Blackberry Mountain
What's going on? 07/06/2011
A lot has been going on lately...

We hosted lunch for Jeremy's family recently.  Many had not been here since we got all of the animals.  Things got interesting when a few decided they wanted to milk Roses.  Jeremy's dad and brother even tasted FRESH milk.


I have been harvesting lots of herbs and preserving them in different ways (more on this to come).  This is a batch of sweet and dark opal basil that I turned into pesto and then froze for use at another time.


We have been having lots of evening campfires.  Eggs is enjoying this one while she recovers from being spayed (MJ was also spayed).


Dinner on the campfire is one of our favorite things.  This time we had sauteed squash/zucc, salmon with basil, and flatbread (it looks odd but tasted great).


I am most proud of this photo.  Jeremy has been working to grow corn for the past few years and has not had much success other than a few pieces of corn.  This year it looks great and is starting to produce (if we can rid ourselves of those stinkin' Japanese Beetles). 

Sunny Days 03/17/2011
Everyone keeps talking about the weather here; it is so beautiful and warm and my toes are very happy because they can wiggle in sandals finally!  I’m not convinced that we are out of the cold yet but the current warmth is a great treat.  I try to remind myself to get out in the sun as much as possible now because in a few months I know that it will be miserably hot and I will be wishing away the sunshine for just a few moments of shade.

Humans are not the only ones that enjoy the sun and if you pass by our house you might witness that first hand.  The chickens jump out of the coup first thing in the morning exploring the yard for worms and other juicy crawling bugs and critters.  A few of them hang around when we are tilling in the garden so that they can steal our worms.  It is quite entertaining to watch as one chicken finds a treat because suddenly ten or so other chickens run and attempt to take what is not theirs and the poor worm or bug ends up in several pieces but the chickens are happy.  The goats wandered a bit too much this winter so they have been on “tie outs” for most of the daytime with water and feed beside them and plenty of vegetation in our yard to eat…they are excited to see new life coming up in the form of grass and weeds and they are already fast at work eating whatever is sprouting.  We are working to be sure they don’t get our garden this year!  The goats sure do eat a lot but they have a process—they are known to eat up to twelve hours a day but they will eat for a while and swallow and then, later, sit and basically regurgitate their food and chew it and swallow again.  They have four stomachs and each serves a different purpose and is a vital part of the digestion process.  Each day when I come and go during my lunch break I can’t help but smile as I see the goats laying in the yard apparently sunbathing.  Roses has dug herself a little groove to snuggle in beside a large tree and can be seen laying out or even rolling around…it is a hilarious site!  Bella sits close by and bleats at everyone that goes by.  We have also noticed that our neighbor down the street has tied their goat out on the side of their house closer to us and we think it is so that our goats can communicate…which is so cool since they are herd animals and like to have friends.  The cats love this time of year because when we open the windows they can jump outside anytime they want, often running inside as soon as a door is open and then jumping out the window again almost immediately.  I used to dislike cats but the Homesley family changed that and I am happy for that because cats are very entertaining creatures and sometimes loving too!  The dogs like just about every time of year but this is the season that Eggs enjoys going on creek runs---meaning she is dirtier than ever.  Speaking of cats and dogs, we have had MJ & Eggs for about a year now.  It was this time last year that a friend that stayed with us found Eggs in the woods and I found MJ in the road in front of a local Japanese restaurant.  Both were less than twelve weeks old according to the vet so Happy “Sort of” Birthday to both of these awesome animals! 

Warm weather means digging and planting and lots of other hard work for us gardeners but if all goes well that means we will have new life and plants coming up throughout the spring and summer.  I have begun my seedlings for my herb garden and will post more on that later. 

For now, enjoy the weather!  Get out in the sun (or rain if it comes again) and breathe deep as you take in this beautiful creation that we have been blessed with!

There was a point this summer when we were bringing in about eight eggs a day.  With nearly 5 dozen eggs a week we could cook eggs for a meal on several occasions, I was able to do lots of baking, we fed the dogs some every now and then (they love them), and gave a dozen to friends and family when there were enough.  All those eggs spoiled me and now its wintertime and the temperature has been very low which means that the chickens are using a lot of their energy to stay warm.  On top of that we’ve had a fat rat eating our feed so we’ve been changing our feeding times and the chickens have been working harder while free ranging—all that being said, they stopped laying.  A few began molting, a phase in which they lose feathers and grow a new coat and rest from laying before starting a new cycle, but the rest stopped—just in time for holiday cooking, too.  So as soon as I began to take the eggs for granted—I was forced to go without.  I tried to find someone else with chickens so that I could have farm fresh eggs for cooking but others were in similar situations.  I did finally give in and purchase eggs from the grocery store but I realized that as the seasons shift things are not so readily available.  There are cycles that we choose to ignore as we mass produce our chickens and eggs and vegetables even.  You can’t really get a tomato around here in the winter but we get people to ship them to us so that we don’t have to go without.  We have the stores full of the things that aren’t available elsewhere and so we don’t have to scavenge like the chickens do when we take their feed.  If we did, we might realize God has blessed us with an abundance of plants and animals. 

                As the days passed we got two eggs every day or so from two loyal birds.  We learned to check a tree stump for eggs daily because one bird prefers that spot to the coup.  On New Years morning, after a month long lesson on patience, I checked the coup and stump and found four eggs and a couple more later that day.  I got a little giddy when I saw the eggs.  For our New Years dinner we ate them cooked over a fire with some farm fresh bacon and sausage our parents brought us.  YUM!  Jeremy is a great breakfast cook and a better fire starter so he put the two together in our fire place using a couple cast iron pans making our eggs well worth the wait.  The chickens taught me a couple lessons this time:  I am learning more about the cycles of nature and how to understand and respect them and that if we work for it we will be provided for but more often than not patience is required.