Well, of course, I already had two spoken for, and I hated to make somebody come from Polo for just two hens when she wanted four. So I told her she could have the two Rhode Island Reds plus one of the cross-breds (Barred Rock/Orpington) that I had intended to keep. Both people showed up yesterday and paid $15 each for the hens, so now I have some money for chicken feed. Although with only four hens and a rooster, I won't be buying nearly as much feed! The two pullets, of course, are laying, and Chickie started laying again last week, so I'm sure Mama Hen will be laying within a week. Four hens should average giving me three eggs a day, and that's more than enough for me and Cliff. I kept the rooster around to fertilize the eggs, so if Mama Hen decides to set again, we can raise more babies. I really enjoyed her little family last summer.
But chickens aren't all we sold. Cliff's sister and her husband have decided they like St. Louis and are definitely not moving back to their farm at Odessa; so they decided to sell the Mahindra tractor that we've been "babysitting" for six years. Cliff had me help him put an ad in for the tractor Saturday evening, and within twenty-four hours it was sold and heading to south Missouri. AND... while we were placing ads, Cliff had me put one in for the livestock trailer we bought last year. It's a huge thing, far too big for our needs and hard to navigate with. After dark someone came and paid cash for it, so that's gone. We do need a livestock trailer, but not such a big one. Meanwhile, we will borrow Cliff's brother's trailer like we've done so often.
I've mentioned to Cliff that I've been having to milk more often because Gracie turned out to be one of those cows whose milk tastes a little "off" in winter. He had never heard of such a thing, since I am the one who handles the milk; once the milk starts tasting off, I just milk more often and give the older stuff to the chickens. If I keep it really fresh, it tastes fine. I decided to Google up an answer to his questions about why this would happen, and once again the Internet came through:
Oxidized flavor is also a reaction of milkfat. Milk with a cardboardy or metallic taste is more common in milk during the winter and early spring. The off- flavor can be detected in raw milk, but sometimes not until two days after collection. It can also be a problem in any pasteurized milk or dairy product that has not been flavored. Causes are different than for the light induced flavor of milk purchased at stores, although the taste is similar.
Increased susceptibility of milk to the chemical development of oxidation is due primarily to less antioxidant in the milk. The main cause is the decreased amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant, in stored forages, which reduces the amount found in milk. Once milkfat has begun to oxidize, the intensity will continue to increase overtime. The taste may not be apparent in the milk, but may be detected in high fat products such as butter or vanilla ice cream.
Thoughout all thse years I've milked cows and consumed raw milk, I had noticed some cows' milk tasted "off" in winter but never knew the reason! It is, indeed, more noticeable in certain cows. Apparently if I pasteurized the milk, that would fix the problem, but do you know how much a home pasteurizer costs? Besides, it would just be something else to wash and clean up every time I used it.
When we lived at our first twenty-acre place, wild garlic grew all over the pasture. Old Suzy loved the stuff, and her milk was almost undrinkable after she'd been partaking of it. If you took the lid off a gallon of milk, it smelled like garlic-breath. I finally found out that if I put her up in the barn lot for a few hours before milking, that fixed the problem.
And that's your update from rural Lafayette County today.