slightly sacred

a little journal about a big life change and the details of every little day

Milking with Maddie

This evening we were offered to come and visit Maddie while she milked her giant cows. I suppose they weren’t especially giant but after being around goats, these milkers seemed like elephants. Giant gentle elephants.

It’s impressive how Maddie milks her ladies and then makes cheese late into the evening. It might have been my busy day today but the routine she keeps makes me feel lazy in comparison. Between running to drop off product at stores and selling at farmer’s markets and then there’s the milking and making of cheese and yogurt, she’s quite busy. I’m not sure how she does it all. But Maddie says, she “has to work” and I think I understand.
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The mother duck has been sitting for and 28 days. Ducklings are said to hatch between 25-29 days so we’re expecting babies today and are checking regularly for the big event. I’m reminded of the afternoon we sat by the lake and watched as a Wood Duck swam by with all her new babies behind except the 3 that sat right on her back as she swam.

This morning the sitting duck was making a bit of a fuss from her nest, hissing while we tended to feed and water. When I checked back, one egg had been discarded. One soft egg, partially cracked open.

I assumed lost cause and was preparing to bury little eggshell filled duck up the road with the little black chicken that I loved so much but Dilys first pulled out the hair dryer, peeled back the rest of the shell and there was the perfect little creature. The little duckling that almost was. While she tried to revive, Dilys told stories of other animals that have come back to life after a little warming from a hairdryer or a sit in a warm oven. But not this little one.

Memories of blow drying newborn goats in a Maine blizzard came flooding back to me. Most of these creatures thriving thanks to a little human care. There were the goats born in the middle of the night that almost froze to death but were taken into the house and soaked in a warm bath inside plastic bags. Most of them made it. Resilient creatures.  Lidell_2_bearmtfarm_almost duck (1 of 1)

Why you’re here.

Time is flying by at Bear Mountain Farm and while summer is in full effect, we all know the next seasons are approaching and in New England, that is a very real part of life. While waiting for the frozen months, we get up early and make most of the days. Chores happen first thing and while a plan is always assumed, forgetting to shut in the donkey or coming across an out-of-place, hard to catch chicken will consume your morning routine.

Homemade bread is made into toast and butter is not a shy condiment around the farm. Fueled on sprouted grains and kefir we get tasks accomplished. We weed, we take care of the sick baby goat, we do the million dishes that dairy creates. We go to farmer’s markets, we make yogurt, we weed-wack electric fence lines.

But most days, in between the tasks and the future planning that can consume us these days, there is a gasp that happens. You look up at the sky and see a double rainbow that actually ends on the field in front of you. You also see the kittens finally come into the orchard to drink from the milk you leave for them each day. You see a bear on your drive up Bear Mountain. You make raw goat milk gelato by hand and eat the heck out of it topped with homegrown blueberries. These moments will put you in your place and remind you why you’re here. Or at least remind you to stop for that moment and just watch, just be.

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Barn magic.

If you just spend a moment in the barn, just watching, it’s amazing what you might see. Sometimes during chores I witness the most incredible animal interactions. Usually a camera is not at hand but the cat on the milking stand waiting for her dinner or the 2 new chicks that just hatched jumping around the barn are always entertaining. We’ve seen a tiny chick riding on her mom’s back, a cat scurry up the ladder with us while we bring the milk to her dish and a donkey peek over the gate, just showing one eye. How many incredible moments are missed when we’re not around.
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It’s been a long but good few weeks on the farm. Between prepping for farmer’s markets, moving pig pens, loading hay from the fields, milking goats by hand and weeding massive gardens by hoe, it’s been hard to pause. That said, there have been jumps in the lake and berries picked. And when all else fails, lunch is had with a miniature donkey named George. Lidell_2_bearmtfarm_blogdonkey3 (1 of 1)
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getting it right.

With all of the running around we often find ourselves in the midst of, sometimes the puppies and the neighboring farm’s daughter are the ones getting it right. I suppose laying down for a moment, even in the dog bed is the perfect cure for any aliment.
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Baking with Dilys

We’re busy around here. Even on the homestead level farm that we are staying with there are long lists of chores and projects this time of year. Chicken tractors get moved, animals get fed, milked and cleaned up after. Gardens are planted, tilled and weeded. And then a pig gets into to wrong pen or the electric fence stops working and hours are spent on fixes. Somehow behind all of the lists and execution is Dilys. This woman runs circles around everyone she encounters. Quite literally.

Every week Dilys makes yogurt, kefir, kefir “water” lemon soda, sprouted grain bread and biscotti for the Saturday farmer’s market. Now that there are a few more hands here, we’ve decided to ween the young goats so that we can milk a few  morning and night. More milk means more products and we’re brainstorming how exactly to sell raw goat milk yogurt on a small scale, a bit underground since to put product in stores means mass regulation.

Todays little list of this week’s projects and some Dilys in baking action pictures that show her calm within the storm.

  • Patch Tipi
  • Move chicken tractor
  • Move sow electric fence
  • mow under electric fence
  • make mushroom logs
  • put tipi up
  • organic inspection *tuesdsay
  • mend screen doors
  • turn compost
  • sort electric fence supplies
  • organize shop
  • organize wood shed
  • rototill and hill top garden
  • rototill back garden
  • continue gutter/rain barrel project
  • new rabbit hutch roof

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