January 01, 2011 Saturday – New Year’s Day:
Today was mostly about eating. DD Marcia gave us a lovely dinner of gumbo in which she used the Andouille sausages that her son Harper made and sent to us from Alaska. She also made interesting cornbread containing chopped jalapenos and some of our frozen corn. For dessert she served a perfect sweet potato and pecan pie with Chantilly cream. Max and Roshan joined us but Mitra’s back has now done what Max’s did two days ago and she was in too much pain to move. Shireen was visiting a friend of hers who moved away last year and is back in town for a visit.
Ernie now has his ice shack out on the lake. It looks quite cute out there. He made clever little cut out windows in the shape of fish.
It was about 30° today but cloudy. Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
January 02, 2011 Sunday:
Another mostly overcast day although the sun did emerge for an hour or so. The temp was about 30°. Jasmine gave 2 gallons. I was surprised that the critters did not spend more time outdoors. The pasture is half bare. We got a dozen eggs!
DD Sally in Alaska is racing around preparing to come here. She had to cut and wrap the sheep they butchered a couple of days ago all by herself so far as I could tell. She also sheared the sheeps’ hide to rescue the wool and washed it. Now she has come down with the flu that others in her family had. She hopes to be well by the 6th when she travels. She got a flu shot so maybe this is a different strain.
Marcia came down today and spread bedding in the beefer pen. It was a mess because of the thaw and me not doing it yesterday. She also cut my hair. It was so warm that I sat out on the deck for my haircut. I now look like the lady in the Fosomax ad although my hair is not as white. Maybe I should use bleach.
January 03, 2011 Monday:
The weather is turning cold again. I only got 4 eggs and Jas gave a bit under 2 gallons. It is very inconvenient when she gives less than 2 gallons because I have all these incompletely filled jars that nobody wants.
Max stopped by and brought me some more feed and cleaned the beefer pen for me. I made him lunch with eggplant slices fried in egg and flour and stacked up with tomato sauce and melted cheese.
DD Marcia has her camp on the market now and today she showed it to some folks who were, as was to be expected, highly enthusiastic. It is such a beautiful place. But she needs something smaller and is thinking about California.
I have started bread.
January 04, 2011 Tuesday:
I consider my bread to have been a great success. It was 50/50 whole wheat and high gluten white bread flour. (I did not want to take time to grind more ww flour) I used skim milk for the liquid and added a mixture of melted butter and lard, about 3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon of fast yeast. And salt. I did not measure anything but it was about 8 cups total of flour. I stirred it hard and left it overnight. In the morning I kneaded for a couple of minutes on the marble and left it to rise in a greased bowl until after milking. Then I divided it into two balls and left these to rise on the marble, covered with a large stainless steel bowl while I preheated my rectangular unglazed stoneware baking dish in the Aga. When the loaves were puffy I picked them up fast, set them in the dish and baked them for 25 minutes to 190° internal temperature.
Jasmine gave a scant 2 gallons. Egg production is encouraging. I am getting 6 to 8 a day, which I can find. I know darned well there is a hidden nest.
Marcia came down to help me for a while and we made up Sally’s bed with the yellow sheets in the room I call The Yellow Room. It gets sunshine from the east and south. I figure people from SE Alaska need all the sun they can get. It was brilliant here all day, but cold.
January 06, 2011 Thursday:
On Wednesday I invited Marcia to lunch and gave her a particularly nice salad. As I think I may have mentioned last week, as a sort of personal experiment about a year and a half ago I elected to eat no vegetables except those we grew or at least were produced locally. This largely eliminated winter salads and completely eliminated winter tomatoes. I now feel I have made my point to myself: it was no hardship nor much of a challenge. (Last winter we had some winter salad greens thanks to Marcia’s gardening under lights.) Now I have decided to buy some lettuce and started off with a head of organic iceberg lettuce which is occasionally available. This is surprisingly good. The flavor is superior to most winter Romaine. I made a creamy dressing to which I added some minced fresh tomato. It so happens that a greenhouse tomato operation has started up about 35 miles away. Their tomatoes look too perfect to be real and have been frightened into turning red by the use of ethylene gas. This is harmless, just a cheat. It creates a green tomato that is red. However I find that if I put them in a sunny window for a few days the flavor develops pretty well. Marcia loved her salad and so did I.
I also made a big pan of gingerbread using a British recipe that calls for treacle and golden syrup, both of which I managed to have on hand. I made it with whole wheat pastry flour. Cook’s magazine had a feature on successful gingerbread that revealed that the trick to prevent gingerbread from collapsing in the middle is thorough beating. This worked for me. I did not think much of the recipe they recommended. It called for oil instead of butter, horrors. I used a mixture of butter and lard. I also added golden raisins (sultanas) to it.
Here is the recipe:
Rich Sticky Gingerbread (Aga Recipe)
½ pint milk (Crown pt use 10 oz) 2 t. soda 12 oz. plain flour 2 t. ground ginger 2 t. ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon salt 8 oz. butter 8 oz. soft brown sugar 4 oz. golden syrup* 4 oz treacle (molasses) 2 eggs 6 balls crystallized ginger, finely chopped**
Prepare the pan (9×12). Measure the milk into a jug and add the soda, stand on the back of the Aga. Sieve the flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. Put the butter, sugar, golden syrup and treacle in a saucepan and stand on the simmer plate. Heat and stir till the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and pour into the flour and spice. Mix together well and then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Next, stir in the warmed milk followed by the crystallized ginger. Pour the gingerbread batter into the prepared tin. Bake near the bottom of the baking oven for 30-40 minutes until risen and a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and store in the tin.
* No golden syrup? Replace with molasses. **Not knowing what a ball of ginger is I used a bit more that ½ cup of chopped candied ginger. Also added golden raisins. The batter is quite wet. I weighed the flour on a kitchen scale. It took ½ hour to bake but the Aga bakes fast.
Max inseminated Sophie, their big red sow, yesterday and today. He is going to write about it. They chose a Berkshire boar this time.
January 07, 2011 Friday:
It was down to zero this morning which does take a lot of fun out of working in the barn. However I have plenty of warm clothes and got along pretty well. The sun came out brilliantly and warmed it up to 20° by afternoon. Jasmine stays a lot cleaner when the cow patties freeze. Production was down slightly to just under 2 gallons. We got 10 eggs today.
I made a choice pot of chicken soup using a rooster I stewed on Wednesday and a baked custard so as to have something to feed DD Sally tomorrow. She flew into Boston today and took the bus to Portland ME where Mark and Annie met her. I spoke with her only briefly but she sounded pretty peppy for a person who has been sick and had to travel for three days. Getting from Haines AK to Juneau takes up the first day. Then she had to overnight with a friend in Juneau before flying to Seattle and Portland OR where she overnighted again. Marcia and I will drive to Lewiston tomorrow (halfway to Portland) and meet with DS Mark in Shaw’s parking lot. That’s the vast supermarket that is too big to find anything in.
January 08, 2011 Saturday:
All the animals were happy today. Jasmine gave 2 gallons. I got 8 eggs. Bildad, the ram, is generally good natured and likes his ears scratched but one must not turn one’s back on him. He is after all a ram and there is a warning glint in his eye. I must get some pictures of him. He is very cute with his curly Dorset horns.
DD Marcia and I met DS Mark in Lewiston at noon and picked up DD Sally. Mark and Annie fetched her last evening from the bus station following her long trip from Alaska and kept her overnight. Mark was looking very well indeed and brought us bread from Standard Baking Company which does some of the world’s best artisanal breads.
Sally was fine and perky despite her long trip. We stopped on the way home and had a bit of lunch. Back at the farm Sally immediately did a walking tour to the garden and river. For supper we ate the chicken soup I made yesterday.
DS John in Adelaide called to chat. He said that Tommy can now make it walking from one end to the other of his parallel bars by taking weight on his arms. What a thrill! He is going to make a video for us. It will soon be 2 years since the accident that crushed several cervical vertebrae. He has worked extremely hard on rehab. We are so proud of him. He has now turned 20.
January 09, 2011 Sunday:
Sally and I (mostly Sally) raced around here making improvements. Together we carried a bookshelf downstairs to better accommodate my dishes, many of which were piled up so that getting at them was daunting, consequently I rarely had the pleasure of using them. I think tomorrow she intends to begin painting upstairs in the renovated room over the kitchen where Marcia stayed last winter. Marcia painted the new dormer window and adjacent walls but there remains another wall and a lot of ceiling to finish.
She also took the dogs for a walk over to her little house and field.
Marcia popped in briefly, having left her boots here, and stayed for coffee. After leaving she doubled back to tell me that a section of the fence on North Field was out. Sally went out and closed the access gate before any livestock noticed. Fencing is a tedious task.
During evening barn shores I noticed that the light in the warming cabinet that is built around the barn water system to prevent freezing was out. It took a long time to isolate the problem, which turned out to be in the quite new cord of the drop light that is inside the box. I found a temporary substitute.
For supper we ate more of last night’s chicken soup and finished off with a dram of homemade elderberry cordial.
I’ve been spending a couple of hours a day reading Meat: a benign extravagance by Simon Fairlie, a British writer. Fairlie is that rare being, a farm policy analyst and writer with a working background in small farming. He does a dazzling job of dismantling the FAO publication, Livestock’s Long Shadow, producing many Aha moments. It is not that the committee invented the statistics which are so prejudicial to small farmers and ruminants. It is the information they left out. Livestock’s Long Shadow is the report that has been so widely quoted stating that farm animals, notably cows, are responsible for 18% of GHG (green house gas) emissions, more than the transportation sector. It has become so trendy to blame cows for everything that apparently hardly anybody has bothered to study the actual report. It has been given a free pass by the urban press, much of which reflects a vegetarian mindset.
There is nothing in this (so far) book that refutes the points I made in “Why we need cows and should not be worrying about their methane contribution”, but adds a lot more ballast to the argument. The introduction is by Gene Logsdon.
Jasmine gave a little less than 2 gallons and I got 8 eggs.
January 11, 2011 Tuesday:
The weather continues much as for the past week, 10F to 25F with intermittent sun and wind. Elsewhere in New England they are having snow. Mitra’s houseguest, 15 year old cousin Santiago from Mexico, is back now from his holiday trip home to Cuernavaca. He and Roshan are having a great time building a house with snow blocks. So much of the snow is now gone that they have to go into the woods to find it. Mitra and Max were here today and told us about it. They are now up to the 4th course of blocks. I hope somebody will take a picture.
Max and Mitra brought me and Marcia some of their new beef. They are extremely pleased with it. This is the second steer of theirs brought here for fattening up on my pastures. The steer, Bo, was killed and bled here at my farm, and then processed at a nearby abattoir. The butcher had room for him to hang for 21 days, something I have never been able to arrange for myself. They were absolutely thrilled with the steaks they had last night.
Sally made peace with my fancy vacuum cleaner that I hate – who knew what studying the instruction book might do for it. Now the music room where the tree was and her favorite reading corner look newly inviting. She also moved some of the larger house plants so they look better. My purple banana plant that last year was 1 ft tall is now almost to the ceiling with no dead leaves. This is a result of watering it with my milk jar rinsings. When seated in her alcove Sally appears to be in a tropical jungle.
Max also brought more feed and a replacement drop light for the warming cabinet on the barn water system, which he plugged in. We feel safer now with a cord that is not defective.
Sally mentioned that when she was doing beefer pen cleanup she noticed that Helen was stepping a lot and favoring her right rear foot. Max said she did that a lot during the year he was milking her at their place. We all went out and looked at her. She does not like to keep weight on that foot very long.
Jasmine has now gone almost two weeks past her last projected heat. At least I have not noticed any signs although in all truth in winter when I see them mostly at milking or feeding time signs are less evident. Anyway, fingers and hooves crossed.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons today and I got 10 eggs.
January 12, 2011 Wednesday:
It snowed all day and there was a strong wind. The storm was quite violent for a while prompting us to fill some water jugs in case we lost power but this did not happen. Most schools in Maine had a snow day but I think that Roshan and Santiago probably were not able to work on their snow house in this weather. Max said the kids all slept late.
Sally asked me what the little gizmos are that are plugged into a couple of my electric wall plates. I had forgotten all about them. They are called Mouse-be-gone and emit a noise that only mice can hear and don’t tolerate. What I have noticed was that there has been a lot less evidence of mice on the Aga and sink counter. So I suppose the gizmos are working.
Sally made a very fine pot of soup with various meaty bits she found in the freezer and some of the stored vegetables. She also made a pumpkin sour cream cake for which I whipped cream that Mitra brought yesterday. I don’t get ahead much on cream now and Mitra has more than she knows what to do with. Nelly is a much creamier cow than Jasmine.
Evening chores were fun actually because of the weather. It’s not very cold. The snow is deep and fluffy and the cows and sheep looked wonderfully pleased with their hay. We stood and watched them for several minutes. I only got 5 eggs.
I am up to the last chapter now of Simon Fairlie’s magnum opus, Meat. It is a huge, dense, very important book. I will write some more about it after I finish it.
Sally is now launched on another impressive winter weather project. She is sorting out the bookshelf with my periodicals. It was about to explode with copies of The New Yorker, Wise Traditions, Milkweed, Graze, Grass Farmer, Cook’s Magazine, and half a dozen others along with cookbooks that are meant to live somewhere else. I hope the storm continues until she is done.
Jasmine gave about 2 gallons.
January 14, 2011 Friday:
It was down to zero this morning.
Jasmine gave about 2 gallons.
I found where the rafter birds are laying. It was in the beefer pen. There were a dozen eggs in the nest, some frozen.
My vet was in the neighborhood and stopped by for lunch. He left quickly because he got a call for a horse that was colicing. He kindly called later to report that he had been able to rescue the horse and it was on its feet eating. Such good news.
DS John in Adelaide sent me a link to a few seconds of video of my grandson Tom walking the length of his parallel bars. He has worked courageously since his accident 20 months ago. What a thrill for him and all of us to see this progress. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZckW1tNJHU I hope this link will work.
DS Martin, DIL Amy and kids Hannah and Henry came by for a meal on their way to camp at Weld. I made chili with chopped beef and beans. We also had baked squash and biscuits made by Sally. I made caramel custard for dessert.
I got 10 eggs.
January 15, 2011 Saturday:
It was about 5 below zero this morning. DD Sally went out early to drape a heating pad on my vacuum pump. It hates the cold. I dressed with great care for chores with a view to keeping warm yet still being able to move. All the same my fingers and toes got so cold it interfered with thinking. On top of that, the heating pad ploy was a failure. It turned out to be a modern nanny heating pad that turns itself off after 20 minutes so that by the time I made it to the barn the pump was stone cold again. But hey, Sally came up with a breakthrough idea: turn the heating pad back on and sit on it while I milk! I am not sure how long it might have taken me to come up with this idea myself, so Hail Sally.
And another good thing: I located an historic heating pad that stays hot.
I finally finished reading Meat: the benign extravagance by Simon Fairlie, an exploration of the possibilities and implications in a comparison of four agricultural models: animal based organic, conventional with confined animals, stockfree vegan organic and stockfree conventional (arable with chemicals). He did a lot of homework and he has a vigorous, even witty, style. He stops short of some logical conclusions, leaving these to the reader based on the facts he provides. Those committed to a vegan lifestyle will be compelled to find solace in ideology, not triumphal harvests. You may get as many calories out of vegan agriculture as from one that includes animals but finding fat and maintaining soil fertility will be discouraging. The oft encountered assertion (smug conviction is more like it) that feeding the coming world means dispensing with livestock does not survive Fairlie’s reality check. Neither do any of the claims made for the efficiency of factory (CAFO) farming of animals. And you can start the fire with your copy of the WHO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow. It offers only the agribiz perspective of amassing land and discouraging poor farmers wherever they are found.
Jasmine gave about 1 ¾ gallons today.
January 16, 2011 Sunday:
It was just as cold today, but sunny. I wore a warmer coat and heavier boots and survived the cold very well. Another good thing: I have been complaining about my vacuum pump and it is cured. Sally bounded out early this morning and wrapped the pump in my old heating pad so that it had more than an hour of warming. I think there must have been a bit of ice somewhere because when I turned it on the pressure gauge once again functioned and the machine behaved altogether better with stronger pulsation. What a wonderful serendipitous cure. Jasmine gave pretty close to 2 gallons.
We are finding quite a few frozen eggs despite picking them up three times a day.
We had another lovely dinner with the family at Marcia’s place. We ate a bit later then intended. Sally and I were held up by an accident where somebody had rolled into a ditch and taken out a phone line. It had to be a phone line lying across the road and not a power line or they would not have allowed us to drive over it. The ambulance, if there was one, had come and gone so we don’t know how the car’s passengers fared.
Max had made an excellent pot of paprika chicken with three of their home reared birds. He served it over rice. DIL Amy brought a lovely salad. I brought a big pan of roasted veg from last summer’s garden. Marcia made tiramisu using some of DD Mitra’s Nellie’s cream. Granddaughter Roshan could not join us as she was in a performance of her Show Choir. But this time Shireen came and Santiago, the girls’ Mexican cousin, is back. He loves winter sports and spent the afternoon shoveling the snow from a patch of ice on the lake for skating. We tried to get granddaughter Hannah, 4 ¾ , to sing her new song that includes the names of all the states. She sang it Friday night and put us all to shame with her recitation of all the states in alphabetical order. Today the best we could get out of her was to relinquish her thumb long enough prompt the rest of us when we got stuck.
January 17, 2011 Monday, Martin Luther King Day:
It was zero, well, minus 5°, this morning but Sally went out early and warmed up the vacuum pump. Jasmine gave 2 gallons. I was glad to see it because we were completely out of milk except for the pitcher in the frig. I have a lovely quart of cream from Luick’s Nellie, though.
Sally made bread pudding with apple. Very good with cream.
Sally had hoped to get a fleece from California Red sheep from a flock in a nearby town only to discover that the owner shears twice a year so the staple is too short for spinning. She was very disappointed. The lady has not been in the habit of selling her fleeces, just storing them in her barn, and I guess did not realize this makes the fleece useless to spinners.
I impressed Sally with my barn outfit today. I really needed a long heavy skirt and just didn’t have one so I took scissors and cut the top off of a heavy stretch denim dress: instant skirt. Then I found a really warm man’s jacket in a shade of brown eminently suited to the barn, but all the buttons were lost, so I fastened it with an alligator clip. Too bad I don’t have a picture. Sally has hinted that she may repair it for me.
I am getting organized to write a commentary on Meat: the benign extravagance. It is an important book because it offers a sound comparative analysis of the impact and relative productivity of agricultural practices associated with mixed arable and livestock farming vs. stockfree (vegan) farming. That’s useful so far as it goes. But the author, Simon Fairlie, makes the assumption that the nutritional outcomes are co-equal which is patently untrue. Total calories are similar with both approaches but of course vegan calories are mostly carbohydrate calories with very little fat and the protein is plant derived whereas calories from mixed farming include animal fat and protein along with the carbs. I guess somebody will have to write another book that is less dismissive towards nutrition. Fairlie’s analysis of the limits to growth inherent is each farming method will provide a more solid footing for this discussion than has existed to date.
January 18, 2011 Tuesday:
It was about zero again this morning but soon started to snow and eventually warmed up to 15F. There was only about 3” of accumulation.
Sally again went out early to the barn and plugged in the heating pad on the vacuum pump and fed out hay. This is making a difference to Jasmine, I think. She was well up over 2 gallons. Sally was up so early this morning that she had a rooster dressed off before I even came downstairs.
This evening Helen was coming into heat. Sally picked up on it based on the way Helen was staring.
DD Marcia came down for a visit. That was jolly. We had coffee and bread pudding.
Despite the weather, Sal took the dogs for a walk around Pocket Field, the lower pasture.
We had biscuits and gravy for supper. Sal made the biscuits and I made the gravy. We kept both fires going all day.
January 19, 2011 Wednesday:
It warmed up considerably during the night and started snowing again. I’d say the pack on open ground is about a foot deep. It was about 30° when we went to the barn this morning. It is amazing how fast one acclimatizes; it felt so warm that I hung up my coat before I sat down under my cow. She only gave 1 ¾ gallon today. There was a lot of roiling around involving Helen, who was in heat last night. Maybe she put all her energy into that. I got 8 eggs today. Sally dressed off another rooster.
Yesterday I gave both lots of chickens a bale of hay. I could tell they were happier today with all that hay to play around in.
January 20, 2011 Thursday:
It was about 10F this morning. All the animals are happy, I think. Jasmine gave 1 ¾. The vacuum pump is doing a lot better now that Sally darts out early and puts the heating pad on it. I also take the machine out wrapped in a towel heated on the Aga. This helps the pulsator. She had caught and killed another rooster again this morning before I was through milking. The roosters are all different and all dazzlingly beautiful but there are just too many. They prevent the hens from eating or drinking, they just cower in corners or in the rafters. Once you are down to one rooster they cease to waste their energy chasing hens all day.
Sally made bread. I ground the wheat for it last night so it could rise overnight. She had it finished and out of the oven before we went to the barn. I made a caraway seed cake from my old Aga cookbook. The last time I made it was for DS John when he visited here about 30 years ago. I wonder if he remembers. It turned out perfectly.
DD Marcia came down and had coffee and lunch before going over to Sally’s little house. She is boxing up DD Abby’s things that are stored there. Sally wants to paint the ceiling if we get a warm spell.
Last night I made oven barbecued beef ribs that turned out very well. Tonight I used what was left of the sauce to flavor braised red cabbage which was also tasty.
I see that Lester Brown has written a book with the catchy title: World on Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic collapse. I suppose I had better find out what he recommends.
January 21, 2011 Friday:
Jasmine again gave 1 ¾ gallon. I got 9 eggs.
A storm is blowing in. Schools were called off and the plow goes past regularly. We are told to expect sub zero temperatures. All the barn doors and windows are latched. So are the ones in my attached carriage house but wind howls up through the floor anyway.
My grandson Harper, DD Marcia’s son in Alaska, sent some homemade caribou sausage at Christmas. Sally and I had some for supper tonight. Caribou has very little fat so you have to find some elsewhere. Harper raised a couple of pigs this year so was able to add pork fat. These sausages were a great treat, really delicious. We also had baked squash. I think the variety was Hokkaido, and storage carrots that were sweet and perfect. So everything was home grown.
January 23, 2011 Sunday:
It is turning colder again. Sally has taken on another project, cleaning and painting the kitchen window frames. It is a hard job thanks to old staples left from the application of plastic in past years and general poor condition of the surface. The house is about 190 years old and a lot of the wood has not been well cared for. Sal has got the base coat on two of the windows. We have finally settled on a color. It is a soft terra cotta shade.
Yesterday I went to a luncheon at church. One of my milk customers, Nancy, put it on with her bible study group of 13 girls all around 11 years old. Six were present yesterday to do the serving. They were all so sweet and the food was very good. The cold weather kept most people from coming I guess. There were only about a half dozen guests.
Sally made an excellent pumpkin pie today with one of my heirloom pumpkins, Long Pie. That was a cold day treat. The flavor was memorable.
We are told to expect -25° tonight with wind. I hope the weatherman was exaggerating. But I am getting better at assembling a cold resistant outfit. I have a set of warm underwear from LL Bean, gift last year from Sal, that is wool with a cotton inside layer. It is finally coming into its own. I am a strong advocate of wool.
Jasmine gave a bit over 2 gallons today. So far the cold is not affecting the animals much. It is -10° now at 9:30pm.
January 25, 2011 Tuesday:
It was -20F yesterday morning and -10F today which felt much warmer. The hot pad on the vacuum pump motor is proving to be a big help.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallon both yesterday and today. Yesterday I got 9 eggs, today only four. One of the pullets from Caroline in Weld has started to lay.
DD Marcia and I got up our courage to shop today. I bought paint for the trim on the interior kitchen door panels. Then we went to Red Hill health food store where I bought Bach Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic preparation that many have reported to be very useful especially for calming nerves. I am trying it on my large dog, Bagel, who has taken to licking holes in himself. Poor dear is getting old and has an unsightly lump on his left fore that is starting to make him limp slightly although this is not what he is licking. He is licking his lower shins.
The minute I got home Sally opened the paint and soon had one door painted. The trim had been yellow but is now a soft terra cotta, a nice change.
While I was out Shalali called. Sally was pleased to have a chance to talk with her as was I when I called her back. She was concerned about her cow, another Sally, who calved Monday night and was showing evidence of milk fever. Shalali was already doing everything right that I know of. She wondered about feeding nutritional yeast, a question I had just been pondering. An unaccustomed dose often causes gas in humans and I don’t know what it might do to a cow although it is certainly a valuable food. Shalali said her cow loved it and finished all she was offered. She called back later to say that her cow was eating hay. Hopefully now all is well.
January 26, 2011 Wednesday:
-10F this morning. I think we are getting used to this. Sally’s 7am trips to the barn to put the heating pad on the vacuum pump and my wrapping the milker in hot towels is making things go pretty smoothly. Jas gave 1 ¾ again today.
Sally painted more trim and made delicious chicken and vegetable soup for supper. We ate it with her saffron bread.
I am having fun working on my writing.
January 27, 2011 Thursday:
Fern was in heat today. It took us a while to figure out who was the guilty party, there was so much churning around. Fern is now 15 months old and feeling frisky. I hope to get her bred in April or May.
It was a lot warmer today, around 20F with sunshine. It was warm enough in front of the barn to free the ice from an upside down bucket.
Sally continued painting trim in the kitchen and has all the 1st coats on and much of the 2nd coats. There is nothing like fresh paint to spiff a place of. She has also fought back a lot of my clutter. It almost feels like a holiday.
My friend Nancy, a milk customer, called to remind me that today was the last day to license my dogs without penalty. With a half hour left of the working day, I made it to the town office in time, rabies certificates in hand. I felt rather clever being able to lay hands on them like that.
Jasmine gave a bit over 2 gallons. I think we got 8 eggs.
January 28, 2011 Friday:
10 above this morning and plenty of sun.
Something spooked Jasmine on her way in this morning and she turned tail and ran outside. I hate it when cows do that. I see it coming when they turn but can’t always make it to close the backdoor in time to prevent their leaving. Of course the fact that I am running makes them run faster. At least now with snow blocking off further exits from the barnyard I did not have to go round her up from the pasture. Once she is outside I know enough to pretend I am not upset and just wander out with a bucket of grain. But I am upset! Dadburned cow. She gave 1 ¾ gallons
Sally has not been taking Bagel out for walks in the snow because he has awful bare spots on his legs from licking and she thinks breaking through the crust will hurt him. Today was so nice that she took the dogs out briefly but it did bother him as she feared it would so she did not go far. I watched from the window.
DS Max came by with feed. It is always a treat to see him.
I made lentil soup for DS Martin and his family who often stop in on their way to camp.
It was full of good things including cubes of squash, some of my grandson Harper’s caribou kielbasa, and quartered dried figs. I got the recipe out of the magazine put out by my supermarket, Hannaford’s. The grownups had seconds but it did not make much of a hit with Hannah and Henry (4 and 2). Next time I’ll go back to mac n’ cheese.
January 29, 2011 Saturday:
Lots warmer today, 20° or above all day. Everyone was stripping off layers and complaining that the house was too warm, myself included.
I spent a lot of the day making a stuffing to extend the boned and rolled lamb roast I am doing tomorrow for about 14 of the family. This stuffing I now consider a work of art. I sautéed all the veggies before adding them as this stuffing will not receive the long cooking a turkey stuffing gets.
Here are some lovely pictures taken by DD Marcia yesterday at the farm.
Sally cooked 7-grain cereal overnight and what we did not eat for breakfast she incorporated into whole wheat bread. She is a master bread maker. Her loaves are not only delicious but beautifully shaped. She also made a pumpkin walnut cake for tomorrow. Marcia is making ice cream.
We expect DS Mark and DIL Ann later this evening. They so rarely are able to escape the incessant drudgery of the life of a resident. There are daily mountains of “homework” in the form of record keeping. They are always tired.
It being sunny, Sally took two walks today with Willie, leaving Bagel here asleep.
January 31, 2011 Monday:
Zero again this morning but for some reason it felt colder. Even colder weather is predicted for tonight to be followed by a lot of snow by Wednesday.
For the last two days there have been stringy bits on the milk filter. Sally, who is now doing the straining, forgot to mention it until yesterday. Last night I compounded a creamy rub for Jasmine’s udder which I made from lard, shea butter and comfrey oil. At milking time this morning I rubbed this in well, however I was unable to see or taste anything wrong with the milk from any quarters. Her production was up from yesterday to a full 2 gallons. Yet there were still stringy bits on the filter. I have until today been rubbing the peppermint udder cream on daily as a preemptive measure, I think it is called Uddermint but I gave the original container to Mitra. Jazzie’s teats have lately become very dry and cracked and I have begun to blame this on the foregoing product so am discontinuing it unless her mastitis becomes florid.
When I turned Jasmine back in with the others, Bildad came over and sniffed all around her udder. He said “I like that new scent you’re wearing.”
Yesterday’s rolled lamb roast was a big hit. There were so many of us (14) at Marcia’s that the six youngest people took their plates to another room where there is a TV. The beautiful young ladies, Hailey, Shireen and Roshan and their Mexican cousin Santiago graciously included Hannah and Henry (4 and 2). Much grief was thereby forestalled. Those two little ones are real party people and they seldom spill their food. Santiago has now been here 6 months and has grown noticeably taller. He has always been a very poised young man.
Also on the menu was an orzo casserole made by Marcia, a green salad made by DIL Amy and crusty French bread brought from Portland by DS Mark and DIL Annie. Everything was excellent. Mark and Annie also brought mead. It is made in Portland in a place right next door to their apartment. For dessert Marcia made vanilla ice cream with honey and we had a pumpkin cake made by Sally. Max and Mitra provided the milk and cream, greatly welcomed, as Jasmine can’t quite keep up these days.
Before dinner most of the group assembled at Mt Blue State Park and skied or played hockey on the rink made by flooding the parking lot. Much fun was reported.
Today Sally and I kept very busy with more painting and study as we try to keep up with events. We are both rereading James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, published in 2005. It is noteworthy how many of his predictions have proven accurate.
February 01, 2011 Tuesday:
It was about zero this morning.
Jasmine gave barely 1 ¾ gallons but the strainer was perfectly clear. As before, the flavor was perfect but I will stay alert.
I am preparing for a round bale that Max will be bringing when available. Max picked up a round metal frame for it that will make it less wasteful, or will if I can keep the sheep out of it. Their heifer, Bella, squirms into their feeder. He has now attached some modifications to prevent this and I may have to do the same. The rack is not yet assembled but Max will set it up when I need it.
A big storm is on the way. So far it is just snow falling. We do not have many preparations to make as these are already in place. I have alternatives for everything except electricity to run the pump for stock water. This is always a worry. But what, me worry?
Marcia stopped in on her way to shop and brought a painting that she recently completed.
She is learning water color.
February 02, 2011 Wednesday:
The milk from both hind quarters tasted a little flat, perhaps even vaguely salty. There was a small fleck on the strainer. I rubbed Jasmine’s hind quarters with Uddermint and put the emollient mixture that I made on her entire udder. She gave 1 ¾ gallons.
It snowed last night and most of today and there was some wind but I don’t think we got more than 8 inches of new snow. It has warmed up to 10F. Ted Flagg has not been here to plow so I am snowed in. Sometimes after a storm he is as late as 9pm.
Max said his kids knew they would have a snow day today so they stayed up late last night sledding under the flood light he has set up and playing loud music. They had a great time.
February 03, 2011 Thursday:
Jasmine gave only 1 ½ gallons this morning but there was no hint of mastitis in the flavor or appearance of the milk. However I noticed that she stepped away from me when I put the cup on the affected quarter. We got 10 eggs today.
Sally asked me to check out the hay she had thrown down for the cows and sheep as she suspected it of being a bad bale. Sure enough, they were circling the hay feeder trying out various slots like musical chairs seeking better flakes. In the midst of that crowd I could not remove the bad hay so I just threw down more on top of it. Later Sally discovered that they had pulled out the bad hay onto the ground. So that settled that. She was going to use it for bedding anyway.
The sun was out brilliantly most of the day on the new snow, a fine sight. DD Marcia popped in and brought us some chocolate cake her daughter Abby Rose made. Of course I ate too much.
Sally and I went to Dixfield and picked up packages from the PO and bought a gallon of interior latex for walls and ceiling she wants to paint. I chose pale pinky beige. Not a daring shade but one I can live with. I have lots of pictures to hang. The packages were things Sally mailed to herself from Alaska, mostly wool for her next weaving project.
I made meatloaf for our dinner which I baked in a flat casserole surrounded by home canned tomatoes with onions and garlic. We also had squash. We ate in front of the TV so as to watch events in Cairo. It is the third day of massive crowds of citizens demonstrating against the repressive regime of Mubarek.
My hands are a bit stiff. I tripped this morning as I came up the steps from the carriage house carrying a bucket of barn supplies and a pocket full of eggs. I fell all in a heap with my hands out but hey, no eggs got broken.
February 04, 2011 Friday:
The weatherman got it wrong. We were not expecting -20° this morning. If it were not for that heating pad on the vacuum pump I don’t think I would be machine milking. A scant 1 ¾ gallons this morning but there are no udder problems. The cows got their early bite and were standing out in the sun which had some warmth, but Jasmine was shivering. Maybe that moldy hay yesterday affected her, although she can only have eaten a small amount. The sun shown most of the day and by noon we were up to +20°. There were only 6 eggs.
Sally got busy first thing this morning on the painting and has the back stairwell pretty well done. There is still some that a taller person will have to reach. She also ground wheat and made bread.
There is some critter under the floor in the buttery that has Willie, my Westie, mighty worked up. He spent a good hour wiggling into corners and behind boxes and sniffing cracks. Stanley, the cat, got involved too. Stanley loves a party. Even old Bagel showed some interest. Sally is afraid it is a skunk although they ought to all be asleep.
I spent my free time rereading sections of Simon Fairlie, Meat: the benign extravagance. He has a mass of valuable information, for instance an analysis of the WHO report Livestock’s Long Shadow in which the authors claim that livestock accounts for 18% of GHG (greenhouse gasses), more than the transportation sector. Fairlie shows which statistics the main author, Henning Steinfeld, cherry picked in order to be able to declaim this fact, which he then used as support for factory farming. The document has been relentlessly quoted and used as an argument for Meatless Monday apparently without any reporters bothering to read the main text and/or having the courage to stand up for animals. In a fair accounting animals prove to be indispensable which should not perhaps surprise anybody too greatly inasmuch as they have been around a long time without destroying life on planet Earth. However I shall have to fault Fairlie for what appears willful ignorance regarding the deficiencies of a vegan diet and the biological importance of meat. Such information is not harder to discover than the manipulations of Henning Steinfeld.
February 05, 2011 Saturday:
It was warmer today, 5F at 6am with full sun all day. It got up to 20F and the eves were dripping on the sunny side.
The animals are all fine but the machine behaved poorly this morning. The pump was OK. It was something to do with the pulsator but who know what. It was very slow. I know I ended up leaving milk behind. I got 1 ¾ gallons.
DD Sally was up on her stepladder again today painting the back stairwell. It is all finished but the ceiling. I don’t know what we are going to do about it. … Well, now I do. It has to be sheet rocked.
I carried on with my studying of Simon Fairlie: Meat, the benign extravagance. Who would have suspected that statistical analysis could be so riveting? Sally, between projects, is reading the new Gene Logsdon book, Holy Shit. This too is reportedly fascinating.
Sal made peanut butter soup for our supper. She also made gingerbread for tomorrow. We are to join the Luick’s at Marcia’s camp. She is making split pea soup using a couple of the Luick ham hocks.
February 06, 2011 Sunday:
Last night about 1:30 we had an electrical storm. It went on for about 20 minutes with thunder and lightning. I counted the seconds to estimate how far away it was, intending to go down and unplug my computer and the TV if it got within a mile. It veered off at 3 miles away so I went back to sleep. The storm was accompanied by snow, an unusual event. Before dawn I could hear the plow going back and forth. We got 3 or 4 inches of heavy, wet snow. All this was probably the cause of my oversleeping. Sally, who heard none of this, woke me up about 7:15. Max and Mitra heard the thunder and got more snow than we did. Max was out at daybreak with his snow blower making a path to the barn. They decided it was unwise to drive over the mountain to Marcia’s so Sunday lunch was cancelled. Sally and I ate lots of gingerbread.
Ernie, Marcia’s SIL, is back now from CA and ready to plunge into winter activities. He plowed Fire Lane 17, their access road, and then took Marcia for a snow machine ride on Lake Webb. They visited the ice fishing shack of friends including Marcia’s local mechanic, Mike Vining, where she was entertained with a Bud and lively conversation. Mike then gave her three fish, 2 trout and a salmon.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons. I went over everything I know to clean and tighten on the machine and it behaved better than yesterday but not 100%.
Sally is spinning more wool yarn.
February 07, 2011 Monday:
DD Sally was up early so the day was not much advanced when I learned that the washing machine had quit. It is both unsettling and educational to discover how hard it is to contemplate life without a washing machine. As soon as I came in from milking I called the service man. He is a sprightly old timer named Larsen and was here within an hour. I asked if he thought it could be fixed and he said “Anything can be fixed.” He got it going within a half hour but for a full repair needed a replacement part. He thought he would have to order it but when back at his shop he found a perfectly good used part for half the price. He was back with it by noon to install it. The machine is already at least 15 years old so probably is happier with an older part.
DD Marcia came by for milk and volunteered to bathe Willie. He is a good little dog and stands like a pony to be washed with the telephone style shower head. Now he is even cuter – and smells a lot better.
I have been longing to go down to have a look over my veg garden but it is about 200 yards through deep snow to get there. Sally got the same urge and broke trail without my even mentioning it. I was near the house trying to carry BOSS to the bird feeder. I lost my footing doing that and tipped over. The snow was so deep I could not touch bottom with my hand to boost myself back up. Of course I managed it but it gives one a helpless ‘turtle on its back’ feeling.
Sally and I are getting organized to attend a local meeting on a plan to put a wind farm on a nearby mountaintop.
Jasmine gave 1½ gallons this morning. I got 10 eggs.
February 08, 2011 Tuesday:
It was snowing at dawn and quite warm, about 30°. Out at the barn I turned on the vacuum, already prewarmed by a heating pad, only to hear it make a grinding noise followed by stagnation at that nasty burning sox smell of a stressed electrical system about to emit smoke. I turned it off. Then I turned it back on to make sure it was serious. It was. So Sally went back to the house for the buckets and we took turns milking. Jasmine stood quietly for me but took exception to Sally and actually kicked her in the chest although not hard enough to leave an impression. Sally is going to report back on this after her shower. I have never known Jasmine to kick until today. We did manage to get more milk than yesterday, somewhat over 1 ½ gallons and it strained perfectly.
It may take several days to resolve the pump problem. The repair man has not returned my call. It has now turned very cold again so we don’t look forward to tomorrow morning. Sigh.
Sally heard from her house sitter in Alaska that her ewe is lambing. The gal was not present for the first birth or perhaps did not know what to do. The first lamb suffocated with the caul over its nose. She cleared the 2nd lamb so it could breathe but we were not sure if she understood to be sure it suckled. I am sure she is doing her best.
Motivated by Sally’s news, at noon when I put down hay for the critters I was able to feel Agnes’ udder. It is double what it was last week. I did not manage to sneak up on Martha or Sara.
Fern, Jasmine’s 15 month old heifer, granddaughter of AnnB’s Private Pyle, with his coloring, now insists on coming in with Jasmine at milking time. She gets tied where she can touch noses with her mother. She wants to be a cow. She is well grown and many people breed them at her age.
Sally made a particularly tasty date cake with pecans and chopped ginger, candied orange peel and ½ cup of Bourbon. DD Marcia made the orange peel last winter in Florida using wild oranges.
February 10, 2011 Thursday:
Wednesday went much better than expected. Sally and I got the idea of making a supreme effort to heat the vacuum pump and by golly it came back to life. It was a very cold morning and neither of us was looking forward to lingering in the barn for hand milking, especially Sally who got kicked on Tuesday. It was not a bad kick though, just enough to put a brown streak on her shirt.
DD Sally spends time every day in the beefer pen cleaning out and today she noticed the sheep pestering Helen who was lying down and had some hay on her back. The sheep were eating it off her back which she clearly found annoying. Jasmine came over to drive off the sheep. Jasmine is in charge of good behavior.
Sally was thrilled to learn from her house sitter that the surviving lamb is indeed surviving. The house sitter is giving it some milk by bottle but there is reason to believe it may be nursing too. Sally sure hopes so because not only does she love the lamb but if it is nursing there will still be milk when she gets home. She likes to milk her sheep.
We have been putting drops of Rescue Remedy on Bagel to make him stop worrying his licked bare spots and it does make a difference. We also started a topical herbal spray called EMT which also slows down licking. Sally says she put the fact sheet in the frig with the meds but darned if I can find it so will report on that tomorrow. She did mention it has a bad taste to deter licking. That alone is a plus.
February 11, 2011 Friday:
At dawn the temperature was -25F. At that temperature you really have to pay attention. Despite the heating pad the vacuum pump needed almost 10 minutes to sound normal. …Hmm. As I wrote this at 8:20 pm it came to me that I had no recollection of turning off the heating pad after milking. Dear Sally put on her coat and went to the barn accompanied by Willie dog. I had indeed left it on. Furthermore the pad had fallen down inside its towel wrap and was all squinched up which may explain why it took the pump longer to get going properly. Good that I remembered. It must be there is a Barn Angel.
Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons this morning. I doubt it is going to be possible to build her back up in this weather even if I go to TAD, something which I am not motivated at present to do even though today I had to turn down a new milk customer. She sounded like a nice lady.
Sally made saffron bread this morning, two lovely loaves, also she made chicken soup. Max came over to bring me a nice round bale. Last week he brought over the frame for it that I purchased and today he set that up. This entailed removing ice and snow from in front of the barn so that the double doors could be opened. Then he had to drag out the old feeder. Next he dragged in the frame and spiked the round bale out of his truck and dropped it into the frame. All of these tasks required the Kubota. I had the cows and sheep shut out back in the barnyard to keep them out of the way. They seemed to know that the commotion in their space was cow friendly because when I opened the back door they poured back in and hit the hay.
Max ate soup and bread and Sally sent a loaf home with him.
Egypt’s president, Mubarek, nudged by the military, has left office amidst national jubilation.
Speaking of jubilation, fingers and hooves crossed, but it looks like Jasmine has missed two heats.
February 13, 2011 Sunday:
Last night I had extra excitement. Sally was already in bed and I had just organized to go to bed early (9:30 is early for me) and checked the fire in the kitchen fireplace. It had an eerie rumble that sounded a lot like a stack fire. It was cold and dark outside and the garage was closed so I sought a window where I could see at least the roof if not the chimney. Sure, enough, sparks were showering down. I tried to open the garage for a definitive view but was unable to move it. It has been getting harder and harder to roll and Sally has been doing it. I keep a crowbar handy for the task and managed to get it open a foot. There was an alarming display of sparks but no flame showing so I did not call the fire department. I went back into the kitchen and poured a pound of bicarbonate of soda on the fire to discourage it and covered the front of the fireplace with a board that is cut to fit and kept handy. That board is already charred from previous occasions and can only be in place a very few minutes before catching fire but these measures did help, which was fortunate because a great howling wind suddenly came up. Most of the roof has snow on it so I was not very worried but I stayed in the kitchen until 11:30, some time after the last sparks flew up. Of course then I could not get to sleep for a couple more hours. Presumably now the chimney is clean.
There was no way I could shift the carriage house/garage door to close it so had to leave it open. This morning I discovered that some animal had taken advantage of this and gotten into the bin of sunflower seeds and the bin of cat food. I wonder if it could have been a fox. Don’t raccoons hibernate? In any cast, the carriage house is not raccoon proof but is ordinarily fox proof.
Jasmine gave almost 2 gallons this morning. This sudden increase could be due to the new round bale of hay or to my having switched to using my Surge day before yesterday. There is a leak somewhere in the tall bucket milker (deLaval) system and the Surge is working great. Still no signs of heat with Jasmine.
Helen, however, was very much in heat today. She left no question as to who was hormonal.
Sally and I visited DD Marcia for tea at her camp on Lake Webb. She showed us a marvelous painting of a koi she is doing in watercolor on silk. It is about 15×15 inches.
We discussed the sheep and the fact that Agnes, the older ewe (age 2) is beginning to bag up. When she lies down her sides spread way out and her breathing is stertorous. She gives that beached whale appearance that those who have been pregnant remember so well. Susie and Martha, her daughters, also look a lot wider than they did but are not used to being handled so I can’t say if they are bagging up or not. They are 1 year old this month. We agreed that it might be best to start separating them from Bildad at night and instituted this as of tonight. Once they were all inside eating a little bit of grain I opened the door and Bildad popped right out. The instant he realized that he was separated from his ewes he began to attack me. I had to screech for Sally to help drive him off. He has never been aggressive before and did not hurt me but he is after all a ram. He is back in with the cows now but there is a little viewing window in the ewe’s stall so he can sniff noses and once dawn arrives he can see them. February 14, 2011 Monday
Jasmine gave over 2 gallons this morning. The temperature is very mild.
Getting the animals sorted out was troublesome. I was alone and Bildad was all over the place. He could not understand the new system of who was going in and who was going out and he is not readily pushed and turned on me whenever he could not think what else to try. Until he gets the idea, Sally will come out with me when I go to milk. She has always been out earlier and done the watering and feeding and then gives me a head start on milking before she returns.
I am checking Helen for bleed out but saw nothing.
Later: (By DD Sally) I cleaned the garage, made cup custards and chocolate cookies. Lovely grey weather around 20F. Stomped around with Willie in the snow making paths. Took him over to little house and slammed the door of the car on the end of his tail. Oops. He hasn’t forgotten!
Bildad is starting to understand what we want and it all went much better in the evening. 10 eggs.
February 15, 2011 Tuesday:
It was zero this morning but with a strong arctic wind it seemed much colder despite brilliant sun. Dear Jasmine continues to build production. She gave 2 ½ gallons this morning. A problem with the Surge is that with a low full udder the cups scrunch down and stop the milk flow. I ended up milking her fullest quarter all by itself after the others were done so that I could pull the bucket forward and uncrimp the tube. Tomorrow I will milk the front two quarters separately. I got 10 eggs.
Max came over with another round bale. The animals had to go stand out back while he was unloading it into the barn. When Sally let them back in they all crowded through the door in a bunch. I guess they could smell their new hay.
Bildad is adapting to his new schedule of night time separation quite smoothly.
Sally and I made “Oreo cookies” She made thin crispy dark chocolate rolled cookies and I made creamy icing to sandwich them together with. Max liked them a lot and we sent most of them home with him so they could have the extra calories instead of us, ha ha.
Sally also made bread.
February 16, 2011 Wednesday:
We had a roiling rodeo in the barn this morning with everybody going the wrong direction. Sally had forgotten to open a back door that is part of our sorting scheme and wow, everybody except old Helen, who avoids exertion whenever possible, was running the wrong direction and knocking over buckets. This was before I had milked Jasmine so I did my best not to raise my voice. Jasmine hates tension. When things settled down she went right into her stanchion and gave 2 ½ gallons. What a good girl.
One of the workmen from my carriage house project, Eric, came by and fixed the sliding door. It has been getting harder and harder to open to the extent that even Sally was finding it nearly unmovable and I almost failed the other night with my crowbar. He used his Sawzall to take a bit off of the bottom of the door and now it works nicely.
My vet, Dr. Cooper, stopped by and gave Willie dog his rabies shot. We then gave him lunch (Doc Cooper, not Willie). I made eggplant parmesan in the way I have evolved that always makes a big hit. I slice the eggplant and dip it in seasoned beaten egg, then in seasoned flour, then sauté it gently in olive oil until browned on both sides and well cooked. Line up half of the slices in a pan, put a slice of cheese on each and brush with nicely flavored tomato sauce. Top with another slice of eggplant, pour more tomato sauce on and around the stacks and sprinkle on some parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly.
If there are more sautéed slices than needed at once, I freeze the extras. They are then available for a quick repeat of eggplant parmesan or for any number of other applications including “as is” for a tasty accompaniment to meat or omelet.
We tried the Rescue Remedy on Bagel again; he was scratching himself annoyingly and went to sleep as soon as we gave it to him. This time we tried putting it in a little pat of butter. He was a little suspicious but ate it.
Evening barn chores went smoothly. We bring in the three ewes and Bildad for a grain snack. The ewes like their stall so when we open the door to let Bildad out they don’t make a rush. He comes right out like a good boy and goes back to join his other girls, the cows, to whom he is also devoted.
February 17, 2011, Thursday:
Starting today Fern was in heat and doing a lot of jumping around. Everybody was very bored with her but Bildad was willing to play with her. They had fun pushing each other around.
Very beautiful warm weather today, about 40. The dirt roads were melting fast and there was water on the river (just a little). Max spent all day yesterday out snow mobiling with Ernie. Both were completely knackered by the end of the day.
Ernie’s fishing shack was having trouble with too much water around it, and he and Marcia had to race around last night in the dark, and again this morning, trying to move it to more solid ice.
Nathan, the AI technician, had a vast roster of cows to breed all around the state but managed to fit Fern in about 6:30 pm (with another two farms to go). We had the sheep out of the way in their pit stall (called that because it has no proper board floor like the rest of the barn, just sand, and consequently is a foot lower) and got Jasmine and Fern into their tie-ups after a good deal of excitement. Jasmine was highly suspicious of what was going on and Fern was acting like a heifer in heat but eventually we succeeded. Nathan bred Fern to Bellringer (#506JIE171) who is said to carry good cream levels. He was gratified to report that Fern had “lots of slime!”
Over a dozen eggs; 2 ¼ gallons of milk. We made a large pan of first-rate lard today.
February 18, 2011 Friday:
It warmed up today to well over 30F and was actually raining for a while. This of course meant slippery conditions on the path to the barn but neither of us fell. I did nearly fall yesterday when going down the corridor ahead of Jasmine and Fern. Jasmine was moving extra fast because Fern was trying to leap on her. I exited just in time to do what Sally described as a “pier head leap” to avoid being ejected by Jasmine on her way out. I landed on my feet but Sally conjectures that this may account for the fact that the muscles in my right shoulder which have been painful but were gradually mending were worse today. Sally rubbed on Tiger Balm and I took Ibufrofen. I mostly read today. Sally mentioned that our friend Kirsten Green introduced her to Tiger Balm. Sally shoveled a path through the snow on the deck and we sat out there today in the warmish winter sun and drank tea. What fun!
We are going to do a late check on the sheep. Sally observed that Agnes ate little and was staring into the corner. This can be a prelude to lambing. The weather is favorable. Sheep and goats like a damp warmish day for lambing with low barometric pressure.
Jasmine gave almost 2 ½ gallons and we got 15 eggs.
No lambs so far but we left a night light.
February 20, 2011 Sunday:
8° this morning. The sun shone all day but it was cold. Yesterday and all last night there is a strong icy wind.
Max brought me another round bale. The cows like that hay and are stuffing themselves. Jasmine’s production hit 2 ½ gallons one day recently but has dropped back to 2 ¼ . I am having trouble with my right shoulder and have a hard time stripping. The Surge is working well but I have to milk Jasmine’s 2 front quarters first and then do the back because the claw will not fit on all four teats at once. It would be OK if her udder were high off the ground. I probably should send for extension tubing.
We made 1 ½ lbs of good quality butter.
February 21, 2011 Monday:
Still no lambs.
While putting the milking machine together, I noticed the “O” ring was missing, huge search ensued, eventually found substitute. When bringing the cows in, I noticed them staring out the door- the dogs were out and making their escape across the field to the river which is only partly frozen. I started milking while Sally ran after the dogs who decided to come when she called them which was a blessing because they were headed for the river. Not only is the ice never fully safe but if they make it across, as they did last time, they are off the property and away. When they came back she had to flounder down to the garden shed gate through trackless snow to let them in.
Marcia came and took us with her to Rumford to the grocery store; we hadn’t shopped for about two weeks and were out of everything. For the first time they had sushi at the store so we got some. Finally got home at two-thirty, starving, and after lunch Sally went out and fixed the fence where the dogs had gotten out. They’d gotten out because the snowdrifts were quite high and then had crusted over so you couldn’t see the existing fence at all. They’d walked right across the top of it.
Talked to Sally’s daughter Rebecca in Tok, Alaska. She is preparing to go to Fairbanks for two weeks or so, waiting nearer her doctor for the birth of their second baby. They are building a small chicken house at a friend’s in Tok so their chickens can be cared for while they are gone. They rent a small cabin near Fairbanks which they will be living in.
It was 6 above when we got up. Ten eggs today, 2 ¼ gals milk.
February 23, 2011 Wednesday:
Still about zero this morning, and still no babies. Solved the mystery of no buckets when we realized that Fern was throwing them over the divider into an unused stall every morning. Quite a collection. Later I found a new nest in another unused stall, there were eleven eggs in it, some frozen.
Raced around getting ready to go over to Marcia’s for an afternoon early dinner with her, Abby Rose and Ernie, Max and Mitra and family. The kids went ice skating beforehand. Ernie managed to get his ice fishing shack off the lake. It had been melting itself down into the ice and he hasn’t been able to be there to supervise it so thought he’d better haul it in, which he did by towing it with his snow machine. Marcia fixed split pea soup, cornbread, and pumpkin pie. We brought leftover soup home for Mark and Ann and Hailey who arrived here about 6:30 pm. Hailey ate expecting every minute that friends would arrive to pick her up; they were following their GPS in the car and eventually discovered that they had bypassed the farm and ended up about 35 miles away in Livermore Falls, our offers of verbal instruction having been spurned. We adults sat and regaled each other with tales of GPS disasters we have known, people being guided into horrible slums and dark bleak forests.
Two dozen eggs today, 2 ¼ gallons of milk.
February 24, 2011 Thursday:
The three teenagers ended up spending the night here at the farm and we all had a great time- plenty of space, mattresses, and food. All very nice kids. After breakfast they went iceskating- Annie, Mark, and three teenagers. They went to a very nice little ice skating rink in Weld which is a flooded parking lot with a gorgeous view of Lake Webb and Tumbledown Mt. There’s a warming shack and skates for anyone to use who needs them. They all left here about noon. Max also came over briefly bringing more grain and then he went snow machining with Ernie. Very beautiful day.
2 ¼ gals milk; dozen eggs plus we found a new nest. Gave away seven and a half dozen eggs to the friends and relations.
February 25, 2011 Friday:
About 20° when we got up. Still no lambs but Agnes seems to be bagging up more. Started to snow lightly as we came out of the barn and got heavier all day; part of a storm that is burying the Northeast again. Only about 4” here.
Sally’s daughter Rosemary called from Montreal where her flight back from Africa had been rerouted due to the snow in NY; she sounded cheerful. She has been in various sub-Saharan countries, hiking around. We have not yet heard much about the trip except that in Kagali (sp?) she went to a café to email home and the keyboard was in Arabic. We were impressed that her fingers remembered what to do anyway. Sally’s husband Tom called from his job site in Prudhoe Bay where there is a blizzard of epic proportions. He said he and his co-workers had to go together to the cafeteria as it was extremely dangerous with visibility only about six inches, and they could hardly open the door as it was blowing so hard.
Organic Consumers Association has published a letter from a respected scientist Dr. Don Huber to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, warning of a new hazard apparently caused by Round-Up. It appears that its use has resulted in a new organism which may be causing infertility and spontaneous abortion in animals and which also seems to be leading to such problems as sudden death disease in soy. The letter is on the KFC forum in the “In the News” section.
2 ¼ gallons of milk; 14 eggs. Made a nice custard with some of the eggs from the new nest as we don’t like to add them to the boxes to sell.
February 27, 2011 Sunday:
Yesterday Sally started bread and made some into an instant pizza using various things we had around. That’s because we heard Martin and kids were coming. Also I whipped up a nice big pan of black beans for supper. The kids had a wonderful time playing in the playroom with our generations’ worth of toys, as usual. Marcia also came after lunch, and then our friend Kelly with her three children (Kelly is the daughter of Nancy who I wrote about last week when she was sprayed with gasoline). Kelly has a couple of bred heifers but is looking for a goat as an interim milker. Her two daughters and son came out to help with the evening chores in the barn and little William found a new nest.
We got Jasmine’s blood test results; she’s pregnant! Due Sept 16th.
Today, still no lambs. Agnes is bagging up though. It was about 5° with some new snow. Max came by with another round bale that thrilled the cows and sheep- it’s lots of fun herding them outside so he can come in with the tractor carrying the hay. They watch through gaps in the door and race back in as soon as it’s opened. We had fun talking to him but he said he wouldn’t eat our rubber chicken! (It eventually did finish cooking, later on but these Coburn Farm birds are well exercised and the Luick’s have high standards for chicken).
Sally got an exciting box of wool from Beau Chemin farm here in Maine. including white Shetland, Leicester Longwool and about a pound of California Variegated Mutant which is a wonderful fleece she’s never seen before. The wool is very soft, fine and crimpy like Merino, but it’s all colors (in one fleece) from cream to black, including a very lovely café au lait.
Made Irish soda bread for supper using flour I ground from Wood Prairie’s wheat which has a particularly fine flavor, and is grown in northern Maine. The Milkweed periodical says all grains are in short supply worldwide and the price can only go up. Corn is already at an all-time high.
About 2 gallons of milk and so many eggs we lost track.
March 01, 2011 Tuesday:
Great Caesar’s ghost! Another new month. It seems as though February just began. I will interpret this as meaning that Spring is coming soon. Although to be severely realistic, few signs have reached us. Oh wait! Sally heard the chickadee’s spring tweet.
Had a good deal of snow in the night and a huge wind. Ted Flagg showed up with his plow truck as I was about ready to go to the barn, so I left Sally and the dogs to pay him when he was done. Bildad wouldn’t come in the back door, he thought the snow was too deep for sheep, so he came in with the cows, with a large rodeo ensuing; even Helen came in. Eventually I got everybody tied up and the sheep closed in their pit stall except for Helen who sweetly put her head in her old stanchion but the pin was gone so she wandered off. When Sally came down she managed to get Helen to follow her morning chopped apple back into the beefer pen.
Bildad has taken to wanting to explore around the barn on his way back with the others to the beefer pen. He has to be pushed and is very soft and squishy except for his head, which you have to watch out for lest he push back.
Sally found a new nest upstairs with about a dozen eggs, mostly frozen. We had about 18 eggs from the regular nests today, and 2 ¼ gallons of milk- it’s come right back up with the new round bale that Max brought two days ago.
Max and Mitra have a varmint under their hen house which comes up every day and kills another nice young layer or two. They’ve moved the surviving hens to another place and are trying to trap, shoot, or smoke it out! So far they haven’t seen it but are thinking it might be a weasel.
We had a lovely dinner of a Luick chicken, steamed carrots (from storage), cold broccoli salad and frangipani that Sally made.
I am desolated to announce that Sally must leave a month sooner than she had planned due to her house sitter leaving. She will have to go about April 1.
March 03, 2011 Thursday:
Still working on sheep management, trying to work out something that’s easier. Today I held the door and slammed it when the ewes come out, while Sally popped in and put grain in their pan. Then we let them back in, and the ram came in from outside. Much easier than it sounds, or at least easier than the previous arrangement which had me holding the grain bucket up high and trying to get a break in the crowd of heads so I could pour it into their pan.
Raced around getting ready to go to town. Sally had been able to get a cancellation at the eye doctor, to get new contacts. She’s been having awful problems with the old ones. The doctor examined her eyes and announced that if he had eyes that weird, he’d be hoping for cataracts. (!) It is possible during cataract surgery to get new lenses implanted. This is what I have. However, she has no cataracts and nothing else wrong either- her eyes are perfect, (no disease) they just don’t work very well. She is profoundly nearsighted.
Max and Mitra continue to have awful weasel problems. Every day they have more dead young hens even though they had them moved into what they’d thought was a safe place. They have lost at least 12 and are nursing another four or five back to health in the house. Today he went down to the barn and found the weasel in the act of killing one of their ducks and he gave it a good blast with the shotgun but had to avoid killing the duck, so was somewhat inhibited in his aim. He at least hit it but was not sure it was mortal, guess we’ll find out. He found a hole in the wall lined with blood and hair showing that at least one pellet struck.
Sally made a pie with the apples meant for Helen. Max says he’ll bring more but not until the weasel situation is resolved. We expect Martin tonight, hence the pie. He’s bringing a new pump as the water system froze and failed at his camp. He’s planning to sleep at camp even though it is below zero.
Two and ½ gallons of milk, at least a dozen eggs but I lost track. One hen died of old age in the night. She was a very nice Americana and I will miss her.
March 04, 2011 Friday:
It was brutally cold this morning, -20F. DD Sally and I are not quite such good sports about it as we were a month ago. She went out very early to the barn and wrapped the heating pad tightly onto the vacuum pump to encourage it and it gave no trouble. The animals have plenty to eat and all live inside the barn. They do not appear to suffer. In fact they look perfectly contented. However I will need to keep on buying hay. I have only about 50 bales left.
DS Martin stayed here last night but spent the day at camp repairing his water pump which he finally did. I made baked beans using a recipe from the Penzey’s spice catalogue that calls for lima beans. For most of the day I was discouraged with them and was sure the flavor and texture were going to be a disappointment. But after about 8 hours of simmering and baking they turned out creamy and satisfying. I have never tried lima beans that way before and will definitely make them again.
Apart from working on my beans, I spent virtually all day trying to get my email to function. I don’t know how it got so messed up, something allied to changing from Wildblue satellite to Fairpoint broadband. Configuring computers is absolutely not one of my areas of competence. I have to push my brain uphill all the way. I wish for all that mental exertion I were accomplishing something really rewarding like learning French or Spanish. Martin came back here for supper and worked on it for an hour and a half. I hated for him to spend his evening struggling with the darn thing but admit it was gratifying to find that it Wasn’t Just Me. He actually called tech support.
Max and Mitra did not lose any more chickens today nor has the animal reappeared. I think Max must have got him. Judging from its length, 2 ft., we believe it was a marten.
Jasmine gave over 2 gallons and I got 18 or more eggs.
March 05, 2011 Saturday:
Twenty below two days ago; today we woke up to 25 above and dampish. It warmed even more as the day progressed and was raining by evening.
Max was about to leave to come here to help butcher our ram when he heard a ruckus in his barn and saw chickens and ducks racing about. He grabbed his shotgun and ran down to the barn. He wasn’t sure which building to run to (they have several chicken houses) but noticed his cow Nellie was staring at the third little coop, and sure enough the mink was there. It poked its head out and looked at him, retreated and came out somewhere else. If you wait quietly a weasel will come back out and that is what this one did, and Max was able to get a (very) dead shot. They were terribly pleased since they have lost so many of their nice young layers.
Meanwhile Martin was here setting up for the ram butchering. He brought out the tractor so they could tie the carcass to the bucket and raise it up, and found hoses and so on. When Max arrived we gave the ram some grain with ‘rescue remedy’ on it. Max was able to dispatch him with one shot, and the rest of the job went well too. They split the carcass and it is hanging in the cellar.
DIL Amy and Hannah and Henry came over and we had a nice lunch of last night’s leftover beans which the kids liked a lot. Max went with Sally over to her little house to see about fixing a window, but he decided he needed an extension ladder and will return tomorrow probably.
Weather turned into a Scotch mist. One and ¾ gallons of milk today; dozen and a half eggs.
March 06, 2011 Sunday:
Woke to 40° and rain. The driveway is melting fast. We miss our Bildad but I must say it makes everything a lot easier all of a sudden.
We called to see how Sally’s daughter Rebecca is doing. She’s awaiting the birth of her second child in Fairbanks, should be another week or so. The baby is to be born at the family cabin. She was out taking a walk.
Ernie and Abby Rose were at Sally’s little house picking up firewood in the rain. Max came over and brought an extension ladder and covered a gable window which had lost its covering. This was much appreciated. We had concern that if there was any wind, rain would blow in and rot the new ceiling. Sally worked over there too, on the painting.
Max also chopped an ice dam which was blocking drainage on the road. Water was backing up onto the bridge. By evening the giant puddle in our front yard that we call Lake Coburn was getting pretty big and it’s very icy, I have to walk using a ski pole. One and ¾ gallons of milk today; about 20 eggs.
March 07, 2011 Monday:
The weather was the big news. The rain has continued, just a persistent drizzle, but the mercury stayed around 32° all night. The first thing we noticed was fantastic ice decorations on everything we could see from the window. The next thing we noticed was that the garage door was frozen shut. It was sealed with ice at the bottom so would not slide. Since this provides the only practical way to get out of the house the problem had to be solved. Beating on the edge with the back of the maul was clearly useless. I brought a kettle of boiling water and dribbled it along. It took two kettles. Outside was a sea of slush about 4” deep. The big front gate was backed up with slush. I dragged it open as far as I could so that if it froze in position it would not lock us in.
From what I hear, our weather drama is nothing compared to elsewhere in New England. I guess it is national news. I talked to an operator in Reno and she wanted to know what it was like here.
At dusk the landscape was amazing. The sky was soft pink with grey fluffy clouds. Every twig was icy lacework. Flexible trees bent over in an arc. The branches of the great cedar and hemlock by the house are drooping to the ground under their fantastic burden of ice.
Sally single handedly cut and wrapped a quarter of the lamb in no time. It is very fine meat.
Jasmine only gave 1 ½ gallons.
March 08, 2011 Tuesday:
Yesterday’s wet world was frozen solid today. We had cleared the ice and snow from the garage door and it did not stick but the big front gate was frozen open with its bottom edge sunk in ice. Sally worked a long time with salt, the axe and boiling water to free it because when it is open the dogs must be chained. Walking to the barn was tricky. I use a ski pole. When walking out to the bird feeder the crust was so hard that I did not break through at all. The sun shone brilliantly all day.
DS Max brought me another round bale. He worked a long time with the Kubota bucket before he could open the big barn door to the beefer pen and put the hay in. The cows launched themselves into it with a will. Max also replaced a leaky water valve in the barn water system; much appreciated.
We saved Bildad’s skin with the fleece on and it is stretched out in the carriage house loft. Sally sheared a portion of it using a utility knife, which does an excellent job. She washed it right away and is it lovely and foamy looking. She will shear a bit more each day.
Sally finished up cutting the lamb. She gave a piece to Max and also to Marcia, who stopped in. We had chops for dinner. They were top quality. Too late for Sally’s cutting, I found my nifty little book called The Cutting of Meat. I can’t remember where I got it but it has a sticker from a store in Fremantle. It was published in Sydney in 1961 by Angus and Robertson and edited by Frank H Johnston for the Meat and Allied Trades Association of Australia. The forward is entitled, “Meat is Man’s Essential Food”. How times change. This is the only meat cutting guide I happen to have seen that gives separate instructions for cutting mutton.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons. Fern looks to me like she is coming into heat. Phooey. Thursday is marked on the calendar.
March 09, 2011 Wednesday:
It was back down to zero this morning. Treacherous ice patches abound but so far none of us has fallen. The rolling garage door was frozen shut again but was freed with one kettle of boiling water.
After milking I ground the lamb that was set aside for this purpose. There is not very much, only five packages.
The optometrist called with a cancellation at 1:30 which suited Sally just fine now that she has a contracted schedule for leaving. She now has new contact lenses which filled her with joy. We left home in time to do errands including stops at two thrift shops. I was pleased to get a pair of English stoneware plates with an ornamental green border at the free store. Sally admired them and I gave them to her. It would be impossible for me to make a case for needing more plates. At the What Not shop I got three thin porcelain mugs. These are so hard to find. I favor them because they don’t chill one’s coffee or tea. Sally got a pair of pants with which she is delighted. When we got home we raced out to the barn to refill the water tub and check for lambs (none yet!) and so I could take a look at Fern. There is no least sign of heat. She was by herself chewing her cud. For my next trick I collapsed on the couch and tried to think of something to fix for supper that appealed to me enough to make me get off my back but failed in this. Sally rose to the occasion with a nice quiche.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons and there were 19 eggs.
March 10 Thursday:
Woke to rainy slush, generally nasty. Big barn door was frozen shut again but opened more easily. Still no lambs. No signs of Fern in heat, hurrah.
Sally shaved more wool off the sheep hide upstairs in the carriage house (very nice lighting up there these days.) Then she went over to her house and chose a most inadequate chair to inspect a nail high in the wall, and smashed right through the chair, a most spectacular crash she said. No apparent immediate damage to her to everyone’s surprise (that would be her and the dogs) but the chair turned to kindling. She bruised her hip and wrist. Got 24 eggs (a first) and over two gallons of milk. Did the evening chores early and went to a meeting. Because of chores we did not attend the public supper that preceded the meeting but Sally sent pumpkin pies made with one of our own pumpkins.
The meeting was conducted by the DEP (Maine Department of Environmental Protection) to assess people’s objections to an industrial wind farm on our local mountain, Saddleback, and other nearby mountains. There were many expert witnesses including a civil engineer who has constructed many such facilities all over the US and who warned strongly against them. He said that wind farms are all very well in desolate areas without striking natural beauty. He said that Maine’s permitting rules are a joke. A local doctor told us that a petition signed by physicians from all over Maine expressed serious concerns about low-frequency sound such as wind farms emit. There is evidence that they cause severe health problems. He said that their petitions have been ignored. A real estate saleswoman said that she can’t even get buyers to look at property anywhere near where they know a wind farm is proposed. Some local residents said they were definitely putting their property on the market even though they know they will take a loss. Property values will be severely debased. The owner of a popular retreat/tourist center said his guests come to get away from industrialization and he expects to be severely impacted. And many local residents expressed their outrage at loss of our wild areas, and damage to wildlife (deer, birds, bats) and it is very clear that visual impacts extend far beyond the eight mile radius which is all the DEP is authorized by the State to consider, under the new expedited procedures pushed through by our last governor (who left to start a windpower development company). The easy money comes from the Federal Stimulus Fund which is paying for the destruction of our beautiful hills with our tax dollars. If the DEP gives its approval this will remove the last impediment to construction of this wind farm. There are already other wind farms in Maine and to date the DEP has approved them all.
The meeting went on so long that Sally did not get her turn to talk but she left her written remarks with the moderator. Among speakers at the meeting whom we knew were Bernt Heinrich and Rand Stowell. Rand’s family has been in this area even longer than mine. I think he said since 1790. The Sills family began coming here in 1885 and my grandparents began buying property in 1902.
March 11, 2011 Friday:
It barely froze last night. The garage door was not stuck shut. I overslept a bit and Sally and I were both tired because of getting home late from the wind power meeting.
We listened to the radio more than usual because of the sad news of an earthquake of 8.9 on the Richter scale, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan. There is terrible loss of life mostly from the following tsunami. It reminded me that there was an earthquake when my parents were living in Osaka before I was born. That was about 1927. Obviously it was not this bad but in those days houses were made of paper and bamboo. Bamboo is tough but there were many fires due to the inflammable construction. My mother was very frightened.
DS John called from Adelaide. His son Jack is living in Tokyo 500 miles from the epicenter of the quake but he was able to feel it.
Jasmine gave over 2 gallons today.
March 12, 2011 Saturday:
It did not freeze last night. Ice in the driveway is starting to melt but is still treacherous under the slush. DD Sally has been working on interior painting at her little house, as she does every time the weather warms enough to make painting feasible. The house is close to the river bank but high up. She says that she can now hear water running strongly.
DS Max came over and brought me my feed and lots of apples for Helen. She gets an apple a day in lieu of grain. The apples are local and looked so good that Sal whipped out a classic pie. DD Marcia stopped in for her milk and eggs and had a slice.
Max says that Sophie, Queen of Swine, is feeling better but they think it’s likely she aborted her litter. She was bred about a month ago. Nobody knows what made her sick although Max thinks maybe she ate some of the rug he nailed up over the entrance to her house.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
March 13, 2011 Sunday:
It remained above freezing last night and over 40° all day. Large sections of the driveway ice have gotten punky but we are told to expect the temperature tonight to drop back into the single numbers.
By the evening the critters had finished off the round bale that Max brought last Tuesday. Sally had to put down a square bale tonight.
I got disgusted with the review I have been working on of Meat: the benign extravagance and started over. Some of my favorite sentences had to go to the graveyard of charming remarks but it had to be. One has always to ask oneself, am I more interested in being clever or in being clear?
Also today I made a batch of rolls from a recipe that appeared in the King Arthur flour email newsletter. They are European style crusty hard rolls with soft centers and they turned out, if anything, prettier that the accompanying picture. Even Sally, the peerless baker, was impressed. I created a moist rising box for them by inverting a large roasting pan over the cookie sheet on which they were rising and lifting it periodically to give them a spritz.
March 15, 2011 Tuesday:
Yesterday Max came over bringing a new roll of hay, very popular. He also brought us 4 bags of feed, and I cut open a fine pineapple to give him; it was very good. He also had one of my crusty rolls, reheated, and expressed admiration.
For dinner we had some scallops from the freezer poached in lobster butter that I had frozen after our last lobster feed, very yummy.
Yesterday: Two gallons of milk; 17 eggs.
Today was a truly lovely day, about 10 ° when we got up but soon shot up to 40. All the animals are still enjoying their new hay, and also a tub we set up to catch water off the roof. They love that fresh water. Still no lambs though! Ernie and Abby Rose came over and said they would help shear- Ernie says he has done this before, amazingly enough. Ernie seems to have done everything!
Sally took the dogs on a couple of walks down the road. Willie found a nice new hole dug out by an early woodchuck. He was very pleased. So was Bagel.
Lots of snow melted; the driveway is now mostly free of snow and ice.
We brought up several buckets of potatoes and huge carrots from winter storage and are going over them making sure they are doing ok. Most are.
One and ¾ gallons of milk, 17 eggs plus 9 eggs from a new nest that I found in the front wall of the barn.
March 16, 2011 Wednesday:
Temperature about 20° this morning. It started to snow at first light and has continued all day. It is wet “snowman snow”, not that I have been out playing in it.
Jasmine gave over 2 gallons. We kept the sheep inside. All three ewes are so pregnant that it seems impossible for them to go another day but then they do.
The big news around here is that Sally’s DD Rebecca had her baby. It was born last night at 8:30 following a 3 hour labor but with the 4 hour time difference, Rebecca did not call until this morning. It was a 9lb 12oz boy, very hungry and vigorous. He was born in the cabin that the McGuire’s keep in Fairbanks, rather than in Tok where they live. Tok is very remote. Rebecca’s husband Torsten and her midwife and two other midwives that are friends of the first were all present but little Torleif stayed with friends. The baby does not yet have a name. They had not requested to know the sex of the baby but Sally was sure it was a boy.
When Sally’s DD Rosemary got the news via a phone message she called from the Gulf of Alaska where she is cook on a fishing boat. Rafe called from the NV desert where he and SallyB are working on the turtle survey. Grandpa Tom called from Prudhoe Bay.
Dr. Cooper stopped by for lunch. I gave him lamb chops and a cole slaw and made my instant ice cream. That’s the one where I put frozen strawberries in the Cuisinart with cream and blend it. It makes a perfect softy ice cream but has to be served immediately.
I made another attempt at munojuusto, Finnish egg cheese. I studied some more recipes on the internet before proceeding. This time it turned out what appears to be about right. I have it now pressing overnight.
The news from stricken Japan continues to be shocking and terrifying. But they did find a 4 month old baby girl in the rubble still in good shape and wrapped in her fuzzy pink snuggle. They were even able to find her parents. Survivors are very few.
March 17, 2011 Thursday:
The day started at about 10F but very soon warmed up to about 30F.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons. I spied a hen going into a hole in the barn wall but neither Sally nor I can reach in there. A couple of eggs rolled out during our poking around with a long spoon. We finally gave up.
Sally and I are both coughing and wheezing. We are steaming our faces with cedar tea. It definitely helps for 15 minutes or so.
Sally made bread using the local flour from a farm in Biddeford. She also made a mixed fruit crisp. Marcia came by and brought us some corned beef so I was able to make a St. Patrick’s Day meal including potatoes, onions and carrots.
It was warm enough to sit out on the deck.
Rebecca sent a couple of pictures of her second son. He looks like her. In fact Sally says she had a picture of newborn Rebecca that is the spittin’ image.
March 18, 2011 Friday:
Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning. I could not get all the eggs. The new favorite nest is inside a wall where neither Sally nor I can reach.
The sheep puzzled us very much today. All three were lying down with their chins on the ground and not blatting. I said they were either dying or lambing. They barely moved all morning but Sally, who had more sheep experience than I, said their behavior was not normal lambing behavior. We racked our brains to think of anything different they might have eaten. Nothing came to mind. We kept them in. This evening they were back to normal, blatting away.
There was a violent warm wind storm and the power was out for an hour or two.
I have a bad cold. None of us can remember the last time I was sick. The only thing I can think of that may have impacted my immune system is that I have been taking a lot of ibuprofen for my strained arm. Anyway, it’s off to bed with a box of tissues. Sally also has a cold but so far not as bad. We are both breathing steam from a pan of boiled cedar greenery. We agree that it is helpful.
March 19, 2011 Saturday:
Didn’t freeze last night. Lake Coburn was very high but drained away this morning through a channel the boys made a few years ago. Still no lambs but the sheep seem fine, we hope.
Sally and I both still have bad colds so we didn’t do too much- mine is worse than hers though. I baked beans over last night and today stewed a rooster so we have broth. I staggered up from the couch in the afternoon to shred a lot of carrots with the Cuisinart. I made carrot salad and Sally made carrot cupcakes. I lay down most of the day except when we had visits from Martin and Marcia.
Sally walked the dogs in the North Field as the snow is nearly gone; the dogs loved it. Willie found the head of a long-dead rooster and carried it around until they got back. Sally killed a rooster that has been pushing his luck for a long time. He’s now aging in the refrigerator.
Max reported on their first maple syrup. They have a few taps. I think they got almost 2 quarts.
Two gallons of milk, two dozen eggs. We made a start on freezing quart-size containers of milk against the day that we dry Jasmine off.
March 20, 2011 Sunday, Spring Equinox:
I can’t begin to tell you how many eggs we got today. At least 3 dozen. I found two more fresh nests with 6 or 7 each and Sally found a third upstairs.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons.
It was cold again this morning, down around 10°, but the sun came out and soon warmed things up about 30°, maybe even 40° for a bit. The cows walked out into the sheep paddock to check the bare brown grass for possible sprouts. I don’t believe they found any.
I managed to flounder down to the veg garden. Enough snow had melted to permit opening the gate. Nothing to report in the garden but Sal found the tips of daffodils up by the pond. In spring I look out of my bedroom window every morning to see it there is a touch of yellow.
Agnes, the older ewe, might really be starting to lamb. There was a bit of blood around her vulva. We just did a late check but learned nothing.
Sally’s DD Rebecca called to tell us that he baby now has a name: Halfdan Viggo (Pronounced veego)
Sal and I are both still pretty sick. Sal actually lay down and slept for a while today. I was on the couch much of the day but did get up and made chicken soup.
March 21, 2011 Monday:
I overslept and the first thing I knew this morning was Mitra reporting that they had just had a scary chimney fire. She had taken DD Shireen to some very early obligation at school and came home to find the yard full of fire trucks. No bad damage occurred, and of course Max was there to report it, but it came as a surprise because they had had their chimney cleaned and do not burn green wood.
Big news from Agnes, my 2 year old Suffolk ewe. While I was milking, and Sally was watching her, she gave birth to triplets. They are all lively and perfect. I was surprised that they turned out white, unlike the pure Suffolks last year, which were black at birth.
These have some black streaks that Sal called badger markings. We watched carefully to make sure all sucked, which they did, judging from the bobbing heads and wagging tails. All 3 seem equally vigorous. We removed the 2 younger ewes, Susie and Martha, age 1 year, but later let them back in because of their blatting. After observing them for a few minutes we ceased to trust them with the babies and moved them back out again. I am not sure how we will manage when they lamb. I don’t have any more stalls. Agnes is being an excellent mother. Sal says it is unusual for the ewe to stand so quietly for the lambs to suck.
I still have a bad cough. Sally’s is pretty bad too. I just remembered that last summer I made elderberry cordial and it’s supposed to be good for coughs. I just took a good snort. Very tasty, but I am still coughing.
It is a good thing we did our walking around yesterday. At noon today it started to snow and has not stopped. It is accumulating. I just heard the plow go by. The temp is hovering between 20° and 30° so I doubt it will last. It may turn to rain.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons. Lots of eggs. I have run out of boxes and am filling bowls.
March 22, 2011 Tuesday:
Very changeable spring weather today. It got down to about 20° last night. The world was covered in new snow and would have been a fine sight in December, today, not so much. The sun was out for several hours and melted as much as it could.
Max brought a new round bale. I gave him lunch. He brought his camera and took pictures of Agnes and one lamb. Two were napping and I didn’t like to make them get up and play. Sally says they are all girls. It is a bit hard to keep track of them so it is possible one will turn out to be male. They are ever so cute.
Sally and I are still coughing. It is hard to sleep or even lie down because this makes the cough start. It is quiescent when I am walking or sitting. So annoying. I continue to be impressed with the efficacy of steamed cedar needles for head clearing and I think also for suppressing secondary bacterial infection.
I gave Max 7 dozen eggs and already have another 6. Sally found a nest high on the hay.
Jasmine gave less than 1 ¾ gallons.
March 24, 2011 Thursday:
Yesterday, Wednesday, Jasmine gave about 1 ½ gallons but today, reflecting the new round bale, she gave 2 gallons. It is good hay and it is ad lib whereas with my square bales there are times when they are out of hay.
The sheep and lambs continue to be fine. The lambs are getting bouncy. Although primarily white, each lamb has slightly different markings which will help when I get around to naming them.
It snowed some more yesterday and again today. We wish it would stop. I talked to sister Barby in CA last night. She said that it seems the rain never stops.
Sally says my cough sounds better. I think hers does too.
I made a big pot of soup for supper.
DS John sent me an article he wrote for a science magazine in Australia that gives a clear explanation of the PNG (Papua New Guinea) court case at which he was an expert witness regarding likely effects of dumping mine tailings. There are international implications. Here is the link: http://www.sciencealert.com.au/features/20112403-21988.html
March 25, 2011 Friday:
It was cold again this morning. We had a few periods of sunshine but mostly it was overcast and snowing lightly.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons and I got 19 eggs.
Marcia came down for a nice visit after which Sally and I went out and put Elastrator rings on the lambs’ tails. They acted very disturbed afterwards, a reaction Sally had never previously observed. We decided to put Rescue Remedy in their mouths. Don’t know if it helps or not.
I am not coughing as much today. I did make some progress on my book review.
I have some marvelous frozen Maine shrimp from Martin and Amy. We decided to have some of it tonight and it was a real treat. I shredded and sautéed a leek and some radicchio before adding the shrimp and a few seasonings. I deglazed the pan with the juice from some home canned tomatoes and served it over rice. It was really good. Sally made a crisp with mixed fruit.
DS John called from AU. He is hoping for as wide distribution as possible of the story about the PNG mining, particularly of the highly inappropriate Scotch involvement.
March 27, 2011 Sunday:
Yesterday we got two gallons of milk and today it was two and a quarter. Cold both days, not that the animals mind. The sheep and lambs are very warm in their stall. Yesterday we got two dozen eggs and today it was only eighteen so we know they are hiding some.
Went for a fine Saturday supper at Marcia’s at the lake. The Grohman’s stayed in Biddeford but the Luick’s came. Mitra was a bit late as she had to pick up Roshan after her rehearsal for an orchestral performance today. Roshan plays the cello. Marcia made a fine moussaka and lemon ice cream; both very fine.
Today we agreed that Helen seems not to have any pain in her feet at all- very exciting. We have been feeding her chopped apples and carrots for a long time, generally adding wheat germ oil and turmeric (a known anti-inflammatory). Lately it’s been mostly carrots and we think that was key. Her feet hurt her so much it was painful to watch her, so this is very gratifying.
We gave dear Willie a bath. He is remarkably brave about this but it took him all afternoon to get dry (the house was not very warm today with this nasty raw blowy weather).
We read an article in Northern Woodlands (by Todd McLeish) about an extract (shikimic acid) of white pine which is used to produce ‘Tamiflu’, the flu medication made by Roche. Apparently the other important source of this extract is star anise from China. So we picked some white pine branchlets and made tea to accompany our cedar tea- we have found both to be very helpful for our congested chests. The research on white pine is being done by a chemistry professor at University of Maine, Ray Fort.
March 28, 2011 Monday:
Another windy day, all fine in the barn, little sheep growing like crazy. Helen has taken to opening the door from the beefer pen with her nose while I am milking and peering into the rest of the barn, evidentially trying to decide whether or not to come join the fun. This will not be fine if she comes in heat so Sally is trying to persuade me to lock that door while I milk.
Abby Rose and Ernie came by while we were getting ready to go to town. We gave them some shrimp from my freezer since they’d been unable to get lobster rolls in town. AR looks great; she has about five weeks to go until delivery. While we were gone Max came with another fine round bale. When we came back we let the sheep and the lambs into the beefer pen with the cows so they could all enjoy the round bale together. This was the babies’ first outing. They also went out into the sun and hopped around. At one point Agnes was calling them from one side of Fern who was resting and the babies came hopping across; Fern didn’t move or even look particularly surprised.
Twenty eggs; 1 ¾ gallons of milk.
March 29, 2011 Tuesday:
After milking we put the sheep and lambs out with the cows to feast on the new round bale. One of the babies got tangled up with Jasmine’s feet- she kept trying to step over it and it would leap about and get tangled up with her other foot as she tried to step away. Finally Sally managed to catch it and held it for a minute to get its heart rate down; Jasmine came and examined it carefully to see if it was all right. When Sally gave it back to its mother, Jasmine went way around the other side of the hay ring where Agnes was munching and butted her hard, like, “Can’t you take any better care of your lambs than that??” Later on after breakfast we went out to check them and they were lying in the sun of the back door- two were snuggled up next to Agnes and one was lying right on top, going up and down with her every breath.
Sally spent most of the day getting ready to leave in the morning but we took a nice little garden tour out in the sun. Went down to the vegetable garden and looked for any little sprouts coming up, and admired the young trees that we got from the Arbor Day Foundation last year which I had put in a little nursery bed. We put extra dirt around their feet which were a bit exposed. There are patches of bare ground with a muddy surface. Then we admired various bulbs that are coming up.
In the late afternoon Marcia visited; we had a cup of tea and discussed events. Marcia volunteered to take Sally partway tomorrow to where it will be more convenient for Mitra to pick her up.
Milk was only a little over one and 1½ gallons; got 20 eggs.
March 30, 2011 Wednesday:
DD Marcia came and picked up DD Sally this morning and drove her over to Wilton to meet up with DIL Mitra who drove her to the bus station in Portland. From there she got the bus for Boston for her flight home. She is to overnight in Portland OR, then tomorrow morning fly to Seattle where she changes for Juneau AK. Tomorrow in Juneau she has a reservation on the Cessna for a flight to Haines. There she will be picked up by her friend Judy or possibly some other friend and driven the 10 miles out to Lutak. It is a long and arduous journey. I do hope that she finds her house and animals in good order. I know she is worried about her sheep. I also hope that security did not confiscate very much of her food. Perhaps this year her car will not be lost under 4ft. of snow. It is such a disappointment that her house sitter left. She had hoped to stay here until winter was over both here and in Haines. Willie Dog is clearly depressed.
Marcia stopped in here this afternoon for tea and brought me some meatloaf and cornbread for supper.
The sun shone brightly all day but a heavy snowstorm is predicted for tomorrow night.
The animals are all fine. The lambs stay right with the ewes when I let them in and out. They are growing at an amazing rate.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons despite trouble with the machine. One of the little air hoses came loose and with the poor light and my poor vision it took a while to reconnect. Sally was there this morning to help jam it together. I got only 14 eggs. I need some inspirations on where else to look for hidden nests.
March 31, 2011 Thursday:
I got up about an hour earlier because of being alone. Everything went pretty well. I did institute what I thought might be an easier system with the sheep, just putting them out earlier to feed and water with the cows, then bringing them back in at milking time which is an hour later after I have eaten breakfast. They are easy to move. All I need do is open the door and say “Sheep sheep” and they all surge back in. When I called them I foolishly failed to note that two of the lambs were off playing somewhere and were not with the group so this resulted in a temporary chaos. Jasmine deeply disapproves of chaos so of course she had to poop.
DD Marcia’s SIL Ernie stopped in and insisted I think of some useful chore for him. I managed to remember our kindling shortage. He fired up my chainsaw, shortened up some old rough lumber and split enough for a month of fires in no time. Thanks Ernie! We are told to expect a proper blizzard tonight so may lose power. I will be glad for the kindling.
DD Sally has reached Juneau and is about to board the Cessna for Haines. She was in pretty good shape, considering. She took a bunch of aspirin so that she would not be in pain from sitting so long. Also we are told it prevents airborne blood clots.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons and I got 20 eggs.
April 01, 2011 Friday, April Fool’s Day:
As predicted, it was snowing when I got up and it kept up all day. It was heavy, wet snow that coated the trees and fences. I’d say we got 8 inches. It slowed down at dusk. There was wind too. I did not hear much praise for the beauty of this storm.
Marcia came down for milk and said the roads were scary. She slid across the road at one point but fortunately no other cars were nearby. She did not stay long at the farm. She just wanted to get home. Ernie plowed their road.
I talked to Sally at home in Haines. Her ewe and lamb are in very poor condition, grievously underfed. It is rather surprising that the lamb is still alive. My own experience has been that it is impossible for people inexperienced with animals to reliably take care of animals no matter how well meaning they are. I suppose a ewe under a 6 inch fleece does not look emaciated. I hope the fleece isn’t ruined. Sally says it is stark and dry.
My animals are all fine except they don’t think much of their hay. The square bales I have left are scrappy looking. Weather permitting, Max will bring another round bale tomorrow.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons. I got 18 eggs.
April 02, 2011 Saturday:
It got up to 40F today with periods of strong sun. The new snow is now floating on a sea of mud and slush. The animals spent most of the day outdoors and even went on a little adventure over here to see their old run-in under the buttery. The lambs now leap and gambol like mountain goats.
DD Marcia stopped in for more milk and eggs and brought me some of their shrimp curry from last night. Yum. We went to the barn and she scouted out two nests with a total of about 2 dozen eggs. Max also came with a round bale. He repositioned the hay ring outdoors in the barnyard behind the barn. The deep bedding in the beefer pen is getting so thick that it is hard to maneuver the tractor bucket in there. The critters were all delighted to have it outdoors. I just hope we don’t get too much rain or snow on it. Max also brought chicken wire to close off access of chickens to my milking area. They have been roosting over the stanchions and making a mess that I have to clean daily. I am so glad to have this improvement.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons. Mostly likely tomorrow she will be back up to 2 gallons on the new hay.
April 03, 2011 Sunday:
I went out for my early run to the barn, 7am, not all that early having overslept. The sun was shining brightly, it was colder and yesterday’s tractor ruts and corrugated tire tracks were now all ice and quite treacherous. I first looked in on the sheep to see if there had been an increase and there was. Martha had twins. They were still damp with dripping cords dangling. I let the other sheep out so she could stay quiet. She was making sweet calling noises to her lambs. These are her first but she has now had a couple of weeks of watching her mother’s example. Both lambs were walking around.
I went back in to get my milking machine ready and eat breakfast and came back out less than an hour later. As I reached the barn I could hear a lamb bleating piteously. By golly one of these newborns had hopped into the water bucket! It was standing up in water to its belly but its back was dry and of course it had no idea how to get out. Martha was making worried noises. I dried it off and set it by its mother but it seemed discouraged and its efforts to find a teat seemed unfocused. As the day went on it perked up. Marcia came down and we sat and watched it for a long time. We were pretty sure it sucked but could not be certain. My ewes have full fleeces and the two younger ewes, Martha and Susie have tails; none of them were crutched. Marcia hung the water bucket a bit higher; it already swung 4 inches about the floor so the whole thing is astonishing. I sat in there twice more during the day and by evening my confidence is high that it has fed. In fact I was no longer sure which was which any more. I put the rest of the flock back in with Martha and nobody was mean to the babies so I think they will be OK. I rather expect Susie to have hers tonight. She is enormous.
Perhaps due to the lambing excitement Jasmine gave only 1 ½ gallons.
April 04, 2011 Monday:
One of the new twin lambs looked feeble first thing this morning. After milking I called Marcia to come over and help me to get him sucking. By the time she got here he had collapsed and looked in the mood to die. She brought him into the house and she stood by the fire with him wrapped in a blanket while I dribbled this morning’s milk into him with a turkey baster. After about an hour and a half of this he was noticeably revived and peed all over her. Her DD Abby Rose (expecting in May) was longing for Marcia to bring the lamb home for her to care for, which she did. Her husband Ernie was in town and stopped for lamb supplies. Before the afternoon was half over Marcia called to say that the lamb was bounding around the living room.
The other lamb acted like it was sucking off and on all day but nonetheless it is not very strong and does not look quite happy. Its mother does her very best but I won’t be surprised if it is down by morning. I will go out early to look at it. Marcia hopes to bring hers back tomorrow to see if we can graft it back onto its mother.
It was a miserable 32° all day with alternate light snow and light rain. This weather is getting annoying.
Jasmine gave almost 2 gallons today. Lots of eggs.
April 05, 2011 Tuesday:
The little female lamb that remained with its mother was friskier this morning. Marcia and Ernie and Abby Rose brought back the male twin that I am calling Bilboy for now, wearing a plaid Chihuahua coat. He is amazingly recovered, a regular miracle. DD Abby who is back up visiting Marcia took on his feeding. She is noted for attentive animal care. Marcia worked with the lambs and got them both sucking for a long time. When she set Bilboy down he ran to his mother and tried to nurse but she butted him. Marcia and Ernie then put a collar and rope on Martha and she stood very well. Marcia and Ernie came three times today to assist with the lambs and plan to come again later this evening.
I decided it was best not to confuse Martha and the twins by letting the other 2 ewes and the triplets in with them so these are spending the night in the main aisle of the barn with access to hay in a small stall that had the pullets in it. The pullets are among the explosion of egg layers. They have all moved out to roost on the extension ladder.
It was drizzly and about 32° all day, miserable weather. The cows and sheep spent the day outside on the round bale unfazed. The triplets stay in the run-in most of the time.
Marcia and Ernie came back at 9pm and we tied up the ewe – turns out to be Susie not Martha – and allowed Bilboy to feed for about 45 minutes. He is persistent.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
April 06, 2011 Wednesday:
Colder today with mostly sun but also snow flurries.
Jasmine gave over 2 gallons. I found a lot of eggs and a nest pretty much over my head in the main aisle of the barn. It was overflowing and eggs were falling to the floor. Lucky I didn’t get one on my head.
Bilboy and Sheila were walking around shoulder to shoulder this morning and seemed in good shape. Later Bilboy seemed to fade a bit. Ernie worked a long time supervising Susie so he could suck but no telling how much he got. (I figured out that the mom is Susie, not Martha)
April 08, 2011 Friday:
Everything has been about saving lambs. The original triplets from Agnes, the older ewe, are doing fine and spend the day playing king of the mountain on the round bale. Susie’s twins now seem stabilized. The one twin that all Marcia’s family spent so much time warming and feeding, the one that was set back by jumping into the water bucket, now is reattached to its mom and she accepts it. The third ewe, Martha, had twins early this morning. By the time I got to the barn one was dead. I brought it in and warmed it on the Aga and later Marcia came and massaged it and tried to revive it for a long time but it was hopeless. Unfortunately it was the only ram lamb. Its twin is feeble but is making an effort. When I got to it, it had just been born and Martha was pawing at it, just pawing and pawing. I rather think that is what killed the little ram as it had a small cut on its head.
Marcia worked for a long time helping the surviving twin, a female, to suck both this morning and again this afternoon after we got back from my dental appointment. DS Martin and DIL Amy and the kids came up from Biddeford bringing lovely haddock for our dinner. In fact they brought the entire dinner. It was that or pizza. I was tired and had no time. Amy made a lovely salad. After dinner Martin went to the barn and worked for a long time helping the lamb and I think it got some more milk.
The weather today was pleasant. Everyone was grateful for it. I heard cackling and saw a pair of geese circling the sky.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
April 09, 2011 Saturday:
The youngest lamb, Martha’s that was born yesterday, was cold and weak this morning. Martin stopped in to help care for it. He brought it in to the house and warmed it up by the Aga and fed it some Jersey milk and it revived in an hour or so. We all took turns today helping it to nurse from Martha and by evening it was so normal that it was toddling around exploring. Martha is very attentive but does not stand still very well for it to nurse. I think it will continue to be necessary for us to tie her up a few times a day until the lamb can move faster.
We let Susie and her twins outside for a few minutes in the sunshine. The triplets descended on her to steal her milk, the naughty things. They are at a wonderfully cute stage now. I think they must weigh at least 20 lbs and are so clean and bouncy, I feel like putting bow ribbons on them.
I made a loaf of bread and a lima bean casserole. Willie and I took a stroll around the lawn and garden. Spring is still mostly a promise around here but ¾ of the snow is gone.
April 10, 2011 Sunday:
This was a fine warm day. It was over 40° and sunny and a lot more snow melted.
Because of my need for extra help with lamb rescue there has been an unusual amount of coming and going during morning chores and Jasmine hates this. For three days she has been reluctant to come in for fear of cow traps. This morning she pooped twice after I got her into her stanchion and she only gave 1 ¾ gallons.
Susie’s lamb which seemed so well last night was in bad shape this morning. It had gotten off behind some things and spent the night stuck in a draughty place. Martin brought it into the kitchen and warmed it up and fed it a bottle. Its chest is rattle-y. Several times today Marcia or Martin or I worked to get it sucking from its mother with fair success. I gave it the stall I have been using for Agnes and her triplets as it is safer. Now Agnes will be in the main aisle and I will have a big rodeo when I try to bring Jasmine through but it can’t be helped.
We all convened for dinner at Marcia’s camp. Martin could not join us because he needed to stay at his camp with Henry who has a cold and didn’t want to be awaked from his nap. We saved him some leftovers. It was a fine dinner. DD Abby made stuffed bell peppers, DIL Amy made a lovely salad and Marcia made an orzo pilaf. For dessert Abby made a pineapple upside down cake soaked in plum sauce and topped with hard sauce. We all congratulated granddaughter Abby Rose on her coming baby due in a month. DIL Amy brought a basket of toys for Baby Violet.
Shireen has a weekend job now at a plant nursery. What a lucky break for her. She is a good worker. The nursery is the “day job” of Roshan’s cello teacher and this is the busy time of year.
There is now about 20 ft of open water around the edge of the lake.
Martin and Amy stopped by here on their way home to pick up their milk and eggs. As they were leaving they got stuck in my dooryard. They don’t call it mud season for nothing. I brought my bucket of sand and my blue plastic mud tracks to help with traction but it took about 15 minutes of effort.
April 11, 2011 Monday:
It was even warmer today. It was over 50° most of the day with hazy sun. I had an eye appointment but after we got home (DD Marcia drove me) we put Susie and her twins, Sheila and Lambchop outside to play. They were so happy. They are still very small so I checked them frequently. Agnes’ triplets cavorted around amazingly. First they are standing and looking at each other, then they leap straight up into the air like chamois. Then they do it three or four more times for the pure joy of being wooly white lambs. Agnes was busily grazing. Only a sheep could nibble grass as short as that which is coming up. You can barely see it. But she clearly chose it over hay.
Martha stayed in with her one rather weak lamb to which she is intensely devoted. It has some sort of weakness in its hind quarters and sometimes cannot get up from lying down. When I stood it up it went right to nursing and after some initial circling Martha stood steady. I froze in position so as not to alarm her. I think the lamb is getting enough. The rattle in her chest is barely noticeable today. I put Agnes and the triplets in tonight with Susie and the twins and Martha now has a room of her own that has few drafts.
The eye doctor says I have some further loss of vision. I lost one line on the eye chart.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons and we got countless eggs.
April 12, 2011 Tuesday:
This was a fine sunny spring day. I lay out on the deck for a while and read my new Nora Ephron book, “I Remember Nothing”.
Jasmine gave a bit under 2 gallons.
Last night the cows were pretty near out of hay and this morning they were all out in the hay ring. I threw down some square bales from the loft but they ignored it. It is the old stuff. The sheep nibbled around the edges and can get right inside the ring for the last bit. The cows went off on an excursion to the farthest point in the River Field, all the way around by the blackberry bushes to look for grass. Max came around noon with a fresh round bale. As soon as they heard the tractor start up they knew it was their hay and they began a stampede for the barnyard with Jasmine leading off running like a pony, Fern at her shoulder and Helen galumphing along behind. Max can’t have them there when he is off loading the bale so when he saw them coming he ran top speed to close the field gate and barely got it in time. He ran so fast he lost his hat. Max doesn’t like that.
Later Max and Marcia’s SIL Ernie walked down by the river to have a look at a tree that has fallen and is crushing the fence. Max says there is a cord of wood. They will cut it up and repair the fence.
Ernie made a door upstairs in the barn to keep chickens from getting to the hay. They love hiding nests in there and I am getting too old to wobble around on the bales. He also made a better closing for the buttery door. All winter I have been bracing it shut with a gardening fork. Now it can be barred in the historic way.
April 13, 2011 Wednesday:
Spring has taken a step backwards. All day we had cold rain with the thermometer hanging around 32°. The lambs stay dry but all the sheep were ready to go to bed by 5:30.
Martha’s lamb is getting playful.
I have always read that having an undocked tail and thick wool around the udder interferes with the lamb’s suckling. This has not proven to be the least problem with these Suffolk ewes and lambs. Their skin is bare on their inner thighs and the lambs duck right under the tails if they feel like it. The tails are not especially dirty either. But I will watch carefully for fly strike this summer, just in case, although the fly problem here is minimal. The only thing that interferes with the lamb’s feeding is the fact that the ewes mostly don’t stand still. A few days ago when we had to assist the lambs we hitched up the ewes for 15 minutes or so several times a day. DD Sally says she has noticed with her lambs that mostly they have to catch it on the fly.
April 15, 2011 Friday:
This morning I skipped milking. My dentist offered me a cancellation for 10am today and there is no way I could take it (he’s 40 minutes away) and still get milking chores done without getting up at 4:30. So we’ll see what Jasmine has to say tomorrow. DD Marcia drove me. It was a two hour session during which I got part of my gum carved away so I expected to feel quite brutalized but in fact I am not suffering at all. I am not sure whether to credit his skill, my constitution or the turmeric pills I took. Or perhaps all the supplements I pounded down last night and this morning. Anyway, when I got home Marcia and I let Martha and her lamb, which for want of a better name I am calling Louisey, out into the sunshine. Martha was mad for the new round bale that Max brought while I was gone and Marcia and I had to carry Louisey and put her under her mom several times. Pretty soon they got it all worked out. Louisey has become quite a solid little citizen now. At sheep bedtime they all ran up the ramp except Louisey who ran under it instead. She had grown so frisky that I had to chase her around and catch her by the tail.
During the afternoon the dogs and I went down to the veg garden. I took the boards off of the garlic. I place them over it when I plant them to prevent frost heaves but now they are ready to get growing. Since the last time I looked the snow has all melted off of the garden leaving dear little clumps of violas that emerge in full bloom. While there I filled a feed bag with broken glass from 3 sashes that I had left on some lettuce that I hoped might over winter. I guess I won’t try that again. Shards were all over the patch. I hope I got them all. I ran my hands over the ground and didn’t get stabbed but undoubtedly there are still some horrid splinters.
The dentist is getting a new crown made to replace one that broke off a week or so ago. To make sure everything coordinates he had to send my upper partial along to the tooth lab. Now I cannot chew or meet the public until next Friday. I am stewing an Annoying Rooster for broth to sustain me. And of course I will have milk.
April 16, 2011 Saturday:
It is cold and bleak today. Jasmine “saved” some of yesterday’s milk for me. She gave 2 ¾ gallons this morning. I was way low on milk having parted yesterday with my last gallon to a new customer. I was down to 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of cream! That is scary. The dogs were pleading with me for their customary morning drink but I had to disappoint them.
Despite the unwelcoming weather I went to the garden this morning and did some more cleanup. Almost everything was done last fall by Marcia but one can always find something that needs doing. I stacked a bunch of stakes and wire edging. Willie escaped the garden without Bagel and went to the river and ignored my calls. Then he got back up to the house only 5 minutes behind me and I don’t know how he did it.
All the sheep and lambs are folded together tonight. Louisey, who had never been in that room before and Lambchop who is people-ized and has not forgotten that I might feed her, ran back out followed by their moms but the moms really did not want to miss their share of grain so merely took a look and went back where they belonged. I stood quietly until the lambs figured it out. I erred in not having shut the outer door the minute they came through it. The fewer options the better in these cases.
I’m having amazingly little pain with this dental work. Marcia took a fall yesterday and expected to be kept awake with a strained shoulder, but wasn’t. The only thing we have in common is taking turmeric capsules so are inclined to give them the credit.
April 17, 2011 Sunday:
Sunday began with steady cold rain which left great puddles everywhere, amounting to lakes. When I let out the sheep I offered them the option of taking the indoor route through the barn so that the lambs would not get wet. Sheep do not do well with options. It took me about 5 minutes to get them all headed the same way and I still had to carry Louisey out to her mother.
Jasmine’s production has been knocked way down by that skipped milking on Friday. She gave just over 1 gallon this morning.
The dogs and I visited the garden again. The dogs’ visit was brief. They immediately disappeared to the river, now nearly at flood. I could not see them at all so I ignored them as I pulled up a lot of old cabbage stalks and observed that the chives had grown 2 inches since yesterday. To my great surprise, when I called them they actually appeared, putting up a pair of ducks as they came.
DD Marcia and her household have made plans to move to California. She has rented what looks like a promising little property in Casadero, near Guerneville. I spoke this morning with my sister Barby who has a home in Inverness on Tomales Bay and surprised her with the news of Casadero. She has connections there and is only one hour distant so was thrilled to hear.
Marcia came to help with some chores. We stepped out onto the ramp behind the barn and she spotted a tiny brown bantam hen obviously hovering over chicks. She quickly caught the three tiny chicks and handed them to me. I cupped them in my hands and crouched down while she went for the landing net that I keep in the barn for times like this. The hen was skittish and kept running under the barn. Then Marcia would prod one of the chicks and make it peep. Finally the hen got so mad about this that she went on the attack towards my hands and Marcia netted her in a flash. I have set up housekeeping for them now in the grain room where they will be a lot safer. As soon as they arrived a little black and while spangled rooster that lives in the grain room came and stood by her as guardian. One chick is black, one brown and one yellow, all with stripes.
After I let the sheep in at dusk I stood observing them for a long time. The three ewes had their heads in the grain pan and would not let the lambs nurse. The lambs kept circling around and every time one made an attempt the ewe would circle away to the other side of the pan, taking the occasion to bunt any lamb it saw. They kept up this inhospitable behavior until all the grain was gone and they had taken noisy drinks of water. Then Martha circled the room deliberately butting every lamb but her own, not knocking them down, just boosting them out of the way, before standing solidly for Louisey.
April 18, 2011 Monday:
Marcia took her trailer over to Max’s place in New Sharon and picked up 50 square bales of hay that he had transferred to his garage for safe keeping. He had driven past the barn where it was for sale and had seen lots of people grabbing it so he thought best to do the same before it was all gone. It will more than get me into the season of good grass. I can already see a faint haze of green.
Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons.
April 19, 2011 Tuesday:
Max and Ernie came over and chain sawed fallen trees off of the fence by the river and made other repairs to it. I am much relieved.
Today is my granddaughter Abby Rose’s birthday. She is now 25. Her baby is due in two weeks.
Jasmine gave only slightly over 1 ½ gallons.
April 20, 2011 Wednesday:
The weather today was particularly disagreeable. It stayed about 32F all day with intermittent precipitation that was halfway between snow and hail. Frozen bits about the size of pencil erasers came down in sheets and piled up in heaps. Nonetheless, possibly knowing that it was the Vernal Equinox, the sheep and lambs took advantage of the first break in the weather and went down to the river to graze, or at least give it a try. The first I knew of it was when I looked out at my bird feeder and thought “What are those animals racing along the river back?” I was alarmed when I saw it was the triplets running and leaping like crazy so I called the ewes – they were all down there – and the mamas came back up bringing their babies. The weather did not bother them at all but Louisey is still so tiny.
Something violently struck my mailbox pivoting it around and causing it to spew my mail down the riverbank. When I saw this I climbed over the guardrail in all the wrong shoes and outfit and retrieved it while hanging onto saplings. This bank is so steep there is nowhere to stand so this was a rather foolhardy thing to do on a footing of frozen ball bearings but I got my mail, by now soaking wet.
Marcia’s SIL Ernie stopped in to see what he could do to help. He was on his way to town so I said he could get me some croissants, my weakness. He also straightened out the mailbox.
The cows are resisting eating their new hay. Jasmine gave almost 2 gallons.
April 21, 2011 Thursday:
The weather today was not much better but there was an interval of sunshine during which I went down to the veg garden. Lots of the garlic is up. My young apricot tree has strange damage. The bark on the trunk is split for a couple of feet along its length. I have never seen this before. We had it wrapped. I plan to pour some whey on it to see if it will help it to heal.
There are still no leaves on the trees but the willow is turning bright yellow. There are some little blue flowers – I forget the unpronounceable name of them – blooming and the daphnia is showing pink.
Marcia visited for awhile and put out the hay and water in the barn.
The cows spent a long time grazing. I can’t imagine that they are getting much but they love trying. Jasmine only gave about 1 ½ gallons today.
I am supposed to get my teeth back tomorrow and a crown replaced. Today makes a whole week on a liquid diet. Tonight I cooked some of my frozen broccoli and made a cream soup with some rice. Not bad, but I do so look forward to munchy food.
April 22, 2011 Friday:
Still no daffodils and it did not get much above 40F but the sun shown and it really felt like spring. The cows were far away this morning looking for grass and I thought I was going to have to hoof it way down to the river but dear Jasmine came when I called. Of course the sheep came too. They are always sure I must want them. All the lambs are healthy and adorable. The cows are working hard to get a bite of 2” grass. They are not crazy about eating hay. Jasmine gave a bit leas than 1 ½ gallons and her rumen was not full. By next week they should be able to graze properly. It is just as well they cannot stuff themselves with spring grass or they might bloat.
I have my new crown and denture back but have not yet tried eating. The dentist warned me not to challenge the glue very much.
April 23, 2011 Saturday:
We had seriously uninviting weather today, about 32F and alternating sleet and drizzle. The cows and sheep all chose to tough it out most of the day. They were out there lambs and all, determined to nibble fresh grass. They also ate 2 bales of hay during their warm-up periods.
Jasmine again gave less than 1 ½ gallons.
Marcia came down and helped me for a while. We picked up over 2 dozen eggs. I now have to wash them. In this sort of weather many are dirty.
April 24, 2011 Easter Sunday:
Not exactly warm today but the sun shone. We were able to chat outdoors on Marcia’s porch at dinner today. Sunrise services could be held at last. On so many recent years the weather has been wet. Pretty much every day for the last two months has started out near freezing often with rain or snow so the weather today was a blessing.
DD Marcia and DD Abby made a fantastic dinner. All I did was supply the turkey from my freezer. Mitra and Max brought a beautiful salad and ham from their own pig.
The cows spent all day on the pasture. The sheep and lambs come back to the barn when it is lamb naptime and cud chewing time. Jasmine so far has been great about coming in for milking. I do so appreciate this trait. Fern is always right behind her mother. Fern has a superb dairy disposition and perfect conformation and udder. I suppose I should sell her but I hate to think of parting with Miss Perfect. Did I mention she leads, knows Back and Stand? She used to pick up her feet but I have let that training lapse. Every day she comes and stands in position to he hitched and she is as friendly as a puppy. She is bred to Bellringer for November 9 at which time she will be 25 months old.
April 25, 2011 Monday:
It was fairly warm and sunny today but spring continues to be slow. The animals all spend most of the day on the pasture with their heads down. Today I only needed to put down one bale of hay.
Jasmine again gave less than 1 ½ gallons. My little hen and her three chicks in the grain room are thriving.
Marcia and I went to Rumford where she picked up packing boxes and we did some grocery shopping.
I barely had time to look at the veg garden but can report that the lovage is showing green tufts.
April 26, 2011 Tuesday:
For a change, the day began at 40f and reached 45f by day’s end but it alternately rained and drizzled without ceasing. I hope this means grass is about to spring up. The cows continue to favor it over hay but it is still too short to be seen from any distance among last year’s dry leftovers. I keep hay in the feeder and the sheep are more interested in it than the cows. Since all three are lactating I suppose they can’t be satisfied with short green shoots. The six lambs are doing fine but Louisey is still much the smallest.
Jasmine again gave less than 1 ½ gallons.
The dogs went down to the garden with me. Willie wriggled out through the fence but came back when I whistled. I removed the wraps from my 8 baby fruit trees, something I should have done earlier, but they all look pretty healthy. I saw no mouse damage.
April 27, 2011 Wednesday:
Finally, a warm sunny day. I was seized with the need to dig and attacked the grass clumps that are trying to get ahead of me on the south side of the house in the border by the kitchen. I forced myself to stop after digging 6 or 8 feet of ground for fear of being very sorry later. Still no daffs but I heard spring peepers.
Ernie Miranda, Marcia’s SIL, went over to see Max and helped him build a pen for some piglets. He also took half a dozen boxes of my eggs which Mitra can use so she can sell her own at the Farmer’s Market. This year she is the Market Master. DS Martin and DIL Amy stopped in at Max’s on their way home from Quebec. They ate some dinner and got some milk and took some of my eggs home to Biddeford.
Marcia’s DD Abby Rose’s baby is almost due. Now her doctor is threatening her with a C-section if she does not deliver by the middle of next week. How I loathe this medical fad for early C-sections. It is unconscionable, in my opinion.
Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons this morning.
April 28, 2011 Thursday:
Huzzah! Dozens of daffodils burst open during the night. This is unusual. Ordinarily there is one intrepid flower, the next day two, and so on. There was no sun today. It was overcast with intermittent rain but it was hot. I think it got nearly to 70f. I was not able to eke out more than 15 minutes of gardening but the ground is sodden in any case. I’ll bet my spring line is thawed. No water is reaching the house, though. No doubt the line is broken somewhere.
My milk refrigerator quit. Not sure how much milk I may have lost. I keep a thermometer in it and check it all the time. Yesterday it said 40f so I turned it down but this morning it was at 50f. My new customer came for her 2 gallons. I told her if it went sour I would replace it. So it’s back to the kitchen frig until I can make a plan. Jazzie is only giving at most 1 ½ gallons so I can easily fit it in. It’s just the nuisance for everybody.
April 29, 2011 Friday:
DD Marcia and I put Elastrator bands on two lambs, Susie’s twins, Sheila and Lambchop. I held them while Marcia put on the rings. Afterwards they behaved just like last time when Sally and I did it. They rolled around acting like they were fainting. That did not last long though. Later I saw them out grazing. All the animals grazed quite purposefully. The pasture begins to have green as the dominant color.
I fixed my milk frig! Not by being clever, I do assure you. I thought that if I was going to have a man come look at it I had better have it defrosted and cleaned. I removed everything and got it thoroughly defrosted (you smart people are already laughing) and cleaned and tried starting it up. Now it works perfectly. I told DS John about this when he Skyped from Australia. He told me that the frig quits when the air circulation vent gets clogged with ice. I admitted that the inside of the freezing compartment resembled the winter rendezvous house in Dr. Zhivago.
May 01, 2011 Sunday:
One of Agnes’ triplets got separated from her today. DD Abby reported from across the river that it was stuck in the fence but despite lots of blatting it took me quite awhile to find it. By then it had joined up with Martha and Susie and their lambs but Agnes was not there so it kept right on blatting. For the longest time I could not find Agnes but then Marcia showed up and spotted her grazing peacefully with the other two (can’t she count to three?) and ignoring her lamb. Anyway I got lots of exercise. Max and Ernie were here too, but down in the woods checking my spring line. A sweeper has parted the line where it crossed Hutchinson Brook. They could see the ends streaming out but the water was much too high to rescue it.
Now the new grass is high enough to obscure all of the old grass. The sun shone all day and as it declined towards the mountains at late afternoon the grass became incandescent. It is the most beautiful time of year. No trees are in bloom yet but the willow is beginning to leaf out. The clusters of sheep and cows make a very fine sight as they graze.
May 02, 2011 Monday:
Such a perfect sunny day but I had to spend it going to an eye appointment quite a long way off. This ate up the day. But I am pleased to report that my doctor found no new deterioration in my vision. It is still WMD in my left eye and DMD in my right with no constraints on driving. I suffer a bit from dry eye for which he gave me some free samples.
All the animals got along fine without me but the dogs were more than ready to be off their chains when I got home.
Today it was announced that Osama bin Laden is dead.
May 03, 2011 Tuesday:
Mostly rainy today and overcast, no sun, but about 50°. I spent most of the day making and returning calls, writing checks and going to Dixfield for feed. It made me wish I had a personal secretary. Yesterday Ernie picked a lot of fiddleheads and left some for me. I froze four bags. They are especially nice ones. I had some for dinner with John’s Artichoke Sauce. This is a sauce invented by my father, John Sills, and it is one of the few original recipes in this world. I don’t know anybody else that makes it, although many years ago it was published in Sunset Magazine. Melt a quarter pound of butter. Add a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of the dark kind of brewer’s yeast and serve hot in separate dishes. You can also make it creamy by adding mayonnaise. It is ideal for artichokes but also perfect on fiddleheads. The flavor is seductive.
Here is a cute photo that Martin sent me of Hannah and Henry titled, “Excuse me sir, do you have the time?”
May 4, 2011 Wednesday:
It rained pretty much all day. The animals came in by turns and ate hay to warm up.
DD Abby over in DD Sally’s house across the river reports that a beaver is coming every night and taking down a tree, some quite large. Sally is not pleased. She suggests we try roast beaver, reputedly delicious.
I started beans cooking and made 2 loaves of bread using my homemade sour dough starter.
Jasmine gave a bit over 1 ½ gallons. Her supply is not picking up much yet but the color is more golden and the cream much heavier.
May 05, 2011 Thursday:
Just a few sprinkles today but no sun, temperature about 45°.
Marcia stopped by and we banded the last lamb, Louisey. She is now very strong. I could barely hold her. We ate some of the bread and beans. DS Martin is coming for supper by himself. The rest of his family will be up tomorrow.
Later: Martin arrived as planned and went down to the gully at the bottom of the pasture and set up his turkey blind. We ate more bread and beans, which were a hit, and some lovely fiddleheads that he bought on the way here from a roadside vendor.
May 06, 2011 Friday:
A florist shop delivery lady came today and brought a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers sent “From your five boys, John, Bret, Max, Mark and Martin”. I don’t know which one organized it but it was a thrilling surprise. Martin and Amy then followed up with an invitation to Sunday breakfast at a restaurant in Dixfield. I have never been there (I don’t go out very often.) We are also all planning a dinner at Marcia’s on Sunday. That will be burgers, Mitra’s mac’n’cheese and Marcia’s homemade ice cream. I think Amy is bringing salad. Hers are so good that she always gets asked.
Oh, and Martin and Amy brought me a dear little St. Andre cheese from Quebec.
It was a pleasant evening and I was late calling in the sheep. They were far down with the cows and ignored me so I left them out. This will be the first time they have spent a night out.
While Martin was here today he repaired the back ramp where a couple of boards had fallen out. The sheep were highly resistant to jumping over this little gap. You would think I was suggesting they jump the Grand Canyon. This morning I had to give in to their fears and led them the long way around.
Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons this morning. She is loving the grass.
May 07, 2011 Saturday:
On a whim I checked the spot where wild asparagus grows and found half a dozen spears. They were delicious for supper. None are up yet in the cultivated patch. I worked down in the veg garden for a while. What with a few parsnips that I found and lots of over wintered bunching onion and wild greens I will not be at all tempted by store produce. I think Mitra may be bringing beet greens tomorrow too. What a treat to have these spring delicacies.
Right in the middle of the day, I might almost say out of a clear blue sky, I was out on the deck and there came a great clap of thunder. Instantly the sky darkened and more thunder followed. I went in and turned off my computer. It rained the rest of the day.
DS Max and grandson-in-law Ernie brought my feed and then went up in the woods, rain and all, to look at the spring and spring line. There are so many breaks in the line that it has run itself dry. It was more than they could deal with all at once but I will have to wait until the spring recharges anyway before I can expect water. They fixed enough leaks so that it can fill.
On Sunday DS Martin and DIL Amy invited me to breakfast at restaurant in Dixfield, seven miles away. It was lots of fun. Henry and Hannah, 3 and 5, are pretty good eaters. Henry ate a three egg omelet, two pieces of bacon and a Mickey Mouse pancake. Hannah was a bit more restrained. After breakfast we all walked down the street to a little park at the Dixfield Historical Society house where there is a life-sized cement moose and a gazebo. The kids used the circular interior of the gazebo for a handy race track. The beautiful Androscoggin River runs past.
In the afternoon all the available family convened at DD Marcia’s house for a traditional cookout. Max did a great job of cooking the burgers. We also had mac’n’cheese, potato salad, green salad and for dessert Marcia made hot fudge sundaes.
On Monday Ernie came down and completed the work to get my spring water running. It is always such a thrill when it starts up. I have to have a drink every time I walk past the granite sink it fills with a 24 hour a day trickle.
I made a couple of pumpkin pies with some pumpkin I accidentally defrosted.
May 10, 2011 Tuesday:
It was cold and overcast all day. I wrote for a long time and also went to the garden and dug a couple more parsnips that volunteered in the manure pile.
Jasmine’s production is tending slightly upward and her cream is more golden. However she dries off soon. I have had to discontinue selling milk except to Laurie. Musicians rule.
May 11, 2011 Wednesday:
Today was cold and blustery with some brief sun during which I hung out laundry. I felt tired and unfocused, perhaps due to awaiting news about Abby Rose’s visit to her doc. Writing seemed out of the question so I finally decided to forgive myself and take a day off and not do anything I didn’t feel like doing. I altered a denim jumper which will give me something to wear right now when all my clothes are too warm or too summery. Dear Sally had left the sewing machine threaded which was a blessing. I also did a bit of pruning of suckers on my baby fruit trees. All are breaking dormancy but the apricot may not make it. There is a split all the way up the trunk. My extremely ancient crabapple tree will soon bloom. There is pink showing on its buds. The poor thing has chronic bad luck with the weather. Nearly every year when it is covered with bloom we have either a freeze or a gale or torrential rain and the bees can’t work.
I realized that since last Sunday I have eaten nothing but vegetables and dairy products, not even bread. I figure the pumpkin pie fits under the vegetable umbrella. I’ve eaten a good deal of that. DIL Mitra gave me a big bag of spinach, chard and beets from her farmers’ market.
Abby Rose had a 7am appointment for evaluation. I did not get many details but the baby had not dropped and her cervix was exactly as last week. The doc ordered a hormone pill of some kind inserted I think next to her cervix to make labor start. She went home with twingy contractions that sounded like they were not going anywhere. Our communication was very impaired today, Marcia was distracted and her cell phone was in a blackout area. I hope that tomorrow they will be able to look at the suggestions from my forum members.
May 12, 2011 Thursday:
The day started out cold and overcast but by afternoon turned into a fine day. By late afternoon it was the most beautiful day so far this year. The rolling green pastures surrounded by woodlands and mountains with tiny leaves on every tree coming out with shades of green is a ravishing sight. The flowering trees have not yet made their display so I have that to look forward to by next week. I filled an urn with soil and planted a packet of nasturtium seeds.
Jasmine gave 2 gallons this morning.
Abby Rose spent all day at the hospital getting a pitocin drip to no effect apart from a day of useless contractions. They finally sent her home about 5pm with an appointment at noon tomorrow for a C-sec. We are all hoping she will preempt the situation by going into labor tonight.
Marcia is feeling sick. She thinks it is from eating cafeteria food.
May 13, 2011 Friday:
Abby Rose’ baby was born at 2:30pm by C-sec. The cord was three times around her neck. The doctors say that is why she had never dropped into position and AR had no dilation. The docs said the cord was pulling her back. It is apparently impossible to see the cord on the sonogram pictures. She weighed 8 lbs 3 oz and is 20” long. Marcia was able to be present during the surgery. Everybody is happy now.
It was beautiful here today. I was outside a lot but mostly on the deck arranging my houseplants for the summer. Everything is looking beautiful. Jasmine gave the same as yesterday.
May 14, 2011 Saturday:
DD Marcia reports that Abby Rose is feeling quite well and got up to brush her teeth. Ernie had a cot in her room and slept 7 hours. Violet also slept 3 hours but then Abby Rose woke her up thinking that it was time she should feed again. Marcia told her to never do that again. Let sleeping babies lie! Marcia came home last night but went back to the hospital this morning and again this evening, taking dinner.
The weather today was mostly overcast tending towards drizzle. The shadblow burst into bloom during the night.
When I let Jasmine and Fern out this morning Fern jumped Jasmine when she was behind her in the aisle. This gave me a bad shock. They spent considerable time in close proximity to each other behaving a bit suspiciously but I saw no further jumping. I suppose I must get Fern a preg test, something I have not done. There have been no signs of heat from anybody all winter.
May 16, 2011 Monday:
Rainy and cold, entire state about 40F. Marcia and I went to Farmington and heard complaints about the weather on every hand. We privately agreed that although this weather is no fun we feel extremely grateful not to live in an area where they are suffering the effects of floods and tornados. At least since the Great Ice Storm of ’87 (?) when the whole state was out of power for two weeks, all we have suffered is the normal endless winters and buggy summers.
On the way to Farmington I stopped at Marcia’s and got a nice visit with the new parents and Violet Anastasia Miranda. Violet is adored by her parents and is all a baby should be. Totally alert and looking at everybody, holding her head up quite well, lots of black hair and dainty perfect features. The visiting nurse came and removed Abby’s staples which meant Baby had to be carried around by others. This caused some protests. Nothing wrong with her lungs.
In Farmington we met Mitra for a soup lunch and did some fast shopping. Marcia’s principle errand was an appearance in court to complete her name change. She is now Marcia Luick.
At evening I visited my veg garden and found half a dozen asparagus spears for my supper.
Jasmine gave close to 2 gallons again. I still note some suspicious behavior between her and Fern. For the first time ever she did not come for milking this morning when I called her. I had to walk partway to the river. Then Fern came bounding up and she agreed to come too.
May 18, 2011 Wednesday:
Having read several accounts of this on KFC, Mitra reminded me that sometimes we see heat-like behavior in cows along about the 4th month of pregnancy. She noted a similar behavior in her cow Nellie’s fourth month of pregnancy. So I am going to impute Jasmine’s behavior to this phenomenon. Despite the fact that she was preg tested and Fern had not been, my impression was that it wasn’t Fern that was sending off vibes. No further signs of this now.
I had a lovely lunchtime visit from Dr. Cooper. I served turkey tetrazzini that I had in the freezer. I made a new sauce for it. DS Max was here to help eat it. Unfortunately I was not able to concentrate on my guests. About 11 o’clock when I went to the garden to find asparagus, the dogs came along and they ran off. I could see them down by the river and called and whistled but they just looked at me and disappeared into the bushes. I went back to the kitchen hoping for the best. As a rule they do indeed soon come back to the dooryard. This time they did not. About 3 o’clock Bagel came home neither wet, dirty nor tired. No sign of Willie. As soon as the men left I went in search of Willie. I always worry about him drowning as he has several times fallen in the river and he is so cylindrical and his legs are so short that he is a highly inefficient swimmer. The river is high and the banks are steep and muddy. I walked all the way to where the brook enters the river past which he could not have gone and saw no tracks. About halfway home (it’s a good 20 minute walk at my age) I could hear barking off in the woods but as I have hearing only in one ear I cannot judge the direction of sounds. I just wondered who would help me. Back at the house I found DD Abby heading for the pasture. She had been walking along the other side of the river and heard Willie and was going in search. She found him in the ravine that separates the two halves of my pasture very badly entangled in a mass of old barbed wire, a chronic hazard on old farms. She said she almost despaired of freeing him, his tail was especially wound in, and felt that getting him out involved divine intervention. He was bleeding. He came home much chastened. Someone will have to go down with wire cutters and remove that wire. Abby said it is on top of the entrance to the woodchuck den. She does not know how the woodchuck gets past it. No doubt though, the woodchuck family was the attraction.
I have a loaf of bread in the oven. The liquid component is kefir. I tried the kefir bread recipe in the new Wise Traditions yesterday. It is raised by kefir alone, which worked but takes 24 hours. The loaf had great flavor but was too crusty for me with my denture. Now I have slightly modified the recipe for a bit more white flour and with added butter.
May 19, 2011 Thursday:
The modified kefir bread I made last night was outstandingly good. I was inspired to restart kefir. I have been using it to clabber the skim milk so have a bucket of it. It is my practice to always make the clabber, most of which goes to the chickens, as though it were going to be people food, so it is always beautiful stuff that I can dip into as needed.
This bread was 2 cups kefir, 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour, soaked together for a couple of hours. Then I added 1 teaspoon of salt and a couple of cups of white King Arthur plain flour with a teaspoon of instant yeast (so that is would be ready sooner) and a couple of tablespoons of softened butter. Using my Kitchenaid stand mixer with the dough hook, I kneaded it about 7 minutes adding more white flour a little at a time until it was stiff enough to ball up. I let it rise on the Aga for a couple of hours and then put it into my 9 by 12 inch stoneware baking pan. It rose in that until puffy and then baked 35 minutes.
Willie is quite a chastened little dog today. The naughtiest thing he did was squeeze into the barn and eat a lot of hunks of stale bread meant for the chickens.
It rained almost all day. I wasted a lot of time with things that didn’t work out. The most aggravating was a full hour spent attempting to make McAfee accept my updated profile and credit card number. It went round and round endlessly telling me that first one thing, then another was wrong. I finally gave up. There is nowhere you can talk to a person or explain your problem. I may switch to Norton.
May 20, 2011 Friday:
Rain all day long. The rivers are very high and the fields and garden too squishy to do anything on. It is not cold, in fact I think it reached 60 today. The cows look great. The smallest, youngest lamb, Louisey, is a bit wobbly in the back end. I don’t think she liked having her tail docked. We used the Elastrator. Now all tails are off, hers last.
Marcia and I went to the DMV to get our licenses. She just needed her new name put on hers. She is now back to her maiden name, Marcia Luick. Mine expires in July but I thought I would renew anyway as all sorts of new requirements apply. It turned out to be easy peezy. My expired passport sufficed for proof of citizenship, I have none of the reportable medical conditions, they did not require any testing except for vision and I passed that easily. Hah! They were even willing to let me keep my 20 year old picture but I didn’t think it would fool anybody so got a new one. Sigh.
I found a new nest with 23 eggs. I knew darn well there was one and finally found it. For several days now I have not gotten as many eggs as I expected. I have a recipe for a coconut cake that takes 12 eggs and hope to make that tomorrow. It is the one from the current Wise Traditions and calls for only coconut flour which I finally found today. It looks like a strange recipe but with all these eggs now it the time to experiment.
May 21, 2011 Saturday:
Rain and more rain.
For a couple of weeks I have been assembling ingredients so that I could try the coconut cake recipe in the current edition of Wise Traditions. I thought it looked very promising with its 12 eggs and cup of butter. Yesterday I found a place that had the coconut flour and this morning I made it. DS Max arrived just as I was taking it out of the oven. Before he left we each tried a warm piece. We both pronounced it tasteless and stodgy, resembling cornbread but with less flavor yet oddly salty.
All afternoon I thought about what I might do with it to resurrect it and decided that it might lend itself to curry flavor. For supper I sautéed some in curry paste and served it to myself with curried chicken and rice. Not only was it tasty this way but the texture had got over being gritty like cornmeal. If I make it again it will only be because I have so much coconut flour. I had trouble finding it and now another store is special ordering it, prepaid so I’ll have to do something with it.
Max went down in the ravine and fetched out the bloody, furry barbed wire that trapped Willy last Wednesday.
He also backed up my computer files. Thanks Max!
May 23, 2011 Monday:
Sally called to say that her water system has finally thawed and she was able to take her first shower since she got home. She was very happy about that. She also told me that there is a baby bear running around the neighborhood. She hopes no one shot its mother.
I got Jasmine’s collar on with her bell. She has been bare since last fall as I don’t require a collar on her for management and have no trouble finding her in the barn. Out on pasture it can be frustrating if she doesn’t come when called and I have no idea where to search. I had a lot of trouble getting that collar on. Marcia took pity on me last week and took It home and soaked it in Murphy’s.
My poor apple trees are once again unlikely to bear. The petals are now falling and there has been no day dry enough and warm enough for even the hardiest pollinators. I don’t know how the orchardists will stand it. The lilacs buds are finally showing color. I brought some in.
Jasmine is giving 2 gallons now. I may call back my customers.
I heard from DS John in Australia that Saturday afternoon he had a bad car accident. He and Lou were driving up a windy road into the hills to meet friends at a pub that does Buffalo wings when an erratically driven car came at them around a bend. John had just time to pull to the side and stop his car, a Honda SUV when the other car hurtled into them, bounced off, spun and hit the rail. The other car was driven by a very young woman. Amazingly, she was not injured but her car was totaled. John and Lou were not injured either but their car cannot now be driven and may also be too damaged to repair. John said that in a lighter car they would almost certainly have been killed or at least badly crippled. They are feeling pretty shaken up, I believe. I certainly am.
May 24, 2011 Tuesday:
A day without rain! I am sure the entire State of Maine is rejoicing. I went down and stood under my ancient huge crabapple tree to see if bees were showing up for the party. It was early in the day and still damp and just over 60° but I saw a few honeybees working. These are wild bees. Perhaps there will be a few apples after all. Tomorrow is also predicted to be fair.
Max and Ernie brought my other refrigerator up from the cellar and set it in the breezeway to replace the one that is not chilling properly. Then Max informed me that I did not have it set to Coldest (he said I misread the dial). He set it to what he says is proper so we shall see. A day with the changed setting had not made much difference.
Max did a wonderful amount of weed whacking and Ernie ran the mower, just in time I think, before it became a task for the scythe. Max took the mower away on his truck for badly needed service.
I made English muffins first thing this morning and now they are all gone. They proved quite popular. I have a collection of muffin rings and a cast iron griddle that is ideal on the Aga for muffins. Also this morning I set out the cabbage and broccoli plants that I bought yesterday. The black flies are now out in force.
Somebody who used to work for me years ago when he was a teenager called to see if I needed help. The answer was Yes. He came today for 2 hours and did a lot of raking. He says he knows how to garden. I’d think I’d died and gone to heaven if I could find somebody that wanted to do gardening and could actually do it.
May 26, 2011 Thursday:
We just had three whole days of fine May weather. I think the bees were able to do some pollinating even though the blossoms had been drenched for several days. Now the petals are falling fast. All around the huge tree, the carpet of nummula (Money plant) is white with petals.
Otis worked Wednesday and today and accomplished a great deal. He prepared three flower beds, planted one (used up the plants I had bought) and dug out and reset the brickwork at the entrance to the enclosed garden by the kitchen. He will be away not for a week. I did a bit more digging in the opposite border on the south side of the house. Things are looking promising.
Lester Averill gave me a lot of rhubarb, all the two of us could carry. I made some sauce yesterday and today Abby stopped by and cut and froze the rest, a big help.
I am fermenting a bucketful of the leaves to make a foliar application which Will Bonsall writes will discourage flea beetles.
Sally tells me that the baby bear that has been roaming her neighborhood in Haines AK is now dead, shot by the game warden. He was utterly stricken to have to do it but no zoo would take it and it was starving to death. At 5 months it weighed only 15 lbs. Someone had shot its mother. There is someone in the area that shoots bears even though it is illegal. Several have been wantonly shot.
DD Abby has found a perfect little snipe’s nest near where she is staying at Sally’s house. The little mother bird does the broken wing thing if anybody goes near her nest.
May 28, 2011 Saturday:
Last night we had hours of electrical storm. From across the river DD Abby says she could see lightning hit the pasture repeatedly and it was so brilliant it burned images into her retina. She called this morning to see if I had lost any animals or had damage but there is none I have found unless the two weeks that are missing out of Heifer Diary can be attributed to it. This morning DD Abby and I went to Dixfield and put lilacs on Grammie’s grave. As I was leaving the house this afternoon to join the family at DS Martin and DIL Amy’s camp for her birthday dinner a lost lamb turned up in the front yard. I have not found where it got out of the pasture but it was racing around madly bleating. As soon as I got Willie Dog into the house it ran into the carriage house and I opened the back door, a service door that is about 5ft. above the pasture. As soon as it saw that it raced past me and sailed out gracefully. It was one of Agnes’ triplets I am pretty sure.
DS Mark was able to join us, a nice surprise. Annie and granddaughter Hailey weren’t able to come. He said he might be able to return on Monday. Abby Rose brought wee Violet for all to admire. We passed her around until she began to cry. She is up to 9 lbs now.
Hannah (now 5) does lots of drawing. She says, “I think I may want to make a career in art. Art is like talking without words.” I guess all kids say wonderful things like this but we forget to write them down.
May 29, 2011 Sunday:
Everything went like clockwork this morning in the barn, which was fortunate as DIL Amy and her dad and the kids invited me along on an expedition to pick up our tomato plants at Amy LeBlanc’s Tomato Lover’s Paradise greenhouse at her White Hill Farm. It is a wonderful place. It has a superb New England farm setting with a view across rolling green hills. This was the first day with summer heat. Little Hannah and Henry were with us too. Max and Mitra’s daughter Shireen (15) now works for Amy LeB on weekends and holidays and was there today. Amy LeB is also Roshan ‘s cello teacher.
Roshan’s other cello teacher, Laurie Kennedy, played in a string quartet last night at Nordica Hall at U Maine Farmington and Roshan and Mitra attended. The program included Shostakovitch and Ravel. Laurie teaches a string quartet that includes Roshan and three of her peers. Laurie invited Roshan up to meet the cellist which thrilled Roshan. She told her mother “She was a pupil of Yo Yo Ma!”
When we got back from our excursion DD Abby was here passing out fresh cookies so I was able to provide some hospitality – with milk or course. Marcia was here too, having brought me a lot of her elegant potted plants that can’t go to California. I gave Ken (Amy’s Dad) a couple of empty buckets and a spading fork to get himself some choice manure for his summer garden in Biddeford. In the winter he lives in Tucson where he is involved with a seed saving group especially of Native American varieties.
I made a couple of loaves of bread using my homemade raw milk starter. Also planted radish seed. I was glad I didn’t have to get dinner for anybody. I’m tired!
May 30, 2011 Monday, Memorial Day:
Very fine weather today. Dot Mason and I rode again in the Model A driven by Steve Brown. Little Ronnie rode in the front seat and a third lady, June Turner, joined us. This made 3 in the back seat which was a bit of a crush. After the small parade we stopped for excellent Gifford’s ice cream cones in Weld. DD Abby then drove me home in my own car. I’m sure Dot was glad to have a bit more room.
I did not get any writing or gardening done.
Here is a great article about the relationship between consumer goods and services and fossil fuel inputs. When I wrote Real Food I introduced this concept but very little data was available in 1989. I am delighted that people are starting to analyze this. The bicycle experiment is terrific.
May 31, 2011 Tuesday:
More fine weather but I did not get much done except setting out kohlrabi and a bit of progress on Meat.
Abby and I moved a little hen with 6 chicks. The hen was flighty and one chick got lost in the transaction. Abby looked long and hard.
June 01, 2011 Wednesday:
At 6am when I went to let the sheep out I found the lost chick. It was a warm night and it was still alive. So now all six are rehoused with their mother in a safer location.
But then what did I see freshly emerged from under the barn but a small hen with 10 baby chicks, five yellow striped with black and five black striped with yellow. I succeeded in distracting the other free range birds with a scatter of grain so that I could give a bit to this brood.
Most of the day was warm and somewhat sunny but the radio had very frequent storm warnings for hail and tornados. We were spared, but I understand that some places were not so fortunate.
I got six of my eggplants set out on the warm south side of the house in a bed where I usually have flowers. But vegetables now must rule. I hope to get the remaining plants out tomorrow.
June 02, 2011 Thursday:
The weather has turned strange. Massachusetts had a tornado and four people were killed. The town of Springfield looks much like Joplin MO but a smaller area of damage. Thousands of people lost power. We did not. My farm is set up to run fine without electricity in summer when I have the gravity fed spring, excepting for the milking machine. I don’t suppose it would destroy me to milk by hand occasionally, although dear Jasmine has small, uneven teats. At present near the end of lactation she has decided to spontaneously dry off two quarters. Seventy-five per cent of her nearly two gallons a day comes from her near front quarter.
I got the rest of my eggplants in. My tomato plants were in a tub awaiting their turn and a sudden violent wind attacked the farm leaving them looking like somebody had wrung their necks. I hope they can recover.
There are now three little hens with chicks in or under the barn. One has 12. This is the hen that I said had 10 but Abby found 2 more chicks huddled in the lean-to, presumably hers. She added them to the clutch and they blended in. I try to get food out to the hen without the hordes of adult birds noticing. She can’t possibly make a living for that many.
DD Abby has been making plans for weeks to take a care giving job in OR but now that is cancelled. The patient, an elderly woman, is not recovering satisfactorily from a fractured femur. She will probably enter hospice.
DS Max came today and brought back my newly repaired lawn tractor, then mowed the lawn. What a joy to see it mowed. Some had gotten tall enough to make hay.
June 03, 2011 Friday:
Marcia and I went to Rumford on errands. DD Abby stayed here and did various things including laundering a couch cushion that Willie had soiled some time ago when he came in filthy and took a nap on it. It is the sort of thing I don’t get around to very expeditiously. Marcia went straight to the garden and set out my tomato plants. Her plants always look Martha Stewart (according to her sister) perfect. I think they recovered pretty well from their maltreatment by the wind yesterday. But then at dusk I heard a weather report that the Western Mountains (that’s me) might get frost. So Abby and I took sheets to the garden and covered the plants.
This afternoon I made a cake that I heard that my grandson Harper in Alaska had made to wide acclaim. It is called St. Louis Gooey Cake. It is one of those things like Jefferson Davis pie that is wicked good but has no redeeming nutritional merit, so one doesn’t dare make it very often. St. Louis Gooey cake had a sweet dough layer made with a yeast dough. This is topped with a regular cake batter layer with no leavening. It is almost a cookie dough. As it bakes the two layers merge and develop a butterscotch sort of flavor. It is really hard to stop eating it. I confess the cake contains several tablespoons of Karo. I have a bottle of Karo that must be 25 years old but Karo is forever. I’m sure my bottle antedates GMO. I rather imagine one could sub honey for the Karo.
Roshan’s music teacher, Mr. Phillips, is coming tomorrow to shear my sheep. Hurrah!
June 04, 2011 Saturday:
The weather today was excellent, clear and bright and about 65°. DDs Abby and Marcia spent time here. Marcia brought a casserole that was too much for her and new mama Abby Rose, both being off carbs. I was glad to get it, as Max, his DD Roshan and cousin Santiago, hungry teenagers, were here to help with the sheep shearing. I also fed them the St. Louis Gooey cake that I made last night. There is not much left of any of this.
Mark Phillips, Roshan’s music teacher, came to shear. It was hard work with these giant ewes and Max was a big help. All the same it took a long time. Now the fleeces are upstairs in the carriage house attic drying and cooling. I will send a handful to Sally for her consideration.
DD Abby made an excellent Thai chili coconut soup for our supper and I made a salad.
June 05, 2011 Sunday:
It started out chilly, around 40°, but was sunny all day and warmed up into the 60’s in the afternoon, a good temperature for working outdoors. I worked in the veg garden about an hour and got my carrots planted. The soil was so muddy in May that garden work was next to impossible so things are getting in late. Now the bugs are terrible. My helper Otis was here for 3 hours and made great progress with getting the grass out of the long perennial border. Now I need to go find some more plants.
At my suggestion, Abby released the two families of hens and chicks to free range. (The hen with 12 was never indoors. She started out with 10 chicks but we gave her 2 more that appeared.)This pleased the hens enormously. They took their little flocks right out in the sunshine. Come bedtime, some major confusion must have occurred. At 7pm when I went to close in the sheep there were chicks all over the main aisle, 4 or 5 chicks, peeping like crazy. I caught them one by one and put them in with a hen that I was able to locate but they kept emerging. I think she was not their mother. She seemed willing to have them but they were not satisfied with her. As it got darker the chicks became pragmatic and the peeping ceased. It is usually the other way around, the hens peck strangers but the chicks go wherever there is comfort.
June 07, 2011 Tuesday:
Another day of fine weather, just lovely. I got my rutabagas planted and DD Abby planted all the corn and some lettuce. We went up to Weld to pick up my car from the garage where it was being serviced and stopped to see DD Marcia. I did not see Baby Violet. She was upstairs napping. Marcia gave me a fine white dicentra which Abby dug for me. I will put it in my little fenced garden outside the kitchen. I already have a huge pink dicentra (Bleeding Heart) in that area so know it will thrive.
Abby made a batch of cream cheese cookies to use up some cream cheese I made a few days ago.
Last evening when Abby walked home to her place she found a huge turtle over a foot in diameter laying her eggs at the sandy edge of the unpaved road. Abby supervised her for a long time until she was all through laying and covering her eggs. I went with her today to see the eggs but although Abby had marked the location with two stakes, she could not dig up any eggs. The ground had become extremely hard. Curious. Abby assumes it was a snapping turtle. The shell was all one color.
My three families of hens and chicks are thriving although they do require having problems of one sort or another solved for them each day and the hen that had 6 is down to 4.
I am glad we got the sheep sheared. It is getting quite warm and they would be suffering. They are thinner than I expected them to be. Perhaps I should be feeding more grain. They don’t get much, but they have all the grass they can eat.
June 8, 2011 Wednesday:
Abby and I wen t to two thrift shops and two plant nurseries and brought home a considerable haul. At St. Theresa’s Free Store I found a perfect sleeveless denim dress and a hand knit silk stole, or whatever you call it. It is a long wide thing that looks warm and cuddly. At the Hope Assoc. nursery I finally found zinnias and they are good plants. They weather has now turned hot and steamy with clouds of bugs and intermittent thunder and showers so nothing got planted today
Abby now has all the corn planted.
June 09, 2011 Thursday:
The weather continues hot and thundery. We got about a half inch of rain last night and today we lost power for three hours. It came back on about 7:30 just as I was fixing some dinner and setting up candles and Abby had filled the oil lamp.
During the afternoon dear Max came and brought back the lawn mower (again – he had taken it back because it still was not cutting properly). He mowed most of the lawn again.
He set up my one-room AC in a window in the music room. It got cool immediately. Abby and I had tea in there.
Otis did not come.
I have declared war on spiders. It was getting so that I could not walk through the buttery without getting a face full of webs. Sally said that spritzing vinegar on the webs would interfere with their plans but Abby followed up with the broom to be sure.
This afternoon I got Swiss chard planted. I wore high boots to defend my ankles from bugs. I’ve had about all I can take of itching, bleeding legs.
June 10, 2011 Friday:
My goodness, what a busy day. It’s 10pm and I haven’t stopped for supper.
Otis got a lot more gardening done. DD Abby planted a lot more squash seeds. My rutabagas are already up and the strawberries are coming along. I took time out to write a letter to The Stockman Grass Farmer correcting a point about methane. DD Marcia stopped by after going to the airport for her older DD Caitilin and Lily, 2 ½. Caiti looked stunning in her long skirt, like Queen Astrid with her flaxen braids and exceptional height. I instructed Marcia to get some pictures. Caiti and Lily walked down to my small pool and a garden snake ran across Caiti’s foot. She shrieked and more or less freaked out. Lily stayed calm. She said, “Icky worm!”
All the animals are fine. Dusk crept up on me and I nearly forgot to bring in the sheep. They were waiting in a nervous bunch. I love the sheepishness of sheep.
June 11, 2011 Saturday:
DD Abby and I drove to S. Portland to the home of Mark, Annie and Hailey’s old friends, Woody and John, for a graduation party for Hailey. Many dear friends and relatives were there. Even Annie’s parents from Malden and her sister and brother and wife and Mark’s Aunt Anita from Boston were there. It rained most of the day which made the driving difficult. John and his brother and others made delicious food. DS Martin and the kids later drove up here to their camp. Amy stayed behind for a bachelorette party with her friend Jen. The kids will come here tomorrow morning while Martin and Max ride their bikes. Abby grilled hamburgers in my kitchen fireplace. They were delicious and the fire felt good. The temp has plunged to 50°. When we got home all the animals were grazing in the rain. The free range hen with 12 chicks lost one today. She took them all into the chicken yard and one drowned in the water basin. So sad. The water basin now has an island of rocks so that if another chick falls in it will have something to stand on. I put rescue ramps in all my water tubs but in this case we did not think the hen and chicks could get into this yard.
June 12, 2011 Sunday:
It has rained every night recently and only reached 50° during the day with lots of drizzle. We are going around with sweaters and I built a fire in the kitchen fireplace. DS Martin and DS Max came by in the morning with their road bikes and rode the 15 mile loop around Lake Webb. They also explored the spring line and discovered that it has a bad underground leak that will require digging and splicing.
I made a chiffon cake to take to the cookout that Marcia arranged so we could all could get a glimpse of Caiti and Lily. We ate indoors and had a lot of fun. To accompany the cake I made a fruit sauce with rhubarb, raspberries and strawberries. Baby Violet spent the afternoon sleeping in her baby bag on Abby Rose’ bosom so I didn’t get much of a look at her. Violet’s dad, Ernie took Lily down on the wharf and showed her how to fish. She caught two fish.
June 13, 2011 Monday:
I had laundry on the line for three days and it was still wet so I brought it inside the house to dry. It rained again last night and we lost power for a while but nonetheless the world is very, very beautiful. I have a long hedge of pink roses all in bloom on the granite wall and my white Rugosa by the front gate is massive and covered with hundreds of highly scented blooms. My locust is blooming for the first time now that it is about 50 feet tall. DD Sally planted it as a small whip – I can’t remember how long ago, but I think it can’t have been more than 15 years. It has white flowers.
The weeds in my veg garden are out of hand. DD Marcia had it so perfect last year. I pull out the worst ones around the plants. DD Abby has again planted the paddock garden with corn and squash. For the first time, the chickens are molesting it. I may have to get chicken wire around it.
There were 4 egg yolks left over from yesterday’s chiffon cake and I had some sour cream so this morning I made a sour cream black walnut cake flavored with espresso powder. Marcia stopped by and we each had a slice. I was also able to make some real progress on the review of Simon Fairlie’s book, Meat: A benign extravagance. I hope to have the thing out the (cyber) door within a very few more days.
June 14, 2011 Tuesday:
It did not rain last night but is still overcast and below 60°. I doubt that corn is germinating. Abby has been digging up the seed and not finding any. It is not rotting. It seems to disappear. She is not seeing beak marks of crows. The chickens have scratched a few places. Very puzzling. Max came today and dug up the place in the springline that was leaking and bubbling up. He had to dig down more than 3 feet. Brave man! The mosquitoes by the river were life threatening. Abby went along and waved a branch to dispel them.
Dr. Cooper stopped by for lunch. I made the old fashioned ground meat, corn, kidney bean and zucchini mixture that I used to make for the kids when they were growing up. I had last summer’s zukes in the freezer. The meal was a hit. No writing got done today.
June 15, 2011 Wednesday:
Fine summer weather today, balmy, not too hot. The mosquitoes are still insane so one has to move fast. I transplanted a climbing rose from near the barn where it has never been happy. Now it has more sun and fewer chickens to worry about. All the animals are fine. The chickens are a little too fine – they are molesting my flowerbeds. I set up some barrier chicken wire around their favorite venue. There are so many roses blooming now that the scent wafts in the windows. Three years ago I bought one of those plants in a cardboard tube they sell at the counter in the hardware store. It was said to be a blue dahlia. This poor plant had one mishap after another and somehow survived. After a winter in the cellar, I put in a pot on my deck where it developed a 3ft. stem with buds. Today for the first time ever it bloomed. The flower is not blue but a pure amethyst, 4” diameter.
June 16, 2011 Thursday:
Fine weather again today and all the world is beautiful.
June 17, 2011 Friday:
The weather was fine but a bit too hot. I had long postponed errands and Abby needed to pick up her car from Max and Mitra’s house so we went to Farmington. We had the pleasure of visiting Mitra at her booth at the Farmers’ Market. She has a very appealing booth decorated with many pictures of their farm. Friends stop to chat with her all the time. We also shopped at the Better Living Center health food store. I bought turmeric capsules (curcumin) for DD Sally. For anyone who has not discovered these, they are an effective anti inflammatory. So far as I can tell they work as well as Advil and are not any cheaper. Indeed, it seemed to me that everything had gone up in price since the last time I shopped about a month ago.
Up at the Luick farm no one was home except Santiago. In three weeks he will be returning to his family in Cuernavaca. I am sure he will be missed. He jumped right up and conducted us out to visit the cows, Nellie and Bella. They were wearing their astonishing new fly face masks with zebra stripes. We also saw the duck pond that Roshan and Santiago made last fall in the rivulet that runs through the property. The ducks love it.
There were some worries about Abby’s old Volvo so we caravanned home, stopping at Wal-Mart for oil; the dip stick registered about 1/32 of an inch. We prayed that the water was ok, inasmuch as we had no water nor were we able to figure out where water is added, but it did not over heat. However it was impossible to close the hood properly. We left the car at Mt. Blue Garage, an historic venue in Weld that looks straight out of One Morning in Maine.
Caiti and Abby Rose Boles seated with their daughters Lily and Violet by the rock in front of DD Marcia’s camp.
June 18, 2011 Saturday:
Odd weather today. It was in the 70’s and mostly sunny but there were intermittent thunderstorms and brief showers. In the evening the cows were up at the barn with the sheep as they waited for me to let them into their night quarters. I was struck by how sleek and shiny the cows look.
DD Abby spent a lot of time in the garden weeding and planting. The bugs are terrible. She wore a head net and long sleeves but I think she still was assaulted. She planted cucumbers. I should also have been planting things but instead worked on my review of Simon Fairlie’s book, Meat: a Benign Extravagance that I began way back in February. I finally got it into condition to send it off to DS Bret for corrections and help with the Klieber citation.
June 19, 2011 Sunday:
The weather was bright and clear with a stiff breeze. Jasmine continues to give 1 ¾ gallons. Otis came today and accomplished a lot. He cleared around my rose, Fantin Latour, that was whacked off last year by a helper. It has regrown marvelously and its first blooms are opening. I gave it a lot of whey all last summer.
Laurie Kennedy had her recital for her string students today. First on the program was the quartet in which Roshan plays. They did the Presto from Mozart’s String Quartet in G Major, K.156. I thought Roshan was the best. Her intonation and time keeping are perfect and her tone production is perfectly reliable. There were several soloists including some early beginners and all performed very well. The final soloist was Luke Pane (pronounced Panay), age 17, who played Sibelius: Concerto in D Minor, 1st Movement. I was not familiar with the work. It is very beautiful. His playing was almost unimaginably good. Laurie told us that he won 1st prize of $1000 with it at a competition last week, along with a Bach partita, which I wish I had heard. He was accompanied by his mother, Lily Funahashi, who is superb. Laurie herself deserves a prize for her teaching. There was a lovely buffet, much of the food prepared by Mitra.
I did not get to see Martin’s family at all although they were up this weekend.
June 20, 2011 Monday:
The weather today was fine and clear. I don’t know if it got hot enough to germinate corn and squash. I have my doubts. The things that are up look good. A bunch of phone calls came together with the result of my taking delivery of 150 bales of local hay made by Leonard Hutchinson. Ernie came down from Weld and brought a friend. Leonard also brought a high school boy and they set up the hay elevator and quickly had the hay in the loft. First cut of course, but it looks good. Another 150 is coming tomorrow morning, according to plan.
DS Max and DIL Mitra put on a nice BBQ chicken dinner in honor of Ernie’s 34th birthday, which was Saturday. Marcia, Ernie and Abby Rose and of course baby Violet were all present. As soon as Abby and I got back here we went to the barn and did the evening chores. Otis showed up to work for a while and brought his dog Zeus, a pit bull cross. Zeus attacked my cat, Stanley. I was standing right there in the buttery and yelled and Otis ran up and pulled Zeus away. Stanley ran out of sight and I have not seen him since. Zeus shook him awfully hard and may have injured his spine but there was no blood on the floor.
As it turned out, I did get a second load of hay. Ernie came over and Ernie’s friend from Weld were all here and together with Leonard they put it into the barn. One does feel a lot better when hay is in the barn. I got a lot of mosquito bites, though.
June 21, 2011 Tuesday:
We did a great deal of searching and calling today, Abby and I, but no sign of Stanley. However about 8pm I went out on the deck and called again and then made meowing sounds. Suddenly Stanley was rubbing against my ankles! At some point he must have returned to the buttery, as several of us saw him flee down the granite steps that lead to the garden. He is uninjured. I rubbed him all over and he did not flinch. Zeus had his jaws clamped on Stanley’s back and was violently shaking him so it is amazing that he is not injured. I thought it not unlikely that his back was broken.
This afternoon I attempted to reproduce the wonderful dip or relish that John Dhyrburg made last week for Hailey’s party. Abby thinks it turned out very creditably. Thanks John! But I wish I had the real recipe and the one for the shrimp mousse too. It was divine.
June 22, 2011 Wednesday:
Today was fair until late afternoon when it turned cloudy and muggy. Rain was not predicted but by now we could use some. Maine soil is sandy and dries out fast. I still have not planted my beans but today I set two poles and prepared the ground for pole beans. I should be able to get them in tomorrow. Abby worked for hours in the paddock garden. Things are barely coming up. A number of corn shoots have been snipped off by cutworms. Growing food is hard work! My mock orange bush is in full bloom in front of the barn. What a magnificent bush it is. I’d say it is 7 ft high and equally wide and is covered with highly fragrant white flowers.
DD Marcia gave me a lot of her potted plants including a lime tree about 3 ft tall in a 12 inch pot. I think it likes it here. It has many flowers open. Abby moved it under the kitchen window so the scent can waft in. Stanley is acting tired and subdued.
June 23, 2011 Thursday:
The day started out rainy and never stopped. I paid Marcia a visit at camp. It is sad to see it denuded of its lovely furnishings but the gardens are beautiful as ever.
Back here at the farm, DD Abby made Scotch eggs from the Aga cookbook. She had never eaten one and wanted to see what they are like. Hers turned out looking and tasting very professional. For the sausage component, I defrosted a pound of ground pork and seasoned it. For those unfamiliar with a Scotch egg, you peel hardboiled eggs and make a coating of sausage, then roll them in crumbs and deep fry, preferably in lard, which of course I have on hand.
It was so dark and wet today that we put down hay for the cows and sheep. Abby spread fresh bedding.
June 24, 2011 Friday:
Once again it rained much of the day. Things are pretty sodden. Abby did some gardening but I did not. My day got off to a halting start when I found that Jasmine was not waiting in the barn but was instead down by the river. She ignored my calls. I had little inclination to wade through the wet grass to drive her to the barn. I just went out and called again periodically and finally her conscience got the best of her about 11 o’clock. This annoyance reinforced my inclination to dry her off. Probably Monday will be the last day I milk. That way I will have milk for Laurie and perhaps some more for the guests staying at the Grohman’s camp, my cousin Sylvia and her friends. These are all ladies in their fifties who are here for a sort of high school reunion. One of the ladies, Julie, was my farm apprentice here many years ago.
June 25, 2011 Saturday:
Another inch of rain fell last night.
Jasmine is now officially getting dried off. She pulled the same stunt today as yesterday. She saw and heard me calling her and looked away. I don’t know whether she is tired of being milked or is so happy with her grass that she is not tempted by 2 lbs of COB. Maybe something of both. The sheep came bounding up as usual.
I tried making St. LouisGooey cake again today, this time using honey instead of Karo. It baked faster and scorched around the edges and had a consistency that was more gummy than gooey. DD Abby was kind enough to say it was good; she offered to make a custard sauce for it beneath which almost any cake would be fit to eat.
We went to Rumford for supplies which was fun, although rising prices dampen one’s satisfaction. What I did not buy: gorgeous California strawberries in quart boxes priced at only $2.98. Regulations were relaxed this year permitting Methyl Iodide to join the other pesticides already in use. Goodbye strawberries.
June 26, 2011 Sunday:
Hurrah! No rain today. I am so glad because a group of ladies I know have rented Martin and Amy’s camp for the week. I want them to have good weather. Some of them visited me today and we ate cookies and looked at the sights on the farm. The cows were up in the beefer pen and were very friendly. I am hoping for pictures. They took lots.
I got into the garden briefly and liberated a rose by the front gate. Bittersweet is invading there very badly.
After missing two milkings, Jasmine was painfully stuffed tonight so I milked her and got about 2 ½ gallons. One quarter was a bit salty.
June 28, 2011 Tuesday:
Jasmine seems to be in a steady state and not suffering. DD Abby rubbed her udder with Dynamint, just the left front quarter.
Last night all the cows were in after the sheep were folded. Abby thought they wanted hay so opened one of the heavy bales they did not stack. She said it was already musty and quite hot. I just read in Hoard’s “Only you can prevent hay bale fires”, so I got out my probe thermometer and flashlight and did a barn check. I probed about 10 bales and none was over 80F,most were 77F. Now I feel a little more confident. They cows were all in so I also checked Jasmine’s udder. I thought the left front quarter, the one I am concerned about, was warmer than the others but that is the part she was lying on. Her heavy quarter is not in trouble. It is now 9:30 and the fireflies are out.
Abby worked a long time in the garden despite a renewed onslaught of black flies. She had a head net and bug dope but I still think they were attacking her badly. I went into the garden undefended and had to leave after 15 minutes. But I was rewarded by the first radishes. I have been hoping they would be big enough to eat before DD Marcia leaves for CA. I will be able to take her a few on the 4th when we get together at her place for the last time. She is nearly packed up so we will be eating on paper plates and I will bring a few folding chairs.
My rose, Fantin Latour, that got cut off last year at ground level, has come back wonderfully. It must have100 blooms now.
Everything in the garden is doing well except the corn. It is now apparent that the crows are getting it. There is also considerable cutworm molestation.
Willie, my Westie, rolled in a cowpat and stained himself all greenish-black. Abby gave him a shampoo in the bathtub so he is again lovable.
Abby found a perfectly huge spider in her house last night. We looked them up on the Internet and think it is a Hobo. She said it was so big she was afraid to kill it so captured it in a peanut butter jar and took it to the field across the road. I did not quite follow this reasoning.
June 29, 2011 Wednesday:
Warm and moist today with a couple of showers. Later it cleared. I met with the friends from camp for a nice meal at Kawanhee. It was prime rib night and this is what we all ordered.
I fully intended to get down to the veg garden and weed and trim out the garlic. It is putting up its scapes and they need to be removed. The scapes are the stems with a seed head that come up with a charming loop. They are tender and crunchy with a fresh garlic taste. They need to come off so that the plant will put its energy into the bulb. DD Marcia was here briefly and I took her to the garden and pulled some radishes and lettuce for her.
Yesterday I made the product called Chelation Pesto that someone once put on the forum. It is said to remove toxins in case one is harboring any. It is very tasty. It calls for Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh coriander, garlic, lemon juice, salt and flax oil but I used grape oil. Instead of garlic cloves I used garlic scapes.
June 30, 2011 Thursday:
Abby brought disheartening news from the corn patch. There won’t be any corn this year. The crows have gotten it all but fewer than a dozen shoots. It is too late now to replant. Besides, after the huge amount of work Abby put into the corn I would not like to see her suffer another disappointment.
I weeded the garlic for nearly an hour and got less than half done. I also picked a basket of scrapes; lots more of these to cut. I also baked a dish of chicken liver pate.
I milked Jasmine today, most likely for the last time before she freshens in September. I got 1 ¾gallons after skipping three days. Milk flavor in the quarter I was worried about was perfect. The rear left was slightly salty as was the rear right. I will keep a close watch.
Three of the friends from camp came down for tea. Julie Jones brought a lovely apple pie. She is clearly an expert pie maker. She also brought a handmade pincushion patched together with vintage materials which she uses for all her sewing projects. We drank tea a and had a jolly visit.
We all visited the veg garden which was fun but the mosquitoes are if anything, worse.
July 01, 2011 Friday:
A tragedy with one of the lambs was narrowly averted. It would have been my fault. I had seen from the deck that a considerable length of electric fencing tape was detached from the insulators and lying on the ground and had not gone right down to fix it. The fence is not on. Abby heard one of the lambs making awful noises and ran in the house to alert me and to grab scissors. The lamb that was born last, Louisey, had her neck and a hind leg tangled in the tape. Her mother, Martha, raced out to help. We soon had her free and all was well. But it’s a lesson.
I made a recipe from King Arthur flour for doughnut flavored muffins. I swapped out some of the white flour for whole wheat and used melted lard instead of oil. They turned out perfectly and really do taste like doughnuts but a lot less trouble. They made a big hit.
I was expecting to have Martin and Amy, the kids and her dad Ken here for burgers. The kids used to call them “burglers” and that name has stuck. I am close to being out of ground beef but thought we might as well eat it up. But when the family stopped in it was agreed that instead we would cook up at the lake on the grill. I made a pesto style dip with garlic scapes, homemade mayo and a few seasonings. This was very good. We were also able to bring lettuce from the garden. I also took along the custard I made yesterday. It turned out especially well.
After we ate, Martin took us all out in his motor boat to see evening fall on Tumbledown. I love boat rides.
Mitra’s folks have arrived for a nice long summer visit. Alex has been in Iran for two months visiting family while Marie remained in CA. Cousin Santiago returned to his family in Cuernavaca.
July 02, 2011 Saturday:
Now the crows have eaten all the pole beans that were coming up. Very discouraging. Abby has covered the 4 or 5 that remain. I have some more seed and she intends to try replanting tomorrow.
I finished weeding the garlic and cutting the scapes. It is a 15ft double row. I got the new asparagus patch, the one DD Marcia put in last fall, partly weeded. Then I was wiped out.
Old Helen is limping on her left front. I think I will start up the turmeric again.
DD Abby made a yummy dinner tonight, fried fish fillets in parsley sauce, soba noodles and steamed artichokes. I made the family’s favorite artichoke sauce: melted butter, soy sauce, brewer’s yeast and a bit of mayo or cream. There is no better sauce for artichokes. Just melt the butter and stir in the other ingredients.
There was a story on the front page of the paper today about an experienced farm worker in Farmington,near Max and Mitra, who was killed yesterday by a bull.
July 03, 2011 Sunday:
Weather today was mostly warm drizzle.
Old Helen has got a terrible limp and can barely walk. I can’t make out if it is her foot or her shoulder. Abby fixed up a bucket of comfrey with turmeric and molasses to help her deal with inflammation but Jasmine got a lot of it. We will give her some more in the morning. I am afraid that if she goes down I will not be able to get her up.
I learned some more about the man who was killed by a bull. He was 55 years old and raised on a dairy farm and had always worked with cattle. He was trying to return the bull to its proper field when it turned on him and crushed him with its head and hooves. He was able to make a cell phone call to his buddies at the barn. They got him to safety but he died in the hospital. He had worked at Sandy River Farm for 12 years and was very well liked. The bull has gone to live at McDonald’s. You can’t have an animal like that around.
The Sandy River Farm is where Max and Mitra get milk now that Nellie is dry.
July 04, 2011 Monday, Independence Day:
The weather today was completely ideal apart from a 10 minute shower with thunder and lightening.
DS Martin came down from camp this morning and used the Kubota to improve access to the beefer pen, making it easier for Helen to get in and out. Abby made up a big comfrey, turmeric and molasses salad for her which she gobbled. She seemed much better today and went out with the other two to graze. I did not actually observe her walking, only standing, but she went all the way down to the river.
Martin brought Hannah (5) and Henry (3) with him. They played with the toys and played the piano. They got to ride in daddy’s lap for a minute when he moved the tractor. Henry is besotted with the tractor. Hannah went upstairs by herself to the playroom and elaborately furnished the doll house with a boy’s room (crammed nearly to the ceiling with little cars and a piece of toy railroad track) and a girl’s room (neatly made bed and pretty furnishings). I don’t see much of a future for that psychologist with a hot new child rearing theory intended to teach parents how to socialize their children into a sort of unisex.
We had a very fine get together out at Marcia’s camp. This will really be the last one. DS Mark and DIL Annie and granddaughter Hailey came, 19 in all. Everything is packed and into shipping pods. We ate off of paper and plastic. The picnic tables are staying. We had shish kabobs grilled by Max, Iranian saffron rice (Mitra), ratatouille that I made, salad (Ken, Amy’s dad) several other dishes, and brownies and blondies(Abby). Everything was excellent. I got a lovely sail in the Hobie Cat with Max after which I had to walk around in pants soaked from waist to ankles.
Santiago, Shireen andRoshan’s Mexican cousin who spent the last year with them, is now back in Cuernavaca. His mother Liza and the two boys may soon move to the USA. Very recently Liza’s best friend was kidnapped in broad daylight while out shopping and spent 36 hours crammed into the trunk of a car until her father came up with the ransom. Mexico is scary.
July 6, 2011 Wednesday:
The weather yesterday and today was very fine. Dr. Cooper was here for lunch. Helen has mysteriously started to come back into milk. I had Dr. Cooper do a preg check on her in case by some chance her blood test had been in error, but she is open. He checked Fern and she is in calf.
Abby is continuing to make the comfrey turmeric salad for Helen.
At 4:30 in the middle of a day of fine weather a bad storm blew in. Violent wind, rain and lightening arrived and knocked out the power. I spent the evening wearing a headlamp.
July 07, 2011 Thursday:
Early this morning I brought the cows in and milked Helen just to see what I would get. I got a bit over a pint of something resembling colostrum which I bravely tasted. It tasted like colostrum, not appealing but not sickly. Sally is anxious for me to try and get her back into milk so I will see what can be done.
Helen and Jasmine both need hoof trimming. The trimmer may be able to come next week.
The power remained out for 20 hours. My Aga runs on propane and I have gravity fed running spring water in the kitchen and I have a land line phone. Nonetheless, I got a clear hint of what it is like to be without electricity and have no idea of when it is coming back. Having no computer is about the worst.
July 08, 2011 Friday:
I was up before six and a good thing I was as there was one thing after another all day. I milked Helen for 5 minutes or so directly onto the ground just to keep things moving. She was in full heat for the first time in 8months, so far as I ever observed. The hoof trimmer whom I was expecting next week called to say he was free and could he come this morning so I said yes. He did Helen and Jasmine. Jasmine’s feet were definitely ready but Helen was in shockingly bad shape. She was last trimmed late last fall and has had no grain in over a year so I don’t know what her excuse was. The edges of couple of hooves were rolled under and two were crossed. She has been limping some but I was two preoccupied today to be able to observe if her gait has improved. There was no infection in any of their feet.
DD Marcia left today for California and this was not without drama. Her place is for sale and the agent wanted to bring people at 4:30. Marcia had somebody lined up to clean tomorrow but was forced to clean it all by herself today while also loading the car and travel trailer. She had hoped to leave by noon but actually left just ahead of the people coming to view the place. They will have a slow trip because Abby Rose can’t nurse the baby unless they stop. And there are three dogs: 2 Chihuahuasand a great large male Akita. Also two cats. Fortunately, apart from one of the Chihuahuas, all the animals are companionable. Moving is hell.
DS John in Adelaide, Australia, leaves today for a couple of weeks in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He will be consulting on tidal currents in the Persian Gulf.
I received a package from him today. It is something which until recently I knew nothing of: tablia. It is pure home grown chocolate. In the Philippines some people have trees in their back yard that produce chocolate. It seems so amazing and exotic. A relative of John’s wife, Lou, has such a tree and they were able to arrange for her to send some of her home processed chocolate which is called tablia meaning tablets. The tree produces beans which are ground and kneaded, then rolled into a long piece that is cut into little rounds about 1” in diameter. They smell lovely.
A poor little bantam rooster drowned today in one of the cattle water tanks.
Here are a few pictures from last week’s visit with our friends from camp who came down for tea. Julie Jones brought a lovely apple pie. She is clearly an expert pie maker. She also brought a handmade pincushion patched together with vintage materials which she uses for all her sewing projects. We drank tea a and had a jolly visit.
July 09, 2011 Saturday:
During the night it rained hard with thunder and lightning. Today the world was beautiful. I milked Helen for about 5 minutes with her just standing nicely among the others in the beefer pen. I plan to bring her into her stanchion tomorrow and rub her udder with Dynamint and work a little harder on the milking. In the beefer pen I have Fern sniffing my ears all the time.
DD Marcia called to say their travel was delayed by a call from the movers telling her that one of the pods was too heavy for their equipment to shift and they would all need to return to the staging yard and repack some of the contents into an additional pod. Fortunately they had only reached Rumford, a half hour from here, when they got this news. They spent the night in a Motel 8 in Portland entertained by Kuma, Ernie’s Akita, barking. Later Ernie put him into the travel trailer where he damaged a window. Ernie rounded up a crew of acquaintances to move the stuff. I guess Marcia, Abby, Baby Violet and the dogs and cats sat around the motel parking lot, since Ernie needed the Tahoe to go do the work.
DD Abby and I went up to camp where Abby did some watering and I got some things out of the frig. I left home without boxes to put the food into so will return tomorrow to finish the job.
DS Max left today for a job in PA. He will be gone the rest of this month I think.
July 10, 2011 Sunday:
I heard nothing from Marcia today. They were supposed to reach my granddaughter Helena’s house this evening. Abby and I went back out to camp and cleaned out the frig. She left lots of yummy stuff. It was like a shopping spree at a gourmet shop.
The last gallon of milk I got from Jasmine was labeled June 25. I drank some last night and it was unimpaired. Well, at 15 days old it had lost some of its charm but there was nothing to complain about. It had even lived through the 20 hour power outage when the milk reached 60 F. I scalded what was left this morning and now have a pitcher of pasteurized milk. Using this approach one can have milk for quite a while after drying off. I also have about 10 quarts frozen but no cream.
July 12, 2011 Tuesday:
Yesterday and today were in the high 80’s with high humidity. It was very hard to work but somehow we did.
I heard from DD Marcia and family. They expected to reach Indianapolis tonight. She sounded pretty cheerful. The car is behaving but the travel trailer is too hot for the cats so they have 3 dogs and 2 cats in the car with them. There is a serious heat wave where they are.
Abby and I stayed home today. She worked outside quite a bit. We did not bother trying to milk Helen today. It was so hot and although yesterday she gave a cup or so of whatever you call it, it showed no change in the direction of real milk. All the animals spend most of their time in the shade. The flies are getting bad. The mosquitoes are exceptionally thick this year. Last night I woke up at 3am because my ankles were itching insanely. I had a tube of toothpaste in my nightstand and rubbed that on – I had heard that it helps and it did. Jewel Weed also takes away itching. I tried that a couple of times today. There is plenty growing near the house.
The high point of my day was sending off the review of Meat: The benign extravagance to my editor. I hope she has not changed her mind, or if she has, I hope she lets me know soon. Then I made bread. I will give myself a couple of days off from writing.
July 13, 2011 Wednesday:
It rained a bit more and things cooled down enough to stop the complaining among humans and beasts. Yesterday the cows were reluctant to graze.
Dear Holly and Richard came over today and picked the first of the black currants. They helped Abby and me catch a poor little bantam hen that Abby discovered in the barnyard with one chick. She was hobbled badly by a string off of a feedbag. It was wrapped onto her poor little feet so that she could scarcely walk. She could still scuttle very fast and we barely caught her. One toe has already fallen off and the string was wrapped so tight that blood was leaking on her legs and other toes. Random strings are so deadly. Richard had scissors on his Swiss army knife and Holly soon got the string off. The chick ran off and could not be found but the hen wanted to go under the barn and we are pretty sure her chick was under there.
Then Mitra and the girls and Mitra’s parents, Marie and Alex came over. The girls wanted to explore the old dress-up collection in order to costume themselves for attendance at the new Harry Potter movie. Roshan,with her new haircut, is a perfect Harry Potter the minute she puts on her black rimmed glasses. Shireen found a long gown and a witch’s hat among the clothing so she will be perfect too.
I made another coconut cake.
The phone rang and my friend with a health food store in Rumford wanted to know if I would take two barn kittens from a customer’s feral cat. Except for Stanley, I have not had any cats for over a year. I have turned down several offers because I wanted young cats, young enough that they would be intimidated by the hens. If raised around ferocious mother hens they do not swipe chicks. These are almost too young but the owner was anxious for them to be gone. I suppose they are a month old. They do drink from a bowl and we saw one use its little litter box. Abby has made them comfortable in a large cat carrier in the kitchen. I found them plenty to eat, milk and raw ground beef, and they both ate a lot. I also saw to it that they had several drops of cod liver oil. They are grey striped. They got filled up and went to sleep.
Max is working down in Uniontown PA and had an adventure with a bear:
I got up early and went on a bike ride before work this morning. The area is all very mountainous and this ride was no exception. As I ground my way up a five mile climb I was surprised to see a medium sized black bear cross the road about 200 feet up the road ahead, close enough that I could smell it. (bletch) I yelled at it to beat it into the woods and kept pedaling. The bear crossed the road and powered up the embankment and out of sight into the trees. Then a very young cub popped out from under the guard rail quite close to me. Alarmed now, I turned away back downhill about 100 feet. The cub waited a moment, then it’s sibling popped out and they both ran off after Mom. I started back up the hill again. When I got back up to where they crossed, a third cub came flying out and nearly knocked me off my bike! I did my best Lance Armstrong impression and took off up the hill and put some distance between myself and said bears.
Other than a moment of wondering if I was going to be a news report (“Cyclist Gnawed by Bear”, or, “Mother Bear bites Maine man”) it was a nice ride.
July 14, 2011 Thursday:
It was not so hot today and I worked in the garden for a while tying up tomatoes.
The world looks beautiful everywhere, the pastures, the mountains, and all around the farm. Sad to see the roses fade. They are an early summer treat. The veg garden is not producing much (it got a late start) but Abby picked enough lettuce for a salad. There are a lot of weeds. There are also hundreds of poppies and calendulas self seeded from last year. Together with the drifts of feverfew it is a lovely sight all the same.
The kittens are doing well on Abby’s frequent feeding program involving milk, colostrum and raw ground beef.
We have not seen the tiny injured bantam and chick. Abby reached feed and water under the barn and something ate it. So maybe she is under there.
Marcia and family have reached Lincoln, NE. They are at a lovely camp ground with a pond where Ernie went fishing. But Marcia is disappointed that there is no prairie to be seen. It is all corn and soy.
July 15, 2011 Friday:
Fine weather today although now towards evening, it begins to look thundery.
Still no sign of the injured bantam hen with one chick. The kittens are doing pretty well, one slightly better than the other.
Abby and I went to Farmington for a round of power shopping starting with the farmers’ market where we saw Mitra. There were quite a few customers milling around, everyone looking quite cheerful. I bought a box of strawberries. We drove out to White Water Farm for COB and 4 lbs of local butter, and then on the way back to town stopped at Sandy River Farm where we bought 3 gallons of milk and 2 quarts of cream. Several more stops and came home with a loaded car. I had brought along a couple of insulated boxes.
Back here at the farm, Martin had arrived and was getting out the tractor to drive it to Weld. The sky is a bit worrisome but if he and his partner Ted Semonik agree, they will start cutting tonight.
I sent out food for our dinner and will proceed to camp shortly to join Amy, her dad and the kids for supper.
9:30 No hay cutting this evening. They are all set for tomorrow.
We had a satisfying meal together at the lake. Hannah and Henry are a charming pair, frequently giving each other hugs and whispering secrets. They are 5 and 3 now. I suppose we should take pictures of this now as by next year they may be more like I remember my sister and me. “She touched me! She has her foot on my side of the seat!”
The meatloaf and beans that I made turned out well. Amy’s dad, Ken, brought greens from his garden and we had a fine salad.
July 16, 2011 Saturday:
Fine weather, hot but not unbearable. 80 something.
Martin and Ted cut hay at Dummer’s in Weld and will need a crew tomorrow. It might be just them and Abby and me.
Abby finished weeding the asparagus and the raspberries. Looks like we might get a crop. She also picked the rest of the red currants. The birds got most of them but she got enough to make 5 half pint jars of whole fruit preserves. I whacked out a lot of comfrey and other giant weeds that were creeping up on the tomatoes. And we both ran my light battery driven weed trimmer on some of the worst shaggy spots. I did the wee patch of lawn in my “secret garden”.
I braised a meaty beef shank which we ate for dinner. It was mighty good. We also had a green salad from Ken’s greens and scalloped potatoes.
July 17, 2011 Sunday:
Now I know I’m a redneck. DD Marcia left a bunch of furniture in my garage. Today I sat lolling on a couch in the open garage door with my limping yellow dog watching the traffic while chickens pecked around. (Reason I was sitting: we are haying and there were lots of goings and comings and dogs and little kids running around so Grandma here felt the need to closely supervise).
Poor Martin is working essentially alone on the haying. All the men in the family are gone away right now. But you should see Henry (3) do his best to get involved. He longs to be big enough to help. He carries a toy farm implement clasped in each hand and sank down on the lawn in a dejected heap when told to stay away from the hay elevator.
Martin worked until after dark. Amy went to help him around 6 and they got a load here about 9. Abby helped stack. Some of the bales are pretty heavy. I may have to crack some. I had dinner ready for them. They left about 10:30. There are a lot of bales still on the field so they will be back tomorrow.
July 18, 2011 Monday:
At 2am last night a violent wind storm hit without warning. Thinking it might bring rain, Martin got up and drove to the hay field to spread tarps over the stacked bales. Fortunately for the hay, it did not rain.
The family worked on the hay again today assisted by cousins Holly and Richard. It was very hot hard work and most of the crew is unused to heavy lifting but we got the hay into the barn. We are grateful to have a hay elevator. I can’t imagine how these heavy bales could otherwise have been gotten up to the loft. I think we got in close to 200. Martin will know.
I gave them lunch. It was pearl couscous with ham and chicken and various chopped veg and dried fruit. The ham and chicken were from Max and Mitra. I also steamed a big pot of greens, lamb’s quarters and chard. The chard was grown by Grandpa Ken. The lamb’s quarters is usually called pigweed around here. It is chenapodium. I probably have that spelled wrong (goose foot is another name). We have a lush growth everywhere that we have open ground. It is a tasty and highly nutritious leafy plant. All that I cooked was eaten.
DD Marcia and family called from Santa Rosa CA about 5:30 having had a reasonably uneventful trip. That is not much more than an hour from their destination, Cazadero. She promised to call when they arrive which they should have by now. It is mountainous so maybe there is no coverage.
About 7:30 DD Abby’s DD Helena arrived with her two kids, Natalie (5) and Logan (4). I fed them more of the couscous. Helena now has her own restaurant, a creperie and bakery. She brought a selection of the pastries she now makes. They are highly professional looking and included linzertorte, peanut butter cream pie, NY cheese cake and cream puffs. There were also perfect little French cream filled cookies, marrons I think.
July 19, 2011 Tuesday:
I had an appointment in Lewiston this morning to get my denture relines so has to leave early. I expected to be gone all day but the technician said it was a different problem relating to a poorly fitting clamp. The good news is I got to come right home instead of hanging about all day waiting for the relining. The bad news is the repair costs more than relining and I have to go back next week and waste another day. It is an hour and a half drive each way.
Back at the farm, DD Abby was assembling a picnic to take to the lake. We thought of going to DD Marcia’s now vacant camp but DIL Amy invited us to her place. Helena and her two, Natalie and Logan were of course included and Mitra and the girls came over from New Sharon. There was lots of splashing with the water toys and racing in the water by Amy and Martin’s dog Milo and Mitra’s two black labs, Lulu and Zoe. Willie, my Westie, tried to join in but he is short legged and can’t go in very far and the other dogs were not interested in playing with him. Abby brought along a big bag of comfrey and another of burdock for Mitra’s cow Nellie to ease calving problems.
Helena and the kids joined us for supper here at the farm.
July 20, 2011 Wednesday:
Another hot day. High humidity too. It is hard to work.
Long after I had despaired of seeing her again, today, peeking down through a crack in the barn floor, Abby spied the little hen that lost her toes and her one chick. Abby has continued to shove food and water under the barn. I had just a little bit of clabber, result of a pint of milk left in the car, and Abby put that under the barn for them. I hope the hen will get up her courage soon to come out.
Holly and Richard came by and picked black currants. They kindly gave half of them to me. I will save them for a few days in hopes of cooler weather. Here is a cute picture taken by Holly opf my old limping dog Bagel and one of our new kittens.
We have one more load of hay to get in tomorrow.
Marcia called from California. She is delighted with her new place. The house is charming and the grounds contain many flowers and vegetables. There are lots of blackberry vines now bearing.
DS John wrote from the airport in Melbourne on his way home from the UAE. He was treated very graciously by the Arabs and his proposals are under consideration.
July 21, 2011 Thursday:
I believe we are now officially in a heat wave. The thermometer in my granite cellar 6 ft underground registered almost 70f. I put some hay down for the animals. They would not go out to graze. I did not bring in the sheep tonight. Their room gets so hot and stuffy with nine woolies in there.
This morning we got in the last of the hay, 50 bales. Holly and Richard came to help out and Helena was also here so it did not take long.
Helena and the kids spent the day with us here at the farm and Amy and the kids visited for awhile.
Martin and Amy put on a birthday pizza dinner for Abby and me out at the lake. We had earlier envisioned all going to Kawanhee Inn but heat and fatigue made the lake a better choice. The kids and dogs all swam. I sat on the deck with a G&T.
Meanwhile poor Mitra was struggling with a new calf. Her cow Nellie calved at 4pm, another heifer. She had hours of struggle trying to help it to nurse. Now Abby has gone over to help. It is 10:30pm, over 80f and very humid. Mitra has milked out some with her machine and they are going to try a bottle.
July 22, 2011 Friday:
So far no relief from the heat. I have an AC unit in the music room and go in there periodically to read. DD Abby has been doing a lot of watering so I guess the more heat loving plants are thriving. The tomatoes may be too hot. They look a bit overwhelmed. The eggplants are not complaining. I may get my first ever decent crop. They like the baking hot bed here on the south side of the house against the brick wall. I have never planted them there before. Among them is a sunflower planted by the birds.
Mitra’s struggles continue with Nellie and the calf. It wants to find the teats high up in Nellie’s armpits (legpits?) where cows used to have them 1000 years ago. Its name is Phoebe, after the mama bird that has hatched a 2nd set of nestlings in their barn. Nellie has terrible edema. Abby will probably go over tomorrow with more burdock root. It is thought to be helpful.
Martin went to a meeting in Skowhegan to talk to a group that is establishing a grist mill.
Today I am 83. DS John reminds me that 83 is a prime number.
July 23, 2011 Saturday:
DD Abby came in with a surprise.
The little hen with one chick that lost her toes that Abby has been spotting under the barn has actually got 6 chicks! So far nothing induces her to take her chances again in the wider world but Abby now puts more feed under the barn. I also suggested she boil some eggs to chop up for them as I doubt there is much insect protein under there.
I often throw vegetable trimmings over the railing of my deck into the pasture below just in case some critter wants to eat them. Now we spy a great big squash plant down there with many blossoms and some kind of small fruits on it and also a lot of potatoes. Abby went down there today and shoveled dirt over the potatoes.
We bid goodbye to Helena today. She did an amazing job of stuffing the car with kids and furniture and some plants from Marcia’s camp and is on her way home to Carlisle PA.
A few days ago I began sprouting some wheat for bread and today I made it. Despite a lifetime of bread baking I have almost never done this and had to get a recipe off the internet. I ground the sprouts in the Cuisinart and added some water, salt, honey, yeast, butter and a couple of cups of whole wheat flour and some raisins. This was a merge of several recipes. It made a promising looking loaf in my 9×12 stoneware pan. However the loaf failed to hold it shape in the oven and spread out like foccacia. I will say it has excellent flavor.
It continues to be hot as blazes. I have left the sheep outside for 3 nights. It is supposed to be a bit cooler tomorrow.
July 24, 2011 Sunday:
The best news today is that Mitra’s new calf found Nellie’s teat at last. Unfortunately this was after Nellie had been in her stanchion a long time and was restless so Phoebe was only on briefly. Mitra then gave her a bottle which she drank. They were together all day so I hope to hear tomorrow that Phoebe sucked again later.
The other good news is that it cooled off a bit. It was still hot, but manageable.
July 25, 2011 Monday:
Drama at 3AM
During the heat wave I have been leaving the sheep out at night on the premise that perhaps they would rather take their chances with coyotes than heat stroke in their hot stuffy stall. Last night, which would have been their 4th night out, the weather had cooled off sufficiently that I decided to bring them in. But the time had slipped away and it was dark and I couldn’t gather them in. So I went to bed. This morning, supposing them still out, I did not go to the barn until 7AM and there they were, all 9 of them, in their stall. Obviously, unless I was losing my marbles, Abby had come back at some point and brought them in. She came over at 9AMand told me that at 3AM over at her place directly across the river from me, she had been awakened by a great chorus of coyotes. She jumped into her pants, jumped into her car, and came over here and brought in the sheep. This required grain and a flashlight which she shone on herself and the grain to encourage them. One ewe, Susie, with twins, keeps separating herself from the others, making it hard to keep them all in one flock.
If the coyotes were over here I don’t know if I would hear them or not being as I am deaf in one ear and my bedroom is on the south side of the house and the open land is on the west. But Abby said they were terrifyingly loud.
Abby has now counted 9 baby chicks under the barn.
Last week’s photo of the haymakers shows Holly on the left, Amy Grohman in the green shirt and Amy’s dad Ken in the front row and Richard and little Henry in the back row. Martin is behind the camera.
Dear Mitra just brought me 2 gallons of fresh milk from Nellie. What a treat! And now Phoebe, the new calf, has learned to nurse from her mom. Here is what her email, earlier, said:
Phoebe was nursing when we went to the barn this morning! Hooray!!! The only scary thing that happened was the pulsator quit on me about a minute into milking. The adrenalin from this occurrence was almost too much to handle. The thought of milking that udder with the half inch long teats had me reeling. By some miracle, I was able to tell what was wrong when I opened it up and I fixed it!!!!! When all was said and done, I had milked out 3.5 gallons. Nellie gave me 6 gallons total yesterday. I think today it will be closer to seven gallons. Holy cow!!!!
Mitra also brought Roshan and her brother David who is visiting from CA. They look wonderful.
I love seeing gallons of milk in the frig again.
July 26, 2011 Tuesday:
Here is an extract of the live blog:
LIVE FROM MADANG: Justice Canning has praised the evidence presented by scientific experts called by the plaintiff landholders. Canning says he finds the evidence presented by Dr. John Luick, an oceanographer and Dr. Gregg Brunskill, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, to be exceptional, despite the objections of the defendants. The judge has also favoured the evidence of Dr. Amanda Reichelt Brushett, an Environmental science expert from Southern Cross University, who gave evidence on the likely environmental impacts of the proposed dumping.
The judge is presenting his final verdict on an application by more than 1,000 landholders for a permanent injunction stopping the dumping of millions of tons of toxic waste into their seas is expected in the next 20 minutes
The landholders legal challenge is the second court case attempting to prevent the marine waste dumping. The first trial was abandoned last year in circumstances the judge described as suspicious when the initial plaintiff’s withdrew their case citing fears for their personal safety. However, hundreds of other landholders then stepped forward to reinstate the proceedings and a full trial was held in February.
On one side in this David versus Goliath legal case is the Chinese State-owned corporation, MCC and its junior partner, Australian based Highlands Pacific, on the other, a thousand or so indigenous landowners from rural villages that have very few basic services. John
July 28, 2011 Thursday:
Great news today! DS Bret will visit after all. It will only be for a week starting Aug 7.
He is bringing the kids too.
DD Sally called to say she had just finished pressure canning 12 canner loads of pint jars of salmon. Each batch is 14 jars. They catch wonderful salmon in the Chilcoot river that runs past her house.
My one Guinea hen has been missing for over a month. There was conjecture that a varmint got her but my theory has always been that she had gone broody on a doomed nest (there is no male bird). For the last few days I have been hearing her in the early morning and now Abby has spied her under the barn floor. She is feeding with the hen with 9 chicks that lost toes. Perhaps she is helping with the chicks. Or perhaps she is just taking a breakfast break.
I made another batch of sprouted wheat bread. This time I put it into regular bread pans so it would not flatten out so much but it still collapsed. Once again it has a very nice taste but limited appeal because it is so dense.
The weather continues pleasantly warm during the day and cool at night. No complaints here.
July 29, 2011 Friday:
Off to Farmington today to catch up on food shopping. We needed eggplants and zucchini for our dinner on Sunday at the lake. Nobody at the farmer’s market had eggplant. They said it is too early. I was surprised because my garden is typicality later that the pros at the market but I have a full sized eggplant ready to pick .I guess I win the eggplant race this year. I did get wonderful raspberries, many of which I ate on the way home. I also got 2 wonderful gallons of milk from Mitra.
There was a charming street fair going on downtown. An excellent group of three singers was performing old timey music. I did not see the name of the group. We popped into the thrift store and I bought a queen sized Bates bedspread in my favorite shade of light green for $6.
At the supermarket we ran into Hilda Heinrich. I believe she is now 93 and perfectly sharp. She has had more than one illness with hospitalization in the last couple of years but has bounced back. She is the mother of author and zoologist, Bernt Heinrich.
While we were away two precious little chicks drowned in the big water trough. Martin found them when he went to the barn to close up the chickens for me so that his dog Milo would not be tempted to misbehave. He and his family had supper with us. Abby made a big hit with her fried scallops. We also had steamed collards and Arborio rice cooked in chicken stock. For dessert I gave them raspberries and blueberries with cream.
July 31, 2011 Sunday:
I will be giving a talk again this year at the MOFGA Common Ground Country Fair. It is at 2pm on Friday, September 23. The title is Your Family Cow: Elite Food Security. Topic suggestions welcomed!
Abby and I staged a picnic today at Marcia’s camp. Yesterday Abby made lasagna and I made ratatouille. DIL Amy’s dad, Ken, sent salad greens. We had a vast array of cheeses and I made a cake. Cousin Holly brought tabouli and she and Richard brought freshly picked blueberries. Mitra and the girls and her parents and brother David joined us and DS Mark drove up from Portland. There were old neighbors in camps up and down the lane. DS Martin and family had guests at their camp so only stopped in briefly. The young men all went out in boats and the kids swam. The weather was perfect. The only thing that went wrong was that despite my detailed check list Abby and I forgot some of the food items here at the farm. We took a full carload of stuff, all the dishes and cutlery, hot plates and a small sound system for Abby’s Brazilian music so I suppose it was inevitable something would be left behind. I had made thinly sliced kohlrabi sprinkled with lime juice and chili flakes that I had really wanted to share.
August 01, 2011 Monday:
I should have been applying myself to my computer but instead spent a long time in the garden. I lifted a lot of the garlic, picked the raspberries and lots of other fun tasks. The Japanese beetles are terrible. I could scarcely pick a berry without knocking offa handful. I wonder if perhaps the birds don’t like the taste of them. It would the easiest thing in the world for a bird to just spend the day at the raspberry buffet.
Abby hacked off a lot more burdock today. She is trying to whack it before it goes to seed. She got a cartload. I wish I had a picture of it.
A thunderstorm blasted through about 5pm with marble size hail. I wonder what it did to the lettuce. I was in the barn and the sound on the metal roof was dramatic. I heard that some places in Maine got 4 ½ inches of rain in 5 hours, or do I have that backwards, 5 ½ inches in 4 hours. Anyway, a lot.
August 02, 2011 Tuesday:
We just had another day that started with sun and changed to an electrical storm by late afternoon. Abby managed to scoot out there and finish the lawn mowing before it started.
We also took a run to Rumford and went to the Free Store, which has reopened due to popular demand. It is such a wonderful concept. It is like any thrift store but everything is free. People donate loads of stuff and shoppers leave a free will offering.
It was cool enough today to encourage the cows and sheep to graze pretty much all day. Everything is thriving. The kittens are getting ambitious to run outside.
DD Sally called. She said a mother grizzly with three cubs had just wandered past her clothesline. She was glad she had brought in the clothes or the cubs, in the name of sport, would likely have torn down her wash.
Sal now has a ticket to arrive October 4.
I simmered a beef soup bone and made lentil soup for supper with cherry tomatoes.
August 03, 2011 Wednesday:
DD Marcia has had her beautiful horse trailer parked in my field for some weeks while it was for sale. Today it was purchased by some nice people from Toronto.
Later DD Abby and I set out on errands starting with a trip to Weld to drop off diesel for the Kubota which ran out of fuel at Semonik’s. It was then that we noticed a burning rubber smell hanging about my car. A short ways later at the PO where we stopped to mail Marcia’s check, it quit when Abby put it in park. The smell was a lot stronger. Chris at Mt. Blue Garage came right down and said it was overheating and would have to stay right where it was until later. I am pretty worried about it. Abby called Ted Semonik and asked for help. He very kindly picked us up and drove us home. Ted has a lovely farm and on the way told me that next year he intends to plow up part of his pasture, now being used for horses, and put in grain. He is going to put some steers on another part of it. He says that he thinks anybody who isn’t giving serious thought to food self sufficiency is not paying attention. I totally agree.
Ted is also an artist so back at the farm I showed him my Sills pottery. I also gave him some eggs.
August 04, 2011 Thursday:
There were showers off and on all day but I managed to spend some time in the garden picking raspberries. There continue to be a lot of Japanese beetles on them but not as many as last time I picked. They are delicious berries.
My tomatoes’ vines look a bit unhealthy. I want to give them a foliar feed of skim milk and water and also must cut back the encroaching comfrey. It is interfering with air circulation.
Mike at Mt Blue Garage had my car done by noon. It was a cooling fan issue. Abby and I proceeded on to Farmington for further stocking up. DS Bret and kids Roger and Maia are coming on Sunday.
My neighbor Ruth Snell who has blueberry bushes sold me 6 freshly picked quarts this evening. I have been hoping to get some berries. I’ll feel better when I have some in the freezer.
August 05, 2011 Friday:
Another fine day.
I used a sickle and whacked out a lot of comfrey that was growing near the tomatoes. Some of them are getting mildewy leaves. In fact they don’t look very exuberant. I thought maybe they needed better air circulation. Some of the cherry tomatoes are producing.
DIL Amy and family (DS Martin drove separately) stopped in on their way to camp. While we were all having a nice chat, Milo, their setter, chased down and killed one of my pullets. He pulled it right out of the air. Now Milo is in disgrace.
Abby made okonomiyaki for our supper. These are easy and a nice change. They are basically shredded cabbage and other seasoned veg in a batter, fried in oil.
Martin brought me a gift of two magnetic side panels for the truck or car that say Coburn Farm. They feature a reproduction of the Lattenden Farm Jersey (our farm in England).
He was a bit late arriving because he was driving up from Albany, NY and on the way across on Rte 2 he picked up a pair of stranded bicyclists who were on their way to Machias, ME from Michigan or somewhere. They had broken spokes. Martin was driving his car with the bike rack and loaded them up and drove the fellows to Mt Blue State Park where they were able to get the last camp site.
August 06, 2011 Saturday:
Today was a hot one, in the 80’s with humidity so high it was almost as though it was raining. I wish I could have gone swimming. DD Abby asked me I remember weather like this when I was a child. No, I don’t. Typically we had cool nights and clear days. There was plenty of rain including thunderstorms but not this humidity. In between rainy days it was clear and often windy. Not this stagnant heat.
The house was so hot. Abby did a lot of cleaning and tidying, many hours. I made bread and baked beans. We are getting ready for DS Bret and kids Maia and Roger tomorrow.
The cows spent a lot of time inside where there are fewer flies and it is a bit cooler.
August 11, 2011 Thursday:
With my Alaskan company here, it has been difficult (as in impossible)to write HD. Their time zone is 4 hours earlier and so their waking and eating schedule is way out of sync. At least that is my excuse. That and doing a lot of cooking.
It rained yesterday and the weather cooled off today at last. We had a family picnic at DD Marcia’s camp at the lake. I made turkey in mole sauce using the last of my turkeys. I have never before even tasted a mole sauce let alone made one. I followed a recipe in Authentic Mexican Cooking by Rick Bayless. It was authentic all right. He calls for 26 ingredients and(mercifully) suggests spreading the prep over 3 days. I did it in 2 days. As it happened I had all the ingredients on hand except for one kind of pepper called mulato. To find one in Maine would take far longer than 3 days. For the chocolate component I used some of the tablia from Cebu in the Philippines that was sent me by DS John. It is a very honest chocolate. Everybody liked the turkey mole and those with a Mexican connection were kind enough to declare it to be about right. I actually own a bottle of mole sauce brought me by Shireen and Roshan’s Mexican cousin Santiago and another time will use it. This time I wanted to try it from scratch.
I also made a veg dish involving eggplant. This too was pretty good. One of my plants has already produced five of the long skinny ones and lots more to come.
In the meantime, Maia and granddaughter Shireen, who has joined us this week, made a highly successful sponge cake with freshly made blackberry sauce. The blackberries are now starting.
Roshan is at Fiddle Camp.
Until I can get the fence in the North Field restored I am having to feed some hay. River Field is getting a bit thin and also the heat inhibits grazing.
My neighbor whom I hire to clean out the barn was here this week. It took him 10 hours and he is a steady worker. Think Augean stables. I follow the deep litter method.
Last night one of the 6 month old lambs came in with what appeared to be a broken ankle, her left rear. This morning I was able to catch and confine her and got DS Bret and DD Abby out there to help me decide what to do. The break is in what in a horse is the pastern. Nobody had any stomach for butchering her. We decided to try splinting and wrapping it. Of course I could not find my vet wrap. I suggested wrapping with paper toweling for the first layer. Bret followed this with wooden splints sandwiching the break. All I could think of to use to wrap it was duct tape so he used that and I think he did a good job. I kept the lamb in today with hay and water but this evening when I let the others in she got right up and walked around to get the little smattering of grain I always put out. She scarcely appeared to favor her broken leg. I was amazed. However Bret is worried that it might swell and that would be bad.
Tonight I served rack of lamb. It was fantastic, almost enough to make me keep putting up with sheep. I had it completely at room temperature and rubbed it with fresh herbs in olive oil with garlic and a little salt. I also made brown rice my favorite way. All the kids wanted seconds.
In a pan with a good lid heat butter or other fat, about 3 tablespoons. Add one or more tablespoons of curry powder or other spice combo such as cumin and coriander seed. Tonight I used Madras curry powder. Heat until the spices begin to give back the fat. Then add a measured amount of short grain brown rice. Stir until all the grains are hot and coated with fat. Then pour on boiling stock double the volume of the rice. Tonight I used 2 cups of rice and a quart of stock. Stir and boil for a minute or two, then cover and steam for 45 – 50 minutes. I always put the pan in the oven to cook. This way it does not stick.
I forgot to mention that the girls picked two big buckets of apples from my old apple tree in the pasture. They also picked blackberries.
Roshan is home from Fiddle Camp and is here with us. It sounds as though she loved every minute. She adored a 6 year old Czech boy who plays the cello like an angel. She made lots of friends. They did daily concerts, she got lots of training and every evening they were taught traditional dances.
August 13, 2011 Saturday:
Another very busy day. I let the lame sheep out with the rest of the flock which was not a good idea judging from advice on the forum. Tomorrow I will keep her in. She acts perky. I wish I knew how she broke her ankle.
The cows were able to come back into the beefer pen today to their great satisfaction.
DS Bret took his kids and Shireen and Roshan to swim at Coos Canyon, a popular recreation spot where intrepid young folks can jump off a cliff into a deep pool. Roshan took the most jumps, seven. I think I heard that it was about 25 feet.
In the evening Bret and the kids organized a modest cookout at the lake with hot dogs. The menu was enhanced by a pizza that Bret learned from a friend. It can be made right on the grill with the lid down. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle it with cut up Turkish figs. Then sprinkle on gorgonzola cheese. It is amazingly delicious. Bret forgot the step where you presoak the figs in sweet sherry but really, they were fine as they were. Bret and the kids took piles of blankets and pillows and are spending the night on the floor in Marcia’s camp. When Abby and I left, the moon was bright and the kids were back in the lake. It is nice to see the kids enjoying the lake so much, as my sister and I did long ago at our Grammie’s camp two doors down.
Across the river from my house, which is very close as sound travels, is a campground. Periodically they have big organized parties with a karaoke sound system. Tonight the moon is about full and I expect they will be at it for hours. I plan to sleep on my good ear.
I received this picture from DD Sally in AK. The picture is of Sally’s husband Tom and their grandson Torleif and this is the view from her house.
August 14, 2011 Sunday:
Bret and his kids and Shireen and Roshan had a lot of fun sleeping up at camp. They all bundled back down here about 10:30 this morning and had a swim in the river before going to Max and Mitra’s for a family party for Roshan’s 13th birthday. I have been writing that she and Roger were 14 but had it wrong.
Abby and I made more food to take along. Abby made scalloped potatoes and an apple pie (Roshan’s favorite). I made a big green salad in which I was able to include the first of our tomatoes. Among her pre dinner snacks Mitra served kale chips. These are lovely and crispy.
Roshan is still high over her Fiddle Camp adventure.
I got to meet Phoebe, Nellie’s calf now 4 weeks old. She is a beauty.
Here is a picture of Nellie, Bella, and baby Phoebe with me admiring them in the background.
We had one last meal tonight with Bret and the kids. Abby fried cod and haddock fillets and I made cabbage slaw according to a description DD Marcia gave me of a salad she had with crab in Bodega Bay. It includes raw shredded beets. I devised a dressing using fresh orange juice. It was a hit.
After dinner Bret helped me to change the splint and wrapping on my lamb’s broken leg. Today I kept her in and tried to get her to eat comfrey but no luck with that so far.
August 15, 2011 Monday:
DS Bret and the kids left this morning. They certainly made the most of the lake. All our picnics and the sleepover were at DD Marcia’s camp. It is actively being shown and of course we want her to find a buyer but it will be sad to lose that venue. They did most of their swimming from Martin and Amy’s camp where there is a diving float.
It rained persistently here today but I understand that some places in southern New England got 11 inches. Incredible.
A package of dates from Saudi Arabia arrived! DS John bought them for me when he was in Riyadh recently on business. What an unusual treat.
That lamb with the broken leg appears to be doing well. I had better give her a name I guess. Whenever I look in on her she gets right up and complains about having to stay in.
August 16, 2011 Tuesday:
It rained much of the day but cleared by evening. Humidity has been high all spring and summer and the Department of Agriculture is reporting late season potato blight in parts of Maine, so far not here. But something is causing a lot of my and Mitra’s tomatoes to look sick. This afternoon Abby brought in our first zucchini, a particularly nice one. Our garden got a very late start. I sautéed it for supper with one of my eggplants, so some things are thriving.
The injured lamb seems to be doing very well.
Abby likes to shake down apples for the cows. This evening she asked me, “Do apples do something to a cow’sbrain?” They do indeed go all frisky if they eat very many. I have read that contrary to popular belief, they do not get tipsy; some other metabolic pathway is affected.
August 18, 2011 Thursday:
Hot and humid today although not as bad as last week.
Bret and the kids got home safely. I have some things to mail for Roger. He left his beautiful virtually new black wool suit coat from the thrift shop that completes his Blues Brothers look when he plays his guitar and also an excellent pair of inline skates he got for $1. I would have mailed them Monday but I didn’t know they were here.
Some vile animal got into the garden and ate Abby’s crop of okra that she planted from seed. They were just blooming. I didn’t see tracks but it must have been deer as the top half of the plants are eaten off. A rabbit would have started at the bottom.
Cousins Holly and Richard came over to pick blackberries and left me a lovely basket of them. Abby and I had to leave on errands. It was a shame to miss them. I hope they got lots. Holly took this picture of the fat lambs during their berry picking.
DS Martin is on his way. I have a hot dish waiting for him. It is a delicious casserole that I make in the Romertof with a meaty boney lamb neck (called scragg end in England),brown rice and various veg covered with stock and simmered all day in the Aga. Abby and I already ate.
August 19, 2011 Friday:
The day was hot and muggy.
I was able to spend very little time writing but lots got done on the farm. DS Max came over and worked for hours in the hot sun setting up the electric fence around the North Field. I need to get the cows out there. Alas, the fence would not charge. I will have to buy a bunch of new tape, it appears.
The summer squash is starting. Next thing I know I will be wondering what to do with them all. My zucchini relish is always a hit.
I am not happy with the progress of my lamb’s broken ankle. It feels hot. I took the splint off and applied a slurry of comfrey this afternoon. She won’t eat the leaves in any form I have tried.
I told Ken, DIL Amy’s dad, about Abby’s devoured okra. He says it sounds like woodchuck work to him. I feel sure he is right because there were no deer tracks. Perhaps I can set the Havahart trap.
August 20, 2011 Saturday:
Lambkin’s ankle was much cooler this morning. She was very cooperative with having the comfrey mash applied. It is not wobbling but I am afraid the fracture is setting at the wrong angle. I don’t feel like forcibly resetting it. When I slathered her again in late afternoon the joint was barely hot at all and she did not act as though I was hurting her. She is now in her own little private room. Previously I had her in the room where they all spend the night but with her closed in there all day the room could not be aired. The new room is drier and airier. She is eating and drinking normally.
August 22, 2011 Monday:
Because of a storm I could not write last night. There was thunder and lightning all night. We lost power just as I was heading for the computer. We got 4 inches of rain in about 40 minutes before it turned to mostly wind. This morning I found my eggplants all tipped over. I staked them up and can only hope their roots weren’t too badly torn. The corn was also tipped over, the little we have.
Sunday morning Abby found yet another clutch of new chicks in the hayloft. She was able to catch the chicks in the landing net and lure the hen downstairs by holding the little peepers in front of her. Today they are all doing fine.
Sunday afternoon, while the weather was still excellent, we all went to DS Max and DIL Mitra’s for her birthday party. She made a vast Iranian stew with beef and eggplant that was excellent. Roshan has a new ukulele that she got last week for her birthday. She has learned some chords and accompanied Shireen who sang a cute song.
Today the good weather returned. Martin worked (during his lunch hour – he is staying at camp and working from home today) up on a ladder repairing the buckled clapboards on the carriage house. Max came over and worked again on setting up electric fence around the North Field. We had to use all new wire. But we were able to let the cows into new pasture and it was a pleasure to see them hurl themselves at the grass. We did not let in the sheep. The three ewes are electric fence savvy to the type of tape we used last year but the new wire is more like string. The lambs have never seen it. I will have to watch closely if/when I allow them in there. Another concern is that there are a number of dogs on that side of the farm.
Abby and I drove up to DD Marcia’s camp just to look around. The window boxes still look gorgeous. Martin resealed the skylight although it really did not appear to be leaking. On the way home, Abby, whose shyness vanishes at the sight of a loaded apple tree, stopped and asked a woman if we might pick her apples. She never picks them herself, just lets them fall and runs the lawn mower over them. She made a great point though that we could only have ones that had fallen. Because of the wind last night Abby had no trouble finding enough to fill my large handbag.
Limping Lambkin seems to be doing well, or so I thought this evening when I rubbed on the comfrey mush. However later on Abby heard a funny noise coming from her stall and observed her chewing wood. I was shocked to realize I had not put minerals in with her. Abby carried in the salt lick and I put out kelp and sheep mineral. She went around sampling all three but especially the loose mineral.
August 23, 2011 Tuesday:
Lambkin is definitely healing but her ankle is folded back so that if she ever puts weight on it again it will be on the tip of her hoof.
I left the gate open to the North Field and the sheep went in to graze for part of the day. The cows stayed there all day having a grand time.
Holly and Richard came over this morning bringing a blueberry buckle made by Richard, very good. We had tea and coffee and then they picked more blackberries and gave me a quart. There are not as many berries as there were. I cooked mine up with apples for apple blackberry jelly.
Abby reported waking up last night to the tearing, breaking sound of a big tree falling. One o fSally’s big maples fell over towards the river. The entire area is being undermined by the river. She forgot to tell me about it until evening so I have not seen it.
August 24, 2011 Wednesday:
Lots of sun today but not hot. There is an unsettled quality to the weather. Both yesterday and today the 6am temp was 43F.
I let Limping Lambkin out today with her friends. Once beside the others it was evident that she has been eating poorly, as we suspected. But I think she had a good day. When I let them in this evening she was not even last in line.
I made another roasted veg dish for supper. It was based on a ravishingly beautiful eggplant. It was round and about the size of a cantaloupe, pale lavender with dainty purple streaks. This is my first real success with eggplant. I can hardly believe I grew it, me and the eggplant angels.
August 25, 2011 Thursday:
Last week The New Yorker magazine published an article called Grub:Eating bugs to save the planet by Dana Goodyear in which the author attempted to make a case for entomophagy, the practice of eating insects. I was not persuaded and have written a letter to the editor. I do hope they will publish it. I mean, eating insects is all very well if that is one’s preference, and no doubt is far superior to soy products. However, to endorse it on the basis of its emitting fewer GHG’s than cattle, lower carbon footprint than cattle, able to get along on feed not edible by people, in other words the usual smug litany of anti cow statements, this I cannot ignore. I wrote pointing out that all of those virtues describe the dairy cow.
DD Abby and I went to New Sharon today for feed. I buy it at White Water Farm. He sells only non GMO feed from Canada. Then we stopped at the Luick’s for milk. Max will not be leaving for work in PA after all. They don’t need him next week. I hate for him not to have the work but it sure is nice having him around. Especially right now. My toilet is leaking badly around the bottom seal and he says he knows how to fix it.
We could not get Limpy Lambkin to come in with the others. She and her sister went into the lean-to and would not leave. I hope the coyotes are kept away by the rain.
August 26, 2011 Friday:
Limpy and her sister made it safely through the night and today remerged with the others at bedtime.
Well, dear Max was all set to come today and repair the toilet but the problem was solved more easily. It turned out that water was seeping from the bottom of one of the containers DD Abby had filled for flushing in case Hurricane Irene causes us to lose power. Fortunately we were able to catch Max before he left home and give him back his day. He also found out that he will be leaving for NY state on Monday morning, post hurricane.
Abby made 7 quarts of a tasty zucchini, tomato and eggplant medley which she froze. This is a welcome mixture in winter. I use it in many ways. One way is to mix it with commercial spaghetti sauce which it stretches and improves.
The weather today was beautiful. I picked string beans and 3 quarts of elderberries.
The cows have not left the North Field except to come to the barn for water. They even sleep out there under the trees.
August 27, 2011 Saturday:
Warnings of Hurricane Irene are everywhere. DD Abby and I drove to Weld to make sure all the windows at DD Marcia’s camp were closed. I closed what I could. The caretakes have been neglecting the beautiful window boxes and they were severely wilted. Abby watered them all. Some of the plants will survive I expect, but it is disappointing to say the least. Few people understand what is involved in keeping plants alive. No doubt if queried they would say, “They looked fine to me.”
While in Weld we stopped at the England’s perpetual garage sale and I bought a pretty good looking cotton/linen mix couch cover and one of those all wool fleece tufted mattress pads that is in good shape. Abby bought an Alfred Meakin plate in the same pattern Marcia had at camp, The Senate.
For supper I made Tammy’s yellow summer squash casserole which we agreed was excellent. Here is the recipe including my slight alterations.
4 cups of young tender yellow summer squash coarsely shredded 1 onion, chopped 4 tablespoons butter 1 ½ cups chicken broth Salt and pepper 2 eggs ¼ cup cream 1 cup of bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs) Several slices of Monterey jack cheese
Butter a suitable casserole dish Oven 325F
Sauté the squash and onion until soft but not browned. Add the stock and salt and pepper. Cover and steam to finish cooking for about 3minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add the cream and while stirring, add the squash mixture.
Stir in the crumbs and place in casserole (mixture should not be dry); add more cream or stock if needed. Top with sliced or shredded cheese. Bake about 25 minutes, more or less.
After dinner I got a call from DD Marcia. Her son-in-law, Caiti’s husband, Mark Mulvey, who is a chef in Northern Virginia, was preparing a raw fish yesterday and a bit of its backbone stabbed the first joint of the forefinger on his right hand. Within 2 hours it had swollen grossly and became very painful. Caiti and his mom (with whom they live) persuaded him to go to the ER. They took it seriously and gave him an antibiotic and pain meds and told him to come back today if it got worse. He did indeed return later the same day because he had forgotten his ID. I guess somebody saw his arm and they popped him into the hospital where he remains tonight in great pain. The lab results are not back on the organism so I can’t tell you what it is, but they have told Mark that if it is not looking better by tomorrow he will require surgery under full anesthesia. This is very alarming.
August 29, 2011 Monday:
Surgeons opened up Mark’s hand yesterday (Sunday) and he is doing well but they have him in isolation because they are not yet sure of the organism. He hates this and feels neglected, with some justification; they forgot to bring him his breakfast(left it out in the hall). I think he may be coming home today. He is in Northern Virginia.
The hurricane, well, bad storm, hit hard and we lost power for 5 hours, but our woes were minimal compared to others. This farm is well prepared for emergencies at all times, in fact my worst concern was how I would grind my coffee without power. Actually, this was not all. DD Abby and I walked along the river to inspect for downed trees. A dead one came down on DD Sally’s side and a huge one on my side. I took the opportunity to inspect a very large pine that fell into the river two years ago and Sally secured to land with half inch nylon rope; it is still holding. The point of this was to defend the bank against erosion and it is doing its job. I wish we could tie up this recent one. Max would do it I am sure but he has left for a job in Upstate NY and will be away for 10 weeks. The river is very high and fast. It exceeded its banks and went out onto my pasture last night but has gone down a foot. I believe we got 7 inches of rain here. I don’t know to what extent this affects flooding elsewhere, but now that they clear cut and take all the litter out of the woods, the mountains can’t hold onto the water like they used to so it races down in a destructive rush.
I walked all the way around North Field and lifted branches off of the electric fence and left the gate open for the cows and sheep.
Damage was worse at Weld. Neighbors reported that DD Marcia’s wharf has floated away and so did DS Martin’s. Also Martin’s Hobie Cat blew away, but friends brought it back. Both missing wharves have been located and are secured until Martin can come back and tow them home.
100,400 are without power in Maine.
Limping Lambkin puts some weight on her foot, about like a person with a pebble in their shoe.
August 30, 2011 Tuesday:
The weather today was fantastic. I drove up to Weld to have a look at Marcia’s property and found no damage, just lots of litter blown around. DS Martin came up today to collect and restore what he could. I think he got Marcia’s wharf back together but some of his is still missing. He plans to come back at the weekend and take a tour in the kayak.
Abby went to Farmington,met DIL Mitra, and brought back milk and cream from Nellie. Mitra also sent along 3 lbs of ripe peaches grown in New Sharon.
August 31, 2011 Wednesday:
The weather today was once again perfect. All the animals are looking well but I am not getting as many eggs as last month. I suppose they are naturally slowing down. Another factor is that so many keep going broody.
Many in Maine are still without power. I hate to think what is happening to those with full freezers.
While we watched the News Hour an exceptionally cheeky mouse kept darting along the edge of the room and even across the rug, always just ahead of Willie-dog who was frantic to catch it. Given any sort of odds he is a great mouser. He spent the next hour with his nose to the crack where it disappeared.
September 01, 2011 Thursday:
The weather remains fine.
Limpy Lamb is a bit better each day.
I made 8 jars of crabapple jelly from the bright red ones off my gorgeous young tree in the garden. The jelly is a lovely rose pink. I also googled ‘preserving the eggplant harvest’ and learned how to freeze them from a Rachel Ray site. I then discovered an enticing Yugoslavian sauce called ackvar that I intend to make when I can find some red sweet peppers. It calls for about equal amounts of eggplant and peppers. Abby made another big stockpot full of the vegetable medley that includes zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes etc. She has been freezing it.
September 02, 2011 Friday:
The weather continues fine.
Agnes, the oldest ewe, got into the garden. I don’t think she did any damage. The others didn’t get in. After chasing her out we did a big fence repair so she will have to find a new way to be naughty.
Jasmine is now making bag fast in preparation for her due date on the17th of this month. She has had no grain for 3 months and looks in excellent condition.
I made a big batch of hummus and gave half to DIL Amy. I made stuffed peppers with ground lamb for dinner. Abby gardened and mowed lawns all day and made very popular almond cookies.
DD Marcia picked grapes today in CA. Her landlady told her that “The day the piliated woodpecker shows up it’s time to pick”. He did and she did. DD Marcia and her SIL Ernie picked these grapes. Lucky them.
September 03, 2011 Saturday:
Sunny with high humidity.
DS Martin showed up early and I fed him a comprehensive breakfast of Canadian bacon, 3 eggs, toast (my fresh sourdough bread) and new crabapple jelly and coffee. He got the old Moline running. Best, he fixed the spring line. It has been getting slower and slower and yesterday ceased altogether. It had a small leak and must have developed an associated air lock.
DD Abby and I drove to DD Marcia’s camp. Abby watered the window boxes and I swept the porches. Martin has still not found all the parts of her dock that blew away last Sunday night in Irene but plans another search.
On the way home we picked up two more shopping bags of apples. We also drove up the road past DD Sally’s house, where Abby lives, to see if there were vehicle tracks going into the back end of the property. She sometimes hears vehicles stopping along the road, and did last night followed by a lot of barking. We saw nothing in the way of vehicle tracks but I did note where animals, probably dogs, have been entering the hedgerow along the road.
Jasmine’s udder is a lot bigger today.
September 04, 2011 Sunday:
Mitra’s parents, Marie and Alex, are returning to Oakland, CA on Wednesday. They went to a pick-your-own orchard today and brought us a lovely bag of MacIntosh apples to add to our collection of falls we picked up at Weld. Although there were many flawless ones on the grass, they picked all their apples from the tree, having been instructed by the farmer that it is now against the law for him to sell any falls. There might be bacteria on them. Talk about the nanny state! The falls can only be used for some apple shooting game. I guess we are still a pretty rich country to countenance this sickening waste.
Mitra did not come along today. She stayed home and took a nap. Coyotes yapping and dogs frantically barking kept her awake much of last night. So she missed our tea party including apple crisp.
About the time the Eskandari’s were leaving, a dramatic thunderstorm hit. I guess it threw us all off our game, as none of us remembered to see that they took along the box of jellies I gave them.
DS Martin stopped by to pick up milk (from Mitra’s) and eggs. The family had climbed Tumbledown today and Martin’s setter, Milo, got lost on the way down. They found a note sitting on a rock on the trail that had been left by people who found Milo. Martin was on his way down to Green (nr. Lewiston, about 1 ½ hrs away) to get him. Their power was out in Weld so they will have had a dark evening.
Abby grubbed out some more giant burdock from behind the carriage house. She also picked and froze beans. I spend all my spare time working on my talk.
September 05, 2011 Monday – Labor Day:
Looking over the railing of the deck to the sheep paddock where I often throw organic waste I see a vast mat of squash vines and a bunch of potato vines, all exceptionally healthy looking. The squash vines bear two kinds of large squash. The potato vines, at least from 10 ft above, appear free of beetles. Free food! We stopped some time ago throwing corn husks over that side so as not to encourage trampling. So far the ruminants have ignored these plants.
Fresh corn bakes up rich and tasty in this hearty summer corn pudding.
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 large ears)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 large eggs (could use 4)
1 cup cream 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 T butter
2 tablespoons unseasoned fine dry breadcrumbs
Oven 325°F. Coat a 1 1/2- or 2-quart soufflé or casserole dish with butter. Combine corn and flour in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Throw in remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Pour mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes. While the pudding is baking, brown the crumbs in butter. About halfway through baking time spread the crumbs on the pudding. I have only made this once. I gave it 25 minutes in the hotter Aga oven, then moved it to the simmer oven for 15 minutes. I modified it from a low fat recipe that called for all sorts of lowfat ingredients.
September 06, 2011 Tuesday:
I got up extra early so as to have time to work on my writing before Abby and I set out on errands. When Mitra’s parents, the Eskandari’s, left here on Sunday a violent storm was starting and I managed to let them go without their box of jellies. We took these over to Mitra’s, got more milk and cream and visited all her beautifully cared for animals. She has started another thriving batch of meatbirds. Nellie’s calf Phoebe is beautiful. She has astonishingly long legs and is friendly. The three piglets are growing rapidly and live in pig heaven with woodland and a water feature. We threw them handfuls of acorns which they crunched in a satisfying way.
DD Marcia writes from her new home in CA:
“Ernie and I made really super cider the other day from Gravensteins that were being given away down in Cazadero. The wife of the garage owner had picked up a number of boxes from under their apple tree and put a sign out saying FREE. I turned around and got a box. I felt unable to bring myself to ask for more. This half box made a gallon of juice.
We have now covered the grapes and hopefully they will finish ripening before the birds can get to them. The pileated woodpecker was really really tweeked at us. He/she was flying around screaming bloody murder. We had gone off on an errand and when we came back the bird flew right over our head and into an oak tree and gave us a long lecture on the subject. That went on for about an hour all around the yard.”
September 07, 2011 Wednesday:
It rained all day except when it occasionally it backed off to a drizzle.
I tried to work on my talk but couldn’t get my thoughts to liven up.
I made an interesting vegetable dish for dinner based on one that I scribbled down years ago from a Julia Child program. It is Indian and called for eggplant and spinach but I only have chard so used that, and changed a few other things. I sautéed the eggplant, a beautifully fresh lavender one, in butter (no ghee on hand) with garam masala. I sautéed the chopped chard separately with more butter, a teaspoon of black mustard seed, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne and another generous tablespoon of garam masala and some salt. It still needed help so I added 2 tablespoons of date sugar and a cup of jellied chicken stock. I combined the two vegetables and cooked off the excess liquid. Somewhat to my surprise it tasted great, also smelled very good while cooking. Abby remarked on this. She made piroshkies using some of my home made pork sausage (Amy LeBlanc’s seasoning). These also were delicious. I ate three, but they were small.
Yesterday and today Abby has been doing everything we can think of to get rid of fleas. The dogs have suddenly become infested. There has been lots of dog shampooing, vacuuming and rug shaking and application of Frontline. I rarely use it and it was a year old but at least tonight I notice no scratching.
September 08, 2011 Thursday:
It was still raining softly this morning but halfway cleared as the day progressed and we briefly saw the sun.
Every time Jasmine comes to the barn I find her lying down chewing her cud. I don’t like to make her stand up so it has been several days since I have gotten to pat her udder. But I know it is enlarging rapidly.
A neighbor woman came by and asked if she might have some young chickens. I have too many – so many sneaky hens brought off a brood – so I agreed to catch some after dark for her. It won’t be tonight though. I watched the president’s speech instead. It was good, although I could not help noticing that the word farm did not pass his lips.
DD Sally tells me that her DD Rosemary has taken a job cooking at a research station in Antarctica. She leaves Cordova, AK on October 7. I have no further details at present.
September 09, 2011 Friday:
Abby and I took a run to Weld this afternoon to water Marcia’s window boxes and air out the camp. Somebody was coming today to see it. Randy was there raking. Everything looked good and the sun was shining.
This afternoon we picked zucchinis and Abby shredded them for relish. They are now salted and sitting until tomorrow.
DIL Amy sent pictures of Hannah ready for her first day of kindergarten. According to Amy, she was so excited she was practically levitating.
After dark this evening we scooped up a hen with ten 3 week old chicks for our neighbor. She came right over and picked them up. We do hope they thrive. She says she has a pen ready.
Jasmine continues in good health.
September 10, 2011 Saturday:
Jasmine continues to bag up nicely but so far she isn’t suffering. I walked out into the field to visit her and Fern and Helen.
It is cooling off. We could get a frost any day. I don’t want it to sneak up on me as I have a great many tender plants out in pots. DD Marcia left so many. Her Meyer lemon has a cluster of four on it and the Mandevilla is a mass of blooms despite the wind last week which knocked it off its shelf and broke off a large section.
This morning in frustration over not being able to find a reference book or the markers I need for another project, I grabbed my favorite pruning tool and attacked the bittersweet. It is taking over the fence out front and suffocating two roses and a peony. I whacked out three big armfuls of the darned stuff and flung it onto the river bank. (I do not discard viable trimmings of bittersweet as it is a noxious invasive exotic. I take them to the dump for burning.)
After that I took a nap. When sufficiently revived I made brinjal pickle. I found a recipe on the Internet by a cook in Kerala. I am on the prowl for eggplant recipes as there are still more coming on even though the hot weather is ending. The recipe was pretty non-specific as to quantities. It turned out pretty spicy.
Abby went shopping in Farmington. She missed Mitra who had gone to a matinee showing of The Help, but she saw the girls and got milk.
DS Martin took his pointer, Miles, to a dog pointing event (field trials) and Miles did well.
Brinjal (Eggplant or Aubergine) Pickle
8 brinjals – I used the long Japanese type and only 6
6 tomatoes, volume about ¾ of brinjals
Recipe did not call for garlic but I use 3 tablespoons minced
Red chilies – I used 6 small dried ones ground in the blender
Oil – Used ¼ lb of butter in lieu of ghee plus some grape seedoil (recipe did not specify fat)
Black mustard seed – Used 1 ½ tablespoons
Turmeric – I went for 1 ½ tablespoons
Tamarind – I used an 8 oz tin of rather soupy tamarind. Wish I had used only a little or skipped it. It is pretty sour and I had to add about 1 ½ cups of date sugar to balance it out. Apple would have been just as good as tamarind in my opinion. It would probably still need some sugar.
Finely mince the brinjals, the tomatoes and the garlic.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil. Add the brinjals and sauté and stir until they begin to soften. Push the brinjals aside and sauté the garlic in its own little puddle of fat. Stir it in and do the same for the mustard seed, chilies and turmeric.
Add the tomatoes, stir and add salt to taste.
Simmer it for a while before adding the tamarind (or apple) and sugar if needed.
This pickle was delicious served immediately and even better the nextday.
I picked this recipe from among a great many others because most had far more ingredients many of which were unfamiliar to me.
September 11, 2011 Sunday:
It is the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the NYC Twin Towers, the Pentagon and crash of the high jacked flight headed for the Capitol buildings in which passengers overcame the high jackers.
It was down to 42F this morning. The weather was clear and sunny. I worked on my talk for a while, then went out and attacked the grape vine that is overwhelming my south facing granite retaining wall. I liberated my tree peony, two other peonies and my Windsor phlox.
Abby canned six pints of zucchini relish and I put up 7 half-pint jars of brinjal pickle.
September 14, 2011 Wednesday:
Tuesday morning was foggy and Jasmine was not in the barn. I walked around the field twice looking for her, fearful that she was off calving. When I finally found her she was grazing peacefully with no signs of imminent calving.
We had a going away lunch as planned for cousins Holly and Richard with Mitra also present. It was a delightful occasion. I made Salade Nicoise and Richard made a blueberry pie. The weather turned very fine.
I laid down for a nap but before too much time elapsed, Abby came running in to say that feet were showing. All three cows and nine sheep were in the beefer pen and Jasmine was laboring hard. We sent all the spectators outside and Jasmine lay down. After a few more unproductive pushes with no progress I waited for her to strain again and grabbed the feet and pulled downward. This seemed to help. Jasmine bellowed loudly in pain with the next two pushes and with her still lying down, out came a large bull calf sired by Bell Ringer just like Nellie’s calf, Phoebe (Mitra’s). He was floppy and inert at first so I picked him up by the hind legs and that was all it took. He was slow to take an interest in sucking and Jasmine showed initial signs of milk fever almost immediately. The calf was born at 5:30 and by 7:30 she was down flat. My vet, Dr. Cooper, is still away. We had already given Jasmine a tube of CalGel but I could see that it was up to me to administer the IV drip. I have been totally spoiled by my vet who has been so faithful about coming. I have not been required to be anything but an observer for a very long time. Jasmine was down in a corner where I could not get at her jugular. How I wished AnnB were here. Head-in-the-corner in the dark was too much for me. After about 6 futile jabs I put the drip into the exposed milk vein –did I mention she was on her side with her belly higher than her head? I used two different sites for less stress on the vein. Her breathing was sterturous and I was distinctly worried about her heart. The calcium worked its magic in the usual way and within half an hour she was back up on her brisket, later on her feet licking her calf again.
Earlier, while Jasmine was down, Abby helped the calf to nurse for a while so he got some colostrum.
Abby spent most of the night in the barn to monitor Jasmine. I went to bed at 12:30.Abby awoke me at 5:30 to say Jasmine was down again. This time she was not out flat but had cold ears and was unable to rise. I gave her the injection SubQ in her neck just ahead of her shoulder, again dividing it halfway through. She revived within the hour. Mitra came over about noon with more calcium paste which we got down her. She was pretty good today and ate some apples and her third bucket of molasses water and she also drank for a long time from her tank but refused her hay. We milked out a gallon of colostrum and gave some to the calf in a bottle. Something about all this drama has caused the calf to quit trying to nurse. So far I am calling him Milton.
About 4pm I let Jasmine and the calf out onto the front lawn where she grazed a bit and ate feverfew. But then she began to tremble so we got her inside and gave her paste with magnesium which was lacking in the earlier doses. How awful it is to give this nasty paste. She looked so sad and pitiful with that horrible stuff in her mouth. She refused all treats. I will go out in the night to look at her.
September15, 2011 Thursday:
I got up at 2 am and found Jasmine looking quiet and comfortable. Abby checked her again at 4:30 am and she looked dull. She continues unwilling to eat hay but eats some cut up apple and grass if we stuff it into her mouth. Abby gave the calf some colostrum left from his bottle last night but he is at last showing signs off interest in nursing from his mom. Unfortunately she is now developing mastitis.
I talked to Mitra at 8am and she is going to call Dr Patterson for advice.
Dr. Patterson wants to see Jasmine. He and Mitra are driving over together so she can navigate. Carthage is beyond his usual range.
Dr. Patterson gave Jasmine another bottle of Ca to be on the safe side, half the bottle in her jugular,the other half SubQ. He noted mastitis in three, possibly four quarters and gave her a shot of penicillin and left doses for five additional days
She still shows no appetite and did not walk outside to graze on the lawn. Mitra reminded me that Selden (on the forum) reported that her Katika was willing to eat chicken feed when nothing else interested her. I tried it and Jasmine did indeed eat about a quart of it over the course of the day in small licks.
Abby worked long and hard to get Milton to nurse and finally got him stoked enough to suck independently. He still did not get much because of the mastitis.
By 6pm I think Jasmine was feeling a little better as she ate some apples on her own. She also drank about a half a bucket of water. Between us Abby and I have provided Jasmine with a salad of comfrey, raspberry, Balm of Gilead and willow leaves and grass, all stuffed into her mouth. Milton is pooping and peeing normally so far as I can tell.
I made chicken soup. Abby is going to make a last effort to help Milton to nurse before she goes home.
It rained much of the day.
Well, Abby did a late check and came back to the house saying, “Don’t get too comfortable. Her ears are cold and she won’t get up”
I just gave her another bottle. I got the needle into her jugular while she was lying down with her head stretched out. Part way through the dose she regained some strength and threw up her head enough to slightly dislodge the needle, even though she was tied. I gave her the rest of the dose subQ. She did not get up before we left the barn.
I am defrosting colostrum for morning.
I will go out during the night.
September 16, 2011 Friday:
At 2AM Jasmine was on her feet just standing still. She did not seem to be quite so dull as when I went to bed and I went back to bed feeling my prayers were answered, that she had turned the corner.
At 6AM I was not so encouraged but when Abby arrived and soon had Jasmine taking bites of apple. Jasmine also ate some more chicken feed, maybe 3 cups in the course of the day. It is a good source of calcium. Milton nurses with fair enthusiasm but Jasmine has very little milk. I gave her the 2nd shot of penicillin but the plastic end on the syringe broke off causing me to waste some medication. Fortunately I had a back-up syringe among my supplies. Whew! By late morning we were sufficiently confident of Jasmine’s health to feel able to run in to Rumford for a few supplies. When we got back all was fine, at least Jasmine was not down. Later this evening she did more or less collapse for a while but then actually ate some hay for the first time and drank water although not much. She ate some comfrey too.
At one point during the afternoon we let Helen and Fern, Jasmine’ daughter, in to see Jasmine and meet the new baby. Fern took more interest than Helen did. They sampled Jasmine’s buffet of goodies.
I took four paper cups and did a strip test of each quarter and tasted the milk. Two quarters tasted salty and two tasted bitter which is characteristic of bloody milk; bloody milk is common post partum. Salty is indicative of mastitis. I strained each sample and only one was clumpy.I am rubbing Jasmine’s udder with Uddermint.
Another thing that is keeping us busy is a frost warning. I picked eggplants, squash and flowers. Abby picked tomatoes and we put sheets on a few things. I moved most of the potted plants undercover. We are both just about too tired to speak but Abby did make a nice casserole with a lamb shank for dinner.
At 9PM Jasmine is on her feet. Abby is in the barn assisting Milton with a feed. He does not appear to be starving but he can’t be getting very much.
9:30 PM: Abby was still in the barn so I went to investigate. She had taken a bottle with a pint of colostrum, some of what we milked out on Wednesday while Jasmine still had milk, to Milton because he seemed unsatisfied. Abby mentioned that Jasmine came over and licked the bottle while Milton was sucking and she wondered if perhaps she wanted it. When DS John called today he happened to offer the suggestion that we give some colostrum to Jasmine so we gave it a try. Abby poured what was left of Milton’sbottle into a bucket and Jasmine went for it with the first show of real enthusiasm we had seen. Abby ran back to the house for another pint and Jasmine continued to lick out the bucket until her return. I am defrosting some more to give her in the morning.
September 17, 2011 Saturday:
We got a light frost last night, the first of the year.
My first visit to the barn this morning proved discouraging. Jasmine was lying down with cold ears while Milton nuzzled around trying to make her stand up so he could feed. I went back to the kitchen and warmed up a quart of colostrums and a bottle of calcium drip in case Jasmine continued sinking.
Forty-five minutes later when I took the bottle to the barn, there was Jasmine on her feet with Milton going from teat to teat doing his best. While Jasmine chewed her cud! This is, so far as I know, the first time she has chewed her cud since calving. I sat there watching until Milton wandered off, obviously still hungry at which time I offered the bottle. He was not having any. I will perhaps try again after DD Abby is here to help but chances are he is getting enough from Jas to keep him frisky. I watched while Jasmine ate some carrots and comfrey leaves left from last night.
10 AM Jasmine did not appear to build on her earlier improvement. She fed Milton but ate little herself. We found and defrosted all the colostrum I have and for this she does indeed show enthusiasm. Everything else she eats or drinks fitfully if at all. I gave her another 20cc. of penicillin, this time without incident. I also gave her a Banamine tablet. Her feet appear to hurt. We think that is why she is not walking outside to the lovely green lawn. If she were a horse we would say laminitis. She has a strong pulse in her ankle.
1 PM Abby has gone to New Sharon to Mitra’s house for her frozen colostrums and her canister of probiotics.
I milked a couple of cupfuls from Jasmine. Her two left quarters are in pretty good shape and milked easily with no clumps and tasted OK. She is starting to make milk in those two. Her two right quarters continue hard and I didn’t get much out of them. I had a total of maybe two cups in the bucket which I offered to her and she drank immediately and licked the bucket. At last check Jasmine was eating her loose mineral. I piled a cup of kelp next to it and she switched to eating that. Yesterday she would touch neither. I remembered I had some ground alfalfa stored away and left her eating a little bowl of it.
10PM – At 5PM Jasmine slurped down Nellie’s colostrums and licked out the bucket. Now at 10PM it really looks as though she has turned the corner. She ate a basin of chopped apple without coaxing and then began eating the wilted comfrey that this afternoon I had to poke into her mouth one leaf at a time. Abby ran down with the flashlight and cut her a fresh armful. Before I turned out the light I saw her munching it full speed ahead. What a fine sight!
Abby also gave a bottle of milk to Milton as he is constantly hungry. Now he should be able to sleep without his stomach growling.
September 18, 2011 Sunday:
At 6:30 this morning Jasmine was brighter than she was yesterday morning and her ears were warm. She had not eaten or drunk anything during the night but had fed Milton although judging from the way he acts he is not getting as much as he wants. I am not worried about him. He is strong and highly energetic and runs about like crazy and I am able to milk out some milk whenever I try. The milk from three of her quarters tastes ok.
DS Martin stopped in at 10AM on his way to a meeting in Waterville of the Betterment Fund and stayed a couple of hours. He fixed several things for me including the French doors to the deck. They were literally disintegrating. He did some gluing and bracing. Now I can open them without fearing that the panes will drop out.
Martin also helped me to give Jasmine her penicillin shot but he had the same bad luck I had on Thursday. The connection between the needle and syringe broke. I don’t think those things are made to last any time at all. Unfortunately this time I did not have another 20cc syringe to fall back on and for a while things looked desperate but all worked out in the end. I went through some old veterinary supplies and found a 10cc syringe made of more lasting materials and a box of needles, which I boiled. Jasmine got the worst of it, as she is supposed to get 20cc so I had to give her two shots.
Jasmine still ignores her hay and drinks very little but is eating comfrey. It is watery and Abby souses it to make it even wetter.
I have the big doors of the beefer pen wide open to let in sunshine and perhaps tempt Jasmine to go out and graze on the lawn but she won’t budge. Not, that is, until dusk when Bagel Dog entered the room. That made her hopping mad and she chased him right out. Then of course Milton raced around in circles making her all the more agitated. Actually it was gratifying to see her show some spunk. I noticed when she walked back inside that she is limping with her right front foot. I will pick it up tomorrow and see if I can see anything.
My kitchen floor is beginning to resemble the barn with wisps of hay everywhere. Pots and pans are accumulating and there is laundry piled on the couch. Sigh.
I forgot to mention yesterday that Abby stopped on her way home from Farmington and picked up two more big bags of apples from the place in Weld where they lie all over the lawn. This time she got there before the lady mowed over them.
September 19, 2011 Monday:
Jasmine is improving by modest increments. Her limp is gone. She is eating somewhat better and dropped perfectly normal looking manure. I gave her the last dose of penicillin, only 10ccinstead of 20cc due to having lost some. Early this morning I milked out a little from each quarter and tasted it. All tasted essentially normal but when I put it through the strainer the sample from the right front, the most infected quarter, had some lumps in it. Abby brought her more comfrey which she ate along with a bit of hay.
Jasmine has been reluctant to go out onto the lawn to graze. It seemed as though she had lost her courage. We let Helen and Fern in to visit and of course they charged right out as did Milton. This was too much for Jasmine and she was soon out grazing too… at last. They all had about 3 hours on the lawn before we had to put them back into their respective places because I had a hay delivery. George Weeks brought me 50 bales of high quality 2nd cut. We used the first bale off the truck to lure the cows back inside. It was a great pleasure today to see Jasmine not only grazing but chewing her cud. Tomorrow I will see what I must do to keep her mastitis on the run.
I got the hay elevator going and we had help from my neighbor Germaine Carrier. George carried the bales off of the trailer, Germaine set them on the elevator, I stood at the top and kicked them over to Abby and she stacked them. They smell lovely.
September 20, 2011 Tuesday:
Warm light rain today with a few periods of weak sun.
Abby got all three cows out onto the lawn again. There are some very lush patches thanks to the fact that nobody has had time to mow for 2 weeks or more. Jasmine does not want to be alone and especially won’t stir without Milton in sight. Abby had to push him along with the mamas. He wants to run in great loopy circles.
I milked a bit out of each of Jasmine’s quarters. The left ones are in good shape, the front right still has mastitis and is congested. The right rear quarter feels pretty good but the flavor is flat. Abby cut lots more comfrey for her today.
I have not looked at my lecture notes for a week. Today I read them over and they seemed like strangers. I worked on my poster instead.
Abby let the cows onto the lawn around dusk for another outing but probably won’t try this again. It took her half an hour go herd them back in even with apples in hand and a grip on Milton’s collar.
September 22, 2011 Thursday:
Yesterday and today were similar cow-wise. Jasmine still has mastitis in her two right quarters.
I got her in both days to try the machine on her and got almost nothing. She is producing plenty for the calf. He is stronger and bouncier every day. At least the mastitis is not getting worse, maybe is slightly better. I can’t give it my full attention until Saturday, after I have given my talk at the fair. I am applying Uddermint. Jasmine has her appetite back and grazes now with enthusiasm.
September 23, 2011 Friday:
The drive to the fairground at Unity was less demanding than on previous occasions. Abby and Mitra had worked out a much better route. We got there with 45 minutes to spare. The weather was hot and muggy but at least it was not raining. I had about as many in the tent audience as last year – I did not count but would estimate 30. A few left while I was talking. I suppose they were not sure what to expect from the title of the talk as given in the schedule: Your Family Cow: Elite Food Security. It was not the title I submitted. I took the occasion to explain why the cow is neither an inefficient converter of feed to meat nor a contributor to greenhouse gas, nor for that matter “elite”. I also explained that rumen bacteria are the source of complete protein, and the universality of this principle. Actually, quite a few people listened attentively.
Martin missed the beginning with the video camera but caught some of my remarks I think. It was lovely to see him and all the family, Amy, Hannah, Henry, Amy’s dad Ken and friend Glenda. I also got to see Kamala and Jeff and 13 year old Josie who has the most amazing strawberry blonde hair.
Germaine Carrier farm-sat for me which took a load off my mind. We stopped on the way home and got cream and milk from Mitra.
September 24, 2011 Saturday:
Everybody is complaining about the weather today. It is amazingly hot – over 70F – with maximum humidity. It’s enough to make one long for a killing frost. It has been much like this for a week. There had been a huge new hatch of mosquitoes.
Jasmine has to be encouraged to go out to graze but then grazes devotedly. Milton is thriving. I got her in to try the machine again today. I got only about enough milk to make me have to wash the machine but I was pleased to discover that the flavor of the milk in her troubled quarter is quite acceptable. Hurrah! I am not quite happy with the way the machine behaves on her though. It is a DeLaval style unit assembled one part at a time. I am going to try the Surge tomorrow.
Abby and neighbor Nancy Hutchinson saw a bull moose trot down the road and leap into my pasture this evening. I missed the show. It disappeared into the woods no doubt taking a length of electric fence with him. I closed off the field and tomorrow will go check for damage.
Here are a couple of pictures Holly sent me from our lunch together on September 13th. The first is of the group enjoying our Salad Nicoise (Mitra took the picture). The second is of my poster for my talk at The Common Ground Fair. Not long after everyone left, Jasmine calved.
September 25, 2011 Sunday:
DS Martin showed up late last evening, having been to an alumni event at Gould Academy. He spent the night at camp but was here much of the day helping out. He walked the electric fence and found no problems, moose or otherwise. He brought a couple of tractor-bucket loads of firewood into the garage and spread gravel on the driveway. He attempted to get the manure spreader to behave but failed in that task.
He worked his pointer, Milo, on fields across the river and somehow my Willie dog got over there to join them. I don’t believe he improved the hunting but it was just practice. The season hasn’t started for birds. We had a nice pot roast for dinner and Abby made an apple crisp.
Martin brought the video from my talk last Friday at the MOFGA fair and played it on my TV. I knew the background noise was bad but on the video I am nearly inaudible what with competition from the passing fair goers and horse drawn wagons. Those who left during my talk probably just couldn’t hear. I was speaking in a tent without sides.
September 27, 2011 Tuesday:
When I first went in with the cows this morning they were all lined up comfortably chewing their cuds including baby Milton, 2 weeks old today. That is so cute. Jasmine seems completely recovered. I brought her in to be milked on general principles but she is not producing a lot and I could see that Milton had been around to all four teats. I got about one cup.
DD Abby and I met DIL Mitra today for lunch in Farmington. We tried the new Thai place Mitra has been recommending. We all agreed it was very good. I had sashimi, tempura and chicken broth soup, called Thom Yum. It is similar to Pho. Mitra says that nine week old Phoebe is making dangerous cuts on Nellie’s teats. I urged her to put Phoebe on a bucket before things get worse.
On the way home we stopped by an abandoned orchard and filled two grocery bags with apples. Back here at home all was well. We brought home lots of lovely milk and cream from Mitra.
September 28, 2011 Wednesday:
The weather today was perfect, not too warm, clear with a light breeze and fluffy clouds.
Abby and the dogs walked down to the river. The tree that fell in as part of our comparatively small damage from hurricane Irene has not floated away,
When hanging laundry Abby heard piteous bleating coming from beneath the run-in beneath the deck. The sheep had been hanging about fussing and finally left and the bleating continued. She went down to investigate and found a lamb entangled in the extension cord to the electric fence for the sheep paddock, not now in use. It had been rolled up hanging on a nail but of course should have been removed completely. She was able to rescue the lamb, thank goodness. It was one of the fatter ones, not Limpkin.
September 29, 2011 Thursday:
It rained today. Temperature around 60F.
The sheep ignored the rain.
I picked the last of the tomatoes. It has been a poor crop due to blight and mildew which largely defoliated the plants. We got plenty for fresh eating but none to can. The lemon cucumber vines are curling up so that at last we can spot them. There are a lot more there than I thought.
Abby went shopping at several places around town including the FreeStore. Someone had donated an excellent down comforter which will do her a lot of good.
DD Marcia sent a box with nine heavenly California quinces. They have an irresistible perfume. Quinces are poor keepers so I put them into the frig and baked two for supper.
I baked them cut side down in butter and brown sugar with a little cardamom and a whiff of Vietnamese cinnamon and of course served them with cream. They were absolutely marvelous. I find it easier to remove the cores after baking. When raw they are like blocks of wood but in about 40 minutes reach a soft creamy texture. They don’t need peeling. After baking the skin is very soft.
September 30, 2011 Friday:
It rained hard last night. Most of the flowers got hammered.
Abby and I drove to camp and aired it out for a real estate showing scheduled for late this afternoon.
I hope the weather stays mild for a few more days. DD Sally is to arrive Tuesday and I want a few flowers to be still in bloom. I also hope to have a few ripe tomatoes. In Alaska she never gets any.
The piano tuner came today. He found a mouse nest in the piano. War is declared.
Martin and Amy invited us out to their place for supper. They brought Thai food up from Biddeford, such a treat. We ended the evening with a little dancing. It had been my plan to separate Jasmine and Milton tonight in hopes of getting some milk in the morning but when we got home it was too dark to find them. I will try to get out to the barn slightly pre dawn and make an attempt to catch Milton before he has his breakfast. Even with Mitra’s generous provisions, we’ve been having to buy cream.
October 02, 2011 Sunday:
Yesterday, Saturday, I made a big pot of chowder which DD Abby and I took up to Weld to DS Martin and DIL Amy’s camp. We were joined for supper by DS Mark and DIL Annie. I also took an applesauce cake. We had lots of fun.
Last night I separated Milton from Jasmine and this morning got one gallon of milk. Not big production but it is a joy to see milk appearing at last.
It rained all of yesterday and today. Mark and Martin installed motion lights over at Abby’s house. She has become nervous about going home after dark because of odd happenings around there including a prowler. Now she will not have to walk from her car to the porch in the dark.
The cows did not want to come up to the barn this evening. When I called them they headed for the woods and the sheep with them. Cows from time to time when weather and grass conditions appear to support sustainable independent living (this is my theory anyway) decide to set up housekeeping in the woods and resist being herded out. I had to run to head off their plan.
October 03, 2011 Monday:
Rain was predicted again for today but in fact it was mostly sunny.
I have been troubled about Jasmine limping.
Last night when I was bringing in the cows, I noticed a swelling under her belly. I noticed it earlier but is seemed to be just the usual enlarged milk vein. This is now much larger and there is another one on her brisket. Both correspond to sites where I did an IV so now I am worried. They don’t seem to be bothering her enough to interfere with grazing or her appetite. This morning I got a bit more milk than yesterday. We are straight out here with prep for DD Sally coming tomorrow and the mofga paper deadline for my article. I really hope she can wait until Wednesday for me to have the vet.
Milton is getting huge. I don’t think I have ever had a bigger three week old Jersey calf.
Abby cleaned like crazy all day. There’s nothing like guests arriving to put one in overdrive. Friends of Sally’s are also coming.
October 04, 2011 Tuesday:
Abby arrived early before I milked. I could not get a bit of milk out of one of Jasmine’s quarters but still got a gallon. I think she was holding up for Milton. The swellings I described were about the same. We buzzed around and were able to leave by about 9:30 for Portland to pick up DD Sally. On the way we stopped at The Bread Shack where they make world class breads and numerous pastries and picked up some tasty items to feed Sally. We had navigational instructions from Mark and made it without too many false turns. Maine signage is absurd and lots of the interchanges remind you of snarled tackle and it rained ceaselessly all day. Fortunately Maine does not have any scary areas to get lost in. We made a couple of illegal U turns.
For supper we had soup that I made yesterday, salad and bread.
It is getting easier to separate Milton at bedtime. The first night when I tried to lead him he kept throwing himself down and playing Dead Calf. Last night he was stubborn but did not lie down. Tonight he almost walked along, mostly just stopped like a dog sniffing at everything. Once he gets to his lovely roomette bedded with hay and furnished with such amenities as water, hay and grain and an overhead light, he seems quite content. There has been virtually no bellowing either from him or Jasmine.
Jasmine’s lumps are about the same. The quarter that she would not let down had obviously been nursed dry.
Medpage reprinted an article from last week on vitamin B12 deficiency along with commentary. It turns out that low B12 is implicated in a great many degenerative conditions and many types of dementia including Alzheimer’s and various autoimmune diseases including MS. I think we are just seeing the beginning of this and that trials, studies and observations will begin to pile in as has occurred with vitamin D.
The best natural source is liver but it is also available in pill form OTC. It is destroyed by microwaving. Here is the link: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Neurology/GeneralNeurology/28740?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=join-the-conversation-B12&utm_source=WCfirstname.lastname@example.org&userid=324035&eun=g324035d0r
October 05, 2011 Wednesday:
Curious weather today. There were rapidly succeeding periods of rain, sun and violent wind from the north. We are to expect a hard freeze tonight. Sally, who has not lost a beat, and Abby harvested the squash and covered many plants. It may have been worth covering the flowers because we are told to expect hot weather again in a day or two. I harvested my eggplants.
Sally and Abby went up to Marcia’s camp with the truck and brought down a few pieces of firewood. They also dug up some of Marcia’s Echinacea for me that she told me I might have.
My nephew Jon Lars Bergman, my sister Barby’s son, wrote this morning to tell me that Barby is in Stanford Hospital with a broken ankle. I know few details except that she slipped while in her garden which is on a rocky slope. She went into surgery this morning for repair. In his last email Jon said she was in Recovery but he had not been able to talk with his mom yet or anybody else about the surgery or her condition.
Jasmine gave a gallon again this morning.
Milton is progressing smoothly in training to lead.
October 06, 2011 Thursday:
It did indeed freeze last night. Despite being covered some of the more tender plants were damaged. It will freeze again tonight.
I called for Dr. Cooper to stop by. I wanted him to look at the swellings on Jasmine at the sites where I injected calcium gluconate. He said not to worry, they would resolve in a month or so. They don’t seem to bother her much. I also wanted him to do a pregnancy check on Fern, I have begun to freak out because she exhibits so little evidence of being in calf despite being due the middle of November. He reached in his arm but said he could not reach far enough to confirm one way or the other but thought she probably is. I will just keep on trying to detect kicking I guess. At this point nothing else makes sense.
I gave Ev a nice lunch of salad and cold salmon from last night.
I got to talk to Barby today. She was not enjoying life in the hospital with pins and staples in her ankle. She is going to remain in the hospital, or a care facility, for a couple of more days. The doc told her she cannot place weight on her foot for 6 weeks. Her dog is being well taken care of, she believes.
Sally and Abby toured Sally’s field. She brought home apples from her wild trees. They plan to make a pie for Sally’s friends whom we expect tomorrow.
October 07, 2011 Friday:
We had another frost last night and it took a lot more plants but we saved some by covering them. We would not bother but warm weather is returning so at least we will still have the marigolds and some of the dahlias, all of which are in radiant full bloom.
Jasmine gave a bit over a gallon again today. She continues in good health.
I go down every day and check to see if my one quince still hangs on. It is, and the scent is delicious.
Abby and Sally and the dogs took several walks around the pasture. The weather was perfect.
We spent much of today preparing food for tonight’s meal. I marinated a lamb roast and made an eggplant and zucchini medley. Sally made pumpkin yeast rolls and Abby made an apple pie. The friends, Judy and Terry from Haines, AK, arrived and enjoyed their dinner.
Abby had been doing the evening cow wrangling. She reports that little Milton, now about 3 weeks old, is getting cooperative about being led in to his overnight accommodation. He gets a little grain and of course hay and water.
I did not hear today anything about Barby’s condition.
October 08, 2011 Saturday:
The weather today was totally perfect.
Jasmine gave 5 quarts.
DD Sally’s friends from Alaska, Judy and Terry had to leave this morning. Judy took this picture of me as they were leaving. But first thing this morning Sally and Judy went for a walk in hopes of spotting mushrooms. They only found one. Terry took my chainsaw out and lopped some more stove lengths off of the woodpile. Judy also repaired the Word dictionary that had lost its Add to Dictionary setting. There is nothing straightforward about these things.
This morning I carried 22 squashes up from the bank below the deck. I throw vegetable scraps over the railing into the sheep paddock below and some of last year’s squash and potato discards had wintered over and volunteered a prodigious crop of winter squash different from ones previously known. I baked one for dinner and it was well received.
Sally, Abby and I drove to Weld to shop at an eclectic second hand/antique store that Abby wanted Sally to visit. I bought one thing, a handsome brand new hardwood toilet seat to replace the one that DS John installed about five years ago. Back here at the farm, Abby figured out how to install it.
There was strong sun on Sally’s and my bedroom windows this afternoon. Ladybugs and wasps know winter is coming and they chose today to assault the screens. Hundreds of ladybugs wiggled in and a few wasps. Fortunately we noticed before dark. We immediately hurtled around with the vacuum cleaner. It would have been impossible to sleep in there with that many bugs.
My sister Barby has now moved to a rehab center. I have not reached her today but DD Marcia hopes to persuade her to come to her house when she is ready to leave rehab. It must be a serious break. Barby has been told she must put no weight on her foot for six weeks.
The new research on vitamin B12 that I just read reported dramatic protection from all types of dementia including Alzheimer’s for those who maintain high stores of this vitamin. Included among the commentaries was a recommendation for a Mexican liver dish called Higado Encebollado,. I Googled it up and read a lot of recipes all of which were permutations of good old liver and onions. So that is what I fixed for dinner. Liver is the best source of B12.
October 09, 2011 Sunday:
I talked to Barby later last night. She likes the rehab center. She feels like she is in a good hotel. They brought her dinner according to her menu choices, green salad, fruit compote and a slice of beef rib roast, all very good. She thinks she will likely stay the entire 21 days allowed by her insurance and hopes to leave on her own feet, at least with a walker. The hospital food was truly toxic.
The repairs to her foot were more extensive than I realized. She has two pins, some screws, and a metal plate besides all the staples.
The weather here was again lovely. My stepdaughter Kamala and her husband Jeff visited today. They were in the neighborhood to pick up their daughter Josie who is with a group of campers at Weld. Sally made an elegant banana cream pie to serve them. It was such fun to see them.
DS Martin also stopped in. He rode 100 miles today on his bike in the Dempsey Challenge, a cancer benefit. He will stay the night at camp.
Note: Sally’s banana cream pie brought raves not only for it flavor but for its prefect slicing quality within three hours of having been made. Most cream pies are runny, or if not runny, are gluey. She makes hers in the usual way with rich milk and cornstarch, sugar, salt and vanilla. But she incorporates 1 packet of soaked Knox’s gelatin into the hot milk, thoroughly mixes and cooks all ingredients except the eggs, then incorporates two beaten eggs by the standard method of adding a little of the hot milk mixture to the eggs before stirring them into the hot milk off of the heat. It does not go back on the heat. She put dabs of butter on the pudding to prevent it forming a crust. This is preferable to laying plastic directly on the pudding. She then cooled it to lukewarm before spreading it on the bananas in the pre baked all (homemade) lard crust. For the whipped cream, I took the heaviest cream from the top of two gallon jars of milk. We did not sweeten the cream but added vanilla.
October 10, 2011 Monday, Columbus Day:
We just had another perfect Fall day. Jasmine gave 5 quarts.
I dug some of the volunteer potatoes that established themselves in the remains of a three year old manure pile at the edge of the veg garden. I got tired and left the rest for Abby to dig. They are perfectly clean perfect white potatoes, quite large. The largest is an ounce shy of one pound. Also spotted about the garden is a crop of volunteer parsnips. I dug three of these and they are good market sized roots. This is not the ideal time for them. I usually winter them over in the ground but I want to make sure they are good quality and flavor.
One little hen that has been broody for months finally has her heart’s desire. Weeks ago I broke down and gave her an egg (we have too many chicks!) and after setting for a long time it disappeared. Then we gave her another and now it has hatched and she has a tiny fawn colored chick. Abby just set her up with a buffet and dipped the chick’s beak in buttermilk. We don’t have any clabber. She was very hungry.
We did not see Martin until he stopped here today on his way home. He reports a satisfying time in the field this morning with Milo, his setter, who is finally getting a good sense of his job. Martin did not have any birds to bring home but was happy all the same. He brought us some signs to put up along the road: Hunting only by permission of the owner”.
Finally this morning when I felt Fern’s udder I was encouraged to note unmistakable swelling!
October 12, 2011 Wednesday:
Yesterday I received the sad news that DS John’s mother-in-law, Lilia Seno, passed away in Cebu, The Philippines. She had been very ill and was in the hospital. All her daughters including John’s wife Lou and my nephew John Lars’ wife Eve, had traveled to be with her, from Adelaide and Palo Alto respectively.
On Tuesday Abby, Sally and I went to Farmington on errands. We picked up feed, then milk and cream from Mitra, and several other stops including the girls’ favorite thrift shop where Abby found a beautiful white sweater for herself and a smart looking black vest for me. Sally found a charming red checked duvet cover for her guest house in Alaska.
Today Sally worked down by the river whacking out bittersweet that is menacing the trees. It is a dreadful invasive species.
For dinner we baked the huge potato. It was outstandingly tasty with a smooth silken texture. I also fixed some of the volunteer parsnips and these too were top quality. Both were volunteer crops. What luck.
October 13, 2011 Thursday:
Rain and drizzle all day.
October 14, 2011 Friday:
Warm rain most of the day. Temp about 50F. The fall colors are at or past their peak now but the leaves are hanging on. There has been no big wind.
A lot of corn is still standing in our patch. I husked half a dozen ears today. There are corn borers, the first I have seen here. The damage is restricted to the tips. If we do another crop next year I will have to study up on how to deal with them.
I needed the corn for a tamale pie type dish I was making. Sad to say, it did not end up as tasty as hoped. I left it in the oven too long.
Sally made a grand tour of fences and found the electric fend to be in good shape but she was shocked to discover that a lot of the actual permanent fence along the road was missing. I cannot now remember quite how this transpired. Fortunately our sheep, primarily of Sussex breeding, are not as adventuresome as other breeds I have had, Jacob’s for instance.
Jasmine’s production is inching up. She gave 1 ½ gallons this morning. There was a scabby cut on one teat from Milton’s sucking. Not good news.
October 15, 2011 Saturday:
Wonderful weather today. It rained hard last night but was clear, cool and sunny today. DD Abby mowed the lawn and DD Sally continued her attack on the overgrowth of bushes around the house with a special emphasis on ridding us of bittersweet. Bittersweet is a horribly invasive plant that can strangle the biggest tree and will cover everything like kudzu. A pox on whoever introduced it to Maine. We bundle it up and take it to the burn pile at the dump.
DIL Amy and friends are up at camp for a Girl’s Weekend. She stopped last night for milk and eggs. I’ll bet they are having fun.
Because of recent research reports on the huge importance of Vitamin B12 in many degenerative conditions including all forms of dementia, I have resolved to serve liver once a week. Today I made a loaf of pate with half beef liver and half ground pork. We are going to have it for dinner along with our own corn and other veggies, to be eaten while watching Persuasion.
Sally’s DD Rosie has reached Christchurch on route to McMurdo. She reports that there is still much evidence of the terrible earthquake last year.
Egg production is declining. Most days now I find only 8 eggs.
Jasmine gave 5 quarts.
October 16, 2011 Sunday:
Sally spent hours cutting brush and sawing out young trees, some as much as 4” in diameter. The area around my little pool looks far better already.
I worked on my writing project and am happy with my progress, which is a pleasant change. Usually I feel as though I am wading knee deep in something viscous. Who was that author who said “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” I should have printed it out.
Sally made some homegrown pumpkin muffins with dates that DS John sent me from Saudi, Arabia. Delicious! I would give the recipe but she never uses one, being a retired baker. I ground some wheat for her and now she is starting bread. I made slaw from the first of our cabbages that I have harvested. We all three had seconds.
Jasmine gave over 1 ½ gallons this morning. I only got 6 eggs.
October 17, 2011 Monday:
Jasmine gave almost 1 ½ gallons. I got 11 eggs.
The weather was cool with intermittent sun, lovely for working outdoors. Sally did a lot more brush cutting and grubbing out of excessive bushes around the pool. Now you can see it sparkling from many angles.
Abby went to Rumford and took a lot of stuff to the Free Store. She took out a library card and borrowed the dvd of Jane Eyre. We watched half this evening.
Abby also made cookies, Sally made bread and I worked on my writing. I left it on the screen and Sal read it – said it was terrific. My kids are a wonderful audience. Now I can’t wait for everybody to read it. I can’t post it until the next MOFGA paper comes out in December where a link to it will appear following my article.
The cows did not come in properly. Abby and Sally had to look for them in the dark. It was all Milton’s fault. He is growing suspicious that he will be trapped for the night and he is right.
October 18, 2011 Tuesday:
Jasmine gave the same as yesterday, a bit less than 1 ½ gallon.
The weather continues much the same, partly cloudy but a little cooler each day.
I put Milton out with a heavy lead rope attached to his collar. He needs to learn to give to a lead. He is getting stroppy and we can’t have a bull with no manners.
Abby and Sally worked all morning on cleaning and furniture moving. They are getting Julie Jones’ room ready. She was my farm apprentice many years ago and next month is coming back again as an assistant. Abby and Sally carried upstairs one of the wicker couches that was stored all summer in the carriage house/garage. I can’t imagine how they managed it. The rooms are looking very nice.
After lunch we drove to Weld and had a look at Marcia’s camp. The flowers are gone but otherwise all was in order. We stopped at some apple trees along the road, Abby shook the trees and we soon picked up two big shopping bags full. So much goes to waste in this land.
We watched the second half of Jane Eyre while eating dinner.
October 19, 2011 Wednesday:
Mountainmama on the forum was one of several who provided promising looking recipes for home made laundry detergent. I picked hers because I had all the ingredients on hand except the Fels Naptha. I finally got around to making it today – we were completely out. We did about six loads of laundry and I believe the detergent got full marks.
Her recipe is:
2 bars grated Fels-Naptha
2 cups. baking soda
3 cps. WASHING soda (Arm &Hammer, from grocery store or Walmart)
3 cps Borax powder
1 cup. Oxyclean (store brand, MUCH cheaper)
Mountainmama says: I use 1&1/2 Tbsp. for reg. wash, 2 Tbsp. for grungy stuff. Have been using this for years, and it is really great stuff…saves LOTS of money, better environmentally, cleans much better & leaves clothes so fresh-smelling with NO perfumes. I’d use a little more maybe, for a very large load, but not much more.
Rather than grate the Fels Naptha, I cut mine into small cubes and ground it in the Cuisinart.
DS Martin and friend Bjorn stopped in this evening on their way to camp. Martin dropped off his wild turkey all nicely cleaned and tagged. I will fix it tomorrow for a hunt dinner.
October 20, 2011 Thursday:
Jasmine gave only 5 quarts this morning
It rained or drizzled all day but there was no wind. We did quite a lot outdoors. Sally and Abby are both doing fence improvements. I did some harvesting.
Max and Mitra have found a new home for their large sow, Sophie. They knew that getting her into the trailer was going to have to be Sophie’s own idea. Here Max describes the loading process:
After the stock trailer was delivered yesterday I spent about three hours getting the approach all fixed up so the enormous Sophie, Queen of Swine, would deign to get on board. This included a chute of cattle panels and a shallow ramp made from heavy duty lumber. When I finally opened her gate Sophie showed no interest in coming out. She just yawned and lay down in her house with her back towards me.
Later, Mitra went out and had a talk with her. About an hour later when we went out to do the evening chores, and after some additional urgings by Mitra, Sophie decided to come out and see what it was all about. She was not used to moving around that much and had to stop and rest a couple of times. Her haunches were quivering and she huffed and puffed like a fat lady who hadn’t been off the couch in six months. However, I showed her some sweet feed and she climbed right onto the trailer! I was not expecting a rodeo or anything, but I did think she would be more suspicious of the trailer. She showed her adventurous spirit of old and was ready for a change. She has been depressed and lonely. In spite of having a large playground all she did was lay about in her house. The high points of her day were two feeding events.
The new place will be good for her. She will have open pasture with apple trees and grass. She needs to lose some weight. There are several sows and a boar there, but she won’t be turned out with them right away.
Roshan was sad to see her go and stayed home from school to help. She took several photos and fed Sophie treats. I ran her down to school at about 9:00.
October 21, 2011 Friday:
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons this morning.
Sally and I took a walk to the river. She showed me where she had stretched and secured wire fencing along the bank in hopes of slowing erosion. She brought along a shovel to fill in the deep hole Max made last spring to access the spring line. He left it open in case of need but the new union has held. Willie dog and I walked the rest of the way to the brook. We found the witch hazel (Hamemellis) flowering. One seldom catches its brief moment of modest bloom.
Willie rolled in something awful. When we got home Sal gave him a bath.
Abby stayed home to bake a cake for dinner. Tonight Martin and his bird hunting friends are coming. I am roasting a wild turkey, a pheasant and a partridge. This is the first time I have had a wild turkey either to roast or eat.
It turns out that Sally did use a recipe for the pumpkin muffins. She modified one from the Penzey’s catalogue, cutting down on sugar and adding the dates.
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar- beat together, add 1 beaten egg
1 cup pitted, soaked, chopped dates
1 t vanilla
1 c mashed(or canned) pumpkin or leftover squash (which is what I used- I forced itthrough a food mill a potato ricer)
1/4 cup milk or evap milk — beat all those together and add:
1 2/3 cup flour mixed with:
1/2 t salt, 1t soda, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t ginger, 1/2 t cloves. Mix gently, put in
12 muffin cups (the smaller size, or 6 lg ones). Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar (i.e coarse-crystal sugar).
Bake 375 for 17- 25 minutes
The meal turned out a lot better than I expected. The birds were not exactly tender but were nice and juicy, not over cooked. Martin carved. We heard all about their day in the woods and no dogs got lost.
October 22, 2011 Saturday:
The temperature today hung around 50F with intermittent sun.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons.
Sally spent hours today pruning my apple trees. They are all in great need. She also is cutting away a lot of bushes that have been moving in. These are young trees that are just beginning to bear. One has perfectly delicious apples – we were able to taste a couple of them.
Nancy Hutchinson is also here today working on getting rid of bittersweet, that dastardly vine.
Sal and I picked some corn. It is a red variety I have never seen before and Abby lost the envelope so I may never know. When fully mature it turns a fine deep red. The corn patch looks completely shot but when you husk the corn it is still fine, apart from the borers. I am going to ask DIL Amy’s dad, Ken, who knows all about these things, how to save the seed, if for no other reason than that according to The Milkweed, seed corn will be in very short supply in the coming year. The Milkweed is a newsletter that has no advertising. The editor, Pete Hardin, tends to be the first with information on ag news and trends. When the news is bad, as it increasingly is, USDA and many industry sources tends to hold back with it as long as possible so Hardin gets to publish a lot of scoops. Hardin also says that food prices are going to really soar in the coming year – although that is self evident, but perhaps his prediction of 30% may be news.
DS Max called. He and Mitra are bringing home their latest crop of slaughtered chickens from Greaney’s.
We heard coyotes tonight about 9:30. The animals were all in.
October 23, 2011 Sunday:
Jasmine gave 1 ½ gallons. The weather was similar to yesterday but a little sunnier and a little cooler. It did not get above 50F. Only got 7 eggs.
Martin and Bjorn, his hunting friend, came over and moved furniture. I gave them lunch; baked beans and slaw. They brought me a pint of honey from Kevin, the friend from Winchester VA who didn’t come this year, and scrapple from Russ, the guest who lives in PA near Abby’s DD Helena. The honey and scrapple are both excellent.
DD Sally got a burn permit and burned a lot of prunings and slash.
October 24, 2011 Monday:
Jasmine gave a bit less than 1 ¾ gallons
Sally did a lot more burning and pruning.
DS Max came with feed from White Water and milk and cream from Mitra and several of their wonderful chickens. He brought me a cattle panel which he made into a nice little enclosure for Milton inside the beefer pen. Milton has gotten good about being led to his cozy night stall but a pen in the beefer pen will be an added convenience. I gave him Max a lunch of baked beans following which he felled some trees that were too big for Sally. He had his own chainsaw. Sal forgot to tell him not to fell the Black Locust into the paddock. It was covered with seed pods, toxic to cattle we are told, and they shattered all over the place. Sally raced around with a dustbin picking them up as the cows stood staring.
Abby roasted one of the new Luick chickens in the Romertov baker and it was excellent as one would expect. She also made a great apple pie. The apples came from a tree of mine. Sally and I picked them this morning. This tree is one I planted about 10 years ago, maybe 15. It has never had any apples before because it was terribly wounded due to my having failed to remove its name tag after planting. The main leader finally broke off and lots of side shoots took over. I tried to rescue it with fertilizer and it responded but still took several more years before it bore or even risked flowering. The side shoots must have been above the graft because when this year it finally bore a quantity of apples they turned out huge and delicious. Of course most are blemished, being so neglected, but there were sufficient good ones to make this delicious pie. Such a shame, the tree is not in a part of the garden where I often go and I did not even notice that it was covered with apples until most had rotted.
October 26, 2011 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave something over 1 ½ gallons. We thought she might be in heat. She bellowed continuously from early morning until we went out to milk. Apart from the bellowing I detected no signs of heat but I marked it on the calendar anyway.
The sun shone most of the day but I don’t think it reached 50F.
DD Sally and DD Abby went to Farmington and picked up everything we were out of. I stayed home and tried to catch up on my correspondence. On the way home they stopped by an abandoned orchard and picked up four more bags of apples.
Sally’s letter to the editor of the Lewiston Sun Journal was printed. Here it is:
Subject: Bird Strikes from Wind Turbines
To the Editor: Angus King’s presentation of “information” about industrial wind turbines was more than a little self-serving. Several errors have already been pointed out. I’d like to address another, namely his assertion that “house cats kill more birds than wind turbines do”. His statistic is drawn from wind industry records: as their employee drives around the facility in his pickup he’s supposed to collect and record any dead birds he sees. If that was one per turbine per day, that could indeed be less than the typical cat. But most birds aren’t killed outright. They’re knocked to the ground, often with one wing broken but able to hide in nearby vegetation. They’re then killed and removed by local ground predators, populations of which go way up with the food bonanza (coyotes, rats and so on). Research published in the Journal of Wildlife Management used motion-sensitive cameras and other techniques to show very clearly that for every one dead bird recorded by industry personnel, sixty more were killed. Even the most committed housecat is hardly likely to kill sixty birds a day, Mr. King.
Sally McGuire, Carthage
This is the version she submitted. The paper edited it down slightly.
While she and Abby were gone, her son Rafe called and I told him about the letter. He provided some additional information. They mow under the turbines which provides excellent conditions for raptors to spot any small creatures such as mice which emerge from the surrounding cover, or disabled birds. A great many hawks are killed because they stoop without looking above their heads and are struck by the blades of the turbines.
This creates what is called a population sink. Whenever members of a population, such as mice, are killed others rapidly move in to take their place. Sally gave me another example of a population sink which involves hummingbirds. A friend of hers has a series of hummingbird feeders around her porch which are visited each day by many hummers. Under each feeder sits a cat. The woman insists that her cats never kill any birds because there are just as many there every day. But the assumption that it is always the same birds is unwarranted.
Abby, who dearly loves movies, rented The King’s Speech today. We watched the six part BBC series of Pride and Prejudice last week and hadn’t got enough of Colin Firth, who stars in this movie. We took our plates in and ate while watching half of the movie. We are saving the second half for tomorrow night. It is incredibly good.
My own little drama today involved finding a tick on myself in a place I cannot see in the mirror. I just hope I got it off early enough because you aren’t going to get any more information than this.
October 27, 2011 Thursday:
It is getting a bit colder every day. It begins to feel Novembery. We are all racing around doing things that need doing before it snows which may happen Friday night. Abby put plastic back on the chicken room window. Sally continues to work on getting rid of bittersweet and says she needs Max to fell more trees. She also made a pumpkin pie. She is an early riser and was already putting it into the oven when I came downstairs at 6:30.
Abby found a nest with 10 eggs.
Sal drove my car to Weld accompanying Abby who was taking her car to the garage. My car nearly wouldn’t start. When she got to the garage they tested the battery and said it was shot. She kindly bought me a new one. I have had endless battery trouble.
We watched the second half of The King’s Speech. It is an amazingly good movie.
October 28, 2011 Friday:
It was down to 32F this morning and the prediction for tonight is a lot colder. Abby and Sally spent much time moving in the potted plants and also carrying in about 50 winter squashes that have been curing on the attic stairs in the carriage house. Most of them are now on the front stairs like last year but the couch too is temporarily covered with them.
I made four more pints of apple jelly with juice I had in the frig. It was made from my ornamental red crabapples and is exceptionally tasty.
The young men in the picture are my Australian grandsons Tommy, seated, and standing, Jack, 2nd from left. It is Tommy’s 21st birthday dinner party. Tommy does wonderfully well with his exercises but is still in a wheelchair following an accident 2 ½ years ago. The second picture is my son John with his wife Lou and Jack and Tommy. The last picture is John and Lou, and Jack’s friend Scott.
The restaurant is in the German-theme town of Hahndorf, near Adelaide SA. Here is how John describes the buffet:
“The Hahndorf Hotel serves a very generous dinner, comprised mainly of things like piles of massive smoked pork chops, bratwurst, and racks of lamb, with a sprig of parsley or two thrown in to represent the vegetable kingdom. Oh yes, plus some sauerkraut (for atmosphere).”
October 29, 2011 Saturday:
We forgot to look at the thermometer this morning but our neighbor, Nancy, said it was down to 22F at her house. We had all the plants we wanted to save either covered or brought inside in pots but even inside the garage/carriage house some were damaged.
Jasmine gave 1 ½gallons. I only found 4 eggs.
DD Sally dressed off a rooster yesterday and another today.
She worked long and hard outside doing pruning and brush clearing. DD Abby put a lot of hoses in the basement and is organizing things in the carriage house. She covered a lot of wood outside because a snowstorm is predicted for tonight. Nancy cleared a big section of entangled raspberry and grapevine below the stone wall. The ground is so full of roots that we think that next spring we will try to kill them by solarizing. This means covering the area with heavy layers of plastic, preferably black, and basically roasting the life out of them.
I studied up on what care my newly favorite apple tree might need right now and all I learned was raking and being sure there are no apples under it. This I did, although the girls had already pretty well removed all the fallen fruit. I hope I can keep up with its care so that next year there will be some unblemished fruit. This year for the first time it bore well and the fruit, although mostly damaged, was nonetheless outstanding in flavor and size. I wish I knew what kind of tree it is.
October 30,2011 Sunday:
The power was out for four hours during the night. We awoke to a snow covered world. It is wet snow and is melting fast. Here are a few pictures from Mitra and Max’s place taken this morning.
The sheep didn’t like the looks of the white world and would not go down the ramp. Sally finally led them around through the inside passage. We got the wood stove in the living room going for the first time this year. It took the chill off that side of the house in a hurry as did Sally’s winterizing of some of the upstairs windows.
Abby pulled the beets and I dug up and potted my rosemary plant. A hard freeze is predicted tonight.
Sally killed a couple more roosters. She is also cutting up and freezing apples for pies.
Abby made chocolate cookies using the backyard chocolate nuggets (tablia) from the Philippines that DS John sent to me. The flavor was outstanding.
October 31, 2011 Monday, Halloween:
When I came downstairs Sally had just put an apple pie in the oven. She wanted to test the pie quality of the apples she and Abby picked on the way home from Farmington last week. They are scruffy looking apples like Cox’s Orange Pippen. They did make a fine pie, which I ate for breakfast. We all did. While I milked, Sally killed another rooster.
First thing this morning Sally and I heard a lot of crazy peeping in the barn. Sal went up to the loft and found a raft of newly hatched chicks without a mother. She caught them and put them into a bucket with some hay while we searched long and hard for the hen. No luck. Finally we loaded up the milk and went back to the house and put the bucket of chicks on the Aga to keep warm. Then we called Abby who has a lot of patience for this sort of thing. She got here about 9:30. She found a little white hen, who had perhaps been hiding or perhaps had gone downstairs by herself, up in the loft acting worried. Abby managed to maneuver her down the stairs by holding the peeping bucket of chicks in front of her. Now they are all back in the roomette that already houses a cute hen with one chick. There are 11 chicks in the new group,
We took a tour up to Weld today to check on Marcia’s camp and take down her window boxes. All was well except that whoever was meant to turn off the water has not done it.
On the way up we stopped so Sally and Abby could pick up apples under a neglected tree. Nobody bothers with their apples around here it seems. They filled three large bags.
Both going and coming my car was making a bad scraping noise in the right rear wheel. To me it sounded like the brakes. It gets worse when braking. Back home I was sufficiently alarmed to call Mike at the garage and see if he would take it. He still has Abby’s car but fortunately we have the truck, although it will not do for picking up Julie on Thursday because it has a bench seat and no back seat so only two can fit in it. Mike said he would do his best to squeeze in my car so Abby and Sally caravanned back up to Weld with it.
Tonight I made Eggplant Parmesan with some of my remaining eggplant. It was pretty good.
We had only one group of trick or treaters, three attractive kids with Ronnie, their mother.
November 01, 2011 Tuesday:
Rosemary is still in McMurdo in Antarctica while waiting to transfer to a remote research station. She writes:
On hold now because of blizzard conditions. Hopefully we’ll be able to get out soon. But–one of the other crew members pointed out to me today that once we do fly out to camp our nearest neighbors will be on the space station. Not McMurdo station. The space station. In space.
The weather here in Maine has warmed up a bit. The leaves are mostly gone but the sun shone all day. Jasmine continues to give 1 ½ gallons. Milton is getting all the rest. I am plotting some changes in his routine.
I got my car back with two new brake shoes. Hurrah!
For supper I made pumpkin soup. Sally made biscuits. We all had seconds.
November 02, 2011 Wednesday:
Jasmine gave 1 ½gallons.
DS Max and DIL Mitra came over and brought feed and extra cream. Max cut down some black locust for Sally. He tried to start the riding mower but no luck. It is seized up somehow. It took all of us to push it back into the carriage house.
I gave them my Dr. Seuss plant. Max named it that. It is a crazy looking thing DD Marcia brought from Florida which has grown a great long bare wiggly stem, well, call it a trunk, with tufts of palm-like leaves at the top and on some side shoots. It is quite comical looking.
Mitra also borrowed my deLaval style milking machine. Her pulsator is giving trouble.
Abby found a nest with 24 eggs in the part of the haymow that is closed off. No idea how the hen got in there.
November 03, 2011 Thursday:
Jas gave 1 ½ gallons this morning. I only managed to find 6 eggs total.
Julie Jones is on her way here now by bus but yesterday during a change she left two of her three carry-ons on the bus. A man with whom she had been chatting took charge of her things in hopes of getting them back to her. It has proved quite difficult to get them back. Greyhound will not take any responsibility unless it was checked baggage. I will have to wire funds to the man’s destination in Enfield CT.
Abby is now on her way to Lewiston to get Julie. She missed one connection, otherwise would have been in at 3:30. Now it will be 10PM. We sent along some chicken soup.
The weather here today was very fine.
November 04, 2011 Friday:
Very fine weather again today for November. We have fires going.
Abby and Sally opened up the gate from the pasture into the paddock garden. The sheep soon found their way in but Abby had to go round up the cows. When they finally entered Jasmine attacked the long lush grass at the far end where we never mowed. Helen preferred the cornstalks.
Sally and I went to Rumford so that I could wire that money – an expensive and wasteful process. But we had fun going to the health food store.
Julie took a very long walk.
DS Martin and Hannah (5) and Henry (3) came for supper bringing fresh haddock from the Biddeford fish market. Abby and Sally fixed supper: sautéed vegetable medley and baked potatoes. Abby also made a custard.
November 05, 2011 Saturday:
I drove to Lewiston today with Sally and Julie to get her luggage… success!
On the way home we stopped at Nezinscott Farm for coffee and doughnuts. Gloria is doing wonderfully well with the store. We did not see her but did I did speak briefly with her husband. We admired his dairy herd. He said they are a Holstein Brown Swiss mix. I did not guess this when I first saw them.
On the way out of Turner we saw that a small new brick oven bakery has opened. We stopped briefly to get acquainted. They look very promising.
Abby stayed home with Hannah and Henry who seemed to have a lot of fun – no tears or squabbles. Martin went bird hunting. This afternoon Sally worked on fence repair where it appears that a moose has taken out a section. Julie began digging through one of the raised beds in the veg garden. My lead ewe, Agnes, is unwell. She hardly wanted to move today. It is impossible for me to figure out what is the matter with her. The other eight seem just fine.
Martin brought a computer and set it up for Sally. This will be a big help to her.
November 06, 2011 Sunday:
Jasmine’s production was up a bit today. She gave about 1 ¾ gallons.
Good news about Agnes. Whatever was wrong with her yesterday has gone away. She trotted out with the others this morning in her usual way. Hurrah!
My best guess is that she was slightly bloated.
Sally has been reminding me that the air hose on the vacuum pump is looking a bit tacky. I have not worried about it much because it carries air away from the system, not onto the milk. Back in the kitchen, Sally discovered that there was a bit of plastic stuck in it. I have been complaining about weak vacuum and blaming every other possibility without being able to see that piece of plastic. Of course it was not entirely preventing vacuum or I might have noticed the problem. I can’t wait to try the machine tomorrow and see how much better it works.
My cellar has been flooding shockingly and just about causing me nightmares. The room of the cellar that floods has no sump drain. Martin was here today and says I must have Roto Rooter. Ugh.
Max came over too and brought me some vegetables from Mitra’s farmer’s market: beets, carrots, rutabagas and a huge bag of Brussel’s sprouts, Sally’s favorite. Martin also brought carrots and beets from his FIL’s wonderful garden. I should have enough root veg to last most of the winter.
Martin brought his splitter and he and Max split wood until something broke on the splitter. Max has taken it to Farmington for repairs.
I made a nice chowder with the leftover haddock from our dinner Friday night. Martin and Amy like to patronize a new market in Biddeford that sells fish fresh off local boats. Fish like this is becoming so hard to find.
Sally’s daughter Rosemary, my granddaughter, is still in McMurdo, Antarctica, awaiting weather conditions that will permit flying out to the research station. She is the EMT member of the team and also one of the two cooks. The other cook, a guy, is a strong advocate of raw milk, not that there is any to be had where they are. He has his copy of The Untold Story of Milk with him. Ron! Are you reading?
DD Abby just brought me a plate of hot oatmeal cookies.
November 07, 2011 Monday:
The milking machine worked nicely but no better than usual and Jas gave less than1 ½ gallons. Fern is now bagging up noticeably. She is due Nov 24th. I bring her into the No.2 stanchion while I milk and give her about 1 ½ cup of grain (COB). She continues to be very mellow.
It has been another lovely autumn day, warm and sunny. Sally and Julie burned a lot more slash. Abby is working on creating insulation in the chicken house.
My septic system is mortally clogged and must be pumped. The pumper is coming on Wednesday and it turns out we have to have the port dug out and cleared. The tank is under turf, totally unmarked. Thank goodness for my filing system – I found the site map but it did not help a whole lot because the digging was too hard for us and all the ladies rebelled. I called Max and he kindly agreed to come over tomorrow and dig. Until the pumper comes we cannot flush, shower or do laundry as it just makes everything worse. Good thing we live on a farm.
I salted a flitch of bacon that was in the freezer. The recipe is from Hugh Fernly-Whittingstall.
For dinner we are having mashed potatoes, salad of lettuce from the garden, fresh Brussels sprouts and lamb meat balls with harissa spice.
We believe that Rosemary and the crew have flown out today from McMurdo to a research station four hours closer to the South Pole.
Honest Bacon (Adapted from a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)and included in Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson)
1 entire pork belly cut into three equal pieces, preferably from a pastured and thoughtfully fed heritage or rare-breed pig.
1-1/2 pounds of flaky sea salt (used Morton’s canning salt)
1/2 pound of muscovado, demerara, or soft brown sugar
1/3 cup of freshly cracked black Tellicherry pepper
Several fresh bay leaves, finely chopped
20 juniper berries, lightly crushed
1/3 cup of coriander seed, crushed
20 sage leaves, finely chopped
Combine the salt, sugar, and pepper along with any of the aromatics being used, in a nonreactive, nonmetallic container. Glass, ceramic, or wood is ideal.
One at a time, place a piece of belly on a clean work surface and rub a generous handful of the cure mixture over the surface of the meat.
When all of the pieces of belly have been rubbed, stack them on top of one another, again in a glass, ceramic, or wooden container, and leave them, covered, in a cool, insect free place for 24 hours. Reserve any of the remaining cure.
Over that time, the salt will have leached quite a bit of liquid from the meat. Remove the pieces of belly, pour off the liquid and rub the meat again.
Re-stack the bellies, rotating them in order, and repeat the process daily for 4 days. The bacon will be cured enough for use at this point but continuing to drain, salt, and rotate for up to 10 days will extend its storage life. Bacon cured for longer than 10 days may become unbearably salty.
After the bacon is cured, rinse the pieces in cold water to remove excess salt, pat them dry, and wrap them in clean muslin.
Hang the wrapped bacon in a cool, well ventilated but enclosed place, a barn, garage, or outbuilding for example.
Portions can be cut as needed with the remainder rewrapped and re-hung. The bacon can also be stored under refrigeration.
Bacon that has received a longer cure should be soaked in cold water for several hours before use.
A 4 or 5-daycure will produce bacon that can be held for up to a month. Wrap the bacon tightly or vacuum-pack it to allow long-term storage.
I did this through day 6. The bacon is incredibly good, due no doubt to the quality of the pork (from Max and Mitra’s pigs). Another time I will stop at day 4 or 5. It is marginally too salty. When frying salty bacon start the slices covered with a ½“of water and simmer a couple of minutes then pour off the water and fry as usual. Another time I will fry some at day 4. I did this with the rind on. I did the salting in a big plastic tote.
Good luck. Let me know of any improvements you come up with. I did not miss the smoking one bit.
November 08, 2011 Tuesday:
The main news today, besides granddaughter Shireen’s 16th birthday and great granddaughter Lily’s 3rd birthday, was that dear Max came over and dug out the septic tank for the pumper guys tomorrow. It was a big job. Abby helped. It was 3ft underground.
Later Abby went up in the woods to see if she could repair the spring line. She found where it had separated. It was very hard to get together. Later we tried back flushing the line to get it running again but no luck.
Max said they were having steak for the birthday dinner.
November 09, 2011 Wednesday:
The balmy weather continues. Such a gift.
Jasmine gave something over 1 ½ gallons.
Well, when the septic system pumper had not arrived by 11:30 I called the company. At first the gal said she had never heard of me, certainly had no record of an appointment. Then she found I was scheduled for a week from now. I groaned in despair and she agreed to send the truck on Friday. It’s all rather awful.
But there is also good news. The spring water quit running almost two weeks ago during a cold snap and we assumed it was frozen. But with five very warm days in a row I decided the line must be broken. It took a couple of sorties into the woods by Sally and Abby and several attempts at back flushing but it is once again running. To get to the break Abby and Sally and the dogs had to cross the brook on a fallen log which Sally found to be a bit of a challenge.
Sally has been prepping the garden for next year’s vegetables and Julie is helping.
This evening we listened to the Portland Symphony Orchestra which featured Laurie Kennedy as soloist in an Ernst Bloch viola concerto. She was marvelous.
November 10, 2011 Thursday:
While I was still in the barn this morning, AAA Septic Systems showed up with the pumper truck. Besides pumping they unclogged the line farther up. What joy for all! Showers! Laundry!
Dr. Cooper came and cut and disbudded Milton. He remained groggy all day.
I made up a new batch of laundry detergent, this time a double batch.
It has started to rain.
November 11, 2011 Friday:
It is turning cold and clear.
Jasmine gave 1 ¾ gallons. It may be that Milton did not take all the milk late yesterday before going to bed due to having a headache and sore back end. He is fine today.
Sally and Abby and I met Mitra for lunch today in Farmington. We went to the Thai place. The restaurant is thriving and we had a nice meal.
After lunch we all convened at the thrifts hop and found a few goodies.
On the way home we made a plan to put electric fence around Pocket Field. It has good grass compared to the pasture now in use.
November 12, 2011 Saturday:
Jasmine gave almost 2 gallons today.
It is colder today. I don’t think it reached 50F.
Abby and Sally spent many hours today setting up electric fence around Pocket Field. Julie assisted for a while then worked on soil prep in the veg garden.
They were able to turn the cows and sheep onto my stockpiled grass at last and they spent all afternoon grazing, even though it was not until some hours later after Sally and I did a circumnavigation of the entire fence line that we actually plugged it in.
DS Mark sent good news this morning. He wrote:
I did get the fellowship I applied for – I will be doing a year at CMMC in Lewiston after I finish at MMC in June. It’s the hospitalist medicine fellowship I applied for. I am pleased, it sets me up for a career as a hospitalist which is what I want. So, good news. Ann has her fellowship in geriatrics at MMC for next year too. So we both added a year of training. We will have about every weekend off which is nice. Love to you and Abby and Sal. See you soon.
I believe they plan to look for a place halfway between the two hospitals, MMC being in Portland and CMMC in Lewiston.
November 13, 2011 Sunday:
The cows and sheep were all way down in Pocket Field gobbling grass this morning. Sally had to lead Jasmine home by the collar.
Then after milking, instead of waiting by Milton’s pen for somebody to let him out, she swept on past and headed back to Pocket. He got her to stop a few times just long enough to latch on before she plowed forward again. It was very funny to watch. Sally and I imagined her thinking “All the other guys are getting more than their share. Gotta hurry.”
Sally did more fencing. Abby went to the dump. I started a teleme cheese. Julie dug some more in the veg garden before going up to her cabin.
Sally canned five pints of free apples. The flavor is excellent.
I did not get any editing done so will have to work late.
November 14, 2011 Monday:
I think I have made peace with my deLavalstyle milker. I got 1 ¾ gallons this morning.
DS Max came over with his shop vac and he and DD Abby cleaned up the water still standing in the cellar. That section of the cellar has no drainage. What a relief. Max also took 2 bucket loads of manure down to the garden for which I am exceedingly grateful.
The main reason Max came was to fill the hole he dug last week to expose the septic tank. He put in a gravel layer called a surcharge which must now settle before we add back the native soil.
Abby made an excellent Cajun sort of dish for dinner with red snapper and mixed veg over rice. She used some of the zucchini and tomato mixture we froze. This is such a useful thing to have canned or in the freezer.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011:
The first thing we saw of Fern this morning, she was way down by the river by herself, a classic sign of calving. After bringing Jasmine in for me, Sally took Willie and went to fetch Fern. Willie is quite helpful with moving cows. It took a long time to get her to the barn. She had pink tinged mucous stringing down so I knew she was getting ready to calve. We kept her shut in the beefer pen to prevent her calving far away. I have had enough of carrying calves home. At about 11AM she gave birth to probably the tiniest heifer I ever saw. She was a week early and I doubt weighed over 25 pounds. She is lively and perfect. It took her a while to mobilize and finally she stopped trying and just lay down. Abby and Sally had to leave to help Julie move things to her new little cabin. I checked on the calf for the next couple of hours until they returned but could not get her standing and sucking without more help. Fern’s behavior is perfect apart from circling all the time to lick the calf which of course knocks it over. Once the girls got back they soon had it suckling like a champ, trying all four teats. Abby is especially skilled at this. During the course of the day Abby brought four buckets of molasses water to Fern which she drank in a hurry. Abby also milked out some colostrum which Fern tried to swipe, and she got some of it, too.
The afterbirth had an odd appearance. It was like a 2ft.knotted rope, white with a pattern of reddish black polka dots which were the cotyledons that had detached from the caruncles on the uterus.
Sally got another thrill today. As she came in from the barn following success with getting the calf to feed, she was just in time to answer the phone. It was Rosemary calling from near the South Pole at the research camp where she is the cook and EMT. They were preparing for a major blizzard. All 30 people were bringing their sleeping bags into the kitchen building. Rosemary was directing the storing of three days worth of provisions where they can reach them without going outside.
November 16, 2011 Wednesday:
The new calf, Ella, was full as a tick this morning. There is nothing of the struggle we went through with Jasmine and Milton. She was up on her tippy toes trying to follow Fern out the door. I brought Fern into her stanchion and after milking Jasmine, I hand milked about two cups of colostrum, at which point she kicked the container out of my hand and spilled it all. I then milked another 1 ½ cups, all from her left hind quarter which was overfilled. Tomorrow I will probably try the machine.
There was one bit of excitement. Fern wanted badly to go out to graze so I put Ella in the calf pen, which is a cattle panel in the corner of the room, and let her out. She was back in minutes trying to bust into the pen. So Sally let Ella out and and we shut them both into the beefer pen. When I checked on them a couple of hours later both were gone. Fern had waggled the toggle closing and left with her calf. Sally and Abby had driven Julie to Rumford to shop for groceries and there were still several hours of daylight so I decided to ignore the situation pending their return. When they came home and went looking they located Fern and Ella fairly quickly, very gratifying, compared to calf searches I have known.
Baby Ella, Mother Fern, and Old Auntie Helen
I drove Julie and her groceries up to her little cabin among the birches where she will make her abode. It lacks some amenities such as running water but is far better equipped than many camps. There is a hand pump and a storage battery which will run a TV. We will be able to pop in often with milk. The view is superb.
November 17, 2011 Thursday:
I brought Fern into her stanchion this morning and with help from Sally, put the machine on her. Her two right quarters were very tight. I used the Surge because when kicked it is less likely to drop in the shavings and suck up debris. All Sally had to do was shove on Fern to keep her weight on her off side. Because I have been standing Fern in the stanchion for several weeks while I milk Jasmine, the noise and machine are well known to her. As usually happens with a tightly packed udder, the moment I actually got the cups on her the relief made her accept the machine. She did kick once and knocked the machine out of the surcingle but no harm was done. I was essentially finished but I put the machine back on her just so she did not get the idea that she gets to decide when we’re done. She gave one gallon of colostrum.
Fern wanted desperately to be out with the other cows and not locked in the beefer pen with Ella. On the other hand, she didn’t want to leave Ella. Abby let her make up her own mind. She had to let Fern back in three times before she decided she could trust us as baby sitters and marched herself down to Pocket Field while bellowing over her shoulder ever few stops.
Nancy H. came today and used the weed whacker all around the ratty looking edges of the lawn. She also weeded and fertilized around several of my young fruit trees. Sally and I did some weeding around the new asparagus patch. Abby worked all afternoon in the barn and made a very fine dinner of lamb ribs, squash, and hot red cabbage slaw. Sally made dinner rolls.
Sally has most of the windows winterized with plastic. She tries to do one or two every morning before we go to the barn.
Sally talked to Julie. She reported that everything was perfect at her camp.
November 18, 2011 Friday:
It was another busy day but much colder. It snowed for an hour at daybreak and a nasty wind blew much of the day. However I hear that it is -40F in Fairbanks, AK so must not complain.
Jasmine gave her customary 1 ¾ gallons, Fern gave about a gallon of colostrum. I had great difficulty keeping the machine on her. I am using the Surge. It must hang from the surcingle but can fall off if it swings sideways, which it did. Fern was letting down like crazy. It was milky and messy and frustrating to all concerned. Fern kicked a couple of times but all in all was a good sport. We keep Ella tied at her head. Tomorrow I will try raising the machine up on a dolly so as not to have to hang it from the surcingle.
We drove some milk and eggs up to Julie this afternoon. She seemed happy in her little house.
Martin and Amy and the kids stopped in for supper on their way to camp. I had made baked beans and squash and Amy brought a salad. Sally made focaccia and Abby made a chocolate cake.
November 19, 2011 Saturday:
Fern’s colostrum has turned into milk now so we poured it together with Jasmine’s for a combined total of over 3 gallons. I hope to get seriously into cheese making now or better still, get Sally or Abby involved. I have a new cheese making book, Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin. Her instructions are highly detailed and scientific, a bit different to my usual reckless methods. In my defense, most of the Coburn Farm cheeses have been more than satisfactory. Her teleme recipe bears no resemblance to mine but I love to experiment and hope to report back after I order some of those starters. Using sterilized milk, I have been successfully reculturing my mesophilic from a batch I bought years ago from Ricki Carrroll. As a general principle, I dislike any method where I have to keep reordering something rather than making my own. I freeze the starter in ice cube trays.
Martin and the kids came this morning. Martin did lots of useful things such as tilling the paddock garden and transporting more manure down to the lower garden. He also took a walk along the river to see if the reason the spring stopped running was perhaps due to a break in the line rather than that it had frozen. He took along his pointer, Milo. Today we allowed Ella out with Fern for the first time. While walking along the river, Milo stopped to point. It turned out he was pointing Ella napping on the wrong side of the fence as calves so often manage to do. What luck that he found her. I guess it was dumb to let her out. Sally came down and moved her up to the sheep paddock, a small but grassy paddock that will have to satisfy Fern.
November 21, 2011 Monday:
Fern lifted her foot once towards the end of milking. It is hard to get all the milk out of her two left quarters. There is still some engorgement. Sally got Ella to suck that side today. She has been neglecting those two quarters. I hope tomorrow morning to get her milked out really well
Sally made an apple cranberry pie using the fallen apples we scavenged. We have nearly used them up. Sally has been cutting them up and freezing them in pie quantities.
Sally and Abby both worked on fencing. Sally did more digging in the veg garden.
They took some supplies up to Julie.
I made havarti cheese from my new book. I had a thousand interruptions so I hope it turns out. BTW, I see that the author does offer instructions on how to maintain a culture instead of always sending for more.
November 22, 2011 Tuesday:
It was the coldest morning yet this fall, down to about 15.
Today the MOFGA paper published my critique of Simon Fairlie’s book Meat: a Benign Extravagance. It will be online soon.
Fern is getting more relaxed about motherhood. She’s perfectly willing to leave Ella behind in the barn, and comes back about noon and moos to get in to see her baby. She’s also getting better every day in the barn.
Sally is digging in the garden still(though today the ground was a bit frozen until noon) and making a flowerbed where the tomatoes grew this year. I helped haul weeds to a new spot we’ve ordained for them. Abby worked in the barn on various winterization projects.
We’ve been enjoying the new kefir from starter donated by forum member Sarah S.
In the evening we enjoyed watching the Masterpiece Theatre production of Northanger Abbey along with cookies that Abby made with blackstrap molasses and candied ginger.
November 23, 2011 Wednesday:
I was awakened by the lights of the snowplow flashing across the ceiling as it rattled along the road. I got up to find it snowing hard and it has continued all day. I had to switch to using the cargo sled to get the milking machine to the barn. The snow is wet and heavy so did not drift even though there was considerable wind.
I put the sheep over in to their own paddock with hay, inasmuch as nobody could graze anyway. I put down hay for them and figured to just keep them there from now on. They had other ideas and managed to wriggle out and present themselves at the barn this evening as it got dark. Tomorrow I will try again after figuring out how they got out and making repairs.
Mark and family were planning to come up tonight, stay at Martin and Amy’s camp and join us tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner. The weather discouraged them and they will drive tomorrow instead. This was a good decision. Abby and I drove to Weld to have a look at Fire Lane 17, the access road to camp, to see if it had been plowed, which it had not. We also took Abby’s snow tires to the garage where her car was left for repairs. The driving was treacherous. Coming down a hill on the way home, with Abby driving 30mph the car spun out of control, reversed direction and went into the ditch with a considerable impact on the frozen embankment. I was wearing my seatbelt, saw this coming, braced myself and was not injured. Abby, who never wears a seatbelt, pitched forward and hit her head on the rear view mirror, which snapped off. She got a bump on her head but probably not sufficient to change her habits. The car was totally hung up with snow packed into the undercarriage. We were both able to get out and stand by the road. I was going to call AAA if Abby’s cell would work but it would not. But then she got a live signal and called her DD Helena, my granddaughter, in Carlisle PA who then called her dad who lives here in Carthage quite near to where we went off the road. Before long he arrived in his truck with a chain and pulled us back onto the road. Before Tim arrived several other cars stopped and offered to help in one way or another. My car seems undamaged.
We had intended to go up to Julie’s but that road is less traveled with few places to turn around and we lost our nerve.
Back home, I made soup out of leftovers and Abby made gingerbread bar cookies.
November 24, 2011 Thursday, Thanksgiving Day:
First thing this morning it was cold again, about 10F. The cows were down a bit, possibly because of the change in diet (hay) since the grass is covered with snow. Fern was very quiet and let down well, barely twitched her leg. We did have to speak to her at that point.
Then we came in the house and raced around starting preparations for dinner. Put in a huge standing rib roast and giant chicken, both courtesy of Max and Mitra. They both turned out perfectly in the Aga. M and M also provided a delicious turnip and carrot casserole- shredded with cream and butter and baked. Also Mitra made delicious stuffing and cranberry sauce from Maine cranberries.. Annie and Mark and Hailey brought cookies, pie and wine, as well as a beautiful loaf of bread from Portland’s Standard Baking Co. For dessert we had a fabulous pumpkin cheesecake that Mitra also made, as well as Hailey’s apple pie. Before dinner everyone tried the new Teleme cheese and pronounced it a big success (thank heaven!). We toasted absent friends with the Iranian toast “You chair is empty” All in all, a fine meal and fine time had by all.
Afterwards everybody went to admire Ella and agreed that she was the cutest calf anyone had ever seen.
Granddaughter Roshan took these pictures on the trip to the barn
Fern and Ella
Dr. Mark listened to my heart and lungs and pronounced me devoid of problems.
Abby and I fixed up a big plate of leftovers for Julie and Abby drove it up there. She says she is doing fine.
November 25, 2011 Friday:
Sally got up at 5 as usual and did her tea drinking ritual and then kitchen work. No matter how early we start it always seems to be nearly 10 am before we get back from the barn and do the associated milk and kitchen chores. Very foggy in the morning but it burned off while we were in the barn and turned into a lovely day, up to about 35. The roof was dripping.
We’ve been trying to accustom the sheep to living under the carriage house. They like it fine in the daytime but are not all happy to stay there at night. So Abby brings them back Pied Piper style and they race into their usual stall in the barn. In the morning Sally takes them back out; they race out happily and get to eating hay in the run-in under the floor of the buttery. Dr. Mark left his stethoscope here yesterday so Sally and I packed it up and mailed it to his friends John and Woody in South Portland where he and Annie are soon to move.
About noon Abby and I went to Weld, picked up her car from Mt. Blue Garage and went up to Marcia’s camp to ready it for some people who are to look at it tomorrow. It looked fine. Then Abby picked up Julie and Sally and they all went to Rumford to pick up groceries. Hannaford’s was more crowded than usual, possibly due to Black Friday. She and another customer marveled over the price difference between organic grapes from California and non-organic from Chile; the latter were $2 cheaper. DS Bret, the nutritionist in the family, is clear on the point that thinned skinned produce such as grapes will have absorbed heavy doses of pesticides. Better to buy organic or do without. He worries less about thick skinned fruits such as bananas. However if I ever do buy bananas I always get organic because they taste so much better. Non organic are nasty tasting.
November 28, 2011 Monday:
On Saturday I chopped the vegetables for kim chee and salted and drained them overnight. Today I added the ginger, chilis, and garlic. It tastes good already.
Jasmine, Fern and baby Ella trot in perfectly in the morning and are mostly very well behaved. At least there is no kicking. Some days they seem to make a special point of pooping and peeing. It is often hard to figure out what sets them off. Today they were well behaved.
It is much warmer today than it has been. Last night remained above freezing. Most of the snow is gone.
Sally has now carried in all of the apple tree wood that Nancy sawed up, virtually an entire dead tree. She also makes a circuit of the fences nearly every day. The electric fence is mostly in good shape except when deer knock it down but some of the permanent fence is in need of repair.
DD Abby and Sally took my car to the shop in Weld and left it there for inspection. They also visited DD Marcia’s camp and closed the curtains. People looked at it on Saturday.
I took a stroll around the veg garden and nibbled the remaining green things such as lettuce and chard. There are now 15 raised beds averaging five yards long prepared for spring planting, all manured and covered with plastic to prevent erosion. The great majority of the work was done by Sally. Three beds remain to be done but will most likely have to wait for spring.
The winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is making a big display this year. Sally brought in some heavily laden branches which we have in a vase.
November 29, 2011 Tuesday:
We continue to get about 3 gallons total combined from Jasmine and Fern OAD. Fern has Ella full time and Jas has Milton about 9am to 6pm. Three gallons is plenty for us.
I think the temp got up to about 45F today. It was cloudy and raw and started to rain about 5o’clock. The best thing about this time of year is the new seed catalogues. Sally worked outside trimming off more black locust. I made quark.
We encouraged the cows and sheep to go down to the pocket field leaving Ella in the beefer pen; they were happy to go. Fern just bellowed a bit and then left. In the afternoon we decided it was time for Ella to join the big girls and we took her down to them. Fern thought Ella should walk to her, not vice-versa, but Helen came right over and checked that Ella was all right walking alone – she didn’t approve of Willie scurrying around her. (Actually, Helen takes a dim view of dogs in all circumstances.) Eventually they all came back, while it was still warm and before it started raining.
Ella is 2 weeks old today and stands 22inches high at the withers.
Tonight we watched the rest of a move that we began watching last night. It was an Australian movie called Rabbit Proof Fence. It was the true account of three Aboriginal half cast children who were taken from their mother in accordance with a program of the provincial government designed to Westernize the native people. They escaped from their school and began the 1200 mile walk back to their home. A massive search for them was mounted by the authorities and one little girl was recaptured. The other two made it back to their grieving mother. It is a remarkable film.
November 30, 2011 Wednesday:
It rained hard all last night leaving us with a mild, almost balmy day. Sally spent a lot of time out walking my pasture and her own. We allowed wee Ella to spend the entire day out with her mother. We have orange flagging on her collar without which she would be utterly invisible when lying down and nearly so even when standing. She blends in so perfectly with the brown grass that all that marks her presence it a dot of orange.
Agnes, the old ewe, has taken up with Helen age 15. Helen tolerates her company but just barely. Ella also likes Helen’s company. We notice that when Ella is nearby Helen butts Agnes away. Tonight when all the other sheep came in, Agnes tried to stay with Helen.
I started a cheese using Lannie’s recipe.
Last night I hung up a bag of clabber and made qvark. Abby has made a cheesecake with it which we are about to sample.
DD Sally’s Rosemary, my granddaughter, is in Antarctica. It is summer there. The temperature is around 10F and the sun shiners brightly 24 hours a day. Rosie is occasionally able to call but has no email.
Lots of plumbing excitement today- first a big flood in the cellar and then a nasty flood under the sink as the plumbing there was evidently deranged by the first disaster. Sigh. It is that white plastic pipe that goes together with press-fit collars.
December 01, 2011 Thursday:
Sally did the early pass to the barn and picked up the paper as usual. She was diverted by the honking of a most valued neighbor who wanted to talk about harvesting deer on our fields. He also filled us in on several highly interesting neighborhood land transactions about which we have been speculating. Great way to start the day, she said.
We left Ella in the barn but let the cows and sheep out to graze as we were going to Farmington to see Mitra and do some shopping. This was a most successful expedition and we got home about three o’clock to the sound of bellowing from every single animal, it seemed, except Helen who stood back and surveyed the excitement. Abby raced around feeding them and one after another settled down. Ella in particular was too overexcited after a day’s separation to eat till she’d raced around her mother about a dozen times.
We met Mitra at an eatery called Wicked Gelato which made very delicious mocha coffee. We also went to the secondhand bookstore called Twice Sold Tales and had fun buying books. Sally bought a very fine first edition of “The Enchanted April” to send to the South Pole for Rosemary to read (it’s about an April in Italy, just the thing for Pole reading.)
December 02, 2011 Friday:
It was somewhat colder today and overcast. Sally and Abby worked outside all day. Yesterday Sally bought metal fence posts at the Farmer’s Union and today set a lot of them around the Pocket Field, also strung barbed wire. Willie dog went along to help but then heard Martin and Milo dog out on Sally’s field across the river and had to join them. Willie was immune to Sally’s calls. She is not sure how he got across the river but he was gone quite a while and returned pretty muddy. Martin didn’t get any birds so I guess Willie wasn’t a lot of help.
Abby set out to inspect the spring line but the brook was too high to cross. The log we walk across on was submerged.
Martin brought his flatbed with boards for his new dock and a backhoe attachment for his Kubota. That would have been useful last week when Max had to dig out the septic tank.
More importantly, today was the day that Mitra went for her biopsy. It took hours at the hospital what with all the waiting. The doctor biopsied two lymph nodes, one behind her knee and the other higher up. He also removed some tissue from the site of her melanoma and covered it with a skin graft. After Max brought her home he called to report that she was doing well. Roshan had done all the evening barn chores and a friend had brought dinner. He left her to go to town for her Vicodin and some chocolates.
Martin was here to dinner. He brought sausages from the butcher in Biddeford and I fried potatoes and sautéed cabbage. After dinner Martin split a lot of wood.
December 03, 2011 Saturday:
Everything went smoothly with milking. I am currently using my upright model milking machine, the De Laval style. Neither machine is perfectly designed for either cow but the Surge does work a bit better for Jasmine. I don’t use the surcingle. It just sits on the floor and she stands like a rock.
Fern also stands well but lifting the Surge to hang it from the surcingle is almost beyond my strength. It has to hang from the surcingle, as her udder is way up in the air. Sally stands by to help so the problem could be solved. The milk from both cows is in together now making it pretty heavy.
Mitra seems to be getting along alright with Max doing all the lifting. She insisted on going to the barn this morning despite doctor’s orders to lie quietly all day. She says the only thing that hurts is the site where the doc took the skin for the graft. It is about the area of a playing card. Max says it looks nasty.
Sally spent a lot more time today on fencing with help from Abby. Martin hunted this morning before coming by to do more wood splitting and setting up a light for the layers, something I had not yet gotten around to doing.
Martin brought two pheasants for our dinner which I split and made into a sort of fricassee. I also baked a very nice squash. Abby made a salad with her late lettuce and made a bread pudding for dessert.
Martin is doing his best to get her Monitor stove to function.
December 04, 2011 Sunday:
Woke up to a long day- Martin went over to Farmington to meet Max and pick up ten giant round bales of hay. Max was persuaded to come back with him and help load sheep, despite his many duties surrounding Mitra’s recuperation.
While that was going on, Abby and Sally went down to the field and worked on fencing. Then Abby made cookies, I heated up yummy frozen leftovers for everybody’s lunch and then the rodeo started. Abby corralled the sheep in their pen and Max, Martin and Sally caught them and tied them one by one in the back of the truck, tied off short so they couldn’t get tangled. They were very heavy to lift- good thing they (Max and Martin)were both there, we never could have done it. Then Max went home and Sally, Abby and Martin drove off to Castonguay, the butcher, in Livermore Falls. Got home about six, exhausted.
The cows are thrilled with their hay.
Martin took a picture of Abby and Sally and the sheep at the butcher’s. I forwarded it to Marcia who asked if that was me in the background. I couldn’t see anybody in the background. She must have mistaken me for one of the sheep I guess. That’s the last time I send pictures to her! Others later identified a shadowed form that proved to be Abby.
December 05, 2011 Monday:
It is December but so far feels like early November. But I heard a prediction for snow. It was sunny much of today and about 40F. Sally made pumpkin muffins for breakfast.
I had a new survey done of the north line of my property.
Sally worked on fencing again today. We are all tired.
Marcia sent six marvelous Japanese yams or sweet potatoes that she got at her farmer’s market. I baked a couple for supper. They were the best I ever remember.
December 06, 2011 Tuesday:
We are getting a bit less milk now, reflecting no doubt the fact that Ella is growing. I am happy that Ella now seems to nurse the two left teats. They are no longer quite so packed solid when Fern comes in. We still get 2 ½ gallons, more than enough.
The news from Mitra is good!
The surgeon just called and said that the biopsy results were in and everything was perfect! There were no cancer cells in the additional skin they took from around the mole site, or in the lymph node from my knee or in the lymph node from my groin. He said I could hug him when I saw him on Thursday and to go ahead and have a glass of wine for him too
We are all celebrating.
I drove over to Jay and picked up the lamb. I had sent five but two are sold and will be cut and wrapped at the abattoir. Ours were quartered by the butcher and they look very good, nice and fat. Tomorrow we’ll cut and wrap our three here thus saving $60 each. The hanging weights were all close to 60lbs.
Abby and Sally spent most of the day down in the field, fencing. Nearly done. Found a neat line of survey markers showing the edge of the property. We were very glad to see that an old stock watering pond is entirely on my property- we had thought it was, but are now sure. It has fine big rocks around it and is very handsome; in the spring when ferns grow around it. We hope to get it functional again.
Abby made a delicious apple/blueberry pie. We also had liver and onions.
December 07, 2011 Wednesday, Pearl Harbor Day:
I can’t help wondering if a lot of the people who were totally surprised when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor were anything like the people who are going to be completely surprised when the ice caps melt away. Japanese intentions were scarcely a secret. When I was five or six years old, I recall that one day as we were parked on the wharf in New York harbor, my father pointed to a great rust bucket of a ship that loomed above us and said it had a full cargo of American scrap iron headed to Japan where they would melt it down to make bombs with which to attack us. Prior to my birth in 1928, he had been living and teaching English in Japan. If Japanese intentions were no secret to a Wesleyan English major, I expect the news had also reached Washington.
DD Sally spent all day cutting the lamb while DD Abby packaged it. Sal did everything by hand with a meat saw and did little boning out so there are no chops but many packages of small rib roasts and both large and small roasts of other types. There was one big bowl of scraps for grinding. I started on the grinding but now she has taken that over for me.
Abby has run into town to get a video from the library; we ordered Mansfield Park.
I have soup ready for dinner. I made it from the leftovers of our pheasant dinner last Saturday. It is very promising. We will try the lamb tomorrow.
This year we did not bring home the hides with fleece from our sheep. Last year we did, and Sally spread them out and sheared them. She has not yet used up that wool so elected not to take on more. I asked the butcher if we get any credit for the hides. He said no, he is charged for having them hauled off so now just composts them.
Everything now made of wool or leather can also be made of petroleum products, and is. As most of us know, oil is subsidized. It thus becomes cheaper to make fake fleece (Polarfleece) and “crueltyfree” shoes from petroleum products than to use real (unsubsidized) hides and wool. Perhaps a return to real hides and wool would liberate enough oil so that we could all have a few more rides to the mall.
December 08, 2011 Thursday:
The wind blew hard and cold all day. The power went out early this morning but thank goodness came back on in time to get the cows milked.
Sally’s hands and wrists are achey from all that meat sawing yesterday.
Sally and I drove to Weld and looked at the camps, which were in good shape. I wanted to get up there again before it snows which it is predicted to do tonight although there is no sign of it right now. We have a bright, clear moon.
I cooked a meaty piece of upper lamb shank in the Romertof clay cooker with brown rice and eggplant (frozen from my crop). It is high quality lamb. I don’t think they can have been too seriously stressed.
December 09, 2011 Friday:
We did not get any snow but it is colder and the wind continues.
Sally is still fencing and is happy with the results. I must walk down again and see it.
I looked at the newly surveyed property line. The neighbor’s recently constructed granite wall is essentially on the line which is a relief.
Max reports that Mitra still has a lot of pain where they removed skin and she has run out of Vicodin. but it is looking better. She is setting up at the farmers’ market tomorrow all the same. Max brought my grain today and we sent over a roast shoulder of lamb for their dinner.
For our dinner, Abby curried the rest of last night’s lamb and made a quark and pumpkin cheesecake.
We got 2 ¾ gallons this morning. Little Ella is now going for all four teats. She is getting a lot wider.
There is no snow so we send the cows out every day to graze even though the grass is not worth much. They have good hay all night.
December 10, 2011 Saturday:
We figured out why the milk supply has been dropping. Sally caught Milton in the act today of nursing on Fern. She was trying to prevent him but could not kick him off because he was coming at her from behind, the little dickens. He is about 3 months old now and has been making cuts on Jasmine. Nothing too serious, but enough to worry me. Tomorrow morning I will put a “mustache” on him if I can. Until then he will be in his little pen. He weighs a couple hundred pounds now so weaning is not unreasonable, but I will give him an option of milk in a bucket.
Abby and Sally went over and cut a Christmas tree on Sally’s field. It is a pretty little fir from a group in need of thinning. Abby set up my crèche and has a nice wreath.
I made another cheese and started baking my Christmas cakes.
It is getting colder but the sun came out long enough to enable me to dig a clump of green onions. Abby put some in the salmon croquettes she made for dinner.
Sally did more fencing. She is pretty tired.
December 11, 2011 Sunday:
It is getting colder. Every day Sally and/or Abby find more places where drafts are creeping in and tape them up. Sally put up the heavy suede cloth drapes over the front door.
Milton is now separated from the cows. Abby offered him milk in a bucket but he was not clear about what to do with it. She left it on the fence for him and when she came back it was gone. Most likely he bunted and spilled it.
Sally took the dogs for a walk down the North Field. She explored under the big tamarack tree and discovered bog cranberries growing wild. Tomorrow we will go down and see if there are enough to pick. How exciting!
I baked more Christmas cakes and Sally baked bread and stolen.
We have been watching Monsoon Wedding in nightly segments the last of which was tonight. We enjoyed it quite a lot. Of course I miss most of the dialogue. I don’t have trouble with an Indian accent but was glad for the subtitles.
Martin got me started on Facebook. It is a struggle but Max is coming over tomorrow and will try to help me sort it out.
December 13, 2011 Tuesday:
Max was here yesterday and rebuilt the ramp that the sheep use out the back of the barn. This is the ramp that John made four years ago. Some of the composite board at the top end was failing as well as the top ends of the support members. Max cut away the top part of the ramp and reset it at a steeper angle. It is only used by the sheep and they can handle it.
This morning I discovered that the reason Fern has taken to waving her foot around at milking time is that she has mastitis in her left front quarter. It is not too bad. The milk is not even salty tasting but the quarter is not milking out and Ella is avoiding it. This evening when we got home from Farmington we arranged for Milton to nurse that quarter, which he was only too willing to do, and he got it softened right up.
We had a good time in Farmington. DS Max and DIL Mitra joined us for lunch at Wicked Gelato. Mitra is still in a lot of pain with her surgeries. We all urged her to stop being a hero and refill her Vicodin prescription so she can get some sleep. She looks very well. She sees her doctor again tomorrow.
DD Sally and DD Abby and I went to a new kitchen supply store in Farmington called Mixed Up! and bought a few choice doodads. Mainly we brought home a mountain of lovely organic veggies From the Better Living Center health food store and Hannaford supermarket.
December 14, 2011 Wednesday:
Fern’s front quarter was not so hard this morning thanks to Milton. However I had a lot of trouble with the machine. The pulsator on the DeLaval is not seating properly. Halfway through milking I asked Sally to bring me the Surge and I finished up using it. Milking ended up taking about an hour.
The weather today was pretty nice. Sally and the dogs went for a good walk. Then she and Abby spent much of the day putting up Christmas decorations. The house looks very festive.
This evening I put Milton back on Fern and she was furious. Even with grain in front of her she twirled around and tried to kick off his face. Being a big tough guy now, he ignored her and nursed her two left quarters fairly thoroughly. Fern is much nicer to me than to Milton and doesn’t mind if I handle her. Mitra had her stitches and staples out today. I have not had a chance to talk with her yet.
December 16, 2011 Friday:
It rained all last night and part of today. It does not look as though we will have a white Christmas. I recall only one other such year and it was unlike this in that it we had sub zero temperatures, whereas today it was almost 40F. It felt like April.
The cows were both fine this morning. I have been worried about mastitis in Fern because Ella avoids nursing on her left side. We try to encourage her and today separated them for a while. We will do that again tomorrow, I think. I have not put Milton on her again because it makes Fern so mad.
I made another cheese. It is farmhouse cheddar.
Sally walked down to the tamarack tree and picked some of the cranberries. I have not made it down there yet because each day something has interrupted my plans. Sally says they are growing thickly.
Sally already has her seed order ready. That is another thing I have not been able to get to.
I was still unable today to talk
December 17, 2011 Saturday:
Milk production is tending upward now with a new calf management scheme. In truth, the management scheme evolves every few days. Two days ago we began separating Ella from Fern for a few hours in the evening so as to get her to nurse on Fern’s left side. Fern had a slight case of mastitis last week due to neglect of those quarters but that has cleared up thanks to our extra efforts to get the calves on her, first Milton and now Ella. Max came today and put the nose device on Milton. We let him out with the cows and he ran from Jasmine to Fern trying unsuccessfully to suck. Max picked up some expensive calf starter feed for him. We will see if he will eat enough of this to keep him in good flesh. This is a great problem with weaned calves in winter. They may eat plenty of hay, as Milton does, but it seldom supports proper gain and bone structure and they get pot-bellied. We are taking him several quarts of milk in a bucket. He took to the bucket right away.
Max spiked another round bale and moved it into the hay ring.
I finally made it down to my recently discovered cranberry patch. Sally and I picked for about 15 minutes but it is much colder today and our fingers became too painful to keep at it. I guess we got a cup and a half. The dogs had a wonderful time. It is going to be way colder tonight, we are told.
For dinner I roasted lamb loin ribs. We don’t have chops because of needing a saw so we made a lot of these roasts. It was very, very tasty, everything one could wish for in lamb.
December 18, 2011 Sunday:
It was zero this morning. I guess it was good training for when it gets to -30. We dealt with lots of frozen this and that and changed some of our arrangements. At least I think all the animals are comfortable. I am glad Max got that round bale in yesterday. By afternoon the day warmed up to 20F and the sun was bright. But it is cold again tonight.
Three week old Ella has been spending her time with her mom 24/7 and I have been milking Fern once a day. Now Fern’s production is building up and Ella has taken to nursing only 2 quarters. This is leaving too much milk behind, making Fern uncomfortable and risking mastitis. So today I twice separated Ella for a few hours so as to be able to direct her to the two over filled quarters. This is a nuisance and maybe more trouble than doing an evening milking. Heretofore the problem clearly was building without my being aware of it because Milton was grabbing a lot of milk from Fern. That is no longer happening and not from want of trying; Milton now wears a guard.
DD Abby has accepted a job as caregiver for some elderly folks in Blue Hill. She is to start on Boxing Day. They will be glad to have her; of this I have no doubt. Blue Hill is very beautiful, I am told.
Here is a photo from a wonderful celebration for Grandson Harper and Great Grandson Eli’s birthdays in AK.
Harper cooked all day:
1. consumé of caribou stock, onions, gruyere
2. patties of braised goat wrapped in pork caul with sage infused honey
3. roasted tomato with garlic on creamy polenta
4. brussels sprouts
5. sauteed baby portobello
7. pears poached in red wine and spices with creme fraiche, chocolate, and wine syrup
December 19, 2011 Monday:
Zero again this morning. Fern was so packed with milk that she seemed unable to let down properly. I separated Ella for the morning so as to be able to depend upon her appetite at lunch time. I was then able to keep her on the two left quarters. She drank enough to soften them up appreciably. However I decided it was best to begin evening milking. This evening I brought them both in and milked them both into the Surge for a total of 1 ¾ gallons. They both seemed pleased to come in. Ella always runs right alongside of Fern, such a cute, sweet little girl. Milton is a good boy too. He has adapted well to a bucket. Poor old Helen is getting much too fat again and is having trouble with her feet.
I cooked a small lamb roast for dinner. Once again, it was ravishingly delicious. I wish everyone could have some.
December 20, 2011 Tuesday:
Adding an evening milking has made a difference already in volume of milk and in the way Fern’s udder feels. Now that it is not so firm Ella is more inclined to nurse from her left quarters. After this morning’s milking and again at midday when I was able to supervise Ella’s choice of teats, I felt that our worries were over. This evening I was not quite so sure.
We got 3 gallons today.
DD Sally and DD Abby went to Rumford today to stock up for Christmas. I also wanted to go to Family Dollar to pick up a few Christmas extras. That store was so profoundly depressing that I could not bring myself to make a single purchase. Everything is made in China and everything involving fabric from slippers to cushions was made of petroleum derived materials. Not one thing was cotton or wool. I have made up my mind to avoid all these plastic fabrics.
We stopped at the library and borrowed The Enchanted April.
Abby made a delicious ragout from the leftover lamb.
I have learned that DS Bret is coming down from Fairbanks to join DD Marcia and family for Christmas in California. Also with her will be my grandson Harper, her son who is the same age as DS Martin, my youngest son. Harper’s dear wife Jenn and children Amara and Eli are all coming.
December 21, 2011 Wednesday, Winter Solstice:
This morning I got about 2 gallons from Jasmine and Fern combined. Fern did not milk out well. We separated Ella so as to get her hungry enough to make a real effort. She was stuffed with milk at 8am and by 2pm was still only half hungry.
As soon as milking was over Jasmine went into raging heat. She was racing around mounting the others to the extent that Abby and Sally feared she would mash Fern and Helen. Not likely in the case of Fern who is young and strong but fat old Helen is wobbly enough in the back end without anyone squishing her.
Sally and I packed up a box of frozen lamb plus a pint of cream and I drove to town and Express mailed it to DD Marcia in CA. Now I find that Bret may not join her after all but all the others will enjoy it I am sure.
Fern let down better this evening. We got a total today of around four gallons.
Abby went to Rumford and by the time she was back a freezing rain had begun. By evening milking there was a slick of ice everywhere. We left the cows locked inside the barn to avoid the possibility of their slipping and dislocating a hip or something. I talked to Max. He had to drive today to Kittery ( a 3 hour drive to the southern tip of Maine) and found the highway dangerous in many places and the traffic at a crawl. It was a six hour RT drive and he sounded wiped out. After talking with me he decided to go out and close Nellie in too.
I have a note from Bret in which he sounds more positive about going to CA.
Abby made a lovely dinner of braised short ribs, baked potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Sally made one of her world class apple pies.
We watched the last half of Enchanted April after dinner. It was lovely with all those flowers and sparkling Mediterranean and happy people, just the thing for a stormy night. Sally sent the book, a first edition she found at Twice Sold Tales, to her DDRosie. This should brighten the days in Antarctica. Come to think of it, it is summer there and the sun shines with an unblinking eye but it is plenty cold.
Here, starting tomorrow, the days begin to lengthen.
December 22, 2011 Thursday:
Last night Mitra got an awful pain on her thigh near her groin where the biopsy was taken. There was a red angry lump and she had a fever of 101F. It was worse this morning and Max took her to her doctor soon after they were done with their chores. She learned that it was fluid accumulation related to the biopsy. The doctor withdrew fluid with a syringe. She has more pain pills and a prescription for an antibiotic (Keflex sp?). Her appointment coincided with Shireen’s orthodontia appointment, also predicted to be painful. Fortunately Max is home and available to drive.
The doc said to keep hot compresses on her lump to aid circulation. I suggested she borrow Nellie’s Uddermint, which has that action and she intends to try it.
Last night it rained on the frozen ground. There were big puddles treacherously lined with ice. The sun shone much of the day and it was warm and pleasant but it still took half the day to get rid of the ice.
We listened to Handel’s Messiah performed by the NY Philharmonic and chorus tonight in its entirety. I was not familiar with the soloists but all were beyond belief, especially the soprano.
December 23, 2011 Friday:
It snowed last night so we will have a white Christmas after all. I know it will not melt because a very cold spell is on its way.
Both cows were fine and cooperative this morning but this evening Fern would not let down. I rubbed her with Uddermint. Great stuff.
Martin came up with Milo for one last day of hunting. Then he had supper with us. It was fun to see him.
DS Mark called (Dr.Mark). I told him that Max had reported little improvement in Mitra’s status and he was alarmed. He called them and now I understand that Mitra’s doctor wants to see her in the morning.
December 24, 2011 Saturday, Christmas Eve:
As the weatherman promised, it was cold this morning, 10F. Tonight it is 0F.
Fern is getting worse about letting down for the machine. I got little more than a dribble out of her this morning so separated Ella, who was already stuffed, until 2PM. I did not even bother trying to milk this evening. I will attempt milking again in the morning, then do as I did today. I will probably do the same thing again Monday for my own convenience, as the family will be here for a holiday meal. Then, if Fern has not shaped up and begun to cooperate, I will pull Ella until such time as Fern decides to do things my way– or I will bottle feed Ella.
Mitra is still far from well. Her fever continues and the infected area on her thigh does not seem to be responding to the antibiotic. She saw her doctor at 8am and he drew more fluid for a new culture to see if a different antibiotic may be called for. Keflex covers most skin related bacteria but as the infection is related to her groin sutures, there may be different bacteria at play. The doctor said that the area of the infection appears to be contracting and concentrating. The area is hard and red. He wants her to continue with hot compresses and her current course of antibiotics.
Along with Christmas prep, DD Abby is getting ready to go to a new caregiver job in Blue Hill, ME. Today she went in her car to get gas and ran out along the way. She rolled it into the parking lot of a convenience store in Wilton. By coincidence she had brought along her gas can. A very nice lady drove her over and back to a gas station to fill it. Besides being nice, the lady was also very strong and lifted and poured the gas into her car. It could have been so much worse on the winding and deserted route to Wilton. Once in winter I drove 20 miles without meeting another car on that road.
December 25, 2011 Sunday, Christmas Day:
Chores went smoothly except that Fern is more reluctant each day to let down for me. I will have to wean Ella to a teat bucket at least until Fern sees reason. I can’t do this until festivities are over and I have a chance to buy a new teat bucket. Fern has two quarters that Ella, if left on her own, does not touch. They are packed too full of milk. If I separate Ella for 5 or 6 hours I can then supervise her nursing and see to it that she takes those two teats. But that still leaves Fern with more milk than Ella can drink and yet she will not part with it.
After chores, all three of us changed into nice outfits. I put on a black velveteen gown which the girls agreed made me look like the Mother Superior. We sat around the tree drinking champagne and eating saffron rolls that Sally made and opening our gifts. Abby gave me a fine framed oil pastel painting of a butterfly, her specialty.
Abby spent much of the day packing for her departure tomorrow.
Sally made a salmon pie for our dinner, a McGuire tradition. She had brought the frozen filet from Alaska. It is called kulebiaka and is a Russian dish. What a treat.
Kulebiaka- Russian Fish Pie
Boil several potatoes, maybe 6. Don’t over boil. Slice them and put them into a buttered pie dish, add salt and pepper. Meanwhile, sauté 3 or 4 nice leeks (onions will do) in a good bit of butter- don’t bother with the tops, save for soup. Add salt and pepper and dill, and layer on top of the potatoes. Skin and slice thin a fillet of salmon and layer it on with s and p and a little dill. Then beat one cup of sour cream with dill, and layer that on top. Should also have sliced hardboiled eggs (I forgot to add them). Cover with a nice crust made with homemade lard if possible. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour.
You can also make it as a two-crust pie. You can use other fish, and/or add sautéed cabbage.
December 26, 2011 Monday, Boxing Day:
Fern was in roaring heat all day.
I again separated Ella so that I can supervise her feeding and put off evening milking for another day. I will be hosting dinner for 12 and have much cooking to be done.
Abby left at 10am for her new job.
The guests today included DS Max and daughters Shireen and Roshan. Mom Mitra was too ill to leave home.
DS Mark .DIL Annie was on call and his DD Hailey was also ill.
DS Martin, DIL Amy and kids Hannah and Henry (5 and 3) and Amy’s mom Karen. This was a 2pm meal.
For guests’ nibbles I served the first of my recent cheeses, a havarti.
We had ducks (2 mallards and a teal) that Martin had bagged and a roast turkey.
Cranberry sauce from my own wild berries
Stuffing with mushrooms and chestnuts
Baked Hubbard squash
Salad made by Amy
My gift from Roshan was a cello concert, a wonderful reward for my sponsorship.
Shireen gave me a framed drawing of my barn.
After evening chores, when DD Sally and I got serious about clean-up, we made the disheartening discovery that the dishwasher was not working. Sigh. I fiddled with it to no avail. The day was saved by Martin who returned to the farm, having forgotten their milk and eggs. His fiddling had better results than mine. He was able to recall the machine to its duty.
We learned that DS Bret, who was planning to fly down from Fairbanks to join his sister in Cazadero CA, missed his flight. All were disappointed.
December 27, 2011 Tuesday:
One more day of Fern being milked only by Ella. Tomorrow Max is coming with a teat bucket and I will separate Ella until such time as Fern is willing to share. Max will also bring feed. The bins are down to dust. I cooked macaroni for the chickens.
Sally and I ate elegant leftovers.
Somehow yesterday I injured my right knee and am hobbling. I had to milk with my leg out straight. Getting up from the milking stool took serious planning ahead.
I began work on my seed order, a good thing to do when one’s knee is in trouble.
An update from Mitra (not for squeamish): The culture results indicate that I am on the correct antibiotic. The bacteria is Staph Aureus, the regular strain, not the MRSA strain. I’m to continue taking my current course of antibiotics. This morning, the area which I now like to describe as a fanny pack being worn on my thigh facing the other thigh, finally erupted. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! The “fluid” took the path of least resistance and came out from the site of the groin sutures. A lot of fluid. The doctor was thrilled to hear the news and wants me to keep doing what I’m doing. I have an appointment on Thursday.
December 28, 2011 Wednesday:
It rained hard last night. All the snow is gone and the river is roaring.
We took a new approach this morning with Fern. Ella was penned up all night. First I milked Jasmine. Ella was tied nearby Fern. Fern was packed with milk and started letting down, the first time she has done this. I put the machine on her and got 1 ¾ gallons, as opposed to the stingy 2 quarts I have been getting. Afterward we let Ella finish up. She of course got less than usual and later in the Beefer Pen we saw her go for Jasmine who did not kick at her. Ella was then with her mother all day and I did not milk tonight.
DD Abby called from Blue Hill. Her job is very demanding. It is an elderly couple; the gentleman has cancer and the wife has Alzheimer’s.
I discovered that one window in the dining area, a “combination”, still had the screen down rather than the glass. No wonder an icy draft was hitting my head every time I lay on the couch below it.
Martin and Amy got me a new (to me) washing machine, a front loading one. I am having a good time putting in loads.
Martin was here today and moved another round bale in for the cows. Max came and brought feed and stacked wood. I was completely out of chicken feed; in fact yesterday I cooked macaroni for them. They were excited about it.
My knee is quite a lot better today. The path to the barn was a sheet of ice today. I walked with a ski pole. What a nuisance it would be if I were to fall and make it worse.
December 29, 2011 Thursday:
Today’s milking was a repeat of yesterday except Fern resisted letting down for a while. She finally relaxed and gave almost 2 gallons. Jasmine gave 2 gallons.
It was bitterly cold today with lots of wind.
Mitra’s update from her doctor visit: Today was my second day of no fever!!!! The doctor thought the area looked much improved from Christmas Eve. The area has continued to drain quite a volume since it erupted on Tuesday. The doctor said the hole the fluid was coming out of was the size of a small pencil tip and he was worried it was going to heal over. He enlarged it to about a half inch slit so that the wound can drain more effectively. He expressed out a bunch more fluid. Gross. I feel so much better now that I don’t have a fever. The area on my leg is still hard and red and it HURTS!
December 30, 2011 Friday:
Temperature 10F this morning and only slightly warmer by evening, however there was no wind so it did not seem bad.
Fern was quite cooperative this morning with letting down and gave the same as yesterday, just shy of 2 gallons. Ella makes no objection at all to separation. Fern bellows a little if she is in her stanchion and has finished her grain before Ella arrives. Ella now leads quite well.
Abby called about 8am. Her job is smoothing out a bit. She is to get some time off tomorrow.
Poor old Helen’s feet are bothering her a great deal. Sally gives her chopped apples with a couple of tablespoons of turmeric every day. But it is not just her feet. She is in pain while lying down also. We must make some serious decisions.
December 31, 2011 Saturday, New Year’s Eve
Our morning milking protocol is working well.
First I milk Jasmine. Fern is in her stanchion hopefully getting into the mood to let down. Ella has been separated all night and is hungry. She is tied where they can touch noses. Then I milk Fern who now seems to understand that she gets Ella only after she has been milked. I now get 2 gallons from her instead of the measly quart or so that I was getting when they ran together 24/7.
I was determined not to establish a habit of letting Ella in to start the let down process with her sucking. This does work. It will make a cow let down for sure. But then you have to milk (or wash) slimy teats, or have a bumptious calf on the other side of the cow, or worst of all, ultimately have to drag away a calf weighing a couple of hundred pounds. For the first couple of days there was some bellowing. But I explained to Fern that she was quite simply not getting Ella until she has let down and agreed to being milked. She got the picture fast and now on Day 4 is solidly in this pattern. I am leaving behind some milk for Ella so that she does not tear up Fern. Also Fern and Milton (who wears an anti-sucking guard) share a pan of some fancy calf grain I bought. They don’t eat much.
The area from house to barn remains a sheet of ice. I twisted my knee last week and making the trip to the barn is a challenge. I am using a ski pole.
Our New Year’s Eve festivities consisted of finishing off a bit of champagne left in the bottle we all shared at Christmas dinner. We were in bed by 9:30.