Sorry everybody. I say that, imagining the hordes of fans I don't have, checking the site multiple times per day, each time, being let down due to the lack of an update. Throughout my busy days, I think to myself, "I want to write about this on my blog," but the posts just don't get done. I will be going out of town for five days to attend my Grandmother's 85th birthday party in Tacoma, Washington. When I get back, despite having my work load doubled on the day I return (keep reading), I vow to get in a post per week.
On my way back from Tacoma (I will be driving), I am stopping to pick up my first family dairy cow! I wanted to put about a hundred exclamation points at the end of that sentence. I'm dreaming of cream... Thick Jersey cream. I can hardly wait. For now, most of the milk will go to feed the 148 chickens I now own. I had a delivery of 100 more meat chicks on July 10th, plus I've got the 30 pullets (immature hens) and 18 older meat chicks. The first set of meat chicks will only be alive another few short weeks, and then...off with their heads! The hundred more will be butchered in mid-October. Then, I'll have a lot more excess milk to work with, not to mention time, for dabbling in cheese and butter making...just in time for the holidays!
We had another poultry shipping mishap. Quite awhile back, I ordered 15 white Muscovy ducklings to arrive this past week. These would be raised for meat, I love duck. Well, apparently sometime after I ordered, the hatchery changed their policy on shipping and guaranteeing ducklings. They now only guarantee them to arrive alive if they are shipped overnight. When we didn't receive the phone call from the post office on the morning scheduled for arrival, Jeremy just drove down to inquire. The post office is about three minutes away. They weren't there. He came home and contacted the hatchery. They were concerned. They tracked the package, and it had apparently been misdirected by the USPS. The woman at the hatchery said that she'd be surprised if any arrived alive 24 hours later, the new scheduled time.
Jeremy did some more asking around at the post office and found out that the actual delivery truck arrives at the post office at around midnight, and that he would be able to go to the back door (only in a small town, huh?) to pick them up even at that hour. He arranged for that, wanting to give any ducklings as much a chance for survival (until we butcher them) as possible. Otherwise, they would have sat there for 8 1/2 more hours until the post office opened the next morning. Only three of fifteen were still alive. Fairly surprising to me is that four days later, they're still plugging along. They're pretty cute, but despite that and their heroic story, I'm still going to raise them for meat. Muscovies are ugly, I don't want them as farm pets.
The hatchery of course insures their shipments and offered to ship out another 15 this week, still not guaranteeing many would show up alive. The overnight shipping is not available to our area. Still, if the post office doesn't misdirect them, and if I would decide to pick them up at midnight, that's only 36 hours. I was given the option of a refund, though, and I took it. With preparing to go out of town, and with my Mom caring for all the animals while I'm away (while working 3 of the 5 days), and because I'm bringing home a dairy cow, and because if I wereto pick them up at midnight, that would be just several hours before we plan on leaving for our trip, canceling the order just makes sense. I will have three ducks for the freezer this winter, and can order more ducklings (probably from a closer hatchery) in the early spring.
Jeremy had a good week home. With a whole week, and with a comparatively short "honey, do" list, he relaxed all his first afternoon home (Saturday), and then we hiked on Sunday.
Monday was cold and it rained all day, Tuesday was still quite cold and cloudy. Monday was a lazy day, Tuesday he eventually went out in the barn to start getting things organized the way he wants them. That just left four more days before his departure Sunday morning. He finished organizing the barn, which looks fantastic, and he cleared a large pile of debris from the property, making several trips to the dump.
After the large amount of rain we received on Monday (over an inch!) it's been hot hot hot. The garden has just exploded. The potato plants are huge and bushy, and today Ethan noticed our first blossoms, formed, but not yet open. All the other crops that I mentioned in the last post as looking good, now look great, and almost all the others look pretty good now, too. Of course the ideal growing conditions have favored the weeds as well. At least when they're big, they're easy to pull out of the moist soil, and the large size makes clearing a bed a quick job for two people. But, I curse them for eating up so many nutrients in the soil while growing that big.
My sister, Shauna, has been an incredible help in the garden, getting out there to weed, and motivating me to do so more than I've been able to motivate myself. We harvested cherries one evening. I weighed our paper bags afterward, and they came to 20 pounds. I processed quite a few, probably 2/3, into pitted, frozen cherries, but the other 1/3 are still sitting on the counter. If I don't get to them tomorrow, I'm sure they'll be mush by the end of the day. We only picked as far up as we could reach from the ground and on small step ladders. The cherries were very good, but would have been even better in another day or two. We didn't have the ability to get up higher, and we were getting kinks in our necks, so we quit for the evening, planning on finding a taller ladder and tackling the high ones the next day.
We didn't get the chance. The birds got to them early the next morning, and the tree was practically bare when I happened to look at it later in the day. I'm nowhere near devastated, as I said, I haven't even finished processing the ones we did get. I'm just making a mental note for next year, when I'm hopefully more prepared for processing, to get a net over that tree to protect them from birds. As it was, they had already destroyed, by taking small bites, about 1/3 of the cherries in the lower branches that we harvested. I really don't mind sharing such a bountiful crop, but in our self-sustaining future, three 1-gallon freezer bags won't get a family very far.
My next post will be typed with sore forearms, I'm sure, as it will be after my first few attempts at hand milking! Yikes!