Sunday, April 29, 2012

Everybody gets to go outside now!

Last Sunday while I was at church, The Shepherd, who had stayed home due to a cold, decided it was time to move everyone out to the pasture.

That is Makks in front - He is only three days old here, but look at how much bigger he is than the other lambs!  

The only one who really didn't like the turn of events was Little Ole - who was not quite tall enough to see over the grass - and apparently spent a fair amount of time screaming for his mommy - "Help! I'm Lost - And I might be blind -all I can see is GREEN!"  poor little fella. 

Violet with Sandy and Frosty - Sandy just gets prettier by the day.

And the neighbors have been "flocking" by to see the new babies - one lady told The Shepherd on Saturday that our lambs are the highlight of her family's spring.  

And here's himself - look at those telephone pole legs.  The Shepherd has examined him from top to bottom - can't find a white hair on him - sure hope those horns come in good!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Contemplations on Working Cats

Sometimes I feel like that old commercial - "Parents - it's now 9:00 - do you know where your children are?"  

Our kitties are farm cats - they have a job, and that is to keep the rodents and bunny units out of the garden and the barn area.  So far, they seem to be  doing a pretty darn good job of it by the carcasses that they leave laying around (although I do wish they wouldn't bring froggies into the house!!!)

I really try to make sure they are inside at night – that’s when a lot of “bad things” happen to good cats – run-ins with hungry coyotes or raccoons, fights with neighbor cats looking to enlarge their territory -   When it is rainy or cold, not so much of a problem – but these spring nights are getting to be warmer and they stay out later and later – not coming when I call.  

Often, it feels like the blood rushes from my head – my ears hiss with my distress – How I managed to keep Sinda for 21 years is a mystery to me sometimes – she spent most of one summer across the street at a neighbor’s and after I would call and call,  she would come back home, but she used to actually lie down in the middle of the road – like she was daring the cars to run over her – I’m lucky I didn’t get hit by a car that summer in my efforts to “rescue” her!  

So, I give them over to their guardian angels –(and our fenced yard to keep the dogs and coyotes out) -  and breathe a sigh of relief when I feel Gracie jump on the bed to sleep with us or hear George jump up on the TV table,  With their feral beginnings It would be cruel (and impossible) to keep them inside  - George most certainly would tear the house apart trying to get out – we learned that last summer.  Inside/outside suits them fine – me, I still worry  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's Caturday!

Hello Everybody and Everykity - It's ME, Gracie, reporting in with the Caturday report!

It rained cats and lambs this week here on the farm - there were two of the little buggers born last Caturday morning and then on Thursday, Mummy told you about the new big bruiser, Makks - Or "Marietta's MacDonald"  - is his formal name - He was born in the middle of a pouring down rainstorm.  The Shepherd kept coming back and forth from the barn and finally when the little guy was borned, Mummy went out too -  they both got VERY wet!

Mummy wanted to show you some of the pretty flowers that The Shepherd has in his collection.  This is a Magnolia tree,  it is about 10 or 12 years old, but it is only about two feet tall!  Aren't they pretty flowers? 

Here is Georgie's favorite spot to sleep in the greenhouse.  The Shepherd worries that he might get locked in there so he has to scan all of the obscure places that George likes to snooze before he can shut the greenhouse up for the night.  .

Mummy calls Bella "Miss Dirty Feet" - The Shepherd calls her "Pigpen" - ha ha ha  - they don't call ME names like that. The other night when Mummy stopped to close the gate, Bella jumped in the open car door and got muddy paw prints all over the seats in Mummy's car!  Good thing they are leather seats and the mud wiped off - not so much on the lap of Mummy's pants though.  She was not pleased.  (Mummy here - Bella has also decided that she wants to get in the shower with me in the morning! Go figure with that - so far, tho, she jumps out when I spray her feet with water)

So that's all that I, Gracie, have to tell you about - Mummy and The Shepherd went to a Farm Sale last week (they didn't sell the farm, thank god), but they did sell a whole lot of The Shepherd's sheeps furs.  And here is, as Mummy calls it, "a teaser" to show you what SHE bought -she said she felt it was her moral imperative (what ever that is) to support the other farms that were there selling things.  Sounds like a just a good reason to buy more sheeps furs to me...

Everyone have a great week!

Love, your roving reporter, Gracie 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hot off the press! (sort of...)

This was the path out to the barn this evening - It was raining like crazy when I got home from work at about 6:30 or so - No Shepherd to be found in the house, so I called his cell phone - he was out in the green house planting starts for our garden this year - "Are you ready for dinner?" I asked -

"Probably not for a while -Donna's in labor" -

About 15 minutes later, he came in for the vet's phone number - she was presenting one leg and a nose, but the other leg was no where to be found... Called the vet, left a message for a call back. - But by the time he got back out to the barn, ta da - the little guy had popped out on his own.

Well, little is a relative term here - Little Ole from last week only weighed about 4 lbs - he still probably only weighs about 5 lbs. - Tonight's lamb - 6 lbs, 3 oz.! He is bigger than Frosty & Sandy and they are almost two weeks old!

I want to call him Makks. I don't know what The Shepherd will decide.

He is less than an hour old in these photos - he is jet black -not a white hair to be found on his body.

Now what do we do?

Here's a little movie of his first dinner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I try my hand at making "Artisan Bread"

Lest you think that the cats and the sheep have completely taken over my blog - here is something completely different!

A couple of months ago, I brought home the "Real Food”magazine from our local Haggengrocery store. It's a magazine that partners up with upscale food and grocery stores with seasonal recipes and articles about local happenings. Well, it had a small article about a “new” flour brand put out by Fisher Flour Mills in Seattle (you might know them from their Fair Scones that are sold throughout the west at county and regional fairs during the summers)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Fisher mills - #1 As the daughter of a wheat farmer, I appreciate anyone who brings our product to market in a more direct manner and #2 – They are “local” – ie Pacific NW local.So when I read about their Shepherd’s Grain flour project, I really wanted to support it. The farmer’s share of a bag of flour is less than 15 cents a pound – When a group of enterprising farmers – many of their families have been farming in Eastern Washington since the late 1800’s – approached Fisher Mills about grinding this flour for them – they already had local bakeries and restaurants who were eager to get a “local” product for their baking.

Well, you really know that it’s time to put your money where your mouth is when you pick up a 5# sack of flour and it’s more than two times the cost of the “store” brand. Ouch…. But, I bought their plug for “Sustainable farming” and bit the bullet (and bought their flour).

As I said, this was primarily a flour manufactured for wholesale, and they now offer it to the retail market in pretty red & white plaid 5# bags. The bags have the “Artisan Bread” recipe on the back. You know, the one where you just mix flour, water, salt & yeast, stir it up some and ta da – a nice crusty loaf of bread pops out of the oven in less than three hours – no kneading or anything, just mix ‘er up and let ‘er rise.

Having made bread all my life (although not much recently) I have been skeptical of this recipe. But a friend from church brought some to a potluck a few months ago and it was very tasty – it was time to try it out.

Well, the first brick, I mean, loaf, from this batch, could easily have been used as a murder weapon. “What was the cause of death?” – “Blunt force trauma caused by a loaf of bread, your honor” –

But between baking the first and second loaves, I read another article in a foodie magazine that I get and allowed more time for the second loaf to rise.

And, I buttered it when it came out of the oven – so it was “crusty”, but not break your tooth crunchy. Unfortunately, my recent cold had rendered my taste buds inoperative, but The Shepherd declared it very tasty – and when would I make more?

So, this afternoon I made another batch - this time I used the recipe from the foodie magazine - used more water and less flour - definitely a "sticky" dough - too sticky to make the signature slashes on the top, (but it did taste OK) and I'm going to have to refine the flour/water ratio - The second loaf is supposed to last in the fridge for up to two weeks, so it will be OK to sit in there until next weekend when I'll have time to mess with it a little more.

I'm not going to bother with posting the recipe - there are many versions of it on the interwebs - just Google "artisan bread recipe" and you'll get about 795,000 results -

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yippee - we get to go Outside!

Friday afternoon, Violet was ready to get out of the lambing jug (and for reasons that will become apparent at the end of this blog) The Shepherd moved her and the babies to the front pasture.

The Shepherd is admiring Frosty's markings - he does have the cutest little face, don't you think?

And this one is just stunning - what a pretty little girl. It is really funny how sometimes they "just look like sheep" - and other times - the boys are very masculine looking (broad chest, heavy brow (think Worf, the Klingon from Star Trek) - and the little ewe lambs are just dainty and "pretty" -

Oh, and the reason he needed the jug "emptied out" - Vanessa had these two yesterday morning between 4 & 6 a.m. - Little Ole in front and his sister Dottie in the back.

Baby watch is on for tonight with Donna -

Don't look so stressed Vanessa - you could have had SEVEN lambs like that Finn Sheep did in Snohomish last week! Holy cow - talk about doubling your flock in one fell swoop!

Out into the big wide world. That dog is our neighbor's Tipper - waiting for her "mom and dad" to come home from work.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Caturday Report!!

Hello every body and every kitty! It's me, George, with this week's Caturday report.

Well, I must inform you that Mummy received something called a book in the mail last week and ever since, she has been totally COMPLETELY USELESS!

She does nothing but sit in a chair with this thing in her lap, turning pages - turning pages. (It was Christina Dodd's new book "Betrayal")

I just don't know what to do with her.

So, Gracie and I went outside to enjoy some of the sunny days that we've been having here in the Pacific NW.This week, I have more than sun puddles to play in - I have sun lakes, sun oceans!

One of the things that happened this week was that Mummy put that awful flea medicine on my neck! (It's for your own good sweetie) It made Bella REALLY mad and she wouldn't even look at Mummy for a couple of days - especially she wouldn't let Mummy touch her!

Anyhow, I was feeling the need of a good dust bath to help that yucky stuff along.

Mummy says sometimes when I lay in the sunlight like this she can't tell me and Gracie apart - all my browns come out.

But Gracie doesn't have soldier buttons on her tummy like I do. Oh, boy, that sand feels so good.

To end the week, here is a picture of our front gate - The Shepherd planted a lot of flowers that all came up this spring. I heard Mummy say it is very pretty to come home to.

I hope you have a good weekend. Mummy and The Shepherd are taking all of the sheeps furs to a "farm sale" tomorrow. I hope they aren't selling our farm!! (no, George, it is a sale AT a local farm where other shepherds and fiber growers are bringing their fleeces to sell to local spinners so they can increase the size of their stash)

Bye everybody, Your Roving Reporter, George

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Spring!

Happy Happy Everything!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Caturday Report!!

Hello everybody and everykitty - it's Bella here- trying to figure out what's going on in the barn with the vishus sheeps...

Mummy was supposed to show you these pictures LAST week of the sheeps and their baby bumps...

Well, she kinda didn't get around toit

And, yesterday - the baby bumps turned into baby sheeps.

The shepherd said the white one is Sandy - it's a girl and the black & white one is a little boy and his name is Frosty - because it was really frosty out last night when they were being borned.

Mummy took a movie of them eating their breakfast. I think their tails wagging is funny.

Hope you have a Happy Easter! Your roving reporter, Bella