Thursday, May 30, 2013

Orphan Adolescent

Little Goosey graduated today. He outgrew his tractor tire fortress and was badly in need of a new home.

At almost four weeks old, some feathers are finally starting to appear amid all the down.

So, this morning I loaded him into a dog crate and then onto the pickup.

Of course, the first thing he did was poop in the crate, but he didn't seem to be too stressed. I drove a couple of miles up the road to the Guest House farm. His new home is the outdoor pen we used for last summer's half-grown chickens. He was a bit baffled by all the open space, but a little feed helped him settle in.

Since there's no water in this pen, we used a feed tub for a temporary pond. This was Goosey's first experience with water more than two or three inches deep.

He isn't quite big enough to get in and out of the tub, and he can't fly yet, so I made him a ramp.

When I left, he was happily feasting on fresh grass.

When I checked on him late this afternoon, he was doing fine. I made sure he knew how to use the ramp to get in and out of his pool before I left. Later, Robin put an old barrel in the pen so Goosey would have a safe place to sleep and get out of the sun. It's a little scary putting him in this wide-open pen, but he's growing so fast that he needs to be someplace where he can move freely. There's always the possibility of some critter, hawk, or eagle getting him now, but he couldn't stay cooped up any longer. Let's hope nothing does him any harm.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Puppy Tales

It's been quite a while since I wrote about our puppies. Leah and Red gave us six beautiful, healthy puppies, born on January 8.

Just a few minutes old.
Now they're over four months old!

Tug-o-war is their favorite game.

They've done a lot of growing and changing since my last post about them. Three have gone to their forever homes.

Remember Chunky Monkey? For a while he was the biggest puppy, and round and roly poly.

Now he's known as Jeb and has a wonderful home on a dairy farm. Just before he left us, he looked like this. That's his forever mama, Cindy, holding him.

This little guy was the smallest of the boys. We called him Little Buddy.

Now his name is Ruger and he, too, has a wonderful farm home, where's he's living the high life. His forever mama, Donna, is spoiling him rotten. I'm glad.

This little girl was really a big girl! She was the largest puppy at birth. She and Chunky Monkey (Jeb) continually took turns as the biggest one of the litter. We called her Ginger because of her brown nose, which makes her a true red Kelpie.

Ginger is now Hou (short for Houdini) and she's also on a farm, learning to work beef cattle like her mama and papa. I'm wondering if the Houdini name is indicative of her talents...good ones, or bad ones???

This is Ernie. He's always been Ernie, and he'll stay Ernie because he's not going anywhere. The main reason we wanted to raise puppies was to hopefully get another dog as good as Red. I don't think we'll ever get one any more like his papa than Ernie.

He looks just like Red and has the same loving, easy-going personality. He's some dog!

We call this little girl Kate. She was the first puppy to learn to climb out of the puppy yard in the basement. She''s always been the adventuresome type.

She's headed for her forever home in another week or so. She'll be on a beef farm, too. Along with working cattle, she'll also be a companion for an elderly man and his elderly dog.

And then there's Gracie. She was known as Trouble for a long time. Even though she has always been the smallest puppy, she was the instigator of the litter.

Gracie is still waiting for her forever home. She's turning into quite a loving little girl, but she can be a bit hard-headed at times (like her mama). She's smart as a whip, though, and learns fast. She's a real beauty, too.

Since they're still with us, Ernie, Kate, and Gracie have been learning to ride in the truck and to leave the horses alone. They have gotten used to collars now, and we've even worked on walking on a leash a little. They've also made several trips to the vet for all their shots and such. Thank goodness they're all done with that for a year. As you can see in the photo above, they're in the chewing stage, and nothing is safe outside. Our yard looks pretty trashy with all their "toys" scattered around, but the hope is that having them readily available will keep the pups from chewing more important things, like the rhododendron bushes.

When I look at all the photos of the puppies when they were so small, it makes me want to do this again. But they have been a lot of work and worry, not to mention expense. Finding good homes for all of them is still a challenge. It's been fun, though, to watch them grow and learn. There's nothing any sweeter than a little puppy to cuddle and love, and we had six! They brought us a whole boatload of that pure, unadulterated joy we were longing for. Regardless of whether or not we do it again, it's been a good thing.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Orphan Toddler

Little Goosey is growing! Remember this photo? It was taken the first day Robin found him.
The photo below was taken this evening. That's Little Goosey in the same plastic tub. He's just a tad bigger than nine days ago!
We kept him (or her?) in the basement for several days, but he needed to be outside and the plastic tub was getting too small. Robin brought an old tractor tire from the farm and filled the rim with water. It made a perfect home! Little Goosey can splash around in the water or sunbathe on the grass in the middle.
There was one big drawback, however. Puppies!
Well, dogs, actually. Six of 'em, all curious as could be. Robin reinforced the cover to keep out not only dogs, but cats (we have three) and any other critters that might think a little goose delectable.
This evening we moved the tire to a new spot in the yard. During the process, Little Goosey hung out in the garden buggy.
I wanted to put him in the grass to take some pretty photos, but Robin said we'd never catch him! So back into his fortress he went.
I know pet geese can be a real nuisance, even mean, but right now, Little Goosey is a sweet little thing. Hopefully we can take good care of him until he's big enough to survive on his own.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Our Rhubarb Rite of Spring

A delicious rite of spring for us is a rhubarb custard pie. Rhubarb is one of the first things to be ready to eat from the garden in the spring, and in my opinion, in a pie is the best way to eat it. Rhubarb is a humble thing, growing in a mound of large green leaves. Ours is a bit worse for the wear right now, since we had a terrible thunderstorm Friday evening, with high winds, heavy rain, and hail!

Not to worry, though, because it's not the leaves that we eat. It's the lovely red and/or green stalks.
Robin cut some Saturday morning for our first pie of the season.
My mother always pointed out that many, if not most, rhubarb recipes include other flavors, such as strawberry, cherry, or pineapple. Her favorite pie recipe contains only rhubarb, with the secret ingredient being nutmeg. To make my mom's recipe, you need three cups of cut rhubarb.
In a large bowl, beat two eggs with two tablespoons milk.
In a separate bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.
Use a whisk to combine the sugar mixture into the egg mixture.
Then stir in the cut rhubarb with a big spoon.
Pour the mixture into an unbaked pie crust. I like to make the crust first and have it ready and waiting.
I also roll out the dough and cut strips to make a lattice top at the same time.
Once the filling is in the crust, put a few pats of butter on top.
Weave the dough strips over the top and crimp the edges. Beat an egg with a little water and brush over the crust. Then sprinkle with a little sugar.
Bake the pie for 50-60 minutes at 400 degrees.
It's so delicious! Serve it plain or with vanilla ice cream.
I've never bought rhubarb, but if you don't have it in your garden (or a friend or neighbor who does), I think you can sometimes find it in grocery stores this time of year. Farmer's markets might be a good place as well. By itself, rhubarb is way too sour to eat, but with a goodly amount of sugar, it is delectable. I found this website, The Rhubarb Compendium, which has everything you might want to know, and much more. There appears to be hundreds of recipes there as well. Here's wishing you a happy spring, with rhubarb!!
Rhubarb Custard Pie
2 eggs
2 TBSP milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 TBSP flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups cut rhubarb
8" unbaked pie crust
Beat eggs and milk in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, and nutmeg. Stir into egg mixture with a whisk. Stir in rhubarb with a big spoon. Pour mixture into unbaked pie crust and dot with butter. Cover with lattice top (or leave uncovered if desired). Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes.