Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sunny Monday

I know, it's past Monday, but I have to tell you, it WAS sunny, and we played hookey from all our urban stay on the farm. I've simply been catching up, and had no time to post!

Monday was MY day to hang with the sheep on the front lawn - this is my dear Hattie (I can barely remember chasing her for two hours up the mountain in the dead of February in my pajamas...she looks like my best friend in the world, no?)

And there were eggs to gather...

And potatoes to plant...and that's when I got into trouble. POISON IVY-(my arch nemesis!) Now I know, it's a hazard of farming. And I know we have plenty of it on the lower lot. And, yes, I know what it looks like, thanks for asking.

But the truth remains, if we don't pull it up, or have the critters eat it, it will continue to exist. (Round Up is out, Mother - organic farm, remember?) So I'm just doing my little part. Besides, there are no leaves to speak of on anything around here, so good luck telling that viney root apart from the other viney roots I was pulling out of the potato patch.

So, yeah, the first (of many) bouts with poison ivy. On my face-all around my left eye and cheek, a smattering on my hands, all across the back of my neck and down the left side, on my right elbow, a stripe across my belly (don't ask - it seems to find it's way there every time...) and on my knees. Yep, despite the spread, it's not a major outbreak. Let's just be thankful it's not on the boobs...this time.

The only comfort - (besides covert scratching when nobody is looking) the DH has it too! No more of that superior "We men of color don't get poison ivy" bullsh**. Hah!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunny Sunday

What a gift! Two sunny, beautiful weekend days in a row! Well, you know what that means...

But before chores, there's time for some grazing on the front lawn. (The sheep, not Bill.) Bill is in charge of, what else? Skritches.

"Aaahhh" says Secret.

So there was brush burning, and repairing the firewood shelter, and the mandatory weekend trip to Home Depot for project supplies, and then more chores...

The most interesting chore on the list was goat shearing. The Pygoras needed their coats removed, and this was the day.

Here, Cicero models the new stanchion. (Built from plans in Hobby Farm Magazine) Once Clio realized there was grain involved, she joined in from the front.

Cicero was a pretty good boy, and we got most of the body fleece off in good order. I let the legs, neck and other fleece go, as it was beginning to felt, and I was just hoping to get enough good stuff for me to process, and to get the practice of shearing these guys.

Clio, wasn't bad, but she wasn't perfect either.

See, she has this strange habit of lying down anytime anyone comes near her with shears, clippers, trimmers, thermometers, needles, or medicine. Needless to say, it makes shearing her a challenge. (You should see what the poor girl looks like now!)

Me wonders....what will she be like to milk if we ever breed her? Will her udder be so swollen she wouldn't think of trying to lie down? One can only hope...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sunny Saturday

A sunny weekend day usually means chores, but we promised ourselves a trip to Hancock Shaker Village, a historic farm/museum/preservation site only 30 minutes drive from our place. It was the last weekend of Baby Animals, and there was sheep we couldn't resist!

This round barn is the centerpiece of the farm - it's construction is magnificent! The whole place is awe-inspiring...what beauty there is in the peaceful and thoughtful pursuit of a way of life.

Inside were the baby animals - sheep, pigs, cows, and all sorts. Madison got to help bottle feed a lamb...
There were furniture and woodworking barns...

And we left feeling very satisfied and justified in the lifestyle choices we are making. Everywhere around us were families of all makes and ages, and the one thing that most had in common was their absolute amazement at farm life, and an unsettling ignorance of what the farm is/was all about.

A woman who had no idea what the shearer was doing to the poor ewe, and who was even more clueless as to how that stuff got to be yarn (You only have to do that once for each sheep, right? What?!? Every year? Doesn't that hurt the sheep?) A man who explained to his grandson that the 3-week-old chick, half-feathered and as large as pidgeon, was just hatched. Today. (And as soon as it gets all it's feathers, it will begin to lay an egg every day until it dies.) Another woman who thought maple syrup came right out of the trees, ready to go. (These recipes sound delicious, but who'd want to go to all the effort to cut their trees and get out the syrup? You cook it to get it that way? But, why?) And a man who couldn't tell the difference between a goat and a sheep, despite the big yellow signs that identified all the animals. (You have to look at the back, dear. Those ones with the big bags back there are goats, because that is where goat's milk comes from. And the ones with horns are all sheep. Curly horns are males, straight horns are females.)

We couldn't leave without perusing the gift shop, where DH found edibles, and the midget and I found books, books, and more books. (Gotta haves.)

Back at the ranch by 3:00, and the chores began. Rototilling, mailbox installation, feeding, and moving roosters, and more (pictures tomorrow!)

And we made a new friend.
Or, I should say, Madison made a new friend. This is a feral? cat that has been hanging around since last summer. She/he is sooooo timid, and has a very damaged right ear, and if my eyes don't deceive me, a funny gait with that back left leg. Perhaps abuse? What ever the circumstances, my patient and kind little midget spent all afternoon coaxing it out from under the porch with milk and cat food. She has dubbed "it" Max.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Damp, Dull, Dark, and Dreary - But you asked for it...

I've been asked by everyone, "What's up?" and "When are you posting?" and the truth is, I've been trying to spare you all, but since you asked...

It's been raining, and raining, and raining. And then, raining. Everything is damp. And muddy. Even the chickens. This is Blueberry, a normally fluffy, bright Blue Cochin. (Well, OK, light blue-grey.)

These are the sheep. (Or at least sheep-butts. ) Not anywhere near as interesting as say, lambs. They are dull. At least lately. No shearing excitement, no woman exploring their ewe-terus, no sheep-coated cuteness. Don't get me wrong - I love them dearly. But they do have their high moments and their low...

Today was the last of the maple season. We took in the taps, tubes, tubs, and pails. The sap is cloudy (a sure sign) and the syrup is dark. The earlier in the season, the lighter the syrup. (That's where grading comes in). We produce "kettle" syrup, cooked over an open fire, which is already darker and richer in flavor than commercially produced. But when it's this dark, it's time to wrap up the season. We produced over three gallons of syrup, which translates to something over 120+ gallons of sap collected.

And, well, these are the neighbors. Turkey vultures. Each afternoon they circle the farm, in huge loops; there are over a dozen of them. I was never able to get more than two in the camera lens at one time, circling before they roost in the pines. Even in their red-headed ugliness, they usually evoke a sense of awe as they glide in a blue sky, but this grey is just dreary.


(Perfect weather to curl up and knit some socks...)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Parsley Perseverance

What a lesson I've learned from parsley. It is one of the hardest damned things to get started from seed... (Isn't that always the way of things?) but look!

That's last year's parsley - coming back! Frankly, we're not zoned for that, madam.

I took that picture yesterday. Here's a view today, from our front porch, looking down on the lower lot where the parsley perseveres:

Can't you see it? Right down there on the left, tucked in the corner of the fenced in area which is the main garden.
Honest. It WAS Spring yesterday. But if the parsely can persevere in this, so can we.