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Meat: it’s what’s for dinner

Well I guess you could say we chickened out. I can’t deny that we kind of did, but it just seemed easier this way. Let me back up and start at the beginning.

We have three lovely lady dairy goats; for us to continue to get milk they have to kid every year. Well this year our 3 ladies gave birth to six bouncing baby goats: 3 boys and 3 girls. Early on we had said we wanted to keep all the girls to eventually replace their mothers. We knew one of the mothers, Vivi, was getting up in age and was having a harder time each season with getting her milk flowing consistently, and we thought about not breeding her again. Instead we got a good offer to sell two of the girls to a guy who already has a herd and was looking to add to it, so we were confident they were going to a good home. So off they went and we had a little money to buy more feed, straw, and hay.

The boys had a different path planned for them. We knew we needed at least one of them to go live with their dad so he wouldn’t get bored and lonely being by himself. We castrated all three of them and left their horns on because the father, Sherlock, has horns and we wanted them to be able to defend themselves. But what to do with the other two goats?

We decided that we would wait until fall and harvest two of the wethers. It was the responsible thing to do. This decision was met with shock from many of our city friends and family. We had made the choice to come out to the country and learn more about where our food comes from and this was another step. We didn’t just want to collect pet animals. We talked to a neighbor about putting them down and dressing them when the time came, then we would do the rest. I know that may have been chickening out number one, but we knew we would have a very hard time putting them down. I knew I could do a chicken, and if an animal was sick or injured I knew I could muster what it would take, but this seemed different.

Well the fall arrived and what do you know? A friend of a friend is looking for some goats, any goats, to have as some sort of pets to live with her donkeys and horses. It was decision time. We made a compromise with ourselves, we would sell the goats to someone happy to have them but whatever money we got for them we would use to buy meat and stock the freezer.

So our planned freezer of goat meat became a freezer of assorted meat.

A hundred dollars seems to go pretty far. I don’t know how much meat we would have gotten off our little wethers, but this seems like a lot more than was on them.

Sure I know we took the easy way out this year, but I’m okay with it. Things happen for a reason. In years to come we may go through the same process, and it may end differently. But I feel this year, for this pile of meat, we sort of earned it. It’s like we grew a crop then bartered for what we needed. I know I’m pushing it with that analogy but I like it better than straight out saying we took the chicken exit on the roller coaster.

To all those out there that responsibly harvest their livestock, you have my respect. Millions of people go into the grocery store and pick up meat for dinner never knowing where it came from or what decisions were made in its life. Millions more people live with and harvest the animals that end up on their plates. The transition in knowledge between the two is where I currently find myself, no longer fully in the first but not completely ready step into the other.


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Today marks the end of a week long staycation for me.  Lots of runs to the dump as we try to devoid our place of unwanted stuff.  Also took the opportunity to add a second set of external nesting boxes to our chicken coop.

They made added so much extra room inside as we removed the boxes from inside.

We also were able to harvest another bunch of potatoes, which had turned out to be much easier to grow then when we tried in past years.

I took a couple opportunities to do a little fishing and caught some of the channel catfish we had stocked the pond with last spring.

I’ll fill the rest of this post with some photos from around the homestead. Hope you enjoy.


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A fine day

It’s a beautiful November day with temperatures in the mid-70’s.  There are plenty of things to be done but today just feels like one of those days to stop and appreciate life, and the place I now call home.   
Although they normally don’t seem to care what I’m doing, the ducks decided today to come visit as I walked beside the pond.


As I continued around the pond I came across a present left by one of my web footed friends. 

Or perhaps the Easter bunny is out here practicing for next year. 

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End of the season

As fall approaches, it spells the end of the summer vegetable season.  We had a few large green tomatoes left on the vines, and I decided to fry them up to go with dinner tonight.


Decided to use a few duck eggs for the egg wash and mixture of panko flakes, corn meal and crushed red pepper for the breading. 

Served with a siracha mayo and a dill and lemon mustard.

Not bad if I do say so. 

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The nightly walk

Each night we have to go close the ducks into their house.  This process has gone through many stages.  There was the “chase back and forth past the door” phase, the “get in the canoe and chase them out of the pond” phase and now we are at the “sometimes put themselves away” phase.  Last night was a “hey time to go to bed time so start walking ducks.”

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My country list

Neither of us were “country folk” when we decided to make the move away from the city and into the wilds of the county.  Raised in the suburbs, minutes from the nearest grocery store, hardware store and Starbucks, we knew not the want of a fast food burger.  We were ready to try something new and decided to move away from the sound of traffic and sprinklers to a spot in the woods where the silences of nature filled the air.


That brings me to my list.  This list, which I will slowly add to as time goes by, is all the things we didn’t know before we moved to the country, including the things we thought we knew but had wrong.  The things we wished someone had told us and the things we were glad to discover on our own.

The first thing on my list is the sound of the country. I had imagined standing on my front porch listening to the breeze in the tree tops, the chirps of birds all around and a general peace and silence in the sounds that would surround me. Little did I know, the country is far from quiet.  

Let’s start with nature itself.  Having a pond on the property means that we have frogs; while it may sound enchanting in a animated  film to have a frog singing by the waterside, the communal roar of a hoard of amphibians can be quite intense.  Then there are the cicadas, another sound glamorized by the film industry.  Their shrill chirps cut through even the croaking of the toads to invade the ear holes.  

I include as part of nature a factor that we brought on ourselves: the chickens and the ducks.  The ducks produce a constant racket that sometimes brings a smile to my face, at other times makes me question why any animal would ever need to produce a sound that can so easily be heard by every predator for miles around.  With chickens of course, we have Mr. Rooster.  The crowing at the break of ever dawn was expected, but the howls throughout the day baffle the mind and intrude on my ears.  

We have two types of hens: those that quietly step into the nesting box, drop an egg in the straw and head right back outside like it’s no big deal, and those that hunker down in the box and scream bloody murder for the next fifteen minutes, letting everyone know that an egg is coming. They noisily herald the biggest event the county has ever seen is happening right now and everybody needs to know about it.  “AN EGG IS COMING, YOU GUYS! AN EGG IS COMING!”  After the egg has ceremoniously been laid, these particular chickens poke their heads out of their coop and proclaim to the world of their great accolmplishment.  “I DID IT!  I LAID THE BEST EGG EVER, BETTER THAN ALL OF THE OTHERS EVER LAID!”  

Of ourse, while these chickens are loud and obnoxious in a funny sort of way, I have no idea what sound I would make if I had to pass an egg everyday.


Another sound that unexpectedly breaks the peacefulness is the echo of gunfire.  I know every American has the right to bear arms, and considering the fact that we saw an actual bear crossing the road the first week we moved out here, I think it may be a necessity for country life.  It is the oh so frequent sounds of gunfire that perplexes me.  Okay, hunting season is one thing.  I get that; harvesting animals for food is part of what we wanted to experience to get closer to our food.  It is the weekend blast-fest that we sometimes hear that I don’t understand.  There are times we can hear, what I assume is target practice on a backyard range or something like that, no problem, but the number of rounds of ammunition sometimes baffles me.  I’m sure that it is good time being had, but don’t those bullets cost money?  Anyways lets just say it is another sound that I wasn’t shown in the version of the country previously put before me.


At this point let me say I do love it out here, and this list I will be building on is not a reason why others should not try leaving the city for the country, it is just things I wish I would have known.  Now where are my ear plugs I want to fish in peace. Damn frogs.


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 an unwelcome surprise

This past saturday we were away from the farm all day long, so when I got home about 8:30pm I had a bunch of chores to do.  I started with a trip down to the duck house to herd them inside and close the door for the night.  Next I headed up to the pool to get the cover pump going since it had stormed during the day and filled with water. By the time I made it to the chicken coop, most of the daylight was gone.  

The girls were all up their roost, and I noticed that for the first time, all four pullets had made it up there instead of sleeping on top of the nesting boxes.  I stepped into the coop to collect the eggs and peer into the nesting boxes. The first box is closest to the door and thus the most lit, but all I see is the golf ball we put in early on so the hens know where to lay.  Oh well, the girls dont seem to prefer laying in that box as much as the other two. Squinting into the darker middle box I find the same thing, no eggs just a golf ball. Seems a little odd, but hey, I’m not going to question the mind of a chicken.  The third box is farthest from the light, but there appears to be a lot of something in it.  As I reached into the dark box to collect my bounty of eggs, I thought for a split second about how all ten hens must have been lined up all afternoon for their chance to sit in the prized box.

My mind switched gears an instant later, and I realized that I had just grabbed ahold of something that felt nothing like the shell of an egg.  I knew now why we seemed to be short on eggs over the past few days.  It was time to take a picture to let my wife know what she was missing out on by staying behind to help clean up after a party at her parents houe.

Thankfully, Mr. Black Snake had been attempting to munch down another egg when I stuck my hand in and he hadn’t snapped at me, but now I needed to extract the visitor.  I quickly grabbed an empty feed bucket with lid that was sitting in the coop, stuck it near the box and put on a thick pair of gloves, but then decided to use the pitch fork in the corner instead of reaching back in there with my hand.  At this point the chickens on their shoulder-high roosts were getting restless, and they rustled and peeped disgruntedly, eyeing me as I moved around the coop.  

I slid the tines under the snake to gently lift him into the bucket, but he took off and high-tailed it out the door. I chased him down, pinned his head to the ground with the pitch fork handle, and quickly grabbed him at the back of his head.  He instinctively wrapped himself around my arm; looking back, that would have been the perfect moment totake the picture I sent to my wife.  Wearing my new snake bracelet, I had to re-enter the coop to grab the bucket, further distrurbing the chickens, especially Mr. Rooster, who has taken a great interest in my adventures.  They bob their heads and fidget nervously as I unceremoniously dumped the uninvited guest into the bucket.

With the snake contained and the wife notified, it was time to decide the fate of my captive.  I know this type of snake is good for keeping down the rodent population, but his appreciation for eggs means he can’t stay here.  We decide not to take the thief’s life, but definitely want to make sure he won’t easily find his way back.  

I threw the bucket in the back of the truck and drove the snake over the river to the next county.  For the sake of accuracy, the county line is only about a mile away, but to make it back to our coop, he will have to cross a set of railroad tracks and a hundred yard bridge or swim across the river.  For now, I feel the eggs are pretty safe.