Friday, September 26, 2014

Noses and toeses

I love animals' noses.  I'm especially fond of giant, wet cow noses.  Most of our animals have hooves but they call them toes so I do too.  Because I took pictures of the cows noses and toes, the rest of the animals begged to have theirs taken too so I obliged.

Donkey noses are especially kissable.

My favorite farm animal's nose and toes.

Baxter wanted to change his clothes for every picture I took of him.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Country neighbors

Growing up we used the expression next-door neighbor to mean the house right next to ours.   We probably only considered maybe 8 more houses our neighbors; the ones we could see.  We wouldn't have said someone was our neighbor if they lived a mile away.  Now, even though we live in a rural area with large pieces of property and we can't see each others' houses, I would say we have hundreds of neighbors.

Last night we went to a party at one of our "neighbors".  They live about 4 or 5 miles from us.  Many of the folks there were also our neighbors (maybe 10 miles from us).  A few of the others lived in town, meaning Lexington; not considered neighbors since they don't live in our part of the county.  I don't know why it works this way, it just does.

One of our neighbors brought with him (as show-n-tell, I guess) this really cool caterpillar, a hickory horned devil.  It was more of a turquoise color than the green it appears in this picture.  It was longer than the width of my hand and almost an inch wide.  Even though it wasn't supposed to be poisonous or sting, none of us held it.
If it completes its life cycle it should one day turn into a regal moth.
Today I ran into another country neighbor but this one wasn't welcome.  I didn't invite him in.  He just showed up without me knowing it.  I had driven from our house about a 1/3 of a mile and parked next to the boat deck to work.  I rolled my windows down to keep the car cool and this neighbor decided he needed more fresh air too.
It took some coaxing to get him out but he finally realized he wasn't welcome.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kitty love, who knew?

We had a few cats as I was growing up but I don't really remember much about them.  A big orange cat named Danny was part of the deal when I married James.  He had taken him in as a stray.  He ran away when we lived in NC and we kind of wondered if he went off to die because he hadn't been taking care of himself like he used to.  Who knows, maybe he was just hanging out with the wrong crowd.  That was about 18 years ago.  We haven't had a cat since then.

Then along came Willy.  She has become part of the family and we all love this little girl.  I had no idea I would like a cat so much.  The world is her playground and everything's a toy or a source of entertainment, especially Baxter's head, feet and tail.  She rarely lets up on him.

A few days ago she watched as I marked a stringer for the boat deck stairs.  She's good company and never once questioned if I was doing it right.
Baxter and I have been in a funk lately.  I don't know if he's missing Lex or if his allergies (he has a rash all over his body) are getting to him and he doesn't feel well.  I hope he's not allergic to Willy.  I'm going to ask the vet tomorrow.  I felt kind of bad today because I took Willy away in the car to be spayed.  Last time I took his friend away he didn't return.  I promised him she'd be back by this afternoon.  Unfortunately that wasn't the truth.  The vet wanted to keep her overnight because she needs her vaccines and they thought she was too small to handle surgery and vaccines all in one day.  They wanted her to have a little more time to recuperate as she only weighs a little over 4lbs.

I brought Lex's ashes home today and spread them near where Rosie was buried.  It was sad all over again.  Baxter and I will snap out of our funk, I'm sure.  Willy is a really fun distraction and we can't wait till she's back to her Williness.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fix you

I've had so many conversations with friends this week that make me think of this song.   James went  to Ohio Wednesday to spend time with his mom as she recovers from a fall.  As I've said in the past, I don't do well as a single person.  I miss having James nearby.  It would be easy for me to hole up in my cocoon and not be very productive.  Luckily, I have some awesome friends and almost as awesome animals to keep me company.  That may sound really pitiful but I just had a conversation with a friend that makes me think I'm not the only one who feels this way.  I've been lucky this week to spend time with some dear friends nearby and then at night, when it seems most quiet, I've spent time with my animals.  I'm not sure who's fixing who but it doesn't really matter, does it?  I'm really lucky that when I feel stuck in reverse I have family, friends and animals to "guide me home, ignite my bones and some ones to fix me".  I'm a lucky gal.

Signs of fall

Soon we'll be seeing pumpkin patches with for sale signs and Halloween costumes in stores.  It seems like one minute we're complaining about the heat and wearing flip flops and then we blink our eyes and it's time for sweatshirts and boots.  I'm ready for sweatshirts but not winter coats.  I love fall.

Last week I let the pigs (8 of them) out of their few acres.  It always takes them a day or 2 to figure out they can cross over the line where the electric ribbon used to be.   Now they have about 10 acres to explore where we planted pumpkins, turnips and other greens.  It's hard for me to find them in the tall grasses these days.  I have to listen for grunts and watch the weeds move.  Last night I went out to give them some tomatoes and pumpkins.  It's fun watching them tear into the pumpkins.  As you'll see in this video my buck,  Cooper, was interested in something other than squash.

Raisa and Windsor were wondering what all the commotion was.  This pumpkin had been growing on their side of the fence but they showed no interest in it until the pigs broke it open.
I wish we got more pumpkins than we did.  The field planting wasn't as successful as we'd hoped.  Maybe James will give me one of his gardens to grow just pumpkins next year.  His prepared garden beds seem to be able to grow anything these days.  Here's a pumpkin from his garden.

For those of you who raise or know goats, as you watch this next video can't you just smell Cooper?  I can.  Wait, maybe that's because I've got Cooper stink all over me.  I can hardly stand to pet him or even be near  him.  I can touch him with one finger and I swear my whole body becomes coated in a layer of buck yuck.   Cato is still  young and is stinky but not nearly as obnoxious.  I give him a year or 2 to show his true bucky-ness.  Bucks in rut are a sure sign that fall is approaching.

They're going to have to wait till October to have their way with the girls though.  I don't want kids born before March.

A few people have told me I'll bring Willy in the house once winter comes because I'll feel bad.  She keeps finding her way in the house so I've let her stay for a few days.  It's hard to get her back outside when I think she needs to go out and do her business.  When she sees me coming she runs away.  She loves the stairs and our whole house has pretty much become her jungle gym.  She has claimed the day bed in the den as hers.  I think she and Yogi are already friends.  He chatters away with her lying right next to his cage.  I wonder how long till he learns to say Willy.  He has yet to say Baxter.
This has nothing to do with fall but I haven't talked about the donkeys in a while so I thought I'd tell you what's up with them.  I moved Willo and Jaz over to the yard, where Chy and Wilson have always lived, for a change of scenery.   It took them maybe half a day to figure out the pecking order but I was pleased to see on their second day they were sharing the small donkey barn.
I can't say I'm excited to see them using the old goat barn.  I worry the floor isn't strong enough to hold 2 mammoth donkeys.  I hope all 4 don't go in at the same time.
The big donkeys get more attention now that they're over here closer to me.  I'm hoping their calm temperament rubs off on the smaller ones.  The farrier recognized the change in behavior right away.  Usually Chy and Wilson have one hoof they don't liked touched.  This week they behaved beautifully for all 4 hooves.  Jaz is really beginning to look old and maybe the young donkeys will liven her up some.  I'd like to get some weight on her before winter so maybe I'll have more luck with that now that I can watch her more closely.  The small donkeys are fat so I need to be sure to feed Jaz separately.  

A true sign that fall is near is the stink bugs have arrived.  Maybe Willy will not only be a mouser but also a stink bugger.  I had a video of her watching them but I couldn't get it to upload.

Happy almost-fall.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I know what you're thinking, she's a beauty, isn't she?  Yup, and she's all ours.  She may be a bit rusty and the bucket is cockeyed but she's younger than me (just a little) and she runs better so that means something, doesn't it?

I talked James into looking for a tractor with me so I can bush hog the field.  I've been abusing our lawn tractor by making paths through the pasture to accommodate the animals and fencing.  It was eating up our belts and I was getting tired of our repair man lecturing me.  James, being the accommodating and oh-so-sweet husband he is, went along.  I think he came around to the idea after our friends went above and beyond and brought their tractor to our house to give us a lesson.  We knew nothing about tractors and this was just what we needed so we didn't look like complete idiots when we went to test drive one.  If we did, the sellers were kind and kept their poker faces on.  They trusted us enough with their tractors to let us take them for a spin.  

We found Betty, a diesel Ford 3000, on Craigslist and drove an hour and 40 minutes, bought her and she was shipped to us the next day.  It came with a finishing mower so today I cut some grass. We're in search of a 6' bush hog.  Anyone know of one for sale?  I videoed myself driving Betty but realize watching a video of someone driving a tractor isn't nearly as much fun as driving it.
Tonight's reading is a nail biter; the Ford tractor owner's manual.  There's a lot I need to learn.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Goat milk caramels

A few days ago someone from my Yahoo mini goat group posted this article about how goats are the trend of the season.  It does seem like goats are showing up on more and more Facebook posts, but that could be because I have lots of friends with goats.  The article made me think I should be more creative with my goat milk soaps, lotions, ice cream, etc.

Feeling inspired, I decided to make goat milk caramels.  Did you see the price on the caramels in the picture?  It looked like you got no more than 4 or 5 caramels for $8.00.  I wanted my candies to be made with strictly goat cream and butter, no store bought butter for me, by golly.  I began with 3 1/2 gallons of milk.  First I had to warm the milk to 90 to 100 degrees because cream doesn't separate unless it's warm.  From the 3 1/2 gallons of goat milk I got just over 1/2 a gallon of cream.
The cream has to be chilled to make butter so the caramels would have to wait, which I guess was good because I had grass to cut.

A few hours later I removed the 2 cups of cream I needed to make the caramels and used what cream was left to make the butter.  It made quite a bit of very white butter.  Much different than Raisa's butter.
Here's the recipe I followed.   I doubled the recipe.  This was not specifically for goat milk caramels but I hoped it would work even though I wasn't using commercial cream and butter.  I haven't made much candy in the past so I got a little impatient waiting for the temperature to reach the soft cook stage.
Finally it got darker in color and reached the 245 to 250 degrees when I could quit.  My hand was so hot holding the candy thermometer.  I didn't have one of those instant read digital ones.  If I was to make these more often I might buy a digital thermometer.
I'm pleased to say it was a success and they're delicious.  I especially like the ones I sprinkled with sea salt.
Will I make them again?  I think so.  If someone will pay me, let's see....this recipe made about 100 candies.  That would be about $160.00 worth of candy.  You bet I'd make them.  Place your order below.  Maybe if I make the sea salt and bourbon vanilla caramels I might sell a package or two.  Those sound interesting.  They're very time consuming to make so I can see why such a high price is put on them.  I'm glad I made a double batch.

Next I need to attempt to make the bath truffles and cappraccino ice cream.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One of a kind, Lex 4/16/01 - 9/03/14

We sure are going to miss him.  I don't think there were many people who met Lex who didn't like him.    He'd follow anyone anywhere.  We even had a few workmen here once who asked if they could take him home.  For those of you who have read my blog over the years you've seen what a good sport he was when it came to me dressing him up in costumes.  That was how good natured he was.  He would let us do anything to him, except give him baths.  Baths were scary.  I could go on and on with stories about how good he was with children but there are too many.  He loved kids.

A week and a half ago Lex had a seizure.  I had hoped it would be a long time till he had another and we'd have him for another year at least.  Unfortunately the seizures became more regular this week and we made the hard decision to put him to rest.  He looked out the windows as we rode to the vet and eagerly, although a bit wobbly and breathless, walked into the examination room.  The vet and vet tech stroked him and offered kind words as we watched through foggy eyes.

Even today as we waited in the waiting room at the vet he drew the attention of a stranger.  "Nice looking dog".   A nice looking dog with a heart of gold.