Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vermont Post Office Needs Your Help

 A VERY tiny tiny rural post office might be closed because not enough mail is coming through its doors.


PLEASE Read the info and please SEND a post card!! 

Web Page here  with full story and video. This rural post office is Vermont perfection.
The post office is a very tiny building, nestled in the mountains.  Neighborhood chickens visit the post office and greet visitors every day.

Please send Post cards to:

Jane Davies
Rupert, Vermont

More info here  

FACEBOOK PAGE   where the first 1000 postcards received were scanned and put on the page.
 All the rest will be put in a Post card Gallery here


Send more than just one postcard if you are able, or send one every week or one every month, but PLEASE send them!   Great project for school kids, 4 H kids, seniors, EVERY BODY.
Send a card from your horse, from your dog, from your cat, from your rabbit, your cow, your turtle..your mouse, snake, rat, elephant, get the idea.   GO TO IT!

 Video and text from news story yesterday:

Thank you for helping,


Hillside Herefords

I saw some real eye candy while I was driving to work the other morning.

Big blue sky, green pine trees and red and white Herefords getting some sunshine on their hillside.

Clcik on the photos to enlarge them and enjoy the colors even more.

 I was going to title this post ":Hillside Heifers" but noticed that the majority of them were cows with a few handsome steers and heifers thrown in the mix.

The farmer who owns them sells fresh beef at the local farmers markets.

He also sells fresh chicken, eggs, corn and pork.

I have 2 of his pork chops in my freezer right now.

When I look in my freezer I know the farms and farmers that all my food came from.

None of it has bar codes or a long list of ingredients attached to it.

In most instances I know the name, age and breed of the animal that is in the package.

These cows free range all winter. They have a big barn to go into, but seldom do. They prefer standing up on their hills, under the trees in the sun and snow watching the wild turkeys, deer and caffeinated drivers go by.

They are a pleasant sight to see as I drive down the rural back roads on my side of Vermont.

I really like that this herd of cows are very calm and are not at all concerned about my vehicle being at the bottom of their hill.

They gaze at me and continue to chew their cud.

Thank goodness for cud.

Have a great day!

Do you have some eye candy that you get to see on your way to work ?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Winter Fence Fix'n

Fixing fence in the winter is absurdly different than fixing fence in the warmer months.

We use alot of fiberglass fence posts.  We put them in the ground during the spring and summer.

When those break off because the cows did some dirty dancing or the tractor tires got caught in the zip line, they are almost impossible to get back into the frozen ground.  Some people use drill bits to drill them back into the frozen ground.    I don't.

This winter I had to get very creative in the middle of a blizzard when 6 of the cows got into some heavy pushing and shoving one day.

They broke 2 of the critical posts that go behind the barn, at an angle, and lead up to the water trough.

I quickly located a broken cinder block under a snow pile and used it to hold 2 posts in place until a more permanent solution could be found.

 As you can see it works very well and none of the herd has gone near it since.

 I always give myself 10 extra points for the day if I do not have to use duck tape and hay string to repair something.

A few days later I found another post broken.

This is the area that we need to drive the tractor into to unload the bales of hay into the hay ring for the herd, so a better solution had to be created to fix this high traffic location.

Another cinder block was called into duty and because it was a critical area I used some special "glue" that I had on hand to wedge the post into a solid position.

It is tight, taunt and easy to drop out and to the ground when I drive the tractor in with a roll of hay.

I gave myself 15 extra points for this one...

Got some fencing tips you can share ?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Table Manners for Cows

Every morning the herd gets a nice 900 lb rolled bale of hay for breakfast and there is certain etiquette that must be followed so everyone gets a place at the table.

 They have to get out of the way so I can drive in with the tractor and drop the bale.

Then they have to step back while I cut and drag off the green plastic netting that holds the entire bale  together.

It takes a lot of self control on their part and a lot of fast action on mine.

I have been stepped on a lot when its muddy and bumped by a few eager cows, but for the most part they know the routine and wait for me to do my job and get out of the way.

 The alpha cows get into the same place every morning and then the other cows step up and then the larger heifers get their space.  Any cow who does not line up correctly gets bumped out of line by the other cows.

Everyone knows their place, so there is minimal jostling for space.

The calves are able to get a drink from their moms while they are preoccupied with eating and then the calves grab the hay that the cows are tossing around that drops on the ground.

There is no waste.

 This bale will last exactly 24 hours.

And then it is time for another one.

The smell of the hay and the cows sweet breath is very intoxicating.

It is one of my favorite aromas.

Do you have a favorite farm smell?

Monday, February 25, 2013


Whats the best present you can give an Irish Virgo?  One who celebrates Saint Patrick's Day all month!

56 pounds of locally grown, BIG potatoes.  EARLY.  Of course! 

These were harvested on my birthday last September by my favorite farmers and their recently purchased 100 year old vintage Maine potato picker. (considered a newer piece of equipment by Vermont standards..) 

We will be making Colcannon by the bucket every day during my favorite month of the year!

Don't know what Colcannon is ?

You are really missing out!!!

Please try making it to celebrate spring!  Its so simple, even I can do it!

Colcannon is a favorite Irish recipe and a particular St Patrick's Day favorite. As you can see from this Colcannon recipe, it is quick, easy and simple to make.

Colcannon was traditionally used for predicting marriage on Halloween. Charms were hidden in the Colcannon and any unmarried girl who found one would place socks with spoonfuls of Colcannon and the charms on their front door handle. The first man to enter the house was their intended.
We make ours with turnip and carrots in the winter and parsnips in the spring (right out of my Irish garden).
When my kale comes up in May, we will be using that as well.  Sometimes I sprinkle some cheddar cheese or sour cream in too. Best to use local or Irish Butter. I also use raw milk from the local Jersey herd too.  Big difference in taste when its all fresh and local!

Some families like to bake their Colcannon.   So many ways to make the same delicious dish.

There are lots of recipes for Colcannon online, but here are a few of the more popular ones:

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 1lb 6oz/675g potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 4oz/100g curly kale, chopped (or Spring cabbage if kale not available))
  • 1/2 cup scallions/spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of Irish butter
  • salt and pepper


  • Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked - when pierced with a sharp knife the potato is soft in the middle.
  • Blanch the curly kale in boiling water for one minute. Drain and reserve.
  • Chop half of the spring onions roughly and the other half finely. Add the roughly chopped scallions/spring onions to the drained kale and pulse in a blender for 10 seconds.
  • Drain the potatoes and add the butter. When the butter has melted, mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy. Add the kale mixture and mix.
  • Finally, add the finely chopped scallions/spring onions and season to taste.

"While this recipe is good, with an Irish family, we ALWAYS have to have Corned Beeef and Cabbage along with true Irish colcannon which is potatoes, onions and parsnips boiled together (and occasionally carrots) then mashed together with butter.....good anytime."

Baked Colcannon

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: 8
"A tasty cabbage and potato colcannon is enriched with sour cream and butter, then baked until hot and topped with melted Cheddar cheese. Make it as a side or a meal."
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pinch salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk, or as needed
1 teaspoon butter, or as needed
3 cups shredded cabbage
2 leeks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two. Season the potatoes with salt, and mash with 6 tablespoons of butter, sour cream, egg, and milk.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 2-quart casserole.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon butter in a skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir the cabbage, leeks, and onion until the cabbage is tender and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Crush 2 bouillon cubes into the cabbage mixture, and stir to blend and dissolve the cubes. Stir the cabbage mixture into the potato mixture until thoroughly mixed, and spoon into the prepared casserole.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes; top with Cheddar cheese, and return to oven until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
Here is another recipe on a bag of potatoes

The song "Colcannon", also called "The Skillet Pot", is a traditional Irish song that has been recorded by many artists, including Mary Black.   It begins:
"Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?"
The chorus:
"Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot."

Now you all know more about Colcannon than you ever thought possible.

So what do you think ?  Gonna try it ?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rural Farm Art

 I saw a poster at my library a few weeks ago and marked the date on my busy calender.

This kind of art show is the stuff I am very interested in so I did not want to miss it like I have missed several other local art shows with agricultural subjects.

 I rushed through my Saturday errands so I would get to the library on time.

Better yet, as a true Virgo, I got there an hour early and had the entire place to myself.

Many of the barns, cattle and homes looked very familiar.  Some of the art was labeled with location, some were not.

I circled the exhibit 4 times and by the third time through I recognized several of the barns and most of the cattle as I had also taken photos of the very same ones in the past.

Ironically, 45 minutes previously to walking through the library doors, I had been sitting on the side of the road for 20 minutes taking photos of one of the barns featured in this very show !

The first watercolor I saw when I walked to the exhibit was a barnyard of colorful cattle co-mingling around a hay ring.

Click on the photos to enlarge and enjoy them.

Then I laid eyes on this wonderful painting of Herefords at the feeder.  No price tag. No location.
  I kept coming back to this one.

This is one of the 200 year old barns I have photographed in the area too.

Her drawing makes it look so much better.

 Old farm houses with connecting barns are my absolute favorite.

Scottish Highlands.  I had just driven by the herd up the road.  I recognized the cream colored one.

Lights from the ceiling messed up a few of the photos, but you get the idea.

The cow and barn paintings were everywhere in the library.
The artist painted on different materials: canvas, wood, plywood, barn beams, etc

Red Angus


 Barns and old farm houses.

Scottish Highlands


More barns. One I have taken photos of and the other 3 that I want to find!!
One is an English barn with a turret!

Irish Dexters

I didn't recognize this barn until a friend blurted out whose barn it was.   I take dozens of photos of this particular barn in all kinds of weather and I still did not recognize it from this particular angle.
In my photos of this barn, taken from the side, there is usually a mule in it..

This farm has 4 palomino horses to the far right that didn't make it into the painting....but they made it into my photographs.


I have to go find this herd.  Carefully.

I have dozens of additional photographs of this fabulous art exhibit, but I don't want to spoil it for those of you who are willing to drive over to see it.

On my way out I went for one last time to look at the two I would purchase if I had the extra cash.

I certainly have the wall space!

Cows are like jelly beans, you can never have enough.

I hope you have enjoyed the art of Katherine Johnson.

The art show is at the library until March 16th.

2/27/13 Note:  I just found out that Katherine is in her 70's and does not have a website displaying all her wonderful art.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Saturday Vermont View

There is another snow storm coming.   It is supposedly going to be a "mini Nor'easter."
Never heard of such a thing.   Supposedly going to get only 6-8 inches of snow this time.
The Weather Channel hasn't given it a name yet, which is a good sign, however, the animals and my old farmers joints, are telling me something different.

The sky is dark and every creature great and small are scurrying around to get food and drink before we get bombarded with another windy blizzard.

The third sign of deep snow coming: ....the cows were cranky this morning.   I won't elaborate.

Here are two of the better behaved ones--Google and her still un-named 2012 heifer calf.  I have been alternately calling her Gouda and Giggles.  Both names suggested from some really creative name suggestions in the comments section (thank you).  Which name do you prefer ? Got any other suggestions ?

I did errands this morning. Clicking my camera as I went.
It got darker and darker by the minute, so I rushed through my long list of tasks.
Chicken feed, chick starter, chick grit, salt blocks, parsnip seeds, dog food (big sale!) a veggie book that I didn't really need, but I saved so much on Mavis' dog food I figured it was a cheap bonus gift for my diligent task doing.  I need to grow more food this year than ever before, both in my own garden and in the community garden that a small group of us are trying to develop, so this book will be well used and well borrowed by all who need it.    Big print, simple diagrams and easy methods.   Anyone read this book yet ?

I continued on my errands, my headlights on and the snow coming down lightly at first and then bigger flakes greeting me as I drove by old farms and fields. 

I stopped at the neighboring town's library to see an amazing art exhibit (will post it next week!) and then took a long, slow ride home thinking the entire way about my storm plan and how I would do things differently for this storm.

When I arrived home it hadn't started snowing up on my mountain road yet.

The flock came out to greet me and demanded some snacks.

I dropped my camera on the ground as I was emptying out my truck with groceries and it took this pretty cool photo.

As I watched the flock I saw the snow clouds heading our way.

The flock started grazing what little grass and dirt the plow man had exposed last week, and got right down to business.

Ziva, the Alpha hen, demanded her favorite scratch feeds and some left over squash and cauliflower.

She walked me over to the front door of the house to make sure I went in and got what she wanted.

This hen is more demanding than the entire herd of cows.   I kid you not.

Inside my home the smells of freshly baked Vitality bread filled every room and corner.

Wonderful with a mug of hot tea and honey butter.

As I sat and enjoyed my tea and Irish Vitality bread I gazed out the kitchen window at the snow that had just started coming down gently.
 The flock was still power grazing and one of the many downy woodpeckers was enjoying the fresh beef suet I had hung up.

Most of the birds have already been here today and almost emptied out 2 of the bird feeders.

The woodpeckers come early and stay late, enjoying every morsel.

The big snow starts later tonight and by then, hopefully, every hungry creature up here in CowVille will have a full belly and be able to hunker down for awhile.

Hope you all fare well in this new storm.
Any predictions on snowfall ?

In response to your many requests for the bread recipe
The Vitality Bread recipe is here

We add lots of other ingredients like Vermont Maple Syrup instead of honey and potato flour (King Arthur) to make the bread denser and cut easier.

Its the potato flour that makes it Irish.

Let me know how it comes out for you!