Friday, February 27, 2015

This weather is for the birds

Actually my birds don't particularly like this weather much either.  My dogs, on the other hand, love it.  They bury their faces and roll in it.  They can't seem to get enough.  Rarely do I see them lying in dry spots.
 Rex is a smiley pup.  Baxter loves the snow too but I don't have any pictures of him in it.  You can see him a bit in this picture.  He likes to go down with me in the morning at milking time.  He and Rex are finally buddies.
 Keri's coat is so dense you can hardly get your fingers to her skin.

 The pigs aren't real fond of the snow and cold temperatures.  I've seen them shivering some days when they're soaked to the skin.  That makes me feel bad.  Their noses are extra pink in this cold.  Well, not Black Olive's.
Windsor doesn't seem to mind it.
I've seen the donkeys lying in it so they must not mind the white stuff but I can tell they're not as sure-footed when it's frozen and crunchy.
Like me, the goats hate snow and cold.  I have no pictures of them out in the snow because they mostly stay close to the barn waiting for me to bring them more hay.

The only good thing I can say about snow is it makes for good pictures.  Our house looks pretty with frosting on top.
So do the mountains.
Even our overgrown boxwoods look pretty weighted down by the snow.
Because the chickens can't find much to eat when the ground is covered they've been going to bed early.  This picture was taken at 5:30 when they were already tucked in for the night.  Check out the naked neck chicken (turken).  She's supposed to look like this.  It's not a disease.  I've never owned one but I kind of like the looks of her.
Did you already figure out this weather brings me down?  I haven't been outside much lately except to tend to the animals or shovel.  Thank goodness I have critters to get me outdoors.  The past few days I've been doing really exciting things like spackling and sanding drywall, which I find strangely therapeutic.
The 10 day forecast is looking up.  I think I blog more when the sun is shining and it's warm.  I don't know if it's because more is happening here or if I'm just in a better mood.  Yesterday was my 52nd birthday.  I was grumpy.  Today I'm 52 and one day and I'm so much happier.  Why is that?  Hmm, well, yesterday we woke up to new snow.  Today we woke up to sunshine.  I guess that pretty much explains it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Left the farm for 5 days

James was in charge of holding down the fort while I went to PA for 5 days.  I think I mentioned in the previous post my dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital so I went to be with my family this week.  Dad is recovering and hopefully as I type this is settling in to his new room at a rehab center.

Of all weeks to go away I chose the coldest time in the history of our living in VA, along with 8 to 10 inches of snow.  I imagine record lows were set for our area.  That meant lots of ice breaking and a sluggish milking machine.   It also meant I was stressing out, worrying about the animals' health and James falling down and freezing to death or being eaten by the pigs with me not there to save him.  Yes, I'm a worrier and can create terrible scenarios in my mind.  Fortunately he had Adam and Melissa to help him which eased my mind a little.

The first day he was alone and the truck got stuck on a hill against the fence.  That meant lots of walking and carrying buckets for the following days in single digit temps.

32 chicks were due to arrive sometime between Monday and Thursday.  Every day I talked to James I'd ask if they'd come.   He called our post office to let them know we were expecting them.  One day there was no mail delivery because of the snow.  Finally on Thursday I got a call from the Roanoke post office (about 50 minutes away)  telling me the chicks were there but about half of them were dead and he didn't think they'd make it till the next day when they'd be delivered to our post office.  Adam drove to Roanoke and picked up the survivors.  By the time I got home today there were 13 lively chicks out of 32 we ordered.  Only the meat birds survived.  All the layers died.

All the other livestock and guardians fared much better, thanks to James, Adam and Melissa.  The goats looked wider and I'm sure Rex grew 5 inches since I left.  It's hard to tell the difference between him and Keri from a distance. You can tell I missed my dogs because I can't decide which picture is the cutest so I have to post them all.

Here's my hero standing on the snowy boat deck observing the icy James River.

In spite of my worries about my dad, James and the farm, it was actually a good week.  It was great being with my sisters and mom and doing what little I could do to cheer my dad up.  I also had a chance to see my 100+ year old grandfather.  The icing on the cake was coming home to my healthy and happy farmily (that should be a word, shouldn't it?).  I'm feeling very grateful for my family tonight.

More snow tomorrow but I'm ok with that.  Spring is just around the corner, right?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

28 Valentine's Days WARNING: this may make you gag.

So much has changed in the 28 years James and I have been together but at the same time so much stays the same.  I have no idea how many heart shaped brownies or cakes I've made for Valentine's Day.  I'm going to guess at least 20.  Does James get tired of these?  From the looks of it, I don't think so.
How many poems has he written me for Valentine's Day?  Many more than 28.  Today I got 3.
Do I get tired of them?  NEVER!
How can a carved heart not make a wife feel loved?
This afternoon Adam texted us happy valentine's day and told us what he made for Melissa for an early dinner.  James and I separately texted Adam back.
Me:  "Sounds yummy. Happy Valentine's Day to you too.  Dad and I moved the safes today.......Pop Pop is back in the hospital........"
James: "Sounds yummy.  We just moved the safes around.  That was a challenge.......Pop Pop is back in the hospital......"
I guess that's what happens when you're together 28 years.  Married minds think alike.

We had planned to go to the piano bar tonight for a special treat but, being the boring old married couple, decided we'd rather stay home for a home-cooked dinner and an evening of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix.

I'd be happy with 28 more Valentine's Days just like this one except for my dad being in the hospital.  He recently had a heart attack and today was feeling crummy and had to go back to the hospital.  Any prayers for healing my dad's heart are appreciated.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Not a bad way to spend the day

In 24 hours time James and I collected approximately 20 gallons of maple sap.  Instead of waiting till we were done collecting all the sap and cooking it down at once, we decided to do some a little at a time since we didn't have a giant evaporating pan.  Yesterday was a beautiful day to sit by a fire and watch pots steam.

We didn't begin till Noon so we cooked into the evening hours.  We had dinner by the fire and watched Netflix.  That's how they did it in the olden days right?
We never did finish cooking the 20 + gallons but we have some to put on our waffles tonight.  In the meantime we have lots more sap awaiting our attention.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A homesteading kind of day

I wish all days felt like this one.  We had beautiful weather and I was productive.  I've had a ham curing in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks and it was time to rinse the salt off and hang it to dry for 6 months.  I covered it with lard which I had rendered from Roxie's leaf lard a few weeks ago, then I sprinkled it with cracked pepper which is supposed to keep bugs away.  It's wrapped in cotton cloths and is hanging in the basement.  I hope it's edible when the time comes.  It was a ham from either Calvin or Hobbes that I had frozen a long time ago so it may not have even been good to start with after being frozen for so long.  I figured I didn't have much to lose (except maybe our lives if we die from e coli or something).  

I said I was productive but I didn't say I was successful at everything I did.  I tried making a cheese I'd never made before.  For some reason my cow's milk hasn't been setting up like it used to. What I made will be safe to eat but it won't be the cheese I was hoping for.  Who knows, maybe it will be a great new discovery (that I'll never be able to reproduce).

Temps have been in the 50s and should be in the 60s tomorrow.  Our maple trees are raining on us so we decided it was time to tap them.  It's always exciting to put the spile in the drilled hole and see the sap begin to run.  Hopefully we'll be able to cook up a few gallons of maple syrup soon.
And just for fun, if you have 3 + minutes to kill, here's a video of Yogi and Willy playing. In case anyone is worried about me leaving my parrot alone with a cat, it's ok, I supervise them.  Willy spends most nights in the chicken barn and has never hurt a bird, not even the small chickens.  She and Yogi have spent lots of time together and seem to be fond of each other.