Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meals on Wheels

If you ever want to get a herds attention in the winter months, jump on a tractor and start it up!!

Early mornings have been exciting this week.  The cows are now done grazing the lush fields and are now back in the barnyard for the winter.  Hay is being brought to them every morning.

As soon as I get on the tractor, the herd gets up from where they were sleeping and walk over to their breakfast table.

They watch as I drop the electric fence, fork up the hay roll, cut off the white plastic and drive to the hay rack.

The cows know the routine and don't crowd the tractor OR the hay rack.  They are very patient.

 Well.......most of them are.

Gracie likes to "taste" the bale to make sure its good quality.

Once I drop the roll in the hay rack I have to unravel the plastic net on it, which takes me 2 rotations of walking around the rack and pulling the wrapping off.  The cows stand back and wait for me to pull it off, then they walk in and start munching their breakfast.

There is nothing as happy as a well fed cow.

Except a well fed steer!

Anybody feeding hay yet ?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Name This Heifer

Its been a very busy year and I have still been unable to name this last heifer.

The mother of this heifer is a traditional Red and White Simmental named Google and the dad is a muscular Polled Hereford, named Rollo.

She belongs to the maternal "G" line of females that I like.

I have had an uncountable number of these fertile, productive, calm females over the years.

So of course, I have run out of decent G names.

I actually recently named her sister Glennora. ("Glennie").

I like those Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Swiss,  names.

But I am plum out of ideas for this solid looking girl.

Please contribute your best G Names in the comments section.

Be creative.

I would really like to have a name for this keeper by Christmas.

Think it can be done?

If you have any questions about this heifer, or the herd, also ask in the comments section and I will answer, in the comments section as well.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Day After

Hope you have all survived the traveling and the big family get togethers of yesterday

We are still eating squash and pumpkin here that I harvested from the garden a month ago.

I also have lots of leftovers from several Thanksgiving celebrations that I shared with the flock this morning.

First one hen stated picking out the pumpkin seeds that she loves and then the rest of the flock ran over.

The two well mannered drakes stood nearby and allowed the ladies to dig in.

 For some reason the blondes were allowed to eat first.

 Then the brunettes came up to the plate to dine.

The boys continued to stand as sentrys and watch the girls pull out their favorite treats.

They are the most patient fowl that I have.

The sun is still shining, a soft breeze is blowing and its very hard to believe its almost December here in Vermont.

I do hope this weather continues!

Is the sun shining where you are?

What thanksgiving treats did you bestow upon your flocks and herds this week?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Still Grazing

Mother Nature has blessed us the past several weeks with continued decent weather.

It has been dry and sunny during the day with the temps in the 40's during the day and down to 20 degrees at night.  Cold enough to freeze the water in the duck pool until it warms up around 11 am.

The herd is still rotating through the fields on their way to the barnyard for the winter. 
Its a slow migration.

I frequently drive up the rural back road to check on them and I love finding them eating or napping in the sun.

I really hope this good weather continues.  In August and September we had to feed hay because all the streams were bone dry and there was only water at the main barn.  So this extended grazing is wonderful for us.

When the sun is out, the cows groom their herd mates and their calves.

The herd grazes in the valleys......

and on the rocky outcroppings on the hillsides,....

No piece of grass is overlooked or spared.

We do a lot of "hillside" grazing here in Vermont.  

We do not waste an inch of ground.

And the calves expertly nurse on the hillsides.  Some calves prefer nursing on the upside of a hill and some prefer the downside.       Interesting to watch.

Mavis has been enjoying the sunshine on the porch. 

Sometimes the pullets come up and lay down next to her.

I hope this weather continues for another 5 weeks.  Think it will ?

Are your livestock still grazing ?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Making Vermont Applesauce

The fall apple harvest up here was a bumper crop.

We bought several bushels to eat and then to make into apple crisp apple pie and applesauce.

A dear friend came over and started boiling up the apples, with the skins ON.
Then we got out the vintage applesauce press and started squishing the soft apples thru the strainer.

The wooden plunger is critical to getting the apples mushed so they go thru the strainer.

All that is left is the skins of the apples. The chickens and ducks love the warm left overs!

 Leaving the skins on gives the applesauce a wonderful flavor and a pinkish color.

I sometimes sprinkle cinnamon on some when I put it in my bowl for lunch, but it does not need sugar or any other additions to it as it is sweet enough!

Once the applesauce has cooled, just dish it into containers so you can freeze it OR it can be added to muffin and cake recipes. There are so many uses for tasty applesauce!  I add it to my kefir smoothies.

Some people add a little fresh apple cider to the applesauce to give it a stronger flavor of apple.

Have you made any applesauce lately?

What are your favorite kind of apples?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Errand Day

On my way to recycle with my 2 weeks worth of empty milk jugs, yogurt containers, miracle whip jars,  assorted other cans, paper and plastic I saw this old barn. I really wished I could rent this barn and fix it up before it falls down.
 I get a sad feeling when I see these once majestic barns falling into disrepair.  One heavy snow storm and this barn will collapse.

This village is populated with thrifty Scots and nothing is ever tossed, everything is recycled including broken post hole diggers.

Like the Doors of Dublin there are many colorful doorways in my village.

I love carved pumpkins and there are hundreds all over town.

I stopped at my local thrift store to see if I could find some warm turtlenecks to replace my 15 year old Lands End ones that have sadly disintegrated this month.  I didn't find any, but I did see this happy scarecrow and was tempted to buy him and put him on the chicken coop.  (I controlled myself..)

After my turtleneck search, I walked over to the library for a welcoming party for the new librarian.  Everyone brought food and smiles.  The place was humming with chatter and laughter.  I met new people and got a tour of parts of the library I had never seen.

The definition of "rural" is being able to bring your dog with you anywhere you go, and this event was no exception. 

After enjoying Danish fluffy pastry and scones, I headed over to my favorite farm stand to buy a gallon of raw milk so my kefir stays happy.

I love unusually shaped vegetables and at the register I saw this very romantic potato: 

Have you had any funny looking vegetables in your garden this year?

The woman at the register asked me if I wanted a few mini pumpkins as they were giving a truckload of them away, so I grabbed a bagful for my hens to eat.

On my way home I drove up a different road by the farm stand and found another well used barn.

 I think the first floor has been made into living quarters and the rest is being repaired and renewed.

If taken care of, these well built barns will last another 100 years.

With a few more days of Indian Summer, many herds are still grazing the hillsides.

Some are getting "Meals on Wheels" delivered out to their pastures.  Lucky cows.

These are the cows that make the milk that I buy, raw, and make my delicious kefir with.

There is so much cream in their milk that I am drinking more tea than normal just so I can enjoy the cream.   Will be making some chowda this week using a lot of the creme that way too.

Speaking of Kefir......

A local dairy is now making kefir.

At our garden club meeting last night everyone brought snacks.  It was an international feast.  We had figs from Saudi Arabia, avocados from California, black bean and corn salsa from New Hampshire and Kefir from Vermont.  A home made batch of kefir came to be taste tested against the store bought kind.   Both were extremely different from each other.  I mixed some fresh apple cider with some kefir and was thrilled with the tasty adventure.   Try it.

I never know where my errands will take me or what I will find. Today was a really great one!

So, how was your most recent errand day and what kind of adventures did you have?

Who among you is making kefir and what do you like to mix it with?

If you are buying kefir, what kind is your favorite and why.

( I like Safeway brand Peach and Raspberry)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday View

A white pony on a beautiful day.

Muscovy ducks guarding a tractor

                                                           A chicken tractor for turkey poults.

A very unusual weathervane.
I think we are having an "Indian Summer."
Perfect day today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


This summer I became a volunteer photographer for the town's 250th celebration that is coming up next year.

I was continually given photo assignments all over the area.  Historic houses, barns, monuments, livestock, people, and out of the way scenic hidden places.

I needed a driver as I did not know where some of these hidden treasures from by-gone days were located.  
One day my driver and I were confused over some directions to an ancient Vermont barn that had been taken down, moved and rebuilt in New Hampshire (shocking!!).

We were driving at a good clip while exchanging barbs about who has been getting lost the most on these back roads when all of a sudden we almost drove over a bunch of geese in the road.

They never moved.  Didn't even twitch a muscle.   Fearless.   They were big.

As I started to get out of the car to swish them out of the road, they started to get up.

Thats when I heard more noise over on the other side of the road.

It was another gaggle of geese watching this entire scene.

 They soon all zoomed over to the car as I exited it.

I moved out of the way as they came over to check out the vehicle and harass the driver for interrupting their afternoon nap on the road.

 As I laughed, yet another group came out from the other side of the road and started meandering up the road ahead of us.

 Then another group came out single file from the barnyard and headed up the road.

 Before long the road was full of honking, waddling geese heading North.

 I was so dazzled by the sight of so many geese I forgot to keep taking photos.

As more geese filled the road, the farmer came out to move the geese and apologize for the traffic issue.  As we chatted another car drove by and 2 geese chased it.

I learned that 6 of these geese were being driven down to Martha's Vineyard to appear in a commercial the very next day.  They get to ride on the ferry and everything. Lucky ducks, er geese...

Ironically, I saw a small flock of ducks under the tree behaving and minding their own business and thought I saw a Silver Appleyard duck.  I mentioned the similarity to my ducks and guess what?  It IS a Silver Appleyard duck and the farmer wants to get about 50 Silver Appleyard ducklings next spring.   
We chatted some more.  
I have a new friend.
I'm going back when I figure out how to get there.

Getting lost has its advantages.