Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm...

While Johnny was having fun in the sun in California, I was home having, well, fun in the sun in Oregon. It did not rain the entire 11 days he was gone. Having recovered from my Timolol debacle, I was bursting with energy and caught up on horse and goat hoof trimming, pen cleaning, grape pruning, asparagus and artichoke bed weeding, cleaning bird nest gourds and putting them up. Well, I also watched birds a bit for the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count. Those photos are on my blog posts about that count. I did not take photos of hoof trimming or weeding or pen cleaning. Nor did I take photos of the huge hole I dug for burying a goat that died (not unexpectedly... she had been on her way out for weeks.).

But I did take a lot of photos of the lovely sunsets we had each night.

And a few of the many flowers blooming in our yard on this early spring.

But mostly I worked. After all that work, on Thursday, Feb. 19, I took a day off and toured the farm with friend Nancy. That morning, friend Harold had brought me a Jersey bull calf that I had ordered. Sir Loin is as cute as can be but the goats are terrified of him.


 And I made custard and ice cream, lots and lots of ice cream.... because I had too much milk from my four milking does. Sir Loin will help take care of that now. But I have been eating a lot of custard and ice cream and have plenty of milk beyond what Sir Loin drinks for making more ice cream... vanilla and mint and mint chocolate chip. Yum! Nancy got to taste the custard and ice cream and was so impressed she took some milk home to make more for herself... using her emu eggs for the custard.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, the day Johnny was to arrive at the Amtrak station, I took 85-year-old neighbor Irv, with his 14 homing pigeons, 5 Polish crested chickens, and 7 sacks of jerusalem artichokes to the Poultry Swap in Rickreall. There turned out to be far more miscellany than poultry at the poultry swap. Irv sold out of all but one bird in the first five minutes after we arrived... before we were even set up! It took a little longer to sell all the artichokes and the last rooster. Although I took my camera to the Poultry Swap, fully intending to take photos of Irv's set-up with his poultry, I did not have a chance before they were sold and gone. He even had several people give him their names if he had any more pigeons to sell in the future. 

I bought a dozen hatching eggs and gave nine of them to our setting half-banty hen. In three weeks, hopefully we will have chicks.

After we were sold out, we went to meet Johnny at the Amtrak station and take him home. It was good to have him back again. That night the crescent moon and Venus and Mars put on a show for us.

For some reason, the crescent moon looks like a full moon through the camera. I guess the bright portion lights up the shadowed area.

Zoomed up closer, Mars appears red next to bright white Venus.

And now, after two weeks of no rain, our seasonal pond where I have been watching the tiny water creatures  has nearly dried up. Today I took photos of the copepods that are in horse hoof prints, about the only places still holding water. In other areas, their little red bodies are thick and motionless in the mud. Will they come back to life when it rains? Do they die in the dry season or estivate in mud? How do they come back in the wet season? So many questions...

copepods in water in a horse hoof print

hoof print

drying out
There was another thing besides a goat and tiny water creatures that died while Johnny was gone... a deer, half hidden under a log and covered with mosses and other things meant to hide it. I set up trail cameras to see what came back to the kill. That story and those photos another time...

Johnny's "Vacation" Part 2: Kestrel's 8th Birthday!

Grandpa Johnny, naturally, decided to put Kestrel's birthday candles in a banana. Kestrel decided to blow them out with a balloon.

Like Cedrus, Kestrel wanted to have his kid party with friends after Grandpa left, "so he'd have more time with Grandpa". Clever child.  His mom took a photo of him opening his gift from us.

Of course, I gave him a book about American Kestrels, his namesake bird.

In their household, the birthday person gets to pick whatever they want to eat for breakfast, lunch and supper. Kestrel wanted to have, among other things, Ginger Beet Kraut for every meal. And so he did.

Between meals they had the standard ice cream bar treat. Grandpa and Munazza tried to steal Cedrus's.

Ice skating was also on the agenda. Steve, of course, is a natural since he lives on inline skates.

But Kestrel and Cedrus were soon  zooming around the rink on their own.

 Relax time found them watching and laughing over Myth Busters.

Cedrus read to Kestrel and Grandpa.

And Munazza showed Steve and Johnny photos she has collected of possibilities for the as yet unfinished bookshelves and fireplace treatment. Deciding what to do is the hardest part.

The above photo was taken by the surprise visitor to Kestrel's birthday day: his beloved Auntie Fudge. Here she is with the boys and the new birthday outfit she bought for Kestrel.

Kestrel models... What a cool kid!

The next day, Friday, Grandpa left on Amtrak for Oregon and home, arriving Saturday afternoon, full of great memories... and photos from Munazza for my blogs... and for me to share in Johnny's "vacation" and Kestrel's 8th birthday. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Johnny's California "Vacation", Part One

Kestrel's 8th birthday was in the middle of "Ski Week" at his school, when no one goes skiing since there is no snow but they also don't go to school (I'm not sure why.) Kestrel wanted Grandpa Johnny there for his birthday but also to give a cider making presentation at his school. But there was no school that week. So Johnny, always willing to take a train ride and hang out with any of his grandkids and their parents for however long, left on Tuesday, Feb. 10, arriving on Wednesday in El Cerrito, where Munazza's sister Faiza lives, to do some repairs on her condo. Naturally, the only photos he took there were of one of his projects, caulking around the foot of her bathtub, ... and food... the lunch she prepared for him (omelet and chocolate muffins and tangerine slices plus a green drink not pictured. Johnny said all of it was yummy.)

Most of the rest of the photos were taken by Munazza with her phone after Johnny arrived Wednesday afternoon in San Carlos. (Reminder: to see the photos full sized, click on a photo)

On Thursday, Johnny was scheduled to give his cider making talk at Cedrus' kindergarten class and Kestrel's second grade class. Naturally, he gave it the Grandpa Johnny way... funny. In each class he first suggested various (im)possible ways to make cider: by sticking a straw into an apple and sucking; smashing an apple with a hammer and trying to drink the juice...

at Kestrel's class
in Cedrus' class with Cedrus helping

Finally he admitted defeat and showed the kids how we make it here on the farm... through photos.

 After the presentation, everyone had a drink of cider from our farm that Kestrel and Cedrus had helped squeeze this fall. Cedrus's  teacher, Gina, posed for a photo with the cider men and the cider.

On Friday, Kestrel and Munazza had a field trip. Cedrus had a Valentine's party at school.

 In between trips to the school, Johnny worked on projects at the house: adding electrical outlets, creating new circuits for new light fixtures, and more. Kestrel helped when he was home.

 On the weekend, they rode bikes to a nearby school grounds, where Kestrel displayed his monkey bar agility.

 Crazy Steve, on inline skates as always, decided to hang from the monkey bars, too.

 Less dangerous excitement at home was the hatching and release of Painted Lady butterflies. They had hatched and released Monarch butterflies earlier. Cedrus figured out he could put his finger down by the new butterflies and they would crawl onto it. He then withdrew his hand and let them fly away when they were ready.

Also on the weekend, they went to a party celebrating friends' Tom and Yatin's twins... in the house with 5 flights of stairs for Cedrus to climb up and down. He loves stairs. Everyone loves babies.

Yatin with one of his babies

Steve with one of Yatin and Tom's babies

 On Monday, Feb. 16, President's Day, they went to the same beach they had taken me to. Johnny took a photo of this sign. A birding trail! Cool!

 They slid down the same bank we slid down and played on the beach in the same area. Johnny and Steve built stone towers.

They tried to fly the butterfly kite but there was not enough
wind this day.

                                                                                                                     And they climbed the climbing trees, of course.


 Johnny took this photo of Cedrus and Kestrel with their girlfriends, Megan and Lauren, on the hike.

 For the next two days, presumably Johnny did projects, not just played... like this raised bed being created from a sandbox that no one ever used.

 However, there was still plenty of goofing off going on. They spent part of a day setting off Mentos and Diet Coke geysers.

 Thursday, Feb. 19 and Kestrel's 8th birthday, finally arrived. That story and photos in my next blog post.