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Boys!

Well the first set of twins are here and they are boys.

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Cotton delivered them late yesterday afternoon with no drama or fanfare.  First one, and then a few minutes later the other.  I had noticed her distracted behaviour, and had her all set up in a nice little pen.

Both boys were drinking before I knew it, and they have settled in to their new home just fine.

They spent today trying out their new legs,

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and then having a nice long nap.

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It is such a good feeling, once they are born and doing well.

Two more to go!

Any Day Now

Yesterday morning began with the most beautiful sunrise.

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I had a busy day planned.  Sherman the ram has been here all winter, and it was time for him to go home.

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Brother Dan arrived to give me a hand.  Usually we lead a sheep to  the back of my truck, lift their front legs up, and then lift their back legs up.  Sherman is a pretty big fellow though, and we didn’t want to hurt ourselves, so this time we planned to use a ramp to load him.

Now I have to tell you, I don’t have a proper loading ramp.  Brother Dan had brought a removable ramp up, and we proceed to add and subtract from it until we had something that  we thought would work.  Of course we had to try loading Sherman each step along the way, with each attempt failing, until we finally figured out something that would work.

Isn’t this a beautiful loading ramp?  Wouldn’t anyone want to use this?

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Sherman was very patient with us, and was always willing to try once more.  This ramp must have met with his approval because with a little encouragement he made his way up and into the back of the truck.

I finally accepted that it is time to build a proper loading ramp.  No more makeshift loading jobs.

The sheep are due to have their lambs any day now.  They have gotten so big, it is hard for them to get comfortable.

Here is the view from behind,

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and from the front.  Her head looks so small compared to her body.  How many lambs do you think are in there?

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So now I watch and wait.  I have three ewes this spring, Cotton, Abby and PJ.  I am hoping for easy, uncomplicated births resulting in healthy lambs.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

 

Well here it is, March already.  The weather is very unpredictable, winter isn’t over yet but every now and then I get a glimpse of spring.

Our daily walks are just as unpredictable.  Some days the snow is so soft  or so icy, it is hard to walk. Other days it is just perfect.

Some days our walks are quiet and uneventful.  Other days something wonderful and unexpected happens.

Today’s walked started out quiet and uneventful.  The dogs found new smells to check out.

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The sky to the east was a stormy spring sky, and the sky to the west was a cold, clear winter sky.

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We walked past one of my favorite poplar groves,

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and that’s when it happened, something wonderful and unexpected.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move through the woods on my left.

I stopped walking and started to search the trees.  It was hard to see, but eventually I found it.  Can you?

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Want to get a little closer?

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Isn’t that something wonderful and unexpected?  I thought it would fly away, but it just sat there staring at me.

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The Great Grey Owl.

I say “the” because this owl lives on and around the farm.  We often see him hunting in the fields and sitting on the fence posts, but this is the closest I have ever been to him.  Or maybe it is her, I don’t know.

I always enjoy heading out on our daily walk, especially because I just never know what I will see.

 

 

 

When I was growing up it was not unusual to see a kitchen table covered with jars filled with food.  Mom canned fruits, vegetables, meat, pickles and all sorts of jams and jellies.  Over the years I have dabbled a bit with canning, but I have never had a pantry filled with food in jars.

When I came across this blog post Food In Jars I decided to accept the challenge and try a different method of food preserving every month this year.

January is Marmalade.

I have never made marmalade before.  I don’t eat it very often, but I do remember consuming quite a lot during a month-long visit to England and Scotland.

I decided to go with a Pink Grapefruit Marmalade.  I thought it might be a pretty colour.

Of course I hadn’t actually chosen a recipe before I went shopping, so yesterday when I started preparing, I realized I didn’t have enough grapefruits.  No problem, I just added some lemons and one orange.

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The first step was to remove the zest from the fruit.  I tried using a vegetable peeler, a paring knife,and  a cheese slicer before I found the perfect tool…a grater.

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It removed the zest and sliced it up into thin strips, all at once.  Perfect!  I managed to grate the zest off all the fruit without adding any skin or blood from my fingers.

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I put the zest into a pot of water and let it simmer away while I removed the seeds, the pith and the membranes from the fruit.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  The grapefruit wasn’t too bad, but I have to confess I didn’t have much success with the orange and the lemons. (I did have a little chuckle to myself though, everytime I thought about getting that pith off.)

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I decided I didn’t like the look of the orange and yellow fruit so I took it out.  Let’s just stick with pink grapefruit!

By the time I finished picking the fruit apart, the zest was done simmering.  I poured the liquid off using a sieve and was left with just zest.

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Now it was time to actually make the marmalade.  I put the zest, the fruit and four cups of the zest liquid into a pot with six, yes six cups of sugar.  Onto the stove it went.  Now the recipe said to cook it for 30 to 40 minutes until it began to set.  Well, I cooked mine for 90 minutes and it still looked like runny syrup.  (I forgot to take a picture of it cooking in the pot.)

I decided to stop cooking and process it anyway.

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Six jars of marmalade went into the canner and…

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three and a bit jars came out.

Now I know what you are thinking.  How can that be?  And look the lids look different too!

Well the six jars that originally went in came out so runny that today I poured them back into a pot, added the juice from a lemon (more pectin needed apparently) and recooked the marmalade.

After the recooking I was left with three and a bit jars.

Three and a bit jars of lovely, set, delicious, pink grapefruit marmalade.

My first attempt at food in jars.

Next month is salt preserving…stay tuned!

 

Well here it is again, the end of another year.

I am not making any “resolutions” but there is one thing I would like to accomplish this year.

Many years ago I attended a wedding where the bride was a very creative person.  She created beautiful stained glass pieces, and wove lovely blankets and towels.  At the wedding her friend sat down beside me and we had the following conversation.  Well, maybe conversation is stretching it a bit, it felt like more of an interrogation.

Do you weave? No. Do you knit? No. Do you sew? No. Are you into pottery? No. Do you do stained glass? No. Do you crochet? No.

Eventually she looked at me with sad eyes and said, “Well maybe someday you will find something you can do.”

I felt like such a failure.  I was not creative.

Since I moved to Morris Brook Farm, I have both the time and the opportunity to explore my creative side.  I am starting to wonder, though, if it actually exists.

I have four years worth of wool waiting for me, in the crawl space above my kitchen.

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In four years I have made one (yes, only one) wool quilt.IMG_0001_10

I have been learning to spin for four years.

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I have made one wool felt angel, and it looks like something a kindergarten child would make, only a lot more scary.

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I have tried dying wool, but only once or twice.

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I have dreamed about making wool felt purses, placemats, slippers, and lots of other things.  I am very good at planning and researching all sorts of creative projects, but I never follow through and do them.

So I am wondering…is creativity something you are born with, or can it be learned and developed?  Can you become creative?

I read a post the other day by a fellow blogger who wanted to be a faster reader.

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After reading his post I realized why I am such a fast and prolific reader.  It is because I do it.  I read a lot and always have.  I have gotten very good at it, simply because I do it often.

That got me thinking.  Maybe I could get good at the creative things I want to do.  All I would have to do is actually do them.  I will never get good at spinning if I only do it for 15 minutes every couple of weeks.  Imagine how long it would take me to read a book if I read like that.  The same goes for felting, or dying wool.  Trying it once or twice a year will not produce anything, other than frustration (because I am not good at it) and disappointment (because it never turns out well).

So while I am not making any actual New Year’s resolutions, I am making a commitment to myself to do something with all this wool. A commitment to put the time in to learn whether creativity is something I have (or not) been born with, or something I can (or can’t) learn.

Creativity, is it nature or nurture?

If it is nurture, then by the end of the year I will have learned to spin, felt, quilt, and will have something to show for it.

If it is nature, then the bags of wool will be used for dog and cat bedding, and the spinning wheel will be on Kijiji.

Nature or nurture…what do you think?

Happy New Year everyone!

 

A Gift of a Day

Well, I was right.  Don’t you just love it when you can say that.  The snow has gone away, and today the sun came out and we all had an unexpected gift of a day.

The cows were soaking it up.

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The sheep were out grazing again.

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Emma relaxed in the unexpected warmth,

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and Odin was back out on the grass trying (unsuccessfully) to keep his eyes open.

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Howard found a special spot on an old black truck liner,

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and Henry just sprawled out on the driveway.

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I took advantage of the sun and warmth and got my hands into the dirt.  A week or so ago I bought some spring bulbs on sale, and I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get them planted this year.  They’re in now.

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I also spent time in the garden (On November 23rd!) and got one bed all set up with hoops, ready for the spring.

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We also enjoyed another long walk through the meadows,

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and through the trees,

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all on bare ground.

It was an unexpected, beautiful day.

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A gift of a day.

 

I knew it was coming.  It was so enjoyable, the warm days, the long walks in the fields and bush, the feeling that maybe this would go on all winter.  I even put off rolling up the last hose, and picking up all those things I didn’t want buried until spring.  I was just enjoying the long fall so much, and then it arrived,

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the first snowfall.

The cows were standing around the feeder looking kind of dejected.

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It snowed hard all morning.

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It started to look quite pretty.

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Odin gave up his spot on the grass by the front gate and moved onto the deck.

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He seemed quite pensive, watching the snow fall. Winter is his favorite time of year.

In the early afternoon, the snow quit and I had to sit down and watch the clouds. (Yes, I confess, sometimes I just sit and watch the clouds float by.)  They were very interesting today.  The clouds along the top of the mountain were moving to the east.  At the same time, the mist along the bottom of the mountain was moving to the west.  It was quite fascinating.

Want to see?

Eventually the sun came out and by the end of the afternoon the snow was dripping off the roof.  I don’t think it is here to stay yet.  There will be a few more walks on the bare ground.

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It won’t be too long though, and it will be back.