Winter on the farm

In Maine winter is cold, winter is white, winter is quiet ~  I love it!  For us winter is a time for slowing down.  Some chores are harder and some are easier – but the in-between time is much anticipated after a busy “rest of the year”.  During the summer months we see a lot of people; either through farmstays – airbnb, fairs & festivals (CGCF, ME Bread Fair, fiber frolicLaudholm Craft Fair)  open farm day , open creamery day, and visits to the farm store

But in winter life becomes quiet … a time of rest, a time of rejuvenation, a time of introspection, a time of planning & dreaming.

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The animals quiet down too, they slow down too .. their “world” becomes smaller and they spend most of their time eating hay and growing babies.

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I thought it might be nice to share some of our routine, the animals world and life for us on a quiet lane in Whitefield Maine.

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Water is a big deal in winter (it is in summer too but in a different way).  We heat our house with wood so there are always 2 big pots of water on the stove during the winter.  I take the heated water out to the animals twice a day, along with cool water from the tap.  On VERY cold days (below zero type of cold) I will often bring warm water out more often.  But in general twice a day is enough to keep the water in the 5 gallon buckets melted & drinkable.

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Sometimes I get the bucket a bit too close to the stove – OOPS!

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Carrying the water from the house to the barn changes with the weather and the amount of snow on the ground.  Some time it is the metal wagon, sometimes the blue sled & other times it is the wooden sled … and then there are the times when it is just me and my arms carrying it out there.

The animals winter area is much smaller so in order to keep them exercised & moving I place the water as far away as possible so that they have to walk to get it .. a “twofer” refreshing  water & exercise!

Hey – Hay!  The sheep & goats eat hay in the winter, lots of hay!  We buy hay from other farmers during the summer since our pasture isnt big enough to graze and hay.  We buy hay in square bales and big round bales.  We are moving more towards the round bales but still keep about 200 square bales around to supplement.

 

I fill the “vermont cart” with loose hay I “unwrap” from the round bales and wheel it over to the feeders.

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We have wooden feeders for winter time use.  They are GREAT!  They do need to be cleaned after winter storms, but it makes feeding all the hungry animals so much less stressful.

Winter is beautiful, winter is fun & winter is cold ~ but we LOVE it and in my opinion the animals do too.

img_4937img_4978img_2540img_2533Denali is using this winter to get to know the animals at a safe distance … sometimes not so distant and it seems these two are developing a special bond all their own!

In some ways it seems winter is long yet there are so many signs that speak of warmer weather, or longer days and stronger warmth from the sun .. until then lets enjoy WINTER!

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Laundering Sheepskins

Machine or hand wash in cold or warm water (water not to exceed 100 degrees).  The use of kookaburra  or Eucalan Wool Wash  is recommended.  Do not use Woolite, laundry detergents or fabric softeners.

Hand Washing:  put the skin in the tub and hold it under the water until the skin is thoroughly saturated with water.  Gently churn the skin to get the soap moving around the fibers and let soak for 5-10 minutes then rinse.  Gently squeeze out excess water.

Machine Washing: Set to gentle cycle.  Once skin is thoroughly soaked, allow machine to churn briefly.  The more churning, the more the wool will mat.  Let soak 5-10 minutes.  Spin cycle to remove excess water.  rinse if necessary.  Dry. NEVER tumble dry – this will mat the wool even more.

Line dry or dry flat (wool side down) and stretch to shape while damp.  Brush with a soft wire brush when wet, when damp and then when dry.  Do not tumble dry.

Heat will damage sheepskins, resulting in shrinking and hardening of the pelt.

 

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Wool Pillows & Wool Dryer Balls

WOOL DRYER BALLS

In a nutshell: The wool soaks up some of the moisture in your laundry as it dries, but then evenly distributes it into the air – helping your dryer stay humid longer, which exponentially reduces static cling. In addition, this “soaking and releasing” action makes your clothes dry faster. And all of these things together mean fewer wrinkles.

HOW TO USE WOOL DRYER BALLS

Simply toss them into the dryer with your wet clothes – that’s it! Or if you want to use them as a replacement for scented dryer sheets, here’s what you need to do:

Run your clothes through an entire dryer cycle with the dryer balls. When the clothes are dry, remove two of the dryer balls and place about 3-5 drops of essential oil on each of them. Toss them back in the dryer and turn it on for 10-15 minutes on a “no heat” cycle. Remove, fluff and fold!

 

 

ORGANIC WOOL PILLOWS

Wool Is Hypoallergenic ~ Wool is resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people. . Wool quickly absorbs and releases moisture and thus does not allow the damp conditions that molds thrive on. People with chemical sensitivities can also sleep without suffering if the wool is untreated. Dust-mite allergens are the leading trigger for asthma attacks, but dust mites need moisture to survive, so they don’t like wool.

Wool Thermo-Regulates and is remarkably comfortable in all seasons. In the winter it warms you without overheating or causing ‘clamminess’. Conversely, in warmer seasons, it actually helps to keep you cool by wicking moisture away from your skin.

Naturally Fire-Resistant ~ the protective lanolin coating found in wool makes it naturally resistant to combustion.

When it wears out it can be safely put in your garden. This means it has a low impact on the environment while being produced, and a positive impact when it is composted and returned safely to the earth.

 

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Open farm day

open farmday

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July 18, 2016 · 7:23 pm

Inspiration

I feel inspired!   Winter is a good time for inspiration (not that one can plan inspiration) .. but it is a time when things slow down and there is room for planning, rethinking and listening.

The first thing that inspired me was reading through the Fedco tree catalogue and finding that they carried mushroom spawn.  I love foraging wild mushrooms, I love cooking with wild mushrooms and I love eating wild mushrooms … why not try my hand at growing them.  I felt that my fate was sealed when while visiting Becca in Nepal we were given tours of local farms involved with mushroom cultivation.

WOW ~  so much inspiration, so many great ideas. I am continuing my study at home by the fire as I read several books preparing for the upcoming growing season.

Then last night we went to an amazing event at http://www.congresssquared.com/ and I was again inspired!  Kalettes and Duck.

 

I loved the kalettes and came home and ordered seed from Johnnys Selected Seed

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/ – I am excited to see how they grow here on the farm.  Duck – I have wanted to raise duck for quite sometime but now I REALLY want to raise duck!  Raising the duck will be relatively easy I need to figure out a slaughter house that will process them ~ tomorrows project.

 

More inspiration to come ……

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Maine cheesemakers win 10 American Cheese Society awards

Maine cheesemakers win 10 American Cheese Society awards.

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Four Leaf Clovers & Me

I have a relationship with four leaf clovers.  I find them everywhere .. I walk along & look down and there they are … I find bunches of them.  I have had bouquets of them all over the house.  I feel a spirituality with them.  I always feel they are a gift! I never take them for granted & treat each one as special.IMG_0452IMG_6930

I say a prayer of thanks each time one pops into my view –

I thank those who have passed before me ~

I thank my grandparents

I thank the animals who have graciously shared their lives with me

I thank the spirit of people are who not with me physically

I thank mother earth

I thank the ever present energy that surrounds us all

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I try to pass the energy of the four leaf clover on to others ~

I slip them in peoples wallets

I put vases of them down in the cabin

I send pictures of them to my son before big exams

I dry them and send in letters

I just give them away

I sometimes feel that I am just a “spokesperson” for the gifts of the universe ..

a conduit of spiritual energy ~  I feel it, I appreciate it, I am thankful, I let it go

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THANK YOU FOUR LEAF CLOVER ENERGY!

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