Saturday, December 27, 2008

The North Wind Doth Blow....

Do you remember that poem? The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow. And snow we did have.... tons of snow, and the wind blew the shingles off the barn, and the snow was waist deep from the snow plow, and the kids were excited!

The sheep stood in the doorway of the barn asking me to bring breakfast to them. "We can't possibly wade through this deep snow for food, can't you bring it to us??"

Santa-husband, who complained that he has shoveled snow for too many years, decided that he and his wife would shovel no longer, and arrived home with a shiny new snow blower, and promptly made paths for his wife to feed the sheep ....but not for the sheep to come to the feed.:)

I have been working hard to keep the hay from building up in the new sheep paddocks. Putting a pony or two in for clean up from time to time seems to be helpful least while the ground is frozen. Too much hay piled up insulates the ground and keeps the snow and ice from melting in the spring.

While feeding yesterday I was looking over my empty, snow-covered, vegetable garden, dreaming about last year's harvest, designing this year's planting in my mind, and thinking about an expansion and maybe a new greenhouse. Oh how I miss those beautiful, fresh tomatoes. I finally found a source for Maine hydroponic-grown tomatoes, they will get me through the long winter, I can make my homemade salsa for my eggs again, and the basil, growing on my windowsill now has a use besides just looking pretty. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Luckily I still have several bags of a tomato sauce base that I made this fall from our tomatoes, peppers and onions, all sauteed in olive oil and then frozen in 4 cup increments in freezer bags. I was surprised how quickly we went through the bags. Jarred sauce tastes TERRIBLE after you have eaten fresh sauce all summer. I have used this base for chili, meatloaf, and pasta sauces ...I will plant more tomato plants next year.

Last year I was considering a few milk goats. There is nothing like fresh goat cheese, and my kids love the milk. I think I will research this as an additive to the farm for 2009. I have talked to many folks who currently raise and milk goats and their biggest advice to me so far is to be committed to my daily milkings.
Lots to think about for 2009. Lots to plan for...... now I am hungry.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thaw duck ... cook at 350 degrees for two hours

Last week a new duck arrived at our farm. She had been found down by the river near Reed & Reed, the large crane and construction business. After agreeing over the phone to give her a home here, she was delivered and introduced to our three Pekins. My worry was that my girls would be mean to her, but the seemed uninterested in her and let her eat with them.

By late afternoon, I could not find her then ... ring ring ....the phone is full!

"Hi Kelly, it's your neighbor Tracy, I think one of your ducks is here ....sitting on the roof of my car! "

I zipped up to Tracy's and sure enough, the new duck was resting quietly on one of the roof racks of her car! When I walked over to pick her up, she flew away. I shrugged my shoulders and headed home. What more could I do?

The next morning, she was sitting on the roof of the duck and chicken shed a.k.a The Cluck & Duck Inn. Now, keep in mind, little fat Pekin Ducks cannot fly so this was all new to me. She made herself at home all day and then by night fall she was no where to be found.

This continued for a few days until one morning I noticed the cars driving by my house were slowing down. A quick head count of dogs and I was out the door. Sure enough, there she sat, in the middle of the road, caked in ice, on one foot, head in wing. I scooped her up and brought her in, lit the stove in the basement, and set her in a box by the fire. Oooooo the lengths I go to.....

The duck, now named Qu'vack ( remember Hagar the Horrible's duck ? ) spent last night in the Cluck & Duck last night for the first time. It did not stop her from going to the pond this morning and once again stopping traffic, but I think she might be starting to feel at home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The dog ate my ... the goat ate my ... the guinea pig ate my ...

Okay, when I was a kid, I had a rabbit, a cute little bunny that hopped around the kitchen and ate carrots and apples ...and every electrical cord it could find. My mother would remind me "Rabbits are rodents and rodents chew." Yep, rodents chew. Kuzco, our darling little guinea pig is a rodent ... rodents chew.

The vest I started over a year ago and finished, up to knitting the shoulder seams together, was left by Kuzco's cage ...rodents chew.
It was my fault, I knit in my Boston Rocker that sits beside my Mastiff's crate. On my Mastiff's crate sits Kuzco's cage. I spread projects out on top of the dog's crate, and apparently I set the vest close enough for Kuzco to reach ...rodents chew.
So, after the initial shock of the damage he had done, I feel as though I can fix it. The neckline, that I painstakingly knit in a seed stitch ssk-ing and Ktog-ing to create the perfect angles is now chewed, unraveled and fit for, well, a guinea pig's nest.

I have learned my lesson, I will listen to my mother ... rodents chew.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I have owned several horses in my lifetime. Reluctantly I sold two of them to very nice homes after finally giving into not having enough time for them.
I was discussing with a friend the other day how neither one of us became what we thought we would be when we "grew up". I, had I had the courage, would have gone on to college to study architectecture and design, but I chose a different path that combined my love of art with my love of animals. If only I had known then what I know now, things might have been different.
Maybe I would have made my fortune as a home designer and had enough money to build my dream barn, with a heated tack room and an art studio in the loft. Oh life is good, and working harder for the things I need in my opinion have made me a very determined, go-getter...oh yes and I am told stubborn.

I worked for a very fancy dressage stable for a while when I was younger. The horses were beautiful, yet so pampered that they were fragile. The ladies who came in to ride were perfect in every way. Fancy this, fancy that.... I left after a few months of trying to please people who had it all but were so unhappy with their lives.

I saw the other side of the horse world at a harness racing stable. The job started with caring for five horses, then at one point 18. They were sad souls, I saw it in their eyes. I can see in most animals, their happiness and their pain . I fret more over my animals than most folks, they are my other children ...I am their shepherdess.
The picture above is of our young pony L.T. He is just a year and a half, and I have watched his eyes soften as he has adjusted to living with us. His fear and caution have given away to curiosity and joy. He follows me around like a puppy, watching my every move, pulling things from my pockets, and stealing my tools. He and I go on long walks in the woods accompanied by three dogs. He pushes his head close to me when he is afraid. It is an amazing feeling to be so connected with this beautiful little creature.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

First Snowfall

I awoke this morning to the most beautiful snowfall. It must have started in the wee hours, as the fluff was less than an inch thick. It was that first frosting of the season, the now bare trees were outlined in white. The air smelled so fresh and clean, and there were "warm spots" in the paddock where each sheep had lay during the night.

I grabbed my camera as I headed out to do morning chores. The lighting is always perfect during snowfall. Please enjoy the new photos in my Flickr account by clicking on the badge to the right. I am sure I will be adding more in a few days.

It was a busy/lazy day. The temps were mild, so I was able to fill water buckets from the outside spicket. No need to shovel since this storm was only a dusting.
Three very desperate-to-sled kids spent the morning trying to find enough snow to glide gracefully over. They did manage to make a few runs in a mixed snow/leaf covered path.

I have learned over the years to get my winter chores done early, before that first snow falls especially raking up leaves and hay where I will eventually be shoveling. Yesterday I located all of the snow shovels, found a bucket of salt, and pounded in a few stakes where the fence seemed like it could use a little extra strength...well the truth to the fence story goes like this.

Four days ago I moved two ewes from the front paddock, leaving my ram, Joker, with the two ponies.

Three days ago finished the "Hill" paddock and decided to bring the ponies up to enjoy the dry ground and more room to run during the day. I brought Joker some grain and hay to keep him occupied while the ponies were away ...which left him all alone ..... of course he broke out.

Two days ago I was sitting at the table helping my son with his homework, when I happened to look up in time to see Joker smashing through a new spot in the old fence.

One day ago I mucked out the pony's run in and Joker's shelter, anticipating today's storm ....the newly smashed in section of the old fence was now newly patched and replaced for the winter, but seeing the look of desire in his eyes I decided to reinforce my patch job. A new fence will go on the list of things to do come well as a ram pen for my very strong little love-muffin.

Tonight the snow has stopped falling. Aside from the sound of the snowplows, it is silent and cozy. The knitting I had planned to work on is waiting for me. I knit to the thumb on my second fingerless mitten last night while enjoying good friends and a bottle of Merlot.

Tomorrow brings yarn and calendar orders to be mailed out, finishing up a design job, and shopping for a new pair of boots for my Sam who grew considerably during the summer.

But for now I am enjoying the peace.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday, Monday good to me.....

This will be a very long post we go.

I will start by saying that Thanksgiving for us was wonderful. The weather was mild, our good friends invited us for a fabulous dinner, then tea and pie, topped off with a walk down their long field with kids on ponies, in strollers and running in the muck. What more could you ask for!

For the past two days, the kids and I have been fencing winter paddocks for our ponies and sheep up on the hill. When we cleared four more acres for the paddocks last spring, I had envisioned the fencing complete by August....hehehehe someday I'll figure out that I cannot estimate weights and times correctly. BUT .... the mild days we were blessed with allowed me to drive in a few stakes and run the electric wire without any trouble.

We also cleared the path for our super-fast-high-speed-dangerous-poop-your-pants sled run. ( the kids named it ) as well as the incredibly-slow-boring-mom-said-its-safer bunny slope. Aside from a few stumps that might get in the way, it should be a lot of fun!

As for knitting, I have finished one very large stocking which will be embellished this week, one fingerless mitten that started out as a Christmas ornament ( don't ask), and I finally decided to finish my vest that I started ....ohhhhh, I think maybe a year ago. Now I am anxious to start the sweater I designed this fall. The second fingerless mitten is in the works, but I like to save projects like that for times when I can knit without thinking like waiting at the dentist, ball games and such.

Today is as usual Catchupmonday. I have been paying bills, mailing out calendar and yarn orders, cleaning ( yuck) and making a super huge Turkey soup. Since the weather turned snowy/rainy/sleety/cold, and I managed to get all of my outside chores done over the past few days, I am happy to be "house bound" with catch up tasks.

One last my dear Patriots ... if I can carry two five gallon pails of water down stairs, across an icy driveway,and up a slippery hill, in a snow/sleet storm, and NOT drop them, YOU my dear Patriots, YOU should be able to catch a ball....thats all! :)