January 03, 2013 Thursday:
We got eleven eggs today and just over a gallon and a half of milk.
Yesterday Mark and Annie came and took me to the optometrist in Rumford because my vision has been deteriorating rapidly. He gazed into my eyeballs and said I needed to see the specialist, Dr. Hamzavi. I got an emergency appointment for today.
While I was at the optometrist, Sally’s daughter Rebecca, husband Torsten and small sons Halfdan and Torlief arrived for a visit. They are to stay ten days except that Torsten had to leave today to go back to work. Halfdan has a cold and was not able to enjoy our fine dinner of lamb rib roast, but we enjoyed it for him. Sally made another blackberry pie.
This morning was minus five degrees and the water was frozen up in the barn. Milking was slow and painful and it seemed to take hours to get the water running again. Later today Max came and took me to the Hamzavi appointment in Lewiston. They ran a great many tests on my eyes, shining lights in them and taking pictures and said my right eye was going the way of my left eye with wet macular degeneration. He gave me a shot in my eye of Lucentis. I have another appointment for another shot in one month. Max and I stopped at the Bread Shack on the way home and got a snack.
Meanwhile back at the farm Rebecca made a lovely spaghetti and Max stayed to have some. He also fixed the sink drain which has been giving us awful troubles, running out on the cellar floor.
January 04, 2013 Friday:
About a dozen eggs and a gallon and a half of milk. It was eight degrees this morning but it warmed up to nearly thirty over the day. Rebecca and Sally and the kids walked around the garden and field in the morning. Sally showed her all the different apple and cherry trees. The snow in the field was a little deep for Torlief but he did very well. (He’s not yet five and Halfdan is about a year and a half.)
I cooked a brisket for dinner and started a new batch of cream cheese. Rebecca made chocolate chip cookies. At chore time they all came out to the barn and looked for eggs. We all got to watch Willie enthusiastically helping to herd the sheep into their room. Afterwards Rebecca pulled the boys around in the wheeled cart on the plowed driveway. Willie wanted to ride too, so she put him in and he loved riding with the boys
After cooking all day the brisket was still tough so we put it back into the simmer oven for tomorrow. Mostly we had mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and strawberries and cream for dessert.
I’m pretty tired from my two days of eye appointments and didn’t try to use my eyes much today.
January 05, 2013 Saturday:
Most of the day the temperature was in the mid 20’s but with a cold wind. I got 14 eggs.
Granddaughter Rebecca, Sally’s DD, and little Torleif and Halfdan are here and today we were joined by DIL Amy and little Hannah and Henry. We had a fine day with lots of eating and outdoor activity. The wind let up enough for sledding. Rebecca and Amy helped with the sledding and all had a good time except for Halfdan who had a bad cold and cried quite a lot. I made black bean soup, among other things, and Rebecca made a blackberry crisp. In the midst of all this, besides doing most of the cleanup, Sally and Rebecca defrosted the chest freezer. So now we have enough room for the pork when it arrives. Amy stayed for supper which gave the cousins time to get nicely acquainted. This was the first time they had met as Rebecca’s family lives in Alaska.
January 06, 2013 Sunday:
Nine eggs and a gallon and a half of milk.
Halfdan was clearly much sicker when he woke up this morning. He was quite feverish and limp. Becky decided that he needed to see a doctor so Sally and she and Torlief made a run into Rumford to the emergency room. They tested for flu which he didn’t have, and said she should give him more Tylenol and Ibuprophen. Meanwhile Sally and Torleif went grocery shopping and had a lot of fun. Torlief requested broccoli, and said it was all right if Sally bought cauliflower but that she could have his. He also recommended buying plenty of bananas and strawberries. The strawberries proved to be quite a hit. When they got home the little boys ate them all, Halfdan having perked up.
I was just finishing the noon chores when they got back. Willie had spent the entire time they were gone sitting by the gate in the snow, waiting for them to return. Halfdan felt so much better that they were able to play with him in the snow later in the afternoon. It had been quite cold in the morning but warmed up to about 25.
I worked a couple of hours today on my editing. My eyes were feeling better today and not any worse. I am counting on a miracle and expect to get it.
Rebecca made a fine pasta dish using local sausage, my home canned tomatoes and fresh vegetables. The boys ate a lot.
January 07, 2013 Monday:
Nine eggs, over a gallon of milk. It was twenty degrees in the morning and again warmed more later. We had stayed up very late watching the new season of “Downton Abbey” and had trouble waking up and getting out to the barn. The boys however were full of zip. They were very funny, with Halfdan imitating everything Torlief does, to the best of his ability.
After washing the morning dishes, Sally and Rebecca and the boys went to Weld to buy cheese and stamps and to go to DD Marcia’s house at the lake. By then the weather was really lovely. They had a fine walk down the access road. The lake is now frozen over and one party has risked driving his truck onto the ice to set up an ice fishing hut.
January 08, 2013 Tuesday:
It was -10F this morning and doing the barn chores was misery for both Sally and me. She had to drag the hose back up to the house and hang it up by the Aga to thaw. I had a lot of trouble with getting the machine onto Fern because it was so stiff and cold as were my fingers. When there is another day this cold I will summon help from Sally to hold up the claw while I attach it. Fern wasn’t looking forward to the icy machine, I guess. She kept edging away. In addition to these complaints, Sally is coming down with the kids’ cold.
But I am happy to say that Halfdan (20 months) is noticeably better and it’s very charming watching the two boys play together. He did go into a very amusing rage at supper time when his mom took my magnifying glass away from him. He ran through the house pumping his arms. He wanted awfully badly to examine things. I said he could use it at the table with Rebecca present. He then had a fine time observing a ladybug off of one of the house plants. He parted with the glass briefly so that Torleif (4 ½ ) could have a look.
Torleif collected the eggs. He found 9.
Fern gave 1 ½ gallons.
January 09, 2013 Wednesday:
The temperature today was more humane, 10F. Most of the day was in the 20’s. I heard a lot of cackling but found only 5 eggs. Evidently the hens have concealed a nest. Sally says she will search tomorrow in bright daylight.
Sally and Rebecca and the little boys went to Farmington. They said they had fun shopping at the thrift store and Nina’s gourmet shop, and they also got a sandwich at Wicked Gelato.
I chatted for a long time with DD Marcia in California. She’s having trouble with Bertie Wooster, her Seabright cockerel. He is attacking her. I told her of a trick that I learned from Claire (a forum member) which is to take it by the feet and whirl it around.
Sally now has the boys’ cold and has a bit of a sore throat and a headache.
The vacuum pump seems to be letting me down. It took forever to milk and it’s very difficult to get the claw on. We got less than one and a half gallons which I attribute to vacuum problems.
Rebecca made a pumpkin pie from the variety called Winter Luxury that I grew last summer for the first time. I hope I can get the seed again. It is of superb flavor and texture.
January 11, 2013 Friday:
Sally came in from here early barn visit with discouraging news. Fern was back in heat. Sigh. I called for the AI tech and he came about 3pm, good timing for breeding. I had him use the same bull, Alexander. If she does not settle this time I will order a different one nest time.
Rebecca was busy all day packing for travel tomorrow. DS Martin is here and will drive her and the boys to Logan airport in Boston together with Martin and his family. They are taking the same flight to Phoenix.
The milking machine has been sluggish and I felt was not doing a good job. Martin brought it in and dismantled the intake. It had ice and water in it. The parts are now on the Aga drying out.
A big event today was getting the new pork. Max and Mitra brought it all here. We are dividing their largest pig, 262 hanging weight, four ways and storing it here. It sure looks grand. We sorted it all out into separate bags. I plan to do the bacon myself using Fergus Henderson’s dry cure as I have done before.
It will be hard to say goodbye to the Bentzen family tomorrow. I think they had a good time. Halfdan is largely recovered.
January 12, 2013 Saturday:
When I turned on the radio at 5am the first thing I heard was “Watch out for freezing sleet and icy roads everywhere.” Martin is here to drive Rebecca and the boys to Biddeford where they were picking up Martin’s family. They had found they were all on the same flight to Phoenix and so were traveling together. This way the little cousins will have more time together.
Sally made an apple pie for breakfast and we had some primo jowl bacon from the new pork. . They all left a bit early because of the roads but in fact did not report any trouble.
Sally has severe laryngitis but says she feels quite well. So far I am fine.
This evening after an extremely simple dinner we started the salt cure on the two pork bellies. It will take 4 days.
Martin cleaned and dried out the intake valve on my milking machine vacuum pump and it ran well this morning. I got 1 ½ gallons of milk, also 14 eggs. I did not milk until the folks left at 9:30 but Fern forgave me for being late and was on her best behavior apart from making a cow flop when I was all done.
January 13, 2013 Sunday:
Over a gallon and a half of milk, thirteen eggs.
It was overcast and damp most of the day, about 32F. Martin’s dog Milo is staying with us this week and he is doing his best to be cooperative. Martin set up an electronic fence around the periphery so he can go in and out but not run away. He likes to play with Willie.
We heard that my grandson Roger, fourteen year old son of DS Bret in Fairbanks, became lost yesterday when he was downhill skiing and went down the wrong side of a hill. He became disoriented trying to figure out how to get back to base and went the wrong way. He became lost in a vast swampy area. It was dark and he had to abandon his skis when he got stuck in a raspberry thicket. He finally came out on a power line but then turned the wrong direction. He kept walking on the power line and finally came to a musher’s cabin with a musher in it who had a cell phone. We don’t know the whole story but he was gone many hours. It was about 11 pm when he finally called. Meanwhile there was a considerable search going on for him with snow machines, volunteers and search and rescue dogs, but they were hampered by darkness and he turned out to be miles outside the search area.
January 14, 2013 Monday:
Roger was lost for 6.5hrs in the dark hiking in downhill ski boots. Popped out at a musher’s house on Murphy Dome road and called me on a cell phone from there. I spent the day today retrieving his skis. He is one tough kid. It took me almost 4 hours to get his skis back, my knee is inflamed and my hip hurts. Wet boots from breaking through overflow. Two search and rescue guys with a dog tracked him through the swamps. I talked to one on the phone today, who had gps coordinates to his skis, and he said Roger was ‘truckin” through that black spruce and swamp. They had to go around stuff that he went right through. I followed his tracks for a while, and I tell you, I would not want to keep that up for long!
Over a gallon and a half of milk but only four eggs as I didn’t have my light with me to check upstairs. But the weather is warm so the eggs should be ok. The weather was so warm (over 40) that Sally opened the gate from the barn yard so the animals could go out. A bunch of bare patches had appeared in the pasture and the animals wanted to go and try grazing. They seemed to be having a fine time. The sheep were frisking around.
We took a little walk down to the vegetable garden and looked at the fruit trees. Soon it will be time to prune them.
We drove over to Rumford so I could get my flu shot.
Sally talked to her son Raphael who is in the California desert working on the tortoise project again. He said it was pretty boring.
January 15, 2013 Tuesday:
Fourteen eggs, over a gallon and a half of milk.
Seemed like there might be a sheep in heat again.
Sally used the leaf fat to make lard today and made about six pounds. This is the pork fat from around the kidneys. It makes the finest lard. Maybe tomorrow we’ll make up the rest. That will be the back fat. I finished up the dry cure of the bacon; after three days I decided it was plenty ready. We had a little test piece and it tasted pretty good.
The weather was warm again today and Sally and Willie took a walk. They reported that the snow was only a few inches deep over most of the fields. Later on when it was time to bring the sheep in, Sally got a bit mixed up with them and Willie had to be particularly heroic in his sheepherding. Sally told him what a good little dog he was.
Max said that he was looking out his upstairs window and noticed that his cow wasn’t drinking her water, she was just sniffing it. The water was perfectly still and undisturbed; they hadn’t drunk any at all. He went down and realized that there must be electrical current in the water. He had dumped it that morning and scrubbed it out and thinks he must have damaged the heating element. He swapped it out with another tub that they have and Nellie came back and took a big drink but the heifer still wouldn’t risk it.
January 16, 2013 Wednesday:
About a gallon and a half and eight eggs. It was just starting to snow when Sally went out for the early pass, giving the animals their breakfast. By day’s end it had snowed about three inches or so, and stayed about twenty degrees.
We’re still eating leftovers from when Rebecca and the kids were here. Today it was leftover bits of lamb made into a soup with potato and green onion.
Sally caught and dressed off another rooster but there are still quite a few there.
Speaking of roosters, I was mistaken last week when I said Bertie Wooster was a Seabright. Marcia tells me he is an Auracana Summerhill. Next time he flew at her face she caught him and gave him the swinging around treatment. Now when he sees her he goes the other way.
Ted Flagg showed up around eight o’clock to plow the driveway. It’s always fun to see him.
January 18, 2013 Friday:
At daybreak it was -6F and at nightfall was 7F above. There was bright sun. Martin’s dog Milo, doesn’t like the cold. I opened the door for him to go out and halfway out when the cold hit him he doubled back in.
Fern thought it was too cold for milking and I was inclined to agree as by the time I had the stiff cold machine on her my fingers were in pain. She kept edging away and pooped and peed to express her disapproval. She gave less than 1 ½ gallons.
I am getting plenty of eggs.
Max came today and brought me a big round bale and more milk from their cow so I don’t run out. We had a nice visit.
Sally worked on the wheat she planted last spring that we had stored up in the carriage house attic. She beats the stalks in an old pillowcase to get most of the grain off the stalk and then whirrs them in the Cuisinart using the plastic blade. This beats off the chaff. Then she soaks it very briefly in a bowl of water so that the chaff floats and is skimmed off, leaving the good grain at the bottom. Then that is drained and dried. It looks great.
She also made more lard.
January 20, 2013 Sunday:
Saturday morning was down around zero and neither Fern nor I enjoyed milking. She gave less than 1 1/2 gallons.
Sally did not let the sheep in with the cows thus preventing them from getting at the new round bale. It was perched in the hay ring atop the uneaten old hay and she was afraid it might tip over. Also, Milton, the steer, finds the sheep annoying, or perhaps amusing, and chases them around which encourages them to jump into the hay. Fern had all day Saturday to eat her new hay and today she had a lot more milk. It was about one and three-fourths gallons.
Martin is home from Tucson and he came up today to pick up his dog. He did many useful things around here including speeding up my computer, fixing Sally’s virus control, also went to the dump for us, and more. We gave him some good bean soup that I made yesterday.
January 21, 2013 Monday, Martin Luther King Day:
It was six degrees when we got up, went to a high of eighteen but was quite windy and unpleasant. We got nine eggs and nearly one and three quarters gallons of milk.
We let the sheep into the beefer pen today with some reservations about the round bale, but we were not happy about their access to water when in their pen all day where they just have a single bucket. In this cold weather it freezes up quickly. The large bucket in the beefer pen has a heated water tub. The sheep did go right over and drink.
I managed to do some editing today. Sally threshed some more wheat grain and worked on her weaving. We had a lovely dinner of chicken livers from the Luick’s home raised birds. They were sautéed with bacon grease and soy sauce.
When we were coming back from the barn in the morning Willie showed us that there was a fine big box over by the gate, presumably left by the UPS man. Willie was a big help dragging it over to the house. It proved to contain a large screen monitor for my computer so that I can see better. It was sent by DS Bret.
January 22, 2013 Tuesday:
Nine eggs today, one and three fourths gallons of milk. It was about 5 degrees and got up to about 14. We kept the sheep in until about noon, then let them out to play.
Sally and Willie took advantage of a lack of wind in the morning and walked over to her little house. It was looking very good and keeping warm inside. She was glad to see that she still has half a tank of fuel. A couple of months ago someone was helping himself from the tank.
We defrosted some of the new porkchops. I prepared them using a recipe I developed which involves peanut butter and soy sauce. They turned out perfectly and we ate every nibble except for the bones for Willie. Sally made shortcake and we had it with strawberries I had frozen (warmed up in the Aga) and clouds of whipped cream.
January 24, 2013 Thursday:
It is not any colder, it just feels that way. Another day starting around -10 with a high around +5F, mostly sunny but with a biting wind is leaving us all tired, yet reminding ourselves that it is even colder farther north. The cold seems to have become cumulative. It is harder to heat the house and the water system warming box in the barn can’t stay warm. Besides the light left on inside it, Sally puts four ½ gallon jugs of hot water inside it and by evening they are starting to freeze.
The chickens don’t seem cheerful. We got nine eggs again and Fern gave 1 ¾ gallons of milk. Putting the machine on her this morning was no fun. The hoses on the claw are too cold and stiff to flop down as they need to do to close off the vacuum as necessary. Plus the pulsator wasn’t working at first because it had slid out of position. Sally arrived in time to help attach the cups.
Later on Sally cheered us up with a tart made with four kinds of fruit and jam from the fridge and a chocolate biscotti crust using biscotti she found in the freezer (of course I whipped cream again).
January 25, 2013 Friday:
Almost a gallon and a half of milk, and ten eggs. It wasn’t quite as cold, about zero instead of ten below. Sally was having some work done on her little house and had to jump into the car and go see the workmen before milking. They tried to fix the Monitor heater but no luck. Quite disappointing.
Things went a little better in the barn this morning. Fern has been coming in very dirty for no good reason which prolongs the milking occasion.
Abby is flying back to Maine tonight and we look forward to seeing her tomorrow with Mark and Annie. I just received an invitation from Sally Fallon to speak at the November 2013 Wise Traditions conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
January 27, 2013 Sunday:
On Saturday dear Mark and Annie picked up DD Abby from The Hilton where she had stayed overnight after a late flight from CA and drove her here to the farm.
We all had a jolly afternoon followed by a dinner of roast shoulder of lamb. We also baked one of our turban squashes.¬¬ Sally made a blueberry pie. Annie and Mark were not able to stay overnight so the dinner was early. During the afternoon we had a brief visit from Max and Shireen. They brought me some feed.
Mark and Annie installed my new wide screen monitor from Bret. I can now see it much better.
Cold weather continues. It was about zero early this morning but got a bit warmer during the day. We are on the fifth day without our dishwasher. We think something is frozen up in there. Today we had a hairdryer blowing on it for awhile. Tomorrow perhaps we will try it longer. All the animals continue to seem happy though, except the hens are not laying well. I only got five eggs today, and a gallon and a half of milk.
January 28, 2013 Monday:
Slightly warmer today. Sally and Willie got to go for a nice walk in the fields. Sally wore snowshoes though the snow wasn’t that deep. She found that the gate to the main ¬¬field needs to be closed as the snow was deep and crusted enough for the sheep to get over the fence and into the road.
Abby and I went to Rumford grocery shopping, the first time in several weeks. We also stopped at the Free Store and Abby got some new clothes. After we got them home Sally washed everything.
This morning Sally found a dear little hen laying her egg in a vulnerable spot where the cows walk. She closed a gate to close her off and protect her. Later on I found three eggs in that spot.
I collected 10 eggs today and Fern gave over a gallon and a half of milk.
Sally made salmon chowder for our supper and Abby made a fine lettuce and avocado salad.
January 30, 2013 Wednesday:
One and a half gallons of milk this morning and 10 eggs today.
We have had a day of respite from the cold. It reached 40F today. All the frozen surfaces melted and created a vast ice slick between the house and barn. Even Sally agreed to walk with a ski pole. School was called off due to the dangerously slick conditions. The prediction is for the cold to return tomorrow.
Dr. Cooper stopped by at lunch time. Abby whirled around and glorified last night’s leftovers, a chicken dish. She made it into a curry over pasta. She also made a nice lettuce and cucumber salad. There was enough remaining of the custard that I made yesterday and it all went very well.
January 31, 2013 Thursday:
It was forty degrees this morning when we woke up. When Sally went out to the barn she reported that it felt hot outside. About ten o’clock in the morning after we were done with the barn chores Sally heard a great roar of wind and we were struck by a violent storm with wind and rain. Sally ran down to the barn to close the windows and got soaked.
The rain and warm weather still hasn’t gotten rid of all the ice. It is still dangerous walking to the barn.
I’m afraid that Fern is coming in heat again. When I collected the eggs in the afternoon the cows were running around after each other, but I didn’t see any mounting behavior. Abby came down to the barn too and stapled plastic over the windows.
Abby made wonderful almond-walnut cookies, and Sally made a quiche with my new homemade bacon. We ate it while we watched another episode of Pride and Prejudice.
Had a gallon and a half of milk today and eighteen eggs. The increase in eggs is no doubt a result of additional clabber that they are getting.
February 01, 2013 Friday:
We got a little less than a gallon and a half of milk, and ten eggs. Fern was very quiet during milking-we’d been looking for signs of heat and decided she wasn’t in heat after all. But when Sally went out to give them their lunch things were very different. She and Milton were all circling and jumping, unmistakably in heat. We called Nate, my AI tech, but it was too late.
We discovered that Martin and his two kids were coming tonight so we scurried around and made spaghetti. Abby made more cookies.
While waiting for Nate (who didn’t make it) we watched two more episodes of Pride and Prejudice.
When Martin arrived he had a surprise for me, a propane powered generator. Sally had fun reading the instructions.
February 02, 2013 Saturday:
One dozen eggs and a gallon and a half of milk.
I called Nate, my AI tech again this morning and he was already on his way. He arrived while I was still in my bathrobe. Sally had gone off to see the workmen at her house and I saw him wandering around the driveway. I was soon into barn clothes over my pajamas. He came in and suggested a different bull, Epic, an A2A2 bull with a good reputation for fertility. Sally came back and we put Fern into her stanchion. Nate said that she was in perfect condition for breeding. He had a lot less trouble inserting the straw than his colleague who came last time.
Then we heard that Martin would be over in an hour or two to drop off the kids so we raced around cleaning up and then took the opportunity to watch the last episode of Pride and Prejudice, which was wonderful. (Of course it’s the BBC filming with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehel.) Martin never showed up till nearly five and we thought he had surely fallen through the ice.
During the afternoon I was thrilled to get a phone call from Mark saying that he had gotten a wonderful job offer from CMMC (Central Maine Medical Center) in Lewiston.
At five pm, people showed up for a nice family dinner: Max, Mitra, Roshan and Shireen, as well as Martin and his kids, Hannah and Henry. Amy stayed home this weekend. We had braised shoulder of lamb, brown rice pilaf, salad and homegrown Brussels sprouts. Abby made a delicious banana cream pie. Martin brought the wine. We all had a great time. We raised a toast to Mark.
February 03, 2013 Sunday:
We got eleven eggs today and about a gallon and a half of milk. It was back down to zero this morning.
We figure that most likely this time Fern has settled but I am thinking that her due date will be right on top of my trip to Atlanta next November. I guess we’ll figure something out.
Sally and Willie went for a walk around the fields. Most of the snow is gone thanks to all the rain and thaw we had last week. The low places in the fields are frozen ponds from the rain. Martin came over about noon. He had wanted to ice skate but we ladies were otherwise inclined and he’d already taken the kids out at the lake skating this morning. Martin kindly carried on with helpful repairs and problem solving with the various computers here (mine, Sally’s and Abby’s) that keep us linked to the world.
Abby made another batch of cookies, chocolate chip that resemble Florentines.
Sally made bread. She ground flour for it from the wheat I raised last summer. She had threshed just enough recently using the plastic blade on my Cuisinart. It was perfect bread. What a thrill. I have never grown wheat before.
February 06, 2013 Wednesday:
It’s 8:30pm and very cold. A violent wind has come up and Abby has volunteered to go out to the barn and close the outer door to the beefer pen. I helped her to find a cold-proof coat and other gear. Our motion lights are working well so her path is lit.
Yesterday was taken up by a trip to Lewiston to see my eye doctor, Dr. Hamzavi. Abby drove me and all went well. But I didn’t get another darned thing done all day despite closeting myself while the others watched Downton Abbey.
This morning started out with quiet weather and Sally and Willie took a walk all the way to the brook. Sally reported beaver work.
The cold has crept in again behind the dishwasher and frozen the pipes. Sally and Abby have insulated and hung blankets and set up heaters so far to no avail.
February 07, 2013 Thursday:
Abby did not go to bed last night until she had the dishwasher going again. Hurrah!
It was right around zero again this morning. I had failed to bring my boots into the kitchen last night so had to stick my feet into freezing boots. This was a poor start to chores but everything else went well thanks to Fern being a very good little cow and DD Sally doing all the watering and feeding. In the very cold weather it is difficult to get the teat cups on since the little rubber hoses on the machine are so stiff. Sally goes around to the far side of Fern and puts the two on that side on, and then holds them in position until I get the other two in place. Fern gave 1 ½ gallons which seems to be the best she can do as a first calf heifer in her 14thmonth of lactation. This is not quite enough for family needs if I want to make any dairy products.
DS Max came over and brought feed from White Water Farm. I try to get all my feed there because he sells a variety of non GM feeds. We were nearly out of firewood and he split us a lot. We were able to give him some of the good blueberry and apple pie that Abby made last night.
We also had our semi-annual visit from the piano tuner, Gordon Large. He recommended we use the humidifier. He’s going to repair the felts in a place where a mouse had taken up residence.
February 08, 2013 Thursday:
We got a gallon and a half of milk today and a dozen eggs. It was pretty cold again today (10F) and the hoses on the milking machine were again very stiff. Sally again helped with getting the teat cups on Fern .She then filled lots of containers with water as we are supposed to be getting a big snowstorm and may lose power.
We’ve been putting molasses onto the hay in the feeder for the cows and sheep, mostly just for fun. I’m giving Fern about two pounds of grain (COB) each morning and putting wheat germ oil on it, about a quarter of a cup. I also add a handful of kelp and a handful of diatomaceous earth (DE). She also gets about a pint of grain in the evening. She is in good condition. Milton also gets about a pint of COB in the morning and another at night. He’s looking good too.
Abby filled lots of containers in the house too just in case. She also brought in a lot of firewood and made Snickerdoodle cookies from nephew Roger’s recipe.
Sally finished the seed order and worked on an order for floating row cover. These are from Fedco Seeds. We had a lot of seed left from last year and only needed corn and squash. We are hoping the corn seed comes as it is in very short supply nationwide due to the drought.
I made a Swiss steak, a popular back in the 50’s. We had it with mashed potatoes and a tasty cabbage fry that Abby made, and ate in front of the TV where we watched Downton Abbey reruns.
February 09, 2013 Saturday:
The great storm Nemo bore down on Maine last night but concentrated on the southeast regions. The Western Mountains where I live was spared the worst. I don’t think we got more than a foot of snow. There was plenty of wind to rearrange it into pretty good sized drifts, though, and the plow has made the mailbox inaccessible, knocking it sideways. We did not even bother trying to reach it, as the mail lady doesn’t leave the mail if the box is compromised. Ted Flagg came in the afternoon and plowed the driveway in case we need to get out.
In Portland where DS Mark and DIL Annie live, her car was completely buried in snow even inside the parking structure in their building. The snow blew in sideways. DS Martin farther south in Biddeford sent a picture of their back deck that has a 40” railing; the entire deck was filled with snow to the top of the railing. And a picture of Mitra’s cows eating pickled hay during the blizzard which started on Friday.
DIL Mitra also sent a picture from two days ago while the sun still shone. Her cows and poultry were blissfully resting next to the big hay ring which was covered by a big blue tarp. Seeing that tarp was a light bulb moment for Sally and me. Voila! An answer to our endless struggle to keep the sheep from jumping into the hay ring to eat standing on the hay! Sally lost scarcely a moment before tying a blue tarp over our hay ring. So far this appears to have stopped the sheep. Here is the picture of Mitra’s barnyard:
Abby got up at five and lit the fires and let Willie out for a little walk. Evidentially she’s been watching too much Downton Abbey. (Then she went back to bed.) Now she is making a cheesecake with quark that I made yesterday. It will have a peach topping.
We got a gallon and a half of milk and eleven eggs. We found a hen on a new nest but haven’t looked under her yet to see what kind of eggs she has (old or new).
February 11, 2013 Monday:
I climbed up on the hay bales and braved a very fierce little black setting hen. There was only one egg under her and it appeared to have been frozen. She would not leave her nest.
DD Sally took her a little dish of clabber. She was starving and ate every bit. Sally gave her two good eggs. We also gave two eggs each to two other persistently setting hens and have marked the calendar for April 4.
Sally whacked one rooster yesterday and another today. They are so annoying. The poor little hens daren’t leave their perches for fear of being pounced on by six roosters. I do so admire Sally’s willingness to dress off the damned things. One feels like shooting them. Sally points out that they are another farm crop and not to be wasted. If you kill them at the end of summer they are virtually free meat. At this time of year they are all stuffed with expensive feed and are costing me money. Thanks to Sally, I always have a chicken to boil for soup or stock.
Sally put the sheep in their own paddock today and carried them their hay so that the cows could eat alone. The tarp over the hay ring is doing its job of keeping sheep from hopping on top but they still push in wherever the cows are trying to eat and make them very cross.
Sally and Abby were all set to go shop in Farmington today but then we heard from Max that the weather was turning bad. It did indeed start to snow and has not stopped all day.
Feb. 12, 2013 Tuesday:
Twenty above this morning and the milking machine worked much better. We’ve been putting molasses on the hay in the morning after milking and saying “Molasses, Fern” to teach her the word. She has learned very well and comes hurrying to get it. Today we gave the cows the nearly empty bucket and they cleaned it out very well.
We put the sheep in their paddock again.
Abby volunteered to drive to Farmington and Sally went along as her boots were in such bad shape that she was forced to buy new ones. They shopped at a lot of little stores. They met Max and Mitra at the Better Living Center and got some extra milk from them. Farmington is a particularly charming little college town with fine brick commercial buildings and classic New England residential architecture, mostly white clapboard, with shutters. They brought home alfalfa pellets for Fern, and black sunflower seeds for the wild birds. They got home about three o’clock very anxious for their tea.
February 14, 2013 Thursday:
1 ½ gallons of milk & 14 eggs. Temperatures remaining bearable, around 35F. Sally dressed off two roosters that I had caught last night; a huge cauldron of stock now simmers on the stove. Sally & Abby went to town & fetched Northanger Abbey to watch tonight from the Library, and two bags of feed from Towle’s. I went down & watched Sally trim apple trees in the garden. I worked on editing most of the day til we sat down to Abby’s dinner of mini meatballs in gravy over rice & homegrown Brussels sprouts, and for dessert the doughnuts she’d made earlier. Then we treated ourselves to watching the movie.
We heard from DS Bret that Maia’s Samoyed Cecil had come home, after having been gone for 10 days, with the appearance of having caught its foot, possibly, in a trap, and very skinny. This was in Fairbanks & he must have been close to freezing to death. The trappers in Alaska are allowed great license. We think perhaps he had been freed by the trapper at last, as his foot was more or less in one piece.
February 15, 2013 Friday:
We got about 14 eggs today and less than a gallon and a half of milk. This is the third day we’ve been supplementing with alfalfa pellets but haven’t so far seen any increase in the milk supply. Fern loves it though.
We’re continuing to keep the sheep in their separate paddock. Today it was sunny and warm and the sheep were digging through the snow looking for grass. The snow is only a few inches deep. Abby opened the gate so they and the cows could mingle and go out into the south field to see if they could find more grass there.
It got up to around forty degrees and seemed warmer than that in the sun. It was so warm that I knocked the snow off the chaise longue so as to sit in the sun, but instead went down to the garden and watched Sally prune the fruit trees. We agreed on various major pruning decisions. Willie kept his eyes on our progress.
For supper we had leftovers of the Brussels sprouts and meatballs from yesterday. Abby made a delicious coffee flan. We also had little heart shaped red gelatin treats made from organic cherry juice. I made a topping that Sally suggested by whipping cream and adding quark cheese (similar to ricotta) and honey. I will make this again soon as it was fantastic.
February 17, 2013 Sunday:
Yesterday was cloudy and about 20 degrees, not as sunny as the day before. Sally and Willie walked down by the river and saw the first pair of mallards. They flew off. Sally decided to gather seeds from some Northern Spy apples to plant down there, just for fun. The seeds came from Northern Spys that I bought in the fall as they are particularly good pie apples.
Sally and Abby got the big hay ring loose and the waste hay spread around. They also put hay, a few flakes at a time, out the back window of the hay mow to keep Fern happy while she was shut outside. They allowed the sheep to come out and mingle so they could have fun too.
Today Fern gave over a gallon and a half of milk (perhaps reflecting my adding alfalfa pellets to her diet). I got about fifteen eggs. The weather today was cold and blowy and snowy and generally bleak. Abby spent a long time splitting firewood and hauling it up to the house. I managed to get in a couple of hours of editing.
My granddaughter Maia Luick (age 16) in Fairbanks did well at the Academic Decathlon, for which she has been studying with her team ever since August. She won four medals and her team won the State championship. We also heard that my grandson Eli Simmons (age 14), also from Fairbanks, won an Insight award in robotics.
February 18, 2013 Monday:
About a gallon and a half of milk and a dozen eggs. It blew violently all last night and all of today, and it was quite cold too. It was zero when we got up and never got above twenty.
We had an annoying time with the milking machine today. It had pressure but refused to pulsate. We worked on it a long time before figuring out that the pulsator wasn’t seated properly. We had tried to seat it numerous times but somehow hadn’t succeeded. Whenever it won’t work I panic. The problem invariably turns out to be something stupidly simple.
Later, Max came over with alfalfa pellets and cow minerals. He helped us to solve a couple of my current computer dilemmas.
We heard from granddaughter Caiti that her daughter Lily is very ill. The doctor thinks it’s a Norovirus.
When Sally went to bring the sheep in, one ram had a very bloody head. She thinks he had knocked off his little spur of horn. He didn’t seem to mind it.
February 19, 2013 Tuesday:
It was about ten degrees above when we got up and later warmed to twenty five degrees thanks to bright sun. The injured ram appears fine. Two of the ewes seem certainly to be pregnant and we are hopeful about the other two as well.
It was so nice that Sally and Willie went for a walk around the fields. Willie showed great interest in the groundhog hole down in the Pocket Field. Later on they went down again and sprinkled apple seeds around outside the fence of the main field. She dug little holes in the snow and dropped them in. An older resident stopped to chat and was glad to hear what she was doing. He said people aren’t taking care of their apple trees. He also spoke well of the apple tree by the river which he said was a Yellow Transparent. We hope it’s still there as it was very close to the water.
We are cautiously optimistic that Fern’s production will go up in response to the alfalfa pellets. She is getting two quarts a day. So far it hasn’t gone up much but at least it’s stopped going down.
It was so sunny and cheerful outside that Abby and Sally were able to clean out in the buttery and the carriage house. Sally also made another blueberry pie using blueberries that I bought from a neighbor last summer. Abby took another gallon of clabber to the hens who are responding very well- we got about eighteen eggs today.
February 20, 2013 Wednesday:
We got a pint more milk this morning, about one and three fourths gallons. Abby collected the eggs at midday as usual and got about eighteen. Sally killed another two roosters.
It was about thirty degrees in the morning and got up to around forty, under a full sun but a bit of wind. I took a walk around the garden and the snow was very slushy. Sally and Willie walked around in the field but had to come back because it was very hard for Willie to walk. He kept breaking through the crust.
Dr. Cooper stopped by for lunch. We didn’t get to talk much though because my son Martin was on a talk show on the radio. The subject was the climate for business startups in Maine. The panelists all agreed that Maine was the best place in the country to do a startup.
Abby has a new job as a live-in caregiver in Belgrade, Maine. She will be caring for an elderly doctor who has had a stroke. She starts next Monday. There go all our cookies.
Yesterday Sally and Abby were thrilled to get Season Two of Downton Abbey in the mail, a gift from Mitra. They were particularly pleased to get it since Abby has to leave and they wanted to watch it before she goes. We’ll also be able to watch the last episode of the third season together on Sunday night. I’m not watching Season Two which I have already seen- I close the door and do my editing.
February 22, 2013 Friday:
Sixteen eggs and a gallon and a half of milk. We were alert for signs of heat from Fern as it is three weeks since she was bred, but so far nothing except that Milton was bellowing while I was milking.
One of the setting hens was off her nest today so we checked and her eggs had disappeared down a crack in the hay bales. Since she had clearly given up we dismantled the nest. She’d been setting a long time and must have gotten discouraged. The others are doing fine. Also, Sally got word today that her house sitter in Alaska found new baby chicks in her henhouse. She is quite excited.
Martin came to breakfast with his kids Hannah and Henry. They ate up all their scrambled eggs and cheese that their Auntie Abby made them and a lot of milk and toast and jelly as well. They are very nice little kids and have good appetites. We are planning a big family dinner today for them and a friend of theirs. I have an eggplant and corn casserole in the oven, and baked pork chops, all from the farm.
It has been a lovely sunny day. Martin and the kids worked outside on the woodpile, and Sally walked around the fields and found a chrysalis on an apple tree twig. She brought it back with its twig for Abby to identify- she’s very good at that- and then will take it back and tie it to its tree again tomorrow.
Mitra and the girls have gone on a tour of colleges. Sounds like a lot of fun. Max is running the farm by himself. He has not used the milking machine before.
February 23, 2013 Saturday:
So far Fern has not shown any signs of heat but tomorrow will be the 23rdday and she usually has an extended cycle. We are so hoping she settled. Milk production is creeping up to 1 ¾ gallon.
The weather today was supposed to be pretty good but instead it snowed all day. I worried a lot about Mitra and the girls who are still on their college visiting trip. I heard from my son Mark that they had lunch with his daughter Hailey at U Vermont in Burlington. I am sure that was fun. Later I called son Max and learned that the driving was so terrible on Rt.2 that they turned south hoping for better conditions but ended up staying at a hotel in Concord, NH. We were much relieved that they made this decision.
February 25, 2013 Monday:
We got a dozen eggs and a gallon and a half of milk. Sally killed another rooster in the morning before milking. We gave it to Abby to take with her as she had to leave for her new job. She also took milk, eggs and cream. We will miss her and also her great help.
Still no sign of heat from Fern. Hurrah!
Both yesterday and today were beautiful and warm. Martin and Amy stayed an extra day at their camp as the kids were having so much fun. They stopped here in the middle of the day for lunch and then went on back to Biddeford.
Late in the day we heard from Abby who had made it to her new job which sounds somewhat unpromising. It’s a rented house with little furniture and no suitable food.
February 26, 2013 Tuesday:
We got one and a half gallons of milk and eighteen eggs. No sign of heat from Fern so she should be safely in calf. Our favorite little hen, Tiny, has been coming down at the early morning feeding, obviously taking a break from setting eggs. Setting hens scuttle around with their wings drooping away from their body, clucking nervously, gobbling their food and hurrying back to their nest. This evening I found where she was setting. We gave her four little eggs including the one she was on. We figured she has only just started setting it as we have been collecting from that nest every day. She is a tiny bantam, all black, which we rescued a year and a half ago, nearly starved, when she had string around her legs that was cutting off circulation. She became very friendly.
It was pretty warm today and sunny until noon. I got outside a little bit but I missed the sun. We know another big gnarly storm is on the way from the Midwest though.
Abby’s patient hasn’t arrived yet from New York so she was able to go grocery shopping. She is only twenty minutes from Farmington so she can shop there, it’s a very nice little town. She found a comforter for sale at the local thrift shop, just what she wanted, as the place she is living is not very warm. Lots of little birds on the birdfeeder these days, mostly redpolls and chickadees.
February 28, 2013 Thursday:
One dozen eggs today. I suppose I am missing some. I was worried yesterday about Fern’s front left quarter. She was touchy about it and waving her foot around, not at me, at the machine. After I took the machine off I slathered the quarter with wheat germ oil and rubbed cayenne pepper into the oil as a mastitis treatment. Ordinarily I use lard but did not have any in the barn. I tasted the milk from that quarter. So far as I could tell, there is no further cause for worry about mastitis.
Sally caught another rooster and caged him for tomorrow morning.
Abby’s new job is not working out as well as hoped. The old gentleman is in worse physical condition than had been understood.
We got the wonderful news today that Mark has accepted a position at SMMC (Southern Maine Medical Center). He expects to start in July.
Also we got the exciting news that Sally’s daughter Rebecca is expecting #3 in September. Sally’s son Rafe and daughter-in-law to be, also named Sally, have moved their wedding from September to August so that Rebecca and her family can attend (she was asked to preside at the event). Sally has to leave here by mid- April so as to start flowers for this event.
And one more wonderful thing. After six years of renting a cello, a cello that seems to meet every criteria, vetted and played by Roshan’s cello teacher, is for sale. We are pooling our resources to get it for Roshan.
March 01, 2013 Friday:
The weather is holding steady around 32F with cloud cover and occasional snow showers. The snow is too wet and heavy for pleasant walking. Willie-dog doesn’t enjoy it at all. Fern comes in dirty. It is a preview of mud season.
Sally found tracks this morning of a strange cat. It had come into the carriage house. We have been wondering where Stanley’s food had been going. Apparently he has a nightly visitor.
Abby’s job continues to be problematical. The patient was removed to the hospital today for treatment of his bedsores. She will return home tomorrow.
Max came over today with feed and 2 quarts of Nellie’s cream. We are forming a consortium to buy the nice cello for Roshan.
March 02, 2013 Saturday:
About thirty degrees when we got up. No sign of mastitis today and Fern behaved well. We got about sixteen eggs.
All of the setting hens are doing fine. They get up and eat breakfast when Sally comes out and does the early chores, or she goes and gets them. They eat and hurry back.
There is a new nursery in Maine that is selling willows. We are thinking of getting some for stream bank reinforcement, and so that we have more available for the animals to eat. We read a research report a few years ago showing that willows are an antihelminthic (they kill internal parasites). It’s in Liberty, Maine, and is called Frost Family Farm.
Abby came back from her job as her patient is in the hospital. He proved to be sicker than had been understood. He is in the hospital for a few days’ observation. She may have to go back but for now we are very pleased to have her.
Roshan is thrilled with her new cello which they went and picked up today. I can’t wait to hear her play it.
I made a beef and vegetable soup using the bones and scraps from a beef roast we had a few days ago. We also had strawberries and whipped cream using berries I had frozen last summer and Nellie’s cream. Max brought the cream yesterday. We never have much cream from Fern with only 1 ½ gallons a day.
March 03, 2013 Sunday:
The weather continues mild and damp, right around freezing. The roads are good but the driveway is treacherous. We are getting about 1 ½ gallons from Fern. We are beginning to lose track of the number of eggs. The hens are laying with enthusiasm.
Today was the Maine Youth Orchestra concert at Nordica auditorium in Farmington, in which Shireen plays viola. Max came over and picked me up so that I would not have to drive. They played a number of audience friendly pieces including the William Tell Overture. Afterwards we went up to their house and I got to hear Roshan play her new cello. It sounds lovely. I don’t often get the opportunity to hear her play and was impressed by how much she has advanced.
When I got home, Sally was thrilled to announce that the first chick of the season had hatched. The little hen had only been sitting on two eggs, one of which disappeared last week.
March 04, 2013 Monday:
We got a gallon and a half of milk. There was a new nest with fifteen eggs, plus a whole lot more (fourteen). We moved the mother hen with her one chick down into the chick pen. She was very angry and pecked me on the nose. However, she soon settled down with her chick in the new pen and was quite hungry. She got chicken food, clabber and water. The other hen’s eggs haven’t hatched yet.
Abby and Sally went in to Rumford. They got groceries and visited the What-Not Shop and got various second hand things, always fun. They also visited a second hand bookshop that opened about a year ago and has now moved to main street. They got a lot of books mostly to send to Kazakhstan to Gabe.
Mark, Annie and Hailey came today. They are staying for two nights at Martin’s camp. Tonight they are having dinner with Max and Mitra and the girls.
March 06, 2013 Wednesday:
Last night Sally, Abby and I were invited up to camp to join Mark, Annie and Hailey for a lovely meal. Shireen and Roshan drove over from New Sharon to join the party. Mark and Annie cooked a big Luick chicken. They had to cook by candle light as a breaker popped and has to be replaced. But everything was delicious except Sally had made a raspberry pie which we somehow failed to bring. Today on their way out of town they stopped in and ate it.
The weather continues the same. It hangs around the freezing point with occasional snow showers and occasional sun.
Sally’s daughter Rosemary called, she is on her way to Antarctica to be a cook again. She will be there for the Antarctic winter and will return in September.
At the evening barn chores Abby was able to catch one of the two last roosters which we were very pleased about. Sally dressed him off. Young roosters are very pesky. They give the hens no rest. They tear off the hens’ back feathers so they can’t stay warm and they don’t dare come out of the rafter for fear of being molested. Consequently they lay few eggs. Now with the declining number of young roosters we are getting a couple of dozen eggs a day. The three beautiful mature roosters have more dignity and cause no trouble.
The other setting hen still has not hatched out her two eggs. Sally is worrying that she may have moved them during their last two days, which one is not supposed to do.
March 07, 2013 Thursday:
Fern gave 1 ¾ gallons this morning and we got lots of eggs. My little Spangle bantam given me several years ago by Hilda Heinrich died last night in her sleep. She was a pretty old little hen.
It was quite a bit colder today with a brisk wind. Nobody spent much time outdoors.
Abby made more cookies. Sally made bread and a corn and cheese pudding which we had for supper.
March 08, 2013 Friday:
Less than 1 ½ gallons of milk today and only one dozen eggs. Undoubtedly there was a nest I did not find.
The ewes are looking wider all the time. I felt the udders on two of them but there was no bagging up.
Abby and Sally went to town on errands. I stayed home to edit. I need to spend every spare moment on task. They brought home clothes from the free store.
DS John in Australia sent a picture of his son Tom’s new dune buggy. Tom is still wheelchair bound. The buggy has hand controls. He and his mate will be able to go out in the countryside in it, they hope. The thing looks like a moon landing vehicle.
We had some delicious leftovers for dinner and then a banana cream pie that Abby made; it was excellent.
We pulled down a huge wasp nest that was built over the front door this last summer. The door is rarely used and clearly had not been used at all last year. Inside it was a three-tiered pagoda of nest cells, each one bigger than the last- really a quite extraordinary construction.
March 11, 2013 Monday:
Milk production has been down lately, today we got only about a gallon and a quarter. We aren’t sure why that would be. Fern gets all the hay she can eat and lots of other good things, so it doesn’t seem like there is a good reason. She seems to like the apple cider vinegar that we add to her water so we don’t think it’s that. We started adding it when we read an old article in Stockman Grass Farmer about using apple cider vinegar to control internal parasites. We are adding it to the sheep water too.
On the other hand we are getting a lot of eggs, often two dozen a day. They are very pretty too as there are so many different colors and sizes. So far there is one baby chick on the ground and four more expected soon.
One of the sheep is bagging up- Martha/Suzie. None of the other three ewes seems to be ready. It’s very exciting.
Martin came today and took the plow off the truck. He also installed a fine new fluorescent light in the laundry area and is doing some computer tasks for me.
The weather has been wonderful, very warm, everything melting. Sally was able to do some clearing work near the little goldfish pond today. Abby shoveled snow around her little house and did some other work over there. A dove came to the feeder today. Other recent birds have been pigeons, chickadees, hundreds of redpolls, small woodpeckers, and a few others.
March 12, 2013 Tuesday:
We are back up to one and a half gallons from Fern, and sixteen eggs. While I was getting ready to milk Fern, Sally and Willie crossed the field to check the fence. We wanted to be able to let the cows into the North Field as this is their favorite field in the spring. They like to go stand under the pines on the far side and soak up the sun. This morning though it was raining and there was a very heavy fog. When the weather settles we will be able to let them in but the not the sheep.
After chores, Abby and Sally went in to Farmington while I stayed home and worked on my edits. They stopped at a small second hand store and bought a few odds and ends and said they had a fine time. Then they went on to Farmington and hit the secondhand bookstore and did various other errands. They met Max and Mitra and brought Max back to the farm so he could borrow our truck.
On the way home Max got a flat tire. We had a good spare in the truck but no jack or tire tools. He called Mitra and she picked the tools up at a local tire place which was just closing for the day but left the tools outside for her, and went and rescued him.
While the girls were gone, Martin came again and did more work on my computer which has been very slow and troublesome. It is better now.
In the evening we watched the third episode of ‘Emma’. DS Mark has given me a Kindle. I ordered Emma for it and am able to read it!
I roasted one of our farm roosters for dinner but pretty much ruined it by forgetting it in the oven too long.
March 13, 2013 Wednesday:
Today we had a gallon and a half, and about two dozen eggs. Also I found a new nest upstairs in the barn with another two dozen in it. We kept those separate of course.
Last night when we went to do the chores there were two Canada geese in Lake Coburn (that’s the large puddle that forms in the yard every spring). They flew off. Just as we were finishing, three more flew over very low, clearly thinking about landing too.
It was forty degrees early in the morning and warmer later. Sally was able to get some old fencing out from where it was stuck in the snow and took it to where she plans to use it in a fence reinforcement project.
Abby has been spring cleaning like mad. She threw a squash over the deck that hadn’t survived the winter. We thought it was no good but the cows thought otherwise and they ate it right up.
Sally’s daughter Rosemary is on a research/supply ship crossing the strait between Chile and Antarctica, on her way to her winter job cooking at Palmer Station. (It’s heading into winter in the southern hemisphere.) She said that albatrosses are following the ship.
March 15, 2013 Friday:
We got a little less than a gallon and a half of milk, and two dozen eggs. The loft of the barn is simply crawling with hens in the mornings these days, looking for places to hide their eggs.
We are trying to think why the milk should be down. We have thought of various possibilities, such as a drowned mouse in the water tank (no!), or Milton stealing milk (probably no), and are now thinking it is the pulsator on the milking machine. I think it is a little sluggish, with something interfering with the vacuum.
It was quite cold and windy both Thursday and Friday. Nobody wanted to work outside so Sally and Abby did housework. Willie did get his walk each day though.
Today Abby and Sally went into town and did some shopping, with Willie of course. They weren’t gone long. They picked up copier paper and feed and Abby ordered more movies from the library.
I work on my editing whenever I am not eating or sleeping.
March 16, 2013 Saturday:
Today it was about twenty degrees. We got a gallon and a half of milk and about 18 eggs. The milking machine worked much better. I took it apart in the house and looked at it and put it back together. Maybe I got it tighter.
One more sheep seems to be starting to bag up. We called the shearer the other day but are not sure what his plan is.
Nancy Hutchinson came over about 11 am. We had coffee with Abby’s molasses cookies, and then she helped Sally with a project we have going, making a raised bed in the walled garden by the carriage house. That area has a lot of issues with water in the spring and we hope to find that this is effective. I look forward to finally seeing flowers there after years of neglect. Sally is using some of the original 150-year-old maple beams from the carriage house that collapsed a few years ago. The beams were all hand adzed and about 10”x10”. It was interesting to speculate about what the world was like when those trees sprouted.
Sally is about to plant seeds for cream colored marigolds for that area, as well as other flowers. Our mixed heirloom tomato seeds are up and we have sweet peas about to come up too. Abby kept busy cleaning things but she says she didn’t actually do anything. I disagree.
In the afternoon Abby saw a hawk sitting on a ledge above the big barn door, inspecting the chickens. He flew off when he saw her, before he got one.
March 17, 2013 Sunday:
Fern gave a gallon and a half of milk, and I found 20 eggs. We found another new nest and Abby pointed out another setting hen that she had permitted two eggs. We don’t want too many baby chicks this early in the year.
I made sourdough waffles this morning. We had them with sour cream that I had set to culture last night along with various home-made jams and local maple syrup.
Max came over after lunch. He brought us a round bale. He had to work a long time chopping ice and digging with the tractor to get the barn door open as there was so much snow frozen in front of it. Abby raced around organizing the trash which he took to the dump for us. He also cut us a couple more beams for the walled garden.
It was quite cold again today, about ten degrees early in the morning though it warmed up some later, and a bitter wind.
March 19, 2013 Tuesday:
Got nearly a gallon and a half, and about eighteen eggs. Maybe they are hiding a nest. Our Banty hen Tiny (daughter of a hen we got from Bernd Heinrich’s mother Hilda) hatched out four tiny eggs today. The babies are colored some black and some orange. Sally tried to give one to the hen who has been sitting for about five weeks, hoping her eggs would hatch at last. She was happy with it but when Sally tried to move her down to a safe house she got confused and pecked the baby, so we had to put it back with Tiny. Later we moved Tiny and her chicks and they are all doing very well.
The cows aren’t that thrilled with their new round bale. Other bales from the same source have been greeted with more enthusiasm. However, they are eating it.
The sheep are doing fine. One called Suzy is definitely bagging up. I was able to feel her udder last night. It isn’t tight by any means but it felt heavier.
Sally hauled manure down to the fruit trees for awhile today. It was snowing so conditions were just right for the sled. After a while it started snowing and blowing harder and she had to stop. Abby made a run into town for grain for the livestock and movies for us. She said the driving conditions were scary. I was supposed to have gone for an eye appointment today but they called and cancelled as this storm is expected to be quite bad. I am rescheduled for tomorrow but I’m not sure I’ll be able to go then either.
Yesterday Abby made a delicious meal of home reared pork with a cream sauce, served over curly pasta. Today we had it as leftovers with various vegetables added. Sally made a faux mincemeat pie of apples with cranberries and chopped dry fruit. We had it with homemade sour cream, a great success.
March 21, 2013 Thursday:
It snowed hard all day Tuesday. The whole state closed down and my eye appointment was postponed until Wednesday. The driving on Wednesday was OK. Abby drove me. What with nearly an hour and a half each way and 1 ½ hours for the appointment, the day is always consumed. My eyes seem to be in a steady state. I got another shot of Lucentis. I am still tired but this is partly because I have handed over my edited book to Max to work up for the picture insertions. Now I have the blahs.
Sally hauled more manure down to the fruit trees with the cargo sled. She must have hauled 20 loads. Each tree now has a ring of manure around it. Willie trots along behind each load.
I made an interesting observation two days ago on the Spring Equinox. This house is exactly aligned to face the eastern sun on this dry. Upstairs on the first landing the hall banister along the open stair well runs directly back from the east facing window which is above the east facing front door. The sun shines directly in that east window and the bean is exactly along the hand rail.The builders in the early 19th Century when this house was built often aligned houses to match the points of the compass. They must have had a good compass or else awaited the Equinox in order to get this one so perfect.
A weasel took two of the Luick pullets. Max wrote:
I feel considerably more relaxed now that I don’t have weasel stress. Those animals are such mean killing machines. I had to spend considerable time and resources to the priority of stopping it. As with the previous weasel episode, getting a successful shot off was a matter of timing. I happened to be looking out the upstairs window and saw him humping along in his weasely way through the woods and I ran out with my shotgun. The shot was rather long and he instantly disappeared. I discovered he had gone into one of a series of tunnels he had made through the snow to approach the first coop. I began crushing the tunnel by stamping the snow down until the only place left was under a dead spruce partly buried in the snow. I started pulling the tree up until I glimpsed brown fur and fired through the snow and got him. When I examined his rather fat body I saw the only pellet that hit him from the initial shot went through his lower jaw, so even if had somehow escaped, he was done for.
Now we are waiting for Martin and Amy and the kids to get here. They are on the way to camp. I invited them to stop in for chili but we don’t know when to expect them. The rest of us have eaten. I can vouch for this chili.
March 24, 2013 Sunday:
Fern gave a skimpy 1 ½ gallons. We have stopped counting the eggs, there are so many.
The weather is stuck in a holding pattern around 25 to 35 F with some sun.
Last night I went with Martin and family joined by Max and family to hear the Franklin County Fiddlers, a high school group that Max’s girls are in. They performed at the Grange Hall in Weld with about 200 people present. They did a rousing job with mostly Cape Breton style fiddling. Shireen and Roshan play viola and cello. Afterwards we stopped over at Martin and Amy’s camp and walked around on the frozen lake under a brilliant moon. The stars were exceptionally clear and you could see every one, I think. Orion was right in front of us.
Before going to the concert Martin and family joined us for a chicken and rabbit casserole. I made it with a rabbit that Martin shot (not a cottontail) and a farm chicken. Everybody seemed to like it.
Abby and Sally separated the two rams from the pregnant ewes as lambing is coming up. They have the rams in a little side pen in with the cows, next to the ewes’ room. There was a lot of complaining but eventually everyone settled down.
March 25, 2013 Monday:
We only got about a gallon and a quarter of milk, and about 20 eggs. We have three or four setting hens now, each with two eggs. The young chicks are doing well.
When Sally went to the barn the rams had escaped their pen in the beefer pen and were standing on the cow hay. She managed to get them into the sheep yard but later when we put the ewes out the rams squeezed out the gate and rejoined the flock. They are starting to try to butt everyone who comes near and are generally so annoying as to have caused us to decide that we will have to make terminal arrangements. It is sad as we are really very fond of them, alas. They are terribly cute.
Martin and Amy came to lunch. They said they went yesterday to Bowley Brook Maple Syrup Farm. Bowley Brook makes particularly fine maple syrup. Abby cooked them a nice lunch of hamburgers and then they left for Biddeford. We had our hamburgers for dinner later on, and found them excellent.
It was a very fine grey sort of day, well above freezing. The snow is disappearing fast.
My daughter Marcia is moving back from California, we are excited to report. She and my sister Barby started driving today. She will be opening up her camp at Weld. We think they may arrive in a week or so.
Son Bret in Alaska sent a picture of his daughter Maia in her prom gown. She is the prom queen. Son John in Australia sent a picture of his son Tommy in his new dune buggy. It has hand controls.
March 27, 2013 Wednesday:
Yesterday Abby and Sally went to Rumford for her eye appointment but it turned out that her insurance had not kicked in. Abby had already dropped her off and driven away when she discovered this but she knew where Abby was shopping and pelted down the hill for several blocks and caught her. She was at the What Not Shop (thrift store) and they both found treasures.
Fern’s production is dropping and I know one reason is the inflations on the milking machine need replacing. I will do that before I go to bed tonight.
Sally and Abby took a carload of stuff to Marcia’s camp today so that she and Abby Rose and little Violet won’t be sitting on the floor until their stuff arrives. They drove through New Mexico today.
March 28, 2013 Thursday:
Yesterday’s milking was a struggle. I could hear a whistling air leak somewhere. We put in new inflations but it was worse than ever. I found a couple of little apertures in the central casting of the claw and got it to function by holding my fingers over them, Afterwards we discovered that the metal loop by which the claw hangs when not in use had fallen off leaving these little holes. Clearly, it had been getting loose for a while. Sally jammed it back together. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. If it still leaks I will cover the holes with duct tape.
The weather today was moderately warm and very moist.
Abby and Sally assembled items to furnish camp and Abby did a lot more cleaning. Sally checked fences. A man called Sally to see if he might access the river across her field so that he could trap beavers. She said no. They aren’t doing much harm. Marcia and Barby have passed Amarillo TX.
March 29, 2013 Friday:
Fern gave less than 1 ¼ gallons this morning. I held the hanging loop in position to prevent vacuum loss. Sally was hoping this would do it so that we don’t have to relinquish the loop but tomorrow I am going to tape it over. I will contrive a loop from wire or cord. When we get green grass her production will rise but that is at least 6 weeks away.
I made a grand garden tour and admired all the manuring Sally has done around the fruit trees and berry bushes. She was not able to do all of them because so much of the snow has melted that she can’t use the sled.
Abby has been spending many hours doing spring cleaning. Today she made a banana cream pie which was a big success.
March 30, 2013 Saturday:
The milking machine worked like a champ this morning and Fern gave about 2 cups more than yesterday.
The barn is filling up with setting hens. Of those we can find, each had two eggs. No doubt there are more somewhere sitting on a raft of eggs.
Little Hannah – well soon to be 7 – found a natural spring . Martin writes:
It’s in the woods behind our house, maybe 5-600 yards away. I haven’t tried the water yet but I have a filter and will run it through and give it a try. It runs beautifully.
Somebody just shot off their rifle several times down in the field below the river, out front. What does one shoot at night? Sally just walked by & told me how she and all the kids when they were very young, were walking up towards some little tiny lakelet near their house in Haines, AK & shots were fired up through the trees at them. She had the kids hide behind trees & went barreling down the hill screaming obscenities — two guys & a small child were down there and froze with terror when they saw this She-Bear coming out of the trees, bawling in outrage at them — Sally at her finest! (Written by Abby)
That’s my girl!
I went through some water damaged books today that were stored in the carriage house attic, looking for a missing volume. They were terribly moldy and it gave me quite a reaction. I am not ordinarily especially sensitive to mold but these were bad. My face got painful and Sally said I turned red. I am still walking around with handfuls of tissues.
Marcia and Barby were approaching Memphis, TN at noon.
April 01, 2013 Monday:
Yesterday was Easter. We started the proceedings by getting the sheep sheared. Max has to leave soon for work in Montana. We took advantage of the only day both he and Mark Phillips, the shearer, could make it. They got started about 10:30 in the morning after eating hot cross buns that Sally made early in the morning. He took around fifteen minutes per sheep and it all went very well, with the sheep being cooperative and then happy to pop out the back door into the sunshine. Once they were sheared it was possible to see that at least two- the older females, Agnes and Susie, are definitely pregnant but we don’t think they will be ready to lamb for a few weeks yet. We aren’t sure if the two younger ewes (now one year old) are expecting, but think they probably are, but they are well behind.
It was a fine warm day, and all the sheep and cows went out to see if they could find some grazing. Sally is working on the fences so that they will soon be able to go out into the North field which is usually the best in the early spring.
We had an early Easter dinner, with Max’s family and Mark Phillips. Mitra had brought ham and chicken from their own farm, which was delicious. Abby cooked vegetable dishes including an outstanding corn pudding. For dessert there was an apple pie Sally made using the last of some Northern Spy apples that I had bought last fall. They were still in nearly perfect shape. They are a particularly delicious apple .
Today Sally and Abby took a load of stuff to camp. These are preliminary furnishings for Marcia to use while she awaits the arrival of her pod. We expect Marcia and Barby on Wednesday.
April 03, 2013 Wednesday:
It has turned pretty cold again. The last several days have started out in the low twenties and a howling wind. We have been keeping the shorn sheep in until noon at which point they are mad to get out for some exercise. There are at least 2 dozen eggs every day now. Only Fern is not doing too well. She is giving less than 1 ½ gallons. She will improve when we get some grazing. So far I have not seen one trace of new green.
The travelers arrived about 6:30pm. They look very well indeed. I made chicken soup and Sally made a blueberry pie. Abby made cookies and is taking great care of Marcia’s four Chihuahuas.
Our two little families of baby chicks are doing fine. We have another two or three hens who are about to hatch out more, if all goes well. We think the sheep will wait another couple weeks before their babies appear.
April 05, 2013 Friday:
It was twenty degrees in the morning and it felt colder. We got about a gallon and a quarter of milk, and about a dozen and a half of eggs. We think that the hens have found a place to hide their eggs.
Fern was restless during milking; she waved her foot around and got it caught in the machine, kicking it off. I got it put back ok but I think I got less milk because of it.
We didn’t put the sheep out right away because of the cold. They went out about noon. We’ve been letting them run with the cows later in the day so they can go and see if there is anything to eat in the pasture.
Sally has been working on the fences on the north field. Abby has been doing a lot of housework.
Martin and the kids came over about 7 pm. He worked a long time on my computer.
Yesterday (Thursday) Marcia drove to Auburn and picked up her DD Abby Rose and baby Violet. They had been visiting friends and Abby Rose’s sister Caiti in VA.
My sister Barby and I took a stroll around the garden and she spotter the first tip of a daffodil poking up. Everything is still brown.
April 09, 2013 Tuesday:
This morning Mitra tripped while carrying two gallon jars of milk and fell forward into a pile of broken glass, milk and blood.; her palm was slashed. “You never saw so much blood in your life” were her words spoken from the parking lot at RiteAid folowing an ambulance ride to the ER. Fortunately a friend was present who called 911.The tendons to Mitra’s thumb, index, and middle fingers were cut along with various nerves and blood vessels. They stabilized her at the Farmington ER but tomorrow morning she has to go to the hand repair center in Portland to try to get her tendons re-attached and remove more glass. Max is pretty upset. He just started back to work today in MT – arrived in Kalispell this morning. We will of course help her in every way we can.
Pictures from Mitra, one week post surgery, with her new contraption designed to help strengthen the reattached tendons.
Sally has been fencing non stop and has almost completed repairs to the fence on North field. It is not yet sheep proof but is cow proof. She left the gate open for them. There is nothing but last year’s dead grass of course but they like to explore anyway.
April 18, 2013 Thursday:
Long hiatus due to my computer being at the repair shop. It had contracted a virus called Total Dysfunction (or some such thing) (Zero Access was its name) which apparently is transmitted via Adobe updates. Fortunately my sister Barby was here to keep up my spirits.
Shortly after she came we took her to Marcia’s house on Lake Webb for tea and to admire the lake. She and I spent as much time there as possible when we were small, at our grandparents’ camp which is just a few houses down from Marcia’s. She has not seen Lake Webb with ice on it in many years.
Marcia has come here several times to get going on the vegetable garden. It’s been wonderful having her here. The plan is for her to raise vegetables in my main, lower garden, and Abby to raise the corn and squash in what we call the paddock garden, up by the barn. Besides all the flower borders around the house, we also have another garden we have been working on that is in the foundation of an old barn. We call that the walled garden.
On April 14th our Suffolk ewe named Suzie presented us with three lambs. We named them Wynken, Blynken, and Nadia (the first two are males). Unfortunately Suzie didn’t seem able to care for so many and Nadia has ended up as a bottle lamb. However she seems to be taking the raw cow’s milk well and is getting stronger. We nearly lost her several times.
Mitra seems to be doing quite well. Her surgery to reattach the severed parts took three and a half hours; the surgeon said he couldn’t remember a worse cut in his thirty years of surgery. Hard to imagine how he could put so many tiny bits back together. Go Mitra! Her mother Marie should be arriving tomorrow to help out. Until now her daughters and many wonderful friends have been keeping the place going. She is not allowed to use her hand at all for three months.
April 19, 2013 Friday:
A warm and balmy wind blew today. Much garden work was done by Sally, mostly tree planting. She put in two mulberries and many willows.
The two male triplets, Wynken and Blynken, are thriving but Nod is a little weaker than they. We had to separate her from the others because Susie will not let her nurse and she quit trying. Susie just butts her and now she has a bad limp in her right front leg. Abby and Sally are bottle feeding her. She is terribly cute and we think she will live, no doubt to be a great nuisance.
It is granddaughter Abby Rose’s birthday. She and Marcia and little Violet joined us for cake at lunch time.
We are having an unexpected visit from my son Bret. He arrived in Boston to attend scientific meetings (Experimental Biology 2013) and give a poster but due to the tragic bombing events, today’s schedule was cancelled. Martin and Amy and family were in Boston visiting Aunt Anita and were confined indoors for many hours as a result of the generalized lockdown. Mitra’s mom, Marie arrived today to help her. Mitra feels OK so long as she keeps up her pain pills. Her damaged nerves periodically are extremely painful along with the many incisions.
We gave Bret a nice duck dinner. It was a duck that Martin shot last fall.
The cows and sheep eat hay in the morning before going out to try their luck with grazing of which there is really none but they keep hoping.
April 21, 2013 Sunday:
On Saturday we got at least two dozen eggs, today we got three dozen. We keep finding new nests. Fern is giving about a gallon and a quarter a day or more. We’ve been supplementing by buying milk from Mitra. The lamb is getting about five bottles of milk with additional cream each day; about a cup to a cup and a half at a time. Fern is quite interested in her and tries to lick her at every opportunity.
We still haven’t let Suzie and her other two lambs out but plan to tomorrow if it isn’t too cold. We are expecting it to go to the low twenties tonight.
Yesterday Bret popped over to the lake in the early morning to have coffee with Marcia. Then he hung the new hand-gate in the vegetable garden. It is to make it easier to go out into the fields and look at the river. He also went and looked at the stream-bank stabilizations that Sally has been working on, and was quite complimentary. She has tied in old woven-wire fencing along the cut banks and has planted willow cuttings of a kind developed for this use, called “Streamco”.
Then Abby, Bret, Sally and I went to Farmington to see Mitra and her mother. Mitra was looking very well, as was Marie of course. We also did some shopping. Marcia came to dinner later, and we had black-eyed peas, a staple in Brazil which Bret brought with him and ham from Max and Mitra’s pig.
Bret left very early today to do a presentation at the Boston conference which resumed after the lock-down. Marcia did a lot of garden work, Sally worked on fencing the riparian zone, and Abby worked in the house and took care of Nadia who is still limping badly but nonetheless follows and makes attempts at capering.
April 22, 2013 Monday:
It was a good thing that Sally and Abby brought in all the potted plants. It froze pretty hard last night. It was a fine sunny day though. Sally and I walked along the river where I admired her riverbank rescue project firsthand. She has lots of ropes securing downed trees so that instead of floating away they slow erosion. There is also old woven wire fencing laid along the bare bank and tied to nearby trees. I think many of the willow cuttings will grow. We walked almost to Hutchinson Brook. The river is still too high to make it all the way. Had Sally not done this restoration, the river would have cut through to the old meander and I would have lost another acre or more of land. This may still happen, of course. Sally says it needs a lot more work.
Marcia dug over another section of veg garden including cleaning the purple asparagus bed.
Fern and Milton are both in love with Nadia the lamb. They come to the fence and moo to ask for her. She continues to do pretty well and has no signs of illness.
Abby made a quiche for our dinner.
Son Bret reports enthusiasm for his nutrition project from colleagues at his scientific meeting.
April 23, 2013 Tuesday:
It’s getting hard to get the cows or sheep to eat any hay. There isn’t much grazing to speak of but they still prefer it. Sally pitched waste hay and manure into the mud hole that they have to walk through to get into the North Field. We realized that distaste for the mud was keeping them out, and that field has the best grass early on. It seemed to help.
We tried putting Suzie out with her lambs. It went pretty well until one of the rams got too close to the babies and Suzie ended up fighting with him. We had to bring her in for a while to calm things down.
Later on we put her in her box stall so her lambs could play with Nadia without interference from her. Abby spent a lot of time as usual taking care of Nadia. Marcia came and worked in the vegetable garden, and Sally and Willie dog (he likes to supervise) worked on fencing. I went down to the garden and sat for a good long time and watched while Marcia planted turnips, rutabagas, carrots and radishes.
We are considering getting a calf to graft on to Fern. We know she would love that, and I could let the calf do the milking.
We went to town and bought more fencing supplies. It’s not so cold today and is starting to drizzle.
April 24, 2013 Wednesday:
These are pictures of paintings that my granddaughter Caiti did for a bar that is a country western themed joint.
Last night I watched Ken Burns’ Dust Bowl on the TV, the first half. It was striking to me the parallels to the responses to the dust bowl with current events. They seemed just as determined to find technological fixes for an ecological disaster as I observe today. Scientists were urging preventing drought by plowing up more prairie as fast as they could, declaring that the prepared land would bring on rain, “Rain follows the plow”. When the dust began to roar across the plains there were suggestions for stopping it such as coating the plains with sheets of netting or concrete. It reminds me of a current suggestion for reversing ocean acidification by dusting the ocean with iron filings or making high-rises in the middle of our cities into giant gardens that rotate toward the sun.
The lamb got its first bottle of the day at 5 am as usual. Then we give it freedom to run around the barn until we get down there later on to do the milking. It continues to get bottles every three hours or so all day. She got to play with her brothers several times today, as usual. She is still limping but it doesn’t seem to hurt. She frisks around and jumps in the air.
Marcia has gotten lots of beds cleared and planted. It is looking very fine down there. Marcia makes highly professional looking vegetable beds. Sally did a bit of fencing and Abby walked the sheep. She is looking forward to working in the paddock garden but it needs another rototilling first. We have many sprouting potatoes that are longing to get into the ground.
April 25, 2013 Thursday:
It did not freeze last night and was altogether a fine day. Marcia worked in the lower veg garden. Abby spent a lot of time with Nadia the bummer lamb. She is working on a vegetable and flower area in the paddock garden while Nadia grazed next to her.
Nancy Hutchinson came by to help with some things that need doing. She got a pile of firewood off the lawn where it has been all winter and stacked it in the garage. Sally dug in the walled garden. It was very windy and she couldn’t do the brush burning that she wanted to.
Fern’s milk production is going up with the new grass coming on. It was closer to a gallon and a half than it’s been in a long time. We got about two dozen eggs, plus eggs from another new nest.
Our driveway guy, Ted F., came by with some egg boxes and was talking about that the Carthage people are worried that the mill may close. It will have a devastating effect on the local economy if it does.
April 26, 2013 Friday:
It was in the 20’s again last night under a full moon. It warmed up as the day went on and all the animals grazed. Sally set things up so that the bummer lamb, Nadia, spent time playing with her brothers. We hope she can accept the idea that she is a sheep. Mostly Nadia is in a little pen that Abby made.
Sally worked on fencing. I took another tour of the repairs. It is a huge job. Nancy H supervised the burn pile. Sally is trying to get rid of the black locust. Marcia drove to Mitra’s house and fetched our milk. Today was Mitra’s first day back for the outdoor Farmers’ Market of which she is Market Master. It is reopening for the new season. Marcia bought lots of things including miner’s lettuce, a first time product at the market.
April 27, 2013 Saturday:
The sun rose on a clear and cloudless sky. The day remained cool but sunny enough for the gardeners to work in shirtsleeves. DS Martin arrived with the kids around one. DIL Amy stayed in Biddeford where she was serving as volunteer with community group giving tours of the old brick mill. It has many secret passages and relics of an elaborate hydraulic system which formerly powered the mill. At one time it was a Pepperell woolen mill. The mill now has many commercial and residential renters.
Martin helped us move the dresser out of my bedroom. I have given it to granddaughter Abby Rose whose dresser stayed in CA. My tiny room will be less crowded. We later had an impromptu supper at his camp where we were joined by Marcia, Abby Rose and Violet. Henry wanted to dance so Martin put on music. The kids are enthusiastic dancers. Henry in particular was highly animated. He is just getting acquainted with his little cousin Violet who soon shed her shyness and joined in.
The lake was exceptionally beautiful. There was a flat calm reflecting opalescent sky and dark hills.
April 29, 2013 Monday:
The weather on Sunday was warm and lovely. Abby back flushed the spring line in hopes of getting it running but it just gurgled. There must be a break in the line.
Fern’s production is creeping up now almost to 1 1/2 gallons again. She is finding a little grass. The chickens are ranging far and wide.
In the evening Martin went down to our cousin Leavitt’s place and he and Cousin Bill scouted the field for turkeys. They spotted a group. Today at the crack of dawn he was down there with his gun and got two big toms, about 17 pounds, the other 15. Sally dressed them off for him. It took her a long time and she said it was very interesting. They are fine birds.
I had an eye appointment today. I am no worse.
The lamb, Nadia, is growing well. Abby has seen her chewing her cud which is reassuring. She spends part of the day with her brothers.
April 30, 2013 Tuesday:
We can almost say now that the fields are more green than brown. I am able to sit outside on my deck and drink my morning tea. Today while I did this I heard wild geese flying over- it was a pair. We also have barn swallows inspecting our barn. Yesterday I saw a bear cub, presumably with its mother nearby in the trees which were close, about a quarter of a mile from here. Abby says that there are many flickers in the field by her house.
Abby did a lot of work on the flower bed outside the carriage house, and elsewhere. Marcia worked on her beds and reports that she has many seedlings up already. Sally’s tomato and marigold and gloriosa daisies are looking very nice. She has been potting the tomatoes as they were getting crowded and it isn’t time to plant out yet.
Nancy Hutchinson came over and did a lot of yard cleanup. I got out in the garden several times and picked handfuls of lovage and chives, and admired the daffodils which are coming up everywhere.
Abby has been trying to encourage the spring line the last couple of days. She has back-flushed it several times, and today she walked the line for a long ways until she found a break in it, which she fixed. An hour or two later it started to run, which is always a very exciting moment.
Mitra saw the occupational therapist today for the third time since her operation. She seemed to be quite satisfied with her progress, and said that this was a milestone week in a person’s recuperation. We are all very excited for her. She is now putting on comfrey that I had in the freezer. It is pureed comfrey and a bit of water, and she puts it on the fingers where they are exposed. She says it feels very good. She also puts Uddermint on them.
May 01, 2013 Wednesday:
We did get a light frost last night despite the weather report promising mid 30’s. Fortunately Sally had brought in the tomatoes. I think nothing was harmed.
Sally worked mostly in the walled garden which is now divided into a geometric design. She set out a lot of pale marigold seedlings, very healthy looking plants.
Marcia’s vegetable rows are sprouting lots of things like lettuce and turnips. There will soon be asparagus. Wild dandelions are ready now and fiddleheads will be up any day. For the first time ever my forsythia is making a real show. It is blooming with the daffodils and together they are very lovely. In the distance many large trees are blooming, notably the red maple, a showy tree.
Sally and I banded the lambs’ tails.
Sad news: we went up to inspect the spring and found the cap stones around the well disastrously collapsed into the water. I don’t know if it can be rescued or not. Martin is going to see what can be done.
May 03, 2013 Friday:
We had to say goodbye to Sally today. Alaska calls. Her sister Abby drove her to Portland where DS Martin met them and took her to their house for the night. She flies tomorrow to Chicago where she is to meet her DS Gabe who is home from Kazakhstan for a visit. They wills see relatives for a few days and she will return to Haines on the 8th.
She is greatly missed already.
It was warm and sunny all day but frost is again predicted for tonight. Abby and I brought all the potted plants and seedlings in again. Sally has Remay over the little plants in her knot garden.
Abby has a job offer in California and may leave quite soon. That will make it hard to manage the sheep because the two yearling rams are increasingly annoying. I just had this good idea that they can be put in the paddock garden by themselves. Planting that area can be delayed for a month as it is to be corn and squash. It has a good fence and half of the area (where not plowed) is good grass. Now to figure out how to get them in there without a sheep dog.
May 04, 2013 Saturday:
It froze again last night but we had protected everything adequately. We are doing the same tonight. It is a cold dry spring. I can report that the wonderful green is now mounting daily, The evening sun created green gold halos on all the trees.
Abby succeeded in getting the string collars off of the two rams. Sally was worrying about them with good reason. Abby took my sharp sewing scissors out to the paddock, put down a bit of grain, and they did not even notice when she snipped.
So far all we have done about separating the rams from the flock is make plots and plans.
Abby made a nice fork-able dinner that we could eat in front of the TV so as to watch the Kentucky Derby. She has decided not to take the job in CA.
May 06, 2013 Monday:
Yesterday (Sunday, Cinco de Mayo, DD Marcia and GD Abby Rose hosted a lunch for DD Abby and myself and DIL Mitra and her mom Marie and Shireen. Roshan was at her string group at Amy Leblanc’s. Marcia served an elegant version of hamburgers accompanied by roasted squished potatoes in a sauce and roasted blue cheese stuffed beets sprinkled with walnuts caramelized in maple syrup. Both sides were a big hit. Mitra brought a strawberry rhubarb pie. We ate outside. The weather was excellent.
And today, in response to the new grass, Fern broke the 1 ½ gallon barrier by nearly a pint.
Marcia gardened here today. She worked on digging weeds out of the asparagus patch and was rewarded by the first spear. She reported starting her day by making very successful mozzarella with milk from Mitra’s Nellie.
DD Sally called from MI where she is having a fine old time with her DS Gabe and the aunts and uncles.
May 07, 2013 Tuesday:
It has been another day of perfect weather and the world is daily growing more lovely. Fern’s production continues to creep up. If only spring could be bottled for an occasional February tonic for her.
DD Marcia worked in the garden again. All her tiny vegetable seedlings are now up. The predicted low for tonight is 40F. I believe I can safely leave the tomato seedlings outside.
May 08, 2013 Wednesday:
Another very fine day but rain is predicted. DD Abby and DD Marcia took a long hike up through the woods following the spring line. They fixed a break. It was easier this time than last because at Nancy’s suggestion they took along a thermos of hot water to soften the plastic pipe. Unfortunately it was still not possible to get any water from the spring.
May 10, 2013 Friday:
The spell of fine weather had merged into light rain just enough to bring Marcia’s carrots up and not hard enough to damage the apple blossoms. They are just starting. Most years harsh winds do shake the darling buds of May and discourage the pollinators. I hope the dear old tree will bear this year.
My new edition of KFC arrived back today from my publisher, Chelsea Green, the stage which used to be known as page proofs. I am getting brain cramps as I attempt to expand my Word skills to meet the editing and proof reading requirements of the task.
Fern had a touch of mastitis this morning. I could tell as soon as she walked into her stanchion and moved to the far side. I didn’t do anything for her and there was nothing on the filter but tomorrow morning I will apply the lard and cayenne treatment. I picked a bunch of new comfrey for her breakfast also.
Davis Florists brought me a huge bouquet of flowers from “All your sons” What a treat.
DDs Marcia and Abby, signed up for a woods walk for wild edibles conducted by some woods dwelling people over in Temple near Farmington. They learned a lot. I am told. Abby said she would not have gotten much out of it had the sponsors not passed out head nets. Black fly season has started.
May 11, 2013 Saturday:
I gave Fern her comfrey for breakfast and applied the coconut oil and cayenne to her left front quarter but really, she seemed completely recovered today. The milk from that quarter tasted fine. However her production was way down. Martin and family are up for the weekend. He wants to come down tomorrow morning and milk for me so I can have a break. They brought fresh haddock and a piece of fresh tuna which I immediately sliced for sashimi. It was good quality.
Before dinner Martin walked down along the river to look for fiddleheads. He surprised a beaver and it slapped the water hard.
DS Mark treated me to a lunch time visit. He helped me in my struggle to make Word work for me. He also brought me a very bright reading lamp that is going to be a big help.
On her way home, DD Sally met in Chicago with her son Gabe. He now lives in Kazakhstan but traveled home to receive his Ph.D from his school in Bloomington, IL. Gabe is an anthropologist.
DD Marcia worked in the garden for a long time despite intermittent drizzle.
Tonight is Shireen’s Senior Prom. Both she and Roshan have dates. I wish I could see them. Mitra and her mom Marie are hosting a dinner and an overnight and of course breakfast for a group of young people. I can’t wait to hear all about it.
May 12, 2013 Sunday:
DS Martin drove down from camp first thing this morning to milk Fern. Of course I was nervous for fear that problems would arise but he made me stay in the house. Although he is experienced with cows he had not used this machine before. I need not have worried. He was soon back in with the milk. I then demonstrated my washing up system using the shop vac.
Later we convened at Marcia’s camp for one of her exceptional dinners. When planning her dinner Marcia did not know the Grohman’s would be here and only had one rabbit. She fricasseed it in a delicious sauce. The Grohman’s contributed some nice sausages from a shop in Biddeford. There was also a hot pilaf of dark rice, a salad and a bundt cake made with olive oil (an Italian recipe). The occasion was Violet’s second birthday. We wish Mitra and family could have come.
Here is Mitra’s account of last night’s prom festivities, as posted on the KFC forum:
This past Saturday was Prom night and both my girls, a senior and a freshman, went to the Prom. The rule is that you can only go if you are a junior or a senior OR are asked by a junior or senior. My older daughter Shireen went with her friend Silas and my younger daughter Roshan went with her “junior” boyfriend Noah. We had 15 kids over before prom for a sit down dinner. Then they all put on their fancy duds and the picture taking began. We all piled into cars and went to one of their teacher’s houses. Every year he has groups of kids and their parents come to his house for picture taking. He’s an art teacher with a beautiful garden full of his art, including many sculptures. Unfortunately it was pouring rain, so pictures in the garden were not an option BUT he also has a built-in art gallery that he’s added to his house so that’s where the picture taking took place.
The kids then proceeded to the high school where the gym was decorated per their chosen theme of “Night Circus”. The gym had been tastefully transformed into a huge circus tent with billowy white fabric in the shape of a giant circus tent. It was quite amazing. After the prom, all the kids came back to our house and the party continued (well-chaperoned!) until they all passed out at 2:30 a.m. Bunch of light-weights!
I woke Roshan up at 6:30 to go out and milk with me (remember I only have one hand) and when we got back from the barn Shireen got up to process/strain/jar the milk. The other Moms and I then cooked a GIANT farm breakfast of pancakes, maple syrup, bacon, scrambled eggs from 3 dozen eggs, watermelon, and cantaloupe. Not a crumb was left. By noon they were all on their merry way home to spend Mothers’ Day with their own Mommies. When Shireen had asked a few days before what I’d like for Mothers’ Day I said, “All I want is for you two to make it look like the party never happened.” I got exactly what I asked for while I took a much deserved nap on Sunday afternoon 😀
Back at the farm it looks as though Agnes may be lambing tonight. We have her in.
May 15, 2013 Wednesday:
Agnes fooled us again. No new lambs.. The grass is now lush but it remains disappointingly cold. My huge and ancient crabapple tree is in full bloom but I don’t think it has at any time been warm enough for honeybees. I observed a few minor pollinators. Now it is not only cold but raining. Some of the trees have not yet bloomed. Perhaps there is hope for them. We have frost nearly every night. I carry the tomato plants in an out as the weather warrants.
Bret tells me they still have snow on the ground all over Fairbanks. Highly unusual.
Abby found a new home for Nadia, the lamb. A very nice lady with a couple of other lambs and a dairy next door bought her.
May 16, 2013 Thursday:
Fern’s production continues to creep up. It was over 1 ¾ gallons this morning. There is lots of grass.
As of right now, the box of frozen pork we mailed Priority to Sally on Monday had not arrived in Haines. Grrr. Tracking showed it reached Juneau.
Nadia’s new owner is very happy with her, especially because she is so friendly.
I got up early and got lots done. But when I carried the milking equipment into the kitchen to wash I decided to lie down a few minutes first. After about five minutes, with no warning, I became violently nauseated. After an hour or so my stomach settled down but I still don’t feel hungry. I don’t know what brought this on. I am never sick. Abby washed up the equipment and made me some tea.
Marcia worked a long time in the garden.
The weather is slightly warmer.
May 17, 2013 Friday:
Fern gave just a hair under 2 gallons.
The honey bees decided they could wait no longer. Even though it barely reached 60F I saw many on the crab apple tree. They were also busy visiting the dandelion flowers. Nancy changed her plans for mowing so as not to disturb them. There are thousands of dandelions in bloom on the lawn. I picked a quart of them and simmered them in creamy milk to see if I could dissolve out the lutein or astaxanthin for vision support.
I am recovered from my strange illness but am suffering from an affliction I call Giant Hand. If I lie down I feel as though a giant hand is pressing me down and preventing me from arising and doing Useful Things. I did get through another dozen or so pages of editing.
May 18, 2013 Saturday:
This was the evening I wait for all year when the setting sun turns the new grass to an incomparable glowing green. The cows and sheep thought so too. They all looked especially perfect grazing in the evening light.
Petals are beginning to drop from the crabapple. It is lovely as ever but it may be too late for a photo when Marcia gets back to the garden on Monday. The huge old apple out in the pasture is also now in bloom and the lilacs are starting. All the baby chicks are thriving.
May 19, 2013 Sunday:
When Abby went out to close up the barn she found Agnes by herself in the beefer pen with twin lambs that had just hit the ground. She picked up the lambs using wads of hay like potholders and put the little family in the lambing pen. Both lambs were on their feet and appeared to be nursing by the time we left. Agnes is my oldest ewe and knows her job well. No dancing around saying “What am I supposed to do with these things?”
Mitra’s family, Abby and I had a lovely lunch today at Marcia’s camp. She made vegetable paella, very tasty. The weather was cold and windy but I don’t think it will freeze tonight.
May 20, 2013 Monday:
Agnes and her twins are doing well. The little female seemed wobbly this morning but Abby saw her nursing well and we stopped worrying. If the weather tomorrow permits we may let them out for a bit. Agnes sure drinks a lot of water. Besides hay she is getting alfalfa pellets and a bit of grain.
It rained last night, a steady welcome soak. The crabapple tree is dropping her petals and now stands on a dappled white carpet.
The naturalist whose class in woodland foraging Marcia has attended now twice told her something interesting about honey bees. They favor the rich pollen of dandelions above anything and may neglect the apple trees when both are available.
Mitra is helping me with my Herculean editing task and we are both heartily tired of it.
May 21, 2013 Tuesday:
Agnes and her lambs stayed in today. The weather was too cold and wet for lambs. I let Agnes out, she was so determined, but then she would not leave after all.
I had a doctor’s appointment today to meet my new doctor. Her name is Stephanie Youd. She is a nice person. She didn’t find anything the matter with me. My bp was 132 over 85. Abby drove me. On the way home we went to the cemetery and took lilacs for Grammie’s grave. Abby Storey Hooper Sills was born in 1874 at Howe’s Corner, Turner Maine. While in town we picked up mash for the chickens. The baby chicks have trouble with the pellets. Abby had even tried grinding the pellets in the Cuisinart. They loved the mash and ate all they could hold.
Wednesday DD Marcia and I went to Farmington so see an art exhibit from Shireen’s high school class. There was lots of great work including Shireen’s. We were very impressed. Each student artist stood in front of his/her artwork to discuss and answer questions from the public. Here are some pictures from the show (including the backs of mine and Marcia’s heads as we asked Shireen about her work).
May 24, 2013 Friday:
It has rained quite steadily all week and seems likely to continue.
Agnes and her twins are thriving. She hates being stuck in her little pen but she does not like any of the other arrangements Abby has tried for her such as having the sheep paddock to herself, having the sheep paddock plus Susie and her older twins (Susie butted the small lambs) having the paddock plus one of the yearling ewes for company, nor does she like being alone. No doubt once the lambs are reliable at following she can spend her day with the rest of the flock and will like that better.
DS Martin discovered the rest of the flock on the wrong side of the fence along the river. He was unable to shoo them back where they belong. He waited until later when they came home by themselves and went down and repaired the fence.
We had dinner here with the young man from Downeast Magazine who is staying over with Martin and family in Weld so as to be here early on Saturday to do an interview with me.
Martin spent four or more hours at my computer blasting through all of the editing of my manuscript. Now it is sent off to Chelsea Green.
May 26, 2013 Sunday:
Two more days of rain and the river is over its banks across the road.
Some parts of northern New England are getting snow.
Yesterday morning a nice reporter from Downeast magazine was here at milking time to observe my daily routine. He seemed very interested in my story of why I believe cows are so important. Fern behaved herself well. She was her usual sweet self and let down properly. She gave two gallons.
Today went fine until about 9am when I again took sick with a violent gastric upset. It is something environmental, I believe. I was in the attic quite a while yesterday but was not aware of encountering any black mold. Abby made supportive chicken soup and other restorative things. I had to miss DIL Amy’s birthday dinner at the Grohman camp. Such a disappointment. Mitra and family were all there except of course Max who is still in Montana.
I received a call from Selectman Steve Brown inviting me to once again ride in the flivver in tomorrow’s parade. I am counting on being recovered and hope it doesn’t rain
May 27, 2013 Monday, Memorial Day:
My health is recovered and the weather is improved. It is cold but sunny. I rode in the flivver, a 1925 Model T in original condition not restored, just well maintained. It is a lot of fun. Dot Mason and June Turner and I were the passengers. We had heavy lap robes.
Abby tried leaving Agnes and her twin lambs in the paddock tonight with the other sheep but at the last minute she raced up to the gate with her children and wanted to be back in her little pen. So she is.
Fern is within a very few ounces of 2 gallons/day. That’s 18 months into her first lactation on OAD milking with about 3 cups a day of grain. She is bred for November calving.
May 28, 2013 Tuesday:
No rain! Bright sun all day. It started cold and did not get above 60F We all worked outside. DD Marcia picked a large bowl of spruce tips over at DD Sally”s place. They are astonishingly tasty. No wonder the deer eat them. She is planning to make spruce tip jelly. Nancy was here and ran the trimmer for hours.
DD Abby planted potatoes. She planted them in various manure piles. I made almond shortbread. I found a King Arthur recipe that called for ½ lb butter, 2 cups flour, 2 cups almond flour, ¼ cup of powdered sugar, a bit of salt and vanilla and 1 tablespoon of water. Excellent.
All the sheep and the 2 bovines spent the day grazing. They all came in nicely and sorted themselves out to their respective bedrooms with the encouragement of some dabs of grain Abby provides.
Abby shampooed Willie-dog today. He loves his bath.
May 30, 2013 Thursday:
Fern topped 2 gallons this morning.
The weather was warm and spring like with sun and fluffy clouds.
I had a lovely visit from Jack and Ann Lazor. They are Vermont farmers, a large mixed farm with dairy cows, small grains and lots of hay and straw. They market Butterworks Farm yogurt. Jack is writing the introduction to KFC.
May 31, 2013 Friday:
We went from wet and clammy to wilting hot in one day. We’re not used to heat here in Maine. But the plants love it.
Fern is so good. If I am right on time, so is she. She is right at the door at 8 o”clock.
Mitra’s dad, Alex, has now arrived from CA. I hope to greet him soon.
Abby found another hen hatching out a bunch of chicks. We both went right past her for 3 weeks. Half her chicks were hatched, the rest were peeping inside their shells. Abby moved them all to the hen Nursery.
DD Marcia and Abby shopped today and Marcia scored big at a lawn sale. She bought a good tent for guests at the lake.
June 03, 2013 Monday:
After several blistering days today was fine gardening weather. Marcia worked for hours in the garden here.
On Sunday I missed another dinner at Marcia’s due to a gastric upheaval. This is getting tiresome. Dr. Youd is away so Mark arranged for me to see Dr. Doud, also new to Dixfield. Once again my symptoms defied diagnosis. Dr Doud, a highly personable woman of Greek Egyptian parentage, recommended yogurt. I am well recovered today.
Gardening here is now in high gear. The spring peepers continue their nightly chorus. I hope they are feasting on lots of mosquitoes. They are evil this year.
June 04, 2013 Tuesday:
A fine bright day. It did not get above 60F and some parts of the state may get frost. I dearly hope it is not us as Marcia set out the tomatoes yesterday. She was under doctor’s orders to rest today as she is recovering from a brief illness so we did not see her.
Abby worked on digging a new bed near the big rock in the paddock garden. She made a cheesecake with my quark and cream cheese. DS Martin drove up from Biddeford to work on the spring line and get his dock out.
June 05, 2013 Wednesday:
Oh fabjous day, Caloo callay! Martin came and completed the spring line repairs and now we have our spring water back! He also made great progress in removing the manure piles from outside the barn and re-tilled the paddock garden. We could not plant the corn earlier because the soil was too cold and the grass had a huge head start. It is once again a fluffy site awaiting seeds.
Abby found two new huge nests full of eggs.
Nancy did a lot more weed whacking I harvested pigweed /lambs quarters for supper. Martin wanted seconds. Marcia worked a long time in the veg garden. The radishes are coming on fast . I went back to the doctor and had a few skin cancers frozen off by Dr. Doud.
Fern gave two gallons. The weather was very fine.
June 07, 2013 Friday:
It frizzled all day. I believe there are now 11 hens with chicks in the barn, Abby is kept busy looking after them. They have lost very few chicks as all the hens are wonderful mothers. Abby and Marcia both gardened despite the drizzle. Marcia now has all the tomatoes in. Abby planted her little pottage patch and started on planting the corn. I set out the eggplants and picked pigweed for dinner.
June 08, 2013 Saturday:
Fern gave over two gallons today.
The weather was damp and drizzly. The roses are starting to open.
The main event was DS Max and DIL Mitra’s graduation BBQ to celebrate Shireen’s graduation. I didn’t attend the actual ceremony but Abby and I and Marcia and Abby Rose and little Violet all joined the party. Mitra’s parents, Marie and Alex of course were there and DD Abby’s DD Helena and kids and a girlfriend all arrived from Carlisle, PA. The latter are staying at Martin and Amy’s camp on the lake.
When we left I think the large number of young folks were about to start dancing.
Later: The sheep were doing a lot of loud baa-ing especially when Abby came back from visiting her family at camp. She went out with a flashlight and discovered that a big strong healthy lamb lay dead in the beefer pen. It had not gone in earlier with the others. Abby had not noticed it missing when she shut the rest of the sheep in after we got back from the Luick party. It must have been dead already at that time as rigor mortis was advanced. We carried it out and gave it to Agnes, its mother. They have all now quieted down.
June 09, 2013 Sunday:
Fern gave 2 gallons. She was ill behaved.
Agnes the bereaved ewe, was still mourning her lamb this morning. We took the little body away for disposal but she continued to hang around bleating. The young ram stayed nearby and acted threatening towards me . I snarled at him and they both left. I didn’t mean to hurt Agnes’ feelings but did. Big Horn was merely disgruntled.
Helena, Abby’s DD and the kids were here a long time today. They dabbled in the frog pond and collected two baskets of eggs.
June 10, 2013 Monday:
Fine weather. Fern gave 2 gallons and was well behaved.
DD Marcia took me to my eye appointment with Dr. Hamzavi in Lewiston. DS Mark, looking spiffy in his hospital coat, rearranged his schedule so that he could attend my appointment. He stayed the whole time and Dr. Hamzavi explained everything and showed him my eye images, gave a sort of seminar. I did not get the Lucentis shot as there is no longer anything it can do for me nor is there any role for laser treatment. Dr. Hamzavi looked very sad.
This evening we gathered at Marcia’s camp for a lovely dinner. Marcia served the pork roast that DD Sally left for Helena. Helena made her famous carrot cake. This is Helena’s last evening. We enjoyed meeting her friend Joanna who accompanied her on this trip to Maine. After dinner Abby and the children played No Bears Out Tonight out front by the lake.
June 11, 2013 Tuesday:
The rain continues. Fern stood right out in it and wouldn’t come in when I called. I finally had to bribe her with grain. She gave about 2 gallons.
DD Sally writes that her DS Gabe who lives in Kazakhstan may be home for a visit in July. Her DD Rosemary is about to be through with her job in Antarctica and is extending her trip home to include Easter Island.
Marcia set up higher supports for the peas. She used stakes laced with string. I mostly stood by holding the string.
Abby had been complaining about a half grown rooster who has been offering excessive attention to the hens. The big hens mostly fend him off but he molests the setting hens. He is easy to catch so yesterday Abby put him in a cat carrier and released him on Sally’s field across the river, I guess he flew over the high water. He is now upstairs skulking in the hay mow.
Abby’s grandchildren were here several hours today collecting eggs and playing hide and seek in the house. Tonight they go to their other grandparents, the Pulk’s.
For my supper I cooked a large bunch of turnip greens.
June 12, 2013 Wednesday:
Whatever we imagined caused the death of Agnes ewe lamb was clearly incorrect. Her ram lamb was dead this morning. Poor Agnes stayed by him all day, mourning and calling. Even now at 8pm, hearing my feet, she resumed bleating.
Abby and I went to Rumford to shop and I picked a stronger pair of readers. I can see a little better. Fern behaved perfectly this morning.
June 13, 2013 Thursday:
No dramas today. The weather was very fine but the mosquitoes are insane due to dampness and no wind. Marcia and Abby both did a lot of gardening. Abby gave Willie his summer trim.
I received a dauntingly huge questionnaire from Chelsea Green seeking information useful to book promotion. Martin kindly offered to help.
June 14, 2013 Friday:
Mostly fine weather interspersed with a few brief showers. Fern gave 2 gallons. Marcia and Abby continued to perfect their gardens. The mock orange (Philadelphus) is starting to sweetly bloom and a new yellow rose Sally put in. I got the first bloom in four years from my tree peony. It is very double light yellow with rose picotee.
Agnes continues to call each time she sees anybody. I am leaving the sheep free tonight to reduce their time on the half acre paddock.
Martin took me for a survey drive around Sally’s field. The liming it got had made a great improvement. The grass looks the best I have ever seen it.
I made supper for Martin and Amy (meatloaf, roasted potatoes and asparagus) and we took it up to the lake. The evening was wonderfully beautiful.
June 15, 2013 Saturday:
The peonies popped open last night.
The perfect weather and a ride we took over to Sally’s field, inspired Martin who is up for the weekend, to cut some hay. He limed his sister’s field last year and it has responded with nice thick grass.
Amy, Martin, the kids and I had dinner here. I served braised lamb neck bones (scragg end), a superb dish when cooked long enough which this was.
June 16, 2013 Sunday:
Agnes, the ewe that was mother to the twin lambs that died, still has quite a bit of milk. I tried milking her this morning. I didn’t get much but it was evident to me that she could easily be made into a milker. She is easily handled when tied. She just needs to be desensitized with rubbing her udder so she gets used to being handled.
The weather for the first part of the today was good for drying hay. Martin was able to rake and cut yesterday’s hay and by 3 o’clock was baling. We were a small team, just Martin, Amy, Abby and I. I did the easy job, just tipping the bales off the top end of the elevator. By 4:30 it was in the barn. It started to rain the moment the last bale went up the elevator.
DD Marcia hosted a lovely dinner at camp. Martin and Amy had to get home because of the kids’ school but Mitra, Roshan, and Mitra’s parents Marie and Alex and our cousins Holly and Richard were present. Shireen has started her summer job at Kawanhee boys’ camp so we did not see her. Macias made pasta with her machine and served it with a primavera sauce.
June 17, 2013 Monday:
We had alternate rain and sun.
My writing is a struggle. But I got some done. DS Bret and old friend Billie Berten sent me reminders that it was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Pacific Sun newspaper in Marin County, CA. Merril and I founded this paper together. It has now had a couple of different owners but is still going strong.
June 18, 2013 Tuesday:
Abby planted the last of the squashes today. I think she said she had planted nine varieties.
June 20, 2013 Thursday:
Marcia’s salad garden is a thing of beauty. Magazines put gardens like hers on the cover.
We have had two days of perfect weather. Nancy and I walked the electric fence line. The pasture looks lovely with wild flowers among the grass. Nancy took both of the trimmers for repair and they are now working well.
Fern was down a quart today for no reason I could detect.
June 21, 2013 Friday, Summer solstice and Martin’s birthday:
Marcia and I took the day in Farmington. Marcia picked up some furniture for her guest rooms. We were too late for Mitra’s farmer’s market, a disappointment, but we had a good time shopping.
Fern’s production is back up.
Abby’s corn is well up.
June 22, 2013 Saturday:
The weather remains warm and mild reminiscent of New Jersey, “The garden state”. It’s great for growing plants but also suits mosquitoes.
Sister Barby phones to tell me that her son Jon’s family have decided to pass along their recently acquired puppy to her. They live in a 4th floor condo and it wasn’t ideal for a puppy. I feel sure that Barby and the puppy will get along well as she is very much a dog person and has a well fenced yard. The puppy is a very small mixed breed.
Nancy H worked long and hard trimming the grass impinging on the electric fence. Abby gardened for hours and made three loaves of bread. Marcia worked digging over more ground for another raised bed in her flawless veg garden.
Aided by some long distance help from Sally, I worked on my talk.
June 23, 2013 Sunday:
The hot humid weather continues. Things are popping out of the ground.
I started some home grown baking yeast. All it takes is fresh raw milk and flour about 40/60 in favor of milk. In this weather it will be ready by tomorrow.
Abby and I joined Marcia and Abby Rose for dinner. She grilled turkey/shrimp patties with homemade feta. Truly excellent. She also made rhubarb ginger ice cream.
My sister Barby has taken over on the puppy that her son Jon and family recently acquired. Nobody was very happy with the puppy living in a condo I guess. Barby adores the pup, a miniature Schnauzer Australian silkie cross. Never heard of either breed but it is tiny and cute. Barby has a big fenced yard.
June 25, 201 Monday:
My computer wouldn’t work at all this morning. I tried everything and finally in desperation turned it off at the power bar; this worked. When I turned it back on again it behaved itself. Hot weather continues, it got to 88 today and is dripping with humidity. Abby went to a job interview for a caregiver job today, she is still making up her mind whether to accept the position. The garden is growing like crazy and everything looks absolutely beautiful, the flowers and vegetables. All the roses are blooming now, including Fantin Latour which is a little later than the other roses. This is the rose that an overzealous helper cut off at ground level three years ago and it has come back with five foot high canes. I cleared out around a favorite pink peony that was getting strangled. The animals seem to be doing very well in this hot weather. There are a lot of huge mosquitoes but the black flies don’t seem to be too bad this year, or the flies. Fern is giving about two gallons a day and all is going well there.
June 26, 2013 Wednesday:
Tuesday night was the appointed time to take four sheep to the butcher. I re-thought the number which included two ewes, all about 15 months old, and ended up only sending the rams. So far as any of us ignorant shepherds know, the ewes were not bred but I would feel pretty bad to later learn they were pregnant.
I cooked food for a dinner at Martin’s camp for the volunteers taking the two rams to Castonguay, I braised the last two lamb ribs from the freezer and made a batch of brown rice. Amy made a salad using Marcia’s fresh lettuce and Abby made a custard. Brett Shiffren, Martin’s friend and helper, made a layer cake. Before dinner the men, DS Martin, DS Mark and Brett, and kids went swimming. After dinner the men came to the farm and loaded the rams. I took the precaution of running out first to the barn to call in the sheep before they detected the presence of strangers so the sorting and loading went pretty well. The rams were very heavy, maybe 200 lbs each.
Mark spent the night here.
Today I made the depressing discovery that my upright freezer where I expected to store the new meat had quit. Bloody melt water greeted me when I opened the door. This nearly pitched me into clinical depression
It is at least 20 years old and the gasket is shot and the freezing coils have to be propped in position so I doubt it is worth repairing. If we all have to go Medieval I intend to be a good sport about it but I admit I picked up the phone and offered thanks for living in a time and place where I can count on a new one by Friday. I ordered a 15 cu ft as my other freezer is at least as old. I stuffed everything into it for now. All my new strawberries were thawed. Sigh.
Marcia came down to garden but then the sun went in and it rained torrentially for a long time. The mosquitoes remain truly awful.
June 27, 2013 Thursday:
Abby took the dogs for a walk over to her field. It was a wet day and they all had a fine time running around. The dogs went swimming in the river. Milo has been trying to get his courage up to climb up on the couch which he now has done. I don’t think he is allowed on couches at home but this is his vacation. He’s been coming along and putting his chin on the couch to see if I was noticing. No doubt he sees that Willie is allowed on the couch. Martin and family are off to Montana.
The mosquitoes are so awful this year. The cows don’t seem to be too bothered though fortunately.
Abby brought in a fine bouquet of sweet peas which are in bloom now. They are an old-fashioned mixture and very sweet smelling.
I worked on my talk for the Nourishing Traditions conference in Atlanta where I am speaking on November 9th, which I worked out on the calendar is the exact due date for Fern. Today I worked on carbon sequestration.
It rained and drizzled and everything is wet.
June 28, 2013 Friday:
I went to Farmington with Marcia. We stopped at Agway again which has wonderful plants for sale. I bought a Flame elderberry. The leaves are a beautiful lacy chartreuse resembling a Japanese maple and it should have beautiful berries. I also bought a hydrangea with puffy pink flowers. I’ve always wanted a hydrangea. I haven’t decided where to put it. It was raining hard all day and we didn’t need anything at the Farmers’ Market so didn’t get to see Mitra. Marcia was endlessly patient in helping me to buy new sandals.
My new freezer was delivered today. The delivery people were very helpful and took the old freezer out and put the new one in, first finding some pallets to set it on. My cellar floor is often wet.
Fern was saucy acting this morning and production was down about a quart.
June 29, 2013 Saturday:
We had a violent electrical storm that lasted about an hour. Now the sun has emerged brilliantly and all is beautiful. Marcia and I were invited by Lester Averill to pick rhubarb. We picked enough including the leaves to fill three trash bags. I only kept a small amount.
Abby had gone home early. I made some rhubarb sauce and am about to eat some of it.
June 30, 2013 Sunday:
Odd weather today. Alternating sun and showers. Everything is soggy but nonetheless very beautiful. The evening sky was truly extraordinary. The sun came out briefly. The paddock garden is partially under water. Nancy worked for several hours on opening trenches trying to get it to drain.
DD Abby and I went out to Marcia’s for supper on the porch. She served an excellent chicken and rice dish accompanied by foraged greens.
July 01, 2013 Monday:
It rained pretty much all day. Nancy worked a long time trenching in the rain and the water is draining towards the highway culvert as fast as it can but it is not gaining. The garden is now half flooded. The lower garden is wet but has no standing water. Marcia and I spent some time down there in the warm rain picking peas and collards.
July 02, 2013 Tuesday:
Last night it rained again really hard but no electrical storm. It was flooding everything. Yesterday half of the paddock garden was flooded and we did a lot of trenching, and during the night these trenching efforts were rewarded as the water was being led out to the culvert by the road. If you were a little kid you could have floated little boats in it. We’ll hope for the best for Abby’s beautiful potatoes.
Today, Abby and I went for the lamb meat. The dressed weight of the meat from one was eighty pounds and from the other was one hundred and twenty. Both freezers are full now. Dear Granddaughter Shireen came down during her break from work at Kawamhee and carried in the boxes for us.
Abby is getting ready to go trial a new job out in Brunswick, Maine. She will leave Thursday morning.
Every morning on the way back from the barn I check the sunken garden, and today several Rudbeckia were open and also one cream colored marigold. There’s masses of sweet peas too but the rain is very hard on them.
Fern was good today but her production is not staying up, it’s now well below two gallons.
July 03, 2013 Wednesday:
The day started out beautifully sunny though it was still so wet it was still hard to do a lot of things. I raced around getting things done before going to Farmington with Marcia where we met with Mitra and Marie at the Thai restaurant. We had a lovely time socializing with Marie who was the hostess, she and Alex will be leaving in a couple of days for California where their home is, and we hope they’ll be back soon. Then Marcia and I did some shopping and we drove home through the hills, admiring all the beautiful gardens. We stopped at one particular garden which belongs to Marion Hutchinson, the president of the Farmington garden club. Right now her lilies are starting. Marcia bought a nice canoe from her.
About the time we got to Carthage it began to rain again, another tropical downpour.
Fern has gone back to being a good little cow again, she behaved very well at milking.
A mother hen stole her nest somehow in the milking area. I always keep that door closed so she must have flown in the window to lay her eggs. She appeared with eight tiny little babies.
Abby didn’t come with us today because she had to get ready to go to her new job. It’s on a trial basis at first.
Here is an e-mail I got from Mitra tonight titled “Why we have so few eggs”.
Roshan went out to close up the chicken coops at 9:20 tonight. The chickens in the first coop were making a racket and a few were out on the lawn. She came running back to the house to say that there was a big skunk in the coop. I quickly called my neighbor Jeremiah who is a trapper/hunter and who had previously assisted us with our weasel problem. While we waited for him to arrive, Roshan closed the big and little chicken doors to that coop and trapped the skunk in there. She said he was sitting on the floor eating an egg. Jeremiah showed up a few minutes later and opened the doors back up and waited for him to come out and he did. Jeremiah shot him dead in the head but he still had enough instinct or whatever you call it to completely fill the humid air with his skunk spray. Roshan must’ve been standing 100 ft from the coop and she’s covered with skunk spray molecules as am I. I was on the back deck watching the action. She’s in the shower and I’m next! Jeremiah told us that yesterday he shot six skunks living under his shed. YIKES! He said he’ll bury this one with the others. My turn for the shower.
July 05, 2013 Friday:
Fourth of July, it was very hot. I was mostly devoted to helping Abby get ready for her new job and she helped with the morning chores. It must have taken her about an hour and a half to get there. She likes her new job. I collected the eggs and got thirteen. Marcia came down to see Abby off and then she and I went down to the garden which was so soggy that you sink in above your ankles. She has her vegetables all in raised beds. We have masses of greens. I’ll have to freeze some.
Marcia came and got me so I could join them for Fourth of July dinner. We had lamburgers which were very delicious. Everyone agreed it was about the best ground meat you can get. Abby Rose drove us home; we drove the back way around the lake which is a superb view.
This morning, Friday, Lester and Claude Averill and another helper came and delivered a hundred and ninety bales of hay. They arrived while I was in the barn. It was perfectly dry and nice. Claude and Lester are old friends.
Marcia has made twenty three pints of rhubarb sauce and another eleven jars of strawberry jam. I’ve got about seven pints of strawberry jam cooked up and ready to bottle.
DD Marcia set up my bedroom AC unit. What joy. It is 90F and extremely humid. But it has not actually rained all day.
July 06, 2013 Saturday:
Fern’s production is up and down from one day to the next which makes me suspect environmental effects such as heat and bugs. I had Dr. Cooper today to do a pregnancy test and he says she is indeed pregnant. I invited him to lunch. Marcia had given me some of her excellent homemade turkey sausage and we had that for lunch along with black eyed peas and cooked nettles. We had strawberries with honey and cream.
Abby seems to like her new job . Her patient is quite weak though.
Marcia came down today and worked in the garden and then had some lunch with Dr. Cooper and me. We talked a good bit about racehorses. He used to break wild horses as a lad up in Canada back before he was a vet.
July 07, 2013 Sunday:
The weather is hot and humid again, probably it reached ninety again. Thank goodness for my window AC unit, and some fans as well. Marcia came over and did a lot of work in the garden. The mosquitoes are still insane, possibly because of a lack of swallows and bats. We had collards and beet greens and eggplant parmesan cooked by Abby Rose.
Martin arrived about three thirty. He was very tired since his plane was very late because of the plane crash in San Francisco. He took me to the lake to Marcia’s, ate with us and then went swimming with some friends who were there. His dog Milo was glad to see him though he had a good time at the farm while Martin was gone. He got along quite well with Willie, and Willie will no doubt miss him. They loved playing together.
One of the baby chicks got drowned today in the cow water tub. We always have pieces of wood in the tubs but this one had somehow lost its piece. This is a very common problem on farms, and always very sad. We have at least ten different mother hens raising babies around the barn.
I just got a screen on my kitchen door but unfortunately it turns out to not be cat-proof, so I am not sure what I am going to do.
July 08, 2013 Monday:
It rained again last night- not predicted but there it was. The sun came out again about time for it to go down. The humidity is stifling but at least it wasn’t so hot. We got a hanging screen up on the door which worked well other than the fact that Stanley, our sick cat, realized that now he could get into the house.
My two big roosters are missing. They’ve been gone for several days and I’m beginning to think it is permanent. I am very sorry to see them go since they were very beautiful and were important in the flock structure, keeping the young roosters in line.
Nancy was here for a long time yesterday, mowing the lawn. She did a fine job.
Milo has gone home now. Martin stayed overnight at camp and then took him home. He is a good dog. It turned out that the sending unit was unplugged that powers his electronic collar and having already become acquainted with his boundaries, he did not run away..
July 09, 2013 Tuesday:
Marcia was here for an hour or so and came in from the barn with a prodigious number of eggs. She found a nest she hadn’t been checking and a new nest with about twenty in it, of course she kept them all separate. I spent quite a bit of time this morning reading on the computer more about the Marin carbon project. It wasn’t quite as hot as it’s been but the humidity was very high and there wasn’t a breath of air, so the mosquitoes were unbelievably bad. Marcia joined me and cousins Holly and Richard for tea, with Cape Breton oatcakes that they had brought. They also brought me some strawberries and some honey from their bees.
Our missing roosters have reappeared, I’m so pleased.
July 11, 2013 Thursday:
Despair filled me when I looked out this morning and saw steady rain.
Whole sections of the garden are drowning and normal care such as thinning and transplanting are inhibited. Haymaking is at a standstill. Nothing is drying out adaptation to climate change is not straight forward because you can’t tell which extreme to prepare for. Three is plenty of grass but the animals don’t feel like grazing in steady rain.
I am pleased to say it is not quite so hot however the mosquitoes are seriously bad.
Marcia observed and I confirmed: deer are after my favorite apple tree.
July 12, 2013 Friday:
Sunshine all day and not too hot but the mosquitoes are still insane. Marcia came down and helped me out with bill paying and sorting out a medical bill.
I never did manage to see all six sheep at once so can only hope they are all there.
Fern’s production continues to drop.
Marcia’s daughter Caiti and her boyfriend Mark were married today in Las Vegas. They sounded very happy. She is an artist and illustrator and he is a chef. They live in northern Virginia. DD Sally’s son Gabe, who lives in Kazakhstan and his girlfriend Patamaran, who lived in Thailand, are now visiting Sally and Tom in Haines AK. All are busy preparing for her son Rafe and gf SallyB’s wedding August 3.
DD Abby likes her current caregiver job but he patient is very weak.
July 13, 2013 Saturday:
WooHoo, another day without rain. Nancy is mowing the lawn again. A photographer from DownEast is coming here Tuesday. I don’t know when the story will be, perhaps October. Chelsea Green wants to coordinate with the publication of my revision. I now have the page proofs.
Marcia was here for awhile as usual helping out. She has taken over Abby’s chicken care.
The sheep have split into two groups at least part of the time. Susie and her twins go off grazing while Agnes and the two young ewes and old Agnes cool off in the barn. They were all six together by midday.
One of Fern’s quarters did not milk out perfectly and the milk tasted a bit flat. I rubbed her with Uddermint.
I’m alone this evening. I picked some collards and peas and steamed them up for my supper while listening to an old Prairie Home Companion program. I usually hate Keillor’s singing but tonight he and his guest harmonized on old hymns which I do love. They sang Love Lifted Me and others. I know them all but now can’t sing properly anymore.
July 14, 2013 Sunday:
Marcia’s big party with local friends and family was this evening. The weather was perfect at the lake. (Down here at the farm is was pretty hot and muggy. ) Martin took me for a lovely boat ride.
Earlier in the day we got another load of hay, 200 bales from Claude Averill. Mark and Annie and Hailey and Holly and Richard helped get it in along with Martin’s friend Brett.. They were all mighty good sports as I am sure all would rather have been swimming.
Martin started the day by doing the correction needed on my page proofs.
July 16, 2013 Tuesday:
Another boiling hot day in the nineties. Fortunately I have an AC unit in my bedroom and was able to work there. Marcia came down and tidied the house all up in expectation of the photographer from DownEast magazine but she called and rescheduled for next week. I worked a lot on my talk up in my bedroom, writing everything out in longhand on many sheets of paper, using a Sharpie pen. I went down to the garden and picked a lovely variety of various types of vegetables and am making myself a steamed vegetable delight for dinner. The sheep are hanging out under the buttery where it is a bit cooler. I’m thinking of doing a second shearing so they are more comfortable. The mosquitoes are as ravenous as ever, the humidity is up very high. Fern’s production is depressed by the heat and bugs but is still about a gallon and a half. I’ll be drying her off in a month or so.
July 17, 2013 Wednesday:
It was hot as blazes today. Poor Willie looked quite wilted. I put a bale of hay down so the animals could eat inside. Nobody likes to go outside. I am going to see if the sheepshearer is available and get them an extra summer shearing. We’ve been thinking about this for awhile and the weather isn’t getting any cooler. They keep promising cooler weather but I think it is the Chamber of Commerce talking because every day gets hotter. Mosquitoes continue to be a plague and even people who say they aren’t bothered by them are putting on chemicals. So far I have not seen any dragonflies or bats both of which are major mosquito predators.
Sally wrote me about various bear excitements at her house.
Hi! Lots of bear activity around here these days! When I went up to my garden yesterday- carrying bear spray as usual and making noise, but only on autopilot, not thinking about bears at ALL even though I could hear some stick cracking noise up there– I just figured it was the usual Steller jay rattling around noises, they just fledged three young birds… Anyhow, when I was nearly all the way up I stopped to think about a project I had in mind, and realized that a large rock about , I dunno, maybe 40′ away was actually a very large bear standing there looking at me. I looked at her and thought, can she REALLY be that big? And anyway, I could see the blueberry bushes behind her moving I thought, and so I wondered if there was a baby. Then a baby popped up its head and looked at me, very cute, and I decided it was time to go. Slowly of course, and more or less facing them- not totally facing them though, because I am much more paranoid about twisting the tendons in my knee than I am about a bear!
Later on when Gabe and Pattaramon were trying to go up to their cabin the bear was all freaked out about something and kept racing around in an unnerving way. Maybe some creep had been shooting off firecrackers? The next day though, I got a better look at her and realized she was wearing a collar so could only be one of two bears, both of whom are old and canny females and not at all likely to cause unwarranted trouble.
Today I had thrill of watching two young (maybe three years old) bears racing around in circles on the beach, playing tag and pouncing on each other.
Gabe and Patamaron decided not to go up to the cabin at the top of the garden where the bears were but stayed in the little guest house next to the chicken barn. The rooster may have started the day early.
July 18, 2013 Thursday:
We had a microburst of stormy weather which knocked the plants around on the deck. It gave it some rain but did not do much to reduce the heat. It was quite violent thunder and lightning and about three-quarters of an inch of rain. Today is still hot and very muggy. Fern’s milk is not down and it might be because of the hay I put down. Marcia and I went to Farmington and had lots of fun shopping. I splurged and bought somebody’s homemade butter for seven dollars a pound to see how it was. When I got home, Donny Haughton who is doing the brush-hogging on Sally’s field announced that he was done.
July 19, 2013 Friday:
DS Max does not so far have to negotiate with bears but in Montana there are horses:
It was about 95F here today. We had a big horse paddock to sample that had several horses in residence. My co-workers are frightened of any livestock, so I had to demonstrate that they were not dangerous and didn’t really care about us once it was determined we had no horse treats. Except one, who was a very friendly mare that didn’t consider the fence to be an obstacle. She hopped over it like a deer and came around the truck pestering us and trying to eat important paperwork. My co-workers were sort of amazed that I went and got a halter from the barn, put it on this mare and took her back where she was supposed to be. She decided we were jerks after that and left us alone. The horses’ owners were not home at the time. I think that horse does that all the time judging by all the tracks outside the paddock. Probably hops back over the fence when she decides to go home. It wasn’t much of a fence anyway.
July 20, 2013 Saturday:
Kamala’s birthday today.
Another blazing hot day but it cooled off suddenly about five o’clock. There was a cloudburst and it blew things around in the buttery.
The power went off at nine o’clock last night and it was off all night and didn’t go back on until noon. At seven a.m. I called DS Martin to see if he could come here and plug in the generator so I could fill the stock tank and use the milking machine. The generator worked just fine but then the power came on before this noon milking. Martin was also very helpful about getting the cows in as they could see that things were not as usual, and were very suspicious.
I got up about six am and have been going full-time all day- without power there is a lot of extra work. Marcia came down and helped in the barn after lunch. I made Martin a world-class BLT and if Max were here I would make him one too and anybody else who wanted one. I used the first big slicing tomato of the season, not grown here I admit.
DS Bret’s been struggling with his teenagers who are increasingly becoming computer zombies. Finally after weeks of frustration he solved the problem by breaking the modem in half- he gave it tabletop anesthesia. Then he called and cancelled his service, thus bringing his phone bill down to about $20/month total.
July 21, 2013 Sunday – My twins’ (Marcia and Abby) birthdays:
We had a nice dinner party at Marcia’s, with her, Abby Rose, Violet, me, and Mitra, Roshan and Shireen and Santiago. She grilled hamburgers (local meat) and hotdogs on her outdoor grill, and had potato salad. She made molded gelatin for dessert that was very popular. Mitra told me all about a storytelling festival that is going on at the University of Farmington. You could go and listen to people who are semi-professional storytellers. Roshan participated in this and in the evening many storytellers convened at the Thai Restaurant. There was an impromptu program there. Dr. Cooper’s son Michael was there. He is a professional mime and did a wonderful performance about a hike that he took with his father. Roshan recited a poem she had written, and she also recited it and another one for us at our dinner Sunday. She was just excellent.
July 22, 2013 Monday:
The photographer sent by DownEast Magazine arrived about one o’clock with a lot of equipment. She took pictures of me and the animals and the farm, and was here over four hours taking pictures non-stop. Marcia spent many hours cleaning (including the barn) before the woman got here, as did Nancy. It was very still and vaguely overcast, no bright sun, and apparently just the right light for taking pictures. The article is supposed to come out in October. It is my birthday and Amy and the kids came by and brought a carrot cake made by Morning Glory Bakery.
July 23, 2013 Tuesday:
For some reason Ferny was in a snippy mood this morning. Maybe it is because she got extra grain yesterday to get her to come in and cooperate for the photographer. She was up in production by about a quart. I tried very hard to catch up on all the computer demands that I have on me right now. Holly and Richard came over today and brought a lovely bowl of baba ganoush and cake made with fresh blueberries that they picked yesterday when they climbed Bald Mountain. Marcia and Abby Rose came down later in order to collect eggs and to give Violet a little outing.
July 24, 2013 Wednesday:
It cooled off but the mosquitoes were not discouraged. Donny Haughton finished Sally’s field and now has finished bushhogging mine on this side of the river. Martin returned today from giving a talk in Washington D.C . and helped me do a newspaper interview. Marcia bought lobsters for belated birthday dinner for herself and me. She also bought locally grown corn on the cob and I made an almond pound cake. These lobsters were about as good as they could possibly be – just were excellent lobsters. We bought them at the Surrey fish shop in Dixfield. They have a lunchroom there too. We brought home the menu, which is also a take-out menu. We had some lovely ripe red Bing cherries that Barby had shipped from Oregon.
July 25, 2013 Thursday:
It continues to be pleasant temperatures. Fern’s production continues to be steady or a bit higher. She is able to go out a lot to graze. The mosquitoes do not seem to bother cows as much as people and even her udder seems to be in pretty good shape. They prefer to go out and I only put hay down when they don’t want to go out because of excessive heat or torrential rain. With all the brush-hogging going on, the cows and sheep are eating the chopped-down grass. Marcia is down in the garden thinning the rutabagas. Martin and his family are climbing Bald Mountain today and picking lots of blueberries. Nancy planted my red elderberry and lacy hydrangea today. She put the elderberry in with the other elderberries and the hydrangea is over by the paddock gate.
July 26, 2013 Friday:
It is evening now. Willie and I just stood out on the deck and admired the pasture. Seeing it all mowed is a beautiful sight. From the deck I can see all three areas. They lie in a cloverleaf arrangement, North Field, Pocket Field and River Field which I sometimes call South field. They are all surrounded by lovely trees. After three decades of grazing and mowing, the grass is now dominant. There is far less goldenrod, milkweed and Canadian thistle. The animals are all inside the barn now chewing their cuds. As usual, the sheep have crammed themselves into the hay ring making it into a nest. A gentle rain is falling, what I call a Scotch mist.
July 28, 2013 Sunday:
Yesterday, Saturday, the weather was superb for every activity. It was Heritage Day in Weld. Holly and Richard, my cousins, attended, and brought good reports of friends and neighbors. They also brought me a box of blueberries. In the evening I had supper with Martin and Mark and friends by the lake..
After dinner Mark drove me home and Martin and his friend Brett went up the hill to Brett’s place and dressed off three hens that were trouble makers.
This morning I was greeted by a stone cold Aga, not good news with DS John and DIL Lou on their way here form Australia. I made a fire in the fireplace, which has a crane, and had water boiling for tea in about 10 minutes. I managed to get through to the gas company who sent a man out. He connected up an emergency bottle and restarted the Aga. Later after a lovely dinner with Marcia, Martin dropped me off here at the farm only to discover the Aga was out again. He worked on it for hours to no avail. He consulted on the phone with DS Bret who has an Aga at his home in Alaska. We think the replacement tank either leaked or had little in it. The rest of his family had gone on ahead. He had decided to stay over another night at camp rather than driving back to Biddeford so late.
Mitra was unable to join us for dinner at Marcia’s because of a leaky water pipe emergency. I have not heard details but it was probably worse than my problem.
Max has had another animal adventure:
On Friday we were working at a property where the woman had a very attentive black cat who followed us around and supervised everything. Eventually it went off to do other catish things and we finished up and left.
Back at the office I was getting some stuff from the truck when the cat emerged, yawning, from some gear behind the seats. So, we drove back out there and delivered him home to his worried lady. He was entirely unconcerned and ignored her scoldings while he hopped out of the truck and checked his rear fur for fleas.
Apparently, it’s not the first time he has gone on such an adventure. He stood on the center console looking ahead while we drove him home, probably so he would know where to go next time.
July 29, 2013 Monday:
It started off with low clouds and no sun, but it cleared and got beautifully sunny and then went into a series of thunderstorms and rain. There was a beautiful rainbow. In the morning Nancy came over and did some important cleaning for me. Marcia came over and went to Dixfield to buy feed. Martin stayed over last night in order to do more work on the Aga. He got the manure spreader functional and added manure and lime, and it worked perfectly. It’s an old fashioned box spreader, ground driven. He’s spent quite a bit of time and money on it, and having it working is a great thrill.
The Amerigas technician showed up about one thirty. He worked on the Aga with Martin for a couple of hours and said that the regulator is not functioning properly. He got it to go but he says it probably won’t stay going. The burner will have to be sent off to the fixit shop but I am hoping it will stay going until my daughter in law Lou leaves.
I put a rooster into the oven so John and Lou will have something to eat when they get here. John called Marcia from San Francisco this afternoon. They were about to board their flight to Boston. I have also made a pound cake with my Guidepost recipe. Martin left about four o’clock.
Nancy has been very offended by the spider proliferation in the buttery. She is vacuuming them up.
Barby ordered some peaches sent to us and we are greatly enjoying them.
August 01, 2013 Thursday:
Three days in a row of perfect weather.
DS John and DIL Lou arrived in Portland Tuesday morning having taken the bus from Boston. Marcia picked them up. They arrived here about noon looking remarkably fresh. Wednesday morning John job shadowed me in the barn and today insisted that I did not need to come to the barn at all. He used to milk at our farm in England, Lattenden Farm. He did fine without me. Fern didn’t miss a beat. John and Lou went out today and bought me a stall shower so that I will not have to stand in the old claw foot porcelain tub to shower. He has installed showers before. David, Mitra’s brother has arrived but I have not seen him yet. He and Mitra and the girls will be over on Sunday to Marcia’s.
The sheep have taken to grazing here and there and not staying as a flock. Several days passed without my being able to count six at once but today Marcia managed to do so. Their demeanor has been perfectly calm so I was pretty sure that nothing was amiss.’
August 02, 2013 Friday:
At this morning’s milking, John got mobbed by the sheep. I had not fully explained how to avoid this or perhaps I gave him too many instructions at once. When he went to let Fern in they rushed him and one jumped right over him. He is no longer advocating for sheep. Other than that, his milking skills are perfect.
We all went out to Martin’s camp at supper time and were invited out for a ride on the neighbor’s party boat. He took us up to view the eagles’ nest. The eagles put on a fine display of wading at the water’s edge and flying about and generally posing.
August 03, 2013 Saturday, Wedding Day of Grandson Rafe McGuire and Sally Boisvert:
Pre planning enabled DS John to manage the sheep this morning and Fern let down well.
Sally called at 6am Alaska time and told me of the masses of flowers she had grown and cut for the wedding. I am hoping for many pictures of the celebration.
John and DIL Lou drove down to Brunswick to visit DD Abby. They went to lunch and to a flea market. The weather was excellent. All reported having a good time. When they got home I fed them beans and bread pudding.
August 04, 2013 Sunday:
John got on well with the sheep this morning and also fine with Fern. She is letting down perfectly for him.
There was one cloudburst today otherwise the weather was excellent. DD Sally called to tell about Rafe and SallyB’s wedding. They were married at 10 am on a beautiful Alaskan promontory with about 20 in attendance. Friends and family then gathered at their home to set up the dining tent and prepare for 100 guests. My grandson Harper, Marcia’s son, catered a sit down dinner for the guests. The menu was varied and imaginative with meats smoked by Harper, a home grown and cured ham and another of bear meat and many handmade sausages. The latter had to be rescued by Harper with his bare hands when Rafe’s smoker caught fire. There was also king salmon caught the previous day which DD Sally said was a about the best thing she ever ate. There were vegetable shish kabobs sourced from SallyB’s large garden and wedding cakes made by DD Sally’s daughter Rebecca.
Later there was dancing with music provided by friends, for square dancing.
Back here at in Maine, DD Marcia hosted a large party of friends and relatives. DIL Lou made a fine Philippine adobo, Marcia made great chili, Mitra brought one of her home grown chickens roasted, and there was lots of other great food. Roshan played a Bach unaccompanied partita for us on her cello.
Earlier in the day, Lou found a lot of apples from a tree that I did not even realize was bearing and she and I made applesauce.
August 05, 2013 Monday:
The cows were not waiting for John this morning. The weather was beautiful so he enjoyed his tour of the pasture looking for them. He saw two does bedded down in the draw. When he located the cows they were near the house in the sheep paddock. Mark and Annie, David Eskandari and Roshan climbed Tumbledown.
Lou and I picked more apples and made a couple of gallons of applesauce. Lou did nearly all the work.
John worked all day on shower installation and now Lou has taken a shower, John is in there now and I will take my turn last. What a treat awaits me.
August 06, 2013 Tuesday:
John reported that Fern and Milton were perfectly behaved, the sheep not so much. It was chilly this morning, maybe 45F, but later warmed up and was clear and fine. Neighbor Ruth Snell came by with freshly picked blueberries. I took all she had, ten quarts.
John and Lou went to Rumford on errands. When they got back I greeted John with the news that my computer screen had gone black, a desperate occasion. John did all the things he could think of while I prayed. Something worked and I am back in business but there have now been a number of ill portents with this 8 year old computer.
Lou made a delicious lamb curry for dinner.
Marcia called to say that her DD Caiti had arrived. A party is planned to celebrate Caiti’s marriage a few weeks ago to Mark M. .
DS Bret called. He and the kids should be here tomorrow night.
August 9, 2013 Friday:
Today was the day for John to take Lou to the airport. He got up and milked Fern as he has every day since coming here. Fern accepts him as though she’d known him all her life. Then he and Lou had to leave as Lou is going to California for a week. He mounted a little cow on my mailbox.
Today Bret’s kids Maia and Roger got up and had fun running around the farm. Shireen brought Roshan here about three o’clock. They ate a huge breakfast at mid-day and cooked and ate a huge dinner later on. It rained all last night and all today. Shireen had to go to work after dinner. I went and picked vegetables in the garden. I got carrots and radishes.
We got word that Abby went to see an optometrist in Brunswick where she is, and that optometrist said that she does not have macular degeneration, as she had been told. We are all so excited about this. She has been very careful to take many antioxidants that are recommended for this condition, and we believe they are having this fine effect.
Poor Willie is having to stay outside because he is such a mess, poor little dog. We hope to get him cleaned up soon.
August 13, 2013Tuesday:
John milked Fern this morning. He said Fern was her usual beautifully behaved self. He used to do the milking for us when we had a dairy in England. I was glad to see that we did not lose any animals during the night- coyotes have been reported in the neighborhood. Gertrude Bowie reported them, she lives up the trotting track.
The weather was fine all day, beautiful weather. John and Martin and Harper worked on the project of jacking up Marcia’s front porch- it’s a very large porch and has been subsiding badly for years, but we have been getting more worried about it lately. It’s no longer so noticeably off, but needs more work.
I stayed home all day and all the kids have gone somewhere else now. Shireen is done working at Kawanhee and she drove Maia over to Farmington where they will see a movie and spend the night. Roger and Eli went to camp for a while and had dinner there. The girls on their way to Farmington dropped Roger here and Harper and Jen kept Eli there.
I had people coming and going all day long. I agreed to do a radio interview with Michael Olsen who does a sustainable living radio program out West. The interview will be on Saturday. (interview postponed ‘til September 7, 2013)
Everybody except John and me had dinner at Marcia’s. I gave John a lovely ham steak that I had been saving for a nice occasion, which John is.
August 16, 2013 Friday:
It’s been a very busy couple of days. Bret has returned from Oregon and Harper had to leave again on Wednesday to meet with other scientists at Woods Hole. John has finished an impressive new project with creating two cement pads. One is for the car to drive into the carriage house, it’s the first of three four-foot-wide panels of cement to be laid there. He did a very professional looking job. He also made a smaller cement pad in front of the barn door where we go in and out. These will greatly reduce the tracking of gravel. He also has repaired and rehung the access door on the barn. Harper’s wife Jen picked up about ten pounds of crabapples for Harper to make crabapple jelly. She got them off my big crabapple tree. Yesterday Bret made a very fine curry using one of my legs of lamb. He used my fine large book called “Meat’.
Three days ago another hen emerged with seven baby chicks. She is not a very good mother, maybe it was her first try, and did not take very good care of the chicks and now they are all gone. This is very unusual with my hens. We don’t know what happened to them. When John went out to milk the cow for me he said she was there without her chicks.
We haven’t heard anything more of the coyotes.
Mitra is about to come back from California- she was out there for a wedding- Her seriously damaged hand is recovering remarkably well thanks to her extremely skilled surgery and her dedication to her therapy. And of course we also give credit to her enlightened diet including raw milk.
We had a lovely four hour visit today from DD Abby. She is looking very well.
August 17, 2013 Sunday:
On Saturday John did the milking for the last time. I will miss him for that reason plus many others. He instituted a number of conveniences and improvements to the system especially creating new cement ramps with packed gravel access. He also changed the hinges on the barn door so it behaves a lot better. It’s now hung from the door post instead of from the old flappy main door. John finished up a lot of his projects including replacing the lock on my primary door in which we were investing undeserved confidence. Bret drove John to the train at 4:30. He should be in California by now.
This morning is another bright clear morning. The kids are staying over at Max and Mitra’s. I resumed my milking schedule this morning, enjoying the benefits of John’s improvements. Bret is racing around, he went to the hardware store to get parts for the sink. Right now he has gone up to go play tennis with Marcia at the public court in Weld.
In the evening after another fine dinner at Marcia’s featuring Max and Mitra’s roasted pork, Marcia brought out badminton racquets she had picked up at the transfer station. There were no birdies. I suggested pine cones which flew OK but were too dark to see. Bret then sent to the cupboard for marshmallows. These proved to be a great substitute and the kids played until dark. No doubt the squirrels had a marshmallow party later on.
August 21, 2013Wednesday:
I forgot to mention that Martin made some lovely second-cut hay on Sunday on Sally’s field. He had mowed it the day before. It is particularly nice hay; he thinks it is the best hay we have ever made here. Also, on Monday I had trouble with the sheep, they got into the chicken room. All six of them were packed into this little room, it was a mass of heaving wool I had my shepherds crook with me and managed to whang it on the heads of the little ones and they left the room, but the two old ewes were immune to being whanged with a shepherd’s crook. They were just gobbling chicken grain as fast as they could. It was WOB (wheat, oats, barley), not the usual COB because my feed store can’t get any corn that’s not GM. I finally had to come back to the house and ask for Bret’s help in getting them out, and he came as soon as he could but they certainly had ten minutes of gobbling grain. However, they were fine and didn’t bloat. It’s all whole grain with just a little molasses.
Yesterday I had a half-cord of wood delivered and the kids stacked it neatly. I joined people for supper out at the lake. Marcia made some delicious dishes with the rest of the pork from Sunday. We are in a spell of superb Maine weather and the garden is producing vegetables faster than we can use them. I picked two gallons of elderberries, it is a huge crop this year.
August 23, 2013 Friday:
Fern came in nicely this morning but the sheep were nowhere to be seen. This often happens.
DS John and Lou are safely home in Adelaide and his boys home from visiting their property in Tasmania but no word yet from Bret and family. Max left today to return to his job in Montana.
The weather now is excellent but I took down the screen door too soon, the house is full of flies.
August 25, 2013 Sunday:
Sally McD arrived last night for a visit. She brought her hurries trailer containing Jasmine, my former cow. Jasmine merged seamlessly with the other bovines and her former routine. She is Fern’s mother. Sally McD arrived during the wee hours and said she heard lots of coyotes. I hope Sally’s Great Pyr who came with her will scare them away.
Martin was here for a while and adjusted the water temp on my hot water heater.
August 26, 2013 Monday:
Sally McD’s visit was brief. She left this afternoon taking Jasmine, mother of Fern. Fern called loudly for her mother the rest of the afternoon. Cows make strong bonds.
August 27, 2013 Tuesday:
The weather was hot and muggy.
I did not milk this morning. It is the start of drying off Fern.
Marcia discovered a new weakness of the fence around the veg garden, the result of cows leaning over. Nancy came and fixed it.
There are now lots of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash.
No word from Sally McD yet.
August 28, 2013 Wednesday:
A bit of rain today, just enough to save us watering.
The social worker from vision services came for my appointment. Holly and Richard also came and Richard brought his signature blueberry buckle, a treat. Marcia stopped in as always and did all the chicken tasks. Then Kelly came and lent me an astonishing device which captures the printed page and reads it back to you. It will take a bit of practice.
August 29, 2013 Thursday:
George L is here affixing a climate control system to the piano.
Yesterday I couldn’t check Fern’s udder because she wouldn’t let me get near her. I don’t know what she thought I was going to do, but she’s been offish ever since Sally McD’s visit. She was distraught when Sally McD took Jasmine (her mother) away again. She bellowed all the rest of the day. Cows make strong and lasting bonds. We wonder what poor Jasmine felt- she was most reluctant to load up and be taken away again.
This morning I went out early and closed barn doors so Fern would be available to milk should I decide that was necessary. I got her in and did what will be her last milking on this lactation. She gave only a quart more than her usual amount so is already starting to dry herself off.
It’s raining today- a soft persistent drizzle which will save us from having to water the garden.
August 30, 2013 Friday:
Marcia and I went to Farmington for supplies and to pick up milk from Mitra. .We did not see her as she was taking Shireen to college at the University of Maine in Orono.
Here is her account of the trip:
As we drove into the quaint college town of Orono, the drive to the campus took us past a row of large and stately fraternity houses. A group of guys were camped out on lawn chairs next to the road in front of one of the fraternity houses, with a sign that said, “You Honk, We Drink”. We did not honk but others were only too happy to oblige these fraternity boys. Oh peachy!
Then we crossed a bridge over the lovely Penobscot River. The bridge was totally decked out in the school colors (blue and white) with streamers and balloons and a huge number of students with signs that said, “Honk if you’re a Black Bear”. As I had a freshman Black Bear on board, we honked!
When we pulled up to her dorm, a team of 10-15 students advanced on the car, unloaded EVERYTHING and carried it all up to Shireen’s third floor dorm room. Woohoo!!! I never had such service at Davis! Then we proceeded to unpack her NINE large plastic contractor bags into her closet and chest of drawers. Those were in addition to bags and boxes of other “most important” things. Amazingly, it all fit and she was the one who got to say, “I told you so.”
Her good friends from Mt. Blue HS, Ruth and Abby, are also in the Honors program/dorm and they were diligently unpacking their things in their second floor dorm rooms. Everyone, including Shireen’s roommate, was done with unpacking before she was. I liked her roommate, Moriah, immediately. How could I not? She was sweet and had a wild mass of long blond dreads
Roshan and I helped Shireen make her bed and then I started hanging things in the closet while Shireen tackled the dresser drawers. By the time we were done, Shireen’s friends AND their parents were all jammed into Shireen’s side of the room pressing her to HURRY UP because all were starving. Finally we were done and off we went to a great Burrito shop called VERVE for lunch.
Later, Roshan and I drove home, satisfied that Shireen was happy and well-equipped for her new life adventure. We were a little sad but mostly happy for her. She looked really ready for this! Since she was away ALL summer, working in the kitchen at Camp Kawanhee and staying at her Aunt Marcia’s, we were able to ease into what it would feel like to live in this house without Shireen. That makes tonight a lot easier.
August 31, 2013 Saturday:
Martin spent a lot of time here doing farm related tasks. He is hanging one of the new gates Sally bought.
It rained hard much of the day.
Nancy came and ran the vacuum for me. Marcia collected eggs and read to me out of Cows Can Save the Planet. All much appreciated.
I made some excellent peanut butter. I added a bit of honey and coconut oil. But first I roasted them. Then the Aga went out.
September 05, 2013 Thursday:
I’ve been checking Fern’s udder regularly and she remains fairly well packed up with milk but there are no hard spots and it isn’t heated. I have decided not to worry about her. Ever since last Saturday I’ve been without my Aga. The Amerigas people allowed me to run out of gas again. They had just left a small auxiliary tank and never filled the large tank. The burner refused to relight so Bret is trying heroically to get me a new burner and in the meantime I’m cooking on a hotplate. I’m managing ok with the hotplate but I can’t do any canning or jelly making. The tomatoes and the string beans are coming on fast, I’m going to be picking beans today. I picked almost more zucchinis last night than I could carry. DD Abby’s patch of corn is also ripe and ready to pick.
The weather this week has been superb. Many flowers are blooming. Son Mark came up Tuesday evening for dinner and Wednesday morning he climbed Tumbledown. The weather was a perfect day for mountain climbing, clear but not hot. We haven’t had much of this kind of weather this summer, what my Grammie called a “real Maine day”.
DD Marcia took Abby Rose and Violet to the airport on Wednesday. Abby will be staying in Venice Beach. When they got to LA they went straight to the beach and Violet didn’t want to leave, she loves the water.
Of the three new clutches of chicks that hatched, yesterday I was only able to find two. I don’t know if they are still around or what.
I’m trying to get a bag of Animate, a pre-calving anionic salt feed. I will need to get Fern onto this program within twenty-one days of her calving.
Grandson Harper has been visiting in Haines, Alaska, hunting and fishing with grandson Rafe. I have not heard of any hunting successes but they got a ninety pound halibut which sounded pretty exciting. DD Sally says that they saw ten bears from their front porch this morning early. (including babies).
September 06, 2013 Friday:
Had some excitement this morning. At eight am Donny Haughton arrived to use the tractor to clean the manure out of the beefer pen. I had to get all the animals out onto the south pasture, out of his way. The sheep were all hanging around in the barnyard so I put some grain in their stall and let them in there. Then I went out and closed the gate and came in to let the sheep back out. Unfortunately instead of going out they all raced around and dove into the henroom- I had forgotten to close the door there again. They all packed themselves in and ate chicken grain. There wasn’t much in there but before it was gone I managed to wedge myself past them and close the outside door of that room. Then I slithered back and eventually they all went outside where they belonged. Martin has been working on installing the big new gates that Sally bought way last spring and hasn’t finished, but I was able to pull the old one closed, more or less, and laced it up with string as best I could. Just have to hope the sheep behave themselves now. Donny then proceeded to clean the barn.
Yesterday I had some nice meat loaf that Abby Rose had made before she left. I fixed a nice dinner entirely of Coburn Farm products which was delicious. It was all cooked on my hot plate as the Aga is still not working. Yesterday, I picked all the yellow wax beans and got probably a couple of gallons. Marcia worked on them this morning putting them in the freezer.
Later we went to Farmington for milk from Mitra. We picked peaches from her amazing tree.
September 07, 2013 Saturday:
I did a radio interview with a talk show host named Michael Olsen. The show is called “The Food Chain” and is based in Santa Clara County, California. Everybody said it went well.
Here is a link to the archived show: http://metrofarm.com/mf_Food_Chain_Radio.php
I’m not sure how the baby chicks are doing. I don’t see all three batches of chicks at the same time and one batch may have vanished. Neither of the mother hens that we do see has as many chicks as they did have.
I check Fern’s udder every day. It is resolving nicely.
The weather continues very fine with intermittent showers.
September 08, 2013 Sunday:
It got rather cold last night and tonight frost is predicted. It seems cold in the house without the Aga. I went around closing windows and built a fire.
I’m busy with a short cut to tomato processing which involves cutting them up, removing the tops and any bad spots and then freezing them for Sally to work on later when she is here.
September 09, 2013 Monday:
Marcia and I went to Rumford today to do errands. We had a fun time as shopping trips go. When we got back I took advantage of the weather and went and picked a bucket of apples from a tree in the fenceline. It is doing well this year.
Torsten and Rebecca’s baby was born today, September 9, their third- his name is Gunnar and he was about ten and a half pounds. All doing well, we hear. Born at little house on Happy Road, Fairbanks, AK.
Bret sent the Aga burner out of his own stove but I can’t find anybody to work on it. It has to be done by the Amerigas people because it involves unlocking the lock which they have on the tank. Hopefully they’ll come before long. I wouldn’t have this problem if they hadn’t let me run out of fuel.
The weather today was beautiful. It didn’t frost as we had been warned that it might. I believe it got to 35 degrees.
September 12, 2013 Thursday:
Marcia brought back a quite cute older travel trailer, 17′ long single-axle, nicely restored. It’s got everything, freezer, refrigerator, gas and electricity option for cooking. It’s got an amazing array of things such as toilet and good sleeping arrangements. It was built in the 70’s with a 70’s color scheme. She seems quite pleased. She plans to paint it turquoise.
Last night I strained out the apples that I cooked and made applesauce. It has an excellent flavor. The tree had a huge crop of apples this year. The weather has turned weirdly hot with intermittent thunder and lightning storms. There are flood warnings in the county today.
I went to see Dr. Hamzavi, the optometrist in Lewiston. He says I don’t need to come back to see him unless I have some sudden change that is alarming. Martin sent away for some spectacles for me that with powerful magnifying lenses that refract the peripheral vision to the center so I can see faces on TV. They seem quite helpful for actually seeing the human face.
Martin is on a group 500+ mile bicycle ride around Maine. He should be gone for a week. We get occasional emails showing where he is, and it sounds like a lot of fun. Pictures from Blue Hill and Ellsworth:
After my eye appointment, Marcia and I went to a Mexican restaurant in Auburn called Margarita’s. It has been given high marks by several people and we decided to give it a go. The restaurant is extremely attractive, the service was very good and the food was also excellent and the servings were generous. They make everything right there including the guacamole. They gave us about a pint of that, we had to bring some home.
The cows went out despite the storm and rain, but the sheep mostly seemed to have stayed in. All the clutches of hens and chicks seem to be all right.
September 15, 2013 Sunday:
All summer the sheep have been going and coming as they please in order for me to cut down on chores. I’ve mainly been bringing them in and out every night and morning, carrying hay and water, etc. I have been getting increasingly nervous about them as coyotes have been heard in the neighborhood. I think the visit from Sally McD with her two large dogs, one of which was a Great Pyr, may have forestalled trouble for a while as the scent would have been inescapable. Tonight, I began a new policy of bringing them in at night. Not much trouble, really.
After a day of hard rain it is finally clear.
I made nine pints of apple sauce and froze it. I can’t do any canning on a hot plate – Aga still not started.
I also froze some corn.
September 16, 2013 Monday:
A hard frost is predicted for tonight. The red dahlias finally have fat buds. I have covered them with a sheet. The delphinium seedlings Sally sent from Alaska in June bloomed a week ago. They are a heavenly blue shade. I also covered them.
Holly and Richard came over this morning with a delicious peach cobbler made with Max and Mitra’s fruit. They leave for home next week – Minneapolis.
Marcia came as usual and did many chores including picking beans and tomatoes. Later I made an extensive garden tour to say goodbye to everything likely to freeze and brought in some flowers. The weather is fine but chilly. The sheep came in without difficulty.
Sally called from Tok where she and Tom are today. She says her new grandson Gunnar is a perfectly wonderful baby. Torsten broke his hand yesterday and spent most of the day in the hospital.
September 17, 2013 Tuesday:
We did get frost last might but it was spotty and did not take everything. The flowers with sheets over them were fine and the tomatoes survived. The beans and cukes were damaged. It was sunny all day. We are supposed to be safe tonight which I hope proves true as I didn’t cover anything.
The sheep remembered to be up at the barn and darted right in at bedtime. Sheep are not as dumb as they look.
One of the mother hens persuaded her family to hop up the stair/ladder to sleep. They looked so cute at the top of the stairs peeping out from under her feathers.
Sally called from Fairbanks where she had gone to get cataract surgery. It had to be cancelled because the nurse had neglected to tell her she had to go without her contacts for three weeks prior to surgery.
September 18, 2013 Wednesday:
Perfect early fall weather today although not much leaf color yet. The scene from the deck as the sun goes down is heart stopping. The pasture is deep green and the surrounding woodlands a dark shadowed green, The sheep come running when called and are soon followed by Fern and Milton. Both have sweet dispositions. It’s breaking my heart to say goodbye soon to Milton. I am now giving both a bit of evening grain.
Marcia sent Randy Serino today to replace the lock on the laundry room door. This will make it easy to go through the little fenced garden and use that door. Randy also took out a useless barrier in the layer room making it more spacious.
September 20, 2013 Friday:
Marcia and I went to Farmington for feed from White Water and milk from Mitra. We got to meet Emiliano. Last time I saw him he was about 9 years old. Now he is 6ft tall and handsome. He is 14, slightly younger than Roshan. They are cousins. Schools at his home in Cuernavaca, near Mexico City, are problematical. He is spending the year here and attending Mount Blue High School in Farmington.
September 21, 201 Saturday:
I brought in some over ripe cucumbers and made Chinese Cucumber Salad.
September 23, 2013 Monday:
Marcia and I took the day off and drove down to Brunswick to visit DD Abby. We had a fine day in every way including meeting Abby’s patient in her lovely home and having an excellent Indian lunch in a charming restaurant.
The farm got along fine without us. But for the first time this year I smell skunk.
September 24, 2013 Tuesday:
It’s getting colder. The days are shorter and the sun is not so bright. There has not been another hard freeze but things are not growing so fast. My vision is about the same as a month ago which is to say a great handicap. I have my face three inches from the keyboard and am wearing thick lenses. I am a lousy typist. When Marcia visited today I dictated my letters. She is patient.
This morning Willie and I went down and harvested some tomatoes and many over ripe cucumbers, I have no idea what I will do with them. I also picked up a bucket of apples. For my dinner I steamed a collection of root veg. When tender, I cubed them and fried them in lard. Marcia has done a great job with the rutabagas. They are large and free of root maggots.
DD Sally says the wee Gunnar Greenleaf Bentzen is an adorably cuddly armful and his big brother Torlief is a great comfort and support to his next older brother Halfdan who is no longer the baby.
September 26, 2013 Thursday:
Mike, my Zoomtext instructor came this morning and taught me some further moves with this reading app.
DD Marcia came and wrote my checks for me and took care of the chickens as usual.
Martin came and conferred with Community Energy. Martin also spent some time setting up my Power Point presentation for my talk in November.
I am switching from Amerigas.
Martin is staying over because in the morning he must kill Milton, my steer. It will be hard to say goodbye.
September 27, 2013 Friday:
Martin was up at 4am to dispatch our steer Milton. We had planned carefully and all went without a hitch. I did not go out until his carcass was loaded on the truck. I said goodbye to him last night. He had as perfect a life as any steer could have and was fat on grass with barely a hint of grain. I asked Martin to catch the blood. I had it made into black pudding and out of the oven by 7am.
I find it easiest to make it in a flat pan and cut it in squares like lasagna. . Eating it takes some rewiring of food prejudices but I have to say it is very good and steeped of virtue. If I can’t find any takers, it makes insanely good dog food.
Marcia and I took dinner to Martin and family . I made lamb stew and salad. The stew was made with neck bones (scrag ends), a neglected but excellent cut of lamb.
5pm – FedEx delivered an advance copy of the new edition of KFC. It looks good. Also this week, the article about me came out in DownEast Magazine. Nice article but for some reason the edition put me in Dixfield instead of Carthage, and odd error.
Martin drove me home from the lake after dark and put away the sheep for me. He had to go way down to the river to find them. They were all milling around and partying. I would say breeding season has started. Fern was with them hopping around. Or maybe it was a wake for Milton.
September 28, 2013 Saturday:
Splendid fall weather. The critters are all settled down.
We all had tickets for the fall buffet at Kawanhee Inn. Marcia and I went but the Grohman family wents hiking this afternoon and never showed up. Hope they are not lost.
September 30, 2013 Monday, Son Mark’s birthday:
They were not lost but their dog Milo was. Martin had to hike most of the way back up the mountain to find him. They arrived at the dinner after we had left.
Today (and yesterday) was another perfect fall day.
I transplanted a large coral bell plant and a lily to spots with more appropriate light conditions.
Marcia and I hauled in a wagon load of pumpkins and squash, not as many as in most years but a nice pile.
I defrosted some scallops for my dinner and poached them in butter leftover and frozen after our last lobster dinner. They were perfect.
DD Sally reports that she and Tom will be returning to Haines tomorrow. They have been in Tok helping Rebecca and family move to Fairbanks.
October 02, 2013 Wednesday:
Yesterday morning I got a call from the audiologist that they had a cancellation and would I like to take it. Marcia graciously drove me to Lewiston and I came home with a hearing aid (much thanks due to Mark and Martin). I think I am going to like it. When I entered the kitchen the usually quiet trickle of the spring sink sounded like a torrent.
Martin visited for the day. The weather was fine and he went out with Milo for the first day of bird season. He brought in a partridge and a woodcock. I had a small lamb roasting the oven and when I called Martin in to dinner I could not find him. It was dark and I finally spotted the tractor out on the field. He was out the spreading a load of lime and manure. He must be turning in to a farmer.
I talked to DD Sally in Haines. Her DD Rebecca was caravanning yesterday to Fairbanks where they are moving from Tok. She was pulling a trailer and had two of the boys with her. Torston was following with the other boy. It was dark and snowing. She ran into a moose. Miraculously there were no serious injuries. But this was a harrowing encounter especially with a new baby in the car.
Today Marcia came as usual to help me with chores and reading. I also started another large amount of applesauce and picked more tomatoes. Mitra read to me the many kind remarks on the forum about the article in DownEast Magazine.
October 3, 2013 Friday:
I got up pretty early, about 6 am, and began catching up from the work I didn’t finish yesterday. Then Mark came and said he wanted to come for lunch and bring some fresh fish. So I prepared for lunch, and ended up having Ev for lunch too. Ev got to read the DownEast article about me while we waited for Mark. Ev told us about his trip to British Columbia. I had made an almond pound cake yesterday which was fortunate, and Mark brought a fine piece of halibut. Marcia couldn’t join us because she had to take her little dog Starla in for a leg problem. Mark gave me a lot of assistance in the computer line. He also told us all about what a colonoscopy is like, and it sounded like something one would rather avoid.
We’re shocked at the number of chickens we have, they are eating us out of house and home. Marcia came back from Farmington and brought me milk, and helped with the chores. She had left Starla for a long time and then went back to get her. The poor little dog was not happy, but no doubt soon will feel better.
October 07, 2013 Monday:
We’ve had three more days of warm weather though today it did rain but it was warm rain. I got the most beautiful basket of vegetables up from the garden- ruby red chard and Sungold tomatoes on top of it. Marcia found a variety of corn that we forgot was there, it had large deep-red ears, very shiny kernels. It was up in the paddock garden with the other corn. We have a promising lot of beautiful cabbages coming, I must get at them with some slug dope though- we use ‘Sluggo’.
Yesterday a neighbor brought a thing I least need; another rooster. This one is a small breed called an Egyptian Fameuse, I think it was called. Today I gave her two large roosters.
Martin was at the Portland airport and found that the DownEast Magazine store front window had my picture from their DownEast article about me titled Cow Girl enlarged to poster size.
My new computer is now set up though I’m not using it yet. I think the boys will be putting it in my office. I have Mark to thank for this.
Sally gave three of her favorite tiny hens to a friend on the other side of town. When he let them out (after a few days) one of them took off for home. Sally is very sad about it- it’s a distance of about twenty miles and so there’s no hope for her, poor little thing.
My grand nephew, Dylan, is getting married. His bride to be is named Asila and she is much loved by all.
October 09, 2013 Wednesday:
The new rooster escaped from his new quarters and has made himself at home with the hens in the hen room. This morning a hen, terribly pleased with herself, came out with five baby chicks. I don’t know where she had been hiding.
Fern comes up for her snack every evening now for her little bit of grain and a few apples. I haven’t started her on her special pre calving supplement yet. I’ll start it on the 19th.
I was running out of milk again so Marcia and I made a plan to go to Farmington. When she came to get me though, the car was having trouble. First it lost power going up a hill and it put out a great puff of smoke and when she got here she found steam coming out from under the hood. We decided to take the truck instead. It was a beautiful day with perfect fall weather. We went to Mitra’s and had lunch and picked up our milk. She gave us some beautiful bell peppers and pears.
Mitra said that Roshan is trying out for the Maine Youth Orchestra and is playing a Bach partita on her cello. I am so proud of her. We all are.
Then we went to Whitewater and got more feed and did various other chores.
It frosted last night, not too hard, but enough to ruin my dahlias had I not put sheets over them. Yesterday I brought up another large basket of tomatoes but I haven’t had time yet to go check frost damage.
Mark and Hailey are signed up to join us in Atlanta.
October 13, 2013 Sunday:
Yesterday, Saturday, DIL Amy went to Castonguay and picked up the meat, now frozen. She then went around to Mitra’s place and put a lot in her freezer as I don’t have room. Shireen and Emiliano were there to help as Mitra was working at the Farmington Pumpkin Festival. Emiliano is Mitra’s cousin from Mexico, here in Maine to attend high school for a year.
This is a picture that Emiliano took with Roshan in their woods.
Amy and the kids then went to the festival and had a lot of fun. Roshan was there doing henna tattoos and tattooed their hands. The rest of the meat is now in my new freezer. Martin was here much of the day accomplishing things but also went out with Milo for awhile and got some woodcocks which he gave to me. Along with the woodcocks, Martin gave me a bag of wild grapes that he found growing in the woods. I used them to make a delicious game sauce. What a treat.
Today a nice couple from the KFC forum, Deborah and Eric, visited. They plan to get a cow and are researching the project. They have found property near Unity and will be moving to Maine. They live in a state where even giving away raw milk is against the law.
Sally will have left Haines today on the ferry to Juneau, the first leg of her journey to Maine. She should be here Tuesday.
October 15, 2013 Tuesday, John’s birthday:
Sally’s plane into Boston was a little late so she had to take a later bus. Mark picked her up in Portland and brought her here. Her trip was long and slow but uneventful. She and Mark arrived here about two o’clock. Marcia also was here. I had defrosted a big piece of sirloin steak already to fry for them because I knew they would be hungry. I also had potatoes baked and tomatoes sliced, so we all had a hearty lunch. Sally looks great, Mark also looks fine. He helped us with a lot of little things, including giving Marcia a tutorial on her new IPhone.
We had quite a bit of sun today and everything looked very beautiful. Sally was able to identify for me the great mass of flowers that have been making a great show for weeks in the front border. They were Helenium that Sally planted in the spring last year, from seed. I had no idea what they were and had almost pulled them up before they bloomed. Sally always particularly likes to plant flowers and shrubs that will bloom in the fall. There were still a few late-planted delphiniums blooming that she had sent from her garden in Alaska.
October 16, 2013 Wednesday:
Sally bounded out of bed before the daylight and made tea. The sheep were out grazing before my feet hit the floor. Then she and Willie went out and walked the electric fence and admired new growth in the flood plain near the river. She was particularly pleased to see that all her erosion control efforts have proved highly successful. She had hung a lot of old woven wire fencing along the worst parts of the undercut bank and is finding new growth there.
A lady from the Iris network came today to discuss adaptations to low vision and make suggestions. Marcia came and gave us a delicious lunch that she had made in her Crock-Pot using meat from our latest steer. I made her steamed, fried potatoes that are so delicious, and we had fresh tomatoes.
Rebecca and her family are doing well in Fairbanks despite all having colds. Rafe, another of Sally’s kids, found a new Buhund at the pound and are thinking of getting him. They think Sally needs him for summer guard duty defending against the bears. Buhunds are very good for this. Rafe and his wife Sally are still working on the tortoise project in the Mohave desert.
It was cool and partly sunny today. Sally was able to harvest a bag of apples from my favorite tree. They were quite high up and I had not realized that they were there. They are large, crisp and juicy with wonderful flavor.
October 18, 2013 Friday:
Sally and Willie walked over to her field which she said was looking very fine. She found that the wild apple trees were loaded with small apples, and that Black Haws were also fruiting very well. She had thrown seed around for them several years ago and this was the first time she has seen them bearing. Unfortunately the bittersweet has been spreading and strangling several trees.
She decided to go to Farmington with Marcia to pick up the milk from Mitra. They came back with lots of nice new clothes from the thrift shop. While they were gone I made a fish chowder and a carrot cake and received another invitation to do a radio interview.
October 19, 2013 Saturday:
Fine late October weather. Last night we tried to watch the lunar eclipse but didn’t manage to see anything.
Today Marcia came over and helped us eat the carrot cake, and later we sent a large part of it over to Amy. She is at camp with her girlfriends. All the cold vegetables in the garden are growing like crazy, they love this weather. I made kale soup for dinner with some of our chicken stock.
Sally worked on fixing up the fence between the sheep paddock and the sunken garden which the cows and sheep have been challenging. She has more work to do on it. She also worked on finishing the new gates behind the barn that she bought last spring. Martin had set the massive posts and hung the gates but hadn’t attached the existing fence. Now we can confine the cow and sheep to one field or the other, right now they are getting the North Field and the Pocket Field. It is important for parasite control to leave each field ungrazed for at least a month at a time, so we are very glad to have proper gates to do this.
Marcia is continuing to haul loads of henhouse litter down to the garden. She is using it to mulch the rows. She has laid out cardboard between the rows to keep weeds down there. It all looks very fine.
October 20, 2013 Sunday:
It turned cooler and blowy, a bright blue day with frost predicted for tonight. The cows and sheep went out to the Pocket Field as we had hoped. We started Fern on her new Animate diet supplement and she doesn’t like it (the literature said that cows love it.) Sally poured molasses on it and we hope that by morning she will have finished it off.
Marcia made wonderful stuffed peppers with lamb using some beautiful red bell peppers that Mitra picked up for us at her Farmer’s Market. We had it with some new potatoes that Sally just dug.
Amy and her friends stopped in and they said they had a wonderful weekend.
October 21, 2013 Monday:
Mike from Mt. Blue Garage in Weld came and towed my Subaru today. He had been off moose hunting with some friends for the last week, which kept him from working on the car. He has not yet called to tell me what’s wrong with it.
Sally worked on the walled garden, getting out all the weeds and potatoes and garlic. She then planted the daffodil bulbs that she brought from her garden in Alaska. Next she will plant tulip bulbs that Marcia bought me last week.
The cow and sheep were down in the Pocket Field most of the day, and it was fun watching them run to the barn when I called them at supper time. Fern tried to run, but is too heavy to do much since she is due to calve in three weeks now. I made a great effort to make her grain mixture more palatable tonight, and she seemed to sort of be eating it.
I defrosted my first package of the new ground beef and made hamburgers for dinner. They were delicious. We had them with some of our last fresh tomatoes, sliced with salt, and fried baby zucchinis.
We did get a pretty hard frost last night but the sheets were successful in saving the beautiful dark red dahlias.
October 24, 2013 Thursday:
Sally made an apple pie from my favorite tree which has very large dark red apples. They make a fine pie with our own lard for the crust. This is the tree that I have been bringing back to life. It had been severely neglected and broken by storms, and has now been heavily pruned and fed. I have used a lot of non-toxic methods to prevent codling moth.
Sally just planted 25 new tulip bulbs in the walled garden where she’s been working to prepare the beds for winter. Marcia had picked them up in Reny’s department store in Farmington.
We went for a walk all the way down to Hutchinson Brook yesterday. It was a fine fall day. I had wanted to see the erosion control measures that we have been trying out, which seem to be helping. Trees that had fallen due to scouring of the bank are now tethered with heavy nylon rope, which has proved very successful at defending the bank from further undercutting. In other spots she has tied in disused woven wire sheep fencing which is providing a foot-hold for grass and other plants.
Fern is accepting her anionic mineral mixture better now. I am mixing it 50/50 with sweet feed and adding extra molasses. Once she thoroughly accepts it, I will back off on the molasses as it is a counterproductive calcium source.
We have had a hard frost.
Marcia has been working daily on mulching the vegetable garden with chicken litter, preparing the beds for spring. The paths between the rows are layered with cardboard to protect the soil from exposure. She has planted a lot of tulips at her house too. We are getting plenty of Brussels sprouts from the vegetable garden now, and various root vegetables.
Sally is helping me with my talk in the evenings.
October 25, 2013 Friday:
Marcia drove Sally and me to Farmington where we started out with a nice soup lunch before doing a vast number of shopping stops, including the Farmer’s Union where Sally ordered a chicken hook the better to catch roosters with. We went up to Mitra’s and loaded up with lots of Nellie’s milk. The family wasn’t there so we let the dogs out for a few minutes R and R before going to the wonderful kitchen supply store on Rt. 2 where we nearly swooned with desire for all the amazing kitchen gadgets. On the way home we stopped at a farm in Wilton and bought apples, potatoes, cider, and honey. We bought a big bag of Cortland and all the remaining Northern Spy apples that he had- they are a favorite of Sally’s.
October 26, 2013 Saturday:
Martin arrived about noon. He had been hunting down at Leavitt’s and had gotten a couple of woodcock.
We put on a dinner for him and Marcia. I made meatloaf, baked potatoes and fresh broccoli. Sally made a pumpkin pie with the first of our pumpkins. Martin brought me a new TV which he hopes will make it possible for me to watch Downton Abbey. As he was leaving we were in the driveway and we heard a great yapping and howling of coyotes. One does not mistake them for a dog. The sheep were already in the barn but I was a little nervous about Fern who has taken to sleeping way down in the Pocket Field a good ways from the house. Taking his red light flashlight and his gun, Martin went down and found her and brought her up to the barn. I believe I will keep her close up at night from now on. I don’t believe the coyotes would attack her, but if she were to calve the calf would be vulnerable.
October 27, 2013 Sunday:
We got the carriage house organized so that Martin could put the tractor where it goes. We had stored a lot of pumpkins in the front.
Martin had brought a lot of pictures he had prepared for me to use in my talk in Atlanta. We worked on coordinating them with the talk.
Marcia came over about noon and she and I worked on harvesting the cabbages as it is supposed to be very cold tonight.
It got this e-mail and photo from my friend KellyJ:
Thought you might all get a chuckle out of this! It’s gonna take more than a broken leg to keep me out of the barn! I was running in the field with the cow and mini-horse close behind trying to take the hay I was carrying – I stepped on a cow flap – slipped and heard – pop – I crawled out of the way of the critters – William ran up to the house for help – clean break of my fibula – my driving foot – which is going to interfere with the soccer mom side of my life, but milking makes me happy.
October 28, 2013 Monday:
The weather was cold and uninviting, and we jumped up and started working on my talk right away. We are making good progress. Then Sally went out and offed a rooster that I had trapped in the milking parlor. He was enormous and had been getting to be very aggressive.
During a break from the computer Sally made an apple crisp from Cortland apples that she and Marcia had bought from the farmer in Wilton. They make a fine pie. We had it for a treat when Marcia came over as she does every day to help with various things. Later on Sally and Willie went for a walk around the fields which they greatly enjoy.
When we were putting the sheep into their room in the barn, Willie was helping herd them as usual. Somehow in the process one of his pretty white toenails was pulled out, perhaps one of the sheep stepped on it. He seemed to be suffering a good deal of pain and he bled copiously, poor little dog. We cooked him some livers from the roosters that we’ve been collecting up. He seems to be better now and is resting.
October 30, 2013 Wednesday:
Willie seems better after a day or two of mostly couch rest. Sally took him on very small walks around the garden. His foot still seems to hurt but not too badly. Doctor Cooper says his toenail should grow back. And in keeping with the toe nail theme, here is what Mitra posted on the forum about her cow Nellie who had a visit from the hoof trimmer:
I noticed a minor limp a few days ago and then a very bad limp for the last couple of days. Nellie was having a hard time in the stanchion and would not put weight on her back left foot. This made getting her in the right position difficult. I called our awesome hoof trimmer but he couldn’t get here until today. I was lucky that he had to go trim at a dairy about 30 miles from here. He did 37 cows there and then came to take care of Nellie. The worst was trying to get her to walk/hobble the length of a football field to get her to the big scary metal contraption in the driveway. All the while my neighbors were engaged in target practice. Hunting season begins in a few days. Dave, the hoof trimmer, got her to enter the chute. She was limping so badly. Then the awful hydraulic noises and she was up in the air and on her side before she knew it. She thrashed her head wildly and all you could see were the whites of her eyes.
Once he found the abscess, he cut into it and there was a lot of blood. Nellie made “I’m dying” noises as he cut and scraped. It was pretty awful. He let it drip while he worked on the other three hooves and then bandaged her up. Once she was back on solid ground, she was only too happy to take her favorite treat, one after the other, whole wheat tortillas, six of them. Poor Nellie, but now she should experience some relief.
Her production has gone down the last few days from 3.5 gallons to 2.25 gallons today. She’s had a hard time getting to the hay feeder and to the water. It was only yesterday though that I thought of this (DUH!) and started putting her hay in a closer feeder and bringing her water. I hope this experience wasn’t so traumatic as to affect her pregnancy. She’s 4 months bred. Hand wringing!
November 01, 2013 Friday:
It was amazingly warm this morning when we woke up, about fifty degrees. Last night was Halloween, we only got one group but they were our favorites. The weather was not very favorable for trick or treaters, being cold and rainy.
It stayed hot all day, it might have gotten up to sixty. Marcia and Sally went to Farmington where they were caught in a microburst while transferring milk from Mitra’s car to theirs. All the ladies got soaked. This may be the last time we pick up milk from Mitra since Fern is due next weekend. Willie spent the day gazing at the gate, worrying about whether Sally would come back. We worry about how he is going to take our having to go away to Atlanta.
Fern is getting very wide and looks good.
November 16, 2013 Saturday:
Fern and Elvis came in better this morning, and Elvis is getting used to being tied up in front of his mother. Her two left quarters are staying hard after milking, obviously a touch of mastitis. Not surprising after a couple of days of lying down and not moving. I am treating with peppermint lotion.
The weather was very fine today, all the animals grazed. Sally made a lemon tart and we took it to Marcia’s house at the lake. The lake was very beautiful, hardly a ripple, blue skies and quite warm. We were able to sit out by the water for some time. Marcia has been working hard making improvements. She has done a very professional job of staining and varnishing the beautiful old wood of the bathroom floor. We stood outside while she climbed out onto the roof and swept her skylight- she didn’t want to do this while she was home alone.
I’m milking twice a day so we brought Fern in for milking about five.
November 18, 2013 Monday:
We went out to the barn at eight o’clock after Fern had her breakfast. It was pouring rain earlier but cleared off about the time we went out.
She had plenty of milk this morning but would not let down. I decided to separate the calf for a few hours and put him on her two left quarters that are really hard. When we let the calf out he worked gladly on those two quarters and definitely improved them. We got about a gallon and a half of milk.
This evening we got about three quarters of a gallon but against a great deal of resistance. Again she didn’t let down. If she doesn’t do a lot better tomorrow I am going to separate the calf until she learns to cooperate.
The middle of the day was very warm, above 50.
November 19, 2013 Tuesday:
Fern let down much better this morning and her udder was in encouragingly better condition so I did not separate the calf. We got over a gallon and a half. The weather was quite cold and blowy but all the animals went straight out to the fields to graze. Elvis stayed near his mother. They all came in again about one or two o’clock and hung around the beefer pen eating up the hay in Fern’s hay feeder. We put the sheep into their stall with their dinner about three so as to give Fern some hay that she wouldn’t have to have sheep walking on.
Marcia came over at lunchtime bringing some yummy ham and split pea soup. We had it with some of Sally’s fresh bread from yesterday.
We decided to switch to the Surge machine tonight to see if it would work out better. It was an awkward transition. Fern’s patience was sorely tried and she pooped about six times. Nonetheless, we got over a gallon of milk.
Sally’s daughter Rosemary is going to the Cook Islands soon for two weeks, as a tourist. New Zealand Airlines is having a promotion which makes it quite affordable.
November 21, 2013 Thursday:
It was about our coldest day so far and the water was frozen up in the barn. We plugged in the heat tape and soon all was fine.
We changed back to the DeLeval milker because the Surge was not suited to our small cow. The calf is drinking all he can and he is growing like a weed, yesterday Sally had to make his collar bigger. He’s only a week old. Fern is still not quite settled in, though better, and is doing a great deal of pooping, and we keep having to leap up and clean behind her and throw down more shavings. We are now getting three gallons a day beyond what Elvis drinks, he is with her all the time.
When Sally and Willie took their morning walk around the fields she noticed that the ram had broken his horn off somehow. He was bleeding a good bit. One of the young ewes was in heat and he had demonstrated his affections by coming at her amidships a lot of times and stamped his bloody horn on her in about ten different places. She looked very funny in red polka-dots.
When we did the evening milking Sally shrieked at the discovery that the bottom of our old horizontal storage freezer was covered with mice. We use it to store grain in but had left the lid up overnight. She removed the bag of grain that was in there, leaving the mice of which there were about ten. After milking, when Fern was safely back out in her run-in, Sally invited Willie, the master mouser, in to help out. I told him there was a mouse and he was thrilled! He leaped into the freezer and killed them all within about 10 seconds.
November 22, 2013 Friday:
Fern is giving a bit more all the time. Today it was about three gallons. We’ve gone from about two eggs a day up to getting about 7 or 8, which I think is a response to their now getting clabber again.
It wasn’t quite so cold this morning- about twenty degrees, it was ten yesterday, which was helpful as we are having trouble with the electricity in the barn. The breaker for the hot box with the water system won’t stop shorting out. We used a long electrical cord in order to plug the box into another outlet.
Marcia, Sally and I spent the day in Farmington catching up on errands. Son John is hosting a fund to help Philippine disaster victims and daughter-in-law Lou’s family in Cebu is distributing supplies. We shared a tasty lunch at the soup and sandwich shop in Farmington.
Got back about three, it had been raining.
November 23, 2013 Saturday:
Very cold and windy today. The thermocouple that Marcia bought me for my hotbox worked fine. It is now plugged in to a power cord across the room as the nearby plug won’t take the strain any more. It is hooked up to the heat lamp inside the insulated box where the water enters the barn, and goes on automatically when the temperature inside the box nears 34. It’s great.
Fern gave two and a half gallons for the day- we assume the calf is getting more now. We are milking twice a day but hope to go to once a day before Sally leaves for Christmas in Haines. We found that Elvis is already cutting Fern’s teats with his sharp teeth, and we will have to file his teeth down with the Dremel tool.
I made leek soup with potatoes and chicken stock and Sally made an apple crisp with Macintosh apples we bought yesterday. We had a nice tea party with Marcia who arrived about noon. She brought our grain over and helped with various projects. Sally worked on getting plastic on a couple more windows.
Max is expected home tonight, he’s been working in Montana for some time.
November 25, 2013 Monday:
Yesterday dawned about 10 degrees with a ferocious wind. It was blowing so hard that we had to pull the carriage house door completely shut when we went out so as to keep it from being blown off its track. We couldn’t use the cart as we couldn’t open the door wide enough. We managed to do the milking, but left all the animals in their stalls as it was obvious they wouldn’t be able to graze.
About nine thirty Marcia called to say that her power was out. Sally rushed around filling all the watering stations in the barn and a lot of buckets and jugs as well. Sure enough, our power also went out a short time later. We were able to keep both fires going in the house, and opened the hall doors so the upstairs heating pipes wouldn’t freeze because the furnace has an electric start and doesn’t function when the electricity goes out. We milked very early, about three thirty, so as to do it before dark and of course had to milk by hand which Fern did not appreciate. Plus she was jumpy because the noise in the barn was horrendous with so many things crashing and banging around.
Reports were that huge sections of Maine had lost power so we were very grateful that ours came back on before milking time today. The barn water system had frozen up- we hope it melts soon- but we managed to keep the house from freezing. It was cold though. The wind was so fierce that it ripped some of the roofing off the barn, and we can see several tarpaper shingles on the lawn that were ripped off the house.
November 27, 2013 Wednesday:
Later yesterday after carrying water for a day or so, the barn water came on. Hurrah.
Today when we got up it had been snowing in the night and then had turned to heavy rain. It continued to rain most of the day but stopped for awhile so that Sally and Willie could have their walk in the fields. They said the river had come up a lot but not as high as sometimes. They also said that they had tried to put the sheep out but that Agnes and Suzie wouldn’t go down the slushy ramp, and turned and ran into the chicken room to see if they could cause some trouble there. Eventually they got all the sheep back into their stall.
Marcia came down and had some oxtail soup that I made. It was made entirely from Coburn Farm ingredients except for the onions. I also cooked the wild turkey that Martin shot last spring. It had marinated for two days in a Kosher salt and apple cider brine, with herbs.
November 28, 2013, Thursday – Thanksgiving:
We got up to a cold blustery day. Got the chores done. Fern gave two and a quarter gallons this morning. We skipped the evening milking today because of Thanksgiving.
Sally and I launched ourselves into food preparation for Thanksgiving. Sally boned and sliced the turkey and layered it in a 9×12 pan. I sautéed onions and green peppers and bread cubes and fresh sage, threw that over the turkey and made a gravy from the pan juices and poured that over. This baked about 40 minutes before we took it over to Max and Mitra’s. We also took cole slaw from our own cabbage.
Marcia made scalloped potatoes from our own potatoes, and cranberry chutney which was divine. She also made an elaborate cheesecake dessert of chocolate, pumpkin cream cheese and topped with hazelnuts and caramel.
Max and Mitra baked a ham and a root vegetable casserole. Shireen was home from college looking lovelier than ever. Roshan and her cousin Emiliano were also charming, and between courses they treated us to a piano and cello interlude, beautifully played. We had a wonderful time and got home just at dusk, and ran out and did the evening chores but skipped the milking.
November 29, 2013 Friday:
Cold today just like the weatherman promised, a little above 10 F. We looked but could not see the comet. Since we didn’t milk last night we were looking forward to see what kind of shape Fern was in this morning. She was full of milk but not painfully distended. Elvis seems not to be ignoring any of her quarters. She milked out very well. We got about two and half gallons. I felt pretty happy with the way things were going and decided to skip the milking tonight again. Sally is leaving for Christmas in Alaska in about two weeks and it will be much easier for me with OAD (once a day) milking.
Marcia came over about noon and we had a yummy lunch of leftovers. She helped wash Willie who looks adorable and fluffy.
Martin came shortly thereafter with his family and they also ate leftovers. Then Martin and his dog Milo went duck hunting along the river. He shot two Mergansers but Milo cracked through the thin river ice and was frightened and unwilling to try again. So Martin stripped and went in and retrieved them himself. Yikes! He came back and drank some hot cocoa that I made him.
I also heard from my son John in Australia that he and Tommy had a very scary experience kayaking. Tommy had been longing to try kayaking. They had not been in the estuary very long when he capsized. Fortunately John heard Tommy make a little noise, looked back and realized the kayak was upside down. Tommy’s lifevest brought his head above water. John, who was not wearing a life vest, slipped out of his kayak and went over to support Tommy and tow him and his kayak toward land. An Iranian family who were picnicking on the riverbank assisted with getting them out of the water. John appreciated the help because he was becoming exhausted. Tommy’s wheelchair was some ways back up the river. John went to fetch it and the Iranian men lifted Tommy into his wheelchair. Another man brought John’s gear which he had left at the launching site down the trail for him.
They will not be going kayaking again without an outrigger.
Yesterday (Sunday) Martin came up and spent the afternoon and this morning doing all sorts of things that needed doing. He put a fresh chain on the chainsaw He brought Milo but didn’t expect to hunt- the snow was too deep anyhow. He drove his truck with the plow and plowed me out, which was very helpful. He also changed the on/off switch on the vacuum pump for the milking machine which is a huge help- it’s been on the far side of Fern and most inaccessible. I just heard a weather report that it might go to thirty below tomorrow. I am heating a jog of hot water to help keep the milk from freezing as the milk fridge is outside.
I’m having a big problem getting Elvis to nurse on the off back quarter, and am concerned that Fern may start to get mastitis.Tuesday December 24:
We’re experiencing our local version of the statewide ice storm. It was hard to get to the barn on Sunday. Monday it was nearly impossible. I got my bucket of ashes and made myself a little trail to the barn. By the time I came back in, it was already iced over and was slippery again. By Monday afternoon when DD Marcia came to help me with chores, it was so slippery I had her not get out of the car, and instead had her drive me to the barn. I left Elvis in with Fern so I wouldn’t have much milking left to do in the morning. I left the sheep outside for the night to take the chances with the coyotes. They had a nice warm lean-to to go into, but there is no door. Conditions were so poor, I was fearful of not getting the barn at all in the morning, so was setting things up for livestock survival. When I pulled my cargo sled back with me on Monday morning, the sled got away from me and shot away along the icy lawn. I had no more ashes to lead me to get it. Somehow I managed to retrieve it. Otherwise, there would have been three gallons of frozen milk on an ice floe. As it happens, today, Tuesday morning, it wasn’t quite as slippery I was able to get to the barn along the ash path with the aid of my ski pole.
The sun shone brightly most of the day. Footing is still treacherous. So far I have managed to avoid bruises. DS Mark came up to join me for a Christmas Eve supper. I served him some Luick ham, purple yams, salad, and almond cake. The cake had raspberry sauce and whipped cream.
Willie longs for freedom. I can’t let him off his chain because the front gate is frozen open.
Friday, December 27:
On Christmas I was able to make it to the barn on a trail of sand that Mark had brought down. Marcia was able to come help me with the chores. Everything went well. I have been putting the sheep out about eight a.m. with some grain and hay. There is no way I can water them outside so they have to do their drinking when they are in at night. They seem to be doing okay with this. Some nights I separate Elvis so as to get milk in the morning and other days I just take what he leaves. I still get a half gallon to a gallon. Marcia has been doing the hay and water for me which is a very big help, and also helping with inside chores. This was particularly appreciated today as she is putting on the big Christmas dinner.
Max and Mitra and all of their family stopped by for me before dinner to take me to Marcia’s. While here he was able to break the gate loose and close it, permitting poor Willie to get off his chain. He hasn’t been able to run around the yard as usual since last Saturday when the gate froze in an open position. For many reasons we are awfully pleased to have Max back in town.
Marcia served some of our lamb and whole wheat couscous cooked in chicken stock. She also served creamed kale and several other delicious things, including her home-cured olives. For dessert she made a variant of cherry puffs which is cake topped with cherry sauce and hard sauce. We were joined by Lisa Flores, mother of Emiliano who is spending the school year with Max and Mitra’s family. Lisa is visiting from Mexico City. Of course we had Roshan and Shireen who is home from college for the holiday. Marcia has her daughter Abby Rose visiting and AR’s daughter Violet. All the young people looked lovely. Max dropped me off on his way home with his family about five o’clock.
On Thursday the icy conditions and subzero weather continued, but (knock wood) I have managed to stay on my feet. The sun came out for quite awhile. I managed to melt out the car windows and start my car so Marcia could borrow it. Half the state of Maine is without electricity and has been for several days so I am very fortunate. I am not sure what I will do if the electricity goes out here. I have a generator thanks to Martin but need somebody else to start it.
Today Marcia came as usual and helped with the chores and it’s still cold. Many in the state still don’t have electricity. Nancy Hutchinson came by this morning and we had a nice chat.