Winter solstice

Winter solstice

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Weathering a hurricane

  Since I moved to West Virginia 20 years ago, I have seen lots of hurricanes blow through here. Usually they come up through the Gulf and by the time they make it all the way up here there are nothing but a rain storm. No big deal right? However Hurricane Sandy made a turn like no other and we got to experience one up close and personal. We were told to prepare for over a week, for power outages, strong winds, rain and snow. We had plenty of warning of what was ahead. Starting last Sunday it was like we have been living in a cloud. Dark, gloomy days with a cold rainy, mixed with snow, drizzle. We haven't seen the sun since last week. By Monday evening the wind started to pick up and when I did the chores that evening, you could sense that something was on it's way. I know my animals very well and they were restless and pacing. I had the hardest time getting the Pyrenees in the barn. They stood out in the pasture barking at the clouds and the wind and by now, a driving rain. The goats and sheep were more than happy to be in the barn. It took and hour and a half to round up every last animal. It sure did feel good to shut the barn door on that storm. As I did the evening milking, I could hear the wind howling and the rain beating on the barn. I was so thankful for a big, block barn that is large enough I can put everyone under one roof. When I was done and every last animal was bedded down and muching on hay, I shut the door soundly and headed for the house in the dark. Rain and leaves were pelting me all the way. When I got inside, the milk bucket was filled with leaves. We never lost power and were really spared compared to our neighbors just an hour from here. The mountains have feet of snow and no power. Still this morning as I write this, we continue to have this cold steady drizzle. It doesn't seem to want to leave. I will be glad to see the sun.
      On a lighter note, all this weather brings us inside, close to the warm hearth, where I have been spinning every chance I get. I learned a new technique of "thrumming" where you knit little pieces of warm fleece on the inside of your knitting, which makes a very warm and soft inside to mittens and slippers. I can't wait to try this. I am in the middle of plying a yarn, one strand of wool and one strand of mohair. This should be a very warm yarn and wear very well. I love pulling on a hat made from one of our sheep or goats' fiber. The yarn has has a name and a face to go with it. There just isn't anything like it.
     The does are winding down on milk production. Marshmallow has dried herself up and Arwin and April Mae are down to half of what they usually give me. Their bellies are getting round and they all have to be dried up by the end of this month, so they can have a break before freshening again at the end of January. I can't tell if Boaz has done his job with he ewes. He is so calm and so sweet. I hope he stays that way.  Well, better go and check on the pig. This is her first day out to run with the other animals. Hopefully she doesn't get in to too much trouble. Enjoy your first day of November!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rustling Corn Stalks

         Every night for the last 20 years, I have a ritual of going out to the barn one last time for the day and checking on all the animals before we go to bed. I like to take my time during this "walk", if I can. I peek in on the goats, who now usually have a few call ducks tucked up next to them. I just quietly take a peek because if you talk to them they get up and start carrying on. (Which really disturbs a nice warm duck that was bedded down for the night) I can't sneak in on the geese however, now matter how quiet I am. I can hear them from a dark corner of the barn, where they are nestled down in some warm hay, start a low little goose noise down in their throats. It is a sound they only use for me. They know I am there, they trust me and they want me to know that they know I am there. You can sneak up on a sleeping goat but never a sleeping goose. By that time I usually have some sheep around my legs. Each one gets a scratch around the ears and a kiss on the nose. The big barn door has what you call a "dutch door" so I usually keep the top open in the evening and then close it when I make this last round. Then I quietly close the chicken door for the night. Most evenings I have the two barn cats, "Trouble" and "Oreo" rubbing and winding in and out of my legs while I am trying to do all of this. I usually end up tripping over one of them. After all the barn doors are shut, then I make my way back to the house. Now that I have a little Border Collie on my heels, we have started taking the "long way". Which means we meander out through the yard. Last night we stood and listened to the breeze rustling the dried corn stalks. Nothing says "autumn" like a dried corn stalk. There was a quarter cresent moon shining over the garden and I could see the skeleton stalks in the moon light. Megg sat down at my feet and it was like she was listening too. We could hear it, she and I. We could hear the sounds of fall but somewhere in that cool breeze last night, I could feel what is coming behind fall. I am so thankful to live in a place with 4 beautiful seasons. I love each one and look forward to each one. Even the one hiding behind cool, fall evening breezes...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Boaz is here

         We had a beautiful day for our trip up into the mountains to pick out our new ram lamb, Boaz. Blue skies and puffy white clouds. As soon as we started to climb. you could see fall had already touched some of the trees. Every once in a while you would see one that was starting to turn the glorious colors of red, orange and yellow. When we made it to the top of Cheat Mountain, there was a beautiful red maple along the side of the road. It just gave us a taste of what is to come. Aurora is the most beautiful place I have ever seen and I want to go back in a couple of weeks when they are at their peak colors.
       Anita and Sharon had the 4 ram lambs in the barn waiting for us to choose. When we looked at their pictures, both Tim and I liked 1221 and it was the same in person. After we had chosen, Anita told me it was their pick too. That made me feel good because they have forgotten more than we know about sheep. We loaded him up and headed off the mountain, way too soon, I wish we could have stayed longer. When we got home, we called Esther, Naomi and Ruth off the hill and put them in the barn to meet their new husband. They started to talk to him, this low noise down deep in their throats. He wasn't impressed and went over to the hay feeder and started to eat. I am well aware that this will all change in the next few weeks to come. We are so excited for our first batch of lambs to come.
     If you click this link you can see Boaz as a baby and now. It made me cry when I first saw it. http://sheepsandpeepsfarm.blogspot.com/2012/09/meeting-boaz.html?spref=fb  He has grown into such a handsome ram and we love him already.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Boaz

        This Saturday is a day we have waited for all summer long. We are going to Aurora to pick up our ram. Our ewes are such a big part of our farm now, we can't wait for our first batch of lambs. If you click on this link,http://sheepsandpeepsfarm.blogspot.com/2012/09/searching-for-boaz.html you can read about our choices. So far Tim and I have picked the same one but we will wait until we see them in person. Which one do you think we should pick?
        Megg is amazing. She already knows how to sit, stay, lie down and shake. I have never had a puppy catch on so quickly. I guess that's why they are the most trainable breed. She has been working on herding our call ducks. She does very well at keeping them in a bunch. I read that ducks are a good animal to start them with. She keeps my Mom entertained during the day while we are at work. She is quite the star at out farm right now.
        We can feel fall in the air every day now. The nights are getting quieter as the crickets and the frogs are slowing down. Most of the canning is done. I still have some sloppy-joe tomatoes to can and this year I found a new recipe to can your own pork and beans, so am going to give that a whirl. Last Saturday was opening day of squirrel season. It poured the rain down all day, so Tim didn't get to hunt. Instead we headed up to the mountains and attended the West Virginia Fiber Festival. It was all held in a huge barn, so the rain didn't bother us at all. We spent the day talking with lots of fellow sheep breeders and Emilee and I got to take two classes. One was on felting soap and one was on needle felting. We loved it. They had classes all day, along with sheep shearing and other hands on events with sheep, angora goats, alpacas and llamas. It was a great day. It sure did make me ready to get the spinning wheel going.  I need to start washing fleeces too.  When the canning is done, it will be the first thing I do.
        Hopefully, this weekend we will find some time to get a little hunting done. These cool fall days sure do make me hungry for biscuits and squirrel gravy. How about you?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meet "That'll do Megg"

              Yes, here she is in all her Border Collie glory. She is a very small 7 week old little girl but she thinks she is all grown up and ready to take on the world. We picked her up in Charleston on Saturday and then spent the day at the Capitol. We had a great time and got some wonderful pictures. Megg took a nap under the giant oak trees out on the Capitol lawn. What a beautiful city Charleston is. We were glad to get her home and settled in though. She has adjusted to farm life quickly. She goes to the barn twice a day but she is not allowed to see the sheep yet. She is not old enough but she has gotten to see all the chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, goats and cats. We have started her with basic obedience training right now (sit, come, stay and lie down) Soon she will start learning her herding commands like, "away to me, come bye, walk up and that will do" She will know the meaning of all of those before she ever meets her first sheep. I can't wait to start really training her. For now I am just spoiling her rotten and enjoying her sweet "puppy breath" and her puppy kisses. I've waited a long time for this dog and I am going to enjoy every minute.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Finding the time..

        It has been so long since I have posted and it's not because I don't have something to say, it's because I can't find the time to write it down. I could never be a "professional blogger" that much is for certain. We have had such a busy summer. I have been feeling fall in the air for over a week now. It kind of makes me sad because I love summer so much. There are fewer lightening bugs at night now. But on the up side, the crickets have started to really sing to us. The pond is getting quiet, very few frogs croaking. The ironweed is is full bloom and the Joe Pye weed is fading. The whippoorwills are done singing at night. The leaves on the trees are starting to get that tired look. The fall grass has started to grow in the pasture. The does are starting to look for a buck. Everywhere you look, you can see fall coming.
       The garden has done very well this year. I started canning chili tomatoes last week and tomorrow I start spaghetti sauce. The basil has done amazing this year, so there will be lots of it in the sauce. We have been eating cantaloupe until we are just about tired of it. We have never grown such huge ones and so sweet!! The hot peppers are loaded too. We have been eating Silver Queen corn for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lettuce is done but the kale is getting huge. The potatoes are melt in your mouth delicious. The pole beans are 14 feet in the air. All in all, it has been a good garden year.
       All of the animals are doing well. We have fought some new battles with parasites in the goats this year, due to the mild winter. I have had to educate myself on the barber pole worm and have nearly lost some goats until I figured out what it was. There is always something new to learn in the animal world. I have become such a fan of the call ducks. They are so sweet and the cutest little things and so tame. My Sebastapol geese are beautiful now with their curly white feathers.
        Twenty years ago when I moved to this beautiful state, one of the things I said I wanted to have was a Border Collie. I have had all kinds of dogs in the past twenty years but never found a Border Collie. Last week I put a deposit on a four week old beautiful female. She is marked exactly like I had pictured her to look all these years. Perfect white blaze, white collar, four white feet and a white tip on her tail. She comes from champion herding lines and will be registered with the American Border Collie Association. I have always wondered what I would name her, if I ever got one and the name that I have decided on, is a name that is the most popular in England and Scotland. Over 13,000 female Border Collies have been named this since records have been kept. I figure if it's good enough for all those farmers out on the hills, dales and moors of Scotland, it's good enough for me. Can you guess what it is?
         Well. I better go shut the chickens up for the night. Hope you all are well and happy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The start of "dog days"

     Most people don't like the dog days of summer but I happen to be one of the crazy ones who do. The heat and humidity doesn't bother me and we don't have any air conditioning either. Our house has lots of trees around it and we open every window in the evening and let the cool air in and then shut it up tight during the day. We stay nice and cool.
     The Lord was certainly looking out for us through the big storm last week. We only lost one apple tree and lots of branches but compared to some, that was nothing. Tim has been out with the crews around the clock, doing tree clean up.
      All the farm animals are doing great. We did butcher the Freedom Ranger chickens last week and I would highly recommend them for meat birds. They didn't have the leg problems that the Cornish Cross did and the feed consumption was much less also. We butchered at 10 weeks and the average weight of a dressed bird was 5.5 pounds. That is the perfect size for us. They were also very easy to pluck and clean. All around, I was very pleased.
      All the baby goats have been sold and we kept back 3 doelings this year. I am milking 3 does and getting 2 1/2 gallons a day. We have been eating lots of cottage cheese and ice cream. I found a great recipe for an American cheese that doesn't have to age and we love it.
      The garden is thriving and we have tons of tomatoes coming on. Oh, I can hardly wait for that first tomato sandwich! We have been eating lettuce, onions and radishes until we are about tired of them. Some of our first squash will be ready this week. The herd bed is full of fresh basil, dill, parsley, sage, oregano and cilantro. Now, if I can just keep the cilantro from bolting until the tomatoes are ripe. The corn is taller than knee high on the 4th of July. Hopefully no storms knock it down this year.
      Our two Sebastapol geese are growing like mad. One is much larger than the other so hopefully we have a goose and a gander. We have named them Rhett and Scarlett. They are very tame and sleep in the barn with the sheep and goats every night.They spend their days floating in the shady water of the creek. The baby call ducks are almost feathered out but I haven't let them go down to the creek yet. They have their own little pool in their pen that they are enjoying swimming in.
      Well, I hope you are loving your dog days wherever you are. I know I am...
    

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sorry it has been so long..

   I know that it has been ages since I have posted but who has the time?? I keep getting more critters, which in turn makes for longer chore times and we had to get the garden in and now we are making hay and so on and so on. Ok, so here are the updates in as little detail as possible, but you know how I am....

1.   The garden is all in, all 200 tomato plants and 232 pepper plants, plus lettuce, onions, cilantro,
      cabbage, corn, watermelons, cucumbers, beets, pumpkins and who knows what else..

2.  The Freedom Rangers are growing like mad, in fact they should be ready to butcher next week.

3.  We are putting up our own hay for the first time ever. Tim is loving every minute of it.

4.  Shearing is done for the year. I have lots of beautiful fleeces to work on come winter.

5.  We now are the proud owners of two beautiful Sebastapol goslings. They are the sweetest things
     ever. They will climb right up in your lap. They do love however, the long ears of the Nubian goat
     and you should see how they snuggle up with the Pyrenees at night to sleep!!

6. We also have 3 Bourbon Red turket poults and 2 baby peachicks and 6 baby call ducks.

7.  I have two broody hens, one is setting on two peacock eggs and 6 guinea eggs and the other is on
     9 guinea eggs. A week and a half to go on those.

8.  One mama hen hatched out 4 little hens and they are so cute in the barn. One of them belongs to
      Joann the rooster. So she is, Joann Junior.

9.  The banty roosters have all started to crow. We have McTavish, the Mille Fleur and his two little
      wives, plus a Silver Seabright named Captain and a Golden Seabright.

10. We have a new rabbit that has no name because she is completely wild. She is not my favorite!!

       That's all I can think of right now and Tim just came up the driveway to get the baler which means I need to hurry and go milk so I can get to the hayfield. I promised the geese they could have a swim before chores. I have to sit on the creek bank or they won't stay in the water. They are very attached to me. I am the goose mama. They may have to wait until tomorrow for a swim. I'll be glad when they will go down to to the creek by themselves. I will try to write more later...you know the old saying "You gotta make hay while the sun shines"  See ya...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Whippoorwills and Fireflies

             Yes, they are both back on our farm and yes, I am very excited. Two of my favorite things are whippoorwills and fireflies. Although here in West Virginia, we call them lightening bugs. I have never seen them this early but I suppose with the crazy winter we had, they have decided to show up a couple weeks ahead of time. I heard a whippoorwill on the opposite hill from our farm last night when I went out for my nightly stroll of shutting up chickens and the greenhouse. It didn't take long and one started to answer from our woods. I just stood there and listened and while I did, I saw a flash go by me and then I realized the  lightening bugs were back too. The moon was blazing in the sky and I didn't need a light. This Saturday we are having what they are calling a "Super Moon" however the Almanac calls it the Full Flower Moon. Whatever you want to call it, I plan on being outside to take it all in. 
           The baby goats are growing quickly and are just about to be weaned, which means we can make a trip to the livestock sale and get some pigs. The Freedom Rangers are amazing. I think you could see them grow right before your eyes. They will have to come out of the brooder this weekend. We are also planning on shearing the sheep and the angoras on Saturday. The bluebird boxes are full and the robins and the catbirds are setting on their nests. The phoebe is starting to build a nest on one of the rafters in the barn but I haven't see a barn swallow yet. I will be watching for their return. I love to hear them chatter to me while I milk. 
           I feel so fortunate to be able to experience all this beauty that God has given us. Can you only imagine what heaven will be like?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Freedom Rangers are coming!!

        Yes, they are. They shipped out yesterday and will be here  tomorrow. What is a Freedom Ranger, you ask? You can go to their webite here, http://www.freedomrangerhatchery.com/ In our ongoing search to be more self sustainable, I found these chickens through a fellow blogger. They are a meat bird, bred to be raised in a free range environment. This is perfect for us. An added bonus, is that you can butcher as they get big enough. A few here and there. We usually raise the Cornish Rock X, which is a great meat bird but grows so fast and they all seem to be ready at the same time. It is a daunting task when you have to butcher 25 birds in one day. This is my first time with these kind of birds, so I will keep you posted on how things go. 
        My new chicks have outgrown the brooder, with the exception of the bantys, and are in a pen in the milk room. So they keep me company while I milk. The Black Giants are already getting so big. I left the bantys in another pen on the other side of the barn. Some of them are so tiny yet, although they are all feathered out. I have three Mille Fleur banty chicks. The name means in French "Thousand Flowers" due to their beautiful plumage. They are known to be the friendliest of the bantys. They are already so funny to watch. This morning while I was milking, I heard this strange sound coming from the other sound of the barn. I stopped my milking and listened.....nothing. So I continued on, then I heard it again. It sounded like someone was stepping on one of the barn cats. Then it dawned on me that I was hearing right after Chantecler crowed. It was one of the banty roosters crowing for the first time. Boy, does he need some work!
         The new sheep have fit in perfectly. I would like to get some more. They are so nice and quiet compared to the very vocal Nubian. I am still missing Tulip so much and I guess I always will. All our baby goats are growing nicely and are starting to eat grain now. I am bottle feeding seven, which takes three gallons of milk a day to do. I will be glad to get them weaned so we can get some pigs. The greenhouse is full to the brim with all our vegetables and flowers. The garden is plowed and tilled and ready to plant. We need to get the potatoes in.
       I have cottage cheese on the stove and it is time to add the rennant, so I better go. I have to get the brooder ready for 25 baby chicks too. Busy day planned....talk to you later.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life continues on...

       It has been a while since I have posted on the blog, mostly because I didn't want to open up raw wounds. The last time I wrote about the exitement of kidding. I look forward to it every year and feeling those baby goats take their first breath in my hands never grows old. I was not prepared for the great sadness that has gone along with the happiness this year. Those of you who read this blog know that I had some reservations about Tulip catching and freshening this year. She turned eleven in February but was in such good health, I thought things would be fine. I was at work when her kids were born. I made it to the barn just in time to see the last one delivered. She was rather disgusted with me because she had never kidded without me, but I quickly got her milked out and fed her three beautiful babies, all of them spotted from head to toe. From that first evening she didn't act right. It was like she just gave up. She had no appetite and was very listless. I started antibiotics right away in case there was something going on I couldn't see. She had passed the afterbirths with no problem so I knew it wasn't that. There was no sign of mastitis. I honestly cannot tell you what happened but two days later at 1:00 am, she took her last breath in my arms. While she was dying, two pens away, Lilly was giving birth to twins. I thought to myself, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. " She was a wonderful goat and I miss her everyday. I thank God that she gave me a beautiful black and white spotted doe kid to carry on. None will ever take her place, she was one of a kind .
        On a much lighter note, we were able to head to Sharon and Anita's and pick up three beautiful lambs today. They were in the midst of their annual shearing, so we were able to watch and learn as the shearers made it look so easy. They have a wonderful farm on the top of Cheat Mountain. It was without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever been. All their sheep are gorgeous and I was able to bring home a Border Leicester fleece to spin. I cannot wait to start working with it. I named our three girls, Esther, Ruth and Naomi. They will be picking out a ram lamb for us this spring and I will be naming him Boaz. I am so excited to start this new part of our life. After we got the girls settled in their pen in the barn, I went back to the house to get my milk bucket and bottles. When I walked back in the barn, one of the sheep baa'd and I was so happy to hear that new sound in our barn.
        Two weeks ago, we brought home 5 Kiko goats for meat. Two does and three kids. They are all doing well and settled right in with the Nubians. They are very quiet goats and very docile also. All together we had 15 babies this year and other than Tulip, it went off without a hitch. I've already made our first batch of cottage cheese this year. I am so grateful to have our wonderful goat milk again.
       So life continues on... we are very busy with all of our newcomers. I thank God for all the blessings He has given us. Oh, I forgot to tell you the brooder has a bunch of new chicks in it and some of the sweetest little banty chicks you have ever seen.
      Sometimes I go to Tulip's grave and just sit and wish I could see her just one more time but I am so grateful for the wonderful years we had together. I was up there the other day, missing her and I felt something pulling on my braid. I turned around and there was little Aurora peeking at me and for a second I could see her mama's twinkle in her eye.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Wood Frogs are singing

    Friday evening brought us some more thunderstorms. Nothing like Wednesdays storms, just lots of lightening, thunder and plenty of rain. After it had passed, I went out the back door to close up the chickens and I was met by a chorus of quacking ducks in the koi ponds. I knew it was the wood frogs, but they do sound like ducks. It was too dark to see how many but they were pretty loud. They sang to us all night long. By morning, it seems they had called all their friends out of the woods and I counted somewhere between 20 or 30. They were in all 3 ponds and they were singing their little frog hearts out. They will lay their masses of eggs in the ponds and then go back up into the woods. When the tadpoles sprout legs, they leave and then I never see them all summer. I assume they return to the woods.
    Just as I am typing this post, the snow has started to fall outside the window. The frogs are quiet this morning but the snow doesn't bother them. I have seen their eggs freeze in the pond and then they thaw out and go right ahead and hatch. Just another one of God's miracles.
     The lights and cameras are set up in the barn, so we can watch the does at night. It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday, although a bit breezy. The goats and I took a walk on the hill. Tulip, who turned eleven last month, chose to stay by me and take a nap in the sunshine, while the others ran and hopped and played. I sat beside her and I could see little hooves kicking her side as she tried to sleep. She and I have had a lot of good years together and I hate to see her age and slow down. I am a little worried about her, although she has never had any trouble freshening before. Hopefully all will go well.
      I made a batch of strawberry jam yesterday and I am going to go enjoy some on some freshly ground wheat toast. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What a Leap !

       Yesterday's Leap Day was one we won't soon forget. The day started cloudy and warm, very unlike February. By the time I had gotten to work, it had started to rain and rain it did. We had a break during the afternoon and then we really got it. Thunder, lightening and the whole nine yards. The old timers around here have a saying " Count the thunder claps in February and that is how many frosts you will have in May". I hope after yesterday, this is one time they are wrong..... I had to go through a lot of high water to get home but by the time I did, we were flooded. The whole back yard was under water. The creek that runs beside our house was roaring. Tim had all the ditches open as far as he could, it was just too much water. He had all the animals in the barn, so I waded across the field to my sisters house to check on her. She has to walk across a wooden bridge to get to her barn. The creek was over that bridge, which is about 4-5 feet above the water. She had to walk across the bottom and around to tend to her animals last night. I headed back home and went in the barn to check on our animals and I noticed the water had started to come in the door and had flooded 3 of the pens. The goats in those pens were about to have a heart attack (they hate water) So I quiickly got them out and then we were able to go outside and divert the water from the door. When I clean pens last week, I dumped the old hay outside the door and Tim hadn't moved it yet with the tractor. So all that hay didn't let the water drain down to the creek. What a mess but at least all the animals were alright. I took a head count on the chickens and it looked like they were all there, although they were a bedraggled bunch. I moved goats around so everyone was in dry pens and headed back to the house. By this time it was dark and had stopped raining. I stood in the dark and listened to the creek roar. It is amazing how quickly our little creek can change from a bubbling brook to a raging torrent. I could hear it roaring from my bed most of the night. This morning it is calming down and is back in it's banks. The song sparrows are singing loudly  "Maids, maids, maids, put on your tea kettle, ettle, ettle." They are our first birds to sing in the spring. I love to watch them sit on a fence post and just sing their hearts out. So life is calming down here on this first day of March, although a bit soggy. I had invisioned maybe putting out some onion sets soon but from the looks of the water standing in the garden , thats's probably not going to happen right away. I wonder....does the leap day count toward being the first day of March, so we can say it came in like a lion??

Friday, February 24, 2012

Getting Ready

        Yesterday was a beautiful day, perfect for barn work. It's hard to clean stalls when you have 50 some hooves under your feet every time you take a step. But with the warm weather and the sun shining, the animals spent most of the day on the hill and that allowed me to clear out the winter build up. The hay was so high in some of the stalls, I could barely open the gates. Now all is clean, with new straw spread down and not even a thank you from one of them. We still have a couple of weeks yet before the does start to freshen but I am ready. I need to do some straightening in the milk room and get the baby pen clean but that won't take long. We have decided tio purchase some Kiko goats to add to the herd. We tried some Boer goats years ago and they have so many problems, we sold them all. The Kiko's seem to be much hardier and we really want some meat goats, so will give them a try. I'll keep you posted.
       I noticed yesterday when I walked past the koi ponds that a lot of them were up at the surface getting some sunshine. The pussy willows are out and the crocus are blooming. After chores last night, Tim and I put pelleted lime on the garden and while we were out there, I went over to the bee hives and lifted the lids. Both hives lived through the winter. It is a little early to start feeding them, but it won't be long. The horseradish is up in the garden too. The birds are singing and I saw a blue bird in one of the nesting boxes. The peppers seeds are all started too.  There are signs of spring all over the farm. We haven't had much of a winter but I am still ready for spring. Oh, I know winter hasn't had it's last say  and I'm sure we will still see some more snow but winter is losing it's grip, I can feel it.
       Along with the lambs we will be adding this spring, I think I will get some more chicks. I can't keep all my customers happy on fresh eggs, so I need a few more hens. I also miss having some banty chickens around, so I am going to get some of those too. A banty hen comes in handy when you want to set eggs. They stay broody so much longer. I'm still trying to talk Tim into a couple of geese too. He isn't real keen on the idea. He has had some bad experiences with geese. How bad can a goose pinch hurt, right? It can't be that bad....
       Anyway...we are getting ready for the rush of new baby goats and all that goes with it. I can hardly wait to start milking again. I hope you are enjoying your "almost spring" where ever you are.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

     Thanks to Michele at http://simplyscaife.blogspot.com/ She awarded me with the Versatile Blogger Award. It is truly an honor to have received this but even more of an honor to know that there are  fellow bloggers out there who are interested in reading my aimless ramblings of our farm life. There are rules with this award and they are as follows:

       1: Add the award to your blog
       2: Thank the blogger who gave it to you
       3: Mention seven random things about yourself (see below)
       4: List the rules
       5: Award to fifteen bloggers
       6: Inform those fifteen by leaving a comment on their blog
 
     Here are my seven random things about myself:

       1: I love to stay at home, it is my favorite place in the world.
       2: My animals are some of my best friends.
       3: I get some of my best praying done while I am milking.
       4: I love old farm kitchen items.
       5: I love a freshly mown hayfield, I think it is the sweetest smell on earth.
       6: I love to hold a brand new baby goat and feel it take it's first breath.
       7: I love my Lord and Savior more than all these things.

      Below are my blog nominations. I did not have fifteen but I gave you the ones I follow. I enjoy them all and have learned so much from them. I hope you will visit them. It is always nice to leave a comment too. We bloggers love that.

http://firecrackerfarm.com/
http://theblessedhearth.blogspot.com/
http://whitewolfsummitfarmgirl.blogspot.com/
http://missabigailshopechest.blogspot.com/
http://ajoyfulchaos.blogspot.com/
http://frugallysustainable.blogspot.com/
http://canninggranny.blogspot.com/
http://theredeemedgardener.blogspot.com/
http://wonderfullifefarm.blogspot.com/
http://sheepsandpeepsfarm.blogspot.com/
http://amazinggrazefarm.blogspot.com/
 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Where's winter?

          We have had such a mild winter this year. Last fall I thought I was being really smart by not putting the buck in with the does until late. I thought how I would beat all those 20 below zero nights and be snuggled in bed instead of in the barn delivering babies, Mother Nature has made a fool out of me. The coldest night I have seen so far this winter was 8 degrees and that's t-shirt weather. Here I could have had all the kidding done and be drinking fresh milk, but instead I have a bunch of very fat does and store bought milk in the fridge (which I refuse to drink). Oh well, next year will be different I am sure. We are still 4-5 weeks from the does freshening. Tulip, the oldest doe we have will be freshening this year. She hasn't caught for the last two years, so I thought maybe she was retired but she is wider than a house, so I know she is pregnant. She is still my best milker so far. No one can hold a candle to her. All the other animals are doing great. Egg production is down a little bit. I have been getting 15 or 16 a day, as opposed to the 22 or 23 I was getting. Still not too bad though.
          The pepper seeds have been ordered and should be here this week. We will start the peppers inside and then move them to the greenhouse in April. That's how we did it last year and the peppers did so much better. We have been eating our own hot sauce, that we canned, all winter. It is delicious!! I need to finish up the other seed orders and get them sent in. It won't be long and we will here our spring peepers singing. Even though we had a mild winter, I still can't wait for spring to get here.
          The spinning is going well. I continue to get better at it. I don't have any wool to spin, so I have had to teach myself to spin our mohair. It is slippery, compared to wool, so it is a little more challenging. I finished my first skein a couple days ago and I am knitting a hat with it. It is a wonderful feeling to be working with yarn that was raised here on our farm.  I love the fact that I was there when Tim sheared the goat, I gathered the dirty fleece from the barn floor, washed it, dried it, carded it and spun it into yarn. It is such an incredible feeling. I feel so blessed that the Lord has allowed us to do this. Now that I have been knitting with the natural fibers, I can hardly make myelf work with the man made yarn. It is hard to explain but I feel like it has no life in it. I guess that sounds crazy, but that is the best way I can put it into words.
          Well, better go. I have so much work to do today. I hope you are feeling blessed in your neck of the woods. Talk to you later...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ready to ply

     I have had the spinning wheel for a week now and I am getting much better at spinning. I think alot of that has to do with just relaxing. I found I was so tense that my shoulders were killing me after a while on the wheel. I was wound tighter than the yarn was. I have started to relax and just let the wheel work and I think I may get the hang of it after all. I am ready to ply some yarn today. I took my first yarn off the bobbin and just wound it in a ball to keep to remind myself how bad it really was. As I was winding it up, I thought how that yarn is a lot like me, with a lot of imperfections. Lumpy, bumpy, fat, skinny... I sure am glad that God loves me regardless of all my faults. With His help I will slowly get smoothed out and even.
      We finally have snow all over the ground and I love it. Luke is enjoying running and bucking in it. The goats however, prefer to look at it from the barn door. They watch him as he runs out every morning and you see that they think he has lost his mind. The nights have been so cold, the guineas have been coming in and roosting with the chickens. This doesn't make the chickens happy at all. They prefer to have the guineas roost in the pine tree. I am missing a hen and I wonder if she is in the loft on a clutch of eggs. They have a way of hiding and being very quiet when you are looking for them. I really don't relish the thought of little peeps this time of year. I must dry up the last doe here in the next week, to give her 8 weeks to rest before she freshens again. I rolled oats this morning for breakfast and I told Tim this will be my last until March. I cannot stand to drink store bought milk. I don't like the way the goat milk tastes if you freeze it, so I am out of luck for a few weeks. Oh well, time will pass quickly. Hope you are enjoying your winter weather.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Can I spin...? No

       Well, the wheel is here and it is beautiful. It went together like a dream, every part was wrapped so nicely. It is made in Poland and it made the trip without a scratch. I had it almost put together by the time Tim got home from work. It treadles so smoothly. I am so happy with it. I attempted to try my hand at spinning, that, however, did not go like a dream. I can see it is going to take a lot of patience and time to accomplish that. I plan to spend the day, teaching myself. Maybe in a year or two, I'll get it. No one ever said it was going to be easy, right?  "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." And I am going to need His strength, believe me. 
That's Blue Boy chewing on a pigs ear and hopefully not the leg of my wheel
        Thank you for all the wonderful comments I have been getting lately. I love hearing from all of you and knowing that I have made some wonderful friends. The Lord has blessed us and our farm so much and without Him, we are nothing.      Ok, I'm off to spinning land...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Today's the day

       Well. today is supposed to be the day... the shipping order from UPS says delivery is today. The long awaited spinning wheel.... This has been several years in the making and I can't believe it's finally on it's way here. I moved the living room furniture around to make a place for it. I spent yesterday carding fleece and fiber again. I washed the fiber from "Licorice", one of our Angoras. She is black and I was getting tired of carding all white. I wanted to look at a different color. This was from her first shearing and the fiber is just like silk. I know it will be a while before I can spin her fiber because I don't want to mess it up but it was nice to be handling a different color. I need to learn about dying wool too. So much to learn and I can't wait to get started. I had a request to post a picture of the Alpaca hat I was knitting for Tim, so here it is. I wore it to the barn the other morning, just to see how warm it was and it definitely did the job. I love the ear flaps on it because they keep your cheeks warm too. Have a wonderful day. Mine will be spent listening for the rumble of the UPS truck up the holler. :)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Buttermilk Syrup

        Let me start this post by saying, I cannot stand to drink buttermilk. However, I have found that I love to cook and bake with buttermilk, so it is now my friend. This recipe can replace your maple syrup. It is economical to make and it is delicious!! I was planning on tapping some of our sugar maples on our farm this spring, but now that I have found buttermilk syrup, I may never eat maple syrup again. I make it with salted butter so it has that whole "salty-sweet" thing going on. AND you don't need to butter your pancakes or waffles because of the amount of butter in the syrup. Healthy ? No, but I only make freshly ground wheat or oat or kamut pancakes or waffles, so that makes it somewhat healthy, right? I know that many of you are "grain-free" I am not...I love all the grains and how good they are for you. I have some great whole grain recipes if you want them. Just let me know. Ok, here goes.
       
         Take 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (salted). Put it in a deep saucepan, because when you add the soda, it really foams. Then add 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar and 3/4 cup of buttermilk. Bring this to a boil.

 Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Whisk it in...it will foam up and get beautiful.
   Ladle over whatever you desire but remember, it doesn't need to be buttered first. Take the cooled leftover and put it in a jar and keep in the fridge. When you want to reheat, just put it in a pan of water on the stove and heat the water until the syrup gets to the temp you want it. I have kept it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks and have reheated it several times. It tastes just as good as when you made it. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome 2012

     Looks like we are finally going to have winter. The wind howled and roared around this old farm house all night long, as it ushered in dropping temperatures and snow. Last night as we left the barn and had just closed in the chickens for the night, I stopped and looked up at the sky. It was getting dark and the sky was covered with gray clouds whisking across with the wind.  I told Tim, "Here comes winter finally." You could feel it in the air. We have had such mild weather this fall and early winter, but things are changing and well it should. It is time for winter. My grandfather used to always say, " The cold gets stronger when the days get longer." How true that is. This morning when I went to do the morning milking and chores, the snow was coming down at a pretty good clip. I filled mangers with plenty of hay, knowing that everybody will stay in the barn today. Luke headed out after eating his grain, but I told as he went out the barn door, "You'll be back soon". He just nickered and went on. With his heavy coat, I don't think he feels the cold. After the pigs had their breakfast, they went back and buried in a warm pile of hay. If you have never seen a pig bury themselves, it is an amazing thing to watch. They make the nicest nest out of hay and then somehow wiggle down in it until it covers them. When they get up, if there is a hen around, it is the first place she will go to lay an egg. Pigs make a much better nest than a hen does.
       So, the dogs and I are huddled next to the fire. Tim is plowing snow. I spent all day Saturday washing  and drying wool. I have a rack in front of the fire with wool drying now.  I carded some of our Angora. What a difference between it and wool. I can hardly wait for the spinning wheel to arrive. Today will be spent with more washing and carding. I have almost finished Tim's hat made out of the Alpaca fiber. It sure does feel warm.
       Welcome to 1012. I hope it is a blessed year for everyone. Yesterdays sermon was about the storms of life that come our way and that we have the Master to calm those storms. How thankful I am that no matter what comes our way, Jesus is there to say, "Peace, be still". I pray that He will be the Master of your storms and of your life.