The little Lambs are growing! If you wonder why it looks like Baarbara's wool is falling off, it's because it is. Only it's not wool. She is a hair sheep and has no wool--just hair. She grows a very thick coat of winter hair that is falling out in clumps now that the days are getting longer.
We love our little farm but it's great to get away too. A 3 hour drive and a 2500 foot hike is all it takes to access our 12 acre wood lot retreat. And the hike in is downhill both ways! Sled in and sled out.
Kalwall and with a floor that's just 50 square feet--so no permit needed. The wood stove keeps it quite warm and with the sleeping loft overhead there really is enough room. It's amazing what you can do with free stuff.
The composting toilet has 3 glass walls with fabulous views. the hot tub can be seen in the foreground (an old cast iron tub with a fire pit beneath it)
A single solar panel and a truck battery provide power for a string of lights and a TV/DVD player for watching a movie from the local library.
The sledding was epic this particular weekend.
Trekking out to check on the spring.
It's a bit of a hike through the hardwood.
YAY! running water.
The best water ever!
And then back to the Hot house and more sledding, more relaxing, more conversation without daily live on the farm interruptions. Peace and quite except for the occasional snowmobile and the coyotes. If the wind is right we can hear the guardian dog keeping the predators away at the farm down the road.
Merry Dog wrapped in a wool sweater and hat sits by the fire warming up after she was rescued from an unplanned dip in the icy pond.
This is one of the treasures we found in the cabin, along with the antique Mr. Potato-head, a deed from the 1800's and oh so much junk! it's great for warm up breaks while we work to clear out the cabin and insulate the floor before installing the new wood stove. We had hauled out the insulation on a sled for the job that day.
This is the hole that opened up from the current of the brook swelled with rain and melt off during our extreme and prolonged January Thaw this year. The hole that Merry dog got too close to. Though the water is only about 4 - 4 1/2 feet deep she could not get purchase enough to haul herself out and within 4 minutes had lost the ability to get her front legs up on the ice and was finding it hard just to tread water. The man had found a rope and I grabbed a 5 foot plastic sled with the 4 pieces of 2" x 8' rigid Styrofoam insulation still strapped on, shed my coat and vest, tied the rope around my waste and laying on the insulation used my hands to propel me to the hole. I didn't think this big tall dog could really be in trouble in shallow water. I changed my mind fast when she started giving up and sinking lower in the icy water. Once I reached her I realized I could not pull her out by her collar--it comes off over her head--so I just grabbed two big hand fulls of her hair and skin and attempted to pull her up, yelling back to the man, "PULL US OUT! PULL US OUT" suddenly there is slack on the rope and because I have already begun to lift I am pulled over the edge of the ice nearly on top of Merry Dog, I relax my grip and she was sinking once more. I yelled desperately then "PULL! PULL US OUT NOW!!" and very shortly, but what seemed like a rather long delay sled, Merry, and me are whisked backwards onto safe ice. When the old rotted rope failed the man had then crawled out and grabbed the foam insulation and hauled for all he was worth. Merry dog leaped to her feet and dashed off for the island. She just ran full tilt boogie round and round the island for about 5 minutes then shaking and rolling with great enthusiasm in an attempt to get dry and warm herself. She finally settled in near the fire and we wrapped her in a sweater. The sweater didn't quite do the trick and I thought I was going to have to make the 1/2 mile trek to the car to take her home when the Man offered up his down vest. I wasn't sure it would fit around the 97 pound Saint Bernard/ Belgian Malinois but after the careful folding of a front leg to shove it through the second arm hole we found it did button up and she soon stopped shivering.
Here she is later waiting near the sleds (packed with yet more junk) for me to toss the ashes from the portable fire pit out onto the ice and cover them with snow before we hit the trail. I had to take the vest off after just a few minutes on the trail as she was panting.
Merry dog slept long that night and her fur is rain pond water soft.
I have seen this before, the discolored urine in the snow. I always thought it had something to do with the dye in the grain. Last winter after the Fjords arrived who eat bark off the oak and maple trees, I wondered if it was something in the bark. This winter horses that don't eat bark and do not receive grain, are leaving orange and reddish brown urine in the snow.
The November issue of Endurance news had an article on the color of horses urine during an endurance ride. "Red Means STOP". Ken Marcella, DVM reported a number of things that can cause discolored urine. Exercise-induced Hematuria, is when an athlete's urine is found to contain some amount of blood during or just following exercise. It listed 5 causes: Traumatic (boxing, football for people) jumping, rodeo, polo, endurance, etc for horses)
Non-traumatic: due to a reduction in kidney blood flow during intense exercise when the body redirects blood to to more urgent calls of muscle heart and lungs.
Trauma to the bladder lining from flopping around during running jumping and such.
Urethral issues (more in humans).
Horses suffering from muscle damage from sprains, strains and tears, or tying up can have myoglobinuria ( urine discolored from myoglobin released from damaged muscles and cleared through the kidneys.
I discovered that persistent red urine can mean cancer, kidney stones, bladder infection, and must be treated seriously.
I started to worry, since none of my horses where engaged in any strenuous activities. But no one appears ill in any way. I thought maybe it has to do with dehydration. I now have one horse who seems upset to drink from a hole in the ice on the stock tank and is spooked away often by the sound of ice creaking or snapping suddenly. and he is the one with the brightest shocking orange colored pee I've ever seen.
So I went out and bought and installed de-icers on two of three 100 gallon stock tanks--with help from Dan--not the banging three inches of ice from the insides of them sort of help or help lugging them onto the truck- not help with stringing together several hundred feet of extension cord and carefully wrapping yards and yards of electrical tape around the connections -but help with the technically important stuff like finding the right sort of wrench to get the large plastic treaded plug from the drain holes. (I am not complaining--after all, Dan doesn't have horses I do--and I 'm quite capable too. I could probably figure out what tool to use too if I knew how to find them. My tools have "parking spots" his are never in the same place twice)
Then I watched and waited for the urine to turn healthy and yellow once again.
Two weeks, three weeks, no change! OK back to worrying.
I posted to the forum on Eastern Competitive Trail Riding Association (ECTRA) and was told by several people that urine reacts with cold and snow and changes color to orange, pink, red brown, tea colored.
I did a web search and found more of the same. I found one source that said a protein in the urine oxidizes in the cold / snow and changes color.
But I thought protein in the urine was a bad thing (?) I guess there are different proteins. .
If anyone has more information as to what protein it is I would love for you to let me know. And why is there more in the geldings urine as his pee turns orange like cool-aid and the mares do not. Theirs is more like tea colored.
And just this Saturday I witnessed the orange pee gelding and the tea colored pee mare both in the process of peeing. Both of them produced nice yellow normal pee right to the last drop! The pee was yellow in the snow! Hhhmmm.
I cleaned the shed and puttered around and about 20 minutes later walked right over the yellow pee spot in the snow, and low and behold it had changed to bright cool-aid orange. I rushed over to see the mares pee spot. It had changed to oolong tea color! Interesting! But no more worrying!
They are Red with a few white spots they were born early evening Monday night so I got to watch it all. It was so very hard to watch #2 way off in the corner trying to climb the wall, gooey sack hanging over her eyes and back, bleating intently. Momma was busy with #1 and still in labor. She made deep low sounds but the tiny thing didn't change her course up the wall in the corner 10 feet away! I had to leave after 20 minutes of that. I didn't dare intervene and I knew it was not a desperate situation till after an hour or so. I came back in 30 minutes and she was with Momma and sister getting cleaned up and finding her first milk. #3 (the little ram) came 2 hours later. I would check on them several times until I saw the After-birth had passed and the little ones had found the warm bed under the heat lamp, then I slept.
They started hopping about and frolicking at less than 48 hours old!
This is the driveway paddleway to our newly acquired Island paradise.
It's very secluded with wildlife Management area on one side and a single owner on the other side of this ~mile long rather river like pond of shallow waters. Besides our little cabin there is one other home on the pond.
Nearly all the banks are nicely sloped. I think it adds to the quite on the pond. It's seems as though the sounds of civilization flow by over our heads and we are undisturbed. It should mean some excellent sledding this winter and I do not mean the motorized version. Although the trees are rather dense in these photos there are some spots that have a more welcoming feel for navigating in the plastic sled.
The landing. this is the inlet end of the pond which is also the shallowest. there is a tree down over the water as the inlet narrows quite a ways upstream (left in the photo) blocking passage by kayak. It is kind of interesting that the inlet is a brook which runs very close to Red Pony Farm.
We spent a lovely fall afternoon on our new Island recently. We just discovered the pond and the island a few weeks ago when I noticed the property was listed on the tax sale on our town webpage. The day before the deadline we discovered the tiny Island actually had a cabin on it. A cabin that was put together with love to last a while. We really wanted to know the stories of this little paradise. We really wanted to own it. But was it likely to have many suitors? Was the bidding going to be high? Were we the only hippy farmers who would be remotely interested? We decided to just leave it to the universe. We needed 20% of the total bid to submit to the the town the next day. We counted our cash and found it to be 20% of a number that was higher than the minimum required and went for it. And we won.
Bessy arrived Saturday from the farm in Paris ME. She is caked in mud but otherwise fine. She weighs just 400 pounds apparently. I would have guessed 300 tops. But what do I know? She stood and stared during our visits for two days and only ate / drank when alone. Raych attempted to get her used to people companions by making herself small. She was able to get a few nose pats in. This morning Bessy is much less tense. She is eating more and drinking more. She was curious about the muck bucket and fork and came right over and sniffed them. I told her she will be amazed at what a great back-scratcher the plastic fork will make. She is not ready for that just yet. She did let me rub her neck and shoulder all through her breakfast of Opti-Calf grain. I was glad to see that she is not depressed today; this I judged when I brought the bucket of fresh water in and she kicked up her heels as she skittered off to the back of the stall. It seemed a lot like frolicking to me. Once she is halter broke she can go out and meet the sheep and run and play during her days. If there is anyone with experience introducing a calf to sheep I would love to hear your stories.
We took a trip on the Conway Scenic Railway Monday. It was an unusually gorgeous day in October for a train ride. We rode first class but spent an hour or so in the open car. There is a dome car too but that sells out a year in advance. You can see the line in the trees slanting along the slope to the right and disappearing at the back of the notch, that's the railway back to Conway.
Mr Black Jack and I think Kevin with Hairy in the back ground. They ar Katahdin/ Dorper/ Tunis.
This is Baaabara's backside. She is Katahdin and was expected to give birth in September. It's now Oct 20th and she is finally getting bigger but no babies yet. We think maybe she didn't get bred till she went in with our boys in July. Their will be baby pics --maybe for Christmas.
The ducks, Quackers and company patiently waiting for the pond to be cleaned.
Yipee! clean water!
We managed to grow some pumpkins though it took a lot of extra sprinkler time and electricity running the pump.
We are in the negotiation phase of leasing a chunk of land to a solar farm association. It's sort of scary as there are so few. I would really love to hear form someone out there in any state who has done this. I'll be updating on the progress.
We enjoyed him for 5 years, independent nocturnal barker that he was. He was so full of fun and cuddle. He loved everyone but kept his tongue to himself (unlike Merry Dog).
then one day he got a limp in his left front leg. He had the form of cancer that eats away at bone and metastasizes rather quickly. He was less than 2 months from little limp to high doses of two painkillers was not allowing weight bearing.
We buried him next to the oak sisters not far from the fire pit where we gather on summer evenings.
Merry Dog greeting Av when he came home from an long day at Clinic.
One of their last nights together.
It's been really great getting to know Merry Dog as an only dog. One of the best discoveries is that we could tell her not to eat the chickens and ducks and she just stopped. That had never worked when she was 1/2 of the Av / Merry team.
She doesn't harass the sheep either. We were very amused to discover that she jumps over the three foot wire mesh fence with the electric rope topper (which is off on most fences this summer) wherever it she likes--mostly if she find me on the other side of it--or to examine the compost heap. I guess the only reason she ever stayed on the inside of it was because Av didn't go over it. But she doesn't ever want to go anywhere without one of us anymore! It's great to be able to leave the gate on the driveway open now!
. . .and it makes me a bit sad. She worked hard all the time I knew her to reduce calories, eliminate fats and cholesterol and get enough exercise. She had quadruple bi-pass surgery before she was 55 and died of a massive heart attach 9 years later. It never occurred to her or us or her doctor that she may have been doing it wrong. We had all so completely bought into the Diet -heart hypothesis that we believed it had to be something in her genes. But as I am discovering the whole story through several books I have read and am reading this year I understand how hypothesis can become Dogma and how a whole nation can change it's way of eating based on misinformation and fail to question any of it in the face of increasing levels nation wide ill-health. But rather than get angry I feel the best response is to be be grateful and to spread the word. Here are a few facts that will change your life.
Eating Fat will NOT make us fat.
Eating cholesterol will not increase your risk of heart disease, but may well protect your brain from Alzheimer's.
The process or metabolizing Carbohydrates results in stored energy within our tissues that we experience as body fat.
We do not get bigger because we are eating more--we are eating more because we are getting bigger: Mass demands energy.
Counting calories is a nonsensical method for body weight control.
Some Doctors are starting to refer to Alzheimer's as Type 3 Diabetes.
I am not going to try and convince you to take up a new way of being. I simply want to let you know that there is some amazing information out there that some of you who may have built a frustrated way of life around misinformation ( calories in - calories burned = body mass or balanced healthy diet means including more carbohydrates than fat) will find life saving. You like me may be beyond thrilled to realize the health and body size you want while enjoying the satiation you can only experience on a diet containing adequate Fat.
Is it a guarantee that because I feel great and my body is shrinking on my new 65% of calories from fat (Saturated and monounsaturated) that I will not die of a heart attach? No absolutely not, but I am 55 and feeling 'leaps and bounds' better than I have in 15 years and I am willing to take the bet that going back to my grandmothers cook book and eating things soak in bacon fat and lard and rich cream while tossing out the bread, cereal, pasta, (which I actually ate very little of anyway in the last 5 years) corn chips, (Guacamole and salsa are great on salads too) sweet desserts more than occasionally, (which I am surprised to find I don't even miss) and a few of the many baskets of fruit I used to consume each month won't hurt a bit and it sure does taste great! OK I admit I will not give up local fresh corn on the cob during the month of September in Maine! But in a few small doses and dripping with real butter it doesn't seem to matter a whole lot. I have to say that beer is the hardest Carb to avoid--but Wine and cider are good substitutes most of the time.
So in case you are curious and what to learn SO much more here are a couple links:
She is Hereford / Angus. She will be weaned in October (by the current owner) and Delivered to Red Pony Farm in November. She will be tamed over winter (by us) and she will not hurt anyone. She will be turned out to graze on the little farm for the grass growing season 2017. She will be processed when the grass stops growing. This is the plan.
The 2016 lambs arrived at RPF Sunday. They will remain in the barn for a few days. We will let them out on the pasture when someone is around all day to see that they don't climb the fence or squeeze between the rungs of the gates. They are bigger than the Southdown we had last year for sure. They came from Callahan Farm in Northfield VT.
They will live a very happy 4 -ish months with us before being sold as naturally raised mostly grass fed (some grain) lamb.
I neglected to take a photo of the steer we had on the farm for several weeks this spring. He was ~600 pounds of attitude who was reported to be "semi-halter broke". He was about a year old and the last of a local small herd dispersal, and his price tag was less than a dollar a pound. He was Angus / Shorthorn/ Gelbvieh. He was black with a white jaw that the gal who delivered him said made him look just like the Joker. I should have known then what I was in for as she left wishing me luck with this one.
My experience with Bovine is limited. Betsy aka Holy Cow, who I planned to keep as a pet to produce edible offspring--but who kept producing salable heifers, her daughter Ghirardelli, her next daughter Gracie who I didn't get a picture of and who I traded for a bull calf named Echo who died unexpectedly--thus ending my first raising beef experience. Anyway Betsy had been out to pasture for several years and didn't really like the idea of being contained and handled again at first. But after a week of being tied and groomed she loved the attention. I assumed the new young man would respond the same. I assumed wrong.
The one time I managed to get a halter on him and tie him off to a sturdy barn beam while he was eye deep in a bucket of sweet feed he managed to break the halter during his frantic struggle which began as soon as he realized there was something fastened on his head--sweet feed went flying and so did I. I repeated the process of distracting him with the feed the next day and got myself tossed around again before the new halter even touched his ears. I tried this each day for a week with the same outcome, he actually was getting violent earlier on with each attempt. I was going to get seriously hurt if I continued so I found a cattleman to talk to.
I was told that if the steer was coming out of a bucket of feed and coming over the bucket of feed to get to me (rather than just bumping me on his way out-of-Dodge) he was mean and likely fixin' to get meaner. I'd best leave him be for 4 weeks in the stall while graining him up good and then ship him for processing. So that is what we did. I had to give up mucking out the stall as he lost fear of my presence even with a manure fork. I had to just add shavings twice a day over the wall while he was eating. My husband likes to tell how you could smell the rubber burning when he pawed the stall mats at anyone's approach. I think he got even madder when someone called him a nice boy to try to win his affection--he wanted everyone to know he was a very bad bad bully boy! He dressed out at 495 pounds of some of the nicest beef I've ever tasted. Next year we are trying a longhorn.
We have 3 Pennsylvania pink pigs this year and I made a much larger pen for them. ~150' x 100' then the little one we kept two in last year from mid May through October which was only 12' x 35'-ish. In the small pen I did a lot of shoveling and mucking out and it still got right stinky. I have heard that letting the pigs run around in a large area will make the meat tough. But I LOVE the cleanliness of the larger pen. No mucking! This pen is soil that is so sandy we have to add water daily to the mud hole or there wouldn't be one. I like that the pigs have so much fun rooting and romping and choosing to bask in the sun or sprawl in the shade, wallow in the mud hole and coat themselves with thick black mud against the biting flies, dug a nest in the sand to lounge in, or shove themselves under the rubber mats in the run-in shed. They graze on grass and weeds. They eat Poulin Pig feed. They eat our home grown tomatoes and Squashes every day and other bits of vegetable and fruit matter from the kitchen. They get a 5 gallon bucket of spent grains once a month or so from a home brewery operation. They are getting apples from our trees in New Hampshire because the Hollis Maine trees are not producing yet. I have not needed any medicines for them. I give them a few cups of Diatomaceous earth every week instead of chemical wormers. I am enjoying the lessons and stories of raising pigs at Sugar Mountain Farm. Lots of great information there--it will prompt some changes to the way we do things next year I bet--maybe even more grazing. Maybe some yogurt.
The Princes of Maine also have Miss Raychell to come play with them when we travel. She always takes the most creative photos.
There are no more horses on the farm. The most fabulous opportunity came along for Hot Spot (the last of the horses and the one I thought might be around for a while cause he couldn't just go to anyone!) henceforth known as Hennessy--yes after the cognac. He will have the best of everything from now on--a lovely field and a sweet mare as a companion. His work load will be light and he will summer in Maine and Winter in the Carolina's. That will be much more to his liking as he was a PA boy until he was 11 and needed his heavy PJs when the temp dipped low as it does often during winter in Maine.
Here he is in his new home in western Maine taken near the end of April 2015.
At the new Old Grassy Farm (formally known as Red Pony Farm) we will focus on back yard beef, Corn Grass fermented barley and squash fed pork (no twinkies and day old bread!), grass fed grain finished lamb, and maybe chickens we'll see.
The goal is to have no critters in the barn to care for during winter, so that we can travel, and play and rest like real gentlemen farmers should --all winter.
I will tell you the story of the very bad bully boy who tastes amazing next.
As most of you know I have been through a lot of changes in the last 4 years. I have been recreating myself and exploring the possibilities: Could I own my own home as a single person? Yup. Could I create pasture and afford to keep my two horses and the cow? Well, I could turn 9 acres of forest to pasture and I could work hard enough to keep the animals--but it wasn't much fun and I wasn't much fun either. Not sustainable. I sold the cow. Still working harder than I liked. So last year I tried giving up the weekend work, I sold one of two horses and brought in two boarders. We had a cold and snowy winter. I hurt my back twice. Chipping manure from the frozen ground every day was not sustainable for me and I am not investing in the machinery to do the work. I don't find the the pleasure I get from riding is worth the work--especially when the snow comes twice a week and involves 4 hours of snow blowing and a at least 2 more shoveling.
My interests are in spending less money, working less hard, playing lots more, and traveling. So 2015 will see more vegetables growing, the horses all move out as the spring sun starts the pasture grasses growing, a beef critter move in followed by several pigs, maybe a sheep, perhaps a dozen broiler chickens along side the laying hens--all of which (except 3 of the laying hens) will be sold and or become our food (and the dogs food) before snow falls leaving us free to play all winter like happy"gentleman farmers" should!
One evening about a week ago when I brought the horses into the barn I found the Arab / Saddlebred with this big sweating patch on her rump. It was sore to the touch but no apparent injury. The temps outside were near zero F. but the frost melted shortly once in the barn but the sweating continued. I blanketed her when I turned her out next morning to protect the wet area from frost bite. I have not seem anything like it in 30 years of life with horses.
The vet examined her and she had not seen this either with no apparent injury in a horse who is turned out in her paddock alone each day. The horse received Banamine for 3 days and then Previcox for 3 days. The sweating was gone in 3 days and no longer seemed sore.
Has anyone in the blogosphere seen anything like this?