Sunday, May 25, 2014

A century of life

I've always thought my PopPop was special.  I think all us grandkids (25 of us?) did.  When we were young he was a prankster and a story teller.  The stories were not always true, I'm certain of that.  As he got older he stopped teasing us and just became our sweet PopPop who still told stories we loved to listen to.  He and MomMom had 10 kids.  You would think having 10 kids would send them to an early grave but it didn't.  From the tales I've heard my mom, aunts and uncles tell about their childhood it's even harder to believe my grandparents could have made it to middle age.  Today is my incredible grandfather's 100th birthday.  Isn't that amazing?  He said he would live to 100 and he has.
Here he is in younger years.  Look how buff he was.
PopPop was a builder, a real fix-it man.  Even at 100, being nearly blind and deaf, he still has projects he thinks need to be done.  This fall he decided to tear out the windows on his screened porch because he needed new ones.  I doubt it's been more than 2 or 3 years since he's been on a ladder or on a roof he had no business being on.  When his children come to help him out he asks them to get him some grass seed or a hose nozzle or curtains or something.  I'm sure if he could see he'd have more projects going on.  Now he has to settle for mopping the floor and smaller tasks like that.  He loved to fish.  I wish he could still do that.

Yesterday our family gathered to celebrate his birthday.  I hadn't seen many of my cousins, aunts and uncles in years.  It was so much fun and even though PopPop couldn't hear or see much of what was going on he did know it was his birthday party and I think he enjoyed himself.  A fire truck arrived and he went out to see it.  When he touched it he said, "they're a lot bigger now".  PopPop was a volunteer fireman too.  He's the only survivor of the original founders of the Upper Makefield fire company.  He even helped build the original fire house.  Last night he made the news.

Seeing his smile at the end of the video brings tears to my eyes every time even though I've watched it at least a dozen times so far.

My mom told me he played guitar as a young man so I took a guitar to his house and put it in his hands.  He tried picking it a bit but I wonder what that's like when you can't hear.  He seemed to like doing it though.  He said, "I used to play one of these."  One of my aunts said recently he asked her, "do you remember this song?" and then sang all the lyrics to some song that was on the radio many years ago.  She said he knew every word and she had to sit and listen.
I wish MomMom could have been there yesterday too.

I have no idea what PopPop would say his secret to longevity is.  From what I've observed of him I'd say, be happy, keep busy, have lots of projects going on, do things you like, help people, look to the future and surround yourself with family and friends.

I better get off my butt and get busy.  I have lots to do and hopefully I'll have at least 49 more years to keep doing it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Disorganized planting and moving animals

Many of the animals have been relocated again.  The goats and Keri are back to the field, this time sharing space with the cows and donkeys so I don't have to keep moving the milking machine back and forth between the goats and Raisa.  Also, there was a big hole in their fence here at the house and a few found their way out to eat the honeysuckle on the other side.  It's very chaotic at milking time and I haven't figured out a good way to manage things yet.  The goats, donkeys and cows coexist very nicely.  Keri and Raisa are still trying to decide who's boss.  Mostly they ignore each other.  If Keri chases Raisa because she's too close to the goats or me Raisa turns and chases her right back.

The pigs spent most of their winter with a whole 10 acres at their disposal.  Now they're fenced in a smaller area and I plan to rotate them around the 10 acres.  In the meantime we're planting food for them in most of the spots they've dug up.  Today we began by planting in the area they will end up in come Fall.  We planted watermelons, pumpkins and cantaloupe so far.  It's my kind of planting because there's very little prep work.  Wherever we saw dirt we made a mound and put some seeds in.

It's fun planting and not worrying about surrounding grasses.  I have no idea how many mounds we made today.  We didn't even put a dent in the bag of seeds or the field.
We also have corn and greens to plant.  I checked the 10 day forecast and there's not much rain predicted.  I hope we get some showers soon.  There's no easy way to water what we planted so far.

Kevin was also moved.  He never seemed to fit in with the other pigs.  They picked on him so he stayed away.  He liked the goats more but I didn't want him rooting on the side of the fence the donkeys and cows are on.   We couldn't have him digging up what we're planting so he's now living in the old buck pen.  I feel bad that he's alone.  Yesterday Baxter spent some time with him.  They seem to like chasing each other.  Maybe having Kevin on this side of the road will keep Baxter at home.  He really likes visiting pigs.  Moving him was a no brainer.  I opened up the back of the station wagon showed him a bowl of food and in he went, with just a little help from me lifting his back end because he was too short.  He rode nicely and followed the bowl into his new fence.

The mammoth donkeys are closed in a smaller space around their shelter so they can't eat too much and founder.  The ribbon I have around them isn't electrified but they don't seem to know that.  The goats can walk freely under it so the donkeys can still have company.  They like having the goats with them.  The kids stand with their front feet on the donkeys legs to chew on them or check them out.  Willo and Jaz don't seem to mind a bit.

Four little chicks are living in our basement till they're old enough to move outdoors.  Only 4 of 9 eggs in my incubator hatched.  I'm going to put some more in in a few days.  Maybe I'll have better luck.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Farm Days

Today Yogi Bear's Jellystone Campground had a Farm Day.  Everything had a farm theme.  The campground is just a mile down the road from us.  It's where Roxie (as a piglet) was kissed for the first time in their pig kissing contest.  Today Cricket and Little Girl got to visit the campground.  I'm not sure if they were kissed or not but they got lots of cuddles and scratches.

 The children loved giving Little Girl a bottle.
Cricket did really well on a leash.  Little Girl never strays far from people so she didn't need a leash.
Neither seemed to mind being away from the herd.

Baxter had a pretty fantastic day too.  He discovered the wallow.
I don't think the pigs knew what to make of him in there.

He's had a bath but he still stinks.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Sometimes I say or write things I later think, did I really say/write that?   I hate that I can't un-say something or take back an email or text that has already been sent.  I can go back and delete a blog entry but then I wonder if anyone read it.  James has mentioned to me many times I should write a book about things that happen here on our little farm/homestead.  I've been writing down funny things people say or do who I meet here on our farm.  He suggested the title Uncensored Homesteading.  Uncensored Karen could be embarrassing and dangerous.  Take last night, for instance.

All it takes is a little encouragement from a friend and a little wine and who knows what may pass my lips.  James played keyboard with our community orchestra last night.  It was unusual and awesome because they were playing while the Dance Theater Of Harlem performed.  I don't know anything about ballet but I did enjoy watching these talented dancers.  There was no ignoring the male dancers' bodies on the stage in their very thin tights.  Even a few males (straight males) in the audience commented to me how impressive they were.   James doesn't know I took this picture of him after he was done playing keyboard and got into something more comfortable than his tux.  He looks much like those dancers.  James, I hope this doesn't embarrass you.
After the performance we went back to some friends' house and we were talking about the men in tights.  I began to say something but then stopped because there were 2 couples there who don't know me.  When I cut myself off my friend, Lornie, said, "oh, go ahead, say it".  So of course I did.  "I felt sorry for the xxxxxxxxx guy performing with the xxxxxxx   xxxxxxxx guys in tights".  Sorry for all the xxx's.  James censored this for me.

Maybe I should keep another blog and not tell friends or family about it.  One that only strangers may stumble upon.  In this blog I could write whatever goes through my mind, no censoring, pondering, editing whatsoever.  This way I wouldn't embarrass anyone and I could still humor myself.

I was very proud of James last night.  He played beautifully and, as always, behaved much more beautifully than his wife.  I may delete this blog posting in a few hours after I've had more time to think about it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Five years, 1,857 pages, 239,319 words later

That's how long I've been blogging.  Actually, May 8th is Holes In My Jean's anniversary but I may not blog that day so I thought I'd mention it now, just in case the date passed me by.

I saved the pages in a Word document, that's how I know how many pages and words I've typed.      As I was saving it I saw so many things I'd written and forgotten about.  Some of it I'm proud of and some of it I wonder what I was drinking when I wrote it.  Just kidding, most of it still sounded like something I'd write today.  I guess we don't change much, do we?  I may not have changed but the farm sure has in 5 years and it's kind of fun reading about the new additions and how I look at things.

I still spend lots of time doing things that accomplish very little.  I moved the chickens back from the big field closer to the house and they're back to pooping all over the goat barn.  I discovered some of them were laying their eggs under the barn so today I spent a good 2 hours removing siding (waste of time) and then a floor board to get the chickens and the eggs one of them was sitting on out from under there.  Next I blocked all their doorways to get under the barn.  At least I hope I did.  Because chickens don't frustrate me enough, I have 9 eggs in the incubator right now.

It seems like there's so much going on right now.  I'm anxiously awaiting Mickey to have her piglets, though I have no idea when she's due.  The goat kids are old enough to go to their new homes. It's been an interesting kid year.  It seems the moms are sharing kids more this year.  In this picture the kid on the right doesn't belong to the mom it's cuddled up with.
Last night when I checked on the goats before bed I saw kids nursing off moms who don't usually allow strange kids to nurse from them.  I guess they're indifferent at this point.  This morning I had a hard time getting milk from one of Tila's teats.  I felt a small stone in it and it was blocking the flow of the milk.  I saw the kids weren't nursing that side either.  Later in the day I took a little dental floss stick and stuck it into the end of her teat and moved it around.  I removed it then squeezed and a large white lump came out and the milk flowed freely.  That was very satisfying.

I've learned that it's important to milk Raisa all the way out if I want to get all her cream.  I'd read that the cream is the last thing you get when milking.  Kind of like the way cream rises to the top of a milk bottle, it must also stay up top in the udder so it's the last to let down.  I saw proof of this yesterday.  I got almost 4 gallons of milk from Raisa and the last gallon was way yellower than the first 3.  The gallon on the left is the first one from Raisa, the middle one is the last, and the 1/2 gallon on the right is goat milk.
Raisa's cream makes very yellow butter.  It also makes very yummy ice cream, which we enjoyed again tonight.

Kevin Bacon still hasn't bonded with the other pigs, though he hangs out closer and closer to them.  I'm pretty sure he, Cooper and Cato (the bucks) are good friends though.  It's kind of cute the way the 3 of them are always together.

Baxter continues to escape the fence when he sees me in the field.  I got a phone call from someone telling me they had him in their car.  They were right out front of our house and he jumped in her car when she opened her door.  She said, "he's the sweetest little guy".  Yes, he is.  He's also a very active little guy.  She returned him to our driveway.  Today as I cut the grass he ran along side me for the longest time.  Then he did sprints around the yard, tumbling now and then, I guess because the grass felt really good on his back.  This was followed up by a dip in the creek.  He's the happiest pooch I've ever met.  I wish he'd stay in our yard though.  I think he and Kevin Bacon have also become good buddies.

The big donkeys are shedding like crazy and Raisa's calf, Windsor, stays an arms length away from me.  I don't know why I make him nervous.

All is well at Elk Cliff Farm and I look forward to 5 more years of blogging.  I wonder what I'll be writing about then.