Do you want to know what's happening TODAY at Havenscourt Homestead?

After a long break, I've decided to take up the 365 day photo challenge again.  It was fun, and I got a lot of good feedback.  So here's to a new year of photos!


12/7/13 - Words of Wisdom

Happy to have both.

10/3/13 - Homemade Beef Stock basically for free!

The best part of having friends who go in on a whole or side of beef and/or getting to know some local butchers is all the freebies I manage to get.  This is nine pounds of grass fed beef bones ready to go into the oven for roasting.  After about an hour in the oven, they will go into the stock pot along with some onions, carrots, and celery.  Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be canning the most delicious and nutritious beef broth MONEY CAN'T BUY!  

Where as people used to want every usable part of the animal, nowadays folks seem to only want steaks, a few roasts, and ground beef.  So it's easy for me to score some tasty bits.  Sometimes I get liver or kidneys.  I often get leaf fat.  And I always get bones.  Lots of bones!  I sense some rich stews are in stock this upcoming winter.

10/2/13 - Do you know what I like more than a bowl of home made chili?

Not having to eat chili twice a day for three days straight!  When I make a HUGE pot of chili, I keep enough for a couple meals and freeze the rest.  I used to fuss with plastic containers that never quite stayed sealed and freezer burn on top because of the open air space.  But not anymore!

I love love love my Foodsaver Wide-mouth Jar Sealer.  It allows me to vacuum seal pint jars of my favorite home made items for a quick meal later.  Since the air is removed and a vacuum is formed, I no longer have to deal with freezer burn and off tastes.  I just pull one of these jars out in the morning and pop it in the refrigerator.  That evening it's thawed and ready to reheat.  Nom nom nom!!!

9/26/13 - Silly Share

These are my house slippers.  What can I say?  They're fun!

9/9/13 - Best seat in the house barnyard.

Lap Chicken training starts early here at the homestead. This 5-1/2 week old light brahma readily jumped up into my lap for an afternoon siesta.

9/4/13 - Just in time for the Fall Migration

When I was up in South Lake Tahoe back in June, I picked up several very nice large pine cones with the intention of using them as suet feeders.  But then they just sat in a paper bag on my porch.  Today, I finally whipped up a HUGE batch of suet.

My recipe?  Whatever is in the cupboard.  The base was homemade beef tallow to which I added half a jar of peanut butter and a jar of Tahiti.  These were melted together over medium low heat to combine them.  Meanwhile in a large bowl, I started digging through my pantry.  Oatmeal, Klondike pancake mix, dried bread crumbs, whole wheat flour, pecans, dried cranberries, and of course a whole lot of bird seed.

Once the hot liquid was added to the bowl, it was all stirred up with a wooden spoon until well mixed.  I ended up adding additional birdseed and whole wheat flour to get it to the right consistency.  Then I let it cool and harden a bit.  Finally, I spooned it into the pine cones, filling all the nooks and crannies.

It was a fun project and personally I think they're rather artsy fartsy!

9/3/13 - Good Morning!

At 23 hours old, Gretel's girls have ventured out into the barnyard and concurred their first mountain (hay bale).  When they got tired, I plopped them both into my mom's arms.  Gretel immediately came over to make sure they were okay.  Such a beautiful little family!  And my mom is in Goatling Heaven.

The one at the front in my Mom's lap is named Tinker Bell because she's so tiny.  I haven't decided if I'll call her Tink or Bella.  The darker one in my Mom's right arm is named Pixie Dust, or just Pixie for short.  They are super sweet.

9/2/13 - ZONKED!

Gabriel doesn't look comfortable at all, does he?  Spoiled rotten little bugger!
9/2/13 - Bourke says "Na na naaa naa na"

Lulu's triplets, Bourke, Vicky, and Kori have decided that between the hay bale and the shelf is an excellent place to hang out and take a nap.

8/30//13 - Hello Great Grand Nanny!

My mom arrived today and will be visiting for a couple of weeks.  First order of business?  Plop a 10 day old doeling in her arms.  Vicky promptly fell asleep.  My mom is completely relaxed.  Welcome to your vacation!!!

8/28//13 - Two years and counting...

Today marks the second anniversary of my infamous Huckleberry Boo Boo.  I've lost track of the number of casts I've been in and I have quite the collection of cam boots.  I'm out on disability for the third time dealing with this foot, but at least I have good company while I'm sitting out in the barnyard in the shade with my foot propped up (doctors orders).

8/23//13 - Pappy, you're SILLY!

Pappy was walking around the barnyard this morning for about an hour with a feather stuck to the end of his nose.

8/19//13 - Baby Ruth

Yuppers!  My Great Grand-Nanny finally named me last night.  I like being called Ruthy!

7/7/13 - Really, Gretel?  REALLY?

Gretel has decided the best place for eating breakfast is on TOP of breakfast.  Really?  Sheesh!

4/11/13 - Hey, Good Looking!  Whatcha got cooking?

Geary has gotten down to the serious business of setting eggs.  I believe she has 12 under her, although they are not all hers.  I stuffed in several from Anne and Bonnie when she wasn't looking.  Who knows if any will hatch.  I'm thinking Spanky is going to be a proud papa in about a month.

2/12/13 - Almost time to up-pot several of these seedlings

I must say, I'm actually pretty proud of myself this year.  I've started WAY MORE seedlings than I've ever tried to start before, and so far I'm having excellent results.

About half the varieties I want to try this year required starting indoors.  Almost all of them are already up.  Only a few that I planted last weekend are left to germinate.  The other half of the varieties are direct sow.  And with a 3 day weekend coming up, I am excited to be well on my way.

2/7/13 - Surprise Surprise!

Look what popped up with my seedlings!


Several of my tomato seedlings popped up sometime today.  These particular ones are Purple Prince.  The seeds were saved last year by my friend Tina.

1/31/13 - So much promise in such a little package!

My first seedlings are emerging.  Melons!  Mmmm.... I hope I have as much success with them as I did winter squash last year.  Nom nom nom!

1/26/13 - Note to self:

When making Pumpkin Puree Pucks, use the foil cupcake liners.  They pop right out of the pan once frozen. The paper liners stick to the pan and require a little prying to get out.  Regardless, I just put a little over 5 lbs of pumpkin puree into my freezer - all from one pumpkin!  Mmmm.... pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin...

1/15/13 - Brrrrr!

My orange trees are all wrapped up and ready for the frosty night.  Luckily I don't get really hard freezes here.  But when night time temps drop to 36 or below, these lovely trees get to wear their warm blanket.

1/12/13 - All trussed up and ready to go in the oven!
Isn't it a beaut?  I love fishing for rainbow trout, and I had a string of very good luck right before the New Year.  This one is stuffed with sliced lemon, fresh rosemary, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.  The skin has been rubbed with olive oil to help make it crispy.  This is going to be good eating very shortly.  Nom nom nom!


1/12/13 - Another Frosty Morning
Frost on poppies, glistening in the morning sun.  The shimmering little ice crystals will fade quickly.  But for now, they are beautiful.


1/5/13 - Look!  It's Christmas AGAIN!
Nom nom nom!


12/25/12 - Merry Christmas everyone!
Honey Glazed Lemon Roasted Guinea Hen for Christmas Dinner.  Nom nom nom!

I hope you had a safe and warm holiday. Personally, I can't wait to put 2012 behind me.  The New Year is looking good from my vantage point.

8/8/12 - Bonus picture - SHEER BLISS!!!!!
Drenched in butter and OH SO GOOD!  Can you believe I GREW CORN IN A PLASTIC BIN?  How cool is that?  I think I'm going to go buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate!


The first harvest from my rooftop SIPs.  Be sure to check out today's post for complete DIY instructions.

8/12/12 - Bonus picture
Meet the new chicky-booms!  Clockwise from the front:  Kellogg, Karen White, Corn Flakes, Mica Paris and Lisa Stansfield.  Yes, I'm feeling retro and naming several ducks (Anita Baker, and Mary J.) and chickens after performers I like from oh... 15 years ago?  Kellogg and Corn Flakes earned their names as they're both Welsummer chicks.  The Kellogg rooster is a Welsummer.  Hopefully, my Kellogg won't turn out to be one!

Check out Sammy!  He's in the cover image on the Facebook page for Unicorns the movie.

Personally, I think the image I captured on that day is much more flattering and captures his personality better.  Plus, isn't it cool the way that blade of grass perfectly outlines his neck and chest?  It's almost as if it was drawn there.
Also, I'd just like to add what a super good boy he was that day.  Other than a few short breaks to stretch his legs while the photographer was changing cameras and looking at Polaroid proofs, Sammy had to sit in that position for several hours.  He was very patient and I was so proud of him!  That's my man!!!


Lunch:  Red Zebra and Juane Flamme tomatoes fresh off the vine topped with a few coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves and little balsamic vinegar and olive oil.finished with a little fresh ground pepper.  Sometimes the simple things are absolutely the best!

7/29/12 - Bonus picture!
In other news, this is the first year I've planted eggplant in my garden.  I have two different varieties that both produce smaller fruit.  Both are doing wonderfully!

The bad news?  Several of my sunflowers are covered in ANTS and APHIDS.
The good news?  Several of my SUNFLOWERS are covered in ants and aphids.  That means everything else in the garden isn't.  I guess this is a good example of companion planting.  The Sunflowers bear the brunt of the attack so that everything else can thrive. I may go out and spray some soap and water on them at some point soon.
Ah, yes!  My favorite part of the year has arrived, when I can walk into the garden and have lunch in less than 10 minutes.  Today I dug around for a few small potatoes, picked a pepper, a few tomatoes, and a small bunch of chard.  A quick saute of the veggies and then add a couple of fresh eggs and TA DA!  Nummy veggie scramble.  A bit of pepper and a little grated homemade cheese and it's the perfect meal.

Boo sleeping in my lap.  What a sweetie!

Boo has settled in and is starting to come out of her shell.  She's claimed the wheelbarrow as her own.  It's now her favorite spot to sleep.

Today's enrichment item for the chickens is courtesy of my friend Nola.  She collects these tasty morsels when she's gardening.  When she has a good number of them she drops them off on my front porch.  It's always such a joy to come home to a container full of snails.  Weird, I know.  But it's true!
These are a couple of my Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkins.  Aren't they beautiful?  Last year I only got one small pumpkin of this variety, but I decided to try it again.  And boy of boy have I been rewarded.  In order to keep them off the walkway, the fruits are resting on straw stuffed into glazed pots.  They're like little pumpkin pillows!
So this year, I decided to try growing winter squash and corn in SIPs (Self Irrigation Planters) on the roof of my garage.  I plan to write an entire post about this once I harvest.  But after going up on there this morning, I couldn't help but share a few photos.  There are numerous squash, and by golly I have CORN!  
Time for some serious applications of Tanglefoot all around the perimeter.  I'm also going to smear a bit at the base of each ear of corn just for good measure.  The last time I tried to grow corn, it was almost ripe and beautiful when suddenly it was covered in ants who sucked every last bit of sweet juice from the kernels.  Not this time.  Defenses are being launched in full force!
This is the first squash, a Burgess Buttercup, that is growing on my new wire trellis over the patio.  There are several others (Kubota, Sweet Meat, Table Queen Acorn, and Burgess Buttercup) on the roof of the garage.  I hope to have several squash growing along the wires as the summer progresses.  This is the first year I'm growing winter squash for storage other than pumpkin.  I'm super excited with my success so far.
7/15/12 - Bonus picture!
"Alive and KICKING"... the ASS of that damn black and white stray cat that has decided it likes chicken nuggets for breakfast.  It picked off 10 chicks when I was up in Tahoe.  And I only have 3 remaining from the 10 replacements.  It also got one of my ducklings.

Oh, what I wouldn't give to see it when it encounters the live wire and gets ZAPPED with 12,000 volts.  Take THAT you *&%#!  *&%#!  lousy piece of  *&%#!  Yeah!  *&%#! won't be eating any more tasty *&%#! little chicks for breakfast will you now?  Huh?  Tough guy?  Go ahead.  Run away like a *&%#!  *&%#! to your Momma.
Nali thinks the claw foot from the duck tub makes an excellent pillow.
If you actually stop to appreciate the beauty of individual plants in a garden rather than taking it in as a whole, you will be amazed at some of your discoveries. This spider has built it's web inside a morning glory flower that is blooming on my bean trellis. It's fun to watch her, but I don't know what she expects to catch in there. Perhaps she's going to lay some eggs instead. I'm sure I'll be looking at her every time I pass this area today. But at this point she's completely enclosed herself no escape hatch. I'm kicking myself for not having my video camera with me while she was doing so. It was amazing to watch.
Gretel is ZONKED out!!!  Such a pretty little thing too.
Today's visitor?  A Buckeye Butterfly.  So beautiful.
Not sure what happened to this little bugger, but s/he doesn't seem to be affected by the injury.  Nope!  Fluttering through the yard as happily as can be.
Although all I did was supervise, I'm happy to say that the entire goat shed was mucked out today down to the ground - a good 12" - 15" of deep litter.  It's now all in 3 compost bins ready to be watered, compacted, and then worked by the chickens.  No, I don't usually turn my compost.  I let my animals do all the work.  Besides, I won't need all that black gold until the fall.  So I'm good.

And the goats?  They have a lovely fluffy layer of fresh bedding straw to bed down in.

Thanks go to my neighbor Huey, who I pay to do the hard labor when it needs done.  I'm going to make a farmer out of him yet!

Today's goat enrichment stimulates there natural browsing instinct. Nom nom nom!
Woohoo!  I have little yellow squash!  And since these actually ARE little yellow summer squash, they'll be big enough to eat in no time.  Nom nom nom!
PB has the little'uns out for a morning stroll.  She watches attentively as Little Suzie checks out one of the baby blue wyandottes.  No worries though.  Just a passing curiosity.

It's fun watching her teach them to scratch and which are the tasty bits.  She makes a completely different sound when she finds something and calls them all over so they can see what it is.  She's a great mom!
Climbing on the new hay fort may be fun and all, but in the heat of the day the best spot in the barnyard is in the tunnel underneath!  Having taken over as herd queen, Snowberry has claimed it for her own.  She barely lifted an eyelid when I went over to take her picture.  She couldn't be bothered with me right now.  She's resting, cool and comfy!
The first blueberries of the season!  Even though there were only two that were ripe, I can assure you they were delicious!
Why yes!  According to Anne Bonnie, a 5 gallon bucket makes a FINE bathtub indeed!
5/1/12 - BONUS picture of the day
Two years ago, I bought a Ch-Ching yellow rose to compliment the beautiful red rose I have growing in one of two built in planters in my entry way..  It barely bloomed the first season and then last year it basically died.  I meant to rip it out and try a different rose, but I never got around to it.  The root stock sent out a bunch of suckers, but I just ignored it.  So this spring, the root stock has taken over the planter.  And suddenly I have this beautiful old world style climbing rose blooming profusely.  I think I'll be keeping it after all.
Eco-Friendly Weed-Wackers!  They are very good and cropping the grass down and not eating the flowers or crops in pots.  Added bonus - I have yet to find a snail in my side yard patio garden.
Yes, as a matter of fact, Lulu DOES fit into a large cat litter box.  Quite comfortably I might add.
If you give me more grapes, I'll follow your boat all the way across the lake.  Promise!
Potato Tower 3.0 is complete.  Maybe the third time will be a charm?
My new cinder block bean bed.  Finally figured out something to do on this wall in my garden.  The blocks are set 3" from the house to prevent any water damage, plus there is a ventilation vent for the crawl space and the vent outlet for my dryer.

Because of these two items, the bottom layer of blocks have the holes open horizontally to allow air flow, while the top two layers have the holes open vertically.  That makes this a 16" deep bed.  Plenty of room for beans.  It gets morning / early afternoon sun, and the wall helps reflect the heat.

You have no idea how hard it is to take a picture of a goat sleeping in your own lap.  This was taken yesterday morning before the rain started.  I was sitting in a rocking chair in my back yard.  She was curled up like this for at least half an hour, and at one point I'm sure she was actually asleep.
As close to "As it should be" as possible. Thanks to my brother Jim for the perfect installation. My mother just awoke. And when she turned her head over and saw the bear she laughed. Yes indeed, my dad was a genius when he decided to buy this bear for her. It will provide her with much comfort in the coming days.

Max and Gabriel relaxing in the morning sun watching the little birdies at the feeder.  Life shouldn't be so rough!

Not a bad way to end the day, eh?  Savanna and Little Suzie zonked out in my lap.

I love my little Lulu.  She is such a beautiful Mama!

Lulu decided to get up out of the barn and enjoy a little sunshine!  Of course Sammy, protective as always, is right there by her side making sure she's safe, warm, and comfortable.  He's such a good brother!

My favorite fishing spot.  It's not the best picture, sorry.  If you look really close, you might see that there is a Black-crowned Night-Heron sitting on the log that's going into the water on the far shoreline.

Can't see it?  Okay then, you get two pictures today.  Here he is in the reeds.


With 9 days left before her due date, Lulu is so heavy with kid(s!) that she spends 90% of her time nestled down comfortably in the barn.  She's eating and drinking just fine, but her breathing is a little labored when she lays down.  Not a lot of room inside there.  My guess is that she'll deliver early.
At 5-1/2 months, Candy is growing fast.  She really resembles her mom, Nali, especially in the face.  I have high hopes for this little girl.  Little does she know it, but I've already picked out a handsome buck for her future.  Not yet though.  She's still a kid. My little Candy Baby.  *HUGS*

The Bitch has spawned!!!!

Yes, I named my sourdough starter The Bitch.  The name comes from a line in Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  I read it years ago, and this is the only quote that stuck with me.
"Feed the bitch!" said the voice on the phone.  "Feed the itch or she'll die!"
       - Adam Real-Last-Name-Unknown
Because I plan on making extra bread for the Sunset One Block Feast next weekend, I need a lot more starter than normal.  Plus, I want to test the recipes with this starter during the week just to make sure it comes out well. 

Lavender and Mallow create a beautiful color combination.  Directly behind them is one of my young elderberry trees.  I often sit here and watch the various species of bees that frequent the lavender.  I've counted 6 different kinds on this plant at one time.  When I planned the front yard, I wanted to plant it for pollinators.  I'd say I've been very successful.

Only a year after it was planted, I'm getting a small amount of fruit out of my orchard.  These are Anna apples.  Delicious!  I've also harvested several plums and apriums.  I even have a couple of asian pears growing.

I love coneflowers.  They are so bold, bright, and beautiful.  Happiness on a stem!

I have several varieties of Mallow in the front yard.  This one is by far my favorite.  The contrast between the green, deep red, and light pink just blows my mind.  Beautiful.

My Costa Rican Sweet Pepper plant is so heavy with peppers that one of the branches broke.  Extra supports have now been added for the rest of the plant.  Nummy!

These sloggers and I have been through hell and high water together. Unfortunately, they're not so great in high water. Last winter when we had all that rain, the soil in my barn yard was saturated and there was nothing but mud, mud, and more mud. I broke down and bought some Muck brand boots.

But for summer time work in the garden and barnyard? Love my sloggers!

Steve from Roto-Rooter to the rescue! Wouldn't you know it? I'm expecting 15 or 16 people over here this afternoon and my main sewer line decides to back up. Go figure! Please please please unclog!!!

Pretty please?

This morning I filtered and pasteurized three quarts of apple cider vinegar.  It was made using unfiltered apple juice and wild yeast.  It's been ripening under my sink for quite some time now.  I had actually forgotten it was under there.  I rarely open that side of the cabinet.  I was quite surprised at how light in color it came out.  It's also much less sweet than commercial apple cider vinegars, and perhaps a bit stronger.  Personally, I think it has a lovely aroma and flavor.

In amongst my garden, I like to make sure I have a lot of insect habitat.  So far, the coolest looking bugs I've found are milkweed bugs, black with a red X across their backs.  Not exactly beneficial as they suck the sap out of my milkweed plants.  But I like to take the good with the bad when it comes to tiny critters.  Well, except for Argentine ants.  I hate those buggers.

Today's picture of Nali and her triplets is courtesy of my good friend Carla Lopez.  Thanks!

Tonight we head up to Castle Rock Farm so that Sarah can disbud the little'uns.

Today, I treat you with not one, but four pictures.  I'd like to address your attention to this blog post.  More pictures like this are sure to follow in the coming days.

Yes, I'm a Grand Nanny again!
I love you, Nali

There are finally several Water Hyacinth plants blooming in my pond.  Unfortunately, each bloom only lasts a day or two.  Considering how fast they've multiplied, I should probably have blooms for a week or two.

Yes, yes, I know.  Water Hyacinth are considered an invasive species.  But considering these plants live an isolated life inside my small raised pond (i.e. LARGE glazed pot) with absolutely no way to escape into any nearby waterway (Lion Creek runs UNDER Havenscourt), I'm not worried.  Besides, my ducks find them tasty.  After they finish blooming, of course.  :)
Name that flower!

I can already tell this is going to be a challenge.  Not because I'll be unmotivated to pick up my camera.  But rather because every time I do, I find all sorts of interesting subjects.  The problem will be deciding which one to post. 

I had to pick this image out of 7 contenders.  But in the end, it won out over the others.  I just really liked the bright splash of red and yellow in focus and the textural background.  The 2 little buds on either side at interest to the composition.  I also liked that part of the flower had the sun shining through it while it shaded the other part.

Okay.  Enough artsy fartsy.  I need to go rig up a couple of heat lamps the barn, one for the ducklings and one for the future kids.

Nali, heavy in the final stages of pregnancy, spends the bulk of her day hunkered down in the loafing shed conserving her energy for the big day.  Dutiful as always, Sammy has been spending a lot of time with her making sure she's warm and comfortable.  Snuggled right up next to him, Nali often uses his back as a pillow.