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!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


The first thing I had to do after morning chores, according to my husband, was to go and buy a dishwasher. Ugh. I milked and put a pot of beans on and we headed out. Buying one was relatively painless just time consuming. We went ahead and made the grocery store run while we were out and stopped to check the hive at my in laws house.
Finally back home and able to check the hive here, we discovered that the ones we recovered from the barn didn't need to be treated but the ones we bought do. The mite count on the wild hive was 20 and the other 103. Kinda interesting....
Groceries put up, veggies washed and cereal made I headed to check the grapes. Quite some time later I was back with a bushel. These vines were planted just 1 year ago in the spring and proved to be very prolific. The Catawba seems to have done better than the Concord this year. I will be making juice and jelly tomorrow!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

I woke to the sound of thunder and rain this morning. Hmmm.. that could certainly dampen my plans for the day. However, after baking and cleaning up the sun was trying to peak out. I milked and checked over all the dairy goats. A few hooves needed trimming but all in all they look good. I am going to deworm Tuesday evening since the milk will not be kept for a few days. Next on the list was to check the bees for mites. It is that time of year. My husband devised a cool contraption that mimicked the sticky traps that are available. He took a white piece of thin siding and cut it to fit the bottom of the hive. He then sprayed it with cooking spray and slide it in. The mites will fall onto it and die and tomorrow we will check the mite number. In order to do that though we had to make several stops at various relatives homes and of course there was a bit of visiting at each. So, that put us behind for the day. It was late afternoon when we got back and after evening chores were done it was time to call it a day. Tomorrow. Tommorrow, there's always tomorrow......  

Friday, August 12, 2011

RIP Dishwasher

Yep, it has been pronounced dead. With an estimate of 300.00, I escorted the repair man to the door. No thanks. Okay, so buying a new dishwasher was not on my to do list for the weekend. Sigh. I will put it there though. I never realized how much I depended on that appliance until I spent a week of washing, drying and sterilizing. Milk pails, bread bowls, canning jars, oh my! I actually dumped the milk to the chickens on days I didn't desperately need it just not to have to wash the jars and milking pails. I am now a farm girl with dish pan hands. YUK!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Preparing For Surgery

Finally, surgery has been scheduled for 1 week from today. Of course there are a million and one things to do, strict instructions on feeding & milking routines and checking the animals and garden.
The good news is that I don't have to be at the hospital until 10:30, so I can milk and feed before I leave. I will have to be down next Thursday but my mom has stepped up to the plate and offered to milk.
So this coming weekend will be a flurry of activity. Checking eyes again, trimming hooves and rearranging critters to make it as easy as possible for the caretakers. It is Murphy's Law---if I don't do this, SOMETHING will happen! I will need to make sure there is enough feed for all the hungry mouths.
I plan get as much of the garden bounty processed as I can. Grapes are ready to be picked and the eggplant are abundant. The okra is starting to put on in great quantities as well. Thankfully other crops are at a lull and it looks like the butter peas are a couple of weeks out. So off I go to make lists, lists and more lists!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Up early to bake, milk and feed before heading to work. It was a quiet morning. My fears for the cashmere doe were realized and she did not make the night. Instructions were left for my son on getting her buried, as I would not be home until late. Another casualty in the battle of the barberpole worm. My heart breaks with each loss.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Other Half Of The day

Well, I didn't finish the herb bed. Nor the shower. I did get most of my kitchen chores finished. Due to the demented condition of my dishwasher and the fact that I couldn't get someone here until Friday to look at it, I froze tomatoes instead of canning them. Much less mess. The doe I have been nursing was perky this morning but the day brought temps near 100* and I fear it has taken it's toll. I tried to move her to the barn but the stress was too much and I don't think she will make the night. I have made her as comfortable as possible, hope for the best, but know the outcome is grim.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Half Day

Today was a half day. I got half the herb bed weeded. I got half my kitchen chores done. I got half the shower scrubbed. I have no clue why it was such a struggle to stay on task!
I have been nursing one of my older cashmere does who has struggled with parasites this summer.She has consumed a lot of my time the last day or so. She is doing well, though and I am hopeful. I have been taking her Malabar spinach leaves, which she loves, and hauling water to her. She is also getting a daily dose of vitamins along with grain. So, several trips a day out across the pasture are taken. She is not willing to come to the barn yet, preferring the shade of the woods.
I have also been dealing with my demonic dishwasher that has suddenly become possessed and kicks the door open during the cycles.This a bad thing. I use it to sterilize all of my miking equipment, jars and canning supplies. We don't use paper plates either so when I say it gets run 2-3 times a day I am not exaggerating! The thought of washing all that stuff by hand makes me quake in my shoes.
Off to check the goat....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Homemade Feta Is So Much Betta!

An overabundance of milk this week lead me to make several batches of feta. It is such an easy cheese to make and freezes really well. Here are the directions: Heat 1 gallon of milk to 86*. Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Let ripen 1 hour. Add 1/2 tsp liquid rennet to 1/4 c cool water and stir into milk. Let sit another hour. Cut curds in small squares and let sit a few minutes. Keeping the cheese at 86* stir for about 15 minutes. Usually my pot stays at this temp because it is so heavy, but if not, set in a sink of warm water to maintain temp. Drain curds for several hours. Once drained slice into chunks and salt really well on all sides. Let sit in a covered container for 24 hours on the counter draining off any whey. Salt again and refrigerate. Let age 5 days or so. Use within 10 days or freeze.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Finally it is raining. We were getting desperate. The garden once again was looking extremely sad. Between the heat and drought nothing is setting fruit right now. The butter peas are full of blooms, but no peas. The peppers have no blooms. The third planting of green beans have go by the wayside as well. This will be the year of no canned green beans- good thing I canned extra last year! Between the coons and mother nature there will be no late corn. And so it goes in the gardening world. Battles won and lost on a daily basis.
Today, I am enjoying the rumble of thunder and the lightning. The rain is like music on the rooftop. I have a few tomatoes to can and I am ordering fall seeds and garlic. These are the days that revive my soul and allow me to rejuvenate.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Aunt Ruby's Giant German Green

Yes, this is a ripe tomato. It has got to be my all time favorite. Not a lot of these tomatoes on the vine but the flavor is outstanding. I have played with some heirlooms over the past few years and this is my top choice. The flavor is very complex, but anyone who has ever tried it says this is the way a tomato is supposed to taste.(Not to mention, it is beautful on the plate.) Given a chance, this is a must try!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tomato Time

Big beautiful baskets of tomatoes are sitting on my kitchen floor. Where to start? Today I think marinara sauce. After getting the tomatoes on to simmer, I pulled the red and yellow peppers from the fridge. Those I roasted and peeled. Some made their way into the freezer and others in the salsa. It has been a daily process to can all of these gifts from the garden but by the end of this week I have added another 7 quarts of plain tomatoes, 13 more pints of marinara and 12 pints of salsa! The early tomatoes are slowing a bit but the late are starting to ripen, We are not done yet! Still left on my list are a roasted pepper spaghetti sauce, one more round of salsa and at least a dozen more quarts of plain tomatoes.