Monday, May 30, 2011

The Long Weekend

David and I both had long weekends thanks to a furlough day on Friday and the holiday today. It was great, but of course it was just too quick. Friday we ran some errands and didn't do a whole lot else. Saturday we had a cookout with the kids, Dad and Lisa, and my brother Chris and his girlfriend, Nikki. Sunday we stayed home and relaxed and did a few little things around the house. Today I managed to water the garden and plant some herb and flower seeds. Around 7:00 this evening I decided I wanted to make something for dessert.

I had lots of little bags of frozen egg whites (from making ice cream that uses egg yolks), so I figured I'd make meringue something-or-other. I used this recipe for chocolate meringue cookies (but left out the chocolate chips). Then I decided I'd make meringue "bowls" to hold a strawberry filling using the strawberries I had in the freezer. I also had a cup of heavy cream leftover in the fridge (from something else I made, but can't remember what), so I whipped that up. The strawberry filling was just strawberries, a few tablespoons of water, and a little sugar, and a little cornstarch simmered together until it was fairly thick. After I baked the meringues I topped them with strawberries and whipped cream. It made a nice light dessert!

I'm dreading going back to work tomorrow. At least it'll be Tuesday and not the dreaded Mondays! Plus I have a riding lesson tomorrow. More on that later!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two Wonderful Years

On this day two years ago I married my best friend. It's been a wonderfu 2 years. David and I got married on a beautiful waterfront farm, and my bouquet was a bundle of peonies I picked from gardens of the farm. I called the owner of the farm a few days ago, and he said I was welcome to come pick whatever flowers I wanted.

I picked several of the same peonies I had in my bouquet. I love them. They're white with tinges of bright pink on the tips of the petals.

They smell so good! I love looking at them and remember our beautiful wedding. I told David I wanted to make it a tradition to get a new peony plant every year for our anniversary!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Morning Chores

This morning I took pictures as I was doing chores so I could share my daily routine. I skipped the inside stuff, like letting the dogs out to potty, feeding them, etc. After I get the dogs fed and pottied, and I get showered and dressed, I head out to feed the outside animals.

First stop is the barn to let the 8 turkeys and 3 pullets out for the day. They've been enjoying free-ranging during the days and only go back to the barn to roost at night. They're growing pretty good, and starting to actually look like turkeys. I've seen a few strutting too....very cute to see a pint sized turkey displaying his feathers. :-)

Then I head out to see the sheep and goats. June and Ida are waiting for me. Normally Brutus is up on the gate with them, but not this morning. June looks funny because I clipped her body but not her head. Can you see the color difference? I open the gate and try to hold the baby goats back, and let June slip out so she can go to the barn to be milked.

After I milk June, I open the headstall on the milk stand so she can make her way back outside to the pasture. I take a few moments to feed the Romney lambs (still for sale, btw). I fill their haybag with hay and make sure they have water.

Then I take an armful of hay and grab June's collar to remind her she's supposed to be going back to the barn. Sometimes I'll just leave without her, and she'll come blasting out of the barn running and jumping all the way to the pasture gate. I put the hay in the feeder and watch everyone pig out. Soon I'll order some electric netting so the sheep can graze more in the yard. It would be nice to stop feeding hay.

June has to get the best hay, and everyone knows the best hay is at the top!

The goat kids follow along and think they also need to stand in the feeder to get the best hay. It's a goat thing. Notice how all the sheep are standing nicely, and all the goats have to be rebels.

Purl said, "Why are you taking pictures of us eating hay? Do you mind?"

After the small ruminants are looked after, I head to the chicken coop. I used to let the chickens out first, but I got tired of walking around and over them, so I now let them out last. As I walk to the coop, one crazy pullet flies up and hits the wire mesh over the window. She does this every morning. I think she's telling me to hurry up and open the door! So I oblige her and open the door and watch the poultry rush out in a tumble.

Then I watch the feeding frenzy for a moment before I head back inside.

On my way back inside I see the turkeys are once again trapped in the small pen, even though the gate they walked through to get in the pen is wide open. They'll figure it out, they do this at least twice a day.

Once I get back inside I strain the milk. I use a coffee filter instead of using the ones that go to the stainless funnel I have. The gold mesh coffee filter works so well and I can re-use it. It cost about $10 but will last quite a while.

June milked about a half gallon this morning. She's milking about a gallon a day now, which is way too much for us to keep up with. The kids are only here half time, and David isn't a big milk drinker. I've been making pudding and farmer cheese to try to keep up with it! I would like to expand my cheese-making abilities and try something "real" like cheddar or mozzerella, but I need to order cultures and I have been putting that off. Right now I'm on the hunt for a young piglet so I can feed it all the extra milk. Apparently nobody breeds pigs around here!

After all the chores are done and the milk is labeled and put in the fridge, I quickly pack my lunch, let the dogs out one last time, put a diaper on Scooter (more on that later), and head out the door to work.

Oh what I would give to be able to stay home!

Now head on over to Verde Farms for Farm Friend Friday to see all the great farm blogs out there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Look Out!

Yesterday I mowed the pasture. The animals had been on it for a while and had eaten down a good bit except for the tall seed heads which are too tough to eat. Mowing keeps everything nice and even, and keeps the grasses growing. Plus, it helps control weeds as well.

Oh yeah, and it looks pretty. :-)

I was zooming about on the mower when something caught my eye!

It was this little guy and about 4 of his siblings.

After I mowed carefully, I went back to make sure I didn't accidently get one before I saw them out there. This little one was fine, but he was so still I was able to pick him up. I just love baby bunnies, and in the spring our yard and pasture is like bunny central!

So cute!

I love their ears...

And how cute are these feet?

The pic below looks like I'm squeezing him, but I swear I'm not.

Then I put him right back where I found him and left so he and his siblings could re-convene in the nest. I'm sure he went back and told them all the story..."You'll never believe what happened to me!"

More Milk?

I weaned Purl's lambs almost a week ago. They're in the barn and she's in the pasture. Two days later I saw Purl's big milk-filled udder thought, "I can do something with that."

I haltered her and tied her to the gate to see if I could milk her. I expected her to be mad and not stand still at all. I expected her teats to be too small to milk comfortably. What I didn't expect was for her to stand like an angel (ok, well almost like an angel) and for her to be fairly easy to milk. I got a quart in just a few minutes.

Then a day or two later I thought to myself, "Self, I wonder if I can get Purl to fit on June's milk stand?" So I lured Purl into the barn with some grain (since she is pretty smart and knew I wanted to catch her again) and haltered her and managed to get her up on the milk stand. Luckily she's recently shorn so her neck fit through the headstall.

She munched on grain while I milked her again, and she did really well on the stand! Then I rewarded her with apples and carrots. She LOVES all kinds of treats.

I milked her again yesterday and snapped these few pictures. I was trying to be quick so I could finish before she ran out of grain. She's definitely ready to get down when the grain is gone! I'm not sure how long I'll milk her, but I would love to make some yogurt with her milk. I've heard it's very good!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Felted Things

There's a local craft show coming up in June and I'd like to go to it, so I've been busy making things. I decided to felt some scenes because I love doing them and they just look so cool. :-) I wanted to do something involving waterfowl hunting, because our part of Maryland is famous for the wonderful waterfowl hunting opportunities. I found a picture on this Ducks Unlimited site (look at the bottom right hand side), and decided to use that as a guide. Is that plagiarism? I hope not. Everything I do is freehand, not traced or directly copied. Besides, I don't know enough about waterfowl hunting to know how to make the gun and stuff like that. :-) I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Good Girl, Purl

I snapped this picture of Purl and one of her lambs last week. The size of her lamb is impressive, and she raised 2 this size. She's not a big ewe, but she raises some nice lambs. I weaned the lambs a few days ago, and I milked her yesterday and got a quart of milk! I may try to milk her once a day and see how she does with that. I'd like to make some sheep cheese!

Friday, May 13, 2011

For Sale!

Now that it's weaning time, I've got a few animals for sale.

Oberhasli Buck Kid -Brutus

Born 3/15/11, twin, disbudded and vaccinated. He was bottle fed (CAE prevention) and he is very friendly! He will be ADGA registered for use as a breeding buck, or he can be wethered for a pet.

Romney Ram Lamb (0046)- Born 3/4/11, twin, vaccinated. Purebred and can be registered. Can be sold with papers as a breeding ram, or can be wethered for a pet. Would make a lovely 4-H project animal, or a good breeder, or as a pet or for wool. Romneys are dual purpose and lambs grow fast on grass.

Seen here with his brother.

Romney Ram Lamb (0047)- Born 3/4/11, twin, vaccinated. Purebred and can be registered. Can be sold with papers as a breeding ram, or can be wethered for a pet. Would make a lovely 4-H project animal, or a good breeder, or as a pet or for wool. Romneys are dual purpose and lambs grow fast on grass.

These are nice ram lambs and have grown very well. I think they'd make good additions to a flock, or they'd make great pets if some would like pet sheep. They also have nice fleeces, and Romney wool is wonderful for spinning and felting.

Please let me know if you're interested in any of these nice boys. Also, I'm in Maryland and may also be able to deliver (or at least meet somewhere) depending on location.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ag Day

Last weekend (not this past weekend, the one before that) was Ag Day. Ag Day is a big deal at my Alma Mater, the University of Maryland. Ag Day is a spring festival the last weekend in April. There are livestock shows, horse shows, activities, and fun all around. The whole university finally caught on what a big deal Ag Day was, so they started Maryland Day. Of course we Animal Science/Ag kids from UM know it as Ag Day.

David woke up sick that Saturday, so I decided to take the kids and let him have some quiet rest time. Plus, I really wanted to go to Ag Day to see my friends and I thought the kids would really like it. The first thing we did when we got to campus was go to the farm. The University of Maryland is a land grant university, and it used to have a huge farm and be largely agriculturally based. Unfortunately, the times they are a'changin and now the farm on campus is only about 4 acres. I worked on the farm all three years I was at Maryland. It was my passion. I practically lived there sometimes, and I met a great group of friends that all had similar interests. We all keep in touch, and it's like not a day has gone by when we're together!

First we stopped by to say hello to Chai the Brown Swiss, one of the farm's fistulated* cows.

She's a sweet cow but she wouldn't quite get close enough for Kylee to pet. She was more interested in the goings-on.

Then we went to my favorite place...the sheep barn. The farm has a flock of Katahdins and Dorpers and crosses.

Kylee got up close and personal with the lambs.

Devin pretended to be bored.

You can't stop by a put-your-face-in-the-hole-mural and not put your face in the hole!

Then we went to explore some other areas of campus, like the science area where the kids got to do an archaeological dig for shark teeth.

They each found a tooth and they had to identify it with the help of some archaeological students.

We got a picture with some large fuzzy cat. Not quite sure what he was the mascot for, but it was fun anyways!

Then the kids got to take turns putting out a fire with a fire extinguisher.

And they got to try on some fire gear.

We had a blast! It's always nice going back to UM for a nice visit. Part of me misses the good old days. It sure was nice having all my friends around and only having to worry about things like exams.

*A fistulated cow is a cow that has had a "window" (called a cannula) surgically installed (that sounds weird) in her rumen, one of the four stomach compartments. It doesn't hurt the cow, and the surgery is done under local anesthetic. The cow can fully function afterwards. The lid to the cannula can be removed to access the rumen for research on all sorts of things like digestion, proper diet, etc. Many universities have fistulated cows, and even some dairies have their own fistulated cows.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This Weekend!!

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend, May 7th and 8th. My sister and mom are coming up for a visit, and we're going to have a blast at the festival. I'm so excited! The festival is a big deal and people from all over attend. I need to do some shopping there. I desperately need some new roving for felting, some clipper blade coolant (I need to shear soon!), and possibly some yarn or other cute sheep paraphanalia.

If you're in need of something to do this weekend, come to the festival!

Oh, and in my last post I mentioned a broody hen died. It wasn't Wanda, thank goodness, it was an Easter Egger hen that was a first time broody momma. I guess she didn't eat and drink enough while on the nest.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Turkey Pile

The turkeys I hatched out a few weeks ago are growing fast. They're feathering out, and getting pretty cute. The eight turkey poults have 5 friends. Can you spot them? They're chicks one of my broody hens hatched out. Unfortunately the broody died the night the last chick hatched, so they had to go in with the turkeys. I was a little worried about the size difference, but they all get along just great!

I bought buff eggs and slate eggs, and it looks like 7 are buffs and 1 is a slate. It's hard to tell at this age, but they could be mixed breeds too. You just never quite know what you'll get at auction.

The one above is the slate looking one. I'm hoping I'll be able to sell a few mature pairs of these turkeys if they're true buffs. I'd like to make a little money off of them. If they turn out to be a mix, I'll probably just raise them out for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

I'm debating keeping a breeding pair of turkeys. I'm not sure it's worth the hassle to house and feed them year round just to keep from buying poults. It might make more economical sense to just buy poults each year.
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