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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

More White, More Work

Things start so quietly on these fresh snow days. Our snowed in "beach" is waiting for a hushed conversation to begin. A quiet celebration to the end of another year.
The iron bench becomes a frosted confection with big, false eyelashes.
The world in black and white.
The snow is heavier today, so the task takes longer. The kids should be able to create a snow man or two, finally.
We end again with plowing and shoveling, a job that will likely be repeated tomorrow, and many more times into 2010.

Be safe wherever you are, and have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Work While the Sun Shines, Even If Its Cold Out There

This past week-end, while extra hands were on deck, we tackled a couple of jobs that needed doing. We brought a 32 foot extension ladder into the house to clean the ceiling fan above the family room. When we took the glass lamp shades off to wash them, we put in new energy efficient bulbs. Might as well get everything done while the ladder is up.When the fences were put in last year, the gates were not put in tight enough for goats. The kids could squeeze through, but also the adult goats figured out how to get past the bungee cords that were used to try and tighten things up. Finally we moved the gates toward the latch side so they could be tightened better. What that means is that there is a large gap on the butt end of half of the gates that needs to be filled in with a post. We will be finishing that up on another, hopefully warmer, day.Andrew found one of the staples a challenge, but won the fight!After just barely keeping our White Christmas, the holiday and week-end washed away the snow. Monday morning we woke up to enough snow to warrant the tractor coming out to blaze a path. The rest of this week has brought plenty of snow, wind and cold, but its good to know that we have more than Fair Weather visitors.The neighbor's twin grand daughters arrived and came up to check on the kids.
They helped bring out the food and then gave each of the kids lots of personal attention.
They got down at kid level. Luckily they were dressed for the snow. They went skiing next.
The goats were well behaved, and why not, with all the love and attention they get.
Afterward, we took Jock for a well needed walk, and found this drift working a moat around the burn pile.
Then it was back to another turn at plowing the driveway and shoveling the paths.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fresh Perspective - Guest Blogger

The usual blogger has the day off so the substitute blogger can test their new camera.

Doggy Parenting

Snickers does the funky [mole] dance.
Chicken does the funky chicken dance.
Wink. Wink.

The herd gets their morning snack.
The goat herder and her help.
Number one rule for a herding dog: Keep one eye on the herd at all times...
... and always be on high-alert.
... except when some says "FRISBEE!"
( Its always interesting to see the farm through other's eyes. Thanks K.)

Friday, December 25, 2009


Good day to all and Merry Christmas!
Our Pennsylvania White Christmas is turning icy and dangerous for the road travelers, and even for the foot travelers. Please be safe all.The presents are open and we are all grateful for all we have, family and friends especially.
Animals too. They make our lives interesting.
Here at the farm we have had our big egg breakfast and are getting ready for the family festivities.
Hope everyone has a good day!
Deere Driver

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Uno and The Gravedigger

Uno was the first goat born on the farm in November two years ago. She was an eleven day early surprise. So early, that we didn't even consider prepping our neighbor who was watching our first two goats while we went to a funeral in Connecticut. Imagine Karen's surprise -no - shock, when she went out the first night we were away to find a bloody mess and a little spotted goat kid.
Her daughter Claire was late to march in her football game, and her dad, home to see her perform, got stuck in our barn. I had to fake my way through instructions on what to do next, even though I'd never done it myself. It was what was in my head from books and the Internet. Nanny Zola was engorged, and Uno had trouble latching on, so Karen and Ron milked Zola and tried bottle feeding Uno. By the time we went to the Saturday afternoon funeral and drove straight home into pea soup fog to the barn around midnight, the neighbors had a favorite goat!

Little Uno charmed the pants off of all of us. She was the first kid and got her way with people and the goats. She even had Jock won over. She was no Shrinking Violet when it came to finding her way in the world. Usually, and often with assistance from her mother Zola, she got the pick of food and choice spots in the sheds. Or the best place under the umbrella!
Last November, Uno was bred. On May 1st, during a thunderstorm, she had her twins, Kato and Saba, at 11PM. Like her, they were spotted and beautifully marked, and were a favorite of many of the little children, because they were the youngest, smallest, and most spotted of all the kids in their group.
This is my last picture of Uno before she became ill. On Sunday morning Uno was showing signs of intestinal distress. She was foaming at the mouth and grinding her teeth in pain. I followed the recommendations of the vet in the morning, and again in the evening, giving her an antacid and warm water, but by midnight she was dead. I considered a necropsy, but between discussing it with my vet and my mentor, I came away with the belief, the range of possibilities was too large, and likely we didn't have something contagious.

So the next problem was digging a hole large enough in frozen ground. We had temperatures in the 20's and lower in the past week, and several inches of snow cover. I took the John Deere up the hill, and with assistance from the old farm hand and his pick axe, added a new position to my resume: grave digger. It was a slow go on the snow and on a hill, but I got better at it with practice. It took an hour or so to get it done and covered back up, but I can now dig pretty well with a loader. A back hoe would be the proper tool, but I didn't get that option with my tractor. It seemed like a huge expense. There have been many holes I could have dug had I had one in the past three years, but I don't.
So we are sorry to loose our Uno, but we look forward to seeing her daughter carry the line forward in our herd. Saba has the great markings, and I think a better build, and certainly the bold personality of her mother. And so life goes on in her kids.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mid Week Update

I know some of you need your farm fix and I apologize for being off a few days. Its the pre-holiday, get ready for company thing: cleaning, shopping and grave digging.
Then this morning we woke up to no power and 10 degrees F outside. Thank goodness for the wood stove.
I look at this and swear the limbs are moving.
Sunday we woke up to another clean layer of white.
Everything was just bright and breathtaking.

Nature is decorating for the holidays, and keeping it cold enough too.
Dave and Jock at the tree line. No matter the temperature, Jock needs his walks. Mia sharing the electric water bowl with the chickens. The adults chowing on their hay last night. They are going through a lot more with the cold, and nothing much to find with the snow on the ground. Headline: Michigan blog follower brings family to blog site. May have to photo shop son to make this a Christmas picture (and crop that shadow). Got to have a picture On The Pond.
These boys graduated from high school together.
P.S. I'll explain the grave digging tomorrow if I get my shopping done early.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Few Distractions

Sorry to be short, but we have had the snow keeping us a bit busy. Its not ended, and its in the forecast for a few more days.
Also, I have been working on the Christmas Letter 2009. We are far behind schedule, so I am working on literary inspiration between outdoor activities. The plan is to get them in the mail by Monday. We get about 50 out with some personalization, so it is a labor of love.
I just called to thank my high school friend Terry, for my Burpee certificate birthday gift and catalog that just arrived. It will be fun to go through after all the work is done and we can sit by the fire. Meanwhile, she tells me that in the York area, they have 14 inches of snow so far.
I tried using the loader on my Deere for snow removal for the first time today. It was slow, but as with everything, practice makes perfect.