Happy Easter Week! The sunny weather this past Saturday makes me feel all warm and fuzzy like spring bunnies, chicks and lambs! But that feeling left yesterday with the “wintry mix” of rain, sleet and snow. I hope that was just a moody day for Mother Nature. April in Minnesota can be so unpredictable!
Dan, Nathan and I spent the entire day outside Saturday, working on projects and soaking up the warm sun, politely ignoring the gusty winds. Nathan’s lip cracked and bled from the dryness, but doesn’t seem bothered. I set up the electric fence around the garlic to protect it from the goats and we flung open the barn doors to let them taste Spring. Nathan and I sat on the ground and just enjoyed watching them run excitedly from place to place, undecided where the best patch of grass was.
Dan prepped the cow yard for drilling prairie grass seed, returning it to a pasture state. Last year it was home to pumpkins, squash, melons, beans and sweet corn. Last fall we also acquired a three acre piece that runs parallel to our driveway. Dan tilled up that ground in preparation for planting conventional soybeans this year, and then next year we will drill in native grass seed and return it to it’s original pasture state, giving our growing goat herd plenty of area to graze.
The warm weather means the goats are loosing their heavy fur in spotty patches, making them look a little mangy. And after making circles around the acreage their fluffy fur attracted some burrs making them look diseased. Our kidding season is going to be sporadic this year, at best. After renting a buck this December, he passed away on our watch, and it didn’t seem that many of the females got bred. So Dan rented another buck from a friend, pushing our due dates anywhere from May to July! The family units are all thrilled to be reunited and loved running around, huge bellies jiggling from gorging on nature’s best. Nathan could not get enough of watching them, even when we came in for lunch, he stood by the patio window, pounding on the window and talking to them.
Friday Nathan and I went out to do chores for Dan. I left him playing in the protection of a pine tree with his toy tractor and went to collect eggs, since I had let the chickens out. Every morning Dan has continued to find one or two dead chickens inside the coop. Actually, the gory details are they were headless, which is what clued us into the idea that it was a mink or weasel. I peered over the door to see if any chickens were still laying on eggs and came face to face with our sneaky predator. I stood there, partly shocked at seeing him in broad daylight, staring at me with little beady eyes.
What to do? What to do? My mind was racing. That’s what a mink looks like! Is it dangerous? I’d heard they can be vicious so I didn’t really want to chase after it and try to step on it or grab it bare-handed. I went with the “trap it” plan racing around to close the chicken door quickly, but obviously that was silly since he gets through another place at night. Dan spent the night filling in every single crack and Saturday built a custom trap baited with goat tongue, hoping it would get desperate. No luck yet, but no dead chickens since then either! This is the risk we have with free range. Translation: We need to get a protective donkey or fierce llama!
Food is our life. This week has been all about the food. After a lot of nagging from Dan, I finally defrosted our lone goose from our first year on the acreage, when I thought we should raise every creature known to man kind. I was intimidated by the thought of roasting this fowl, this bird, that is known to be a little greasy, and historically a Christmas meal. I channeled Julia Child, mustered up some bravery and slathered the skin with lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper, stuffing it with garlic and lemon. It turned out pretty well, with crispy skin, and I was careful to drain the fat over the course of cooking. Now, I wouldn’t say I love goose, but the legs did taste like turkey. More importantly, I faced my fear!
Friday afternoon we had a play date with a friend, then Friday night I invited another friend over for dinner. They are the kind of true friends that see past the badly-in-need-of-a-remodel-kitchen, messy toys on the floor and don’t judge me based on the status of my home. What a relief! My Mom bought me a subscription to Magnolia Journal, a publication from Fixer Upper, that featured spring salads. The recipe wasn’t listed, but from the picture I duplicated a fresh strawberry, spinach, candied pecans, brie with strawberry vinaigrette salad. The main dish was a Brushetta pizza with pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. So good! Dan was trying to take advantage of daylight, and Nathan needed to be put to bed, so we ate in four courses: wine and cheese, salad, roasted carrots, and then pizza.
Saturday we grilled out brats, after a hard day’s work of projects and planting potatoes. If we’d had more time, we could’ve planted radishes, lettuce, spinach and carrots. Maybe next week.
What are your Easter plans?
And that’s the news from this I-saw-the-mink week on the farm!