Saturday, May 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Mr.Boss and Willow's schoolfriend, Happy Full Moon too.

Well, as usual I have had a busy week, helping out in a small commercial kitchen making delectable Maine made products.

I spent one day having some cars repairs; the aging Subbie having been making protesting noises out the front end, a CV shaft needed replacing and I was praying it wasn't also the Ujoint going.

Thank goodness it was just the rattling heat shield, which my mechanic removed by cutting my electric fence wiring job I kept improvising.

The CV joint was another adventure-the passenger side is apparently impossible to get to and they threw in their share of improvising, causing me several moments of panic before I decided to retreat into the pile of yesterday's news I had picked up for the brooding guinea keets.


Today I had agreed to work at the goat farm for girls enjoying the holiday weekend.  Piece of cake, right?

Well, B&B guests left both Mr. and Mrs Boss busy, so I was left with Mr. Boss' share of the chores, which include feeding the wethers.

Wethers are neutered bucks, and it is my opinion they never stop growing.  Those boys are huge.  Several of them could easily be ridden to the capital and back, although by the time they reach that size they are rather elderly, they don't lack in spirit when the grain hits the trough.

Mr. Boss, being a tough man, even though into his 70's, chooses to feed the wethers en masse, putting down two window box style feeders on the fence. Inside the wether pen, meaning one has to go into the pen to dump the grain.

This has never really been an issue for me, the boys are pushy as is the wont of goats in sight of anything yummy, but despite being eligble for AARP myself, I have managed fine in the past.

Mr Boss over the years has had his share of tumbles, and Mrs. Boss put me in my place when I once defended a repair I made to a hole when I explained I was worried for Mr. Boss.

"He can take care of himself," she had replied.

This past winter Mr. Boss had a huge gash in his forehead which the Firebird had noticed-when I was in the barn he kept it well covered with several caps until he bent down to pick up the dog dish, the hat slipped over his eyes, and he pushed it back over the gash and I saw it.

He looked at me and I said nothing, (for a change, I am known all around for my big mouth as my reader can readily understand)

Shortly after that, I had asked him, because the chore was falling to me, how he fed the wethers, and he described how much grain, where to hang the feeders, and then said, and "then you just try and stay on your feet!"

So I presumed the gash was a result of the boys and the ice and so on, in my own head.

At any rate, now you have the background information, today I had to feed the wethers.

I suppose I made them wait a bit longer than they are accustomed-I had asked Mrs. Boss if I should feed them right away or clean first, and she had said to clean first.

Well, being dandelion season, also known as "pis en lit" or pee the bed, the barn was soaked, and I spent some time before I got around to feeding the boys.

I went through my usual routine, and when I dumped the grain into the feeders there was a crush of 6 big- well over 200 pound-boys with horns... with me in the middle.

One of the places a feeder is hung is a two foot high bit of hog panel. One or more of them gave me a big shove from behind, and I went head first over the hog panel and saved my head by catching my palms on the cement on the other side.

Then I was in the inglorious position of feet on one side, hands down on the other, feeder under my stomach, and ass up in the air, with 6 hungry horned wethers trying to get the grain.

I couldn't go back with them behind, so I decided to pull my legs over the panels.

The first leg immediately became entwined in horns.

It felt like two separate goats' horns, and they were fighting over the grain under my stomach and here I was on my palms over the fence, ass up in the air, leg stuck between horns.

I thought of the guests having breakfast in the gazebo, "oh, breakfast AND a SHOW!"

Finally my leg was released and I finished crawling over the fence, picked up the grain can, and hobbled out of the pen without looking back, trying to laugh and not limp and muster as much little dignity I had left.

Mr. Boss seemed quite cheery when he poked his head out later...a nice little birthday present, Karma for calling your 70+ year old Boss unsteady on his feet.  Took awhile, but I think we are even now.

I told Mrs. boss what had occurred later, and she said, "no one said anything!" but then added, "It was quite the mob scene!"

I noticed the guests taking photos and video with some high-end equipment as they were leaving later, so I may "end up" on You-Tube in the future.  Literally.


Once all the farm chores were finally finished, I had to hurry home to take the Willow to a birthday party, which had come with the instructions, "bring bathing suit and boots."

The Willow is not a strong swimmer despite my efforts, nor had she had much riding experience other than one trip on the farm mare when the grandchildren visited,

"hold the reins like a hamburger," I told her-as I  had been instructed.

So I was a bit apprehensive.  I have found that a lot of parents were not subjected to the same safety standards to which I was growing up.

We have had rain all week, and rain today, so I called before the party for directions and to find out if bathing suit and boots were still necessary.

I introduced myself over the phone and asked to whom I was speaking and managed to find out it was indeed the girl's mother, whose name I was never  able to obtain.

I got directions, was left feeling a bit out of sorts, but attributed it to the fact there had also been a slumber party the night before and assumed the mother was short on sleep.

I thought I was lost, but we did arrive and I went in and introduced myself to the group of adults, never receiving a name in return, but being assured that was the party location and the girls were in another part of the house, I left promising to return at the time directed on the invitation.

At the appointed time I arrived and picked up the Willow, and she was no sooner in the car than she had her own tale of woe, involving another party-goer.

Several of the girls had gone to the barn to see the horses, and the Willow, being an experienced farm girl,had put on her boots.

Another girl, who had spent the night, had soaked her boots the night before, and today went to the barn in flip-flops.

The girls went into the stall.  The nervous mare stepped on the foot of the girl in flip-flops and tore the toenail right off her toe.

The birthday girl's mother did not, nor any of the adults, go to the barn with the girls, and one of the other girls carried the injured girl back to the house.

The other girls tried to call the injured girl's mother on the phone, and after several attempts, finally reached her and she said she would be there AFTER she went to the store.

The injured girl was still there when I left with the Willow.

Then I learned that Willow had, at some point, been on the back of BOTH the mare AND the stallion-with no saddle or halter, while they were in the barn.  No hard hat.

I was thankful I had told her that if she did get on a horse, to take a handful of mane and hang on, that it wouldn't hurt the horse, and if she fell off her butt or feet would land first, and no matter what, not to save herself with her hands (as I had done earlier in the wether pen).  I had a friend break an arm falling off my mare because she put her arm out.

So, call me an old stick in the mud, but I was taught, by professionals:

1.  ALWAYS wear a heeled shoe or boot in the saddle.

2. NEVER get on a horse without a hard hat or helmet.

3. NEVER get on horseback in a barn.

4. NEVER get near a horse with open toed shoes or barefoot.

5. If you have to walk behind a horse, speak and stay as close to their behind as possible, because if they try and kick you they can only bump you with their hocks.  You don't want to be three feet or more away because that is the impact zone.

6. Don't feed a treat to young ones from your hand, they will become nippers.  Put it in a bucket and let them eat from that.  If you do hand treat, keep your hands FLAT and fingers out of the way.  Fingers look like carrots!

These are safety rules for a REASON. Right now there is a young girl that will have a permanently disfigured toe because those rules were not followed.  And it is only luck that is the only girl to limp away with an injury.


Happy Full Moon

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


What else can I say?  Two artists and an brainy athlete, although the artists will argue they are also athletes. they are beautiful and I am blessed,.  Gracias.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Cold late spring or no, things have finally burst.  We had a long ten day to two week dry spell. I planted a few things around the full moon in April-lettuce,beets, peas, broccoli, radish, turnip green, spinach...then a big dry spell.  Two years ago I was crying because my garden was a swamp this time of year.

The peas were old and one came up out of the whole packet.  I think they were more than three years old.  I used to know a place I could get a grab bag of the previous year's seed for a few bucks. a big bundle of seed, and every year would buy more and never plant the half of it.

One year I forgot my growing stash of seed on the lawn and it got rained on.  I found a couple I peeled apart to plant this year-cukes and tomatoes, so we'll see how they manage.

Other than the peas, the radish came up like gangbusters, neatly spaced so no need for thinning, although a stretch of nothing in the row at one point. Of course, I don't really like radish, but they are fun to pull up.

 Next on the success list was the turnip greens. I don't really like turnip either, but I do like a variety of greens, so maybe this will be nice, since the spinach was a total no show. The lettuce is just starting in the new bed, not great. I think the beets might be coming up. The broccoli was a no show.

Friday on the New moon I planted like a fiend. Snow peas I saved from my own peas last year.  Purple podded saved stock as well.  I found two really old packets of sweet corn, and recalling the pea failure I thought soaking the seed overnight might be helpful, so I did that and carefully planted each seed as it went in the ground.

More lettuce.  Carrots. Green beans a fairly newer old packet (last year bought this year).  Cosmos Marigolds cabbage . Four varieties of tomatoes and peppers in flats.

I planted old collard seeds two years ago and have had it ever since.  The first year a plant actually overwintered.  Then it threw seedlings.  I found about a dozen seedlings growing and sort of divided them up in a chunk of the bed and they are doing well.  I found a couple clumps of garlic that I kept forgetting to dig, and divided that and put it in a row next to the chives, where it is struggling.  I don't think garlic likes chives, because the chives are really kicking butt right now in that rich location.

We had a couple days of light rain since then, and I keep saying, "see those oldtimers knew what they were saying when they said to plant on the New Moon- the weather just cooperates better, nice gentle rain for two days, woo-yea."

you ought to see what the trees and dandelions thought of that, hanging in stasis between growth waiting for the sign, and the New Moon brought that nice soaking rain.  The grass, the weeds, the bleeding heart has gone from ground level to three feet high and covered in blossoms in two weeks.

Siberian Iris are well over a foot, the day liliies are thick and rank, the bee balm looks good-even one of my two rhodedendrons deigned to blossom this year.

The chicks!  I had eight surviving out of 22 eggs.  The goose eggs were a failure.  The length of time I held the eggs before incubation seemed to have no effect on the hatch rate.  The eggs that didn't hatch were those on the side closest to the ventilation holes.  So either they were too cold or too dry or both.  I turned the eggs in place for the most part during incubation, so I am not sure if relocating the holes, or moving the eggs around would get higher hatch rate.

I did have other issues, I had to help most of the chicks from the shell.  I don't think that was me being hasty, because I had several die pipped without me helping.  I lost a couple I tried to help, but I pretty much assisted 7 out of the eight, and a couple were bleeders that I applied yarrow to.

I lost the one with the eggs sack, although that shrunk up and he was flounding around the unhatched eggs when I left that morning-I decided to follow advice and leave him there since he was weak- he was dead when I came home.. and later I found a  chick pipped face down dead, and I am not sure if the other chick's floundering rolled that one over or not.

So, in the future, I would take them right out of the incubator.,

The young barred rock had offspring hatch in the incubator, because I recognized one of her eggs afterwards. 

The Firebird and I both found ticks on us-I really hate ticks. So I seriously started looking at ordering some guinea hens. But most places have a minimum of 15-30 and I didn't want that many.

Lo and behold I stopped off to buy some grain and they had chicks for sale-including pearl guinea keets! So I bought a half a dozen.They are wicked cute, in the chicks brooder location. I moved my babies to the outside brooders and have been worried like an old mother hen, because our nights have been chilly.


I have turned into a dandelion fanatic. A few weeks ago I dug a bunch of plants before they flowered and have a dandelion beer fermenting. More of a hedgerow mead, I suppose.

The recipe promised fermentation in three days and drinking in a week. I was sold. I have brewed a number of batches of beer in my ancient history, and have seen plenty of three day fermentations and drinking in two weeks (much better if you can wait, but who can wait when it's that darn good?)

So Like an idiot, I went to all that trouble and then used old brewer's yeast a friend have given me. I pitched it hot, re ptiched it, realized it was probably dead, and sprinkled some fleishman's on top for good measure. LMAO.

I had two airlocks, so I put it up in two gallon water jugs, melting an airlock sized hole in the plastic top with a hot...knife steel.  I actually had to peruse my steel collection, because airlocks have a pretty wide diameter to match to metal.

One of the jugs has had the most faithful fermentation I have ever seen.  It took a couple days to get going, and then blurp, blurp blurp-for the last three weeks.  I really need to rack it.

The other jug I totally screwed with, I was worried about the old brewer's yeast and right after I pitched it I decided to pour it off the sediment in case it gave an off flavor, so I did.  But then it was quite a bit short of a gallon.  I had a bit extra I put in a jelly jar and a beer bottle with muslim and a rubber band on top, so after a couple days when just number two was still quiet, I added the jelly jar hoping the yeast in that would kick-start number two.

About a week after that and it was still quiet, I opened it up and poured a cup of sugar in.  HAHAHAQ Mount dandelion vesuvius! Well that got a response!

Then I made another lid for the airlock, because I was wondering if the seal was bad and it wasn't really an airlock.  So now I am getting the occasional blurp along with jug number one, and  they are starting to clear, so I will probably rack them in a day or two and then see.

Well yesterday I thought I should do something about the undisturbed beer bottled covered with muslin. So I carefully poured it off into a jelly jar. Cloudy. I tasted a teaspoon.  WOW. I thought it had a lot of potential.

I punched a hole in the lid of the jelly jar with a 20D nail and fitted a small diameter hose into it, which I stuck the other end in another jar of water. It's a form of blow off hose, but can be rigged as an airlock in a pinch.  I was scared to bottle the bottle until I knew if it had completely fermented.  I have heard stories of exploding bottles. That's quiet and the sediment is settling.

Well, I had to give dandelion wine another try! Beer is made from the early root because of the sugar starch content, and flowers from the wine...

I decided I was going to pick 5 gallons of blossom. HAHAHA! I asked Bosses if they would mind if I picked some blossoms from their field and they both laughed and said to help myself. SO I had at it.

I picked for an hour. I picked as fast as I could for an hour.  The herd of goats in the field thought I was nuts. The Great Pyranees thought I was nuts.  I was starting to wonder if I was nuts. As I picked, I recalled all my saplings in turn coming to me with the traditional dandelion bouquet as toddlers, "Look mummy I picked yo some fowwers!"

I remembered picking my first dandelions. I remembered the only other time I attempted dandelion wine and picked those flowers, and it seemed a lot faster, dang!

I Picked 7 quarts of blossoms in an hour. Well, that is what they meausured four hours later and you know how fast they wilt. Heck, they were already starting to ferment.

My cute young co-worker turned 21 today. I was telling her that I was going to pick some blossoms later and she told me a bud of hers had given her a book on how to make alcohol out of everykind of plant imaginable-which I thought was totally cool and wish I could remember the title.

But after I finished crawling around the pasture on my hands and knees for an hour, I had to confess that dandelion wine must be a young person's drink, no matter what they say about grandma's recipe, lol.

and, I am sad to report, I did not see ONE bee in the hundreds of blossoms I crawled through today. I saw one tiny deformed looking bumblebee, a couple of ants, and several winged flies. No honey bees. Not one. An organic farm in the middle of nowhere, and no honeybees.