Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Back to work

This morning I woke up to an overcast sky, a cool breeze coming in through the screen door in our bedroom and the loud, horrible sound that can be compared only to nails on a chalkboard. What is this sound?

One of the Prairie dogs heavy ceramic bowls stuck underneath their wheel, which they were trying to run on anyway without bothering to move the bowl.

Ah the sounds of the farm.

It has been overcast all day, but very hot and very humid. I haven't minded the little breeze that comes through once and a while though. I have been leading Izzie the Jersey to fresh grass everyday. She does not love walking on a lead yet - she is stubborn and cranky, and acts just as one would expect a teenage cow to act. But she'll get over it. She is very calm, and despite throwing a small fit when she has to start walking on a lead, she is gentle, just inpatient. I kill her with patience. It's working so far. She hopes I'll give up, but I won't, and after three days of it, she walked like an angel this morning without a single problem. I have visions of me and Izzie strolling through the forest together in the near future.

I've been looking for one of those "Princess lives here" signs they sell for girls rooms, to hang on her the gate to her stall.

After letting all the goats out I watched to see where Bea, my little yearling Saanen was getting out. Our caretaker told us she was getting out of the fence. She is spoiled and wants to do her own thing. I cause half of this problem because I often let her out to eat while I sit nearby. It took only a few seconds to watch her run to the back of the pasture where we have a temporary gate built, it had come loose from it's posts and was hanging free so she could easily climb underneath. She went out into the wood yard happily grazing. I went to the house to let Kevin know, and when I started out to bring her in from the wood yard, she was already at the house.

I cleaned a few stalls, cleaned the turkeys who are growing like weeds, and finished the usual chores of watering, feeding.... after feeding the chickens (who are also growing like weeds) I went out and picked fresh grass for all the rabbits and the buckling kids, they are in a separate spot now since they are being weaned.

The ducks are doing great in their temporary outside yard.... remember those fuzzy little ducklings?

They are all grown up now!

Yesterday the sheep got sheared, finally. It has been wet and cool this spring, so it wasn't a problem that the shearer got here later. We have a great guy to shear them but he's very busy, and considering I only have a handful of sheep, I'm glad he comes.... before I found this fellow we've had for three years, I used to call a dozen in the spring and no one would even return my call. Once I called a shearer in April and he called me back the end of August and wanted to know if he should come out and shear them. I had found someone else in June, so they were done anyway, but I was surprised he'd even bother asking if he should come the end of August? It's a little late for that bud.

The sheep get goofy once their wool is off... they look so silly too, Max had to sniff everyone really well to make sure those were his sheep still!

Lambie and Horace were itching themselves on the gate a lot once their wool was off.

Kevin and I went out for a quick ride together but found a lot of trees blocking the trails, so we'll have to go and clean that up on a nicer day.

I did happen to find these however...

There are still wild strawberries out! And I found several green ones which means I'll have a chance to get some more ripe ones. I need to get up very early and head out to my best berry patch which is way back in the bush... I'll have to get around 5 AM before the deer flies come out because it's nearly impossible to be in the forest right now when they are at their peak, not only do you get eaten alive, it hurts like heck.

There were lots of new flowers out...

And we found that our apple trees are loaded with apples, so hopefully we'll have a good fall.... I can taste the cider and jelly now!

I picked some fresh timothy for the Prairie dogs which they love...

I cleaned the chicken coop this afternoon, and worked a little more in the garden. I headed up to the barn to check on everyone's water, and when I closed the door to my barn and looked directly to my right, just a couple feet away was a huge black snake coiled up on one of my grain bins with his teeth barred at me. Yikes. Not what you want to see! I pulled him out of the barn and called in the recruits... first Max, who came to help and then ran off once the snake snapped at him... he's killed dozens before but he decided to leave this one to me I guess.... so I got Kevin to deal with it. He wasn't welcome in my barn with my small animals in there. If he only ate mice it would be great, but that's unlikely.

After finishing up the rest of my chores, I came inside to clean the birds and Prairie dogs and work on my never ending loads of laundry. In between that I made up some refrigerator pickles. The crockpot is slow cooking a pork roast in apple cider and BBQ sauce, and I'll make a dilled potato salad to go along with it. My potted dill is calling to me start using it up, it's at it's prime.

Easy refrigerator pickles
6 cups thinly sliced cucumber 2 cups thinly sliced onions 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed 1/2 teaspoon celery seed 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Place cucumbers and onions in a large bowl; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook and stir just until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over cucumber mixture; cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

It's windy outside this evening, alternating between a sunny sky and a dark one... I think it's a good enough evening for a drink on the porch swing with the dogs though, before it's time for evening chores.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We are home

Three weeks of traveling, and we've finally made it home. The above picture is a lobster trap we brought home with us, one of Kevin's treasures.We returned to the farm last night and today we spent an exhausting day trying to start catching up. The garden needs a tremendous amount of TLC, there were fences to fix, a duck pen to build, hooves and dog nails to trim, a house in need of cleaning... the list goes on. We put a good dent in things today but we've got a lot to catch up on.

We had a great trip to Nova Scotia despite the fact it rained the entire time. The weather was just not on our side, and we were not able to see anything when we went along the Cabot trail. But we had a good time visiting with family, and on the way home we went through Maine and managed to find the sun for one night and most of the next day. We had a couple great nights camping with beautiful spots in the forest or next to the ocean along the way where we were the only campers.

We are happy to be home though, despite all the work that was waiting for us. 

Last night while inspecting my garden I got my first handful of goodies from it....

The lettuce is abundant, and everything is growing really well. I cannot wait to eat these guys!

The dogs were both amazing this trip, they are always good, but they were especially good this trip and had a great time. They are so happy to be home though, and Douglas has been helping me weed the garden today in between trying to steal my tomatoes. Norman enjoyed relaxing on the porch.

Somewhere in the midst of todays work, I managed to bake a pie. I'm going to sit and enjoy a piece before calling it a night. I'll post a much better update after I get some more sleep!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gardening and chickens

Today was a beautiful day, sunny outside but with a nice cool breeze, which was great for working.

Jackson came out to mow the grass a bit for me...

Kevin managed to get the chicken run finished a couple days ago, but the birds haven't been sure whether they wanted to go out or not...


OK I'll come and have a look around...

Ruby thought maybe there might be something good to eat.

All the blueberries got planted today, all 25 of them.

The birds thought maybe they would come out to check out what we were planting...

The blueberries are very happy to be in the ground...

The little chicks are growing like weeds...

I picked the first of my swiss chard tonight, yum... lots more to come :)

This evening I got all my peas, yellow and green beans, 3 types of onions, 2 rows of corn, and 25 pounds of potatoes planted. That's the bulk of it. When we come back from our trip, we'll plant some more corn and our grape vines, which we are going to leave on the deck up high where they are safe until we come back.

Tomorrow hopefully we'll pack the camper and tie up all the remaining loose ends, so we can hit the road!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer is here

As expected, we've been running around trying to get all our jobs done so we can take our trip to Nova Scotia. There has been an ever growing list of must do jobs, and then a list of jobs that just pop up along the way and have to be done... like getting the truck fixed, which has taken 3 days out of our work time. It's hot, humid, and very windy lately... it's been threatening to thunder storm for a couple of nights now.

Kevin went out to break the beaver dam that keeps our big pond in front of the house full, just so we could lower the water level a bit since it was taking over our yard and chicken run being because it was so high. The water was nearly over the dam, which is also a road, and he managed to get stuck... bad... I looked across the pond from the house and saw the above sight.

We tried to get him out with the mule (ATV) winch, but it wasn't strong enough to keep the tractor from going over sideways in that deep mud. I pulled him out a bit, but not enough. So we had to call in the troops, with a bigger tractor and winch. If our winch had been on the tractor, our log winch, it would have been fine, but it was off since we've been using the rototiller for the garden. Next time, we'll remember.

We got some great news today that our caretaker does not have a deadline for us to be back, so we will be able to be more flexible on our trip, always welcome news.

We also had some sad news, Quad the duck passed away. He's been doing just fine, although I noticed about two days ago that when he falls over, he has a hard time getting up because his back end is so long. But otherwise, he's been getting along. I looked him over and could not see anything wrong, other than his back end... we know his system was not set up right inside, so I am assuming something happened, but I don't know for sure. He would have been a month old tomorrow - which surprises me, I thought he'd pull through having made it this long.

My order of Cuckoo Marans and Silver Dorkling chickens did not hatch - they could have had another order for me in a couple weeks, but we will be on the road, so I had to let it go this year. When I come home I'll find some hens nearby to buy and add to my small little flock for now.

The geese in our pond at the house brought their goslings into the yard by our bedroom the other day and Kevin got a picture, they are so darned cute!

Our grape vines... 15 of them.

We've been working to get our main garden finished up - we are almost done. It might seem late, but usually we plant by the 1st of June, and the weather was miserable this May for planting, cold and super wet.

On our way home from town this afternoon, one of our maples lost a limb right over the road...

So we walked home and Kevin got the tractor to clear the road...

I got the rest of my snapdragons planted today. My Papa used to grow them, so they always remind me of him. I can't wait until the flowers are out to see Douglas reaction to them.

Doug was checking out the grape vines. We've got about 50 pots on our sundeck.

The Prairie dogs enjoyed their evening treat...

This picture pretty much sums up Nelly... suspicious, paranoid... but really cute. Look at the lip hanging!

While I was out with the dogs, I took a picture of the garden and noticed there was something on the road...

It was a painted turtle...

Douglas spotted it and wanted to check it out...

Hmmm.... what is this?

He's lucky it wasn't a snapping turtle... he hasn't seen one of those yet. Our old dog Buddy got bit on the face more than once messing with a snapping turtle.

This evening it cooled off considerably as the storm started moving in, and the dogs loved it....

Izzie was checking out her best friend, Buckwheat... She is saying "is it really you? I don't remember you being this fat before...."

Some of my goats coats are still changing and two of them have a lot of heavier coat left, but it's really just started to warm up. They probably got confused about when to loose all of it with the recent cold. When we put our chicks, ducklings, and turkey poults out about a week or so ago now, it went down to 40 degress F that night! We were afraid we'd loose some, but everyone was just fine.

Mini Nut and her kid. All the kids are growing up. They sure love playing! And I love watching them.

Tomorrow we'll finish planting our potatoes and corn, and whatever else is left, if it's not raining. We finished eating diner tonight at about 9:45 which is decent considering we keep eating later and later! We've almost got the big projects out of the way though, which will help us get back on track with everything else.

One last picture to share... I finally hung up my sign.

I want to thank everyone for reading for the blog and for all of your comments, I read each and every one and really appreciate them!

I hope you all have most of your spring chores behind you now...
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