“Mom, are you crying?”

Bertha seemed to be in the beginning stages of labor early this afternoon. She progressed slowly and by dinnertime she had started pushing. I ate dinner quickly and went to check on her because nothing was happening during her pushes.

I got out to the barn with the supplies I needed to check the lamb’s position. I soon realized Bertha’s lamb was full breech, meaning its tail was coming out first and all 4 legs were pointed the other way. I tried to find the legs, but it was already at the cervix so there wasn’t much room for my hand. I called our vet to come out and assist because I didn’t think I would be able to turn the lamb. Dave came out and put up a gate to keep the other ewes out of the way and Hannah came out to watch.

Bertha kept pushing so I tried again to maneuver the lamb, but every time attempted she would lay down – making it harder for me to work. I eventually was able to push the lamb back from the cervix enough to feel the lamb’s hind legs. I needed Bertha to stay standing so I could straighten the back legs and get them out.

Hannah was watching from the other side of the gate and was a bit grossed out by birth process. She knew I was having trouble, though, and asked if she could come over the gate to help… yes! I explained that I needed her to hold Bertha’s head and let Bertha lean against her while I worked to get the legs turned around. I was able to get my hand on the leg and found the hoof, then I cupped my hand around it and tried to bring the leg backwards without damaging Bertha’s uterus. It was so hard and scary but I got it turned around. I was on an adrenaline rush and both surprised and relieved at what I just did! I laid my head on Bertha’s back and heard Hannah ask, “Mom, are you crying?”

After a few tears and deep breaths, I got the other hind leg turned around the same way as the first leg, then let Bertha rest until she had to push again.

The problem that arises when lambs are born with back legs coming out first is that the umbilical cord is pinched before the lamb’s head is delivered, causing the lamb to begin breathing while it is still surrounded by amniotic fluid.

When Bertha began pushing I pulled the legs to fully extend them and pulled the lamb out quickly so it didn’t inhale any fluid. Once out, I wiped the birth fluids from its face and rubbed its side to get it breathing. Bertha’s ram lamb starting shaking his head and calling to her right away.

I was so overwhelmed with relief that I found myself crying again! I called our vet to tell him the lamb was born but asked him to come check on Bertha since he was on his way.

Bertha was perfect and neither of us felt another lamb so this little guy has his mama all to himself. Well, except for me milking her so I can make some sheep’s milk soap.

Raulie’s Story

In 2011, we found ourselves going through financial instability. It’s difficult to fund a farm on your own and to start a family. We had been debating if we should keep our flock of Tunis sheep and keep breeding them or if we should let some go. We unwillingly listed some for sale, but there was no interest. In the spring of 2012 we figured that there must be a reason none of our sheep sold and so we decided we would purchase a ram and keep breeding.

We found Raulie for sale at another farm, but he was actually being used by the SVF Foundation in their heritage breed germplasm preservation program. The Foundation gathers genetic material (semen and embryos) of heritage breed animals to freeze for preservation and possible future use. Raulie had been donated to the Foundation and the farm we had contacted suggested we deal directly with the Foundation.

After talking with someone from the Foundation we agreed Raulie would come to our farm and settled on a date to transport him to Pennsylvania from Rhode Island. We would meet the person transporting him from the Foundation halfway. Lastly we talked about price, which I had been not looking forward to. The Foundation wanted to donate him to us since he was donated to them.

I think I cried. Probably because I cry at anything remotely emotional. But… God has, over and over, been Jehovah-Jireh for me. The LORD Who Provides. My LORD Who Provides. He doesn’t give me what I want, but what I need in the midst of hard times.

Raulie arrived at our farm in April 2012. He was so gentle, even during breeding season he respected our space.

Raulie

He sired 28 lambs for us over the years he was with us. We have kept two of his daughters, Harriet (2014) and Kathleen (2017).

In the winter of 2016-2017, we realized Raulie was slowing down and having some joint issues – perhaps arthritis. We decided to retire him from breeding, but I didn’t want him to leave our farm. He was special to me. He reminded me that God provides.

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In December 2017, Raulie started spitting out his cud. Large wads of cud. Our vet found a marble-sized lump on his trachea, but we didn’t do any invasive tests to look internally. We treated him with 2 weeks of steroids and changed his diet. He was to now get soaked hay pellets instead of hay (because the pieces were much smaller) and he was to be fed 3 times per day (so he didn’t have to digest large amounts at a time). He bloated with the steroids, but we treated him with baking soda and he got better. He went crazy for the soft hay pellets that didn’t even really require chewing! Ever morning, afternoon and evening he greeted us with bright eyes for those pellets, moving as fast as his arthritis would let him move.

When he started having digestive issues we decided we did not want to do “whatever it took” to make him better. He was a couple weeks from turning 12 years old, which is old for a sheep. We wanted him to have a good quality of life and we wanted him to not suffer. Each day we looked him over to be sure he was eating and moving well. I checked in our vet on occasion to ask questions about different things that came up.

When we sheared the sheep at the end of February, I made Raulie a sweatshirt so he wouldn’t be too cold afterwards.

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He was not thrilled about getting dressed in it, but he was a sport. I had been afraid he would not be in good body condition because of his eating issues, but he actually looked good when he was shorn.

Yesterday morning Raulie greeted my with bright eyes, as always, eager to get his breakfast. My father-in-law fed him his afternoon feeding and he finished it all. Last night when Dave went to the barn to feed him, he found Raulie dead. It appeared he had laid down, fell asleep and didn’t wake up. There was no evidence that he struggled at all.

I felt peace, like a confirmation that we gave him a good quality of life for the life he had left.

 

 

Dairy-Free Treats for my Niece

My niece gets eczema-like flakiness on her scalp.  It was originally diagnosed as cradle cap, but when the condition persisted into her toddler years and didn’t respond to cradle cap treatments, my sister suspected a dairy allergy.  A couple weeks after removing all dairy from her diet, my niece’s scalp wasn’t dry and flaky anymore.

This spring I experimented with making dairy-free desserts for my niece.  Two were big hits with our whole family, the other, was good but not great.  I have an idea of how to make it better, though.

On Hannah’s birthday I made a dairy-free Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie in addition to her birthday cake.  I found the recipe for a CC skillet cookie via Pinterest, tweaked it a bit and Viola!

Dairy-Free Skillet CC Cookie

Here’s my version of the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 ¾ c                    white whole wheat flour (King Arthur’s)

½ tsp                   baking soda

14 tbsp                 Earth Balance

½ c                       granulated sugar

3/4 c                     packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown)

1 tsp                      salt

3 tsp                     vanilla extract

1                            large egg

1                            large egg yolk

1 ¼ c                    Enjoy Life semi-sweet chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Adjust oven rack to middle position.  Lightly butter pan.

  1. Whisk together flour and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat until melted about 2 minutes. *Continue      stirring for another 1-3 minutes until brown and nutty in aroma.*   {Earth Balance doesn’t get brown and      nutty, so I skipped this step}
  3. Remove from heat.  Pour heated butter through a sieve into a heat proof bowl.  Stir in remaining butter until completely melted.  Add all three sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully combined.  Add egg and egg yolk, whisk until mixture is smooth and no sugar lumps remains, for about 30 seconds.
  4. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes then whisk for another 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat step four 2 more times until mixture is thick and shiny.
  6. Stir in flour until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips until combined.
  7. Press cookie dough mixture into pan.  Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown and still puffy.  {Note:  baking time is based on using a 10-inch skillet.  If you use a smaller or bigger one you will have to adjust your baking time.}

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For St. Patrick’s Day, I made the Coconut Oil Fudge recipe that I found on Common Sense Home blog.  It was good, but I didn’t add the nuts or dried fruit in the recipe and you could really taste the coconut oil.

coconut fudge

I think if I make it again I will use a neutral taste coconut oil like Jarrow’s and add the nuts and/or dried fruit.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
2 c                     unrefined coconut oil, softened
¾  c                  finely chopped nuts
1 c                     organic cocoa powder
7 tbsp               maple syrup or honey
¼ c                   chopped dried organic cherries or dried, unsweetened coconut
¼ c                   chopped dried organic cranberries

Directions:

In the bowl of a standing mixer stir coconut oil until creamy with no lumps (if oil is too thick, set bowl in warm water). (You want the oil soft, not liquid.  If it is liquid, the other ingredients will settle to the bottom of the pan instead of staying mixed with the oil.  If this happens, you can warm the whole thing and remix.)  Add cocoa powder and sweetener, mixing after each ingredient. Mix in the dried fruit, (coconut), and nuts.

Spread fudge into 7″x11″ or 9″x9″ inch pan and refrigerate or freeze until firm. Cut into squares and serve. Keep refrigerated.

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What Easter basket is complete without chocolate?  My very favorite are buttercreams.  I decided to make dairy-free buttercreams for my niece for Easter and they were fantastic!  For the filling I used this Irish Potato recipe from Cooks.com, minus the coconut (yes, Irish Potatoes are buttercreams plus coconut and rolled in cinnamon).

DF Buttercreams

Recipe:

1 lb           10x sugar

1 stick      Earth Balance

½ tsp       salt

1 tsp         vanilla

1/3 c        light Karo

1 bag       Enjoy Life semi-sweet chips

Directions:

Mix ingredients by hand or in mixer.  When combined put in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  Melt Enjoy Life chips in double boiler.  Scoop filling with spoon or cookie dough scoop and roll in melted chips.  Remove and place in paper candy cups or on wax/parchment paper.  Refrigerate until set and store in refrigerator.  Note: the filling warms easier and faster that true buttercreams so you may need to work in small batches so it doesn’t get too soft to work with.

I’m already looking for summer desserts that I can make for my niece and can’t wait to share them with you!

Cousin’s Weekend – Team Boys!

My sister and I both have 2 children – and both a son and daughter.  My son is 7 1/2 and my daughter is almost 5.  Her twins are 4 1/2.  The kids really enjoy having “switcheroo” sleepovers, where the boys sleep at my house and the girls sleep at her house.

Hannah, who rarely plays with dolls, loves playing princess and dress-up with her cousin and spending time with her aunt and uncle.  Noah adores both of his cousins, but has a blast having another boy around who can keep up with his endless amount of energy!

Our 1st trip after we got home was to Oley Valley Feed to get some feed for the critters and some fence supplies.  Then we went over to The Oley Turnpike Diner for lunch…

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and to see the animals in the petting zoo.  It was so cold and windy, but the kids liked all the animals plus they got to feed them crackers!  The donkeys were the loudest and one sounded like it was crying!

Those donkeys were loud!  :)

After we got home, the boys rode bikes outside…

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…and cut down some bushes.  In 10 years or so, they’ll be a pretty good grounds crew!  🙂  Oh, while we were outside I introduced my nephew to “Aunt Kim tissues”, too… (the edge of my shirt or sleeve for little noses).

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When the boys got too cold we went inside where they wrestled and played cars.  After dinner, they watched some tv and snuggled with Fastnacht, our house bunny.

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Sunday was even colder and windier, but they boys insisted on riding bikes again.  They managed to stay outside for about an hour in the morning and again in the afternoon.  They perfected riding on ice (which was nerve-racking for me), but at least my nephew had training wheels on his bike!

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We visited the sheep, but the sheep didn’t want any attention since we didn’t have food.  My nephew got to see his favorite sheep, Fiona, who he said was “all grown up and beautiful”.

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At lunch Dave opened his venison (or benison!) summer sausage from Shaffer Venison Farms.  After I ate some the boys each tried some.  We sent some sausage pieces home with my nephew because he liked it so much and that night I got a text from my sister, “Is this really deer sausage? … He wants me to get him more.  He was so excited when he remembered he had it.”  I know what he’ll be getting for his birthday this year!

After lunch the boys rode bikes again.    We played with the cats…

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…and played “Octonauts” (a Disney show) while snow flurries swirled around!  The kids’ fort was their headquarters and the bikes were their Gups (submarines).  At one point my nephew asked for a tissue and I told him I didn’t have one (hoping to go inside – I was freezing!).  He said, “What about an Aunt Kim tissue?”  Haha!

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Everyone had a wonderful weekend and I love having my nephew stay with us!  I think we were all tired out by Sunday afternoon and slept well Sunday night!

(I was very happy to have my baby girl home again, too!)  😉

Meet Our New Pets!

We’ve had house rabbits in the past (Beau lived till he was 8 and Lola lived till she was 7) and our kids have been asking to get more rabbits for a while now.  On Sunday we went to the PaSRBA Convention in Lebanon, PA and the kids chose 2 rabbits to bring home.

Welcome Home!

Noah chose a broken black Mini Rex buck and named him Fastnacht (fosh-not).  For anyone not familiar with what a fastnacht is, click here.

Fastnacht

Hannah picked out a black otter Netherland Dwarf doe.  She first picked the name Blackie, but then decided on Black Rock.  I guess Blackie wasn’t creative enough for her!

Black Rock

They are each 3 months old and in separate cages until they can visit the vet, but here’s a cute picture of them together when we first brought them home.

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Making Gnocchi

Gnocchi can be made 2 ways… with potato or Ricotta cheese.  I use my grandmother’s recipe to make mine and use Ricotta.

What you’ll need:

3 lbs         Ricotta Cheese

2lbs+        Flour (you’ll need to add more than 2 lbs so that the dough isn’t sticky and also for rolling the dough)

3                eggs

handfull of parmesan (I use Locatelli instead)

Gnocchi boards or forks

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Step 1 – Put wax paper on cookie sheets.

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Step 2 – Measure out ingredients and make “well” in center of flour.

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Step 3 – Mix together eggs, Ricotta and parmesan.

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Step 4 – add wet mixture to well in flour and knead dough (don’t over-knead or the dough will become tough).

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Step 5 – Wet a towel with water, wring it out and cover dough so it doesn’t dry out.  Cut of small amount of dough off.

gnocchi8Step 6 – Roll into long “rope” and cut into small pieces.

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Step 7 – Roll pieces of dough on gnocchi boards or forks.

Step 8 – Freeze gnocchis on cookie sheets then put into freezer bags (you can also cook the fresh gnocchis).

Step 9 – Cook in boiling water until they all float.  Serve in a dish with gravy (we don’t call it sauce!) and enjoy!

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Remembering September 11th, 2001

Eleven years ago thousands of Americans lost their lives in a horrific act of terrorism.

September 11th, 2001 was my 2nd day at my new job at the US Court of Appeals Law Library in Philadelphia.  We first heard the news from a friend of my co-worker who worked in NY.  He didn’t say what kind of plane crashed so I immediately called my boyfriend (now – husband) because his company (an aerial survey company that I had just left to join the library) flew in NYC airspace frequently.  I couldn’t imagine a large jet would crash and could only think that it might be one of the flight crews that I had worked with.

Then we found out what happened.

Center City Philadelphia was essentially evacuated.

As soon as I left the courthouse I called my dad…and looked up.  Rumors were traveling that Philadelphia was on the terrorists’ list of targets.  One memory that’s burned into my mind of that day is the brilliant blue sky.  It was gorgeous.

Mass transit was a nightmare.  It took me 2 hours on the regional rails to get to NE Philadelphia (a ride that usually took 30 minutes or so).  But I couldn’t even get to the station near where my car was parked.  That line was closed because it was also an Amtrak line that went into NYC.  Someone on the train offered another girl and me a ride to that station since we were both parked there.

I got to the station and went around the block to my boyfriend’s condo.  I walked in the door just when the second tower collapsed.  I sank to the floor and cried.

The news was on the rest of the day following any details that emerged.  The courthouse was closed the next day and when we returned to work on Thursday federal police armed with automatic rifles were guarding the courthouse (and every other federal building in the country).

 

My son, Noah, came home from school today and said, “Mom, do you know what happened on 9/11?”

Me: yes, did you learn about it at school?

N: yeah … {he then told me about the big planes that had lots of people on them and they crashed into two tall towers in NY}

Me: {almost in tears} did you learn about another building in Washington DC called the Pentagon?

N: no

… I then told him {with tears rolling down my face} about the 3rd plane that crashed into the Pentagon.  And I told him about the 4th plane where the passengers learned about what happened in NY and DC and how they became heroes because they didn’t let the “bad guys” who were flying the plane crash it into another building.  That plane crashed into a field in PA and those passengers died too, but they saved many other peoples’ lives.

 

Noah has learned about September 11th before, but I think this year (2nd grade) he could grasp what happened that day.

I pray that we never forget that day and continue to teach our children what happened.