Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

On going to town.

Life on the Arctic Tundra continues today with wind and extremely cold temperatures. Yesterday I thought I would escape and go to town.  Aside from a terrific lunch with my friend...it didn't go as planned.

I endured what could be described as a "haircut" only in the academic sense. I ended up looking like a barbie doll after the kids took the scissors to her.  I'm not sure what I expected from a $13 cut-n-fluff from the NotSoSuperDuperCuts. But let's just say that I no longer have a pony tail.

Then I had a terrible experience in a too small dressing room involving some kind of sham fashion trend knows as "jeggings." I ended up with a bad paper cut and a very real fear that they would need to call security and use the Jaws of Life to get me out of the aforementioned "jeggings." I was, in fact, a fashion victim.

By the time I got home I was in a sorry state. Fortunately my husband knew to blurt out, "Wow! Your new haircut is really cute!" with the right amount of sincerity to ensure that I still made him dinner. The dogs looked at me confused. I feel confused without my pony tail.

Which leads me to this, my real tale about going to town. It's only because my defenses are down that I am relaying this episode of Why You Can't Take Me Anywhere.

The main reason that we had go to town last week was to get my husband's paycheck. For a lot of stupid reasons it was late. But we needed to get some supplies so we got it cashed and did our errands. The next morning The Big Man handed me a fat pile of hundred dolla billz, y'all and told me to take it to the bank. OK fine.

So I roared into town, flung open the truck door, and jumped down just in time to be blasted by a big whoosh of wind.... and I dropped everything in my hands.

Money... money flying everywhere.... Everything in my check book all over the street....

"BAH!" I screamed and tried to grab everything. But you know how it's hard to hold stuff and pick up other stuff especially when the wind is blowing everything around? It was like being in one of those money grabbing machines they have at the fair.

I had no choice but to start hopping around stomping on the money with my farmy boots. Just as soon as I got one under my dirty boot I'd snatch it up and hop around trying to get something else. Money. Receipts. Coupons. Flying all over the street.

One job. I had one job. 

Finally I had it all and walked, shamefully, into the bank with my hands full of muddy, poopy money. The teller glared at me but took the deposit.

I skulked over to the feed store. Predictably they started laughing as soon as I walked in.

"How you doin', OFG?" Asked the owner.

"Well, you know how it is, Earl." I said trying to avoid explaining just what happened.

"No. No, OFG I don't know how it is with you... ever." He smiled indicating that I should go on.

Gingerly I held out a soggy, poopy, oily, muddy hundred dolla bill by the one dry corner.

"Oh." He said. "So you've been..."

"Sh!t stompin' the benjamins. Yes, Earl, that's what I've been doing." And then I explained the whole affair.

"You know you could have always just used the drive-thru at the bank, OFG" Said Captain Obvious who was now using a paper towel to wipe off that poor hundred dolla bill.

"Yes, yes I realize that. Thank you, Earl."

I remember a while ago I read a statistic that most of the hundred dollar bills in this country have traces of drugs on them.

Not here.

Consider this a Public Service Announcement  to always wash your hands after handling money. Especially if you live in a rural area. There is no telling what fool tried to make a deposit and ended up chasing money all over the street.

And that is just another reason why you can't take me anywhere. But based on my latest misadventures in town the next time I have a reason to go off farm.. I might just stay home.

Happy Thursday everyone!  Have you been to town lately? How'd it go?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Maybe now is a good time to start a garden....

If you live in California or have friends who live there you know that the drought they are talking about is no joke. This could be shaping up to be a big year for big grocery price increases.

Strawberries. Talk about local - from my yard. Not across the country.

You can check out this clip here that shows ground beef could get to $4 a pound this year. We don't buy much a the grocery store so we don't see a lot of this. But even I was shocked at some of the prices.

So what does a regular person do? Maybe now is a good time to start a garden.

Space well used.

Over on 'the facebook' we were all laughing at a pic of a golf course with the caption, "Horse person thought #003 This is a waste of good pasture."  The truth is... I see a lot of wasted space and many times I subconsciously calculate the number of animals grazed or the amount of food that could be produced on some of these big open area. I'm not sure we have a food crisis as much as we have a "spaced used stupidly" crisis.

You might be thinking, "What's that drought got to do with me?" Well. I've been looking everywhere for the news clip from this weekend of the produce broker who was saying that sure, now we can import produce from other parts of the world... but come summer time it may not be available.  I'm not sure there will be riots in the streets if folks can't get their lima beans but everyone will feel this eventually. Prices will go up and we could be in a "good luck, suckers" situation.

Do you have crazy turkeys in your garden? I do.

How is a working family supposed to deal with that? The best thing about growing your own food is that it's like printing your own money, says Ron Finley. If you haven't seen this TED talk you really need to take 10 minutes to watch it.

Gardening is easy and fun. You don't need a huge area and every little bit helps. Aside from a five  pound bag of frozen broccoli and some lettuce we don't buy much produce at all from the store. There is nothing better than smugly walking past the heaps of imported tomatoes available for an obscene price when you know you've got armloads of them just waiting for you at home. Bell peppers 2 for $1? Who would pay that?  My freezer is full of them and my salad bar is in the upper garden.

I don't need your stinkin' peppers.

How do you get started? Now. Start planning. There are tons of good resources out there and the best way is to just get started. My favorite book is How to Grow More Vegetables... by John Jeavons It's a great book and has tons of information about how to get started and garden planning. Some people really love Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. I don't use that one because we have such a big growing area but I've used many of those methods.

The important thing is to remember that you don't need to be held hostage by the traditional food system.. in fact, you can take a step back and take part in the original traditional food system - and that is growing it yourself.

Happy Tuesday everyone - are you ready to get growing?

Editor's note: Again with the associate links to Amazon? Yep -but I really love that John Jeavons book so I don't feel bad about it. Remember if you order something thru my Amazon store,  from one of the links, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon to show your support. Thanks!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tap... tap... tap.. tap...

Guess what we did over the weekend! 

Tap set up with bucket. That little hook holds a flat sided bucket against the tree.

We were thrilled that The Winter That Won't End finally loosened it's grip. We had such a stunning weekend - it was just like heaven. Of course it won't last as the Polar Vortex is coming back this week but that one day was really just what we needed to make it thru this last winter blast.

Sap running from a newly tapped tree. Dog for scale.

And we tapped our trees.

According to my notes, last year this time I was already "cooking the M" and waiting for the DEA to bust thru my gate and take me down on a meth charge. It didn't happen and it looks like we are about two weeks behind. Saturday we got a couple gallons of sap but not much to write home about.

At first I was really nervous that we missed the whole thing. Last weekend we passed a guy working his trees - he had tons of sap! But then I found out that the Dawes Arboretum is having their Maple Syrup Madness days the first week of March. The best thing about this event is that it's FREE! What a fun thing for the family - or if you want to see if tapping trees is a project for you (it is!).

I figure that the tree experts are in the know and if they are tapping in March then we probably didn't miss all the sap running. I want to thank my pals at Terravita Farms for reporting the Dawes Arboretum Maple Syrup Madness event in the superduper Broadway + Tresher online and print magazine.

As for us, we are trying a new thing this year - using bags to collect the sap instead of buckets. Granted that our buckets really did the job - it was kind of a hassle to run out and take them up if it started raining or snowing. And we had a few bugs. Who knows what those squirrels or "whatever" were doing.

Side view of the bag set up. See the metal handle holds the bag in place and is secured to the tree by hanging it on the tap.

The big blue plastic bags are held onto the tree/tap with this kind of metal handle contraption. We just slipped them over the taps. Since that guy down the road from us set up about a dozen of these sap bags we are thinking that they are going to work out for us.

The tapping process is really easy. Find our marked-during-the-fall maple trees, grab the drill and appropriate sized bit, drill at an upward-ish angle, and tap tap tap that tap right in. Easy peasy. Set up your bucket or bag and watch the sap come flinging out of the tree.

The sap immediately started running after the hole was drilled. Dog in background.

What if it doesnt come flingin' right out of the tree? Um. I dunno. I'm guessing that the sap isn't moving - wrong time of day, not warm/cold enough, etc. Last year we had a couple of trees that didn't work at all... and then we had some real winners.

This year we had sap flinging out of 3 of the 6 trees we tapped.....And nothing yesterday from any of them - probably because it didn't freeze the nite before. Now we'll have nothing but below freezing temperatures so we might have to wait until this weather warms up to get anything. But we have a lot to learn about doing this so I don't know what makes a good vs a bad tree for tapping.

I'm still holding out hope that the Dawes Arboretum knows more than me and that their March Tapping Madness is the "right" schedule.

Happy Monday everyone! Are you tapping?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Farm Weekend

What a great weekend! The snow melted, we tapped our maple trees, and we worked on our meat chickens. More on that later - I've gotta get outside for chores. But here are a few happy snaps of some of our other goings on during this - our farm weekend.

This never gets old. Looks like we have another layer cranking up... The tiny eggs are hilarious.

I don't always have a proper petit déjeuner but when I do.... it's croissants from Dan the Baker.  And home made butter and jam

If you are on 'the facebook' you know that  had a spectacular day in town earlier in the week. We went to the North Market, had some stunning ice cream at Jeni's, and visited Dan's new retail shop. The shop was a little weird to find, but we were glad we went in. Dan provided us with some fabulous croissants - and it was fun to peek into the commercial kitchen thru the big window. I only wish I could have had some coffee as he had a really nice set up.

Pep is a little weird but her fur is just like velvet.

And Pepper was the star of our photog show yesterday. She was just beautiful sitting in the sun. Pep is our weirdest cat. You might remember her story here.

Happy Sunday everyone!  There will be more on our tree tapping tomorrow. Did you get your taps in?

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Technically the mud IS better than the snow and ice.....

But working outside yesterday was pretty much of the list because the mud made everything a big soupy mess.

We'll have a few nicer days then back to the deep freeze later in the week. But if I can, I'm going to see what I can get done outside today.

Happy Saturday everyone! Do you have your mud boots on?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cheese Making This Summer

This is going to be an epic year for cheese making. I'm already thinking about it. For a lot of reasons I didn't make a lot of cheeses last year. Sure I made a heap of fresh cheeses but none of the aged ones that I worked on two summers ago.

My found cheese from the still life the other day. It was just lovely. And delicious!

But this summer is going to be a glorious cheese making season. Deep in the way back of my storage fridge I found a cheese from two summers ago. It was one of the goudas. It took some courage... but I figured it was well aged and well waxed so I busted it open. It was amazing.

The weird thing about cheese making - especially the aged varieties - is that you never know if your hard work is going to pay off. But it did. And it worked.

My newest cheese making book - I'm excited to try it out.

My big purchase this year needs to be a cheese fridge for aging the cheeses. Altho my hubby might have a break down if I plug in one more electrical appliance (do you know we have three chest freezers?) I think it will be worth it.

One of the problems with this house is that not only is it a split level... the basement is finished. We don't have a real cellar or I'd just age the cheeses downstairs. You want to have the cheese age at about 50*.  A regular fridge is too cold - altho there are gadgets to override a regular refrigerator cooling system.  So an aging fridge is the way to go. We used a wine fridge last time and it worked really well. Until the fridge died. So I need to work on getting a new wine fridge.

In the meantime I'll also be working on my supplies. My favorite book for cheese making is 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes: From Cheddar and Brie to Butter and Yogurt. I like this book the best because the instructions are clear, she provides a lot of tips and additional information in the margins, and she gives so many goat cheese recipes.

I started with Ricki Carroll's bookand while I liked it... her instructions always seemed a bit loosey-goosey to me. Getting started with cheese making seems intimidating and I never felt like I was doing it "right" with her instructions.

But what I eventually learned is that even if you don't do it "right" you generally end up with cheese. And if it fails you just throw the whole mess out to the chickens and try again.

Aside from having the right tools, cheese making isn't that hard. It requires a a huge stainless steel pot and lot of stirring sometimes.... but you just follow a recipe step by step. Think of the most complicated meal you've ever made. Cheese making is easier than that. Just follow the instructions and make sure you have enough time to complete the steps and the right tools to handle the job.

Happy Thursday everyone! Are you getting your cheese making supplies in order?

Editor's note: Amazon affiliate links aplenty today! Yep. I'm hanging out the shingle to my Amazon store again today. THANKS to everyone who's made purchases lately. I never know who orders what so thank you to those who are helping me out. Remember, anything you buy from Amazon by clicking on these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. You can buy anything - hopefully something you need anyway. Or one of my recommendations. Thanks! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Peep Parts

Our sweet Peep was sitting in the sun the other day looking lovely..... I took pix of her Peep parts...

We always say she peeps her peep. We love her socks.

And her beautiful nose.....

Her teeth she uses to bite me with....

Her lovely Peep toes....

Those whiskers...

Our Peep is sweet but man.... she has the calico crazy down pat. Sometimes called "torti-tude".. she's got it in spades. She's got it pretty good for a kitten who was abandoned to die, was saved by The Big Man, traveled the country, then went to live in the house while her siblings became barn cats. There was that whole ordeal where she popped a toe... but she recovered from that better than I did.

I dunno about you folks but today I'm going to sit around and watch the snow melt and feel victorious. If I'm lucky sweet Peep might even come and sit with me.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Still. Life.

This morning it's about 4* and dropping. Winter rages on. Still. Life continues.

Still life. 

The weather guy is still promising we can all get back to life later this week when we have a warm up and rain, glorious rain.

There are so many things I can' wait to do once we get out from under the White Death. All I can think about is getting up in the morning, putting on shorts, pulling on my boots, and walking outside into the sunshine.

I need to...

* Shovel out the hen house
* Shovel out the turkey house - on both sides
* Shovel out the goat house
* Make some meat of those creepy meat chickens
* Slash and burn a huge patch of bramble left over from the goat's clearing project
* Plant some trees from a sale last year
* Rototill everything
* Refence the upper garden
* Mulch all the things
* Prune all the fruit trees - hard
* Work on a new path between the Square garden and the pear trees
* Add a new garden space by the turn around
* Plant miles and miles of oats and black oil sunflowers
* Get the goats working down by the pond
* Work on a new pen behind the turkey house
* Come up with somewhere to put Tommy Boy and whoever is going to be his pasture buddy
* Do something about the roof on the goose house
* Prepare for the pig invasion

To be honest the project I'm most looking forward to is the pigz. Don't worry - I still got the hate for them but all I can think about it that sweet porky goodness of meat... glorious meat. Our pork stores are dangerously low and frankly we are about out. I sure do love chicken and turkey but man... what I need right now is some good ol' meat - even if it is the other white meat. 

Why don't we just buy some? Nah? That's not our bag, baby. If we don't have it we don't eat it. I'll scrape the bottom of the freezer and see if I can find a last package of chops.... while I'm planning for three pigz this year. One will be a mid-summer, early butchering meat frenzy.

In the meantime, I'll wait another hour at least for the sun to come up, put on my snow pants, pull on my heavy duty snow boots and slog thru one more day of winter. Still. Life continues. That is for sure.

Happy Monday everyone! Any body catching a break and have some springtime? What is your list?

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Full Moon of the Raging Winter is Over!

Even the weather guys are saying that this is the Winter That Just Won't End. But thank heavens this full moon is over. With the dangerous combination of cabin fever, snow rabies, and the full moon - it has been down right ridiculous around here.

The Full Moon of the Raging Winter. Be gone!

But it's over and our hateful weather will break next week. There might even be temps into the 50*s! And rain.. lovely rain... I can't wait. We need to wash all this snow and crud off and get started with our spring.

Just in case you think it's just you imaging this has been a longer and harder winter... nope. Around here we've had some extraordinary days. Our snowfall total has been about 48" this winter - we are supposed to get about 17". Normally we have a day or two below zero - officially we've had 7.... at least. And since yesterday we've been below freezing for 11 days straight. Our normal temps should about 40*. Enough is enough!

Deb and Dahli about to....

We are gonna slog thru one more weekend with some snow then nothing but the sound of the White Death melting.. and the sap gushing from the maple trees!

...bonk each other on the head.

Oh.. all the things I'm gonna do as soon as we get out from under the frozen winter.... maybe I'll make a list...but until then...

Did everyone see this segment from the CBS morning news with Michio Kaku on the polar vortex? It was a good explanation of the wacky weather but what really caught my eye was the very last thing he said - that 2014 could be one of the hottest on record. We are taking that very seriously and are already planning what we can do now to prepare for another hotsy-totsy summer.

Happy Friday everyone! Is your snow melting yet? Are you already planning for summer?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fire Safety

Remember the other day when it snowed the entire, stinkin' day?  And it was cold too. Real cold. So cold that when I stood at the front door holding a bucket of ashes from the cold woodburning stove I thought to myself, "Maybe I'll just leave these here on the porch instead of taking two or three steps out into the frozen wasteland."

The heat from the "cold" ashes keep the snow away the whole day.

Good thing I didn't. Those ashes weren't cold. Not even a bit. This was the bucket the next day.

See how there is a ring around bucket in the snow? That wasn't there when I set this ash bucket down the day before on the gravel away from the house. There was not one flake of snow on the ashes from that all day storm. The ashes weren't cold.  You can even see the gravel underneath it.

I'm always amazed by fire and it's ability to stay alive. It's kind of shocking and horrible and amazing. It makes me think about that terrible, tragic fire on Christmas several years ago.  If I remember right one of the kids was afraid that Santa wouldn't make it down the chimney.  So the adults cleaned out the fireplace and put the ashes in a bag by the door. If only they had taken a few more steps and put them in the driveway or on a walk or something.

Around here there is almost always a house fire on the news. I keep thinking who burns their house down and how? But I guess it's pretty easy to do. Space heaters, bad judgement, and poor electrical work seem to be the culprits. We don't usually have space heaters and our electrical got a passing grade when we had this house inspected - so I think I'm going to work on my judgement and keep erring on the side of caution. 

Seeing this ash bucket - with its heat keeping the snow away - I can say I've learned this lesson. Before I just thought I knew it ...but now I really know. From now on I'm taking those two or three steps - boldly.

Happy Thursday everyone! Today should be above freezing - we might just make it out of this Ice Age!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Friends in the South - do your storm preps!

I'm watching the early news and seeing that the South is about to get smacked again.... the "worst ice storm in 20 years" will be rolling thru much of that region tonight into tomorrow. This time it looks like they are taking it seriously. It will move up the coast and be snow by the time it get to the big East Side population centers.

Ice, ice, baby... oh baby... are you ready?

If you are anywhere in that region, do you have your storm preps done?

I'm putting these links out there again so that our friends in the South can get ready for whatever rolls your way in the next 24-48 hours. I'll also include a slightly boss reminder that it's not the storm that you have to worry about - it's the aftermath. Altho if you get the 3/4 inch of ice they are predicting for some regions... oh golly. Buckle up, it's gonna be a looloo.

* This post on extreme cold weather livestock care
* Defeating the Four Horsemen of the Snowpocalypse
* Cold weather goat shufflin'
* My Storm Prep list
* The National Weather Service site - put in your zip code for current conditions, watches, and warnings. 

I guess there were a lot of hurt feelings after the last storm. Some folks thought we northerners were making fun of them for not being able to handle a little snow. Nope. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is.... we knew you were screwed. The only ones who didn't know what was going to happen appeared to be your city and state government. Nothing about that last storm - or whats coming now - was or is funny at all.

We mighta chuckled a little about your "cold temps" of just about freezing but no, nothing is funny once you get some precipitation into the mix. It's the ice that gets you every time.

The problem with ice storms is that you'll most likely lose power. Falling branches and ice heavy power lines will most likely leave you in the dark.Unfortunately with widespread damage it could be a while before the crews can get everyone back online. As in... days. A week? The problem is you just don't know. Based on the sorrowful response by the Georgia's governor during the last storm I urge our dear southern friends to please be ready to fend for yourself.

Hopefully it will all be a big nothing and everyone will wake up on Wednesday morning, look out the window, have a good laugh and get on with school and work. But if you wake up in the night without the familiar hum of the fridge or furnace... then you will be glad you did your storm preps.

I would contend that this is going to be worse than your normal - or abnormal - summer storms. The problem is that you may have to deal with the cold. And ice. So much ice.

So what do you do?
* If you haven't been to the store yet.... you might have a nasty surprise.
* Do an inventory of your fridge and pantry. Have a baking day - get some snacks made. Make sure you have some easy to fix non-refrigerated/non-cooking meals ready for action. Be sure you have a one of those old fashioned, hand held can openers.
* Get your drinking water lined up. If you don't have several cases of drinking water then fill your biggest pots and put lids on them. I fill half gallon jars. 
* Make sure you have charcoal or propane for your grill. We made bacon and eggs outside on the grill in the snow one time. It was one of our most fun memories. 
* Fill your bathtub with water before you go to bed. You'll need the water for flushing and washing. If nothing happens then add a little bleach to the water, let it set for a few minutes, then let it drain. Look at you - you have a clean tub now! Easy peasy.
* Find all your extra blankets, warm clothes, flashlights with batteries, candles, matches etc. Now. Get stuff laid out where you can find it even in the dark.
* Gas up your vehicles.
* Get some cash. Your ATM may get cleaned out and your local store may not be able to process bank or credit cards. 

If you have livestock you need to do some extra work. Make sure everyone is tucked in early and bedded down warmly. Fill as many buckets with as you can find. Do you have extra feed? What is your plan if your region is out of power for several days or a week? Your feed store will not be open. Be ready for an extended period of not being able to find supplies.

You know there's nothing I love more than a French Toast Emergency - an FTE as we say. I saw some folks who didn't understand why these items were important. Mostly it's because milk, bread, and eggs are the first things to go when people stock up...and also remember that your grocery store.. yeah that huge store... really only has about three days of supplies. Three. That's "3." Isn't that amazing? And even more amazing is that those stores get stocked by guys driving big trucks.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that those guys driving those trucks are regular people. If they can't get to work, they can't drive the trucks... and those shelves will not be filled. Even if they can get to work and they can navigate the ice covered roads filled with abandoned cars.... your store may or may not have power either. The news report I heard this morning was telling truck drivers to stay off one of the main highways. So there could already be delays. Remember this picture? How many semis can you count? Them boys weren't going anywhere either just like the rest of the folks.

The truth is that eggs are easy to make for any meal, PB&J sandwiches don't need refrigeration or a stove to make, and milk is always the first to go. And if nothing happens with this storm then you really can make french toast and have a good laugh.

The other question I heard was why did everyone need to get gas when all you could do was sit alone in your cold, dark house. The reason is that if the power is out in your region you won't be getting any gas any time soon - the gas station is also out of power and won't be open.

If you have to drive hours - or into the next state - to get supplies... you won't get there on a quarter tank of gas. After we had that "land hurricane" folks around here were out of power for days - and over a week for some. People were driving to the next state to find generators. Even if you had a generator it may not be safe - folks were getting them stolen right off their porch.

You also want a full tank of gas because I know that everyone decided that getting a power inverter was a great idea. Our power inverter really saved our bacon a couple of times. I mean that literally.

Once again, here are my links for more detailed storm preps and how-to's. If you've never paid attention to these before now is the time to familiarize yourself with how to get ready for a major weather event. Be sure to read what happened when a fast moving storm took out the power around here for a while. We got a good look at how and why you need to be able to fend for yourself.

* This post on extreme cold weather livestock care
* Defeating the Four Horsemen of the Snowpocalypse
* Cold weather goat shufflin'
* My Storm Prep list
* The National Weather Service site - put in your zip code for current conditions, watches, and warnings. 

Good luck, friends! Be sure to check in tomorrow. We'll all be waiting to hear from you.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you worried about our southern friends too? I sure am...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow Rabies

It snowed all stinkin' day yesterday. The. Whole. Day. At this point I'm sure that I have snow rabies. I'm slowly being driven out of my mind by snow.

My White Wolf, does not have snow rabies.

Having snow on the ground for this long is extremely unsusual. Normally it will snow then melt after a couple days. We won't get near melting until the end of the week - just in time for more snow.

At this point the chickens have all developed a thousand yard stare, Nibbles is curled in a corner singing nonsensical songs and muttering that she wants to go and live with Aunt Sally, and I'm stalking around the house like a caged tiger. 

Adorable little egg. We have a new layer!

The only upside at this point in the Long Winter of Doom is that we don't get in from chores until a little after 6pm. The extra day light is really helping.  The chickens are reliably producing eggs - a couple at a time. Looks like we got a new layer too.

TZ wants to become turkey and noodles. Keep it up, pal.

The extra daylight has also caused the male-folks in the barnyard to get a little nutty. About this time of year the roosters start fighting - we really need to have a butcher day. Our tom turkey, TurkZilla, may die at my hands if he actually flogs me - which he has been threatening to do... and that guy, Tommy Boy, had better watch his P's and Q's. That Demon Gander, OD, tries to kill me every time I bring them a new water bucket. He even took a run at Zander.... it's a good thing I can move fast - even in big clompy boots and snow pants. No geese died of The Black Death. Almost everyone is getting a little surly. 

My snow faces. Zero hoots for the snow. Wish it could snow all year 'round.

Of course the dogs can't get enough of the snow and all the activity. We had two deer come sniffing around down by the pond. The dogs ran them off and thought it was the best show in town.

The dogs have been hunting all kinds of things. We've been looking for bunnies down in the woods, varmints in the goat house, and everything that tunnels in the ground. Kai can hear everything that happens under the snow  - she brought me a rat that she fished out of a snow drift. Eewwwee.. I mean, good girl Kai!

Today means more cold but no more snow, but definitely more snow rage. I'm hoping the get the goats outside today for a good run around. The extra snow will provide better footing for the ice crust that is now buried.... hopefully Nibbles and her belly full of babies will be able to get around for a bit. Looks like tomorrow.... with the -5* morning temps..... everyone will be stuck inside again.

Happy Monday everyone - how is your snow rage? Anybody else got snow rabies?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dogs? Elves?

At this writing the windchill - 12* and no one is happy about it. Talk about a boring dog day - we are all going to be stuck inside. Again.

You can imagine my shock when I saw that the dogs were, in fact, elves. You LotR fans will know what I'm talking about. Nerds. All of you.. nerds. (Note: decent folks, see that the dogs are walking on the snow.)

Yesterday was bright and sunny - we got to be outside for a while. But there is so much ice that it wasn't prudent for the dogs to be out too much. We worry about someone taking a bad fall or hurting their paws. The ice over snow makes it hard to do too much outside.

Ducks. Also elves.

The ducks were the only ones who ventured out - everyone else stayed inside.

The woods are pretty tho.

With another bitter cold night I had to bring the goats from the goat yard over to the Turkey House so they could all bunk together. It went bad for Nibbles. She isn't heavy enough to break thru the ice crust so mostly it was her screaming and sliding around. She figured out to walk in everyone's hoof and foot prints tho. I was not going to carry her .... and hooking her up to Zander's new harness just didn't sound like a great idea.... altho that would have been awesome.

Me. Got no elf in me. All dwarf.

So in lieu of anything interesting happening I will leave you with this self portrait... me in the snow.

Is everyone having a boring dog day? How's the ice and snow where you are?

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Thankfully we are not one of the million or so of folks who lost power. For the most part Ohio did well with this latest snow-then-ice-then-snow event. But everything was iced over.....

We thought we were OK but then the wind picked up so we were on alert for the first part of the morning. Everything calmed down tho and we had a nice snow day by the fire.

Nicholas helped. 

We had some minor tree damage but nothing too serious. 

However, we kept the barnyard locked up. The iced over snow was just a little too ridiculous. Later in the day it got colder and even Kai and Zander had a hard time walking around in it. We also need to wait until the pine trees in the goat yard shake off that ice and spring back up where they are supposed to be.

This tree should not be dragging on the ground.

The goats love the pine needles but I keep finding sources that say it's bad for them to have too much if they are pregnant.... but then I'll find another sources that says the opposite. So for us, as always, safe is better than sorry.

I made Nibs waddle over to the goat yard the other day. She still can't be in with Dahli and Tommy Boy so keeping everyone separate....and happy.... is kind of a chore. However tonite we'll have extra cold wind temperatures again. Anything close to -10* and we shove the goats into close quarters in the Turkey House.

This frozen drop captured two pine needles.

Allegedly it will be sunny today... I hope so. We need some sunshine!

Happy iced over Thursday, everyone!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ice? Sleet? Snow? Freezing Rain?

My this time tomorrow (Wednesday) we could be blanketed in either ice, sleet, snow, or freezing rain. They don't have any idea and we are right on the line. You know what that means....storm preps!

Basically if you are on this side of the country you should be getting your storm preps ready for just about anything. Hopefully it will all be a big nothing and we can go on about our day - which is pretty much worrying about the next round of weather. Are you tired of it? Yep us too. This winter has been relentless.

I just had to see some more summer pix. Catmint is one of my favorites.

But that is no excuse for neglecting your storm preps. The last thing you want is to be cold, exhausted, and standing in a dark house.

We are well stocked with feed, bedding, and firewood. There's nothing we really need from the store and all I really need to do is get some buckets filled and get the house ready. I'll be doing laundry and making snacks later today. It seems that February is our peak time for ice storms and they are the worst.

Remember when Darla and Daisy were so little? And we had our own hay?

A couple years ago we had an ice storm that was so bad that I literally could not walk across our gravel driveway. Everything was coated in about 1/4 inch of ice. Fortunately it melted by the end of the next day... but doing chores on an ice rink is no fun.

Since we most likely will have sub-zero windchills for a couple mornings later in the week I'll be using today's above freezing temps to do some cleaning and shoveling in the outbuildings. The goats will have to move back to the Turkey House for a night at least. We are really happy with this set up...it has really worked out.

 Ahh.... and my glorious peach tree. This year nothing but success!

Hopefully you'll hear from me tomorrow with a "wow look what a big snow we had!" And not "we are out of power and stuck in a dark house." But if that happens - don't worry about us.  We'll just crank up the fire, have some pre-made snacks, and pile on the cats.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Don't get complacent and neglect your storm preps!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Three Things Your City Friends Won't Understand About Winter Weather

Last nite my favorite weather guy posted on 'the facebook' that we are looking at another round of sub-zero weather. Maybe the weather models will change....but my heart sank at the thought of it.

My sun hat, back when there was sun....

I talked to someone over the weekend who wanted me to get off farm for a while. I think it's a great idea too but there's no way I can leave now. I told them that I'd have to wait until the weather normalizes.  They didn't really understand what the big deal was.

Here are a couple things your city friends won't understand about the winter weather....

1. Your obsession with the weather. We follow the weather guys like other folks follow celebrities. Brittney? Miley? Who? Nope we are all Al Roker, Jim Cantore, and the local weather celebs. When I first moved back here someone was complaining that all the news talked about is the weather. Well, if you have to work in it then yeah - it makes a lot of difference if it will be just above freezing or if the barnyard will continue to look like the ice planet, Hoth. Most of your decisions pivot on the weather and the related working conditions. All of us instinctively can rattle off the forecast and give the current conditions without batting an eye.

Remember when it was early summer and everyone was happy?

2. Starting conversations with your farm friends with the question, "Anybody dead yet?" Farming sometimes means that success is measured in who didn't die that day. We are overjoyed that we haven't had any losses....yet. But who knows with the coming storm. Constantly worrying over your flocks can be exhausting so we all prop each other up with congratulations on keeping the barnyard alive and well even in the worst weather.

3. The countdown until spring. Decent folks may not stare at the countdown clock... but you know you have...sitting alone in a room in the fetal position and clutching your seed catalogs... you know who you are. We can't wait for spring - it can't get here soon enough. Even tho it's just a date on the calender it means a lot. However, according to my notes our last bad frost was April 21 last year so planting may not get started immediately.

And everything was beautiful and not grey and covered with dirty snow?

From where I sit here on the couch by the fire.. it seems like the countdown until spring is a long haul. But we can do this, right? RIGHT? We can do this if we all stick together..... please say that we can.... please?

Happy Monday everyone! Are you cursing the weather and wishing for spring?
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