Sunday, October 28, 2012

It took a lot of treats to get these pictures. Happy Halloween a bit early.

I had so much fun dressing animals up for Halloween.  Some like the attention, some are just stoic and take it, others want to eat the costume or run away as if I'm going to attack them with a scary wig.  What I found helped the most was black licorice.  Yup, almost all my animals like black licorice.  You'll notice I have no pictures of James dressed up this year.  That's because he doesn't like black licorice.  There are a few other ways to bribe him but I didn't have time for that before typing this up.  I know what you're thinking and that's not what I mean.  I meant I didn't have time to bake him a chocolate cake.
I hope you enjoy these pictures even half as much as I liked taking them.  I think I took 8 pictures of Roxie and this is the best she and I could do.

Mac was one of the stoic ones I was talking about.  "g'day mate"
I don't know which animal this is but she was a little too eager to get dressed up and have her picture taken.
I think Willo looks beautiful as a blonde, don't you?

Calvin Monroe.

Hobbes wanted a piece of Calvin Monroe.

Poppy heard it was going to be a cold winter. 
I don't know who looked cuter in the hat, Poppy or Calvin.

Of course, I can't leave out sweet Lex.  Keri is too bouncy to dress up.

I saved my favorite for last.  Cooper, my buck, is far from an angel but he loved the attention so I put the wings and wig on.  For those of you who have bucks and know what they're like this time of year, you'll appreciate this video.

Happy Halloween from Elk Cliff Farm.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Goat cheese with activated charcoal

Sounds gross, doesn't it?  I don't make many soft cheeses but  I'm enjoying this new (to me) moldy (moldy on purpose using p. candidum) goat cheese.  I receive a monthly newsletter from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company where I buy many of my supplies.  Each month they highlight at least one cheese and give you a new recipe to try, and I often do.  Here's this month's 

Mine came out looking just like theirs.  It seemed to ripen faster than they said though.  It went from black to grey to white in 4 days.

We ate one of them at 5 days old, one at 8 days and still have one in the refrigerator we'll try around 2 weeks old, I think.  The second one was definitely much dryer and a little stronger flavored.  This week I'm attempting a large sized one.  It may be too big.   It looks like a lopsided black cake.                                                                                                                                      
I'm only getting 3/4 of a gallon of milk a day right now but it seems to be yielding more cheese than usual.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Food Fight

During an election year I have to wonder how much of what people say is based on emotion and what is based on reason.  I'm just as guilty, for sure, of being emotional about statements I and others make.  Today someone wrote on Facebook, "I've been amazed---and, frankly, appalled!---at how many people who take advantage of the food stamps system don't know that food producing plants and seeds can be obtained with food stamps". 

I wrote in response, "I think many people who use food stamps live in cities on a small plot or have no land at all and can't grow their own food. Not all of us can do this. If only they could find a way to barter for local, healthy food. It's not always as easy as you may think. It's important to keep an open mind. I'm extremely lucky to have almost everything I eat grown right here. Not everyone has this luxury, I understand that. Those of us who can afford it should have compassion for those who can't. Maybe they'd learn something from you about healthy eating." 

This person and I do not agree on this apparently.  At times I think I might be a snob about how James and I live and eat.  I hope I don't come across as holier-than-thou.  I know this lifestyle isn't for everyone.  We certainly haven't figured out how to do this on-the-cheap.  I'd like to think (maybe wrongly) that folks who get food stamps, at least a good number of them, truly need it.  Most likely they don't have money or time or opportunity to spend planting, harvesting, feeding animals, etc. 

I don't think there's any reason to be "appalled" that folks don't know their food stamps can be used for seeds and plants.  If that's appalling, then maybe it's appalling that some people have never planted arugula and artichokes. It seems to me only people who garden would even think about using food stamps or dollars for seeds.  For those of us who get angry about this, maybe we should try educating folks on food stamps, arugula and artichokes. Maybe we can all learn something.  Kumbaya........

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween dress rehearsal

My Mid Atlantic Minis Yahoo goat group is having a costume contest for our goats.  Winner gets $35.00.  I doubt anyone participating cares if there's a prize or not.  It's just fun.  We don't get trick-or-treaters here so this is about all the Halloween celebrating I do, dressing up my animals.  For those of you who missed last year's 10/30 post, here's a link
I can't use the same costume as last year so today I began experimenting.  It's not easy to dress up a goat so I thought I'd do a dress rehearsal on one of my most patient and devoted buddies, Lex.  He's an angel, don't you agree?
I think he needs a white robe.  I don't know if I can get a goat to let stand still to put 3 pieces of clothing on it.  We'll see.

I'd really love to dress up one of the pigs too.  They're so darn cute but they rarely stand still unless I'm giving them a good scratch or in Calvin's case, a tummy rub.  Yesterday I was doing work in the field and I was worried the boy goats would get in the way but it was the pigs who were more curious about tools.  My drill was covered in mud from them gnawing on it with their muddy noses and mouths.  They got tired of me after awhile but still wanted to be close and took a nap next to my wagon.  I couldn't resist and snapped a picture with my phone.  They really are pretty affectionate creatures.
Anyone have any ideas for goat costumes?  Or other animals.  Donkeys are also fun to dress up. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I know I'm a bit slack on blogging lately so I thought I'd post this cute picture (not mine).
This is not Keri and one of my goats but I wish they were this tight.  Keri has adjusted to living with them fulltime now and that makes life much easier.  She'd still rather be with us.

Breeding season has begun so I've brought all the boys (6) up to the house so I can tell when the girls are in heat.  It's super noisy and active and I can't wait to put the boys back in the field.  They become insane whiny bucks this time of year and I know the neighbors can hear them from at least half a mile away.  I bred 3 girls today and it was weird how a few wanted the one boy they weren't supposed to have.  Isn't that how parents always feel?  I presented them with the guy I thought was good for them and he just didn't turn them on like the other one.  Tough, I'm the boss.  I need the no-eared girls to breed with the no-eared boy and the long-eared girls to breed with the long-eared boy.

I know this may surprise many of you but tomorrow I'm sending Darla and her daughter, Remmy, to live with my friend, Susan.  I really need to scale down before kidding season and it made more sense to say goodbye to my little girls and stick with my giant milkers.  I will cry but I'll get to see them again and I know they'll be in good hands.

Today I had to butcher the first of our turkeys.  We were going to wait till November but this boy has been limping and had a very swollen foot.  I don't know if it got stepped on or what.  Today he was lying around looking pitiful so it was time to put him out of his misery and into our freezer. 

I took Macaroni (donkey) for a 2 mile walk on the road today to see how he'd handle the little traffic we have.  He's been on the road many times before but not here.  He did great.  We walked to visit a friend of mine.  When she let her little barking dog out of the house Mac didn't blink an eye or even twitch.  The only problem we had was Mac wants to walk faster down hills than I want him to.  I want him to get used to walking on the road to the Glenwood Horse Trail which is only a mile and a half away. 

Not much else........

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Some days I feel like a farmer

Today was one of those days I felt like a real farmer.  After morning milking and feeding I went out to the field to give Jaz her meds and noticed the big gate needed attention.  It seems like hanging a farm gate should be easy, right?  I can build a barn but ask me to hang a gate plumb and I fall short.  Maybe I wasn't feeling like such a farmer after that.  I did get it hung though.  Perhaps it was so hard because my buck, Cooper, insisted on helping me by rubbing his stink all over me and licking me.  So now I not only feel like a farmer, I smell like one.  The falling rain seemed to make his cologne even worse.

Rainy days are good for cheese making so I made gruyere cheese till the rain subsided.  I need to be in a certain mood to butcher a chicken and today just happened to be one of those days.  Don't ask what that mood is because I can't describe it.  We have lots of roosters and we need to slim down before winter so I headed out to the yard with a large net in hand.  I just did one and butchering was an easy task.  I cut it up and we had legs and thighs for dinner along with eggplant, squash and potatoes from the garden.  I think Lex was feeling like a farm dog today too because he got goat milk, an egg, whey and a chicken foot.  I hear his tummy grumbling now and I hope I don't have to clean up his farm dog food in another form later on.  Keri never seems bothered by stuff like this.  She eats all kinds of things.  I'm not sure she's so thrilled with store-bought dog food. 

It cleared up to be a lovely evening so I put a halter and lead on Macaroni and took him for a walk around the perimeter of our field.  He was so eager and interested in his surroundings and never questioned where I was taking him.  He walked right down to the creek with no hesitation.  Next we crossed the road so I could show him where I live.  He met the turkeys and a barking Keri through the fence.  He was nonplussed.  We only quit because it got dark.  I can't wait till I can ride him.  Hopefully tomorrow. 

I think I need a bath to wash this farmer feeling off me.

Monday, October 1, 2012

And called him Macaroni

My friend, Mike, emailed me 5 days ago and said he was selling his mammoth donkey, Mack (short for Macaroni), and would I like to give him a home.  Well, Mack is the reason I wanted a mammoth donkey to begin with.  Mack is awesomely gigantic yet gentle as a lamb (are lambs gentle?).  He's Mike's saddle donkey.  I was enchanted by him the first time I met him.  This is one of Mike's pictures I love of Mack with a toddler on him.

 Mike lifted me onto Mack's back within 5 minutes after his arrival.  Wow, it's a long way down.  I'll be using a saddle for sure.  I'm a bit nervous up there. I'm going to have to find ways to get up on him myself.  A stirrup won't do it. 

Introductions went pretty well.  There was a little half-hearted kicking (the donkeys, not me) but for the most part all the donkeys seem fine together unless we're giving attention to Mack.  They all want to be the favorite donkey.  Willo is especially possessive of me, even with her mom and brother.  I've been riding her more lately so she thinks I'm hers.  Here's the initial meeting of the asses.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow but if it doesn't I'm going to take him for a short ride.  I hope:)