They have arrived!
Friday morning started with an early morning call from the Post Office advising us that we had a box-full of hungry and noisy babies anxiously awaiting our arrival. The boys needed to get the milking done first so the girls and I had breakfast and made a first trip to the feed store for chick starter, layer pellets, lactating goat grain and fencing. (My husband wanted to divide the huge deer-fenced orchard/garden area and set up the lower half for goat grazing to try to cut our feed bill. More on this later.) A couple in a pick-up truck were leaving just as we got everyone out to pay. The wife looked at the girls and then at Joseph in my arms and asked, “So this is your boy?” I smiled sweetly, “Yes.” I knew she was implying “first and only” as well, but sometimes it’s easier not to start in on that in quick, casual exchanges. “You have beautiful girls.” she said and they drove away. I always feel like I’m going out in disguise when I don’t have everyone with me…nobody knows I’m actually a mother of six…
Back to the house to nurse Joseph while Elijah unloaded the car and Isaiah strained the milk. The post office called again at 10:30, just as we were getting ready to leave. Isaiah talked to the woman and told me that they would be closed from 11:30-12 for lunch, so we needed to hurry. I went out to find that Elijah had unloaded the 150’x6′ roll of deer fencing by himself instead of waiting for help! I am rather enjoying having a couple of strong farm boys around the place. Anyhow, off to the feed store again for hay and then on to the Post Office by 11:05…which we found was actually closed from 11:00-11:30 for lunch. So we sat on the bench outside while the PO workers enjoyed their elevenses. As soon as we saw movement and lights inside, we pushed the buzzer and found that they were happy to let us in a little early to end the cheeping! The woman who was waiting on us went into the back (likely so she could clap her hands over her ears in private) while we checked for in-transit losses. We lost one female Delaware (we bought five each Delaware and Golden Comet females to replenish our laying flock), but all the rest looked fine. We got them home, dipped their beaks in electrolyte water to get them started, put a zip-tie on the ankle of each Delaware female and tossed them all into a couple pie tins of gro-gel. Since discovering their digestive systems, they pretty much guzzle and gorge the day away with occasional snoozing. The brooder is still less secure than I’d like–a determined raccoon could fairly easily get in–but the heat lamps seem to be adequate even down into the high 50’s that first night. Aside from that initial loss and a little bit of pasting up, everything is going smoothly. We’ll have our first really hot day tomorrow so we will see how they weather that. And so we have begun Meat Bird School.
On Saturday my husband was planning on getting up early with the boys and putting up that fencing. He sent them out to get started on post holes, but after we talked and I reminded him about wanting to put rows of berries and grapes NOT inside the new pasture (as much as the goats might like that), he said they’d have to re-plan and -position the whole thing. He’s been having some health issues and the day was not looking awfully promising at this point so he called up someone who had said he’d be willing buy them from us and sold the two wethers. I am incredibly relieved. Again, if we had adequate, well-managed pastures and/or alternate feed arrangements in place it would be a good thing to go to Meat Goat School, but the tuition costs are just too high this year. As it is we may just break even. Elijah named the boys Nickel and Dime to go along with mom Penny. Their names were eerily prescient.
I dove in and tasted the sauerkraut this afternoon. It tastes and smells very yogurty right now. After reading up a bit, I discovered that the recipe I had was a very low-salt version so I added some more salt to the brine before I repacked it. It appears that low-salt sauerkraut cultures faster (hence the 4 day culture rather than the 2 week culture) but that it also spoils faster. The book I am consulting recommends adding more salt in the summer and less in the winter and our regular flirts with triple-digits certainly count as summer. Fermenting is really so fascinating. I remember doing sourdough last year–finally achieving that perfect yeasty smell, learning to adjust my summer starter to a drier (slower) mix in order to avoid 4x daily feedings, having bread that was always a little different batch to batch, and how wonderful and miraculous it all was. I look forward to many years of sauerkraut-making and learning all of its particular ins and outs.