Heifer Diary 2009
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January 03, 2009 Saturday
Rafe was as good as his word. He and his friend Shane were up early making preparations for slaughtering Oakley.
I milked Jasmine as usual. I did not have any better luck this morning than I did yesterday with weight taping him. I have not had a collar on him for a long time and although he is used to schmoozing around with his head, getting his ears scratched and back rubbed, he seemed to find the tape too distracting to be able to eat grain while I measured him. Darn it. I wanted to try AnnB’s method. Jasmine gave over 3 gallons of perfect milk. I left her in her stanchion so that she would be totally away from the beefer pen where we had things set up to shoot Oakley. I set down his pan of grain near the big door, spoke to Rafe and Shane to tell them that Oakley was there with his head down, Shane opened the door and Rafe dropped him from about 6’ away using my 20 gauge. I felt very sad.
My knifes are s**t. They don’t take an edge well and neither did my knife sharpening equipment meet with approval. However Rafe and Shane got along expeditiously and had the four quarters hanging in the Coburn Farm walk-in cooler (my cellar) by lunch time. Two of the young ladies who are visiting, Margaret and Ann, gamely chipped away the ice and snow so that the men could carry the quarters through the bulkhead
They mislaid one of the kidneys but I have the other soaking for steak and kidney pie, which Rafe has requested.
I had them save the pancreas. There is a recipe for using it in my new Fergus Henderson cookbook, Nose to Tail Cooking. I am not at all sure that I will have the courage to use it. I also had them save the blood but I have a lot of black pudding already in the freezer so will find another use for it this time.
The weather this morning was not too bad but this afternoon a painfully cold wind came up and continues to assail us.
January 04, 2009 Sunday
Zero to 10 above today but sunny and not bad until the wind came up.
After milking I put Jeremiah in with Jasmine. They were both pleased to be together and did lots of kissing and schmoozing. Jeremiah repeatedly jumped Jas but she is not in heat. I think Jer just has a limited range of emotional expressions.
The guests all took a woods walk this morning with the dogs up around the base of Tumbledown. When they came home they ate sandwiches of cold brisket and chicken. Shane and the two young ladies Ann and Margaret, left for Portland. They were lovely guests. Grandson Rafe and SallyB don’t have to leave until Tuesday.
I made a steak and kidney pie for our dinner using the method in my new cookbook Fat by Jennifer McLagan. I did the suet crust. It turned out satisfactorily. I was pleased.
January 05, 2009 Monday
This morning Jasmine was standing in the beefer pen with Jeremiah hidden behind her in a corner as though he were a small calf. It was so cute. I know she was hoping they would not be separated. When I let her in for milking he followed right along. I had the doors adjusted so that she went in to her stanchion and he saw a pan of grain in his old stall and hopped right in there. I was hugely gratified to discover that he had not sucked. She gave a full 3 gallons. He did holler while I milked but readily came out when I opened his door and followed her back out to the beefer pen. My chores were altogether easier today. I do hope he does not remember about nursing.
The carpenters made amazing progress today. They put up the ridgepole (ridgeboard) and set most of the rafters. Weather permitting, the rest will be done tomorrow. Another man has joined the crew.
Rafe’s girlfriend, SallyB, gave Willie a bath today, making him a lovely fluffy white fur ball. He had gotten quite disgusting, what with rolling in blood on the snow. Rafe used the tractor to cover the bloody snow with clean snow and tamped it down with the bucket but the carpenters reported seeing Bagel digging it up.
This is Rafe and Sally’s last evening. This afternoon they went over to visit Mitra (Max is out of town) and saw all the new things on their little farm. I fixed pork chops smothered in onions for our dinner, using a recipe that I found in a cookbook that just came in the mail, Slow and Easy Recipes from America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Magazine. The chops bake in the oven with onions, bacon and apple. It was a great success.
January 06, 2009 Tuesday, Twelfth Night
Not much to my surprise, Jeremiah had taken half the milk during the night so I got 1 ½ gallons this morning. That actually is plenty for me and I would not mind sharing were it not for the loss of the cream. I put him back in his stall tonight but will probably let him back in with Jasmine tomorrow for the day while I ponder my options. DD Sally is to arrive on Thursday. She will have an opinion.
Grandson Rafe and GF SallyB left this morning. It was nice having them. They are cheerful and interested in everything. She kept the dishes washed and Rafe kept the wood rack filled, and they did much more too.
The weather today was mild. The rafters are all in place now on the carriage house. A new storm is predicted so they may not be able to work on the roof right away.
January 07, 2009 Wednesday
The gallon of milk that Jasmine gave yesterday had its full complement of cream. She had not held up at all. Good girl. She gave over 3 gallons today. So I put himself back in with her and have left him there for the overnight.
It snowed all day long, light but steady. I don’t think the accumulation was as much as 4” but it prevented the men from being able to work safely on the roof. They put in the two upstairs posts that are continuations of the lower level posts. This creates continuous support ground-to-ridgepole for the roof. The horizontal connecting rafters are also in. I am not sure of their proper name but they are further reinforcement of the roof. Also today, they framed in the two windows I requested for the ends of the gable. I have ordered proper double glazed sashes in case I should sometime wish to convert the space to living quarters. We hope the weather tomorrow is settled so the Avantek can go onto the roof.
DD Sally has arrived safely in Maine. Despite rain and ice in Portland, her flight was on time. DS Martin picked her up and took her to their house in Biddeford for the night where she is no doubt being entertained by wee Hannah singing “The fox is on the town-O”, her favorite song.
January 08, 2009 Thursday
Dear Jasmine did as I suggested lass night and did not nurse Jeremiah, the great lummox. I left him in with her, which they do so prefer, and explained that if he did not suck they could live together. I reminded her of this again this evening.
She gave 3 full gallons this morning.
DS Martin brought DD Sally here today arriving about 2pm. She looks very well. I had bread and soup ready. Such a shame that she did not get to see Rafe and SallyB. Martin drove his truck with the plow and did not bring his family. He has now plowed out my driveway and parking area.
Sally and I ran around looking at things and admiring the construction. The snow stopped for most of the day and the men got all the roofing plywood onto one side of the roof.
I made meatloaf, brown rice and cole slaw for supper, also a custard, Sally’s favorite dessert.
Martin is spending the night at camp.
January 09, 2009 Friday
Sally got right into the swing of things this morning by dressing off one of my annoying roosters. It was all a bit of a debacle. Firstly, I missed my catch of the rooster which occasioned a lot of flapping and dust. Then she missed her first blow with the axe and nearly lost the bird again. But now he is in the refrigerator aging. He was actually quite plump.
Jasmine gave over 3 gallons again this morning but it strained a bit slow. I bought a new lot of vitamins for her today.
Martin went out for a couple of hours on his skis this morning. He stopped in here on his way home and ate a meatloaf sandwich. He and Max will combine forces sometime soon to help cut up the meat.
The carpenters worked all day. It was about 10˚ but sunny and not much wind. I am thrilled with the progress.
January 10, 2009 Saturday
Jasmine’s milk strained slowly yesterday and there were a few flecks although she gave 3 gallons. I gave her vitamin C and E last night on her feed. This morning the milk strained perfectly and she again gave 3 gallons.
Last night Jeremiah had his collar hooked over his horn. He would not hold still for me to get it back over his horn. Today I arranged a tie-up and got his collar unbuckled while he ate his grain. Now he has no collar on. In the morning I hope to get one back on him. The old collar was so hard and stiff that my strength nearly failed me getting it unbuckled. I found another collar that is now warming in the house. I will grease it.
Max stopped in for a late dinner and to see Sally on his way home from his noise monitoring job in Vermont. We had liver and onions and baked squash. Sally made an apple and black currant crisp. Max was really hungry, having been driving for three hours. After saying goodnight and leaving, he returned to tell us of a beautiful phenomenon in the sky. There was a great white ring around the full moon.
I ordered a couple of knives from Lee Valley and gave one to Max and Mitra so that we will be better equipped next time we butcher. They are Frost knives made in Sweden and have carbon steel blades which rust but take a better edge. Grandson Rafe directed me to these knives.
DS Bret in Fairbanks has been enduring the serious cold spell, about -50F. Down in Tok where my granddaughter Rebecca and her family live it is -75F. Very scary. My grandson Harper and his family are also in Fairbanks.
My latest plan for Jasmine and Jeremiah is to let him breed her on her next heat, which I feel sure he can accomplish. I would so like to get a heifer. I have been putting ACV in their drinking water.
January 11, 2009 Sunday
Jeremiah sucked last night. I estimate that it may have been around midnight, judging from the fact that Jasmine had thoroughly dried on muck on her udder and gave 1.5 gallons, exactly like last time he sucked.
When I brought Jeremiah in this morning for his spot of grain I tried to get a collar back on him. It was a different collar. Possibly because it smelled different or possibly because the former collar gave him a bad experience, he did not cooperate. I gave up and left it coiled in his pan. Tomorrow if he wants his grain he will have to eat it with that collar in the pan. Maybe that will get him friendlier with it. Or maybe not. Watch this space.
I caught another rooster and Sally dressed it off. This time all went smoothly and she even had a nice new knife to work with. I will not catch a rooster tomorrow. Weather permitting, we are going to meet Mitra for lunch in Farmington.
It snowed most of the morning, temperature about 2˚, and then the sun came out for much of the day. Sally went out on snowshoes with the dogs.
I fixed us little tenderloin steaks for dinner, homegrown grassfed Jersey beef of course. I don’t know how it could have been any better.
January 12, 2009 Monday
All sorts of action today.
Jasmine got us off to a good start with 2 ¾ gallons of milk. Jeremiah had not nursed. But there were flecks on the filter, so she has a touch of mastitis, no doubt accounting for her being down a quart. It was cold this morning, a couple of degrees below zero, but sunny and windless.
Hammond Lumber came with the boom truck and delivered the shingles. The boom delivered them to various places around the upper level and onto the roof thus saving the men some carrying. The blocks of shingles are very heavy, like stone.
Sally and I went to Farmington and met Mitra for lunch. We planned out what to serve dear Liz and her family for lunch on Saturday. I’m afraid that the Yukon Territory is sending us a mass of arctic air and each day this week will be colder so I hope we can keep them warm. Liz and her daughter are from Texas. I figure to make pulled pork. Sally wants to make pumpkin pies with whipped cream.
When we got home the men were about through for the day. They had 4’ of roof done.
I plotted out a way to get a collar back onto Jeremiah. Instead of directing him into his stall this evening for his supper I had him follow mum into the slot next to her stanchion that used to be his tie-up as a calf. The last time I brought him in there he mashed himself into the wrong slot and broke the pressure gauge and hose connection off of the vacuum pump and I have not invited him back. However, when Martin fixed it he put a barrier board across the front so that won’t happen again. After some fumbling around he went into his correct spot and found his grain. He showed no alarm when I squeezed myself in between him and Jasmine and nearly standing on my head, got a rope around his big fat neck. It was his old familiar rope and he barely noticed. He knew to give to that rope so when he backed up he just said “Oh” and went forward again to his grain, which by now was running out, so Sally dribbled some more through a crack for him. I then began working on getting the collar on. Sally had greased it but it was cold and stiff and I could not see what I was doing but Sally shone the flashlight through the crack, which helped, and I got it on. It may be too loose. After I let them both loose, which was uneventful, and they were back in the beefer pen, he stood to have his ears scratched. So he was a pretty good boy.
He's not very tall according to the tape measure. The top of his head, when he stretches and stands on tip-toe, as in the second picture, is less than 4ft.
Sally’s DD Rebecca, my granddaughter who lives in Tok AK, wrote that when she went for a walk today on the frozen lake a black wolf walked across about 500 yards in front of her. Her large husky, Bjarke, was frightened. We think that it is so amazing that dogs always know when they are seeing a wolf rather than a dog and are terrified, even though to us the wolf looks essentially indistinguishable from a dog.
I made curried pumpkin soup for our supper.
January 13, 2009 Tuesday
Sally was speedy off the mark this morning in implementing her plan to get going on the meat cutting. She had the central island in the kitchen cleaned off (no small undertaking) before I appeared in my bathrobe and when the workmen appeared at 8 am she pounced on them to carry up one of the hanging quarters from the cellar.
After morning chores she set right to work cutting what she could without the band saw. She has been studying the book, Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game (Mettler), and learned a lot. Previous animals she has butchered have been sheep and goats. Max had the band saw at his house and did not arrive with it until 1pm so she boned out the chuck and some more of it. Neither of us was entirely clear what we were looking at in some cases. After we had the band saw, together we cut up a lot of ribs and some other boney parts and made some steaks and roasts. I did the meat grinding. I wanted 20% fat in the ground meat so put in one cube of fat for every 4 cubes of lean. It looks about right. I put it all through the coarse grind and then again through a finer grind. I managed about 13 pounds. Sally wrapped and labeled everything and put it into the freezer. We have a big roll of freezer paper.
While Max was here we had hamburgers with the new ground meat. It got high marks.
The men have finished roofing the front side of the carriage house. Martin is coming up to be here to help with roofing tomorrow.
When I went out to do evening chores Jeremiah was not around. It is always dark by then but I tramped around checking for tracks and figured out where he must be. I was not seriously alarmed because Jasmine came right up for her supper and showed no signs of worry. She always knows exactly where he is. By the time I had gone back to the house for the spotlight he had showed up. He had gone into the sheep paddock to explore and must have been napping somewhere. It is snowing again but it is coming down lightly. I hope to be able to see his tracks tomorrow and find out where he went.
January 14, 2009 Wednesday
It was -9˚ this morning with a nasty wind. I doubted the workmen would show up but they did and they worked all day. Martin also worked with them much of the time. He wants some roofing experience. It was so cold that the asphalt shingles were frozen into big flat lumps. Martin carried armloads of them into the house to thaw. The nail guns also had to come in often to thaw.
Jasmine gave less than 1 ½ gallons this morning. Jeremiah got the rest. There were no symptoms of mastitis. I separated them tonight.
Sally and I cut and wrapped the meat from the other front quarter. Besides the roasts and steaks, we have 29 one pound packages of ground meat. I also gave some away and we ate it three meals in a row, being too busy to do any other sort of cooking.
January 15, 2009 Thursday
DD Sally came downstairs first this morning and found my little 20 year old cat, Lemur dead. She mostly slept all day in the laundry basket but periodically would make her way to the kitchen to the water dish or litterbox. I guess this time her old heart gave out halfway there. Lemur was deaf and blind from birth. Sally’s daughter Rebecca, found her years ago wandering around in the attic of the carriage house. She was then very small. Her eyes were always huge with the pupils dilated so Rebecca named her Lemur. Lemur never came in heat nor developed much in the way of attachments but she was always clean and orderly. Possibly because of her deafness, her voice was strange sounding. In the summer I used to let her outdoors but she seldom went far and somehow escaped being run over in the driveway. We will miss Lemur. Her death seems like the end of an era.
It was about -15˚ this morning and the hose was frozen inside my barn warming cabinet.. Sally carried 10 gallons of water to the barn and I replaced the 60 watt bulb in the cabinet with a 75 watt and draped a wool blanket over the whole thing.
I kept Jeremiah separate last night. Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons of perfect milk despite the cold. I noticed that Jeremiah has chipped a patch of skin off one of her teats and I can’t have that so I kept him in his stall. There was a bit of mooing but only while Jasmine was out of sight during milking. The rest of the day all was quiet. I am disappointed that I must isolate him because he is not as happy and I again have to carry all his feed and water.
Sally and I decided to postpone further meat cutting until after the weekend. Sally spent the day, cold though it was, organizing the buttery. One thing after another has gotten stuffed in there following the carriage house demolition. She made a vast improvement. In addition, George, my contractor, says we may begin storing things upstairs in the new building. Hurrah! They have completed the roof and are preparing to do siding.
About lunch time I was able to run water in the barn again. What joy!
We are told to expect even colder weather tomorrow. The severe cold really tells you where the drafts are. The items in my barn bucket were frozen this morning where it stood 3ft inside the kitchen door due to a draft coming from under a cabinet. The workmen must go in and out frequently to rotate their power tools. The tools keep freezing up and must be thawed next to the Aga. The Aga is a great treasure at times like this.
January 16, 2009 Friday
The memorable thing about today was that it started out at -30˚. I spent about 15 minutes piling on layers before braving the barn. The milking machine pump was sulky and it took me about 15 minutes to get the milk out of Jasmine however she was a good sport and stood quietly. The pressure was low which slows the pulsator. She gave over 3 gallons of perfect milk. Poor Jeremiah is sad about being alone. Despite the cold I got 6 eggs.
Cold like this clarifies where your drafts are located. The kitchen door leaks all around the edges. My apron that was hanging underneath my coat on the wall only 8” from the Aga had collected a chunk of ice the size of a quail’s egg on its string. We kept both the fireplace and the woodstove going all day, much to the satisfaction of the dogs. The carpenters showed up to consider their options and then left. It would have been awful working in this cold.
When Sally was in the buttery she could hear a mouse jumping around in the plastic tote where I keep my black sunflower seed. She went and got Stanley, the cat, and put him into the tote which in fact had two mice in it. He darted around patting a mouse on its back but did not catch it. She then summoned Willie, my Westie terrier, who was waiting eagerly. She tipped the box so he could see in and he instantly snapped up one mouse, killed it and spit it out. Then he did the same with the second mouse. We gave him lots of praise.
Sally made lovely scones for us to eat at teatime. I made a couple of loaves of bread using my home made raw milk starter. This time I added no commercial yeast and I was very satisfied with the bread. For today’s bread I used milk as the sole liquid and added butter to the dough and it still rose quite briskly.
My granddaughter Rosemary has sent an account of her recent trek in Nepal.
My solo trek was neat--so much different from walking with a guide that I'm glad I did both. I flew from Kathmandu into Lukla, a small town near the treeline, and walked from there straight up toward Mt Everest. It was extremely cold-- -25C at night, and the guesthouses have no heating-- but very beautiful. There were few people on the trail, just a handful of mountaineers and packtrains of yaks with their gear, but I had no trouble finding the route. It was somewhat more precipitous than the earlier trail--it followed a series of deep river canyons up into the highest mountains--and I quickly got above the treeline. I was walking fast because of the cold, but it took five days to reach Everest base camp. There was a lodge near there where I was able to stay, so I spent a day or two exploring. I climbed up on the glacial moraine where mountaineering expeditions start, and also climbed a smaller, nearby hill to watch the sun set on Mt Everest. That was something to see! There was nothing up there but me, and a shrine with prayer flags snapping in the wind. The mountains were completely bare of leaves--just rock turning golden in the last light, and suddenly it was night, with the enormous Himalayan stars lighting my way home.
The trip back to Lukla took me four days. Unfortunately, I ate some spoiled yak meat on the way down, and had a terrible time getting the rest of the way back. I didn't have intestinal problems, thank goodness, but was weak and vomiting. I think that I must have been a bit weakened by trekking, too, because I stayed sick during the two remaining days I spent in Kathmandu. It wasn't until Amsterdam, on the flight back, that I began to feel more human--but that may also have been something to do with returning to familiar terrain. Anyhow, that was my trip to Asia. I'm in Seattle right now, in a coffee shop at the Fisherman's Terminal--close enough to home to make me happy! :)
January 18, 2009 Sunday
The weather yesterday was bitterly cold, -35˚. Milking did not go well. I fumbled around setting up a milk room heater and forgot to put the pin in Jasmine’s stanchion. Ordinarily if this happens (or should I say doesn’t happen) she just stands politely there but this time, no doubt due to the miserable cold, she finished her grain, turned around and left. I smacked her on the rump and told her to get back in there. Instead she pooped and marched on out, tripping over the heater which fell over with a metallic crash. Sally was there to prevent a complete getaway. After a certain amount of useless yelling and pulling on her collar, I lured her back with grain, ignoring the poop because I was afraid to delay milking for fear my pump would quit or my machine would freeze up. So instead the manure froze and is still there and will be until we get a thaw.
Last night we had our wonderful but all too brief visit from Liz and her daughter Charlye, her sister Samantha and husband Teo. DIL Mitra and DS Max and daughters Shireen and Roshan were with us (me and DD Sally). We missed having Kip join us. The extremely cold weather prevented him from safely leaving his animals.
Liz and her family went first to Mitra’s mother’s (Marie’s) condo in Farmington where they were staying. Then Mitra drove them over here. Max came earlier with Roshan and brought a heated water tub which he set up for Jeremiah. We have been switching out buckets of ice twice a day for him and then bringing the buckets to the house to thaw.
First we stood around getting acquainted and nibbling on various cheeses. Sally had arranged two tables together in a T formation to seat us all and had set the table beautifully.
I fixed pulled pork using a shoulder roast from one of Max and Mitra’s pigs. It cooked long and slow in the Aga. I also made a casserole with corn that I froze from my patch last summer. Mashed potatoes and cole slaw completed the main course. Sally made pies from the heirloom pumpkin “Long pie” that I grew last summer (I highly recommend this pumpkin) and there was lots of whipped cream. It was a festive occasion. The evening ended with a chilly trip to the barn to meet the cows, after which I gave them a house tour while they warmed back up.
Today was a warmer, a mere 0˚ but it has snowed all day long. I tried Sally McD’s suggestion on the forum to put plastic bags on over socks to help keep one’s feet from freezing. It definitely helps.
In news from afar: DS John is on one of his scientific cruises out of Adelaide AU, and in his spare time caught three tuna close to 40 lb each. The protocol is to share the meat with all aboard but it still means he can bring some home to Lou, besides which nobody else wants the heads which are a Filipino delicacy. John says it is primo fish.
Grandson Harper in Alaska shot a cow moose. To get one of the scarce permits he stood in line all night in Fairbanks at Fish & Game. DD Sally’s son Rafe, who was here recently, and her SIL Torsten all went on the hunt in Minto Flats. Today they are all cutting the meat at DS Bret’s house. Rosemary, home from Asia, is helping.
January 19, 2009 Monday
It was a lot warmer today, 9˚. We got 8 ½” of new snow. The world looked exceptionally beautiful in the pinky dawn light. Later the sun warmed us up to 20˚ and everybody took off a few layers.
Sally and I (mostly Sally) cut and wrapped a hind quarter today. My plow guy, Ted Flagg, stopped in for his check and gave us useful pointers on cutting the rump. The meat never seems to look quite like the book. My band saw is not working properly so we used the hand meat saw. DS Max popped in and helped with the sawing. He also improved Jeremiah’s watering arrangement and shoveled a path to the barn from the plowed area. The plowing always creates a snow cliff where he ends.
Tomorrow we will do the fourth quarter. In case anybody wonders, it’s a big job. However we are getting more efficient.
I got 6 eggs today. I have gotten 4 to 6 nearly every day except for those bitterly cold days.
January 20, 2009 Tuesday
It got up to 20˚ today under full sun. Sally attacked the final quarter of beef this morning and made rapid progress. But when the inaugural activities got underway we sank down riveted to the TV. We appreciated all of it but were especially impressed with Yoyo Ma and the quartet.
Despite taking a couple of hours off, Sally finished all the cutting and wrapping with minimal help from me.
Jasmine gave only 2 ½ gallons this morning. There was no obvious reason for the drop in production unless it is something to do with heat. She is due on Thursday and we thought that Jeremiah was already looking a bit glassy eyed.
DS Bret has ordered a new dishwasher for me. It is a Bosch. I think that Max will bring it tomorrow. What a thrill!
January 22, 2009 Thursday
Yesterday, Wednesday, Max picked up my new dishwasher at Lowe’s in Auburn, and brought it here and connected it for me. As always seems to happen, there was additional stuff he had to go down to the hardware store to buy but then things went just fine. It was the first time he had connected a dishwasher so was feeling a bit daunted I think, but now he is a pro. The dishwasher is a solid piece of workmanship. Bret has one and says that in 10 years it has given no trouble.
My neighbor up the road that has two cows popped in to tell me how things are going with her. She bought a Hereford bull calf at auction and it had turned out to be a mini Hereford. She is undecided what to do with him.
The weather Wednesday was very fine. It started out about 10˚ but got up to 20˚ with lots of sun. Today started much the same but then a strong wind out of the west tore in. Fortunately the carpenters now have a wall on the western elevation and were working on the east side so had some shelter. Sally made whole wheat rolls and passed them out to the men along with butter and jam before they went home. They were very appreciative. The rolls were excellent. I think her reputation is secure.
Today was marked on my calendar for Jasmine to come into heat. She gave 2 ¾ gallons and had no overt indications of heat in the early morning but I put Jeremiah in with her and there were early signs. He paced around her curling up his lip. Every time I checked on them they were side by side schmoozing. I saw no mounting. I left them together for the night. He looks plenty big enough to make the hop.
January 23, 2009 Friday
Jasmine has shown only mild enthusiasm for Jeremiah. Neither Sally nor I have observed any serious evidences of heat.
The inner layer of boards are now all on the carriage house walls. Next comes the exterior siding which will be Correct Deck, DS Martin’s product. There is some delay now while awaiting UPS with the proper screws. Martin stopped in on his way to camp. He was joining friends from Gould Academy on a winter camping trip.
My vet stopped by for lunch. I had a big pot of chili that was pretty good. Martin had some too. I made cole slaw, also custard baked in individual pots. I flavored it with Mexican vanilla, a treat provided by forum friend Liz. I also made a big bowl of whipped Jersey cream also flavored with Mexican vanilla and no sugar. Whipped raw cream is an amazing thing, indescribably delicious.
Dr. Cooper looked at a lump on Bagel’s elbow. He said he did not know what it was but it isn’t bone cancer. It does not appear to cause Bagel any pain but we have been worrying about it.
Mitra wrote the news of her pig Sophie’s breeding:
With the help of Josh Grams of Flying Pond Farm, Max AI'd Sophie yesterday evening. The Grams bred Charlotte (Sophie's sister who moved to Flying Pond Farm) on Tuesday and only ended up using one of the three semen doses they had purchased. I happened to run into Tobin Grams yesterday downtown and got a report on how it went with Charlotte - they think they missed her standing heat by about half a day. They decided it would be pointless to use the remaining two doses which they were to be used at 12 hour intervals. They did get the other whole dose into her though so who knows? I told Tobin that we had failed to order the semen in time for this heat and Sophie was in heat already.
When I got home from my errands, the phone was ringing and it was Tobin. The Grams wanted to know if we were interested in breeding Sophie today and if so they could give us the rest of the semen (shelf life of 5-7 days). Max came home and we went and checked on her "readiness". She stood like a rock for Max. We ran back and called Flying Pond Farm and within minutes Josh was on his way with the stuff! He brought the other two doses and the "equipment" and Max did it (with Josh's help)! Sophie stood like a rock again for three whole minutes and did what she was supposed to (according to one account I read on the forum - when the insertion is done correctly, the pig will draw the semen into her own body and that's exactly what she did!) and I'm just sooo excited! Roshan took the pictures. I missed it all because I had to go get Shireen from ski practice right when Josh arrived. If she's still in standing heat this morning, we will use the remaining dose on her and I'll be able to see this myself.
Laura Gram and I are already fantasizing about them both being bred and future little red piglets. They'd be due in May!
I had little red piglet dreams last night.
January 24, 2009 Saturday
Sally went out to do the early feeding and reported lively interest between Jasmine and Jeremiah. Neither of us saw any actual mounting, neither have I seen any slime or blood. But it was evident they had been stomping around in the night, not resting quietly. Both continue to be well behaved but when bringing Jasmine in for milking I took the precaution of stationing Sally at the milk room door so that she could slam it in case Jeremiah wanted to follow Jasmine into where I milk instead of going into his stall where otherwise he always goes. His grain is in there. I was glad I thought ahead on this because indeed he tailgated Jas right to the door of the milking room and Sally had to slam the door. I diverted him into his stall OK after that. He has not shown any aggression, only single mindedness. Yesterday morning he had drunk most of the milk but today, none.
It has turned colder again. -20˚ is predicted for tomorrow.
Max reported on yesterday’s excursion. He borrowed his brother Martin’s snow machine:
I had a fine time snowmobiling with Tim yesterday afternoon. We started out from Martin's camp, where the "sled" is stored. From there we went a total of about 60 miles in a great loop that eventually brought us back through the pass on old Number 6 Road past Tumbledown. Number 6 Road is not maintained in winter months, but it was plowed up to within a half mile of the small cemetery where Jack rests. The rest is snowmobile trail for the time being. We saw some vehicles parked at the end of the plowed section when we passed. They probably belonged to Martin and his party doing their winter camping thing on Tumbledown. I would think they all have the right equipment to avoid exposure. The greater risk would be a slip injury from the climb up or down. Tim and I rode through what seemed like an endless winter wonderland. The trees are all sort of perfectly frosted and the snow is new. Trail conditions were really nice and the temps were not unbearable. I did get cold a couple of times, but this was when we stopped to eat some snacks we brought along. The machine tends to keep you warm and the hand grips are heated, which makes a huge difference to a person’s desire to ride around in freezing temperatures. So we were fine most of the time. I returned the machine to Martin's camp around 7:30 I think. Tim and I were both worn out.
I shall be interested to hear how the camping trip went.
January 25, 2009 Sunday
It was -20˚ again this morning. Milking went fine. Even though I left Jer in with Jas, she still gave 1 ¾ gallons. I judge that he nurses only once and that is in the wee hours or she would not have that much milk. Since he has caused no teat damage I left them together today. They can help keep each other warm. I have not observed any bleed out or slime at any point but I confess that this morning I forgot to look. It was so cold all I could think of was getting done and gone.
Sally has developed a cold. Nonetheless she made bread, an apple crisp and dressed off another rooster. He was a Barred Rock and weighed 5 lbs and had 2” spurs. Then she topped off her day by starting a batch of feta.
DS Martin got home safely from his two nights of winter camping. The campers were a group from Gould Academy, mostly teachers, who were doing an instructional trial run in preparation for the winter camping expedition that Gould does every year with the entire junior class.
Martin sent a couple of pictures of the Assault on Tumbledown.
That's me in the first picture, and on the right beyond the pond we scrambled up North Peak in one of those tree lined seams in the other picture. It was 70mph+ winds steady up there! I was able to lean back into the wind and just pretty much stay in place. I decided it's much more pleasant in the summer...
DD Marcia sent me some Seville oranges from Florida. This afternoon I made them into marmalade according to the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. It is not like any marmalade I had seen before so I look forward to trying it. It is completely uncooked. I used honey instead of the succanat she called for. I first tried slicing the oranges as SF calls for in the recipe but ended up squeezing the oranges, then strained and reserved the juice. Those babies are super seedy. I found that I could slice the skins with my Cuisinart by arranging them just right. So far the marmalade looks very promising.
DD Marcia spent the weekend in the Palm Beach area watching her horse, Peter, compete in important dressage trials. He came in second in two classes and won the third. She is hoping her lovely potted plants did not freeze while she was away. Florida is having cold weather.
I cooked one of Max and Mitra’s chickens on Friday and there was a lot left. For supper tonight I made creamed chicken on rice. Those chickens have great flavor. With a sauce of real butter, milk and cream you have a satisfying dish. I make my sauce with ¼ lb of butter, ¼ cup of whole wheat pastry flour stirred together in a skillet until bubbly. Then add a quart of hot creamy milk, salt and a little Tabasco sauce and stir with a whisk until thick.
January 26, 2009 Monday
It was -19˚ this morning. Jasmine is fine and happy. So far Jeremiah has not injured her teats but we only got 1 gallon of milk. I separated them tonight.
The carpenters began putting on the CorrectDeck siding, DS Martin’s product. It is a clapboard style and looks great.
According to our experts on the forum, a bull won’t be fertile much before 11 months old and needs to have a scrotal circumference of 28 cm. So maybe Jeremiah, now 9 months, will not be able to breed Jasmine. On the other hand, after a good look at his equipment, Sally made a circle with a tape measure which she says definitely gives him 28cm. She is a good seamstress and worker with fiber and considers her eye pretty accurate. So we shall see. We certainly did not actually wrap a tape on our little bull himself. I will give him as many chances as I can before he is sold or cut.
January 27, 2009 Tuesday
It was another cold one, -20˚. The animals don’t appear to mind it. They are dry and well fed and all have company so it seems that their requirements are met. We humans find things to complain about. However the milking machine and water system are functioning so really, it is bearable. I am glad it is not -40˚ as some people must face. When dressing for the cold, I am now wearing little knit woolen cuffs that DDSally made. She calls them “wristers”. They make a great difference to keeping one’s hands warm.
Thanks to a night of separation from Jeremiah, Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons this morning.
Being out of critical items, we got ourselves organized for a shopping expedition but first Sally started the dough for apricot almond turnovers. Three hours later when we got home she completed them and passed some out to the workmen. They loved them. By day’s end the weather had warmed up to 20˚ but still after a day of working in the cold, the turnovers were a treat.
DS Max came over while we were gone and rousted out a lot of wood for me from the snow. We were getting pretty low. I was able to give him 5 gallons of skim for Sophie the pig and there were special frozen pig dinners made by Sally. She lines bread pans with plastic bags and fills them with a cooked mixture of meat scraps in cornmeal mush enhanced with various scraps a pig would like. These are then frozen into a block by setting them out in the buttery overnight.
A lot of my own afternoon was spent crouched on the floor in an attitude of abject submission as I tried to figure out which cord might be responsible for the message on my computer screen: A power cord is disconnected. This of course included a wait on hold for tech support where I made the acquaintance of a charming woman in Mississippi named Marasika who I think had previously not met anyone quite this dumb. The repair ultimately proved to be simple. Identify the power cord amongst the tangle behind the bookcase, unplug it, wait 2 minutes, plug it back in. This brought the satellite back to life. I hated this.
January 28, 2009 Wednesday
The crew finished putting siding on the west side of the carriage house. A heavy snow storm was predicted and began falling about 9am. All schools were cancelled and the men went home at noon.
I got a sweet tooth attack tonight and made caramel sauce. I served it on vanilla ice cream topped with some of the Sally Fallon raw marmalade that I made. This was really good.
January 29, 2009 Thursday
Today was much warmer. First thing this morning it was 9F but soon rose to 20F and the sun shone. The storm left about one foot of new snow. There was a high wind and much drifting. I spent about 25 minutes shoveling out the mailbox.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons after a night of separation from Jeremiah. I have increased her grain to help her out with the boost in production he is causing. So far he had not injured any of her teats but the minute he does, back he goes into confinement at least until he gets a ring. They do so appreciate each other’s company. They eat their hay standing side by side actually squeezed together. When I bring them in at night for their grain he scoots as fast as he can right into his own stall.
Sally made bread dough today and left it for me to add the dried fruit and form and bake the loaves, a joint venture. It was a great success. Also she made gingerbread according to a recipe that was written down by Martha Washington. It was delicious warm with whipped cream. We served some to the carpenter crew.
January 30, 2009 Friday
Jasmine seemed a bit nervous today and Jeremiah shook his head at me when I reached out to scritch his ears. There was nothing different in their lives that I could see.
It was a beautiful day with blue sky and fluffy clouds. It started out about -10F but got up to 20F with no wind. The carpenters are making great progress. Sally is working upstairs in the playroom/attic/laundry hanging space above my kitchen painting and reappointing two window sashes that are going in the downstairs part of the building. These are former storm windows which she is recycling. These two sashes survived the building collapse. They will be set horizontally for a western view in front of the future work bench.
I have finished Heat, by Bill Buford, a book sent to me by a forum member. It was a fine romp through the restaurant kitchen education of the author. He paints a compelling picture of the focus and intensity of work in a high end restaurant. Something about the relentless round of work that seemingly draws in and captures the souls of participants reminded me of dairy farming. After three years of apprenticeship in New York and Tuscany, Buford reached a conclusion that many of us cow owners share: real food is part of a seamless web that involves the soil, the family’s respect for food production, the food on the table, and not least, a sense of place. It’s not just to eat and run.
Tonight we had a fresh ham steak from the pig that was butchered at Max and Mitra’s. I cooked it in some reduced cider I made a while back. Yum.
February 01, 2009 Sunday
Saturday and Sunday were very quiet. We saw no-one until today when DS Max kindly came over and took two loads of trash to the dump for us. He was tired. All the rest of his family was sleeping in after a big party last night at their house.
They had about 70 teenagers and some parents for a big feed with music and dancing. These were the kids associated with a student exchange program - 32 kids from Philadelphia came to experience four days in rural Maine in the dead of winter. They were hosted by 32 Maine families and in April, the Maine kids will go to Philadelphia and stay with the same kids they hosted. This morning, the whole family dragged themselves out of bed to take the young lady they were hosting, to the middle school where her bus back to Philadelphia was waiting. They had to have her to the school no later than 5:45 a.m. It sounded like they all had fun. The party was mostly indoors because it was 3˚ outdoors but Max built a bonfire and had music outside for those who wanted air. This was mostly boys, he said.
Sally has undertaken a vast project upstairs in the attic above the kitchen, the area we call the Playroom. We hang the laundry there and have many books and boxes stored. She is reorganizing it and starting to paint the walls. It does not exactly have walls, being under the western gable and it has only one window that is in the gable end. It has back stairs down to the kitchen and a low door that gives onto the front stairs landing. It has always been an agreeable space but not well lit. The inner side of the roof is covered with ugly brown Masonite that holds the insulation in place. We plan to go to Dixfield tomorrow for some primer and some pale yellow paint to brighten it up.
Sally said the most fun was opening the window and defenestrating a lot of stored boards and pieces of wallboard into the snow below.
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons and I got 6 eggs. The temperature was zero this morning, got up to around 10˚ and this evening is back down to zero.
February 02, 2009 Monday
Zero again this morning but it got up to 25˚. The cows stood outside for part of the day although it was overcast.
Sally is forging ahead with interior decoration projects. She went to the hardware store and bought paint for the playroom/attic and also for the laundry room. She has the furniture all pulled out from the wall preparatory to washing the walls. Then it will be primer. I selected a pale sandy yellow for the playroom and a pale mauve-y pink for the laundry room.
DS Martin drove up late this afternoon with some more siding which we hope will be sufficient. It is a discontinued line so there is no more. It is a weathered brick red and will weather slightly redder, he says. In the pictures it looks darker than in real life.
We had a simple dinner of vegetable soup with chicken, beef and sausage bits and a loaf of my milk sourdough bread from the freezer.
Jasmine only gave 1 ½ gallons this morning. I think Jeremiah had drunk all the milk yesterday in the late afternoon. Some days he hardly drinks any.
February 03, 2009 Tuesday
Yesterday was one of the days when Jeremiah either nursed early in the day or not at all. Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons.
Bred or not, as soon as Jas goes through one more heat I plan to have the vet out to take off his horns and reduce his centimeters. I will get his nose ring on at that time. The nose ring is designed to jab the cow when the calf sucks thus inducing a discouraging kick in the face to the calf. I need his horns to be off before I affix the nose ring (which Janene very kindly sent me) because he already jabs Jasmine and I am afraid that he might choose to override her objections to his nursing.
I saw my ophthalmologist today, Sirus Hamzavi. He agreed that I am in a holding pattern and can just get a periodic check up from my local eye doctor. Last month I gave him a copy of KFC. He says several in his family are very interested in it. I invited him to visit my farm and bring his family. I suggested that May or June would be a good time. I hope they will come.
My son John in Adelaide AU sent me this today:
I was a bit irked by a man on the radio this morning spouting the increasingly-oft heard line to the effect that by sacrificing "just one red meat meal per week" one could do more to combat global warming than - well, I forget. Which led me to think about this - it is one of the few statements one hears that is actually more true - perhaps only true - in the logical extreme...if you stop eating altogether, then the planet would soon have one less mouth to feed.
Incidentally, I am sure that by "red meat" he would have been referring to beef. Lamb and pork are pink or even white. Why don't these people just come out and say "beef"?
February 04, 2009 Wednesday
The weather continues pretty cold. It was around zero this morning and topped out at 20F. This pattern is predicted to continue.
Jasmine and Jeremiah don’t seem to mind at all. Jasmine’s wide fluctuations in production are due to the time of day that Jeremiah last nurses before their overnight separation. She gave 1 ½ gallons this morning.
I had some good sour cream in he fridge and felt like making a sour cream lemon cake today. I minced up some delicious thin sliced lemons in syrup that Sally made with lemons sent to us from Florida by DD Marcia. I was picturing a tea time triumph but alas, I didn’t hear the timer and it ended u p looking like something found in Herculaneum. After trimming away about and inch all around we ere able to eat the middle out of it. Sally declared it to be quite good and had another slice. But I was very sad.
Sally is plunging forward with her painting and repairs. She has finished a lot of the laundry area. The usually cramped area looks downright spacious now that all the coats and cleaning supplies are out of there.
For supper I cooked a couple of pork shoulder chops from Luick’s pig with a pint of sauerkraut sent by Sally’s daughter Rebecca in Tok, AK. It was excellent with mashed potatoes and some of my frozen corn.
We have sent little boxes of beef to various relatives and all have raved about the flavor.
February 05, 2009 Thursday
The temperature continues to hang around zero. It got up to around 10˚. I heard on the radio that January was the 3rd coldest on record for Maine. The hens are not laying much. I get 3 to 6 eggs, not enough to sell. Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons. I think my hay must be pretty good as I don’t give a lot of grain, only about 7 or 8 pounds a day. I am putting molasses and vitamin C on it (ran out of ACV and forgot to buy it). When she came in tonight it was evident that Jeremiah had nursed within the last 3 hours. She had no milk build-up.
The carpenters may go to another job tomorrow while they wait for more Correct Deck siding. Little remains to be done now except for siding the front elevation.
DD Abby, who lives in PA, says that she has had excellent success so far this winter with fending off infection despite helping out with her daughter Helena’s kids when they are sick by eating grapefruit pith. She does not like the grapefruit seed oil. She peels off the outer yellow skin and eats the white pith along with the fruit. Sally and I are going to try it. One of the carpenters had a bad cold yesterday. They are in the house quit often to warm their nail gun and other tools by the fire. These battery powered tools don’t function well in the kind of weather we are having.
Sally made biscuits today and passed them out hot to the carpenters at quitting time. She used a recipe sent me by DS John in Adelaide AU.
Twice a Week Biscuits
Sally’s tweaks added in parentheses 2/5/09
John's Twice A Week Biscuits recipe from Australia: 2 cups all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably non-aluminum) (1 ½ bp, ½ baking soda) 1 tablespoon sugar (2)
Mix the above with a fork. Whisk together: 1/2 cup heavy cream (skipped this cream) 1/2 cup sour cream (¾ cup very heavy sour cream, then added yogurt as needed to get dough to the right consistency, kneaded lightly)
Slowly add the cream to the dry ingredients using the fork (or electric mixer). Gather into a ball by hand. If necessary add a little more cream (or yogurt). Pat the dough out into a flat round a generous 1/2" thick. Cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or small frozen juice can. Place them on a baking sheet.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter and brush the tops. John says "Mark them with a B. Then spend 5 minutes figuring out what 425F is in C. Put them in a preheated oven for 13 - 15 minutes for Baby and me. Serve immediately."
These were a great hit with the carpenters.
For our dinner I sautéed sea scallops in coconut oil and butter with leeks, a pinch of cayenne, salt and pepper, and fresh coriander. I deglazed the pan with white wine and poured this over salad greens on the plate along with golden cauliflower. It was very good.
Sally made a beautiful dessert with frozen raspberries, cooked and strained, then set with gelatin. I made a lot of whipped cream.
Sally got a lot more painting done today.
February 06, 2009 Friday
Jasmine only gave 1 ½ gallons this morning, just what she could make during the night, and will again tomorrow.
It was -10˚ again this morning but rose to a bright and sunny 20˚ before cooling down under a bright moon.
Sally made bread this morning and I started a teleme cheese.
Our mail lady has been complaining about the position of the mailbox although it was set exactly to Post Office specs. She began refusing to leave the mail. I could not shovel it out well enough I guess. Today the carpenters graciously modified it so that it hangs farther out over the guard rail. The snow plow is sure to strike it now but c’est la vie. The P.O. won’t allow me to shift it to this side of the road where it could be accessed easily and safely.
The carriage house is nearly completed. The dogs will be desolate when the carpenters leave. They love the men and supervise their every move.
Today’s Lewiston Sun Journal has a nice story about the increasing number of small farms in Maine. They increased by 13% over the five year period ’02 to ’07. These are mostly farms producing vegetables, meat and dairy for the local population and restaurants. While Maine has a notoriously difficult business climate with few tax breaks, it is also less abusive to food producers than many states. People are able to sell meat and raw dairy products at farmer’s markets. I am proud of Maine for this. Many of the farmers reported impressive profits.
DD Marcia sent me a picture of her horse, Donerhit, known as Peter. He is in Florida for the winter. Here he is with his trainer, Sue, doing a flying change.
February 08, 2009 Sunday
We awoke to much warmer weather. It was about 37˚ with a strong warm wind blowing. Sally called it a Chinook. The first puddles I have seen in weeks showed up on sheets of packed snow where we walk. As the day wore on the wind became increasingly violent. The sky was blue with scudding clouds. About 7PM the electricity went out. It came back on just long enough for Sally to fill 2 carboys with water before going out for a couple of hours. We ate our soup by kerosene lamps.
It was peanut butter soup, a favorite around here. I may have posted the recipe before but here it is again.
Peanut Butter Soup
Sauté some vegetables in a little peanut oil, coconut oil or butter until they are limp but not browned.
½ cup chopped onion 1 large carrot peeled and sliced 1 large stalk celery, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced A couple of teaspoons dried herbs Add 1 cup non-hydrogenated chunky or smooth peanut butter and stir (I prefer chunky) Add 6 to 8 cups chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
Add 1 or 2 potatoes, diced (I usually cook the potatoes separately for faster results and use some of the potato water in lieu of stock. If using raw chicken I poach it in with the potatoes.
Add ½ teaspoon cayenne (or if you have it, 2 teaspoons of Thai garlic chili)
Lastly add cooked chicken or turkey if desired.
Simmer about 15 minutes
Now add something acidic, either 3 Tablespoons wine vinegar or some chopped tomatoes. When I added the Thai chili the flavor balance was perfect without adding any tomato, vinegar or pepper. I like to serve it with a wedge of lime.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Other veg are also good such as red bell pepper.
I think you will be surprised how good this soup is.
The subject of MRSA (Methicillan resistant staphylococcus aureus) arose today. People are increasingly exposed to this, also to C. dif. (Clostridium difficile) in the hospital setting and now in the community. These and a number of other bacterium have become resistant to antibiotics leaving it up to one’s own immune system to fight the infection.
The image exists that these are especially powerful bacteria but such is not the case. These are the same old bacteria. They differ only in that they have learned to live with antibiotics, like a dog that has learned to dodge traffic. In fighting MRSA we are now in the same position that we were back in 1930 before we had antibiotics.
Before antibiotics many people died from common infections but not everybody. It depended on your immune system and the quality of your nursing care. Then and now, these are largely under our own control. In former times a great deal of emphasis was placed on suitable diet during illness. Easily digested high protein dishes such as custards, broths and gelatin dishes were advised. Ever read about calves foot jelly and wondered what that could be? You boil veal bones including the hoof and the resulting broth, when cold, contains enough gelatin to set firmly.
Doctor’s orders were to remain in bed when ill. He (or sometimes she) or a nurse or family member were in constant attendance. The patient was often spoon fed. During convalescence emphasis was placed on avoiding fatigue or chills. With this regimen, if you were a well nourished person to begin with, you probably recovered completely.
Were I to succumb to a MRSA infection I would do my best to keep up the cod liver oil and hope that somebody would make me a nice liver pate. I would stick with my raw milk and herbal teas, oatmeal, soft boiled eggs, fresh fruit and vitamin C. Except for the latter, all of these foods were available in the past and were considered aids to recovery.
February 09, 2009 Monday
Sunday’s milder weather proved to be transient. It was back down to zero this morning with a cold wind. All the same, Jasmine gave nearly 3 gallons and we got 6 eggs as contrasted with the usual four.
DS Max reports that Helen was visited both Saturday and Sunday by the AI tech and there was every reason for confidence that she was well and truly in heat. Unfortunately, Sophie the pig appears to be coming into heat again. He thinks the semen may have been past its prime.
By tomorrow my carriage house crew expects to finish all they can do here until they get the remaining siding from Martin. Even without the siding being completed, the place looks awesome.
Here is a view from each side of the new carriage house:
I asked DS Mark, the medical student, what he thought of my remarks on MRSA. He approved.
“It is of course those with immune systems compromised by disease, cancer, and poor diet who are most susceptible to MRSA. You are right that diet is not often seen, in my experience, as part of the cause or the solution for a MRSA colonization. I have seen a shift by a few docs to IV feed those who are NPO (none per os - nothing by mouth) sooner rather than later, since they have seen the results (infection, debilitation) of starvation.
The over-prescription of antibiotics (and patient failure to take as directed) started this problem. Its effect is on those with poor health and diet. It is kept in check by sanitation and handwashing procedures. Colonization does not always lead to disease. Common sites are where lines are inserted or at surgical incisions. Patients, once labeled MRSA - positive, stay that way on subsequent admissions, as there is no clear way to declare them free of it.
There are rarely any new antibiotics developed or released for common usage. So, this is an intractable problem. Stay out of the hospital, and if there, take responsibility for your care - make sure people are using clean techniques, and make sure everything that is done that is invasive has a good reason. If prescribed antibiotics, take them all as directed, even if feeling better - if not, resistance is promoted.
It makes sense to me that high quality protein helps fight infection - after all, the marrow has to make new white cells from protein substrates."
February 10, 2009 Tuesday
It was up in the 20’s most of today. I unplugged the submersible stock water heaters. For some reason the carpenters’ power tools kept popping breakers and this stopped the problem. The prediction is for three days of temperatures in the 20’s so I should be able to leave them unplugged for now.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons and I got 6 eggs. Jas and Jeremiah both seemed cheerful today. I left the chicken door open and a few brave little souls hopped out onto the snow.
The carpenters had expected to complete all they could here by the end of today but did not quite make it. They will be back tomorrow for part of a day. Sally made a lovely blueberry pie and invited all four in for a treat at quitting time. She also made two loaves of bread.
Some further remarks from Dr. Mark: Community acquired (CA) MRSA colonization is associated with contact with infected persons, including at home or during contact sports, or in crowded conditions, or via a myriad of other routes. Beyond the acute (usually skin) infection, the patient may also develop antibiotic resistance that could be telling later in life. Lifelong vigilance will be needed, not only in terms of hygiene and safe practices, but also by a good diet that supports the immune system, as Mom/Joann has long pointed out.
Small MRSA sores may not require antibiotics. Topical antibiotics may be first - line. Several commonly available antibiotics still are effective against MRSA. However, local resistant strains may dominate and confound treatment. States with known higher resistance patterns include Alaska, CA, and Georgia.
If I were under care for a treatment - resistant MRSA infection, a question I might ask of my caregiver is if my case has been discussed with an Infectious Disease (ID) expert yet. Hospital ID people stay on top of trends in disease and treatment and might help expedite recovery if the doc is using an antibiotic strategy that could be updated. There would be a tactful way to ask this.
February 11, 2009 Wednesday
Sally sprang up early and made cinnamon buns to pass out for the last day of construction. The workmen loaded up their scaffolding and tools around midday. They were a great crew. They will be back at some point to finish the remaining work when the siding arrives. They cannot hang the door until the snow melts. It is buried under a mountain of it.
The tail from our last steer emerged today. Willie found it and showed up with it ludicrously balanced in his jaws, wagging his tail and asking to bring it inside. This did not happen. I’m afraid it proved to be a bone of contention between him and Bagel. There was even a slight dog fight before somebody bit it in two. They then apparently each ate half except for the tuft. All the remaining day they lay around looking stoned. Sal took them out for an extra airing after dark. She thinks Bagel threw up.
February 13, 2009 Friday
I had today marked on the calendar to look for heat in Jasmine. There were none. Either she is bred or, more likely, she is doing her usual longer cycle. I left them together tonight just in case she comes into heat.
It seems pretty quiet around here without the builders. I can tell Bagel misses them. Sally and I went to Farmington today and met Mitra for lunch and shopping. We visited a new thrift store. Sally bought some charming yellow dishes and some books. I bought a bedside lamp and an antique colander.
Sally also visited Twice Sold Tales, the second hand book store, and bought an excellent edition of Beowulf with good illustrations. She also bought me a copy of Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto who was a friend of my father.
Here are a couple of pictures of Torleif, Sally's grandson and my great grandson. The first is Torleif with his cat Mousebane and the second is Torleif on tiptoe. Mitra has stated that she wants to chew on his sweet arms.
Mitra told us that they inseminated Sophie, their pig, again. Max AI’d her twice on Wednesday at 12 hour intervals. She stood very well so there are high hopes. The semen is a blend from several Duroc boars. Perhaps Max will tell us more.
DS Martin and his family are at camp. They were all invited here for supper but Amy didn’t feel very well and so only Martin and the wee ones came, Hanna and Henry. In April Hannah will be 3 and Henry will be 1 (I think I have that right). Both are wonderful eaters. This morning before we left I put a chuck roast in the Aga simmer oven. It turned out very well indeed. With it I served mashed potatoes and a mixture of carrots, celery, leeks and peas, steamed and buttered. Sally quickly made an apple black walnut upside down cake for which I made whipped cream. Sally and I agreed that the babies were just darling. Henry is especially serious about eating and gobbled down a lot of beef. Hannah sang us a new song with about six verses and arm gestures about all the people on the bus.
It has gotten cold again and there is an icy wind.
February 14, 2009 Saturday - Valentine’s Day
DD Marcia sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers and Martin brought me a piece of killer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache which Sally and I shared over morning tea/coffee. DS John called from Australia. He and Lou are paving their driveway with used bricks. He said they were both exhausted.
All last night and all day long an icy wind blew. The actual temperature hovered between 10˚ and 18˚. DS Martin and his friends were planning to do their ice skating kiting thing on the lake today. I don’t know if they did it or not but if they did I hope they did not get frostbite. I doubt there was any thin ice to be found. DD Sally and I had planned to go visit DD Marcia’s camp, which is near Martin’s, but the wind discouraged us. We had a nice visit from Ronnie Hutchinson, a neighbor who has an Ayreshire cow. She brought me some fat from her pig that she didn’t want.
Granddaughter Shireen had another X-C ski race today - The State Championship. She was not feeling very well but insisted on racing anyway.
Here she is out the start gate. They release the racers at 15 second intervals. Out of the gate and into the woods.
Shireen's team, the Farmington Area Ski Team (FAST) won the Middle School Class A State Championship.
Sally started a batch of sauerkraut. I hoped she would take a break from painting the playroom. Her hands and arms are stressed but she is hard to slow down. She is doing the room in sections and had the second coat of pale yellow on the dark brown Masonite. The room is really attic space and has but one window. It always used to be dark in there but now it is filled with light.
No signs of heat whatsoever in Jasmine and display of interest from Jeremiah. I separated them tonight so we can have some milk tomorrow. If she comes into heat during the night, Sunday morning will not be too late for him to try. Jasmine is often late.
February 15, 2009 Sunday
This was the 23rd day since Jasmine’s last heat and no sign of heat yet. The wind had died down pretty well and she and Jeremiah went out and stood in the sunny barnyard in the snow. Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons.
Sally and I went up to Weld to have a look at DD Marcia’s camp. On the way we stopped at Martin and Amy’s camp on the edge of Lake Webb. The lake is popular for ice fishing. It seems very strange to see pickup trucks whizzing past on the ice about 30 feet from shore on their way to their ice fishing huts. It is actually rather alarming.
Edited by Mitra to include news caption and picture of truck/ice on Lake Webb, three days after Joann's entry above.
WELD - Two ice fishermen moving a shack from one lake to another became lost in a snowstorm, drove onto thin ice and sank into Webb Lake near Weld at approximately 10 p.m. Wednesday.
We were able to drive to Martin’s camp but the road was plowed no farther. Snow machines had been through and walking the remaining distance was not difficult. We were able to kick the snow away from Marcia’s door and get it open. All was in perfect order inside. We peeped into every room and checked on the sump pump too.
Back home again, we began preparations for a family dinner. My rib roast was already in a slow oven. I made mayonnaise and shredded cabbage for slaw. Sally made a blueberry pie. Unfortunately Shireen was sick so Mitra stayed home with her. Max and Roshan came about 3pm and Max took a big load of garbage to the dump for me. Martin and Amy and little Hannah and Henry arrived at 5pm and we all had a good time eating. The kids are perfect dinner guests, being entirely focused on eating. Max took some roast beef home for Mitra and Shireen.
Hannah asked her mother, “Do you think when I am a bigger girl, that Grandma Joann will let me milk Jasmine?”
February 16, 2009 Monday
There are still no signs whatsoever of heat in Jasmine. This was the 24th day of her cycle. Either she was bred by a nine month old bull or she has a fertility problem. I will not attempt breeding now even if she does come in heat again this winter. I don’t want a mid winter calf. I brought Jeremiah in as usual this evening and plan not to let him out again in the immediate future. I need him to be weaned, both for fear of Jasmine getting an udder injury and because I want the cream. I feel badly about separating them and hope it will not be for long. I have not called the vet because DS Martin may have a lead on a buyer for him.
Naughty Bagel has been running off and taking Willie with him. I had a lot of trouble with this last spring. The entire neighborhood became accustomed to hearing me yell, I am sure. The great piles of snow allow both dogs to hop over the fence. Bagel is getting so deaf that I doubt he can even hear me yelling, although he has always had selective hearing.
The weather today was mild and sunny. Sally took the opportunity to clean and rearrange the buttery which it badly needed following months of shoving everything in there from the carriage house and the temporary storage shed that collapsed in a high wind. What a treat to get that done. The last person to give it a good cleaning was DD Marcia last October.
MedPage had an interesting report today of a mouse study which showed striking evidence of protection from Alzheimer’s by boosting the innate immune system. Supporting the immune system is exactly what we are doing when we use our dairy products and eat real food.
Other studies have shown that Omega 3 fatty acids are protective against Alzheimer’s. Cold water fish is always urged as a source of Omega 3’s. Most people are not aware that grazed cattle are also a consistent source, but it is found only in the fat or cream, not in lean meat or skim milk.
Here is the link:
February 17, 2009 Tuesday
I left Jeremiah in his stall today, which made us all sad. He called a few times when he saw Jasmine walk past as though to remind us that we had forgotten him but he soon settled down comfortably. He had a large loose box with no drafts and he is bedded with lots of hay. He has a little viewing window through which he and Jasmine can see each other and touch noses.
Sally and I went to Dixfield and bought the glass with which to repair the damaged sash that goes above the carriage house door. We also got black paint for the canes and a quart of pinky apricot paint for the wallboard panel with which the carpenters replaced the disused door formerly in the guest room. Sally is working on all these projects at once and making rapid progress. What joy to see these neglected areas come to life.
I made scallops sautéed with butter and herbs for supper. I served them with corn and roasted beets. I also started some no knead fruit bread using a recipe from the King Arthur flour newsletter. It includes black walnuts bought last fall from forum member Kendra (BasleeBackwoodsFarm).
February 18, 2009 Wednesday
It was down to zero again this morning but the sun shone brightly and much of the day it was 20˚. DD Sally worked outside a long time applying chicken wire to a gate that Willie has been squeezing through in order to go romp in the pasture with Bagel. There is more than a foot of snow everywhere but it had become hard and short legged Willie can run on it. The dogs want to go down to the bottom of Pocket Field and see if the woodchucks have waked up yet. Bagel is likely to loop back by the road and that is dangerous for both. Bagel is traffic savvy but has become very deaf and may not hear cars and Willie is not roadwise at all. At least this wandering can be interpreted as a sign of spring coming.
We believe we have invented that “better mousetrap”. Mice squeeze into the plastic bin that holds the black sunflower seeds for the bird feeder. Then they cannot get out. Willie hears them in there and sits by the bin. I open it and tip it to the side. He sees the mouse and has it faster than the speed of light. He gives it a shake and spits it out dead and covered in spit. I get to pick it up by the tail and fling it into orbit. Eeew!
There may be somebody interested in buying Jeremiah. I measured his height this evening according to instruction, ground to hip point. He is 43 ½ “. He has grown fast and steadily thanks to all the milk he could swipe. He was just weaned yesterday. He is almost 10 months old. I suppose he may get taller and then won’t qualify as a mini but he looks like a perfectly balanced little bull and so cute.
Friday, February 20, 2009 Jasmine and Jeremiah are doing fine living apart. Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons this morning in her tenth month of lactation OAD. She gets about 6 pounds of grain a day. When we have grass again I will scale it back. She currently has mineral from Countryside, red salt, and a vitamin E supplement.
DIL Mitra sent me some wonderful pictures of a flock of wild turkeys that came calling. There were 26.
She said “Our watch-cat, Smithers, made them leave. He didn't care that they were three times his size. He likes to eat birds. These were birds.
I made pumpkin soup for supper. DS Max came over and brought me my cow and chicken grain and helped us to eat the soup. He also repaired the faucet in the barn which was leaking inside my warming cupboard. Poor thing got badly sprayed in the process but it proved to be an easy repair: just tighten the fitting. What is especially appreciated, he analyzed why this happened so perhaps I can avoid it loosening again.
I will soon need to order another printing of KFC. I don’t have a full revision ready but will be able to make a few changes. I plan to include something about the alternative theory for the etiology of BSE (mad cow disease) as proposed by Mark Purdy.
February 21, 2009 Saturday
The weatherman told us to expect cloudy conditions and snow showers but instead we got a full day of sun and a cloudless night sky. Neither Sally nor I actually got outside much, sorry to say. She is still working the coal face up there in the playroom/attic trying to rationalize the masses of books, boxing up rejects. I noticed that Gore Vidal and Leon Uris didn’t make the cut. As for me, I am bonded to my computer most of the time.
I cooked one of the Annoying Roosters that Sally dressed off last month. I cut it into six parts and laid the pieces on a deep layer of cut up vegetables (carrots, leeks, rutabaga, celery), poured on a quart of chicken stock and assorted seasonings, covered it and put it in the Aga for about four hours. It came out tender and juicy. Sally made an apple crisp using fresh apples combined with a pint of preserved quince that I made last fall. Ooh, that was good with piles of whipped cream.
We are getting excited about the possibility of starting some turkeys, ducks and meat chickens. DD Marcia won’t be back from Florida until May but wants to help.
Last night I wrote a brief opinion piece for a local online paper. It was in response to a suggestion that we ease global warming by eating less meat, a now widely disseminated concept that is based on bad math flowing from a false premise.
Someone from Dixfield wrote: In case you haven’t already read them … Two magazine articles (Scientific American, February, Nathan Fiala, “The Greenhouse Hamburger” and Audubon, January-February, Mike Tidwell, “The Low-Carbon Diet”) published this month detail the real cost of eating meat. It results in a carbon footprint that is of the same order of magnitude as the total cost of all of our transportation modes combined! I was struck by the fact that the issue of our eating too much meat has not, as yet, entered into our national dialog about global warming. Certainly, we should continue to do as much as possible to improve our gas mileage, and develop alternative energy sources. We could also, however, achieve a huge benefit by simply cutting down on the amount of meat we eat each year! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if President Obama announced that as part of his encouraging us all to “Go Green,” he and his family are personally cutting down their weekly consumption of meat and that he hopes we will all follow his lead?
My response: Influential urbanites with no understanding of ruminant physiology provide this shallow analysis of the impact of meat eating on global warming. Note that they are always alluding to red meat (beef) in confined feeding situations. Cattle grazing on local grass powered by the sun, their natural diet, have a positive influence on CO2 balance. They sequester CO2 by the treading action of their feet exactly as did the buffalo that formerly roamed the plains building fertility which exists to this day. Any discussion of meat eating must include poultry, now the leading meat consumed worldwide and pigs, a close second, which consume more corn than do cattle. It takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of corn. The feed conversion rate of corn to chicken and corn to pork is superior to that of beef only because these animals have a digestive system well designed for corn. If required to live on grass they would die. The true efficiency of cattle, especially dairy cattle, exceeds that of any other domestic species.
February 22, 2009 Sunday
Sally continues to surge ahead with her painting and rearranging in the playroom. Many boxes now sit on the upstairs landing awaiting DS Max to carry them away. The room looks so amazingly much larger and brighter.
It was about 30˚ all day and the snow is becoming softer. Willie spends a lot of time sniffing out bones that he and Bagel have buried in snow banks. They give us a lot of entertainment with their mostly polite little bone disputes. They don’t fight but watch each other carefully. When one gets distracted from his bone the other moves right in to assume ownership.
All day the sky got lower and lower and finally towards evening it began to snow. We are told to expect 6 to 9 inches tonight.
February 23, 2009 Monday
Today was all about weather. We lost power at 1:30am. It snowed all night and the wind howled. Without electricity we have no furnace so this morning the house was cold. The wind had driven snow against all the windows so we could not see out much. It had a beautiful Christmas card look. Yesterday was warm enough to allow a dense fringe of icicles to form along the roof edge and last night they acquired a thick frosting of snow. It was no 6 to 9 inches. It was 2 feet of new snow, the most we have had in one storm this year. I made plans to milk by hand but dawdled around hoping the power would return which it did at 9am just as I was about to set out with my bucket. Sally and I were hard pressed to make it to the barn. At one point I lost my footing and the snow was so deep that I could not reach the ground with my arm.
I am so grateful to the men at Central Maine Power who worked all night with wind driven snow in their faces. We are among the more fortunate ones. I understand that there are still 145,000 in the state with no power tonight. Ted Flagg plowed out the dooryard around noon. DS Max had been planning to come over but had to stay home and create paths to their out buildings and to Sophie the Pig. I hope they took a picture of her.
Sally made a lovely cake using a recipe sent by DD Marcia. It is like a carrot cake but called for shredded butternut squash instead. She used whole wheat pastry flour and butter instead of oil.
I made meatloaf and fried rice and served some of the fresh sauerkraut that I started a couple of weeks ago. It is still too crispy but tastes and smells great.
It stopped snowing this morning but the high wind is still swirling around the house.
February 24, 2009 Tuesday
We still had wind today but it was brilliantly sunny. Many Mainers are still out of power.
I went to town and mailed books and did errands and generally spent money. I stopped at the library and borrowed the video of Pride and Prejudice. Also asked the library to get me the recent edition of The End of Food by Paul Roberts. I was greatly annoyed to discoverer that mere days after I bought the book Amazon offered a revised edition.
Jeremiah makes mournful sounds when Jasmine walks past his stall. Poor little guy.
February 25, 2009 Wednesday
First thing this morning it was back down to zero but under bright sun the temperature soon rose to 20˚. Sally even took a walk over to visit the little vacant house she owns across the river.
Max came over and helped us with a long list of chores. He restored my woodpile sufficient to last a week or two depending upon the weather. Using the Kubota, he made a nice roadway to the barn. And he carried about a dozen boxes of books downstairs from the playroom and then upstairs in the new carriage house where people can help themselves if they wish. Sally now has all the painting done and the furniture arranged and has created a charming space.
Every few years apparently in response to stress, I get hives. For the last few days I have been going nuts with red welts on my waist, armpits, etc. I fought back this morning with mega doses of everything likely to bolster one’s defenses and the hives left me alone all day but are back this evening. Cod liver oil was a miracle cure last time I had them but this time seems only able to reduce them by half. I may still have to roll in the snow (just kidding).
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning.
February 26, 2009 Thursday
My vet, Dr. Cooper, was here today to castrate and dehorn Jeremiah and help me put in the weaning device. I put a pan of grain down for Jeremiah and he barely noticed when the vet gave him the jab to lay him down. After that things did not go as smoothly as hoped. Dr. Cooper had not brought his big flashlight. My own rechargeable had been off its charger for a couple of weeks because I mislaid the cord so all we had was a small albeit bright flashlight. The vet’s cauterizing iron popped breakers so we had to find more extension cords. Jer had a nose clamp with a rope to a hind leg so didn’t move much during the procedures but the anesthetic was already beginning to fade. Dr. Cooper banded his scrotum first, before dehorning, because he was waiting for the iron to heat. By the time the horns were done Jeremiah was ready to stand but he kneeled down again while we attempted to put on the weaner ring. This was impossible without first removing the nose clamp and tie rope so we took that off. I was despairing at the prospect of more weeks or months of separation for weaning but Dr. Cooper grabbed Jer’s nose and got the ring on. That was a moment of triumph for sure. DD Sally gathered up all the tools and we left Jer to rest. He was scarcely bleeding at all.
We then had a quick lunch including an apple pie with pecan crumble topping that Sally whipped up this morning.
Later in the afternoon Jeremiah began bleeding a lot more. I don’t suppose there is a great volume in total and he is on his feet eating his hay and grain, but he sure looks a mess. I tried to put cotton balls on his head but he would not stand still for me.
Before I knew the vet was going to be in my area (his practice covers several counties) I started a new teleme cheese. I managed to fit the cheese making into some crevices in my day and now have it in the overnight soak in brine.
Jasmine gave three gallons today.
February 27, 2009 Friday
All day it was cloudy but warmer, about 30˚, and towards evening it began to drizzle.
Jeremiah’s bleeding stopped during the night. Both sides of his face were covered with dried blood but he was standing and alert. After milking, I turned him out with Jasmine. He immediately became cheerful and almost bouncy. Later in the morning DD Sally saw them both standing outdoors chewing their cuds so I don’t believe I need to worry about him. The green nose ring is staying in.
Sally saw the humor in this somewhat sooner than I did:
This morning I was standing near her when I put on my glasses. Everything remained fuzzy! My left eye is permanently fogged with macular degeneration so when I could not see with the right I was shocked, but I thought it might help to clean my glasses. That’s when I put my finger right through the frame. The lense had fallen out. Fortunately I have another pair but I think it must be time to go back to Rite Aid for some extra pairs.
Jasmine was down a quart today, 2 ¾ gallons. I believe she spent a lot of time yesterday worrying about Jeremiah. She was watching the vet through her little viewing window.
February 28, 2009 Saturday
Sigh… Jeremiah lost no time in figuring out how to nurse while wearing the green plastic mustache. Jasmine had only 1 ½ gallons of milk this morning, half of her usual amount. I don’t actually begrudge him the milk especially right now while he is mending from horn surgery and blood loss. However, I could tell that Jas was holding up her milk. Milking the cow and washing the machine for the sake of 1 ½ gallons of skim milk won’t do. DD Sally suggests we go back to overnight separation which I will do starting tomorrow.
It was a brilliantly sunny day. Last night’s rain on hard packed snow made for extremely dangerous conditions on my driveway and parking area. I spread ashes but had some near misses with slipping. Kelly J’s mom was here for her milk and told me that she had slipped recently on her steps and knocked herself unconscious for how long she does not know. There have been several reports in the paper of similar accidents and after today there will likely be more.
DS Mark and his wife Ann, our 4th year medical students, were able to come up this afternoon for a family dinner. They brought me two lovely loaves of artisanal bread from Portland, two nice bottles of wine, a spiffy red blazer from Goodwill and a highly welcome bag of pens and markers; med students are showered with these items and here at the farm Sally and I were beginning to swipe pens from each other, in fact hardly dared lay one down.
Max, Mitra and the girls also joined us for dinner. Shireen had the flu all last week but is pretty well recovered.
I served California style pot roast (simmered in tomato sauce and various goodies, recipe in the Grassfed Gourmet), brown rice pilaf and a vegetable medley. Mitra brought a delicious green salad and Sally made a chocolate cake.
To their delight, Mark and Ann both have their April rotations at the hospital in Farmington, 45 minutes away from me and 10 minutes from Max and Mitra. Mitra’s mom has generously offered them her currently vacant condo in Farmington to stay in. It will be fun having them in the neighborhood.
I am a trifle superstitious about mentioning this, but Sally wants the world to know how pleased we are at the continued success of results of the GSE (grapefruit seed extract) in treating Jasmine’s persistent low grade mastitis. I added a 1 oz bottle of extract to 8 oz of veg oil and have been rubbing some into her quarter twice a day.
March 01, 2009 Sunday
Jeremiah did not nurse yesterday or last night so I left them together. He is eating his hay and grain just fine but has a worried look and is shy. Jasmine has him all cleaned up. She gave 2 ¾ gallons this morning.
It was cold again today, down to zero. The day was partly sunny. When the sun comes out it is blindingly bright. The driveway remains icy.
One of our neighbors brought me a quart of milk from her goat. She does not like goat’s milk nor any of the products made therefrom. This is puzzling to Sally and me. The milk seemed to us to be flawless.
DS Martin and his family stopped in for supper on their way home from visiting friends at Saddleback Mountain ski area. We made chicken soup. I had plenty left of the bread that Mark and Ann brought yesterday. They had some butterscotch bars that Amy had made. These I warmed up and served with whipped cream. Hannah, almost 3 and Henry, almost 1, ate lots of soup but first Henry had to nurse.
We all went upstairs to admire the playroom that Sally has fixed up so charmingly. Hannah loved it. It has two corners devoted to toys. She danced around the room and then settled down to arrange the Fisher Price houses and barns into a village.
March 02, 2009 Monday
Another bad storm was predicted for last night. We did get some high winds and new snow but not more than about 4” or maybe 6”. Sally filled four five gallon containers with water in case we happened to lose power. Ted Flagg plowed but it didn’t take him long.
Jeremiah had not nursed but Jasmine was touchy and almost kicked this morning. I found a scrape on one teat that must have hurt. Since no milk was missing I conjecture that the spiky nose ring made her kick him off, which is what the device is designed to cause, but then he hung on and scraped her teat. I can’t have this happening so have Jer back in his stall.
The milk was a little slow to strain. Maybe Jasmine was stressed.
Sally and I ate leftovers today.
March 04, 2009 Wednesday
On Tuesday Sally and I went to Farmington. We went to the Farmer’s Union and picked up farm supplies, to the Better Living Center (health food store), and met Mitra for lunch. The conversation at lunch was mostly about pigs. She is worried that her Sophie isn’t bred. But it looks like Helen is. The day was brilliantly sunny.
On Tuesday, Jasmine gave 3 gallons but I was not satisfied with the appearance of the milk filter so have lost some confidence in GSE (grapefruit seed oil). I picked up eucalyptus oil, comfrey oil, oil or oregano and probably something else. I put them all into her emolument in the evening.
This morning the filter was clear although the last two cups of milk were slow to strain. Jas gave 3 gallons so there can’t be too much wrong with her. Maybe the oil blend helped. Maybe not.
Jeremiah was not his old perky self this morning There was some seepage from his horn sites and I did not quite like the way he was standing. He was chewing his cud and eating and drinking, but not with his old enthusiasm. This evening he looked a lot better and for the first time let me rub his neck and play with his collar.
My best news today was that DS Martin sent over a plumber to work on my waste water drain. For months it has been backing up in the cellar enough to create a rivulet across the floor to the sump and smelling – well everybody knows how that smells. I felt defeated by the prospect of dealing with it. This morning Roger from AAA Plumbing in New Sharon came with is auger and ran it down the system. It took a lot of lengths of auger, about 70 feet I think, but he reached the blockage and got it running properly. I had the whole septic system replaced and a new leach field five year ago. Roger thought that displacement due to frost heave had occurred where the new pipe joined the old. He advises having it dug up next summer.
I fixed sautéed scallops for supper and Sally made a blueberry pie. She had been making lots of lard and we now have plenty to give away.
March 05, 2009 Thursday
It was about zero this morning but the sun was brilliant and it soon warmed up to 20˚.
There were some flecks on the milk filter this morning so I cannot proclaim a cure such as I got 2 years ago feeding comfrey by the armload to Helen. I will try to chase down Claire’s homeopathic drops. I have never tried that.
There was no least sign of heat today. It has been 21 days but Jasmine often goes longer. Jeremiah seems fine now. His horn sites look dried up.
Max came over and cut and split wood for a couple of hours. I was about down to bark and twigs. Later Sally and I went to Rumford to the library and for groceries. DS Mark and his wife Ann and daughter Hailey will be here this weekend, also Max, Mitra and family for a Saturday dinner, so we are stocking up. Max and Mitra gave me one of their pork roasts so that’s what we will be having.
March 06, 2009 Friday
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons of milk. It strained perfectly. There was one tiny fleck on the filter. The only thing I did differently was to use more of my oil brew on her udder, rub it in longer and get it way inside her flank. She showed no evidence of heat. Jeremiah has lost some weight but is otherwise fine. Sally sawed his viewing window a bit bigger so that he can get more of his face through and lick up the mineral that I set out for him on the beam outside it. I have started to give them both some alfalfa cubes.
Yesterday Max was uncertain whether Sophie, their gilt showed any hint of heat but if any, it was almost undetectable. Unfortunately today Mitra reported that Helen was bellowing and trying to mount. This is depressing.
This afternoon I made a maple sugar loaf cake from a very old farm cookbook. It called for a cup of sour cream and a cup of maple sugar. I used ½ cup of maple sugar and ½ cup of brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of ground fenugreek. It had a satisfactory maple flavor. Fenugreek gives a good maple flavor. Another time I will use all brown sugar and 1 tsp of fenugreek or maybe a little more. This was a super easy cake.
March 08, 2009 Sunday
All through Friday night the wind blew violently. Both Sally and I were kept awake by rattling windows. This wind sucked in warmer air from somewhere. On Saturday, sun and temperatures above 30F led to extensive melting which has continued through last night and today. Amazingly, where my dooryard was a challenging sheet of rough ice, it is now mud and dead grass. In this, white curly haired Willie Dog rolled.
For two days Jasmine has given 2 ¾ gallons of perfect milk. I am continuing the twice a day udder rub of essential oils of tea tree, comfrey, oregano, rosemary, grapefruit seed and vitamin E. Who knows which of these – or none – is aiding healing.
Yesterday (Saturday) Mitra became seriously ill with the flu. Max was out of town on his job so she had to drive Roshan to soccer (where she scored). She then milked Helen before going down for the count with a fever of 103˚. The girls were a big help. Max arrived home mid afternoon, did chores, and then brought the girls over here to join DS Mark and Ann and granddaughter Hailey for supper with Sally and me. I made a pork roast (one of Max and Mitra’s), with which I served mashed potatoes, golden cauliflower, and cabbage slaw with homemade mayo. By the time he was ready to leave for home, Max was feeling unwell and this morning reported that he too has the flu.
Joann and Hailey watching the ice fishermen from Martin and Amy’s deck at camp.
This morning Mark, Ann, Hailey and I went up to Weld and stood around on DS Martin and Amy’s camp porch to admire the view. As happened last time I was there, two pickup trucks sped by on the lake raising great rooster tails in the slushy ice on the way to their fishing shacks. Mark, the med student, conjectures that the drivers suffer from an under-developed anterior lateral cortex.
Regarding the flu, dreaded by all, Ann, also a med student and doing her current rotation in ER, says all they are able to do is start an IV and rehydrate the victim.
March 09, 2009 Monday
Mitra continues very ill. Max reported that they both had a bad night. They kept Shireen, 13, home from school to help out. This in itself is evidence of how sick they are for Shireen has a perfect attendance record which she has so far defended. This afternoon Max wrote that he was picking up a cough prescription faxed in by Mitra’s doctor. When I called their home I was able to speak with Roshan, 10. She said her mom’s temperature was 103.4F but Max has so far refused to take his own temperature. He wrote that he was going out to milk Helen. He has not written again so I expect that he lay down afterwards.
I can’t go to visit them because Mark accidentally pocketed my car keys after our drive to Weld; my second set disappeared somewhere last week. Mark said the keys will arrive by special carrier tomorrow at 3pm. Don’t worry, I’ll be here, I said.
Sally and I are plying ourselves with all the health supporting foods we can think of. Last night and tonight Sally served chicken broth with chopped raw garlic and ginger. I roasted some beets. We are both drinking something fruity Sal is making in the blender with apples, citrus fruit and raw honey given me last summer by cousins Holly and Richard from their bees. The citrus is sent to us by my daughter Marcia in Florida. So far we feel fine.
Sally made three highly professional looking loaves of potato bread.
Sally and I are also making time for our annual ritual of watching Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
March 10, 2009 Tuesday
View of my garden shed with the Webb River in the background.
The thermometer read 10˚ this morning but the sun came out and it soon got up to 20˚, then finally to 40˚. It felt very spring like. Before I came in from milking (Sally does the straining) I made my way down to my veg garden for the first time all winter and had a look around. I could not tell if my young quince tree has suffered much but I noted that the Balm of Gilead leaf buds are looking shiny. Soon it will be time to pick off a jar full and soak them in olive oil.
Jasmine spent a lot of time standing in the sun. She gave 2 ½ gallons of perfect milk. I assume she is giving less due to my cutting back on her grain and substituting alfalfa cubes. However, since she gave no evidence of heat I think it probable that she is bred. That could account for a drop in production.
Sally and I brought out the patio furniture and drank tea on the deck, now clear of snow. Such a treat. The dogs are having great fun tugging at bones as they emerge from patches of ice.
Max and Mitra continue very sick. Mitra’s fever was down this morning but rose by evening. Both she and Max are coughing and feeling weak. Dear Shireen had to go to school today for a math test but did evening chores together with Roshan and Shireen fixed dinner. Max tells me that Mitra has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.
March 11, 2009 Wednesday
It began snowing in the night and then changed to sleet. I heard the faithful road crew go by with the sander in the black predawn. Sleet continued until about noon.
DS Max and Mitra were in the emergency room at 5:30am. Both have bad coughs. Mitra had an Xray confirming pneumonia in her left lung and is now on an antibiotic. Both got inhalers and Tylenol with codeine. I wish I could help them. Shireen and Roshan are little troopers and are doing the cooking and most of the animal chores. I didn’t speak today with Mitra but Max sounded exhausted.
Sally took the dogs for a walk this afternoon down by the river. They both ran across on the treacherous ice, Willie following Bagel, and would not come when called. Willie would not have gone over alone. When they finally came back Sally scolded them severely.
So far Sal and I have not gotten sick. We continue to pound down Sally’s power drink. This morning it included ground up apples, grapefruit, raw cider, raw honey, and we each add our own nutritional yeast and vitamin C “to taste”. This is followed by cod liver oil and fish liver oil. We are putting raw garlic and raw ginger into everything including daily chicken soup. I don’t know how much credit to give this regimen for fending off the flu but we both agreed that we are waking up energetic so perhaps we are onto something.
We dedicated an hour this afternoon to watching the last of six reels of Pride and Prejudice. We wished it would never end. I just reread the book and Sally is reading it now. In the book, Jane Austen did that charming thing, no longer done in novels, of dedicating the last few pages to telling you something of our little heroine’s future family life. The movie of course leaves that out.
Jasmine gave three gallons of perfect milk. She has gone back to letting down well now that she and Jeremiah are apart. I am continuing the herbal oil rub.
March 12, 2009 Thursday
Sal and I spent most of the day getting ready for company. My son Bret from Fairbanks, AK has now arrived for a dew days. He arrived about 6 and we were soon chatting about old friends and eating cheese and biscuits. Sally made duck fat biscuits from my new cookbook, FAT, by Jennifer McLagan. I highly recommend them. The cheese was a teleme I started 12 days ago. It is a rather soft cheese that ages briefly in brine. Everybody liked it but I am still not quite satisfied with the texture. It crumbles instead of slicing properly.
Poor Jeremiah wearing his nose ring.
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons of perfect milk. Jeremiah is his old friendly self. He brings his head right up close for scratching.
A strong cold wind blew all day, making for slippery conditions. Upon arrival, Bret immediately fell down but he bounced right up.
Max and Mitra feel that they have turned the corner with their illness. Mitra and I chatted for about 15 minutes. They both feel exhausted and have no appetite but the muscle pain is a lot less. Mitra gives the credit for her improvement to the antibiotic she is taking, Zithromax. Bret says she should be taking Zithro-mitra and give the Zithro-max to her husband.
March 13, 2009 Friday
It was warmish today, around 20˚, with lots of sun. Jasmine gave barely 2 ½ gallons. Lately her milk has been perfect from all four quarters. Her disposition is perfectly sweet. Jeremiah is also in a good mood. When I feed him I just have to say “Back” a few times and he steps back from his pan while I pour.
Elements of last Saturday night’s dinner.
Later, Sally’s daughter Rosemary and her son Gabe arrived for a little visit. Rosie has been invited back to the McDowell Colony in New Hampshire this year and Gabe drove out during his spring break from teaching in Bloomington. Gabe is the one who was recently in Kazakhstan. It is such fun having them all here. I made a steak and kidney pie for supper and Sally made a mixed berry crisp. She also made bread again. Everything was delicious.
For the steak and kidney pie I made a beef suet crust. I ground the suet in my Cuisinart. It comes out like fluffy snow.
Max is beginning to feel better although still tired. Mitra also continues to improve and continues to cough a lot. I did not speak with her today.
March 14, 2009 Saturday
This morning started out at zero degrees but soon warmed up to become one of the finest days so far this spring. Jasmine’s production was back up to almost 3 gallons again this morning.
At 9am I put a rump roast in the lowest temperature Aga oven that runs about 175˚. I first frizzled a handful of little pieces of beef suet in my big cast iron skillet and laid it on this. Then I mashed garlic and fresh rosemary from my houseplant in the mortar and pestle with salt and olive oil and poured this on the meat. It cooked covered all day until 6pm and turned out perfectly, just as tender and juicy as one could wish. So often a rump roast is tough and dry. This one had excellent flavor, like all of our home reared Jersey beef. I am so pleased with it. Martin and Amy and the kids joined us for dinner. We also had squash and corn from my garden last summer and a green salad brought by Amy. Sally once again made the butternut squash cake.
Earlier in the day Martin was here and took Hannah to the barn to see Jasmine. He noticed that there was nasty oozing from the site of Jeremiah’s left horn. I called Doctor Cooper. He offered to come over but doubted that it was an emergency. He promised to come right over if Jeremiah acts sick but so far he does not. The wound does not smell at all. We put him out with Jasmine so that she could attend to him and they could stand in the sun. They both frisked about.
Rosemary and Gabe, Sally’s kids, took a winter walk at Weld. They wanted to climb Tumbledown but the road to the base of the trail was not plowed. They settled for Center Hill. When they got home Rosie gave Willie dog a bath, after which he was white and fluffy again.
Rosie also made a chocolate Guinness cake for tomorrow.
March 15, 2009 Sunday
The sun shone all day.
Jasmine gave barely 2 ½ gallons. Jeremiah had obviously helped himself yesterday. I forgot her herbal rub last night and the milk from her bad quarter tasted the faintest bit salty. I put Jeremiah back with her this morning. It looks a bit damp around his left horn site but he shows no hint of illness. He was quite frisky.
Rosemary and Gabe went off again to climb Tumbledown and this time found the trail. They took the Pond Trail that comes up over Little Jackson and came down by the Brook Trail. They discovered that if yesterday they had walked on just a little farther past the cemetery they would have reached it. They were gone about 5 hours.
After working most of the day on talks he must give in Alaska later this week, son Bret went up to Weld and joined Martin for kite skating on the lake. I have not seen this done, only heard them describing it. Martin has these big sail-like kites that pull you along on the ice. I have seen people doing much the same thing with surf boards in Hawaii.
Sally fixed dinner for our small group. She has been saving some frozen shrimp and served them with a sauce that my father devised many years ago for artichokes. It is one part soy sauce and 2 parts melted butter. When my daughter Marcia makes it she adds nutritional yeast. My sister adds mayonnaise. Sometimes I add both. It was perfect for the shrimp.
March 16, 2009 Monday
We had to part with granddaughter Rosemary today. Sally and Rosemary’s brother Gabe drove her to Auburn to pick up a rental car and she drove back to New Hampshire. Afterward Gabe took a very long walk with Willie. They saw a big red fox in the woods. Willie would have loved to chase it but his legs are too short in the deep snow. Willie was so tired he barely moved the reset of the day.
Bret tried out his Power Point talk on Sally and me. Actually, it is two talks. One is on sustainability, the other on organic food.
Max, who is feeling rather better, came and brought alfalfa cubes and dog food that we needed. Then he and Bret and Gabe all went up to Weld and walked in to my daughter Marcia’s camp to check on things. Marcia phoned me while they were gone and said, “I wish people would tell me when they are going to my place so I can make requests. I wanted the Love Song Book.” She is about to start recorder lessons. So the guys went back, this time without Max who had to go home, and fetched it for her. They saw a lot of deer. The deer are hungry and have nibbled off the blueberry bushes along the lake. The guys sat and watched the sunset. They could also see deer on the point by East Brook. Back home, they called Marcia. She was not charmed by the reports of deer. She said, “Have they eaten my rose bushes?” But that is not something that Bret and Gabe noticed.
I made a tasty dinner with roast chicken (one of Max and Mitra’s), brown rice cooked in chicken stock, gingered carrots with Seville orange juice (Marcia sent the oranges from Florida), and cole slaw. Everyone ate lots. Sally made a gooseberry and dried apricot pie. It was excellent. Bret has to leave tomorrow and Gabe soon. There will then be less talk of food.
This evening Bret set up his laptop so that we could watch my new DVD of Bob Dylan at Newport. I got it for renewing my PBS membership but have no player.
Jeremiah is doing well out with Jasmine. For three days he has not nursed. I suppose the nose ring is making its point (pun intended). His horn scar is looking better. Jasmine gave almost three gallons of perfect milk. She is letting down just fine.
The weather today was beautiful.
March 17, 2009 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons. Ever since I began giving her alfalfa cubes, she belches mercilessly while in her stanchion which bounces the machine like crazy and this morning pulled loose a hose causing vacuum loss. It took me a while to diagnose and repair the problem and we lost some let-down time. Otherwise I think she would have given a bit more. The flavor of the milk from her right rear quarter was perfect. And so was the straining. For the last 2 ½ days the oil rub I’m using has contained only grapefruit seed oil. It may be that the other oils weren’t doing much. Or there may be some other explanation. This is not very scientific but something is working. Her quarter looks and feels perfect.
Bret had to return today to AK. I sent him off with frozen meat and also packed travel food, homemade bread with chicken and cheese sandwiches. He had a rental car and took a detour en route to visit Max and Mitra’s place.
Sally and Gabe took a scenic tour to Rangeley and back through Kingfield. Sally had never seen Kingfield. It is a well preserved New England town surrounded by an active farming community. Sally reports having a delicious Reuben sandwich at The Orange Cat café. Gabe loved his chicken sandwich with a cucumber salad. Sally now plans to take me and Mitra for lunch there soon. Kingfield is about 20 minutes from Farmington and you pass tempting antique stores on the way.
While they were gone, my vet came by to make sure that Jeremiah was perfectly well. He was satisfied with his healing. He agreed that putting him back with Jasmine where she could tend to him was a good remedy but left some Neosporin powder just in case. I gave him a quick lunch of pork stew (from the freezer), sautéed cabbage with red bell pepper and some of last night’s gooseberry pie.
March 18, 2009 Wednesday
Jasmine seems in fine shape. She gave 3 gallons this morning. Jeremiah is also looking well although his recent ordeal has caused him to lose a little weight.
My grandson Gabe left here today loaded with goodies prepared by his mother. He is stopping over tonight with his sister Rosemary at her retreat in NH, the McDowell Colony. They are not supposed to have guests so they are eating in her studio. He will drive on to Bloomington tomorrow.
I tried calling Max and Mitra but learned only that Mitra is still coughing a lot at night. They were racing off to what Max described as “Parental torture treatment”, an evening on hard bleachers listening to all the young music students perform. I presume this included Shireen on her viola and Roshan on her cello. Let us hope it turned out to be fun after all.
It rained all day.
March 20, 2009 Friday -Vernal Equinox
A curious thing happened with my car. Sally started out with some boxes to mail in town and we both noticed that it was making an alarming noise, a sort of grinding from the general location of the right front wheel, a problem which was not there when I last drove it. So she parked the car and we waited for Max who was coming to help with tasks we can’t do very well. I asked him to convoy with me to take my car to the garage in Weld. About two miles from home I realized that the noise was gone so I pulled over and asked for his opinion. He did a little test drive and agreed that it’s not that I’m deaf, the noise was really gone. We had a day of rain since last I drove the car, it turned cold again and the car was parked outside. All we can figure is that something was frozen, which would account for the mystery of trouble arising while the car was parked.
Max helped me with copying files and then completed work on a nice new work bench in the carriage house. Gabe had hoped to do it but mostly assembled the materials. Sally has created a new area for the tools, made shelves and sorted things.
Roshan is now sick with the flu, just when the rest of Max’s family is recovering. We so hoped she would escape. She has a fever of 103˚
Mark and his wife Ann, our medical students, are celebrating the fact that they got the hospital which was their first choice for their internships, Maine Medical Center in Portland, both of them together, in their chosen specialty, Family Practice. We are all so pleased.
Sally made us a gala dessert tonight. She cooked and strained raspberries and set the juice with Knox’s gelatin. Of course we buried it in whipped cream.
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons this morning of perfect milk. This evening I noticed that Jeremiah had been helping himself. I saw no injuries but will inspect again in the morning light.
March 21, 2009 Saturday
It was nearly down to zero at daybreak but the sun shone brightly and before the day was over it rose nearly to 30˚. I expect Max’s taps ran well. The maple trees like cold nights and sunny days.
Today for the first time this year when I opened the outer chicken room door of their run, which I do every day that it is not stormy, they all went outside to peck around. Their run is still half snow but they hopped over to the bare dirt and seemed pleased. The five “rafter birds” that live free have been coming as far as the house for a week. They are more adventuresome.
DD Sally is continuing her work to improve the tool and workbench arrangements in the new carriage house. The buttery is now cleared of most clutter and looks three times as spacious.
March 22, 2009 Sunday
The day began around 20˚ but cloudy. We took the dogs with us for a walk along the river. The ice is all gone. The dogs ran off and ignored our calling. Back at the house, we scanned the fields repeatedly and finally saw Willie’s wagging tail just showing from a gully at the edge of the river. There is probably a muskrat hole there. Sally finally went down and fetched them home on ropes. Bagel looked apologetic and contrite. Ha! Willie just looked bouncy.
While she walked home it suddenly started to snow and for about 15 minutes we had blizzard conditions. Then the sun came out.
While Sally was putting more suet in the bird feeder which was surrounded by starlings, there came a great flapping of larger wings and a great scattering of birds. Some kind of hawk was diving among them, ignoring Sally. She saw little of its markings but the underside was stripey and she estimated the wing span as 18”.
For supper I made teriyaki beef with round steak. It was really good. Ideally, one should try to sliver the meat while it is partially frozen so it slices neatly. I marinated it with garlic, pepper, ginger, soy sauce, olive oil and toasted sesame oil. It cooks in about 4 minutes.
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons. Jeremiah has lost some weight so I have increased his grain from about two cupfuls to about two pounds.
March 23, 2009 Monday
It isn’t spring yet. It was down to about 6˚ this morning with a bitter wind. I doubt much sap ran even though there was considerable sun.
Last Friday night I forgot to put the grapefruit seed oil rub on Jasmine and the next morning the milk from her chronically troubled quarter went from perfect back to tasting a bit off and on Sunday it strained slowly. I apply this rub twice a day. This morning there were some tiny lumps on the filter but it strained perfectly. Volume is apparently not affected.
We had a visit today from Sean Minear, a teacher who lives in nearby Weld. He teaches a food course in the high school in Farmington. The students asked for a unit on local and sustainable food. They are calling the unit Close to Home. Many local foods, especially cheeses, are to be featured at their Thursday buffet. We gave him a pint of Sally’s superb feta marinated in olive oil with rosemary and red pepper flakes. I also sold him a dozen of our lovely multi colored eggs and sent along a copy of KFC and some of my biz cards to set out.
March 24, 2009 Tuesday
Cold sun today but some snow melted. Sally and I took a stroll around the lawn walking about half on snow and half on dead lawn. I knelt down by the goldfish pond and found that the daffodils are up ½ “. This was wonderfully encouraging. We sat on the granite benches by the pool. They had been quite warmed by the sun. Sally had the loppers with her and pruned everything she could reach without standing up.
Mitra took both kids to the pediatrician. Their lungs are clear. His only suggestion was for them to keep up the fluids and ride this thing out.
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons.
March 25, 2009 Wednesday
This was a beautiful day. Sally and I spent a lot of time outdoors. We took a walk in her field and looked for signs of spring. I ate checkerberries newly emerged from the snow. Here at the farm, we sat out on the deck and drank tea. It was over 40˚ with clear skies and no wind. I called it my summer vacation. When it is really summer I am too busy to sit and besides, there are usually too many mosquitoes.
Jasmine and Jeremiah stood out in the barnyard to chew their cuds. That is always the warmest place. It is a real suntrap. The chickens are spending a lot of time outdoors. Some even found a place dry enough for dusting. Unfortunately, the prediction is for colder weather and even snow this weekend.
Writing about the chickens reminded me that at evening chores they were still all outside so I couldn’t close them in. Oops. Now I have to go out with a flashlight.
Max says that his girls, Shireen and Roshan, are still coughing a lot and Mitra also.
Sally made a big pot of beef broth today and two loaves of bread.
March 26, 2009 Thursday
This was another mild day with lots of sun. Sally spent hours assaulting the infestation of bittersweet vine that is trying to take over along the road and river. It is a non native plant that strangles trees of any size and is related to poison ivy. It has beautiful fall berries that people use in decorations. Birds eat it in late winter if nothing else is available. We take the brush to the dump for disposal.
The cows got spring fever today. There is enough bare ground now to permit running and jumping. This is a funny sight in a dairy cow. Sally was on the deck when they commenced and she ran to fetch me so I could watch the antics. Jasmine eventually settled down and began grazing on dead dry grass, I suppose just for the satisfaction of grazing. This morning she gave over 3 gallons of perfect milk.
I started another teleme cheese.
March 27, 2009 Friday
It was another fine day. Sally and I drank tea and coffee on the deck. What did I see but Jasmine eating twigs off of the wild cherry tree that the carpenters felled in the paddock because it was too close to the building! Sally said she saw Jasmine and Jeremiah both eating twigs yesterday but did not attach significance to it. I had not worried about it at all because never have the cows chosen to eat any wild cherry although it is in all the hedgerows. But I suppose that right now with nothing growing the tips are appealing even though they are just leafless twigs. Dear Sally shooed the cows away and spent the rest of the afternoon removing the brush, a big job. A lot of it she sawed with the handsaw to make it manageable.
She also picked up a bazillion nails. I am less worried about them at present because there is no grazing. Cows don’t eat nails on purpose but only when they are caught up in mouthfuls of grass. Max is coming over tomorrow and offered to run the rolling magnet around. He will also pick up a magnet for Jasmine at Farmer’s Union. I will wait to put it down her throat until I am able to check with Sally McD as to whether she already has one.
The floor of the carriage house has been covered with an inch or two of ice formed from snow that arrived before there were walls and a roof. This has become ugly and dirty from ashes that I spread but until today was too hard to break up with the ice chisel. This is a steel shaft 6’ long with the bottom formed into a chisel. You lift it up and wham it down to break the ice. I find it lots of fun to use, although tiring. We both spent time breaking and shoveling the ice sheet and the place looks a lot better.
I took advantage of the new work bench as a potting bench and planted seeds of Danish ballhead cabbage, Brussels sprouts and African marigolds.
I overlooked one step in my teleme cheese so hope it turns ok. It has to sit in brine now for 10 days.
Jasmine have 2 ½ gallons this morning of perfect milk.
Max says that he thinks Roshan is a little better. They have been having terrible nights with coughing and fever.
March 28, 2009 Saturday
The weather today was even finer than yesterday. It was over 40˚ all day. Sally and I drank our early morning tea out on the deck, albeit wearing wool shawls.
I heard back from Sally McD that Jasmine has a magnet. I took my compass out to see if it would react when held against her side but neither Sally nor I could see anything definitive. It is a good compass - that I know. I have not tried the compass trick before so perhaps I don’t know what to look for, exactly. Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons of perfect milk.
Max was here most of the day helping out. He brought his chainsaw and cut up and removed the cherry tree trunk that Sally could not deal with yesterday. The cows were even eating its coarse bark. Then he and Sally carried all the brush to the river bank and tossed it over the guard rail. The river continues to scour the bank. I have lost a great deal of it due to logging practices and brush helps with erosion control. Max pushed the rolling magnet behind the carriage house and picked up nearly half a bucket of nails and other metal objects. The device goes “ping” every time it grabs a nail.
Sally also repotted my “Dr. Seuss plant”, as Max calls it. I can’t remember what the thing really is, tapioca maybe? It has a skinny wobbly looking trunk about 5’ long with a burst of spiny leaves at the top. She also started a new batch of sauerkraut according the instructions of Sandor Felix Katz in Wild Fermentation. She also made a blueberry pie to feed Max and send home with him to cheer Roshan. I made braised brisket with risotto.
March 29, 2009 Sunday
Max came back, this time with Shireen, and took two truckloads of trash to the dump. What joy! I was hating the appearance of the “trash department” in the carriage house.
For lunch we served hamburgers on slices of Sally’s bread accompanied by red onion, zucchini relish, dilly beans and of course ketchup. The home reared ground beef does not have that dead taste.
Later Sally made a pumpkin pie. I made soup with assorted leftovers. I thought it was pretty good.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons of perfect milk. I kept Jeremiah in because when I washed her udder this morning she waved her dainty little foot around, like “Ouch!” Inspection revealed a little cut caused by Jeremiah yesterday. It did not appear that he got any milk. I expect she kicks him off, but not before he chomps down.
It rained all day.
March 30, 2009 Monday
Jasmine gave about 2 ½ gallons. There were again lumps on the filter. Tonight I put vitamin C on her grain and used the cayenne rub in addition to oil infused with grapefruit seed oil and comfrey oil. I suppose with only milking OAD we won’t entirely get the best of this mastitis at least until the comfrey is up. Two years ago I completely cured Helen with comfrey but it took armloads, which I always have in summer.
No rain today, but very overcast. The river has come way up. It was about 40˚.
We had planned to meet Mitra for lunch nn Farmington but Roshan was still too ill to be left. Mitra took her to see her doctor. He said her lungs were clear but the way her fever and cough persist, it sounds like walking pneumonia. I was once hospitalized for that and my cough was light and dry whereas Roshan’s is a shrieking cough like whooping cough. The doc also prescribed an antibiotic, Zythromyacin.
Martin came with the balance of the siding for the carriage house. He did lots of things around here before going up to camp to work on his plumbing. He took Bagel along as a treat. Bagel adores riding in trucks especially to the lake. He brought us two carboys of nice water from their well. We now plan to meet Mitra tomorrow. She has found a new place to eat lunch recommended by Janet, 2ndChance. We are really tired of the Homestead Bakery where we always go.
I have a cat, Stanley, now about a year old. We put his little bell back on (I had removed it for the winter), as the birds are returning and he hunts. He wants desperately to be a housecat but I can’t allow it because of his disgusting habit of sneezing. I keep a dish of food for him on the cellar stairs and he now spends a lot of time down there where his bell can be faintly heard, “Like an unclean spirit”, as Sally puts it. At least he has thinned out the mice.
I made peanut butter soup for dinner, one of my favorites. It has a lot of vegetables in a peanut butter broth.
March 31, 2009 Tuesday
Sally and I went to Farmington, shopped, and had lunch with Mitra at the new place. It is small and the service was good. We all ordered seafood and thought it was very satisfactory. So I expect we will go back. The weather was fine and warm. Everywhere we went people were rejoicing. In typical New England fashion, I don’t trust it but will enjoy it while it lasts.
This morning Jasmine gave 3 gallons but there were some lumps on the filter. I am still keeping Jeremiah in his stall, poor guy. Jasmine’s cuts are still well in evidence. In order not to be far from him, Jasmine stays inside when she should be out in the sun and poops the place up. Sally is the “housekeeper” and has registered a complaint. I must get a picture of the manure pile she has built behind the barn. It has reached a prodigious height.
April 01, 2009 Wednesday
The weather today was mild and overcast. It was 10˚ at daybreak but made it up to 40˚. There were lumps again on the milk filter but the flavor was fine. So puzzling. I do a lot of stripping. Today she gave over 2 ½ gallons. I piled on a lot more supplements.
Yesterday on the way home the car was making a constant chafing noise in the right front wheel. This morning I ran it up to Mike in Weld. He said the brakes are fine. He thought it was the dust plate over the brake assembly. He bent it back a bit. I think that must have been the correct diagnosis as on the way home it made a slightly different noise from the same place. In any case, the brakes are fine which is good news because I have to drive Sally to Auburn on Friday.
I prowled around my veg garden to see if anything was coming up. Some of the ground is well thawed but sadly, not the parsnips. Sally is hungry for them.
I made Coq au Vin for our dinner. I don’t recall ever making it before. It is best made with a “mature” bird of which I have several in the freezer. There are several stages to the prep, sautéing, simmering in wine, sautéing mushrooms and adding them towards the end, and quite a few ingredients. Mostly it is just simmers along. It certainly is a tasty thing to do with an “annoying rooster”, as Max calls them. This rooster was young but huge. The meat looked more like pheasant.
April 02, 2009 Thursday
Lovely weather today. The carpenter crew came back to put up the siding that Martin delivered on Monday. They were the same jolly crew. Sally made a fine apple pie just in time to serve them before they left at 4pm. This is her last day. I take her tomorrow to start the first leg of her complex journey.
She and I took a tour of the North Field to get an idea of how much fencing will be required before I can let the cows out there. I am still keeping Jeremiah in because the scabs are not off of the cuts on her teat. I know she would not wander without him. But it looks like I will have to get about 200 yards of new fence, at least, and a bunch of new posts before they can go out together. Not that there is any grazing.
It was so warm today, 50˚ in the afternoon, that the soil defrosted in the parsnip patch. I was able to dig plenty for our dinner and my, were they good.
April 03, 2009 Friday
Today started cool and overcast. Jasmine gave over 3 gallons of perfect milk. I have been top dressing her grain with about 10 grams of vitamin C, 2000usp vitamin E, ½ cup ACV (apple cider vinegar) and enough blackstrap molasses to disguise the additions. She eats it all. Twice a day she gets the rub with grapefruit seed and comfrey oil. She continues to be touchy about her teat with the scabbed over cuts. I hope next time she calves I will have the will power to bottle-feed the calf. It prevents the weaning woes. And of course you get twice the cream. As things stand, it may be three weeks before I can let Jeremiah back out with her. In another week Jasmine’s cuts ought to be healed but I am conjecturing that with a bit of new grass to distract him, Jeremiah may not make such an assault on her. It is not the weaning ring that is cutting her, it is his teeth, same as before he had the ring. There is negligible grass before the end of April.
The carpenters went up on my house roof and made an emergency repair to the shingles. Last time it rained there were many bad leaks. They fixed one on the attic roof but the one that drips in my office was too big a job for today. George also saw a way to pull the 3rd floor rose window into the house, frame and all, so that Max (!) can putty and paint it. Sally was alarmed to discover the other day that the panes were at the point of falling out. We thought that job would require an extension ladder.
About noon it started to rain hard. I drove Sally to the Auburn Mall where we met Mark. He was in a cute new car suitable for a graduating doctor, forget what he called it but it said FIT on the back. We had to wait 40 minutes for him because of a traffic jam resulting from a malfunction of the drawbridge. Sally got cold and dug a polar fleece out of the box I am to mail. It was hard to say goodbye. It rained hard all the way home.
Willie Dog is depressed. He is devoted to Sally. He stayed outside the kitchen door on Bagel’s blanket waiting for her and growled when I tried to make him come in. I had to bark at him to get him to move. I think I must also be depressed. I came home and ate a can of mushroom soup. Not sure how I even happened to have it but it was pretty good.
DD Marcia is on her way driving from Florida. She called from near Savannah GA. She will be making several visits en route. I expect her next Wednesday.
April 04, 2009 Saturday
It rained again most of the day which meant I had very little Internet connectivity.
Jasmine came in clean as usual and gave 3 gallons of perfect milk. Jeremiah continues to be mournful. This evening when I gave him his grain I noticed he had not finished all his grain from this morning. Then as I was leaving his stall I noticed something green on the floor. It was his nose ring! It was caught on a splinter in the door jamb and I guess he pulled it out in order to escape. I then tried to examine his nose to which I had earlier paid no attention so had not noticed the nose ring was gone. I saw no blood but I suspect it is sore. I suspect that the nose ring was already out this morning. He is eating hay OK. I bailed out and replaced his water, as we have to do every two or three days. He puts hay in it.
This was my first day without Sally. She has been doing the heavy lifting but I managed. She set up a little dairy station in the entrance to the new carriage house so that I don’t have to carry the full machine all the way to the kitchen.
Sally called from Seattle. She said she was in pain from sitting so long despite four aspirin.
April 06, 2009 Monday
Jasmine trotted in sweetly as always. She gave 3 gallons of perfect milk. She continues to spend much of her time in the beefer pen because she does not want to explore the pasture alone.
The carpenters finished up the siding this morning. They took away their tools at noon. They will be back in May to re-hang the door and add a support post under the floor of the part of the carriage house over the run-in. This will align with the post that goes to the roof. George, the contractor, is counting on us to get down to grade by digging away the old manure. Everything is still frozen now. Then they will start on the roofing.
Rain started about noon and is continuing hard. The river is at flood stage now. The vast puddle by the barn that I call Lake Coburn had almost drained when the rain started. Fortunately, on Friday the men stood up the barn door that had been lying out there, stored on chucks, and leaned it against the fence. Had they not done this it would be inundated by morning.
I made 1 ½ lbs of butter this morning.
Mitra drove over and joined me for lunch. I served spaghetti. It turned out especially tasty.
Sally called to report on her day. Her sheep’s milk production has dropped off quite a bit. She will perhaps be able to work it back up. It lambed two weeks ago but the lamb died. She has a goat that will kid in 2 or 3 weeks.
DD Marcia called from the Pennsylvania/Virginia border. She is spending the night with her niece Helena and family and her twin sister, Abby. She and Abby will then convoy up here, to arrive on Wednesday. The weather report is forbidding.
April 07, 2009 Tuesday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons of perfect milk. She left the barnyard by herself for a short while today. It was dark and drizzly. I think if we had sun she would be tempted out.
I went forth on errands today. I am too late to order ducklings at the hardware store. I was afraid this would happen. Sunday was the last day. I have not been able to get away. I see one hen has gone broody. Tomorrow I will give her some real eggs – she is sitting on wooden ones - and perhaps I will get some chicks.
Poor Sally now has a cold. I hope it does not turn out to be flu. She is always frightened of illness because of her asthma.
Marcia and Abby have reached Connecticut. They expect to be here by tomorrow afternoon and are going to bring me a pizza!
I did manage to make bread today. But I am already falling sadly behind on domestic chores. Today’s shopping is still lined up in bags on the kitchen floor. One thing that is not on the floor is a beautiful blue hydrangea with six flower heads for only $6.
April 08, 2009 Wednesday
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. She offered no explanation for the reduced volume, but it was perfect milk.
The weather was chilly and overcast.
Abby and Marcia arrived at 4:30. Marcia left her trailer across the river at the little store, the Blue Moose. All she took out was a few of her plants. She and Abby then drove up to camp to survey the situation and leave off the cats before returning here for supper. We had pizza that they had bought yesterday. We reheated it successfully with some additional sauce. I loaded them up with dairy products and will see them tomorrow. Marcia envies my hydrangea and is going to race over to Hannaford’s tomorrow to get one.
Both girls look very well.
April 09, 2009 Thursday
Jasmine gave 3 gallons of perfect milk. The sun shone brightly so I put Jeremiah out with his mom and ran them both outdoors. As I hoped, after a little initial schmoozing, he hopped around in circles. After awhile they went together into the field by the river and spent several hours there. Jas appeared to enjoy grazing on some scraps of grass. This evening it was obvious that Jeremiah had nursed but there was no teat damage. I put him into his stall for the night so that I will have milk in the morning.
Marcia drove Abby and me to Rumford where we did a little shopping and Marcia was able to buy a nice blue hydrangea.
Abby took the dogs for a walk. She also reinforced the front fence so that Willie can’t possibly get out, at least not there.
Marcia hauled her trailer out to camp today and unloaded it. She made the sad discovery that about half of the lovely plants she brought from Florida suffered frost damage last night. I was sure that they would be safe inside her closed trailer. It did go down to 20F but my plants in the buttery, which is unheated, sustained no damage. Marcia says all her orchids and ferns, which were picture perfect, were destroyed.
Abby discovered a gecko among Marcia’s plants. She is checking around my sunny windowsills for emerging flies for it.
April 10, 2009 Friday
Once again today it worked out well letting Jeremiah spend the day with Jasmine, although I did not actually see them go out into the pasture. The day was spring like and I even saw robins. The willow tree twigs (withies) are bright gold.
I also saw a chipmunk visiting my bird feeder. This is the first chipmunk I have seen in several years. They are highly vulnerable to cats. Stanley spends a lot of time at the foot of the feeder hoping for a really dumb bird but so far this year, no luck. He is wearing a bell.
Marcia and Abby and I had a festive lunch here. I roasted one of Max and Mitra’s fat chickens and it was delicious, as always. We also had mashed potatoes, gravy and green salad. DS Mark is on the way here for an unexpected overnight. He will get cold chicken and that is mighty good too.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons of perfect milk.
Later: Mark arrived and we had a fine dinner. I fried the leftover mashed potato in bacon fat making cute balls with the ice cream scoop. These were a hit.
Mark’s wife Ann had gone to Boston to her brother’s birthday party.
April 11, 2009 Saturday
Jasmine gave about 3 gallons of perfect milk. Evidently Jeremiah did not nurse at all yesterday. I am allowing myself some cautious optimism that Jas has overcome mastitis and that Jer is weaned. Hoping! Even with the wee bit of grass that Jasmine is finding, there is already a change in her cream. It is thicker. She grazed for a long time today. The ground is still pretty wet but the cows don’t do significant damage because there are only the two of them on 20 acres.
The weather today was fine, just a little overcast, but close to 50˚. DS Mark was here overnight and left about 8:30am after taking the dogs for a walk through the pasture and along the river.
DD Marcia called about Suffolk sheep she saw advertised in Uncle Henry’s classified ads. They are not far away, just up in Phillips. She arranged to buy two lambs. We don’t have to pick them up for a couple of weeks. Suffolks are primarily a meat breed but have a worthwhile fleece, rather coarse I think. Mitra put in my order at Farmer’s Union for me for a dozen Pekin ducks and 4 Bronze turkey poults.
Abby found a gecko among the plants Marcia brought from Florida. It was pretty cold and hungry. She caught some flies for it yesterday. Today she called the Farmer’s Union in Farmington and a man answered who keeps geckos in the classroom where he teaches. He has a source of live crickets and agreed to take the gecko so Abby drove over the mountain and gave him her gecko. The man’s name was Adam so Abby told him her gecko’s name was Adamovitch.
Marcia and DD Abby, her twin, came down about lunch time and did all kinds of work. We went down to the veg garden where they prepared ground for planting several rows and I dug the remaining parsnips. There will be enough for Easter dinner. Then Abby picked up a big bag of the carpenter’s trash revealed on the lawn by the melting snow and Marcia pushed the rolling magnet for lots more nails. I told Abby that there had to be a nest in the hay mow and she located it. It had 14 eggs. I made hot cross buns and coconut macaroons with chocolate icing for tomorrow.
Marcia wants to learn to make beer. We are getting some advice from DS Bret who has made quite a lot.
DS Martin and his family are up for the weekend at their camp. They stopped in and Hannah (almost 3) went right for the miniature tea set I keep in the music room. The cups are very tiny, barely an inch in diameter. She handed one to her brother Henry, almost 1 yr, and he knew exactly how to hold it and pretend to drink tea. It is always so incredible to me how much babies that are carried around know about everything. I can hardly think of anything more exciting than these little insights into the minds of babies.
April 12, 2009 Easter Sunday
Martin and wee Hannah came down this morning and milked Jasmine so that I could go to church. They got along just fine. I met Marcia at the church. Abby didn’t come. She said “Say Hi to God for me”.
Later we all convened here for an Easter egg hunt and meal. Martin and Max hid the eggs. We always use the plastic ones that you can fill with this and that. Then I find them all summer of course. Shireen, Roshan and Hannah found lots. Henry took a great interest while riding on his daddy’s back.
Max, Roshan, Shireen, Hannah, and Stanley the cat. Aunty Abby helping Hannah. Lulu too.
Bagel keeping an eye on things. Shireen on "Stage Rock".
My daughters and daughters-in-law were a huge help with dinner including set-up which is complicated when serving a sit-down dinner for 10 in a small space. DIL Amy brought a beautiful salad and Brussels sprouts. Marcia brought fresh green beans. Mitra brought deviled eggs and a baked ham from one of their own pigs with a natural cure.
Abby put a delicious garlic and rosemary crust on the leg of Australian lamb I bought last Friday. I cooked Israeli couscous in homemade chicken stock. This kind of couscous are round like millet, a versatile side dish. I also made a fresh pineapple salsa that included red bell pepper, red onion, sour orange juice and fresh grated ginger. I also served parsnips sautéed in butter with Chinese 5-spice. Shireen and Roshan had never had parsnips prepared this way before and asked for seconds. Henry insists on feeding himself entirely. He is a sturdy little person and eats with steady diligence and purpose. He especially likes meat.
For dessert we had coconut macaroons with chocolate icing that I made yesterday and a flan. The wine was called Our Daily Red, a nice organic wine brought by Martin and Amy. We toasted absent siblings, but especially Mitra’s parents, Alex and Marie. Abby and Marcia washed and put away dishes for about an hour.
Needless to say we all ate a bit too much and there were plenty of leftovers. Everybody got to take home some of the excellent lamb and what may have been the world’s best ham. The Aga was a star with all four ovens and both cook tops going at once for a while.
Martin endorses Marcia’s ambition to learn to make beer. He offers to do his part by sampling it.
Before and after dinner Martin was busy getting the tiller greased and attached to the tractor. Then he tilled up the big paddock garden where I grew corn and squash last year. There was a huge rock in the middle of the plot that he had to steer around last year. Using a 6 ft crowbar, Max managed to rouse out the rock and get it onto the tractor bucket for removal.
Then Hannah got her coat and said “I have to leave now”. But then she ran back to me and said “Thank you for the lovely dinner Granma.”
April 13, 2009 Monday
As will be supposed, no cooking was done today unless one counts an evening piece of toast and cup of Holy Basil tea.
Very little was done outdoors either. A strong cold wind blew all day. I set my basket of eggs on the grass while I went into the paddock to admire Martin’s tilling job. When I returned for the eggs they were dumped on the grass and the basket had blown away. I found it 50 ft away on the woodpile.
Martin and family stopped in on their way home, arriving as I came in with the milk. Hannah ate the last hot cross bun and drank a big glass of warm milk.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons.
April 14, 2009 Tuesday
Fine weather today.
Jasmine only gave 1 ½ gallons. I don’t think Jeremiah nursed. My theory is that she is spending her time trying to graze and is getting very little grass and eating a lot of worthless old dead grass. But grazing is what she longs to do.
Marcia, Abby and I met Mitra for lunch in Farmington and did some very light shopping. Max came here while I was gone and brought my feed. He repaired the fence in the sheep paddock and conveyed some well rotted cow manure to the veg garden. Thank you Max!
April 15, 2009 Wednesday
Fine weather again today.
Jasmine got past whatever was suppressing production yesterday and gave 3 gallons this morning. She then spent most of the day out at pasture.
DD Abby came down early and had coffee here because she and Marcia were out of cream. Then she washed my milking equipment and did some gardening. She also constructed a nice new pen for the five Muscovy ducks we are picking up tomorrow. They are to be four ducks and a drake. These are mature birds which I hope will hatch out babies. I have also ordered 12 ducklings from another source for later.
We will also be picking up the two Suffolk ram lambs from the same place. I have a comfortable stall ready for them where I plan to keep them until I have some confidence that they have accepted their new home. They will also have collars and bells. I lost my last ram, Wesley, about 5 years ago when I accepted the advice of others that the ram would merge with my little flock of Jacob sheep and be accepted by the ewes. So wrong. The boss ewe, who had great big horns, drove him into the woods. He emerged a couple of times and attempted new overtures to no avail. I could not catch him. Neighbor dogs ended up killing him (all was denied).
Marcia came down after lunch and worked on untangling and pruning my Dutchman’s Pipe vine (Aristolochia) that graced the front of my former carriage house, now rebuilt. It had to be torn loose and lay heaped on the ground. Marcia pruned out 3 wheelbarrow loads. She thinks much of it is alive. I do hope so. It was a thing of great beauty in summer with its great heart shaped leaves in varying shades of green. Admiring tourists used to stop and ask me what it was.
April 16, 2009 Thursday
Once again this morning Jasmine only gave 1 ½ gallons. I now believe it has to be that Jeremiah is nursing. Unless I get seriously short of milk I guess I will ignore this unless he injures her.
I transplanted my Brussels sprouts seedlings into a large seed tray. So far they look promising.
Marcia, Abby and I went to a remote farm in Phillips and bought three lambs and three Muscovy ducks. The lambs are Suffolks. I bought two rams and a ewe. They were born in February and are well grown and remarkably friendly. Once installed in their room here they went directly to eating hay and grain and one of them came up for chin scratches. We named them Agnes, Kebob and Ramsey. Our current plan is to allow one of the ram lambs to breed Agnes and then put the rams in the freezer.
The three ducks went into their pen without a glitch. Their pen has a chicken wire top to prevent their flying away which they could easily do. I would not trust their pen to be proof against a raccoon or determined dog, otherwise it is a fine pen. Abby made it by lacing the various elements together with hay string.
Sally called after we were back into the house having tea. We got to tell her all of our adventures. She is a spinner and likes sheep but I am not sure Suffolks have much of a fleece.
April 17, 2009 Friday
Bright sunny day but with a lot of wind.
The new critters all made it through the night just fine.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning, confirming my suspicion that the wild fluctuations in production are due to Jeremiah, as Sally thought in the first place.
The sheep started going Ma-a-a as soon as I set foot in the barn. Jasmine was highly suspicious of the new residents which she could not see, only hear and smell. She pooped while in her stanchion for the first time in many weeks. When I turned her loose she stood outside their closed door and looked mad. I could tell she wished she could get in there and mash whoever they were, just in case they were a threat to precious Jeremiah.
Abby and Marcia were here for several hours. Abby fine tuned the arrangements for the sheep and ducks. The sheep now have a bale of hay to stand on to see out their window. She tried out various feeds on the ducks but so far they don’t like anything we have offered. Other than not eating, they seem fairly relaxed.
A huge raptor flew over but we did not get enough of a look to identify it.
Marcia carried on with yard clean-up. It desperately needed raking. I dug over two small flower beds. Abby planted the sugar snap peas and even washed my car.
More cuteness from Easter with Great Granddaughter Lillian in her bunny ears.
©opyright 2009 Joann S. Rogers