Tuesday, March 28, 2017


This is my grand dog and Baxter's best friend, Maia.  She's a boxer/rottweiler cross who absolutely loves the water.  She wears a life jacket in the river because she's solid muscle and it's a lot of work to keep her body afloat, though you'd never know it to watch her swim.  I'm pretty proud of this painting because it's the first one I've done with water and reflections.  It was super fun.  Here she is standing in the James River.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


About 2 months ago I attempted to paint James' portrait.  I messed with it for a week or 2 but couldn't get his mouth right, among lots of other things.  I put it away and figured I'd look at it again one day when I got better.  I got it out yesterday after another failed attempt at his portrait.  Well,
I finally finished it.  I think I got the mouth pretty close.  What do you think?
I couldn't decide whether to title this blog Jamester or Poochrait.  I should mention, neither James nor Baxter were offended by this painting.  I asked James' permission to use this in my blog.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rex's Kids

These pictures and videos say it all.  Rex is a wonderful caregiver.  Keri is the fierce protector but Rex is a real softie when it comes to these babies, especially Mona, his bottle baby.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Emmy and Millie

These may be our final kids of the season and I finally got to watch the births.  Darla is a pro and breezed through the whole thing.  A new young friend, Emily, watched with me, so that's how I came up with Emmy and Millie.  I really love both those names.  The one with the funny ears is Millie.  The other girl's ears can't decide what they want to do either.  Sometimes they stand up straight like a rabbit.

All the other kids are doing well too and are about as sweet as any kids I've ever had.  I just love this little crew.  In a few more days when they're all bouncing I'll get some video to post.  All kids will be for sale this year.  No matter how much I like them, I'm not keeping more.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Kidding season is not going as I had hoped

Maybe I'm getting too lax about raising goats.  I used to be so careful in my planning of breeding and kept notes about who was bred when, to whom, when they had what shots, what day they kidded on the year before, etc.  This year all planning went out the window.  I think things changed when I moved the goats from the yard over to the field.  Or maybe when I began adding other livestock to the mix.

I had very few due dates for my goats this year and the ones I did have weren't always correct.  I've missed every birth so far.  Lily had hers yesterday morning shortly before I went down to milk.  For some reason she has not accepted Mona.  She's always been a good mom in the past so I don't know what the deal is.  She has made very clear that she only loves Sully, therefore I'm bottle feeding Mona and 2 more kids who arrived yesterday afternoon right in the middle of the field.

Dahlia is a first time mom and had no idea what happened.  She was standing in the field staring down and these two tiny, screaming, sopping wet creatures looking very confused.  I picked them up and carried them to a shelter, calling Dahlia to follow me.  It was windy and chilly.  Instead, when she finally decided to move, it wasn't to the barn but out to graze with the others.  I had to drag her across the field to her kids and block her in there.  She seems interested in them and cries to them but won't let them nurse.  Maybe she'll come around.  They're happy to take a bottle for now.

Fortunately, Dahlia and Lily were more than happy to come in to be milked this morning, so that was a nice surprise.  Most new moms kick a little (sometimes a lot) the first day, especially a first time mom.  I was lucky with Dahlia.  I haven't named her two boys yet.  Rex is being a better father to all the kids than their moms are.  He adores them.  It doesn't hurt that they taste like milk.  He keeps their behinds clean too :)  All 4 kids born yesterday sleep in a pile together.  It's very cute.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sully and Mona

Lily gave birth to a little boy and girl this morning.  The little boy, Sully, is brown and Mona looks just like Petal.  It's funny how similar Mona's markings are to hers.  Mom and babies seem to be doing fine.

Their names come from a city in Italy James and I visited many years ago, Sulmona.  It's known for it's candied almonds.  There were stores that sold nothing but candied almonds.  There were beautiful bouquets of almonds arranged in flower form.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Farm life is settling down.  No one's kidding and no one is dying.  That gives me some down time.  I'm finding mostly what I want to do when I have that down time is paint.  I may not consider myself and artist yet but I feel like I'm making progress, and that keeps me motivated to keep painting.

I'm a Pinterest addict and am always looking at real artists' works, plus I have some awesome friends who paint with me and inspire me more than you can imagine.  It's been fun exploring different styles
and finding what works for me and what I find a real challenge. Animals have been my go-to.  I like painting them most, especially dogs and farm animals.  I need to stretch myself to get better, I know that.

I told James last night, "you know what I'm looking forward to?  I can't wait till I show you something I've painted and you say, that's really good".  That hasn't happened yet.  He's said, "I like the way you did this, or that", but I still feel challenged to impress him.  That's a good thing, I guess.

Here are my latest farm paintings.  Ok, some are dogs that live on farms.  Hopefully you'll see differences in style between one painting and another.  That's why I labeled this blog, Exploring.
First is our beloved Baxter.
This next one of an old barn in the snow came from a book my friend, Kathy, loaned me.
This next one of Rex, our guardian, and Petal could use more attention but I've grown tired of working on it so it may just remain as is.
Keeping with the dog theme, this hound dog belongs to my friend Barb, who lives up river about 9 miles on a very large farm.  Her dog, Corrie, follows canoeists down the river to our place a few times each summer.  She's a real sweetie and also a beauty.  I loved painting this face.  Barb is one of the friends I paint with.
One more farm animal.  Porter, the new steer who has come to live here, who's a gentle giant and almost cartoon-like in my eyes, therefore, I painted him somewhat cartoonish.
Lastly, not farm-like at all.  I decided to paint something that had nothing to do with animals or farm or anything I usually paint.  I didn't sketch this or plan it.  I just used bold colors and bigger brushes and saw where it went.  Not beautiful or perfect, but fun, nonetheless.
Stay tuned for more amateur art.  I can't help myself.  Maybe one day you'll say, wow, I love this and so will James and I will be very proud.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

One for the books (Luti continued)

Every year raising livestock I learn something new, sometimes good stuff, sometimes bad, but always something that is important for me to know if I plan to continue farming.

It's been a week and 2 days since Luti gave birth to Petal.  She's been showing signs of improvement
all week as I continued to administer antibiotics.  The past 2 or 3 days she's even gone out to graze with the herd.  This morning when I went down to the barn Keri was guarding a dead baby goat.  I quickly checked all the goats to see if any of them had kidded or were in labor.  Nope, everyone was still very pregnant and nowhere near ready.  Luti finally looked like she usually does after kidding; skinny.  She'd been carrying a dead baby around for 9 days and just today expelled it.  All the medicine we gave her last Saturday that was supposed to make her body do that made no difference.  I'm shocked this didn't kill her.  I pressed on her abdomen (which I also did last week) and felt no more kids in there.  I can't believe neither the vet nor I could feel this baby.  It was a good sized kid.
Hopefully she'll return to her normal self soon.

Today we're cooking down the small amount of maple sap James collected.  It hasn't been a good year for maple syrup because we haven't had the cold nights followed by warm days.  Too many warm nights.  Here it is February 19th and I'm too hot to get anywhere near the fire to check on the sap.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cleaning out the freezer

Those of you with chest freezers who raise their own food know how it can get out of hand.  We have 3 big freezers but only one of them is a deep chest freezer.  It can hold lots of fruit and vegetables.  So many that you lose track of what's in there.

I can tell you what was in ours.  Stuff from 2007 through 2016.  The freezer needed defrosting.  Our meat freezers were low on meat so it was a good time to move veggies and fruit to those while we cleaned the veggie/fruit one out.  I discovered all kinds of pig food in there :)  Mostly fruit and squashes that were very old.  The pigs didn't care one bit how old it was.  I made a pumpkin soup from 2010 pumpkin, which turned out pretty yummy.  We made 22 quarts of wineberry juice and strawberry juices.
I discovered we had at least 8 bags of peas; both shelled peas and snow peas, which we didn't know we had.  Peas are some of our favorites.

I told you we were low on meat.  Well, we're so low I decided to cook up some organs.  We had pork kidneys in the freezer, because we think we should try to use the whole animal if we're going to raise them.  Well, I can't say I recommend pork kidneys.  I opened the bag and smelled the overwhelming odor of pee.  I knew I was going to cook kidneys but for some reason I didn't expect them to smell like urine.  I don't know why I was so dense.  Here's what they look like before cooking.  They're shaped just like a kidney bean, only larger.   Inside was some white stuff I was told to remove, so I did.
I read that if you soaked them for an hour in milk with lemon juice or vinegar it would remove the urine smell/taste, so I did that. I should've known right then that this was a bad idea.  I thought if I cooked them in enough butter, garlic and capers they couldn't be too bad.  Putting them on a sandwich made from bread made from our own whole wheat (which we have SOOO much of in our freezer) would make it that much more palatable.  Even add a little mustard.  How could you go wrong, right?
We couldn't eat it.  It still tasted and smelled like pee. So we ate bread with mustard, capers, garlic and butter.  The dogs will get the kidneys.  Baxter sampled it and didn't seem to mind the urine smell and taste.
The peas were good though.

Update on Luti

This morning Luti was still lying in her little house and not very interested in nursing Petal.  Her eyes
were still squinty and she looked very tired.  She did, however, seem happy to get some hay, though she didn't eat it with gusto.  I gave her her shot of antibiotics and pain killer.  I'll be glad when I don't have to poke her anymore.

Late this afternoon she was standing in her shed and looking much better, doting more on Petal.   Petal begged for her bottle, which she's become accustomed to.  I offered Luti some baking soda (I don't know why I didn't have it out there before.  I guess I just forgot) and she attacked it.  She ate quite a bit of it so maybe all this time it's been something in her stomach or rumen that's causing the problem.  Maybe she was bloated from eating the afterbirth or something else.  I don't see how that would cause a fever though.   Hopefully this will settle things down.  She may not be back to normal but she's so much better than yesterday.  It took some coaxing but I finally got Petal reacquainted with Luti's teat and once she remembered what to do she gorged herself.  Luti seemed happy about it.  What a relief.

I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog some other new arrivals.  About a week ago I looked out our bedroom window and saw 3 chickens.

We haven't had chickens since last April.  Someone must have dropped them in our yard while we were still in bed, figuring "what's 3 more animals on a farm?"  They seem to be nice chickens but we're not sure how many are roosters.  Only one of them crows, but we haven't seen him mounting the other two.  He has an obvious rooster tail.  One of the others looks like a hen but the other is questionable.  He/she has one or two tail feathers that seem rooster-like.  We haven't seen any eggs anywhere.  Most of the time they hang out in the front yard.  They're not very adventurous at all.  We can't convince them to sleep in a chicken coop.  I've moved them there after they've roosted in a bush or tree for the night but they never go back to the coop.  They prefer trees.  We're enjoying watching them.  It doesn't make me want to get more chickens though.  While we've missed the eggs, it's kind of nice not having to close them up at night or let them out in the mornings.  I definitely don't miss cleaning up after them.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

New Arrivals

Luti gave us our first kid this season.  This is the first time she's ever had a single kid.  I missed the birth and now wish I'd been there to see how it went because things went downhill for Luti the day
after and I don't know why.  First let me show you her sweet baby, Petal.
By the time I got home Petal was all dry and cleaned up and I saw no signs of afterbirth or anything.  Even Luti's behind was clean, which is never the case after a goat kids.  I had no idea if she passed the afterbirth or ate it or the dogs ate it.  She seemed very lively and healthy that night.  The next morning when I went out to  milk she was in the mobile shed with her head against the wall, with no interest in eating or doing much of anything.  She very weakly got up now and then to nurse Petal but was very shaky.  I gave her some Lutelyse thinking it may cause her to expel the afterbirth or a dead baby or something bad that was causing her to be so sick.  Nothing happened.  I called the vet and he told me to reach in and see if I could feel a baby or anything.  This was probably 24 hours after she'd kidded so she was pretty closed up by then.  I put my arm in up to nearly my elbow but felt nothing.  Unfortunately, Luti DID feel something.  I hate causing pain like that.  I took her temperature.  It was 105.4.  Normal for a goat is between 102 and 103.  I asked the vet if he could come out and look at her.  He did the same thing, stuck his much larger hand in her and felt nothing.  Poor Luti.  He administered Oxy____something, which should have done the same thing the Lutelyse does.  I was a bit concerned about her getting all that stuff pumped in her but trusted he knew best.  He also gave her an antibiotic to fight whatever was causing the fever and Banamine to help with the pain and fever.  Shortly after he left she seemed to have convulsions and started throwing up mucous.  She no longer could get up and seemed pretty out of it and in more pain.  I felt sick.  I was so sure I was going to lose her.  I began giving Petal a bottle because Luti could no longer nurse her.  I checked on her at midnight, so sure she'd be gone but she surprised me by lifting her head and sipping a bit of water.  She no longer had fluid dripping from her mouth like she had earlier.  She didn't sound as raspy either.

This morning I went to feed and milk and there was Luti standing in the doorway of her shed.  I was never so happy to see a goat standing.  She's still not out of the woods.  I'm giving her antibiotics and Banamine.  She's weak and tired.  I'll check on her one more time before bed.
On a much happier note, we have some guests who've come to live here; Porter, a big gentle steer and his friends, Eli and Vegas, 2 small standard donkeys.  Their owners are moving here this week from NJ and needed to find a place for them to stay since there's no place at their new home for them.  They'll be living just a mile down the road so it's convenient for them to visit their animals here.  Introductions went pretty well, though Franklin was giving Porter a little more attention than he'd have liked (mounting him).  Porter came from 40 degrees and wet this morning to 77 degrees and was panting like crazy from all the action and heat.  This evening all have settled down and they're happily grazing together.  Eli and Vegas are really sweet and friendly and seem to be very relaxed as they explore the pasture.

The other girls seem very content in their pregnant state and basking in this glorious weather we've been having.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Painting a face of love

James and I watched The Face of Love on Netflix last week.  It's about a widow who falls for a man who looks just like her dead husband.  Afterward, James and I discussed what that would be like, and wondered if there was anyone out there that looked just like us.  It's hard to imagine.  Is it possible to think someone looks exactly like us or the face of our lover?

We think we know our spouse's face intimately and I'd like to believe I know every little detail of James' face, but do I?  As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've found a new addiction; painting.  I'm not sure why I decided I could paint a human face, but I thought I'd like to paint James's.  After all,
it's something I'm most familiar with so it can't be any harder than painting Franklin or the pigs, or so I hoped.  Ok, I'm not that naive.  I knew it would be harder but what I didn't know was how much more important it would be to me to want to get it right, or get it close, or at least make it not too offensive to James.

First I sketched him.  I thought I'd done a pretty good job of that and figured once I put paint on the page it would only improve it.  I thought I'd try and keep it more on the abstract side so it wouldn't be as noticeable when I didn't get a detail quite right.  I won't post all the pictures from beginning to now because I don't want to embarrass myself, but I'm going to show you where it stands at the moment.  At one point James had red hair, which was kind of fun, but I don't think he was as happy with that as I was.  Also, I toned down the really bold colors and softened him as today wore on.

Here's where my Face Of Love stands right now.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Instant gratification

I've known for a long time that I'm happiest if I get results fast.  I like projects that can be completed in a short period of time.  Even if it's something like building a barn, I want each step of the process to move along quickly and keep me interested.  I'm not one to spend months building a fine piece of furniture.  I'm thinking more like a week and a half or two for a small table.  Maybe most of us are like that, I don't know.

I know the expression, it's not the destination, but the journey, is a sweet sentiment and I believe that in most parts of my life, but in all honesty, I really like reaching my destinations.  Yes, the journey is fun too, but.......c'mon, once you get there you can sit back and enjoy, right?

Since building my mom that side table for Christmas and having to decoupage the birds on it instead of paint them, I've wanted to improve my artistry skills.  I asked my friend, Kathy, to suggest an art teacher and she so very graciously offered to teach me herself.  I can't tell you how much fun this has been.  I've had 2 lessons.  In the beginning I thought I didn't really care if I'm great at it.  I just want to be able to paint animals on things or improve on things I already know how to do. Now that I've done a little experimenting I'm finding it so much fun that I want to keep seeing improvement.  I want to be good at it NOW.

Well, you know how that goes.  I started off feeling kind of cocky.  My first painting turned out better than I had expected, though far from the kind of stuff my artist friends produce.  Still, I felt encouraged.  I was even happier with my second painting, then third.  This is where it stopped.  I wanted to make improvements on all 3 of these paintings but the more I work on them, the worse they look.

I've watched Youtube videos on how to paint clouds and, goodness, that looked so simple.  Ha!  They lied.  I suck at mountains, clouds and pastures.  I'm ok at animals, surprise, surprise.  Here are my works in progress.

Painting number one.  Franklin and Kathy in our field.
Number two, Roxie and Wendell at sunset.  Yes, I know the clouds and shrubs need lots of work.  I need more help.
And lastly, the blue-eyed, curly-haired goat I've never owned.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

This is a lot of bull

Tonight I walked over to the field to give Keri her pills.  She seems to have relapsed and is back on medication.  While I was over there I couldn't stop watching the bulls play.  All 3 of them, large, medium and small, Franklin, Lennon and Mo, were having a great time, mostly chasing each other.  It was often a different bull in the lead and when they put heads together it was very gentle play.  Trailing behind are the 2 pigs, also males.  It appears they like being part of the action.

Maybe you'll enjoy watching them play as I do.  I took several videos of them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Garden gate beginnings

I had planned to wait until the garden gate was finished to blog about it, but today a friend asked me to share the progress as it moved along.  Also, James told me it was time for me to blog again so here I am.

This may be boring to some of you but so far each step of making this has been fun for me.  Instead of starting from scratch and buying all new steel I decided to use something we already had.  We used to have gates at the end of the driveway but we took them down when we removed some fencing.  They've been sitting behind a shed just waiting to be used again.  Here's what they looked like before.
Using a cutting wheel on my grinder I cut off all the curly scrollwork and the rounded side of each gate.  This left me with 2 pieces that look like this.
They're now stacked one on top the other to make one tall gate instead of two short gates.  I chamfered the edges of the flat pieces of steel that were to be welded together.  This gives a larger
area to weld for more strength.  See the beveled edge?  When the 2 pieces came together they created a V.
I've stripped most of the paint from the gate and plan to let it rust.  I like rusty gates and I think rust will look better with the copper.  So here's what it looks like now.  I may remove some of the smaller bars to make it lighter but I won't do that till I know what the final design for the copper is.
I did have to buy one piece of steel to close up the edge where I had removed the arched pieces.  Here you can see the two pieces of plumbing I'm attaching to use for the hinge.
You can also see the homemade clamp (2x4s) I made to make the gate the same on the one side as the other.  I didn't have a pipe clamp so I made do.  Luckily we only had to close it up 1/2 an inch.  I still need to weld the piece to the side but ran out of shielding gas today so hopefully tomorrow I'll get it all welded up and ready for the real fun to begin - covering this "canvas" with a copper design.

I really don't have a plan yet.  I'm not thrilled with any of my drawings and keep waiting for inspiration.  I did, however, make a flower (or sunshine).  I cut out several petals.
I hammered and shaped them into this.
The center pieces are riveted together but the rest of it isn't fastened yet.  That will require brazing, which I've never done.  Hopefully tomorrow.  I've got my oxygen and acetylene tanks and tools and can't wait to give it a try.

That's about it so far.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Table for Mom

James is home holding down the fort so I could go to PA to celebrate a late Christmas with my Mom, sisters and nieces, for which I'm very grateful.  It's been a really great visit and my mom and I have gotten a lot accomplished, i.e., stripping wallpaper and painting her bathroom.

One of my sisters suggested I make a side table for Mom to keep near her recliner to store her remote controls.  Since I had no other ideas for a gift I thought, why not?  It took me a while to come up with a plan so it wasn't until a week and a half before I was to head north I decided to get started and see what I ended up with.  It was a lot of fun but I wish I would have begun a little earlier.  I'm pleased with the end result though and my mom says she likes it.   The birds are images I got from the internet and decoupaged onto the painted table.  I painted the branches with some acrylic paints I had a limited supply of.  I wish I had more colors to choose from.  The drawer pull is a large bead a friend gave me and I thought looked like an egg.  The top is some beech tongue and groove flooring some friends gave us.  The whole table was made from wood we already had in our garage, hence a painted table.  You can probably guess my mom loves birds.

Just a note on Keri, in case you're wondering how she's doing.  She responded well to the antibiotics and seems to have made a complete recovery, thank goodness.  If your farm dog eats a lot of poop and loses control of her back end I can recommend a good vet and antibiotic.  Yup, it seems the reason she was so weak was because of her love of a manure diet and parasites.  Yes, I feed her real food.