Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hello, old friend...

We are closing out 2012 with something we haven't seen around here in quite some time...SNOW!
Filling water pails from the pond overflow
Two hives we hope to overwinter
"This is exactly how far I am going out of this barn in this stuff..."
Alexander and friends are willing to go out...but not off the "beaten path"...
White makes a name for itself even when you look up (I love birches against winter sky)

And we are at 6 minutes more daylight than the darkest/shortest day....any plans?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Makin' Bacon

Truthfully, we didn't make the bacon - the processor took care of that part.  But we have a lot of it - and more...the pork is back from the slaughterhouse!
Just one view of our available freezer space (and, yes, I know there is a chicken in the's one of our meat birds from this year) get the idea.

102 pounds represents our half of the pig (we split with another family).  We raised a Tamworth - a very nice heritage breed.  We used 10 bags of organic hog feed during the season, supplemented with family food scraps, organic produce throwaways, apple drops, and lots of organic milk and whey from a local dairy/cheesemaking operation.  We raised this pig to slaughter weight a full month earlier than last year, and I really believe the difference was the dairy.  Lots of colostrum milk from the birthing cows, and in the end we even got old cheese (concentrated proteins and fats!).

Feeling very thankful this day for a full larder!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Using wool

The Storm blew this little house down to the lower branches, and we got a chance to check out the building materials...glad to see someone else besides me is putting all this wool to good use...
Speaking of wool...I'm on a quest to knit down the stash - (I SWEAR no more yarn till I see the hidden corners of the house finally empty of yarn...) and I just finished one badly needed addition to the sock drawer:
I got bogged down in the first sock trying to knit with these cuter-than-heck bitty circular needles.  Saw them and just HAD to give them a try.  While they will meet the requirements for knitting while on jury duty (I think) they are just not as fast as good ole DPN's.  Once I gave up the circulars, I flew right through.  Lesson learned.
Back to the quest....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Poultry Ambassador

Far and away the best entry in the Schaghticoke Fair Poultry Show was Barty.  My baby.  (With a face only a mother could love.)  He got more visits and photo shoots and oohs and aahhs than just about any other bird in the barn.

Why?  Because most people coming through had never really seen a turkey up close.  They know more about the white plastic wrapped Butterball in the grocer's freezer than this fellow.  (sigh)

Fingers crossed, he will be back again next year.  We'll be watching for you!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Testicular Housekeeping

It was time.  Our three lambs had finally reached the age where the nuts were starting to make them nuts, so they had to go.  (The nuts, that is.)

Friday we made a cram-them-in-the-dog crate run for the vet, and they were happy to set up shop in the parking lot, thereby skipping the farm visit fee.

First was Bronx, the eldest.  He is a single, out of Secret.  He was born black, but as you can see, clearly possesses the fading gene.  A look at his horns and you can see why there was no way we were keeping him intact.   That tight curl is going to be somebody else's maintenance - he is up for sale.

Then the twins, Brooklyn and Broadway.  Brooklyn has a nicely developing set of horns, probably going to be almost perfect, so we kept him intact for another month to see if any buyers want him to come fully "loaded".
He is black, and shows every indication of staying that way.  Here's a top view of the horns...
His brother, Broadway has been smaller and more gentle from the start, and while that is endearing, I don't believe in giving anyone the opportunity to create miniature Shetlands.  Besides, his slow growing horns don't look all that promising in terms of development, so *squish* went his chances of becoming a father:
You can see, he has already had a run-in with somebody/something that took off the tip of the horn.  Here is a top view and you can see the "full" horn at the top of the photo:
He's laying down, because frankly, he's sore.  Not that I blame him a bit.  Although the burdizzo method leaves no open wounds to attract flies, just the thought of all that crushing makes even ME wince.  DH can't even stand to watch....I do this vet trip solo.

They all got CDT and rabies - mostly because next week they are going to "farm camp" (as we are calling it) to be decorative backdrop for Liberty Ridge Farm during their Fall tourist season. Rabies is required of all animals going to this type of "zoo" setting, and because it goes to the public record, I could not do the shots on the farm, they had to be administered by a vet.  The other three sheep that will be "rented" out besides the lambs are all getting their shots next week, literally on the way to the farm for dropoff.

We will have three left here - the ram, Leonidas, and two wethers, Jack and Alexander.  Besides reduced chores for us, the rent-a-sheeps earn some $$, save us more $$ on hay/feed, and hopefully attract an interested fiber artist who wants to add some/all of the lambs to their flock.  Keeping fingers crossed!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Ooh-la-la...another good use for the juicer!

It is disgustingly hot.  Over 90 and humid as hell by noon.  Which of course means the tomatoes all come ripe NOW.  But we figured out a way to cut the heat and challenge of tomato sauce in August....
Ta-daa!  Throw them all in the juicer.  Which also has the bonus effect of being able to use the cherry tomatoes, which have such beautiful flavor, but normally are too tiny to bother boiling off the skin...
Afterwards, there is still lots of usable pulp, so into the usual food mill....
A few turns, and we get all the good stuff, and it's even more efficient than the old system!  Throw the garlic cloves, a few shallots, and the basil in the juicer as well.....and voila!  tomato sauce with half the bitchin'.....gotta love that.

Now put the sauce on the slow burner to cook, and walk away.  Hopefully into some air conditioned room far, far away from the kitchen.  Bring knitting.  Come back in a few hours.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Rituals

Regardless of the kind of summer one is having, there are just certain things that have to get done.  One of them is taking the best of the poultry to be tested for pullorem, prior to the county fair.  As those who free-range their birds like we do can attest, there's no fun like trying to catch and cage a dozen or more chickens who have no interest in going anywhere except back to their business of running the yard...I'll save you the details, just picture hot, dirty, sweaty, scratched, covered in feathers and a good deal of chicken poo (all before 8 a.m.)

Here we are, everyone loaded in the back of the Baja:
And then Barty decided to check everyone out...probably throwing in more than a few cracks about being locked up while he gets to stay home, etc. etc. (I'm guessing - I don't speak turkey):
All back home by 10 ish with bling...silver ankle bands...very stylish.

Next it was off to pick Blueberries at a local farm.  My "assistants" probably spent more time running through the rows or throwing drops at each other, but we still managed almost 20 pounds...and now time for jam!
Not a bad time, really.  But a little crazy considering we still have this staring us in the face at home:
But I just can't resist a PYO...

Sunday, May 06, 2012

How to buy a (call) duck

My daughter has been lobbying for a call duck for almost a year now.  For the uninitiated, a call duck is like a bantam chicken. Once Olivia and Elliot arrived, my general arguments against ducks melted away, and so we marked our calendars for the Spring Poultry Swap.

Today we got up at the crack of dawn, drove through the country fog to the Schaghticoke (sca-ti-coke) Fairgrounds and attended the swap.  What started as a tailgate sale for poultry enthusiasts years ago has become a sort of farmer's flea market with animals of all sorts and a lotta other junk thrown in.

We saw beautiful and rare pigeons:

 We saw beautiful and rare pheasants:
We saw utility ducks:
( who defied logic and stayed in the little box)

And we saw plenty of sub-standard chickens (who didn't warrant a picture).  Which is kind of sad, really.  Not to be a chicken snob or anything, but the majority of the public do not know much about poultry standards, and I really hate it when breeders pass off sub-standard stock to unsuspecting customers just to make a buck.  If we want to encourage more people to raise chickens, and want to interest some in showing, we should be promoting heritage breeds, good stock, and educating the public as we go.  Instead, there are a lot of people out there selling crap.  (OK, off the soapbox now...)

We finally saw these call ducks:
Which happened to be kinda large for call ducks and too brown and mottled to be good quality for this particular variety (see above rant).  That didn't stop their owners from asking $30 for each of them...

So, we looked at all the neat poultry supplies, including these nice cages:
And we wandered amongst the goats, donkeys, turkeys, puppies, tomato plants, Adirondack chairs, saddles and tack, piglets, guinea pigs, walking sticks, parakeets....

....till we finally found what we came for:
...a happy teenager.  (What??!? You were expecting a call duck?)

Apparently, a cute Mini Rex is awfully close to a Call duck.  Who knew?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

There's fading...and then...

...there is an abrupt change of plans.

Somewhere, oh, around Christmas, my little grey lamb decided to be white.  Look what we found when we took off the coat and sheared today!
His mother (obviously) carries the fading gene.  So we knew our little black lamb was actually grey...but this was more than we expected!  Hee-hee!
Looks can be deceiving, no?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More to scare you...

Real Estate anywhere outside the state of Michigan should be seeing a boost....You'll understand what I mean if you go here, and do a little reading of the recent posts.

Make no mistakes - the government, at the behest of processed food manufacturers and retailers - is after your right to choose what you eat and how it is grown.

Imagine... being served, raided, and forced to slaughter your family livestock. Forced to brutally kill animals you have helped to breed, feed, understand, respect, and even love. Because some moronic politician passed an idiotic law. It's happening right now in Michigan.

Today it's hogs...tomorrow.....???

They're taking the fresh salad right out of your mouths, and shoving the Twinkie and McNugget as far down as it will go....

Monday, April 16, 2012


So, at my new job there are some strange things we do...all in the name of collectible dolls. (That's what we make..)

Like today. I spent several hours ironing the doll wigs made from yak hair. Really. We make wigs with yak hair. And the best part is the sewer has all kinds of "leftover/unusable" yak hair when she is finished. The more wiry stuff is actually better for wigs, so this "leftover" hair is the softer, fluffier part of the yak.

And I get to keep it! So, spinners....any suggestions? Ever spun yak before? It has no crimp/memory like wool so it needs to be blended. Blend it first on the carder? I'm full of questions...

In the end, my beginning spinner skills (or lack of) may put this fiber on the shelf, but we shall see...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Just in case you haven't heard...

I'd like to think that all of us here are like-minded. In most respects, that is....And when it comes to corporate bullying and doing what is right, we all recognize a travesty when we see one.

The (VERY) short version of this story is this:
Local (as in Vermont) farmers asked a friend to make them T-shirts with this logo. He complied, and their message of eating well and local caught on. More people ordered T-shirts. It became a nice little trend. The trend grew (as good things do) and now it's a local, grass-roots, healthy trend.

In steps the corporate bully (cue sinister music) Chik-fil-A. They have an ad campaign to push their vile processed food that goes something like this: Eat More Chikn. It is supposedly more compelling when spoken by cows...I don't get it, but there it is.

Somehow, these guys now feel they have the exclusive right to the phrase, "Eat More ...." The legal beagles that Chik-fil-A hired insist that the average American would be terribly confused if the two phrases ever juxtaposed, and they imagine thousands, if not millions of junk food dollars evaporating when starving folks turn to the garden in stead of the drive-thru.

So they filed a lawsuit to stop the one-at-a time production of the Eat More Kale shirts. They are attempting to crush the entrepreneurship and industry of one small Vermont artist. They claim local (and national) foodies and farmers have no right to their free expression and professed love of dark, leafy greens.

The case went to court once. The judge saw the insanity of the situation and ruled against the corporate goons. But it was a temporary victory. The corporation is deciding to throw more dollars into legal harassment and is continuing to pursue the rights of the corporation over the individual.

If you want to help fight back, go here and order your self a shirt. Or a sticker. Or just check out the site.

And finally, plant some kale.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lamb #1

The marking harness did the trick - 147 days after the big blob coloring job...we had a lamb!

Secret x Leonidas = a nice, big ram lamb....grey in color with a beautiful splash on the head and frosted ears. Sure, I would have preferred a ewe, would have LOVED two rather than one, but hey- no vets, and I didn't have to pull this one myself.
Secret is a very protective mother...actually bordering on psycho aggressive. So photo opportunities come few and far between...

But we'll keep practicing....

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Duck, Duck, Goose

Okay, we'll start with the weird photo honor of Easter Egg hunts you see it?

It's actually the very beginning of today's subject....

Candy is determined to hatch an egg. Regardless of the fact that there has been no male goose about. So we've quietly replaced a goose egg with two potential duck eggs. So good. Check back in 28 days or so...we may have results!

Something like this:
Can you resist the cuteness of these little feet? They come with their own pedicure!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Elliot and Olivia

More new stuff on the farm, because ADDING chores is exactly what one should do when returning to full time work....let me introduce Elliot and Olivia - the Ancona Ducks.
DD is holding Olivia...and yes, she is wearing pajamas. (Doesn't everyone when they farm?)

We want to expand our egg offerings at the Farmer's Market this season - chicken, quail, and duck. (Duck eggs are particularly nice for baking and making noodles/pasta)

And how about another pic to peruse:


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Making adjustments

That has become the new motto around here, because things just aren't what they used to be - I've gone back to work. Not that being a farmer, mother, housewife and loon weren't already a full time job, but I actually got one that pays me to be there. Not altogether much, but hey - pay is pay.

So, to keep up with 10 1/2 hour workdays (Fridays off!), we've had to make some changes - some good, some not so good. So you may see stuff around here that looks absolutely familiar...and some not so familiar...

Like this:

Can you recognize it? It's a harbinger of Spring...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Silly me...

I thought he wanted to come in for a little visit, perhaps...

...turns out the turkey in the window just called him a bad name.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Been there, done that...

Bunny #2 caught (rescued) from CrazyNeighborGuy's obnoxious animal mis-management. All those bunnies that were loosed in the Fall to "free-range" have been making a valiant effort to survive so far...

We thought we'd give another a fighting chance. So we set the trap with fall apples....and viola! Meet Chestnut. So named by her new owner. ( a local 4-H friend)
A face too sweet for foxes or frostbite, don't you agree?