Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pigs, chickens, and a toad

Three little piggies—Round 7

Had to do some research to remember all the pig names since 2011 when we first started as pig farmers. These might not be in order, but Rick Perry and Michele Bachman were definitely the first in 2011: Rick and Michele (politics); Steve and Eydie and Frank Sinatra (obviously musical); Fiona and Richie (Thistle and Shamrock hostess with the mostess); Alice, Nora, and Irving (an author year); Peter, Paul and Mary (more music); John and Mary (lazy namers); and, finally, a Chuck Berry theme this time: Little Queeny (front) Carol (little black one) Johnny B Goode (big red dude). Johnny and Queeny are about 2 weeks older than little Carol. Queeny got fattened up here about 2 weeks before Johnny and Carol.

Husband has been bugging me to take pics of them before they get too big (and less cute!). He couldn't wait any longer so took these pics all by himself today.

Then a pic of Husband's butterfly garden that was overrun with goldenrod, as is the rest of our property that isn't mowed. At least some of the cosmos and zinnias were able to survive the weeds, and the chickens who like to take their dirt baths in the shade underneath.

Red chicken in the front is the youngest rooster born here a few months ago. He is unloved by the rest and spends most of his day staying out of their way. Black and white roo behind him is the next youngest, and by far the noisiest rooster of the 4 we have here. He is one of the dozen we bought who were supposed to be all hens... Oh well...

Our cute little house is in the back. Don on the Hill's house is up on the hill behind our cute little house.

Last pic is a little toad who was hanging out on the front porch today. Let me get right in his face to take this pic. I wonder if he thought they were real flowers?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Apples galore!

Step 1: Pick and wash the apples.

Step 2: Slice and cook.
This one batch of apples made 10 jars of apple butter and 2 of applesauce. There are about 100 times that amount of apples left out there, and that's just on our property...

Anybody want to come up and pick?

Those little black spots don't taste bad...they just aren't pretty.

Step 3: Use the magic smusher to remove seeds and peel.

Step 4: Cook again. Add sugar and spice to make it nice.

Step 5: Put in jars and cook again.
That's the leftover juice in the back.
Not sure what I will do with that?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hammer to the rescue

Frank Hammer, bee guy, to the rescue on Saturday. It took him only a few minutes to load the swarm into a spare hive and ship them back to his place in Richfield.

The first guy we called turned us down because he was too far away...and maybe because it was a beautiful Saturday on Labor Day weekend. Then his wife called back with Frank's phone number.

Not only is Frank just a mile or 3 up the road from us, but he is also best friends with the NJ cousins that I recently discovered on the lake up here. Their lake house is right across the lane from Frank. Frank was best man (I think) at their wedding in NJ.

Thank you Frank! We are very happy to have met you!

And, speaking of those NJ cousins, we stopped by for a visit today and took their canoe out for a spin on the lake. We are thinking of buying it from them. Even though it was quite windy (whitecaps even!) we managed to take a good spin without falling in. Then, to make up for our successful canoe run, I walked right through their screen door coming back out of the house. I think that was even more embarrassing than if we had fallen in the lake. We could have blamed that on the wind, and the fact that we probably haven't been in a canoe for 10 or 15 years.

Oh well. Sorry about the screen door Donna and Steve! I hope the little bit of crabby mac and cheese I gave you will make up for it!

Today I am making plum butter from all those plums Don gave me. Smells REAL good!

And I might even have some good news on the NJ house, but not reporting until it becomes reality... Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Not warm but swarm!

I thought it was only wasps that swarmed in the fall, so when I saw thousands of somethings swarming just outside the back door, I thought that's what they were. And then I saw the nest!

A little investigating on Google produced some photos that look just like this nest in the little redbud tree inside the dog fence. That gave us both a little more courage to go back and take these photos.

Husband had seen a guy on Craig's List who will remove and take them to his apiary in Norwich. He's busy with a customer, but hopefully coming soon to take them to their new home!

The other excitement today, which happened just minutes before the swarming bees, was that the biggest raccoon I have ever seen killed one of our chickens. I heard the excitement but didn't go out to check because the chickens are always squawking about something, and usually it's nothing. But then Husband went out a few minutes later and there she was, poor girl. He went back to the coop to make sure there were no more dead hens, and that's when he found that big fat raccoon.

I locked him in the coop and Farmer Husband shot him. Never fun to kill critters, but if we don't he'll just come back and kill all the chickens one by one.

Too cool for summer! Had the woodstove going last night for a bit. It has been a totally crazy summer as far as the weather is concerned. Even had a light frost overnight earlier in the week. I hope the tomatoes survive...there are PLENTY of them out there!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rita and Susan

The Husband's Mom, Rita, and his sister, Susan, had a strong resemblance to each other. I will even say they had similar personalities.

Rita came to Lester's Flat for a visit a few months before she passed away, and just a few days after Rico the goat was born. We thought Rico was a girl, and we asked her if we could name him Rita. She loved the idea...but then, well, it wouldn't do to have a boy named Rita...

So the following year, after Rita had passed (we miss you!) we had a little white female goat born here that we named Rita. It was only after she was about a year old that she turned into a redhead, like her namesake.

Then, this past year we kept 2 of the 10 kids that were born here and sold the rest. Roger Ramjet was the buckling who struggled to stay alive, and another little white female that we named after Susan Sontag, the writer. It took awhile to figure it out, but guess what? Susan the goat is now a redhead as well! So she must have really been named after Tim's sister.

No offense to the humans, but I think your goats are beautiful too! Our 2 pretty redheads get along very well even if they are not mother and daughter.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar eclipse

The eclipse was a big deal around here, even though we were too far north to get the full effect.

I am linking to this article (although there are several from the newspaper where I work) because my dear friend Tara took the photo, and because it is a better version of the same one I took with my iPhone. In both photos, ignore the big sun flare, and look for the little moon slice (hers to the right, mine underneath) which is actually a slice of the sun blotted out by the moon.

The next 2 photos were of Libby and me experimenting with a hole punched through a lunch container.

All the buzz around town.

It was mighty difficult not to look up while it was going on, but I am a believer in the media reports which warned not to look with bare eyes.

Let that be a lesson to you, POTUS. Not all media is fake. Seriously? You would risk your eyesight? I just don't know what to say about that...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cats, wildflowers, eggs

After much coaxing by Evie, the cat boys Willie and Monkey came out to meet her. This is a first for both of them, who always hide when visitors are here. They even came down on the stairs for a peek and a pet from Brian the next day. I don't imagine they will remember their bravery next time someone shows up, but it is a small bit of progress.

Where I walk the dogs across the street by the horse farm the wildflowers are coming in like crazy. It is near impossible to get a good pic with my iPhone when there is a dog on the leash. Another filly was born late yesterday according to Susan, but the little one hasn't come out to meet us just yet. Cyrus enjoys meeting the little ones nose-to-nose. Woody just barks at the strange creatures on the other side of the fence.

And, a final photo from the visiting photographer—2 of our fresh eggs for her breakfast. The composition is perfect, just like the eggs.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Up on the hill

I frequently take the boys up on the hill for a run at Don's house. He is far enough from the road and from our chickens that I don't have to worry about the dogs getting into trouble. Of course they still do...

Since B&E are still here on their visit from NJ, E&I went together today. Mr P&B (his brother) had my car so we had to try to fit the dogs in the too small back of the truck. Cyrus sat in Evie's lap for the short ride, Woody barked like he always does in the back.

Clouds made it not quite as hot, few raindrops here and there, but otherwise much fun was had by all. Until I realized that I lost the truck key out of the hole in my back pocket. Retraced my steps around Don's long trail through the woods/weeds, and found it on my second go-round. Duh! Don't put keys in holey pocket...lesson learned...

Bandit (Don's dog) on the left, Cyrus all black and hard to see on the right, Woody all white in the background waiting for me to let him in Don's house to lick the chicken-cooking bowl.

That's my boy!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Our favorite visiting photographer was here again!

A fisheyed Roger Ramjet and Johnny Cash
Thank you Sarah for taking these cool photos of the elusive goats, and the even more elusive Farmer Tim! We hope you had a little fun in your too-short visit to Lester's Flat!
The Man in Black
Farmer Tim

Rico and Jack (and Susan with no head)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Upstate visitors: family and famous

Our beautiful niece Claire was spotted photo-bombing Jeffrey Toobin. Well, actually, I used her to hide the fact that I was taking a photo of Mr. Toobin. Claire's mom Sarah, Sarah's dad Brian (The Husband's brother) and Brian's wife Eve were all up to visit from NJ. We had a lovely dinner at the Blue Mingo, otherwise known as the Spider Mingo from the last time Claire was there with her sister and was forced to sit on the deck, which had a large variety of spiders hanging from the ceiling. Claire was quite happy to be outside, under the umbrella, even though we had a bit of rain out there by the lake. No spiders. Just ducks.

Claire and Sarah headed back to NJ today, but B&E were lucky to join us at Fly Fest this afternoon, where we had the pleasure of seeing several performers, including Aztec Two Step, a group that everyone but Evie remembers from the 70s. Excellent performance.

Thanks go out to Bruce and Sue for putting on a great show every year! Hoping that this is the last Fly Fest at Cornfield Hall, but not the last Fly Fest!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The two best behaved dogs ever?

You would think looking at this photo from last year that I had 2 well behaved children. In reality, not so much.
Big hurt foot! Bandage not working too well...

The WoodMan, hound boy on the left, is now sporting a nice big scar on his right paw from a misadventure in the woods back in June. I have no clue what he got into (snapping turtle? trap? glass in the creek?) I just know that I heard him yelp and then bark at whatever it was before he came limping back home. I think I have finally fixed the fence in the back to keep him from escaping, only time will tell.

Big Roo with a couple of his lady friends
And just when he finally appears to be a good boy running loose up at Don's house, he comes up with a new game: bring back really smelly dead stuff after rolling in it. Or bring back not so smelly dead stuff and then eat it.

That's my boy.

Cyrus, big black dog on the right, has pretty much stopped his messing in the house after 2-and-a-half years with us. I say pretty much because there is still an occasional got-too-excited-about-something precious pee, but the one issue we can not seem to correct is the getting too excited about things. He still wakes me almost every morning when he sees a deer, or a groundhog, or a cute little bunny, or any other living creature within view of our many windows.

He hasn't killed any chickens lately, but only because he is limited to leash walking down here. Although we seem to be making progress with the "No chickens" command, I bet that if that leash wasn't on he would murder all of them.

That's my boy.

Not much to report on the rest of the "farm animals" other than that it is a relief to only have 9 goats, instead of 20, and that 26 chickens are no more trouble than just a few. One of the teenagers is definitely a rooster—just in the last few days working out his cock-a-doodle-doo—and one of the 2 chicks is probably a rooster as well. While 4 roosters is not the preferred number, as long as they can get along with Big Roo, they get to stay here at Lester's Flat.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Uncle Al

As I said in my last post, it is quite the coincidence that I found some NJ cousins up here on Canadarago Lake, just about 2 miles from our property in Schuyler Lake (former name of the same lake).

Diane, one of my cousins, gave me this large photo of the Keenan side of the family in 1951. Mary Keenan, on the right on the couch, is my Irish grandmother's sister. Her husband Hugh (standing, right) I think we used to call Uncle Huey, but that was so many years ago.

Far left is Uncle Al, who married one of Hugh's sisters, Ella, seated with the dog in her lap. This photo taken at their home in Orange, NJ. Are ya still with me? Here's the tricky part, the second coincidence. When my grandmother was in her 90s, she started dating Uncle Al. Ella had passed years before. He even proposed to her, although she turned him down. He was either an antiques dealer, or just a collector, and he gave her many gifts. She passed a few of them along to me. And there it is, over Al's shoulder, the framed needlepoint Grandma gave me a long time ago.

I can see that I have hung it incorrectly. Not sure if I will make it historically correct...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Truck Pull, Found Cousins, and Goat Friday part 2

Always fun to be invited to the Schuyler Lake Truck Pull. Great place to see neighbors, and even sometimes relatives. It takes weeks of preparation, lots of money and lots of hard work to prepare for this event, which benefits the Schuyler Lake Fire Department. At least we have finally seen some sunny weather, and a large crowd showed up to watch.

But seriously folks, what is the big draw? The noise started at 7 am, and they are still going strong out there at 3:30 pm. There are different classes to compete in, big trucks, not so big trucks, diesel, not diesel—ALL very noisy and spewing exhaust while they pull a weighted platform as far as possible. Just a good reason to sit around and chew the fat and wash it down with beer... I guess...

As for the relatives: Hub's Cousin Chris was at the last one we attended, didn't see him this time. And some of my cousins from NJ were there this morning before we showed up. We just found each other on facebook about a year ago when I saw a pic of Debbie on a paddle board on Canadarago Lake. there aren't 2 Canadarago Lakes in the world... What a coincidence!

Got to hang out with them lakeside yesterday. Nice to see them all again!

And finally:

Goat Friday - Chapter 2
In spite of flash flood warnings and lousy weather in general, Goat Lady Karen and I made the trip to Boonville to sell our goats. Karen did extremely well with navigating truck and trailer that she was not sure how to back up. Luckily we didn't have to.

First pic is Rika and Zena in the new barn with new friends (who you can't really see in the foreground). Second pic is a close-up of my girls looking confused as to what just happened. "Our whole world has just changed! Is this a good thing?"

Once they get over the shock of being taken from Lester's Flat, their kids, and the goats they know well, I think they will adjust well to their new life with Judy, the new Goat Lady, and the new goats they don't know well at all. Her barn is certainly more serious than ours, and eventually they will have a whole pasture full of weeds to tackle, as soon as she can finish the fencing.

Good luck, my good girls. We miss you!

And the ending of Goat Friday was a trip for little Roger to get banded. Hub had to make the trip without me, I didn't get back from Boonville in time... Darn!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Goat Friday

Chapter 1
The beginning of Goat Friday is going smoothly. We are selling 2 more goats, Joseph's Rika and Zena. That will leave us with 5 females and 4 males, and we will sell no more until next year.

The Husband and I just dropped off the girls at our friend Karen's house. She is the Goat Lady who sold us Lucille, Helen and Jack, our first goats. Rika and Zena will stay in her trailer until she loads the 11 goats she is selling to Judy, a woman who is starting a goat dairy in Boonville, NY.

We expect to leave around noon with all 13 towed in the trailer behind Karen's pick-up. Thankfully none will be making this 1-and-a-half hour trip in the back of the Kia, which is how they made their way to Karen's.

When we get back from Boonville, we will take Roger Ramjet to our other Goat Lady friend, June, to be castrated (poor guy!). Believe it or not, not an awful procedure, but I won't share the details. That is the only way we can keep him, and as I mentioned before, he is definitely a keeper!

The eagle was spotted on the way to Karen's, and on the way back when Hub took these photos. I am thinking this is a good omen for Goat Friday.