Consecration Acres

"If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy."

Good fences make good neighbors

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…and mediocre fences lead to issues.

Little Margo was attacked and bitten by the neighbor’s two big, livestock-terrorizing dogs this Tuesday.  She was out in our pasture with Penny and Ella when the dogs came onto the property.  At some point she squeezed through a gap in the fence and headed for the stall–I imagine seeking safety, poor thing–and at some point was attacked.  Bethel was the one who looked out, saw what was happening and yelled to my husband, Elijah and Isaiah.  They went out, ran the dogs off and found Margo, huddled in the back of the shelter, bleeding and unable to stand.  We cleaned her up as well as we could, smeared some ointment on her wounds to try to keep the flies off them and I called the vet while my husband went to tell the neighbor that his dogs were out and what had occurred.  The neighbor insisted that his dogs were chained up in the back yard, but when he went back he found that  they were not.  He apologized and said that he was going to have to put the dogs down as he couldn’t keep them under control.  I hope that he makes good on his word.  Another neighbor has already confronted him over lambs killed by his dogs and, unfortunately, I do not know him to be a man of honor (he was the one that illegally pumped our pond nearly dry last year). For the foreseeable future, the goats are cooped up in their stall.  It all makes me feel rather sick to my stomach–the near-loss of our first doeling, the irresponsible behavior of the dogs’ owner, the fact that we cannot use our land for our animals because of that irresponsibility, the apparent necessity of refencing the entire perimeter of the property (including across the pond as that is where we have seen them come through in the past–we have actually considered putting in a berm to divide the pond along the fence line since he does not respect the legal agreement to leave the water for fire protection), the whole idea of adults who are kept in check only by fear of punishment and not by morality.  It is a good reminder to teach my children well about responsibility, stewardship and virtue.  Anyhow, the vet came out, gave Margo a tetanus shot and a painkiller, taught Isaiah how to give her her three-day course of antibiotic injections (he’s got one life skill up on me now–I’ve never given an injection) and gave us a couple of things to watch for.  She seems to be recovering.  She still limps a little, but her wounds are healing well and she’s got her appetite back.  We are very grateful that Bethel looked out when she did.  This is the second time she’s saved an animal by feeling that she should check on it.  This part of this talk comes to my mind.  “I am led to believe that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that the things that are important to us become important to Him, just because He loves us.”  I believe so as well.  I am so grateful that He who is over all inspired a little girl to look outside and save a little goat this week.

The chicks are OUT of the water tank and merrily cheeping away in the converted grazing pen.  Their appetites are becoming noticeable (the bulk of an entire bag of feed this week (!) and I am glad that their time here will be relatively short as keeping up with their needs becomes more challenging.  We got our first eggs from the mystery chicks this week–on the just-barely end of 16 weeks–and so they have been integrated into the remains of our laying flock.  Seven layers, seven mystery hens and a rooster makes for snug quarters in the henhouse.  We need to decide whether we sell the mysteries, stew the old layers as a practice run for putting the meat flock in the freezer, or….I don’t know what else we’d do…add on to the henhouse?  I am inclining a bit toward stewing the old layers.  We lost our last green egg layer to a predator and I’m now less attached to the flock since we’re getting so few eggs (and they’re all brown…yes, I am shallow enough that that is a consideration…it has even been a hang-up when I consider whether we should switch to all Delawares at some point.  Heat tolerance! Meat production!  Egg laying!  Mother hens raise their babies!  Samey egg basket……bummer….maybe we could keep some Ameracaunas as well just to liven things up?) so it might make sense just to call it quits with the old layers when the female chicks mature.

In other chicken news, it appears that our rooster, who the kids have named “Rudy” is rumpless.  I will need to confirm it by examining him, but he appears to have no tail.  This is a concern as he likely lacks the oil gland which would help waterproof his feathers.  For most of the year this is not a big deal but, if we get the rain that we are praying for, winter could be a problem.  I need to do some more research to see how people who raise rumpless breeds handle wet weather.  I also don’t know what this means for determining his breed.  The characteristic is consistent in a few breeds and occasional in others.  He could be part Araucana or just a rumpless Rhode Island Red.  The mystery chicks remain mysterious.

We now have a hand pump on our well.  The one we had installed will pump directly into our pressure tank so that we can have water in the house despite our electricity status.  The pumping is not difficult but, as each pump only produces around a cup of water, I imagine my childrens’ thrill over hand-pumping water would rapidly wane if we had to rely on it.  We also had some issues with the new safety switch that he installed, that are giving us some concern over the status of our well.  We still need to store water and we still need to pray mightily for rain.

In the garden: first peppers!

In the orchard: first ripe fig!  Certain anxious family members kept bringing me unripe figs with big smiles of anticipation on their faces, only to be disappointed, but this last one was actually ready.  I was remembering our plum tree in Oregon that the children invariably picked clean before a single plum had ripened every year.  I’m glad we didn’t re-enact that.

In the kitchen: pluot preserves!  The first batch was very nice, although some of the family thought they were a bit tart.  I have another batch in the slow cooker right now (no burning and a broad canning window) that I think I’m going to try with cardamom.

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