Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunshine!

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It's over 40 degrees F out today and at times, the sun is strong and warm. I have the same problem every year. I take all my clothes off too quickly. By all my clothes I mean, my winter boots, overalls, coat, hat, mittens..... That's what you figured I meant right? After months of cold, and packing on the layers and working in heavy pants, coats, and boots, I am just so sick of them and I cannot wait to just get out of them. So the first warm day and I toss them all away and go outside like it's 70 degrees out. My boots are too warm today but I kept my overalls on. I didn't need them mind you, it really is warm out. As soon as it's 60 degrees I will go out on the sundeck in my bathing suit. Kevin thought I was crazy the first time I did this five years ago but I do it every year now. I do not like heat in the summer and when we go out to Colorado and Montana, and all those places that get really hot summers (compared to here) I don't like it. But after a long winter feeling the hot sun on your skin and warmth in the air (even if it's just barely there!) makes you feel like you are coming out of a long slumber.

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The animals are really enjoying the sun today, especially the horses, they love soaking up the rays, as do the dogs. The goats hate the snow and the sheep are just spoiled and want inside because they know they will get more grain when they do. Even Sammy is standing by our big window trying to get the sun, and the Praire dogs live for the sunshine like this. I cannot wait until it's warm and the Prairie dogs and birds can go out on the deck in the early morning to enjoy a little warmth before it gets too hot in the afternoon. Sammy is eating a lot better now but he's not feeling anybetter. He's not hopping and jumping and playing, and when he's out he'll often just walk back to his kennel and go inside and lie down and look out. We just leave the door open and let him come and go when we are in the house. He's not wanting to play with the dogs at all. Nothing like he was a few days ago. But he's still walking and holding himself up and like I said, he's wanting food a little better now. We are worried sick and doing everything we can. I look into those little eyes and we've got this far, and I just hate to loose this battle now after all this time. If Sammy doesn't give up, I won't.

The heavy wet snow is melting, not fast enough for me, but it's trying to go. We cannot take the mule (ATV) back in the bush so getting to our maple trees isn't an easy task. Kevin took the tractor back there today to plow a bit and see how bad the trails are.

The other goat kids, the two Saanen bucklings I got with Sammy, went outside in the barnyard but they were not thrilled about the snow or leaving the safety of the barn. They are too funny. One has white horns and the other has black. Buckwheat the Saanen buckling I raised in the fall and whom will be our new buck, does not have horns. Braveheart, our blind ram, was gentle as could be with them as he is with everyone. No one can believe that you can trust an animal like that, but Braveheart is just different. I watch him, I realize he's a ram, and I know how awful they can be. Barley, our lovely bottle raised billy goat beat the hell out of me in the fall, so I know not to trust a ram or buck. But Braveheart is different, and I mean it in a way that anyone who has been around rams or bucks will have a hard time understanding. It's just the way he is. He's just one of a kind, and sometimes that happens with an animal. They just break the mold, just as people do sometimes.

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I got a wonderful surprise this morning at the barn. I have two hens right now, and I wasn't sure if they'd lay this year or not. I sold all my other birds in the fall - all 30 of them. They were mostly Bantams and some Barred rocks and everyone was just so wild. For my laying hens I like calm birds. Plus I just had too many since so many chicks were born unexpectedly in the spring. These girls are nice, and much calmer now that the other birds are gone. Anyway, I peeked behind the little house I moved in there since I've been getting ready for my new girls to come and for the girls to start laying again and I found 4 fresh eggs! I think they have decided it's spring too! I was so thrilled. 4 beautiful speckled brown eggs. I cannot stand white eggs anymore, I've become a snob, I admit it. Even when buying them from the store, I just love my brown eggs. We had some Leghorns for a while and they laid white eggs and it's just not the same. Plus Leghorns in my opinion are a real pain in the rear end. These ones wouldn't go in the coop at night, flew away, freaked out if you even walked within 10 feet of them. No thanks.

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Tomorrow Douglas the Pug puppy goes to the Vet for his last set of shots. Then in April, finally, he'll get neutered. I can't wait. I'm sure he's not thrilled but it's time for him. His little hormones are kicking in, just a little bit, but that's enough! We are pretty sure he's about 7-8 pounds now, so I'm anxious to see for sure.

I think I may throw together a peach pie with some of my home canned peaches and head back outside to enjoy some of this sunshine while it lasts.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why I hate winter

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Wet snow sitting on the sumac trees

Fitting after my last post right? All those beautiful pictures of one of our trails I took yesterday morning. The snow kept coming all day and all night and buried us with over a foot of heavy wet snow and high winds. We lost power finally, at 3 in the morning. We laid in bed, Kevin worried about plowing, both of us worried about the barn roof.... talking about how we had everything we needed if we couldn't get out for a while, or lost power. No big deal. But of course, we have animals. And every time there is a bad storm, holiday, or one of us is sick, there is always a crisis. Sometimes a major one, sometimes a minor one, but almost always it calls for us to have to get out.

Sammy has been doing wonderful, yesterday his best day yet. His cough has not been good, but his discharge has been steadily decreasing. This morning, he was quiet, sad, tired, not interested in food or playing with the dogs. We know now that he did not get any or enough colostrum. The guy he came from assured us he did, but we've seen all this before and the Vet's agree it seems his immune system is not able to fight anything off and that would be the cause. Since he has no temperature, and no congestion in his lungs, it seems like this is a common cold, which goats can get. But normally to a healthy goat, just like to a healthy person, a cold is not a huge deal. But Sammy is having a hard time fighting it. He hates the electrolytes so we got him some flavored Gatorade, some Vics vapor rub to help with his cough. We also got wormer to cover any parasites he might have, and lung worm, just in case.

I've also been giving him the dairyman's choice vitamin enzyme paste that helped saved Braveheart, our blind ram's life. Braveheart also did not get any colostrum. All the Vets said he would die - except for one, our best farm Vet said, you can try....etc...etc. and we did, we tried a dozen things. It took 4 months before he was healthy and not dealing with infections. He almost died several times. He got several serious infections and fevers, one of which caused him to lose his sight, but that is the only damage he has today and he's not 3 years old and over 200 pounds. This paste helped him a lot, so maybe it will help Sammy as well. We'll try everything we can. When a baby does not get colostrum at birth, it is pretty much a death sentence but not always. We've had success and few people have. We had no idea when we were trying to save Braveheart just how much of a miracle he was, especially with the serious infections he dealt with.

The mix of snow and rain is suppose to stick around for a while. Everything is just heavy wet slush, typical March weather but a little early. We are trying to figure out if this means March is coming in like a lion or a lamb? I'm sure the sap is running really well right now but it's not an easy task getting out in the bush. So we'll see if this stuff decides to stick around or if it's just passing through.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why I love winter

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost (1923)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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Snow and waiting for lambs and kids

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Torn Ear by the pond

We got some heavy wet snow yesterday and it's been snowing pretty consistently since. It's very heavy and very wet. If this freezes, it is going to be a nightmare. Hopefully it just stays warm.

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Jackson says "I'm not coming out!"

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The coop this morning in the snow

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The boys

But by the looks of things, we've got a very wet spring to look forward to. We have to go out next week for a few appointments and we'll stock up on supplies then. When our road breaks up in the spring, we often get stuck back here, which is just fine since we usually have all we need. Last year the guys at the feed store had to bring us some bags of feed and leave them at the gate (a mile away from the house) and the driver was kind enough to bring us a bag of milk since we were out and there was no hope of getting out of the lane.

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Deer Norman this morning

Lila, my ewe, bagged up yesterday. Usually she does that within a day of lambing, although they can do it a week before. This morning nothing had changed but she's even fuller than yesterday. Bucket is bagging up more and more, but nothing else has changed yet. Oh the stress of waiting! Everyone has dry straw, and are tucked away in the barn nice and warm. It's too wet outside. The goats hate being wet and the sheep don't appreciate it either despite their protective coats. Since Bucket has been in the barn for a few days, her, Izzie, Buckwheat, and Dozer & Waddles, have been playing while I've been cleaning pens and working on rabbits. They all get along really well and Bucket even tolerates the two kids that are not hers. They tried to nurse from her the first time they were loose with her and she told them very nicely "no" and they listened right away.

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All the dogs, except for Norman the Chihuahua love this weather. Even Douglas the Pug. Flavious is just covered in manure. He loves rolling it worse than Max ever thought of. So my beautiful, handsome boy is... black...

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A very dirty Flavious

We spent two and half hours at the feed store the other day getting seeds, working out what plants we needed and when they would come, pricing out strawberries and raspberries and grapes... and ordering chickens. I would love to have grapes. We really would like to make our own wine, especially since Kevin cannot drink any wine with sulfites, which is all wine. We don't need to add preservatives to our wine. I'm going to try my hand at it this spring, but having our own grapes would be wonderful.

Sammy Saanen continues to do better, but not great. He's still weak but improving everyday. Douglas the puppy is about 95% house trained now but I still leave papers down in the evening, and Sammy has been peeing on them! It seems he's training himself to be a house goat. He adores the dogs and wants nothing more than to play with them all day long. And he loves playing with the dog toys and even picks them up and carries them! He's started to butt a little bit which is so cute.

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Sammy checking out the bed and toys

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Sammy and Douglas playing with the frog

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Sammy finds the milk replacer

I decided instead of sharing recipes here, I'd put them on a seperate blog. I'll still share about canning and some of my experiments but as for recipes, you can find those at http://www.backwoodskitchen.blogspot.com/ there is a link under our blog intro too. I'll put most of my cooking stuff there for anyone who is interested in that.

I rearranged everyone for the hopefully nicer weather that is coming, so the Prairie dogs can all look out the windows. They are just so happy. They love watching the other squirrels outside and the snow, and birds. Here they are last night while we were watching the hockey games

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Who's winning?

Back to the barn I go to check on everyone.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Busy day

Don't bother me....
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I had to drag myself out of bed this morning because we stayed at Peter and Peggy's house until 3:30 in the morning! They are well into their eighties, but every time we visit lately we end up staying there until the wee hours of the morning. We have a lot of fun, but it's never good the next day. We came home at 3:30 in the morning, and I went to the barn to feed, let the dogs out, fed everyone in the house, and about 4:30 AM or so, finally got into bed.

So I got up to the barn this morning to let the goats out and Bucket was running in front of me and I had to look twice. She has started to bag up. It's close. It could be anywhere from one month to three days, but I know she's not a month away. She is between 135 and 137 days right now. So it could be anytime over the next couple weeks or in the next few days. I'll have to watch her closely.

Biscuit is starting to act strange, not sure if she wants to go outside, jumpy, more cuddly with me. She has not really started to bag up but her teats are swelling. So today I had to get their pens ready since they will have to start staying in more often now that it's getting close. Bucket for sure will be early. She bagged up last year and kidded within 48 hours. So we'll see what happens. I'm couldn't be more stressed out about this. But that's normal.


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Dozer and Waddles

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The two buckling's in the barn had a blast playing and jumping this afternoon. They are growing like weeds and getting stronger everyday. Izzie ignores them most of the time, like two annoying little brothers, but she'll stop to play a little bit once and a while. She's too busy looking for food now that she's figured out hay and grain are edible and both located just outside of her pen in the barn. So when I let her out she samples the hay and looks around to try and locate the grain bins.

It's nearly 40 degrees F today. The snow is heavy, wet, melting. We've got a lot of bare ground. Kevin went back to the Cedar swamp to look for dead cedar trees since we need to start hauling them in for the raised beds and for firewood to keep the sap boiling. I went out to join him after I finished getting pens cleaned out in the barn. The sap is running now and we'll need to start work very soon. We noticed today that the soft Maple tree's buds are starting to pop.

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Kevin had been walking around and had found an antler, right near where we got our Christmas tree. We'd been looking there in December because there were multiple rubs and we know Torn Ear hangs out back there. Sure enough now that the snow is melting, there was an antler lying right near the rubs. It is probably 2 years old and it was in an area where the mice had been eating and chewing things up, so the antler did get eaten on the ends by the mice.
One of the smaller rubs

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Where the mice had been eating

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a bigger rub, and can you see the antler in this picture?

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We walked around and enjoy the warm weather. We haven't been back to the cedar swamp for a while. Much to our complete surprise we found an Osprey nest which was never there before. It is a sight to see. I'm really excited because now this spring, I'm going to hide and watch and see if anyone comes to the nest. How neat would that be? I found the perfect spot to hide and watch too.

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We found lots of animal tracks, lots of coyote, and even some beaver tracks that were not disturbed. The ice on the pond is still thick. It's one of my favorite ponds on the property.

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Beaver tracks
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In the ice

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The fluffy part of the cat tails, it's super soft. Makes great firestarter.

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We found loads of dead cedar trees to pull out, but by the time we got done walking around it was 5 PM so we started for home. I had to go put the animals in the barn and Kevin looked for more antlers on his way out.
All three antlers Kevin found

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I felt so bad putting Bucket in her own stall, even though she's next to all her friends, but it had to be done. She's very close and can't be with the other goats as she prepares to kid and most importantly, when she kids. She handled it well, and so did they since they could still see her and touch her.

When I got home from the barn, these characters were standing beside the house.

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I have been craving lasagna forever. But I haven't had the time to make it since every time I decide I'm going to, it's to late to start it and I'm too tired. I found this great recipe for "skillet lasagna", which was super easy so I figured I'd give it a try since I had everything I needed. But I didn't have high hopes.

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It turned out... so, so, good. I could easily give up making lasanga the normal way and just eat this. I used a big pot because my skillet wouldn't hold everything, but it turned out the same and the noodles cooked well, the flavor was dead on, I mean it was like mom's lasanga in a pot. So good. We both had seconds. We'll be having this again, and again, I'm sure. You can find the recipe here:

http://bigflavors.blogspot.com/2009/03/skillet-lasagna.html

I used some of my fresh tomatoes I had canned and they were wonderful, just as flavorful as when they came out of the garden. Lots of beautiful ricotta cheese... can't go wrong.

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Sammy Saanen is getting around really well. His cold continues to nag him and he hates getting his eyes and nose washed by his mama, but he's as patient with me as he can be. He adores the dogs and loves playing and even does goatie jumps and runs, except he slips a lot because the floor is hard to get around on. He thinks he's a dog now, at least that's how he acts. It's a lot of fun watching them play.

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Now off to watch the bobsled qualifying and finish my seed order to send away. I'm almost finished with it, just checking it twice. I also found the number of a fella I've bought older laying hens from before... I called him up and he said he had some hens for sale right now. When I say older, they are a year or over, which means they still lay, but lay less. But they will lay plenty of eggs for us. Yesterday I was short one egg for a recipe and that just cannot happen out here. We need some more layers! And he has Reds, which are my favorite.
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