Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The baby bunnies are out and about!  (the funky things in the foreground are a nibbled oak twig and a dismantled salt wheel)

They are just about as cute as they will ever be.  They were getting crowded, so I took out their nest box.

Now instead of piling up in the nest box when I arrive to feed them, they all pile up in a corner--which doesn't look quite as comfortable.  (The one in the far corner had his nose stuck through the wire).

They are so unbelievably adorable it's all I can do to keep from neglecting my other chores to catch and snuggle them everyday (which they hate, unfortunately).  Luckily, they all look exactly the same and they are not as cute when they get older.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Horses and Chariots

For some reason Mirin has been completely taken with the idea of building a chariot.  He found the modified bike wheels from the old horrible "Chickshaw" coop that has fallen into disuse and disrepair, and has been trying out different ways of attaching them to something he can ride on.  Because Rosie is the little sister, she is always the "horse."
Instead of finishing the roof of the barn, Ethan decided to help them out the other day, and came up with this extremely cumbersome version of the farm "chariot" with pieces from his junk pile.

Rosie was hitched up and it was tried out.

Mairie was watching:

"Dear God, what kind of a farm was I sold to?  What is wrong with these people??"

Although it doesn't look like it in the pictures, the chariot game is primarily for the amusement of the "Horse."

Friday, April 20, 2012

This Moment--Evidence

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
--Amanda Soule

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Joining the Herds

Last week when we arrived we were greeted by Matilda, Isla, Geranium and Chestnut loafing around the feed bins and looking extremely pleased with themselves.  Isla made sure her lovely nose got in the picture.  We quickly shooed them in the pen with Mairie, which is next to the milking paddock where milking rations get served and therefore is the most exciting place to be, just to get them behind a fence again while we assessed the damage.

 The garden gate was open, although most things looked untouched at the time, I later discovered quite a few little plants that were trampled to death by suspiciously cow-shaped feet.  The oats and barley left to soak with cider vinegar had been broken into and were gone, they had devoured the small bit of rolled barley left and enormous cow pies littered the area we usually hang out around.

The result was that we introduced Mairie to the rest of the herd earlier than we had thought we would, since we had gotten there later than usual and didn't have time to walk out the whole fence line to find where they had escaped (we later found that it was because when Ethan moved the hay ring the night before he had left it tilted up and someone--probably Matilda--had rolled it over the strand of fencing and they all just stepped over it to get out).

It was nice, because Meathead got to be reunited with Geranium again now that he's weaned, but Mairie was not really pleased to be one of the smallest cows now (she was one of the largest at her previous home).  Matilda and Geranium wasted no time in establishing their superiority, and even Isla was pushing her around.  She didn't even try to vie for dominance with Chestnut, and I can't really blame her.

They only were together one day until we set up a new line for them and put them all out.  We even had enough fencing wire and posts to set up a non-electrified guide lane so we just walked them all up and avoided any more scenes like when we brought Richard back.  Unfortunately Mairie didn't really get the moving concept and stayed in the milking paddock with the brain trust--Butch and Meathead.
(Meathead still fails to follow the herd at all times.  I'm afraid he might be retarded.  Geranium had a really stressful pregnancy with him, being moved to three different farms, and it seems to have taken a toll).

We moved the boys up the next day, and they were shockingly well behaved.  Mairie wasn't trained to electric fencing at her previous farm, and although we had a hot line on the top of the paddock, she's not tall enough to notice it, so she just scoffed at the electric wire and walked through it.  We quickly caught her again and put her back in the old eaten-down paddock with some hay.  Then we moved Butch and Meathead up, who never looked back.  She has been regretting it ever since, so we set up some fencing in her paddock so we can move her out soon.  Every day when we get there she stands and stares at us reproachfully.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rabbit With 40 Cloves of Garlic

Yesterday Ethan and Mr. Mcgregor (the .22) got a wild rabbit that has been making eyes at the garden.  My favorite thing to do with garden-fed rabbit is "rabbit with forty cloves of garlic" from Shannon Hayes' book The Grassfed Gourmet.
We have beans, cow peas and corn to plant this week, as well as some catch-up cucumbers, melons and pumpkins that were slower to sprout, so hopefully by the end of the week I can show off both pictures of our lovely, fully planted and non-weedy garden that is green and thriving (not yet a reality), and a lovely rabbit dish!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Raw Milk Debate

I watched the raw milk Harvard debate yesterday.  It was shocking how unpleasantly rude, yet how unsubstantial Mr. Fred Pritzker's presentation was.  The raw milk proponents did a good job and actually had data and studies that could be cross-referenced as far as the health benefits of raw milk vs. pasteurized milk, but the response was the typical "Raw milk will kill you and everything you love because the government says so," line.
Yesterday, while I was milking Matilda, I was thinking about the debate.  I haven't been sick from food poisoning in 8 years.  I've been drinking raw milk for nearly 8 years now.  The last time I got food poisoning was months before I ever had a glass of raw milk in my life.  I had gone to a restaurant and eaten a sandwich and some potato salad, and my goodness I was sick!  But I have never, ever been sick from raw milk.  Kind of interesting, considering how "dangerous" raw milk is supposed to be.  My whole family has been drinking raw milk for years--my mother, my brother, my father, my husband and my children--and none of us has ever been sick from it.
 The opposition's main debate tactic was trying to cultivate fear.  It's too bad that infectious diseases are so easy to scare people with.  I personally find it really chilling to learn how many permanent injuries and deaths are caused by vaccines or by properly prescribed medicine, although no one ever mentions that much--for obvious reasons. One great moment is at the end of the debate when the opposition is asked to comment on the data presented by the raw milk people, and they just kind of stutter and don't know what to say.  One of the comments posted made a really good point:

When will the public health agents stop saying that drinking raw milk is like playing "Russian Roulette?"  The odds of dying from Russian Roulette is 1 in 6.  That means 1.5 million Americans would by dying each year from raw milk (based on 1/6 of 9 million raw milk drinkers nationwide).  How do these people even get through grade school?"

Friday, April 13, 2012

The guinea pigs had babies today!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


My roses are blooming for the first time.  This is a big deal because every year at the Dudley Farm cane boil I buy a couple of heirloom roses.  Since we fenced the garden I've had this vision of coral honeysuckle climbing on the fence with fig trees, herbs, roses, bulbs and various butterfly-attracting flowering plants planted in front.  Sadly, Ethan and his friend who camped out at the farm for a few months while in between jobs have mocked my little garden beds terribly.  It didn't help that Ethan trenched in front of it with a trencher a couple years ago, before we discovered above-ground piping, and the goats have been just terrible for it.

But if I have learned anything with farming, it is persistence.  And not being afraid to look at what you've done, admit mistakes and do something different next time.  I only have four roses right now, although many have been planted.  I think May is responsible for eating at least three to death, and Nougat gorged herself on at least two.  They have tons of blackberries and other thorny browse to eat, but for some reason they prefer the roses.  Some day, when we move Mirin's refugee shelter out from in front, I'll take a picture of the front of the garden, because it is almost what I have always wanted it to look like.  The coral honeysuckle was spared from the goats this spring, and has started to really climb and bloom a lot.  The figs are small, but the bulbs got planted, there is a very healthy sage bush that has lived there since we began the garden, the aloe is still there and the pentas and verbena are blooming.  Oh yes, and the roses.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bunnies, Eggs and More


We discovered last week that Lily had a new litter of babies that are cute and furry in time for Easter!  I didn't notice them in the nest at first and thought she wasn't bred after all, and they were pretty big before I could see them.  Lily is such a neurotic animal I didn't want to upset her more than necessary, so I didn't poke around or anything.

The pictures don't really do them justice for how incredibly cute they are.  There are six of them this time (six!!!).  Their eyes have just opened and they have been moving around the nest box.  There is one bold one in the first picture who was peeking at me.

As we primarily celebrate the pagan side of Easter, there was much egg-dyeing on Saturday.  We've been saving our little white pullet eggs for weeks.  We did the natural dyes again this year.  We used blueberries and red cabbage for the blue this year, and a good thing it was, because the red cabbage was a failure for some reason.  I can't remember how I got it to work so well last year, and I didn't have time to look it up again.  We used beets and turmeric again for red and yellow.

They were particularly pretty when we added some crayon designs before putting them in the dye.  I couldn't find our lovely beeswax crayons, so we used the regular ones.

We had so much fun trying different color combinations.  The natural dyes don't mix the same way that the regular food colors do.

The turmeric was such an intense color.  It stained my pot that I used to cook it in.  The next morning, after giving the pot several good scrubbings, I warmed up some milk for breakfast that turned out to be yellow!  The blueberries were also very potent.

They turned out so lovely again this year!
I love the soft springy colors you get with the natural dyes.

On Easter morning I woke up early and set out plates for everyone of home made treats.  The photo isn't very good (I'm still trying to figure out my new camera and my house is very poorly lit).  My friend and I had gotten together on Wednesday to make marshmallows  that I cut into bunny shapes with a cookie cutter.  We made the Nourishing Traditions macaroons, and later I baked the Czechoslovakian Easter bread my grandmother always made for us for holidays.  I made the walnut and the poppy seed version.
There was also a cloth basket of strawberries and a hand-sewn felt chick.  To be extra silly, I scattered raisins on the table, and told the kids they were rabbit droppings from the Easter Bunny.  They laughed and started eating them.

We did the traditional egg hunt later that morning.
We found all but one!
It is lurking in the yard somewhere still.