We have a big snowstorm coming. In preparation my husband drove over and bought some grain from a nearby farmer this morning. We're now stocked up on 1600 lbs. of grain and here is my husband out unloading it pail full by pail full from the truck on our very blustery afternoon.
Since our sheep ladies are expecting lambs soon, we needed to move the calf and sheep out of their paddock. So now they are in a pasture just outside the windows of the room we do our homeschooling and warming by the fireplace. It's so fun to get to see the calf go frolicking across the field several times per day!
He's about 8 months old now, and still so mellow and friendly. He's a Holstien/Hereford cross and will be our beef next fall. I banded him myself a few months ago. I never did get to tell that story, but lemme tell ya, that was a nerve wracking event! I ordered this big, scary banding tool and the tiniest, very thick rubber bands from Jeffers Pet. My husband tied the calf up to a fence panel, then I approached him with my big scary banding tool. I had to squat down behind him and get the tool that had the rubber band stretched open in it, between his huge beefy legs and around his testicles. And then release the tool which left the rubber band behind to cut off circulation to his manly part. All the while making sure he didn't freak out and slam me in the face with his big beefy hooves. OY!
The biggest problem for me was that I was imagining the pain I was going to inflict on him! My stomach was in knots, I even got dizzy a few times. I thought the event was going to be extremely painful for him and I would be eaten up with guilt watching him kick and run in pain with that rubber band on his parts. So I got the band around him and removed the tool as gingerly as possible, then jumped back expecting him to freak out in pain. And then? Nothing! How weird is it that he never even seemed to notice the thing was there?! That teeny rubber band cut off the circulation to both his testicles, eventually causing the entire business to dry up and fall off. It took weeks and weeks and he never even seemed to notice.
So now he's a steer instead of a bull. They say you shouldn't ever keep bulls around unless you have a very good reason to (breeding) and you have very strong fencing. They can be dangerous, they can & do trample and kill people now and then. That doesn't sound like something smart to keep around when we have young children about the place, and very not strong fencing. So the deed had to be done.
Anyway, the photo above is from today, with the calf wandering about investigating the snow, and his little goat buddy in their shelter. Nearly all our winds, rains, and snows come from the south. That little shelter is just right for them and keeps them out of the winds, etc. since it faces the other direction. We purchased that goat to butcher for meat, but he fast became the calf's best friend, so, now his job is calf buddy instead of goat burger. They curl up together at night.
Here are some of my silly boys doing silly things while the winds howl outside.
Some pretty clouds from a few days ago.
And a pretty moon!
My poor husband is allergic to Planet Earth and everything on it. He seems to be especially allergic to timothy hay which is highly unfortunate for a farmer. He needed new handkerchiefs to carry around and be sniffly in. I whipped up a quick batch using my new rotary cutter tool that's for cutting out quilt squares. I love that thing! I have no idea how I got by without it.
I just cut out some squares and stitched around the edges. Here is the finished product. All ready for my poor, cursed, sniffly husband.
At the same time I was also whipping up another batch of canned broth (I did pressure can it- that water bath canner in the background was being used by my husband for some husbandly project). Long ago I started making soup stock/broth using the recipe from Nourishing Traditions. Over the years I've just tossed together whatever veggie parts and pieces I have laying around, and/or some onions, in with random animal parts and bones and simmered them all day. No measuring of any kind goes on. Often, I just stick a hunk of meaty animal - bones, organs and all, in my pressure cooker and pressure cook it at 15 lbs. pressure for 15 mins. When it's all cooled I remove all the meat, strain what's left, and can the strained broth without even bothering with the veggies. It's yummy & contains all sorts of great nutrients either way.
Cheese draining. I can barely keep up with the cheese making! I'm super grateful for all the cheese I'm stocking us up on, but it sure is a constant time consuming project. I make a batch about 5 days per week. And sometimes 2 in one day because there is no room for food in our milk-filled fridge! I'm still using the Farmhouse Cheddar recipe from "Ricki the cheese queen's" book. Once I really have that perfected and I'm feeling adventurous, I'll move on to another recipe.
We've been looking into selling some milk. Groan. Why is it that selling raw milk is practically like selling pot in the eyes of the law?? It's crazy! We would have to become certified in order to sell raw milk. That takes veterinary visits and tests that would equal more than $400 every year. But without certification, people can can be sued and sent to jail! For sharing awesome, nourishing, wonderful FOOD that humans have drank for zillions of years- raw cow's milk. Pretty discouraging.
We've been able to begin butchering our own roosters! And a few given to us by a generous neighbor. So that makes us officially self sufficient when it comes to our chicken meat, our milk, cream cheese, cheese, and eggs. I love it! This is a picture of a recent rooster, obviously butchered ourselves- how do you like all those feathers still in the legs? lol
I have some bad news about Brown Rooster. Remember him? The one that walked around in the snow like a weirdo. The other day he attacked our 2 year old! The darn rooster. Poor him, he doomed himself the moment he decided to viciously attack our son's back. Thankfully our 2 year old was wearing his pig, puffy winter coat and wasn't harmed by those mean rooster claws. That rooster was so pretty, and fun because he hung out directly under our windows and crowed. I loved hearing him. But when I saw him attacking my son's back, my mama bear instincts raged and I wanted to kick that rooster across the sky! But instead, he had a nice, instant, humane death and became rooster soup. In fact, I made Cream of Rooster Noodle Soup and parmesan-rosemary biscuits that I brought with us to a friend's house for dinner. :) Which was very fun, by the way. A local homeschooling family with 7 children. It was great!
We live in the most beautiful country. Each time I leave my house I see postcard perfect views and I'm awestruck by the vast prettiness of it all. (This photo is a little dark)
Driving into town.
I need to go back and edit the photo I posted before about our first guinea egg. It turns out it wasn't a guinea egg after all but a little Banty's who had just begun laying small, grey eggs. Here is a guinea egg! It's the one on top in this picture. Teeny tiny! The one in the middle is a big hen's egg, and the bottom one is from that little Banty.
Isn't this such a neat array of eggs?? These are all chicken eggs except the tiniest one which is a guinea's. I love having such a variety of chicken breeds so we can enjoy the rainbow of their eggs!
But still, even with this wide variety of hens and their eggs, almost all the ones that we hatch out in the incubator look just like that one Silver Americana rooster! He is truly the king of the barnyard.
My 6 year old & today's craft project.
Kids eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches are cute.
While I was out milking recently, my husband and kids created this hilarious card for me. My husband drew the farm animals and moon and the kids cut them out and colored them.
And back to the topic of cheese...... Our house is too humid! I'm having mold problems on my drying cheeses. Yum! Doesn't that look appetizing!
We have a bizarrely large bathroom. It doubles as a storage room for us. On the counter here is a bin full of aging cheeses and a couple bins of worms busily composting stuff into super fertile soil. A thoughtful friend gave us these vermicomposting bins as a housewarming gift! How cool is that. Most people get wine and a houseplant... :p Also, in the mirror you can see our towel covered bucket of sauerkraut fermenting rather stinkily on the counter. I won't show you the chaotic bathtub. It's too cold to take baths (we shower) and the oversize tub has become my holding tank for the zillions of clothes all the kids are constantly growing out of, or clothes we have been gifted or cute girl things I picked up at thrift stores for years down the road... Clothes clothes clothes that need to be sorted into their appropriate bins in the garage.
Let's see..... besides all that I thought I'd mention a few things in response to recent blog comments:
My sicky munchkin that had the seizure at the end of December is doing much better, thank you all for asking.:) He had some digestive issues for several weeks afterward that confused the heck out of me until I ended up bringing him to a doctor. We are awaiting test results now to see if perhaps our son has/had a parasite or a bad bacteria. Since our doctor visit last week though, he has been improving, thank goodness. The poor kid had such painful stomach cramps there for awhile.
Regarding all the jars of canned food, I didn't can all those just this year. ;) I've been canning for about 5 years and am constantly adding to and subtracting from my stash. We don't rely on our jarred foods as much as our bulks, but I do love to can up good stuff while it's in season, and have plenty of good foods that don't keep in a bucket like our bulk foods. Some favorites around here are applesauce, venison stew, broths (I use in cooking all the time), and I adore pickled beets.
We do live on a county maintained road. We're so grateful that the county sends plows all the way out here! The USPS won't even send a mail carrier out here. :p We have a long driveway though that we have to maintain ourselves.
Well, Gertie awaits her milking. I'd better go drain my cheese and get super bundled up. Blustery snowfall here I come!
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