Monday, November 28, 2011

Blood Thirsty Hens and Killer Pumpkins

I'm so sorry for the lag in posts, dear readers. The past couple months have been rough. I never fully recovered from that virus and then got another one on top of that. Basically, I've been feeling like crap for the past eight weeks and haven't felt motivated to write as the farm has gone to pot while I've been struggling to just get by. It happens.

This has been a shit time to get taken out of commission too, since it is the start of the rainy season, or what I like to refer to as "vermin season". In search of a dry place to nest, our most tenacious nemesis this year has been not the rat, but the mouse. Those little fuckers have infested our basement and backyard, leaving droppings and shredding any scrap of paper or fabric in their path. But the great thing about mice is that they are stupid, unlike rats who tend to outwit every evil plan I have come up with for their demise.

So far, these jaw traps have been the shiznit. They practically have a no-fail rate compared to the standard snap traps. Unfortunately, the mice seem to be reproducing faster than I can trap them. It's time to bring out the big guns.

One of the best methods that I have used for killing vermin is this pumpkin trap thing that I came up with. I take a leftover from Halloween, cut open the top like a jack-o-lantern lid, fill the bottom with a mixture of animal feed and plaster of Paris, cut a small hole a little larger than a quarter in the side, and replace the top. The rodents come in through the hole, as they are attracted to squash seeds and eat the feed and plaster mixture. Then the next time they drink water, the plaster hardens in their stomachs and kills them. Not the nicest way to go, but a vast improvement over poison as it is of no danger to rodent predators. The brilliance of this method is that no other animal can unwittingly access the plaster-laden feed.

Inadvertently, I found that chickens can be a big help in pest control. The other day I was out de-lousing the goats (another issue during the rainy season) when I heard something that sounded like a dog playing with his favorite squeaky toy. I thought to myself "I've never heard a chicken make THAT noise before." Then I saw what Cleo, the Ameraucana, had in her beak. She was pummeling that poor thing to the ground, a wheezy squeak emanating from the tiny creature with each voracious peck. The mousey didn't stand a chance. Those chickens will literally eat anything. If I ever faint in the animal pen, I can guarantee that I'll be a goner. The girls peck at me every time I'm in there like I'm something real tasty. Don't they know that I'm the one who feeds them?

Cleo paraded that mouse around like it was the biggest, juiciest worm she had ever found. The other ladies were so jealous, chasing her around the yard in a futile attempt to snatch the critter. What a cluckin' kerfuffle! Remember kids, chickens aren't benign, docile creatures. They are killers. Possessive, blood-lusty killers. Approach with caution.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Am Thankful for Modern Appliances Because Sometimes Doing Everything by Hand Sucks

I finally caved. After five years of hand washing dishes, I couldn't take it anymore. I've always found dishes to be a most unpleasant task and my recent bout with that nasty virus really sealed the deal since even the most basic of activities became virtually impossible due to crippling viral fatigue. Also the mountain of dirty pots and pans on the counter that never seemed to shrink had become a serious point of contention between me and the hubby. It was either a dishwasher or a divorce. The dishwasher seemed like the least complicated option.

Isn't it beautiful? There's a part of me that feels like a failure for not being able to do my washing up the old school way, but then after I thought about it for a while I realized that I would never consider washing all of my clothes by hand. So why shouldn't I feel the same about my plates and glassware? There's something about the dishwasher that seems so bourgeois, just another First World energy and resource suck. Hopefully, the fact that the solar panels will offset the energy use will assuage my guilt on some level.

Because honestly, who wants to spend an hour at the sink with this pile

when your robot can do it so much better?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's Nog Season

I feel strange talking about the most glorious seasonal drink in a post directly following one on harvesting a melon, but such is life here in our temperate coastal town. The holidays are upon us and that can mean only one thing to me: eggnog. Fuck the turkey, the pies, the carb laden meals, the gifts, the holiday spirit... whatevs. I love me some frothy, creamy, rich eggnog. Without alcohol. Hey, when you're consuming a quart of this stuff every one to three days, the last thing you need is to be a drunk in addition to clogging the arteries.

And I'm not exaggerating about my consumption levels. But fortunately for my inner highways and byways, we're only getting about two eggs per day here on the farm. So that means I can only drink a quart every three days, at the most, with the recipe I use. Here it is for those looking to overindulge, but not be butt ass wasted this holiday season.

Eggnog (for your inner teetotaler)

6 eggs
3 cups full fat milk or half milk, half cream
8 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. good quality vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

First, whip the shit out of those eggs with an electric mixer. I don't make a cooked version of eggnog because... well... I'm lazy and I know that my eggs are fine raw. If you are buying yours from the supermarket, I'd go with cooking. Some recipes call for separating the eggs and beating the yolks and whites individually before combining again. Sounds like extra work to me so I don't do it. Next, beat the sugar into the fluffy eggs with the mixer. Add the milk. Since the milk I get from the goats is so high in butterfat, I don't bother with cream. The egg and dairy products here are plenty rich to make a thick enough beverage. Again, if you are shopping at the supermarket, you'll probably want to add some cream to get the right noggy consistency. Blend in the vanilla - don't skimp on quality here, we all know how nasty low grade vanilla extract can taste - and the nutmeg until fully combined.

Chill and enjoy! I add mine to coffee and the copious amounts of black tea that I drink. A small glass is also a lovely before bedtime treat. I usually let the daughter have a glass a day and lucky me, the husband will only have a taste now and again in his coffee. The rest is all mine. ALL mine.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

An Itty Bitty Melon

Well it certainly wasn't big, but since it was starting to get a little soft on the vine, I thought I better harvest it. Actually, it may have been the smallest melon ever grown. It must have come from some random honeydew seed that I saved last summer from a melon that a farm sitter left at my house. It was sweet and delicious and we savored it like a devout Catholic would with the Sunday sacrament (I love religion solely for the awesome metaphors).

I don't know if I will attempt melons again next year. You never know. The first time I tried my hand at  tomatoes, I came up empty handed and now I can grow them like weeds. Maybe, just maybe, that will happen with melons. Fingers crossed.

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