Last month I told you about a plan I came up with to make a door for the chickens to go in and out of that would keep the sheep (Z, in particular) from getting into the run and eating the poultry food. This is the end result. Wahoo! There were a few modifications Hon insisted on, but in the end, it's just what I had hoped for.
I think Hon is happy too because he asked me to pick up some things for him at the hardware store yesterday and while I was gone he cut the wood. In his mind it's safer that way. Did I know he was going to cut it? No. I knew something was up when he called me at the store and asked for a few extra items I knew I needed for the project. Oh well, I suppose it ended up being one of those togetherness projects...and it didn't take hours and hours like the time we temporarily lost our minds and bought an exercise set and put it together...together. Thank goodness!
The top picture shows the completed project. Notice there are no chickens in the picture. That's because with all the cutting, banging, and fooling around out there they had run for their lives. Now the second picture is much better. It shows Buddy actually using their new door to walk into the run after NoName gave the all clear.
So there you have it folks...happy chickens...happy Sharon...and a pouting Z because she can't even get her head in. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Today is a special day. We're celebrating the Kid's 12th birthday.
We have a tradition here when it comes to birthdays. On the special morning we have birthday pancakes. Y to the U to the M! It doesn't matter what's going on in the day, first thing we do is sit down to a hearty sugar laden meal of birthday pancakes. This picture is the one I came up with for the Kid this morning.
I usually have whipped cream layered in between each pancake, but this morning I couldn't find it...or the chocolate sauce. That means someone has been dipping in the refrigerated goods so I had to use my imagination. By the way, it wasn't me. Hmmmm, what to use...what to use. I know...marshmallow topping! There was just a smidge left in the jar. Made that pancake concoction look great! So, another birthday pancake meal was eagerly eaten. It was a three layer chocolate chip cake with marshmallow and sprinkles...of course a candle on top.
Question now is will he be sharing his birthday with any lambs? We've been keeping an eye on Josie. She looks like she's ready to go any time. Her udders are practically dragging on the ground. Been like that for a few days, but still no lambs. If she doesn't have them this morning somebody...and it's not me this time...will be hanging back from the partying this evening to be on lamb watch. Then again, maybe I should volunteer. It's a bit crazy taking 7 kids up to Dave & Buster's restaurant to eat and play games in celebration of the Kid's birthday. Wait a minute...there's the sleepover afterwards and if I take them there I can use total exhaustion as an excuse, which will get me out of the chaos in the family room until who knows what time in the morning. I'll have to think on it.
Have a happy Friday everyone! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Last night was a wonderful evening, walking out to the barn to take care of the nightly necessities and looking over to see Dandy and her lambs. You know, this is our fourth lambing season and it has yet to get old. Each new baby brings so much joy to our little farm! Whether it's a lamb, chick, or pigeon, it's like the air is supercharged with excitement!
This morning, since the sun was up, I went out to take a few more pictures of Dandy and the babies. She's such a good mom! Why she reminds me of my own mom...only really hairy...and she has four legs. I guess I should clarify I'm talking about Dandy having more hair and legs...not Mom. Some similarities between Dandy and Mom are how they both take exceptional care of their kids. They make sure naps are taken, food is eaten, and butts are cleaned up. They both teach lessons that need to be learned for us to survive in the big wild world. Now, there are some differences, too. For example, Dandy chews with her mouth open and doesn't use a napkin. Mom, on the other hand made sure to eat half of a grapefruit at dinner for years and if she didn't squirt me in the eye while digging in with that spoon she'd squirt one of my sisters on the other side. Oh, and Dandy stomps her foot at me when she's irritated at what I'm doing. Mom would never stomp her foot. She'd give us the hairy eyeball and purse her lips together. Funny how me and my sisters weren't mind readers, but we sure knew at those times what she was thinking. I could go on and on about the similarities and differences, but there are more lambs to be born in the near future and I'm sure I'll come up with plenty of stories to highlight my childhood. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures of Dandy and her babies. There will be plenty more where those came from. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
This evening Eldest and I had a special surprise. Ok, I'm trying to be calm about this...but it's so darn hard! Oh gesh, I give up! Ahhhhh - Dandy had twins!!!!!!! Wahooooooo! Holy frijoles, Batman...twins!!!!!!! I just knew someone was going to deliver lambs today! I would go out and check on the soon-to-be mamas and they'd all look at me, giving me that, "Nothing to see...move along please," look. Then they'd go back to doing what big pregnant ewes do in the field...trying to pop each other with blades of grass.
Right as I was getting dinner ready this evening Eldest told me Badge was chasing Little Man around the pond pasture. We both went out there to see what all the commotion was about, but then they stopped running laps around the pond and laid down like I was there for nothing. I should have checked the barn. I bet they heard her in there.
So, this evening I went out to do chores after dinner and while I was running water in the barn I looked over, saw a dark blur of something and said to Eldest, "Holy (insert whatever word you'd like to, but I swear I didn't cuss), Eldest, we've got a baby! Holy (insert another non-cuss word), there's another! Joseph, Mary, and the lamb...Dandy had her babies!"
I have no idea if she's had boys, girls, or one of each. Right now it's bonding time and I don't want to upset the apple cart by irritating her any more than she already is. I put up some panels to keep her and the babies in the barn and out of the low 30's for the night and 25 mph winds, so she was stomping her feet at me, clearly unimpressed by my actions. I will say, though, they are looking fantastic. She has them all cleaned off and they were nursing like pros...even though she still has all that wool on. I'll be back tomorrow with better pictures of the babies and to tell you what they actually are...besides cute little lambs. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
I like ducks - turkeys, chickens, and horses, too.
I don't even mind all their poo.
I even like the smell of sheep.
It fills me up, it runs skin-deep.
Our geese may be noisy, they really can be loud,
but being their caretaker makes me proud.
I like getting up in the morning to take care of our farm
and putting it to bed also has it's charm.
I've learned many things over the years,
and I've even had some doubts,
but being a hobby farmer is my passion
and what life is all about.
Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Every once in a while...ok, more than that...I enjoy putting one over on the kids. It really makes my day. Today I went into Chillicothe to run some errands. Hon and the Kid are going backpacking with the Boy Scout troop this weekend so I had to get a few last minute things that won't weigh their packs down any more than they already are.
While I was at the grocery getting the much needed items, I made the mistake of walking past the baked goods without my blinders on. Big mistake. A package of cinnamon roll looking cream cheese danish rolls started enticing me over to them. We had an argument over the damage they'll do to my waist and I lost.
On the way home I stopped for gas and again they started taunting me and smelling good in the hot van. Because of that (since I was stopped anyway) I popped the lid off the rolls and took out the real big offender and ate him. That shut him up quick! It was such a successful tactic that I did the same with the other loud mouth in there. Then the rest understood my intentions and became very quiet.
When I got home I emptied all the bags and put away the goods. Then Eldest saw the container of yummy rolls. He hadn't noticed the two missing yet. He asked why I got them (duh) and I told him they were on sale, that I god a real good deal on them because someone had already opened the package and took two out. He looked at me like I was nuts and said, "I can't believe you bought them. I'm not eating those, someone's hands have been in there. That's disgusting!" So I proceeded to tell him that it's okay, I'll eat them. I'm not worried about it. After he thought about it a moment he said, "Nuh-uh, YOU at them...DIDN'T YOU!" I told him it wasn't me, but when he offered to make me some lunch and I decline he knew for sure it was me. Even so, I'm not going to fess up. Now I'm waiting for Young'un and the Kid to come home so I can put one over on them, too. Sometimes it's the little things. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Smiling & Waving, Sharon
This morning was a morning of play for the animals around here. Hon had been home a bit longer so while he, Eldest, and I was outside we threw in a few extras to do.
When it was time to clean out the duckling's enclosure we decided it was time for them to go on a field trip. While I cleaned up the soggy mess they are determined to make, Eldest took them out on the grass for the first time. Awww, those little fluffer nutters are getting soooo big!
Next we moved on to separating the rams and horses out from the ewes. We are hoping for lambs in the near future so it was time to cut them a break and move those boys (and horses) on out so the ewes could do a bit more relaxing before they are busy with babies again.
The pond pasture hadn't been used since last fall, so it was like the horses and rams walked into a whole new world...warm sunny morning, newly grown up grass in the field...heaven to a horse. While the sheep were re-exploring their domaine, Rain and Tucker took to the pond. This is the first time they've ever literally gone in the pond. Oh, they've stood on the side for a drink before, but they took it a step further (literally) this morning and went right in. They were splashing, pawing, and laying in it. It was truly fun and amazing to watch. Eldest and I took some pictures of them in the pond for you and put them up on the home page as a slide show. We hope you enjoy watching a bit of their antics. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
Dear Hon: Remember yesterday when I was raving about how beautiful the lettuce looks...how it will be perfect for the farmers market on opening day? Well, it's not so perfect anymore. You see, someone who will remain nameless (but is older than me and male) failed to...hmmm, how should I put it...properly latch the garden containment system, thus allowing a curious sheep and her buddy (that'd be Z and Dandy) to wriggle themselves in and have lunch together. Don't let Z fool you in the picture. This is her laying down digesting the feast after they were caught in the act. I'd take a picture of the devastation, but the screaming bounty was too much to bear. Black Seed Simpson limp...red and green Romaine screaming in pain...Iceburg with it's brains scattered about. Oh the horror! Nothing was spared. I suppose in light of this tragic event we should be thankful for healthy happy sheep that eat their vegetables without us having to resort to tactics of bribery or taking things away. Sincerely, The Love Of Your Life, Me.
This is what our dining room usually looks like. Nice...normal. I've squshed 2 more tables in there and 22 people for dinner before.
This is what the dining room looks like right now. Kind of makes me dizzy looking at it. The Kid and Hon are going on their first Boy Scout backpacking trip this weekend. I guess you could say they're practicing, making sure they have everyting. I bet you don't have a tent set up in your dining room. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
This is Dandelion This is a dandelion This is dandelion jelly
Today a fiber friend of mine that lives in Ontario, Canda made jelly with me. Well, considering I'm here in Ohio and she's in Canada, it was more of a long distance doing it at the same time kind of thing. Even so, it was fun knowing someone else was making it, too. This is how I made dandelion jelly today:
I went out early this morning to pick dandelion heads, making sure to do it on a day when we had 25 mph winds with stronger gusts in between. Moe and Alice tried to help, but being geese they did more eating than helping. I also made sure to pick them in the front pasture, where the horses and sheep knew they would be moving to next, so they could yell at me over the fence to hurry up. Afterwards I settled down on the couch and turned the television on (a rare occasion for me) to episode 116 of Supernatural on Netflix. I watched and I separated the yellow blossoms from the green part. You don't want to use any of the green parts. Green = bitter, not better.
After I finished separating the yellow parts out...I got to the end of episode 17, by the way...I went off to the kitchen to make the jelly. I sterilized the jars and their top parts. I also thought ahead and got all of my ingredients together...blossoms, water, fruit pectin, lemon emulsion (I like to use emulsion instead of extract for this), and sugar. Hey, wait a minute, what happened to the sugar? I was sure I had plenty last time I checked. I knocked on wood I had enough, measured it out, and came up 1/2 cup short. Rats! Then eldest enlightened me that he and his lab partner, Hon, did a physical science experiment over the weekend for school that called for sugar, and had they read the directions properly the first time, they wouldn't have had to use more sugar for a re-do. So off to the grocery I went. I was determined to put my blinders on and just get sugar...so I bought the sugar, some donuts, and a chocolate bar. See, all sugar. Oh leave it alone already, it's my justification and makes perfect sense.
When I got home I continued on...boiling the water, adding the blossoms without the green bits, ate a donut, washed my hands, strained the flower splodge, put the blossom water back in the pot, added the sugar, emulsion, fruit pectin, and ate a donut. Voila! I put it all in jars, wiped the edges, and put on the tops. It's a wonderful thing when I hear the "ping" sound when a jar of dandelion jelly seals itself. Now, I always have a bit left, which I put in a coffee cup so we can enjoy that last bit later. Young'un says it tastes like lemon honey. I do believe he's right. Dandelion jelly is lemony goodness in a jar.
So, now you're wondering, "Where can I get this recipe," and "What can I do to get some - I have a perfect dandelion free lawn?" For the first question, I say look down below. I've included the recipe. For the second, I say look at your neighbor's lawn. Yeah, go over there and ask them if you can de-dandelion their yard to make it. Now, if you've made it this far in the story and you'd like to give some dandelion jelly a try but aren't a jelly maker...or just don't want to do it, leave a comment below with your name saying that you'd like to give it a go. I'll have the Kid write your name on a piece of paper, put it in a jar with whoever else wants to join in the fun, and ask Young'un to pick two names out. Oh, I figure I'll have Young'un fish out two names on Wednesday around 3:30 when he gets off the bus. If your name is one of those two I'll get a hold of you for your address and send you a jar. If there's only two comments, boy oh boy, you're in luck! I have no idea if many folks actually read my blogs so this might be your lucky day. Smiling & Waving, Sharon
4 cups dandelion bloossoms (yellow bits only) 4 cups water
1 package (or 1 1/2 oz) fruit pectin 1 teaspoon lemon extract (or lemon emulsion)
4 1/2 cups sugar 6 1/2-pint jars
Pick the blossoms in the morning. If you pick the heads, make sure to separate the yellow bits and only use those. Trust me, experience has shown it makes a bitter puke green jelly if you include the green parts. Bring your water to a boil, add the yellow blossoms, and cook it for about three minutes. Then you're going to strain out three cups of the liquid and throw away the soggy blossoms. I use a small mesh strainer, I've also used a coffee filter out of desperation when I couldn't find it. Put the water back in the pan - wash out the bits first - and then add the rest of your ingredients (fruit pectin, sugar, and lemon extract/emulsion. Stir it up while bringing it back to a boil and then cook and stir at a boil for another three minutes. Don't keep it on high while you boil it, lower that temp some or you'll have it foaming all over (trust me). When time's up, take it off the heat, skim off any of that foamy stuff with a spoon, and then pour it into your clean jars. Wipe the rims of any jelly gunk, attach the lids, and let it sit quietly to cool so the lids seal. Put any extra you have in a coffee cup so it can cool and then enjoy it without feeling guilty you've already opened a jar. I use both 1/2-pint jars and jars that are smaller than that (half 1/2-pint jars?) so I have both sizes available at the farmer's market. Enjoy!
I'm the queen of our farm, although the animals wouldn't agree. My title is Head Chicken Wrangler, but most days I'm just called Mom. Life on a farm is full of family and hard work and I wouldn't have it any other way.