Monday, September 18, 2017

An Update on Stuff!!

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted!  

I haven't done a ton of farm-related stuff lately...except for one thing - I'm beginning to collect ingredients and supplies for my first attempt at making goat milk soaps and lotions!

I visited a farm last week and purchased a couple gallons of goat milk, then portioned it out in baggies and froze it so that it's ready when I need it.

I'll be sure to take lots of photos once I get to the soap-making process, but in the meantime, enjoy a photo of this lovely Oberhasli goat, without whom my goat milk soap adventure would be a lot less successful: 

I'm very interested in this breed, by the way...I'll have to do a breed profile later, so you can impress your friends with random Oberhasli trivia.  :P

Anyway, happy Monday!!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Project

I bought an antique dresser's in pretty good shape except for the top, which definitely needs to be refinished: 

I'll probably switch out the knobs, too (especially because some are missing!), but I might leave the rest of it as is - I like patina.  :P  

I'll be sure to add an "after" picture once it's touched up.  :)

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Taming of the Shrubs

Made some progress on another yard project today...many thanks to my coworker Kathy who came over to give me guidance, help, and moral support!  I've pruned the shrubs along the front of our house for years, but with little knowledge of the treatment of individual shrubs.  Kathy has years of expertise in landscaping, and was able to guide me and help me learn to assess what to cut and what to leave.

Here's the before photo:

You can see how the bushes were quite overgrown and didn't really have appealing shapes.  Kathy and I worked for an hour and a half, making selective cuts and removing a lot of dead branches.  We stepped back often to see how we were coming along - it's definitely helpful to see the big picture.'s the end result:

I'm very pleased with how the bushes turned out.  I'll probably gradually lower their height; you're just not supposed to take too much off at once.  I want them to keep a nice shape but not block the view from the windows too much.

Next week I'll tackle the monstrosity at the right side of the porch:

Oh, hi, Thane!!  :D

Anyway, thanks again, Kathy!!  The bushes and I are greatly appreciative!  :)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Gettin' 'Er Done!

Whew!!  It's been a busy summer so far - and it's been hot!  You might not think of NH as a particularly warm place, but we've had a lot of days this summer in the 90's, with high humidity - NOT the greatest weather to be out working in the yard.

But over the past couple days, we've had some truly glorious weather, and today I took advantage of it to accomplish one of the many projects on my to-do list.

It involves this sad little plot of garden:

It was fairly promising when I started working on it last year, but I never quite finished, and the weeds eagerly moved in over the spring and summer, leaving it looking quite neglected - which was less than ideal, since this is right by the sidewalk at the front of our lawn.  

It was a pretty easy fix, though - just a few minutes of weeding, and several bags of mulch (on clearance, no less - woohoo!!), and now it looks like this:

Amazing what a difference a bit of mulch makes, huh?

I found a couple treasures in the sand.  Please ignore how ridiculously filthy my hand is...for some reason, I chose not to wear gloves.  

The penny will go in my battered coins collection, and the button will go in one of my button jars.  Yeah, I know...I'm weird.  :P

Happy Monday!!!

Friday, July 21, 2017

One Year

It's hard to believe it...but this goofy boy turned a year old today!

Time flies!!!  

I would say I wish he was still like this...

...but I really don't wish that.  He was a handful as a puppy, but he's continuing to mature into a great dog, and I'm excited to see what adventures the next year with Thane will bring!

Friday, July 7, 2017

...with a Cherry on Top...

So, we live right on the border between zones 4 and 5.  If you don't know what that basically just means that it gets fairly cold in our area in the winter, and that we can have frost well into May some years.

That's fine for sour cherry trees, but sweet cherries...not so much.  A hard frost in the spring will kill off the blossoms, and you won't get any cherries.

I knew that when I planted two sweet cherry trees several years ago, and sure enough, we've never really had more than a light smattering of cherries make it to ripeness.  And then, usually the birds and the bugs eat the "crop" before we can get to it.

Until this year.

It was a weird spring, and it's been kind of a weird summer so far too - but, apparently, the weather has been ideal for fruit-bearing trees, because take a look at this:

Yep, these are homegrown, zone 4/5 sweet cherries!

Lol, we were so taken aback by how well they did that we didn't exactly optimize our picking schedule, so we really only got one good batch when we could have had a lot more...but that one batch was very yummy.  :)

(Special thanks to Rachel and Timothy [siblings #4 and 5] for helping me with the picking!!)

The apples are looking good so far too, and the poor beleaguered little Italian Prune Plum tree is also heavily loaded.  (The grapevine is another story, though...I pruned it heavily in the spring because I was going to give it away, and it might still be in shock.)

But, anyway, we were grateful that God gave us just the right weather this spring so that we were able to enjoy a little bit of fruit off our own trees.  :)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth!!

Fireworks are in a few minutes here, so I'll keep this brief...I just wanted to post the answer to what I did yesterday, involving these two photos:

The answer?  

I helped shear alpacas!!!

I found an ad on Craigslist last week...a farmer and her husband needed a third person to help with shearing because the husband had injured his hand.  I replied to the ad and expressed my interest in learning more about anything to do with farming...and Linda and Gordon were happy to have me come, even though I had zero experience.

It was quite an educational day...Linda and Gordon were gracious enough to slow way down and do lots of explaining as we worked.  We only got three alpacas (and one lamb) shorn, but they still claimed that it was helpful having me there.  :P

The process they use is very interesting - you tip the table on its side near a wall or tree, then lead the alpaca alongside the table.  The alpaca is secured by the head and by a belly band, then you roll the table back down to the horizontal and secure the legs with slipknots.  In this way, the animal is very securely fastened so that it can't injure itself or the people shearing it - and it's much less stressful than the normal method of forcing the alpaca to the ground and shearing it there.  See how relaxed this boy looks?

You still do have to make sure the head in particular is secure at all times, so the alpaca doesn't hurt himself or the shearers by thrashing around.  And it's good to have a third person for when the rear legs are being shorn - one of my jobs was to hang onto the rear leg with both hands to dampen the force should the alpaca kick, so that he wouldn't kick back into the blades of the clippers.  That also pulls the skin tight, reducing the chance of the clippers getting caught in a wrinkle in the skin.

I also moved the front leg into different positions to help "open up" the shoulder, etc., for the clippers.  Linda did all the actual shearing - alpaca fleece is too valuable to let a newbie risk damaging it!! - but she let me smooth out the alpacas after the fleece was removed so I could get a feel for using the clippers (they're heavy!).

In addition, I helped hold the head while Gordon clipped and ground the teeth (yep - their teeth need maintenance once or twice a year!!), and I even "drenched" one alpaca with a natural garlic dewormer, using a special syringe that gets the liquid into their cheek pouch or over the back of the tongue.  (I was grateful that the alpaca did not drool any garlic onto my person - what a smell!)

Here's what a freshly-shorn (and slightly tangled) alpaca looks like:

Linda and Gordon also have a couple sheep (which I didn't get photos of), two cows, four horses, and a couple livestock guardian dogs (so cool!!!).

A Jersey bull:

A Paint and a Classic Morgan:

An Arabian stallion!  Believe it or not, he's in his late thirties:

One of the livestock guardian dogs (he kept half an eye on me the whole time I was there):

All in all, it was a fun and VERY educational day, and I'd love to go back to help with more shearing (they have 30-40 alpacas!!).  I'm not sure if it'll happen, since it's a 2.5 hour drive, but at least I'd probably be a more efficient helper on the second round.  :P  

Anyway...Happy Fourth of July!!  Maybe your holiday be a joyous one, and may it be free from garlic-scented alpaca slobber!!