Friday, May 20, 2011

Happenings at Elk Cliff Farm

It seems like so much has been going on here lately.  I have an hour to kill while I wait on my curds to set for gouda cheese so this might be a good time.  We're getting lots of milk now so I'm making cheese just about every other day. 

May 8th was Holes In My Jeans' second anniversary.  I can't believe I've been able to stick with it for so long.  I've never been much of a journaler so I'm feeling pretty proud of myself.  I usually write in my journal when we take vacations so I can go back later and remember what we did, where we stayed and who we met.  When we get home I stop writing. I'll see if I can do this another year.

I've sent 5 of my goats to new homes and 4 more leave this weekend.  I cry when each one leaves even though I'm glad for them to find new families.  I've learned that 5 or 6 milkers is my ideal number to keep.  Anymore and it takes longer than I really want to spend each morning and night.  I'm also finding it easier to say goodbye to the babies.  My barn just isn't big enough for the 15 babies and 7 moms I had this kidding season.  James is so kind to clean out the poop every morning while I feed and milk.  It's a real mess in there since the moms want to sleep nearby their babies who are locked up for the night.  Hopefully when the kids are gone the barn will have a chance to dry out.

Two nights ago we had a chicken massacre.  Something carried off one hen and left 3 more dead in their coop.  The rooster is still alive but looks like he's had a stroke.  He carries his head to the side and is staying in a different (hopefully safe) coop.  I don't know if he's eating or drinking but he seems to be hanging in there.  So now we only have 3 layers and 13 one month old chicks.  We also lost 6 five week old chickens 3 weeks ago that I had hatched.  They were locked up in a shed and something squeezed through an inch and a half crack and ate all 6.  I'm pretty sure it's a weasel doing all this damage because my neighbor saw a weasel kill her chickens.  I will be building another coop this next week.  If the rooster survives this I may just have to give him a name.  I've held and petted him and he doesn't seem to mind.

This morning James took Darla in for surgery.  Darla is the little girl I blogged about awhile back who had the abscess on her neck and we had in the house for 2 weeks.  She has been having fun with the other kids and acting normal in every way except for the abscess that kept returning, so the vet removed the lymph node with the abscess.  She told me this was very risky and asked that I not hold it against her if Darla didn't survive.  Of course I said I wouldn't.  She's already done so much for us.   I felt like we needed to give Darla one more chance since she's such a sweet girl.  I just returned from picking her up.  She did very well and is recovering in a crate in the barn.  I thought of bringing her in the house but decided she'd be happier being able to watch her playmates and mom.  I hope so badly she recovers and this is the last we'll see of the abscess. 

Along with spring comes visitors.  It's beautiful in the Shenandoah Valley this time of year.  We've had lots of rain so everything is really lush and green.  My friend, Judy, was here last week, followed by some of my family.  I love that we live somewhere my family and friends want to spend their vacations.  James is down by the river now showing a friend of ours the space she is planning to have a youth bike tour stay.  They will be here to begin their trip and end it with about 4 days on either end.  It sounds like a pretty big set up with port-a-johns, picnic tables and a kitchen area.  In between those 2 weekends we'll be having another group of 25 to 30 staying here - a mission team from my parent's church.

Yesterday a women's health class from Washington and Lee University came here for a field trip.  They milked the goats, I gave them a tour of the garden and talked a little about what we do here on our little homestead.

They picked strawberries, lettuce, peas and asparagus.  It was fun listening and watching them as some of them did these things for the first time in their lives.  I remember the first time I saw asparagus growing and thought it was pretty cool too.

Afterwards we went back to their teacher's house and made mozzarella cheese.  Again, they were pretty fascinated with how milk turned into cheese so quickly. They ate a pound of cheese in about 10 minutes. 
It's busy and sometimes frustrating or sad but we're having fun.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, and of course, great pictures. Judging by the smile on the face of the young visitor milking the goat, she must've "got milk".