Heifer Diary 2009 - Cont. Part C
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September 12, 2009 Saturday
Marcia and I drove the ducks and turkeys in her horse trailer over to Greaney’s to be dressed off. This is a small family business that does a fine job. It is generally agreed that killing ducks is hard to be around. Ducks are so cute and squishy. Unless you are a duck hunter, if one wishes to eat duck of known provenance, it is this or buy a commercial duck. We now have a dozen ducks that dressed off between four and six pounds. The four turkeys ranged between 14 and 22 pounds. All looked excellent.
I baked beans overnight last night and when we got home Marcia and I each had a bowl of them. They were pretty good, we thought. I will serve them tomorrow when Holly and Richard join us at Marcia’s for a meal.
In my description of our dinner at Kawanhee last week I inadvertently wrote that the soup was garnished with tiramisu. The garnish was with mascarpone. Oops.
September 13, 2009 Sunday
Much of the state got rain yesterday and last night but all we got was heavy fog. It burned off and we had glorious sunshine.
I brought Jasmine in and milked her. Her front quarters were very tight because I skipped yesterday. Her rear quarters were full but not hard. She gave 4 gallons. The flavor was of course not so sweet and delicate. I’d say it tasted almost like store-bought. It strained perfectly. I will skip again tomorrow.
Marcia was here to help and we decided that the sheep water buckets should be scrubbed out before refilling. I went down with a grain snack to distract the sheep, which are very pushy. While standing around waiting for the buckets to fill, I walked about 10 feet away to pick up a pan. I thought this would be safe because the sheep were still hovering around their grain pan and observing the water hose. Bad decision. When I bent to pick up the pan one of the rams shot over and butted me a** over teakettle. I did not even see him coming. I shrieked and he ran back to his buddies so I don’t even know which one it was. Because the hose was running I got very muddy and had to change all of my clothes. I suppose that I will be a bit stiff but my chief damage was to my left thumb joints. When I put out my hand it jammed my thumb. I have not taken any pills. I made a comfrey mash in the Cuisinart and have been slathering that on. I think it had been very helpful. It does not hurt so long as I don’t try anything heroic with it.
Marcia and I got all the ducks and turkeys into the freezer. I sorted the big bag of necks, livers, etc. into separate bags and froze these.
Yesterday I made a big pot of baked beans. I took these and a bowl of cole slaw out to Marcia’s camp where we were joined by Holly and Richard. Marcia made oven BBQ chicken thighs and Richard brought blueberry buckle, a type of cake. They also brought some very nice wine. We ate out on the porch and watched the sparkling lake and the various birds.
Mitra and the girls could not join us because of their soccer schedule but she and the girls will get to hear the player piano on Wednesday. Holly and Richard have invited them over. I know they will love it, especially if Holly and Richard sing.
September 14, 2009 Monday
I skipped milking today. Jasmine’s bag feels OK. I gave her and Jeremiah each a bucket with about two cups of grain and two apples when they came to the gate. They got nothing this evening because they did not show up. It seems pretty quiet in the barn.
I have continued rubbing comfrey mush into my thumb joints. This morning it was pain free when carrying breakfast plates with that hand, my left. It hurt too much to use the pepper grinder. This evening I can use the pepper grinder but still feel a little pain. I have some stiffness here and there but no bruising, at least where I can see and I doubt I will ask anybody to look.
Marcia strung electric fencing around the veg garden. She placed it the same way that worked last year which is about 3’ out from the existing post and woven wire fence and about 3’ off the ground. My theory is that if to avoid the electric fence the deer jump over it they will not be able to make it over both fences at once. Consequently they will crash into the wire fence and back up to the electric tape and get a buzz on the rump. My nightly spritzing with Irish Spring soap solution has worked to date but at this time of year the fruit trees are sure to tempt them even though they too are sprayed.
My cat, Stanley, has been killing voles and lining them up by the back steps. There are now four in the row. I think it is voles that have been eating the carrots and other root veg.
September 15, 2009 Tuesday
It rained a half inch last night, a nice sort of rain that stopped at daybreak. I went down early and admired the refreshed garden and then went to visit Jasmine in the pasture to see if it would be essential to milk her this morning. I decided I could safely skip it. By this evening she was very full in the front quarters but the rear quarters were still soft. I expect to milk on Wednesday morning. I spread out hay in the beefer pen in hopes she will lie in a clean place. She is expressing annoyance with Jeremiah. He is bugging her a lot. I decided this evening that he should go into the freezer. I doubt he will gain much more on the October grass. At present, with Max expecting to be gone a great deal, the logistics of this will be tricky.
Marcia and I worked on making ripe tomato chutney. This is the Christopher Lloyd recipe from Gardener Cook. Mitra reminded me that everybody liked it last year. It took some doing to scrounge up 6 lbs of ripe tomatoes from our meager crop. It also calls for 4lb of apples. We were able to use some well flavored falls that DD Abby brought home a couple of weeks ago. She got permission to gather them from a homeowner who couldn’t be bothered to pick up her own apples. Most had to go to the cows but what we rescued have great flavor. The Lloyd recipe makes 2 gallons.
Mitra (soccer mom extraordinaire) reports on today’s game: I just got back from Shireen's soccer game at the high school. The score was zero-zero. The other team, Hamden, played hard and dirty. Shireen got elbowed in the back by one girl and accidentally punched the girl in the face - oops. Then I watched aghast as a girl tried to kick the Mt. Blue goalie as she saved the ball. Shireen was on defense and came charging at the girl and ran her over really hard. All I could see was a ball of legs and arms! It was a very physical game. Mt Blue lost almost every foot race for the ball and the other team had much better ball control/fancy footwork but they (Mt. Blue) still didn't let them score. The second half was better than the first as Mt. Blue seemed to get their mojo back. Roshan enjoys going to the games, mostly because of hot dogs.
September 16, 2009 Wednesday
This was a perfect fall day, mostly sunny with a high about 60F. I got Jasmine in to be milked. Her udder was pretty tight although not dripping. I got 4 gallons. It was just a little slow to strain but the filter was fine, no mucous. This is gratifying. I put it all into a large stockpot rather than into jars. I will skim this tomorrow. There is almost no off flavor.
Marcia and I met for crab cakes for lunch at her camp. Then we drove to Madrid to visit a nice lady who has a bed and breakfast and gift shop. She will be offering Marcia’s bags in her shop. She sells quality crafts and artwork from the surrounding counties.
I have made an appointment to take Jeremiah to slaughter. He will not gain much more this fall and he is starting to tease Jasmine and even jump her. I can’t have this going on around calving. To separate them means putting him back into his stall where he is not happy and has to be waited on. I think it is better to risk separation stress on Jasmine now rather than later. And lastly, it becomes hard to get an appointment at the abattoir as fall advances. Marcia and I will take him over on Thursday the 24th.
September 17, 2009 Thursday
I finished up my chutney project and got 13 pints. People are already opening them. Marcia took down the bean poles and cleaned up some more beds. She gave Willie a bath and found no fleas.
Here is a picture of my garden shed which leads into the garden. Max made me the gate on the shed for my birthday this year. It is for keeping dogs out the garden while we work.
September 18, 2009 Friday
Most of today was overcast and windy with intermittent sun. Jasmine and Jeremiah did not show up for their morning snack. The grazing remains pretty good even though there has been very little rain.
Friends from Australia stopped in for coffee, Kim and Anita Hurley from Perth. He is Martin’s rep in Australia. They are staying at Martin and Amy’s camp. On the way here they viewed Alaska from the inland ferry and crossed Canada by bus and train before visiting NYC.
I spent most of the day cooking. Martin and his FIL Ken and little Hannah came for supper. Ken brought lovely chard from his garden. I baked beans again and made a meatloaf followed by applesauce, a very simple meal. I am also in charge of the roast for a family meal tomorrow. I shall follow Anita’s suggestion for roasting two eyes of round. It involved a marinade which needs to go on right now, tonight.
Martin brought 175 bales of hay from southern Maine. All hands will be here in the morning to put it into the barn.
September 19, 2009 Saturday
Fine weather today. Jasmine is still making milk but I did not milk. The front quarters are much tighter than the rear. I gave both cows about 1 ½ cups of COB with a couple of apples in the evening only. I also threw a big armful of comfrey over to them.
Frost is predicted. DD Marcia put sheets and frost cloth over a lot of the garden while I picked green tomatoes. I discovered that my feeble looking corn in the paddock garden actually has quite a few mature ears. Marcia and I were able to pick plenty for tonight’s dinner for 13. We also found out why the raccoon has not been troubling the lower veg garden. He has been feasting on corn. A number of ears were neatly peeled and eaten without removing them from the stalk. Many others were broken and trashed.
Yesterday DS Martin parked a trailer load of 125 square bales of hay on my lawn (Last week I mistakenly gave the number as 175). This morning a wonderful crew consisting of Martin, his FIL Ken, their houseguest Kim Hurley from Perth, Kim’s wife Anita, who came along to look after wee Hannah, and cousins Holly and Richard all arrived to unload the hay into the barn. Last year Martin bought a hay elevator which makes the job infinitely easier. It’s like a ladder with a chain belt traveling up the center. The chain has little spikes on it and keeps going around. You set the bales on it and they travel to the top and somebody grabs them as they tip off the top of the ladder elevator. You just plug it in and it makes a wonderful clanking noise, so much more agreeable than hearing gasping helpers counting bales and saying ‘Only 50 to go” as they hoist them up by hand.
After putting my hay into the loft, the crew went over to DIL Mitra’s house (DS Max is out of town) and picked up her hay from the farmer, took it to her house, and rolled the big round bales into a bay of their carport and pallets outside the carport. Mitra later covered the bales set up outside. Mitra gave them lunch and introduced all the animals. Martin picked up four big round bales for me of very nice hay and left these on the trailer in my yard.
We then all met for dinner at Marcia’s camp. I brought two eye of round roasts that I had marinated and cooked all day at about 200˚ and another big pot of baked beans. I brought the corn too. Anita made two gorgeous platters of salad with roasted pumpkin, avocado, pine nuts and other goodies. DIL Amy, Martin’s wife brought two great loaves of bread from Standard Baking Company and Holly and Richard brought apple pie. Dear Mitra and the girls made it in the nick of time after doing their farm chores. My goodness, what a jolly feast it was. Mitra took a little video for her dad, Alex, whose birthday it is. We all raised a glass and wished him a happy birthday.
September 20, 2009 Sunday The power was out for six hours during the night.
We got some frost . It pretty well knocked out the squash and cucumbers in both gardens. The sun came out brightly and no frost is predicted for tonight
Martin and the men came back here in the afternoon and put the round bales on pallets in the carriage house. There is no ground level hay storage area in the barn.
September 21, 2009 Monday
At last Jasmine has stopped making new milk and is beginning to resorb.
Marcia has parked her horse trailer at the open door to the beefer pen with its ramp down. The plan is to get the cows to eat their grain snack in there so that Jeremiah will load quietly on Thursday. So far neither he nor Jasmine chose to get aboard.
I called my neighbor with a goat to see if she wanted to sell some goat’s milk. She kindly brought me 4 quarts of excellent milk. She was looking for a home for 4 young roosters of her own and 3 more of a friend. I said I would take them. She brought them right over along with the milk. I am keeping them in a separate room until they get used to their new home
September 22, 2009 Tuesday
The cows did not choose to get into the trailer. Then I thought of what I should have done in the first place. I covered the tailgate with hay so that it did not look so strange and rubbery. Jasmine marched right aboard and got her grain. Jeremiah still wouldn’t but perhaps by tomorrow he will have marshaled his courage.
My sister leaves tonight on an overnight flight to Maine for a visit. We are all looking forward to this enormously. Unfortunately she was feeling pretty nervous because she had lost her packet with all her flight information and coupons for free parking. She had run out of time for further searching and called me to get our cell numbers. She had a second copy of the flight information to refer to and nowadays all you need is the flight number and ID but she and I are way too old to handle this sort of thing well. Let’s hope she gets a quiet seat on the plane.
September 23, 2009 Wednesday
Dear Barby found her documents after she got to the airport. They were in a pocket of her knapsack that she had forgotten she had. She had to wait quite a while this morning for Marcia and me to pick her up. Her plane was way early and we were late due to having left the turnpike too soon so had to make our way through some traffic. She was a great sport and we had lots of fun today catching up.
This morning I could see that Jasmine (I assume) had been in the trailer and eaten the grain. This evening I set the buckets a lot farther back and when I checked later the grain was not eaten. Both cows were lying nearby chewing their cuds. We’ll see what morning brings.
We have started using the frozen milk.
September 24, 2009 Thursday
This was the day for Jeremiah to go to the abattoir. I had hoped to accustom him to the trailer by putting his bucket of grain in it. Jasmine ran in and out without hesitation but he would barely set a front hoof. When it came time to load him I finally put Jasmine outside the barn so that he and I were alone in the beefer pen. After about 20 minutes without distractions I was able to wheedle him aboard. I felt like an awful Judas but at least there was no yelling or prodding. When I finally had him up to the pole and his head in the bucket I took his collar in one hand and the clip in the other (I was crouched way down by the floor) and just clipped the rope on him. Over his entire life I have accustomed him to having his collar handled when he is eating so he was used to that. I always gave it a twirl. He also knew to give to a rope. Starting right after birth I clipped him to a post next to Jasmine. This was pretty much his only training except “Back”. Learning to lead is of course a valuable skill but my set-up leaves little need for it. My cows readily learn to go in an out to the various areas.
Marcia connected up the trailer and she and Barby and I drove him to Castonguay, the butcher. We unloaded him without incident. He marched right into a depressing maximum security stall. Castonguay promised to bring him water. He said Jeremiah needed to be in this small safe pen because two bulls were arriving later.
As mentioned last week, Jeremiah has been teasing Jasmine. We don’t currently have the crew to do home butchering, it is still too warm in my cellar for hanging a carcass and I have no way of keeping him separate from Jasmine except by keeping him in a box stall. That would not be a great life for him and I would have to carry all his feed and water.
The weather today was warm and moist. Barby and I joined up with Marcia for a nice supper at the lake. We had the last of the fresh corn and the first of the Brussels sprouts.
September 25, 2009 Friday
DD Marcia and Sister Barby and I went to Farmington and saw Mitra at the farmers’ market. There were only four tables today because most vendors were at the Common Ground Fair. But we did get to greet dear Liz (from the forum) and her husband Dave who are here for a very short visit. We will see them again tomorrow.
Max is home now home from New Foundland. I have not yet seen him. He will be coming over tomorrow for a visit with me and his Aunt Barby. He leaves again on Sunday for work in Mass.
Today is the end of this year’s growing season. The weatherman told us to expect temperatures tonight in the mid 20’s, well below freezing. Marcia and Barby harvested all the squash. They look lovely, although smaller than one hoped. I’m afraid most of them are not mature enough to be good keepers.
Barby took Marcia and me to Kawanhee Inn for dinner. Once again, it was very good and we had a jolly time. No more eating outside on the screen porch, though. We had a table near the fire.
September 26, 2009 Saturday
It has been another fine September day. Barby and I walked down to the river with the dogs and they of course had a fine time. While beside the river I noted that the witch hazel bushes (Hamemellis) are in bloom. It has feathery little tangles of petals among the rather coarse leaves. The leaves are about like elm leaves, in fact it is an elm species.
Our KFC forum friends Liz and Dave Montgomery from Conroe, Texas are in Maine visiting. They stopped by with Mitra and had a little tour of the farm and took some pictures of Jasmine and I. Mitra was taking pictures as well.
We all wanted a good look at the pregnant Jasmine. I enticed her from the far end of the field with a little can of sweet feed.
Then the party went up to Webb Lake to check out DD Marcia's camp. They had a nice time sitting out on the dock. It was a beautiful day. Pictures courtesy of Liz.
DS Max and Liz's DH Dave checking out the dock and the lake. Mitra and Max trying to convince them to move to Maine.
They are having dinner with Max and Mitra along with Janet (2ndchance) and Laura (lj) forum members from the area. I’ll bet they are having a wonderful time right now. DS Max and his girls also came by to visit and brought my feed. Max with help from Shireen kindly stood the hay elevator back up so that it no longer blocks the main aisle in the barn. Then he and Dave carried the big steel hay feeder back inside the barn. The rusty old thing has been decorating the lawn ever since Don Houghton mucked out the barn.
Back at Mitra's, Liz took this picture of Helen and another of Max with Sophie the big red pig Mama.
DD Marcia roasted one of my prime rib roasts tonight. DS Martin and family joined us for dinner at camp. That meat is amazingly tasty.
September 28, 2009 Monday
I guess I’m out of the duck business. Last night something took all four of my lovely plump half grown Muscovy ducklings. Also the white duck that has been laying somewhere is gone. It is barely possible that she has disappeared to set but I suspect the worst. Her mate and the bereaved duck (which was not his special mate) sat together all day in the sheep pen neither eating nor drinking. I began to worry that he was injured and bravely walked in with him. He moved away a couple of feet so isn’t injured, just traumatized. The sheep did not notice me. I can’t catch these two ducks and feel pretty sure that whatever it is will be back for them tonight. I am much grieved.
Barby and I drove to Weld and climbed Center Hill. It is a park with a well marked 20 minute climb to granite ledges and panoramic views of the lake and mountains. I suspect there are plenty of folks who could make this climb in ten minutes, truth be told. We saw no other people.
September 29, 2009 Tuesday
My two adult Muscovys were still with us this morning. Marcia and I (mostly Marcia) managed to catch them, rather to my surprise, and they are in a stall in the barn. No fun for them, but we hope to build a more secure pen. Marcia noticed that the female has an injury on her breast. Her feathers are bloody.
The weather continued fine all day, although it rained hard last night and again this evening.
September 30, 2009 Wednesday
I did not sleep well last night. At 3am I heard cacophonous barking which I finally decided had to be a group of coyotes. It is always so hard to know how many one is hearing or how far away they are but there were definitely more than one and not very far away. They kept it up for about a half hour. I felt pretty sure that I had the answer as to what could have taken four fat ducklings and a grown duck in one night. The sheep were in their run-in under the buttery and did not make a sound.
At present I have both dogs sleeping in the carriage house with freedom to roam the buttery and out onto the deck. From the deck there are stairs down into the sheep pen and these areas are blocked by some heavy stuff to keep the dogs from leaving. This morning Bagel was not in the garage. He was outside the garage door. He had wrenched aside the barrier and leapt down the very steep open steps and gotten out and he was very high on himself. I think he was telling me that he had run off the coyotes. He was very excited, not his usual lethargic self. Tonight I am changing the arrangement so that Bagel can do some guard duty if he wants to. I’ve been reluctant to do this for fear that what he would encounter would be a skunk or porcupine. I am not really sure how much danger coyotes are to sheep such as these quite large Suffolks but if Bagel will discourage coyotes I will sleep better.
DD Marcia drove her SUV and trailer today over to Washington ME, about 2 hours away, to pick up DIL Mitra’s new Jersey cow, Nellie. Mitra navigated while I did some back seat driving. It made a long day but little Nellie loaded with patient coaxing and lots of apples. Cara kindly included a one month old Jersey bull calf that is pretty rambunctious. He is the son of Emily, Helen’s daughter, thus is Helen’s grandson. Emily is holding up so badly that that Cara preferred him to have a new home. Nellie trailered perfectly and walked very sweetly to her new barn. Mitra and I used my Surge on her for her evening milking. I stayed to help with this as machine milking is new to Mitra. Nellie is low to the ground which makes the machine tricky to operate. Nellie is a champ and never kicked despite all the hands (mine and Mitra’s) trying to keep the teat cups on. We ended up with close to 2 gallons, not too bad in the circumstances. Nellie’s milk is very nice.
Nellie did not refuse her food. She seems quite practical minded. I did not stay to find out how Roshan got along with bottle feeding the calf. After wrinkling her nose a few times, Helen walked to the far end of their paddock to eat hay.
Sister Barby did not accompany us on the expedition to get Nellie but instead joined high school classmates on a rather chilly picnic. She ordered a big pizza for our dinner which was very welcome indeed.
October 01, 2009 Thursday
It was sunny but chilly this morning. From the barn I could see a fox far away down in the pasture pouncing from one clump of grass to another hunting for mice. He stopped and stared at me but then continued hunting. The wild animals around here must feel pretty safe.
Jasmine’s udder is now totally flabby in three quarters. Her near rear has worried me a little by being slower to resorb the milk. For the last four or five days I have been cutting comfrey and throwing it over the fence to her and on Monday I mashed some comfrey in the food processor and have been slathering that on. Possibly because of the comfrey, this morning I found that quarter to be significantly reduced.
For Barby’s last evening I braised shortribs which we served with brown rice cooked in stock and kale with fried onions also simmered in stock until well done. Marcia made a delicious apple cranberry galette with a nut crumble topping. Marcia gave Barby and me each one of her beautiful batik bags. Barby chose one of DD Abby’s koi designs. I chose one of Abby’s scenes of the moon over fir trees.
The weather is getting distinctly cooler.
October 02, 2009 Friday
DD Marcia and I hopped up early and drove Barby to the airport. What a shame her visit was so short. We all hope her little dog fared well at the dog sitter. On our way home we stopped at an artisanal baker that Marcia discovered on her last trip to Auburn called The Bread Shack. With a name like that we always supposed it was a day-old bread outlet but it is in fact a world class bakery. They also have croissant and plenty of other irresistible items. We each had a slice of quiche. I bought a huge French-type loaf of 80% whole wheat (Maine grown wheat). I have tried it and it is indeed world class.
As soon as we got home Marcia went straight to the garden and tore out the spent tomato plants and dug over the rows. I went to the barn and found a nest with 10 eggs. I took them all and left two wooden eggs. The sheep are so far doing fine out in the big pasture and not abusing their freedom. They are happy with the better grazing but if called come bounding back to me. It is really cute to see them running top speed.
Mitra reports continuing success with Nellie although she got less milk today than yesterday. She tried putting the calf, now named Bo Diddley, onto Helen. Helen was furious at the indignity, even though Bo is her grandson, but he was undeterred and got his breakfast.
The fall color is nearing its height.
October 04, 2009 Sunday
I am still putting ground up comfrey on one of Jasmine’s quarters twice a day and cutting comfrey for her. So far her right rear quarter remains the same, which is to say not quite as flabby as the other three. She is looking nice and round.
DD Marcia drove past today on her way to pick up her DD Abby Rose who has come from CA for a visit. She did not stop put phoned me from her car to ask if I knew the sheep were in the paddock garden. Answer: No, I did not. I marched right out there and sure enough, all three were noshing on corn as fast as they could. Ordinarily as soon as they see me they come before I even call. This time they gave me a look and kept eating. I am not picking the corn anymore so they are welcome to it. The problem is that the far side of the paddock fronts the road and is not secure. To get into the paddock they had gone under the electric fence. Their path and tracks were clear. I could not figure out what to do about it so went back in the house to wait for my sister Barby’s Sunday call. Forty-five minutes later they had all gone back to their habitat under the buttery to digest their feast and I had shut the necessary gates. Knowing sheep, they may now start hopping fences.
I spent some time in the garden. It was overcast but over 60F and honeybees were working. I have never known of any hives in the neighborhood but I see bees every year. I believe they are wild. We have a new round of salad greens coming on. I cut mesclun and pulled scallions for Marcia and Abby Rose for their supper.
I canned seven pints of tomato chutney. This time I just made up the recipe. It has more ginger root and chilis than the previous recipe.
Barby called. She had picked up her little dog, Comet, from the dog sitter where he was miserable. The sitter, whose home based business is dog care, found him to be a nuisance and had taken him to a kennel. Barby does not plan ever to leave him again. Comet is much stressed and now only wants to rest.
Well, I just ate four chocolates and finished off the box given me by our nice Australian visitors. I can’t think that I have ever eaten four chocolates at a time, ever, but now I don’t have to worry about them any more, do I? And I am left with a handsome tin.
October 05, 2009 Monday
The weather today was what might be called unruly. It cycled through fog, sun, wind and showers. Then repeated itself.
Jasmine is doing well. Her right front quarter is not hot or swollen.
The sheep were very disappointed not to be allowed out into the north field with access to the corn in the paddock garden. I leaned two pallets against the gate by way of discouragement. Jasmine also looked disappointed. I gave her two armloads of comfrey, one in the morning and one this evening.
There are still tomatoes ripening on the kitchen window sills. I put up two pints of ripe ones. It is easy to do these dinky amounts in the Aga.
I made a braised chuck roast, baked purple potatoes and picked Brussels sprouts for our supper and took it all out to the lake. Everything on our plates was from the farm except the salt and pepper.
October 06, 2009 Tuesday
Jasmine is rounder every day. She is super friendly and comes trotting up whenever she sees me. I put down hay this evening in case she does not feel like walking back out to graze.
Marcia drove me to Lewiston for my eye appointment. We got there early so went and got lobster rolls first. My eyes showed no change. My doctor recommended that I see my local eye doctor next time so as to avoid the long drive.
October 07, 2009 Wednesday
Quite heavy rain all day. The sheep hate this. If I had a convenient way to give them hay I would do it. Mostly they stayed in their shelter. Jasmine stayed in too, right next to her feeder. I spent quite a lot of time working on an essay in defense of cows. They don’t have anything to do with global warming and I intend to prove it, not that anyone is likely to pay attention. So many people prefer the myth. Well, they are not entirely to be blamed, since the World Health Organization published their giant obfuscation, Agriculture’s Long Shadow.
My contractor George and his helper Eric have been waiting for a rainy day, when they need inside work, to complete the drywall in the playroom. This will be Marcia’s room this winter. They did not complete the work today. It needs two more coats of compound.
Marcia’s friend Sue Downs is visiting and Abby Rose is still here. I joined them for dinner and brought salad and an apple pie. Marcia made a lovely shrimp dish which she served on polenta.
October 08, 2009 Thursday
This was another very fine fall day. I did not get to spend much time outdoors though. I went and got dental x-rays. As I knew, there was an abscess under one tooth that is part of some bridgework. My Grammy used to say, “Don’t ever get old”. She did though, 96.
Marcia and Sue Downs came this morning for coffee. Marcia is getting poised to close up her camp and move in with me for the winter.
After my appointment I continued on to see Mitra. By then we were both in a rush so it was a short visit. I brought her some goat’s milk yogurt that I made yesterday. I do think goat’s milk makes the best yogurt. She gave me 4 quarts of cream which I will make into butter for her. Her dairy project combined with her pigs and 150 meat birds has her on the run. Fortunately Max will be home this weekend.
I got a call that my meat is ready. I am to pick it up Saturday.
October 09, 2009 Friday
I went out in the north field to check the fencing and found where some large animal the size of a cow, horse or moose had knocked down the barbed wire fence and torn out the top wire and pulled loose about 50ft of the electric fence that is inside the barbed wire fence. Since only moose are on the loose around here I presume that is who took it out. Moose season here is now underway. I did a low-rent repair of the post and wire fence and repaired the electric fence properly. I have been wondering how to give Jasmine access to the field without the sheep and finally realized that she can have it at night when the sheep are penned. This evening when I opened the gate she marched right through. She has been looking hopefully at that gate every morning, and then she looks pleadingly at me. But I can’t let the sheep in there until I do a proper repair.
DD Marcia and her DD Abby Rose moved her bed here today. We could not get her full sized box spring up the stairs so she has to settle for a smaller bed.
It rained today but I went up to Marcia’s for supper anyway. She made a delicious soup out of leftovers. Max and Mitra and the girls are coming tomorrow night for a spaghetti dinner. Max is safely home from Lowell, MA. In the morning they are taking half of their meat birds to be dressed off and Marcia and I are going to pick up my beef. Oops! I’d better go clean the upright freezer and turn it on. I nearly forgot.
October 10, 2009 Saturday
DD Marcia and I drove to the abattoir and picked up the new beef. There were 520 lbs. Now the upright freezer is totally full and some is in the horizontal freezer. Castonguay estimated the live weight at around 1100 lbs. That is in fact how I taped him but I lacked confidence in my taping. Jeremiah was a big boy who received over a year of milk. The sides hung for 2 weeks. The crew was busy cutting moose when we arrived. Castonguay says he expects to do 32 moose at least.
Max and Mitra and the girls joined Marcia and me for a spaghetti dinner tonight at Marcia’s place. Marcia simmered the sauce for hours and it was excellent.
It is unexpectedly cold tonight. The sky is brilliant with stars. I really should have covered a few things.
October 11, 2009 Sunday
I did go out with towels and tablecloths and cover a few things but the thermometer did not fall below 32˚ and this morning I did not notice any frost damage.
Jasmine and the sheep had a happy day grazing. The sheep had several episodes of running. They were alarmed by troops of 4-wheelers going by on the road. These are not supposed to go on the road but since I disinvited them from crossing my property they would have a huge detour if they did not do this quarter of a mile on the two-lane highway past me. I believe there is some sort of convention taking place. I’m afraid that back in 1977 they were not very tactful in their approach to me and the issue has not come up again.
Ooh, I am stuffed. Marcia and I and Diane who is the postmaster at Weld, booked a table for the Fireman’s Ball held at Kawanhee Inn in Weld. All those actively involved were wearing marvelous get-ups in the 50’s cabaret style. The inn has a fine chef. He put together a vast buffet designed, we were told, to use up all the leftovers. The inn is now closing for the winter. I sampled three entrees and a Caesar salad. Everything was first class. Then let me tell you about the dessert buffet. Twice this summer Marcia and I had the opportunity to sample the chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing and there it was tonight. No contendre. We both took a slice. But then (very bad) I also took a piece of the peanut butter pie, something of which I had preciously only heard. It was good, really more like cheesecake, but no match for that cake which we were told the chef has flown up from a patisserie in Florida. So here I sit stupefied, no doubt with elevated blood sugar. We did not stay for the dancing. I have writing to do and Marcia has a lot of orders for her bags to work on.
October 12, 2009 Monday
It barely froze last night. The thermometer stood right on 32˚
I got my garlic planted this morning. I set out about 75 corms. Marcia had already dug the bed. I added manure and lime and after digging these in I made three parallel rows of dibble holes, dropped in the garlic and walked over the bed to tamp them in. I still have to lay out boards to prevent frost heaving which can push the corms out of the ground.
Marcia came down in the afternoon and cleverly modified the electric fence into an archway over the back gate to the paddock. Now Jasmine can get in there and eat corn stalks if she chooses. We worked together to clean up the former duck pen.
October 13, 2009 Tuesday
The temperature this morning was the same as yesterday but snow was falling. It was wet snow that won’t last. Marcia and I had been planning a shopping expedition and almost did not go but then the snow stopped. We went to Farmington and saw Mitra briefly. I was able to give her back some milk jars and she told me about successfully giving the follow up shots to her young pig. The pig was sick on Sunday and Dr. Cooper came to treat it. He gave it an antibiotic and Banamine and now it is frisky again. Hurrah! These are valuable pigs. But Mitra had a sad tale of a massacre of all but one of seven new chicks. She can’t be sure of what did it but circumstantial evidence points to some disagreeable older birds.
While in Farmington I went to Reny’s Department Store, a wonderful old fashioned place, and bought myself some new winter boots. I have not had proper winter boots for ages. Every year I put off the investment until everything is sold out, and then have to suffer freezing feet.
On the way home we saw a sign for Fresh Mushrooms and did a U turn. We bought several fine looking specimens. The woman who sold them said that this is the last year they will be able to do it. The government is requiring that everyone who sells mushrooms must not only buy a license that costs several hundred dollars but also fill out paperwork describing every mushroom and exactly where it was picked. This is happening with every type of independent food sale. I am so disgusted with this government nanny-ism. They do it one item at a time so that the larger community does not notice. Recently they stopped the cookie ladies who greet every person in the armed services who passes through Bangor International Airport from handing out home made cookies. Now they may only pass out sealed store bought cookies.
October 14, 2009 Wednesday
I started the day playing catch-up on domestic chores, then got a call that my vet would be over this way. I changed course and fixed him lunch. I had started dough last night for baguettes so made a couple of those and made a surprisingly successful soup with my collection of leftovers. I fried onions and garlic almost to the point of caramelization, chopped some fresh tomato into this and fried it a little more, then deglazed the pan with chicken stock. To this I added cooked brown rice, cooked Swiss chard and a few more random items and simmered it for a bit. Doc Cooper ate two bowls of it, and then Marcia arrived and finished it off.
After drinking tea, Marcia and I did some last minute things in the garden. This time they are serious about the frost prediction. I think it will get down to the low 20’s. I brought some of the cabbages to the house. We cut down some of the magnificent mammoth sunflowers and have laid them on the attic stairs in the carriage house. Marcia finished digging the carrots while I did the evening animal chores. We carried all the winter squash in from the carriage house and parked them on the front stairs. The cellar is too clammy for squash. We then made ourselves a dinner featuring more of the mushrooms we bought yesterday and also had ground meat patties from the new beef.
Rather than my usual evening of writing, I watched a program on PBS about Joan Baez. It was the story of her life. I learned much about her that I had not known, despite having followed her career for 50 years. Her son Gabe and my grandson Harper were playmates in grade school in Portola Valley, CA.
Jasmine is developing the plush teddy bear look, her winter coat. I am now quite satisfied with the state of her udder and increasing her grain a wee bit. I now keep hay in the feeder for her all the time. Sometimes she eats it and sometimes she prefers to graze.
October 16, 2009 Friday
I spent Thursday getting a molar extracted, getting over it, and fixing dinner for Martin and his hunting buddies.
The dentist gave me a lot of praise for proper clotting speed and general healthiness. My bp was 182/85. My mouth doesn’t hurt but I will be lisping for quite a while.
DS Martin is spending a long weekend at his camp with two bird hunting buddies. They had stopped on the way here at a game farm and shot eight pheasants, four of which were Martin’s. He has seldom hunted until recently. One of the friends, Russ, brought along his Setter, Lexie. Martin loves having the dog along. They stopped here for supper. I baked beans Wednesday night, also made baguette dough, so these were ready for last night. I made cole slaw with the first one of our cabbages that I have used. Unfortunately because of the extraction, I couldn’t eat any slaw. It will be a while until I can chew anything crunchy.
The report from today’s hunting on wild land was Men Zero, Birds All. Martin had a good shot at a cottontail but didn’t take it. They fixed their own food tonight at camp. Chili, Martin said.
I cruised around the veg garden and picked things to add to chicken stock. I like to put in plenty of leafy things. It has not been quite as cold as predicted. I don’t think it was much below 28˚ but there is ice on all standing water. I don’t see the grass growing much. The daytime temperatures have not gotten about 40˚ for several days and the house was feeling distinctly chilly. This morning I broke down and turned on the furnace. The workmen came and finished the last of the work on the dormer and surrounding wall. So they are all done here.
Jasmine and the sheep are still finding plenty of grazing but the hens are not laying. Jasmine’s vulva is getting noticeably puffy and she is friendlier than ever. It is likely that Agnes, the ewe, is bred. She is also pretty friendly but I don’t trust the rams the least bit. They do look perfectly charming out on the pasture slope.
DD Sally called from Alaska. She lives right on the Chilcoot River in Haines. There have been plenty of salmon this year and the bears are fat. She had two close encounters yesterday. She killed a rooster and looked up to see a bear on the beach observing her from about 50 ft away. She took the bloody rooster into the house and came out with Gretchen, the dog, on her leash. Gretchen barked madly and the bear ambled off.
Later when she and her friend Judy and Gretchen were out on a mushroom walk along the river, a big sow known locally as Speedy for her habit of chasing things was coming down the road towards them closely followed by an impatient motorist. They ran out onto the fish weir until both passed.
October 18, 2009 Sunday
I spent considerable time on my article about the role of cows in greenhouse gas production. I can tell you this much right now: dontworryaboutit.
I was able to make another picking of salad greens (mesclun) to take to Marcia’s for our dinner with Max, Mitra and girls. Mitra brought a phenomenal eggplant chorizo lasagna and Marcia made a cheesecake. It was a fine fall day.
Today, Sunday, Martin and one hunting friend, Osbjorn, came here to the farm and worked for a couple of hours. There is no hunting on Sunday in Maine. Russ and his dog, Lexie, left early this morning for the long drive back to Pennsylvania. Their hunting yesterday was a great success, eight birds, but they had to quit an hour early because Lexie got whapped by a porcupine. A good thing that Martin was carrying his Leatherman tool. All three men lay on top of Lexie while Martin pulled quills, or so it was described to me. I am having trouble picturing this. It was pretty awful but at least there was no delay in treatment.
Using the Kubota, today Martin spread and smoothed the great pile of sand that was delivered here a couple of weeks ago. Now the driveway is much improved and that mountain of sand is gone. Martin also rebuilt with sand the ramp in the beefer pen. Now Jasmine will not have to step over a huge beam that makes the doorsill. Her udder is not especially droopy but will soon be making up. It is truly awful when they step on a teat.
I made some successful mushroom soup for Marcia’s and my supper using the sautéed mushrooms left over from last Wednesday. I was able to add some lovely cream that Mitra brought yesterday. How do people get along without cream?
October 19, 2009 Monday
We had beautiful fall weather today. I took a brief walk on DD Sally’s field across the river. I should have brought a leash for Willie. It was hard to keep him in sight. I finally used my jacket with one sleeve run through his collar. Every time I call him he stops and looks at me, then at Bagel, to see if Bagel has a better offer. I know terriers are block headed, but really! I suppose I am not very good at dog training. I truly hate yelling which is what I have to do in emergencies. Bagel is now deaf as a doorknob. If I yell loud enough he hears me and comes and then Willie comes running as though that is what he intended all along.
It is beautiful along the river. A majority of the leaves have fallen in golden heaps and the running river is a sound of which I never tire. The Aunt Hannah Brook was the background of my childhood to age five.
I picked a checkerberry leaf to chew and remembered that Martin told me that on Saturday when he cleaned his partridge he found the crop crammed with those leaves. I know that many leaves are as high as 22% protein but still I would have supposed that partridges would be stuffing themselves with berries.
Jasmine is hungrier than ever nowadays. I am giving her about 5 lb/day of 16% sweet feed. I will switch to COB (corn oats barley) when I am able to get some again.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 DD Marcia and I took an expedition over to White Water Farm in New Sharon where we picked up feed for me and Mitra. We also bought other food including butter (I can never produce all we need), pork sausage, Bell peppers, onions and 50 lbs of potatoes and chai ginger flavored gelato. Everything Russ sells is locally grown.
We then delivered Mitra’s grain to her and she fed us a delicious lunch that she had not planned for. It was cold roast chicken with a sauce composed of mayo mixed with pesto made from garlic scapes. She had bought the pesto from Amy LeBlanc, the heirloom tomato lady who also grows a lot of garlic. We shared the gelato.
To encourage large heads of garlic you need to go along and snip out the attractively curled blossoming stems or scapes. These can be pickled like dilly beans or put in stir fries. I had not previously known them to be made in pesto but it was so good that I shall probably do that with all of mine next year. One need only pulverize ones chosen herb in the blender or food processor and add olive oil. I make various kinds and put it into Ziplock bags which I store in the freezer. I can then break off what I want any time. Mitra sent us off with milk and cream.
On the way home we stopped again at the mushroom place and renewed our supply.
I got another good look at Helen and Nellie and little Bo Diddley. They were lying down chewing their cuds in the little pasture. Bo was snuggled up by Nellie. Mitra and Max have a nice tidy farmette. We did not get all the way out to visit Sophie and her four-month-old piglets.
October 21, 2009 Wednesday
I had been thinking that Jasmine was a bit slow to show signs of imminent calving but today there was a notable change. There is a definite firming up of her udder. I noticed her puffy vulva from quite a distance. She always notices when I am in the garden and comes over to the fence. I usually throw comfrey over for her but the frost has knocked it down pretty badly. Today I cut off some sunflower heads for her and a few sugar beets. She loved these.
There are still plenty of vegetables in the garden.
My chickens are not laying. Some days I get no eggs. Any day I get three now I feel like crowing.
October 22, 2009 Thursday
Today Jasmine is looking significantly more ready. She’s moving right along now. I know some people believe that a shorter dry period is associated with a lower risk of milk fever. I do hope this is true for Jasmine. I do dread having her ill.
I made a very nice meatloaf for Marcia and me with half ground beef and half pork sausage from Whitewater Farm. I served it with lots of sautéed wild mushrooms. I forget what these mushrooms were called. They looked like portabellas but bigger and meatier.
At evening chore time when I called the sheep I got no answer. Neither was Jasmine in the barn waiting for me as usual. I could not see them anywhere. I walked down into the veg garden for a better view of the South Field and spotted Jasmine over in the far corner near the bridge. She saw me and came my way. Then I saw the sheep leaping over the fence one after the other as sheep do. I don’t know if they have been hopping the fence there regularly or if this was the first time. I would not have known of it at all except that this time I was present to see them. They had been over on the river bank. My work is cut out for me tomorrow. It really is a charming sight to see them bounding along. I guess the sound of the river must have prevented them from hearing me call as they always come running at top speed. I will be able to see from the fence wire if they have been jumping regularly as they always leave wool behind.
October 23, 2009 Friday
I got a huge surprise this morning. When I took Jasmine her grain instead of making a dive for it she remained standing still on the far side of the hay feeder. I walked around and there standing next to her was a tiny damp wobbly calf. Further surprise: it’s a heifer. The last heifer born here was Helen’s Emily and she just had her third calf for Cara (MooMaine). The calf did not act especially hungry. Jasmine’s udder was far from engorged and it was difficult to even get out a squirt but I got a couple onto the calf’s nose which caused a happy leap but no organized response.
Last night when I checked Jasmine her vulva was a lot puffier but nothing like they often get. Her tailhead was looser but not floppy. Her udder was heavier but far from tight. There was no slime. I figured I could revise my Monday prediction that she would probably go to a later breeding date and say she might be ready by the date Mitra estimated which was the 29th.
This morning with the calf on the ground there was still no slime and just a smudge of blood on her hock. No sign of afterbirth.
Jasmine gobbled her grain after I brought it around to her. I then brought her a bucket of water with molasses in it, all of which she drank. I shut her into the beefer pen so that the sheep would not be able to get to her and harass her. I have been opening up North Field for her at night after the sheep are confined but for some reason I did not do that last night. Had I opened it, chances are good that she would have gone far out of sight to calve.
I then went in and called DD Marcia. She got here about 9am and helped me much of the day. I spread some of my older hay all over the beefer pen so that wherever the calf lay down would be clean. Marcia worked on getting the calf to suck which it soon was doing with a will. It went around to all four teats. As the hours passed, Jasmine’s udder began to swell but as of 6pm was still not really engorged. We found a small puddle of afterbirth out there on a late morning check. Jasmine now has a water tub and lots of good hay. Marcia and I cut the strings off of one of my round bales that are stored in the carriage house and piled the big plastic sled full of hay for her. This is excellent hay and she gobbled it. She got three sled loads of hay today and drank 3 ½ buckets of molasses water. Marcia cut a tub of comfrey for her of which she ate every leaf. Marcia cut a second tub which I am saving for morning. I checked Jasmine’s ears every hour. Twice they were coolish but then got warm again.
I have named the calf Fern. She is very small, I doubt more than 35 pounds. She got up from napping several times today to nurse. I have left the light on as a precaution against Jasmine stepping on her in the event she gets milk fever in the night. I will go out again shortly for a late check. (9pm and all’s well. Jasmine finished off her molasses water making 4 buckets for the day)
The behavior of the sheep today was odd. They did not want to leave the barnyard. At first I thought they were curious about the calf but I think I was anthropomorphisizing. I think the real reason they hung around close all day was that they did not want to go out without their cow. They always graze well within sight of Jasmine. They did a lot of blatting before finally moving off about 50 yards to graze. Every little while they came back into their paddock and stood there going baa-a-a.
DS John called from Adelaide. He offered congratulations on the calf and told me what Tommy wants for his 19th birthday. John expected he would ask for an electronic device but what he wants is a small pony. His older brother Jack has sold his horse so now Tommy’s horse has no companion. Tommy wants the pony for his horse – sorry, I forget his horse’s name. Jack and Mayumi are driving Tommy out today to see his horse which is at the farm where his mother lives. Tommy has a folding wheelchair that goes into the car. It is now Saturday in Adelaide.
October 24, 2009 Saturday
Jasmine was so alert last evening that I left her to her privacy from 10pm last night to 6am today. She was just as lively this morning. I gave her some more good hay and her tub of comfrey. DD Marcia came down after breakfast and helped me get Jasmine into her stanchion. It was really no trouble because I had made of point of leaving Willie in the house and Marcia left her Chihuahuas in her car. So Jasmine was willing to leave fern alone in the beefer pen while I hand milked a half gallon of colostrum. Fern had drunk most all from the left rear quarter.
It rained last night and all day virtually without stopping. At times it came down in buckets. The sheep decided they could graze by themselves today. They went down near the river. The rain bothers them very little. They came in looking much whiter but sad to say, they have quite a lot of horrid cockleburs. Poor Sally is in for a job getting those out of the fleece. She has in mind making a wool mattress cover. One would not like cockleburs under one’s sheets. Maybe she will change her mind and weave a rug.
I roasted a big piece of fresh ham that Mitra supplied me with last week. I drizzled it with a mixture of marmalade and balsamic glaze with a few spices and I gave it the long slow treatment in the Aga. I also roasted a mixture of home grown carrots and rutabagas separately but with dripping from the roast. Marcia picked the last of her collards which I cooked with onion and chicken stock. First I sautéed the onion, then added the collards from which I had removed the coarse central rib. I covered them with chicken stock and simmered them until tender. Marcia made brown rice cooked in chicken stock. I started most of this cooking here at the farm and finished it at Marcia’s place. Max and Mitra and the girls joined us about 1:30. The rain continued to pound down all day.
I was alone here for evening chores. This would have gone just fine except I should have left Willie in the house again. I got Jasmine half way into where her stanchion is, which meant leaving Fern alone, and she went racing back and refused to leave her. Then I saw Willie peeking out from under something. Oh no. Of course she knew he was there. I roused him out of the barn – he knew very well he was not supposed to be there – but it took me about 10 minutes of coaxing and tempting her with sweet feed before Jasmine decided it was safe to leave Fern alone. Once in her stanchion she behaved perfectly. Fern had nursed from both left quarters and I did not bother trying to get much more out of them. The right rear which has a small teat was untouched. I got close to a gallon of colostrum.
As an experiment, I tried heating some of the colostrum from the first milking which was this morning. Not to my surprise, it was not strong enough to cook up like scrambled eggs although it did thicken. This will be because of Jasmine’s short dry period. Later when it cooled it had a lovely custard consistency. Tomorrow I will make Marcia a beestings pudding. She is particularly fond of it. All one needs to do is add a little sugar and perhaps vanilla or cardamom and bake it. In this case I think I will try just stirring over heat instead.
October 25, 2009 Sunday
I took Jasmine a big serving of hay (pulled in the sled) at 6am while it was still dark. She had eaten all that I brought her last night. I went out at 7am with my bucket. She flatly would not leave Fern. After a number of minutes of fruitless circling with me wheedling, Fern got to her feet and began trotting around. I was easily able to steer her into my milking area and of course Jasmine followed. She pooped three times and peed gallons but was otherwise quiet and orderly. She could see Fern. It took me 40 minutes and I got something over a gallon.
The sheep got up their nerve to go out alone and graze for awhile but they still did a lot of blatting.
The rain has stopped and we had a bit of sun.
DD Marcia came down with a load of her things. I made lunch with yesterday’s leftovers, creamed mushrooms on rice. I also made stovetop stirred custard with the first colostrum and raspberry sauce to accompany it.
This evening Jasmine came right in leaving Fern napping. It again took me 40 minutes to milk and I got 5 quarts. Most of what I am getting is from the quarters on Jasmine’s right. She did not let down really well. When I let Jasmine back out Fern went straight to her and found the left rear teat that she obviously prefers.
I took three sled loads of hay to Jasmine. She finishes it all.
October 26, 2009 Monday
We had very fine weather today. The sky was blue and cloudless but I think the temperature did not rise about 45F.
I took Jasmine a load of hay at 6 am and went out to milk at 7:30. I got something over a gallon. She has a lot more but we are both at our limit at that point, she of her patience and I of my strength.
I wnet back out later and offered Jasmine the opportunity to go out and graze without Fern, whom I put on a dog leash.. I stood around about 15 minutes while she pooped indecisively and tried to make up her mind. I pointed out that there would not be many more fine days and promised to take good care of Fern but in the end she just couldn’t leave. Maybe tomorrow. The sheep go out to graze but every little while they come back up near the house and baa–a until I talk to them. After they hear my voice they dawdle about for a few minutes and then return to grazing.
Marcia came down and helped me out with hauling out hay, carrying in wood and barn cleaning.
Jasmine’s production is starting to get ahead of me and Fern. Fern has switched her preference to the front teats leaving me with the teensy back ones. Oh darn it. The transition from colostrum to milk is well advanced.
Fern is a spunky little thing, lively and willful. She takes a lot of long naps between meals. She is still all bones but has lost the caved-in look with which calves are born. She runs over and finds a teat whenever she is hungry and drinks just the right amount, never too much. Jasmine stops whatever she is doing and stands perfectly still for her
October 27, 2009 Tuesday
Jasmine was friendly and cooperative this morning as usual but did not let down well. I only got 1 gallon. About 10am I got a call from Mitra that her new machine had arrived right on schedule complete with vacuum pump so Marcia and I took a drive over to her house. When we got there she was busy setting it up with guidance by phone from Willie, Bissie and Bessie on the forum. It is a beautiful machine. Mitra called this evening with the good news that she milked Nellie with it and got the usual amount. She also announced that Max is racing home from his job in MA a little early to help out. (I have a honeydo list of my own for him.)
Marcia and I took a look at the cows. They look great. Bo Diddley is a fine looking calf in every way. We then raced around Farmington doing errands. Marcia picked out paint for the fresh wallboard area around the new dormer in the room she will be occupying this winter.
When I let Jasmine in this evening for milking Fern trotted along. I tied her next to her mother but she immediately got tangles and flopped down so I let her wander about. This of course was distracting to Jasmine plus I think she was just getting happy with hand milking and we all know how little cows like change. I only got 1 ½ gallons. She resisted letting down. I will be dealing with that now for a few days or possibly months.
For supper I made myself a delicious chowder with Alaskan canned salmon, potatoes, onions, milk and cream. This was very restorative.
October 29, 2009 Thursday
I let them out today and Jasmine and Fern went and stood in the sunny barnyard. The sheep saw them and raced up to mill around which infuriated Jasmine. She butted them as fast as she could. If she had had horns a couple of them would have been over the fence. In a few minutes she took Fern back inside and they never did get out into the pasture.
DD Marcia spent the day painting her new room and rearranging furniture. DS Max came over and did lots of things for me. He put the spike on the tractor and delivered the already opened round bale out to the feeder in the beefer pen. No more sled loads of hay for a while. He mounted my vacuum pump and he put up clotheslines in the loft of the carriage house. I needed to get the lines out of the room into which Marcia will be moving. I fed him a lentil stew with lots of vegetables and meat.
Last evening and again tonight I made butter with Mitra’s cream from Nellie. She does not have time to do it right now. Tonight from three quarts of cream I got almost 2 lbs of butter. I will be able to give it to her on Saturday if, as hoped, they come over for roast duck.
October 30, 2009 Friday
Jasmine is not kicking but she absolutely is not letting down for the machine any batter than she was when I milked her by hand. Wednesday and Thursday I got only slightly over a gallon at each milking. Last night I put Fern in the box stall. Jasmine did a bit of mooing then was quiet until daybreak. This morning I got two full gallons. Thus encouraged, I let Fern out to spend the day with her mom. I stuck her back in tonight because this evening Jas gave only ½ gallon. I poured it into a bottle which I will give to Fern for breakfast. She flailed at me viciously with her tail. I tied it with a string. They will have to stay separated until Jas becomes more cooperative.
Marcia worked all day on painting her room and arranging furniture. Between us we got one of her overstuffed chairs up the stairs and into her room.
My spring water line has quit running. It comes to the house from 5/8 of a mile away There is a stretch of pipe along the river that is exposed. Probably a moose walked through it.
October 31, 2009 Saturday
I took a bottle to the barn for Fern this morning and succeeded after only about ten minutes of dodging around to get her to take it. Of course hunger was a motivation for her. My motivation was to have her be quiet while I milked Jasmine. Jasmine did let down pretty well. She gave 2 ½ gallons. I put fern back out with her for the day. She still will not go out to graze. She does not want to leave Fern and she does not want her to have any commerce with the sheep.
The milk now is perfect, no further hint of colostrum. I made 2 lbs of butter again today.
The weather is odd. It got up to about 60˚ and the sky was black and threatening. Then a big wind came up and it started to rain hard about 8pm. Fortunately it held off until the Trick or Treat visitors had all come. I get very few.
Once again this evening Jasmine gave very little, about 3 quarts. I have separated Fern again.
I simmered one of the Luick chickens to make a dish DS John described on the phone from Adelaide. It is called Hainanese chicken rice. You cook the rice in chicken broth and serve it on a soup plate with skinless chicken and some cooked greens. It is suppose to be flavored with lemon grass which I don’t have. I used French sorrel and a couple of tiny limes. I was able to pick a nice selection of greens in the late garden, arugula, chard, tatsoi and endive.
November 01, 2009 Sunday
Fern drank only one quart from her bottle this morning. Nothing was wrong with her. She was holding out for mama, I would say. After various encouragements such as brushing and tummy rubs, Jasmine let down pretty well. She gave almost 3 gallons. Fern and she spent the day together but Jasmine still did not try again to take her outside even though we had a number of periods of sunshine. Jasmine gave ¾ gallon tonight. They are separated again but are getting used to it. Each gave just one little moo. There is a tiny low window in Fern’s stall through which they can see each other and touch noses. Fern is growing very fast.
Max came over again today especially to fix my spring line and to pick up clabber. Actually it is skimmed colostrum which is highly resistant to clabbering so is not thickened.
After feeding him a lunch of lots of Hainanese chicken rice leftovers and fresh pumpkin yeast rolls with crabapple and highbush cranberry jelly, Max set out to find the reason that my spring water is not running. He and Roshan (11) checked out the line at the river and brook and found no leak. Then he attempted to back flush the line by attaching the garden hose to the high pressure water line from my drilled well and was not able to drive any water through the system. I suggested he go have a look at the spring itself. It starts with a rock lined well on a hillside 5/8 mile away on property owned by neighbor Elwin Brown. You can drive most of the way. They found the head of a dead moose sticking out of the well. Max told Elwin about it and Elwin offered to pull it out with his skidder. Max came back here for our chain so that is when I heard about it. My first thought was “We’ve been drinking that water!” Later I began thinking ‘Poor moose.” It was a cow moose.
Next time Max came back it was to get a gallon of bleach to put into the water. Roshan reported that the moose was stinky but thank goodness not so rotted as to fall apart. None of us have gotten sick nor even noticed anything funny about the water. I guess this was a clean living Maine woodland moose. Max plans to come back tomorrow and set up Marcia’s sump pump and trash pump the well, powering the pump with a converter that plugs into the car.
After this story I am not sure if anybody cares to hear about the outstanding dinner that Marcia made for us this evening but I can’t fail to mention the wild mushrooms in cream gravy. We had chicken of the woods, shiitake and some other big solid thing similar to Portobello, all purchased last week at our new found mushroom barn. I baked a small buttercup squash and that too was a treat. I also baked a quince from a box that my sister Barby sent from California. Baked quince cut in half and baked cut side down in a little puddle of butter and brown sugar with a pinch of cinnamon is truly a fine thing. It is best served with a little cream or vanilla ice cream.
Marcia has now moved in with me for the winter. She has potted up and brought here a great many ornamental plants, probably 50 pots, and has them on staging around her room under grow lights. There are several little citrus trees that she had last winter in Florida. It is a regular Garden of Eden and smells lovely.
November 02, 2009 Monday
It was down to 22˚ this morning with white frost but soon it grew bright and sunny. Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons. I only took Fern one quart in her bottle because yesterday that is all she took. This morning I could tell she would have taken more but one quart was enough to keep her happy until I turned her out with her mom. Today for the first time Jasmine and Fern went outside and stayed out. I have a feeling that Fern led the way. They were both down in the sheep paddock. The sheep were not at home and Fern was dashing around exploring. The sheep returned but soon got tired of being butted by Jasmine and retired to their own run-in under the carriage house. Jasmine deliberately went over and drank their water. I guess that showed them.
Max arrived with a rented pump and pumped out my well twice. He said it recharged quickly. I knew he was going to climb down into the well which caused me to worry when he was slow to return home. He arrived back here at the house just as I got my coat on to go look for him. He explained that he was late because he and neighbor Elwin walked all the way down to the brook again in hopes of discovering why the water was still not flowing through the line. Elwin walks very slowly because of his quadruple bypass. But Max was glad for the opportunity to hear Elwin’s accounts of times past.
Marcia and I cooked a piece of pork shoulder with the last of my sauerkraut. Marcia also made a beautiful tarte Tatin.
November 04, 2009 Wednesday
Jasmine is giving me about 3 ½ gallons/day or a little more. Fern is with her all day and separated at night. I giver her a warm bottle first thing in the morning before I milk Jasmine so that she doesn’t bawl. She is good about taking it although still a little inefficient. I assume she drinks another gallon during the day as she always comes in looking round and two of Jasmine’s quarters have been sucked. Jasmine has unlimited hay of good quality but chooses not to go out to graze. At each milking she gets a mixture of COB and beet pulp, about 8 lbs total but I have not weighed it. If I run out, I pick up a bag of Blue Seal Coarse 16 dairy feed. I top dress her feed with a handful each of DT (diatomaceous earth) and kelp and a glug of ACV (apple cider vinegar). She looks in good condition except I need to get her feet trimmed.
Yesterday Marcia drove me to Lewiston to my dermatologist. She found a couple of spots on my face that she said were cancer and froze them both. She also took off a black spot for biopsy. Back home I put comfrey oil and vitamin E on these spots and today put macerated comfrey leaves. The doctor said the two frozen spots would blister but so far they have not.
Today I finally got my tulip bulbs planted. Every day is colder and soon the ground will freeze. I picked Brussels sprouts and dug some parsnips for our dinner.
On our way home yesterday we stopped at Home Depot and Marcia bought a length of carpeting for the back stairs up to her room. Today she very cleverly laid the carpet including cutting it to go around a right angle turn. It looks very good.
DS John in Adelaide continues to monitor my health following my ingestion of moose juice. Today he wrote:
How's your health? I thought of a few more diseases you might have from the cow moose. But for what it's worth, I heard on the radio today that 300 households in Adelaide were studied, all of whom drank water from their rainwater tank, and their level of gastroenteritis was no higher than the pop as a whole. While very few if any are likely to have a dead cow moose in them, all would have heaps of birdshit, spider poop, and small dead microscopic animals. Microbes aplenty.
Tommy tells me that they have put him on Lexapro (the one you sent the Sci News article about two weeks ago). There was no fanfare; just a new pill on his tray this morning. So there you go - influencing treatment of spinal cord patients as far away as Adelaide!
So far I am healthy although for a day or so I thought my stomach might be complaining gently, just that gurgley feeling where you wonder if you should eat something but know you could not really be hungry, so have tea.
I had directed John’s attention to an article that emerged from an SCI meeting in Chicago (Spinal Cord Injury) and he called Tommy’s doctor to ask him to consider the medication mentioned.
November 05, 2009 Thursday
Jasmine is doing fine. Her production is rising a bit, perhaps just because she is letting down better. She is past the raging hormonal stage. This evening was the first time she neither pooped nor peed while in the stanchion. At first I was leaping up and down two or three times at each milking, scraping with the shovel and throwing down more shavings.
This afternoon she pretty well finished off the round bale of high grade hay. I threw down half of a square bale tonight. It will be interesting so see how her production tomorrow is affected.
November 06, 2009 Friday
Jasmine’s production was down today by about 2 quarts. It could have been the poor hay, which she did eat, but other factors might be to blame. She was quite annoyed with me this evening because Fern managed to slither past me and trail her all the way into her stanchion. I removed her effortlessly but Jasmine wanted her to stay and raised her tail during milking in every possible way. I have her piled up with good hay tonight.
Marcia has been working on a list of things designed to ease us into (and through) winter more graciously. She has arranged for an electrician to improve our lighting in the carriage house and buttery. She is also arranging for combination windows to be added around the kitchen. There was snow on the ground this morning. It melted but the temperature did not get as high as 40˚. She has finished the painting in her room and has her furniture all arranged and work areas set up for batik. She and I both are complaining that we are not accomplishing enough. I suggested that tomorrow if weather permits, we take a tiring walk among the fallen leaves and see if we can refocus our minds.
DIL Mitra’s folks arrived today from California. They will be with us through November. November is not the most charming month in Maine but we will do our best to make them happy.
Max reports that he and his friend Tim Pulk got together today and built new quarters for Sophie the sow.
November 07, 2009 Saturday
Jasmine is holding steady at 3 ½ gallons a day plus whatever Fern is taking. Both have excellent appetites but Jasmine still just stays inside with Fern eating hay. I am giving her the good hay in the morning and evening and the not-so-good hay for lunch. DS Mark called this morning to say that he and Annie and Hailey would be up for dinner and overnight. I got out some pheasants that DS Martin’s friend Russ had given me.
Steve Pulk worked here all day replacing cracked window panes. I had a surprising number of them, some of which I have been living with for several years. It was cold work but he never stopped. What a treat to have them all replaced.
Marcia worked up at camp for a couple of hours finishing up her winterizing. I worked on dinner preparations. I picked the last of the Brussels sprouts and a couple of rutabagas. These I cut up small for a braised veg dish that is always a hit. I made a brown rice pilaf using chicken stock. The pheasant I stuffed with a spoonful of sausage and a quarter of an apple, then drizzled them with melted butter. I put a few ounces of Madeira in the pan and roasted them in the hot oven for about 35 minutes. I was quite amazed at how well they turned out. They were moist and tender. I have seldom cooked pheasant but mostly they have been pretty dry. I suppose these must have been nice young birds, plus I added lots of butter. The Joy of Cooking said that it is important not to overcook them so I was careful about that. I turned them breast side down for the last 10 minutes.
I don’t believe I mentioned this before, but a couple of weeks ago all of my barn cats died within less than a week apparently of some cat plague. I was very much grieved even though none were actually pettable. Several had been my barn buddies for many years and I fed them twice daily but none had ever had shots. Only one of my cats had had shots and that was Stanley who had been given to a good home when quite young. They had gotten him all his shots but then returned him to me because of an apparently incurable and pretty disgusting sinus condition. He lived outside the kitchen in the buttery. He did not become ill but yesterday he too disappeared.
November 08, 2009 Sunday
Today dawned bright and beautiful. Mark and Annie took an early hike up Center Hill before breakfast. When they got home I fed them blueberry pancakes using buttermilk and whole wheat pastry flour. They then had to return to Portland to catch up on the paperwork for their large patient load. We hope to see them again soon. Hailey is getting very tall. She is now a high school junior, so hard to believe. She is taking seven heavy duty courses all advanced placement including chemistry, physics, calculus, French, anatomy, history and I can’t remember what else, some kind of English course I think. She went for a 45 minute run while here. Bagel was told to stay home but sailed over the fence and ran along causing Willie great frustration.
This afternoon Marcia and I drove over to Max and Mitra’s house. It is Shireen’s birthday. She was looking very fine in a winter weight red blazer from LLBean. It was good to see Mitra’s folks, Marie and Alex, who are visiting from California. After some delicious cheesecake made with Mitra’s home made sour cream, we got a grand tour of the barnyard. Max and Tim built a sturdy pig house for Sophie and Max has created a new pen for her to separate her from her three offspring, now five months old. They are a fine looking group but Sophie is shouldering them out of the way at the feed trough and they need to grow on fast now. I contributed 5 gallons of skim today. Sophie is very good natured in general.
Back home at the farm, we were thrilled to see that Stanley had returned! He had finished off the bowl of cream I left on the shelf for him and emerged to greet us.
Jasmine gave almost 4 gallons today.
Mark tells me I posted my bp as 180. Actually I think it was 120. Sorry. Anyway, next time he visits he plans to bring his cuff. Then I’ll get my facts straight.
November 09, 2009 Monday
Today was unseasonably warm and balmy. Jasmine took Fern outside for a couple of hours. I opened the gate so that she and the sheep could graze the north field but none of them noticed their opportunity. Jasmine probably did notice and decided against it. Cows always notice an open gate.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning but after a day with Fern she gave only ½ gallon. I may go OAD tomorrow depending on her udder. This is unusually early in her lactation to start OAD but she will not be giving such floods of milk this time due to her short dry period.
We are starting to give the sheep some hay.
November 10, 2009 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning.
The weather was warm and balmy, more like September. Marcia drove me to the dermatologist. The doc further freeze sprayed one of the spots she has done last week. This one had tested positive for actinal keratosis. It is on my forehead so will not show very much.
Afterwards I bought lunch for Marcia at Nezinscott Farm, Gloria Varney’s marvelous store. We each had one of her burgers. She serves their farm raised ground beef on home made bread. She has an innovative way of creating the “bun”. She cuts out a big circle with a 4” cookie cutter.
Gloria now has a cheese making room and offers a great many types of cheese. I felt quite inspired. Currently I am just skimming my extra milk for butter making and saving the skim for Max and Mitra’s livestock.
When we got home I saw Jasmine out in the pasture (not very far out) grazing with Fern prancing around. I was pleased to see this because I want Fern to have some grazing experience before it snows. She already eats hay.
I went down and picked a basket of braising greens for our supper. These were mostly from our bed of mesclun. It was one of Johnny’s Selected Seed mixes. We really like it and wish we could remember which one it was. Right now the endive and Tatsoi in it are thriving.
When I brought Jasmine in for her supper and felt her udder I decided I could risk OAD. She seemed to understand immediately that she was not going to be milked. She ate her grain and left. She has been letting down a lot better in the morning than in the evening.
November 12, 2009 Thursday
Wednesday morning Jasmine gave 3 gallons of milk and her udder was not in trouble. Last night I again did not milk but in addition, left Fern with her. This morning I only got 2 gallons of milk. Both of her left quarters were well sucked. Jasmine was slightly resistant to letting down so I did not get quite all of the milk. This evening it was evident that Fern had again sucked only on the left. I doubt she has taken any milk at all from Jasmine’s right side quarters. Quite a lot of milk had built up. I may have been unwise not to milk her this evening. If left side let down is a problem again tomorrow morning I will separate Fern at night again. Then on Saturday morning when Fern is very hungry I can make her take the right side and Jasmine will let down properly.
Marcia and I visited Mitra and family today in New Sharon and took her 7 gallons of skim. Both of her parents had colds and Roshan was home sick. Happily, none of them was very sick. Mitra gave us good chicken salad sandwiches. She showed me a big bowl of lovely butter balls she had made. She has a new milk customer who came for a gallon of milk and ended up taking 2 gallons and 2 dozen eggs and bought two of her wonderful chickens. The man is a WAPF member.
The sheep are getting even pushier. This morning Jasmine was quite frantic trying to shove them out of the way around the hay feeder. They tried hard to accompany her through the door when I brought her in for milking. Marcia is going to change the morning schedule so they stay in their paddock longer.
November 13, 2009 Friday
As I feared was going to happen, Jasmine has a slight case of mastitis in her right rear quarter, the one that Fern seldom touches. This morning she was resistant to letting down in that quarter. I rubbed the upper back portion with an analgesic liniment, all that I had handy. I brought her in this evening for a second milking. There is no comfrey now, it is all frozen, but I top dressed her grain with vitamin C and CLO both of which seemed helpful in the past. The quarter is not touchy and let down a lot better tonight. I got a gallon even though Fern had recently fed. I left Fern with her overnight.
We opened the gate today to the north field and the whole troop had a fine time trying out new pasture, late season though it is. Fern pranced around looking sweet. She is wearing an orange scarf or she would be nearly invisible. She is the same color as the tall grass. The sheep wanted to graze right by Jasmine’s nose. Every time one got close enough she gave it a broadside with her head.
Marcia arranged for electricians to come and wire the carriage house. They worked hard all day and now we have a convenient series of lights. The carriage house has been completed for several months but wiring was not in the contract. We have been getting along with a bare minimum. It is dark now by 4:30 and I have been relying on my headlamp a lot. The lighting is wonderful.
DS Martin and DIL Amy and little Hannah and Henry, 3 ½ and 1 ½, stopped in this evening on their way to camp. We all had applesauce and cream. Everyone is coming here tomorrow for a duck dinner. I defrosted two 5 lb ducks but after everybody left or went to bed I began studying Julia Child and Shannon Hayes and decided two won’t be enough. I am defrosting a third.
November 14, 2009 Saturday
Jasmine’s mastitis was a little bit better this morning but the milk still tasted salty. She let down pretty well. She gave two gallons and a bit. This evening I milked again and got a gallon. Fern is with her for the night again. The milk from the affected quarter was less salty but not perfect in flavor. Unfortunately I unthinkingly turned her loose without applying the lard cayenne rub that I like to use. She did get more CLO and vitamin C and a lot of apple parings.
It rained all day. The temp was around 40˚. Aren’t we glad it was not snow!
The sheep squeezed under their gate and headed straight for the paddock garden. The electric fence around it did not slow them down at all. They had a lovely day eating old corn and clover. Fortunately they had no interest in further exploration and prefer to return to their run-in to chew their cuds.
DD Marcia and I hosted dinner this afternoon for 11 counting ourselves but not counting the toddlers. Max and Mitra and the lovely girls and Mitra’s parents, DS Martin and DIL Amy and little Hannah and Henry, and DS (Dr.) Mark. Little Hannah and Henry are perfect dinner guests, a real joy. They eat as fast as they can of everything on their plates, interspersing cute remarks. I roasted three of our home reared ducks. These were a huge hit. I used Julia Child’s method in The Way to Cook which involves first steaming for 30 minutes, then braising with chopped vegetables for 30 minutes, then dry roasting on a rack until crispy and fully cooked. It takes a lot of pans and counter space to be shifting the ducks back and forth but I ended up with properly roasted ducks, no scorched pans of burned fat, just lovely pan juice from which I made a reduction that I served in sauce boats. I now have a quart of lovely duck fat for months of cooking. Another time I will likely try the Shannon Hayes recipe. Her method is similar but her recipe is for an Asian style duck with tamari, so the fat will be flavored. I wanted clear fat.
For starters, Mitra brought goat cheese, tomatoes and basil, the classic Iranian treat.
Along with the duck we had a lovely spinach salad with pears made by Amy and her good tabouli. Mark brought marvelous bread from Portland’s Standard Baking Company. It was made with Maine grown wheat. Marcia made a skillet apple pie with oatmeal crust.
Mark took my blood pressure after dinner. It was 132/78.
November 15, 2009 Sunday
The weather today was remarkably fine. It felt like May. The sun shone and it was 50˚. Down in the veg garden I saw a bumblebee working on the late violas. The comfrey leaves are all dead but I dug up roots for Jasmine. I washed them and chopped them up. Her mastitis was scarcely evident this morning. This evening I included the chopped root with her grain. She left some of it uneaten. There was one tiny fleck on the strainer. The flavor of the milk from that quarter was drinkable but not up to her full standard.
DS Martin and DIL Amy stopped here on their way home. They said they had a fine outing in their canoe with the kids.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning and 1 this evening. I put Fern in the box stall tonight because Jas is again holding up her cream. This will also give me the opportunity to direct Fern to her right rear teat in the morning so that it gets emptied out better.
Marcia cooked dinner tonight. She made pesto and served it on fettuccine. We each had a reheated and crisped duck leg that was just as good as yesterday.
November 16, 2009 Monday
The power went off just before milking time this morning. I called the power company number and the estimate was for a three hour outage. I had separated Fern last night so turned her in with Jasmine to help out with the milking. Marcia directed her to the troubled quarter which she otherwise never takes. All the animals had a pleasant day. It was sunny but not as warm as yesterday. The sheep grazed in the north field but Jasmine stayed in. She has been having soupy manure, perhaps because I have been giving her some beet pulp and the current bag of COB has more molasses than usual. She had no grain this morning and this evening did not poop while in her stanchion. I will cut out the beet pulp for now. She ate all of her chopped comfrey root. There were no flecks on the strainer tonight but the milk from the right rear remains salty tasting.
Grandson Tommy reports that he has a lot more sensation now and can flex his abs better. DS John, his dad, takes him home now every weekend. He has built an access ramp. He often takes Tommy to a movie or the food halls or mall.
They are having a major heat wave in Australia.
November 17, 2009 Tuesday
It was sunny again today but the temperature did not rise above 45˚. I did not see Jasmine out grazing but the sheep were busy again in the paddock area. Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning and 1 gallon this evening. The milk from her right rear quarter was not salty but was not very sweet. This evening it was further improved with no flecks on the filter morning or evening. She let down from that quarter very completely. I am now using my deLaval style machine. It helps to be able to see the milk flowing instead of just guessing. I left Jasmine and Fern together tonight and the gate open to the north field in case they want to graze at night. This is the first time I have done this, I mean left gates so that Fern may accompany Jasmine into the north field at night. It makes me a little nervous as some neighbors up that way have dogs. The sheep are shut into their small paddock every night with a run-in under the buttery.
I made butter today. I make it every second or third day. I also made lentil soup from duck stock. We had this for supper with vanilla custard.
November 19, 2009 Thursday
Yesterday (Wednesday) was very fine. I hung laundry outdoors. Marcia carpeted the front stairs for me. They were bare varnished wood, nice, but subject to working up old nails every so often. The carpet is the same dark red that she used on the back stairs and looks very good. I am begging for a picture. Despite these satisfactions I had a hard time being cheerful because at breakfast while eating a croissant, another of my teeth broke off. This time it was a front incisor. Its loss is a severe blight upon my beauty. Fortunately Dr. Bozorgnia had an opening today right after Marcia’s preexisting appointment. I went in and got an x-ray and have another appointment tomorrow to start repair work. Marcia has kindly offered to drive me again because the work will be invasive.
After today’s appointment we raced around and did errands and did not get home until 4:30.
Milking did not go smoothly. Jasmine has messy manure lately and seemed crabby. Maybe her feet hurt. One of her toes is in great need of trimming and all of them could use it. She pooped about 6 times, most of it clearly on purpose. This morning she gave 2½ gallons and one gallon tonight. Her mastitis was undetectable except to me; I could tell a slight difference in the milk from that quarter. There was nothing on the strainer. The only specific treatment she has had for the last 3 days is the lard and cayenne rub so it must be helping. I left Fern with her tonight to cheer her up.
Marcia works with Fern while I am milking. She is tied in front of Jasmine’s stanchion where they can touch noses. Marcia is teaching her to pick up her feet and she has gotten cooperative very quickly. Marcia leads her in and out on a rope and she is becoming quite orderly already.
November 20, 2009 Friday
I spent two hours today getting invasive dental work and my mouth is full of stitches. I did milk tonight but following instructions, I lifted nothing. Dear Marcia fixed a nice mushy dinner.
Jasmine was a good girl today. No one, not even an experienced milk taster, would notice anything wrong with her milk.
Here is a picture Max took of the poor young cow moose who drowned in my well. This was taken as she was being winched out of the well. To read the whole sad story, you need to scroll back up to the November 1st HD entry.
November 21, 2009 Saturday
Jasmine and Fern were separated last night and Jas gave 3 gallons this morning. Fern now eats hay steadily while standing next to her mom. I left them together all day and tonight they will be together as well.
The deer have started coming into the garden. I have the electric fence turned off because there is not much left. But today I went down to pull my rutabagas and the deer had eaten the tops off and had eaten all the chard. Tonight I suppose they will eat the kale. Thank goodness they have not assaulted the fruit trees. I have a young orchard of 8 trees.
My mouth does not hurt so long as I don’t try to put in my partial. I have to eat without it so am restricted to things like oatmeal and soup. Marcia made a chocolate cake with chocolate icing that gives new meaning to the term “decadent dessert”. I was able to eat that. The cake is really for tomorrow when the Luick’s are coming over but Marcia made a little extra, a sort of giant cupcake.
This morning I made a pesto mixture that a member put on the forum. It is called:
CORIANDER CHELATION PESTO 4 cloves garlic 1/3 cup Brazil nuts (selenium) 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine) 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium) 2 cups packed fresh coriander; aka cilantro or Chinese parsley (vitamin A) 2/3 cup flaxseed oil 4 tablespoons lemon juice (vitamin C) 2 tsp dulse powder Sea salt to taste
NOTE: All seeds & nuts should be raw and not salted. Other ingredients should always be as organic as possible. I know nuts CAN be hard to digest and for that reason many other recipes recommend you soak them overnight in water before eating them. I would recommend two additional things. Take a psyllium supplement daily. It works like a broom to sweep all the bad stuff out of your body. Then, don’t assume that if a little is good a lot is better. Throwing toxins can make you very ill. Proceed with caution even in trying to detox.
Process the coriander and flaxseed oil in a blender until the coriander is chopped. Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Add a pinch to sea salt to taste and blend again. Store in dark glass jars if possible. It freezes well, so purchase coriander in season and fill enough jars to last through the year.
Coriander has been proven to chelate toxic metals from our bodies in a relatively short period of time. Combined with the benefits of the other ingredients, this recipe is a powerful tissue cleanser. Two teaspoons of this pesto daily for three weeks is purportedly enough to increase the urinary excretion of mercury, lead and aluminum, thus effectively removing these toxic metals from our bodies. We can consider doing this cleanse for three weeks at least once a year. The pesto is delicious on toast, baked potatoes, and pasta....since we are steering clear of the simple sugars though.....use it as a DIP for a personal veggie tray! (End of quoted text.)
I made it for the first time. What it will do for my innards we’ll have to wait and see but Marcia and I agreed it is delicious. I made a couple of changes. As I had not soaked the nuts, I sautéed them lightly in butter. Also I used kelp rather than dulse. The recipe made a bit over a pint.
I am sorry to say that I don’t have the name of the contributor.
November 22, 2009 Sunday
So far as I can tell it did Jasmine no harm to have Fern overnight. She still gave two gallons. However, as I expected, she was resentful of being brought in to be milked. Cows seem to very quickly get a feeling that they would just as soon not be milked if they have their calf.
It was a beautiful day. Marcia and I had expected the Luick’s and Eskandari’s over for cake but that did not work out after all. Max came by himself and did lots of things to help out. He moved a round bale into the barn using the spike on the Kubota and ran a guy rope up into the rafters so that the bale, which was perched on top of the feeder, is not in danger of rolling over and crushing Fern. He also used the Kubota to remove the manure pile that Marcia has been building in back of the barn, re-hung a stubborn gate, and then he and Marcia walked to the river to put a fence back together. We fed him some cake and sent some home for the others.
I did not milk tonight. Jasmine’s udder was not in trouble. I have added carrots to her menu, four a day to start with. I will continue this indefinitely if I am able to get the carrots at a reasonable price. This is not horse country. Those giant bags that are available everywhere in VA are not seen around here.
My mouth is a bit better today. I am still able only to eat easy food. I sautéed some liver for dinner packaged from our last steer, Jeremiah. It was quite exceptionally good.
November 23, 2009 Monday
I explained to Jasmine that if she would let down nicely Fern would stay with her all the time. Perhaps she understood. In any case this morning after a night with Fern she gave 3 ¼ gallons which is plenty for me. The milk was clear. I continued with OAD this evening. Marcia and I are so hoping this will continue to work out as one has so much more time to get other things done. But at the least sign of trouble I will return to TAD.
I went back to the dentist and got my stitches out. My mouth feels better but I can’t get impressions for another two weeks so will not be smiling in any photographs at Thanksgiving. No front teeth.
November 24, 2009 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning and was very cooperative. Later I learned that my vet would be in the neighborhood and I asked him to disbud Fern. She is a month old and her horn buds are coming up fast. The poor dear was flopped out on the floor for hours. Marcia cared for her faithfully while I provided some lunch for Dr. Cooper. She made fern a pillow out of a feed bag and covered her with a horse blanket.
Also today Marcia put Xmas tree ornaments into my baby fruit trees – little cubes of Irish Spring soap in onion net bags – to deter deer. This will probably work, if she is not too late. As of Sunday the deer had not attacked the trees. The electric fence is off now and the deer noticed this right away and gobbled down the chard and rutabaga tops.
I did not skip milking this evening because of course Fern had not nursed this afternoon. Jasmine gave another 1 ½ gallons but clearly was worrying about Fern and did not let down very well. By the time we left them at 6 PM Fern was nursing. We left them closed into the barn for safety just in case Fern continues to be wobbly.
We had expected DS Martin today but it turns out he has been sick with the flu. He says he is better now and will be up here tomorrow. He wants to help Max and me to get more hay. Max has located eight more 2nd cut round bales which we will share and some year old 2nd cut square bales. He bought one of these to try on his cows and they seemed to like it so we will also get some of this. I have been pretty worried about the relative emptiness of my barn and feel better already. Anyone with animals will know the feeling.
November 25, 2009 Wednesday
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning.
Fern was perky but had diarrhea all over her back end and plops of it in the beefer pen where they spent the night. Marcia cleaned her up. As the day went on there was no more diarrhea, thank goodness. We poured vitamin E into the little craters on her head.
Martin arrived here about 10am. He and Max arranged to postpone picking up the hay because it was drizzling and Martin still does not feel well. He worked on wiring up his flatbed trailer that he keeps here and split wood. He also put the tiller on the Kubota and tilled the paddock garden and what a surprise he got. The two 100’ rows of potatoes that had disappeared when the garden flooded actually had some potatoes in them. The turf had merged over them to the extent that the rows could not even be identified let alone dug by hand. Of course when the tiller hit them most were sliced in half but Martin got down on his knees and filled a big wash basin with them. I cooked them for supper. Martin is staying here over night but will have to leave early tomorrow. He and DIL Amy are going to Boston to join her family including her Grandmother Mimi,104 years old.
I did not milk this evening.
November 26, 2009 Thursday
Last night I made yeast raised pancake batter for Martin for this morning. He ate breakfast and got going about 8am. He was still not feeling well at all. I fed him a lot of vitamin D capsules. I am out of CLO, besides nobody but me is likely to gag it down. In any case, Bret says you can’t get enough D from CLO.
Jasmine and Fern were fine this morning. For perhaps the first time ever, Fern had nursed the right rear quarter. She still left me 3 ½ gallons.
Right after breakfast Marcia and I found potato digging equipment and armed like members of a peasant uprising, headed out to the potato patch to see what more we could find. We each filled another basin with (mostly broken) potatoes. We hosed them off and left them to dry for now.
All animals had the benefit of the north field until noon. By then they were all back inside chewing cud and I closed the field because Marcia and I were loading up to go to Max and Mitra’s for their special Thanksgiving dinner. They served one of their large and delicious chickens plus stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed squash, roasted root vegetables, green salad and cranberry relish. Max made one of his fine apple pies. Everyone had a wonderful time.
November 27, 2009 Friday
Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning. I was late to the barn and Fern had an extra feed. Fern is back to her former friendly, frisky self now but I did not challenge her by touching her head.
It’s 9:30 now and I have just finished making the turkey stuffing for tomorrow’s dinner. It is traditional style. I save good French bread in the freezer for times like this. The stuffing includes celery, onion, apple, chestnuts, golden raisins, sage from my garden, s&p, a few other things I may have forgotten, and a couple of quarts of home made chicken stock poured on hot. Now it sits over night. I will cook it separately from the bird. I have defrosted an 18 pounder. It has a very professional appearance. It is hard to believe we raised it.
DS Bret and Grandson Harper, both in Fairbanks AK, are also busy with preparations for their joint family meal tomorrow.
This afternoon Marcia and I went to the Free Store, a thrift store sponsored by St. Theresa’s in the nearby town of Mexico. You take what you want and leave a free will offering. Marcia had never been there. She was delighted to find a brand new pair of Doc Marten shoes and an elegant red wool coat.
November 28 2009 Saturday
Jasmine is happy and gave a bit over 2 gallons.
Max came over during the morning and he and Martin took a sheet of weather hardy plywood up to cover my spring. The line is still not running but they think it will recover eventually. There is plenty of lovely water in the spring now.
We had our turkey today. As may be imagined, I spent most of the day cooking. I had the turkey in the oven by 9:30am, unstuffed. I baked the stuffing separately. DS Martin and Amy and the kids came down here about 10am because the power went off at their camp. It was very stormy with rain and violent gusts of wind. Amy made her potato and Brussels sprouts dish and her pureed squash here, both excellent. I managed to fit in baking a couple of loaves of bread. I also made cole slaw that Marcia especially liked. It had a simple dressing of mayo, 1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce and about 3 tablespoons of reduced cider. The cider was simmered down to a syrup. This makes a delicious product useful in many ways. Everyone liked the food. We were all so happy with the turkey that we agreed that we must raise turkeys again next year. Max made an excellent pumpkin pie.
Present were Martin and family, Max and Mitra and daughters Shireen and Roshan, and Mitra’s parents Marie and Alex.
Martin and Amy and the kids stayed here overnight, their place being cold and dark. During the evening Martin set up the DVD player and attempted to get it to play the DVD that DS John sent, Food Inc. Martin lay on the floor with a flashlight and tools for a good 45 minutes attempting to get it to play but it would not. We had all hoped to see it. With some difficulty Martin got another movie to play that happened to be here, Knee Deep, a sad account of a young dairy farmer in the New Sharon area where Max and Mitra live. The movie was perfectly factual, at least it conformed to the newspaper accounts of the time. However the movie failed to convey a sense of the depth of attachment one might have for a farm and its cows capable of accounting for the matricidal conduct of the young farmer. I suspect that the director related better to those in the story who appeared to view farming as a default occupation for those ill suited to anything better.
November 29, 2009 Sunday
The rain has stopped but it remains cold and blowy. Jasmine is well. She gave something over 2 gallons.
After breakfast Martin left for New Sharon where he picked up four round bales for Max and Mitra and four for me. He used his flatbed trailer which he keeps here at the farm. It is wonderful to have the hay but he has been sick all weekend and really should have taken it easier.
Amy played with the kids and I started a large batch of kim chee. Marcia and I spent some time in the garden. All I did was pick kale but Marcia removed the old bean poles and dug over the row. She also took a load of trash to the dump. The rest of the time she worked on her bags. They are beautifully constructed of dyed and waxed muslin and have decorative panels on the front.
November 30, 2009 Monday
Today was pretty quiet. We are still having what I call English weather, damp with periodic drizzle and the temperature right around 32˚. One can work in the garden if wearing tweeds. Marcia dug over another row and cut down the dead sunflowers. The birds have been eating them as we hoped.
Martin was feeling quite unwell during his recent visit. We were all worried about him. Mark persuaded him to see a doctor this morning. The doctor was pretty sure it was nothing serious but got a chest x-ray anyway. It showed that Martin had pneumonia. Now he is on Zithromax.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons plus a quart. Her manure is rather loose so I am discontinuing the beet pulp. Fern is growing fast. I must get out the weight tape.
Marcia made supper tonight. We agreed we wanted something super simple. She made a nice dish with frozen shrimp and leftover rice.
December 01, 2009 Tuesday
The weather today was much the same as yesterday, damp and near freezing, but the sun showed itself a few times. Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. I don’t believe she went outside at all. She is devoted to her round bale.
Martin went off on a business trip to St. Louis today. He said he thought the Zithromax was helping which I hope is true.
Marcia worked most of the day finishing up an order for 12 bags, then photographing them, boxing them up and driving them to the UPS pickup in Dixfield.
I made whole wheat hamburger buns and ginger cookie bars with whole wheat and chopped candied ginger.
We watched the President’s speech on the war in Afghanistan. We thought he navigated the territory well but did not catch any mention of US commitment to veterans.
December 03, 2009 Thursday
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons today, still OAD. It rained off and on all day but was surprisingly warm. The ground has not frozen yet and the temperature got up to nearly 50˚. There was mist among the trees. It was altogether like a day in late April.
DD Marcia went up to her place at Weld to check on the sump pump She found water in the cellar, also many branches down because of the recent high wind. She says it feels strange to go there now after the camp has been closed for the winter. In the past she has set out for Florida after closing camp and not seen it again until late spring.
Ever since two weeks ago when she assisted with Fern’s disbudding operation she has been unwilling to let Marcia near her. She catches Fern as she goes around a corner when it is time to be tied up during milking. Marcia then handles her feet as formerly and pats her down. Today for the first time I was able to step up to her and catch her. She has definitely gotten shy.
I made us a very nice dinner tonight with stir fry, teriyaki beef and brown rice. The stir fry was napa cabbage enhanced with various little green things I found in the garden. We have some late mesclun under row cover. The lettuce component has disappeared but tatsoi and endive remain. I make the beef teriyaki by semi defrosting a round steak. It is easy to cut into slivers while still half frozen. I then marinated it in a couple of tablespoons of heavy mushroom soy sauce plus a tablespoon of regular soy sauce. I cook it in toasted sesame oil over fast heat for only about 3 minutes. For the brown rice, I use the short grain variety. In a saucepan that has a good cover I sauté ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp coriander, ½ tsp turmeric and ½ tsp salt in a couple of tablespoons of some kind of fat, usually butter or olive oil. I then add 1 cup of rice and sauté that for a couple of minutes. I then pour on 3 cups of boiling salted chicken stock and boil up the rice in this for a about a minute before putting on a tight fitting cover. I then put this in the Aga baking oven for close to an hour but it can be done at a low simmer on the stove top. It is sometimes necessary to boil off extra stock before serving. This method results in brown rice that people will actually eat on its own. I keep chicken stock on hand all the time. I freeze it in 1 quart containers that people save for me or in 1 pint glass freezer jars.
December 04, 2009 Friday
Jasmine gave a scant 2 gallons this morning. She did not really want to let down. I easily milked out a cup for myself and one for Marcia after taking off the machine.
It was lovely again today although not as warm as yesterday. If we could have had this weather in early October it would have greatly improved the growing season.
Marcia hitched up her big horse trailer and we went to the Luick’s in New Sharon, stopping first in Farmington to do our errands. When we got to their place we found their neighbor there with his tractor spreading gravel on the track to the barn which was deep in mud. We waited with Mitra until all the gravel was spread on a plastic underlay. The plan was to back the horse trailer up near the pig pen so that Max can load their three pigs on Sunday. Marcia had to back up about 50 yards on the new gravel and then another 50 yards or so going through serious mud while making a turn and passing through two gates. She is mighty good at backing and managed to do this without buckling the trailer. The neighbor, a very large outdoorsman type with a Maine accent, said he couldn’t wait to go home and tell his buddies what he had witnessed, after which he was going out with his muzzle loader. It is black powder season now in Maine.
December 05, 2009 Saturday
Fern is taking a lot of milk now. I got barely 2 gallons this morning, not that I need any more. This morning Fern ran outside rather than trotting in with her mother. This did not seem to bother Jasmine at all, in fact she was quieter than usual. Finally after Marcia had given up trying to tempt or drive her in, she walked in by herself and stood at her tie-up. She is now 6 weeks old.
DD Marcia went up to her camp and ran the sump pump again for half an hour or so but did not get the basement entirely dry. While she was gone I made a couple of loaves of bread with a new slack dough recipe from King Arthur flour. The recipe makes at least 3 loaves and you don’t need to make them all at once. The dough improves over several days. I used partly home ground whole wheat flour. The bread bakes in a hot oven on a pizza stone which I don’t have. I used an unglazed stoneware baking dish and a terra cotta flowerpot dish with success. Marcia found some tiles at camp that I will try next time.
Marcia did a beautiful job of putting up Christmas lights over the garage door. I am now quite inspired to rouse out the decorations.
We defrosted one of the Luick chickens and Marcia cut it up and fried it nice and crispy for dinner. Those chickens are so meaty that we will have lunches of it now for days. I trimmed up some more of the tilled over potatoes and made another napa cabbage stir fry.
DS Max reported that he has his pigs all loaded for tomorrow. He made a fenced alley from their pen to the back of the trailer. While they were exploring the new option and he was nailing up a board to prevent retreat he realized that they were all aboard and so he lifted the ramp and shut them in. It all went quietly.
About 5pm it started to snow and has not stopped. So far there is very little accumulation. We hope that it does not interfere with our plan tomorrow to drive the pigs to the abattoir.
December 06, 2009 Sunday
We awoke this morning to beautiful new snow. The sky was blue and the sun was shining.
Marcia and I drove to Max and Mitra’s where Max had the three pigs all loaded into the trailer. She hitched up and succeeded in driving out despite mud to the axles. At one point Max had to shovel gravel under the rear wheels of the Tahoe. Max came along to navigate and unload the pigs at West Gardener Beef near Augusta. This abattoir is far superior to the one they used two years ago up in North Anson where there were rivers of blood on the ground and dead things lying about. There was no smell and everything was clean and the stalls raked and spread with sawdust. Mitra had been assured that the pigs would get water but there were clearly no arrangements whatsoever to water any animals and no one around to ask. Max had their big rubber tub along for the pigs’ use in the trailer last night (he loaded them yesterday) and had to leave it there. The pigs are a Tamworth-Duroc cross. They are a deep shiny red, definitely the handsomest pigs I have ever seen, so healthy and calm. It was very hard for both Mitra and Max to say goodbye to them but that is the way it is with livestock. I will report on the pork when I get some. It is terribly hard not to distrust others who have custody of the meat when there are so many reports of switcharoos. Other pigs were arriving as we left, none remotely to compare with the Luick pigs.
Back home, I separated Fern for the night. I got only one gallon this morning.
For supper I fixed what my Grammie used to call Glorified Leftovers.
I then spoke to my sister Barby in California. She was all alone at her second home in Inverness where she knows almost nobody and was terribly sick. She has an exhausting cough which has prevented sleeping for three nights and has not much in the house. I called her son.
December 08, 2009 Tuesday
It was down to about 20˚ this morning which felt noticeably colder. Jasmine had Fern with her last night and once again gave only 1 ½ gallons.
My vet stopped by, Dr. Cooper, and I got Amoxicillin tubes for Jasmine’s mastitis. Every time it seems to be gone it creeps back. I have treated it successfully before with comfrey but there is none available now. I gave Dr. Cooper some lunch, spaghetti from last night which actually was quite good, and custard. I milked this evening and gave Jasmine her first treatment. She was perfectly cooperative. I will have to discard the milk now until Friday evening.
Marcia continues to work hard on her bags. They are very beautiful. She has plenty of orders but each bag is a lot of work.
All of Maine is under a storm watch. We may get a foot of snow. Down at the coast they are told to prepare for 50mph winds. Marcia has filled a secondary water tub for Jasmine and several jugs for us in the house in case we lose power. We still have a little snow on the ground from the other day.
I have called Barby several times. She has remained at her place in Inverness and is a little better but still not ready to face the two hour drive back to Woodside.
December 09, 2009 Wednesday
I gave Jasmine her 2nd and 3rd application of Amoxicillin today and gave the milk to various animals. Fern is in with her but I am not worried that she will suck out the meds because she never bothers with that teat. It is short and not satisfying. I also found some comfrey oil to rub on that quarter. She acts perfectly healthy as always. Of course I have had to return to TAD milking. Jasmine seems very annoyed about this. Fern has taken to racing in to stand in the next stall rather that to her tie-up in the aisle. I have a tie-up there too. Marcia is a wonderful help in the barn. Her years with horses have made her perfectly at home with large animals and manure and she thinks of everything. She didn’t much like it when Jasmine splashed manure on her clean coat. I hope it did not stain. I tried to find her a dairy apron on the web but had no luck. It was mostly my ineptitude with navigating the sites. Couldn’t make it happen.
It snowed all day. I think we got about 6 inches, not much more. The wind came up fairly briskly but nothing to knock down trees. I guess it was worse down at the coast. So far at least this storm has not been scary around here.
I fixed us a satisfying winter dinner of braised melt-in-the mouth beef shins, mashed potatoes and home grown carrots.
December 10, 2009 Thursday
It is definitely winter now. I have not got the house entirely winterized yet and many drafts are revealing themselves. I take the milking machine to the barn now in a big sled I call an akio. It is the shape of a scow and made of grey plastic.
I gave Jasmine her final dose of amoxicillin last night. I have to discard the milk until tomorrow night but I strain it anyway. There were clots in it tonight but I tasted it and it was improved. However, Fern made a complete liar of me. All of a sudden she has started sucking the right hind teat so maybe she got the meds instead of Jasmine. I can tell she is sucking because there are little cuts on the teat that were not there before. Oh dear. Perhaps I will have to repeat the treatment. I get depressed when there is something wrong with my cow.
Now that there is snow on the ground the sheep are in with Jasmine all day.
I bought some goat’s milk from my neighbor, Germaine, to tide us over. I also bought a dozen duck eggs. They are lovely. I used them tonight to make cornbread according to Liz’s excellent recipe.
Liz’s Cornbread in cast iron skillet
Here is an absolutely delicious cornbread recipe:
Preheat oven to 425 with 9" skillet inside, add a dollop of lard to the skillet before preheating.
Mix the ingredients then carefully add to the hot skillet:
1 1/4 C corn meal 1/2 tsp salt 2/3 C flour 1 beaten egg 1/4 C sugar 1 C milk 1Tbs baking powder 1/4 C olive or peanut oil 3 Tbs mayo
Cook 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
I doubled this recipe for my 13" skillet and it worked out perfect--cornbread cake is practically what I ended up with!
(I too doubled the recipe. I used whole wheat pastry flour for the flour.)
I served it tonight with baked beans.
I found a nest today with 8 eggs. I knew the hens have been hiding them.
December 11, 2009 Friday
Jasmine’s udder felt fine this morning but there were still some clots. The milk tasted pretty good from the poor quarter but this evening was even better. Fern is with her all the time so as usually with evening milking I got only a gallon this morning and a half gallon tonight. The evening milking was the first one that we can start using. Supplies are getting low so I separated them tonight so as to have more in the morning.
The weather is distinctly colder. It did not get much above 20˚ today and there was a good deal of wind. It is dark by 4pm. Marcia has stockpiled water in case we lose power. She set up a second water tub for Jasmine.
We started a new round bale this afternoon. That means the previous one lasted 8 days.
My sister Barby called to say that she has driven to the doctor and had chest x-rays. She has bronchitis. She got an inhaler and a prescription. Her courage sounded a lot better.
I made an especially good dinner. We had beef brisket, a roast to which the Aga is especially well suited. I also made a pineapple upside down cake, not a dessert with any particular nutritional benefits but I had a hankering for it. Marcia picked up a fresh pineapple. It turned out very well, I must say.
DS John called from Adelaide. Grandson Tommy was with him for the weekend. There are plans for him to leave the rehab center in a few weeks and perhaps even be able to drive a modified car one of these days.
December 12, 2009 Saturday
No more pretending, winter is now here and we can’t escape it. Well, not unless we go to Florida. It was about 15˚ this morning with strong gusty winds all day. The snow is about 6” deep and not likely to melt. All the water dishes had solid ice.
I had Fern separated last night. Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons and the strainer was clear. I guess I will have to carry on with TAD milking, though. I can’t trust the situation. Jasmine hates the evening milking now that she has not been getting it for a few weeks. She raises her tail repeatedly and lets down poorly. I left them together tonight because there is now enough milk in the fridge for customers.
I have not been in the habit of closing Jasmine in at night. She likes the freedom to go in and out even in cold weather. But now I have started to do it. There was an account in yesterday’s paper of a horse that was killed by coyotes. The tracks and blood on the snow left unmistakable evidence. The owner said that the horse had impaired vision although what difference that would make at night I don’t know. It was only 13 years old. Fern would of course be easy prey. There are a lot of coyotes around here.
DS Martin and DIL Amy and the kids were here for supper. Martin brought four pheasants, enough for Max and Mitra and the girls in hopes that they would be able to join us but they could not. Max has to leave on Sunday for two weeks of work. He was busy sawing up more wood for Mitra and doing lots of other things around the place.
I could not find a recipe for pheasant that I trusted so made one up. First I sautéed them in butter with saffron. Then I set them aside while I sautéed about 3 cups of finely chopped celery, onion, carrots and mushrooms. I laid the pheasants on this bed of vegetables and poured on a quart of pheasant stock that I had made last time we had pheasant. I covered the pan and simmered them very gently for about an hour and a half. They were nice and moist and tender. Henry, 20 months, gnawed all the meat off of two legs. I also served rice cooked in pheasant stock, pureed winter squash that Amy brought, and red cabbage sautéed with red onions and apples with a bit of nutmeg and cider. To a quart of the squash I added a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter well blended in. Everybody liked this. For dessert we had some more of the pineapple upside down cake from yesterday.
December 13, 2009 Sunday
There are no more clots on the strainer and we are drinking the milk again. For a few days there I had to disappoint my customers. I will continue TAD milking until I am better assured of full recovery. I am rubbing the quarter alternately with comfrey oil and oil of Balm of Gilead that I made last spring. It is highly aromatic and supposed to be good for something. I only made about ¾ cup. I never have enough time for picking the sticky leaf buds in spring when they swell. I just picked them into a cute jar and covered them with olive oil. Now six months later I have this nice oil to rub onto … whatever. The tree is related to willow and cottonwood. I rather imagine the oil contains salicylic acid.
Marcia and I both worked on putting plastic up on the windows. There are still about 6 windows to do. It is a great deal of work every fall but important.
DS Martin and DIL Amy winterized their camp today. By late afternoon when the left it was not only dark but had started to snow. They had to drive home at about 40 mph and it took them 2 hours to get to Biddeford. Henry was screaming in his car seat for the last half hour. Martin had to walk him around for a half hour and let him tell all about it. He talks a bit now, though nothing like some of the girls in this family including his sister Hannah. Last night Martin was preparing a little plate of food while he watched eagerly from his highchair. Hannah was seated next to him. When Martin swept the dish past him and handed it to his sister he shrieked “Mine!” Poor little guy. I couldn’t help laughing at the look of disappointment and indignation on his face. Of course Martin quickly tore off a pheasant leg for him. By the end of dinner he had pretty well gnawed two legs to the bone.
The snow has stopped now. It was down to 5˚ this morning but is up to 20˚ now. Martin and Amy witnessed a seldom seen phenomenon today. At their camp on the lake they saw the lake icing over.
December 14, 2009 Monday
Jasmine gave 1 gallon this morning and ¾ gallons this evening. That is better than yesterday but with Fern at her side 24 hours a day it does not leave quite enough for the rest of us. I separated them tonight.
I separated Fern in a new way. She is in with the ducks. We watched for a while through the viewing window and all seemed to be going well in there. I needed to do this because we wanted a safe place for the sheep at night. We gave them the big horse stall that fern has been using at times. There is a real danger from coyotes. Marcia modified the stall we have been using for Fern by blocking the “window” with pallets. It has a long wide opening in front of the manger that ambitious sheep might jump through. It took us some time to tempt them to come in, mostly because they did not want to leave off eating Jasmine’s hay. But once in they were perfectly contented. I imagine that in a day or two they will trot right in.
Marcia joined ten ladies at Weld for her weekly yoga this morning. Afterwards they gathered for lunch at the lovely home of one member. She has done over an old farm house in Weld to a high standard.
December 15, 2009 Tuesday
With Fern separated last night, Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. Fern was with her all day. She gave less than ½ gallon tonight. She resisted letting down and was so annoying with her tail that I stood up and tied it. She suspected Fern was going back in with the ducks tonight and she was right. I will separate them at night at least until we are again way ahead on milk.
I had a dental appointment for impressions. Marcia drove me. It took a lot longer than I thought it would and was a whole lot more expensive. Afterwards we drove up and had a nice visit with Mitra. Shireen was home from school. Last night her school chorus sang three numbers including the Halleluiah Chorus. Mitra said they sounded wonderfully professional. I wish I had been there. Then the school orchestra, in which Shireen plays viola, performed four lively pieces. She rarely misses school but was exhausted in the morning and her mom told her to go back to sleep: she slept 5 hours.
Marcia and I cut short our errands. It was getting dark and fog was rising. We did not get home to our impatient animals until 5pm. The sheep are fast learners. They came right around to the back exit to the barn where there is a steep ramp. Instead of coming up the ramp properly they went to where it meets the barn and leapt up effortlessly more than 3 ft. in a single bound. Those are very boingy sheep. They are really cute too and perfectly friendly but I still would not tempt one of the rams by bending over. They are well over 100 lbs each, in fact look to be 150. It is hard to judge through all that wool.
Fern also went in nicely with the ducks.
Sally in Haines AK sent a picture of her gingerbread house in the shape of a lighthouse. They were all to be auctioned in aid of the local museum.
December 16, 2009 Wednesday
This morning Jasmine gave not quite 2 ½ gallons. It was colder, 5F, and very windy. It takes a lot of hay to keep everybody happy. This evening the sheep knew exactly where to go. When Marcia opened the gate to their paddock they raced past her into the barn. This time they used the ramp properly instead of leaping.
Evening milking was a waste of time. Fern had gotten every bit of the milk.
Part of my day was spent on the phone with my credit card company. Someone has been putting fraudulent charges on my account, somebody who orders computer games. Now I have to wait for a new card before I can get spendy myself. Sorry, Santa, can’t help you much.
December 17, 2009 Thursday
Marcia and I went back to Farmington on Xmas errands. Marcia shopped purposefully and got nearly everything she needs for her gift boxes. I felt my mind going numb with confusion and spent a lot of time happily in the bookstore where I bought Marcia a book I liked the looks of: Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. When I do this sort of thing, I feel like Tommy Sandeys in Sentimental Tommy who bought his sister dominoes for her birthday. “But Tommy, I never play dominoes.” “I know, but I do.”
It was bitterly cold. I doubt it got above 5˚ and there was a lot of wind. Jasmine gave about 2 ½ gallons this morning. After last night’s experience I did not bother to milk this evening although she may have had a half gallon. I hope I did not err. Now that Fern hits all four quarters in the course of the day I don’t worry as much. Morning will tell.
The sheep came bounding in as fast as before. I stuck my forefinger down into Ramsey’s fleece and guess it to be 4” deep. That is nothing to brag about as I understand it, and I guess Suffolk wool is mostly used for rugs, but it sure looks nice and wooly. Those big round sheep with long thin black legs and black heads and ears are a highly entertaining sight.
December 18, 2009 Friday
Zero again today. It isn’t fun at all but at least I have better boots this year and suitable clothing all except my gloves. These must be replaced. Jasmine was clean this morning but messed up badly while in her stanchion. She gave two gallons of perfect milk. Fern works on her pretty hard during the day. The arrangement with the sheep continues to work nicely. I Googled Suffolk sheep last night which for some reason I never did before. One record ram dressed out at 300 lbs. I guess I would not be astonished if these two made 150 each. They are a large breed. Daughter Sally observed today in a phone conversation that this might actually be more efficient meat than a beef steer. You certainly get it faster. Neither gets much grain. They mostly graze and eat hay but the rams do not have to be taken through the winter as my steers invariably do. I will continue to ponder this as time passes. Because Jasmine had a heifer this year there will be no more beef for me for a long time.
Marcia and I went shopping in Rumford. We stopped at The Whatnot Shop, a thrift store, and Marcia scored high. Besides cute baby outfits for her granddaughter Lily, known as Lily Pad and reputed to be the smartest and cutest baby in the world (daily bulletins attest) she got a pile of gorgeous Polar Fleece jackets and vests and a beautiful porcelain doll, for Lily Pad of course. This appears to be one of those dainty creations offered in full page magazine ads available after four easy payments. I could not resist a plush monkey which has to be the ugliest toy ever contrived. It appears to be a capuchin monkey, is about 18” long, black and floppy, and is dressed in an elaborate fuschia organdy tutu. I guess I need a picture. I can only imagine that it showed up at the thrift when some mom said “Either that thing goes or I do.”
I ground flour today and made two lovely loaves and then left them in the oven for 2 ½ hours. Sob. They now resemble adobe bricks. Maybe if they soak two days in skim milk the chickens will fancy them.
December 19, 2009 Saturday
Another cold day but I think we are getting used to it. It was below zero but the sun was shining and there was very little wind. This makes such a difference. Something was wrong with my milking machine assembly and I had to keep Jasmine waiting more than 10 minutes while I figured it out. Marcia helped me. Actually neither of us (my poor vision was a factor) actually figured out what was wrong but after some disassembly and putting things back together it went to work. Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
We spent all morning getting things ready for the mail and Marcia took everything to the post office in Weld. She also went down and visited her camp and reported that everything was lovely there. Although it had not been plowed, she was able to drive in with 4WD. She also drove into Martin and Amy’s driveway a few times to mash down the snow.
I talked with DIL Mitra. She is having a siege with a frozen water supply hose to the barn and is having to fill buckets in the kitchen sink, 45 gallons-worth. I have had many a similar adventure in the past and feel for her deeply especially with Max out of town. She remains cheerful.
During the afternoon while the sun was still bright Marcia and I went across the river to the land belonging to my daughter Sally in AK and cut a Xmas tree. The snow was sufficiently deep that we didn’t want to walk a great distance. There are a lot of small trees but they grow close together so lack something in the way of form. The little spruce we chose might get the Charlie Brown award. We will definitely want to stand it in a corner as it has only one good side. We saw where a beaver had cut down two of Sally’s trees about 5 and 6 inches in diameter. Most likely they were beech trees. I have a soft spot for beavers.
This evening Marcia went to a neighborhood party in Weld at the home of Sean Minear. She looked very spiffy. I had been planning to go but then changed my mind. I still don’t have my front teeth and the crowd is said to usually be standing room only.
Last night I chatted on the phone with son John in Adelaide. His son Tommy is still in the rehab center and is now one of the longest term residents. He will probably leave in January. His progress toward regaining function below the waist is very slow but continues to be steady. There were some encouraging gains this week. John brings him home on weekends.
December 20, 2009 Sunday
It is still cold. Jasmine gave over 2 ½ gallons this morning. The milk from all four quarters tastes fine. The strainer is completely clear. I am currently feeding her hay ad lib and about 3 lbs of grain twice a day. The grain is COB (corn oats barley). Right now on top of the grain I put 4 carrots, about ¾ cup of ACV (apple cider vinegar) and about ½ cup of an infusion of vitamin E in vegetable oil. If her manure is showing no unusual soupiness I add a small scoop of dried sugar beet. She is holding her condition very well.
I had no trouble with the pulsator today.
Marcia finished up the last bag for her Xmas orders. It does not have to be mailed. I measured out the fruit for the Victoria Fruitcake that I like to make. It is an easy recipe that calls for 3 cups of applesauce and you don’t need to line the pans or store the cake before eating although it will keep a long time. The fruit is now soaking with a little brandy. I ate one of the soaked dates and discovered to my chagrin that they were not pitted. Not sure how I made this mistake. Anyway, I washed my hands and pawed through all the dried fruit to pick out the dates, then pitted them and put them back.
Marcia had a great report of last night’s party in Weld. There were about 50 people. She almost did not get there. About halfway to Weld she passed a small dog wandering beside the road obviously lost. She drove a little way further, then turned around and went back for it. It was a clipped Cocker Spaniel with no tags, shivering and obviously lost. She put it in her car and it huddled in her lap. She went to four different houses trying to locate an owner but either no one was home or else they would not come to the door. She finally drove back to Tim and Dalene Pulk’s house to see if they had any suggestions. Dalene was hosting a warm and cheerful gathering of her sisters and neighbors. Someone knew who the dog belonged to. It is a woman in the area and the dog is deaf. They offered to return it to its owner so Marcia left it there. Had this not worked out, Marcia would have brought the dog home and skipped the party.
Marcia gave my dog Willie and her white Chihuahua, Chiquita, each a bath today. Both are much freshened up, especially Willie who gets very fluffy.
December 22, 2009 Tuesday
Yesterday Marcia and I dashed back to the thrift store for more purchases. Marcia bought another doll and an armload of clothes for herself and granddaughter, Lily; for Lily she scored an astonishing purple velvet swim suit. I look forward to seeing a photo of this on Lily. I bought a good quality glass cake stand for somebody.
I got my fruitcakes baked yesterday too. They seem promising. Today I doused two with brandy and sent one each to my oldest sons.
Much of the east including WA DC got a record snow fall yesterday but it missed us. Now the storm is circling back and snow has begun to fall here. The animals are snug. Jasmine gave close to 3 gallons yesterday and today.
Son Max expressed an interest in liverwurst. I assembled recipes from the web and my files but decided against going the full distance with it. I ended up making it in loaf pans using 2 lbs of pork liver and 1 lb each of pork sausage and plain pork. This was all pork from Max and Mitra’s recent slaughter. I added two duck eggs and a bunch of spices. To me it seems pretty good.
The major snow storm which closed things down yesterday over much of the northeast did not reach us. But now it is circling back and it has started snowing here. The temp has hung around zero here for a week but warmed up to 20˚ for a while today before it started to snow.
December 23, 2009 Wednesday
We did not get much new snow. It seems that we are to be spared serious storm conditions this time. It was about 5˚ this morning with no wind. This does not seem so bad. The sun shone for much of the day. Several times lately I have had trouble getting the milking machine to function properly. It is not due to cold. I keep it in the house, take it out wrapped in a big bath towel and Marcia has been going out ahead of me and switching on the heating pad that I have on the vacuum pump. The problem has to do with proper seating of the pulsator on the lid and having the hoses pushed on just right. Marcia hears and sees better than I so is a great help in resolving these issue although neither of us is so far clear about what we did right to get the pulsator going. Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons today and the milk from all four quarters tastes perfect.
We finished up another round bale today. This one lasted 12 days. The sheep have not had access to it for the last week so it went farther than the last one which lasted only8 days. They are getting only square bales. Marcia also buts out hay from square bales every day for Jasmine and she eats a little of it. She eats every thread of the round bale hay. She will even walk away from her grain to get it.
We still have not put up our tree. Every moment is taken up with other essentials. Marcia has four more bags to complete.
They are playing the Messiah now on NPR. It is being sung by the Pittsburg Symphony Chorus, I think. Every note is familiar. I have sung it several times. When we lived in England we hosted a performance with local musicians and singers in our home. My mother played the piano accompaniment. It was a marvel how the little town of East Grinstead was able to provide so many superb musicians who all jumped in there and played as though they had been together for years. Many of the string players were young teenagers.
For supper tonight I fried a couple of pork chops from the Luick’s new pork. It is of course exceptionally good.
December 24, 2009 Thursday, Christmas Eve Our fine weather continues. It was sunny all day. I feel very fortunate and almost guilty considering what other parts of the country are suffering. However the winter is not over. Jasmine once again gave 2 ¾ gallons. She is eating some of her square baled hay, Marcia thinks. At least she is rooting through it. Marcia is now doing all of the feeding.
After breakfast Marcia took a walk with the dogs all the way around the fields. She had to wear dark glasses the sun was so bright on the snow. The dogs were thrilled to be out walking.
We made a last dash to town. Marcia needed to buy some more unbleached muslin for her bag project. We went to Wal-Mart. There were quite a lot of shoppers. Most were cheerful and smiling but Oh, my goodness, how shockingly unhealthy most of them looked.
This morning I made whole wheat bread and this evening I made saffron bread for Christmas morning. It is from a recipe published long ago in Sunset Magazine. You make little spirals of dough, arrange them flat in a pan in the shape of a Xmas tree and put a candied cherry in the center of each little spiral. You pull the spirals apart like any roll when helping yourself.
We do not expect to see any of the family until the 26th but I have talked to most of them on the phone. Actually, the weather prediction for the 26th is scary so we will just have to see what works out.
December 25, 2009 Friday, Christmas Day
We did not see the sun today. It was overcast but quite warm, over 25˚. Jasmine was very orderly this morning. She gave 2 ¾ gallons again. Despite the effect on the cream supply, I am taking the machine off a little earlier so that there is a bit of milk left for Fern. This keeps her from butting and sometimes scoring up Jasmine’s teats.
Marcia and I had lots of Christmas calls but did not see anyone else. I got most of the food ready for tomorrow, also made a pound of butter. It is not the color of June butter. In fact it is not much brighter than store butter. I had hoped to see more of a carotene effect from all the carrots I have been feeding Jasmine.
Marcia and I were both extremely busy all day although Marcia worked a lot harder than I did. She wrapped all the packages that I had not gotten done and puts the lights (at last) on our little tree. We started the day with saffron bread that I made yesterday. For supper I served something incredibly easy and delicious. Last summer when Marcia served lobsters I collected up and saved all the leftover melted butter; it also contained lobster juice. I froze it to use for poaching scallops. The scallops had been in the freezer quite a few months so I soaked them for several hours in milk. If there was ever anything wrong with them it was not discernible following the soak. All I did was simmer the scallops in lobster butter for about 6 minutes.
Max and Martin are planning to help out for a while tomorrow with wood splitting. We are getting very low on firewood.
December 26, 2009 Saturday
It was about 20˚ all day and overcast. I was late getting to the barn because of needing to get my turkey into the oven first thing. Jasmine strongly disapproves of tardiness and pooped and peed while in her stanchion. Other than that she stood just fine. I feel almost superstitious about saying that she never moves a foot for fear of breaking the spell. But honestly, after the first couple of days of coming to the farm when she waved her foot a bit, she has never kicked. Once in a while if there is a scratch on a teat or something she twitches. And she can be deadly with her tail if she wants to be. She is just so sweet. She gave something over 2 ½ gallons today. I am continuing to remove the unit before I have quite all of the milk so as to leave some for Fern to get started on. Fern is also well behaved thanks to Marcia’s daily handling. She and the ducks share a stall at night without argument.
Sons Martin and Max got here before noon and spent several hours splitting and stacking wood for us. That was about the best Christmas present I could conceive of. We were just about down to bark and twigs.
Squash storage on the front stairs
DD Marcia and I spent all morning on dinner prep. Marcia has brought some of her nice seasonal table decorations from camp and did a beautiful setting. The menu included turkey and ham both home raised (ham from DS Max and DIL Mitra), stuffing, mashed hubbard squash (home grown), green bean and mushroom casserole by Marcia (all from scratch), gravy, green salad by DIL Amy, perfect as always, and two desserts. Amy’s was a cobbler of mixed fruit with little spiral biscuits and Marcia made Cherry Puff. This is made with sour cherries covered with cake batter and served accompanied by cherry sauce and hard sauce. Everybody had some of each. There were 10 of us at table not counting Henry (20 months) in his high chair. My view of Henry was blocked but I never heard a sound out of him during dinner. He feeds himself efficiently and with total focus. He especially likes meat but also eats vegetables. Hannah was a bit tired and did not eat so much. Roshan (11) left the table for a little while to go lie down with Hannah so she could nap. She quickly fell asleep and Roshan returned.
Later we opened our gifts. I heard many pleased remarks from the various recipients. I now have a new barn hat and gloves. Henry sat right down in the plastic baby sled the girls gave him, holding the blue plush teddy bear from Marcia and me. It came straight from the thrift store but appeared to be brand new. DD Abby sent me the book Slow Money: Investing as if food, farms and fertility mattered by Woody Tasch. I have seen favorable comment on this book. It is only 204 pages so I should be able to provide a review pretty soon.
DS Mark, the doctor, left right after dinner as foul weather threatened. He needs to be there to help Doctor Annie prepare a presentation due Monday.
Henry did not want to leave. He wanted to sit on the folding table when Marcia and his dad turned it over to collapse it. He was just starting to have fun pretending it was a car and made a spirited resistance when his mom began putting on his sweater. Flopped on the floor he lay making rather a loud noise.
Hannah loves tidying up. While Henry was protesting she occupied herself carefully picking up all the shiny stars and holly leaves that Marcia had sprinkled around to decorate the table, most of which were now on the floor. She put them into an envelope and took them home.
December 28, 2009 Monday
The weather was not as bad as predicted. It has been in the 20’s for three days now and there is ice and slush everywhere except where Martin plowed. He and Amy stayed over until today. Amy, Henry and I attended a two hour tea party hosted by Hannah here this morning with the tea set I gave her for Xmas. I helped her make herbal tea and we all drank from tiny cups and ate slices of Clementines, banana and cheese. Henry is notably fond of eating and ate two whole Clementines. Martin went out in some neighborhood fields with his gun to see if any partridge could be induced to rise. He has no dog and none did. The partridge have an arrangement with the chickadees. They chirp a warning note when anyone walks by.
Amy and Henry left in early afternoon. Martin and Hannah went back in Martin’s truck somewhat later, just as heavy snow began to fall.
Jasmine was quiet and cooperative this morning and gave 2 ¾ gallons. We are still not getting eggs. Marcia found one today, the first in three or four days. I am not sure how many hens I have. Half of them live in the rafters and many are identical. There are at least ten, though. There is ad lib feed and frost free water and many dishes of clabber. I don’t think they have much excuse for not laying.
December 30, 2009 Wednesday
Last night just when I started to write, the power went out. It was not just us, the entire neighborhood was dark. It had been cold all day and a powerful wind was blowing. About 8:30 things went black. At almost the same time some activity took place on the road in front of the farm. Everything was so dark that all we could make out was cars slowing, then backing up and lots of people going and coming with flashlights. It was so cold, below zero, and the wind was so violent that we did not go out to ask what was going on. I figured that if it really involved us somebody would come to the door.
The power came back on somewhere between 3 and 5 am. It was still cold but the wind had let up and this morning the sun was shining. Marcia went out to the mailbox and reported that one of my trees had blown down. It was a very tall dead spruce. Some had had to be cleared off the road and that was the source of the excitement. It took out a section of my pasture fence. That repair will be a job for next spring.
We have an insulated housing built over the hose bib in the barn. It is a sort of cabinet or small closet. The hose can be rolled up inside of it and a light bulb is on in there to provide heat to keep the hose bib and hose from freezing. When the power goes out everything freezes, which was the case this morning. It took most of the day to thaw enough to refill Jasmine’s water but she did not completely run out. We top it up at night and all day just in case there should be a problem.
This morning Jasmine gave 3 gallons. I was about a half hour late to the barn which may account for some of the increase. But also I think she responds to having the round bale out there for constant eating. Martin installed it out there last Saturday.
December 31, 2009 Thursday, New Year’s Eve
Tonight is the full moon although we can’t see it. It is snowing.
The barn water was frozen up again. Fortunately there was plenty in Jasmine’s tub to last until after lunch. Marcia had a luncheon engagement in Weld but when she got back she took 10 gallons out in jerry cans on the sled. The hot box had been closed up all day with a strong bulb going but the system did not thaw. We decided that using the hair drier on it was worth a try. The pipe was mighty cold where it enters the floor. The heat tape is not working. Marcia left the hair drier propped in position while she went about the chores and she was later able to joyfully report that the water is running. What a huge relief. For so many winters there have been long stretches where I or some other hearty volunteer has had to haul water to the barn in 5 gallon containers. The very prospect is wearisome.
While doing chores Marcia noticed something odd with the nests in the loft. Two wooden eggs were gone from one nest and placed about 5 ft away. There they were joined by a real egg, recently laid. I think a raccoon is visiting. Marcia realized she had seen some red spots on a rafter, chicken blood no doubt. I wish I had a Havaheart trap.
With this accomplished, we raced to Dixfield and Marcia bought lobsters for our dinner. She had already picked up a bottle of champagne. We had a lovely dinner including also baked potato and slaw. The lobsters were top quality.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. I left some behind for Fern. The cut on her teat is pretty well healed up.
January 01, 2010 Friday, New Year’s Day
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning and was well behaved. However Marcia, who cleans the beefer pen, her home, said manure was everywhere and looked runny. She does not appear to have anything wrong with her.
It was snowing lightly when we got up and kept it up most of the day. Right after breakfast, before the snow got any deeper, we took a drive to camp so Marcia could pick up a few more items. Each time she thinks it will be her last chance due to weather. But Martin’s plowing job of last Sunday continued to permit access. I would not have thought the ice thick enough, but on the lake I counted eight pickup trucks all engaged in setting up ice fishing camps. I guess the fishermen are in a hurry to stake their clams to good spots. These encampments were spotted along the lake as far as I could see and one right out front appeared to belong to her auto mechanic. They were so busy that they never noticed us watching them. They drag wooden huts to their site and set up housekeeping with barbecues and chairs. They drill holes here and there and set up tip-ups, little poles with a cross piece that serves notice when they get a bite I guess. Martin tells me they catch lots of fish.
I am pleased to report that the barn water was running today. Marcia spent a lot more time on protecting the warming cabinet from cold but it is evident that the heat tape has quit.
Good news from Australia: Son John reports that Tommy was able to stand unaided for a full minute yesterday! It is now nine months since his accident.
©opyright 2009 Joann S. Rogers
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