Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I really wanted to write an upbeat post about all the delicious foods I've been whipping up in my fabulous retro kitchen. However, the vicissitudes of life on the farm preclude me from doing so. There is much to report since my last post. I will try to be brief.

The Good

I made a lot of great stuff from scratch, like these loaves of bread:

And these precious 3 jars of loquat jam. About a third of the loquats came from our tree and the rest from a friend's backyard.

Ute and her friend Zoe and I went to pick Ollalieberries in Pescadero, but the crop this year was completely abysmal. After 2 hours of picking in the hot sun, without a lot of help from the short set, I gleaned approximately 2 pounds of berries. No Ollalieberry jam this year. So we went next door for some strawberries. Again the girls didn't quite take to task, as illustrated in their mostly empty berry baskets.

But I got some more red juiciness for the freezer and a few pints of jam out of the deal.

Other foods included pita bread, hummus - cooked those chickpeas and everything -, and yogurt, which turned out a bit grainy. Tasted fine, but I guess to get that real creamy texture that you find in the store you have to add pectin, gelatin, guar gum, or other additives. I used an electric mixer to smooth it out. It kinda worked.

In other news, we are making a lot of progress in the backyard with the help of our friend Daymon. He's building the fence, digging trenches, pouring concrete, and moving crap around so that we can move the animals to their more permanent location in the yard.

The little chooks have finally graduated to the big house. I wasn't quite ready to do that since Pearl is still sick, but it was either move them out of the garage or end up in divorce court. I chose my marriage over the chickens, which I hope is happy news to my DDF (Dear Disgruntled Farmhand). And after just under a week of separation from the flock, foot soaks, and antibiotics, Sweet Pea's toe is doing great.

The goats are fabulous. They are not tame yet, but are eating out of our hands. We are moving in the right direction.

The Bad

Poor Sweet Pea. Her toe was getting so much better and then I had to go and almost kill her again. I must have some weird karmic relationship with that bird because I keep inadvertently trying to do her in. I was cleaning out the chicken house, keeping the birds on the other side of a low, makeshift partition - think scrap plywood board - and things were going swell. I had to move in and out of the coop to bring the hose and the bucket of soap, etc., but I checked the door every time to make sure I wasn't squishing any meandering peeps. On my way back from one trip, I noticed that Lorraine was trying to fly over the partition and sneak out under the coop (usually this area is blocked off by aforementioned plywood board). So I pushed the run back, hoping to keep her in for a few seconds longer so I could get the board back in place. I went to put the board back, opened the door and noticed that Sweet Pea seemed stuck between a cinder block and the bottom board of the door frame. Then I realized that she wasn't stuck between, she was jammed underneath the run, the entire weight of it crushing down on her little body. I freaked. I screamed. Loud. Probably scared the neighbors. I swept Sweet Pea up and brought her into the garage so that Ute could tend to her. Ute starting crying that Sweet Pea was going to die. I assured her that she just needed to rest after her ordeal. She was still breathing. A little limp, but breathing. Meanwhile the hose that I was using to wash down the coop was leaking, spraying water everywhere. The chicks by now had all escaped, running underneath the coop and out into the neighbor's yard. It was utter chaos. But don't worry, this tale ends well. I collected the chicks, turned off the water, secured the coop, and brought Sweet Pea upstairs to watch Barney with Ute. The TV worked like a charm and Sweet Pea is again right as rain. Ute... well I will put some money in the therapy jar for this one.

The Ugly

This is the most difficult news to report. Pearl is not doing well. This morning she seemed more lethargic than usual and extremely stuffy and sneezy. Miss Lorraine recovered from this cold/conjunctivitis thing rather quickly. Pearl just seems to get worse every day. This afternoon I went to take some photos and I found her looking miserable. I picked her up and she drooped in my hands like a rag doll. I laid her down while I went to find a box to separate her from the others and she went limp on her side. I thought she would die then and there, but she continued to breath. She is now closed off inside the kitchen where I've been keeping her hydrated and dosing her with Sweet Pea's antibiotics. Normally I wouldn't give a chicken antibiotics, but since they are not laying yet and I don't have a very large flock, I want to prevent as much death as possible. Although I didn't suspect Coryza at first, I'm now thinking that this may be what is going around the flock as Pearl is displaying the telltale sign of foul smelling breath along with the other upper respiratory symptoms. Three of the young chicks seem to be immune to whatever this is. I keep hearing her sneezes and croaky chirps from the kitchen so I'm assuming Pearl is still giving it a fight. Please think healthy thoughts for this poor chook. Ute will be devastated if she loses her chicken.


  1. Oh, good lord! Zoe and I can barely stand it. We'll light a candle for the chicks and send some lighter feet your way when cleaning the coop.

    Thanks for your rip roaring entertaining blog, Heidi.

  2. Thanks for another chuckle...also lighting candles for Pearl.