Archive for November, 2009

The Welcoming Committee

This morning, hubby and I went out to feed the goats and discovered that the farm’s welcoming committee had arrived. We have a  free-range flock of 12 or so guinea-fowl that rush around the farm very importantly, clucking loudly all the while. It’s hard not to imagine them as middle-aged women from the 1930s wearing straw hats, chattering excitedly about the next Ladies’ Guild meeting. Well… okay, maybe I’m getting carried away with the imagery. Here’s a shot of them inside the goats’ pen:

The goats, by the way, stayed as far away from these birds as possible. Here’s a closer shot of the flock a while later:

Can’t you just picture them with little straw hats, carrying a purse and gloves? I get the mental picture of Almira Gulch (the “real” Wicked Witch of the West) riding around on her bicycle  every time I see them racing off to some new important guinea-fowl event:

Am I wrong? Okay, okay, I’ll drop the imagery, but really – these birds are hilarious! Anyhow, the goats are doing much better today:

The stuff stuck in Hamlet’s coat is just straw this time:

This morning was sunny for a change – and we were all out enjoying it.

Our Goats are Morons

First, a quick note on Thanksgiving. We spent it at the farm with Hubby’s (large) extended family and some close friends – it was wonderful, as always. There were 33 of us in total. LOTS of cooking on Thurs. I took care of the vegetarians in the group with a homemade tofurky and veggie stuffing … NONE of which I took pictures of, because it was that frantic of a day, but I had loads of fun and was constantly reminded of  people I am very, very thankful for having in my life.

Now as to our goats, which I will hereafter refer to as Moron 1 and Moron 2. The story starts with a new fenced area Hubby and I put up for the goats to live in (they had been living in the livestock barn because of the fall festival) – a really nice, big open area that’s probably 1/4 to 1/3 of an acre. Here’s a shot of part of the pen:

That little red shelter in the back is for them to keep out of the wind / rain / snow (the tall barn right behind it, mostly obstructed by trees, that’s our barn – nice and close). Okay, see how behind that shelter there’s a line of brush and trees that makes up the whole back side of the pen? There’s a preexisting fence on the other side of the woods (can’t see it in the photo), so we decided to just attach the side fences to it and enclose the wooded area in the pen. We figured they might enjoy munching on low-hanging tree branches and bushes, but we ASSUMED they would be smart enough to avoid the thorny brambles. Wrong! (Maybe we’re the morons here.)

We brought them to their new pen on Wednesday night and by early Thursday morning, Ivan had gotten so tangled up in thorny branches that he literally couldn’t move. Hubby and I put on leather gloves and cut him free – then we had to chase him around whilst pulling the thorny branches out of his coat. What a mess! So later that day, Hubby tried to cut down all the thorny brambles in the pen, but gave up when the goats kept running through (and getting caught in) his piles of cut branches. The problem is they they really LIKE eating the brambles, thorns and all.  Here’s a shot of Hamlet all covered in them:

They are actually STUCK in his fur – and the little turkey kept running away when we’d try to pull them off. Utter mess.

So today, hubby put up a fence between their little house and the wooded area to keep them out of the brambles, and we caught each of them and picked off the big branches that were stuck in their fur. After only 3 days of being “outside” their coats are trashed! All kinds of thorny bits and burrs and other types of vegetable matter are nested in them. Hubby suggested we comb them out, but…that’s WAY too much work. I think he’s right, though, this batch of fiber is largely going to be unusable. After the spring shearing, I’m putting blankets on them. I’ve only ever seen this done to sheep, but too bad – I can’t trust these two!

Here they are earlier today trying to eat the thorn bushes through the fence – they must be REALLY tasty:

Goat Grooming

Apparently goats need their hooves trimmed now and again, so after much hemming and hawing and trepidation hubby and I set out to give Ivan and Hamlet their pedicures. Well…really, hubby did all the work while I helped keep the animals calm. He made fun of me several times for cooing to the goats as if they were small children – “There’s a good goat, yes you’re a good goat, aren’t you?” I can’t really blame him.

Here’s a shot of Ivan laying down (they really just plop over and relax if you ease them onto their side) while hubby trims his hooves and Hamlet (who’s next) stands in the back and pretends not to notice what’s going on:

We were expecting the hooves to be really hard (which is why I didn’t even bother trying), but hubby tells me the outer shell is quite hard, while the middle of the hoof is quite soft like – say – gummy bears… or jello! Sorry, dear readers, sometimes I can’t help but be a vegetarian menace and remind the meat eaters of the world that Jello (gelatin, that is) actually comes from animal hooves/bone. Yuck!

Here’s a (somewhat blurry) shot of Ivan’s hoof after trimming – the softer inner and harder outer parts are pretty evident:

All in all a pretty successful day!

Berkeley Springs, WV

This past weekend, hubby and I took a short trip to Berkeley Springs, WV – a cute little artsy, hippie haven in an otherwise middle-of-nowhere county – that we’ve been visiting every year since 2006. It’s just a 2 hr drive from the farm and has the most wonderful spas and restaurants (such as Tari’s and Lot 12), in addition to art galleries and antique shops.  Berkeley Springs is the source of mineral-rich “warm springs” (hence all the spas) and has been host to several of our founding fathers, who frequented the springs for relaxation and medicinal purposes. Lots of great history in a really low-key, yet fun atmosphere.

Here are some photos of the town square (where the warm springs originate):

The mineral water bubbles up into this trough and is channeled throughout the park by way of several canals.

I’m usually not a huge fan of antiques partially due to my allergies and partially due to my perceived “ickyness” at buying really old used stuff (silly, I know) – but we did make a couple purchases I’m excited about. Hubby found these old, rusty shears and has promised to get them cleaned up and in working order for us to use on the goats:

And I found some old wooden thread bobbins to use in some future crafting adventure (okay, I don’t really have a plan for them – but aren’t they cool?!):

Weekend Baking

I love baking pies – but as luck would have it, my husband’s Uncle owns a pie factory. They make all manner of very, very tasty pies – most of which feature ingredients grown on their organic farm in Central Virginia.  Their pies are available at our farm for much of the year: we sell them at our vegetable stands in summer and during the Fall Festival AND they bring plenty to Thanksgiving dinner every year.  So – as one might imagine – there is no point in me baking pies anymore!  But every now and again, my urge to bake a pie coincides with plenty of free time, and I MUST bake.

Last weekend was just such an occasion, so I pulled out my stack of Cook’s Illustrated Magazines (which I highly recommend, by the way) and found a couple recipes. First up, skillet apple pie – you start by sauteing peeled, sliced apples in butter:

Then you add a mixture of spices, cornstarch, and apple cider to coat the apples, and then you cover everything with a layer of crust (clearly, I’m not too fussy about looks):

I put the whole thing into the oven at 500 deg for 20 min:

And presto! All baked and pretty darn tasty!


The second and final pie was a mostly-from-scratch pumpkin pie. I started by roasting a pie pumpkin and (upon my mother-in-law’s recommendation) a “neck pumpkin” or butternut squash. I chopped both in half, then into pieces that would fit on baking sheets, and roasted them in the oven at 350 deg for 1 hr:

After baking (which I forgot to get a photo of), the walls of the gourds were soft and I easily scooped out the “flesh” and ran it through a food processor. I decided to use the pie pumpkin for the pumpkin pie and freeze the butternut squash for soup sometime later.

Fast forward to having made the crust and the pie filling (which contains the pumpkin, a can of candied yams [hence “mostly-from-scratch”], cream, vanilla, egg and spices), and having baked it – this is what it looked like as it was cooling:

It’s a much more custard-y pie than your typical canned Libby’s version, which I really liked. I think this will be my go-to recipe from now on.

And now that my baking urge has been satisfied for another few months, I’ll go back to my knitting…

Recent FOs

It’s been a busy couple weeks at work / school so I haven’t been particularly prolific with my knitting, but I did manage to finish a couple items.

Here’s the toddler sweater I’ve been working on for my nephew (I last blogged about it here) – it’s called the Hooded Jacket from Debbie Bliss’s Simply Baby (Ravelry details here):

Second, I recently learned that some friends had their baby girl on Halloween so I whipped up a quick pair of baby legwarmers with some yarn I had in my stash (Ravelry details here):

That’s all for now. Hubby and I are heading out to Berkeley Springs, WV, (our favorite close-to-home getaway spot) this weekend, so I’m sure I’ll get some knitting done between spa treatments and yummy dinners. Ahhh, can’t wait!

Our Cats

At the risk of sounding like a crazy cat lady, I’m going to devote this entire post to our cats, Luna and Draco. They showed up at the farm a couple years ago as tiny, starving kittens, and hubby convinced me to keep them. The thing is, readers, I’m allergic. VERY allergic. Which is a shame because I really do like cats – something about their self-reliant slinkyness; so aloof and yet so snuggly.  Our cats live outdoors – they roam around the farm, hunting mice and birds (and goodness knows what else) at night, nap the day away on our porch, and get plenty of love from all the people that work & live here.  I was wary of keeping them at first, but now I’m so glad we did – I get to go outside and pet them, then wash my hands, and go back into my cat-free home (and never have to deal with a litter box!).

I took this photo on Saturday – Draco is quite the daredevil, perching himself on high places like our second-story barn window (which is right outside the front door to our apartment):

For some perspective, this is the view to the ground (we live right over a workshop):

Draco as a kitten (such big ears!):

And not to leave Luna out, here’s one of her as a kitten, already showing off her vicious-killer side (notice the mouse by her back paw):

Luna is a little bit too cool to hang out with us all the time. She roams around the farm and comes back every few days for some attention.  Draco, on the other hand, follows us around like a puppy dog, and isn’t always very bright – we think he might have suffered a bit of brain damage from his ordeal as a kitten – but it just makes him more lovable.

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I love hearing from my readers! Feel free to contact me via comments or at this address:

rambleonrosemary [at] gmail [dot] com

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November 2009
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