Free ranging birds always add a bit of worry to life on the farm. We do everything in our power to assure their safety. And though I hate keeping them closed up in their yards, we are lucky that we have these safe areas during times of predatory hunting. Lately, though, predators are well fed and uninterested in our birds. And so... the chickens, ducks, and guineas have free-range of the farm - spending their days in search of tasty insects and vegetation. It's amazing how this lifestyle improves the taste and quality of the eggs produced. I can't help but think that this improves the nutritional value of the eggs as well.
For the past several days, I have seen only five of our six remaining guineas. I wasn't terribly worried, though, as this happens every summer. A guinea or two will decide to lay on a clutch of eggs - hidden from sight. A clue that this is happening is the fact that the rest of the flock stay fairly close by the laying hen.
Yesterday morning, as I was working in the garden,
I must have gotten a little too close to Guinea No. 6 - let's call her "Ginny". Well, Ginny let out such a holler and stood her ground looking at me and squawking her head off.
Sure enough, there, next to the garden fence was her clutch of eggs and she was standing guard.
No one was going to get between Ginny and her precious eggs. And I didn't try. I walked away and gave her plenty of space.
Later, I peeked through the garden fence to see if she was dutifully sitting - and there she was. Seeing me, she puffed up her feathers, making herself about three times her normal size - her way of warning me that she would go to just about any length to protect her nesting.
I often get comments about our barn cats. So today I thought I would reintroduce the bunch. They provide my first morning critter interaction as they always meet me on the driveway to the barn. I don't for a moment believe it is because they have a great affection for me.
Realistically, I know it is because they are trying their hardest to remind me that it is breakfast time - time for their daily canned cat food treat.
Moll Flanders was one such cat. She came to us, years ago, with evidence that she had at one time had a litter of kittens.
The two Beatrixes - one cannot possibly tell these twins apart- came to us as feral kittens. For the longest time we called them our rafter cats, as they typically spent their days in the safety of the barn rafters.
Nowadays, though, they've relaxed and are quite affectionate.
They spend their days in the woods near the barn hunting and adventuring.
Griz is the newest member of the barn cat gang.
We have no idea how old he is or what his story might be. During the early days following his arrival, he spent most of the time huddled in a corner growling and hissing and swatting at anything that invaded his space.
In those days, the dogs learned to give him wide berth. Time and patience has been Griz's saving - as he is now the sweetest (and also the grossest) of all of our cats. He wants nothing more than to plaster himself onto any given human body part that is offered to him.... lap, shoulder, arms, you name it. You may wonder why I called him "gross."
Griz is quite a snotty cat. He has a feline herpes infection that is common amongst feral cats. It leads to a lot of snotty sneezing and general poor personal hygiene. Cuddling Griz has doubled the size of my weekly laundry load... a small price to pay for the happiness of one pathetic cat. Also, Griz has a chronic draining abscess on his left cheek. He's had surgery and been on antibiotics and nothing clears it up. It is something he will have for his lifetime. It causes him no distress. However, it is somewhat distressing to us when he tries to rub that cheek on ours.
Yuck! He is a skinny, but totally muscularly solid kitty that enjoys spending his days sunbathing in the driveway by the barn.... waiting for his next human interaction... his favorite thing.
Last, but in no way least, is Bobby. We have had Bobby longer than any other cats on the farm. Bobby came to live on the farm the same year we built our log home - 2009.
And although he started out as a barn cat, it wasn't long before he decided that his home would be our garage. Since then, he has a big, soft bed, food and water available 24/7 and a heat lamp for warmth in the winter. A cat door gives him the ability to come and go as he pleases... and he makes the rounds of the neighborhood frequently. If it were not for the fact that our house cat, Ivy, totally hates Bobby... I would consider letting him in our house. To Ivy, however, that would be an act of war. Perhaps it's because Bobby is more dog than cat. He loves to go for hikes with us and will follow us wherever we venture.
Lastly... a little housekeeping...
Several farm friends voiced interest in the pattern over which I made the pants that I showed yesterday. You can find the Picasso Pants and Top pattern on Etsy HERE. It is an easy pattern and oh, so comfy!!
A question was raised as to whether I wash my berries prior to freezing.
I do not. In fact, I do not wash them at all. Not washing them makes them much easier to handle from the freezer - in that they don't stick together in one big mass when frozen. This way I can pour out of my silicone freezer bags exactly the amount of berries that I want to use.
I rarely wash veggies from the garden, unless there is visible dirt and detritus.
There is something that the French call "goût de terroir" or taste of the land. This is simply the fact that any given crop is affected by the environment in which it is grown... and those differing conditions have a direct effect on taste. To me, there are so many beneficial bacteria and organisms in our natural environment (especially because we grow everything organically here on the farm)... and I choose to incorporate those good organisms into my diet. Of course, vegetables that are
grown within the soil are definitely in need of a good rinse.
How do we keep our bread from molding?
I store our bread under glass.
And because I love to cut off a hunk of bread and slather it with butter, I don't store our bread in the refrigerator. However, this would be an option if we only ate it toasted. The truth is... I eat my homemade organic sourdough bread like it's going out of style. It never lasts terribly long. Also, I typically make two loaves so that I can share one of them. If a loaf would happen to last long enough to begin molding, I simply cut away any moldy parts and share the remains with the chickens. Nothing goes to waste around here. All food scraps are either shared with the chickens or added to the compost pile and eventually returned to the earth.
PS: No, Moonbeam did not get a new fly mask, because both of his were new this year. He wears a special UV protective fly mask that also has a visor. We can't take any chances with that one good eye!! Just don't tell him that the Littles and Ponies got very fancy masks!!