Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eggstra messy

We're getting lots of snow again today.  James shoveled paths to the goats before I milked this morning.  All bundled up in my nice clean coat I just washed, I headed to the barn and took care of business.  All was well.  I came inside, stood at the sink and filtered the milk.  My male dog, Lex, kept licking my leg.  At first I ignored him.  Then I yelled at him to stop it because my pants were getting wetter and I didn't want to get cold when I went back outside.  I thought he was getting carried away licking snow off me.  Later I took off my coat and saw that my pants weren't just wet but they were sticky.  The right side of my coat was sticky as well.  It didn't take long for me to realize what it was.  Sometimes when I'm gathering eggs I get preoccupied and find other things that need to be done.  Yesterday I put 2 eggs in my coat pocket.  I do it all the time.  Yup, smart move.  I'd like to say I learned my lesson but I know myself better than that.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Another first time milker

I decided it was time to start milking my new mini lamancha doe, Flower, today.  I was a bit anxious about it because, 1) she's a nervous goat to begin with and isn't crazy about me handling her too much,  2)  it means I have to separate her from her baby during the night and it makes me feel bad, and 3) I was afraid it would be horrible like the first few times (ok, many times) with Strawberry and Polly. 

Flower cried like crazy last night when I put Sprint in a large crate for the night.  First I put her in a stall but she could leap so high I knew she wouldn't stay in there for long.  She reminds me a lot of Clifford, a boy baby from last summer.  I worried that all her crying may attract coyotes which I keep thinking I hear at night up in the mountains.  It could be dogs but still I worry.  All was well this morning when I went out to milk. 

Milking her went way better than I expected.  She's very motivated by food so she jumped right up on the milking stand and put her head through the stanchion.  When I started to milk her she sat down so James had to hold her back legs up in the air which wasn't a problem because she's so tiny and weighs next to nothing compared to Strawberry who used to do the same thing.  She was perfectly content to have her back end up in the air while I was milking as long as there was food in front of her.  I finished milking her and she put her feet back down and stood.  She and Sprint were reunited and everyone was happy.  I kept her milk separate from Pollys so I can do a taste comparison.  I have two more first-timers who will have to be trained to the milk stand in the next few months.  I will be a happy milkmaid  when I have 5 milkers who know the routine.

I want to add something to my last post.  I was only kidding about giving me gifts.  I don't know if my neighbor read that post or not but this morning I received a gift of a bunch of baby artichokes. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Accepting gifts graciously

I love getting presents.  Who doesn't?  It's different though, to get a present for your birthday vs. getting a present just because someone wants to give you something out of the goodness of their heart.  Those are the harder gifts to accept graciously.  I always feel obligated to give something in return or say, "are you sure?  You don't have to do that".  As I get older I think I'm getting better at it.  This week I received a few gifts "just because".   The first one was venison.  My good friend and neighbor brought me some great venison.  That was an easy one to say thank you to without arguing.  This weekend we called a friend to wish her a happy birthday and she invited us over to have a bite to eat.  I left with a gift bag.  I know, it was her birthday and I came home with a gift.  Crazy huh?  Earlier in the week I went to a friend's house to return an apron I had borrowed for my Julie and Julia dinner a few weeks ago.  She sent me home with chocolate cake for both me and James.  Again, not hard to accept.  She loves to cook and I love to eat.  Two days ago I walked to an 89 year old woman's house, who I play Scrabble with every now and then, to return a book she had loaned me.  We talked about all the rain we'd gotten and how messy my goats' pen was.  She sent me home with a pair of her rubber boots she'd had for 30 years.  They were perfect.  I asked her, "are you sure?" but I didn't put up too much of a fight because I know she wanted me to have them. 

Not only do I love to get gifts but I love giving them.  It's so much more fun when the receiver is excited and accepts the offering willingly.  I think it's important to keep that in mind when it's offered to me.  If any of you has a gift to give me I'm going to be so appreciative of it and accept it willingly.  So don't hold back.  My birthday is in 30 days but you don't have to wait till then.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Continued from yesterday

Today I made mozzarella and ricotta cheeses again and I think, how cool is it that I can go out in my yard, get some milk and then make cheese?  Then I think about how expensive that cheese is.  I keep receipts in a notebook so I can see how much I spend on food and other stuff for the goats.  They're certainly not paying their way, unless you consider how much joy they bring to my life and maybe, just maybe, if I didn't have them I'd be sad and depressed and have to take depression medications, and think how expensive that could be.  So I'm probably saving us lots of money having goats.  You may say that's quite a stretch since I didn't take antidepressants before I got goats but you just never know about the future.  Recently I've checked out several library books on farming.  When I feel guilty about James working so hard to make a living for us while I'm out frolicking with the animals I think I should be able to find a way to earn some money from our "farm".  I'm good at raising animals, building barns and things, making cheese etc.  The problem is I know nothing about marketing.  Our sophomore-in-college-son said recently that he just now realized that he's going to have to start working harder at school because things weren't going to just fall in his lap like they always have.  He's always felt like things would always work out for him and that he'd just get lucky.  Well, I've felt the same way.  I've always been lucky and lived a pretty charmed life.  When I started my business in NC as a personal trainer I got one client and then all it took was word of mouth and things took off.  I wish it could be like that with farming.  It would be nice if I could tell one person I was raising turkeys to sell and they'd tell 2 friends and so on, and so on until there was more demand than I expected.  I don't think it works that way when you live in a rural area.  Not enough people.

In the past 2 or 3 weeks two young women in their 20's have shown an interest in my raising goats and making cheese.  They both said the same thing, "I want to do what you're doing".  One of them just recently graduated from college and the other graduates in 4 months.  I'm sure their parents would be a little disappointed, after paying tuition all those years, if their daughters wanted to play with goats and chickens and cook.  Hopefully they took some business and marketing classes and are more assertive than I.

I'm not giving up though.  I'm still a wannabe farmer.  Would anyone like to buy a turkey?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where it all started

I rode the bus to school.  So what, you say.  Well, so I got to see where many of my classmates lived.  As I recall my bus ride was 30 or 40 minutes long so I saw quite a bit of the countryside.  Two of the kids who rode my bus, I think they were twins, lived on a farm just up the road from my grandparents.  I remember thinking they were poor, or at least lived in a run-down house.  I wonder what I'd think if I saw that same house today.  The farm is no longer there.  It's been replaced by a country estate, or at least the house has been rebuilt and added on to.  I can't remember.  Anyway, I remember cows and chickens, at least one small pond and barns that were in disrepair.  Did I feel sorry for the twins?  Nope.  I envied them living on a farm with animals, messy and all. 

When I was a little girl my Uncle Rick took me to their farm and put me on the back of a black angus named Casper.  I may be making this all up but I think it really happened.  Then I may have been 6.  Now I'm 46 so who knows what's really true.  It doesn't really matter because I have a fond memory of a day like that and that's all that matters.  

A few of my neighboring friends had horses.  Now I've never been all that excited about horses but I did like riding theirs and I thought it was so cool that they had a farm animal and barns.  Yes, I've always loved barns - beautiful barns, run down barns, big and small barns. 

One more memory and I'll finish.  I remember the smell of cow manure on the wind coming from a farm a mile up the road from us.  I liked that smell.  I still like that smell.  I didn't really know why I liked it but I think it was the smell of "country air".  Which reminds me of a joke I won't tell.  The punchline is "I love the smell of your dairy air".

Ok, just one more.  When I was about 20 I was driving down the road and saw a sign that said, Baby Goats, $50.00.  How could I resist?  Who could?  I stopped, I looked, I bought.  The farmer castrated him then and there and I took him home.  I told my parents it was a gift to them for Easter.  They didn't go for it.  I took it to my boyfriends' parents and they let me keep it there for a few days until I broke my parents down.  We had William for 1 year and then I had to get rid of him because I was moving into town where goats weren't allowed.  Boy did I cry.  Years later a friend used to ask me to tell the story about getting rid of William because she thought it was funny how I cried when I told it.  I knew one day I would have a goat again.  I didn't know I'd have 9 or more but I did know I'd have at least one.

I have more to say but I hate long blog entries so I'll end now.   To be continued.................I think.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Once again a winter in sweatpants

I mentioned much earlier in my blogging days that I found my panacea - Apple cider vinegar.  After drinking a concoction of ACV, warm water and honey for just a few short weeks I dropped 8 pounds.  I thought I had figured it all out.  I could eat whatever I wanted and I didn't gain weight.  It seemed too good to be true.....and it was.  Once again the winter fats have struck.  My jeans are tight and I've dug through my closet for all my most comfy, stretchy sweats.  Years ago I said something to our dentist in NC about wearing sweats and he said, "oh yeah, and we husbands just LOVE seeing our wives in sweat pants".  Somehow I knew he didn't mean that.  It could have been the way he rolled his eyes.  So what am I doing about it?  Nothing really.  I'm continuing to drink my not-so-magic potion every night and morning, hoping it will kick back in and I'll become my svelte self again.  I'm sure the handful of chocolate chips I had after dinner won't help.  Not chocolate chip cookies, a handful of chocolate chips, straight from the bag.  Yes, I've stooped that low.  Don't tell me you've never done that.

What is it about winter that brings out the hungries in us?  Okay, another limerick.  Why?  Because limericks are fun.  Once you start you keep trying to think of more.  They're addictive like potato chips and goats.

The snow may be piled in mounds
and it's made such a mess of the grounds
I sit in my house
and shove food in my mouth
then come spring I have put on 10 pounds

I'm sure once I click "publish post" I'll come up with a better one.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A limerick

There once was a bird named Nate
Who had plenty of hens to mate
Twas a beautiful living
But then come Thanksgiving
Alas, ended up on my plate

Guess what I ordered today.  There will be 20 of them delivered to our post office the first week of April.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure.

Two passengers set sail that day for a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour.

Meet Gilligan, Skipper, Mary Ann, and Ginger.  Ginger, of course, is the one with the fancy hat.

They spend so much time in this little shipwrecked paddle boat I decided these names fit as well as any others.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Every blogger wants to know

Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think so.  I'm guessing every blogger wants to know who reads their blog.  I've had a few comments from people I don't know so it makes me wonder who's out there reading all my silliness.  I started out doing this blogging exercise to see if I can keep a journal and because a few people told me I should.  Now, like Julie in Julie and Julia, I get excited if I get a new follower or a comment from someone I don't know, and I want to thank those of you who leave comments.  It makes my day.

This morning some friends were here to help me trim hooves and they complimented me on my blog.  I'm sure they were just being polite, but still.......  I choose friends who make me feel good about myself.  You ought to try it.  I told one of the friends she should become one of my disciples, I mean followers.  She didn't know what I meant or how to become one.   I told her to look at the top left hand side of my blog where it says "follow" and click on it.  It's very simple.  I don't want to sound desperate (though maybe I am) but if you read my blog regularly "won't you be my neighbor", I mean follower?  I'll pay you.  No, just kidding.  I'm not that desperate.  Also, if you haven't figured out how to leave a comment, click on comment and if you can't figure out how to enter your name (because that can be kind of confusing on here) click on anonymous but then sign your name at the end of the comment so I know who you are.  Another thing, if you keep a blog and want me to see it, post a comment on mine giving me a link to your blog.  I love reading other blogs.  I stumble upon lots of strangers blogs that I enjoy.  Blog on.

Edit to say:  I've been informed the follow button isn't in the top left of other people's screen.  It's on the bottom right, above the followers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Girls can be tough

Today I disbudded (burned the horn buds off) Sprint. She was 2 weeks old today and her horns were just coming in. That seemed a little late to me but she's just a tiny thing. James held her and I shaved her head around the horns. I don't think she made more than one small peep while I shaved. I've done this to 3 little boy kids and they all screamed. I was hoping this was a good sign of things to come. When the iron was hot I burned her horn buds off. It has gotten easier each goat baby I do but it still makes me a little nervous. What a trooper Sprint was. She cried for a bit but nothing like you'd think a little goat would when a hot iron was burning her head. When we put her back in the fence with the others she ran to her mom but then found something else more interesting to chew on. You'd never know she'd just gone through some trauma. That's my girl.

Monday, January 18, 2010

An early birthday present

Today I brought home 3 mini lamancha goats.  They're a cross between a lamancha and a nigerian dwarf.  The 2 eight month olds are sisters and the baby is just one week old.  Her name is Sprint.  After you see the video you'll see how I got that name.  Her mama is Flower and her aunt is Poppy.  Poppy is also expecting but I don't know when.  Both were unplanned pregnancies.  As you can see they have tiny little ears which they get from the lamancha side.  I'm hoping we get the dairy qualities of the lamancha and the size of the nigerian dwarf.  I will start milking Flower once a day in a few more weeks. 
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Mini Manchas
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Need help naming my ducks

My ducks arrived today, 2 girls and 2 boys.  The boys are the ones with the darker heads.   My friend, Gail, gave them to me.  Gail is the one I got my first 2 goats from.  I have remained in contact with everyone I bought goats from or sold goats to.  Like me, Gail loves animals.  She drove 2 hours to deliver these Indian Runner ducks to me.  She was meeting someone else nearby to pick up a bassett hound rescue that she will foster.  She will now have 15 dogs. Yikes!  She also has 2 pregnant donkeys, maybe 5 or 6 goats, cats, chickens and ducks.  Since I don't plan to eat the ducks and there are only 4 of them I feel like I should name them.  Look at the one girl with the pom pom on her head.  James thinks I should name her Menno because he thinks she looks like a Mennonite with her head covering.  I think she should have a fancier name since she looks so fancy.  So far they haven't gone into their house, only under it.  I hope no predators get them since I can't shut them up at night like I do the chickens.

Ducks are great foragers and we're hoping they'll keep the slugs and other bugs off our plants in the garden this summer.  They shouldn't be as destructive as chickens.

Does anyone have any suggestions for names?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yeah Baby

I just got our furnace back running and I always feel so good when I figure out something new.  This morning when we got up the house felt a little cooler than usual so I checked the thermostat.  Hmmm, 56 degrees.  We keep our house cool but not that cool.  We assumed our 1940's furnace needed some attention but that wasn't the case.  We were out of oil.  That's never happened to us before.  I guess all this cold weather has even gotten the best of our oil tank, all 500 gallons of its contents.  Yes, it was a big bill when the guys came out to fill it.  James pressed the reset button on the furnace but it didn't start.  When I got home I did the same because, of course I could do it better.  It still didn't start.  I got a flashlight, took doors off and removed a cover here and there and  I still couldn't find any way to start it.  I called our friend Jimmy.  He's a heating and air guy.  I told him what happened.  He told me I had to bleed the line to the furnace.  I Googled "bleeding a line to an oil furnace" and it described what I was to look for.  I got my wrench, pan and rag to catch the oil.  I loosened the nut, pressed the furnace restart button and the air blew out and oil started spraying.  I closed it back up and TaDa! the furnace was running.  So, Yeah Baby!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm weak

I cut into my first hard cheese today.  It was Farmhouse Cheddar.  The directions said let age at least 4 weeks.  I waited 6 weeks.  I had planned on waiting longer but I wanted to know if it was any good and worth making again.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I think next time I'll use less salt.  It was a little salty but still pretty tasty.  I wonder if it needs all that salt to preserve it and if it would taste less salty if it aged longer.  My neighbor and James both said it was really good.  I put more wax on the piece of cheese I'm saving and will try it again in a few months (I think).

Today I'm making Derby cheese.  It's supposed to be like a cheddar cheese with a higher moisture content.  It says to let it age 3 months.

Edit:  Adam didn't like it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A picture paints a thousand words

It wasn't as hard as I thought.  Adam helped.  James didn't watch. 

To my family - No I didn't cry.  I didn't even feel that bad, probably because he attacked me yesterday. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Too much rest on the day of rest

It was 10 degrees when I got up this morning.  A little girl and her dad came to watch me milk the goats.  Of all days to choose.  Poor little girl had to take her gloves off when I asked her if she wanted to help milk.  I think she liked it though.  I hope her dad got a good picture.  After they left and I finished my morning chores (which I don't really think of as chores.  I just don't know what else to call them) I sat around doing very little.  I checked all my usual websites, emails and read bits and pieces of some farming books I got from the library.  I watched some videos on how to build a desk.  The speaker was very dry but still I learned something.  I was feeling kind of bored.  I don't usually get bored.  I hate even to use that word.  This cold and snow is keeping me indoors more and I hate it.  When James got home we went for a walk.  The sun was out and it felt so much warmer.  I felt better too so I put the metal roof on the chicken coop I recently acquired and took the goats for a walk around their pasture. 

Yes, I'm thankful for free time and to be able to rest when I want but too much rest can make a body lazy and cranky. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth"

I've always thought of myself as a team player but now I'm rethinking that.  My two friends, who I went to see Julie and Julia with, their daughters and I are making dinner together (kind of) tomorrow night.  We've talked about the 3 of us doing this regularly and it sounded like a good idea right after the movie.  After I sat on it a while I thought, what was I thinking?  I hate sharing my kitchen.  I know, that sounds selfish doesn't it?  I love when friends sit in my kitchen and keep me company but I want them to sit there, drink some wine and talk, not help me cook.  Of course they're welcome to set the table or fix drinks.  That's not the same as them asking, "where's a sharp knife?" or "how big do you want me to cut these?" or "what else can I do?" or "do you think that's enough?"  Maybe I feel this way because I've always had a small kitchen and there's not enough room.  Maybe it's because I'm a control freak.  No, that can't be it.  Or maybe it could.

So, about this dinner.  It's not at my house so it'll be fun I think.  We're not doing it like we originally thought.  This meal was their 9th grade daughter's idea so we're doing what they chose.  We're each in charge of 2 courses.  Mine are bread and a starch.  I'll make mine at home and take it there or maybe finish them off at their house.  I'm going to try really hard not to be annoying in Laura's kitchen.  If they want me to sit at the bar, drink a glass of wine and talk I'll be perfectly happy to do that too.

I should add, if you come to my house for dinner I promise I won't get mad if you clean up the kitchen. You can hardly spoil dishwater.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Webcams and baby goats

or this one     She keeps switching back between the 2.

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before how I read a goat forum pretty regularly.  One of the women on the forum has a webcam in a stall with her goat Ruthie that is getting close to kidding.  She doesn't now the due date so she's just going by appearances.  Above is the link where you can watch her.  I check in every now and then to see if she's getting closer to delivery.  It's pretty cool.  Every now and then Ruthie stands up and looks at the camera so you get a close up of her face.  It's funny.  Since you can't see my baby goats being born, maybe you'd like to watch someone elses.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The dog days of winter and not-so-little boys.

Oh, how I love the dog days of summer.  One of my dogs has been lying on the daybed for a few hours since I wrapped him up in blankets.  The other one is curled up on a couch in the room with the woodstove.  I think they're quite content.  They, like me, hate the very cold temperatures we're getting. 

My 19 year old son and his friend, on the other hand, have been out in this cold for hours.  I don't know how they can stand it.  Ever since they discovered snow tubing they can't seem to tear themselves away.  It's funny how I often think, I wish he'd just grow up.  And then now, I'm happy to see him acting like a little boy again.  I know, make up my mind.

Only 76 days till Spring.  And counting.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sledding in the new year

All I wanted for Christmas was for our snow to melt.....that is, until today.  Ok, I still want it to melt but sledding was fun anyway even if I only did it a couple times.

Today we returned home from PA after spending New Years with my family.  I don't think our son was home more than 15 minutes before he and his friend headed to our field with some tubes we usually use for tubing on the river.  Our phone rang and it was them telling us the sledding was amazing and we should come try it.  "Oh, and could you bring us some gloves?"  Yes, they went sledding in 25 degree weather without gloves.  We have about 5 inches of snow left and it's hard enough that we walk on top of it - perfect tube sledding snow.  I took the camera and took a few pictures and videos.  The videos came out really blurry.  I don't know why.  Here's the one of 3 of us going down on one tube.  Yes, I exaggerated at the end about us getting close to the river.  Also, I talk and scream too much.  I think you have to click on the link because the video picture below doesn't seem to work and I can't figure out how to delete it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010

Almost every year around new years (probably every year) my husband and I sit in our hot tub and review the past year and all we did.  Then we wonder about what this new year will bring.  I love doing this and I always have high hopes for the new year.  I've never been let down.  One thing we rarely do is make new year's resolutions, not out loud anyway.  This year I'm going to make one. 

Sometimes it takes a tragedy in our lives to make us appreciate how fortunate we are, how loved, how lucky.  I think September 11 changed many American's lives.  So does losing a loved one or the pending death or an illness of a family member or yourself.  Our world can be turned upside down in an instant.  That's why my new year's resolution is to say "I love you" more often, to try to be more considerate and patient, to reflect more often on how much I have and to pray more.  That's it.  Those are easy things to do, a lot easier than losing 10 lbs.