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Adventures in Vermont : Catching Up.  Share on Facebook
Posted by Aimee on 2009/3/31 10:20:00 (1117 reads)

Once again, my apologies for abandoning the blog as of late. I have not been feeling up to par lately - between hubby's little doctor visit, moving furniture from Bennington to my neighborhood, taking care of all the critters by myself before tending to my messy house, I am exhausted. It's not a surprise I am feeling like dirt.

Mud season has arrived in Vermont. My boots are caked with it, the bottom half of my truck is streaked with it, my dogs track it through the house and well... this is the ugliest time of the year in Vermont.

I just came from downstairs and candled (that's shined a light in for you non-farm types) the dozen some eggs in my incubator in the basement. Not a single goose egg is fertile. This isn't that uncommon for yearling geese but I am a bit disappointed. My gander has been breeding his girlies (as indicated by the copious amount of mud on the girlies' backs) but he's shooting blanks. Bummer. I've checked about a dozen eggs so far... I hope we get some fertile goose eggs this year. My black Marans eggs are a different story - ALL of them are fertile and will be hatching at the end of the week. I will be getting pictures of my incubator in the next day or so - I am waiting on a half dozen eggs purchased on eBay of Black Copper Marans eggs. They should be here today or tomorrow. Newly shipped eggs need to sit at room temp for 12-24 hours before the incubation process starts to let the egg settle. Apparently all that jostling around in the mailman's truck is not conducive to good embryo development and you get a better hatch if you let them sit. Logically, this doesn't really make sense because the egg hasn't begun developing yet but I threw logic out the window when I moved to a farm.

It would appear I have a serious buyer for Second Born, the Oberhasli buck I've been trying to sell forever. He is either being sold for cash or being traded for a black Merino ram lamb that will end up in our freezer before the summer is over. Choosing between rack of lamb and ham for Christmas, rather than trying to figure out if I will have enough cockatiels to trade for a meal, is a welcome option. The prospective buyer will be up on Sunday - if she shows up with a sheep, I will be posting pictures... I think a sheep is the one farm animal I haven't kept at this point. Layla, our sleepy border collie, will be in awe...

I spent a few minutes venting about an individual on a forum I post in on a regular basis. All I can say is I finally made use of the ignore button. Some people just like to fight. On this farm, we have a saying... "Mean makes a meal". Lady, thank your lucky stars you aren't a friggin' chicken.

And finally... a little bit of a review.
Because I've had a client paying me in gift certificates to a handful of etailers/retailers, I've had a chance to try some good stuff lately.

I got an order from Teavana with some of the fastest shipping any company has ever provided. I ordered on Friday afternoon, picked UPS ground shipping and the package was at my doorstep by noon on Monday. Unfortunately, of the two blends I have tried so far (I ordered six), I am not terribly in love with either. The Roobios Sweet Amore was not bad but the vanilla, fruit and almonds taste was almost undetectable. The Sweet Fruit Garden smelled absolutely fantastic but was not as sweet as I was hoping for. Hubby thought it smelled like a fruity trail mix and I do think with sugar it will make a fabulous iced tea. Too bad I gave up sugar earlier this year.

Cocoa Pink has some of the nicest bath products I have ever tried. The owner, Ilona, is a Scent Virtuoso who combines some scents into some absolutely incredible concoctions. The downside to this company seems to be the long turn around time from order to doorstep. Three to four weeks is normal and many orders go longer than that. My recommendation is to order and forget about it for a month. That being said her pumpkin scents are simply divine so don't miss her Fall restock.

Skindecent. Finally. Something that works on My daughter's hair!! A conditioner that makes it feel good and comes in fantastic scents. If you don't order anything else from this place, then you must order the conditioner. I do want to say though, having been a Burt's Bees Lip Balm girl for many years, after Marliss, the owner of Skindecent, sent a sample of her peppermint lip balm to me in my order, I don't know if I will ever by a BB lip balm again. Wow. Just Wow.

Okay... I am actually supposed to be working (although my phone isnt' exactly ringing off the hook this morning) so off I go. My daughter is home sick this morning... so I'm going to go pop my head in on her.

Critters : Just sharing a pic...  Share on Facebook
Posted by Aimee on 2009/3/16 9:22:42 (1167 reads)

Taken with my cell phone this morning, hence it is not incredibly crisp. Everyone was so quiet and relaxed.

Adventures in Vermont : Future Food  Share on Facebook
Posted by Aimee on 2009/3/9 20:30:00 (1084 reads)

I didn't get as much done this weekend as I had hoped but this morning has been a busy one. After picking up my two round bales and talking to some clients on the phone, getting the first round of dishes into the dishwasher, paying the Electric Company before the power got shut off and placing my birthday order from Sephora with some leftover egift cards, as I type, I am letting my egg incubator sit with some bleach for a few minutes and taking a short break. I had wanted to get the eggs in the incubator over the weekend but my geese decided the stall they moved themselves into was too dark and quit laying. After moving them to a sunnier stall, I got another egg yesterday so hopefully I will get the incubator cleaned out today and then I can start testing the fertility on those goose eggs.

In the meantime, I am going to need to need to replace the fence charger. Our horses aren't really difficult to contain. At least the ponies aren't. Cuey, our big paint horse that is currently on lease in Massachusetts, is a different story. This is Cuey.. aka Begley's King McCue:

We bought Cuey as a "backyard" horse for my niece, who lived with us for a little while. Cuey is easy to ride, he jumps and he's nearly bombproof (yes.. we did have a bomb. Don't ask.) But Cuey has NO respect for fences. We can not fool him and he knows the grass is greener on the other side. On one beautiful summer afternoon while we were still living in Lexington, KY, I drove past my neighbor's house and glanced into their field thinking "Oh wow. The neighbors got a Holstein." No... it wasn't a Holstein. It was my 1300lb idiot horse who literally walked right through the fence, splitting 4 rails and is now grazing happily in my neighbor's field. I get out of my car, go over to the neighbor's field and all that fine grass has revived my usually lazy gelding and he starts galloping all over the field, anxiously eying the lead rope in my hand. 20 minutes later, I am sweating profusely, my face is purple, I have this odd burning sensation around my ribs and my horse finally tires out enough for me to catch him and put him back on the lead. Exhausted, I bring him back over to the ravaged fence and suddenly my horse develops a new found respect for fences and refuses to walk back through the broken fence. So I walk him...by hand... down a state highway and over to our property and into his stall. The burning sensation? Two days later... I developed shingles. My horse gave me shingles. I don't think I can ever forgive him for that, really.
Anyway, we need a new fence charger that will hold in our ponies and our goats. Goats are hard to fence in. They have the same respect for fences that Cuey does. None. So high voltage electric is the only way to go and the charger that has dutifully served us for the last 17 months appears to be dead.
So what does this all have to do with future food, you ask? Tempted as I might be by fine French cuisine, no, Cuey is not on the menu.
Compliments of a gift certificate from a client, I will be purchasing 25 meat chickens and 15 turkeys (although not all the turkeys will be "meat turkeys", the 5 Narragansetts will be staying as breeder birds). We are also getting a piglet to be butchered in the fall. The piglet and the poultry will be turned out in a small paddock, so I need to put up additional electrical netting to prevent anyone from sneaking under the rails of our hotwire-reinforced plank fencing.
Pigs. We are getting a Tamworth pig cross... Supposedly Tamworths are lean pigs with deep sides giving you more presumably lean bacon. We intend to keep a small garbage pail in our kitchen and all food scraps will go into the pail to feed said pig, as well as providing the pig with room to graze, apples from our very long neglected orchard and some supplementary pig food. Think of the pig as a hypercomposter. Fresh pork is absolutely nothing like the stuff you get in the store, so I look forward to sharing this gastronomical delight with my family members.

Tomorrow I have a dentist appointment... Oh joy.

Adventures in Vermont : Enough Already!  Share on Facebook
Posted by Aimee on 2009/3/5 9:32:48 (1112 reads)

Mother Nature ought to have a "safe word". Come this time of year, every Vermonter I have known is ready for winter to go. It was -6F yesterday. Tonight we are expecting snow and tomorrow, ice. Fab. Even my truck seems to have had enough, as indicated by the horrible high pitched groan it makes when I turn it on in sub-zero temps these days. I'm ready for spring. In Vermont, they could put grass on the side of an organic milk carton. "Grass". Last seen in November of 2008. Seriously. I've over winter already. Mercy. Stop. Whatever.
Thanks to the freeze-thaw-freeze pattern of March days, the 5 foot pile of snow in front of my now impossible to reach mailbox is a mound of rock-solid frozen snow in a sooty slush wrapper. You can imagine my surprise when I stopped by our local post office yesterday and was informed that my mailman actually delivered mail to my house. Lo and behold, when I got home, there was a box from CocoaPink (compliments of a client), a sample of solid conditioner from CocoaPink (sent by a Lush Forumite who was kind enough to share a piece so we could try it before the meltable deadline. I wasn't sure if the aforementioned package would get here before the deadline) and several days worth of mail. It turns out my regular mailman was out and the sub actually bothered to do the job my regular mailman doesn't think I tip enough to do. I'm broke, regular mailman. Don't let the big house and the ponies fool ya'... Just because I get deliveries of luxurious bath products from exotic sounding companies does not mean I actually paid for those products!

My geese have started laying and this is a very good thing. Geese are the perfect farm animal. They give you an egg large enough for an omelet, they eat grass when the ground is not covered with so much snow that you doubt the existence of grass, they get fat enough on said grass that you can butcher goslings in the fall with very little cash output to get them that big and all that goose down can be washed and turned into comforters, pillows and all things down. Being that I am on a fat restricted diet, I will not be eating any goose this year (they are fatty) but I may be selling eggs/goslings. I will be firing up my incubator this weekend and hopefully by Monday I can put a a half dozen eggs in the incubator. If they are fertile, I will probably be selling eggs at $10 a piece and goslings for $25. My marans chickens are also laying and I will likely be putting a few eggs in the incubator after I test those goose eggs. I love marans. They are reliable layers, good parents and have good temperaments. And the egg color... These are excellent quality maran eggs from Belgium:

They look like real life cadbury eggs. Our marans don't lay eggs anywhere near that dark (they are more terra cotta) but it gives me something to work towards.

About the CocoaPink stuff... today I am trying out "Boo Boo Lemon Noel" which has this incredible lemon cream smell to it. I think I may eventually get some shampoo/conditioner in this scent. Really nice.
The sample the Lush Forumite member sent me was "Hello Pumpkin Sugar" but I really wanted to call it "Hello where do I get more of this stuff???" I had the sample on my desk before I got my daughter into the shower and the whole time I was trying to figure out what that incredible smell was. I like pumpkin but would normally not tried that scent... I mean, pumpkin. Not really a bad scent but I didn't think I wanted to smell like one. This stuff is divine. And the "Black Coffee" sugar scrub bar. I love the smell of coffee... but that smelled like a cappuccino cookie. Yum!

Okay... back to work!

Adventures in Vermont : Smoking Bowls  Share on Facebook
Posted by Aimee on 2009/3/1 9:54:14 (1873 reads)

Yesterday, we took a day trip down I-91 towards Brattleboro, VT. Brattleboro is a great little town and it really embodies all of what liberal Vermont is all about. It is a town that currently has an outstanding warrant for the arrest of Bush and Cheney, if that helps you visualize. Anyway, just north of Brattleboro, at Exit 6 on I-91 is a gem of an eatery. It's a small shack - maybe 6'x5' located on the side of the road and they serve fantastic gourmet soup with warm sourdough bread ($5), chili ($6), pulled pork sandwiches and a few dessert type items.

Between the three of us and the two visits we made to Smoking Bowls on the way to and from Brattleboro, we had the Cheech & Chong Chili, pulled pork sandwiches (my daughter said these were the best "Sloppy Joes" she's ever had) and the apple onion smoked cheddar soup. All were quite good, the servings were generous (the soup and chili are served in a 16oz cup) and while the target market are the NYC skiers heading towards ski country to the north, out of the nearly 10 cars that pulled up during our short lunchtime stay, only 2 were out of state. Clearly, the locals utilize Smoking Bowls just as often as the flatlanders.

Smoking Bowls was started by a local caterer who was looking to make some cash through the slow winter season here in Vermont. Seems like they are doing okay with this little place. If they opened one in downtown Montpelier (the capital of Vermont and the smallest capital in the entire US), they would be swamped.

We finished off our meal with one of Smoking Bowls own label of soda:

Should you find yourself on I-91 in Vermont sometime through the winter and are looking for some fab soup, Smoking Bowls is located at Exit 6 heading towards Rockingham. They are open from 11-7 daily through ski season.

Tomorrow I take Scarlett for her final Gardasil shot. Wish me luck!

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