Winter solstice

Winter solstice

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Changes

          I haven't done much on the blog for the last several weeks. There are several reasons for that, one being the holidays and being so busy. But the main reason is that there have been alot of changes in my life lately. Change is good but change is also hard. I have had to take a real hard look at myself and there are some things there that I don't like. So, therefore, I need to change and with the Lord's help, I will. This blog will also change, because I am going to change. I need to concentrate on home and being here as much as I can. I need to follow Proverbs 31 as closely as I can. It is going to be my new recipe for life. It is my desire to not worry about a thing in the world and just concentrate on home. This farm means more than anything to me and it is my santuary.  I found an article written by J.R Miller and it really struck home. " A true home is one of the most sacred places. It is a resting place, at which close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toil of tomorrow. It is the place where love learns its lessons, where life is schooled into dicipline and strength, where character is molded.... Home is the true wife's kingdom. She may touch life outside in many ways, if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies. "  This is just a small part of what he wrote but it made me take a good look at myself and the kind of Godly woman and wife that I desire to be.
        On a much lighter note... winter is here and I am happy for the time of quiet that it brings. All is well in the barn, I am only milking one doe. They are due to freshen again in March. The pigs are fat and happy. Luke is doing great and I am getting around 20 eggs a day. The new spinning wheel is ordered and should be here next week. I am going to be adding some lambs in the spring. I have been knitting like crazy. I am working with some Alpaca yarn right now and love it. My husband told me not to get any wise ideas about adding an alpaca to the herd. Hope everyone is "wintering" well where ever you are.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Beavers Moon

        Thursday night was the full moon, however we were covered with clouds and a cold drizzly rain that had some snow in it. So, we didn't get to see the Beaver Moon the first night. The Farmers Almanac says it is called the Beavers Moon because the beaver is in full stride by November getting ready for winter. Also it is when trappers would set their traps to catch the beaver, so that they would have plenty of furs for the winter. We have a few beavers around here but not too many set traps any more. Last night was a crystal clear night and as I made my way to the barn to shut up the chickens, I could see the hill to the east was glowing as the moon rose behind it. Each tree was outlined by it. The stars were out in full force and I could see Orion to the south. When I opened the barn door, I could hear Luke nicker to me through the dark. I shut the chickens up and hurried back to the warmth of the house.  By the time we turned off the lights and headed to bed, the moon was up enough to shine through the windows of the farm house. It made patterns on the old wooden floors in each of the rooms. I had to go back out on the porch and take a peek at it. I remember as a little girl, my grandpa would go out each night and look at the stars and the moon. I would go with him and he would tell me the names of the constellations. It was always a nice quiet time with him and I learned to love the night sky from him. Last night as I gazed up at that huge full moon, I  know that my grandpa is up there too, with the Maker of that moon. I hurried back inside and snuggled under a down comforter. That Beaver Moon was stretched out on the bed and lit the room up like daylight. It kinda made me feel like my grandpa was shining down on me. Hope you are enjoying the full moon where ever you are.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Luke

      We have a new member in our family and his name is Luke. He is a 6 month old Halflinger. Yes, he is named after Luke in the Bible because Tim and Emilee were reading in Luke shortly before we got him. I had been pondering on many different horse names and had several in mind. However, Emilee took one look at him and promptly said, "His name is Luke". So, Luke it is. He has been here for two weeks now and he is well settled in. He has the sweet, gentle nature that Halflingers are noted for. He had never had grain before but it only took a few evening of watching everyone else eat their grain and he has figured it out. He now thinks grain is the most wonderful thing in the world and as soon as he hears the screen door slam on the back porch, he starts to whinny and carry on. All day long... Years ago Tim and I had several head of horses and the girls always had horses but we had sold our last one over 7 years ago. We both missed having a horse on the farm. So we decided to start back small. One that we can work as well as ride. I had forgotten how nice it is to bury your nose in a horses mane. I love the smell of a horse and I love to kiss their noses.  (Those of you who are horse lovers know what I am talking about.) You know the old saying, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man" I agree whole heartedly. I am very glad that we have Luke and I hope he stays with us for many years to come.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Beautiful Sunshine

       The Lord has truly blessed us with some unbelievable days lately. Does it feel like November?? It sure does at 5:00 am! This morning it was 17 degrees when I did the milking. But the sun has been shining brightly and the days have been warmimg up to the 60 or 70s. The whole farm was white with frost this morning but as soon as the sun makes it over the hill, it starts to melt that old frost away. The animals stand broadside to the sun on these frosty mornings. You can see the steam start to rise from them as the sun warms them too. The chickens head for the manure pile at first light. Imagine burying your cold toes in that toasty warm pile, plus there's lots of worms too. It's the best of all worlds.
       We are enjoying our newest member of the family. We have had our halflinger colt, Luke, for over a week now and he has settled in quickly. He has gotten used to having chickens, guineas, piggies, cats, dogs and baby goats all around his feet. He is so calm and sweet tempered. We just love him. Tim trimmed his feet yesterday afternoon for the first time. He stood really well, considering it was his first go at it. I can't wait to hitch him up and have him pull us around. Of course, that will be quite a while yet.
       The buck is out and the girls have all settled down. I think everyone got bred and we should be having babies in March. This is much later than usual for us but I hope it is warmer than January. Squeak and Grunt are growing like little pigs should. They go out to pasture with all the goats and it is so funny to see them on the hill, rooting around. Tim has hauled all kinds of manure on the garden and sometime this week, he will turn it over with the plows to open the ground for winter.
       I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful time of year where ever you are. And I hope the sun is shining for you too.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Settling In

             It is the time of year when my heart loves to be in by the fire, knitting or quilting. The garden is done and the goats have been turned in to clean it up. The Angoras have all been sheared and I have piles of fleece that need to be washed. The pond is quiet and we've had a frost so the flowers are gone. The leaves have turned and put on a beautiful show and now most of them have fallen. The tree branches stretch black and naked against a gray sky. I've watched the geese fly overhead, honking goodbye to me as they go.  Even the crickets haved quieted down.  I put up the hammock last week and all the furniture in the back yard is in the greenhouse for the winter. There's just not much to do outside, so my heart turns to inside work. Time to catch up on the things you never have time to do in the summer.
           All the animals are doing great. Fall baby goats are growing and getting ready to start weaning. The bottle baby pigs, Squeak and Grunt are thriving. They love to race around underneath goat hooves. I'm not sure but that they think they are goats. The new hens are giving us are plenty of fresh eggs now. I had so many, the other day, I made lemon curd... oh, it is divine on whole wheat toast in the morning. We are getting a halflinger colt tomorrow, so we are very excited about that. He is just 6 months old and I can't wait to start training him. I told Tim, we need to start looking for a sleigh. Of course, I just got the eye rolling again.  I am getting plenty of milk but most of it goes to baby goats and pigs. I will be glad to wean the babies so I can start making cheese again. We have a buck in with does right now so we will be getting March babies and so it all begins again.
            I hope all of you are enjoying this time of year, when life slows down. The Lord has blessed us so much again this year and I am so thankful to Him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The first day of Autumn

       I have mixed emotions about this day...I love fall and all that comes with it but I love summer too and hate to say goodbye. However, like it or not, the seasons change and I will embrace each one as they come my way.  Today, being the first day of fall  is one of the most beautiful times of year around here. West Virginia has 180 native hardwoods and they all turn a different color. We vary from the palest yellow to the deepest red to the fiery oranges and some even turn pink. I love them all but my favorite is the orange. The beginning of fall signals that feeling inside me to stay outside as long as I can. Knowing that snowy, cold days are ahead, days that are spent inside by the fire, I feel like I have to savour these warm sunny days. There is nothing better than a hike on the hill these days. I take the whole herd with me and they enjoy crunching the fallen leaves like Lays potato chips. I usually sit down on a fallen log and let the goats mingle around me. Sometimes I even doze off with the warm sunshine falling on me and when I wake up, I usually have a few of my four legged friends asleep beside me. They know what's ahead and they know also to cherish these warm fall days.
        We still have had so much rain that we haven't been able to dig potatoes yet. I hope they are alright, still buried deep in the garden. The garden is just about done now. We will turn the goats in to it in a week or so and let them clean it up. Boy, do they love that! The baby goats are doing great and growing fast. The piggies are growing too. They are up to 4 ounces a feeding now and they savour every drop of their goat milk. We will be castrating them next week...not looking forward to that, but it must be done. We are going to be doing our fall shearing tomorrow on the Angora goats. I need to be washing fleeces on these warm sunny days, instead of napping in the woods but I can't help myself.
       Well, I better get going. I have bread rising and I am going to pick up the knitting needles today...I hope you are enjoying your first fall day too....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall is in the air

      I know it has been awhile since I have written but in my defense, I warned you all that blogging for me should be a winter sport. I have canned and canned till the jars are all full. The pantry looks like it should this time of year. The only thing left to can is potatoes and we haven't been able to get them out of the ground due to all the rain we have been having. The leaves are just starting to turn and the high for today is 60, so fall feels like it is here. I had to close the windows for the first time in ages this morning.
      Since I have posted last, we have had 6 baby goats born. I had put one of the bucks in in April just to see if any of the girls would come in. Three does did and now we will have winter milk. Two of the Nubians freshened and one of the Angoras had twin does, our first "nugoras". They are adorable and so soft and sweet. Arwin, freshened on the eve of September 11th with 2 does and a buck, so in honor of that day, the buck is named Patriot and the does are Liberty and Justice, may we never forget.....
        Last Saturday, we went to Grantsville, Maryland to order our apples for apple butter from an Amish friend. While we were there, Emilee wanted to go to the livestock auction. This is never an good idea for us because we always come home with something. Emilee bid on a beautiful spotted Mini Lop bunny and got him. Then they brought in a box of two, fit in your hand tiny, baby pigs. So, of course, we came home with them also. They were only a day old so I have been bottle feeding them around the clock, along with 6 baby goats. We named them Grunt and Squeak. They are so cute and have so much personality. They already roll over for you to scratch their bellies. The new hens have started laying and we are enjoying lots of little pullets eggs. We have been getting some beautiful blue eggs from our new Americauna girls.
        We are getting ready for Apple Butter day on Oct 1st. I hope it is a good weather day. The Friday before will be spent making the apple sauce and we will start the fire that evening and then the apple sauce will go on the fire early Saturday morning. We usually try to have it on by 5 am and it is usually getting dark as we can it up. So if you are in the area, please stop by and help stir. I will be making a huge pot of vegetable soup and pepperoni rolls to munch on all day. If you stick around until canning time, we clean the pot with chunks of homemade bread, sopping up the left over apple butter. I can taste it already... Everyone is welcome, as long as you help stir :).  
       Well, it's a cool rainy day today so I am going to start a pot of chili. Have a wonderful day everyone.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dairy Day







Yesterday was our annual trip to Pricketts Fort, an 1770's example of what life was like on the frontier, to have Dairy Day. It is our day to shine and promote what we do with our dairy goats and why we do it. Despite the pouring rain, we still had over a hundred folks attend and ask many questions about our life. I started the day by churning butter in a wooden churn. I had so many people say that they would never have the patience to stand and churn for an hour and a half. We live in a fast food world where very few want to take the time to enjoy  the process of making their food. Then I was able to milk two of our does. Marshmallow and April Mae did very well with the crowd and the rain, and stood patiently. Not one person there when I was milking had ever seen it done before. This suprised me, something that I have done thousands of time without even thinking, and there was a crowd who had never seen it done before. Amazing.... Tim took lots of pictures so I could share them with you. I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Old Friends

We are in the midst of the canning season now. The green beans are all done and the tomatoes have come on by the bushel. It seems to take a little while to get into the rhythm of canning each year, but as I begin, I get to see all my old friends. First there are the huge aluminum pans that Tim and I bought years ago at a farm auction. Each one holds a half bushel and they are perfect for taking to the garden to pick in and for scalding tomatoes and for holding the scraps that go to the chicken coop. They are a little beat up and bent but I don't know how I ever got along without them. Then there is the giant big heavy black pot that if I fill it all the way to the top, I can get 12 quarts out of it. We found it at a flea market one morning. It doesn't have a lid and it has a ding in the side, but it has such a heavy bottom in it, you don't have to worry about things burning. I only paid a dollar for it and it has been well worth that dollar. Then there is my funnel. I bought it at a farm auction also. It is bent and has seen years of use. But it seems to have so much more character than a new one. I can't forget my big water bath canner. That canner and I have canned hundreds of jars together. And then there are my jars. Most of them were bought at flea markets and yard sales. They have been used over and over through the years and still look like new. I love my Strong Shouldered Atlas jars. Who knows how old they are and yet they still do the job perfectly. I like to think about all the things that have been canned in them and wonder, before they came to me, what was in them.  As I am writing this, a batch of chili tomatoes are bubbling away in the water bath. I love to open a jar of them when the snow is 2 feet deep and smell the wonderful spices that have been stewing away in the pantry all winter. They make a new batch of chili taste like it's 2 days old, just when it's starting to get good. Next will be salsa and then on to stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, ketchup and then the peppers start... But with each plink, as the lid seals itself on the kitchen counter, I am reminded how blessed we are to have a garden and to have a farm that we can live off of. God has so richly blessed our farm, I will never take that for granted. Hope you are busy canning in your neck of the woods.....Gotta go, the timers going off. Time to take out the jars....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dog Days

              We are now in the middle of the dog days. They are officially from July 3rd to Aug. 11th, but in our neck of the woods, we don't need a calendar to tell us. You can tell by the way the air smells in the evening, heady with all the scents of the flowers blooming. You can tell by the way the humidity hangs in the hollers in the early morning hours. You can tell by the millions of lightening bugs that fly in the twilight, lighting up the yard and the pasture like Christmas. You can tell by the frogs that are lazily croaking in the pond. You can tell by a  roll of thunder before you even get out of bed in the morning. You can tell by the fragrance that comes in the kitchen windows from the herb bed after a thunderstorm. You can tell by looking at the garden in the morning and every plant is covered with thousands of sparkling jewels. You can tell by the orb spiders web, which are also decorated with jewels up and down each strand. You can tell by the all the fairy lace in the grass in the morning, where the fairies had their party after you went to bed. You can tell by all the mushrooms and toadstools up in the deep woods, bright red and orange and white. You can tell by the turkey tail moss growing on the sides of the stumps. You can tell because there is always less milk in the bucket during dog days. You can tell because the chickens forage out in the pasture early, to catch their daily supply of bugs before it gets too hot. You can tell by opening the barn door to find kittens stretched out on the cool floor to take their naps. You can tell because the raspberries are done but the elderberries are just starting to turn purple. You can tell because there is a basket on the back porch that makes several trips to the garden each day. You can tell because we had our first tomato sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce grown in the garden. You can tell because we are eating zucchini 8 days a week, 4 meals a day. You can tell by the sound of the crickets and tree frogs that sing us to sleep each night. You can tell because the cicadas and katydids are already singing this morning. You can tell because it is heaven in our neck of the woods.......

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Picking berries...

           I love to pick berries. Some people hate it, my husband being one. But I love to stand there and be very quiet while you are picking. Of course, you hear the plink, plunk of each berry as it goes into the bucket but usually there are birds singing around you and the buzz of the bees as they try to steal the juice from the berries. My favorite spot to pick is on our creek bank. You have to stand in the water while you pick, so your feet are nice and cool while the rest of you is sweltering hot. The minnows are nibbling on your toes and you hope that a crawdad is not. The sun beats down on your head and the sweat runs in your eyes but I love every minute in it. I like to imagine myself biting into a hot bisquit with black raspberry jam on it while the snow is pouring down outside my window in January.  Thinking this way helps to keep me cool and it reminds me why I am doing this. When I was picking the other day, a movement caught my eye, about 6 inches from me was a tiny nest suspended between two pokeberry stalks. I had disturbed the mama bird and she hopped out and ran along the ground. I peeked in the nest and there where four brown and blue speckled eggs. I'm not sure what kind of bird this is, but she has the most beautiful little basket hidden right in our berry patch with some very precious cargo inside. You just never know what you will find when you are out in this creation that God has made for us. We have lots of berry bushes on the hill, up in the woods. Tim won't let me go up there by myself because of the bears we have. So then he has to go and it's just not the same, because he hates it so and then I have to listen to him...... Just between me and you, I would love to see a bear in our berry patch and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't eat me. I just can't convince Tim of this. So in the meantime I pick berrries close to the house and away from the bears. I take my blessings where I can get them... Happy July everyone!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summertime

           I have decided that summer is my favorite season. I might change that in the fall, I'll let you know. We have settled in to our warm days and thunderstormy afternoons. I love it! The garden is growing by leaps and bounds. I have been picking black raspberries and freezing them. We have a lot of them that grow on our creek (in West Virginia it is refered to as "crik") bank. I had to wade out in the water and trim some crab apples and russian sage back so we could walk down through the water to get to the berries. The fattest and juiciest ones are always right on the bank. It won't be long and I'll have enough for a cobbler. Tim put me in a berry patch in the back yard. I have red raspberries in it. I love the flavor of the red raspberries but don't have enough of them yet to do anything with. It could be because when he mows the yard, every time he goes by the berry patch, he grabs a handful. We have been eating lettuce and onions from the garden and we have peppers and tomatoes set now. Won't be long and we will have zucchinin too.
           The kittens have taken over the milk room and the barn. They are officially barn cats now and loving it. They have had to have a lesson on the milk stanchion though. They love to romp and race and play in there but I cannot have them running up through a goats legs while I am trying to milk. Mostly because I love milk but prefer not to wear it. So, when they start coming up the ramp, I squirt them hard right in the face with milk. They hate it and run off but then they enjoy washing their faces off. They will learn like all the cats before them. They already line up waiting for their bowl of warm milk. One of my jobs for today is to whitewash the inside of the barn. I hope they stay out of the way or we will have whitewahed kittens. Well, better go start all my chores for the day. I hope you are enjoying your summertime....

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Rooster named Joanne....

      It was April, right before Easter, when we received our shipment of chicks. They were all settled in the brooder and doing fine, when Tim came home one day with a small yellow chick. I said " Why did you get this chick when we have a whole brooder full of chicks?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "A lady was selling them along side of the road and I just liked this one." Now mind you, I couldn't see anything special about this chick and had spent hours pouring over the hatchery catalog, choosing just the right ones to make my flock the way I wanted it. I always order all brown egg layers because my customers prefer the brown eggs. I told Tim, "It looks like a Leghorn and they lay white eggs. I don't want a white egg layer in the flock." Emilee was at the house when this all occured and of course she took "Pop-pop's" side and said it was the most beautiful chick she had ever seen. I could see I was fighting a losing battle, so in went the bright yellow chick with all my others. Over these last few weeks, I have been spending alot of time with the chicks. I love to go out in the evening and sit in the barn lot in front of the barn. The chicks, who now are small chickens, scratch  and peck in the grass, chase bugs and "talk" to me. That bright yellow chick soon turned to pure white, as I had predicted, but what I hadn't counted on, was the tall red comb that started to grow on top of it's head. I didn't need to worry about getting white eggs because I could see that this chicken would never lay an egg. I told Emilee, "That chick that Pop-pop brought home is a rooster. What are you going to name him?" She thought for a long time and then she said, "You know Grammy, he is so beautiful, he needs a special name. I will call him Joanne because I love that name." She completely caught me off guard... "You can't name a rooster, Joanne!!!" But Joanne it is. I had ordered a Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster with the chicks and I named him Chantecleer after the rooster in Canterbury Tales. I have been waiting to see which one would crow first. Yesterday we had a huge thunderstorm and I heard an awful sound coming from the barn. Dodging rain drops, I ran to the barn, only to see a little white rooster, "crowing" his heart out. Every time it would  thunder, he would crow. It would figure that he would start before mine...maybe it's all in the name.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Whipperwill was singing...

       I usually get up around 4:30 in the morning. Mostly because I have to get up that early to get my chores done but partly because I am a morning person and I love that time of day. This time of year it is so nice and cool and usually a little foggy. The lightning bugs are still flitting around, even though the robins have started to sing their morning song. This morning as I went down the driveway to get the paper, I heard a familiar song up in the woods. The whipperwill was singing! Now some people would groan if they heard me say that because a whipperwill only sings at night and usually ALL night, the same song over and over...whipperwill, whipperwill, whipperwill..... and they don't sing quietly. They believe that God gave them that gift and they use it to the fullest. We have had them stand under the bedroom window and sing but both Tim and I are in the small group that love to hear them sing, so we just pull the covers over our heads and be thankful that we live where whipperwills still sing to us at night.
        We went up in the woods the other night to cut some small saplings down to make a roost for the new chickens. The sun was getting ready to set and we sat for a while on a log and watched the evening come in. Some day we would like to build a log cabin up there, so we always have a debate on just where it should be. Tim wants it up on the ridge so we have a view but I think it should be nestled down deep in a very wooded place, tucked in the trees. So until we can decide, the debate continues. When we came down with our poles, we built the roost. The chicks were scared to death of it at first but one of the Silverlaced Wyandottes jumped up on the first rung and that's all it took. Before long they were climbing all over it. This morning when I went in, about half of them were on the roost and the rest on the floor. It won't be long and they will all get the hang of it.     Romeo is now officially weaned from the bottle. Let me say right now that he is NOT happy about it. He stand at the gate and cries and cries. He is just sure that I have had a lapse of memory and just forgotten it. Every time I go out the back door, he reminds me.     Well, I better go, have lots to do today. Enjoy the day our Lord has given us....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Awww June

        June is one of my favorite months in West Virginia, (along with the eleven others)... June brings warms days and warm nights, mowing grass, lightening bugs, warm black raspberries, sun dried clothes on the line, the sweet smell of freshly mown hay, the woodlark singing from the edge of the woods...I could go on and on. The lightening bugs are now out by the droves. We have already had an evening of running like fools all over the yard catching them and putting them in a jar, to keep beside the bed all night. Emilee asked me, "Grammy, why do the lightening bugs not flash as much when they are in the jar?" So I answered, from across the yard, in the dark, "Would you want closed up in a jar, when you had all the beautiful night sky to fly in?" Silence from her side of the yard, then she asked, " What if I keep them for just a little while?" I responded, "A little while won't hurt..."  She woke me up at 3:00am so we could let them back out. We decided that they are much more beautiful out in the sky than in a jar. Just another lesson learned....
        We were able to get all our hay in already. I love to be in the hayfield, feeling the hot sun baking down on your head, picking up each bale to load on the truck, knowing that you will be able to feed your flocks when the snow is hip deep. I love to open each bale in the cold winter and you can close your eyes and smell that hot hay field. The barn smells like heaven too.(I guess not everyone would think that's what heaven would smell like but I do).... The garden is all in and growing like crazy. The lettuce and onions are just about ready to start munching on. The peppers and tomatoes are bloomimg, so won't be long and I can  have my first tomato sandwich. The berries are loaded with berries. The apple trees are covered too. The elderberries are just starting to open their beautiful blooms.  The best spot in the backyard right now is under the grape arbor. The grapes are in full bloom and the mock orange and honeysuckle are right next to the arbor and they are also in full bloom. The fragrance is almost more than you can stand but I love to go over and sit for a while or take a nap in the hammock, right beside the arbor.
         All the animals are doing great. Romeo is down to one bottle a day now. He will be 4 months old on the 11th. The grass is belly deep to the goats out in the pasture. The baby goats are getting hard to tell from the big goats.  The baby chickens look like little hens now and they are enjoying running out in the barn lot chasing bugs in the tall grass. My little rooster hasn't started to try to crow yet but I love it when they start. It is one of the funniest things to watch them learn. The kittens are just about ready to make a one way trip to the barn. They are chasing us all over the house now and it is just about time for them to find out what barn cats do. And that is NOT climbing curtains.... I hope you are enjoying your June where ever you are....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Reverence for Tradition

       I found this line while reading yesterday and it really jumped out at me because that sums up how Tim and I feel. A reverence for tradition, yes, this is why we do things the way we do. So many times I have had someone say, "Why would you do this or why would you make that, when you can just go to the store and buy it..." Now I have an answer. We love tradition. Whether it is the act of churning butter or quilting or forging something out of metal on a coal fired forge, tradition, that's the reason. If we don't carry on these traditions, they will be lost forever. When my girls were young, it was very important to me that they learn the simple acts of sewing, gardening, baking bread. So many young ladies do not know how to do these things today. Tim hopes to teach our grandsons how to forge and how to hunt. After all these years, now I have a simple answer to sum it all up....
      We are back to our lush green woods now, here in West Virginia. We have had so much rain but I am not complaining, it should be a great hay year. The potatoes, onions, lettuce, cabbage, fennel and kale are all in and thriving. The tomatoes are 2 feet tall in the greenhouse but they will go out on Memorial Day weekend. I will have to plant them deep because they got so tall this year. I saw our first lightening bugs a couple nights ago. The iris and rhododendrons are in full bloom. The wrens are nesting in their box and the mockingbird is singing ALL night long now, so he must have a nest close by. With him singing and the toads whirring and the frogs croaking, our nights are not very quiet! The bluebirds are building in their box by the garden. A box turtle stopped by for a visit the other day. The bees have swarmed twice now.  Our baby chicks now look like small chickens and the kittens are starting to play with each other. The raspberries and blackberries are all budded and should be bloomimg soon. Can't you just taste that blackberry cobbler with homemade goat milk ice cream? I sure can! I hope you are loving spring in your neck of the woods, I know I am.
    

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Catching Up

So much has happened since I wrote last.... The chicks arrived on Good Friday. Emilee was spending a couple of days with us, so I woke her as soon as I got the phone call from the post office. She bounded out of bed and hurried and got dressed. I had made a vow to myself to have one of the grandchildren with me to get the chicks this year because the last time I got them I was so sad. I was reminded of two little girls who used to go with me to the post office, arguing over who would be the one to hold that precious peeping box. There I was, going all by myself so I told myself, I would never do that again. It worked out that Emilee was here and I wish you could have seen her face. We knocked on the back door at our post office and in a few minutes you could hear the peeping getting closer and closer to the door. I thought she was going to bust, she was so excited. She giggled the whole way home. We got the chicks settled in on Friday and then on Saturday, the long awaited kittens arrived. Three beautiful babies, according to Em, the most beautiful kittens ever. Then we celebrated Easter and had a wonderful day. On Wednesday April 27th, my brother, Danny and his wife, Barbara and my sister, Linda arrived. Danny and Barbara stayed for 5 days and we had a wonderful time together (not long enough) but they needed to get back to work. Fortunately, Linda will be staying longer. We also celebrated my Mom's 89th birthday and Emilee's 7th birthday on April 30th. Again, we had a wonderful day together..... I'm trying to catch you up on all the happenings... The greenhouse is in full swing, the lilacs are in full bloom, the grass is growing like crazy, the chicks are outgrowing the brooder, the kittens eyes opened yesterday, the dogwoods are opening, the morels are thick this year.... are you caught up yet ? I hope so, because I have to go. I have a carrot cake in the oven and the timer is going off. Enjoy this wonderful spring...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rain, rain and more rain

I am sorry that I haven't been writing my blog lately but I am beginning to think that blogging might be a winter sport, for me anyway. We have been so busy here on the farm getting in the spring swing. I was able to get all 3 of the koi ponds cleaned out and the pump in and the waterfalls started. They look so nice and I do love to hear the sound of the water comimg in our bedroom window at night. The greenhouse is in full swing now. Everything seems to be growing so well this year. We have had so much rain that we can't get the garden plowed. I keep a bag of potatoes in the milkroom to use as seed potatoes for the next year. Emilee and I checked on them and they have sprouted like crazy. They would love to be in the ground. But they are calling for more rain off and on all week so I can't see it being too soon. I hate to complain because we need the rain for our summer hay crop but I would like a little break, just so we can plow. The brooder is sitting ready and waiting for 31 little chicks to arrive on Wednesday. (30 pullets and one rooster) My goal for this week is to get the Angora rabbit sheared and the Angora goats. I want to get this all done before it gets too hot. Some might be wondering why the goats haven't been sheared yet but goats are sheared  spring and fall, so I wait a little longer in the spring so they don't have that heavy coat in August. We are still waiting for Emilee's cat Peek-a-boo to have her kittens. She is so excted for these kittens to get here. She was playing in the loft yesterday and found a dead rat that the barn cats had killed. She was appalled that we even had rats in the barn but now she sees how important the cats are. Anyway....everything seems to be growing like crazy with all of our rain. The pussywillows are done and the forsythia is fading. The ramps are up and Tim has had two messes of ramps. Gotta have your spring tonic.The coltsfoot is just about done and the trillium is just starting. The buckeyes I planted in the fall are up and I need to find homes for them. I am sure that the morels are ready too but I haven't made it into the woods yet to find them. The turkeys are gobbling morning and evening now. I love to hear them. The wrens came back on Saturday and they are busy checking out all the nesting boxes. They fill the backyard with their sweet song. They are one of my favorite birds. The bluebirds have been in their boxes too. The barn swallows are not back yet but I have been keeping one of the doors open just in case. I love to watch them swoop out of the barn and fly over the garden in the evening, catching all kinds of bugs. The bats are back in the bat house now. (Yes, we have a bathouse) They are very important for insect control. The bees are working in between rain drops, collecting nectar and pollen from all the trees that are bloomimg. They are so happy that there is something beside the crocus to work on.  I'll try to do better on keeping my blog but I would just rather be outside this time of year. How can I be inside when all this is happening ???  Hope everyone has a beautiful day.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good-bye March

I'm not really sad to see it go and even though it's not going out like a lion, I would say it's more like a large cat... But at least we haven't gotten all the snow our northern nieghbors are getting. This morning, I checked the thermometer as I went out to milk...34 degrees. I could hear one lone peeper in the bottom, trying his best to keep a positive attitude. Next week is supposed to be warmer. I hope so because I am going to open the green house and get the rest of the seeds started. I am glad we haven't done that yet because we would have had to run the heater day and night to keep it warm. Ususally our days are warm enough that we only have to heat it at night. It can be in the 30's outside but as long as the sun is shining, the greenhouse warms up nicely. I can't wait to start. I love to go in there and smell the fresh soil and listen to all the plants growing. We  keep a chair in there just for that purpose...it's very good for the soul..... In the last week, I have only thrown hay down one time. The goats are out on the hill before it even gets light. They are so anxious to get the new grass. Romeo is growing up quickly but he still likes to be cuddled every morning after his bottle. He now goes out with all the other goats and plays with Blackberry, Apple Annie and Lilac. He still prefers the company of humans but he is learning to be a goat. I hope it warms up soon becase the Angora rabbit is in desperate need of a shearing. She looks like a giant slipper, her hair is so long. I got an e-mail telling me the chicks will be delivered on April 20th. The brooder is ready and waiting but I do need to buy a bag of chick starter. Emilee's cat, Peek-a-boo, is due to have kittens in a couple of weeks and Em is so excited. She says we need to "re-populate" (her own words) the cats in the barn. We only have two and she says we need more to keep the mice away. Hopefully Peek-a-boo doesn't have too many because I can't see us getting rid of any of them. I don't know where Em gets her craziness for animals.... ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's not over yet..

We have been blessed with several beautiful Spring days lately. The sun has shown brightly and then in true Spring fashion, the next time you look out, it will be raining. We have had some wonderful rainbows to admire too. But this morning, as I came out of the barn with a bucketful of warm milk, I was smacked in the face with a cold wind and snowflakes. Winter is not quite done yet. That's alright with me because it means I still have a few days left of sitting by the fire and knitting. I guess I have gotten this from my Mom but knitting is so relaxing to me. Sometimes I only get in two or three rows. When my youngest daughter called last night, she asked what I was doing and I said "knitting" and she said, "Alright, old woman"... I guess I am but I wouldn't change a thing. We were under a tornado watch yesterday and we had a doozy of a storm while I was doing the chores last night. Thankfully, no tornadoes here but one set down in Pa just north of us. It was as black as night at 5:00pm when it hit. And now this morning....snow. Those of you who know me, know that I love to try my hand at all kinds of things. I have decided next spring I am going to tap some of our sugar maples and make some maple syrup. I am going to spend the next year trying to gather up all the things I need. I already have a plan in my mind, so stay tuned for next year... I haven't told Tim yet but I can already see the "look" on his face. I have seen it hundreds of times. Oh well, I just can"t help myself.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring

We have had the most beautiful weather lately that I have been outside and haven't spent much time on the computer. I was able to get a batch of cottage cheese made yesterday and we had it with supper last night, with home canned peaches. It was delicious!! I have a batch of American cheese started this morning. After it goes in the cheese press, I am hoping to get back outside. I have been cleaning off flowerbeds and re-built a rock wall. I also was able to build our fire pit, after hauling 6 loads of rocks out of our creek. It came out so nice..I can't wait to have a fire in it. I moved Emilee's guinea pig back out to her outside pen so I could get the brooder ready for chicks. I ordered them last week but am waiting for an e-mail to tell me when they are coming. I got quite a variety this year, Aracaunas, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Red Stars and Buff Orpingtons. I have had all of these breeds before and know I love them all. I got all Golden Comets the last time and that is just way too boring for me, to have all the same kind. We will be opening the green house in a couple of weeks and starting the rest of our seedlings. (Tim and I already started all the peppers inside) Tim hauled loads and loads of manure and spread it on the garden last night. When it dries out, we will be ready to till. The wood frogs have moved into the koi ponds this year. They have never done that before and I love to hear them at night. We have had our bedroom window open at night lately. They make such funny noises, not a croak at all. It's more like quacks and chirps. They have laid masses of eggs in the ponds already. So it won't be long and we'll have tons of tadpoles. We have really enjoyed this weather but there is a huge snowstorm out West and heading our way. But at least we had a few days right??

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ordinary Things

I remember the day of September 11th like it was yesterday....I was in the middle of baking bread. I remember feeling guilty at doing such an ordinary thing at the same time that my fellow Americans were fighting for their lives. All I could do was pray. Here I am again, going about my normal life, doing my chores, working, all ordinary things. While across the world there are those who are fighting for their lives. The news was on the tv in the kitchen while I was straining the milk this morning and I could hear them say that another explosion had taken place at the nuclear power plant in Japan. How does it feel for those people, just wanting to do ordinary things, but yet they have a cloud of radiation hanging over their heads. Afraid to even take the ordinary breath. Afraid for their babies, animals and their own lives.... And again, all we can do is pray. Let's remember them today.....

Friday, March 11, 2011

Whirlwind

Yesterday was a whirlwind!!! My add came out in the paper and at 7:45 the phone began to ring. It was still ringing at 9:30 last night. By noon I had sold 8 and I sold the last 2 at 5:00. I can't believe how fast it went this year. I kept back 2 of this years babies but I sold 2 of the older does, so I stayed at the same number. Plus I have my Angoras. Now I have enough money to buy the spinning wheel I have had my eye on. Of course, the Lord will get His share because without Him I would be nothing. He has blessed our farm so much. I got an e-mail yesterday from a good friend, it was quoting John Hagee on how prophecy is being fullfilled at a rapid rate. We can see all the signs that time is short. Jesus said "When you see these signs, lift up your head and rejoice. Your redemption draweth nigh." John Hagee ended the article with "Pray up! Pack up! We're going up....and very soon." Pray for all those who are not saved.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March comes in like a lion and another lion and another lion.....

March is so fickle...she really likes to play with you. When I went out to do the milking and all the morning chores on Saturday, the wood frogs were quacking and the peepers were peeping and I could feel spring in the air. It rained all day but stayed warm. By Sunday morning it had turned to a heavy, wet snow and by the afternoon all the little frogs were covered with a blanket of white. I'm sure they don't mind as they bury themselves back down in their mud, but it sure was nice to hear them. We had sunshine on Monday to melt all the snow. Yesterday was cloudy but warm. I was able to get some burning done last night after chores. There was just a little sliver of moon up in the western sky and it was a really nice evening. It poured the rain all night and we are back in a flood watch for today and tomorrow...... All the baby goats are down to a half a bottle now and we finally have some milk for the house. Goats and lambs are at an all time high right now, so hopefully I will be able to get a good price for this years babies. I have most of them sold already and I got a great price so hopefully that continues. With gas prices what they are, grain is going to go up, so now is the time to sell. We will be shearing the Angoras in 3 weeks so I will have to be spending alot of time washing mohair. Romeo, by the way, is flourishing. He plays with all the other babies now and when they go out on the hill and into the woods, he is usually in the lead. Nobody told him he is smaller than everybody else. He thinks he is the king. I just love him!! Enjoy this March day....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The birds are singing

I can feel Ol' Man Winter losing his grip. He tries all he can but the birds know better. It is 17 degrees this morning and the birds are singing like it was 60. They know that he can't hang on forever. Some of my friends have heard spring peepers but our "holler" is a deep and cold one and they haven't started to wake up yet here. They are calling for 60 degrees on Saturday with rain so that should get them going. I hope so. It won't be long and I can start weaning the baby goats. Some people in the goat world think you should bottle feed until 3-4 months but I have tried it both ways and have found that those babies that I wean at 2 months grow out better. Ours are eating hay and grain so well I could probably wean them now and they would be fine but I will give them 2 months. All but Romeo, he might get his bottle a little bit longer.:) He is so spoiled but he's the baby, so you'll have that. When I wean the babies, then we can start having farmers cheese and cottage cheese and ice cream and chevre and I could go on and on but you get the picture. We are planning a trip in April to see if we can buy some pigs from the Amish. We have several Amish friends that raise them, so hopefully we will be able to get some this year. Enjoy the day, it is a gift from God.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bye-Bye February

Well, I do love saying goodbye to the month of February. I know we have a couple days left but I can see the light of March.  I love March...it brings the sound of croaking wood frogs (which sound more like a flock of quacking mallards), breezy cold days, crocuses, snow showers, rain showers, sunshine (all in the same day), birds singing, robins in the yard and on warm sunny days, the first coltsfoot will show up over on the creek bank. AND my favorite part, if we have a really warm day, we will be serenaded at night by the beautiful sound of spring peepers. Tim knows that when the peepers start, no matter how cold the night, I have to have the bedroom window up a crack so I can hear them. Emilee and I (and her mother when she was a little girl) love to go out on a warm spring evening, armed with a flash light and try to find one. You have to be ever so quiet because they stop peeping if they hear you. We have some that stay in the honeysuckle vine out by the clothes line and we usually end up catching one, just to hold for a minute and then we put it back. They usually start back to peeping before you can get in the back door. So, yes, I am glad to see March come...... All the baby goats are doing great. They are eating hay and grain now and are chewing their cud. I think it is the funniest thing when they first start to chew their cud they chew 90 miles an hour. They look look a kid with a mouthful of bubble gum. As they get the hang of it they slow down, but for the first few weeks it is so funny to watch them. Romeo is growing too. He still isn't too keen on the whole barn thing but he will. He has been in the barn for 4 days now. When Marshmallow had her 3 does, Blackberry, Raspberry and Blueberry, the smallest one was Blueberry. She has always been smaller and quieter than her sisters. So she has been staying with Romeo. That gives him some company and she doesn't trample him like the other crowd. The sun is shining today and Tim went on the hill to look for deer antler sheds. Hope everyone has a wonderful day...Spring is closer than we think!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We feed each other...

When one writes a blog on the internet, open to the entire world to read, you are bound to come across those who don't agree with the lifestyle you have chosen. Most of the comments are positive and I love to read them but there are those that make me step back and think. One of those comments was something to the effect about butchering animals. Now, I do have sense enough to not post all the events that take place on this farm, but the fact is, yes, we do butcher some animals. We raise beef, goats, chickens, turkeys and pigs to be eaten, not just to look at. Also, we might as well get this out, YES, we do believe we have the right to bear arms! Here is how I feel about raising animals for us to eat. God provided those animals for that purpose. While they are here on the farm, they are taken the best care of that we know how. They are always fed properly and on time. When the time comes for them to be butchered, it is done swiftly, without any suffering. It is one of the main reasons we have a farm. So that we are as self sufficient as possible. To be able to provide for ourselves is very important to us. So it all comes back to the title of this blog...We feed each other... The chickens give us eggs and meat. The goats give us milk and meat. Even down to the bees. They pollinate the garden and give us honey. I was reminded again of this cycle when I fed the bees the other day. Late February is when you give the bees syrup water to stimulate them to make brood for the spring. As I put the feeder on the hive and the bees were swarming around me, I thought to myself...." we feed each other" It's a cycle that is constant around every farm. On our farm, twice a day, 365 days a year, animals are cared for and fed. I would like your feed back on this. Those who know me, also know that I love a good debate, so bring it on but let's keep it fair....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Romeo, Romeo....

What a beautiful day we had yesterday!!! It was 62 degrees around 2:00 in the afternoon so I took the goats for a walk on the hill. The birds were singing and the sun was shining. I took Romeo with me. He is still in the house but I think another week and he should be able to go to the barn. He is up to 5 pounds now. He has more than doubled his birth weight. He now races through the house doing flips and jumps all the way. What a difference a week can make. He is not getting a bottle at night now but I can hear him come into our room during the night. I stay very still and don't make a noise and he goes back out by the fire. I have to get him to the barn before he figures out how to jump on the bed. My husband is very tolerant of the animals but a goat on the bed might send him over the edge..... It was so warm this morning that I did all the milking and the bottle feeding in a T-shirt. Cold weather is on it's way back but it was nice for the little break. This February has not been as bad as some we've had.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Miss Lily, Lilac and Romeo

Those of you who read my blog, know from an earlier posting that I was planning on getting some Angora goats this spring. I am planning on spinning the mohair to knit and crochet. Anyway on Friday, I had all intentions of  spending the day knitting when the phone rang first thing. A breeder that I had been in contact with, said they had a baby goat born Friday night. The mother would not take him and was very small, premature and weak. They said I could have him if I wanted to try to save him. So within a half hour I was on my way to Charleston. Mandi met me in Clarksburg and we headed down the interstate. We found the farm without any problem and they brought the baby out. He was VERY small and was not able to stand but I could tell he had a will to fight. The breeder then asked Mandi and I if we would like to go out to the barn and see the rest of the herd. BIG MISTAKE....on our way to the barn he told us he was selling the whole herd and getting cattle. I knew what that meant.... we ended up coming home with 3. I bought a beautiful doe named Lily and she had a gorgeous little gray doe kid that was 3 days old. I named her Lilac. We loaded up and got back on the road. When I got home, I put Lily and Lilac in the barn and took the tiny baby to the house. I weighed him and he was 1 pound 14 ounces. I diluted the rich nubian milk (I was afraid it would be too rich for his little belly) and I started feeding him. At first he would only drink a half ounce at a time, but he was standing in no time and now he is walking around. Still very weak but getting stronger by the minute. I fed him every 3 hours during the night and now he is up to 3 ounces a feeding. He spent the night in a laundry basket in front of the fire. I weighed him this afternoon and he now weighs 2 pounds. Emilee named him Romeo because he was "almost a Valentine baby." So the angora herd has been started all in a day and Tim is off the hook because he says they are my Valentine present. That's good for me...it's just what I wanted!!! And it got him out of shopping :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

First Day Out

I have been so busy, I haven't been able to post anything. Last Friday, I was able to let the babies outside for the first time. I waited until the temp was 40 degrees and then I opened their door. They were very hesitant at first but finally ventured out into the sunshine. I once had an old dairy farmer tell me, the best thing you can give your babies is sunshine and I believe him. Out in the barnlot in front of the barn, Tim takes all the manure and hay and with the tractor, piles it into a big mound. Then in the spring we spread it on the garden or we have people who bring trucks and they back up to the pile and Tim scoops it up for them to take home for their gardens. Anyway, Emilee has named this pile, Goat Poop Mountain. She and Trevor love to climb to the top and run down. Well, it didn't take long for the babies to find Goat Poop Mountain and they had a blast running up and down and playing "king of the mountain". They were out there for several hours that day until they wore themselves out. It sure was nice to feed that night because they were so calm, compared to usual. Since then it has been too cold to let them outside again, so they have entertained themselves with running laps through the barn and leaping off the walls and hay mangers and anything else they can climb on. The weather is supposed to get warmer, so hopefully they can get out again soon..... Other than that, things are going along smoothly. Seed orders have been finalized and mailed. I'm still deciding on which chicks to order and I need to make up my mind. I was very happy with the Golden Comets the first year but very disappointed the second year. I guess if you want to replace your chickens every year they would be alright but I like to get 2 years out of a hen. So I will try something new this year. I have soup beans on for supper, so I will have a happy husband tonight, they are his favorite. I will grind some corn later for cornbread and fry some potatoes too. Hope everyone has a great day...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wanna watch a rodeo??

I suppose if someone were to put a camera in our barn and take videos of the rodeo I go through morning and night, you would get some laughs. First of all, the baby goats are in a 5x10 foot pen at night. Why? You try to do all the chores with 36 feet under yours! They HAVE to be right under your feet. So, that being understood, now imagine trying to get out two babies at a time to bottle feed them. When you open the gate, the whole thundering herd rolls out. And so begins the rodeo... One squeezes out, but it will be one you've already fed, so back in and you try another one. Some times you get one, the next time four will make it out. Once you've finally gotten the two you were after, you take them into the milkroom where there is a bench to sit on. A bottlle in each hand and we start. Every once in a while, you will get one to latch on and suck, but then you have one who will drink for 10 seconds and then have to run up the stanchion ramp, do a 360 flip and then shoot back down the  ramp for another suck at the bottle. It would try the patience of Job!!! Finally, you get down the 24 ounces and their little bellies are full. Now back to the pen to put those two back in and get out two new ones. And so it begins again...This morning, Raspberry made it out at least 20 times and she had her bottle first! Evidently, she had forgotten that she had already eaten. So now you have a small idea of what I'm doing at 5 in the morning, for an hour and a half and then again 12 hours later. Anytime you want to come help, the barn door is open.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day

As I headed to the barn this morning at 5 am, I looked to the east, as I always do. Old French Creek Freddie will certainly see his shadow today. I could already see the beginning of a beautifu; sunrise and the stars were twinkling brightly in the rest of the sky. Our babies are growing quickly and getting very active. Yesterday, little Rhubarb somehow squeezed through a crack by the door and was stuck in the milkroom when I got home from work last night. She didn't have enough sense to get herself back out. She had almost no voice left and this morning, she is down to a squeak. Hopefully she doesn't do the same today. I wish you could see them run laps through the barn after they have all had their bottles. It is a riot to watch. As many times as I've seen it, I still never get tired of watching them. I thanked the Lord this morning for healthy babies and happy mamas that are milking well. Hope everyone has a great day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Surprise, surprise...

I got a surprise when I went to the barn this morning. I checked on the babies first and they were all fine and starving as usual. Then I started to fill feed pans with grain for the adult goats. When I got to Arwin's pen, there was a baby goat in there with her. If you remember, from an earlier post, I was disappointed that Arwin didn't catch. She had no udder and showed no sign of labor last night. Just about the time I think I've seen it all, something like this happens. I took the baby from her and got her under the heat lamps with the other babies. She was very cold. Then I got Arwin on the stanchion and milked her. Very little colosterum... Each doe, after they freshen gets a bucket of warm molassas water, so I went to the house and got that for her. I have had her on the stanchion twice this morning, trying to stimulate milk production. She has freshened 4 other times and always been such a good milker, I just don't understand what happened this time. Hopefully her milk will come in. So now I have another mouth to feed. I just hope I have enough milk for them all.

Friday, January 28, 2011

January in almost over!!!

Where does the time go? The older I get, the faster it flies. All of our new babies are doing great and growing like weeds. They are up to 24 ounces at each feeding now. After I milk and I put all the adult does in the loafing area, which is on the other side of the barn, I can let the babies out of their pen. They love to run and jump and crow hop up and down the aisle of the barn. It is so funny to watch them. Those of you who read my blog will remember the hen who is now staying in the barn. She is not too fond of these rowdy babies who have invaded her space. She has taken to living in the barn just fine and she spends her days going from pen to pen, scratching the hay around, looking for some morsel the goats may have missed. Now she has these miniature "demon" goats who run up to her and try to jump on her. This morning she pecked Raspberry on the nose, boy was she surprised! It won't be long and the babies will be big enough to turn out with the adult goats and life will settle down again..... They are calling for a "clipper" to come through today and give us a little more snow. We are in the 2-4 inch range on the Weather Channel. At least we haven't had any more minus 10 nights lately, but February is on the horizon and typically it is our coldest month. But then comes March and it won't be long until we hear our spring peepers singing us to sleep at night. Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday when I milked and did the morning chores it was minus 5 degrees. This morning it was 30 degrees. That's a big change, but it felt good. Curly Sue freshened yesterday with a giant buck. He was in there like a cork and it took some serious pulling to get him out, but everything turned out alright. Now we are done with kidding and life is settling in to the normal routine. I'm back to washing bottles, nipples, buckets and the milk strainer twice a day. My hands, once again, have the familiar scent of Bag Balm. The does are getting used to getting up on the stanchion again. I decided to give my oldest doe, Tulip, a rest this year. She has freshened for the last 7 years and is my best milker. She loves to be milked and she is so mad at me! She cannot understand why some of the other does are getting all the attention. She won't have anything to do with me. Oh well... I'm very happy with our new crop of babies, 6 does and 2 bucks. I have been coming up with names. So far we have Dinah (she was born on my sister's birthday and that is her nickname). Marshmallow's triplets are Blueberry Frost, Blackberry Bramble and Ramblin' Raspberry. I still have to come up with names for April's babies. I don't name the buck kids, because they won't be staying. Tim doesn't know how I tell them apart, but when you are there when they are born and you inspect every inch of them, you know. They already  have their own personalities. Dinah and Raspberry are my most social. Blueberry is my quiet one. They will stay in the pen, under heat lamps for a week or so and then I turn them over to Teton. Poor Teton, all these girls to watch this year. Girls always get into more trouble...it's just our nature.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And then there were seven...

When we left for church this morning, I knew a couple of the does were getting close to delivering. Church went over a little today and we got home about a half hour later than usual. Instead of going to the house first, I ran to the barn. When I looked in, Marshmallow was in a corner pushing. I ran back to the house, stripped off my church clothes, threw on my coveralls and got back to the barn just in time... She delivered three does without a bit of problem. As I was cleaning them off and getting them under a heat lamp, I looked over at April Mae and she was pushing. A half hour later and she delivered two does. So we went from 2 to 7 really quick. Now all we have left is Curly Sue. I will have my work cut out for me, milking 3 does and bottle feeding 7. Once again, I thank the Lord for safe deliveries and healthy babies...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Beginnings

It was a cold world to come in to, but at 1:10 this morning, at minus 10 degrees, Velvet had her babies. I went to the barn at 11:30 to be with her. Both kids were born backwards, so it took longer. As I sat there with her waiting, I thought back of all the times I've done this before. Many cold nights spent waiting for a new life to be born. Our male Great Pyrenees, Teton, laid his giant head in my lap and waited with me. He is in charge of the babies. Shasta couldn't care less about them, but Teton loves the babies. We have two Australian Shepherds, who come to the barn with me when I do the chores. Teton tolerates them being there but now that there are babies, they will no longer be allowed. He is the boss and that is his job. I don't know what I would do without him. As each baby is born, I dry them off and then they go to Teton. He inspects each one, licks them thoroughly and then lies down beside them, covering them with his giant head. This morning, he got a little doe and a much bigger buck. He sighed a big sigh as if he knew that his work has begun again for another year. When they are small, his job is easy, but when they start romping and playing and running all over the pasture, his job is much more demanding..... I milked out Velvet, got lots of warm colosterum in each kid and then headed back to the house. When I stepped out of the barn, the moon was shining brightly. It was like daylight out, wiith the snow reflecting the moon light. I could hear the trees cracking and popping  because of the cold. The wet towels in my arms instantly froze stiff. I thanked the Lord for another safe delivery for both mama and babies. I am so grateful for the life I have, being able to hold each baby as they take their first breath, feeling each little heart beating against mine. Thank you Lord for allowing me to live this life....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day!

Well, we were dumped on  again through the night, about 5 inches. No school today! I shoveled a new path to the barn this morning. I love the snow..it makes everything so beautiful. Right now the thermometer says 14 degrees and the sun is shining. The dogs are sacked out in front  of the fire. They have been rompimg in the snow all morning. I ground enough wheat to make 4 loaves of bread first thing and now they are rising. I am going to make myself clean house before I sit down to the quilt. I may go back through seed catalogs today and finalize my orders. This year I am going to till up my herb bed and start new. The lemon balm has taken over and has crowded everything else out. I hardly had enough sage to even dry this year and the chives are getting crowded too. As soon as I can work the soil, out it comes. So I am ordering alot of new herb seed to start in the greenhouse. The Murray McMurray catalog came the other day and I am looking forward to going through it and picking out which chicks to order in the spring. I love to try new breeds and they have some different ones this year. Well, time to make a trip to the barn. Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An intruder in the milk room

I have decided that chickens are the meanest animals... For some reason our hens started picking on this one little red hen. She was hiding behind the water fountain in the hen house because every time she came out, the other hens would attack her. I felt sorry for her but I thought it would take care of itself, but it didn't. They had all her tail feathers pulled out and were starting on her back. She looked pitiful! A couple of days ago they ran her out of the house and out in the snow. There she stood, on one foot and then the other, trying to keep her feet from freezing. I could see blood on the snow from her back where they had pecked her.  I knew I couldn't leave her there, so I picked her up  (she was a rack of bones) and I took her to the milk room with me. I made a spot for her by the stanchion with some hay and put in some layer mash and water. She was starving! Now, the milk room is the hub of the barn. It is where the angora bunny stays and the cats have their food and milk bowl in there. You should have seen the cats peering down from their counter top. WHAT HAD I DONE?? Get that chicken out of there! The cats wouldn't eat for a day and the bunny would give a resounding thump with her back foot every time that hen moved. She wasn't wanted anywhere. Poor thing. Things have settled down now and the cats and Honeybun have gotten used to her. She clucks to me in chicken talk when I come in and she and I have great conversations while I'm in the barn. Last night she ventured out of the milk room and started scratching up and down the isle way, talking to the goats. Now they are looking at me like "get that chicken out of here!" Here we go again....Still waiting for babies. The does are moving slower and slower and udders are getting fuller and fuller. It's cold and cloudy today. They are calling for a big snow storm to come in tonight. Maybe we will get some babies tonight since they prefer to wait until the weather turns bad :) Have a great day...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The sun is shining!!

When I went to the barn this morning, it was 16 degrees. The stars were amazing. There was one in the east that was so bright, must be a planet, I need to look up and see which one. As I crunched down the path, through the snow, I looked over to the east. I always wonder if today will be the day we will here that trumpet calling us home. Still no babies, although I think Black Velvet will be the first. But they have a way of fooling me at times, so who knows. Still no udders on Beauty and Arwin, so they must not have caught. This means that only 4 does will freshen. I only bred half the herd to give some of them a rest. I am disappointed though that Beauty and Arwin won't freshen but 4 does will give us more milk than we can handle. I just wanted to see them both bred to this spotted buck. This will be the smallest amount of babies we have ever had. Last year we had 22. 13 were born in the big February blizzard. We had no power for 5 days and had to do the chores by lantern light. But we made it... I had to fill the mineral feeder this morning. They seem to go through more minerals  in the winter when they are not out on pasture. I started my ripple afghan last night and tore it up 3 times before I got it right. I knew my knitting needed some work! And I am making great progress on the quilt, if I keep at it, it should be done by spring. Today I have to make some lip balm with tea tree oil. I am out and have several customers asking for it. Plus I keep a tube in my pocket at work and I haven't had any for a week. Enjoy your day, it is a gift from God.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just Waiting

I checked the thermometer on the back porch as I headed to the barn this morning, 18 degrees. It felt much warmer than it has been, but it was pouring the snow down. Looks like we only got another inch during the night. I looked in on the chickens on my way to the barn. I would imagine they are getting "hen-house fever" since they haven't been out in days. They seemed to be fine, several of them were in the nesting boxes, getting their days work done. The goats were happy to see me, as they always are. I watched two of them last night on the cameras, as they are getting close to kidding. Tim built me a very nice bed in the milk room several years ago and I used to use it, but since we got the cameras, I can lay in bed and watch them until I think I need to head to the barn. The loafing area where they are during the day, doesn't have any cameras, so I make several trips during the day to check on them. I turned out the goats for the day, fed the angora bunny and the barn cats and came back to the house. I rolled some oats for breakfast and while they were cooking, I set out the sourdough starter, so it could be "working". I am going to bake some bread this afternoon. I sure can't wait for fresh milk, so I can make some butter to go with the bread. I can't stand to drink the store bought milk, but I did put a little bit on my oats, along with a big spoonful of our apple butter. I am going to start a ripple afghan today. I really need to brush up on my knitting. I am going to add a couple of Angora goats to the herd in the spring and along with my angora bunny, I will have plenty of fiber to spin and knit. So I need to start doing some more knitting.  I did get quite a bit of quilting done on the West Virginia quilt yesterday. I plan to spend several hours at it today also. Hope everyone enjoys the day that God has given us..

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Once again 'Ol Man Winter has visited us. I shoveled a path to the barn last night, only to have it buried this morning with drifts. I measured 12 inches on the picnic table in the back yard. Our does are heavy with kids and we are anxiously awaiting our new babies.  Shasta and Teton bounded out of the barn this morning, sending snow flying. They love the snow and don't even feel the cold! I am going to vaccinate all the does today with their CD&T's. I always do it on January 1st but somehow time has gotten away from me. Hooves are trimmed until after they freshen. It seems as if there is always something to do, but  that is how it is on a farm. As I am writing this, the snow is falling in giant flakes floating slowly to the ground. The wind has settled down for now, thank goodness. I think I will get some quilting done today.