November was a busy month as I was rearranging things in the house after the construction was done. There is still a lot to do... but I work on it in small bits and celebrate what has changed by taking pictures and sending them to my family! They have been my biggest cheerleaders and support since Brandon's death. I am truly blessed with an AWESOME FAMILY!
I didn't have anyone here for Thanksgiving....but that was a blessing as last year was a bit overwhelming and chaotic with major work being done in the house and having visitors. But it was all worth it! I won't have anyone staying for Christmas but I will have friends over for dinner and to help decorate the tree which is already up in the new library.
Happy Holidays From all of us at Webster Ridge Farm!
The last couple of days have been over 70 degrees and the flies have come out in droves.....both outside and in the house..............ick......... It doesn't help that the warmth in the house and the temps outside , plus manure outside promote the development of flies.......
I thought I had gotten things under control till this last stretch of warm weather. So my little red dirt devil is my best friend and suck up unwanted flies very efficiently! I know the flies have been bad as I have heard it from people who don't have farm animals anymore but have neighbors with animals. So my plight is not unusual and the cold weather is due this week......which will help to tamp down the little pests.
September went by so fast......It just amazing how fast it went.....good intentions were swept away by the hot weather and an overwhelming need to try to organize and finish spaces in the house.
I did do quite a bit of canning and that may have been one of the reasons that the month just passed me by. But the month of September is always hard.....A family friend died at the beginning of September 2022, my father in law died last year on 9/11 and 5 years ago Brandon (my husband) died on September 20 , 2018. The feelings sneak up on you at the strangest times.
Things are moving along with the property and soon I will be free from construction......what a concept!
What CAN I say? Yes I have been canning almost everyday since about the 1st of June. Even with all this rainy weather I was canning fruit and produce from my freezer and then shopping at local farm stands and pick your own establishments.
I will say ....I am tired and glad today is a day off from the Can Can Kitchen, but tomorrow I will have Tomatillos and Poblano peppers to roast for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde so my canning kitchen again will be busy.
Construction is still going on outside but will soon move back inside to replace the south and west facing windows. I have a large hay delivery due this week and I am hoping to send 50+ sheep to auction this month.
So on it goes.....life on the farm keeps moving and growing...I just try to keep up!
It is hard to judge how much propane your AGA will consume and how often the tank level needs to be checked. The first thing I discovered is all the AGA literature is aimed at people who are using oil. natural gas or coal. This means that with natural gas you don't have to worry about running out...cut off...unable to pay, but not running out. This means that running my stove at what is considered the optimum temp ,having only 1 person cooking and only using it as an auxiliary source of heat, it is hard to figure how often I need my 110 lb propane tank filled. My fuel provider(both oil and propane) have me watch the gauges on the tanks and when they get low I need to call them.
But this is problematic for me:
1. The AGA stove I have works by using radiant heat. The stove retains it's heat in the iron body filled with wool and the oven temp is determined by how close to the fire box it is. The plates on top are the same , the boiling plate directly over the fire box(heat source) at full temperature can be over 500 degrees. The plate or hob to the right is the simmering plate. The rule of thumb is 7 minutes maximum on any plate and then the pot or pan goes into the correct oven for it to finish cooking. Which means you need to be prepared with your ingredients to cook quickly and then into the oven. This may seem silly, but your kitchen doesn't smell, so you need to learn to use a timer once things go into the oven. Reheating leftovers or frozen casseroles is really easy and you don't have to wait for the stove to heat up, boil over...etc.
THE PROBLEM COMES WITH HOW MUCH FUEL DO I NEED?
2. If I do keep the stove up to optimum temp my Addition kitchen/living area is 74 degrees, while the rest of my old house is set between 62 -64 and I have forced hot air.
3. So I turned the AGA down(there are no numbers or marks just a dial that goes up or down to shut off the gas). This will affect my 4 ovens making them work at the lower temps.
The roasting oven should be 375-475 F, Baking oven 325-350 F, simmering oven 250-315 F.
But with the reduced gas flow :
my roasting oven is 325-365 F and the baking oven is 275-325. But my simmering oven is now great for letting dough rise , warming plates or keeping cooked items warm, drying herbs or melting butter.
My 4th oven is used as storage .
3. So my dilemma is I have to turn the stove up for when visitors come and still hope I don't run out of Propane(especially in the winter). It is hard because my usage is so erratic it is hard for my fuel provider to find the right balance.
Hopefully soon things will level out....even with all this ...I love the AGA and it was Brandon's dream to have one...so here we are!
This is Moss and her ram lamb Peat, who was born this morning . Mom and peat are having some evening mash and are relaxing in the lambing shed. There are now 22 lively and thriving lambs in the farm yard.
The house is getting it's makeover...new windows, shingles and trim and finally I have a new washing machine which will be hooked up on Friday!!!!!!
So much to do and such weird weather.....very hot....then cold and windy, back to hot and now a return to cooler dryer weather......but everything is greening up and the bugs (other than ticks)haven't arrived in full force!
We had more snow in March and I was sure I was done lambing. But the last weekend in March a ewe lamb was born from a mom who gave birth last April while I was at my mothers funeral in Virginia. Then 2 days later a yearling gave birth to another ewe lamb. I really thought I was done...but this morning in between the rain squalls a ewe who is just a year old gave birth to a ram lamb. I guess I can't really say if I am done with lambing. There are now 21 lambs! 2 tan, 2 black, 2 ewe lambs with horns and the rest of the lambs are white or have tan patches. We shall see what the rest of the month brings.
There are 16 lambs that are lively and running around like a school of fish and 2 new lambs that were born on February 9th. One of which was so big I needed to help deliver it....in the mud.
Yes , Mud....It has been warm enough for the ground to become a muddy mess. Luckily this fall the courtyard had been scrapped and stone put down to improve drainage. Where last year I would have been in 6 inches of mud , I am only in a little surface mud and slush.
I have only 1 full time bottle baby right now and she is a month old, her name is Lady . She gets a bottle only twice a day now, which is much easier on me.
The lamb I helped deliver Thursday(9 pm) is on the bottle as his mother still hasn't had her milk drop. But she is also a ewe whose teats face at an odd angle making it hard for lambs to drink. I will be working on that today, otherwise I will be feeding every 6 hours for the next week, leaving not much time for much of anything away from the farm.
I think I have 3 ewes left to give birth????? So we shall see. I am glad of the warmer weather as having already had a birth occur in -16 F and almost losing him to the cold is not fun. By the way the lamb born on that very cold morning is named Linus and his mother is Peanuts. Peanuts had a surprise lamb last April while I was in Virginia at my Mom's funeral and her name is Freida.
Yes I do look a bit overwhelmed.....but it has more to do with everything being moved around. I am a very visual person and I like being able to visualize where I saw something or am looking for something. It is one thing if I move an item, but when other's are involved in this process it makes it difficult for me to find things. I know I need to let this feeling go but it is frustrating. I made charts for all the cabinets and drawers in both kitchens so I know where things will go or where they are now. I need to do this in my backroom, sewing room and the new downstairs library/bedroom. I need to move all my books from the upstairs library as the floors are not happy with me. So on it goes and it is slow...but I am moving forward into 2023!
This is the before
being gutted picture
This is today:
I can't wait for the floor,walls
and cabinets to go in. Then the appliances and the counter tops!
Mary Will Sussman