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September 28, 2009

September 27, 2009

Maine Pics!

Beautiful Fall colors, Farmington.

Wilton Lake sitting area.

Morning fog on Wilton Lake.

Clam Chowdah! Farmington

Dave digging into grilled lobster, Bull Feeney's--Portland

Lobster and seafood shop, Portland

Looking out at the harbor, Portland

Old brick streets in Portland, Maine

Maine trip!

Well, it is official, I am in love with Maine.

We flew into Portland and spent one night there, in the Foodie capital of the US (as recently named by Bon Apetit Magazine). We had pub food for lunch (maple sour cream on the side of Dave's pulled pork) and grilled lobster for dinner (or is it suppah?), absolutely delicious! The room had a wonderful view of the harbor. When we were walking along the wharf we spotted a seal; looking for handouts or chum no doubt. Just after leaving there we turned a corner and ran into the line for Whale Watching tours---oh, right, prey and predator at work.

Friday we traveled to Farminton to meet up with our friends Mitra and Joann. Mitra has a booth at a farmers market on Fridays so we did a walking tour of town. It is a beautiful town with a great courthouse, Memorial park, many shops and of course the University of Maine.

We stopped by the Granary for lunch; I had clam chowder, Dave had a monstrous burger.

We met Nina, a shoppkeeper friend of Mitra's, and ran into Joann at the Better Living Store.

Mitra gave us a tour of the Farmington Fair, it was great fun, as only a county fair can be. We hung about for awhile afterward and finished the night with a microbrew together.

Saturday Mitra and Max made a wonderful breakfast of chorrizo, scrambled eggs with peppers, apple cider (local, fresh) and the best coffee ever. Helen's milk tastes wonderful, though different from Hattie's. Before going to Mitra's we took a tour down to the pier (the hotel sits on Wilton Lake), and took a drive around one side to get morning pics, it would have worked if there was not a freeze and fog!

Mitra drove us about the countryside looking at leaves, local points of interest and drooling over barns and beautiful gardens. Mitra took us to a seafood shop to have Lobster rolls for lunch-- lobster rolls consist of chunk lobster meat mixed with a smidge of mayo or butter, on a toasted hoagie bun. It was wonderful! The cook at Surrey's did not skimp on the meat at all.

We stopped by Coburn Farm to see Joann and Jasemine. Max and the girls (including Lulu the awesome lab) were already there. Joann gave us a tour of the house and garden, Max gave a tour of the barn. Joann's garden is luscious. Jasemine came to greet us in the field, well she was really greeting her person, Joann, but obliged us with a sniff and a kiss.

Mitra drove us by the lake and Marcia's camp. We saw Canadian Geese on the Lake and an American Bald Eagle circled above us floating (and hunting?) on the air currents. What a beautiful sight!! We did not get any good pictures, unfortunately. The weather was absolutely perfect, 60+ degrees, a breeze and abundant sunshine!

Dinner at Mitra's house was a wonderful affair! Mitra made chicken curry with her own farm raised chicken, saffron from Iran and wonderful Iranian rice. Janet and Carol from the forum joined us and brought an apple crisp to die for! Laura, also from the forum brought Moz cheese, Cheddar cheese and feta that was added to a beautiful and delicious salad. We enjoyed a evening full of excellent food and even better conversation!

Sunday I had milk form Janet's cow Buttermilk for breakfast, it tastes different from Hattie's and Helens, and I guees it is akin to sampling wines--they are all good and all different! :)

We headed out early with the thought we would stop in Freeport to see the LL Bean store. We missed our turn off the turnpike and so we just went to Portland early. The weather was much different--rainy and about 50 degrees. I had fish and chips for lunch, one last NE meal; Dave had a pepperjack burger. The hardest part of the trip is the long layover in Cleveland (4 hours). At least it gave me an opportunity to catch up on email and blogging!

We found our dream house in Maine, not too big or small with a nice kitchen and a milkbarn!

Be still my heart! I hope we can find something like it when we are ready to move there!Probably 1 minute after the kids graduate from high school.

September 23, 2009

F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C Weather today!!

Beautiful, gorgeous, marvelous.....there are not enough words to describe how it feels when humidity leaves for a couple of days and the temps drop into the 60's!!
What a wonderful change!
I planted garlic and then discovered a bag of organic potatoes going south and trying to grow in the pantry, they went into the garden too.
I weeded a flower bed and a garden bed, and am feeling especially proud of this accomplishment. Tomorrow I will feel especially stiff, but the beds will still look good!

September 19, 2009

quiet saturday

Max and spider lilies.
ROTC dress uniforms.

Enormous moth on the front door this morning!

Nice quiet day today. I started dusting off the microwave in the kitchen and before I knew it I was doing a major cleaning project. The kitchen has a new tidy look! Besides cleaning and doing chores the day was quiet with the kids gone to a football game and Dave at work. Max and I fed the cows a watermelon and some soft bananas. We then did a little bit of weed pulling in the back yard and gave the sheep new bedding. All is well. No sign of the coyote, although something (snake) is stealing eggs. I picked up all the duck eggs so he won't be tempted to stop by. Well, my real plan is that he should not stop by until Dave is off work and can dispatch the snake to its final resting place.

September 17, 2009

Fall Garden is planted!

Late yesterday afternoon, I stepped out back to watch the sunset and see what Dave was up to in the barn (brewing pumpkin ale). The garden bed I weeded two days ago stared up at me.
Ok, I'll go see what seeds I have scuttled away.
Joy! Turns out I had a good supply of carrot, kale, lettuce, broccoli and brussels sprout seeds.
The bed had already been turned over, so in no time at all the seeds were all in and watered. I finished just before dark and then it rained!
I need to collect zinnia and sunflower seeds this weekend, and I plan to get at least one more garden bed weeded. I may have to find my way to the nursery and make sure there isn't anything else we should put in for fall/winter.
I noticed pumpkins at a roadside stand yesterday. It reminded me I need to go by and see if we can get their rejects after halloween. Cows and sheep love fresh pumpkin (and the seeds are a natural parasite control agent).

September 13, 2009

Rain today!

Dave and I got stranded in the barn for awhile this evening! An inch of rain came down in 45 minutes. So, I did what I do...took pics of it!

Just before the rain started I finished weeding the garden bed for the fall garden. I am excited now to get one put in! The cold rain and gusty winds felt great after sweating and getting dirty pulling weeds.

Have a great week!

September 12, 2009

kids, cows and sheep; love them all!

Pics of the girls this morning. Hattie gave 3 gallons today. I felt Vera's calf kick!

We have had 3" of rain this week, what a joy that is! I was actually missing the mud experience.

The sheep don't seem as enamored of the rain (as the cows), at least they do a good job of looking pathetic when it rains peering out from under their cover, the minute it stops they are back out in it.

The kids had a late night, the away football game went into 4 overtimes!
(we lost)

September 10, 2009

Farm happenings

One of the sheep did not survive the week. The day we tended to them I noticed the little wether Blackie had a slight bottle jaw—a sure sign of anemia from parasites. I kept an eye on him for signs of trouble and sure enough the next day he was laid flat out in the pasture. I moved him to the barn and worked on supportive treatment for 3 days, just when I thought he had made a recovery and returned him to the pasture, he died. I have since done even more research into nutritional and herbal parasite control. Specifically of interest is the mention of a mineral “lick” (dry powder) to put out for sheep (or all ruminants). The main components are magnesium, calcium, sulfur, cobalt and copper. Sheep can develop copper toxicity, however since we feed kelp which has copper, cobalt and iodine, we do not have to add those ingredients. I found the dolomitic lime and sulfur dusting powder at the feed store/nursery and made up a mineral batch. The sheep have been taking the kelp regularly, but have not seemed to go after this mix yet. The magnesium to calcium ratio is 2:1, which happens to be the ratio for cows to prevent milk fever. My main source for the recipe and mineral information is Pat Coleby’s Natural Sheep Care. She has also written on cattle, and includes much information that is pertinent to all ruminants.

She quotes research done in Australia and the US that shows causation between copper deficiency and pregnancy rates, copper deficiency and parasite immunity, as well as overall health. So, we are on a trial with the mineral lick, in which all the mineral/components are not chelated or processed. Pat Coleby’s quoted research also states that literally no milk fever or mastitis occurred in the sample groups of cattle and sheep when fed the mineral mix.

Her recipe as I mixed it:
55 lbs of dolomitic lime
9 lbs of yellow dusting sulfur
18 lbs of natural kelp
Weigh and mix the ingredients, add DE if desired, feed in a dry area, keep remainder covered.
It can be fed free choice or feedings can be top dressed.

On the topic of pregnancy rates, Hattie is in heat this morning, trying to mount Vera…not a pretty sight. I will AI her this evening.

All the remaining sheep (5 ewes and the ram) look healthy, have nice pink conjunctiva, no appetite or stool problems, so I think the little wether was the only one so affected. One underlying topic of Mrs. Coleby’s discussion is the need for fertile/balanced soil, and mentions drought or flood altering the pH and mineral content to the extent that livestock cannot get all they need from it. It has been 3 years since we tested the soil, so we will need to do that again soon. The final tactical move is to be able to rotate the pastures, which means taking sheep out and letting cattle in; they are immune to other species’ parasites. Once the host animal leaves the area without completing the parasites life cycle the parasites die. Improved fencing and more panels are on the wish list to make this happen, even at the rate of one pasture at a time.

The wish list of things that need to be done keeps getting pushed back due to more urgent home improvements. The water well quit working a few days ago. Thankfully within 24 hours it was repaired, by the most professional and knowledgeable well service company we have ever seen or heard of! (McKnight’s Well Service, for anyone in our area)

September 8, 2009

20 years is such a long time... try and remember everything I want to remember about you.
I can call up your voice, your smile, your wacky sense of humor. These are all transfixed in my memory. I guess I miss what your voice would be like now, what antics you would have performed in the last two decades, what you would think of your niece and nephews.
So much can happen in 20 years, and yet so little. I remember the day, your valiant fight leading up to it and the numb days that followed. Those days are marked in my memory, but they are not the sweet memories, just the ones that are stuck to a date like 09/08/89.
What I really want to remember is what you said to me that night we had to walk home from the skating rink, along the RR track in Alabama because we missed our ride. I have a sense of what you said, but can't recall the words. That was more like 30 years ago, but was a poignant time in that I come away from that memory knowing you cared. Or the time we all missed the bus and had to take a boat to the marina that was a few bus stops further along the route (that bus driver was such a jerk!). Or what you said when you played with little Stephen that Christmas he was 4, or when you parachuted and the chute opened too late, or when we would sail and scooter around the Bahamas? I want to be able to remember the conversations, the flowers, the chit chat that I have not had with you for so long, and I can't. All I can remember for sure besides your smile is how much you meant to all of us and how much we all miss you.
Love you big bro, we miss you and your smile.

For our big brother, "Chaz" Charles Chapman Maas 1/59-9/89

September 5, 2009

Week of 8/31/09

Bread baking extravaganza!

Ewe udder development!

Smoked ham and cheese quiche.

Foamy sculptures, not a good thing.

ROTC kids.

Where has this week gone?
I only milked 2 times in the last week, but will milk Sat. and Sun. to make up for it. The cows are enjoying over ripe melons and getting out in the back pasture. Hattie will be in milk until October, Princess won’t be picked up for a few more weeks. This will work out perfectly with our trip to Maine; Princess can keep her milked out.
The weather has definitely been shifting toward cooler at night and one day the high was only 86!
The kids finally tried out the hot tub; mainly because they were worn out from running afterschool with ROTC. They are hooked. J
Charlye got her driver’s license this week and had to drive to school in the dark and then home after the football game (in the dark). A milestone!
Dave and I were befuddled about the hot tub suddenly becoming cloudy so we made a trip to the sap man for advice. He said we don’t need to drain it, but treat it. We came home and set to work; a few minutes later Dave called me to come see the tub “it is funny”. I asked funny-ha-ha or funny ironic, he smiled and walked away. I had to look! The spa had a foam formation that we could have sculpted! Glad to say, the spa is clearing up and the foam is gone. Edited to add: the spa did not stayed clear and we drained it/replaced the water—now it is beautiful again!
On the foodie front: I made beignets one morning when I woke up too early (and had plenty of time), lentil soup from Nourishing Traditions was a hit (I added leftover ham), ham and cheese quiche (delish!), and of course smoked ham that led to several other meals. Every cut and type of meat we have prepared on the smoker has been absolutely wonderful. I am going to try and make smoked cheese sometime, when I can figure out a low temperature way to get the same flavor. I spent most of Saturday making bread, yogurt, and butternut squash bisque. It has been months since I have made bread, so I doubled the recipe to have plenty for the future. The dinner rolls disappear pretty quickly around here! I used the whole wheat recipe from The Break Baker’s Apprentice. Using fresh buttermilk, eggs, and honey really makes it wonderful.

We performed “sheep maintenance” this weekend. This consists of herding them into a small area, going in to retrieve one at a time by hook or by crook, and then leading/dragging the one to the stand for hoof trimming, worming, and sheep drench. We also banded the girl’s horns. They all did as well as could be expected, having been 3 months since the last sheep rodeo. The ewes are developing udders!