Hint: it was our breakfast this morning, and has no artificial colors in it. Put your guesses in the comments–I’ll post the answer in a few days.
Activities at Home
I showed you this picture a few days ago and asked if anyone knew what it was. The answer? Cornmeal mush, with butter in it! I ground blue corn, then soaked it overnight in goat’s whey before cooking it. The butter is extra-orange because it was made from colostrum. Delicious!
Baby is crawling already! He’s been getting around for a few weeks already, pulling himself along on his tummy by his arms, but today he’s nearly given that up in favor of crawling the normal way. This is the earliest we’ve had one crawling–he is 5 months and 22 days, about 3 days earlier than our previous earliest. Looks like a busy life ahead, if this is any indication.
I keep thinking about things to blog about, but real life keeps getting in the way. So, here are a bunch of pictures to give you a glimpse into the past couple of weeks.
Almost crawling!Gayle and the boys built the framework for raised beds on Saturday.
We were peacefully working on finishing school around noon today, when someone knocked on the door. It was our next-door neighbor, and she had 8 chicks in a bucket. Something had killed their mother this morning, probably a stoat, and she didn’t have time to raise them. Did we want them, and two more that were running around in their paddock? Sure–we’ll take any unwanted animal! (Except a dog.) She took two of the boys with her to catch the last two chicks, and ran to town for me to pick up some feed for them, because I don’t have the van today. I worked on fixing up a home for them. We couldn’t find the hanging light socket we’ve used before for baby birds, so I improvised with a couple of hot water bottles. The younger boys found wood chips and made a water and food dish out of peanut butter jars (plastic) and we are all set! There is a cheerful cheeping sound in the living room now.
Last evening I came into the living room and found Gayle and the two youngest at the piano. The second-youngest had told his daddy that he wanted to sing him “a beautiful song”. Totally spontaneously, he was singing, “Jesus is on the cross” and playing the piano to accompany himself. It was so sweet that I grabbed the camera to record the scene! The blurry places in the video are just because the light was dim.
We’ve had some interesting experiences with cows the last two months. First, some background information. Here in New Zealand, dairying is seasonal. Cows are all dried off in May and they calve in August, for the most part. During their dry period, in the winter, they are generally trucked to an area away from their home farm, to give the paddocks there a rest. Our landlord boards dairy cows from a couple of farms near Culverden, and he says it’s very good pay. He had 700-800 cows on his home farm, and around 100 on this farm. The beginning of July, one of the cows at his place “slipped her calf”–it was born dead about a month early. She bagged up, so he brought her over here for us to milk. She was here for three weeks, and we had a few circuses with her (she wasn’t used to being handled), but she was tame as a kitten compared with a couple of others we tried to milk!
The second week of August, one of the cows here calved. She had an enormous udder, so he said we could milk her. We spent two hours one Sunday afternoon, trying to tie her up! She jumped three fences before we could get a rope around her neck, and then it still took an hour to tie her tight enough to milk. During that time, she sent me flying once with her head, and by the end of that ordeal she was charging anyone who came close, and pawing hay up over her back like a bull when anyone so much as looked at her! She stayed tied up in a shed here for nearly a week till our landlord’s son was able to figure out how to untie her and get her back out with the mob.
Several days after that circus, our landlord asked me if I’d like to come over to their place to milk a cow whose calf had died. He has a headgate there, so we figured it wouldn’t be too hard to milk her. He put a rope on her hind foot so she couldn’t kick–but she did anyway! Soon, she was seemingly trying to kill herself and us! They put a strap around her belly to hold her up to the side of the chute she was in, but she laid down anyway. So much for that cow–after I left and the landlord let her go she was charging at him!
By now, I’ve had it with Friesiens. I’ve really been enjoying my sweet, gentle Jersey! I can walk up to her and lead her around by her halter anywhere I want to and she can be tied with a light string and stay put!
Yesterday, our landlord offered us another cow. This one has been in a paddock by herself close to his house for three months, ever since she hurt her foot on the truck coming over here from the dairy farm. Her leg is in such bad shape that when the last of the cows were loaded up and sent back yesterday her owner said to shoot her. She had calved the day before and had so much milk that our landlord decided to keep her, and kept back another bull calf that had been born there to put on her. He offered her to us to milk, and brought her and two calves over today. Her leg was so bad that she couldn’t get on the horse float, so they used this makeshift platform to bring her. She fell down on the way here, and I’m guessing she hurt her udder; there is blood in the milk. Hope that clears up soon.
No, we don’t normally have goats in the house. But, this morning, as we were nearing the end of the day’s school (thankfully!) the boy who had finished first came running in, telling his sister that she had a present in the barn. Of course, we knew immediately what he meant, since when she checked the goats this morning she came in saying that Cocoa was getting pretty close. Sure enough, when we went out a pretty little doe kid was being cleaned off. Soon, a buck kid joined little Spice, but the mama didn’t seem interested in him. We brought Spice in the house to try to get mama to clean the second kid, and after awhile went back out to milk her to feed the kids. The mama doesn’t seem very interested in the babies, which is all right with us, as we were planning to bottle feed them anyway so we get a little more milk. The buck does have Esther a bit concerned, though–he won’t eat much. Spice is eating plenty, though–nothing wrong with her. The children named the buck Captain Cook, since he was exploring around the barn as soon as he was on his feet.
One thing I love about homeschooling is the creativity the children get the opportunity to exercise. For his birthday last week, Simon wanted candle wicks–his current interest (at least, one of his current interests!) is making candles. The wicks came today, and he wanted to try out an oil lamp, like people used in Bible times. I gave a tiny bit of direction–and permission–and he did the work. He used a large mussel shell, filled it with cooking oil, and submerged a wick in it. It works! I wasn’t sure what would happen when he lit it, so made him try it outside on a metal pan, and had a tub of baking soda close. No problem–it burned perfectly and safely.
Update: Several minutes after I posted this, someone went outside and noticed the cats lapping up the oil! So, if you try this, don’t leave it where your cats can reach it.
…you may hear conversations about topics such as butchering our heifer and what we’re going to do with the hide (I’ll spare you the details of how to work on it). Yes, we do plan to butcher the heifer (she is not going to calve, after all), and the boys are anxious to do the killing, gutting and skinning ourselves–they can’t stand it that Daddy hasn’t made the decision yet. Part of the conversation included chewing hides to soften them, as the Eskimos do, and eating raw meat, as the Indians do. Boys! I hope the rain stops soon for awhile so they can get outside again–this cabin fever is going to drive me crazy!