Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Family fall fun........

Indian summer has arrived in the North East. The last two days have been glorious and the rest of the week is supposed to be nice as well. Although we are busy preparing for mother nature's deep freeze, we did get the chance to enjoy some family time in the woods this past weekend. Our foliage has passed peak color but the beech leaves are still a beautiful yellow and the oaks a dark red. The woods smell so fresh and sweet. We saw several buck rubs and lots of deer sign. Pheasant and partridge are both plentiful as well as the smaller woodland birds.

Deer hunting season begins here next Saturday and our freedom to roam the woods will be limited to Sundays as hunting is not allowed on that day in Maine. The guys have been preparing for the upcoming season eagerly. It's a favorite time of year. Tyler recently completed his hunter/safety course and has his junior hunting license this year and will accompany Steve and Dave on opening day.
This was a gift to Steve a couple of years ago and this is his first season to use it. It took the effort of all of us to put it up in the tree! It's a huge tree stand. Very cushy and comfy for them on opening day. That and the fact it took hours to find just the PERFECT tree to put it in. Talk about fussy :) It really was a fun day.
~Good luck to all the hunters out there - be safe ~

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blogless week........

It seems we are in a type of transition period here on the farm and there hasn't been much of interest to blog about this week. You can see by the photo above, even the cat was bored. He really did fall asleep with his head on the water dish :)

We continue to ready land and animals for winter. I brush hogged the new pasture area we had cleared last fall. It was soft in places and the wild grass was thick but I managed to get it all cut down. I'd like to spread manure on the entire piece before snow but not sure that will happen. I have managed to get manure on one of the gardens for the winter and hope to finish the other two asap.

We are moving animal accommodations around for the winter months and putting in a new cow tie up. I'll post pictures when we finish. I've got the design in my head and a materials list written out. Now to get to it! That will make life easier for the cows and me in the winter and we will use less sawdust. Usually on blustery nights they stay in the box stalls and it takes a lot of bedding to keep those stalls comfy. Sawdust is harder and harder to come by and shavings are darn expensive! We are hoping the tie up solves both issues and I know the cows will be nice and toasty together.

My boys have come down with a nasty virus - no gastro or respiratory problems just fatigue and severe body ache. Tyler had to have blood drawn for labs for the first time. Let's just say it did not go well. Doc thinks its a virus that will clear up on it's own in 7-10 days and not related to H1N1 or anything of that nature. I'm praying it's not.

That's it from the farm for now. Hope you and yours are well :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Picture perfect autumn day...........

The weather could not be more perfect for this time of year. Clear, brilliant blue sky. Beautiful yellows, golds, oranges and reds dot the tree line. The colors closer to the house are beginning to dull as the weather turns colder. Our wood stove has been burning much of the week and we had ice on the water buckets the last two mornings. The animals all seem grateful for their straw beds and they are not overly eager to get out of them :)
Acorns are falling from the oaks and they are plentiful. They sound like machine gun fire on my Mom's metal house roof. A brisk breeze ushering in the smells of fall. When the wind is just right you get a whiff of smoke from a neighbor's wood stove. I love the changing of the seasons. I think it's the anticipation of what's to come. I am a fan of winter. I enjoy the "blanketing" of the earth with snow; it quiets everything for a few months. It means hopefully I've gathered enough nuts to see us through until spring arrives and new life begins again. Gathering around the stove, enjoying my tea and a good book or good conversation with a friend. I don't necessarily enjoy moving mountains of snow when we get a nor'easter every other day, but you take what you get in the Northeast :)

My boys have been busy this week. Five cords of wood has been neatly stacked in the woodshed. Before days end they will have a pile that needed to be split in the shed as well. I wasn't much help to them this week. The migraine bug bit me hard on Tuesday and I was pretty useless other than morning and evening chores. Friday morning I was back among the living and feeling like myself again.

Today Mom and I finished shelling all the beans and prepared the remainder of the carrots for canning while the shop was open. The turtle beans are dry and ready for storing. We have a nice variety of winter squash stored in the basement as well as leeks this year. We hope to pick a bushel of apples later in the week and can applesauce. That will be our last canning for this year.

This is the new flag that welcomes folk at the shop entrance. Isn't she sweet? I love decorating for autumn but I'm really looking forward to decorating the shop for the holidays, inside and out. We are developing a clientele of regular customers that come every week and it will be nice to share the holiday spirit with them and others who stop in to browse and shop.

Speaking of chores....out to the barn we go.

Have a great weekend everyone :O)

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Busy weekend..............

The past four days have been busy for all of us. The kids had Friday off as well as today and Steve was home Friday. We completed several more tasks that needed finishing before cold weather. Steve built a new door for the chicken house on Saturday. The old door had completely fallen apart awhile back and we just hadn't found the time to replace it. This new one should last a good, long while. The boys worked on replacing fence posts and Mom and I shelled black beans while the shop was open. The boys also worked on the wood pile and put a good portion of dry wood left over from last year on the front porch. I've had a fire the last two mornings. We have had below freezing temps overnight and that morning smudge warms the house up quickly.
The lambs have more than adequate shelter but they prefer to sleep outside. As you can see, little Sugar on the end spent the night outside as she's covered with frost.

Sunday three of us went for hay while Steve and the boys went scouting for deer and a place to put up their tree stands. Tyler passed his hunter/safety course and is very excited to hunt with the crew this year. We had four nice doe pass across the pasture on Saturday. That was very encouraging for the hunters :) They found two nice buck rubs and moose tracks. That really excited Tyler. It would be so cool for him to get a deer his first time out.We delivered our pigs to the butcher on Sunday afternoon. I enjoy raising them but I'm always glad when it's time for them to go. Loading them was a breeze and unloading them as well. I pick them up all cut and wrapped on Tuesday. The smoked meat will be ready in about a month. Everyone is anxious for fresh sausage and bacon. I'll have happy customers this week :)

The rest of the week we will be doing our fall shearing as long as the weather holds. The weatherman said snow showers here and there. That could change our plans. Our new pup, Otis, is growing quickly and already loves to help move the sheep and goats along. The adult ewes will just stare at him and stomp their feet. He doesn't back down but he's not ready to take them head on just yet either :) He's a real sweetheart and we couldn't be happier with him.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

End of season gardening...........

Yesterday we finished harvesting the remainder of our vegetables. I'm always happy to put the gardens to bed although we haven't quite finished with that just yet. We have a bushel of small carrots to can, turtle beans and shell beans to shell and leeks to put in the basement for winter storage.

These beauties are Christmas Pickles. We use our very large, over ripe cucumbers to make these. The bigger and yellower the better. They are made with cinnamon oil and clove oil which makes them sweet and zingy at the same time. I could eat an entire jar at one sitting. They are like candy! They go well with baked beans, casseroles or just by themselves. I've posted the recipe below. If anyone has other end of the garden recipes to share, I'd love to have them.

Aunt Edy's Christmas Pickles:

16 large, very ripe cucumbers (ripe, but not soft)
2 large jars of maraschino cherries (or 3 10 oz jars)

7 cups sugar
1 pint white vinegar
1/2 tsp. oil of cloves
1/2 tsp. oil of cinnamon
(I purchase my oils through Lorann, Inc. @

Remove ends, peel, remove seeds and cut cucumbers into 1 inch pieces. Cook cucumber pieces with water until barely tender. Drain.

Mix syrup ingredients in a pot and heat to a boil. Pour over cucumbers (I put my cukes and syrup in a stock pot) and cover. Let stand over night.

Next morning, pour off syrup into a cooking pot and reheat to boiling. Pour over cucumbers again. Let stand all day and over night.

Next morning, cut cherries in half and add to cucumbers and syrup, juice included. Bring entire contents to a boil. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Wipe tops with clean cloth, remove air bubbles, cover. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes after the canner has returned to a full boil.
( I do not process mine in a hot water bath but that is the "correct" way to finish them. I set my hot jars on a towel and cover with two towels. They seal themselves from the hot syrup/hot jars)

Enjoy - our family and friends love them. The only problem is we never have enough cucumbers left to make enough. I'm going to grow a patch next year just for these pickles!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Unexpected visitors.............

This is an Eastern Coyote. One that looked very similar to this file photo was prowling around the farm at 2:30 this morning. Danny was barking loudly at 12:30 and I checked things out and didn't see anything. When he started in again at 2:30, I could tell by his bark we had an unwanted visitor. I pointed the spotlight across the lawn and there he was. Not intimidated by my light and actually stood there about 25 seconds before he trotted off. The sheep went out to graze this morning and we noticed them in a huddle not long after I put them out. I quickly rounded them up and put them back in the corral by the barn. I didn't see anything but the donkey was sensing something around and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Shortly after chores this morning, this lovely lady showed up to bathe in our enormous mud puddles. This is a female mallard. She was alone which surprised me. Our Indian Runners decided to get acquainted with her. She was friendly enough.

The Indian Runners were not. They quickly decided she was not welcome. Not very hospitable ducks!

After trying to scare here, they weren't interested and headed off down the lane for the barnyard. It was comical to watch them wattle off one by one. Even more amusing to see Mrs. Mallard decide to follow behind them at a good distance.

I hope she finds her mate of he finds her. Seems she would really like some company.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

America continued.....

A friend posted this video on my FaceBook page. It's fabulous - made my hair stand on end. It will definately make you feel :) Hope you enjoy it as much as I do and feel free to pass it along.

I'm not posting this to offend, just to share how I feel.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Think this can't happen in America?

You're sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way. With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it. In the darkness, you make out two shadows.One holds something that looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire. The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside. As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you're in trouble.

In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless. Yours was never registered. Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm. When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter."What kind of sentence will I get?" you ask."Only ten-to-twelve years," he replies, as if that's nothing. "Behave yourself, and you'll be out in seven.

"The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper. Somehow, you're portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can't find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both "victims" have been arrested numerous times. But the next day's headline says it all: "Lovable Rogue Son Didn't Deserve to Die." The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters. As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero.Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he'll probably win. The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you've been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.

A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven't been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted. When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn't take long for the jury to convict you of all charges.The judge sentences you to life in prison.

This case really happened.On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk, England, killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to a life term.All of Martin's neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the consequences. Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.An appeal was considered in October 2001 by three senior judges. Submissions by the defense that Martin had fired in self defense were rejected by the appeal court. However, on this occasion the defense submitted evidence that Martin suffered paranoid personality disorder specifically directed at anyone intruding into his home. This submission was accepted by the Court of Appeal and, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, Martin's murder conviction was replaced by manslaughter carrying a five year sentence, and his ten year sentence for wounding one of the burglars was reduced to three years. These sentences were to run concurrently. Martin was imprisoned in Highpoint Prison, Suffolk. When he became eligible for parole and early release, the Parole Board rejected his application without stating a reason. The chairman of the parole board, in an interview with The Times, described Martin as "a very dangerous man" who may still believe his action had been right. Martin challenged the decision in the High Court, where the parole board's decision was upheld. Probation officers on Martin's case said there was an "unacceptable risk" that Martin might again react with excessive force if other would-be burglars intruded on his Norfolk farm.

On 28 July 2003, Martin was released after serving three years of his five-year sentence, the maximum period for which he could be held following good behavior.Also during 2003, the wounded burglar received an estimated £5,000 of legal aid to sue Martin for loss of earnings due to the injury he sustained. However, the case was thrown into doubt when photographs were published in The Sun suggesting that his injuries were not as serious as had been claimed. He later dropped the case when Martin agreed to drop a counter-claim.

How did it become a crime to defend one's own life in the once great British Empire?It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license. The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns.Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987.

Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the streets shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead.The British public, already desensitized by eighty years of "gun control", demanded even tougher restrictions. The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.Nine years later, at Dunblane, Scotland, Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school.

For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, sealed the fate of the few sidearms still owned by private citizens.During the years in which the British government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released.Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying, "We cannot have people take the law into their own hands."When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn't were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn't comply. Police later bragged that they'd taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens.How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kinda like cars.Sound familiar?

WAKE UP AMERICA, THIS IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTION." does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."--Samuel Adams

If you think this is important, please forward (forwarded from a fellow blogger)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Playing catchup....again!

I've missed writing my blog - I was away for four days with my "adopted daughter" Shane at the Maine Organic Farmer's and Gardeners Association - Common Ground Country Fair. We have a booth each year in the Maine Fiber Farms tent. We left last Thursday morning and came home Sunday evening. I've been trying to catch up ever since.

We had a great time! Sales were great, the company was better and I'm glad to be home. It's an enjoyable get-away, meeting up with folks I usually only see once a year. Good food, good friends and tons of fiber - a great combination :) I always feel so inspired after the fair.
Special Thanks to Diane and Michele for all their hard work on behalf of the vendors in the Fiber Farms tent. We had a new tent this year - it was great. Each year things get a little easier.

I started out with 15 sheepskins and brought home just 4. Sold one this morning in the farm shop.

I'm hoping these three will sell by Christmas. I'm going to keep the farm stand open through the holidays. We just added fresh beef and hopefully people will be interested!

We left with approximately 170+ skeins of dyed and natural yarns. This is what's left. People were very happy with the colors this year. It's downright near impossible to please EVERYONE - no one seemed unhappy this year. That's always a good thing when dealing with the public. Our rovings were well received again this year. One woman bought three pounds of the whitest shetland/finn roving I had to spin and knit her daughter a Gossamer weight lace shawl for her wedding. Can you imagine? That's tons of spinning and then the knitting! Gossamer weight it like spider web. It will be a magnificent creation and a fabulous family heirloom. She's promised a photo - I'll share it when I receive it.

The list of farm chores that need to be done is long in length. We are making Christmas pickles now and that will take the rest of the week and then it's on to apple sauce. Breeding season for the sheep is just around the corner and animals need to be moved into different areas of the barn for the winter. Pigs go to the butcher on 10/11. That will reduce my grain bill significantly!

Otis is growing like a weed - I'll have photos next post :)

Was happy to open the farm stand this morning and see my regular customers. Was very discouraged to find that a few of the local rif-raf vandalized my farm stand sign at 11 a.m. I just can't figure out what possesses these young people to be so destructive. I can't see the enjoyment in that. Oh well - Steve patched it up and re-hung it on the post. We are open despite the damage.

Have a great weekend everyone!