This is the time of year when not too much excitement is happening for me to photograph and blog for you.
But it is a good time to give loose rein to my fancy and plan some fun for spring time.
I hope to drive down to North Carolina to pick up a couple bee hives in January.
The shipping is about the same as the hive, so I figured we'll enjoy a scenic mountain drive and pay less.
Other then bees, I'd like to create (I, in this context meaning Dan) raised beds for berry production.
Our berries have always failed so far, but in my optimistic delusion I think that lots of organic matter and soaker hoses in the beds will make all things possible for blueberries this time around.
This was taken about a year ago, but things haven't changed. Lottie still comes to the door to get a nut most mornings. Nuts are in the bag she finds on the counter. Now she usually goes to the pantry and gets her nuts from a bag on a shelf.
She also hangs out at the barn, closer to her nest, and picks pieces of corn out of the sweet feed.
This is Lottie last winter, accepting sewing scraps from us to build her drey.
You could see her drey from a mile away with all its bright calico colors sticking out of the chinks.
She's built a new home since then.
Laura was photographing the sheep this morning for a Craigslist ad, so she had the camera with her when she went to the coop to check her hens.
Inside a nesting box, eating a piece of goat feed, was Lottie.
At least someone is using the nesting box!
After years of Becky dominating the role of chef here at Providence Farm, Laura has stepped up to the plate, or stove, and started to excel in the culinary arts.
This is her homemade Alfredo sauce with pasta. It was absolutely delicious!
She's made quite a few dishes on her own, and she's been perfecting a pumpkin roll and her original recipe of a Christmas Jell-O dessert.
This year was a quiet and lonely Thanksgiving without the Fat Suburbanite Dad and other relatives in attendance.
The girls and I made most of the dishes the day before, so getting the turkey cooked and on the table was stress free.
As the turkey roasted, we walked the trails in the sunshine, wishing that someone with a bush hog and a chain saw would trim up our paths for us.
This is my dainty little gravy boat with a liter of delicious homemade turkey gravy.
This is a picture of the Charlotte County Spiders after the tournament in Richmond.
We won the first three games, and lost by one goal in the championship game.
Laura couldn't wait to get home and see herself in the photo.
When she saw it, she said she felt like Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc., when he was looking for himself on t.v. but an ad was covering him.
She's on our right of the coach, behind the goalie.
Our goalie got injured in the goal and went to the hospital in an ambulance.
He came back to watch the rest of the games that day. What a man!
Our whole soccer family had a great time, not even expecting to fare as well as we did against city teams with professional coaches.
Our U10 team won every game and the championship.
Our second place was hard fought and an honor for our kids and coach to have achieved.
This is a team of wonderful teenagers. Not only are they good at soccer, but they're kind, honest, hard working kids in all aspects of life. And they keep each other accountable on and off the field.
We are blessed to be part of this diverse soccer club.
I got word today that we'll be practicing indoors over the winter.
Phew, I was getting worried about how I'd spend all that extra time!
I didn't want a kitten.
I've avoided legions of needy, adorable stray kittens over the last 9 years.
But it looks as though the kitten floodgates have opened, and a deluge of baby cats is washing over Providence Farm.
The house has been turned into a kitten hospital ward since both Gooseberry and Tom are sick with coccidiosis and parasites. They get medicine twice a day and force feedings of vitamin paste three times. Hopefully tomorrow will be a big turning point for those two.
The little yellow cat is only 4 weeks old. She was dumped in the town of Charlotte Court House. Now we've brought her here to foster. And she's getting medicine, plus kitten formula, so she can avoid catching stuff from the original kittens.
Here is the stellar Charlotte County U17 team.
These kids played a good tournament but ended up taking second.
On that disappointing note, the season was to be over, and we would be free to pursue exciting activities such as cleaning the house and eating dinner at a table, at dinner time no less!
But alas, more games have appeared, like zombies in a horror movie.
Becky and Laura play on Thursday and Friday evenings. Fortunately, we play teams who are good friends with ours, so it should be a good time.
Laura and Katie have games on Saturday in different places.
And Laura has a two day tournament in Richmond next weekend.
My house will never be clean again.
Soccer tournament season is upon us, so I've neglected blogging.
I've also neglected meal-planning, cleaning, homeschooling.
Pretty much neglecting everything but soccer.
Here are Gooseberry and Tom being irresistible.
This, I love.
Becky bought a little white board to hang Katie's schoolroom so she and Laura can write messages to their little sister.
Every morning, there is a loving good morning from early bird Laura to Kate.
Then the not so loving response from Katie back at Laura...
Here is a translation:
Did you really have to erase my poem, "Stinkbug Invasion" just to write, "good morning tootsie roll?"
You may be able to imagine what's happening with the stinkbug population of Central Virginia by the title of Katie's poem.
Isn't this a cozy sight?
I wanted to share with you the feeling of being out in the chilly fog, and looking onto the warmth of the light shining out from the windows.
A camera can't do the job thoroughly though.
I went out to bush hog after the cold front had blasted through, leaving in its wake a dense fog that was spooky as all get out.
I mowed around the trails, alone, very far from the safe and comfy house.
The vegetation had grown to a shocking height since summer, so it was extra scary expecting a bear to jump out from behind any number of cedar trees.
At one point I even imagined a pack of coyotes throwing caution to the wind and attacking the tractor. But that pack turned out to be just Snowflake and her cohorts taking a shortcut through the woods to surprise me.
With the cold, the fog, and the early darkness, I could feel that fall has moved in.
A beautiful storm blew in this evening, just as I was going to bush hog the trails.
It had been a rainy day, but the skies were bright blue when we heard thunder and looked around.
To the west was a dark brown mass of clouds coming fast. It was beautiful.
After it passed by, the world looked pristine with the colors lit up by the bright sun, against a dark gray sky.
Then there were double rainbows.
I love these little folks!
Gooseberry is the littler one with out a white nose, and with greener eyes.
She's a type A kitty who only lets you hold her if she's ready for a nap.
Tom is a mellow sweet heart.
When they're asleep, I resort to looking at my blog pictures of them.
My niece and nephew like to see pictures, so that gives me an excuse to add more.
Yesterday's foray into the wilderness resulted in an introduction of the kitties to an inquisitive squirrel.
Lottie moves so fast I couldn't get a good shot.
Trust me, it was cute.
These little peaceable kingdom moments that go against nature make me glad to have a glimpse into the Eden that we were meant for.
Here are Laura's Golden Comet pullet chicks.
They live in Azkabantam, a little chicken coop which Big Dan built for the yard. It's on skids, so it can be moved with the tractor.
There's a little yard for the hens to run in.
Hopefully having been brought up in captivity will help them to be content not to free range.
When chicks are brought up wild and free by a mother hen, they don't appreciate being penned.
So far all 16 chicks are alive and well.
Five more weeks of heat lamp before they're completely capable of dealing with the cold.
The top three photos show our new(est) kitten, Tom!
After I picked up little Gooseberry with the intention of keeping her outdoors eventually, I very quickly realized that I would never go through with my evil plan good intentions.
But upon further consideration, I knew I really wanted my next cat to NOT be indoors like Sirius and Debbie. So I decided to look for a wilderness adventure buddy for her.
I had determined I wanted a kitten her age, a boy, who is gray and white, like Gooseberry.
This kitty was in the one litter I found on Craigslist.
When I called, the lady said there was only one kitten left. Phew, that made it so I could keep my precious Gooseberry inside with me forever, knowing I had given the second kitten idea a whirl.
The one kitten was this little fellow.
Already they're getting as thick as thieves.
I'm sure that as soon as the big cats give up their plans to assassinate these little folks, I'll feel comfortable moving them to the shed right near the house.
At Saturday's game against Nottoway, Becky and rival player Tiffany collided and bumped heads.
Tiffany went down and Becky just wobbled, but a few days later it looks as though Tiffany was the winner after all.
Becky did stay in the game for 10 more minutes before being subbed out to get an ice pack.
Then she proceeded to go out for an evening on the town, then a sleep-over, then church, before finally coming home.
The first picture is Sunday evening.
Then Monday evening.
By next Saturday, she may be able to intimidate the Buckingham players into submission even before the game starts...
Meet Gooseberry, the newest addition to Providence Farm.
We were racing up a back road on the way to youth group tonight when a scraggly little creature ran across the road in front of us.
I yelled, "Stop the car! I want it!" while Dan was still wondering what "it" had been.
Fortunately, he had slowed down enough for me to open the door and start my jump before the word "kitten" had reached his ears from the back seat.
I ran back toward the kitten, sure I sounded like a T-Rex to such a tiny creature, but when I said "kitty, kitty," she ran to me, meowing loudly.
While we were at youth group, Dan took her to Food Lion to get Kitten Chow and some soft kitten food, as she's a little thin.
Gooseberry will camp in Laura's room tonight with a makeshift litter box, food, water, and love.
We plan to keep her outdoors eventually, to which I say, "The best laid plans of mice and men..."
She seems well taken care of and well socialized. We found her in a place where no houses are anywhere nearby, and no more kittens were around, as far as we could tell. If she was dumped, it was recently. The only other possibility that we can imagine is that she climbed into an engine because of this cold front, and happened to jump out at that spot.
The girls named her Gooseberry after a cat in a book. That cat also is gray, with big green eyes.
These little piggies have been exhausting!
They escaped last night and ran deep into the dark woods. We thought we'd never see them again.
But then we heard oinking under the window. They were back.
Then they escaped again, from a better pen. This morning the neighbor called with pigs in his goat pen.
They got past us all and ran into the woods again.
But then they came home again.
Now they are hopefully secure in their small pen, built especially for Houdini pigs.
Laura's chicks came last Thursday morning!
I forgot to blog them, probably because I put them on facebook and considered them publicized.
So here are Laura's 16 laying hens in miniature.
They're Golden Comets, a mix of a New Hampshire Red daddy and a White Rock momma. The Amish folks around here use them as laying hens because they lay beautiful dark brown eggs daily once they get started at around 20 weeks.
They are soft and fuzzy, and so friendly and docile that they fall sound asleep in your hands.
Tonight wasn't a good night to get a pretty picture of these two cuties. By the time we got home it was pitch black.
Darn Autumnal Equinox.
But tomorrow is another day, and I promise some pictures of two tiny piglets for you to enjoy.
These are just two of the four pigs that Katie is planning to use in her pig breeding operation. They're just mixed breed piglets from an Amish friend down the road.
One of them is destined to take up residence in Barefoot and Sometimes Pregnant's freezer.
Katie is contemplating using the other one of these ladies as a second breeding sow for her soon to be purchased Gloucestershire Old Spot boar.
Either that or we'll eat her this winter.
I couldn't decide what to blog. I wanted the post to be boastful, yet yummy.
Here is just a small portion of breakfast by Becky this morning.
She made applesauce from a few of the apples that Danny bought at auction yesterday,
and these buttermilk pancakes.
They were delicious!
Katie reckons she's ready to step her pig business up a notch by making the move from raising a pig for the freezer to breeding heritage hogs.
Gloucestershire Old Spots are an endangered old breed who are supposed to be docile and well suited to being pastured.
Here's an 1834 painting of a "GOS" pig.
I think Katie's pigs will lend a rustic air to Providence Farm.
Yesterday before the surprise Jersey cow was delivered, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a milk machine. Cheap!
So Laura and I drove up the road, bought the machine, and came home right before Penny stepped off of her trailer and into our hearts.
Penny hasn't been machine milked before, so we milked her by hand last night and this morning to settle her in more easily.
We would have given her more time with hand milking, but this morning she stepped into the stanchion and stood for milking like an old pro, so tonight we'll try the machine for the first time.
When I milked her last night, I was shocked to find her to be the easiest creature I had ever milked, so I felt like the machine had been a mistake. But Becky assured me that although it's nice to have an easy-to-milk cow in case of a power outage or other rare event, she was perfectly content to use the machine normally.
Machines keep the cow's supply up better by getting out every last drop. They make milking effortless (that's a pro and a con) and they keep the milk much cleaner than an open bucket, so it stays fresh much longer.
Here is a small portion of the basket I bought today from the lady who sold Penny to me.
The apples are Jonagolds. I'm going to plant that variety this fall.
I'm not good at gardening, so receiving this plus a watermelon, plus sweet potatoes that were to die for, makes me consider hiring my gardening done!
We decided to milk Penny tonight to get her used to us (and so we had milk to go with our cookies.)
She put her head in the stanchion and proceeded to munch contentedly while we all took turns milking her.
I had never experienced a Jersey before, but now I don't wonder that they're so popular as family milk cows. What a dream to milk!
She gave a half gallon tonight. She's been giving a gallon and a half once a day. We'll milk her twice a day to keep her production up while she settles in, then switch back to just once.
She's expecting a purebred Jersey calf in January.
We'll milk till November then give her a break till the baby comes.
Seriously, buy a Jersey.
Dan and I heard that a friend was selling a Jersey cow in milk.
Penny is that cow.
So we bought her as a present for Becky, who's wanted a Jersey milk cow for a long time.
Penny is two years old and is expecting a Jersey calf in January. She's giving a gallon and a half now, being milked once a day. We can milk her till Thanksgiving before giving her a break before January's blessed event.
I will blog the other half of Becky's surprise tomorrow.
Katie snapped this beautiful picture of our dramatic sunset.
The weather is still hot and muggy, but oh-so-much more comfortable than the heat wave of mid-summer.
Now although the days are hot, evening brings cooler temperatures and the chirping of crickets, locusts, and frogs of all varieties.
We haven't had an actual crispness to the air yet. I think everyone, human and animal, is waiting with bated breath for that night to arrive!