Post Sandy

Well, though Sandy wreaked havoc on the Jersey shore and the coast of Connecticut, and gave New York City a thorough power washing, it was pretty much a non event in this corner of Vermont, at least.  There were some gusts that sounded brisk, and about an inch of rain, or possibly a bit less, but not so much as a branch down around here. There was an old tree fallen on lines about 10 miles from here, and my internet and phone were down for several hours, so there must have been some issues to the west, where the phone company is located.

Halloween was also, as usual, pretty much a non event, other than a few kids going with my son, John, and his kids to the roller rink in Enfield for a Halloween party and not getting in til 10, when they proceeded to eat dinner.  Being an old, traditional lady, feeding 10 year olds dinner at 10 p.m. on a school night horrifies me, but every day I am made aware that we live in different times.  Many of today’s 40 year olds, even having been brought up “civilized” just don’t seem to enjoy civilization, as in reasonable bedtimes for kids, changing beds, cleaning, keeping cat boxes attended to, picking up, and taking care of possessions.  We old biddies sitting around spinning group often bemoan the fact that we don’t really know where our children came from or where the disconnect is…In my case, it certainly was NOT a reaction to cleaning police sort of bringing up.  Maybe they just absorbed that I did it though I didn’t enjoy doing it, and decided life’s too short to do stuff you don’t enjoy…no idea.  In any case, enforcing house rules around here is sometimes difficult.  But I just can’t get used to dirty clothes and wet towels in a pile molding and rooms that smell like cat boxes and dinners at 10 p.m. on schoolnights!  So, the challenge is when to keep one’s mouth shut and when to assert oneself!  Geez, I sound like an old lady, don’t I?  I think it’s better to move on and talk about sheep! And chickens…

The turkeys were done in a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving, so I thawed one out and it was the best tasting and tenderest ever.  I think it has made an enormous difference to raise them organically.  They were bigger at 4 months, so I didn’t wait to have them butchered til later.  16-18 pounds is plenty big for turkeys for me.  And I didn’t lose even one, unheard of around here in years past.  I don’t know if it was a fluke or the organic food, but you can be sure I’m sticking with the new regimen to see!

The meat birds seem huge to me this year. Again, organic food?  They have apparently eaten a lot less, since organic food is $25 a bag and regular is closer to $14 a bag, and so far, at 11 weeks, it has cost me less to raise these boys organically than with normal food in the past. AND, again, no losses since the few lost in the first few days after arrival, which I can’t be sure had anything to do with food or here.  There are 64 of them, and Mark and Company come on Monday to do them in.  It’s a good deal: I don’t mind raising them, and have the time to do so, but I’m not keen on killing anything…except flies.  Mark has the kind of life where he’s away on business trips often enough to make raising them next to impossible and certainly very inconvenient, but he is good with the killing and processing.  So, I raise, he processes. We spend one whole day together a year, with my preparing soups for lunch for his crew and us, and both cone away with chickens for the freezer for the year.  It’s a good plan.  AGain, I am so pleased with the organic food.  I know there have been recent studies suggesting there’s no more nutrition in organic than non organic…so I’m not sure why with my sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys, they grow better on less. Maybe it’s that there’s some elusive element in organic food that makes what nutrients there are in it more available to the “eater” which element is not in non-organic food.  Whatever it is, it is now true that for my sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys, it is cheaper to feed them organic grain than non-organic, despite the scary price tag on the bags!  And, being lazy, I really don’t mind hefting half the bags of feed!

This weekend is the New England Fiber Festival at the Big E in W. Springfield, Mass.  It is my least favorite show.  There seem to be very few vendors there that actually HAVE sheep, and a superfluity of people who buy in tons of wool/yarn from somewhere and hand paint it, etc.  Some of it is very beautiful, bt the venue is hence, more a commercial one than an agricultural one. They do try to have some sheep and goats there, and the alpaca people, marketers to the core, are out in numbers. At least they are people who OWN the animals they are peddling the fiber from.  I’ll give them that.  Though I personally would rather not knit than knit with alpaca.  I find it greasy and unpleasant feeling, dull, and lifeless, and has no body, doesn’t hold it’s shape.  Not to mention I”m allergic to alpacas and llamas, both of which can give me a bad headache in a very short time, so I avoid them like the plague.  Besides, I have a problem with animals that spit on me if they’re unhappy.  I also have a problem with males who pee on their beards to make themselves attractive to females, finding it repulsive, so I won’t be keeping any goat bucks on campus any time soon.  The girls go out to be bred and generally come back needing a long shower with sonething like Murphy’s Oil Soap…, which I’m not about to give them, so I just hope they get caught in the rain soon after getting back…which is difficult, since goats don’t like rain or water in any form.  They tend to stay in the shed if it’s raining or if their feet will get wet to go out for hay in the morning.  Sheep, on the other hand, come out in rain, snow, sleet, or hail for food, and prefer sleeping out to sleeping in, unless it’s sleeting or hailing.

So, anyway, the agricultural busy tine is winding down. After the meat birds go in the freezer and I pick up our beef next week, there will just be the ruminants (sheep and goats) and the layer hens for the winter. Time to catch up on spinning, knitting, and reading.  By the way, I’m reading a spiritual autobiography, for lack of a better term, by Phyllis Tickle, very enjoyable and thought provoking.  She has a marvelous turn of phrase, I’m guessing partly from having been brought up in the deep south in the 40’s and 50’s and partly because of her extensive education in the classics and a lifetime practically of being religion editor of Publishers’ Weekly.  One line I loved was that Pollyanna was the saint of annoying compliance.

Okay, time to go feed the sheep and all the other critters. How do I know that? Because Lizzie, my loyal companion and resident high energy border collie, is whining that I’m not on schedule.  We are SUPPOSED to go out at 7:10, and it’s 7:19…how dare I!!! Her sheep need feeding!


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