Saturday, February 26, 2011


Another snowy day.  Everybody is SO ready for the snow to be  over, but at least this morning's snowfall was those big, fluffy, flakes you can't  resist trying to catch on your tongue.
I refilled all the birdfeeders. The birdfeeders get so much business when ever it snows.
Based on my photos, you probably think the cows seem to do nothing but eat, and you'd be right.  I know they have to eat extra to keep warm in cold weather, but at the same time, I have been warned to not let them get too fat  before they have their calves. Lariat is due at the end of March, and her belly is getting pretty rotund. With her shaggy winter coat and sturdy shape, she makes me think of a miniature bison.
LaFonda's calf is due at the end of April, but in this shot you can see how big her belly is getting.  In two more months she will be huge!  Right after I took this picture she went frisking and kicking up her heels a little out into the snow - I bet she won't be doing that  in another month.
The cows hang out pretty close to the loafing shed when it snows.  They don't seem to like blazing new paths through the deep snow, so they rarely stray from their few well-trodden cow paths between the  feeder, the water tank, the gate and the shed.
Meanwhile inside the house, Rog sketched out a couple more garden plan ideas.
Orange and Weasel collaborated on giving Oranges's foot a bath.
More beautiful frost designs today on the one window where the insulating plastic was not stretched taut enough and got  stuck to the glass.
A different frost painting every day!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2 More Pooch Paintings

Still working on the Dog Painting Project.  I have finished a large  painting of Harley the Old English Bulldog (what a character!)
and a small painting of a darling, fluffy, little white puppy whose name and breed I don't know -- a Lhasa Apso maybe?  

Blue Sky and Sunshine!

We have a beautiful, clear blue sky today!
Although it was dismaying to get dumped on by so much snow the past few days when we were finally down to bare ground in some spots, the fresh,  clean blanket of snow is undeniably beautiful.
The Adirondack chairs look cushiony and inviting...if you are wearing a snowsuit.
The clay bread oven could be mistaken for an igloo.
Birds are everywhere, singing cheerily...sounds like an optimistic sign that spring will be coming one of these days.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February Snowstorm

We are in the midst of a  February snowstorm, with  about a foot of snow predicted by tomorrow. It has been a blustery day, and I haven't accomplished much all day other than chores, some cooking, a nap and intermittent photos of the storm, which I will now subject you to.
When I went out to do the morning chores, the snow was just beginning, with deep rumbly thunder. A thunder-snow-storm is always kind of magical.
Brown cows are so cute as they get dusted by  snow.  Reminds me of gingerbread.
The landscape of Lariat's snowy, fuzzy back.
And her snowy head.  She doesn't much like the camera looking at her up close. When the whites of her eyes show, you know she is stressing.
By the time I finished morning chores, snow was already piling up on the patio and steps. Aargh.  All last week I chiseled away at the remaining two feet of snow on the patio, snow and was able to see the patio bricks, enabling me to dream of a leisurely brunch on the patio one of these days.  What a setback.
The patio gate, leading into the snowy expanse.
Inside, the cats know how to enjoy a storm. We followed their example and took a little nap this afternoon.
In anticipation of the snowstorm, I had refilled all the bird-feeders last night.  The bird-feeders were like Grand Central Station,  with  cardinals, assorted woodpeckers, nuthatches, various finches, bluejays, chickadees  and juncos flitting from feeder to feeder constantly.  It would have been fun to have time-lapse photography of the level of seed going down throughout the day.
After our nap, it was time for evening chores. LaFonda was already patiently (or more likely impatiently) waiting for supper.
Snow and sleet and hail(!) was coming in bursts, and the brisk wind had shifted, now coming from the southeast instead of the northwest.  The best thing about the strong wind is that it is keeping the solar panels clear of snow. They'll be able to leap into action as soon as the sun comes out.
Beyond the granary arbor in the garden, the scrawny scarecrow danced in the blizzard.
This morning Rog  had a gig playing music at the Unitarian Church. I was worried about him getting home safely on the crummy roads, but happily, he didn't get stuck until reaching our driveway.  It may have been premature, because we are expected to get another 6 inches of blowing snow throughout the night, but he blew out  the driveway (and the car) this afternoon.
Then he blew out some nice paths to the chicken coop
and the barn and loafing shed.
My hero.

Salad Days

When I delivered the sprouts order to the the co-op this week, the produce manager was bundling up a box of collards for  sale and had culled a  pile of leaves that I knew would make my critters blissful. He kindly gave me the reject leaves for my animals.

The duck is always the most overjoyed to get fresh greens in winter.  She is a bit greedy and protective, chasing away any  chickens  that try to nab a leaf.
Both cows also LOVE winter greens.
The chickens are not so interested in collards, but  are very happy when I  give them the excess sprouts.  I always try to grow more  sprouts than I have orders, for good measure. Most weeks  I end up with more sprouts than than Rog and I can use, so the chickens, usually get a weekly sprout feast.
Yesterday, I cleaned out the refrigerator and decided the last of our beautiful  burgundy, gold and chioggia garden beets were getting a bit too soft to be appealing to me (why do they call it a "crisper" drawer, anyway?)  I chopped the beets into bite-sized pieces and LaFonda found them very appealing indeed.  Lariat is always hesitant to try new things, so LaFonda was happy to devour all of them before Lariat realized how tasty they are. 

Funky Little Flower Cart

At a fundraiser a few weeks ago, a fellow mentioned to me that he had a cart with two wooden wagon wheels, perhaps a pony- or ox-cart, taking up most of the space in his garage, and he wondered if maybe we'd like it on our farm.

Finally yesterday we were able to rent a little trailer with a ramp to move the cart to our farm.  The cart is not that heavy, at least when it is empty, and it steers very easily with the two handles on the end. I have concluded that it must be a European -style flower cart.  

I am so tickled with this cart! We are working to transform our granary into a little farm store & gallery this spring, and it will be perfect to set out front and fill with flowers or vegetables or pile with pumpkins and squashes in the fall.

Thanks so much for thinking of us when you decided to free up your garage, John and Carol!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Aching Farmer's Best Friend

Winter chores are pretty hard on an middle-aged, decrepit farmer's back, shoulders, elbows and wrists.  Twice a day I carry four 5-gallon buckets of water and a bale of hay. Every day I shovel manure.  Every week I haul  about  ten 50-pound  sacks of feed. Every two weeks I clean out the chicken coop.  Every month I unload a truckload  of hay and straw and stack it in the barn. Plus there is plenty of snow shoveling. Not to mention, too much time sitting at the darn computer - sitting is the worst.  My Back Buddy has been getting a good workout lately.

This  "Back Buddy,"a simple, plastic, knobby "S," has served me well for many years.  My friend John, a yoga instructor and trigger point massage therapist, advised me to get one years ago when my back was  in excruciating pain and I couldn't stand up straight. He showed me how to use it to smooth out knotty clenched up muscles, and ever since I have used it to relieve pain in my lower back, shoulders, neck, and even the bottoms of my feet.

After my chores, the trapezius muscle is a recurring pain. The curve of the  Back Buddy hooks over your shoulder and when you find the source of the clenched up muscle, you apply pressure and smooth it out. The knobs on the inside curves enable you to work on your neck, calves, feet. etc.

It's not the total solution.  A  jacuzzi or a weekly massage would be nice -- but this tool is  effective,  inexpensive and immediate.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

N'Ice Night on the Town

Rog and I do not go out very often, but  this week is Winterfest in Rochester, so the city is full of ice sculptures and special events.  On the Peace Plaza in the center of town, drinking establishments  and restaurants have carved elaborate bars out of ice and  are serving up fancy drinks in glasses made of ice. Tonight we decided to celebrate Valentines Day a couple days early and have a night on the town.
Some bartenders were dressed for the weather in oversized earmuffs.
I really wanted to try  one of the  martinis served in a crystalline ice glass. They were kind of pricey, but hey, you get to keep the glass!  Rog ordered a Cranberry  Sparkler and I ordered a Blue Goose.
You definitely needed to wear warm gloves  to drink these drinks.
I have no idea what is in a Blue Goose, but it tasted great.
We sipped our drinks shoulder to shoulder with throngs of people, as close to the heaters as we could get, and listened to the band playing from the skyway above the Peace Plaza.
Then we went to dinner at Chester's, where we ran into our friend Bob. After that, the three of us went to listen to a friend playing music at Papa Georges Taverna.  Such social animals are we! We still managed to get home by 9 p.m.  We must be getting old.

We stashed our ice martini glasses in the  car while we went to dinner so they wouldn't melt. They made it safely home to our freezer until our next special event.