Granola!

I’m beyond thrilled to introduce the newest addition to my little flock. He is a Rambouillet/BFL/Finn cross, and his name is Granola (he came with the name, and it’s adorable, so hes keeping it). He was born last spring, and he is an intact male. Meaning, of course, that once he’s feeling it, he can breed my ewes. And let me tell you, I for one assumed he’d be a bit young still to attempt any romance, but within an hour of being here, he was already making sexy faces and advances on Willoughby. She is super not interested, but Lyra and Carina won’t leave him alone.

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This post is Lyra approved!

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In The Bleak Midwinter

This seems appropriate for today’s grey, overcast stillness. It’s, as John Mayer once put it, “the kind of morning that lasts all afternoon”, where the sky remains the same dreary hue from dawn to dusk.

It is, however, above freezing today. The polar temps we’ve been experiencing have relented and given way to some balmy 40 degree days. Honestly, I’d rather keep the polar cold. It’s helpful in killing off harmful parasites and bugs that plague us all through the warmer months. On the plus side, it’s nicer when the water troughs and bottles don’t freeze immediately after they’ve been filled. The sheep have a heated bucket that keeps water liquid, but it’s rather small and requires me hauling buckets of water out rather frequently. The rabbits, unfortunately, do not have heated water bottles, and we’ve spent a great deal of time thawing them out so they always have something to drink. They are otherwise doing very well and producing an impressive amount of compost for the gardens.

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The ducks and chickens are hard-up for water, too. Mostly they drink from the stream, but as it is solid right now, they too are depending on us putting out water.

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Despite the relative quiet and lack of activity here right now, there are a couple of new faces.

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This is Scout. She is a Great Pyrenees who belongs to friends of ours who are transitioning from one home to another, and she is lodging with us while they find their new place and get settled. Though she’s used to guarding livestock and being outside, she followed me in one day and claimed the couch as her own. Most days that’s where you’ll find her.

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She does get overheated fairly easily in the house, though, and will tap on the back door in order to go lay out in the cold for awhile.

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The second new face around here is a permanent one. Meet our new farm cat, Samson.

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Samson is what you’d call “aggressively friendly”.   He’s the friendliest rodent control you’ll ever meet.

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He’s an outdoor cat, but he has a bed in the garage, as well as a sun room on the back deck ( basically, a big box with a cat door with a glass panel that faces out and gets a ton of sun. He loves it).  He is a much better solution to keeping rats away from the livestock feed than any kind of poison or trap!

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Samson accompanies me on my walks around the farm to check on things and enjoy the sites. I love the bare shapes of nature in the winter.

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Even the little waterfall in the stream is frozen solid. There were little birds skittering over the surface, but on my approach with the cat, they flew off.

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It’s an interesting state everything is in; not quite asleep (there are buds on some of my fruit trees!), but not quite ready for spring, either. We haven’t had any real snow yet, though I am still hoping for at least one good storm. Maybe we are all holding our breath a bit, waiting to see how much winter is left.

Buns of Fiber!

After years of waiting and wanting, I’ve got bunnies!

I brought home a brother and sister pair of French Angora rabbits in a color called “Chestnut Agouti” (that’s what their papers say anyway. They’re like a grey and tan).

They are the friendliest, snuggliest little buns, and the kids have named them “Gene and Louise”.

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Miss Louise. They very much like kale and carrots.

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I’m excited to plant a garden full of greens and herbs for them in the spring.

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Gene. He is super chill.  Right now I have them in a large dog crate (separated so they don’t breed!) while I await their more permanent hutch that is coming.

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I’m looking forward to having an adorable source of soft fiber. The kids are thrilled to have bunnies that love being cuddled and played with. Either way, they are a welcome farm addition, and I so hope they are happy here!

Hudson Valley Dreaming

Did everyone spend their weekend watching Season 2 of Stranger Things, or just us? It’s such a great, end-of-October show to immerse yourself in before the tricks and treats come out.

We were also lucky enough to spend time walking along the Rondout in Kingston last weekend and taking in the fall foliage.

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Miss Bindi loves walking on the Strand.

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I thought dad was perfect for this one!

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Bindi looooooves sticks, of all shapes and sizes!

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Now we are prepping for tonight’s festivities and grateful for the cooler temperatures since we’ve been back from New York. I’m excited to spend time relaxing with friends tonight while the big kids help the smaller kids fill their bags with lots of candy (they always give me their Almond Joys!!!).

I hope everyone has a safe, spooky, and fun Halloween!

Rhinebeck 2017

Another year, another Sheep & Wool festival.  Though precious little changes from year to year, it’s precisely that known-ness that brings us back. If it’s autumn, it’s time to see the familiar sights and smell the familiar smells we can only get from the Hudson Valley. The smell of woodsmoke mixed with the tang of apple cider and fried donuts on the breeze, the brightly-colored trees all around, and the sounds of baaing from the barns. We’ve come to rely on these things as part of our year, and though the weather was less than cooperative (it was far too warm out and by noon most of us had shed any and all woolens we had worked so diligently to complete in time to show off) it was still a solid success.

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Probably wins my award for best handknit at the whole damn festival.

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These honeybear hats were super cute, though.

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Look at that beautiful wheel!

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This little cutie tagged along with us for awhile. One of my oldest friends, Janet, met us at the fair and brought along a friend and her daughter.

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BFL roving that Emily bought for me. I tend to always get these same colors!

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Since I always tend toward the autumn colors, I decided to get away from that when visiting my friend Lisa Check at her Flying Goat Farm booth. Not only is she one of my favorite people, she is a dyeing dynamo. I have mad envy of her color skills!

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Finally, I grabbed a few samples of roving from Delly’s Delights, which is, amusingly enough, located just a few miles from us in Virginia.

Hopefully this will keep me happily spinning for awhile (though really I have probably 100’s of pounds of my own fleece I should work on washing, carding, and spinning!).

As we were leaving we stopped by the apple cider booth (run by a Hudson Valley orchard) and ordered some fresh cider and cider donuts. Oona wanted the cider shake, which i assumed would be like a slushy. It was actually fresh cider blended with french vanilla ice cream. It. Was. Divine.  It was like apple pie a la mode in a cup. I’m going to have to try and replicate it at home. As for the cider donuts, well. Let me just say that I’ve gotten used to the offerings here in the south, and I had forgotten just how a true cider donut is supposed to taste. I remembered once I took my first bite. If there’s one thing New York State does well, it’s apples. And Sheep Festivals.

 

Pretending (and a Recipe!)

It’s mid-October, according to the calendar. According to the weather, however…

It’s difficult to really get into feeling like it’s fall when it’s impossibly warm and muggy out, but the girls and I are doing our best.

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The persimmons are back, but I doubt we’ll get any before the squirrels take them all. I’ve also read that you’re supposed to leave them on the tree until after a good frost, but the idea of that right now is laughable.

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I’m hoping that it won’t still be crazy humid for Halloween. The older girls are old enough now to take Oona out trick-or-treating, and Jess and I plan to sit on the porch and hand out candy.  It’s be nice to not feel drenched in sweat the entire time!

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We also capped off a summer of very little egg-laying with an autumn of zero egg-laying. As tends to be the case, the last batch of straight-run chicks we got turned out to be all roosters. I let them free-range, because honestly? They’ll at least try to be protective, and I could stand to lose a few.

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Indoors, there’s been plenty of fall cooking and baking going on. Soups, stews, roasts, cakes, and cookies.

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I used my favorite cookie cutter to make Raven cookies – just regular butter cookies with black vanilla frosting and black sugar.I got mine a few years ago at King Arthur Flour, but it looks like you can still get them – or a reasonable facsimile –  on Amazon.

Sadly, I only got this one picture, and the next morning discovered that Pippa had gotten onto the counter, knocked the tupperware off and helped herself to every last one. Because of course.

The other thing we are addicted to is Susan’s Autumn Equinox Cake.

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It’s autumn in cake form!  The recipe was originally posted on the Juniper Moon Farm website, but as that is currently down, I’m re-posting it here:

Autumn Equinox Cake

Ingredients:

1 gallon apple cider

1 Cinnamon Stick

2 or 3 cloves

(Or if you buy Boiled Cider from King Arthur, you can skip these and skip the first step).

1/4 cup cinnamon sugar

1 box spice cake mix OR yellow cake mix plus 1/8 cup pumpkin pie spice

1 15 oz can pumpkin

4 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

1/3 cup greek yogurt

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Pour the entire gallon of apple cider into a large pot and add the cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer for the next hour or so. When the gallon of cider has reduced to about 2 cups, it’s done. The reduction will be syrupy, though it’ll be hard to tell until it’s cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan and “flour” it with the cinnamon sugar.

In a bowl or stand mixer, combine all of the remaining ingredients plus 1/4 of the boiled cider you just made. Mix slowly until combined, then turn to medium high for a minute or so.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake abut 50 minutes, or until done. (I start testing for doneness around 35 minutes – every oven is different!).

Remove from oven and place pan on cooling rack. Carefully pour another 1/4 cup boiled cider over the cake while it’s still hot. Wait 30 minutes for the cake to cool, and then very carefully remove it from the pan. Now pour another 1/4 cup cider over the top.

Serve with whipped cream!

 

 

Do What You Love

Currently I’m working on trying to make more time to enjoy the things I love. I’ve been spending so much time shuttling the kids to their various appointments, schools, and activities, and I haven’t had much energy left over for much else. Slowly, though, I’ve been adding back in time in my schedule to work on my knitting and spinning, to cook and bake, and to be more present in the moment when I’m checking on the flock. And you know what? I feel more energized now, and I’m even more convinced of the magical qualities of pursuing what you’re passionate about.

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I’m still struggling a bit trying to find my rhythm with the spinning wheel and getting the twist right, but I am very much enjoying the learning process.

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I’m still working through the roving I bought at Rhinebeck last year, and I’m hoping to have it used up by Rhinebeck this year (because you know I’m going to bring home more!).

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Oona and I moved the flock up to the front pen this evening. I love seeing them out there when I look out the front window.

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I’ve decided that I’ll be looking into finding a Blue-Faced Leicester ram for breeding again this fall. The kids were sad to miss out on lambing this year, and I’d really love to add some new life to the flock.

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As for the garden….we suddenly have watermelons growing again in Oona’s garden.  I doubt they will get very big, but the late-season heatwave has seriously confused the plants that haven’t died off. It’ll be interesting to see how these little guys turn out!