Another Set of Twins

One of our does had a set of twins a few weeks ago (March 10) and this time, they were little doelings. Here they are, 9 days old:

Casidhe Does3_19_2015

These doelings are from Aibrean Wit’s Casidhe Ailee x Briar Mtn RCRM Donnal Pol. They are the first Nubian kids for this 2-year old doe, Casidhe, who is the daughter of our herd queen Abbie.

Now the kid count is 4, with a set of bucklings and a set of doelings. With little goat kids and 2 first-time fresheners to learn about good milk parlor behavior on a milk stand, I’ve been busy out in the goat yard.

Four So Far, Mar19_2015

Spring has finally arrived here at the homestead. Seedlings are popping up in the seed flats, early Spring flowers are blooming, birds are singing their Springtime tunes, and the homeschooling activities continue. More later…

Kidding Season Has Begun

Kidding season is here and as of Monday evening, we have twin bucklings!

Cristins Twins, March 4, 2015

These bucklings are from Aibrean Cristin Riley x Briar Mtn RCRM Donnal Pol. They are the first Nubian kids for both our doe Cristin and the buck (Pol) we purchased last year as a 3-week old.

By Monday around 5pm it was obvious that one of our Nubian does, Cristin, was going to have her kids. It was Day 148 and we’ve been watching her closely. We want to be around for the birthing because sometimes there are problems with the delivery of goat kids.

So when it was time to normally close up the barn for the night, we penned Cristin in the birthing pen and I stayed in the barn with her. Around 6pm she had the first contraction and after that I figured it would be an hour or so before she kidded.

Cristin did such a great job kidding, despite a difficult delivery. She is one of our 2-year old does and this was her first kidding. Her labor progressed nicely but she wasn’t able to delivery the first kid easily. We kept track of the time involved and saw that something was wrong — there were 2 kids presenting at the same time. When we saw the third hoof and didn’t see a nose, we realized that I would need to assist in this delivery. Once I was able to determine the position of both kids, I began to push one of the kids back so that the other kid had enough room to pass through the birth canal and out.

Timing is critical when there is a problem or a delay in the birthing process. All birthing problems create increased physical stress on both the mother and the unborn kid(s).  Fortunately, Cristin was laying down and I was able to rearrange one of the kids into the secondary position so that Kid #1 would be able to pass through the birth canal. Thankfully, Kid #1 was presenting in the normal hoof/head position but Cristin was unable to fully push this kid out. I assisted and timed my efforts with the contractions. Within seconds, Kid #1 was born.

Immediately after Kid #1 was born, here came Kid #2. Since this kid was already trying to be born, this was a very fast delivery. Kid #2 was born ‘backwards’ which is back hooves and legs present first. Fortunately, this was a smaller kid and required very little intervention from me.

Cristin had quite the ordeal. She was worn out and stayed down on the bedding straw for about 20 minutes, resting. I stayed with her to make sure she was recovering well. I was glad that my hubby and granddaughter were both helping with the goat kids so that I could focus on Cristin.

Both of the kids were born around 7:40pm on March 2 and they are doing fine. So we have twin bucklings to love on and laugh at.

Cristins Twins, March 4, 2015

Cristin is out and about and being a first freshener, she is learning all about how to be a good dairy goat.

Cristin, March 3, 2015For those who are interested, an excellent write-up with diagrams on kidding is at Fias Co Farm.

 

Pots, Pans, & Cast Iron

When we gutted our kitchen area about 10 years ago, we made sure to install enough kitchen cabinets to hold most of our dishes and our cooking utensils. We designed a cookware cabinet that would contain many of our pots and pans but it just wasn’t convenient to stoop down every time I reached for one of them.  Since I love to cook and make everything from scratch, we have quite a few pots, pans, and skillets — I was bending and down on my knees too often.  Besides that, some of our larger items like the roasting pans and Dutch ovens were taking up quite a bit of shelf room.

We then decided to install 2 hanging racks to hold pots, pans, and skillets. One is just for some of our cast ironware.

Rack for Cast Iron Skillets

Our other hanging rack holds quite a few stainless pans, plus a few of our colinders.

Rack for Stainless Cookware

We found that having a cookware cabinet is great for the large soup pots, lids, and a few large roasting pans. But without having the hanging racks, the pots and pans were stacked much too high and they were difficult to manage. We’re glad we re-organized our cookware because we now have a bit of extra space in our cookware cabinets. And we have room for the cast iron Dutch oven and the Romertopf clay-baking oven in those cabinets now.

Cookware Cabinet AreaWe now store 2 roasting pans in the drawer below the oven and several very large soup pots downstairs on top of my soap and candle cabinet. Plus, we now have the 2 hanging racks for some pots, pans, and cast iron.

Our hanging racks for most of the pans and cast iron skillets provide the easiest way to store and access the cookware that is used the most. I also like how they look against the cabinetry.

A bit of planning and effort made our kitchen more efficient and I’m glad we took the time to do this. How do you store your cookware? Do you have too many pots and pans and need to rethink your own storage system for cookware?

Yard Work and Gardening In February

February is promising to be a month of fickle weather. Last weekend, was jacket-weather so we did some vine trimming along a fence line. We are heading into another Arctic blast now, though, with probable snow later today. That means the rest of the Winter trimming will have to wait.

We are in the process of dropping a very large deciduous tree that is only 10 feet from the house. I transplanted that tree from the woods 25 years ago and now it’s a threatening behemoth so it must go. We devised a plan and are cutting the large top branches first. Two of the branches overhang the house roof but being diehard do-it-yourself types, we have teamed up with reliable roping, webbing, a come-along, and the tractor to pull the branches as we cut.

Once the tree has been dropped, it won’t be long before it’s time to trim the shrubbery in the front and trim some of the fruit trees. Until we can do the trimming, I have a greenhouse that needs to be cleaned and prepped for my late-Winter seed-sowing.

Empty GreenhouseThe 2015 Seed List was just posted this morning and it includes new seeds as well as many of the saved seeds we have. Our seeds have come from seed companies, family members, seed trades, and friends nearby and from afar. We keep viable seeds for the vegetables, herbs, and flowers we like to grow. We also retain some seeds from veggies we may choose not to grow. In all, there are now 5 boxes of viable seed packets and envelopes in our seed collection.

We purchased some new open-pollinated seed to try this year: 12 veggie varieties and 6 flower varieties. Here are the new seeds by category:

  • Beet:  Lutz Salad Leaf Beet, Cylindra
  • Carrot: Muscade
  • Cucumber: Muncher
  • Eggplant: Fengyuan Purple, Ping Tung
  • Leek: Autumn Giant
  • Lettuce: Chatwick’s Rodan, Big Boston
  • Pea: Carouby De Maussane Snow Pea
  • Peppers:  Etuida, Lemon Drop (mild hot)
  • Flowers: Red Cherry Marigold, Italian White Sunflower, Crimson Queen Sunflower, Rustic Color Mix Rudbeckia, Arika Sunflower, Cupcake Mix Zinnia

Last year was fantastic for sweet peppers and some other veggies. Our tomatoes were late to arrive but when they did, we had buckets filled with tomatoes to eat and can for sauces. But our tomato plants were as ugly as can be — the leaves on most tomato plants turned brown so we figured that we may have a virus.  We have cleared all garden debris out and then burned the debris. We will spray our tomato cages with a bleach and water solution this Spring, too. We are erring on the side of caution and are not planting any tomato or potato crops in our gardens this year — it’s hard to imagine this! We are planning to dig 5 new spots in a different area for just 5 tomato plants, though — hoping to have homegrown, fresh tomatoes while trying to allow our soil to heal from a possible virus or fungus. We are only growing our favorite slicers and cherry tomatoes this year and since we have an ample supply of home-canned tomato sauces, we will have enough to get us through another year.

Our plans for homegrown potatoes will take us on a new adventure this year because we have planned to keep potatoes out of the gardens, too. Potatoes and tomatoes are from the nightshade genus, Solanum, so both will be planted outside of our garden areas.

This year, our potatoes will be grown in containers and we will “hill” the plants as they grow. We plan to use some spare buckets and a few of our spare garbage containers, maybe an old 55-gallon plastic rain barrel, too. We are only growing 25 pounds of potato this year so we are hoping for a decent yield.

Without the potatoes and tomatoes in the garden areas, we are planning to grow several plantings of corn plus more melons and Winter squash. And, of course, the standard variety of all other delicious veggies we have seeds for.

Hopefully, in a few months, the greenhouse will be greening up, filled with plants, hope, and activities.  I must have early Spring Fever — do you have Spring Fever yet?

Greenhouse Looking ForwardToSpring

Skillet Meal: Italian Cacciatori

Cacciatori is a hearty Italian dish that was traditionally made in-the-field or in the countryside kitchens. Cacciatori means hunter-style, and this Italian dish was originally a rugged stew made with chicken or rabbit, mushrooms, herbs, and garlic.  Cacciatori was often cooked over an open flame and for the fortunate hunters who made this in-the-field, there might be a freshly butchered rabbit and freshly foraged mushrooms for the stew. So the traditional Cacciatori was an earthy and flavorful meal that was made with ingredients at-hand, whether out in-the-field or at home.

The sauce for traditional Cacciatori was made with a regional Italian wine. Southern Italians made their wine sauce with red wine. Northern Italians used a white wine for their sauce. I make the Southern Cacciatori. Today’s cooks make Chicken Cacciatori and use tomatoes for their sauce, but this is not the traditional, hunter-style Italian Cacciatori.

Skillet-made Cacciatori pays homage to the original Italian hunter-style Cacciatori — it’s a full-bodied, rugged dish with a red wine sauce, served with egg noodles. While it takes a little bit of preparation (cutting the chicken or rabbit into bite-sized pieces, and slicing a few fresh portabello mushrooms) it’s really worth making. Make sure you have a few portabello mushrooms and some dry red wine and you’ll make an almost-traditional Italian Cacciatori in less time, in a large skillet.

Cacciatori

Italian Cacciatori

 

  • Chicken or Rabbit (about 3 cups bite-sized pieces (remove skin and bone first)
  • Large onion, quartered, then sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 8 oz Portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon Rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Making Chicken CacciatoriCut chicken or rabbit into bite-size pieces. Add salt and pepper to season meat, then cook over medium heat in large skillet to brown in olive oil or butter.  Add sliced onion, garlic, and sliced mushrooms. Cook for several minutes, until onion is slightly tender.

Add herbs and wine to cover meat. Cover with lid and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove lid and continue simmering until sauce has reduced and meat is fork-tender — about 15 minutes. Serve hot over egg noodles.

Serves 4.