waiting…

Yesterday was the first day of the range in which all the lambs are due. We have begun our schedule of barn checks, popping in at least four times throughout the day (morning, noon, dinner time and before bed) to see if anyone is showing any signs.

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The lambing jugs are ready, individual feed and water buckets prepared, and fresh straw down. As you can probably see, Kevin made the jugs (a place where each ewe and her lambs can go to bond and be away from the bother of the rest of the herd) from pallets we had lying around and some extra panels of sheep fencing. That’s five free jugs that would have otherwise cost us $400 to buy new. When I went in to give everyone their snack this morning I let the girls know that we are ready whenever they are.

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Hum, I don’t think they were paying any attention.

Have a very happy holiday weekend if you are celebrating. We will be spending it, here at home, anxiously awaiting our new little arrivals!

happy sheep shearing day

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Today was shearing day here at the farm. Our twenty ovine friends got a trim bright and early this morning. All were fairly cooperative and the entire process took just over two hours. It was also 27 degrees and blowing snow, not exactly the spring weather we had hoped for on such an occasion. Consequently, everyone will be staying in the barn where they will stay dry and out of the wind until our weather improves a bit.

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Here is Miss. Dessie (one of our favorite and friendliest ladies) before shearing.

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And here she is after her hair cut. I think I spy a baby belly.

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They look so different without their fleece!

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Hannah is looking at Kevin, possibly wondering why we would do such an embarrassing thing to her?

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And the most mortified of all, the boys. Can’t you tell by the look on Zeke’s face that he is not happy with us?

We also uncovered more than a few large udders while removing all that fleece of their’s, leading us to believe that all seven ewes in this year’s breeding plan will grace us with at least one lamb each over the next month. Now we just wait and see!

I have twenty garbage bags of our very own wool to skirt, wash and process into roving. Let the fun begin! ­čÖé

Happy weekend!

desperately seeking spring

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This time last year it was 70 degrees outside. Unseasonably warm you say? Well yes, but none the less fantastic. We spent last March plowing up the vegetable garden and the hops yard, giving us quite a jumpstart on our spring farming. This year doesn’t look nearly as promising.

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I have started seeds inside, followed the kids outside every time the sun chooses to grace us with its presence and have completely given up trying to fight the allure of the cut tulips and daffodils that are strategically placed in the supermarket. I’m ready for spring. I need to get outside, with the kids in tow, feeling the sun warming my back as I plant…hum, what? Honestly, anything would do right about now! It doesn’t matter, I just need to get digging. I’m itching to watch little baby lambs running and jumping in the lush green grass and I need to eat that luscious yellow butter and cream that only comes after Lilac spends time munching on the late spring pastures. We have even scheduled shearing for this coming Friday (the only time the shearers will be in this part of the state). It’s supposed to be 35 degrees and snowing! Poor shearers, poor us and poor, cold and soon to be fleece-less sheep.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for winter, for all the seasons really, because they each have their purpose. For now I will occupy myself with a few more things that I had hoped to accomplish before winter’s end, which all seem to keep making their way to the back burner. So, in that spirit, here is my late winter “To Do” list…

I swear that, while I patiently wait for spring’s arrival, I will:

-Finish the farm’s business website.

-Place our berry and orchard order so it’s ready for spring pickup.

-Continue starting seeds inside, maybe throwing some micro-greens/sprouts into the mix to use while we wait for the garden’s bounty to arrive.

-Heft my spinning wheel to the neighbors to get some tips (and schedule in some practice time), before I am swimming in roving made from our sheeps’ fleeces and have no idea how to process it.

-Finally get our sourdough starter…well, started.

-Setup a batch of Kombucha to ferment before the warmer weather hits.

-Enjoy the time left inside before the majority of our days shift to our outside duties.

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How do you fight the end-of-winter blues and what are you up to while waiting for spring’s arrival?

a bit of (not farm) news…

In college I tried to major in English with a minor in Creative Writing but with the demands of being a collegiate athlete (one who traveled for a week at a time, at least 5 times a semester) many professors had little faith in my being able to succeed and I allowed them to shrink my confidence ending up with only a minor in English. Thinking back, a required summer semester of two english classes and a creative writing class (and, oddly enough, no sports duties) was my happiest time at school.

Writing is something that I have always enjoyed doing but not something upon which I focused. I think once, when I was a kid, I had a poem published in a collection, but I no longer remember what it was about. I have always penned poems as gifts to those closest to me but I never had enough faith in my abilities to write publicly. I was urged by Kevin, a few family members and a friend or two to start this blog. I was nervous and self-consicous about putting my writing and ideas out into the world and was pacified by the thought that no one was going to find a blog about homesteading and cohabiting interesting enough to read. Well, I was wrong! Some of you have found our adventures, frustrations, failures and successes interesting enough to read about week after week, and have generously left your comments, suggestions and encouragement. I have found a group of people I consider my friends, people I can talk to and commiserate with and they are sprinkled all over the world. All we have to do is hop on the computer and we can be there for each other, sharing similar interests and experiences. I am indebted to those who provided encouragement to create this space and so grateful for all it has brought into my life.

For quite some time I have been considering submitting some of my written work to a few publications and with a little push a big shove from Kevin and my serendipitous purchase of the first issue of the new publication, Kindred, I finally found my confidence and voice. After seeing a prompt on the Kindred website of homestead, I took it as a sign and decided to give it a go and put my words out there, myself out there. I wrote an essay and submitted it, just under the wire mind you, and found out earlier this week that it will be included in the spring issue of Kindred Magazine titled Sow. I am honored to be included among so many talented writers and artist, some of whom I have been reading for some time, and I’m so delighted that my first piece will be in such a beautiful and inspired magazine; just look at the amazing cover photo below.

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Kindred, the brain child of Amanda, at The Habit of Being, is free of advertisement, published seasonally, and filled cover to cover with stories, poetry and photography. It strives to celebrate life in all its mess, beauty and simplicity, which is what initially drew me to purchase the first issue and what inevitably led to my submission.

To read more of what Kindred is all about go here.

If you’re so inclined, go here to purchase Issue Two: Sow, due to ship the last week in March. I know you will enjoy every bit of it.

Also, stop by the Kindred site to enter a giveaway they are running until next Friday. While you’re there, maybe you will be inspired to submit your work for one of their upcoming issues. I would love to read some of your words in issue three!

Happy weekend all!

eggs, eggs, everywhere

I LOVE eggs! My favorite breakfast, of all time, is Eggs Benedict but I will eat them any way I can get them. When I was pregnant with PJ my major craving in the second trimester was scrambled eggs. At first they were the only thing I could keep down as I emerged from the awful period that was the first trimester of my first pregnancy. I ate them every day, sometimes for both breakfast and lunch, until other foods began to sound appetizing again.

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When we first came here the thing I looked forward to the most was getting our laying hens. Being able to walk outside and collect all the eggs we could eat, for only a fraction of the store bought price, was quite exciting. Not to mention, our eggs would be healthier and more nutritious than eggs sourced from conventional or even large organic conglomerate (and supposedly pastured) farms. The day we got our first egg (a brown one) I was excited. The day we got our first Americauna egg, well then, then I was ecstatic. Not only are they tasty and good for us but they are cheery to look at. I will never tire of all the different sizes, shapes, hues and speckles or the unexpected excitement of perusing the nest boxes, gently nudging the lazier hens out of the way, to find what they have to offer us both morning and night.

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Unfortunately, we are having a similar problem to the Great Tomato Influx of 2012…instead this time we are drowning in eggs. Yes, I see a recurring theme of me, getting overly excited about each new venture, dreaming a smidgen too big, over extending us in the process and then having more of a yield then we can reasonably use. Humph! Thanks for passing that characteristic down to me Dad. Originally we had intended to sell eggs but have had a hard time finding a large enough outlet to sell all that the girls can lay, minus what we can use ourselves. Even though we have shut off the lights in the coop, and spring has most definitely not arrived around these parts, we still have dozens of eggs leftover and the girls continue to lay about a dozen every three days, even without their extended daylight conditions. So I have searched the internet for every egg using recipe I can find. We eat egg salad often. Inhale deviled eggs 2 dozen at a time. I make all forms of custard desserts on a fairly regular basis. I’ve become a pusher of scrambled eggs, eggs over easy and poached eggs for breakfast and try to throw in a Quiche or Strata for dinner at least once a week. I am not “egged out” yet (probably never will be) but the rest of the crew seems to be over them. If all else fails, and we don’t get to them before they start to turn, they are destined for the pigs’ slop bucket. Seems like a waste of good eggs to me!

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I need inspiration. I need recipes. I need someone to buy all of these darn eggs!

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What recipes can you share that would use a boatload of eggs? Because a boatload is most certainly what I’ve got.