January 1, 2009 Thursday, New Year’s Day:
The thermometer stood at -19° this morning and there was a strong steady wind. I spent about 15 minutes assembling an outfit that gave me courage to go to the barn. This was for my early trip when I feed out hay and top up the water. I wore a huge puffy full length down coat that is like hobbling along in a sleeping bag. I should have worn a scarf around my face. Apart from that I was toasty. I go out again later to milk. For this the down coat is too restrictive. One has to get one’s knees far apart to milk. I have another shorter coat that I can wear for milking but I was longing for a horse blanket. It did not warm up much at all today but the wind died down.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons of perfect milk. I noticed a slight change in the flavor of the milk from her best quarter. When I let her back out she immediately demonstrated that she was in heat. This time is was an exactly 21 day cycle.
Grandson Rafe and gf Sally B arrived about 2pm looking healthy and happy. DS Max also arrived to pick up the frozen skim milk. He was just in time to refill my wood rack. Rafe’s friend Shane from Portland arrived for dinner with a bag of lobsters from the Portland Fish Market. He also brought two young ladies, Margaret and Ann who are sisters. All pitched in with the cooking. I made cole slaw and SallyB made an apple crisp.
All the young people except SallyB heaped themselves with hats and scarves and have gone for a starlight walk. SallyB turned in early to read.
January 2, 2009 Friday:
We hatched a great late night idea yesterday to assemble the family and guests and butcher my 15 month old steer, Oakley. But it was not to be. Max could not help because he leaves early tomorrow for a 10 day job stint and had to repair fence. Their beautiful big red pig, Sophie, got out and came to the barn to visit Helen. Sophie was friendly and hopeful but Helen was utterly inhospitable and rejected Sophie’s advances to the extent of getting her nose under her and rolling her right over. Max put up new electric fence and conned Sophie into returning to her old quarters. She gave him a reproachful look. Helen and Sophie are both lonely so perhaps another time they can work it out.
Instead of the slaughter, Rafe and Shane and the two guests Margaret and Ann, split, carried and stacked a great deal of wood for me. They stacked it under the new stairs in my partly built carriage house where it will not be in the way of the carpenters. Somehow in the course of the day Rafe and Shane re-hatched the idea of killing Oakley. They plan to quarter the carcass and hang it in my cold cellar. DD Sally endorses this plan and says she will carry on with the cutting and wrapping when she gets here. It sounds like an overwhelming amount of work but perhaps we can get together the crew that worked with Max and Mitra on their pig.
Rafe and Shane went in to town and bought ammo and a Sawzall, a gift to me. I really can’t afford to take Oakley through the winter. I will not have enough hay for all three, Jasmine, Oakley and Jeremiah. It will be a sad day for me. I am extremely fond of Oakley but this is how it goes when raising a steer. His life has been very happy. I tried to weight tape him tonight but the presence of Rafe made him nervous and I could not do it. Maybe I will have better luck in the morning. I would guess him to be 950 lbs.
Jasmine’s production was way down this morning, probably due to having been in heat yesterday. She gave only 2 ½ gallons but it was perfect in every way.
We had another memorable dinner, mostly prepared by SallyB. She made a stirfry with the remaining Brussels sprouts given me by Mike, the carpenter, and some of my stored carrots. We also had cole slaw and kim chee. I roasted one of the Luick chickens using the Grassfed Gourmet roast chicken recipe with the herb rub. It came out absolutely perfectly. SallyB also made pumpkin pies and I made a big bowl of whipped cream so that we could all pile on clouds of it to our heart’s desire.
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.
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.
April 18, 2009 Saturday:
Abby, Marcia and I took an expedition to Gloria Varney’s Nezinscott Farm Store for their Saturday morning doughnuts. Gloria has a jolly store with a little of everything but the centerpiece of the operation is a comprehensive bakery. She also sells farm reared meats and dairy products. It is a Biodynamic farm and is a 45 minute drive from my farm.
When we got home we discovered that DS Martin was on his way here with little Hannah and DIL Mitra was also on her way with Shireen and Roshan who will be staying with Martin to take care of Hannah. Martin will be free to run the tractor etc. This afternoon he put the barn wiring back into conduit. It had been jerry rigged during the carriage house reconstruction. He and the girls also walked down to inspect the spring line. It is broken as usual.
We had a nice visit from my friend Kelly, (kellyj on the forum) and her daughters Sarah and Emma. Little William was napping. She showed me a tray and bag she has made using foil coffee bags. Very clever.
Marcia dug out a lot more comfrey and Abby improved the duck pen. It is now high enough to walk around in. The ducks are beginning to eat their feed.
While in the garden, Marcia observed Jeremiah methodically draining every bit of Jasmine’s milk. There is a lot of pressure on the milk right now, lots of people need it, and so I will keep him in his stall now until we catch up.
With lots of help from Abby and Marcia, I pulled together a steak dinner. With the steak I served roasted beets and Abby made scalloped potatoes and a green salad. I made a flan which we had with raspberry sauce. After dinner Abby played the piano and we sang old songs.
I am starting some beans for tomorrow. These are yellow eye beans that Abby bought at Nezinscott Farm today.
April 19, 2009 Sunday:
As expected, Jasmine gave only 2 ¼ gallons this morning. I had to ration milk and cream today. The beans I cooked overnight were a hit. Everybody ate a lot for lunch including Hannah . Abby made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. Abby and Marcia went to Wal-Mart and bought collars for the sheep, a pink one for Agnes and camo print ones for the boys. I found bells for all three. I considered putting them out in their paddock today but the shadows were getting long so I thought it better to wait for tomorrow. I would like them to have all day to get acquainted with their paddock before night falls. One ram, Kabob, has an infected ear. It does not appear to bother him but is puffed and warm.
I dug a couple of garden rows. My very first daffodils bloomed today. That is always an important season marker for me.
Max passed this way on his return from a couple of days of noise monitoring for an Army artillery range in Burlington VT. He had supper with us before taking the girls home. We had beans again, assorted leftovers and lots of my new sauerkraut, which is very good. Abby has started sourdough bread using my home made raw milk yeast.
April 20, 2009 Monday:
Without Jeremiah at her side, Jasmine gave over 3 gallons this morning. It is already all sold.
Max and Roshan climbed Bald Mountain this afternoon. They reported ice and snow on the trail. On the way back down they saw DD Abby coming up the trail towards them. She was on her way home from the dentist and saw Max’s truck parked at the trailhead so she parked and set out to meet them.
Back home, Max and Roshan ate roast chicken and brow rice pilaf that I had ready. Abby worked a couple of more hours on the sheep paddock fence. We think it is now lamb proof. Kabob’s ear is still warm and puffy. He seemed to enjoy having me stroke it. Abby slathered it with antibiotic cream which we hope does it some good.
April 21, 2009 Tuesday:
Some more tweaking of the fence, and around noon we led the lambs out to their paddock. Did I say led? These guys are pretty big and they were bounding and pulling. We each held a dog leash. Jasmine had to be shut inside the beefer pen. She ran into the paddock when Abby opened the gate and waved her foot in the air in a naughty way when I ran her inside. We had foreseen most problems, though, and the lambs were soon settled in their new quarters. I opened a bale of hay in their run-in under the buttery.
The ducks have been refusing to eat their feed. We bought what we understood they were accustomed to but it must not be. Today I tried them on straight cornmeal and along towards evening I saw the drake sampling it. It rained all day. They do have shelter but I notice they stayed out in the rain.
Jasmine gave over 3 gallons.
April 23, 2009 Thursday:
They keep promising us good weather but it has been cold and rainy. Maybe tomorrow. Yesterday Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons, 3 gallons today. Jeremiah is still in his stall. It is roomy and dry with a view of activities but he sure feels sorry for himself.
My vet stopped yesterday to look at the sheep with a swollen ear. He lanced it and squeezed out bloody plasma, not pus. It went all over DD Abby’s lavender sweater. (I forgot to ask her if it washed out). He then gave the sheep a shot of antibiotic and gave all three sheep a dose of Ivormectin.
I gave him lunch, macaroni and cheese made from scratch with Cabot cheddar, home made sauerkraut and bread pudding.
DD Abby has spent two days making a new pen for the 3 Muscovy ducks. This one is in the old granite foundation next to the new building and is larger and more secure. Now, because of the rain, it has some puddles which the duck appreciate.
Max came over today and brought grain. He removed a granite pier that was causing a problem in the doorway of the new carriage house. Formerly the door had slid past it but the new construction is slightly different at that point. It stuck up about 2’ above ground. Max dug down about 2’with a shovel to expose more of it. Then using the Kubota bucket he rocked it enough to loosen it. He wrapped a heavy chain around the tractor bucket and around the granite pier and lifted it out. It was 6’ long. It is hard to imagine what the purpose of this granite can have been. It was of course cut by hand.
Roshan came today with Max. She and Abby played a little duet on the piano. It looks like Abby will be starting her on piano lessons. I am terribly pleased at the prospect of a new pianist in the family and it will be wonderful for my piano to get some exercise.
April 24, 2009 Friday:
At last we got the long promised fine weather. Jasmine is able to find a few spots with grass long enough to graze. She spent all day trying. She gave 3 ¼ gallons this morning.
Abby stayed home while Marcia and I went to Farmington and did a series of errands and had a good time shopping. Besides picking up farm supplies, we hit two thrift shops. I found a perfect dress, actually a jumper, a brand new blender for $3, a large cotton afghan with a woven design of an angel in shades of blue, and a few tchotchkes I didn’t need such as a pair of cow salt and pepper shakers.
Mitra could not join us today because she took Shireen shopping for a dress for her school dance.
While we were gone Abby cleaned the garage and a lot of the house and planted lettuce.
I spoke on the phone to the lady from whom we bought the lambs. She confirmed that they had never been on pasture. They still don’t graze at all. I am going to try snipping grass into their grain as soon as I can find some long enough to cut. They do eat hay just fine.
For supper we had meat balls containing feta and pine nuts and a big handful of my lovage and chives that are just up.
April 25, 2009 Saturday:
The spring peepers have begun! This evening is full of the sound of their high pitched chorus. Once the peepers start, spring is officially here.
This morning I let Jeremiah out with Jasmine. Her cut teat was completely healed and I have plenty of milk in the fridge so I gave him a break. When I let him out he danced around pestering Jasmine until I could tell she was fed up and wished he would settle down. She came in this evening sucked dry so I will be lucky to get 1 ½ gallons tomorrow. He is now bigger than she is. This morning she gave 3 ½ gallons.
DD’s Abby and Marcia and I drove down to Turner today and had lunch at Gloria Varney’s Nezinscott Farm store. She gave us a tour of her expanded cheese room. We next drove around until we found Hummingbird Nursery where we bought several plants. Although they had advertised their Spring Opening Day they were not really organized for customers, many of their perennials had not broken dormancy and they had very few things we wanted. I did buy a peony and a banana plant, both of which looked good. Marcia bought some tuberous begonias.
On the way home we stopped at the new fish store in Dixfield and bought a haddock fillet for our dinner. It was of superb quality. We had it with baked potatoes and green salad.
It got up to 70° today. Marcia and Abby spotted the lambs nibbling grass at last, just a little.
April 26, 2009 Sunday:
Despite Jeremiah having sucked yesterday, Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning. I believe she was holding up a little so will expect less cream. There were no new cuts so I put Jer back out with her today. He is a bouncy guy who spends quite a lot of time doing other things besides grazing. He wanders around sniffing things and takes a lot of naps. From a distance it can be clearly seen that he is as tall or taller than Jasmine. The weight he lost when dehorned has been regained and he is sleek with a beautiful grey coat. He gets about 2 ½ lbs/day of grain which is partly 16% dairy sweet feed and partly COB (corn, oats, barley).
I had a big surprise this morning when I looked down from a new angle into the duck pen and spied three eggs in their little shelter. I had the thrill of pointing them out to Abby and Marcia when they arrived. Abby climbed down into the pen and got them. To get in you have to go down a ladder that she has leaning against the granite wall of the old foundation where she has built the pen.
Marcia loaded up her truck and took a mountain of stuff to the dump, then went on home to take advantage of the good weather to work in her garden. Abby also took a load to the dump in the trunk of her car, and then returned here to work all day. She made a wading pool for the ducks by excavating part of their area. Later she planted seeds in the veg garden.
I collected unopened leaf buds from my Balm of Gilead trees to make a rub for stiff joints or bruises. I soak the buds in olive oil. The buds are highly aromatic. The tree is in the willow family, I believe.
I also hoed out young weeds from the garden. Then I chitted my potatoes. It is customary to cut potatoes into quarters, each bearing an eye. They are then laid out in trays to await sprouting. Last year my potatoes were a total disaster, firstly from a major Colorado potato bug attack which I was unable to fight because of the relentless rain last July. Then the entire patch flooded which I dearly hope drowned the bugs. I swore I was done with potatoes, but hope springs eternal.
The lambs still spend a lot of time blatting but did some grazing. They appeared to have full rumens.
Here are some pictures of the lambs from last week when granddaughters Shireen and Roshan came to meet Agnes, Ramsey, and Kebob for the first time.
Jasmine was way out of sight in the pasture when it was time to come in but she came when I called with Jeremiah bounding along. He always runs directly into his stall. Such a good boy.
DS Mark and DIL Ann are now moved into Mitra’s mom’s condo in Farmington where they will be during their April rotation in Family Medicine, or is it Primary care. They love it.
April 27, 2009 Monday:
Beautiful weather today! My little Jasmine responded to the fresh grass by giving 4 gallons this morning. The ducks have now laid 4 eggs. The lambs are still just nibbling grass in a desultory manner, not with any conviction. They will eat handfuls if fed. I suppose that eventually they will graze properly.
DD Marcia worked in the garden for hours. She is preparing beds. She makes each bed into a work of art. Abby had an emergency dental appointment but came here afterwards with all sorts of lovely food for dinner including sea scallops. I sautéed them in coconut oil and served a dipping sauce of soy sauce in melted butter. We also had cucumber and yogurt raita.
My sister Barby in California shipped me an antique standard balance scale but the freight company would not come past Dixfield, 7 miles away, because the road is posted against heavy loads. This is done every spring after the ground thaws and until it stabilizes. Marcia and I went down in her pickup and the trucker loaded it for us. Now it will have to stay there until we can get help to unload it.
April 28, 2009 Tuesday:
Milking did not go too well this morning. I don’t think Jasmine had quite as much anyway. Most likely Jeremiah feasted yesterday. But the main trouble was that about halfway through milking one of the small air hoses to the pulsator came off and I could not put it back together without removing the machine. This annoyed Jasmine a lot. She pooped and quit letting down. In the kitchen I pour boiling water on them to soften the rubber but in the barn I have to use brute force of which I don’t have so very much. She gave 2 ½ gallons.
All morning the weather was perfect. Then about noon a strong hot wind started up. The weatherman says it is going to pull cold weather in behind it and we may get a freeze.
Abby worked around here for hours. She connected up the hose to the garden. If no rain comes with this wind we will surely need it.
Abby did the evening barn chores. When she went into the barn to do the feeding she discovered Jasmine cavorting around in the main aisle acting silly. The shaking of the barn by the wind had danced the door hook open from the beefer pen where she waits and she had come on in. That latch, supposed to be a safety latch, had become defective and I have not been able to find a replacement. Fortunately, I have a good secondary door to the grain room and as usual it was closed. I verge on fanaticism about that door, ritually closing it even to walk across the room. By now I have a trained arm that sends guilt vibes, should I grow careless.
I started a new teleme cheese.
April 29, 2009 Wednesday:
It did get down to 32° last night and did not get about 60° all day although the sun was bright and the wind less strong.
Jasmine made up for yesterday by giving over 4 gallons. So far Jeremiah has not cut her teats, in fact I don’t believe he has nursed for a couple of days. Perhaps the presence of a bit of grazing is keeping him happy. That is what I have been hoping for. I do so much prefer for him to be outdoors and of course so does he.
I hard boiled and chopped a couple of eggs for the ducks so they would have better protein than what is in their feed, since they are now laying every day.
My little black hen that lives in the barn rafters with her rooster has been setting on eggs in the grain room and today was her due date to hatch. As of this evening there was just one chick but I expect more will hatch in the night. Abby has everything set up now for her convenience when she decides to move off the nest.
I took a nice little coffee break this morning out at the lake with Marcia and Abby. They came down to the farm later and we unloaded a heavy crate shipped by my sister in California. The crate contained an old fashioned platform scale with sliding weights of the sort once found in doctor’s offices. Abby and I spent quite a while trying to get it adjusted to weigh us correctly. We may need advice on this. It had me weighing 135lbs which I am sorry to say is probably off by 30 pounds. Anyway, I am thrilled to be the new owner of this elegant scale.
Barby also sent some wool blankets woven long ago from wool from my grandparents’ farm here in Maine. In those days you could take your wool to a mill and get it back as handsome blankets.
April 30, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons this morning.
Max came over to repair my spring line so that I can once again have spring water flowing into the granite sink. During the winter the pipe always breaks where it crosses the brook at the mouth of the river. He took the dogs with him. The loose end of the broken plastic pipe had to be retrieved from the far side of the brook. There is a big fallen tree that we always cross on. The dogs followed him across on it and disappeared into the woods so Max came back over without them. A bit later as he was working on the repair, he heard splashing and whimpering and after a few minutes he investigated. It was Willie, my West Highland terrier, who had fallen in when trying to return on the log. He could not get up the steep muddy bank and was about to drown. Only his eyes and nose were above water. Max was able to reach down and rescue him by the scruff. He would have drifted away under water and I would have been hunting and calling in the woods never suspecting what had happened. It is not far to a sand bar but he wore himself out trying to get up in the worst place.
Back at the house, Max was able to get my new scale to weigh correctly. A couple of stabilizers under the platform had come loose during travel.
We saw a pair of Cooper’s hawks circling each other high in the sky, no doubt a mating pair.
Abby was here all day working with the animals and in the garden. The hatching clutch is progressing slowly. I thought it best to take out the three chicks that have hatched so far and offer them a mixture of corn meal and whey. Abby put their beaks in the mixture and they all drank. She also held the dish up for the hen who seemed grateful too.
My two family doctors, DS Mark and DIL Ann, came over for supper. Mark is in the ER on this rotation and was pleased to have had the opportunity to stitch a scalp cut. He has seldom been offered the chance.
I served them beef brisket that had simmered slowly in the Aga all day. We also had fiddleheads that Max picked down by the river.
May 01, 2009 Friday:
It rained all morning, and then turned into a balmy spring day. Jasmine gave 3 gallons. She has stopped eating her hay and only wants to graze. I still cannot tell for sure whether her erratic production is due to Jeremiah nursing or perhaps to not eating hay. She has been free of mastitis for some weeks now. In the evening before I separate them her udder feels uniformly half full.
My setting hen hatched only four of her 8 eggs. My rooster may not be up to his job. The two ducks continue to lay an egg each.
The sheep are looking just fine. They graze a little better. They blat like goats whenever they see me and are very friendly.
Abby planted a lot more seeds including French sorrel and arugula. I cleaned one of the strawberry beds.
I made doughnuts this morning using my grandmother’s recipe. I have to say without fear of contradiction that these doughnuts can’t be beat. I think I have posted the recipe before, but will again. There is no big secret. You just have to use good ingredients such as fresh eggs, real butter, freshly grated nutmeg, and the most important factor, real animal fat for frying.
Here is the recipe.
You need a heavy pan that will float 6 or 7 doughnuts at a time without their touching. The fat needs to be at least 1 ½ “ deep. They are best cooked in a fat that is solid at room temp such as lard or a mixture that achieves the same thing. One time I used a mixture of 4 fats. 1 pint lard, 1 pint duck fat, 1 pint beef fat, and maybe 1 cup sunflower seed oil (just so I didn’t have to use any more of my scant supply of lard. Today I used half beef fat (tallow) and half lard; this is perhaps the ideal combo of fats. You vary the amount of fat according to what is necessary in order to get it deep enough. You can strain and reuse the fat, adding some vit E while it is still sort of hot as a preservative.
Have everything set up and ready. Line a cookie sheet with a couple of layers of newspaper on which to drain the doughnuts. Set this next to your hot fat.
I don’t use a thermometer. Fry a test piece. It should sink for about 30 seconds, then float up and sizzle but not violently. As you see the edges getting tan take a fork and turn it over. If the fat is too hot the doughnut won’t puff because the crust forms too fast. If the fat is not hot enough a flocculent surface develops that soaks up to much fat. Get all your doughnuts cut out before frying. Then work fast, slowing down only in case the fat cools down too much. If it does, pause while it heats up.
1 cup sugar 1 heaping tablespoon of soft butter or lard 2 eggs Salt , about 1 teaspoon (Grammie’s recipe just says “salt”) 1 cup milk Nutmeg Flour (amount not specified but it takes a scant 4 cups, more for rolling out) Today I used 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour substituted for 1 cup of King Arthur unbleached. 1 tablespoon baking powder (Rumford) Combine dry ingredients well.
Beat eggs and add soft butter and sugar. Beat well and add milk
Add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Dough should not be hard but add enough flour so that it is easily handled and rolled.
Grammie listed the ingredients with no instructions. I have evolved these.
Shake doughnuts in powdered sugar if desired.
May 02, 2009 Saturday:
DD Marcia put on a fabulous Kentucky Derby dinner party for 10 of us. For starters Abby made crisp oven baked eggplant slices. She dipped thinly sliced eggplant in egg and seasoned flour and baked them on a cookie sheet brushed with olive oil, turning them once. The slices stood in for crackers with a dip of Greek tzatziki. For dinner, Marcia served Creole shrimp served on a ring of polenta surrounded by a ring of roasted red pepper sauce. It was perfect. She also served a beautiful salad and crusty bread that Mark and Ann brought from Standard Baking Company in Portland. DD Abby made a chocolate pecan pie in which she substituted dark molasses for the corn syrup. It too was awesome. (I made the whipped cream.) Present were DS Mark, DIL Ann, granddaughter Hailey (who passed her driving test today!), DS Max, DIL Mitra and granddaughter Roshan. Shireen is away on a school trip.
When I left to go to Marcia’s it was pretty early to bring in Jasmine and Jeremiah and she did not come when I called. It was 9 pm when I got home, totally dark, and she was not up at the barn. I have left them out together. They should be OK but I doubt I will get any milk in the morning.
The hen and chicks are thriving. Only four hatched.
May 03, 2009 Sunday:
Despite having Jeremiah with her all night, Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons. The lambs are now grazing with more of an air of commitment. All three call out whenever they see me. The two rams say “Baaa”. Agnes says “Mwaagh” rather like a goat being strangled.
I added compost to my strawberry bed, dug out some excess horseradish and some clumps of goldenrod that I should have dug last fall. It is an invasive weed here. I could scarcely believe it when I saw goldenrod seed for sale in the Thompson and Morgan catalogue.
DD Abby did not come down today. She has a terrible toothache. She hates to call her dentist again on a weekend but she will surely see him tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009:
The sun came up fair but rain is predicted for later today. Yesterday Marcia and I planted two long rows of potatoes out in the paddock garden. We were both so tired we could hardly move. Later I went out to the lake taking my black beans. The flavor was outstanding. First I soaked them overnight, and then I simmered them for an hour or so in plain water which I discarded and replaced with hot chicken stock. I seasoned them with a lot of garlic, a big handful of fresh lovage, some chili mix and half a can of tomato paste. I added some leftover fat from a roasted brisket (beans without fat have no character). Towards the end I added in some pre made meat balls from a Middle Eastern dinner that I had frozen. The beans were a huge hit. Marcia served them in soup plates garnished with a heap of steamed collards. I also brought a flan.
At noon I made a quick trip to my dentist for some easy cosmetic work. While I was gone it started to rain and the rain continued all afternoon, not heavy but steady. Nonetheless, Abby worked in the garden until 6 o’clock.
Jasmine gave over 3 ½ gallons this morning.
May 06, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave 3 ½ + gallons again this morning. I had hoped to switch to measuring the milk in pounds now that I have the scale but carrying the full machine the extra distance is more than I can do. Once in a while when I have help I will weigh it. I have things arranged so that I need only lift the milk straight up onto the wagon and off again onto a little low table to pour it, which I can do by tipping the bucket.
I roasted one of the Luick chickens for dinner. Marcia and Abby brought the rest of the meal except for my first asparagus. Such a treat! Abby made mashed potatoes and a red bell pepper and cucumber salad. I cooked the chicken all day in the Aga at a very low temperature. It was perfectly tender and very juicy. To top it off, Abby made a lemon meringue pie. Instead of water in the lemon filling she used half cream. What flavor!
It rained most of the day.
May 07, 2009 Thursday:
Marcia and I went to Farmington today on errands. Marcia really meant to go to a dental appointment but it turned out that she had mistaken the time and missed it. We rounded up Mitra and went to lunch. Abby also went to a dental appoint driving separately. She continues to suffer a great deal with toothache and cannot seem to get satisfactions from her dentist. He acts a bit as though he suspects her of faking the pain to get pain pills.
On the way home Marcia and I stopped at the garden of Marion Hutchinson, president of our garden club, and bought a few plants. I bought a large well potted hosta for $5 and Marcia bought some lilies.
Over the last couple of days Marcia and I have both been making yogurt and yogurt cream cheese using commercial Greek-style yogurt as our starter. We are both delighted with the rich creamy results.
Jasmine gave nearly 4 gallons this morning. She is still holding up some of her cream due to having Jeremiah with her during the day but with volume like that we don’t feel deprived. She is wonderful about coming when called in the evening when both are far away grazing. She trots right up the hill to the barn with Jer dancing along. He is wonderful about trotting right in to his stall, right past her bucket of grain. There is always a little grain waiting in there for him. In the morning I take grain into his stall and put it into his pan. I say “Back, back”, fluttering my hand at him, and he always gets right back out of my way. That and “Walk up” are the only commands he knows. I say “Walk up” in the morning when it is time to leave his stall. I think “back” is perhaps the most important command to teach. Steers are excellent learners. I have always found them to be friendly and cooperative. Jer was also good while he was a horned bull but I did not fully trust him.
The lambs are growing fast now. Ramsey must weigh at least 50 pounds.
It rained all day. Early this morning I was greeted by a leak in my office. Fortunately it did not hit any books but the basin I set out got a gallon in it in 2 hours.
May 08, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons.
My mind is foggy. I have just learned that my grandson Tommy (18) in Australia has broken his spine between the 5th and 6th vertebrae. He was practicing back flips. He is fairly accomplished at acrobatics and a skilled bareback rider but the accident occurred while jumping off the back of his parked car. He was able to weakly call his brother from the house. Jack then called the ambulance. Tom was taken to the regional hospital in Murray Bridge and then air lifted to the Royal Adelaide. He has had an MRI and is in traction. He can move his hands but is otherwise paralyzed. Surgery is planned right away.
May 09, 2009 Saturday:
I got up pretty early because of thinking about Tommy. Jasmine gave close to 4 gallons of milk. It rained most of the day and at the time they should have come in Jasmine and Jeremiah were somewhere in the trees. We were having an electrical storm and I did not feel like going to look for them so both are out together. It will be interesting to see what she has for milk in the morning.
During the afternoon I was up at Marcia’s place at the lake with her and DD Abby and DS Max and Mitra and the girls. Mitra made pulled pork which she served on buns and I brought cole slaw to add to the buns. There was plenty for everybody. Marcia made an elegant torte with a layer of marzipan and a topping of crumbled amaretto cookies.
Early this morning Marcia went in her kayak (before the storm), as usual taking her two Chihuahuas, and paddled up to see the eagle’s nest. She paddled very close to a Canada goose that seems to be part of a breeding pair, the first I have ever known of on Lake Webb. Just then the eagle swooped down between her and the goose and sunk its talons into a very large fish. The fish was too heavy to allow the eagle to become airborne again so it did this extraordinary butterfly stroke dragging the fish to a bit of beach where she could see it flopping around as the eagle tore it up. And then, to top off the drama, a pair of loons took exception to her presence and swam up to scold her. They must have a nest in the shallows.
When I got home about 5pm DS John called me from Adelaide and gave me a report on Tommy’s surgery. The doctor made a 3 or 4 inch incision in the front of his neck and rebuilt the 5th cervical vertebra using bone from Tommy’s hip. He has the use of his arms and torso but his lower half is paralyzed. He can feel if someone squeezes his toe but cannot move anything. The doctor listened with his stethoscope and was able to hear bowel sounds, which means Tommy can eat when he wants to. He is still too sedated to even try, plus his throat hurts from the tubes that were down it. It is still way to soon to predict when Tommy may regain functionality but John sounded a lot more confident.
I talked to DS Bret whose specialty is nutrition and physiology. He says that what Tommy especially needs is Omega 3 fatty acids to bring down the swelling in his injury. We will see that Tommy gets these right away.
During evening chores I found a kitten wandering around in the beefer pen. Max had reported hearing one this morning when he was over here getting some hay for Helen but could not find it. I suppose it had fallen through from the hay mow. It is pretty small, a mere toddler, but its eyes are open. I brought it into the kitchen, quieted it with warm cream from a medicine dropper, and put it in a box on the Aga with a sweater to sleep in. It is a long haired black kitten.
I do not need a kitten.
May 10, 2009 Sunday:
Tommy’s doctor discovered that his blood oxygen was very low and he has been moved to the ICU and is on a ventilator. He was having trouble breathing. It is not yet known whether this is due to lung infection or to failure of the spinal cord to relay the proper instructions to breathe. He is now in a medically induced coma and has a feeding tube. He will be on the ventilator for at least another day but the report this evening is that Tommy is starting to breathe better.
Here is an excerpt from my son John’s most recent email:
I just phoned the social worker on the case – Manoj Pereira. He is a nice young man, I suspect from Kerala, otherwise perhaps Goa or Malaysia. (Most of the Indians with Portugese surnames that I run into are from one of those places.) Most importantly, he knows everything about the way the hospital operates. When I called, he had just been through Tommy’s case notes. He mentioned that all the fees, from the ambulance, to the helicopter (from Murray Bridge Regional Hospital to the Royal Adelaide Hospital), to the MRI, doctor’s fees, everything – are covered by Medicare. And I have to say everything has been first-rate. For example, in ICU he has one or two nurses with him at all times, and there have been no delays at any stage. The night Tommy was admitted, they called Manoj in from his home at around midnight to sit with us and explain procedures. He hung around for a couple of hours in case he could be of assistance. It’s a good system.
Abby and Marcia came down today. Marcia is working to make a dear little garden by the bulkhead outside the kitchen window. Abby worked for hours to put better leak proofing over the chicken room. The barn roof is in terrible shape. So is my house roof. Yesterday during a cloud burst I collected a gallon of water in my office in about a half hour. I have my contractor lined up to do roofing – soon I hope.
Abby, as I knew she would, took charge of the kitten today. She tried to find a mama to put it back with but none of the cats wanted it so it is back in its box in the kitchen. Sigh.
May 11, 2009 Monday:
Fine weather today. Jasmine gave almost 4 gallons. The grass is now about 4” long and totally beautiful. Abby carried the kitten around inside her sweater yesterday, and then gave it the sweater to sleep with. It slept about 12 hours. In fact this morning I finally woke it up to feed it. We are using a medicine dropper rather than a nursing bottle. It takes it better.
John called me at 8 this morning from Adelaide. His brother Bret in Alaska had sent him an important abstract about Omega 3’s in spinal injury by: Dr.W. L. Huang and colleagues, Neuroscience Centre, Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Queen Mary University of London. It is evident that Omega 3’s given following spinal injury (the sooner the better) make a significant favorable difference in outcomes. John is hoping to get cooperation from the dietician to include Omega 3’s in Tommy’s stomach tube feed.
Tommy’s respiratory status is improved but not enough to discontinue the respirator. A tracheotomy is being considered.
May 12, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave over 4 gallons this morning. I was a half hour later than usual getting out there and she was crabby. Despite being stuffed she resisted letting down, particularly in her best quarter, her front left, which is Jeremiah’s favorite. She kept whapping me with her tail which was not as clean as one would expect of a cow on gorgeous grass. I finally stood up and pulled it up in between her left leg and udder where is remained stuck. This trick works pretty well if the udder is full.
Son John wrote this morning: Negatory on the trach – they keep discussing it and putting it off. They really don’t want to do it because of risk of infection, esp. infection around the plates they installed on the vertebrae, which are very close by to the trach op point. Respiratory insufficiency is due to weak diaphragm…there was minor damage to C4, the vert just up from where the main damage was done. The nerves from C4 control the diaphragm.
As long as Tom can tolerate the breathing tube through the mouth, they will persist with it I think. But anything is possible.
John is still not able to get cooperation on giving Tom Omega 3 oil. He says the down side of socialized medicine is bureaucratic stubbornness. I have to say, in the US requests such as this also meet with resistance but without that excuse.
George Brown, my builder, came by today with his crew and dropped off staging for the roofing which is next. My house and barn are headed for serious trouble if not repaired so I must get this done whether I can afford it or not. DS Bret says never mind worrying about your electronic equipment getting swamped. If your walls fill up with black mold the house gets toxic. Yipes!
The kitten, still nameless, is doing well on cow’s milk. It’s a fighter.
Marcia and I worked out by the front gate clearing nasty bittersweet vine. I planted my new pink peony out there next to a white rose. I quit when my back started to give pain but Marcia kept on working and now she is suffering. She ran her weed whacker too, until its battery died.
May 14, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine gave more than 4 ½ gallons this morning. She was so stuffed that the machine wouldn’t fit right. I had to physically support her heaviest quarter to make it high enough off the floor to allow the vacuum to function. On a Surge, squishing down on the teat cups cuts off suction. I left Jeremiah out with her tonight in hopes he will drink some of the milk and take the pressure off of her. I am worried about her attachments. It is raining so they may stay inside and eat hay although I doubt it.
I was up to the Grange Hall this morning on an errand and one of my neighbors told me that the other day her mother-in-law was driving past my place and observed Jasmine and Jeremiah running fast towards the river. Then she saw that they were chasing a fox! I guess I have watch cows. I am definitely missing chickens. They are shut in at night so the fox is coming during the day.
John says that Tommy had a bit of a scare yesterday when his potassium levels fell and he developed tachycardia. After he was stabilized he was again sedated. The doctor has made the decision to do a tracheotomy on Monday. Tommy is suffering a lot with the air tube. It is eroding his throat.
DS Max and DIL Mitra came over today and we potted up seedlings for her to sell tomorrow at the farmer’s market. I gave her chervil, lettuce, Brussels sprouts and arugula in 4” pots and lovage and horseradish in 10” pots. Marcia also has some of her bags ready to sell.
The kitten is now named The Black Plague.
May 15, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine and Jeremiah appear to have had a pleasant night on pasture. The rain stopped as did the horrible wind and it got up to 60°. Jas gave 2 ½ gallons. I left them together again tonight.
Abby and I went together to Farmington to pick up my 12 ducklings and 4 poults. Boxes and boxes of baby birds were ranged on long tables with heat lamps. They were all vigorously racing back and forth between the feed and water and peeping. Talk about cute! I wished I could have one of each.
We also visited Mitra at her table at the farmer’s market where she was meeting lots of interesting people. On her table were two small glass bowls, one with a duck egg and the other with a chicken egg. People were very interested to see the difference between the two and also wowed by the color of the yolks. She sold out of duck eggs in the first ten minutes at $0.50/each. She also sold all the lovage seedlings we dug up. I came home with 6 Danish Ballhead cabbage seedlings.
Abby is taking care of the new birds out at camp where there is a good unused room in Marcia’s shed. She reported that the poults seemed discouraged and out competed by the ducklings. She has now set them up separately.
Back home, I carried on with digging the grass and dandelions out of my rose bushes and planted my cabbages.
John called from Adelaide. Tommy has stabilized following yesterday’s alarm and his blood oxygen has normalized and he is breathing well. They are still unwilling to remove the respirator tube and still have the tracheotomy scheduled for Monday. The ICU docs want the tube out and the trach available for emergencies. The spinal docs want the tube left in, or possibly removed and the trach op cancelled because they don’t want another incision so close to the first because of fear of infection.
But!! One doctor today put his hand on the sole of Tommy’s foot and asked him to push back against his hand and Tommy could do it. We are all thrilled as also of course was Tommy. Then the nurse took John aside and told him not to get his hopes up too much, but they are already up.
May 18, 2009 Monday:
Last Friday Jasmine’s milk was slow to strain and on Saturday it was even slower. There were only a small number of tiny clumps, but trouble was brewing. I suspected stress from her overfull udder on Thursday. I cut her about half a bushel of comfrey which is now up in thick clumps. I did this again Sunday and today. Today the milk strained perfectly. Both yesterday and today she gave 3 ½ gallons. Jeremiah has been with her the whole time. This evening they got no grain. She came up at 4:30 and hung around for half an hour but I was slow getting out there because DD Marcia and I were having a toasted cheese sandwich on the deck. It’s not like she really needs any grain. The grass is super.
So were our sandwiches. On Saturday I made yeast raised pumpkin bread using one of my Long Pie pumpkins stored from last year. It had just begun to get some little spots so I needed to use it right away. It was perfect and so was the bread. I made a pan of rolls and a loaf of bread. For our sandwiches I used this bread and a teleme cheese that I made a couple of weeks ago. It was my best so far. I must start another right away before I forget my tweaks.
We had family dinners at the lake both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we had red beans and rice and braised chicken. On Sunday we had beef ribs that I cooked very long and slowly in the Aga – a fine beefy flavor. Abby made an excellent apple pie flavored with freshly ground cardamom.
DS John writes that after reaching a decision to do a tracheostomy on Tommy on Monday it has been postponed until Tuesday. It is already Tuesday in Australia so I hope to hear soon if it was done. Tommy is suffering a great deal with the respirator tube down his throat plus an intermittent feeding tube. He is being terribly brave but it really is awful. The tube has been in for a week and is eroding his throat and preventing speech. He has had another episode of collapsed lung. We don’t understand how this is possible with so many electronic monitors and nurses in constant attendance.
The construction crew is back to start on roofing.
May 19, 2009 Tuesday:
Fortunately I was up and around by six this morning. Things soon got complicated. The construction workers always make an early start. Mike, who keeps lots of animals himself, said he could hear a baby chick in the bushes by the barn. He and I crept about in the shrubbery for a long time nearly catching a newly hatched black chick, but not quite. It is remarkable how hard it is to catch a tiny bird. Willie kept trying to help and mostly he stayed back as told but I guess finally he could not stand our ineptitude and he darted in and grabbed the chick and ran off with it. He dropped it when I yelled at him but sorry to say, it was dead. Perhaps he did not realize we were trying to save it. I have been in the habit of letting him catch mice when I find them in the sunflower seed bin.
I found the mother hen up in the hay mow with two more chicks. I had known there was a black hen setting up there somewhere. Max arrived a little later and moved her to safe quarters.
By now it was 8:30. I had seen nothing of Jasmine. I had been calling her intermittently and getting no reply so took a walk along the river where there is a copse favored by cows hoping to set up private colonies. There was no evidence of recent cow visits to the area. I have the north side of the farm fenced off so did not immediately check in that direction. Then I spotted her in the former horse paddock that we have made into a garden. They were both there and being very quiet. Jasmine had pushed over a fence but no other harm was done apart from big footprints and the strings along the rows all torn out.. The potatoes are not up.
It was easy to get Jasmine back to the barn with the bribe of grain but not so easy with Jeremiah. It looked dark in the barn and he wasn’t having anything to do with it. I ended up having to tease him around the front yard for 20 minutes before I got him through a different gate. Moving reluctant cattle is not my favorite aerobic sport, no it is not. In fact I had hoped to complete my earthly course without ever doing it again.
Jasmine gave 4 gallons. I gave her more comfrey and the milk strained flawlessly but one quarter (the same one as before) gave salty milk.
DD Abby came over this morning and washed up the milking things and tended to the small animals. She is not feeling well. Max came over and repaired the fence mashed by the cows. Marcia came over and we marked out the cornrows with strings and hoed little trenches for easy planting. I made a couple of loaves of bread. The workmen have scaled the old shingles off a big section of the roof on my house. What a mess it makes.
DS John called from Australia. Tommy’s tracheostomy was postponed yet again because of scheduling conflicts. He had a bad night but feels better now. He and of course John are getting a little distraught over the delays. John called and says he feels pretty confident that by tomorrow morning, my time, he will report it has been done.
May 20, 2009 Wednesday:
They were good little cows and waited for me this morning. They had to wait a long time because I overslept and did not get up until 7:15. Jeremiah amused himself by drinking nearly all the milk. Tonight I kept him in so that I can catch up on the supply and maybe make some cheese. Also I try to make as much butter as possible at this time of year because of its special quality. I am keeping up with feeding comfrey to Jas. There is now no evidence of mastitis apart from slightly less sweetness to the milk in the one quarter.
DD Abby has been suffering from a disagreeable tummy upset and now swears by comfrey tea. She feels that it is making a real difference. She just boils the leaves and sips the infusion.
The crew got a big section of roof onto the barn today.
I did some more flowerbed prep and put in two rose bushes I got from Walmart for $3 each.
May 21, 2009 Thursday:
First thing this morning instead of letting Willie run around I put him directly on his chain. He has been finding places to wriggle under the fence so he can chase the fox. I can never see the fox myself because he or she approaches so that the barn blocks my view. To reach the chickens I enter their room in the barn through an interior door and open their outer door from inside. When I did this today, there was the fox about 50’ from the barn where he had been waiting for the Coburn Farm Slow Food Emporium to open for business. The cheeky thing did not even hurry away. Undoubtedly it knew that Willie was chained, not that with his stubby legs he could outrun the fox. I am down to 10 layers.
I found one missing layer setting on about a dozen eggs. She was hiding in plain sight. Amazing how they do that. Another hen has flopped down broody with no eggs on the top shelf in the hen room. Until today I did not notice that behind her under a flap of insulation sits another hen. It is not a good idea to allow a hen to brood a clutch in with the others birds because her friends will keep popping extra eggs under her with the result that some hatch way later than others. Also another hen will sometimes try to usurp the nest and cause a fight that ends up with nobody sitting on the eggs. However in this case I believe I will leave her alone. At least she is safe from the fox.
Marcia worked up some more ground in my veg garden today for the pole beans. Unfortunately I have mislaid my bean seed. I think I will have to try to buy some more. I have done a germination test on last year’s corn seed and am pleased with the results. We have the ground all ready for the corn. Abby is feeling a little better and planted some last potatoes that I was afraid were going to waste.
Doctor Cooper, my vet, was in the neighborhood and stopped in for lunch. Marcia and I flew around and got some food together. We had some of last night’s curried turkey and I made stir fried greens with this and that from the garden including comfrey, which cooks up like spinach.
My grandson Tommy has now had the tracheostomy. They also inserted a feeding tube directly into his stomach so no more tubes down the throat. He is very much happier now despite that fact that for some reason they did not place a trach tube that allows for speaking. Soon it is expected that he will be able to eat.
I kept Jeremiah in last night. This morning Jasmine had 5 gallons of milk! I left them together tonight so she will not get so stuffed.
Here is an exerpt from an e-mail from Mitra about Max and their pig Sophie:
Max was just down near Sophie’s area digging in our manure pile while Sophie supervised him closely. She is due with her piglets on June 3rd and is finding that laying about is all she’s really up for these days. Max called me to come watch him demonstrate how pigs should be properly scritched and rubbed. Sophie was laying on her tummy and he rubbed the side of her big red hairy belly. She heaved herself over onto her side to give him better access to her whole belly. Imagine a 700lb tub rolling over. And now she has two rows of teats that are growing bigger each day! He rubbed the length of her belly while she stretched out as far as she could including her neck. He also happens to know the exact spot to rub/tickle on her belly that makes her shake her leg like a dog. She was blissed out with her eyes closed and everything while Max continued to give her this amazing belly rub! The he says, “You usually only get this view when they’ve been slaughtered.” Horrible man.
May 22, 2009 Friday:
Sweet little Jasmine gave 2 gallons of perfect milk this morning despite being all night with Jeremiah. I separated them again tonight because I have extra requests for milk this weekend but will make every effort to milk early tomorrow.
Marcia came down and prepared a highly professional looking area for beans. She reordered bean seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and they may arrive tomorrow. We probably won’t get them in the ground for a couple of more days because tomorrow we are going to Whitehill Farm/Tomato Lover’s Paradise to pick up our heirloom seedlings. That is always fun. It is a beautiful hillside nursery with commanding views of Maine farmland and hills. We expect to meet Mitra there and also DIL Amy.
DS John called from Adelaide. He said that now that Tommy is not just hanging on for dear life to endure the tubes down his throat, John feels that he is beginning to heal. He still cannot speak because no air is going through his vocal cords but he is not in pain. He can be raised to a 45° angle and can be raised to a 90° angle with a neck brace. Nothing yet by mouth except a few sips but the omega 3 has been restarted. I suggested probiotics and John is going to shop for some that can be added to the feeding tube and maybe a high protein drink if one can be found that is not soy.
The recent episode of vomiting that resulted in discontinuation of the O-3 was most likely due to erythromycin. Eve, his mother, had told the doc when Tommy first entered the hospital that he had been allergic to that med as a baby but the doc thought that was too long ago to be of importance and did not mark it on his chart. He is not on a BP monitor because no-one could find an artery in his wrist. They tried for a half hour. That happened to me once in the hospital and it’s no picnic. Tommy’s nurse was terribly upset (as was mine when that happened). Tommy’s care is actually very good and always attentive.
I had not, until today, understood that although Tommy has strength in his arms, he has very little dexterity with his fingers so he cannot write. It is now exactly 14 days since his accident. On or about Monday the current trach arrangement is to be replaced with something that permits speech.
May 23, 2009 Saturday:
Max writes: “We got an unusually early phone call that turned out to be a highly caffeinated Scott Greaney informing us that we had to come get our chicks this morning. Mitra and Shireen just finished dipping each of their 100 beaks into clabber and counting them off into their ward in the basement. They are cute for a couple of days before they begin their mutant transformation.
As I drove up to the Greaney’s I saw a small hawk struggling to fly with a very fat mouse hanging from its talons. The mouse appeared to be still alive and was hanging down by its scruff with a very resigned look. Probably not enjoying the flight.”
Some years ago I figured out that if chicks can have a first meal of whey or clabber they are protected against coccidiosis. We never buy medicated feed and never lose and chicks to disease. I should modify that to state that we try never to buy medicated feed but in some cases no other feed is available.
I did not hear from John today about Tommy.
May 24, 2009 Sunday:
DD Abby and I went to Dixfield today to take lilacs to my Grammie’s grave. We stayed about 20 minutes. The weather was perfect. It took me some time to find the gravestone because they have cut down the tree next to it. I can’t think why they did that. Many other trees at other plots were not cut. My father planted that fir tree 35 years ago.
May 25, 2009 Monday Memorial Day:
DS Mark, his daughter Hailey and wife Ann stayed here last night as did Max and Mitra’s daughters Shireen and Roshan. Max returned this morning and he and his girls worked about four hours picking up the roofing mess. What an improvement!
Jasmine gave 2 gallons. She had Jeremiah with her last night.
Dot Mason, a lifelong resident of this area (89 years) called this morning asking if I was a good sport. I said I hoped so and what might I do for her. She wanted another woman to come along and ride in the back seat of the 1925 Model T Ford that the Town of Carthage always has in the Memorial Day Parade. The sun was bright and I dressed in light touring clothes not taking into account that at 15 or 20 miles an hour one is experiencing a 15 or 20 mile an hour wind in a vehicle with no windows on the sides. Fortunately Steve Brown, our First Selectman and driver, smartly dressed in black with a bowler hat, provided a big lap robe. This was a very good thing because a gusty head wind was added. We picked up our third passenger, Ken Ellis, 91, and set out for the parade which was seven miles away in Weld where DD Marcia and DS Martin have their camps. The brave little car hiccupped, jerked, bounced and backfired for the entire trip. It was variously conjectured that there was water in the gas, that the ethanol component of the gas was alien to the motor, and that most of the gas had been in the tank all winter (not a good thing). The route is hilly and several times I thought we might all soon be pushing but we actually made it early to the mustering ground behind the Legion hall. The reason we got there early, was that the planner of this expedition had misunderstood the hour. Dot and I did not stir from under our rug while we watched the parade line up. This included a group of 12 Legionnaires assemble along with a cluster of children on bicycles, a mom with two children in a patriotically decorated wagon, a new red International tractor, the freshly washed and still wet Weld fire truck and the Old Crow marching band assembled on a flatbed trailer. The tuba player walked. There was also a 4-wheeler with a big black Lab up behind the driver and ourselves in the flivver. Have I left anyone out? Yes, a County Sheriff and a spiffy looking military gentleman in a black beret. There was a delay, surprisingly brief, when it was discovered that the International was out of gas. “She’s drizabone”, I heard somebody say. Weld is small and it only took a minute to run with a can to the gas station, whose owner Mike was no doubt in the crowd. We then moved off along the parade route, our Tin Lizzy gasping and stuttering, across the bridge over Bowley Brook, past the Weld Historical Society building which Dot told me used to be the home of her grandmother, skirted the flagpole that marks the center of Weld, proceeded steeply up past the Congregational Church where I spotted my lovely twin daughters Marcia and Abby running beside us each leading a Chihuahua, and just a few more steps to the circular driveway of the Weld Free Public Library where there is another flagpole and monuments to Weld’s fallen soldiers. A citizen of Weld (Fred English) gave a speech followed by a prayer offered by a citizen of Carthage (Eddie Pulk). The band played three suitable numbers, then taps. The flag, which had been standing at half mast was then lowered and raised up. As the parade retraced its route I saw son Martin and his FIL Ken waving. There were many friendly faces. The church bell was set to ringing with the full natural resonance of a real cast bell.
The return drive to Carthage was pretty tense. The Model T often gasped nearly to a halt and Steve would roll it to the shoulder for safety, he detoured into driveways to get it restarted, and once he had to get out and crank. Every hill was a thrilling challenge as Dot and I huddled closer and wrapped our blanket tighter. I got to hear many anecdotes from Dot’s years in Weld, Carthage and school years in Portland long ago where she and her girl friend lived carefully but comfortably on $10 a week including their rent. They even went to all the new movies. Dot worked all her life as a hairdresser and there are few people around here whom she does not know. When they were little, she even cut the hair of my sons Mark and Martin.
Back home, I ran around hand watering plants in pots and in the ground. Many of the pots were dry as biscuits and by tomorrow would be toast.
An email from John in Adelaide says that Tommy still cannot speak even though the tubes are out of his throat. John found several doctors clustered at his bedside trying to agree on what treatment if any to explore. He says he thought that were he to speak up and declare his preference they would have agreed but he has no way to know what is best. The plan now seems to be to encourage solid food with only water to drink so no more fortified milk drinks at present.
May 26, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave 4 gallons. The milk fridge was empty so thank you Jasmine. I kept them separated again tonight. I have been able to make very little butter because most of the milk is being drunk and because of Jeremiah, Jas continues to hold back half the cream. I made one pound of butter today.
We had a light frost last night. I lost a few plants.
Together, Marcia and I planted the corn. You are supposed to wait until the soil warms to 60° which it has not. But the sun was bright and rain is predicted. That should help. We planted four rows, two of Bicolor and two of Sumptuous. I will pace them out again but I would guess that these are 100’ rows. The potatoes are up. I still have to plant beans. I am hoping for a hot spell for planting tomatoes. The plants must go in soon because they are in tiny 2” pots and are all at least 8” tall. They have good leaf color. Amy LeBlanc who grows them is all organic. Most of the varieties are heirlooms.
The men now have the front side of the barn roofing on.
May 27, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave slightly less than 4 gallons. She was very sweet and cooperative. Despite her 4 gallons yesterday and today, there are only 2 gallons in the fridge. Jas and Jer are separated again tonight.
The crew arrived this morning at their usual hour of 8am. The moved their scaffolding to the back of the barn and got all set for roofing when it began to rain. This was several hours sooner the predicted. They had to pack u p and leave. Max arrived about the same time and resumed mowing, also did a bunch of other needed tasks such as delivering more manure to the paddock garden where I will plant the curcubits whenever it stops raining. It is quite cold. I think the high today was 44F. I have a brisk fire in the kitchen fireplace but refuse to turn the furnace back on.
DD Sally called from Haines AK to tell me that her chicks are hatching. She bought herself an incubator and her daughter Rebecca gave her a couple of dozen eggs. Until now she has always had to order chicks. She has not had electricity for very long.
I made the happy observation that my Dutchman’s Pipe vine (Aristolochia) that was such an elegant adornment to the old carriage house but had to be mostly torn out in the reconstruction has put out a few little tendrils. Everything else around here is leafed out and the remaining wood of this 100 year old vine appeared dead. I am terribly pleased.
Here is a picture of Tommy sent by John called “My Wild Colonial Boy”.
John writes of his visit today with Tommy:
I bought Tommy a new laptop today. He is able to use it using the touch pad. We waited two hours to see him because of delays in radiology. They wheeled him there only to be told he’d have to wait. He waited there in the hall for over an hour. When they brought him back he went into a new room in “stepdown” which is still ICU but only one nurse per two rooms. The radiology seems to have been a great success – no esophageal leakage. It is a tentative result as the specialist was unavailable. I think Mark can describe this procedure if you are interested as he would have a lot of experience there. Some sort of dye is swallowed and they see if any makes it into the lung. That was a very important result. The speech lady, diet lady, doctors, and nurses will all confer tomorrow about removing various things like his trachie tube and putting him on solid food, getting him talking, etc. So I am very hopeful that tomorrow evening there will be a good report following my evening visit.
A rather funny thing happened when Lou and I entered Tommy’s room, which could have been very unfunny. A student nurse was standing with him, about to feed him a dessert – some typical hospital pud (chocolate pudding with whipped cream, if you must know). The main nurse was conferring with the head nurse at the time and not paying attention. The student nurse, who was a chubby, spotty little Chinese girl, asked us if we would like to feed it to Tommy, who was eagerly “eyeing it off” as they say here. So Lou started feeding it to him. When she was halfway done, the nurses realised what was going on and freaked out a little as he has been back on “nil by mouth” since yesterday or so. Lou pointed at the student nurse and said “she told me to…!” The poor little student nurse went sort of reddish brown.
But what topped it off was that a few minutes later we noticed that a full tray of food had been delivered – minced beef, mashed potato, etc….and of all that food, the Chinese girl had chosen to feed him the pud first!
May 28, 2009 Thursday:
It rained all night and part of today. Jasmine gave 4 gallons again. I am bringing Jeremiah in at night now at least until I get way ahead on milk again. I want to be able to make lots of clabber for Max and Mitra’s pig, Sophie. Her piglets are due very soon. I am really looking forward to seeing how many she has.
John called this evening (already tomorrow morning in Australia). Tommy still cannot speak at all. He is running a low but persistent fever. Another scope down his throat showed inflammation. They have him back on tube feeding. John feels intensely frustrated at not being able to provide a health drink or other good food.
May 29, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine only gave 3 gallons this morning. I think Jeremiah is sucking her dry in late afternoon before I bring him in. I noticed tonight that she was pretty empty at 5pm whereas formerly this was not the case. I get scarcely a pint of cream off a gallon of milk. This is annoying. At least he is not damaging her teats. And it is better for her udder not to get so full. Just trying to look on the bright side. Oh, and most of the customers don’t want so much cream anyway. But I do, dagnabbit.
The rain continues, not drenching but steady. I went out in the rain this morning and moved some of the Brussels sprouts around. They were too close together.
An email this morning from John expressed frustration on numerous levels including stonewalling by the head nurse, a man, on giving Tommy additional vitamin E. John has learned that recovery from spinal injuries can be prejudiced by build-up of scar tissue at the site of injury. He hoped to be able to add some more to Tommy’s tube feeding which now only includes the RDA, a maintenance level, not a therapeutic level.
May 31, 2009 Sunday:
Tommy is still on tube feeding. Nothing is to be done about this until Monday. It is now already Monday Down Under but I have not heard from son John. However in his last email he reported that Tommy seemed cheerful. He had been in to visit and watched two episodes of Spongebob with him. I also learned from my sister in California who had been talking to her son, Jon Lars, who had learned from his wife Eve, who is married to the younger sister of my son John’s wife Lou (got that?) that Tommy had been up sitting in a chair. Lou and Eve chat on the phone in Cebuese.
The weather today was crazy. It went from rain to thunder and lightening, then to sunshine and back to thunder and lightening and hail three times today with intermittent gusts to 60 mph. Frost is predicted for tonight. My sister says Mother Nature has gone bipolar. Fortunately I have not set out the tomato plants that I bought a week ago or they would have been flattened.
DD Marcia has been talking of making tamales and last week bought the cornhusk wraps. I have been talking of making a Dominican pineapple cake from a recipe in the Hannaford supermarket magazine and bought the pineapple. Today Marcia made her tamales and I made my cake. I’d say she had better success than I. The tamales were great. My cake called for creating a core of pineapple jam in a cake baked in a tube tin. It also called for extra moves such as grating orange zest and making orange juice and more stuff, a pretty fiddly cake. I finally got the thing into the oven but halfway through baking when I had to remove the “cold shelf”, a piece of sheet metal one places in the Aga above the food to prevent too much browning, it dragged the cake tin with it because of those little feet that stick up on a tube pan and dumped the whole thing onto the floor in front of me. My loud “exclamation” brought granddaughter Roshan, who was here for her piano lesson with DD Abby, from the next room so there was no concealing the fact that I was scooping up the batter and putting it back into the pan. Well, it finally baked and we ate it. In fact DD Abby declared it delicious and graciously took seconds. I was still mad at it though.
June 02, 2009 Tuesday:
The weather today was beautiful. I had little time for gardening because I had an eye appointment. I don’t so far notice anything different about my vision but the doc said that I am again bleeding into the macula. I will go back the specialist next Tuesday.
The crew is working away on the barn roof. They have the old shingles covered with strips of wood and tomorrow will apply the metal sheets to the west side. The east side is all done. During the most recent rain the chicken room, which is in the front of the barn, stayed dry.
A hen that was sitting on four eggs hatched one chick yesterday. They were easy for Abby to catch and put into a nice caged area. There are still two hens sharing a nest with a vast number of eggs in the layer room. Abby modified the big pen in which we have the Muscovy ducks so that they can get out and fly around. They did get out and explored their expanded world for a while but then got back into their pen where their food is. They did not do any flying.
Marcia, Abby and I ate dinner here at the farm. I made a casserole with lamb and we also had artichokes, a rare treat.
Marcia got word that her horse, Peter, just won a big show and is now one of the top dressage horses in the country. She is walking around with a big smile.
John wrote yesterday that Tommy’s muscles are dwindling despite the manipulation that John and others are doing. I wrote the following to him:
One thing I forgot to mention in case you weren’t aware of it. Muscle wasting is not just due to inactivity. Our bodies do not store protein in the sense that many individual nutrients are stored. Calories are of course stored as fat. If you are sick and not eating much or for any reason are not obtaining sufficient protein, the body uses the protein of muscle. It also uses the protein that forms the supportive structure of skin. Hair stops growing. The gut lining ceases to be restored at its normal rate, which is supposed to be constant. The body uses these things according to some priority of its own but you always see muscle wasting. “He can spare this for now ”, the Field Marshall says, and eats the muscle. When you are able to supply protein fortified drinks Tommy will be a lot better nourished. I don’t recommend soy based drinks.
John answered: I looked at the various high-protein powders available in the health store meant to avoid muscle wasting. You were right, they are all based on soy protein. meanwhile, Tommy continues to make incremental improvements in his overall health each day. The “cuff’ is now deflated full time and they are hoping to take the trachie tube out today, at least for a while. The speech therapist tells me she is still mainly focused on his swallow, and will start on speech next (after being 100% happy with the swallowing).
John confirmed that Tommy gets to sit in a chair. When upright he must wear a neck brace. He sits outdoors.
June 03, 2009 Wednesday:
We had beautiful weather today. For the first time this year I did not wear a sweater to the barn. Little Jasmine gave 4 gallons of milk.
There was an early morning note from John written before he went to bed. He wrote as follows:
Finally they have the trachie tube out, and his throat taped over, so Tommy can speak normally. I am sure that tomorrow afternoon they will start reintroducing oral food.
It was really a great surprise to us when we walked in. Actually he didn’t say anything for about 15 seconds to increase our shock when he finally opened his mouth and spoke for the first time in nearly a month. Naturally we had the most enjoyable time with him ever, by a long shot. He kept chatting away. He really enjoyed being able to communicate. It was also touching that the first things he wanted to talk about was how lucky he was to live in a time and place when the technology exists to keep him alive as he is quite aware that with what happened to his lungs he would have been unlikely to survive in times past. He also pointed out that he was lucky not to be a horse, as if he were, he’d have been shot. I agreed, that was a stroke of luck.
So we are all in great good moods now. I think he will be transferred to that spinal ward in a couple of days, which is nice because far less restrictive.
All the family is now very happy with this good news. Tommy is a cheerful soul. He is determined to fully recover.
DD Abby moved our 12 ducklings that she has been nurturing at Marcia’s place down here today and put them in with the Muscovy’s. The ducklings are now 3 weeks old. She has made a little pond in there and the duckling were soon swimming about and ducking under the water. Ducks are the greatest fun to watch. They are such happy birds. These are still yellow and downy and their wings are tiny but some feathers are coming in. They look about 10” long. Sorry to say that the male Muscovy has taken it upon himself to herd them around and generally be annoying. We hope he soon tires of this game now that he and the two female Muscovy’s are free range.
One of the female Muscovy’s was standing in the middle of the dooryard early this morning. This was a new sight to Willie, my Westie, and he ran at her. I yelled and he stopped but she flew around behind the barn. Jasmine and Jeremiah had never seen anything like her either and they got her into a fence corner and were doing their best to flatten her. One of the carpenters, Mike, reached through from the other side of the fence and rescued her.
June 04, 2009 Thursday:
This was another day of perfect weather. Jasmine gave 4 gallons of milk. DD Abby came over quite early to see how the merged populations of ducks were getting along. The Muscovy male was still standing guard over the ducklings and keeping them backed into a corner. He appeared perfectly willing to forgo food and entertainment in order to maintain sentinel duty. Abby discovered to her sorrow that two ducklings were missing. I blamed the fox who I know was around yesterday evening. Willie always tells me. Abby spent hours on further fortifications. Then as she was placing her last ballast of hay she moved a box and found the two missing duckling packed in behind it. I guess they could not wriggle backwards out of their crevice. Hurrah! We hated to think of our plump little ducks feeding that pesky fox and his family. With the fox exonerated (for now) Abby ended up leaving the Muscovy’s outside the pen with a separate feeding station.
Max came over and worked for hours on setting up electric fence around the North Field. Then he went and bought some scattershot for my 20guauge and sat in the barn for over two hours to see if the fox would show up, but no. I fixed some dinner and took it out to him (rice, teriyaki beef and steamed greens from the garden that were mostly mustard and lamb’s quarters).
No news about Tommy so far today except that he feels a lot better. John is going to see about getting more vitamin C into him. Tommy was pretty sure that he would be allowed solid food today.
June 05, 2009 Friday:
This was another fine June day. Jasmine trotted right in as always but only gave 3 ½ gallons. I think she held up a bit because I shrieked at her for pooping. This is the third day in a row she has done this and I was on the alert with the shovel. Previously I did not say much because I knew she did it because I was late and also had spent extra time because she was dirty. But it is a habit I can’t tolerate. Her manure is soupy because of the lush grass and yesterday it splashed on my favorite shirt and I have not been able to get out the stain. Max will be milking her tomorrow and I have warned him to be on the alert. Abby, Marcia, Mitra and I are going to DS Mark and DIL Ann’s graduation from med school and it takes place early in the morning in Portland, two hours away. Afterwards we have been invited by Ann’s parents to join a family group for lunch at DeMillo’s floating restaurant. Max is going to be mighty busy tomorrow with us all away.
Abby and Marcia were here for several hours today and did a lot of gardening. They weeded, transplanted and planted more seeds in the veg garden. It is looking wonderful. All the tomatoes and eggplants are in. We still must plant the squash and cucumbers.
The sheep are looking wonderful. They are pretty much full size now and very charming in appearance. They are noisy, though, especially Agnes. Every time they see any of us they stop grazing and bound over to their feed pan in hopes of a handout which they never get except at the prescribed times. The ducks love their little pond. It is just large enough to hold all twelve in a solid fluffy raft.
The workmen are finished with roofing the barn, apart from some minor details. It looks very good. They are to start Monday on the house roof. On the barn they were able to lay metal roofing over the old asphalt shingles. On the house they must first tear off all the old shingles. This makes an appalling mess. Martin has parked a flatbed trailer out front with sides he has contrived to collect the old shingles.
John just called and told me that Tommy is eating and drinking pretty well but still has the tube down his nose for the liquid feed. They don’t think he is able to eat enough solid food. There is no progress to report on regaining lost functions but he is getting stronger and not regressing. He is shortly to be moved to rehab, John thinks.
Mitra also called a little while ago to tell me that Sophie is farrowing. At that point she had five. Max was in with her taking out excess bedding and rubbing behind her ears. She was not hostile. All the little red piglets were sucking away. Now I have a message that there are eight piglets! They are mighty pleased about the litter because Max had to learn how to artificially inseminate to achieve this breeding and they were told that with artificial insemination the litters tend to be small. Here are a couple of pictures of the new litter (the first 5) and Max, their nurse mid-husband.
June 06, 2009 Saturday:
Today started early. I set my alarm for 4am so that I could meet daughters Marcia and Abby at 5:30 and we could go together to meet Mitra and Roshan (10) at 6:30 and drive together to Portland to arrive at Merrill Auditorium at 8:30. This was the day of DS Mark’s and DIL Ann’s graduation from medical school. We were in our seats on time but others were earlier so we sat high in the balcony. We had a good view and the acoustics are good (it is a concert hall). I am getting pretty deaf but I think I heard at least half of it. The commencement speaker, Bernard Lown, MD, was very good. Along with his other distinctions, he was cofounder of Physicians for Social Responsibility. He is a strong advocate for compassion and putting the patient first. He said that US health care is now all about making money. This I heard clearly.
Our two graduates looked very fine in their robes. I am so proud of them.
Following the ceremony we were all invited to lunch by Ann’s parents. We ate at DeMillo’s floating restaurant. I think these days it is well grounded but was once a ferry. It was ever so much fun. Abby and I ordered champagne cocktails and then seconds. Neither of us could finish our second round, delicious though it was. It definitely had something besides champagne in it.
Here is Max hugging Helen. He didn’t realize his picture was being taken.
Dear Max came all the way over here and milked Jasmine this morning. He got 3 gallons. Then he returned home to milk Helen. He was feeling very sad because two of Sophie’s piglets got squished. They were perfect little piglets. But Jessika says you have to expect to lose some. It is just so sad.
When we arrived back at their house in the afternoon, Max was out on a bike ride. He clocked 17 miles. Shireen and her friend Chelsea were waiting for Mitra to dress their hair for the long awaited semi formal 8th grade dance tonight. They had done their nails, toes included, in silver nail polish. They put on their high heels and new dresses for us. They looked very pretty even without their hair dressed but I believe there may be pictures taken later.
Roshan showed us her five runner ducks. I had never seen any before. We also visited Helen but did not attempt to visit Sophie for fear of upsetting her.
Everything was in good shape here at the farm. DS Martin and 3 year old Hannah arrived shortly after I did and invited me to supper at camp. Martin fixed a quick spaghetti dinner that we all enjoyed and then at dusk we went out in the kayaks. Hannah rode in Martin’s lap. The lake was still and magical. There is a full moon tonight. The loons were calling constantly.
June 07, 2009 Sunday:
Max and Martin came over today and set up electric fence for me all around the north field. Tomorrow I will open it up for Jasmine and Jeremiah. I spent most of the day catching up after having been gone yesterday. Max brought Roshan and Abby gave her a piano lesson. She is learning fast. Hannah sat and listened attentively.
Roshan also took some pictures while she was here of my sheep and Bagel.
I cooked a pot roast and took it to Marcia’s this evening. Marcia and Abby made salad and potatoes. Before dinner we sat out on Marcia’s lovely dock. It has a table and chairs on the platform at the end and she has four big urns planted with flowers.
June 08, 2009 Monday:
This was another fine June day. Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons of perfect milk, well it would be perfect if she would let me have all her cream. But I am still able to make butter once or twice a week. When I let her and Jeremiah out this morning she did not notice that the gate to the North Field stood open. She was just walking through the gate to the River Field (south) when I called her name and walked through the gate into North Field. She spun on her heels and walked fast right out into it. I noticed she spent only half the day there before coming back to her usual pasture.
I keep forgetting to mention that there seem to be more bees this year than last. Partly this is undoubtedly because last year we had too much rain just when the apple trees needed pollination. But I do feel sure there are more this year. The honeysuckle is blooming very densely now and is really humming.
Marcia and Abby were both here today gardening and both forgot to take milk and the asparagus I gave them for their dinner so I drove it out to them along with some frozen scallops and some spinach and pigweed I had picked for a stirfry. . We had a fast and easy meal together that was really delicious. I defrosted the scallops by simmering them in milk. I then sautéed them in butter and seasoned salt.
DS Martin hauled away a trailer load of asphalt shingles to the recycling center. Hannah stayed here with Abby and helped in the garden. She was adorable in her sun hat.
DS John in Australia writes that Tommy’s appetite is good. He said he was hungry for bacon and asked John to bring him some which of course he did. John also found a protein powder that is all milk protein, no soy.
The carpenters have the shingles off the pitch on the north side of the kitchen and put up the wrap that goes underneath. They kindly put up some boards and tarps to keep the shingles from falling on the flowers below. I do hope my beautiful dicenetra, lilies and hosta are not damaged. This crew is so much more careful about collateral damage than other crews I have known. I really appreciate it.
There are two hens sitting together on a nest of about a dozen eggs in the chicken room. Today they started to hatch. I saw two. Abby is going to look after them tomorrow. Marcia will be taking me to the eye specialist.
DD Sally emailed me today top tell me that her daughter Rebecca successfully defended her thesis today and is now Dr. Rebecca (McGuire Bentzen). Baby Torleif, first birthday last week, attended and was well behaved in his grandmother’s arms. Don’t know if I will ever get Sally back here now that she has a grandson! Rebecca is an animal biologist. There was a celebration with champagne. Local tradition requires the new doctor has to sign the spot on the ceiling where the cork hits.
June 09, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave over 3 ½ gallons and had a good day.
The workmen came but left after an hour because it started to rain.
Marcia drove me to Lewiston for my eye appointment. En route we stopped at Nezinscott Farm Store and each had one of their outstanding hamburger sandwiches. They make rounds from their homemade whole wheat bread using a 4” diameter cookie cutter and use their home grown beef for the burgers.
Dr. Hamzavi agreed that I have new bleeding but it has stopped and he saw no advantage to giving me another shot in the eyeball. There is nothing to be done about the loss of central vision in my left eye. Fortunately my right eye is still at the “dry” stage which does not interfere with vision.
When we got home Abby had done all the animal care including establishing one of the mother hens in a safe corner with the three chicks that have hatched and leaving the other one on the sea of eggs to await further results. Both hens seem satisfied with this outcome.
Max was here and had cleaned up all the fresh pile of shingles from the pitch over the kitchen. I have my garden back temporarily until the rain stops and they shovel off more shingles.
June 10, 2009 Wednesday:
Amazing! It rained all day so then men worked under cover. They rehung the garage door. I was amazed how little time it took to mount the hardware and hang the door. The door is a great heavy old thing that must weigh 500 pounds and rolls to the side. They said that they too were surprised how quickly it went together.
They also set a six foot post into the ground below floor level, I mean under the carriage house floor in the run-in used by the sheep. This post is positioned beneath the posts on the floors above and bears the weight of the building above it all they way through two floors and up to the roof and completes the post and beam construction. This last post could not be placed while the ground was frozen. A couple of feet of manure had to be dug away to set a cement footing which they call a pill. DS Martin did this digging a couple of weeks ago.
While doing this work a building jack was set and somehow in this operation the floor got shaken under my milk refrigerator, which sits in that area. Two gallon jars of milk hit each other and one shattered in a mess of milk, cream and glass. This took about an hour to clean up. But wait, there’s more. The other jar, which appeared intact, wasn’t. It had an unnoticeable leak so when I came back later the fridge had again filled with milk. To relieve frustration I went out to the paddock garden and dug 22 holes for my hills of cucumber and squash that I need to get planted. I will fill each hole with rotted manure tomorrow and plant even if it is raining.
I made cottage cheese and qvark today.
Jasmine gave over 4 gallons this morning but two were broken, as mentioned.
Here are some photos of Roshan’s Indian Runner duckings:
June 11, 2009 Thursday:
We had only a few sprinkles today. The crew got the remaining shingles off of the roof over the bathroom and have the underlay nailed on so that even without new shingles the roof won’t leak when next it rains, which will be tonight. Max will be over tomorrow to clean up the mess and then we will be able to restore the flowerbeds in that area. It is the area you walk by to get into the house and I long to have it looking pretty again.
DD Marcia distributed manure to the spots I dug for squash but I did not get the seeds in. I made butter and also fixed dinner for the three of us. I picked the first heads of lettuce and we had a marvelous salad. We also had lamb ribs in bbq sauce. I started a big batch of chili but it won’t be done until tomorrow.
Abby worked a long time in the veg garden. She dug out a new section of comfrey, revealing excellent soil as is always left behind by comfrey. She wants to plant turnips.
Just before dark Abby and I moved the remaining brooding hen out of the chicken room along with all her eggs and set her up in isolated quarters. The egg count under her had risen to 15. Other hens kept popping more under her. This always happens if you let a hen set where other hens have easy access and it messes everything up. Some may hatch while others are still weeks away from ready. Besides which, I don’t get enough eggs for the house.
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons.
June 12, 2009 Friday:
A very busy day. Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons. Morning chores always occupy me until 10 o’clock. Then I got ready for my vet, Dr. Cooper, who often stops for lunch if in the neighborhood. The chili I started yesterday was ready today. Max was on his way over to clean up asphalt shingles so I asked him to pick up a loaf of sour dough bread and I ran down to the garden and picked lettuce. Dr. Cooper took another call on the way so was late. This gave me time to make a rhubarb crisp. After he left I felt pretty tired but did manage to get six hills of cucumbers and squash planted before it was time for evening chores.
The hen we moved last night got off her eggs this morning when I left her door open. I had to leave it open because there is another hen family in there that needs to range. I found her an hour or so later back in with the layers sitting on somebody’s new egg. I carried her back to her raft of eggs and she was still there this evening.
DS Martin and DIL Amy invited me to join them at camp for grilled sausages. I took along lettuce for a salad. Every bit was eaten. The sausages came from a butcher shop in Biddeford. They make them to order and they are truly excellent. After supper all of us, Amy, Martin, Amy’s dad Ken, both toddlers and I went out in the canoe and two kayaks and paddled towards East Brook. We did not make it the whole way as there was a bit of a head wind. Winds on Lake Webb are notoriously variable. The minute we headed for home the wind shifted and was in our faces all the way home. It was fun anyway, although we were out nearly an hour. I had the impression that others were moderating their pace so that I would not get left behind whereas I was paddling as fast as I could.
June 13, 2009 Saturday:
Dear Jasmine started the day by giving 4 gallons of milk. It rained off and on. It has been impossible for most people to make hay. Last year DS Martin and a friend went in together on haying equipment and he had hoped to make hay this weekend but it is impossible. He got everything greased and ready.
DD Marcia got some coupons for Kawanhee Inn and invited her family there for a meal tonight. What a treat! We were ten at table not counting little Henry (1) and Hannah (3). Kawanhee Inn is a fine old rustic place overlooking Lake Webb and in good weather, like tonight, one can be seated on a screened porch. Happily, the skies cleared in time for a pleasant sunset. Kawanhee has a new chef. He made a great impression tonight with a lovely four course meal. Because of his high chair, we put Henry at the head of the table where he gave a steadfast demonstration of commitment to his dinner. He feeds himself and stopped only to signal for more whenever he ran out of something. He is a meat and potatoes man.
After dinner some of the party adjourned to Marcia’s camp to go kayaking but I came home. We had a 5pm reservation, and what with doing my hair etc., I did not get Jasmine and Jeremiah in. She was still waiting when I got home and came right in.
Son John called from Australia to say that Tommy’s “trachie” as they call the wound is now closing up. It has not been needed again. He is about to be moved to rehab, a hospital in a different part of Adelaide. There they will keep him busy all day with treatments. There will be others in his predicament including one of John’s colleagues, a young woman who pitched over the handlebars of her bicycle in March with an outcome similar to Tommy.
Here is a picture that Mitra took of Sophie giving one her piglets a good morning kiss.
June 14, 2009 Sunday Flag Day, but too wet to put out my flag:
Jasmine only gave three gallons this morning, no doubt because of coming in late and spending more time with greedy Jeremiah last evening. The rain has continued and her run-in, the “Beefer Pen”, is a mess. She was very dirty. It was an eight towel clean-up job. I have bags of white terrycloth towels that I wring out in my bucket of hot water and spray with a mixture of vinegar and detergent. Each soiled towel is then set aside and I take a fresh one so that the hot water stays clean. Every few days I put all the soiled towels through a sanitizing wash.
Max came over to do more builders’ clean-up and I asked for help with the beefer pen. At this point it is a job for the front end loader. Max tidied the lean-to and for the present I will make her stay out there at night. When Helen comes in dirty Max ties her outside and hoses her down but my barn arrangements do not lend themselves to this solution.
I finished planting the paddock garden. I put in 22 hills of squash and cucumbers, mostly working in drizzle. My corn is up rather sporadically compared to last year. The potatoes are up a foot. They are glistening green. This is about the time last year that the potato bugs arrived followed by endless rain. Now it is raining again. I have the potatoes on higher ground this year. Faithful readers may recall that last year I swore off potatoes but hope springs eternal. I do believe that if one has the land and the strength that it is a good idea to grow ever more of one’s own food. I say this as a matter of principle but also because you can’t just say, “Right, boys and girls, if you want to eat this winter, we‘re going to have to put in potatoes.” It is best to have built up your soil and your skills. My soil has responded well to years of manuring. (Not so sure about my skills.) The paddock garden used to be where DD Marcia had her horse, Peter. He did his best to manure it and it is producing an impressive crop of pigweed. Mitra tells me that at the farmer’s market people are paying $8 pound for it. It is every bit as tasty as spinach but does not hold its green well when cooked.
I still had a lot of the chili I made last week so Marcia invited us all over to her place for a chili supper. I was able to bring enough lettuce for a huge salad and DD Abby made carrot cake.
June 15, 2009 Monday:
Jasmine gave a full four gallons this morning.
Marcia and I did errands and Abby took care of Hannah while Martin made further improvements to the haying equipment. It rained all day, harder than yesterday. The lake is rising and Marcia has attached the guy ropes to the end of her dock. These are hundreds of feet of rope that her brother Bret affixed last year when the water rose so high that it floated the dock from its moorings. She has a very long dock with a seating platform at the end.
Mark and Ann, our two new doctors, are taking a few days in Quebec City despite the rain.
I had hoped to watch Antiques Road Show but PBS has bumped it in favor of an earnest gentleman who is talking for three hours about building mind power at any age. He has a large attentive audience. I don’t know how they sit so long. As the old farmer said to the agent who came around to teach him better farming practices, “Young feller, I ain’t farming half as well as I know how to right now”. I ain’t using my brain half as well as I know how to right now either.
June 17, 2009 Wednesday:
The weather was perfect again today. What a treat. I was not outside as much as I would have liked to be, but did make my now daily tour of the potato rows. I knew I would soon begin to spot potato beetles and today, there they were, about half a dozen. I knock them into a can containing a little lamp oil. My corn is not coming up as thickly as it ought to.
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons. I was quite late getting to the barn which always makes her a bit irritable.
DS John in Adelaide wrote this morning:
Tommy was shifted over to rehab yesterday morning. I visited in the afternoon to check it out. He has a large shared room with an older fellow but will move to a single room when one becomes available. The RAH (Royal Adelaide Hospital) rehab centre is considered one of the best of its sort anywhere for this sort of thing so I guess we’re lucky to have it so near (40 minute drive) – I will bear this in mind while battling my way down South Road.
He has wireless internet for his laptop and would be pleased to receive email from all and sundry but warns that his replies will be brief (he was always a two-finger typist, but now the typing is especially slow because of difficulty pointing his finger straight). Feel free to send photos and all sorts of “we’re thinking of you” type messages and anything else (short and sweet is best).
His hair was sort of semi-dreadlocks which has turned into a sort of helmet. He plans to get “number two” haircut asap!
He’s happy to have a power wheelchair to zoom around the facility which is a sprawling one-story building. He has a big window overlooking an enormous paddock (a good 100 acres) with sheep and cows (until recently owned by the Dept of Ag, but about to turn into housing estate). I understand the staff intentionally organized this room for him because he was from the country.
Coincidentally a young woman who until recently worked where I work is in there (she went head over teakettle on a bicycle 9 weeks ago). I introduced her to him and she has showed him the ropes of the place. She also is on pretty much the same supplements, including fish oil, C, E, and kelp. (I presume the latter appealed to her as a marine biologist). -John
John also wrote to say that they are planning a 25th birthday party for Tommy’s brother, Jack. It is to be held in the parking lot by the hospital, which is all on one level. Tommy will be able to wheel himself outside to be with everyone.
For my supper tonight I picked a batch of pigweed (chenopodium), which can be eaten like spinach, and made an Indian dish. I don’t know the name of it but have had it in restaurants. It is sautéed with butter, garlic and curry paste and white cheese is added. All components were from the farm except the curry powder. I used cottage cheese in it.
Yesterday I made lovely loaves of brioche and forgot them in the oven. They were ruined. Ooh, I was so mad! So today I repeated the recipe and this time carried the oven timer with me and they turned out perfectly.
June 18, 2009 Thursday:
The day started out very fine but turned to rain by mid afternoon. Max arrived to mow my lawn before things got too wet. Poor Max has a streaming cold so it was noble of him to come.
Abby came over too and worked long and hard in the garden.
Yesterday Abby took my contractor, George Brown, over to have a look at DD Sally’s little house across the river. Today George told me that the house is very sound. Its issues are cosmetic. It has a wonderful setting within the sound of the river so this is good news.
The men worked until about 3pm and got the plastic underlay onto a big section of roof before they got rained out.
I made butter, started a new teleme cheese and made 3 quarts of kim chee. I somehow ended up with two napa cabbages so thought now must be the time to make a batch. I merged several recipes. They were all so different that I have the impression that about anything I did with the standard ingredients would result in kim chee.
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons and behaved perfectly in every way, as did Jeremiah. It is wonderful the way I have only to open the door for him and he races in and rounds the corner to hop into his stall.
Mitra’s parents, Alex and Marie, arrived from California last night. They have a condo near Max and Mitra’s house. I hope we can give them good weather and a good time.
June 19, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave over 4 gallons this morning but there were clumps on the filter. I can think of no explanation for this related to any stress, unless she doesn’t like rain. Darn. I saw to it that she got a big heap of comfrey. So we will see what tomorrow brings.
It rained all of last night and all of today until evening. The drainage system that is supposed to lead water away from my paddock garden is clogged. Like last year, there is a great lake forming and even though I planted the potatoes on higher ground, they are under water. I waded down the rows in the rain looking for potato bugs but they were all in hiding. DD Abby worked a long time with a shovel trying to get the water flowing but to no avail. Max is going to come over tomorrow and see what he can do.
I cheered us up by making a blueberry lemon cake. It is like a giant blueberry muffin made in a bundt pan and it turned out perfectly. I used half whole wheat pastry flour.
John called from Adelaide. They have started rehab exercises on Tommy. He is able to feed himself with the aid of a Velcro thing that fits around his hand. He is to get new X-rays tomorrow and if the doctor is satisfied with his condition, he may be allowed out in a wheelchair accessible taxi next weekend to meet the family at a pizza parlor. If this works out, as Tommy hopes, they will do the barbecue at the rehab another time. The rehab has a roofed meeting area outdoors with built in gas barbecues and seating. Tommy has been switched from an electric to a manual wheelchair.
June 21, 2009 Sunday, Summer Solstice:
DS Martin was born on this day at home in Los Altos Hills, CA.
DS Max came over yesterday and dug a great trench from the big puddle in the yard that I call Lake Coburn all the way out to the culvert by the paved road. About 60’. He had to take up the plastic drain pipe that Martin laid three years ago. It was crushed in too many places to be fixable. The lake was threatening my garden. By this morning it had drained almost completely. Unfortunately there is another area almost as bad which needs similar trenching. The rain continues in what we fear may be a reprise of last year. The corn is not doing well. It is not hot enough. The weeds like this weather and are thriving. I will have to do some hand weeding if we are to have any corn crop. The potato plants actually look great but so they did last year before they were flooded. The cucumbers and squash are all up. I sprinkled each hill with diatomaceous earth in hopes of discouraging the slugs, which are thick. Down in the lower garden the lettuce is looking great. I pull enough for a salad every day. It is a battle with the slugs, though.
All my roses and peonies are blooming now.
The barn swallows came back this year. Until recently I was not sure they were here. I was afraid the roofing job had frightened them but today I saw a fledgling. I am not so sure about the tribe that always nested in the old carriage house. They came back last year and nested in the broken rafters. Now with everything new, I have not seen them although the evening sky is full of swallows.
Max came back today and took a load to the dump. He brought both girls. DD Abby gave Roshan a piano lesson while Shireen baked cookies.
I joined Marcia and Abby for supper at the lake. The water is up to within an inch of her dock. She has the whole thing tied onto its moorings in about 40 places.
We had hoped to have a Father’s Day dinner at the lake but the weather was too discouraging. We will plan a get together soon.
June 22, 2009 Monday:
It hardly rained at all today! We even had some intervals of watery sunshine. Jasmine gave 4 gallons of perfect milk. The mastitis alarm that started last week cleared up with daily armloads of comfrey. I would say close to a bushel of the lush leaves and flowering stems.
Abby stayed home today and worked on an order for a batik handbag. Marcia came and hand weeded one row of potatoes. The rows are about 100 ft. I weeded about half of one row of corn. The cool wet weather has encouraged the lush weeds and discouraged the corn. It is barely 3” high and has germinated poorly. Last year it got a head start on the weeds before the rain hit but this year the soil was too cold. I told Marcia, nobody better leave any corn or potatoes on their plate after all this work.
June 24, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine again gave 4 gallons of perfect milk.
Yesterday, Tuesday, Max returned and did more mowing and weed trimming. There are still piles of shingles to pick up but that will have to wait another day.
It rained again last night, very hard, but dwindled during the day to a Scotch mist and even sunshine for awhile. Marcia and I carried on with the heavy weeding in the paddock garden. All the potatoes and two of the four rows of corn are done. The chickens have scratched up my four hills of winter squash. Drat. I will replant but probably it is too late to get a crop. Marcia found wire tomato frames to put over some of the so far unmolested hills.
We think one of the Muscovy ducks has a nest somewhere. She flies off somewhere every day and is gone a couple of hours.
I made butter. It comes out a brilliant yellow at this time of year. I will never forget the time that a house guest of Marcia’s could not be convinced that I wasn’t dying it. I am not sure that I ever succeeded in persuading him that was its natural color.
I made bread pudding and took it out to Marcia’s camp at the lake for supper. Abby served a delicious chicken casserole with beans and we had our own lettuce. It was a fine clear evening. As always, the lake was lovely.
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons.
June 25, 2009 Thursday:
I am able to report that we had a fine sunny day, in fact it was hot, probably 80°. Marcia and I finished with weeding the paddock garden. The little corn seedlings were turning yellow among the weeds but they loved the weather today. I think that now they will be able to outgrow most of the weeds. I did not find a single potato bug. Marcia made little fences around the hills of cukes and squash by pounding shingles into the ground in a circle.
The workmen are now building the new dormer window onto the playroom. It faces south. They are building it right onto the roof and when it is done they will come into the playroom and dissect away the part of the roof that has to be removed.
I made my chocolate ricotta pudding using cottage cheese. It is made with gelatin. I could not get the cottage cheese completely smooth. It would be better with quark. But it was tasty with whipped cream. I will give it to Marcia and Abby tomorrow.
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons this morning. She may have held up a bit. One of the tubes on the machine fell off halfway through milking. It was one of those horrid little narrow hard rubber tubes and I had to stop the machine in order to get at it. Jasmine hates any disturbances to normal procedures.
June 26, 2009 Friday:
Even our weatherman, a low key guy, has taken to remarking that what we are getting is the result of climate change. It rained another 2 inches last night. Following a fine evening during which I was able to see the new moon, about 12:30am I was awakened by a major electrical storm. There was no pulling a quilt over my head and turning my deaf ear. I at once remembered that I had not powered down my computer. The lightening flashes were so bright that I did not need any other light to get downstairs to turn it off and unplug the TV. After that, sleep was impossible for the next couple of hours so of course I overslept. What I found in the morning was that Bagel had lost control of his bowels in an impressive way and had jumped out the window. He has jumped out this same window so many times by knocking out a pane that I have stopped repairing it and now keep a board-type placemat duct taped over it. The trenching Max did last week kept the garden from flooding.
Mitra’s night was worse. When the storm woke her up she remembered that she had not closed in her ducks and chickens. She had to go out amidst thunder and lightening and torrential rain with her umbrella and LL Bean headlamp which attracted hundreds of moths to the light and shelter of her umbrella. She did not get to sleep until 3:30 and then had to get up early to do all the animal chores because Max is on a camping trip. She then had to clean and polish her duck eggs for sale at the farmer’s market where she has a table on Fridays. The early part of today was clear and sunny but by early afternoon another electrical storm hit bringing us another inch of rain.
DD Marcia came over and improved my duck pen. The ewe, Agnes, has been hopping in and eating up the duck feed. Agnes is an impressive leaper, but so far so good. Marcia and I then went to Wal-Mart where I found myself unable to resist three fruit trees for $11/each. I bought two cherry trees, a Montmorency and a North Star, and an apricot tree. Maine has seldom vouchsafed anyone a ripe apricot but hope springs eternal.
From Australia John writes: Tommy continues to make gradual improvement – slow but steady returns to functionality. These are to be expected during the early months after sci. Let’s hope they continue. Yesterday, the physio told him that in the time since Tommy arrived at rehab, his functionality has moved down the spine by three or four vertebrae. So, his mobility is now consistent with someone with an injury at C8 (cervical 8), the 8th vertebra down from the top. The next vertebra down is T1 (thoracic 1). All this is good.
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons this morning. I must try to find somebody to work on her feet. The lush grass is making her hooves grow.
June 28, 2009 Sunday:
Saturday (yesterday) and today it once again rained pretty much all day. The cows don’t seem to mind. They graze in the rain and have a dry hay lined run-in. We people are trying to keep smiling. The center 20’of my two 100’ rows of potatoes are swamped just like last year. The wharf at DD Marcia’s camp on Lake Webb is actually floating. Marcia laced it all together with little pieces of rope every 3’ or so and it has long guy ropes from the far end up into the trees so although it would be unsafe to walk out on it, I don’t believe it is going anywhere.
We had a lovely family meal at camp Saturday night. We got to see Mitra’s parents at last. They arrived over a week ago and this was our first chance for a get together. I made a vast pot of chili with beef that I had coarse ground last winter for this purpose when we butchered. Marcia had a lot of cans of beans of different types and we put them all in. Somehow it turned out well. We also had rice and a big salad from our garden and kim chee. For dessert we had strawberry shortcake with whipped Jersey cream and fresh biscuits that Abby made. Martin and his family are here too.
Once again tonight a smaller group of us got together and ate sautéed scallops, Israeli couscous cooked in chicken stock, pureed winter squash, salad and strawberries with ice cream.
DD Sally called from Alaska to ask about Willie. Marcia ran over his foot yesterday when backing up her pickup. He does not appear to have any other damage but I think it still hurts. He acts subdued. Sally told me that her son Rafe and a neighbor went out on the Chilcoot river in front of her house and caught 18 sockeye salmon. They are also catching crab.
Martin and Amy’s little Hannah is not complaining about the weather. They went on a hike today in the State Park and came to a pretty brook. Hannah said “It’s fun playing in a brook in the rain.” It really is not cold. It was about 65° all day.
June 30, 2009 Tuesday:
Monday I was gone the entire day on an excursion with DD Abby to Farmington. We joined Mitra and her girls and were guests of her parents, the Eskandari’s for lunch.
Also in the restaurant was Hilda Heinrich, mother of the well known nature writer, Berndt Heinrich. Although she is one of my milk customers, Max or Mitra have always delivered her milk and I had never met her so introduced myself. Afterwards we went to Mitra’s house so that Abby could give Roshan her piano lesson. Then we all went out and admired Sophie, the sow, and her six piglets. They are so bouncy and cute and all are red like mom. Of course with all this rain they are mostly mud colored. They will be a month old on Friday.
It rained most of the day.
Every since yesterday, my 12 Peking ducks just sit around and have not eaten their food at all. I began to get pretty worried that they might be sick. I once lost a flock of 24 Khaki Campbells to botulism in their water. Consequently we have been scrupulous about running fresh water into their little pond, at least until it began to rain 3” every night and 2” every day. I figured that their pond got plenty of refreshment. But after seeing them camped out in the same spot for 24 hours with their food untouched it suddenly came to me that I had better turn on the hose. Amazing! They all waddled over and began dabbling and splashing in the fresh water, then ate a pan of food.
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons this morning.
July 1, 2009 Wednesday:
It rained again last night and a little early in the morning but was otherwise dry today albeit with a low grey sky. Towards evening the sun came out for about 3 minutes just to prove it was still there I suppose.
Abby and I went to Rumford on errands and stopped at the thrift shop. I bought a good pair of suede shoes that had never been worn. Abby bought a lovely aquamarine skirt of cotton satin. I never buy new clothes.
DS Bret, who does nutrition research, recently chatted with a pediatrician who does her best to offer nutritional guidance to her patients. At her office she makes a point of wearing only polyester suits and cheap shoes. Many of her patients complain that they cannot afford fruits and vegetables. Yet they are wearing expensive name brand clothes and shoes.
I joined Marcia and Abby and Marcia’s daughter Abby Rose who is visiting from California with her boy friend Ernie, for supper at camp. They served one of the Luick chickens and collards from Marcia’s little veg garden (she has mostly flowers). DD Abby made a coconut cake. As usual everything was excellent and we all ate too much. Marcia’s dock is still floating. All sorts of flotsam is collected on it including a couple of dead fish. Out at the far end her urns of flowers are still rocking gently as the dock lifts with the waves.
In the newspaper there are many pictures of farmers’ flooded fields of tomatoes and unplanted corn fields too muddy to admit tractors.
DS John called this morning from Adelaide. He has discovered a health food store across from the rehab center where Tommy is and the gal sells raw milk. Sale of raw milk for human consumption is against the law in Australia. John made me guess how they have labeled it to elude the law. Answer: milk for bathing in. (John was pretty surprised when I guessed it.)
Jasmine gave a bit under 4 gallons today. She was right at the barn waiting for me both morning and evening. She and Jeremiah both look sleek and shiny.
July 3, 2009 Friday, Fourth of July holiday:
It hardly rained at all today and we even had some sun, until evening when we had a severe electrical storm for about an hour. It is still rumbling but so far we have not lost power. Mark and Ann, the new doctors, and Mark’s daughter Hailey are here for one night. We were joined for dinner by DS Martin and his family and DD Marcia’s son Harper who is visiting from Alaska. I fixed braised short ribs, pureed winter squash (from the freezer), short grain brown rice cooked in chicken stock, a big green salad and for dessert, strawberries and cream. DS Max came by this afternoon to pick up clabber and brought the strawberries and I was very pleased to see them, since I had not managed to come up with any dessert. As usual, Hannah (3) and Henry (1) were good little guests. Henry eats with single-minded attention to the job. You don’t hear from him until all his dinner is gone. Afterwards he crawled around like a little tractor in high gear.
Jeremiah is still helping himself to a lot of the milk. He has resumed his old habit of nursing Jasmine dry along about the time I separate them for the night. I wish I had a practical way to separate them but I don’t. I got less than 3 gallons this morning which would not be bad if Jasmine did not hold up her cream. There are only 2” of cream on a gallon of milk and there ought to be 4”. Of course Jeremiah is correspondingly sleek. He is a lot bigger than Jasmine. At least he is not damaging her teats at present.
July 04, 2009 Saturday:
According to the weatherman, today was supposed to be our first dry day but instead it rained. It was raining hard when I got up and rained off and on all day. I did manage to set out some replacement squash plants that Marcia bought for me. The ancient seed I put in last week to replace what the chickens tore up has come up nicely. I am amazed. I soaked it in wet paper towels kept them warm on the Aga for a day before planting.
I’ve been feeling a mounting sense of failure lately as a farmer due to dissatisfaction with the steer, the sheep and the Muscovy ducks all behaving badly. The ewe, Agnes, has continued to jump the fence and eat the duck feed. The male Muscovy has been stationing himself so as to intimidate the Pekins from getting to their feed, and as often mentioned I am frustrated with Jeremiah nursing. Today Abby reinforced and raised the fence to make it much harder for Agnes to jump over. Time will tell. She also helped me figure out what to do about separating Jeremiah: we put him in with the sheep. Most of that fence is in good shape and if he gets out I will ask Max to run electric wire. There is plenty of grazing there for at least a month. As for the Muscovy, he goes into the freezer. Past experience instructs me that it will take three or four days of separation before Jasmine lets down her cream for me.
Marcia’s son Harper who is visiting from Alaska has become very ill. He is keeping to his room with a headache, fever, muscular aches and digestive issues. He is taking some herbal tea, that is all. It came on very suddenly.
July 05, 2009 Sunday:
Jeremiah has been doing a great deal of bellowing. His mournful complaint can no doubt be heard halfway across town. Jasmine has not been answering but has been grazing close by. All of a sudden the face flies have become pesky. Something, possibly the combined stress of the flies and worrying about Jeremiah, brought back lumpy bits on the filter this morning. So far there is no hint of Jeremiah challenging the fence. Nor did Agnes get back in with the ducks, although I caught her giving a considering look over the granite wall.
I put on boots and walked around in the marshy area behind the barn in hopes of finding one of the Muscovy ducks that I have not seen for several days. I suspect she has a nest. If so I should look for ducklings around the end of July.
Harper is somewhat better today but says he feels like a noodle. Abby continues to make him herb teas. He cancelled his plan to visit other oceanographers at Woods Hole but he made an appearance downstairs.
I have lost my cars keys, my only set. My mind is a blank on where to look. Others kindly came and ferried me up to camp for supper last night where we had a grand old feed. Most of us ate lobster but some ate Max’s BBQ chicken. Max’s family was with us including Mitra’s parents, the Eskandari’s. Also present were Martin’s family including Amy’s dad Ken. Some old friends of Marcia’s from Canada stopped in on their way through town and stayed over night.
It rained off and on. I got drenched running from the car to the house. All the kids went swimming anyway. Ken is discouraged about his garden. A black blight has hit his peppers. I just read in Science News that Late Blight, the fungus that caused the Irish potato famine, is spreading rapidly in gardens in the Northeast.
Max rode his bike over today from New Sharon, a distance of 35 miles. Then he rode all the way home.
We got some sun today just as most were leaving.
July 06, 2009 Monday:
The sun shone nearly all day. The weather was perfect.
Jasmine gave 4 ½ gallons this morning of flawless milk. She has gotten over hanging around the paddock fence where Jeremiah is but she still answers his calls occasionally. He continues to bellow a lot especially if he sees me. The sheep do the same thing. Now we are frequently listening to three sheep and one steer all sounding off at once.
I discovered that I still had more squash plants to set out and have squeezed them in here and there. Let’s hope we get a good crop of squash in case the potatoes and corn let us down. So far everything is looking OK except the swamped part of the potato patch. What with bad weather and widespread crop problems all over the country and the world, I am taking my gardening more seriously than ever. Right now I am most worried about getting hay. Very little has been made in Maine. Someone said they read that the crop is down 50% because of the rain.
DD Abby came down and helped out for a long time. She thinned the beets, among other things.
The fields and woodlands are at their height of beauty now. After I called Jasmine this evening to come up for her grain snack I sat on the ramp behind the barn and soaked up the sight of the waving pasture grass and deep green woodlands and my little cow marching home and thought that heaven could not be lovelier.
This is my grandson Harper’s last evening. He is pretty well recovered from his sudden illness. He loves to cook and did the lamb chops for dinner. Tonight it was just Harper, Marcia, Abby and me. Besides the chops, we had brown rice, beet greens – the first this year and delicious – and green salad from my garden. Marcia made fried bananas for dessert. Harper put rum on them and set them alight for the flambé effect, always spectacular.
Harper regaled us with accounts of meals he and his family had on their many travels, most recently to Asia. They especially liked Tokyo. He said the Japanese have some traits in common with the French. They have a wonderful country, are satisfied with it, and make few concessions to foreigners. Most restaurants have menus entirely in Japanese. They learned to say the Japanese for “Chef’s choice”, “Omakase shimas”, literally, “It’s up to you” or perhaps “Please decide for me”.
July 07, 2009 Tuesday:
I was up at 5:30 and everything was so quiet on the farm that I feared Jeremiah had broken out and was in with Jasmine. He made up for it later with some relentless bellowing. I felt sorry for the workmen. At milking time Jasmine was way down in the pasture and ignored my calling. I guess she just was not paying attention. When I walked down where she could see me and waved my arms she came right away. She is ever so much better than Helen used to be. No amount of yelling would get her moving if she was enjoying her grass. I would have to go around to the far side of her and wave a switch. Jasmine gave 4 gallons of perfect milk. Already by noon it was evident that there is more cream, although not yet as much as there should to be.
It drizzled lightly all day. Marcia went to Portland to start Harper on his journey home and pick up his daughter Amara. They were planning lunch. I understand that Amara (18) has a bad cold.
Abby and I went off to Rumford on errands. We stopped at the Rumford Falls overlook. These great falls on the Androscoggin are among the largest in the Eastern US and with all this rain are spectacular. I often try to imagine how they looked to the Native Americans. They were then twice as wide. Noble pines would have bordered the river everywhere. Half of the falls are now taken up with a power plant. We opened the car windows to hear the roar of the water.
July 08, 2009 Wednesday:
It rained another 2” last night and at least another inch during the day.
Jasmine was waiting for me like a good girl and gave 4 ½ gallons. Cream production is improving slightly. She will very likely hold up again tomorrow though. Jeremiah got out and is now back in his stall. About mid morning I heard a great ruckus of clumping and barking and a sheep baa-ing. There was the larger of the two rams, Ramsey, standing in the buttery with Willie barking in his face. What followed was a great deal of bounding around and calling. I put Willie and Bagel inside the house and contrived a plan which eventually worked. As it happens, these sheep are absolutely not fearful of me so with grain in my hand I tempted him forward until I had him at the top of the stairs that lead from the deck down into the sheep paddock. I managed to finesse him through the little gate and onto the stairs at which point I gave him a push and he bounced on down like a mountain goat. I wish to note that these sheep are now huge. Ramsey has got to weight 100 lbs.
I had no clue as to how he had gotten out of the paddock but apparently it was no mystery to Jeremiah. The next thing I knew he was tearing around the lawn leaving great divots. I ignored him while I put a sign on the front gate warning people not to open it – no one else was here. Then I opened the front door of the barn and started trying to move him that direction. He was totally high and just kept circling around the bushes, the pond, the car and generally doing the opposite of what I wanted. Fortunately one of the workmen arrived, a fearless young man, followed not long afterwards by Max. Another five minutes and he had him in the barn. He is going to have to remain in his stall now for a couple of days until Max can do some fencing. I did find the breach. It was a broken post where sheep had been reaching for wild cherry – don’t they know it’s bad for them? Max repaired that spot but I guess electric fence is the best answer now. Max is more in favor of making them all an appointment at the abattoir, which for the price of the new fencing materials, I could do.
My great granddaughter, Amara (18), Harper’s daughter, is now visiting from Alaska. DD Abby made a nice lamb and eggplant stew. We were six at dinner at Marcia’s camp: Marcia, Abby, Amara, Max, Roshan and I. Roshan was over for her piano lesson from DD Abby and Max is supervising a teen overnight party at DS Martin’s camp a few doors down. Shireen and three other young ladies are eating mac n’ cheese and making s’mores. I hope we have better weather tomorrow for them.
I visited both veg gardens today. This last rain has clearly discouraged the plants in the paddock garden. It is just so soggy. I picked off potato bugs. It is striking to note how much greater insect damage there is on the more stressed plants that have their feet in the water. Down below in the older garden everything is in raised beds or rows but the little trench around the garden is full of water. The soil cannot absorb any more.
DS John wrote today from Adelaide: I just wanted to mention that as of yesterday, Tommy began moving his feet a tiny bit. He also is regaining his health and general vim, and as a result is able to do much longer and harder workouts with the physio and in the gym. I may have said something before about leg movement but this is really the first he has been able to demonstrate reliably and repeatedly, and clearly not spasm-induced, mentally-controlled movement. Naturally we are all “over the moon” and as always, just hoping that the progress continues.
July 10, 2009 Friday:
DD Abby is particularly fond of cream and is alert to the changes in Jasmine’s cream line. There is not only more cream but there is more heavy cream. Jasmine gave 4 gallons Thursday morning and almost 4 ½ this morning.
On Thursday we had another festive dinner at Marcia’s camp. She is a great hostess. We wanted to have Mitra’s parents one last time before the return to California taking Shireen and Roshan for the remainder of July. I sorted through my freezer and found all the remaining steaks. Max grilled them very nicely. The weather was pretty good.
It did not rain today. In fact it was mostly sunny. First thing this morning it was 45° but warmed to about 64°.
I tried to make butter but had left the cream in the churn too long and it was too thick to churn. I gave some to cousins Holly and Richard who stopped in for a little visit. Maybe they will think of something to do with it. I expect to be able to make butter more often now. They showed me wonderful pictures of themselves and other cast members from last winters’ Gilbert and Sullivan production in Minneapolis. They were all in various period costumes.
Harper took two pints of cream back to Alaska with him. This morning he wrote: Thank you thank you thank you for the cream. I made ice cream last night with half of it with fresh organic strawberries, fresh local eggs, not too sweet, not too berry-ish, and the cream shone forth, redolent of grass and sunshine. Everyone had two helpings. Fantastic!
Marcia and Amara came down today and weeded the veg garden. I weeded what I could of the paddock garden. The corn is getting swallowed up again. At least the squash and cucumber plants look pretty good.
The workmen finished up today. They took down all the scaffolding but left a terrible mess of shingles for Max to work on. On the final section of roof work they were not as careful to protect the plants and ruined a lot of flowers. They still have some finish work to do indoors on the dormer.
DS Martin arrived unexpectedly. He split wood while I whipped up a bit of supper. I had some frozen fillets of tilapia and a nice little bowl of strawberries given me this morning by Holly and Richard.
July 12, 2009 Sunday:
Jasmine gave 4 ¼ gallons yesterday (Saturday). The entire day was sunny. We wanted another family dinner while Amara is here and everybody rose to the occasion with contributions. Mitra made her famous pulled pork and a Mexican rice pilaf. I made cole slaw and queso blanco. DD Abby made a sponge cake and chocolate pudding sauce.
I had limited supplies for cole slaw, needed to accompany the pulled pork burritos: only a red cabbage and a quart of my sauerkraut. I shredded the cabbage using the finest slicing disk to my Cuisinart. I added the sauerkraut and half of a red onion. I made the dressing with olive oil and juice remaining from my kim chee and decorated the top with calendula petals. This slaw was so successful that I might try making it another time if I ever have this constellation of ingredients on hand again.
I used a gallon of whole milk for the queso blanco and shredded it. Instructions are in KFC. It only takes a few minutes to make it.
Present were Marcia, Abby, Amara, Mark, Ann, Hailey, Max, Mitra, Martin, Amy, and little Hannah and Henry, and my cousins from Minneapolis, Holly and Richard and myself. After dinner DS John called from Adelaide SA and put us through on skype to Tommy. For those who don’t know what skype is, don’t feel bad, it’s not even in my 5 year old Microsoft dictionary. You have a phone connection through your computer and can see each other on the screen. So there was Tommy in his hospital room with his brother Jack and Jack’s wife Miyumi. Tommy looked very cute and charming, as did the others.
As the guests were preparing to leave, the weather could not behave itself any longer and exploded into a cloudburst and electrical storm. It was the sort of rain where you run the wipers full speed and still can scarcely make out the road. I barely exceeded 30mph on the drive home but perhaps others are braver or have brighter headlights. One pickup got impatient and roared past me. Because of the thunder and lightening, once home I turned off my computer and am writing this on Sunday.
Jasmine gave over 4 gallons this morning. Of course everything was soaked again but the sun was bright and Martin and his haying partner, Ted, decided to take a chance on cutting hay. During the afternoon they cut and tedded about 100 bales-worth.
Max came here and loaded his pickup with nearly all the remaining shingles and other construction rubble. They left a huge mess, very inconveniently strewn, with very few of the shingles and nails actually on the tarp. Max took three loads to the dump and then mowed most of my lawn. He was very tired, having ridden his bike the 37 miles down from his place.
Marcia came and worked in the garden. At the Weld town dump she found a big collection of 8’ stakes made from small trees. She loaded these up and is installing them as tomato supports
I have decided to stop graining the lambs. It is getting a bit dangerous for me to negotiate the stairs down to their run-in with the can of feed. Now when I open the trap door they begin climbing the stairs to greet me. Today, Agnes slipped on the open treads, caught a back leg and hung upside down until I got down and tried to lift her out. When I got hold of her front legs she immediately began thrashing and got herself free. I was sure she had broken her leg but Marcia doesn’t think so. However she is limping badly.
July 13, 2009 Monday:
Jasmine gave 4 gallons.
Agnes is still limping but does put some weight on her left rear leg. She is otherwise behaving normally. Abby came by and devised a method for feeding them that does not involve going down any steps. Their grain tub is now out the back door of the carriage house with a length of baling twine attached for reeling it in. She says she will feed them.
Marcia and I were hatching plans for taking Amara to Farmington to shop on her last day here (her choice of activity, we’re talking pretty 18 year old girl) when Marcia decided to double check the plane ticket. Yipes! She flies today! She was still in bed. Marcia, Abby and Amara flew into action, stuffed things into bags, and were out the door in time to make the 2 hour drive to Portland to catch her bus to the airport in Boston with just seconds to spare. I’ve heard nothing to the contrary so assume she is now winging towards Seattle.
It rained again last night. There was sun all day today, not hot sun, but I know the men hoped to bale the hay that Martin and Ted cut yesterday. I have not heard if they did or not. It rained again about 6pm.
Yesterday I overbeat a full churn of cream. This will only happen with an unattended electric churn. The butter comes, and then if one does not turn off the churn, the buttermilk gets beaten back in. You now have something resembling mayonnaise and it is virtually impossible to get the buttermilk back out. I put the whole lot into the Aga simmer oven and made it into ghee, which so far as I can tell is the same thing as butter oil – that highly touted product. In any case I now have a quart of clear golden oil, perhaps worth a lot of money, but I would have preferred butter. The buttermilk fraction of this mess formed a quite delicious substance resembling buttered dry cottage cheese.
July 15, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave 4 ½ gallons. This would have been a good day for haying but the baler is awaiting parts. The weather was fine all day, sunny with a light breeze. DD Marcia stopped by with her trimmer and did some more edging and Max cleaned up the remaining builder’s rubble and did more mowing. I felt as though I was busy all day but don’t seem to have accomplished much except making a pot of beans and putting 2 lbs of butter into the freezer. At one point I was sitting quietly by myself on the deck and saw the Muscovy duck dawdling around in the manner of a bird pretending not to be returning to her nest. I sat very still and saw her disappear into the granite foundation of the carriage house. Max went down to have a look and said he could see a duck’s butt under there. I don’t know just when she disappeared but it has been at least two weeks. Regular ducks have a 28 day gestation but I don’t know about Muscovys.
Dr. Cooper was at Max and Mitra’s today to help with castrating their piglets. They did two of them and Max felt he had not done it right so called for help with the remaining two. Dr. Cooper had a different and perhaps better method that involved laying the piglet down on its back and Max holding its head between his ankles. Dr. Cooper then rolled up the pig enough to make the testicles bulge out for easy cutting.
But there was gloomy news about Helen. She is still open. Dr. Cooper says she is cystic and gave her the first of three shots which it is hoped will bring her into heat. She has been giving around a gallon a day for a year or so and I guess will have to continue.
The only gardening I did today was the potato bug patrol and some weeding in my neglected borders.
July 16, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine is still on a roll with over 4 gallons. But now I am worried. I must get Dr. Cooper over to make sure she is really pregnant. She was bred by Jeremiah last winter and has never come in heat again. She would be due either in late October or in November.
DD Abby was here when the duck was off her nest. She was able to count seven eggs. Abby and I picked peas for the first time. Now that will be a daily task for a couple of weeks. The row is only about 6’ long but DD Marcia set up poles and string so the peas go straight up in an orderly fashion and are easy to get at. The row is about 5’ high.
DS John sent this account of Tommy’s first visit home.
Tommy just left the house, after his first visit here in ten weeks (since 8 May). It was only a one hour visit but it was really great, and I am sure he enjoyed it a lot too. I started up his car so he could hear the sweet notes of the engine. He had a piece of Lou’s tasty carrot cake and some fizzy honey-based nonalcoholic beverage we had bought for the party we were having on 8 May when he had the accident (he blames a puppy for his accident, because he would have been at the party but for the puppy, which was to be delivered or something, requiring the car he would have otherwise have driven into town).
The occasion for the visit today was for the OT to inspect our wheelchair access (very poor). She wasn’t impressed but said that if Jack were here to help pull the wheelchair while I pushed, then it was okay with her. I hope to build a long (about 15-20 metres) ramp soon, then the problem will be resolved. Tommy’s arms are getting stronger (he finally gained a kilo as of two days ago, after a steady loss of weight). But his hands are very weak. We tried playing a bit of ping pong but he couldn’t hold the paddle strongly enough. Well, with two hands he could sort of play. So he wouldn’t really be able to stop a fall. But the wheelchair is pretty stable and we are very careful. (I had asked if he would be able to use his arms to prevent injury in case of a fall.)
I have been encouraging John to find raw milk for Tommy. He located a nearby health food store that sells raw milk as Cleopatra’s Bath Milk. He sent a picture of the container using his phone. He wrote:
I put in a standing order for 2 litres per week of the milk. That is enough for Tommy but Lou and I will have to go without. It is too expensive, being flown down from Queensland etc. But we did get to each have a glass of it. Actually Jack and Mayumi drank “our” milk, 2 litres, in one day, their excuse being they were worried it would go off (the use by date being a week or more hence notwithstanding!).
Tommy ranked goat’s milk a little below fish oil in palatability, I am afraid. So it was discontinued. (A friend had graciously offered to provide goat’s milk, but Oh Dear.)
Marcia and I went to Farmington. I bought a little canister of some very expensive cocoa at the gourmet shop and not much else except for a bag of dairy feed.
July 17, 2009 Friday:
Those positioned to make hay today will have had pretty good luck in this county. It was warm and sunny all day with some breeze. There was one sprinkle as the sun went down but it only lasted five minutes. I think I heard mowing across the river.
All morning I worked on milk related duties (2 more pounds of butter and filled the churn for tomorrow), also made two custard pies for the Historical Society public supper.
Marcia and I worked in the garden for about 45 minutes. We picked the peas, but you need a hazmat suit. The mosquitoes are unreal.
Tomorrow is the day Max and Mitra take their meat chickens to be dressed off. Those birds should be mighty good.
July 19, 2009 Sunday:
On Saturday Jasmine gave 4 ½ gallons, 4 today.
At 8am Saturday morning Max and Mitra delivered their meat birds to Greaney’s Turkey Farm, a local processor, to be dressed off. They had very little attrition. They ended up with 96. Two died of heart attacks. Max said they only received 98 in the order. Mitra attributes their quality and health to clabber. I guess that now Sophie and the piglets will get all my clabber.
DD Abby helped me during the afternoon with picking peas and general bottle washing. I was way behind on everything. She also shampooed Willie. He has gone from grey dreads to fluffy white ringlets. She gave him a pennyroyal rinse which is supposed to help with fleas.
Max and Mitra and Cousins Holly and Richard joined Marcia and Abby and me for dinner at camp. Marcia made two casseroles, one with artichoke hearts n a cream sauce and one with rolled up egg plant stuffed with quark. Quark is proving popular lately. Richard brought a beautiful strawberry pie. I got back one of my custard pies from the Historical Society public supper and brought that and a quart of whipping cream.
I also brought a successful salad of blanched sugar peas and young carrots. These were cut small and had a dressing of olive oil and lemon and a lot of mint. It was served on a bed of lettuce.
Occasionally I have wondered what I would do if I ever locked myself out of the house. This morning I found out. The first thing this morning after another night of rain I let the dogs out without twisting the knob from its locked position. I always keep a convenient key outside in the buttery … except this time I had left it inside the house. I was wearing my caftan and not a whole lot else. There were not many options available but I tried the window over the bulkhead outside the kitchen. It has one of those sliding screens. I was able to slide the thing to its small position, reach in, and release the toggle lock on the sash. So much for high security. Anybody could do this much. The next bit was more demanding. The window itself is swathed in dripping wet climbing hydrangea and the counter inside was crammed with loaves of bread, eggs in a basket, my coffee maker and a lot more. Everything unbreakable I pushed ahead of me onto the floor, the rest I brought out the window onto the bulkhead. From here on it was a case of hoping nobody was looking as I wriggled in the window. The only pain I suffered was from the sash, which refused to stay up, repeatedly dropping on my Achilles tendons on the way through.
July 21, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine is still giving 4 gallons every morning. I am making butter two days out of three. At last I am getting ahead and have frozen some nice grass fed butter for next winter.
Max came over yesterday (Monday) and completed work on electric fencing around the sheep paddock. We put Jeremiah back out with the sheep which made us all happy. I noticed an interesting phenomenon. The three Suffolk sheep have been noted for their loud baa, a noise which has not made friends for them. Now they cluster around Jeremiah and are much quieter. I can walk out onto the deck and down to the garden without setting them off. I recall how our flock of Jacob sheep remained independent until we got rid of the ram. Then they all joined up with Helen and the other cows.
Today is DD’s Marcia and Abby’s (twins) birthday. Obstetrical management was somewhat different in 1949. Nowadays I would have been browbeaten into getting a C-section as I went 10 days past my due date. They were 6 ½ lbs each. They were a surprise to all. The doctor apparently did not suspect twins. He predicted a 13 lb boy.
It has started to rain again. It is pretty discouraging. It is warm. After evening chores I went down and picked lettuce and peas and the rain felt good. But it is terribly frustrating not to be able to get on the Internet. Wildblue, my satellite service, does not function in the rain. When the sun comes out I am torn between catching up with the forum and various researches and getting outdoors.
DD Sally called from Haines AK. Her sons and their friends have been catching salmon in the Lutak River which runs past her house and she is running her canner all hours.
DIL Mitra leaves for California tomorrow to her mom’s house in Oakland. Shireen and Roshan are already there. They are all going to a large Iranian wedding, so, Max will be holding the fort in New Sharon.
July 22, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave her customary four gallons but she seemed irritable. Ordinarily, she dawdles in her stanchion after I release her but today she seemed annoyed at having to wait while I moved the machine and pooped a great soupy mess. I then made her wait while I got it all cleaned up. I imagine that the bugs are bothering her as badly as they are the rest of us. She does have flies on her while she is grazing but they don’t come inside whereas the mosquitoes do. I handle the milk in the open carriage house and yesterday I bought a citronella candle in a bucket to see if that will clear them out a bit. This morning I was not sure if it helped or not.
Max came by today and brought me a very fine birthday present. He made a nice wooden gate for the garden shed. One walks through the shed like a little archway to reach the garden. We have been putting up with scrunchy fence wire that has to be constantly opened and closed for dog security. The new gate is a joy.
Cousins Holly and Richard stopped by for milk and presented me with delicious whole wheat muffins and some black cherries. They had been up on Center Hill to see if the blueberries were ripe. They said there are lots.
I made the velvet spice cake from the Joy of Cooking for Marcia and Abby and me. We had a modest little dinner at the lake. As I was about to leave I discovered that Agnes, the ewe, had hopped over the fence and was in with the ducks. I was not sure what to do. There is no gate through which I might urge her back to her own side. I put out a bit of grain for Jeremiah and Ramsey and Kebob, the two ram lambs. I checked a few minutes later and she was back where she belongs. I did not see how she did it.
DS John points out that I am a perfect square: 9 x 9 = 81 today.
July 23, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine was happy this morning. She gave 4 gallons again.
Max reports that he had Helen AI’d this morning and the inseminator will be back tomorrow morning for a follow-up hit. How we do hope she settles.
He also reports that out in California Mitra’s mom took the girls shoe shopping and declares it has taken two years off of her life (or was it seven years?).
John writes from Australia about his son Tommy (18), still in a wheelchair following his accident May 8:
This is a bit of an update on Tommy, which I like to do when there are glimmers of good news. He was in a good mood when I called this afternoon, having had his first swimming session, which he loved, and was put in some structure that helps him stand upright (it supports all or most of his weight) – he was ecstatic to feel the earth through his feet and legs again.
Sally McDonnel, from whom I bought Jasmine, now has her own little farm in Ohio. She wrote this description of her new garden. She laid it out on overgrazed and impacted ground:
This year I spread my winter manure pile out in a 14′ x 40′ four inch deep swatch. Thick composted hay, goat & cow manure kinda thing. Then I went and got material from a dump and covered it with blankets and fabric. I cut holes for the plants and put in a shovel full of dirt around the plants in the thick compost. I put the hay that was wasted, soiled & trampled under hoof over the whole thing to kinda hide the obnoxious patterns in the material from the 70’s.
NOW it is all 5′ high and LUSH. I get a 5 gal bucket of vegetables every day. It is unbelievable, the best garden I have ever grown. “
I love accounts like this. People who think we can’t grow significant amounts of food locally just aren’t paying attention. But you need animals to make it work. Animals complete the circle of fertility. You also need to be willing to work but that can also be fun.
Agnes is sick. She has lost her appetite as a result, no doubt, of eating that duck food. She walks around a bit and drinks a little water but does not eat.
It is 9:30 and dark. Willie is going nuts barking about something. Both dogs are in the garage and very agitated. I went out on the deck with my big rechargeable flashlight but it is going dim. I could not see or hear anything. I don’t dare let them loose for fear it is a skunk or a porcupine.
Later: The barking continued for over an hour. I sure hope I don’t wake up tomorrow to a disaster.
July 24, 2009 Friday:
No disaster. Although I don’t see the female Muscovy. I know she has a nest somewhere nearby and has most likely set on her eggs. If the fox were after a duck I think he would have taken one of the big fat juicy looking Pekins They are the very definition of sitting ducks, always parked in a convenient group in plain sight. Furthermore, the fox does not hang around for an hour without doing any damage. I did not smell skunk. So it is a mystery.
I thought Agnes was a goner today. She just lay around and when I went down to have a look she was resting her head on a log. I was expecting DD Abby and figured maybe she could help me give Agnes a molasses water drench, as I thought she must be ketotic by now. I would need help with fending off Ramsey and Kebob, who are pushy and out of control. Abby finally arrived and I asked her to go down and survey the sheep situation. She came back with the report that Agnes was out grazing with the boys! Later she went back in to lie down so I don’t think she is 100% yet, but I feel a lot happier.
Marcia invited me to come out for dinner. I volunteered to bring a pot roast. The one I picked out was labeled last winter by DD Sally as “Non cosmetic chuck roast”. She and I cut all that last steer ourselves, mostly without any power saw. We got some funny looking cuts. But we all agreed, the flavor made up for everything.
DD Marcia got a call saying that her horse, Peter, who used to live here, did very well today at the Green Mountain Horse Show. It is an FEI show (Federation Equestrian International). He is now Reserve Grand Champion, First Intermediare. He was ridden by Pam Goodrich, his co-owner. His real name is Donerhut.
I don’t know what this all means either, but the judges were pleased and that’s what matters.
We woke up today to rain and it rained all day and is still raining. An article in today’s paper states that all farmers in this part of the country report crops and potential profits are down at least a third no matter what they are growing or raising.
Jasmine gave 4 ½ gallons this morning. To make the cluster fit on her full udder I have to milk the front two quarters out halfway before putting the cups on the rear teats.
July 25, 2009 Saturday:
It rained hard again last night but did not rain during the day. There was quite a bit of sun but I don’t think the temp reached 70°. Marcia worked a long time in the garden. When she completes weeding a bed, it is a work of art. She also planted the three fruit trees that I bought a couple of weeks ago, two cherries and an apricot. Max had the holes ready. Apricots scarcely grow here in Zone 4 but with climate change I might as well take a chance.
Max came over and built me a new ramp leading out of the chicken house. It too, is a work of art. I doubt anyone will ever slip on it. It is very sturdy and has cleats and a handrail.
Martin came with little Hannah but the rest of his family stayed home. He and Amy gave me a lounge chair for use on the deck. I will have to rearrange my life so as to get a chance to sit in it – always supposing the rain stops.
Max had to go home and take care of his animals but the rest of us ate dinner at Marcia’s camp. We had one of the new Luick roasting chickens which was such a treat. Abby made potato salad and green salad and cookies.
Agnes is back grazing but not spending as much time at it as the two others. Sometimes she goes inside their run-in by herself and lies down.
Jasmine gave a bit under 4 gallons this morning.
July 27, 2009 Monday:
Jasmine is still keeping up with her 4 gallons of full cream milk.
Agnes is now fully recovered to the extent that she pushed in with the ducks again and ate some more of their Game Bird Crumbles. I have not been putting out much as I figured she would and I have not had a chance to work on the fence. Today Marcia helped me with it. I dismantled an earlier duck pen and rescued some metal posts and Marcia pounded them in and put up a pretty good fence. An apple tree is dropping green apples into the duck yard and Jeremiah is eyeing them so we may need to extend the electric fence to further enhance the project.
While in the duck pen I picked up 10 duck eggs from a muddy niche where one Muscovy is laying. She is not yet setting so probably the eggs are OK.
Marcia and I also worked in the veg garden. We picked the peas and did some weeding. I picked a lot of calendulas for the table and for drying.
My kitchen sink is stopped up … again. It seems to do this once a year. It is something to do with all the milk related washing up plus the fact that the outfall line has virtually no slope for the first 50 or more feet before it joins the sewer line. It stopped up nearly a week ago. I have been running the tap into the dishpan and dumping the dishpan into a 5 gallon bucket. This gives one a dramatic awareness of how much water one is using. I don’t consider myself profligate with water, just on principle. I never leave the tap running even though I do not have any water shortage here at all. Now that every bit I use has to be lifted out of the sink and then carried outside to dump, I am shocked to realize I use 15 or 20 gallons a day. This does not include the dishwasher. Water will slowly drain from the dishwasher. I hope that somebody will help me establish a grey water line from the kitchen. This would make a lot better sense.
I joined Marcia and Abby tonight for dinner at the lake. Abby had been to Farmington and bought buffalo burger. She made a fire in the outdoor grill and we had truly delicious grilled burgers. She also made a fine salad of butter lettuce from my garden dressed with toasted walnuts. The mosquitoes finally got the better of us and we ran inside with our arms full of plates and relishes, munching our last mouthfuls.
July 28, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave 4 gallons.
It has not rained for over 24 hours although the three-day forecast includes thunderstorms. I took a tour of the paddock garden where the potatoes, corn and squash and cucumbers are planted. A few potato plants are alive. The corn is behind schedule and is not a good green color but is struggling upward. It is nothing like last year’s crop. The side of the garden where the squash and cukes are planted is slightly higher ground. Nearly all of them look good.
All three sheep got through the fence that Marcia and I worked on yesterday. Abby came over and worked on it again for several hours. Agnes, instead of pushing through a weak spot as before, gave a graceful leap and went right over. It was 4’ high. Abby added more wire so that it is now 5’ high except for one little bit up under the apple tree. She may not notice this right away. I need to roust out some more posts from somewhere.
Abby also worked on upstairs clean-up. Her daughter (my granddaughter), Helena, is arriving tomorrow from Carlisle, PA with two toddlers, Natalie and Logan 3 ½ and 1½, two of my great grandchildren, to stay two weeks.
July 29, 2009 Wednesday:
Abby came back today and worked some more on Helena’s room. She changed the curtains. She also did a lot of animal care to help me out. I made butter. I was able to put 4 lbs in the freezer today. The pounds of butter are like precious gold ingots to me. DS Max came over and mowed the lawn. It took him 3 hours and even then he did not complete it. The part around the paddock garden has grown too long for the mower and will have to be attacked with the weed whacker. The incessant rain has interfered with mowing. Things were dry and sunny today. We have had two days in the 80’s which has us Mainers wilting and moaning.
Helena and the kids arrived tired and happy. Helena has promised to instruct me in the use of my neglected digital camera.
The air today was heavy and by late afternoon I knew a storm was coming. Flies were sticking and the mosquitoes redoubled their feeding frenzy. About 7pm it hit with violent wind and rain out of the west. It hurled two vases off the window sill but only one broke.
I talked to DS Bret from Fairbanks AK. He and the kids were down in the Seattle area where he has a sailboat. He said it was 100° there and all the way up into BC.
Jasmine gave 4 gallons. So far the sheep have not breeched the fence into the duck pen.
July 31, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave 4 gallons.
The day started out sunny and fair but before lunch it clouded up and began raining again. I did not stop all day. We got another two inches yesterday also. Yesterday morning (Thursday) the Muscovy duck that has been setting on 7 eggs showed up in a puddle in the sheep paddock with 7 ducklings. It was not until today that I figured out a way to feed them so that the feed would be safe from the sheep and Jeremiah. She returns with her ducklings to her nest which is a deep niche in the granite foundation of the carriage house. I leaned a big plastic bread tray, the kind used to deliver sliced bread to supermarkets, up in from of her nest and put a pie plate of clabber and grain in her doorway. I do not know if she ate it. Later I saw her out with her family in the mud puddle again in the rain.
Martin and the children came up for a spaghetti dinner at Marcia’s camp. Besides Marcia and Abby, we had Abby’s daughter Helena and her two kiddies and are now joined by Marcia’s daughter Caitilin and her 9 month old baby, Lily. Lily is an exuberantly healthy baby of the sort seen in the baby section of Nourishing Traditions.
We were also joined by Roseanna Rockwell and her brother Zeke. Roseanna is a long time contributor to the KFC forum. They had also been up in Lubec ME to see Jessika.
I got a surprise phone call from sister Barby in CA telling me that her son Jon Lars and his wife Eve have a new baby, Janna. This makes three girls for them. Eve is the sister of DS John’s (in Australia) wife Lou. Janna weighed 6 lb 11 oz and was four days “early”. No problems were reported.
August 01, 2009 Saturday:
The weather today was truly fine. Many of the family were able to enjoy swimming in the lake. Martin went wind surfing, but slowly. The wind was very light. Max towed the float out with a kayak and there was lots of diving and splashing. Right around the dock the teenage girls helped the toddlers to have a good time in their floaties. Mitra threw a stick for their dog Lulu until the stick finally disintegrated. Lulu is a black Lab (mostly) and takes a great leap through the air before landing in the lake and retrieving the stick. Then she swims back and climbs the little “people” steps to get back on the dock. DIL Mitra’s brother Davoud returned with her from CA. We were so glad to have the sunshine so he could have a good day at the lake. He is only here for a week.
For our dinner, Mitra brought a fresh ham done in her slow cooker. I think one might hope to again eat pork that good but certainly not better. I heard several people say it was the best pork they ever tasted. The rest of the dinner was also good. Abby made potato salad and Mitra made red cabbage slaw. I made a spice cake with chocolate fudge frosting. This was in honor of Max’s birthday which is Monday but he had to leave today for his job in Cape Cod. He will be gone all of August.
Abby raced down here to the farm between courses and managed to get the mama duck and her seven ducklings into the pen with the other ducks. We hope they will have a better chance to eat without competition although so far I am not at all sure this is happening.
Today I worked all afternoon in the garden trying to rescue the corn. The weeds are once again out pacing it. The only things doing well in the paddock garden are the squash and cucumbers. The potatoes seem hardly worth any further effort, they are so damaged by flooding but I picked the bugs off anyway.
After this I took a basket into the pasture and picked up the first apples. I say “picked up” because the cows keep the branches trimmed to a height beyond my reach. By jumping I was able to get one branch tip and shake it a bit. I got about 5 lbs of apples which I immediately made into applesauce. Martin, Amy and little Hannah and Henry stopped in on their way home to Biddeford and all ate some with cream. If it doesn’t rain, I will go back tomorrow with a tool and shake the tree.
While here, Martin got the electric fence going and had a look at the clogged sink pipe. He thinks he at least analyzed the problem. If correct, it may not be so very hard to repair.
Jasmine gave 4 gallons on both Saturday and Sunday.
August 04, 2009 Tuesday:
Another fine sunny day, a great treat for all. I didn’t spend much time in the garden. DD Abby and I moved a hen with 6 chicks down from the hay mow into my small box stall where she can raise them for a couple of weeks. She is one of the “rafter birds” that never comes into the hen room at night and always hides her nest. These birds get restless in confinement. They want to take their chicks out into the shrubbery and pasture to learn about life. I start leaving their door open when I sense the hen has reached this point. Often she will bring her chicks back into the box stall at night for a while.
The seven Muscovy ducklings are doing alright in with the mature ducks. We now see them over at the feed pan lined up around the mash. The pen is a large and quite muddy area about 50’x50’ with puddles in it, an old foundation. I think they must be augmenting their diet with mosquito wigglers. I see them dipping their beaks in a feeding sort of way. The mother duck is a terrible Nervous Nellie. I can’t even look over the granite wall at them without her leading them away.
The carpenters were here today trying to do the finish work on the dormer. It is going slowly.
DD Marcia, her daughter Caiti. DD Abby and I met for dinner at camp. I made beef teriyaki. I sliver up round steak while semi frozen and marinate it with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, toasted sesame oil and various herbs. It only has to stir fry for about 4 minutes and is excellent over rice.
Jasmine gave four gallons.
August 05, 2009 Wednesday:
The sun shone all day. Nonetheless my internet connectivity was spotty and I can’t get onto the forum to discuss the Food Safety bill as I had intended. If truth were being told, it would be called the Small Farm Discouragement bill. It greatly extends the power of the FDA to search and seize food and records in a one-size-fits-all manner that will certainly discourage me. It require a $500/year licensing fee to be paid by even the smallest producers, a discouraging sum but one which is a mere fly speck to agribiz companies. The intent is to make the expanded bureaucracy self supporting through collection of these fees. It gives FDA the power to impose ruinous fines which also will help support repressive enforcement. None of this will be more than an inconvenience to big corporations which say they “welcome the Food Safety bill.” That alone should be a tip-off to who benefits from this feel-good legislation which has been rushed through the House of Representatives with almost no debate.
This legislation will override states rights. FDA has for decades made no secret of the fact that it believes that under no circumstances should any raw milk or milk products be consumed. Citizens of those states which now permit sale of raw milk will soon lose this privilege. We can then expect attempts to convict parents for child abuse in case they serve raw milk to their children as has already been attempted. I am not making this up. It has already been considered in some jurisdictions.
August 06, 2009 Thursday:
Another sunny day, another four gallons of milk from Jasmine.
DS Bret from Fairbanks AK and his kids arrived today for a week’s visit. What fun! Mitra came over with her kids and they all swam in the lake.
My granddaughter Helena, with some help from her brother Steve, set up a clothesline for me. I have not had one since the carriage house collapsed in ‘08. A pulley arrangement had been attached to the back of the building. Then the tree that held the other end of the line fell. It was hard to find another place to set it up. What they have now set up is not ideal but I am thrilled to have it. It runs from the deck to a closer tree. I have been making do with lines in the attic/playroom and with draping things over the banister in the upstairs landing and on the deck railing. A lot of things I have put on hangers wet and hung in doorways. I try to avoid the drier.
DD Abby gave Willie dog another bath. She also trimmed off a lot of his ringlets that were matted. I hated for him to lose his ringlets but no doubt he is more comfortable.
Bret, Helena, Abby and I (and all the kids) had dinner at Marcia’s camp. Mitra had to get home to her animals. Marcia made excellent chili rellenos, I made beans and brought salad greens and for dessert Marcia served fried bananas which she spectacularly flambéed with brandy. She served them with yogurt.
DS Martin called and will be up tomorrow to work on haying. It looks like we finally have the weather to do it. I am thrilled about this.
August 07, 2009 Friday:
The weather let us down. The day started sunny but about 11am there was a sudden electrical storm with high wind and horizontal rain. It lasted less than a half hour but was enough to soak the newly cut grass. I still have no hay in the barn.
I made two big pans of Korean style beef ribs for our dinner tonight. There were 18 of us counting the kids. DIL Amy has her dad and her brother’s family visiting. Marcia’s daughter Caiti and Abby’s daughter Helena are here for a few more days. DS Bret and his kids, Maia and Roger, are here and Mitra’s brother Davoud. This is his last night.
While at dinner I got a call from DS John in Adelaide. His son Tommy had a slight emergency with a blocked catheter and had to be rushed from rehab to the hospital. They fixed him up with a direct abdominal catheter, said to be safer. John is still working on his wheelchair access ramp, although it is already usable.
At dinner tonight we also finished up yesterday’s beans. It turns out that Roger loves beans.
Last month when Mitra’s parents were visiting here and staying in their condo, mom Marie found a large snake in the garage. It was 4 or 5 feet long and of an alarming appearance. Marie saw it several times over the course of their visit, usually sunning itself outside the garage door. Mitra brought back pictures of the snake, printed from her mom’s camera in CA, which then DD Abby and DS Bret used to identify its species. It is a Burmese Python, a non native species of course. Presumably somebody had it as a pet and discarded it, perhaps in the nearby pond.
Jasmine gave 4 gallons.
August 08, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine gave only about 3 ¾ gallons today. Yesterday and again today I am pretty sure I felt a little calf foot moving under my hand while I had the machine on.
A neighbor gave me a gallon of very high quality goat’s milk. For some reason her family does not like it. I made a gallon of yogurt with it. I also made another pot of beans. Bret can feed these to the kids for breakfast. We have Max and Mitra’s girls, Shireen and Roshan, tonight along with Bret’s two and Helena’s two. I hope they will sleep OK. The campground right across the river from me is having a loud group party with musicians and a sound system. I think we will have to sleep with the windows shut.
We had a nice dinner tonight at Marcia’s camp with Luick chicken, Coburn Farm salad, roasted root veg, local corn on the cob and a custard that I made.
We think we may have a better ID of the snake. It looks like an Eastern Milk Snake.
August 09, 2009 Sunday:
DS Bret has unclogged my kitchen sink. What joy! He thinks we had better install a grease trap, though. There is just no escaping the presence of milkfat in my rinse water and this is the source of the trouble.
Most of the day was sunny and the kids did a lot of swimming. Bret brought along the inflatable cabana that they won a couple of weeks ago in Fairbanks with their bicycle powered boat in a race on the Chena River. The wind came up and Bret and his son Roger (11) sailed the Hobie Cat at a high speed.
I walked the electric fence around my North Field to make sure it wasn’t down anywhere. It looks pretty good. I need to put Jeremiah in there. There is a weak spot in the wire fence that will separate him from Jasmine. I propped it up so that he may not immediately notice it. He needs to be out of the sheep paddock. It is getting pretty bald and I want him to keep gaining. Right now he is looking sleek. The North Field is about 7 acres. The grass is very tall and a lot of it has grown up to sedge due to the weeks of rain.
Bret made pizza tonight for the crowd, only six at the table this time. It was excellent.
I got my first zucchini, always a cause for celebration. Later, of course, we view them differently. I took it up to Marcia who was suitably impressed.
I have a lovely white lily in bloom. It has 8 blossoms. It is my Easter lily from two years ago. They eventually correct their internal clock and bloom in summer if you plant them out.
August 10, 2009 Monday:
Jasmine gave a bit under 4 gallons today. The weather was hot and muggy. I moved Jeremiah into the North Field. He did not get more than one cow-length into the field before he started grazing. I heard only one moo from him and that was hours later. Bret took the lawn tractor into the pasture and mowed as much as possible under the electric fence.
The sheep now have their paddock to themselves. I think that without Jeremiah the grass will keep ahead of them. Right now it is pretty short.
Caiti and baby Lily left today for her home in North Carolina. We will miss her.
The kids are all with Mitra tonight. We ate at Marcia’s, just four of us, Marcia, Abby, Bret and I. Abby served one of my standing rib roasts. I picked the first green beans from my garden and we had them too. Both beans and roast were delicious.
August 11, 2009 Tuesday:
Jeremiah did not last one night of separation. He pushed down the fence and was standing innocently next to his mother this morning. Needless to say she was down a gallon this morning. I am not equipped to do a fence repair right now. It will have to wait until I can get a couple of steel posts so must brace for a few days of less milk and scarce cream. There will be fewer people here to feed. Sadly, this was Bret’s last day. Marcia will drive him to the airport bus tomorrow morning.
The kids have had a fine time. We had dinner at Marcia’s camp again tonight, haddock and fresh green beans and one of DD Abby’s cheesecakes. Then she drove me home so that Bret and the kids could have a late evening swim without worrying that they were keeping me from my work.
August 12, 2009 Wednesday:
I just consoled myself with half a box of Ben & Jerry’s, not a thing I ordinarily do, but “it was there” and I had to say goodbye to Bret and kids today. I think they all had a good time in their brief six days. At least it did not rain every day. There are no more summer visitors scheduled although I am hoping my sister can visit in September.
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons so Jer did not take much. So far the cream line on her milk is holding steady. It will be a couple of days before I can get at any fence repairs. Abby, Marcia and I have plans to go see “Julie and Julia” tomorrow with Mitra.
I just finished writing a mini essay on the role of methane in global warming for Grist Mag. It is a commentary on an article by Eliot Coleman. I have had little time to write lately. While doing other things, I think of a sentence, then when I can steal a minute I run to the computer and put it down. Sometimes I just scribble a few words on an envelope.
August 13, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons this morning. I met Marcia around noon and we went to Farmington and met Mitra and the girls at the cinema where we saw “Julie and Julia”. Julia was well portrayed by Meryl Streep. The Julie part seemed a bit contrived. An in depth biography of Julia would be a worthwhile endeavor. She was indeed enormously influential in waking America up to food.
Back at the farm, I did the evening chores, hung out laundry and made myself a dinner entirely from my garden along with one of the bratwursts DS John sent. My three daughters and I all have July birthdays within a week of each other and John ordered a nice box of sausages sent from a place in the Midwest called Koenemann’s.
August 14, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons this morning. The weatherman has promised us four days of summer. It was 80° or more today. Perhaps this will discourage the mosquitoes. They have been making headlines lately in the local paper right up there with the revenge shootings. I actually had to water a lot of things today. I have now picked five zucchinis. Marcia picked the beans. I would guess she picked five pounds. But we need to do something about the Japanese beetles. They are ravaging the top growth.
My ducklings are going missing. Each night another disappears. There were 7 and now there are 4. We are so upset about this but can’t figure out any way to deal with whatever is the predator. I have never had a serious rat problem here but am inclined to suspect one in this case. There is no whiff of skunk about. All the other logical predators are so much bigger that I think they would snatch one of the fine fat Pekins rather than a little duckling.
John reports that Tommy can now move his pinky fingers. This is important progress, the doctor says, as it indicates control moving farther south on his spinal column.
August 15 – August 21, 2009:
Everything in this diary to date disappeared yesterday when I was closing another document and opening Heifer Diary. I lost four months of writing. I am told that it may still exist somewhere but I have tried everything suggested, hours of trying, to no avail. Of course all except this week’s material can be found on my home page under Heifer Diary where it is posted every week. All I can offer for this week is a brief synopsis.
DS John says that my grandson Tommy (18), now confined to a wheelchair as a result of a gymnastics accident three months ago has regained the ability to move his pinky fingers. So there are some little improvements.
DD Sally McGuire and her husband Tom and daughter Rebecca and R’s husband Torsten and their baby Torlief (15 mo) and their enormous Husky dog Bjarke are doing a canoe trip in northern Alaska. They put in (2 canoes) at Old Crow in Canada on the Porcupine River which joins the Yukon. They will leave the Yukon at a bridge, the first place with road access. The trip will take 2 or 3 weeks. Further details now vanished in cyber space.
All efforts to keep Jeremiah in a separate field have so far failed. The heat has been terrible, over 80° with very high humidity, so the girls and I have not tackled fencing. Right now J and J are back together.
I am quite confident that I feel a calf inside of Jasmine. If confirmed, she will have to be dried off in a couple of weeks.
I have put up 10 pints of sauce from wild apples and 10 4/serving bags of green beans in the freezer and also frozen ten quarts of blueberries. This is not much compared to some people but I feel pretty good about it. I also have 11 pounds of butter frozen.
For the first time ever, I think, I overslept by two hours this morning and did not get up until 8:30. This was due to hours spent last night searching for my lost Heifer Diary.
August 22, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons today. I am not sure if Jeremiah had any or not. They have been together since yesterday and remain so tonight. Starting about midday we have had severe electrical storms with driving rain. I didn’t feel like going out there and sorting them out so just took them each a little grain.
Marcia came down and helped me for a couple of hours this morning, then went home and she and Abby put together a big dinner. It was in honor of birthdays of Max, Mitra and Roshan but I included Shireen too. Guests included DS Martin and Amy, the four Luicks (Max, Mitra, Shireen and Roshan) and our cousins Holly and Richard, and of course Marcia, DD Abby and me. Marcia made an excellent chicken curry. She served it over brown rice. DIL Amy’s dad contributed a huge salad from his garden and Amy made a great dressing. Shireen made blueberry upside down cakes. Martin and Amy’s little Henry is now taking a few steps. He was charmingly willing to show off, then kicked his legs with joy when Martin picked him up.
The rain appeared to have let up, but about the time the party broke up it started up again. Holly and Richard convoyed home with me because they needed milk.. I could barely see the road even with the wipers on high speed. Richard knows computers and had a look at mine. He says for one thing I need more RAM.
Max must leave again right away on a job, this time in New Foundland. Now that passports are required, he has to race to the Federal Building in Boston on Monday and get one.
The campground directly across the river from me is having their now habitual thunderous Saturday night party with loudspeakers. I don’t believe I will feel the need to apologize to the neighbors next time I have a cow in heat or a separated calf.
August 24, 2009 Monday:
Jasmine is dropping off to 3 gallons a day or a bit more. I don’t see much evidence that Jeremiah is taking any. If true, that will be a famous first. Mostly in a small domestic setting such as mine with only a few cows, two in my case, the great big calf never stops nursing. When I do start seriously drying Jasmine off, I will not feel confident unless Jeremiah is totally separated. Now during milking I am consistently and unmistakably feeling the calf bouncing around.
Willie has been scratching a lot and has hot spots. Marcia gave him a bath with various shampoos and sprays. He loved his bath and stands perfectly still in the tub. He seems to feel better.
Cousins Holly and Richard came over today. Richard installed some more memory in my computer. It now is a lost faster but seems to be having trouble digesting the new memory. It is giving me threatening messages. Holly helped Marcia with freezing beans and corn. We had a nice lunch of quiche and salad with a blueberry buckle that Richard made.
Abby spent all day making an outdoor run for the turkeys. She single handedly moved them out there. They are now great big birds but have quiet dispositions. The pen is mostly light wire and bird netting. I don’t think they will try to escape as they are not acting flighty. However, I am concerned that the cows will push their way in to get at the turkey feed.
Marcia’s son Harper and my grandson and granddaughter, Rafe and Rosemary McGuire and Shane, a friend of Rafe’s, have all gone up into the Brooks Range in Alaska to hunt caribou. Harper, known for his luck, got a big buck within three hours but they will be there a week. Fortunately for the meat, it is pretty cold.
There is no word from DD Sally and her McGuire/Bentzen party off on their canoe trip down the Yukon but we did not expect any news. According to the weather map, it is raining.
August 25, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave just over 3 gallons this morning.
Holly and Richard came back today so that Richard could work on my computer. It took him about six hours of wrestling with the stubborn thing but now it seems not only fixed but improved. Holly helped again with freezing corn. Marcia also was here and worked a long time in the garden weeding the strawberries and picking more beans. I made lunch for everybody except Marcia who needed to get home and work on her bags. I made lunch in two shifts, first for my vet, Dr. Cooper, who was in the neighborhood, then for Holly and Richard. We had fish fillets, green beans and new potatoes, simple fare, but good with plenty of butter.
We have ever-bearing strawberries and Marcia brought enough to the house for me to make a little batch of jam this evening.
August 27, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine gave less than 3 gallons this morning. I have cut her grain to less than 2 lbs/day.
I had quite a lot of company today. My neighbor, Ronnie, the only other person in town milking a cow so far as I know, sold her cow today. She needs to get a job. The buyer, who has my KFC book, wanted to meet me when she came to town to pick up the cow. Her whole family came except for one of her five kids and we had a nice visit. They admired Jasmine.
The weather today was very fine, bright and sunny without the heat. Marcia worked a long time on weeding but there are still several beds to go. Dear Max came over with Roshan and mowed my lawn. It was in a dreadful state. Roshan helped Marcia to dig some potatoes. There are a few plants down in the kitchen garden and these were not flooded.
I made a braised beef shank and took it out to the lake along with some lovely tender carrots. Marcia baked some of the new potatoes. They are purple. I also made a single crust blueberry pie that turned out well. I cooked up the blueberries with a tablespoon of black currant jam from last year (this year’s crop was a total loss due to Marcia having misunderstood the directions she had for pruning). A little black currant is what blueberries need to pick them up.
Marcia and Abby showed me two more beautiful panels they have made using the batik process. Marcia applies these to the bags she is making.
August 28, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave 3 gallons and a quart.
It was cooler today, down to 40F this morning, but sunny all day. It warmed to about 65F. This is perfect weather for working. Not that I got much done. Early in the morning I discovered that three of the four turkeys were gone from their rather fragile pen. They were nowhere to be seen. I went ahead with chores feeling quite grumbly until I discovered them out behind the barn under a tractor. DD Marcia came down and herded them into their former room inside the barn. They know her well, having lived up at her place until recently. Later DD Abby, constructor of the pen, came down, repaired the breach and moved them back outdoors. She and Marcia had to carry them back out. It was agreed that they must now weigh 20 pounds. Thankfully, they have a date with destiny in two weeks.
Marcia has gone to visit a friend in New Hampshire and will be back tomorrow. I made the first tomato and cucumber salad of the year with a big ripe tomato and our first cucumber. Abby made an apple crisp (oatmeal topping) with apples she picked up off the ground in Weld. This is about all we ate for dinner and very good it was.
A major storm is predicted for tomorrow which may impact our family plans for the weekend.
August 29, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons this morning.
We were told to expect rain around noon, result of Hurricane Danny, but it was already raining when I got up. It was cold too, barely reaching 50F. It was a pleasure to put on warm clothes. It was a good day for working indoors. I got everything moved out of my upright freezer into a chest freezer that was recently given to me. It is a nice little freezer and everything fit. I had this inspiration to organize things into big fabric shopping bags rather than boxes (hard to lift when cold and heavy) or plastic bags (always tearing). Now corn and beans have their own sturdy bags as does the remaining beef.
I joined DD’s Marcia and Abby for supper at the lake. During dinner we got a call from Harper, Marcia’s son, my grandson, in Fairbanks AK. He and DD Sally’s kids, Rafe and Rosie, and friend Shane went hunting for caribou very far north in the Brooks Range. They got their limit of six caribou (two per Alaskan household, Shane is from another state). They came down from their campsite in two greatly laden canoes. They are processing the meat at DS Bret’s house where there is lots of space, equipment and expertise.
Here are some photos from the caribou-hunting trip.
August 30, 2009 Sunday:
Today dawned bright and sunny. Jasmine gave 3 ½ gallons this morning.
DS Martin and family and DS Mark did not come this weekend. They missed some beautiful weather.
DD Marcia came over and worked in the garden. She picked beans and carrots for dinner. Both are lovely but voles are eating the carrots. I think we will go ahead and dig them before they are destroyed. So many crops are doing poorly this year for us and for everyone in New England that I hate to lose any carrots. There will be no corn, few potatoes, and the squash and cucumbers are retarded. So far our tomatoes do not have the blight that has hit many gardens.
I tried a blueberry scone recipe that was demonstrated on America’s Test Kitchen. It involves using shredded frozen butter to create flakiness and the use of frozen blueberries. The scones were outstanding when fresh from the oven but the blueberries remained half cooked with the result that later the scones got soggy. The initial flavor and texture were so good that I may take the trouble to solve this problem. Chopped dried apricots or cranberries steeped in something might be the answer.
Max and Mitra and the girls joined us for a mid afternoon meal at the lake. Mitra brought one of her superb clabber-fed chickens, roasted, and a pan of inspired stuffing; it had chorizo and purple tomatillos in it. Abby made a very nice potato, onion and cabbage dish with Southern origins. It is much like bubble and squeak. We had very fresh steamed green beans and carrots. I brought a flan for dessert and some of the scones.
As I started home it suddenly started to rain torrentially. I ran around doing evening chores with an umbrella in one hand. Just at sundown it stopped and there was a rainbow.
August 31, 2009 Monday:
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning. Marcia and I were both able to very distinctly feel the calf moving. Jasmine looks good and is very friendly although sometimes a little irritable. Jeremiah has a sweet disposition. They like to stand behind the barn and look across the ramp at the turkeys. I put their snacks on the ramp, usually apples. At this time of year in Maine apples are everywhere.
Max drove the Kubota down from Weld. No hay is going to get made. I will have to buy all my hay. So far there is none in the barn. Let’s hope the weather holds steady until at least November and that spring comes early. I do have some hay reserved for later in September.
Marcia worked in the garden for a long time. Most of the beds are now weeded and beautiful. She has planted a lettuce mix and spinach and both are up under floating row cover. I worked for less than an hour. That is all I could take of what I was trying to do. The Balm of Gilead tree sends big feeder roots out in every direction and many are in the veg garden. These send up aggressive growth that cannot be pulled up. I have to use an old pruning saw and saw off the roots underground on each side of the growth. Many of the roots are 2” in diameter. I got three of these horrid clumps out.
Abby has received a job offer which if it works out will take her back to Pennsylvania. We all have mixed feelings about her going but it will be about 2 hours from her daughter Helena as opposed to 2 days now.
The weather today was beautiful but I doubt we will have any more hot weather. It is about 50° this evening but some of the state got frost warnings.
DD Sally is back from canoeing down the Yukon with her husband, daughter Rebecca, SIL Torstein and baby Torlief and Bjarke, the large Husky. I have not spoken with her yet but she sent an email. Here is an excerpt. Rose is her other daughter, who has been out in the Aleutians all summer working for Fish & Game.
I’m at Becky’s now and will be till Weds morning when we start driving. I’ll call you when back in Haines. All well though. I got to see Rose!!- she had been hunting caribou with Rafe and Harp for 8 days, then had to do the cutting and hanging, so was still there. She left for Cordova this morning, I saw her at the coffee shop and then we both took off. Had a GREAT party at Charlie and Sherrie’s last night. Harp barbecued (in a frying pan, I think) little strips of caribou liver, only s & p on them, as an hors d’oevure (sp) which was incredibly delicious and wildly popular. Disappeared in about 50 seconds. Then a round of heart cooked ditto, and then caribou steaks for dinnner- yum!! Bret and Andrea brought ratatouille, also terrific, and a yummy beet dish. Huge salad, bunch of other delicious things. Many nice wines but of course I had lemonade. Sure was fun. Tom is now in Fbks till tomorrow when he flies to Dawson which is where we left a truck at the beginning of the trip- he will drive it back here. Then I can finally go HOME!!! I talked to Rafe today and he says my animals are fine. I sure look forward to talking to you too, and to seeing my house…. They cut Harp and Rose’s caribou at Bret’s- so nice of him, and he lent us his house too God bless him. What an incredible fine thing to have a house to go to at such a time- everything jumbled and dirty and damp. Trip very fun of course, pretty stressful the last day, and I was able to paddle without collapsing hurrah!
September 01, 2009 Tuesday:
Very fine weather. Sweater weather this morning but warmed up later. Jasmine gave 3 gallons. The pasture remains very good.
Marcia was here by 9am and accomplished further wonders in the garden. All I did was dig 5 or 6 lbs of purple potatoes from the little patch in the veg garden, the only place they succeeded. Up in the paddock garden one can’t even make out where they were.
Cousins Holly and Richard stopped by for milk and I gave them some chard. Richard helped out with a couple of minor computer issues, just some settings I could not figure out. Holly took some nice pictures of my barn with its new roof and two of my sheep.
Don Houghton is getting set to bushhog my pasture now that the tractor is back. It is late to be doing it. The weeds have mostly all gone to seed but it is important anyway. That, and manuring by a few animals per year is all the help the pastures get but compared to what the grass was like when I moved here 35 years ago, the improvement is noteworthy. One step backwards is the North Field which tends to be wet. With all the rain this year a lot of sedge has taken over.
DD Sally wrote from Rebecca’s house in Tok with a few details of her canoe trip:
This is such fun to have access to communication again. I wondered so much, paddling along, how all was going there. And of course at my house with my dear garden, and my equally-dear animals including the chicken young stock- how big they must be getting! I wonder if Rafe will get a black bear. He got three halibut yesterday. I hear from Judy that it has been RAINING, hurrah hurrah, a lot while I was gone, bless her for telling me. Almost until I left it was still pretty much dry as a very old dry biscuit, and I worried. But my garden I didn’t ask , and wouldn’t ask as it’s such a huge job, for anybody to water- just the greenhouse and even there I only asked for “every few days”. Which is also what Becky asked for her greenhouse, and it was GREAT.
It was such a thrill to be out with Torlief etc. T was just learning to walk when we left here, but couldn’t really do it in the many clothes he had to wear most of the time on the river – not all the time though as a lot of the time it was screeching hot. Maybe most of the time!! Also had rain, but usually only in the night or early morning, and then cleared off. Poor thing had to wear a large lifejacket over all his mountains of clothes when in the boat- so did I, but could take things off and on as necessary. At first he hated the lifejacket but by the end when he saw the boats being loaded he would crawl over to the lifejacket and try to get it on, it was So Cute. In the mornings he would get up and sit in a lap while breakfast was being fixed, then start rampaging around while things were being done. He had a personal attendant every single second, no lapses.
The river is pretty good sized and fast, but very smooth, no rapids. Not even where constricted by cliffs. Every so often there were old cabins to look at, and two (they changed their minds) old customs houses, really interesting. (nowadays there isn’t one at all). One is being carefully reconstructed by the Canadians, at least I think it’s the Canadians. Lots of bear and wolf signs but only saw two groups of bears and no wolves- moose signs everywhere too, but didn’t see any either. Thank heaven. I’d have loved to have bears or wolves around (well actually we did have a group of three, mother and large cubs, by the camp one night but they ran off when Torsten said ‘hey bears’- the trick is to do this BEFORE they get too close since it really pisses them off to be surprised- just like anybody else)- but anyhow, having a moose in camp is a really bad idea. They’re so **** stupid. Many loons both common and arctic. Now I am waiting for Tom to arrive as he had to fly to Dawson to pick up the truck we left there. He flew there this morning and should arrive here around suppertime. Then we drive home tomorrow, and I can see all my dear plants and animals etc, hurrah!!
September 02, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave 3 ¼ gallons. A raccoon has visited the garden and badly damaged the tomatoes. Marcia and I were gone all day to Farmington so we have not evolved much of a defense. I went around with my solution of Irish Spring soap which so far is deterring the deer, leastwise they have not so far molested the garden, and sprayed all of the tomato plants. I got the idea of putting a couple of kerosene lamps down there only to discover that I have no lamp oil. Also I picked a lot of tomatoes that were close to ripe.
Of course now the ducks and turkeys are at greater risk. I do hope they survive until September 12, their date with destiny. It is tempting to leave the dogs loose at night but I am so fearful of Willie getting out onto the road. DD Abby did further work on containment today. She upgraded gate security.
Donnie Houghton arrived first thing this morning and commenced with bushhogging. He did the entire North Field. I let the cows in there for the night as they enjoy eating the chopped off grass.
September 03, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine gave 3 gallons. The Kubota had a flat this morning on one of the big rear wheels. Fortunately Marcia’s compressor was here and Don Houghton was able to pump it back up and it held. He bushhogged another large section of field, Pocket Field.
I got a nice long call from DD Sally from Haines. She was on her front deck overlooking the Chilcoot River drinking tea. Across the river there were bears. She is promoting the construction of a greenhouse here at Coburn Farm. We all agree and will stockpile more sashes. We already have lots. We get them from the dump.
Marcia carried on with weeding the veg garden. There was no new raccoon damage. I spritzed it again tonight under a bright moon.
This is DD Abby’s last evening before setting out for PA to her new job as caregiver to an elderly lady. I fixed one of her favorite dinners; beef cooked in the Romertof in the Aga until falling off the bone and flan for dessert. We sat out on Marcia’s porch and watched the hummingbirds and loons as night fell. The changing colors on the lake are endlessly beautiful.
September 04, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave almost 3 ½ gallons. The weather is superb. Donny Houghton continues to bushhog. He is almost finished with my pasture. Next he will go across the river to DD Sally’s 17 acre field.
DD Abby left today for her new job in PA with her car loaded to the gunnels. She is making a 2-day trip of it and should now have reached Northampton. She was hoping to get there early enough to visit the art museum at Smith College, her alma mater, but will have arrived too late unless they have evening hours.
The raccoon was not impressed last night by my efforts to fog the garden with Irish Spring and he mutilated more tomatoes. My latest idea is to put a mirror in the garden with an oil lamp in front of it. I am hoping he hates his own reflection. I went to Rumford today to buy lamp oil. It has proved surprisingly hard to find. Between us, Marcia and I tried four places. Two lamps are now glowing in the garden.
Mitra reports that Helen is walking poorly. At first I thought arthritis but now that she has sent me a video I am thinking sore feet. It could well be something totally different. Our vet is out of town for the entire month.
Marcia gave Willie a bath today and saw only one flea. There was no more dried blood on his skin. He seems friskier. Probably he is sleeping better. Poor little guy.
Mitra also reports that Max reached the work site in Newfoundland. There was some panic when the airline lost his luggage containing his hard hat and other essential gear but it was located in time. He will be working 12 hour days seven days a week, for a few weeks. They are taking core samples from an old paper mill that has a new owner.
Here is an interview from Acres USA with the producers of the two movies, Food, Inc. and Fresh.
http://www.acresusa.com/toolbox/reprints/Sept09_Kenner&Joanes.pdf (copy and paste into browser if link does not work)
September 05, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine gave a bit under three gallons today. I bought a new weight tape and have taped Jeremiah twice in the past week. Both times he taped over 1000lbs. It is a dairy tape so won’t be quite accurate for a steer, but he is pure Jersey. He is 4” higher at the hip than Jasmine. He is a beauty and has a lovely disposition. He is now 21 months old. So far as I can determine, he is no longer sucking.
I found no new raccoon damage this morning. Maybe he did not fancy seeing himself in the mirror or else the lanterns did the trick. Or maybe Willie’s barking made him wary. Willie stood out on the deck and barked his head off from 12:30am to 2:30am. I didn’t sleep much. I set up the lanterns and mirror again tonight. It is a full length panel mirror and is lying on edge propped against tomato vines.
Donny Houghton has now mowed all of my pasture. He plans to start Sally’s on Monday morning. It is so lovely to see it mowed. It was looking pretty scruffy.
We have not heard from DD Abby today and are hoping she reached her destination safely.
DD Marcia’s daughter Caiti called to say that her baby Lillian, 10 mo., stood by herself today. I had one baby who did that, DD Sally walked at 10 months. Then they walk around under tables bumping their heads.
September 06, 2009 Sunday:
It was cold last night but did not frost. It may tonight.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons.
A hormone switch got tripped today with the sheep. They are racing around, leaping and cavorting, butting and randomly mounting. They have a few things to learn before any breeding occurs. Their run-in under the buttery has some beams across the front, part of a failed attempt to keep Jeremiah out while he lived with the sheep. It was fun to watch them sailing over that barrier again and again.
We had a nice dinner at the lake with Mitra, Shireen, Roshan, and cousins Holly and Richard. Marcia made eggplant lasagna and roasted a leg of lamb. I made some baguettes. Richard brought his famous blueberry pie. Then Marcia came down to the farm and helped me cover some of the plants with frost cloth and sheets
September 07, 2009 Labor Day Monday:
Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons this morning. We did not get a frost last night after all. We did get another destructive visit from the raccoon. Besides mutilating tomatoes he has torn out the roots of some of the string beans. I had hoped the fact that things were swathed in white sheets might prove to be a deterrent but not so. DS Martin brought down his Havahart trap and set it but I suspect it is too small.
I took the afternoon off. Marcia gave me a nice lunch at the lake. We had scallops cooked in leftover lobster butter that I had saved. Delicious! Then I got into her hammock and read for an hour. The sun was bright but the air was cool enough to require an afghan. That is so preferable to mosquitoes. I did not get a single bite.
September 09, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine only gave 2 ½ gallons. I really have the impression she is ready to dry off. I will begin on Saturday. Mitra, Marcia and I were invited to a lovely lunch with Holly and Richard at their camp on Wilson Pond. Holly made an excellent Thai chicken curry and kindly shared the recipe. It looks very easy and the ingredients are mostly items a person would have in their pantry and freezer. Holly kindly shared the recipe.
Thai Chicken dinner for 5 or 15
For 5 ——— For 15
1-2 T. ——— 3-6 T. green curry paste
½ c. ——— 1½ c. chicken broth
3 T ——— 2/3 c. fish sauce
1 ——— 3 stalk lemon grass, in 1-inch chunks
1¼ lb. ——— 3-4 lb. chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 ——— 3 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb. ——— 3 lb. green beans (frozen)
1 ——— 3 can straw mushrooms 1 2 red peppers, cut in strips
? ——— 1 lb cauliflower
1 ——— 3 cans coconut milk
Saute chicken breasts & onion briefly. Mix in chicken broth, curry paste, fish sauce, and lemon grass, and bring to a boil. Add vegetables, cook a few minutes, covered. Add coconut milk, but don’t overheat after this or it’ll curdle. Simmer slowly til ready. Serve on rice. Might need bowls.
Richard made another perfect blueberry pie.
Richard then played several rousing songs on his player paino. It is one he has owned since he was 18 but it has been living elsewhere until now. Holly and Richard sing wonderfully together so it was all a great treat.
September 10, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons. I had to hurry her along because Don Houghton was back to clean out the barn and could not start until I brought the cows through. Jasmine did not like the sound of the tractor at work in the barn. I am afraid that an early morning tractor has sometimes been the preamble to the loss of a colleague.
After cleaning the barn and creating a new manure pile out back, Don took four loads of manure down to the veg garden in the tractor bucket.
Marcia worked a long time weeding. There are still some patches left to weed but she is nearly finished. There was no new damage to the plants. I put out a big bowl of peanut butter a couple of days ago. Whoever is eating our vegetables ignored it until last night but is now eating it. I am hopeful that he critter will get so full on peanut butter that he won’t eat the tomatoes. This morning I canned five pints of tomatoes that had been nibbled. I cut out the chewed portions.
This evening I went to a lovely gathering arranged by Dot Mason with whom I rode in the Fourth of July parade. It was a going away party for Carthage residents Betsy and Jim Collins. They moved here from Pennsylvania about 25 years ago and now are returning to be closer to their family. About 60 people attended and many brought food. I took banana bread. Dot had arranged for entertainment by a woman who sings very well while standing up and playing her electronic piano.
Max writes from Grand Falls, New Foundland, that the work is going fairly well but the locally available food is terrible. I guess he has a couple more weeks of restaurant food there.
September 11, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons. She looks good. This will be her last regular milking in this lactation, now 18 months. Until about two weeks ago she rarely fell below 4 gallons OAD. What a champion little cow. I will milk her again on Sunday if her udder is very tight but the milk is usually a bit “off” after being inside a cow for two days. Mitra’s chicks are appreciative consumers in case I decide to clabber it all. My milk customers are desolated.
Our fine weather is holding. We will actually have to do some watering in case it does not rain this weekend. The tomatoes were not molested last night. He or she ate more peanut butter instead of tomatoes. But voles or other small rodents are eating the root veg.
Marcia brought her horse trailer down and we loaded up the ducks and turkeys. We were able to herd the ducks into a corner of their pen and catch them 2 or 3 at a time. They are very soft and squishy. Then she backed the trailer over to the barn. We lowered the tailgate and she herded the turkeys in to join the ducks. They did not like walking on rubber matting and one flapped off to the side but they are so tame that Marcia could pick him up.
To celebrate the reduction in farm chores now before me, Marcia and I took ourselves to dinner at Kawanhee Inn. We had one of the best meals I have ever had there. I started with a cup of butternut squash soup with a scoop of tiramisu. Marcia had calamari which she shared. As entrees we both chose the tuna. It was served Asian style, very rare with seaweed salad and wasabi. We drank a pinot grigio. Then to be really ridiculous we ordered chocolate cake. Our waitress, who is the wife of the chef, said he orders it from a baker in Florida.
My sister is coming to visit on September 23! I am thrilled.
September 12, 2009 Saturday:
Marcia and I drove the ducks and turkeys in her horse trailer over to Greaney’s to be dressed off. This is a small family business that does a fine job. It is generally agreed that killing ducks is hard to be around. Ducks are so cute and squishy. Unless you are a duck hunter, if one wishes to eat duck of known provenance, it is this or buy a commercial duck. We now have a dozen ducks that dressed off between four and six pounds. The four turkeys ranged between 14 and 22 pounds. All looked excellent.
I baked beans overnight last night and when we got home Marcia and I each had a bowl of them. They were pretty good, we thought. I will serve them tomorrow when Holly and Richard join us at Marcia’s for a meal.
In my description of our dinner at Kawanhee last week I inadvertently wrote that the soup was garnished with tiramisu. The garnish was with mascarpone. Oops.
September 13, 2009 Sunday:
Much of the state got rain yesterday and last night but all we got was heavy fog. It burned off and we had glorious sunshine.
I brought Jasmine in and milked her. Her front quarters were very tight because I skipped yesterday. Her rear quarters were full but not hard. She gave 4 gallons. The flavor was of course not so sweet and delicate. I’d say it tasted almost like store-bought. It strained perfectly. I will skip again tomorrow.
Marcia was here to help and we decided that the sheep water buckets should be scrubbed out before refilling. I went down with a grain snack to distract the sheep, which are very pushy. While standing around waiting for the buckets to fill, I walked about 10 feet away to pick up a pan. I thought this would be safe because the sheep were still hovering around their grain pan and observing the water hose. Bad decision. When I bent to pick up the pan one of the rams shot over and butted me a** over teakettle. I did not even see him coming. I shrieked and he ran back to his buddies so I don’t even know which one it was. Because the hose was running I got very muddy and had to change all of my clothes. I suppose that I will be a bit stiff but my chief damage was to my left thumb joints. When I put out my hand it jammed my thumb. I have not taken any pills. I made a comfrey mash in the Cuisinart and have been slathering that on. I think it had been very helpful. It does not hurt so long as I don’t try anything heroic with it.
Marcia and I got all the ducks and turkeys into the freezer. I sorted the big bag of necks, livers, etc. into separate bags and froze these.
Yesterday I made a big pot of baked beans. I took these and a bowl of cole slaw out to Marcia’s camp where we were joined by Holly and Richard. Marcia made oven BBQ chicken thighs and Richard brought blueberry buckle, a type of cake. They also brought some very nice wine. We ate out on the porch and watched the sparkling lake and the various birds.
Mitra and the girls could not join us because of their soccer schedule but she and the girls will get to hear the player piano on Wednesday. Holly and Richard have invited them over. I know they will love it, especially if Holly and Richard sing.
September 14, 2009 Monday:
I skipped milking today. Jasmine’s bag feels OK. I gave her and Jeremiah each a bucket with about two cups of grain and two apples when they came to the gate. They got nothing this evening because they did not show up. It seems pretty quiet in the barn.
I have continued rubbing comfrey mush into my thumb joints. This morning it was pain free when carrying breakfast plates with that hand, my left. It hurt too much to use the pepper grinder. This evening I can use the pepper grinder but still feel a little pain. I have some stiffness here and there but no bruising, at least where I can see and I doubt I will ask anybody to look.
Marcia strung electric fencing around the veg garden. She placed it the same way that worked last year which is about 3’ out from the existing post and woven wire fence and about 3’ off the ground. My theory is that if to avoid the electric fence the deer jump over it they will not be able to make it over both fences at once. Consequently they will crash into the wire fence and back up to the electric tape and get a buzz on the rump. My nightly spritzing with Irish Spring soap solution has worked to date but at this time of year the fruit trees are sure to tempt them even though they too are sprayed.
My cat, Stanley, has been killing voles and lining them up by the back steps. There are now four in the row. I think it is voles that have been eating the carrots and other root veg.
September 15, 2009 Tuesday:
It rained a half inch last night, a nice sort of rain that stopped at daybreak. I went down early and admired the refreshed garden and then went to visit Jasmine in the pasture to see if it would be essential to milk her this morning. I decided I could safely skip it. By this evening she was very full in the front quarters but the rear quarters were still soft. I expect to milk on Wednesday morning. I spread out hay in the beefer pen in hopes she will lie in a clean place. She is expressing annoyance with Jeremiah. He is bugging her a lot. I decided this evening that he should go into the freezer. I doubt he will gain much more on the October grass. At present, with Max expecting to be gone a great deal, the logistics of this will be tricky.
Marcia and I worked on making ripe tomato chutney. This is the Christopher Lloyd recipe from Gardener Cook. Mitra reminded me that everybody liked it last year. It took some doing to scrounge up 6 lbs of ripe tomatoes from our meager crop. It also calls for 4lb of apples. We were able to use some well flavored falls that DD Abby brought home a couple of weeks ago. She got permission to gather them from a homeowner who couldn’t be bothered to pick up her own apples. Most had to go to the cows but what we rescued have great flavor. The Lloyd recipe makes 2 gallons.
Mitra (soccer mom extraordinaire) reports on today’s game: I just got back from Shireen’s soccer game at the high school. The score was zero-zero. The other team, Hamden, played hard and dirty. Shireen got elbowed in the back by one girl and accidentally punched the girl in the face – oops. Then I watched aghast as a girl tried to kick the Mt. Blue goalie as she saved the ball. Shireen was on defense and came charging at the girl and ran her over really hard. All I could see was a ball of legs and arms! It was a very physical game. Mt Blue lost almost every foot race for the ball and the other team had much better ball control/fancy footwork but they (Mt. Blue) still didn’t let them score. The second half was better than the first as Mt. Blue seemed to get their mojo back. Roshan enjoys going to the games, mostly because of hot dogs.
September 16, 2009 Wednesday:
This was a perfect fall day, mostly sunny with a high about 60F. I got Jasmine in to be milked. Her udder was pretty tight although not dripping. I got 4 gallons. It was just a little slow to strain but the filter was fine, no mucous. This is gratifying. I put it all into a large stockpot rather than into jars. I will skim this tomorrow. There is almost no off flavor.
Marcia and I met for crab cakes for lunch at her camp. Then we drove to Madrid to visit a nice lady who has a bed and breakfast and gift shop. She will be offering Marcia’s bags in her shop. She sells quality crafts and artwork from the surrounding counties.
I have made an appointment to take Jeremiah to slaughter. He will not gain much more this fall and he is starting to tease Jasmine and even jump her. I can’t have this going on around calving. To separate them means putting him back into his stall where he is not happy and has to be waited on. I think it is better to risk separation stress on Jasmine now rather than later. And lastly, it becomes hard to get an appointment at the abattoir as fall advances. Marcia and I will take him over on Thursday the 24th.
September 17, 2009 Thursday:
I finished up my chutney project and got 13 pints. People are already opening them. Marcia took down the bean poles and cleaned up some more beds. She gave Willie a bath and found no fleas.
Here is a picture of my garden shed which leads into the garden. Max made me the gate on the shed for my birthday this year. It is for keeping dogs out the garden while we work.
September 18, 2009 Friday:
Most of today was overcast and windy with intermittent sun. Jasmine and Jeremiah did not show up for their morning snack. The grazing remains pretty good even though there has been very little rain.
Friends from Australia stopped in for coffee, Kim and Anita Hurley from Perth. He is Martin’s rep in Australia. They are staying at Martin and Amy’s camp. On the way here they viewed Alaska from the inland ferry and crossed Canada by bus and train before visiting NYC.
I spent most of the day cooking. Martin and his FIL Ken and little Hannah came for supper. Ken brought lovely chard from his garden. I baked beans again and made a meatloaf followed by applesauce, a very simple meal. I am also in charge of the roast for a family meal tomorrow. I shall follow Anita’s suggestion for roasting two eyes of round. It involved a marinade which needs to go on right now, tonight.
Martin brought 175 bales of hay from southern Maine. All hands will be here in the morning to put it into the barn.
September 19, 2009 Saturday:
Fine weather today. Jasmine is still making milk but I did not milk. The front quarters are much tighter than the rear. I gave both cows about 1 ½ cups of COB with a couple of apples in the evening only. I also threw a big armful of comfrey over to them.
Frost is predicted. DD Marcia put sheets and frost cloth over a lot of the garden while I picked green tomatoes. I discovered that my feeble looking corn in the paddock garden actually has quite a few mature ears. Marcia and I were able to pick plenty for tonight’s dinner for 13. We also found out why the raccoon has not been troubling the lower veg garden. He has been feasting on corn. A number of ears were neatly peeled and eaten without removing them from the stalk. Many others were broken and trashed.
Yesterday DS Martin parked a trailer load of 125 square bales of hay on my lawn (Last week I mistakenly gave the number as 175). This morning a wonderful crew consisting of Martin, his FIL Ken, their houseguest Kim Hurley from Perth, Kim’s wife Anita, who came along to look after wee Hannah, and cousins Holly and Richard all arrived to unload the hay into the barn. Last year Martin bought a hay elevator which makes the job infinitely easier. It’s like a ladder with a chain belt traveling up the center. The chain has little spikes on it and keeps going around. You set the bales on it and they travel to the top and somebody grabs them as they tip off the top of the ladder elevator. You just plug it in and it makes a wonderful clanking noise, so much more agreeable than hearing gasping helpers counting bales and saying ‘Only 50 to go” as they hoist them up by hand.
After putting my hay into the loft, the crew went over to DIL Mitra’s house (DS Max is out of town) and picked up her hay from the farmer, took it to her house, and rolled the big round bales into a bay of their carport and pallets outside the carport. Mitra later covered the bales set up outside. Mitra gave them lunch and introduced all the animals. Martin picked up four big round bales for me of very nice hay and left these on the trailer in my yard.
We then all met for dinner at Marcia’s camp. I brought two eye of round roasts that I had marinated and cooked all day at about 200° and another big pot of baked beans. I brought the corn too. Anita made two gorgeous platters of salad with roasted pumpkin, avocado, pine nuts and other goodies. DIL Amy, Martin’s wife brought two great loaves of bread from Standard Baking Company and Holly and Richard brought apple pie. Dear Mitra and the girls made it in the nick of time after doing their farm chores. My goodness, what a jolly feast it was. Mitra took a little video for her dad, Alex, whose birthday it is. We all raised a glass and wished him a happy birthday.
September 20, 2009 Sunday:
The power was out for six hours during the night.
We got some frost . It pretty well knocked out the squash and cucumbers in both gardens. The sun came out brightly and no frost is predicted for tonight
Martin and the men came back here in the afternoon and put the round bales on pallets in the carriage house. There is no ground level hay storage area in the barn.
September 21, 2009 Monday:
At last Jasmine has stopped making new milk and is beginning to resorb.
Marcia has parked her horse trailer at the open door to the beefer pen with its ramp down. The plan is to get the cows to eat their grain snack in there so that Jeremiah will load quietly on Thursday. So far neither he nor Jasmine chose to get aboard.
I called my neighbor with a goat to see if she wanted to sell some goat’s milk. She kindly brought me 4 quarts of excellent milk. She was looking for a home for 4 young roosters of her own and 3 more of a friend. I said I would take them. She brought them right over along with the milk. I am keeping them in a separate room until they get used to their new home
September 22, 2009 Tuesday:
The cows did not choose to get into the trailer. Then I thought of what I should have done in the first place. I covered the tailgate with hay so that it did not look so strange and rubbery. Jasmine marched right aboard and got her grain. Jeremiah still wouldn’t but perhaps by tomorrow he will have marshaled his courage.
My sister leaves tonight on an overnight flight to Maine for a visit. We are all looking forward to this enormously. Unfortunately she was feeling pretty nervous because she had lost her packet with all her flight information and coupons for free parking. She had run out of time for further searching and called me to get our cell numbers. She had a second copy of the flight information to refer to and nowadays all you need is the flight number and ID but she and I are way too old to handle this sort of thing well. Let’s hope she gets a quiet seat on the plane.
September 23, 2009 Wednesday:
Dear Barby found her documents after she got to the airport. They were in a pocket of her knapsack that she had forgotten she had. She had to wait quite a while this morning for Marcia and me to pick her up. Her plane was way early and we were late due to having left the turnpike too soon so had to make our way through some traffic. She was a great sport and we had lots of fun today catching up.
This morning I could see that Jasmine (I assume) had been in the trailer and eaten the grain. This evening I set the buckets a lot farther back and when I checked later the grain was not eaten. Both cows were lying nearby chewing their cuds. We’ll see what morning brings.
We have started using the frozen milk.
September 24, 2009 Thursday:
This was the day for Jeremiah to go to the abattoir. I had hoped to accustom him to the trailer by putting his bucket of grain in it. Jasmine ran in and out without hesitation but he would barely set a front hoof. When it came time to load him I finally put Jasmine outside the barn so that he and I were alone in the beefer pen. After about 20 minutes without distractions I was able to wheedle him aboard. I felt like an awful Judas but at least there was no yelling or prodding. When I finally had him up to the pole and his head in the bucket I took his collar in one hand and the clip in the other (I was crouched way down by the floor) and just clipped the rope on him. Over his entire life I have accustomed him to having his collar handled when he is eating so he was used to that. I always gave it a twirl. He also knew to give to a rope. Starting right after birth I clipped him to a post next to Jasmine. This was pretty much his only training except “Back”. Learning to lead is of course a valuable skill but my set-up leaves little need for it. My cows readily learn to go in an out to the various areas.
Marcia connected up the trailer and she and Barby and I drove him to Castonguay, the butcher. We unloaded him without incident. He marched right into a depressing maximum security stall. Castonguay promised to bring him water. He said Jeremiah needed to be in this small safe pen because two bulls were arriving later.
As mentioned last week, Jeremiah has been teasing Jasmine. We don’t currently have the crew to do home butchering, it is still too warm in my cellar for hanging a carcass and I have no way of keeping him separate from Jasmine except by keeping him in a box stall. That would not be a great life for him and I would have to carry all his feed and water.
The weather today was warm and moist. Barby and I joined up with Marcia for a nice supper at the lake. We had the last of the fresh corn and the first of the Brussels sprouts.
September 25, 2009 Friday:
DD Marcia and Sister Barby and I went to Farmington and saw Mitra at the farmers’ market. There were only four tables today because most vendors were at the Common Ground Fair. But we did get to greet dear Liz (from the forum) and her husband Dave who are here for a very short visit. We will see them again tomorrow.
Max is home now home from New Foundland. I have not yet seen him. He will be coming over tomorrow for a visit with me and his Aunt Barby. He leaves again on Sunday for work in Mass.
Today is the end of this year’s growing season. The weatherman told us to expect temperatures tonight in the mid 20’s, well below freezing. Marcia and Barby harvested all the squash. They look lovely, although smaller than one hoped. I’m afraid most of them are not mature enough to be good keepers.
Barby took Marcia and me to Kawanhee Inn for dinner. Once again, it was very good and we had a jolly time. No more eating outside on the screen porch, though. We had a table near the fire.
September 26, 2009 Saturday:
It has been another fine September day. Barby and I walked down to the river with the dogs and they of course had a fine time. While beside the river I noted that the witch hazel bushes (Hamemellis) are in bloom. It has feathery little tangles of petals among the rather coarse leaves. The leaves are about like elm leaves, in fact it is an elm species.
Our KFC forum friends Liz and Dave Montgomery from Conroe, Texas are in Maine visiting. They stopped by with Mitra and had a little tour of the farm and took some pictures of Jasmine and I. Mitra was taking pictures as well.
We all wanted a good look at the pregnant Jasmine. I enticed her from the far end of the field with a little can of sweet feed.
Then the party went up to Webb Lake to check out DD Marcia’s camp. They had a nice time sitting out on the dock. It was a beautiful day. Pictures courtesy of Liz.
DS Max and Liz’s DH Dave checking out the dock and the lake. Mitra and Max trying to convince them to move to Maine.
They are having dinner with Max and Mitra along with Janet (2ndchance) and Laura (lj) forum members from the area. I’ll bet they are having a wonderful time right now. DS Max and his girls also came by to visit and brought my feed. Max with help from Shireen kindly stood the hay elevator back up so that it no longer blocks the main aisle in the barn. Then he and Dave carried the big steel hay feeder back inside the barn. The rusty old thing has been decorating the lawn ever since Don Houghton mucked out the barn.
Back at Mitra’s, Liz took this picture of Helen and another of Max with Sophie the big red pig Mama.
DD Marcia roasted one of my prime rib roasts tonight. DS Martin and family joined us for dinner at camp. That meat is amazingly tasty.
September 28, 2009 Monday:
I guess I’m out of the duck business. Last night something took all four of my lovely plump half grown Muscovy ducklings. Also the white duck that has been laying somewhere is gone. It is barely possible that she has disappeared to set but I suspect the worst. Her mate and the bereaved duck (which was not his special mate) sat together all day in the sheep pen neither eating nor drinking. I began to worry that he was injured and bravely walked in with him. He moved away a couple of feet so isn’t injured, just traumatized. The sheep did not notice me. I can’t catch these two ducks and feel pretty sure that whatever it is will be back for them tonight. I am much grieved.
Barby and I drove to Weld and climbed Center Hill. It is a park with a well marked 20 minute climb to granite ledges and panoramic views of the lake and mountains. I suspect there are plenty of folks who could make this climb in ten minutes, truth be told. We saw no other people.
September 29, 2009 Tuesday:
My two adult Muscovys were still with us this morning. Marcia and I (mostly Marcia) managed to catch them, rather to my surprise, and they are in a stall in the barn. No fun for them, but we hope to build a more secure pen. Marcia noticed that the female has an injury on her breast. Her feathers are bloody.
The weather continued fine all day, although it rained hard last night and again this evening.
September 30, 2009 Wednesday:
I did not sleep well last night. At 3am I heard cacophonous barking which I finally decided had to be a group of coyotes. It is always so hard to know how many one is hearing or how far away they are but there were definitely more than one and not very far away. They kept it up for about a half hour. I felt pretty sure that I had the answer as to what could have taken four fat ducklings and a grown duck in one night. The sheep were in their run-in under the buttery and did not make a sound.
At present I have both dogs sleeping in the carriage house with freedom to roam the buttery and out onto the deck. From the deck there are stairs down into the sheep pen and these areas are blocked by some heavy stuff to keep the dogs from leaving. This morning Bagel was not in the garage. He was outside the garage door. He had wrenched aside the barrier and leapt down the very steep open steps and gotten out and he was very high on himself. I think he was telling me that he had run off the coyotes. He was very excited, not his usual lethargic self. Tonight I am changing the arrangement so that Bagel can do some guard duty if he wants to. I’ve been reluctant to do this for fear that what he would encounter would be a skunk or porcupine. I am not really sure how much danger coyotes are to sheep such as these quite large Suffolks but if Bagel will discourage coyotes I will sleep better.
DD Marcia drove her SUV and trailer today over to Washington ME, about 2 hours away, to pick up DIL Mitra’s new Jersey cow, Nellie. Mitra navigated while I did some back seat driving. It made a long day but little Nellie loaded with patient coaxing and lots of apples. Cara kindly included a one month old Jersey bull calf that is pretty rambunctious. He is the son of Emily, Helen’s daughter, thus is Helen’s grandson. Emily is holding up so badly that that Cara preferred him to have a new home. Nellie trailered perfectly and walked very sweetly to her new barn. Mitra and I used my Surge on her for her evening milking. I stayed to help with this as machine milking is new to Mitra. Nellie is low to the ground which makes the machine tricky to operate. Nellie is a champ and never kicked despite all the hands (mine and Mitra’s) trying to keep the teat cups on. We ended up with close to 2 gallons, not too bad in the circumstances. Nellie’s milk is very nice.
Nellie did not refuse her food. She seems quite practical minded. I did not stay to find out how Roshan got along with bottle feeding the calf. After wrinkling her nose a few times, Helen walked to the far end of their paddock to eat hay.
Sister Barby did not accompany us on the expedition to get Nellie but instead joined high school classmates on a rather chilly picnic. She ordered a big pizza for our dinner which was very welcome indeed.
October 01, 2009 Thursday:
It was sunny but chilly this morning. From the barn I could see a fox far away down in the pasture pouncing from one clump of grass to another hunting for mice. He stopped and stared at me but then continued hunting. The wild animals around here must feel pretty safe.
Jasmine’s udder is now totally flabby in three quarters. Her near rear has worried me a little by being slower to resorb the milk. For the last four or five days I have been cutting comfrey and throwing it over the fence to her and on Monday I mashed some comfrey in the food processor and have been slathering that on. Possibly because of the comfrey, this morning I found that quarter to be significantly reduced.
For Barby’s last evening I braised shortribs which we served with brown rice cooked in stock and kale with fried onions also simmered in stock until well done. Marcia made a delicious apple cranberry galette with a nut crumble topping. Marcia gave Barby and me each one of her beautiful batik bags. Barby chose one of DD Abby’s koi designs. I chose one of Abby’s scenes of the moon over fir trees.
The weather is getting distinctly cooler.
October 02, 2009 Friday:
DD Marcia and I hopped up early and drove Barby to the airport. What a shame her visit was so short. We all hope her little dog fared well at the dog sitter. On our way home we stopped at an artisanal baker that Marcia discovered on her last trip to Auburn called The Bread Shack. With a name like that we always supposed it was a day-old bread outlet but it is in fact a world class bakery. They also have croissant and plenty of other irresistible items. We each had a slice of quiche. I bought a huge French-type loaf of 80% whole wheat (Maine grown wheat). I have tried it and it is indeed world class.
As soon as we got home Marcia went straight to the garden and tore out the spent tomato plants and dug over the rows. I went to the barn and found a nest with 10 eggs. I took them all and left two wooden eggs. The sheep are so far doing fine out in the big pasture and not abusing their freedom. They are happy with the better grazing but if called come bounding back to me. It is really cute to see them running top speed.
Mitra reports continuing success with Nellie although she got less milk today than yesterday. She tried putting the calf, now named Bo Diddley, onto Helen. Helen was furious at the indignity, even though Bo is her grandson, but he was undeterred and got his breakfast.
The fall color is nearing its height.
October 04, 2009 Sunday:
I am still putting ground up comfrey on one of Jasmine’s quarters twice a day and cutting comfrey for her. So far her right rear quarter remains the same, which is to say not quite as flabby as the other three. She is looking nice and round.
DD Marcia drove past today on her way to pick up her DD Abby Rose who has come from CA for a visit. She did not stop put phoned me from her car to ask if I knew the sheep were in the paddock garden. Answer: No, I did not. I marched right out there and sure enough, all three were noshing on corn as fast as they could. Ordinarily as soon as they see me they come before I even call. This time they gave me a look and kept eating. I am not picking the corn anymore so they are welcome to it. The problem is that the far side of the paddock fronts the road and is not secure. To get into the paddock they had gone under the electric fence. Their path and tracks were clear. I could not figure out what to do about it so went back in the house to wait for my sister Barby’s Sunday call. Forty-five minutes later they had all gone back to their habitat under the buttery to digest their feast and I had shut the necessary gates. Knowing sheep, they may now start hopping fences.
I spent some time in the garden. It was overcast but over 60F and honeybees were working. I have never known of any hives in the neighborhood but I see bees every year. I believe they are wild. We have a new round of salad greens coming on. I cut mesclun and pulled scallions for Marcia and Abby Rose for their supper.
I canned seven pints of tomato chutney. This time I just made up the recipe. It has more ginger root and chilis than the previous recipe.
Barby called. She had picked up her little dog, Comet, from the dog sitter where he was miserable. The sitter, whose home based business is dog care, found him to be a nuisance and had taken him to a kennel. Barby does not plan ever to leave him again. Comet is much stressed and now only wants to rest.
Well, I just ate four chocolates and finished off the box given me by our nice Australian visitors. I can’t think that I have ever eaten four chocolates at a time, ever, but now I don’t have to worry about them any more, do I? And I am left with a handsome tin.
October 05, 2009 Monday:
The weather today was what might be called unruly. It cycled through fog, sun, wind and showers. Then repeated itself.
Jasmine is doing well. Her right front quarter is not hot or swollen.
The sheep were very disappointed not to be allowed out into the north field with access to the corn in the paddock garden. I leaned two pallets against the gate by way of discouragement. Jasmine also looked disappointed. I gave her two armloads of comfrey, one in the morning and one this evening.
There are still tomatoes ripening on the kitchen window sills. I put up two pints of ripe ones. It is easy to do these dinky amounts in the Aga.
I made a braised chuck roast, baked purple potatoes and picked Brussels sprouts for our supper and took it all out to the lake. Everything on our plates was from the farm except the salt and pepper.
October 06, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine is rounder every day. She is super friendly and comes trotting up whenever she sees me. I put down hay this evening in case she does not feel like walking back out to graze.
Marcia drove me to Lewiston for my eye appointment. We got there early so went and got lobster rolls first. My eyes showed no change. My doctor recommended that I see my local eye doctor next time so as to avoid the long drive.
October 07, 2009 Wednesday:
Quite heavy rain all day. The sheep hate this. If I had a convenient way to give them hay I would do it. Mostly they stayed in their shelter. Jasmine stayed in too, right next to her feeder. I spent quite a lot of time working on an essay in defense of cows. They don’t have anything to do with global warming and I intend to prove it, not that anyone is likely to pay attention. So many people prefer the myth. Well, they are not entirely to be blamed, since the World Health Organization published their giant obfuscation, Agriculture’s Long Shadow.
My contractor George and his helper Eric have been waiting for a rainy day, when they need inside work, to complete the drywall in the playroom. This will be Marcia’s room this winter. They did not complete the work today. It needs two more coats of compound.
Marcia’s friend Sue Downs is visiting and Abby Rose is still here. I joined them for dinner and brought salad and an apple pie. Marcia made a lovely shrimp dish which she served on polenta.
October 08, 2009 Thursday:
This was another very fine fall day. I did not get to spend much time outdoors though. I went and got dental x-rays. As I knew, there was an abscess under one tooth that is part of some bridgework. My Grammy used to say, “Don’t ever get old”. She did though, 96.
Marcia and Sue Downs came this morning for coffee. Marcia is getting poised to close up her camp and move in with me for the winter.
After my appointment I continued on to see Mitra. By then we were both in a rush so it was a short visit. I brought her some goat’s milk yogurt that I made yesterday. I do think goat’s milk makes the best yogurt. She gave me 4 quarts of cream which I will make into butter for her. Her dairy project combined with her pigs and 150 meat birds has her on the run. Fortunately Max will be home this weekend.
I got a call that my meat is ready. I am to pick it up Saturday.
October 09, 2009 Friday:
I went out in the north field to check the fencing and found where some large animal the size of a cow, horse or moose had knocked down the barbed wire fence and torn out the top wire and pulled loose about 50ft of the electric fence that is inside the barbed wire fence. Since only moose are on the loose around here I presume that is who took it out. Moose season here is now underway. I did a low-rent repair of the post and wire fence and repaired the electric fence properly. I have been wondering how to give Jasmine access to the field without the sheep and finally realized that she can have it at night when the sheep are penned. This evening when I opened the gate she marched right through. She has been looking hopefully at that gate every morning, and then she looks pleadingly at me. But I can’t let the sheep in there until I do a proper repair.
DD Marcia and her DD Abby Rose moved her bed here today. We could not get her full sized box spring up the stairs so she has to settle for a smaller bed.
It rained today but I went up to Marcia’s for supper anyway. She made a delicious soup out of leftovers. Max and Mitra and the girls are coming tomorrow night for a spaghetti dinner. Max is safely home from Lowell, MA. In the morning they are taking half of their meat birds to be dressed off and Marcia and I are going to pick up my beef. Oops! I’d better go clean the upright freezer and turn it on. I nearly forgot.
October 10, 2009 Saturday:
DD Marcia and I drove to the abattoir and picked up the new beef. There were 520 lbs. Now the upright freezer is totally full and some is in the horizontal freezer. Castonguay estimated the live weight at around 1100 lbs. That is in fact how I taped him but I lacked confidence in my taping. Jeremiah was a big boy who received over a year of milk. The sides hung for 2 weeks. The crew was busy cutting moose when we arrived. Castonguay says he expects to do 32 moose at least.
Max and Mitra and the girls joined Marcia and me for a spaghetti dinner tonight at Marcia’s place. Marcia simmered the sauce for hours and it was excellent.
It is unexpectedly cold tonight. The sky is brilliant with stars. I really should have covered a few things.
October 11, 2009 Sunday:
I did go out with towels and tablecloths and cover a few things but the thermometer did not fall below 32° and this morning I did not notice any frost damage.
Jasmine and the sheep had a happy day grazing. The sheep had several episodes of running. They were alarmed by troops of 4-wheelers going by on the road. These are not supposed to go on the road but since I disinvited them from crossing my property they would have a huge detour if they did not do this quarter of a mile on the two-lane highway past me. I believe there is some sort of convention taking place. I’m afraid that back in 1977 they were not very tactful in their approach to me and the issue has not come up again.
Ooh, I am stuffed. Marcia and I and Diane who is the postmaster at Weld, booked a table for the Fireman’s Ball held at Kawanhee Inn in Weld. All those actively involved were wearing marvelous get-ups in the 50’s cabaret style. The inn has a fine chef. He put together a vast buffet designed, we were told, to use up all the leftovers. The inn is now closing for the winter. I sampled three entrees and a Caesar salad. Everything was first class. Then let me tell you about the dessert buffet. Twice this summer Marcia and I had the opportunity to sample the chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing and there it was tonight. No contendre. We both took a slice. But then (very bad) I also took a piece of the peanut butter pie, something of which I had preciously only heard. It was good, really more like cheesecake, but no match for that cake which we were told the chef has flown up from a patisserie in Florida. So here I sit stupefied, no doubt with elevated blood sugar. We did not stay for the dancing. I have writing to do and Marcia has a lot of orders for her bags to work on.
October 12, 2009 Monday:
It barely froze last night. The thermometer stood right on 32°
I got my garlic planted this morning. I set out about 75 corms. Marcia had already dug the bed. I added manure and lime and after digging these in I made three parallel rows of dibble holes, dropped in the garlic and walked over the bed to tamp them in. I still have to lay out boards to prevent frost heaving which can push the corms out of the ground.
Marcia came down in the afternoon and cleverly modified the electric fence into an archway over the back gate to the paddock. Now Jasmine can get in there and eat corn stalks if she chooses. We worked together to clean up the former duck pen.
October 13, 2009 Tuesday:
The temperature this morning was the same as yesterday but snow was falling. It was wet snow that won’t last. Marcia and I had been planning a shopping expedition and almost did not go but then the snow stopped. We went to Farmington and saw Mitra briefly. I was able to give her back some milk jars and she told me about successfully giving the follow up shots to her young pig. The pig was sick on Sunday and Dr. Cooper came to treat it. He gave it an antibiotic and Banamine and now it is frisky again. Hurrah! These are valuable pigs. But Mitra had a sad tale of a massacre of all but one of seven new chicks. She can’t be sure of what did it but circumstantial evidence points to some disagreeable older birds.
While in Farmington I went to Reny’s Department Store, a wonderful old fashioned place, and bought myself some new winter boots. I have not had proper winter boots for ages. Every year I put off the investment until everything is sold out, and then have to suffer freezing feet.
On the way home we saw a sign for Fresh Mushrooms and did a U turn. We bought several fine looking specimens. The woman who sold them said that this is the last year they will be able to do it. The government is requiring that everyone who sells mushrooms must not only buy a license that costs several hundred dollars but also fill out paperwork describing every mushroom and exactly where it was picked. This is happening with every type of independent food sale. I am so disgusted with this government nanny-ism. They do it one item at a time so that the larger community does not notice. Recently they stopped the cookie ladies who greet every person in the armed services who passes through Bangor International Airport from handing out home made cookies. Now they may only pass out sealed store bought cookies.
October 14, 2009 Wednesday:
I started the day playing catch-up on domestic chores, then got a call that my vet would be over this way. I changed course and fixed him lunch. I had started dough last night for baguettes so made a couple of those and made a surprisingly successful soup with my collection of leftovers. I fried onions and garlic almost to the point of caramelization, chopped some fresh tomato into this and fried it a little more, then deglazed the pan with chicken stock. To this I added cooked brown rice, cooked Swiss chard and a few more random items and simmered it for a bit. Doc Cooper ate two bowls of it, and then Marcia arrived and finished it off.
After drinking tea, Marcia and I did some last minute things in the garden. This time they are serious about the frost prediction. I think it will get down to the low 20’s. I brought some of the cabbages to the house. We cut down some of the magnificent mammoth sunflowers and have laid them on the attic stairs in the carriage house. Marcia finished digging the carrots while I did the evening animal chores. We carried all the winter squash in from the carriage house and parked them on the front stairs. The cellar is too clammy for squash. We then made ourselves a dinner featuring more of the mushrooms we bought yesterday and also had ground meat patties from the new beef.
Rather than my usual evening of writing, I watched a program on PBS about Joan Baez. It was the story of her life. I learned much about her that I had not known, despite having followed her career for 50 years. Her son Gabe and my grandson Harper were playmates in grade school in Portola Valley, CA.
Jasmine is developing the plush teddy bear look, her winter coat. I am now quite satisfied with the state of her udder and increasing her grain a wee bit. I now keep hay in the feeder for her all the time. Sometimes she eats it and sometimes she prefers to graze.
October 16, 2009 Friday:
I spent Thursday getting a molar extracted, getting over it, and fixing dinner for Martin and his hunting buddies.
The dentist gave me a lot of praise for proper clotting speed and general healthiness. My bp was 182/85. My mouth doesn’t hurt but I will be lisping for quite a while.
DS Martin is spending a long weekend at his camp with two bird hunting buddies. They had stopped on the way here at a game farm and shot eight pheasants, four of which were Martin’s. He has seldom hunted until recently. One of the friends, Russ, brought along his Setter, Lexie. Martin loves having the dog along. They stopped here for supper. I baked beans Wednesday night, also made baguette dough, so these were ready for last night. I made cole slaw with the first one of our cabbages that I have used. Unfortunately because of the extraction, I couldn’t eat any slaw. It will be a while until I can chew anything crunchy.
The report from today’s hunting on wild land was Men Zero, Birds All. Martin had a good shot at a cottontail but didn’t take it. They fixed their own food tonight at camp. Chili, Martin said.
I cruised around the veg garden and picked things to add to chicken stock. I like to put in plenty of leafy things. It has not been quite as cold as predicted. I don’t think it was much below 28° but there is ice on all standing water. I don’t see the grass growing much. The daytime temperatures have not gotten about 40° for several days and the house was feeling distinctly chilly. This morning I broke down and turned on the furnace. The workmen came and finished the last of the work on the dormer and surrounding wall. So they are all done here.
Jasmine and the sheep are still finding plenty of grazing but the hens are not laying. Jasmine’s vulva is getting noticeably puffy and she is friendlier than ever. It is likely that Agnes, the ewe, is bred. She is also pretty friendly but I don’t trust the rams the least bit. They do look perfectly charming out on the pasture slope.
DD Sally called from Alaska. She lives right on the Chilcoot River in Haines. There have been plenty of salmon this year and the bears are fat. She had two close encounters yesterday. She killed a rooster and looked up to see a bear on the beach observing her from about 50 ft away. She took the bloody rooster into the house and came out with Gretchen, the dog, on her leash. Gretchen barked madly and the bear ambled off.
Later when she and her friend Judy and Gretchen were out on a mushroom walk along the river, a big sow known locally as Speedy for her habit of chasing things was coming down the road towards them closely followed by an impatient motorist. They ran out onto the fish weir until both passed.
October 18, 2009 Sunday:
I spent considerable time on my article about the role of cows in greenhouse gas production. I can tell you this much right now: dontworryaboutit.
I was able to make another picking of salad greens (mesclun) to take to Marcia’s for our dinner with Max, Mitra and girls. Mitra brought a phenomenal eggplant chorizo lasagna and Marcia made a cheesecake. It was a fine fall day.
Today, Sunday, Martin and one hunting friend, Osbjorn, came here to the farm and worked for a couple of hours. There is no hunting on Sunday in Maine. Russ and his dog, Lexie, left early this morning for the long drive back to Pennsylvania. Their hunting yesterday was a great success, eight birds, but they had to quit an hour early because Lexie got whapped by a porcupine. A good thing that Martin was carrying his Leatherman tool. All three men lay on top of Lexie while Martin pulled quills, or so it was described to me. I am having trouble picturing this. It was pretty awful but at least there was no delay in treatment.
Using the Kubota, today Martin spread and smoothed the great pile of sand that was delivered here a couple of weeks ago. Now the driveway is much improved and that mountain of sand is gone. Martin also rebuilt with sand the ramp in the beefer pen. Now Jasmine will not have to step over a huge beam that makes the doorsill. Her udder is not especially droopy but will soon be making up. It is truly awful when they step on a teat.
I made some successful mushroom soup for Marcia’s and my supper using the sautéed mushrooms left over from last Wednesday. I was able to add some lovely cream that Mitra brought yesterday. How do people get along without cream?
October 19, 2009 Monday:
We had beautiful fall weather today. I took a brief walk on DD Sally’s field across the river. I should have brought a leash for Willie. It was hard to keep him in sight. I finally used my jacket with one sleeve run through his collar. Every time I call him he stops and looks at me, then at Bagel, to see if Bagel has a better offer. I know terriers are block headed, but really! I suppose I am not very good at dog training. I truly hate yelling which is what I have to do in emergencies. Bagel is now deaf as a doorknob. If I yell loud enough he hears me and comes and then Willie comes running as though that is what he intended all along.
It is beautiful along the river. A majority of the leaves have fallen in golden heaps and the running river is a sound of which I never tire. The Aunt Hannah Brook was the background of my childhood to age five.
I picked a checkerberry leaf to chew and remembered that Martin told me that on Saturday when he cleaned his partridge he found the crop crammed with those leaves. I know that many leaves are as high as 22% protein but still I would have supposed that partridges would be stuffing themselves with berries.
Jasmine is hungrier than ever nowadays. I am giving her about 5 lb/day of 16% sweet feed. I will switch to COB (corn oats barley) when I am able to get some again.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009:
DD Marcia and I took an expedition over to White Water Farm in New Sharon where we picked up feed for me and Mitra. We also bought other food including butter (I can never produce all we need), pork sausage, Bell peppers, onions and 50 lbs of potatoes and chai ginger flavored gelato. Everything Russ sells is locally grown.
We then delivered Mitra’s grain to her and she fed us a delicious lunch that she had not planned for. It was cold roast chicken with a sauce composed of mayo mixed with pesto made from garlic scapes. She had bought the pesto from Amy LeBlanc, the heirloom tomato lady who also grows a lot of garlic. We shared the gelato.
To encourage large heads of garlic you need to go along and snip out the attractively curled blossoming stems or scapes. These can be pickled like dilly beans or put in stir fries. I had not previously known them to be made in pesto but it was so good that I shall probably do that with all of mine next year. One need only pulverize ones chosen herb in the blender or food processor and add olive oil. I make various kinds and put it into Ziplock bags which I store in the freezer. I can then break off what I want any time. Mitra sent us off with milk and cream.
On the way home we stopped again at the mushroom place and renewed our supply.
I got another good look at Helen and Nellie and little Bo Diddley. They were lying down chewing their cuds in the little pasture. Bo was snuggled up by Nellie. Mitra and Max have a nice tidy farmette. We did not get all the way out to visit Sophie and her four-month-old piglets.
October 21, 2009 Wednesday:
I had been thinking that Jasmine was a bit slow to show signs of imminent calving but today there was a notable change. There is a definite firming up of her udder. I noticed her puffy vulva from quite a distance. She always notices when I am in the garden and comes over to the fence. I usually throw comfrey over for her but the frost has knocked it down pretty badly. Today I cut off some sunflower heads for her and a few sugar beets. She loved these.
There are still plenty of vegetables in the garden.
My chickens are not laying. Some days I get no eggs. Any day I get three now I feel like crowing.
October 22, 2009 Thursday:
Today Jasmine is looking significantly more ready. She’s moving right along now. I know some people believe that a shorter dry period is associated with a lower risk of milk fever. I do hope this is true for Jasmine. I do dread having her ill.
I made a very nice meatloaf for Marcia and me with half ground beef and half pork sausage from Whitewater Farm. I served it with lots of sautéed wild mushrooms. I forget what these mushrooms were called. They looked like portabellas but bigger and meatier.
At evening chore time when I called the sheep I got no answer. Neither was Jasmine in the barn waiting for me as usual. I could not see them anywhere. I walked down into the veg garden for a better view of the South Field and spotted Jasmine over in the far corner near the bridge. She saw me and came my way. Then I saw the sheep leaping over the fence one after the other as sheep do. I don’t know if they have been hopping the fence there regularly or if this was the first time. I would not have known of it at all except that this time I was present to see them. They had been over on the river bank. My work is cut out for me tomorrow. It really is a charming sight to see them bounding along. I guess the sound of the river must have prevented them from hearing me call as they always come running at top speed. I will be able to see from the fence wire if they have been jumping regularly as they always leave wool behind.
October 23, 2009 Friday:
I got a huge surprise this morning. When I took Jasmine her grain instead of making a dive for it she remained standing still on the far side of the hay feeder. I walked around and there standing next to her was a tiny damp wobbly calf. Further surprise: it’s a heifer. The last heifer born here was Helen’s Emily and she just had her third calf for Cara (MooMaine). The calf did not act especially hungry. Jasmine’s udder was far from engorged and it was difficult to even get out a squirt but I got a couple onto the calf’s nose which caused a happy leap but no organized response.
Last night when I checked Jasmine her vulva was a lot puffier but nothing like they often get. Her tailhead was looser but not floppy. Her udder was heavier but far from tight. There was no slime. I figured I could revise my Monday prediction that she would probably go to a later breeding date and say she might be ready by the date Mitra estimated which was the 29th.
This morning with the calf on the ground there was still no slime and just a smudge of blood on her hock. No sign of afterbirth.
Jasmine gobbled her grain after I brought it around to her. I then brought her a bucket of water with molasses in it, all of which she drank. I shut her into the beefer pen so that the sheep would not be able to get to her and harass her. I have been opening up North Field for her at night after the sheep are confined but for some reason I did not do that last night. Had I opened it, chances are good that she would have gone far out of sight to calve.
I then went in and called DD Marcia. She got here about 9am and helped me much of the day. I spread some of my older hay all over the beefer pen so that wherever the calf lay down would be clean. Marcia worked on getting the calf to suck which it soon was doing with a will. It went around to all four teats. As the hours passed, Jasmine’s udder began to swell but as of 6pm was still not really engorged. We found a small puddle of afterbirth out there on a late morning check. Jasmine now has a water tub and lots of good hay. Marcia and I cut the strings off of one of my round bales that are stored in the carriage house and piled the big plastic sled full of hay for her. This is excellent hay and she gobbled it. She got three sled loads of hay today and drank 3 ½ buckets of molasses water. Marcia cut a tub of comfrey for her of which she ate every leaf. Marcia cut a second tub which I am saving for morning. I checked Jasmine’s ears every hour. Twice they were coolish but then got warm again.
I have named the calf Fern. She is very small, I doubt more than 35 pounds. She got up from napping several times today to nurse. I have left the light on as a precaution against Jasmine stepping on her in the event she gets milk fever in the night. I will go out again shortly for a late check. (9pm and all’s well. Jasmine finished off her molasses water making 4 buckets for the day)
The behavior of the sheep today was odd. They did not want to leave the barnyard. At first I thought they were curious about the calf but I think I was anthropomorphisizing. I think the real reason they hung around close all day was that they did not want to go out without their cow. They always graze well within sight of Jasmine. They did a lot of blatting before finally moving off about 50 yards to graze. Every little while they came back into their paddock and stood there going baa-a-a.
DS John called from Adelaide. He offered congratulations on the calf and told me what Tommy wants for his 19th birthday. John expected he would ask for an electronic device but what he wants is a small pony. His older brother Jack has sold his horse so now Tommy’s horse has no companion. Tommy wants the pony for his horse – sorry, I forget his horse’s name. Jack and Mayumi are driving Tommy out today to see his horse which is at the farm where his mother lives. Tommy has a folding wheelchair that goes into the car. It is now Saturday in Adelaide.
October 24, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine was so alert last evening that I left her to her privacy from 10pm last night to 6am today. She was just as lively this morning. I gave her some more good hay and her tub of comfrey. DD Marcia came down after breakfast and helped me get Jasmine into her stanchion. It was really no trouble because I had made of point of leaving Willie in the house and Marcia left her Chihuahuas in her car. So Jasmine was willing to leave fern alone in the beefer pen while I hand milked a half gallon of colostrum. Fern had drunk most all from the left rear quarter.
It rained last night and all day virtually without stopping. At times it came down in buckets. The sheep decided they could graze by themselves today. They went down near the river. The rain bothers them very little. They came in looking much whiter but sad to say, they have quite a lot of horrid cockleburs. Poor Sally is in for a job getting those out of the fleece. She has in mind making a wool mattress cover. One would not like cockleburs under one’s sheets. Maybe she will change her mind and weave a rug.
I roasted a big piece of fresh ham that Mitra supplied me with last week. I drizzled it with a mixture of marmalade and balsamic glaze with a few spices and I gave it the long slow treatment in the Aga. I also roasted a mixture of home grown carrots and rutabagas separately but with dripping from the roast. Marcia picked the last of her collards which I cooked with onion and chicken stock. First I sautéed the onion, then added the collards from which I had removed the coarse central rib. I covered them with chicken stock and simmered them until tender. Marcia made brown rice cooked in chicken stock. I started most of this cooking here at the farm and finished it at Marcia’s place. Max and Mitra and the girls joined us about 1:30. The rain continued to pound down all day.
I was alone here for evening chores. This would have gone just fine except I should have left Willie in the house again. I got Jasmine half way into where her stanchion is, which meant leaving Fern alone, and she went racing back and refused to leave her. Then I saw Willie peeking out from under something. Oh no. Of course she knew he was there. I roused him out of the barn – he knew very well he was not supposed to be there – but it took me about 10 minutes of coaxing and tempting her with sweet feed before Jasmine decided it was safe to leave Fern alone. Once in her stanchion she behaved perfectly. Fern had nursed from both left quarters and I did not bother trying to get much more out of them. The right rear which has a small teat was untouched. I got close to a gallon of colostrum.
As an experiment, I tried heating some of the colostrum from the first milking which was this morning. Not to my surprise, it was not strong enough to cook up like scrambled eggs although it did thicken. This will be because of Jasmine’s short dry period. Later when it cooled it had a lovely custard consistency. Tomorrow I will make Marcia a beestings pudding. She is particularly fond of it. All one needs to do is add a little sugar and perhaps vanilla or cardamom and bake it. In this case I think I will try just stirring over heat instead.
October 25, 2009 Sunday:
I took Jasmine a big serving of hay (pulled in the sled) at 6am while it was still dark. She had eaten all that I brought her last night. I went out at 7am with my bucket. She flatly would not leave Fern. After a number of minutes of fruitless circling with me wheedling, Fern got to her feet and began trotting around. I was easily able to steer her into my milking area and of course Jasmine followed. She pooped three times and peed gallons but was otherwise quiet and orderly. She could see Fern. It took me 40 minutes and I got something over a gallon.
The sheep got up their nerve to go out alone and graze for awhile but they still did a lot of blatting.
The rain has stopped and we had a bit of sun.
DD Marcia came down with a load of her things. I made lunch with yesterday’s leftovers, creamed mushrooms on rice. I also made stovetop stirred custard with the first colostrum and raspberry sauce to accompany it.
This evening Jasmine came right in leaving Fern napping. It again took me 40 minutes to milk and I got 5 quarts. Most of what I am getting is from the quarters on Jasmine’s right. She did not let down really well. When I let Jasmine back out Fern went straight to her and found the left rear teat that she obviously prefers.
I took three sled loads of hay to Jasmine. She finishes it all.
October 26, 2009 Monday:
We had very fine weather today. The sky was blue and cloudless but I think the temperature did not rise about 45F.
I took Jasmine a load of hay at 6 am and went out to milk at 7:30. I got something over a gallon. She has a lot more but we are both at our limit at that point, she of her patience and I of my strength.
I wnet back out later and offered Jasmine the opportunity to go out and graze without Fern, whom I put on a dog leash.. I stood around about 15 minutes while she pooped indecisively and tried to make up her mind. I pointed out that there would not be many more fine days and promised to take good care of Fern but in the end she just couldn’t leave. Maybe tomorrow. The sheep go out to graze but every little while they come back up near the house and baa–a until I talk to them. After they hear my voice they dawdle about for a few minutes and then return to grazing.
Marcia came down and helped me out with hauling out hay, carrying in wood and barn cleaning.
Jasmine’s production is starting to get ahead of me and Fern. Fern has switched her preference to the front teats leaving me with the teensy back ones. Oh darn it. The transition from colostrum to milk is well advanced.
Fern is a spunky little thing, lively and willful. She takes a lot of long naps between meals. She is still all bones but has lost the caved-in look with which calves are born. She runs over and finds a teat whenever she is hungry and drinks just the right amount, never too much. Jasmine stops whatever she is doing and stands perfectly still for her
October 27, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine was friendly and cooperative this morning as usual but did not let down well. I only got 1 gallon. About 10am I got a call from Mitra that her new machine had arrived right on schedule complete with vacuum pump so Marcia and I took a drive over to her house. When we got there she was busy setting it up with guidance by phone from Willie, Bissie and Bessie on the forum. It is a beautiful machine. Mitra called this evening with the good news that she milked Nellie with it and got the usual amount. She also announced that Max is racing home from his job in MA a little early to help out. (I have a honeydo list of my own for him.)
Marcia and I took a look at the cows. They look great. Bo Diddley is a fine looking calf in every way. We then raced around Farmington doing errands. Marcia picked out paint for the fresh wallboard area around the new dormer in the room she will be occupying this winter.
When I let Jasmine in this evening for milking Fern trotted along. I tied her next to her mother but she immediately got tangles and flopped down so I let her wander about. This of course was distracting to Jasmine plus I think she was just getting happy with hand milking and we all know how little cows like change. I only got 1 ½ gallons. She resisted letting down. I will be dealing with that now for a few days or possibly months.
For supper I made myself a delicious chowder with Alaskan canned salmon, potatoes, onions, milk and cream. This was very restorative.
October 29, 2009 Thursday:
I let them out today and Jasmine and Fern went and stood in the sunny barnyard. The sheep saw them and raced up to mill around which infuriated Jasmine. She butted them as fast as she could. If she had had horns a couple of them would have been over the fence. In a few minutes she took Fern back inside and they never did get out into the pasture.
DD Marcia spent the day painting her new room and rearranging furniture. DS Max came over and did lots of things for me. He put the spike on the tractor and delivered the already opened round bale out to the feeder in the beefer pen. No more sled loads of hay for a while. He mounted my vacuum pump and he put up clotheslines in the loft of the carriage house. I needed to get the lines out of the room into which Marcia will be moving. I fed him a lentil stew with lots of vegetables and meat.
Last evening and again tonight I made butter with Mitra’s cream from Nellie. She does not have time to do it right now. Tonight from three quarts of cream I got almost 2 lbs of butter. I will be able to give it to her on Saturday if, as hoped, they come over for roast duck.
October 30, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine is not kicking but she absolutely is not letting down for the machine any batter than she was when I milked her by hand. Wednesday and Thursday I got only slightly over a gallon at each milking. Last night I put Fern in the box stall. Jasmine did a bit of mooing then was quiet until daybreak. This morning I got two full gallons. Thus encouraged, I let Fern out to spend the day with her mom. I stuck her back in tonight because this evening Jas gave only ½ gallon. I poured it into a bottle which I will give to Fern for breakfast. She flailed at me viciously with her tail. I tied it with a string. They will have to stay separated until Jas becomes more cooperative.
Marcia worked all day on painting her room and arranging furniture. Between us we got one of her overstuffed chairs up the stairs and into her room.
My spring water line has quit running. It comes to the house from 5/8 of a mile away There is a stretch of pipe along the river that is exposed. Probably a moose walked through it.
October 31, 2009 Saturday:
I took a bottle to the barn for Fern this morning and succeeded after only about ten minutes of dodging around to get her to take it. Of course hunger was a motivation for her. My motivation was to have her be quiet while I milked Jasmine. Jasmine did let down pretty well. She gave 2 ½ gallons. I put fern back out with her for the day. She still will not go out to graze. She does not want to leave Fern and she does not want her to have any commerce with the sheep.
The milk now is perfect, no further hint of colostrum. I made 2 lbs of butter again today.
The weather is odd. It got up to about 60° and the sky was black and threatening. Then a big wind came up and it started to rain hard about 8pm. Fortunately it held off until the Trick or Treat visitors had all come. I get very few.
Once again this evening Jasmine gave very little, about 3 quarts. I have separated Fern again.
I simmered one of the Luick chickens to make a dish DS John described on the phone from Adelaide. It is called Hainanese chicken rice. You cook the rice in chicken broth and serve it on a soup plate with skinless chicken and some cooked greens. It is suppose to be flavored with lemon grass which I don’t have. I used French sorrel and a couple of tiny limes. I was able to pick a nice selection of greens in the late garden, arugula, chard, tatsoi and endive.
November 01, 2009 Sunday:
Fern drank only one quart from her bottle this morning. Nothing was wrong with her. She was holding out for mama, I would say. After various encouragements such as brushing and tummy rubs, Jasmine let down pretty well. She gave almost 3 gallons. Fern and she spent the day together but Jasmine still did not try again to take her outside even though we had a number of periods of sunshine. Jasmine gave ¾ gallon tonight. They are separated again but are getting used to it. Each gave just one little moo. There is a tiny low window in Fern’s stall through which they can see each other and touch noses. Fern is growing very fast.
Max came over again today especially to fix my spring line and to pick up clabber. Actually it is skimmed colostrum which is highly resistant to clabbering so is not thickened.
After feeding him a lunch of lots of Hainanese chicken rice leftovers and fresh pumpkin yeast rolls with crabapple and highbush cranberry jelly, Max set out to find the reason that my spring water is not running. He and Roshan (11) checked out the line at the river and brook and found no leak. Then he attempted to back flush the line by attaching the garden hose to the high pressure water line from my drilled well and was not able to drive any water through the system. I suggested he go have a look at the spring itself. It starts with a rock lined well on a hillside 5/8 mile away on property owned by neighbor Elwin Brown. You can drive most of the way. They found the head of a dead moose sticking out of the well. Max told Elwin about it and Elwin offered to pull it out with his skidder. Max came back here for our chain so that is when I heard about it. My first thought was “We’ve been drinking that water!” Later I began thinking ‘Poor moose.” It was a cow moose.
Next time Max came back it was to get a gallon of bleach to put into the water. Roshan reported that the moose was stinky but thank goodness not so rotted as to fall apart. None of us have gotten sick nor even noticed anything funny about the water. I guess this was a clean living Maine woodland moose. Max plans to come back tomorrow and set up Marcia’s sump pump and trash pump the well, powering the pump with a converter that plugs into the car.
After this story I am not sure if anybody cares to hear about the outstanding dinner that Marcia made for us this evening but I can’t fail to mention the wild mushrooms in cream gravy. We had chicken of the woods, shiitake and some other big solid thing similar to Portobello, all purchased last week at our new found mushroom barn. I baked a small buttercup squash and that too was a treat. I also baked a quince from a box that my sister Barby sent from California. Baked quince cut in half and baked cut side down in a little puddle of butter and brown sugar with a pinch of cinnamon is truly a fine thing. It is best served with a little cream or vanilla ice cream.
Marcia has now moved in with me for the winter. She has potted up and brought here a great many ornamental plants, probably 50 pots, and has them on staging around her room under grow lights. There are several little citrus trees that she had last winter in Florida. It is a regular Garden of Eden and smells lovely.
November 02, 2009 Monday:
It was down to 22° this morning with white frost but soon it grew bright and sunny. Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons. I only took Fern one quart in her bottle because yesterday that is all she took. This morning I could tell she would have taken more but one quart was enough to keep her happy until I turned her out with her mom. Today for the first time Jasmine and Fern went outside and stayed out. I have a feeling that Fern led the way. They were both down in the sheep paddock. The sheep were not at home and Fern was dashing around exploring. The sheep returned but soon got tired of being butted by Jasmine and retired to their own run-in under the carriage house. Jasmine deliberately went over and drank their water. I guess that showed them.
Max arrived with a rented pump and pumped out my well twice. He said it recharged quickly. I knew he was going to climb down into the well which caused me to worry when he was slow to return home. He arrived back here at the house just as I got my coat on to go look for him. He explained that he was late because he and neighbor Elwin walked all the way down to the brook again in hopes of discovering why the water was still not flowing through the line. Elwin walks very slowly because of his quadruple bypass. But Max was glad for the opportunity to hear Elwin’s accounts of times past.
Marcia and I cooked a piece of pork shoulder with the last of my sauerkraut. Marcia also made a beautiful tarte Tatin.
November 04, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine is giving me about 3 ½ gallons/day or a little more. Fern is with her all day and separated at night. I giver her a warm bottle first thing in the morning before I milk Jasmine so that she doesn’t bawl. She is good about taking it although still a little inefficient. I assume she drinks another gallon during the day as she always comes in looking round and two of Jasmine’s quarters have been sucked. Jasmine has unlimited hay of good quality but chooses not to go out to graze. At each milking she gets a mixture of COB and beet pulp, about 8 lbs total but I have not weighed it. If I run out, I pick up a bag of Blue Seal Coarse 16 dairy feed. I top dress her feed with a handful each of DT (diatomaceous earth) and kelp and a glug of ACV (apple cider vinegar). She looks in good condition except I need to get her feet trimmed.
Yesterday Marcia drove me to Lewiston to my dermatologist. She found a couple of spots on my face that she said were cancer and froze them both. She also took off a black spot for biopsy. Back home I put comfrey oil and vitamin E on these spots and today put macerated comfrey leaves. The doctor said the two frozen spots would blister but so far they have not.
Today I finally got my tulip bulbs planted. Every day is colder and soon the ground will freeze. I picked Brussels sprouts and dug some parsnips for our dinner.
On our way home yesterday we stopped at Home Depot and Marcia bought a length of carpeting for the back stairs up to her room. Today she very cleverly laid the carpet including cutting it to go around a right angle turn. It looks very good.
DS John in Adelaide continues to monitor my health following my ingestion of moose juice. Today he wrote:
How’s your health? I thought of a few more diseases you might have from the cow moose. But for what it’s worth, I heard on the radio today that 300 households in Adelaide were studied, all of whom drank water from their rainwater tank, and their level of gastroenteritis was no higher than the pop as a whole. While very few if any are likely to have a dead cow moose in them, all would have heaps of birdshit, spider poop, and small dead microscopic animals. Microbes aplenty.
Tommy tells me that they have put him on Lexapro (the one you sent the Sci News article about two weeks ago). There was no fanfare; just a new pill on his tray this morning. So there you go – influencing treatment of spinal cord patients as far away as Adelaide!
So far I am healthy although for a day or so I thought my stomach might be complaining gently, just that gurgley feeling where you wonder if you should eat something but know you could not really be hungry, so have tea.
I had directed John’s attention to an article that emerged from an SCI meeting in Chicago (Spinal Cord Injury) and he called Tommy’s doctor to ask him to consider the medication mentioned.
November 05, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine is doing fine. Her production is rising a bit, perhaps just because she is letting down better. She is past the raging hormonal stage. This evening was the first time she neither pooped nor peed while in the stanchion. At first I was leaping up and down two or three times at each milking, scraping with the shovel and throwing down more shavings.
This afternoon she pretty well finished off the round bale of high grade hay. I threw down half of a square bale tonight. It will be interesting so see how her production tomorrow is affected.
November 06, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine’s production was down today by about 2 quarts. It could have been the poor hay, which she did eat, but other factors might be to blame. She was quite annoyed with me this evening because Fern managed to slither past me and trail her all the way into her stanchion. I removed her effortlessly but Jasmine wanted her to stay and raised her tail during milking in every possible way. I have her piled up with good hay tonight.
Marcia has been working on a list of things designed to ease us into (and through) winter more graciously. She has arranged for an electrician to improve our lighting in the carriage house and buttery. She is also arranging for combination windows to be added around the kitchen. There was snow on the ground this morning. It melted but the temperature did not get as high as 40°. She has finished the painting in her room and has her furniture all arranged and work areas set up for batik. She and I both are complaining that we are not accomplishing enough. I suggested that tomorrow if weather permits, we take a tiring walk among the fallen leaves and see if we can refocus our minds.
DIL Mitra’s folks arrived today from California. They will be with us through November. November is not the most charming month in Maine but we will do our best to make them happy.
Max reports that he and his friend Tim Pulk got together today and built new quarters for Sophie the sow.
November 07, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine is holding steady at 3 ½ gallons a day plus whatever Fern is taking. Both have excellent appetites but Jasmine still just stays inside with Fern eating hay. I am giving her the good hay in the morning and evening and the not-so-good hay for lunch. DS Mark called this morning to say that he and Annie and Hailey would be up for dinner and overnight. I got out some pheasants that DS Martin’s friend Russ had given me.
Steve Pulk worked here all day replacing cracked window panes. I had a surprising number of them, some of which I have been living with for several years. It was cold work but he never stopped. What a treat to have them all replaced.
Marcia worked up at camp for a couple of hours finishing up her winterizing. I worked on dinner preparations. I picked the last of the Brussels sprouts and a couple of rutabagas. These I cut up small for a braised veg dish that is always a hit. I made a brown rice pilaf using chicken stock. The pheasant I stuffed with a spoonful of sausage and a quarter of an apple, then drizzled them with melted butter. I put a few ounces of Madeira in the pan and roasted them in the hot oven for about 35 minutes. I was quite amazed at how well they turned out. They were moist and tender. I have seldom cooked pheasant but mostly they have been pretty dry. I suppose these must have been nice young birds, plus I added lots of butter. The Joy of Cooking said that it is important not to overcook them so I was careful about that. I turned them breast side down for the last 10 minutes.
I don’t believe I mentioned this before, but a couple of weeks ago all of my barn cats died within less than a week apparently of some cat plague. I was very much grieved even though none were actually pettable. Several had been my barn buddies for many years and I fed them twice daily but none had ever had shots. Only one of my cats had had shots and that was Stanley who had been given to a good home when quite young. They had gotten him all his shots but then returned him to me because of an apparently incurable and pretty disgusting sinus condition. He lived outside the kitchen in the buttery. He did not become ill but yesterday he too disappeared.
November 08, 2009 Sunday:
Today dawned bright and beautiful. Mark and Annie took an early hike up Center Hill before breakfast. When they got home I fed them blueberry pancakes using buttermilk and whole wheat pastry flour. They then had to return to Portland to catch up on the paperwork for their large patient load. We hope to see them again soon. Hailey is getting very tall. She is now a high school junior, so hard to believe. She is taking seven heavy duty courses all advanced placement including chemistry, physics, calculus, French, anatomy, history and I can’t remember what else, some kind of English course I think. She went for a 45 minute run while here. Bagel was told to stay home but sailed over the fence and ran along causing Willie great frustration.
This afternoon Marcia and I drove over to Max and Mitra’s house. It is Shireen’s birthday. She was looking very fine in a winter weight red blazer from LLBean. It was good to see Mitra’s folks, Marie and Alex, who are visiting from California. After some delicious cheesecake made with Mitra’s home made sour cream, we got a grand tour of the barnyard. Max and Tim built a sturdy pig house for Sophie and Max has created a new pen for her to separate her from her three offspring, now five months old. They are a fine looking group but Sophie is shouldering them out of the way at the feed trough and they need to grow on fast now. I contributed 5 gallons of skim today. Sophie is very good natured in general.
Back home at the farm, we were thrilled to see that Stanley had returned! He had finished off the bowl of cream I left on the shelf for him and emerged to greet us.
Jasmine gave almost 4 gallons today.
Mark tells me I posted my bp as 180. Actually I think it was 120. Sorry. Anyway, next time he visits he plans to bring his cuff. Then I’ll get my facts straight.
November 09, 2009 Monday:
Today was unseasonably warm and balmy. Jasmine took Fern outside for a couple of hours. I opened the gate so that she and the sheep could graze the north field but none of them noticed their opportunity. Jasmine probably did notice and decided against it. Cows always notice an open gate.
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning but after a day with Fern she gave only ½ gallon. I may go OAD tomorrow depending on her udder. This is unusually early in her lactation to start OAD but she will not be giving such floods of milk this time due to her short dry period.
We are starting to give the sheep some hay.
November 10, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning.
The weather was warm and balmy, more like September. Marcia drove me to the dermatologist. The doc further freeze sprayed one of the spots she has done last week. This one had tested positive for actinal keratosis. It is on my forehead so will not show very much.
Afterwards I bought lunch for Marcia at Nezinscott Farm, Gloria Varney’s marvelous store. We each had one of her burgers. She serves their farm raised ground beef on home made bread. She has an innovative way of creating the “bun”. She cuts out a big circle with a 4” cookie cutter.
Gloria now has a cheese making room and offers a great many types of cheese. I felt quite inspired. Currently I am just skimming my extra milk for butter making and saving the skim for Max and Mitra’s livestock.
When we got home I saw Jasmine out in the pasture (not very far out) grazing with Fern prancing around. I was pleased to see this because I want Fern to have some grazing experience before it snows. She already eats hay.
I went down and picked a basket of braising greens for our supper. These were mostly from our bed of mesclun. It was one of Johnny’s Selected Seed mixes. We really like it and wish we could remember which one it was. Right now the endive and Tatsoi in it are thriving.
When I brought Jasmine in for her supper and felt her udder I decided I could risk OAD. She seemed to understand immediately that she was not going to be milked. She ate her grain and left. She has been letting down a lot better in the morning than in the evening.
November 12, 2009 Thursday:
Wednesday morning Jasmine gave 3 gallons of milk and her udder was not in trouble. Last night I again did not milk but in addition, left Fern with her. This morning I only got 2 gallons of milk. Both of her left quarters were well sucked. Jasmine was slightly resistant to letting down so I did not get quite all of the milk. This evening it was evident that Fern had again sucked only on the left. I doubt she has taken any milk at all from Jasmine’s right side quarters. Quite a lot of milk had built up. I may have been unwise not to milk her this evening. If left side let down is a problem again tomorrow morning I will separate Fern at night again. Then on Saturday morning when Fern is very hungry I can make her take the right side and Jasmine will let down properly.
Marcia and I visited Mitra and family today in New Sharon and took her 7 gallons of skim. Both of her parents had colds and Roshan was home sick. Happily, none of them was very sick. Mitra gave us good chicken salad sandwiches. She showed me a big bowl of lovely butter balls she had made. She has a new milk customer who came for a gallon of milk and ended up taking 2 gallons and 2 dozen eggs and bought two of her wonderful chickens. The man is a WAPF member.
The sheep are getting even pushier. This morning Jasmine was quite frantic trying to shove them out of the way around the hay feeder. They tried hard to accompany her through the door when I brought her in for milking. Marcia is going to change the morning schedule so they stay in their paddock longer.
November 13, 2009 Friday:
As I feared was going to happen, Jasmine has a slight case of mastitis in her right rear quarter, the one that Fern seldom touches. This morning she was resistant to letting down in that quarter. I rubbed the upper back portion with an analgesic liniment, all that I had handy. I brought her in this evening for a second milking. There is no comfrey now, it is all frozen, but I top dressed her grain with vitamin C and CLO both of which seemed helpful in the past. The quarter is not touchy and let down a lot better tonight. I got a gallon even though Fern had recently fed. I left Fern with her overnight.
We opened the gate today to the north field and the whole troop had a fine time trying out new pasture, late season though it is. Fern pranced around looking sweet. She is wearing an orange scarf or she would be nearly invisible. She is the same color as the tall grass. The sheep wanted to graze right by Jasmine’s nose. Every time one got close enough she gave it a broadside with her head.
Marcia arranged for electricians to come and wire the carriage house. They worked hard all day and now we have a convenient series of lights. The carriage house has been completed for several months but wiring was not in the contract. We have been getting along with a bare minimum. It is dark now by 4:30 and I have been relying on my headlamp a lot. The lighting is wonderful.
DS Martin and DIL Amy and little Hannah and Henry, 3 ½ and 1 ½, stopped in this evening on their way to camp. We all had applesauce and cream. Everyone is coming here tomorrow for a duck dinner. I defrosted two 5 lb ducks but after everybody left or went to bed I began studying Julia Child and Shannon Hayes and decided two won’t be enough. I am defrosting a third.
November 14, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine’s mastitis was a little bit better this morning but the milk still tasted salty. She let down pretty well. She gave two gallons and a bit. This evening I milked again and got a gallon. Fern is with her for the night again. The milk from the affected quarter was less salty but not perfect in flavor. Unfortunately I unthinkingly turned her loose without applying the lard cayenne rub that I like to use. She did get more CLO and vitamin C and a lot of apple parings.
It rained all day. The temp was around 40°. Aren’t we glad it was not snow!
The sheep squeezed under their gate and headed straight for the paddock garden. The electric fence around it did not slow them down at all. They had a lovely day eating old corn and clover. Fortunately they had no interest in further exploration and prefer to return to their run-in to chew their cuds.
DD Marcia and I hosted dinner this afternoon for 11 counting ourselves but not counting the toddlers. Max and Mitra and the lovely girls and Mitra’s parents, DS Martin and DIL Amy and little Hannah and Henry, and DS (Dr.) Mark. Little Hannah and Henry are perfect dinner guests, a real joy. They eat as fast as they can of everything on their plates, interspersing cute remarks. I roasted three of our home reared ducks. These were a huge hit. I used Julia Child’s method in The Way to Cook which involves first steaming for 30 minutes, then braising with chopped vegetables for 30 minutes, then dry roasting on a rack until crispy and fully cooked. It takes a lot of pans and counter space to be shifting the ducks back and forth but I ended up with properly roasted ducks, no scorched pans of burned fat, just lovely pan juice from which I made a reduction that I served in sauce boats. I now have a quart of lovely duck fat for months of cooking. Another time I will likely try the Shannon Hayes recipe. Her method is similar but her recipe is for an Asian style duck with tamari, so the fat will be flavored. I wanted clear fat.
For starters, Mitra brought goat cheese, tomatoes and basil, the classic Iranian treat.
Along with the duck we had a lovely spinach salad with pears made by Amy and her good tabouli. Mark brought marvelous bread from Portland’s Standard Baking Company. It was made with Maine grown wheat. Marcia made a skillet apple pie with oatmeal crust.
Mark took my blood pressure after dinner. It was 132/78.
November 15, 2009 Sunday:
The weather today was remarkably fine. It felt like May. The sun shone and it was 50°. Down in the veg garden I saw a bumblebee working on the late violas. The comfrey leaves are all dead but I dug up roots for Jasmine. I washed them and chopped them up. Her mastitis was scarcely evident this morning. This evening I included the chopped root with her grain. She left some of it uneaten. There was one tiny fleck on the strainer. The flavor of the milk from that quarter was drinkable but not up to her full standard.
DS Martin and DIL Amy stopped here on their way home. They said they had a fine outing in their canoe with the kids.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning and 1 this evening. I put Fern in the box stall tonight because Jas is again holding up her cream. This will also give me the opportunity to direct Fern to her right rear teat in the morning so that it gets emptied out better.
Marcia cooked dinner tonight. She made pesto and served it on fettuccine. We each had a reheated and crisped duck leg that was just as good as yesterday.
November 16, 2009 Monday:
The power went off just before milking time this morning. I called the power company number and the estimate was for a three hour outage. I had separated Fern last night so turned her in with Jasmine to help out with the milking. Marcia directed her to the troubled quarter which she otherwise never takes. All the animals had a pleasant day. It was sunny but not as warm as yesterday. The sheep grazed in the north field but Jasmine stayed in. She has been having soupy manure, perhaps because I have been giving her some beet pulp and the current bag of COB has more molasses than usual. She had no grain this morning and this evening did not poop while in her stanchion. I will cut out the beet pulp for now. She ate all of her chopped comfrey root. There were no flecks on the strainer tonight but the milk from the right rear remains salty tasting.
Grandson Tommy reports that he has a lot more sensation now and can flex his abs better. DS John, his dad, takes him home now every weekend. He has built an access ramp. He often takes Tommy to a movie or the food halls or mall.
They are having a major heat wave in Australia.
November 17, 2009 Tuesday:
It was sunny again today but the temperature did not rise above 45°. I did not see Jasmine out grazing but the sheep were busy again in the paddock area. Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning and 1 gallon this evening. The milk from her right rear quarter was not salty but was not very sweet. This evening it was further improved with no flecks on the filter morning or evening. She let down from that quarter very completely. I am now using my deLaval style machine. It helps to be able to see the milk flowing instead of just guessing. I left Jasmine and Fern together tonight and the gate open to the north field in case they want to graze at night. This is the first time I have done this, I mean left gates so that Fern may accompany Jasmine into the north field at night. It makes me a little nervous as some neighbors up that way have dogs. The sheep are shut into their small paddock every night with a run-in under the buttery.
I made butter today. I make it every second or third day. I also made lentil soup from duck stock. We had this for supper with vanilla custard.
November 19, 2009 Thursday:
Yesterday (Wednesday) was very fine. I hung laundry outdoors. Marcia carpeted the front stairs for me. They were bare varnished wood, nice, but subject to working up old nails every so often. The carpet is the same dark red that she used on the back stairs and looks very good. I am begging for a picture. Despite these satisfactions I had a hard time being cheerful because at breakfast while eating a croissant, another of my teeth broke off. This time it was a front incisor. Its loss is a severe blight upon my beauty. Fortunately Dr. Bozorgnia had an opening today right after Marcia’s preexisting appointment. I went in and got an x-ray and have another appointment tomorrow to start repair work. Marcia has kindly offered to drive me again because the work will be invasive.
After today’s appointment we raced around and did errands and did not get home until 4:30.
Milking did not go smoothly. Jasmine has messy manure lately and seemed crabby. Maybe her feet hurt. One of her toes is in great need of trimming and all of them could use it. She pooped about 6 times, most of it clearly on purpose. This morning she gave 2½ gallons and one gallon tonight. Her mastitis was undetectable except to me; I could tell a slight difference in the milk from that quarter. There was nothing on the strainer. The only specific treatment she has had for the last 3 days is the lard and cayenne rub so it must be helping. I left Fern with her tonight to cheer her up.
Marcia works with Fern while I am milking. She is tied in front of Jasmine’s stanchion where they can touch noses. Marcia is teaching her to pick up her feet and she has gotten cooperative very quickly. Marcia leads her in and out on a rope and she is becoming quite orderly already.
November 20, 2009 Friday:
I spent two hours today getting invasive dental work and my mouth is full of stitches. I did milk tonight but following instructions, I lifted nothing. Dear Marcia fixed a nice mushy dinner.
Jasmine was a good girl today. No one, not even an experienced milk taster, would notice anything wrong with her milk.
Here is a picture Max took of the poor young cow moose who drowned in my well. This was taken as she was being winched out of the well. To read the whole sad story, you need to scroll back up to the November 1st HD entry.
November 21, 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine and Fern were separated last night and Jas gave 3 gallons this morning. Fern now eats hay steadily while standing next to her mom. I left them together all day and tonight they will be together as well.
The deer have started coming into the garden. I have the electric fence turned off because there is not much left. But today I went down to pull my rutabagas and the deer had eaten the tops off and had eaten all the chard. Tonight I suppose they will eat the kale. Thank goodness they have not assaulted the fruit trees. I have a young orchard of 8 trees.
My mouth does not hurt so long as I don’t try to put in my partial. I have to eat without it so am restricted to things like oatmeal and soup. Marcia made a chocolate cake with chocolate icing that gives new meaning to the term “decadent dessert”. I was able to eat that. The cake is really for tomorrow when the Luick’s are coming over but Marcia made a little extra, a sort of giant cupcake.
This morning I made a pesto mixture that a member put on the forum. It is called:
CORIANDER CHELATION PESTO 4 cloves garlic 1/3 cup Brazil nuts (selenium) 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine) 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium) 2 cups packed fresh coriander; aka cilantro or Chinese parsley (vitamin A) 2/3 cup flaxseed oil 4 tablespoons lemon juice (vitamin C) 2 tsp dulse powder Sea salt to taste
NOTE: All seeds & nuts should be raw and not salted. Other ingredients should always be as organic as possible. I know nuts CAN be hard to digest and for that reason many other recipes recommend you soak them overnight in water before eating them. I would recommend two additional things. Take a psyllium supplement daily. It works like a broom to sweep all the bad stuff out of your body. Then, don’t assume that if a little is good a lot is better. Throwing toxins can make you very ill. Proceed with caution even in trying to detox.
Process the coriander and flaxseed oil in a blender until the coriander is chopped. Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Add a pinch to sea salt to taste and blend again. Store in dark glass jars if possible. It freezes well, so purchase coriander in season and fill enough jars to last through the year.
Coriander has been proven to chelate toxic metals from our bodies in a relatively short period of time. Combined with the benefits of the other ingredients, this recipe is a powerful tissue cleanser. Two teaspoons of this pesto daily for three weeks is purportedly enough to increase the urinary excretion of mercury, lead and aluminum, thus effectively removing these toxic metals from our bodies. We can consider doing this cleanse for three weeks at least once a year. The pesto is delicious on toast, baked potatoes, and pasta….since we are steering clear of the simple sugars though…..use it as a DIP for a personal veggie tray! (End of quoted text.)
I made it for the first time. What it will do for my innards we’ll have to wait and see but Marcia and I agreed it is delicious. I made a couple of changes. As I had not soaked the nuts, I sautéed them lightly in butter. Also I used kelp rather than dulse. The recipe made a bit over a pint.
I am sorry to say that I don’t have the name of the contributor.
November 22, 2009 Sunday:
So far as I can tell it did Jasmine no harm to have Fern overnight. She still gave two gallons. However, as I expected, she was resentful of being brought in to be milked. Cows seem to very quickly get a feeling that they would just as soon not be milked if they have their calf.
It was a beautiful day. Marcia and I had expected the Luick’s and Eskandari’s over for cake but that did not work out after all. Max came by himself and did lots of things to help out. He moved a round bale into the barn using the spike on the Kubota and ran a guy rope up into the rafters so that the bale, which was perched on top of the feeder, is not in danger of rolling over and crushing Fern. He also used the Kubota to remove the manure pile that Marcia has been building in back of the barn, re-hung a stubborn gate, and then he and Marcia walked to the river to put a fence back together. We fed him some cake and sent some home for the others.
I did not milk tonight. Jasmine’s udder was not in trouble. I have added carrots to her menu, four a day to start with. I will continue this indefinitely if I am able to get the carrots at a reasonable price. This is not horse country. Those giant bags that are available everywhere in VA are not seen around here.
My mouth is a bit better today. I am still able only to eat easy food. I sautéed some liver for dinner packaged from our last steer, Jeremiah. It was quite exceptionally good.
November 23, 2009 Monday:
I explained to Jasmine that if she would let down nicely Fern would stay with her all the time. Perhaps she understood. In any case this morning after a night with Fern she gave 3 ¼ gallons which is plenty for me. The milk was clear. I continued with OAD this evening. Marcia and I are so hoping this will continue to work out as one has so much more time to get other things done. But at the least sign of trouble I will return to TAD.
I went back to the dentist and got my stitches out. My mouth feels better but I can’t get impressions for another two weeks so will not be smiling in any photographs at Thanksgiving. No front teeth.
November 24, 2009 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave 3 gallons this morning and was very cooperative. Later I learned that my vet would be in the neighborhood and I asked him to disbud Fern. She is a month old and her horn buds are coming up fast. The poor dear was flopped out on the floor for hours. Marcia cared for her faithfully while I provided some lunch for Dr. Cooper. She made fern a pillow out of a feed bag and covered her with a horse blanket.
Also today Marcia put Xmas tree ornaments into my baby fruit trees – little cubes of Irish Spring soap in onion net bags – to deter deer. This will probably work, if she is not too late. As of Sunday the deer had not attacked the trees. The electric fence is off now and the deer noticed this right away and gobbled down the chard and rutabaga tops.
I did not skip milking this evening because of course Fern had not nursed this afternoon. Jasmine gave another 1 ½ gallons but clearly was worrying about Fern and did not let down very well. By the time we left them at 6 PM Fern was nursing. We left them closed into the barn for safety just in case Fern continues to be wobbly.
We had expected DS Martin today but it turns out he has been sick with the flu. He says he is better now and will be up here tomorrow. He wants to help Max and me to get more hay. Max has located eight more 2nd cut round bales which we will share and some year old 2nd cut square bales. He bought one of these to try on his cows and they seemed to like it so we will also get some of this. I have been pretty worried about the relative emptiness of my barn and feel better already. Anyone with animals will know the feeling.
November 25, 2009 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning.
Fern was perky but had diarrhea all over her back end and plops of it in the beefer pen where they spent the night. Marcia cleaned her up. As the day went on there was no more diarrhea, thank goodness. We poured vitamin E into the little craters on her head.
Martin arrived here about 10am. He and Max arranged to postpone picking up the hay because it was drizzling and Martin still does not feel well. He worked on wiring up his flatbed trailer that he keeps here and split wood. He also put the tiller on the Kubota and tilled the paddock garden and what a surprise he got. The two 100’ rows of potatoes that had disappeared when the garden flooded actually had some potatoes in them. The turf had merged over them to the extent that the rows could not even be identified let alone dug by hand. Of course when the tiller hit them most were sliced in half but Martin got down on his knees and filled a big wash basin with them. I cooked them for supper. Martin is staying here over night but will have to leave early tomorrow. He and DIL Amy are going to Boston to join her family including her Grandmother Mimi,104 years old.
I did not milk this evening.
November 26, 2009 Thursday:
Last night I made yeast raised pancake batter for Martin for this morning. He ate breakfast and got going about 8am. He was still not feeling well at all. I fed him a lot of vitamin D capsules. I am out of CLO, besides nobody but me is likely to gag it down. In any case, Bret says you can’t get enough D from CLO.
Jasmine and Fern were fine this morning. For perhaps the first time ever, Fern had nursed the right rear quarter. She still left me 3 ½ gallons.
Right after breakfast Marcia and I found potato digging equipment and armed like members of a peasant uprising, headed out to the potato patch to see what more we could find. We each filled another basin with (mostly broken) potatoes. We hosed them off and left them to dry for now.
All animals had the benefit of the north field until noon. By then they were all back inside chewing cud and I closed the field because Marcia and I were loading up to go to Max and Mitra’s for their special Thanksgiving dinner. They served one of their large and delicious chickens plus stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed squash, roasted root vegetables, green salad and cranberry relish. Max made one of his fine apple pies. Everyone had a wonderful time.
November 27, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning. I was late to the barn and Fern had an extra feed. Fern is back to her former friendly, frisky self now but I did not challenge her by touching her head.
It’s 9:30 now and I have just finished making the turkey stuffing for tomorrow’s dinner. It is traditional style. I save good French bread in the freezer for times like this. The stuffing includes celery, onion, apple, chestnuts, golden raisins, sage from my garden, s&p, a few other things I may have forgotten, and a couple of quarts of home made chicken stock poured on hot. Now it sits over night. I will cook it separately from the bird. I have defrosted an 18 pounder. It has a very professional appearance. It is hard to believe we raised it.
DS Bret and Grandson Harper, both in Fairbanks AK, are also busy with preparations for their joint family meal tomorrow.
This afternoon Marcia and I went to the Free Store, a thrift store sponsored by St. Theresa’s in the nearby town of Mexico. You take what you want and leave a free will offering. Marcia had never been there. She was delighted to find a brand new pair of Doc Marten shoes and an elegant red wool coat.
November 28 2009 Saturday:
Jasmine is happy and gave a bit over 2 gallons.
Max came over during the morning and he and Martin took a sheet of weather hardy plywood up to cover my spring. The line is still not running but they think it will recover eventually. There is plenty of lovely water in the spring now.
We had our turkey today. As may be imagined, I spent most of the day cooking. I had the turkey in the oven by 9:30am, unstuffed. I baked the stuffing separately. DS Martin and Amy and the kids came down here about 10am because the power went off at their camp. It was very stormy with rain and violent gusts of wind. Amy made her potato and Brussels sprouts dish and her pureed squash here, both excellent. I managed to fit in baking a couple of loaves of bread. I also made cole slaw that Marcia especially liked. It had a simple dressing of mayo, 1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce and about 3 tablespoons of reduced cider. The cider was simmered down to a syrup. This makes a delicious product useful in many ways. Everyone liked the food. We were all so happy with the turkey that we agreed that we must raise turkeys again next year. Max made an excellent pumpkin pie.
Present were Martin and family, Max and Mitra and daughters Shireen and Roshan, and Mitra’s parents Marie and Alex.
Martin and Amy and the kids stayed here overnight, their place being cold and dark. During the evening Martin set up the DVD player and attempted to get it to play the DVD that DS John sent, Food Inc. Martin lay on the floor with a flashlight and tools for a good 45 minutes attempting to get it to play but it would not. We had all hoped to see it. With some difficulty Martin got another movie to play that happened to be here, Knee Deep, a sad account of a young dairy farmer in the New Sharon area where Max and Mitra live. The movie was perfectly factual, at least it conformed to the newspaper accounts of the time. However the movie failed to convey a sense of the depth of attachment one might have for a farm and its cows capable of accounting for the matricidal conduct of the young farmer. I suspect that the director related better to those in the story who appeared to view farming as a default occupation for those ill suited to anything better.
November 29, 2009 Sunday:
The rain has stopped but it remains cold and blowy. Jasmine is well. She gave something over 2 gallons.
After breakfast Martin left for New Sharon where he picked up four round bales for Max and Mitra and four for me. He used his flatbed trailer which he keeps here at the farm. It is wonderful to have the hay but he has been sick all weekend and really should have taken it easier.
Amy played with the kids and I started a large batch of kim chee. Marcia and I spent some time in the garden. All I did was pick kale but Marcia removed the old bean poles and dug over the row. She also took a load of trash to the dump. The rest of the time she worked on her bags. They are beautifully constructed of dyed and waxed muslin and have decorative panels on the front.
November 30, 2009 Monday:
Today was pretty quiet. We are still having what I call English weather, damp with periodic drizzle and the temperature right around 32°. One can work in the garden if wearing tweeds. Marcia dug over another row and cut down the dead sunflowers. The birds have been eating them as we hoped.
Martin was feeling quite unwell during his recent visit. We were all worried about him. Mark persuaded him to see a doctor this morning. The doctor was pretty sure it was nothing serious but got a chest x-ray anyway. It showed that Martin had pneumonia. Now he is on Zithromax.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons plus a quart. Her manure is rather loose so I am discontinuing the beet pulp. Fern is growing fast. I must get out the weight tape.
Marcia made supper tonight. We agreed we wanted something super simple. She made a nice dish with frozen shrimp and leftover rice.
December 01, 2009 Tuesday:
The weather today was much the same as yesterday, damp and near freezing, but the sun showed itself a few times. Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. I don’t believe she went outside at all. She is devoted to her round bale.
Martin went off on a business trip to St. Louis today. He said he thought the Zithromax was helping which I hope is true.
Marcia worked most of the day finishing up an order for 12 bags, then photographing them, boxing them up and driving them to the UPS pickup in Dixfield.
I made whole wheat hamburger buns and ginger cookie bars with whole wheat and chopped candied ginger.
We watched the President’s speech on the war in Afghanistan. We thought he navigated the territory well but did not catch any mention of US commitment to veterans.
December 03, 2009 Thursday:
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons today, still OAD. It rained off and on all day but was surprisingly warm. The ground has not frozen yet and the temperature got up to nearly 50°. There was mist among the trees. It was altogether like a day in late April.
DD Marcia went up to her place at Weld to check on the sump pump She found water in the cellar, also many branches down because of the recent high wind. She says it feels strange to go there now after the camp has been closed for the winter. In the past she has set out for Florida after closing camp and not seen it again until late spring.
Ever since two weeks ago when she assisted with Fern’s disbudding operation she has been unwilling to let Marcia near her. She catches Fern as she goes around a corner when it is time to be tied up during milking. Marcia then handles her feet as formerly and pats her down. Today for the first time I was able to step up to her and catch her. She has definitely gotten shy.
I made us a very nice dinner tonight with stir fry, teriyaki beef and brown rice. The stir fry was napa cabbage enhanced with various little green things I found in the garden. We have some late mesclun under row cover. The lettuce component has disappeared but tatsoi and endive remain. I make the beef teriyaki by semi defrosting a round steak. It is easy to cut into slivers while still half frozen. I then marinated it in a couple of tablespoons of heavy mushroom soy sauce plus a tablespoon of regular soy sauce. I cook it in toasted sesame oil over fast heat for only about 3 minutes. For the brown rice, I use the short grain variety. In a saucepan that has a good cover I sauté ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp coriander, ½ tsp turmeric and ½ tsp salt in a couple of tablespoons of some kind of fat, usually butter or olive oil. I then add 1 cup of rice and sauté that for a couple of minutes. I then pour on 3 cups of boiling salted chicken stock and boil up the rice in this for a about a minute before putting on a tight fitting cover. I then put this in the Aga baking oven for close to an hour but it can be done at a low simmer on the stove top. It is sometimes necessary to boil off extra stock before serving. This method results in brown rice that people will actually eat on its own. I keep chicken stock on hand all the time. I freeze it in 1 quart containers that people save for me or in 1 pint glass freezer jars.
December 04, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine gave a scant 2 gallons this morning. She did not really want to let down. I easily milked out a cup for myself and one for Marcia after taking off the machine.
It was lovely again today although not as warm as yesterday. If we could have had this weather in early October it would have greatly improved the growing season.
Marcia hitched up her big horse trailer and we went to the Luick’s in New Sharon, stopping first in Farmington to do our errands. When we got to their place we found their neighbor there with his tractor spreading gravel on the track to the barn which was deep in mud. We waited with Mitra until all the gravel was spread on a plastic underlay. The plan was to back the horse trailer up near the pig pen so that Max can load their three pigs on Sunday. Marcia had to back up about 50 yards on the new gravel and then another 50 yards or so going through serious mud while making a turn and passing through two gates. She is mighty good at backing and managed to do this without buckling the trailer. The neighbor, a very large outdoorsman type with a Maine accent, said he couldn’t wait to go home and tell his buddies what he had witnessed, after which he was going out with his muzzle loader. It is black powder season now in Maine.
December 05, 2009 Saturday:
Fern is taking a lot of milk now. I got barely 2 gallons this morning, not that I need any more. This morning Fern ran outside rather than trotting in with her mother. This did not seem to bother Jasmine at all, in fact she was quieter than usual. Finally after Marcia had given up trying to tempt or drive her in, she walked in by herself and stood at her tie-up. She is now 6 weeks old.
DD Marcia went up to her camp and ran the sump pump again for half an hour or so but did not get the basement entirely dry. While she was gone I made a couple of loaves of bread with a new slack dough recipe from King Arthur flour. The recipe makes at least 3 loaves and you don’t need to make them all at once. The dough improves over several days. I used partly home ground whole wheat flour. The bread bakes in a hot oven on a pizza stone which I don’t have. I used an unglazed stoneware baking dish and a terra cotta flowerpot dish with success. Marcia found some tiles at camp that I will try next time.
Marcia did a beautiful job of putting up Christmas lights over the garage door. I am now quite inspired to rouse out the decorations.
We defrosted one of the Luick chickens and Marcia cut it up and fried it nice and crispy for dinner. Those chickens are so meaty that we will have lunches of it now for days. I trimmed up some more of the tilled over potatoes and made another napa cabbage stir fry.
DS Max reported that he has his pigs all loaded for tomorrow. He made a fenced alley from their pen to the back of the trailer. While they were exploring the new option and he was nailing up a board to prevent retreat he realized that they were all aboard and so he lifted the ramp and shut them in. It all went quietly.
About 5pm it started to snow and has not stopped. So far there is very little accumulation. We hope that it does not interfere with our plan tomorrow to drive the pigs to the abattoir.
December 06, 2009 Sunday:
We awoke this morning to beautiful new snow. The sky was blue and the sun was shining.
Marcia and I drove to Max and Mitra’s where Max had the three pigs all loaded into the trailer. She hitched up and succeeded in driving out despite mud to the axles. At one point Max had to shovel gravel under the rear wheels of the Tahoe. Max came along to navigate and unload the pigs at West Gardener Beef near Augusta. This abattoir is far superior to the one they used two years ago up in North Anson where there were rivers of blood on the ground and dead things lying about. There was no smell and everything was clean and the stalls raked and spread with sawdust. Mitra had been assured that the pigs would get water but there were clearly no arrangements whatsoever to water any animals and no one around to ask. Max had their big rubber tub along for the pigs’ use in the trailer last night (he loaded them yesterday) and had to leave it there. The pigs are a Tamworth-Duroc cross. They are a deep shiny red, definitely the handsomest pigs I have ever seen, so healthy and calm. It was very hard for both Mitra and Max to say goodbye to them but that is the way it is with livestock. I will report on the pork when I get some. It is terribly hard not to distrust others who have custody of the meat when there are so many reports of switcharoos. Other pigs were arriving as we left, none remotely to compare with the Luick pigs.
Back home, I separated Fern for the night. I got only one gallon this morning.
For supper I fixed what my Grammie used to call Glorified Leftovers.
I then spoke to my sister Barby in California. She was all alone at her second home in Inverness where she knows almost nobody and was terribly sick. She has an exhausting cough which has prevented sleeping for three nights and has not much in the house. I called her son.
December 08, 2009 Tuesday:
It was down to about 20° this morning which felt noticeably colder. Jasmine had Fern with her last night and once again gave only 1 ½ gallons.
My vet stopped by, Dr. Cooper, and I got Amoxicillin tubes for Jasmine’s mastitis. Every time it seems to be gone it creeps back. I have treated it successfully before with comfrey but there is none available now. I gave Dr. Cooper some lunch, spaghetti from last night which actually was quite good, and custard. I milked this evening and gave Jasmine her first treatment. She was perfectly cooperative. I will have to discard the milk now until Friday evening.
Marcia continues to work hard on her bags. They are very beautiful. She has plenty of orders but each bag is a lot of work.
All of Maine is under a storm watch. We may get a foot of snow. Down at the coast they are told to prepare for 50mph winds. Marcia has filled a secondary water tub for Jasmine and several jugs for us in the house in case we lose power. We still have a little snow on the ground from the other day.
I have called Barby several times. She has remained at her place in Inverness and is a little better but still not ready to face the two hour drive back to Woodside.
December 09, 2009 Wednesday:
I gave Jasmine her 2nd and 3rd application of Amoxicillin today and gave the milk to various animals. Fern is in with her but I am not worried that she will suck out the meds because she never bothers with that teat. It is short and not satisfying. I also found some comfrey oil to rub on that quarter. She acts perfectly healthy as always. Of course I have had to return to TAD milking. Jasmine seems very annoyed about this. Fern has taken to racing in to stand in the next stall rather that to her tie-up in the aisle. I have a tie-up there too. Marcia is a wonderful help in the barn. Her years with horses have made her perfectly at home with large animals and manure and she thinks of everything. She didn’t much like it when Jasmine splashed manure on her clean coat. I hope it did not stain. I tried to find her a dairy apron on the web but had no luck. It was mostly my ineptitude with navigating the sites. Couldn’t make it happen.
It snowed all day. I think we got about 6 inches, not much more. The wind came up fairly briskly but nothing to knock down trees. I guess it was worse down at the coast. So far at least this storm has not been scary around here.
I fixed us a satisfying winter dinner of braised melt-in-the mouth beef shins, mashed potatoes and home grown carrots.
December 10, 2009 Thursday:
It is definitely winter now. I have not got the house entirely winterized yet and many drafts are revealing themselves. I take the milking machine to the barn now in a big sled I call an akio. It is the shape of a scow and made of grey plastic.
I gave Jasmine her final dose of amoxicillin last night. I have to discard the milk until tomorrow night but I strain it anyway. There were clots in it tonight but I tasted it and it was improved. However, Fern made a complete liar of me. All of a sudden she has started sucking the right hind teat so maybe she got the meds instead of Jasmine. I can tell she is sucking because there are little cuts on the teat that were not there before. Oh dear. Perhaps I will have to repeat the treatment. I get depressed when there is something wrong with my cow.
Now that there is snow on the ground the sheep are in with Jasmine all day.
I bought some goat’s milk from my neighbor, Germaine, to tide us over. I also bought a dozen duck eggs. They are lovely. I used them tonight to make cornbread according to Liz’s excellent recipe.
Liz’s Cornbread in cast iron skillet
Here is an absolutely delicious cornbread recipe:
Preheat oven to 425 with 9″ skillet inside, add a dollop of lard to the skillet before preheating.
Mix the ingredients then carefully add to the hot skillet:
1 1/4 C corn meal 1/2 tsp salt 2/3 C flour 1 beaten egg 1/4 C sugar 1 C milk 1Tbs baking powder 1/4 C olive or peanut oil 3 Tbs mayo
Cook 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
I doubled this recipe for my 13″ skillet and it worked out perfect–cornbread cake is practically what I ended up with!
(I too doubled the recipe. I used whole wheat pastry flour for the flour.)
I served it tonight with baked beans.
I found a nest today with 8 eggs. I knew the hens have been hiding them.
December 11, 2009 Friday:
Jasmine’s udder felt fine this morning but there were still some clots. The milk tasted pretty good from the poor quarter but this evening was even better. Fern is with her all the time so as usually with evening milking I got only a gallon this morning and a half gallon tonight. The evening milking was the first one that we can start using. Supplies are getting low so I separated them tonight so as to have more in the morning.
The weather is distinctly colder. It did not get much above 20° today and there was a good deal of wind. It is dark by 4pm. Marcia has stockpiled water in case we lose power. She set up a second water tub for Jasmine.
We started a new round bale this afternoon. That means the previous one lasted 8 days.
My sister Barby called to say that she has driven to the doctor and had chest x-rays. She has bronchitis. She got an inhaler and a prescription. Her courage sounded a lot better.
I made an especially good dinner. We had beef brisket, a roast to which the Aga is especially well suited. I also made a pineapple upside down cake, not a dessert with any particular nutritional benefits but I had a hankering for it. Marcia picked up a fresh pineapple. It turned out very well, I must say.
DS John called from Adelaide. Grandson Tommy was with him for the weekend. There are plans for him to leave the rehab center in a few weeks and perhaps even be able to drive a modified car one of these days.
December 12, 2009 Saturday:
No more pretending, winter is now here and we can’t escape it. Well, not unless we go to Florida. It was about 15° this morning with strong gusty winds all day. The snow is about 6” deep and not likely to melt. All the water dishes had solid ice.
I had Fern separated last night. Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons and the strainer was clear. I guess I will have to carry on with TAD milking, though. I can’t trust the situation. Jasmine hates the evening milking now that she has not been getting it for a few weeks. She raises her tail repeatedly and lets down poorly. I left them together tonight because there is now enough milk in the fridge for customers.
I have not been in the habit of closing Jasmine in at night. She likes the freedom to go in and out even in cold weather. But now I have started to do it. There was an account in yesterday’s paper of a horse that was killed by coyotes. The tracks and blood on the snow left unmistakable evidence. The owner said that the horse had impaired vision although what difference that would make at night I don’t know. It was only 13 years old. Fern would of course be easy prey. There are a lot of coyotes around here.
DS Martin and DIL Amy and the kids were here for supper. Martin brought four pheasants, enough for Max and Mitra and the girls in hopes that they would be able to join us but they could not. Max has to leave on Sunday for two weeks of work. He was busy sawing up more wood for Mitra and doing lots of other things around the place.
I could not find a recipe for pheasant that I trusted so made one up. First I sautéed them in butter with saffron. Then I set them aside while I sautéed about 3 cups of finely chopped celery, onion, carrots and mushrooms. I laid the pheasants on this bed of vegetables and poured on a quart of pheasant stock that I had made last time we had pheasant. I covered the pan and simmered them very gently for about an hour and a half. They were nice and moist and tender. Henry, 20 months, gnawed all the meat off of two legs. I also served rice cooked in pheasant stock, pureed winter squash that Amy brought, and red cabbage sautéed with red onions and apples with a bit of nutmeg and cider. To a quart of the squash I added a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter well blended in. Everybody liked this. For dessert we had some more of the pineapple upside down cake from yesterday.
December 13, 2009 Sunday:
There are no more clots on the strainer and we are drinking the milk again. For a few days there I had to disappoint my customers. I will continue TAD milking until I am better assured of full recovery. I am rubbing the quarter alternately with comfrey oil and oil of Balm of Gilead that I made last spring. It is highly aromatic and supposed to be good for something. I only made about ¾ cup. I never have enough time for picking the sticky leaf buds in spring when they swell. I just picked them into a cute jar and covered them with olive oil. Now six months later I have this nice oil to rub onto … whatever. The tree is related to willow and cottonwood. I rather imagine the oil contains salicylic acid.
Marcia and I both worked on putting plastic up on the windows. There are still about 6 windows to do. It is a great deal of work every fall but important.
DS Martin and DIL Amy winterized their camp today. By late afternoon when the left it was not only dark but had started to snow. They had to drive home at about 40 mph and it took them 2 hours to get to Biddeford. Henry was screaming in his car seat for the last half hour. Martin had to walk him around for a half hour and let him tell all about it. He talks a bit now, though nothing like some of the girls in this family including his sister Hannah. Last night Martin was preparing a little plate of food while he watched eagerly from his highchair. Hannah was seated next to him. When Martin swept the dish past him and handed it to his sister he shrieked “Mine!” Poor little guy. I couldn’t help laughing at the look of disappointment and indignation on his face. Of course Martin quickly tore off a pheasant leg for him. By the end of dinner he had pretty well gnawed two legs to the bone.
The snow has stopped now. It was down to 5° this morning but is up to 20° now. Martin and Amy witnessed a seldom seen phenomenon today. At their camp on the lake they saw the lake icing over.
December 14, 2009 Monday:
Jasmine gave 1 gallon this morning and ¾ gallons this evening. That is better than yesterday but with Fern at her side 24 hours a day it does not leave quite enough for the rest of us. I separated them tonight.
I separated Fern in a new way. She is in with the ducks. We watched for a while through the viewing window and all seemed to be going well in there. I needed to do this because we wanted a safe place for the sheep at night. We gave them the big horse stall that fern has been using at times. There is a real danger from coyotes. Marcia modified the stall we have been using for Fern by blocking the “window” with pallets. It has a long wide opening in front of the manger that ambitious sheep might jump through. It took us some time to tempt them to come in, mostly because they did not want to leave off eating Jasmine’s hay. But once in they were perfectly contented. I imagine that in a day or two they will trot right in.
Marcia joined ten ladies at Weld for her weekly yoga this morning. Afterwards they gathered for lunch at the lovely home of one member. She has done over an old farm house in Weld to a high standard.
December 15, 2009 Tuesday:
With Fern separated last night, Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. Fern was with her all day. She gave less than ½ gallon tonight. She resisted letting down and was so annoying with her tail that I stood up and tied it. She suspected Fern was going back in with the ducks tonight and she was right. I will separate them at night at least until we are again way ahead on milk.
I had a dental appointment for impressions. Marcia drove me. It took a lot longer than I thought it would and was a whole lot more expensive. Afterwards we drove up and had a nice visit with Mitra. Shireen was home from school. Last night her school chorus sang three numbers including the Halleluiah Chorus. Mitra said they sounded wonderfully professional. I wish I had been there. Then the school orchestra, in which Shireen plays viola, performed four lively pieces. She rarely misses school but was exhausted in the morning and her mom told her to go back to sleep: she slept 5 hours.
Marcia and I cut short our errands. It was getting dark and fog was rising. We did not get home to our impatient animals until 5pm. The sheep are fast learners. They came right around to the back exit to the barn where there is a steep ramp. Instead of coming up the ramp properly they went to where it meets the barn and leapt up effortlessly more than 3 ft. in a single bound. Those are very boingy sheep. They are really cute too and perfectly friendly but I still would not tempt one of the rams by bending over. They are well over 100 lbs each, in fact look to be 150. It is hard to judge through all that wool.
Fern also went in nicely with the ducks.
Sally in Haines AK sent a picture of her gingerbread house in the shape of a lighthouse. They were all to be auctioned in aid of the local museum.
December 16, 2009 Wednesday:
This morning Jasmine gave not quite 2 ½ gallons. It was colder, 5F, and very windy. It takes a lot of hay to keep everybody happy. This evening the sheep knew exactly where to go. When Marcia opened the gate to their paddock they raced past her into the barn. This time they used the ramp properly instead of leaping.
Evening milking was a waste of time. Fern had gotten every bit of the milk.
Part of my day was spent on the phone with my credit card company. Someone has been putting fraudulent charges on my account, somebody who orders computer games. Now I have to wait for a new card before I can get spendy myself. Sorry, Santa, can’t help you much.
December 17, 2009 Thursday:
Marcia and I went back to Farmington on Xmas errands. Marcia shopped purposefully and got nearly everything she needs for her gift boxes. I felt my mind going numb with confusion and spent a lot of time happily in the bookstore where I bought Marcia a book I liked the looks of: Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. When I do this sort of thing, I feel like Tommy Sandeys in Sentimental Tommy who bought his sister dominoes for her birthday. “But Tommy, I never play dominoes.” “I know, but I do.”
It was bitterly cold. I doubt it got above 5° and there was a lot of wind. Jasmine gave about 2 ½ gallons this morning. After last night’s experience I did not bother to milk this evening although she may have had a half gallon. I hope I did not err. Now that Fern hits all four quarters in the course of the day I don’t worry as much. Morning will tell.
The sheep came bounding in as fast as before. I stuck my forefinger down into Ramsey’s fleece and guess it to be 4” deep. That is nothing to brag about as I understand it, and I guess Suffolk wool is mostly used for rugs, but it sure looks nice and wooly. Those big round sheep with long thin black legs and black heads and ears are a highly entertaining sight.
December 18, 2009 Friday:
Zero again today. It isn’t fun at all but at least I have better boots this year and suitable clothing all except my gloves. These must be replaced. Jasmine was clean this morning but messed up badly while in her stanchion. She gave two gallons of perfect milk. Fern works on her pretty hard during the day. The arrangement with the sheep continues to work nicely. I Googled Suffolk sheep last night which for some reason I never did before. One record ram dressed out at 300 lbs. I guess I would not be astonished if these two made 150 each. They are a large breed. Daughter Sally observed today in a phone conversation that this might actually be more efficient meat than a beef steer. You certainly get it faster. Neither gets much grain. They mostly graze and eat hay but the rams do not have to be taken through the winter as my steers invariably do. I will continue to ponder this as time passes. Because Jasmine had a heifer this year there will be no more beef for me for a long time.
Marcia and I went shopping in Rumford. We stopped at The Whatnot Shop, a thrift store, and Marcia scored high. Besides cute baby outfits for her granddaughter Lily, known as Lily Pad and reputed to be the smartest and cutest baby in the world (daily bulletins attest) she got a pile of gorgeous Polar Fleece jackets and vests and a beautiful porcelain doll, for Lily Pad of course. This appears to be one of those dainty creations offered in full page magazine ads available after four easy payments. I could not resist a plush monkey which has to be the ugliest toy ever contrived. It appears to be a capuchin monkey, is about 18” long, black and floppy, and is dressed in an elaborate fuschia organdy tutu. I guess I need a picture. I can only imagine that it showed up at the thrift when some mom said “Either that thing goes or I do.”
I ground flour today and made two lovely loaves and then left them in the oven for 2 ½ hours. Sob. They now resemble adobe bricks. Maybe if they soak two days in skim milk the chickens will fancy them.
December 19, 2009 Saturday:
Another cold day but I think we are getting used to it. It was below zero but the sun was shining and there was very little wind. This makes such a difference. Something was wrong with my milking machine assembly and I had to keep Jasmine waiting more than 10 minutes while I figured it out. Marcia helped me. Actually neither of us (my poor vision was a factor) actually figured out what was wrong but after some disassembly and putting things back together it went to work. Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
We spent all morning getting things ready for the mail and Marcia took everything to the post office in Weld. She also went down and visited her camp and reported that everything was lovely there. Although it had not been plowed, she was able to drive in with 4WD. She also drove into Martin and Amy’s driveway a few times to mash down the snow.
I talked with DIL Mitra. She is having a siege with a frozen water supply hose to the barn and is having to fill buckets in the kitchen sink, 45 gallons-worth. I have had many a similar adventure in the past and feel for her deeply especially with Max out of town. She remains cheerful.
During the afternoon while the sun was still bright Marcia and I went across the river to the land belonging to my daughter Sally in AK and cut a Xmas tree. The snow was sufficiently deep that we didn’t want to walk a great distance. There are a lot of small trees but they grow close together so lack something in the way of form. The little spruce we chose might get the Charlie Brown award. We will definitely want to stand it in a corner as it has only one good side. We saw where a beaver had cut down two of Sally’s trees about 5 and 6 inches in diameter. Most likely they were beech trees. I have a soft spot for beavers.
This evening Marcia went to a neighborhood party in Weld at the home of Sean Minear. She looked very spiffy. I had been planning to go but then changed my mind. I still don’t have my front teeth and the crowd is said to usually be standing room only.
Last night I chatted on the phone with son John in Adelaide. His son Tommy is still in the rehab center and is now one of the longest term residents. He will probably leave in January. His progress toward regaining function below the waist is very slow but continues to be steady. There were some encouraging gains this week. John brings him home on weekends.
December 20, 2009 Sunday:
It is still cold. Jasmine gave over 2 ½ gallons this morning. The milk from all four quarters tastes fine. The strainer is completely clear. I am currently feeding her hay ad lib and about 3 lbs of grain twice a day. The grain is COB (corn oats barley). Right now on top of the grain I put 4 carrots, about ¾ cup of ACV (apple cider vinegar) and about ½ cup of an infusion of vitamin E in vegetable oil. If her manure is showing no unusual soupiness I add a small scoop of dried sugar beet. She is holding her condition very well.
I had no trouble with the pulsator today.
Marcia finished up the last bag for her Xmas orders. It does not have to be mailed. I measured out the fruit for the Victoria Fruitcake that I like to make. It is an easy recipe that calls for 3 cups of applesauce and you don’t need to line the pans or store the cake before eating although it will keep a long time. The fruit is now soaking with a little brandy. I ate one of the soaked dates and discovered to my chagrin that they were not pitted. Not sure how I made this mistake. Anyway, I washed my hands and pawed through all the dried fruit to pick out the dates, then pitted them and put them back.
Marcia had a great report of last night’s party in Weld. There were about 50 people. She almost did not get there. About halfway to Weld she passed a small dog wandering beside the road obviously lost. She drove a little way further, then turned around and went back for it. It was a clipped Cocker Spaniel with no tags, shivering and obviously lost. She put it in her car and it huddled in her lap. She went to four different houses trying to locate an owner but either no one was home or else they would not come to the door. She finally drove back to Tim and Dalene Pulk’s house to see if they had any suggestions. Dalene was hosting a warm and cheerful gathering of her sisters and neighbors. Someone knew who the dog belonged to. It is a woman in the area and the dog is deaf. They offered to return it to its owner so Marcia left it there. Had this not worked out, Marcia would have brought the dog home and skipped the party.
Marcia gave my dog Willie and her white Chihuahua, Chiquita, each a bath today. Both are much freshened up, especially Willie who gets very fluffy.
December 22, 2009 Tuesday:
Yesterday Marcia and I dashed back to the thrift store for more purchases. Marcia bought another doll and an armload of clothes for herself and granddaughter, Lily; for Lily she scored an astonishing purple velvet swim suit. I look forward to seeing a photo of this on Lily. I bought a good quality glass cake stand for somebody.
I got my fruitcakes baked yesterday too. They seem promising. Today I doused two with brandy and sent one each to my oldest sons.
Much of the east including WA DC got a record snow fall yesterday but it missed us. Now the storm is circling back and snow has begun to fall here. The animals are snug. Jasmine gave close to 3 gallons yesterday and today.
Son Max expressed an interest in liverwurst. I assembled recipes from the web and my files but decided against going the full distance with it. I ended up making it in loaf pans using 2 lbs of pork liver and 1 lb each of pork sausage and plain pork. This was all pork from Max and Mitra’s recent slaughter. I added two duck eggs and a bunch of spices. To me it seems pretty good.
The major snow storm which closed things down yesterday over much of the northeast did not reach us. But now it is circling back and it has started snowing here. The temp has hung around zero here for a week but warmed up to 20° for a while today before it started to snow.
December 23, 2009 Wednesday:
We did not get much new snow. It seems that we are to be spared serious storm conditions this time. It was about 5° this morning with no wind. This does not seem so bad. The sun shone for much of the day. Several times lately I have had trouble getting the milking machine to function properly. It is not due to cold. I keep it in the house, take it out wrapped in a big bath towel and Marcia has been going out ahead of me and switching on the heating pad that I have on the vacuum pump. The problem has to do with proper seating of the pulsator on the lid and having the hoses pushed on just right. Marcia hears and sees better than I so is a great help in resolving these issue although neither of us is so far clear about what we did right to get the pulsator going. Jasmine gave 2 ¾ gallons today and the milk from all four quarters tastes perfect.
We finished up another round bale today. This one lasted 12 days. The sheep have not had access to it for the last week so it went farther than the last one which lasted only8 days. They are getting only square bales. Marcia also buts out hay from square bales every day for Jasmine and she eats a little of it. She eats every thread of the round bale hay. She will even walk away from her grain to get it.
We still have not put up our tree. Every moment is taken up with other essentials. Marcia has four more bags to complete.
They are playing the Messiah now on NPR. It is being sung by the Pittsburg Symphony Chorus, I think. Every note is familiar. I have sung it several times. When we lived in England we hosted a performance with local musicians and singers in our home. My mother played the piano accompaniment. It was a marvel how the little town of East Grinstead was able to provide so many superb musicians who all jumped in there and played as though they had been together for years. Many of the string players were young teenagers.
For supper tonight I fried a couple of pork chops from the Luick’s new pork. It is of course exceptionally good.
December 24, 2009 Thursday:
Christmas Eve Our fine weather continues. It was sunny all day. I feel very fortunate and almost guilty considering what other parts of the country are suffering. However the winter is not over. Jasmine once again gave 2 ¾ gallons. She is eating some of her square baled hay, Marcia thinks. At least she is rooting through it. Marcia is now doing all of the feeding.
After breakfast Marcia took a walk with the dogs all the way around the fields. She had to wear dark glasses the sun was so bright on the snow. The dogs were thrilled to be out walking.
We made a last dash to town. Marcia needed to buy some more unbleached muslin for her bag project. We went to Wal-Mart. There were quite a lot of shoppers. Most were cheerful and smiling but Oh, my goodness, how shockingly unhealthy most of them looked.
This morning I made whole wheat bread and this evening I made saffron bread for Christmas morning. It is from a recipe published long ago in Sunset Magazine. You make little spirals of dough, arrange them flat in a pan in the shape of a Xmas tree and put a candied cherry in the center of each little spiral. You pull the spirals apart like any roll when helping yourself.
We do not expect to see any of the family until the 26th but I have talked to most of them on the phone. Actually, the weather prediction for the 26th is scary so we will just have to see what works out.
December 25, 2009 Friday, Christmas Day:
We did not see the sun today. It was overcast but quite warm, over 25°. Jasmine was very orderly this morning. She gave 2 ¾ gallons again. Despite the effect on the cream supply, I am taking the machine off a little earlier so that there is a bit of milk left for Fern. This keeps her from butting and sometimes scoring up Jasmine’s teats.
Marcia and I had lots of Christmas calls but did not see anyone else. I got most of the food ready for tomorrow, also made a pound of butter. It is not the color of June butter. In fact it is not much brighter than store butter. I had hoped to see more of a carotene effect from all the carrots I have been feeding Jasmine.
Marcia and I were both extremely busy all day although Marcia worked a lot harder than I did. She wrapped all the packages that I had not gotten done and puts the lights (at last) on our little tree. We started the day with saffron bread that I made yesterday. For supper I served something incredibly easy and delicious. Last summer when Marcia served lobsters I collected up and saved all the leftover melted butter; it also contained lobster juice. I froze it to use for poaching scallops. The scallops had been in the freezer quite a few months so I soaked them for several hours in milk. If there was ever anything wrong with them it was not discernible following the soak. All I did was simmer the scallops in lobster butter for about 6 minutes.
Max and Martin are planning to help out for a while tomorrow with wood splitting. We are getting very low on firewood.
December 26, 2009 Saturday:
It was about 20° all day and overcast. I was late getting to the barn because of needing to get my turkey into the oven first thing. Jasmine strongly disapproves of tardiness and pooped and peed while in her stanchion. Other than that she stood just fine. I feel almost superstitious about saying that she never moves a foot for fear of breaking the spell. But honestly, after the first couple of days of coming to the farm when she waved her foot a bit, she has never kicked. Once in a while if there is a scratch on a teat or something she twitches. And she can be deadly with her tail if she wants to be. She is just so sweet. She gave something over 2 ½ gallons today. I am continuing to remove the unit before I have quite all of the milk so as to leave some for Fern to get started on. Fern is also well behaved thanks to Marcia’s daily handling. She and the ducks share a stall at night without argument.
Sons Martin and Max got here before noon and spent several hours splitting and stacking wood for us. That was about the best Christmas present I could conceive of. We were just about down to bark and twigs.
Squash storage on the front stairs
DD Marcia and I spent all morning on dinner prep. Marcia has brought some of her nice seasonal table decorations from camp and did a beautiful setting. The menu included turkey and ham both home raised (ham from DS Max and DIL Mitra), stuffing, mashed hubbard squash (home grown), green bean and mushroom casserole by Marcia (all from scratch), gravy, green salad by DIL Amy, perfect as always, and two desserts. Amy’s was a cobbler of mixed fruit with little spiral biscuits and Marcia made Cherry Puff. This is made with sour cherries covered with cake batter and served accompanied by cherry sauce and hard sauce. Everybody had some of each. There were 10 of us at table not counting Henry (20 months) in his high chair. My view of Henry was blocked but I never heard a sound out of him during dinner. He feeds himself efficiently and with total focus. He especially likes meat but also eats vegetables. Hannah was a bit tired and did not eat so much. Roshan (11) left the table for a little while to go lie down with Hannah so she could nap. She quickly fell asleep and Roshan returned.
Later we opened our gifts. I heard many pleased remarks from the various recipients. I now have a new barn hat and gloves. Henry sat right down in the plastic baby sled the girls gave him, holding the blue plush teddy bear from Marcia and me. It came straight from the thrift store but appeared to be brand new. DD Abby sent me the book Slow Money: Investing as if food, farms and fertility mattered by Woody Tasch. I have seen favorable comment on this book. It is only 204 pages so I should be able to provide a review pretty soon.
DS Mark, the doctor, left right after dinner as foul weather threatened. He needs to be there to help Doctor Annie prepare a presentation due Monday.
Henry did not want to leave. He wanted to sit on the folding table when Marcia and his dad turned it over to collapse it. He was just starting to have fun pretending it was a car and made a spirited resistance when his mom began putting on his sweater. Flopped on the floor he lay making rather a loud noise.
Hannah loves tidying up. While Henry was protesting she occupied herself carefully picking up all the shiny stars and holly leaves that Marcia had sprinkled around to decorate the table, most of which were now on the floor. She put them into an envelope and took them home.
December 28, 2009 Monday:
The weather was not as bad as predicted. It has been in the 20’s for three days now and there is ice and slush everywhere except where Martin plowed. He and Amy stayed over until today. Amy, Henry and I attended a two hour tea party hosted by Hannah here this morning with the tea set I gave her for Xmas. I helped her make herbal tea and we all drank from tiny cups and ate slices of Clementines, banana and cheese. Henry is notably fond of eating and ate two whole Clementines. Martin went out in some neighborhood fields with his gun to see if any partridge could be induced to rise. He has no dog and none did. The partridge have an arrangement with the chickadees. They chirp a warning note when anyone walks by.
Amy and Henry left in early afternoon. Martin and Hannah went back in Martin’s truck somewhat later, just as heavy snow began to fall.
Jasmine was quiet and cooperative this morning and gave 2 ¾ gallons. We are still not getting eggs. Marcia found one today, the first in three or four days. I am not sure how many hens I have. Half of them live in the rafters and many are identical. There are at least ten, though. There is ad lib feed and frost free water and many dishes of clabber. I don’t think they have much excuse for not laying.
December 30, 2009 Wednesday:
Last night just when I started to write, the power went out. It was not just us, the entire neighborhood was dark. It had been cold all day and a powerful wind was blowing. About 8:30 things went black. At almost the same time some activity took place on the road in front of the farm. Everything was so dark that all we could make out was cars slowing, then backing up and lots of people going and coming with flashlights. It was so cold, below zero, and the wind was so violent that we did not go out to ask what was going on. I figured that if it really involved us somebody would come to the door.
The power came back on somewhere between 3 and 5 am. It was still cold but the wind had let up and this morning the sun was shining. Marcia went out to the mailbox and reported that one of my trees had blown down. It was a very tall dead spruce. Some had had to be cleared off the road and that was the source of the excitement. It took out a section of my pasture fence. That repair will be a job for next spring.
We have an insulated housing built over the hose bib in the barn. It is a sort of cabinet or small closet. The hose can be rolled up inside of it and a light bulb is on in there to provide heat to keep the hose bib and hose from freezing. When the power goes out everything freezes, which was the case this morning. It took most of the day to thaw enough to refill Jasmine’s water but she did not completely run out. We top it up at night and all day just in case there should be a problem.
This morning Jasmine gave 3 gallons. I was about a half hour late to the barn which may account for some of the increase. But also I think she responds to having the round bale out there for constant eating. Martin installed it out there last Saturday.
December 31, 2009 Thursday, New Year’s Eve:
Tonight is the full moon although we can’t see it. It is snowing.
The barn water was frozen up again. Fortunately there was plenty in Jasmine’s tub to last until after lunch. Marcia had a luncheon engagement in Weld but when she got back she took 10 gallons out in jerry cans on the sled. The hot box had been closed up all day with a strong bulb going but the system did not thaw. We decided that using the hair drier on it was worth a try. The pipe was mighty cold where it enters the floor. The heat tape is not working. Marcia left the hair drier propped in position while she went about the chores and she was later able to joyfully report that the water is running. What a huge relief. For so many winters there have been long stretches where I or some other hearty volunteer has had to haul water to the barn in 5 gallon containers. The very prospect is wearisome.
While doing chores Marcia noticed something odd with the nests in the loft. Two wooden eggs were gone from one nest and placed about 5 ft away. There they were joined by a real egg, recently laid. I think a raccoon is visiting. Marcia realized she had seen some red spots on a rafter, chicken blood no doubt. I wish I had a Havaheart trap.
With this accomplished, we raced to Dixfield and Marcia bought lobsters for our dinner. She had already picked up a bottle of champagne. We had a lovely dinner including also baked potato and slaw. The lobsters were top quality.
Jasmine gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. I left some behind for Fern. The cut on her teat is pretty well healed up.