Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bad Barnyard Behavior

I don't know what has possessed the male of the species in our barnyard this last week. The first to loose it's mind was one of our rams. A not so gentle tap on my leg as I was feeding hay. At first I gave him the benefit of doubt and thought maybe it was an accident. However, the next feeding time, it was my husband he hit. Very bad move. He is slated for the freezer in a few short weeks. The ram lambs born from the ewes in his breeding group will be watched very carefully for aggressive behavior and culled heavily, as I don't tolerate this trait at all.
Next was a rooster. As I was feeding today, I turned to find him stalking me. I explained to him he probably didn't know he was messing with the head chicken processor and to back off. Apparently, I did not make myself clear and the next time I turned, he was racing towards me. Dumb bird. Yep, he will be heading the way of the ram. There are too many small kids that visit to a take a chance on him doing someone harm. Unfortunately for them, it looks like pot pie and chops are on the future menu!    

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An "Indoor" Herb Garden

Back during the summer I found an Earth Box on sale. These are really cool mini raised beds if you will, with a reservoir that you keep filled with water. My intention was to use it next year to see if I can possibly grow lettuce all summer. By being able to keep it damp and putting it a semi shaded area, it might work. I have been thinking about getting another one to grow artichokes in as well.
 I decided to put it to use for the winter though by turning it into an indoor herb bed. I have planted dill, basil and cilantro in it for the winter, along with a few spring onions. As I harvest those I will replace with new bulbs for a winter long harvest. It will live in my garage by the window and on nice days since it has wheels on it I can roll it outside to enjoy the sunshine!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Day of Decorating

It came to my attention this morning that Christmas is only 2 weeks away. YIKES! I have done very little in the way of decorating, which included NOT having the tree up. The next 2 weekends will be a flurry of activity with the employee pig pickin' and a family get together, each which consists of 30 or so guests each time. And so after baking, it began. Mums were replaced with pansies and empty pots were filled with festive arrangements. I personally love to decorate with what the earth gives me. Lots of greenery, pine cones , nandina berries, holly and lots of candles. Clippers in hand, I headed to the yard and woods. I was back with buckets of goodies and a few short hours later the house and yard appeared to be ready. The next question.. am I?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Wet Wednesday

And the Heavens opened up today. Heavy rain for the better part of the day. I took advantage of a lull and hurried to the barn. It was time to dis-bud the Nigerian dwarf kids born a couple of weeks ago. Though I hate doing it, it is a necessary evil. Once that was done, I fed the animals and headed to get a load of firewood and pick some greens for supper. I was just finishing up when it started to sprinkle rain again.
Back in the house I started on my felted catnip toys. I had a special order for some by the weekend. I used to start these by hand and finish in the washing machine but since I replaced our washer with a more eco friendly low water level one, I had to do them completely by hand. My mom joined me and together we got 18 finished.
Last on the list was to finish cutting up the deer my son shot. That took the rest of the afternoon. A nice stash of deer was tucked in the freezer and a large pot of bones was put on to simmer for vegetable soup later this week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Meanwhile Back At the Ranch....

Computer drama aside, things continue here at the farm. We have spent two weekends raking leaves and hauling them to the garden.We try to only plant half of the garden with winter vegetables and mulch the rest. I will use some of the leaves that are munched up by the mower to mulch between the growing greens.
Due to the warm temperatures we are harvesting huge amounts of greens and feeling pretty blessed. A large haul of broccoli was made this week as well, with the promise of lots of side shoots. Our rutabaga and kohlrabi are looking really good and we pulled a few carrots. The kale, spinach and lettuce are growing faster than we can eat and I am harvesting daily to share with the chickens to help cut our feed costs. With this abundance I am considering doing a small winter CSA~ yes, I need another project!
The boys have started a new wood shed. My hopes are that this is in preparation for a wood burning unit to heat the house.The poles are set and the roof will hopefully go on soon. We have been in a wet weather pattern and it certainly slows progress on outside projects.
Luke shot a deer this week and I am still trying to get it in the freezer. I have gotten about half done. I will make roasts, stew, a few steaks and grind the rest into burger. Some I will season for breakfast sausage and some will remain plain. Hopefully I can finish up tomorrow. It is nice to see the deer shelf in the freezer filling up again!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Sounds of a Crashing Computer

First, there is the sound of silence. The eerie black screen that reads: No disk. Then the frantic tapping of keys, not so kind words muttered under a held breath. Then the screams..No! No! Later the sound of me groveling at the feet of our computer tech. PLEASE, you must save it! All of my documents, contacts, labels, farm info....2 days later, happy sounds. Thank you, you are a genius!! 24 hours later.. more screams as the thing crashes once again. This time for good. Silent weeping sounds. Don't worry! we can build you a new one, smaller in size, better, FASTER! All the latest programs and new fangled  gadgets. I don't want new or better or faster. I want what I KNOW! But your computer is old. I like old, it's what I know. (Can you hear the eyeballs rolling?) Finally somehow from the dregs of who knows where, computer tech comes up with a computer just like mine! Squeals of delight! He warns me however, you may have only 3 or 4 years until it is truly obsolete. You will have to learn new things. I promise and clap my hands in glee. And here I am back online a mere 10 days later.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Happenings

Today was pie baking day. A chocolate pecan and pumpkin were finished and tomorrow I will make the apple pie. I also finished washing the Thanksgiving bird and he weighed in at about 19 pounds.
I was almost finished with everything and cleaning my kitchen when my sister appeared with 1/2 of a very large deer. Her husband had gotten his second and she wanted to share with us. Cutting up a deer really wasn't on my to-do list but I certainly wasn't going to turn down food. I headed to the barn to finish chores and also to check the cashmere goats. Another one had kidded yesterday bring our kid count to 9. I hadn't checked the sex of it yet and to my disappointment it was another buck. Sigh. I really hope this is not going to be repeat of last year but so far it is not looking good.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Butchering The Thanksgiving Turkey

There were several things on the list today. Making cheese, cooking the pumpkin, making applesauce, freezing the last of the bell peppers and butchering the turkey for Thanksgiving.
I managed to get the cheese done and the pumpkin cooked. Applesauce and peppers will have to wait another day since I was back and forth to the pastures with the birth of four more goat kids!
Once they were settled and the feeding done, my husband was home and ready to butcher the turkey. I will spare the details but it was a fairly quick process, taking about 30 minutes at most. He was a handsome fellow and though I have not weighed him yet I am guessing close to 20 pounds. It was almost dark when we finished and after rinsing well, he is awaiting his final cleaning in the fridge. I will most likely finish him up on Wednesday while I am baking pies and get a weight so we know how long to bake him. I have to admit it was a sobering experience for me. We have raised meat chickens for years but it has been a very long time since we have raised our own turkey. I'm not sure if I was becoming a bit attached or what, but I know this Thanksgiving I will be even more thankful for our meal.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Nigerian Dwarf Kids

Of course she would wait until I wasn't home... These little darlings were born yesterday while we were on the road. All three are doing well, 2 does and 1 buck.
I spent the morning getting the new girls settled. My plan was to quarantine for a few days. However, after rearranging and putting them in their pasture, within 30 minutes my ram had wiggled the gate open and proceeded to join them. Sigh. He is much happier than I am right now.
We finished getting  latches on the new gate system behind the barn. This added yet another small area to our pastures. Slowly we are replacing all of the old fencing that has been up for many years and is starting to show it's age. Maybe by the end of winter...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Alabama Bound

We left this morning at 3:57 a.m. to pick up 4 ewes I purchased from Olde South Farms in Alabama. The trip was relatively uneventful and we arrived in Selma at 11:30. It was nice to meet Terry and Helen, another Icelandic breeder from Florida. Unfortunately we didn't get to visit long and 30 minutes later we were back on the road headed home. I do wish we could have spent a bit more time in Selma, as it is such a historic place, but the farm at home awaited as did fencing chores tomorrow! We stopped to fuel 3 times and in Georgia to fill a water bucket for the girls and arrived home 8:10 tonight. Worn out and tired of riding it was good to be home! We filled another water bucket and the girls were left on the trailer for the night. Tomorrow we will get them settled in their new home.
The ewes are absolutely lovely and will make a welcome addition to our flock.

I did manage to take a few shots out of the truck window as we left Selma.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The First Hard Freeze

I awoke to a white ground. It was our first hard freeze with temps dipping into the upper 20's. I feared for the lettuce.
It would be at least noon before I would know it's fate and so I began baking for the weekend. Today I was doubling up because tomorrow we are making a round trip to Alabama to pick up sheep. My son and mom will be in charge of the farm for the 18 or so hours we are gone.
After baking 19 loaves of bread, packaging goat milk soap and delivering it to the store, I went to check the garden. I had special orders for several pounds of greens to pick today, part of it lettuce. To my surprise it came through the night just fine. I think my garden may be somewhat protected because it is surrounded by trees. We have one more cold night before the temps level back out and hopefully before the next dip, I will have plastic to cover it. Greens picked I headed to the house to rinse, spin and weigh. I just walked in the door when my son, who was headed out to hunt, called to say he saw a baby goat in the pasture. No, no, NO! Yes, yes, YES! One of the cashmere goats had kidded during the night. This is the earliest we have had kids in many years. I finished the greens quickly and went to check and sure enough this little guy was up and bouncing around!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall Around The Farm

Some pics to enjoy this beautiful and breathtaking season!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Unique Project

Due to a pulled back muscle, probably from fighting with the turkey on Wednesday, I made today a light chore day. I had hoped to get some weeding done and the purple pac choy my sister started for me in the ground. Oh well, maybe tomorrow! It was a chilly and windy day and after baking and delivering bread I headed home to do the lightest of the feeding chores and put on a pot of chicken and rice soup. While the chicken simmered I headed to my studio to try and do some organizing. It continues to look like a bomb went off in there. Every time I get started on making sense of the mess, I run across something that distracts me like the "Flounce" yarn that was hiding in a bag. The pattern looked a bit daunting but upon doing some research I found that it was a bit easier than it looked. Instead of a normal yarn that you wrap and knit, this one you open up and knit from the top. So once again I became side tracked and worked on this scarf for quite a while. The studio is still a place of chaos but the scarf is coming along nicely I think....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Memory of Vosco

As you know I work at a little country store and we become quite attached to our customers, who quickly become friends. We worry when they don't show up for their weekly shopping trip, look forward to the arrival of their babies, meet the out of town relatives...... and grow to love their dogs that make that weekly pilgrimage with them to the store.
Vosco was one of our friends. He was a giant Portuguese Water Dog. He had curly hair that hung over his big brown eyes and I fell in love the minute I met him last winter, when he came in after a vet appointment with his belly shaved. He has been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. His family opted to treat it aggressively with chemo. Each week or so when he came in he always greeted us with wags, ready for his treats (he always got extra). His mom said we were spoiling him because as the weeks went by, she said her once well behaved dog would drag her along the sidewalk and up the steps for his visits. Sometimes he would bark excitedly and once going as far as to plant his huge feet on the counter to look me directly in the eyes when I wasn't quite quick enough with the treats. After 26 treatments he was declared cancer free. We dared to hope, maybe, just maybe...
It was not to be and when the cancer came back, it was with a vengeance. Two weeks ago I saw Vosco for the last time. It was his birthday. He was 7. He had gotten a magic wand from his aunt so all of his wishes could come true. I gave him extra treats. He ate the last one laying down which was unlike him. When he left I gave him a big kiss on his wet nose and told him goodbye, not knowing it would be my last encounter with him. I received the news Wednesday that he had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He has joined the other animals that have brought joy to us all and is whole again. I know his family grieves and we grieve with them. Fare Thee Well, Vosco. We will miss you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chicken Chores

Door to the hen house fixed, I finally was able to catch up and separate all the laying hens today. I repaired the door where they had been escaping by stapling new screen and a plastic chicken wire I found at Lowe's to the lower half. It is pretty cool stuff and easy to handle. We used it to line inside the orchard fencing to keep the smaller meat birds from escaping in the spring.
So now I have all of the younger hens in one side and the older ones in the other. I also move the Narragansett turkeys to the "older" hen side. That proved to be a bit more difficult than anticipated. The tom was easier to move than the hen. I was able to hold him by the neck and guide him to the pen. The hen on the other hand was determined to beat me to death with her wings. After several attempts at catching and fearing a broken nose, I finally ended up chasing her her out of the original lot and when she flew to the top of the fence I grabbed her feet and pulled her in. Mission accomplished. Now I hope to see a significant increase in eggs around here!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Weeding Weekend

Much of the weekend was spent weeding the garden. It was one of those, ah-ha, I knew there were carrots in that row, times. With 2 inches of rain recently, it was a fairly easy task.  Much to my surprise I found the mache greens and the miners lettuce had finally germinated and were fighting for space to grow. The elephant garlic was finally put in the ground, 41 heads of that.
I have been unsuccessfully trying to separate the old laying hens from the young and finally figured out the young girls had an escape route via the door, one would not think to look for a hole there. I will be rewiring that this week and hopefully get everyone situated. We have made a sad decision to butcher all the old hens in the near future. The cost of feed is high for the number of eggs we are collecting and I have been unable to give the old girls away. I plan to add about a dozen new hens each year, for a total of 2 dozen at a time. I will only keep those less than two years old, which means I will butcher about 12 old hens each year, in addition to the the meat birds we raise. I know they will make excellent stock and meat for soups, stews and casseroles. Another lesson on being realistic on the homestead....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pickling The Last Of the Peppers

After baking and running errands, I decided to pickle the last of the jalapenos I gleaned from the garden over the weekend. I was trying to free up fridge space for all the greens I have been harvesting. We are eating copious amounts of lettuce, kale and spinach these days. I am picking a peck basket of each about every other day, washing it and keeping it bagged up for quick salads and meals. Tis the season. As usual I grossly underestimated how much time it would take to get them all done, but a few hours later I had 12 pints to show for it. After finishing it was off to the barn to finish evening chores which included bringing up a load of firewood since the boys were working late and then to the garden for a basket of greens to fill the pepper space in the fridge.

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

When I thought my son Luke would be headed off to college this past fall, my plan was to cancel all the TV junk. Period. I mean really, I check out the weather of a morning and watch a bit in the evenings. However, I can see if the sun is up and if it is raining and half the time the weather man is wrong. AND if I really want to know if it is going to snow, I just need to cruise by the grocery store parking lot... I expected to get a lot more reading done and indulge in the peace and quiet.
Due to extenuating circumstances and his hate of the big city, college was put off a year. (Not that I minded having him around a bit longer.) He has been after me to change satellite servers for a while and finally out of self defense I told him if he set it up, fine. That was yesterday. Today I have had 2 men crawling all over my house running wires and setting up new gizmos for 4 hours. After they finally left, my "lessons" began. I could  see this was way more complicated that my poor brain would take and my eyes quickly glazed over. DVD's, DVR's, remote this and that. I asked where my VHS player had been relocated, he collapsed in laughter. Not funny, I explained tersely, I need it to watch The Walton Thanksgiving in a few weeks. It's tradition. Ham biscuits, grits and the movie. Surely that is on DVD, he said. It is not. He said he had no clue how to hook it up to all the new gadgets. You have 3 weeks to figure it out, was all I had to say.
Thus far this old dog has learned how to turn the TV on ......

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gleaning the Garden

The weather has turned much colder and a frost warning is in the forecast for tonight. I decided to go ahead and finish picking all the peppers and eggplant, just in case. Lots of jalapenos and bell peppers were picked. Monday I will pickle the jalapenos and freeze most of the bells to add to soups and sauces this winter. I also harvested a huge basket of lettuce and spinach. The greens have really taken off and we are eating as fast as we can!
The next thing on my list was to attack the pantry and organize. I needed to go through and finish the inventory I started last week. A couple of times a year I have to do this or fear that I may be buried alive when I walk in from just tossing things back in there. Three hours later I emerged with a great sense of satisfaction and a job well done.
Then it was time to head to the barn to finish up evening chores. Pogo goat was out again... This is starting to get very old.  Critters fed and snuggled down for the night with lots of hay, we did the same.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Planting Garlic

I finally got most of the garlic in today. It took 2 hours to get it all planted and I got all but the elephant garlic in the ground. It will have to wait until I get another row tilled in the garden since I ran out of room. Imagine that.
I wasn't sure how much I would get accomplished as the morning started off a bit hectic. The first thing that threw a wrench in my plans was when I looked at my calender and realized my dad's birthday was tomorrow. Oops. Get gift and card. Second, I checked my email and a fellow wanted to come at noon to bring his goat to be bred. Okay. Third, co-op was in. Forth, another fellow that bought goats in the spring decided he could no longer keep them, called and wanted to bring them back. Seems they kept jumping his fence, and how did I keep mine up? We never have had a jumper, pushing a fence down maybe but never a jumper.
Never say never. While planting garlic I looked up to see the smaller of the two wandering around the back yard. As I was chasing him around the yard the second one hit the side of the barn and cleared my fence. I caught him and put him in another pasture and continued to chase smaller guy. Bigger goat cleared second fence. This was not good. Moved bigger guy to third pasture and finally caught smaller one and shoved him in as well. When I headed to the barn after supper to trim hooves, they were both still in the third pasture. We'll see what tomorrow brings.I  may have to explain that I have a permanent place that they will never get out of. It is called a freezer...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Knitting Projects

I finally put the finishing touches on the knitting projects I have been working on. The first is a baby blanket made from organic cotton to be gifted to a babe due in November. I loved working with the yarn, it is very soft and knitted up rather quickly. I have another one in the works for a little boy born just last week.

My second project was to knit myself a pair of fingerless gloves. This is a wool/ alpaca blend. Though a little big for my hands they will work just fine until I have time to make a smaller pair. They too, were a quick and easy project and really pretty with the cable at the wrist.
Next on my list of projects is to knit a pair of wool tube socks from my hand spun yarns, if they turn out well, I will probably knit up a few pair for Christmas gifts.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Today's List

Today's list was pretty long. I was a bit behind because we snuck away for a 36 hour "vacation" and hiked  in the mountains of NC over the weekend. The colors were spectacular! We logged in 14 miles, hiking a section of the Mountain to Sea Trail and Crabtree Falls. Lovely.
First I absolutely had to finish dehydrating the last of the tomatoes and get the mushrooms going. That took the better part of the morning but finally all were done. A total of 10 quarts of tomatoes and 6 quarts of mushrooms were put in the pantry.
Next on my list was to weigh and box all the fleeces from our fall shearing and ready them to be shipped off for wool blankets. That proved to be a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. The boxes were big and bulky and did not want to fit on any scales I owned. After much trail and error, I finally  found a way to put them on my soap scales and sneak my hand under the boxes, hitting the hold button and thus getting the weights. I had 44 pounds sorted and in boxes ready to tape up only to find I only had about 6 inches of packing tape. Ugh. I needed to go to the feed store anyway so I headed out to pick up tape and feed. On my way home a fellow that breeds his alpine doe to my buck each year called to see if he could bring her up. I decided to finish feeding chores while waiting for him. I also made a quick trip to the garden for spinach and kale for our supper. After he left I once again turned my attention to the boxes. I finished up the second box only to run out of tape. Geez! I wasn't about to leave again as it was almost supper time anyway. Tomorrow after work I will stop and pick up more and Wednesday those boxes ARE going to Canada!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Rainy Wednesday

As promised, it rained today. Almost 2 inches. Also, as promised, as soon as the rain moved out, the winds picked up, we saw a small ray of sunshine and the cold air moved in. At that point it wasn't safe to be outside for fear of being pelted by acorns or hickory nuts.
Thankfully, I had finished my outside chores (in the rain) which included slogging through the garden in search of spinach and salad greens. I was well rewarded. Over a pound was harvested in short order.
I rebooted the dehydrator with the next to the last round of Romas, wishing they would hurry so I could put the mushrooms I was gifted with yesterday in there.
I wish I could say I accomplished a lot but truth be told, not really. I cooked several things and inventoried the pantry. I need to do the same with the freezers soon.With the exception of chicken and beef stock we look pretty good. I also checked our emergency box. It is in need of candles, batteries and water. I have been meaning to add a battery operated radio to it, may put that on the list. A mental note was made to get one of the boys to check our generator. One never knows what the winter will bring and I like being prepared. There have been several times we have been without power for close to a week but we survived very comfortably without it.
A quiet day for sure, I'll not complain about that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Garlic Haze

My garlic arrived today. My sister asked if I was under the influence of illegal drugs when I placed the order. One could certainly understand her concern, being that I ordered 9 1/2 pounds!! The more likely scenario was that I had just eaten a warm piece of bread, slathered with freshly roasted garlic and a drizzle of olive oil that sent me scampering off to the computer to loose control. I ordered 5 pounds of elephant garlic and a wide selection of early, mid and late varieties. I certainly don't want to designate that much garden space just to garlic and so I will share. Who knows. Maybe that was my plan all along. Maybe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Planting Strawberries

On a whim I bought 85 strawberry plants. Around here a lot of people plant them in the fall and harvest around May. I have always wanted to have our own, so hopefully these will do well. I covered the row with black pastic. I then cut holes in it and tucked the plants down in the softly tilled dirt beneath. I will fertilize with fish emulsion in a week or two.
 The rest of the garden is looking good with the exception of a severe need of cultivating. We were able to harvest our first salad greens this week. One forgets how sweet and buttery fresh baby greens are when plucked from the ground, carried to the house and eaten right then. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mas Maters!

While milking today the tomato fairy stopped by. She left a bushel of Roma tomatoes on the tail gate of my truck.( Actually the fairy is my boss and she knew I needed more Romas to get us through the winter.) I am ever so grateful and will be happily dehrydating for the next few days!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Skirting Fleeces

Today I skirted the fleeces, readying them for processing. The weather was cool and cloudy and perfect for the job. The fleeces were spread one by one on a table my dad  built specifically for that purpose. The matted parts and vegetable matter were picked out and then I piled each in a box according to color. About half way through a friend showed up and helped finish. In short order we had four huge boxes filled with all that lovely wool. The next step will be weighing out the specified amount for the blankets and shipping.
We were tired of playing in the wool and headed to the garden. The greens are starting to put on a lot of growth and so we wandered down the rows tasting this and that, like a couple of rabbits! The wasabi mustard greens are fantastic and almost ready to be tossed in a salad. We picked some peas and she got a milking lesson before heading home. Thanks C!      

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Planning For the New Farm

We made a quick trip to our farm in Virginia today to start thinking about our future plans. It will still be several years before we make the move but we hope to split our time between here and there much sooner, possibly raising some cattle and mowing hay from the fields next summer. Today we made plans for our driveway and made some decisions on fencing. The fencing is in pretty bad shape and most will need to be replaced. Of course we will need to build a barn. Daunting yet very exciting.....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall Shearing

Today was a busy day. It started with a vet appointment for the Icelandic sheep slated to leave on Sunday. While he was still here my home school group arrived for a farm tour. We talked about the sheep, toured the garden and played with the dairy goats. I also showed them the process of how the wool goes from sheep to yarn. I had planned to spin for them but my wheel hasn't been used since last winter and of course it was being cantankerous, so that didn't happen. We still had a good time and I hope they learned some things.
After they left it was time to call all the sheep to the barn for their fall shearing appointment. Our shearers were due at 5 this evening. Three trips back and forth the pasture with grain and they were locked up and ready. The shearers were an hour late because of traffic and we didn't finish until almost 9 p.m. I stacked all the fleeces in the back of my truck so I will HAVE to do something with them before I head to work on Tuesday! My plan this year is to have blankets made. They were my best fleeces yet! The night turned a bit cool so we fed the sheep and left them in the barn and headed to the house to feed ourselves and collapse.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Catching Up On Chores

I awoke to a cool crisp morning and the sound of roosters crowing. No waves crashing, no sand in my sheets. Ah yes, it is good to be home! Being home though, meant catching up on chores, returning emails and phones calls about the farm and animals. Emails and phones calls were first and then I headed out to do outside duties. Milking done, I fed and watered the goats. Mineral feeders and the kelp/DE  were empty, so those were refilled. I walked the fence lines since I am going to be rearranging dogs once again and don't need an escapee. Lastly on the critter list was to haul hay to the cows and tend the chickens. That done and eggs gathered, I headed to the garden only to discover worms were munching on the collards. Back to the barn for more DE to sprinkle on the plants. A walk thru revealed that all the summer veggies must go except the peppers and okra. I will pick off the green tomatoes sometime this week and we'll plow everything up. I then called it a day and headed to the house. I was actually able to squeeze in a short run. ( Gotta shed those beach pounds, from sitting around doing nothing! Well, actually we did hike several miles each day but that in no way resembles farm work!)
Then it was on to supper and a quiet evening- or so I thought. While preparing supper the phone rang. I chose to ignore it since I was up to my elbows in meatloaf. Then it rang again. My sister this time. Did you get the message? No, what message. The one from the sheriff's department saying a breaking and entering suspect is in our area and to be on the lookout. Uh, no, I didn't get that one. Well, get your pistol and lock the doors. Hmmm... Since I had planned to sit on the patio and catch up on a few last things paperwork and computer wise, this was not good. So I grabbed my pistol, my paperwork and my dog and headed to the patio. Just another day on the homestead.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Home Again

No one should come home from vacation way more exhausted than when they left. However, a crappy bed and no sleep for several days does not make a well rested person. It is good to be home!
The farm and all the animals survived well in the capable hands of the sitter. Upon arriving home I did a quick check on the animals. The little doe that was sick when I left was now recovered and put back in with her herd mates. I picked the okra and checked the winter veggies. Everything has germinated and looks great except the mache and miner's lettuce. This is year two with both of those and year two of failure as well. IF I try again I will not direct sow and opt instead to try starting them in flats.
 I watered plants, caught up vacation laundry, got my calender and started making lists for the week. Call me crazy but as I looked at the to-do lists and gazed over the farm I felt way more at peace than I have in the last few days. I started chanting in my head.. there's no place like home, there's no place like home. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Heading Out

This morning we are headed to the beach for a few days. Of course there is always one crisis. As I fed and milked this morning I found a young doe with massive diarrhea. Over indulging most likely the culprit. Back to the house for meds and probiotics. She was settled in the barn with fresh hay and water. I called my farm sitter to report. I can give medicine! GO! OK, ok I'm going...  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rain, Rain

It started raining last Wednesday and thus far we have received 5 inches. I am not complaining because we really need it but it sure makes for soggy outside chores. Each day has brought a few brief hours of sun that allow us to run around and get chores done. Today was no different and in the short window of no rain we rearranged animals and cleaned out muddy stall areas. We will be heading to the beach soon for the boys yearly fishing trip and things need to be in order for the farm sitter to come and stay. I want things to be as easy as possible for her to manage. The rams and horses went into a pasture that she can water from outside as not have to go in. The rest of the flock went to the large pasture that they can graze while we are gone and that one too can be watered from outside. The hay racks will be filled to capacity with more stacked close by in case they finish it before we get back. Collars were taken of all the goats except for the ones being milked. Last year I had a few convince her that they were being milked even though they weren't - they bolted the gate and hopped on the stand ;o))
Long list made, lots of phone numbers jotted down.....
Leaving is very stressful but a little less now that I leave it in her capable hands!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The First Day of Fall

The Autumnal Equinox- the first day of fall. My favorite time of year has arrived. I love the cooler days, the shorter days and the changing of the leaves. Here in NC, we are blessed to be able to enjoy all four seasons and this is my favorite. This time of year things start to slow a bit here on the homestead and we can begin to catch up on projects pushed aside due to summer gardening and animal chores. Of course the animals still need tending daily but the load is lightened a bit since the babies are almost grown and the milk flow is less. The garden has all but stopped producing for the next few weeks. Soon we will plow up the last of the summer crops and wait for the winter ones to grow. I will be able to spend more time at my desk planning breeding groups for the Icelandic sheep and the dairy goats for the 2012 season. Finishing all the registrations and paperwork on the animals will finally get accomplished as well. Firewood will be split and indoor chores caught up, preparing for the winter months. I look forward to spinning and knitting again..... Did I mention how much I love the Fall? ;o)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Busy Couple of Weeks

The last two weeks have been a flurry of activity. Labor day weekend brought huge harvests of peas which were frozen and put in the freezer to be enjoyed this winter. This past weekend another huge harvest that, though shelled, still awaits the freezer. The fall garden has finally been completed except for garlic, which has yet to be shipped. We planted lots of greens in hopes of supplementing a fall CSA.
Last week also brought a landmark birthday for my husband. He turned the big five-o. I asked him what he wanted to do for such a grand occasion. I suggested zip lining to which I got a "I am afraid of heights" response. How about rock climbing, I asked. "Heights!! Remember? " Oh well. I just thought he should do something outside of his box. He happens to share his birthday with my sister and her best friend as well, so he opted for a small gathering of family and friends. My son and I seized the opportunity to redo the front patio with fall plants, new benches and planters and sprucing up the beds for the get together. Three days later it was a truly lovely place to entertain. For the party we had an Italian feast. The menu was amazing!
For starters, I served a homemade sun dried tomato pesto over brie cheese, crusty bread, olive oil with herbs for dipping and roasted garlic. Next was a minestrone soup that I had simmered in the crock pot all day. A large salad was served along side of my great aunt's lasagna recipe and ravioli smothered in a basil cream sauce. For desert, a homemade tiramisu from farm fresh eggs and local cream. Good food, family and friends made for a special and memorable birthday.         

Sunday, September 4, 2011

And More Peas!

I finally finished the rest of the butter peas. A total of 30 pounds were picked with at least that many more with a bit of rain. Not too bad for one row. I remembered why I only plant butter peas every other year. They are sooo labor intensive to pick. Now I need to shell them...
We also planted the first of our fall crops, brocolli, brocolli raab and cabbage that my sister started from seed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Peas, Peas

Today we picked peas. Crowder peas and butter peas. LOTS of peas. And I didn't get finished. The butter peas are very time consuming to pick and after half the row and a heaping half bushel I was done. I will finish the rest tomorrow. Doug picked the crowders and okra. Another half bushel of each. It was a hot day and we were soaked to the skin after working in the garden for 3 hours so we moved to cooler jobs, raking the barn and feeding hay while Luke and a friend split wood. So many projects, so little time, it seems!
 One of the Icelandic rams we sold, left this evening. He was probably one of the finest fleeced animals we have raised and I was thrilled to find out he was going to a spinner's flock in addition to being their flock sire.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Picking Up Hay

Still recovering, I was not allowed to pick up hay today. The boys did fine without me tho~ hmmm... that's food for thought! We had a lovely farm visitor and fellow homesteader and that kept me occupied while they worked. The count today was 299 bringing our year total to 1480. Not too bad.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mowing Fall Hay

Our fall cutting of hay went down today. Though not very thick it looks to be some really good hay. I have fed a good bit already since the cows and horses have eaten down their pasture pretty well.
With this cutting out loft will be filled to capacity. And with that we are ready for the winter!!
The vets were out today and critters were looked over and taken care of. Health certificates were filled out and the sheep are ready for their new homes. The LGD that killed the skunk has to stay in quarantine for a couple of weeks--it seems his rabies shot had lapsed by a few days. Ugh. We are not really worried as it was a normal event with the skunk, being nighttime when it was out, but just want to be safe. He also has to take antibiotics twice a day for the next 2 weeks. That is already proving to be a challenge as he spit the first one out, even wrapped in meat. Hay should come up friday!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Color Am I ?

I am hoping with the help of some Icelandic breeders we can make a call on the color of these two ram lambs.  I think this one is a spotted black badger~

And this one a spotted moorit badger?



Will let you know!  Okay-- the top one is a black badger and the bottom a moorit badger. Mystery solved!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Morning Chaos and Vet Checks

I fixed my first cup of coffee and went to settle in on the screen porch to enjoy it, only to hear one of the dairy goats screaming her head off. She was struck in the fence. I could tell she wasn't hurt so decided to ignore her and finish my cup. My mom appeared and asked if I knew the one of the LGD's was in the wrong pasture. No and that was not a good thing as he is still not allowed to be in with the chickens. As if on cue, squawking started. I ran out barefoot and screaming- "Drop it!!!" He did so and the chicken ran off. And so began my day.
The large animal vet was due at 1 and the small animal vet at 6 this evening. Over the weekend the same naughty LGD killed a skunk and it proceeded to rip his mouth pretty bad.( Sometimes he takes his job a little to seriously!) In order to be safe I wanted him to have a booster rabies shot. In between waiting I milked, baked bread and 2 Amish friendship cakes. I also checked the garden. I picked 24 eggplant. I'm sorry but I really don't know what to do with 24 eggplant....

Late tomatoes have started to ripen and the butter peas are ready. Lots of peppers as well. I got everything picked but the peas and hope to get to that late this evening after supper and the vet leaves. Looks like I will be doing some preserving this week.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rounding Up The Sheep

The vet is coming on Monday to do some health certificates for the Icelandic sheep we have sold. So today we had a roundup. First we had to play musical pastures. Cow here, horses there, to allow the sheep to be moved. Once that was done, I walked ahead of the sheep with grain while the boys and Luke's girlfriend followed behind. Out of the front pasture, through the lower and finally into the barnyard. Only a few escapees and in short order all were up. I was so excited to see the beautiful fleeces this year. I made a mental note to get in touch with the shearer asap. I checked over everyone to find the adults all looking good but in 2 weeks time the lambs went from pink membranes to pale. Ugh. So, the boys got to hold and I dewormed. A couple have developed a raspy cough so they were quarenteened and started on antibiotics. I will have the vet check those on Monday too. Lastly I had to tag the ones leaving but even that went surprisingly well. Gotta love those days... 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Working Towards "Normal"

My first day back milking and of course none of my milking untensils were sterilized. The chickens were very happy~ me~ not so much!  A pile of red peppers awaited roasting and 1/2 bushel of peaches needed to be frozen. So I guess things are getting back to normal.
Finally I have all my seeds ready for the fall garden and am waiting for the garlic to ship. Of course I will plant the usual things ~ kale, spinach, kohlrabi, collards, carrots, beets, brocolli and head cabbage but this year have added a few interesting veggies.
 One is a leaf cabbage from Territorial Seeds. I thought it interesting and wondering if it might hold better we have another bitter cold winter, more like the collards. We'll see. Also mache, some new mustards, a purple pac choi, miner's lettuce and rutabaga. Lots of new things that promise to be packed full of nutrients and more cold hardy.  I am looking forward to cooler days.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Green Beans

It has been a very sad year for green beans.Thankfully I canned enough last year so I am not too devastated over that fact. We have planted three times only to pick a nice sized mess each time.
Today I picked what few were down in the garden. It only amounted to a couple of good meals. After picking them I snapped enough for a meal, tossed in the few butterpeas I found and set them to simmer in the chicken stock I found hiding in the fridge. They were a yummy addition to supper for sure.
Today the boys "let" me fill water buckets AND gather eggs ;o))

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Day Out

Today was my first day venturing out.Though still extremely sore, I was able to walk to the garden and pick a few tomatoes. I saw the green beans needed to be picked and there are lots of jalapenos ready. The butter peas are ever so close but I hope will wait a bit longer. Next I gathered the eggs and went to visit the dairy girls. They talked to me when they saw me headed their way. It was nice to be missed! Later, after a rest, I took another short walk with my husband. Slowly things are returning to normal.

Friday, August 19, 2011

All Is Well

The good news is that the tumor is benign. However, after two days down I am beginning to become extremely board and a smidge grumpy. I am trying hard not to take it out on my poor family as they are being absolutely wonderful. I was able to do some laundry today and load a few dishes. I am also working on several knitting projects and much to my families' horror I am making lists of all the things I can think of that need to be done around here. I am also working on getting a new blog up for the Icelandic sheep. I found a cool online garden planner through Territorial Seeds that I am considering trying out. They have a 30 day free trial offer. Once you enter your garden size, you can arrange icons and plan your crops for the year. It helps plan what and when too plant, succession plantings ands helps with crop rotation. Email updates are sent biweekly with reminders of what needs to be done.... hmmm. Yep, I am definitely board.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grape Juice

Yesterday I cooked the grapes down while finishing all my check lists. After cooking and straining, I had almost 2 gallons of juice. After work today I canned 5 quarts and left the rest to be enjoyed with breakfast this week. Lack of time did not allow jelly to be made- maybe next year ;o))
All lists are complete and I am ready for the big day tomorrow. However, a monkey wrench was thrown into my plans when I was informed that I was to be at the hospital at 6:15 a.m. instead of 10:30 and I had to scramble to make milking arrangements. My family has been my rock these last few days and I am so grateful!!