Life lately can be summed up in one word, rain! This has been a cold rainy spring, hard to believe it is almost June and an early Memorial Day is here and gone already.
I have been working on getting animals out to pasture, I still need to do a considerable amount of work on Apache’s corral area but the pasture is all secure. All the cows are out, the heifer is not happy about it but they are all out! I am also getting ready to swap cows sending Susie to my neighbors farm and getting a Angus in return. Susie is a milk cow, Junipers first calf and more then half Holstein and looks it. If I go back to milking it will be Jerseys for the butter making. The new cow will have to be in the barn for a while to get used to everything, but she is pretty laid back and comes over for scratches every time I am up there to breed cows.
Friday I got my new chicks, 100 ISA Browns, they really looked good and As quickly as it is possible to I put them into their new pen. Moving two at a time takes a while! They were just warming up when the lights went out. After calling the electric company who said they were just dispatching trucks I decided to gather up the chicks and put them back in the box. I started the car and put them in there while I did chores. The electricity came back on fairly quickly for EMEC’s service. Their office is way over in Calais, so it takes them quite a while to just get here. So all over again the chicks went back downstairs and into the pen. There were 3 extra chicks, so I am hopeful of maintaining 100 for a while, they are in much better shape then last years disaster of a chick day were.
Friday afternoon I bred 2 cows then cleaned up and went to Houlton to get grain, and other things. It always seems to take longer then you think, I didn’t get home until 6:30, so I left the things in the truck except the plants I got at a couple greenhouses. I just can’t drive by greenhouses, guess there are worse vices!
The first thing I saw down in the stable was Mischief over in the corner of the Llama pen, she had her kittens during the afternoon. She is such a proud Mama, purring and very happy to see me. She has quite a large litter for such a fine boned cat, and they are all gray like mom except one. I think there are either 6 or 7, I don’t handle kittens before their eyes are open regardless of how willing the mother is to share them with me. I though I saw 7 heads, but it is difficult when they are all but one, the same color, including the mother. We will see in a few weeks! Mischief is a much better mother then Cricket is, very attentive and she stays with them except to eat, which is good since she had them out in the open like that.
Saturday I hit the road running, after chores I decided to get that tree limb out of the tree, it fell last year making an A frame over my terraces, the top was still connected. I just ignored it while grumbling about not being able to work on terraces or put up my hammock. Over the winter it became disconnected to the tree, but was still up there about 30 feet with the bottom limbs stuck in the ground just above the terraces. No matter how it was done it was going to do damage. I lifted it with the bucket of the tractor until it slid down some to bypass another limb then hooked on it with a chain and pulled it down. It was better then I thought, although it did make a scrape on the bark of my flowering weeping fig, and landed in the middle of the Solomon seals, the damage was minimal, now I will have to cut it up and get it out of there. The limb was about 18” in diameter, and is rock maple so that may take time! I feel good that it is out of the tree and on the ground!
Since it started to sprinkle I decided to can the last batch of chicken broth that I finished up the day before. My neighbor called and said he was coming down to get those bales of hay, did I want help to shear the ram? I said an immediate yes!, so much for canning. Lewis is very large, and although he is generally a very good ram, laid back and all, there are certain parts of his anatomy he does not like sheared. He looks so small compared to having all that wool, but I can tell by his midsection that he had a good winter! Shearing him is a real workout, I do the top part on the stand, while he is up there I trim his hooves, that was sure a workout. His hooves really needed trimming, they spent a lot of time in the barn this winter. His big feet are hard to hang on to while trimming very hard hooves. I think that part took longer then the top shearing. Then there is his belly and “other” parts while he is sitting on his butt in standard shearing mode. He is close to 300 lbs if not over, considering his winter heft, so flipping him takes two of us, and it is not easy. When he is in shearing mode one person holds him up while I shear and try to avoid kicking hooves. The ewes tend to just kind of sit on their butts but the ram is usually less then cooperative in certain areas. I was in good form, missing getting kicked hard every time! So no new bruises. Two of my neighbors granddaughters cane with him, the older one was a real help, fetching the oil, and helping with the lamb banding, the younger one tends to be loud and excitable not something the animals like, but she was pretty good because granddad told her she would sit in the truck if she scared the animals.
After the ram was done we banded the lambs tails and balls, there is only one ewe this year so that took a while. I am glad to get that done too. There was one we didn’t do because he had one not descended yet.
We went out to get the trailer on his truck and he said “want to put the tiller on your tractor now before we get the hay?”, I was all for that, so many things on the farm are easier with two or more people. When the tiller was all on we went up to the hay field and I pushed two bales on the trailer, then I followed him up to the road to make sure he didn’t get stuck. He is out of hay, and I have extra so I gave him 16 big bales earlier, with another dozen for him to come and get. My cows will be on pasture very soon and without the huge angus the hay goes slow.
When I got home I got all ready to can the broth, it was heating, the pressure canner was on the stove heating, jars all washed and I discovered I had no lids. What a bummer on a holiday weekend. I decided to go up to Smyrna on Monday to the Amish store, they don’t celebrate patriotic holidays we do and are open for business.
Sunday wasn’t as productive, I unloaded the truck of grain, shavings, oil for the tractor and fence posts from Friday’s trip to Houlton after chores. Then went up to breed two cows, but ended up doing 3, somehow that tends to mess up the day, it is harder work then you would think, usually I help gather up the cows, wondering through 100+ cows looking for a certain number is sometimes quick and sometimes not. Heifers are usually not very cooperative since they haven’t experienced a lot of herding around, and while it is tempting to move quickly to head one off sometimes it is not the best idea in the middle of a lot of cows milling around. After breeding I went home and loaded a couple bales of hay on the trailer for my neighbor. Then it was after 6, so time to work on chores again. Seems like my day revolves around chores, I am hoping the other 7 calves go home SOON! It will shorten my chore time by at least an hour, no more making up 10 bottles, feeding them and getting all that grain and hay to 10 different pens.
Monday after chores there was more cow breeding, 3 more including one kind of jumpy heifer, she was last and jumped the gate rather then go in the chute, which resulted in having to go cut her out of the herd again, luckily she was quite cooperative about the breeding part so I got home early enough to go up to Smyrna. It was really busy there, lots of cars all out of state plates, I don’t think I ever saw that many people there before. Guess word gets around from local family because it is in an out of the way place. I got 10 packages of lids and more insulators for fencing. And guess who couldn’t pass up another stop at the greenhouse? I picked up my peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, plus some flowers for my half whiskey barrel. Decided to go red white and blue this year, with red geraniums, white fan flowers and blue lobelia. My planter barrel that is on its side is going to have wave petunias in red white and blue.
Today I am canning! Got 30 pints of chicken broth and 14 quarts of French onion soup done, just took the last soup out of the pressure canner, 75 minutes in a long process when you factor in the 10 minutes to blow off the steam, and 30 minutes to cool down. Luckily the broth only takes 20 minutes processing and 10 pints fit in a load. I haven’t had time to do the onion broth yet, I have 7 gallons of onion peelings to use in the freezer, but think I need to get some outside stuff done first.
French onion soup
Few misc pictures
Bleeding heart is doing great again this year, it is just starting and is no where as big as it will be in a few weeks but there are a lot of blossoms
Asparagus is just starting, picture of the first small batch
Tulips are out and still hanging around as are the daffodils since it has been cold
Crickets kittens at 6 weeks old
Plum trees are just starting to bloom, only about 10-15% of the flowers are out so far.
The close of the day