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May 31, 2009

Gulf Coast Sheep!

I had a wonderful time today picking up the sheep from Terri and Brien at Callista Creek Farm.

They patiently answered all my questions, showed me all their sheep, demonstrated how their working dog Brock works (fascinating), and served a wonderful lamb stew for lunch! I only wish they did not live so far away!

We ended up with 2 ewes (Latte and Leche, both 2 yo), U2 a yearling ewe, Rambo a polled ram, and 2 more youngsters Brownie and Blackie (cross bred wether and ewe for freezer lambs).

May 30, 2009

Week of 5/25/09

Monday 05/25/09
Happy Memorial Day!
We enjoyed a fairly lazy and low key day; up until chore time this evening. That is when we noticed the bees were swarming! A huge cloud was all about the garden, 1000s of bees in the air! Within a few short minutes they were thick on a tree branch. We geared up and captured the swarm; it helps to have an extra hive handy!

Tuesday 05/26/09
Dave installed UV screens on the back porch today; they make a huge difference in the afternoon (porch faces west)! They are such a nice addition, making it possible for us to spend afternoons on the porch.
Dave also replaced the latch on the side gate, no more squeaking!
I did not feel like cooking so we had “fend for yourself” (aka leftovers) for dinner.

Wednesday 05/27/09
Hattie gave 2.5 gallons this morning. Vera is getting more used to us. She seems to be the babysitter a lot of the time—staying with Princess in the field while Hattie goes elsewhere to graze. Most Jerseys have an incredible mothering on instinct, if she was in milk I have no doubt she would have tried to fully adopt the calf.
Melissa sent over a bee hive, hopefully when the next hive swarms we can catch it for them. Tom stopped by this afternoon with homegrown beef and fresh shrimp, I love bartering!
Doodle came out from under the porch for an extended time this evening. We walked her to the pond, a special treat for her. I could not help but cry at the prospect of having to let her go to the Rainbow Bridge, sooner rather than later.
It is official! I will be traveling to South Texas to pick up our first sheep on Sunday. They are Gulf Coast Sheep; hardy, parasite resistant, good for meat, milk and wool.

Thursday 05/28/09
I made yogurt this morning, a different variety (culture). I really like the ones that can incubate at room temperature and not at a precise 110 degrees for several hours. The result for me is yogurt with a more consistent texture. I add 2 tbs of sugar and 1 tbs of vanilla to each half gallon.
For dinner I made cheese and chicken tortellini, (the sauce was homemade, not the pasta) with our one head of broccoli added in.

Friday 05/29/09
Hattie gave 3 gallons this morning; beloved cow!
It was quite hot today.
This afternoon after work I mowed the old chicken area where the melons are now planted. At least we can see the melon vines again!
The hens donated 3 eggs today.

Saturday 05/30/09
Only ½ gallon for us today, we slept a little later and the calf took a lot of milk!
I picked a few beans, tomatoes, strawberries and radishes. Max found the garden basket and stole some beans and the one large tomato!
I discovered another bee swarm this morning. By the time I got geared up I had the distinct displeasure of watching them leave!
Me (in bee suit): “Wait! Come back! I have a new condo for you! Where are you going! Come back here you dang-blasted bees!”
Bees (heading north to the woods): buzz, buzz, swarm, buzz, buzz!
I busied myself getting things prepared for the sheep that arrive tomorrow.
I am very excited about them!

May 25, 2009

In the span of 3 minutes the bees went from thick in the air to thick on the tree!

Woohoo! 3 hives now!

Week of 5/18/09

Monday 05/18/09
Hattie gave 2 gallons this morning.
I worked from home today, and rarely saw the outdoors.
Our lab Hope is not looking so well, we believe her cancer has spread to her lymph and lung. She is on palliative care—an aspirin a day and lots of hugs.
The rattlesnake beans are finally growing by leaps and bounds!
I thinned out carrots and kale; the cows got all the tops.

Tuesday 05/19/09
We skipped milking this morning, the fridge is very full!
I worked from the Houston office today, the afternoon traffic made me thankful I don’t have to commute every day.
I picked and ate the first 3 cherry tomatoes, scrumptious!
We splurged and ordered delivery pizza for dinner, a big hit with the teenagers.

Wednesday 05/20/09
The girls gave 3 gallons this morning.
I plan to trade Clemmie for a cow that is bred, so I am milking her again.
The calf Princess is definitely growing, I had my doubts at first because she is so petite.
Dave worked outside all day; mowing, killing weeds, doing farm chores.
The pastures look like golf courses now. How did he know I had been thinking “look at all that grass, we need more cows!”
Max went to the groomer today; his coat is clean, soft and luxurious.
Thankfully, he did not make a beeline for the pond!
I picked 3 rattlesnake beans today, oh my goodness! That is the taste of spring!
I canned 5 quarts of meat (beef) this evening. Note to self: do not start this project after 5 pm (water bath for 4.5 hours)! This is another step in completely emptying the freezer. No word on when the pork will be ready to pick up.

Thursday 05/21/09
2 gallons today—we milked this evening.
It was very warm today, but beautiful and sunny.
A few more beans and a couple more cherry tomatoes did not make it to the house.
The cucumber vines are full of flowers. The zinnias are flowering as well; they are so simple and so beautiful.
We had family night out and went to Hubble and Hudson for dinner. The kids were impressed with the service, the food and the market; though it was the faucet in the restroom that really got their attention! I brought home some homemade pasta noodles.
I got one weedy bed cleaned up this morning, hope to do another tomorrow.

Friday 05/22/09
No milk this morning, we skipped a day.
I traded Clemmie for a different Jersey cow today. “Vera” is 5 yo, large, beautiful and hopefully bred to a Jersey bull that was on site at the seller’s.
She is not in milk at this time. My friend Melissa went along, we had a great time and even found a farm stand on the way! Fresh peaches, tomatoes, cantaloupe and pickles found their way home with me!
Vera did not want to get into the stanchion far enough to eat tonight, so she missed her dinner. Hattie and Princess seem to be taking her presence in stride.
Early this morning I did manage to get ½ of a garden bed weeded.
For dinner we had canned beef (warmed with sour cream stirred in) over the designer noodles, it was pretty good!

Saturday 05/23/09
Hattie gave 2.5 gallons this morning.
The 7 hens gave 6 eggs—a record for them!
Dave and I worked in the back yard most of the day. Thankfully it was cloudy so we did not burn up.
The kids went to Battle of the Bands at the high school this evening; Dave and I had a dinner date at Crabby Daddy’s (seafood and a live band)!

Sunday 05/24/09
Hattie gave 2 gallons this morning.
Vera is adjusting to the routine. She lets me pet her, brush her, and wash her udder while she is eating. She is not tame enough to let me walk up to her in the pasture—though she is learning from Hattie that this usually means there will be good things to eat. She is a stunningly beautiful cow.
I picked a dozen or so green beans, a handful or cherry tomatoes, two huge peaches and half a dozen radishes. In a month we may very well be overwhelmed with produce, right now it is just a tease!
I made quiche for dinner with some of the leftover ham, delicious!
We enjoyed the movie Mrs. Henderson Presents after dinner.
Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow!

May 20, 2009

Week of 5/11/09

Monday 05/11/09
3.5 gallons from the girls this morning!
I separated all the cream I could for butter making (yield: 1 gallon of cream).
I also started a 3 gallon batch of cheddar cheese.
Hattie’s blood work is in the mail, we should have her results by Thursday.
It was very hot and humid this morning; afternoon showers cooled us of somewhat.
The cucumbers are blooming! There are cucumbers and watermelon coming up in the pasture, leftovers from cow treats.
I worked from home today; Dave went and picked up a freezer for the pork and soon to be sent beef. We should be hearing anytime that the pork is ready.
We collected 9 eggs tonight—two days worth. I think the hens are happy being outdoors!

Tuesday 05/12/09
Happy Birthday Josh!
No milking this morning, I had to travel.
Josh picked our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. It was a delight to see Norma and have treats from her kitchen. She has requested I bring in fresh sweet basil when we have some. She has bought an old home in town to move her restaurant to; I think I will take her some herb plants for the landscaping.
It was a nice dinner and a relaxing evening.

Wednesday 05/13/09
We milked 3.5 gallons this morning.
The grass is really coming on now; we have had a little shower each afternoon. The good grass is the reason for the milk increase, that and the fact that we are milking both cows right now. I will definitely dry off Clemmie soon. No sign of heat in Hattie; I can hardly wait for the blood test results. They should be in tomorrow. The cucumbers, hops and beans seem to be in a race to see which can grow the fastest!
We picked our first ripe tomato today!!! Yippee!!

Thursday 05/14/09
Hattie gave 3 gallons; we have stopped milking Clemmie.
The blood tests came in—open (negative). Drat!
I saw a hummingbird this morning. Time to clean and fill their feeders!
I pulled a couple of test carrots, they are not very big yet (3”).
A few of the cherry tomatoes are beginning to ripen.
I am looking forward to the summer-long harvest of tomatoes; even the part where every surface in the kitchen is full of them.
I had an eye exam today. For the last 2 months my eyesight has been driving me nuts. The test revealed a stigmatism and of course the need for bifocals.

Friday 05/15/09
Hattie gave 2.5 gallons. Clemmie just streams milk when it is milking time, poor girl. I have to be diligent and not milk her so she can dry off.
I worked from home today, very productive and I caught up on several reports.
The kids and I went to see the movie Wolverine. It was a great action-packed show!

Saturday 05/16/09
Hattie gave 1+ gallon—we slept in and Princess had already had a large breakfast!
I skimmed milk to make butter. I picked strawberries to mix in my morning yogurt. The blackberry vines are beginning to put on fruit!
I did some weeding and cleaning in the garden area.
I cleaned out the kitchen freezer which led to a cooking frenzy! I made homemade vanilla ice cream, peach/blueberry cobbler, tomato sauce, and chili.
It rained this afternoon, which cooled things off nicely!

Sunday 05/17/09
Happy Birthday Rylee!!
Hattie gave 2.5 gallons this morning; the hens contributed 3 eggs to the household.
A cool front moved in which has made the temperature outside delightful!
We had a few more showers today.