Friday, December 31, 2010

lessons learned

2010 is quickly winding to and end and I've got mixed emotions about it, you see 2009 was a doozie and 2010 was awesome so naturally I hope that 2011 will be good and I certainly hope that we won't have another 2009. I've got lots of things nay goals for 2011 and I'm hoping to be able to pull them off to some degree by using some of the lessons I've learned this year. The biggest things I've learned is that above all other things time need to be taken to enjoy the ride. Don't get so wrapped up in it; what ever it is, that you forget to enjoy the ride. We only get one shot at this life it would be a shame to miss it, don't ya think?


Some of the other things I've learned are:



1. "They don't eat much hay." is a subjective term. Much hay compared to an elephant or a goat?


2. There is a reason for the old farmers saying that fences need to be horse high, pig tight and bull strong...


3. No matter how much you prepare your self or steel yourself against it taking animals to the abattoir hurts more than you think it will.


4. Good neighbors are amazing!


5. Do some research before raising animals, (especially for food) as you don't want to go in blind, but know that it will cost you more than you think, but not too much and it's worth every penny.

6. Farms are built by blood, sweat and tears and worth every drop.

7. Others will laugh, scoff at or even make fun of your choices and that's ok, let them. Forgive them, they just have now idea how blissful your life really is.

8. Enjoy the breeze on a warm sunny day at the beach with your children.

9. Crops fail, livestock eventually becomes deadstock, and large amounts of wind, rain and snow happen, roll with it. Hopefully it doesn't all happen on the same day, sometimes it does. On those days count your blessings and move on.

10. Lots of things just don't matter, it's the little things that do...

11. Sunsets are beautiful and a nice way to end the day with the hope for a beautiful tomorrow.

12. It's easy to bite off more than you can reasonably chew at one time and it's ok to say no.

13. It's very exciting to see an egg being laid and even more exciting to watch one hatch!

14. Children grow up way to fast and horses age way too quickly.

15. Sometimes it takes a 500 pound heifer and a show ring to give a young girl some self confidence, and it's heartwarming to watch.

16. We do all get the same 24 hours in a day it's how we decide to spend them that makes the difference. We do have the time if it is a priority. But sometimes even the best laid plans can get 180'd because the pigs got out or the truck got a flat or whathave you and not everybody understands. I hope you make it a point to surround yourself with people that do.

17. You are able to do exactly what needs to be done when it needs to be done even though you didn't think you could.

18. Red and grey squirrels; albeit cute, are very destructive!

19. A barn full of happy animals is a wonderful thing to hear first thing in the morning, or anytime really and a ride on a trusty steed can lift even the darkest cloud.

20. White tile flooring is not really ideal for my lifestyle. It shows way too much crud and despite the fact that the floor is swept daily it rarely looks that way. So I'll take a bit of wording from Joel Salatins wife, 'If you're coming to see me come anytime, if you're coming to see my house make an appointment.'

There are lots of other things I've learned this year so this is just a smattering, but I don't see how it would be possible to learn it all at once or in one year, nor would I want to. Learning is part of the journey. So here's to a look back at 2010 and lessons learned and a hope for a prosperous 2011 for you and all of us here at From the Country Farm. Good Night, God Bless and Happy New Year! Welcome 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Birthday Girls

Faith discovered while choosing her 4-H heifer this year that they shared the same birthday, how neat is that? So being the thoughtful girl she is, she called the dairy barn and asked if she could pop in to wish her girl a happy birthday and to see if she could bring her a carrot treat. The barn obliged her but suggested to her that a bit of grain might be a better treat as opposed to the carrot. We hadn't seen Blitz for a few months as show season is over as is the lease agreement, she's a whole lot larger now than just a few months ago; we found her in yet another barn but not surprisingly she was eating! Did I even mention that she's a pig! Yes, she's a Holstein, but she ate a proportionately larger amount of food while in our care. Anyway, her head was sticking out through the slots to the feed trough, it was almost like she was expect Faith. Faith walked up to her and held out her hand with a palm full of grain, Blitz licked it up and looked for more. Faith reached out to give her a scratch and Blitz backed away shyly, Faith was patient and took her time and eventually the light came on for Blitz, (no small feat for a Holstein I'm told.) and then she stepped forward to Faith to pat and scratch, then she gave her another bite to eat. I chatted with the barn owner while all this was taking place and we agreed it was lovely for a child to choose to spend time with a heifer in a dairy barn any day, but especially on their birthday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

shoeboxes!!

Last year our Operation Christmas Child boxes went to Madagascar and Zambia, this year they went to Belize and Equador! Very cool!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

11:30 pm Dec 22

Think I can crank out TWO pairs of jammies before I go to bed tonight? It's crunch time!

good quote

"When you are struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it's just as hard as what you're going through."

Nicholas Sparks
(Dear John)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

tradition or habit

Are we doing things because they are 'traditions' or because they are a habit?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WAY better than a Hallmark movie...

... and there are some AWESOME Hallmark movies!

I'll admit it I'm a sucker for Hallmark Christmas movies. Last year I think I figured out that the reason Hallmark movies are so wonderful is because they are soooooo unrealistic. I mean really, think about it, there is no stress from everybody needing to be pleased by having everybody around on 'the day.' One side of the story always has a horrible tragedy, their side of the stress has been removed by a death or abandonment or something. Nobody has stress from having to find the perfect gift; as it is always there, and all the shoppers are in a festive mood, polite respectful, helpful, and joyful. (I was out yesterday and that was SOOO not the case!) The small rural town is always saved, the jobless find a job and the hungry are fed and it all goes on and on. Don't get me wrong, if that happened in reality it would be wonderful and the world would be a better place because of it. But it's not real. Reality is stress from the commercialization of it, the stress of having to be everywhere, rude shoppers, an oven that dies while trying to make chex party mix, (yes this happened to us this year) not being able to do something for a loved one because it is just out of reach financially and you are dedicated to making your financial plan work ; which in the long run will ultimately be worth it. Reality is the lack of joy and hope because they are looking for it in the wrong place. It's not found in a store or under a tree. It can be hard to keep the Reason for the season in focus sometimes and in my opinion there is nothing better to celebrate. But as I've said before, it's really about perspective. You can get caught up in the worldliness of it or you can follow the Example of giving.

My sister and I went out yesterday and had a grand time, yes, we were Christmas shopping, but unlike fellow shoppers, we were laughing, giggling and generally speaking, thoroughly enjoying the day. We both love the feeling of Christmas and she enjoys Christmas the way more people should, the way you do as a child. We both love giving at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas, you see, neither of us look for joy or happiness under the tree. Last night we were shopping/laughing and having a great time but needed a drink, laughing is hard work, apparently. So we headed to Starbucks, I got an iced tea and she a mocha something, so we stood there drinking and thinking and talking a young serviceman walked into the lobby and up to the counter. He was carrying a itty bitty car seat all decked out in pink and had a pink diaper bag slung across his chest like it was his M-16. Proud and capable. I stood there for a minute looking at this young man and thought, 'He is exactly who I want defending our great nation.' The strong, quiet, confidence that this young man had said to me he was confident in himself and his abilities to not only guard our nation but would lay down his life for his child...

...as well as mine.

He guarded his daughter proudly and confidently and I was humbled. He pondered his order, placed it and was setting his daughter down to reach for his wallet as I was placing the cash on the counter to pay for his order. He looked at me, shocked that a stranger would do that, a look I returned in admiration. He said to me "Thank you." "No," I said, "Thank you." I smiled and walked away. Now I'm not telling you this to toot my own horn, but to make a point. If I'd been so caught up in the worldliness of the season I would have missed the opportunity to follow the Example of giving, to rail against society's selfishness, to create a Hallmark reality.


Yesterday was exactly what I needed to experience to snap me out of the worldly funk I'd been in; having allowed myself to be sucked in by it; to prepare me for tonight.

I was out making a delivery with my children this afternoon and saw lots of paper bags lining the road leading up to the church. It's the quintessential 'Hallmark' church, very stately with a huge white steeple, swinging french doors in the front, stained glass windows, archways, the works. It's really a beautiful church, not the place I worship, but still beautiful. At first I just thought is was trash, but as I looked up the road I realized it was luminaries lighting the road to the church, they were just being set out to be lit later. I drove past the church and headed down the other side of the hill. Luminaries on that side too. I thought it was a great idea and would look very beautiful after being lit. On the way back from delivery, my children noticed the church was having a candlelight service tonight and asked if we could go. I thought about it for a second and said yes, probably we could. So we made it home and went on about our day, about 6pm we started to get ready, I decided to walk to the church because we live well within walking distance. At 6:30 we; bundled in hats, scarves, boots, jackets, mittens, flashlight, lantern and headlamp; headed out to the service. The moon was nearly full and it was a near cloudless winter sky so the moonlight was reflecting brilliantly on the recent snow which was squeaking beneath our feet as we strolled along. The kids and I walked along our quiet country lane, past the little brook that hasn't quiet frozen solid yet so it bubbled happily in the moonlight, past our neighbors homes where soft light poured through the windows and woodsmoke billowed out the chimneys. We walked along the path through the woods that lead to the church and could see the lights from the stained glass windows and steeple through trees guiding us along. We talked about what a wonderful time we were having and how old fashioned it was.

We walked through the parking lot and saw the luminaries lining the road, saw some of our friends and neighbors heading into the church and stepped across the road to take it all in. (And take pictures of course, but I'll try to post them tomorrow, I cannot upload pics onto this computer.) It was beautiful. We walked back across the road, inside the church foyer, was greeted by a neighbor and headed upstairs to the sanctuary. There were evergreen boughs everywhere, candles flickering in the windows and the pipe organ was pumping out Christmas carols. We found a seat in the old wooden pews, and looked around and waved to friends and neighbors and smiled to those we don't know yet. The service started and was really beautiful.

There is something to be said for worshiping in an extraordinarily beautiful place. So many of the churches that are being built today lack the ornate details and beauty like the old churches are famous for and that make it a fitting place to worship at and I find this trend sad.

I have always loved Christmas candlelight services and went as soon as I was old enough to drive and breaking a family tradition. I've never regretted it. Tonight was no exception. I sat there listening to a version of 'The Holly and the Ivy' being sung by an angel I'm certain. She also played the violin while her dad played the guitar. I have a video too, I cannot wait to share it if it came out well. It was dimly lit, so I'm not sure. After the service ended, we were offered refreshments in the lower part of the church, Andrew was all about this for sure. And Faith wanted to see the violinist. They had a nice spread of crackers and cheese, cookies, and sweets and offered coffee and mulled cider, which was a nice treat before stepping out into the chilly winter evening after chatting with fellow service goers.

We stayed a bit despite the fact we had barn chores to do and it was past bedtime, we stayed because we could and because the fellowship was wonderful and because it was nice to have had my focus redirected to what matters.

Faith and Andrew and I all walked home in the cold, winter, moonlight air and not even Hallmark could have made a more splendid evening, because this was real.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Soap of the Month Club - coming soon!

Stay tuned as we here at From the Country Farm will be starting a soap of the Month Club in January 2011. I am very excited about the positive response to this, details coming soon!

* If you know you are already interested in this contact me at fromthecountryfarm@gmail.com or leave me a comment here and I'll put you on the list!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red Wiggler Update # 3


It occurred to me the other day that I hadn't checked on the red wigglers in an while, but seeing as they are very low maintenance and I wasn't smelling them I figured we were good. I was correct! I decided to pop open the cover and take a peek and this is what I saw! Black GOLD! This is a job very well done! I didn't have time to remove the castings, so I added more bedding and a bite to eat and gave them a stir and shut the cover. I've been at this for just over a year and I'll tell you it a slow process, but it's worth it and not something that requires any stress or much time. Peel a couple carrots for a salad? Do not put them in the trash, put them in the worm bin, or the pigs bucket, or give them to the chickens, or a treat for the horse or goats, or put them on the compost pile, but for crying out loud, DO NOT throw them away! Unless of course you have none of the above and if that is the case, get one or more! At a later date, when things are slower, I'll harvest the castings and post pics if you're interested, I'm thinking it'll be about the time I do some seed starting!

Friday, December 10, 2010

a wonderful circle

This may come off as a soapbox rant than anything, but I figure those of you who are regulars would see the sentiment behind it.

I've been making soap like crazy for about three years now and every year the variety of scents grows. Most of the ingredients are purchased locally, yes, I could get them for a few dimes cheaper online, but I love the customer service of local businesses. Well I've shipped several boxes of soap this week and last, which means money has been spent here at the farm. So that means another local business has been supported, then tonight I took some of the money and supported another local business when I made my children so happy as I pulled into the parking lot of a Christmas tree farm. I'd say that's a pretty wonderful circle!

Oh! Speaking of customer service.... about a week ago I pulled into the feed store, (the same one I blogged about here) to get more feed, the guys who normally load the feed into the truck greeted me inside the store and knew what feed I was there for! I didn't even have to say what I wanted, to say that I was stunned was an understatement. Maybe caught off guard would be a better description. I appreciate very much when they call me by my first name and not just after I write it on a check or sign a debit card slip, but as I walk into the store, I appreciate that they know my children's names and converse with them and that when my husband goes into the store, despite the fact we've never been in together they know who he is too. But to be able to know what I need to but before I said it was above and beyond just customer service!

Monday, December 6, 2010

it's not going to be a good day tomorrow

On this snowy night as dark settles in on our farm it is with a very heavy heart that I write tonight. I've had a horrible pit in my stomach since the flipped the calendar to December. (Hence the lack of posts.) Tomorrow I'm taking our girls; the pigs to be harvested. The tears are really flowing now. I knew it would hurt when we got them and I knew this would not be easy. One person said to me the other day, "It'll get easier." Well, I don't want it to get easier, I don't want the fact that I am responsible for their lives and deaths to be easier, to feel painless, like it means nothing. I've been entrusted to care for these creatures, their well being depended on me. It was suggested that we get two so they could keep each other company and so I wouldn't get so attached to them. I'm glad we did get two, one would be so lonely as they really are such smart and social creatures but as far as to prevent me not getting attached to them that was unlikely to begin with, I love animals. I know why I'm raising meat, despite the fact that I'm a vegetarian and I'm ok with the end result; it's like ripping off a band-aid after the wound has healed, but tonight the wound is fresh and very raw. I hope I gave them a good life, they seem happy and in the end when it's all said and done I hope while on this earth it was just one bad day they had.

Tomorrow will be a very long day and the kids and I will hurt. Ron is working from home tomorrow to be here so the kids don't have to go with me to drop them off and I'm so thankful for that. So tonight I ask those of you who are of The Faith, if you're so inclined, I'd really be grateful if you'd send up a prayer for us tonight. We are really going to miss our girls.

They've grown a bit...

...and enjoyed a "mar sarge" or two...


...and been 'loved on' a little...
.. and will sincerely be missed...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

we ah so culch-ed

Sorry, writing that made me cringe!

Well, this is supposed to be the last day for posting in the gratitude challenge, but I doubt it'll be my last post of what I'm thankful for. There are so many things, that 30 days simply does not allow for enough time to post about all of them. It's not always easy, but I do try to give thanks in all things, not just for all things.

Tonight, upon having just ventured into the city of Portland :shudder:: (I'll never know what made me think I was ever a city girl...) to take my children to see the Nutcracker Ballet. All three of us adored it, (as well as the trip into Whole Foods, but that is a post all in itself, after I come down off my food/beautiful produce high) and both of my children would love to go see Beauty and the Beast in February. Tonight I am thankful for art. Now, much like beauty I feel art is subjective; I do not find an art gallery filled of canvases of paintings with just an orange dot art. I do however love to look at the photographs taken by people like myself who are not professionals, but like to lend our hand to it. I'm actually a frustrated photographer at heart I think. (Especially now since my camera is on it's last legs, -insert sigh here- I guess 20400+ pictures is a lot for a camera to take in just 5 years!) I enjoy looking at artwork such as quilting and trying to find the meaning or the story. Children when given the encouragement and materials and allowed to let their imagination run wild often are very creative and 'artsy' if you will. Speaking of that, you should see our art supply! It rivals barn supplies! I love the artwork of Creation. I enjoy some things that are traditional and others when there is a creative spin put on it, but there are some classics that should not be messed with like Rudolph narrated by Burl Ives. DO NOT mess with Rudolph! My sister is now freaking out and desperately trying to call me to see what I've heard. Nothing.

Oh, for the record! IF I hear one more time that children are not effected by what they see on TV etc., I think my head might just explode! All afternoon after having seen the Nutcracker, my children were either the mice, the toy soldiers or another character from the ballet. After watching Victorian Farm they needed to pretend we were living that way as well, in fact Andrew came down stairs the very next day after seeing the first episode in his best Victorian period clothing and derby hat! Later he and Faith were taking turns being 'Clumper' the Shire draft horse used to pull carts and the plow. It does effect them!

So there you have it, a list of things I'm thankful for. Like I said, it's only a partial list and not in any particular order. I hope you've taken a moment to give thanks for the things you're thankful for not just this month, but daily, as there are so very very many.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving with my family

Today was perfectly delightful and I'm so thankful for it! I had thanksgiving with my family. My sister said to me the other day that she gets irritated when she cannot spend holidays with her family. I told her that even though I was not going to be there that she would be with her family. I don't think she liked that but the truth is the truth. Let me explain. Yesterday the kids and I prepared some of the food and today I finished up the rest of it. We started by ironing the table cloth that belonged to Meme' my great-great grandmother. It was just recently handed down to me by my grandmother and there were some creases that just didn't want to come out so I didn't force the issue. It was nice to have Meme' at our table. Then we cooked the turnip, I called my mother-in-law to see if there was a specific way that she cooked it as hers always tastes so delicious! I was glad she could be at Thanksgiving too! The squash that I picked with my sister and her children this fall, was cooked next, I cooked it in the microwave as my grandmother once suggested and seeing as it's her favorite vegetable I knew she'd know how to cook it the best way. It was nice to see them too. I made a personal favorite of mine; a summer squash casserole, and put it in a casserole dish that a neighbor of my mother and dear friend of mine gave to me as a birthday gift one year. I was so pleased that she stopped in as well. My children decided they wanted to help prepare the fiesta; we call it that because it is a celebration instead of just a plain ole' boring dinner. They decided they'd like to make the pies. Faith won a ribbon for her apple pie baking ability, so she made that, using one grandmothers recipe for the crust and an other's for the filling. I was so happy both of my grandmothers were able to come, one traveled for a very long time to make it. Speaking of grandmothers, Ron's father's mother was able to make it too, and she was very pleased I used her potholders to remove some of the pans from the stove and oven. Andrew decided he was up for the pumpkin pie. I don't know where the recipe came from, I just know that it's the one I've used since Faith was knee-high to a grasshopper, I know this because one year she was helping make the pies and scribbled all over the recipe card. Her artwork still gets me, straight in the heart.

I made some dinner rolls and a loaf of bread, I remember Thanksgiving as a child and mom had to have the corner piece because of the crust; in fact, after a while she started using a small little pan that was the perfect size for 4 rolls, all corners! Perfect! Mom hasn't been here for a while; she's been so busy, so it was nice to see her as well. Dad of course made it too with Mom, and thoroughly enjoyed the boiled onions and Faith's apple pie.

Today, I cooked the vegetable lasagna, Andrew's alternate request for Thanksgiving. The Tofurkey was sold out. Ron's meal was a roasted chicken; a broiler that I'd raised this summer, since the alternate turkey I had as insurance croaked mysteriously this summer, but as he's the only one who eats it, he was ok that. We had potato prepared three different ways, Andrew wanted latkes, Faith wanted mashed potato and Ron and I wanted to have them oven roasted like when we shared Thanksgiving with our neighbors at the US Air Force Academy. Rebecca was the first one who made them like that and it's a rare treat to make them that way, because it's not exactly healthy, but oh so delicious! I haven't seen them in years, so to have them here to share our meal was delightful. Ron's sister likes the homemade stuffing I've made for some Thanksgiving dinners we've shared, but it makes so much I don't generally make it unless we have a big dinner. My English friend prepared the best stuffing ever, it was sage and onion stuffing, cooked then baked in the oven in oil, so it makes a nice crispy crust on the outside of a really delicious stuffing ball. She was here today too, but didn't bring my favorite stuffing, but I was just happy to see her so it didn't matter that didn't bring the stuffing. I made a simple stuffing that was similar to both guests likes.

As the time for the fiesta meal approached Faith offered to come help if I needed it, I had her do a few things, ans was glad to have her help. I had her go check on the animals and collect eggs if there were any. She came bolting back into the house and said the alpacas were headed down the road! I was in the final stages of preparing the meal, so I shouted "Go get a grain bucket and shake it and they'll come back. Andrew go help! I cannot go right this second." Faith headed to the barn and Andrew headed out after the boys. Then it occurred to me that if we had a few burned things that that would be better than lost animals or an injury to a passerby because of the animals. (Ron was in the living room so if it got really bad he could have handled any kitchen disaster.) So since I had a bag of beet pulp in the house; because I have to soak it for Garlic, I grabbed a scoop and bucket and out the door I flew. I sprinted out the driveway and down our road. It had snowed a bit and it was cold, I'm running down the road in my crocks and t-shirt shaking a grain bucket, ugh what a sight! I kept running until I hit the second road and finally saw the boys, they were not too far ahead of me now and Andrew was finally on their heels, er hooves rather. Faith had made it to the barn and was bringing up the rear. A few cars had stopped or pulled over. Andrew had finally caught their attention and they decided that he is generally associated with food and opted to follow him. After following him a bit they heard me shaking the grain bucket and started running back up the road towards me. We were quite a herd I'm sure and a couple passersby had some very quizzical looks on their faces. As we turned onto our road a woman who lives up the road a bit and also owns alpacas stopped to help prevent them from heading back onto the other road. We got them closer to home and she figured it was all under control and headed home. Dakota, (our llama and apparent ringleader in all this) decided that the house across the street from ours looked mighty inviting so instead of turning into our driveway, he plowed through the cedar trees bordering their property and when in to visit. They were not home, so he allowed himself to be caught and led back home with the other boys bringing up the rear. Andrew did a great job of staying behind them and using his body to work pressure points on the alpacas, he really did listen to the old cowboy who taught him to rope, work and cut cattle! We got them home and back into the barn and settled and went into the house to finish up fiesta preparations, albeit we were all winded from a quarter mile sprint after the alpacas!

We finished the prep and sat down to a delicious meal and I had a glass of wine in a glass that I bought in New York when I went to visit my best friend from high school. We've both been really busy raising our families, living our lives and living 5 states apart that we don't get to see each other very often, but I was so delighted she stopped in today as well. I knew my sister would stop in to make sure that we had the correct cranberry sauce, she did and we were ok; I told Faith that it had to be Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce as according to Aunt Jenny anything else is a waste of money. I turned the tv off; we'd been watching a sappy Christmas movie and knitting before lunch, and turned on a CD of Christmas music by Anne Murray, one that Ron's oldest daughter Erika gave me for Christmas one year. Though she's now grown and gone, out making her own way in the world I'm glad that even with her busy schedule she managed to visit today too. We talked about things we were thankful for and when we were nearing the point of being stuffed Ron looked around at all the dishes of food and mentioned that lots of them looked nearly full! Well that was about the time his dad arrived. At that point I said to Ron well, like your dad says, "Too much is just right."

After we were full Ron headed to bed with a headache and the kids and I cleared the table, and set out the pies. You know something funny, with all the guests we had around our table we only cleared off four plates. We had a wonderful time today and it's fine that not everybody was able to make it this year for Thanksgiving, we enjoyed those who shared our meal and missed those who couldn't make it, besides there is always another meal.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Day of Giving Thanks!

Today I am thankful for the gift of music. Beautiful colorful music. Not noise, but music, and like lots of things it's a subject thing. I have a variety of music I like and some uh, not so much. I love the songs that grab you and make you relate to what the song is about and draws emotion from you like water from a spring. I'm primarily a country kind of girl, (a real shocker huh?) and there are some real tearjerkers for me because of the stories woven so beautifully through them. Then there are the instruments and the skills, practice and dedication to those instruments to make them emote so beautifully as well. Both of my children play the piano and we dabble occasionally with the guitar and violin/fiddle. I love listening to them practicing and dabbling to come up with their own version of music and try their hands at writing a song. I'm anxious to see how that eventually plays out. Music is a beautiful thing for which I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

reputation

*Isn't this picture tranquil?


I read a sign once regarding a good reputation - hard to earn, easy to lose. I don't know who said it, but it stuck with me. It's one of those things you just cannot argue with, like fact. Which leads me to what I'm thankful for tonight, I'm thankful for the reputation I have and by that I mean all of it. The good the bad and the ugly. I've got a reputation for being a straight shooter, not one who dances around and sugar coats things, impulsive, a hard worker, quick tempered, good in crisis situations, not always patient, refined, somebody who flies by the seat of my pants, a lover of animals and orphans, and others I may or may not know about. The reputation I'm talking about tonight is the animal lover part of me. Since September I've been asked to take in 5 alpacas, 1 horse, 3 ducks, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 5 goats and a Beta fish. Some might see this as having a reputation of being a sucker, I look at it as a blessing. (Did you hear that? Ron's head just exploded!) Lots of the animals here at From the Country Farm have come here as rescues of some sort or at one time or another. I consider it a blessing for two reasons; one being that I'm seen as a good steward or caretaker of Creation and two because most of the animals that I've been blessed with have something I can use to help pay to take care of them. (Garlic does not nor do I expect him to pay his own way, it is not possible to put a price on what he gives me.) I love working with textiles and natural fibers and creating things and what have I been blessed with, a milking goat to make soap, cheese, butter, ice cream and milk. Two fiber producing goats to make yarn with, a llama and 5 alpacas that have such wonderful fleece to make into even more yarn which I can sell to help with the cost of their care!
I am thankful for all of it, the reputation I have and the blessings I've received because of it.

good quote

It is better to hold out a helping hand than to point a finger.

Amish Proverb

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

lemons and chai tea

Simply put I am so thankful for lemons. Is there anything better than a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade? Maybe a glass of TAZO Organic Chai tea sweetened slightly and ice cold. Those have been my go to beverages of choice lately, well for about 2 years now and there are days in the summer when I cannot get enough of either. It's a simple thing that I'm thankful for today and it might seem trivial, but I am thankful for both, in fact I may just go make myself a glass of thirst quenching tea.

Monday, November 22, 2010

thicker than water

They say that blood is thicker than water and generally that is in reference to family, well it's something that I never really 'got.' I know it's supposed to be a good thing generally, but to me it seems to imply that family can only be blood, but blood is very sticky and thick. Water on the other hand, is clear and free flowing, going easily in the path of least resistance. Now that to me makes more sense in describing family. Water has a great ability to cover. It's free flowing. Spreads easily. Does not a family who cannot have a blood child love an adopted child as much as a family by birth? Do they not consider them family? Isn't a family blessed with the ability to foster children able to love those children as their own? What about blended families? Love happens in those and is it just as fierce a love as blood relations. What about extended families as in in-laws, out-laws, and friends that are as close as family. I love my parents and sisters as well as Ron's parents and siblings, I've got friends whom I love, yet they are not my blood, but they are my family. Maybe I was blessed with ability to love like water, maybe it's a choice, maybe it's something else, I don't know. But whatever it is, I'm thankful that I have such wonderful people in my life to love.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Momma D's Mack Daddy

I love my truck. As crazy as that sounds, it's true, I love my truck! It's fun to drive, roomy enough for the kids in the backseat and all that they need to bring along where ever we go, and it sits up high enough so they don't get carsick in; unlike Ron's car. Maybe it's an illusion, but I feel so much safer when I drive my truck verses the car too. It's been handy to have especially when needing to transport pigs, goats, turkeys, or chickens from point a to b. One time last year on my way home during a wicked snowstorm I skidded off the road an onto a front lawn! Boy was I glad to have 4WD to get out of that mess! Fortunately I was driving slowly and cautiously, nobody was hurt and there was no damage done to anything. I'm thankful to have a truck like this and I'm even more thankful it's almost paid off!

*It' got it's name via my mother and my sister, kind of a combo thing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Started your Christmas shopping yet?

A box of our assorted soaps gift wrapped and shipped directly from the farm to the hard to buy for person on your Christmas list makes a great gift! We'll even add a note from you at no extra charge! Tell us where to send it and what you like to say and check it off your list!

Do you or someone on your Christmas list need to slow down, relax and enjoy a hot bath?? Try our bath basket! Brown Sugar Body Polish and Soothing Foot Soak, with or without Goats Milk Soap.

Need a hostess gift, a last minute gift, or "a little something" for the neighbors, teachers, etc. Let us know we can help!

Strawberry

Today while taking a break from putting up fencing to talk to Ron, Strawberry meandered over to us and stopped in between us; fully expecting to be loved on. She looked up at us with those sappy love-y dove-y goats eyes of hers and how could we refuse?! She has been such a blessing to us and our farm and I am so thankful for her. My sister's fence was not powerful enough to hold her in which was sad for them, but since they sent her over here they can come visit anytime and know that she's got a good home and by the look on her face I'd say she's happy! She has given us two little goat kids and will hopefully deliver more in April. We've been milking her since she kidded and it's been almost two years! Her production is down now, but still gives me about a quart a day, so I've nothing to complain about! She follows us around like a puppy and moos similarly to a cow when we're too far away from her or she's calling the rest of the herd. She snores when she sleeps, slurps when drinking water and tries to sneak into the grain room almost daily when I take her off the milking stand but I adore her. Thank you Amy for this wonderful blessing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

freedom and support

We are a homeschooling family and a friend of mine once said to me, "So you really have your kids all the time?!?!" To which I replied, "Well yes, and I wouldn't have it any other way, it's kind of why I had kids...." I was shocked to hear that at first and then I giggled and thought, well it's all about perspective really isn't' it? She cannot imagine living my life, nor I hers. I guess that's why there is so much truth in the statement, "it takes all kinds" isn't there! So tonight I'm thankful to be supported in the freedom to choose homeschooling, the ability to do it, thankful to those who went before us and paved the way. I'm thankful my husband has a career that provides well enough to allow us to live on one income so I can educate our children. I'm thankful for the freedom and flexibility homeschooling provides. I know homeschooling isn't for everybody, it goes against mainstream, against the flow, but I'm also very thankful it works for our family.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

in a world gone mad

I am thankful for the quiet.

It's been one of those days where no matter what you do it seems like everything in the world is transpiring against you you suck you into the world that I'm certain has gone mad. I don't know what has happened to common sense, but I wish it would return.

I'm not trying to start a political debate, an argument or anything of the sort. I'm not asking for yours or sharing my political views. I don't have all the answers to the problems of the United States or the world, but neither do I believe anybody else does either. I'm pretty comfortable saying the new TSA 'security' measures would make me uncomfortable because I find it extremely invasive and don't believe it makes us any more safe than we'd be otherwise. Most of the people I've talked to feel the same way. Again, I don't have all the answers, but then I don't look to others to solve my problems either. I take responsibility for my actions and solve my own problems. That's not to say that I don't seek advice from those people whom I consider 'wise counsel' however if I choose to follow that advice and that advice was wrong I don't blame them. I'm an adult and in my world; that's not what adults do. (Or should I say that's not what adults are supposed to do.) Yet I'm finding it to be the case more and more and quite frankly I'm sick of it! When did we go from not being able to wait to "grow-up and be on our own," making our own way in the world and not "having people tell us what to do all the time" to thinking that we are incapable of taking care of ourselves, looking to other people or the government for all the answers and needing our hand held all the time to make it through life? C'mon people! Enough is ENOUGH! It makes me wonder how the early settlers and pioneers ever made it here, there was no one telling them what to do or how to do it, guaranteeing this, that and everything else, knowing that their survival was solely up to them. Sure some failed, some died and some went back home, but lots made it. Yes, it was scary, dangerous and hard work. It took lots of courage, tenacity and hope but isn't it worth it? Isn't that noble to have made it respectfully on your own? Families working together toward something, in my eyes is far more honorable that just having it handed to you.

Again, I'm not asking for political views here (or sharing mine) but I wanted to share with you what I consider to be a glimmer of hope that common sense has a chance to make a much welcome return.

Please take a few minutes to watch the video, especially the well stated remarks at the end. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We packed our boxes today, have you?




Operation Christmas Child 2010

two of my biggest blessings


You'll have to forgive me if I seem a bit nostalgic or weepy, this Gratitude Challenge had reminded me of so many many things I'm thankful for.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

love and friendship

This picture; though it was taken several years ago, epitomizes Faith and Andrew and is a dear favorite of mine. I'm so thankful for the beautiful relationship between the two of them, I could not ask for a better one. When I was pregnant with Andrew and found out he was a boy I was shocked, I was certain I would have another daughter, then the shock turned into concern. Not that I was concerned about having a boy, I was excited about that, but concerned that Faith wouldn't have a little sister close to her age to play with and share secrets and clothes with. I never had a brother, so I had no idea of the beautiful bond that could form between a sister and brother. They are the happiest people I know. There was no reason for my concern at all, it was all figured out way beforehand and it amazes me. My first insight as to the beautiful friendship that would eventually be almost as strong as a mother and child was about a week or so after we brought Andrew home. Faith was only about 17 months old at the time, still very much a baby herself, but love knows no age. We were in the living room and I'd laid Andrew on the carpet on a blanket to stretch and wiggle and Faith was playing with her toys in the general area. I sat down in a recliner and just watched. Beaming as only a proud new mother of the most beautiful children on Earth could. Andrew stretched, wiggled and cooed for a bit then started fussing. Nothing awful, just a little bit. Faith heard it hurried over to him, scooched down and covered him up with another blanket that laid beside him. Then gently leaned over him kissed him and patted his belly and said 'It's ok." I had just witnessed the most pure act of love I'd ever seen and it filled my heart with such joy, I was sure my heart would pop! The tears flowed like a fountain, I glanced over at Ron and he too had witnessed it and with his chin quivering smiled at me in awe of the moment. It is one of those moments I'll never forget.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I am so thankful this place found me. A place where I am home. A place that felt like home the first time I visited the property. A place my children can run and play and grow, and be healthy and happy. A place I can raise my family. A very private place and quiet place. There have been lots of places where I really enjoyed living, and a few not so much, but none quite like where I am now, my place called home.

that's a lot of feet!

Yesterday I looked out into the field and thought "Wow! That's a lot of feet!" I counted and between all these feet, the cat, dogs, laying hens, pigs, kids and I there were 102!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

with all my heart and soul

I am thankful every day for this man.

Growing up my grandmother told me, 'Don't wait for the one you can live with, but wait for the one you cannot live without.' I'm glad I took her advice.

Ron, I'm thankful for the life we've built together all these years, through the good times, through the hard times and the times that we grew together instead of apart. I'm thankful you work as hard as you do to provide for our family. I'm thankful that you are kind, loving, patient and think things through before acting impulsively, (we cannot have two of those in the marriage...) and I'm thankful that you love me in spite of my faults. We've been married for 15 years and though it doesn't seem possible, I love more now then I did then. There's a song that Brad Paisley sings called "Then" and the chorus goes:

"Now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you girl (Ron)
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it's ever been
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then."

I think it's accurate in my feelings for you. We have come so far and I did think I loved you then; I did, but it's grown and changed and and expanded in ways I never thought possible then. Thank you Ron for sharing your life with me, for the children we have, for the hopes and dreams we have for the future, for the ups and downs of the past we've shared, for a lifetime of memories. I love you with all my heart and soul and look forward to many more happy years together.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

is that the moon on my finger?!

I saw a picture similar to this in a magazine I think and I thought I'd try to get a similar shot. Not what I was hoping for, but fun just the same.

I'm thankful for beautiful things







like sunsets, each one different, beautiful and brings with it the hope of a fresh new day.

Where'd you say we're going tomorrow?!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

grown-up chat

Every week while my children are at AWANAS I get to sit with one of my favorite people and have mostly uninterrupted grown-up chat and it is wonderful! This lady is my mother's sister and someone I've really enjoyed getting to know on an adult level over the years and we have some wonderful conversations. We call it therapy. :-) I'm not one for sitting on my duff doing nothing so I'll bring along a sock I'm knitting on or something to keep my hands busy while I run my mouth and she'll bring a crochet project to work on. In fact she taught me a couple crochet stitches! It's a wonderful break from the farm and kids and life really, and it's so nice to be silly, and giggle and tell stories, she's got some hilarious car stories let me tell you. We've both laughed so hard we had tears running down our faces! We've shared struggles and hardships and encouraged each other too. I look forward to our 'therapy sessions' each week and miss them in the summer when the AWANA club isn't meeting. My kids are going to age out of the group shortly but when that happens I'll have to find another way to continue therapy. We live over two hours apart so this is kind of a meet in the middle place. So tonight I'm thankful for my Aunt, her willingness to listen, (she's a great listener!) helpful wisdom and encouragement, love, all the great stories, and her friendship.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

good fences and good neighbors

The other day we woke up late and generally that does not make for an ideal start to the morning, but we manage. Hungry barn animals and dogs that are crossing their legs do not greet you like they are happy you are there, it's more like "My eyeballs are floating I have to pee so bad!" (Dogs) or "It's about time you showed up with breakfast! I'm STARVING!" (Barn animals) Then to compound that the kids were...shall we say needing redirection... it was not a good morning, and yes, it was a Monday. Why do you think I renamed the alpaca?! So after all that unfolded I was needless to say shocked to glance out my living room window and see my neighbor and another gentleman standing in my driveway looking in the direction of the barn. Andrew asked if he could run out and say "Hi!" I said sure and went out just a minute after him, I was in the process of making tea, it was likely "tension tamer."

As I walked into the yard I glanced around the yard and nothing seemed out of place, much to my relief, when I approached the neighbor and the other man Andrew was in mid story hurling back to me the events of hoe the two men came to be standing in my yard. The pigs had gotten out!!! I can only imagine the look on my face, sheer horror I'm sure as that is certainly what I felt like on the inside. I was promptly introduced to the unknown gentleman and was quick to discover where he lived in relation to me. OH. MY. WORD!!! He and his wife had just recently finished planting tulip bulbs and looked out or were out in the yard that morning and were shocked to find two black and white pigs rooting up the area where they had just planted the tulips! The day was only just beginning and it was already a real corker! They managed to shoo the pigs out, but had no idea where they came from or anywhere to put them until they could figure it out. He tried to rope the bigger of the two; seeing as they were friendly and not aggressive he was not afraid of them. But I don't know how many of you have ever tried to rope 250-300 pounds of pure muscle, but those pigs will go where. ever. they. want! This gentleman found himself on the losing end of a rope with a squealing well muscled pig who was having nothing to do with going in the direction he wanted her to go. So I'm told.

I'm not sure how exactly it came to them to try our road, oh, did I mention that when the pigs escaped they took off from the farm up the driveway, down our dirt road and onto a second road? Why they ever left our yard is beyond me, but suffice it to say that I was seeing dollar signs in property damage that I'd need to repair from my 'wild' pigs! Ah-hem, I mean these girls are so wild they sit like a dog on command... I checked with the neighbors and they didn't do any damage or eat the tulip bulbs, much to my relief and they didn't hurt anybody or cause too much mischief. They did eat all the apple drops on this gentleman's yard, and a bit of garlic bread I'm told. It turned out that my neighbor (who knew the pigs were ours) and this other gentleman were just on their way back across the street after putting the pigs back in the pen and looking back over their shoulders to make sure the gate would hold. I was told they tried ring the doorbell, but it didn't work. Our doorbell doesn't work, hasn't since we moved in, tried to have it fixed but it's very similar to the doorbell on the Cosby show, instead of a ding! it was more like a weeeeoouughnntttttt! dingggggggernt! Yeah, it was annoying, so we unplugged it. Besides most people know we're usually pretty busy doing all that we do and it's better if they call first to make sure we'll be home before they pop in. Or if they do pop in by chance we're likely outside anyway, or the dogs will announce a visitor. But they know now it doesn't work. Oddly enough the dogs didn't even hear the ruckus.

Now you may be asking how it came to be that the pigs were out in the first place. Well, let me tell you. The night before it was freezing cold and freezing rain; and since the pigs will not leave the shelter I've re-built only about a million times up, (Bethany seems to think it's an excellent place to scratch her butt on) and I was in no mood to rebuild it in that kind of weather so I opted to rearrange the animals in the barn for the night and put the pigs in there. I'd spent part of the weekend running some new fencing and hadn't finished it due to freezing fingers, if I had the pigs would not have been running around town. I knew the girls (pigs) were not too excited about being inside, but I felt better knowing they were not out in that cold weather wishing they hadn't knocked down their shelter, again. I knew I'd put them back out in the pen the next morning when I did the morning barn chores. The stalls in the barn do not have latches on them to the outside, never had a need, they slide open and work well - except when you've got to pigs that will go where. ever. they. please! They do respect the electric fence though, thankfully! The two men had shut the pigs into the pen and were on their way home with a great story about a crazy morning wrangling pigs back home to an even crazier neighbor I'm sure. I thanked them both wholeheartedly and both were kind and told me no problem and they were glad to help. They were glad the girls were so friendly too!

Want to know something even more embarrassing to me but you may enjoy it. The next day we went into the town hall to vote, when I walked in I was greeted by, 'Well, I'm glad to hear you got your pigs back!' This was from the wife of the man I get my hay from who lives on the other side of town! The runaway, seemingly homeless pigs were the talk of the town - on election day not doubt! Does that say something about the candidates we had to choose from or is it more like pork barrel spending?! I rarely blush, my face felt as hot as the summer sun! It did give some excitement to an elderly neighbor who lived up the road in the opposite direction from the one the pigs took, but still it was excitement and to be the talk of the town well, that was a bit too much excitement for me!

So tonight I'm thankful for my awesome neighbors, who even before this incident I thought very highly of. (I'm also thankful they were not afraid to wrangle the girls.) They all welcomed us into the neighborhood within days of moving here with fresh baked pies and cookies and warm wishes. They don't mind my children talking their ears off while out in the yard doing yard work or their offers to help. It's a phone call in a power outage during a nor'easter to let you know if you're heat is out they've got a wood stove with a roaring fire and we are welcome there anytime that makes this neighborhood warm, friendly and my home. Before we moved here we lived in another town, much larger than this and never knew most of our neighbors, and it wasn't because we didn't try. But for so many reasons I'll take these neighbors every time! Thank you God for placing us in this neighborhood at this time with these neighbors. Thank you neighbors for being as wonderful as you are!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

it's made me who I am


Like it or not, like me or not I am who I am because of the experiences I've had and learned from. Hopefully. Some lessons I've liked so much I've had to learn them again! I've always tried to live my life without regrets and maybe that sounds cliche', young, inexperienced, naive or what have you but it's the truth. I've had good days, bad days and in between days. I've been hurt, lied to, ashamed, maxed out, overjoyed, happy, angry, had my heart broken and felt like I was on top of the world and a myriad of other things as have we all, but in the end it's that which we are dealt in life that shapes who we are, the things that we do or don't do, the experiences we have help mold us into who we are. The other part of that is how we deal with those experiences, feelings and emotions is equally important to who we are. I was trying to explaining to my children that two different people can look at a picture and see something completely different and yet it is still the same picture. Some might be drawn to the blue color of the sky others might enjoy the yellow of the sunflowers, and it's the same with life. When we are in a less that ideal situation one person might panic and the other might keep their wits about them based on the experiences they both have had. And like I told my children both 'visions' are ok. We're not all meant to walk the same path, I believe we are constantly being prepared for what lies ahead, good or bad. My life now is SOOOO different from where I thought I'd be at this point in my life, So. Very. Different. But I have no regrets and I couldn't enjoy my life more! Had I not had the experiences I did earlier I would not be where I am now and the thought of that makes me sad. So I meander through life trying to keep in mind there are more colors in the painting than the one I see and hope next time I look at the painting I see them all. All the while waiting for the next experience to come along or in some cases seeking it out! So the thing that I'm thankful for tonight is experience, outlook and perspective.

Monday, November 8, 2010

as frustrating as it is

I'm thankful for some technology, when it works! I really enjoy the ability to pause live tv. I find blogging extremely liberating, I love being able to take a million photos in order to get 'the shot' and then crop out what I don't want in it, and I especially enjoy the ability to correspond via email at 2 am, or whenever. I don't want to give up my power steering, a/c when I'm canning or wash clothes in a pot or on a rock. I love the heat of a wood stove but I also enjoy the instant heat that comes from a flip of a switch, especially when I'm coming in from just having shoveled off (or fallen off) the roof. I think I could give up my microwave, most cable networks and coffee if necessary, but leave me my computer - though if you wanted to upgrade to a post dinosaur model, I'd let you! And don't make me go back to dial up!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just so you know...

....these things I'm thankful for are not in a particular order, I've got a whole bunch of things that I'm thankful for and posting them one at a time...

Of all the things I'm thankful for I think the one I'm most thankful for is the cross. I'm so thankful for my salvation and the mansion being built for me. I'm humbled by the thought of what happened on the cross and eternally grateful for what it means.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I do love them Sam I am!!

I love green eggs and ham! Well, let me clarify, I love 'ham - on the hoof," as in alive, my goodness am I going to miss my girls... As silly as this post may seem I'm thrilled beyond words and so excited and thankful for this 1 single (so far) green egg! I've only been waiting for nearly 3 years to get one. I had 2 colored egg layers from the last batch of hens I raised; 1 turned out to be a rooster and a mean one at that, and the other 1 laid white-ish eggs. I was kind of bummed about that... Then this year, I ordered 4 colored egg layers, 1 drowned, another was eaten my the fox, 1 started laying today(!!) and I'm still waiting on the other 1, hopefully she'll lay blue eggs, wouldn't that be cool?! Although.... as per the requirement to be a cast member of the "Misfit Farm" you have to have a special uniqueness... I ordered 3 leghorns this time for white eggs, thinking they would look nice all mixed with the varying shades of brown eggs and the colored eggs, well 1 of the 3 leghorns lays white eggs. So in all likelihood it'll be a purple egg with polka dots! I could go for that!

Friday, November 5, 2010

to sleep perhaps to dream

The other post for today was technically for yesterday, but I got home really late and had to boot up the computer due to a power outage so it was shortly after midnight when I was able to post, but it is what it is right?

Well it's been a hectic two days and it's been a good two days, so I'm not complaining, but tonight I'm chilled having been out in the damp cold night air and I'm beyond exhausted, I'm extremely thankful for my bed, flannel sheets and an electric blanket! It's where I'm headed in about 10 minutes.

I'm also thankful for the flexibility of the life I have, I noticed this morning when I was doing barn chores that my does were wagging tails and exhibiting other signs of being in heat so I figured a trip up to visit with a nice 'experienced' buck was suddenly 'on the docket' for the afternoon. I called the owner of the said bucks and we made arrangements to meet after he got home from work. Up country we drove after loading the girls and it was halfway successful. Katie, the younger of the two does and daughter of Strawberry would more likely 'participate' I was told by the buck's owner. Well, Katie showed him! She would not have anything to do with the buck, she tucked her tail down tight and hid behind me! Which consequently ended up made me smell buck like... ugh! Anyway, it didn't appear that Strawberry would co-operate, because of her behaviour, she was not a doe to behave wantonly, she'd more of a hard to get type of girl... besides, that young buck was just trying to 'be' with her daughter. ::Shuddering:: She was more interested in the "Big Daddy" buck that strutted out into the 'deed' area. Oh. My. Word!! He. Is. AWESOME!! I cannot wait to see the babies!! AND he throws mostly girls! ::doing a happy dance, tyring not to count the chicks before the hatch, but oooooh I cannot wait!:: Did I mention he was a nice looking buck? Later we went into the barn and saw some of his daughters and WOW! So anyway, we're half way to the breeding 'goal' for the year, if Katie had stood, we'd be at 100%, but now we get to load her again and head up country, fortunately it's not too far and I have a pretty flexible lifestyle, which I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for a...

...freezer full of farm raised food!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

George the Optimist

I'm thankful for alpacas who are optimistic! :-) This video was shot tonight by Faith. I've been trying to get a good video of George, (the white alpaca) for days now, as he has got the CUTEST high pitched hum! To me; when he does this, it makes me think he's so optimistic about well, whatever an alpaca can be optimistic about I guess! He's so soft, adorable, outgoing, friendly and optimistic, what more could you ask for?! Enjoy!

Thank You Veterans and Active Duty

I'm writing this tonight while waiting for the election results to start trickling in (hoping the candidates I voted for win, though they seldom do.) and thinking that today I'm thankful for our Armed Forces. Those brave men and women who take up arms and defend this great nation. Thank you for your service, sacrifice, and willingness to put yourselves in harms way to keep our country safe. To the families whom you love and miss you desperately when you're away, those that worry about you and pray for you, and rejoice when you return or mourn the loss if you do not, I thank you too. We owe our liberty and freedom to you and those whom have served before you, and simply saying thank you does not seem adequate for all that you do or have done, so I humbly say thank you and say a prayer for your safety tonight and all other nights you are in harms way. May you all return home to those you left behind and those of us who deeply appreciate your effort. You make this great nation proud!

Monday, November 1, 2010

My 300th post!

And it's about ... chicken! pretty crazy since I'm a vegetarian huh?! Well, I guess it goes with the name Twistie...

This is one of the broilers from the last batch of broilers I raised on the farm and I roasted it in the oven tonight for my husband. Seeing as it's the first oven roasted I've ever made I don't think it came out too bad. It's 'blogworthy' at least. (Yeah, I just made that word up, sorry.) Ron seemed to enjoy it.

I am thankful these birds are tasty, (so I hear) and that are nourishing my husband well.

Welcome November

This is one of the Broad Breasted Bronze Turkeys we raised here this summer and seeing as it's November... they are headed out soon. I'm thankful today for the lessons I've learned raising all the broilers and these turkeys this summer. I'm thankful I am in a place and position that allows me to do this and raise them in a way that allows them to be what they were created to be. Trying to work with nature instead of against it. These turkeys were pastured and allowed to eat bugs, grubs, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers that had grown too large and seedy for us, grass, weed seeds and a variety of other turkey delicacies. I hope they've had a good life and I'm thankful that I'm able to provide turkey to my family and friends a bird that has had a good life and hopefully it'll grace their Thanksgiving table as a reminder that it is a good life we all have.
** This picture was taken last night by Ron. I'd been outside most of the day wrapping up details before winter arrives and settles in like a snake bite. It had been spitting snow off and on all day it it was COLD!! Normally my face is not bright red and I don't normally walk around with a Rudolpfesque nose.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 Gratitude Challenge

Wanting to give thanks!
A friend and fellow blogger directed me to this challenge and since I try to live my life thankful for everything, I thought this would be a fun way to voice my thankfulness. I hope y'all will join me, if you're so inclined, you can visit here to pick up the badge for it.

My girls have been busy!

Ahhh, finally! My new girls have started laying! We've had about 150 +- chickens on the farm since the first batch of broilers, hatched chicks and replacement layers arrived, and during that time we were getting 1-2 eggs every couple of days. Talk about annoying! This was a very welcome sight in the nesting box this morning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

So how many injuries does it take?

The boys have been here for almost a week and are settling in brilliantly! They are not even bothered by the constant handling of their fleece and hearing "ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh you're soooooooo soft!" then a squeal of sheer delight! I think with so many of them they take turns deciding who'll be next, but they really are good sports about it. My mother told me last night that I never blogged about the "experience" of getting them here. Oh yeah, right I forgot to do that... it's a story I thinkg you'll find.... well interesting at least. Here it goes.

Last Saturday we had a 'get together' at my parents home and it usually involves too much food and too much fun, but like my father-in-law says, "too much is just right!" You know the kind of gathering that involves food, family, fun, cousins, crazy aunt Twistie, etc, well that makes for an all day event type thing (especially when you have to work around two families farm chores, milking schedules and 4-H meetings), but I was also supposed to pick up the alpacas...

The afternoon was winding down and it was getting late in the afternoon, as you know the sun is setting earlier and earlier... Well, I decided it was time to go get them and head home. My dad was graciously allowed me to use his truck (which has a cap) to transport my farm animals. I really need a trailer... I've got a tonneau cover for the bed of my truck, but that wouldn't work, hog panels, tarps and ratchet straps, mmmm nope! Not a chance! I got ready to go and asked who was going to tag along on this adventure, my sister who's always ready for a gathering of people and/or party jumped at the chance - mind you this is the sister that IS NOT a farmer or animal person really unless it's a petting zoo... My other sister had gone home or I think she'd have come if just to laugh at the whole crazy situation; my dad scoffed, hmm, maybe he had an idea as to the calamity this would become.... So I asked mom, saying to her well you went with me when I was getting Strawberry bred, and helped me wrangle the pigs back onto the truck at the fair, so you have to come! What do you know, she did! She changed her shoes, flip flops are not proper farm footwear, are they mom? and got in the truck. He he he! Off we went. Ok so I had Jen, my sister, call for directions, I felt like I could get back there no problem, but cell reception is sporadic at best out there and did I mention it was getting dark? I'd only been there one other time and came in from an entirely different direction, I was not interested in being lost.

So we arrive at the house and the owners are out in the pasture with the alpacas, mom drives the truck over to where the gates opens and the boys (alpacas) are... shall we say ....energetically bouncing around the pasture, they smelled a rat! It was most likely me and the multi species oders from my farm off my barn shoes, I don't think our farm smells bad at all, but occasionally I've gotten a whiff of my barn shoes and whew! but I digress. Seeing as one owner has seriously messed up her back to the point of needing surgery she would not be able to wrangle any of the freaked out boys. Her husband, my sister, mother, children, and children of the guests they had were all in the pasture, just past dusk trying to catch the alpacas. Now would be a good time to mention that they live WAY out off the beaten path and there are NO streetlights or many lights at all really. The pasture area was, well, large enough for all 5 alpacas so it was not easy convincing them to stand still and let us strange people walk up to them and put a halter on and be led out, they just were not comfortable with that. So we made a wall of people and cornered them, all together and eased the pressure off them and they settled down a bit. We went in for one of them and managed to get one, but the others scattered, so we had to repeat the process several times.

We get one caught and haltered and start to lead him out to the where the woman owner was so we could do shots before bringing them here. I was helping, or at lest making an attempt at it and the plunger wouldn't depress, so I asked her to check it out for me. Well she took the syringe and pulled it back slightly and redirected it, right into the tip of my finger! It was totally an accident and all it really did was scratch my finger as I jerked it away. It bled a little but I've been vaccinated and wormed now! LOL! So we start loading them up, one at a time, alpacas are herd animals and they were being loaded into the back of a strange vehicle by strange people in the dark alone, they were a little freaked out. I expected that no matter how we did it that would be the case to some degree.

If you're keeping a tally as to the injuries, sharpen your pencil! So far it's just the current owner's back and my finger, but as we load one on the truck it's leg slips and kicks my mother in the leg, leaving an oblong plum shaped (and colored) bruise on her thigh. The husband was hit in the 'family jewels' area and doubled over in pain and in doing so wrenched his back. I found out later that it cost him a trip to the ER because of the pain. While in the pasture chasing another one down my mother's foot got stepped on, (I'm betting she's glad that she didn't have her flip flops on and was likely thinking "And I'm doing this, again, why???" I was able to get one against the fence and once they are caught they stopped fighting, but the others had just run by us and he thought he'd give it a go to be with his herdmates and I'd just stepped on a rock or in a divot or something and turned my ankle a bit so I let him go to prevent further injuries. My foot was also stepped on at some point, but was wearing boots, so it didn't' really even hurt, but a tally mark is a tally mark, right? Andrew managed to get kicked in the thigh somewhere along the way. I don't know how many of you know this, but alpacas and llamas do not have hooves, they have a soft pad and two toenails on their feet. It's not a hoof like a goat or horse, so it you get stepped on or kicked it's not say, pleasant, but it's not as painful as say a horse. I remember walking back into the pasture to halter another on and seeing my sister who I mentioned is NOT an animal person with her arms around an alpaca saying "I'm not the weakest link, I am not the weakest link!" I guess she'd let a few slip through her hands and was determined not to let it happen again! Hey, I'll give her an A for effort!

Ok, so we're getting them loaded and it's getting a tad crowded in the truck and as I'm in there with them unhaltering and handing out halters and leads and holding them back I got knocked around a bit, again it's nothing bad, just stressed animals. BUT on a good note, after we got a couple in there the rest were more willing to hop in to be with their buddies. Ahhh! They are finally all loaded and the tailgate is up and the cap is shut, latch is secured, or so we think.

So we get them all loaded and head back over to the house to warm up and chat for just a few minutes. Did I mention it was dark and cold that night? So we thaw inside, and decide that it's time to start home, head back out, this time I'm to drive my dads truck, after all it is my livestock now, I took a peek at the back of the truck and it looks a bit odd, I step closer and see one alpaca standing up. The others have relaxed and laid down, yea, I thought. I get closer and peek in and there is only one alpaca! The other four somehow manages to not only unlatch the gate but hop out of the truck and are now roaming around the neighborhood! Yup, dad must have known something like that would happen and that's why he stayed home...

Fortunately one of the boys is all white and one has a white face or we'd never have found them that night and fortunately the guest who was visiting had a HUGE Great Dane dog and these alpacas love big dogs and went right to him, she walked him into the pasture and they all followed! So I backed the truck over to the gate, again and we reload all the boys, only this time there was no stop at the gate for shots and the full moon was out which lit up the pasture better than before. This time they all loaded much faster. One was so eager to get back into the truck he literally leaped in so fast he bumped his head on the roof and ricocheted into my head which smacked the side of the truck, as I had no time to react or guard against it. Ouch! Needless to say we were extra diligent about the latch and tied it down, I did not need to be heading down the highway with alpacas leaping out of the back of my truck!

Finally we arrive home to the farm and mind you it's nearly 11 pm! I'm blessed (and I mean that honestly) with a barn that has lights, lots of lights! I was able to back the truck right up to the front of the barn and stood just to the side of the tailgate so they couldn't pull a Houdini and escape! We opened the back of the truck and let them listen, look, smell, hear and talk for a little while. Our llama Dakota was in the stall closest to the action and was very interested in all the goings on. His ears pricked forward and he started talking to them right away. Garlic, thought it was time to be fed again so he started stomping and nickering to me, the chickens who heard but could not see all the commotion started clucking and squawking and the goats woke up, yawned, stretched and jumped up on the door to see what was going on. After a bit of coaxing the boy that was last in and therefore closest to me was the first out. It just so happens he's also the one with neurological issues and when he jumped out he landed wrong and slipped in the isle and landed with a "kathud!" Realizing they could now get out the others started springing out of the back of the truck like fleas off a dog! One landed on top of the alpaca on the floor who was in the process of getting up and shook himself off like a person coming out of hypnosis, wondering what the heck just happened! It all happened in the matter of just a few seconds, but when I could I went over to him to see if he was ok and it seemed he was, but how can I tell really, he's got neurological issues.... I'm not sure what the tally for injuries is, but I know it was a lot and I'm so thankful they were not serious.

After we got them all settled in, grained, hayed, watered and placed the handful of poop where I wanted them to go to the bathroom, yes, I really had to do that. It works too, it's a communal dung pile and makes for some pretty easy clean up! We left them alone for the night and headed into the house to tell Ron all about it and the crazy time we'd had that evening. He did like he usually does, listened, smiled and shook his head. Thinking all the while I'm as crazy as a loon and he's glad he's the banker. Computers don't kick or spit!

good quote

"But farming! Farming takes our hands and shows us new holidays, new rituals, new and exciting rights of passage. Or rather, old ones that we are reclaiming. Rights as old as civilization, as genuine as any human experience can be. The work of hay, lambs, gardens, and geese: this is the original work of people. It is a lifestyle that sustains us, perhaps the only lifestyle that actually keeps you alive. Perhaps when society lost much of this work is when we started making up ceremonies to fill in all the white space. People with loaded hay trucks can see their effort and know their worth."

Jenna Wogenrich
Cold Antler Farm