Thursday, September 30, 2010

I need a few of these!

The other day somewhere between washing the pigs, hopping into the pen to poop scoop and greasing them up before the show (of course I'm serious! Just when I thought I'd seen it all after what some might call 'pimping the cows' I find out what extent it can be done to the pigs! Oi!) I spotted a market lamb in a pen that caught my eye. I have a soft spot for lambs as it was a little white lamb with a blue halter in a pen at a fair that was the reason I joined 4-H as a child. I still don't have one, yet. Anyway, the reason this particular lamb caught my eye was because he was slickshorn and he looked like a pearl. I kid you not his fleece other than being white as snow was as lustrous as a pearl and I made it a point to keep an eye on that pen to pounce (I mean politely ask "WHAT IS THAT LAMB??????") on the owner and inquire about the breed. Finally I was able to get some answers from a super polite and very knowledgeable 4-Her. She told me that he was a Cotswold. (According to the ALBC it's a threatened breed, which just intrigued me more.)
We chatted for a bit, I asked her about the breed and the fiber, she took me over to the pens where the rest of her sheep were and I was smitten, one of her ram's fleece was unlike anything I'd ever seen and it too was as white as snow and pearl like. In a word, exquisite. We chatted some more, [read I probed her with questions and she answered politely] and I learned quite a bit about this wonderful breed. She offered me a sample of fiber to try spinning to see if I liked it, and I cannot wait to try it. Once I'm done with the truckload of tomatoes, pears and apples I'll try for sure! I hope to someday in the near future be introducing you to a new cast member or two, because if the fiber spins as beautifully as it look on the sheep...... I'll NEED to have some!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

pear butter... worth all the hours of effort it requires to make.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the worlds best pizza sauce

... so good in fact it gave me goosebumps when I tasted it it was that good! I've finished off 7 quarts today and when it's cool enough it will line my shelves in the basement next to the other things I've put up this fall.

Monday, September 27, 2010

and the winner is.........

.......drum roll please............doglady!! Congratulations to you! I'll ship it out to the next time I go into town. It is also my hope that you'll continue to pass the book along in the same manner, though it is not a requirement. Thank you to all who entered, and please accept my apologies for the delay in choosing a winning post, I've quite literally been up to my elbows in tomatoes, pears and apples.

My sister's neighbor gave her about 300 pounds of tomatoes and she had more than she could deal with, so she passed them on to me. For which I am VERY thankful, I've made a triple batch of spaghetti sauce which is now canned and on shelves in my basement and I'm working on simmering down 5 batches of pizza sauce that will eventually be canned and sitting alongside the spaghetti sauce and I'm only half done! The others are in varying stages of ripeness. Then on Saturday I went to pick pears at my Great Aunt and Uncles house and came home with the bed of my truck FULL (I've got pictures to prove it!) quite literally of apples and pears. Faith made a batch of apple muffins, Andrew is working on a pie, and I'm working on pear and apple butters. The critters here on the farm are enjoying the bountiful harvest as well. Even the turkeys and broilers are feasting on apples! (Anything to slow down their grain consumption! 100 pounds in 5 days! Yikes!)

So I chose doglady because having never met me I think she nailed it, one anonymous post was from my mom and seeing as she gave birth to me and all I didn't think it was fair to choose her... :-) and Lisa (MA) was a close second, but we've emailed back and forth a lot.... but it pleases me to know that I've brightened your heart! So I'll keep posting, venting, ranting, and taking great pleasure in the little things, and hope y'all will keep reading. It's been a great first year!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

what? a year? already?!

How did that happen?! I've been blogging for a year today! So in honor of that milestone and in the tradition of Harvest Kitchen Sisters I'm celebrating that with a give away! I won this book from the sisters and want to continue passing it along, so here's the deal...
To enter, leave me a comment, let me know what you think of the blog and how well do you know me. My profile quotes a lyric from a favorite song, saying that "You don't have to guess what I'm against if you know what I stand for." So what do I stand for? Against? How well have I articulated my life with out spelling out every detail? I'll pick the most accurate or my favorite comment. I'll announce the winner Sunday night.

There, that's taken care of, now I want to thank you. I'm honored that you read my blog, I really wasn't sure anybody would when I started, but did it anyway, thinking it would be a nice way to keep track of things that happen here or what have you. Those of you who comment regularly seem more like friends, it amazes me to think you can 'get' someone you've never met. To those of you that follow me, thank you. I'm flattered that some of you enjoy reading about my crazy life to tune in regularly. To Lisa, thank you for encouraging me to start this crazy, liberating, venting, honest blog. To Ron, thank you for completing me. And to Faith and Andrew, thank you for choosing me and being such amazing children, and especially for the joy you bring to my life daily.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

not on my list

You know 'the list' you make while growing up of things that you'd like to do, think you'll do or to have happen to you? I've got lots of things on that list but I can tell you one thing that is NOT, being mounted by an 800+- pound heifer in heat, nope not even a little bit on that list. Yes folks you read that correctly, I was mounted be a heifer in heat. This week we've been at the county fair and yesterday while helping get ready for shows yesterday and today I was delegated to gopher, as in "Go fer this calf or that cow." etc. taking them back and forth between the barn and wash rack. No biggie right? Well that's what I thought until I innocently leaned slightly over to untie one amorous heifer and next thing I know.... up and away she went! One of the owners came to my aid swiftly and I was not injured, thankfully. I can only imagine the E.R. visit and having to explain that! And fortunately it was me and not one of the 4-Hers. That would have been very bad. I'm told that they are only typically in what is considered "standing heat" for 18 hours and would be fine to work with today, after our encounter yesterday I was slightly skeptical. She was, in fact she was totally over it today, back to herself and as she walked by me headed to the show ring she didn't even glance my way or say "Hi!" I guess I was just a fling! ;-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

chicken legs

This little hen has got to be one of the strangest looking hens ever! She's one of the barneys that we hatched this spring, what a crazy looking bird! She's got feathered cheeks like an Araucana, except they are white, a brownish body and BLUE legs! I cannot wait to see what color eggs she lays, given the track record of the weirdness of the farm they're likely to be square and purple!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

dark cloud lifted!

Saturday morning I pulled into the driveway of the farm where the fundraising endurance ride was to take place with as much giddy anticipation as a 5 year old on Christmas Eve! I'd honestly waited my entire life to do something like this and realizing what was about to happen made my whole body spark with excitement! I couldn't wait! I drove past the rugged old barn and down into the hay field that was dotted with duelies, trailers and every color horse imaginable and found my place in amongst the other trucks and parked. The sun was shining brightly in the beautiful September sky and the air was crisp, the makings for a perfect day. I knew at that moment in time I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I breathed it in; horse, sun, pine, sweet grass, and crisp fall air; yes this would be a day to remember.

My friend Elaine and her boyfriend pulled in with her duelie diesel truck, trailer and our trusty steeds for the day and I didn't covet even a minute! We unloaded the horses, a big black Appendix Quarter horse named Zeus, his slick black coat shining in the sun was a beautiful contrast against the greens of the hay field, towering white pines and serene blue sky. Next was Lady, a dainty Paso Fino Appaloosa cross with a peppy little gait that said she could go all day. She is creamy white in color, seemingly a baby standing next to Zeus, but she is not, and don't let her little stature fool you, she held her own. Then there was what was to be my mount for the day, a gentle giant named Harry. Harry stands 16 hands high at the withers and those Thoroughbred legs of his looked three miles long, they came in very handy later in the day, let me tell you! Harry looks very similar to Garlic, with the exception of the much longer legs and a white patch on his forehead. We groomed the horses, tacked them up, signed our lives away with all the necessary paperwork, mounted up and hit the trail. I felt like I had a mile wide smile across my face and I'm sure I did, I knew I was in for a treat.

Elaine told me that Harry was a former racehorse, I raised an eyebrow and she went on to say that he'd been off the racetrack for 27 years, so not to worry. Later she informed me that while he was the fastest horse on the track, he'd fly out of the starting gate get ahead of everybody, then plant all four feet on the track and wait for everybody to catch up to him, not the ideal makings of a racehorse, so he was taken off the track. As we headed out Elaine told me that Harry was happy to poke along at a walk but would go into a trot with much encouragement, hmm, much like Garlic. Due to his age, he'd be inclined to want to trot or jog up the hills as it was easier for him, no problem with that here! We crossed the street and got to the starting line, checked in and set out. Mind you there were riders there who ran through the entire course, hoping to make the best time and earn the most points, we were not of that group. We were going to take our time and enjoy the ride and the day off our farms. We could go at any pace we desired. I'm not one who likes to charge down a trail with steep hills, bridges, water obstacles, split rails, and hairpin turns that I've never been on, on a horse I've never ridden, at a breakneck speed, call me crazy!

At the first or second hill Elaine's horse who insisted on being in the lead hopped up the incline with that peppy little gait, I asked Harry to trot, he obliged with gusto! He started to gallop and we were up the hill in about three strides! Another advantage to those long legs. At the top of the hill Elaine looked at us heading up the hill and said Harry never goes that fast for anybody except her and was happy he did for me. I grinned. Yea!

At some point during the ride while galloping up a hill my foot came out of the stirrup and Elaine who was in front of me slowed and started to circle back to her boyfriend whose horse was way more content to bring up the rear. I was quickly behind her and cued Harry to start slowing down and to the right. He moved like lightening, unfortunately I was a little off center having had only one foot in the stirrup. Being off center made the saddle shift off to the side as well. Well that was all it took for me to realize I was quickly headed to the ground and the ground was not where I wanted to be. My thoughts were "Oh great, this is going to hurt! I don't want to smack my head. Oh this is going to hurt! Please don't step on my legs. Legs! I've got to get my legs under me!" I was able to swing my right leg over the back of the horse who was slowing down but not stopped, grab the horn and cantle with all I was worth, (Thank God for upper body strength from farming!) tell him whoa and get my feet on the ground. I was standing and Harry was trotting around me in a circle. We were fine! Later Elaine called it a "cantering dismount." I took a breath, walked over to a log to use as a mounting block, did I mention I have short legs and Harry's are VERY long?! and hopped back on and finished the course.

There were miles and miles of well kept horse and rider friendly trails that were well marked and with some very beautiful scenery, parts of the trail were wide enough to gallop two abreast, talk about exhilarating! We galloped through some wide open fields, up over hills with the tails of the horses streaming out behind us, I was living my dream, then we'd slow our horses to a walk and catch our own breath and giggle and squeal at what a rush that was, well, at least I did. I was out there riding this huge magnificent horse whose gallop is like a rocking chair with the wind caressing my face, whipping past my ears and blowing my hair with not a care in the world and I was alive!!!!

Words cannot accurately describe what a rush that is, no pill could ever produce that amount of intoxication. Utterly exhilarating, mind erasing, and soul satisfying are words that are appropriate to the description of the ride, but in my mind only barely scratch the surface of accuracy of what that ride was like.

We finished the course, untacked and cooled off the horses, made sure they ad food and water and headed into the barn for a potluck lunch offered by the Pony Club whom this fundraiser was for. We had our lunch tickets out and tried to hand them to the lady standing at the door with a box. She asked us what our team name was and looked up our time and handed us a ribbon! Elaine and I looked at each other, neither one of us expected a ribbon, but it was like icing on the cake. We probably looked like two little girls, best friends from the Pony Club books, standing there mouths open, eyes dancing, happy as can be! We were told that about half of the teams that enter don't even finish and since we did. we earned a ribbon! We looked at the leader board and saw that one team had completed the course in 80 minutes! Talk about crazy! The 'optimal' time was about 107/108 minutes and our time was 124 minutes. I had no idea we were being timed, I thought they were just checking us off when we came through the 'check points' to make sure we hadn't had an accident and gotten thrown off or something. Lunch was delicious, of course, I think anything you don't have to make yourself tastes better anyway, but maybe that's just me. After lunch we loaded up and left, I rode behind Elaine back to her house so I can only speak for myself, but I had the biggest grin on my face and was on a high like no other. It was certainly a day to remember; a day spent with friends, on horseback, in the sunshine, fresh air and pine trees, covered in sweat and 'horse' and overflowing with joy; it is a day I'll never forget.

Friday, September 10, 2010

a dark cloud

I drove though this storm yesterday and I think the dark cloud stayed. Sometimes being an optimist is difficult when everyone around you is negative. Mind you they are all dealing with major life issues, I get that, I do. Tomorrow I'm going on an endurance ride with a friend of mine and I cannot wait! Several hours of horse sweat, leather, sunshine, cool crisp fall air and good company is exactly what I need to collect myself and refocus! I cannot wait!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

good quote

" I'd much rather create change by liberating the bottom than regulating the top."
Joel Salatin
Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal

Monday, September 6, 2010


This seems to be a year of redemption, for the garden at least, as many of the items I attempted to grow last year failed miserably, but did well this year.

Swiss Chard for example...
Last year I planted Swiss Chard and was sadly disappointed when I didn't get any to harvest, but I was determined to get some this year and was successful! I'm looking forward to a delicious mess of greens soon!
My Great Aunt has a crab apple tree that, for the past two years at least, has been loaded with crab apples. She has no interest in putting up anything anymore but is ever happy to give it to someone who is. My attempt at crab apple jelly last year failed miserably, it turned out more like pink goo but the pigs really enjoyed it! This year I was successful! Isn't that color beautiful?

And finally, I made broth from the chickens I raised. So not only did they feed my husband once, but twice with the same bird then I boiled down the carcass to make broth. Hopefully I did it right and will have it to make him some chicken noodle soup when he gets sick in the winter. Let me just say that picking chicken bones is not my best thing to do! I think three meals from one bird is pretty honoring to that broiler. I hope that would be considered being a good steward.

what a gift!

My husband has an Aunt who is a quilting extraordinaire, seriously, she makes beautiful quilts. She has a fabric stash and quilting room that would make most quilters drool, cabinets lined with fabric, and color coordinated. Oh to have a room like that!
Well, now I do! She knows that I enjoy quilting and decided my sister-in-law and I would be the recipients of a recent purge! There is nearly 70 pounds of fabric on the table and I had to take a picture because it was so beautiful! I'm itching to start about a thousand projects with it but need to finish up some other projects I'm currently working on first. I know my husband would appreciate that. Besides, having all that fabric, which looks like my own personal fabric store, makes me a little giddy! My sister does not get it, she thinks it's beautiful all right but it's not her thing. Mom on the other hand totally gets it! She's a fellow quilter and appreciates what a wonderful gift this is. It's getting to be that time of year when I start thinking about Christmas giving and am pretty sure there is a major quilting bee in our future. Last year we pulled off three quilts in the fall and the fall before was a huge undertaking for my Grandmother's bed. We made a Christmas quilt, (she LOVES Christmas) it was a ton of work and lots of pieces and a very happy Grandmother. I wonder what is in store this year.... I know one thing, I cannot wait to start!
Thank you so much Aunt Judy, what a blessing you've given me! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

for Elaine

Checking to see where her horse is.

Hey! Where do you think you're going?!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Show #1 under their belts!

Yesterday Faith and Andrew competed in their first ever dairy show. This was a pretty big show and lots of competition, and when they walked out of the ring they both said WOW, that was fun! I don't know exactly how many entries were in their classes, but Andrew went first and placed 9th of about 15-18 heifers. Faith's heifer was a bit older and went in second and was 9th or 10th out of the same number. They may have been too excited to be nervous, but as soon as the show started my stomach clamped down and I was not even competing! It was a very hot day so we were all glad that their classes were in the am so they could get back out of their show whites and into something much cooler! Let me tell you I've never seen so much pimping of cows in my life! I mean seriously, fake tails, spray paint, glue, extra grain, rosin, hair dryers, blow dryers, (yes, there is a difference!) clippers, trimmers and fake hair, all this to make a cow look "natural!" I cannot make this up! This is reality for the life of a "show cow" and it's all an attempt to make it look real. Crazy huh?! I don't get it, but the kids had so much fun!

Show day started early, we were up at 4;30am and at the fairgrounds shortly after 7am after an hour drive. That make for a long day! (Hey Andrew, got a smile to go with that swagger?)

The heifers had been prepped and re-prepped and prepped some more now it was the kids' turn. These harness type things held their numbers.

Waiting patiently to enter the ring.

More waiting, so he grabbed a brush and made the tail, excuse me switch, look fluffy, again...

Andrew's up and entered the ring. His heifer mooed all he way around the show ring, constantly.

Talking to the judge...

Headed into the final placement line up, middle of the pack! Go Andrew!

Faith's up next, and headed into the ring with an uncooperative heifer. Stubborn, man is she stubborn. I hear this tends to be the case with Holsteins...

Faith was able to get her under control and they did better after that.

Setting her up. Squaring the front feet.

Final placement line up. Middle of the pack. Go Faith!

One young girl with a huge sense of accomplishment.
Turns out that I didn't miss the 4-H show deadline like I thought, so Faith will be at the fair again this weekend showing in 4-H. And Thursday both Faith and Andrew will be showing Holsteins and Ayrshire's for a friends farm, they are excited and cannot wait to be back in the show ring. What a great experience for them.