Thursday, December 30, 2010

Look what I found in the greenhouse

Someone decided it was warmer in the greenhouse than our house and decided to take a nap in there.  It was 72 degrees.  Some people talk to their plants.  James sleeps with his.  Can you see how happy his lettuce is?  No, me neither.  I've also seen him nap under his piano.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thinking alike

Here are two gift tags from our Christmas gifts this year.
Both of us addressed the card to both of us instead of just the other person.  The gifts?  Two cheese slicers.  They aren't the same kind but still it was funny that we both gave ourselves the same thing.  I can't recall the two of us ever discussing how we should get one.  We broke our old one about a year ago so it's not like it happened right before Christmas when we were trying to come up with gift ideas.  Yes, since I make lots of cheese, we eat lots of cheese.

I'm told when you live with someone you become more like them or at least think like them.  I guess that's true.  It even happens with me and Adam.  He can attest to that.  Even though he's away at school he and I sometimes must send each other signals through space.  I can't tell you how many times one of us calls the other and the other laughs and says, "I was just dialling your number".  Or we open our cell phone and the other one is already on there without it ringing. 

This must happen to all families but lots of times I think things happen to everyone else and I'm told they don't.  For instance, I'm a dreamer, and I don't mean in my sleep (I do that too though).  I mean I always have dreams about what I'd like to do, places I'd like to live, things I'd like to build, whatever.  One of my friends tells me she doesn't have dreams.  I don't believe her but maybe I should.  I even found myself making suggestions of things she might dream about.  So is there anyone out there who has never felt a "thought connection" with a family member?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Yesterday my friend, Emily, lost her donkey, Buttercup.  Buttercup had just had a baby, Dallas, 4 months ago and I can't imagine how he felt when he saw his mama lying on the ground.  Buttercup was a rescue donkey with a skin condition, and I guess something more serious, which her owners didn't know the name of.  She was an affectionate girl to her caretakers and they wanted to make her comfortable and, if possible, find a way to heal her. She was the reason Emily fell so hard for donkeys in the first place.

I wrote to Emily last night to ask for a photo of Buttercup to include in my blog and she told me she'd send me one later because at the time I asked they were in the middle of burying her.  Burying an animal is hard but burying a large animal seems even more daunting and sad because it would take so long. 

I know many of us project on our animals.  We think we know how they feel and what they might be thinking.  It's probably silly but it's hard not to do that when you're an animal lover.  Yesterday Shiloh was over with the boy goats and started braying for his mom.  She took her time but finally called back to him.  He went tearing away to be with her.  I keep thinking about Dallas and how a 4 month old donkey feels about losing his mother.  Projecting or not, it still brings tears to my eyes to think about.  Emily said when she went out and found Buttercup lying on the ground the other 3 donkeys gathered around with her.  After she was buried the 2 girls and Dallas kept sniffing the ground and the girls were nuzzling Dallas as if they knew something was wrong.  Maybe they will take to mothering him.

Here's Buttercup shortly after she delivered Dallas.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Season's Greetings from the Pannabeckers

I missed posting a Christmas greeting so I'll have to wish you season's greetings instead.  I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as I did.  We left Pennsylvania right before the snow arrived.  It's white here but only a few inches of the frosty stuff is on the ground.  Our house/pet sitter, Marilyn, even shoveled our driveway.  We're already back to our regular routines - James and I sitting at our computers and Adam is out with his friends.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize your own scrapbooking design

Friday, December 24, 2010

In PA for Christmas

Believe it or not, we left the farm for 4 days.  My good friend, Marilyn, is staying with our furry family so I'm sure they're in good hands.  We're spending Christmas with my family, staying with my parents.
This is my mom, Jane.  As you can see, she's up to no good.

Take a look on the louvered doors beside her.  Every year she hangs Christmas cards on the doors.  Unlike me, who, as you may remember, thinks I'm doing great just to color some eggs to put on a cedar sprig, my mom covers most surfaces with something red, green, sparkly or snow covered.  They put lights on the outside of the house and candles in all the windows too.  You will find plaques that say, "let it snow", around the house, even though my dad hates snow.  Her decorations wouldn't be complete without the Christmas village and Christmas cactuses.  Or is it cacti?

Sharing in the decorating duties is my dad.  Most people call him Skeets.  Here he is below.  You may mistake him for the grinch because he doesn't like to smile for the camera.  Nevertheless, this is him being happy.  He's just keeping it all inside.
This next picture is of my spoiled little sister, Bridget (seated next to the Let It Snow snowmen).

If you page back up to the picture of my mom next to the refrigerator you'll see there are many pictures of Bridget on their refrigerator and only one of me.  I do want to point out though, that there are no pictures of my 2 older sisters on the refrigerator.  I wonder if they take mine down when I'm not here and put theirs up when they come to visit.  I sure hope my sisters don't read this blog entry.  I'd hate for them to have their feelings hurt around Christmas. 

Tonight we will visit my 96 year old grandfather (Pop Pop) and there will probably be cousins, aunts and uncles there too.   From there off to the Christmas Eve. service where I'll get to see more cousins and lots of people I knew growing up.  Tomorrow, after opening our presents, we'll go to my sister's and see the rest of my family.  That's always lots of fun, all my nieces trying to outdo each other in volume.  Actually all of us do that.  It's a family trait.

Merry Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm not very good at being single

James and Adam went to Ohio this week to be with James' mom and sister.  They've only been gone 3 days and already I'm ready for them to come home.  I watch way too much TV and eat too much or too little.  I don't fix the healthy meals I do when they're here.

Today my friends, Lucas and Anne, came over to make Manchego cheese with their cow's milk.  It was so nice to have company and feel productive, even though I let them do their own cheese making.  I just provided the equipment, a very nutritious lunch (frozen pizza) and Youtube videos for entertainment.  They helped me take pictures of the animals for our Christmas card.  Stay tuned for those pictures.

Here's one of my more recent favorite Youtube videos I shared with them (thanks to Jerry for introducing me to it).  Lucas and Anne were just as amused with it as I am, I think.

There were a few other parrot videos we loved too but maybe I'll save them for a later date.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My human kid

I was thinking today how I post pictures of my non-human kids all the time but rarely post pictures of my son, Adam.  I picked him up from Radford U. yesterday after his last exam.  I know he's happy to be on winter break.  We're happy to have him home.  When he got in the car I noticed a shadow on his face.  "Growing a beard?",  I asked.  He said very few of his friends can grow one and they think he should because he can, so he is. 
Now just about all my kids have beards.  Even the girls.  Polly's is just a tad longer than Adam's.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Being a goat farmer

Contrary to what you may believe after reading this, I DO love my goats.

I went to North Carolina yesterday to have dinner with my very dear friends of, oh, I don't know, 14 years???  It was the first time I've been away from my animals since last Christmas.  As I drove out of my driveway I had to stop and take this picture. It was cold but sunny and the goats decided to hang out together in and by these little goat shacks even though we have two 16 by 16 foot barns.  It made me smile.

I had a wonderful time in Salisbury and relaxed, knowing everyone was in good hands at home with James in charge.  I didn't worry once about their care.  These friends of mine get together once a month for dinner and after I moved I tried to make it there (3 1/2 hours away) every other month to be with them.  In the past year and a half that has dropped off and I haven't spent the time with them that I used to.  Here's a picture of us from last night's dinner.  I just learned how to use the timer on our camera.

As I drove back north my thoughts turned toward home and what James and I had agreed he would do while I was out of town.  I began to cry.  Shasta and Dodger were 9 months old, both born here at our little farm.  I watched their births.  James and I had said if either of their mothers had boys we would neuter them, treat them as we do all the other spoiled goats and then when they were old enough James would take them to the butcher.  He did.  It's over and I thought I was done crying but as I type this it makes me sad all over again.  I know we can't keep all our goats and it's hard to sell cross breed boy goats.  Since we eat meat we thought we should do the responsible thing and raise our own in a humane manner, knowing they were comfortable and happy right up till the end of their lives.  It doesn't make it easier but I do feel ok about what we did.  If I can eat the meat, which I think I can, then we will do it again with some of this year's kids. 

When I got home I went out to the barn to be with the others.  They were all over me and I felt like I was back where I belonged.   After saying hello to me they went back to their browsing and I did something cathartic, shoveled manure.  I felt at peace.  Being a goat farmer isn't always easy but it's always worth it.
                                                                               Shasta and Dodger

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Christmas Tree

I finally finished decorating.  I went all out this year and actually put up a tree.  I put 14 ornaments on it.
I went out into our yard and found the perfect tree.  I'm pretty strong so I cut it down and carried it in all by myself.  It's beautiful, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An early Christmas

I got an early Christmas present today, a Food Saver.  I bought it to seal my cheeses in instead of waxing them.  This way I can see if there is mold growing on the cheese and it should also prevent molds from growing.  We'll also use it for freezing vegetables, fruit and meat next year without freezer burn.  It came with a canister you can vacuum the oxygen out of.  I put 3 bags of rice in it to see if it will solve our moth problem.  It's frustrating to open a back of rice or corn meal and find moths and webs.   Not only is it a cool tool, it's fun to use too.  I hope we're happy with it a year from now.
I haven't been able to make cheese lately since we're not getting much milk.  I've been making soap instead.  I made some liquid soap this week and it takes so much more time than bar soap.  I don't really understand the whole process either.  Mine turned out ok but it's a little runnier than I'd have liked.  Still, it was fun to make.

Since it's so cold out I'm trying to find things to do indoors.  When I was a kid my parents always gave me a craft for Christmas so I'd have something to do on Christmas day.  That was always my favorite gift.  I wanted something like that today.  I could only play with my Food Saver for so long  and we have enough soap to last at least 6 more months so I needed to think of something else to do.  I know it's not Easter but I thought coloring eggs might be fun and I could make Christmas ornaments out of them if they come out ok.  They're not done yet but I want to think some more about what I want to do with them.  Besides, if I finished them today I wouldn't have them to work on tomorrow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

First snow of the season

Our grass is just about covered and it's still snowing.  We're only expecting 1 to 3 inches.  That's perfect for a first snow.  Actually, it would be perfect if it was our last snow too.  Fat chance.  It really is pretty though.
I see Christmas lights going up here and there but, as always, you won't see much of a Christmas display at our house.  I thought about decorating this year (as I do every year) but I doubt you'll see more than a wreath on our front door.  I do love the holiday and today's snow puts me in a Christmasy mood.  I even broke out the Christmas sheet music and played some very bad guitar but it felt good anyway.  As I type this I'm playing an Amy Grant Christmas CD. 

James was sick today so he took naps and bundled up in blankets.  I turned the thermostat up to 60.  Here's a picture of him at his perkiest today.  I washed these coveralls and gave them to him right after they came out of the dryer so they were nice and toasty.
I didn't make the picture extra large because he commented on how messy his hair was.  He had toast for breakfast and chicken noodle soup for lunch but I'm cooking up a chicken now to make more chicken soup even though he already had some.  It just sounds good on a cold, snowy day like today.   Actually it's going to be rooster noodle soup, which makes me think of this.....

Does anyone reading this get the channel Planet Green?  On Dish Network it's channel 194, one of the Discovery channels.  We don't get it but I wish we did.  There's a show on there called The Fabulous Beekman Boys.  I've heard great things about this show and have watched every clip I can (there are at least 80 of them) since I can't watch a full episode.  I'm hoping one of my friends or my family will record this show so I can watch it sometime.  The show is about two gay guys who give up their careers and buy a farm to see if they can make it for a year.  One of them is a doctor and the other an author.  The doctor worked for Martha Stewart for a time and the author was previously a drag queen.  They're funny and really interesting.  Also living on their farm is Farmer John who brought his goats there to live.  Many of the episodes appear to be about the goats.  They're trying to live a sustainable lifestyle and I think it's great they've made a TV show about it.  Here's one of the clips that brings tears to my eyes but I think is so important for people like me (and probably all Americans) to see.    
If anyone has seen a whole episode let me know what you think of it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Turn up your volume because she's kind of quiet (Chy, not me).

I've been wanting to get her on video braying for a while and finally she did it on cue.  She does it a lot now that she's discovered how to get attention.  Yesterday she was full of herself and probably did it more than a dozen times.  Sometimes it sounds more like heehaw than others.  At times, when she's really loud, James says she sounds like a fog horn.  I'll try to get a louder one another day.  I need to carry my camera around more. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sam-I-Am will be pleased

Our 2 pullets who were born here in June have finally started laying eggs.  One of them started a few weeks ago and I was so disappointed to find she laid a brown egg like the rest of my hens.  I was told our rooster was an Araucana rooster, which is a blue egg laying breed (actually a crossbreed) so his genes crossed with my brown egg laying hens should produce a green egg layer.  I'd given up hope on these girls and figured I was going to have to purchase some blue egg layers this next spring if I wanted any colored eggs, but then today when I went out to check the nests I was surprised to find this very pale green egg.  It's hard to tell in the picture that it's green because it's so pale but take my word for it.

And here's the girl who laid it.
Now if only we had some ham.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Donkeys on the loose

Since I let the boys and girls out to roam the yard yesterday and today I thought it only fair to let Chy and Shiloh have their chance too.  I assumed when it was time to get them back in the fence they'd follow me with my bowl of sunflower seeds back to their barn.  Apparently the dark green grass and freedom won out over sunflower seeds.  They stayed out for more than 2 1/2 hours and only returned when they were ready.  Everyone is looking fat and happy tonight.  Shiloh was especially excited with his new found freedom. 

It started to get cold as the sun set so I left them out there alone.  Every now and then I'd look out a window to see where they were.  I looked out the front dining room window and there was Shiloh jumping on his mom's back.  It looks like he was doing something else but actually he was over her side.  He does that a lot.  Sometimes she walks with him like that and it's so funny to watch him walk sideways.
A while later I looked out again to find them by the outdoor kitchen.
Each time I looked out a window and didn't see them my heart would sink just a little.  I only had to look out another window to find them.  Like the side dining room window
The kitchen window.
After awhile it became funny.  Here's a look out the living room window.  Please ignore the dying orchids in the foreground.
And then here's the view out my den window that I see from my desk.
The sidelight of our front door.

The only place they didn't venture was our garden.  Most of their time was spent above the orchard.

Where the goats also loved exploring.  Or down below where Shiloh was running.
As you can see, I love my donkeys even though they have minds of their own. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Picture Day

Today was sunny and 50's but it was very windy and felt much cooler.  I'd post a picture of me dressed for winter (coveralls, hood, neck warmer) but there was no one to take my picture because James was doing his last long run before his Hellgate 100 run.  You'll just have to imagine me looking my best as I ventured out in this weather.  I know, how am I going to make it through winter if I find 50's so tough? 

The goat and donkey's pasture is pretty much stripped bare so today I let the girls out to graze in the lawn  for a few hours.  They didn't go very far even when I encouraged them to.  Here's a picture of them grazing along with the dogs who are trying to figure out what "this grazing thing" is.
I figured it was safe to go inside and eat lunch since no one was going to escape anytime soon.  Every now and then I'd look out the window and do a head count.  They must have gotten bored because when I went back outside they were playing hide-n-seek.  Fresca was doing the searching and everyone else was hiding in the same bush.  I don't think they were fooling anyone.
The whole while the girls were out the boys sunned themselves.  Here's Dodger, the goat-in-a-box.  He's our unicorn.
And then there's a goat-in-the-box and a goat-on-the-box with a donkey trying to get in-the-box.
Chy wasn't too shy about kissing my camera.
She and I seemed to have turned a corner.  Today I was brushing the boys and Chy came up to me and chewed my sleeve wanting to be brushed.  Of course I stopped brushing the boys and gave her a full brush down.  She loved it.  This was the first time she let me do that.  She used to be afraid of the brush.  Hmmm, milking might be right around the corner.  I don't think I'll hold my breath though. 

After the girls went in I let the boys out for a few hours.  They're much more adventurous and wander farther.
Thanks to them I got my rose bush pruned.
 I was surprised when they turned their noses up at the arugula.  That's what we're having for dinner.

I made soap yesterday and this morning it sliced very well.  I hope it comes out ok.  I won't know for at least a month.  This one has sage in it.  Today I ordered some essential oils to add fragrances to my soaps.  I haven't done that in the past.  I ordered Caribbean Coconut, Eucalyptus and Spearmint, and Almond and Honey.  I also ordered coconut oil, palm oil and shea butter.  It's hard to find these oils around here.

It's about time for me to call James for dinner, another variation-on-the-theme-of-turkey, turkey salad.  For lunch we had turkey sandwiches.  Last night we had turkey soup.  I may freeze the rest of the bird.
Happy day-after-Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Garden Treats

This afternoon I pulled up some pea plants that never made it to harvest and offered them to the goats and donkeys.  As you can see below, they were a hit.
We gave them some arugula too since we have so much.  Chy devoured that. 

It was another lovely, sunny day today so the chickens basked in the rays and made nests for dust baths.
They didn't look the least bit stressed about Thanksgiving.  Better a chicken than a turkey, though I read my sister-in-law was eating chicken tomorrow, not turkey.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NOW it's a greenhouse

A friend and I were talking this morning about feeling so fortunate that maybe we should worry because our luck might run out.  I've thought about that most of my adult life.  Can anyone be so lucky for so long?  I don't know if I'm doing something right or I'm lucky or charmed or blessed or .......?  This friend said someone once said to her not to say, "what did I do to deserve this?", but, "how much better can it get?"  I like that.

The reason I'm thinking about this today is because I had another one of those days that was just perfect.  The same friend I mentioned (a new friend/neighbor) came over and milked my goats with me.  We hung out a while, still getting to know each other and talking about what we love - animals, and yeah, some other girl talk.  I'm happy to know there's someone nearby who could milk my goats when I'm in a fix or want to leave town and shares my affection for goats.

Later another friend came over and helped me and James put the plastic on the greenhouse.   Susan had a greenhouse of her own a while back and is a "can do" kind of person so we couldn't have asked for better help.  The 3 of us tried to figure out how we were going to get the plastic from one side of this huge (to me) greenhouse to the other side and James came up with the idea of using poles with towels wrapped around them to attach to the plastic so we could reach the top and pull it over.  I wish we had a video of us doing this but at this point there were only 3 of us and we needed all our hands.  Here are the poles.  Of course duct tape played a big part too.
There came a point when we needed even more hands to help us get the plastic tight.  That's where Adam and his friend, Garrett, came in.  To put this greenhouse covering on we really needed 5 people.  From here on out it was smooth sailing.

I think it looks really great.  I can't wait to see what James grows in it.

Spending a day with James, Adam and our friends doing something really cool.......seriously, how much better can it get?