Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My granddaughter's visit

My oldest grandchild, Kate, is a third year med student, and she is doing a rotation at a clinic about 25 minutes from my farm.  She asked if she could live with me for the next three or four weeks, and I welcomed her with open arms!

We are dealing with a cat allergy, so tomorrow it is heavy duty housecleaning in the bedroom she is using.  It didn't seem to bother the first couple of nights, but it is getting worse, so hopefully the vacuum cleaner, washing machine and some elbow grease will get all traces of Holly Berry out of her room.

Kate loves to eat as much as I do.  We had open faced Reubens tonight, on homemade sourdough rye bread.  Last night it was porterhouse steaks, with salad from the garden.  Yes, there are still valiant greens making a statement in the garden, and the winter radishes will be good for at least another month.

It is so good to visit with Kate in the evenings.  She is so smart, and so thoughtful.  I am so happy that she is a confident, intelligent and caring adult.  As regular readers know, I am very interested in health issues, and it is good to bounce my ideas off her.  It seems that the medical schools are teaching things that are more in line with my beliefs, things like the Vitamin D issue.  Problem is, older doctors often do not have the time or the interest to learn the latest views on such things, and so their patients are still caught up in the old beliefs.  I am glad that things are changing, and that fat is not being quite so demonized as it was for so many years.  But still, Kate said that she read through one on-line lecture that still pushed a low fat diet - but that was dealing with overweight people who had already had a heart attack.

So Kate and I continue to bat around the whole "fat in the diet" controversy over dinner each night, as we eat our high fat meals!  LOL

Monday, November 29, 2010

You go, chickies!

Well, well, well!  Yesterday I got three pullet eggs - small, but decent sized.  So my pullets, born on June 1, are coming through.  All white eggs, so it is the Campines.  They are my little darlings, although it is nice to have a chicken that will let you pick it up without screaming!  The Buckeyes are definitely friendlier.  But still no brown eggs, so they are not laying yet.

Several of my chickens are molting.  This is NOT the time of year for such things to happen, but this crazy weather has them confused, I think.  It was near 60ยบ again today.  Nice to be able to turn on the watering system for the cows instead of dragging the hose out.

I am just so glad to have my own eggs again.  I was reduced to buying from others for a couple of weeks, but now I can have my own, with those dark yolks.  The ones I got from Leifschon are just as good as mine, plus they are entertaining, since they are from "Easter Egg" chickens, and come in several different colors.  Leifschon's chickens haven't quit laying, but she told me they have a heat lamp in their coop, and we are wondering if that has affected them.  I didn't see an egg for nearly three weeks.  I got some eggs from an Amish farmer, too, but was a little disappointed.  They are free range - I see them running around with my own eyes - but they don't have such dark yolks as mine and Leifschon's do.  Also, the yolks are very small in proportion to the whites.  Those Campines - small eggs, but BIG yolks (my favorite part).

Well, it is good to know that they are finally earning their keep, especially since I am going to have to get chicken feed again next week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crazy weather is affecting my chickens!

My chickens are molting again.  I haven't had an egg in nearly two weeks, then this afternoon, there was an egg - from the Campines.  As new layers, they were laying last November.  The weather and short days didn't bother them - I got a few eggs every day.  But this November, neither the old layers nor this year's layers have been giving me any eggs, until today, that is.

They should be all done molting, but this heat wave has them confused.  Roosters are not usually active at this time of year.  Yesterday, I saw Roscoe mounting a hen.  We have had some really weird weather in the past couple of years.  I wonder what this winter holds for us.  I hope it doesn't hold chicks hatching at this time of year.  They will be doomed!

It is supposed to be in the 60s the early part of the week, then plunging temperatures.  I must remember to get all of my hoses in during the nice weather on Monday and Tuesday.

My son and his family are coming here for Thanksgiving, and my friend Phyllis is joining us, barring lake effect snow.  For those who don't live on the east side of Lake Michigan, here is a little bit about lake effect snow.  It is quite beautiful - light, fluffy, sparkling, the stuff you see in the movies.  But it can be wicked, and it can be voluminous!  So I am hoping that the weather doesn't include snow on Thursday.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone.  Kate, my oldest granddaughter, is in her third year of medical school and is working for three weeks at a local hospital, so she and her dog Stanley are coming back up on Sunday night and will spend three weeks here at the farm.  Her sister Abby just got exciting news that she has been accepted at Indiana University for medical school next fall, so there will be a lot to talk about.  She is glad she has that behind her!

It is 5:23 and darkness is falling.  The chickens are probably already starting to roost, but there is no sense in going out there yet, because the crazy Campines will come flying back outside again if there is a little daylight evident!  The others will all be hunkered down for the night, I'm sure.  So I'll give them a half hour, then head out to button them up for the night.  I will have to teach Kate how to do some chores around here!  And Abby is the real animal lover, especially chickens, so I'm sure I will get some help with them Thursday evening.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving now, since my guess is that I will not have time to sit down to write before the big day.  I hope you all spend the day with at least one person you love - and since that must include yourself, your covered!

Friday, November 19, 2010

This is work!

I am glad that Kayla is such a fast learner.  She is scaling that learning curve at record speed!  But still, there is that small amount of training for each new product, and I have many!

Today, we added two new lip glosses to the line, one with lots of grape flavoring, another called "Buttercream" that tastes a lot like Tollhouse cookie dough, of which I am a big fan.  It is one of the few things that I really do miss from my sugarholic days.

So anyway, in addition to training, I am slogging through the paperwork involved in putting an employee on board.  It is not easy!  I have spent most of the morning reading instructions on the internet and filling out forms so that everything is in order.  I had several employees when I had my restaurant, but it has been a long time since I have had to deal with such things, and I am getting older and hold less patience for all of the details.

In addition to this, I am utilizing my free time to do some honing of my business expenses.  I will not tell you how many hours it took to set up this latest thing, but I can now swipe credit cards with my new cell phone.  I wanted to make sure it was working correctly before Saturday market.  It will make its maiden voyage tomorrow, and if all goes well, I will be able to cancel my phone line at the market - $37 a month.  I am paying $12.95 a month for the new service, and my fee per transaction drops from 80 cents to 30 cents - a very good thing.  Now if it works as well as the old land-line system, I will see a considerable savings.

There is so much to do with the holidays coming on!  Kayla and I are just barely keeping up, and there are the extra things to do like harvesting kale to blanch and freeze.  Yes, Kayla does a little of everything!  But January is my slow month, and I am hoping that we can tackle my files.  How wonderful it will be to start February (that's when the pepper seeds start going into seedling trays) with my office organized and help at hand!

I am trying not to be too optimistic about my future, but might I have a little free time next year?  I am trying very hard not to think about new projects.  My new mantra is NO NEW PROJECTS!  

Well, back to work.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shareholder's suggestion

The new cow wasn't giving much milk, after losing her calf.  I had expected to see copious amounts, but obviously she was not letting down her milk.

Karen, one of our shareholders, mother of seven and member of the La Leche League, suggested that we put her with another calf.  She asked if we had one that might nurse.  I hadn't even thought of that!  Yes, as a matter of fact, we had just weaned Romeo, our bull calf.  He and the three spring heifers were now in the maternity pen, and so I put Skipper Princess in there with all of them.  Lo and behold!  Not Romeo, but Sweetie Pie, one of the seven month old heifer calves, immediately latched on, while Skipper stood there contentedly.

The next morning, I took Skipper back out of the pen.  She was much calmer, I noticed.  She went back with the milk cows, and has milked steadily better the past few nights.  Last night she was full enough that she leaked a bit while waiting to go into the barn.

Talking about issues and listening to suggestions is a very good way to learn new things.  Thank you, Karen, for a great suggestion!  We are all benefiting from it, especially Skipper.

Friday, November 12, 2010

No calf . . .

I knew something wasn't right, called the vet several times and kept waiting a bit to see if anything would happen, per instructions.  I finally called and said, "This isn't right.  She should have had this calf by now!"

The vet came out.  I asked if my instincts were right, and he said yes.  He and Androo spent over half an hour removing a huge dead calf from her.

I am so sad.  Skipper Princess is okay, but she is searching for her calf.  It breaks my heart.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New cows

Pricey, our new Guernsey cow, is milking very well.  Production for the herd is so low!  If it wasn't for her copious milk, we would be getting only two or three quarts per share.  But she is a trouper, just freshened in September --contrary to what the sale bill said -- and should milk well throughout the winter months.

Her daughter, Skipper Princess (we didn't name them - it's that registered-Guernsey thing) was supposedly due to freshen on October 23.  Needless to say, that didn't happen.  They come in heat every 18 to 21 days, so that means that her calf should come sometime between tomorrow and Saturday, assuming she was bred on her next heat.

Androo is milking tonight, and he called to tell me that he thought she was in labor.  I went out to check her, flashlight in hand, and I do believe we will have a new calf by morning.  Perhaps not, this is just her second calf, and sometimes they move a little slower than the old girls, but for sure by Saturday the new arrival will be here!

I'll keep you posted.  :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

First snow

We had our first "sticking" snow early this year - Thursday, November 4.  I got between 3" and 4", and here it is Monday the 8th, very warm, but still some evidence of snow on north facing hills.

Thought you would enjoy some pics.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Farewell to friends . . .

Sean and Roy are moving west.  There was not enough work in this area, and I was not able to provide enough here on the farm.  There is barely enough for one person to get by, and with two more, and no outside work, Roy decided to continue on his drive back to Arizona, where he had lived before moving to Maine five years ago.

I miss the sound of Sean's happy voice calling out, "Ayn Chee!  Tashi!"  The dogs miss Sean, too.  Our cats had just started to make friends, Sean's big Maine Coon cat Puff outweighing Holly Berry about three to one!  But they had finally gotten close enough to touch noses.

I am glad I got to meet Roy and Sean.  They've called once from the road, and of course I am collecting a box of things on the dining room table that were left behind.

I know how much they both loved it here.  Too bad things didn't quite work out, but that's life.  I am glad I got to know them both.  Roy's handiwork around here will be a reminder of his presence this past month, and Sean's happy voice will echo through the house for a long time to come.