Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's all Craig's fault

I have no idea who Craig is but his list is going to turn our little farm into a junkyard.  By now James should know to run and hide when he sees me carrying my laptop to him saying, "look at this".   Two nights ago I checked the free section on the Roanoke Craigslist.  Hmmm, very interesting.  I sat at my desk for a while studying the pictures wondering if I should take it upstairs to show James.   I wasn't sure what I was thinking about it anyway.  I just wanted to see what he thought.  He said, "email the guy and ask him..........."  So I did.  The guy got back to me yesterday morning and told me he had 33 responses to the ad so far and whoever could remove it from his property first could have it.  We jumped in the car and were there in less than an hour.  Two young guys were looking at it but then walked away to go look at a smaller one the man had available.  It was a mess, a mess that looked like a fun project to me, and you know how I like a new project.  We called a friend of ours who owns a flatbed tow truck and asked him if he could get this to our house.  He said he could do it the next morning (today).  We told the owner we'd like it but couldn't get it till today.  He was ready to say no until James asked if we gave him $50.00 would he hold it for us.  Ok, so it wasn't really free afterall but still with the $50.00 and the towing it was still worth it for the thrill.  I've always wanted a little cabin down by the river so once we fix this up we'll have one.  It kind of reminds me of our house when we fist bought it. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

My first homemade butter

This entry is for all my dairy goat friends.  Maybe you already knew about this and if you did why didn't you tell me?!!!!!  Today I did an experiment.  I put one quart of raw whole goat's milk in my food processor and spun it for 30 minutes on low speed.  To my amazement butter rose to the top.  All this time I thought I had to buy an outrageously expensive cream separator so I could have butter.   I've seen cream separators that sell for $2,300.00 and hand cranked ones for $300.00  If you're going to do this make sure you don't fill the food processor container to the top because the milk foams and expands and will overflow.  You'll know when it's done because it shrinks back down.  I strained the milk (now lowfat) through cheese cloth, put the butter back in the food processor and spun it again to remove more liquid, added just a little salt and it was perfect.  When I was stirring the salt into the butter a little more milk came out.  It is really delicious.  I couldn't believe it worked.  If you haven't already done this please try it and let me know how it comes out.  One quart of milk makes about 1/3 cup of butter.  So now I don't have to buy milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, soap, ice cream, pudding or butter thanks to my goats and chickens. For now my ducks are freeloaders like the dogs and parrot.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sympathy pregnancy

You know how some men experience sympathy pregnancy while their wife is pregnant?  They gain weight, have mood swings, back pain or nausea.  Well, I think hanging out with 4 pregnant goats has given me sympathy pregnancy symptoms.   Not mood swings, nausea or anything like that though it may be a good excuse for my weight gain.  The symptom I'm having is food cravings.  I've never before in my life craved cabbage or calamata olives.  Not at the same time but that might be interesting too now that I think about it.  I can't think of any other explanation why I'd want these two foods except, oh my gosh, maybe I AM pregnant!  Just kidding. That would be some kind of 47th birthday gift huh?
Take a look at this picture and tell me you don't feel some sympathy.  Once she gets in the boat she can barely get back out. She's not due for 2 more weeks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm blushing (not really, but my head has grown two sizes bigger)

Ok, I said today's blog entry was going to be wayyyyy better than usual.  I know you're thinking, we'll see about that. 

I did have an eventful day, some good, some bad.  I won't go into the bad too much except to say that I'm glad I stay home during the days and am available to help when friends need me.  A good friend of mine is at the hospital tonight and could use a few prayers. When I received the phone call this morning I thought, be careful what you wish for, since I mentioned yesterday that my life is uneventful. 

On to something more upbeat.  Let's talk about me.  I can just hear my parents and husband groaning right about now.  If my son would even read my blog he'd be embarrassed to read any further.  My birthday is this Friday.  If you want to know where to mail the gifts please send me a comment with your email address and I'll email you my home address.  And, thanks in advance.

My sister-in-law gave me the greatest birthday gift today.  The greatest gift anyone can give a person, a compliment.  Her blog entry was about me.  Thank you Mary.  I love you too.  It's interesting how someone else views my life.  After reading her blog I wanted to be me too.  Whenever I'm feeling blue I should call Mary and let her remind me how great I have it.  Mary's blog is listed as one of my favorites on here, called Life From A Slightly Skewed Perspective.  Keep in mind the "slightly skewed" part while reading what she wrote about me.  Here it is. 

My sister-in-law recently commented on her blog that her life must seem boring to those who read about it. I think she’s dead wrong. If only she knew how often I read her blog not just because she’s my beloved sister-in-law, but because I need to be entertained. Not a blog goes by that doesn’t get at least one laugh or “awwwwwwwww” out of me.
Her life usually sounds so much more fun than mine. Quite honestly, I’d much prefer gathering fresh eggs and checking goats’ butts to see if they’re ready to give birth than to sit at a desk all day long, trying to convince a student that chemistry will be a piece of cake and prospective students that our programs are better than the other ones. Which they are but that’s a whole other blog.
Anyway, back to the goats’ butts. She has four female (duh) goats that are pregnant. One has two due dates because she has an overactive male goat who managed to entice the female goat twice and therefore, doesn’t know when she got pregnant.
I can understand why she gets excited about the births of the baby goats. Have you ever seen baby goats in action? They look like those tiny wind-up dogs that jump up and down. Truly. If you don’t believe me, check out this video:
Living a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway in a valley near Natural Bridge, VA., sounds eons more interesting that living in northwest Ohio where the nearest mountain — often covered with fake snow — is more like a hill in Virginia. She hops out of bed in her revived pre-Civil War farmhouse (which she renovated almost singlehandedly), and looks out the window from which she can see the James River. Which, by the way, their property fronts and on which they can kayak, canoe, tube and fish whenever they want. Well, almost whenever.
Then there’s that outdoor bread oven. And the pizza oven. Which she built and can now bake fresh bread outdoors any time she pleases. My bread machine can spit out some fairly decent loaves, but they don’t even begin to compare to hers.
Oh yeah, and then there’s that garden. Which is not technically her area — it’s my brother’s — but she gets to cook whatever he picks during the growing season and/or has preserved for the winter months. What they don’t grow or raise, they often get in gifts from neighbors…like fresh venison or fish.
Did I mention the goat cheese she makes? I want to learn to make goat cheese but since I have no goats I’ll just settle for the supply she sends me. And the goat’s milk soap? She must have finally tired of my ranting about how much I wished I could learn to make goat’s milk soap, because she sent me a supply for Christmas. Every time I take a shower, I think of moving to that farm and making my own soap.
I could probably go on all day, but my phone’s ringing. Gotta go. Oh, if you want to read more my sister-in-law’s “boring life” (her words, not mine), check out

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Interesting blogs

When you blog you realize how boring your life might seem to others.  Sometimes during the day I think, what can I blog about today?  Most of my days are uneventful and uninteresting.  Today a friend of mine sent me a link to another blog that I loved,  It made me think that I should re-think this whole blog-writing thing.  This woman's blog is so creative.  Of course she writes for a living so I shouldn't even compare my blog to hers, right?  Even her animals are funnier than mine. 

Here's what I did today.
1.  Milked and fed goats.
2.  Checked all the pregnant goat's butts to see if they might go into labor today.
3.  Had 2 friends over for lunch, sat around and talked (which was interesting to me but maybe not to you).
4.  Went outside to check all the pregnant goat's butts to see if they were any closer to having babies.
5.  Went for a walk with James, stopped to talk to neighbors.
6.  Went back to the barn to check on the goats for signs of labor again. 
7.  Filled everyone's water buckets.
8.  Fixed dinner
9.  Blogged

  See?  Not funny or entertaining.  Just wait till tomorrow.  Tomorrow's blog will be great.
Nothing like setting myself up for failure. 
Anyway, enjoy that other blog.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


How old can you be and still be called a tomboy?  Maybe that's not really the right word but I can't think of a better one.  I posted the pictures of James in his tux on Facebook which prompted a discussion about men having it easy when getting dressed for formal occasions while women have to dig through their closets to find something that looks good or at least appropriate.   My sister-in-law, another friend and I commented that women should also have a uniform of sorts, something we grab from our closet like men do when they have a formal occasion.  I suggested it be something we could wear boots or sneakers with, formal sneakers of course.  I know most of us look nicer when we're dressed up than in our everyday sloppies but I almost  always choose comfort over class.   I once saw an interview with Dolly Parton and in the interview she said she wore makeup, did her hair and dressed nice every day because she wanted to be beautiful for her husband because he deserved it.  Sorry James.

It's funny how women can wear flannel shirts, baggy jeans and like to get dirty and stuff and be called a tomboy or a slob but if a man dresses in women's clothes he's a cross-dresser. Are there men out there who hate to have to wear the tux and would rather make up their own outfit for formal events?

It's not often we're invited to black tie occasions so I guess I can stand to wear a sleek black dress, nice shoes and try to look beautiful for just those few times.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A man in tuxedo

Why is it men look so handsome in tuxedos?  James wears a tux maybe 8 times a year for his chorus and symphony concerts.   I'll never get tired of seeing him in it.  I took these pictures for the orchestra's publicity poster and possibly the paper too.  His concert is 2 weeks from tomorrow.  I wish everyone reading this could see him perform. It's going to be awesome (says a proud wife).  He cleans up pretty well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On Goat Watch

I never would have thought I'd stare at a goat's butt so much.  I can't help myself.  Today is Luti's due date, or at least I think it is.  I have two due dates, today and March 10th.  She let the buck breed her twice so I'm not really sure.  Anyone with goats or anyone who breeds animals knows what it's like to wait for the birth of the babies.  I go out to the barn every few hours and try to get a look at her udder or vulva.  Am I allowed to say vulva on a blog?  I've even taken pictures every now and then so I can compare swelling.  You may think I'm sick or weird but everyone on the goat forum I read does the same thing.  They post the craziest photos.  One of the favorite threads seems to be when someone is on goat watch.  They post a picture of their goat who is due to "freshen" (that means give birth in the goat world) and ask people to guess the due date and how many and what gender the kids will be.  They get many replies to this and then when the goat kids or freshens they're expected to post pictures of the babies.

Since I can see the goats from where I sit at my computer I can watch to see if Luti is pawing the ground, stretching, getting up and down or acting strange.  I've learned a lot from the last two goats who had babies here.  I know how to check to see if the ligaments near the tail have softened or disappeared and what color the mucus should be when birthing is imminent.  It's very cold and breezy here today so I hope she doesn't have the babies tonight.  I want her to wait for a 40-something degree day when the sun is shining.
Here's a picture of Luti from behind.  Anyone want to guess when, what and how many?
 Sorry, I couldn't get her to lift her tail.  She's very modest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Noosie came home

Three and a half days ago my hen, Noosie, disappeared.  I assumed a fox got her because I saw tracks around the chicken coop.  Today around Noon I came home and Noosie greeted me in the driveway.  I have no idea where she's been all this time.  It took her quite a while till she decided she wanted to go back into the fence with the other chickens.  I wonder if she'll hang around now.

Shearing a sheep

Today my friend, Susan, and I drove almost 2 hours to watch a man blade shear someone else's sheep.  He had been in our county a week or 2 ago but we missed him.  We were told he'd be 2 hours north of here so we drove to this stranger's house who welcomed us with open arms, thank goodness, because we arrived 2 hours before the sheep shearer.  The kind lady and her family entertained us for those 2 hours.  I think we met just about every animal on their farm, all 30 (?) of them.  The granddaughter of the woman with the sheep carried in many of the animals one by one to show us.  We met her angora rabbits, chickens, dogs, sheep and goats.  There were other animals that we looked at from afar.

Anyway, the sheep shearer was a man of few words.  He was an Irishman who now lives in Massahusetts and travels all over shearing other people's sheep for $10.00 a sheep.  Once you watch this video I've attached of him doing it you'll wonder why in the world he charges so little.  He drove 4 to 5 hours to get to this woman's farm and only got about $80.00 out of it.  He does all the shearing with blade shears, not electric ones.  The usable fleece comes off in one giant piece.  At one point in the video it looks like the sheep is lying on a rug made out of its own fleece.  The sheep only move as the man throws them about.  It's kind of scary to watch because he comes so close to their eyes and private parts with those sharp blades and doesn't blink an eye.  Susan and I thought we'd be able to do this to her sheep.  That's why we went to watch.  Now I'm not so sure.  It looks like really hard work and a skill that may take years to learn.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A walk with my valentine

James and I don't usually do a whole lot to celebrate Valentine's Day.  I almost always make a heart-shaped cake.  I know it's corny but I have these heart-shaped cake pans and when else would I use them?  We wanted to go on a hike together but since there's so much snow in the woods we decided to stick to the roads.  We walk together just about every other day so we decided, to make it special we needed to go somewhere new.  We drove 3 1/2 miles and parked the car and walked.   I wish I had taken a camera because the icicles and snow along the roads had formed all kinds of sculptures.  One small icicle looked like a man climbing a rope.  Some dirty snow that had been plowed to the side of the road looked like a lizard.  It was like looking at the clouds and using my imagination.  I know, my blog would have been much more interesting if I'd taken pictures of these sculptures.  Instead you get to see my unimaginative cake.
As I was typing this a mosquito bit me on the eyebrow.  Does this mean warm weather is coming?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Footprints in the snow

Only 3 of my chickens had names.  Now only 2.  My favorite, Noosie, is missing in action and I think I know who/what the culprit is.  Every night when I go out to milk the goats I have to carry my rooster (who has no name), Noosie and Soosie to the coop because they'd rather roost in the barn.  Last night Noosie wasn't there.  I checked the coop to see if she finally figured it out and put herself to bed.  I didn't see her.  I thought for sure she'd show herself this morning and be her usual nuisance (hence the name Noosie).  She did this once before.  I walked along the edge of their fence and discovered footprints, small ones, similar to a dog's.  My guess is a fox jumped over our fence and got her.  There are no feathers, blood or any other evidence except the prints.  It looks like he walked around the back of the coop and then exited in a different place. 

The chickens have been putting themselves to bed early so I think tonight I'll shut them in long before I go back out to milk the goats.  Usually I milk at 8:00 and the chickens have been roosting for 2 to 3 hours before I close their door.  James has set a have-a-heart trap with some meat in it.  I'm not saying we're going to have much of a heart if we catch him.  We know people.  I'm afraid the trap might be too small for a fox but we'll see.  This is our first experience with predators.   Poor Noosie.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Yogi is my 13 year old African Grey Parrot who sits right behind me while I sit at my desk.  Most people who have met him have never heard him talk because he's shy around strangers.  He has a pretty big vocabulary and it's a shame he won't perform on command.  Today I set my camera on my desk pointed at him so you could hear what I hear.  It's an eight minute video and not terribly exciting but you'll get an idea of what it's like to sit at my computer.  In case you can't understand him some of the things he says on this video are "ya wanna go out?, gimme a kiss, do re mi fa soooooo, what color?  red, Yogi bird, sweet bird, see ya later" and all kinds of noises, squeaks, whistles, sneezes, coughs and sniffs.  I wish he would have said more.  He can count to 5, quack, meow, cluck, talk on the phone, call my son to dinner, scold the dogs and a few hundred other words or phrases.  He tends to repeat things again and again.  I've heard him say, "where are you?" at least 20 times in a row.   Sometimes it can be annoying and sometimes he can be very good company.  I don't know how well you'll hear it without speakers plugged into your computer.
If you want to see a very chatty African Grey watch Einstein on Youtube

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Electronic friends

I'm not talking about robots.  I'm talking about the friends we make, keep and reconnect with through the internet.  I just looked at my Facebook profile page and saw I now have 94 "friends".  Some are friends from high school, relatives, friends of friends and some are friends I see regularly, a few times a year or every 5 to 10 or more years.  I'm really enjoying reconnecting.  I also email many people and talk to complete strangers on different forums.   How did this happen?  Do most people with an internet connection communicate with 25, 50, 200 people a day/week?  Does it have to do with how much free time we have, how outgoing, how desperate, how popular, how shy, how curious, how much or little we know about the computer? I can't even answer that for myself.

My friend Virgil (a real friend, not just an electronic friend) emailed me and asked why I haven't updated my blog in 2 days.  I thought to myself, oh my gosh, I need to think of something to write about.   What if I miss a few days and people stop reading?  Then I'd just be keeping a journal for myself.  Would I keep doing it?  Probably not.  I wonder how I got so caught up in all this.

I feel like I should mention that I do enjoy seeing real people too.  I definitely choose "in person" any day but I'd hate to give up my e-friends.  Thanks for reading.  Virgil, I'll try to do better.

Friday, February 5, 2010

You might be a redneck if............

you build a snow plow out of an old wooden pallet and fence boards.  James and I took it for a trial run when there was only an inch or two of slush on the driveway to see if it would work.  Amazingly it did.   Take a close look at the thing that's sitting on top the pallet to add weight.  I bet you didn't guess it's a piece of granite that never made it to the cemetery.  No we didn't steal it.  My friend once brought me 3 broken tombstones but I hadn't found a use for them until yesterday.  I debated whether to put this video on here or not because you'll hear me yelling to James to do this or that.  Not so unusual really but I don't like other people to hear me doing it.  What you can't hear is him asking me questions from the truck.  We're both pretty pleased with how well it worked out.  When we reached the end of the driveway James drove it down the road to our field to turn around.  I was afraid the rope would break and the plow would be sitting in the middle of the road.  I also wondered what a cop might do if he saw us.  The picture above is us making it safely back home.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

An experiment with apple cider vinegars

Are you tired of me talking about apple cider vinegar yet?  Tough, it's my blog.  As I mentioned in some earlier posts, first I lost 10 lbs and gave the credit to organic apple cider vinegar with the mother in it.  Then more recently I told you I gained weight so I didn't think this potion was working.  Today I looked at the 2 different brands of ACV  we had in our cabinet and realized the cheaper one, Spectrum Naturals,  we switched over to looked clearer than the more expensive one, Bragg.  I weighed myself this morning, GASP!  I'm switching back to Bragg, the one we used in the very beginning to see if I lose the weight again and I'll tell you if it makes a difference.  I'll weigh myself again in 1 month and report back here because I know you'll all be holding your breath awaiting the results.