Archive for December, 2011

Where’s the snow, anyway?

December 30, 2011

Actually, we’ve had some showers today, but it isn’t really accumulating, so I”m not sure it counts.  My guess is we’ll be overrun with snow in January and February and probably March and April as well! 

Oh, Happy 6th day of Christmas to one and all.  We’ve had a lovely season so far.  Twelve of us for Christmas dinner, which was tight in this log cabin, but we managed anyway…to Connecticut for Boxing Day dinner with old friends and family…to N.J. on Tuesday for celebration with son and kids…back home Wednesday by dark.

Yesterday, I started a puzzle I got for Christmas. I’m kind of addicted to the 1000 piece Will Moses puzzles, the only ones I’ve ever had to actually look at the box in order to put together. They are very challenging, and take much longer than other 1000 piece puzzles.  I’ve gotten the bottom 3/4 mostly done, and the sky looms!  300 pieces of very subtley varied sky blue pieces…no need to look at the box for those, just do one piece at a time based entirely on shape.  I’m hoping to finish by tomorrow, so I can clean it up by Monday afternoon, for Monday evening we have more company and it’s my coffee table.  Need it for the shrimp!

The sheep and goats and chickens are all managing in the cold.  Thursday a.m. it was about 9 out there.  One fatality. My little OEG wheaten bantam hen, who’s never been really healthy (only laid 4 eggs last year, her first, and had frostbitten feet, with toenails missing on two toes on each foot, poor little thing) succumbed to the cold.  I found her dead this morning.  She was up and around yessterday.  Sad.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to find Napoleon a new Josephine and a new Desiree at the POultry Congress on Jan. 14th at the Big E, an annual trip, weather permitting. 

Turkey soup simmering on the stove.  Sermon to write for Sunday, as I’m subbing for priest who is recovering from Christmas.  It always takes enormous energy to get through the Christmas holidays for priests.  Almost as bad, but not quite, as Easter and leading up to that.  LIturgically, Easter time is the worst.  But pastorally, Christmas wins the prize for most difficult. Christmas is the time when sadness is intensified: Everyone is from nice happy families having great Chrimases, right? WRONG!  But the sadness of realizing that’s not the case in one’s own life is often overwhelming and the priest is working overtime at pastoral care.  It’s good and healthy to take a week off after Christmas for rest and refreshment. 

Okay, time to check one last time for eggs…




Honestly, she’s not that skinny!

December 21, 2011

I have no idea what happened to that photo of Hazel. My guess is “large” is too big for the blog, so let’s try again.

Okay, that’s better.  Eventually, I’ll get the hang of this.

A try for photos

December 21, 2011


This is Annabelle. She is 7 months old.  Okay, correction: the first goat  (brown with spots) is Hazel, age 3, bred.  The smaller photo is Annabelle. And this is the difference between large and medium size photos.  AND, no idea why the second one I posted is ahead of the first one I posted.  In time, I’ll learn, slowly, slowly, slowly, I”m sure!

Now, I’m going to try for the chickens and see if they come out first before the goats or below, as hoped:

Ah-hah!  Did it.  Guess I”m not as lame as I thought.  In the foreground is Napoleon, who gives the big rooster, Jack, a run for his money. Jack is a Jersey giant, rather old.  The roo next to him is some kind of wyandotte, several months old, surely old enough to be crowing, but he doesn’t. He follows Jack around moon-eyed all day, totally ignoring the girls.  Could he be gay?  Or maybe he is just afraid if he looks at one of the girls, Jack or more likely, Napoleon, will come after him.  Who knows.  Jack has leg mites which flare up each summer.  I need to get out there and put vaseline on his legs and on all the perches. No other chickens have them.  With the vaseline, they will go away til next summer, when he’s out on pasture and catching him is just not possible.  On the list of things to do for tomorrow.


Nasty, rotten day…

December 21, 2011

Well, this morning, I let the goats out as usual, but then took Lizzie inside so she wouldn’t be running back and forth bothering them, while they were trying to deal with the sheep.  The coopworths occasionally came at the goats to butt them, but the goats figured out quite quickly that moving quickly right at the sheep made the sheep give way.  The jacobs totally ignored the sheep, presumably seeing them as beneath their contempt…until it started raining. Then the jacobs stood in the entrance to the shed and insisted the goats stay out in the rain, so I interceded, pushed through the sheep, the goats right behind me, and for the duration of the storm, the goats are back in their safe, warm, separate pen in the shed.  The sheep will have to learn!  And the goats will have to learn to push past them without me.  All in good time. 

It’s been a busy week; I’ve made 30 dozen Christmas cookies so far, another 20 dozen to go.  Lots of company, lots of visits with tines of cookies, and just plain “It’s WHAT YOU DO in this family at Christmas.”  There are the time honored recipes, most of which come from my mother’s time, which simply have to be made. How’s that for being a slave to tradition.  Actually, if I didn’t enjoy doing it, I wouldn’t do it.  Somehow, standing there, rolling out dough and cutting out cookies, and then sitting there painting them with egg yolk paint tinted with food coloring is relaxing and fun.  I only wish the grands lived nearby so they could be doing it with me. 

The plan is to be finished with the cookies by tomorrow a.m.;then two days to clean (not my favorite pastime so not done often enough…I think I”m up to Spring Cleaning, 1987), then pies on Saturday, I’m thinking 8 of them; four for Christmas dinner, four to take to friends’ big dinner on Boxing Day.  I have a pumpkin on the porch and am even thinking of making pumpkin pie, something I”ve never done before, since I wouldn’t eat pumpkin pie unless (and maybe not even then) my life depended on it. That puts me at something of a disadvantage, since I”m not going to taste it in process, which means following the recipe exactly, something I seldom do, actually measuring things like spices, and hoping it’s a good recipe.  Much more fun making the Kentucky Bourbon Pie, I assure you! 

The turkey is in the frig keeping cold; the ham is coming out of the deep freeze tomorrow.  All is moving along well for the dinner on Sunday.  Ten people are coming, they are bringing stuff to add to the dinner.  It should be a great time. 

There is a winter weather advisory, saying that we are having sleet and hail and frozen rain or something like it with slippery roads, good night to stay in. 

I think I will try to figure out how to get photos from this new camera onto the blogsite.  Just when you manage to master the old system, the camera dies, or the computer dies and back to square one. GRRR…I’m too old for this.

So, you thought maybe I’d up and died?

December 15, 2011

I know, I know, it’s been forever, and it looks like I’ve totally lost interest in blogging and gone elsewhere for fun.  Not really.  It just seems like we’ve never really caught up after being away 21 days in June, and some things just fell by the wayside. Now, I’m thinking perhaps I ought to be a bit more faithful with blogging. 

Last Thursday I bought two Nigerian Dwarf goats.  (I know, you’re thinking I’ve been here before. True enough.  I did have three Nigerian Dwarf goats a few years ago and gave up, probably way too soon, for I had trouble milking them, and decided I really wasn’t a “milker”. Now, I’m thinking it would be wise to try again.)  So, anyway, the woman I bought these goats from told me about something called an EZ milker. One of the frustrations I had milking my last goatie girls was that every pail of milk seemed to get full of dirt from them kicking or my managing somehow to get dirt in them. With this “machine”, that can’t happen, so it eliminates that frustration. AND, Hazel, the older of the new girls, is 3, and was milked all last summer, so at least ONE of us knows what milking is all about.  And I’m realizing that they can probably pay for themselves just by selling the kids, so even if I decide I can’t manage to milk them, they can still be a viable part of the sustainable farm here.  Annabelle, the younger, is 7 months old.  Hazel had triplets last year, and is bred to kid in April.  At that point, I can have Annabelle bred to kid in September, so that, if I succeed at milking, I will have one milking while the other dries off., preparatory to breeding. Clever, what?

We’ve been watching “Foyle’s War” episodes from Netflix.  They are really extraordinary mystery flicks.  I don’t generally like mysteries or detective sort of films, but these are incredibly good.  The detective is very gentle, there’s not a lot of blood and gore, and the setting is Hastings, England, during WWII.  (Another of the series which seem to have followed the 50th anniversary of WWII in England. We’ve watched several good ones: “Wish Me Luck” about civilians who volunteered to spy in France, “Land Girls” about the Women’s Farm Army–or whatever it was called–the women who volunteered to raise the food for England while the men fought; two series about the occupation of the Channel Islands…and one about the RAF, ah, yes, it was called “Piece of Cake.”  All were very well done.  And I’ve learned a lot about WWII I never knew.

Three weeks ago we got an ad in the local paper offering a free visit to the local gym. We both went, decided it was a good thing and signed up.  I’ve been going for most of the three weeks (yet another activity to fill our days!) and John, who was sick with a long lasting cold, just signed up today.  I’ve already seen some results in better range of motion in my neck which had started to stiffen, from old age, I guess.  So, driving is safer, because of the gym. Yahoo!

I’ve been knitting socks for the grandkids for Christmas, and found a pattern I wanted to try for myself, the “Einstein Coat” from a book called “The Knit Stitch.”  It was a lot of knitting, and I’ve learned a new cast on and now, will weave the pieces together in a new way, so it’s been a good experience all around.  There are several other patterns in the book I want to try, and I bought a follow up book, called, obviously, “The Purl Stitch” with more projects.  Since I bought six big bags of roving (like I didn’t have enough of my own at home?!) at the New England Fiber Festival in early November, I will have plenty of homespun yarn to work with…as soon as I find time to spin it up.  I’m slowly managing to do it. Spun up the hot pink and orange corriedale.  Now working on the loden green and rust mohair/wool blend…only four more big bags to go.  AND, I have to find time to wash the two jacob fleeces I saved for myself and send them off to Pogo, the miracle working processor in Maine who does such a beautiful job with my jacob. 

And speaking of jacob…Since I’d used my ram for two years, it was time to sell him. Instead of waiting til spring, I realized, if I sold both rams NOW, I wouldn’t have to dig out two pens every time it snowed, so I sold the coopworth ram lamb to a friend for meat and the jacob ram, Unzicker Ike, a beautiful ram with gorgeous fleece, I sold back to Royal Unzicker, who saw photos of him and decided he wanted him back.  John and I delivered him Tuesday, stayed overnight in Pennsylvania at a place we used to love, Peddlers’ Village in Lahaska, and came back yesterday.  Peddlers’  was a great disappointment. We hadn’t been there in about 15 years…or maybe longer. It used to have many really nice shops with beautiful reproductions, country furnishings, clothing, and other lovely things. It’s now filled with shops full of doodads, and over the top expensive tasteless things for people with everything to give to other people with everything.  We walked around the grounds, which used to be beautifully decorated, eyeing the bright and garish decorations that have replaced the old ones, saddened by the way the place had changed. Our room at the Inn, called the Golden Plough, however, was beautiful and reasonable.  So we enjoyed that part of the trip. And the drive both ways was pretty uneventful.  As usual, we listened to Harry Potter tapes. (Love Jim Dale’s interpretation of the books.)  This time it was Deathly Hallows.  Got about l/3 through them. But more travelling coming up at Christmastime, so we’ll undoubtedly finish that one this year!

Well, I guess that pretty much sums up where we are now.  14 ewes, 13 of them pregnant, 2 goatie girls, one pregnant and about 20 chickens, soon, hopefully, laying lots of eggs, after a nice fall rest.  One cat, Eloise, who is a bit lonely since Hector was run over a month ago.  Lizzie, the exuberant and willful (but still better than most dogs; Margaret is a hard act to follow, so I have to remind myself that she’s REALLY quite well behaved, even if she isn’t Margaret!) but very sweet (she smiles and waves)…and one husband, aging along with me, but both enjoying generally good health. 

I promise myself I will work more consistently on this blog.  There are issues to ponder and events to report.  And now, it’s time to check for eggs.  Later…