Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking Back...And Foward

The clock is ticking away on 2013,and I must say,overall,it was a very good year for us.

The most wonderful that happened this year is that Rick finally got his assistance dog,Richie. Not only that,but he got it from the best training facility in the US,NEADS. While Rick's PTSD/TBI will not go away,Richie offers him great support in situations and helps to calm him down .

We also finally set our little farm in motion,buying three Romney ewes and being put on the top of the list for three Nigerian Dwarf Dairy does for this coming Spring. Through this we also met lovely people who are more than willing to share their knowledge with us whenever we have a question or situation arise. It's like becoming part of a small farming family!  

I discovered yoga,and though I have been remiss these last few weeks,I am going to begin my classes again. I had to find a way to calm my anxiety. Sometimes living with someone with PTSD/TBI can be very trying,and even though I love my husband more than life it's self,he can frustrate me. He has to do things in certain ways,even if it's more difficult or make no sense  -it's just the way his brain works now. The job gets done,but not in a timely manner. The barn is an example. I kept telling him that we needed to start on it-but he kept saying we had time. Well,the holes are dug,and that is as far as it got before the ground froze up. Rick has no sense/concept of time anymore,and even though I tell him there won't be enough time to accomplish something,he won't listen to me. Yoga helps me  greatly- it centers me,and I do find calm and inner peace. Plus I have some me time,which is very important for my own well being. Yoga has been a huge positive this year.

The scariest thing that happened this year is when Zach got struck by lightening at National Youth Leadership Training at  Camp Bell,in Gilmanton. Those of you here in the States may remember hearing about 23 Scouts getting struck by lightening this past summer in NH. The charge went through Zach's heel,and he has a tiny scar left,but that is all.Some of the boys minor suffered burns,one boy had his heart beat turn irregular for a while,but no one was killed,thankfully. Now,after "10 years of red tape" a storm shelter is going to be built up on the mountain. It only took 23 boys almost getting killed to make it happen. It seems like tragedies or near tragedies have to happen before things can move forward in many cases!

2014 looks like it's going to be a great year-our barn will be finished,we will have our goats,and we are currently deciding exactly what to grow in the garden. We had to pull up our square beds to make room for the barn area,so I will need to decide where the beds are going to go,and what we are going to continue to grow. There are a few things we have not had great luck on,such as corn and pumpkins,so I would rather focus on what grows well for the time being. I want to grow a dye garden (plants and flowers that I can use to dye the sheep's wool with) and we do want to plant plenty of clover for the sheep and goats to nibble on.

I am working on a new home management binder-our old one was too heavy. I have actually created two new binders out of the one large one-one for household information,the other for farming. This time of year it's easier to take the time to be more creative and do more organizing,so I enjoy it more!

Thanks to all of you who have continued to follow me from my old blog,Little Cottage In the Country. I am still hopeful that some of the other followers will find their way here,and I look forward to getting new readers!!

Have a lovely New Years!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Snowy Day At The Farm

As I mentioned,we got a few inches of snow yesterday. It was very pretty watching the snow fall,so I decided to take a few photos to share with you.

This was the view from the kitchen window over the sink:

I had to visit the ladies,of course.Being new sheep owners,we still get a chuckle out of the fact that they don't mind the snow or rain because their wool is so thick:

 Violet,as always,is quite the proper lady,never any hay on her face,and always looks calm,cool,and collected:

Starlight is like her twin,Woolsey. They are more tomboyish,always have hay on their faces,and tend to be more skittish. Notice how she is giving me the woolly eyeball!

This truck is not on our property,it is on our next door neighbors,but I loved the way it looked in the field:

Our door bell-an actual bell with a chicken on the top:

Today I am taking down a some of the Christmas decorations. I do leave up the tree until after New Years,but the Santa's,etc,have come down.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Lovely Christmas!

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! We sure did. Christmas Eve my Mom and sister Linda come up for our French tradition of pork pies,and then on Christmas we went down to my sister's for Christmas dinner. My Mom now lives with her and her husband,and this may be the last Christmas we spend together since they are moving to TN next Fall. One never knows what life will bring,of course,and we may get down there for Christmas some day,but my Mom is 88 years old, understand what I am saying.

Today we are getting bit of snow,and that's fine,since we are going nowhere,and Zach has school vacation. Rick and I slept in a bit this AM and it's going to be a laid back day. The only thing we have to do is make sure the sheep and chickens have enough food and water and are comfortable. After that,it's doing whatever we feel like doing. Nothing is planned,nothing needs to be made,wrapped,no schedule needs to be kept. It's a good day to just BE and enjoy each other's company. A lazy day,as it were.

Rick took the dogs out,and he enjoyed chatting with our neighbor across the way,Patty. I liked the way he,Richie,and Samson looked  talking in the lightly falling snow,so I took a quick photo:

Thanks to everyone for following us on our journey this past year! I think of you as friends and I appreciated your support.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cashew Brittle

I found a very quick and easy recipe for Peanut Brittle on Instead of peanuts, I used raw cashews-it's delicious!

1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of light corn syrup
1 cup raw cashews
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda

Combine first four ingredients in a 2 qt microwavable dish/bowl,and microwave on high on for 4 minutes. Stir and microwave on high for 4 more minutes. Add butter,and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla and baking soda until light and foamy.

Pour onto a parchment covered baking sheet (you can use a buttered sheet instead if you wish) and spread mixture as thin as possible. It will harden as it cools. Break into pieces and enjoy!

Friday, December 20, 2013

An Early Christmas Present

Rick was mighty curious as to which day I was going grocery shopping this week.Normally I try to go on Tuesdays,but sometimes I do it on Wednesdays. This week was a Tuesday. He told me to make sure I had my cell phone on me,because I couldn't come home until he told me. He had been working on my Christmas gift,he explained,and I wasn't allowed home until it was set. I did have some errands to run after grocery shopping,so that wasn't a bad deal.My curiosity was getting the better of me,and I kept wondering what in the wide wide world of sports he had planned and what he was bringing.

Sure enough,a couple hours after I left the house,he called to tell me to give him "another half an hour" and I could come home. I actually gave him a bit more than that,and as I pulled up to the house I was looking around to see if anything was different. Nope. Everything looked the same. He helped me with the groceries,then told me that I had to close my eyes. I did,and he led me through the back yard.(Thank goodness for snow blown paths!!) He kept saying,"I wanted to get you something that you will like." Since he was leading me towards the sheep,I thought maybe he had bought them coats to help keep their fleece clean."It's something that is very useful," he told me,as he led me into the pen. I heard him opening the wooden gate,and then he said,"Open your eyes!"

There stood a third sheep!!

Rick had bought another sheep,the twin of Lady Woosley. This sheep was a bit lighter,with more coloring,had red ears and a spot on her nose. The spot reminded me of the book Farmer Boy,when Almanzo names his colt Starlight because of the mark on it's nose,so she became Lady Starlight.

Now we officially have a flock of sheep! When we go out to feed,water,or just visit them,they bleat their hello.
It was a real cool present...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finds I Love!

We have a spot over our kitchen sink for a light fixture,like most homes. And,like many homes (ours especially,since it started out as a camp)nothing is square and many things were poorly installed. When we moved in,there was a generic white globe fixture over the sink. It was ugly,and it was crooked,but I lived with it. I had far more important things on my agenda (Rick in Iraq and his readjustment into life in World,plus being a Mom of a little boy) than worrying about a slightly lopsided ugly light.

When we decided to redo the kitchen,I gleefully rubbed my hands together at the thought of picking out a new fixture. One that I liked! I wanted everything to reflect who we are. We realized that the reason why the fixture was crooked was that the outlet was so close to the wall that any fixtures didn't quite fit. A light bulb could fit,but no glass fixtures to make it pretty. We would have to go into the attic and see if we could pull the electrical lines a bit further from the wall,which we discovered was a no go. We didn't have enough lead to do it. 

Hmm. I didn't want a bare light bulb just hanging there,though we did do that for a bit. It looked half finished.And the only glass fixtures that I could possible squeeze in there was-you guessed it-the ugly white globe that would have to be slightly crooked so it would fit.

I then remembered seeing in an a magazine an old style lightbulb,the clear kind where you can see the filaments glow when it's lit. Now,that would be cool exposed without a glass fixture. It would look old school. I had to have one. However,I didn't want to spend tens of dollars for one bulb. Ten,maybe,but not tens! It would be worth it to splurge a little.

As luck would have it,I was in Home Depot one day,and decided to check out their light section. Low and behold,I found what I was looking for. A vintage light bulb,for $9.97.

I found the light bulb,but I needed an pull chain so I could turn it off and on. ( Did I mention that the light above the sink had to be a pull chain light? I guess I forgot).Happily,they also had some pretty attachments for the pull chain. I picked a pretty multi-colored glass bead attachment. Here is the full length view:

Here is the close up-a bit blurry,sorry!

I LOVE the way it looks! It adds to the room and helps create the feel that I want.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Christmas Spirit Is Here!

We are gearing up for Christmas. Our house is filled with the Christmas Spirit-the happiness,love,and general good feeling that this time of the year is about. While I try to maintain that year round,this time of year it seems to be more on the forefront. There is nothing like a warm fire and Christmas carols playing while you decorate your house,and the fun of picking out the right Christmas cards to send. I love wishing folks a "Merry Christmas"-to me,it's about wishing them happiness more than anything else. Folks can wish me "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"-to me the sentiment is the same.

One thing we do as a family each year is go to a local tree farm and get a Christmas tree. Some years we haven't had money to buy a tree and have gone out to the woods to get a tree. We have been fortunate the last few years that we can buy a tree from a farm. It costs a bit more than getting one from a box store,but I like supporting local folks and I know that the trees aren't a few months old. The family that runs this tree farm has been farmers in the area for over 200 years.

It was Richie's first Christmas Tree excursion!

We get some hot chocolate and walk around looking for the tree that will best fit in our space. It can't be too tall ( our ceilings are only 8 ft) and it can't be too wide ( it goes in a corner next to our couch). When we finally find it,we motion to the folks on on the four wheelers, and one of them rides over,cuts down the tree,puts in the trailer in the back of the four wheeler,and zips it up to the parking lot. We are usually in and out of there within half an hour.

We let the tree sit in the house for a couple of days to acclimate ,then we decorate it. Since last night and tonight we  are busy with Scout meetings,we will decorate it tomorrow night.

The weather here has turned quite chilly-down into the teens. I am thankful for the wood stove,because we don't have our furnace installed yet. Our neighbor is going to do it for us,as he used to do this for a living.We just have to wait for him to be able to do it,which is suppose to be by Sunday. No problem,we have plenty of wood!

The chickens don't seem to mind the snow too much,but I know they are not fans of real cold weather:

The ewes have no issue with the cold,rain,or snow.Their fleece is so very thick that they will stand in the rain or in the falling snow and not be bothered.

I have finally named the white sheep. I named her Lady Violet after Dame Maggie Smith's character on Downton Abbey. She has her attitude,is very ladylike and does things her way. I haven't come up with a good name for the other one,though. She is tomboyish and shy.

We spend time in the pen with them to help them get used to us. Yesterday we were putting more straw down for their bedding. They pack it down,and we add a bit more so they will have a good bed under them to help keep them warm. We muck out the areas of poop if it's really bad and put it in our compost pile,and make sure they have feed hay and fresh water each day.

One of the ways we try and get them used to us is get them to eat out of our hand. Lady Violet is more brave than her sister:

In the outdoor enclosed area,we do throw down a bit straw and put out some feed hay so they can eat outside.

We have certainly seen their flock mentality in action. If one bolts from us,the other bolts from us. They stick together. The one thing I haven't heard is them talk. No bleating so far. I have spoken  and have bleated to them,but they have not responded yet. Maybe it will just take some time.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow and Sheep

We had a lovely Thanksgiving.My brother Dennis and his wife Lynette came out from Wisconsin for a visit,so I was able to spend time with them on Thanksgiving day.

Today we are having a bit of snow. We are scheduled to 2"-4",with maybe a touch of freezing rain later in the day. It sure feel good to have the wood stove going today! We are finally going to get our new furnace installed this week. We burn K1,because our tank is outside,and while wood is our main source,we do like to have a back up source to run during the night. when the temperatures get really bitter. We use it a little as possible because K1 is more expensive than regular oil,and I hate using it,anyway.

Barn news: we haven't moved much further than my last update. Our weather turned colder than normal,and the dirt piles froze,then we had rain,which defrosted the dirt but made it heavy to lift because of the rain. Rick had managed to fill the holes to where they sonitubes should be stable,and he hopes to at least get the holes filled the rest of the way and the foundation beam in,but I don't think it's going to even get to that point. I have tried to explain that to him,but he is determined to do what he can. Now that we have snow on the ground and the temperatures are going to be quite cold this week, think any barn building will have to be postponed until Spring. I knew we had started late,and it probably wouldn't get far,but the way Rick's brain works now it can be difficult to for him to see the reality of a situation,especially since his concept of time is not the way we see it. He has finally agreed with me,however. 

Thankfully,we do have a shelter that we can use for the sheep-the green hoop house we kept the boat in. We moved it to the back corner where we used to keep the turkeys,built a pen in it,and placed Richie's metal exercise pen against it,removing one of the panels so the when the sheep pen's door is open,they can walk out into the metal enclosed area, ,and we can get access it via the panel with the entrance door. Sheep really only need shelter,since their wool is so thick,so this works out quite well. We put plenty of hay and straw down for their bedding,and put their feed hey on the outside of their pen,so when they are inside they can just reach through the slots and eat the hay without wasting it.

We picked the girls up the Saturday after Thanksgiving,and we built a temporary crate to haul them back in. They bleated a bit,but really didn't seem to mind. It took a bit trying to get them from the crate across the yard into their pen. The black one is a bit shy,and we had one person at the head,and one pushing lightly on her bottom. The white one was much easier,as she could smell where the black one went,so she was quite eager to be reunited!

This is what the pen looked like before we placed the metal fenced in area against it.

This is the white sheep. She is larger of the two,and is a bit more inquisitive and outgoing. She is also a bit more dainty,and never has hay all over her face.

This is the smaller one,who is mostly black but some great variations in her wool. She is more shy of the two,and as you can see,she tends to be a bit messy. I think of her as the tomboy.

They seem to have settled in nicely. When Rick goes out to check on their food and water,he usually has music playing from is Ipod,and the white one comes running up to the front of the fence,so we know she likes music. She checks me out as well,but is still a bit reserved. The black faced one tends to stay behind.It will take a while for them to get used to us,so we go into their pen,get down to their level,hold hay out for them,and talk to them.The other day they were standing out in the rain,not a care in the world. I suppose since their wood is so thick they don't even get wet!

Time to go out and see how they are doing this morning.I wonder if I could get Santa hats on their heads for a picture....