Monday, February 27, 2012

Red Men

As I trucked on down yet another rural road, I passed some real "muscle in the field" and did a 360 in the road and headed back to these handsome hunks.

Real eye candy.  And calm too.

I couldn't keep my eyes off them.

I fantisized about the calves they would produce if they had a "date" with a few of my cows.

They are not red angus.

Do you know the breed ?

Ok, the breed is.....

Red Devon.

Ever seen any before?


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snow Bear Smiles

The Snow Bear is happy.

We got a few inches of snow to make the skiers, snowmobilers and garden happy.

The sun is out today and its 29 degrees, so the snow is melting a little, but it still looks great.

More snow is predicted mid week.

Hopefully the colder weather will send all the skunks back into hybernation.

It was a real "stinky" week last week.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Running the Sap

The days have been warm and the nights have been cold.    The maple trees are warming up and the sap is running.

Sugar makers are collecting the sap and boiling it down into delicious maple syrup.

Its a BIG deal here in Vermont.

As I drive around I see many big tanks in the woods that the sap flows into through a gravity system.

Most of the trees are on steep hillsides, so the sap easily flows downhill into the various collection tanks at the bottom of the hills.. Some sugar makers have the sap flowing directly into their sugar shacks to be boiled down and bottled.

Here is one of the bigger tanks in the woods:

This is the largest one I have ever seen.

Most collection tanks are 55 gallon plastic barrels.

So this hillside of maple trees must be very very productive to warrent such a large, and expensive, tank here.

Keep in mind that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

A lot of work for a sweet reward.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February Farm Tour

The day was overcast, cloudy and just around 33 degrees so I went for a ride to find some new farms.

I assume this barn is empty, as it would be near impossible to open the doors with all the ice and snow packed up against it.  Don't ya just hate it when you get plowed in?!

I drove south and noticed the big lack of snow.  None.

Cows still out in the fields.

Red cows get my attention.

 And apparently I got theirs as well.


A very good looking pair.

I think they would of gone home with me if I had persisted.

These 2 were cute too.

Unusual color on the calf on the right.  Chocolate and white.

They were talking about me too.

Horses in pajamas always get my attention.  Especially blondes.

This one is a Morgan.       In a field with no snow.

Creative perches for farm birds.

More heifers on the hillside.

Very nice barn with some very content sheep.

Name that breed.

2 ewes for you.

A flock of calm faces.

They were as intrigued with me as I was with them.

A good day for a good ride to southern Vermont.

However, I saw lots of damage from Hurricane Irene. It will take years, maybe decades, to recover from the loss of agricultural land, homes, bridges and farms.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Dressed For Success

Mavis is from South Carolina and frequently will not get in my truck in the morning to go to work because it is too cold out.
In the past she was afraid of most of the dog jackets I got for her.  They made noise, or put pressure on various parts of her too sensitive body.

Several weeks ago a dog store opened across the street from my main office and I immediately walked Mavis over there on a day that was a warm 40 degrees.
In 15 minutes a wonderful PolarTec dog jacket was found and Mavis preferred it over all the other jackets we tried on.

She has been wearing it at work and at home. The southern girl isn't cold and is no longer giving me that "neglected" dog look.
I think the burgandy color suits her.

I spent her entire "treat allowance" for the next 3 months on this jacket.
Worth it.
I am going to purchase another when they go on sale this summer.
What color do you think would also look good on her?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Salad

I was in a "cooking" mood this morning so I made a very colorful fruit salad.

Can never get enough fruit!

Any leftovers will end up in yogurt tomorrow.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Loafing Around

Perfect day to play with the oven.

Vitality bread with all the good stuff in it!!

Rye Bread is next!
Whats YOUR favorite bread ?

Here is a link to one of the ways to make Vitality Bread;


Friday, February 17, 2012

Hearts & Hands

After church last Sunday I walked over to have fellowship with the rest of the church members and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by this lovely table and Valentine themed food.

The people in my church certainly know how to put a good spread on the table early in the morning!

All the fabulous color, smells and great rural conversations had me glued to the spot.

Most of us left with "containers to go" to bring to others who were not able to get to church because of illness or injury.

I was able to take 2 containers to church members who were suffering from bad colds and unable to attend fellowship.

I wonder what they have planned for the next big holiday.


Thursday, February 16, 2012



Just a sprinkling of snow this morning.
Rain coming tonight.

A very unusual non winter


Friday, February 10, 2012

Home Again

I got the best package in the mail today!!

My LL Bean boots came back from the LL Bean repair shop!!

They got new souls, new laces and 2 new inserts.

Cost: $42 bucks. Worth every cent.

They are BETTER than new because they already fit me like a glove and are already broke in.

3 weeks ago I gently packaged them and sent them off to Maine, with an apology note explaining the mouse nest and collection of wild grass seeds that filled both boots. 
Obviously a mouse had methodically built a wonderful warm nest from my dogs hair inside the GoreTex boots (smart mouse) and had a winters worth of food in there as well.  I suspect this happens a lot to footware that has been waiting around since 1984 for repair.

Why did I wait so long to do a very simple thing, you ask....

Well, there is a very good reason why I was afraid to mail these particular boots away from me.

In 1974 I was in high school and working a weekend job for minimum wage. It took me a year, but I finally saved enough money for my first pair of boots.
I drove to Maine and got my water proof, super warm boots.
A few months later I also got my first Golden Retriever puppy.
Ruby was the light of my life.  We were inseperable.
One day Ruby found my LLBean boots.
She left her"signature" of puppy chew marks on the boot tabs.
Unfortunately, Ruby died of liver failure at age 5.
Every time I put those boots on I thought of her.  Every time.
With my rugged life, the bottoms wore out 5 years after Ruby left.
The boots were no longer safe on snow, ice, or leak proof, so instead I wore them as slippers after I would take off my other boots at the end of a long day.
Over the years I went to college, moved to Florida, moved back to Vermont, traveled and explored various jobs and states. No matter where I went I always brought my worn out, unusable LL Bean boots with me.
Because every time I looked at the tabs with her puppy teeth marks on them, I would think of those days of running through fields, swimming in lakes, bringing the cows in to be milked, moving sheep to new fields and searching for missing hens, hidden stagecoaches and feral hogs.  Our magical solitude on a mountain many decades ago.

I feared if I mailed the boots for repair that they would get lost in the mail, or LL Bean would replace the tabs.  I couldn't risk it.

I couldn't lose that moment when a 10 week old puppy left me an important reminder that life is short and not to sweat the small stuff like a puppy chewing on your expensive boots.

So what made me change my mind to send the Ruby boots to LL Bean?

I read a review of a  LL Bean customer who returned her boots for repair. There was a"before"photo and an"after"photo.  It was clear that one of her boot tabs was missing in the before photo.
And low and behold in her"after" photo, that included new soles and inserts, there was NOT a replacement tab added to her boots.

I packed my boots up the next day, wrote a check along with the mouse nest appology note and mailed it all.

So when the box arrived today, I ripped it open and found this:

I'll never forget you Ruby.  Never.

Thank you LL Bean.  Good Job.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Princess in the Hay

It was a frosty -15 degrees below zero yesterday morning just before the sun came up.

I carefully drove down the icy road to feed and water the cows.  My headlights caught the ice crystals hanging off of all the trees.  My breath was freezing as I exhaled. The windows fogging up. My heater still blowing cold air.   The roads were empty and I was the only vehicle out in the dark.

The gigantic full moon was the only witness to my passionate drive to serve breakfast to my beloved herd.

As I drove closer to the field the cows are in, my headlights caught an unusual sight.

I wasn't really sure what I saw.

As I put on my heavy gloves over my heavy jacket I glanced again in the direction of the herd and saw a white head inside the hay rack.

The herd had frost on them and some were laying on the ground near the hay rack, the manure pack keeping them warm underneath.

But the one cow that was the most comfortable was the one inside the hay rack on her fluffy bed of hay.   She did not budge one inch when I arrived on the scene.

It was still dark out so my flash was going off, making the cow eyes look owlish.

Upon closer inspection I discovered it was the mischievous #5... Glory.  All tucked into the hay, happy, warm, well fed and with no intention of moving.

The cows had plenty of hay to munch on until I returned later that afternoon, so I didn't have to start the frozen tractor, sit on the ice encrusted seat or freeze my fingers off cutting the white marshmellow plastic off the big bale...until later in the day.

The old saying "let sleeping dogs lay" came to mind, so I left Glory as she was.

Hoping she would exit the rack on her own, without incident.

7 hours later when I returned, she was still in the hay rack and her mom was bellowing because her bag was engorged because that hay-bed hogging calf had not nursed all day.

Glory was not concerned.

The question; How do you get a cow out of a hay rack?

The answer:  Carefully.

Who else has had a cow in the hay rack?


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ice Bath-Cow Style

Doesn't matter if it is 40 degrees out or -10 degrees, my cows insist on giving each other several baths a day.    Of particular concern are the calves that are still at the sides of their mothers.

Doesn't matter if they are 4 hours old, 4 months old, yearlings or adults, they get bathed at various times during the day.


Google was giving Glory an "after dinner" bath when I was there watering them, in sub zero weather.

The wind was howling and freezing but it didn't stop this mom from her bathing duties.


Cleanliness is very dear to Miss Googlyness.  She has bathed me several times during the summer when I was in less than acceptable condition for her.  That sandpaper tongue almost took my skin off.

After she made Glory spic and span she turned her attention to her 5 year old daughter, Gwen, and started giving her the same ice bath.       I knew I was next, so I left.

Why all the baths never turn to actual ice in these extreme conditions always amazes me.  That is alot of slobber, but I imagine it stays warm because the cows mouth is warm and the cows stay warm in various ways.      Their body heat is a bit higher than ours and their winter coats are thick.  They got the real stuff, not PolarTec polyester.             

Good cows, good moms.