Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On the "must do" list today was cleaning out the milking parlor. Over the course of the winter a lot of stuff got stacked in there. Since we will be gearing up to milk here in the next couple of weeks, it was time. With Mom's help it was looking pretty good in short order. I still want to add some organizing bins and I need a second head gate for one of the stands. My hope is that if I threaten to buy one my hubby will build it for me. At her suggestion, we decided a hot plate might be nice to heat up milk for the kids and water for washing instead of making a thousand trips up and down the hill each day. I still need to pressure wash the milking stands~ maybe this weekend that will happen. I also need to order some supplies from Hoegger Supply very soon.

Once we were done and the mid day feeding was finished I went to check on the plants at the greenhouse. My sister said today was a good planting day. I had one last pack of tomatoes to get started and lots of things were ready to transplant. The greenhouse is almost to it's max. We have cauliflower ready to harden off and as soon as that is done some space will be freed up. We chatted about an opportunity we have to purchase a much bigger greenhouse (100 feet long) that would serve as a greenhouse as well as an in ground hoop house and where we could locate it. Lots of broccoli raab, celery, snapdragons and peppers were potted up. Several flats of tomatoes and eggplant too.
We tend to get lost out there and loose track of time and when I looked up it was past five!
I still had night feedings and supper to cook!! I hurried home and made a barn check. My older saanen doe was in labor. The bottle kids keep harassing her and she was in a foul mood so I moved her to an undisclosed location where she could kid in peace ;o) Then it was on to the house to get supper ready and feed to two-leggeds. Then it was back to the barn to milk and feed the babies. In the interim, "Roxanne" had delivered a lovely set of twin does.

Monday, February 27, 2012

ANOTHER dark dreary morning. It would have been a great day to sleep in. The house was quiet, the boys were gone and I considered it. However, we have a demented cardinal that is consumed with fighting her reflection in my dining room window and with the constant banging against the glass it would have not been possible. This has gone on for days. She starts about daylight. I have chased her away repeatedly. I am considering buying a slingshot...Oh well, I really did have a lot to do.
Coffee in hand I peered out the kitchen window. Was that a new kid in the barn? Yep.
 I finished my coffee before heading to the barn to feed all of the babies and check the new kid. It was a beautiful, huge single doe. She and mom went up in a stall and I waded through the sea of babies to get to my seat on the bucket to feed them. They are like a herd of hungry piranhas. I milked out the girls for the mid day feeding, checked hay and water and went back to get a few things done in the house. I put some chicken on to boil for a pot of soup tonight and did some "catch  up" cleaning. I seem to be living at the barn these days and was behind. Then it was back to the barn for mid day feedings and some clean up there. The sun had finally made it's way out and the day was turning out to be quite nice. The barn had to be raked out and fresh shavings put in the stalls. Barn chores and feeding done, I wandered to the garden to pull some carrots and rutabaga. I noticed one of the angora goats was standing alone. A sure sign she was probably going to kid soon. With a little enticement she and her sister were moved to the barn and within the hour she went into labor. Later I checked her to find our first ever cashgoras had arrived. A beautiful set of twin does. A lovely blue color and a white. It was time for the night milking and the final feeding of the kids. After supper I made one last check and moved one more doe in the barn. Kidding has come fast and furious in the last couple of weeks and we have only four girls to go! Yeah!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Day At The Barn

My husband wanted to go to the shooting range today. I told him to go ahead and have fun but I felt the need to stay close to home and close to the barn. I am glad I did. Two more sets of twins were born. The last of the cashmere does and one of the Alpines kidded mid day. The moms did a great job and no help was needed from me. However, when I checked the cashmere later, one kid seemed to be missing. I hurried to look for it and found it buried in hay with the mom practically laying on it. If I had waited much longer to check, it would most likely have smothered. I am beginning to wonder if the stars are totally out of alignment or what. Sigh. What the heck, I am already feeding 10 or so kids, what's one more. I took her to the barn. The kids from the laundry room were all relocated to the barn. It didn't take long for everyone to become acquainted and soon they were all romping and racing about.
I spent some time in the garden picking greens and weeding but most of the day was spent keeping a watchful eye on the girls. Hoof trimming and worming were done, all in preparation for getting our milking schedule lined up. Hopefully in a week or so everyone will have kidded and we will settle into some sort of a routine. I like routine. Routine is good and much more preferable than chaos which seems to be the norm these days!
Enjoy some baby pics`~

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another Set Of Triplets

The before bedtime check last night revealed our second set of triplets. Thankfully they had not been here long because the mother decided to kid outside in the pouring rain and bitter winds instead of the dry warm barn. One kid was up. The other two looked dead and at first glance I feared they may be. However, they were breathing, so I grabbed them up and moved them to the lights where I gave them a dose of colostrum. I then moved mom and other baby in as well. Back to the other kids now I scooped them up and ran to the house. In the laundry room I set up a heater and spent the next hour and a half vigorously rubbing and warming them. Finally they were showing signs of life. I milked some colostrum from their mom and bottle fed them a bit. I took a shower and got to bed around midnight. During the night I fed them every two hours and at five a.m. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. They were going to be fine!
Now it was time to get the sourdough in the pans. Once that was done I caught another little catnap before starting the rest of my day. I was back up to bake and feed the babies when Mom appeared to help with the kids at the barn. While I finishing up in the house the phone rang. Come quick. A first time mom with just feet showing. OMG. Really? I ran to the barn. Sure enough there were only feet and unfortunately  they were the back ones. We were at the point of no return and so the kid had to be pulled. A whopping baby girl was delivered and I rushed her to the house to be dried and put in with the others because the mom took one look at her and decided that that pain in her you know what, was not something she wanted to deal with at the moment ;o) She was very healthy and strong and will be moved back to the barn tomorrow.
The rest of the day was thankfully, relatively uneventful. We spent some time picking up branches and debris out of the hay fields and stacking wood. By late afternoon I was feeling the effects of little sleep and was ready to call it a day. Once the evening chores were completed, I took a shower while my hubby spoiled me by cooking supper. Nice!

Friday, February 24, 2012

It was exceptionally warm today and because of that thunderstorms were in the forecast. I hurried to get my baking done as I needed to get to the feed store to pick up some feed and alfalfa hay for the dairy does. I got home and unloaded everything. Today I spent a great deal of time doing barn chores. New mineral dishes were put out filled with salt, minerals and kelp. I brought in two does that look close to delivery. Actually they are overdue but will most likely kid tonight with the changing weather. Seems to be a trigger! Once everyone was settled I headed to my sister's house. We spent several hours potting tomatoes, celery and eggplant. Though the skies darkened and the winds came up, the interior was cozy and inviting, bursting with the promise of spring.We were run in the house once when the wind became so fierce we feared we might be carried off. Once that passed we were able to finish up with the transplanting. Then it was back to the barn. The afternoon check revealed the second Jacob had lambed. She looked a bit confused, I think this was her first time, so the two tiny babes were hauled to a stall with lights. Finishing up, I finally headed for the shower and to fix supper.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

In With The New - Orchard Day 2

After running a couple of errands this morning Luke and I were orchard bound to get in the 7 new fruit trees. Trees, shovels and fertilizer loaded, we were ready to start digging holes. As we passed the sheep barn, Luke asked if there was supposed to be babies in there. I went to make a check. It was at that moment the day went to hell in a hand basket.
Oh, there were babies alright. One of Mom's jacob sheep had lambed as well as one of her nubian does. One of my ewes had gotten a piece of hay twine wrapped around her back feet and was hobbled. The harder she tried to get out of it the tighter it got. Luke helped me get her cut loose and as I started the gather up the goat kid, I stumbled on another that was still damp and chilled. I picked both up and he lead the doe to the barn. She had no milk and no interest in her children. Oh boy. Just the way I wanted to start the milking season! I dried the cool baby and tubed her some colostrum. The other kid was fine, but screaming his head off. He got colostrum as well. I went to see if my doe that kidded yesterday might have some milk. Not a drop. Her little hooligans had slurped her dry. I got the doe settled with some grain and hay and as I rounded to corner to toss the rest of the hay to the goats, there stood one of my yearlings with twins. Thankfully those kids were up, dry and had nursed. They were moved to the barn. I called my mom for bottles. She arrived directly to tell me she had a set of twins in her barn on the hill. She was able to milk out some colostrum from that doe and we got the babies fed. The chilled one was still a bit weak so she will be spending a few days in the house with my mom. Finally 2 hours after I started to the the orchard, I got back there. Luke had the trees soaking in water and had dug a few holes. We cleared the bramble patch that had started in the corner and finished digging. Another couple of hours passed and the trees were planted and the brush hauled off. I held gates while Luke fed a large round bale of hay to the cows. Back to the barn to check and finish feeding. Thankfully everyone was fairly settled. I headed to the house to start supper. Luke  stuck his head out of the door. Lettuce? Did you pick lettuce? No. I turned around and headed to the garden. Lettuce and carrots picked, I could now start supper. A late night feeding and all was well. For now..... ;o)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


This morning I shuffled to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee. I wandered over to look out the window as is my usual practice. Standing on the pond dam was my saanen doe, Ms. White. Beside her was not one, not two but three large kids. All of them were up and dry and looking great. However, the rains were here and they would soon be soaked and cold. I hurried to put on some clothes and boots and headed to the barn. I got  them settled in a dry stall,  gave her a scoop of grain and went back to enjoy my first cup of coffee.
Once I had some caffeine coursing through my veins I headed back to the barn. I wanted to get a light hung and I hadn't even checked their sex the first go round. Two does and a buck. Hooray! hopefully this year the tables will turn and we will be blessed with more girls than boys. Last year was dismal with 26 bucks and 10 does. We are certainly due a good "girl" year.
As promised it was a nasty day. Hay feeders were stuffed full and the critters were content. The temperature continued to drop as the day wore on. We have 4 more does due on the 22nd and fingers crossed they will wait.
And so kidding season 2012 begins.....

Crazy Weather!

Can you believe this? Snow..... This, after to glorious day we had yesterday.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Out With The Old- Orchard Day 1

First thing this morning while I was baking, the boys fertilized the hay fields. We finished about the same time and after lunch  headed to the orchard. Our fruit trees arrived yesterday. I can't wait to get them in the ground! Today we spent several hours cutting down the old trees and hauling them off. The large old pear that had a blight and 5 apple trees came out. Also to come out was a cranberry bush (don't ask!). It took several hours to cut up and drag off all the limbs. The plum trees were pruned and broken branches were cut out. Unfortunately we did not get of the new trees planted because we had plans to head to the city to see a musical tonight. We stopped early enough to get all the animals fed and watered. While at the barn my large saanen was acting a bit strange. I felt she was most likely showing first signs of labor. She was munching on hay and since it was a lovely warm day I knew she should be fine. I begged her to just twin this year and headed to the house. After sprinkling the roots of the fruit trees with water, it was time to shower and leave. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and cold with a chance of snow flurries. (It  was right at 60 today!) Hopefully Monday we can finally get them planted. 

The orchard before-
And after!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Feast From The Farm

Valentine's Day. A day for doing something special for the one you love. My husband and I have been together 28 years. Married for 20 of those years. At the risk of sounding incredibly sappy, we still adore each other. We are blessed. Today was to be the first Valentine's day that we have been alone together in quite a while. Not that I mind having the kids here and a bit sad because they aren't.
I decided to make a surprise feast for my hubby. I wanted to use what we raised here at the farm for the most part (darn it, we don't raise lobsters!) and for it all to be homemade. I had been perusing cookbooks for the last few days and finally settled on lemon chicken, carrot orzo and steamed broccoli ( the LAST of the broccoli ). Our appetizer was to be jalapeno chevre and crackers and for dessert mini eclairs with an espresso cream filling drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce...
Once he left for work, I sprang into action. I thawed the chicken breasts and laid out the goat cheese left from the fall. I made the eclair puffs and when the first batch didn't suit me, I tossed them to the chickens and made another. I made the cream filling and set it to chill and finished the chocolate sauce. I chopped  the veggies for the orzo, carrots, onions and garlic, all from the farm. I harvested fresh parsley and chives from the herb garden. Everything was ready to put together easily and quickly. Then I headed to the gym for a quick workout. Once home, I tended all the critters. Co-op was due in today and made a quick trip to meet our driver. That picked up and distributed, I got home and set the table for the surprise feast.
The lemon chicken was divine and the orzo was thick and creamy, made risotto style. The cheese had just the right hint of heat. And dessert? Wow!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trying Something New

We have 2 English setters. One has allergies that get so bad in the summer, he has to be on multiple meds and steroids. Each summer has gotten progressively worse. Last summer was so bad, that it crossed my mind he would be better off being put to sleep than enduring the misery he was in. Come winter time, he regrows all his hair, his skin clears up and he looks like a normal dog once again. Outside of spending hundreds of dollars for testing and more medications that may or may not help,( which I was prepared to do), we were posed to spend yet another miserable summer. A few months ago a veterinarian brought his goat here to be bred. We chatted about his problems and he felt he could help. Today I journeyed to Kings Mountain to meet with a this veterinarian. He is a holistic vet, though able to dispense drugs he prefers to take the more natural route first. We are going to try using homeopathy for the allergies and supplements to boost the immune system. It made perfect sense to me. How did he decide what he was allergic to? Through muscle testing. Quite an interesting visit! We came home with a concoction mixed especially for him that included allergens to grasses, trees in this area and pollen. Things may need to be tweaked but this is a start and I am hopeful. I will keep you posted!
Being that Kings Mountain is an hour away, a good chunk of my day was taken and once home it was time to jump on chores. Today was warmer so it wasn't bad being outside and I enjoyed the sunshine. I did manage to get a few weeds plucked out of the herb beds but much work remains to be done there. Ah well, another day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oh Yeah, It's Cold!

17 * this morning. The wind is still blowing, though not as hard as last night. Yesterday I kept thinking someone was at the door and each time it was the leaves tinking on the windows. It blew hard most of the night. Doug and I took turns putting wood on the fire in hopes of keeping the heat from clicking on too much. I swear one of these days that big wood furnace is going to appear outside and my dependence on the electric and gas companies will drop one more notch....
All was fine in the barnyard and chores were quickly done. Shovels were used to break the ice in the buckets. More hay was put out. Tonight promises to be quit cold once again and then things will level out and be more normal.
I called to see how the greenhouse fared and was thrilled to hear our heating plan had worked and the temperature in there was  47* this morning! Not one seedling was lost. Ya-hoo!
Since it was really too cold to do much outside it was a good day to keep the fire stoked and make soup. I decided it was a two soup day and made a pot of beef stew with dumplings and a Potato Florentine using potatoes from the basement and the spinach picked yesterday. Add to that some sourdough bread and a feast ensued. All in all it was a quiet day on the farm.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

He's Here!

By he, I mean old man winter. He made his unwelcome appearance today in the form of frigid temps and cold winds. Our high for the day was this morning and the temperature dropped as the day went on.By 10 a.m. the winds had already started to howl. Leaving the kitchen in a mess, I decided to get all the outside chores done as early as possible.
There would not be much thawing in the next day or two so my first chore was to fill all the water buckets completely full and drain the hoses. Hay feeders were filled to capacity. One of the dairy does that looks close was moved to a stall with fresh bedding, just in case.
Once all the animals were taken care of, I went to the garden to pick greens to hold us over for the next few days. I knew the small amount of lettuce that has survived thus far would be gone with the 19* temps so I filled a bushel basket with that. I also picked several bags of kale and spinach. They will survive but not be happy for  a bit. Lastly I harvested carrots, lots of carrots! Almost 5 dozen were added to the pile of veggies. My fingers felt quit frozen by the time I was done. Hubby brought in a huge load of wood and we were glad to be finished outside. Tomorrow promises to be the same, it will be a good soup and fire day, but only after critters are tended, again!          

Friday, February 10, 2012

Signs of Spring?

I saw a robin this week, some say it is a sign of Spring.
However, I think it was just a tease. The weather is supposed to turn colder and the lows are going to drop into the low twenties. Fearing for our seedlings in the greenhouse, I delivered a burner that attaches to the top of a propane tank to my sister. We are planning to run it for the next few nights.
All of the seedlings look great and she has even transplanted cauliflower and tomatoes to the next size pot. The celery is coming along as well as the eggplant. Hopefully this cold snap will be short lived and the warmer days will return soon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bye-Bye Broccoli

Today my husband turned over one side of the garden. He also turned the broccoli. All of the broccoli. Not a piece of broccoli is to be found. Buried under 2 feet of soil. At first I seriously considered strangling him. After my sanity returned, I realized if I strangled him I would have to go pick up the round bales of hay and I really don't like pulling that flatbed trailer. I would also have to scrape the barn with the bobcat tomorrow. He was saved. Though I did explain to him that he would be broccoli- less for the next couple of months. Then I called my sister and asked when the next good planting day would be. Tomorrow. I will be there early with seeds in hand.