Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Many Flocks of Gale Oaks Farm

Yes, I named the place Gale Oaks farm.  We've got 3 old oaks in the back yard.  Each morning at about 10am, the wind comes up out of the west and over the hill to our house. Hence the name: Gale Oaks.

You'd think with 50 animals that are all poultry of some sort it would be one big, happy flock. Oh no....too much jockeying for leadership for that! So let's all go through the flocks:

First flock is what I call "Sissy's Posse."  It consists, of Sissy who is in back in the middle, her 5 babies, her mate, Ron (2nd big goose to the left) and the Uncles, Buddy, Ginger, and Sweet Pea.  Sissy is hands-down the leader of this flock.

I'm impressed by the amount of parenting that the boys do.  For much of the day, Daddy and the Uncles take care of the babies. Sissy just walks along with them.  Oh she keeps an eye on her babies and they stay close by her, but She'll leave discipline to the boys.  They nudge the babies around with their beaks. Now that the babies are well versed in what is their home, not much nudging going on anymore.

The 2nd Flock is the "Girls" headed by Percy. Percy never did fit into Sissy's Posse, so he's taken up with the flock of younger goose girls.  Oh, and I've named them: Lily, Luna, Ellie, Mary, Cary and Grace. Lily is definitely the most vocal, and the only one with a dewlap under her chin.  Luna is the smallest, and gets a crescent-shaped wet spot in front of her left eye. Hence, Luna.  The others are more difficult to tell apart. Now that their personalities are shining through, it's getting easier. Mary likes to hang with Percy. Carrie and Gracie are always together and Ellie sometimes gets into trouble by not staying with the flock.

The 3rd flock is 22 ducks.  The eldest 9 share leadership and dictate where they go. They are all our hatched ducklings -with the except of the last 5 who were hatched week before last.  They get their own pen until their down grows. Twenty-two ducks who follow each other all over the land, eat a ton of food and drink a ton of water every day.  Their favorite hiding spot when it gets real hot is under the hedge or in the lilac bush. It's funny to see almost 2 dozen little white butts sticking out of the yew hedge!

We'll need to get another mate for Tony, our mating duck because his mate did not make it through her infected foot fiasco.  The antibiotics did not work and she kept getting more pus in her foot. We tried lancing the foot to expel the pus, which only helped for a few days.  Duck feet are notoriously hard to cure of an infection. Finally, we had to decide to end her suffering. She could not walk on the foot, nor put weight on it.  Tony needs another mate.

 Which will probably be the gal in the back next to one of the goose gals.  I call her Daisy.  There were 3 ducks that hatched about the same time we got the 6 goslings, so we just put them in with them. Dave says that he thinks the ducks think they are geese. Two males one female. That curl you see in the front duck? That indicates male, along with a raspy, very quiet voice.  Female ducks are loud and the ones with the distinct "QUACK QUACK QUACK" call.
Six Rhode Island Red chickens.  There's also a flock of Bantys around but eh...they're chickens! I must post an ad to either Craigslist or FB to see if I can find a home for the flock of Bantams.  We are looking to raise 'real' chickens instead of midget chickens.   The Rhode Islands are around the same age as our eldest ducklings; about 5 weeks old.
Molly.  Well, Molly fits in somewhere, but until she gets those babies of hers hatched, we will never know.  I made the mistake of allowing Buddy to sleep in the garage last night near her.  He's the other Toulouse and he does not like her.  We can only speculate on who is Molly's mate.  Neither Molly nor Daddy is fessing up.  We'll see who comes to the protection of her babies.

Here we see her hissing at me.  It's a defensive gesture on her part. She's being a good Mommy. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Knitting Projects

Right now, big storm coming through. I don't know how long I'll have power.  Never fear, we are prepared for just such an occasion.

I'm in that phase of knitting that I call ADD. I cannot focus on a project for too long without finding...oh look, another pretty skein of yarn! I shall start another project!  ~facepalm~!  it IS...really like that. So let's see what's On many needles.

Deephaven cowl in a lovely blue/gray shade of wool + alpaca.  The yarn itself is from Blue Sky Alpacas and is a super bulky yarn that I've respun smaller.  So spinning and knitting something kinda makes me stay with it longer.

 A garter stitch cowl made from handspun small hanks of yarn in teal, brown and white.  It's to match 3 of my Rikke hats and keep me warm this winter.

A sock, made from handspun wool.  It's white, it's warm and I still need to spin up enough to finish this one and make another.  They'll be big enough for Dave.

I snagged a pound of Corredale from Paradise Fibers for a buck a pound.  It was such a deal that I really couldn't pass it up.  As it is working out this year, I may not be able to make it to the WI Sheep and Wool festival.

Dave usually spends that Saturday cooking meet for the Church's Harvest Festival.  His partner in that endeavor has left the church and left them without help for Dave.  There's discussions being made as to whether or not Knute will do it (he owns Knute's Bar and Grill - All you can eat prime rib for $ 16.95 on's 12 levels past awesome.) Either way, I think my services will be needed in Foot for that day.  My fiber purchases will have to be online.

A red shawl or throw, depending on whether or not I decide to finish it off now.  I think I want to try a sort of slip-stitch wing thing to see if I can get it to wrap around my body better.

The yarn is wool roving that was another bulky yarn -this one from Martha Stewart - that the fabric store had on clearance for a buck a skein. I've spent time re-spinning up 3 skeins of yarn for this ...thing in my favorite color of red.  I like red. Red makes a statement and says; bugger off, I'm not taking your crap.

 It's large, it's formless. It's the back to Alex's sweater.  Totally unnecessary if he makes it to through Marine Boot San Diego. Maybe I'll wear it or something.  I had an urge to make a bulky sweater.

The pattern is the funnel-neck sweater in the Men's Knits book.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Random Facts about me

They are random and quirky

1. I don't like phones.
 I don't call people unless forced to.  I don't like answering phones.  It's as close to a phobia as I can get.  After 10+ years in customer service answering phones with people on the other end yelling that I screwed up something I've never created, packaged nor shipped....well I correlate phones with bad.  You want my attention? Email me.

2. I don't like my cuffs wet.  It's just icky feeling to me.

3. I never cook anything in the microwave in plastic. It's either Pyrex or ceramic. After seeing the plastic melt a few times I had to ask myself, "where was this melted plastic?" most likely in my food. Since the majority of plastic is derived from petroleum...ew!
Incidentally, you can put 2 packets of ramen noodles in this loaf pan, fill it 2/3 with water, nuke for 12 minutes and both packets will be cooked.  When it's not in use for that, I usually use the pans to feed juvenile ducks or geese, as they are hard to tip over.

4. I am entirety comfortable being alone. In fact, crowds make me anxious and nervous. I've spent most of my life alone. I'm OK with that.

5. I'm a news hound.  I read about 5 sources of news daily while I drink my morning coffee.  You want the BEST news out there? London's Daily Mail. I'm not kidding! It's a rag when it comes to entertainment news but has the best US News around, beating all the alphabet stations. The 2nd place I go is Drudge. Yes, some people whine about that being a conservative site, but I've done my research. 90% of what they have is available at other news sites.  It's an aggregation of links from around the news sites, which is very helpful when you want to know the news without it being all in-depth.

6. Asleep at 10:30 awake before 6.  I take an hour nap every day in the late morning. That's going to be hard to give up when I get a real job.

7. I can name off breeds of cows, pigs, and dogs. I also know the differences of 5 brands of tractors. All remnants of a youth spent in 4-H and going to the Rock River Thresheree.  Each year, many old time tractors and their owners converge near Janesville and show off their stuff.  I recommend it. The advancement in farming can best be seen when you see the advancement in the tractors used. I'm partial to the very old Rumleys. They're run by steam, you know.

Photo credit: Dave Reasons taken in Penfield, IL 2012

8. Total count of animals I take care of every day: 52.  50 poultry, 3 cats.  We had one duckling drown last week. However, Dave saved 5 more from the same fate. I've learned most of my stuff about incubating eggs, feeding, tending and such from Back Yard Chickens forum.

9. I officially converted to Catholicism in 2008 but was raised 1/2 Catholic 1/2 Methodist.  Dave says that's not possible. I told him I was living proof.  As a kid, I went to Mass with my Grandma while staying with her during summers in the Cashton, WI area. At home, Mom was officially Methodist, but rarely attended.  For most of my childhood years, I thought that the priest was not actually bowing before the host, but checking the level of the altar. That was one level altar!

10. Yes, I did spend about 5 years on welfare. I became pregnant at the age of 22 with my Son, Alex.  His father ....well let's just leave it at he was not willing to be a father........left us. Actually, I left him. But let's not quibble. During that time I was receiving welfare, food stamps, Section 8 housing and a medical card. I used the time I was on it to go to Tech School, get a degree in Robotics and get ourselves off of welfare. Alex was 4 when I graduated with an AA In Electro-Mechanical Technology.  All those people out there who tell you that welfare is a dead-end are mostly right.  It takes a certain mentality to get off of the dole.

I don't like being told what to do, I don't like people knowing my business and most of all I did not like the stigma of being a welfare mom. At that time, it was still a stigma and I did not like it one bit.  It would have been easy to just give up, make more kids and stay on it, but I wanted MORE out of both my life and my sons'. To this day, my only regret was who Alex's father is. I don't regret the time on welfare, nor my Son.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Making lemonade out of life

There are just some days where you have to take everything that goes wrong and find the good in it.  Like watching a juvenile female goose suck water out of the leak in the hose.  I've been meaning to fix that hose, but haven't gotten to it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Duck Tails

I wake up every morning and get out between 5 or 6 every morning to 'release the hounds'.  This is the shot of the back 40 this morning as Sissy and her Posse were out grazing.

We put the 2 goslings I hatched in the incubator with her 3 babies yesterday afternoon.  I had them out with the ducklings in the pen, but the ducks were beating them up.  So I thought to put them with their own brothers and sisters.  Sissy looked at them, said, "Honk" and led them all away. I guess the adoption is complete then!

I've made these little pockets out of wool roving that was on sale as yarn for $1.00 at the fabric store.  When baby ducklings first hatch, they like to burrow under stuff to make them feel like they are under mama's wing.

I cannot walk around with baby ducks under my arm, so I invented these little pockets.  In the nursery, I put the pocket on it's side and the ducklings snuggle inside and sleep. It's funny to see naught but a little yellow ducky tail sticking out the edge of the pocket!
It's actually a pretty easy knit on size 10 1/2 needles.
Cast on 30, knit in stockinette for a while...I think I did something like 12 rows, bind off 5 at the beginning and 5 at the end, knit 10 rows in stockinette, then cast on 5 stitches at the beginning, and another 5 at the end.  Knit for the same rows as before the decrease (12 rows in my case, then bind off.  To construct that into a pocket, you'll need to follow the letters:

Match the letters to the corresponding letters and sew.  It's best to sew up the sides first, matching A's sewing down to C's on one side, then B's to D's on the other side. Then sew along the bottom, where the corners of both C and D will meet in the middle of the skinny part of the I.

Once the sewing is done, I put a row of single crochet across the top to make it sturdier.  They'd make cute little baskets for stuff too.

Now that hatching is over for the year, I am thinking I'll throw it in the washer and see how it felts. Maybe that will make it a firmer pocket.

See? I still knit.  It's just odd stuff that comes off the needles. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Sissy's babies hatched! She's got 3 Uncles and one Daddy who are her Nannies.  It's hilarious to see them all looking after these 3 little ones.  They are little fluff balls that waddle behind Mama where ever she goes.  As soon as I can, I will get a pic of the babies on her back.  It's cute. At times they are under her wing, but if they are sufficiently warm, they just nap on her back.

There's still a lot of hissing and charging from the Uncles, but Daddy has calmed down a lot. Sissy's got them out for a tour of the lilac bush in the picture.

This is Molly on her nest. She got a late start. After spending most of the spring running away from the guys, she finally decided to let them near her...which led to mating.  She's got 11 eggs under her.  Dave's been building nests to see what is the optimum dimensions for them.  This one is 3' square by about 8" high.  The concrete block in front helps her get in an out better.

We're revamping an old Tobacco stripping shed to turn into goose quarters with areas for our gals to nest.  Hopefully with all the boys taking mates, there will be less off an issue with space. Right now, Molly's nest is about 10' from Sissy's nest and Ron would just go bonkers trying to force her off hers.  We now have a nice L shape made from straw bales to separate them.

The ducklings over 3 weeks are now in the outside pen with Mama Duck.  She's got a damaged foot and is taking Baytril antibiotics for another 2 days.  Mama Ducks' right ankle looks to be permanently FUBAR. We'll see how she does on it after the course of antibiotics. It's kinda hard to think about culling her. She's got a mate and a loyal friend in Percy.

I'm on my last batch of hatched ducklings. Down to the last one.  That will make..(I'm counting..hang on...15 in the pen, 10 in the nursery, 4 in the warming box...29 ducklings I've hatched in the last month to 6 weeks.  A LOT of hatching!  They're our 'livestock' so to speak and will be this winter's meals.

However...I've had more than one request to sell some of these organic, free-range ducks after I've dispatched them.  I really didn't think of that, mainly because there's a TON of regulations, red tape, $$ to hand as bribes just to do that.  I cannot afford it, and I am sure we would not meet the standards by the Government just to sell 3 birds.  I mean there's probably about 300 pages of OSHA and EPA regulations alone!

It pretty much sucks ass when the government prevents a person from making an honest buck. Of course, if you've not heard about the story of the man who rented his cows to people who paid him to milk the cows, store the milk and then hand it to them when they came to get it, well then:
Wisconsin raw milk farmer acquitted on 3 of 4 criminal charges
It's been an enlightening thing for us farmers.  We are very wary about selling anything we produce these days due to the government being against it.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

So many things I'd like to say, but...

I'm nice? Well-behaved? Taught better manners?  Ah I don't know.

Y'all remember that shortly after Christmas I invited family to our home to celebrate Christmas, right?  Man, I had the best intentions, a good dinner, great family fun...even Skyped Deb in so she can see her family.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  I've saved the photos from this debacle, because up until the moment my BIL intentionally started the fight w/ was going very well.(I'm deliberately trying to forget my BIL's emotional abuse of me. I'm considering the source) My In-Laws' were talking of this huge get-together in the summer for their 60th Wedding Anniversary.  It was going to be fun.

That weekend is here and all the rest of the family are in BRF celebrating.  We got an invite, and discussed it.  After all was discussed, we were pretty sure it was an empty gesture.  We don't go where we're not wanted.

There's still a lot of animosity, a ton of pain, and a ton of bad feelings that I have about this whole thing.  I just don't interact with people any more because honestly? I don't trust them. Superficially, sure. What's there to lose by offering a good day to someone? But interact with people? become their friends? trust them? I'm sorry, but no.

I could not even trust my own extended family.  They hate us, Said it to our faces that we're stupid and evil.

HATE us. How does one get past that?

I had myself thinking that maybe it was a good thing that this happened. I mean, spend the rest of our lives thinking that his parents really loved their son, and respected, that could be devastating for a kid, right?  Instead, make for damned sure you tell him how low you think of him, right? I mean, political ideas are SO much more important than family! Maybe I should be glad to be set straight on how things go at the In-Laws'.

But it's not a good thing.  I've racked my brain for months now, trying to figure out how I can fix myself of this problem.  I've come up with one conclusion.  I can't fix it, because I didn't do anything wrong.  All I wanted was a good Christmas. All I wanted was to celebrate with my family, who I *thought* loved their son and at least respected his choice in a wife.

Boy. was I wrong!