Monday, January 31, 2011

Lentil, Sausage and Brown Rice Soup

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful and 71*. I made great plans for today on catching up on barn work, thinking it was going to be just as lovely. Not so. It was cloudy and in the low 40's and I thought I might freeze to death! I did deworm two of my older goats that were beginning to look pale. With milk goats due to start kidding mid-February I am keeping a close eye on them. I also had to disbud the first bucks that were born. I took my cow on a walk about and she did really great. To be quite honest I was shocked! You would have thought she had been on a lead line her whole life. She and the calves were moved to another pasture with better shelter before the rains set in. Other things on my list, tagging, tattooing and wethering were shoved to the back burner, I think I'll wait for a warmer day. Instead I loaded up firewood, put on a pot of soup and headed to my studio to fill out pedigrees and registration papers. I would rather have a poke in the eye than do desk work, a necessary evil I guess.
Anyway I thought I would share this yummy soup recipe that I have tweaked over the last few months~

Saute 1 onion, 2-3 chopped carrots, 3-4 cloves of garlic in a bit of olive oil. Add a sausage of your choice and brown. (I use an all natural jalapeno chicken sausage, use what you have!) Add 1 bay leaf, 1 cup washed lentils, 1/2 cup brown rice and chicken stock to cover. At this point I pressure cook it for about 25 minutes, but you can just cook on low or crock pot it. (I have a Living Well pressure cooker, crock pot combo that has become one of my favorite new toys.) Season to taste, salt, pepper, herbs. Once done, I add a bit more stock, lots of spinach and leave on low in my crock pot. Yummy, rib sticking and healthy. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Honey... is home!

I found a cow. Honey, a jersey, arrived home today with her 3 week old bull calf and a Holstein calf that the farmer had purchased to put on her. (He was not interested in milking any more.) This will work out perfectly. On the days I can't milk she will have the calves to nurse. Down the road we will have beef for us and enough to sell. Honey has not been messed with for a while so it will take a few days for us to bond but even this evening she was already coming around. I will have the vet out on Tuesday to do a TB test so that gives us lots of time to get to know one another. Jasmine has been missed so much and I shed a few tears on the way to pick Honey up, but once again the homestead feels complete.

And the set of twins born last night? Both bucks! Arghhh...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pruning The Grape Vines

If there were one thing that I hated doing more than disbudding and tagging goats it would have to be pruning. Call me crazy, but I find pruning to be almost barbaric. I mean really, it not like it is a DEAD branch. And so it was, that pruning the grape vines was on my "to do" list today. I put it off until 4:30 and had run out of excuses. Pruners in my pocket I advance toward the vines. Since this is just our second year with our grapes, I did some research and looked at pictures. Obviously, my grapes did not read the manual and in no way even remotely resembled the pictures of what the "before" should look like. This is no exaggeration when I say I took a shaky breath and began cutting. Snip, snip, snip. As the trimmings began to pile up, my self confidence was plunging. Too much? Not enough? Am I killing them??? Yikes!
My son walked up and asked why I was cutting so much off the vines. I almost fainted. Finally my mission was accomplished and I declared to the vines- this hurt me a lot more than you.
Luke rolled his eyes.

Now on to a happier note..the next to the last cashmere kidded today. I felt quite certain that if she did not give birth today she may possibly explode and at 5:30 I discovered a set of brand new twins. Both were soaking wet and just minutes old. I finally have one that looks like its mom. Since I have been trying to get that color for quite a while I was really excited.I didn't check the sex because they were so new but fingers crossed it is a girl!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Vet and the Ambulance Driver

I awoke to a very cold rain but grateful that the snow they predicted last week missed us. Today was a work day so I headed to the kitchen to get busy baking. I noticed one of the cashmeres was not standing in here normal spot in the hall of the barn so while the bread was rising I hurried down to give a quick check. No babies this morning. All was quiet on the homestead...

And so at 8:45 this evening as I walked in the door from the last of my chores, my husband said my sister had called and sounded frantic. Her dog was covered in blood and I needed to come fast. Oh, and bring Luke in case the dog needed to go to the vet. (Seems she had consumed one to many glasses of wine to be driving!) He was mumbling some comment about needing a vet and an ambulance driver as we hurried out the door. On arrival at my sister's- she lives next door- we found poor little Ricky-Bobbie wrapped in a towel and shivering uncontrollably. I literally gasped when I unwrapped the towel. He had horrible gash wounds and puncture wounds over the better part of his body. I real vet was defiantly in order. We loaded up and headed to the emergency clinic. Poor little guy spent the night in ICU.

Update: Ricky-Bobbie is doing fine and is back home. The vet quit counting stitches and he has 5 drain tubes in the wounds. We think maybe the neighbor's dog came for a visit and there may have been a scuffle over a bone. Mom took him rotisserie chicken and I took him some homemade doggie treats so he is feeling pretty special right now!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Going to School

It has been a long time since I have been in a classroom setting. Tonight is our first night of a 12 week bee keeping series. We had bees several years ago and though we watched videos and read books it was still a challenge and then after a horrible ice storm lost all of our hives. So the equipment and hives have been patiently waiting in the basement for us to start again. It is our hope to finish this course and begin keeping bees once again. Since I bake with honey and probably go through somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 -30 gallons a year, I am sure it will be well worth the effort!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Yesterday the first of our garden seeds arrived. I have moved my grow lights to the garage and since we installed a doggie door, the temp hovers around 60 most of the time. My plan this year is to start all of our seeds out there. As usual I probably over ordered and will run out of space. We have high hopes to add a green house sometime later this year. I also ordered a book to help me begin saving some of the seeds that are a bit more challenging than beans and okra.
February 15 is my projected start date, that is if the Almanac says it is a good day!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Romper Room

This time of year finds me getting severely sidetracked at the barn. Feeding the kids and watching them play I loose track of time. I get lost in their silly antics. The barn is like Romper Room and is a delightful place to be. Here are a few baby pics to enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What a Way to Start a Day

I have a good friend who just opened an all female gym. She is a personal trainer as well and this has been a dream of hers for a long time. I worked out with her for many years, but then started working and blah, blah, blah.. just got out of the habit. So, when she called me and invited me to see it, I was inspired. So today was supposed to be my first session with her to get back into training.

The morning started out routinely enough. All the kids were doing well, romping and playing in the barn. Bottles were warmed and fed to the kids and hay to the moms. Dressed for the gym and literally walking out the door, I heard the dogs go crazy and saw one of the yearling cashmere does go flying through the pasture and then the familiar cry of a baby. Great! I was in my flimsy workout pants and running shoes that have never seen the outdoors, because I swore when I bought them a few months back I would not wear them to the barn. Surely if I was careful I could go and check on things without getting tooo dirty. Sometimes I can be really silly.

It seems the dogs went to check on the new arrival and frightened the new mom. I gathered up the soaking wet babe, enticed the mom to the gate and then had to practically drag her to the barn with the lights. I got baby settled under the lights and hurried back to the house. I was now covered in mud and afterbirth and had 10 minutes to make the 20 minute drive to the gym. I changed my shirt, wiped off my shoes best I could and headed to the gym. On the way, I called and let them know I was running late. One look at me when I got there and it was "Let me guess, barn emergency?" Probably the mud spattered workout pants gave me away.

Meanwhile back at the ranch... New baby was dry and warm when I got back and trying to nurse. Unfortunately the new mom had no milk which was the reason I did not suspect she was close to delivering. I keep tubes of colostrum on hand for these emergencies, so a dose later and a bottle of milk and she was doing fine. This brings kid count to 9.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More Baby Goats

Yesterday was extremely busy on the animal front. On my morning rounds I noticed the second Nigerian was in labor. I also noticed a cashmere was acting a bit strange but wasn't really sure if it was signs of labor or another problem. I tried to move her to the barn but she was getting stressed and since it had warmed up nicely choose to leave her until I had help. By mid afternoon the Nigerian had produced a set of triplets. The last one born was a bit weak so I milked out colostrum and fed her. I checked every hour or so and tried to make sure she was nursing. She has a huge brother who is quite the pig and I have a feeling she will end being a bottle baby. By late afternoon, I discovered the reason for the cashmere's strange mood. She had produced a set of twins, brand new when I found them. This time she was more than happy to follow me to the barn! One of her kids is the most unusual chocolate color I have ever seen. That brings our total to 8 kids since last Tuesday. We stand at 4 bucks and 4 does.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

And Twins Make Three...

Today's' surprise was the birth of twin Nigerian dwarf kids. Still brand new and wet here in the pic. She was a good mom and had them midday when it was a wee bit warmer. Wouldn't you know though, 2 bucks! Arggh!
Day 5 of ice and I am beginning to wonder if it is ever going to melt. We have a lot of shade and it is going nowhere. Snow I don't mind, and can navigate, but right now each day is an extreme challenge to get to the barn without breaking a limb. If any does melt it is refreezing during the night. Maybe I need to learn to ice skate. Am I starting to sound a bit whiny?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow, Ice and Baby Goats!

We woke to an icy glaze over the snow. About 1/4 inch had covered the ground and trees making for a treacherous trek to the barns. I had to stomp my feet to go through the ice and gain traction. While filling the chicken troughs, I heard the all too familiar cry of a baby goat. Not from the barn I expected though. My husband and I began the search to find one of the cashmere's had kidded in the small barn where the dogs usually sleep. She was still a bit damp, but alert and healthy. I scooped her up and headed to the big barn with mom following close behind. Slipping and sliding all the way, we finally reached the barn and got her settled under the heat lamps.
After getting her settled, I went to check on the other cashmere does. It seems that every year one always catches me off guard. As soon as we are able to navigate pastures I will move them closer. None of the others look close to kidding ~I think, I hope!

And so it begins. A new year full of babies. The surprise and excitement of kidding and lambing season never grows old. The name of the first little white cashmere doe? Snow, of course!

Monday, January 10, 2011


It began sometime around 4 a.m. By 4:30 the ground was covered with a couple of inches. At 9 , we had 4. It has been snowing ever since. I watched the birds feed, they emptied the better part of two feeders today. We counted 38 doves feeding on the ground. I watched a lone coyote wandering the fence line and disappear in the pines. I almost felt sorry for it- but only for a second. It looks like our total will be about 6 inches. I put a large pot of beefy cabbage soup on for lunch and had to go to the garden and rummage under the snow for the cabbage. I located two small heads and though frozen worked just fine in the soup.

The early morning hay feeding revealed no baby goats. Mid day all was still well. I did most of the feeding and let the puppies out to play. They had a wonderful time racing in the snow. The goats were not as happy to have to leave the barn to eat, but decided grain was worth it. In between checking on critters, keeping the fire going and cooking, I worked on a few knitting projects that needed to be finished up. One is a felted beret that was started long ago. The other is a black and red felted hat. Earlier this week I finished a pair of mittens for a sweet little girl, just in time for a fun day in the snow. I also got most of my seed orders completed. My hope is to finish that tomorrow and get them ordered. With the highs this week not getting above freezing until Friday, it looks like I will get lots of unfinished projects completed! I certainly won't be going anywhere.
At last check, still no baby goats but the freezing rain has arrived and already the gates had a glaze. Fingers crossed there will be no damage from the ice and heavy snow coating tree branches. We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Preparing For The Storm

Tomorrow's forecast is snow and I was mentally making notes on what needed to be done today to get prepared. As I sat at the kitchen table sipping my second cup of coffee, I glanced out the window to see the livestock guardian pups sitting on the pond. Yes, they were sitting on the pond! I scrambled into my barn boots and sprinted towards the barn all the while calling to them. The pond's edge was frozen enough to hold those 30 lb puppies and thankfully they did not go through. And so the day began....

The next few hours were spent filling hay feeders and water buckets. I also had to do some major rearranging to get the puppies out of the pasture with the pond. They were moved to a safer pasture until the weather warms or until they go to their new homes. The lights had been hung in stalls earlier this week and all the goats that look close will be housed in these stalls for the week. The Nigerian dwarf does are especially close and will be having several day and night checks until delivery. I expect they will both triple this year. The hoses were drained and several loads of firewood hauled to the house. Lastly, since the forecast is calling for snow to change ice later tomorrow, we made a trip to the gas station and filled the cans, just in case we might need the generator. Now all we have to do is wait.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year

And so begins a new year. This is the time I start planning the garden and dream about all the things I would like to accomplish on the farm this year. I don't make resolutions, as such, (Not that I don't need to, I certainly could loose those 10 pounds I have managed to find the last couple of years and who doesn't need to be more organized?) but I do plot and plan the month of January away!
On the list of things to do are order seeds and gather seed starting supplies. It looks like we will have early goat babies this year, so the barn must be cleaned out and lights hung very soon. I STILL haven't finished skirting all the fleeces, grrrr, so that needs to be pushed up the list.We have several inside projects that really need to be done before the spring months call us outside again, like replacing the upstairs toilet that has unceremoniously dumped more than one person on the floor. My studio looks like a bomb went off in it..... and on it goes.
One thing I do plan to do is to chart what we produce here on the farm. I think it would be really cool to see on paper exactly what we produce in a year. I started today, with the harvest of 5 pounds of collards, 1 pound of spinach and 8 eggs ;o)) I am going to post the monthly totals at the side of my blog, so check back and see how we are doing.
Here is to a happy, healthy new year!