goat kids on the move!

It’s a sweet time on the farm when the kids are due. Anticipation, nervousness, excitement join to form a feeling that sort of keeps you on edge, and a little bit holding your breath and not realizing it. I actually start looking at photos of baby goats from the previous year. I’m constantly in the barn monitoring (but not sleeping there like some with many, many goats) I check the kidding kit and track down missing parts or say pull the same snot sucker, (baby nasal aspirator) thing from the bathroom drawer that I had used for my kids 20 years ago. This is still only our third year and I’ve not needed it previously but maybe this time. Our does have mostly done it all themselves with only a little assistance for a couple and they’ve all been born healthy.

Especially with social media, I see I’m not alone in this just post empty nest time. I love being a mom and in some little way I get to help “mother” the kids:) They can’t help but fill your heart. Their trust, vulnerability and curiosity are powerful. And it’s just plain fun and so amusing. Holding a baby goat brings you very much into the present and just gives you a moment to step outside of a sometimes crazy world.  I’m grateful we have the opportunity to experience this process and share it with others. We’ve so enjoyed all the visitors the last two weeks.  We are grateful for another successful kidding season with 11 out of 11 strong, healthy kids. And we will be looking for new homes in the near future!

So let’s get to it…There’s a lot of goat kid cuteness all over the web- here is what we have to add.

First to give birth on April 3rd was Dinah our Lagerian (they don’t have their own wikipedia link). She’s a cross between a La Mancha who have the elf or gopher ear trait(we call them all nubby ears) and a Nigerian Dwarf. You hope for the butterfat of the Nigerian with a little larger size/milk capacity of the La Mancha who also have very sweet personalities.  She kidded, cleaned them and they were nursing by the time we saw them. She’s like that.

With her buckling Duffy.

goat kidsDuffy and sister, Dharma.

They are funny and smart and the first to hang on the doorstep like they’ve lived here for years.

And to venture on the teeter totter- Ollie’s rule of thumb… we might consider keeping kids who play on this. (he made it)

On the same day Jane (nubian), kidded- she was a little early. Jojo, Juan in the middle and Juno’s bum on the right. Beautiful markings on these three. She did great for a first year mom (freshener).

These three getting some lap time with Nanny Nadine. She’s making goat week an annual event:)

Then we waited, and waited, and waited till Friday April 7. Shirley got some relief after a long labor with another three… she only had one last year. She was like…. wwhhhaaattt??? The second buckling, Salvatore (Sal for short) was very big. I’ve yet to get a good photo of the three. Sal on the log, Sadie in front and Mr. Brown on the right. And they are on a different play/sleep schedule than the rest you see under the manger napping.

And if you’ve never seen it- here is Mr. Brown straight from the womb.

Getting cleaned up.

And hoping he can figure out how to get up and hit those teets.

And last but not least on April 8th (my birthday too), Nena kidded THREE MORE- unassisted. I think she intentionally waited for the 90 minutes we were not in the barn.

We’ve got Nellie on the left, Nigel in the middle and Oreo on the right.They all started in their own corners and within a few days started playing together inside and out. Once they were sure footed, introductions to Else were closely supervised.

She is still only 7 months old and very curious.The kids are outside in between napping and nursing. They are in constant motion on the rocks and logs.

And they are venturing out into the yard now.goat kids

One of my favorite things with this whole venture is I’m like the pre-teen mecca. It’s so sweet watching these girls nurturing the kids- lots of snuggling and a natural rocking like a baby.

There likely will be regular photos on Instagram if you want to follow along… wendyellenthomas or Facebook

Happy Easter, Spring and all that you celebrate!

xx

wendy

White Kimchi with Pear & Fennel

Inspired by the fermenting demo at 610 Magnolia with Chef Edward Lee, I made this white kimchi with pear and fennel within days of returning home from the IACP conference in Louisville. It’s loosly based on the recipe from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee.

White Kimchi w/Pear and Fennel

  • Time: 1hr + 2-6hrs soaking
  • Print

*Note: Allow 2-24 hrs to soak cabbage in salted water at room temperature

Ingredients

  • 1 large savoy cabbage 3-4lbs cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 4-6 qts water for soaking cabbage
  • 1 bulb fennel, tops trimmed(save for something else), chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 pear, cored, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 8 ounces of daikon radish,peeled and chopped
  • 6 green onions cut in ½ inch pieces
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • ½ bunch cilantro, stems trimmed and discarded, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2oz ginger, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 2 TB fish sauce
  • 2 TB honey
  • ½ cup of whey if available

Directions

  • Cut the cabbage into quarters, cut out the core and discard. Coarsely chop cabbage into 1-2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
  • Toss in 1 cup of salt and massage into cabbage.
  • Cover the cabbage with water and place a weight (like a plate) on top to submerge cabbage. Let sit at room temperature for 2-6 hours (I’ll let it sit overnight even).
  • Drain cabbage and rinse. You will see it has begun to soften.
  • Chop the fennel, onion, pear, bell pepper, daikon, green onions and jalapeño pepper.
  • Mince the garlic and ginger and mix together with the ¼ cup of salt, honey, fish sauce and whey if available.
  • Mix cabbage and all remaining ingredients thoroughly and stuff into ½ gallon mason jar. Have an extra quart jar available for back up!
  • Take your fist and mash down the kimchi to bring up the liquid.
  • Place swatch of cheesecloth on the jar and place a lid on it.
  • After two days, gently open jar, “burp” it and make sure contents are under the liquid.
  • Leave at room temperature for 3-7 days and then refrigerate.
  • NOTE: I will let mine ferment on the counter for up to 2-3 weeks if it’s in a cooler pantry. This comes down to factors of room temperature and personal taste preferences. It will continue to ferment in the fridge- just not as quickly.

I packed all this into a half gallon canning jar along with another quart jar. It’s always a little give and take depending on the size of the cabbage.

I tried something Chef Lee did, putting a swatch of cheesecloth just under the lid. It keeps the contents off the underside of the lid.

After only 3 days it was burping and bubbling and the solids were completely immersed in the liquid. Using the whey does help expedite this process. You can either find someone who is making cheese, strain some from yogurt…Or just skip it. I’ve made pounds and pounds without whey and they turned out great. I also prefer not use the rice flour slurry that Chef Lee uses in his recipes.

Chef Lee and Darra Goldstein, editor of Cured Magazine, hosted this pre conference event. If Darra has a fan club, I want in. She is a walking food fact and history encyclopedia.

He prepared Chow Chow, a fermented green tomato relish I’ll surely make in August.

A white kimchi like the one I’ve made today, pickled beets and pickled watermelon with peppercorns, fennel fronds, celery, dill allspice, clove and garlic.

These deviled eggs served at Chef Lee’s demo are garnished with pickled watermelon.

I’ll be making the white kimchi again for sure as well in the summer with produce from our own gardens (and may sell it under a new business name- #StarRouteOrcas). But I could not wait until summer to try putting together this recipe. For lack of napa cabbage I went for a nice big head of savoy.

So this conference really rocked my boat. I’ve hovered over it for years waiting for the right time to land.  And 2017 was it. Ollie came with and had the opportunity to teach for a day at the University of Louisville to boot. Score: Double tax deduction. There were informative breakout sessions on writing and cookbook publishing, the workings of SEO, finding your niche, keynote address on the culture of Southern Foods and plenty of networking and good food. My elevator pitch was pretty, how shall I say, weak. But I actually have a fair amount of confidence behind my year of exploration. My midlife awakening. I was quite chuffed around 4am the night before the conference thinking about midlife crisis and how that’s not what I am experiencing. I couldn’t wait to wake up and coin the midlifeawakening hashtag. Yeah… if I had thought about it three years ago maybe. Well, I wasn’t shy to # my thoughts to an already existing stream of midlife consciousness. It’s true. I’ve never been happier than I am right this moment. I had a lucrative couple years doing a job from which I gained friendships and knowledge to carry through life but a job I don’t want to carry into the next decade. My fingernails yearn to be packed with dirt and dough.

So I’m workshopping and conferencing to my hearts content this year. This winter/early spring at least till our four does have their babies (kids) and start making buckets of milk! And then I’ll be making loads of cheese!

Happy fermenting!

xx

wendy

UCLA extension writers’ program

I spent Feb 9-12th in LA for a craft and courage writing class taught by Barbara Abercombrie at the UCLA extension Writers Program. She and the twelve people in the class took me and “my writing” I will say with confidence,  to another level. I am not shy to say it was for me more about the courage than the craft. Which I might think for many is a major hurdle. We often, undeservedly, call it a hobby.

writer-studio-signBarbara hit the nail on the head for me.”Coin or stamp collecting is a hobby, writing is a calling” And this isn’t to get all dramatic but writing can be almost this secret that you keep to yourself.  I’m not sure where it falls in the realm of passions such as gardening or cooking. Do we call those hobbies? Is meditation a hobby? Do we choose not to validate writing if it doesn’t earn money? Maybe it’s because writing is something we (I) can spend a fair amount of time on and there is no basket of greens and strawberries or a meal on the table as proof of my labors. Writing doesn’t often produce a tangible thing- at least not something you want to share. Maybe writing along with the meditation is increasing my gray matter!

Cue blog. I’m bumping up its priority in my life once again.

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#Womensmarch Orcas Island

I started to write a post on spaghetti squash, feta and sausage but had a hard time wrapping my head around food after such a monumental weekend. #womensmarch

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I haven’t done any blog reading the last three days and haven’t taken a pulse of blogs and politics. At least with the food and garden bloggers I follow. I’m sure there are countless political blog posts and I will be honest in saying I don’t follow many… ok – any. I read NYTimes online and I try to stay informed. And a visit to my Dad, who lives in a cabin on our property where MSNBC runs virtually 24/7, provides a strong dose of information.

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writing at wendyellenthomas.com

I often hesitate when asked to go outside of my normal blog routine. My days are often so filled that making another commitment to something, albeit not too difficult and even fun, I still quaver. But how could I pass up a chance to participate in this little tour that taps into how we go about this whole blog thing. I’ve enjoyed reading the process of other’s and felt inspired to articulate mine. Deliciously Nell over at I need a feed invited my to participate. You can look forward to hearing from Karista at Karista’s Kitchen next week. And it simply goes like this:

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Morning walk on the Detmold countryside

A few rambling thoughts today…

The views from the path I took yesterday leaving O’s work place left me contemplating life and the natural beauty I’m fortunate to experience. This was literally two minutes from the door to his band room. Detmold is a small city in North Rhine -Westphalia, whose history dates back to the late 700’s. And no, I didn’t forget the 1 in front of the 7. If you divided Germany into four parts, Detmold lies just under Bielefeld in the middle of the upper left corner. Standing tall just outside of town is Hermann the German, “a monument commemerating the Cherusci war chief Hermann or Arminius and the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in which the Germanic tribes under Arminius recorded a decisive victory in 9 AD over three Roman legions under Varus.” There’s your history lesson for the day.. month..year.

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Plate to Page 2012 Somerset

Plate to Page Writing and Photograpy Workshop

Meare Court Farm, Somerset UK

 Three days in Somerset with the Plate to Page team and participants, left me brimming with renewed inspiration, knowledge, resources and friendships. The workshop, run by Meeta, Ilva, Jamie & Jeanne provided a wealth of information. To learn from women,who not only continually strive to master their crafts, but have also chosen to teach, share and mentor, was a gift… not to mention a lot of fun!

An idyllic setting, located just outside of Taunton in Somerset, provided an inspiring undertone for writing and photography.  A large stone house accommodated fourteen lovely women and one brave man! Sharing rooms and bathrooms evoked an immediate feeling of community. After one first quiet meal, the ice broke and friendships quickly ensued.

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What motivates us?

What motivates us?

My alarm went off this morning at 7am (very reasonable). Today I sprang out of bed excited about ideas generated last night before closing my eyes. I’ll back up… before turning the light out, I day dreamed (or before sleep dreamed), of clever food blog names, struggling to discover something original. This is no small feat in this overflowing, or one might say saturated, depending on how you look at it, blog age. I held my arm in the air, waited for smart phone to find service and patiently waited for the answer to load each time I checked availability on a domain name. We have our internet on auto shut off 9pm- 7.30am for our ahmmm… teenager. But last night I just couldn’t wait till 7.30am. I came up with sugar and sauerkraut, trying to reflect food and the fact I live in Germany. Please don’t tell me if you think it’s ridiculous because I still like it and it’s available. Well, ok tell me because I haven’t paid 12.99/yr for it yet…and there’s still time to keep me from wasting my $. So as I was saying…I was motivated to jump out of bed today because I was excited about an idea. [SUCCESS/EGO]

                                                       Here from Pyschology Today:

“Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. So figure out what you want, power through the pain period, and start being who you want to be.”
 Sign me up! The who I want to be part… not the lazing around the house                                all day (well maybe some days)
  

The next thing I was motivated to do was take my pooch out despite constant wet rain and umbrella buckling wind. Why? 1) I want him to feel good/relieved 2) I didn’t and don’t ever want to clean up pee and poo. Who does? [NEED BASED]

I then was motivated to go to the gym. Out of sheer desire? Unfortunately not. Because I know it’s good for me? Sort of. Because I’ve gained 10 pounds since moving to Germany and barely fit in my bra or pants? Getting there. (I still love my body and am grateful for my health and mobility…[forced smile]). I could always buy new clothes- but I don’t love shopping for things i cannot eat and society leads me to believe I should be thin… and fit… for my health. [SOCIETY] The biggest reason? Because after trudging through horrible class taught by a woman whose neck would look stunning with my low resistance blue exercise band tightly wrapped around it, especially after she traded her easy resistance blue one for my medium resistance red one IN THE MIDDLE of class, feigning concern and handing me humiliation, “nur noch sechzhen” (only 16 more) she shrieked as I squatted next to my bench shamefully avoiding eye contact. Because after all that, I knew I would experience a sense of accomplishment. And because best of all, afterwards, I knew I would have coffee with a friend who would have shared aforementioned  hour of torture. [SOCIAL]    And let’s face it. Has anyone ever ever thought after working out. “God that was a stupid idea.” No. Period. (Note to self… blog post on german gym class:-)

And today I was motivated to write this post on motivation. [CREATIVITY] Actually, due more to the fact I’ve thought about it a lot lately. We are trying to figure out how to motivate Alice (fake name to protect identity- even though so far only friends and family actually read this and know my daughter’s real name – I’m planning for the future and you might not have known she loves the name Alice). Right… I’m trying to figure out how to motivate Alice to get out of bed in the morning. But frankly it’s damn hard. I can’t say I was particularly motivated in 8th grade to get out of my warm cocoon five mornings a week to knock elbows with other awkward 13yr olds. I decided money wasn’t a particularly healthy option and would get expensive for the next 4 and 1/2 years. Now I work with persuasion and pleading, not always met with success. [UNKNOWN] Feel free to give advice.

Now throw in the motivation to eat when hungry… [PHYSICAL NEED] eat when I want [NO PHYSICAL NEED] eat when I’m sad or bored [ NO PHYSICAL NEED]. And the other bodily functions I won’t go into detail about even though I do crave a good discussion on said matter now and again. I was after all a nutrition major and we love what and how it goes in and what and how it goes out. (yet another future post.)

We’ve covered in one day all but security in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There could very well be a part II to this post. But I can’t commit to that….(will have to see if mood strikes)

Coming soon to your area…..

Iron Maiden

I recently took up a new hobby. Ironing. I thought about bridge but it seemed awfully social. Ironing you say? What’s the point? Are you crazy?…  Really. Try it. It’s like a free meditation class and provides instant gratification. Granted most normal working or sane folk probably can’t be bothered. But if you have the time it provides a sense of satisfaction and order to one’s life. Not to mention my husband loves and appreciates it. Oh stop rolling your eyes.

I set up in our tiled hallway with a cheap board in front of me, wondering if it too should be replaced, now that I have a new, moderately expensive, blue, steam sensor iron by Siemens. Will my new iron be offended passing over this stumpy, girth lacking wafer of a board? Would I be that much more efficient if I spent another 75 euro on a new plank? One always needs the right equipment.  Wrinkled t-shirts, undershirts, dishtowels, sheets and pillowcases, awaiting their creaseless destiny are piled on the short IKEA side table. The one with 4 conspicuous drill holes on top, relegated to the hall, unseen by visitors, punished for being wrongly fastened together. It now has a purpose. I take each piece of clothing, drape it or lay it on the board and together with the hunk of metal, we work magic. Do you know why gap outlet t-shirts are so cheap? You would if you ever ironed one with the seams that don’t match up. Ever tried ironing viscose pretending to be cotton? Can’t be done. It’s like sliding on glue at a 180° (yes that’s a straight line). Don’t run your hot iron over rubber/plastic team numbers or appliques- you can guess why. I’ve also found an excellent way to iron sheets. Email me for more info (I won’t hold my breath). This is also  a gorgeous time to indulge in the new series Once Upon A Time. O’s  music stand turned flat serves as a platform for my laptop. Streaming and steaming. Sweet. And the opportunity presents itself every week.

I didn’t come up with this ironing idea all on my own. It was one morning whilst having coffee with a friend who told me she irons everything except underwear and jeans. Feeling like an underachiever, I thought I’d have a go at it. Besides my mother would be so proud I thought. Not really, she thinks it’s a phase because I’m a newlywed…. Maybe during the first marriage… But now it’s serious business and I will do it forever. Ok. Lastly, it’s probably not burning as many calories as some sports or other housework for that matter, but I’m standing and my hands are full of something besides food for an hour , so that counts for something.

Here’s my new tool.

MCSA034537_TB26130_def.epsWho Can Argue?

Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

Where did November go anyway? I made a good start the first 2 weeks and hit about 20K words and then seriously petered out when I let myself make excuses about the rest of my life taking the front seat. My writing was trailing behind the car at a slow jog. But it’s okay. It’s 20K words more than I’ve ever written on one piece.

I’m taking some time now to evaluate the direction of my story, add and subtract a little and then hit it again. I think it’s important to get this first story out on paper just to 1) know I can , and 2) have something to refer to when I’m reading the how to’s so I can see what I’ve learned so far, and 3) have something to put under the false bottom of my desk drawer.

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