Monday, May 28, 2012

Silly Goats, Fudge Failure, a Fawn, and a Favorite Recipe

Most weeks there's at least one thing unique, funny, or (rarely) scary on the ranch.  This week was no exception.

I often take a look at the goats from the front porch of the house, to check that they're okay, and to see what they're up to.  One of the things I really enjoy is watching them romp and play together.  Most of the time they're walking around or lying in a dust bowl they've created in the sun.  Earlier in the week when I went to get the goats out of their pen, I noticed that Luna had gotten her head stuck in the fencing.  The battery has died and I haven't taken the time to put the new one in yet, because they typically leave the fence alone.  I guess they figured it out.  This is the goat who recently lost her horn, so she has this sharp little tip protruding that's weak and sensitive.  I discovered that she had actually put her head through one square, and then another, and another, so she was pretty well tied up in there.

I found the outermost strand and started to work it slowly over her head.  She was calm to begin with, but as soon as she felt that she was being released, she suddenly started tugging and tossing her head, pulling backward.  She was so frantic to get out that the taunt cord skimmed over that horn hard, and she started to bleed.  I couldn't remember if flour was the go-to styptic when one didn't have styptic powder to stop a bleed, so I ran in to check in with Jessica (who was tutoring Becca on algebra) and see if she remembered.  She didn't.  I'd remembered cayenne, too, but Jessi was worried it would sting.  I did a quick internet search on my phone (thank goodness for smart phones!) and decided to use baking soda (cayenne and flour were also mentioned).  Luna wasn't bleeding badly, but I wanted to stop it so it didn't get worse.  I put some baking soda on the bleeding, and amazingly it really did stop!  I thought that perhaps she'd learned her lesson and wouldn't mess with the fencing again.

I was wrong.

On Saturday, I knew something was wrong when I saw her lying down facing the fence, all alone.  Typically she is with her brother or mom, but they were lying together on the other side of the pen.

When I got closer, I saw that she'd done it again.  At least this time it was only two squares and not three.

The goofy goat again went through her yank-hard-and-freak-out routine, but luckily didn't hurt herself.

We've been putting the four youngest chicks outside in a small pen next to the Americaunas, who are two weeks older and yet still much larger.  For a week now we've let them get to know each other slowly, and now that it's time to try putting them together, it's hard to do, because I know there will be pecking as they establish order and I don't want anyone to get hurt.  It will probably all go smoothly, but you never know.  Saturday night, Becca and I were taking the chicks out to put them into their box to go indoors, and Becca put Chilly (because she's so "chill" aka calm) on her shoulder.  I asked Bex if she was going to put Chilly in the box and she said no, she wanted to hang out with her for a little bit.  It's amazing how trusting this chicken is of Becca and how she seems to enjoy her company.

(Bex is not always thrilled when I take her picture.)

While I was getting the box set up inside, I asked Becca to fill their water tower.  While she was walking back with it, I heard her talking to Chilly, who had started chirping loudly, saying, "Well, if you would stay on my shoulder, you wouldn't have a problem, would you?"  When she walked in the room, I was surprised to see Chilly sitting on her head!

Now, I've seen parakeets and cockatiels on shoulders and heads, but this was a first for me.  I couldn't stop laughing!

After we cleaned up and finished the rest of the chores, it was time to make dinner.  We'd decided earlier to make the farfelle (bow-tie) pasta with grilled chicken and herbs, and most of it was prepared.  All I had to do was put all the ingredients into one bowl and add the lemon vinaigrette dressing.  This is one of my all-time favorite meals during the summer.  What made it really special this weekend is that all of the herbs are growing at my house, so I walked out to the garden for parsley, cilantro and basil, then to the back for tiny baby arugula and some mint leaves.  I "wing it" with the amount of herbs in this recipe.  I used to pack them into measuring cups and do exactly what the recipe called for, but found that there were really too many herbs in it, so I grab some handfuls and put in what I have or what I feel like.  The recipe is simple and is at the bottom of this post.  Enjoy!!

When we were at the country fair Thursday night, there was a booth there selling homemade fudge.  I decided that I wanted to make fudge.  Sunday morning was the time that I set to do that.  Everything went well until the end, when I realized that I had to beat the candy mixture with a wooden spoon "vigorously and constantly" for 5 to 10 minutes.  Huh?  I did my best.  Becca helped.  It wasn't forming properly, so I put it under the mixing stand, and still couldn't get it to the right consistency.  I finally gave up and put it in the pan, hoping it would set a little.  It tasted good, but pretty much needed to be eaten with a spoon.  Until I start lifting weights and become proficient with beating things with a wooden spoon, I'll search for a recipe I can handle and will let you know when I find it.

Later that day, we needed to make a trip to town.  I always keep an eye out on our long driveway for wildlife that might find its way in front of my car.  We've driven behind coyotes, a bobcat, quail, a fox, and narrowly avoided being run into by a large wild pig.  (The quail are especially funny.  They jump out in front of the car and run madly, quickly turning their little heads left, then right.  I don't know if they're looking back at me or if they're looking for an escape route.)  As I drove around a bend I saw a small animal bouncing in front of us.  At first I thought it was a long-legged hare, and we were excited because we haven't seen those often.  Then the creature paused briefly to turn and look at us.  It was a tiny fawn!  We could see the little white dots on his backside and it's long ears, held straight out to the sides like airplane wings.  Then it turned and started hopping quickly again.  We lost sight of it around another bend and it must have taken off into the brush because we couldn't find it.  We'd really hoped to get a picture, but it wasn't meant to be this time.

It was only Sunday night of a three-day weekend, but already it was feeling like summer had been here for a long time.  I'm sure that at the end of it we'll wonder where the time went.  We're enjoying the days together and are trying to plan at least one project a day. 

Grilled Chicken With Fresh Herbs and Farfelle
From Cooking Fresh magazine - Spring 2008

Kosher salt
12 oz dried farfelle pasta
10 Tablespoons olive oil
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Black pepper
7 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1 cup packed fresh cilantro sprigs
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, torn
1 cup packed fresh arugula (tough stems removed)

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil.  Add the farfelle and cook until al dente, 10-12 minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss it immediately with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Let the pasta cool completely in the refrigerator.

Heat a cast iron ridged grill pan or an outdoor grill.  Brush chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Grill chicken until golden on one side, 4-5 minutes.  Turn the breasts, season with salt and pepper, and continue to grill until golden and cooked through, another 6-8 minutes.  Let the chicken cool and cut it on the diagonal into 1 inch strips.  Set aside.  (I use a George Foreman grill and skip the olive oil, seasoning before grilling.  I set the timer for 10 minutes and check if it's cooked all the way, and it usually is.  Fatter breasts might take a couple more minutes.)

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 8 tablespoons olive oil with the lemon juice, garlic and cumin.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the farfelle, sliced chicken, parsley, cilantro, basil, mint and arugula and toss well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (I deviate from this, too.  I mix the dressing in a smaller bowl, and add the chicken and herbs to the pasta, which was already cooling in the large serving bowl, then pour the dressing on top.  Easier to toss that way.)

Put the salad into a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 6

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