Shades of Ireland

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Major Glitches

I have no idea what is going on with this blog. It will not work at all when I am in the "compose" part of adding a post. This writing is possible because I clicked on the HTML setting. It will not let me post pictures at all in any format. For some reason in the last week, there have been over 400 hits on the last test post I put up and most of them are from the Ukraine..... I think I am done here. If I manage to get another blog up somewhere else, I will try to post it here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

test post

Having trouble.... again! Been trying to blog for a couple of weeks but can't get them posted. Can't get pictures at all.....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ADGA Nationals

I have been rambling this week...... and pretty far from home if I do say so myself. Adam and I hitched a ride with a friend from Oklahoma and we are spending this week in St. Paul, Minnesota at the American Dairy Goat Association National Show. I am earning my keep at Hamby Dairy Supply again this year.

I was very surprised at just how beautiful southern Minnesota is. Unfortunately, it is pretty dang hot, too. I got myself in trouble with dehydration on the first few days that I was here helping to get the booth set up.

Anyway..... it will be at least a week before I get back to normal farm life.......

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ewes Are Done!!!

This was the sheep shearing weekend. I was determined to get the sheep cooled off before July. We made a really good stab at it this weekend.

I have pics on my phone and someday I will figure out how to get them on here..... again! The phone service changed up the proceedure and that means that I have to just start all over again.

I briefly found the digital camera that had been lost in the old blue Ford truck but.... fair season is approaching and my budding photographer snappd it up to get a head start on pics to exhibit..... and promptly put it down somewhere and it is gone again!!

Anyway, we got nine ewes, the ram and one big black lamb sheared. All that we have left are lambs. In looking at them, only a few, less than six, really need to be sheared. The others are late lambs or were ill when I got them and they just do not have the heavy wool cover that the ewes did. They are not suffering in the heat at all and seem to have just enough wool covering to give them relief from the dang flies.

Adam has two ewe lambs picked out to show and they will certainly get a really close hair--- I mean--- wool cut......just not for a few more days!!

I did not try the professional shearing method this time. I am just too old, fat and weak to wallow those sheep around and get it done with out terrible strain to both me and the poor sheep. We put them up on the milking stand. Neil helped me hold them still, shifted the big sheet of wool and generally made life MUCH easier. I soon had a system and I am down right proud of the job we did. I still had clipper and blade issues but we have decided that the three sheep that I had problems with must not have been sheared last year. They were a greasy, nasty, hard-to-shear mess. Also they were obviously cross bred ewes and I am actively encouraging Neil to cull them because their wool was just .... very different to try to cut. After they were all cleaned off, we were shocked at just what nice, good quality sheep we have!! A couple of these girls have raised two lambs. The combined weight of those lambs is much heavier that the she is!!! We still have a month or so before actual weaning time. They have done an excellent job for us.

I ended up with six rolled up fleeces that I am not ashamed to admitt that I cut off. Two of them are probably not spinner quality but I am donating them to a local group of ladies that put on spinning demos. Those fleeces should at least give people something to look at and touch. They can demo to their heart's content.......

Right now, I have them rolled up and bagged in an old sheet. I just tied up the corners of the sheet and it looks like a huge hobo bundle. Every time I see that big old fashioned looking bundle, I find myself singing,  " Baa, Baa black sheep, have you any wool?"

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Just in case you haven't guessed by now--- I have been sick AGAIN! The normal allergy stuff was bad enough but this year, we had the added sinus infection that traveled up behind my eyes and settled in for the duration.

I had one round of antibotics and thought that it was over but..... I was wrong. That was the passing out over the silage barrel incident.

Round two consisted of several small stroke like sessions with facial cramps and more vision problems. Started a second round of stronger antibiotics with lots of very glamorous nasal passage rinsing. I felt better for a day or two and then just generally felt awful and wanted to find a nice place to lay down and die. I still did not have any pain at all. Just felt too bad to go on. I tried anyway but spent lots of time trying to cope with crazy, staggering, dizzy spells.

Back to the Doctor's office. My daughter came home for a visit for the day on Monday and ended up playing nursemaid and babysitter. She also managed to crack the whip over her brothers and get some house work done. Turns out, I was having an allergic reaction to the stronger antibiotics. They gave me a killer shot of something that knocked me out for 18 hours. I apparently visited and talked with several family members but I don't remember a thing...... Now I have a different pill regime that seems to be helping. Still have very mild dizzy/eye cramp spells but I must be doing MUCH better because I was able to spread three and a half tons of gravel rock out in the pot holes in the drive way today at high noon--- hottest part of the day..... I am pretty much finished and heading for a nap.

Just to be on the safe side, I am visiting an eye doctor tomorrow to let them have a look at what is going on back there......

All this to say---- the blogging has been a little on the light side lately and may be for a few more days.

I am alive and kicking and the farm life is going on steadily--- with or with out me!!  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Sign of Aging....

As we age, we begin to remember all kinds of things we have stored away in our minds. Older people have stories to tell of their memories and younger people often roll their eyes when they hear it coming....

I have begun to have those kinds of memories and stories to tell..... and my children roll their eyes.

Since tomorrow is Father's Day, several people who are my facebook friends have posted old pictures of their fathers. I decided to give it a try and surprised myself by successfully scanning a picture on the first try.

It was a picture of my father as a very young man just enlisted in the military. My middle son, Seth, bears an uncanny resemblance. We often knock heads, too-- just like my father and I did. Must be a form of payback Karma.

Since I was so successful with that first scanning, I decided to try again and went looking through old photos. Oh my!! The memories...... I chose to share this one because I remember this day. I was six years old and my baby brother was just over a year old. I vividly remember this day with my Dad......

We were stationed in Goose Bay, Labradore, Newfoundland, Canada. It was a very wild place! There was only one road for hundreds of miles and it ended at a river. Supplies were brought in to the base by sea.... until the bay froze over. Then there were a few supply flights as the weather permitted. We drank alot of powdered milk. It was only about 1200 miles from the Arctic Circle. Winter days were brief and dark. Summer days were seemingly endless and I remember arguing that it couldn't possibly be bedtime at 10:00pm because the sun was still shinning!

I am not sure if it was just my Dad's wanderlust or if it was the trend of the day but he loved to "just go for a ride". I have lots of interesting stories about the crazy places we sometimes ended up but while we lived here, the route was pretty predictable..... there was only one road.

But for some silly reason, I remember this specific day. It was a warm day and the mosquitos were vicious. We did not catch a single fish. The water was up and really noisey. Some crazy guy drove a yellow Volkswagon bug across a narrow bridge that was actually just two logs laid over the river. I got a bit sunburned. It was a good day......  

My mother took this picture with her old "Brownie" box camera. It is a classic shot and pose for my Dad. He was tall and lanky. He often sat hunched over with his elbows on his knees. He never wore a tee shirt unless it was a white one under his button up shirt. The shirt always had to be a dull color. No stripes, no bright colors and definitely NEVER any hint of yellow or pink stripes no matter how subtle. 

His hair was combed over in front to hide the receeding hair line but... there was no hiding the spot on top.

He never got to be an old man. He died of a massive heart attack at forty eight. He never met any of his grandchildren. He didn't have time to learn to like and respect my husband. We had been married all of two months when he died. I have some good memories and some that are definitely not. If he had lived, I am sure that we would have continued to rub each other the wrong way because that is just the way we were. 

Happy Father's Day..... make good memories!! 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Who Was That Masked........ Mama??

You may recall that Adam had decided to try his hand at turkey hunting this spring. Being the very supportive Mama that I am, I was happy tolet him run with it. That is just the kind of gal I am...... He was busy on line using Google and YouTube to learn this new skill and that gave me...... relief!! LOL!! This new hobby required all kinds of new special gizmos and he was able to buy or talk his siblings into buying almost everything he wanted. Since his birthday convienently fell just before the start of spring turkey season, he is now probably one of the best equipteed turkey hunters in the midwest..... 

Unfortunately, he is not old enough to hunt by himself---- I don't care what the state of Kansas says--- I am not turning my 12 year old loose in the woods with a shotgun! That means I get to go along...... before the crack of dawn! Let me tell you a little bit about what is involved when you go off turkey hunting. Turkeys are wiley creatures with excellent hearing and sight. That means not only do you have to be very still and quiet, you also have to be in full camo gear......

Since I have no vanity at all, I will show you exactly what I look like while turkey hunting:

Camo Fashionista!!!

Please notice that I am carry friends..... the decoys are named Jake and Henny. Apparently they are supposed to strike jealousy in the hearts of passing Tom turkeys..... lust will get you in trouble nearly EVERY time..... this is one of those teaching moments when I share such pearls of wisdom while in the hunting blind.

He set the blind up right next to the creek in the wooded south end of our property. At the time, it was dry but after nearly four inches of rain, I really felt like I should be trout fishing in Colorado. 

Since he has nearly every turkey call known to man, he spent a great deal of time "talking turkey" trying to lure them in. I was never so surprised in my life when a hen turkey suddenly yelped back at him! Two curious girls walked in and checked him out and it was marvelous to hear their conversation. They seemed to know that they were perfectly safe since it is only legal to shoot Toms. It would not have mattered because Adam was trembling so much that there is no way he could have made the shot!

Those two have been the only turkeys that we have seen so far. The season is winding down and we have been too busy or too lazy to get up early enough to go. His enthusiasm has waned but I am not the least bit sorry. The entire time that I am sitting in that blind, I am looking for ticks crawling instead of turkeys!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Farewell to Friends...

I am a horse lover. I am the person that I am in part because of the horses that I have owned and ridden during my life time. When I was a child, I am quite sure that the only reason that I stayed on the straight and narrow was because of my horse.

This picture shows four of the six equines that live on our farm these days. These are the favorites who remain as memories of our glory days...... there were times that we had as many as a dozen hanging out in the pastures. My two middle children are horseman and they spent many happy hours roaming the countryside and competeing at saddle club playdays and shows.

My youngest son has ridden quite a bit but he is still learning.

The horses spend weeks and months just hanging out, enjoying each other's company. Occassionally, someone will get the urge to saddle up and take a ride or will use one of them when helping the neighbors to gather and work cattle.

The kids have decided that two of the remuda need to be sold. Doc and Spinner need new homes where they will be used and loved. This small herd of horses really is hard to work around. They can't go out with the cattle because they harass the calves. Equines, in general, are hard on pastures and even harder on fences.

So..... Salena has advertised them and people have started calling to ask about them. Supposidly, some folks are coming out today to take a look at them.

Secretly, in my heart of hearts, I hope that they don't show up or that they change their minds and don't want them. I won't deliberately sabotage the sale...... much...... but....

These gallant beasts have made us very, very, very happy...... we have wonderful memories of long rides and all sorts of adventures. They have given many times of very close bonding between my children as siblings and myself as their parent.

But most of can I betray them...... these ornery, wonderful creatures gave my children such courage!! Such confidence!! A spirit of freedom and most of all..... wings!! They gave them the idea that nearly anything was possible to accomplish....

My only consolation is that they will most likely do the same thing for another family......

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A New Approach...... sort of.....

If you own sheep, there is no escaping the fact that eventually, they will have to be sheared. Even if you accidentally end up with a small flock of woolly misfits, when it begins to get hot, they have to have relief.
I am sure that I could hire some hardy soul who does it professionally but ......he would probably want to be paid for the job and usually shearing 15-20 just isn't worth the hassle to a professional.

I have sheared sheep in years past and I even managed to get the wool off of Catherine and Elizabeth last summer. The sad truth is that they actually looked worse after the shearing job than before. They were cooler but looked as if they had tangled with a mountain lion.

I am an old pro at clipping goats for show and have even slicked off a few milk cows for the show ring. I have also totally humiliated a long haired dog or two and mangled up a llama pretty badly.

A friend loaned me her sheep clippers and I decided to learn how to do this so that the wool might possibly be used by other friends who are spinners and weavers. YouTube is your friend. My newest hero is a gentleman in England named Phill Hart. He has done a wonderful series of shearing videos that explain things just beautifully and makes it all look very logical and simple.

So after spending several evenings watching this and other how-to videos---- I was ready!

Today was the day and Catherine was chosen as my first victim. I thought that it might be best to have a "before" picture as well as an "after" picture......

This does not do her justice. Catherine is HUGE and I chose her to be first because she is carrying a fleece that is at least 5-6 inches deep when I stick my fingers in to try to find sheep flesh.

Seth reluctantly agreed to go with me for back up and act as photographer.

We caught her up and dragged her into where the cows are milked. I had swept it out so that it was nice and clean in hopes of keeping trash out of the wool...... very funny now that I look back on it!

Much to Catherine's surprise--and mine-- I flipped her over on her rump and held her head up to my chest and started clipping her belly. Seth was even slightly dumbfounded by this finesse move and very tactfully asked me if it wouldn't just be easier to put her up on the goat milking stand...... I puffed slightly as I explained that I couldn't get the wool off in one big piece if I did it that way..... not professional looking, you know.....

Not very flattering to either one of us...... but- it is what it is!!

I lost my photographer about five minutes after this as I was shearing up her left rump and side. By this time, I was really gasping for oxygen and needed Seth to help hold her front end......

We managed to get her twisted, turned and rolled around enough to get the wool off sort of in a big blob-ish sheet......

I rather creatively got it folded and rolled up and stuffed in a box.....

I had great plans of surprising one of my friends in Georgia with a box of wool in the mail....She is a spinner and knitter but...... on reflection of the last llama wool fiasco that I mailed to her, I decided maybe not......

When it was all said and done----

Catherine looked like this.....

And I looked like this!!

Seth rather casually commented, "We are only doing one today---- right?"

Only one today but about 19 more inthe very near future!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Starting to Sneeze!

I can hardly believe it after that long, cold winter but spring is actually here. Along with this incredibly warm, windy weather, my allergies are also here. I can't even begin to list all the things that have happened since the last time I blogged...... but I will try!

- Charlie has a new job as a deputy sheriff and has moved out. He manages to make it back a few times a week to do laundry.
- Salena has graduated and working full time. YAY!!
- All three of the older kids are beginning the process of looking for new ( to them) vehicles. We hope to do that early next year
- Planted all sorts of fruit trees in the new orchard.
- Set out somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 new asparagus roots.
- 8 new blueberry bushes
-Added 6 comfrey plants to the herb garden
- 50 strawberry plants
-Somehow, our sheep numbers have topped 20....and I have to get the poor things sheared VERY soon!
- I managed to start all kinds of seedlings for the garden and kill a good many of them by burning them with too strong of a fertilizer mixture.

That is probably the "Top Ten" homestead happenings during my blog vacation.

Today, we are gearing back up to start the pasture rotational grazing. We very successfully strip grazed a big plot of wheat for the steers and replacement heifers. That pretty much ended today when we loaded up the steers to go to the sale barn.

We worked all morning getting the electric fencing straightened back up, headed to town to see the cow sale and eat lunch. When we got back, I spent much of the afternoon, spreading Bermuda grass seed into thin or bare spots in the pasture. Fifty pounds of Wrangler Bermuda grass cost $325!! And I just threw it on the ground!!! While walking with the spreader, I made a lovely discovery!


I flushed a meadowlark from her nest. After I took the pictures, I quickly moved away and she came right back....... so no birds were harmed to get this picture!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taking A Break

Still alive and kicking! Just very, very busy with farm and family stuff. Be back soon..........

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Weather Relapse

I swear that I am losing my menopausal, hormone deprived mind! I just can't take the cold any more..... I am about to just snap!! It has been absolutely lovely weather even with a little rain thrown in.... until late yesterday.  A typical spring storm blew through but the temperature dropped down to down right chilly and so did my attitude. I did manage to brave the brisk north wind and get a few chores done but definitely with out any enthusiasm.  It may be best for me to just wind things up early this evening, turn on my beloved heated matress pad, and hibernate......

Yesterday, Adam and I got a thrid strand of electric fence up around what used to be called the "horse pasture". We had gotten a small "training lane" set up a few days before. It is just a small area with good grazing that is very well fenced with electric wire. We are using this area to train the goats and weaned calves to respect an electric fence. Not an easy feat with goats, let me tell you! 

After spending two days in the training lane and getting the old horse pasture fixed, I turned the whole goat herd out to graze. This area is pretty darn big. I am a terrible judge of land area but I would guess between seven and ten acres and full of wild rose bushes. The girls had a marvelous time! They all stayed in and waddled back to the barn as full as ticks......

Next on the agenda is to put the weaned calves and three replacement heifers into the training pen. While they are hanging out in there discovering the zapping power of those thin little wires, we will be getting the late planted wheat set up to rotational graze. We have no intention of ever harvesting it so they will get to graze it all until the heat kills it or we sell the steers and the heifers get big enough to go out with the bull--- which ever comes first.

It is supposed to drop down below freezing tonight...... I just can't stand it. The urge to just go to bed is more than I can withstand. I am going down for a nap...... an then I will get up and cover my lettuce and strawberries...... one more time.....

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Nothing like waiting until almost the very last minute! We did get them done today as well as a little gardening.

I am still recovering from the ear/sinus stuff but as long as I pace myself, I manage to do pretty well. Over all, doing much better.

The bad news is that I finally completely filled up the memory card for my little camera. To get a new one, I will have to force myself to leave the farm and travel a whopping 11 miles to the small department store. Since we are one vehicle short, unless I want to walk, it will probably be a few days before I can take or post any new pictures. 

I think that this may be a good time to sort through some old pictures........ Maybe tomorrow!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One of Those Moments.....

As I sit here at lunch tapping away at this blog, I realize that I have had one of THOSE defining moments today......

The day started out just fine with nothing unusual for our house other than they called Charlie in to work for a few hours this morning. We are short one vehicle these days so sometimes I have been literally "stuck" here on the farm until Seth gets home at lunch. Since Charlie was going to work on his day off, this was going to be one of those days.

I rousted Adam out of bed and headed over to get the milking shores started. Currently, I am feeding corn silage to most of the livestock-- except the horses. For any of you that don't know, corn silage is corn that is harvested (usually before it is mature) stalk, leaves, corn and all. It is chopped up and all put into a container or a "pit" and packed down to press out all of the air. It is covered tightly and allowed to ferment. Ruminants like cows, sheep and goats absolutely LOVE it and it is very nutritious for them. It also has a very strong sweet/sour fermented odor....... Anyway, I have some stored in barrels that I have gotten from a friend's pit.  The barrel that I am feeding out of right now is about half full and I have to lean waaaaay over in there to get my feed bucket full.

As I came up out of the barrel with my very smelly silage, something very strange happened to me. I nearly fainted. The pressure in my head made me feel as if my eyes were literally going to pop out of my head and the whole barn spun crazily out of control....... the worst part was that these crazy feelings did not pass..... the sensations were so overwhelming that I thought that I was having a stroke. I stood there trying to get control and it occurred to me that I was alone in this barn..... Adam may or may not be coming over soon because he might have rolled back over to sleep more....... I wasn't afraid.... but at the same time, I was terrified that Adam would find me hanging over in a barrel of silage...

Things got much worse and I considered calling an ambulance...... those of you that know me realize by now that I sincerely thought I was going to die--- because that is the only way I would EVER call an ambulance.
I just stood there gripping the barrel and taking long slow breaths until I began to think that I MIGHT just live through this and began to ease my way back to the house. By the time I made it to the house, I was feeling better and Adam was up and putting on his boots. His first words were, " WHAT is wrong???".  As I turned to shut the door, it all happened again. I called Neil and tearfully told him that someone needed to come home----- again very unlike me and enough to cause him to be very concerned. He immediately dispatched Seth for home and started making arrangements to get himself home.

After a few more spells, I began to realize the problem had to do with when I changed positions rapidly..... probably not a stroke. Living in a small town has many advantages and one of them is that the folks at the Doctor's office know you by first name and will shuffle you right in to see the physician's assistant---- who I absolutely adore! Turns out, both of my ears as well as all of sinus cavities are infected. Neil and I sat at the local diner and had coffee while we waited for the pharmacy to fill my antibiotic prescription.

I am going to be fine but for just a moment....... I didn't think that I was. The panic for me was that I was alone and if something did happen to me, Adam would be the one to find me. I guess that what ever hat I wear, I will always be "Mama" first....... 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Accidental Sheep Ranchers

Over the last month or so, we have taken in several ewes and their lambs along with few weaned or orphaned lambs. Originally we had Catherine and Elizabeth-- both very spoiled and pampered. Now, we have 19 sheep of various sizes, shapes and sexes.

The ewes and lambs are well enough now to venture out of the barn paddocks and join the big girls out in the pasture. I went out to check on them and was delighted to catch this picture.

                                                                  Are you my mother?

Flirting With Spring.....

It is still only early April here in blustery south east Kansas but we are having some wonderful teasing glimpses of spring time. The past 4-5 days have been very warm and breezy with a few rain showers thrown in. The storms of spring have already started with a small town north of us getting marble sized hail while we barely had a sprinkle of rain.

We have not lit a fire in the fireplace in about 5 days and the furnace hasn't kicked on in longer than that. It is supposed to drop back down into the thirties later this week and the weather forecasters have been warning us for the last two days that BIG storms are coming..... expecting rough weather beginning Tuesday afternoon. All part of life here.......

As you can imagine, all this good weather has stirred up my gardener soul! I am truly trying to restrain myself but even after nearly 15 years of trying to plant too early in the Midwest and having countless tender plants frosted out...... I still can't help myself and do it anyway.

I am just passing through here today and hopefully will get back soon with updated pictures. We have been wonderfully productive and blessed since I last posted. I am looking for just the right picture to replace the wintry scene in the header...... maybe something with the much appreciated MUD!  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fickle Time of Year.....

It is Spring Time---- inside the house! Outside..... not so much..... Our weather in Kansas is normally unpredictable but this time of year, it is exceptionally fickle.

Just a few days ago, the boy were enjoying warmer weather and practicing with the muzzle loaders down on the pond range. Adam had a friend spend a few days over spring break at the farm and they paddled the canoes and waded around the edges of the pond.

The daffodils on the pond dam path over to the barn had begun to bloom. I was anticipating taking a glorious spring picture of my walk to work to show you......

This is the best that I can do this morning.....

Of course, with all that warm weather and hints of spring last week, I got gardening fever pretty badly.

This is what my living room looks like..... I know, I KNOW!! I will never have to worry about where to hang my "Good House Keeping" award..... ALCO had these green houses on sale and I just could not resist. There is no way this cute thing can stand up to Kansas spring winds soooooo, of course it had to be set up in the house. Not only are the shelves full of flats but all those sacks on the floor have various gardening stuff in them.... you know.... seed potatoes, gladiola bulbs, blueberry bushes, asparagus..... normal stuff for the living room---- NOT!

To make matters worse, I have started yet another hobby that has spread thru the house. I decided to try my hand at grafting apple trees..... where else would you store your new rootstock???

Bath tub, of course!!

Meanwhile over at the barn........

Those of us who have endured this dreadful drought for the last two years really are reluctant to complain about moisture in any form.......

The big pond behind the house, and the pond in the upper pasture are full. The creek is actually flowing. I am hoping when this melts off, the two ponds that only catch run-off, will be more than half full. The grass is just beginning to grow and that is a darn good thing since we are down to just a very few bales of hay left.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Redneck Bobsled!

The boys had a marvelous time during the storms. I have bought one of those plastic disc type sleds for Adam as part of his Christmas. I think that it lasted about a half an hour before they had broken it..... pulling it behind the 4-wheeler. Farm boys can improvise if nothing else. They tried the half barrel feed troughs but they were not sleek enough to glide over the snow and ended up just plowing furrows. In the end, the metal body of an old wheel barrow and a worn out lariat did the trick.

Since the 4-wheeler was involved, Prissy had to be right in the middle of things. She seems to think that it will not run unless she is perched on the seat. She enjoyed the sledding for a little while--- until they began to do the high speed spins and "sling shots". She bailed out and ran along beside them barking until they let her up on the seat.

Seth may be nineteen but he wasn't about to let his little brother have all the fun.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Winter Babies

Our wonderful friend and neighbors loaned us a purebred Angus bull during Spring Break last year. Look what we got!!

                                             Mouse had a beautiful heifer calf. Herd expansion!

                                             Cornbread had a big bull calf...... cash flow!!!

   We ended up with six calves total-- four heifers and two bulls. Even my old friend/enemy, Brindle had a heifer! She is just as high-headed and flighty as her mother and there is no way that I am going to get a picture of those two for at least a while. We are not expecting any more calves until June but that's ok because the goats are keeping me busy now.

First Alpine kids of the year.... bucks, of course! You might remember that I had a surprise doe kid born back in July...... this is the same doe! Pretty good since Tango is just now two years old. Unfortunately, she is not much of a milker but I am not sure if that is because of her ultra-fertility or just her nature. Time will tell.....

Beginnings of our meat goat herd.... Amos was very fertile--- at the neighbor's farm! Her goats all had twins, triplets, and even a set of quads all sired by Amos. So far, our girls have had two singles and a set of twins. Two bucks and two does. I am expecting four more young does to have his kids very late in the year.... June or July.

A set of twin does from a very nice Alpine doe named Ariel and my new buck.

All this birthing plus four more does went on between snow storms. We really only had one big problem from these storms:

The ice and the wind took down our dilapidated pole barn. There really wasn't much holding it up but we had hoped to repair and salvage what we could. Mother Nature decided that we should just rebuild!
On the far left, the only thing keeping that end up is the chicken pen. We had moved the tractor out and covered it with a tarp so that the milk cows could shelter in there if they wanted to. I was coming across the pond when I heard it collapse and nearly had heart failure before I got around the big barn to see what had happened. Luckily, the Bambi and Bertha were already waiting at the door to the milking area when it went.The sheep must have been under there visiting the Alpine buck because they came wandering out from under the rubble only slightly shell shocked. The buck pen off to the back escaped damage, too. He was a bit upset for the rest of the day, though........ 

Right now, I am getting a breather. Next week, should have about four more to kid.

The snow is melting but very slowly. The ponds, creeks and ditches are all flowing. Some people are complaining about the mud---- but not ME!!

Today is THE Day....

I am going to sit down this afternoon and figure out how to do the picture thingy.....

I have been just a tad busy with two snowstorms and a barn full of babies. Had a couple of bad kid birthings that have pretty much demoralized me but over all, the girls have done very well. I am milking two on a twice a day schedule and another 4 does added in the evening milking chores. Their kids look incredible.

Pictures to follow this afternoon----- one way or another!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Still Alive

 A good friend of mine stopped by this afternoon. I haven't seen her since October but nearly the first thing out of her mouth was, " What happened to you blog???!!??".  I have not quit--- I am just hip deep in goat kids and chores.

I decided to just bite the bullet and figure out this picture thingy but.... I need TIME to do that. The kids are growing and doing well and we have got things worked out pretty well. By this weekend, my goats will begin having their kids. We have several new calves and I am watching for a couple more to calve any minute.

Garden planning, plotting and dreaming is in full swing....... I will be back......

Thursday, January 24, 2013

On The Fly!

Just passing through for a quick update.

Have only lost one kid out of the whole bunch. I think that he had gotten sort of squished up on the trailer ride here.

I have kids drinking from the Lambar, the Milk Bar and from a pan. There are even a few stubborn kids that won't drink at all..... I am thinking they must be drinking from the pan or they would not still be alive after four days. Anyway..... there is milk everywhere!

Most of them are eating or nibbling on the alfalfa hay I keep out for them. I am going to introduce grain to them today.

I have gotten three new outside pens built and let a few of them outside yesterday while we cleaned inside pens. It will be way too cold to put them out today but I am hoping to get them all outside by the weekend.

There was an interesting turn of events earlier this week. The dairy owners came to repossess Bambi and Bertha Belle. Seems they had an agreement with my friend but..... somehow that fell through. Anyway, the problem was not between us and we are still friends. So, regretfully,we loaded the girls up on the trailer.  While we were standing there chatting, they saw Noelle. You must realize that Noelle was originally from their herd and she looks absolutely marvelous these days. They were shocked that she was alive much less about to calve. Apparently she is from one of their very high producing lines of Jerseys..... They wanted her back and we struck up a deal. I liked Noelle but...... she and I had some personality clashes. 
In the end, they happily traded BOTH Bambi and Bertha Belle for Noelle. I would have been happy to just to get Bambi.......

Seth just shook his head as he unloaded the cows he had just put on the trailer. Then he loaded up Noelle and she went back to her original home.

We also had a surprise out in the cow pasture. Adam decided to take a quick check of the girls just before dark on the 4-wheeler. He came rushing back to the barn to tell us that we had a new calf. We thought that Bobby Sue was due in early February but she decided otherwise. She has a very nice bull calf. My friend/enemy, Brindle who was suppose to calve just after Christmas is still very pregnant. Pretty much guarantees her a trip to the sale barn when she weans her calf......

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just So You Know......

I am going to be a bit busy over the next few days...... Remember those 50 bottle babies I was expecting??? They arrived this afternoon. Along with 46 more of their closest friends!!!! That's right---- he brought me 96 goat kids! He told me that he "miscounted"...... right!!!

 have not laughed this much in a very long time. They were so happy to get out of that trailer after their 5 hour ride. I had 8 pens set up expecting to put 6-7 in each pen. Good thing I made them big pens. Tomorrow, we will be building more to spread them out.

About half of them know what a bottle or lambar is. The other half think that we are evil monster trying to eat them..... While I was working with some of the stubborn individuals, about 20 kids escaped from their pens. They had a marvelous time romping and stomping all over the barn. I enjoyed them sooooo much!! The sheer joy they exuded was very infectious.

My wonderful hubby and Seth bravely stayed and helped me get them all fed and bedded down. I cannot believe how much fun we had!!!

I have got to get this picture thing figured out..... you will NOT believe it with out pictures!! LOL!!!

More Critters on the Way

I have been expecting my new job to show up since Monday. My friend that hired me to raise a slew of goat kids has bought out a goat dairy and it has taken him longer than he thought it would to get things straightened out there. He called me last night to give me the good news that it passed inspection and is up and running again. He should deliver my new babies late this afternoon.

Since I was expecting them earlier, I only have a few things left to do to get ready for them...... I think!! LOL!!

While it is bitter cold and they are small, I have pens and bedding inside the barn. When they get a little more size on them, I have pens and huts outside for them. I really prefer to get them outside as quickly as I can because they are just healthier outside in the fresh air and sunshine. If the weather should change or a blizzard head our way, I can always haul them back inside.  

The main issue is that I have to keep them totally separate from my herd and the kids that I am expecting in February. I worked many years to get to a CAE free status and I intend to keep it that way.

I got quite a surprise yesterday. Amos, the Boer buck that I bottle raised last year revealed his darker side. The plan all along was to breed several of my Saanen does to him in order to start a small meat goat herd. I can't just go out and buy Boer does because it is very difficult and expensive to get any that meet our high health standards. I used him on a few older does earlier in the breeding season. I have four young does that have just reached the proper age and weight to be bred. It is very late in the breeding season but I thought that I would still pen them together just in case the girls might cycle one more time. When I went to move him and his new harem out in to a larger paddock, he attacked me. He lost the battle but it set a bad precedent. Amos has proven himself too aggressive for this farm and will be leaving here for the sale barn on the first Tuesday in March. That should give him enough time to do his job if the girls are cycling.

On the milking side of the barn, Bambi and Bertha are gaining weight every day since their feet are almost well. They are looking so much better and their milk production is really coming up. Good thing with all these bottle babies coming......
All my does are looking lush and very pregnant. Expect them to start kidding mid-February. The Ewes, Catherine and Elizabeth are almost completely round, wool covered balls on skinny little legs. They could have their lambs any time after the last week in January. I have been teasing Seth that since they are East Friesan dairy sheep, we will have to milk them, too.  I don't really plan to but it fun to see the look on his face......

Noelle will also calve mid February. Do you remember what she looked like when I brought them home for Christmas 2011??? We called her an Ethiopian milk cow. Totally different creature these days. She can't decide just where she belongs. Some days, she wants to stay up with the milk cows and some days she wants to roam out with the beef cows. She usually walks to the gate and bellows for me to let her in or out. Of course, I open it for her and let her decide where she is spending the day. She is still not a pet and is not comfortable letting me pet her but we are making progress.  She will never be Holly but..... we are working on something else.

My old friend/enemy, Brindle, is due to have a calf at anytime. Despite my threats to haul her to the sale barn, this will be her third calf for us. That is quite remarkable given that she is very old. I think that this will actually be her last one for us...... and I mean it this time! She did not breed back within the allotted time and this calf is late. If it had not been for the heat and drought from last year and our desperate need for the cash flow from the sale of this calf, she would already have been gone.

The sun is up and the barn chores are calling me.......  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Update

Since I am getting farther and farther behind, I decided to just get all my news blurted out on this blog before I forget it all.

I am checking in to other blog options. I just can not bring myself to cave in to Google and join some other invasive picture hosting site. I am not sure just what about this has set off my rebellious nature but it has...... so there!! LOL!!

I seem to be having alot of that these days. Menopause is not for the faint of heart......

Recently, the salt water collection tank for the oil pumped on our farm sprung a leak. The guy who owns the leased rights for the minerals on our property is a real chuckle head. One of those guys that should have a big "L" tattooed on his forehead. Everything he does or attempts to do is handled in a half hearted, half measure way. Nothing is ever completely fixed or finished.... just enough to hold it together for a little while. We make very little money for all the mess and inconvenience imposed on the farm.

When we discovered the leak, salt water was spewing out of the tank in a 15 ft arch and running down the field road, heading for the creek which would have contaminated our big pond. The kids and I managed to slow the leak and round up enough buckets and barrels to catch it in to try to reduce the soil contamination and grass kill. It was 18 degrees, getting dark and miserable evening. This guy did not want to deal with it. He could not find anyone to come out and fix it so he just planned on letting it run all over our farm until morning.

 I totally came unglued. Unhinged is probably a better word. It was not pretty at all. I scared my husband, kids and the guy. I nearly flayed him alive. I did not physically attack him but it was a close call. It is a wonder that I did not have a stroke. It took me two days to recover from it.......

In the end, Bozo got the tank pumped out (that night) and walked away from the whole mess. The lease is up for sale and I met the potential new owners earlier this week. We had a long civil conversation but I made myself perfectly clear on how things were going to be done on this farm---- and how they were NOT going to be handled. I believe that this will be a much better situation for all involved....... We shall see.

On a better note, on the advice of my friend (Kansas Farm Wife), I tried a new, stronger, much more expensive antibiotic on Bertha Belle. After just one dose, that cow is almost completely well. Her sore foot is much better. The other foot that has been weakened from the strain of holding all of her weight seems to be recovering , too. She barely limps up to the barn to be milked each evening.

I have taken on yet another big project. By the end of the week, I will be hand raising over FIFTY goat kids. Someone has hired me to do this and I have been very busy getting my barn and pens ready for the big mob!!

We have had more good news this week as well. Salena got a new job that will possibly lead to a management position when she graduates. Seth took his college placement test and did very well. He is enrolled to begin college next week. My chicks are growing up!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blog Issues

I woud really like to blog more but I also would like to post some pictures to go along with it. Not happening apparently. I do not know what Google is doing but I can no longer upload pictures. Probably means they have done something new and improved that I have totally missed. I am getting pretty tired of dealing with it.

I have done the trouble shooting thing and the screen I am supposed to get when I click on the "add an image" icon is missing one very important button--- the one that says " choose files".
Google also does not employ human beings so ther is no one to contact and no other options.......

I may be done blogging.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Deer......

As part of my "winter blahs" this year, I have not been very excited about deer hunting season..... among other things.

I have been even less excited about the prospect of having to process any that the kids might kill.

The kids went out a couple of times during the early season and I even broke down and got my tags and license so that I could go out a few times with them.

I have to confess. I have been rooting for the deer! We saw a few and Salena missed one and I was secretly very relieved.

One of our neighbors has been gracious enough to let the kids hunt on his nearby farm land. Salena and Adam went out last night and had no luck. Thank goodness!!

That all ended today.

We have had a very busy afternoon. I had to take Neil to the dentist and we didn't get back until late. Seth had gone in to work early. Salena and Adam went hunting. That left Charlie and me to get the evening chores done. After every body was fed, watered and tucked in for a cold night, we headed back to the house. I had a big pot of beans and ham on the stove for supper. After I had chowed down on a big bowl, I realized that it was very dark outside and the hunters were not home yet. I gave Sis a call and she answered rather breathlessly. They were loading up a nice doe that Adam had shot. I could hear him chattering happily in the background. The bad news was that she had also shot a doe but could not find her.

They hauled the deer home and the boys got to work on field dressing her in the front yard. Salena and I went back to try tracking the other deer with flashlights.

I have been hunting with my kids for over ten years. Now that they are old enough to hunt on their own, it is rather flattering that when they have trouble, they still want Mama to come do the tracking!

We made very good progress and we tracked her through some pretty rough ground that was even harder because it was pitch black. We did not find her but I am pretty sure that we will in the morning. There were interesting things moving around in those woods and if it was the injured deer, I did not want to push her any farther away. If it wasn't the deer, I didn't want to take the chance on finding a skunk!!!

Now that we are all home, snug and well fed, I have had to hear Adam tell the story of the hunt about 10 times.......  It was too dark tonight for pictures so we will have to take a few in the morning.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chilly Chores

When Neil got up this morning, he gave me the good news that it was 10 degrees outside. I promptly rolled right back over and stayed in bed.  I am not really very fond of 6:00am anyway but a frozen solid 6:00am is totally out of the question.

Normally, I keep the thermostat set on 55 degrees for the house and we use the fireplace almost continuously. Since we have all been sick from one thing or another, I have graciously allowed the kids to turn it up to 60 degrees.

So we are used to being a bit chilly and when we come in from outside, the house feels absolutely tropical. But this gal is NOT going outside-- barring a terrible emergency--- until it warms up to at least 15 degrees. I really try to stretch out the inside chores until the sun warms it up to 20. Something about 20 degrees just doesn't horrify like temps in the teens does. Cold is cold but I have set 20 as my thresh hold for suffering..... 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bringing in the New Year!

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous new year!!!

The local FFA chapters sell boxes of fruit at Christmas for their annual fund raiser. Of course, we bought some! How can you say no to sweet pleading faces???!! Apparently, lots of other people did ,too. We received several generous gift baskets containing oranges, pears and grapefruits. I must admit that we were guilty of tucking an orange or two in our gift baskets, too.

After about two weeks of eating fresh fruit nearly every day, we still had lots of oranges. I had often thought about making orange marmalade and decided this was the time to try it.  I used the recipe from this excellent site :

In hind sight, New Year's Eve was probably not an ideal time to tackle this......

This recipe call for boiling the fruit a bit and then letting it set for over 12 hours. So obviously this project lapped over in to today. That worked out well because I was tired form working in the barn kitchen yesterday.

So bright and early this morning, I got up and started gathering up all my canning supplies. I bought myself several dozen of the Tattler reusable canning lids for Christmas and planned on giving them a test run.

This recipe does not include pectin so I had to boil the marmalade for what seemed like eons to get it to gel. It was certainly longer than the 30 minutes indicated in the recipe but I did not use as much orange peel so that may have been the problem.

So far-- so good! I only used four of the Tattler lids since I have never used them before and they require just a bit different handling than I am used to with the conventional lids. Besides, I intend to give the smaller jars away as gifts to friends...... I like my friends but not enough to give them my new lids!