Monday, December 28, 2009

Warm up your feet....

Here are Hummingbird and "Young" hen. I think this is a case of "you scratch my back and I'll warm your feet..." I love the way the goats and the chickens get along so well. The goats seem very careful not to step on chicken toes, and they are all very interested in each other. I have one special hen who refuses to roost anywhere but in the barn with her goat friends. I don't deny her that privilege, as she lays the largest eggs!

New Year's Resolutions

The written word has always been so important to me. The physical act of putting your wishes into words, then writing them, empowers those thoughts--adds a touch of magic. I have seen in my journals many instances where I have written down my goals and dreams, then found these goals have been realized. So it is VERY important to write out my goals for the New Year!
  1. Make healthier meals for my husband and myself. One of my chief complaints about how we eat is that we are so hungry when we get home that we rush to eat whatever we find in front of us! This is a BIG challenge.
  2. Schedule more time for art. I need time to sketch and paint every week. I also want to get my work into more shows and spend more time promoting my art! My friends need to know what I do, and sometimes I am shy about telling them. I am very proud of my work! (See my paintings at
  3. Find the energy for exercise. Now that I feel more confident about my health, I don't have an excuse NOT to :)
  4. Get Rick out of the house. He loves to travel, I don't. He NEEDS more travel time....

OK, this is a good start! I'll let you know how we do....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snowy days...

Pampered Piggy

Merry Christmas!!

We had a foot of LOVELY snow last week. It knocked out our power for two days and caused general chaos in this area. I love the snow, the way a hush falls over the farm while it is falling. I sit in my window and watch. It is good weather for bird watching. The birds are easily seen against the white backdrop. In winter, we get Dark Eyed Juncos, Oak Tit Mice, Finches, Rufous Towhees, and several that just flit through on their way to warmer roosting sites. They still have to fill their tummies, even though their food is covered with a foot of snow, so I make sure their feeders are full of sunflower seeds, or suet, or thistle. I have a woodpecker post that I fill with a peanut butter/corn meal/seed mixture that the nuthatches like. We even have several hummers who have refused to fly south, so I bring in the frozen feeder in the mornings, replacing it with the one that I brought in to thaw the day before. They love me :) Since I can see them so well and they are hanging around the feeders, it is a good time to sketch them. It is not an easy thing to do, to sketch a 'winged person', but with practice I am getting better.
The goats don't like the cold, but they like being WET even less, so they get to have a snuggly snow day in their cozy barn, calmly munching their alfalfa. No power means no indoor plumbing, no hot water (NO WATER, period) no showers, no light, no TV, no computer.... Lucky for us we are mountain people who love to sit by the fire in the wood stove and just breathe. We don't mind heating a can of soup for dinner. But the goats have to have clean WARM water. If they drink it cold they lose body heat. So I had to melt snow on my gas stove to make water for them to drink. One full bucket of snow melts down to about two inches of water in the bottom of that bucket. I was making three to five buckets of water every day just for them. Do the math. Then we needed enough hot water to wash our hair and bathe ourselves. AHHHH! My bucket muscles are still a little sore, but I think it was good exercise :)
Lucy rarely left her place in front of the wood stove. In fact, she was highly insulted when the power came back on and I kicked her pig butt out the front door! (She is like a naughty three year old, into EVERYTHING, and gets bored very easily. If it sits on the floor it is fair game to be tossed or snuffled or rooted over :) The good news is that she can't climb!
Our Aussies LOVE the snow! They RUN around and play and bark, and then lay down and drag their bellies for several feet. They love "snow ball" although they are a little confused when they can't find the "ball" that I have thrown for them. Jack lays down on his side and makes a "snow dog angel"!

When the weather broke, I had to drive back down the hill to go to work. The brilliant sunlight on the snow made the high meadows look like fields of diamonds, and the shadows cast by the trees were deep periwinkle. My spirits SOAR, my angels sing and I just LOVE this beautiful place we live in!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tilly loves treats!

Thanksgiving 2009

AHHHH! I am still full. I truly love Thanksgiving with all of our traditional recipes: Roasted Turkey (a drumstick for me, please :), bread crumb dressing with mushrooms and celery, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, fresh dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and especially our pies! Mom always makes two yummy pumpkin pies, and I usually bring an apple pie and a pecan pie. (If you do the math here, that adds up to four pies for seven people:) We have always made this particular dinner from scratch--no shortcuts for us! REAL gravy made from the turkey drippings, and real potatoes that were peeled and cooked and mashed (I always get this job.) No stuffing from a box, no potato flakes. No canned green beans. No pre-made pie crusts. Maybe it is all the extra love and care that goes into the making of this meal that makes it taste so special!

Mom does an excellent job decorating her home for the holidays. The table is set with her beautiful pink and white transferware, and she uses fabric and placemats for added color and texture. She always has the loveliest arrangement for her centerpiece. This year she added a large turkey planter that I have begun to covet. (This was something that she found at the Hospice thrift shop just a few minutes before I came in looking for this EXACT turkey!!) I just happened to stop at Hospice that day and went in for the express purpose of finding a turkey for my Thanksgiving display. I KNEW the minute that I saw him on her table that she bought him there!! (Mom has always had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. CRAP!) I actually did find a small turkey that day that I was perfectly tickled with, until I saw Mom's specimen...

All of the animeaux receive a special Thanksgiving treat too. Lucy the Pig got some juicy fresh red-flame grapes, the fowl ate the leftover green salad, the dogs got extra cookie treats and the cats had tuna. The goats love apple treats (for horses,) and they chew, chew, chew them with a little drool and a goatie smile.

All souls were satisfied at FiddleSong Farm.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thyroid cancer update

Today, my surgeon called me to tell me good news. My biosy tests were all negative for cancer cells. (My PET scan showed one tiny spot in my neck, which is what was biopsied.) "Well, I guess we didn't make any money off you this time!" he said with a smile in his voice. I am ecstatic! I could not have received a better gift before Thanksgiving.

For ALL of us cancer warriors, we know how frightening that battery of tests can be. We try to "read" the expressions on the faces of the nuclear medicine techs. We play over and over the questions they asked us before and after our scans. Of course some of us have UBER-imaginations (which normally make our lives a little more interesting) in this case, we imagine every possible horrible scenario. For us thyroid cancer survivors, we have the added pleasure of being taken off our meds for four or more weeks. If you have experienced this, you know why we call it "hypo hell." This time around, I had a few more weapons in my battle to combat Fear:

  • I wrote in my journal EVERY night.

  • I tried to maintain my routine. Even something as simple as doing dishes made me feel a little more in control. It also really helped to make a list of what I did during the day.

  • I tried to keep busier, even when my depleted thyroid levels made it harder to do EVERYTHING.

  • I helped the doctor organize my testing schedule, which kept from dragging things out too long. I also knew which questions to ask this time.

  • I ate a little healthier and tried to get fresh air and exercise every day.

  • I made sure that I had a sleep aid on hand to help me rest better.

  • Music helps.

  • Prayer helps ;) "Please God, just help me get through the next few hours..."

I have been back on my thyroid supplement for two weeks today. I still have a couple of weeks to climb before I am back to "normal". I have SO MUCH to be thankful for this year :)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

First harvest

Pink Ladies! I just brought in my apple crop. OK, even though I knew these were my favorite apple variety before I tasted these, they are BY FAR the BEST apples I have ever eaten. This is the first year my apple tree has produced (she is four years old) and I only got eighteen apples, but they are DELICIOUS! They are sweet and crisp with just the right tang to them, and I ate one cold right out in the garden. The sweet juice was dripping down my chin-- I can't wait to share these with my grandkids!

I strive for organic produce. My goatberries do a great job fertilizing for me, so as long as I can keep my goats out of my garden, they make a GREAT addition to this way of life. My little dairy goats are way easier on my fences and my back than my big pushy Nubians were--so far so good :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

FiddleSong...the beginning

When Rick and I found this place in 2002, it was a run down cedar cabin on four acres in the woods. It was meant to become a home with privacy, a haven, an affordable alternative to living in the suburbs of the Bay Area. It was dirty and neglected and the front door didn't lock. It was TWO HOURS away from my girls, WAY too far away. It had good bones, though. And the roof didn't leak. The foundation looked sturdy and there were hardwood floors in the main rooms. I fell in love with the feel of it. The property had a sense of peace about it. It had an air of abandonment-it needed me. Because of the dirt and the remote location, it had been on the market for much too long, so we got it for a SONG.

Let the demo begin! I believe Rick tore out the '70's burnt orange carpet the day before we moved in :) I started cleaning the floors. It took me about two gallons of Pine Sol and several days on my hands and knees before I felt like the floor was clean. Neither one of us had a job at the time, and buying this place was a huge leap of faith, but neither of us has been sorry, even after all of the exhausting work that we have put into it. It has been that "labor of love" that you hear about.

Fiddletown? We had never heard of Fiddletown. As small gold towns go, it is one of the smallest, but it has a rich and interesting history. It was a thriving mining town and Chinese settlement for many years, and it got it's name from the story about a cultured lady who lived on a hill in town in the 1850s who gave violin lessons. It is said that you could hear her play in the evenings as the sound would have traveled far.

The dream...I told myself, I didn't want too many flowers. I didn't want to do too much watering. No vegetable garden, too much work. OK, maybe a few herbs....We got a dog, then another. THEN our friend LuLu gave me two beautiful Pygora goats, "to eat the brush," she said. Then Rick brought home three young Nubian does "to eat the brush," he said. Then we got some chickens. All of a sudden we were a farm! I always wanted a farm! I wanted fresh eggs and sweet, vine ripened heirloom tomatoes. An apple tree would be nice....It is a TON of work, but satisfaction for the soul :)

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