Adventures In Farmville

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We have a few new editions to the peep of chooks. Four chickens and a cockerel. The kids came to a unanimous decision to name the boy Kevin. They named him after a close family friend of ours that the kids adore. So, Kevin the cockerel it is. After working with Kevin for a few days, the name suits him well. Each night he snuggles in with Puffy, Feathers and Twinnie-twins keeping them warm and safe. He also helped establish the pecking order right away with Payback and Fatty-pat.

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The cows have been moved out of their small stay in the stable and into the courtyard. They will be in there for a few more days while we wait for the grass to grow a bit more. We had an exciting morning after a huge windstorm during the night blew down one of the fences. The cows followed their bellies and tested the classic theory of the greener grass on the other side of the fence. In this case, it was true. When we woke up, we found them munching away on one of the adjacent paddocks. We also noticed that Payback was missing. It was quite a wind. Now, I won’t lie, I have NO experience with cows (Brent, thankfully does). My first experience with cows was but a few days ago when Brent handed me a copper pot of ground wheat and stuck me in front of the Disney-like creatures with big horns and said, “call them.” I looked at the cows.  The cows looked at me.  We sort of stared at each other hoping no one would make a move. Did I mention they were bucking a bit as they got used to going from dark stable to light outdoors? Anyway, on the morning after the wind, we needed to get the five girls back into their temporary holding while we get the pasture paddocks ready. I grabbed a couple of sticks and Brent ran down one way with the pot of treats. Brent called for Elfie, the cow we dubbed “the Tosca of cows.” She is a porker. She will do anything for food. Elfie quickly came to the treat pot and the others followed. Brent led them up the hill (away from the neighbors precious vineyard) while I circled around them. You gotta love the herd animals. They safely and uneventfully marched back to their courtyard while we double checked the fences. Whew! The girls spent the rest of the day munching and ruminating in true cow form and Brent and I got a cup of coffee. In the words of our friend Misty, “It’s like Farmville but for reals!” Just after my first cow herding, I found Payback. She was cuddled in a corner brooding on one egg and a couple of chestnuts. We’re going to leave the egg there and see if Kevin has done his duty.

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My Favorite Cookbook

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My mother raised six kids and from what I can tell, she used this cookbook: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  And let me tell you right here right now, this cookbook is ESSENTIAL for any parent trying to cook for a family.  While I totally appreciate the research and effort from Cooks Illustrated, I find myself opening it to a recipe and exclaiming in my head, “GET ON WITH IT! I GOT A THREE YEAR SCREAMING HERE!”  If my girl wants chicken pot pie, I simply open up Fannie and she’s got a SIMPLE recipe that can be read while three little cuties are loudly sharing with you their current concerns (e.g.  glue stick won’t turn, lego dude’s gun is not fitting into hand).  I have no time for how the best cupcake is made.  What I need is a quick cupcake recipe that I can read and make successfully while holding a baby and wrangling children.  Fannie Farmer IS that cookbook.  She also has just about every French dish you would want to cook.  Totally amazing.  As I write this post, I have fixed a tiara, fed the baby, printed out a game for the kids and solved a trivial math equation as well as acknowledged and appreciated several small projects initiated by Otto and Lucy.  Add to that “make dinner.”  A look at a small slice of life like that needs a recipe with simple ingredients, quick instructions written for an audience who may have cooked something like this before.  Fannie is my girl.  She also has conversions on the inside cover for Fahrenheit to Celsius as well as various oz to gram nonsense.  No Internet required.  This book lives in my kitchen and I use it daily.

As a side note,  Minty would like to share with you a picture of Lamby’s bum.  Added to that is a picture of the two for context.  Okay, gotta go.  Potatoes are done…

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They’re HEEEeeeere!

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Brent spent many hours working out what type, the hows, the wheres, the whose of cow purchase. I’ll let him fill you in with the details. But, we have cow. They’re very cute and one even shares a birthday with me. They are Mirandaise. Which is a rare breed cow with something like 250 left alive in France (or the world really). We liked them because they’re curious and gentle. Cows can live and breed for twenty years so you want to be picky on what you’re working with. We’re also beginning our quest for tasty meat. Mirandaise are supposed to have many qualities that would support our efforts.
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These cuties are the beginning of our cowherd and we will be adding more as we figure out our ideal troupeau. I have NO experience with cows … or heifers in this case … They are sensitive to light and noise and many other things. For a few days, they will chill out in the stable. Brent feeds them some fine looking hay and gives them special treats so they warm up to us.
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The girls loaded into the stable pretty smoothly with a couple of “moments.” One of which I caught with the camera. I was trying to be silent and calm while snapping a few shots. One girl did not want to move. The boys convinced her to move along and suddenly she decided to go all waka-waka-hey-hey. My red fleece, my unfortunate position with no exit, those horns, her mass – all things I was thinking about when I snapped one shot and got the hell outta there. In just a few days they will be out in the fields eating fresh grass and enjoying the farm.

and the cow jumped over

Breakfast For Free!

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The coop is complete and we have chook. The day I finished off the fence, Brent came home with a couple of chickens that night. It took two seconds for the squawky one to find a hole and start running around the fenced area. We let her settle down for a bit while I did a quick mend. Otto and I returned to calmly catch her and put her in with her buddy. The kids were very excited to see them. Lucy and Otto picked which one they wanted to name. So let me introduce Fattypat and Payback.

Fattypat because “she’s fat and I want to pat her,” says Otto.

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Payback because it’s a family music video favorite. Payback got a little stressed on the journey from house to house and lost her neck feathers. It sort of gives her that “edge” and suits her name. She’s the sqauwky one.

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The chickens seem to be content with their new home as we’ve been enjoying some fresh eggs already. I had heard that chickens don’t lay much in the winter or when they’re stressed. We’ve already collected five eggs. I need to get a few more chickens now to feed the family.

Scoop On The Coop

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Our farm came with lots of crazy stuff hacked together by the previous (now dead) farmer. One item of interest is the chicken coop. Long term, I’m hoping to pasture the chickens on the fields following the cows. Currently I’m nurturing a newborn and she limits my time to execute such grand plans. So in our attempt to get some animals on the farm that aren’t cats or dogs, I’m trying to get the coop back together while simultaneously racing a friend who is also trying to get chickens on his farm. Even with my newborn disadvantage, I know I will be victorious.

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The coop is so close to being operational. A couple of years ago, there was a tempête (huge windy storm) that knocked a large tree down on the surrounding fence. Alls I need to do is fix a hole, put up a new pole and add a little fence. Then, voila! It will be ready for chickens. So far, I’ve fixed the hole. Next I need to mix and set my very first concrete thing. The only disappointment is that I won’t get to weld anything. For Christmas, Brent bought a welder for me (it’s an arc welder details will follow in another post). We decided that since I was the professional dancer, such matters should fall in my hands. The pole that I found around the farm is a bit short and really needs another bit welded to it to make it taller. I need to get a welding lesson first. So, in my effort to add a weld to every farm project I do, I will have to let the chicken coop sit this one out. All this farming stuff is new to me, so doing something simple like “get chickens on farm” makes me learn five to ten new things. When I’m done, I will know how and where to buy grain from the silos, fun with chain link fence and concrete among other silly things like moving heavy objects from one side of the farm to the other and getting the husband to chainsaw a large tree.

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… and now, some gratuitous newborn photos 🙂
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