Boxwood Avenue

This Week on the Ranch No. 5

ranch lifeChloe | Boxwood Ave.2 Comments

"This Week on the Ranch" is a weekly series sharing snippets and stories from life on the range. 

Western lifestyle horses | boxwoodavenue.com

I had planned to go out and help the guys move some cattle early Wednesday morning, but when we woke up, the wind was blowing, snow was in the forecast, and I quickly turned into a fair-weather cowgirl. I knew I only had one day available to help out, and I didn't want to spend it completely frozen. The next morning was absolutely beautiful, even though there was fresh snow on the mountains, the wind had died down, and the valley was calm. 

We headed out to catch our horses, and everyone was a bit fresh. I guess the change in weather had them feeling good - they trotted around us trying to avoid being caught for the day. The grass was wet with dew, and the sun was just peeking over the mountain. It was the kind of morning you want to etch into your brain, especially when it's blowing snow and negative 10 out. 

After we caught our rides for the day, we saddled up and headed out to sort some of our replacement heifers. Replacement heifers are one year old females from last year's heifers that will soon become this year's heifer stock (a heifer is a female that has yet to have a baby).

Sorting is really so much fun, and even though I am not very good at it, it's one of my favorite ranch jobs. It involves penning the animals into a small area and walking through them to check for various things: bad eyes, coughing, illnesses, etc... When you find one of them with something wrong, you use your horse to sort it out of the herd. When Alex was here he taught me a few great sorting tricks, and his dad Emiliano has also taught me quite a bit...but I still have a lot to learn. 

After we finished sorting the sick heifers out of the small bunch, Rodney took them back to the corrals to be doctored. Greg, Emiliano, and I gathered up the healthy girls and took them to be with the rest of this year's replacement heifers.

While Greg and I pushed them, Emiliano held back and gathered up the mares and their babies so that we could take them back to the barn with us. There were around 50 mares and a few geldings in the bunch. Julius loves to move horses, and seems to forget he has a rider on his back. I trust him completely, so I just let him do his thing. We galloped alongside the mares and I took a mental snapshot of the entire scene: the crisp fall air, the rustling grass, the sounds of the hooves on the earth...it all came together to be pretty incredible. 

When we got back to the barn, I had to head to town, but the boys spent the rest of the day doctoring the sick heifers and weaning the mares and their babies. 

I get quite a few questions about our horses, mainly: why do we have so many? Rodney, Greg's uncle, is very passionate about horses and loves managing his herd. He has been breeding them since the late 80s and knows the lineage of every single one of them. We keep some for breeding, we start some for riding, and train some to become work horses, and the rest we sell to other ranches. 

Western lifestyle horses | boxwoodavenue.com

I hope you had a wonderful week, and as always, thanks for stopping by to say hello! 


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How to Quick Pickle Vegetables

preservesChloe | Boxwood Ave.4 Comments

Preserve your end-of-the-summer harvest with these simple tips and techniques to quick pickle any fruit or veggie! 

How to quick pickle vegetables | boxwoodavenue.com

If you follow along on social media, you might have seen my recent trip to Northstar which is located on the north side of Lake Tahoe. Over the next few months I will be partnering with them to share some beautiful home tours, entertaining tips, and the beauty of Tahoe. I am thrilled about this partnership because Tahoe is a home away from home for me - to have the opportunity to share it with you is very exciting! 

On my recent trip, I was lucky enough to attend the 32nd annual Food & Wine Festival. With food & wine from all over northern California, it was a huge treat! I spent the weekend bouncing back and forth between sampling delicious pairings and relaxing at the beach. I was able to take one of the classes offered at the festival - a pickling workshop with Chef Lara Ritchie from Reno's Nothing to it Cooking School (where Greg and I have taken classes in the past, and absolutely loved it!). 

I was very excited about this class because preserving and canning is something I am quite interested in. Yet it can often feel daunting because of the safety precautions involved. I couldn't wait to learn from chef Lara! During the class, she taught us wonderful ways to quick pickle veggies of all kinds, and answered all of my (millions of) questions. Below, I've compiled all of the information we covered in the class, I think you will enjoy reading all of Chef Lara's tips and techniques for quick pickling! 


Quick Pickling

how to quick pickle with delicious flavor


What is quick pickling?

Quick pickling is accomplished by brining fresh vegetables with salt, sugar, and vinegar; spices can also be added for more flavor. Quick pickles, also known as refrigerator pickles, are a simple way to preserve fresh vegetables without the hours of work involved in traditional pickling. Quick pickled vegetables are stored in the refrigerator and only take a few days to develop a delicious pickled flavor. 

What can be quick pickled? 

Any vegetable can be quick pickled, some delicious options are peppers, cauliflowers, onions, cucumbers, and asparagus. However it is important to only select the best, most fresh and crisp vegetables to be pickled. The vegetables you pickle should be free of blemish, without bruising or browning because the acid and salt will degrade the food as it ferments. 

It's important to thoroughly wash and rinse the veggies you decide to pickle. Especially veggies like leeks, carrots, garlic, and onions which generally hide dirt (bacteria) in their nooks and crannies!

When cutting the vegetables, cut them all to be about the same size so that they pickle at the same rate. Not sure what size to cut? Think about what you will be using them for: Pasta? Bite size. Cheese board? A little bigger.

How to quick pickle vegetables | boxwoodavenue.com

Lastly, keep in mind that the vegetables are the stars of the show here, so you'll want to include the most attractive parts of them, and while stems can butts can be pickled, they won't be the most attractive when served. 

The Brine: Vinegar, Salt, Sugar, and Spices

The vinegar: Any vinegar (apple cider, white, rice, etc...) will work for brining and generally a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar is a good starting point; however, Chef Lara encourages creativity here. Adding spices to your brine will only add flavor, and flavor is always a good idea, and splurging on fresh, fragrant spices is always worth it, especially when pickling. 

The salt: You don't have to find the most rare kind of salt, just use a good, clean, pure Kosher salt. Avoid using table salt which has anti-caking chemicals added to it resulting in odd flavors when cooked. When pickling, the salt acts as a preservative, making it hard for bacteria to live. Salt rounds out the flavor of the vegetables by not only adding saltiness, but also bringing out the natural sweetness of the vegetable. 

"Salt is an amazing mineral from fresh or ancient sea beds: nearly all salt is sea salt. Don't brag about sea salt because everyone cooks with sea salt, but we want it to be as pure as possible: don't spend your whole paycheck, but get something that isn't iodized!" -Chef Lara Ritchie

The sugar: Sugar is optional in quick pickling recipes, but it adds a depth of flavor to the recipe. Avoid adding too much sugar as you don't want to create a syrupy brine. Add just enough to give the pickles a touch of sweetness. 

The Spices: Regardless of your recipe, cooking spices should not be over a year old! The flavor is held within the oil of the spice, once spices being to dry out, they lose their flavor. Find a source for spices that will allow you to purchase in small amounts so that they remain fresh, especially for spices that don't get used all that often. When storing spices - store them away from heat and light! Chef Lara explained that keeping spices next to the oven actually cooks them, which is costing you money and flavor!  A good indicator of spice freshness is their scent, even if you don't know what they're supposed to smell like, you should be able to smell a deep flavor, if you can't, your spices aren't good any longer. 


How to quick pickle vegetables

recipe provided by chef Lara Ritchie of Nothing to it Cooking School


How to quick pickle vegetables | boxwoodavenue.com

Spices:

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Salt, Sugar, Vinegar:

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt

The vegetables:

  • 5 medium garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 3 slices fresh ginger (about 1/4" thick)
  • 1/2 of one small yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 of a head of cauliflower, peeled and sliced 1/2" thick on the diagonal (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 of one red bell pepper, cut into large dice (about 1 cup)

Prepare the brine: 

Put the coriander, mustard, and cumin seeds in a small sauce pan. Toast the spices over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darkened, about two minutes. 

Add the vinegar, garlic, ginger, onion, sugar, salt, peppercorns, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup of water to the toasted spices. Bring to a boil. 

Prepare the pickles: 

If you have not cut the vegetables yet, do so as the brine comes to a boil. Sterilize jars, and thoroughly dry! 

Divide the vegetables into the sterilized glass jars leaving 1/4" head space. You can arrange the vegetables in an attractive manner if you plan on giving these as gifts! 

Once the brine is ready, pour the hot liquid over the vegetables. Let cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate. The vegetables will be ready after about two days and will last upwards a month, after 14 days the vegetables may start to become a bit mushy. 

*Note: the head space isn't completely necessary, but you must make sure the vegetables are completely submerged in the brine! 


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Caring for Goats: 15 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting Goats

ranch lifeChloe | Boxwood Ave.1 Comment

If you're considering adding goats to your family's farm - read this first! A list of everything I wish I knew before we got goats, a basic guide for just starting out! 

Basic Goat Care Information: 15 Things I wish I knew Before Getting Goats | boxwoodavenue.com

I get countless emails asking me about goat care. One of the most common questions is: what should I know as a beginner goat owner? When we first got Elderberry and Buckwheat, I had NO idea what I was doing: their sister, Rosemary, died from Coccidia, I had never heard the term "disbudding", and hoof care, vaccinations, and feed were a mystery to me. I simply wanted to get some goats because I thought they were cute! 

Since then, I have learned so much about caring for goats: like what to feed, when to de-worm, and how to care for them during the different seasons. Goats are absolutely wonderful pets, and can add so much to your family's farm, but it is a common misconception that goats are easy keepers - in fact, they are our most high maintenance animals. They require a close eye and lots of attention, so I thought it would be convenient to compile a list of things I wish I knew before we got goats - if you're considering getting goats, please, learn from my mistakes! 


15 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE GETTING GOATS


No. 1: Coccidia 

The goat version of Parvo. I had no idea what coccidia was, and my first goat Rosemary died because of it.

Coccidia is a parasite found in all goats. I don't believe that it is true that goats only die from this due to bad conditions. Since coccidia is in all goats, the levels are generally manageable for the animals; however, when goats become stressed, or the weather starts to change, Coccidia levels can rise to dangerous levels and kill the goat. 

Similar to the standard vaccination for parvo, some people opt to treat all of their newborn goat kids for Coccidiosis at exactly 21 days old, and again 21 days later, due to the 21 day cycle of the parasite. You can find more information here, here, and here

Basic Goat Care Information: 15 Things I wish I knew Before Getting Goats | boxwoodavenue.com

No. 2: Baking Soda

I have posted videos on social media of the goats enjoying baking soda, and every time I do, I get loads of questions about it! How much is too much? Do you give it to them every day? Can all breeds of goats have baking soda? Etc... 

From what I have researched, all goats can enjoy baking soda, and similar to minerals, goats will eat baking soda free-choice, consuming as much, or as little, as they need. Baking soda helps keep the rumen's pH in balance and aids in digestion. If one of your goats is experiencing bloat, try to get a bit of baking soda in them, you will immediately here the rumen begin to work. 

My goats have a little area in their house where I keep baking soda 24/7. Some days they eat more, and some days they eat less, but it's there for them if they need it nonetheless. 

No. 3: Vitamin D Milk 

Many people end up with bottle baby goat kids, and make the mistake of giving them goat replacement formula. Why wouldn't you? You trust the brands, they say it's that best option, so you believe them. However, milk replacement formulas don't compare to goat milk nutritionally (click here to see a table, it's crazy!). Generally milk replacement powder will cause your baby to scour, get sick, and possibly die. 

The best bet is to use actual goat's milk, but that is very expensive. Your next best bet is to simply use vitamin D whole milk from the grocery store. Fill up their bottles, warm it in a water bath over the stove, and serve ;). When Elderberry & Buckwheat were little I mixed a little goat's milk in whenever I could - it worked great! Plus it's a huge pain to have to mix bottles with formula - warming milk is so much easier, and so much healthier for your babies. 

If you would like information about a feeding schedule, click here

Basic Goat Care Information: 15 Things I wish I knew Before Getting Goats | boxwoodavenue.com

No. 4: Shelter 

By now, you have probably realized, goats are a little more delicate than you first thought. This is true for their housing preferences too. Goats prefer a three sided shelter rather than an enclosed structure because they need quite a bit of ventilation to keep their lungs happy. Goat's go to the bathroom A LOT, and they go right where they sleep. Unlike horses, pigs, and alpacas, goats don't select a single spot as their bathroom, they just go, and go, and go creating toxic levels of ammonia. Since goat's lungs are very sensitive, the ammonia along with dust particles, will irritate them, it is best to have a covered, yet open area for them to find shelter. 

Note: if an enclosed area is your only option, just clean more often, and add a bit of lime to the floor. 

I purposefully had my goat's house built with a large door that we keep open as much as possible for this reason. I clean their house weekly, although sometimes I go a bit longer. Many goat keepers clean their goat's pen daily - I have found that mine are okay to go a week or two; however, I sweep and "pick-up" every other day. The most important thing is that their bedding is dry! When the bedding looks wet and dirty, I know it's time to clean! Goats DO NOT do well in dirty conditions, they will get sick very easily! 

No. 5: Fresh Water

My friend Lylah from The Simple Farm has told me her secret to healthy happy goats is fresh water. Lots of fresh water. Remember when I said that goats go to the bathroom a lot?? They drink enough to make up for it! It is so important for goats to have a steady, clean water supply! You might be lucky enough to have a creek in your goat's pen, but if not, you'll find yourself refreshing and cleaning their water supply daily. 

In the winter, it is important for goats to have access to warm water. On the coldest days, I bring out buckets of warm water for my boys to enjoy. This is especially important for wethers, due to their risk for urinary calculi. Goats tend to drink less water in the winter, and by providing warm water, it will help them stay hydrated during the cold months. 

No. 6: De-Worming 

Goats are susceptible to parasites of all kinds, especially stomach worms, which cause anemia and death. Just like any other animal, it is important to get on a good de-worming schedule. We de-worm in the spring and in the fall. However, it will depend upon where you live - this article is very helpful for determination! Ivomec Plus or Ivermectin injectable (from the vet) is the best form of de-wormer to treat your goats, click here to see why. 

No. 7: Hoof Trimming 

Goat's hooves must be trimmed every few months to keep them healthy. This is my least favorite chore - because it is a bit scary to do simply because the clippers are so sharp, and goats don't generally tend to get excited about the task. This is a great article on how to trim your goat's hooves

No. 8: Herd Animals 

Goats are herd animals and depend upon each other for safety. In addition, they are actually quite unhappy when by themselves. Unless you spend countless hours with them daily, they will be lonely by themselves. When purchasing a goat, it is important to select two or more. 

No. 9: Wethers & Their Issues

Goats are susceptible to urinary calculi (kidney stones), especially wethers and bucks. When wethers are castrated, their urinary tract stops forming, and creates this high risk! Prevention is the best form of treatment: lots of fresh water, and good quality hay. It is important to only feed goats grass hay, roughage, minerals, and necessary supplements. Grain may also be useful, but only as needed, for example: kidding mothers, recovering animals, etc...

I encourage you to read this if you have wethers, it could save you a lot of trouble! 

Basic Goat Care Information: 15 Things I wish I knew Before Getting Goats | boxwoodavenue.com

No. 10: Grain & Alfalfa 

This is so important, and many people do not know this: wethers do not tolerate alfalfa or high levels of grain well (as I mentioned above). If you are raising a show goat, meat goat, or doe - you will need to develop a specific feeding regimen that will probably include rations of alfalfa and grain; however, it is my personal opinion that wethers should not be fed alfalfa or grain due to their risk of kidney stones and because they have little physical needs. (Although mineral supplements are necessary.)

No. 11: Free Range Abuse

Goats don't have a brain trigger that tells them when they've eaten too much. Since goats can so easily bloat, it's important to monitor how much 'free range' time your goats are getting. Goats are like deer rather than cattle, and will find the juiciest, yummiest brush to eat first. As you can imagine, an entire afternoon eating yummy greenery will result in a stomach ache, bloat, and possibly overeating disease. 

No. 12: Pro-Biotics

Goats are ruminants that rely on live bacteria in the stomach to digest their food. Sometimes this bacteria is disrupted and needs to be replenished: weather changes, antibiotics, stress... Anytime your goat experiences something out of the norm, it's probably a safe bet to give them some pro-biotics. You can purchase a syringe of it, and give orally as needed. 

No. 13: Cashmere & Winter Weather

In the winter, goats grow their own cashmere undercoats to keep them warm. This, in addition to lots of grass hay, is generally enough to keep goats warm through the coldest temperatures, provided that they have proper shelter. Goats will require a safe place from wind, rain, and snow with lots of dry straw. Their three sided shelter may need a bit more structure during these months to protect them from the elements. Ventilation is good, but drafts are bad because goats are very susceptible to pneumonia.

In extreme situations you may find man-made coats necessary. Personally, only one of my goats needs additional care. Elderberry grows a very strong winter coat; however, Buckwheat does not grow as thick of a coat, and I often find him shivering when Elderberry is completely fine. Many people will tell you not to use a man-made coat because it will hinder the goat's natural cashmere undercoat, but you will have to figure out what works best for your animals. For me, a coat is necessary at nighttime for Buckwheat. 

For more information, read this

Basic Goat Care Information: 15 Things I wish I knew Before Getting Goats | boxwoodavenue.com

No. 14: Disbudding & dehorning

Disbudding and dehorning of your goat is your own personal choice. Many find it cruel to do and advocate against it (against disbudding: here | for disbudding: here). However, I opted to have my goats disbudded. Disbudding happens when the goat is about a week old, a vet uses a hot iron to burn the base of the horn to prevent it from ever growing. It isn't always successful, and 'scurs' may grow as the goat gets older.

Dehorning happens when the goat is older - as they do for cattle, the horn is cut at the base. Generally there is quite a bit of bleeding and it is very painful. There is also a cream option for use, however the cream is very dangerous and has the potential to blind the goat. 

If you prefer your goats to not have horns, try purchasing a naturally polled animal, as Elderberry is. If you aren't able, then disbudding is the next best option, although it is still painful for the animal and not always 100% successful. 

No. 15: Antibiotics to Keep on Hand

A goat's normal temperature is 103 degrees F. If you suspect that your goat is sick, the very first thing you should do is take its temperature. To diagnose illness, click here. In general, I like to keep these medications on hand for quick treatment - it always seems that our goats get sick, at night, on a holiday, or on a Sunday! 

Albon (Sulfadimethoxazine) • C&D Anti Toxin • CD/T Vaccine • De-Wormer • Corrid Powder • Vitamin B and C • Electrolytes • LA200 

click here for information and use

I hope you have found this information useful! This is a basic list of general information that I think every new goat owner will appreciate having on hand. Goats are absolutely wonderful pets, in fact, they are my favorite pet! I consider my time with them therapeutic, and I think you will love adding them to your family. For a list of goat care resources, click here

 


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