Friday, April 22, 2011

a spring evening

I walked out of the barn tonight after the evening chores with two pockets full of eggs and a nearly full milk pail, as well as some much needed (all to myself) "barn time" after a less than wonderful week; looked up into the most perfect clear spring night sky, heard the soothing sound of the spring peepers, felt the kiss of a cool breeze on my cheek, took a deep breath and smiled. This is my favorite time of year and if I live to be 100 I'll only get to enjoy it 100 times, so I'm savoring each one.

help needed please

If you were to walk into the soap section of any store and pick up a bar of soap that was called 'Country Girl' what would it smell like?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

40 days, 40 bags Challenge update #2

I tallied up my bags yesterday and thanks to a recent bit of basement flooding I'm up to 51 bag GONE and another one started! I'm thinking that I'll need to go past the 40 days because, well life happened and I've got more to purge. This has been so wonderful!

How are you coming along with your 40 bags in 40 day challenge?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


*Photo credit R. Fleury
You see, I did it! Last night I successfully drove a tractor with attached implement through an obstacle course and didn't hit a single cone! THEN I had to back it up! Yikes! In my mind there was a whole lotta everything that could go wrong here, but the instructor on the ground helped and coached me through it and though I was in the cones slightly crooked but I'd done it, and I figured it wasn't too bad for a chick who'd only ever just a week ago driven a tractor for the first (and certainly not the last,) time. I was so excited and proud of myself. THEN I hopped onto a skid steer and despite the overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia, (which I forced myself to deal with because I knew this would be FUN!) I managed to drive that through an obstacle course as well. Yea! They were both very loud but it was nice, because a body could certainly get lots of thinking done on one of those machines. WOW was that fun!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

on the basement flooding...

In the past hour I've bailed about 50 gallons of water out of the basement. I think we might have a leak... ;-) Ron and the kids are in bed - I think I've got a long night ahead of me. This amount of water, after the kids and I bailed and cleaned up the flood all afternoon, calls for a bit more ibuprofen... and a pot of strong coffee! Sleep well folks!

in just over a year...

My kids have been part of the 4-H dairy club in the next county over; which entails for me over an hours drive each way, as well as carting them all over the state to meetings and shows and events, which I don't mind doing most of the time because I can see the direct and obvious benefit. And I don't just specifically mean in agriculture or dairy actually, I'm talking about the confidence and personal growth, I'm so blessed to have a life that allows me to be there and a witness to it.

Anyway, they've been a part of this club for just over a year now and yesterday took part in their second State Dairy Judging Contest. I watched them confidently walk around and with a slightly more knowledgeable eye place the cows, heifers and calves where they thought they should be placed according to their conformation. They were not afraid to tap the leg to get the cows to 'stand correctly' or get in between the calves to see which one had a better topline or what have you. They didn't have to stand in front of the judges and not only place them but give reasons because of their ages, but Andrew was able to practice with one of the other leaders so he's going to try it next year.

I found out late last night that Andrew took 3rd place and Faith took 6th! I'm so happy for them and if they stick to it I think it's likely that at least one of them, if not both, will be headed to the Eastern States on a judging team in the future!

I have to go now, the kids just came up from bringing their dirty laundry to the basement and said it's REALLY flooded. So much for a day of rest!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

where did he come from??!!

On the way home tonight; after a very long couple of days, lots of miles and even more in gas, (hence the lack of posts this week) 'Young Squire' has what we've now dubbed an "Andrewisim." We'd been all over the state today as part of the 4-H dairy judging that the kids take part in now ans have learned so much by participating in; and dairy farms are notorious for a certain 'permeating aroma' which we don't exactly mind nor are we overly fond of... Andrew in fact relishes smelling like it. That being said he knew that a bath was in his immediate future, (and he loves baths, so I'm not sure where this came from but bare with's Andrew) he decided being ever 'resourceful' with his time decided to pull the shoulder of his shirt down and start licking himself. He smiled sheepishly at me as I looked in the rear-view not sure I was actually seeing what I was looking at and not sure I wanted to fully understand it if I did! With my face in a very screwed up and puzzled look I asked what are you doing?! With that adorable freckled nose and wonderful impish grin of his that certainly could melt the heart of even the most hardened criminal said, "I'm giving myself a human shower!" and proceeded to lick the other shoulder.

I know most people call me Twistie and for good reason, and I'm sort of known for being an oddball, but can we at least blame Ron for this one?! I don't think it's possible to have gotten all his wierdness from me!? Right?

Just a note for those of you who have stopped laughing and are now likely thinking then what happened, he stopped immediately. And yes, will be in the bathtub after this post is published and will use actual water and soap!

Monday, April 11, 2011

the time of my life!

I've always been a Massey Furgeson/Farmall/International Harvester kind of girl.

This picture is of me as a child, and quite possibly could have been the start of my love for this crazy wonderful life I'm living. The kind of life that brings such exquisite joy and heartbreaking sorrow, the kind of life you cannot imagine living any other way. The kind of life that brings simple joys like watching a chick hatch in the tender, chubby hands of your child and witnessing the wonder unfold in their hands and eyes, or the thrill of picking a ripe juicy tomato from the vine you started from seed, still warm from the sun. The life that brings the heartbreak of loosing a beloved dog who's daily joy came from protecting her family, hearing of the loss of a friends barn, grieving with them the loss, or the wait; that seems like an eternity when you've got an animal down, for the vet to arrive. The serenity that comes while milking a goat or watching the sun set with colors so bold and brilliant they take your breath away. It's a life worth living and one you cannot help but enjoy.

Last week I told you that despite my best efforts to remain anonymous and take a tractor safety class I was found out so here I am spilling my guts about it in an attempt to make myself work harder than ever to pass the tests both written and driving.

Tonight was the first time I'd ever driven a tractor; I mean a real tractor, not the lawn tractor we use to mow here. My stomach was in knots and a mixture of excitement, fear, nerves and pride. Pride because I knew that I'd be able to do it, I can drive a stick (and LOVE that), so I was familiar with a clutch but still this was uncharted territory so it was nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time. Excitement because this was another step on the path I was born to be on, and fear, because of the possibility of faliure. The class was divided in two and I was to be on the Kubota tractor; not a bad tractor, though not my romantic idealistic tractor either, but I had to start somewhere, right? Our group walked over to the tractor and did a visual inspection as we've learned to do in class. Boy there are lots of things to look for before hopping on and getting to work, we were told that pilots always do a pre-flight inspection and it would really save time, hassle, and repairs in the long run if we were to get in the habit of doing this. Good to know!

We stood milling around and chatting while waiting our turns and I struck up a conversation with some siblings that both were wearing 4-H Dairy Team clothing, I was quite impressed that both of these kids were so knowledgeable about the work that goes on on their farm and and to see their enthusiasm about it. The younger of the two and the son of the dairy farmer was pretty excited that they'd just that day exceeded a new farm record, they'd shipped just under 42,000 pound of milk! Which equates to about 5250 gallons of milk! As I watched some of the other students hop on and go and I was moving closer to the front of the line the knot in my stomach tightened, I tried to will it to loosen but my attempts were futile. While I was excited to try it; which is part of the reason I took the class, I was still certain I'd be the one who hit or backed over the cones while backing it up into the imaginary garage. I'm a safe driver and pretty spatially aware, but it was the fear of failure and lack of experience that was over riding my brain.

Since it seemed that the other class was moving drivers through faster than our class so I was sent over to that tractor, a shiny new John Deere with huge knobby tires! I got in line to wait my turn on that tractor and waited and waited and waited, the class I was originally in was now finished and walking over to rejoin the rest of the class. Oh. My. God! I thought for sure that now the entire class would be there to watch my first attempt at driving a tractor and to see what I was sure would be an epic failure, mercifully one of the instructors took the rest of the class inside for a snack! Phew! Dodged a bullet there. There was just now one girl in line ahead of me and when she stepped off I suddenly felt the knot loosen and a wave of excitement washed over me. I climbed up using the proper three three point contact they'd told us to use and plunked myself in the seat. I let out a very girly squeal when the seat sank down very unexpectedly and reached for the steering wheel, took a deep breath, fastened the seat belt as the instructor stepped up beside the tractor and showed me what I'd need to do. Listening intently I did what I was instructed and once I had the tractor on and in gear, I released the clutch and took off. Talk about a powerful feeling! more powerful than any drug! I was successfully driving a tractor, albeit slowly and in a parking lot, but I'd conquered my fear and was having the time of my life! Oh my word was that fun! I know why little boys who played with tractors grow up to be men who drive tractors, because it's fun! It was at that moment as I was making the turn to prepare to back up that I knew that this was the life I was meant to live.

beginning, middle and end of maple syrup season

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Maple Syrup Season Ends today!

Ahhh, another maple syrup season has come to a close. I pulled all the taps today and currently finishing off the last 4 gallons of sap collected today. What a bountiful season we had, I hope it is a sign of a good harvest this year as well! The taps and buckets are all scrubbed and ready for next year, though I've decided for sure this year that I'll need to be replacing some of the old rusty taps, they're simply getting worn out.
I've started seedlings in the house again this year, currently hanging out in the sun room and a few early risers have poked their sleepy little heads through the soil a to awaken in the glorious sunshine we had today. Spent most of the day today doing part of the annual spring cleaning of the barn, what a dreaded task that is, but it looks so mice when it's all done, when I was done for the day, I slapped a saddle on Garlic and went for a quick spin, he was as anxious to go as I was and we could have ridden for miles today but alas the fact that we hadn't ridden much this winter caught up with us and kept it short for today.
I am covered in manure, sweat, goat kisses, and dirt; as happy as a clam and ready for a hot shower, warm bed and a good book - or in this case my tractor safety manual. Oh the simple pleasures!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Got Milk?! We do!

good quote

Have we learned anything???

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." - Cicero 55 BC

Nope, guess not, maybe that's why were destined to repeat it...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I think she'll be fine...

...don't you? Venus arrived last night and was honestly very stressed. She'd traveled before to be shown an fairs and has placed quite high in her classes and if I remember correctly at the top in a few even, so that was not the issue. The issue was simply that everything in her world had completely changed. She was born on the farm where I bought her and been cared for her entire life by the same family; one man in particular, and when she was loaded into the back of the truck and brought here everything was drastically different. I unloaded her and walked her into the barn, put her in a stall and stayed with her for a while and watched how she did. I don't like to do this but I put her in quarantine despite the fact that I'm absolutely positive it's unnecessary. Being a herd animal without a herd was not familiar to her and I felt bad, but she seemed to be ok, stressed but ok. This morning I went out to milk, which went surprisingly well despite the fact that she kicked over the milk pail and stepped in what was left, but she was still stressed and I knew why, her world was completely upside down and it broke my heart that she was still so upset, so I did the only thing I could think of to try to help the situation, I put Buckley in with her. Buckley is a good, sweet, and very gentle wether and does not have a mean bone in his body. They went tet a tet for a few minutes then they both realized this was a good thing and decided they'd be friends. Mind you this was after Buckley stopped hiding behind me... Did I mention he's not very brave, not even with his hackles up... Oh Buckley... She stopped screaming and chilled out, her entire disposition relaxed and the frenetic energy gave way to a very peaceful one and I knew all would be well. She laid down and I allowed the kids to come in with us and they went over to her and snuggled with her and she seemed to enjoy this very much.

In a while I'll introduce all the goats and I'm sure there will be a bit more tet a tet, especially when Katie and Venus meet, but it'll all work out, I'm sure of it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meet the Cast - Venus

Our newest cast member arrived on the farm tonight, she come from a long line of star milkers and is a very welcome addition to the farm.

Monday, April 4, 2011

so much for anonymity

I've decided that I am no longer coveting -ahem more correctly working really hard at not coveting a particular piece of property that would be just about perfect for my the kids and I to farm that just happens to be directly attached to our current property. I've decided that it's now a goal, (which is essentially a dream with a deadline) to work toward, Heaven help me! So in order to get to that goal I'd need a tractor as it's a rather large piece of land, I have no experience on a tractor, other than our lawn tractor, which is not nearly the same. Since I have no experience I thought I'd enroll in a tractor safety course offered through the extension office. I did this without telling anyone, expect Ron and the kids, because if I fail I wouldn't have to face up to it and in all likelihood I will fail as I have no way to practice. The class is offered at a very reasonable price so if I fail I can take it again fairly reasonably, but I still didn't want people to know. (One of those vulnerability things.) My kids were visiting their grandparents a couple weekends ago and I stayed home for a very much needed and appreciated quite house, but it came up in conversation that I was taking this class - along with my nephew! I'm glad he is, don't get me wrong, he does a lot of work on a farm and around his home and hopefully we'll both get lots from this class, it just ratcheted up the pressure because somebody knows! Crap! I expected to see him there tonight and was looking forward to seeing a friendly face, what I didn't expect was to see two friendly faces. My father-in-law was there as well, initially I thought he was just dropping my nephew off, but he's taking the class as well. Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet! Now safety is what he taught for quite a long time before retiring recently and is as smart as a whip! (And tells great stories too by the way!) Then I glance over at the registration table and think there is another guy I know, seriously?! At this point I'm starting to look around for the nearest combine to crawl into and hide til it's over. I look at the registration table again to see if I actually do know this guy and he turns around, yup! He's here dropping off his son to take the class! I think it was precisely at that moment I suddenly felt like I was in a pressure cooker! Oh MY Word!!!!

Granted this class is primarily for young teens to get certified so they can legally work on the farms they live on, but I figured there would be at least one person like me... nope, even there I was the only person who was asked why I was there. When the instructor divided up up into two groups to get our hands on a tractor he left me out thinking I was 'just a mom' who's kid was somewhere in the class. He was shocked I was there for the class and I was the only one who didn't have any experience with tractors. Did I mention I wanted to crawl into a combine?! So it's official, I'm the underdog and now y'all know too. Honestly I debated blogging about it to put some pressure on myself to work my butt off and actually pass, but like I mentioned earlier it's a vulnerability thing so I opted not too. But seriously because I don't have a way to practice it's not likely I'm going to pass since the only time I can practice it during class, but I'm going to do my best and I'm not afraid to ask questions if I have them. Wish me luck (not that I believe in luck, it's providence, but how do you say that?!) and hopefully in a few weeks I'll have a new certificate to show y'all!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

40 days, 40 bags Challenge update

Well on my way to 40 bags and will very likely be well over 40 bags very soon! This is starting to feel great! Feeling like I can breathe again!

How are you coming along on yours?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

good quote

"Don't think of money as the final goal, think of it as a way to do a little good in the world."

~Jeff Skoll
founder of ebay