“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Regional Trail Corporation (RTC) Retreat

Hannah Hardy, President of RTC and Peggy Pings from the National Park Service.
Yesterday evening and today, I spent my time with a group of really dedicated trail enthusiasts at workshops and brainstorming sessions. I'm putting a little slide show in the right column for a few days in your honor. Enjoy!
I was invited by Malcolm Sias from Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation to attend and learn. I am hoping in the future, the Ligonier Valley Trail will become part of the RTC, but we have work to do before we get there.
I want to say hello to a few people that I have met over the five years with the Ligonier Township Recreation Board, and thank them for their continued interest and support. Also I met a few new folks that I hope to consider friends as we work to similar goals in the future.

As to my dream of someday having a trail through the gorge between Latrobe and Ligonier, these are samples of a solution used in Collinsville, CT.
Farminton Valley Greenway: http://www.fvgreenway.org/

If you are coming to visit SW Pennsylvania, as I want all of you to do, please take a look at these sites and their links for fun things to do around here.



Soon, I am hoping to have a blog dedicated to information on the Ligonier Valley Trail. It'll be on my blog list, and hopefully the Ligonier Living blog when I get it rolling. It will be full of information, pictures and links to get our trail built and used. I'll move the slide show there too!
Stay Tuned!!

Fine Weather Day

Yesterday was another one of those Mark Twain days - just wait a minute.

Can you tell what time of day? 11:37AM

If you are wondering when that bench is going to get picked up, so am I. Its been frozen to the ground since we got the ice on Wednesday.

Fifteen minutes before, it was almost sunny and I was gearing up to get a load of firewood from the barn, and then go work out a little. You know I need it.

I was all dressed up and suddenly the wind was howling again, and I couldn't see the end of the path to get there.
My little tractor art was whipping away, but hung in there.
After the snow dumped a couple of inches and filled in the areas that I had just cleared, I decided it wasn't worth trying to get out or get the wood. Soon enough, the sun came out to make it all look so pretty, but you can see the wind was still rearranging things.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Terrible Towels

This is such a worthy story, I posted it on two blogs this morning.
For those of you who are not Steelers fans, you might be able to share the love and buy one of these towels for the cause anyway. I think I see a few becoming gifts. I saw the Division Championship ones that are glitzed up.

Any orders out there?

For Terrible Towels, a Wonderful Legacy

"Myron Cope left behind something far more personal than a legacy of terrycloth, a battle flag for a city and its team. In 1996, he handed over the trademark to the Terrible Towel to the Allegheny Valley School. It is a network of campuses and group homes across Pennsylvania for people with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. It receives almost all the profits from sales of the towels."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Vegetable Garden on the White House Grounds?

Good news for the sustainable food movement and maybe everyone.

There's a new chef at the White house, Sam Kass, who has a private chef service in Chicago that, according to its Web site, is the client’s “link to clean, healthy food...”, "cooking and shopping “mainly from local farms” and buying wines from “small sustainable wineries”.

Lets see if it really happens.

The rest of the story here.

Newest White House Chef Knows the Obamas’ Tastes

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Wait a Few Minutes

So this is my excuse for not getting anything out the past few days, but the very popular "Henrietta".
The weather.
I don't mind cold and snow, but this is nasty.

We had gotten more snow last night and then freezing rain on top of that. This morning, the dog, in his haste to do the morning duties, could hardly get moving again, once he stopped himself from wiping out on the ice. He looked over his shoulder with those whites of his eyes showing, trying to get me to help. All I could do was tell him "Hurry Up!". He did. Right there. Within four steps of the kitchen door. Not normally tolerated, but Border Collies don't know how to go slow, so in his confusion of trying to go slow, he just went.

Realizing that the dog's forty and a few pounds wasn't cracking through the ice layer, I worried about the little crazies trying to go outside and decided it was too risky. I was intending to let the adults out because the temperature had gotten above freezing, but then the sleety junk became rain. Then a downpour.
So I ended up spending an hour in the barn for goat lunch and recess. It was going to be ridiculous to take them, their grain and hay out. They would gobble the grain, a little hay and then stand in the shed all day. Half the hay would get wet and wasted. Inside, they enjoyed the hour, milling around, and then starting to get into things they shouldn't. That's when it was back into the stalls for the afternoon.

The Pussy Willow is not usually so windswept looking.
That would be the severe gusts bending it over.
Today's weather reminded me of the Mark Twain quote, "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes".

At about 4 o'clock it was as dark as sunset. I had to check the time thinking it was time to feed the goats. Then more snow came and the wind was sucking it up into tornadoes and sending it down and across the fields.Next the wind started pounding and whistling. It was candle lighting time. Not for religious purposes, but it always seems that this kind of weather is where a tree or a car takes out a power line. Just like to be ready. Plus I like candles.

When I was double checking the quote, I found another fitting one for today.
"Shut the door. Not that it lets in the cold but that it lets out the cozyness."- Mark Twain's Notebook

And this is a great, humorous piece if you have the time to read it.
New England Weather
By Mark Twain
Speech delivered at the New England Society's Seventy-First Annual Dinner, New York City, Dec. 22, 1876.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I think my hens saw this and got to work.
The eggs are rolling in.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Solar Energizing

The girls depend on the grain and hay these days.
We must have gotten a foot of snow in the past week.

The sun came out and it looked pretty, but the wind made the temp feel like single digits.

The snow has drifted in the lanes, and its pretty tough to walk the dog in the fields.

The kids stayed in and did sprints across the barn.

You can see they have room to get going. And they do!
They go up as much as they go forward.

Do these pictures look surreal??
The cats know how to take advantage of some sun.

They spent it in the shelter of the mud room porch, soaking up the heat.
I finally got the lane clean and the solar power started to melt the rest.
Of course after a warm day tomorrow, more cold and snow on the week-end, but at least the Ice Festival will have good weather.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Now That Its Warm - Snow

Again, cold and warm are relative based on recent experience.

Midday - 26 degrees.

The goats are all out, but its getting thick with snow, and they are all hunkered in the sheds. The babies were out, but they're in for a while. We'll see what the afternoon brings.
Dave put the blade on to drag the lane. I hand shoveled the past weeks when it snowed, but its laying on what was left from a couple days ago after it drifted back to where I had cleared it.
Luckily, the tire that has been to the garage twice this year to de-thorn it and patch the inner tube, was still inflated today. The guys did the last one "on the house" since we hadn't gone out of the barn with it, and they were not really busy. I waited and they kidded that the tube would soon just be a big patch. Someday maybe the mowing and goats will eliminate the thorns in the fields and we won't be giving them as much business. Meanwhile they expect me back and I'm sure they're right.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cold- Its All Relative

Ya know its been COLD when 13 degrees ABOVE feels warm. Today was 13 BELOW when I got up and dinnertime was 26 degrees warmer.

The whole barn was frolicking in the temperature boost tonight. The kids were running to all corners of the stalls and barn, as we were feeding, watering and mucking. It was a circus. But it was good to see everyone perky and full of life again.

Then the cats must have been having a hey day in the upper barn chasing each other, or maybe chasing mice?? Their thundering over our heads made us stop and look up, till we figured out it had to be cats - not goats.

Cooperation in the Warming Barrel...Its REALLY Cold...-14 this morning

To warm up the goats, I tried an experiment with warm oatmeal, apples, and Karo this morning. Pretty much a failure. Mia, the cat, licked the bowl though. At least someone appreciates my efforts.
As we were feeding and cleaning this morning, bit by bit, Snickers crept closer to the warming barrel. Word was, she was in there alone yesterday when Claire came in for the horse.It took lots of turning and fidgeting. I think that Snickers was really nervous about getting challenged. Mom (Layla) usually does, but she was busy eating.
I think her cuddling and cleaning woke them up and they actually licked back. I don't think they realized who it was.

Body heat is heat, no matter who is sharing...



So adorable all the kissing and cuddling.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kids Day Out

Actually, Layla and the kids got some fresh air for about an hour till the clouds came back, and the wind and snow started again. The warmer barrel in the barn has been off most of the time now, since the kids stopped using it after the first week. They only went in when we closed them into their "jug". We haven't done that for three nights now. Left to their own choice, they sleep behind the creep feeder barrier in the corner. I think they must like the tight space. Its the only place they ever sleep. When you go to pick one up, they are all sweaty. I don't think its been much above freezing since they were born, but they have nice warm coats, and they keep each other cozy.
Layla was very happy to be outside and eating some fresh growth, even if it might not be too green. By the wall there was enough to keep her busy for a while. Goats are less choosy this time of year. The kids gave it a try also.



In the next video, watch for Trini hopping over Neo like it was nothing.

They are two weeks old tomorrow.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Racing Home to the Barn

Well, the kids became very shy, and before I could get any video of them, the rest of the herd was coming in early. Steelers are on! Playoffs. (They won)

So this is part of the evening routine.

Uno ALWAYS shoves her way to the front of the line for the gate and bolts to the barn first. I guess Uno is a good name for her. She's the spotted one.

At the hay rack, notice that families end up together by the time they shuffle from side to side. Zola claims one side (the left today) and the only one that can be with her without getting butted is her daughter Uno.

VIDEO Of The Girls Coming In To The Barn

Good Goat Medicine

The kids were tearing through the barn this morning like little maniacs. They've learned about running fast now. I have to get the video camera out. Watching them play is just great medicine to lower the blood pressure.

Speaking of good medicine...

My "Goat Mentor" Shirley, sent me an article this morning that I found fascinating. I thought someone out there might find it interesting also.

FDA weighs approval of anti-clotting drug from milk of genetically engineered goats
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer 9:12 PM PST, January 7, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — You've heard of making cheese from goats' milk, but prescription drugs?In what would be a scientific first, an anti-clotting drug made from the milk of genetically engineered goats moved closer to government approval Wednesday after experts at the Food and Drug Administration reported that the medication works and its safety is acceptable.

Called ATryn, the drug is intended to help people with a rare hereditary disorder that makes them vulnerable to life-threatening blood clots.

Its approval would be a major step toward new kinds of medications made not from chemicals, but from living organisms genetically manipulated by scientists. Similar drugs could be available in the next few years for a range of human ailments, including hemophilia.

ATryn was developed by a Massachusetts biotechnology company, GTC Biotherapeutics, by altering the genes of goats so they would produce milk rich in antithrombin, a protein that in humans acts as a natural blood thinner.

About 1 in 5,000 people don't produce enough of the protein, putting them at risk of developing blood clots in their veins. Such clots can be extremely painful. If they break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs or the brain, the consequences can be catastrophic. Pregnant women with the disorder are at high risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, because of blood clots in the placenta.

In their everyday lives, patients with antithrombin deficiency are managed with conventional blood thinners. That would not change. ATryn is for use only when patients are undergoing surgery or having a baby, times when the risk of dangerous clots is particularly high. Those patients would receive the drug by intravenous infusion for a limited time before and after their procedures.

Karen Janes of Santa Fe, N.M., whose teenage daughter Mary Karen died of a brain clot linked to the disorder, said the issue is whether the drug works, not how it is made.

"I think this goat thing is just wonderful," said Janes. "I do want this drug to go through all the rigors of testing by the FDA. But if it can work, and it can save other families from what we went through, I think that's marvelous." Her daughter died in 1998.

Scientific advisers to the FDA will weigh the risks and benefits of ATryn at a meeting Friday, and make a recommendation on approval. The FDA will make the final decision.

"It's the first time we've held an advisory committee meeting on any product from a genetically engineered animal," said FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey. If the drug is approved, the FDA may require follow-up monitoring to make sure that patients' immune systems don't start making antibodies in reaction to the medication.

"I think this is an important tipping point," said Geoffrey Cox, chairman of GTC, the drug maker. "The real dramatic thing that is happening here is that we've been able to reduce some very clever science to the practical level of producing a drug that's safe and efficacious. Those things aren't trivial.

"To make the drug, scientists at GTC put DNA for the human antithrombin protein into single cell embryos of goats. Goat embryos with the gene were then inserted into the wombs of surrogate mothers who gave birth to baby goats carrying the new trait.

The first of these goats were called the "founders." Their offspring also carry the gene. The females produce high levels of antithrombin in their milk, from which the protein is collected and purified.

GTC's production comes from a herd of about 200 goats on a farm in central Massachusetts, milked twice a day. They look no different from any other goats.

Up to now, antithrombin has been produced from blood products collected from human donors. Making the protein from goats may be better for humans, said Dr. Stephan Moll, a hematologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who consults for the company. It would ensure a steady supply and reduce concerns about infection.

"It's a new mechanism by which drugs could be produced in pretty large volume in the future," said Moll, who is also a top medical adviser to the National Alliance for Thrombosis and Thrombofilia, a group that represents patients with the blood disorder.

ATryn has already been approved in Europe

___On the Net:GTC site - http://tinyurl.com/9n36pe

Friday, January 9, 2009

At the Water Warmer (Cooler)

Its not impossible to give every animal all the equipment they need: hay racks, heated buckets, food and mineral dispensers, but it sure gets expensive, so we trade things around depending on where things are needed most. Also the work involved. Sometimes hauling water on a cold day is a mess. I end up spilling it down my boot just about every time because I try to walk too fast. So we leave the heated bucket out and hope the regular plastic pail doesn't freeze overnight inside the middle of the barn. Things stay warm surprising longer there, but now that we are into the mid 20's its not going to make it till morning. Layla and the twins have the second electric bucket. With her nursing, she needs it most.

The chickens, cats - and sometimes the dog, have the little warmer in the first stall. Because they are close to the outside and the half door is open, their water freezes to a block as soon as its below 32 degrees. The cats have all their own feeders and bowls in the upper barn, but we haven't tried to keep up with the water in weeks. They figured out quickly, to come down to the heated buckets or catch the water at the kitchen door before it freezes.

( I say heated feeders instead of buckets in the video- its cold! Can't think. Can't you hear me sniffle?)

Notice Mia the cat has one eye on the chickens at all times. You never know when they are going claim territory.

That's snow blowing in. Severe weather alert for tonight and tomorrow I guess.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Trinity and Neo - Eight Days Old

Trinity and Neo playing in the barn this morning. Neo is the white faced twin.

Love how they hop and bounce.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Good Clean Fun!

Pictured here is Leslie Bangor at piano. The girl's got talent.
I got to meet Liggy Girl and I think we may be kindred spirits. She can also tickle those ivories!
Marianne McCauliffe on her native American flute got me thinking about playing the old recorder - the instrument- not the gadget!!
I missed some of the other talent, but was lured by the microphone to read my five year old poem written at the kitchen sink, "Gun Toting Woman".

The last of my Yuengling. Ah!

Trinity Can Jump

Soon they will hop this step and get out, but right now it seems too overwhelming.
Both come and lean and look and go back in the stall to play.
Trinity has figured out how to hop on the sill, but Neo is still trying to haul himself up and its not working. She kicks her heels already when she hops down. Its comical.
Layla is trying to show how.
These are their blocks to hop and balance on.
Layla likes it too.
Its too amazing to see what these animals do at almost a week old.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More Barn Work

In the ongoing improvements to the barn we added a light to the corner of the barn that faces the new fenced fields.
Yep, its just a light, but when the terrain changes with every thaw and freeze, its the difference between an ankle twisting or not. You can do some serious damage to a toe when a horse divot freezes and you step in it or kick it. Its fancy enough footwork in the daytime with the mud and ice.
We bring the goats in every night and we try to maximize their time outside because the days are so short. Sometimes work and other life occurrences don't get us out before dark, so it gets a little tricky getting the girls in. A flash light would work on the way to the gates, but not on the way in. There's usually a tub or bucket to carry. Shutting gates sometimes takes two hands.
It will be nice to be able see where we are going beyond the glow from inside the barn.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sunny Day Out for Neo and Trinity.

I promised a clip when the kids got outside for the first time. It was a little breezy and cool for them but they got to explore a little. They weren't too hoppy when I shot this. They had just been napping in the sun together, and too curious about being outside and the new things to try and taste.

Remember they are only four days old tonight. But you can see how independent they are becoming. Layla doesn't like it when they split up. A lot of talking and calling.

I went to my usual name sites and I start with African names because the Boer goat breed is from South Africa. I found the name Neo, meaning gift. Also more popular because of the Matrix movies, which we enjoyed. So I said out loud, "What other names are in that movie?" "Trinity" was the answer. "Perfect!" was my answer. You see I have come up with naming the females numerically. Uno was first. Twee, African meaning "two" was next. So Trinity was meant to be with Neo.

Did you know Layla means "dark beauty" in Swahili and is a character in an Arabic/Persian legend? Eric Clapton did.

Neo and Trinity's First Day Out VIDEO

Friday, January 2, 2009


After a severely long cholesterol free barn, the hens started the New Year right with an egg a day. We got the new hens in October and they haven't helped us out since then. I hope this is a new trend as the days start to get longer. I broke down and put a light on a timer in the hen stall to get them going. They need 11 hours a day so the morning jump start seems to be working.

Looks like eggs are back on the menu.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


We finally got it together and had a few people over for a Penn State game. Good food, good fans - dressing the part in blue and white- but the team couldn't do it today. Thank goodness for good company though.

Congratulations Len and Lisa! Beautiful ring!