Sunday, January 31, 2010

While I was busy at work making lists of spring projects and things we need this afternoon, I caught Norman and Douglas in the same bed! I even got a picture, which is rare proof of their budding friendship.


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There is so much to do and so much of it needs to be done in such a short period of time, so it's important to prioritize and get ourselves organized. I need a new stainless steel 6-8 gallon pot for cheese making... Kevin needs to get the bushhog fixed, chickens need to be ordered, and summer housing set up for them. Then there are the seeds, the plants.... the garden needs to be fenced, mulched, more raised beds built. Oh but first we have to bring in more cedar trees for that. The list goes on and on, and on!

I've had a craving for pierogies for a while now but I haven't had the time or energy to make them. Mostly it's because you need to make the dough a few hours before you are going to make the pierogies and I haven't been able to find the time for that. But today I found time. I don't reccomend making pierogies at home if you are A) in a hurry or B) don't like cleaning up large messes in the kitchen.

But the work and mess is worth it in the end!

There are different recipes for pierogie dough, I used an old potato piergoi dough recipe.

You need 2 cups dry mashed potatoes
3 cups all purpose flour
3 large whole eggs
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup cool water

First you cool the mashed potatoes. In a bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, and then add the potatoes and mix well until fairly smooth. Then add a 1/4 cup water and combine. Next add 1 cup of the flour and mix well.

Repeate again with the flour/water, and mix well. When it comes time to add your last cup of flour make sure the dough is not too wet, and add the water a tablespoon at a time. Then on a floured work area, knead your dough until it is smooth and elastic. Then refridgerate for 2-3 hours before using.

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You can use whatever filling you like. I used potato and cottage cheese, with garlic, salt, and pepper. I find it easiest to roll the dough out into a big circle as thin as you can get it and then cut rounds out with a glass and work with them by hand. Just put a little filling in each and seal them up. Then boil them or fry them. I fry mine with onions. We had ours with some of our pickled beets and green peas, and of course, sour cream.

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It was warmer today but there was no sun out, so that made it feel just as cold. Everyone was glad to go back inside tonight. Basswood (my weather with the heart on his side) really doesn't like how slippery out it is. For some reason everyone can get around really well, except for him. He just slips and slides.

Here are some pictures of the critters tonight at bedtime....

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Buckwheat says "is it time for treats now?"

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Braveheart AKA Lambie Pie our blind ram

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The girls

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Max & Hilda wondering what I'm doing

The turkeys were in the yard again this morning....

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Now it's back to making a list and checking it twice. We are not having a lot of luck tracking down an arch or new pan for the sap. Unless we go ahead and buy a brand new one. But we'll keep looking and hopefully the right thing will come along.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Meatball stew and Pd treat time

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The moon was beautiful last night. But the cold was deadly. The wind was sharp and it was one of the coldest nights we've had this winter. Kevin kept the fire going full blast so it was nice and cozy inside. In fact it was so warm, everyone thought we were experiencing a heatwave.
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The meatball stew turned out delicious! I used butter because it calls for you to basically made a roux with some of the fat from the ground beef and flour. I had meatballs leftover in my freezer so I used those and skipped a step. But honestly, I'd add butter, I think the gravy turns out way more creamy and better tasting. You can find the recipe here:

http://www.rachaelraymag.com/Recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipe-index/dinner-recipes/Hungarian-Meatball-Stew

It was a simple, very quick, warming and filling dinner. It was super fast since I already had meatballs made. I made too much last time I made them so I froze them, which was a smart idea since it saved me all that work last night!

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Here are some pictures of the Pd's getting treats last night.

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I watched a great show tonight on the food network. It was filmed in 2006, so it's not new, it's called the "River Cottage treatment." The show tried to change peoples eating habits by challenging them to stop eating junk food and products that come from factory farmed animals. So the host, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, showed people where their food comes from and tried to push them towards buying organic, free range meat. The episode I watched was about chicken and it was very good. He also showed how to cook healthy meals and stretch what you buy, so that one chicken gave them three meals for several people.
It's a really good show, and I think they tried to give people something to think about. You can read more about it here: http://www.rivercottage.net/Page~59/Hugh.aspx if you are interested.
The moon is full again tonight, and it's crisp and cold out but the wind is not as bad as last night. It's almost time to tuck everyone in for the night and get some rest.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Brrr, it's cold outside

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It's cold here today zero F and the windchill isn't nice. The sun is shining which the horses are loving though. Douglas went to the Vet yesterday for his next set of puppy shots. He's almost 5 pounds now and doing really well, the Vet was so pleased with how happy and healthy he is. So are we... it's been a rough road with that little pup. Our new Prairie dog wheel showed up from Oregon. The Pd's LOVE it. And it's quiet and completely safe so we love it too. With shipping it's close to $100 but it's the best wheel going as far as I am concerned. Since buying the one for our guys last year, we've been very pleased and they just love it, which is really all that matters. The company is good to deal with and much to our complete amazement, the wheel got here in less than a week, which is unheard of.


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Deer Norman sleeping outside our bedroom window

Maximus is now 2 years old. Hard to believe. He's coming along. He's sure been hard to train compared to Flav and I cannot not trust him like I do Flav. However he is an angel with the rabbits - and he is a wonderful guard. He protects the barn and the house and always lets us know when someone is here. Both dogs have their own special qualities. I gave them some lamb and potatoes this morning, which went over very well. Max did really good, while he was eating, Buckwheat the buckling came over to see what Max had, and Max told him to stay away but did not bite him. Buckwheat stuck his nose right into Max's food and Max didn't hurt him at all. Of course, I was standing there, so I'm sure that helped in his decision to be a good boy, but he did a very good job. He's chewing on a pigs ear in the sun now.

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Even though it's quite cold, it's warm enough inside the barn I was able to take off my hat, mittens, and coat for the hour I was working in there. There is absolutely no wind, so that makes a huge difference, but also with the white tarp the light and sunshine gets in and warms the place up. The sun really heats it up almost like a greenhouse. And it's so bright in there. It really is just about perfect for the animals, especially in winter. The sunshine coming in lighting up the place, and no one seems to notice it's cold outside. And my water has not frozen even in this cold thanks to the insulated box Kevin built and the light bulb.


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Bulrush outside this morning

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Wrambler in the snow

It snowed quite heavily Wednesday. The most snow we've seen in a long time this winter. It didn't amount to much though. The wind was gusting terrible. We hiked the other day for most of the afternoon in search of Torn Ear's antlers. We covered a lot of ground, but several of the likely places still had a lot of snow- easily deep enough to hide an antler, even one as big as his. I plan on checking the marsh this evening before the snow is too heavy. I've checked the edge of the yard and the pond, but not the marsh area between the two. Now is the time to do it. I might get lucky, you never know. The good thing however is that we managed to "clear" a few of the ponds he frequents. So we know now, that it's not on the pond and won't go threw once the ice melts. The marshes are another place to check now because the spring is not the time for checking those. It's about impossible. There were lots of critters out, squirrels, woodpeckers. It's still hard walking out there. It will be better once the snow is gone. Even though we'll lose the trails, we'll gain the ability to walk twice as long before getting too tired, and we'll also gain the ability to see things a lot better. I just hope the antler is not too badly damaged if we do not find it until spring.


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Woodpecker I saw on our hike

The two Wild turkey toms were here this morning again... they don't even bother running when I go outside and start the atv in the morning. Bucket is getting big... quite big. I looked again and she might have her kids anytime from the 1st of March on. I ordered my milk replacer today and some lamb too, just in case. It's always better to be safe than sorry. I hope we get a good summer with lots of good pasture this year - like last summer. Everyone complained because it rained so much but it was great for the pasture - the animals had grass all summer long into the fall.
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wild turkey on the run!

Kevin has been busy looking for new pans for maple syrup time... the one we have is not big enough and slows us down way too much, so we need to figure something out and soon. You can see on the snow where the sap ran from some of threes a few days ago in the warm weather. We are also going to sit down this afternoon and make our list of things to do for the garden and plan it out. We are running out of time to get things organized and we need to bring some cedar in. We are hoping to add at least two more raised beds this year, and also fence the garden for good. Usually we just do a temporary fencing. We are really going to focus on our garden this year, and hopefully get the inside of the house finished or at least a lot done on the walls, in the kitchen, and finish the sunroom so we can enjoy that and eat outside all summer without the bugs. I am really looking forward to that.

I'm off to do the barn chores for the evening. The wind is still howling and it cuts like a knife. If the wind wasn't up, the cold would be a lot easier to handle. Tonight I'm going to make Hungarian meatball stew. If it turns out well and we like it, I'll share the recipe. It was going to be salmon night, but with this bitter cold when I come in for the evening, something warm and comforting sounds better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken and dumplings

I love food, and I love cooking. I don't know why, but it's in my blood I guess. I go to sleep at night thinking about what I am going to make for dinner the next day. I am not kidding.

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Because today was miserable outside, it is the perfect day for comfort food. And there is no better comfort food than chicken and dumplings. There are lots of recipes for chicken and dumplings. Some better than others I am sure. Everyone's grandma's make their chicken and dumplings different (and of course better than everyone else's!) and different area's also have different recipes. Tonight I decided to try a recipe from one of my Polish cookbooks.

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It smelled amazing as it cooked. So good, I was walking around hoping it was time to eat soon. The house smelled so good, the world could be falling apart outside and I really don't think I would have noticed.

When it was time to add the dumplings, I was given strict instructions to not lift the lid for 25 minutes after I put them in. I didn't even want to go up to the barn to do evening chores in case I got held up. Making this chicken and dumplings is a labor of time, patience, and love, and after 3 hours of work, I decided it wasn't worth me getting held up and screwing it all up now. Especially since I was so looking forward to eating it.

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The dumplings were easy to make. After rolling out the dough and cutting it into squares, you just roll each square into a ball and then, when it's time, drop it into the pot of chicken and gravy.

This recipe calls for a Polish seasoning mixture, so I've included a list of everything in the mixture so you can make it yourself at home. It's easy to make and just put in a mason jar so it will be handy next time you need it. If you only use it for this one recipe, one time, just make enough for this recipe.

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I can assure you that you will continue to eat this after you are full. You will eat as much as you can. It's hard to stop. The first thing Kevin wanted to know was if there would be leftovers for tomorrow.

After we filled ourselves up - I felt like I needed a nap but the kitchen had to be cleaned and the evening barn chores needed to be done. This picture of Douglas from tonight sums up how we felt.

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This recipe is called "The best chicken and dumplings" and it's not lying.

You'll need:

1/4 cup olive oil
it calls for one plump 5-6 pound fresh chicken, quartered, skin removed and excess fat. I used 4 big breasts and that was plenty. And enough for 4.
1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 tbs butter
6 tbs flour
3 large cloves garlic (minced)
1 small onion, juienne cut
2 medium celery stalks, julienne cut
1 leek, white and some of the green parts, julienne cut
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/4 tsp Polish spice (see below)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry wine (I skipped this and added a 1/4 cup more stock since Kevin can't have wine)
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
Dash of tabasco - don't leave it out
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used milk)

For the parsley dumplings:

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 parsley (fresh or dried)
3 tbs butter
3/4 cup whole milk

To prepare:
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and parsley
2. working quickly cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender (or your hands like I do) until the mixture is evenly distributed.
3. Now add the milk, and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistended, and the dough holds it shape.
4. With floured hands and on a well floured surface, pat out the dough into a 6 inch by 6 inch square, about 1/2 inch thick. Now using a sharp knife cut the dough into 1 inch squares.
5. Using your hands, roll the squares gently into balls.

Polish spice mix

Ingredients:
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sweet paprkia
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground juniper
1/2 tsp mushroom powder
2 pinches ground savory
2 pinches cayenne pepper

How to make the chicken and dumplings :

Heat the oil and dredge the chicken in flour. Lightly brown the chicken on each side in the hot oil. 2-3 minutes per side. Then set aside.

In a soup pot, add 2 tbs of oil. Working quickly add the butter and melt, then add the flour, and make a roux. When the roux is slightly brown and nutty smelling, add the veggies and spices and bay leaf. Cook, stirring untily slightly softened about 2 minutes.

Add the wine, chicken stock, tabasco, and lightly stir. Cook until the liquid comes to a boil, then add the chicken and reduce the heat and simmer slowly in the pot, covered, for 1 hour.

After 45 minutes begin preparing the dumplings. After 1 hour, remove the lid and drop the dumplings in one at a time leaving a space between each of them.

Then cover the pot and cook on low for 25 more minutes. Do not lift the lid of the pot until the entire 25 minutes are up.

and enjoy!
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The pond this morning

Today it is almost 50 degrees F and it's pouring rain. It started raining last night around 9 and kept raining through the night and it's still raining heavily today. It's doing a good job of melting the snow but it is not suppose to last, so it will turn everything to ice which is very dangerous. Even today most everyone will have to stay in the barn so they do not hurt themselves. We have plenty of food and milk and enough grain and dog food to get us through the week, so if we are unable to get off the farm we will manage. With our road turned to ice, we might be stuck for a while, depending on what happens now that everything is slick, wet, and going to freeze in the next couple days according to the weather. I was able to clean rabbit hutches in the barn - in my t-shirt!


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I walked out in the yard this morning and scanned it. Right away I saw an antler sticking out of the melting snow. It was Deer Norman's second antler - he dropped a couple days after the first one, in the same spot! Right in the middle of the yard, in the open, at the bottom of the hill. We walked by it several times when the snow was deep and never saw it. I have hope now that Torn Ear's antler is close by and we also just walked by it because it was buried in snow. Hopefully though he did not leave it on the ice, because all the ponds are rapidly thawing.

Yesterday we split wood so we have an almost full woodbox, plus more than a full cord already split and in reserve beside the house. I am so ready for spring. The warming temperatures have me dreaming of what is to come, and that's not good. We still have plenty of winter left so I need to remind myself not to get too excited. It's easy to get depressed in this miserable weather. But I still seeds to order, the layout of our new garden to plan.... much to keep my mind busy thinking of spring. The other day - there was even sap running in this warm weather! I managed to get all my home canned goods organized the other day. Of course this is only some of them, I cannot get a picture with all the shelves in it since it's too big!

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We got to go out for a quick ride yesterday, only on our trails, otherwise we'd get stuck. Lots of coyote tracks, wolf, and fox.

We decided to go into the city to see a showing of Avatar in 3D. Since we cannot get away from the farm during the day easily, we went to the 10:20 PM showing, when all the animals were put away and asleep. It was a good movie, and a nice evening out, however, we got home after 2AM and didn't get to sleep until about 4. I don't think we could handle doing it again! We go to usually about one movie a year. I think this was a good choice to see in a theatre. But we are just not used to doing things like that anymore. Not being around crowds, or things like that, hardly ever, it's really hard on us. Who knew I could fall in love with being so secluded, and living this kind of lifestyle. Who knew Kevin could, really. It's taken us over, and I don't think either of us could handle any other kind of lifestyle at this point. We are so used to the peace and quiet, just having our animals, just working to take care of ourselves and them.


Wrambler and Max sleeping together in the sun

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Kevin got this picture of Max and Wrambler the other morning and I think it really shows how lucky we are with our family. The bonds they have formed are so unique and special. Animals are amazing, and almost all our critters have relationships with animals that are not of their species. Max and Wrambler are best friends, and Wrambler is quite attached to Flavious too. Buckwheat the buckling sleeps everynight with Chester the Mini Rex rabbit. There have been animals on our farm that have thrown everything out of balance. We have the perfect balance right now. All of the animals get along - and I mean, all of them. Everyone is content, bonded, peaceful. When we were first starting we had animals like the donkey, that caused trouble, was mean, and tried to kill the other animals, and caused distress to everyone including me. All of our animals now fit just perfect together. It makes a huge difference when everything and everyone, is in harmony and balance.

Now back out in the wet, slippery, day. I think today, is a chicken and dumplings kind of day. I may share the recipe I decide to use later on... and I need to share that Flavious is now 6 months old and now bigger than Max!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

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It has been so warm out the past couple days, it's hard to believe. We are talking like 40 degrees F. WARM. We've been able to catch up on some outside work. I got a lot of pens cleaned out in the barn and Kevin got a big ash cut down and pulled in. It was the most dangerous tree he's cut since I've been out here. It forked on the way up and had two big branches, so he cut one at a time. The first one split and it jumped back but was stopped by the other branch thankfully. But still so dangerous. It's mostly all good wood still. It's been dead for a few years but we didn't want to take it. It's a tree we look at from our porch year round and hate to see leave, but it's dead and has been for a while, and it's rotting worse and worse every year, just going to waste. So we harvested it.

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The animals are loving the warmer weather. And so I am. It feels so good, mentally to. The winter is draining. Everything is harder to do, you are more limited in what to do. When it's nice like this, all the thoughts of spring dance in my head.... maple syrup, kids and lambs, fresh goats milk, dandelion wine, gardening... Douglas learning how to pee outside with the big dogs. So much to look forward to.
Hopefully we'll be able to get some of our old hay fields cut this year. Kevin cleared them last summer and we have high hopes they will do us some good this year. They are just loaded with timothy. This old pionner farm hasn't had hay cut in decades, but we've brought it this far back to life, and I know it can come even more alive. The other thing I want badly, is bees. The idea of having my own honey and beeswax, makes me down right giddy. Of course I know nothing about bees except what the one book I have on them tells me and it all seems very overwhelming. Do you have any idea how much beeswax costs? I use it in herbal salves and it's very costly. Bees are amazing. They have their downside too sure, but they produce the only food that does not go bad and they are amazing workers. Nature really is incredible.
I can think of one good thing about winter. Usually there is more time to read. I say usually because lately there hasn't been much time, but when we can, we all try to get as much reading in as possible.
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When it's dark, grey, cold, for so long, it's hard to remind yourself it will come to an end. As I've said before, there are plenty of things to love about winter, but it gets long.
I did up a big pot of split pea and bacon soup today. It turned out so yummy. Kevin can't eat ham, and it's been a task finding nitrate free bacon, at least where we live. We bought a bunch in Fort Collins, Colorado in the summer - $10 a pack at Whole Foods. So expensive, but it was delish. However no one around here carries the Farmland brand. We bought some nitrate free bacon in town at the local health food store and it was awful - just awful. So we found a store in Watertown, New York, Hannafords. They carry Farmland products but not the nitrate free bacon. They however did have two other kinds, Oscar Myer and Nature's place all natural apple wood bacon. So far we just tried the Oscar Myer and it's pretty good - I used it in my soup too. And at less than $5.00 a package a lot more affordable. The farmland is still the best tasting though, so far. I made some crusty french bread to go with the soup.
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I decided to make this upside down apple gingerbread cake I've been wanting to try for a while now. It smells so good, as all gingerbread does. I wish the house smelled like this all the time. And it tastes so good, it's a very moist cake. It's worth a try if you like gingerbread. I'll share the recipe in a minute as soon as I get back from stopping Douglas who is currently destroying, ah, everything in the livingroom. Ah the joys of puppyhood!
OK here's the recipe....

You'll need
1/4 cup melted butter
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/3 cup brown sugar

for the gingerbread:
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
`/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup hot tea

Pour the melted butter into a 9 inch square baking pan, and arrange the apples over the butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and set aside. For the gingerbread, combine butter, molasses, sugars and egg in a bowl and mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture along with hot tea. Mix well and pour over the apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Mine took 50 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then loosen sides and turn upside down onto a serving plate. and Enjoy!
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

There are big fluffy snow flakes coming down right now. It's rather pretty outside. My favorite kind of winter day.

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There other day there was a stranger here. No idea who this little buck was. I think he was a local but we were not sure and couldn't get a great picture of him, but he had both his antlers and we got a picture of those. He's a young buck. Deer Norman dropped his other antler yesterday, so he doesn't have "one up" on the other boys now!

We got out yesterday and hauled in some Ironwood and cut a dead Ash. It was cold, but a good day for working outside.

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We have enough firewood cut and stacked to keep us going but it's important for us to get out and get wood in to add to our stash but also to keep us active and give us a good reason to get outside and work. The animals keep me busy but in the winter it's easy to just want to stay inside and that's never a good thing to do. To get through the winters in the bush you better keep your body and mind active - very active!

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I had fun running the splitter yesterday. It's a lot of work, just as the entire process is, but it's fun work. I think the heaviest work (aside from cutting down the trees which so far just Kevin does, but I will learn to do to) is carrying the chains to hook the logs to the winch through the snow. In the hollow we were working in, the snow was knee deep easily. We don't have a lot of snow, but in the bush where it's piled up more and drifted there is a good amount.

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I took this picture from the wood yard yesterday afternoon looking towards the house...

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I thought it captured a beautiful time of day and beautiful moment.

Douglas is feeling so much better! He's really doing well. Him and Norman are getting along so good finally and playing. Norman is really starting to accept him and is coming to realize that Douglas is not here to replace him. I am so relieved! For a while there I was really getting worried. Norman is very spoiled, as all our animals are, but Norman worse than anyone. And there is nothing wrong with that, but I started to think maybe he would NEVER accept Douglas. But now he does realize it's fun to play with him.

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and he's growing... he's maybe about 3 pounds now. So full of energy it's hard to keep up.

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Flavious is growing up to be a very, very, handsome boy. The only thing Max has on him right now, is height. But since Max has something else mixed in him, that's part of why he's tall and long legged. Flav is doing great with the goats and he loves Wrambler the Haflinger. They are best buds. Wrambler loves both dogs, but Flav is easier to get along with since he's so laid back. I don't want to rush Flav's puppy hood but I do look forward to seeing him full grown, he's going to be stunning.

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last night after a long days work outside, we all took a minute to just, take a break...

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Time to get some lunch and get back to work. It's suppose to warm up this week so I should be able to get the barn cleaned up and catch up on some work up there too. The days are getting longer and it feels better knowing winter won't last forever.

Friday, January 8, 2010

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It's snowing and blowing quite heavily this morning. I don't think it stopped from last night. We were going to go logging today but I'm not sure we will now with the wind up so much. The snow is not a big deal but that heavy wind makes it miserable out.

It should be a bacon and eggs kind of morning if we were going to work out in the bush, but instead we are having apple coffee cake, one of our favorites. It's best in the fall with apples from our trees, but it will be a nice treat for a morning like this to get us going. I'll have shoveling to do at the barn for sure just to get in!

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Yesterday was a beautiful day and Buckwheat went out with the herd for the first time. He's been out before mostly with the sheep, because he thinks he should be with me all the time and not the other animals. It's going to be an adjustment for him, learning that he is a goat and not a human. It's a hard lesson for a bottle baby to learn. Few every really learn it, but just tolerate being among the other goats because they realize they have to. Everyone was good with him. Of course they bossed him around and tried to keep him out of the hay but no one tried to hurt him. And big Hilda tossed her weight around but never even butted him.. And he knew to butt back if they tried. He did well. He loves Flavious the Pyrenees so he felt more comfortable with his buddy there. But most of the time he was just trying to get back through the fence to me. He is as big as most of my kids from last spring, who are NINE months old. The only one who is bigger is Bulrush, and he's really, ah, chunky.

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I've put my name down for a Saanen doe kid this Feb/March. I'm so excited. She will be a great addition to our herd and I'm sure in the future will produce lots of milk for us. It's not like I don't enough have to do and come April I'll have bottle babies of my own. We should have lambs in March if we are lucky. This baby will already be started on a bottle though so a lot easier than Buckwheat who wasn't started on a bottle until he came here. Although, he was easy enough. Sometimes they figure it out really fast, and sometimes it very difficult to get them to understand milk comes out of the bottle!

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Deer Norman still has not dropped his other antler. It's going to be hard to find any antlers with this much snow, and more of it falling rapidly. It's really starting to pile up. In the bush, it makes it more difficult to get around. We cut wood yesterday so we have some, we have quite a bit actually but we'd like to save it for February. So we'll use what we have now and go out tomorrow if the weather breaks. Kevin split up some Basswood yesterday and it's not good to use to get a fire really going but once the fire was hot, it burned just fine and kept us all warm.

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It's funny seeing Torn Ear out there without his antlers. Goofy has been missing for weeks and so has Socks, so it looks like Socks was the fawn we found out on the pond. We have our little doe fawn, and all our other does. Last year I didn't see Goofy for a couple months and then in the spring she showed up one day. So you never know, she might be fine and just off somewhere.

Last night I started to make my list of seeds to order, starting with herbs. Helps make winter feel shorter when I know very soon I could be starting seeds! Really by March we'll have all kinds of things to do with lambs, it will be time to make maple syrup, start seeds. I won't know what to do with myself when that time comes, and we'll remain busy all summer. This year I will be milking which will be very time consuming. I milked Biscuit last year but not for very long. She's such a good girl, and the best behaved for milking I have so I hope she gives me a kid this year. Bucket is definitely pregnant, but I tried (halfheartedly) to milk her last year and she was not a good girl about it. Hopefully Kevin will get me a milk stand made so it will be easier to teach Bucket. None of my does have been milked before, last year was Biscuits first time and I'm amazed she did so well. Maybe Bucket will do better this year. There is a local farmers market now in the summer, at least there was last summer, so maybe I'll be able to sell some of my soap and salves there a few times during the summer.

Douglas is finally growing and doing well. It's been a long road, he's had a few bumps to overcome, but he's doing wonderful now and he's full of Pee and Vinegar like you would not believe. But he's a really good boy, and learning fast. Norman and him are getting along, still working out their positions but playing sometimes, and Norman doesn't leave the room now every time Douglas is there, and they will both sleep in my or Kevin's lap at the same time, which is a huge step. Buddy dog is declining with his health, he cannot hear at all now so he's relying more on sight and that's not very good either. His age is quickly catching up with him now. But he's quite content by the fire keep warming and sleeping. Who wouldn't be?

Last night I made these great little cakes I've been meaning to try. They are mashed potato corn cakes, and quick, easy, and delicious.

Just make up some mashed potatoes - with just butter. Add some corn, shredded cheese (I used cheddar, the recipe calls for Jack, use whatever you want) and an egg and salt and pepper. Mix it all up, and using two tablespoons full, make into balls and then flatten into a patty. Coat these in cornmeal... just put the cornmeal on a plate and coat each side of the potato patty. Then fry them in a hot pan with some oil, about 2 minutes on each side.

They are really good. I thought we'd need sour cream or something to eat with them but you don't, they are great all on their own.

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OK time to head outside and back to work!

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