Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | January 26, 2015 | 1 Comment

It’s still raining.  Which is better than all the snow they are forecasting for up north.  So I won’t complain.  Especially since The Other Half and Middle scrubbed the bathrooms this weekend, leaving me with just the usual vacuum and mop for today.  Obviously I won’t get to cutting back the asparagus ferns, weeding the creeping phlox, or cleaning under Harvey’s bunny cage on the deck.  Not in the pouring rain.  Good thing my house is loaded with unfinished projects.

I had 2 bags of carded fleece that I was saving to make these felted owls from Woolbuddy. Although I want to make mine with mostly natural colors and just a few bright touches.

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Three Sunny Days.

Posted on | January 23, 2015 | 4 Comments

Day One:  Are You Kidding Me?

I was shocked when I saw the sun.

But I wasn’t going to stand around waiting for it to disappear.  As soon as the morning cleaning was done, I hit the garden.  For weeks I haven’t made it to garden before dark.  Instead I show up with a flashlight, rummaging under the frost covers for kale, spinach, green onions, broccoli, or chard.  You know, all the ingredients I meant to pick before the sun set and before I started making dinner, but that I forgot until the olive oil was already sizzling in the pan, the soup was simmering and needed a bit of green to freshen it up, or I needed a side dish that didn’t come out of a box with a packet of powdered cheese.  Blindly cutting greens in the freezing dark is not really so bad.  Touching the slugs that you can’t see in the dark is bad.  Very bad. Read more

Fan Club.

Posted on | January 17, 2015 | 6 Comments

Look who stopped by.

That’s right.  One of my good friends left her 3 year old son, Luke, with me while she took care of some business in town.  Luckily, I still have one closet shelf and one drawer filled with toys for the Under 5 crowd.  The pickings were slim but even though the Rescue Heroes only got a quizzical glance, Thomas the Tank Engine and his cronies were instantly recognized.

“Got more Thomas?” Luke asked sweetly, pulling 3 little engines from the drawer.

I refrained from mentioning how the insipid Thomas the Tank Engine videos made me want to drive off a bridge and the merchandising made me want to either burn down the Mattel executive offices or just fill their every inch of workable space with expensive train tables covered with non-interchangeable track systems.

“No, honey, just those ones,” I said.  We burned the rest of them at the stake. Read more

Be Careful.

Posted on | January 8, 2015 | 1 Comment

I know the news anchors tell you to make sure your pets are taken care of during cold temperatures.  And they encourage you to bring pets, including dogs, inside when it’s below freezing.

Be careful.  Very, very careful.

Because your pet may just decide to nap in the sunny spot in front of the wood stove.

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A Lucky New Year.

Posted on | December 31, 2014 | 5 Comments

First I carried eight 50lb feed bags out to the barn.  Then I separated Autumn, the October goat kid, from her mom for the first time so we could milk Allie in the morning.  It’s time to dry off Vanessa so Allie needs to pitch in and do her share.  I’m not exactly sure what I did in the barn after that because the sounds of Autumn screaming in the kidding barn drowned out all reasonable thought.

The Other Half and Pretty left to go hunting and Big headed outside to practice with the throwing knives he got for Christmas.  Me and Little had cereal for dinner and then I headed out to drop off Middle at a friend’s house, hit the gym for a quick workout, and stop by Home Depot for a replacement for the downstairs toilet handle that broke off in the afternoon.  Just a regular evening in the scheme of things.

Except when I arrived at the gym, it was closed.  And so was the Home Depot.  Apparently, it was a holiday.  New Year’s Eve.


Are people still doing that? Read more

Turkey TMI.

Posted on | December 25, 2014 | 2 Comments

If you don’t want to know how that turkey made it to your Christmas dinner table, stop reading now.  Right now.

But if you’re curious, if you wonder how it happens, if you want to try it yourself (bless your heart), then go ahead and keep reading.  Because it’s not that hard.   It’s not that bad.  And I’m not just saying that because I’ve had to do much more horrible things.  Things like steal cud from one goat’s cheek and tube it into another goat’s rumen.  Or peel a live duck out from under one side of a fence panel while trying to keep her breast meat attached, minus the strips the dogs were peeling off from their side of the fence.  Or cart off 8 inches of boot-sucking muck in the pig pen while said pigs were trying to turn over each shovelful as I scooped it.  It’s not as bad as all that.

Which makes it easy.  Probably.  Maybe.

I may not be a good judge of “easy” anymore.

In any case, it starts out just fine.  When the poults arrived they were nothing but fuzz and fluff.

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A Pony Christmas.

Posted on | December 24, 2014 | No Comments

No, we didn’t get another pony.  One fat hay-gobbling Shetland is quite enough, thank you.  But this post is about C.C. and this special time of year.  Special for her, not because she’s anxiously awaiting the babe in a manger, but because she got another unexpected arrival.


Joe is a Jacob ram.  He came to breed my Suffolk/Welsh cross ewes.  We’ve never had lambs born here before because, unlike dairy goats, sheep don’t need to give birth to make their farm contribution.  Without kids, goats don’t give milk.  But sheep provide wool whether they’re male or female, bred or open.  I had actually decided we would never breed the sheep because:

1.  I don’t have any experience with bred sheep and new experiences can be traumatic, exhausting and/or deadly on the farm.

2.  I already had adult sheep in nice range of natural colors—white, black, brown, and 1 wether that carried a mix of tan, gray, and white all swirled together.

3.  When I got the sheep, I promised The Other Half that if I had 4 sheep of various colors, we would never need any more.  And I think he believed me.  Probably.  Maybe.  Sucker. Read more

AIM High.

Posted on | December 16, 2014 | 6 Comments

High school has been a new experience for us.  But some things never change in the public school system.  Some things are as predictable as pizza in the school cafeteria on Fridays.  Like the poor secretary left holding the bag in the front office.  You know, the one facing a long line of irritated parents while the administrators cower behind closed doors.  Whatever that job pays, it can’t be enough.  Not even close.

This week I arrived in the office to pick up Big for an orthodontist appointment.  Several parents (by “parents”, I mean “mothers”, of course) were already in front of the beleaguered secretary, looking confused.  The secretary was explaining that all the students were in AIM and as soon as each mother told her which room her child was in, the child could be called down to the office and checked out.  This was confusing because knowing which room the children were in kind of seemed like something the front office would know.  But, then again, the children were in AIM.

AIM is a new high school program and stands for Aim, Impact & Achieve.  For 25 minutes near the end of the day the students have an opportunity to attend tutoring, listen to career education, collaborate on projects in the media center, study in quiet rooms, or exercise in the gym.  Meeting in the cafeteria for socializing had to be immediately removed from the AIM opportunity choices because it was, obviously, the most popular.  Which was only fine if the school was AIMing for violating the cafeteria’s capacity fire code.  Although I’m not sure why meeting in the cafeteria got such a bad rap.  It’s high school, people.  Every single one of these options turns into socializing. Read more

Halloween Chocolate.

Posted on | November 5, 2014 | 1 Comment

Well, Halloween came and went and all I got was a few fun-size Snickers out of the kids’ treat bag.  Which are not as fun as one would think.  Unless your idea of fun is a nice, hard tease.  The kind of tease that says, “Mmmm, isn’t this fun?  Imagine how much fun a full-size Snickers bar would be? Can you imagine that?  Well, can you?  Hey, there’s your car keys….”

Luckily there was some bonus chocolate.  That’s right, the Copper Maran pullets laid their first eggs on Halloween weekend.  So the nest box was full of chocolate eggs.  Here they are next to Mattie’s, the Buff Laced Polish, white egg.

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Posted on | October 31, 2014 | 1 Comment

There’s no way of knowing who will live and who will die.  But, for sure, some aren’t going to make it.

That’s the kind of Halloween we’re having this Friday.

Apparently Mother Nature decided to dress up as Jack Frost.  By the time the goblins go to bed and the sun comes up on Saturday morning, temperatures should be in the 30’s.

Which means it’s the end of the line for some of the veggies in the garden.  But which ones will survive is up for grabs.  Sometimes the neighbors will get a hard frost on their lawn and we’ll still have only dew in the garden.  Sometimes the trees on our property do a lot to block the worst of the weather for the first 2 rows of the garden, but sometimes it’s not enough.  A strong wind that night may prevent frost from sticking.  Or the wind may blow away whatever we use to try and cover the plants, leaving them fully exposed.  The meteorologist may be completely wrong and the kids will be sweating in their costumes.  Really, who knows?

It all reminds me of that adorable sloth, Belt, in the movie The Croods.  Faced with upcoming disaster, destruction, and even death, he lets out an excited, barely scared, mostly cheerful “Duh duh duuuuh!”

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