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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Winter Farm Fashion

Yesterday it rained a cold rain, and then it got windy and colder, till the sleet showed up late last night. Then this morning - ARGH!- the snow was back. So I got my wardrobe bulked up again and put on my specially crafted hat and stomped to the barn looking like a hobo - as usual!

After a winter's worth of experience, I though I'd share some knowledge, and take notes for myself for next winter.
These are my favorite work pants. They are sort of wannabe Carharts, but they are Dickies, are tough, and they fit me perfectly. Actually, I think I look darn good in 'em!! I sort of get tired of jeans sometimes, so I was really glad when I picked these up. Decently warm, and I can fit my silk long underwear under them for those sub-zero days. Very important.

A lot of the other days I wear my old running tights or sweats. The tights look thin, but they are really very warm, AND they are easy to step into the boots with. Also important.

Easier to wash too. You got it - important.
This is one of three outfits from yesterday that were drying on door knobs.
I was going to call this Farm Gal Fashion, but then I realized, there is no real difference in the Gals and Guys when it comes to dressing to go out or to the barn, especially in the colder weather.

This is the "Hat and Hoodie" layering style. A cap can be substituted.
What it does require is layering, to stay warm, but not sweat, and also the ability to move. It is a science. The first thing required is the temperature check to know how many and how thick the layers. Then you calculate frozen or mud for the socks and shoes. When in doubt - boots.
The other two dripping sets of clothes soaked from the rain.
My uniform three quarters of the year is this blue vest. Its got huge pockets that hold dog treats, corn, medicine, seeds, the dog's shocker, eggs, and a Kleenex in season.
Then comes a hat of some sort, depending on temperature and wind conditions, or my trusty 30-year-old "Ear Muffins" from my sister-in-law Becky. Yep - still have 'em Becky. I'm not a hat person in "real life", but I am in the barn. The blue and white hat is a specialty item knitted by my mom. I itch from wool, but it is the warmest in winter and still breathes. So finally I asked my mom to knit me a hat with a wool top, but cotton around my ears and face. Eureka!! Warm and no itchy forehead.
Work gloves have to be loose enough to let your fingers move in the freezing weather or you will be walking around with your hands in your pockets. No pockets?? Arm pits. Either way, kind of hard to work like that. You're done.
Earlier this February on a forty-ish day I'd guess - gloves are off.
Critical are shoes or boots that can deal with mud, cold and poop. If your feet get wet or cold, the rest doesn't matter. Additionally, shoes that don't need to be touched to put them on are a big plus in my book, and yet they must not be loose and rub you to blisters. You really get to recognize the perfect boot, and when you find it, you don't care what color it is, especially if you can get a good deal on them. For example, those purple boots. According to our township supervisor Tim, they are pink. He does like to make fun of "those pink boots". I'll let you decide. Purple - right?
It is going to take a lot for me to ever throw those out. I bought them the last week-end in March on a clearance sale at Bob's in Simsbury, CT lots of years ago. They are felt lined, but all I wanted was something waterproof to deal with the spring mud in the back "duck pond". Little did I know how warm they were going to be, especially that very next week on April Fools Day when we had a state-closing blizzard. Those purple boots were the smartest move then.
This is NOT a barn hat. This is my Saturday go to meeting, game or auction hat.
I'd be dressed up if I'm wearing this.
So if you see me in town and I'm in old jeans, a turtleneck and fleece vest, know that I dressed UP for you !

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gray Spring Day

Even with a gray sky and brown grass, the farm looks beautiful to me. With the occasional steady rain the past couple of days, I found the inclination to get some more seeds going.
These are some of the pepper, eggplant and tomatoes that I got started above the wood stove heat about a month ago. Now they are under the under-cupboard kitchen counter lights. There are a few more seedlings upstairs in the cooler bedroom, along with artichokes. Those are probably more trouble then they are worth, but I want to give it another try and get them in the hoop house sooner this time.
I finally got my Burpee order in, although I took a chance and got two orders of raspberries that will ship later. My mom has been bugging me to get some other varieties so I did - Fallgold and Heritage. This time I had better choose their placement more wisely. The last raspberries were encroached on by gardens, fences, and then passing goats.
I wanted to try a couple different peppers and tomatoes. I had some almost seedless yellow tomatoes last year that were very tasty and great for slicing, so I am trying the new seedless hybrid. I also wanted to get the little currant sized HoneyBunch tomatoes last year and they ran out of seeds. The supply lasted for me this year, so lets see if they are as good as they say. I hope this isn't a late start. I had half this order together a month ago, but I knew we would be away when I was warming the seed trays, so I started some store bought and leftover seeds that I liked on those days I needed some dirt on my hands.
I tries those little "inflatable" pots that you add water too, but apart from being fun to watch for the first five minutes, I'm not too impressed. The germination has not seemed particularly good either.
At least the chives are coming in strong and fast. I'd better start using them in some crepes or soup. It'll be nice to be able to step out the kitchen door and snip some bits of fresh green for dinner.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Garden Clean Up Is Tiring I Guess?

This morning was still pretty cold even though the sun is bright and strong.
Noon and 36 degrees F.
I am making these observations because I am trying to figure out why the goats are lying around and not browsing like they usually do till their mid afternoon nap time.
Zola has an excuse for being lazy
- she looks like she's carrying a family in that belly
- due April 23.
About as soon as I finished my chores and walked away, they all started to lie down and nap. They are still lying around. This is unusual.

Finally got the piles of stakes and markers out of the fenced garden. We can till now.
The only thing I can come up with is that they wore themselves out eating yesterday. We let them into the vegetable garden and they had a great time cleaning up anything coming up green, as well as some of the dry left overs that didn't get pulled out before the snow and freeze last Fall. It was a feeding frenzy for new green growth.

Sunday afternoon cleaning the garden
Could it be that its like the day after you've been out to a great restaurant for a wonderful meal and you eat too much? You carry it around the next day in your gut, and all you want to do is nap. Or did they discover the catnip that was poking up? I hope they snap out of it soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Two Headed Goat

An amazing secret has been hiding at the farm.
If you look in the middle of the photograph, you will see the sight that caught my eye today.
Admittedly I was tired, and my feet and back were sore, but don't you see it too?
Leaning against the bucket?
Our two headed goat kid.
Maybe this will get us on with Letterman or Leno.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Turkey Vultures

This is a very odd sign of spring that we "enjoy" for about a month On the Pond. They even do some fishing on warmer days.

I was told the last full moon was the "Worm Moon" because now the night crawlers come out. Never heard that before.

So in tune with weird signs of spring, here is my video.

Enjoy all the bird song too.


When it gets warmer, I don't know where they go or what they do, but this will be a daily ritual for a month or more.

Sorry we didn't tidy the burn pile!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day

Growing up as a kid in England, and going to Catholic schools since 5th grade in Lancaster, PA, I swear I knew all about St. Patrick. Someone needs to refresh my memory.

This fellow was celebrating in Buckhorn, PA

But we are celebrating with green, and that I know.
We celebrate with green everyday at the farm.
Here are a few pictures from the week-end road trip that I can green your day with.

The Sustainable Home, MorningStar Pennsylvania.
From the Solar Decathlon 2007 competition.
At University Park, PA
Flamig Farm in Simsbury, CT - gone solar.
Its a dream I have for this place.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beautiful Spotted Things

We visited two other farms yesterday to see their goats, and get ideas from their goat operation.
The first farm had 70-80 kids born in February and March.
Oh my goodness!
The blur of movement.
Both farms were dairy oriented and had Nubian goats as part of their stock, and I love the distinctly spotted ones. These were a little more subtle but beautiful.
The sire to the first farm's spots is "Gorgeous George".
Couldn't you take a couple of these home?
Remember, you can't have just one.
They are herd animals.
They would be so lonely unless you had another companion for them.
As we were leaving the first farm, I spotted this feather.I think its from the guinea hens that work clean-up there.
I'm totally fascinated by its colors and transparency.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I thought this was one we could enjoy.

The History of Aprons

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron but Love !!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Goat Spaghetti

Its a nice day and we've moved the electronet again.

There's really not that much to eat yet, but there are brambles galore where we've never grazed, and at this time of year, anything is good. And its not just for the big girls. The kids are going right at it too. This is when you see the value of a goat as a vegetation clearing machine. There is little they won't eat, and especially love these brambles and wild roses. I've also been bringing them white pine and bits of fir branches to clean up. Good treats till the spring brings some growth.

How long are these things anyway?
Pretty long, and they get you when you walk off the paths and across the fields. They grab your pant legs or just plain trip you. When you stumble across the field on these things, you'll be wanting a goat to come over and clean up for you. Poison ivy is no problem either.
Jock thinks they need a supervisor, and the goats give him distance and a little respect - except Uno.



Listen to those birds. The sound of spring.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Doing Shots

So far the worst part of having a herd of goats is the shots. I have to get myself all psyched up to do them. I think its because the very first one that I gave Uno, she got a huge knot from my nicking her muscle. It lasted for months. She lost her hair there. It was a mess, but now you can't tell it happened. Luckily for the goats, my technique has improved!!
I have learned sub-Q (subcutaneous - under the skin) or intramuscular when conversing with the vet. I also have straightened out in my head the gages of needles - the bigger the number the thinner the needle. Had that backwards for one purchase.
All of them get a CD&T vaccine (Clostridium Perfringes C&D Bactern-Toxoid with the Tetanus- Toxoid) every year, The babies get the vaccine at four to six weeks depending on if the mom got one a month before kidding. Then they get a booster three weeks later.
As of this weekend, the twins are up to date.
In about another month, I will have to give the pregnant girls a shot so that their kids will have the antibodies for the first few weeks until we give them their set of injections.
I get some of my information from the site below, and they do not vaccinate their goats. There is a lot of reference material as to why to vaccinate or not, in case you are interested.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Kids and Kids

The best part of kids is sharing them with kids.
This is Neo acting just like a goat and trying to eat the paper ski tag from Lillian's jacket.

There is nothing more fun then "people kids" seeing the farm and the babies and them learning to love the outdoors, even on a bitterly cold day.

Can you tell this was a cold one? This was at the end of January and maybe in the high teens?

Hard to smile when your face is frozen. What a great bunch!

It also was the day of the annual Ligonier Ice Fest. How lucky!

Check out the tools of the trade in case we get that cold snap tomorrow as forecasted. Yep! Single digits tomorrow. Yippee!

You know how they get the ice so crystal clear? Blow torch. Pretty cool to watch those flames work the ice in seconds, even on a cold one like this was.
This year it was so cold, the sculptures were still hanging in there the next weekend. A little thinner, but standing.
So next January its your turn.