And just like that, Lambing/Kidding season 2013 has begun.


I had suspected we were pretty close to Milkshakes’ and Adelaide’s due dates based on how large and ungainly they were becoming, so yesterday Neve and I confined them to their own pen with some shelter and went to check on them every 4 hours or so.  It was a long night, and my cold seems to have made a bit of a comeback after not getting enough sleep.

Around lunchtime I peeked out and saw Adelaide on her side with her legs stuck out – not a normal position for a goat.  I rushed down with some towels and my phone (Neve bringing up the rear) just in time to see her push out a tiny brown blob of adorable.  I didn’t even have time to call for backup.


Meet Caramel.  She’s just a little peanut, isn’t she?  Her daddy is Susan’s little LaMancha, Camembert.

Addy’s a bit reluctant in the nursing department, but she’ll at least not fight if we hold her to allow Caramel to nurse.



Tiny little ears!!!!


Both mama and baby are doing fine.  Unfortunately my camera battery died just as Cara was finding her feet and starting to hop about.



Now begins a month of crazy waiting.  I’ll be bouncing back and forth between home and helping Susan with her lambs, so be prepared for more adorable than you can handle!

Cold Cure

I’ve been down and out with a bad cold for the last several days.  It’s been adding a lot of anxiety for me because it’s kept me from getting much accomplished, and there is plenty to be done for spring (and those goat kids that look ready to be born any second).

But it’s also been nice to have a little pampering.  Everyone’s been helping to ensure I have a nice hot cup of Harney and Sons Cinnamon Spice Tea at all times.

I’ve been snacking like crazy on these super – sweet mandarin oranges I found at Trader Joe’s.


I’ve been treating myself – very occasionally since it’s not exactly cheap – to some Blenheim Hot Gingerale (by “Hot” I mean super spicy, not heated).


It’s woefully hard to come by if you don’t live in the Carolinas, but Fresh Market carries it here.  If you have a Fresh Market or you’re south of Virginia, keep an eye out.  It’s totally worth its weight in gold. The spicy kick really clears up the sinuses!

And finally, I’ve been incredibly lucky to get a whole fridge full of Susan’s Roasted Garlic Chicken Soup.


I’ve eaten this every day I’ve been sick and it has been a godsend.

Today I am feeling a whole lot better, but the weather is about the worst it can be: cold and massively rainy.  With my luck, this will be the day / night the goats decide to kid.

Cross your fingers they wait for at least somewhat better weather.

The Perfect Day for Soup

I’ve been lucky enough the last few days to spend time watching Susan and our friends Jeannie and Tanya working on a craft article for By Hand Magazine.

The spring issue is getting put together now and it has us all dreaming of spring and spring-y activities and weather.  But, the reality is that it is still winter.  And it’s been cold.

When I’ve been home off and on we’ve been doing more clearing and burning (coupled with the cold air it smells DIVINE outside) and even more dreaming of spring.  Paul ordered my seeds for my vegetable gardens for Valentine’s Day and I have been longing for some fresh – from – the -garden radishes ever since.

In the meantime we’ve been feeding ourselves with hearty fare to keep warm, and tonight I decided to make some of Susan’s French Onion Soup.

Now, the thing about this soup is that it is unbelievable.  I can’t even tell you how much I crave this soup.  I’ve made it many, many times and it never disappoints.


Usually I am short on time and I tend to skimp a bit on time where I can – I caramelize the onions a bit too fast and I don’t let it all simmer together for very long.  All just to get it on the table before it gets too late (usually because we’ve been working all day and I’ve run out of time).

Today I decided to start early and let the onions caramelize nice and slowly, over the course of more than an hour.  Once I got all the ingredients added (except the brandy/cognac) I let it simmer on low heat for another hour.  Then, as usual the french bread with gruyere were added and stuck under the broiler.

Was all the extra time worth it?

YES.  This time it wasn’t just unbelievable, it was TO DIE FOR.

I’ve linked to Susan’s original recipe above and I implore you all to make it.

You will not be sorry!


Sweet Tradition

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We look forward to this day every year for one reason: Chinese Take-Out.

When Paul and I had been married for about 3 years or so and were deciding to spend our romantic evening curled up in front of the tv with some take-out it dawned on me: we had done chinese food every Valentine’s Day since we’d been together.  Thus, a tradition was born!  We have done it every year since – this year being the 17th.

I am a big sucker for traditions, and thankfully my kids are as well.  It makes it easier to make a holiday or event special without having to go “all out”; you don’t have the stress of having to decide what you are going to do.   Everyone knows that February 14th is for dumplings, spring rolls, and stir fry, and they ask for little else.

Another tradition that we like is to buy the left over Valentine candy on clearance the day AFTER.  It’s usually 75% off, if you can find a store that still has some stock left.

For my Book Club we have a different February tradition: fondue.  It also happened accidentally – we just happened to do fondue the last two Februarys and decided we were on to something.  This year we had 3 kinds: traditional cheese fondue, chocolate, and salted caramel.

The point is that these traditions make the year that much more fun; there are little things to look forward to scattered all throughout and excuses to spend time with the people you care about.

So go! Go forge a new tradition for this often pushy and demanding holiday and find something you will look forward to the rest of the year!


The kids made paper heart garlands today.  Aren’t they sweet?

Springing Up

What do you do when the entire northeast is digging out from a nor’easter?

You make way for spring!Of course, you know I’d rather be digging out, too.  A big snow storm is a great excuse to stay by the fire and finally finish a knitting project or seven.

Sadly, instead of snow, we have our spring bulbs popping up everywhere.


It’s only February, you poor, confused little darlings.

No matter.  It’s a sign that it’s high time I take down the exterior Christmas lights and garlands.

Yes, I know.  Shut up.


It’s certainly good weather for the chickens.  There are some little bugs and bug larvae just starting to peep out of the soil and our free-rangers (actually they are escapees) love to be there to gobble them right up.  Hopefully this also means that we’ll be getting eggs again soon.  Everyone’s been on strike since December.  I’ve had to buy eggs at the grocery store for the first time in years. Thank goodness the days are getting longer again!

All of this greening up is also a sign that I need to get to work getting the rest of the brush cleared out to make way for garden space and to prevent dastardly varmints like snakes from making homes there.


Neve has been having probably too much fun helping me build burn piles.  But, if you can’t sit inside by the fire and knit, you can certainly sit out by the fire and read.  Especially if you’re paranoid about fire and you need to keep an eye on it.



I brought out my Kindle and was able to read a bit in between keeping the fire going and keeping it from getting out of control.

The good news is that two big piles have been taken care of.  The bad news is……..there is still sooooo much more to go.  And go it must.  I have to be able to get a small fence in around the goat shed and I won’t have time to keep clearing it up once March hits because….

drumroll please

At least one of our sheep is showing signs of carrying lambs!

Pellets to the Rescue!

What do you do when school has become a tad too tedious for your nine year old?

Owl pellets!


Owl pellets are Neve’s favorite school activity.  If you’ve never heard of them (brace yourself) – they are dried owl vomit.  When an owl consumes its meal of a mouse or bird or mole, it digests the soft parts and vomits back out the hard bits – the bones, fur, etc.  The vomit can then be dissected by adventurous school children to see what the owl in question ate.


Although Maddie and Emily refused to take part this year (having done it both once before) Oona was more than happy to jump in and try it out.

The girls were disappointed that none of the pellets contained evidence of a small bird, but excited for each little bone and bit of rodent that they did find.

We’ll be checking out some books about owls to round out the fun, and it’s made me think about how much I love hearing the owls that live in our woods and spend all spring and summer hooting away the evenings.


Slow Week

For some reason this week has felt never-ending.  At the same time, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much.  Maybe it’s just the winter doldrums.  It’s gone from bitter cold with a smattering of snow (enough to lightly dust the ground but melt by the next day) to sunny and in the high 50’s.  There’s talk of rain tomorrow.  Winter rain is not something I handle well.  It makes me grumpy and bitter that it should be beautiful snow; delicate, beautiful flakes of happiness to settle on branches and cover the world in a layer of fresh white.  Instead it’s rain and mud and brown and grey and cold and BLAH.

On the plus side, we actually did get those bitter cold snaps that I was hoping for.  With any luck this will keep the overgrowth of parasites and pests in check this year.


Also I should be happy that we’ve gotten some snow.  Some snow is better than no snow, right?

Plus, in between the snow and rain and the cold and the warm I have managed to get outside and take care of a few things here and there.  Which is when I discovered these:


My garlic has sprouted! All those many bulbs I planted in the fall are waking up and sending out shoots in preparation for spring.  I have already begun dreaming of my garden this year and my head is full of plans for what we’ll grow and where we’ll put the new squash bed.

But for now it is still winter, and I still need to tough it out and finish my darn sweater before it gets too warm to wear it.


One sleeve to go!

Saturday Scenes

The Best Thing happened today.

We got hay delivered.  To the field!

No more carrying huge loads down several times a day!

Not only that, but even though we got some snow today the water lines didn’t freeze!  I don’t know how I got that lucky in one day, but I’ll take it!


They were so happy to see it.  They kept their noses right up to it ALL day.



Neve has been building quite a relationship with sweet Orzo.  Jerry, however, likes to intrude on their space.


He may be just the tiniest bit jealous.


Agnes and Tilly have settled in just fine and seem content with Uncle Waldo.


Neve and Orzo were running around; Jerry wasn’t in the line of chase but overreacted anyway.  I couldn’t stop chuckling when I saw the picture.


He always whines a bit when Neve says goodbye to walk back up to the house.  Pretty soon she’ll be trying to smuggle him into her room, if I am not careful!


This snuggle-fest appears to have some photo-bombers in the back.


Creepin’.  Goat and goose style.