Heifer Diary 2011 - Continued
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November 19, 2011 Saturday
Fern’s colostrum has turned into milk now so we poured it together with Jasmine’s for a combined total of over 3 gallons. I hope to get seriously into cheese making now or better still, get Sally or Abby involved. I have a new cheese making book, Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin. Her instructions are highly detailed and scientific, a bit different to my usual reckless methods. In my defense, most of the Coburn Farm cheeses have been more than satisfactory. Her teleme recipe bears no resemblance to mine but I love to experiment and hope to report back after I order some of those starters. Using sterilized milk, I have been successfully reculturing my mesophilic from a batch I bought years ago from Ricki Carrroll. As a general principle, I dislike any method where I have to keep reordering something rather than making my own. I freeze the starter in ice cube trays.
Martin and the kids came this morning. Martin did lots of useful things such as tilling the paddock garden and transporting more manure down to the lower garden. He also took a walk along the river to see if the reason the spring stopped running was perhaps due to a break in the line rather than that it had frozen. He took along his pointer, Milo. Today we allowed Ella out with Fern for the first time. While walking along the river, Milo stopped to point. It turned out he was pointing Ella napping on the wrong side of the fence as calves so often manage to do. What luck that he found her. I guess it was dumb to let her out. Sally came down and moved her up to the sheep paddock, a small but grassy paddock that will have to satisfy Fern.
November 21, 2011 Monday
Fern lifted her foot once towards the end of milking. It is hard to get all the milk out of her two left quarters. There is still some engorgement. Sally got Ella to suck that side today. She has been neglecting those two quarters. I hope tomorrow morning to get her milked out really well
Sally made an apple cranberry pie using the fallen apples we scavenged. We have nearly used them up. Sally has been cutting them up and freezing them in pie quantities.
Sally and Abby both worked on fencing. Sally did more digging in the veg garden.
They took some supplies up to Julie.
I made havarti cheese from my new book. I had a thousand interruptions so I hope it turns out. BTW, I see that the author does offer instructions on how to maintain a culture instead of always sending for more.
November 22, 2011 Tuesday
It was the coldest morning yet this fall, down to about 15.
Today the MOFGA paper published my critique of Simon Fairlie’s book Meat: a Benign Extravagance. It will be online soon.
Fern is getting more relaxed about motherhood. She’s perfectly willing to leave Ella behind in the barn, and comes back about noon and moos to get in to see her baby. She’s also getting better every day in the barn.
Sally is digging in the garden still(though today the ground was a bit frozen until noon) and making a flowerbed where the tomatoes grew this year. I helped haul weeds to a new spot we’ve ordained for them. Abby worked in the barn on various winterization projects.
We’ve been enjoying the new kefir from starter donated by forum member Sarah S.
In the evening we enjoyed watching the Masterpiece Theatre production of Northanger Abbey along with cookies that Abby made with blackstrap molasses and candied ginger.
November 23, 2011 Wednesday
I was awakened by the lights of the snowplow flashing across the ceiling as it rattled along the road. I got up to find it snowing hard and it has continued all day. I had to switch to using the cargo sled to get the milking machine to the barn. The snow is wet and heavy so did not drift even though there was considerable wind.
I put the sheep over in to their own paddock with hay, inasmuch as nobody could graze anyway. I put down hay for them and figured to just keep them there from now on. They had other ideas and managed to wriggle out and present themselves at the barn this evening as it got dark. Tomorrow I will try again after figuring out how they got out and making repairs.
Mark and family were planning to come up tonight, stay at Martin and Amy’s camp and join us tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner. The weather discouraged them and they will drive tomorrow instead. This was a good decision. Abby and I drove to Weld to have a look at Fire Lane 17, the access road to camp, to see if it had been plowed, which it had not. We also took Abby’s snow tires to the garage where her car was left for repairs. The driving was treacherous. Coming down a hill on the way home, with Abby driving 30mph the car spun out of control, reversed direction and went into the ditch with a considerable impact on the frozen embankment. I was wearing my seatbelt, saw this coming, braced myself and was not injured. Abby, who never wears a seatbelt, pitched forward and hit her head on the rear view mirror, which snapped off. She got a bump on her head but probably not sufficient to change her habits. The car was totally hung up with snow packed into the undercarriage. We were both able to get out and stand by the road. I was going to call AAA if Abby’s cell would work but it would not. But then she got a live signal and called her DD Helena, my granddaughter, in Carlisle PA who then called her dad who lives here in Carthage quite near to where we went off the road. Before long he arrived in his truck with a chain and pulled us back onto the road. Before Tim arrived several other cars stopped and offered to help in one way or another. My car seems undamaged.
We had intended to go up to Julie’s but that road is less traveled with few places to turn around and we lost our nerve.
Back home, I made soup out of leftovers and Abby made gingerbread bar cookies.
November 24, 2011 Thursday, Thanksgiving Day
First thing this morning it was cold again, about 10F. The cows were down a bit, possibly because of the change in diet (hay) since the grass is covered with snow. Fern was very quiet and let down well, barely twitched her leg. We did have to speak to her at that point.
Then we came in the house and raced around starting preparations for dinner. Put in a huge standing rib roast and giant chicken, both courtesy of Max and Mitra. They both turned out perfectly in the Aga. M and M also provided a delicious turnip and carrot casserole- shredded with cream and butter and baked. Also Mitra made delicious stuffing and cranberry sauce from Maine cranberries.. Annie and Mark and Hailey brought cookies, pie and wine, as well as a beautiful loaf of bread from Portland’s Standard Baking Co. For dessert we had a fabulous pumpkin cheesecake that Mitra also made, as well as Hailey’s apple pie. Before dinner everyone tried the new Teleme cheese and pronounced it a big success (thank heaven!). We toasted absent friends with the Iranian toast “You chair is empty” All in all, a fine meal and fine time had by all.
Afterwards everybody went to admire Ella and agreed that she was the cutest calf anyone had ever seen.
Granddaughter Roshan took these pictures on the trip to the barn
Outside the beefer pen Inside the beefer pen - Helen, Jasmine, Ella and Milton Fern and Ella looking out
Milton (5 weeks) and Ella (1 week) In the run-in - Fern, Ella, Milton, and chicken Ella - the stuffed toy
Fern and Ella
Dr. Mark listened to my heart and lungs and pronounced me devoid of problems.
Abby and I fixed up a big plate of leftovers for Julie and Abby drove it up there. She says she is doing fine.
November 25, 2011 Friday
Sally got up at 5 as usual and did her tea drinking ritual and then kitchen work. No matter how early we start it always seems to be nearly 10 am before we get back from the barn and do the associated milk and kitchen chores. Very foggy in the morning but it burned off while we were in the barn and turned into a lovely day, up to about 35. The roof was dripping.
We’ve been trying to accustom the sheep to living under the carriage house. They like it fine in the daytime but are not all happy to stay there at night. So Abby brings them back Pied Piper style and they race into their usual stall in the barn. In the morning Sally takes them back out; they race out happily and get to eating hay in the run-in under the floor of the buttery. Dr. Mark left his stethoscope here yesterday so Sally and I packed it up and mailed it to his friends John and Woody in South Portland where he and Annie are soon to move.
About noon Abby and I went to Weld, picked up her car from Mt. Blue Garage and went up to Marcia’s camp to ready it for some people who are to look at it tomorrow. It looked fine. Then Abby picked up Julie and Sally and they all went to Rumford to pick up groceries. Hannaford’s was more crowded than usual, possibly due to Black Friday. She and another customer marveled over the price difference between organic grapes from California and non-organic from Chile; the latter were $2 cheaper. DS Bret, the nutritionist in the family, is clear on the point that thinned skinned produce such as grapes will have absorbed heavy doses of pesticides. Better to buy organic or do without. He worries less about thick skinned fruits such as bananas. However if I ever do buy bananas I always get organic because they taste so much better. Non organic are nasty tasting.
November 28, 2011 Monday
On Saturday I chopped the vegetables for kim chee and salted and drained them overnight. Today I added the ginger, chilis, and garlic. It tastes good already.
Jasmine, Fern and baby Ella trot in perfectly in the morning and are mostly very well behaved. At least there is no kicking. Some days they seem to make a special point of pooping and peeing. It is often hard to figure out what sets them off. Today they were well behaved.
It is much warmer today than it has been. Last night remained above freezing. Most of the snow is gone.
Sally has now carried in all of the apple tree wood that Nancy sawed up, virtually an entire dead tree. She also makes a circuit of the fences nearly every day. The electric fence is mostly in good shape except when deer knock it down but some of the permanent fence is in need of repair.
DD Abby and Sally took my car to the shop in Weld and left it there for inspection. They also visited DD Marcia’s camp and closed the curtains. People looked at it on Saturday.
I took a stroll around the veg garden and nibbled the remaining green things such as lettuce and chard. There are now 15 raised beds averaging five yards long prepared for spring planting, all manured and covered with plastic to prevent erosion. The great majority of the work was done by Sally. Three beds remain to be done but will most likely have to wait for spring.
The winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is making a big display this year. Sally brought in some heavily laden branches which we have in a vase.
November 29, 2011 Tuesday
We continue to get about 3 gallons total combined from Jasmine and Fern OAD. Fern has Ella full time and Jas has Milton about 9am to 6pm. Three gallons is plenty for us.
I think the temp got up to about 45F today. It was cloudy and raw and started to rain about 5o’clock. The best thing about this time of year is the new seed catalogues. Sally worked outside trimming off more black locust. I made quark.
We encouraged the cows and sheep to go down to the pocket field leaving Ella in the beefer pen; they were happy to go. Fern just bellowed a bit and then left. In the afternoon we decided it was time for Ella to join the big girls and we took her down to them. Fern thought Ella should walk to her, not vice-versa, but Helen came right over and checked that Ella was all right walking alone - she didn’t approve of Willie scurrying around her. (Actually, Helen takes a dim view of dogs in all circumstances.) Eventually they all came back, while it was still warm and before it started raining.
Ella is 2 weeks old today and stands 22inches high at the withers.
Tonight we watched the rest of a move that we began watching last night. It was an Australian movie called Rabbit Proof Fence. It was the true account of three Aboriginal half cast children who were taken from their mother in accordance with a program of the provincial government designed to Westernize the native people. They escaped from their school and began the 1200 mile walk back to their home. A massive search for them was mounted by the authorities and one little girl was recaptured. The other two made it back to their grieving mother. It is a remarkable film.
November 30, 2011 Wednesday
It rained hard all last night leaving us with a mild, almost balmy day. Sally spent a lot of time out walking my pasture and her own. We allowed wee Ella to spend the entire day out with her mother. We have orange flagging on her collar without which she would be utterly invisible when lying down and nearly so even when standing. She blends in so perfectly with the brown grass that all that marks her presence it a dot of orange.
Agnes, the old ewe, has taken up with Helen age 15. Helen tolerates her company but just barely. Ella also likes Helen’s company. We notice that when Ella is nearby Helen butts Agnes away. Tonight when all the other sheep came in, Agnes tried to stay with Helen.
I started a cheese using Lannie’s recipe.
Last night I hung up a bag of clabber and made qvark. Abby has made a cheesecake with it which we are about to sample.
DD Sally’s Rosemary, my granddaughter, is in Antarctica. It is summer there. The temperature is around 10F and the sun shiners brightly 24 hours a day. Rosie is occasionally able to call but has no email.
Lots of plumbing excitement today- first a big flood in the cellar and then a nasty flood under the sink as the plumbing there was evidently deranged by the first disaster. Sigh. It is that white plastic pipe that goes together with press-fit collars.
December 01, 2011 Thursday
Sally did the early pass to the barn and picked up the paper as usual. She was diverted by the honking of a most valued neighbor who wanted to talk about harvesting deer on our fields. He also filled us in on several highly interesting neighborhood land transactions about which we have been speculating. Great way to start the day, she said.
We left Ella in the barn but let the cows and sheep out to graze as we were going to Farmington to see Mitra and do some shopping. This was a most successful expedition and we got home about three o’clock to the sound of bellowing from every single animal, it seemed, except Helen who stood back and surveyed the excitement. Abby raced around feeding them and one after another settled down. Ella in particular was too overexcited after a day’s separation to eat till she’d raced around her mother about a dozen times.
We met Mitra at an eatery called Wicked Gelato which made very delicious mocha coffee. We also went to the secondhand bookstore called Twice Sold Tales and had fun buying books. Sally bought a very fine first edition of “The Enchanted April” to send to the South Pole for Rosemary to read (it’s about an April in Italy, just the thing for Pole reading.)
December 02, 2011 Friday
It was somewhat colder today and overcast. Sally and Abby worked outside all day. Yesterday Sally bought metal fence posts at the Farmer’s Union and today set a lot of them around the Pocket Field, also strung barbed wire. Willie dog went along to help but then heard Martin and Milo dog out on Sally’s field across the river and had to join them. Willie was immune to Sally’s calls. She is not sure how he got across the river but he was gone quite a while and returned pretty muddy. Martin didn’t get any birds so I guess Willie wasn’t a lot of help.
Abby set out to inspect the spring line but the brook was too high to cross. The log we walk across on was submerged.
Martin brought his flatbed with boards for his new dock and a backhoe attachment for his Kubota. That would have been useful last week when Max had to dig out the septic tank.
More importantly, today was the day that Mitra went for her biopsy. It took hours at the hospital what with all the waiting. The doctor biopsied two lymph nodes, one behind her knee and the other higher up. He also removed some tissue from the site of her melanoma and covered it with a skin graft. After Max brought her home he called to report that she was doing well. Roshan had done all the evening barn chores and a friend had brought dinner. He left her to go to town for her Vicodin and some chocolates.
Martin was here to dinner. He brought sausages from the butcher in Biddeford and I fried potatoes and sautéed cabbage. After dinner Martin split a lot of wood.
December 03, 2011 Saturday
Everything went smoothly with milking. I am currently using my upright model milking machine, the De Laval style. Neither machine is perfectly designed for either cow but the Surge does work a bit better for Jasmine. I don’t use the surcingle. It just sits on the floor and she stands like a rock.
Fern also stands well but lifting the Surge to hang it from the surcingle is almost beyond my strength. It has to hang from the surcingle, as her udder is way up in the air. Sally stands by to help so the problem could be solved. The milk from both cows is in together now making it pretty heavy.
Mitra seems to be getting along alright with Max doing all the lifting. She insisted on going to the barn this morning despite doctor’s orders to lie quietly all day. She says the only thing that hurts is the site where the doc took the skin for the graft. It is about the area of a playing card. Max says it looks nasty.
Sally spent a lot more time today on fencing with help from Abby. Martin hunted this morning before coming by to do more wood splitting and setting up a light for the layers, something I had not yet gotten around to doing.
Martin brought two pheasants for our dinner which I split and made into a sort of fricassee. I also baked a very nice squash. Abby made a salad with her late lettuce and made a bread pudding for dessert.
Martin is doing his best to get her Monitor stove to function.
December 04, 2011 Sunday
Woke up to a long day- Martin went over to Farmington to meet Max and pick up ten giant round bales of hay. Max was persuaded to come back with him and help load sheep, despite his many duties surrounding Mitra’s recuperation.
While that was going on, Abby and Sally went down to the field and worked on fencing. Then Abby made cookies, I heated up yummy frozen leftovers for everybody’s lunch and then the rodeo started. Abby corralled the sheep in their pen and Max, Martin and Sally caught them and tied them one by one in the back of the truck, tied off short so they couldn’t get tangled. They were very heavy to lift- good thing they (Max and Martin)were both there, we never could have done it. Then Max went home and Sally, Abby and Martin drove off to Castonguay, the butcher, in Livermore Falls. Got home about six, exhausted.
The cows are thrilled with their hay.
Martin took a picture of Abby and Sally and the sheep at the butcher’s. I forwarded it to Marcia who asked if that was me in the background. I couldn’t see anybody in the background. She must have mistaken me for one of the sheep I guess. That’s the last time I send pictures to her! Others later identified a shadowed form that proved to be Abby.
December 05, 2011 Monday
It is December but so far feels like early November. But I heard a prediction for snow. It was sunny much of today and about 40F. Sally made pumpkin muffins for breakfast.
I had a new survey done of the north line of my property.
Sally worked on fencing again today. We are all tired.
Marcia sent six marvelous Japanese yams or sweet potatoes that she got at her farmer’s market. I baked a couple for supper. They were the best I ever remember.
December 06, 2011 Tuesday
We are getting a bit less milk now, reflecting no doubt the fact that Ella is growing. I am happy that Ella now seems to nurse the two left teats. They are no longer quite so packed solid when Fern comes in. We still get 2 ½ gallons, more than enough.
The news from Mitra is good!
The surgeon just called and said that the biopsy results were in and everything was perfect! There were no cancer cells in the additional skin they took from around the mole site, or in the lymph node from my knee or in the lymph node from my groin. He said I could hug him when I saw him on Thursday and to go ahead and have a glass of wine for him too :)
We are all celebrating.
I drove over to Jay and picked up the lamb. I had sent five but two are sold and will be cut and wrapped at the abattoir. Ours were quartered by the butcher and they look very good, nice and fat. Tomorrow we’ll cut and wrap our three here thus saving $60 each. The hanging weights were all close to 60lbs.
Abby and Sally spent most of the day down in the field, fencing. Nearly done. Found a neat line of survey markers showing the edge of the property. We were very glad to see that an old stock watering pond is entirely on my property- we had thought it was, but are now sure. It has fine big rocks around it and is very handsome; in the spring when ferns grow around it. We hope to get it functional again.
Abby made a delicious apple/blueberry pie. We also had liver and onions.
December 07, 2011 Wednesday, Pearl Harbor Day
I can’t help wondering if a lot of the people who were totally surprised when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor were anything like the people who are going to be completely surprised when the ice caps melt away. Japanese intentions were scarcely a secret. When I was five or six years old, I recall that one day as we were parked on the wharf in New York harbor, my father pointed to a great rust bucket of a ship that loomed above us and said it had a full cargo of American scrap iron headed to Japan where they would melt it down to make bombs with which to attack us. Prior to my birth in 1928, he had been living and teaching English in Japan. If Japanese intentions were no secret to a Wesleyan English major, I expect the news had also reached Washington.
DD Sally spent all day cutting the lamb while DD Abby packaged it. Sal did everything by hand with a meat saw and did little boning out so there are no chops but many packages of small rib roasts and both large and small roasts of other types. There was one big bowl of scraps for grinding. I started on the grinding but now she has taken that over for me.
Abby has run into town to get a video from the library; we ordered Mansfield Park.
I have soup ready for dinner. I made it from the leftovers of our pheasant dinner last Saturday. It is very promising. We will try the lamb tomorrow.
This year we did not bring home the hides with fleece from our sheep. Last year we did, and Sally spread them out and sheared them. She has not yet used up that wool so elected not to take on more. I asked the butcher if we get any credit for the hides. He said no, he is charged for having them hauled off so now just composts them.
Everything now made of wool or leather can also be made of petroleum products, and is. As most of us know, oil is subsidized. It thus becomes cheaper to make fake fleece (Polarfleece) and “crueltyfree” shoes from petroleum products than to use real (unsubsidized) hides and wool. Perhaps a return to real hides and wool would liberate enough oil so that we could all have a few more rides to the mall.
December 08, 2011 Thursday
The wind blew hard and cold all day. The power went out early this morning but thank goodness came back on in time to get the cows milked.
Sally’s hands and wrists are achey from all that meat sawing yesterday.
Sally and I drove to Weld and looked at the camps, which were in good shape. I wanted to get up there again before it snows which it is predicted to do tonight although there is no sign of it right now. We have a bright, clear moon.
I cooked a meaty piece of upper lamb shank in the Romertof clay cooker with brown rice and eggplant (frozen from my crop). It is high quality lamb. I don’t think they can have been too seriously stressed.
December 09, 2011 Friday
We did not get any snow but it is colder and the wind continues.
Sally is still fencing and is happy with the results. I must walk down again and see it.
I looked at the newly surveyed property line. The neighbor’s recently constructed granite wall is essentially on the line which is a relief.
Max reports that Mitra still has a lot of pain where they removed skin and she has run out of Vicodin. but it is looking better. She is setting up at the farmers’ market tomorrow all the same. Max brought my grain today and we sent over a roast shoulder of lamb for their dinner.
For our dinner, Abby curried the rest of last night’s lamb and made a quark and pumpkin cheesecake.
We got 2 ¾ gallons this morning. Little Ella is now going for all four teats. She is getting a lot wider.
There is no snow so we send the cows out every day to graze even though the grass is not worth much. They have good hay all night.
December 10, 2011 Saturday
We figured out why the milk supply has been dropping. Sally caught Milton in the act today of nursing on Fern. She was trying to prevent him but could not kick him off because he was coming at her from behind, the little dickens. He is about 3 months old now and has been making cuts on Jasmine. Nothing too serious, but enough to worry me. Tomorrow morning I will put a “mustache” on him if I can. Until then he will be in his little pen. He weighs a couple hundred pounds now so weaning is not unreasonable, but I will give him an option of milk in a bucket.
Abby and Sally went over and cut a Christmas tree on Sally’s field. It is a pretty little fir from a group in need of thinning. Abby set up my crèche and has a nice wreath.
I made another cheese and started baking my Christmas cakes.
It is getting colder but the sun came out long enough to enable me to dig a clump of green onions. Abby put some in the salmon croquettes she made for dinner.
Sally did more fencing. She is pretty tired.
December 11, 2011 Sunday
It is getting colder. Every day Sally and/or Abby find more places where drafts are creeping in and tape them up. Sally put up the heavy suede cloth drapes over the front door.
Milton is now separated from the cows. Abby offered him milk in a bucket but he was not clear about what to do with it. She left it on the fence for him and when she came back it was gone. Most likely he bunted and spilled it.
Sally took the dogs for a walk down the North Field. She explored under the big tamarack tree and discovered bog cranberries growing wild. Tomorrow we will go down and see if there are enough to pick. How exciting!
I baked more Christmas cakes and Sally baked bread and stolen.
We have been watching Monsoon Wedding in nightly segments the last of which was tonight. We enjoyed it quite a lot. Of course I miss most of the dialogue. I don’t have trouble with an Indian accent but was glad for the subtitles.
Martin got me started on Facebook. It is a struggle but Max is coming over tomorrow and will try to help me sort it out.
December 13, 2011 Tuesday
Max was here yesterday and rebuilt the ramp that the sheep use out the back of the barn. This is the ramp that John made four years ago. Some of the composite board at the top end was failing as well as the top ends of the support members. Max cut away the top part of the ramp and reset it at a steeper angle. It is only used by the sheep and they can handle it.
This morning I discovered that the reason Fern has taken to waving her foot around at milking time is that she has mastitis in her left front quarter. It is not too bad. The milk is not even salty tasting but the quarter is not milking out and Ella is avoiding it. This evening when we got home from Farmington we arranged for Milton to nurse that quarter, which he was only too willing to do, and he got it softened right up.
We had a good time in Farmington. DS Max and DIL Mitra joined us for lunch at Wicked Gelato. Mitra is still in a lot of pain with her surgeries. We all urged her to stop being a hero and refill her Vicodin prescription so she can get some sleep. She looks very well. She sees her doctor again tomorrow.
DD Sally and DD Abby and I went to a new kitchen supply store in Farmington called Mixed Up! and bought a few choice doodads. Mainly we brought home a mountain of lovely organic veggies From the Better Living Center health food store and Hannaford supermarket.
December 14, 2011 Wednesday
Fern’s front quarter was not so hard this morning thanks to Milton. However I had a lot of trouble with the machine. The pulsator on the DeLaval is not seating properly. Halfway through milking I asked Sally to bring me the Surge and I finished up using it. Milking ended up taking about an hour.
The weather today was pretty nice. Sally and the dogs went for a good walk. Then she and Abby spent much of the day putting up Christmas decorations. The house looks very festive.
This evening I put Milton back on Fern and she was furious. Even with grain in front of her she twirled around and tried to kick off his face. Being a big tough guy now, he ignored her and nursed her two left quarters fairly thoroughly. Fern is much nicer to me than to Milton and doesn’t mind if I handle her. Mitra had her stitches and staples out today. I have not had a chance to talk with her yet.
December 16, 2011 Friday
It rained all last night and part of today. It does not look as though we will have a white Christmas. I recall only one other such year and it was unlike this in that it we had sub zero temperatures, whereas today it was almost 40F. It felt like April.
The cows were both fine this morning. I have been worried about mastitis in Fern because Ella avoids nursing on her left side. We try to encourage her and today separated them for a while. We will do that again tomorrow, I think. I have not put Milton on her again because it makes Fern so mad.
I made another cheese. It is farmhouse cheddar.
Sally walked down to the tamarack tree and picked some of the cranberries. I have not made it down there yet because each day something has interrupted my plans. Sally says they are growing thickly.
Sally already has her seed order ready. That is another thing I have not been able to get to.
I was still unable today to talk
December 17, 2011 Saturday
Milk production is tending upward now with a new calf management scheme. In truth, the management scheme evolves every few days. Two days ago we began separating Ella from Fern for a few hours in the evening so as to get her to nurse on Fern’s left side. Fern had a slight case of mastitis last week due to neglect of those quarters but that has cleared up thanks to our extra efforts to get the calves on her, first Milton and now Ella. Max came today and put the nose device on Milton. We let him out with the cows and he ran from Jasmine to Fern trying unsuccessfully to suck. Max picked up some expensive calf starter feed for him. We will see if he will eat enough of this to keep him in good flesh. This is a great problem with weaned calves in winter. They may eat plenty of hay, as Milton does, but it seldom supports proper gain and bone structure and they get pot-bellied. We are taking him several quarts of milk in a bucket. He took to the bucket right away.
Max spiked another round bale and moved it into the hay ring.
I finally made it down to my recently discovered cranberry patch. Sally and I picked for about 15 minutes but it is much colder today and our fingers became too painful to keep at it. I guess we got a cup and a half. The dogs had a wonderful time. It is going to be way colder tonight, we are told.
For dinner I roasted lamb loin ribs. We don’t have chops because of needing a saw so we made a lot of these roasts. It was very, very tasty, everything one could wish for in lamb.
December 18, 2011 Sunday
It was zero this morning. I guess it was good training for when it gets to -30. We dealt with lots of frozen this and that and changed some of our arrangements. At least I think all the animals are comfortable. I am glad Max got that round bale in yesterday. By afternoon the day warmed up to 20F and the sun was bright. But it is cold again tonight.
Three week old Ella has been spending her time with her mom 24/7 and I have been milking Fern once a day. Now Fern's production is building up and Ella has taken to nursing only 2 quarters. This is leaving too much milk behind, making Fern uncomfortable and risking mastitis. So today I twice separated Ella for a few hours so as to be able to direct her to the two over filled quarters. This is a nuisance and maybe more trouble than doing an evening milking. Heretofore the problem clearly was building without my being aware of it because Milton was grabbing a lot of milk from Fern. That is no longer happening and not from want of trying; Milton now wears a guard.
DD Abby has accepted a job as caregiver for some elderly folks in Blue Hill. She is to start on Boxing Day. They will be glad to have her; of this I have no doubt. Blue Hill is very beautiful, I am told.
Here is a photo from a wonderful celebration for Grandson Harper and Great Grandson Eli's birthdays in AK.
Harper cooked all day:
1. consumé of caribou stock, onions, gruyere
2. patties of braised goat wrapped in pork caul with sage infused honey
3. roasted tomato with garlic on creamy polenta
4. brussels sprouts
5. sauteed baby portobello
7. pears poached in red wine and spices with creme fraiche, chocolate, and wine syrup
December 19, 2011 Monday
Zero again this morning. Fern was so packed with milk that she seemed unable to let down properly. I separated Ella for the morning so as to be able to depend upon her appetite at lunch time. I was then able to keep her on the two left quarters. She drank enough to soften them up appreciably. However I decided it was best to begin evening milking. This evening I brought them both in and milked them both into the Surge for a total of 1 ¾ gallons. They both seemed pleased to come in. Ella always runs right alongside of Fern, such a cute, sweet little girl. Milton is a good boy too. He has adapted well to a bucket. Poor old Helen is getting much too fat again and is having trouble with her feet.
I cooked a small lamb roast for dinner. Once again, it was ravishingly delicious. I wish everyone could have some.
December 20, 2011 Tuesday
Adding an evening milking has made a difference already in volume of milk and in the way Fern’s udder feels. Now that it is not so firm Ella is more inclined to nurse from her left quarters. After this morning’s milking and again at midday when I was able to supervise Ella’s choice of teats, I felt that our worries were over. This evening I was not quite so sure.
We got 3 gallons today.
DD Sally and DD Abby went to Rumford today to stock up for Christmas. I also wanted to go to Family Dollar to pick up a few Christmas extras. That store was so profoundly depressing that I could not bring myself to make a single purchase. Everything is made in China and everything involving fabric from slippers to cushions was made of petroleum derived materials. Not one thing was cotton or wool. I have made up my mind to avoid all these plastic fabrics.
We stopped at the library and borrowed The Enchanted April.
Abby made a delicious ragout from the leftover lamb.
I have learned that DS Bret is coming down from Fairbanks to join DD Marcia and family for Christmas in California. Also with her will be my grandson Harper, her son who is the same age as DS Martin, my youngest son. Harper’s dear wife Jenn and children Amara and Eli are all coming.
December 21, 2011 Wednesday, Winter Solstice
This morning I got about 2 gallons from Jasmine and Fern combined. Fern did not milk out well. We separated Ella so as to get her hungry enough to make a real effort. She was stuffed with milk at 8am and by 2pm was still only half hungry.
As soon as milking was over Jasmine went into raging heat. She was racing around mounting the others to the extent that Abby and Sally feared she would mash Fern and Helen. Not likely in the case of Fern who is young and strong but fat old Helen is wobbly enough in the back end without anyone squishing her.
Sally and I packed up a box of frozen lamb plus a pint of cream and I drove to town and Express mailed it to DD Marcia in CA. Now I find that Bret may not join her after all but all the others will enjoy it I am sure.
Fern let down better this evening. We got a total today of around four gallons.
Abby went to Rumford and by the time she was back a freezing rain had begun. By evening milking there was a slick of ice everywhere. We left the cows locked inside the barn to avoid the possibility of their slipping and dislocating a hip or something. I talked to Max. He had to drive today to Kittery ( a 3 hour drive to the southern tip of Maine) and found the highway dangerous in many places and the traffic at a crawl. It was a six hour RT drive and he sounded wiped out. After talking with me he decided to go out and close Nellie in too.
I have a note from Bret in which he sounds more positive about going to CA.
Abby made a lovely dinner of braised short ribs, baked potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Sally made one of her world class apple pies.
We watched the last half of Enchanted April after dinner. It was lovely with all those flowers and sparkling Mediterranean and happy people, just the thing for a stormy night. Sally sent the book, a first edition she found at Twice Sold Tales, to her DDRosie. This should brighten the days in Antarctica. Come to think of it, it is summer there and the sun shines with an unblinking eye but it is plenty cold.
Here, starting tomorrow, the days begin to lengthen.
December 22, 2011 Thursday
Last night Mitra got an awful pain on her thigh near her groin where the biopsy was taken. There was a red angry lump and she had a fever of 101F. It was worse this morning and Max took her to her doctor soon after they were done with their chores. She learned that it was fluid accumulation related to the biopsy. The doctor withdrew fluid with a syringe. She has more pain pills and a prescription for an antibiotic (Keflex sp?). Her appointment coincided with Shireen’s orthodontia appointment, also predicted to be painful. Fortunately Max is home and available to drive.
The doc said to keep hot compresses on her lump to aid circulation. I suggested she borrow Nellie’s Uddermint, which has that action and she intends to try it.
Last night it rained on the frozen ground. There were big puddles treacherously lined with ice. The sun shone much of the day and it was warm and pleasant but it still took half the day to get rid of the ice.
We listened to Handel’s Messiah performed by the NY Philharmonic and chorus tonight in its entirety. I was not familiar with the soloists but all were beyond belief, especially the soprano.
December 23, 2011 Friday
It snowed last night so we will have a white Christmas after all. I know it will not melt because a very cold spell is on its way.
Both cows were fine and cooperative this morning but this evening Fern would not let down. I rubbed her with Uddermint. Great stuff.
Martin came up with Milo for one last day of hunting. Then he had supper with us. It was fun to see him.
DS Mark called (Dr.Mark). I told him that Max had reported little improvement in Mitra’s status and he was alarmed. He called them and now I understand that Mitra’s doctor wants to see her in the morning.
December 24, 2011 Saturday, Christmas Eve
As the weatherman promised, it was cold this morning, 10F. Tonight it is 0F.
Fern is getting worse about letting down for the machine. I got little more than a dribble out of her this morning so separated Ella, who was already stuffed, until 2PM. I did not even bother trying to milk this evening. I will attempt milking again in the morning, then do as I did today. I will probably do the same thing again Monday for my own convenience, as the family will be here for a holiday meal. Then, if Fern has not shaped up and begun to cooperate, I will pull Ella until such time as Fern decides to do things my way– or I will bottle feed Ella.
Mitra is still far from well. Her fever continues and the infected area on her thigh does not seem to be responding to the antibiotic. She saw her doctor at 8am and he drew more fluid for a new culture to see if a different antibiotic may be called for. Keflex covers most skin related bacteria but as the infection is related to her groin sutures, there may be different bacteria at play. The doctor said that the area of the infection appears to be contracting and concentrating. The area is hard and red. He wants her to continue with hot compresses and her current course of antibiotics.
Along with Christmas prep, DD Abby is getting ready to go to a new caregiver job in Blue Hill, ME. Today she went in her car to get gas and ran out along the way. She rolled it into the parking lot of a convenience store in Wilton. By coincidence she had brought along her gas can. A very nice lady drove her over and back to a gas station to fill it. Besides being nice, the lady was also very strong and lifted and poured the gas into her car. It could have been so much worse on the winding and deserted route to Wilton. Once in winter I drove 20 miles without meeting another car on that road.
December 25, 2011 Sunday, Christmas Day
Chores went smoothly except that Fern is more reluctant each day to let down for me. I will have to wean Ella to a teat bucket at least until Fern sees reason. I can’t do this until festivities are over and I have a chance to buy a new teat bucket. Fern has two quarters that Ella, if left on her own, does not touch. They are packed too full of milk. If I separate Ella for 5 or 6 hours I can then supervise her nursing and see to it that she takes those two teats. But that still leaves Fern with more milk than Ella can drink and yet she will not part with it.
After chores, all three of us changed into nice outfits. I put on a black velveteen gown which the girls agreed made me look like the Mother Superior. We sat around the tree drinking champagne and eating saffron rolls that Sally made and opening our gifts. Abby gave me a fine framed oil pastel painting of a butterfly, her specialty.
Abby spent much of the day packing for her departure tomorrow.
Sally made a salmon pie for our dinner, a McGuire tradition. She had brought the frozen filet from Alaska. It is called kulebiaka and is a Russian dish. What a treat.
Kulebiaka- Russian Fish Pie
Boil several potatoes, maybe 6. Don’t over boil. Slice them and put them into a buttered pie dish, add salt and pepper. Meanwhile, sauté 3 or 4 nice leeks (onions will do) in a good bit of butter- don’t bother with the tops, save for soup. Add salt and pepper and dill, and layer on top of the potatoes. Skin and slice thin a fillet of salmon and layer it on with s and p and a little dill. Then beat one cup of sour cream with dill, and layer that on top. Should also have sliced hardboiled eggs (I forgot to add them). Cover with a nice crust made with homemade lard if possible. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour.
You can also make it as a two-crust pie. You can use other fish, and/or add sautéed cabbage.
December 26, 2011 Monday, Boxing Day
Fern was in roaring heat all day.
I again separated Ella so that I can supervise her feeding and put off evening milking for another day. I will be hosting dinner for 12 and have much cooking to be done.
Abby left at 10am for her new job.
The guests today included DS Max and daughters Shireen and Roshan. Mom Mitra was too ill to leave home.
DS Mark .DIL Annie was on call and his DD Hailey was also ill.
DS Martin, DIL Amy and kids Hannah and Henry (5 and 3) and Amy’s mom Karen. This was a 2pm meal.
For guests’ nibbles I served the first of my recent cheeses, a havarti.
We had ducks (2 mallards and a teal) that Martin had bagged and a roast turkey.
Cranberry sauce from my own wild berries
Stuffing with mushrooms and chestnuts
Baked Hubbard squash
Salad made by Amy
My gift from Roshan was a cello concert, a wonderful reward for my sponsorship.
Shireen gave me a framed drawing of my barn.
After evening chores, when DD Sally and I got serious about clean-up, we made the disheartening discovery that the dishwasher was not working. Sigh. I fiddled with it to no avail. The day was saved by Martin who returned to the farm, having forgotten their milk and eggs. His fiddling had better results than mine. He was able to recall the machine to its duty.
We learned that DS Bret, who was planning to fly down from Fairbanks to join his sister in Cazadero CA, missed his flight. All were disappointed.
December 27, 2011 Tuesday
One more day of Fern being milked only by Ella. Tomorrow Max is coming with a teat bucket and I will separate Ella until such time as Fern is willing to share. Max will also bring feed. The bins are down to dust. I cooked macaroni for the chickens.
Sally and I ate elegant leftovers.
Somehow yesterday I injured my right knee and am hobbling. I had to milk with my leg out straight. Getting up from the milking stool took serious planning ahead.
I began work on my seed order, a good thing to do when one’s knee is in trouble.
An update from Mitra (not for squeamish): The culture results indicate that I am on the correct antibiotic. The bacteria is Staph Aureus, the regular strain, not the MRSA strain. I’m to continue taking my current course of antibiotics. This morning, the area which I now like to describe as a fanny pack being worn on my thigh facing the other thigh, finally erupted. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! The “fluid” took the path of least resistance and came out from the site of the groin sutures. A lot of fluid. The doctor was thrilled to hear the news and wants me to keep doing what I’m doing. I have an appointment on Thursday.
December 28, 2011 Wednesday
It rained hard last night. All the snow is gone and the river is roaring.
We took a new approach this morning with Fern. Ella was penned up all night. First I milked Jasmine. Ella was tied nearby Fern. Fern was packed with milk and started letting down, the first time she has done this. I put the machine on her and got 1 ¾ gallons, as opposed to the stingy 2 quarts I have been getting. Afterward we let Ella finish up. She of course got less than usual and later in the Beefer Pen we saw her go for Jasmine who did not kick at her. Ella was then with her mother all day and I did not milk tonight.
DD Abby called from Blue Hill. Her job is very demanding. It is an elderly couple; the gentleman has cancer and the wife has Alzheimer’s.
I discovered that one window in the dining area, a “combination”, still had the screen down rather than the glass. No wonder an icy draft was hitting my head every time I lay on the couch below it.
Martin and Amy got me a new (to me) washing machine, a front loading one. I am having a good time putting in loads.
Martin was here today and moved another round bale in for the cows. Max came and brought feed and stacked wood. I was completely out of chicken feed; in fact yesterday I cooked macaroni for them. They were excited about it.
My knee is quite a lot better today. The path to the barn was a sheet of ice today. I walked with a ski pole. What a nuisance it would be if I were to fall and make it worse.
December 29, 2011 Thursday
Today’s milking was a repeat of yesterday except Fern resisted letting down for a while. She finally relaxed and gave almost 2 gallons. Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
It was bitterly cold today with lots of wind.
Mitra’s update from her doctor visit: Today was my second day of no fever!!!! The doctor thought the area looked much improved from Christmas Eve. The area has continued to drain quite a volume since it erupted on Tuesday. The doctor said the hole the fluid was coming out of was the size of a small pencil tip and he was worried it was going to heal over. He enlarged it to about a half inch slit so that the wound can drain more effectively. He expressed out a bunch more fluid. Gross. I feel so much better now that I don’t have a fever. The area on my leg is still hard and red and it HURTS!
December 30, 2011 Friday
Temperature 10F this morning and only slightly warmer by evening, however there was no wind so it did not seem bad.
Fern was quite cooperative this morning with letting down and gave the same as yesterday, just shy of 2 gallons. Ella makes no objection at all to separation. Fern bellows a little if she is in her stanchion and has finished her grain before Ella arrives. Ella now leads quite well.
Abby called about 8am. Her job is smoothing out a bit. She is to get some time off tomorrow.
Poor old Helen’s feet are bothering her a great deal. Sally gives her chopped apples with a couple of tablespoons of turmeric every day. But it is not just her feet. She is in pain while lying down also. We must make some serious decisions.
©Copyright 2011 Joann S. Rogers
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