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Kids for SALE!

Goat kids, that is :)  We have four kids ready to go to new homes – one buck, three does.  In July we’ll have 2 wethers and another buck weaned and ready to go.  I may be selling some of our older does in milk come mid-summer – still trying to decide on what to do about that.  But here are some pictures of the ones you can take home as soon as you can get the money out of the bank and drive here!

First is Fennel, the buck. He was born on February 24, 2017, to Petunia.  Petunia is our oldest living doe, born on our farm in 2010.  She has turned 7 this year.  Most years she has had triplets, and also had quads one year.  She’s been a good producer of milk for us over the years, and was our highest producer when she was younger.

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Next up – Hydrangea.  She is such a beautiful little girl – black with lots of moon spots!  She’s only the 2nd black kid Petunia has ever had.  (Dandelion was the first, but that was way back in 2011.)  Born 2/24/2017.  Sister of Fennel, above.

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The next two were both born to Dandelion on 2/20/2017.  As stated above, Dandelion is one of Petunia’s kids, born in 2011 here on our farm.  She’s been a great milker, also, with a butter-soft udder and good-sized teats, and is very easy to milk.  She has produced mostly triplets like her mother.  This year we’re keeping one of her kids because she’ll be retired in 2 years, probably, and I want one that looks like her to continue that bloodline.  (The one we’re keeping is a blue roan with moon spots.  Look for her kids next year.)

So here is Sweet Pea.  A cute little doe.  She’s a little more plain – not all the flashy moon spots, but she’ll still be a great milk goat when she grows up.  Sorry for the poor picture.  Somehow she lost her collar, which made it difficult to get her to stand still.

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And then Moonflower.  Wow!  Just wow!  Look at all those spots!  I’m expecting she’ll be the first to go, so if you want her, speak quickly!

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Here is her registration paper.  Lineage for Sweet Pea is the same as Moonflower’s since they are sisters.

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If you are interested in buying any of these kids, please email me at farmerinodell@gmail.com.

Permaculture – What is it?

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I don’t remember when I first heard about permaculture.  I want to say it’s been about 4 years, but don’t hold me to that.  Nearly 20 years ago when my husband and I started dreaming about moving out the country we began some research into what we wanted to do with whatever land we’d have.  We subscribed to Mother Earth News and Countryside.  Then the internet grew and we were able to learn even more.  When I first read the word, permaculture, I thought this was a new concept.

From the little bit I saw it looked like it might be a way to eventually reduce the amount of physical labor we’d have to put into our homesteading and still have enough to feed ourselves.  Since I was in my mid-40’s and starting to get tired of all the work, I needed to know more.  Is there a way to do this easier?  So I found what I could on the internet.  I bought a couple of books at the Mid-America Homesteading Conference that my friend, Deborah, had started putting on a year or two earlier.  I discovered there is a small permaculture community not too far from my house and I was following their activities online.  But at that point I was only looking at techniques – mulch, companion planting, using chickens to till your garden, etc.

IMG_4348Finally the name, Geoff Lawton, arrived in my world.  I started watching some of his videos.  He worked around the world helping regenerate depleted farms and the results were impressive.  At the end of 2014 I got the announcement for the online Permaculture Design Course he was doing in 2015.  I was excited, because the other PDCs I saw required you to go a permaculture farm and live for a week or two while taking classes and doing projects.  And they’re not cheap.  That’s not to diminish their value, but it wasn’t an option for us at that time – leaving our children with someone for a week to go a couple of counties away, or for two weeks to go to Australia to study under Geoff.  So this was right up my alley.  I could study at home in the mornings before the children got up and I’d never have to leave.  And the course was a little less costly since they wouldn’t be providing room and board for that time.  Still it was an investment.  I got Keith’s approval and signed up.  And now I’m starting week four of my second PDC with Geoff to deepen my understanding.  There is a lot to learn.  The course is 20 weeks long this year and takes a minimum of 2-3 hours per week to just watch the videos once.  Then there is online discussion, a Facebook page just for students for more discussion, and of course, you can always dig in even deeper.  I am SO glad I’ve taken this class because I get the “why” behind the “how” and you find out the “how” is much more complex yet flexible than I thought.

So – what IS permaculture?  The term was coined by Bill Mollison (recently deceased), a lecturer at Hobart University, and one of his students, David Holmgren, in the early 1970s.  Bill’s book Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual was published in 1988.  The PDCs that are currently being taught are built on what is contained in that book.  Geoff Lawton learned about permaculture directly from Bill Mollison and they worked together for a long time.

The concept and techniques that are permaculture were created to address the worldwide soil degradation that was occurring as a result of modern industrial-level agriculture.  It looks to natural sustainable ecosystems as an example of how to rebuild soil and grow crops.  It uses diverse landscapes involving plants, animals, and humans to accomplish this.  Let me share a little of what I’ve learned so far in this PDC.

Lesson 1 is an Introduction, and I’ve actually already shared some from that lesson.  THE most important thing about permaculture are the 3 Ethics.  These are the basis for design, as the design should always refer back to the ethics.  Earth Care is the first.  The designer must insure that all living and non-living things in the environment we are working with are carefully considered.  The goal is to enhance and preserve, not degrade or deplete.  People Care reminds us to look out for each other.  We need to promote self-reliance as well as take on some responsibility for our community by not exploiting or abandoning.  Return of Surplus is the result of good design – so much abundance that we are able to return it to the earth in such ways as composting, feeding animals, or shared with people.  Keeping the 3 Ethics in mind gives a solid foundation allowing us to help the environment AND the well-being of people. We look to the “old” ways – how traditional people lived off the land sustainably, and we merge that knowledge with newer methods and technology to achieve the desired end.  We use nature as a model, not a thing to control.

Permaculture can be used anywhere and on any scale.  35,000 square kilometers in the Loess Plateau of China have been completely regenerated.  If you go to Geoff Lawton’s website (www.geofflawtononline.com) and click on “Videos”, look for “Greening the Desert”.  It can also be applied in farms of many acres, in rural, suburban, and urban backyards – or front yards, rooftops, abandoned lots, and so on.  The design is customized to the property’s size, location, climate, and inhabitants.

One of the main goals is to maximize the use of water on the property before it leaves the property by directing through multiple places so it is conserved and retained in the soil, thereby increasing production.

Guilds can be formed, which is kind of like companion planting on steroids.  Instead of just ‘carrots love tomatoes’, you can create a small community of plants that all help each other, with permanence as the goal.  For example:  A highbush cranberry, surrounded by 4 fruit trees and 4 hazelnut trees, planted alternately.  Then in between and around these you put spring bulbs to hold nutrient that spring rains would wash away.  Horseradish, comfrey, evening primrose, and milk vetch help bring up minerals from deep in the soil making them available to the fruit trees.  Garlic and chives are used in cooking and can be used to make sprays to ward off pests.  You can also add strawberries in the sunny places, and wild ginger in the shady places.  Asparagus goes around the edges with lemon balm and even lettuce interplanted to be used when the asparagus retires for the summer.  Other flowering herbs like dill, coriander, fennel, and yarrow can be placed around edges to attract beneficial insects – pollinators and predators.  This guild will take up from 20′ – 60′ in diameter, depending on whether you use standard or semi-dwarf fruit trees.  Look at the beauty of this system.  You have multiple crop plants that all help each other in a beautiful set up that won’t need a lot of care once established.  They are all perennials that will keep on giving year after year.  Eventually you will probably have to dig up some of the extra herbs and bulbs to keep the system from being chaotic.  You could give these to friends to plant in their yards, or sell the plants at a farmer’s market in the spring for people to do the same.  This is much more beautiful, and much less work than keeping your herbs in one place, your fruit trees in another (with grass that needs to be mowed), your other perennial food plants in another – generally taking up more space.

Lesson 2 is on Concepts and Themes.  It starts to put a little meat on the bones of the introductory ideas.  Permaculture is based on science – laboratory and life sciences.  We learn here that we need to use scientific tools such as soil testing, finding out the slope and contour of the land, discovering the micro-climate details of the property being designed (sun placement, wind speed and directions throughout the year, how much precipitation the property gets, temperatures throughout the year), and more.  But we also need to spend a lot of time walking the property and observing.  What animals are there?  How does the water flow through?  What is adjoining the property?  Talking to neighbors and other people in the area gives an idea of the long-term picture of the area.  This is especially important when someone is moving to a new place.  If you are redesigning a place you’ve lived for several years, you may already know a lot of this.  Or not.  Maybe you never paid attention before.  Now’s the time to start!

The most surprising thing is that there are no exact rules, unlike so many other gardening/homesteading things you’ve learned about.  Permaculture is very flexible.  The goal is to keep putting back the excess into the system to improve the soil and conditions of the plants and animals and people living there.  If you have too much of anything, eat it, store it, feed it to livestock, sell it, or if there’s nothing else, then compost it.  Often you can just compost in place.  Just cut the extra down and lay it on the ground for mulch.  As it breaks down it feeds the soil and everything in it.

I think that’s enough for now.  In a week or so I’ll post on Lesson 3, which is so rich in information that it’s taking two weeks to get through!

 

100_4432Cheryl Zacek is a homeschooling mother of 8 (and grandmother to one) who has been married to her high school sweetheart, Keith, for over 30 years.  They live on 1.65 acres in central Illinois where they seek to grow as much food as possible with the space they have, while raising dairy goats, heritage hogs, ducks, and chickens – not to mention making goat milk soap and other personal care products.  Cheryl is also available on a limited basis for permaculture consulting.  You can read more about them at www.farmerinodell.com, find Farmer in Odell on Facebook, or email at farmerinodell@gmail.com.

 

Building a Cob Oven

On Saturday, April 2, I went to my friend’s place to help with building a cob oven.  My friends are Mike and Deborah Boehle, of Antiquity Oaks.  She put out a general message to those who might be interested in learning how to do this, and I, along with about a dozen other people, answered!

Cob building has fascinated me for a while.  The fact that you can mix together clay, sand, and water together, and then build stuff – as small as an outdoor oven, to as big as a house – is intriguing.  And I wanted to be in on this project.

Mike and Deborah had already planned this project with Jane, who has built and helped others build such things – so she was the project manager.

IMG_0116Earlier in the week, Mike had poured a concrete base, and when I arrived, he was putting the final layer of the brick base on.  He’d purchased these nifty-shaped bricks, and they were held together with construction adhesive to help prevent heaving and shifting over the years of freezing and thawing.  He also used a ratchet strap to help keep it together while waiting for the whole thing to dry.

Once that was done, the next step was to fill the brick base with empty bottles.  The Boehles, as well as others, had been saving wine bottles, Snapple bottles, beer bottles, applesauce jars – any kind of glass bottle they could.  I thought it looked like way too many, but I underestimated how many bottles it would take to fill that base!  IMG_0118We all worked together to fit the bottles in as tight as possible – biggest bottles on the outside, then the smaller ones.  It’s like a puzzle without a picture to guide you.  The bottles are there for insulation value, and to reduce how much sand is needed.  Once the base was filled, then sand was added to fill in the space between the jars and brought up to about 4″ below the edge of the bricks.IMG_0119

Then began our first cob making.  A tarp was brought over.  Bags of clay and sand were opened.  A hose was made ready.  Sand and clay were dumped on the tarp – about a 5-gal bucket of each – little bits at a time, while water was squirted over them.  Then the mixing began, first by using the tarp – lifting the sides alternately, dumping the mixture back and forth.  Then feet were used.  With boots on.  IMG_0120I’ve not mentioned yet, that it was crazy windy – about 30 mph winds, with stronger gusts – and only around 40 degrees.  Bare feet in wet cob was not going to happen.  After the first batch we got smart and started folding the tarp over the mixture and then stomping on it that way, in order to keep the mess off our shoes or boots.  When the cob was “right” as determined by Project Manager Jane, then it was placed on top of the sand, up to the level of the bricks and leveled.  Then another slightly raised area was made in the center.  This was to be the oven floor.  IMG_0121The dimensions had all been pre-figured by Jane and were based on the size of the base.  Once the oven floor was leveled and smoothed, it was covered by wet newspaper.  The reason for this was to protect it for the next step, as well as to help later.  I’ll get to that in a moment.IMG_0140

IMG_0143After the paper was in place, damp sand was then piled on top of the papered oven floor in a large dome.  (Again, the size of the dome had already been determined by Jane using a cob oven calculator for maximum stability and such.)  The point of the sand dome is to provide support for the cob dome.  When we were almost done with that, some of the group started to make more cob.  Jane had decided that we had enough time left before the coming lunch break to get the first thin layer of cob over the paper-covered sand dome.  With the wind being so bad, things dried out quickly.  By getting this layer on now, the paper would be covered and couldn’t dry out while we were eating lunch and warming up.  So, that was accomplished, we covered it all with a tarp that was secured with logs and cinder blocks – and we went in to eat lunch and thaw out!IMG_0144IMG_0147

(BTW – we had a wonderful lunch!  Deborah made quiche and Tim brought a vegetarian chili.  Oh, and there was an afternoon snack of creme brulee pie and banana bread!)

After lunch, hot tea and coffee and some fun conversations, it was back to work.  The cob making continued.  We took turns making cob and continuing to cover the dome.  The extra bottles that didn’t fit in the base were put around the sides for additional insulation.  IMG_0149After that layer of regular cob was on, it was time for the final layer.  This time sawdust was added to the mixture.  The purpose of that is that the sawdust will slowly burn away, leaving small insulating holes throughout that final layer.  So again, we split into two groups – three or four people would make cob while the rest put it on the dome.  Finally – it was done!IMG_0151

There was going to be a final, thin, decorative layer of regular cob put over it all.  But it was late in the afternoon, and everyone was tired.  The decorative layer was going to have to wait until the next day, and most of the helpers wouldn’t be there.  Jane decided that it would be ok to just make the decorations with the little bit of leftover cob.  After discussing it with the Boehle’s intern, Stephanie, it was decided to just make a recessed design instead of raised.  IMG_0154So Jane got to work making the outline of the sun design, then I worked on finishing it while she worked on the door opening to fit the door Mike had built.IMG_0156

By early evening, it was done as much as it could be for the time being.  It needs to dry out for a week or two.  Then the sand will all be dug out.  The newspaper under the sand dome and over it is the signal of when to stop digging.  Then small fires will be built in it daily for a few days or so to finish drying it out.  Then it will be ready to start baking in.  The Boehles plan to use it for all their summer baking.  I look forward to seeing how that all works out.

By the way – because the oven is made of earth, it needs to be protected from driving rain, which would eventually wear it down and wash it away.  Some people use a tarp, others a permanent shelter, others a box they put around it.  I don’t know what they’re going to do yet at Antiquity Oaks, but if I remember, I’ll let you know when they have it figured out.

Today’s Harvest

I haven’t been in the garden since last week, I think.  At that time I saw that there was some broccoli that could be picked, beans were flowering, beets needed some thinning.  Today.  Well, today there was lots more!  Lots of broccoli, a few small heads of cauliflower, peas – still peas in August!  A testament to the cool summer.  Our first beans – two kinds.  Several large kohlrabi, chard, our first eggplant, some tomatoes, more onions.  This is the time of year when it seems everything is ready at once!  We are blessed, indeed :)

P.S. – I know the picture of the broccoli looks fake.  That’s what happened when my cell phone used the flash.  Weird.  But I promise the broccoli is real – not computer-generated!

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Garden Pics

I don’t have much to say.  What do you say when your whole life is eating, farm work, and the summer children’s community theater?  One more week….  So back to the farm!  I thought I’d post some pics of the very early development of the straw bale garden.  Radishes, beans, and zucchini are the first sprouters.  I think there are some beets coming up.  It’s very exciting :)  The “kale” garden is doing well.  It’s in quotes because there are also eggplant and onions and a few herbs in there, though they haven’t come up well.  I noticed that there are little green tomatoes alreadyIMG_3008 IMG_3007 IMG_3005 IMG_3004 IMG_3003 and just for fun, I threw in one of the area that is quickly becoming my Monarch butterfly garden :)  Over the years I’ve been allowing milkweed to grow wherever it pops up to help the Monarchs.

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Tending the Gardens

Keith tilled the unplanted part of the kale garden on Saturday.  Tasha and I filled in the many gaps with new seed.  Today I planted marigolds at the end of the rows just to make it pretty – and maybe they’ll repel bad bugs.  We also got the eggplants in, which are in the middle of that garden with onions.  I’m not sure what to do with the other empty section…  This morning we did some weeding in “the other” garden.  Not perfect, but it will slow things down a it.  I assessed what’s growing and what’s not and will have to do some replanting there, too, but it’s not as bad as I thought.  In places.  Planting early this year definitely didn’t help as much as I thought it would.  Every year is a new adventure!

Here are some pics from Saturday’s replanting session.

My planting tools: some cool tea, new kale seeds, and popsicle sticks to mark where the new seeds went.

My planting tools: some cool tea, new kale seeds, and popsicle sticks to mark where the new seeds went.

This is part of a row that's not too bad - just a few gaps to re-seed.

This is part of a row that’s not too bad – just a few gaps to re-seed.

This row - not so good.  Just one plant.  I think I used old seed in this row.

This row – not so good. Just one plant. I think I used old seed in this row.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

If you live in the USA, you’ve probably heard this saying.  As an aside, I can’t think of this saying without thinking of this little joke:  If April showers bring May flowers, than what do Mayflowers bring?  Pilgrims! 😉

So back to the flowers…  Our April was relatively rainy.  Especially last week at the very end of the month.  And it did seem to help bring about some new flowers!  I know I haven’t finished my series on the small farm workshops, but today I just wanted to take a few minutes to share some pictures of the flowers that are currently in bloom on our farm.

Bradford PearThis Bradford was bought at Aldi for $5 at the end of our first spring here – 15 years ago.  I thought I had a great deal.  A whole fruit tree for only $5!  Unfortunately I found when reading the tag on our way home that it produces “insignificant fruit”.  After a few years we figured what that meant.  The pears are about the size of my pinky fingernail.  But it’s better than the dead maple that was there before!

May Day giftThese flowers were delivered to us on May Day by a dear friend and her children.  Hannah put them in our hanging pots out back.

Nanking Bush Cherry

 

 

 

This is our Nanking Bush Cherry.  The first cherry tree we bought didn’t survive the massive 2-year Japanese Beetle invasion a few years after we planted it.  It only produced a handful of cherries and died.  A few years ago we planted this bush cherry instead.  I figured it was small enough that we could cover it with some kind of netting, if needed, to keep other critters from eating the fruit on us.  This is the FIRST time it’s flowered!  So, maybe we’ll get a few cherries this year.

ForsythiaForsythia.  We have several of these along the driveway.  Last year I took a beautiful picture of them on the other side of the drive.  This is the only one that is halfway blooming this year.  Not quite as impressive as last year, but better than nothing.

DaffodilDaffodil.  No big story here.  Just one of bulbs we’ve planted over the years.  I love daffodils.  They’re so cheery :)

Chives with budsThis doesn’t quite count as a flower – yet.  But the little brownish buds in the chives will be purple flowers in a few days.  The chives look amazing this year.  Tall and full.  Perfect for putting in goat cheese!

DandelionAnd, of course, the humble, perennial dandelion!  I know that there is an ongoing war on the poor dandelion, especially in the cities and suburbs.  But I’ve always liked them.  My moms’ yard was the only one on our block with dandelions because we didn’t have the money to spend on killing them on a routine basis.  My best friend’s mom once light-heartedly laughed about all the “pretty yellow flowers” we had in our yard.  We like them around here.  They brighten up the lawn.  They are also well-loved by goats and pigs.  The other day I had some greens in my lunch salad, and I think I’m going to have the children pick some flowers later so we can make fritters with them.  I did it once about 10 years ago.  Quite yummy, actually!

 

Happy Mother's DayAnd last, but not least!  As I was putting this together, Hannah brought me this little bouquet of wildflowers as an early Mother’s Day gift.  One day they’ll all be grown up and won’t bring me flowers so often and I’ll miss it so much!  But, by then I hope to  have lots of grandchildren to do it instead.

Have a great week, and take some time to at least look at the flowers, if not smell them!

 

Our Day

Here are a few pictures I’ve taken today.  Just a snippet of life around here.

This was the surprise that met me in the barn today.  Nightshade's first kid, Morning Glory

This was the surprise that met me in the barn today. Nightshade’s first kid, Morning Glory

I'm making 3 more lip balm flavors and needed more small, round baskets, which is why I went to the thrift store in the first place.

I’m making 3 more lip balm flavors and needed more small, round baskets, so I went to the thrift store. $1 for all three!

Others posted today on facebook about their asparagus.  So I went to check mine out - it's growing!

Others posted today on facebook about their asparagus. So I went to check mine out – it’s growing!

Not as many blooms as last year, but I'll take them anyway!

Forsythia – Not as many blooms as last year, but I’ll take them anyway!

 

I found this basket at a thrift store.  It's PERFECT for my table at farmer's markets!

I found this basket too – for $3. It’s PERFECT for my table at farmer’s market!

Dandelion’s New Kids

Dandelion's doe kid, Black-Eyed Susan

Meet Black-Eyed Susan

TWINS!!

Dandelion’s due date is tomorrow, so I was checking on her today after the Farm Crawl meeting we had at Deborah’s.  I didn’t want to have the same thing happen to her kids, as happened to Petunia’s last month.  Specifically, they were born over night and when I went out to do chores, they were all dead from hypothermia.  It’s truly been a horrible winter, and I have a blog post planned on that subject.  But, TODAY we rejoice!!

When I went in the barn, I saw one kid standing there, a little wet.  I went inside and changed into barn clothes, grabbed two towels and a hair dryer.  Then I announced, “BABY GOAT!” to the children.  Grabbed the camera and went outside.  It turns out that there were 2 kids, and I’m pretty certain they are both does.  I say “pretty certain” because I didn’t look super carefully because they were very cold.  We toweled them off and then started warming and drying them with the hair dryer.  One is black, and one is brown.  Both have various white markings on them.  The black one was standing up and doing pretty well.  The brown one was just lying down and shivering pretty badly.  But, after about 15 minutes of blow drying, she perked up and was trying to nurse on my coat sleeve, so I helped her get to her mother and she nursed well, for a first-timer.  I tried to get the black one to eat, but she wasn’t much interested, so I put them both under the heat lamps.  About 20 minutes later, Dandelion woke up the black kid and she seemed to be rooting around a little, but I pretty much had to force her to nurse.  She did get some good sucks in and then wanted to roam a little bit.  I left them out there under the heat to rest.  I’ll go out there again soon and then again before bedtime to keep making sure they are nursing.  If things are going well by tomorrow night, then I’ll trust they are ok and quit checking so often.  I took a bunch of pictures, so here they are!

Andrew holds the black kid

Andrew holds the black kid

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Hannah holding the brown kid

 

How to warm a goat kid!

How to warm a goat kid!

Under the heat lamps

Under the heat lamps

Arctic Chill and Cabin Fever

100_5114We’re going to remember this winter for a long time.  The last time I remember temps being this low was when I was in jr. high, around 1980.  I remember 5′ drifts at our back door, missed school days, and my best friend’s mom picking us up early from the skating rink because wind chills were down to -35 degrees.  January 2014 has brought us the “Polar Vortex”, as the weather people have called it, plus several other slightly less severe bouts of below zero temps, along with -20 to -30 degree wind chills, for 2-3 days at a time.  And snow.  We actually get snow when “they” say we will, though for our little place, since the great Polar Vortex storm, we haven’t gotten as much as the maximum possible.  This basket laying on the bathroom floor has become a very common occurence – though at least this time the contents weren’t strewn all over the floor.100_5098

The last time it was this cold this often, I was a suburban girl, and didn’t have to go outside except to go to school.  Now we have a tiny farm.  Yet another time I’m SO glad it’s tiny!  It’s only about 100 yards, give or take, to the barn and garage.  I’m also thankful that I have 5 children at home to help with the chores, so we all just get a little numb-ish, rather than me being frozen solid.  I’m including a pic of our barn, as taken from the back door of the house.  Not much to see, because I decided last night to shut the last door remaining open because of the wind and snow.  At 9 pm I found out that the main door wasn’t closed completely.  That door faces west – the very direction the 40 mph wind was coming from.  While it was snowing.  There was snow all over the inside of the entry/milking/hay storage area, and down the hallway between stalls.  My original intent was to leave the south door open for better ventilation, but then I saw that the whole area inside of that door was filling with snow and it was blowing into the stall where the ducks are, and the goats were in the opposite side as far from the door as possible.  Thankfully I only needed to move a little hay to get the door to close, so I was able to make the barn a little more user-friendly.  Earlier in the day Keith had set up a little warming station for the goat kids to get under heat lamps, if they choose.  So far the only creatures I’ve seen take advantage of that warm space is a cat or two, but I’m not in there all day.  All that battening of the hatches allowed the barn to remain at about 10 degrees this morning when it was 0 outside.  Not bad – and not windy, so it was actually somewhat pleasant.

My mama goats have been locked up in their stall for several weeks now.  The wind just keeps coming from the north, where their door is, and with Lily having had her little kids just 2 weeks ago, I don’t want them to have a draft.  For the most part, keeping the south door and main/west door open, has allowed there to be enough air circulation that it doesn’t stink bad in there.  But, for the next two days, it’s going to have to stay closed up again.  I’m sure all the animals will be quite happy when they can stretch their legs a little more!100_5099

In the meantime, the inhabitants of the house are doing ok.  All except for Andrew.  Wow, does he need to get outside more!  He’s taken to doing laps around the first floor, which is made possible by the walk-through bathroom.  He is not content to just sit and read all day or color like the other kids usually are.  He needs action.  This morning no one would play with him, so he brought Candy Land downstairs to the bathroom where I’d just gotten out of the shower, and asked if I’d play with him.  Poor guy – how could I say, “no”?  So in between getting dressed, putting on makeup and drying my hair, we managed to get in a game.  (I won.)  A little while later when I went upstairs I noticed the attic stairs were covered in stuffed animals.  Apparently the boys’ new game is to bombard anyone coming up to their room with stuffed animals.  But at least they aren’t fighting.  At the moment.  But now that lunch is over, it’s time to get down to math, history and literature.100_5113