Sunday, July 28, 2013


We've taken a step back from buying a goat.  As I said in the final line of my last post, I was feeling like this goat was taking over my life, and I wasn't liking that feeling.  We were talking to a goat farmer who mentioned that we should register any goat we bought in my daughter's name, because she would be showing it in 4H.  Later my daughter took me aside and asked quietly if having her name on the goat meant that she had to take care of it.  It gave me pause.  She clearly does not understand the meaning of showing animals through 4H and everything that entails, because, yes, she would need to care for the goat. 

I realized that my daughter wants to be the goat's "auntie", not "mommy".  She wants to play with it, brush it, shave it and trim nails (if she feels inclined that day) and then leave it with someone else to clean the barn, nurse it when it is sick, and to do the drudge work of feeding and watering it every day. If we boarded it most of that would be taken care of, but the farmer did note that most people end up taking the goat home, because they get tired of driving back and forth all of the time.  I knew that I would end up the primary caretaker, even if my daughter did do much of the physical care, it  was going to be up to me to provide the necessary nagging to insure that it actually happened.  Goats can live 14 years, my daughter will probably be home for seven more and then be sent off to college.  In order for goats to give milk they have to have babies pretty regularly, I could see the future, the passionate pleas to keep the cute little babies,  and me left with a full herd to care for.

I spoke with the farmer and let her know that I needed more time to think about it and that I didn't think that we were ready to make the jump.  She suggested that we lease a goat instead, we can legally drink milk from a goat we are leasing.  I haven't seen any paperwork yet, but it sounds interesting.

As I said before, all this for pudding!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

All this, for Pudding

Before I dive into my topic today, I just thought I would note that we were very happy to discover that the baby bunnies are alive despite all of their early trials.  My daughter and her friend spotted them hopping out of the zebra grass onto the lawn yesterday evening. 

Onto my topic:

I would really love to have a glass of milk, but at the moment I cannot.  A glass of milk will probably cost me in the neighborhood of $200-350, to start, and I will have to wait a year for it.  I haven't had cow's milk since 1995 when I discovered that the reason I was always sick was that I was flooding my system with a food that I loved, but sending my immune system into the stratosphere.  My sister's allergist suggested that she give up milk to see if it helped her and within a few days she was on the phone with me saying, "You have to give up milk, just for a few days, to see what happens!"  I did.  Within three days I realized that I was making myself sick with cow's milk, my energy returned, my skin cleared, my head stopped hurting, the fog was a revelation.

I'm allergic to cow's milk and anything with the slightest trace of cow's milk.  It took a while in the early dark days of the internet to find all the secret names of cow's milk that appear on food labels and all the sneaky places that it turns up--canned tuna for example, who would think to check canned tuna for cow's milk products??? Frozen whole chicken breasts? Whole turkeys (injected with broth and whey for moistness)?? Pepperoni?  French fries? Salt and Vinegar chips??  It was goodbye to most of the processed foods in my diet.

To get real milk, I have to have goat's milk, which isn't easy.  The goat's milk and goat's milk powder available in grocery stores tastes like the smell of a male goat when the females are in season, "musk" is too nice of a word for it, "rank" and "stench" are getting closer. 

I know from experience that goat's milk directly from the farm can be glorious, in Florida it was pretty easy to find.  I just had to tell the farmer that it was for pets and/or livestock and they could sell it to me, in the state where I live now that won't work.  There are no dairies that have processing facilities in the area, so to have a glass of milk I am going to have to buy a goat.  Since we don't have the facilities or experience of raising goats and since we can't afford to buy two (or more) and equip a mini farm, I am buying one and it will board with a farmer not too far away.  She'll provide the care it will need and lots of buddies to hang around with. 

I'll get the milk.  I'll be able to make pudding that sets, a white sauce once in a while, my decaf will taste better and it goes really well with Oreos (thank you Nabisco for taking the milk out of Oreos a couple of years back, I had missed them) and big slices of cake (the couple of times a year that I have them).  I will make my own yogurt and cheese and not have to drive nearly thirty miles to the closest health food store.

I like the idea that it is not a highly processed food like soy milk and almond milk, that the calcium in it is not just calcium supplements ground up and blended into it.  It has significant protein, unlike rice milk and almond milk. 
Best of all it tastes like milk, cow's milk drinkers might disagree, but it tastes like milk to me, a person who hasn't had milk (on purpose) in 18 years.

My daughter, who has spent many of her weekends over the years on goat farms is ecstatic, she loves goats.  In Florida, it took about two hours every weekend to buy our milk. She loves the fact that we will go visit our goat regularly, she has been helping the farmer already trimming hooves and shaving them.  We haven't even picked out our baby yet, we need to look at some that have been born already on another farm and decide if we want one of those or one that will be born in September from one of the sweet and very pregnant goats we have met so far.  My daughter is all ready to show it in 4H, we just found a group nearby...this goat may take over our lives.  All this for pudding.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Conflicted Gardener Follow Up

Nature is a cruel thing.  My husband thinks that found Mama Bunny in a patch of weeds in the back yard, she didn't seem to have any injury, but she was stiff and there were flies hovering around her.  I didn't get a chance to go out that evening before the sun set. When I went out the next morning, there was no sign that she had ever been there.  Some creature of the night probably dragged her into the woods nearby.

We haven't seen her in several days, so I am guessing that it really was her not some other rabbit out there.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Baby Bunnies--The Conflicted Gardener

Finding a nest of baby bunnies turns everyone to mush, but upon reflection the gardener in me says, "Oh, no!!"

My sister and her husband came to visit for several days. After seeing the sights and kicking back they, usually busy people, suddenly needed to do something productive.  My brother-in-law keyed in on the over-grown mass of zebra grass that I had done battle with in May only to extract a tiny piece of it.  So, after dinner one evening he headed out back with a shovel and proceeded to dig out half of the mass for me.  It was only after we had removed one of the two giant clumps and used a pruning saw to chop it into three smaller sections did he head over to remove the second.  It was then he noticed the fluffs of fur, the little ears, the baby bunnies, who nested between the ginormous clumps.  Before he had started the project he asked about the variety of snakes that lived around us, but it never occurred to him to inquire about bunnies.

For the last couple of weeks we had noticed that around dinner time a good sized wild rabbit was hanging about near our back door.  Not usually a problem except for the good sized pointer who comes down the stairs every evening for her walk and bolts across the yard in frenzied pursuit of this bunny  with an unprepared human hanging on to the other end of the leash being jerked down the  three steps and across the lawn, struggling to get a foothold to pull the scent crazed dog back.

We had thought that maybe a neighbor had been feeding the rabbit, because it didn't seem to run whenever we came out the door, it just sat and watched us.  I started calling the rabbit Pierre, it was such a regular.  Well, now we know, I had it all wrong, this was no Pierre, Paige maybe, but not Pierre.  She was just guarding her nest and providing a diversion for the dog.

Standing over the little cuties we all started trying to figure out how to cover them up without hurting them and to encourage their mom to return.  We covered them with some of the straw mulch from an empty bed in the garden (where I had planted cantaloupe seeds only to find that something, probably a rabbit, had chomped the tops off of the two week old seedlings) to simulate the removed grass.

The chickens, sensing freshly turned soil, started scratching away, quickly removing some of our new mulch layer.  I set my daughter to pruning a lilac bush that had not had any care for probably a decade or two, and she laid the leafy branches gently over the nest.  Meanwhile I replanted the zebra grass on the steep hillside on the northwest side of the house to help reduce erosion.

Paige was seen in the yard this morning, not near the nest, but she is still around.  We haven't dared peek in on the little ones in case the worst has happened.  The zebra grass looks like it will take on the hill, I just need to water it a bit today. Now there is a known technique for getting the mass of grass removed and divided, my husband and I will remove the second clump in a few weeks when  the babies are grown and out.

After doing all this I laugh at myself, I'll probably spend the next couple of years trying to find creative ways to keep those little ones, and their babies, out of my garden. Dividing up the grass will create more bunny nesting spaces too!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Seeing Red...Berries


The raspberries are ripe!  They grow with no attention needed, just mowing to keep them from taking over the yard.  I picked about a pint of them in six minutes this morning, and then went back later to pick three more pints.  I decided the rest can wait until dinner time when they will be shaded, it is 87 degrees and nearly eighty percent humidity, there's no need to cook  myself out there.

 The only drawback to picking raspberries is in their defense mechanism, many tiny velcro-like prickles with a few larger firmer thorns, to get at the really good ones I need to wear pants and in this heat that is challenging.

nasty little prickles

Thai Take out tray of Berries













I made raspberry syrup this afternoon and I will probably make raspberry pancakes one day this weekend (Sunday??).  Our house guests think it is really cool to go out into the yard pick a few berries, throw them in the blender with a few other things to have smoothies in the morning.
On top of raspberries, the Alpine strawberries just started producing yesterday...teeny, intensely flavored. A quarter of a fingernail sized berry made us all groan with delight.  Note to myself, I must plant more of these next year.
Alpine Strawberries- Mignonette

Apache Blackberry
Not all the berries are red, the Apache blackberries are ripening, there are only a few, but that is more than we were expecting.  The first one was disappointing, but we're going to wait an extra day or so for the next few, until they fall off the vine into our hands, just to make sure the sugar has fully developed.

Then there is the squash and melon patch, the land of the over achievers.

Raised bed garden in front yard
No nice, neat, rectangular garden to mow around!

We are still eating the zucchini bread and zucchini pickles, there are two big zukes on the counter and two more just about eating size in the garden.  The way those things grow they should be about the right size by sunset.  The cooking pumpkins are doing fabulously, two are almost ripe and there are dozens more headed that way.  If you have a good recipe that has pumpkin in it please send it along, I am going to need it.  After I'm done with this post I will be looking up how to cook squash blossoms, there are plenty of male blossoms out there, no sense in letting them go to waste!
The veggie garden in the back is coming along.  The first eggplant will be ready this week, the peppers are producing, the tomatoes have been waiting for some sunshine and we finally seem to have some, maybe they will ripen in the next few days.

Sweet Cooking Pumpkin

Yellow Pear Tomatoes


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How many Pageviews??

I love to read the statistics that are generated by my blog, the number of pageviews sorted by country, sorted by referring website and all.  The problem is that they don't add up.

 The section on the total number of pageviews is always significantly higher than the pageviews sorted for each posting (which I think gives me the most accurate count of readers), sometimes double or triple the number.  I wonder how that happens?

The referring websites sometimes make me a little nervous, I keep getting pageviews referred by a blog that was taken down some time ago.  Then there are the three  very different addresses that show a high number of pageviews that when I click on the links all three send me to a single weight loss page, the type which makes me rapidly click away, because it seems false..( I haven't written about anything on weight-loss, probably because I can't seem to lose any, I'm thinner, more toned, but  weigh two more pounds than when I started exercising and reforming my diet a year and a quarter ago.)

Then there are the web rating pages that assess the value of the webpage, they sometimes provide more hits than what I believe to be my actual readership.

The country of origin for the page views raises my eyebrows. Saudi Arabia?  Malaysia? Indonesia?  China? The Netherlands?  The Ukraine? (this country started showing up when I started commenting on the Boston Marathon bombing, is it a coincidence?) Brazil? A quarter of the hits this blog receives are from Russia, maybe there are a bunch of  folks in Russia who are really into my chickens (and I would love to hear from them if they are) but some how I doubt it.  Germany comes pretty high on the list also,  If anyone from those countries is reading my blog, I'd love to hear from them.  Actually, I'd love to hear from anyone who reads the blog, then I know that the pageviews aren't just webcrawlers, but real people!!! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Waiting to See What Surfaces--The Natural History Museum

Yesterday, we ventured to the Natural History Museum.   In the car to the Metro station her friend and I discussed why we were making this trip.   I suggested that young children, even first graders, can grasp concepts like evolution  and she fully agreed that her little sister, a first grader, could understand the  basic evolution concepts.

My daughter was getting a bit of pre-adolescent attitude about my insistence that she understand evolution.  She was ready to whine and fuss, when her friend started playing with the exhibit interactives and suddenly she realized that it was okay to have fun.  They watched the video clips, had their faces transformed into Neanderthal features, examined skeletons, tried to match up hand prints on the cave walls with their own.  What really  caught my daughter's attention (as she told me in the car on the way home) was the full skull of a Homo Sapien, that fell into two pieces when she touched it(she shrieked thinking that she had broken it).  It exposed the brain underneath, so that the folds of the brain could be seen.  Once she realized that it was supposed to open up, she relaxed and studied for a bit.

Her friend's favorite part was in the mammal section, the lion attacking a large ungulate, I don't remember which species.  They both agreed that the massive crystals in the Rocks and Minerals exhibit were really cool.

Lunch was a bit of a challenge, I'm allergic to milk, cheese, most bread products (because they contain milk)  and try to avoid simple carbs...guess what are the only things her friend eats...cheese and simple carbs.  Pizza was out for me, burgers and any other meat and all veggies were out for her. Sigh.  We walked up and down and around several blocks until we found a spot that could feed us both.

What I usually find the most interesting of these trips is that a few weeks after the trip something will come up in conversation that usually shows that my daughter was paying closer attention to details than I had originally believed.  I'll have to be patient to see what surfaces.