It is spring and a whole new year of cheese making is about to begin. The goats have had their kids and the new flow of milk is starting to come into the cheese room.
For me it is a celebration, like New Years, to taste the rich new milk, smell the rich tangy whey, and take a drink and toast the year ahead.
Here is a pictorial of the cheese- making process
Libby is a landmark for all of our visitors, truly a dog that you won’t forget.
She is a breed of Hungarian livestock guardian dog called a Kommondor. Her skill is to go out with the sheep or goats and if any predators show up or something she deems threatening (gun shots, strangers) she will spring into action to protect her flock.
It didn’t really work that way for our farm. When Libby was a young pup she got shocked by the electric fence and never wandered across that line again. She decided that Rick is her flock and she guards him like a mother hen. Anyone new comes around and you will find Libby standing between Rick and the stranger, until she decides that it’s okay and she wanders off.
Sometimes she will jump on Jet over a chicken or duck that is running around the yard. Is it because she wants to protect the chicken or duck for herself? My reasoning for Libby’s instinctual behavior is that all she thinks about is food and if anything were to happen to Rick how would she eat?
Last year I decided to start a flickr journal 365 Days of Libby, truly the goal was two-sided, Libby is getting old, she was 12 last September 22. And I wanted to start using my camera to record life on the farm, to remember the people who attend workshops and the fun they are having while they are on the farm.
I was pretty good for a while, but every picture was the same, here is Libby laying in the snow in the driveway for a month, then images of Libby laying in the gravel of the driveway for months. The idea started to turn towards Libby being a weather station, if she is wet it is raining, is she blanketed in sunshine, the sun is out. Get the idea?
Truly Libby is a smile station. She brings me joy and lifts my spirits everyday. (No, I didn’t say smell I said smile)
See if it doesn’t work for you.
Darwin: A story with a happy ending.
Several years ago during a Quillisascut Hearth Bread workshop there was a clutch of duck eggs that hatched. It caused some excitement as we scooped up the ducklings and their mother to put them in a safe spot away from dogs, cats and wildlife. This is the continuing story of one of those ducklings named Darwin.
One of the eggs was slow, it was having a hard time cutting the egg open. Baby birds, at hatching time, have a little point on the top of their beak called the “egg tooth”. It is what they use to cut open the shell, called “pipping”. The “egg tooth” is on the top tip of their beak. Can you see the egg tooth on the duckling looking straight ahead, in the top left photo?
As you can imagine it’s a tight fit for the little bird all curled up inside the egg. To free themselves they sort of throw their heads back, tapping at the egg from the inside and cut their way out. It is a slow process and an amazing thing to see, the baby duck cuts off the top of the egg so the head gets free and then they start stretching their bodies and kicking out of the shell.
Sometimes the duckling never makes it out of the shell, it is too weak or there is some other problem. It is hard to sit by and not lend a hand, but it is probably better for the health of the duckling and the flock to simply let nature take its course. (obviously, we are not very good at following this advice and for Darwin, it all turned out okay)
In the *video the question of what will happen with the little duck remains to be decided. Never fear it all turned out happy for lucky Darwin who turned out to be female and is now a very protective mother. *(When the video is posted on youtube, I will let you know.)
Darwin is a Muscovy duck, it takes 35 days for the eggs of the Muscovy breed to incubate. When the mother duck sits on the eggs she keeps them warm, moist, and turns the eggs each day. She still reigns over the barnyard and each summer she surprises us with her own little ducklings. (Cruz will be the dad of the future ducklings.)
It is the end of December and Cranky is the only chicken laying eggs.
You might remember reading about Cranky earlier this year. She was the little chick hatched by a duck. The mother duck would have nothing to do with her, so it was up to us to care for the baby chick. We put her in a box with a light, some chicken feed, clean water and kept her in our house. Cranky complained, she made mad little chicky peeps, hence the name Cranky.
Eventually, Cranky moved outside with the Red Broiler chicks and spent the summer moving around the farm in a mobile pen, until the day all the Red Broilers went to freezer camp.
Cranky was set free to make friends with Mr. and Mrs. Pretty and Billy Jean, the Quilli flock of free range Naked Neck or Turken chickens. Now she spends her days clucking about the farm and building nests in the haystack. Maybe next spring she will hatch some little Crankies of her own. (with some assistance from Mr. Pretty)
What is your chicken story?