Are the words “dog” and “magnet” written over our front door or on our foreheads??? Maybe. Or just: 2 big animal suckers live here? We have had a chihuahua and a lab for many years, but then few years ago we inherited a Jack Russell from friends, and now it appears that our son’s dog is staying with us for awhile. Daisy the Bluetick/Walker hound mix, 8 months old. She is a sweetheart, big and gormless :*) I guess our 20 acres is perfect for a dog like a hound. She and Bear the Lab have a great time wandering and checking out the sights and smells. They look like two best friends going out the back door and heading into the woods in the snow. And then two funny faces wait for us at the back door. But… it also makes for a pretty busy household! Everyone has their place and a different relationship with their people: Tesser the Chihuahua makes sure to sleep with us at night; Josie the Jack Russell sleeps in the dog bed in the bathroom; Daisy sleeps in her crate, and Bear spends her evenings outside the bathroom door, and daytimes she spends it on her blanket in front of the south-facing french doors. I guess maybe everyone likes that location pretty well, come to think of it!
Winter has hit us with a windy vengeance. By the middle of last week we were having arctic wind gusts at approximately 30 mph, and it sounded as though a freight train was traveling through the neighborhood. With the ice on the ground, it was a challenge to even reach the animal paddocks in one piece. Last Thursday I was running up the driveway at dusk, head down to make sure I didn’t fall, threw open the gate to my work area that connects all three paddocks, and instead of a nicely covered temporary milking greenhouse, this is what I saw:
It’s definitely feeling like winter out there today and we are feeling quite festive at our house. John really did a nice job attaching some twinkle lights to the major beams in the living room. I love having them up, we don’t end up turning the beam lights on as much.
I hope that everyone who celebrates Hanukkah has had a peaceful holiday. We have enjoyed our latkes and the menorah with our son and grandson very much. It’s certainly a nice way to bring some light into the darkest afternoons of the year!
Yesterday was our first snow day of the school year. It was a great call as once the snow started it really came down. And then of course it was followed by torrential, windswept rains. Totally yucky by the end of the day.
I had finally picked up our smoked pork last Friday and we were forced to cook one of the hams over the weekend (held my feet to the fire and all… not!).
It was fantastic, some of the best pork we have raised yet. The breed cross is my personal favorite (Tamworth boar on Large Black Sows) and then they had all of that goat milk and whey, they couldn’t not be wonderful! Even though we have our hams cut in half, they are still pretty impressive hunks of meat and we ate from it all weekend and into the early part of this week. So yesterday my husband looked at me and begged for lima bean and ham soup. One of my all-time favorites as well. Trouble was, only a few dried limas were hiding in the pantry. So I dug through the containers and unearthed two different kinds of beans
that were grown locally in Jefferson, Maine, at Bluebird Hill Farm. Wild Goose beans and cannellini beans. The wild goose beans are small and multicolored, with little swirly markings on them. Then I found a handful of black beans, not locally grown, and decided to throw those in as well. It cuts down on the ‘locavore’ listing of this meal, but that’s o.k., it was awesome, and we have a huge pot of leftovers that will be welcome again tonight. To make it even better, a neighbor invited us over to share supper with them so we ended up having a small feast. Can’t beat that on a stormy night!
It’s been awhile since I last posted and I feel like a slacker. Starting the week before Thanksgiving we have had a crazy schedule which is partly to blame, and holidays always kind of knock me out of sync with my usual daily patterns. I dried off our doe Elf, as she was having some shyness about being milked during the whole breeding craziness, and I just didn’t want to fight her! Salsa and SnowPea’s milk amounts dropped, and
Salsa’s appetite wasn’t what it usually is, but that has changed drastically in the last week. So I am down to two goaties on the milk stand and am probably going to start the drying-off process toward the end of the month. I like having some milk coming in so I can make mad batches of chevre and throw them into the freezer for our winter and spring dining pleasure! Choretime isn’t the same without the milking routines, and I miss that closeness with the does, but on the other hand, below 20F temps and howling wind make the whole milking experience less than fun. It’s all part of the flow of the seasons and the year. It’s also been a relief to note that Elvis the stink-o has returned more to his normal self and is not constantly trying to impress the girls. I actually got into the pen with him the other day and he didn’t act as though I needed to be inspected and snurlfed like crazy. Hopefully that means that everyone is bred and all’s right with the herd!
As for the sheep, we disbanded the breeding group that was up at the house with Mr. Big
the week before Thanksgiving. He hadn’t been showing any interest in the ewes he was hanging out with (and hadn’t marked any either), so he went back to the boys’ pen and the girls went up the hill into the group with Zorro the llama. That left our breeding group down in the pasture to handle. Everything appeared to be fine with the breeding: our little Hamish the ram lamb took care of business promptly and they have had what is left of the grass in the pasture in a huge area. I had been getting a little nervous about them being in the field as there have been a very vocal group of coyotes in the area. Around dusk I have been hearing them yapping and calling, and then very clearly, an answering bray from Jingle the donkey, who was down there with those 6 sheep. She had also been doing her perimeter run about the same time of day, so I guess she let them know who is the boss! (That. Or a combination of that and the electric fence). The weather has been so balmy that I haven’t felt the usual frantic need to get them home and into the winter paddock, but the threat of this snowstorm got my attention at last. So with Chloe and our son’s help on Saturday, we made 3 trips down to the pasture and loaded them two-by-two into the Subaru and brought them home. Then Jingle walked with Chloe and I up the street and home at last. Another chapter closed as the year ends and our minds turn to lambing!