Monday, November 19, 2012

Bovine & Canine Update

Today was the day my dear cow Lariat and her calf Poblano traveled to their new home in Michigan.  The hauler dropped off the trailer last night, so we parked it inside the pasture gate and I put their evening hay and grain in the trailer to allow them to go inside and learn it wasn't scary. Nevertheless, this morning  they were pretty suspicious and were reluctant to go in despite encouraging words.
Oh, I am going to miss these two characters!  Finally, I had to put a halter on Lariat and I was able to lead her in with Cadence and Rog  herding from behind.
We closed them in the front half of the trailer. I spread straw on top of the rubber mats and added most of a bale of hay, sprinkled with grain.  It only took about ten minutes for them to decide the trailer wasn't such a bad place after all.
Poblano is too short to see out the high openings in the trailer, but  Lariat will be able to watch Minnesota and Wisconsin and Chicago go by on the way to Michigan. It is a ten hour drive to their new home, so they should be arriving in a couple hours.
It was sad to see them go, but they will be totally loved and pampered in their new home. Poblano will be the project of a 12-year-old  4-Her, so he  will learn some new tricks! Lariat may get to become a milk cow someday - a job I think she will relish. She likes to feel important.
It has been an emotional time for me, with the cows being sold and Lindy, our sweet steer being harvested last week.  Zinnia (Zinny), the new puppy, has been invaluable filling the void, drying my tears and making us laugh with her goofy antics.
She is very smart, picking up quickly on potty-training and the other rules of the farm (don't chase the cats, don't chase the chickens, don't eat the cat food, don't eat the big dogs' food, don't eat the rugs, don't eat the shoes...) All except that rule about staying off the furniture.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Little Something to Bring a Smile to Our Faces

We have a new puppy! She is a ten-week-old bundle of energy, half collie and half red border collie.
She is very sweet, follows me everywhere and lounges at my feet when I am on the computer.
I have been feeling the need for a puppy for several months. When Cadence came home she mentioned that Nutmeg is getting old and we should get a puppy that Nut can mentor before she gets any older, That clinched it! We needed a puppy. I have been  watching Craigslist and Petfinder and the local  animal shelters ever since.
A couple days ago I  saw an ad in Craigslist for a collie mix pup.  I  responded immediately - a good thing, because I was first and by the time I saw the puppies (there were two siblings) a dozen people had called. Both puppies were darling, but I decided upon the female because she seemed a bit more mellow. Both Nutmeg and Cocoa are totally ignoring her, in hopes she might go away.
She has been pretty perfect so far, especially considering  that she was taken from her family, inserted into ours with an existing hierarchy of critters, and had to experience her first snow.  She willingly goes into the crate at night and does not cry, and she has only had a few accidents in the house (my fault for  not watching closely.)
Today I bought her a dog sweater. I was kind of embarrassed to  purchase it - I am not into dressing dogs, but it has been so cold and she  only has puppy fuzz fur. She had been shivering when we went outside to do chores.
I think her name will be Zinnie - for Zinnia or Zinfandel. I have taken many photos of her, but most of them are a blur of motion, like this one.
Zinnie has to learn that chickens are not to be chased.  Today. the Buff Orpington mother hen turned around and chased her back, so maybe she will think twice next time.

This is my very first young puppy ever - all my previous dogs have been rescue dogs, adopted considerably older. I am still in the puppy honeymoon phase (so I am told) but loving every moment so far.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Dreaded Trailer

Lindyhop, last year's darling little bull calf, is now a handsome, hefty steer of about 1100 pounds.  Next week is the dreaded date, his final adventure.
I am sobbing as I write this.
Two evenings ago, our generous neighbors dropped off their sheep-hauling trailer for us to use to deliver Lindy to the processor.  We decided to set it up in the pasture for a week and start feeding Lindy in the trailer so he becomes accustomed to going inside for pleasant reasons. Then, hopefully, all we will have to do on the appointed day is  give him a yummy breakfast and he will load himself up and not be afraid.

When we first  put the trailer in the pasture all the cows went bonkers, racing around it in circles, kicking up their heels and mooing. It was very entertaining; I wish I had  had my camera!
Lindy would love to go inside and eat the hay and grain, if only Lafonda and Lariat would let him.   Tomorrow morning we will separate the other cows and only Lindy will have access to the trailer, and that is where all his food will be. I can't even bear the thought of Lindy being separated from the herd, but maybe he won't mind. Being the only boy (except for little Poblano now) he has always sort of been the odd man out. We will smother him with special attention to make up for it. And he will probably be happy to not have to budge his way in among the older diva cows to get his share of hay and grain.

This is going to be the hardest week ever.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dinner of the Day of the Dead

This is Cadence, the younger of our two intrepid, amazing daughters. Cadence has spent the past two years studying mariachi music in Mexico City, then a year studying documentary filmmaking in Prague.  Now she is home, for a while anyway, and she and just hosted a fabulous feast at our farm celebrating the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead.
Cadence spent most of the past month scrupulously cleaning the south wing of the barn, decorating and transforming it into a delightful "cafe", and planning a three course traditional Mexican meal for 36 people.  You would not believe the transformation of the barn unless you had seen it before, when it was full of farming equipment and cobwebs.
For several weeks we both worked late into the nights making papier mache masks, skulls, pinatas and tissue flowers to adorn the barn.
Part of the  Day of the Dead tradition includes creating an altar to honor a loved one who has passed on.  Cadence gathered materials for the shrine.
Cooking for the dinner began several days in advance. On the left are fried plantain strips to garnish the  cochinita pibil (roasted marinated pork wrapped in a banana leaf.) On the right are fried tortilla strips for the first course, Aztec tortilla soup. The wonderfully delicate soup has has avocados, queso fresco, cilantro, dried peppers and the crispy tortilla strips in a light tomato broth.
Candied orange peel to garnish one of the desserts, traditional flan, made with fresh farm eggs.
The day before the  party Cadence  prepared the stuffed poblano peppers for the chili rellenos. Here she is  dredging them in flour,  immersing in an egg batter and frying them. Darn, I did not get photos of the pork or turkey! Both were impressive - and local (the turkey from our farm and the pork from Hidden Streams farm.)
The first  few chili rellenos. They are served in a tomato sauce with cilantro-lime rice. I was a waiter, and serving at the party was so crazy busy I did not get photos of any of the finished dishes: Aztec tortilla soup, cochinita pibil, turkey mole guajolote, chili rellenos de queso, or the three decadent desserts: classic flan, chocolate torte, and tres leches cake.
The traditional flower of Day of the Dead is the marigold. We had lots of marigolds in the veggie garden last summer, but they do not survive frost, so many weeks ago, Cadence transplanted a dozen plants into the high tunnel greenhouse and babied them along, covering them each freezing night. We were able to pick enough surviving marigolds to make a small bouquet for each table.
On Saturday night, our humble barn became a festive dining room full of delightful guests, colorful decor, and delicious smells and  flavors.
Cadence worked feverishly behind the scenes in the summer kitchen, plating the food. She was not very inclined to smile for a photo (Rich can attest to this!) until the very end, the dessert course, when she could relax in her accomplishment.
One of the desserts, chocolate torte, with pomegranate seeds and a dab of exquisite passionfruit jam, made by Cadence's friend Javier in Columbia.
Cadence took a few minutes to explain the Day of the Dead traditions and thank everyone for coming.  The guest donations will help cover the legal costs of getting through the visa requirements to bring Cadence's  husband Israel to the U.S. from Mexico.  Then we will have a real celebration!!
Some of our wonderful guests: Katherine, Phil, Dave, Sue, Mary and Greg.
Vicki and  Richard.
Julie and Chino.
Tom, Christine, Leslie, Betsy, Hannah, and Flo.
Gael and Ray.
Laurel. Ella and Daryn. (Throughout the dinner, vintage  Mexican movies were projected on this east wall.)

I am afraid those are all the photos I took. Sorry  I missed so many of you.

We are so grateful for all of your  participation and your generous support of Cadence's ambitious endeavor!  We can't wait for Israel to get here and for all of us to finally meet him!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The past several days I have been blessed with morning glories blooming on the kitchen window ledge.
Last spring, I planted two morning glories on either side of the gate, which grew in two humongous, thriving plants on the picket fence, but with no flowers. By October (this photo was take October 3) they were  covered in buds and so close to finally blooming that for several nippy nights I wrapped them up in dozens of sheets and table cloths to protect them from frost. Still, nary a blossom. Finally I gave up on  covering them and pulled the plants out, but first I picked a couple of stems with buds and put into a glass of water. Now, in November, they are finally rewarding me with flowers.
A few mornings ago while feeding the cows, there was a bright jet stream spanning the sky over the high tunnel, creating a sort of mysterious landscape.
One evening,  after watering the  plants in the hight tunnel, I turned off the hose sprayer but forgot to turn off the hydrant at the other end of the hose. Mist sprayed out at a hose connection all night and froze into a sea-anemone-like ice sculpture in the grass.
This kind of makes me want to do something similar on purpose and make a big, crazy ice sculpture in the yard this winter!