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 ......