Our momma hen is back to laying eggs. In the cat's house. On the front porch. But we have eggs again, so that's all that matters.
And here's a duck egg from Pip thrown in for good measure.
It was a bad feeling to be buying eggs from the store for holiday baking.
There's simply no comparison between the bland store bought and the dark colored, flavorful home grown eggs.
God bless you, poultry, every one!
See that big luxurious clothespin in the foreground? I'll be assembling 19 of them tomorrow.
I was so excited when Herrick Kimball released a batch of clothespin kits. They sold out quickly, but I am among the lucky few who got a package.
The pieces are soaking in boiled linseed oil to offer them more protection from the elements.
My laundry is soaking in my homemade laundry soap that smells like Grandma's washing.
I feel frugal.
I had meant to be a consistent blogger but I'll wow you with these photos of famous thespians to take your mind off my long blog absence.
We just performed in a weekend full of "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" at the local community theater.
I was Mrs. Madison, a neighbor to the main characters. Laura was convincing as Lige the coal man. Becky and Katie were children in school with Virginia. I know Becky's picture is blurry, but I like it anyway. It summed up the energy of backstage shenanigans before the shows.
This has been a busy season, full of the blessings of a job well done, a close-knit community of fellow actors, and an outreach to people who want access to the arts in rural America.
Clyde is excited about the wildland fire industry's off-season. Most of us won't hold Uncle Clyde because of his unnecessary roughness. He's downright dangerous with his claws and his teeth. He likes to rub his head on us, drooling from happiness, and sucking on fingers.
Now that Big Dan is home, Clyde gets his morning nap on a lap every day.
It takes a man to snuggle with Clyde.
My Aunt Jackie thought "Cider" would be a good name for the brown calf. I keep thinking of her as "Cider" now, so I suppose this name will stick. Maybe "Mulled Cider" to open up more availability for nicknames.
Here she is, soft and sweet in the morning light.
Little Miss Dee is a fantastic first time mom.
I was out in the field photographing the new heifer this morning, but Opal wanted me to take a picture of her picking and carrying her harvest of broom straw to her shelter.
Does this mean that she's announcing her expectation of piglets? Or is it simply going to be a cold winter?
Little Miss Dee had a heifer calf today, surprising us all. Well, we knew she was expecting, but we didn't know when to expect the blessed event.
Here are what I thought were family portraits of daughter, and mom, and dad.
Until Big Dan pointed out that the real father was obviously Jersey Bull Calf, from a relationship consummated before he went to his new home in the freezer. Just ignore that photo of the proud bull. What he doesn't know won't hurt him.
So even better- a half Jersey heifer calf.
We now have six female dairy breeds cows and calves at Providence Farm.
Laura wanted a nice big wreath to decorate the door this year. I was seeing them for fifty dollars, and not well-made even at that outlandish price.
Becky got up early, went collecting in the woods with five kitties, and made... this!
Every time I buy vanilla extract, I cringe because of the exorbitant price.
So I bought my own vanilla beans wholesale and poured vodka over them.
I have another bottle like this to fill and then I'll be on the hunt for cheap bottles.
I'll keep you posted on the progress.
I had an abundance of Penny's milk and asked, "Which cheese should I make?" The girls answered without hesitation, "Pudding!"
Laura was at the stove making the world's best chicken with dumplings, and I crowded in next to her with my chocolate pudding pot.
She flung dough from her fingers, and we laughed until we cried when it almost plopped into the boiling pudding. Luckily it hit the side, but now we have a better idea of how new recipes are created.
And yes, we use a blaze orange stocking cap as a pot holder for the hot lid. Don't you?
Instead of "hunting," this post should be labeled "hunting light."
The girls are processing three guineas that came to our farm a long while back and have been eating a lot of feed and tormenting our chickens. Becky and Katie decided to kill two birds with one stone, or three birds with three .22 bullets, as the case may be, by eating them for dinner tonight.
I'll try hard to remember to photograph the dinner so you can enjoy tasty skinny African fowl vicariously through us.
You can't really see three of the four cheeses from Penny's fall freshening, but you can imagine the deliciousness underneath that red cheese wax. The hard cheeses are being born about a week apart it seems. There are two Farmhouse Cheddars, a Parmesan, and a Romano. I ended up feeding a Manchego to the pigs because I had messed up so much of its timing while it was being made that the curds just wouldn't stick together. That fiasco was a direct result of muscle relaxers. Normally cheese mess-ups work out fine, sometimes even to my advantage.
As you can see, each cheese gets a cat scan before its wax coating.
I use raw milk, so to be perfectly safe from bad microbes, we wait at least two months to eat any of the hard cheeses.
There's a particularly lopsided Parmesan this time. That happened because I put the cheese mold in a five-gallon bucket, a dinner plate on top, with weights to press it. The plate tipped overnight and this cheese will have a variety of tastes within the different edges when it's ripe.
Lopsided cheese will be a thing of the past, however, after I ordered my handy-dandy professional cheese press from New England Cheesemaking!
I also ordered black wax and pure beeswax so Penny's cheeses will have a little variety in their looks.
I wax all my hard cheeses whether the recipe calls for it or not. So far the Romano in this batch is the only one that isn't supposed to have a waxed rind, so I will be interested to taste the final result this winter.
Yes, I've hatched a plan that involves a few of those exceptionally hot peppers in the background being pressed into service to create some Habanero Jack and some Habanero Cheddar.
Katie makes butter every morning with the cream she hand skims from Penny's milk.
Each quart jar she shakes makes one ball of butter. We had three today. I'll wash it and put it in a one-pound butter mold, then I'll quarter and wrap the sticks of butter and freeze them so we won't have to buy butter all year.
I thought after we milked Penny last time, I would be prepared for the sheer abundance of milk and cream she produces. But alas. I'm still overwhelmed with just the two and a half gallons a day she gives to us after she's fed Felicity about the same amount.
It takes two gallons to make a two pound cheese, so I'm able to make a hard cheese every day of the week and still have plenty of milk for all of our other dairy needs.
The two gallons that Katie skimmed for this bowl of butter will become a lower fat Romano cheese. Not low-fat, mind you. Low-er. There's still a whole lot of cream left in the milk!
Every time I carry a full bucket back up to the house through the little red gate I holler, "Thanks for the milk, Penny!" and each time she calls back, "Moooo!"
Penny gave birth on September 17th around dinner time. Unbeknownst to us, the heifer calf must have had a hard birth resulting in the lack of suckling instinct. A day later, we fed a weak, fading calf her first milk. She had missed her initial colostrum, so she got an infection. We took her to the vet's for IV fluids, a tube feeding of mom's milk, antibiotics, banamine (calf Motrin,) and vitamin shots. Since then we've been providing supportive care- tube feeding every meal and continuing meds, to keep her alive till that elusive suckling reflex came back.
This evening, between feedings, I was giving her a cranio-sacral massage and manipulating her spine with my fingers if it felt out of whack. She went into a deep sleep on my lap and I prayed earnestly that God would intervene in this situation.
Becky came to the pen, we got "the calf" as she was still known, up to see, once again, if she would nurse.
Becky asked me to push her rump as she pulled her head toward the udder. I sad, "Let's just see what she does, first." And lo and behold, she walked right up to Penny's udder and started to nurse! Then she gave a few butts for good measure.
She had gone from being a "dummy calf" to being cured in that moment.
Her name is Felicity: noun, 1. the state of being happy, especially in a high degree; bliss.
Bonnie is teaching her little family the ins and outs of rodent killing.
Yesterday Furby played what we thought were unrealistic games with his mouse carcass by throwing it up against the tree and leaping onto it as though it were climbing away.
Then today we saw this little mouseling run from the shed where Bonnie was holding a hunting session and scuttle up the oak tree.
Looks like Furby knew more about mice behavior than we did!
I just want to make sure that my friends in other parts of the world have a clear understanding that it's hot.
Here's a pretty sight that met me on the west side of the house this morning when I went around to see the dogs coming home from the fields with baby bunnies in their mouths. (They were cheating at hunting because a blacksnake had found the nest and they hogged up what he couldn't get down the hatch in time.)
I think the sky and trees and moon look so pretty this morning.
Momma Bonnie, sister Polly, Gooseberry, and Blizzard are missing from this photo shoot because they were wisely hanging out on the cool front porch doing dainty lady cat stuff while the baby brothers Jase and Furby romped in the heat with Uncle Clyde.
In case you haven't gotten the idea, it's hot here today.