Shades of Ireland

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Update on the Sore Feet

You just never know how things are going to turn out in the end, do you?

When my dear friend brought me these sore footed Jersey cows, I really thought that Bambi was the one in the worst shape. Berthe Belle did not appear to have as much of a problem. I was honestly afraid that I would end up with her and her bad attitude and crazy hang ups.

Bambi has made an almost complete recovery and often trots to the barn at milking time. The only time that I really see her limp is when she tries to walk down the gravel road.

Bertha Belle has not done so well. In fact, she is much worse. I am beginning to think that along with a serious case of foot rot, one of her toes is slightly fractured, too. It has reached the point that she often cannot get up. I am happy if she makes it to the barn every couple of days to be milked. I would completely dry her off but after the incredibly painful effort to make it all the way to the milk barn, I do not have the heart to not let her in for the grain.

They both have really tamed down, slicked off and we have worked out our differences in the milk parlor.
I have made up my mind that I will not call them to the barn anymore. Bambi knows when she should be there and will hang out and wait for me to show up. Poor Bertha waits at the hay and then tries to struggle to the barn when I call. If I am quiet, maybe she will just not make the effort.

I added another element to the mix today as well. Noelle will be calving in the next month or so. She looks dramatically better than when I turned her out to pasture but cold winters are hard on dairy cattle. Competing with my bossy cows for space at the hay ring is a losing battle for her, too. So when I was checking the girls, she followed me back to the "home lot" and I let her in with Bambi, Bertha and the sheep flock. She immediately bullied the younger, sore footed cows into submission. In this paddock, she is the boss!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Took a Little Jaunt....

One of my all time favorite people in the world found herself in Rogers, Arkansas for a wedding yesterday.
Since Adam was feeling better and Salena's car was fresh out of the repair shop, we loaded up and drove down to get in a quick visit.

Don't you just LOVE kindred spirits?? It has been about 4 years since we have met face to face but it really doesn't matter. Other than the initial rush of tears at the pure joy of hugging her again---- we just picked right up where we left off. My Adam did not know her or her family at all. He has often heard stories of the wonderful times our families had together before our move to Kansas which was before he was born. We had such a good visit--- until it began to snow.

After about three hours of visiting and lunch, the weather began to change rapidly. After looking at the weather radar, we decided that if we could get ahead of the storm front we could make it home and we did.

Unfortunately, when we got home, we found a whole house full of sick people. People with "the stomach bug" were draped all over the living room furniture watching the TV. Salena, Seth, and Neil were all very ill for most of the day and into the night.

This morning, they are all perking up and so far, I have escaped this sickness. My new handy, dandy, digital outdoor thermometer  says that it was 11 very frigid degrees this morning. We suited up and got the basic chores done. Weather sites are indicating that we are in for big time snow or ice on Monday...... Hallelujah!!

We will spend the rest of the weekend getting ready. Firewood stacked in the garage, generator tested, hay out to the critters, water systems thawed and set up....... before all of that, I am heading into town to restock the kitchen..... just in case that stomach bug finds me after all!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Brisk Morning

I am being very lazy on this Christmas Eve morning. It is a very brisk 19 degrees out there so I am reluctant to leave my 61 degree house!
The pond out back is frozen around the edges and a small flock of geese arrived sometime in the night. Elsa is just sure that they are alien invaders and barked her head off as soon as it got light enough for her to see them floating on the water. We called her back to the deck and reassured her but she is still sitting, staring intently at the geese with her hackles raised.

I am much better health wise but still feel very strangely. Just not myself and if I do not get back to normal after Christmas, I will probably have to make yet another trip in to see my local doctor. I am not unwell enough to be alarmed but just enough to make me realize that something is just not right.

The kids and Neil have been handling the barn chores for over a week. I did manage to ramble over there a time or two but for the most part, I have been on sick leave. This morning, I am going to wait a bit and let it warm up before I let anybody venture out.

We are only milking the Jerseys in the morning. A little variation in their milking time will not affect them. We weaned two of the bottle calves and took them back to our friend. The other three are still getting a bottle in the morning after milking chores. The goats have full access to hay as do the horses and all the cows. It has been just too much for one person to handle hay rationing while I was sick. Besides, it has been too cold for me to feel comfortable restricting the hay. Everybody looks marvelous.

Still very little precipitation so the drought is still very much in effect. The spring that we were so proud of all during the dry summer has finally stopped running. The weather man has predicted light snow for us on Christmas night. I can not even allow myself to get even a little bit excited about that prospect because we have already been disappointed so many times.

Yesterday, Sis and I worked on baking and getting gift baskets made for friends, coworkers and neighbors. We have pretty much had a homemade Christmas this year. We packed up soaps, lotion, cookies, jelly, jam, candies, and bread, Today we will get busy delivering them.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and hoping that we all have a very wet New Year!!!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spoke Too Soon...

Ok..... I do not know what kind of evil illness I have but something is seriously wrong. I was thinking that I was coming out of this and finally going to kick it.
Neil came home at lunch today and I ventured out with him to do some Christmas shopping. It wasn't long before he asked me what was wrong...... I just faded away. I was not sure that I was going to make it back to the truck. I have another low grade fever and feel very yucky.

I cannot bear to spend any more time resting and trying to get well!!!!! Guess I will  have to break down and call my doctor in the morning....... He is getting used to seeing me on a regular basis.


After 14 days of a terrible cold and cough, I think that I just MIGHT be getting over it. There were a couple of days there that I just had to turn it all over to Seth and go back to bed.

I hate to get my hopes up but..... there is a very good chance that we might get some much needed rain or even snow this afternoon. If the snow does make it, we do not expect to get more than an inch but moisture is moisture and I will not complain at all.

We have begun putting out hay for the livestock. That immediately puts us on a countdown clock until spring green up. Will we make it or not?? I can already tell that I do not have enough small square bales for the goats and penned critters. Going to have to do some creative thinking there...... I am pretty sure that I can buy another pick up truck load or two from my hay guy but the later in the season that you buy it, the more expensive it gets.

The good news is that what little rain we have gotten was enough to get the strip of wheat to sprout. We have no intentions of harvesting it and plan to graze it all off. That should give us a little more time before we get desperate for livestock feed.

I was marveling at how fat the sheep, Katherine and Elizabeth, are and Neil reminded me that in less than six weeks, we will have lambs!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recycling Farm Style

I am just getting wimpier and wimpier as I get older! I have a had a terrible cold that just WILL NOT go away. I have had it so long that I have lost all track of time. About the time that I think that I am getting over it, I relapse and it knocks me flat again!

Needless to say, I have not been very productive for the last week or so and it has not improved my holiday spirit one little bit. I managed to do a little shopping but honestly, I have no idea just who has what coming. I planned to make gift baskets for friends and neighbors with baked goodies, soap and lotion but..... That has not happened as of yet.

I should not have done it but--- I did---- We went to an auction yesterday. Managed to spend a reasonable amount of money on some nice additions to our farm. A hay rake and and large flat bed trailer. Seth thinks that we can pay for the trailer by using it to haul off just a couple of loads of the scrap metal that he has been gathering up on this farm.

Seth comes from a long line of scavengers on my side of the family. He is much better at sorting off the useless stuff and getting rid of it than I am. I just want to keep it all..... he is loading up the true junk and hauling it off. I am very impressed with his recycling ability. He found a small trailer frame with flat tires off in a pile of stuff in the woods. He scrounged enough scrap lumber to put a floor and side rails on it. Then he went looking for cast off tires..... just on a whim, he aired up the flat ones already on it. He put some tire goo in them, hitched it to the 4-wheeler and away we went!  We have been using that thing to haul off the trees from the pasture cleaning. I do not know how we have managed to run this farm with out it! The tires have held with just an occasional air up for about 3 months.

Our cattle working pens are entirely possible because of Seth's frugal scavenging. There were lots of panels and pipes laying around when we bought this place. Many of them were bent, warped and actually not meant for livestock use. He has just kept working at it and re-adjusting and building until he has gotten a decent set of working pens set up. Luckily for us, our cattle are not hard to work and relatively tame. We are as gentle as we can be when we get them up so they are not really hard on the working set up. Still, it is pretty impressive what a determined teenage boy who doesn't know how to weld can get accomplished.

He is not saying it but..... he working very hard to get things set up so that while he is gone off for school, it won't be such hard work for me and Adam while Dad is off farm slaying dragons. What a guy.......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cold and Very Late

And I guess that I should add that I don't even care! The temp this morning is 18 degrees and feels like 10. Somehow, I did not get my work clothes swapped over from the washing machine to the dryer last night so I don't have anything to wear this morning. While I was waiting for the dryer, I cooked breakfast, chatted with a friend on facebook and let the boys sleep late.

Yes--- we are very late doing the barn chores. They will all be just fine..... I hope. Yesterday, I was sick. I got everything done in the morning and posted on this blog. Then, I fell apart. This cold hit me like a ton of bricks and I was down for the rest of the day and night. The rest of the clan has been suffering with it for almost three weeks, just passing it around. I decided that I was not going to push myself so that it lingered for DAYS. So, I took massive doses of Vitamin C, some cold medicine, turned up the heat and went to bed. I do not know what happened in this house or on this farm while I was out but they all seem to be alive and kicking today.
The good news is that I feel much better and only have a slight cold now.

The boys are up and fed and all of us are looking out at the frozen pond and dreading heading out--- but we must! The cows still need milking and everybody else needs feed, hay and water.

So.... I guess that I can't put it off any longer......<sigh>

Monday, December 10, 2012

Finally --- Big Chill

We have had a few cold snaps this winter that have lasted a day or two. It has been pretty darn nice having this almost balmy weather in December. Looks like that is all over with now!

The weather man warned us that an Arctic chill was coming and he was right. This morning, the temp is 16 degrees. He also called for a few snow flurries after midnight but I didn't stay up to see. I would have much preferred a heavy snowfall to at least give us some moisture......... we still are in a severe drought.
The national cow herd numbers are continuing to drop dramatically. There are fewest number of cows in the US since the early 1940"s. We are hanging on to ours just as hard as we can........ I am happy to say that my cattle still look to be in good shape. As I drive around some of the back county roads, I see herds that are getting thin. I thought it might just be our area but Salena tells me that on her drive up from Oklahoma she saw lots of herds that were beginning to show the affects of short grass and poor water.

The rotational grazing experiment is over and we count it a total success. Our stocking rate for our pasture is very light. That means that we could have more cattle grazing to make our farm more productive but...... we have been hesitant to do that because of the drought conditions and we have needed the money from calf sales. Now that we have seen the possibilities, in spite of the drought, we will begin keeping more heifer calves--- if we have any! The last six calves born on this farm were bulls!

It worked out that the grazing scheme ended just as the cold weather was heading our way. The cows burst out the gate in the last paddock and headed out to graze on the easy stuff. I really wanted them to have completely full bellies to help keep them warm.

The horses have been loose in the big pasture while the cows were shut up. They had a marvelous time roaming far and wide. They had to go back into their small pasture with a bale of hay. We do not give our horses grain. They are grazing creatures and every single one of ours is absolutely "mud ball fat". I also limit their access to the hay bale. They tend to just waste so much of it playing in it if they have full time access. So, they are allowed in with the hay bale late in the afternoon and left with it all night. Part of our morning routine is to run them out and shut the gate. I do give them a little treat when it is going to be very cold. There is a pelleted feed designed for horses that are kept in stalls. It is a complete feed that says that you do not even have to feed hay with it..... so it is very high in roughage---- a very good thing for horses. I try to keep a couple of bags of it on hand for the nights that it gets bitterly cold. I believe that 16 degrees with a brisk north wind qualifies as bitter........ so the nags get about 3/4 lbs each just before dark. It makes them thirsty so they all take a big drink from the tank before it freezes over.

So our late afternoon routine yesterday was pretty busy. Besides turning out the cows and handling the horses, we had to give all the bottle calves, penned bucks, and the goat herd extra hay inside their shelters. The chicken waterers had to be taken into the barn kitchen to keep them from freezing solid. We have to find a couple of tank floats to keep the water for the goats and milk cows from freezing over. After milking and cleanup, we had to shut off the water to the barn and drain all of the lines and make sure the heat lamp was on over the incoming pipes. 

This morning, we will have to take the ax and chop ice in the horse water tank. The pond is not frozen because the wind kept it moving all night so the cows are good.

The biggest problem I have with cold weather is all the clothes! By the time I get the wool socks on, jeans and maybe long johns, topped with coveralls, a hoodie and my heavy coat and gloves, I step out the back door and realize that I need to pee..........

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chef Lumber Jack Nurse

That is my title these days. I have been cooking nearly everyday ( and the kitchen shows it... ), helping Seth with the small tree clearing in the finished grazing paddocks and taking care of sick or injured people.

Neil has had a terrible cold and Adam fell out of a tree and severely sprained his ankle.

Salena says that she will be heading home after her late class tonight. We are under no illusions that she is rushing home because she misses us terribly! It is still hunting season and the last weekend of gun season until January. She is the only one in the family that has the hunting fever this year.

This morning, I made two batches of basic baking mix and another two batches of the bread machine mix.
Adam was in alot of pain so Seth let me stay at the house while he did all of the chores. I made a double batch of muffins for breakfast in hopes of having a few left over for this weekend. I must have been dreaming. The only thing left is the empty pans.......

The barn kitchen is still waiting for me and still in a huge mess. I do not know when I am going to get back on that project but I am well aware that time is running out. Noelle will calve in Jan/Feb and the goats start kidding in February. I had hoped to have all of that organized and set up in more "professional" system. If I don't get the lead out, it will just continue to be the same old depressing mess. Emphasis on "MESS"......

I am thinking that I am just going to have to commit myself (and the rest of the clan) to pulling out all the stops and making this THE PRIORITY for the last week of December and the first of January.

The rotational grazing trial will be over on Sunday morning. So far, the cows have only moved themselves one time. It looks like deer ran through the fence sometime in the night and the cows just walked to the next pen as soon as it was daylight. They were scheduled to anyway but I would have preferred for them not to handle it on their own.  

That end of the farm looks wonderful. We have cut down and piled up enough cedar and hedge trees to make a huge pile. The plan is to begin burning the piles as soon as we get enough rain or snow to reduce the fire danger---- or wait until spring green up---- which ever comes first. There are about a dozen large piles of tree debris scattered all over this farm. They were here when we bought the place but it has been a low priority to get them burned. The kids have had a few bonfires and invited their friends over to enjoy the party but there are still many more eyesores. I have decided that 2013 is the year to get all that cleaned up.

One pile is so large that I am afraid it would show up on a space satellite if we set a match to it. It is an absolute rabbit warren. The coyotes as well as our dogs hunt it every day-- and night. I am going to have to think long and hard about setting it ablaze. I have gotten so used to it that I don't even notice it anymore. It is a farm fixture--- kind of like the barn and actually bigger than the barn!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Plotting and Planning

Most people I know are planning for Christmas. I am just not in the "spirit".  Usually by this time, I am nearly done with all the shopping and related hoopla...... but not this year. Deep down inside, I am being very passive aggressive and just pretending that none of the holiday stuff is happening. I have just sort of totally skipped over all that and moved on to the planning and goal setting stuff that we normally do in January.

The craft fair this last weekend was very nice and very festive but...... even though we sold a bunch of soap and lotion, all I bought was a cute new apron----- for ME! LOL!!

On top of all that, it is deer season. Open day of rifle season came and went and I really didn't notice too much. I have went out a few times with Adam but I took a book to read. YAWN..... he is still a very beginning hunter so after about an hour, he is ready to head in to the house and that is just fine with me.

I guess that I need to snap out of this funk or I am going to lose my "Mother-of-the-Year" status....

What I have been doing is scouring the Internet for the best prices on fruit trees, strawberry plants, blueberry bushes and asparagus crowns..... Praying for rain and watching the horizon. I can't bear to listen to a weather report or check the weather sites on line because it is just too depressing. Hearing those chirpy forecasters gush about warm, sunny weather makes me grit my teeth.

We moved the cows into the fourth of seven paddocks this morning. Everybody just moved right over with out any fuss or drama. I went in to town to do some banking and bill paying this morning and came home with a new chainsaw...... how many women can cross that off of their to-do list??

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Craft Fair

Yep--- December 1st and I am off to a Christmas craft fair this morning. My friend and I have done this for several years now.  We sell our goat milk soap and lotion. Two weeks ago, we did the Elk Falls Craft Fair. These are our only two official marketing places.

I can hear the wind blowing outside and I amhoping for at least a little rain today. Neil is off from work this weekend. He and the boys will have to handle moving the cows this morning.

We need to sell lots of stuff this morning! Wish me luck!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Still There!!

I know that I should really have a little more faith in the electric fence but..... I have spent over 25 years trying to keep goats fenced in--- or out! If you don't know what I am talking about, count yourself lucky. Goats are the hardest creatures on God's green earth to keep contained. They are genetically programed to find a way OUT!!

That unreasonable fear has leached over in to all my other livestock raising. When we build a fence or put up a divider, we automatically tend towards over kill. With cattle, I have a double fear..... they are darn big creatures. Black cows that have escaped at night are just an accident waiting to happen. I worry about killing somebody in a car with my wayward cows......

Horses are a bit more timid---- especially if they have experienced an electric fence.

When we arrived at the back pasture early this morning, the horses were hanging out with the girls.

Luckily, the cows are on one side and the nags on the other or we might have a repeat of the calf killing from earlier this year. Everybody was still where they were supposed to be.

We rolled up there with all of our fencing supplies as well as the mineral feeder.

Seth was running more electric fence and I had pasture clean up.

 Since they are in the second paddock, we are working on clearing out the first one. We are plagued in this part of the country by "hedge" trees. Also known as Osage Oranges. These things are covered with thorns and will take over a pasture in a hurry. We are already behind in keeping them cleared out. The cattle do not like to graze very close to the little trees because of the thorns. On top of that, it is very difficult to mow with out damaging the equipment. Eventually, they will fill up a pasture and severely reduce the grazing area.

I wore myself out nipping off the trees that are too small for the chain saw. I feel as if I have thwarted and entire forest. The worst part about these things-- other than the wicked thorns-- is that they are very persistent. If we just cut them down or mow them off, they will just sprout right back up. Instead of just one tree trunk, they will send up several shoots making a thick shrub and covering up even more pasture.

So each and every one that we cut down has to be sprayed. This is a very strong chemical and as expensive as liquid gold, so we try to be very careful to only get it on the stump and not the grass around it. At the moment, I am so tired that can't remember the name of it......

When I decided that I had had enough for one morning, I trudged back over to the water trough to rest. My plan was to sit on the edge and catch my breath before heading down to see how Seth was coming on fencing the next paddocks. We will be back in a few days with the chain saw to get the bigger trees.

My cows had other plans. As soon as I sat down, they all began to come over to visit with me.

This 904. She is raising her second calf for us and doing a spectacular job. We are very proud of her because she is a "home raised cow". I love how his face is all wet from nursing.

                                          This is our hamburger supply for late next year........

Mouse was being social this morning.

And, of course, Cornbread had to come see what I was doing at the trough......just in case she missed something. Her mother was named, "Buttermilk" and if she has a heifer, Adam would like to name her "Chili".
Before long, I had six full grown cows and two calves all cautiously circled around me and a few braver ones bumping up against me. The rest were a little further away balefully trying to glare me into letting them back out in to the whole property.

As I sat there in warm sunshine, admiring our girls, I thought about how much I would be missing if I had to go off farm to work.

I hate to bring it up again but...... we are desperate for rain again. Actually, we have never stopped being in dire straights this entire year. I just tried to stop whining about it on here. Forecast is for drizzle tonight.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grazing-- Day 2

This morning, I am dragging a bit so Seth made it over to the barn ahead of me and got the girls milked.
I got over there just in time to load up and drive out to see how the new grazing system was working.

I was very happy to find this! All the girls and calves still in the small paddock. The water trough was empty and they were all waiting patiently for us to come fill it. We decided to swap out tanks and use a slightly bigger one that was also a bit more shallow. That would give them a few more sips of water and might allow the taller calves to get a drink. We have it set up on a set of hay moving forks so we can move it with the tractor if there is still some water in it. That makes it a bit taller than we expected.

So while Seth was moving the fence charger and the trough, the dogs and I headed back to the barn to get water.

That sounds a lot easier than it really is. I have to load up the tank into the back of the truck and fill it up.

This morning, I just had to pause and reflect on this chore just a bit. I am realizing more and more each day that I am getting old. There was a time when I just would have put this tank in the back of the truck with out a second thought. Now days...... it takes a bit of shifting, maneuvering, balancing and just plain old hefting to get the job done. It doesn't drain well so there is always a couple of inches of water in the bottom that gives me trouble.

I managed to get it done and only dropped it once. As much as it pains me, we are having to use rural water. I can just hear the meter whirling around...... the plan is to get the pump and generator going and eventually use pond or spring water. Unfortunately, until we get a good rain, all we can reach right now is mud.

While the tank was filling, I rushed around and got a few other chores done.

I heated up the calf bottles in the new sink before I left for the first cow check so they were ready to feed now. Adam was at the house doing some major baking so I agreed to do his chores for him.
Fed the chickens, goats and watered the horses. By that time, the tank was approaching full and Seth was coming back to the barn with the tractor. He told me the cows moved right through the gate into the next paddock following the tractor and water tank.

All that was left to do was to fill up the water tank...... easy peasy.... right?

I had been feeling a bit peculiar for a couple of days. This morning, it was worse. Not sick, just a bit light headed, etc. Charlie appeared at about the time we were finishing up and I told him I felt strange. He told me I was looking flushed and touched my forehead....... I have a fever!!!

I am going to be spending a bit of time inside today..... maybe even in bed!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Goal Done!

We have so many things we want to get done on this farm. Unfortunately, there is never enough time or money to get many of them accomplished.

Little by little, we make painful progress.

This week----- we made big strides! One of our goals is to begin rotational grazing to reduce our hay input and improve our pastures. On top of that, we can increase our stocking rate and maybe----- just maybe--- we might make a little money.

To do that, we need fence...... Lots of fence. Seth has been a real trooper. He got a barb wire fence strung up across the entire south end of our pasture. Now, we are using hot wire to run temporary grazing strips in that big paddock.

Late yesterday afternoon, we hitched up the hot wire to the first grazing lot, called up the cows and shut the gate behind them. We put a water trough in there and hoped for the best.

This morning, we filled up the portable water tank in the back of the truck and headed out to refill the trough. Guess what????? They are still in there!!!! One big calf slipped under the hot wire in to the next strip while we were there but he got buzzed pretty good. The plan is to move them over to new lot tomorrow.

If all goes well, this will get us at least 14 days grazing before we start putting out hay. This doesn't sound like very much but it will make a world of difference. Round bales of hay are running around $45-$65 each.

Just before I put the cows in the lot, I spread rye grass seed over most of that area. The idea is that they will walk over it and basically plant the seed for me. If we ever get any rain again, we will have more grazing available very early in the spring/late winter. Again, saving us hay.

The big goal is to get the entire pasture divided up to rotational grazing. That will take us a while...... but we have at least STARTED!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chicken Plucking......

On Saturday, we butchered chickens. This was a meat bird experiment. Normally, we raise those gargantuan Cornish cross birds. They have all kinds of issues and over the years, they seem to be getting worse. This batch was some kind of meat bird cross that was light red and slower growing.

It worked out pretty well but they were noticeably smaller. Who knows what we will do next year.....

Anyway, this was the first time that I really got an idea of how well this new barn kitchen idea was going to work out. We are not any where near done or really even started. Having the big sink and the stainless steel table made things go so much smoother.

We just shuffled the junk around and swept the floor. We were able to butcher the birds outside and then move them into the barn to finish up the job. The wind was pretty brisk so it was very nice not to get so cold.

Sis was home for the holiday so she got to be part of the assembly line. Everybody had a job. Seth was the outside man. He did the actual butchering. Neil brought them in and he and Adam took turns with the dipping and using the plucker. Salena and I did the rest.

We have had this plucker for more than 15 years. Several people have borrowed it over the years. Some returned it promptly.... others I had to go get it. This old thing has probably processed thousands of birds. We bought the fiberglass dipping vat at the same time and it has endured years of neglect and still heats up water nearly as well as it ever did. I was looking through a catalog recently and was shocked at just how expensive this equipment is these days.

All in all, the whole process only took us about two hours from start to finish. About thirty minutes of that was just getting everything organized the way we wanted it. We had filled up the dipping vat and plugged it in at morning chores. By lunch, the water was hot enough at 150 degrees. We had gotten our other projects done and we were ready to start. 

At a little after 2:00pm, we had 19 birds cooling in the refrigerator, ready to go into the freezer later, and two stewing in the pot.

Fewer chores to do now, too. Generally speaking, we try to simplify things during the coldest part of winter since we will be hauling hay to the cows and breaking ice for them, too. These two milk cows are kind of putting a kink in that plan......


I put it off as long as I can but the time has come. I have been milking the sore footed Jersey girls with my goat claw. For those of you new to the world of dairy, that means that I have only been milking two quarters at a time. That means that the actual milking chores take twice as long as they should and the girls get to stand in the stanchion and eat longer.
In the beginning, that was a fine arrangement for all of us. I had plenty of help, it wasn't very cold and they certainly needed the extra grain. All of that is changing now. It is definitely colder. Seth really needs to concentrate on finishing up that last of his school work and review since he is getting ready for college. We need to reduce his chore load. Finally--- the girls are looking much better--- still sore footed--- but they have begun to get pretty sassy attitudes since they are eating all that high energy grain.

Last night, I rigged up the cow claw and got it all cleaned up. The only problem is ME! Cow claws are bulky and you have to be somewhat coordinated to get it all to work. I have never been very good at getting all four of them on there with out losing the vacuum and having to start over.

I am really dreading going over there this morning!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Beauty.....

This creature has been quite a surprise for me. I don't care very much for German Shepherds..... or so I thought. This girl...... well, she has stolen her way into my heart and I do not even want to think about this farm with out her. Seth wanted one for years and I strongly resisted because we already had more dogs than we needed and Shepherds are...... a lot of trouble, high maintenance, aggressive, high strung, energetic, blah, blah, blah........ Anyway, you all know that even though I am known as the toughest-Mama-on-the-planet, I really love my kids and eventually I caved in and let him buy this puppy.

From the very first, she has been very different from my expectations. Her prey drive is very strong and the cats on this farm have learned to gauge her moods. She has more stock working instinct that the cow dogs.
She is monstrously big and stunningly beautiful but....... what has stolen my heart is her utter devotion to this family.

She is strong and quiet---until the coyotes get too close. She lives to please us and is surprisingly obedient as well as strong minded. A stern word breaks her heart and brings her back in line but she will still try to sweetly convince you that you should allow her to do what ever she is being reprimanded for.

The instant I open a door on this house, she is on the alert and headed my way. Every morning, she and the other dogs gallop around me as we head to the barn. If Seth makes it out before me, she might go with him but I can almost guarantee that she will come back for me.

I do not know if this sweet soul would be aggressive to protect us but...... for now--- she at least looks very impressive. She is still a young dog--- just over a year old.
Yesterday afternoon, we had company. They were out in the pasture hunting coyotes. As they made all those eerie calls, Elsa stalked around the barn as I did chores with her hackles raised and growling deep....... She stayed as close as she could to me. She was afraid but determined to stay with me---just in case. She was torn between recognizing the danger of a coyote pack and her loyalty and love for me. The fierce part of her young heart won.

Elsa has not been feeling well for the last few days. It wasn't until I took this picture that I noticed her hind foot. The raised one is swollen and oddly shaped. Somehow she has torn off her dewclaw. Probably from racing across the pasture after rabbits. I did manage to convince her to eat half of a can of dog food laced with antibiotics.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I will begin posting again!

I have been busy....... still milking both Jerseys, just finished a craft fair, got company coming for Thanksgiving, planning and working on the kitchen/barn.

Just more of this crazy farm life.....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Aggravating Hussy!

Bertha Belle is making me crazy. I don't know if it is just my "big cow" prejudice or if she really does have an irritating personality. I can't find the darn camera (again!) so I can't show you how much better both girls are looking.
Bambi is still my favorite and milking very well. In fact, milk production for both of them is on the rise. I wish that I knew when they had freshened.......

Anyway, Bertha Belle is not healing in the foot department. Bambi is getting around with just a slight limp. Bertha Belle is still having serious problems with her left hind foot. In fact, I am tinking that she has regressed.

She is making me crazy because she is absolutely the nastiest cow on the planet. I have never seen anything like this. They are roaming on several grassy acres but this cow will come back and deliberately lay down in her own poop! She is filthy and stinks to high heaven. Her udder is ALWAYS covered in manure. At every milking, I have to haul buckets of soapy, warm water and rags out in to the barn for a big wash up job. This is not a good thing to do..... especially at every milking as it leads to a chapped, sore udder. Modern dairies have a cow version of disposable sanitary wipes that we use for a quick pre-milking clean up. Not with Bertha Belle! Those handy, dandy wipes are no match for this manure coated udder.
It is not a case of accidently getting in a big mess. This cow has some kind of mental issue and actually prefers to be smeared in her feces....... All over---not just her udder. I am going to give her a while to get over it but there is only so much I can tolerate.

Tonight, Seth and I decided to get aggressive with treating her sore foot. We took turns wrestling it up and hanging on during the mad kicking to get it all cleaned out. For a woman with a phobia about getting kicked by a cow, I was really impressed with myself. After we were reasonably sure we had gotten the 5 lbs of manure off her foot and out from between her toes, we then took turns squirting antiseptic and other meds in every crack and crevice we could see in a hoof on the fly...... I bet she is not real anxious to come in to be milked in the morning!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Very Close To Home!

I do not know how to post this thing correctly but I am hoping that I got the link right.
I think that I have heard this young man sing at rodeos....... and I love this video because I have been to most of these places..... in fact many of them are in this general area.
Please take special notice of the scene from Fredonia, Ks. That is the county seat for us and I see that beautiful flag every time I drive to town....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Faces

Since we are milking again, Adam has taken on a little more work. These are just two of the four dairy cross bull calves he is bottle feeding. Sweet faces.......

At first, I called this girl, Belle. Since we have been milking and handling her for a week now, her name has changed....... she is definitely a "Bertha".

This sweetie pie is still "Bambi". She is smaller in size and much milder in temperament.

I still have a hard time believing that I have sheep AND Jersey cows.......

The cows still have very sore feet. I am still afraid that poor Bambi is not going to heal up. They are gaining a bit of weight-- which is good and bad. Good because they look and milk better but bad because it is harder for their sore feet to carry the added weight. Each day, they wander out a little farther grazing. Last night, they went too far and were unable to get themselves back to the barn for milking. Since they are not anywhere near full production, it wasn't a problem and it did not hurt them to skip a milking. I felt that it would be cruel to force them back to the barn so I let them lay out in the tall grass. This morning, they limped back over and were happy to come in. 

Tonight, they were still a good distance from the barn but managed to make it back on their own in time to be milked. Afterwards, I filled the feed bunk with alfalfa hay and they ate with gusto. They may not be much better physically but their attitudes and appetites are much improved!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Chicken Cheese"

The milk barn is busy! I had not planned on milking more than the two late goats this fall. Honestly, I was considering starting to dry those two off after they were bred. That happened last week. Since the Jerseys have arrived, we are back to milking twice a day.

That is not a bad thing--- I am just not prepared for it! I have torn down, re-arranged and cluttered up the barn kitchen while remodeling things. I was planning on getting major stuff done to prepare for spring milking. Now, I barely have room to set the milk buckets. I really don't have a way to handle all this sudden influx of milk. It ends up being about six extra gallons of cow milk a day plus a gallon or so of goat milk.

So..... to help get rid of the extra milk with out pouring it out, I have been making "chicken cheese" at least once a day--- usually in the morning. While we are doing chores and milking, I put the milk left from the night before in a huge pot on the stove and let it be heating up. I keep a check on it and stir occasionally on my way by...... When it gets really hot ( too hot to touch), I pour in a dollop of vinegar, stir it and set it off the burner. By the time I finish up chores, it has seperated in to curds and whey. I dip off as much whey as I can and I give the laying hens the big lump of warm curds left in the pot. They LOVE a hot breakfast!

I then take the warm whey out and put it in the meat birds waterer. The barn cats get some, too. All of them are just glossy with good health! I am thinking that we will be butchering the meat birds in about two weeks.

I am hoping that I won't be making quick cheese very much longer. We still have one calf on the bottle and this afternoon, Adam bought two more bottle calves and also took in two more to raise as a job. So, we now have 5 calves on the bottle which will amount to about 5 gallons of milk a day.

I still will have a gallon or so to use for "house milk". That is quite a process in itself. Since these milk cows came from a commercial dairy, there is absolutely no way that I will use their milk raw until after their blood tests come back from the vet. Since they are so sore footed, it would be cruel to haul them the 15 miles to the vet's office and I am too stingy to pay the expensive farm call bill, I am double filtering and pasteurizing the house milk.

Nothing is ever easy around here....... LOL!    

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Friends Are Good To Me......

I haven't said very much about losing my beloved Holly. It has been a tough summer and I frankly just didn't want to dwell on her death....... my menopausal heart can only take so much hurt.

Recently, I was tidying up in the barn kitchen and found the Grand Champion ribbon that she won at the fair this summer. This may sound a little morbid but I plan to hang her skull up in the barn. I figured that I should hang her ribbon with her.

I have missed having her come to the gate and bellow for treats. I regret not taking more pictures...... Holly was old and her death is not a total shock but I very much grieve for the loss of the heifer calf that she was carrying.

I consoled myself with the thought that I still have Noelle...... ornery beast that she is. I decided that I would just push aside my "big cow prejudice" and go ahead and milk Salena's shorthorn cow, Wilma, next year, too.

I had talked about buying a young heifer still on the bottle to raise for a replacement but..... just didn't seem to do much more than talk about it.  

I have very good friends...... people who understand that my girls-- both bovine and caprine---- are not just livestock. They are not pets like the dogs are but something else...... something that I just can't quite describe at this point.

Last night when I got home from my trip to St. Louis, one of my friends called me and told me that he was bringing something to me. He also told me that I needed to open the gates over at the barn.... He unloaded two first freshening Jersey cows that needed lots of TLC.

I am not going to post pictures of them. I have taken some just to use to remember how this project started.

They both injured their feet and are not able to get around very well. Living on concrete at the dairy just did not allow them to heal and they are very thin. My friend was visiting the dairy and saw them...... he said that he knew just where they needed to go.....They needed me and I needed them. He is going to maintain ownership and we are going to split the milk. He told me to breed them and get my heifer and stop just talking about it.

The poor things are sooo incredibly sweet. Seth and I milked them this morning with very little effort. This evening, they limped into the barn on their own. They spent the day easing around my barn lots grazing for all they were worth and already look much better.

I have named them "Belle" and "Bambi".

Just thinking about this kindness makes my so full that my eyes overflow....... 

Baetje Farms

At 4:00am on Monday morning, I was sitting in my truck at my neighbor's sheep dairy. It was dark, the wind was blowing and I could barely make out the outline of the guard dogs making their patrol around the barnyard. I was waiting for Veronica Baetje ( pronounced Bay-gee) to come wheeling in with her big refrigerated van/truck to pick up her monthly supply of sheep milk ----- and me, too!  It didn't take long for things to start stirring at the dairy as the hired hand flipped on the lights and started moving around. Soon, the farm owner, my friend Chester drove up, too. He handed me his camera and told me to take lots of pictures. Before long, Veronica arrived and they loaded up two pallets worth of frozen sheep milk in to the truck. By a little after 5;00am, we were on the road and heading for Bloomsdale, Mo! It took just a little over 7 hours for us to get there. What a wonderful time we had visiting and catching up!

I met Veronica several years ago at an American Dairy Goat Convention in Kansas City. It was the one and only convention that I have ever attended. At that time, starting an artisan cheese making operation was still in the planning stages. She and her husband, Steve, have worked grueling hours and make tremendous sacrifices to accomplish this. It is still a small business but I count it a resounding success. Her world class, award winning cheeses are.........beyond description!!

This is where she took me:

The original part of this beautiful barn was built from a Sears barn kit. The additions on the right were built since the Baetjes bought the property. The additions look as if they are part of the original design.

                                       See those big open doors??? This is what is in there:

They milk somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 Saanen does.

Now, I want all of my goat lady friends to join me in drooling with envy over this spotless milking parlor. .

How about a quick look at the bulk tank room?

At this point, I had had about all that I could take in. We unloaded the frozen milk into their freezers and Veronica and I gave the truck a quick wash out. After that, we both had to have a long nap.

Much later, I got a chance to visit and get to know Steve while I followed him around doing the chores. After a supper, Neil finally arrived to pick me up. Unfortunately, he ended up taking the scenic route-- very scenic--- in the dark---- to get there. It only took us about an hour to drive to our hotel in St. Louis. 

Next morning, after breakfast, I hopped back in the truck to drive to Baetje Farms and Neil stayed for his conference. I managed to get through early morning rush hour traffic in St. Louis without an incident or a nervous break down.  My goal was to get there in time to help set up for the bus tour that was supposed to arrive at 9:00am. I was early enough and they were a bit late.

It was cool and rainy but the three bus loads of ladies still had a good time sampling cheeses and taking a look around. It was an action packed hour and half and sales were brisk. Since I have never met a stranger and enjoy conversation--- I had a ball!

After all that fun, it was time to go to work. I finally got to get into the cheese plant.

                                      Not even Angelina Jolie would look good in a hair net!!!

I am not even going to try to explain how all of this works but I will show you some of the pictures.

            I got to help put the curds into these molds to drain. This variety is known as Bloomsdale. 

                    This is what it looks like when it is aging. The dark stuff is Pine ash...... from France.

They make several varieties of aged cheeses. Veronica has to move them everyday on the cheese mats to help them keep their distinctive shapes. Some of the other varieties have to be "washed" everyday with a salt water brine.

Then there are the fresh cheeses.... Chevre in different flavors.

This is what I brought home--- chives!!

I had a wonderful visit. I learned a tremendous amount. I have no intention of ever working as hard as Steve and Veronica but I definitely came home with lots of ideas and plans for our farm.

I had to make my way back to St. Louis before the evening rush hour to go out to dinner with the folks at the conference. After dinner, I sparingly shared my cheeses with them. We had our own little tasting party in the lobby of the Double Tree Hilton.

My hat is off to these wonderful people who have dared to make their dream come true!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Out Of Pocket..... Again!

I love that phrase. I had a friend in Georgia who used this phrase when ever she was not going to be at home or busy somewhere on a project.

This is where I am going tomorrow:

Veronica and I met at an ADGA convention several years ago and really hit it off. We sort of lost contact with each other over the years. Recently, I realized that the "lady from St. Louis" that was coming down to buy sheep milk from my neighbor to make fancy cheese was Veronica!!

 Neil is going up that way to a conference for the next few days. It is a nice opportunity for us to get away as a couple for a few days. While he is at the conference, I am going to see Veronica's farm and cheese plant.
As it turns out, she is coming down to pick up milk in the morning..... very early in the morning. I am going to ride home with her so we can visit during the ride and Neil will pick me up later in the evening on his way through.

I am leaving at about 4:00 am. I am hoping that Adam will survive a few days with his older brothers.......

Friday, October 19, 2012

Handy Fellow To Know......

My Seth has been working off farm quite a bit lately but today he stayed home. He had things that he wanted to get done.
Adam and I ran into town to the laundry mat to use their commercial machines for our big comforters, blankets and sleeping bags. When we got back, this is what I found:

When we moved in, we found a huge stack on kiln blocks in the garden shed. The previous owner had planned on building a fire ring south of the house on the rocks. We agreed that this was a wonderful idea..... but somehow, nearly 2 1/2 years have passed and we still hadn't gotten it done. For some reason, Seth decided that today was the day!

He carefully measured and calculated while he set the blocks. It looked beautiful but.......

when he got to the end, there was a slight problem..... I was still very impressed. Considering that he was using only a tape measure and calculating in his head, it was pretty darn close.

A little reshuffling all the way around and it came out just right.


All ready for hot dogs this weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Bit Here, A Bit There........

I have not been doing much exciting around here for the last few days but I am getting things done. I think that I prefer this slow, steady, unremarkable progress over the break neck pace that I had all summer.

I am still cleaning on the auction items. I can't adequately tell you just how very dirty these things were. I forgot to mention that I also bought an upright freezer at the bar auction. I needed another one because at least one of the freezers in the garage is going to quit soon...... the door doesn't catch as it should and the alarm often goes off. I figure that it is just a matter of time before we have a mess. So, I really had a good excuse to bid on it but I must admit that after reading the sign stuck on the front, I knew that I just had to have it.....
It said, " $50 Fine For Fighting! The Manager". I figured that it would just fit right in around here......

Many years ago, I bought a kitchen island to use at our old farm. The kids were much younger and thought that it was really cool that it was called an "island". As a joke, we named it "Madagascar". This was long before the movie came out. Since the big move, Madagascar has been over in the barn kitchen with a tablecloth spread over it. I stored a few items in it and used the top as a counter while making soap. As hard as I have tried, I just can't seem to get this lovely kitchen in the house to work....... I have re-arranged things, sorted, culled stuff, hung up a pot rack and even built those storage/pantry cabinets. It still just doesn't WORK. This kitchen is designed to heat up frozen dinners and make popcorn in the microwave. It just doesn't flow well for a serious cook. So, I decided to import Madagascar. I had to modify it a bit and remove the drop leaf but after much scrubbing, Neil hauled the island to the house.

It is like having an old friend back. It had been so long that we had to explain to Adam about the name.....
Just having a handy place to put the cutting board and the cookie sheets has been worth the effort.

Over at the barn, I am slowly cleaning up the garden shed/bachelor pad and moving the soap shop in there. Hoping to get the big new sink in the kitchen this weekend but it will take a major cleaning to get the space cleaned out enough. I have a portable dishwasher stored over there (also from the old place) that I may try to fit in there to clean up all the milk processing stuff. (You all know how I feel about washing dishes....) Still trying to plan just where the new refridgerater/cheese caves are going to go. 

Today, the wind is blowing fiercely. I had thought that I would take a break from all this domestic duty and spread ryegrass seed for winter grazing. I decided against that because this stiff wind would send it  everywhere but where I want it planted......  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Frost On The...... Beans!

While we were gone to Topeka for the State Shooting Match, there came a frost. Maybe even a killing frost. Not just one frost but three mornings in a row. You may remember that we have a field of late planted soybeans that I was sure didn't make it through the drought.
Lo and behold--- they did make it with quite a few beans, too. As if that were not enough row crop drama, now we are waiting until harvest to determine if they had matured enough before the frosts got them. Farming is gambling--- no doubt about it! My nerves just can't take it so I ignore that 25 acres as much as possible. I have even quit shrieking at the deer that graze on those beans early in the mornings......

Next year, there will be alfalfa out there. Then I will watch and fret over the weather forecast even more! Nothing like having hay cut in the field to bring on a rain shower......

When I last posted, I was on my way to an auction. Actually, it was two auctions with just a couple of blocks between them. Took the entire day to get everything sold. A restaurant and a bar/grill were foreclosed. I had a great day and scored BIG! After all these years of longing for a 3 compartment, commercial stainless steel sink, I now have TWO of them.

While I was bargain shopping, I ended up with 5 small dining tables ($7each), 8 wooden chairs($2 each), a stainless steel prep table, a large wire shelf, a bread cart, and 41 small plastic beer pitchers...... The beer pitchers were a surprise purchase that I did not realize I was bidding on until too late. For two whole dollars, I figure that we can use them for feed scoops.

I have been cleaning on the sinks and wire shelf for the last two days. They were layered with grease and I cannot believe how nasty that restauraunt was. It was enough to make me reconsider eating out ever again.

Two walk in coolers were also auctioned off but I chickened out of buying one of them. All that I could think about was how much the power bill for the barn would be if I plugged one of those monsters in.....

While I have been letting the new items soak in degreaser, I cleaned out the two used refridgerators that I bought a month or so ago. I also managed to get a coulpe of batches of soap made, cut and stacked for curing. Slowly but surely I getting things cleaned up and reorganized. I am hoping to get the old "bachelor pad" fixed up as a soap shop and the barn kitchen set up for a processing room before the holiday stuff starts.

Meanwhile, the house is falling in around my ears. I have promised myself that I would do only the absolute necessities at the barn for the rest of the week and concentrate on house work....... Bummer!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wish Me Luck!!

Today, Adam and I are off to an auction! Not just any old auction either! Today, they will be auctioning off the contents and property of two restaurants in a nearby town. Times are hard in small towns these days......

I have had big plans for my "barn kitchen" ever since we bought the place. Normally I would not plunge off into buying equipment with out more thought and research but since this is happening so close to the farm, I think that it would be a mistake not to go and at least consider buying some of this stuff. I would eventually like to have a commercial type kitchen/milk processing area. All of that requires lots of stainless steel stuff..... this might be a chance to get some with out spending a fortune.

Besides....... I just cannot resist bargain hunting!!! I may not get a thing but I will enjoy the process and maybe at least bring home some good ideas.

Monday, October 8, 2012

4-H--- It Runs in the Family

A comment the Joi made last week on one of my posts has really got me to thinking.......

We are a 4-H family. I know that you all have probably noticed that by the number of times that I have mentioned various 4-H activities that I am always having to haul at least one of these kids off to....

I was a 4-Her for over nine years. My mother and grandmother were 4-Hers. Three of my four children are or have been 4-Hers. Salena has "aged out" and Seth will in about a week when he turns 19. Charlie was never very interested. Adam will soon be my only 4-Her left......

I do not think that I have enough words or space to accurately say all the good that this organization has done for our family. If it had not been for 4-H, I am afraid that I probably would have been one of those kids who "got lost" along the way. I am not going to air all of my family's dirty laundry on the Internet but frankly...... on a GOOD day, we were dysfunctional. My folks did the best that they could..... I wasn't an easy child, finances were tight, tempers were short and life just HAPPENED.

My county agent's name was Patricia Barkaloo. She was the toughest, strongest, finest woman that I have ever known. She had very high standards and somehow managed to convey to us how deeply committed she was and how much she cared for us. In my life, she filled in the gaps. She managed to do miraculous things.... with only one arm. She was born with this deformity but somehow, we all forgot that she even had it.  We called her "Mama B".

Through 4-H, I was able to take any interest that I had and explore it fully. I figured out that, quite frankly, if there was anything that you wanted to do...... chances were pretty darn good that you could do it if you applied yourself. It was the making of me at the time......

Neil and I have worked hard to provide our children with a much more stable family life but I am still very grateful to 4-H and our county agent ( love you, Cheri!!) for the many opportunities that they have given us....

This past weekend, we hauled up to Topeka to participate in the State Shooting Match. Both boys were in recurve archery and Seth shot one last time in black powder muzzle loading.

It was cold that morning! Poor Adam had a bad case of nerves....

They don't realize it now but these pictures will be very sweet reminders of good days when they are older.

After the competition finally got started, Adam settled down and began to enjoy himself. This is the FITA target. I have no idea what that means but they shoot arrows at it at 20 and 30 meters for juniors like Adam.
Seth is a senior so he had to shoot at 30 and 40 meters.

The second part of the competition was called "silhouettes". They were actually 3-D models of different critters. As you can see, Adam was feeling much more like his old self by the time he got to this station.

I always like to watch Seth shoot. He is very serious about the whole business. I am always amazed that this composed, competent young man is actually MY SON.......

He only has so much patience with is mother....

When he got to his last shot, he stopped for just a minute. He has a certain routine that he does before each shot. Deep breath, bend at the knees and straighten, take another deep breath and raise the rifle to shooting position, take aim and fire. This time, he just stood for a long moment looking down the line at the chicken target. This was his last shot as a 4-Her. End of the line....... all done..... finished. He wanted to make it count--- and he did. Hit the target square on and sent it flying. Bravo, my boy, bravo! You don't always win but you ALWAYS finish strong. My heart can't hold in much more pride.......

Budgets are tight. Funding is hard to come by. The Extension Service regularly comes under scrutiny and often is criticised as being old fashioned and out of date. Some states have almost completely eliminated their 4-H programs........ It would truly be a sad day if we as a county were to lose this valuable investment in our young people.

Friday, October 5, 2012

We Are Off---- Again!

Yesterday was a strange day. It started early for me because something roused me up at about 4:00am. I had my friend, Beverly, heavy on my mind. I just knew that her time was very short...... so I sat and prayed and thought about life in general. About daylight, I hit the chore list pretty hard and then began to make lots of phone calls. I wasn't exactly sure where Bev was. I spoke with her on Monday and we pretty much said our farewells then. I knew that she had been taken to Wichita but that covers alot of ground......
I never did get to speak with her and I knew in my heart that I never would again. I did get in touch with a relative and they had several errands that needed to taken care of on Bev's behalf. Charlie and I spend about half of the morning on the road handling things......I had to unlock her house and let the Hospice guys remove her bed and other equipment. The house was cold, empty and very quiet. We went into town and paid a bill for her..... Late yesterday afternoon, I got  the call that she had passed away. Grief and peace make for an odd emotional combination.......

Before I got the call, I had been over at the barn kitchen mixing up a batch of soap...... good therapy.

Salena came home late last night, too. So early this morning, we went over and unmolded and cut the soap. I had tweaked my recipe a bit and I am thrilled with how it turned out. I tried a new scent as well. My whole barn has the faint, haunting scent of Forget-Me-Nots......... It is a lovely scent and it makes me feel very sweet and feminine---- that is quite a stretch!!

Back into town to handle a banking matter for Bev...... her dog and cats are taken care of....... I don't think that there is much more that I can do for her.

Now we are getting ready for a little trip---again! The boys are competing at the state level in shooting sports. They all have to be on the archery line at 8:00am. We are going up tonight to spend the night with a friend and have a little fun. Tomorrow will be Seth's last 4-H competition. He will be an old man of 19 in just a few short days.......

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just Stuff.....

I have not been very faithful to update my blog lately. I have lots of good excuses but I will just stick to the most recent one for this entry.

If you recall, I have been keeping two extra milk goats for most of this summer for a friend who has been battling cancer. She is losing the fight and her days left are few.....she is also pretty much alone... I have been helping out as best as I can. I sold the goats and some of her chickens....... actually, I bought one of the goats and a few of her chickens....sold what I didn't want or need.

This morning, Bev called me to tell me that she was in the hospital in a bigger city and probably would not ever be going home again. She told me that she was leaving all her critter stuff to me and another fellow who has been helping her. I told her that I would sell as much as I could as quick as I could to help her out. I told her that I loved her and was sorry that this was happening to her...... we both cried. I plan on getting to see her just as soon as I figure out where she is.

My sons and I went over to her place and began loading up things that might "walk off" since no one is at home. We will inventory things and start putting things on Craig's List in the morning. Time is short and so is her money. I want her to be able to have whatever she needs or wants in her last days.....

I hated being at her little homestead and loading up her things. I felt like a vulture circling ...... but it has to be done. She is resting better knowing that things are being taken care of, loose ends tied up. The neighbor is feeding her dog and cats.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was just stuff.... things that Bev would no longer want or need.

Just stuff......

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More TIme Off the Farm

The boys and I will be working at the Old Iron Club Days in Fredonia this weekend. The boys are Jr. Leaders and are helping with displays. Seth has the dairy goats and sheep and Adam is helping with the muzzle loader display.

Bright and early this morning, we had to haul Catherine and Elizabeth as well as the new Lamancha and an Alpine named Edna up to town.

This is a chance for people to see how things were done "in the good old days...". I am very happy for my modern conveniences!!!

We won't be back at home much until Sunday night.  Hopefully, I will have pictures.

Right now, I have dashed home to finish chore and do a little "skirt work" as my rancher friends say. We have special company coming tomorrow...... I will do my best but this is just how it is around here!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another bull! We were suspicious that Freckles was having a hard time but she was not in distress. Sure enough, by morning, she had a red calf with a whilte face..... and he was born breech. He is still very wobbly on his feet but he is up and walking stiffly. We have seen him nurse several times so we are not as worried about him any more.

Ramona is next! She is big as a barrell and sick of us checking on her.

The camera that I am having to use has a broken screen. I just sort of guess at what I am aiming at for a picture. Thank goodness for the computer editing options because things are always off center.

This is what I took yesterday:

Last set of meat bird chicks growing in the brooder in the back yard.

Catherine and Elizabeth

                                                             Romeo Ram

                                         The hens begging to be let out..... it worked!