Saturday, January 30, 2010


It started snowing yesterday as I was finishing up the afternoon milking. It snowed most all night and then started sleeting. Looks like we got about 5 inches. The roads are a wreck and the temps will not get above freezing for the next few days. Who knows when things in the outside world will start moving again.
It hasn't bothered us much.The only thing we did do was get some extra gas for the generator just in case we lost power. Other than that we are good to go.
Morning chores started a bit earlier than usual because we could see the hay in the large pasture was gone. We put out hay for everyone and checked water buckets. We also brought up another load of wood.
I came back to the house to get a pot of soup on. I had soaked 12 different kinds of beans overnight and put them on to simmer. Later I added some sausage and Cajun seasonings. Pretty tasty!
I also cleaned out the fridge and got a pot of vegetable stock on. I tossed a lamb bone and all the veggies in the crisper that were heading south in a pot. I also put the carrot peelings, broccoli stems and wilted lettuce from the salad I made in there. I'll stain later and freeze for another pot of soup down the road.
Back out this afternoon to finish up chores. The sheep and goats had eaten all their hay (don't they ever nap?!!) so racks were filled again. The water bowls that I filled for the bunnies earlier were frozen again so I chipped it out and refilled them. The chickens actually laid fairly well today. As I was collecting eggs, one of the LGD's snuck in and swiped the eggs on the floor. Egg sucking little thief! She's the pregnant one so I forgave her today. ;o) Cleaned the stalls and finished the other duties and then headed to the house to get the milking buckets. The cow had been moved to the barn yesterday so I at least was under cover to milk today! The barn cats stood on ready. It seems they recognized the milking pails and knew what was coming. After milking I filled their bowl with a quart of warm frothy milk, much to their delight.
I am back in for the night and ready to hunker down and get warm. All the critters are warm and fed, I think I'll settle in with a hot toddy and see what the morning brings.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting Ready for Snow?

The weather forecast is calling for snow tomorrow. Hard to believe since it was 60 today! They are also calling for extremely cold weather for the next few days so not wanting to take any chances I went ahead and prepared for the worst. Buckets in all the pastures were rinsed and filled to the top with water. Lots of hay was stuffed into the feeders and round bales put out for the big critters. Stalls cleaned and fresh shavings for those that may have to stay up.
After finishing up the every day chores I decided to spend some time working with the dairy goats. Only one tried to kill me. She was dam raised and is just plain nutty. To be quit honest I don't know why she is still here! Everyone needed their feet trimmed. I checked all eyes, everyone looked good and pink, meaning no heavy parasite loads at this time. I still gave each girl a dose of "tonic". It is a recipe that a fellow sheep breeder came up with. It contains molasses, red cell, vinegar and garlic. Smells pretty yucky and the girls aren't fond of it, but they got anyway. It has lots of vitamins and minerals and the garlic is a good anti-parasitic. I intend to dose each one about once a week through the spring and summer months in hopes that it will help keep the worm load down. We shall see. The nigerian does look like that may explode at any second so I chose not to trim their feet. Best to do that after delivery I decided. They are so huge they probably couldn't have hopped on the milking stand anyway! All in all a good days work.
I milked the cow a bit early today and was about a quart short but still have an abundance and plan to make cheese and yougurt this weekend. I hope to get a lot of soapmaking done as well. Plenty of inside things to do so, let it snow!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This morning I washed my grow light stand and disinfected all pots and trays with a bit of Clorox and water. I need to replace a few trays that didn't hold up very well last summer. I also need to remember to get some fish emulsion and potting soil. I will probably start a few seeds in a couple of weeks ~broccoli raab, broccoli, cabbage and a few lettuces for a head start on the growing season. Most lettuce will be direct sown. I won't start the heat loving veggies until mid to late March. This stand has about 18 feet of growing space and last year I never had it completely full at any one time. You can see my citrus trees behind it. The lemons are blooming again and the limes are starting to put on fruit.
After that I headed to the barn to clean out the stalls and get the morning feeding started. The chickens have started cranking out the eggs so it looks like we may able to finally offer some for sale again. The Salmon Favorelles have finally started laying too. Even with last weeks' quiches, egg salad and the pound cake I made yesterday we have an abundance. Yeah! It has been a bit of a dry spell. I moved my alpine buck back outside since the sun was out. No matter where I put him he is not happy since I separated him from the girls. I even tried giving him a companion but he proceeded to just beat him up, so alone he will be for now. Next I filled all the mineral feeders for the sheep and goats, something I had been a bit slack on the last few weeks. Hay fed and the better part of the chores done I headed back to the house for a snack.
My husband called and said we needed to plan to go over the farm budget and taxes tonight. Grand. I asked if this would be an occasion for a stiff drink. He said probably, so I headed to the nearby ABC store before going back to the barn!
Back home, I started supper. Tonight is a crock pot meal. It is one of our favorites. It is called Santa Fe Chicken. I found the recipe years ago on the net. You layer corn, black beans (drained), boneless chicken breasts and salsa. Cook on high for 4 hours or so. Lower the heat and add cream cheese and grated pepper jack for another hour. Serve over a bed of lettuce of chips. I use my corn from the freezer, our chicken and salsa. I usually just use canned black beans. (someday I will can my own!)I use my fromage if I have some on hand, if not store bought cream cheese. It is a yummy dish and so easy!
Time to finish up chores and milk the cow. Wouldn't you know she had given up standing by the gate so I had to climb the fence to track her down. She was happy to see me however and milking was smooth. Almost 1 1/2 gallons. I noticed she could use a few minerals herself so I will need to pick up a block next feed run. Back to the house to strain the milk and rinse the pails. I will load them in the dishwasher later to sanitize them for tomorrow.
Last on the list is to feed the dogs and get a load of wood. It is supposed to be nasty towards the end of the week, a cold rain or maybe even a wintry mix. After doing that I peruse the garden and notice the kale and spinach are trying to come back and even picked a sad handful of broccoli. Sad or not it will just fine tossed in another quiche for lunches this week. All in all a lot was accomplished today. Hopefully tonight will go as well ! :o))

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekend chores

We had an exceptionally busy weekend. Most of it was spent cleaning out the barn and putting fresh shavings in the stalls. The goats will begin kidding in a few short weeks and stalls need to be clean and waiting, especially if the weather is cold. I still have to hang heat lamps and scrub the milking stand. I spent part of one day rearranging animals-- or should I trying to rearrange- as there was little to no cooperation on their part. The sheep need to be condensed to two pastures, one for the ewes and one for the rams. After a couple of hours of plying with grain, begging, chasing and screaming I gave up. Better left to another day. We will soon have to put up temporary fencing to keep the animals out of the hay field so that means the pasture set up needs to be complete by then. Hay was put out and the small bales were counted. Unfortuately we are going to be about 80 bales short this year. I will need to lock down some hay very soon to get us through until we mow again in May.
After milking this weekend I discovered the calf will have to be weaned. She is starting to chew her mother's udder up pretty badly. So Jasmine went to her own pasture to the dismay of her calf who has been bawling her head off ever since. That adds another daily chore of milking every day, not just as an as needed basis for milk. I will just milk in the evenings though for now. There are just not enough hours in the mornings these days to get everything done, especially if I have to bake and work. I'll save the early morning milking for when the goats kid. A few more weeks of not tromping down to the barn at daylight sounds just fine.
I pulled the grow light stand from the recesses of the laundry room. Tomorrow I will clean and disinfect it in anticipation of starting seeds very soon. Not enough time today as it is my oldest son's birthday and we are fixing a special birthday supper for him.
It was a pleasure pulling out t-bone steaks to thaw from our cow we butchered last year, along with green beans from the pantry and potatoes from the basement. I even managed to find a few surviving brussels sprouts in the garden to roast for supper. It is such a feeling of satisfaction laying a table with everything grown here.
So off I go to do the evening round of chores and then spend a lovely evening with family!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Playing with My Christmas Toys

For Christmas this year I got an Excalibur dehydrator. I had an American Harvester but it died a while back and I hadn't gotten around to replacing it. I think this one will be much more efficient since the air blows across the trays and not up from the bottom.
My first project was mushrooms. We had a box from work that were just short of going south so I brought them home. I wiped them off and used my mushroom slicer to make sure they were all relatively uniform in size. I loaded the trays and just 4 short hours later I had 2 1/2 pints of dried mushrooms!
I never really used my other one for more than tomatoes and jerky but I am really excited about the prospect of all the possibilities that lay ahead. I plan to try some of everything out of the garden this summer.
Tomorrow it will be onions. What is left from the summer harvest is starting to sprout and this will take much less space than freezing them like I did last year.
I can already see all the jars lined up in my pantry! Peppers, onions, mushrooms, homemade garlic powder...oh the possibilities are endless. I have always loved a good toy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Cold One...

Yikes! Another bitterly cold day today. The wind is blowing so that made it even worse. I spent several hours outside feeding and trying to get CSA orders picked. Unfortunately this weather had just about finished off the garden. I was one pound short of kale for orders this week. The spinach is frozen and the mixed greens are all but dead. The kale may revive if we get some warm days. The one variety that I have been impressed with is called Lacinato Blue or Dinosaur kale. It seems to handle the cold better than many of the others. I was late getting that variety in so it did not have a chance to get super big but has definitely performed well, plus it has twice the antioxidants of other kale's. Not too bad, I will certainly plant it again.
Next year I will have either a small green house, cold frames and/
or some sort of hoop house. The lettuce has been gone for two weeks and I am absolutely dying for a salad. We've done fairly well with going local this fall, (a few slips around the holidays) but I will never make it until spring without a salad! We had plans for cold frames this year but didn't quite get to it. :o(
The animals are hanging in there. I did shut part of the barn up today to block some of the wind that was whistling down the hall. I also noticed that the Nigerian Dwarf girls are looking pretty pudgy and their udders are starting to fill. I do hope the little darlings will hold off for a bit as I don't relish the thought of spending nights in the barn in this weather. I am a bit concerned about them as we had a fence break in the fall with a larger buck paying them a visit. These does are out of lines that produce quads and quints on a regular basis so fingers crossed there are just several babies hanging out in there!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside !!

We are in the middle of an Arctic freeze here is the sunny south. It has been a long time since I remember the weather getting and staying this cold for so many days in a row. The last 4 days our temps have averaged in the low teens and mid thirties, and are to be the norm for the next week. I know that this is nothing for those folks out west and up north, but for us poor pilgrims here on the farm, it has created a whole new ballgame in the barnyard! A day or two of frozen water is not fun but do-able, 10+ days are an absolute pain. To top it all off I have had a stomach flu and have been about useless. My husband has been a champ though and spent the better part of the last three days making it a bit easier.
The first day was spent dragging hundreds of feet of hose from the one unfrozen spigot to water buckets in all the pastures. Knowing that these would be frozen solid by the next day he filled 500 gallon tubs and rigged them with a heater to keep the water thawed so we can dip out water for the smaller animals to reach and to haul to the chickens and rabbits. The next day the one unfrozen spigot was, of course, frozen, so he rerouted some pipes to our tack room where it is insulated and where we have power and attached heat stripping to it so it will stayed thawed. With the exception of dipping and hauling a few 5 gallon buckets here and there the water situation seems to be resolved.
The first day 8 bales of hay went out and it lasted only hours. It is so cold the critters just stand and eat to keep warm. Deciding that our hay would not last the next few months feeding like this we decided to purchase some round bales. We bought 4 to see how it will go. That just leaves us feeding 2-3 bales to the smaller animals. We planned for the hay to last until May when we cut. The cold weather is putting a huge burden on our supply. Thank goodness it was a good hay year and there is some around to purchase. Even when planning and allowing 2 or so extra bales a day, we will surely run out.
I am considering this practice for when we relocate to Virginia where the wind chill was 10 below this weekend and it was snowing, again!