Thursday, March 31, 2011

my kids are such goobs!

Most kids leaf through the toy catalog and make lists of toys they want; not mine, my kids leaf through the seed catalogs making lists of veggies they'll grow, or look over the pile of seed packets on the table reading and dreaming of long summer days and fresh veggies pulled from the soil. Cool!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

something new!

These are what I call my flip side bar, this one is orange on one side and poppy seed on the other. New for the Soap of the Month Club members first, then available to everybody else in April. What do you think?
Also a new soap mold! This is the first batch of soap in them and I'm super happy with it so far. Nice even square bars, all the same weight, size and shape! No more wonky hand cut bars if this works out. Yea! The house smells really nice right now, I just made Spring Rain soap for the club in April, I'm anxious to see how they turn out. Like I've said before, it's better when you have the right tool. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 25, 2011

one of those things

Have you ever done something completely out of anything you ever thought you'd never do? Without thinking about it at the moment, I mean obvious you were aware of what you were doing at the time and all, but I mean, ugh well let me explain...

Growing up I was deathly afraid of guns more because I had no reason to know how to use them so therefore I didn't have any experience with them which in my not so logical head meant I needed to be afraid of them. I'm no longer afraid of them, I have a very healthy respect for them and have learned how to use them properly, I am by no means an expert, but love learning and practicing with them. When we moved here and I acquired livestock, (baby goats in particular, prime targets for an attack) and I heard a pack of coyotes in the area, it occurred to me that if something did happen to my livestock and I couldn't reach the vet I had no way to end the pain and suffering if such was the case. That didn't sit well with me. The thought of having an animal suffer and me not being able to do anything about it didn't sit well either. Sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done, a lesson I've learned well this month. This week I noticed another hen that wasn't quite right and despite my best efforts to make her well she wasn't responding, so I took her out behind the barn and did what needed to be done. No suffering.

All winter long we've had some house guests - unwanted house guests, squirrels, both red and gray. We would be sitting in the living room and hear it or them scratching in the walls or running across the ceiling while sleeping, unnerving and totally annoying! I'd also seen it running along the rafters in the garage and slipping into the crawlspace and disappearing from sight only to be heard later in the walls. In this situation I see no need for a hav-a-heart trap, I do not have a heart. They are the enemy; not only keeping me awake at night which is the same as waking a hibernating bear - taking your life into your own hands, but wreaking havoc in my home. NOT OK! As far as I'm concerned if you are not invited into my home, considered an intruder, you are fair game, future potential pests take note, you've been warned! Now I've come a long way to get to this point, when we first moved in the house had been empty for several months, it was winter and a few mice had taken up residence for some reason in the dishwasher. I'd have chosen the sunroom, it's got a better view, but I'm not a mouse. Anyway, I didn't want to unpack everything until I was rid of the mice. We set traps and catch some, the dogs were not helpful at all, they'd wake us up in the middle of the night barking - at a mouse! (Not amusing!)

Well one night I was up rather late trying to finish up a hat I was knitting and saw the mouse scurry across the kitchen floor so I set another trap and waited. I heard a snap shortly after, fyi, mice cannot scurry past peanut butter... I waited, mostly because I needed to suck it up and go deal with the now dead mouse, gross! So I summoned the courage walked towards it in the kitchen and the trap moved! I let out a squeal and tried not to wake the family. Somehow the trap only caught the mouses leg and the rest of it was trying for all it's might to get under the stove. The trap was wedge shaped and prevented it. Oh great! Now what do I do?! So I debated waking Ron up but know he values his sleep too I opted against it. I thought about leaving it there and thought it would eventually die out of fright or something. That was out too, I just knew I couldn't kill it and wanted it out of the house! Then the wind howled and I decided since it was February and about 100 below zero, (at least it felt that way!) that I could put it in a plastic shopping bag and put it in the snow outside and it would freeze to death, hypothermia would put it to sleep and then kill it. Hey, what do you expect this was my first experience like this?! So I scooped up the trap with mouse dangling and plopped into the bag ran like crazy to the front door and flung it out shuddering all the time and hoping it wouldn't suddenly grow a super-human strength and climb out or something! It was awful!

The next morning I went out to get the trap so in case I needed it I could reuse it, I picked up the bag, very light and carefully peeked inside so as not to grab the dead mouse. I took a second look and saw a hole had been chewed in the side of the bag and the mouse was gone! I reached in for the trap cursing the mouse and trying to figure out how the damn thing had gotten away only to see an itty bitty foot! The mouse had chewed it's own leg off to free it's self from the trap! Besides being totally grossed out, suddenly very queasy, I felt awful. I had never considered that would happen! Who knew?! So after that I had to come up with a better plan for the disposal of mice... Needless to say my mother ribs me about "stumpy the mouse" occasionally and I no longer knowingly put them in a situation to chew off a leg to escape death.

Which brings me back to today, I was in the garage boiling sap and enjoying the day when Harley, (our boxer) noticed a red squirrel walking into the garage until it realized we were in there. It scurried up the nearest pine tree. I called the dog off and ran inside to get the rifle, loaded it with .22 shot shells; which if you are unfamiliar are like a shot gun shell but WAY smaller! They are small little bb type things in a hard plastic shell which when fired spray out like a shot gun. I've been told it's what animal control officers use in situations like this. Cocked the rifle on the way out, hoping the entire time I'd get the shot to rid myself of this pest and it would not be brazen enough to make it into the house during this time. I looked up into the tree, saw it perched on a branch that was not protected like other branches would have been, looked around and behind the target making sure it was clear, took the safety off, lined up the sights, took a deep breath, let it out and squeezed the trigger. The gun fired and the red squirrel dropped and it was over all in the same second. I watched it for a minute to make sure that it was dead then went a few steps closer to it and fired again, just for good measure. I was thankful for all the practicing I had done, thankful I'd gotten it on the first shot and it wasn't suffering or trying to run away, Thankful that all the teaching that my dad has taught me came into play, the sight picture, the breathing, squeezing the trigger steadily not jerking it, the breathing, the breathing, the breathing. Thankful that I'd been calm enough to remember all that and the training at the class I took about knowing not only what the target is but what's in front of and behind it as well. Thankful for the clear shot and that it hadn't moved or gone back into my home.

For me the preventing suffering yesterday was entirely different from this. I mean essentially it the exact same thing, taking a life of another living creature, not something I take lightly or want to do, but when it comes to protecting my home from a potential fire caused by a squirrel chewing the wires or what have you I'd do it again, no doubt.

After it was done I thought about what I had just done and was a bit taken aback, I realized I'd just done one of those things that I never thought I'd ever do! It kind of shocked me a bit!

Faith And Andrew have been big fans of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Pocahontas, etc. lately and thought they would like to try to skin it and tan the pelt and dissect it because they love anatomy and figuring out how things are similar and different as well as how it all works together. I obliged them - supervising of course! Oddly enough it was Faith that really enjoyed it and Andrew who got a wee bit queasy, not that I can blame him, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea either, I prefer chai! They did not just 'hack it up, they were truly dissecting it and investigating it all and in a weird way I was proud of their curiosity. Faith excitedly said to Andrew, "Hey Andrew let's see if we can find the trachea!" Not a normal exclamation for a girl her age, but.... they found a peculiar red and white organ which if I remember correctly was part of his 'squirrelhood' and they could tell the difference between the pancreas, kidneys and lungs. You cannot imagine how long the 'small' intestines were, WOW! I'm not sure if the pelt will come out and actually be usable; or even what they'd use it for, but the fact that they tried is one of those things that I love about my kids!

next year I'll have to hang them higher!

Buckley has discovered just how good sap tastes! And how to get the lids up to get to it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

good quote

"There is something in every one of us that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all your life spend your days on the ends of strings that are being pulled by somebody else."

-Howard Thurman

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I'll make a farmer out of him yet!!! (wink wink)

* photo credit R. Libby

Another friend of mine has Nubian goats on her farm and being that it's the kidding season; everywhere except here... ::sigh:: ...I thought I'd pop in for a minute and take a quick peek at the kids born this past Tuesday, (another little black doe... ::sigh::) and lo and behold she'd had two more sets of twin does born today! So naturally I had to see them too...... Ron shocked the heck out of me when he said he'd like to go too, and not surprising all the babies flocked to him. :-) I love that about him, all babies seem to love him... Actually Ron's response to me making a farmer out of him was 'he can be an animal lover without being a farmer.' That's fine, I'm not trying to force him to be anything he doesn't want to be. God on the other hand may say differently... ;-)

The kids in the above picture are just a couple hours old and were adorable wobbling about on those long legs of theirs, and toppling over when they sneezed.

* photo credit R. Libby

Then there is this guy, whom Mom calls Hiram. No, he's not wearing dentures or those silly Halloween teeth or have a crazy under bite, it was just a fluke that this was the way his mouth was when the picture was snapped, but it's so funny I had to share it with you. Doesn't it make you laugh?!
* photo credit Ron Dexter

And there is this little one, such a sweetie, just a little bity doeling who just may have to be a future cast member... :-)

With all the does being born this year and the fact that one of the bucks I used - er well, that was used on my does generally throws girls I'm optimistic that we'll get at least one doe, I hope! But we'll find out for sure in about 2 weeks!

It's here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spring has FINALLY arrived! Welcome glorious Spring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

our moon

Isn't this amazing?

Didn't He do a wonderful job?

Friday, March 18, 2011

the blessing of a good friend

It's been a rough week; loosing Coreah was by far the hardest part, then not being able to bury her until the following day, my truck breaking down on the way to see a friends newborn baby goats, Ron's computers hard drive crashed, and even saying that makes me feel awful to even think of complaining. I know it could be worse, I could live in Japan, Libya, Afghanistan, etc. my heart goes out to those people, I cannot imagine the heartbreak and devastation they are dealing with. That being said, I still hurt but I still have so much to be thankful for and will be just fine because I know Coreah is in a better place and no longer in pain. We were able to bury her here on the farm and up near the entrance to the farm to greet visitors (in spirit obviously) as they arrive as she would have in real life. The truck was able to be fixed and we had the money. The hard drive was backed up and a new one will be here next week and Ron (thankfully he's a computer whiz!) can install it and all will be well, and we had the money for that as well. I think it was Flylady that said "if money will fix it, it is not a problem." (If it wasn't her then it was at her website that I first read it.) So I'm good! And once again, thank you for all your kind words and support, it really means a lot to me.

Despite the rough week, it ended on a positive note! It was our homeschool co-op day today and as usual we were running a bit behind schedule; but when we arrived, the friend whose goats I was headed over to see when the truck broke had her son outside the building next to their car and he was motioning for us to come over to the car with a big grin on his face. I hurried over to the car and peeked in only to find two of the most adorable goat babies I've seen, well since Katie and Buckley were born! OH! MY! GOODNESS!!! A little black doe, (which is something I've wanted since I first saw one a few years back, as well as a doe with lots of moonspots, but I digress) and a slightly larger silvery-gray buckling! Talk about cute and I was in the midst of adoring them so much I forgot to take a picture or 20! Can you believe it?! Me, the picture taking fool! My friend walked back out to the parking lot to take in another load of stuff and was ready for the babies to be brought in and adored my me, oh I mean all the kids at co-op. She teasingly asked me what I'd found and I hopped up and down with childish delight.

Mind you this friend of mine has to be just about the nicest person I've ever met! A genuine honest to goodness wonderful human being and as thoughtful as the day is long. She even made a raspberry pie to serve while I was getting my baby goat fix on Saturday, which never ended up happening because of the truck. :-( She made it because she knows I love (that's a huge understatement!) raspberry pie! It's that kind of thoughtfulness that makes me adore her.

I offered to help take one of the goats inside and talked with this friend of mine on the way into the building feeling like a small child at Christmas, knowing she'd gone out of her way to make this happen and the work it took to pull it off. I was so touched I nearly cried. She just knew I'd love to see them and that the kids at the co-op would as well, we all very much appreciated her effort and thoughtfulness. I didn't realize when we joined the co-op last year that I would receive such a blessing from it as well. The blessing of a friendship like this.

When we're having a rough go of it lots of us reach out for that food that brings us such comfort, it might be mac 'n cheese, a bowl of cereal, garlic bread, chocolate cake or what have you. For me tonight it was a stir-fry. This is SOOOOOO delicious and soooooooo comforting, you outta try it.

All you do is pour some oil in a skillet or pan and heat it up, toss in some cubed firm tofu and let is cook. I like to let it get a sort of crust-y thing going on on each side, so I cook it until it does this. I just like a little crunch.
Then I toss in some veggies, tonight I used onions and frozen broccoli. You could use; and I have, snap peas, cabbage, diced or julienne carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, what have you, mix it up and get creative! Let it cook, covered, until the onions are soft and the broccoli is thawed, firm, and not overcooked but is thawed and has a bit of a 'bite' to it.

Stir it up! Let it cook and get happy!
Add some soy sauce and continue to get happy!
Then add the 'quick cook' veggies and seasonings, like garlic and cayenne pepper. Feel free to mix it up, this is what my family likes, so I go with it. This time I had carrots; purple, yellow and white, so I used them. Can you smell this cooking yet?! It's so easy and so yummy! Stir, cover again and cook until the carrots are slightly limp, just a few minutes.
Then open the cover take a deep breath and enjoy. This can be eaten with brown rice, quinoa, or by itself. It's the perfect warm bowl of comfort; a little greasy, a little spicy, a little salty, a little crunchy, a whole lotta YUM!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

tip of the day

Now is not the time to be wearing lipstick, chap stick, or basically lip anything. The animals are shedding!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a new skill...

Since we were in need of his services again and the kids were here to watch him; again, our neighbor with the trusty backhoe asked about the kids not being in school. I told him they were homeschooled. He smiled and said 'well who's going to beat you up then?' I said "Oh, you mean 'socialize' them." He chuckled and said 'yeah, socialize them.' We further discussed it then he got ready to dig a hole to bury Coreah. Then he talked to the kids about the backhoe and showed them some things about how it operated, then he let them try it! Faith was up first and was a but timid, I think she was slightly fearful she'd break it, but enjoyed her time up there.
That's my girl! Way to go Faith!

Then Andrew climbed up and I think he'd have spent the entire day up there. He was not timid at all. Climbing down he said to me "WOW that was fun!"
I was secretly hoping he'd ask if I'd like a go at it but sadly I did not get a chance. Honestly though I don't know if my state of mind was in the right place, it was a really bad day for me.

How many kids do you know that have had their own private lesson on a backhoe? I know only two! Oh the blessings of being able to homeschool!

Who knew food could make me this happy?

Ok, I'll admit it. Dunkin' Donuts is not officially on the Dave Ramsey plan, but sometimes a girl just needs a little nosh. Originally I went through the drive-through for a muffin, a (thankfully) limited time triple chocolate muffin, but was informed that they no longer carried them. So I opted for a bagel, the multi-grain one, they were out of that as well. Ugh! At this point one would have thought it was not in the cards for me but on no, stubborn me had to eat, so the guy listed all the kinds they had and the garlic bagel stuck out and sounded scrumptious, so I ordered it. They toasted it and put cream cheese on it for me too, YUM!


This is the most delicious thing I've had in a long time! Now normally I'm one of those people who has a kitchen because it came with the house, not so much a fan of the cooking, just think how much more you could do or do without if you didn't have to cook.....

....ah, I imagine a day like that...

now back to reality, I have a family that enjoys eating, though I cannot figure out what it is about my cooking they like.

Other than having someone else prepare this for me I think my favorite thing about this is the crunchy garlic chopped up and spread all over the top. It's a very aromatic delight for the nose and my mouth which is watering for one right now! Combine the taste, crunch and warmth of this delicious bagel with a tall glass of Tazo organic iced tea and you've got a little piece of Heaven right here on Earth! Who knew a little slice of Heaven could be found right here on Earth or make me this happy?!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Never Forgotten

Loyal. Heart of Gold. Protector. Happy. Deeply loved and sadly missed. Rest peacefully sweet Coreah, job well done.

We are deeply grieving the loss of our beloved bulldog Coreah today. It was a rough weekend for her; and in part a rough winter too, so we took her to the vet again this morning and made an unbelievably hard decision to have her put down, it was not easy and not what I expected, but once again it was the right decision. I haven't stopped crying yet. Yet in my grieving I am so thankful for that dog and the additional years she gave us after we moved to the farm. We thought we were going to lose her right before we moved here, but at that time I didn't have the heart to put her down, it was Christmas time and we were moving and I just couldn't do it. I'm glad I didn't too, as once we moved here it was like a switch was flipped and she made an about face and was 'like new,' it was wonderful. We've been here for 4 years and I dare say these were the best 4 years of her life, so much room to run, so many sticks to "Buzz-saw Louie" through and oh the glorious sunshine! How she loved to shred a tree in the sunshine with her 'pack' surrounding her!

She was stubborn and made me work for pack leader position but was content to follow when I assumed that postion, yes she tested me occasionally, making sure I really wanted the position, but I do love a challenge. She was the first dog I've had and because of her I earned my first trophy in an American Bulldog show. I'll also have you know we almost took grand champion at that class but the judge said she was a couple pounds heavier than he'd like to see, but that was how he made the final determination. I was overjoyed and will remember that for the rest of my life.

Once she herded my niece back into our driveway when she wandered into the street, Coreah is not a herder by nature, but she was protective of all who were entrusted to her care and protect them she did. We had a guy walk across our porch and nearly into our home (in a drunken stooper) until Coreah prevented him from taking another step. Thank you for your protection.

Coreah was a sweet and gentle dog and looked like if she was so inclined she could rip into you but that was not the case at all, she considered herself an 85 pound lapdog. Many an evening did she like to sit with Ron in his recliner and have her belly rubbed. She'd climb up into the chair with him flip herself backwards onto his chest and grin from ear to ear while he rubbed her belly even to the discomfort of having an 85 pound dog on his chest.

It wasn't the same while cooking dinner tonight without her feet scuffing like a moody teenager to bring her nose and belly to the kitchen to sit in the exact spot I'd be in next. Harley got to lick the entire dish when Ron put it down for her and didn't have to share. In fact when we returned home with Coreah, I took her out to the car to see Coreah. She jumped into the car and sniffed her face, licked her ears then looked at me with a look I've never seen from her. She stood over her for a long time and kept looking up the driveway as if she was expecting someone to return, she looked at me again, then laid down beside her and sighed. I let her stay there until she was ready to come back inside with me. All afternoon she's paced and looked for Coreah and gone to the door and looked out, I'm not sure what she's feeling, but I know she's joining us in the grieving.

Thank you Coreah for your love, loyalty, protection and your sweet gentle giant spirit. I love you and will miss you forever. Job well done sweet sweet Beast. Rest in peace.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

mergers, acquisitions & reputations

It might seem odd to you that I'd be posting a picture of my latest acquisition; especially while I'm doing a major purge, but I'm so excited about this I just have to share it! My mother-in-law has a vase like this that she sets on a round mirror and fills with pansies and from the first moment I saw hers I'd wanted one, it's lovely! I'd looked everywhere for one and for years have not been able to find one, well no longer do I have to look, I found one! I'm so excited! Now I cannot wait to go into the garden and pick pansies to place inside it!

On another note, regarding reputation...
Apparently I have a reputation for being a crafty/creative person, it's an accurate reputation and I'm glad to have it. I enjoy crafting, Faith and Andrew enjoy crafting and with no TV we are finding more time to do all sorts of things. I recently told a friend of mine whom I'd not seen for a while that we'd given up TV, with a stunned expression on her face asked if I was happy with this. I smiled and said, "Indeed we are!" This past Thursday I was given two large totes of craft supplies from my sister-in-law who had recently done a major purge at her house, and several shoebox sized totes and a few paper bags of counted cross-stitch supplies from my grandmother who due to issues with her eyes can no longer cross-stitch. I started showing both children how to do it last weekend and Faith has really taken to it. It's her speed and type of thing. Andrew tried it too as there wasn't much else going on, it was wet and raining and it 'looked easy' so about 20 minutes into it he was close to exploding with tension. He did enjoy trying it but he's such a go go go kind of guy, get it done zip zap and move right into the next thing this was not his thing. Faith has steadily plodded along and finished hers and had since started a second project which has Andrew fit to be tied. He will finish his, being as competitive as he is.

I'm thankful that we were given all these supplies and will certainly use them for a variety of things, so at the moment I'm working on sorting them and merging them with the other craft supplies I have.

And a confession, as you may be aware, I'm working on a 40 day 40 bag purge. It's going well, I purged two bags on each of the first two days, didn't actually purge anything for the next two days, but gave some thought as to what I would be purging then today purged 10 bags! So I'm feeling good about it and really like where this is headed. I was really on a roll today and I'm thinking that the dogs were worried they might be next! So I'm at 12 bags in 5 days - how about you?

Friday, March 11, 2011

20 minutes of your time well spent!

visit to the vet

What is it about taking a dog to the vet for a semi-emergent vet visit and shelling out over 330.00 that makes you look and feel like the reason you were calling the vet in the first place?!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

40 days, 40 bags Challenge starts NOW!

A fresh new spring season is upon us and with that comes a challenge from a fellow blogger that I'll be participating in. Stuff is everywhere in all aspects of our lives in our homes, cars, lives, bodies, heads etc. What this challenge does is gives us a fresh perspective to look at our homes and challenges us to see if all the stuff we have is really stuff we need, love or even want any longer. I for one am looking forward to participating, if you are interested in taking a look or interested in doing this yourself take a peek over at this blog and join in! But here's how it works in a nutshell, from now until Easter -for forty days, our goal is to go through every room in our homes and touch everything, decide if it's something you can live without or if it is something you love and to really pare down, to get rid of the clutter that takes up space in our homes. Then once the clutter is gone and our homes are decluttered we can put a 'spit-shine' on our homes and have a fresh new look for Spring. Let's all see if we can get 40 bags in 40 days!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maple Syrup Season Starts Today!

I'm hopeful for a good season. Last year was very short.......but sweet.

good quote

"To ride a horse well, you have to know it as well as your best friend."

-Katie Monahan Prudent

Monday, March 7, 2011

good things about March

  • Usually when it comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb. Since I'm expecting kids at the beginning of April let's hope for this year that is the case.
  • Maple Syrup season!!! Have not set out taps yet; soon, very soon!
  • Army Wives (on the Lifetime network) starts! Cannot wait to see last nights episode later today! Can be watched online since we gave up cable.
  • beginning of Spring!
I'm sure there are lots more, but since the weather spoiled my plans for today I'm very grumpy about March. Just wasn't meant to be today I guess.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

because my darling, you're getting a bargain

I love my sister, I really do, even when she gets annoyed with me because in my life it is so hard to make plans for pretty much anything. I'll admit, I've never been really good at planning or much of a planner but know that sometimes having a plan works and is a good thing, like getting out of debt, it's a great plan, and we're getting there. She's a planner to the nth degree, I respect that, I get it, but even when I try to make a plan it's likely to be unattainable, for example the past 24 hours... grab a cup of your favorite beverage and settle in, you're in for a wild ride!

We were all set to head out the door to go to the feed store, grocery store, errands and to pay some bills yesterday afternoon when Andrew ran to the bathroom with a bout of "intestinal distress" so we decided to forgo the trip to town and stay near the toilet, er I mean home. Not a huge deal right? I decided I could just go tomorrow and it wouldn't really be an issue, so that's what I planned to do. At some point during the afternoon I think to myself, 'It's been a while since I did any knitting, I should try to finish up that second sock tonight.' I'd been reading and getting some things that needed being done on the computer which is much easier to do with the new laptop I might add, which hadn't left a lot of time for knitting so I planned to get to that after dinner and evening barn chores. When we got the the chicken coop we found a hen in obvious distress. She was separated from the rest of the flock and very droopy. I scooped her up and brought her into the house. I noticed she was as light as a feather; quite literally, and set her in a cat carrier until I finished the barn chores and could get to her. When I came back in I palpated her abdomen to see if she was egg bound but quickly discovered that was not the case. Leghorns; as she was, are not known for being especially winter hardy for this area, but it's not unheard of to have them in a laying flock here and we have two others that are doing just fine. I whipped up a batch of the only thing I could think of to get into her; warm water, sugar and a dash of salt, which is what I'd had success with in the past with a couple chicks we almost lost. I also made a batch of warm oatmeal, chopped apples, flax seed and apple cider vinegar. I'd read recently in a Mother Earth email where that worked for another flock keeper especially with the colder temps we've had recently, I figured I'd give it a try. So when the oatmeal was ready and cooling I took an eyedropper and tried to get a bit of warm sugar water into her as she would not drink it on her own. She was not interested in the oatmeal either.

Some may say I spoil my animals, and to that I say, "Well, that may be how you feel and that's fine, but as a caretaker of creation I feel it's my job to do what I can for the animals entrusted to my care. Besides, they spoil me with fresh eggs every day!" My gut told me that we would lose this poor girl but still I tried, sliding my fingernail against her beak to open her mouth and get the liquid into her, she swallowed, opened her eyes, looked at me and shut them again. Several times we did this but it was no use, she passed sometime in the night. I stayed up with her for a while and had her wrapped in a towel to help keep her warm. Needless to say, I did not get to the knitting last night.

When I woke up this morning I checked in on her and found her gone and felt sad because I couldn't 'fix it.' Later I headed out to the barn for morning chores, rolled back the door, looked down and saw water, quickly thinking it was strange to see that there as it hadn't started thawing yet, then looked down the rest of the isle and was devastated! The pipe had burst in the barn and was spewing water everywhere and obviously had been for sometime! It's an odd time for the pipe to have burst as we've not been using it since sometime in December, but it happened and now I had to deal with the issue now at hand. I ran back into the house and shut off the main water supply as it was the only one I knew where it was, I looked around for the barn shut off and could not locate it then went back to the barn to survey the damage come up with a plan.

Garlic peeking his head inside the barn trying to figure out what happened and why it is interfering with his breakfast! The center isle of the barn was completely flooded as were all the stalls! Standing water mid calf deep in some places!
At some point I went back into the house and called Ron, not expecting him to wave a magic wand from his office to make it all better, but just to have him listen for a minute, I was stressed! (Afterward I felt like an idiot for calling him at work because I didn't want him -or anybody for that matter- to think I couldn't handle this...) Then I quickly called my mom because I needed to laugh about this, before I cried. I detest crying! We had a good chuckle too!

I fed the animals outside in the paddocks instead of the stalls and once they were fed they seemed not so worried about the whole flooded barn thing. Then the kids and I grabbed buckets and started bailing the water out bucketful by bucketful.

As much as I miss Hyacinth I'm so glad that she was not here for this, I cannot imagine how horrible it would have been for her to have had to deal with this! It was at that point I realized the grace and mercy I was seeing and that was the beginning of my thankfulness. I was thankful Hyacinth was not here, she would not have been able to escape the rising water the way the other goats did. I was thankful I hadn't thrown hay down from the loft last night like I needed to. I was thankful I hadn't made it to the feed store and had had bags of beet pulp, grain and alfalfa cubes that would have been ruined. I'm glad the other goats had deep bedding that made an island type situation to keep them out of the water. I'm thankful if wasn't more water that had spewed out. I'm thankful I'd put a raised floor in the chicken coop instead of them being on the dirt floor where they may have drowned if they hadn't been able to get up to the perches. I'm thankful for the flat edged cat litter buckets which made bailing the barn easier. I'm thankful that I'd purchased a new muck bucket a few weeks ago so we could throw all the soaking wet hay into and lug it out easier; the metal one we used to have rusted out a while ago, and for the new muck fork Ron gave me for Christmas. Thankful for the tall rubber boots all three of us had so we could work and not have soaked feet. Thankful for the thin wool socks I'd knit last year to wear in those boots! Thankful that it wasn't a barn fire, just some flooding!

I was feeling so blessed that I was not expected at a j.o.b. somewhere and could deal with this situation and not feel like I might loose that j.o.b. because of it. Thankful that I had the kids to help me get the barn bailed out. I was thankful for so many things today and saw the mercy of God and His protection in all of this.

How does that saying go, 'work at doing something you love and you'll never work a day in your life.' or something like that. I don't know who said it but it's very apropos to today. We were in the barn cleaning up from the flooding for most of the day, and though it wasn't the most fun task I've had to do on the farm it didn't seem like work either. Andrew loved it though! It also got me thinking about small farmers, like myself (some people may not consider me a farmer and I'm ok with that, I've never lived my life by someone else's definition and I have no intention of starting now. Incidentally I believe these people would also say I'm spoiling my chickens.). Thinking how much of what we as farmers do is a labor of love and how we choose to live this life because we cannot imagine doing anything else or want to do anything else. How many people do you know would want or choose to spend a day in March (read really cold day) in Maine bailing out a barn that is completely flooded? How many would feel happy doing it because it means you are exactly where you were meant to be and doing something you love and cannot fathom doing anything else? See what I mean, a labor of love? I'm so thankful that I do not have to do Ron's job, I've peeked over his shoulder a couple time when he works from home, he's tried to explain what he's doing and mercifully stops when I start twitching and I shudder to think about having to do that. I'm so glad he enjoys his job and loves doing it but am thankful I do not have to do it, on the same hand I think he's glad he does not have to do mine.

I was watching a news clip recently about the struggling dairy farmers here in Maine and one farmer was interviewed and talked about how he didn't think that many people knew how little farmers make, what they actually live on. He said his farm yearly took in over $750,000.00 but netted around $20,000.00 that's what he and his family live on. Would you choose that? What would you do if you had to live on that or provide your own food? Would you consider paying a higher price for a gallon of milk, a pound of bacon, or an ear of corn a bargain of it meant you didn't have to invest your time in it? Why should a farmer (or soldier for that matter) work so hard and have to live on so little? What is the cost of that bargain? I am fortunate that Ron's job is what we live on and it has good benefits but I would like to get to the point of... well honestly I'm not sure, just further along that where I am with the farm currently.

Ron surprised me midday by coming home to help and with the help of a water pump he just picked up at Tractor Supply. I mentioned above that I think he's glad he doesn't have to do my job, farming is not 'his thing' which made his effort and willingness to help even more appreciated. His damsel was in distress and he was on his way. He changed out of his work clothes and put on some clothes to work in. Took the pump out of the car, read the instructions and lugged it to the barn to fire it up. Ron is a rule follower, me not so much, which makes the fact that the pump would not stay on even more frustrating, he followed the instructions to a t and every time he got it started and it was sucking water it would just die. Needless to say it'll be returned tomorrow. So I continued to use the buckets to bail the water out, knowing the weather was to turn very cold tonight, like -2! I had to get it done.

And we did! Then I decided to figure out what happened, which is when I discovered the burst pipe. (no idea why this is suddenly underlining itself.)

The barn water hose after the heat tape (which had stopped working), insulation and (burst) pipe were removed. It was tough because the temperature was dropping and everything was all wet which made our fingers freezing cold! I'd been through three pairs of gloves already! Ron and I muscled the old pipe off so I could take it to the local hardware store to get a replacement, because if we didn't get this fixed we had no water in the house until we could get a plumber out here to fix it!
Ron put the new pipe back on and I wrapped the heat tape around it and insulated it and we were good to go, hopefully not have to deal with this again for a while, or at least until we get a frost free hydrant!
We came in from the barn, thawed slightly and I cooked a huge pot of quinoa, stir-fried some veggies to add to it and looked forward to eating it. On one of the trips inside to the bathroom, or to get a drink, to warm up or something today, I ran to the basement, grabbed a frozen chicken from the freezer and stuck it in the crock-pot with a little water and an onion. It wasn't fancy, or the best thing I've ever made, but it was warm and there were a few other things that needed some serious attention.

So there you have it, another day in the life of this small farm farmer. A day for me that is not really unlike any other day really. I didn't go looking for a handout, grant, bailout, subsidy or any other 'out,' most small farmers I know don't. We just do what needs doing because it needs doing; so please remember that next time you're at a farmers market, joining a CSA, or stopping at a farm stand. The farmer may sell eggs for 4.00 a dozen or a pound of meat may very well be 7.00, the CSA share might run a couple hundred dollars and there is a reason for it. The reason is my darling, you're getting a bargain!