Goats, rabbits, chickens (pages)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Classes - HERB, KIDS & CRAFT

I am very excited about this season's line up. Not only are we offering our HERB classes, but have added KID and CRAFT classes. The schedules are posted on our website HERE and on our Facebook page discussion board.

The scheduled herb classes are our most popular and we will add even more great classes to the line up after the first of the year--after farmers markets and shows. First herb class- 3 ROOTS- is Sep 13 Tues 10 to noon. Cost $20. We will be studying dandelion, burdock and yellow dock, digging them up and making traditional remedies.

Kids classes are great for home schoolers and are designed to be of interest to all ages. The worksheets and tests are age-specific, but the subject matter, activities and “labs” are appropriate for a wide age range. The science is presented both in understandable, simple language and demonstrations for the young students and also in more technical terms for advanced students. Vocabulary and spelling words are age appropriate.

The Life Science Course-Plants is presented once a month over a four month period this fall, assignments will be given for follow-up at the next class. However, assignment follow-up can be done at home if you elect not to take all classes. Students will make a Life Science-Plants notebook which will contain all their worksheets and projects. The first class- Plant Anatomy- is Sept 6 Tuesday 10 am to noon. Cost is $5 per child. Multiple children discount. Bring sack lunch and enjoy the farm. Moms can sip herb tea and relax during class!

Class specimens and examples will be related to plants and herbs growing at Rocky Creek Valley Farm.

Craft classes are scheduled through December. Our first one on Sept 20 at 10 am to 12:30 pm "Introduction to Milled Soap Making" is being taught by guest instructor Shonna Hilliard from Red Shed Soap. Cost is $20. Sign up early as it is a popular class.

We just moved the kiln and molds to Rocky Creek and will be having ceramic classes after the first of the year. Hoorah!

We will have one craft class a month and the 2012 schedule will be posted at a later date.

Injured Chicken

After chores I sit outside just to soak up the farm. It's so peaceful, sipping my yerba mate tea, cuddling Cassie (Miniature Australian Shepherd), watching the chickens and trying to make room on my lap for various cats and either my computer or a book. Of late the mornings have been so chilly I need to wrap up a bit. Then when the chickens finish feeding they stop by my chair for a visit on their way to free-ranging. Even now they are all around me. Randy, our young Araucana rooster is practicing the art of being a gentleman by calling hens to him so he can share some tidbit found in the grass. All of my young roosters are beginning to behave like men instead of adolescent boys. The hens are grateful.

My main rooster, Jack (half Cochin) no longer has his beautiful long tail and is crippled from the dog attack. I kept waiting for him to get better but he has gotten worse. Upon examination I cannot see anything wrong, no open wounds, no apparent dislocations. It breaks my heart to see him try to keep up. But, he still crows, eats well and mates, so his spirit is strong. I decided to isolate him in the brooder house/pen. I put his three remaining Mables (Red Sex Link/Red Star) in with him to ease the pain of confinement. I'm giving him comfrey/nettle tea--he actually loves it--and soaking the offending leg/foot in comfrey. I put herb salve all over his leg and foot but he promptly removed it. I'm hoping he gets better before the weather turns cold. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beware of Pretty As A Picture Produce

I see perfect produce all the time...large perfectly round perfectly colored cantaloupes, unblemished perfect same-sized tomatoes, corn laid out in neat little rows exposing blonde silks and little yellow rows of kernels so perfect it looks like they've been to an orthodontist. Don't get me wrong, I love it when my garden produces picture perfect veggies. But, for every perfect tomato there are 6 with a little spot, varied color permutations or unique shapes. They look REAL.

Our society is so visual--we want everything we see to look manufactured to perfection. And, chances are, if your veggies look perfect, that's just what they are: manufactured produce. Unfortunately our agricultural commerce is GMO'd and gene-spliced until little is left of Grandma's produce. Give me a tomato with a spot on it--to me it's proof of NO CHEMICAL POISONOUS SPRAYS OR POWDERS. Show me a tomato that has funny little dips and ridges and I'll know it has not been bio-engineered to be just like its million other sisters.

I am an advocate of heirloom seed/plants. I have several varieties in my garden. I love the taste, the irregular look, the smell. They remind me of the garden I had as a kid. Favoring traditional produce is not just nostalgic; it's healthier. I found this great "infograph" that illustrates the loss of nutrition in today's produce.
Check out this link. I love this nifty graphic interactive chart!

Compare 1999 nutritive values to 1955: Corn has 78% less calcium, 26% less phosphorus, 50% less riboflavin and 43% less vitamin C. The chart shows several vegetables that have declined in these nutrients. It's a little scary and just brings home the fact that we must take charge of our health, take charge of our food, take charge of our lives.

Thank goodness we still have choices. Shop your farmers markets for heirloom vegetables (never be afraid to ASK farmers about their produce. Just because they are at a market doesn't mean they grew them!). Grow your own. Join CSAs. Make friends with a farmer! Ask questions. Eat nutritious food. Life is Good. :) e

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Presto Chango: Pesto!

We LOVE basil. And, my customers are pretty fond of it as well. So, I decided I was going to have plenty of basil this year. I planted it by the tomatoes in two different gardens, in the raised beds, in a flower bed and have three jars "rooting" in the green house.

Traditionally, basil--Ocimum basilicum--Treats fevers, cold and flu. Alleviates stomach cramps, vomiting and indigestion. Basil has many reputed medicinal properties, such as the ability to draw out poison from insect bites, as a sedative, for treating digestive disorders, soothing pain, promoting perspiration, and promoting production of breast milk in nursing mothers.

As a food basil is delicious whole leaf--top it on sandwiches, salads and summer soups. And, the world renown Genoa sauce famous for it's versatility, it's rich, wonderful, flavor-packed greeny goodness: pesto. It can be a sauce, a condiment, a topping or an ingredient for other recipes. Although it's quick and easy from a food processor, many folks still like the hands-on, tactile earthyness of using a mortar & pestle.

I do love a good matrix. (check out the Smoothie Matrix HERE)
It puts a lot of info in a birds eye view. I made a new one for pesto that will be on the website ( www.rockycreekvalley.com ) but here is the basics for now.

Pesto's three main ingredients are herbs, cheese and nuts. These three can be switched and swapped to suit your taste or recipe.

Herbs- 2 cups: basil, cilantro, spinach, arugula, parsley, mint, broccoli rabe
Cheese- 1/4 cup: Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, Grana Padano, Manchego
Nuts- 1/2 cup: pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios

Other stuff: 1/4 cup olive oil-extra virgin, 2 Rocky Creek garlic cloves, 1/2 t sea salt, 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper, 2 tsp lemon juice

Put all ingredients except EVOO & cheese in food processor add EVOO in a streat and pulse to desired consistency. Add cheese & pulse. Serves 8.
TIPS: Toasted nuts will UP the WOW factor. Spread on baking sheet for 7-9 minutes at 350 degrees, stir occasionally.
Freeze pesto in ice cube trays to pop into soup this winter.
Walnuts add that extra Omega-3 we all need.

For Chef Gary's more detailed description of making pesto check our website: www.rockycreekvalley.com

MMMMMmmmmm...I can taste it now. Life is good. :) e

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Today I begin the GAP course for product safety--Good Agricultural Practices-- offered by Cornell University. GAP Certification is not yet a requirement and is still only a suggestion from the USDA but many restaurants/grocers require it. In all probability it will become the standard and trickle down to the farmers' markets and individual farm sales. I am being proactive here and trying to stay ahead of government mandates. I hope it proves helpful and informative instead of boring and useless. After all, I am sacrificing quality garden time!

Mable is so much better today. She is perky and gobbling food right in there with her sisters. I may let them out of their confinement later today...test them to see if they remain on our own property instead of meandering over into the great abyss where the chicken-eating dragon lives-- aka the neighbors yard and German Shepherd.

All of the young Mables (20), Millies (22), Tillies (10) and Lillies (4) have reached egg-laying maturity--20 weeks. I am confident that when this hot weather breaks (yesterday we registered 111) I will have eggs to eat and share. My customers are getting restless and I fear they may wander over to other chicken havens to sample their offerings. However, there are NO eggs like Rocky Creek eggs and my customers have attested to this on numerous occasions. Perhaps it would be a good thing for them to try other chickens eggs; it will make them appreciate Mable's all the more.

And, I have had nothing but rave reviews on our garlic. This is the first time I've ever grown it and am so happy folks love it. It is a robust garlic and not for the feint of heart and just full of healthy nutrition. Life is Good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot Heat

Convalescing Mable walked out of the coop this morning of her own accord. She is obviously still not well, but getting much better. The other two Mables are keeping her company and cheering her up which, I'm convinced, speeds her healing process. Jack mopes around outside their pen...at least he is not going over to the neighbors without them. The fence is not up yet...still waiting on the phone company to mark their lines...we all know what waiting on a utility company is like.

It is 105 in the henhouse. They are sprawled all over; dug down into the ground like little half-buried feather-covered melons. We spray the henhouse to settle the dust and make it somewhat cooler; we pray for evening and a reprieve from the heat.

Hubs took my first load of recycled water to the garden from my vegetable washing station. The beans and tomatoes were grateful.

I got good news from the doctor today about the sunspot on my arm...benign. Plus, my blood pressure was perfect (their words) and they said I could stand to gain a few pounds and that I had a happy face. Wow...Christmas in August. Life is good.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mable Saga- Day Three

It has been three days since the Great Chicken Massacre. The next day after the fiasco Hubs rescued a Mable literally from the clutches of the domestic predator. She appeared to be in bad shape: wing drooping, limping, lethargy, pale. I gave her some Rescue Remedy, some nettles and comfrey in her feed and isolated her in what is now the bunny pen/chicken brooderhouse (a tiny shed with roosts and hay connected to a good sized chicken wire pen with a rabbit hutch). Charlie, the rabbit, looks on with casual interest.

Recuperation Mable was pretty out of it the first day and come evening I lifted her into the brooder house and set her on a soft pile of hay for the night. Yesterday morning I lifted her outside and put her food and water beside her. She pecked at her food (oats and herbs) and drank a little water, but was still totally uninterested in her surroundings. By bedtime she hadn't changed much. Today we went thru our morning routine. She wasn't as pale (her comb was pink instead pale pink) and although she wouldn't get off her bed until I picked her up, she seemed a little stronger.

Everyday since the incident we have watched the remaining three Mables and Jack closely; sure enough two of them meander around until they finally get over to the neighbors house with the offending dog. We go over and round them up, Cassie's herding instincts kicking in and heading them home. After numerous times our frustration level has risen dangerously. Finally, this morning Hubs says we have to pen them up.

So, the only place to do that is in bunny/chicken pen where Recuperation Mable is convalescing. I'm afraid they will peck her and interfere with her healing at best and possibly kill her at worst, but decide to give it a try. I pick up the troublesome two and as soon as their little chicken feet hit the ground they begin to gobble up Recuperation Mable's special diet. The moment she sees them she limps over to them, gets between them and half-heartedly pecks at the food. She's happy to see them! They ignore her, but at least they weren't picking on her.

The third Mable had been busy laying an egg while her two trespassing sisters were on their adventure. After I collected the egg Hubs and I agreed that she should be shut up with the others as well just as a preventative measure. She was just in time to get in on the last of the gobble-fest; their little crops are stuffed and puffed out like a balloon. They also seem to love the nettle/comfrey tea that replaced their water.

I waited to see what the dynamic would be after the food was gone and they got bored. Recuperation Mable started grooming one of the newbies. I think she's definitely glad her sisters are in there with her. But, Egg-layer Mable was stressed. She was fast-pacing along the fence wall and working herself into quite a dither. After watching a few minutes I elected to let her out rather than allow her to make herself sick. The second I opened that door she raced outside and into the chicken house and up on a nest. What? She's already laid one egg today. I just checked on her a few minutes ago and she's still on the nest. I have no idea what she thinks she's doing, but she seems happy so I'm going to leave her to it. As long as she stays home and away from the neighbors, I'll be happy, too.

Hubs has the fence all marked but now we have to wait on the utility company to come out and do their thing. Hurry up and wait. Yes, in spite of it all, Life is good. :)
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