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Monday, November 24, 2014

State of the Homestead

I won't lie. Things still aren't normal around here since Tank passed away. We keep seeing him in his favorite spots and we'll break down and cry when we hand out his favorite treats. The other dogs have been so sweet. They seem to sense our deep sadness and try to cheer us up, giving us kisses and hugs. Of all the dogs, Iko misses Tank most. They were very close.

We mope a lot. I hadn't had any desire to go online though I've tried to answer emails and personal messages. Thank you for that guys. Your heartfelt condolences meant a lot to both me and Greg.

All these babies are gone except for the big guy in the middle.

In an effort to get back to the world of the living, I'll start out with a homestead report.

Garden: We wuz robbed! I try to keep up with weather changes. I knew the polar vortex was going to hit as far south as Texas, so Greg and I covered several beds of tender veggies with sturdy tents of heavy plastic. I ran out of plastic so I dug up the few remaining pepper plants in a last ditch effort to save them.

The polar vortex was harder than the plastic cover could endure. ALL the plants died. Now I wish I had tried to put them in pots. I especially hated losing all my tomato plants that were full of plump, but still green tomatoes.

The onions, garlic, strawberries, bok choy, and beets survived without any protection and did just fine.

The hard freeze lasted almost a week but we're back to the upper 60s again. Generally, we don't get real cold here until January and February.

Chickens: The Marans will head for the big chicken coop in the sky within the next couple of months. I just have to make room in my freezer. Despite our best efforts we haven't stopped them from eating their own eggs, so they'll have to go. 

Come 2015, we'll probably incubate some eggs from the black Australorps. The hens are getting a little old and they'll need to be replaced next year. They're good chickens. Calm, friendly, and good layers. The Marans on the other hand are all a little schizoid. I should've put them in the freezer months ago.

Rabbits: We've had no luck at all procuring another blue New Zealand. I've decided to settle for another breed until the right one shows up.
Freestanding hay manger
Goats: I finally let the boys run with the girls. I might as well. I think the bums did the dirty deed back in October when Greg fed the animals for me. He didn't secure the latch to the locked position, and goats being goats, they figured out how to slide the latch open. My gut feeling is that two of the three girls are pregnant, but I won't know for sure until their udders fill up.

When they were set free, the boys chased the girls (as boys do), but once the girls started ramming them with those sharp, pointy horns, they finally settled down.

Greg built me a hay manger. It holds almost an entire bale of hay and is off the floor so it doesn't take up any more space. Goats are notorious for wasting hay and we hope this will slow them down.

Future Plans: We're thinking of moving animals around. Greg saw a friend's layout for a chicken coop/run that looked like a luxury resort for chickens. We'd like to start moving more of the animals to a centralized location so we'll build the new chicken cabana near the goats.

The rabbits in turn will move into the existing chicken coop and run. It's built like an aviary so no predators can get in. It'll give them more room to move around and allow them to have their babies in a more natural environment. Since the enclosed yard is big enough, I might also grow some miniature trees or grapes under the protection of all that fencing.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US. We plan on having a quiet holiday this year, but I'll still put out a big spread, enough for man and dogs.

Don't forget to take pictures of your holiday table. I'd like to do a fun blog hop to show off everyone's holiday table on December 29th. I even created a blog badge for the event. Here's the original post with the details.

Feel free to take one of the images below for your blog. If you can't copy it, email me and I'll send you the jpg.

What will you be serving for the holidays? For Thanksgiving, we usually have turkey but since we'll be alone this year, I'll be serving duck. For Christmas I found an excellent recipe for rib roast. The trick is to find a roast that won't break the bank! 

What are you serving this year?



Darke Conteur said...

*hugs* Tank will always be around you guys. Take note and keep an eye open for 'strange' things. I thought I heard LittleCat meow the other day and almost went out of my mind with guilt.

I am so amazed at how you can keep all those animals. Husband thought keeping chickens and what not, but after the whole fish thing, no thanks.

Anne Gallagher said...

We're eating at my mother's Thursday. Unfortunately, she decided to order out instead of cook. Who knows what that will taste like. Thankfully, the Chinese restaurant is open all day.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: A funny thing happened only yesterday. We were watching tv when a side door we thought was locked, blew open. Greg went to investigate and I told him not to close it right away. It could be Tank wanting to come in.

I know how you feel about LittleCat. You never stop looking for them.

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: Aw, that's a shame. Not that the store-bought meal won't taste good, but it's not the same as home-cooked.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I love reading about your homesteading efforts. =o)

We're going traditional again this year - turkey all the way! Hubs cooks for Thanksgiving and he always does an excellent turkey. Christmas mine and I do ham. Although, a duck does sound good. Maybe I'll do a duck for New Years.

And now, I'm hungry.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Hugs to ya and the menagerie.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Love the new hay manger! And you know i love hearing about your farm. I was going to send you an email this morning, checking to see how you're doing, but i'll hold off since you have this post up. I'm still thinking of you guys, though.
I'll be (trying to remember) taking a picture of my Xmas eve spread, when we serve crab legs and potte. It is a delicious feast of awesome

Stacy McKitrick said...

I purchased the Thanksgiving meal from Bob Evans: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, rolls, and pumpkin pie. Yep, plenty enough for the four of us. I just have to go buy the cranberry sauce (and maybe some cool whip). I miss those huge Thanksgiving dinners my grandmother used to host. Heck, I just miss my grandmother! :)

Maria Zannini said...

BE: I think I love the leftovers most of all.

I'm not sure what we'll do for New Year's yet.

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: Thanks, Mac. For some reason I feel especially sad today. It's just hard to let go.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Thanks for thinking of us. We're still having a hard time coping. I guess it makes it worse because it's around the holidays. I always made Thanksgiving plates for the dogs and Tank was always especially appreciative.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: Grandmas make every meal special.

You weren't kidding you don't cook!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Feeling for you and your missing dog. We'll be having lots of turkey on Wednesday and then cold sandwiches for days after.
At Christmas we have a buffet with turkey, ham and lots of other goodies on Christmas Eve. On the big day we have leftovers and just hang out and eat.

Angela Brown said...

Hey Maria,
Tank was your baby. He was also so loveable that I can really understand you guys missing him still. I can't help wondering how much of the gentleman in Tank rubbed off on Iko?

I'm still up in the air about what to really do for Thanksgiving. I'm trying to give the ex a chance to spend the holiday with Chipmunk. But if he doesn't take advantage of the chance, oh well, I'll enjoy the holiday with her :-)

Hugs to you, Maria. Please know you are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Jackie Burris said...

Maria we lost Karls mother early am Saturday morning, she had a massive heart attack Friday afternoon and passed at about ten to two on 22nd.

With the funeral Wednesday morning have a feeling this Thanksgiving will eat baked chicken breasts with stuffing and side dishes.

Take care and Tank may have passed on but you and Greg will obviously have "moments" probably for years and honestly that is not a bad thing as memories help heal.

Mike Keyton said...

Being busy is a fairly good antidote for grief, and in one very important sense you will always have Tank, Maria. Ref Thanksgiving would you believe one in six people over here celebrate it? Now I call that food envy😉

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: My favorite kind of meal is served buffet style. I love being able to pick a taste of everything on the table.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Iko seems lost without Tank. He really depended on the big guy to call the shots. Lately he's been craving more attention than usual which is fine. We want him to feel secure.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: I'm so sorry for your loss. How awful to have lost her so suddenly.

I hate when deaths occur so close to the holidays. Holidays are never the same after that.

Take care, hon.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Being busy helps. It's when I slow down that I feel his loss the hardest.

Re: Thanksgiving in the UK?
How weird. Are these ex-pats or Brits I wonder.

Either way, it's a good excuse to feast.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Maria, no words. Just (((hugs)))

Rebekah Loper said...

*hugs* I still expect to see Tabby around the house, and it's been nearly a year since he passed (actually, it will be year weekend after next).

When you're ready to, rearranging the furniture can sometimes help. We don't have the same sofa anymore that we had when Tabby was around, and while I still expect to feel him stretching across my shoulders on the back of the sofa, it's not quite as heartbreaking anymore since there's not as strong of a tactile memory to go with the expectation, you know?

But, if your grieving is anything like mine - and so far it seems to be - then you're not going to want to move things for a while. For me, I had to clean up certain things - like the bed we'd arranged for him the last few days in the living room right by the furnace closet (it was warmest there), and the IV bag, etc. Things that reminded me of how bad it had gotten.

But I had to leave things that reminded me that he was there. That he had existed. It took me a few days to move his food dish from the kitchen, or to pull the extra litter box out of the bathroom, and to put the string away. Sadly, Winnie doesn't really play with string, but Tabby went bonkers over it.

So just take baby steps, and know that it's so okay to cry. I cried myself to every night for at least a week afterward.

But the important thing is that our fur-babies aren't suffering anymore. *hugs*

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Yesterday was a particularly bad day for me. It's like the full realization hit me all at once all over again.

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I had to remove one of the food dishes yesterday. That one tiny act made it feel like I was pushing a mountain. It's like I didn't want to let go.

You're right though, changing the environment will help. I'm just not sure where to start. I seem to see Tank everywhere.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

We'll have the usual spread with turkey and whatnot. Whatnot is my favorite. Happy Duck Day!

Anna Soliveres said...

So sorry to hear about Tank. :( We lost our ten-year-old Pom last year and to this day, I still feel the loss as deeply as it was the day we found out he'd passed.

Hope your Thanksgiving is full of love, and surrounded by friends/family. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: My favorites are whatnots too. We probably won't have too many this year since it's just the two of us, but I might make some appetizer whatnots to nosh on before dinner.

Maria Zannini said...

Anna: Thanks, Anna. I think it'll take a while to recover from losing Tank. We'd been through so much with him. His absence has been keenly felt.

I'm sorry to hear about your Pom. Even though we carry on, losing a loved one leaves deep wounds that aren't visible to others.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Hey, Maria, take care and have a happy Thanksgiving. (My brother is deep-frying a turkey)

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: Happy Thanksgiving, hon!

Rula Sinara said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love your farm update :). Our chickens experienced their first snow yesterday. I'm not sure they liked it so much lol. We also lost our first to a predator attack...a hawk. She was one of my favorite Barred Rocks. We also lost one Black Australorp to egg binding a month or so ago. The rest are doing well though. I wish I had a goat!

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: Sorry about your chicken loss. I've had coyotes do a grab and run with my chickens, but fortunately, I never experienced egg-binding.

Re: goats
They're a lot of work, but they have so much character. You never know what they'll get into next.

Marian Perera said...

I just saw the news about Tank. So sorry. He looks so warm and loveable in the pictures, I can only imagine how adorable he was IRL.

LD Masterson said...

Oops, I somehow missed commenting on this. Rabbit question - if you get another breed, will you keep your New Zealand separate or allow cross-breed babies?

(I wish my teenage granddaughter had sharp pointy horns to settle the boys with.)