More critters on the farm

The girls got some pets a couple of weeks ago.

 

Meet Mindy the mini lop and Ruby the lionhead bunny!

 

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Mindy is a 3 month old mini lop.  She is active and fun to watch as she hops around the yard in a little bunny harness!

 

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Ruby is an older girl with an unknown background.  She was dropped off with a breeder and looked as if she had been through some stress recently because of the shabbiness of her coat.  Hopefully she’ll start feeling at home here in the Bunny Palace!

 

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So, two more mouths to feed at Morning Star Meadows!  Two more critters for the kids to nuture and take responsibility for.  Two more companions for our family.

 

It’s a good thing!

My brown eyed girls…

Two beautiful girls left home for Massachusetts this afternoon!  

 

Bindi and Laverne will now live with their new owner and their livestock guardian dog, Asu (Peaceful), in the Berkshires.  

 

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Bindi will be missed for her beautifully crimpy and contrasted grey fleece and her prolific lambing.

 

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Laverne will be missed for her striking size and beauty, with her large white neck ruff and sizeable horns.

 

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When their new owner arrived, he brought their new pal, Asu, a Great Pyrenees crossed with an Anatolian Shepherd.

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At only 4 months, this boy is sure to grow big enough to fend off those coyotes or even bears that might make the mistake of crossing his path!  It’s good to know the girls will have great protection in their new home.  

 

Here he is in pursuit of a dangerous fluttering moth…

 

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I’m not too sure the girls were that happy about him, though…

 

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Nor were the others…but they were very curious!

 

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Except Boomer, who sometimes thinks he’s a dog anyway!

 

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I know that eventually the girls will be right at home with him, especially if he gets an opporutunity to defend them!

 

Ready to roll…bye-bye brown-eyed girls!  Happy landing!

 

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Bidding a fond farewell…

We just can’t keep them all to ourselves!

 

We love our flock – every member of it.  But we just can’t keep them all, and we love the fact that we can share these awesome animals with others and encourage new shepherds and shepherdesses in this lifestyle!

 

That being said, yesterday we bid adieu (ad-ewe?)  to 3 of our flock members, Matilda, Esther (now dubbed Marsha) and Coffee.  

 

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While we were sad to see them go – especially Matilda who has been with us from day one, we are very happy for their new “person”, a new shepherdess from Massachusetts, who happily has invited us to visit any time and promised me that she would bring her phone out near the pasture for me to talk with them whenever I wished!  

 

Her plan for her flock is to start a small dairy, creating hand crafted cheeses and other sheep’s milk products, like homemade soaps which she can felt with wool from the flock.  

 

Matilda is an awesome milk producer and has been a very devoted mother with her lambs.

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Coffee will make a great dad carrying recessive moorit genetics.

 

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Matilda carries the moorit color as well, so that makes for increasing the chances of this beautiful naturally colored wool in their offspring.  

 

Marsha is a spunky sweet yearling ewe who is about to find out that life is not just about all the fun and games she had as a “teenager” as she carries her first lamb or lambs through the winter and delivers them in the spring.

 

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And when the pitter patter of little hooves hits this new farm for the first time in the spring, and she starts milking Matilda and Marsha, and the cycle of shepherding has truly begun – then the rewards will be fully tangible!

We wish her much success!

 

 

Fiber Fun!

This summer I spent an evening with Happy Hands Fiber Club at the North Stonington Agricultural Fair, being part of their demonstration of working with wool.  

 

Young shepherds were shearing just a few yards away.  I was carding Drover’s spring fleece on a drum carder, producing batts of wool.  Others were spinning and weaving.  Both children and adults were fascinated with the process.  So many have lost touch with the idea that yarn is a natural product, since synthetic yarns are so much more affordable and available.  

 

I remember the first time I realized what yarn was really made from — how strong it is, despite the fact that it’s made up of hundreds and thousands of relatively short hairs that all stick together into a strong twisted strand.

 

Anyway, I came home with several batts of wool and a couple of felting project ideas.  

 

I had some time a couple of days ago to work with the wool.

 

First, I felted the rest of the homemade soap we had left.

 

It’s all about texture!

 

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Then I decided I wanted to make a piece of felt, so I started googling and found that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be — which is a bit scary when you realize just how easy it would be to ruin a fleece when you wash it!

 

I took the batts of wool and stacked them in three layers, alternating each layer 90 degrees from the previous one.

 

I sandwiched these between two layers of window screen to contain them.

 

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Over this I poured scalding hot water with a bit of Dawn dish detergent, saturating the whole stack.

 

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It’s all wet.  Now it needs a bit of agitation.

 

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I beat it and mashed it with a spatula, then rubbed it around with my hands.

 

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Flip it over and beat it up some more…

 

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A bit more hot water…

 

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Smack it around a bit more, then start rolling it and unrolling it from each end, compressing it into a sheet and squeezing out the excess water and soap.

 

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One last squeeze…

 

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The unveiling…

 

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And there it is!  A rough, thick and very rustic looking piece of felt!  I guess I need a bit more practice, but this will serve it’s purpose.  I’m hoping the kids will needle felt “Morning Star Meadows Farm” onto it with some of Boomer’s black fleece, and make a few sheep and a barn on it so we have an all-fiber sign for the farm!

 

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An abundance of food!

I can now officially say that most of the food on our table is being grown right here at Morning Star Meadows Farm!

 

This past Sunday was a perfect example of that.  We had 2 of our red broiler chickens, doused in an herbed marinade and accompanied by pickled beets, parsely potatoes,  and roasted zucchini/peppers/tomatoes.  

 

Everything is so fresh and flavorful, it’s hard to believe it’s all healthy, too!

 

We’ve been doing a lot of picking, preparing, and processing for the freezer this week.

 

We’ve picked the last of our sweet corn.  Some we’ve had fresh on the cob, and some we’ve blanched, removed from the cob and frozen.

 

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The tomatoes are coming at a steady pace.  Here’s our favorite way to prepare them.

 

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Or, if you don’t mind turning on the oven…

 

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We also made a couple of different sauces this week.  This one is made from cherry tomatoes, and takes it’s color primarily from sweet sun gold cherry tomatoes.

Tastes as good as it looks!

 

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We’ve harvested most of our first planting of onions – red, yellow, sweet…

 

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Oh yeah – and this arrived in the mail late last week…

 

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Alas, poor Clancy.  We knew him well.  

Clancy was one of our first rams and he passed away about this time last year.  We saved his pelt in the freezer and processed it this spring and sent it to Bucks County Tannery in PA.  They did a beautiful job.  You really have to really see it and feel it to appreciate how nice it is!

 

Out in the garden, here’s what’s happening.

 

Firstly, we’re so blessed to have GREEN fields in August!  Normally it’s downright crunchy out there, but the heavy rains we had a week or so ago have really brought things back to life!

 

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Here’s the sweet potato patch.  The vines have totally claimed this space as their own!

 

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This summer the bunnies were really making a dent in the garden, so here’s a new addition to our fencing.  We’ve run 2 ft high chicken fencing around the perimeter to reinforce the deer netting through which the rabbits could chew and wiggle under.  Seems to be helping so far.

 

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Here’s a jungle of Argonaut style butternut squash.  These are the ginormous butternuts that we harvested here last year.  There are tiny squash all over the place in there that we will have to hunt for in a month or so!

 

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The battle of the vines, which always starts happening this time of year.  Here the sweet potatoes meet the Argonaut squash vines.

 

 

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The Brussels sprouts are starting to form.  Still very tiny.  The cabbage worms have done some damage, and we’ve subsequently treated them with some organic bacterial byproducts that are toxic to these worms, but harmless to us.

 

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There’s at least one more harvesting of beets left in the ground…

 

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Here’s’ what’s left of the corn.  It’s all been harvested, and we’re letting the plants die off to become fall decorating accessories!

 

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The current lettuce patch…

 

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The cantaloupe patch.  VERY prolific this year!

 

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And VERY large!

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We’re still picking a few pounds of green beans each week.  Some we blanch and freeze, and some we just can’t help but eat right away!

 

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Our grape vine is doing really well!  It really deserves the honor of a proper trellis, though.  Maybe next year…

 

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It’s really been our best tomato year ever!  We finally learned that we don’t need to water nearly as often as we thought, so the plants seem to be doing better and are really laden with fruit.

 

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We’re getting lots of compliments on the cucumbers we planted this year.  They’re a lot like the English slicing cucumbers.

 

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Zucchini plants doing what they love to do.  Making gobs of zucchini that they try to hide from you until they get so big you trip over one!

 

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And here’s something we’re all patiently waiting to have ripen!

 

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There must by 15 or more sugar baby watermelons in this patch!

 

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Yes, the weeds are still fighting, but now that the plants are established, the weeds are losing the battle!  The garden is looking just great overall!

 

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Up at the house, in the midst of our flowerbeds we have our herbs.

 

 

Sage…

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Oregano…

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Rosemary…
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Thyme…
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Lavender…
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And what I like to call “The Basil Orchard”!
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And so the sun sets on another episode of “As the Garden Grows”…
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