Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our very own Bambi & Thumper

I took this picture of Buttons and one of the rabbits at the house the other day. It was too adorable not to share. I'm going to have to frame this one.

I was so worried about Buttons last night. It dropped to about -15 C but it felt like -25 with the windchill. It's the coldest it's been so far this winter, and it was sudden since we've had a strange winter, there was no real build up to the cold like usual. We got back from our trip to NY State about 8 PM and I went to the barn to give everyone more hay/straw and loaded them up. I took my hands out of my gloves for ease of work and one of them froze to the gate.

It was a gorgeous night, clear and the sky was full of stars. The big dogs just love that kind of weather. I was pretty worried about everyone, but the chickens and everyone did just fine, the barn was so hot this morning I had to take almost all of my winter outer clothes off to work in there.

Anyway, there was no sign of Buttons and then this morning, the dogs were barking so I went outside on the porch with my coffee to see if anything was going on. Something was going on. Deer Norman, one of our bucks was standing in the yard and looking out onto the pond in front of the house... I thought the fawn was walking on the ice but then my eyes adjusted to see clearly what it was... a coyote. At 11 AM on our pond. This isn't unusual in winter. He was heading towards the house, but heard me yell and turned around and went back across the pond. Deer Norman never even made a move, he just watched from the yard. This worried me even more seeing the coyote moving in.

At noon, the guy from our farm equipment showed up to help get the chains on our tractor tires for the winter, and just as he was finishing up with that, I was coming back from the barn and Buttons was at the house, waiting for us. The relief was great, and the two does without fawns who hang out together were right behind him. He made it through the cold too. We got some snow last night, but not enough to slow the deer movement down, but it's increased the coyote movement greatly, and it's decreased the amount of time Douglas and Norman spend peeing outside to about 1.5 seconds.

We brought 6 bottles of wine back from New York... I should have expained that it's not just organic wine, it's Frey's wine from Califronia and it has no detectable sulfties in it. Ontario sells organic wine, but not Frey's which is the only kind Kevin can drink and not have an allergic reaction. The border guards didn't care and actually took pity on the fact it's all Kevin can drink, at least I think they must have because they didn't charge him any duty on the wine, just wished him a Happy New Year!

This afternoon I have tons of groceries for New Years to put away and have to run into the village to get a pan for my cheesecake. The sun is out, but it's still about -10. The animals are enjoying the sunshine however and lying in the straw soaking up the sun.

The little dogs are right where they belong... lying by the fire.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheese hand pies

I've been meaning to make this recipe for a while now, it just called out to me from the first time I looked through this cookbook. It turned out lovely and it couldn't be easier to put together. Tessa says in her book, one or two of these make a nice snack - but I think you'll find it hard to only eat one or two of them. We both loved them, even the dogs approved, but then, they are not very critical of anything. I put the vinegar jug on the floor to get it out of my way while cooking and they were both obsessed with it... have you seen many dogs that want to eat vinegar? Usually the smell kind of offends them, but not Douglas and Norman! I think it makes them think of pickles and they love those!

This is my version of the recipe - Tessa uses Feta cheese in these and Parmesan, which would be great too... I loved the cottage cheese in these however, and it's what I had. I like the tang the Romano gives it as well. These are worth making, you'll love the result. The pastry is lovely and flaky too - everything you want in a little pie.

Cheese pies
adapted from Apples for Jam, by Tessa Kiros
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs butter cut into blocks
1/2 tsp salt
1 small egg, lightly beaten
3 1/2 tbs milk
2 tsp white vinegar
3/4 cup cottage cheese (drained)
1/2 cup smooth ricotta cheese
2 tsp finely grated Romano cheese
pinch salt & pepper
2 small eggs
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp milk
For the pastry, put the flour and butter in a bowl and add 1/2 tsp of salt. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it is crumbly. Add the eggs and milk, and the vinegar. Mix it in well so that the dough forms a loose ball. Flatten it slightly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. For the filling, mash the cheeses together, and the salt, pepper, 1 egg, and paprika, mix well.

Whip the remaining egg together with the 1 tsp of milk for glaze. Roll out your pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8inch thick. Cut 4 inch rounds with a cookie cutter or a glass, cutting them as closely together as you can. Re roll the scraps if you need to. Brush around the edges of the pastry circles with the glaze. Place about 1/2 - 1 tsp of filling in the middle of each round, spreading it out lightly into an oval (you want enough filling to make the pie tasty, but not so it's spilling out the sides.) Flip the pastry over your thump and forefinger to make half moons. Stretch out the ends to lengthen and then them a bit. Press the edges together firmly to seal, then roll them over to make a lip so that no filling can escape. Put the pies on the sheets and brush the tops with glaze. Bake one sheet at a time for 20 minutes until they are all nicely browned on top and bottom. Let cool - these are best eaten warm, not pipping hot. They are good cold too. And they are all looong gone. Enjoy!

Now I'm off to smuggle Organic wine across the border... but that's another story! (Please don't worry, we are not really smuggling it... we'll pay the 63%, yes, 63% tax on it.) Can't buy it in this Provience... so either we move to British Columbia or the United States... in the meantime, we pay horrible taxes so Kevin can enjoy the only wine he can drink without getting sick! It's worth it for New Years.
Stay warm everyone! We are getting our first real winter day today, it's blowing and snowing, and the goats are staying in where it's warm and dry!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Over the holidays...

For those of you have seen the movie "hell raiser" this might remind you of it! On Christmas Eve, it was cold outside... colder than it has been. I've never seen this happen before, but the sheep all had hay frozen on their faces. I guess the moisture from their breath caused it - it was the weirdest/funniest thing I've seen in a long time and I just couldn't stop laughing at Horace. Hell raiser is a horror movie where the guy has pins sticking out all over his face.

Poor Lila got it too. Lambie did as well but being white, it didn't look half as scary as it did on the black sheep! It was just too hilarious for words.

On Christmas Eve, our helper Jim came over for dinner. I had him help me put antlers on some of the critters. I put the antlers on Max & Flav myself earlier in the day and judging from that mess, I figured I could really use some back up.

Sammy didn't really mind, he just thought he should give me a kiss or two...

Max was playing with a stick when he saw the antlers were back - see that look? Please no, no more!

Bea was fairly cooperative as well. Once Max knew he wasn't my target, he came over to investigate.

While I was trying to get them onto Brie, Sammy decided to eat my new hat I got from Jim for Christmas...

Lambie wanted a kiss, which is his favorite thing... and to check out what I was doing..

He didn't however, want the antlers on his head!

and all day, someone slept in a sunbeam on the couch...

and someone else, played with all his new stuff!

Santa came in the form of the UPS man and brought me a new laptop! No more having to use the old one on battery which only lasts an hour... then stop everything, turn it off, and wait an hour and half to charge the battery again... I love the new laptop. I had Windows Vista on my old one, this one has Windows 7 which is better, but I'm having to learn how to use it since I was used to Vista (even though I never liked it.) It's been interesting!

We've stuffed ourselves, and I've been doing dishes for about two days now. Yesterday we laid low here and did pretty much nothing, which was really quite nice. I hope everyone has enjoyed the holiday.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Amazingly after all the mud and rain December has given us, we are having a white Christmas! Yesterday morning we woke up to a complete winter wonderland, it was so beautiful outside, cold, but calm, with snow on all the trees, branches, and glistening in the sunshine. I have many pictures to share from the past few days, but for now, I want to wish all of my blog readers, friends, and family, a very Merry Christmas and thank each of you for joining in our life here, for your comments, and also your friendship.

I hope each of you have a beautiful holiday with the people and animals you love. The snow is falling here today, and I woke up this morning to find deer sleeping our yard... it seems Santa forgot some of his reindeer :)

Even though it's just the two of us humans, I'll be cooking up a storm today.... after everyone gets their special treats for the day, I'll be making garlic crusted prime rib, glazed brussels sprouts, sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, dutches potatoes, sour cream dinner rolls...  so all afternoon I'll be in the kitchen making a huge mess!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas past

The first day of winter brought us rain and mud. It's been an unusual winter so far. It's been pretty similar to our winter of 2006/07. These pictures are from Christmas day, 2006. We didn't get snow until January of that year and even then, not a lot if I remember correctly. I'll have to look back! The day after Christmas we left the farm and headed to Pennsylvania to pick Norman the Chihuahua up and they didn't have any snow either.

one of our first ewes and her lamb 

 Hickory goose

 Jackson in his winter woolies

Kevin at the creek 

 our big creek

Baby Braveheart (Lambie) outside with Thumper 

 First visit back to the barnyard, "go see your friends!"

 Lambie says "I don't know about this..."

 no one was interested in the visiting lambie

 oh come on guys, it's your baby brother!

hiding with his mama

baby Charlie

 the crew

 lambie sleeping at my chair

My Christmas present for that year... a healthy Lambie, finally!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Morning frost

These pictures are from yesterday morning... today it's warm again and all the snow and ice is long gone. Feels like rain coming in again. 

It was beautiful with the sunshine and frost yesterday morning. Bright, cold, and calm.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chocolate cranberry cookies

 It's potluck time over at IHCC this week... I had something else in mind, but since I had baking to do today, cookies fit right in with the rest of the sweets I was making... Molasses brownies, chocolate crinkles and Tessa's chocolate cranberry cookies. Someone else made these at IHCC, and I've had my eye on the recipe ever since. Chocolate and cranberries are one of my favorite combinations. I had an entire bag of mini chocolate chips starring me in the face anyway, just begging to be put into some cookies.

Chocolate cranberry cookies 
adapted from Apples for Jam, by Tessa Kiros

5 1/2 tbs butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Beat the butter and sugars until fluffy and then mix in the egg and vanilla. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add a small pinch of salt. Stir in the chocolate and cranberries.

Lightly moisten your hands and roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place them on your greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Let cool completely. These keep nicely for a few days.

These cookies went over well at home, but most of them ended up going into baked good packages for family. This is a cookie recipe I think I'll make often, quick to put together and they stay soft even the day after baking.

IHCC Tessa Kiros Button

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buttons and a little cold

Buttons was here this afternoon. He showed up with Deer Norman and the two Tom turkeys. Seems they are traveling as a little group. I hope he's befriended Deer Norman, although it's hard to tell. It's unlikely Deer Norman will protect Buttons, but it's always good to have friends... especially ones with big horns!

We were heading out to work on the floor for the sugar shack, until the tractor had some minor problems that needed tending to.

The snow we got last night didn't amount to much, just a light dusting of fluffy stuff. But the cold did arrive today - it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about -7 C. But the wind chill made it feel even colder. Tonight at about 9 PM, it's 10 F. So it's cold... obviously this isn't terrible cold, but it is the coldest it's been this month.

If you are trying to imagine how cold that is... basically, it was cold enough to freeze the beer we were drinking while we were ah... working on the sugar shack.

We got the rest of the joists in and got the box built. In the middle of that box, we'll put cement blocks, which is what the maple syrup evaporator will sit on... that way, the evaporator which has a hot fire burning in it all day, won't be sitting on wood... which obviously wouldn't be a good thing. 

We worked as long as we could, until just after 4 PM when the cold got to us too much. We were pretty much frozen from the wind and ready to go inside and warm up a little. When I did evening chores everyone was looking pretty chilled. I gave everyone extra straw tonight to snuggle into. 

The ones who really love the cold and the snow are the Pyrs... they are the most playful and puppy like in winter and on a nice brisk day.They love snuggling into their straw once and a while, but they do love this time of year and this temperature.

The fire is burning hot tonight to get this house nice and toasty warm. Tomorrow will be a day of baking and visiting... we have company coming over and some goodies to drop off for others. I also need to get my package ready for the mail lady. Want to ensure good mail delivery? Always remember to put goodies in the mailbox for the mail carrier! Works like a charm!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Feels like spring...

It's the 16th of December and it was about 9 C outside which is about 47 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly). We are knee deep in mud. Last night at 5 PM when I went up to the barn, you didn't even need a sweater it was so warm. The temperature is supposed to drop overnight and be cooler tomorrow, but the long range forecasts are calling for warm weather all through Christmas. I remember other winters without snow, but none this warm.

This afternoon, we had some carrots. Everyone was pretty excited about it. Especially Buckwheat... he thought maybe he could reach it with his tongue.... if it was just a little longer, or the carrot a little closer!

Oh yum... 

Biscuit tried to eat hers all at once, until she figured out maybe she should, chew it...

Yesterday it poured rain and was super windy. It's was pretty miserable. The animals all stayed inside the warm barn and I stayed inside as much as I could in between chores.The Prairie dogs hardly bothered getting out of bed because it was dark and dreary outside. They are also more active on sunny days this time of year.

Wednesday we went shopping all day in New York State. We got home around 10:30 PM and on the time I finished the barn chores and we unloaded the truck and got the perishables put away it was midnight. We were beat. I could haul logs all day and not feel as tired as I do from shopping. I hate it. I absolutely hate shopping. It was made worse by the fact we had to leave the farm the two days before as well. I'm hoping we won't have to leave until at least after Christmas now, although I may have to run out next week to drop off some cookie packages. When we grocery shop, we do it for a couple months, (with everything we can) so it's always a bit of a chore to put it away. You should see the rest of the counter, and uh... the floor. The dogs love it because they look through every single bag to see what's in it. This time, they found new squeaker toys in one of the bags and they didn't even hesitate to start pulling them out!

The important thing is, we stocked up on the essentials for this time of year...

It was quite a chore getting the decorations out and working on the tree. Kevin is allergic - which we didn't know, so he was sick after helping me get the lights hung up. I've still got decorations to be put up or away.

Norman wondering why we are making such a mess

why is this tree in here?

Norman watching the entertainment

and then, relaxing by the fire...

well it works, that's a start!

The little orphan fawn, Buttons is still here. We set the camera up to try and get a picture of him under the porch but the pictures were all blurred when I last looked - someone was standing too close to the camera. I found the two wild turkeys that hang around under the porch today in his straw, so it's hard to say what goes on under there. A couple of nights ago we heard a noise under the porch and couldn't figure out what it was... The next day, Kevin found that "someone" had tripped over the cord going to the tractor from he house... so he moved it so Buttons wouldn't trip again. Buttons seems to be hanging around the bigger bucks, but still keeping his distance. If one of them would accept him (which they sometimes do) he'll be a lot safer this winter. This afternoon I spotted him in one of the fields behind the house by our apple tree, all alone.. I'm not sure why he was over there, but behind that field there is a big marsh and lots of juniper bushes for cover, so maybe he is bedding down there.

Later in the afternoon, he showed up with Deer Norman.

 and so did the two Toms. 

 We do have some odd couples around here and some strange groups of friends.

I love this picture of the doe we call "Big eye" because she has so much white around her eyes, she is very easy to tell apart from the other does. She is the one who had the fawn with the big lump on his chest this fall. She's been a local for several years, five that I know of.

The chickens were happy to be out after hiding inside their house during the rain... 
 We've been making progress on the floor for our sugar shack. We got some of the joists put in place today, we would have had it finished but we ran out of daylight by 4:40 and gave up. We could have used flash lights but it wasn't worth it. We'll finish it up hopefully tomorrow and then next month, we'll put the money into the flooring.

The road to the wood yard, which is where we are putting our sugar shack, is all mud.

It's snowing outside now, but just lightly. The dogs have officially called it a night...

 and us humans are going to try and stay up a little longer and watch a movie with a hot cup of Chai tea.

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