Today is a sunny Winter day, and I have no moxie to get anything done !
Gus keeps climbing into round bale feeder ring, where he poops, turning it all into a mess. He ignores me when I shout at him from the house, but shoosts our when I approach. I’m caught between a poop filled feeder and the Scottish Highland being able to eat. Solutions, keep the feeder so full he can’t get in, or take him to butcher, or buy a different hay ring and take the Scottish Highland to butcher.
Had to buy sheep meds yesterday as one of the boy lambs is sickly. When I got home with it yesterday, he was lying by their hay feeder, bum up but head down. So he was easy to catch 🤣. Squirted a dose into his mouth, and righted him and he wobbled over to the other sheep. This morning, he was down again - I thought he was dead, but no, he was just frothing at the mouth and couldn’t get up. I picked him up and carried him out the pen, and promptly fell on the ice while trying to step over the electric fence wire, dropping him and hurting myself. Put him in the garage, squirted another parasite dose into his mouth, that stuff must taste good as the sheep seem to like it, then mixed up some molasses in warm water and gave him a syringe full in the mouth - minerals and a sugar boost. Left him lying down on a pile of newspapers, thanks to Lisa breaking the newspaper box and spreading them over half the garage floor and went to make a cup of tea. Went back to check on him, gone. So were Sheila and Lisa, Sheila had slipped the lead. Asked Anni where the sheep was, and followed her to the chicken house, where I found him happily munching the poultrys’ corn. Cheeky bugger. Walked him back into the sheep pen, and saw him eating hay when I filled their feeder. Will keep an eye on him, as he is booked in to the butcher Christmas week with his half brothers, and he needs to pick up some weight.
And 3 days after Thanksgiving
Well, it’s 5 days on, and the sheep is still hanging in there. I did a cocktail for him today as I really don’t know how to get him up and going. His eyelids are completely white, so he’s carrying a huge parasite load. I just realised I’m not 100% sure it’s one of the boys, maybe it’s Pippi. Will check in the morning. It has 15 on its ear tag. I may need to take him down to the lower barn so he’s warmer without the other sheep bothering him, but worry about him being on his own I did rig the roof with a new tarp in the chicken yard for them, as they get really miserable when it’s cold and rainy, which we expect to start tonight.
For Thanksgiving we had fish tacos after sitting in the hot tub once Herbie arrived home just before 5pm. It’s become our “us” time and we miss it when we don’t have it, like last night, I was back late from estate saling with Jackie, and had to get a bale of hay from the field for the cows, nurse the sick sheep, check there were no eggs to freeze in the cold, give the dogs fresh water, so Herbie was alone. Want to laugh ?? Herbie wants a robe ! My fault, I suppose, as I said I was thinking of getting him one for his birthday as it’s much easier to wear a robe to and from the hot tub than struggle with sweats ! Needless to say, he’s now borrowing my warm, fuzzy one which is bigger than my thinner one from South Africa. And he’s wearing the slippers I bought him about 10 years ago ! I’ve ordered one for his birthday, should arrive next week as we couldn’t find one in the stores, and I’ll get mine back.
I met the neighbour from across the road, Todd, he was the one that put the note in our door about the dogs chasing deer last month. I explained to him I understood they ran the risk of being shot, and that Lisa had a bullet wound earlier this year, but he confirmed that he only saw the slower dog with more white. Sheila runs like the wind, with Lisa following behind slower, which is why she’s the one that gets shot at. Not fair, as Sheila has taught her to go run-about, although I think Lisa taught her to chase deer, but maybe not. When they got back home around 6 hours later, Sheila had lost her vest, and smelt like the river. Lisa loped in a good 5 minutes later - I was beginning to panic.
Tomorrow we have to do a bit of grocery shopping and I’d like to bring the rest of the bales up from the hayfield, and tackle my hoophouse door again, and maybe even get the chicken house cleaned out ! Wishful thinking. We’ll probably have a late breakfast, and catch up on some movies after doing the shopping.
My aunt is down in Tennessee, she and my dad leave tomorrow for their uncles’ in Texas and then my dad pops over to Mexico to get his new teeth attached to the posts. I’m going to the dentist on Thursday for a check-up and clean, as I had to rush to him earlier this week when my crown came out.
Have had a good week in my greenhouse to-be. All the herbs are planted, together with my granadilla and the guava. Will plant the kumquat and the lime tree in 2 x half whiskey barrel planters so I can take them out in the Summer. Have 4 of these, but one has the garlic chives that needs to be contained, and one has my lemongrass. So put the granadilla and the guava into the ground. The lavender looks pretty dead, but maybe they’ll make a comeback.
Have to hold off a little on buying my greenhouse plastic as Lisa incurred a $172 vet bill early this week with her sore paw. She came home from one of her and Sheilas’ jaunts last week, limping, but I wasn’t too concerned as it didn’t feel broken, and there was no blood or sore spots and nothing caught between her pads. I was keeping her or Sheila tied up, it’s hunting season, as neither goes walk-about without her sister, and on Sunday night, Sheila got herself tied up around the cherry tree and I unclipped her to get it unknotted and they took off, before I’d given them breakfast !! They were gone for 7 hours, and Lisa was whimpering when she came home, and her lower leg was pretty swollen. So loaded the 3 dogs into the truck on Monday and schlepped to the vet. They charged $100 for the X-ray, which confirmed my diagnosis that nothing was broken. She wanted to give 3 sets of tablets, an anti inflammatory, painkillers and an antibiotic. I said yes to the first and no to the 2nd and 3rd. There was a bit of painkiller in the anti inflammatory but I didn’t want her drugged up and walking on the sore leg, and saw no reason for the antibiotic. Today was the last tablet, and she seems to be a little better, puts it on the ground sometimes, but she and Sheila really want to be set free so that they can run. The way they look at me when I have them in the house - let’s go !! Methinks not.
Looking at taking Bobbin, the dud heifer who was supposedly pregnant with an April calf, and Oliver, my older Jersey bull to auction. If JuneBug doesn’t drop a calf in the next few months, then she’s going to auction too. Asked Herbie if he could take Tuesday off work to help me load them for auction, nope, he doesn’t want to. Wants me to call Mike. I don’t want to do that as he charged me double to take Daisy May, didn’t respond to my query as to why, and then was too busy planting earlier this year, forcing us to buy a round baler at very short notice or have the first cutting of hay rot in the field . So I’ll have to work on plan B as I can’t lift the trailer ramp by myself with a cow or 2 half standing on it, and can’t tie them as neither has a collar.
Stan the ram lamb dressed out at 75 lbs ! He was a big boy, and they said he’s delicious 😋 but I already knew that. Yep, they’re interested in the other 3 boys, but the earliest I can get them in to butcher is the Christmas week. Also booked 2 ewes in, which will bring my flock down to 1 ram, 2 ewes and Pippi, the female lamb returned by Manda. So looks as if I’m feeding 9 sheep for the next 3 months. I’m going to run out of hay as we didn’t get much in total from our 3 cuttings this year. Going to have to re-seed the hayfield.
Talking about Manda, she and her eldest daughter, Miriam, were going to come catch their chickens and geese tomorrow morning to take them to someone else who is buying them (I said no thanks - Herbie would kill me if I bought an additional 20 chickens and 4 geese) but she has just cancelled. Oy. Her geese are delightful, always coming up to say hi when I’m outside, but her chickens think they’re people, and shoost into the garage at every opportunity, flying up onto the shelves, kicking the contents off, pooping on my table and everywhere else in the garage, there are some who sleep on the air conditioner, and 1 on top of the gas meter box, and they poop up there 😩😩😩 and I have to knock some out of the weeping cherry tree and my Japanese Maple every night. One day last week when I went to run some errands, the wind blew the dining room window open, and I came home to 4 of her chickens in the house. 3 in the dining room, one in the lounge, the colander on the stove with pasta was on the kitchen floor, and a piece of linguine was on the ottoman in the lounge, there was 4 lots of poop on my carpets and 2 on the floor - man, was I pissed 😡. Some of my chickens sneak into the garage to lay their eggs, but they don’t dilly-dally there, and don’t poop there either.
The horseradish I got from Angel is doing well, and last night I picked up some turmeric starts from a woman in Lake Odessa. Now if only my ginger would grow, I’d be very happy. Harvested the lettuce growing on the lounge windowsill, and replanted a new lot which are about 3 inches tall already.
Made a batch of Nandos knock-off peri-peri sauce, and it’s really hot. Added some to my beef stew today for a bit of heat.
Got a box of Asian Pears from Bob and Carols’ last week. Cooked a batch down in the slow cooker and dehydrated some - they turned out delicious, but I still enjoy eating them raw the best - maybe because it’s the easiest. Peeling, cutting and de-coring them, leaving in lemon juice water, and then cooking or drying, then putting into jars is a lot of work. But I’m considering going to get more. Haven’t picked any apples yet, the weather hasn’t cooperated the past few Sundays.
Also need to re-work the ground to plant garlic and the strawberries in the berry garden. I have a system, twigs, year old chicken poop, year old hay, cardboard, soil, old cow or sheep manure, more twigs and then mulched with more old hay. Have a lot of earthworms in our clay soil, but it is still too compact, so am adding to all the holes I dig and plant. Planted all my root stock from Spring, blueberries, black raspberries, highbush cranberries, apple and plum trees, and 4 plants I can’t identify as the tag has faded, discovered 1 chestnut sent up new shoots, and planted a mulberry in the main pasture, protected from the cows with stakes and chicken wire I pulled from the Shagbark hickory that didn’t survive in the hayfield.
Only one of my fig bushes has figs, but I’m already looking at wrapping them to protect against the weather. I was amazed that both survived, but they both had to start new branches, as the previous growth died down completely. If I can prevent that from happening this Winter, they’ll have a head start in Spring and may fruit earlier. And my procrastination had a positive result ! 2 of my Osage Oranges died, and it was on my list to pull them up. But the other day I saw both had new shoots, so I just pruned off the old dead stems, and there are small new bushes so the root systems are good and strong. Discovered that I mustn’t water them in times of drought, the water kills them. Who’d’ve thunk 🤣🤣. Still have to find places for the 3 lillies - maybe next to the greenhouse ??
I’ve put my stained glass cupboard on hold while the weather has been nice. Need to finish the greenhouse in the next 2 weeks, and mulch everything. I’ve partially cleared out the chicken house as I needed the manure, but it still needs to be dusted and the rest cleaned out. Also need to put the new chute in the lower barn enclosure and re-do the channel to the house that I accidentally ripped out with the haybine. Need to cut some trees, move the rock pile, and move a fence post or 2 so that the 9ft plus haybine can travel to the hayfield and back easier, and my husband doesn’t force me to bring the equipment up through such a narrow gap. Next time I’ll just leave it behind the pasture.
Maddies garden was gorgeous this year, but I really would like to remove the choke cherry tree on it’s West side. And the tree over the house, the scrub pine at the top of the driveway and the choke cherry next to the chicken house. So in all about 7 trees need to go. Also still need to fix the shed roof. Herbies son-in-law fixed it earlier this year, but the wind ripped it up again, so it needs to be re-done properly. Had someone in to look at it, they wanted $495 to fix and our insurance deductible is $500. Bloody Murphy. Also need to replace the basement casement windows as they leak. Or maybe I can just recaulk them. I’m tired of having the basement flood. Stepping into cold water at the bottom of the stairs isn’t fun, especially when I’m wearing socks, and most of my canning jar boxes have had to be thrown away as they moulded after getting wet. And then Herbie saw a “huge” mouse in the basement a few weeks ago. This he tells me, instead of doing something about it, so I need to re-bait the mouse poison down there. I’m just pleased that there haven’t been nice in the kitchen for the past year or so, but if they’re in the basement, then they’re in the house. Oh well, the basement is my Winter project this year.
My bees are still in the hive, so that’s good. I need to inspect them next week, and make sure no mice have moved into the hive, put the reducer in the opening so they can’t fit through. Also need to spin the honey supers in the garage - I’m out of honey in the house, so that’s important while we still have a few warm days.
And believe it or not, my kitchen still looks good !! The dining room still looks like a bomb has hit it though. The family room needs work too. I need to bring the table in so I can do my stained glass, and the couch needs to go. The study also needs work, the garage and the shed. But the bedrooms, lounge and kitchen look great. Need to clean carpets and windows still.
Well, need to go make Herbies’ lunch for tomorrow, and then shower and bed for me. ‘Night. 💤💤💤
It’s late Friday night, and I’m about to go make Herbies’ lunch for tomorrow.
Had a rather productive day - slayed 17 things on my ever-present and growing, to-do list.
Stayed home, didn’t take the ‘Bru out anywhere. Yep, I still have the ‘Bru since returning from Tennessee 3 weeks ago, and Herbie is driving the truck to work everyday. Seems rather silly, as the diesel for the truck is much more expensive and the fuel economy is about a third. But I think it’s because he thinks I won’t shop as much if I didn’t have the truck to schlepp my “finds” home. So me driving Noddy seems to have taught him nought 😝. And there is alway UPS !
But I think I’ve been fairly good, but our bi-annual farm taxes are due in about 2 weeks and that is always disheartening.
My dad is recovering well, he goes to the heart specialist next Tuesday. But this heart afib thing has taken the wind out of his sails. I worry about his eating habits, as he lost about 25lbs in the 4 days of hospitalization, and his vegan diet is not providing enough protein and fats to rebuild his lost muscle. The man never had any body fat to start with ! But I’ve come to the conclusion that he likes his new, trimmer self, as my urging to up his avocado and nut consumption is falling on deaf ears.
My kitchen is starting to look like like a designer room again, and not the dumping ground for everything !!
Monday - Labour Day (and boy, did I labour)
My kitchen is gorgeous. Clean, sparkling. I washed the floor on my hands and knees - Herbie walked past and asked why we didn’t have a mop, probably because I don’t like them. We have a Swiffer, but I don’t like the way it cleans either, so it’s a bucket of hot water with a goodly splash of ammonia, a cloth, and me. I find it’s the best way to get the grouting clean. So everyone who has seen my messy kitchen should high-tail it over to see it clean - because no one knows how long it’ll last !!
Yesterday I sold Stan the lamb, with the possibility of the other 3 Spring boys and maybe a ewe or 2 to Rachel and Anthony (?) maybe I remember his name right, who love lamb. As Manda and Miriam returned Sage and her daughter Pippi earlier this month, (they had mould issues in their house and moved all 10 people out and couldn’t cope with the sheep on top of everything, think they’re bringing their chickens and ducks over later this week too) I’ve been feeding 10 sheep which is a bit much, especially as these 2 keep escaping. But maybe I should keep one boy for us, as the next births will only be next year.
Tonight was my 3rd caming glass class. I arrived early and had to wait until Jennifer had re-set-up our work areas as there have been contractors this week installing central heat and air. So I finished mine first and started cutting the new edge glass for the 2nd door. I really enjoy my stained glass classes.
On Sunday, we went to see Herbies eldest and her family as it was Dakotas’ 4th birthday. We couldn’t go to the function they held for her on Saturday as Herbie was at work, so we drove over early on Sunday. After we’d left, Nanette texted me asking if I’d be interested in some old stained glass her Chad had rescued from an old house they’d renovated. Sure. Some of the glass was broken, and I asked my teacher today if it was a viable project to restore. She said yes on 4 of the doors, but the 5th, which doesn’t have a frame and looks as if it was driven over, she said isn’t workable - she wouldn’t touch it. But I think I could take the one row off, and make it smaller. It’s a lot of work - have to take them out of the frames, and the old caming is tin, not lead, so have to pry it off without breaking any of the other glass pieces. I was thinking they’d look great in my greenhouse. I could fit them on the back wall, the West-facing one.
Got home around 8:30 pm, and did my evening chores. The sheep were shouting, so I found the cows, in the lower barn enclosure waiting for me to give them the shredded beer pulp with molasses. I started giving them this every evening as the pastures have been poor in the bit of drought we’ve experienced, but it rained this past weekend and is expected to rain again tomorrow, so hopefully they’ll have fresh grass again shortly. Closed the lower barn gate after pouring out the shreds for them, then fetched a bucket of grain and opened the front lawn enclosure and the sheep shoosted out like bats out of hell, and all followed me to the back of the chicken yard where I poured their ration of sunflower seeds and corn on the ground and closed the gate behind me. I’d refilled their water trough, and that of the geese and water for the chickens after topping up the cows one in the channel.
The cows are so well trained :). I didn’t even have to call them tonight. But Gus hopped over the trough into the lower barn - I’d pushed it to the doorway so that they could eat without trekking mud into the lower barn, or pooping / pee’ing, but when I returned to pull the door down, Gus had pee’d in the lower barn :(. Well, there wasn’t any poop like they left for me yesterday.
This morning, the tractor started when I turned the key !! We’ve had to jump start it every time since I brought the top soil up from the end of our driveway. It’s a pain in the ass, drive the truck over to the tractor, open the bonnet, attach the farm jumper leads to the truck and to the tractors’ battery, go back around and start the truck, climb out, go around and climb up onto the tractors’ seat, start the tractor, jump down, disattach the cables, move the truck away from the way the tractor needs to go. I went out to the hayfield and picked up 2 bales, one for the cows, the other for the sheep. Wow, a 5ft bale is tall. I struggled to cover it with a tarp and then get the tyre on top to hold the tarp down. I picked up the yucky plastic, cut off the torn end, and draped the remainder over the back of the hay wagon after opening up the huge green tarp over the bed of the hay wagon to dry. We used both to cover our bales hay a few years ago so could use it again. But we’ll probably get the next cutting plastic wrapped.
I’ve been working on the gardens. Maddies’ garden is looking pretty, I planted another 4 lavenders’ in the rose garden, although saw today 1 was struggling :(. Something, chicken, duck, goose, dog or cat has had a go at it. The berry garden is looking good too. I’ve weeded the grapes, asparagus, blueberries and blackberries. Now to attack my greenhouse again, to get it finished before Winter arrives. I’ll take photos to share.
I made knock-off Claussen pickles, and they turned out fabulously ! Plus I used my jar vacuum sealer on them so that they’re sealed without being water-bathed or canned. The vinegar keeps it from going bad, they’re refrigerator pickles, wonderfully crunchy. Now I need to go buy another bushel or 2 of pickling cucumbers and make more. Only filled 4 x quart jars - Herbie said he’d been eating them out of the jar !!
This morning, the 4th little black chick had hatched - it was still wet when I checked. I just checked it again to turn all the eggs as I removed the automatic turner when the 2nd chick hatched, and 2 more eggs are starting to hatch. It’s been fairly successful so far with the chicks, hope the keets start hatching in a week or so.
I was going to take the chicks out to the chicken house last night and put them under a sitting hen, but the 3rd one had just dried so thought I’d do it tonight, and voila, there’s a 4th little one this morning. We’re going to a family wedding on the other side of the State shortly, and will be back very late, so I’ll probably only sort the chicks out tomorrow. I found the hen with the 2 chicks in the side yard last night, but couldn’t see the hen with the 1 chick. The 2 chicks are already much bigger, so I’ll not put the newbies with them. Hopefully I can find a hen to take them so that I don’t have to set up heat lamps, food and water for them. I saw the geese trying to peck at the 2 chicks, and mum was having a fine time trying to divert them. Geese are arseholes towards the young of other species. I’ve seen them do the same to the ducklings.
Yesterday I managed to flatten one sand scoop into the front garden on the North side of the lounge, and nearly finish weeding the rose garden. Maddies’ garden is looking good, although it looks as if Rosco has decided it’s a cool place to lie and scratched an indentation for himself, destroying the creeping phlox in the process. It was perfect when I watered earlier, and then when I went back to pull the few weeds, saw his destruction. I’m blaming him although I didn’t actually see him lying there. It could have been one of the Border Collies.
My stained glass classes start start again next week, the caming class. I’ve measured the glass doors I wish to replace and have looked at various designs but haven’t made a final decision yet. I’ll wait until I see the glass options at the shop. Leaning towards an antique Georgian design, but have seen some modern pieces that I like too, and even some coloured ones that I’ve taken a fancy to.
The 4th of July was very quiet here as Herbie worked a full day and only got home late. We didn’t go kayaking as I was cooking - hamburgers and a custard strawberry tart.
Last Sunday we went out to Morrison Lake to Angels’ and enjoyed pontooning around, and even went swimming. Herbie didn’t have any pain on Monday, so decided we should swim (or float with pool noodles) as it made him feel better. He checked membership at the YMCA, they want $100 buy-in and $90 a month for the 2 of us which is rather steep just to use the pool. I suggested we get a State Park pass and go to Seesions Lake down the road from us. This wouldn’t work for the Winter, but $16 vs a couple of hundreds is a no-brainer. After driving down to our designated DNR customer service office in Plainfield (later discovered we could have bought it at the local Secretary of States’ office) we went and bought 2 kayaks from Menards - they were on special of $60 off each. I wanted a sit-on one, Herbie a sit-in one. They were sold out of the longer ones, so we got 10’4” ones, no colour choices either - mine’s lime green, his is red. We’ve been out a couple of times, first kayak around then swim a little off the beach, and then kayak back to the boat slip.
Sunday - this afternoon I fished the hen that hatched 2 chicks, one yellow the other black, out of the cows water trough in the lower barn enclosure :(. I saw the 2 chicks this morning on their own, and at about 2 weeks old, they can’t defend themselves without a mum. So tonight, after putting the grain out for the poultry, I took the torch and went looking for them. Found them in the chicken house, and caught the little black one quickly, took a little longer to catch the other. Put them in the pockets of my dress and brought them inside where I popped them into the trough we set up for the newly hatched chicks from the incubator. Herbie brought the trough inside for me, and I put newspaper at the bottom, then straw, and chick feed while Herbie did their water. Also taped the feather duster to the side so that they could hide under it - surrogate mum :).
Yesterday we went to the family wedding just next to where I used to live in Grand Blanc, way South of Flint. Herbies’ cousin Marys’ son, Chris was getting married to Jennifer at the Country Club at the Woodland Golf course. It was a very elaborate affair, and the bride was the happiest one I’ve ever seen. She was just bubbling over with joy :). Must have cost a fortune, open bar, the actual wedding outside on the driving range, 3 course buffet dinner with sirloin steak, 2 kinds of chicken, green beans almonde, roast potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, after a choice of 2 salads, one more traditional with croutons, the other loaded with blue cheese and pecan nuts, followed by wedding cake cupcakes and other kinds of cupcakes with yummy centers, and cookies. There were Godiva caramel chocolates on all the tables too - I ate lots of those :). Visited with lots of Herbies’ cousins, whom I’d only seen previously at family funerals ! Herbie was the only one there from his branch of the family. I pointed out to Herbie that I was wearing the least amount of bling of anyone there ! Just my wedding ring and diamond studs I always wear. We got home after 11pm, Herbie drove.
Today we went kayaking again, first time in the middle of the day. While we were waiting our turn at the boat offloading dock, realised we’d forgotten our water bottles. So drove back home to get them. Can’t paddle for long without hydration. Fortunately we live just 2 miles down the road. Herbie was hoping his eldest daughter would drop by on their way back home from camping on the families property in Sterling.
Back home I seared some venison steaks while Herbie picked lettuce, and we made salad topped with venison. I found a balsamic vinegar mister spray in Aldis’ when we did the grocery shopping this morning, so we tried it. Worked very well. Unfortunately it’s not a refillable container.
It’s amazing how when the sun goes down, it’s as if the heater has been switched off. I was out in the pasture, mowing after weedy whacking under the fence-lines down the channel, cutting until the sheep-feeder ran out of fuel, or it got dark. 6 hours ! One moment and the cows were grazing in the evening light, and then the sun dropped and I was suddenly chilled. Didn’t finish. The mower ran out of fuel, and I refilled it, but it wouldn’t start so I walked up to the house to get some grain for the cows to lead them to another pasture so that they couldn’t rub on the mower. Herbie hates them rubbing on anything.
Herbie was already sleep, of course, it was 10pm ! Didn’t get to see him today.
But the mower started when I got back so I gave the cows the grain and then drove back to the house. Tomorrow I do it all again.
On Monday, the cows went walk-about. I’d just make my cup of Earl Grey tea when my phone rang, my cows were about a mile from home !! I loaded a bucket of grain on the buggy, and went to fetch them. Bringing them back was interesting as I didn’t know where they’d gotten out so didn’t know where they’d left the property. They ducked down a drive past some fields of corn, and I followed / chased them towards the farm. They were exhausted ! Especially Thor. He was panting and drooling. Got them into our woods, but Thor was dragging so I went back to shoo him, and promptly lost the 4 Jerseys. Well, at least they were on our property.
Herbie called while I was onfoot, trying to find the grain bucket that I’d put down to entice the cows. I drove to the house to get water and a hat and then went back to find the cows. Herbie walked out and got behind them, moving them towards the pasture. But once again, Thor was dragging so Herbie stayed behind him while I shoo’d the Jerseys into our hayfield.
Opened the gate from the hayfield into the pasture, and the Jerseys actually ran into the pasture. But not Thor, he headed towards the woods on the other side of the hayfield. Herbie closed the gate and said I should take the buggy and go find Thor. Couldn’t find him, although there was a fresh cow poop pile. Told Herbie that he wouldn’t go far and that I had to go find where they got out and fix fences, I couldn’t waste time trying to find Thor.
All together, from when I left to go find them until I had the fences whole and electrified, it was 7 hours. But, the fences were good and my cows were home, although it took 4 tries before eventually getting Thor in with the others.
And today, Gus was on the back lawn again. The little shit hops under the fencing, even being shocked in the process. He’s not our only escape artist either, Rose, the black ewe, keeps getting out the sheep enclosure, and I can’t find where she’s getting out. She spent last night in the back yard, I let her back in this morning.
Driving behind the cows, I had a good opportunity to inspect both heifers’ udders. Nothing on Bobbin, but JuneBug looks as if there is a little growth. Bobbin was supposed to calve in May, when I bought her I was told she was vet-confirmed due in May. She has never looked pregnant to me, but thought it was possible for the calf to be in the birthing position in April and therefore not visible anymore.
Have a 2nd lot of guinea fowl eggs in the incubator, only 1 keet hatched from my first attempt out of 41 eggs ! Need to candle them, it’s day 5. Also have 2 hens sitting on eggs in the chicken house.
Although the photos didn’t load in the order I chose, we went from drab brown in April, to snow, and then the greening started in May. Spring in Michigan - Herbies’ favourite colour green.
Tonight I still have a bit of green staining on the soles of my feet from the grass, clover, alfalfa, dandelions and various other green things commonly called weeds that I weedy whacked in the berry garden this afternoon. Unfortunately, I whacked the rhubarb plant, but there is a few leaves still so it should survive. Looks as if I may have lost 4 or 5 blueberry bushes to the Winter cold, and the lemon verbena hasn’t resprouted and one of my medicinal herbs didn’t make it either, but I’m not sure what it was. Will have to check my records. Looks as if the witch hazel did make it, and 2 others, but I didn’t check for their name tags.
It was a cooler day after the bit of warmth we had last week. I was up before Herbie this morning, I woke at 5:30am and couldn’t fall asleep again, so started the day early on 4 hours sleep. It was our 9th wedding anniversary on Friday, and Herbie came downstairs all showered and shaved this morning, thinking I was going to surprise him with breakfast at a great place. I wasn’t, but we found a great place in Ada, we enjoyed it so much, although it was too cold to sit on the patio, that we made dinner reservations for Saturday. We invited Jackie and Gary to go with us.
Herbie spent hours cleaning Noddy, hand polished him nogal, so that we can put him up for sale. I really, really want to keep him, but Herbie said he can’t cut grass or make hay, so he has to go !!
I got stuck into my berry garden after walking Teri through it pointing out the herbs that came back up, and picking some asparagus spears for her to eat. She brought me a new mosquito plant and bought a lot of eggs, and I dug up an elderberry foundling seeing as the slips I gave her last time don’t seem to be doing too well. Hope this one grows. It should as I got a nice chunk of root with it. She also took a bit of marjoram and lemon balm with some roots to grow in her garden back in Chicago.
Marcela and Michael came for some maple syrup, soup bones and eggs, bringing their grand daughter who enjoyed the various animals.
I’ve planted some annuals in Maddies’ Garden after weeding and adding soil, so it’s looking prettyish. Need more seedlings, as well as a layer of farm compost over the new soil. I had 2 dump-truck loads of topsoil delivered. They couldn’t get the truck up our driveway, and Herbie didn’t want it going over the tunnel, so I spoke to Sue and had it dumped at the bottom of our driveway and then I brought it up, bucket load by bucket load, with our big tractor. Re-seeded her lawn and put straw over it to protect it from birds and erosion. I’ve spread most of it in our backyard as the path to the chicken house was sticking out about 2” which makes the tractor want to slip when there’s ice and snow on the ground. Still have to re-seed ours, but need to dig out the electric cable to the chicken house as it hasn’t worked for the last 2 years first. It already looks much better, Herbie congratulated me, although the geese have made another pond or two already. I can see all the plantain coming up, very little grass. Oy, animals are hard on the land !!
Hopefully I can cut hay this week. I walked across the hayfield on Friday after unsuccessfully looking for morels again, and the grass is already forming seed heads. But it rained today, and more is expected tomorrow and Tuesday, so maybe I can cut on Tuesday afternoon. We upgraded ¾ of our haying equipment. A 2005 haybine, a newish circular hay rake, and a brand new tedder, which should shorten the drying time by a day or two. Herbie took a loan against his 401K, but we couldn’t afford to include a round baler, but did manage to get a hay wagon. With us being down to 5 cows, well, 2 hopefully preggers Jersey heifers, 2 Jersey bulls, one not yet a year old, and our last remaining Scottish Highland yearling bull - beef for next year, maybe I can bale enough of our own hay for the Winter so we don’t have to buy. Will still have to pay Mike to bale for us, but that’s 80% cheaper than buying in.
I have gem squash seeds sprouting, thank you Susan and Jilian, and perhaps some of the 3 kinds of tomato seeds I’ve started are showing signs of sprouting. Herbie was enticed to grow leaf lettuce on a windowsill by one of his work colleagues, although I’m actually doing the work ! Seems the be a new thing on the farm - Herbie says what he would like, and I’m expected to execute. Well the lettuce is already about 2” tall, and I need to thin them out which is amazing as I’ve never been able to grow lettuce previously. But I need to re-fence the berry garden to keep the poultry out before I can plant anything delicious 😋. I bought a 330’ roll of sheep and goat fence, but it’s not enough to fence the whole veggie garden, plus I have to design and make poultry-proof gates too, but it may be enough for the berry garden.
For a late lunch today, I heated the leftovers from the FrankenChicken I roasted yesterday, with Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, red and sweet onion, garlic cloves and lots of carrots, although I forgot there were peas too. Saw them on Herbies’ plate a little later.
Going to try catch some zzzzs, goodnight 😴.
Bloody cows. Seemingly Ginger is on heat. She broke the fence post to get out, Eleanor and JuneBug followed. There are hoof prints in the snow all over the farm, before they broke in to the boys. And Tony nursed on Eleanor until she was empty. Fortunately I already poured 2-gallons for todays’ herdshare owner yesterday, but will have to wait for her to fill up for their last gallon. Fixed the lower barn enclosure first, and all the cows left the boys pasture while I was busy doing that, so had cows running all over the place. Eleanor, JuneBug and Oliver, our Jersey bull, went to the lower barn enclosure, the 4 calves were running around. Closed those 3 in the lower barn enclosure and fixed the fence to the boys pasture. The one gate post is broken, the ground is frozen so I can’t make a new hole for a new post, nor can I smack a metal one in to support it. Used offcuts of the old bridge wood to make a tripod around the bottom to stabilize it, restrung the wire, replaced the gate handles. Hours of work in the sub-zero weather, fell in the snow, all because 1 heifer was horny !!
Put grain in the milk parlour, got Eleanor and JuneBug in and closed the door. Opened the gate so Oliver could leave. Eventually got Oliver and Thor out on the back snow, but Ginger with Tony and Gus, went in the lower barn enclosure. Closed the gate as Ginger needs to stay, the 2 boys must leave, chased them around, Ginger jumped the temp fence into the other side of the the enclosure, leaving the 2 boys. But I had to go around them to re-open the gate, and then chase them through, Tony went out, Gus turned back and then Ginger jumped back, so I quickly realised the gate. At least I had Eleanor and Tony separated.
Doing the last 50 lbs of canning meat today. It’s a lot of work, but means wonderful quick and easy meals in the future. Pop a jar open, add potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and garlic, and a roux for gravy, serve on mashed potatoes or rice and I have dinner on the table in 15 minutes. Or shred it with 2 forks and add BBQ sauce for pulled beef, an American favourite. Or just eat it straight from the jar. It’s tender and delicious. Nice thing about the long canning time is it breaks down any connective tissue or skin.
Pack the jars as full as I can, then put in a cold canner with cold water and a little vinegar. Put the lid on, and bring it to the boil. Once the steam is shoosting out the top valve, time it for 10 minutes, then put the 10 lb weight on top of the valve. Once it’s jiggling nicely, turn the heat down, and start the timer for 90 minutes. Then turn the gas off and let the canners sit a little, then remove the valves. It will be noisy, and you can hear the liquid boiling inside the jars. Once it stops, twist the lids off and using the canning jar lifter, carefully take the jars out, and put them in a warm place and wrap with towels. Leave for at least 24 hours. You start hearing the lids popping as they seal, and then they unseal, and seal again. It’s kitchen music :). I have struggled to get the bands off 7 of the jars I did last night, although all the ones I did last week, 40 quarts, came off after putting them upside down in hot water. Didn’t work for these 7 :(. I’ll try again later. It’s not recommended to store them with the bands on, as if the seal fails, the band holds it in place and you don’t know the food is rotting until you smell it :(. Then hunting down the faulty one is difficult. Same reason you don’t stack the jars on top of each other. Temperature changes can even make the jars re-seal if the band is holding it tightly, then you can get sick eating it.
Then write the contents and date on the lids, and place them all carefully on the shelves. Pleased that none of the jars broke this time, I lost 4 the first go around. The meat was too cold and cracked their bottoms off in the canners. This time, I was careful about cold meat, cold canners and cold water. Takes a bit longer, but works out better.
Chad, Herbies’ son-in-law and Nick, (Chads’ boss) came to get some beef this morning. 130 lbs of hamburger, and 70 lbs of steak. Isn’t that just like Murphy ? I struggle for 8 years to find a market for our very lean, grass-fed beef, and a few months after selling the beef cows. So will keep Tony, Eleanors’ half Scottish Highland boy from September 2017 and probably the pure Scottish Highland boy, Thor, from Spring 2017 for butchering in 1½ or so years. And it was enough money to cover the butchering / processing costs, plus a little extra. Thank you :).
Also have a gallon of yoghurt draining, and about 2 gallons of milk in the bucket where I added culture and rennet, maybe mozzarella ?
Tuesday, Daisy May goes to auction. Sad to see her go, but she’s down to 2 teats, and is no longer financially viable for the farm. I went and looked at a replacement cow last week, but she was smaller than JuneBug, and wasn’t polled. I’d specifically asked if she was polled (no horns) and the young girl said yes, and then when I looked at her, she said they had burned her little horns off. She also had bad ringworm around both eyes. I researched it as I’ve not had ringworm here before, and although they seemingly grow out of it, it’s very contagious to other calves - and I have 4 calves here. I just didn’t want to deal with another issue. So am waiting for JuneBug to calve. Not sure when she’s due, but she hasn’t been on heat for a few months, so here’s hoping. Then I still need to sell Ginger. She’s also ½ Scottish Highland ½ Jersey, but she’s an escape artist, so I’ll put her up for sale instead of growing her for butcher. Then we’ll be down to 1 milk cow, 1 pregnant heifer, 1 bull, and the 3 boy calves. Will also have to sell Gus, the pure Jersey boy as I can’t use him to breed-back his mothers’ niece, Eleanor, or his ½ sister, JuneBug.
Have taste-tested the first batch of biltong, not bad, but I added more salt to the spice mix for the 2nd lot which is curing now
as I like it a little saltier and should hang it tonight or tomorrow. The brown sugar was hard so I zooped it in the zoop zoop machine and I think it made it too fine which threw off the balance of curing spices. I didn’t have more coriander to add so just adjusted the salt. The tunnel is full of water and I worry about the moisture level in the basement for this next batch.
Just had to move the 7 quart jars from the one canner which wouldn’t hold a seal for this 2nd batch. It worked great for the 1st one, so put the Brazilian canner, a Rochedo by Maitre’s, to work. It has a different valve system, but is a nice canner. I couldn’t get it to hold a seal last week, but today it’s working well. I have 4 usable canners, 3 will hold 7 quart jars each, or 14 pint jars, while the 4th one is shorter, and will only take 7 pint jars. The quart jars are too tall to fit 7, can only fit 4, but as the stove can only hold 2 canners at a time, I don’t use that one if I’m processing quart jars.
First time I’ve done tallow. Got 2 hanks of leaf fat from around the kidneys of other beef that was processed. Rendered it in the oven at 250 degrees over 3 days. Gave the remnants to the dogs, cats and chickens. Only processed 1 of them, plan on grating some of the other one to make droëwors. Me likee a bit of fat in my droëwors. Have enough tallow to make soap as well as having grease for frying / baking / whatever.
So it’s been a productive time for me here on the farm. With the weather expected to rise to the high 30s this week, I’m thinking about my greenhouse and starting seedlings. But first, I need to do the bloody taxes :(.
Just checked, still 40 minutes of processing time to go.
Marmalade is sick again. She pee’d and pooped in the house this week, so she’s no longer allowed to stay inside. Cleaning up after beasties is not on my agenda !! I let her eat inside, as the other cats, and the dogs, steal her food, but then I turf her out. She still walks wonky, and I put her down carefully as she doesn’t land on her feet if I chuck her.