Sunday, June 30, 2013

I love my life

I wonder if this has been a heading for a previous post.  It seems like it should have been because I feel this way a lot.  Yesterday was an especially good day though. 

After cleaning wheat (me) and weeding the garden, picking vegetables and canning (James), we were invited to go up in our neighbor's plane.  Thank you Don and Bailey.   I thought I might be nervous about it but I wasn't at all.  It was very relaxing and beautiful.  James posted some pictures on his blog  I used my phone so my pictures weren't as good.  Here's one of our farm.

And another from higher up.

That wasn't the end of a great day.  We quickly ate dinner then did something we hadn't done in a long time; we took an evening paddle up river.  It was just getting dark when we slipped our kayaks in the glassy river.  The weather and water were perfect.  There was no bright moon but we didn't need it.  Our neighbors had told us some folks were camping on their property that night and might be playing music so we stopped at their place hoping to hear guitars or banjos but instead a car radio was playing.  We were greeted at their rocky beach by one of the campers who invited us up to join them. 

Next we met Benny.   Benny was a friendly chatty guy and either he or the guy who we first met on the beach soon handed us an ice cold quart jar of moonshine which was very tasty and we all took turns handing it back and forth.    I told them we were expecting live music because we heard they were musicians.  Benny hollered, "hey, the lady wants to hear some music".   Minutes later a few folks were playing guitar and singing.  We didn't stay much longer because the lightening was getting closer and closer.

I don't know if it was the moonshine or just my good mood but I didn't feel at all nervous paddling back with the lightening  flashing the whole way.    As I recall I said to James something like, "it's ok if I die tonight".   That's how happy I was feeling.  We're so lucky to have the James River in our front yard and I'm so lucky to have a husband who likes to play with me. 

Now that it's a new day I'll admit I'm glad I didn't die last night :)  I'd hate to miss out on more days like yesterday. 


Cleaning wheat is faster this year

James planted way more wheat this year than he has in the past.  While I was excited to have so much, I kept looking at it feeling just a bit overwhelmed when I thought about harvesting it.  Today I decided to jump right in.  I was afraid it might get too dry and drop to the ground if I waited too long.  I wish I could have recorded the sound of the wheat crackling in the garden; kind of like Rice Krispies with milk on them.   I don't know what causes it to make that noise but it's pretty neat.

In past years you may remember we put the cut wheat on a tarp and used our feet to thresh it.  I checked out Youtube to see how others did it and came across a much faster way than dancing on it.  It may sound like a big job to cut the wheat heads off with scissors like we do but it really doesn't take that long.  Of course I only did 2 small gardens today and have lots left to do but I'm not feeling so overwhelmed anymore.  This is just some of what's left to harvest.

I filled a trash can half full then took the weed eater to it till most of the seed heads were broken up.

Then I ran it through my hands in front of the fan and the berries would fall back into the trash can while the chaff blew away. 

I got about 22 lbs of wheat berries from 2 small gardens.  I probably have 5 times as much left to do.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blue cheese fail

The cheese recipe book said blue cheese wasn't a beginner's cheese.  I should have taken that advice.  I've been making cheese for 4 years so I thought, maybe I'm not a beginner but an advanced beginner.  The give-away that it wasn't a successful cheese was the smell.  It smelled heavily of amonia.  Moldy smell can sometimes be good but amonia is never good. 

I scraped the orange mold off thinking that might get rid of the bad smell.
I cut it in half and smelled it.
COUGH!!!! COUGH!!   If that wasn't enough to deter me.....I had to taste it.  I'm still alive to tell about it but I can tell you it was not something I'd try 2 bites of.  Ok, yes, I tasted it twice just in case.  You never can be sure, you know.  It was terrible.

Maybe it wasn't a complete fail.  There was one someone who thought it was delicious.
Will I make it again?  Maybe in 4 more years.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Donkey cart progress

Today was our third time to hook Willo up to the cart.  She's very patient while we fumble to get the harness on her properly.  We really need to do it more often so it's second nature.  We began by James leading her while I sat in the cart and used the reins.  She was very willing.  Next we removed the lead and she followed James along while I instructed her from behind.
When I thought she was responding well to my commands James hopped in the cart with me and she continued to move along nicely until Earl called her.  She stopped and turned around to go the other direction.

On the way back to where we started I got out of the cart and James drove.  I loved seeing this.

Driving is very relaxing - for us anyway.  I don't know if Willo thinks it's relaxing or even fun but when we're done she seems very proud of herself. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Remembering fishing

This weekend my brother-in-law asked what my earliest memory was.  He and James were both able to come up with memories from very early in their lives.  I couldn't think of anything.  This doesn't mean I don't have lots of memories from my childhood.  I just don't remember when events happened and how old I was when they happened. 

I have fond memories of fishing as a child and I know most of what I'm remembering is from when I was pretty young.  My familys' vacations were usually camping in the Poconos.   I have no idea how many times we went fishing while we were there but I feel like we did a lot of it.  Maybe that's how I want to remember it because those were fun times.  I need to ask my parents how old I was when I fell in the reservoir over my head but held on to my fishing pole.

I don't know how we introduced Adam to fishing but I know he began at a young age.  He could fish for hours even when the fishing wasn't good.  I loved watching him.  Watching was almost as much fun as fishing myself; maybe even more so.  I still enjoy watching family and friends fish.  Living on the river gives us lots of opportunities to do that. 

Adam lives at the beach now and is discovering surf fishing.  I'm glad to know he's fishing again.  Sometimes he sends me pictures of fish he catches and recently described how he cooked up one of his catches.  I love it.  I also love this photo of him with a bass he caught in a pond outside his apartment.
Here are some not-so-recent pictures of other fish he caught.
These pictures make me smile.
I wish I had pictures of me fishing when I was a kid but they'd all be on slides. 

This year I'm going to fish!  It's is my summer resolution.   Would any of my friends like to join me? 


Thursday, June 6, 2013

One of these things is not like the others

Remember this?

This song was going through my head as I looked at this picture.
I'll hum the song while you study it closely.............

There are a few reasons why the animal and human on the right are not like the others.   It's not just the long ears and furry body.  It's also the imposter riding him.  The women on the horses have been riding many many years.  I've had 4 riding lessons so far.  I'm really having a good time and my confidence has grown immensely. 

The others in the photo are my neighbors.  They were kind enough to invite me to ride with them a few days ago.  Mac was a trooper.  He didn't exert any more energy than was necessary but he was a gentleman and took good care of me.  The day before we led Mac and Willo to their property to see how they'd do away from our farm.  They were awesome on the way out and I was pleased to see Willo cross the road without hesitation.  The way back she was not well behaved at all.  She practically drug me the whole way back.  I could hardly hold on to her.  My riding instructor has given me some pointers how to work with her to correct this bad behavior going forward.  Willo and I have lots to work on but we've already made lots of progress.  I was amazed at how she behaved differently away from our house.   Learning and learning more.  All good stuff.

One day I'll post a video of me and Willo galloping into the sunset.  She will never have short ears and I will never be a professional rider but we might feel like we belong.

You're still humming that song, aren't you?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A little drama from a piggy's mama

And I don't mean Roxie.  I mean me.  I tell ya, breeding animals can make me a bit crazy at times.  I really thought I was getting better at waiting for babies to arrive but I'm not. 

For the past 3 days Roxie has been needy, following me around very closely and a little too affectionate for my liking.  She's always covered in mud these days so cuddling is messy.  Goats often become more affectionate when their due date nears so I thought maybe Roxie was indeed pregnant.  I never saw her be bred so I didn't have any idea if she was pregnant or not so of course I have no due date.  I don't let this happen with my goats. 

Yesterday when I took her her breakfast she refused to eat.  That's when flags went up.  I knew she was off her game.  She also couldn't walk on one of her rear legs.  My guess was a baby may be sitting on or pinching a nerve.  I was pregnant once - I remember something about this kind of thing but it was oh so long ago I wonder if I'm making things up. 

I spent most of my day getting her area cut and fenced and clean hay put in her house so if she was nearing delivery she'd have a safe area for her babies.  Roxie loved all the attention.  She chatted away to me most of the time unless she was miserable acting like she "might" be in labor.  She had a bit of white sticky discharge.  Sometimes goats have this long before they kid but I had myself convinced it was a sign of labor.  I laid in her house with her because most of her mud was dried and she seemed to want my company.  I wouldn't have done this last year but she and I are much better buds this year and we trust each other a whole lot more.

It rained a little and we listened to the rain on the roof and she eventually fell asleep.  Later that evening I fell asleep sitting with her.   When I knew she wasn't having babies anytime soon I came in the house and Googled signs of labor in a pig.  I found this excellent website which told me how to tell if my pig was pregnant.  As it turns out, a pig has a pregnancy indicator.  Yes, kind of like the little thing that pops out of your turkey (a store-bought turkey - not one of mine) when it's done.  It's supposed to be a sure sign a sow is pregnant.  I wish she had a thing that popped out the day she was due.  Here's how to tell.  Look at this picture.
See that little pointy thing under her tail?  That's the clitoral hood.  I'm allowed to post these kinds of things about animals without getting in trouble.  See how it's pointing up?  That means she's pregnant. That's the pregnancy indicator.  If it was pointing down or even sticking straight out you'd know she's not pregnant.  Well, Roxie's is pointing up, pink and swollen so I feel 90% certain she's pregnant.  Ok, maybe 50% certain.  Her teats are not full of milk but they have begun to change and look much like the above picture. 

I checked on her around 11 PM last night and decided nothing was going to happen soon so I went to bed, fully expecting babies in the morning (even though she wasn't full of milk).  Now that time has passed and I'm using my more non-emotional brain, I wonder why I thought that.  I went out early to check on her and of course there were no babies and she was in her mud pit.  I tried to make her get out but she was very lethargic and couldn't get out of the mud no matter how much I tried convincing her.  I called James, who is out of town to be with his mom who just had surgery.  As if he could help me, I drug him down with my drama.  Eventually she got out of the pit, I hosed her down, she looked at her shed and then walked straight to her pond (different from her mud pit).  I decided she knew best and there was nothing more I could do.........except give her goat milk.  Yeah, that'll fix her.  She hadn't eaten in a day and a half so I was elated to see her enthusiastically guzzle the milk.  It's crazy how I go from depressed (ok, maybe not depressed but in a funk) to elated over something so simple as a pig drinking milk.  She also ate a few handfuls of corn. 

I've checked my notes on my calendar and it seems like she can't possibly be due till this Friday at the earliest.  At least I don't think so.  I'm going to make her a sandwich tonight to be sure she's getting more to eat than just the mud I've seen her sucking on. Her leg seems worse but I don't know what else to do about that.  I don't know why but I'm feeling much better about everything this afternoon. 

To be continued........