Friday, February 25, 2011


Just writing is taking everything I’ve got right now. I’m dead tired. It’s been a week! A good week but one that has wore me to my very core. So far 6 out of 13 goats have kid giving us 11, 5 girls and 6 boys. I slept with one on my chest last night Sofia is what we named her. She is the daughter of Sally, my first milk goat.

Sofia was born two days early. It happened when we were both gone and obviously it was a rough one because when I moved the both of them to a jug for more privacy and warmth Sofia laid down on her side and didn’t move. She was lifeless, shivering slightly and mouth luke warm. My heart sank. There was no way for me to know what was wrong. I administered all the normal things you do in a case like this and got very little to no response. I brought her in the house. Set her in the heat pad lined laundry basket and waited.

I fully expected to lose her. It happens occasionally, I understand this is part of what I do. But I really didn’t want to. I just could not give up hope. So Linda and I took turns holding her trying to breathe whatever life we could into her. About 8:30 that night she started to stir. She stood up and had a big long head to toe stretch. This was a miracle! Healthy lambs and kids stretch after waking, sick ones generally don’t. Linda held her and she started to show interest in nursing so I got a bottle ready. She ate it all!

Still very week she wanted to be held, when we would put her down she would scream and I mean scream there was nothing wrong with this girls lungs. So we held her. Not willing to put her outside quite yet, I put her in my arms and she slept with me. Yes I slept with a baby goat with me in bed. It wasnt the first and wont be the last time (I have potty pads) I got up twice to feed her. She was quiet and a pleasant bedfellow. I listened to her breathing the whole night and had my hand over her heart feeling the strong bump t bumps. In the morning she seemed like a normal goat kid. By mid morning it was time to put her out side with the rest of her sisters and brothers. I was so happy that she was healthy and strong but I felt a little sad because I had gotten used to her and I talking, well rather me talking and her squeaking in response.

Linda checked on her a few minutes ago and all is well. She’s curled up with the rest of the kids and everyone is warm. Tonight I sleep.

On a funny note, A small film crew came out today to tape an episode of ‘Cook Time with Remmi’, I was all dolled up with my hair up and mascara, clean clothes on even, and not five minutes before they arrived Dotty and Sugar were delivering yes, at the same time! Dotty needed a little help. Slimed again! I didn’t bother changing for the shoot. I did wash up real good for the record. Dotty had a beautiful spotted girl and Sugar two big beautiful boys. Linda stealthily removed the afterbirth seconds before we walked into the barn. So funny. There is a seriously gross side to farm life but we think it’s funny.

So far it’s been a quite night. No babies in the house tonight. I just finished up the cheese for the CSA drop off tomorrow and am ready for a restful sleep. There is just something so beautiful about having a little baby asleep in your arms. There is just something just so right about it. I love their smell, their breathing and their complete and utter trust in us. I’m honored.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter rest

Getting back into the swing of things has been a little difficult. Bottle feeding babies 4 times a day, milking again, waiting for the rest of the does to kid, watching for lambs. Winter resting time is over! life is springing back with force and determination and I am desperately trying to keep up with it. These days I'm nothing short of dirty. Covered in birthing fluid, J-Lube, iodine, poop, the fluorescent orange kind from the colostrum drinking kids, as well as mushroom compost sweat and dust, a few chicken feathers stuck to all that. Its nothing I get sad about but I do appreciate a nice long hot shower at the end of the day.

This is the time of year I wake the muscles up and tell them its time to work. My arms, legs, back and even feet are well aware now that this isn't a joke, they are ON! Its also the time of year that I have to face the fact that I'm not 20 any longer. Last night I woke up to take some advil and before I fell back to sleep I thought to myself; Its time to pay special attention to how I take care of myself. If I want to be doing this for a while I need to be mindful of taking care of my body and my mind. I need to remember to drink water and eat and to sometimes wait till someone can be home to help me on a project rather than to try to do it by myself and hurt my back.

Days are long, they go by too fast. The sun starts peeking out from behind the trees now at 6:36 when its light the work outside begins; We Bottle feed the kids, hay everyone, alfalfa to the sheep, feed and water the chickens, feed and water the chicks, milk the goats, feed the dogs, feed the cats, clean all the milking stuff, clean out the milk parlour. By time we finish feeding everyone I could eat a horse myself. Then one last check see if anyone is ready to lamb or kid before heading out to the greenhouse or garden. From there its one task to the next; feeding kids, Lunch break, snack break in between. Then at 4pm time to start chores again; water everyone, grain the sheep, feed the chickens and chicks, collect eggs, alfalfa to the goats, bottle feed the kids, milk the goats, filter the milk clean the milk stuff, wash the eggs, make dinner, eat and crash!
I kinda like it.
a lot!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some pics from snow storm

Now that the big snow storm is over I can finally enjoy it. Thought I would share some photos I took.
Pups had to spend a few nights inside with us during that -24

Ginger one of our guards, loves loves loves the snow.

I took this picture of myself on big red bringing out a round bale to the sheep, I believe in layering:)

Love you big red! (maya is leading me, way up ahead)

Maya helping us gather the Llamas, who are not exactly thrilled with the arrangement The greenhouses are under there!

Kali and his flock

The new flock on the block HAHAHAHA! acquired 2 days before the storm HAHAHAH!


You know this is fun and it is the best life ever but just for the record may I say in all honesty this is friking HARD!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

First kids of the season!

Yesterday around 4pm Teeny Tiny had triplets. You cant imagine my relief! Earlier in the day she was separating herself from the herd so I knew something was up. She wasn't due until today but she had dropped and I knew It would be sometime soon. She had me really worried, she looked incredibly uncomfortable and at one point was grinding her teeth which for a goat or sheep is a sign of pain. So I held her head and rubbed her cheeks and massaged her back. I went to finish some irrigation in the garden and told her I would be right back. 20 minutes later I came to check, and sure enough she was in labor.

I ran into the house and scrubbed my hands and arms, grabbed the birthing kit and went out. Linda was already in the jug and by time I got out there Teeny had twins one boy and one girl. She was cleaning them and they were beautiful. I checked her and a third was presented but only one hoof. I reached in and realized one arm was back and the head was tilted back. I reached in and pushed the baby back in and arranged him the best I could to get him out. trying to get the head right was difficult, but necessary so it just took a few tries and he was ready to come out. Boy did he, with a plop! Beautiful! All three kids and mother very healthy! Whew!

For the next several weeks its kid time 13 does are bred so its going to be very fun around here. Not to mention the 47 Ewes that are lambing too. Love this time of year. I don't sleep much but I love it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Teeny Tiny

Have I ever told you about Teeny Tiny? When she was just a little toot about four or five days old she was given to me by my mentor Judy Calvert of HLA acres. Teeny was very small and weak and needed to be culled. Judy knew I was new at this and just building my herd so a small little girl who needed extra attention wouldn’t be a problem for me. Teeny began to get weaker and at one point I thought I might lose her. She was so cute and when I say cute I mean hallmark card cute. But anyway I took her to my vet and we tried to trouble shoot the possibilities. Just out of the blue I said, “yea I pulled a tick off her year yesterday”. Bam! that was it! Dr Denham gave her a very strong antibiotic and very quickly she got better it was like night and day.

Teeny was little, much smaller than the average kid and she did need special attention. I made her a little pen in the mud room in the house although I will tell you here she slept in the bed with me… without any accidents! Then she moved to the closet and slept in there at night. I would wake up when I heard her little hooves on the wood floor and take her out side. We got real close. I remember lying in the green grass in the back yard, Teeny asleep and snoring on my chest. Teeny is the only one who has horns. I usually remove horns from all of the kids but I was afraid to put her through the stress of that so I let her horns grow and hoped she wouldn’t turn out to be a monster with them. But I figured if she was smaller than the rest of the herd the horns might come in handy. I wanted to give her some advantage. So finally and sadly Teeny Tiny was able to live outside with her other goat people. She fit in just fine and no one gave her grief. She’s made very close friends with Belize and Jewel and we still remained really close.

Teeny managed to grow out of her name and become a beautiful and elegant Doe. She is still very affectionate and loving. She is a wonderful mama and her kids are beautiful, although they have always been boys. She will be the first one to kid this season. She is due this Saturday. She aborted last year by an unknown cause; no one else had problems so a toxin was ruled out. It could have been anything, so this year we’ve been extremely nervous and watching her very closely. She is bagged up and defiantly ready to pop but I am very nervous. Teeny is my baby. She a 150lb baby and this spring she’ll be 4 years old but she’s my girl so I’m on eggshells till Saturday. I’ll be getting her birthing jug ready today because I had a dream she kidded early. I pay attention to my dreams.

So when you come to visit I want you to say hi to Teeny, she loves to be rubbed and scratched on her cheeks and she’s very used to kisses so don’t be shy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The dinner!

The Like Water for Chocolate dinner was a success! I took such pleasure in every second of it from the beginning of last week in preparing the mole to the washing of the last dish. It was so incredibly fun. each night we had 20 guests the perfect number I thought. It was amazing we pulled the dinner off really. We were not able to get water to the cabin until 3pm on Saturday three hours before guests arrived. Thursday the well was completely frozen. And in spite of the winterizing that had been done early in the season, there were two broken pipes under the cabin. nothing could be done on Friday because we didn't know about the breaks yet, the cabin is in a very shady location so it takes a while to warm up. The well house is basically falling apart and there is no insulation under the house, so we waited. I made my to-do list of repairs and updates.

Linda repaired the pipes and water was flowing. Thank the stars! The funny thing is neither one of us freaked out or even considered not going through with the dinner, The cabin looked absolutely beautiful and two warm fires were aglow, lights were dimmed, candles lit, sauce simmering and all was well. Not to mention a lamb was born early Saturday morning "Tita" we call her after the main character of the book. After the dinners were over we just couldn't believe our luck the absolute grace we were granted.

I have wanted to do this dinner for so long and I am so very grateful it was so gentle and kind to me. What a great experience! The cabin is such a magical place, the Oakley's who built and poured their love into this building brought such life into it. Its an honor for me to continue this by filling the air with aromas of simmering sauces and braising meats and nourishing the guests who grace us.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Part 2

I can’t believe I froze the eggs. I was distracted wanting to get back to the kitchen I set the bucket on the well house when I filled the chicken’s water and left it there over night. All of the eggs were cracked! The dogs will be happy. There weren’t many eggs. Since the snow storm they’ve only been laying about 8 a day. Smart little buggers’ chickens are. They won’t lay when they don’t feel like the environment is safe for the potential chicks that might be hatching. So if the hens are stressed by cold weather, lack of food or water or a visiting predator, not to mention hours of daylight they just won’t lay. There are other reasons too but anyone who tells me chickens are stupid I just shake my head and think, you poor souls you don’t know what really matters do you?

I bring the masa dough to room temperature; beat the lard until it’s creamy and soft. Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the masa to the lard and then fold in the stock. I like to add just a little toasted cinnamon and sea salt at this point. Crumble the queso and peal the skins off the roast peppers (I froze oodles of them this summer). Let the corn husks drain well. Peal strips from smaller odd shaped corn husks for tying the tamales, set aside. Lay out the husks, pat dry. Add a spoon full of the masa and compress a well in the middle with your thumb and add the chicken, then the queso and then the pepper, roll it up. Fold up the tail and tie.

I discovered a funny thing while feeding the baby chicks this morning, although they are not babies any longer. Eight weeks, so technically they are pullets. There was one sitting up on a bar I use to hang the heat lamps, I tuned my back and I heard something very strange, it sounded like one of the pullets had gotten hurt. I turned to investigate, nothing. All was calm. The little one roosting on the bar just looked at me curious, head cocked slightly, I turned away back to what I was doing, it happened again, then I stood still and just watched. The little one on the rail looked at me, stood up and suddenly and not so gracefully cock- a- doodle- doo’d this was no pullet. This was a rooster. Its funny when people come into your life that you were not expecting. I don't think he expected to come into this life and meet me. We're all a little sad but will be grateful for what he adds to our lives and table.

While rolling the tamales I recommend listening to some salsa or meringue music, that way you can fantasize about dancing and flirting, and being swept off your feet in the quick breath of passion. Time speeds by. Don’t tie the tamales too tight give just enough room for them to grow in the steam pot.

Yesterday we steamed a sample of the tamales and I heated a little of the mole sauce so I could decide if I should serve the tamales for the first course or the second. The ox tail soup I had planned to be second but the tamale and the mole where so strong and complicated in flavor I was afraid that the soup couldn't stand up after it. I was wrong the broth was more aromatic more powerful and could definitely stand solid for second course, I was delighted. It truly was a tincture to be reckoned with. As it should be. Anything that has such strong healing and loving qualities ought to be able to stand up and take you for a walk.

Fry the onions in a little olive oil, add the meat. Toast the cumin and clove, Toast the nuts, local pecans and walnuts. Grind the spices with a mortar and pestle, add to the meat, add the apples form Don Chiartarno, raisins, and the peaches (the ones from summer we froze) grind the nuts in the large coarse stone bowl. Don’t make a flour. Mix this together but save some nuts for the sauce. Remove the skins from the roasted pepper. Carefully cut a slit in the pepper remove the seeds, stuff with the filling. I forgot to point out, pick small peppers, if you can only find large ones plan on slicing them in half. Too much of a good thing can make for an unbearably restless evening. The sauce is made by braising, onion, garlic, the nuts, adding goat milk cream, sharp aged cheese. Pour this over the peppers before serving and sprinkle liberally with pomegranate seeds. I can only pray this dish is not eaten too fast. But savored like a sweet loving kiss. Don’t light all your matches at once. There is more to come.

I made the tres letches cake before bed. That way the sweet letches (milks) could soak into the sponge cake overnight and turn the cake into caramel. I’ll candy some rose pedals for garnish. Today just the finishing touches; Preparing the rose pedal sauce for the quail. I was able to purchase local quail from a man in Tahlequah he even butchered and dressed them for me. They are absolutely beautiful. The day I picked them up early this week it was freezing and the roads were hazardous, now the sun is rising and the day is promising to be warm and sunny, even still I’m going to build a raging fire. Nothing warms me more than a hot bath or the penetrating warmth of a fire.

Friday, February 11, 2011

To the table or to bed, you must come when you are bid

The preperations for the Like water for Chocolate dinner

I start by frying the dried chilies then I add the onion and caramelize them well so they are almost candied. Then comes the toasting of the spices; ground Mayan cocoa, broken cinnamon, star anise, cumin, clove. When toasted well, add to the pot. When the spices start to stick to the bottom of the pan and almost look like they could burn…just almost but not quite. Don’t be too hasty! all of the oils must be hot so they can be free. Only then do I add the wine and the stock, and a couple of paste tomatoes canned from the tomato harvest, an apple and a sweet potato. Almonds should be toasting now. We’ll ground them later to add to the mole. This will simmer till just before evening chores.

The day outside is so blindingly bright from the sun reflecting off the snow that I have to untwist the cotton fabric that is secured by two tacks on each corner of the kitchen window, this little makeshift curtain is very useful when the hot summer sun sets and burns your eyes while you wash dishes. The light in the kitchen is soft and warm now and the aromas of the simmering mole and the oxtail soup are placing me in a calmed almost surreal state.

I’ve roasted the lamb bones and ox tails and now I’m simmering them with chipotles. The flavor is so deep and rich. This is a simple soup no fancy ingredients or spices, just the roasted bones simmered for eight hours or so with a few dried smoked peppers, some onions and later a few diced potatoes. This soup represents pure affection for the one you make it for. There is nothing that can express a simple act of love better and more profoundly then to serve them this soup. It will put the soul back in order. It will un- tangle the brain and even better relax the heart and the sphincter.

Yesterday I spent all day making two things. That how it is sometimes. Every ingredient had my undivided attention as it rose up and danced before me. How could I walk away? It would be rude. Today I’ll make the cockerel tamales. I’ve already slaughtered, dressed and slow roasted them, picked all the tender meat off the bones and mixed it with the juice of the mole. I’ll mix the masa. The corn husks have been soaking overnight so tamales will be the first thing I make after feeding the chickens, sheep and goats. Sally will be the first one to kid, she’s due on Saturday so I’ll give her a real look over and kiss her many times on the cheek. The sheep are close to lambing so I’ll keep my eye out. Hopefully no unexpected problems will arise that will keep me from my tamales.

To be continued…..

Monday, February 7, 2011

foot prints in the snow

I took a walk yesterday after evening chore time through the back 10 acre goat pasture. I was searching for foot prints in the snow. My curiosity had finally peaked and I wanted evidence of who else I might share this land with, how many, and how close. A walk sounds nice normally but the trudging through the snow I’ve been doing for the last four days to feed sheep, chickens and goats has just become a challenge. It’s getting better and walking down the paths I have shoveled out has made a big difference, but Advil has been a necessary accompaniment with my evening glass of wine.

Just before chore time the sheep decided they were board and walked through the electro-net fence and stood at the garden fence screaming at me. “do something”! “There is nothing to eat out here except this ol’ round bale of hay and we are completely fed up with this white stuff”! Okay, okay, I brought out a bucket of corn and they walked back into their pen and ate. While they ate I scanned the fence to find out why it wasn’t charging. The Llama Kalamazoo was not interested in going back with the sheep so he is out patrolling the whole 85 acres. Actually he hasn’t left the garden. He seems content and there is an old bale of hay I was going to use as mulch but he’s found it palatable and has decided he needs a break from his sheep.

So after I had that all sorted out, I walked past the round bale of hay the goats have been munching on I wasn’t sure if they would follow me out. Goats aren’t like sheep they don’t like the rain and hate to get their feet wet, so they stayed behind and I continued on and walked through un-trodded snow.

I saw them immediately, near the fence line. I wasn’t sure but finally surmised deer. Maybe 100 feet from the barn. They looked like goat prints but I know that to be impossible so I followed them and they ended at the fence and started again beyond. I looked up and all around me were foot prints, I was surrounded. Deer possible, raccoon, possum and coyote but I really wasn’t sure. But obviously these were new tracts and I know now I’m never alone. I never see them I suppose I am grateful for that. They keep to their business and I too mine. They have the advantage of a keen sense of smell so they are very well aware of me, and my comings and goings. I’m the oblivious one.

It really is beautiful, the snow. It makes farm life more difficult but it is beautiful. We’ll have a mess to clean up when it’s all melted, A section of roof in our barn gave away from the weight of the snow but if that’s the only casualty I’d say were doing pretty good. The roof needed re tinned anyway so I’ll just add this to the list.

Soon after the melt I will be able to chisel plow the garden and start getting it ready for spring planting. That’s one advantage of the quantity of snow we got, at least it will moisten the earth just enough for me to be able to work the soil. It’s almost time to start tomato and pepper seedlings. I’ll be grateful when this is all gone and life can get back to normal a little but I’m more
grateful that we got through it for the most part with no incident.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzards and sunsets

When the storm is finally over and the last snow flake has fluttered through the air, I let out the breath I have been holding since 11pm the night before when the ice started to fall from the sky with snaps of white lightning and thunder. I woke up this morning to at least 9 inches of snow and drifts up past my knee. Most of the day has been spent making sure the animals are alright. The sheep and llamas seem perfectly content. I worry most about the milk goats. They are not as hearty as sheep. They are my babies and I worry about them getting wet and then getting cold.

By late morning the snow had already covered my treks out to the chicken coup and the sheep pasture from earlier in the morning for chore time, and I honestly couldn’t measure the depth because there were so many deep drifts there was just no way to know how much snow had actually fallen. Mostly I walked through snow up to my knee. Cold hard fast wind made it impossible to see very far and I realized my own limits carrying a half of bail of alfalfa out to the sheep. I had only walked 100 feet and I became hungry and worn out. My legs felt so heavy. My face mostly covered in scarves and a red Hawaiian patterned bandana was cold and my eyes watered hard. I just wanted to get back inside drink another cup of coffee. I even became severely annoyed with myself for not having that third cup before going out. surly that would have helped! I gave my inner self…. “the look” Damn me!

The wind was blowing the snow so hard and fast it was pushing tiny white particles through every little crevice and opening in the barn that seemed somehow to rejoin and form big snowflakes again covering everyone and the barn floor with snow. I worried. We plugged up all the openings we could find with a staple gun and old feed bags and still microscopic snow particles rushed in and left dusting on walls and our heads. In spite of this, when dropped down to my knees, removed my gloved hands and placed them on the bellies and faces of the goats they felt very warm and seemed to be doing quite well. They ate big mouthfuls of hay. I listened to them chew. When they were finished they huddled together in a dry corner and then laid down together chewing their cud.

Exhausted from shoveling and feeding I came inside made a cup of peppermint tea brought it to bed with me, laid down and fell asleep for an hour or so. When I awoke the bedroom was aglow with the blinding light of the sun reflecting of the snow. The sun! The blizzard had stopped! I put my gear back on and trudged through the snow drifts back to the goats. They were sunbathing, eyes closed and happily moaning. I sat down with them in the barn, brushed off tiny ice balls off their backs. Touched noses, nuzzled necks and stroked the fat pregnant bellies of my darlings. One chicken was stuck in a snow drift so I brought her inside and put her in a laundry basket with a heat pad. A few minutes later she was on my desk pecking at dust particles. Out she went with the others and I began a new list for tomorrow which began with ‘clean the office’. Everyone made it, we survived the blizzard.

A promising sunset brought us out finally with camera in hand. Evening chores were just a matter of looking for ewes that may have lambed. All was well. Walking back to the house we talked about how grateful we were that as far as we could tell we were doing all right. We looked at the handy work of feed bags stapled to the outside of the barn rafters that prevented blowing snow from coming in. Linda says “I like to refer to those as prayer flags”. Strangely, they resembled just that. We laughed at the irony but the meaning was profound.

Back inside we prepared a dinner of fresh baked bread, parsnip and potato mash and slow roasted chicken we had raised and slaughtered ourselves and ate with silent awe. Tonight the temps will drop to below freezing. All of the outside dogs and cats come in, we might not get any sleep but we both agreed we don’t care. As long as our people are safe all is well on the farm.