Miss Maggie And Her Twins

Maggie EatingSunday, Maggie was hanging around, doing nothing but lingering in the barn. I figured she was going to kid and since Sunday was Day 150, her due date, it was time to keep a close eye or two on her.
After lunch, Maggie was locked up in a stall so she could have some peace, away from the other does. By late afternoon, Maggie was scratching at the floor and was too uncomfortable to lay down. All afternoon and into the evening, Maggie scratched away at the floor, nesting. After a quick evening meal, I gathered up a few things and made plans to stay at the barn until she kidded. She finally kidded around 9:30pm and Maggie had twin doelings.
After I cleaned the babies off and bundled them up, I brought them back to the house to spend the night. The temperature outside was going to drop to the low 40s, so the little girls were going to spend their first hours in our house.

Here they are in the computer room with my Granddaughter entertaining them:

Maggies DoelingsThese doelings are from Briar Mtn Aine Maggeah  x Aibrean Brendan Dunne. Our 2014 “kid count” is 5 kids total since we only bred 2 does, having downsized our does last year.

These are big girls and they have found their vocal cords. :-)  For a week or so, we’ll keep them separated from the 3 bucklings who are a month old. Then we’ll move the girl kids in with the boy kids so they can play and romp together.

 

Homestead Granola

Quality cereal is just too expensive to purchase, so I make my own. Homestead Granola is one of the cereals I make — it’s my favorite cereal of all times. Most mornings, I usually eat a bowl of homemade Homestead Granola. And when I have fresh goat milk, I eat a large bowl of the stuff.

Homestead Granola

Over the years, I’ve come up with a recipe that combines some of my favorite foods and if you don’t have your own recipe for Granola, I hope you’ll give this one a try — and be sure to adjust the ingredients to suit your own taste buds.

This Granola has coconut as an ingredient but it’s optional and can be omitted. And there are a few other ingredients like the Sunflower seeds, dried fruit, chopped nuts, and cinnamon that can be substituted. When making your own Homestead Granola, be sure to adjust any ingredients to your own taste.

Homestead Granola

In a large mixing bowl, stir together:

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (adjust for taste)

In a small saucepan, melt:

  • 1/2 cup oil (a half-and-half blend of coconut oil and butter is my favorite)

Pour the melted oil over the dry Granola ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Add:

  • 1/2 cup local honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Stir all ingredients together well. Pour into two lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking dishes.

Toast Granola in a preheated 350-degree oven. Stir well after 10 minutes, then every 5 minutes until desired toasted-brown color has been reached. I usually toast my Granola a total of 20 minutes.

Homestead Granola ToastedAllow to cool completely then transfer and store the Granola in an airtight container. If dried fruits are desired, add them into the Granola after it has cooled.

Notes: This Granola can be tweaked for your own taste. It can be sweetened with organic sugar, if desired. Also, Sunflower seeds (or other seeds) and dried fruit(s) can be added in (1 cup or so). And additional spices like Nutmeg can also be added.

My Grandmother’s Aprons

I still have a few of my Grandmother Woodard’s aprons. They were made with cheerful cottons many decades ago. Each of her aprons were machine-stitched and each of the aprons that I have are different.

Apron from my grandmotherMore than likely, my Grandmother’s aprons were worn when she cooked and washed dishes. And she probably wore an apron when she canned vegetables in the kitchen.

Apron from my grandmother

My paternal Grandmother wore aprons when she cooked. In this 1952 photograph, she wore her apron to the dining table while she shared a family meal on Sunday. I can also tell that my Aunt (who is ready to eat a large bite of mashed potatoes) also wore a kitchen apron to protect her dress while helping in the kitchen.

Wysong familyMy Great Grandmother Maggie McFann wore an apron when she worked in her kitchen and she kept her apron on throughout the day. Here, she was holding a House & Garden magazine as she posed for this photograph in 1960.

Maggie Mae McFann, 1960Some of the aprons worn by my Great Grandmothers were different — they were purely functional, solid white, and often they were soiled from hard work. The aprons from that generation may have been made from sturdy cotton, white linen, or even cotton feed sack cloth, and were probably more durable. Living in rural locations on farms, their daily work didn’t end in the kitchen, but extended outdoors to tend their family’s livestock and gardens. Their aprons were functional and had no ruffled frills.

My Great Grandmother Addie Woodard was wearing a torn apron when this photograph was taken of her. She was in her vegetable garden. More than likely, Addie’s apron was used to carry garden vegetables and gathered eggs into the kitchen. Having a reputation of being a good cook, her apron probably served as a type of oven mitt to protect her hands from the hot pots and pans at her stove.

Addie Woodard at her GardenMy great Grandmother Minnie Crawford’s apron was very dirty in this photograph. What had she been doing that day?!

Minnie Farley Crawford

From Ma Dear’s Aprons, by Patricia C. McKissack wrote:

Ironically, the first aprons were anything but girly-girls stuff. In fact, they were quintessentially ‘guy stuff’. Blacksmiths wore ‘em, armor and weapon makers, gardeners, carvers, furniture makers, leather smiths, cobblers, tailors, jewelers, metal forgers, fishmongers, and clock makers. When you see old pictures of these craftsmen, you see men. Guys wearing leather aprons, duck cloth aprons, and canvas pinnies – barbers, stonemasons, and the Masonic society all wore aprons. Which makes you think that expression about a man still being ‘tied to his mother’s apron strings’ is really kinda current – because for the longest time, aprons were masculine wear, not feminine. 

Women ‘officially’ wearing aprons came about the turn of the 20th century, in Victorian England, although most pioneer matrons wore them, and wore them for all the right reasons: to keep their clothes clean from all the hands-on tasks they did. But Victorian England matrons, at home, were the first to wear aprons, on the domestic front (and not really need to wear them at all!) and these were delicately embroidered and stitched. As the 1920’s roared around, women no longer wanted to be solely associated with the home front and aprons, once a symbol of ‘domestic pride’, according to apron author Teresa Coats, were adopted more, as they were first intended, with a utilitarian purpose by those serving the upper classes. In short, the matrons went out to play; the maids stayed in and were bequeathed the aprons.

Throughout the years, aprons were almost always homemade and as women began to sew with an electric sewing machine, apron patterns were sold. During that era, women were proud of their sewing and domestic skills. And as author Teresa Coats believed, aprons were a symbol of domestic pride.

Apron patternsUp until the early 1960s, it was common for many stay-at-home women to wear aprons every day. The basic kitchen aprons have always been very functional but many had detailed handwork, almost as though the aprons were a fashion statement.

Kitchen aprons almost disappeared when so many housewives turned towards careers outside the home. Aprons are becoming popular again as people are making an effort to return to the basics. And what is more basic than a simple kitchen apron?

Baby Goats

Abbie was pretty darn big before she had her kids last Friday. She bagged up nicely and it was just about kidding time.

Abbie, March 7, 2014Abbie gave us triplets! Here they are, inside a rubber tub in a bathroom so they could stay snug and warm, away from the cold barn air.

Abbie Kids, Mar 7, 2014We moved them out to the kid room on Sunday afternoon.

Abbies Triplets, Mar 9They are almost identical in size and color. And their markings are almost identical too. After their first bottle-feeding began, I quickly realized I could not tell these kids apart, so I had to study them to find some type of a mark of reference. My husband wanted to number them with a magic marker on their sweet little white heads so I had to come up with something in a hurry! I finally saw it — the only difference is noticed on their left sides: they each have a white flashing mark that is vertical. One of those marks is more pronounced so we nicknamed him Blaze.

Blaze, Mar 9Another has a small slice of white so we nicknamed that one Slicer, but I don’t have a photo of his left side yet.

Last but not least is Noggin who sports a smaller white flash and also has a white tip on his tail.

NogginSo Abbie gave us healthy triplet bucklings.

Making The Best of A Cold Winter

The cold Arctic weather moved in as a permanent resident so we didn’t have a choice — we made the best of a very cold Winter.

Wit Being GorgeousWe’ve spent as much time indoors as possible because single-digit temperatures are too cold to enjoy. Here in the Shenandoah Valley, we’ve had a crazy mix of sleet, ice, and snow for most of the Winter season.

For some, snow means nothing more than having fun.

Run Tanner RunThere’s something to be said about snow and how children and dogs make the very best of a day with snow. But the school kids have been home so many days that they’ll be finishing the school year in July.

Sledding In The BackAround here, it’s been a White Winter — an Arctic Winter, of sorts. We’ve seen beautiful blue sky days where the snowy white pastures and snow-covered trees gave us reason to pause at the beauty around us. And we’ve seen the treacherous days where the ice storms have given us glass to walk upon when doing chores.  Two weeks ago, we had a snow storm with 10 inches of snow and no electricity for about 4 hours. Snow is pretty, but we’re anxious for some warmer weather.

Another SnowSo we’ve been making the best of a cold winter, despite the extra work involved with all of the snow or ice-coverings. In addition to the plowing and shoveling, we have had many extra trips to check on all the animals. Dressing for the chores this Winter has meant taking more time to dress in layers to stay warm, too. And the wet boots, gloves, and outerwear means they all need to be warmed up and dried by the fire for the next trip outside.

At this point, these routines have become more frequent and have normalized. This Arctic Winter has been filled with extra trips outside to check on the goats, rabbits, and chickens.  Chipping frozen ice out of their water buckets and bowls is carried out a few more times each day. All of the critters enjoy the warm water I carry to them and they all gather around as I pour their fresh water, each taking a turn to sip.

Goat GirlsThe extended cold weather has meant extra work to keep the house warm, too. We’ve burned through 4 cords of wood already.  The faithful wood stove has had quite the workout this season and we are so grateful for the warmth it provides. There is nothing like the comfortable, honest warmth a roaring fire brings to the soul.

With all of the Arctic Winter weather conditions, I’ve been mostly home bound. I’ve had ample time to sew, mend, organize, cook, and read. I have stayed close to the fire when I’m able to, so I’ve stayed warm.  And the deep cold of the Winter season has provided the necessary quiet time to grieve the loss of my son. Staying busy and focused has helped tremendously, as has the loving support of my family and my best friend and Mother, also struggling with her own grief and loss of her grandson. We cry, we talk, we remember — and we push ourselves onward, trying to get by and get on, even with this very cold Winter.

One household project I needed to tackle was my very messy sewing and craft room. It took many, many hours to to re-organize and deeply clean this room — and it’s done. I added in a few small storage cabinets to hold scrapbooking and card-making supplies and papers. And I reorganized my fabrics so that my rug hooking wools now have a few shelves, instead of being folded into spare baskets. The sewing and craft room has become a favorite place for my granddaughter — she loves to create!

And since I also love to create, I’ve been busy sewing. Several new pillows have been crafted from cotton patchwork, a few home-made cotton pillowcases have been stitched, and some new white cotton dresser drawer liners were sewn. Everything was made with fabrics on hand (I have quite the cotton fabric stash, trust me!).

Making Pillowcases

I am still making patchwork blocks from my late son’s cotton shirts. And now that I have more than a dozen patchwork blocks for the quilt, I am able to envision how the quilt top will be assembled and how I’ll sew the borders. I am planning an applique vine with leaves.

A small memory wallhanging from these same shirts was made for my late son’s best friend, Tom, who is struggling hard with loss and grief. The wallhanging was made with the same patchwork block.

Wallhanging From His ShirtsThere is no outdoor gardening yet. The ground is still frozen.  And the greenhouse remains closed due to the Arctic Winter here. So at this point, a shelf in our dining room gives us some much-needed greenery. I have started flats of seedlings, including some pepper and tomato seeds that I started early, hoping for an early yield. This week, I will seed more flats but they will be started in the house where it is much warmer than the greenhouse is right now.

I hope the weather warms so we can open the greenhouse and get the water up and running. We are looking forward to the 2014 garden and Spring.