Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Cold weather’

Fun With Goats

And the forecast today is ra…… wait a second…. let me double check that!  This just into the newsroom ….. it appears an anomaly has made its way into the northwest Oregon region ….. all forecasting models predict a day of grey, no real sunshine, BUT… no real rain.  Let’s look at that again, Tom, YES…the current mapping is correct… NO RAIN IN THE FORECAST!!

November 2015

That was yesterday!!  I think the collective shown forth in a happy dance!!

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Although quite cold, Tony and I took the opportunity to get the goats out, and to stretch their legs a bit with a hike through the brush.

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I think they appreciated the change of flavor from basically hay, and their nighttime grain.

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The rain has returned, the goats are keeping dry in their house, and I am continually perplexed as to given the choice of nice green hay and yellow, pale straw….Why does straw always win out?????

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Thank you for visiting the herd today.  I hope you have a wonderful, safe Sunday!!

Your friend from Oregon,

Tami

Timber Farming

I’ve come to the conclusion that we are officially a farm! I haven’t really embraced that until this past week…it’s a good, good feeling!! Tony and I are working to become as independent as possible by growing our own food, raising our own protein (notice I didn’t say that nasty word…meat ) creating our own energy sources, maintaining our own septic system, and we are not hooked up to a public water source – we’re on our own well. Going off grid?? I don’t think we are totally there yet, and not really part of our goal…we like our Direct TV connection (but are looking at some very viable options to that,) we like to flip a switch and have a constant stream of electricity (but there could be news on that horizon soon,) we have to have internet connection – DUH!!

A big part of our farm is timber management. There is a period of about 4.5 months that we can trim, and cut down trees – 2.5 months in the spring…2 months in the fall. These time frames occur between the more constant precipitation months (rain, snow) and the fire restriction months (unknown to many, Oregon does have a dry season.) Tony and I don’t care to use chainsaws in wet weather…just a personal preference. So this past week, we have been working on our firewood supply for the 2015-2016 fall – winter season.

Tony, sizing up a tree to fall.

Tony, sizing up a tree to fall.

We have a rotating wood stack system to make sure the logs we burn are dry and burn well, and clean. There is a lot less smoke created when the logs are dry…and they burn hotter which is the goal! A hotter fire means less energy cost from not running our heater…then of course there are blankets gracing the backs of the couch, and recliners! I know, I know…GET BACK ON TOPIC!!!

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

One side of the wood paddock has been burned through the winter.

The paddock on the left is the space we need to fill.

My man, Tony, taming the forest!

My man, Tony, taming the forest!

This Douglas Fir tree was too close to the other, and it had an unsafe curve….we are thankful for the heat it will generate in our wood stove during the cold winter months. The other tree will have a chance to fill out, it’s already very tall.

Whoops!!!

Whoops!!!

The looonnnnggg view of a very tall tree.

Douglas Fir Tree

Douglas Fir Tree

How old do you think this tree was…

Can you count the rings??

Can you count the rings??

This stump is of a Douglas Fir cut down by the previous owners about 10 years ago and sold in the timber market…

This must have been a huge, beautiful tree!

This must have been a huge, beautiful tree!

Next in our process was gathering the wood, and chipping the parts not suitable for the wood stove. Tony cut logs into splittable size….

Sizing logs for splitting1

Sizing logs for splitting1

I ran the chipper (we try not to make burn piles as much as possible)….

We're not going to burn thin branches full of fir needles.

We’re not going to burn thin branches full of fir needles.


Look at those beautiful chippings!!

Look at those beautiful chippings!!

We had an extra helper….

Even Penni got into the process!!

Even Penni got into the process!!

I wish you could experience how good the air smells around the mulch pile…it’s like the most fragrant Christmas Tree ever!! Take a deep breath in….ahhhhhhh!! We’ll be spreading this mulch around the garden for pathways without mud.

Beautiful mulch pile!

Beautiful mulch pile!

The wood pile ready to be split…

Resting peacefully, waiting to be split and stacked.

Resting peacefully, waiting to be split and stacked.

This stacked pile is the result of two trees. It should last the better part of a month if our late fall / winter temps are the normal 20’s to 40’s.

We need to build this stack as high as the highest log, and forward to the front of the pallets!

We need to build this stack as high as the highest log, and forward to the front of the pallets!

The house temps will range from 70 degrees (the hub of the home) to around 52 degrees (the outlying bedrooms) running just the wood stove. This saves us about $200.00 a month or more…well worth the effort! We’ll repeat the tree-log-chipping-splitting-stacking process for about 6 – 8 more trees this season. It’s healthy for our timber to thin the forest…and it’s healthy for our heating bill to create our own energy in the winter. The relationship with nature in our everyday lives is exciting, and very, very refreshing!!

Irish Soda Bread

I’m trying to “broaden my horizons,” “tantalize the taste buds,” “teach this (not so old) dog a new trick,” by trying new recipes. I’ve been “stuck in a rut” too long. Little by little over the past 2 years, I have tried this and that…some successful, and some not. Last night I tried my hand at making Irish Soda Bread, and a very hearty vegetable soup…doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron? A hearty vegetable soup? My husband was skeptical, but willing which is not common when it comes to vegetables, especially when I started adding more veggies than what was in the original bagged of dried, milled veggies. The difference here is that HE picked the milled vegetable soup mix…what’s a milled vegetable soup mix?…well…keep reading!!

In March we took a trek up to Milwaukie…that’s Milwaukie, Oregon…to this little place…

This is the home of Bob's Red Mill

This is the home of Bob’s Red Mill

….if you are at all interested in cooking things you have never even dreamed of, this is the place to go!! There are so many milled flours, milled dried beans and vegetables, milled nuts, milled…..everything! All the products are milled, right in Milwaukie, and the cafe / store is just a few blocks away (5000 SE International Way – Milwaukie, OR, 97222.) Your imagination can go CRAZY at Bob’s!! BTW, when I say milled….I’m talking the old way…with a milling stone, using rustic, whole grains!! You can also find their products in some grocery stores. Hey, seriously, I don’t get anything from plugging their great products…I’m just finding a world of wonderfulness…and I’M EXCITED!!

So what we came away with was a couple of flours, dried beans, nuts, and a vegetable soup mix (only includes the milled veggies, and grains – all spices, etc. are yours to add.)

This soup was incredibly hearty, and wonderful on our cold, rainy night.

This soup was incredibly hearty, and wonderful on our cold, rainy night.

Tony thought that this kind of vegetable soup looked good, because there was no sign of any fresh cut vegetables…little did he know that I had other plans..heh heh heh. As it cooks, the soup has the consistency of like a good hearty split pea soup. With Tony cringing, I added the fresh carrots, celery, onions, garlic, spinach and green beans, but I promised I would put it all in the blender and serve it in the fashion he was used to in the Spanish / French Basque kitchen of his childhood. My added ingredients also included chicken broth, salt, Creole spices, and thyme. It was really yummy, and the milled whole grains withing the dried contents was a surprisingly happy, chewy surprise!!

The Irish Soda Bread recipe also came in a freshly milled package of whole grain flours, and all necessary dried ingredients. I added water, oil, and egg.

It was so fun to take these grains and make them bread.

It was so fun to take these grains and make them bread.

I mixed this up using my hands....fun!

I mixed this up using my hands….fun!


Such a pretty little round!

Such a pretty little round!


Into the pie dish...

Into the pie dish…


Traditionally, you cut a cross into the bread dough before baking.

Traditionally, you cut a cross into the bread dough before baking.

Traditionally, cutting the cross into the bread dough was a way of blessing the bread, and then after it cooked….

All warm and crusty!!

All warm and crusty!!


Uhhm...Yummmm!

Uhhm…Yummmm!

…it gave a means for the symbolic breaking of the bread at the dinner table.

Such a hearty soup, and a very dense bread...this meal will keep you warm all night, and the only meat product is in the chicken broth.

Such a hearty soup, and a very dense bread…this meal will keep you warm all night, and the only meat product is in the chicken broth.

What I can say is that this combo was really, really hearty, warm, and satisfying on our cold, rainy, spring night…even the hubby thought so!! The best thing of all…Tony ate all of his vegetables!!

Love, love, love this place!!

Love, love, love this place!!

Gloria’s Pond

Just a quick post….BREAKING NEWS!!

Previously, I wrote about our resident wild duck, Gloria, on our pond, on Gloria’s Pond.

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

GLORIA!!! Our little wild duck that migrates back to the pond every spring!!

She comes home to the pond every year ushering in the start of spring. Gloria has lived half the year at the pond since we have been part of this property…8 years now (I know, we just officially moved here 2.5 years ago…long story….we had been visiting the property for 6 years prior.) This beautiful duck has hatched a few clutches of eggs over the years, sadly, none have grown to maturity. There are predators on this land, including this big guy…and he routinely visits the pond.

Beautiful yet dangerous to frogs and baby ducklings.

Beautiful yet dangerous to frogs and baby ducklings.

I have often wondered where Gloria goes in the winter-time. Our family likes to think that maybe she flies south to the Bay Area, landing in a park that we frequented on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay…along with dozens if not hundreds of Canadian Geese. I wonder why Gloria is such a solitary duck, most years spending the spring and summer by herself. I wonder what kind of duck Gloria is, actually, although I think she is a type of Mallard. I wonder if Gloria is a Gloria….or a Gordon?…she is actually kind of dark and green for a Gloria. (She will always be Gloria…no matter.) I wonder why Gloria came back to the pond when there seemed to be so much cold and rain still ahead of us (if she migrates to – from CA she may have been misguided by their drought this year.) I wonder why Gloria died yesterday? 😦

Walking up from the mailbox, I found our little wild friend lying motionless in the seasonal stream that is fed by the runoff of the pond.

A very sad sight!

A very sad sight!

I didn’t know what happened…I still don’t know what happened. I put on some gloves and checked her over; there were no wounds that I could see. Her eyes were still clear, so if Bear Grylls is right, she had only died an hour or two before I found her. I did, however, find out something really incredible….Gloria was insanely beautiful!!

She was marked so beautifully.

She was marked so beautifully.


The emerald green of our Gloria.

The emerald green of our Gloria.

Maybe the days of continuous rain was too much? Maybe the lack of natural cover due to the delayed blooming of spring caused too much exposure on an old duck? Maybe both of those things, combined with morning temps dropping into the low 30’s weakened our old girl to a point she couldn’t recover? I don’t know…but I miss our little wild friend.

Gloria's final resting place under her favorite tree, next to her pond.

Gloria’s final resting place under her favorite tree, next to her pond.

I’m NOT liking this…I’m not liking this at all!!

It’s Springing Like Crazy!!

Contrary to popular belief…I haven’t yet lost my marbles….well maybe not all of them. :o) I know it’s still winter, and much of the country is still experiencing the freeze from the polar vortex…

Amazing images from NASA!!

Amazing images from NASA!!

….but I’ve learned that once these guys come out from the mud….

…Spring is springing, spranging, sprunging…it’s knocking, loudly, at the door!!! I recorded this frog song last year in April, so right now they are not singing as loudly, or voraciously, but the brave have emerged and are singing in the early dusk evenings. It’s very exciting, and hopefully, encouraging to my friends out in the Mid-West and on the East Coast…especially to the amazing dogs (Great Danes) and people of the Service Dog Project in MA ( servicedogproject.org ) whom, btw, you can watch live on Explore.org!

OKAY...ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!

OKAY…ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!


Photo by Mark Arimault

With this being our third “emergent of spring-time” season, we think we have discovered a pattern with the onset of the frog songs. They are like our groundhog…our indicator to start planting seeds in the greenhouse (okay, we don’t have a greenhouse yet…but when we do…) and then into the ground in six weeks. We started hearing the frogs about a week ago, so we are going to mark the date of Feb. 23rd, count forward 6 weeks to April 6th, and ready ourselves for planting into the ground during that week. Since the growing season in western Oregon is at least a month shorter than in the San Francisco Bay Area, timing is crucial. My garden of 2012 suffered a lot of damage because I planted just a week or two, too soon. Frost killed much of my garden, and I had to replant which, of course, meant double the costs. My garden wasn’t huge so it wasn’t a big loss. I wrote off the cost of that garden to a very well spent Pacific NW Gardening education…of which, I’m still trying to earn my degree!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

In the meantime, I’m enjoying our mildly cold, rainy days, watching and listening to the amazingly poetic sounds of numerous types of birds in the tree canopies, and watching the green of the pastureland become more vibrant as everyday passes. This is beautiful country, God’s country, and I am so thankful to be living within it!! When I take the time to sit, look, watch, smell, and listen, I can feel Him, hear Him, see Him…my God, my Savior is here He created all of this, and it is good…it is very good!! Just listen to Benedict…he’ll tell ya!!

Water, Water, Everywhere Water

The past 3 – 4 weeks have been testament to one of the draws the Pacific Northwest has had on me for many years. I like rain, I like wind, I like temperatures that drop , and drop, and drop. I like snow that lasts a few days and then magically disappears. I like that there are distinct seasons, and most of the year, (with the exception of July – Sept.) you can either expect it to rain, or accept that it may rain. Did I say I liked the rain?? BTW, I won’t say anything about the summers and the incredibly blue Oregon sky….that’s a secret…shhhhhhh!!

A tree stump overtaken by the water running into the pond.

A tree stump overtaken by the water running into the pond.

January was an inordinately dry month for most of Oregon…then February hit and the flood gates opened up…well snow first, then rain. Thankfully, actual flooding has been at a minimum, but the rivers, creeks, drainage areas, etc. are rushing to get to the Willamette River, to eventually get to the Columbia River, all in an effort to get to the ocean. We have a year round creek, pond, and seasonal creek from the pond run-off…they are currently really, REALLY running hard. I put together a little video of the rushing waters on our property…I was explaining things for Tony as he was out of town yesterday, so please forgive the narrative.

Unfortunately, my friends and family back in the SF Bay Area, and California in general, are suffering through a huge drought. Having lived most of my life in the Bay Area, living with drought conditions is part of the package. This year, however, is really severe. I’m praying for you all, and hoping that your spring time will be full of rain days. Also, the fire season is going to be really scary, big PRAYERS that His hand will protect you all.

Chickens and Ice

There have been two constants since the snow started on Thursday…snow has been accumulating, and the chickens have hated every minute of it! I have wondered about the “intelligence” of my birds, because often times in cold rain, hail, and really cold wind they have been outside running around going from tree to tree, and complaining the whole time. They don’t seem to have any sense sometimes, and even in those conditions will wait until almost dark to run inside their house for the night. Even in this storm, on Thursday when it started spittin’ snow, I had to chase them inside and close the door behind them. Friday, however, it seemed something finally “clicked” with the flock and they have kept themselves inside and within their outdoor cabana since.

One great thing about cold weather....cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!

One great thing about cold weather….cracked corn treats in the food dish, and a heated water bowl!!


Whooooaaa, I'm not going out ther!!!

Whooooaaa, I’m not going out ther!!!


Hey what's that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

Hey what’s that?? A little spinach hung from the ceiling helps break the cabin fever!

The younger flock are still in their larger brooder so they didn’t have the decision making dilemma that the older birds had. Since they were on shavings over concrete, in preparation of the storm we slipped a rubber stall mat on top of the floor and covered that with the shavings. With two heat lamps, they have been staying toasty warm, when they want to warm up…they do huddle together under the lamps during the coldest parts of the day, but they seem to be doing great. I do feel like they are just about ready to join the older flock, but the weather is not ready for them. These active little ladies (hoping for no roosters…) seem to be a little bored lately, so I gave them something to do…just like the big kids.

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!

A little fun, a little spinach, and chicken littles!!



The aftermath!!

The aftermath!!

Beyond the chickens…I have some outrageously beautiful pictures of the snow, which turned to freezing rain and left a 1/4 inch layer of ice blanketing the snow on the frozen land of which I and my family are so blessed to share with the Oregon wildlife.

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?

Can you see the layer of ice covering the layer of snow?


Frozen Blackberry bushes.

Frozen Blackberry bushes.


Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen.  :o(

Two ducks tried to land on the pond, but it was frozen. :o(


Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Limbs full of snow and ice on a Douglas Fir tree, beautiful, dangerous, and amazing!!

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

Douglas Fir trees being weighed down by the ice.

How Did They Do It???

Just about 2 feet of snow!

Just about 2 feet of snow!


Our neighbors horses...so gorgeous!!!

Our neighbors horses…so gorgeous!!!

How did they do it?? As I try to navigate my world in the midst of a three day snow storm I am amazed at how unprepared I feel. Albeit, I lack in the true snow boot arena, I have mud jumpers that do the trick in keeping my feet dry (for the most part)…since my snow pants (I think I have snow pants) are still packed away somewhere within our shop, double layers of pants seem to keep me warm enough for about a half an hour, although soaked through…then there’s the waterproof jacket and gloves….I’ve got some stuff, but definitely not enough. Trudging through two feet of pant soaking, ice accumulating, leg freezing snow, the warmth of a nice warm fire was all I could think about….well, that and sledding down on of our hills obviously adding to my already frozen appendages. But I have to think….”How in the world did the pioneers….those who crossed the great divide, climbed the Cascade Mountain Range to land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon…how did they make it without the warmth and waterproofing necessary to sustain life this day and age. Would we be able to survive as our ancestors did? How did they survive?” I guess many did not (remember the Donner Party), but somehow, most did!

How did they do it??!!

How did they do it??!!

My San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, sun 90% of the year upbringing and adulthood is a far cry from the winters of the Pacific Northwest. There is much I have to learn about preparing for weather that can turn on a dime…what’s that saying up here?…”If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes…” On Thursday morning, this was so true!! Within 15 minutes of my walking out the door for work, we went from a few clouds, cold, brisk, refreshingly clean air, to major clouds, “It’s starting to snow”…”We’re in a blizzard (well almost)”…”It’s snowing for 3 days”… “We’ve got 2 feet of snow”…to the beginnings of freezing rain…and if it warms 15 more degrees (which is actually predicted) we may have flooding due to a fast melt of all the snow!!! Holy guacamole!!!!! I am not in Kansas…or in my case, California, anymore!! But I am so happy to be here!!

How are the adult and young flocks doing in all this cold……update coming soon!! In the meantime, here’s a friendly, Claudio, hello!!

Claudio wondering, "What the heck is all that cold, white, icy stuff!"

Claudio wondering, “What the heck is all that cold, white, icy stuff!”

Douglas Fruit Trees???

I stepped outside Sunday morning…there was a distinctive winter chill to the air, but it sounded like spring! As I looked over to the pond, the “foreigners” who have been absent for three months were paddling around in the water. Up the road, guinea hens were loudly boisterous, and the songs of the robin were like beautiful waves of melody. My neighbor’s horses were once again in their front pasture..it seems that spring may be attempting to bloom.

To speak of the seasons, you speak of events choreographed in nature. Spring is a time of renewing as trees bud and push out new growth; it is the season of gardens, gardens, and more gardens. Ironically, this season of young, delicate, sprouts is really too late for planting trees. Generally, a tree planted in the springtime will struggle. The good thing is that it will probably catch up the following year. As the ground warms, summer is a time of fullness as the canopy overhead shades with a lush, green umbrella. Planting trees in the fullness of this season can shock them badly, causing a loss of leaves, fruit, and stunted growth that could last 2-3 years. Fall then is a time of harvest, fruit is ripening and tired trees are getting ready to go dormant for awhile. Yet just beyond the harvest season, late fall, in the colder parts of the country, is the best time to plant trees.

Out here in the west…specifically the west coast, contrary to popular belief, winter is a time for planting. Seems odd, why plant while the ground is cold, and growth is almost nonexistent? Something magical happens under the ground while trees lay dormant above it. Roots, young and old roots stretch their “legs” and grow during the cold of winter. While a tree stands motionless, sometimes to the point of, “Is it alive or dead?”, the underground world is active and working hard to gain strength, gather nutrients, and find new ground from which to sustain itself.

On that note, this week has been a time of planting on the hill. In late November, numerous trees arrived. We planted the Giant Sequoias (post – Replanting the Forest), and have been protecting the yet-to-be-planted fruit trees. Over the past two months we (more specifically Tony…with a little help from our son, Will, and I) have added 347 trees to forest and pasture areas. Within that count are 300 Douglas Fir one gallon seedlings, and 37 varying 15 gallon fruit, and chestnut trees all wrapped in wire cages to keep the deer away. Timber and fruit…Douglas Fruit trees..haha…I can’t wait to see them grow!! A nice gift from nature…deer are not attracted to Douglas Fir seedlings…Whew!!…glad we didn’t need 300 tiny wire cages around those little beauties!!

A hillside of Douglas Fir seedlings.

A hillside of Douglas Fir seedlings.


Rocky, muddy soil...use a post hole digger to plant 300 fir trees!!

Rocky, muddy soil…use a post hole digger to plant 300 fir trees!!


After the holes are dug, someone has to plant the trees!

After the holes are dug, someone has to plant the trees!


An orchard full of 4 types of apple trees, and 2 types of pear.

An orchard full of 4 types of apple trees, and 2 types of pear.


Cherry trees line the driveway.

Cherry trees line the driveway.

Contrary to what Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog said….the neighbor’s Peacock flock are converging on our hill once more, another indication that spring is on the horizon.

Really, this year, who knows? It’s predicted that we’re to dip down to the single digits again this week. We’re on the coast side of the Cascades so temps like that are not a winter common.

OMGosh…It’s Cold out There!

Well…I’ve had to cut my posts from one loooonnnnnnggggg post to two shorter. Keep an eye out for my next post….!

I think that almost the entire country has been in consistently dropping temperatures.

At 7:00 this morning, our outside temp was 3 degrees…3 DEGREES!! The welfare of my chickens has been a huge concern. I’m just short of inviting the flock into the house…..well….maybe not that far, but the garage stays in the back of my mind. Though their house is really wonderful, it is not insulated, and the roofing is metal sheeting. Without help, their inside water would surely freeze…actually it did. This freaked me out!! I felt like such a hugely awful chicken mama, but it threw me into action. I started with rigging up one 250 watt heat lamp, and a heated water bowl…since there is no power to the house, I hooked up power with long, yellow, construction power cords. A week and a half ago, this worked fine…this past week it fell way short. Implementing a cord splitter, heat lamp #2 was employed. The temp dropped again…we moved the heated, outside water dish inside. This seemed to work well for the teen temperatures…but last night we were going to be dropping into the single digits. So, in the dark, in temps of about 13 degrees…Tony and I were out at the chicken house lowering the heat lamps to more directly provide heat to the chicken roosting / nesting areas instead of the general house. With this, and a generous supply of cracked corn, everybody survived the night. Give me a break now….I’m used to animals living INSIDE the house…these girls and guy are my first out-of-the-house experience, and with these kind of temperatures….let’s just say it was a glorious 6:30 a.m. moment when I heard Benedict crowing!!

It's cold out there!

It’s cold out there!


Heat lamps add warmth.

Heat lamps add warmth.


Heated water bowl was a necessary addition.

Heated water bowl was a necessary addition.


Coaxing them in with cracked corn so I can shut the chicken door.

Coaxing them in with cracked corn so I can shut the chicken door.


Claudio the hogging the heat.

Claudio the hogging the heat.


At least they look warm and toasty.

At least they look warm and toasty.

The cabana has been a really great addition, and the flock has spent a lot of time out there. Tony picked up a couple of straw bundles, and spread some of it on the floor of the cabana. That was a hugely great idea as the chickens are not liking foraging around the snow very much. They actively kick around the straw and look for the chicken scratch we’ve thrown out in it, and little bugs that may be hiding.

A big pile of straw to play in.

A big pile of straw to play in.

The more extreme cold is supposed to last a few more days, I think we’ve got it covered….maybe…wait until the next post, big news on the farm!!

Rooster tracks in the snow.

Rooster tracks in the snow.

Tag Cloud

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