december 7th- {begins with s}

D7K_5702S is for Saanen, the breed Miss. Annabelle, our homestead’s only dairy goat, is.

She’s special. More like a pet, less like a farm animal. She already follows us everywhere, including right out of the main pasture the day we turned her out after her short period of quarantine¬†in the barn. She now resides in a little fenced in area, closer to the house, with her new roommate Laverne, one of our Kiko doelings.

When she’s ready, I have big plans for all the milk she will provide, including some kick butt cheese curds (or what we refer to as squeaky cheese) using a mix of Lilac’s milk and hers. Oh, and I absolutely intend to milk her on our deck, right outside our back door- ya know, because I can! ūüėČ

*Everyday this December I am striving to post a picture-a-day in the hopes of capturing the little moments that may seem ordinary at the time but, when strung together throughout this naturally hectic month, become the extraordinary ones that keep me ground until the new year. If you want to join me go here. I would love to share in your days as well. 

a winter walk

I fear that farming in winter, especially in Upstate New York, might be a bit repetitive. It mostly consists of running outside, seeing to feedings, de-icing waters, collecting eggs, milking (when Bert kindly leaves any behind for us, which will soon no longer be an issue, but more about that later) and giving everyone a quick once over before running back to the house so we can defrost in front of the fire.

So I thought I would share a couple of photos from a recent walk about the homestead.

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Tractor and cat tracks. We also found rabbit and deer tracks but, of course, I neglected take pictures of those. :-/

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A man, his dog, and their little bit of woods.

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Looks like that one is going to need to come down this year.

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And finally, after a few days of staying in the coop due to high winds and below freezing temps, we let the ladies and, ahem, their two gentlemen out for some fresh air and a much missed sun bath. She led the pack, saw the snow, gave it a peck or two and said…

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“um, no way. You people are crazy!*

Hope you have a happy week filled with sunshine and laughter.

*They did eventually come out. It took them quite a while and they exited one by one, jumping from the top of the ramp down onto the grass under the coop where, as far as I know, they stayed for the remainder of the day. It does beg the question of how the heck they got back in later that night?!?

baby, it’s too cold outside

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We have had quite the cold snap around here as of late. A week with temperatures feeling like they are below zero, or colder. Hence, we have only done the absolutely necessary outside (breaking water in the few unheated waters, delivering daily meals and collecting eggs), you would too if, while milking your cow, the milk was freezing to the side of the pail almost instantaneously! Instead we have been attending to indoor chores (ugh, I’m getting tired of looking at tax paperwork) and doing our best to entertain ourselves while being cooped up for what looks to be a relatively short period of time. I have never been so happy to see a HIGH of 20 in the forecast.

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The sunrise is beautiful but I would rather be curled up inside, in front of the fire, with a hot cup of coffee.

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That 6 degrees on there, it actually felt like -15.

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They have spent a lot of time staring out the windows, wondering why we won’t let them go out to play in the snow.

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When we do venture out we are constantly looking for a quick escape from the frigid temperatures, this day we linger a little longer than usual in the barn wishing that sunlight streaming in actually felt warm.

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Through it all the ladies have kept up their laying and we have been fighting to keep the coop feeling warm for them. We do come out to a few frozen and, consequently, cracked eggs everyday though.

With every challenge there comes opportunity (that’s been my daily mantra as of late after all) and with our extra time inside we have been…

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Making future plans.

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Grabbing a nap when we can.

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Taking time to play games, Trivial Pursuit for the adults, Crazy 8s or Go Fish for the younger set and Scrabble for the bunch of us.

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Cuddling up in front of here whenever possible.

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Taking the time to sit and create when the urge strikes us.

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Being warmed by the sweetness that the kids show us. PJ brought this back to me after a trip out with Nonni. I think he learned that from his daddy. I’m glad he’s been paying attention.

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Been waking up to this in the slow cooker for breakfast, hoping it will help us to warm up on these very cold mornings. Overnight Oatmeal: Steel Cut oats cooked in milk and water, your choice of fruit (in this case Ida Red apples) cinnamon and maple syrup. Yum!

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And when nothing else was able to warm us up we indulged in a glass of this¬†(Rhubarb Tea is on the agenda for spring.) It’s delicious and if you haven’t tried it yet you should grab a bottle, your sweetie and cuddle up under a blanket, preferably by a roaring fire.

Here’s to staying warm. Cheers!

Oh so thankful

I have no idea where the past two weeks went! (I am beginning to think that this has become a recurring theme here.) Between a holiday that quickly snuck up on me, two littles who have seemed to hit a developmental growth spurt at exactly the same time, and just the general chores of everyday farm life, I feel as though I move from one thing to the next, at a fast pace, knowing that December, and all it brings with it, is going to be here in a blink of an eye..again.

I’m not sure how it works for others writing blogs, but for me an idea for a post usually begins with photographs I have taken and then snowballs from there. But alas, I have been so busy that my poor camera has sat lonely in the house while I have been running about. As I sat here, bemoaning my lack of photos, and trying to finish a post that had no photography to go with it, I absentmindedly began flipping through photos on my phone. I suddenly realized that I had documented a good portion of the last two weeks (except, of course, for our thanksgiving feast, apparently I was too busy then, even for Instagram) using my phone’s camera. Snippets of our busy life, caught in an instant, almost without care, and when looked at can transport me back and piece together the last couple of weeks.

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Finding the beauty in the shifting light of the season and trying to embrace the shorter days.

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We have been loving watching Bert grow bigger every day and seeing his mama turn into the wonderful and patient dairy cow that we knew she could be.

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More often than not, we have been greeted by frosty mornings. The boy awakes almost every day asking if there is snow on the ground yet.

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We pasteurized our first batch of milk…makeshift style!

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Watching the deer that hang out across the street The ones that seem to refuse to cross over onto our land.

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Making, and crafting, and making some more in anticipation of the season.

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We have been spending a lot of free time in front of our beautiful, new wood stove. It has officially erased any memory of being cold!

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Finding refuge in the van, out at a family dinner, with a toddler who has entered a developmental growth spurt. One whose patience (and mine, at moments, for that matter) has yet to catch up.

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I’m in awe of the boy my first baby is becoming, and reminding myself that he is only trying to learn who he is when his stubbornness comes out.

I just love those little red x's.

I just love those little red x’s and how, when put together, they make such a pretty picture.

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When all else fails, and the day seems like it just can’t get better, go back to bed and have a snuggle. Everything looks better after that!

For those of you who celebrated last week, I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving and for those who didn’t, that you were able to catch a few everyday moments of your own.

My goal for the month of December is to not get caught up in the “doing” and stress that the holidays ultimately bring. I want to stop and soak in the moments, the special traditions and this time of wonder when my babes are little. As it seems that this blog is always the first thing to be left by the wayside when things get crazy on the farm (in life?), I need to make a change for the season. Not wanting to leave this space idle for a whole month, I am going to set a goal of capturing those moments, with a picture, and hopefully post one every weekday until January! Anyone want to join me?
I am sure there will be a few full post thrown in. Or maybe not. We will just have to see. 

It’s a boy!

Yep, we now have a little bull calf in residence here at the farm.

Like any other morning, November 7th began with us crawling out of bed to the coffee pot, while the kids went about the business of rousing all the grandparents from their peaceful slumber. Two days previous, on my trip out to visit the cows, I noticed Lilac was behaving odd. She was ramped up, dancing around, running laps on the perimeter of the pasture (this was quite a peculiar sight, considering she looked like a barrel perched upon four toothpicks and was closely followed by Mum, who is very husky herself, lumbering behind her with Poppy bring up the rear.) Any other day she would have been forehead deep in her bucket of grain, getting her nightly scratch, while warding off Mum’s attempts at sharing her snack. I got back into the barn and told Kevin that I had a feeling that she would be calving soon, seeing as how she had that same frenzied demeanor that some pregnant women (myself included) get right before they go into labor.

So, the morning of the 7th I woke up and my first thought was to look outside and check on Lilac. When I got to our kitchen windows there she stood, Mum and Poppy nearby, but no calf in sight. I cooked breakfast and we all sat down and ate together. When we finished, about a half hour later, I collected up all the dirty dishes and dropped them off at the sink, quickly glancing out at the pastures again. This time there were four cows, two red and two black and white. Due to my shock, it took a second for my eyes to realize what I was actually seeing, as my brain caught up, I yelled “holy crap is that a calf?” followed promptly by me running to frantically change into my barn clothes. Kevin and I rushed out to the back of the property with Dad and PJ following up close behind. When we arrived at their pasture Lilac was sitting, chewing her cud, while Mum watched as Poppy sniff the calf.

I checked on Lilac, who is apparently a pro even though it was her first time around, and then Kevin and I checked to see the sex of the calf. We then decided to separate Lilac and the calf so they could rest and bond, for as gentle and calm as Mum and Poppy were being, they were quite nosey and overbearing. Mum spent the rest of the day bellowing about her obvious displeasure with me meddling, in what I am sure, she considered “herd business” every time I walked past her. Kevin and I took turns the rest of the day checking in on the lady and her lad hoping to see him actually nurse, so that we were sure that he received his colostrum with in the 24 hour period that his stomach was most able to absorb all of its goodness.

Looking back on it now, after both the shock and excitement have subsided, I think he was probably born right about sunrise but was out of sight when we first looked out to check on her. He was already clean, up walking and fairly dry by the time we had gotten out there and Lilac was calm and resting as well. It has been amazing to watch nature take its course (I can appreciate this, having been a first time mother myself and feeling somewhat lost and confused in those early days) and to be witness to their instincts taking over to help them both thrive in their new roles as mama and calf. Now the hard work begins (for Kevin and I anyways) of us and Lilac learning the milking process, her learning to cooperate and us figuring out the logistics of it all. All I can say is that I hope it goes as smoothly as the pregnancy and birth did.

Oh and do you see that little white N on his side there? Well that inspired PJ to name him Norbert, as long as we all agreed to call him Bert for short. Happy Birthday Bert, you are the first to be born here on the farm!