We wake up at 4:30 around here to get chores done before our ‘off farm’ jobs require our attention. By 5:15 this morning it was just getting light enough for me to head down to the garden. I figure I had an hour or so before I had to get to my other work. I turned on the sprinklers, puttered with weeding and trimming back some kale and herbs. The garden has always been my happy place but if you get a chance to watch the sun come up from your garden, I highly recommend it. It takes gardening to a whole new level.
I also spent some time fixing and re-securing the strawberry netting – side note: years ago I met someone who grew berries and told me he believed in sharing his berry harvest with the birds and living in harmony with them. This sounded perfect to my peace loving, hippie soul and I decided right then and there that’s what I was going to do if I ever grew berries. Well, I’m here to tell you that he either didn’t have a clue what he was talking about or he didn’t like to eat berries very much. Sharing only works when both parties buy into the philosophy and at least on my farm, someone has neglected to tell the birds how this is supposed to work. The winged berry thieves completely devastated the first of the season’s strawberries. Even after they had their fill the greedy little buggers would still take a ‘taste’ out of each and every berry, leaving none untouched. Apparently sharing with wildlife is one of those ideas that sounds great in theory but in reality works out different than anticipated.
It was also finally time to start harvesting garlic scapes. Anyone who’s been following our blog or Facebook page know that I am a confessed garlic scape addict. I want impatiently all year for the incredibly short season. The only downfall of scapes is that they seem to bring out my inner kindergartner, the one that failed in sharing with others. My mother would be mortified by my lack of sharing with my friends, but since she is rarely on the internet, they’re on their own. This picture of a bowl of vibrant green, mash may not look like much to you but to me, it represents a year of impatiently waiting for a taste of heaven.
scapes fresh but also appreciate how easy it is to put up scapes for later use.
I wash, chop and throw my scapes into the blender with olive oil and a pinch of
salt. When blended into a paste I put them in ice cube trays and freeze them.
This scape paste is indescribably amazing! I haven’t found the recipe that
isn’t made better with scapes. I throw them in soups, mix with other herbs as a
pesto, put it over potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, and right this very minute I am
enjoying them with a mashed avocado spread over hunks of fresh sour dough
bread. I’ve devoured an embarrassing amount of this scape paste already today,
but on a positive note I’ll be free from any potential vampire harassment for
the foreseeable future.
gardening and sunrises. I got to enjoy some of my favorite things before many
had even woken up. I’m feeling particularly blessed today. ❤
I used to see these memes on Facebook about dog collars being dangerous to be honest I figured people were over-reacting. After all, I’ve had dogs my whole life and they have never had any issues with their collars. I figured it would take a one in a million chance that something like this could happen right? Besides, it seemed way more dangerous to NOT have a collar on my dog and have them get lost with no way for people to identify and contact me than to wear a simple, little collar. Apparently I had been very lucky. That long standing misconception changed in mere minutes yesterday.
Hubs and I were outside working on one of the ninety million projects we have around the farm and the dogs were playing a few feet from us. Suddenly they went from making happy, play noises to Boomer screaming in pain and panic. As I was scrambling to climb down from where I had been working on the ladder I could see him thrashing around, throwing his body one way and then another trying to get away from Shandy. Shandy, although confused was doing her best to stay still. She obviously understood something was very wrong.
It took me only seconds to get to him and he was already foaming at the mouth, fear in his eyes and in obvious pain. A quick glance and I saw his jaw and tooth were stuck on Shandy’s collar and metal ring which attaches the rabies tag. As Boomer struggled to free himself he was now pulling harder and harder on Shandy’s collar, digging it deep into her fur and tightening her pink camo collar into a macabre make-shift noose. Shandy, now getting choked and started to panic as well, beginning her own fight, the fight to breathe.
Between Boomer’s panicked and frantic efforts to pull himself free and Shandy’s frenzied fight to get air I had my hands full and couldn’t get them separated. I started screaming for help and Hubs came running. We were able to get them separated in minutes but it felt like hours. There didn’t appear to be any residual physical trauma to anyone from the ordeal but we were all left deeply shaken.
Afterward Hubs and I, although thoroughly rattled, were feeling incredibly grateful as we played the “what if” game…”What if we hadn’t been right next to them when it happened?” “What if we had been inside and hadn’t heard noise?” After all, neither one could bark and the whole event was remarkably quiet for as traumatic as it was. “What if they had been in their outdoor kennel and we weren’t home?” I truly believe if any of the above scenarios had happened we would have one, possibly two dead dogs. We were so incredibly lucky that this happened while we were literally a few feet away from them.
After decades of having dogs and using collars all the time, I am now a full convert and avid believer of no collars when they are home. I would much rather have a lost dog and be looking for them, than a dead dog. Please, please learn from my mistakes. Don’t let this happen to your fur babies.
Last weekend I was trying to address the never ending tasks of cleaning the kitchen. Usually this feels like trying to stop a waterfall with a tea strainer . I mean, how do you clean something that is in constant use?
I digress, as I was saying, I was trying to clean the kitchen and came across a box of stale store bought donuts. I had bought them on a whim and we weren’t impressed. Which is both amazing (since I’m not the pickiest eater) and fantastic (since I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to diet). Anyway, I decided that the goats would probably enjoy these delicacies since they’re slightly less picky than I am.
I grabbed the donut box, slipped on some shoes and headed out to the goat pasture. As I drew near the gate the goats all came running to see what gifts I came bearing. It took only a single taste from one of the gals before they all figured out I had something that something special that met with their approval. The herd swarmed the gate, pushing and yelling, trying to snatch the treats from my hands before anyone else could get any. I had wanted to evenly distribute the donuts and make sure they all received a share, but I quickly became preoccupied trying to keep track of my fingers and ensuring they didn’t get snapped up by an overly enthusiastic and hungry goat. All in all it I was feeling a bit too much like being in a Wal-Mart during a Black Friday sale. A mixture of exciting, kind of terrifying and wondering what I had gotten myself into.
During all this excitement, and while I was distracted with trying to keep track of the well being of my fingers, I failed to notice that the goats in their drunken, sugar fueled frenzy, were straining the industrial strength farm gate and latch. Without even a hint of remorse or warning the chain gave up any pretense of trying to keep the gate closed and it flew open and directly into me. Thankfully, I still had all my fingers and was able to catch the runaway gate before it caught me fully in the face. However, now I was stuck with a dilemma. There wasn’t enough intact chain to re-secure the gate and if I let go of the gate to go get more chain the goats would make a break for it. I yelled for Hubs….and yelled……and yelled….. Did I mention he’s a bit hard of hearing?
At this point, I recognized the seriousness of my situation. I was all that stood between the hangry goat herd and the lush, overgrown grass and more importantly, the brand new, baby grape leaves in our new vineyard. This was dire indeed. I threw the rest of the donuts over the fence in hopes of placating the super sugar charged herd and prayed hard that Hubs would hear me. He eventually wandered outside and found me fighting to hold the gate closed. He grabbed some items out of the goat barn, rigged a temporary solution and hurried off to the shop to locate a more substantial chain and latch.
Now that I was relieved from gate duty, I wandered down to the vineyard to catch my breath and appreciate the fact that my precious grape vines had been saved. At least that was the plan, until I heard excited goats yelling what resembled a war cry. I looked up to find the goats had once again broken the temporary latch and were making a mad prison break from their pasture. I ran as fast as my slip on shoes would allow up the hill, shouting threats and obscenities all the way and managed to catch the gate before the entire herd had escaped. I found myself once again yelling for Hubs, and also yelling for the goats to stay away from the vineyard. Hubs eventually returned and fixed the gate. We rounded up the escapees without too much drama and only minor pruning to the grape vines and secured the gate with a heavier duty chain and latch.
The lesson to be learned here is this, much like you should never give a Mogwai water for fear of being overrun with Gremlins (if you don’t get this movie reference you really must watch Gremlins), you should never feed a goat donuts…..unless you have much better behaved goats than my heathens. Because in my case, just as the cute little Mogwai turn into scary gremlins, feeding donuts to my cute and cuddly goats turn them into super strong, sugar frenzied goat gremlins. Lesson learned. Sorry goats, no more donuts for you, from now on we’re in this diet thing together.
It’s our anniversary weekend and so like many people we’ve been making plans on how to pack the day full of things that we enjoy. For some people that may mean, fancy dinners and expensive gifts, but for us it means spending the day working on the farm. Yes, our anniversary sounds a lot like every other day on the farm, but I truly believe the best life is one you don’t need a vacation from. Our anniversary happened to fall on World Naked Gardening Day but we decided the best gift we could give ourselves (and our neighbors) was to bypass this celebration. So we dressed appropriately and headed out to enjoy our day.
Hubs managed to finish the repairs to the chicken coop courtyard. Last winter we had an unprecedented snowfall and after almost 40 inches in a few days the metal netting gave up the ghost. Since then the chickens have been complaining that they need a coop remodel and the regularly visiting raccoons have been echoing their sentiment, so it was a top priority.
While Hubs was busy working with our feathered friends, I was planting in the high tunnel. It was a beautiful sunny day and Hubs was commenting on how the breeze felt so good…..I of course, got to enjoy none of that inside the high tunnel. Instead I was roasting! It was at least 20 degrees hotter inside the high tunnel than outside and with no breeze to give me reprieve. It was tempting to go back on my agreement with Hubs and join the naked gardening followers, but I refrained. As much as I love playing in the dirt I was so glad when I finished up inside the tunnel. Then it was on to the next project.
The goats needed some pedicures so I headed off to trim goat hooves. Nothing like trimming feet while Berry the Buck blows rumen scented sweet nothings in my ear. During this time I discovered spring really had arrived….because I got my first, second and third mosquito bite of the year. *sigh* If any of you are long time followers of the page you’ll probably remember (because I whine about this every year mercilessly) that the mosquitos LOVE me. I’m usually covered in at least a dozen bites at any given time during spring and summer. I’ve also discovered that I apparently have particularly tasty elbows since the bites seem to be focused in that area. Over years of trying different things, the only one that has worked to reduce the itch and give me some relief is After Bite. I’ve learned to always have a tube or two of it handy.
We had just had 9 tons of 3 man rocks delivered to work on a landscape project and we were excited to pull out the tractor and get to work setting them in place. I know, I know, some of you may be asking yourself how this sounds like a fun anniversary but for years we have focused on making the farm livable (it was quite a mess when we got it) and also making it functional. We didn’t have the time, energy or money to make it pretty. It simply wasn’t an option. So to finally get to work on these optional projects felt like a treat.
We ended the evening with a homecooked meal and a glass of my favorite wine….and then we took turns rubbing each other’s back with this modern day version of dad’s old Ben Gay. Apparently we aren’t as young as we used to be, but all in all it was a fantastic day and we wouldn’t chose to spend it any other way.
*Note: some of you will notice that I have links to some of our favorite products. After spending years answering emails or Facebook messages asking me where I find the products I mentioned in my blog or posts I finally decided to try being an Amazon Affiliate. This lets me link right to the product and if you decide to buy from the link I get a little commission. Win-win. I hope this helps us both. Thanks! ~M
Disclosure: Fable Farms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
It’s been snowing here in Western Washington. That in itself
isn’t that unusual, however the amount of snow we’ve had over the last few
weeks is. We had accumulated quite a bit for a state that doesn’t do much for
winter prep or have many snow plows. This was starting to cause problems. It’s not bad for us personally. We love being
home. My biggest challenge the last few days has been relaxing. I’m more type A
and love to be doing, learning and creating something all of the time. I figure I come by it from my parents, who
were the original “do-it-yourself-ers”. I have a true love of projects and feeling
During snowpocalypse, we did what we could outside, like
checking the animals every few hours to make sure they were warm and had water,
walking the fence line to check for downed trees and branches and of course,
sledding down the long hill. But eventually it was time to go inside and thaw
out. Since we couldn’t work on any of our numerous outside projects I looked
around for something to do inside and decided that cooking up some warm, yummy
comfort food was just the ticket.
I started with an early lunch. It was venison brats cooked with mushrooms and sweet onions and then topped with several handfuls of micro greens. This was accompanied by a rather large bowl of homemade vegetable soup made from last season’s garden harvest. Dinner was BBQ ribs, from our home raised pigs, fried okra and homemade Dutch apple pie. After dinner I decided a second dessert was in order so I made a double batch of chewy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Baking to keep myself busy wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t eating everything I made. I rolled myself to bed that night. In the morning I warmed up my insides with a big bowl of homemade lentil soup and then made a huge sausage and egg breakfast casserole for my second breakfast. Hey, if the hobbits can do it so can I. (Life lesson #1 – moderation is key.)
Shortly after my second breakfast I noticed my sweat pants
were getting uncomfortably tight and decided I probably needed to find some other means of being
productive because if I kept cooking I wasn’t going to be able to fit out the
door when the snow finally did melt. I started looking through my boxes of old,
half finished projects, searching for something to work on. True confession
time, this box is rather large….it might be several boxes. I was raised that
you finish what you start, so of course if I haven’t finished it I have to keep
it until someday I get back to the project and finally complete it. This is my
This is how I ended up sitting on the floor staring at my partially finished ugly quilt. Let me back up, several years ago I had decided I really needed to master sewing. As a child I would wrap myself in one of these beautiful quilts that my granny had made and even though I barely knew the woman, I felt close to her. When I snuggled into them I felt like I was connected to her and my extended family. So it made perfect sense in my mind that when I decided to learn to sew I would start with quilts. After all it’s just straight lines right? How hard could it be? Bless my heart. Yes, I just blessed myself. We’re snowed in, it’s not like anyone else can do it and it really needed to be said. (Life lesson #2 – Everything looks easy from a distance, the devil is in the details.)
Anyway I digress, as I was saying, several years ago I
started a strip quilt and after getting a good amount done I put it away to be
finished another day. Sitting there now looking at the quilt I realized why I
had put it up….it was ugly. Seriously ugly. But I could hear Mom’s voice
echoing in my head, “finish what you start”. It was Mom’s voice because
Dad didn’t actually say it, he just demonstrated it, never quitting until he
had accomplished what he set out to do. To be honest I think he was just too
stubborn to quit. I argued with myself for a bit about finishing the quilt. I
really think Mom was talking about chores, school projects etc, but I guess the
lesson could be applied to things like ugly quilt projects too. Besides between
Mom’s lessons and Dad’s stubbornness, I knew I was going to have to finish the
Besides being unsightly, it had some technical challenges too. Shortly after I started the project I knew I was in trouble. Like usual when I decide to learn something, if a little is good, a lot must be fantastic. So why not start with a extra large queen size quilt? Lord have mercy on my pea picking brain. Looking back I wonder why one of my many talented sewing friends didn’t try to dissuade me. I remember when one of my friends was reviewing basic sewing supplies with me and she help up a seam ripper. My response was, “I know what that is. I’m really good at using a seam ripper”. Clearly that should have been an indication that I needed a reality check. But alas, it didn’t happen and here I was, trying to work up the enthusiasm to finish the beast. (Life lesson #3 – It’s wise to test the waters before diving in headfirst into unknown territory.)
I remember when I was talking to someone and I casually
mentioned I was sewing a quilt and they mentioned how they struggled with their
points. I had no idea what she meant and so I just vaguely nodded my head and
changed the subject. I went home and looked up quilting and points. I sat back
stunned. You mean all those corner pieces are supposed to line up perfectly?
Were they serious or was this some sort of cruel quilters joke? That was an eye
opener. Obviously quilting wasn’t easy even if you knew how to sew (which I
think we’ve established, I didn’t). (Life lesson #4 – know when you’re in over
With the snow keeping my home bound there wasn’t many distractions so I figure I might as well buckle down and get it done. My husband wandered by a few times early on, but hearing me mutter and curse under my breath, he wisely chose to avoid the area. It was several hours later before he approached me to ask how it was going and wonder aloud why I was putting myself through this. Several answers ran through my head, because I still wanted to learn the skill, because I’m too stubborn to quit, because you have to finish what you start, but all I said was, “It’s a family thing”. He’s been married to me long enough, he just nods his head and pretends that I’m make sense. (Life lesson #5 – Family matters. Whether you chose to embrace them or avoid them, they shape the way you look at life.)
A few hours later I had finished the quilt top with its imperfect points, riotous colors and crooked seams. I called my husband over to admire the mess. Then I explained to him that although it was mandatory for me to finish the quilt top, I drew the line adding the batting and backing. After all my mom didn’t raise a quitter but she also didn’t raise a dummy. I also explained that the amount we would pay for someone to finish the batting and backing on would probably be more than we would have paid for a really pretty store bought quilt. His response was perfect, “yea but that wouldn’t be the same. This one you made.” A perfect response.
So this tale was my long winded way of saying, if you know of someone who finished quilts, has an adventurous spirit and is up for a challenge, feel free to drop me a message. (Life lesson #6- know when to ask for help.) HELP!
For those that don’t keep up with our Facebook page, we have
been one of Western Washington Snowmageddon victims. We’ve been snowed in for a
week now and were without power for 4 days. There were some challenges for
sure, such as cooking on the woodstove by candle or flashlight and very cold
PTA baths (for those that aren’t familiar with the term….let’s just say the
initials represent parts of the body that need addressing sooner than others)
but overall we managed ok.
One of the biggest challenges was that kidding season
started during the snow storm. Those of you who raise livestock understand all
too well that the coldest, wettest and most inhospitable conditions seem to bring
on goat labor like nothing else. Thankfully, for the most part, the goats
needed little help because assisting by headlamp when your fingers are barely
working from the cold makes things difficult. So I was grateful that little help
was required…..until yesterday.
Yesterday Ursa let out a scream like she was being tortured,
and I guess in a way she was. We arrived in the barn in record time and found
her with one hoof out and the kid obviously stuck. We managed to push the hoof
back in and fish around to locate both feet and a nose and Ursa thanked us by
expelling the kid like she was shooting a rocket out her rear.
Since kidding season is usually pretty uneventful around
here and we mistakenly we thought , statistically speaking, we had managed
through the only issues we’d have this year. We were wrong. This morning Hubs
went out to do chores and yelled in the door that Vessie was kidding. Since
birth is rarely quick, in human or animal, I figured I had time for at least
one cup of coffee before bundling up to face the cold, but alas that wasn’t
meant to be. When Hubs didn’t return I figured I better get outside and help.
Vessie is an excellent mother and usually manages to have
her kids external, cleaned and fed before I can even get on scene. This time
was different. We arrived to find two kids born, she had apparently started
cleaning the first one when the second arrived. It was stillborn and she was
stunned. When we got to the barn we tried and tried to revive the baby but
nothing worked. At this point Vessie seemed as confused as any first time mom. While
we all would have appreciated a minute to process the loss of the baby Mother
Nature rarely works that way. Life, as usual, continues on whether or not you
are ready and able to keep up. Vessie had stopped cleaning the first kid and
stood vaguely stunned when a third baby arrived. We got the 2 healthy babies
cleaned, cords tied, trimmed and dipped but the last (and smallest) baby
obviously had some fluid still in her lungs. We swung her for a bit but she
still sounded a little raspy. It was
concerning. Vessie at this point had awoken from her stupor and was back to be
the awesome mom she usually is, cleaning the looking after her two babies.
We made sure they had latched on and were fed the all
important colostrum and even gave them a squirt of goat vitamins and nutrients.
We cleaned them and placed them in the warming box and then we went into the
house for our first cup of coffee while we waited. Sometimes Mother Nature goes
against all your best efforts and sometimes she is merciful despite a million things
that could go wrong. Experience has
taught us there really doesn’t seem to be a rhythm or reason to these things.
I went out to check the babies a while later and found the
Vessie’s first kid up and actively nursing. The smaller kid was in the corner,
pushed up against the water bucket, with her head flopped over backward. My
heart caught in my mouth and I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.
I had so hoped that she would make it. That despite being small, being born in
the cold and having a bit of rasp in her breath she would persevere.
I unlatched the gate
and went to gather up the little one. I reached down and picked her up, she was
still warm to the touch. I ran my hands over her wondering if maybe I could still
resuscitate her when suddenly her eyes popped open and she opened her mouth to
let out a surprised yell. I think I might have given off my own yell of
surprised mixed with laughter. Apparently she had just been sleeping super
deeply, in a position any yoga master would envy and decided the cold water
bucket made a better bed friend than the warm heat box. Goats…..they sure do keep you on your toes. She
bounced back quickly, once she (and I) recovered from the surprise- her the
surprise of being awaken in a strangers arms and me the surprise of her being
alive. When I left the barn she was playing with her sister and romping around
the kidding area full of vigor.
I share all of this for two reasons, like Vessie make sure
you surround yourself with people who will step up and help when life knocks
you a curve ball. Sometimes we just need a minute to catch our breath and since
life doesn’t slow down for us at these times make sure you select your tribe
based on who will be there when you need them. The other thing is to remember
not to ever give up. Even when people
may think you are done and out of the game, you may just be taking a little rest
to gather your energy.
You may be looking at the picture and wondering what the heck you’re looking at. Don’t worry you’re in good company, I wondered the exact same thing. Turns out the answer to that question is quite the tale.
I arrived home from work, late in the evening one night last
week and stopped at the barn to say hi to the horses, as I usually do. Hubs
drove down the hill to the barn and rather than his usual greeting, he started
with, “You just missed the show.” This statement always strikes a bit
of fear in my heart. It either means I missed something adorably cute that one
of the animals did or he narrowly escaped death. There never seems to be any middle
ground between these two. In this particular instance it was the latter.
Some of you may remember the very large spool we have in the
goat pasture. Hubs brought it home many years ago and it was quite the hair
raising adventure getting it across the horse pasture and put the hillside to
the goat pasture. The goats have always loved playing on the spool, but alas
it’s time in the goat pasture is coming to an end. We’ve decided to repurpose
the lower portion of the pasture and so we needed to move the spool (along with
a rather large stack of old split rails and a ton + pile of rocks).
With us both working off the farm and only having a few
hours each evening of daylight to work by, it took most of a week to get all
the wood rails and rocks moved. The last thing to move was the spool. I figured
we would get it this weekend when we were both home because the spool has a few
of the bottom pieces broken out and won’t roll well and if it happens to get out of control on the hillside there’s a fence right below it
that I would prefer to keep in one piece and just past the fence is the pond.
Despite my concerns, Hubs decided he could get it done alone. Inevitably whenever he decides that a two or more person job can be done alone, I picture the little imp that sits on my shoulder whispering into my ear, “grab a beer and watch this!” Sure enough, he proceeded to tell me the tale of how he had wrapped a chain around the spool and begun to drag the spool. Of course we don’t have a 4WD tractor and between the rain slick, mud and the slope of the hill, the tractor started sliding. The new angle between the spool and tractor cause the chain to strain and then break. The chain went flying by and when his life stopped flashing before his eyes he looked back he saw the spool tipped and had started a slow motion, drunken roll down the hill. He watched in equal parts fascination and horror as it continued its ungainly wobbly roll, down the hill toward the fence. Then, just when he was convinced the fence was going to be demolished the spool, rather miraculously hit a bump in the ground, launching the huge spool several feet in the air, causing it to only graze the fence before landing on the other side. It finished its Olympic worthy rambling downhill journey by rolling into the pond before falling over.
So the answer to the question, “what the heck is that a picture of?” is the spool, sitting in the pond and half covered in brush, half covered in mucky and water. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, farming isn’t for the faint of heart.