Sunday, January 31, 2010

Andrew's Heaven

After spending the afternoon snowshoeing and being outside, the last place most people would want to go it to help do barn chores in a cow barn, not Andrew. He has been after me to let him have a cow for what seems like forever, (at age 7 he opened a saving account to save his money for one!) and I fully intend for him to have one, but he needs to be a bit stronger and older first. Well, a local farmer and friend invited him over to help with the feeding tonight. By the look on his face you'd have thought I'd just given him a cow! He was going to be able to be near them and for that minute it was enough, he was happy and so was I, for him.

The farm we went to has Scottish Highland cows and Holstein heifers, the Holsteins just happen to be Andrews favorite!! though Texas Longhorns are a very close second. They walked out into the pasture to feed the Highlands, pictured below.

Before they came into the heifer barn they had to slide down the frozen manure pile! What?! not your idea of fun either?!
Andrew inside feeding the Holsteins hay, making sure he did it exactly like the farmer showed him.

Trying not covet, having a really hard time not to.

He was even allowed to grain them. as you can see the girls knew what was happening and wanted him to hurry! Andrew will sleep well tonight and have sweet dreams I'm sure. Sweet in this case is perspective, after we got home he didn't take his jacket off because it smelled like the cows. I'm positive he'll ask to wear it to bed.

Family Fun Day!

Our local land trust stewards hosted a Family Fun Day today which the kids and I attended. We brought snow shoes, others brought skis and some brought sleds, it was only 21 degrees, (a heat wave compared to the past few days!) so they made a bonfire to warm up next to after you came back from one of the above mentioned activities. There was a table filled with brownies and cookies and another with hot chocolate, tea and coffee. It looked delish, but truthfully, I did not want to pry myself away from the fire, I was too cold! (Note to self, next time wear the long underwear!)

What a nice way to meet more of the locals and get some fresh air and exercise. I had an interesting conversation with a local farmer about GMO's, (don't even get me started!) herbicides, organics and dairy farming, these were my kind of people and though this is not every persons cup of tea, or hot chocolate as it were, I found it stimulating and enjoyable. What?! talking about the digestive bacteria in the rumen of a cow or goat is not part of your average conversation? I'm sorry.

Next to the trail on one of the walking loops is this "glacial erratica" I think that's what it is called. I was expecting something more, to me it looks like a large rock to others though it's a glacial erratica. You say tomato.... The kids saw an opportunity to see if they could conquer it. They did. We enjoyed our afternoon and all hope they do this again.

Race Day!

For the past few years the kids and I have entered a Grand Prix/mini soapbox derby type race, as we saw the first year, the speed category would not be our category to compete in, it's VERY competitive, in a good way! So we go with what we know, we're creative so that's where we compete. For this years entries this is what we came up with. I did Noah's ark.

Andrew's car was inspired by a pirate's "Boot Gun" he saw at the gun show we attended a few weeks ago, it's "A double barrel pistol, 58 special boot gun." Just ask him...

He got 4th place for design in his category....

Faith's car was inspired by her new kitten, excuse me, her Christmas Kitten. She made the cat out of polymer clay.

She got 2nd place for design in her category.
This was my entry for last year which people are still talking about. Which pleases me and makes me laugh.

Two more hats!

I've been rather busy this week/weekend, I finished two more hats, I just love the style and cannot help myself. I need to buy some warmer fiber to work with or actually get my llama fiber to the spinning mill and then I'll have a ton to work with. But like I said I'm using what I have on hand and using that up first. So here's a spruce-y green number and I 'girled' it up a bit with some sparkly buttons.
This brim is called mistake stitch ribbing and I made it because I loved the name. What a hoot and it comes out like this?! Now that's a mistake I can make again and feel good about! I feel like this one need a deeper purple button or two, I'll have to check out my stash and see what I've got. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Something finished this way comes!!

Yesterday I posted the beginning of this project, this hat. Like I said yesterday, I've been trying out some new skills and knitting techniques learned be reading knitting for dummies. One of them was the moss stitch, when I did it in the practice swatch I thought, "This would look nice as the brim of a hat." So I made one. I'd already made a rolled brim hat from a pattern that my grandmother had given me and modified it slightly into the button flap hat you see below.

This was my first attempt with circular needles, interesting, I think I'd like it with a bit more practice.
the finished product!!

Faith modeling the hat, not too bad.
*It's not as warm as I'd like, it's acrylic, but for this it's ok and I used what I had on hand.

Power Outage

We had a humdinger of a storm last night and lost power, again. Actually we're very used to it at this point, if there is a slight chance that somebody in the state might lose power, ours automatically goes out, last night was no exception. I was surprised that it didn't go out earlier than it did and came back on as soon as it did, it was a wicked storm! The kids and I sat at the table and while they played a board game I knitted. It made me think of the pioneers, they really must have wanted freedom, (in various senses of the word) to have stayed here. I actually don't mind power outages, at least temporary ones, I wouldn't want to live that way for long, I like my electricity. Though not having the tv blaring is nice, I'd miss the internet if it was off for too long.
The kids had a blast, I don't think they mind outages either, once we get a candle lit...

Monday, January 25, 2010

something warm this way comes...

I'm not a knitter, my grandmother is and I think she secretly wishes I was one, but alas, I'm not. That is not to say that I cannot knit, I can and I do, sort of. I've been flipping through the book knitting for dummies and decided to try the moss stitch pattern. Not being happy just doing that I decided to create something with that pattern. It's not done yet, but I'll post it when it is, the good the bad and the ugly of it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Update on Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

Just wanted to share that our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes were delivered to Madagascar and Zambia! This was the first year that Samaritans Purse did the tracking on them and I really enjoyed it as we pack these shoe boxes with love and always wonder where they go, well this year we know! I think it's great! One year my son got a letter and a picture back from the recipient, talk about a little boy being over the moon!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My new best friend

Right now it seems as though it's snowed here everyday for the past three years. I'm sore, (from falling off the ladder while climbing onto the roof to shovel it off), tired (of many things, including the snow) and ready for spring. However, I am so thankful I was able to get the snow blower fixed this fall because I know I would be all of these things tenfold if I had to shovel all this. Moreover, I'm moved to tears in appreciation to my children, because they've been right out there with me helping without complaining and I never even asked for their help.

I'm going to peruse my stack of seed catalogs for about three minutes before I drift off to a much needed night of slumber. Here's to hoping the sun comes out tomorrow!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'll give it a whirl!

Often I've had people say to me "Oh, you're so talented, I could never do that." (Before you think I'm tooting my horn, let me say, I'm not and please keep reading.) Personally I don't think I'm any more or less talented than anybody else. I'm just willing to try something and fail at it or succeed in some cases. Lots of people are not that willing. Best I can figure I'm only getting one go round in this life and I don't want to end up at the end of it saying, "Damn! I wish I'd tried this or that..." I've tried lots of things in my life and I'm interested in trying more, (Sorry Ron!) that's how I live, learn, grow, laugh and love, I try it. (I just reread that last sentence and sound like a play-school commercial!) I don't know if I'm capable of walking on the moon or not, I've not done that yet and it's sad to think I'd miss out on the opportunity to do it just because I thought I couldn't. I don't know if I'm capable of changing a tire on my truck as I've not done it, yet. I do know that I am capable of pressure canning tomatoes fresh from my garden, I've tried it and will add they are mighty delicious! Truthfully it saddens me when people say they couldn't do what I do when they have not even tried, I totally understand that people would not want to do some of what I do, but that is not my point. For trying most things my attitude is 'ok, I'll give it a whirl!'

My latest project, (because it is a sitting down project which doesn't require much lung or sinus activity which is a good thing considering Im still tring to fight off this ridiculous head cold) is having a go at spinning the pygora fiber I harvested from Blackberry, (our pygora wether) this past spring. I'd like to try spinning it on a wheel, but am happy to be able to start off on a drop spindle. It's only about a pound of fiber, thankfully, otherwise it might seem too daunting a task to bite off; for sure I'm not attempting the nearly seven or so pounds of llama fiber I have to do next, I'll send it to the local spinning mill! Actually it's really quite fun and I'm looking forward to having a finished project; that down the road a bit, I still need to finish spinning, then ply it and then knit something.... His fiber is so silky soft to spin and is a nice charcoal gray, my husband keeps telling me that he needs a scarf to go with his black jacket, so we'll see, one step at a time. Baby steps even. So my hope for you is that when something comes up that your first reaction is to think you cannot do that, try this instead, 'ok, I'll give it a whirl!"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

WOW what an experience!

Today went a bit different than I planned, though my days often do. I went to the gun show as planned and I'll tell you that I had no idea guns came in that many shapes or sizes! It was an experience! My son is very happy about being given two post cards that were signed by a real life Texas Ranger!! (His favorite movie is Lonesome Dove, and loves the character of Robert Duval.) He was stunned to say the least when the guy behind the counter handed them to him, rarely is my son speechless and today he genuinely was! After the show we went to my parents home and did some target practicing, for today that was more fun than sewing in the basement; so it looks like I'll be a little later opening my shop but since there's no pressing deadline I guess it will be fine.

Friday, January 15, 2010

An afternoon in my life

So this afternoon I started a fire in the wood stove to warm it up so that I can sew/quilt down there tonight, while I waited for that to happen, I baked the caramel corn you see above and yes, it's delicious! Just in from barn chores and milking, now after I get this posted I'm going to go sew as the basement has warmed up. Yeah! Tomorrow I'll do the barn chores and head to a gun show, come home and sew and quilt, hopefully be the time this weekend is over I'll have enough stuff done to finally open my etsy shop....something I've contemplated doing for a year now and just seems like it's time. What? this strikes you as odd? baking, sewing, guns and etsy? Just another day in my life!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

soapbox - apple juice

I opened a frozen juice concentrate yesterday and happened to notice that the silver metal top said that it was a product of China, (to make us feel better about it maybe it did say that it was packaged in USA....ooohhh) much to my disappointment; had I seen that when I purchased it I would have put it back in the freezer case at the supermarket. Seriously?! China! Please let me say that I have nothing personally against China, I just want to support American companies, or produce my own, call me crazy, (oh that's right some of you do already!) I live in New England and in the fall what is New England known for, well, besides the fall foliage.....yes, we're known for pumpkins and hay wagon rides to the orchards to pick APPLES!! At the place we go they serve hot spiced apple cider and I'll admit that I've had a number of other ciders in my day and this place is the BEST! My parents even shipped some to me when I lived out West because it truly is the best and I couldn't get it there and there is NO comparison. I digress, well sort of. Making juice yesterday made me think why are we not producing enough of our own apple juice or cider here so that we have enough to make it through a year? Or are we and we just prefer the "convenience" of the supermarket until they drive out competition then hike the prices because they can? All the while standing by and hoping what we know is happening really isn't.

Meanwhile, I've realized that since there really is no comparison why was I buying the frozen concentrate anyway? It's watery, odd colored, (which made me think what did they do to it that makes it look like that anyway?) and really doesn't taste all that great. I've decided that although it may be a bit more effort and require a bit more planning that buying apple cider to which, as I've stated there is no comparison is worth it! Let's raise a glass of cider to toast local!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Meet the Cast - Jessica

Faith asked for a "Christmas Kitten" for Christmas and woke up to this little cutie on Christmas morning. She's named her Jessica and is doing an excellent job taking care of her! Wow, kittens are energetic! Jessica sleeps with Faith every night; on the foot of her bed, like a dog would do. It's cute.
This picture was taken in her hiding place; under the dining room table, on a seat cushion.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Year End Totals

Inspired a post on another blog I decided to participate in a harvest challenge. I found out about it last year, mid year, but that's the story of my life, a day late and a dollar short, but wanted to see just how much I could grow on my own. It was exciting and tedious at the same time. I liked seeing the totals grow, but was not as excited about having to weigh EVERYTHING. (My scale only holds about 4lbs at a time...) Anyway, in 2008, after I found out about the challenge I started weighing what I produced and at the end of the year I had a little over 503 pounds and 706 eggs. When 2009 started I was ready to hit the ground running and was SO excited about the challenge little did I know what was in store for me. I even went as far as starting most of the plants from seed (read GEEK here) I worked really hard and just knew that our garden would be bountiful. Little did I know it would rain all spring and most of the summer, and we wont even go there with the blight, (thank you big box stores! grrrrr) Needless to say our garden was pathetic at best, out of about 30ish tomato plants we got roughly 14 lbs of fruit, most of which had to be thrown away due to the blight. We did however have out goat deliver twins and with them came a lot of milk, and where there is milk there is cheese and butter. I did not include the cheese or butter I made in my year end total because I figured it would be like counting it twice... So here it is, my year end total, it includes all the food that we bartered for, grew ourselves or were given from surplus from another gardener etc. Our total food weight is..... drum roll please............

1592 pounds and 2561 eggs!

When you consider that just over 1300 lbs of that is milk weight the total really stinks. I'll admit I'm happy that I was able to grow any of my own food, but sadly disappointed with the outcome as far as food weight. Had we not had SO much rain I know the total would be way higher. I grew zucchini and only harvested 6/7 squash off 3 plants!! anybody who's ever grown zucchini knows that that is the only time of year people lock their doors for fear someone might stuff excess zucchini in their car or on the kitchen table! It grows like crazy! I'm not giving up though, I'm going to try again next year but won't take part in the challenge, (I'm taking a year or more off from weighing everything...humm wonder what I'll do with the free time....actually have a life!) I get immense satisfaction in knowing that the organic seeds I plant and tend grow into food I can feel good about eating and serving my family and no amount of rain will deter me from that!

Tomato, mozzarella and basil all grown or made here at From the Country Farm!! It was as delicious as it looks!