are rooting away out there furiously.  Man those noses are strong!

Starting at 40 lbs. each, they should be about 300 lbs. this fall.
Welcome to Redtail Ridge piglets!

     I watched the ducks race over to the pigs with their necks stretched long to see who just moved in.  The pigs had their noses to the air to smell who was coming to greet them.  It was so funny to watch.  About 15 feet away from each other everybody went back to grazing/rooting, and the official greeting was over :-) .

.....dr momi


Getting All My Ducks In A Row

Literally I guess too.....
The ducks love "bug finding" in the woods.

     Today "Miss Grey Duck" (she doesn't have a name :-) went broody.  She wanted to sit on the 5 eggs in her nest.  I wasn't ready.  Not enough pens for broody hens -- chicken or duck.  And the chicks growing in the garage needed to get outside.   So, the garage chicks got moved to the duck house today, of course then the ducks needed a  new pen.  .....and I still don't know where the duck can go broody and not be bothered by the others.  I'll have to keep picking up eggs until I'm ready to figure it out.

The chicks are now in the duck shed/pen which is rather open,
so, a garage sale $10.00 dog house is now their brooder.
  It's suppose to be cold and rainy the next few days.

The ducks are now in a temporary pen between the
 "chick shed" and the chicken run.  They don't have a shed but they
always sleep out in the open anyway.   I'm just hoping the fox doesn't make
a trip through the place tonight.

This is how I like to shore up the coop walls so
fox don't try to dig under.  The chicken wire is layed
 on the ground about one foot, and then up the posts.
Unfortunately, I don't have enough rock to shore
up the duck walls for tonight. (I've used a little bit
of "everything else" -- I hope it's enough.)
     When I moved the water tank that the chicks were in, I found the missing chick.  The store didn't miscount....It must have flown out and then got caught in a mouse trap.  Uugghhh.  It was one of the pullets.  The meat chicks wouldn't be able to fly that high. 

     Five ducks, twenty-three meat chicks and 5 pullets (will be layers) all in their new housing.

.....dr momi


Happy Easter!

     After I had this all made up and read it again I started to laugh  ---  if we all get pregnant it's not my fault!!  I mean,.... may we all have new life on our homesteads, and within our souls.  (If my kids get pregnant.....YES!)                         Happy Easter.....He is Risen!!!

.....dr momi


Not a Good Beekeeper :-(

     *Sigh*......I lost them all.  So many questions, "Did I spray them too much in the cold weather when I put them in?", "Did I shake them too hard getting them out of their box?", "Did I screw the bottom of my syrup solution on too tight and it wasn't dripping?", "Is trying to put new bees into a top bar hive crazy in 30 degree weather?"

      I checked them 2 days after I put them out, half of them were dead then.  Two days later they were all dead.  I'm evaluating what to do next.  I have all the equipment, I might as well get more if there are  any to get.  I may end up getting an established hive in May.

Here's something that surprised me. ......I actually got attached to the bees.
Caring for them was much like caring for the chickens.
(And loosing them felt just like loosing chickens)
 Now that has got to be the farmer in me!
.....dr momi


Happy GROWING Chicks

     The chicks just outgrew their water tank.  Usually by now I would have moved them from the garage to an outdoor pen.  It's way too cold yet.  (Very late spring!)  They are 3 weeks old now, and getting cramped.  Just so happens I have another old water tank.  So, I divided them up.

     This is a temporary situation that needs to be done, but, isn't something I like to do.  The reason being is, the chicks will really start in on a "pecking order" in the next couple weeks.  Some will be "top chicks" -- others not so much.  The ones at the bottom of the pecking order, will literally get "picked on" until every one is established into his spot.  Sometimes they will actually  peck a lower chick to death if you don't watch it.  After a while, everyone knows their spot and peace returns.

     The problem with making two separate "flocks" right now, is that when I do put them all together outside, a new pecking order will happen all over again.  It's tricky making sure you don't loose any.
Because I was counting to make it even, I realized I am missing a chick!
Pretty sure they miscounted at the store. :-(
Probably 1 more week in here before moving outside (with a light) .

2 weeks ago (already a week old)

...and today, 3 weeks old

.....dr momi


Official Wisconsin Cheese Curds

       I made them, so they are official because I live in Wisconsin :-)  Cheese curds are big here in Northeast Wisconsin.  Every Fri. you can buy them fresh from just about every gas station and grocery store.  Cheese curds are only good fresh, as in, made & then sold.  No putting them in the refrigerator.  If you do, they will loose their "squeak".  Did you know when you bite into fresh cheese curds they squeak?  Yup, they do.

     Anyway, if you're having a get-together and cheese curds are an appetizer, the party will have a great start! So, there are two cheeses I want to learn how to make.  Mozzarella for homemade pizza, and cheddar -- just for the cheese curds.  (And if I ripen some cheddar cheese, well yummy too.)

    Today I spent practicing making cheese curds, since I still don't have a cheese press.  Note to self : "put your glasses on when reading the thermometer."  I heated the milk to 80 degrees thinking I was reading 90 degrees on the thermometer.  Caught it after I put in the culture.  :-)  This is called "practicing".  I'm sure I'll get something fairly tasty......I'll have to come up with a "new name" for my!

Cutting the curd.  I have a very hard time making a straight cut!

Draining the curd.  (The whey is going into my breakfast shakes.)

"Docmom" Cheese Curds.
They look nothing like the ones we buy around here :-)
They do squeak
They taste pretty good.  (I'd put them out for a party.)
.......but I'm going to keep practicing.
.....dr momi


Sunday in Pictures

.....and the ears are up.

Rick got his early spring turkey.
In the rain, sleet, wind, & snow.
Does not sound fun to me :-)

Kerri's dog Peanut.
When she was a "peanut".
She is a Beagle/Pomeranian

Coloring Easter Eggs (Grandma had lots of duck eggs.)
Gracie, Brayden, Riley, Ryan, and Logan

Granddaughter Gracie gets her turn holding a chick.

 .....dr momi


The Bee's Are......Buzzin'?

     Hopefully the bee's are buzzing.  I just got my first bees today.  Guess that makes me an official beekeeper.  Whether I'll be a good beekeeper is yet to be seen :-)

     It's been a very crazy day.  I had bloodwork drawn early this morning.  Drove to pick up the bees  about 1hr. and 45 min. away.  Drove back home.  Picked up my grandson from pre-school.  "Ran" to the vet for Butsch's last set of shots.  Listened to Butsch "puke" in his kennel just before I got home. (Carsick from driving with me to get the bees.)  And then.......

     This rookie beekeeper had to get her bees into the top bar beehive.  Today's high was 39 degrees.  There has been 18 mile/hr. sustained winds with 40 mile/hr. gusts.  I have a gut feeling this isn't good for the bees.  Somehow, the bees are in the hive, the queen was still alive and put into place, the pollen was attached to the side wall, the sugar syrup was in place, and the cover with a cement block on it was in place.  If this all's to honey and beeswax later on this fall!

The bees sat on the kitchen table while I ran to the vet.
From the car to the house, did they get mad!  They were a buzzin' then!

Grandson Logan was amazed.......

.....dr momi


Chicken Disaster

      Not mine.  My daughter's.  Today the outside "barn dogs" pretty much wiped out her little flock.  It was her first flock of chickens.  Kerri spent a good part of last summer getting her coop and run put together, and was just finally really enjoying them. The dogs never seemed to bother the ducks that run freely around her in-laws barn.  Thinking they would leave the chickens alone too, she let the chickens out to "bug-hunt".   Not a good ending.

     Last year I raised way too many pullets.  More than I knew I could keep.  I did it on purpose, figuring Kerri would be ready for a flock.  I gave her 3 laying hens and 3 banty's.  Of course it had to be the 3 hens, and one of the banty's that didn't make it.

     I still have more hens than I need in my flock.  I have them for "such a time as this"  ---  insurance in times of disaster.  Now that they are laying an egg each, every day, there is no way I can use 7 eggs a day.  Especially when I have duck eggs for baking too.  So, my little flock will get split up again.  She will take 3 laying hens.  That will leave me 4 hens, 2 banty's (to hatch eggs), and Cookie Monster (the rooster).

     Six pullets are growing up with my meat chickens, that will be the start of next years flock.  Kerri will be leaving her chickens in the run, and I better not have a run-in with the fox!

Two hens didn't show up for the family portrait......the flock, soon to be split again.

My daughter Kerri (....and Belle and Peanut)
Mama to Remington, and wife to Jason.
Very upset "chicken mama" today.
.....dr momi


Finishing Up That Maple Wine

     Got my One Step out and sanitized my secondary fermentor (a gallon jug), my siphon, and the airlock.

Once the siphon gets going, it does it all by itself.

I always make sure to label it with
 the kind of wine and date started.
This has the stopper in with a hole in it
for the airlock.

The airlock lets the wine "bubble", but keeps
out stray yeast.  Here the airlock gets filled with water.
 Now, let it "do it's thing".  No worry about popping the stopper.

      The calendar has been marked "rack the maple wine" for 3 weeks down the road, and the maple wine has joined the elderberry wine on the top of the basement steps.  A place that is not too hot and not too cold.  ......and we wait.

.....dr momi


Snow Drift Unveiling

     The snow melted -- a lot .  Yesterday it was in the high 70's.  (Friday's high is suppose to be 39 degrees -- only in Wisconsin). Snow doesn't hang around long at that temp.  Look at what I found in the orchard.

     I wonder what I was digging, and what seed I was collecting, just before the first snowfall last year.  I really have no recollection.  Now, if the kids were still home, I'm sure I would have blamed one of them. :-)

The same snow drift did some early pruning on this apple tree. 
The bottom three branches are all broken.

      .....dr momi


Chicks Are Here


     I blew it with getting my chicks ordered early enough with Murray McMurray.  They wouldn't be able to fill my order for 20 jumbo cornish cross chicks until May 30th.  My fault for waiting so long.  If I got them that late we would be in the middle of really hot weather when they seem to be the most vulnerable --- a couple of weeks shy of butcher time.  They just can't handle the heat when they are that big.  So......
     I checked over at our new Tractor Supply store.  They had some cornish cross chicks in (not the jumbo) that were already a week old.  They fed them and used their electricity......that's a good deal :-)!

I said, "I'll take 20"
She said, "There's only 3 left, do you want them?"
I said, "sure".
23 meat chicks living in the old water tank in the garage.

Grandson Ryan's quote of the day, "It's licking me."  lol

"Riley, look at Grandma......Riley look at Grandma".
Holding a chick takes a lot of

.....dr momi


Sunday in Pictures

I racked the elderberry wine again. I had to taste it.....
 Do believe we have a blue ribbon winner here!
(Really.....a blue ribbon at the Shawano County!)


We have had an ear drop......


Rick took nephew Alex out on his last youth turkey hunt.

Got it at 7:20 a.m..
17 3/4 lb.
10 1/2 inch double beard.
(All this info is needed if you are a turkey hunter.)

He was happy. :-)

Maple Sap Wine

     Twenty-six quarts of maple syrup and Rick ran out of firewood.  It's all we need. (For friends, family, and ourselves.)  As he pulled the taps Tue., he collected 12 gallons of sap for me.  I want to try Maple Sap Wine.  I've never made it before.

12 gallons of maple sap cooked down to 1 gallon.  (What a mess in the house -- more wood next year!)
1 lemon sliced thin
1 campden tablet (I decided to use it this time, because they say this wine is better after 1 yr. -- it will help preserve it)
1 package of wine yeast

Put cooked down sap into primary fermentor.
(That has been rinsed with "One Step")
Add the sliced lemon and campden tablet.

Only "I" would pull out a fillet knife (for fish) to cut the lemon because
it's the sharpest knife in the house!

It's a big bucket for 1 gallon of wine ( 5 bottles) :-)

Cover with your plastic bag and rubber band string.
Let everything sit overnight.

The next day, stir in the yeast.

This is the yeast the "wine shop guy" said to use for country wines.
I use his expertise.

Stir daily for 5 -6 days.  Use a dishwasher sterilized wooden spoon.
(Your house now smells like a brewery :-)
Pull out the bag of fruit, and squeeze every bit of juice out.  Siphon into your secondary
fermentor - a gallon jug. (That has been rinsed in "One Step")
Add your airlock. (That has been rinsed in "One Step")

For a dry wine, rack it at 3 weeks, and every 3 months for one year.  Then bottle.

For a sweet wine, rack at 3 weeks.  Add 1/2 cup maple syrup mixed in
one cup of water, and add to the secondary fermentor.  Repeat the process every six
weeks until fermentation does not restart with the addition of maple syrup.  Rack
every 3 months until one year old.  Then bottle.

I usually like a dry wine, but, I think this one might be good sweet.
(I'm thinking maplely...not sure....we'll find out!)

                                                                      .....dr Momi


Getting Ready To Make Wine

This is the product I start with.  One Step makes sure that all of your equipment is sanitized.
1 TBL. to a gallon of water.  Everything gets rinsed in it. 
 The package says you don't have to rinse it off,  but I do anyway.
Find it at your wine supply store.

The bag that my fruit will go in gets sanitized.
.....and the string with rubber band that will keep the plastic cover on my fermentor.
(Don't laugh that my string is binder twine :-)

This is the string and rubber band.  It will stretch to hold the plastic (I use a clean garbage bag)
on your primary fermentor.  This keeps unwanted yeasts out, but lets the fermentor "breathe".
Cut your string about 5 inches too short for the circumference of your fermentor.
Tie the ends to a rubber band.  Works like a charm.

My primary fermentor is a 5 gallon pail.  The inside gets rinsed with One Step.  
I have it labeled "wine" so that is the only use this bucket gets.
 I don't know about your house, but here, if it doesn't have a label on it
it could get used for any odd job......and some of those jobs are not things
I want in my fermentor!!

     Yesterday and today my house is like a sauna.  There is moisture on the windows because I am reducing 12 gallons of maple sap down to one gallon --- in the house.  Tomorrow.........the recipe for Maple Sap Wine.