Above all, try something. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Preparing for the Buck

 It's goat breeding season around the Coyle house! To breed our three does this year, we decided to rent a buck from a local breeder. We postponed our breeding season this year by about a month so as not to run into any 'birth' conflicts...if you know what I mean. With that in mind, we should see some baby goat kids running around the ranch sometime in May or June! How many cute babies can we handle in just a few short months, you may ask yourself! Uh....we may be asking ourselves the same question?....With the possibility of three does kidding this year, it is SURE to be an adventure.
Since we cannot expose our two nine-month-old doelings born last spring to the buck, we had to build a separate area for them to live while he joins the herd. This is their first time away from their mother doe, Janet, which will mean they will finally be officially weaned this week. It should prove to be a loud week around the Coyle homestead. Nubian goats are known for their, ahem, vocal skills...
 Once we had a new area fenced in, and Pfeiffer approved it, we taught the doelings how to enter the shed through the small poultry door and find their food and water. 
 Look how fat these two babies are! Janet obviously had no shortage of milk this fall but with their new diet of strictly hay, they should start to take on svelter figures soon enough.
 Flo. What a ham she is...Just like her mother Janet.
Tomorrow we drive to Bozeman to pick out our buck of choice and bring him home for a month. Stay tuned for photos and news of buck happenings. 
And brace yourself for a month of buck jokes....I've been saving up.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Consumer-Free Baby Thoughts, Elk Processing, and a New Mouser

"Are you going to have a baby shower?"
The question has been asked of me at least a dozen times. I consciously have to tell myself not to cringe.
Don't get me wrong, I love parties, but what I DON'T love, often associated with said showers (whether it's a bridal, wedding, or baby shower) is the consumerism usually involved.
Yes, we are adding to population of humans. But do we really need to add to the population of baby crap on this earth? An avid reader of Craigslist, I often find myself perusing the 'Baby' section in complete amazement. Ad after ad selling 'necessary' baby items "New With Tags" or "Never Used"...
I have to wonder, how many of these items people paid for full-price at the store to "not use"?
Plus, have you ever gone to the thrift store, or dump? They are chock FULL of baby gear, much of which is in near perfect, if not new, condition. Not only is this stuff purchased for almost EVERY baby but then discarded of after infancy passes, sometimes in as little as two months?! ACK! So much waste.
Now I'm getting all worked up.
I guess my point with all this ranting is this: if a baby shower has to include a bunch of new baby items (in a bunch of packaging, grrrrr....) that most of us already owned once and discarded, then NO, I am not interested in a baby shower.
After explaining this theory as gently as I can (which sometimes isn't very gently) in response to proposed baby shower question, I am often met with either a confused, glazed-over look, or the beloved response "Well...we probably have some things for you from when so-and-so was little....".
And...our journey towards a sustainable family progresses.

 Although we have gotten a 'few' new items (as gifts) thus far, I can count them on one hand, the outpouring of support from friends with gently used baby gear to donate to our cause has been fantastic. Each week I take a quick tour through a thrift store, scoring a handful of items, or get an email from a friend or relative with something to 'give' the up and coming Coyle baby.
Pictured above is just a portion of the infant clothing we have already acquired, spending only about $50.
The added challenge, is we are looking for gender-neutral items!
 With reusable diapers in the plan (I don't feel the need to explain this at all) we have had the GREAT fortune to be blessed with a huge lot of both prefolds and covers, ranging in size from new born to toddler from a few close friends. These washable cloth diapers are worth their weight in gold, being able to withstand hundreds of washings without wearing out, costing no money for several years. outside of the cost of the energy used to wash them, and creating almost no waste, besides grey water. And I haven't even touched on the health benefits cloth diapering has to offer... 
Best. Recycled. Gifts. Ever!
Money spent: $0
High Five.
 Ed brought home half an Elk last week, and we had our work cut out for us at home for about three nights!
Here's some photos from the processing...
Doing it ourselves saved us about $300 compared to the (not very good) butcher trip last fall.
 Ed's parents gave us a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid that we finally were able to put to work.
It worked great and was very easy to use! We also employed a used Food Saver my dad gave us last year....which we liked, for the vaccuum sealing purposes, but disliked, for the plastic used. You win some, you lose some. It ain't easy bein' green...
 Elk burgers, anyone?
 A pre-Thanksgiving cocktail party this weekend gave me the excuse to experiment with some hor derv's. Above are Almond Crusted Chevre Grape Truffles. They were so easy to make and so yummy!
With the upcoming usage of the "West Wing" of the cabin this spring, we decided it was time to get serious about the mice in our home. Welcome home, Martha Washington, our latest addition to the Coyle Clan, our first feline! Rescued from the barn of a local hay salesman, she is a three-month old Calico, and seems to be adjusting just fine to the move.
The dogs.....are still unsure.
Well, that's all the news for now from our neck of the woods.
We hope this entry finds you well.
Hugs and Kitten Bites, The Jack Creek Coyles

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Redneck Weekends Happen

 This weekend's happenings.
The does have recently decided to throw out some serious milk my way, so I made some cream cheese, pictured above. On the left is blueberry strawberry, and on the right is vegetable garlic (our favorite).
These cheeses are the best, and a great excuse to splurge on bagels!
 With the leftover whey drained from the goat cheeses, I am experimenting with Lacto-fermentation?
Apparently this makes super healthy goodies, quickly fermenting veggies, breaking down thier carbohydrates into lactic acid, which is ultra restorative to the digestive tract. Above are some half gallon jars of cabbage and carrot sauerkraut fermenting, both veggies harvested from the Coyle garden. I hope it turns out well and will keep you 'posted'.
 We brought home a splitter on Friday to work through our dozen or so cords of wood that ed harvested this summer and fall, and what do you know? A SNOW STORM. What a start to a long day we had. Our friend Kyle is helping me with the splitter in the photo above.
 Still have a long way to go!
By the end of the day, and with the help of our neighbor from Diamond J Ranch next door who brought a second splitter, we had gotten through all but two of the cords. Boy was I sore!
On Sunday morning, Ed and Kyle (who spent the weekend at the ranch to help us with the wood) went out on an elk hunt and found success! Since we don't have much room in the freezer this year, as we are still eating our elk from last fall, Ed and Kyle are splitting the meat.
We plan to try out our new meat grinder and food saver machines this week, processing our elk at the house this year for the first time.
Pictures to come!
Hugs and snow on your boots,
The Coyles