We had wonderfully warm weather this week, which was very much appreciated after the snow last week. Everything is starting to green up and grow like crazy.
The warmer weather helped get some things done around here. Most of the garden is planted now, with the seedlings inside their protective Wall-o-Waters and frost fabric tunnels. I am also trying a new season extender option this year – they are called plant accelerators. They are similar to the WOWs, but there is not water involved and they are bigger and can stay on the plant longer. I bought three of them for the trial, if they work well we will get more in the future.
Pretty much all that is left are the things that can’t be planted until after the average last frost, which for us is still another month away.
Barn Cat Issues
We love having bird houses and feeders and attracting birds to our property. We have quite a colony of violet-green swallows that return each year and help keep the bug population under control around the farm – which we are very grateful for.
The problem we are having is that one of our barn cats, Midnight, is an avid hunter and literally the most athletic cat we have ever seen or owned. He can jump and climb in ways that seem impossible and we are always amazed and shocked when we see him move and how agile he is. The other two cats are just basic barn cats, who do great at catching rodents and such but don’t go out of their way to do crazy stunts or catch birds.
These skills make Midnight quite the bird predator. He can catch them in mid air as they fly by, as well as climb the trees and get to their nests. Every time we see him with one we catch him and take it away from him – whether it is dead or alive we take it away because we are trying to teach him to leave them alone. Last summer this “training” seemed to be helping.
Because of him last year we took down all our bird feeders and just left up the bird houses because we didn’t want to lure the birds to their death. We trimmed all the branches around a couple of the bird houses, to see if it would help because he couldn’t sit on them to get to the bird house. The problem is that he is so athletic that he just climbs the trunk and sticks his paw right in the house while clinging to the trunk.
Last year we hung several bird houses on the side of the mill building, this worked great because he definitely can’t climb the wall to get to them. But we still have a lot of houses on trees that the birds love and we need to find a way to keep him from them.
So our latest attempt at thwarting him is to put sheet metal around the trunks just below the birdhouses. We picked a type that will rust, which I think will look nice and blend in with the trunk. We put them up this week, since the swallows have returned and are beginning to nest. Time will tell if he is athletic enough to figure out how to get around them. But for now, the birdhouses are safe.
It is a hard spot to be in, we need the barn cats for rodent control, but we do’t want them to kill the birds.
Goat’s Milk Ice Cream
The warm weather made us feel summer-y and we decided to make our first ever goat’s milk ice cream. I was able to skim the cream off the milk, albeit just a little bit off each jar since it naturally homogenizes. It took several days, but we were able to get a quart of cream saved up and we made our basic ice cream recipe with it. It was delicious! And Braveheart and Little Miss, who can’t have cow’s milk, were able to enjoy some ice cream for the first time in a long time.