Goat Mischief

Saturday afternoon I went out to visit the goats. The stall door to their paddock was shut and they were outside – without food or water. OBVIOUSLY Steve, during the morning chores, had not latched the door open. I told Pip and Caper how sorry I was that that man had allowed this to happen. They got extra treats.I made sure that the door was hooked securely. See that cute goat far below? Poor baby.

I let Steve know that he’d let the helpless goats suffer.

He said, “You know, this happened yesterday, too. Once it’s my fault, but twice? Someone has learned to open the latch.” He went out to fix the situation.

Caper helped. Notice that snow bank? Perfect for climbing….

This morning I found the twine untied. Steve will be back out with wire to replace it.

What did I learn? That if you are a goat maid, the word obviously has no place in your vocabulary.

New Hat

The problem with being a “chicken celebrity” is that friends cannot resist giving me gifts with chicken motifs. They give me things I would not normally wear. Ever. Like this hat.

Note that not only is there a chicken on my head, but there are also braids with bows. My son says that he would be mortified to be seen with me if I wear it. Steve says I look adorable, but I could be wearing a colander on my head and he would think that. It does fit perfectly, and it is made of the coziest yarn. Lily doesn’t care what I wear. She’s just happy that we’re out in the snow.

There’s 32 inches of snow in the meadow. I’m on snowshoes. Lily is not.

She is very happy. We tromp a big loop around the field.

Scooter is waiting for us to come home. I’ve told him that the snow is too deep for him, but he doesn’t believe me.

Baked Beets

Last night eleven inches of snow fell on top of the eighteen inches already on the ground. I pulled on my snow pants this morning, waded out to the barns, and had to shovel to get the doors open.

It’s a good day to be in the kitchen.

I bought beets at last Saturday’s farmers’ market.

Typical of a root vegetable, they’re a bit gnarly and off-putting. But beets are actually not difficult to prepare. Some people bake them, and then slip the skins off, but I find that peeling them first is easier. Any way you do it, the beets will dye your hands bright red. It wears off in a day, and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere in this snow. Usually, though, I wear disposable gloves when I work with beets.

Isn’t this beet looking prettier already? I love the color.

I’m going to make baked beets, so I chop them and put them in a heavy baking dish. To ease clean-up, I enclose them in heavy foil. These are juicy beets, but I add two tablespoons of water anyway, to ensure that they steam as they bake.

Put the dish in a 350º F oven for 90 minutes.

I like to eat plain baked beets right out of the oven – they’re like vegetable candy. I like them chilled atop a green salad. I also like to dress them and eat as a side-dish. Beets pair particularly well with citrus.

Baked Beets with Orange Dressing

1 pound baked beets, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (only if using an organic orange)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Whisk the dressing and toss with the beets.

Cochlear Implant Update

As many of you know, I had a cochlear implant implanted on December 17. My surgeon says that I had a tougher recovery than 90% of her patients. More pain, more of a reaction to the anesthesia, and more weird side-effects. But that’s over with! (Well, almost.)

On January 10 the device was turned on, and, as expected, voices sounded like they went through one of those machines that a criminal might use to leave a ransom message. It takes awhile for the brain to make sense of these new pathways for aural inputs. Already, after only two weeks, voices are sounding more normal. Voices continue to have a metallic echo, but already I have more clarity than I had with my hearing aids.

For thirty years I have dealt with being hard of hearing, and with the anger, frustration, grieving, and acceptance, that comes with a disability. Because my loss is progressive, I went through that emotional cycle over and over. I’d learn to cope, and then have the rug pulled out from under me and have to go through it all over again. The CI has stopped that. I know my baseline. If I never hear better than I am hearing now, it’s okay, because I know it will never get worse. Just that has changed my world. The icing on the cake is that my hearing is getting better.  It’s likely that my hearing will improve not just over the next few weeks, but over the next year or more. Amazing.

From the start, human voices, although weird, were understandable. It was another story with my animals. The first time I heard Lily bark I thought that the fire alarm went off! Walking down my hallway, I wondered what a loud tick-tick-tick was. I turned around and discovered that Lily’s nails make a lot of noise when she trots behind me. I’m enjoying the chickens’ chortles and clucks (I wasn’t deaf, so I had heard them, but now I’m hearing their fuller musical range.) Surprisingly, the goats don’t sound much different than they did before. But, now that I can hear noises from a greater distance, I’ve found out that Caper bleats when I leave the barn to go back to the house. I didn’t know. Sweet.

Cold Weather Chicken Chores

This was the temperature this morning.

-6º F. That’s -21º C.

Even the dogs don’t want to go outside. Lily stays on the path, and then hurries back into the house. But I have animals to take care of.

I have a bottle filled with hot water for Candy. She’s waiting at her door. Her face is icy from her own breath, but she’s been cozy all night in her house and she’s eager to come hop down into the yard.

The hens come right outside, too. Lulu, of course, is the first one down the ramp and the rest soon follow. I’ve tossed corn into the straw. It’s a source of dense calories to keep them warm, and it keeps them busy.

The goats are happy to see me.

Isn’t anyone grumpy about this cold weather? It’s hard to complain when the animals are so cheerful. Well, Caper is not sure about liking the snow.

Look at how his beard is frizzing out in the cold! He doesn’t mind.

The waterers, feeders and hay rack have been checked and filled. The chickens have been let out, given grain and two eggs collected. I’m ready to go in and get my own breakfast.

The thing about having animals to care for is that it forces you outside at times that you wouldn’t otherwise have gone. If it weren’t for my chores, I’d have missed how beautiful the early morning light and shadows are on the roof.

Pretty, but I don’t linger. I haven’t had my coffee yet.

Pip can’t believe that I’m not staying outside to play with him. I promise Pip that when it warms up I’ll be back out for a longer visit. I expect that it will get to be 10º by noon.