Monday, March 30, 2009

Chocolate Macaroons - a raw version

You may already be thinking "Raw, ewe!" but its not that kind of raw. These Chocolate Macaroons are super tasty, easy to make and do I dare venture to say almost healthy. This cookie recipe is out of Raw Food Real World, I've made one small adjustment. These are prepared using the raw food method, they are not baked only heated at a low tempereture. For this reason they retain most of their nutrients. Raw food purists would say that these are not truly a raw food because some of the ingredients that go into them such as maple syrup, cocoa powder and vanilla extract are heated during processing. This recipe is great because it has no dairy, eggs or wheat, and makes for a great chocolate fix. I use dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder because it is what I have on hand. You can take raw cacoa nibs - which are available in health food stores and grind them in a coffee grinder to get a less processed cocoa powder. There is also a blonde version of these cookies that just substitutes almond flour for the cocoa powder. Without further adu here it is:
3 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut butter
1 Tb. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup chopped dried cherries (optional/my contribution)

1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to combine. ( I use a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.)
2. Using a small ice-cream scoop, your hands, or a big tablespoon, spoon rounds of the dough onto dehydrator screens or a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3. The recipe calls to dehydrate at 115 F for twelve to twentyfour hours. However the first time I made this recipe I didn't have a food dehydrator so I just turned the oven to warm, the lowest setting and checked on the cookies (by eating one and they were all good) every couple hours over the course of the afternoon. By evening they were crispy to my liking. This past time I used the food dehydrator and they were done after six hours. The point of heating them is just to get them crispy on the outside but still nice and chewy on the inside. They don't have raw eggs, or anything else that has to be cooked.

Friday, March 27, 2009


This is Maggie, officially titled; Lucky Star's BT Xtreme. She was an 07 kid, which was an X year for the American Dairy Goat Association. Goat owners can name their goats
whatever they'd like, but often they will start the goat name with whatever letter year it is. Obviously this is a method of keeping track of how old your goats are. I'm guessing it is especially helpful for the farms that have forty or fifty kids born a year. All six of our original goats were born in 07, and both farms we purchased them from insisted not only that their names begin with X, but then there were different family line rules. For example, Maggie's Dam and Grand-dam were named after magazines. We had one doe that had to have a name out of literature and one with a nature (tree, flower, landscape) name. Needless to say we got a little tired of X names so this is Maggie. Last winter we would take all of the does outside for walks up and down our quarter mile driveway. I would pull Noah on his sled and the does would follow us. At some point Maggie started pushing Noah over and running in to him. Then she started picking on him when we were in the goat pen. At the time Noah was less than two years old, and he would just be doing his thing and Maggie would go out of her way to charge at him and knock him over. So we started taking fewer walks and Maggie starting remaining behind. When we go into the pen now she gets tied up before Noah comes in. Last spring when Noah was first learning to talk he just called Maggie, Mean. We would prompt him to tell company the names of all the goats and he would point them all out, saying, Rose, Xanadu, Xoe and Mean. As time progressed she became Mean Maggie, and now thankfully she is back to Maggie. As we start spending more time with the goats as the weather gets nicer, we are going to start working with her on these behavior issues. A fellow goat owner has given me a couple suggestions and I am looking forward to trying them out.

As you may have guessed Maggie is our strongest Doe. She is our tallest, longest, smartest most dominant doe. She has the best udder and was our best milker. And she knows it. I don't think Maggie is so much mean as much as she is an opportunist. The goats all have their rank in the herd. Maggie just thinks that her position in life is upwardly mobile, and is not limited by the fact that she is a goat. Here is a picture of Maggie and Noah, when they got along better.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Random updates

It's been a couple days. Haven't had a chance to write undistracted. Often I'll try to write a post while half paying attention to the kids, and I don't make much sense. My writing ends up disjointed and unfocused. So, all the kids are in bed and I don't feel like much other than catching up on all that has happened in the last few days. I have a monster of an incubator in my house. It is much larger than I expected. I'm looking forward to getting it up and running.

On Sunday we had a lovely family outing and watched the North American Dog Races. We met up with some friends that bring chili, hot dogs, smore fixings, a grill and a fire
pit along with chairs and blankets. So needless to say we had a great time. We got to see the dog teams on their final stretch of a 27 (I think) mile stretch, just a few miles from the finish line. Two different times we saw a team catch up and pass the team in front of it-very exciting. We did lots of yelling and cheering. Noah, along with some of our friends' kids all went sledding, played on a playground and enjoyed watching the dog teams go by. It was sunny, clear and would have been pleasant if not for the wind. But here is a photo of a happy but red cheeked Avery and above was a photo of the three of us outside having a good time.

Yesterday I ordered a cream separator. I've been talking about doing so for a long time. I was just waiting for the right time (money). There were two brands that I was h
aving a hard time deciding between, but I went with the Novo, ( mostly because of all the comments from satisfied customers. We will have our own half and half, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese and ice cream. I really miss Ice Cream. I have been having sensitivities to pasteurized cow dairy products, pretty much anything other than butter seems to disagree with me. It has taken a while to figure out what to stay away from, as the effects are not immediate, rather it is a gradual build up and then all of a sudden I am miserable for about twelve hours. I've started eating dark chocolate with no dairy in it. I'll eat small amounts of dairy if we are eating away from home. But for the most part, it is not worth it. So I've been missing ice cream, and once I have a cream separator I will be making ice cream often. I also miss cream in my coffee and cream cheese on bagels. We thought we had a good amount of goat milk frozen to get us through this dry spell until our does kid, but the milk we froze last spring hasn't thawed very well, it kind of separates. We only have a few more weeks until we have milk again.

We will be showering in our shower tomorrow, at last. We were suppose to get to shower tonight but there were some minor details needing attended to. But as I write this Dustin is running around cutting this and drilling that, he is reinstalling our water lines to our bathtub so we can bathe before going to bed.

Our sky has just been a lovely clear blue. A color you only see when it is cold out. I don't ever see quite this shade in the summer. We've been getting lots of sun. The trails are getting slippery and the roof was melting today. Tonight we had the best dinner; grilled Ahi with mango salsa, rice and broccoli with a sesame soy vinaigrette, and a good bottle of wine. We are celebrating almost having a shower. And we finally received money for a piece of property we've been in the process of selling for quite a while.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Noah's new playroom

Here are some pictures of Noah's new play room. I took these a couple days ago, right after all the tiles had been washed and sealed. So it was the first time all the dust and dirt had been cleaned up and the beauty of all the tiles was revealed. The picture on the left shows the tree nicely. In the picture beside it you can see the tree that frames the wall above the bathtub. Noah can't wait to take a bath in the tub. Actually we are all eager to be able to bathe and shower in our house again. Tyson is still working on grouting the whole bathroom and then I believe it has to sealed once more. The ceiling still needs to be painted. We are so excited about how it is all turning out. When it is all said and done we might stick one of the kids in here to sleep. Sounds like I'm kidding, but it is tempting. Avery has been crying a lot at night and I haven't been sleeping very well. If she is in a room with some background noise, we'd probably both sleep better.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Chick Order of 09

I got a phone call from a friend today. I had to answer the big question; how many of what kind do I want...I'd been thinking it over, but thinking and signing on the dotted line are two different things. I committed to ten Welsummer chicks and ten Ameraucana chicks from Whitmore Farm. You can check them out at The eggs that the Welsummers and the Marans lay are absolutely gorgeous. I am going in on an order with a few other folks and I'm at the top of the list to pick them up from the airport post office. Not only that, but my fellow chicken addicts need the chicks as soon as possible because they are wanting to show them this summer, so they've requested the birds come in next week! Yikes! Here we go!

Well, what else did I get myself into today. Oh, I volunteered Dustin to try and fix a friend's incubator and in return she is bringing it by along with a second incubator that works for sure. Did I mention that each of these incubators holds up to a hundred and fifty eggs. Way out of our league I know. I think we may be hatching some of her eggs along with our own. If we get a broody hen we are going to stick some eggs under her, but as of now we are accum
ulating eggs for hatching with no prospective mothers.

I'm feeling rather extravagant after the chick order today. Not quite as guilty though as if I'd bought something ridiculous or useless. I feel the same way when I order a few hundred dollers worth of vegetable's kind of like buying healthy food for a reasonable price, but it is more of an investment and an insurance policy at the same time. Here are some pictures of our eggs. We got five eggs today. We've really been getting some whoppers. So big that sometimes the carton won't close. The blue eggs are out of the Ameraucanas. There are some smaller darker brown ones next to the blue eggs that I think are out of Honey, our Cochin. We've been a little uncertain about which eggs the Brahmas are laying, I think they might be the lighter beige ones on the right side, but I'm not sure. The Sexlinks are laying most of the nice big pinkish brown eggs, including the one I'm holding- I think.

Last of the Winter Days

It is lightly snowing outside, overcast and the temperature is about ten below zero. At one time in my life I would have been extremely frustrated and impatient during the final days of winter. Today I feel more mature, experienced, serene. I know that this is the last of the cold days. I know that these are the last of the mellow days where my big decisions are what to make for dinner. Should I make purple potato rolls, potato salad or potato soup? (we still have about twenty pounds of shriveled eye growing purple potatoes). The highlights of my day are probably now, my computer time, while Noah watches a National Geographic show on Whales, and Avery takes her morning nap. I also look forward to getting out and collecting eggs, throwing scraps to everyone and visiting with the girls/does while they finish up their morning meal. These days are numbered, and I relish them. As much as I will love seeing our new goat babies, watching the snow melt away until we can see the ground again, and all the excitement of planting time. I get overwhelmed just thinking of it all.

Thankfully, there is nothing I can really do about any of it now,other than do a little research and make some decisions. How much of what kind of seed to start. Should we get some Broad Breasted White turkeys or try another heritage breed. When should we order our first chicks? Should we buy an incubator to hatch eggs or
wait till a hen goes broody. These are all enjoyable decisions to ponder and make. Soon we will be taking care of new babies, caring for lots of starts and just going crazy over not ever wanting to come inside to do things like make dinner. In fact unless it is a rainy day it drives me crazy to be indoors from about May until October. Which means I'm going crazy a lot because it is hard to be outside all the time with small children...and when we make three meals a day from scratch. So, for today I'll be enjoying the slow pace, and making soup or bread or whatever.

On a side note, I've been thinking about how our property does not see the sun in December or January. If we ever buy another piece of property it will be completely south facing. But for now, I appreciate how much more the absence of sun helps us savor the sun when we have it. I notice when the sun hits our property in the morning and I know about exactly when it is going to com
e in our kitchen window and when it will be shining on our living room floor. Here is a picture of the kids enjoying afternoon play time in the sun

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wild Roots Farm Web page

Last night I published our Wild Roots Farm Web Page. The purpose of which is mostly to show off our lovely LaMancha dairy goats. I am also sharing some of our herd management practices, a.k.a how we do things around here. At some point I could see selling soap, pottery or eggs via the website. I tried two other hosting services before I experienced success with the Homestead site. It costs less than five dollars a month and is very easy to use. It will make my life easier as far as emailing individual pictures of does, udder shots and kids to potential customers. Finally I will be sharing information about current milk legislation and the controversy surrounding this issue. So here it is

The first Seed Starting of 09

This past weekend I began one of my favorite spring occupations; seed starting. I had purchased seed starting mix several weeks earlier. I had climbed up into our greenhouse and gathered together flats and various sizes of pots and I had even brought two flats in filled with pots so they would be warm when I was ready. I was waiting for the right moment. I could of course attempt to turn it into a mother son project during an afternoon while the babe was napping. But I knew that would result in a high blood pressure hour and a much bigger mess. And I was feeling a bit selfish, for now I wanted to enjoy carefully measuring out each little seed and putting it in the center of its pot, into its hole and gently pressing the soil down, all by myself without worrying about all the mishaps that would happen with the help of a three year old.

The timing was perfect, I had a window of time all to myself. I filled thre
e flats with soil. I planted forty four tomato seedlings, some into four inch pots and some in two inch. I planted mostly short season varieties such as Early Cascade, Early Wonder, Early Bush Girl and Oregon Spring. Then I planted a smaller number of heirloom longer season varieties, nothing that takes longer than eighty days. A few of my favorites are Sungold, Black Cherry, Orange Russian and Pink Accordian. Then I planted some herbs, some of which are slow to germinate and grow. The basil, thyme, parsley and cilantro will grow fast enough that I will be able to pinch the tops multiple times before planting. I will probably start multiple batches of basil and cilantro until early summer. I was surprised by how quickly everything germinated. I sowed a flat of tomatoes on Saturday and another one on Sunday, in addition to the flat of various herbs, some of which ( lavender, chamomile, oregano), I expected to take a couple weeks to germinate.

By Thursday almost everything had come up. Almost all of the tomatoes are up, some of the basil, thyme, chamomile, lavender, cilantro and even some oregano! Wow, I'm pretty impressed. In another week I will start some flowers and peppers, after that come broccoli and cabbage, a couple weeks later: squash and cucumbers and next I know it I'll be moving probably a dozen flats in and out daily to harden off in the spring sun on our back porch, and better yet up to the hoophouse for planting. So exciting!

This is a picture of Noah and I watering tomatoes, corn and herbs, all of which were started indoors and transplanted. Last spring we had dirt-work done to smooth out our hillside so it would be a gradual sloping garden. In previous summers we had gardened mostly in pots and a few constructed beds. Because we were waiting on dirtwork last summer, we didn't get hardly any plants into the ground until June 15th. Which is really late. The official planting out date here is June 1st and generally I get tomatoes in the ground by May 15th. and surround them with wall o waters or plant them in the greenhouse or other covered bed. This spring is very exciting because our garden is in place, so we should be able to start thawing out raised beds and planting some things (in the hoop-house) by May first.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bathroom tiling project

As of yesterday Avery started scooching, (army crawling) around the house faster than I can keep up with her. I just set her in her play area, surrounded by safe baby toys. She wants nothing to do with them and has crawled to the other side of the living room and is under the coffee table harassing the dog and playing with her brother's toys on the floor. I think we'll be doing some more baby proofing today, in addition to bringing in some baby gates that have been outside since Noah was old enough to stay away from the woodstove.

Other exciting news; the tiling is all done in the bathroom shower and around the tub. Over the next couple days the guys will be grouting and sealing and we should be able to shower in the bathroom by Saturday. Before we move all our stuff back into the bathroom we are going to try and finish the walls. Dustin will be mudding, sanding and painting in addition to building some walls, shelves and installing some light fixtures. We might actually have one room in the house completely finished.

Yesterday Noah and I designed the last branch of the tree, and set a few tiles. These photos are from the last few days so there is still some red showing, but not any more. There are two trees, one main tree on the shower wall that bends over and stretches out a couple limbs on the window wall above a bench. Above the bathtub is a smaller tree that frames the wall. There are 12" tiles on the bathroom floor, 2" tiles for the shower pan, 6" on the wall and 1" in the window, all slate. The tree is a mosaic pattern made out of Travertine, which is also a natural stone; formed when sand compresses together over a long period of time.

We have other trees in our house as well. In the center of our house we have a large spruce that is a support, our island wraps around a side of it. Upstairs we have a couple more small spruce in the opening of our loft which looks down on the rest of the house. Someday there may be a railing that connects to them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cold weather policy

Our cold weather policy varies depending on the time of the year. In early winter the weather always seems colder because none of us; chickens, goats as well as we humans, are use to the cooler temperatures. It is all relative. So we dress warmer and the goats shiver a bit until their winter coats grow in. Our bucks have a more insulated and smaller stall that holds the heat better, so generally they just get their heat lamp turned on when it gets colder than ten bellow zero. Right now it is on a timer to come on for an hour around midnight, just as a treat to get their area a little warmer for a comfy sleep. For most the winter I plug the girls' heat lamp in once the temperature gets below zero and unplug it when it warms up. Yesterday it was twenty below in the morning and ten below in the afternoon. It felt cold, but it was clear and sunny out which made it pretty nice out still. All the goats were out for most the day and I didn't see anyone acting cold. When it was ten below in December, everyone was much more reluctant to come outside. The goats have heated water tanks outside. We feed them grain and hay outside once or twice daily depending on the time of year. So no matter how cold it is, they have to get out and stretch their legs and get some fresh...cold air. If it is thirty below zero, or really windy or just snowing or raining hard, I will throw some hay into their stalls.Here is a picture of Xanadu on her way to get a drink. I shoveled a path to their water tank because the snow was so deep. I think snow in their feet seems to bother them more than the cold.

The chickens are pretty hardy. They have a heat lamp in their house that is on a timer and we adjust it depending on how cold it is. It is a red lamp so it can be on at night time and not disturb their sleep cycle. We also have a regular light that comes on for thirteen hours during the day. The heat lamp hangs above their water, and usually keeps it from freezing. We usually wait to open the chickens door to their outside pen until it is close to noon - so its warmer out by then. We close them in after the sun goes down. If the temperature is below zero we often leave them inside for the day. If the temperature has been twenty or thirty below zero for a while, I'll let them out as soon as it warms up significantly, maybe even five or ten below feels warm by then, and the birds are excited to get out for a little while anyway. So far this winter we've only had one of our Sexlink birds get frost bit on her comb. The bigger birds spend a lot more time outside when it is cold than the smaller birds. Well there are not many cold days left, and the sunny days make a big difference.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Egg numbers rising

Yesterday we got five eggs! The most we've gotten was six in early January, but then the girls dropped off significantly. February was our slowest month, we were getting one to two eggs a day out of our Sexlinks, and that was all. In the last ten days or so we've started getting an Americana egg every day or two, the Brahmas just started laying again and I think we got an egg out of each of them yesterday. Our Cochin and our Standard Cornish have also resumed laying, although we expect these two to lay the least of anyone.

Before our birds were laying I would buy two dozen eggs a week at the farmer's market for five dollars a piece. Some people are surprised that we can consume so many eggs. We cook almost all of our meals from scratch, eat fried eggs a few mornings a week, do a lot of baking and I make deviled eggs and egg salad every few weeks. It's really not hard to consume a lot of eggs when they are so good. For a while I was getting three dozen a week, and then they would build up a little more in the fridge. So we need four eggs a day to keep our family in eggs, but more is always better. Plus we are starting to save some for hatching. We have a habit of giving our eggs away and getting ourselves so low that we have to be on egg conservation status.

Anyway, as long as our birds remain healthy and we don't loose anymore I think the eight layers should keep our family in eggs, with unfortunately not enough extras to share as we'd like. Our intentions for this winter were to keep a dozen layers, but we lost a few. I think our hen house could easily keep a few more and I think we are going to build a rebar hoop-house and insulate the sides with hay bales. Walter has plans and pictures of a nice example on his Sugar Mountain Farm Blog. This would allow us to keep closer to two or three dozen layers and a couple more types of roosters.

So here is a great morning recipe for Pop Cakes; it is a family recipe that uses an egg per person and it is what I am eating for breakfast right now:
This is for one person, just double everything for two people and so forth. You can bake it all in one large bake dish or make individual ones for each person. For one person I use a six inch diameter dish with three inch sides. High sides are nice but you can be flexible with whatever sizes of dishes you have. Preheat oven to 425 and put a couple Tablespoons of butter in your dish and put it in the oven until the butter is brown and bubbly. Meanwhile in a medium size bowl whisk: one egg, 1/4 C all purpose flour, 1/4tsp. salt and then whisk in 1/4 C milk. Let it sit until your butter is ready then pour it into your dish scraping everything in and put it in the oven for about ten to fifteen minutes. Check at ten, you want the edges to be brown and firm. When done transfer to a plate and top with fresh fruit or jam and sprinkle with powder sugar. My favorite it wild Alaskan blueberry jam, but raspberry jam is great too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Chicken Update

About a month ago we had three chickens die in the space of a week. I was worried that we were about to have an epidemic and loose our flock. I still don't know why they died. We lost two Sexlinks and a Standard Cornish. Now our flock consists of two Sexlinks, one Standard Cornish(all by herself-without her buddy), two Brahma hens, two Brahma roosters, a Cochin and two Americanas. Everybody seems to be very healthy and perky. With the exception of today,(it's ten below zero this morning) we have been having some nice warm weather, mostly twenties during the days. So all the birds have been spending their afternoons enjoying the sun hitting their outdoor pen.

As far how we came up with this group of chickens...we wanted to raise heritage chickens. We also wanted dual purpose birds; the idea being that we could hatch our own eggs and keep the females for laying and put the extra roosters in the freezer come fall. So we ordered the Standard Cornish which is an ancestor of the Cornish Cross meat birds that are raised toda
y. These Cornish are extremely slow growing. At the end of this summer the roosters were still real small and we decided not to winter them over. We kept a couple hens because the birds were so small we thought they weren't worth putting in the freezer so we thought at least we'd get a couple eggs out of them. So that's how we now just have one lone Cornish, and I think she just started laying again. She is still growing. They have quite a different build than the rest of the birds, and it is amazing how much meat is on their small carcass. We might hatch a couple eggs and see what happens with the Brahma Cornish cross. This spring I think we are going to get 20-25 Cornish Cross. For the sole reason of having large roasters in about ten weeks time.

The Brahmas are one of the biggest chickens, they are very docile and mellow
. They are suppose to go broody and be good moms and ok layers, along with doing well in the cold. Well so far we love their temperament. They are easy to pick up and hold. The roosters have shown no aggressiveness to us. We have two roosters and they hardly ever fight with each other. The hens need to impress us with their laying or broody talents this spring. When all the other birds are inside the Brahmas are chillin outside together. They are certainly more cold tolerant.

We picked up a couple Sexlinks while waiting for the rest of our chicks to come in last spring. We have been so impressed with them. Sexlinks are basically a souped up hybrid layer. They lay big beautiful brown eggs, and a ton of them. They are our workhorse layers. They were laying two months earlier than anyone else, and they laid all through the cold spell. They have been our only bird supplying us with regular eggs over the last two months. We are down to just two of them, and we pretty much get an egg from each of them daily,impressive! As much as we want to raise heritage birds, I think we will be getting at least a handful of Sexlinks this spring.

We started out with eight Americanas this past spring, solely for the reason of having blue/green eggs. This past summer was a rough year for raising birds. Everyone I talked to had more losses than normal. It was a wet cool summer. We lost our share, mostly Americanas. We gave a couple away, we lost three and then one was a rooster. A friend of mine had several and was keeping some roosters so I thought we wouldn't have to. So we just kept two hens with the intention of getting more chicks from her this spring, well she lost all her Americanas this winter. Bummer. Our Americanas are our best layers next to the Sexlinks. We didn't get any eggs out of either of them for a couple months but they just started laying again. Up until early January we were getting about one blue egg a day,sometimes two. The egg color and shell quality are excellent. Much nicer than some other Americana eggs I've seen. So I think we 've found another Americana supplier for this spring.

Plans for this year; We are planning on getting a batch of Cornish Crosses to raise in a chicken tractor on pasture. We are going to get a handful of red Sexlinks from the feed store. I'm thinking of ordering about six to eight Americanas and about the same number of Welsummers from a small farm on the east coast. I can't remember their name but they've got some great bird and egg pictures. I've been looking into the Welsummers for a while now. They lay lovely dark brown eggs with spots on them. They are a heritage breed so they should make good foragers and moms. The chicks can be sexed at birth. The roosters are handsome and look like I think roosters should look. I think the roosters might be more work, in that they will be more aggressive than our roosters we have now, but we'll see. We are starting to collect Brahma eggs. I'm about to start leaving a couple marked eggs in the boxes to see if someone will go broody. We were given a Cochin this summer. Our friends had gotten her as an oddball in with their batch of meat birds so she had been their pet all summer so when they put their meat birds in the freezer they asked us if we wanted her. We mostly took her on because she should make a great mom and broody hen. She has been our only bird to go broody so far but it was too early. If she goes broody again in the next few months we will be ready to let her do her thing. She is our only bird with a name, Honey; she is a lovely buff hen. She is one of our more dominant birds, and doesn't put up with advances from the Roosters. It would be awesome to have at least one batch of chicks hatched by a hen this spring. Oneof our chicken tractors would be just right for a hen and her batch of chicks.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Driveway and Drifts

So I've been meaning to share some pictures from our last snowfall. We generally don't get a couple feet of snow at once, nor do we get much wind, so drifts are not an issue. We have had probably three feet or more of snow over the course of the winter- before this last snow fall, and I hadn't done any shoveling on farm paths yet, just the stairs, to the driveway and the porch. This is because we get a few inches here and there, and just pack the trails down daily as we do chores.

Dustin spent a couple days outside working on the driveway clearing all the snow with the snow-blower, and then we got the wind that blew all the snow back over the driveway, making it impassable for a few days.
The drifts in some spots were chest high.

The other problem we had was that our three year old hoop-house is on it's last leg and it can't support more than a few inches of snow. So I was getting out constantly to shovel the snow before it collapsed all over our hay, grain and tools. In past years I had a horse on the property
and she ate sooo much hay. We would fill the hoophouse from one end to the other and then some and she would slowly eat her way thru the pile and we would work on both edges so that the center of the hoophouse always had hay under it come spring. Well our seven goats do not eat as much hay as she did, and we've got the hay divided, with some up top by our does, so the hoophouse does not have as much support this winter. This is it's last year. This summer we are going to rebuild it with rebar.

Oops! This was our garden hoop-house. I was worried that it was going to collapse but we were so busy with the driveway and the hay hoop-house that this was neglected. We should have taken the plastic off in the fall but we were using it as a place to milk the goats until December and by then the snow had already built up along the sides. Now we will have to build it all over before planting this spring. On a positive note, now Dustin can improve upon the design and frame out the ends so we have a real door.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dreaming of Summer

I can proudly say that I am still enjoying the slow pace of winter and have not jumped the gun on anything, such as starting seeds to early, (as I often do). My kids can take all the credit, its really not intentional. I've just been preoccupied with keeping everyone fed and such. We are still in the middle of our tiling project, and we have had so much snow and blowing drifts that Dustin has spent a few hours every day this last week snow blowing the driveway. In fact we couldn't even get the truck up to our house for a few days and had to park at the bottom of our quarter mile up hill driveway. Coincidentally I didn't have the urge to leave the house for several days.

Well, as of today I got an email from a friend wanting to know if I wanted to order some nice Americana and Welsummer chicks along with her. The Welsummer's lay just beautiful dark brown eggs, some with dark spots on them. The other day another friend called and is trying to talk me into ordering a doeling with her, cause she wants to order one but not two, and it costs the same amount to ship two. Anyway it doesn't take much to get me looking at goat kids from different farms... and next you know it I'm emailing and asking questions about pricing and such.

I got out tonight and took all five of our does out for a walk just as the sun was setting. The pathways around the place were still unshoveled with foot holes here and there, so without shoveling I got the girls to help widen and level the pathways. It was good to see them out and moving. I should be exercising them more often, now that their pen has gotten so deep all at once they aren't venturing out away from the feeders much. Two of the girls are due to kid in just four or five weeks. So far kidding season has seemed so far away, but its coming up fast. So here are a couple of kid pics from last spring to hold us over till 2009 babies are here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The kids lately

While the guys were busy messing up the house... and making progress as well, I've just been trying to keep two kids alive and well. Here are a few picture from our house-sitting vacation at my folks. Here is Avery getting fed smashed bananas, and then just playing on the floor. Noah spent some time enjoying the big windows and the view. One of the feeders was positioned perfectly, watching the birds feed was day long entertainment.

O.K. so I was just recently commenting on how I was still enjoying the beauty of the snowfalls and it being March now. Well, I am now home and faced with the reality of how much work eight inches in a day is. It took me twice as long or longer to do farm chores this morning. We have gotten at least eight inches today and snow is forcasted over the next few days. Dustin spent the morning snow blowing the driveway. We have had the same hay hoophouse for three winters and it is on its last leg. It is going to collapse if it gets more than a few inches on it. I'm trying to get out there morning and night to shovel it but it is a lot of work. The hoop-house is about twelve by twenty four feet and the sides are piled high with a winter's worth of snow. I find it slightly ironic that we get so much snow after the cold spells are over, beings that we need and want the snow early in the winter to protect the perennials and such.

Well here is a picture of our newly finished granite tiled kitchen. We starte
d this project last spring but ran out of tile and money. So we finally ordered some more tile and our tile guy finished the job. We did not do the tiling ourselves; however, Dustin did build the surfaces and do all the rocking. His co-worker Tyson is doing all our tile work. We are very happy with his work. It's lovely Tyson, Thankyou. Can't wait to see the finished bathroom and entry.

The following is a picture of our sink and prep area, the trim, back-splash and window area were the final touches so desperately needed to finish off the kitchen.