Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A new day

It's taking a lot of patience, but we are getting better. Slowly but surely, which is a good thing because Douglas wants someone to throw his ball! Thank you everyone so much for the get well wishes! Since there is only the two of us here we always plan for how to manage things if one of us gets sick, but it was a shock to both of us this time that Kevin went down with Bronchitis and me with a sinus infection at the same time. As anyone with a farm knows, no matter how bad you feel, some work has to be done, animals have to be feed, stalls need to be cleaned, no matter what.

I'm not 100%, I still can't hear very well , but I did feel improvement finally today for the first time. I was able to do some work, although out of breath, I had a little more energy. Kevin returned to evaporating sap today. We were ever so fortunate to get a cold spell in the last week which made the sap stop running, and now today, it's warm and running again just as we get back on our feet. Our cousin Greg stopped by to help, ah, work...

Monday night when I went up to put the animals in the barn for the evening, Izzie was limping quite suddenly. I got her inside and she let me feel her leg and look at her front foot. There was no heat, swelling, and nothing stuck in her foot. She could stand fine, just didn't want to put any pressure on that foot and was sitting it down funny.

Because of her having extra digits on her front feet, and having bad legs, we've feared something like this. The Vet said her feet might give out when she grows older and that's always been our biggest fear, but we wanted to give her a chance at life so we took her in and decided to do the best we could for as long as we could.

We've come this far. I let her rest yesterday and stay off it. Last night I racked my brain on what kind of medication I could offer her, and I realized I had Phenylbutazone, or Bute, which is used for horses. I did some research and from what I found it was safe to use, but not approved for food animals because it stays in the system for so long. We are not milking her, nor will we ever be eating her, so this morning I gave her a dose and then called the Vet. He told me he couldn't come until tomorrow morning, so I asked if I could do something for pain. They were not really sure so I asked if I could give Bute, which I already did, and he said that would be fine.

She was sore this morning, in pain, and although standing, she couldn't walk far, just out of her pen so I could clean it and replace the bedding. However tonight I saw a difference in her, she was standing not holding the hoof off the ground, but sitting it normally, minimal pressure on it, but it was different, so I believe the little bit of meds helped her. I am hopeful he will offer us better pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds to cure this, the only thing it could be is that she tripped, or stumbled, I can't think of anything else. Of course he could tell us it's her feet giving out, but I am so hopeful it's not time to deal with that yet.

You could feel spring everywhere outside today. This morning I went with Kevin to collect sap from our buckets, and didn't take my camera because I had left it in the barn. At one stop I almost stepped on a timberdoodle because he was right beside our ATV! He didn't run away either, he looked at me, I looked at him cursing under my breath because I didn't have my camera and he flew off a little bit to another tree.  I walked over to him and again he just looked at me like "too bad you don't have your camera." and flew off. That's what I get for leaving it behind!

A "timberdoodle" is a Woodcock. Here is a great site about them they are so funny looking and they sound like a mix between a frog/duck when they talk. Before I knew it was them, I used to hear the strangest noise from our marsh in the dark when I'd take the dogs outside, and wonder what the heck it could be. Then one night coming home late from a walk just before dark, a timberdoodle came out in front of us on the path and made the noise! It's really quite comical.

Yesterday we lost a very good friend, and the biggest rabbit ever (maybe not ever but he was to us) Larry the rabbit died suddenly and unexpectedly. We took him in with 3 other older rabbits from a woman who was selling her farm and needed to rehome them in 2009. He was one of a kind, not just in his size but also in his personality and heart. There will never be another.

This is the now famous Larry picture, to all who knew him. It was taken early the next morning. We got home late that night with the rabbits and Buckwheat (our buck) who at the time was 2 days old. It was a 6 hour trip and Buckwheat had never taken a bottle before, it was a long night! I put Larry on a diet after he arrived because while he is a giant, he was also overweight. We got him to a healthy weight and he's been a wonderful part of our family. We'll miss him. I have great pictures of him with Norman and Douglas in the house, but I found this picture from the same day of him outside with Flavious, who was a puppy at the time. Note the sizes!

It will be an early night hopefully for us since I'll be up early for the Vet, and Kevin will return to boiling. He's still working now, and planning on quitting tonight at 10 PM.

Goodnight all!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I promise I'll be back to blogging soon and checking in with all of you at your wonderful blogs :) Fighting a bad sinus infection at the moment, so other than managing the chores, I have been able to do little else. Hopefully shortly we'll all be back to our regular programming!

Monday, March 21, 2011

This morning

We woke up to a white world. 
Which is fitting since yesterday was the first day of spring. It's raining now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday visitors


The past few days the sun has been shining in through our big picture windows in our living room. Norman and Douglas have just been soaking up every bit of it, especially Norman. I think he dreams of being back in Arizona at our friend Steve's house at night. He loved the sunshine there and the heat.

We are pretty exhausted. Yesterday Kevin rested, he's fighting off a nasty chest cold, and my plan was to rest too but I tossed that out the window and mucked stalls, cleaned cages, moved furniture, clogged the sink and had to fix that, which lead to reorganizing all the cleaning supplies under the sink, etc, etc.

However, I've been sleeping good - exhaustion does help you get a good nights sleep! As anyone on a farm knows, spring is always tiring, it's when the most work needs to be done, can be done (now that things are thawing out) and when everything really starts happening at once. A few more months of this pace, and by mid-June it will be slightly slower and easier.

Yesterday afternoon while I was reading in my chair,  Kevin took this picture of Douglas. I could only see the front of him so didn't notice his entire rear end was hanging off the chair!


He was just hanging there, chewing on a toy. He's such a nut.

This afternoon I decided I had to take advantage of a walk in the forest since the snow is going away and it's so nice outside. Kevin joined me a little while into it and we checked some of the hillsides for antlers. We decided we'll get back to work boiling sap tomorrow, we needed a break and the weather is cold enough the sap buckets all have ice in them, which is good, it means the sap will not go bad on us.

We didn't manage to find any antlers, yet. I found some old bones, along the fence line of my horse pasture, they are from a deer but a couple years old.


This little guy was following me, every time I turned around he popped up. The same one, I could see him running around keeping an eye on me. I think he had something he didn't want me to get, maybe his food supply was nearby.

We walked for about an hour when we heard a vehicle coming in.  Our cousins Pete and Peg came by to visit. Peggy really wanted to check out the new evaporator and taste the maple syrup. She remembers when she was a little girl helping out in the sugar bush, and sticking her fingers in the pan to taste the syrup before it was done. She has told me that story many times, and she wanted to be able to do it again. She did, and boy was she excited! She gave us her seal of approval. They also had fun visiting with the animals, everyone here loves attention and never passes up an opportunity to get more of it!

Wrambler and Peter

Wrambler, Peggy, and Pete

Wrambler (shedding like crazy! I'll have to take the brush to him after chores tomorrow night) Me, Flavious, Peggy, Pete, and Buckwheat who was a complete attention hog as usual.

We visit them often but they rarely get down to our place because of our road being difficult for them to drive. Our road is through the worst part of the breakup but still a little rough. We really enjoyed their visit, as did all the animals. Bandit (the little bunny) sat in Peggy's lap in the house for a good hour straight!

After dinner I tossed together these orange pound cakes. They have a really nice flavor and are good with a big glass of milk.


Orange Pound Cake

makes 6-8 mini loafs, 2 regular loafs, or 1 Bundt

2 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup  unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups  granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole milk
zest of 1 large oranges

Preheat oven to 350 F, placing a rack in the middle of the oven.

Butter and flour your loaf pans, shaking out all excess flour and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk or sift together, set aside.

In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and cream together with butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the egg, beating thoroughly and scraping down the sides between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat just until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Add one-third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated, then add half of the milk, beating again until incorporated. Scrape down the sides in between each addition. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the remainder of the milk, then the remainder of the flour. Gently and quickly mix in the orange zest.

Spoon batter into your prepared pan(s).

I made mini loaves so my cakes took 30 minutes, just watch them and check them with a toothpick to see when they are done.

Now it's off to bed and back to work tomorrow. Lila (my oldest ewe) has bagged up so much now it's nearly touching the ground. So we'll see...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Syrup and playful critters


This morning started out with coffee and pancakes (with maple syrup of course) in the cold wind. The wind has been tearing through since last night, which is typical this time of year but not helpful while we are out boiling for two reasons, one it's cold on us, and, two it makes it harder to keep our boil going.

Morning wood chopping

Douglas is just so excited about working outside. He gets pretty excited about anything as long as he gets to be involved.

I'm a good helper dad!

Can I please have one of your sticks?

The goatie boys were playing up on the hill.... trying to decide who was bigger...

Buckwheat trying to fly

Boing, boing..

Basswood thinks he's the biggest!

The goats can watch us from their yard which is close to the house. They spend a good deal of their afternoon milling about seeing what we are doing.

Buckwheat and Bulrush

Here comes Mini Nut and Baby to check it out

Butternut looking for treats

Mini Nut had an itch and Flavious wanted to know if she needed any help

Wrambler and Flavious soaking up the sun

Butternut telling it like it is

Basswoods heart

Bulrush sneaking a sniff of Flav


Happy Flavious

Buckwheat just realxing

How can you not smile when you have goats in your life?

Douglas enjoyed a good run this morning now that the snow is gone...


Most of the snow is gone, there is still some in the bush that has not melted yet but it's going. The pond is really starting to break up.


Looking back at our make shift sugar camp from the hill...


Bandit came out to join the fun for a bit, before retiring inside, back to her pillow.




She lies there and looks out upon her kingdom and down at her lowly subjects (the Pug and the Chihuahua.)

The groundhog that lives in the yard (one of two, always fun to deal with nearing garden time) was out today.


...and the Robins are back.


Later in the afternoon we were getting close to syrup. I did a taste test (that's my job, it's a difficult one) and yum.




Our thermometer was getting close to the right temp....  it needs to be 7 degrees above the boiling point of water to get syrup, but we don't get it that high in the evaporator, we'll pull it before that so we do not burn it. We've set our thermometer so that 0 is boiling.

Yeti came out to watch for a bit...


Then we took off some of the syrup and bottled it, to store. We will need to strain it, finish it (on a smaller stove) and then strain it again before bottling. A lot of work yet to be done. We'll bring it all to this level and then finish it all and do the straining once the main boiling is done, and no those are not bottles of bourbon, they were at one time. They are 1/2 gallon jugs and they work perfect for this!



In this picture there is 2 1/2 gallons, but this is not completely finished syrup. Once this is finished boiling down we should have about 2 gallons finished from this batch. Lots more to come

When I came home from the barn after evening chores, I caught 10 Wild Turkeys in our front yard. They all took off flying once they spotted me so this is the best picture I could get. Do you see the one on the left of our bird feeder hanger?


And as I was taking this picture, Deer Norman popped up!


The end result after today's work, and the past few days is... we are tired. Even Norman, because we all know how hard he works around here all day.


I tossed together a quick pasta dish for supper, and I think we'll all be going to bed early tonight, so we can get up and start boiling again!

We are joining the homestead barnhop this week with this post, our first time! :)

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