Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some bonding, a tackroom, a coldframe. aspargus, fruiit trees, looking forward to rain!

I have to appologize in advance for the lack of photographic input.  I have been so overwhelmed with all the work around here that I have neglected to have my camera at arm reach at all times.  So if you can bear to read with no visual stimulation then kudos to you  ;).

First, bonding

The honeymoon phase with my new horse was nearly jeopordized by his pushy antics.  He for no other reason than ,he can, thought it a good idea to see how much he could get away with, with me.  The last straw was when I tied him and he threw his head and snapped the clip on the lead line.  So after some wonderful advice I decided to settle this matter.  But I knew that would take time.  Time has been in very short supply around here lately.  Wednesday I had a couple hours so I decided to take on this battle of the wills.  I was a bit skeptical that it was gonna work quickly but here we go.  I took him to his stall and attempted to tie him.  He acted like his normal self ancy and pushy self.  So immediatly took him out to lunge him and worked him until he was ready to listen.  Only about 15 minutes. Then back to the stall.  It took 3 times of this and it was like magic.  His attitude was 100% different.  He stood quietly while I groomed him and it was wonderful and encouraging that we were getting along.  I did the same thing on Friday and it only took lunging once!  Then we had a fantastic ride!!!  Oh it was glorious!  He was really listening to me and I even had the chance to figure out some of his cues.  Oh I cannot explain how wonderful our ride was.

Second, a tackroom.

My hardworking farmboy (AKA my husband) went out to the barn and built me racks for my saddles and saddle pads.  So now I have a bonafide tackroom!

Third, a coldframe.

We have this pile of wood that we salvaged from a platform we tore down in our barn.  Farmboy has been busy repurposing this wood into garden boxes.  Well we have two windows that are hanging around our barn from some reason or another.  Today he made me a small coldframe with some of the wood and windows!  I am so blessed to have such a willing handy man that is always up for yet another project at my request.

Fouth, asparagus.

Recieved my 25, 1 year old aspargus roots in the mail this week.  We finally got them into two garden boxes (made out of repurposed wood) on Friday.  Just before the rain was supposed to arrive.

Fifth, fruit trees.

We also recieved one rainier cherry, one stella cherry and one contender peach tree this week.  We got them planted too.  We put all this into the same area of our property.  I decided to put all of my "permanent" fruits and veggies in one area.  OCD much ;).  So the fruit trees, aspargus, blueberry and raspberry plants will make up the area.

Last, looking forward to rain.

And can you see why?  All of this has been wearing me to the bone.  I have more than once this week considered getting on my horse and keep on riding....  But I am still here.  Me and my neglected housework and laundry pile.  Rain, God's way of making people like me take a break.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What farm life means to me part 2

It is spending the day cooking and chatting it up with good friends.  It is the kids outside climbing trees and chasing goats.  It is planting fruit trees until 9:30pm.  It is feeling like you want  to throw in the towel on a weekly basis.  It is remembering that there is no other life more satisfying so you may as well keep on going.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What farm life means to me.

It means waking up in the morning with a list of to do's a mile long.  To go into the kitchen to get breakfast ready and looking out my kitchen window to see acres of space and horses in my back yard.  It means chores are plentiful.  It means gathering my kids to head outside to do those chores.  Sometimes it means being dressed in my nice cloths ready to leave and having to  milk an obstinent goat and getting milk on my pants.  It is letting go of the"image" that I should uphold and not being afraid to walk in somewhere with milk on my clothes.

Sometimes it is picking up a chainsaw and getting down to it because it just needs to get done.  It is carrying wood to the wood pile until my arms hurt.  It is knowing how to make due with what you have.  It is understanding that this life isn't all about having everything you want but about appreciating what you have and who you get to share it with.

It means that summertime brings fingernails stained brown because you spend so much time with your hands in the dirt.  It means that your kids at the age of 5 know more about planting a garden than most adults.  It means going to bed with a to do list that seemed to grow instead of shrink.  It means bruises, aches and pain.  It means iced tea in the hammock with my husband.  And kids digging for worms.  It means farmers tans that are evidence of  alot of hard work.

It means long chats with friends sitting in the barn solving all the problems of the world.  It means horseback riding through the woods and the kids laughter echoing in the trees.  It means not complaining when the rain comes because you know first hand what happens if it doesn't.   It means animal poo and lots of it.  It means satisfaction that cannot be measured knowing you provided your family with the best, healthiest and most inexpensive food this world has to offer.

It means fixing fences until 10 pm and chasing turkeys at 8am.  It means worrying about your animals and sometimes watching them die.  It means experiencing first hand the miracle of new life entering into the world to replace the ones we lost.  It means my kids knowing where their food comes from and it is not just a package we buy at the grocery store.  They understand a life was taken so  they could eat.  It means appreciation for that life.

It means being resourcful and creative.  It means I must always be ready to learn!  It means lifting 40 lb bags of feed and 50 lb bales of hay everyday.  It means family time often means doing work around the farm as a family.  It is working outside and knowing you are exactly where God wants you to be.

This life I live is sometimes hard, well alot of times it's hard.  It is exhausting.  It is frustrating.  It is overwhelming.  It is amazing,  It is rewarding,  It is peaceful.  There just doesn't seem any better way to spend this life.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our fence is done!

This is my new veiw from my back yard!  It is gorgeous!  I now need to take a new picture for my blog of the hammock since the veiw is so dramatically changed.  We had about 2 1/2 acres fenced in.  Our sad excuse for a pature is the reason that I have not owned a horse up until the point.  It could barely keep in my miniatures.  My new horsey could step over it.  So we have been saving and waiting for 6 years to be able to put this up.  So my dream could finally come to fruition.  So here it is.  Most of it is high tensile except the section that runs along our back yard.  The reason we did that are those 3 little ones that will spend part of every day doing just what they are doing here.  Hanging over the fence loving them some horsey.

Me and two of my girlies.  The other one is taking the picture.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Our first ride together!

Here he is!  He has been here since Tuesday morning.  I lunged him Wednesday to see how he would do.  He did well.  He is VERY alert which made me nervous.  I have ridden thouroughbreds, specifically race horses that have been very alert which in turn made them incredibly spooky.  So I wasn't sure about getting on him.  Riding used to be the thing I did most in my life.  What I lived to do.  But life has taken me on a differnt path.  A path that didn't allow me to do this thing that I loved for many many years.  So I am very out of practice and very out of shape.  So the idea of getting up on a 17 hand race horse was a bit unnerving. 
This is Steady checking out the cows across the street.  Like I said he is alert.
What I quickly found out was that he is a dream to ride!!!  Not spooky and totally safe.  Nothing to fear...well expect my ability to stay on :)  He did what I asked.  Moved forward when I wanted him to stopped when I wanted him to.  And he didn't mistake my arena for a race track!!

We had a wonderful ride!

He is such a good boy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Steady Smiler

It is happening!  It is really really happening!  It is almost hard to believe that this dream that I have dreamed for so many years is actually coming true.  I was so anxious.  My stomach was filled with butterflies and my mind with anxious question.  Is this the one?  Will it really happen today?  Am I just dreaming?  About a two hour drive to get to my destination.  I pulled up to a farm(hint,hint) so I could see this dream for the very first time.

Do you have it figured out yet?  What is this dream you ask?  Owning my very own thoroughbred!!  And the sight was gorgeous!  He was a 17 HH gelding named Steady Smiler.  He retired in December last year from the race track.  His disposition is so sweet.  After riding him for about twenty minutes I could tell that he was as docile as an old dog.  So I let my very anxious little girls get on and I walked them around.  

This horse has a pretty cool history.  He is ten years old.  So he had a pretty long career.  In that career he won hundreds of thousands all over the world.  I was reading over his racing papers.  It is a list of all the races that he has won.  He has taveled more than I have.  I just think it is pretty cool.

He is being delivered on Tuesday or Wednesday and I CANNOT wait.  Luckily I am so insanely busy around here I probably won't even have time to really think about it.  But beleive you, me when he gets here no one will probably see or hear from me for weeks.  While I bask in the wonderfulness of my new friend.

So as I said his name is Steady Smiler this is his track name.  But that is not what we will call him around the farm.  So now we need to come up with the perfect name.  Any of you have any suggestions?  He is a dark brown (liver chestnut) and a gentle giant.  And this is this the only picture we got of him.  Not the greatest but don't worry you will get to see enough pictures of him soon you will be sick of it :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Say CHEESE...goat cheese that is!

If you didn't read my milking story you may benefit from going back and taking a look at my last post.  Then you can fully understand the effort that has gone into making this cheese.  My first attempt at making homemade goat cheese was a success. 

Now I have a culture that I purchased a while back to make Chevere but there is a process in preparing the culture that I have yet to attempt.  So I just went with the easiest with what I had on hand and ready to go.  So I made crumbly quick cheese made with apple cider vinegar.

                            This is what you start with
                                2 quarts goats milk
                                digatal thermometer
                                2 T apple cider vinegar

First you enlist some super duper adorable little helpers. And stir until the milk reaches 180 degrees.  Making sure the milk doesn't scorch.

Next turn off heat and stir in 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  So easy  a child could do it :)


Strain in a cheesecloth lined colander and tie corners together and hang or I use my jelly strainer.  Let sit until it stops dripping.
Salt or season to taste and eat! Next time I am going to mix in sundried tomatoes and basil. I pressed it into a tuperware container to get a desired shape.  You could leave it loose as crumbles.  It is good in the refridgerator for a week.  Good luck with it lasting that long :)

Ima Milker

That's right I have my very own bonafide pygmy milking goat.  I have owned this fine creature for near 4 years now.  I have fed her and cared for her daily this whole time.  Until now she has never once contributed anything to this family.  I think it is about time for this to change.  This is her second time kidding.  The first time I was not there with the idea of milking a goat.  This year though I thought what the hay.  I am feeding this animal either way.  I may as well try to benefit somehow from it.

Have you ever milked a goat?  Better yet have you ever milked a 4 year old goat that has never had a human touch her udder let alone yank on it 2 times a day?  Yeah me neither!  I had no idea what I was in for.  Hahaha it has been interesting to say the least.

First 2 days I went out there wrestled that goat, pulling and squeezing and 30 minutes later I had about 3 oz of milk to show for it...haha.  Seriously I am not joking.  So I was at the point of quiting.  Quite honestly I got to that exact same point when learning how to breastfeed for the first time.  Which is kind of ironic.  Now we are all women here, I mean I don't think I have any men that read my blog, so we can speak candidly ;).  You know that feeling when your milk first comes in when you are so engorged even the pressure of your t-shirt makes you feel like you may explode.  I am thinking that was about where Bubbles was those first couple days.  That is actually why I finally made that jump into milking.  The babies were not nursing on one side and she looked terribly uncomfortable.  Now you think she would be grateful for me to relieve some pressure.  Well not so much.

So I called my friend and asked her to please come over and see if it is me with the problem or if this pygmy just doesn't make much milk.  She very kindly did.  After about 5 minutes she had over a quart of milk from just the one side.  Now remember she is a pygmy so I was quite impressed with over a quart.  So it became obvious that the problem was with me.  At least now I know that it was worth my efforts to keep at it.

Well about a week out and I have to say everything is going great!!  I am finally getting the hang of it.  It is only taking me about 10 minutes to get it all done and I am consistently getting about 1 quart a day from her.  1 quart is plenty for my family of 5.  With even some left over every so often to make some cheese!  Now if only she would give in and quit fighting it.  I have figured out how to handle her now without spilling the milk.  It was something I picked up on a blog one time and I don't even remember where.  But if you squeeze that tendon just above the hock, for some reason it makes her stand still.  So I milk with one hand and hold her leg with the other.  Right now I am milking one side and the babies are eating from the other so this method works.  As for when the babies are weaned and I need two hands to milk we may need to adjust our method some.  But you know what if I have gotten this far and am milking a goat.  I am thinking not much is gonna stop me now!

Sorry no pictures of me milking.  There is definitely a shortage of hands to hold the camera.  But the next post about the cheese I made will have plenty of pics.