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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: holiday

Guineas coop in progress = sign opportunity

Guinea fowl coop in progress = signage opportunity

This is our yearly reminder to let go – and to move on. To our hopes and fears. To our dreams and disappointments. To our failures and triumphs. To our sadness and joy.

We welcome the New Year with all its possibilities.

I actually made it up to midnight. Watching the Times Square ball drop celebration would have been lovely. But we gave up regular TV a few years ago and could not locate a live feed through our Roku box.

We decided to watch a movie instead. The Polar Express is a heartwarming film. It allowed us to stretch out the season’s spirit and stay awake at the same time. I savored those last drops of holiday magic.

We then toasted 2013 with sparkling wine (and sparkling juice for our young son). It was finally time to sleep, but remembering a last minute chore, I wandered outside. And there was this beautiful moon.

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moon2w

moon9w

moon10w

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It not only captured my attention, but my imagination. I thought of the Steven Hawking series that I started watching the other day. He described the planets revolving around each sun/star. There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy. And there are 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

Thinking about the vastness of it can make one feel small and insignificant. That makes what you choose to do with your life all the more important. We may be tiny specs of dust, but we all have the power to create our own little worlds.

We also possess the power to remind ourselves, all year long, that all around us – there is magic.

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I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But,

Beatrice

“Beatrice”

Abbey

“Abbey”

Luna

“Luna”

Tony

“Tony”

Mozart

“Mozart”

Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl

Bantam Chickens

Bantam Chickens

Annie & Muriel

“Annie” & “Muriel”

Rocky

“Rocky”

Bigs

“Bigs”

“Now, Abbey! now, Annie! now, Tony and Rocky!
On, Beatrice! on, Bigs! on, Muriel and Luna!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.


The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.”

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And me in my ‘kerchief, and dadda in his cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

Crazy Bird

“Crazy Bird”

Button Quail

Button Quail

Tropical Fish

Tropical Fish

Deirdre

“Deirdre”

Cecilia

“Cecilia”

Penny

“Penny”

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

xmasMoonWbw

excerpts courtesy of

Twas the Night before Christmas Poem

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In the United States of America, Christmas has become a holiday that includes a variety of customs. They stem from the melting pot of people that live here. Although based in Christianity, these traditions are the culmination of many different cultures. The ones we take part in are based on the hopes and dreams of all mankind.

It is a time to remember that we have much more in common with each other than we have differences. It is a time that helps us to become closer to our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. It is a time to make bright the eyes of children, show extra kindness to those less fortunate and to share with everyone the warmth of the season.

In our home and on our land, Christmas is also an earthly reminder to gratefully finish up the current year in preparation for the new. On the farm, we end it with hopes of a warm Spring bearing little chicks, baby goats and a fresh garden.

My favorite expression of this splendid holiday is the lights – lots of lights, pretty lights. It has over-spilled into the rest of the year, as we always keep strings of them on our front porch. They were recently added (in a year round display) to our pony run-in.

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The night is always alive on our farmette and usually with much more than holiday spirit. “Bigs” happily eats his hay just beyond the shelter. A giant night bird, most likely a Barred Owl, flew overhead while I was taking this photo (we have had this species frequent the farmette before). Maybe it was gliding on the aspirations of the wild creatures that make their home here – wishing survival through the cold Winter darkness.

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The little barn sparkles, faintly illuminating the pasture (left), as the brighter house lights echo in the background (right). It is not an especially chilly evening, so I linger a bit to watch the light fade from the sky.

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As I walk up to the door, I pass the chicken coops on the front lawn. The inhabitants are quiet. Are they comfortable? Are they warm? Are they dry? Are they snug in their nests with dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads?

NestBirds2w

Are they dreaming of new chicks in the Spring to come? I hope so.

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Pumpkin pie is not only popular for Fall’s Thanksgiving, but for the Winter holidays too. In my opinion, the time of year when the light leaves the sky early is always the time for rich, warm pies. So hopefully, this recipe has come in time for you to use it while the festivities and/or weather still invite it.

This Thanksgiving came upon us a bit early, but I managed to get a little, Sugar pumpkin cooked last week in preparation. This was somewhat amazing since my normal style is “habitually late”.

All pumpkins are edible (to the best of my knowledge), but pumpkins sold for cooking have been developed to produce a surprising amount of pulp for their size. They are much sweeter and more flavorful too.

Having unsuccessfully cut it open due to an extremely tough shell, I just placed the raw pumpkin in the oven whole. It was left in at 400 degrees for about an hour. At this point you can just slice the top open like a Jack-o’-lantern and scoop the guts right out.

The seeds in this cooking pumpkin congregated in one spot, making it easy to separate them from the orange flesh. Remember to put aside the seeds. They can be lightly salted, then roasted to make a healthy, crunchy snack.

Pumpkin can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if not being used immediately. The shell can be dried out for use as decoration.

The pumpkin meat can go straight from your storage container into a food processor/blender or you can mash it with a whisk by hand. I decided to speed things up a bit by processing pumpkin innards and creating pie filling at the same time. You simply throw all of the ingredients in together and mix.

Not being one to follow strict rules, I use measurements as a guide and adjust to my own whims. The following is a list to base your own recipe on;
Fresh pumpkin 20 oz.
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 small/bantam eggs + 1 s/b egg white
4 oz. heavy cream & 8 oz. milk or 12 oz evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Spices (about 2 teaspoons all together) – mostly cinnamon plus some nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger and/or all spice.

Pop it in your favorite shell type. I often make cereal or basic flaky pie crust (graham cracker works nicely too). You can decorate with pecans, raisins, and dried cranberries if you feel inspired. Bake in your oven at 350 degrees for about an hour.

There you have it. A  lovely homemade pumpkin pie for your family/friends. Please enjoy the season. May it be comfortable, peaceful and YUMMY for you and yours!

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For a few weeks now, as dusk falls, it has been cooler. We live at the Southern, nearly-middle, point of North Carolina. Our lowered night temperature is in the 40’s – not freezing yet. It is mid-October and the leaves are starting in on their colored dance from tree foliage to ground cover.

Our two ponies now rely on hay instead of the sweet Summer grass they prefer.

A big round field bale actually fits in the back of our little truck.

Big Man hangs out in the run-in a bit more (but still not a lot) since the weather changed.

Some of the flowers, like Black-eyed Susan (Perennial Daisies) are dying off. Goldenrod is just now coming into bloom.

Summer Black-eyed Susan

Fall Goldenrod

We raise bantam (mini) chickens, but we do have one BIG rooster. I had taken him in as a youngster thinking he was a hen and not wanting to turn down an egg-layer. Since he roosts 6 feet off the ground and is mild-mannered, he has become our lone free-ranger. His job is to clean up the spillage grain from all of our poultry pens. He is enjoying the crisper Fall air while I wander around taking pictures.

Our “Big” Roo

The pic below shows some of our up and coming Spring breeding bantam chickens. They are nicely feathered out and can handle the impending coldness. This long coop was re-structured (after the initial re-build from nesting box to pen) to keep them extra dry, since WET + cold = DEAD.

Our miniature roses love the lower temperatures and are gladly gracing us with their blossoms.

Indian corn is an item that I grew up with. It doesn’t really seem like Autumn until it is hanging on our front door. We usually try to throw a Halloween skeleton or two into the mix of decor too.

Lastly is the main Fall display. Our son and I met another home-school group at Maple Springs Farm to welcome the season and pick out some pumpkins.

I am hoping that a few of these big vegetables will still be edible when November begins – contributing to the Harvest season’s celebration.

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In the Charlotte Region of North Carolina, we have had the first White Christmas in 63 years. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, did not give the luster of mid-day to the open country at that time. Even if the snow had stopped and the clouds cleared, at most, there was merely a sliver of the moon visible on December 25, 1947.

The snow started here in the evening on December 25, 2010. We were full from a lovely holiday meal, as we gazed out at the gently falling flakes. It was peaceful and beautiful. Since it started at the end of the day, we had little left to do but enjoy the calm that belongs to natural winter blankets. The livestock were nestled all snug in their straw, while visions of sweet feed danced in their heads – and their jaws.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;*

Our pack of canines had not dared venture out the dog door into the cold, wet world of wintry splendor. They truly enjoy easy access to the warmth of the mud/laundry room. Luckily, the weather keeps any mischievous souls away from the country roads, and so, no need for the watch dogs outside.

When I had gone out to check on our flock for the night, our homing pigeon was out collecting snow on her wings. I had put up a shelter for her the day before, after the coops had been re-arranged. Apparently, she did not approve. I grabbed, luckily caught her and placed her in the main coop for the night. We’ll have to keep putting her food at the door of her new house to help entice her in.

Our small goat herd came out briefly to wolf down their grain. Then they scurried back into the well shed. They like to be out in the freezing weather, but do not normally stay out in precipitation.

We lost a nanny to the cold/wet about this time last year. She and her billy had access to two small shelters on pallets (the male goat had just broken the third; the one on stilts). The pen had gotten too muddy.  The day had started out wet and warm. It had ended icy and cold.

The high strung billy that had a knack for breaking everything, was replaced with a tiny, mild-mannered billy. Ever since then, our goats have stayed in the fenced area with the shed where we can keep a close eye on them, instead of in the small pen on the far side of the house.

I find it amazing how the equine will stand out in the cold and rain to munch on a round bale of hay or just stand in the field. “Rocky”, the Shetland pony, presently looks like a woolly mammoth, so I do not worry about him. The “Big Man” Dakota has a good winter coat for a small cob size horse, but not the stout body. He has a water-proof blanket on the way from ChickSaddlery.com.

In the dark, they were lured into the run-in using a grain incentive. Grain is like a drug to them. If you ever have trouble catching a horse, just shake a bucket full of pelleted feed and they will come.

View from the road*

We enjoy the changes of the seasons here on the Farmette and the snowy wonderland. The New Year is nearly here, but winter is just getting going. The temperature will remain low for the next few months.

The magic of the winter holiday season bestows upon us many gifts. It also a reminds us to contribute to peace on earth and goodwill to men (and beast). Our life here would not be whole without having both storms and clear skies. But, Spring will be very welcome when it arrives.

* Pics were taken the next evening, December 26, 2010.

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