Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whew! The holiday flew by.

What else is there to say. We had a wonderful Christmas with family galore. We did have to work Christmas Eve. Ted brought my daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Jasmine up from New Hampshire. They picked up my daughter Leah, Victor and my granddaughter Brianna from Bangor. They got there just in time for Alex and I to leave for work. Alex took time to nab a big hug from Brianna.
Leah had time to braid her hair and put beads in. I think she must have started listing to port with that weight. She was awake enough for a smile and a few dozen kisses before we had to leave. My daughter Sue and Tonya brought Alex's son Jake up and arrived early morning.
We got home on Christmas morning to a wonderful smell. The girls had started cooking. The turkey was in the oven. It felt so good to be home. We were so fortunate to have so many kids home at the same time. Jasmine is helping her Mom unwrap her presents too.
We started a Christmas tradition of building a gingerbread house. Each year the kids seem to get more on themselves and less on the house.

Tarah and Teddy came up from New Hampshire after visiting her family. They will both be at Thomas College this year together.
Even Ivy the Pug had a good time. We are working through a cold spell with lots of ice. We took a slide downhill backwards in the truck today. After that we went and got a small load of sand to spread over the drive. Hopefully we will have more traction tomorrow. We hope that everyone had a wonderful and happy Christmas. It seems that a lot of the everyday farm activities have slowed. Jasmine and I cleaned the chicken nesting boxes out yesterday. It smells better and the chickens seemed to approve. We hung another cabbage up in the coop. It was gone by the time we went to pick up eggs in the evening. No trace that it ever existed. We got 30 eggs from 40 hens today. That is pretty good for winter. We are having to keep the big brooder lights on in the hen house to keep them warm. It will be down in the 10's again this week. Brrrr...... Take care. Thank you to DC from Winnipeg for my first online soap order through my Etsy shop. That was a real thrill. We will be working three nights straight. Take care, keep warm. God Bless.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting Ready For Christmas

We were plowed out last evening and went out to finish the last minute Christmas shopping. Today is the day to clean, clean, clean. This has been a very busy day. I love a clean house but I would rather not have to do it myself. No housekeeper so we cleaned. We both have family coming Christmas Eve and Christmas. The house is decorated, and it does look warm and cheery. The stockings have a home. I have no expectations that our stocking will be filled. They just look really cute.
We have to work Christmas Eve so the girls are doing the cooking. We have a turkey and ham defrosting. Next year we hope to have one of our own turkeys ready for roasting. I have never had a fresh turkey, I'm told that there is no comparison. The last of the baking needed to be done so Alex started rolling out her Phyllo dough for Baklava. (I weigh 10lbs more now)

Notice the wicked looking knife?

Notice the evil gleam in her eye?

It's because I kept stealing the Almonds.

Here it goes into the oven.

Mmmmmm..... warm crunchy Baklava straight from the oven.

Our first egg nog of the season. Anyone up for a diabetic coma?

Here is an easy recipe for baklava, it is calorie free, fat free. Any recipe that starts with "melt 1 cup butter" is dangerous.

3 cups chopped walnuts
3 cups chopped almonds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup sugar
Mix above ingredients together

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup honey
1 TBS lemon juice
Heat above ingredients until dissolved

Melt 1 cup butter

In a 9x13 pan (buttered), layer phyllo dough, buttering each layer with a brush. Be gentle, start with 10 layers of phyllo dough, cover with 1/3 of filling, then add 6 layers phyllo dough, top with 1/3 of filling, then an additional 6 layers of phyllo dough and the last of the filling, and end with 8 layers of phyllo dough. Brush butter on top, cut or score squares prior to baking. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Take the hot baklava from the oven, cut through scored layers, carefully pour hot syrup on entire pan, allow to cool.

We still have presents to wrap, egg nog to finish, take care, have a warm and safe evening. Watch out for crummy roads. Nite from Mainely Ewes Farm.


Monday, December 22, 2008

White Christmas in Maine

We worked 3 nights in a row, went grocery shopping just after work, went to sleep and woke up to this. Per the Weather Man we had 17" with three foot drifts. The wind is still howling up to 35mph. The sun is just now starting to shine, just in time to set at 3:30. The snow covered wreath on the front door was made with our very own hands. Alex was wearing gloves (allergy to pine/balsam). The wreath is Balsam, Pine and Cedar. We took a class at Mapleshade Farm in Garland Maine from Rachel and Linda Clewley. They do a really great job and ship all over the place.

The front pasture is knee deep, this is our outside Christmas Tree. I'm sure the snow plow folks appreciated the cheery lights as they plowed up and down Rt 221.
This is the wonderful job those heroes worked on. North 221 looking toward the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin in the far distance.
This is Metropolitan Bradford ,Maine. If you have a furrowed brow, it's a joke! Note our one and only blinking light. We don't even have a real traffic light. I love this place.
This is looking across the street to Kevin's, Cheata's and Nikia's house. Those people are the heroes I mentioned above. She was out plowing all night for DOT and Kevin is a Mechanic with DOT. Nikia came over to hang out with us this morning while mom and dad were working. She is a great kid. Notice, he is prepared with hay on a trailer. Cows will be happy.

Notice how pitiful the barn looks in the snow? Well it don't look so great without snow either. This is our summer project. If you notice the house trailer door on the side it gives you a great idea about some of the other "repairs" that were done in the past. The snow is way too deep for the girls to be outside. They have been on coop arrest. The snow slid off the barn roof on top of the coop and collapsed it in. Another summer job.

This is the beautiful pasture with an extra 50 fence posts. No fence, just posts. Winter surprised us this year. Use your imagination and think of a peaceful scene with wire, and sheep. While you're at it imagine green grass and summer too.
This is my winter look. I did not throw that shovel! Alex has a wicked sense of humor. I personally think I look good in Carhart.
(What is this Momma?)
I was reading a blog while at work the other night, (ok, so I like to play on their computer, it's much faster than ours) and read about giving the girls something to occupy their time. They tend to peck at each other when they get bored. We bought cabbage and hung it from the rafter on jute.
Hmmm....... what are we suppose to do with this?
Oh! Chicken Tether Ball

We wanted to leave you with a cute pic of Timba the fierce mouser in the rafters. Don't feel sorry for him he sleeps in a four poster bed complete with HDTV. We have another storm due Christmas Eve and on the following weekend. Winter has arrived. Take care and have a safe and Merry Christmas. best wishes from Mainely Ewes Farm. Love, Kelly and Alex.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

No, it can't be December 1st!

How can it be December 1st alreay? It seems like Fall only arrived. We have been so busy and time does seem to fly by. I know that everyone feels this way. There have been a few milestones to mention. This is one of the very special ones.

Brianna is my youngest granddaughter. She turned one on November 11. What a cutie. She now has 4 teeth in and screams at the top of her lungs, just for fun. We were blessed with family up from New Hampshire for Thanksgiving. Alex's son Jake came up as did his brother Cliff and his new wife Sara. They have 2 beautiful children, Mia and Peirce. Alex is so happy to have a grandson now. Welcome to the family. My daughter Sue and her girlfriend Tonya came up, and brought my other granddaughter Jasmine with them. Leah and Victor came and brought Brianna. Teddy came home from Thomas College and brought Tarra. We had a table full. It was truly a blessing. We all fit! i hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays.

We finally got the wall up in the mud room. We had to insulate and install new wall board.

Then we had to paint and put up shelves. This is where I store alot of my soap and lotion making supplies. If you don't know what this color is, it is called "Cow Belly". I know this because I found a sticker of a cow, took it to Home Depot and had them match the color on the cow belly. I then proceeded to name it. "COW BELLY"

We bought a pellet stove from Lowe's. Ted unloaded it from the truck and put it into the basement. Then Alex and I proceeded to "install" it. I'm very proud of us. It took a few frantic calles to the stove maker to get things right. At first not enough heat and too many pellets. Then we got the air intake right and now have a wonderful heat. Can't live in Maine without heat. The basement is downright warm. We have vents in the floor of the kitchen, office and mud room alowing for the heat to rise.
This is the other source of heat we use. The propane logs in the living room heat the whole second floor, my room, living room and dining room. Not bad and more reasonable than oil. We will be finishing the floors in the next few months.

We did get to have some fun. The Christmas tree is up and we are getting into the Holiday Spirit. I think it makes the house even warmer.

And, not to be forgotten. When I opened the door last night this was waiting for me. I love Maine. I love the snow.

May everyone stay warm, be surrounded by loved ones, and find peace. Good night all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rainy Sunday

Yesterday I said that Alex was an excellent artist. She loves to draw and paint. Over the years I have asked for different paintings. This was a Christmas gift from a couple of years back. I think pigs are the cutest. They are smart and remind me of dogs at times. Anytime pigs stink it is because their humans keep them in a small area and they cant get out of mud and muck. These pigs remind me of T and I. The frame is made of weathered barn wood.

This is a painting of the tug boats in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I have always thought they were personable. Like they have their own attitude. We lived in Portsmouth when we first moved up north. These tugs are on the Pisquatiqua River (I know I spelled that wrong). Alex painted this about 4 years ago. I draw stick people. No joke. If it is a girl there is a triangle for a dress, a boy with boxy pants. I have no talent. It's easy when I have a best friend who paints scenery and a boy friend who sketches portraits. Remember, I draw a great stick person. Wanna see a cat?

This is our neighbor Kevin. He came over to dig a big hole for us. Our barn does not have water. We run a hose out of the basement window to water the chickens. Winter is fast approaching and we have to have a water source. News flash. This is new to me. Water freezing in winter? Amazing, it just didn't do that in Florida when I was growing up. Now we have to have this thing called a hydrant with drainage so the water can flow back out of the faucet and into a rock bed after using. That way the pipe doesn't freeze. I keep learning so much.

This is a backhoe at it's best. Go Kevin Go. I'm in the cheering section.

This is what we got after about an hour. A big honkin hole. See the water? It rained today, all day. Now Chris will have to come out and install our new shiny water hydrant. Woohoo!

This is the expression on the faces of the girls when I told them that they couldn't go out today. They were not impressed. They like to stay in the barn on rainy days and poop everywhere. Just take a sec and imagine how much poop 45 hens and 2 Roos make. No, on second thought stop. It's not a pretty sight.

They weren't too mad at us. They gave us this beautiful bounty from their, ah.... hearts. Have a safe and happy evening. We have plans to paint and trim the mud room tomorrow. I will post pictures for anyone who is into self torture. Thanks to Peggy from Hidden Haven I can now post and move pictures around. Thank you Peggy. You are an inspiration. Night all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spiders have a life on the farm. They are in the barn, in the window sills, in the corner, in the chicken coop, you name it and they have staked their claims. I love spiders. They help keep down the fly population in summer. Anything that keeps flys down is good in my book. This one was in the bathroom window. The key thing to keep in mind is that she was on the outside. That's a good thing too. The weather is getting cooler and the leaves have already lost their color and fell to the ground. Fall is here and on its way out. Winter is reminding us that it's not far away. The folks in "The County" (an area north of us near the Canadian border) have already had 6 inches of snow last week. In Maine you are either born here or are "from away". When you don't understand something and ask a Mainer about it, they get a twinkle in their eye and a slight mile on their face and say "Oh, that's ok, you don't know, you're from away". I'm from away. I love Maine and Mainers too. I was sitting here looking at pictures from this summer and thought I would try and post them on Blogspot. It taint easy folks. I have to put the pictures on first in reverse order then type. Isn't there an easier way? Anyhow, here are some highlights of our summer. I hope you enjoy.

My daughter, Sue, and I went to Frelsi Farm to put a deposit on the sheep that we will be getting next year. They were so sweet. This ram was bottle fed and very loving. We spent the day traveling back roads and enjoying each others company. We stopped for lunch at "The Yankee Smoakhouse" barbecue. It was so yummy.
Alex, T and I went strawberry picking. Greed is a bad thing. We picked 19 quarts and they were divided between preserves and berries in the freezer for later this winter. We did give 2 quarts to the neighbors.

Maine has a wild life. No, not the one of clubs, bright lights and dancing. This beautiful girl came up one afternoon while we were working on the back of the house. She was curious about what we were up to. She kept easing closer and closer. By late afternoon she was laying in the grass about 200 ft away. People were stopping and taking pictures. A real traffic jam. In Maine two cars are a traffic jam. Anyhow, we went to work that evening and the next morning when we got home we had moose tracks by the back door. She had came all the way up to the house. I bet the cats had a spazz.

This summer we decided to let the chickens out of the coop. So far so good. Samson our main Roo looks out for our hens. He is such a handsome devil. Makes the hens swoon.

Most places have guard dogs, we have a guard cats. This is Oreo watching this hen very closely. He never bothers her. The cats think that the chickens are more powerful than they let on.

The girls are now free range during the day. We have 45 Barred Rock Hens. We are getting about 32-36 eggs a day. You may ask what we do with all those eggs. Well, we try to sell what we can at work. We give neighbors and family eggs. Actually we push eggs on everyone in shouting distance. They are all locking their doors when we stop by. Hmm. We have all the makings to build and paint a sign, EGGS FOR SALE, and Alex is a wonderful artist too. However, time is not on our side. When the masterpiece gets done I will take a picture of it and post. We take the left over eggs to the homeless shelter in Bangor. These wonderful people provide 3 meals a day and have no food budget. Everything is donated. The white roo in this pic is named "The Captain". He is for entertainment only. He doesn't lay any eggs, picks on all humans except T. He decided to make friends with T and then T wouldn't let us send him to the butcher with the rest of his brethren. He is the size of a turkey now and pushy as all get out. I keep threatening him with the roasting pot but I think he knows better.

At night the girls and Samson (the mostest handsome roo) go back in the coop for safety and warmth. It is getting chilly in Maine now. I hope you have enjoyed this update. We have been working a lot at the hospital and hence work on the house has slowed a bit. We will try to post more often. I will definitely work on posting pictures. I feel there has to be an easier way. Take care and everyone have a peaceful night and remember to Vote. We need everyone to be there.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall- Officially Here

Well there is no doubt about it, Fall has arrived. We had a hard frost last night and the garden is prettty much done for. Just the other day we put 4 quarts of brussels in the freezer and I hope we can go and get another batch in the next few days as these are not really affected by the cool weather. We have also learned that here in upper Maine a summer garden is really a fall garden. So much of it is just now coming fully ready and then the frost gets it. We have absolute bucket loads of green tomatoes out on the now frost killed plants. How fair is that? I did get a bucket in on thurs of ripe ones and another of Italian peppers. We will just have to put up what we can. I did manage a huge pot of apple butter over the weekend and sent some home with the kids. Even Teddy took some back to college with him. Kelly made 4 wonderful zuccini breads with pecans and we have already devoured one.
Kelly's big accomplishment was getting some of the Christmas Soaps made. She did a big double batch of Gingerbread with pumplin flakes and several Holiday scents with stuff like cranberry seeds in it. It smells so good upstairs where it is all drying. It takes 4 weeks to harden and for the lye to ?dissapate or ?react or whatever it does. To turn into good luscious soap. The website still is not up so you can't get it yet but hopefully soon.
The chickens were free range for 3 days but are now back in their coop. We made a lovely door to the yard and set the girls free. They were delighted. So were we. We just got such a kick out of them that we sprawled in the grass and watched them for hours. They ate grass and chased crickeets and carried on when they got a grasshopper. How funny they are 46 hens and 2 silly roosters trying to guard them. Then yesterday we spent hours in the flower garden getting the new peonys from Canada planted and weeds pulled and dirt moved it low areas. Today the hens came in while we were asleep and chewed up flowers left and right. They scratched big holes and generally tore things up. So they are banned until we can figure out how to keep them freely home on the range and out of the garden.
Our neighbor Chris came and cut down the pasture grass along the fence lines while we were asleep also. Now we can get the new posts in and the fences started.
We took Leah, Kelly's daughter and her sweet baby to the pediatrician yesterday so she could get a persistent ear/sinus infection treated. I hate it when the babies are sick, they just don't understand why they feel so crummy and she keeps pulling on her ear. Hopefully in a couple of days she will be better.
I have a new great niece Wren. Welcome to our world. I miss your mommy and my sister has sent me beautiful pictures of you. Know that you are loved. Well thats about all for tonight. We keep our friend peggy at Hidden Haven and her daughter Melody in our prayers and for all our servicemen and women. From the far north....Alex

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mid Week Blues

Here we are at work again and this month has a crappy schedule. Seems we are working 2 on and 2 off a lot. But as you sleep the whole first day you are off you can't get a lot done. I have felt crummy the last few days but Kelly actually got some things accomplished. She painted the stairwell. No mean feat with rigging boards to serve as scaffolding. And it is beautiful. A rich Sage with lots of white woodwork. The spindels for the railing are still in a pile in the barn as we slowly get the old paint off. There are multiple layers and no amount of paint remover or stripper gel etc seems to want to work on the innermost layers. So we scrape and sand and rub steelwool for hours for each spindle. But each is turned intricately till about half way up and then becomes an elegant spiral. You don't see anything like that today so we are trying to save them. And the railings are a dark wood, maybe mahogany. We will stain the treds to match all the other floors and the paint the risers white. the spindals will be white as they were originally and the rails dark. But not any time soon. Kelly also put another coat of mud on the kitchen cornices so we may be able to prime and paint soon. We picked out the colors for the dining room. This is the biggest room in the house. Lots of windows and 4 doorways. The area below the chairrail will be a deep colonial red and above a soft cream. All the woodwork in the house is white plus the beams in this room are boxed and white. Well the pellet stove came in and we picked it up yesterday. Ted managed to get it down to the basement today but now we have to move the water heater and redo some of the piping. that is not an outrageous job but its one you cant stop till its done once you start. So I need several days off as a margin of safety. then we can hook up the stove and get an electrician in for power to the controls and thermostat. Always something. Well the bugger chickens go to the butcher on Sat. I will be doing the chicken dance in front of the barn. Ted has one rooster who is not going. He is "the Captain " and he follows Ted around the yard and thru the barn. If he is going to stay he will have to go in with Sampson and the hens but so far 3 of the hens have been kicking his butt. Wish him luck. We need to go up to the wellhouse and check on the light that provides heat in there. Forgot to mention that during the summer we had to have the well casing and foot valve replaced as they were cracked and found the whole elect. outlets for the light had also failed. Now that entire mess was an unforseen expense. Just what we needed. Good thing we found it now and not when its 5 degrees and the well is frozen. I hope to get some apples picked and make some apple butter and pumpkin butter this weekend. Today, for the first time, all the windows were closed as it was cool and very windy. Kind of nice actually to curl up in a sweatshirt and warm socks. Of course cats and a dog snuggled in are nice too. Teddy called from college. He has already worn out his basketball shoes and needs new ones right away as he had an apparent blowout. He wears a size 16 shoes so these have to be ordered. But he loves his classes and has lots of friends so shoes are just part of the package. Hope his coach understands about shipping time. well folks I think thats about it for tonight. Alex

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back at last

Well what do you know, the computer at work decided to let me on. You never can tell what its going to do. I know it has been quite a while but let me try to get all that we have done in some sort of order. In July we picked 19 quarts of strawberries and made our first preserves. Well we made some preserves and some syrup. Pectin , it seems is magic and we are novices at its control. We have about half the jars (about 25) that are just too soupy to be called preserves. But its good on ice ceram. And the freezer has a goodly amount in their natural state. Our chickens have matured nicely. We now get about 30 eggs a day and are selling them. We are talking to a caterer and that would be sweet if they want 12 dozen a week. We got 25 cornish cross roosters to raise as meat birds and I will not be sorry to see them go. All they do is eat and sleep. And they are not nice when you go in to feed, they peck at your legs constantly and spur you. So I say " to the freezer with you old buggers" and I will keep my affection for my sweet brown hens. Ted built us another set of nest condos as 9 was not enough. The girls were pushing and shoveing and laying eggs everywhere. Now they are much happier. The weather has been an issue for us all summer. It rained here in upper Maine for a month straight, every day. No one could get hay cut. Well some did but not us. The fellow who was supposed to cut our hay does not like to square bale but has both a square and round baler. He gets half the hay for the job. This year he thought he had a lease on a much bigger field a so kept putting ours off till the rain started. When it finally ended we had hay and weeds and his lease fell thru so he came and cut ours. Then his square baler wouldn't work so he round baled everything, except sheep want dry hay and we have no tractor to move round bales. So we have an empty barn and round bales sitting out in the rain. He on the other hand can use round balse and has the tractor. Go figure. So Kelly and I have decided to go to the USDA and jump thru their hoops in the hopes of getting a loan for a tractor mow bar, rake , and baler. With 20 acres of hay we can do our own. So additionally, due to weather, high grass, and general lack of funds we still don't have our fence posts in or fence wire purchased and up. We did , however make a trip down to Skowhegan and check out the Tractor Supply Company. What a candy store! They tell us one is coming to Bangor next year. I can't wait. We have a pellet stove paid for and are waiting and waiting for Lowes to get it in. We've been 5th on the list for a month. Pellets are also reserved thru our feed store. The sheep are coming in January so we have much to get ready. The second side of our old barn is now all cleared out and just a few repairs needed for the sheep to come. I have to build a bunch of doors before winter gets here. Now kelly has decided to get some dairy goats. I have to find out about mixing the goats with the icelandics and what the differences in care are. Her Soap making is going great with many different kinds of wonderful all natural goat milk soap. Selling well. If we can ever figure out how to get the web site up and running you can all see it. Now she is going to make bath bombs and maybe lotion. I have started making cheese. So far Mozzerella and ricotta and soft chees spreads. A neighbor has goats and lots of lovely milk and is going to teach me to make cherve though I still can't pronounce it. Lets see what else... Teddy, Kellys youngest is off to college this last weekend. Phones and says he loves it so that is good. The house sure is quiet. The bees are doing well according to Kelly. I still look from an allergic distance. The back of the house has the siding completed and all the kitchen cabinets are in. We built a huge island around the chimney and it has lots of custom stuff like tall sheet pan cabinets and cutting board slots and soda can bins and is all tiled. We took down the wall that was so cold in the kitchen last winter and found..surprise, no insulation at all. nothing, just the ouside boards from when that end of the house was a barn 160 yrs ago. So it is now insulated and sheetrocked but has yet to be painted. All the bedrooms upstairs are finished. Floors are done, walls painted and decorated. Thats 5 rooms. All that is left up there is the hall and the yet empty bathroom. Someday!We did end up with some tomatoes squash cabbages brussels, lots of Italian peppers and onions. The grape vines are ok as are the raspberries but the blackberry didn't make it. The blueberry bushes look fair. Our asparagus patch lots like it will be ok too. Some of the trees are already changing. The days grow perceptably shorter up here and I made a big double batch of homemade bake beans. Must be fall coming. I am headed to NH in Oct for my eldest sons wedding and have been clothes shopping, which I hate. but I finally have something to wear. Kell'y birthday was last week and mine is in 2 weeks and so time marches on, right over us. All her kids were up last weekend which was loads of fun. Good to see them and the grandbabies. well thats it for now. Glad to be back. Alex

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Whatever Weather

Tuesday evening. It has been hot and sticky all day. Yesterday I drove to NH and back (Yee hah!) and it was really hot and muggy there too. But it evidently stayed overcast with sporadic hard rain through out the day up here in Maine. Kelly and Ted attempted to get our big pile of brush to burn but it just wouldn't stay lit to finish the job. And it was still too wet to burn today. The ride home last evening had steamy roads and fog on the streams. There was the glint of standing water between corn rows and potato hills as I got further north. Still haven't seen much hay cut. I guess no one is willing to take the chance of rain when its been raining at least every other day for weeks now. And they tell us more is on the way. We may get a break the evening of the 4th and the 5th. We'll see. We would like to get started on refinishing the main room floors but we haven't sorted out how to keep the cats, dog and us off them to dry, and how to have access to the bathroom, and how to get to the upstairs to sleep, without crapping up the urethane or doing each floor in pieces. We really don't want overlap marks or paw prints or to have to sleep in the cars. And we won't even discuss how to exist without a bathroom for the number of days it will take to stain and put down 3 coats of urethane. Some of our cats are NOT barn cats and will be most put out at even being confined to the kitchen.i.e. Abby the Diva prefers not to leave Kelly's bed except to eat and hiss at all the other cats. They are after all her underlings. Max and Sara are Maine Coon Cats but both like long naps curled up inside. Beau and Sugar are both ones who prefer to be outside during summer and will not be a problem. Oreo is a big tuxedo cat who like Timba the orange kitten use us simply for cat exchange at the kitchen door. in-out-in-out. all day long. And Lastly Little Mo, our petite grey baby. She Is the mightiest hunter of them all but after having gotten lost in the woods for 4 weeks when we moved here, is not comfortable too far from the house. And then there is Ivy, our silly Pug dog, 8 yrs old deaf and sweet as they come. she sleeps with me or on the sofa 20 out of 24 hrs. What will we do with the critters? What will we do with us? We did pick up the paint for the guest room and I will try to get all the new overhead lighting fixtures installed over the next weekend or so. And we have to finish work on the next section of the barn because the new chicks arrive on the 14th . Their stall/coop still has several year old petrified cow poop on the floor and holes in the outside wall. No rest for the wicked.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday night in the Big City

Here I am at work again. Fairly busy tonight for both of us. It was a good morning for sleeping but a million phone calls this afternoon. Most of them crap. But we both did get some sleep. Kelly has a headache that we think may be sinus/allergy/humidity. Who knows, She's feeling miserable. May be lack of sleep. Brought a bunch of Kelly's soap in to other nurses and it's very popular. It's all natural and made with lots of goat's milk, which we've been buying. But Kelly has been looking at all the wonderful farms with goats and now it seems she wants goats too. I WANT IT ALL and I want it NOW. So in addition to chickens and sheep , cats and a dog it seems we are going to look for goats . What I really need is a tractor. No what I really need is money. Or maybe I need sleep too.
Ted spent the day fixing my car. Teddy, 18, was using my car to go to games and practice for basketball last winter when someone hit it in the school parking lot. His attitude was, I wasn't in it so it's not my fault and definitely not my responsibility. NEVER lend things to a teenager. So because his father is a nice guy, my door now opens all the way and the major dents and crumples are out. A quick coat of paint to slow the rust and I'm back in the saddle again. Or back in the Hyundai.
So we're looking forward to Sunday off (to sleep) and Monday off. I am heading to NH again but this time to visit my mom(she's 85) and take her shopping and out to lunch. Then 3.5hrs back. God I wish I had stock in gasoline. posted by Alex

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Week, New Exhaustion

Well, here we are at the beginning of another three nights on. But boy have we gotten a lot done in our time off. On Friday Kelly's daughters family left the farm for their own apartment. And their baby now has her own room. Saturday was a shopping day. Groceries, Wal-Mart, Feed store etc. With some laundry thrown in for good measure. Oh, and we got the new freezer. Sunday was sunny and warm. Actually Saturday was too for the first time in weeks. So we mowed and trimmed and tended gardens. Jasmine had a ball feeding new mown grass to the chickens. They had great fun eating it. Kelly got all the tools out of the kitchen now that construction has narrowed its scope to walls and ceiling. She spent most of the day cleaning house. Ugggh.We unpacked some more boxes that have been stored since last July. Like getting Christmas presents. Sunday late at night we stole into the coop and put the sleeping roosters into the carry boxes. No muss , no fuss and only the occasional squawk. Nothing like the dead of night by flashlight for unpleasant tasks. Early Monday morning we were off to the butcher.Jason's Butcher in Albion ME. Now I have never done this or seen this done but where we went was very clean and very humane. Also very quick. We handed them the chickens (actually Ted and I- Kelly stayed in the truck to avoid crying) and they put them in cones to kill and bleed them. Then to a big hot vat and off came their feathers. Now they no longer looked like our chickens , just food. Then they were thoroughly cleaned and packed in ice. But the chickens before and after ours were HUGH. Seems Layer/meat breeds mean layer and not much meat but meat breeds are big. So we have 40 smallish chickens in the freezer and we are going to order 25 big breed chicks right away to have ready by fall. Sunday night Kelly and Tiffany made two batches of soap. Tuesday Kelly and I drove Jasmine and her Mom back to their apt in NH after a nice summer vacation with us. We will all miss them and hope they can get up for awhile before school starts. Wednesday Kelly and Ted did business in town and I did piddly things around the farm like hoeing weeds and peel a couple of cedar logs for fence posts. The garden is still pitiful. Out of 6 long rows of corn I think we have 5 plants. No beans came up. We lost all the tomatoes,and most of the peppers but I'm replanting some of those. We have cabbage, Brussels, Spinach,onions and squash. We have one lone pumpkin plant. We have 2 baby grape vives, 2 blueberry bushes , 2 rasberry and 1 blackberry plants. About half the asparagus came up and it is so thin I almost missed it and weeded it out. Herb garden is doing well. And we unfortunately have a whole section of garden thick in thistle. We will dig all that out and burn it this weekend. We are all kind of tired. Kelly cut the new soap to harden in the evening. Today was very lazy. Hate to get too tired when we have to work all night. Ted however made a beautiful 9 unit condo for the hens when they get ready to lay. So now the farm is quiet with just 4 adults and only one rooster- Sampson. We'll have to see what we can do about that. I miss the noise. posted by Alex

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lost Days

Well we worked last night, came home , fed chickens and went to sleep. The day was beautiful they tell us. We wouldn't know, slept through the whole thing. Tonight is our second of three in a row. We should be feeling human again by Sunday evening. For all the grumble working 3 days a week lets us truly have time to work on the farm. Ted spent the day trying to locate the old water line to the barn with a pick and shovel. Its down there somewhere. We have a new draining pump thingy to put in. What do we Floridians know about water lines that have to drain so they don't freeze? What I do know is we have to break up the concrete floor in the barn to dig some kind of pit to fill with rocks for the pump to drain into. This is going to be hot ugly work, I can just tell. But we need to get water for sheep and chickens before winter and a garden hose wont do. The original line comes out just behind the stairs in the barn and the floor is broken and sunken about 18 inches. So we need to run a new line into the house to connect just after the pressure tank and out the wall where the old one was, then into the new spot in the barn and hope the front of the barn doesn't fall in on us or something. Oh, Kevin got home and says he knows what is wrong with the tractor and can fix it easily. Thank God for small favors. Made the appointment to have the chickens "dispatched" in 2 weeks. Now we seriously need to decide if we need a new freezer by then. Since the old one is pretty full we probably do. Drat.. always something to buy that is simply not fun at all. Why cant we get a flat screen TV that will store chickens? We lost a rooster yesterday and another looks poorly. They were exposed to avian encephalitis as newly hatched chicks. We lost 19 then but now this guy is doing the same stuff, walking on the backs of his legs kind of hunched down. Anyone know what this is? Posted by Alex

Small Accomplisments

Well, here we are in June. The kitchen cabinets are finally done and we have just confirmed that,as suspected, the outside kitchen wall has NO insulation. Not a good thing in Maine. So our next project (as if we needed a new one) is to tear down the crappy hardboard over old wallboard (like30's or 40's judging by the wallpaper) and put in insulation bats. Understand these will not fit. Our studs vary from 32 to 46 inches apart and are made of trees. Then we can put up new wall board that will be custom fit because the floors are not square to the walls. Actually, nothing on this farm is square.
This afternoons accomplishments included setting up for the roosters to go to butchering in two weeks. A good thing because they are starting to crow and get all roostery, pushy and pecky. Time to go to the freezer! The heat followed by days of rain has seen all our tomato and pepper plants done in. The corn has not even come up. I may try some more tomatoes but it is getting late in the season to start and the whole garden thing is pretty discouraging. Maybe next year when we get a chance to do something with the soil in the garden it will be better. We are in Maine so we mostly raise rocks. Then we surround them with clay that is either dust or sticky muck and has no organic content . Hired someone to roto-till and find it goes only 3 inches down after 3 days of work. Add seeds and get what? More rocks in neater rows. I need to find manure and not the kind I get at work.
Ted spent the last two days trying to fix our neighbors lawn tractor which we borrow. But it still eats belts at $37 a pop. And the lawn is now 1/2 the height of the hay. Maybe we'll just hay the lawn.
Confirmed the 3 ewes for this winter. They will be AI bred before they arrive and Elaine at Frelsi Farm has promised to help us with the selection of ramAI stuff as we know from nothing. Less than nothing. Still in the "Oh how cute that lamb is "stage. How will we know if our lambs are good when we think all lambs are great.
Kelly's granddaughter Jasmine, 5 has taken to naming the bugs as they get in the back door. We have these huge iridescent beetles. She has called one Jimmy as in "Jimmy is in my bedroom and now I can't go in. Come help me" She told me a couple of nights ago that Jimmy's cousin Timmy Turner was trying to get in the kitchen window, pounding on the screen. Beetles have last names?
OK The new predator wasps are on the compost pile, the flowers are planted in the front yard with the new stone wall under slow construction, the lilacs are all just about done, tulips gone lilies not yet budded. We are still just at the beginning of summer here. But the days are long now this far north. Sun up well before 4 and still light at 830. Not that we always see it. Very few windows in the ICU and we work nights. This Post written by Alex.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rehabing a 160 year old farmhouse, just the beginning

The kitchen after the wall is down, all insulation gone.
I never want to see cellulose insulation again!

Air mattresses never felt so comfortable.

Alex in our new kitchen in the dining room
The cows, outside looking in.

We arrived in June 07 and immediately started ripping out walls. The kitchen was too small and the cabinets were inadequate to say the least. It's not like we were destroying something that was antique. These cabinets were recently made by a very incompetent carpenter. They were varying sizes and shapes, nothing we wanted to keep. They were taken out and placed into the dining room to serve as our temporary kitchen. Alex and I went to work on tearing the wall out between the kitchen and adjoining room. We could not find any reason for it to exist. The wall stood no chance against two women armed with a sawsall. It bowed with grace and dignity then fell like a mighty giant. Ok, now the wall was down, why is the ceiling sagging with sewing thread hanging down? Hmmm..... Ok, being the person that I am I had to find out why. So we began pulling on the thread. Remember when you were a kid and there was a thread hanging on your sweater and your mom said to leave it alone? Well, I never listened. So the thread pulled and pulled and all kinds of sewing notions came down upon our heads. We took a hammer and commenced to remove the ceiling. It was actually a false ceiling that had been installed for blown in insulation. Imagine us covered with sweat from the July heat and then heavily dusted with cellulose insulation. Tar and feather really comes to mind. The wall was down, the ceiling ripped out and cellulose everywhere. What to do with it? Stuff it into contractor bags of course and put it in the dumpster. When this day was over we were totally exhausted. No running water to shower. The hose outside was really looking attractive. The neighbors across the street came to our rescue. Kevin and Cheeta have turned out to be great neighbors. They had the wonderful idea of inviting us to a shower (in an actual working bathroom) the use of their laundry for clean clothes and a burger on the grill complete with cold beer. We were in heaven. It felt so wonderful to crawl clean into our air mattress beds and go comatose. In Maine the air cools off at sunset drastically. The next morning we were up early, hot coffee from our New Hampshire water that we brought with us, bacon, eggs all cooked on the two burner camping stove we brought with us. It tasted so good. As we are eating breakfast Alex and I look at the window in the dining room and there are 4-5 cows looking in at us. I could just imagine what was going through their minds. Kevin is a wonderful neighbor but not the best fence layer. As we found out later there were always escaping cows. Even with all the work facing us we could envision the beauty of the land and see it as a farm one day. There is so much satisfaction with hard work. This Post written by Kelly.