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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: weather

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?

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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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It is almost one year since my major surgery. We have been able to get a lot done to reorganize the farmette since then. The work has helped me to build up muscles (including the ones supporting my fused neck) and to retrain all the crushed nerves. Things in that medical arena are far from perfect, but my ability to move is vastly improved in comparison to the two years prior.

We built a new pony run-in just in the nick of time before the cold Winter weather really struck:

Old Run-in

New Construction


New Run-in


Decor added September 2012

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To bring the livestock count up to date:

Dogs (Pets, Watch, Retrieving, Service, Herding)
1 Female AKC Golden Retriever, 2 Female ACHC Gollies
(Golden Retriever x Rough Coated Collie)
Ongoing but not currently: One Black DOG project
pulling a pound dog from local shelter to re-home.

Goats (Brush clearing, Lawn mowing,
Milk – hopefully this Spring, Kid sales)
1 ADGA Young Nubian Buck, 1 ADGA Nubian Nanny,
1 Pygmy Nanny, 1 Pygmy Doe, 1 Pygmy “It” (female-ish)

Ponies (Transport pull cart/ride, Pasture ornaments)
1 (14 Hands) Blind, Quarter Pony Stallion /
1 (10 Hands) Grumpy 21 yo Shetland Gelding

Poultry (Eggs!!!, Insect control, Chick sales)
1 Chinese, Female Goose /
1 Shy, Free Range, Ameraucana/Wyandotte, Standard Sized Roo /
1 Angry, B&W, Polish, Top Hat, Bantam Roo / 1 Blue, Sizzle, Bantam Roo /
2  (Red, Birchen) Cochin, Bantam Roos / 1 Mille Fleur, Cochin, Bantam Hen /
1 Pair B&W, Ugly, Project Bantams / 1 Silkie x Cochin, Bantam Hen.
17 Young, Bantam Chickens for grow out (new breeders needed,
heat wave drove raccoons out of woods for giant raid on our main coop).

Inside
1 Parakeet that throws seed as far as outer space.
No particular use. But, he is very cute.
1 (55 gallon) fish tank w about a dozen fish.
Calming living room centerpiece.

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New coops are being built or re-built. The truly scrappy ones made from reclaimed everything were burned along with their hornets/wasps nests. Making solid, super sheltered, predator-proofed pens for our poultry was long past due.

One of the new coops:
1) Frame, 2) Digital Plans, 3) Final in use


We barter/traded our one man auger for a working nuc box of bees
(we lost our queen last year in our top bar hive and inevitably
lost that colony).


– The back pasture needs fencing, but has been cleared of coops.
– We need to move the two fruit trees to the front and plant the third
(still in pot from purchase months back).
– The farmette needs to buy a few pure bred hens for laying and
Spring chick sales.
– More coops will be necessary. Bobwhite quail, diamond doves and/or call ducks may be in the mix soon.
– A tree-house style goat house or two (with easy cleaning bases) need to be built, so that we can leave the well shed for storage alone.
– The pony run-in will have additions as time goes on.

The projects never end. Thank goodness we enjoy them!

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Yesterday, on my husband’s day off, he got on a mission to take on the old barn. He started off removing boards for us to cut into sizes for the exterior of the new barnette. He just kept going. I joined in as his assistant (I have gotten more careful about my healing from surgery vs. how far to push my limits). That worked well since today I am not paying for doing too much.

I really should have gotten a pic of Jamie. He was decked out in a very sexy outfit of shorts and rubber boots (LOL). Although not much of a fashion statement, I often wear the same thing in the warmer weather when working outside.

The only thing that went wrong was that this raw enthusiasm happened as rain was coming in. I looked out the window this morning at Big Man (dressed in his raincoat luckily) to see torrential rain with nothing for him to seek shelter in. Luckily, the temperature is in the 60’s on this 7th day of December here in NC.

But, the temperature is going to drop as the day progresses all the way down to 30 degrees. The last pic shows our two car garage with only one thing parked in it until we get those boards up on the new shelter.

YESTERDAY

Just a frame left now

Going down

Bigs is confused. (Also, note the giant hole in Bigs's jacket that Rocky, the grumpy Shetland pony, tore open. Thanx Rocky!)

Getting materials out of the pasture

Back to the garage for sizing...

TODAY

Bigs being a good boy - in the garage.

Luckily, Rocky fits in the fenced back yard nicely with our goats.

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This blog has been neglected for a few months. I am now getting back in the saddle again. I thought I might have to give up on the Farmette as pain took hold of my life here. But, after many types of treatments, medications, therapies and a lot of different doctor’s offices, I found a Neurosurgeon that was willing to help repair my damaged neck.

Our Chiropractor, Dr Robert Floyd, had helped as much as possible and the most of anyone in my 2+ years of constant pain. But, in my case, alternative medicine could only do so much. The problem was not one that would ever heal.

My Neurosurgeon, Dr. Gudeman, is not known for his bedside manners, but for being very good at his job. I myself found him pleasant, interesting and happy to answer all of my very particular questions. He was the only doctor in this specialty (that I had met) that had respect for Chiropractic work and other alternative approaches to health care – not reacting to them as a threat. When I found that he also wore Birkenstocks in his free time, I knew I had the right guy. Someone with a sharp mind with an earthy twist was the one to trust to replace a badly worn disc (only 5% left) and fuse two vertebrae together (C5 & C6).

I am still recovering and sometimes have some bad days, but the brunt of the healing is done, just in time for pre-Winter preparations here. We are trying to quickly finish a new equine run-in barn before the really bad weather hits.

Framework for new run-in barn

We will be re-using the siding wood from the old run-in. The original was built in a hurry and has a structural design flaw that is making it slowly bend in half. The new framing is staged next to the garage. We have one more wall and another door skeleton to build. Then we will move the new structure out to the pasture and transfer the covering from the old structure. There will be new roofing material and paint comparable to our top bar bee hive which has a fairly clean (but not manicured) appearance.

Old run-in - in the distance

Since we have a 10 hand high Shetland pony and a 14 hand high large quarter pony/small horse (his proportions are that of a horse), we don’t need to think big on the first stage of this project. It is 8′ x 8′ x 8′ with about 1.5′ extra to the peak of the roof.

Our two equine - Bigs & Rocky

The back wall will be solid and the front wall will be covered to 4′ or 5′ high so that, from the front of our house, we can see the horses inside. Both sides will have a 2/3  door and a 1/3 wall. When snow and ice storms come in, we can close it up. We will also be adding 3 flip up doors on the front wall that will act as shade canopies when open and weather shields when closed.

Run-in Diagram/Sketch

This is the first of, hopefully, many modules that will make up the horse barn area. It will not be too hard to add on to this starter piece. We will eventually have a place for hay and tack/equipment storage, a covered grooming station with cross-tie posts and some individual stalls.

Our lovely & beautiful blind quarter pony - "The Big Man Dakota"

Even though our quarter stallion is blind, he is claustrophobic and knows when he is closed up. On his trip here, I thought he would kick his way out of the trailer. This is the main reason that we will have several different ways to enter and close up the new shelter in the event of nasty weather.

Big Man is very calm in comparison to his arrival here at the Farmette, but we still need to introduce him to some things slowly. We’ll leave the doors open until necessity forces us to keep the freezing precipitation out. Hopefully, by then, he will understand the boundaries of this barn and adjust to the closed space without panic setting in.

Both the Shetland pony (Rocky) and “Bigs” have nice winter coats. Rocky is made for the seasonal changes being that his fur is short & shiny in the Summer and long & thick in the Winter.

Rocky - Head Shot

Big Man has a good coat too, but as much as he likes to stay out pastured day and night, I still worry about him getting cold. North Carolina Winters have days that start off warm and wet before turning to cold and icy. This is the crucial time to keep equine in blankets or in their shelter. Other than this time of year, leaving a barn open and available is a good way to keep your horses happy.

Happy Trails

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We are in our 4th year here in NC and on this property. Every year, we get more snow. Being from the North East, I am happy about this, even though it presents some challenges for our slowly emerging Farmette.

"Rocky" the Grumpy Shetland Pony

Rocky loves his grain...

The Shetland pony is well adapted for snow. He gets a Winter coat like that of a woolly mammoth. But even though our little horse/large pony, Big Man, gets an adequate Winter coat, his personality becomes an issue when the weather gets really bad.

He is a blind yet claustrophobic guy. When we first brought him here, he nearly came out the escape door in the trailer, kicking and yelling most of the way here. It took over a year to get him used to being hooked up to that trailer and the fence posts.

Big Man likes to be out in the open. Maybe it is because he can see a little shadow of movement in the distance through his glazed eyes. He also seems to be able to feel your vibrations in the ground as you approach.

So, it will be nasty outside and instead of staying in the shelter of the run-in shed, he’ll stand out in the middle of the field. Convincing him that the run-in is dryer and warmer with grain bribes helps a bit, but I still worry about the wet in combination with cold weather considering his behavior.

"The Big Man Dakota" also loves grain.

Now, the Big Man Dakota sports a bright orange turn-out blanket. Being a bit concerned about keeping his Winter coat intact, I purchased a 420/70 denier breathable jacket.

In the slippery, cold eye of the storm, I slowly and carefully made my way out to the pasture to check on how it was working in the snow. It looked wet in some places, but when I ran my hand under it next to Big Man’s body, he was completely dry and warm. Water was trapped between the double layers, ready to evaporate – awesome!

Big Man wearing his new jacket

After the ice accumulation overnight, I checked again. The moisture between the layers was gone and our little horse was still cozy and content. He was even showing off a bit, dancing around in the snow. It is hard to tell, but I think that he knows that the jacket provides comfort and that he is making a jazzy, fashion statement.

It was a load of fun to get it on him for the first time – a bit like waving a red cape at a bull. He reacted to the sound of the nylon friction like that of impending doom and got quite spooked. All that I can say is – soft words, praise and treats. These work like miracles in the equine world. Even the grumpy pony that takes great pleasure in kicking and biting his blind buddy appreciates these.

Now that Big Man has developed some trust in us, I think that we may be able to close him in a stall barn/shed without panic setting in. I am working on a plan that could be built with doors or without. Hopefully, we will have the funds for the supplies in the Spring. A scaled down version of what we really want should help it materialize.

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