Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wild Animals of the Domestic Variety

The dogs broke down the fence that was protecting the hanging lamb and devoured one of the forequarters before having a wicked fight over the rest, thereby alerting me to their misdeeds. So A. had to climb into the loft of the shed and hoist the lamb up there to keep it safe from our own semi-tame wolf pack. He was pretty pissed, but what else can we expect from such fierce dogs?

The sheep have been breaking through every enclosure that A. has tried to keep them in in the last week. They've been on the neighbors' back pasture and on their lawn; on our front lawn in front of the electric fence; in the woods behind their own pasture; and in the road. It's all Bonnie's fault, of course. A. is seriously considering sending her away with the lambs he wants to sell at the Pennsylvania auction next year. I wouldn't stop him.

One of the hens has decided to get all broody. Now. When we're staring down the barrel of a nasty Blackrock winter. This is not an auspicious time to have tender young chicks around. So A. has been crawling into the dog pen every night to remove Ms. Maternal from her nest there and deposit her in the coop where she belongs.

Also, Otty is in heat and has to be closely watched lest she take herself off and then deliver unto us some unexpected puppies in a couple of months.

Animals are such a pain in the ass sometimes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Another Thursday . . .

Yesterday afternoon, in search of eggs, I heaved myself over the livestock gate to squelch through the mud and sheep shit in the paddock. It was about forty degrees and raining, as it had been pretty much all day, and I was intent on getting to the chickens' nest and back into the house as fast as possible.

I was not so intent on that goal, however, that I failed to notice the lamb on its back in the mud, kicking its legs in the air.

That's not a good thing. Just so you know.

I went over to him (all the sheep in the paddock right now are boys) and pushed on his back, hoping he had just slipped and couldn't get traction in the mud to get up. I got him up on his feet, but he buckled in front and went down on his knees. So I ran inside to tell A., who promptly got his gun and sent that lamb to its reward a little earlier than we had planned.

The male lambs were all due to go to the butcher in a couple of weeks anyway. We've had problems before with male lambs succumbing to pneumonia or whatever, brought on by cold, wet weather in the fall. So A. figured that rather than go out in the morning to find the lamb dead in the paddock, he'd just take care of it while there was still light enough to work on it.

He gutted it and skinned it and hung it in the shed, where it will stay for a few days to age, slowly driving the dogs insane. It's going to be a fun few days. And then probably on Sunday, we'll cut it up and have lamb in our freezer once again.

You just never do know what a random Thursday at Blackrock may bring.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Woodchuck Child

I took Cubby to the pediatrician in the Small City for a flu shot yesterday. The following conversation--if you can call it that--occurred in the car on the way out of the pediatrician's parking lot.

Cubby: Sha? Sha? Sha?

Me: What? Sha? *looking around* Oh. Squirrel. Yes, baby doll, there's a squirrel up there on that roof.

Cubby: Da? Da? Da?

Me: Dad? What about Daddy? Daddy's at home, working.

Cubby: Shoo? Shoo? Shoo?

Me: No, sweets. Daddy is not going to shoot that squirrel. They have laws against that in cities.

Talk about a product of his environment . . .

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cubby Cage

So how did we end up using that enormous old crock?

As a Cubby crock, of course.

He thinks it's pretty awesome, too.

P.S. He actually requests to be put in this crock, from which he cannot get out by himself. And I am only too happy to put him there while he's eating, because it contains the mess so handily. Happiness all around.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's Liquor It Up

I realize that Friday is supposed to be Alcohol Day here, and that it is, in fact, Monday. But let's just pretend it's Friday for a second, because WOAH do I have a lot of cider in my refrigerator and freezer.

You may remember the somewhat spirited (geddit? spirited? HAAA) discussion in the comments of last year's post about cocktails involving cider. People were excited about it. As was I. And then somehow the cider was all gone and I hadn't tried any of the other cocktail suggestions kicking around.


But! I am currently the happy possessor of four whole gallons of freshly-pressed, currently-unpasteurized cider, most of which is stashed in the freezer for future consumption. So of course I had to do a search for cocktail recipes using cider and make a mental list of the ones that looked even halfway decent.

You'd be surprised how many didn't look even halfway decent. Apple cider, orange juice, vodka, and Snapple? No. Just . . . no.

But this one . . . Yes. Apple brandy, Champagne, cider, and orange bitters? SIGN ME UP. The recipe also calls for sugar, actually, but the cider we have is very sweet and I don't think needs any added sugar. In an odd coincidence, we actually have orange bitters, purchased at random by the MiL and made by a somewhat-local-to-us company. Everyone in the house (well, except Cubby) gave a thumbs-up to the idea of this recipe, so I think we shall have to try this one as a group soon.

When that happy day comes, I'll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, any great ideas for apple cider cocktails, duckies? Lay it on me. Just no one say Snapple.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Apple Crazy

Tomatoes are sometimes called love apples, right? So you could say that in previous years I have suffered from the Love Apple Crazy. Well, this year, instead of the Love Apple Crazy, I'm just plain Apple Crazy.

I'm still working my way through the many bags of apples I picked up from my friend Alyssa's dad earlier this week. Nine quarts of sauce have been made and canned, but there are still two bags and a box of those apples in the back of the Awesome Subaru.

Then yesterday, A., Cubby, and I went foraging for wild apples (more on this later in the week), of which we found many. MANY. Like, another shitload. That is also now in the back of the Awesome Subaru, soon to be en route to Alyssa's house. She has her dad's cider press there. And so today we will have a small version of the unbearably wholesome cider-pressing party she hosted last year.

I think it's just going to be our family and hers, actually. And a whole hell of a lot of apples. I'm guessing that Alyssa's husband Jodi and A. will do most of the actual pressing, while Alyssa and I act as support staff and attempt to keep our various small boys from pressing their feet in the machines or something.

The wild apples that A. gathered are meant to make old-fashioned hard cider. He and Jodi will press a batch of the wild apples mixed with cultivated apples for their hard cider, and then maybe they'll get to some plain sweet cider that the rest of us might actually drink.

Old-fashioned cider is rough stuff, man. Yuck.

So maybe today's cider pressing won't be quite as wholesome as last year seeing as how we're making alcohol, but it'll still be fun. And apple fun (and craziness) is what October is all about.

Happy autumn Sunday, poppets!