Thursday, February 23, 2017


Farm life is settling down.  No one's kidding and no one is dying.  That gives me some down time.  I'm finding mostly what I want to do when I have that down time is paint.  I may not consider myself and artist yet but I feel like I'm making progress, and that keeps me motivated to keep painting.

I'm a Pinterest addict and am always looking at real artists' works, plus I have some awesome friends who paint with me and inspire me more than you can imagine.  It's been fun exploring different styles
and finding what works for me and what I find a real challenge. Animals have been my go-to.  I like painting them most, especially dogs and farm animals.  I need to stretch myself to get better, I know that.

I told James last night, "you know what I'm looking forward to?  I can't wait till I show you something I've painted and you say, that's really good".  That hasn't happened yet.  He's said, "I like the way you did this, or that", but I still feel challenged to impress him.  That's a good thing, I guess.

Here are my latest farm paintings.  Ok, some are dogs that live on farms.  Hopefully you'll see differences in style between one painting and another.  That's why I labeled this blog, Exploring.
First is our beloved Baxter.
This next one of an old barn in the snow came from a book my friend, Kathy, loaned me.
This next one of Rex, our guardian, and Petal could use more attention but I've grown tired of working on it so it may just remain as is.
Keeping with the dog theme, this hound dog belongs to my friend Barb, who lives up river about 9 miles on a very large farm.  Her dog, Corrie, follows canoeists down the river to our place a few times each summer.  She's a real sweetie and also a beauty.  I loved painting this face.  Barb is one of the friends I paint with.
One more farm animal.  Porter, the new steer who has come to live here, who's a gentle giant and almost cartoon-like in my eyes, therefore, I painted him somewhat cartoonish.
Lastly, not farm-like at all.  I decided to paint something that had nothing to do with animals or farm or anything I usually paint.  I didn't sketch this or plan it.  I just used bold colors and bigger brushes and saw where it went.  Not beautiful or perfect, but fun, nonetheless.
Stay tuned for more amateur art.  I can't help myself.  Maybe one day you'll say, wow, I love this and so will James and I will be very proud.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

One for the books (Luti continued)

Every year raising livestock I learn something new, sometimes good stuff, sometimes bad, but always something that is important for me to know if I plan to continue farming.

It's been a week and 2 days since Luti gave birth to Petal.  She's been showing signs of improvement
all week as I continued to administer antibiotics.  The past 2 or 3 days she's even gone out to graze with the herd.  This morning when I went down to the barn Keri was guarding a dead baby goat.  I quickly checked all the goats to see if any of them had kidded or were in labor.  Nope, everyone was still very pregnant and nowhere near ready.  Luti finally looked like she usually does after kidding; skinny.  She'd been carrying a dead baby around for 9 days and just today expelled it.  All the medicine we gave her last Saturday that was supposed to make her body do that made no difference.  I'm shocked this didn't kill her.  I pressed on her abdomen (which I also did last week) and felt no more kids in there.  I can't believe neither the vet nor I could feel this baby.  It was a good sized kid.
Hopefully she'll return to her normal self soon.

Today we're cooking down the small amount of maple sap James collected.  It hasn't been a good year for maple syrup because we haven't had the cold nights followed by warm days.  Too many warm nights.  Here it is February 19th and I'm too hot to get anywhere near the fire to check on the sap.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cleaning out the freezer

Those of you with chest freezers who raise their own food know how it can get out of hand.  We have 3 big freezers but only one of them is a deep chest freezer.  It can hold lots of fruit and vegetables.  So many that you lose track of what's in there.

I can tell you what was in ours.  Stuff from 2007 through 2016.  The freezer needed defrosting.  Our meat freezers were low on meat so it was a good time to move veggies and fruit to those while we cleaned the veggie/fruit one out.  I discovered all kinds of pig food in there :)  Mostly fruit and squashes that were very old.  The pigs didn't care one bit how old it was.  I made a pumpkin soup from 2010 pumpkin, which turned out pretty yummy.  We made 22 quarts of wineberry juice and strawberry juices.
I discovered we had at least 8 bags of peas; both shelled peas and snow peas, which we didn't know we had.  Peas are some of our favorites.

I told you we were low on meat.  Well, we're so low I decided to cook up some organs.  We had pork kidneys in the freezer, because we think we should try to use the whole animal if we're going to raise them.  Well, I can't say I recommend pork kidneys.  I opened the bag and smelled the overwhelming odor of pee.  I knew I was going to cook kidneys but for some reason I didn't expect them to smell like urine.  I don't know why I was so dense.  Here's what they look like before cooking.  They're shaped just like a kidney bean, only larger.   Inside was some white stuff I was told to remove, so I did.
I read that if you soaked them for an hour in milk with lemon juice or vinegar it would remove the urine smell/taste, so I did that. I should've known right then that this was a bad idea.  I thought if I cooked them in enough butter, garlic and capers they couldn't be too bad.  Putting them on a sandwich made from bread made from our own whole wheat (which we have SOOO much of in our freezer) would make it that much more palatable.  Even add a little mustard.  How could you go wrong, right?
We couldn't eat it.  It still tasted and smelled like pee. So we ate bread with mustard, capers, garlic and butter.  The dogs will get the kidneys.  Baxter sampled it and didn't seem to mind the urine smell and taste.
The peas were good though.

Update on Luti

This morning Luti was still lying in her little house and not very interested in nursing Petal.  Her eyes
were still squinty and she looked very tired.  She did, however, seem happy to get some hay, though she didn't eat it with gusto.  I gave her her shot of antibiotics and pain killer.  I'll be glad when I don't have to poke her anymore.

Late this afternoon she was standing in her shed and looking much better, doting more on Petal.   Petal begged for her bottle, which she's become accustomed to.  I offered Luti some baking soda (I don't know why I didn't have it out there before.  I guess I just forgot) and she attacked it.  She ate quite a bit of it so maybe all this time it's been something in her stomach or rumen that's causing the problem.  Maybe she was bloated from eating the afterbirth or something else.  I don't see how that would cause a fever though.   Hopefully this will settle things down.  She may not be back to normal but she's so much better than yesterday.  It took some coaxing but I finally got Petal reacquainted with Luti's teat and once she remembered what to do she gorged herself.  Luti seemed happy about it.  What a relief.

I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog some other new arrivals.  About a week ago I looked out our bedroom window and saw 3 chickens.

We haven't had chickens since last April.  Someone must have dropped them in our yard while we were still in bed, figuring "what's 3 more animals on a farm?"  They seem to be nice chickens but we're not sure how many are roosters.  Only one of them crows, but we haven't seen him mounting the other two.  He has an obvious rooster tail.  One of the others looks like a hen but the other is questionable.  He/she has one or two tail feathers that seem rooster-like.  We haven't seen any eggs anywhere.  Most of the time they hang out in the front yard.  They're not very adventurous at all.  We can't convince them to sleep in a chicken coop.  I've moved them there after they've roosted in a bush or tree for the night but they never go back to the coop.  They prefer trees.  We're enjoying watching them.  It doesn't make me want to get more chickens though.  While we've missed the eggs, it's kind of nice not having to close them up at night or let them out in the mornings.  I definitely don't miss cleaning up after them.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

New Arrivals

Luti gave us our first kid this season.  This is the first time she's ever had a single kid.  I missed the birth and now wish I'd been there to see how it went because things went downhill for Luti the day
after and I don't know why.  First let me show you her sweet baby, Petal.
By the time I got home Petal was all dry and cleaned up and I saw no signs of afterbirth or anything.  Even Luti's behind was clean, which is never the case after a goat kids.  I had no idea if she passed the afterbirth or ate it or the dogs ate it.  She seemed very lively and healthy that night.  The next morning when I went out to  milk she was in the mobile shed with her head against the wall, with no interest in eating or doing much of anything.  She very weakly got up now and then to nurse Petal but was very shaky.  I gave her some Lutelyse thinking it may cause her to expel the afterbirth or a dead baby or something bad that was causing her to be so sick.  Nothing happened.  I called the vet and he told me to reach in and see if I could feel a baby or anything.  This was probably 24 hours after she'd kidded so she was pretty closed up by then.  I put my arm in up to nearly my elbow but felt nothing.  Unfortunately, Luti DID feel something.  I hate causing pain like that.  I took her temperature.  It was 105.4.  Normal for a goat is between 102 and 103.  I asked the vet if he could come out and look at her.  He did the same thing, stuck his much larger hand in her and felt nothing.  Poor Luti.  He administered Oxy____something, which should have done the same thing the Lutelyse does.  I was a bit concerned about her getting all that stuff pumped in her but trusted he knew best.  He also gave her an antibiotic to fight whatever was causing the fever and Banamine to help with the pain and fever.  Shortly after he left she seemed to have convulsions and started throwing up mucous.  She no longer could get up and seemed pretty out of it and in more pain.  I felt sick.  I was so sure I was going to lose her.  I began giving Petal a bottle because Luti could no longer nurse her.  I checked on her at midnight, so sure she'd be gone but she surprised me by lifting her head and sipping a bit of water.  She no longer had fluid dripping from her mouth like she had earlier.  She didn't sound as raspy either.

This morning I went to feed and milk and there was Luti standing in the doorway of her shed.  I was never so happy to see a goat standing.  She's still not out of the woods.  I'm giving her antibiotics and Banamine.  She's weak and tired.  I'll check on her one more time before bed.
On a much happier note, we have some guests who've come to live here; Porter, a big gentle steer and his friends, Eli and Vegas, 2 small standard donkeys.  Their owners are moving here this week from NJ and needed to find a place for them to stay since there's no place at their new home for them.  They'll be living just a mile down the road so it's convenient for them to visit their animals here.  Introductions went pretty well, though Franklin was giving Porter a little more attention than he'd have liked (mounting him).  Porter came from 40 degrees and wet this morning to 77 degrees and was panting like crazy from all the action and heat.  This evening all have settled down and they're happily grazing together.  Eli and Vegas are really sweet and friendly and seem to be very relaxed as they explore the pasture.

The other girls seem very content in their pregnant state and basking in this glorious weather we've been having.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Painting a face of love

James and I watched The Face of Love on Netflix last week.  It's about a widow who falls for a man who looks just like her dead husband.  Afterward, James and I discussed what that would be like, and wondered if there was anyone out there that looked just like us.  It's hard to imagine.  Is it possible to think someone looks exactly like us or the face of our lover?

We think we know our spouse's face intimately and I'd like to believe I know every little detail of James' face, but do I?  As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've found a new addiction; painting.  I'm not sure why I decided I could paint a human face, but I thought I'd like to paint James's.  After all,
it's something I'm most familiar with so it can't be any harder than painting Franklin or the pigs, or so I hoped.  Ok, I'm not that naive.  I knew it would be harder but what I didn't know was how much more important it would be to me to want to get it right, or get it close, or at least make it not too offensive to James.

First I sketched him.  I thought I'd done a pretty good job of that and figured once I put paint on the page it would only improve it.  I thought I'd try and keep it more on the abstract side so it wouldn't be as noticeable when I didn't get a detail quite right.  I won't post all the pictures from beginning to now because I don't want to embarrass myself, but I'm going to show you where it stands at the moment.  At one point James had red hair, which was kind of fun, but I don't think he was as happy with that as I was.  Also, I toned down the really bold colors and softened him as today wore on.

Here's where my Face Of Love stands right now.