Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The current cold snap has my full attention today! Winter is a magical time, mostly. I am in a nice routine of an hour of morning chores feeding hay, filling waterers, taking nose counts to assure all the critters are doing as well as they can in below freezing temperatures. I discovered all the water lines frozen this morning, which meant all the tanks were also frozen due to an electrical malfunction last night. I have sorted it all out, and thawing has begun, and I feel lucky to have the temperature rising to 21 degrees today.
If it is not one thing it is another.......

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Harvest

I wonder sometimes why I make so many preparations for winter's eventual arrival. I think it is just in me to do, and the reasoning of it is as illusive as the last warm rays of sun.
I keep finding more food to put up, it seems such a waste to lose it that I spend day after day making applesauce, fruit preserves, roasting chilies, preparing cooking sauces, stuffing the freezers full. We have three freezers which are all FULL right now, with beef, lamb, chicken, pork, vegetables, fruit and natural dyestuffs, all of which was home grown. It seems so natural to me, until I visit another "normal" kitchen
filled with commercially prepared foods. I milk goats and we enjoy milk, cream, yogurt, kefir, (thanks to Lisa O'Leary) and a variety of cheeses. And we have a flock of layer hens giving us eggs every day, so grocery shopping will be limited to fresh greens, sweet treats, and bread.
I am grateful for the luxury of time and ability to grow and prepare our own food. We buy hay locally to feed the critters and buy firewood from neighbors, but we are globally connected through the satellite modem. Modern Pioneer or Regressive Farmer reinventing the wheel???

Friday, October 10, 2008


Fall is a time of abundant garden harvest, food preserving, firewood gathering and hay hauling for the two legged ones on the farm. For the sheep and goats it is breeding season, and things get frisky as the air cools and the hormones rise. I have four different groups of sheep that are separated, according to the ram they go with. Every mid September is a time of original frenzy getting the sheep separated, replacement lambs and goat kids away from the rams and bucks, hay and mineral feeders secured, shearing the rams and trimming their feet, then moving the selected groups to their respective pastures or pens. Then we all settle into a quiet routine for six weeks of daily feeding and frolic. At the end of the six week breeding season, the rams and bucks are removed , and put into a pasture I call the Testosterone Team. After spending a few days in a small pen, the rams become reacquainted without much room to back up and butt each other. Winter is spent in relative peace and hay munching.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

missing in action

June Bug seems to be asking me to follow him by whinnying, trotting to the plum thicket and back while looking directly at me. I don't see his horse buddy, Kai any where. So I follow him. I am looking and listening for Kai when I hear a huff coming from deep in the plum thicket. I call to him and he anxiously answers me. He is stuck! He has pushed his way into the thicket after plums and a branch closes behind him so he can't back up or go forward. Goofy greedy eater. I run to get the pruning tools, cut a couple of branches and help Kai back out.
Kai must have spent a few hours here, he nibbled the bark off a couple of prune trunks and trampled the ground. Poor guy. As soon as Kai was free, he and June Bug trotted off to the hay feeder, disregarding me completely.
I walk out of the plum thicket, toting my tools, and they come up to me as if to say What's Up?
I love these guys.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Busy day

Today is sorting day in the sheep pen. I will sort the ewes according to the ram I want to put them with. The love crazed Navajo Churro ram , Rocky, went through FOUR fences yesterday and was happily with all the ewes when I brought them in last night, so I am giving him his harem today to prevent any accidental cross breeding. I have some purebred ewes that are not N.Churro, I certainly hope they were not ready to be bred yesterday when Rocky butted in. So THIS is why they are called "rams"...............
I am going to LaGrande Oregon on Saturday to pick up 3 ewes and a ram lamb, the last of a brown line developed by Mary McCracken. The trip is shaping up into a lot of fun, Border Collie regional championship trials to watch in Pendleton on the way over, then a talk by Joel Salatin in LaGrande at Oregon Rural Action's annual convention
A visit with Wyoming neighbors and good friends, Tony and Andrea Malmberg, with the opportunity to acquire a polled Alpine doeling goat from Andrea's flock of dairy goats.
It is as if every moment has a task this time of year, I feel very much like the ants in the fable The Grasshopper and the Ants right now. If only there were a whole army of me.........

Friday, September 26, 2008

apple fat

It is a great year for apples and all the creatures here LOVE them. I consider changing the name of this place to Apple Fat Farm as I watch the animals vie to be first getting to the windfalls. The horses nicker for them every time they see me, and though I would love to think it is their utter devotion to me, I know it is the treats from the tree in my garden they call for. There must be at least twenty different varieties of apple and pear trees throughout the farm, many so sweet, and some so puckery worms won't even eat them. Purple, yellow and pink plums grow in thickets the deer make nests under, to sleep off the stupor of gorging. Blackberry brambles line most of the driveway with dark purple berries as big as your first thumb knuckle, and you have to be careful not to pick a yellowjacket taking the nectar to feed his queen. All this amazing fruit was not planted by hand, but by bird, pollinator and wind. I am amazed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A glorious early fall day, sunny and bright with tempratures perfect for harvesting fruit. Pears, plums, apples, raspberries and blackberries are in overabundance today. Wild fruit trees inhabit this south facing hillside, protected by big timber Pondersoa Pines, creating a long growing season. I am cooking down raspberries and plums into preserves, snacking on goat cheese and crackers humbled by how lucky I am to be alive and healthy on this beautiful day.
Sheep eating windfall fruit
honeybees in the marigolds
dogs sound asleep in the sun