summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Story...of sorts


I was shopping in Wal-Mart and just happened down the Christmas aisle.  I do not need any more Christmas paraphernalia as I have bunches…from my Grandmother, my Mother and my own. I just like to look at the new items being offered for the current year. I prefer antiques.


But, I saw and decided to purchase a $2.00 plastic resin donkey figurine.  It was being sold with other Nativity figures.  Our Nativity needed a donkey. I scrutinized each donkey looking for the best of the bunch.  I am a bit fanatical that way. The figurine seemed to be just the right size to blend in with the other figures in Glenn’s Nativity.  (I purchased this Nativity in a local antique store as a Christmas gift for Glenn two years ago.  Glenn is not fond of antiques, but he did not grumble over this purchase.) And, we just had to include a donkey since we have a real donkey on the farm…makes sense to me. Besides, let’s not forget the story...mode of transportation - a donkey. A donkey was required to complete our vignette.


I gingerly placed the donkey in my cart so that it would not fall and break.  I still had plenty of other shopping to do, so I needed to be very careful for quite a span of time.  At the checkout, I asked the clerk to double wrap the figurine so that it was protected.  I then placed it in a bag that contained two towels I was purchasing for the guest bathroom.  I nestled the figure carefully within the towels for additional protection.


I loaded that bag into my car with more care as I placed it in a location where no other item, especially a heavier one, might fall on it.  When I unloaded that bag from my car into the house, I again took extra steps to unload that bag first, carry it into the house and place it in a safe place on the counter. 


Hours later, I decided to look at the towels. I whipped them out of the bag and gave them a good shake. I heard a loud thump on the floor.  You guessed it…my donkey. 


Unfortunately, an ear broke off my donkey - yikes!


Days later,  I returned to Walmart to buy Krazy glue since Glenn said our Elmer’s glue was not strong enough for the repair.  I decided it might be just as easy to purchase a new donkey, but alas, they were gone.  All that was remaining were a few wise men and two sheep.  I thought about getting a sheep since we have real sheep on our farm, too; but their faces looked so cartoony that I decided not to increase the size of the flock roaming around the manger.


So, off to the office supplies section for a tube of Krazy glue.


When I got home, I took the glue package, read some of the directions and decided to repair the donkey’s ear immediately.  I began by lightly dabbing the tip of the glue tube, as directed, on the head of the donkey where the ear was to return.  Without warning, all the glue spewed from the tube covering the donkey and the majority of my thumb.  Within a split moment, my thumb was attached to the donkey.  I panicked.  I pulled and pulled and pulled until my thumb released.  I quickly tried to attach the ear part. 


Initially, I was hoping for a flawless repair…NOT!  The body shined with dried glue and the ear was out of alignment.  Boo Hoo!  And, my thumb was sore from ripping it in my desperation. 


I went back to the directions where I read…if skin gets stuck to item, DO NOT pull - use acetone to soften the glue for an easy release.  I guess I should have read All the directions before starting this project. 


Well, said tube of glue is empty from one teenie tiny repair job, the donkey looks a bit odd covered in gloss sitting in his assigned position next to the manger, and my thumb is on the mend.


I think, next time, I will stay away from Krazy glue and stick with that white, washable Elmer’s glue instead.



Friday, December 20, 2013

Recycle, Upcycle, Reuse

This is Becky’s feed shed - freshly painted, an original farm outbuilding - NOT!

 Glenn obtained this wooden structure years ago when the Forest Service decided to replace many of these rustic structures with more modern, concrete ones. 


Yes, this was an official federal government outhouse - two doors, two stalls, male and female - we removed the informational signs.


I remember when Glenn and I went to remove the obsolete structures (we got two) from the government facility - a campground.  Once loaded on our flatbed, we slowly drove the 20 miles homes, stopping for lunch at a small, country store/gas station.


We got plenty of looks.


We used one of the buildings for years for our cattle feed storage.  Three years ago, we changed our management to grass-fed only…no supplemental grain.  The building stands idle at the corner of our yard, looking like an outhouse.  


Recently, Becky added pigs to her farm.  She needed a place to store grain for her pigs.  The transfer between the farms was obvious.  Glenn and Becky loaded one of the ‘outhouses’ (the one hidden in a corner of the pasture, of course) on the flatbed and trucked it to the ’55 farm’.  Again, the sight caught the attention of many. (See blog Oct. 13, 2013 -A Most Unusual Haul)


Becky placed the storage structure as close to her pig feeder as possible to make the filling of her feeder easy and yet accessible for a large truck which would supply and fill the structure with bulk feed.  Nestled between the barn and the silo was the most desirable location.


Then, Becky did something we had not for all those years the building was in our possession.  She repaired it and, most importantly, she painted it.  Doesn’t’ it look good?


And now, the structure is undeniably a farm outbuilding, not a recycled government outhouse.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oink, Oink

These are Becky's pigs - all gilts (female)...wandering around the pasture and waiting for the boar.

I am waiting for the PORK!

Aren't they cute?

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Glimpse of Next Season

This morning I awoke to icy surroundings.  I am glad that I was able to stay inside.


The ice was beautiful as it covered my world in a thin layer of glass altering each and every object into ethereal fascination.


As the clouds moved on, the deep grey sky abruptly transformed to one that was super bright, almost blinding.


The perspective quickly changed to sparkles before slipping away drop by drop.  Soon, only a wetness of the earth and vegetation remained.


I was glad that I was able to experience that magical moment.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Spending Time with a Friend

A few weeks ago my friend Ann came over. 


We spent a lot of time talking and a little time working on a Christmas craft that was originally scheduled for 2012.  One year later, we finally found a bit of time to create together.


We each covered a foam tree shape with pine cones scales.  This process sounds easy but, at times, was a bit abusive to our hands as the super dried cones (Ann collected them over one year ago and I squirreled the cones away to be saved for this particular project) were sharp and difficult to break into the components, the scales, we needed for the project.  Also, tacky glue stuck to our fingers made the task even more challenging.  Ann and I both are many years out from the time of Glue 101 in elementary school. 


Then, came the finishing of the tree’s top.  We tried the scales set into a closed triangle and that looked odd.  Then, we cut the bottom, non-stem section, of a pine cone and placed it at the pinnacle.  That also looked odd.  Finally, Ann had a revelation.  She inverted this bottom section and it fit nicely over the tree top - perfect fit.  The finished product actually looked ‘right’.


We each ended up with a rustic, country-style tree to add to our home d├ęcor - a perfect addition for the Christmas season, for any season.


The best part of the day was not the resulting tree, as cute as it is, but the hours Ann and I spent talking, sharing and most of all laughing.


Life continues to be good!


My advice…call a friend over and share in a hands on project together - food for the spirit and soul.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

JAKE - More Than Just A Farm Dog

Jake, loyal farm dog and loyal companion extraordinaire, has died.  I miss him dearly.


I thought I could write this blog without tears…I cannot!


Jake entered our lives, almost 15 years ago, as a bouncing and very excited fluffy puppy.  Becky wanted a dog and we agreed to let her have a short-haired female.  Jake was neither short-haired nor was he female. But, his disposition made up for these shortcomings.


For the first years of his life, Jake grew under the guidance of our black lab mix, Pepper.  Pepper was a wanderer and Jake, the obedient pupil, followed.  After Pepper died, Jake matured into a loving, loyal stay-at-home dog.  He followed us everywhere.  He never wandered.  He had the best personality.  We all loved Jake.


Jake was the only dog on the farm for a few years.  He and the three cats became great friends.  Jake would share his food with the cats.  Jake would share his bed with the cats.  Jake would groom the cats.  But, there was something missing in Jake’s life.  He needed canine company.  So, we eventually added a border collie to our farm.  Jake was happier.  Jake was now the teacher.  Buddy the pupil. 


The kids moved off the farm for various reasons.  The two dogs became my responsibly, and quickly my bosom buddies.  All was well, even on those days that I forgot to feed them.  They never complained.


Then, Jake began to age.  Buddy became his caretaker, watching to make sure he returned from their daily constitutionals. Buddy would sit and watch the woods waiting for Jake.  Eventually, Jake would emerge and Buddy could move on with his activities.  Jake returned the favor by searching the sky for birds for Buddy to chase.  Jake would announce the birds with a solid bark. This is something he did only during this last year.  Every day, the energetic step of Jake’s became less lively.  When I walked faster than Jake, I was sad.  I knew Jake was on the downhill. Unknown to me, Jake remained ‘top dog’ though, which I discovered after he died.


Jake would never miss our frequent walks, no matter how far behind us he would follow and no matter how slow.  I called his pace ‘Jake speed’.  I, too, frequently walk at ‘Jake speed’ these days.


The morning of the day Jake went down, I watched Jake and Buddy playing in the barn lot from an upstairs window - a happy moment to witness.  Soon, Jake was down, never to gain his footing again.  Becky came over and sat with Jake all day, hours in the cold air sitting on the cold ground, comforting him as he began to die.   As evening approached, the temperatures dropped even more, so Glenn and Becky moved Jake into the store room next to the main door of the house.  Buddy kept vigil and the cats curled in Jake’s furry tummy as was their routine.  Jake, with very sad eyes, just lay motionless.


Jake slipped away during the second night.


 I cried every time I thought about Jake. Buddy was uneasy eating alone.  The cats continued to look for Jake and their favorite napping spot.  Buddy began to chase the cats.  The cats began to hiss at Buddy.  There was no ‘top dog’ to keep everyone in his/her place.  The harmony was gone. 


Buddy is still very lost.  Buddy misses Jake.  The cats continue to look for Jake in all his favorite places.  The cats miss Jake.  And, I still cry when I think of my totally faithful companion.  I miss Jake.  Glenn misses Jake. Becky misses Jake.


Jake was a GREAT dog. 


Jake will always be missed.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Worthy of BONUS Status

Yesterday morning, Glenn called out to me to quickly look out the window.

Two bucks were scrimmaging in the pasture just below the house. (Note: My best video would not download.)

I quietly moved to the deck outside.  They looked up, but they did not run off.


They were so remarkable to watch.  Occasionally, they would both stop and look around to make sure they were still ‘safe’.  I could hear the soft blows as both sets of antlers met.


I see deer all the time - mostly does and fawns, a chance buck.  But, I have never seen two bucks, in my actual view shed, skirmish.  


I will add this event to my ‘bonus’ list.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Morning Surprise

Glenn returned from checking the flerd this morning, as he does every morning.
But, today, he wanted me to go back out with him and see something.  I put on my winter coat, knitted hat/scarf combo and grabbed a pair of gloves.  I was overdressed.
This fall morning was warm and sunny. Not a breeze stirred.  Beauty at its best!
As we walked toward the pasture where the flerd currently grazed, I was glad to up and out enjoying one of the last fabulous days of this season.  The weather was sure to turn and stay cold soon. (But, I have been wrong in the past.) The dogs followed making the trek team complete.
Then, Glenn pointed and I looked.  Two brand new lambs.  What?  Our lambing begins in April and ends in June.  What a surprise!
Eyes closed.  Mama ewe is covered with burrs like all of our sheep. 
These guys were the typical babies...wanting to sleep and eat and sleep again.
Eyes open.
We have just finished our fall calving with our newest (most recent purchase) heifers, so these guys will fit right in.
What I would like to know is when did we change from one calving/lambing season in the spring to two - spring and fall?  Where have I been?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fantastic Fall

The fall season progresses, the leaves continue to drop, and the sun’s rays can now reach the forest floor easily through the breaks in the forest canopy; once thick and almost impenetrable.
The sunshine is bright, the leaves are golden and the mood is happy and joyful which is in great contrast to the ominous atmosphere resulting from the darkness of summer’s full canopy.  

Even though the earth is beginning its time of slumber, the overall feeling is one of jubilation and activity.  The cool weather is advantageous to my body and spirit.  I have more energy, more movement and more initiative than during the hot, humid days of summer… a great reason for declaring autumn my favorite season of the four.


One of my favorite fall activities is leaf crunching - walking noisily through the dried fallen leaves.  I even caught Jake partaking of this activity today.


 I feel alive!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A New Addition, Or Should I say Additions, To The Farm

Yesterday was shopping day.  Not for groceries, or clothes but for a new Katahdin breeding ram.

Glenn and I drove over the mountain to Monterey, Virginia, home of the Highland County Maple Festival which is held in March when the sap is running and the sugar bushes are in full activity.  Since the deciduous trees in our area currently display a very muted fall color, I was expecting the same in Highland County.  I was wrong.  The leaves of the mature sugar maples had already fallen.  In fact, most of the trees exposed their winter wear - leafless branches.
Father of  'little ram'
Mother of 'little ram'
The owner of the ram we went to see was friendly and hospitable.  We viewed the 4-month old ram.  Then, before making any decision on the purchase, we were shown the parents of said ram along with a full tour of his farms which included viewing his herd of Galloway cattle, both belted and solid; his sheep flock which included a sentry dog, and various other aspects of his well-maintained, beautiful farm.  Magnificent views surrounded us, 360, from every hilltop.  The afternoon was fabulous.

a white Galloway or a teddy cow?

the 'guard' dog

the guard dog resting

the guard dog 'on break'
We loaded the little ram into the covered back of Becky’s pickup truck along with his twin sister.  Yep, we ended up buying the pair who, of course, had been together since birth. 

On our way back through Monterey, we made quick stop for dinner at a local restaurant/tavern.  It was about 5:00Pm and I had not eaten since my yogurt at breakfast.  Both Glen and I ordered the special - spaghetti, garlic bread and one trip to the salad bar.  The salad bar was fresh and had plenty of choices that I liked.  I promised Glenn half of my salad (remember…we only got one trip) but I ended up eating the entire plate myself.  It was that good.  My spaghetti sat while I enjoyed the salad.  I also like cold food, so I was not concerned.  But, by the time I dug into the plateful of spaghetti, it was still steaming hot.  And, the sauce was fabulous.  I am usually not a fan of restaurant spaghetti, but his was seasoned perfectly.  I did share the spaghetti with Glenn. And, I am glad I did.  I left the table quite full.

At the top of the mountain, we made another quick stop to enjoy the setting-sun view.  From several feet away, we heard the lambs bouncing around in the back of the truck which was our signal to continue on our trip home.

We arrived back at our farm after dark.  Glenn backed the truck into the barn so that we could unload the two lambs into the barn paddock for their first night at Mountain Glen.  The ram went first.  As Glenn returned for the little ewe, the little ram escaped into the barn. Quickly, I bear hugged the ewe while Glenn retrieved the ram before he could reach the darkness of the yard - a potential problem avoided - whew!
'little ram'
By the time breeding season arrives, this little guy will be ready to take on the young ewe lambs that will also be ready for breeding.  Winky, our seasoned ram, will handle the breeding of the older ladies.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Autumn Advances

Autumn continues to advance.  The multitude of the greens of summer have/are transforming into the myriads of autumn hues - golds, browns, reds, yellows, and more.

Unfortunately, this autumn is not the color blaster that most people look forward to as early fall advances into mid- fall. This year we have what I affectionately call a 'russet fall'.

As for me, I am just a lover of the fall season - color change, any change, is a wonderful sight.  I just like color.  All color!  Yes, the vibrant hues are exciting.  But, the more muted tones can be just as fabulous. 

And, the more prominent browns of this year result in a natural calm.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Most Unusual Haul

Becky needed a few items for her farm that were currently taking up residence on the main farm.


So, the items were loaded and hauled to the ‘55’ farm.


A trough feeder was loaded.  The feeder was sitting (rusting) unused in the pasture.  It was perfect to serve feed up to Becky’s newest acquisition…her pigs.


A few bales of hay were loaded.  Glenn had just purchased some bales of hay.  He filled the main hay barn as well as a section of the utility barn (No more vehicle parking there.)  The remaining bales were lying around and taking up space in the yard.  They would be better off stored in the big old barn at ‘55’. So, those scattered few bales were loaded.


The hardest item to load was the OUTHOUSE. Yes, OUTHOUSE.  This outhouse was also sitting out in the pasture, not rusting, but rotting.  So, off to ‘55’.  This outhouse would be transformed into a feed storage bin so that Becky could purchase pig feed in bulk - much easier and much cheaper than buying it in 50 pound bags as she has been doing since the pigs were added to her farm animal mix.

Now, why did we have a outhouse sitting in our pasture?  That is another story for another blog.  But, this outhouse had gone unused for over 10 years waiting for just such a time when it could be put back into action; a different action, but action nonetheless. 


I was told that the rolls of toilet paper were still in place, though.
The load slowly moved down the highway to '55' where it was unloaded.

And, maybe no one will notice the privy as it hides behind the silo when it is finally put into place.  But, right now, it is in full view sitting in the barn lot.  The cows have shown no interest or intent on using this structure which has just shown up in their domain. 


Recycle, reuse, upcycle…you make that choice!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I'm Back..Did You Miss Me?

Yep, I am posting in my blog.  I do not know if you missed me, but I certainly missed contributing to my journal.
Autumn is my favorite season, so I will begin by posting just a few early autumn highlights.
Sit back and enjoy!



Friday, September 20, 2013

She Has Done It Again...oink, oink, oink, oink

Yep, Becky has done it again…she has bought more pigs.


This time they are younger, smaller, and a lot more vocal as in squealers. But, they are so cute.


Yesterday, Becky purchased four Tamworth cross, 6 week old, piglets.  Now, her total equals six, future breeding , gilts.  She brought them home in the back of her pick-up.  Glenn helped her unload them, by hand, into her shed.  Ear-splitting squealing accompanied the process.


I have not been privy to pigs in my past.  I am amazed at how noisy they are.  They walk with a grunt, they stand with a grunt, they follow each other around with a grunt, they eat with loud, smacking and chewing and they drink with much slurping.  I have not seen them sleeping yet.


Now, my job is to name the six.  I can handle that task. Since all six have English breeding, I thought they deserved proper English names.  At the moment, no definite decisions have been made.  Any suggestions?

Hmmm…now where did I put that recipe book…

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


This is not a new subject in our household.  In fact, the subject has come up annually for years.


That subject would be raising pigs.  Yes, pigs. 

And, the task of raising pigs is not new.  Glenn raised pigs during his high school 4-H years.  Yeah, yeah, yeah…that was soooo long ago; but, some things a person does not forget and that includes pig husbandry.  I hope!


But, this time…the one doing the raising is Becky.  Why not? She is raising chickens for eggs, cows for feeder calves and beef, sheep for lamb, and now…pigs for feeder pigs and pork.  


PORK!  I love pork.  I was raised on dumplings, gravy, sauerkraut and roast pork - the family’s favorite Sunday meal - nothing better.  My mouth is already watering in anticipation. 


So last night, Glenn, Becky, Becky’s friend Colby and I drove one hour to SEE the gilts (young females).  On arrival, we were met by the seller at the beginning of his driveway.  We followed him up the bumpiest, longest, most unpleasant driveway I ever rode on.  When we reached his home and small animal farm, I was so jarred that I did not think I could get out of the truck to walk around.  I did.

We looked at the gilts.  We looked at the week-old piglets - so cute!  We talked.  We looked at the gilts.


We, I mean Becky, returned with two gilts.  The beginnings of Becky’s pig farming.


As for me, I just want to eat pork!