Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yes. We're Still Waiting.....

I bet you're getting tired of looking at pictures of Marmalade.  She's pretty much my farm focus right now and then once she does farrow the piglets will hopefully be the focus.  This is her first litter, so I'm hoping she proves to be a good mom. 

I've read up on the indication that farrowing is getting near.

A few signs are that she builds a nest, gets restless, and stops eating.   Marmalade hasn't built a big nest yet, but she does create a "well" of hay where she sleeps.  No restlessness and she's definitely still eating!

Another sign is that her teats grow and bag out.

I think she's getting veeeery close!

Other signs are that the vulva slackens and begins to redden.

Looks about right.

And one other sign I've read about is that as the back muscles relax due to impending birth, the little sticking out "hood" starts to point straight out or up.

It looks like she's getting there

But I like best the one very sure way an old farmer said you'll know that your pig is going to farrow....

She's ready when you squeeze the teat and the milk hits you in the eye.

The weather is a little warmer now so we're past the crisis of birthing in horribly cold weather.  I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tick Tock.... Still Waiting For Piglets

Our girl, Marmalade, still hasn't farrowed.  I think it's probably a good thing due to the extremely cold temperatures we've been having.  

I guess the first breeding that we saw didn't "take".  I would rather be safe than sorry though and she lives the life of leisure in a warm, hay filled stall with plenty to eat and drink.  

Her belly keeps getting bigger and her teats grow daily so every day I expect to see some little ones before too terribly long.  

Warm stall.  Chowing down.

I guess everything in it's own good time!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Goodbye Christmas 2016

I guess it's time to take down the lights...

This picture is crazy blurry because I rushed out in my robe, freezing!, and rushed back in.  Don't you love the colored lights?  I liked the white light trend when it first came out - it looked so elegant - but now I've gone back to the colored twinkly lights of long ago.  I tried to go back to those big giant glass bulbs.  After cleaning up lots of paper thin shards of glass I decided they break far too easily and tangle like nobodies business!

I suppose the tree must be put away for another year too.  I call my tree theme "nostalgic".  Seriously though.  I'm not into themed trees.  I like to put up all of the ornaments I've received or bought over the years and sit in the evenings and relive the memories of when they came into my life.   

Again, my mantel decorations are nostalgic.  They were gifts or things that we picked up in our travels.  Memories!

Two beautiful gifts. 

Now winter has closed in with a freezing vengeance.  We're in the bleak days of winter.  But, I just saw something that said there were only 10 Mondays until spring!  

Still no piglets.  We turned on the heat lamp because inevitably our gilt will farrow on the coldest night of the year!  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Welcome 2017!

Happy 2017!

This is what New Year's Eve looks like in Potter County.  We had a great big bonfire and sledding down the neighbor's hill.  We employed snowmobiles to pull the children (and adults) back up the hill.  

Fun and frosty times! 

Warming up between sled rides!

This is what the snack  and drink table looks like when a great big snow squall comes roaring through and coats everyone and everything!

On New Year's Eve day, we moved our gilt, Marmalade, into the farrowing stall.  We're on piglet watch.  you can see her belly is getting round and her teats are really starting to show!

On New Year's Day, I went out to the chicken coop to find a dead chicken with it's head eaten off.  This is almost always the work of a opossum.  

So, I set out the live trap with the chicken carcass and then finished my chicken and turkey tending chores.  Then, on a whim, I thought I better check the nesting boxes.  I walked into the chicken coop from the very bright, snowy, outside into the dim interior and began lifting the feed sack curtains from the nesting boxes.  

On the second one, I saw something strange, but because of the light change, my eyes hadn't adjusted, and I couldn't figure out what it was.  Then slowly as my eyes focused, I realized I was looking at an open mouth and a very sharp set of teeth!  

I did what most people did.  I shouted!  Then I ran back to the house yelling, "there's a fox in the chicken coop!"  My hubby, Fitz, came down to the coop with me and lifted the curtain.  It wasn't a fox at all, but what I had first expected when I saw the headless chicken... an opossum!  

It was quickly dispatched and I found it had killed not just one, but two of my chickens.  I feared there might be another 'possum lurking about and made sure the live trap was set....

...the next morning, I the trap door was shut....

...and this is why we use a live trap around the farm.  Our kitty, "Thug" had decided to investigate the dead chicken!  He wasn't hurt in any way, just very happy to see me and meowing to get out.  

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

One Of Our Family's Traditional Christmas Cookies: Thumbprint Cookies

This recipe comes from my father's mother, Grandma Baldwin.  My mom traditionally made it at Christmas, and I make it every year too!

This is a truly scrumptious little cookie.  The cookie part is a buttery and nutty base with the the jam or jelly giving just the right amount of sweetness.  

In my family, we've always used red raspberry jam or jelly.  This year, because I had it on hand, I used a raspberry, blueberry, strawberry jam blend that I preserved earlier in the year.  You can really use any jam or jelly you like the best, but raspberry is really yummy!  

Here's the recipe: 

Grandma Baldwin's Thumbprint Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 egg
1 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Red raspberry jelly

Preheat oven to 375-degrees

Mix dry ingredients.  Work in egg, butter, vanilla and nuts.  Blend well.  

Shape dough into marble sized balls. Make indention with thumb.  

Bake 10 minutes.  Take out of oven and put in a dab of jam or jelly into indention.  

Return to oven and finish baking 8-12 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  

Let cool for a few minutes (the jelly will be very hot) and then move to a cooling rack.   

I store this in a pan with wax paper between the layers.    


Give this a try.  It's easy to make and oh, so worth the effort!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hoar Frost and a Jack Frost Frolic


It's very, very cold today and we had clear skies last night - leading to hoar frost.  The earth has been painted with a white palette of crystals.  

This lovely little school primer was always around the house when I was growing up.  I found the stories and illustrations incredibly fascinating and read it many, many times.  

So, when I see frost, my mind turns to this simple little story of Jack Frost and his antics. 

Note that is was written by Mary E. Pennell - Formerly Assistant Supervisor of Schools, Kansas City, Missouri and Alice M. Cusack - Directory of Kindergarten and Primary Grades, Kansas City Missouri

In 1929!
I hope I'm not infringing any copyrights by printing these few pages.  They're just to lovely to not share!

I wonder where Jimmie Dale and Beverly might be now.  

And the story begins.   Don't you just love the simply colored but incredibly stylistic illustrations? 

This and the page below are what I think about when I see a fancifully frosted window.  

Isn't imagination a wonderful thing?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Has Come!

Winter has come in all it's "glory" with...

...frosty whiskers...

...fuzzy coats....

...water issues...

(no more water wagon, now water comes sled delivered)

...and treacherous roofs!