Friday, December 2, 2016

Monarch Butterflies on Tea Bags

I finally finished the custom order for 5 paintings of monarch butterflies on tea bags. Here are some photos of the process and the finished paintings. I received an order for 2 more from someone else yesterday. I may paint some extras to put in my Etsy shop.











Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Buck Arrives, New Puppy, Barn Kitten, More Eggs, Bending Rebar

So much has been going on lately! We were given a new puppy, an 11 week old Japanese Chin that is absolute adorable. We named her Posey. We also rescued a barn cat from the Humane Society to help us get a handle on the problem we are having with mice stealing our grain in the barn. Her name is Alma and she is a very cute but slightly feral 4 month old grey tabby.

Today the buck arrived to breed our Boer goat Bee. We also got a delivery of 50 bales of hay in the same trailer that the buck came in. The chickens have started laying more and there were 5 eggs yesterday up from one egg a day previously.

The logger came and did a final walk through on the land. We mapped out the areas where they will cut trees and clear land for more goat pasture and garden area. Then there are all the other things that come up or need to be done on our little farm, like Don finding a creative way to bend rebar to hang a heated water bucket using the tractor or me finding a stash of acorns in my muck shoe on the front porch this morning.


Meet Posey, our new Japanese Chin puppy. She is 11 weeks old and already owns my heart <3 p="">



This is Alma. She is a 6 month old silver tabby that we adopted from the humane societies "Barn Cat Adoption" program. They ask farmers to keep their new cats in a large crate for 2 weeks so that the cat become imprinted on her new surroundings and doesn't run off. They even lent us a large wire dog kennel for this purpose. In the photo below Don used his hay pull to pull the crate up into the hay loft where he set it up.


Don pouring out some fancy grain free cat food for our newest employee and resident mouser.  

 This is her home for 2 weeks in the hay loft until it starts to feel like home to her. We left the small crate with a bed in the large dog crate so it would be like a little den to her. You can just barely see her peeking over her bed in the back of the pink kennel.

 The hens have ramped up their laying from one egg a day to 5 eggs today! We have a light on a timer that turns on at 4:00 in the morning to help give them enough hours of light a day to lay. It is safer and kinder for the birds if a very low watt light goes on in the dark hours of the morning and does not stay on at night and suddenly go off as the he's are trying to get up onto their roost. They don't see well in the dark and the light going out abruptly may cause them to injure themselves as they try to get up onto  the roost or prevent them from getting up on the roost at all.

 This girl prefers to use the milk crate instead of the nesting boxes on the wall. 

 Collecting eggs in the nesting room

 The girls and boys wandering around the barnyard and venturing out into the road.

 Our beautiful helper Clara. She is such a cheerful, hard worker and a real Godsend to us. 

 50 bales of hay all loaded up into the hayloft!

 On the left is Bandit, the young buck that we had brought in to breed to our girl Honey Bee

 Bee and Bandit 

 Bandit getting used to his new surroundings

Scarlet, on the left, is Bee's daughter and she is too young to be bred this year so she is being kept on the other side of the fence line. She is not liking being separated from her mom.

 Don needed to bend some rebar to hang a heated water bucket in the second goat paddock so he improvised by using some holes in the bucket of his tractor.
 It ended up working perfectly!

Somebody decided to store some acorns in my barn shoes that were on the porch overnight. There were a couple of them up in the toe part of the shoe :-)



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Painting Monarch's on Tea Bags

I have been working on a custom order of 5 paintings on tea bags of monarch butterflies. I have been using gouache paints and they are just perfect for this application. The colors are so vivid and work well on the fragile tea bag paper. Painting on the tea bag fibers reminds me a bit of painting on silk.











Friday, November 4, 2016

Welcome to the Goat Hut

Clara, helped Don get the doors put on the goat hut. We have a buck coming in to breed Honey Bee and we needed to divide the paddock in half with electric fence.  Then we needed to build a hut for the buck and Bee to be in on one side while Scarlet is on the other side with access to her stall in the big barn.

 Welcome to the goat hut. Come on in!

 Originally we had the door on the back but I wanted it on the side to have a higher door. Don moved it but didn't make it higher :-/

 Don working on the door saddle

 Clara putting a latch on the door. Don is just a blur of activity as usual.

 Think it will hold the snow? 

 This little lady jumped up on the fence to see what all the activity was about. 

 Mama and Daughter checking out the new hut. Neither one are going to like it when they are separated,. When we separate them just to cut hooves or worm them they beat and scream and carry on. It may be a loud and long month while the buck is here lol.

 Bye for now!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Liberating Roosters With a Final Offering of Sage

 Well the day came when we had to cull four young roosters from our flock. Nobody likes that day but they had reached maturity, were abusing the hens and even hurt two of them.  They were old enough that we were able to determine which personalities would work best to keep with our flock and which definitely would not. The two we ended up keeping are Welsummers. They had the best mix of predator aggression for protecting the flock yet they were extremely tolerant of us and have shown no aggression towards us. 

We butcher using the kindest method we know. The first thing we do is go into the pen with the roosters and burn sage as on offering of gratitude. We say a blessing prayer and thank the roosters for the sustenance they will give to us. We honor their beauty, life and the nutrients they have gathered from the rain, sun and earth into their bodies. I tell them that we are liberating them from their life as roosters and that they can move on in what ever form they want to. We burn the sage smudge stick over each rooster and then begin the process of transforming them into food in the kindest, most respectful way possible. 

 Don and Clara holding 2 roosters in front of the killing cones. The bucket below will gather the blood which will be composted. These cones hug the roosters in an upside down position which sedates them.

Don is holding a Buff Orpington rooster upside down so that the blood rushes to his brain causing a sedation effect which calms the bird down greatly.

 
 Once the bird is calm and still it is slipped into the cone which calms the bird even more by holding it in a snug embrace.

 Clara is calming one of the Welsummers before placing it in the cone. 

 Clara placing the rooster in the cone

I do not cut the heads off of the birds or sever the trachea when butchering them. It is my belief that the resulting suffocation causes the bird to suffer. By only cutting into the carotid artery and jugular vein the bird peacefully drifts from it's already sedated state, (from being upside down), into unconsciousness, and finally, death. Until death occurs the heart continues to beat pumping the blood out of the body. It is a very peaceful death compared to other butchering methods. If you cut the trachea (windpipe) the bird flails about in panic with an adrenalin rush from suddenly not being able to breathe. I have butchered birds both ways and once I learned to only bleed the bird out and not cut the head off I noticed how much kinder the process was to the bird. 

 I am scalding the birds at 145 degrees to loosen the skin on the feet and the feathers for easier plucking. Clara is plucking a bird o the bowl.

Don and Clara plucking the birds in the front yard where there is access to running water via the garden hose. 

 Singeing the pin feathers and hairs with a torch. 

 Clara and Don had to leave for work at this point so I was left with the job of evisceration



 After the carcasses were eviscerated    and washed I put them in this strainer basket to drain the water off so they would be nice and dry when I bagged them. This helps prevent freezer burn when the are stored in the freezer. First they will spend three days in the refrigerator as the enter into rigor mortis where the carcasses will stiffen, by the end of the 3 days they will have relaxed and become tender.


 We ended up with 13 pounds of whole chicken. I forgot to weigh the feet, hearts, gizzards, livers, and necks so probably over 14 pounds in all. 

In our previous homesteading years we would try to use every usable part of the animals we butchered.  I used to tan the hides of the rabbits and goats and sew them into various items. We used to give the hooves, ears, horns etc.. to the dogs. I also used to make stock from the bones and can it in a pressure cooker. I saved some of the lovely tail feathers from these roosters and I also saved the wings with the feathers to preserve in cornmeal and Borax. Clara is going to help me stretch the wings and get them drying tomorrow. This is my first time preserving whole, feathered chicken wings and I'm looking forward to it.

So it was a productive day and it's always a great feeling to add your own home-grown organic meat to the freezer.