Hunting Widow, Week 2

Tom went elk hunting last Friday so I was alone again doing all of the farm chores.  The first issue was that it appeared as if the flax was properly retted.  The fibers easily came off of the inner stalk.  So I drained the pool.  I decided to move the flax into the hay barn and try to dry it on old hay bales in there.  Apparently rodents will not eat it.

This trip also meant that I was going to do Halloween by myself.  So I tried to make the best of it.  I made some mixed nuts/Halloween candy mix to munch on.

And I bought some Halloween cereals too.  I ate one bowl each morning through Halloween, and the rest went to the hogs each day.

I was also involved with worrying about a favorite blogger that had stopped posting.  She was about to turn 90 so this was worrisome.  Her blog is Weaver of Grass, and she posts daily  She is the widow of two farmers so she writes about her experiences farming, history, weather, food, gardening, British politics and just daily life as an elderly lady living on her own with help in the Yorkshire Dales.  Her many followers have all been terribly worried, but we just learned yesterday that she is OK, was in the hospital,  and is back at home again.

Saturday morning when I let the dogs out in the morning, we noticed a peacock and two peahens in the driveway.   Fortunately Steve stopped chasing them when I hollered no, and the beagle went the wrong direction following their scents. I was terribly worried that they would fly onto our busy road, but I managed to herd them back to the pasture.  I haven’t seen them out since.

Here is Ryeleigh on the scent.

Saturday morning the spider webs on the grass were looking appropriately spooky,

Here are the hogs enjoying the Boo Berries.

Saturday was also Hug A Sheep day.  I participated in a zoom earlier with Crazy Sheep Lady which was fun.  And then when it was light out I hugged some of my sheep (the friendly ones).  This is Hodor enjoying the holiday.

I noticed some pretty fat hog butts.

And the poor puppies waiting anxiously for me to be done with the farm chores.

Since Tom was away, I got to make foods that I like that he does not.  The first of these was Pumpkin chili. It made for a great pre-Halloween dinner.

I finally caught the younger peacock with some sunlight on his feathers.  There is a lovely bronze color to them.


I moved the turkeys into the “pheasant pen” in anticipation of Butcher Day which I would have to do by myself this year.  I tried to only move some of the turkeys, but then the excluded ones were upset so ultimately all 7 turkeys ended up in the pen.

Unfortunately on Sunday the rains came, and the silly turkeys would not go in the “grampa shed” to get out of the rain.  They were getting soaked.  I put some enticing foods in the shed, and some of them went in.

Then Sunday afternoon I was skeining yarn in front of an amazing Seahawks win!

I had a dog fan rooting beside me.

I am trying to train Marji to go in the llama stanchion with the hopes that I will be able to milk her after she calves.  We are making some progress.

For Halloween morning I had the Crunch cereal.  The other cereal boxes had lame backs, but this one was like the cereal boxes of my childhood.  Now mind you, I rarely got sugary cereals as a kid so it was a treat when I did.  But this box and cereal were fun, and the milk turned green.

On Halloween the hogs got candy as well as cereal.

I have started feeding the sheep hay so now everyone is on hay rather than grass.

This is an example of how much rain we have been receiving.  I am regularly emptying the rain gauge now.  It is so weird how quickly we went from drought to potential flooding.

To appease myself for the holiday, in the afternoon I made funeral biscuits.  I had participated in a zoom about this from England the day before so tackled the recipes with the KitchenAid and treacle.

I did this while listening to Halloween music from Jim Ladd, one of our favorite DJs.

These were the Henry Norris’s Ladyfingers for funerals.  Funeral biscuits were included in funeral announcements that were laid at the doorsteps of family, friends and neighbors.  It sounds like they tended to eat the biscuits (cookies) at the ceremony.  This seemed a little weird, and I guess it was as the practice discontinued in the 1920, also likely aided by improved communications.  Unfortunately my ladyfingers did not turn out well.  They were too moist and not uniform.

I also made Henry Norris’s Bolton funeral biscuits.  Now these are excellent.  The ginger, caraway and treacle is a nice combination of flavors.  And these cookies are meant to be a little moist.

For dinner (since Tom’s away) I made Puget Sound Seafood Chowder using some trout and salmon languishing in our freezer.  It was quite yummy and comforting.

I was still listening to Jim Ladd, and this amazing song came on.  We saw him in concert, and he is an amazing performer.

For Halloween itself, I lit some dripping black candles I had purchased for the occasion as well as other candles I have.  It provided the correct ambience I feel.

So I started off as always with the Great Pumpkin!

With a beagle by my side.

And then I watched Monstrum.  This is a PBS series about the historical origins of monsters from around the world. It is fascinating, but of course I fell asleep on the couch before I could finish. Maybe next year?

The next day, somewhat appropriately, was poultry butchering day.  A friend brought over an unwanted rooster so that meant that this hen was saved.

As Tom had our truck, I had to pack 12 chickens, 4 turkeys and their container in my little car.  This was a challenge.  And I do not feel that these photos so it justice.

After I dropped off the poultry at our butcher I returned to the farm to notice that the White Midget turkey that I saved for breeding was acting poorly.  He had a wry neck and was hiding in corners, in this case the nettles which I didn’t think was good.  I was thinking perhaps I should have butchered him instead but didn’t notice it in time.  But also, I couldn’t tell if this was an injury or infection so not wise to make meat of him, not knowing.  I did some quick research and decided that there was  good chance it was an infection so gave him dose of oxytetracycline.  And today he is much better.  I still don’t know which it was but happy he has mostly recovered.

In addition to the Columbian Wyandotte rooster that I saved, I also decided to keep the orange rooster I was liking.  I chose instead to butcher all of the hay loft chicks, 7 roosters and 3 hens.  They were not large, but the roosters were quite mean.  Plus I opted to butcher the rooster that had escaped last year’s butchering because he escaped from Tom, but I believe is the father of all of these mean roosters.  I am trying to improve the genetics of the flock.  So happy we will be having docile roosters as our breeders moving forward.  But now I need names for my new roosters.

Interestingly Tuesday I found this hunk of ice behind the pump house.  There must have been some hail overnight that I hadn’t realized.  What weird weather?

Then I had to pick up the containers and the meat.  I was hoping to break down the containers to fit them in my car better, but most were wired shut.  So once again it was a challenge fitting them in my car. One of the workers called it Tetris.  But I managed to get the containers in the back, but then had to find a space for the chicken and turkeys.  So they rode shotgun.

Here are the turkey in the freezer.  You can see the range of sizes due to the severe predation issues this year.

I did keep the White Midget tom and two jennies from Eliz for our future breeding stock.  Hopefully this will all work out.

I worked Wednesday so our amazing farmsitter Dani looked after the farm, course and dogs in our absence.  Yesterday I did the chores and was extremely tired. You may have heard about the RSV surge, and it is real.  Work has been REALLY challenging recently.  But I made it home and got the chores done.  This was the first time I have seen the two peacocks near each other.  You can see the different in their feather colors.

On top of everything, our hoses froze yesterday.  So I spent quite a bit of time getting the ice out of them to be able to water the animals.  Here is some of what I got out.

I then retired to an afternoon of Upstairs Downstairs.  I have been binging on this in Tom’s absence and thoroughly enjoying it.  Tom was supposed to come home today but due to the weather forecast in the mountains he come home a day early.  He didn’t get an elk which is sad news for our Rory.  But he had  good time nonetheless.  This meant that I had help on the farm today.  Which was a good thing as it is now flooding.

We had to move the younger sheep and the pigs out of the flooded pasture which was definitely some work. And since we had our first signifiant frost I had to harvest the rest of the squash before the rodents ate them all. Great fun in a cold and torrential downpour!  And on top of that our goat Meadowlark died in front of me this morning.  I will have to prepare a tribute to her.  But this has been a crummy day so far.  Our plan is to go shopping and forget about it for a bit.






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5 Responses to Hunting Widow, Week 2

  1. You’ve been busy; made my back ache just reading it all!So sorry about Meadowlark.

  2. Jeanne says:

    Wow! You rally went all out with the Halloween goodies! Do you ever get little Trick or Treaters at your door?
    Could you please send me the recipe for the Henry Norris’s Bolton funeral crackers?
    They look really good.
    Your young peacock is really different! It’ll be fun to see him as he matures a little more.
    I’m sorry you’ve had more flooding. We’ve had rain, but not enough to cause flooding.
    I had to laugh, when I watched Ryeleigh on the scent of those peacocks! So cute!

    • Jeanne says:

      P.S. I noticed your Kitchen Aid in one of the pictures… Am I right in thinking it had died? I seem to recall that you thought you’d be able to repair it.

    • Donna says:

      We do not get Trick or Treaters here. Our road is way too scary for that. I will send you the recipe. It will be fun continuing to watch him develop. I just hope they get along. The flood has decreased now but it is cold! Ryeleigh loves her scent trails but she’s still not very good at determining direction.

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